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Unforced Variations: Nov 2012

Filed under: — group @ 1 November 2012

I can’t think what people might want to talk about this month…


476 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Nov 2012”

  1. 351
    Superman1 says:

    Ray Ladbury #349,

    “What you are talking about is redirection of effort rather than shrinkage of GDP.”

    I proposed shrinkage of GDP as the necessary first step, accompanying the required shrinkage of fossil fuel use. If we were playing by different economic rules, we could perhaps recover some of that lost GDP by re-direction of effort. It’s not clear to me that an economy that flourishes on waste because it’s profitable to some can readily convert to an equal amount of economic activity with all waste removed. But, under the present economic rules, this is purely wishful thinking. Those flight attendants, oil rig workers, et al, probably won’t be assembling PV panels down in Louisiana or wherever. I’m not even sure they’d be assembled in the USA, except under strict fiat.

  2. 352
    wili says:

    “Gross domestic product (GDP) is the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time.” (Yeah, it’s from Wikipedia, but it’s pretty much the standard definition.) So just legalize various forms of drugs, gambling, commercial sex… and all those ‘goods and services produced’ will be added to GDP. Meanwhile you could set up lots more bingo halls around the country and have all the unemployed play subsidized games ten hours a day, and GDP would go up even more. Even better, start recognizing all housework and childcare as “officially recognized goods and services” to be remunerated somehow and the GDP goes up yet further.

    Not that I am necessarily against any of those things in principle (depending on how it was done), but these point to the absurdity of the current mantra of growth (of GDP) for growth’s sake. There are any number of more-or-less artificial ways to produce some kind of increase in “GDP.”

    But then why should our goal really be increasing “the market value” of some arbitrary set of “officially recognized” goods and services?

    Many (most?) of the ‘goods and service’ measured by the GDP amount to how fast industrial society can rape and poison the planet, one way or the other. Rather than tweeking the edges, we have to turn it on its head:

    make GDP (or GEP–gross ecological product) measure only activities that move toward restoring the planet–reclaim ecosystems, restore soil tilth, botanically re-sequester carbon…

    Mining, burning ff, over-harvesting ocean fish and other earth-raping and -poisoning activities must be quickly and summarily taxed and (better) regulated out of existence. This may seem like a hopeless dream, but then of course a livable planet itself is looking more and more like a hopeless dream, at this point, rapidly slipping from our tenuous grasp.

    —-

    Back to (at least the pedagogy of) climate science; I would appreciate any reflections people might have on the following q’s:

    What is the most important thing that college students should know about GW at this point?

    What one factoid, video, article, film, or book would people recommend requiring?

    How much of the increasingly grim truth (or as close as we can get to it) do we owe to them?

  3. 353
    MARodger says:

    Superman1 @348,
    So a ‘no more fossil fuel use from today’ policy you consider is “essentially the best possible case” which you project as already causing a 1.5 to 3°C temperature rise above pre-industrial but excluding long-term feedbacks. (This I do remember from you last month which was within an interchange ended by my being off line for a few weeks.) Thus you belief in an absolutely critical roadmap to reduce any unnecessary emissions; a plan that is required to comprise of a Scenario, quantifiable metrics and detailed pathways.
    Well wave my arms! You propose we ban your neighbours from holidaying overseas? And is there a mechanism to prevent them from spending their holiday money elsewhere thus to shrink the total global GDP? Travel agents forced to work doing the likes of fixing solar panels? A very hard line on any non-essential fossil fuel expenditures? On what is this all based? The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche perhaps?
    Sadly I shall be off line again for a week so will be forced to seek clarification of all this on my return.

  4. 354
    David B. Benson says:

    wili @352 — If just one, perhaps “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html
    with this online edition being rather more extensive than the printed version.

    If a second, then Mark Lynas’s “Six Degrees”:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/apr/23/scienceandnature.climatechange

    If a third (wherein it becomes deadly bad), Peter Ward’s “Under a Green Sky”.

  5. 355
    Chris Korda says:

    What we do–and by “we” I mean RC contributors and more generally the populations of OECD countries–is no longer the primary determinant of whether earth’s future climate will be hospitable to human civilization. As I have tried to point out previously, the OECD countries and America in particular are already sideshows in emissions terms. Our worst damage is already done. Most of the future emission increase won’t come from us, except in the indirect sense that North America will sell Alberta tar sands oil to China, to fuel their vast fleet of automobiles and planes. Most of the increase will come China, India, and South Asia, and from the burning of coal, as these IEO2011 graphs clearly show.

    I see no credible evidence that Chinese leaders are considering anything like a planned recession; on the contrary, I find abundant evidence [1] for the opposite conclusion. That this is ultimately a disastrously irrational course of action certainly isn’t proof that it won’t occur. History is replete with failed societies, and as Jared Diamond and others have documented in grim and instructive detail, the most common cause of failure is stubbornness: unwillingness to abandon convenient fictions and adapt to new circumstances, despite overwhelming evidence of the urgent need to do so. What’s different today is that civilization is truly global in scope and impact, and thus we face not merely the potential failure of one society, but of all societies.

    I think the reason Kevin Anderson tends to get people upset, here and elsewhere, is that he genuinely considers the possibility of failure. Anderson’s charts show conclusively that for decades now, people and governments have been saying one thing while doing another, and he demonstrates all too graphically what the consequences of that have been, and will be in the future. Further growth in human numbers and resource consumption, whether termed “sustainable” or not, will necessitate incalculable suffering, and as Anderson points out, that suffering will be disproportionately inflicted on the “resource sacrifice” areas, i.e. the poorest countries who are least able to deal with climate impacts. Anderson draws attention to the monstrous social injustice underlying the rhetoric of economists and technological optimists, and this is another reason why he’s unpopular.

    [1] For evidence of dizzying growth planned in China, see the following:
    Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction, Peter Calthorpe, “Foreign Policy” Nov 2012
    Preparing for China’s urban billion, Jonathan Woetzel et al., McKinsey Global Institute, 2009
    Facing China’s Coal Future: Prospects and Challenges for Carbon Capture and Storage, IEA 2012

  6. 356
    Susan Anderson says:

    More dizzying growth; I’ve included some arbitrary extracts:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/world/americas/swallowing-rain-forest-brazilian-cities-surge-in-amazon.html

    The Amazon has been viewed for ages as a vast quilt of rain forest interspersed by remote river outposts. But the surging population growth of cities in the jungle is turning that rural vision on its head and alarming scientists, as an array of new industrial projects transforms the Amazon into Brazil’s fastest-growing region.
    ….
    “More population leads to more deforestation,” said Philip M. Fearnside, a researcher at the National Institute for Amazon Research in Manaus, an Amazonian city that registered by far the fastest growth of Brazil’s 10 largest cities from 2000 to 2010. The number of residents grew 22 percent to 1.7 million, according to government statistics.
    ….
    Here in Parauapebas, also in Pará, an open-pit iron ore mine provides thousands of jobs. Plans for additional mines here, supported largely by forecasts of robust demand in China, have lured many to this corner of the Amazon in search of work. Just since the 2010 census, the city’s population has swelled to an estimated 220,000 from 154,000.

