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Amazonian drought

Filed under: — gavin @ 4 August 2006 - (Slovenčina)

There has been a flurry of recent commentary concerning Amazon drought – some of it good, some of it not so good. The good stuff has revolved around a recently-completed interesting field experiment that was run out of the Woods Hole Research Center (not to be confused with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), where they have been examining rainforest responses to drought – basically by using a very large rainproof tent to divert precipitation at ground level (the trees don’t get covered up). As one might expect, a rainforest without rain does not do well! But exactly what happens when and how the biosphere responds are poorly understood. This 6 year long field experiment may provide a lot of good new data on plant strategies for dealing with drought which will be used to improve the models and our understanding of the system.

The not-so-good part comes when this experiment is linked too directly to the ongoing drought in the southern Amazon. In the experiment, older tree mortality increased markedly after the third year of no rain at all (with around 1 in 10 trees dying). Since parts of the Amazon are now entering a second year of drought (possibly related to a persistent northward excursion of the ITCZ), the assumption in the Independent story (with the headline ‘One year to save the Amazon’) was that trees will start dying forest-wide next year should the drought continue.

This is incorrect for a number of reasons. Firstly, drought conditions are not the same as no rain at all – the rainfall deficit in the middle of the Amazon is significant, but not close to 100%! Secondly, the rainfall deficits are quite regionally variable, so a forest-wide response is highly unlikely. Also, the trees won’t all die in just one more year and could recover, depending on yearly variation in climate.

While this particular article is exaggerated, there are, however, some issues that should provoke genuine concern. Worries about the effects of the prolonged drought (and other natural and human-related disturbances) in the Amazon are indeed widespread and are partly related to the idea that there may be a ‘tipping point’ for the rainforest (see this recent article for some background). This idea is exemplified in a study last year (Hutrya et al, 2005) which looked at the sharp transition between forest and savannah and related that to the coupling of drought incidence and wild fires with the forest ecosystem. Modelling work has suggested that the Amazon may have two vegetation/regional climate equilibria due to vegetation and climate tending to reinforce each other if one is pushed in a particular direction (Oyama and Nobre, 2003). The two alternative states could be one rainforested and wet like today, the other mainly savannah and dry in the Eastern Amazon. Thus there is a fear that too much drought or disturbance could flip parts of the forest into a more savannah-like state. However, there is a great deal of uncertainty in where these thresholds may lie and how likely they are to be crossed, and the rate at which change will occur. Models go from predicting severe and rapid change (Cox et al, 2004), to relatively mild changes (Friedlingstein et al (2003)). Locally these responses can be dramatic, but of course, these changes also have big implications for total carbon cycle feedback and so have global consequences as well.

Part of that uncertainty is related to the very responses that are being monitored in the WHRC experiment and so while I would hesitate to make a direct link, indirectly these results may have big consequences for what we think may happen to the Amazon in the future.

Special thanks to Nancy Kiang for taking the time to discuss this with me.

Update: WHRC comments on the articles below.


128 Responses to “Amazonian drought”

  1. 51

    Controlled burns are the only way I know of to do this sort of study. Have you an alternative to suggest?

    Not doing controlled burns in a drought striken area. In other words, by not conducting experiments to demonstrate the obvious.

    It’s farcical, an blunt and immediate demonstration of how low our scientific standards have sunk.

  2. 52
    Liam says:

    In all honesty arguing about controlled burns in the Amazon is ridiculous. In less than a months time there are going to be 100,000′s of controlled burns, some of which will get out of control.

    Re 50: “From a business perspective, there is no ‘economic’ prosperity in conservation”

    Come on, there is no way even from a business perspective that you can argue there is prosperity in environmental destruction. In fact there is a gain from a business perspective of conservation.

    Here’s a business perspective.

    1) Productivity enhancement does not mean wringing ever more work out of a man hour, inspite of what millions of businessmen and economists say. It means wringing ever more profit for less and less cost. One of those costs, and a significant one as we have to keep relearning is energy costs. The more efficient a company becomes the more money it makes, the less environmental cost. Look at Du Pont, reduced CO2 emissions by over 70%, and is the market leader, that’s not an accident.

    2) The costs, born by taxpayers and thus government services of cleaning up industrial waste, not to mention human waste, is a drag on prosperity. Force companies to deal with their own waste and you’ll see increased efficiency, productivity, and new ways of doing things.

    From a purely economic perspective look at the difference between EU and US prosperity. It is routinely argued that the EU is one third less prosperous than the US. Fair enough in purely monetary terms, but when you factor in quality public transport, more compact cities and therefore less travel time and costs, you find that EU citizens need less money to have the same level of prosperity. They have to spend less on oil. There are of course other factors associated with the prosperity gap, but that is a fairly robust example of the muddled thinking associated with the notion of prosperity.

    Also there is a valid argument for putting valuations on things, for though we cannot truly value living systems and their services, to not place a value is to many peoples minds an indication of no cost.

    Interestingly Hawken, Lovins and Lovins in their book Natural Capitalism, make the point that global warming need not necessarily be a problem, but is instead a result of a design flaw in our economic system and mentality.

    Please note, I am not saying they refute the reality of global warming. They categorically do not, however they make very persuasive arguments about how it is that with current technologies and even yesterdays technologies we could have increased prosperity and no GHG’s. I recommend it to everyone.

    Disclaimer. I’m not a believer in capitalism, but i do see how it could work much better than it does.

    Another point. Lots of the probs associated with the Amazon are directly related to international trade. Soybean production is a large component of the Brazilian economy, and its mostly going to feed cattle for northern consumers (i.e. prosperity equalling 1kg of steak). Further, the idea that ethanol derived from plants is going to help, is to forget where it comes from. Do we really want to create more pressure on the Amazon and other tropical forests to feed the 250 million plus cars out there. We already have enough problems trying to feed people, (as i’ve mentioned with soybeans and cattle) without adding another level of land pressure.

    This notion of what it means to be prosperous is part of the whole problem. We don’t need to eat a cow for dinner, to drive 30 miles to work, to produce 30 tons of waste (or whatever the figure is), to be prosperous. Its foolish to think that we do, and it clogs up the pathways and prevents obvious solutions from coming forward and taking their rightful place.

  3. 53
    Hank Roberts says:

    Thomas, did you read the original article on which this thread is based? They say it took considerable effort to find their experimental and control area — because the Amazon plant life is so variable.

