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Saudi Attack Makes Electric Vehicles Even More Important (bloomberg.com)
37 points by jseliger 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments

Because the literal destruction of the ecosphere due to global warming is not a sufficient motivation.

You are being sarcastic, but this is literally true. Sadly loads of people don't even believe the truth of global warming (as if science is subject to the whims of people's beliefs).

What would these people find more compelling? A slow, systemic process like global warming, which involves incremental changes taking place over decades - or the spectacle of exploding oil refineries, armed drones, and the drama of conflict.

Probably the latter, even if the first is far more catastrophic.

For something to be Science, it requires the ability to stand up to the scrutiny of the scientific method.

Edit: Imagine what kind of thinking could get this idea downvoted. It is not a good thing.

Your comment reads like climate change denialism, reading the parents comment on yours I'm not entirely sure that's what you meant, so I invite you to clarify your position.

>Your comment reads like climate change denialism

I think this is religious thinking. You are attacking my idea for being somehow a kind of Wrongthink, and your implication is that expressinf Wrongthink is the reason for the disagreement. But then when you read the comment, it is a statement about what Science is.

That being said, I don't feel my personal opinion matters, what is true is my statement. So I think for any further clarification, my comment should be applied to the subject. Can you scientifically prove CO2 is a greenhouse gas? Yea. Can you scientifically prove the world is going to end? No. This latter expression of alarmism is an opinion. This kind of consensus is wrong all the time. Remember Morton's skulls? Look up the history of some of the most embarassing Nobel Prizes.

You might think I am a non-believer, heathen by now. Actually, I do try to reduce my carbon footprint, in stark contrast to my observations of most eco-holier-than-thou's behaviors. But I don't buy into the extreme alarmism, nor am I dumb enough to consider this apocalypse a fact. If you're buying this you're just regurgitating ideas that people more powerful than you want you to believe. Probably because they want more authority over the global economy and our lives, and to stop Russia from getting its massive windfall in economic resources that it would get from a significant increase in temperatures.

Man, I wish climate scientists were some sort of powerful cabal that had significant power, but the evidence of utter nonaction for thirty years suggests the exact opposite, that there is in fact a powerful group of people who make a lot of money by continuing to rape the climate for profit.

People die all the time. Our government has bombed hospitals, weddings, schools. We gun down journalists, then prosecute the whistleblower who published the video. Prosecutors fight to keep innocent people in jail or even on death row. It's not about helping people. And so contrast that with coastal Florida real estate prices continuing to rise. It's also not about saving such supposedly doomed resources. The earth is also not going to end. We already have prosperous metros below sea level. It is about power and control.

But yes this religion has truths to it. We should follow a principle to first do no harm, and to artificially impact the climate would break a supposed hippocratic oath. But I find it strange and disturbing how psychopathic everyday people can become when it comes to these things. So much hand waving and holier than thou talk and yet I watch the samd kinds of people's behavior and the two do not reconcile.

You are implying (hopefully inadvertently) that the scientific consensus about global climate change does not “stand up to the scrutiny of the scientific method”.

This is a radical and extremely dangerous position, which is primarily promoted by sociopathic industries profiting at the expense of global ruin, along with members of the public who they have successfully deluded through a very large-scale long-term propaganda effort.

> Because the literal destruction of the ecosphere due to global warming is not a sufficient motivation.

Events like this can't shake it. Sadly so much money and power involved in the oil business.

And looking into what giant energy companies are doing for more money and power, you realize the last thing they care is ecosphere.

If there's something I've had to accept is that at the end of the day, societal changes are realized either because the alternative causes financial losses or the "new thing" will bring in higher profit. For example, "pink money"[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_money

I'm not sure you've established cause and effect here. Theres plenty of dirty money around, that hasn't made it socially more acceptable.

I'm not saying that involving money with any X will make X socially acceptable. My comment is specific to most social causes which only gain traction not because of goodwill but because there is a threat of financial/economic losses and/or promise of financial/economic gains. Primary example of 'threats' would be business disruption through protests and boycotts, while the opposite will be promotion and recommendation. Or in the case of this article, people might be convinced of using EVs because there is threat of higher oil prices, not because the environment is being destroyed.

