of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Results
Challenged by Recent H. Douglas Lightfoot Paper
A recent independent review, by H.
Douglas Lightfoot, of a crucial Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Climate
Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (AR4), appears in the December 2010 (vol.
21.7) issue of Energy & Environment (Multi-Science Publishing).
15, 2010 -- H. Douglas Lightfoot's recent paper,
"Nomenclature, radiative forcing andtemperature
in IPCC Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis
(AR4)", identifiessignificant inconsistencies
and problems in the crucial IPCC AR4 report.
main problems are identified:
carbon dioxide concentration units have been confused.
Measurement units of “parts per million
by volume” (ppmv), meticulously specified by Charles
Keeling for measurements of carbon dioxideconcentration
in the atmosphere, were replaced by “parts per million”
(ppm), a measurement by weight withoutsufficient
notification. For carbon dioxide, 1 ppmv is equal to 1.52
ppm, a significant difference.
“This confusion has escaped
to the scientific community at large,” explains author H.
Douglas Lightfoot, “andhas potential to cause
serious problems. One has only to remember the Gimli
Glider, an Air Canada flight,which ran
out of fuel in mid-air over confusion between gallons and
litres, to recognize potential hazards inconfusing
most frequently quoted estimate of the warming effect of
carbon dioxide appears to be overestimated
large discrepancy in the warming contribution of carbon
dioxide between pre-industrial times
and the present era. Before 1750, carbon dioxide was
estimated to contributeapproximately 11% of the
warming effect, whereas between 1750 and 2005 the IPCC
report states the effect atclose to
100% of total warming.
paper suggests the large discrepancy in values is
unsubstantiated, casting doubt on the validity of the IPCCs
reported contribution of carbon dioxide to current global
paper explains that there is simply no evidence to support
the upper range of projected increases inatmospheric
to 2100 of between 2.9 and 6.4C, stated in the AR4 report.
Using only informationpresented in the AR4 report,
calculations show that required levels of atmospheric
carbon dioxide are two tofour
times more than is possible for the scenario estimates of
world energy demand in the year 2100.
Identified inconsistencies in
the AR4 report are evidence that there are no trustworthy
temperature projections in AR4 for the purpose of
reasonable recommendation is that the IPCC issue a warning
about the problems in AR4,” Mr. Lightfoot explained,
“followed by a schedule for completing necessary
corrections. This would minimize damage to thecredibility
of the IPCC and that of its scientists, many of whom have
done good work and are not associatedwith the
temperature change projections.”
investigation into how these problems passed through
unnoticed would be a welcome further step,” Mr. Lightfoot
explained. “It is imperative that a body of engineers and
scientists independent of the IPCC verify theresults
of the re-assessment. I support the 2010 Interacademy
Council review of the IPCC’s procedures. Theirrecommendations
are an important step towards preventing the types of
problems identified in the IPCC’s AR4report.”
currently have a debate in the climate sciences,” Mr.
Lightfoot explained. “It is possible that several of the existing
inconsistencies identified in my recent paper are
contributing to this debate. It is my hope that theprocess
for correcting these problems can change the debate to a
useful and beneficial dialogue.”
science journalists and editors:
more detailed explanation of this paper’s findings is
available by contacting The Lightfoot Institute through their
H. Douglas Lightfoot:
retired Mechanical Engineer, H. Douglas Lightfoot
graduated from the University of British Columbia andlater
received an MBA from Concordia University. He spent
eighteen years with Domtar Inc., working onresearch,
engineering and economic studies of alternate energies as
well as a wide variety of projects for thepulp and
paper, chemicals and construction materials businesses. He
is an affiliated member of the GlobalEnvironmental
and Climate Change Centre (GEC3), McGill University
branch. He is also co-founder of TheLightfoot
The Lightfoot Institute:
Lightfoot Institute is a Canadian non-profit research and
education organization, with charitable status, formed:
generate awareness of today’s global energy challenges and
to advance a workable and sustainable planthat
would solve the universally growing needs.”
