# Solve the climate crisis: A thought experiment

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Spoiler: Just as every group working in the field have said for years (I personally know roughly ten research groups in Germany alone), the authors claim that the major sources of energy should to be wind and solar. The nice feature of this paper is the global scope.

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1 hour ago, wallflash said:
1 hour ago, studiot said:

Sustainable in some capacity ,yes. But if one tries to make it a major producer of energy , where will all this come from? Contributing to a major portion of renewable energy in the US, not to mention the entire world, would be a phenomenal amount of plant waste.

You are still missing my point.

Which is that preheating the water using solar to electricity require no national electricity distribution grid and all that goes with it.

I put 'sustainable' in emphasis because another part of my post was the discussion about the whole idea of planting as a way out.

So trump want to plant a trillion trees?

Where will he plant them?

Will that not compete with agricultural needs for food?

How long does it take to refix the carbon burnt in the biomass?

Set against this swansont points out that solar energy converted to electricity is not lost but becomes useful heat or machinery power and eventually heat.
But set against this is the fact that it is heat now.
Whereas solar energy converted naturally is removed from surface heating today although it may result in surface heating in the future.

Also we should be aware that by far the greatest carbon sink is the world ocean.

Quote

Wiki

Ocean storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) is a method of carbon sequestration. The concept of storing carbon dioxide in the ocean was first proposed by Italian physicist Cesare Marchetti in his 1976 paper "On Geoengineering and the carbon dioxide Problem."[1] Since then, the concept of sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide in the world's oceans has been investigated by scientists, engineers, and environmental activists. 39,000 GtC (gigatonnes of carbon) currently reside in the oceans while only 750 GtC are in the atmosphere.[2][3] Of the 1300 Gt carbon dioxide from anthropogenic emissions over the last 200 years, about 38% of that has already gone into the oceans.[2] Carbon dioxide is currently emitted at 10 GtC per year and the oceans currently absorb 2.4 Gt carbon dioxide per year. The ocean is an enormous carbon sink with the capacity to hold thousands more gigatons of carbon dioxide. Ocean sequestration has the potential to decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations according to some scientists.

So we need to stat looking after the oceans properly and stop polluting them.

Back to electricity,

With the exception of tidal streams, wind, tide wave and solar generators are all intermittent in some way, both seasonal and daily.
Some of this intermittency is particularly awkard because the sun doesn't shine (much) in the winter or at night when we most want it.

So some form of storage is required.

Pumped storage and hydro electric release is the best way forward.

This ties in with water distribution since there are floods in many places coincident with droughts in others.

We national and international water grids.

We have yet to solve the problem of batteries suitable for most vehicles, perhaps the electrochemical creation of fuel will be the way forward.
Many options are being studied.

Better still would be to achieve better town and country planning so there does not need to be so much transportation because people have most (if not all) the facilities they need nearby.

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1 hour ago, studiot said:

You are still missing my point.

Which is that preheating the water using solar to electricity require no national electricity distribution grid and all that goes with it.

I put 'sustainable' in emphasis because another part of my post was the discussion about the whole idea of planting as a way out.

So trump want to plant a trillion trees?

Where will he plant them?

Will that not compete with agricultural needs for food?

How long does it take to refix the carbon burnt in the biomass?

Set against this swansont points out that solar energy converted to electricity is not lost but becomes useful heat or machinery power and eventually heat.
But set against this is the fact that it is heat now.
Whereas solar energy converted naturally is removed from surface heating today although it may result in surface heating in the future.

Also we should be aware that by far the greatest carbon sink is the world ocean.

So we need to stat looking after the oceans properly and stop polluting them.

Back to electricity,

With the exception of tidal streams, wind, tide wave and solar generators are all intermittent in some way, both seasonal and daily.
Some of this intermittency is particularly awkard because the sun doesn't shine (much) in the winter or at night when we most want it.

So some form of storage is required.

Pumped storage and hydro electric release is the best way forward.

This ties in with water distribution since there are floods in many places coincident with droughts in others.