Who owns the supply of minerals required to make electric car batteries?

Does anyone know?

Curious - how much impact we would have on global warming if each and every car currently running is electric? Given that most of the electricity is provided by fossil fuels.

Dont want to come across as a denier, this is a genuine question.

Could only find numbers from the EU, but there passenger cars account for ~18% of total CO2 emissions. Everybody else seems to report cars and trucks as one group so it's hard to estimate how much of that impact is cars.

The overall losses between the power plant and consumers is in the range between 8 and 15%. An electric motor typically is between 85% and 90% efficient. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17%–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels. State-of-the-art fossil fuel plants at 46% efficiency. Using average values gives a ratio of 46x0.885x0.875/19=1.87 (electric almost twice as efficient). This calculus has not taken into account transport and filling the tank and older fossil fuel plants (maybe they compensate each others).

You should also take into account the embodied energy of the battery which is currently produced with fossil fuels. That narrows the efficiency gap a lot.

Yes building an electric car requires more energy than building a conventional vehicle. According to https://www.quora.com/How-much-energy-is-required-to-build-a..., this requires 2.1 year to amortize the difference.

Probably a rather small impact. On the other hand, replacing all energy consumption but transportation with carbon free alternatives isn't enough either.

Global warming doesn't have a simple solution. We need to attack a large number of problems simultaneously if we want a chance to prevent catastrophe.

I was hoping for a number, like say 1%. I wish there was a website which shows you exactly what are the causes of global warming and how much they contribute to it, preferably by industry and country. For example a small country like Australia which has less than 1% of human population, contributes enormously (15% of methane due to animal husbandry) but there is very little being done in that country to control this.


From the proverbial horse's mouth.


No one is worried about plants in general. I'm sure there is at least one species of plant that can survive even some impossibly high warming beyond 20° C.

Overall that article is completely meaningless in relation to climate change. Looking at current events doesn't really tell us anything about the future 30 years. Everything could change or not. Current emissions are already leaving us in a bad spot, future emissions may rise because of developing countries consuming more fossil fuels. Maybe it is impossible to stop using fossil fuels.

I believe that last statement is correct. So the only thing left to do is adapt.

If we look at the UK grid, renewables currently supply about 30% of electricity. This headline [1] from 2014 shows less coal being burnt than the industrial revolution, coal in 2014 also made up 30% [2]. So essentially, in the UK we could power the industrial revolution with the renewables installed today, except we can probably do better because an electric motor is more efficient than a steam engine.

[1] https://www.carbonbrief.org/uk-coal-use-to-fall-to-lowest-le...

[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_Kingdom

Renewables are about 35% of the electricity production in the U.K. (they are much smaller of the total energy consumption due to heating)


The overall trend is that renewables and gas would hit the 45-45% mark soon enough for electricity production since coal plants are closing and almost no new nuclear plants are being built, and existing one will shut down.

Still works out though? renewables ~30% of electricity now, coal 30% of electricity when it undertook the industrial revolution. I'm making the assumption that the industrial revolution was overwhelmingly powered by coal, which seems reasonable, I'm not sure how to go about accounting for horses though.

It was but it’s also not a super interesting figure, burning coal today and during the industrial revolution is completely different and so is the reason why we stopped it it’s less about the environment and more about newer more efficient gas turbines and and cheap North Sea gas as well access to Russian natural gas resources post Cold War.

If you look at when coal usage in Europe started to slow down it ties directly to those two sources rather than an environmental policy.

Despite the availability of renewables the need for energy isn’t slowing down so the total emissions while dampened a bit aren’t slowing down that much either, at least not because of that.

I thought it was an interesting figure. The amount of renewables we have now would have been sufficient for all but the last 150 years, it puts it in context, and indicates to me it probably is possible to move to 100% renewables.

Obviously that is a point of view though, and we are free to disagree :)

Living without oil is definitively possible, we did it for thousands of years. On the other hand, there's no evidence that "adaptation" to continually rising CO2 concentrations is possible.

When we lived without oil we didn’t had a planet with a population of 8 billion people to support.

