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Mark Z. Jacobson
Mark Zachary Jacobson
1965 (age 53–54)
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Institutions||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Thesis||Developing, coupling, and applying a gas, aerosol, transport, and radiation model to study urban and regional air pollution (1994)|
|Doctoral advisor||Richard P. Turco|
Mark Zachary Jacobson (born 1965) is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of its Atmosphere/Energy Program. Jacobson has developed computer models to study the effects of fossil fuel and biomass burning on air pollution, weather, and climate.
In 2009 Jacobson and Mark Delucchi published a paper in Scientific American proposing that the world should move to 100% renewable energy, namely wind, water, and solar power, in all energy sectors. In 2017, Christopher Clack, Ken Caldeira, and 19 other researchers challenged the findings of a followup 2015 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In response, Jacobson filed, and later withdrew, a libel lawsuit against publisher PNAS, demanding retraction and $10 million in damages.
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Jacobson advocates a speedy transition to renewable energy and renewable energy alone, to reduce the potential acceleration of global warming, including the disappearance of the Arctic Sea ice. Jacobson co-founded the non-profit Solutions Project in 2011 along with Marco Krapels, Mark Ruffalo, and Josh Fox. The Solutions Project, a political advocacy group, combines presentations of science, business, and culture in an effort to influence energy policy switches to the "100% renewable world".
Soot and Aerosol
Jacobson began computer model development in 1990, when he started to build algorithms for what is now called GATOR-GCMOM (Gas, Aerosol, Transport, Radiation, General Circulation, Mesoscale, and Ocean Model). This model simulates air pollution, weather, and climate from the local to global scale. Zhang (2008, pp. 2901, 2902) calls Jacobson's model "the first fully-coupled online model in the history that accounts for all major feedbacks among major atmospheric processes based on first principles."
Several of the individual computer code solvers Jacobson developed for GATOR-GCMOM include the gas and aqueous chemistry ordinary differential equations solvers SMVGEAR and SMVGEAR II, alongside a slew of other related and expanded models, The GATOR-GCMOM model has incorporated these processes and has evolved over several decades.
One of the most important fields of research that Jacobson has added to, with the aid of GATOR-GCMOM, is refining the range of values on exactly how much diffuse tropospheric black carbon, affects the climate. Something initially studied by his PhD adviser Richard Turco, when formulating the "nuclear winter" hypothesis of global cooling. The absorbed solar radiation gets converted to heat, which is re-emitted to the atmosphere. Under other circumstances the sunlight would potentially reflect back out into space, had the light struck a more reflective surface. Therefore as a whole, soot affects the planets albedo, a unit of reflectance. While the more familiar greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere by trapping thermal-infrared heat radiation that is emitted by the surface of the Earth, black carbon warms the atmosphere by absorbing sunlight and re-emitting that energy to the air around it as thermal-infrared heat. Jacobson and others drew from these models, that soot from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and burning wood is a "major cause of the rapid melting of the Arctic's sea ice." Jacobson's refinement to the values on soot and his conclusion that black carbon may be the second leading cause of global warming in terms of radiative forcing was affirmed in the comprehensive review of Bond et al. (2013).
Jacobson has also independently modeled and corroborated the work of World Health Organization researchers, who likewise estimate that soot/particulate matter itself, which causes respiratory illness, heart disease and asthma, from fossil fuels and biofuels, may cause at least 1.5 million premature deaths each year, mostly in the developing world where wood and animal dung are used for cooking from fossil fuel and biofuel sources.
Because of the short atmospheric lifetime of black carbon, in 2002 Jacobson concluded that controlling soot is the fastest way to begin to control global warming and that it will likewise improve human health. However, he cautioned that controlling carbon dioxide, the leading cause of global warming, was imperative for stopping warming.
