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Unforced Varations: Aug 2012

Filed under: — group @ 2 August 2012

Once more with feeling…


571 Responses to “Unforced Varations: Aug 2012”

  1. 151
    Prokaryotes says:

    Asked whether the July heat record was linked to rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, Mr. Crouch said he could not draw that conclusion. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/09/science/earth/july-was-hottest-month-ever-recorded-in-us.html

    Why can Mr. Crouch not draw a conclusion?

  2. 152
    Jim Larsen says:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57406143-76/nasa-video-visualizes-a-perpetual-ocean/

    Nice way to see where the major currents are. One surprise for me is how far away from Antarctica any significant Southern Ocean current is.

    And the link to the AC gas article is
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/09/world/asia/incentive-to-slow-climate-change-drives-output-of-harmful-gases.html?hp

  3. 153
    Jim Larsen says:

    NASA just had another success. The X-48C flew successfully. It could increase aircraft fuel efficiency by 20-30%. Can you imagine how much this could reduce the national debt and increase NASA’s budget, assuming they don’t just give it away?

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57488507-76/nasas-futuristic-x-48c-hybrid-wing-body-plane-takes-flight/

    110 Secular asked, “So the total subsidy is $7,000 or about 36 percent of the total cost — and 83 percent of that subsidy is a tax break. Is that “HUGE”?”

    To answer, I’d ask, if Ford offered a 36% rebate on their products, would you consider that huge? (And a tax “break” is only less valuable than a payment by the interest lost from time earned to tax due, which is generally 0.) (Dr Freud asks why you didn’t use the proper term “credit”? Tax “break” implies that taxes are less than “earned”. )

    By the way, you’re one of my heroes here. (There are several) I really admire the way you walk your talk.

  4. 154
    Stranger says:

    Over the last several days I been hearing that the recorded temperatures have been “manipulated,” adjusted. Can I get a link to help me understand how and why the adjustments are made?

    [Response: The need to make adjustments to some raw data arises from the fact that temperature stations get moved once in a while. This isn’t anything new. See a good discussion of this, here –eric]

  5. 155
    wili says:

    OK, nobody seems particularly interested in a giant cyclone system over the Arctic at this crucial time of sea ice melt–likely to mean we will smash far past the stunning low record for area and extent set on ’07. Oh well.

    Perhaps speculation on consequences may jar some discussion about this development. Here’s one view from a poster (“SteveMDMP”) at Neven’s Arctic Ice blog:

    “…methane solubility does increase with depth (pressure), and waters overlying those sediments are apparently saturated with methane in solution.

    Dekker pointed out that ocean mixing is occurring to a surprising depth with this storm.

    If deep waters saturated with methane are carried closer to the surface, that methane tends to come out of solution, like CO2 coming out of sparkling water.

    I’d expect that big methane releases are already happening with this storm.”

    Does that seem reasonable?

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2012/08/further-detachment.html

  6. 156
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Mr. Crouch

    The interviewer asked him the wrong question. The NYT article shows him offering a useful comment, and the NYT interviewer changes the subject, perhaps fishing for a stupid-headline-type answer:

    _______________
    “This clearly shows a longer-term warming trend in the U.S., not just one really hot month,” Mr. Crouch said.

    Asked whether the July heat record was linked to rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, Mr. Crouch said he could not draw that conclusion.
    —————

    One month in one state? No climatologist will fall for that setup question, it’s trying to make the man out a fool. He declined to take that bait.

    The NYT guy, notice, didn’t ask about attributing
    “A longer term warming trend in the U.S., not just one really hot month …”

  7. 157
    Jim Larsen says:

    “The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees — 3.3 degrees above the average 20th-century temperature, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Wednesday.”

    So in the +2C world we’re hoping to create, it was a tad cool in the US, eh?

  8. 158
    prokaryotes says:

    Re 156 If a journalist is fishing for this kind of answers then the Scientist should explain this, saying this in 1 or 2 sentences. I think the journalist was not aware, since the context was the trend in rising temps over month.

    [Response: It’s probably worth reminding people that most scientist-journalist conversations are much longer than whatever quote was used and that context for specific statements can sometimes be lost in the story. It is almost always more correct to assume that a seemingly surprising pull quote was probably less surprising in context. – gavin]

  9. 159
    Chris Korda says:

    Edward Greisch @ 147:

    “Science will solve ethics. But we don’t have ethical equations yet.”

    Somehow I don’t find this reassuring.

    “Preservation of your own species has to be the primary value.”

    Substitute race for species and this statement sets off deadly alarms.

    [edit – this is not the place for that discussion]

  10. 160
    Edward Greisch says:

    155 wili: Yes, I am interested in the ice hurricane. Waiting for RC to do an article on it.

  11. 161
    SecularAnimist says:

    wili wrote: “nobody seems particularly interested in a giant cyclone system over the Arctic”

    It seems eerily reminiscent of the sci-fi fantasy megastorms in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”.