Climate change isn’t much of a risk to humans as a species just yet, it is however very much a risk to human civilization as we know it.

When CO2 last was as high as it is today, we didn't have a planet with 8 billion people to support either. In fact, there were no people at all.

> Except the CO2 is acting as plant fertilizer:

That's not actually helpful to existing ecosystems, let alone to us.

> And it's not surprising since plants evolved on an earth with CO2 in the thousands of PPM.

None of the current ecosystems (to say nothing of humanity, let alone human civilisations) did. The last time CO2 was above 1000ppm was some time before the E-Og extinction event, 34Ma.

I fail to follow your first argument. How would something that is good for plant life be bad for life on the planet? Plants form the base of the food chain.

Virtually all modern plants grow at higher rates right up to 1200PPM. I'm not sure how taller trees and taller grasslands would affect us negatively.

Presumably, more plant life means more animal life. As there is more food to support ecosystems.

That is a false equivalence. To take it to the extreme, water is the base of life on earth. So adding an extra 2km of water on earth's surface couldn't possibly be bad for life, right?

And it wouldn't necessarily. The thing most of us are concerned with, is to preserve our ecosystem as we know it. Part of it is bebause we know it can sustain us (selfishly).

Another part is, fast changes are hard to adapt to, and fast changes in the environment have already sparked multiple mass extinction events.

And ecosystems are complex and interlinked. They are flexible to an extent, but something that's good for part of the ecosystem isn't necessarily good for the rest; it's easy to have it all collapse (this is documented, as we have witnessed multiple local ecosystem collapses over the years, and it's quite simple to imagine).

Of course, what you say is also true. But, for instance, how do the same plants grow in warmer temperatures? With less water? Without the usual organic life in the soil?

Our ecosystems are not so resilient once we stress them too much, too quickly. Our current way of life is just irresponsible. Let's stop burying our heads in the sand, and come up with rationalizations that arise from cognitive dissonance (which I suspect is what drove you to write this post).

> How would something that is good for plant life be bad for life on the planet?

Because it's only "good for plant life" in the very long (geological) term. In the short and medium (again, geological) terms it's a significant upheaval which is good for pretty much nothing.

> Virtually all modern plants grow at higher rates right up to 1200PPM. I'm not sure how taller trees and taller grasslands would affect us negatively.

The 1200 PPM CO2 and associated effects would do that, especially in the short-term, it would take tens of thousands of years[0] for new ecological equilibriums to be reached during which the entire web would be broken.

> Presumably, more plant life means more animal life

It would mean very different animal life. The intermediary period would be mass deaths across the board.

[0] at the very least, could be millions depending on the scale of disruption, it took ~2My for the ecosphere to stabilise after K–Pg, and a further ~8My for it to recover pre-K-Pg levels of diversity. Local disruptions are easily resolved as species can migrate from neighbouring non-disrupted ecosystems but global disruptions (of the entire ecosphere or of a very isolated ecosystem) not so.

Plants respond immediately to higher CO2 in artificial greenhouse environments. It would be both a short term and long term change.

A study on PPM experiments with 3 grass species: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5799915/

> Plants respond immediately to higher CO2 in artificial greenhouse environments.

Cool I'm very happy for your environmentally controlled greenhouse. Outside the greenhouse, CO2 levels affect more than just plant growth.

When the entire climactic pattern and of an area changes, which plants (and animals) can thrive in it also changes, the old ecosystem is destroyed and it takes time for a new stable ecosystem to establish itself.

And the faster the original disruption the more difficult the transition is.

10% faster growth could easily mean 10% fewer nutrients per kilo of food.

"We know unequivocally that when you grow food at elevated CO2 levels in fields, it becomes less nutritious"


Rising CO2 means reducing performance for humans and other animals. Not a huge problem if you're an agricultural worker working fields near sea level. For those in offices, cities and especially at higher elevations it's simply going to increase the chances of problematic concentrations.

If you keep temperature and humidity controlled, like in a greenhouse, more CO2 is better for plants. It's completely unclear whether the dramatic changes that global climate change will bring will be similarly beneficial to the plants we have today.