Energy & Environment:
Environment is an interdisciplinary journal aimed at
natural scientists, technologists and the international
and indirect environmental impacts of energy
acquisition, transport, production and use.
of the paper are available at the following website:
New institute brings accurate
analysis crucial to understanding our energy future.
(PRWEB) September 29, 2010 -- The Lightfoot Institute is a
newly founded non-profit researchand
education organization formed:
generate awareness of today's global energy challenges and
to advance a workable and sustainable plan that would
solve the universally growing needs."
little understanding of how much energy we use,” said
co-founder H. Douglas Lightfoot. “For
instance, the United States used more energy in 1850 than
60 per cent of the world’s countries use today — andthat’s
before Henry Ford’s Model-T revolutionized transportation
in the early part of the 20th century.”
"We must have adequate energy
to adapt to climate change, whether or not climate is
warming or cooling, otherwise the environment
will be destroyed," he explained. "The trees we all enjoy
will be burned to heat people's houses."
income, we use energy in a discretionary manner,”
explained co-founder Brian G. Lightfoot. “Manufacturing
energy of about two litres of gasoline. Arbitrarily limiting
our energy use will have many negative and unforeseen
Lightfoot Institute has recently received status as a
Registered Charity in Canada.
can now offer you a valuable opportunity to join us in
promoting a reliable energy supply, to keep the lights on, the
machines running and a sustainable future for us all.
retired Mechanical Engineer, H. Douglas Lightfoot
graduated from the University of British Columbia and later
received an MBA from Concordia University. He spent
eighteen years with Domtar Inc., working on
research, engineering and economic studies of alternate
energies as well as a wide variety of projects for the pulp and
paper, chemicals and construction materials businesses. He
is a member of the Global Environmentaland
Climate Change Centre (GEC3), McGill University branch.
About Brian G. Lightfoot
G. Lightfoot, worked for many years as a senior technical
writer in the telecommunications industry. He has a
bachelor's degree in psychology from McGill University, a
computer applications programming certificate and is a
graduate of the Canadian Securities Course. He co-wrote
and co-produced the widely respected
documentary film, Nobody's Fuel, and is currently adapting
a textbook on energy for lay audiences.
the following article:
September 8th, 2010 By
Steven D. Lightfoot
An Age of Pessimism
Goddard was a dreamer and inventor. Born in Massachusetts in 1882, he was
a sickly child, and fell behind his fellow students. But
he had aninsatiable
curiosity about the physical world and was a voracious
reader. He managed to become valedictorian of his high
school class, stating in his address, "It has often proved
true that the dream of yesterday is the hope of today, and
the reality of tomorrow."
had dreams of practical liquid fueled rocketry, and he was
the pioneer in the field. In 1926 he launched his first
liquid- fueled rocket, and worked throughout the 1930s to
develop his designs for higher altitude. His work was so
successful that it caught the attention of the Germans,
who during the second world war, used their own V2 liquid
fueled rocket, built around Goddard’s ideas, to attack
England. And he believed that liquid fueled rockets had
the capability of taking man to the moon. Robert Goddard
was a visionary and achieved amazing things.
And yet he
was mercilessly ridiculed for his efforts and belief that
his liquid rocket technology would take man into space. In
1920 a New York Times editorial expressed disbelief
that Professor Goddard actually "does not know of the
relation of action to reaction, and the need to have
something better than a vacuum against which to react".