    “This entire area was thick, almost impenetrable, jungle,” said Oriovaldo Mateus, an engineer who arrived here in 1981 to work for Vale, the Brazilian mining giant. That was about the time that the authorities cut a road through the forest, making the settlement of Parauapebas feasible. By the early 1990s, he said, it had muddy roads, brothels and more than 25,000 people.

  7. 357
    Superman1 says:

    MARodger #353,

    ” You propose we ban your neighbours from holidaying overseas? And is there a mechanism to prevent them from spending their holiday money elsewhere thus to shrink the total global GDP? Travel agents forced to work doing the likes of fixing solar panels? A very hard line on any non-essential fossil fuel expenditures? On what is this all based? The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche perhaps?”

    As I stated very clearly, this is what appears to be required to dodge the larger climate change bullet. Any fossil fuel emissions from here on out will translate to more severe mitigation requirements three or four decades downstream and the need for riskier geoengineering.

    Now, do I think the proposals you extracted and presented in your paragraph above have any chance of being implemented? From today’s perspective, obviously not. We are essentially doing nothing to address the problem relative to what is required. But, could it be done if we changed our common global perspective on the problem?

    I was born before WWII, and grew up during the War. At that time, rationing had been instituted in the USA. Included in the rationing were items such as tires, cars, bicycles, gasoline, fuel oil & kerosene, solid fuels, stoves, rubber footwear, shoes, sugar, coffee, processed foods, meats, canned fish, cheese, canned milk, fats, and typewriters. I suspect rationing was far more severe in the European and Asian countries that formed the actual battleground of the War. The point is, people felt the threat was sufficiently serious that they were willing to make the sacrifices. In America, almost every family had immediate members or close relatives serving in the military, and we were not about to deny them all the resources they required so that we could live more comfortably.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see the same threat perceived for climate change among the bulk of the population and, as our politics seem to show, we don’t seem to have the same propensity to sacrifice for the common good that was evident seventy years ago. But, if we ever decide to get serious, forget about vacationing in Asia!

  8. 358
    Superman1 says:

    Chris Korda #355,

    ” I see no credible evidence that Chinese leaders are considering anything like a planned recession; on the contrary, I find abundant evidence [1] for the opposite conclusion……..
    “I think the reason Kevin Anderson tends to get people upset, here and elsewhere, is that he genuinely considers the possibility of failure.”

    Anderson’s presentation consists essentially of two parts. The larger front part shows the impending climate catastrophe that will probably result from continuing on the present course, and then presents the emission reduction requirements for hopefully staving off some of the catastrophe. The back part offers a glimmer of hope by showing possible fixes that would allow us to dodge the larger bullets, if we were serious about doing so. In this two part structure, he is consistent with the more official reports that he decries. In all these reports, there is always this glimmer of hope at the end of the report, in which catastrophe can be painlessly avoided, and all that is required is merely a 180 degree reversal of our present fossil fuel use direction.

    There is today no relation between the requirements in the first part of Anderson’s presentation and the actions we are taking with respect to fossil fuel use. As you point out in your China example, there is no evidence of serious fossil fuel reduction in the time period required to ameliorate large-scale climate degradation, and this holds true for not only China, but the major industrial and developing countries as well. The message I received from the recent Presidential debates was full speed ahead in expanding fossil fuel use. But, hope springs eternal, and maybe a climate Pearl Harbor event will occur that will shake the world out of its lethargy. Difficult to see it happening any other way.

  9. 359
    Superman1 says:

    In today’s edition of Climate Progress, there is an article entitled ” New Scientist Special Report: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’”. In summary, these seven reasons are:

    1.The thick sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was not expected to melt until the end of the century. If current trends continue, summer ice could be gone in a decade or two.
    2.We knew global warming was going to make the weather more extreme. But it’s becoming even more extreme than anyone predicted.
    3.Global warming was expected to boost food production. Instead, food prices are soaring as the effects of extreme weather kick in.
    4.Greenland’s rapid loss of ice mean we’re in for a rise of at least 1 metre by 2100, and possibly much more.
    5.The planet currently absorbs half our CO2emissions. All the signs are it won’t for much longer.
    6.If we stopped emitting CO2 tomorrow, we might be able to avoid climate disaster. In fact we are still increasing emissions.
    7.If the worst climate predictions are realized, vast swathes of the globe could become too hot for humans to survive.

    In the Comments section, there is an excellent post by Lewis Cleverdon, following comments that the dangers are being over-hyped. Here are excerpts from his posting.

    “There are a number of critical factors that have yet to be put together into a synthesis to evaluate just what the current ‘Best Case’ of emissions control would actually achieve. These include the near doubling of the fraction of our emissions staying in the atmosphere as the natural carbon sinks decline, and the doubling of warming due to the loss of our cooling fossil sulphur emissions as fossil fuels are phased out. And then there are the six out of seven interactive mega-feedbacks that are already observed to be accelerating, several of which have the potential to dwarf anthropogenic GHG emissions.

    These matters are not hype; they are the result of extremely painstaking highly competitive scientific research over the last couple of centuries. Quite how “Even the casual observer knows” better than the consensus of the world’s great scientific academies is a matter you really should give some careful thought.

    As to the idea that “reality can’t possibly live up to all the hype” you might care to look at the scientists’ warnings to NYC authorities in the last few years, which have now been proved accurate by the deaths of 113 Americans and the loss of between fifty and a hundred billion dollars in damages across the region.

    Given the reality of the ~30yr timelag on past emissions’ warming effect (due to the oceans’ thermal inertia) as well as our inevitable future emissions even under a ‘best case’ of emissions control, to see Superstorm Sandy in context means seeing it as a relatively minor but telegenic impact this early in the curve of accelerating climate destabilization.

    Your appeal to ‘tone it down’ and to give good news instead is precisely the outlook that has wasted the last thirty-year opportunity to resolve AGW relatively easily. By ceding to political pressures for acceptable forecasts and ‘goals’, the scientific establishment has failed to inform society of its predicament, apparently assuming that it had the right to abdicate that duty to the politicians……………

    The point you are missing is that until the public is aware of the actual degree of threat there is little or no prospect of the commensurate responses – that are probably still capable of resolving it – being even formally considered at the requisite international fora, let alone negotiated, agreed, researched and implemented. That said, I’d be the first to agree that in identifying a threat there have to be credible solutions proposed in parallel if we are to avoid merely feeding the rising indulgence in apathy and defeatism.”

  10. 360
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Superman1,
    I think that your idea of a “planned recession” is off the mark. In a recession, economic activity decreases and unemployment rises. Yes, fossil fuel consumption decreases, but not enough to avoid a continuance of the rise in atmospheric CO2. We are not going to shrink ourselves out of this problem–and the consequences for countless tens of millions of people are to dire to contemplate if we tried.

