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Unforced Variations: July 2012

Filed under: — group @ 3 July 2012

Have at it.

561 Responses to “Unforced Variations: July 2012”

  1. 201
    Deep Climate says:

    Can Enbridge be trusted on Northern Gateway … and Climate Change?

    Can Enbridge be trusted to build and operate the Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline in a safe and sustainable manner? Judging from today’s scathing National Transportation Safety Board report on Enbridge’s horrendous pipeline spill in Michigan two years ago, the answer would appear to be a resounding “No”! But that’s just one of the difficult questions faced by Enbridge today.

    [P]olicies enabling “meaningful reductions in GHG emissions” – meaningful in the sense of actually having a good chance of realizing the global 2C/450 ppm target to which all nations have agreed in principle – can not possibly be “tailored” to a Canadian economy that is becoming ever more dependent on the exploitation of fossil fuels. That is the simple, bald fact of the matter.

    Of course, this remarkable confluence of misleading government and industry rhetoric is hardly a coincidence.

    Which brings us back to the beginning. Can Enbridge – along with the rest of the oil industry and the Canadian government – be trusted to address the real implications of climate change?

    Once again, the answer is obvious.

  2. 202
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “So there is a tiny grain of truth in the Worldwatch report. However, the general incompetence of the report is sufficient to make me wonder whether ol’ Lester has lost it.”

    Lester Brown is not an author of that report. Moreover, he left Worldwatch Institute in 2001, to found the Earth Policy Institute.

    Brown’s books “World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse” and “Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization” are vital reading for anyone looking for solutions to the global warming problem.

    It’s interesting to note that according to Brown’s Wikipedia biography, he was “born and raised on a farm without running water or electricity … From his earliest years, he worked on the farm, milking cows, pulling weeds, and cleaning the stable … growing pheasants and chickens for sale.” And in the 1950s, “after earning a degree in agricultural science from Rutgers University in 1955, through the International Farm Youth Exchange Program, he spent six months living in rural India where he became intimately familiar with food and population issues.”

    Brown has said that “farming is all I ever wanted to do with all my life. You have to know soils, weather, plant pathology, entomology, management, even politics. It’s the ideal interdisciplinary profession.”

  3. 203
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “You will not get far if you try to get a Masai or Pohl tribesman to give up his cows.”

    It’s a funny thing, but so often when I say something like “Going vegan remains one of the easiest and best things that most Americans can choose to do to reduce their personal contribution to AGW” (#136), the conversation turns to the problem of making indigenous people in Africa “give up their cows” … as though that’s an obstacle preventing US suburbanites from buying Boca Burgers at the supermarket.

    [Response: Indeed. I’m not sure that anyone has ever suggested that the Masai and their cows are the problem here. – gavin]

  4. 204
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by MalcolmT — 10 Jul 2012 @ 10:03 PM:

    It looks to me that you folks are having the problem outlined in the economic analysis of scaling up Salatin’s Polyface methods that I linked to in my post #145. Your operation will be unable to compete very well with the big beef producers because they reduce costs by passing some of them on to the commons in the form of air and water pollution, depletion of soil quality, and increased human disease from resistant bacteria. (Insert your own off topic political rant here).

    Re- Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jul 2012 @ 8:19 AM:

    Even in terms of just sustenance, subsistence farmers don’t usually cause any environmental degradation at all with their naturally fed animals and crops. Anybody, especially fat cat wastrels like us, who say these farmers have to stop should be taken out behind the woodshed. Or, in the words of my dead father-in-law cattle rancher, when referring to the parents of such bozos, “they should have just fed the milk to the hogs.”


  5. 205
    Geoff Beacon says:

    MA Rogers @199.

    You paraphrase me thus:

    But (1) what do you think of their use of GWP? I prefer it for reasons I won’t mention.
    And (2) surely Worldwatch’s inclusion of livestock respiration in GHG has some sort of merit but I won’t explain why I say this (And @172 I did make clear I didn’t want to defend this either.)

    (1)There’s a clue in my @150. We may have an immediate emergency to cope with while we think of something different. Cutting short term forcing agents is in giving a temporary respite to avoid multiple tipping points. So they should be given higher priority.