We national and international water grids.

We have yet to solve the problem of batteries suitable for most vehicles, perhaps the electrochemical creation of fuel will be the way forward.
Many options are being studied.

Better still would be to achieve better town and country planning so there does not need to be so much transportation because people have most (if not all) the facilities they need nearby.

I'm not sure what the first part of your reply is addressing. When I mentioned sustainable, I was referring to using biomass to create electricity, not solar power . The comment on sustainability had to do with the availability of enough biomass on a large scale usage of biomass energy.

Storing and releasing water is an interesting concept. I once read of a town that pumped water up a hill to a reservoir at night when electricity costs were low, then released it to flow through a hydro generator during the day and created replacement electricity for the higher priced daytime electricity.

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I would begin with a ramping carbon price, that starts low but at a rate that rises consistently and predictably - slow enough to avoid immediate disruption but inexorably enough that no planning ahead can get away with ignoring it. It is not about imposing a cost on end consumers to change their choices but making a clear price signal for energy providers, that induces change in their forward investment decisions. Where that results in higher consumer costs, those costs will, I believe, still be smaller than the costs of allowing externalised climate costs to accumulate by allowing emissions to continue without counting them.

Living in the midst of Australia's current fire crisis makes the prospect of 3 to 5 C hotter look utterly terrifying; not a small difference or one that makes a cold region a bit milder, but a region with extremes of heat with life threatening consequences getting more extreme - I do not see addressing the problem effectively as optional, let alone, as some in very cold regions might think, beneficial. That makes the idea of putting things off to avoid disrupting what we have now look very shortsighted.

The thing about carbon pricing is that if it works no-one pays them - by energy providers choosing the low emissions energy production options that do not attract them. Such options do exist. What the revenue gets used for is not as important as having a price that induced energy providers to choose low emissions options over high - I am not a fan of tying specific taxes to specific spending but prefer governments have flexibility; reducing other taxes would be an option, or support R&D or support for those with low incomes with higher energy costs.

Unlike some here I think it does not impose a cost that doesn't already exist. It just makes more explicit a cost that we have been, by tacit agreement, institutionally cheating on. CO2 is our single largest waste product - very nearly the most abundant "commodity" humans make; I think only crushed rocks is made in larger amounts - and crushing rocks doesn't make more rock although it does make more CO2!

Maintaining that absence of accountability in order to not disrupt business as usual sounds like the very epitome of what must be changed. If not by pricing, then how do we induce change? Subsidy involves diverting money from elsewhere, probably unfairly burdening those with low responsibility ahead of those with high. Regulation and penalties? These all have costs, but they are more likely to be imposed on consumers rather than producers. Pricing is something economists generally agree is the most cost effective approach.

As for specific technologies - policy makers picking and choosing can get perverse results, especially if they see their obligations to supporters as more important than getting an effective low energy transition. Opposition to that transition is a consequence already. I don't oppose nuclear, I just think it comes with complications that mean it will continue to struggle to compete without a lot of direct government intervention and subsidy support.The World Nuclear association thinks nuclear could do 25% of global electricity by 2050 - with strong climate policies, including carbon pricing and subsidy support. Solar and wind will exceed 25% before 2030, without it.

I think solar is still a long way short of it's full potential - it will keep getting cheaper because of mass production. The intermittency is a significant issue but is not insurmountable, by geographically extended transmission, by storage of various kinds, by the presence of other energy sources and by demand management that encourages reduced demand when unavailable.

One backup to solar and wind option I think may emerge as very significant is gas generation that can transition to Hydrogen produced by renewable energy. A lot of existing gas plants can take significant proportions of Hydrogen, above 90% in some cases. Gas generators sit right where electricity grids converge and on site Hydrogen production (from excess solar and wind) and on site storage sidesteps the economy wide infrastructure needed for H2 as transport fuel or H2 for transportation. Storage can be at lower pressures, with easier engineering requirements than those other uses require. I think the economy destroying potential of having high levels of intermittent energy are greatly exaggerated; besides the times of low or no output there are times of abundance; businesses that can remake the way they work to take advantage of those periods of low cost, abundant energy will find opportunity.