    A better analogue would be the mobilization of the economy on a war-time footing, but with the goal of modernizing and decarbonizing our antiquated energy and transportation infrastructures. It would be a war to build, rather than a war to destroy. Of course, standards of living for the wealthy would decline somewhat–they could not jet off to far off lands on a whim. However, we would have something very near full employment–as would China. So, while the wealthy will not live as well, the poor might actually live better as we make the transition.

    Now it is true, we don’t have a map to our destination of sustainability. However, we do have a very good idea of the directions we need to go in.

  11. 361
    Mike Roddy says:

    Good post, Superman 1. We don’t know how the public would react if given the full facts, since it hasn’t happened.

    The reason key scientific developments concerning feedback loops and sink declines is being withheld is financial. Corporations and media want the public to perceive business as usual as long as possible. This attitude is condescending and disrespectful, similar to the old saying among British aristocrats to “not scare the horses”.

    The truth will out anyway. Sooner rather than later gives us a fighting chance; without it we will continue to muddle along with things like the Golden Age of Gas.

  12. 362
    Mal Adapted says:

    Wili #352:

    What one factoid, video, article, film, or book would people recommend requiring?

    Jared Diamond 1987: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.

  13. 363
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 27 Nov 2012 @ 8:24 AM

    In the quotation you admire is the following- “That said, I’d be the first to agree that in identifying a threat there have to be credible solutions proposed in parallel if we are to avoid merely feeding the rising indulgence in apathy and defeatism.”

    I strongly suggest that you take this advice seriously. Steve

  14. 364
    Hank Roberts says:

    Remember — history is written by the survivors.
    Ask any kid when “ancient history” starts — it’s anything before they were able to read or watch television. It’s in the past.

    Can you imagine life in North America
    — without the frontier, without wilderness, without tallgrass prairie, without the buffalo, without the passenger pigeons, without the chestnut forests, without streams you can drink from, without the elm trees, without polio, without smallpox …

    …. oh, wait, wrong century.

    Shifting baselines — we imagine what we were born into as normal and don’t see what previous generations had, wasted and lost. Nobody but the ecologists, anyhow.

    That’s why the urban deer population has boomed — they don’t know any better, they’re in the world they were born to.

    And it’s one reason civilizations are transient.

    There’s a “Fermi Paradox” right on this planet, in that sense.
    There are no old successful technological cultures.

    Can we persist?

  15. 365
    Chris Korda says:

    We are not going to shrink ourselves out of this problem

    Now that’s what I call technological optimism: growth as an unquestionable axiom. Religion is hard to argue with, though Albert Bartlett certainly tries.

    Of course, standards of living for the wealthy would decline somewhat

    Actually, thanks to the boom in unconventional fossil fuels, we appear to be entering a new golden age. Yacht sales are up. Time to re-read “The Great Gatsby?”

    superman1 @357: “I suspect rationing was far more severe in the European and Asian countries that formed the actual battleground of the War.” To this day my father refuses to take baths, to the point of having a shower installed at considerable expense in his originally bathtub-only house, because during the Blitz, he was obliged to bathe in a few inches of freezing water after his entire family had used it. Of course this is trivial compared to the privations and horrors many others experienced.

  16. 366
    wili says:

    Ray, I agree that mobilization for war is a model we could draw on. Unfortunately, most recent wars have simply called on most Americans to go shopping. But as S points out, there were major restrictions in consumption and rationing. In England, domestic consumption of petrol dropped by about 95%. These are the kinds of reductions that are now required.

    Full employment could easily be reached tomorrow to require most jobs have a 30 hour work week with full benefits, as was done in many places during the first great depression. And of course there are plenty of jobs that could be created that need to be done involving for example ecological restoration or insulation of buildings that government could facilitate directly or indirectly.

    On the other front, I would like to thank Benson and Mal Adapted for their suggestions. I had been thinking of Lynas and Ward, but I own but have not yet read Weart–better get to it, I guess. And I know Diamonds later works, but I’m unfamiliar with “The Worst Mistake…” so thanks for that. Any others?

    I just showed some students the Anderson and the Roberts videos. Reactions ranged from incredulity to calls for immediate collective action by the class on the issue. I tried to represent to the class some of the opinions expressed here, so thanks again for all perspectives.

    Are there any other educators on the board? How do they present the science and the politics of this mess?

  17. 367
    Walt says:

    I ran across an interesting article at Veteran’s Today relating to AGW and past plans to intentionally “warm” the planet back in the days when some people thought that global temperatures were headed downwards. The paper is another example trying to diminish the importance of CO2 by saying “We did it some other way, that nobody really knows about.” We should see this in the denial-sphere soon.

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/11/26/government-documents-link-global-warming-to-advanced-military-climate-modification-technology/

  18. 368
    Mal Adapted says:

    Wili #365:

    And I know Diamonds later works, but I’m unfamiliar with “The Worst Mistake…”

    Because it may not be obvious to everyone, I’ll confess my suggestion was partly facetious. Diamond identifies the root cause of our current predicament, but doesn’t offer any solutions. With a global population of 9 billion and counting, it’s obviously too late for us all to return to foraging for a living.

  19. 369
    Superman1 says:

    Steve Fish #363,

    “In the quotation you admire is the following- “That said, I’d be the first to agree that in identifying a threat there have to be credible solutions proposed in parallel if we are to avoid merely feeding the rising indulgence in apathy and defeatism.”

    I strongly suggest that you take this advice seriously.”

    Two points here. There is a larger context to Lewis’s comments. As you can see from the excerpts, he goes one step beyond me in assessing the seriousness of the impending problem, and my assessments tend to sit at the dire end of the spectrum on this thread. At that level of climate change, a complete shift to self-sustaining energy production and reforestation/afforestation may not be sufficient to address the damage already done.

    In other postings of his I have seen, he believes some form of geo-engineering will be required in addition to the above two steps. For example, in one (actually, more than one) of his postings, he supports the concept of ‘cloud-brightening’. Now, marine cloud-brightening (MCB) is defined in the source article as ” with MCB, scientists propose to spray microscopic droplets of sea water into clouds that typically cover a quarter or so of the ocean’s surface at any given time, perhaps using unmanned Flettner rotor ships guided by satellites. In theory, at least, the effect would be to make the clouds more reflective, so that more of the sunlight that hit them would bounce back into space without warming the Earth.” So, the full context of his statement is we’re in serious trouble now, we need some form of geo-engineering to supplement getting off of fossil fuels and reforestation, and here’s my recommendation.