    (2)See my previous post, if it gets past moderation.

    Are you or anyone else prepared to say what they think of Ramanathan et. al. The Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming: Criteria, constraints, and available avenues

    Do I presume you choose GWP100? If so, why?

  6. 206
    Hank Roberts says:

    > subsistence farmers don’t usually cause any environmental degradation

    But see Ruddiman. Most of the Europe, Asia, and the post-1492 North America shows what can be accomplished by subsistence farming over time. The native American “prescribed burn” approach to managing wildland for subsistence makes more sense, but it’s hard to go back to that approach except in areas like the “Buffalo Commons” where nothing else works.

    Nowadays, equipped with modern sharp steel tools and transportation, individual ‘subsistence’ farming is pretty aggressive if not educated about ecology.

    One of my longtime friends who’s a farmer/researcher says one of his great dreads is only two things are missing before individual “subsistence” agriculture can completely devastate what’s left of wildlands: the lack of permanently sharp diamond-coated/nanowhatsis tools, plus enzymes that degrade lignin.

    Given a biofuel generator plus lignin-breaking enzymes, and a machete that never dulls, any individual could turn a longterm stable subsistence forest into overpopulated bare eroding dirt in a few years, selling the surplus as money.

    Once they make edible money, this will all make sense.

    Oh, that’s what the enzymes are for. Make the money out of something that can be eaten, burned, or hammered into something useful.

  7. 207
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Last try::

    I have a friend who keeps cattle and grows willow for biomass.

    If total farm emissions were charged at a reasonable carbon price, he would find it more profitable to cut the emissions from his farm by stopping his cattle farming and grow more willow.

    Avoiding the respiration of the cattle would be part of his financial gain and our environmental gain.

    But the cattle are beautiful!

  8. 208
    Hank Roberts says:

    > avoiding the respiration of the cattle

    Say you turn cattle into leather and willows into baskets,
    or say you turn cattle into steaks and willows into firewood.

    What’s the difference?

  9. 209
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2012 @ 12:18 PM:

    You forgot to mention the invention of the ATV. I agree that we humans can always seem to find a way to trash our environment, but there are people who still know how to live off the land without messing it up. Ones I have known were in Appalachia and the coastal range of northern California, and some of my good friends have met these types of folks in South America and New Zealand. In the past the farmers who developed and maintained a piece of ground learned sustainable farming from their parents and community. The problem is that these skills are becoming a lost art in many parts of the world and maybe someone should be thinking about passing the skills back to some of the poorest people.

    Regarding subsistence methane production, here is an anecdote relayed to me by a close friend who is an alternative energy engineer. He was paid by some NGO to help a remote South American tribe with a simple photovoltaic solar installation. He witnessed a subsistence farm on which a pit with a tarred tarp top was loaded with human and animal manure and other agricultural waste. The anaerobic environment produced enough methane to run a cook stove. Rocks on the tarp would be lifted by gas formation and provide the little pressure required by the stove. How high are the rocks honey, I want to cook dinner?


  10. 210
    SecularAnimist says:

    If anyone would like some relief from the gloom and doom of AGW-driven weather of mass destruction, you might (or might not) want to read this discussion of a recent conference on “potentially disastrous impacts” of solar flares, by Steve Tracton at the Washington Post’s weather blog:

    Are we ready yet for potentially disastrous impacts of space weather?

    What if the sun unleashed a violent wave of plasma towards Earth triggering a disruptive geomagnetic storm of historic proportions? Would we be prepared? The answer is an unequivocal, if not surprising, no!

    That’s the screaming message I came away with from attending the most recent Space Weather Enterprise Forum in Washington on June 5 in regard to an extreme “end of life as we know it” geomagnetic storm …

    As acknowledged by authoritative forum speakers, there is no actionable plan in place to prevent the shutdown of much of the nationwide electric power grid. And while studies and emergency response exercises (e.g. Secure Grid ‘11) have examined/rehearsed possible response strategies, there is no operational plan to recover nationally from the immediate and longer term impacts of a significant solar storm on the electric power supply and most other technology-based systems we take for granted.