Edited by Ken Fabian

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On 1/23/2020 at 2:43 AM, wallflash said:

So, imagine the US has created a cabinet level position on the crisis, as we did after 911. Secretary of Climate Resolution, if you will. The position is given near dictatorial power,  with the ability to enact laws single handedly along the lines of executive orders . You are recruited to present a plan to reduce greenhouse gases in the immediate , with detailed steps included .

100% refund of the purchase and installation of solar panels on the roofs of ordinary people's homes.

>= 50% refund of the purchase and installation of solar panels on company roofs.

Tax reduction for everybody joining in to even further encourage people?

Establishment of state-owned solar panel making companies across the country (otherwise government money would go to countries with the lowest solar panel price that would increase national debt). In other words, what the government will spend on solar panels, would end up as income of hundreds thousands of people working in these companies and installations.

Current methods ("carbon tax") are not constructive. Electricity making companies will pass the all costs to their customers and they will be, as always, victims of the regulation made by government. Current methods rely on private companies to do everything (to earn money). Investors interested in renewable energy sources are starting from ground level and what they will earn one year will invest in the next year which drastically limits the growth rate. State-owned solar panels making companies can start from hundreds production factories across the entire country without bothering about cost of such giant investment since day zero (establishment of such company). If government would not pay for Apollo program, private business sector would not ever do in, as it is impossible to make money on it! Private business mostly do everything the easiest ways to earn money. It is unlikely that SpaceX would make rockets if they would not have possibility to make deal with NASA for delivery of stuff to ISS. Where would these rockets fly? Such company would be infinite hole sucking in the all investors moneys and would not ever return investment in any predictable time span. It would remain toy of billionaire or never being established.

Edited by Sensei

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2 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

I would begin with a ramping carbon price, that starts low but at a rate that rises consistently and predictably - slow enough to avoid immediate disruption but inexorably enough that no planning ahead can get away with ignoring it.

2 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

The thing about carbon pricing is that if it works no-one pays them - by energy providers choosing the low emissions energy production options that do not attract them. Such options do exist.

Energy providers don't choose the energy they provide.
We, the consumers and industry, choose which energy we'll use, and the energy provider will provide it if they want to profit.

BUT, we need to be given a choice first.
Right now we don't have an alternative, especially if you don't live in a metropolitan area.

I remember when gasoline was $0.69 per Imperial gallon ( I didn't drive yet in the late 60/early 70s, but I remember ). It is currently about$5 per imperial gallon, and people are still driving big trucks/SUVs if they can afford them.
So who has changed their habits because of the added costs ?
Certainly NOT rich/affluent people that don't need to.
Yet people earning minimum wage, in smaller towns without good public transit are struggling to put food on the table, or gas up their car to get to work.

Everything sounds simple and rosy if you ignore the downsides.

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16 hours ago, wallflash said:

Yes, for the US .  The US is one of the worst offenders, and probably home to most posters here, so I only listed US usage.

And yes, electric motors are more efficient. But the point was not a comparison on efficiency or even pollution of gas cars vs gas generated electric cars, it was making the point that switching to EV cars increases substantially our electric needs, as does  moving gas appliances to electric. We have to increase our current renewable energy production by 5 times just to meet current needs if we eliminate fossil fuel and nuclear . Adding in converted fossil fuel equipment powered by electricity  increases this disparity even more, to possibly 10 times our current capability.

Efficiency may not be your point, but the numbers you use are wrong if you don't take it into account. If you cut a certain amount of fossil fuel delivery, it doesn't have to be replaced with the same amount of electrical capacity if the electrical system is more efficient. If you are going to quantify it, you need to use the right quantities. Your qualitative argument is correct.

The argument you are making points to the problem of having largely ignored AGW for so long, because replacing and expanding power generation infrastructure takes time. The longer we delay, the more of a crisis it becomes.