    I don’t disagree with his assessment of the direness of the situation, I don’t disagree with the concept of getting away from fossil fuels to self-sustaining sources ASAP, and I don’t disagree with reforestation/afforestation. In fact, in post #342 and others, I essentially propose these two steps, with the proviso that they be done with minimal use of fossil fuels and we restrict all non-essential uses of fossil fuels in parallel. This can be viewed as all-out wartime-level effort! My proposal is similar to Ray Ladbury’s middle paragraph in #360, with somewhat different terminology used.

    I also agree these steps probably won’t be sufficient, and some form of geo-engineering will probably be required. I suspect the longer we wait to get off fossil fuels and reforest, the riskier the geo-engineering will be. Whether Lewis’s MCB approach is the best, I don’t know. It does appear to have the advantage of relatively early termination if ‘unforeseen consequences’ arise, and it uses a low-tech fluid. It requires further research as to energy requirements, especially if supplied by fossil fuel, and potential adverse climate effects.

    So, my proposals address part of the problem, but not the whole problem. Until I see a form of geo-engineering with which I am fully comfortable, I will not propose the third leg of the triad.

  20. 370
    Jim Larsen says:

    Hank,

    I was thinking of how bird populations have changed in post-Columbus North America and came across this testament to wind turbines’ scarecrow abilities:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1202/p13s01-sten.html

    ‘The lesser prairie chicken, in rapid decline like the greater prairie chicken, instinctively resists nesting anywhere near trees or man-made structures – especially tall towers or buildings, where birds of prey can perch and spot them below, according to recent studies by Kansas State University biologists.

    “One of the biggest threats on the horizon is wind farms,” says Steve Sherrod, executive director of the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville, Okla. “These wind farms are billed as green, but they’re a huge threat to the prairie nesting species.” ‘

  21. 371
    Superman1 says:

    Ray #360,

    ” I think that your idea of a “planned recession” is off the mark.”

    It’s not my idea. I’m basically paraphrasing Kevin Anderson and Tim Garrett as to what they believe will happen as a result of cutting CO2 emissions at unprecedented levels. Given the present economic ground rules, certainly a recession will occur and more probably a deep depression. But, let’s not get mired in the terminology. What would we like to happen during this transition?

    First, we would like as rapid a transition to self-sustaining energy production as possible, with two provisos: minimal fossil fuel use to effect the transition, and elimination of any non-essential use of fossil fuels. The purpose of the provisos is to minimize the move from what is perceived as a very dangerous situation to an extremely dangerous situation, in Anderson’s words. For many people, especially those with plenty of money, restrictions on non-essential use of fossil fuels will have the same effect as a recession, irrespective of what name we choose to apply.

    Second, we would like to minimize unemployment during the transition. In fact, this was basically how we got out of the Great Depression. WWII required the use of all available hands. But, doing this would require different economic rules from what we have today.

    Third, we would like to prevent the collapse of the economy by essentially devaluing the worth of the oil, gas, and coal companies, as we would be doing by phasing out the use of fossil fuels. If these companies go under, the market collapses, and the Great Depression would look like the good old days. Now, I’m not an economist, and I don’t know all the measures that would be required to keep the economy from going under based on this problem. However, the Fed published a document this past year showing the distribution of net personal wealth in the USA. Doing the numbers, it turns out the vaunted top 1% (i.e., wealthiest three million people) have a net personal worth of slightly over thirty trillion dollars (I forget the exact number, something like $31T or $32T). This translates to something like $10M per capita average in this group. If we were to levy a Special Assessment of 50% on this personal wealth, it would give us something like $16T, part of which could be used to pay the companies something for keeping fossil fuels in the ground (not necessarily full market value).

    Now, what we do about countries wholly dependent on fossil fuel revenues, like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, etc, is another story. They would suffer most of all. Maybe the advanced countries pay them some fraction of the fossil fuel worth to keep the fossil fuels in the ground. So, in theory, a transition could be made to a self-sustaining energy economy without the world collapsing, but it would not be painless. A lot of activities we take for granted now would have to be curtailed in the interim transition period, since any CO2 emissions added during that period would only add to the cumulative burden. The very wealthy would sacrifice the most, but they would still be in good shape financially ($5M per capita instead of $10M). The main sacrifice is their profligate ways with respect to fossil fuel use would end.

  22. 372
    Hank Roberts says:

    “… we estimated population trends for nearly all butterfly species (100 of 116 species present) …. Population trajectories indicate increases of many species near their northern range limits and declines in nearly all species (17 of 21) near their southern range limits. Certain life-history traits, especially overwintering stage, were strongly associated with declines. Our results suggest that a major, climate-induced shift of North American butterflies, characterized by northward expansions of warm-adapted and retreat of cold-adapted species, is underway.”

    Climate-driven changes in northeastern US butterfly communities
    Greg A. Breed, Sharon Stichter & Elizabeth E. Crone
    Nature Climate Change (2012)
    doi:10.1038/nclimate1663

  23. 373
    SecularAnimist says:

    wili wrote: “Ray, I agree that mobilization for war is a model we could draw on.”

    After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, FDR called the CEOs of the big Detroit automobile manufacturers into his office and said gentlemen, I need you to convert all your factories right away to build tanks and airplanes.

    The executives replied, well, Mr. President, we can’t really do that — we are just getting started on the 1942 model year, you know — maybe next year.

    FDR replied, gentlemen, you don’t understand. There isn’t going to be any 1942 model year. I am banning the manufacture of private automobiles effective immediately. You will build tanks and planes. That’s not a suggestion, and it’s not a request. It’s an order.

    That’s how you “mobilize for war”.

    So, why are we still building cars with gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines? Why are we still building coal-fired power plants?

  24. 374
    Superman1 says:

    Mike Roddy #361,

    “Good post, Superman 1. We don’t know how the public would react if given the full facts, since it hasn’t happened.”

    You raise a good point about public reaction to the facts, and it comports with Wili’s question as to how best convey the reality of climate change to a college student. This is really a serious problem, and has received little attention on these blogs. The assumption here has been that if we could get around the roadblocks erected by the mainstream media, the deniers, and those who sponsor the media and deniers, we could then make strong inroads on this problem. I see at least two major problems with that assumption.

    First, the foundational problem from my perspective is the effective ‘addiction’ of the average energy consumer to the high energy intensity lifestyle enabled by the availability of copious cheap fossil fuel. I don’t believe presentation of facts would be adequate to change behavior when severe addiction is present. Second, suppose these roadblocks to dissemination were removed, and the harsh facts and their dire consequences were presented to the public. I’m talking about narratives like Kevin Anderson’s paper, Lewis Cleverdon’s posts, and others along the lines of #348 above. Suppose these ‘facts’ and their larger context were presented enough times that their significance began to ‘take hold’ with the audience. If you think about what these facts comport, at least as of today, they resemble in many ways a devastating medical prognosis after a physical examination. How do, and would, large numbers of people react under such conditions?

    I’ve seen three types of reactions after (unexpected) devastating medical prognoses. A small fraction will essentially give up, not be serious about treatment, and let nature take its course. Another small fraction will put every ounce of remaining energy in the effort to prolong life, and will try whatever radical alternatives offer promise. Most of the people eventually accept the reality, go through the recommended treatment, and bear the consequences.

