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Earth Power Science Technology

'Moore's Law' For Carbon Would Defeat Global Warming (technologyreview.com) 269

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: A streamlined set of goals for reducing carbon emissions could simplify the way nations approach the quest to reduce human impact on the planet. A group of European researchers have a refreshingly straightforward solution that they call a carbon law -- or, as the Guardian has coined it, a "Moore's law for carbon." The overarching goal is simple: globally, we must halve carbon dioxide emissions every decade. That's essentially it. The rule would ideally be applied "to all sectors and countries at all scales," and would encourage "bold action in the short term." Dramatic changes would naturally have to occur as a result -- from quick wins like carbon taxes and energy efficiency regulations, to longer-term policies like phasing out combustion-engine cars and carbon-neutral building regulations. If policy makers followed the carbon law, adoption of renewables would continue its current pace of doubling energy production every 5.5 years, and carbon dioxide sequestration technologies would need to ramp up in order for the the planet to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, say the researchers. Along the way, coal use would end as soon as 2030 and oil use by 2040. There are, clearly, issues with the idea, not least being the prospect of convincing every nation to commit to such a vision. The very simplicity that makes the idea compelling can also be used as a point of criticism: Can such a basic rule ever hope to define practical ideas as to how to change the world's energy production and consumption? The study has been published in the journal Science.
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'Moore's Law' For Carbon Would Defeat Global Warming

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:10PM (#54106491)
    Moores law for transistors works with roughly the same amount of investment each year. This doesn't work in many other areas. You can't double clean energy production every 5 years without doubling the investment.
    • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:14PM (#54106509)
      Lets apply Moore's law to all our problems.
    • Moores law for transistors works with roughly the same amount of investment each year. This doesn't work in many other areas. You can't double clean energy production every 5 years without doubling the investment.

      Yes and no. To keep up with growing demand and retiring of old power plants and other consumers of fossil fuels there is always new construction. New coal and natural gas plants are built every day as are new factories for cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships. We cannot just stop building these thing or our economy goes to shit and people will die from starvation and what not.

      What we can do is declare that every year we will double the replacement rate of fossil fuel burners with nuclear powered equiv

    • Moores law for transistors works with roughly the same amount of investment each year.

      Per factory? Surely not. Per industry? Definitely not as it has scaled up tremendously. The improvements are ever harder to make.

      Compared to this, doubling clean energy production within a few years is comparatively easy: as long as the price of the energy is comparable, all it takes is to maintain existing production capacity which is around 100 GWp per year now. Whether that purchase of capacity qualifies as investment to you is the interesting question: it's a substitute for coal and gas consumption of i

    • Moore to the point, Moore's law was an observation of a natural trend. This is the opposite, typical of so much legislation.

      Moore's law is like having a speedometer needle showing the speed, or a thermometer showing the temperature. Legislation which tries to change society pretends changing the observation will change reality: move the needle to slow down or speed up; move the pointer to raise or lower the temperature. In reality, you need an entirely different device to do that.

      "So let it be written, s

    • It's all about the headlines, flash messaging. The public (who are treated as 5th graders by media and marketeers/spinners/manipulators) knows Moore's Law = Magic Technology Something, so just transpose 'Moore's Law' into the Climate Arena as a solution to a problem and wait for the government dollars to flow in in response to public pressure.
  • Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:11PM (#54106497)

    It really doesn't take much to get published in Science these days, does it?

  • by waltlaw ( 600062 )
    Pass a law giving everyone a magic wand.
  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:22PM (#54106543)

    I love how political types think that we just need to mandate using less power, oh and this time at ever increasing rates because that worked for a few decades for transistors.

    Ironically, computers are one of the least regulated industries on the planet.

    If you want to see what mandated goals do, check out your health insurance bill, the government has been regulating that industry for 40 years.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      We can legislate lower energy use, because at the moment we are so wasteful. For example, ban inefficient cars and require people to demonstrate a need for bigger engines. We already do that with other kinds of pollution.

      There is not the political will to do that in some countries, while others are talking about banning most combustion engine vehicles in the next few decades.

      • and require people to demonstrate a need for bigger engines

        So, what in the Constitution allows the Federal government to do that?

        And assuming you can contort that out of the Constitution, you're setting things up so as to give neat new privileges to the wealthy and connected...that'll go over well.

        • by geoskd ( 321194 )

          So, what in the Constitution allows the Federal government to do that?