  12. 162
    Chris Korda says:

    @ moderator(s)

    Removing all but one sentence of my post seems disproportionate, particularly on a supposedly open thread.

    I can imagine that my second paragraph on the history of sociobiology could have lead to an unwelcome discussion, though I’m merely stating well-known facts. However I don’t see the issue with the third paragraph that begins “What makes humans special…” and would like to see it reinstated. My point was simply that climate change is an unintended consequence of cultural activity, and that while much of that activity may seem useless or worse from the point of view of strict biological determinism, it’s nonetheless essential to the development of civilization and therefore to our humanity. It’s not obvious why that should be an inadmissible argument on a climate science blog, but if it is I’d like to hear the justification. The tension between ethics and “pure” science in our response to climate change is increasingly acknowledged as important even by mainstream sources.

  13. 163
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Chris Korda
    People who click on your name can engage with your full text on your blog.
    Good place for it.

  14. 164
    catman306 says:

    A tremendous lightning storm just rolled through my area. The lightning bolts were unbelievably powerful, crackling, and loudly thunderous, megabolts, I think they’re called. That got me thinking:

    I’ve read that 10,000 lightning bolts per second flash worldwide and can be perceived by some weather satellites.

    Does anyone keep track of Coulombs per second that are released with those bolts? That would or could be another measure of how the atmosphere is getting more energy with the increased water vapor (four percent.)

    Expert opinion would be appreciated.

  15. 165
    Prokaryotes says:

    Re Arctic Cyclone, Neven Acropolis blocked about it over at CP and i posted a few relevant links. And there are other interesting comments. More links to sea ice impact and methane release are missing.

    Arcticane: Massive Storm Batters Melting Sea Ice http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/08/661461/arcticane-massive-storm-batters-melting-sea-ice/

  16. 166
    Jim Larsen says:

    MoM 180 SteveF said, “Although this should be in Unforced Variations”

    Good point. Fortunately, there is nothing preventing you from migrating a conversation to where it belongs.

  17. 167
    wili says:

    Thanks for the input, EG, SA, and P.

    Does anyone have the stomach for a friendly, if grim, wager on what the final minimum Arctic sea ice area (acc. to CT; or bet extent if you prefer) will be this year?

    Most of those in the know seem to assume it will be a new record, probably by quite a bit, given the storm, the loose nature of the ice, the low quantities of old ice, and the dipole system predicted to establish itself in the coming days.

  18. 168
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 147 Edward Greisch – I’ll try to make this brief (and use relatively unprovoking language) so as to not get on the moderator’s nerves.

    1 see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/05/nobel-laureates-speak-out-2/comment-page-3/#comment-207739, 2nd to last paragraph, starting w/ “You can say that science tells a doctor how to save a person’s life, but“… I can think of a historical case where an education in linguistics would have helped, but ultimately, such bodies of knowledge just help in making decisions; they don’t make them.

    2a. Why?

    2b. I can see self preservation as a sort of foundation for farther work, in the same way that rights are given first to moral agents (and as a practicle matter, in the way that a philanthropist must maintain his/her self in order to continue being a philanthropist). But these are just foundations, or seeds. Where are the buildings? Where are the trees? In other words, species preserved, self preserved (not necessarily in that order? Check. Now what?

    3. The individual…(was going to pose a hypothetical with a potential alien more-than-friend vs human, the alien is nicer (etc.) so you marry her (or him*, depending on who else reads this) instead, etc., with a point about genetic survival vs survival of the mind or it’s products – what you do, what you teach your children…; and if it’s all just species preservation, pointlessness seems apt – Ayn Rand’s philosophy is more appealing, frankly (not that I go that way – although some of it is ‘common sense’ (and hence perhaps not original to that philosophy)) – and by the way, it’s all ending in some trillions of trillions of years anyway … unless…) Okay, I can’t make this brief enough.** Do you have a blog, or might we be invited to Chris Korda’s site to hash this out? (I should really get my own blog, shouldn’t I? Any pointers?)

    *would the genders/s__ match up? Etc.? Philosophers are often allowed to use unlikely scenarios in order to elucidate the matter – I think it can be analogous to taking functions that seem to interpolate some data (common sense) and extrapolating them well out of the original domain to better distinguish them where they diverge. Think of it as using large masses and fast speeds to test Relativity vs. Newtonian mechanics (the flip side – the distinctions might not be of practical importance for many people, unless…).

