Guest Blogger Ken Alex: The Issue of Scale in Climate Solutions

Post #10 in a Series on California Climate Policy by Ken Alex, Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown

[This is the tenth post in a series expressing my view of why California’s actions on climate change are so important and how they will change the world. The introductory post provides an overview and some general context.]

The issue of scale is intertwined with political will, discussed in my prior post,but also poses separate challenges.  If solar power had more political support, it would scale more quickly.  As noted in the previous blog post, Florida and other states have slowed the uptake of renewables because incumbent utilities and their political allies have fought against renewables.  But it is also the case that the uptake of renewables in places like Indonesia and India face fundamental hurdles of basic education and training in the use, operation, and maintenance of the systems.  And without that basic education and training, those systems are doomed to failure.

Getting more quickly to scale with effective climate solutions is essential.

For example, as the USDA website states succinctly:

Agriculture could play a larger role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and lowering atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by sequestering more carbon.  Farm    operators can change production practices or land uses to increase the carbon stored in soil or vegetation. Other changes in production practices and land uses can result in reduced emissions of potent non-carbon GHG, such as methane and nitrous oxide. In addition, agriculture can produce biofuels, which can substitute for fossil fuels and thereby potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions across multiple sectors.

Many of these actions are cost effective and doable now, but are not in common practice.  Practices as basic as moving cattle more quickly from grazing areas before the grass is consumed to the nub, are not in general usage.  We need to identify the mechanisms that will move action more quickly and more substantially.  It will likely take a combination of education, incentive, regulation, and buy-in by trade groups, corporations, industry leaders, and the public.

We also need to do a better job at identifying and supporting actions, strategies, technologies that show strong promise.  That will require a more concerted effort by government, academia, industry, and foundations to work together and identify both the most promising initiative and the barriers to success and scale. Various partnerships – public-private, government-academic, foundation-industry, and a combination of all – are needed to speed action and results.  In the next blog post, I will discuss one set of mechanisms for faster action and scale.

Next blog:  Sub-National Action

Ken Alex is the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and serves as Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Chair of the Strategic Growth Council.

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Reader Comments

7 Replies to “Guest Blogger Ken Alex: The Issue of Scale in Climate Solutions”

  1. Ken Alex said;
    “….We also need to do a better job at identifying and supporting actions, strategies, technologies that show strong promise…”

    Dear Ken,
    All of the actions, strategies and technologies that purport to mitigate climate change are complete failures in terms of actually mitigating global climate. Solar power, high speed rail, wind turbines, electric cars, bio fuels and renewable energy may offer certain benefits but these technologies have no measurable effect on climate, fail to achieve real mitigation, and are a tremendous waste of money and resources.

    California takes funds from its cap-n-trade program for the purpose of mitigating climate change and spends these funds on high speed rail which then results in no verifiable mitigation whatsoever. High speed rail does not reduce overall total carbon emissions (emissions will increase over the life of the rail). High speed rail does not reduce nor in any way effect the average global atmospheric temperature – which may continue to rise regardless of this rail project.

    The state of California and its Governor Brown have been publicly lying about climate mitigation projects for a long long time. We reject and repudiate these ignorant flagrant lies and all of the supporting actions, strategies, technologies, fraud, corruption, waste, poverty and dysphoria that emanates from California.

    1. “All of the actions, strategies and technologies that purport to mitigate climate change are complete failures in terms of actually mitigating global climate.”

      I think I figured it out. BQRQ enjoys his ignorance being put on full display. Why else would he come here and spout his unsupported baloney that gets so consistently discredited by evidence and facts?

      “All major emitters worldwide, except India, stayed stagnant or fell in their CO2 emissions, due to increased use of renewables and decreased coal use; the US and Russia saw about a two percent decrease, while China, European Union states, and other G20 member emissions remained static.”

      1. There is no conclusive scientific proof that reducing carbon dioxide emissions actually mitigates climate change or has any effect at all on global climate. We demand hard incontrovertible proof (not lies).

        1. This is where BQRQ falls back on the weakest part of his argument. He has been duped into believing the most childishly stupid idea: that thousands of scientists around the world speaking a hundred different languages are all engaged in a conspiracy to lie to the world. He believes that he understands the science far better, after all he learned that a water molecule has a higher greenhouse gas coefficient than a CO2 molecule, and really folks, that is all you need to know to understand climate science better than the scientists, at least according to fringe right-wing media.

          “It is extremely likely [95 percent confidence] that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”

          That is the finding of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The IPCC is a United Nations body and is the foremost international authority on climate change. It’s primary output is a report that it produces every few years, written through a collaborative effort of thousands of scientists around the world, that gives an overview of the current scientific understanding of climate change.

          BQRQ however heard on fringe conservative media that you can’t trust those evil scientists and that is that.

          1. Dear BBQ,
            I would like to invite you to visit Texas to drink some beer and mitigate climate together with me. Unfortunately I am not welcome in California so we will have to meet in Texas. Here you will find a lifestyle that is more relaxed, less frenetic and more sacred. Leave your cares behind, we can reform your soul and give your life comfort meaning and purpose.

  2. As you can see above, this is one way in which those who believe in irrational and illogical conspiracy theories deflect and evade in order to avoid having to answer for the obvious holes in their reasoning. Maybe deep down BQRQ knows that his views on climate change are indefensible.

    This is probably why after his arguments are taken down one by one, like they are in every discussion, he then says “I don’t want to argue” and flees from the debate. He loves to argue as long as no one responds.

    Maybe I should thank him for laying bare how impossible it is to defend denial.

  3. There was a presentation at SUNY Maritime in New York City to a joint meeting on IMAREST, SNAME, ASNE and SMPE on marine sequestration of carbon dioxide March 20. (See the IMAREST website at

    There are some interesting possibilities that might be able to produce as much as several wedges of negative emissions, though specifics of the science need further study in some cases.

    Given the new IRS 45Q sequestration credits and elimination of the cap, this might make some sense.

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