The Better Growth Better Climate report of The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate estimates that an expenditure of $270 billion of the $6 trillion countries need to invest in infrastructure each year for the next 15 years, devoted to clean energy technology, would transition the world to a low-carbon economy.
As the United States represents 17% of global GDP, proportionally it should be spending at least $47 billion.
The 2011 GAO report “Improvements Needed to Clarify National Priorities and Better Align Them with Federal Funding Decisions” estimated that between 2003 and 2010 the U.S. spent a total of $106.7 billion, on average about $13.3 billion each year, in four sectors: technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, science to understand climate changes, international assistance for developing countries, and wildlife adaptation to respond to actual or expected changes.”
In 2010 technology spending, was $5.5 billion or about 12% of what is currently required but only 41% of the 2003 – 2010 average.
If it is going to stand in for some of the developing countries with respect to climate change, U.S. expenditures would have to be even higher.
It has to be noted that technology that would fix the climate problem would preclude the need for spending on the other three categories.
The GAO report noted a lack of shared understanding of strategic priorities among the various responsible agency officials who were spending the money and agreed with a 2008 Congressional Research Service analysis which found no “overarching policy goal for climate change that guides the programs funded or the priorities among programs.”
It is my contention that research expenditures in general are not being governed by sound scientific understanding and further experience tells me politicians prefer to spend money on research even though it may be folly, rather than on effective action because the latter invariably is more expensive.
The illusion of being incharge and taking action has to be maintained however at ANY cost. And further when government picks a winner, as in the case with a nuclear waste disposal respository at Yucca Mountain, it continues to fund that approach long after it has been proven to be a loser; as was the case with Yucca Mountain, when a 1996 report found water flowed through the mountain much fast than had been expected.
Studies that do pan out however, such as the 2013 finding by Lawrence Livermore scientists CO2 can been sequestered and ocean acidification offset with the production of ‘supergreen’ hydrogen’ aren’t followed up on. Nor are approaches that comport with natural analogies like subduction zone waste disposal and heat pipe OTEC.
As the saying goes bad money chases out the good.
My baptism of fire in this regard came in the nuclear waste field, for which I had developed a technology that was considered in some circles the “state of the art” and was an adaptation of Nature’s recycling mechanism, the subduction process.
The logic of placing nuclear waste on top of an area that has seen volcanic activity within the last 80,000 years and is proximal to the Long Valley Caldera, one of the world’s largest, always escaped me but I figured I could stick it out until reason prevailed.
As it turned out the DOE has far deeper pockets than do I and it managed to spend $9 billion on Yucca before, in 2009, Secretary of Energy Chu pulled funding for the site and announced: “Yucca Mountain as a repository is off the table. What we’re going to be doing is saying, let’s step back. We realize that we know a lot more today than we did 25 or 30 years ago.”
I would quibble that volcanic activity was known from the outset but by the time the Yucca funding was pulled my patents had expired or had been abandoned as had my interest in the nuclear waste disposal problem.
By that point I had come to the conclusion there was a better option for addressing the global warming problem in any case, ocean thermal energy conversion.
A Google (News) search of my favorite topic last week turned up some unexpected and troubling results: Ocean Pipe Geoengineering May Backfire Says Study, Geoengineering: Ocean Pipes Would Make Climate Worse, Ocean pipes “not cool”, would end up warming climate and Vertical Ocean Pipes May Actually Increase Global Warming.
Immediately I went to the referenced study and found the abstract claimed “increased vertical transport of water has the capacity to drastically alter the ocean thermocline. To help bound potential climate consequences of these activities, we perform a set of simulations involving idealized disruption of the ocean thermocline by greatly increasing vertical mixing in the upper ocean.”
How idealized were these disruptions and how great was this vertical mixing I wondered?
A cursory examination of the following diagram was proof enough, in my mind at any rate, that the basic premise of the study is far removed from reality.