The significance of this attack is entirely overblown. DA isn't as crucial to the world's oil supply as they used to be, and they're the only country that might be at risk. It's probably also a one-off attack as SA and the US adjust to the new threat model. The likelihood of another successful attack is going down by the day.

I know this is completely off topic but news on the internet is such a mess. I wanted to read this but I'm going to pay for a bloomberg subscription. I would happily pay some amount of money to read this but there are at least 10 publications in line in front of Bloomberg and because buying one individual subscription get's me access to very little of want I end up willing to pay money but still with no subscriptions and no access to online news.

Netflix for news is such an obvious unicorn and seems like it would be a better situation for medium sized publications like Bloomberg. I don't understand how it doesn't exist yet.

In the Netherlands this exists as Blendle. It worked so well and “threatened” news paper revenue that the news papers now starting their own alternative. The interesting bit is that news papers also make some articles available for free which are paid for on the Blendle platform.

Afaik, Blendle is also expanding to the US.

I hope so! I would pay for that no question. And I have a feeling many other people would as well.

There's also Inkl, but the selection is somewhat limited.

I believe that a literal "Netflix for news" would never be accepted by news sites ("newspapers") due to how much it would take away control and ownership of the customer relation. In an earlier post to hn [0] I have described what I believe might work instead, a payment and co-subscription service offered to news outlets that isn't exposing any own branding to end users. Once you hand over your subscriptions to an aggregator brand, there is no turning back.

Three key assumptions are that

#1 consumers are unwilling to forget the "luniversal availability of the decades of ad-financed web

#2 consumers are unwilling to have more subscriptions than they had in the age of paper (exactly one, almost universally)

#3 the discrepancy between #1 and #2 makes consumers not pay at all unless "Netflix for news" or something equivalent is available

#4 news sites understand and accept the implications, particularly that giving away content to someone who already had a subscriptions elsewhere isn't a lossy sale, due to #2

Main challenges are defining and enforcing the content availability delta between "home" subscription and co-subscription and dealing with price differentials (perhaps by defining the co-subscription availability as a freely scalable ramp?)

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19736903

>Netflix for news is such an obvious unicorn and seems like it would be a better situation for medium sized publications like Bloomberg.

Bloomberg has loads of professional subscribers who either get the news bundled with their terminal subscription or pay for it separately. I get your general point but Bloomberg is not the best example of a medium sized publication that needs this.

Yeah fair enough. I disagree with myself in retrospect. I only meant medium sized as opposed to the absolute top tier.

I don't see policy moving in that direction as a result of this incident. The leaders are happy to find alternative sources to buy oil from.

> I don't see policy moving in that direction as a result of this incident

No, but it would if hostilities escalated. Taking Saudi production offline would spike oil prices. Dramatically.

That would prompt political change, in the same way the OPEC crisis in the 70s did. At that point, the well-positioned (e.g. cities with public transit and electric car manufacturers) will prosper while those with their heads in the sand (e.g. communities dependent on cars for cheap transport and ICE-only manufacturers) will face a quick reckoning.

It's not this attack, it's the next one...and so on. Not sure how and when they can defend their massive infrastructure. A small explosion can cause interruption for days, weeks...

The same is valid for other countries. Destroying towers with electricity transmission lines can cause serious blackouts. Especially in the middle of cold winter. Grid map is online: https://www.entsoe.eu/data/map/

For my small country (NL) that would mean having to import gas from Russia to power our gas-plants to generate electricity for cars. I'm not sure which option is worse.

Or you could build more wind turbines and solar panels. The Netherlands are famously windy.

That is correct. Wind energy is at 1.7 percent in our energy usage. But due to the high density of people and the ageing population we have a high amount of NIMBY.

Yes, but electric cars can improve your social status. And if you're too entitled to drive a vehicle which respects your opinion that the world is going to end, try a hybrid SUV.


Those are all credible motivations but it seems like you've overlooked the need for evidence and also the fact that the Houthi have already taken credit for it.

(4) goes against the common claim that SA needs to keep oil prices down to prevent shale and other competitors with higher extraction costs from coming online.

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