    … the ramifications of being without electrical power for months or longer, and affecting much of the U.S. (and perhaps much of the globe) … would likely include widespread and long-term disruptions on transportation and commerce, agriculture and food stocks, medical facilities, satellite-based communication and navigation systems, national security, etc.

  11. 211
    s.b. ripman says:

    From a non-scientist’s point of view the beef discussion seems to be lacking in historical perspective. Before the dominance of man and the proliferation of rangelands for cattle there were vast grasslands populated by hoofed mammals like deer, elk, bison, etc., and vast forests populated by other animals. They all grazed and ate and emitted methane just as cattle do nowadays. In fact they may have had a greater cumulative mass, and greater cumulative emissions, than do today’s cattle herds.
    The point is that the methane from animal out-gassing is pretty much an historical constant. The climate disrupter we need to focus on is CO2 from fossil fuels. In the future it can be sequestered or it can be released. It is a by-product of man’s presence on this globe and within man’s control.
    This is only from a climate point of view, of course. In terms of biodiversity, ethics, health, etc. there are plenty of reasons why we might refrain from beef consumption.

  12. 212
    Geoff Beacon says:

    [edit – enough. The respiration issue is just silly. Please move on]

  13. 213
    sidd says:

    Approximate the cow by a sphere.
    (I just had to say that.)

    10 kilo feed is grown, sequestering X kilo carbon from the air. 10 kilo enters sphere , 9 kilo excreted (of which some is exhaled,) mass of sphere increases by 1 kilo. Almost all carbon in excreta and in beef ends up as atmospheric CO2 within 1e2 to 1e3 days. X kilo carbon returned to air.

    Now the sphere vanish, leave 10 kilo feed to rot on the ground. Almost all carbon ends up as atmospheric CO2 in 1e2 to 1e3 days. X kilo carbon returned to air.

    No difference.

    Now, in addition to making the sphere vanish, don’t grow the 10 kilo feed. Now there could be a big difference…depending on exactly how you don’t grow it.


  14. 214
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 211 s.b. ripman – That sounds logical enough, but CH4 did rise dramatically in the last couple centuries or so. Granted some of that is from other things. But I do recally reading in the comments above somewhere that cows are emitting more CH4 due to the diet many humans have been giving them (is this wrong?). And there’s rice paddies (although there’s wetlands, too)…

  15. 215

    OK here is a good response

    to the usual Right wing statement dismissing overwhelming recent spring and summer warming records in the tens of thousands as simply “normal”. The pundit does himself great harm all at the same time fantastic favor amongst his politically minded followers. A journalist has the right to dismiss anything , any science, but on what grounds may one reject a science other by no other means than practicing science? In the case Mr Will is a climate scientist by proxy, substituting scientific conclusions and claiming the evidence presented doesn’t show otherwise. Is more like an actor assuring his theater audience that we actually live on Venus, and there is nothing out of the ordinary about it. Since when do pundits become scientists? Would be more appropriate for contrarians to try to discredit the science by facts and reasoning, a rather tedious thing? But its the only way they almost never do, and when they do, their facts and conclusions are usually terribly wrong. Mr Will then really cant dismiss a science, but report it, and if there is something wrong about it from a credible peer reviewed source, report it too. But since he cant do the tedious work, or simply cant find the evidence, he usurps himself to be another professional, by using microphones, TV signals, digitized inter networks, all creations of the science he denies. How ironic. There is a basic rule which may deny a scientific conclusion, is achieved by very hard work, hardly just talking. This pundit is truly simply gesturing and his science credentials on the subject is incompetent.

  16. 216
    Geoff Beacon says:


    Can I presume the editor @212 was you?

    I agree the respiration issue seems a bit silly but there is an important point of which this argument was a specific case.

    ‘Carbon neutral’ is not good enough when there are alternatives that can have negative carbon footprints.

    World wide carbon neutral may be good but now it is not good enough.