Goddard, the Times declared, "only seems to lack the
knowledge ladled out daily in high schools”.
finally served many years after his death, when the Times
published a short item entitled “A Correction” on July 17, 1969, the day after the
launch of Apollo 11. Although a bit tongue-in-cheek, but
no doubt heartfelt, "A Correction", summarized its 1920
editorial mocking Goddard, and concluded, "Further
investigation and experimentation have confirmed the
findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now
definitely established that a rocket can function in a
vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the
(1824-1907) was a British engineer and physicist, who
among other achievements, was noted for his work on the
transatlantic telegraph, the mariner’s compass, and on the
laws of thermodynamics. He was knighted and elevated to
the House of Lords in London,
earning the title Lord Kelvin. He is probably best known
in scientific circles for developing the concept of an
absolute zero temperature, and thus the temperature unit
Kelvin is named in his honour. In his day Lord Kelvin
was extremely successful, and very well respected.
And he became
additionally well known in the technical world for a
prediction gone wrong. In a 1902 newspaper interview, one
year before the Wright brothers’ first flight, he
predicted that "no balloon and no aeroplane will ever be
there was a time, early in the past century, when
prestigious newspapers and learned persons, not to mention
the general public, had little faith in the potential for
advancement of technology.
How times have changed.
Relentless Advance of Technology
I bought a
run-of-the-mill new laptop computer last week. It cost me
eight hundred dollars, and it has 4 Gigabytes of random
access memory (RAM). In 1983, my parents bought our family
an Apple II computer for three thousand dollars. It had
64K of RAM memory, which was already 4 times more than the
moon-landing Apollo 11 spacecraft on-board computer,
developed by NASA 14 years earlier. Thus from 1983 to
today, a period of 27 years, a consumer grade personal
computer has increased in at least one aspect of
performance by a factor of 63,000 and dropped in price by
75% (not even considering inflation). I don’t really need
to remind you that the computing power of the personal
computer has increased exponentially since it was first
And it’s not
just computers. There isn’t a day that goes by when some
new advancement in technology isn’t announced in the
literally everywhere, and with the introduction of the
Internet, tool of communication and trading of
information, the root of all technical innovation, the
rate of advance only increases.
odds-defying advances are everywhere.
it’s new very serious diseases arriving on the scene such
as HIV/AIDS, and at least life-prolonging treatment
developed within two decades of its arrival. It’s MRI
development, giving accurate non-invasive diagnosis almost
in real time. From unravelling the human genome, to stem
cell research and disease treatment, it does not stop.
developed space aircraft are on the verge of taking paying
passengers into space, and the international space station
is going strong.
there are no limits to what technology can do. Even
aircraft that are powered by the sun are making the news.
Solar Aviation –
the Sky’s the Limit
Impulse project is the brainchild of Bertrand Piccard, a
Swiss balloonist and adventurer. Piccard, in conjunction
Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, is developing two
aircraft for what is planned to become the first attempt
to circumnavigate the globe in a solar powered aircraft.
aircraft, named HB-SIA, is a prototype, being tested in
2010 and making big news doing so. The second aircraft,
named HB-SIB, will be slightly larger and will have the
capacity to travel around the world in around 25 days.
The first Solar
Impulse aircraft is aone-seater. It has a very large wingspan
–63 meters, and is 21 meters long. It has four
10-horsepower electric motors, driving propellers, and has
a maximum speed in flight of 70 kilometers per hour. It is
made of lightweight materials such as carbon fibre.
sheer thrill of adventure, Piccard`s motives for
attempting such a groundbreaking technical feat are about
showing how science and technology can be used for the
development of renewable energy sources.
He is quoted
as saying "We have to support the environment without
threatening the world economy and our mobility. Solar
Impulse will show that a win-win situation is possible."
A Challenge to the Reader
now going to pose a challenge to the reader. Would you
follow me through a very short, but meaningful,
engineering calculation? There is a lesson to be learned
on the completion of the calculation, and I think, if
you have the patience to follow, you will profit from
it. OK, here
goes. Asking myself the question “With all the interest
surrounding solar aviation, could solar power be used to
power a typical modern passenger aircraft?”, I set out to
find an answer. It is a surprisingly simple calculation,
so please follow along, if you wish.
concept of conservation of energy (from the First Law of
Thermodynamics, but please, don’t let these fancy words
intimidate you), let us simply compare the maximum
possible amount of solar power available from the sun
landing on the upper surface of the aircraft (that would
somehow be converted into forward propulsive power)
compared to the actual power consumed during take-off.