    That’s why the results aren’t obvious — because if you don’t _know_(1) what was there before a fire, and (2) exactly how the fire behaved, then you have no idea what changed.

    On the site I work at in N. California, I spent a decade preparing ‘for the next fire’ on a site burned twenty years ago. A lightning fire recently burned through areas I’d already mapped and I knew within a few feet what was growing (40 meter squares surveyed, marked with iron corner posts that didn’t burn).

    Biggest payoff, for my site, this time, was
    (1) Dead wood three feet from new trees burned in a low intensity fire without killing the new trees. Dead wood two feet or closer to the new tree radiates enough heat to kill the new tree. On slopes, wherever leaf litter and sticks piled up on the uphill side, it burned and trees got badly scorched.
    Lesson learned: it’s worth a lot of effort to drag dead wood even three feet away from living trees, and — always — to remove old killed trunks that are standing in the middle of new trees.
    (2) After a fire new growth for oaks comes sprouting up from the roots, where the fire heat-killed the cambium above ground but the roots survived. Lesson learned — it was worth a lot of effort to go to those circles of new shoots coming up around the diameter of the old tree, and cut back all but one good new trunk so the old root (big enough for the old big tree) feeds the new growth, instead of having it feed a bunch of crowded new growth all clustered together. The crowded circles burned again and died back; the single trunks had grown hardier in the same time and mostly survived.
    (3) Knowing what had been growing there before on a very fine grained basis, I was able to go in and try ideas — soak a few square yards with concentrated sugar water after the fire to feed the soil microbiota, and leave another few similar — _previously known_comparable –alone, using two areas that both had concentrations of invasive annual grasses. A recent restoration notion (possibly by now it’s a theory) is that by feeding the soil microbiota the first winter after a fire they prosper, and take up all the mineral nutrients left by the fire so the next spring the invasive annuals are starved (they love fire and favor it). Lesson learned — I can see the effect. Try more next time.

    Oh, and (4) the areas around my work hadn’t been cleared of brush at all, since the fire 20 years ago and were thick with new growth close in around dead wood killed back then. They’d grown up pretty well in oak and conifer but too much fuel too close, and they’re pretty much toasted.

    So I could know what difference some preparation made. The fire got to where I had cleared limbs and brush and settled down, as it’s known to do with decent preparation, and burned gracefully enough that my work paid off.

    If it’s just doing burns at all that worries you, it worries the people doing it too — there’s no other tool and waiting makes things much worse when natural fires happen. In simple forestry planned burns, they do the burn just to make that happen — with big crews andg care, using fire where I used hand tools and sweat.

    I’ve talked about what I know — hobby amateur stuff, anyone can do this kind of thing (I recommend it). I grew up in N. Carolina and back then, every fall around Thanksgiving the neighbors would burn between the pine trees, to protect the forest, in very much the same way. So I’m doing what I know has worked for people.

    The serious research makes what I’m doing on a little area look like playing in the dirt. There’s real work being done with planned burns.

    By planning, they don’t have to wait for a lucky fire like I got. My site could have gone another couple decades without a fire, by which time I’d be too old to do much with it. That’s why natural experimentation with long time spans is limited.

    I had no idea what had been there before the earlier fire, twenty years ago — so there was no way to vary the restoration attempts knowledgeably.

    A controlled research burn is a tiny few acres of _known_ and managed fire. All around us there’s agricultural and slash burning going on with nothing learned from it.

    Fire scares people. Fire research is scary too. It’s vital in areas that do burn naturally, like my area — or will be expected to burn with climate change and human impact, like much of the Amazon.

    Study this. Fire is a tool — used as one. Why throw away knowledge when we can use it?

  4. 54
    Liam says:

    Re 34: “The Kyoto Agreement completely fails to tackle tropical deforestation, despite its signigicance for global carbon emissions. Indeed, some people argue that it may even make it worse, by including the carbon sinks of the rich nations (the Annex 1 states) only, and not allowing rainforests to benefit for carbon trading.”

    This is misleading and not entirely accurate. First, only newly planted forests gain carbon credits. This was one of the central differences that the EU had with the US and one of their reasons for opting out.

    There is a valid reasons for this, in that it would make the treaty meaningless. The US and Canada etc, have vast forest reserves and it would have been a license to pollute. And this is important, Kyoto was designed so that Industrialized nations would face up to their responsibilities, for it is their responsibility.

    From what i understand the reason that developing tropical nations are excluded from this Annex are to prevent them from deforesting virgin forests so that they could grow plantation forests and claim credits. Where the Kyoto protocol is relavent to developing nations is in disseminating clean technologies that don’t get employed in industrial countries due to the inertia of capital already invested. The idea is that developing countries are best placed to employ these technologies, (something like Trotsky’s ‘privilege of historic backwardness’), thus creating a market for these products and driving their price down.

    Something else to consider when speaking about deforestation is that is primarily driven by government targetted credit. Roads per se don’t cause deforestation (excepting of course the road structure itself, neither does migration along those roads, it is the credit that flows towards the migrants that causes deforestation. Bulldozers and chainsaws are not cheap.

    Read

    Lisa Naughton-Treves (2004). Deforestation and Carbon Emissions at Tropical Frontiers: A Case Study from the Peruvian Amazon. World Development Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 173–190. http://edcintl.cr.usgs.gov/SEMSOC/uploads/documents/carbon_in_forests/deforestation_and_carbon_emissions_at_tropical_frontiers.pdf

    In all honesty I can’t see how paying a ‘compensated reduction in deforestation’ would work. It is disengenuous. For example, the go ahead to drain the Pantanal has to my knowledge been granted, so that soybean production can take place. Do we pay them not to do that too. This is got to do with Brazils macro economics, global trade and western diets.

    There is only one way i see a way out from whole scale deforestation. That we understand what is driving deforestation (western diets) and target credit towards alternative activities. This would involve heavy government regulation and credit. Create limited areas within which people are allowed to work, the rest they are not. Create a sustainable high quality wood product industry for example in these areas. The fact that they can only use wood from these areas, and that it will be certain species, means they would have to replant. There is precedence for this in the system the British created in Burma for teak (until China came along it was a highly stable system). Also target credit towards enforcement, because the best meaning system will fail where there is no enforcement.

  5. 55
    joel Hammer says:

    Never in the history of our planet has any animal mechanically altered the chemical composition of our atmosphere. Except for humans in the last 300 years.

    Wrong.

    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html

    http://www.uwsp.edu/geo/faculty/ritter/geog101/textbook/atmosphere/atmospheric_composition_p2.html

    Termites are a big deal.