    **well, actually that parathetical statement might have taken care of it (although I would have liked to elaborate), but this might not get past moderation anyway. Oh well… (I’m being sure to keep a copy of this so I won’t lose anything if it’s deleted)

  19. 169
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re Chris Korda – Well I tried posting to your blog and I had to go through some extra hoops – I don’t really understand what I’m getting into with a google account vs open id – I posted once or twice at Rabett Run and faced the same decision, then, but I’m not sure what I did with open id – … ? out of time, gotta go… (PS enjoy philosophy, but don’t want to get into it too much more right now because I was going to post something here about what actually causes obliquity to vary, etc. (celestial mechanics, relevant to climate via orbital forcing and something called ‘climate friction)… interesting stuff)…

  20. 170
    Edward Greisch says:

    162 Chris Korda: But you didn’t read any sciobio or even check out The Brights project on “Good without god.” There are almost 2000 books on sciobio in the Library of Congress, so I know you haven’t read them all since yesterday. Ethics WAS an important branch of philosophy and an important branch of religion.

    Sciobio has nothing to do with your rant on http://metadelusion.blogspot.com/
    I agree with RC on cutting your comment. Sciobio is like other science, not like wild aberrations. The point is that scientists no longer need to look to the Philosophy department for ethics. RC scientists are good enough at ethics.

    I see that you claim to be an artist. Take a degree in physical science please.

  21. 171
    Prokaryotes says:

    Re 167 wili
    I wonder if the ice sheets affected from the wind forces do refreeze (which means the sheet is much more prone to further melt, since the thickness is unequally distributed and the structure is scattered) or if the melt initself is accelerated too, because of the energy absorbed. There are probably some chaotic drifts and outflows now in ice sheets which went lose from the storm.

  22. 172
    Dan H. says:

    Jim,
    SteveF has a good point. I do not know if others will follow, but I will start. As Ray mentioned, hunger and poverty are two sides of the same coin, and combating hunger without combating poverty is futile. Historically, those areas that rose out of poverty, also drastically reduced hunger. The same cure then, stands today.
    Some have asserted that simple resource relocation will solve the problem. This drastically over-simplifies the problem. The other assertion is that modern animal agriculture has caused world-wide hunger. This is even more ridiculous. While overpopulation has not helped world hunger, it is not the cause, and never has been. There have been hunger well before the globe topped one billion people, let alone seven. The main cause then is the same as today: poverty. We could distribute all the world’s food to those in need today, and still have the same problem tomorrow. The extra money also goes a long way towards tackling global environmental problems. More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment. Julian Simon said this in 1994, and it is still applicable today.

    [Response: Try that argument in the slums of Lagos or Mumbai. Telling poor people to have more children in order to get wealthier and improve their environment is a joke, and not a very funny one. If that isn’t what your position is, then your comment is clearly confusing correlation with causation, and provides no guidance whatsoever for policy action. – gavin]

  23. 173
    Yves says:

    Wili (155)
    I’m very interested in this topic and again, thanks for linking to Neven blog, there are lots of updated information. As I’ve said before, I too would be interested in a synthetic post at Realclimate.
    About the methane I’ve noticed a resumption of the increase from 2007, after years of stationary concentrations (2000-2007) at 250% of the preindustrial levels. I think the Arctic explanation is plausible but seems to be highly debated as the explanation for this recent rise(http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/29/the-puzzle-of-rising-methane/ – according to Dr Dlugokensky from NOAA, the Arctic clathrates play a minor role in this rise. Other factors such as production of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing are candidates for explaining it, and hotspots are visible in several regions). The problem with methane is the multiplicity of the sources, natural as well as anthropic, and human intervention has suppressed natural sources of methane (e.g. wetlands).

  24. 174

    More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment.

    I guess that explains the surface, atmosphere, oceans and even orbital space as we know it today. Brave, DanH, you have outdone yourself.

  25. 175
    Dan H. says:

    Gavin,
    Where did you get that idea that telling poor people to have more children will improve their lot? To think that poverty is just correlated with hunger, and not the direct cause, is clearly lacking in good judgment. You can joke about all it you like, but this is very serious to many people.

    [Response: do you even read what you write? Read it again, and then ask yourself who suggested the correlation bewteen more people and wealth . #danhfail – gavin]

  26. 176
    flxible says:

    DanH: “More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment. Julian Simon said this in 1994, and it is still applicable today.”

    So as the U.S. has grown and become “wealthy”, the U.S. environment has become cleaner?? This “truth” from a cornucopian professor of business supported by CATO completely disproves the concept of sustainability?? Where does all this additional wealth come from? Regardless of your assertions, growth based on exploitation of the planets resources does have limits, except for the growth of the number of humans starving – and in poverty.

  27. 177
    Dan H. says:

    Gavin,
    I reread both our responses. You were the only suggesting that having more people translates into more wealth. gavinfail.

    My contention was that increased wealth reduces hunger and leads to better attention to the environment. Check history.

    [Response: Quote: “More people and more wealth correlates with a cleaner environment. Julian Simon said this in 1994, and it is still applicable today.” – now think about the ‘more people’ bit. – gavin]

  28. 178
    Steve Fish says:

    Re-
    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Aug 2012 @ 10:05 PM and
    Comment by Dan H. — 10 Aug 2012 @ 6:42 AM

    This would not normally be a problem but I am not SteveF.