    What would happen in the extreme case of, say, 200M adults in the USA understanding what the future offered on our present course, or even if we took some of the harsh actions I listed in previous posts? Would they go along with business as usual? Would they take revenge against those who blockaded the truth from appearing for many decades? Would we experience widespread chaos?

    How are the readers of this thread affected by their understanding of what the climate future has to offer, as seen from today’s perspective? How are they affected by the knowledge that their children will have to bear the brunt of this unfolding disaster, and their grandchildren even a larger burden, in all probability?

  25. 375

    I have a talk on Tuesday showing scientists how to make a video out of a paper:

    Is Video Replacing Writing?
    The role of video in effectively communicating science

    Oral Session PA24A
    Tuesday Dec 4, 2012
    4:00-6:00 PM
    Room 302 Moscone South

    FYI for those going to AGU:

    Please join us at the following video events at the 2012 AGU Fall meeting:

    AGU Cinema: Short Films on Science
    Monday through Friday– Moscone West – Room 2012

    Drop by Moscone West, room 2012, any time during Fall Meeting to cool your heels and enjoy a short film or two (or more!). Films will focus on the Earth and space sciences and could feature your scientific colleagues as cast or crew. Films will run all day Monday–Thursday, plus Friday morning. Please check the Fall Meeting Website closer to Fall Meeting for the schedule of screenings.

    New technologies have revolutionized the use of video as a means of science communication. Films have become easier to create, distribute, and view. Having become omnipresent in our culture, video today supplements or even replaces writing in many applications. How are scientists and educators using video to communicate scientific results?

    An inaugural science film festival sponsored by AGU at the 2012 Fall Meeting will showcase short videos–30 minutes or less in length–developed to disseminate scientific results to various audiences, and to enhance learning in the classroom. AGU Cinema will feature professionally produced, big-budget films — with big goals and big audiences — alongside low-budget videos aimed at niche audiences and made by amateurs, including governmental agency scientists, educators, communications spec-ialists within scientific organizations and Fall Meeting oral and poster presenters.

    Filmmakers face the challenge of effectively communicating and captivating interest with their films, without compromising the scientific message. The festival aims to present a sample of films showing the current state of the science-film art in the Earth and space sciences.

    Video can do a lot for science and scientists: It can provide an expanded audience for scientific news and information, educate thousands at once about aspects of science, get the word out regarding scientific developments, help frame controversial science issues, show real scientists at work in the real world, promote interest in scientific publications, and report on science agency programs. It can also interest a young person in a future science career.

    Films to be screened in the AGU Cinema come from scientists at USGS; NASA; the US National Park Service; Service d’Aéronomie du CNRS (France),The Ocean Drilling Program; American Museum of Natural History, the universities of Amsterdam, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Bremen, Cambridge, Washington, and California (at Santa Cruz); the German Space Agency, Weather Underground, independent filmmakers and other sources.

    Films will cover topics including water, climate change, planetary science, education, and even science fiction.

    Come enjoy short films pertinent to Earth and space sciences and see how your fellow scientists are making videos to communicate science. The films–all in English or with English subtitles–will run 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, plus 8am to noon on Friday of Fall Meeting week, in Room 2012, Moscone West.

    To check out the schedule of screenings, please search for “Cinema” on the Fall Meeting events calendar: http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2012/calendar/.

    Is Video Replacing Writing?
    The role of video in effectively communicating science

    Oral Session PA24A
    Tuesday Dec 4, 2012
    4:00-6:00 PM
    Room 302 Moscone South

    Description: New digital technologies have revolutionized use of video as a means of communication. Admit it—video is better than writing in many cases. How can scientists and educators best use the appeal of video and new media to communicate scientific results? This session will showcase video developed to disseminate scientific results to different audiences, and video used in the classroom to enhance learning. Discussion will include how video is a tool for communication, education, and how it is important to integrate information over many platforms, including social media. We will examine the changing face of the media, implications of the changes, and what we expect the changes to be in the future.

    4:00 PM – 4:15 PM PA24A-01. Matthew Vonk, Video is the new writing: Are you literate? (Invited)

    http://www.physicstoday.org/daily_edition/points_of_view/video_is_the_new_writing_are_you_literate

    4:15 PM – 4:30 PM PA24A-02. Philip Wade; Arlene Courtney , Writing Assignments in Disguise: Lessons Learned Using Video Projects in the Classroom.

    Class project video examples:

    http://vimeo.com/51171857

    http://vimeo.com/51171859

    4:30 PM – 4:45 PM PA24A-03. John P. Reisman, Turn research results and paper into video as an effective education and communication tool.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIUN5ziSfNc

    http://www.amazon.com/Exposing-The-Climate-Hoax-Economy/dp/0983923108

    4:45 PM – 5:00 PM PA24A-04. Ryan W. Vachon, The Lens Staring You in the Face

    https://vimeo.com/40177448

    https://vimeo.com/40185138

    Dr. Vachon will also direct the Filmmaker’s Workshop (see below)

    5:00 PM – 5:15 PM PA24A-05. Dan Brinkhuis; Leslie Peart, Scientific Story Telling & Social Media The role of social media in effectively communicating science

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3D19BF4D27A3B8D0&feature=plcp

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWO6LnsGj1s&feature=plcp

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qtvK35YhNE&feature=plcp

    5:15 PM – 5:30 PM PA24A-06. Lisa R. Strong; Randi Wold-Brennon; Sharon K. Cooper; Dan Brinkhuis; Dan Brinkhuis, Interactive Video, The Next Step

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyfjTM3Aj50&feature=relmfu

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOgZy9TfSFo&feature=youtu.be

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tDnmyYMCGg
    5:30 PM – 5:45 PM PA24A-07. Joseph D. Smith; Jeffrey Beaudry; Annette L. Schloss; John Pickle, Using Video to Enhance a Citizen Science Program: Digital Earth Watch And The Picture Post Network

    5:45 PM – 6:00 PMPA24A-08. Marijke Unger; Kevin Moloney , Transmedia Storytelling in Science Communication: One Subject, Multiple Media, Multiple Stories

    There will be posters for this session as well in the poster Hall on Wednesday:

    1:40 PM – 6:00 PM; Hall A-C (Moscone South)

    1:40 PM – 1:40 PM PA33A-1985. John Cook; Dana A. Nuccitelli; Bärbel Winkler; Kevin Cowtan; Julian Brimelow, The Power of Online Community and Citizen Science

    1:40 PM – 1:40 PM PA33A-1986. Laura Allen; Vivian Trakinski; Ned Gardiner; Susan Foutz; Dan Pisut., Video and Visualization to Communicate Current Geoscience at Museums and Science Centers

    1:40 PM – 1:40 PM PA33A-1987. Douglas A. Harned; Michelle Moorman; Peter C. Van Metre; Barbara J. Mahler, Using Video to Communicate Scientific Findings – Paint it Black–Parking lot sealcoat as a source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4S1aBBovf0

    1:40 PM – 1:40 PM PA33A-1988. Nathaniel Kramer, The Secret List of Dos and Don’ts for Filmmaking

    We would like to invite you to attend the:

    Science Filmmaker’s Workshop
    Wednesday December 5, 2012
    9:45 AM to 11:45 AM
    Marriott (room Pacific J, 4th floor)
    Join us for a freewheeling discussion of science filmmaking. We will start with a free video workshop by Ryan Vachon for all new and potential filmmakers, followed by a discussion with other experienced amateur and professional science filmmakers in attendance.

