So okay, the headline is a little alarmist. I should probably say “Rising C02 levels” rather than “global warming” and “rising in spite of any efforts to stop them” instead of “no turning back”. But that will hardly make people read about this new study.
Tim Garret, a physicist specializing in Atmospheric research, has created a new model predicting the amount of C02 that civilization produces. He models it on some specific and mostly obvious assumptions. Admittedly his first one, that conservation does not slow energy use, it accelerates it in overall terms is counterintuitive, but defensible.
Using these assumptions he’s created a mathematical model that attempts to predict the future effect of a number of possible changes we might make in response to a rise in C02 levels. In essence he’s created an economic model, but used typical physicist assumptions in that he’s views civilization as a heat engine rather than an ensemble of rational actors. Not all economists think his contribution has any value.
But, that aside, his model does make some depressing predictions:
“Garrett says often-discussed strategies for slowing carbon dioxide emissions and global warming include mention increased energy efficiency, reduced population growth and a switch to power sources that don’t emit carbon dioxide, including nuclear, wind and solar energy and underground storage of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning. Another strategy is rarely mentioned: a decreased standard of living, which would occur if energy supplies ran short and the economy collapsed, he adds.
‘Fundamentally, I believe the system is deterministic,’ says Garrett. ‘Changes in population and standard of living are only a function of the current energy efficiency. That leaves only switching to a non-carbon-dioxide-emitting power source as an available option.’
‘The problem is that, in order to stabilize emissions, not even reduce them, we have to switch to non-carbonized energy sources at a rate about 2.1 percent per year. That comes out to almost one new nuclear power plant per day.'”
Read the full article here.
The suggestion that we need to create that many new nuke plants is probably already moot given this news.