  17. 217
    Craig Nazor says:

    I think there is little doubt that, as a citizen of a developed nation, one of the best ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to consume less meat. Pound for pound, on average, protein derived from vegetable sources as compared to protein derived from animals has a much smaller carbon footprint, once all energy costs are taken into account. When “competitive price” is factored in (the destruction of “cheap” forest carbon sinks for the land to produce the vegetative matter to produce the meat, petroleum-based fertilizers, petroleum-based antibiotics, water, refrigeration, sanitation, etc., etc.), the carbon footprint of most 21st century meat, as compared to vegetable protein, is large, indeed.

    Add to that the ethical issues that arise when the standards of care for animals are dictated solely according to the economic value that a capitalist system has assigned to them, I would say that vegetarianism is a logically sound moral option for those who would like to support a kinder, cooler planet.

    Even though individual actions alone cannot hope to bring carbon emissions under control, there are certain ethical actions one can take that can at least remove a little of the profits from the fossil fuel industry so that they might be invested in a more hopeful future. I see vegetarianism as an empowering personal choice.

  18. 218
    MARodger says:

    Geoff Beacon @207

    It is difficult to see how adding to my comment @199 or those @208, @212, @213 would assist in presenting our message, except that I would perhaps go further than @212. Insisting that livestock respiration is a major GHG source is completely bonkers, a branding which will be quickly applied to those who persist in advocating such a ridiculous idea. Do you want to go there?

    Geoff Beacon @205

    Ha ha! I suggest less ambiguity and you kick off your response with “a clue.”

    Methane as a transient GHG strains the GWP formalism to its limit. There is a big message on this from the atmosphere if you care to look. Cows have not stopped burping, rubbish tips venting, paddy fields bubbling & oil wells leaking, yet atmospheric CH4 levels have hardily risen over the decade. Hey! Does this mean the GWP(methane) = 0 tCO2e? Or is it that all our other pollution has started to work properly?

    Perhaps then there is a better way of presenting the 4% of AGW from livestock CH4, 1% from its CH4 products & 3% from N2O, a way which will not result in you arguing the toss on the value of methane’s GWP.
    Perhaps the following back-of-fag-packet calculation would be helpful.
    Consider the 60kg methane added to the atmosphere through consuming 100kg of beef. That’s a 4oz steak for breakfast dinner & tea for a full year. If this were repeated annually (folk do tend to eat food every year of their lives I’m told), that continuing annual emission of 60kg CH4 pa equates to a one-off emission of 84 tCO2 (23 tC). That is 10 years-worth of a UK ‘carbon footprint,’ half that for a US footprint. (A realistic consumption figure for your average carnivore can be substituted pro rata.)
    This figure could be quickly reduced by eating pork instead of beef, reducing the meat content of your meals, by practices that reduce the farm emissions or by proclaiming “Meat Is Murder” and picketing the meat aisle in your local supermarket. And by suggesting one or more of these policies, does that qualify me as a “super-cooler”?

  19. 219
    Geoff Beacon says:

    MA Roger @218

    I’m not that interested in bovine respiration (except as @216). I’m much more interested on anyone’s views on Ramanathan

    And what do you think of Striking increase of methane in the Arctic ? I do look at Yurganov’s methane maps from time to time and they both worry and confuse me. Can anybody help?

    I agree with your

    This figure could be quickly reduced by eating pork instead of beef, reducing the meat content of your meals, by practices that reduce the farm emissions or by proclaiming “Meat Is Murder” and picketing the meat aisle in your local supermarket. And by suggesting one or more of these policies, does that qualify me as a “super-cooler”?

    If I could think of a less ridiculous name than “supercooler”, I’d have some badges designed. I think you might qualify for one.

  20. 220
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 216 Geoff Beacon –

    People are not saying that sequestering carbon wouldn’t be of value. The point is that no net emission is no net emission. It doesn’t make sense to count every potential sequestering process that is not being used as an actual emission source, because you would then be adding more CO2 to the atmosphere in your ledgers than is actually being added.

    Another way to put it – in isolation, yes, respiration is an emission. But then we must count plant growth as sequestration. And if you remove the animal, you then have to count whatever takes it’s place – the plant itself or the bacteria or other animals that come along. Of course some organic carbon can accumulate in soil (or be removed) and biomass can increase or decrease, but that can be counted as a net sequestration (or emission) without needing to look at how respiration or other oxidation contributed.