    The Filmmaker’s Workshop

    Video has become a go-to method for research Broader Impacts or Outreach. Frequently PIs lean on their own imagination, that of their grad students or undergrads to make their vision of information dissemination happen. There is incredible value to fold individuals at ground zero of the science into science communication to the public. However, jumping into the project “cold-turkey” can be intimidating and often results in mediocre deliverables. Often times, learning the fundamentals of filmmaking can make an immense difference and give your project traction.

    During this two hour workshop, Ryan Vachon, scientist, videographer, and producer/director will take you through the fundamental steps and technology that typically make film production a meaningful endeavor. This tour de force of methods, theory and tools will illuminate essential components of a film production that could inform, inspire and empower individuals to take on the varying, and often overwhelming steps between back of a napkin ideas to finalized dissemination.

    Following the first hour and a quarter of film dissection, a panel of experienced film producers will be on-hand to field questions and instigate conversation about core elements of production that might, at first blush, seem like a black box of confusion. Let no question go unanswered. Come with a concept and receive feedback on new angles to make good things happen. –Ryan Vachon

    Films @ AGU Fall Meeting
    Fleeting atmospheric phenomena and giant calving glaciers are the stars of this year’s Films @ AGU. Photographer James Balog was a climate change skeptic – until he saw glaciers retreating first-hand. On Sunday, 2 December at 7:30 P.M. at Moscone South, room 300, watch as mountains of ice disappear in Chasing Ice. For the first time, one of the most enigmatic phenomena in Earth’s atmosphere — sprites — has been captured on high-speed video. Watch “Sprites: A Mysterious Burst of Light,” part of the NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) series “The Cosmic Shore,” on Thursday, 6 December at 1:30 P.M. at the Marriott Marquis, rooms Golden Gate C1–C3. A panel of scientists involved in the films will follow each screening. Both are open to all.

  26. 376
    Superman1 says:

    Secular Animist #373,

    ” FDR replied, gentlemen, you don’t understand. There isn’t going to be any 1942 model year. I am banning the manufacture of private automobiles effective immediately. You will build tanks and planes. That’s not a suggestion, and it’s not a request. It’s an order.

    That’s how you “mobilize for war”.

    So, why are we still building cars with gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines? Why are we still building coal-fired power plants?”

    1. In the 1940 election, the President received 85% of the electoral vote.
    2. The Democrats controlled over 2/3 of the Senate, and almost 60% more seats in the House than the Republicans.
    3. There were not too many Pearl Harbor ‘deniers’ at the time, and the ‘America Firsters’ ran for the hills.
    4. Barack Obama is no FDR!

  27. 377
    Chris Korda says:

    “If we were to levy a Special Assessment of 50% on this personal wealth,”

    French revolution anyone? More than a few wars have been sparked by considerably less provocation than this. More importantly, the “companies” you plan to pay to “keep fossil fuels in the ground” consist primarily of the Chinese and Indian governments. Given the scale of economic expansion they’re planning I don’t think they’re going to be too interested in 16 trillion, even assuming it could be raised without resorting to the national razor.

  28. 378
    David B. Benson says:

    Thawing of Permafrost Expected to Cause Significant Additional Global Warming, Not Yet Accounted for in Climate Predictions
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094250.htm
    does not appear to take into account what happened during the Eemian interglacial.

  29. 379
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the scale of economic expansion they’re planning

    Oh, in deals where you’re being paid not to do something, the bigger the planned expansion, the bigger they payment not to do it.

    Developers do that routinely to game local zoning challenges.

    Globally, consider the Chinese approach to controlling CFCs, which they have been doing by vastly overproducing HCFCs (they get paid to destroy HCFCs, which were a small-volume waste gas when the contracts were written, then they found a way to produce a vast excess and there was no sanity clause in the contract so they get paid for all they produce-to-destroy.

    Perhaps this experience convinced them capitalism can work :-)

  30. 380
    flxible says:

    I think you folks thrashing out what could turn things around need to broaden your perspective. With the human population increasing by about 1/2 a million a day [in the "poorer" areas obviously if increasing wealth lowers reproduction], economies everywhere in shambles unable to support the existing population, the jet set spending their “50%” providing jobs for a select few regardless of carbon consumption, positive feedbacks in high gear, and entrepreneurial science eyeing expensive profit-making exotic mitigation schemes, there appears little chance for revolutionizing global human culture in any time frame likely to make a difference. . . . . . As someone said somewhere, if you keep going where you’re headed, you’ll get there.

  31. 381
    wili says:

    flxible @ 380 wrote: “With the human population increasing by about 1/2 a million a day”

    Presumably you meant “1/5 of a million a day”?

    http://www.intmath.com/exponential-logarithmic-functions/world-population-live.php

    Not quite sure what “in poorer areas” is intended to imply. It is the wealthiest fifth of the world population that consumes the lion’s share of the resources and produces most of the ghgs. The good news on that is it is not the whole world you need to convince to reduce their consumption, just the top-most segment. The bad news is they are (we are) pretty much all greedy bastards–that’s how they got into the top level of consumers.

    I would be interested to know what strategies flxible and Korda may have to offer.

    I agree with Hank that it is generally a bad idea to pay someone not to do something. Should we start paying criminals not to do criminal acts? Where would that stop?

    Benson @ #378 said “does not appear to take into account what happened during the Eemian interglacial”

    Could you clarify for us hoi poloi what it is that they should have taken into account about the Eemian?

  32. 382
    Superman1 says:

    Chris Korda #377,

    “French revolution anyone? More than a few wars have been sparked by considerably less provocation than this. More importantly, the “companies” you plan to pay to “keep fossil fuels in the ground” consist primarily of the Chinese and Indian governments. Given the scale of economic expansion they’re planning I don’t think they’re going to be too interested in 16 trillion, even assuming it could be raised without resorting to the national razor.”

    We need to be consistent in the ground rules we use. Kevin Anderson’s comments, Lewis Cleverdon’s comments, Ray Ladbury’s Manhatten Project-type proposal, my recent comments, all address what needs to be done, could be done, should be done. They apply on a global scale, because the problem is global. If we go by plans that China or India, or whoever, have on the books, the game is over. As far as I can see, almost all major and intermediate countries are heading pell-mell to increase growth as fast as they can, and to exploit fossil fuel resources as fast as they can to underpin this growth.