    Then, depending on how far back in time you want to go:

    http://paleogeology.blogspot.com/

    The earliest atmosphere of H2 and He was lost to space, and was replaced by a reductive atmosphere with a composition probably similar to outgassing of modern volcanoes � H2O, CO2, SO2, S2, Cl2, N2, NH3, and CH4.
    Oxygen levels began to rise after the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis by the Cyanobacteria, which evolved at least at least 3450 million years ago (3.45 Ga) and formed the earliest microfossils, yada yada.

    Then of course, in modern times, we depend on green things to make oxygen to keep us alive. Higher levels of CO2 make green things grow faster, which I suppose is good.

  6. 56
    Hank Roberts says:

    Cool! repartee. Enjoy.

  7. 57
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re #55 “Higher levels of CO2 make green things grow faster, which I suppose is good.”

    Or perhaps not: While many terrestrial and aquatic plants show increased growth in response to elevated CO2, some (e.g., marine algae) do not. And the stimulation of photosynthetic carbon fixation by CO2 in terrestrial plants often peaks at or below 800-1000 ppm CO2, a level that could be reached in the atmosphere within a century at current rates of anthropogenic CO2 emissions (refer to IPCC 2001 report and the Royal Society’s 2005 report on ocean acidification)
    In addition, the stimulation of plant growth at more moderate levels of CO2 may not be all that desirable. For example, among the plants that seem to to respond by rapid growth are nuisance species, such as poison ivy, Japanese honeysuckle, and kudzu.
    Some other other not-so-great consequences (as reported by Laura Tangley in a news article in Science, 6 April 2001:Vol. 292. no. 5514, pp. 36 â?? 37):
    * â??Early reproduction [due to elevated CO2] could also cause the trees to grow old and die sooner, reducing the amount of carbon they sequesterâ?¦
    * Scientists have hypothesized that faster growing species such as pine will respond more to elevated CO2 levels than will slower growing hardwoods. If this turns out to be true, “we would expect to see dramatic changes in forest community composition,”
    * models predicting the effects of elevated CO2 levels 150 years from now do show a trend of decreasing species diversity over time.
    *in a still-unpublished meta-analysis of 170 studies of reproduction in herbaceous plants, mostly crops, Curtis found that fast-growing, high-yielding species–equivalent to loblolly pines–profited more from high CO2 levels than did slow-growing plants. “My suspicion is that forest communities will become less diverse as aggressive, fast-growing trees become more abundant,” he says. Such shifts in tree composition would have cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. Some pollinating insects and birds, for instance, may end up with more food and others with less, changing the abundance and distribution of these animals as well as other species that rely on them.

    Given a choice, I say, let’s stick with current CO2 levels.

  8. 58
    John L. McCormick says:

    The quality of discussion, in this thread, during the past 24 hours is one small example of why RealClimate has earned its reputation and deserves international promotion to increase its readership.

    Re: 52: Liam, you said:

    [We don't need to eat a cow for dinner, to drive 30 miles to work, to produce 30 tons of waste (or whatever the figure is), to be prosperous. Its foolish to think that we do, and it clogs up the pathways and prevents obvious solutions from coming forward and taking their rightful place.]

    My spirit agrees with you but my cognitive parts struggle with the…how do we get from here to there?

    I am looking closely at the California proposal to cut back GHG by 80 percent by 2050. The Governor and Prime Minister Blair made headlines last week by agreeing to cooperate and share ideas and technology. That is all a separate discussion and diverts from the main point which is:

    a) the 9th largest economy, somewhere between the GDP Canada and Italy, is on the path to achieving (on paper, at least) what the industrial world must accomplish by mid-century to sustain civilization in the remainder of this century.

    b) California population is about 36 million and has 26 million registered cars that burn 18 billion gallons of gasoline per year and emit about 180 million tons of CO2 which is one-third of the total 550 million tons of CO2 the State contributes to the global atmosphere.

    California drivers pay some of the highest prices for gasoline and mass transit is a Bay area option…not a state-wide option. Driving 30 miles to their jobs is how they pay morgages, phone bill, etc. Selling their house to move closer to a job with no long term employment security is not an option either. What to do?

    If tackling mobility is a sociological challenge of the first order, electric and natural gas demand reduction, in a warming part of NA dependent, in part, on snowpack for hydro, present the other two-thirds of the California pledge to the 80 percent GHG reduction in the next 43 years.

    How California wakes up to its challenge will likely tell the rest of the world how, or if, it can survive.

  9. 59
    savegaia.de says:

    Post 55:

    “Then of course, in modern times, we depend on green things to make oxygen to keep us alive. Higher levels of CO2 make green things grow faster, which I suppose is good.”

    The end of the Paleocene (55.5/54.8 Ma) was marked by one of the most significant periods of global change during the Cenozoic, a sudden global climate change, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which upset oceanic and atmospheric circulation and led to the extinction of numerous deep-sea benthic foraminifera and on land, a major turnover in mammals. [...]
    In an event marking the start of the Eocene, the planet heated up in one of the most rapid and extreme global warming events recorded in geologic history, currently being identified as the ‘Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum’ or the ‘Initial Eocene Thermal Maximum’ (PETM or IETM). Sea surface temperatures rose between 5 and 8°C over a period of a few thousand years, but in the high Arctic, sea surface temperatures rose to a sub-tropical ~23°C/73°F. [...]
    Geologist Jim Zachos of the University of California, Santa Cruz has connected the Eocene heat wave to drastic changes in ocean chemistry that caused the massive worldwide die-off. More recently a synchronous drop in carbon isotope ratios has been identified in many terrestrial environments.

    What unleashed the PETM is unclear. Most evidence points to volcanic eruptions that disgorged gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, or coastal reservoirs of methane gas, sealed by icy soil, that were breached by warmer temperatures or receding seas.

    Tracking the ratio of carbon isotopes in marine calcium carbonate sediments, Kennett and Stott found a sharp decrease in the amount of heavy carbon in 55-million-year-old marine fossils…

  10. 60
  11. 61
  12. 62
    Leonard Evens says:

    Re #55:

    Certainly other significant changes in the global environment took place because of life forms. But these changes usually took considerable time, and they were poisonous to some other life forms which largely disappeared. The Earth and the biosphere , changed somewhat, will survive for quite a while, whatever we do. Even our species may survive. But our civilization may not.