          Our Constitution was written at a time before Humanity was fundamentally capable of wiping all life off the face of the planet. There is a whole class of things it was never intended to deal with. They could not possibly have understand what the consequences of free speech would be on something like the Internet, nor what the right to bear arms would mean in a society where any citizen could learn how to build weapons powerful enough to kill thousands of people at a time. Our Constitution is held up as a sh

        • So, what in AmiMojo's post mentions the Federal Government?

          FWIW, yes, since the mid-nineteenth century, after the creation of railroads and the adoption of a national currency, the Federal government has had power over virtually all commerce due to the fact it's allowed to regulate interstate commerce, and the things I just mentioned makes all commerce effectly interstate. I know it's not a popular thing to say, but things change. This changed 150-200 years ago and yet there's always someone who thinks t

    • They can't balance budgets, reduce violent crime in notoriously bad areas, stop economic decline but love to posture and pose about SavingThePlanet while spending Other People's Money. What's wrong with this picture?
    • by geoskd ( 321194 )

      because that worked for a few decades for transistors.

      If the politicians had mandated moores law for transistors, computers would still be the size of small offices and have less compute power than an MP3 player.

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      I love how political types think that we just need to mandate using less power, oh and this time at ever increasing rates because that worked for a few decades for transistors.

      Ironically, computers are one of the least regulated industries on the planet.

      If you want to see what mandated goals do, check out your health insurance bill, the government has been regulating that industry for 40 years.

      The government doesn't have that much to do with US health insurance costs, in my opinion.

      Today, March 25, 2017, the population of the USA has access to the most advanced medical care in history. And tomorrow it will be even more advanced. The advancements in medical science in the past 10 years, let alone 50, are absolutely staggering. The government meddling in the healthcare market is only part of the picture. There is simply a lot more procedures, medicines, and devices on the market than there we

  • great insight! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ooloorie ( 4394035 )

    The overarching goal is simple: globally, we must halve carbon dioxide emissions every decade. That's essentially it.

    Great! While you're at it, why don't you also legislate other simple overaching goals, like halving the murder rate every decade, doubling economic output every decade, doubling IQs every decade, and halving deaths from cancer every decade? Heck, go all the way and double life expectancy every decade too! You can probably hire some of the central planners of the former USSR to make that happe

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 )

      You won't need to worry about the murder rate with the starvation, disease and poverty this carbon halving would cause.

      • You won't need to worry about the murder rate with the starvation, disease and poverty this carbon halving would cause.

        Unless your local government scores 0.1 T[*] or higher, it will be smart enough to implement the required measures without significant inconvenience for their population, and only above 0.5 T there is any chance of additional starvation, disease, or poverty due to these measures. Happily only a few countries have such a bad score. I'm sincerely sorry for you if you live in such a country.

        [*] Where T is a measure of incompetence. The USA is at 1.0 T at the moment. There are a few countries that score higher

        • "incompentence"

          loaded words for nations using that which has increased human lifespan, reduced disease and poverty, increased human life and driven progress. you don't know how your civilization works.

    • "we must halve carbon dioxide emissions every decade"

      At what CO2 PPM do plants and vegetation begin shutting down - 200PPM? We are supposedly at 400PPM now.
      • At what CO2 PPM do plants and vegetation begin shutting down - 200PPM? We are supposedly at 400PPM now.

        Emissions, emissions... we must halve emissions....

      • At what CO2 PPM do plants and vegetation begin shutting down - 200PPM? We are supposedly at 400PPM now.

        I was being sarcastic. However, you seem as confused as the climate alarmists: shutting down carbon dioxide emissions would simply return us to pre-industrial CO2 levels eventually, and even that takes centuries. That's one of the reasons why action on climate change is pointless.

        • The fact that it'd take centuries to achieve means that progress would be impossible to measure effectively so everyone would just have to believe that "improvement" was happening.

          If we have to go in one direction with CO2 concentration it should be up, not down. Like temperature, which is preferable: warmer or colder?

          There is never much focus on the benefits, only the (potential) downsides.

          These and other aspects of the whole neverending crisis-mongering convinces me that it's a money and power grab.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:24PM (#54106555)

    The overarching goal is simple: globally, we must halve carbon dioxide emissions every decade.

    And if we don't do that, say because developing world countries have better things to do than turn their economies upside down for First World causes? What's plan B? Sooner or later we're going to have to deal with the real world strategy of adaptation not the imaginary ones of radical greenhouse gases emission reduction.