    I’m done with that.

  21. 221
    Hank Roberts says:

    >striking increase
    AMEG is drawing their own scary pictures now. That difference is five percent, fairly high in the atmosphere, as has been pointed out before. Lots of red, though. Bright, scary red. We’re still waiting on ground truth from the area.

    This discusses the results from those satellites:

    David replied when you mentioned the same kind of image earlier, inline at — 4 Jan 2012 @ 2:18 PM

    GOSAT may be more useful; they’re now correlating the satellite and ground truth to calibrate the results, e.g.
    Note seasonal change has to be correlated through a year or so.

    AKA the Arctic Methane Emergency Group

    > Ramanathan
    Click the “cited by” link — this is the result:

    to find discussion; here, for example:

  22. 222
    MARodger says:

    Geoff Beacon @219

    I would describe Yurganov’s methane maps that you link to @219 as colourful rather than “striking.” What are they showing?. Do look at the scale. The peak values are going from a ‘rosie red’ or about 1800 ppb in 2008 to a ‘milk chocolate’ or about 1900 ppb in 2011. So that’s something like a 20 ppb increase in 3 years.

    How does that compare with the methane measurements at MLO?
    Atmospheric Methane 1983 to date. (Two clicks to ‘download your attachment.’) My graph is not as colourful as Yuganov’s maps but guess what? They show a rise over the last few years very similar to Yuganov’s rise. 2007 – 1787ppb. 2012 – 1819 ppb.

  23. 223
    sidd says:

    Nice paper on MWP1A etc in today’s Nature, Gregoire et al. Saddles between ice domes collapse quickly enuf to raise sea level by a meter every twenty years for several centuries. The paper has got me nervously inspecting relief maps of Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets.


  24. 224
    dbostrom says:

    What’s more plausible to work?

    — “You have to give up your gashog and drive something more efficient.”

    — “You have to give your gashog -and- you can’t have any hamburgers.”

    — “You have to change your lightbulbs to something more efficient.”

    — “You have to change your lightbulbs –and– you can’t have steak.”

    What’s more likely to make the average person throw up their hands and allow the entire problem to slide around their minds?

    Of the two choice components, what’s the more effective at reducing C02 emissions?

    What’s the cost/benefit of including meat consumption in the first, largest and most significant steps to C02 emissions reduction?

    We can dream of perfecting human nature according to our particular notions but let’s be honest: most people can only swallow a certain amount before they gag.

    “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” An exhausted cliche but with Mohs 10 truth in it.

  25. 225
    SecularAnimist says:

    dbostrom wrote: “What’s more plausible to work?”

    In my experience, most “progressive” Americans who are aware of the importance of reducing their GHG footprint would much rather spend $40,000 to buy a Prius than reduce their grocery bill and dramatically improve their health and longevity by switching to a vegan diet.

    dbostrom wrote: “What’s the cost/benefit of including meat consumption in the first, largest and most significant steps to C02 emissions reduction?”

    I’m not sure I understand the question, but switching from the “standard” American diet that’s overloaded with meat and dairy to a vegan diet is, as a matter of fact, the most cost effective, and by far the easiest, thing that any American can do to reduce his or her GHG footprint. And of course, going vegan also has huge “collateral” health benefits for the individual.

  26. 226
    Hank Roberts says:

    OK, I have an odd one for the climate modelers/biologists.

    I just came across mention that the coal beds exist because when they were laid down, the fungi hadn’t yet evolved the enzymes that can break down lignin. Or maybe hadn’t evolved to being what we know as fungi at all.

    Now this is serious; lignin is the stuff that doesn’t dissolve or break down when wood fiber is used in many ways, it’s the very effective stuff that plants evolved to deter things that eat them. Indigestible, except recently by fungi.

    So does it make any interesting difference in how natural carbon cycling works? Does the ability of fungi to degrade lignin keep more carbon in the biosphere than stayed in the biosphere when the coal beds were being formed?

    Or does stuff all end up in subduction anyhow?

    This may be a fairly new idea.