    It would be more accurate to say that this is the first time in the history of our planet that a species made such changes knowing what it was doing.

  13. 63
    Doug Percival says:

    In #30, Alastair McDonald wrote:

    The Independent reporters are only repeating what the scientists on the ground are seeing – two years of drought, which if followed by two more could lead to the death of the Brazilian jungle.

    Gavin replied:

    The scientists are not saying that the jungle will die in two years: this is a conclusion that the journalists have jumped to from erroneously connecting two similar things.

    The writers for The Independent (and Alastair) are not saying “that the jungle will die in two years” either. They are saying that the Woods Hole experimental results imply that another year or two of drought could so damage the forest that it would result in an irreversible process that “could lead to” the death (savannization or desertification) of the forest, which is not going much beyond what the Woods Hole researchers are saying themselves.

    It seems to me that Gavin’s response paints The Independent as more “alarmist” than it really is, and the Woods Hole results as less “alarming” than they really are.

  14. 64
    Liam says:

    Re #55 “Higher levels of CO2 make green things grow faster, which I suppose is good.”

    I’d like to second no.57 and add a bit. There are a number of plants that are adapted for more arid and hotter environments. These plants are distinct in the photosynthetic pathway they use, called C4 as opposed to C3 used by the majority of plants (mostly true of the tropics but weedy plants in the north also). This enables them to assimilate carbon in the second phase of photosynthesis at night time, thus reducing or even eliminating respiration costs. It is thus a highly efficient form of photosynthesis from the point of view of water. Corn is an example of one such plant and as anyone who has seen corn grow can attest it is a very fast growing plant. However these plants are rarely woody as the cost of photosynthesis is high in terms of metabolic energy. They have more cellulose content, making them less palatable to herbivores, and less nitrogen making them less nutritious.

    However, it is mostly grasses and weedy type plants which have adapted this mechanism. Within the forest it is the liana’s, bromeliads and epiphytes, which sit on top of C3 species, and in the case of lianas become serious competitors for light, and add an additional weight to the trees structure. As these plants thrive, trees get pulled down.

    In short, overtime C3 plants get out competed ending up with a net loss of diversity, less carbon assimilation and a much lower carrying capacity than what existed before.

    To Gavin: Great post by the way. Thanks.

  15. 65
    Neal Rauhauser says:

    “The loss has already occurred.”

    That wise phrase was spoken to me by my manager when I worked as a used telecommunications equipment trader during the late 1990s. I’d bought a bunch of stuff that promptly became outdated, I didn’t want to take the hit that would come from selling at a loss, but he was right – the damage was already done and pretending otherwise did us no good.

    If you look at the Vostok ice core data you can see that CO2 concentrations have varied from 180ppm to 280ppm over the last 400k years. I think the current number from Mauna Loa is something like 378ppm. The loss has already occurred.

    I see several people on here who have a problem with the current administration in the U.S., but no matter how bozorific they may be, they and their comical oil industry funded stance about GW are just that; comical and so not relevant. A 100ppm increase in CO2 is like a run away freight train coming down out of Rollins Pass; the diameter and density of sticks thrown under its wheels at this point just aren’t going to make that much of a difference.

    Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge posit a technological singualirty which will result in sweeping change for our species, while Bruce Sterling and Octavia Butler see a dystopian nightmare; my money is on human nature and the Sterling/Butler “hell on earth” angle.

  16. 66
    Almuth Ernsting says:

    Re 54: Liam, I agree that deforestation can only be stopped if we remove the financial incentives for destroying rainforests, and offer funding for alternative activities. Small schemes doing just that have been tried for decades, yet the situation is now desperate and global success has been elusive. Surely we now need an international policy, providing both large amounts of funding and enforcement to ensure that deforestation really is drastically reduced or stopped. If you read the main report I quoted under comment 34, you might well find that the Compensated Reduction proposal is much closer to what you seem to advocate than you might think. It is completely different from the divisive and far more dubious carbon sinks proposals discussed some years ago. Rainforest nations would only get money if there was evidence (corroborated by satellite monitoring, in all likelihood) that deforestation had been significantly reduced. The rainforest nations would need to draw up a convincing plan of action in order to be eligible for credit until they qualify for the final payments, and they would have to repay the money if they defaulted (ie just felled the forest anyway). The challenge, of course, is to ensure that the funding outweighs the financial incentives from clear-cutting and conversion to agriculture. Of course, other policies in the West should complement such an agreement (ban illegal timber, have mandatory certification schemes for agricultural products and timber, stop biofuels promotion as long as rainforest protection is not guaranteed). Amending the Kyoto Protocol to allow for compensated reduction would acknowledge that tropical deforestation is a major source of carbon emissions (second after fossil fuel emissions), that those emissions must be curbed, and that there must be a global funding mechanism for doing so, which does not put the financial burden on developing nations.

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 65 What’s committed now is “sunk costs” — but what we do in the next decade
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/altscenario/
    can greatly change both how fast CO2 goes up, so how fast temperature goes up, and also how high the highest temperature is before Earth gets back into equilibrium.

    It’s like someone chucking gravel off a roof, and we’re chained below them — and it’s falling at us now, no way to dodge — the first piece will hurt, but if we can stop them before they dump the whole wheelbarrow full, the total damage will be less.

  18. 68
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: “Never in the history of our planet has any animal mechanically altered the chemical composition of our atmosphere. Except for humans in the last 300 years.”

    Oh, but them pesky plants and plankton. Where’d all the oxygen come from?

  19. 69
    shargash says:

    Re: #65

    We have not yet (I hope) put enough CO2 in the atmosphere to trigger some of the more potentially catastrophic tipping points, such as the release of methane clathrates from the ocean floor. I believe we could trigger those events, if we keep working at it. It would be beneficial for the species (lots of species) to stop working at it.

  20. 70
    Liam says:

    Re.66. Almuth Ernsting. I understand your point and its a convincing argument, I suppose they could do it through an Annex specific to the tropics. It would be a very tricky thing though as there is mounting pressure in Canada and NZ for a withdrawal from Kyoto, and the credits for existing forest reserves issue has never gone away.

    Another possibility is to create a variable credit system using CDM’s with a bias towards countries that engage in more meaningful ecosystem protection. ie. you deforested, therefore CDM investment goes to someone else who hasn’t. Create a competition over who has the most environmentally sound policies. Kinda carrot and stick approach.

    I’ve only had a chance to have a cursory glance at the webpage link you provided. Thanks for that. I look forward to reading it.