    • India and China are leading the world in renewable energy adoption.

  • Moores Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:24PM (#54106557)
    i don't think these individuals understand what Moore's law is about!
    "quick wins like carbon taxes and energy efficiency regulations"
    Good Grief!! Shakes Head ;)
    • The authors of the paper don't mention Moore's law. It is one individual who compares this with Moore's law: a journalist. This is just usual bad journalism, combined with typical jumping to conclusions by Slashdotters who never seem to read the paper referred to. Come on, be happy that at least some articles here refer to peer reviewed papers that are often of a much higher quality than most other material here, so why not read it!

  • Beyond idiotic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @09:25PM (#54106561) Journal

    Moore's Law wasn't a goal someone set and then did.

    It was merely an observation of a pace of technical advance.

    The idea that you would propose something like this, as if the proposal itself was actually accomplishing something, is asinine.

    • But I really want the proposal in and of itself to accomplish something... like, really bad. Why oh why won't reality just play along?!
    • The idea that you would propose something like this, as if the proposal itself was actually accomplishing something, is asinine.

      It's the eternal pipe dream of progressives, fascists, and socialists: the intelligentsia commands, and the serfs jump to make it happen.

    • Re:Beyond idiotic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erice ( 13380 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @11:01PM (#54106881) Homepage

      Moore's Law wasn't a goal someone set and then did.

      It was merely an observation of a pace of technical advance.

      That's not exactly true. Moore's Law started as an observation but it soon became an expectation: a required pace of advancement that every fab (IDM for foundry) had to match if they wanted to remain competitive. Over time, the amount of investment required to meet the target increased, and the number of competitors dwindled. Only four remain today in general logic. The economics and the definitions for advanced nodes have become dubious.

      The idea that you would propose something like this, as if the proposal itself was actually accomplishing something, is asinine.

      But your conclusion is spot on. Even when keeping Moore's Law going became difficult and not just a natural progression, there was still a lot of inertia and economic imperative behind it. Research enabled innovations which enabled products which became tools that enabled new research, etc.

      By contrast, there is no pipeline of innovation for reducing carbon emissions. There is a lot of work going but there is little connecting it all. A better wind turbine might not do much to help build the wind turbine after that much less better solar cells or biofuels. There is no reason to expect that progress will follow any particular pace or even be consistent.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Moore's Law wasn't a goal someone set and then did.

      Actually it was. Moore set targets for development at Intel. The observation of a pace of technical advance came later and had to result in more of a "fuzzy" version of Moore's Law.

      The idea that you would propose something like this, as if the proposal itself was actually accomplishing something, is asinine.

      There is a lot of that about. At the G20 meeting a couple of years ago the "achievement" was proposing a couple of percent of economic growth.

  • ... we'd better crank up our carbon production before this goes into effect. So we'll have an easier time cutting back later.

  • If we simply cut our carbon emissions in half every decade, the problem goes away. It's so elegant and simple - if only someone had thought of this before! And for my next trick, I will solve poverty by printing unlimited amounts of money and just giving it to anyone who wants it.
  • Do you want to lower CO2 emissions? The answer is simple.
    1. Ban coal.
    2. Replace coal with natural gas, nuclear, and wind.
    3. Stop worrying about cars, trains, and planes. Power plants are the biggest producers of CO2 and are centralized.
    4. Understand Solar is not the answer. The demand vs production curve does not work out. It is a good supplement in hot areas with a lot of sun in the summer but unless we go with orbital solar power stations it is not a good baseload solution. It just looks good and seems e

  • In other news, Moore's Law for War would defeat global conflict. We just need to halve killings every decade.
    In other news, Moore's Law for Rape would defeat global rape. We just need to halve rapes every decade.
    In other news, Moore's Law for would defeat . We just need to halve every decade.

    When "researchers" point out obvious things like "Reducing carbon would defeat global warming they are philosophers.

    Scientists would posit something with a body of evidence to bring new facts to bear on the world a

  • This sounds like a nice idea but the actual implementation is a lot harder. Top down forcing this on people is very politically expedient and correct but the people proposing such things are not actually coming up with solutions, they're just dream about an ideal they want. The real world is a lot harder to deal with and isn't easily regulated and legislated.

The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. Seek simplicity and distrust it. -- Whitehead.

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