    Hm, also suggests that fungi are able to eat coal nowadays, as coal was formed out of stuff before fungi came along. And there are papers about that too.

  27. 227
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Hank Roberts @220

    We’re still waiting on ground truth from the area.

    Yes. But tell us what danger are we in? This has consequences. We’re placing our bets now. To discuss it as a policy lever “What should the price of carbon be?” $10 per tonne CO2e or $1000 per tonne? We need a best guess now.

    This discusses the results from those satellites

    I’m not going behind their paywall tonight and “Received 31 December 2009” puts me off a bit. Could you give us YOUR conclusions on this for us all to share?

    You point out that David replied to me in January:

    Response:I’m with you on models in general, they often underpredict observations (ice sheet models, for example), often because they miss feedback, and they surely should be trumped by data where it’s available. But there’s so much more methane coming from the tropics that even if the high latitudes did start really pumping, they wouldn’t have much impact until they start to rival the tropics, which is a ways off.

    Thanks I’d forgotten. But since then we have Arctic methane leaks threaten climate. Now that’s in the non-peer reviewed, New Scientist, which I often take with a pinch of salt. But they report

    “We know the Arctic is warming very fast indeed,” Nisbet says. And as the warming climate leads to more breaks in the sea ice, more ice-surrounded patches of open water will be able to release their methane, further accelerating global warming.
    The question now is: how significant will this new effect on warming be? “It might be small,” Nisbet says, “or it could be another serious problem.”

    I know Euan and trust him. That makes a difference. I think trust makes a difference to scientists that meet and get to know each other at conferences &etc. Outsiders do not have that privilege.

    Thanks for the “cited by”. That aspect of Google Scholar looks very useful. There is a lot of good looking peer-reviewed stuff there. The Economics of Climate Change and Subjective Well-being by FitzRoy et. al. particularly interests me – perhaps for the wrong reason. They say

    There has been remarkable progress on the scientific foundations of well-being and happiness…

    “[T]he scientific foundations of well-being and happiness” is going back 200 years to Jeremy Bentham. Going back is not the problem. The problem is that Lionel Robbins wrote “The Nature and Significance of Economic Science” in 1932 which managed to purge economics of “happiness” for 70 years. The trouble was that Robbins didn’t understand the nature of science but nearly all economists followed his line. They were in a conceptual straight jacket.

    To a rather lesser extent I think this is true of climate scientists. But this needs a book not a comment on a blog.

    (I think we ought to give this a rest for a bit – after your reply, if any. Apologies to MA Rogers)

  28. 228
    dbostrom says:

    …most “progressive” Americans who are aware of the importance of reducing their GHG footprint would much rather spend $40,000 to buy a Prius…switching from the “standard” American diet that’s overloaded with meat and dairy to a vegan diet is, as a matter of fact, the most cost effective, and by far the easiest, thing that any American can do to reduce his or her GHG footprint

    Easy doesn’t equate to likely.

    Teaching people to skip a few trips per week is fairly easy. Training them to take a few trips less in a more efficient car is more difficult. Using public transit? A giant leap, effectively out-of-bounds when they’re deeply acculturated to jump in and turn a key. All these things are strictly speaking “easy” but they live spaced apart on a continuum of probability.

    Teaching people to revolutionize the extremely personal matter of a diet they’ve followed since their first memory? Arguably far more toward the “impossible” end of the standard distribution of persuasive power. Any hint of coercion whether real or accidental will take the matter quite off the table.

    “Cost/benefit” referred to spending limited powers of persuasion on one alternative versus another. Explore all paths but choose wisely when investing the midget iota of influence we have on what other people are likely to do.

    That’s all I have to suggest.

  29. 229
    Hank Roberts says:

    > switching from the “standard” American diet
    What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better planet for nothing?

    Not nothing: Happy Healthy Long Life
    “… a medical librarian’s adventures in evidence-based living …”

  30. 230
    Hank Roberts says:

    > give us YOUR conclusions

    I conclude investing in the natural gas industry is the mistake that systems theory says people make: finding a leverage point and pushing the wrong way.