    Steve

  29. 179
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by flxible — 9 Aug 2012 @ 11:03 AM in My oh Miocene! (MoM), and subsequent there and here:

    The links you provide in your post around #170 in MoM talk about the millions that could be fed if everybody went veggie. I don’t doubt this and I also agree with Ray Ladbury, ~#175 MoM, that big agriculture, and I am including that done just for human food, is very damaging and not sustainable.

    I think that you, and several others you are arguing with, are just raising side issues. To put a sharper point on my criticism, after you turn all of the ag land currently used to feed meat animals over to feeding people, how long will it be before the population will have increased to use up all the extra food? What do you propose to do next after this? Perhaps find out what the most efficient food crop is and everybody gets gruel and soylent green? Then, what do we do after that?

    Global warming and all of the associated and parallel problems we talk about here require a sapient integrated and expensive approach, otherwise, playing around with a small part of the problem will have the same result as doing nothing at all. Steve

  30. 180
    Chris Korda says:

    Edward Greisch @170

    “I see that you claim to be an artist.”

    This sounds suspiciously like a troll but I’ll give it the benefit of doubt. I am indeed an artist and a well-known composer of electronic music, but I’m also a software engineer with over 30 years of experience, specializing in parallel processing, embedded systems and color 3-D printing; see my resume on LinkedIn. I know more than enough physical science to follow the commentary at RC.

    Your sly implication that sociobiology is a physical science is unsupported at best. Many of sociobiology’s claims are still controversial even with the science community. For a summary, see Wikipedia/Sociobiology/Criticism.

    Your assertion that ethics are unimportant is equally unsupported. I doubt you’ll find much sympathy for this view even on RC, nor do I believe that E.O.Wilson made such a simplistic argument. Wilson is certainly an expert on ants, and his philosophy is very stimulating, particularly in “Consilience,” but he’s not the last word on ethics by any means.

    The larger issue is that transhumanism and extropy are extreme minority positions, Ray Kurzweil’s self-serving publicity notwithstanding. Stephen Hawkin may believe that “Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space,” however many respected scientists would vehemently disagree, and are devoting their lives to achieving a more positive outcome here on Earth.

  31. 181
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan H.,
    You need to be careful about how you define “wealth”. The US is by all accounts a wealthy nation, and yet we have millions who suffer from hunger and millions more who suffer from poor nutrition. In contrast, in a poor country like Sri Lanka, the incidence of outright food insecurity is relatively low. Yes, it will be easier for a “wealthy” person to buy food, but there is a lot more to such wealth than national GDP.

    I think a lot of the trouble you get into here is a result of imprecision in your language.

  32. 182
    Chris Korda says:

    In a discussion of climate change and its potential solutions, it’s important to consider what we’re saving, and what we’re saving it for. If the goal were only biological survival in the narrowest sense, the problem of climate change would be greatly simplified. For example, imagine a group of geneticists willing and able to reengineer humans so that they no longer posed any threat to each other or their environment. I’m not advocating this, nor is it even my idea: It’s the central premise of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “Oryx and Crake.” The geneticists’ motto could easily be something like “Preservation of [our] species has to be the primary value.”

    Most people would (or should) be horrified by the world “Oryx and Crake” and its sequel describe. The books indirectly draw attention to the fact that climate change threatens much more than mere biological survival. What’s at stake is the survival of human values. Increasingly those values are no longer tribal or national but global, at least in theory. Science has flourished in the age of reason, but that age was a long time coming, and its persistence is by no means assured, even in the short term. Science is inextricably entwined with civilization and democracy, and all the rights and responsibilities they entail. The ethical assertions of equality and universality at the core of the American and French revolutions sustain science just as much as the humanities. Science sinks or swims with civil society. In Margaret Atwood’s nightmare, science is doomed.

    By mitigating climate change, we’re trying to save not merely people’s DNA, but their culture, which paradoxically is also the source of climate change. We’re trying to save not just literacy, tolerance, and reasoned debate, but also art, music, and all the less obvious cultural artifacts that make life worth living. This is what makes the problem of climate change so intractable. It’s not enough to just reduce CO2. The challenge is to reduce CO2 humanely, preserving not only the oceans and forests but also the fragile traditions of increasing civil rights and intellectual freedom within which science and so much else have evolved. We’re more likely to succeed if we’re clear about the goal.

  33. 183
    SecularAnimist says:

    Chris Korda wrote: “it’s important to consider what we’re saving, and what we’re saving it for”

    There will, of course, be different answers to those questions from different people, since each of us wishes to save what we value, and different people value different things.