100% renewable energy
Jacobson has published papers about transitioning to 100% renewable energy systems, including the grid integration of renewable energy. He has concluded that wind, water, and solar (WWS) power can be scaled up in cost-effective ways to fulfill world energy demands in all energy sectors, In 2009 Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi published "A Path to Sustainable Energy" in Scientific American. The article addressed several issues related to transitioning to 100% WWS, such as the energy required in a 100% electric world, the worldwide spatial footprint of wind farms, the availability of scarce materials needed to manufacture new systems and the ability to produce reliable energy on demand. Jacobson has updated and expanded this 2009 paper as the years progress, including a two-part article in the journal Energy Policy in 2010. Jacobson and his colleague estimated that 3.8 million wind turbines of 5-Megawatt (MW) size, 49,000 300-MW concentrated solar power plants, 40,000 300-MW solar PV power plants, 1.7 billion 3-kW rooftop PV systems, 5350 100-MW geothermal power plants, and some 270 new 1300-MW hydroelectric power plants would be needed. All of which would require approximately 1% of the world's land to be achieved.
Jacobson and his colleagues have also published papers for a select number of US states, on transitioning to 100% renewable/WWS energy by 2050. In 2015 Jacobson was lead author in two peer reviewed papers that examined the feasibility of transitioning the United States to a 100% energy system, powered exclusively by wind, water and sunlight(WWS), that also argues as having solved the grid reliability problem with high shares of intermittent sources. In 2016 the editorial board of PNAS selected the grid integration study of Jacobson and his co-workers as best paper in the category "Applied Biological, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences" and awarded him a Cozzarelli Prize.
In June 2017, an article published in the PNAS critiqued Jacobson’s grid integration findings, alleging errors in methodology and assumptions. The PNAS published a response by Jacobson and co-authors disagreeing with Clack et al's premises and reaffirming the paper's conclusions. Clack et al then responded with details on specific errors in the PNAS response, claiming that each invalidated the results of the studies. Jacobson also authored a line-by-line response, and began writing a number of posts for "EcoWatch" which disputed issues with the critique. The posts would also allege The New York Times, Forbes, and other media outlets made errors when they summarized the critique.
Jacobson is co-founder of the non-profit The Solutions Project along with Marco Krapels, Mark Ruffalo, and Josh Fox. This organization "helps to educate the public about science-based 100% renewable energy transition roadmaps and facility a transition to a 100% renewable world".
Opinion on energy systems
Jacobson argues that if the United States wants to reduce global warming, air pollution and energy instability, it should invest only in the best energy options, and that nuclear power is not one of them. Like his PhD advisor Richard P. Turco, who notably coined the phrase "nuclear winter", Jacobson has taken a similar approach to calculating the hypothetical effects of nuclear wars on the climate but has further extended this into providing an analysis that intends to inform policy makers on which energy sources to support, as of 2009. Jacobson's analyses suggest that "nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions per unit energy than wind energy".
This analysis is controversial. Jacobson arrived at this conclusion of "25 times more carbon emissions than wind, per unit of energy generated" (68–180.1 g/kWh), by specifically expanding on some concepts that are highly contested. These include, though are not limited to, the suggestion that emissions associated with civil nuclear energy should, in the upper limit, include the risk of carbon emissions associated with the burning of cities resulting from a nuclear war aided by the expansion of nuclear energy and weapons to countries previously without them. An assumption that Jacobson's debating opponent similarly raised, during the Ted talk Does the world need nuclear energy? in 2010, with Jacobson heading the debate in the negative. Jacobson assumes, at the high end (180.1 g/kWh), that 4.1 g/kWh are due to some form of nuclear induced burning that will occur once every 30 years. At the low end, 0 g/kWh are due to nuclear induced burning. Responding to a commentary on his work in the Journal Environmental Science and Technology in 2013, Dr. James Hansen has characterized Jacobson's analysis on this topic of greenhouse gas emissions, as "lack(ing) credibility" and similarly regards Jacobson's other viewpoint of extra "opportunity-cost" emissions as "dubious". With the foundation of Hansen's incredulity being based on French experience, that decarbonized ~80% of the grid in 15 years, completed 56 reactors in the 15 year period, thus raising the fact that depending on the existence of established regulator certainty & political conditions, nuclear energy facilities have been accelerated through the licensing/planning phase and have therefore rapidly decarbonizated electric grids.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) regard Yale University's Warner and Heath's methodology, used to determine the Life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions of energy sources, as the most credible, reporting that the conceivable range of total-life-cycle nuclear power emission figures, are between 4-110 g/kWh, with the specific median value of 12 g/kWh, being deemed the strongest supported and 11 g/kWh for Wind. While Jacobson's limited lifecycle figures, of 9-70 g/kWh, falls within this IPCC range. The IPCC however, does not factor in Jacobson's "opportunity cost" emissions on any energy source. The IPCC has not provided a detailed explanation for not including Jacobson's "opportunity costs". Aside from the time required for planning, financing, permitting, and constructing a power plant, for every energy source that can be analyzed, the time required and therefore Jacobson's "opportunity costs" also depends on political factors, for example hypothetical legal cases that can stall construction and other issues that can arise from site specific NIMBYISM. It is the delay/opportunity cost CO2 emissions that are the bulk of the difference between Jacobson's overall emissions for nuclear of 68-180.1 g/kWh and the IPCC's lifecycle emissions.