Let’s consider using a fairly big aircraft, say, the
Boeing 737-900, for example. This is the latest version of
the 737, the passenger transport workhorse of many
publicly available specifications for the 737-900, the
total surface area of the aircraft when viewed from above
is approximately 290 square meters. Let’s assume it’s
completely covered in solar panels, and all of the sun’s
power gets transferred into the propulsion system.
Assuming the power from the sun landing on the aircraft
skin is approximately 1.0 kilowatt per square meter at
sea-level (this is also called insolation, and 1.0 is a
typical value used at the equator, for a sunny day), the
total solar power available to the aircraft is therefore
290 kilowatts (kW). For those readers who prefer dealing
in Imperial units, this equates to about 390 horsepower,
the power typically available from a large automobile
So, how much
power is required to get a 737-900 off the ground and into
the air, at high speed? From publicly available
information, the fuel consumption of the jet engine on the
737-900 (called the CFM56-7) under full power (take-off)
conditions is approximately 0.91 kilograms per second.
There are two engines on a 737, so the total fuel
consumption at take-off is 1.82 kilograms per second.
Knowing that the energy content of jet fuel (similar to
kerosene) is about 43,000 kilojoules per kilogram,
multiplying the two gives 78,260 kilojoules per second (or
kilowatts, as kilojoules per second are known).
maximum possible power available from the sun is 290
kilowatts, and the fuel power required at take-off is
78,260 kilowatts (or about 105,000 horsepower). This
results in the conclusion that the aircraft take-off power
requirement is 270 times greater than the maximum power
available from the sun.
with a technical background, I will point out that my
calculations are highly simplistic, in that I have
disregarded both solar cell efficiencies and jet engine
efficiencies (converting fuel energy into forward thrust).
Given that solar cell efficiency and jet engine
efficiencies are both in the order of 30 to 40 percent,
the overall power ratio remains the same. So, in
summary, our very simple energy-balance engineering
calculation shows the impossibility of ever powering a
large, high-speed passenger aircraft with solar power.
Predicting The Future Of Solar Aviation
So, now that
we have established that solar power is insufficient to
power a transport aircraft the size of a 737 (with its
speed and passenger carrying performance characteristics)
by a factor of 270 to 1, let’s quickly estimate what the
specifications of a solar powered aircraft with the
wingspan similar to that of a 737 would look like.
the available solar power for the aircraft is in the order
of 290 kW (or 390 HP) and the electrical power available
is a lot less in practice, there would probably be one or
several small electric motor-driven propellers. The
aircraft might have lightweight and dense batteries for
some power storage. The aircraft would have a large
wingspan (for solar power collection as well as high lift
at low speed), but the body would be small and thin, and
the whole structure would be lightweight, no doubt made of
carbon fibre and other composite materials. The aircraft
would be slow moving, and fragile, and possibly be able to
carry one, or maybe several passengers, at the most.
behold, that sounds a lot like a description of Solar
words, Solar Impulse, for all the wonder that it is, is
about the best humanity is ever going to get out of a
solar powered airplane. Any notion that the sun will ever
power a heavier-than-air passenger-carrying aircraft
significantly larger or faster than Solar Impulse is
simply incorrect. The power required from the sun is
simply not available in sufficient quantity, as we have
Building Unrealistic Expectations
Bertrand Piccard’s goals are noble, and Solar Impulse is a
great project. Both inspiring a new generation of aviation
adventure, and generating interest in sustainable
development are good objectives.
aircraft no doubt have a practical future, possibly being
used as long-duration, high altitude communication
platforms. But solar power will never drive large,
high-speed transport aircraft. We have proven it together
in this article, and should anyone propose to develop one,
we can advise against it with confidence.