  21. 71
    Neal Rauhauser says:

    re: #67

    We have no way of predicting, but 50% more CO2 than at any time in the last many hundred thousand years is going to have dramatic effects all over the place. One of those dramatic effects is likely to be a world that won’t support so many humans. Somalia and Afghanistan are much the worse for long running drought and parts of Pakistan are starting to get that way. Multiply this by a factor of five, stir in some *real* weapons of mass destruction, and its quite a receipe for, uhh, social change. I’m middle aged and I’m going to live to see these things.

  22. 72
    Liam says:

    Re.58 John L Mc Cormick

    “how do we get from here to there?”

    Hi John

    I recommend you read Natural Capitalism, Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins & L Hunter Lovins (1999).

    I have to say prior to reading this book i found myself being uncharacteristically pesimistic about the future. Afterwards i got some hope. It will give you a different perspective on what can well be done and in record time.

    The simple trust of their argument is that the “productivity improvements” that have occured in the past decade are miniscule in comparison to what awaits in terms of dealing with natural capital, i.e. the environment. And what they are spelling out is that we have the technology and know how, and that any company that fails to implement those technologies and reconsider how it is they sell products will ultimately fall short of competitors.

    They make the very persuasive argument that our economy is structured with a big design flaw, and that we know how to fix it. The question that arises from it is whether there is the will to fix it. And i believe there is.

    Carbon Trading Schemes are critical in this regard, for the first time it places a cost on emitting, whilst the genius is that it is up to the market to set that price. It begins the process of weighting companies competitiveness against each other on the basis of emissions. There is already talk of including car manufacturers into the european system, not to mention airlines, and a very prominent British MP suggested a personal carbon allowance in the UK for some future date.

    We know how to do it, and those that don’t will pay the price in competitiveness, its that simple.

  23. 73
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE #72,

    Liam, your belief that we know how to fix the big design flaw in our economy is based largely, in my opinion, on your familiarity with the inventory of technical options we know are availabe and have sound economic rationale and attractive pay-back schedules. They also carry some capital cost and here is the weakness in the technologic approach.

    Americans carry $2.2 trillion, (Trillion) in private debt and that does not include mortgage payments. Add the federal debt and soon to be exploding debt owed to retirees. Then, throw in higher energy, education, health and food costs. Total the average family outlay and ask yourself how the masses of homeowners, apartment and commercial business owners and car owners will find the credit to go deeper into debt to retrofit their house or trade in the gas guzzler for a Prius. And, avoid pushing hydrogen fuel cells and solar roofs faster than their actual mass-production deployment can actually achieve.

    Since Californians are paying highest gasoline prices in the nation, they should be eager to trade in their 26 million vehicles for an economy car. Where do those 26 million cars with their 130 million tires go when owners abandons them? They show up on CARMAX or JOEs really good car lot where a flooded market of used cars drives down the price enough that lower income families abandon their junker and pick up something with style and good brakes.

    Amory Lovins is correct but all of his common sense will not replace bad credit with good credit.

    I would appreciate hearing some not pessimistic, comprehensive thinking behind the technical fix of our flawed economy. It will take more than replacing the bad with the good. It will also require an acceptance of the reality there is a real world of consumers who live paycheck to paycheck (the Federal Minimum Wage is currently $5.15 an hour for covered, non-exempt employees)and hold two jobs to feed and house their family.

  24. 74
    Gar Lipow says:

    >I would appreciate hearing some not pessimistic, comprehensive thinking behind the technical fix of our flawed economy. It will take more than replacing the bad with the good. It will also require an acceptance of the reality there is a real world of consumers who live paycheck to paycheck (the Federal Minimum Wage is currently $5.15 an hour for covered, non-exempt employees)and hold two jobs to feed and house their family.

    The brief answer to this is that pure market solutions run into exactly the problems you mention (among others). Which is why any conversion to renewables has to include massive public works, and strict regulations. And there is plenty of money available for both carbon reducing public works and enforcement of regulations, if we can develop the political will – money being spent currrently on insane military ventures, money spent on subsidies for fossil fuels, money spent on tax breaks for the wealthy. As a bonus you generate a demand for labor that might help bring wages up, and provide income to pay off some of those debts. But you have to overcome current prejudice that public spending is inherently more wasteful and inefficient than private.

  25. 75
    C. W. Magee says:

    So are there any areas that are expected to go from savanna to rainforest?

    Will the Sahara be wetter, like it was in the early holocene?

  26. 76

    Re #68 and [[RE: "Never in the history of our planet has any animal mechanically altered the chemical composition of our atmosphere. Except for humans in the last 300 years."

    Oh, but them pesky plants and plankton. Where'd all the oxygen come from? ]]

    Read the quote you’re responding to more carefully. He used the word ANIMAL. Plants are not animals. Plankton, for that matter, do not much affect the atmosphere, though blue-green algae do (which, again, are not animals).

  27. 77
    Grant says:

    Perhaps the tide is turning — in terms of news media exposure. MSN this morning links to two stories which mention global warming:

    - Swiss cliff crumbles as glacier retreats
    - Taller mountains a result of global warming

    Both stories treat global warming as though it’s established, not under debate. These stories link to other environmental news, including three more that mention global warming:

    - ‘Dead zone’ killing sea life, tied to climate?
    - Hotter nights tied to global warming
    - Heat convinces Robertson of warming

    Interesting from a public-opinion perspective is the second one; it mentions that greater nighttime warming is one of the “fingerprints” of global warming. Also quite fascinating is the last story, at this URL:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14171691/

    Heat convinces Robertson of global warming
    Conservative Christian who once promoted oil exploration changes his mind

    Reuters
    Updated: 5:41 p.m. ET Aug 3, 2006
    NEW YORK – Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said Thursday the wave of scorching temperatures across the United States has converted him into a believer in global warming.

    “We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels,” Robertson said on his “700 Club” broadcast. “It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air.”

    This week the heat index, the perceived temperature based on both air temperatures and humidity, reached 115 Fahrenheit in some regions of the East Coast. The 76-year-old Robertson told viewers that was “the most convincing evidence I’ve seen on global warming in a long time.”

  28. 78
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    I cringe when I read Magical Capitalist remedies. “Capitalism” is a negative presence — the fewer restrictions on contract there are the more capitalist the economy is. A person with no restrictions on his economic activity can hire himself out for a mess of a pottage or sell his own eye balls, but he can’t make himself be anything other than a limited human being.