    Indeed, those who oppose taking the necessary actions to mitigate global warming — principally the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels — do so precisely because they wish to “save” what they value, namely the trillions of dollars in profit that they expect to rake in from continuing business-as-usual for several more decades.

    Speaking for myself, at this point, I am most concerned about “saving” the Earth’s biosphere from utter destruction. Saving human civilization is a secondary consideration.

    The pathologically anthropocentric view that the world consists of (1) human beings and (2) “resources” for human consumption is really the root of all of our “environmental” problems (and indeed the very word “environment” embodies that view). I don’t think that “solutions” based on that view can solve the problems created by that view.

  34. 184
    Dan H. says:

    Ray,
    You may have a point about imprecision, but that is no excuse for some people twisting words around to obcure their meaning. Yes, even wealthy nations have their poor, but the incidents have decreased dramatically over the years (centuries). Poorer countries (like Sri Lanka) have also seen a reduction in hunger as poverty has decreased. Only the poorest countries have not seen amy reductiom in the number of hungry (wars and poor governments excluded).

    An aside to Steve. The amount of land used for agriculture has decreased in most of the West, while agricultural output has increased markedly. In the U.S., land use for farming peaked around 1950, and has declined ~20% since. Yet, food production has increased several fold.

  35. 185
    flxible says:

    Steve@ 179 – as I pointed out earlier, overpopulation is the single real problem that drives our unsustainability, throwing money at “sapient” approaches [what DanH appears to favor] will no more solve that than a diet of gruel . . . “When we tug a single thing in nature we find it attached to the rest of the world” John Muir

    I am not proposing to ‘turn all animal ag related land over to human food’, I’m disagreeing that industrial agriculture is not a problem. Jim and Dan would have everyone provided with a diet comparable to the U.S. while denying that’s unsustainable. What does [“playing around with a small part of the problem will have the same result as doing nothing”] say about individual lifestyle choices? Conservation is no contribution?

    What “integrated, expensive approaches” would you propose? Would the expense be monetary or moral/ethical? Do you have a plan to convince politicians of all stripes everywhere to get aboard? Religions of all persuasions? Rich and poor? Overfed and starving? Will this approach throttle the climate change ‘in the pipeline’? Sapience [displaying sound judgment in a complex, dynamic environment] is not a generally an attribute of crowds, the crowd of humanity is foam on the ocean. I’m afraid nature bats last.

  36. 186
    Unsettled Scientist says:

    > Sustainability (of ground water), a new paper in Nature

    “In many parts of the world, groundwater is being extracted for agricultural use and human consumption at a greater rate than the Earth’s natural systems can replace it. Tom Gleeson and colleagues estimate the true scale of the problem using a newly developed concept called the ‘groundwater footprint’ — defined as the area required to sustain groundwater use and groundwater-dependent ecosystem services. The authors find that globally, the groundwater footprint exceeds the aquifer area by a factor of about 3.5. Overexploitation centres predominantly on a few agriculturally important aquifers in arid or semiarid climates, especially in Asia and North America. The groundwater footprint could serve as a useful framework for analysing the global groundwater depletion data sets emerging from NASA’s GRACE satellites.”

    Water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint

    “Here we define the groundwater footprint (the area required to sustain groundwater use and groundwater-dependent ecosystem services) and show that humans are overexploiting groundwater in many large aquifers that are critical to agriculture, especially in Asia and North America. We estimate that the size of the global groundwater footprint is currently about 3.5 times the actual area of aquifers and that about 1.7 billion people live in areas where groundwater resources and/or groundwater-dependent ecosystems are under threat. That said, 80 per cent of aquifers have a groundwater footprint that is less than their area, meaning that the net global value is driven by a few heavily overexploited aquifers.”

    “It’s not sustainable,” Gleeson says. “We don’t know how long the aquifers will last.”

  37. 187

    “Most people would (or should) be horrified by the world “Oryx and Crake” and its sequel describe. The books indirectly draw attention to the fact that climate change threatens much more than mere biological survival. What’s at stake is the survival of human values.”

    Yes, that is one reason why this musician is very concerned about climate change. As one of my colleagues remarked, “It’s a luxury to sit around in a classroom talking about Mozart.”

    2 C+, and it’s going to be an increasingly inaccessible luxury. 6 C+, and how many will still, after a couple of decades, even *heard* of Mozart?

    Music will survive of course. No doubt mothers will still croon to babies, be the latter never so malnourished. But the requiems available in any potential 6 C+ world seem very likely to be much humbler than Mozart’s final opus.

  38. 188
    Jim Larsen says:

    178 Steve Fish said, “This would not normally be a problem but I am not SteveF.”

    This reminds me of when my best friend and I were wandering a field. I found a trowel and threw it with all my might in an unoccupied direction, but it flew like a boomerang, impacting the top of my friend’s skull (handle-ended, fortunately), with a wondrous and resounding thonk!

    So, though I apologized, it was impossible to not LOLOL.