Jacobson's 100% renewable world approach is supported by a 2016 publication by Mark Cooper, who has previously critiqued nuclear energy at the Vermont Law School, In 2016 Cooper published, a comparison of the 100% WWS roadmaps of Jacobson with deep decarbonization proposals that included nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture. Cooper concluded that the 100% WWS pathway was the least cost and “Neither fossil fuels with CCS or nuclear power enters the least-cost, low-carbon portfolio.” This conclusion by Cooper is in stark contrast to a number of publications from 2011 to 2015, assessments by the Brookings Institution, Professor of Economics at MIT, Paul Joskow along with some independent scientists who have analyzed, with a different methodology, the various strategies proposed to get to a global zero or low carbon economy, by circa 2050. In these varied reports, the renewables-alone approach, has been claimed to cost "orders of magnitude" more and be more difficult to achieve than the more flexible energy paths, that have been assessed.
Loftus' assessment of some decarbonization plans, including Jacobson's, concluded in 2014-2015, that "more detailed analyses realistically addressing the key constraints", specifically relating to "the costs associated with integration of large amounts of variable generation" are needed. Jacobson's 100% renewable world, has raised concerns about integration/grid-stability and the issue of Brownouts damaging equipment, some solutions presented for these issues include an expansion on the reliance of energy storage systems. Jacobson counters these by citing 24 publications, primarily penned by the authors Breyer, Mathieson, Jacobson himself, and Diesendorf, that instead argue, that the "100% renewable world" is not simply theoretically possible but will work out cheaper than present electricity rates.
Opinions on Fukushima
In response to Jacobson's paper on estimating the health effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which projected approximately 180 "cancer-related morbidities" to eventually occur in the public, health physicist Professor Kathryn Higley of Oregon State University wrote in 2012, "The methods of the study were solid, and the estimates were reasonable, although there is still uncertainty around them. But given how much cancer already exists in the world, it would be very difficult to prove that anyone’s cancer was caused by the incident at Fukushima Daiichi. The World Health Organization estimates that 7.8 million people died worldwide in 2008, so 130 out of that number is quite small." She later said her remarks were "insufficiently nuanced". Burton Richter, tenured in Stanford with Jacobson, similarly stated in his critique, "It is a first rate job and uses sources of radioactivity measurements that have not been used before to get a very good picture of the geographic distribution of radiation, a very good idea". Richter also noted that "I also think there is too much editorializing about accident potential at Diablo Canyon which makes [Jacobson's] paper sound a bit like an anti-nuclear piece instead of the very good analysis that it is," and "It seems clear that considering only the electricity generated by the Fukushima plant, nuclear is much less damaging to health than coal and somewhat better that [sic] gas even after including the accident. If nuclear power had never been deployed in Japan the effects on the public would have [been] much worse."
British author and environmental activist Mark Lynas has criticized the paper's reliance on the disputed Linear no-threshold model (LNT) in its assessment of worldwide health effects. Lynas notes that in a 2007 recommendation, the International Commission on Radiological Protection had warned "the calculation of the number of cancer deaths based on collective effective doses from trivial individual doses [LNT] should be avoided." Due to its reliance on theory discredited by U.S. and international radiation experts, Lynas concluded Jacobsen et al's paper was "based on junk science" and was "worse than useless."