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7 hours ago, Sensei said:

Current methods ("carbon tax") are not constructive. Electricity making companies will pass the all costs to their customers and they will be, as always, victims of the regulation made by government.

Yes can we trust our politicians ? +1

I think not.

Here is a prime example form the BBC publication Radio Times.

I am posting an extract only for copyright reasons and I have indicated two worrying points.

Firstly our politicians want us to have electric cars but could remotely turn off their chargers at zero notice.

So a parent charging their car to fetch the children from schools ( many are making uneccessary long journeys as I have already indicated)
could find their car not charged.

Secondly 3 million failed smart chargers.

Who is getting the blame.

Guess what, not the politicians.

The finger is pointed at Science and Technology.

That affect all of us here.

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7 hours ago, MigL said:

Energy providers don't choose the energy they provide.
We, the consumers and industry, choose which energy we'll use, and the energy provider will provide it if they want to profit.

I think it's the opposite. Consumers don't choose how an electrical provider makes electricity, the utility does. You can't tell the difference between a kWh of electricity that comes from a coal plant vs one that comes from wind, solar or hydro.

7 hours ago, MigL said:

BUT, we need to be given a choice first.
Right now we don't have an alternative, especially if you don't live in a metropolitan area.

I remember when gasoline was $0.69 per Imperial gallon ( I didn't drive yet in the late 60/early 70s, but I remember ). It is currently about$5 per imperial gallon, and people are still driving big trucks/SUVs if they can afford them.
So who has changed their habits because of the added costs ?

$0.69 in 1970 translates to$4.55 today

Passenger cars in 1970 average 14 mpg. In 2005, it was 22 mpg

if you're driving an SUV that gets 14 mpg, gas costs about the same in terms of purchasing power and driving range.

10 hours ago, wallflash said:

Storing and releasing water is an interesting concept. I once read of a town that pumped water up a hill to a reservoir at night when electricity costs were low, then released it to flow through a hydro generator during the day and created replacement electricity for the higher priced daytime electricity.

Multiple places do this. It actually increases the energy demand, because it takes more energy to pump the water up than you get back. But it's cost-effective and helps solve the issue of meeting peak demand

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7 minutes ago, swansont said:

It actually increases the energy demand, because it takes more energy to pump the water up than you get back.

All forms of handling and/or storage involve losses.

Further solar cannot be directly connected to the grid or mains in general.
Most equipment has to be special purpose to use it directly.

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11 minutes ago, studiot said:

All forms of handling and/or storage involve losses.

Further solar cannot be directly connected to the grid or mains in general.
Most equipment has to be special purpose to use it directly.

But at the end of it all, you have more energy available to you. Solar is a source. If all you do is pump water up and then let it fall through a turbine, you have an energy deficit. In the eia energy budget, it's a negative value. Hydrogen would be that way, too.

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41 minutes ago, swansont said:

Efficiency may not be your point, but the numbers you use are wrong if you don't take it into account. If you cut a certain amount of fossil fuel delivery, it doesn't have to be replaced with the same amount of electrical capacity if the electrical system is more efficient. If you are going to quantify it, you need to use the right quantities. Your qualitative argument is correct.

The argument you are making points to the problem of having largely ignored AGW for so long, because replacing and expanding power generation infrastructure takes time. The longer we delay, the more of a crisis it becomes.

No , my argument is not wrong, because I am simply pointing out that a need is being put on the electrical system that wasn't there before . Regardless of how much more efficient an EV is than a gas car, the gas car was not being powered by the electrical grid . So no matter how much more efficient the EV is, it is a new load onto the electrical grid . At about the equivalent of running your electric oven and burners 8 hrs a day, based on average charging requirements on amperage draw and time for a minimally charged EV, times 2 EV cars .

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6 minutes ago, wallflash said:

No , my argument is not wrong,

Did I say your argument is wrong?