  29. 79
    Chris Rijk says:

    Somewhat related: http://www.newstatesman.com/200608070031

    Article talks about how large amounts of forest is being cut down to be replaced by palm-oil plantations – for biodiesel. So in the name of AGW, we’re cutting down more forest than before. Great.

    Semi-related: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog1/?p=8
    Compares the “well-to-wheel efficiency” of Toyota Prius (and others) to the Tesla Roadster. Feel free to take it with a pinch of salt, but these kinds of calculations in general are useful I feel.

  30. 80
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re# 77
    “This week the heat index, the perceived temperature based on both air temperatures and humidity, reached 115 Fahrenheit in some regions of the East Coast. The 76-year-old Robertson told viewers that was ‘the most convincing evidence I’ve seen on global warming in a long time.’”

    I don’t suppose Pat Robertson has any evidence that the recent heat wave can be attributed to AGW? I always worry when someone adopts a position on a scientific issue based on little or no knowledge of the subject.

  31. 81
    Jeff says:

    “Never in the history of our planet has any animal MECHANICALLY altered the chemical composition of our atmosphere. Except for humans in the last 300 years.”

    For those struggling with this fact, please name one other animal that has made a machine or tool (something mechanical) that has altered the chemical composition of our atmosphere.

    Digestive systems, photosynthesis and the like are not mechanical processes. They are natural, organic processes.

  32. 82

    Re #75 As the ICTZ moves north, the tropical jungle would move north too, but farmers and their herds will prevent that happening.

    The areas into which the trees would spread is being ploughed annually, or it is being used to intensively herd animals who eat any young seedlings. There is no prospect of that area being covered with 100 year old trees. 5000 years ago, when the planet was warmer, the Sahara was inhabited, but it is unlikely to return to those conditions until the global human population is reduced below the level that caused its desertification :-(

  33. 83
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ack!thpffft!.

    Please. When posting something you believe to be true as though it were a fact, please give some science citation. Why do you believe this?

    I’m not an authority on any of this, so I’m always looking for sources. Scholar will almost always get you at least a few reputable, refereed journals.

    And there are so many septic/denialist/lobbyist/PR firm assertions being pasted into conversation, as though they were true. It’s tiresome trying to catch all the bs. If you give a cite, it’s easier to rely on.

    > plankton … affect the atmosphere
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v437/n7059/edsumm/e050929-08.html

    > plankton are … animals
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?sourceid=Mozilla-search&q=plankton+animals

    [Response: 'plankton' just means free floating - and thus includes simple animals (such as zooplankton - foraminifera, radiolario, diatoms etc.) as well as phytoplankton (blue-green algae and the like). Only the plant plankton is giving off oxygen.... - gavin]

  34. 84

    Apologies if this has been posted before, but the great reinsurance companies like Munich re and Swiss re are already convinced. They’re business people, not romantics.

    See, for rexample:

    http://www.munichre.com/

  35. 85
    Liam says:

    Re. 73, 74, & 78

    My apologies if i seemed over enthusiastic. The one major critique i had of Natural Capitalism was the ideological stance of the work. I am Irish, and European in my outlook. I have a much stronger affiliation for the social markets of northern europe than for the religion of free markets that entralls the US. They are more humane, with all that that implies. However i will take ideas from wherever they come, and the authors truly have some startlingly refreshing ideas. Their book is not solely about technologies, but how we organise ourselves.

    Some examples

    1) ESCO’s, energy service companies that make money by reducing the bills of consumers. What they do is pay the capital costs and thus maintain ownership of such things as energy efficient fridges, solar panels, solar water heaters, super windows (which act in much the same way as semiconductors), insulation, etc. Essentially they lease the technology and gain a cut of the savings of the household. As the technology improves they replace it with no capital cost to the household, which in fact gains from a lower energy bill, whilst the company gains from receiving a bigger cut. This is much the same as the hire purchase strategy through which 90% of American new cars are bought and sold.

    2) Traditional product companies, reorientate themselves towards selling services. So for example, if the desired effect of a consumer is a warm house in winter and cool house in summer, then this company sells them this through retrofitting. The consumer doesn’t have to pay for an air conditioner/heating system as a result. This type of company is widespread in Paris as a traditional way of doing business.

    3) Simple things. Like the provision with state aid for the replacement of all traditional light bulbs with the Philips flourescent lights. The state wins because it saves the energy of a power station, and therefore the capital cost of building a new one. The consumer wins through reduced electricity bills.

    The book got me because it was first and foremost practical. However, that said, I think that a truly bright state, such as Sweden for example (which is aiming to be carbon neutral in by 2020 i believe), will see the benefits of state aid for retrofitting, solar panel deployment, and so on.

    Interestingly, Curry’s a major UK retail chain is selling solar panels for half the cost of normal service providers. They want to see what the take up will be before making mass orders, which will only drive down their cost.

    Further. In my home country, there is massive state aid being directed towards farmers that grow traditional coppice and biomass for wood pellet boilers. A pilot program was established to enable conversion for a limited number of homes and businesses. It was a resounding success and it plans are underfoot to heavily expand. The added benefits of this and a complete decoupling of beef production from grants will be a massive reduction in land going to cattle, with a more than significant reduction in methane emissions resulting from this. This is actually a large part of the first phase of Irelands climate change strategy.

    Wave technology. We have gargantuan waves off the west coast of Ireland, and reasonably sized waves off the west of France, and portugal. There are trials being conducted by marine institutes for a number of these devices all developed with grants and state support.

    the addition of new fleets of buses in London along with a congestion charge. They’re also proposing to add a variable tax of upwards of 1,800 pounds or abouut US$3,500 on cars depending on the size of their engines and fuel efficiency.

    I could keep going, but i won’t, the point is to not stick your head in the sand and say, ‘there’s nothing we can do about it, but to find the small practical things that all together, and combined with the larger efforts, that we should demand from our governments, do make a difference.

  36. 86
    Neal Rauhauser says:

    When discussing GW I find that there is a progression in those who aren’t up on the matter, much like the phases a person experiences when dying:

    Phase one – denial: “So it’ll be warmer and I can wear my bikini another two months of the year. Cool!” And there is always the gesture of extending one’s hand to check wind and air temperature, followed by a “Feels fine to me”.

    Phase two – bargaining: “I could trade my Expedition for an Explorer … or an Escape?” Whack ‘em over the head with the nine grams of fuel per each gram of food statistic if you want this phase to pass quickly.