Criticism and lawsuit
In 2017, Ken Caldeira and 20 other researchers published the largest focused critique of Jacobson's "100% Renewable world" paper. David Victor of the University of California, San Diego, a co-author of the critique of Jacobson’s model for a cheap "100% renewable world", was motivated to contribute to the paper "when policy makers started using this [Jacobson] paper for scientific support." When it was "obviously incorrect".
This 2017 critique resulted in Jacobson filing a lawsuit against the peer-reviewed scientific journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Christopher Clack as the principal author of the paper, demanding $10 million in damages for defamation. News reports and academics have criticized the lawsuit. Jacobson withdrew the lawsuit in 2018 after re-evaluating the time and cost associated with potential appeals, stating that when he filed the lawsuit, he expected a settlement.
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- Jacobson, M. Z., Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, and Solutions, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2011.
- Jacobson, Mark Z (2001). "Strong radiative heating due to the mixing state of black carbon in atmospheric aerosols". Nature. 409 (6821): 695–697. doi:10.1038/35055518. PMID 11217854.
- Streets; et al. (2001). "Recent Reductions in China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions". Science. 294 (5548): 1835–1837. doi:10.1126/science.1065226. PMID 11729288.
- Jacobson, Mark Z (2001). "Global direct radiative forcing due to multicomponent anthropogenic and natural aerosols". Journal of Geophysical Research. 106 (2): 1551–1568. Bibcode:2001JGR...106.1551J. doi:10.1029/2000JD900514.
- Jacobson, Mark Z (2002). "Control of fossil-fuel particulate black carbon and organic matter, possibly the most effective method of slowing global warming". Journal of Geophysical Research. 107 (D19): 16–22. Bibcode:2002JGRD..107.4410J. doi:10.1029/2001JD001376.
- Jacobson, Mark Z; Colella, W. G.; Golden, D. M. (2005). "(2005) Cleaning the Air and Improving Health with Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles". Science. 308 (5730): 1901–1905. Bibcode:2005Sci...308.1901J. doi:10.1126/science.1109157. PMID 15976300.
- Jacobson, Mark Z; Archer, Christina L. (2005). "Evaluation of global wind power". Journal of Geophysical Research. 110 (D12): 16–22. Bibcode:2005JGRD..11012110A. doi:10.1029/2004JD005462.
- Jacobson, Mark Z (2009). "Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security". Energy and Environmental Science. 2 (2): 148–173 . CiteSeerX 10.1.1.180.4676. doi:10.1039/b809990c.
- Jacobson, Mark Z; Delucchi, Mark A. (2011). "Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials". Energy Policy. 39 (3): 1154–1169. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.040.
- Jacobson, Mark Z; Delucchi, Mark A. (2011). "Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II: Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies". Energy Policy. 39 (3): 1170–1190. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.045.
- Jacobson, Mark Z; Archer, Christina L. (2012). "Saturation wind power potential and its implications for wind energy". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (39): 15679–15684. Bibcode:2012PNAS..10915679J. doi:10.1073/pnas.1208993109. PMC 3465402. PMID 23019353.
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- Jacobson; et al. (2015). "100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States". Energy and Environmental Science. 8 (7): 2093–2117. doi:10.1039/C5EE01283J.
- Jacobson; et al. (2015). "Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (49): 15060–15065. Bibcode:2015PNAS..11215060J. doi:10.1073/pnas.1510028112. PMC 4679003. PMID 26598655.
- Jacobson, Mark Z.; Delucchi, Mark A.; Cameron, Mary A.; Frew, Bethany A. (27 June 2017). "The United States can keep the grid stable at low cost with 100% clean, renewable energy in all sectors despite inaccurate claims". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (26): E5021–E5023. Bibcode:2017PNAS..114E5021J. doi:10.1073/pnas.1708069114. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 5495290. PMID 28630350.
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The Jacobson et al. work has been show very clearly to contain a large number of fundamental errors, each on their own invalidating the results of the studies (many of which are not at all brought up by this response).
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the calculation of the number of cancer deaths based on collective effective doses from trivial individual doses should be avoided.
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