    The focus of the above comments has been mainly on the technical side of the equation. The other half of the coin is the political/sociological side of the equation: how do we get the global cooperation that would allow any of the above technical solutions to be eliminated. This would require essentially 180 degree reversal of present direction, and would be unprecedented in human history.

    In my view, all facets of out-of-the-box thinking would be required, all options should remain on the table. What do I mean by this statement. We are essentially facing two extreme choices: business as usual (BAU) and a global Manhattan Project-type collaboration. BAU could, by some estimates, result in the premature deaths of hundreds of millions to billions of people by century’s end, while the Manhatten Project option could reduce these premature fatalities by orders of magnitude, depending on the success of any geo-engineering that is required. While it would be preferable to retain existing rules of law and democratic institutions to accomplish the latter option, and preferable to execute this option peacefully, if other means are necessary to accomplish this option, they need to be considered. Remember the over-riding goal: prevent the premature deaths of perhaps billions of people within the next century or so. Some actions required to achieve this goal may have to be quite harsh.

    You made light of my Special Assessment proposal of 50% of the personal net wealth of the upper 1% in the USA to help finance the USA’s share of the transition. I initially proposed the concept shortly after seeing the Fed report. I proposed it as a means of eliminating the national debt (which happens to be about $16T). However, helping to finance the transition to sustainable energy sources seems more urgent, with the option that it could be divided between the two applications. But, this is an example of what I mean by ‘all options remain on the table’. The political/sociological challenge is so immense and daunting that extremely radical solutions will probably be required. Governments may have to change and types of governments may have to change; peacefully if possible and by force if necessary. The opponents of change will not go peacefully into the night, but if we are serious about survival of any semblance of the civilization we knew and still know, we will do whatever is necessary to implement the required changes.

  33. 383
    Chris Korda says:

    superman@382:

    Governments may have to change and types of governments may have to change; peacefully if possible and by force if necessary.

    Sedition may not be OT but it’s still very much illegal. I continue to be astounded by the parade of callous “technical solutions,” bizarrely mixing hubris, naiveté, and militarism. I’m somehow reminded of the final scene in Dr. Strangelove. Where’s my copy of “World Targets in Megadeaths”? Pentti Linkola would certainly agree with you: “Any dictatorship would be better than modern democracy. There cannot be so incompetent [a] dictator, that he would show more stupidity than a majority of the people. Best dictatorship would be one where lots of heads would roll and government would prevent any economical growth.” Or more to the point: “A minority can never have any other effective means to influence the course of matters but through the use of violence.”

    wili@381:

    I would be interested to know what strategies flxible and Korda may have to offer.

    The more militant among us could participate (or even volunteer to be arrested) in the ongoing protests against mountaintop removal and the Keystone pipeline. You’d be in good company with James Hansen and Daryl Hannah. Those protests have a long way to before they have anything like the impact of the civil rights movement, as John Sterman from Climate Interactive points out: “No graph of sea level rise is ever going to have the emotional impact that bombed-out churches and civil rights workers being attacked by dogs and beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge had.” (53:19)

  34. 384
    flxible says:

    wili – Our population clocks have a difference of opinion [currently about 200 million, must be a conspiracy!], I simply set the one I referenced to the previous days date, which may not give a 24 hour count, but 210 thousand is as unsustainable as 410 thousand when they’re mouths to feed and clothe and keep out of the weather on a finite planet.

    What is implied by “poorer areas” is the “under developed” world, but maybe it’s just the wealthy Chinese and Indians that use all that coal to fuel their strivings. Folks here are fond of pointing out that as wealth increases, folks “choose” to have fewer offspring. China made it a law, but apparently too late.

    There is only one “strategy” to combat un-sustainability, although few here seem to accept that our environment has a limit, or, alternatively, hand wave that the “population bomb” is sputtering out as “wealth” increases – meaning as planetary resources are consumed and financial [hence social] “worth” is increasingly concentrated.

    I think superman1 has a more realistic view of what would be required, except the goal to “. . . prevent the premature deaths of perhaps billions of people within the next century or so” is misplaced, the goal needs to be to prevent billions of births. The modern medical concept of “premature” death is a major contributor to the problem – no doubt big ph-arma’s profits are being padded by the prevention of the “premature” deaths of more than a few commenters here, including moi.

  35. 385

    Sedition may not be OT but it’s still very much illegal.

    You absolutely and completely misunderstand and underestimate the magnitude of the problems and the solutions necessary to solve them in a timely manner.

  36. 386
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mike Roddy: “The reason key scientific developments concerning feedback loops and sink declines is being withheld is financial.”

    That is utter horsecrap! Dude, do you really think you could stop a scientist from publishing this if they knew about it?

    Mike, the reality-based community is calling. We don’t tolerate conspiracy theories from the denialists. We should not tolerate them from the realist side either if we want to have any hope of holding on to that realist mantle.

  37. 387
    bobb says:

    It may be a bit late to jump into this discussion…but here goes. I have to teach a week of climate change in an Freshman college introductary geology class next semester. One thing I’ve been looking for is a plot of the time variation in energy into the Earth system versus energy out. Does such a thing exist? I can’t seem to find it, but I may just be being clueless.

  38. 388
    SecularAnimist says:

    flxible wrote: “there appears little chance for revolutionizing global human culture in any time frame likely to make a difference”

    I agree. Fortunately there is no necessity to “revolutionize global human culture” to deal with global warming in the time frame likely to make a difference.

    The urgent necessity is to stop emitting greenhouse gases. That’s a technology problem. And the technologies needed to solve that problem already exist, and can be deployed very quickly. Indeed, those technologies already are being deployed very quickly, at all scales, all over the world.

    The growth of renewable energy technologies is astonishingly fast now — it’s still not fast enough, but there is no mystery about what’s needed to dramatically accelerate that process (shining examples of the success of “best practices” abound), and there are no real technological or economic obstacles.

    I humbly and respectfully suggest that getting on with that urgent task is a better occupation than wallowing in despair.

  39. 389
    SecularAnimist says:

    Mike Roddy wrote (#361): “The reason key scientific developments concerning feedback loops and sink declines is being withheld is financial. Corporations and media want the public to perceive business as usual as long as possible.”

    Ray Ladbury replied (#386): “That is utter horsecrap! Dude, do you really think you could stop a scientist from publishing this if they knew about it?”

    Ray, what I understood Mike to be saying was NOT that scientists are refusing to publish findings about feedback loops and sink declines — but rather, that when such “key scientific developments” are published in the peer-reviewed literature, they are largely ignored (“withheld”) by the mass media for “financial” reasons, with the result that the general public doesn’t hear about them.

    I believe there is truth in that, and that a survey of media coverage of troubling scientific studies of AGW would support Mike’s view.