    A ‘methane emergency’ seems unlikely at present, reading the science we have. Such an ’emergency’ — along with other major bad consequences — would become more likely if we take a path along which more fossil fuel is burned.

    Fossil fuel use increases when new fields, wells, and pipes get built.
    Once they’re built there’s an economic argument for using them.

    It’s not the right path. Don’t go there. That’s my conclusion.

    There are worse problems more imminent, and the answer is – burn less fossil fuel as quickly as possible. Change agriculture.

    The other answer is: seven billion or so people will die in the coming century, of old age. How we do that — greedy or graceful — determines what’s left.

    The details — require learning the science. There are few blogs that try to teach the science and how scientists think.

  31. 231
    Susan Anderson says:

    re public transit:

    FWIW, we are going in the wrong direction on that. Fares are astronomical, accommodations lousy, and service inefficient. A systematic common sense approach would be to make it a whole lot more desirable.

    Just sayin’ Had occasion to use it recently, and it was not pleasant. Some of the main routes servicing wealthy communities are decent, but on the whole it’s been going downhill. (Boston)

    And why in tunket if we must have tar sands oil can’t the stuff be transported by rail? Much safer, and funding needed infrastructure. Not modern enough? … oh wait, using fossil fuels hasn’t changed much.

    ferludsake, hebrew in recaptcha?!

  32. 232
    David B. Benson says:

    Susan Anderson @231 — Using a pipeline is much more efficient than rail transport.

  33. 233
    wili says:

    dbostrom @ 228 said: “Teaching people to revolutionize the extremely personal matter of a diet they’ve followed since their first memory? Arguably far more toward the “impossible” end of the standard distribution of persuasive power.”

    And yet, and yet…

    Millions of people suddenly and forcefully turned their back on thousands of years of tradition of viewing bread as the ‘staff of life’ for the very silly reason that an unscientific fad diet told them to do so.

    So…it turns out that “Teaching people to revolutionize the extremely personal matter of a diet they’ve followed since their first memory” far from being nearly impossible, is extremely easy, if you find the right emotional (vanity?) levers and get the right pr people behind you.

    (reCaptcha “i type ry continued”)

  34. 234
    Craig Nazor says:

    David@232 – at the rate and considering the damage that tar sands pipelines have already caused by leaking, calling bitumin pipelines “efficient” is a bit of a stretch. Add in the complete carbon footprint of tar sands oil, and the worries about efficiency become irrelevant:

  35. 235
    Craig Nazor says:

    For what it’s worth – I went from a meat eater to a vegetarian with no problems whatsoever. My food bill is cheaper, and I feel great. The only reason I didn’t go vegan is that I am just not yet ready to give up HONEY! I reduced my carbon footprint substantially. It’s a personal choice – if it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it.

  36. 236
    John E. Pearson says:

    Regarding forest fires and what to do about the current situation in the western US there is a discussion at the New York Times:

  37. 237
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2012 @ 5:22 PM, currently at 229:

    Your contrast of a climate science cartoon with a blog that presents only opinion, quotes from advocacy books, single case studies, and unsupported conjecture is very amusing. Sort of like comparing RC to Who Knows What’s Up With That. It is time to get off this non-climate topic and stick to actual scientific findings. Thanks for that.


  38. 238
    Brian Dodge says:

    An unusual tipping point – I wonder how much of modern infrastructure is at risk for nonlinear responses to climate change?

    “A giant sinkhole that closed a stretch of U.S. 24 north of Leadville on Monday has been determined to be a century-old railroad tunnel that collapsed decades ago and was exposed when the soil thawed.

    A variety of engineers, maintenance supervisors and geological experts examined the sinkhole and now estimate its depth to be about 100 feet, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation news release. Much of the soil deep in the collapsed tunnel was still frozen until recently; when it thawed, the hole was exposed.

    Read more: U.S. 24 sinkhole near Leadville determined to be old railroad tunnel – The Denver Post

  39. 239
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Hank Roberts @230


    Clear and rational.


  40. 240
    wili says:

    There is no road in Leadville
    the mighty sinkhole has thawed out!

