Friday, November 02, 2007

Gore's climate calculator is crap

I bumped into's climate calculator via skookumchick's blog, but it appears to be a front for generic environmentalism, rather than a good-faith attempt to measure one's carbon emissions. Here is why:

It asks the question:
"What % of your electricity comes from clean, renewable sources such as solar, or wind?"

This question is only marginally relevant to greenhouse gas emissions. A much more perninent question for emissions would be
"What % of your electricity comes from hydro or nuclear?"

Hydroelectric power contributes about 19% of the world's electricity supply. Nuclear contributes about 11%. Solar and wind contribute less than 1% combined. So a person trying to accurately calculate the carbon emissions from their electricity use is much more likely to gain low carbon energy credit from hydro or nuclear than from wind or solar.

From the carbon cost point of view, all of these technologies generally have much lower emissions than fossil fuels, so there really isn't much of a good reason to distinguish between them for the purpose of calculating a climate footprint.

On the other hand, The environmental movement has long objected to hydro and nuclear for reasons that have nothing to do with GHG.

Therefore, one can only assume that the omission of 'dirty, non-renewable' low carbon energy sources from's list of low carbon energy sources is an indication that they are using climate change to push a broader environmental agenda at the expense of actual carbon emissions.


Chris Phoenix said...

What's the carbon cost of constructing the nuclear plant? I'm guessing not too huge, but noticeable. OK, now what's the carbon cost of the bureaucracy that's created to regulate it?

I'm in favor of nuclear power if done right, but there may be hidden carbon costs in the way we're currently doing it.

C W Magee said...

Depends on who you ask, and what their agenda is. It also depends on the reactor design and the fuel enrichment. Probably more than wind and less than solar, though.

EliRabett said...

In the US you can (in some places) specify the company you buy your E from. This is part of the deregulation. Someplaces (gotta be vague here) have green choices, e.g. hydro, etc.) More expensive generally.

Dr. Lemming said...

But the whole point of this post is that there is a poor correlation between "green" and "low carbon"...