    Phase three – anger: “I hate those #*($&%$# arabs. We just need to kick ass and gas prices will go back down to $1.29/gallon where they should be.” These days you’ll see this attitude extended to the rapidly modernizing Chinese economy, or India, or some other tangent. This stage is a good time to bring up our exciting, expanded hurricane season, which may yield rage against the vengeful sky fairy – “Why is god punishing us? Must be our tolerance of homosexuals!”

    Phase four – depression: “Gas might really be $10/gallon soon? $500 electric bills for a small home?” The more perceptive see deeper at this point – we have this implicit, seldom discussed model of the Great Depression our grandparents experienced being “As Bad As It Can Get”. That delusion will be smashed.

    Phase five – acceptance: I’m there. Business is going just great, so much so that I’m planning on buying enough acres in Northwest Iowa to subsistence farm. Earth home construction, a creek on the property a must, maybe build a pond, and wind generation. I put my nine year old son behind the trigger of an AR-15 the other day – for you hoplophobes thats the civilian version of the same rifle the U.S. military uses. I’m crossing my fingers the remoteness, the land quality, and the social cohesion equal a stable fiefdom where my kids can live after our oil addicted economy starts getting the shakes from withdrawl.

  37. 87
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 88
    Gavin’s correct about using CO2 photosynthetically and giving off oxygen.
    Plankton that make aragonite and calcite shells also use CO2 — which ends up as limestone.

  38. 88
    Fernando Magyar says:

    Re:86 acceptance: I’m there?
    In case you find you aren’t able to make your own ammunition and gunpowder you may be able to barter for it. I’m sure the marauding horsemen swooping down from Minnesota will be willing to trade some in exchange for a few of the nice fat carp in your pond. Then again if they have more fire power than you they may just decide to bypass the trade option… heck, who knows you may be able to reinvent diplomatic relations!

  39. 89
    cat black says:

    Re #86: That was interesting. But the final stage won’t work. In a world where everything changes, you won’t be able to guess in advance what to horde or cling to now in antipication of imagined shortages later. It may turn out that being tied to the land may be a liability (if for example that land becomes desertified, or overrun with refugees, or the government collectivises everything) or that being tied to atoms of any kind (home, city, car, gold coins, etc) is more of a liability than being a mobile information navigator with no ties to any thing, place, profession or economic system. I think, in general, that being tied to past ways of thinking is the greatest liability going forward and that being ready to adapt “whatever it takes” — starting right now — and the mental flexibility that comes with that will be both the solution to our growing problem as well as a way of running our individual and shared ships into the storm winds of change. We are no longer the masters of the world, we need to become stewards of the world and that shift needs to happen over the next 50 years or less, and that is a lot of change for a single generation to manage.

  40. 90
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    #16 (re US involvement), not to mention the destruction of Amazon rainforests to appease America’s voracious appetite for aluminum (bauxite from rainforests), oil, beef, & chicken, etc. Farming/ranching to feed livestock destroys RF pretty fast, bec RF soil is too poor for European-style agri (the nutrients are in the trees/brush), so they have to keep moving on, cutting down more RF, leaving moonscape behind after a few crops (at least that’s the way I heard about it).

    So I guess it’s a matter of how the RFs finally get destroyed — directly or indirectly by human activities.

  41. 91
    Ike Solem says:

    I think it’s important to differentiate between scientific analysis of the AGW problem and socioeconomic approaches to solving the problem.

    The biological component of AGW is the most difficult to predict; biological systems have diverse responses that can’t be modelled the same way the atmospheric and oceanic circulation can. We know that all the glaciers in low lattitudes are going to be gone – I don’t think anyone disputes that. The fate of the Amazon is more difficult to predict, but let’s review that quote from the Woods Hole post again:

    “What our work does show is that the drought we imposed caused big trees to die more than small trees, which was a surprise. We also know that the amounts of carbon that may be going to the atmosphere following Amazon droughts are probably big enough to accelerate global warming. Currently trends suggest that a big chunk of the Amazon forest will probably be displaced by fire-prone scrub vegetation; global warming will probably exacerbate this trend.”

    If we combine the changes in the high Andes with the changes in the Amazon, it sure looks like there is a regional catastrophe in the works, which will also affect the global picture. To monitor this, getting the data is the most important thing – and satellite data covers vast regions of the planet, but new satellites for these purposes have been defunded by the political decision-making process, which is obviously heavily influenced by the fossil fuel lobby and associated PR firms.

    So, it is clear that AGW is a very serious problem. What is the best response? In this case, look at posts like #70 by gar lipow, who points out the need for a focussed government program to switch to renewable energy systems. This means getting rid of all the tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel production and transferring them to renewable energy production; it means creating government fund pools for research and development of renewables for both the public academic and private sector; it means creating or supporting low-interest loan programs (like car loans) by banks to allow individuals to purchase solar systems for their homes – who would buy a new car if loans weren’t available? I’m in favor of an outright ban on burning coal, since it is the worst of the fossil fuels in terms of energy output vs. CO2 emissions – such a ban could phased in following the Montreal Protocol for ozone-destroying CFCs.

    In the Amazon, stopping deforestation is the big issue, and as an above post points out (#20 by stephen berg), international trade agreements play a big role; Cargill and ADM have been widely censured for their soy-export programs in the Amazon, even though they are very interested in turning a profit from biofuels – which is exactly why strong government regulation is needed to create a level playing field that points companies towards the correct goals – away from coal-fired ethanol distilleries, for example. In addition, it’s high time the government applied “Truth in Advertising” laws to the fossil fuel disinformation campaign that is so prevalent in US media.

    Now, if we have good data collection systems in place we can start to see how well steps taken to combat AGW work out over longer time periods. The central need is for a long-term perspective and for long term-planning, and by and large the ‘private sector’ isn’t capable of this; that’s the role goverment and the public should play.

  42. 92
    Brian Gordon says:

    Re: 86: Hunkering down to avoid GW:

    My reading also indicates that there is no predicably safe place to survive the effects of climate change (not counting US government bunkers, of course, which will preserve the best and brightest of US society for future archeological discovery – hey, look! I found a tomb for the nobles of an ancient civilization!). Even if you avoid the social consequences and still have a climate capable of producing sufficient food, species with shorter life cycles will evolve more quickly than you and I, and those species include bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.

  43. 93
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re: Gavin’s response to #83

    Sorry to nitpick, but sometimes I just can’t help myself:
    Diatoms are photosynthetic algae (in the Division Chrysophyta the last time I checked)- i.e., they are phytoplankton.