  39. 189
    prokaryotes says:

    early-August 2012 Greenland ice reflectivity dips again below 2 standard deviations
    As in the mid-July case, the early August ice sheet albedo has declined to an average more than 5% (or 2 standard deviations) below the average of the previous 12 years (2000-2011). A “2-sigma” event has a probability of occurrence under 5% in a random climate. http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=691

  40. 190
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by flxible — 10 Aug 2012 @ 2:05 PM:

    One of your links blares “Vegetarianism and the Environment Why going meatless saves the planet.” Did I misunderstand?

    The integrated approach is what all leaders, power brokers, and robber barons will have to sign on to. I don’t know how they can be convinced other than, for the US contribution, to have a leader who is also a conservative Christian redneck environmentalist with a graduate level education and uncommon sense so that she is willing, and capable, of understanding what the stakes really are, and who is so charismatic that the bad guys couldn’t play swiftboat.

    The actual changes that have to be integrated are already known. Ehrlich and many others have elaborated how populations voluntarily stop increasing and even decline, but it costs a lot. We already have the technology and products that will make sustainable energy and reduce CO2 emission, reduce ocean acidification, and deal with peak oil, but it would be expensive. We know how to minimize damage to, and repair, marine and dry land ecologies, but it would cost us. We can make fresh water and farm sustainably but it is expensive. We are capable of spending enormous amounts of money on meaningless wars without even blinking, what could we all do with a little sacrifice.

    What it comes down to is the sapient part…… naaah, it will never happen. Steve

  41. 191
    wili says:

    These images, should you dare to watch them, indicate that all old 6+ meter ice left the Arctic over this summer through the Fram Strait. Everything that’s left is thin and weak, waiting only the right (wrong) combination of wind and weather patterns to vanish completely. We are truly in a different world.

    https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4real/home/sea-ice-concentration-and-thickness-comparison

  42. 192
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 170 Edward Greisch
    No re me?

    But you didn’t read any sciobio or even check out The Brights project on “Good without god.” There are almost 2000 books on sciobio in the Library of Congress,
    Maybe not Chris Korda, but that describes me. However, 1. I have no problem with morality without God (PS interesting question for creationists: if God had not created us but merely found us and adopted us, would s/he love us any less? Also, a possible purpose of evolution (for the religious): so we can see what has happened, so that we might understand what can happen, so we know the consequences of our actions – AGW. Also, asteroid deflection. Etc.). 2. There is a basic matter of logic which does not require a background in the specifics of any science field.

    The point is that scientists no longer need to look to the Philosophy department for ethics. RC scientists are good enough at ethics.

    As a practical matter, they don’t need to look to the philosophy department because they already know right from wrong. Presumably many scientists are not only scientists – they are whole people, capable of philosophical inquiry as well; same for any other job/occupation/career/area of expertise/favorite endeavor.

    I would add to my prior statement regarding species preservation, that of course, any other inteligent life, especially if far removed from the lineage, may not be able to experience the products and records of humanity the way humans can. It would be like maintaining computer files without resaving them in updated formats, etc. – eventually they may be unrecoverable. However, a sufficiently inteligent species should be able to develop translating capabilities. (Like how somewhere along the line, people forgot how to read a line in one of Paul’s letters (in the Bible), but now anyone so far as I know would understand it correctly.) PS (Now, if you can beat the speed of light, you could cross such immense distances that you increase the probability of possibly finding a world almost just like ours, except maybe their hominid lineage turned into mermaids or whatever… speaking of which, consider the implications of a speciation event in homo sapiens’ decendants after colonizing space and then having some period of isolation…)

    Why that? Being remembered, or having left a mark/legacy, is a way to cheat death – sort’a.

    That said, I think rational self-interest is much closer to the mark than species preservation, although I find it still lacking (even if many, in caring about other beings, find it in their own interest to help others because they care, or aside from that, even if rational self interest *tends* to lead to some level of fairness, etc, … well, you know (or maybe you don’t)). (Lest anyone think otherwise, Randites would likely consider me a ‘statist’, from what I have read).

    Do the right thing. Otherwise, enjoy life. Let/help others enjoy life. Be yourself, be known. Know, learn. Understand and appreciate, experience, feel, percieve. Do. Beauty. Wisdom. Love. Fun. None of which need always be mutually exclusive. (Enjoyment not limited to blatantly simply happy – listenint to a sad song and crying cathartically, etc.)

    ———————-
    Re 180,182 Chris Korda

    Stephen Hawkin may believe that “Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space,” however many respected scientists would vehemently disagree, and are devoting their lives to achieving a more positive outcome here on Earth.

    Because I refered to Stephen Hawking earlier, I just want to clarify, in case necessary, that what I earlier refered to was his take on ‘the meaning of life’, which was a TV episode in the series (I think it was called) “Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design” – I think the point about the meaning of life was independent of any views on colonizing other worlds or for that matter, God.

