Affordable, reliable energy is a prerequisite for communities to have a reliable public drinking water supply. Regardless of whether that water is supplied by a public or private water supplier, energy is needed. Clean drinking water cannot be supplied without energy. Over the years many water utilities have made progress on energy conservation measures and demand management, and some have installed solar systems to provide a portion of the energy needed for their utility. Such actions will certainly continue in the future.
On May 9, 2011, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a press release that begins with the following statement (click here for the press release and click here for the summary for policy makers):
“Close to 80 percent of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows. “
This is an important statement and appearing in the IPCC report it carries an air of authority. However, it has come to light that the lead author of chapter 10 of the IPCC report (ER-2010) was a Greenpeace employee not identified in the report or press release. (Greenpeace is a $200 million euro per year environmental activist organization.) In addition, the same Greenpeace activist was a lead author of the IPCC report. In effect, this activist was able to review and reach conclusions on his own science which then was written in the IPCC report. This is far from accepted peer-review behavior and simply renders the IPCC statements as not credible. Click here for the background and discovery. More here as well.
Let’s contrast this latest IPCC farce once again with Richard Feynman’s 1973 address (Cargo Cult Science) to future scientists and engineers:
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself…..and you are the easiest person to fool……you should not fool the laymen when you’re talking as a scientist……I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is more than not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to do when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to Laymen.”
Will alternative energies have a role in providing energy to drinking water systems in the future? Certainly. Individual water and wastewater utilites will manage their own energy needs and take action to include alternatives like solar when appropriate to their situation.
But what about the larger picture? Only God knows….and I don’ have a clue. But I can say that alternative energies must at some point stand on their own and be competitive with other forms of energy. I purchased my first solar system in 1985 using a tax rebate. It only heated indoor air. Even since then, despite the promises, the cost of solar today is still not at a point where it can stand on its own compared to other forms of energy. Click here for another view of the relative cost of gas and alternatives.
The IPCC chair Pachauri believes a policy framework should be imposed that levels the playing field for alternatives. We need to ask what economic impact and loss of life will his political agenda impose on struggling economies around the world?
Update 8:45 pm June 17: The IPCC credibility is under fire for conflicts of interest in this most recent announcement. See this link for further discussion.
Given these and other problems with the 2007 IPCC report I have discussed in previous reviews (click here and click here), I see little reason to take statements of the IPCC seriously. Clearly, more change is needed in how the IPCC does its work.