    (Sorry ‘-)

    Can anyone find anything on the state of stratospheric ozone over the Arctic this year? After last year’s surprise hole, I would think there would be a lot of coverage and investigation, but I can find nothing either searching the news or the scholarship. Has Harper’s attack on science destroyed our ability to track this vital data?

    (reCaptcha: “feelings o serve di” Does anyone else get the sense that aliens are cryptically trying to communicate with us through these things?? ;-P )

  41. 241

    The fruit loops at WUWT are downplaying the US heat wave as “normal” , as expected, perhaps taking their cues from George Will. NOAA being such a nice professional agency doesn’t have to say a word:

    Their maps do the talking, its not a center of the Universe USA heat wave, its more like world wide all at once, very unusual for the NH.

  42. 242
    Patrick 027 says:

    re my 197
    Unfortunately, I don’t know of anything vegan that’s good and like cheese.
    Cornbread! (it depends on context (hint: tomato sauce) and the type of cornbread) (it might not be vegan; I’m just noting the lack of cheese)

    Possibly-AGW related landslide (and seismograph ‘blip’):

  43. 243
    Susan Anderson says:

    David Benson,

    Are you informed as to the techniques used to get tar sands into a transportable form? The toxicity of the materials? Energy used? I would tend to take your word for it, but would like to know. My idea is that if the rails were constructed, we would have useful infrastructure, and in fact the planned northern route (near Portland, Maine) is an old rail corridor. In the meanwhile, we wouldn’t get those ghastly spills. Of course, since the latter are carefully and extensively underreported, it would be difficult to get the public eye on this appalling problem.

    Here are maps, and there’s other material on the site:

    Appallingly, since my last search to find this, there is an industry-created “fact check” that tops google search. They are celebrating their third week, complete with praise from their fan club.

    I’ve never heard the idea of using rails for tar sands from anyone else so readily admit it has not been properly vetted, but bemoan the general unavailability of adequate – let alone pleasant – public transit. For the last century we have been assiduously replacing shared transport routes with roads.

  44. 244
    Susan Anderson says:

    Wayne Davidson, thanks for your much earlier answer about smoke and the horizons up north. I have visited your site from time to time, and find your information very interesting.

    Meanwhile, just coincidentally it does appear the Siberian fires are having a nasty global effect in northern regions, especially high ozone counts, I hear.

  45. 245
  46. 246
  47. 247
    flxible says:

    “… it does appear the Siberian fires are having a nasty global effect in northern regions …”
    Like smoke haze over southern British Columbia, and maybe soot?. Interesting to watch the NASA fire maps.

  48. 248
    dbostrom says:

    Meteorologist Cliff Mass has some nice photos and discussion of Asian smoke, here. Some of the space images are stunning, plus he’s got output from a LIDAR satellite that’s quite interesting.

  49. 249
    dbostrom says:

    Steve McIntyre having a tantrum? FOI jackals unleashed on David Karoly.

    [Response: I have no clue nor information about Karoly’s interactions with McIntyre, but on the charge that McIntyre promulgates misinformation, examples abound: On the Yamal affair, McIntyre clearly insinuated that Briffa had cherry picked the trees that went into that reconstruction and had done so deliberately in order to get a desired result. Though he denied this interpretation of his words, his readers and colleagues (including Ross McKitrick in an oped for the Financial Post) repeated this misinformation as truth. On impact of the correction to the HadSST record, McIntyre clearly stated that the global trends would be ‘reduced by half‘ and this was never corrected (until the actual work was done) at which point he denied ever making any such statement at all. Recently, he insinuated that Briffa published results in 2008 that were incomplete because the completed work was inconvenient. This is (and was) untrue. In many other cases he has been apparently unconcerned that people have misinterpreted his statements and has done nothing to correct their promulgation of misinformation (a sin of omission if you like). James Delingpole, 1934 etc. – gavin]

  50. 250

    #245 Thanks Susan, Big Met officials are probably about to announce the return of El-Nino, I find yet no counter horizon observations making such an announcement premature, they are steady 10-15 degrees above the sunset horizon. Cirrus clouds are equally important, they appear to be more numerous along with the streaks. For surface ozone read :

    ozone sonde plots time series…