6 minutes ago, wallflash said:

because I am simply pointing out that a need is being put on the electrical system that wasn't there before . Regardless of how much more efficient an EV is than a gas car, the gas car was not being powered by the electrical grid . So no matter how much more efficient the EV is, it is a new load onto the electrical grid . At about the equivalent of running your electric oven and burners 8 hrs a day, based on average charging requirements on amperage draw and time for a minimally charged EV, times 2 EV cars .

Did I not, in fact, say that your qualitative argument is correct?

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21 minutes ago, swansont said:

But at the end of it all, you have more energy available to you. Solar is a source. If all you do is pump water up and then let it fall through a turbine, you have an energy deficit. In the eia energy budget, it's a negative value. Hydrogen would be that way, too.

Yes of course, you have energy.
It's only more if it is not substituted for an existing source.
Surely an important thing we are trying to achieve is to substitute less damaging sources for more damaging ones?

Did you also pick up my point about using solar adds to the warming budget now, whereas letting that solar drive natural biological processes may add to future warming.

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1 minute ago, studiot said:

Yes of course, you have energy.
It's only more if it is not substituted for an existing source.
Surely an important thing we are trying to achieve is to substitute less damaging sources for more damaging ones?

Yes, but that's completely beside the point I was discussing in that particular post.

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11 minutes ago, wallflash said:

No , my argument is not wrong, because I am simply pointing out that a need is being put on the electrical system that wasn't there before . Regardless of how much more efficient an EV is than a gas car, the gas car was not being powered by the electrical grid . So no matter how much more efficient the EV is, it is a new load onto the electrical grid . At about the equivalent of running your electric oven and burners 8 hrs a day, based on average charging requirements on amperage draw and time for a minimally charged EV, times 2 EV cars .

Efficiency is not the only consideration.

Local use of the 'sustainably' generated electricity will not add a single kilowatt-hour to the transmssion load on the grid.

1 minute ago, swansont said:

Yes, but that's completely beside the point I was discussing in that particular post.

That is why it is so difficult and , sadly,  many use a single isolated point as a weapon in an argument.

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2 minutes ago, studiot said:

That is why it is so difficult and , sadly,  many use a single isolated point as a weapon in an argument.

In a discussion about new sources of energy, surely pointing out that pumped storage does not represent a new source can be stipulated to without any other entanglements?

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8 minutes ago, swansont said:

Yes, but that's completely beside the point I was discussing in that particular post.

I don't follow how this is beside the point of the particular post I responded to.

However I do think we are beginning to loose the wood for the trees.

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21 minutes ago, swansont said:

Did I say your argument is wrong?

Did I not, in fact, say that your qualitative argument is correct?

You said my numbers were wrong . Since the topic was numbers ( amount of addition to the electrical grid ) , saying my numbers are wrong is saying my argument is wrong .

But if there is now no disagreement there, then OK

23 minutes ago, studiot said:

Efficiency is not the only consideration.

Local use of the 'sustainably' generated electricity will not add a single kilowatt-hour to the transmssion load on the grid.

Very true . But local generation of electricity by renewable sources does not exist in any appreciable quantities in the US today . My thread is based on the now , what can we do now, since the urgency to do it now is proclaimed over and over . This thread was about what we can do at max five years out from now , not a rosy picture of how things can be in 25 years from now .

I’m not knocking the idea at all, simply pointing out the reality that if we start switching to EV cars tomorrow we WILL do so by powering them off the electric grid .

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I just think it is terrible that certain people take no responsibility for their activities and dump their crap on innocent people.

I have friends with children who are building a house out there near Jimboomba at the moment and I am not impressed!

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4 minutes ago, wallflash said:

You said my numbers were wrong . Since the topic was numbers ( amount of addition to the electrical grid ) , saying my numbers are wrong is saying my argument is wrong .

Not at all. An argument can be qualitatively correct (eg. “nuclear power is very safe”) even if it is quantitatively wrong (“it has only ever killed one person”).

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16 minutes ago, wallflash said:

Very true . But local generation of electricity by renewable sources does not exist in any appreciable quantities in the US today . My thread is based on the now , what can we do now, since the urgency to do it now is proclaimed over and over . This thread was about what we can do at max five years out from now , not a rosy picture of how things can be in 25 years from now .