I take issue with one of the outcomes of Solar Impulse. I
have heard a senior executive in civil transport aviation
(someone without technical training), speak about research
into solar aviation. He left the decided impression among
the listeners that solar aviation for passenger traffic
was not only possible, but also the inevitable future of
Piccard attempts to show that air mobility is not
threatened when supporting the environment by the use of
solar power, he is entirely wrong. Affordable air travel
for the general public is completely threatened by the use
of solar power for aircraft propulsive power.
like Solar Impulse are used, whether purposefully or not,
to further the public’s expectations that anything is
literally possible via technology, this is not only wrong,
but also dangerous.
Unlike in the early part of the 20th
century, the general public has come to have a very
different view of technology and its possibilities.
I have heard it said by numerous economists
that regarding climate change, and greenhouse gas
emission reductions, economic incentive plans such as a
carbon tax will spur technical innovation, with the
implication that there are no limits to technology. Tax
it, and it will come! The technical solution, that is.
This kind of thinking is somewhat naïve. No
doubt economic incentive schemes can have an effect,
depending on the technology available.
point in performing the aircraft calculation above was
to show that there are limits to technology based on,
among other things, physical laws. Today we suffer from
the opposite problem of the past, namely, the general
public, not to mention some economists, believe there
are no limits. We have developed unrealistic
expectations of what is possible.
Critical Thinking Required
some very difficult challenges going forward, especially
with regards to reducing emissions of all kinds, and
building a more sustainable energy future. And while there
are huge political elements to these challenges, there are
also technical challenges.
personally against any effort to make the challenges we
have look easy to solve, and the proposal of simplistic
solutions to hugely integrated problems. When our citizens
en masse start to expect unfeasible miracles from
technology, and this gets translated into unrealistic
policy from government bodies, we all lose. Investment
money, a limited resource, is wasted on projects that
ultimately do not deliver concrete benefits to society.
And time is wasted.
There is much
serious work to do to build a sustainable future. We need
to embrace our enthusiasm for technical solutions with
critical thinking so that the best, most realistic
solutions are implemented.
We must not
be lulled into thinking there are easy solutions to
energy-related technical challenges, or sold exaggerated
capabilities. There is too much at stake to get it wrong.
Learning From Icarus
Greek mythology fame, was the son of Daedalus. Icarus and
his father were imprisoned on the island of Crete by King Minos.
In an effort to escape, Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings
out of wax and feathers for himself and his son.
with his new wings, and the possibility of flight, Icarus
flew too close to the sun, beyond the capabilities of his
wings. His wax wings melted and he plunged to his death in
theIcarianSea, which today bears
We can learn
from Icarus. All the technology around us is astounding.
As I have described, as a society, we have gone from
underestimating the possibility of technological advance,
to now believing there are no limits. We are told time and
again that all of the huge challenges facing our world, be
it climate change, peak oil, and future energy crises are
all solvable with existing and future technology that will
inevitably be developed.
But there are
limits, and the laws of physics apply today just as they
always have. We need to balance our enthusiasm for
technology with the critical thinking required to properly
evaluate which future technologies make sense and which
don’t. We have the power to do this.
allow our belief in the future of technology to cause us
to fly too close to the sun, wasting precious time and
resources on ill-thought out ideas.
About the author: Steven D. Lightfoot is a
Mechanical Engineer who trained at McGill University. He
has worked for 20 years in the aerospace and power
generation industries, and is currently employed in the
consulting engineering industry in Montreal.
- - -
got the math wrong
January 7th, 2010
The level of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding
the real and perceived issues of "climate change" related
to CoP 15 in Copenhagen is enormous, but it need not be. .