    I wouldn’t assume that AGW would be the motivator for colonizing space/other worlds. It might be asteroid impacts or other such things. Plagues (PS one reason for wanting genetic diversity, which is one reason for wanting a population of some size (others including the benefits of specialization, …), which is why species preservation may depend on more than a handful of survivors…) Even if we do everything we can to survive on Earth and protect the biosphere, things happen… and the Sun won’t last forever. That said, I’m very much in favor of making it work here, and for that matter, without genetically altering ourselves (except in curing specific diseases, of course), or accepting poverty as the only answer, etc. (PS not having read that book “Oryx and Crake”, generally there would be a point where genetic alteration is not by definition preserving the species, although it may preserve the lineage(?).) (Although it would be fun to be able to experience ‘superhuman’ existence in some ways, (without purposeful* genetic alteration) … http://abcnews.go.com/2020/real-life-mermaids-superhumans/story?id=10771939Hannah Fraser )

    *some evolution is perhaps inevitable, especially in optimistic scenarios when humanity goes for the long-haul.

    What’s at stake is the survival of human values.“…”literacy, tolerance, and reasoned debate, but also art, music, and all the less obvious cultural artifacts that make life worth living.” YES! I think that last phrase is quite important. Well-being may sum it up well.

    (To some extent this can be measured in economic terms, and a CO2eq externality (climate + ocean acidification) tax could be formulated as such, although I do not wish to forget that… (Ray Ladbury’s point at 181, Susan Anderson at 124 – although putting ecosystem services or anything else into economic terms for policy purposes needn’t involve privatization (or it’s associated degradation, including simply that nature isn’t really nature if it’s owned) (and in a world with no public property (or ‘fair use’), the human psyche is suffocated) – See also in-line response to Eli Rabett @ July 3, 9:57 pm @ http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/06/27/the-melting-north/ – if putting things in economic terms doesn’t reduce emissions enough for whatever is justified, then the accounting needs correcting.)

    This is what makes the problem of climate change so intractable. It’s not enough to just reduce CO2. The challenge is to reduce CO2 humanely,

    Yes, although that’s always the challenge with any such pursuit. This shouldn’t really be news to anyone (except those people advocating reducing the carbon footprint by reducing immigration – this is but the thinnest most transparent greenwashing of something rather brown http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/413205/april-25-2012/the-word—united-we-can-t-stand-them , description here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/26/colbert-global-warming-caused-by-immigrants/ – in one of my earlier commenting experiences, somebody actually suggested immigration as an issue WRT AGW (and not in the climage refugee sense) (of course, population growth is an issue, but immigration only affects that indirectly, and, well…) – and I think the same person, when I made a point about fairness, asked what that had to do with it, sense all CO2 molecules are equal, or something like that – it was nuts! But I think most people who are actually concerned about AGW are not so crazy/(other words I won’t use)).

    We’re more likely to succeed if we’re clear about the goal.” – outside of those who think it’s all about saving the polar bears, I’m not sure it hasn’t been clear, but sure, let’s be explicit.

    —————–
    Re 183 SecularAnimist

    Speaking for myself, at this point, I am most concerned about “saving” the Earth’s biosphere from utter destruction. Saving human civilization is a secondary consideration.

    But who will deflect the killer asteroids?

    The pathologically anthropocentric view that the world consists of (1) human beings and (2) “resources” for human consumption is really the root of all of our “environmental” problems (and indeed the very word “environment” embodies that view). I don’t think that “solutions” based on that view can solve the problems created by that view.

    It could solve the problems that that view would admit are problems.

    I want to be able to eat chocolate. I want air-conditioning. I want music and TV. I want fun with friends/etc. But I also want to see the birds and the flowers… and I want to know that they are still there, not just where I can see them, but out in wilderness areas and nature preserves, whether I ever travel there or not, or see them on videos or not. I have my own selfish reasons for wanting to preserve at least some of nature. Prima facie (important philosophical term), I would preserve nature regardless of it’s value to me or other people …

    – PS to me this can mean allowing the next ice age to happen (would have scientific value to live through that), etc, not simply holding everything in stasis. This actually means that my own desire to preserve nature runs counter to this idea in the long run, because it will all be engulphed in stellar fire lest we move the Earth or …

    … I’m not sure how I would balance that against human desires, though, and at least as a tactical measure, I wouldn’t advocate AGW-mitigation much on this basis. But I would hope in general people do ‘selfishly’ (in a group sense, for humans or other inteligent beings) desire to protect the biosphere, for aesthetics, for science, and for material ecosystem services.

    (I agree about the linguistic point WRT “environment”)

  43. 193
    flxible says:

    Yes Steve, you did misunderstand, I didn’t link a headline, I gave a pointer to Dan to some of the facts re the effects of industrial meat. But OK, without changing the increasingly meat centered dietary habits the U.S. [primarily] is selling to the entire world, there is no possibility humanity is sustainable, so going meatless, or nearly, may be the only way to ‘save the planet’.

