In the early 70s the Club of Rome sponsored the book Limits to Growth. The book predicted a collapse within a century. It has been criticized and largely forgotten as most people tend to believe we'll engineer ourselves out of any materials or food scarcity - econmic growth forever.
The task was very ambitious. The team tracked industrialisation, population, food, use of resources, and pollution. They modelled data up to 1970, then developed a range of scenarios out to 2100, depending on whether humanity took serious action on environmental and resource issues. If that didn’t happen, the model predicted “overshoot and collapse” – in the economy, environment and population – before 2070. This was called the “business-as-usual” scenario.
The book’s central point, much criticised since, is that “the earth is finite” and the quest for unlimited growth in population, material goods etc would eventually lead to a crash.
So were they right? We decided to check in with those scenarios after 40 years. Dr Graham Turner gathered data from the UN (its department of economic and social affairs, Unesco, the food and agriculture organisation, and the UN statistics yearbook). He also checked in with the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the BP statistical review, and elsewhere. That data was plotted alongside the Limits to Growth scenarios.
The results show that the world is tracking pretty closely to the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario. The data doesn’t match up with other scenarios.
These graphs show real-world data (first from the MIT work, then from our research), plotted in a solid line. The dotted line shows the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario out to 2100. Up to 2010, the data is strikingly similar to the book’s forecasts.
Annual wind power capacity additions in the United States were modest in 2013, but all signals point to more-robust growth in 2014 and 2015. With the industry’s primary federal support—the production tax credit (PTC)—only available for projects that had begun construction by the end of 2013, the next couple years will see those projects commissioned. Near-term wind additions will also be driven by recent improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies. At the same time, the prospects for growth beyond 2015 are uncertain. The PTC has expired, and its renewal remains in question. Continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand growth, and limited near-term demand from state renewables portfolio standards (RPS) have also put a damper on industry growth expectations. These trends, in combination with increasingly global supply chains, continue to impact domestic manufacturing of wind equipment. What they mean for wind power additions through the end of the decade and beyond will be dictated in part by future natural gas prices, fossil plant retirements, and policy decisions. At the same time, recent declines in wind energy costs and prices and the potential for continued technological advancements have boosted future growth prospects.
Key findings from this year’s Wind Technologies Market Report include: Installation Trends
• Wind power additions stalled in 2013, with only 1,087 MW of new capacity added in the United States and $1.8 billion invested. Wind power installations in 2013 were just 8% of those seen in the record year of 2012. Cumulative wind power capacity grew by less than 2% in 2013, bringing the total to 61 GW.
• Wind power represented 7% of U.S. electric-generating capacity additions in 2013. Overall, wind power ranked fourth in 2013 as a source of new generation capacity, standing in stark contrast to 2012 when it represented the largest source of new capacity in the United States. The 2013 result is also a notable departure from the six years preceding 2013 during which wind constituted between 25% and 43% of capacity additions in each year. Since 2007, wind power has represented 33% of all U.S. capacity additions, and an even larger fraction of new generation capacity in the Interior (54%) and Great Lakes (48%) regions. Its contribution to generation capacity growth over that period is somewhat smaller in the West and Northeast (both 29%), and considerably less in the Southeast (2%).
• The United States fell to sixth place in annual wind additions in 2013, and was well behind the market leaders in wind energy penetration. After leading the world in annual wind power additions from 2005 through 2008, and then narrowly regaining the lead in 2012, in 2013 the United States represented only 3% of global additions. In terms of cumulative capacity, the United States remained the second leading market. A number of countries are beginning to achieve high levels of wind penetration: end-of-2013 installed wind power is estimated to supply the equivalent of 34% of Denmark’s electricity demand and approximately 20% of Spain, Portugal and Ireland’s demand. In the United States, the wind power capacity installed by the end of 2013 is estimated, in an average year, to equate to nearly 4.5% of electricity demand.
The Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy (ACME) project is a newly launched project sponsored by the Earth System Modeling program within DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research. ACME is an unprecedented collaboration among eight national laboratories, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, four academic institutions, and one private-sector company to develop and apply the most complete, leading-edge climate and Earth system models to the most challenging and demanding climate- change research imperatives. It is the only major national modeling project designed to address U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) mission needs and efficiently utilize DOE Leadership Computing resources now and in the future. While the project’s capabilities will address the critical science questions articulated in this plan, its modeling system and related capabilities also can be flexibly applied by the DOE research community to address mission-specific climate change applications, such as those identified in the report, U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather.
The remainder of this section provides an overview of the ACME project strategy. Section 2 articulates our science priorities and the short- and long-range plans to address them. Section 3 provides more detail on the computational research challenges the project faces as we move Earth system modeling onto the new disruptive architectures. Our scientific metrics of model performance are described in section 4. Section 5 describes the initial construction of the software engineering and workflow infrastructure needed to support the ACME project. Finally, section 6 addresses the changes in the ACME management structure and function that resulted from the peer review.
1.1 The ACME Vision
The Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy Project is an ongoing, state-of-the-science Earth system modeling, simulation, and prediction project that optimizes the use of DOE laboratory resources to meet the science needs of the nation and the mission needs of DOE. In this context, “laboratory resources” include the people, programs, and facilities, current and future. They collectively represent a unique combination of scientific and engineering expertise as well as leadership computing and information technologies required to construct, maintain, and advance an Earth system modeling capability that is needed by the country and DOE. A major motivation for the ACME project is the coming paradigm shift in computing architectures and their related programming models as capability moves into the exascale era. DOE, through its science programs and early adoption of new computing architectures, traditionally leads many scientific communities, including climate and Earth system simulation, through these disruptive changes in computing.
1.2 The ACME Ten-Year Goal
Over the next 10 years, the ACME project will assert and maintain an international scientific leadership position in the development of Earth system and climate models at the leading edge of scientific knowledge and computational capabilities. With its collaborators, it will demonstrate its leadership by using these models to achieve the goal of designing, executing, and analyzing climate and Earth system simulations that address the most critical scientific questions for the nation and DOE.
Effects of biomass burning on climate, accounting for heat and moisture fluxes, black and brown carbon, and cloud absorption effects
Mark Z. Jacobson1
1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
This paper examines the effects on climate and air pollution of open biomass burning (BB) when heat and moisture fluxes, gases and aerosols (including black and brown carbon, tar balls, and reflective particles), cloud absorption effects (CAEs) I and II, and aerosol semidirect and indirect effects on clouds are treated. It also examines the climate impacts of most anthropogenic heat and moisture fluxes (AHFs and AMFs). Transient 20 year simulations indicate BB may cause a net global warming of ~0.4 K because CAE I (~32% of BB warming), CAE II, semidirect effects, AHFs (~7%), AMFs, and aerosol absorption outweigh direct aerosol cooling and indirect effects, contrary to previous BB studies that did not treat CAEs, AHFs, AMFs, or brown carbon. Some BB warming can be understood in terms of the anticorrelation between instantaneous direct radiative forcing (DRF) changes and surface temperature changes in clouds containing absorbing aerosols. BB may cause ~250,000 (73,000–435,000) premature mortalities/yr, with >90% from particles. AHFs from all sources and AMFs + AHFs from power plants and electricity use each may cause a statistically significant +0.03 K global warming. Solar plus thermal-IR DRFs were +0.033 (+0.027) W/m2 for all AHFs globally without (with) evaporating cooling water, +0.009 W/m2 for AMFs globally, +0.52 W/m2 (94.3% solar) for all-source BC outside of clouds plus interstitially between cloud drops at the cloud relative humidity, and +0.06 W/m2 (99.7% solar) for BC inclusions in cloud hydrometeor particles. Modeled post-1850 biomass, biofuel, and fossil fuel burning, AHFs, AMFs, and urban surfaces accounted for most observed global warming.