H. Douglas Lightfoot Wins Canadian Nuclear
Author of Nobody's
Fuel wins CNS/CNA Education and
(PRWEB) June 2, 2008
H. Douglas Lightfoot, of Nobodysfuel.com, has won the
Education and Communication Award for 2008, a joint
award from the Canadian Nuclear Society/Société
Nucléaire Canadienne (CNS) and the Canadian Nuclear
"We are very pleased with the positive response our
message continues to receive," said H. Douglas
Lightfoot. "The DVD of Nobody's Fuel was prepared to
communicate to the public the Nobody's Fuel Energy
Supply Plan. It is a workable plan to lift poor nations
out of poverty, maintain the well-being of everyone on
Earth, adapt to climate change, and protect the
environment. It leaves no one behind."
"We must have adequate energy to adapt to climate
change, whether or not climate is warming or cooling,
otherwise the environment will be destroyed," Lightfoot
explained. "The trees we all enjoy will be burned to
heat people's houses."
The awards ceremony will take place at the evening
banquet on Tuesday June 3rd during the Canadian Nuclear
Society's 29th Annual Conference, June 1st to 4th at the
Marriott Hotel in Toronto, Ontario.
About Nobody's Fuel:
Nobody's Fuel was produced to make people aware of
impending energy challenges ahead, and to promote a
workable plan to provide the energy the world needs,
while ameliorating the carbon emission problem.
DVD title: H. Douglas Lightfoot's Nobody's Fuel --
energy supply is more important than climate change.
About the Canadian Nuclear Society/Société Nucléaire
The Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) was established in
1979 as "the technical society of the Canadian Nuclear
The CNS is dedicated to the exchange of information in
the field of applied nuclear science and technology.
This encompasses all aspects of nuclear energy, uranium,
fission and other nuclear technologies such as
occupational and environmental protection, medical
diagnosis and treatment, the use of radioisotopes, and
For more information, see: www.cns-snc.ca.
# # #
- - -
is Nobody’s Fuel
BY MARC LALONDE
Baie d’Urfé resident Doug Lightfoot’s got an
inconvenient truth for you: it’s an overdependence on
fossil fuels that’s going to sap the planet’s finite
resources before climate change can really even take
Lightfoot, a retired mechanical engineer and a member
of McGill University’s Global Environmental and
Climate Change Centre, has produced and is actively
promoting a DVD production called Nobody’s Fuel, which
details his hypothesis that the world’s current
reliance on finite fossil fuels will lead us all into
“I’ve been studying this for a long time — since the
1970s, actually,” said Lightfoot, who has published
multiple research papers detailing the consumption and
depletion of the world’s natural fuel resources. “The
reason the United States is so rich is because it has
been burning more energy than anyone else.”
For instance, Lightfoot reports the United States used
more energy in 1850 than 60 per cent of the world’s
countries use today — and that’s before Henry Ford’s
Model-T revolutionized transportation in the early
part of the 20th century.
The solution, he contends, is nuclear energy that is
gleaned from uranium in fast-breeding reactors —
nuclear fission energy.
“There has been
enough uranium mined already to power the world for
another 150 to 200 years,” he said. “Using
fast-breeder reactors, we could have enough energy to
last for tens of thousands of years,” he said, adding
that one kilogram of uranium holds more energy than
2.3 million litres of gasoline.”
Now, he’s taking Nobody’s Fuel on the road. Lightfoot,
who has produced a two-hour DVD detailing his ideas -
available on his website, nobodysfuel.com - will speak
at the Senneville Curling Club.
The presentation, which includes a viewing of the DVD,
is slated for Sunday at the Senneville Curling Club.
The nuclear-fission idea, Lightfoot says, is not out
of the financial question.
“It’s not untenable from an economic standpoint, and
even if the price of uranium goes up, it’s still
within reason,” he said.
The big obstacle is getting scientists and engineers
together to help the engineers put the scientists’
ideas into practice, he said.
“We have to bring the two fields together to make
things work past a theoretical standpoint,” Lightfoot