    “…. naaah, it will never happen”
    Exactly, although I personally haven’t found it a sacrifice to live the items you list, and strive to not contribute to that ecological decline. So if individual efforts at “harmony” are pointless, I’m not bothered, OTOH I know that until nearly every individual makes the effort, no group resolution will occur, there isn’t likely to be a 2nd coming in the near future.

  44. 194
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 148 Edward Greisch – I think the concern is radioactive material and other things getting into the water – which isn’t just around you in some evenly-distributed way, if you drink it or ingest something that drinks it etc. Does that change things?

    Re 150 Jim Larsen – yes, that sucks. I guess I can see why, out of political necessity, it was constructed that way; it shouldv’e been different (they should pay for emitting it). I wonder if it could’ve been different if the U.S. had been more on the ball for the last 20-30 years.

  45. 195
    Jim Larsen says:

    183 Secular said, ” those who oppose taking the necessary actions to mitigate global warming — principally the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels — do so precisely because they wish to “save” what they value, namely the trillions of dollars in profit that they expect to rake in ”

    There are many reasons for a stance, and for some folks your description is apt. But one must ask what percentage of one’s political opponents are sociopaths? Obviously, most people have rationales which don’t cause severe dissonance in their own mind. More common a belief is probably that fossil fuels prevent poverty and starvation, and the heroes who provide them are justifiably compensated. (Brave men died in the Gulf Blowout while protecting your freedom to drive.) Can you imagine how bad the economy would be today if fracking hadn’t come along and saved us?

    On reproduction and food: The population problem is much like the ozone problem. It’s “solved” but getting over the effects from past sins will still cause problems. We’re going to 10 billion, and then we’ll slope down, until we stop dying.

    Jim Bullis, farms are going to go robotic. Small bots buzzing and crawling around zapping pests and weeds. Everyone will have those, even for lawn care. I’m concerned that in a vehicle as expensive as yours, adding 200 lbs of flesh that demands a pay check won’t be economically viable. Not much AI or vision needed for a picking/planting cart. Could you explain how the human interacts with the big bin way out back?

  46. 196
    Jim Larsen says:

    Jim Bullis,

    As is often the case, I erred on taking too long a view, I think, along with too pessimistic a view on how long it takes to provoke a systemic change.

    Still, I see your cart as a Gentleman Farmer’s tool. In “real” farming, how easy something is, or whether it might lead to back strain is not an input into the equation, beyond humanitarian limits.

    So, perhaps a link to a bit where you describe how the farm owner will benefit from adopting your tool? A year in the life of JB’s cart…

  47. 197
    Edward Greisch says:

    Sociobiology is a system of ethics and morality. As a system of ethics and morality, sociobiology has the advantage over philosophical systems of being grounded in experimental fact.

    Sociobiology is also a branch of the science of biology. Sociobiology is also part of our culture. Sociobiology gives results that are in line with the moral and ethical instincts of most humans. 4% are not altruistic enough. Some percentage is too altruistic.

    Human culture is continually created and modified as long as humans exist. Without humans, there is no human culture. The argument over culture vs the survival of the species “Homo Sapiens” is therefore moot and vacuous. It comes back to the fact that we must stop GW to protect both human culture and the species “Homo Sapiens.” This is an ethical argument. Since protecting culture is automatic upon protecting the species, no separate argument for culture is needed unless you want to protect a particular culture. Protecting a particular culture is unlikely to work through a population crash.

    Evolution never stops. Evolution has no set direction. Evolution’s future cannot be predicted.

    Sociobiology has nothing whatsoever to do with eugenics. Eugenics is an abomination that cannot work.
    I have never heard of “Oryx and Crake” before.

  48. 198
    Jim Larsen says:

    190 Steve Fish said, ” I don’t know how they can be convinced other than”

    Answering with meat, but pick your product: If you want a 90% reduction in meat production in the USA, then gather the meat producers and create a plan which will provide them, guaranteed as a group but not individuals, 10% more profit than they make today to market and produce a naturally-fed 90% less meat diet. Everyone in the supply chain gets a 10% raise (excluding costs) to gradually (I’m for gradual. If a change doesn’t take 10 years to phase in, it’s too small or too fast) ramp down to 90% less output while changing to a “less efficient” model (natural feed). Phase the feeding at the trough out, and you’ve got a new, healthy, environmentally-friendly system.

  49. 199
    wili says:

    This is proving to be a very dramatic ice melt season in the Arctic. Can we have a thread dedicated to it before it’s over?

  50. 200
    Jim Larsen says:

    10%…. well, I was trying to save the taxpayer money. Probably 25-50% increased profits. Still worth it.


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