I’m not knocking the idea at all, simply pointing out the reality that if we start switching to EV cars tomorrow we WILL do so by powering them off the electric grid .

I thought that you were adding to grid requirements all energy uses transferred from other sources - you specifically mentioned cooking and, I think heating did you not?

I also think that the UK grid is much more universal than the US one.
I think there are many local generating sets in isolated locations, there are plenty of these in the US since it is so much bigger.
Of course these generators develop grid compatible supplies so that they can drive standard equipment.
In fact it makes little engineering sense to collect together large quantities of widely distibuted low density energy into a grid at all.
Better to use it where it is collected if possible. And yes that is not always possible. Engineering is about compromise between competing, sometimes opposing, factors.

As to extra grid capacity consider the position of our local nuclear power station.
They are building a third nuclear power plant on the site of the first two that are currently being dismantled.
One would have though that the distribution infrastucture was already inplace after two previous nuclear power stations?
But no, there is currently a battle going on because they want new pylons cables etc to transmit the new output to cities within a 100 miles radius.

Again politics intervenes over engineering common sense.

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33 minutes ago, Strange said:

Not at all. An argument can be qualitatively correct (eg. “nuclear power is very safe”) even if it is quantitatively wrong (“it has only ever killed one person”).

My post didn’t give quantitative numbers other than the unspoken implication of 1EV car for 1 gas car , with each EV car being a new addition to the grid , so I’m not seeing how either the qualitative or quantitative points were flawed,although at this point it appears only the latter was disputed somehow.

I stand by both points . The efficiency of the new EV car relative to the gas car is irrelevant ,as it is  new load on the grid .

Ultimately we can correctly argue that it is an overall energy saving to the total energy consumption from all sources, but my point was the immediate capabilities of  the grid, all the way from the generating plant  to the EV charger outlet in your home .

Edited by wallflash

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Quote

The world’s climate experts agree that the world must take urgent action to bring down emissions. Ultimately, we must reach “net zero” emissions, meaning that humanity must remove as much carbon as it emits each year. This will take aggressive approaches, new technology that doesn’t exist today, and innovative public policy.

we need a way to get all or most of the world’s leading companies and governments to commit to this approach,      people power.

Edited by dimreepr

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16 minutes ago, wallflash said:

My post didn’t give quantitative numbers other than the unspoken implication of 1EV car for 1 gas car , with each EV car being a new addition to the grid , so I’m not seeing how either the qualitative or quantitative points were flawed,although at this point it appears only the latter was disputed somehow.

I stand by both points . The efficiency of the new EV car relative to the gas car is irrelevant ,as it is  new load on the grid .

Ultimately we can correctly argue that it is an overall energy saving to the total energy consumption from all sources, but my point was the immediate capabilities of  the grid, all the way from the generating plant  to the EV charger outlet in your home .

French researchers released a paper in 2012 (in Chicago)  based on the comparison of burning 2x full Li-ion EV's and ICE vehicles of the same weight from different manufacturers. An American Emergency Services report quoted the French report and stated that the EV batteries burnt 3 times hotter than the ICE cars, which I didn't actually see in the French paper.

The figures given in the latter report didn't burn full EV's, they just burnt TESLA UTE shaped shells with one flimsy bench seat and a dash board around a  battery pack, and they only did one unsuppressed test.

Li-ion batteries have twice the energy densities now and will pour out masses of toxic smoke when they burn. Even dead battery packs can blow up like Spaceway-1 will soon and their EV battery packs will 'die' after 10 years unless they are re-engineered Like Mazda's first EV with their 1/3 sized battery tuned to ICE performance specs.

When all that forest litter grows back in 30 years time the toxic cloud that travels around the world then will kill many many more than the 2 billion native and domestic animals that died in the forests/grasslands in Australia as it will poison the oceans and any living thing or person in its path.

The greedy 'rock spiders' bastards better hope they get back to Mars before that one hits as they won't be allowed down here ever again.

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