    [Response: Whoops. My bad. I should have checked before hitting return. - gavin]

  44. 94
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #93 – This is not an isolated case. He makes lots of mistakes like that.

    [Response: Really? If I make a mistake, I correct it. Would you prefer I didn't? - gavin]

  45. 95
    Hank Roberts says:

    Chuckle. That’s why we ask for citations, Steve, when people post their beliefs and opinions.
    That’s why I ask you for yours. Often. And try to do so politely, though persistently.

    In 89 I almost-agreed with Gavin’s comment — the photosynthesizers (avoiding saying ‘plants’) are indeed the oxygen producers.
    But the organisms creating calcite and aragonite shells — from CO2 — also affect the atmosphere, and will again when acidification prevents that process, late in this century.

    Note my typo, my 89 should have pointed back to 83 not 88.

    Aside — I do like the “Five Kingdoms” myself – but the count may be up to Six. I’ll have to look it up (grin).

    Vol. 93, Issue 3, 1071-1076, February 6, 1996
    Archaeal-eubacterial mergers in the origin of Eukarya: Phylogenetic classification of life
    Lynn Margulis, Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-5810
    September 15, 1995

    “A symbiosis-based phylogeny leads to a consistent, useful classification system for all life. “Kingdoms” and “Domains” are replaced by biological names for the most inclusive taxa: Prokarya (bacteria) and Eukarya (symbiosis-derived nucleated organisms). …
    …. Molecular biology, life-history, and fossil record evidence support the reunification of bacteria as Prokarya while subdividing Eukarya into uniquely defined subtaxa: Protoctista, Animalia, Fungi, and Plantae.”

    Margulis leads us back to Lovelock and to global feedback mediated by life, and we’re back on topic.

  46. 96
    C. W. Magee says:

    Re 75, 82:
    Currently, the northern portion of the Amazon basin (Northern Brazil, southern Venezuela, Guyana) is savannah, not rainforest. Is this area in danger of becoming forested if the ITCZ moves North? Will savannah-specific species like Anaconda be impacted?

  47. 97
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE #91
    [So, it is clear that AGW is a very serious problem. What is the best response?]

    Ike Solem, there is no best response to a global warming world. Reacting to its next impact: extensive heat waves, crop failure in North America, Cat 5 hurricanes in succession; no comfort, no guidance here.

    Real world though: The California legislature is putting final touches to an extremely aggressive multi decadal effort to reduce California GHG emissions by 80 percent below 1990 level by 2050. The 1990 level of CO2 equivalent emissions was 439 million tons. 2005 level was about 550 million tons.

    If you want to follow this show stopper try linking to:

    http://calclimate.berkeley.edu/managing_GHGs_in_CA.html;

    the California Climate Center Report on Managing Californias Greenhouse Gas Emissions written by a team at Berkeley.

    Then, search for AB 32, recently voted out of the California Senate. Finally, search for the Governors press release and 2005 Executive Order creating a State bureaucracy to plan and implement this blueprint for the industrial world to duplicate…..if there is time remaining and the will to salvage some level of future for our children.

    Today, the State has 36 million citizens driving 26 million cars burning 18 billion gallons of gasoline emitting about 180 million tons of CO2. With annual increase of about 1 percent, projected population by 2050 is about 55 million.

    Electric peak demand end of July exceeded projection determined for 2010. Aging nukes and high natural gas costs make more difficult the process of planning and constructing new generating capacity. Diminished snowpack, warmer, earlier spring makes hydro a gamble.

    It will take all the government California citizens can support and tolerate to even begin this incredible march towards the 80 percent goal.

    In the 1960s, LA smog deaths and economic loss created the state clean air law which became justification for Congress to nationalize that state law and sort out the automobile manufacturer problems caused by that unilateral action in Sacramento.

    This 80 reduction campaign is the precursor to federal legislation of the same magnitude. When that comes about, the US Congress will be unrecognizable because its members will be dedicated to our best interests. Sounds too good to be true?

  48. 98
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE #91
    [So, it is clear that AGW is a very serious problem. What is the best response?]

    Ike Solem, there is no best response to a global warming world. Reacting to its next impact, extensive heat wave, crop failure in North America, Cat 5 hurricanes in succession; no comfort, no guidance here.

    Real world though: The California legislature is putting the final touches to an extremely aggressive multi decadal effort to reduce California GHG emissions by 80 percent below 1990 level by 2050. If you want to follow this show stopper try linking to:

    http://calclimate.berkeley.edu/managing_GHGs_in_CA.html;

    the California Climate Center Report on Managing Californias Greenhouse Gas Emissions written by a team at Berkeley. Then, search for AB 32, recently voted out of the California Senate. Finally, search for the Governors press release and Executive Order creating a State bureaucracy to plan and implement this blueprint for the industrial world to duplicate…..if there is time remaining and the will to salvage some level of future for our children.

    Today, the State has 36 million citizens driving 26 million cars burning 18 billion gallons of gasoline emitting about 180 million tons of CO2. With annual increase of about 1 percent, projected population by 2050 is about 55 million.

    Electric peak demand end of July exceeded projection determined for 2010. Aging nukes and high natural gas costs make more difficult the process of planning and constructing new generating capacity. Diminished snowpack, warmer, earlier spring makes hydro a gamble.

    It will take all the government California citizens can support and tollerate to even begin this incredible march towards the 80 percent goal.

    In the 1960s, LA smog deaths and economic loss created the state clean air law which because justification for the Congress to nationalize that state law and sort out the automobile manufacturer problems with that unilateral action in Sacramento.

    This 80 percent reduction campaign is the precursor to federal legislation of the same magnitude. When that comes about, the US Congress will be unrecognizable because its members will be dedicated to our best interests. Sounds too good to be true?

  49. 99
    Mark Shapiro says:

    The link in # 98 (and # 97)) is broken. Just delete the sem-colon at the end and the link works.

    I hope the plan that it points to works, too. It’s verbose, but all steps toward more efficiency and less carbon, are good.

  50. 100
    Terry Aust says:

    The impression I get is that thhe northern hemisphere is subject to widespread drought that is expected to continue.
    Here in Australia the news is the same.

    However as I understand it the dynamic water cycle is in equilibrium.
    So where has all the water not now falling as rain gone?
    Is the drought a short term effect of the warmer atmosphere taking up water and equilibrium will be established. If so in what time frame?


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