    But regardless, it’s not a “conspiracy theory” about scientists withholding their findings, it’s a claim about how (and why) the mass media covers (or doesn’t cover) the findings that scientists do publish.

  40. 390
    flxible says:

    The urgent necessity is to stop emitting greenhouse gases. That’s a technology problem. And the technologies needed to solve that problem already exist, and can be deployed very quickly.

    If it were just a technology problem, then there would be no problem. Unfortunately those techno fixes are not being deployed quickly enough nor widely enough to have the required impact, and are very unlikely to be. That’s a socio-cultural-economic-political problem.

    While I fully agree there’s “a better occupation than wallowing in despair”, and I’ve been occupying myself otherwise for decades, focus on techno-fixes is the pre-occupation that got us to the current un-sustainable quagmire. A PV panel on every rooftop, a cellphone in every pocket, cell towers on every commercial building, an EV in every garage -times billions- and a world wide “smart” grid. Level off those mountain top coal pits and “plant” millions of high-tech pseudo-trees to suck up the carbon. Sure, increased consumption is the solution, no externalities involved.

  41. 391
    Hank Roberts says:

    for bobb (I’m just a kibitzer here, not a scientist):
    have you looked at these? Might lead to what you want:
    search: hansen+sato+earth+energy+imbalance+2012

  42. 392
    Ray Ladbury says:

    While it may be fun to fantasize what we would do with dictatorial power, the fact remains that we don’t and if we are sane would not want it anyway. Whatever we wind up doing about climate change will be accomplished through democratic means. This is as it should be. Democracy is the only form of government that can claim legitimacy in a pluralistic society.

    It is precisely because we wish to preserve democratic traditions that we need to act soon. Policy needs to be developed by an electorate that is informed rather than one that is fearful. Frightened people rarely make wise decisions. And those of us who appreciate the dangers we face due to a changing climate need to realize that this is but one of many risks we face as we lurch toward (what I hope is) sustainability.

  43. 393
    Superman1 says:

    fixible #384,

    ” I think superman1 has a more realistic view of what would be required, except the goal to “. . . prevent the premature deaths of perhaps billions of people within the next century or so” is misplaced, the goal needs to be to prevent billions of births. The modern medical concept of “premature” death is a major contributor to the problem – no doubt big ph-arma’s profits are being padded by the prevention of the “premature” deaths of more than a few commenters here, including moi.”

    The goal to prevent billions of births does not preclude the goal of preventing the premature deaths of perhaps billions of people. It is not an either/or situation. I am not talking about developing a new chemotherapy to prevent premature deaths of people who follow a toxic lifestyle. I am talking about taking actions now to prevent the deaths of e.g. innocent and healthy Bangladesh farmers who work along a low coastal area, and whose lives would be snuffed out by stronger typhoons enabled by warmer and higher ocean waters.

    I have recommended previously that, in the interim transition to self-sustaining energy production, all non-essential uses of fossil fuel energy be restricted severely or banned. Some posters have decried the implied use of authority to effect such a ban, and hurled myriad invectives. However, decisions have consequences, and unfortunately, in our history, those who make strong decisions are not those who have had to bear the strong consequences (Iraq???). If, as in my previous example, someone takes a vacation trip from the USA to Asia, and does quite a bit of traveling while on vacation, there will be consequences to pay. As Kevin Anderson has showed, even with drastic reductions in CO2 emissions, we are headed toward what he calls a very dangerous situation. Every bit of CO2 emitted from here on out will push the world in the direction of what Anderson calls extremely dangerous.

    Harsh words, but what do they mean? My neighbor’s flight to Asia, and its massive fossil fuel expenditures, will translate downstream to some Bangladesh, or maybe New Jersey coastal, farmer dying before his time because a CO2-energized climate and warmer/higher seas drowned him in the prime of his life. It would be preferable to be able to use the democratic process, with its legal base, and the equivalent of Marquis of Queensbury rules to effect change. But, if all this ‘legal’ process is doing in actuality is allowing these non-essential fossil fuel intensive processes to occur, such as individual choice to take an Asian vacation, then it is effectively sanctioning murder of some poor innocents downstream. That violates my moral and ethical code, and I am surprised is does not also violate the moral and ethical codes of readers of a blog such as RC. If not here, where: WUWT; Fox News? If ‘legal’ and ‘non-violent’ means result in the deaths of innocents, then other types of means may be justified in eliminating these deaths. My neighbor does not have the ethical right to take non-essential actions that will eventually result in that innocent Bangladesh farmer’s life!

  44. 394
    SecularAnimist says:

    flxible wrote: “focus on techno-fixes is the pre-occupation that got us to the current un-sustainable quagmire. A PV panel on every rooftop …”

    I would agree that our “focus on techno-fixes” that put PV panels “on every rooftop” is what got us into the current “quagmire” except for one thing: that never happened.

    And I think you realize that I said nothing remotely resembling “increased consumption is the solution”, and neither did I suggest mountaintop-removal coal mining or carbon-absorbing fake trees or the proliferation of cell phones as solutions.

  45. 395
    SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “I have recommended previously that, in the interim transition to self-sustaining energy production, all non-essential uses of fossil fuel energy be restricted severely or banned. Some posters have decried the implied use of authority to effect such a ban, and hurled myriad invectives.”

    Well, the response of other commenters here is of no consequence, since not one of us is in a position to restrict or ban anything.

    Presumably you have presented that recommendation to those who actually have the power to act on it. What was their response?

  46. 396
    wili says:

    Democracy did not permanently end in the US or UK just because they went on a war footing for a while. That is what is needed now.

    We have no more time at this point for gradualism of any sort. GW is now a far greater existential threat than the Germans or Japanese were.

    We need to get a universal image of fossil fuel use as the equivalent of dropping atomic bombs on ourselves and our children.

    After the effects of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were made clear, a deep and universal revulsion has helped prevent a repeat of the use of that destructive power, in spite of many temptations.

    We need a similar universal revulsion toward the the use of the destructive power of fossil fuels (and conventional meet eating…). Massive killer heat waves like the one in Europe in ’03 and other disasters like Sandy may move some in that direction, but we need artists and others to help us all not only understand intellectually but also get at a gut level the horrors we are unleashing on ourselves and our offspring.

  47. 397
    Steve Fish says:

    I agree with Ray Ladbury — 28 Nov 2012 @ 1:36 PM and I think that many of the comments above regarding what to do about our degenerating biosphere is just mental masturbation. The problem can’t be solved by adopting a war time effort and declaring a Manhattan project, or a planned recession/depression, or sedition, or taxing the rich, or geo-engineering, or whatever. This is because these are only methods that might be employed if the general population would recognize that there actually is a problem.

    I think that the U.S., my country, which is the most profligate user of fossil fuels and a leader in promoting a wasteful lifestyle, should be the leader in correcting the problem, but this is blocked by at least half of the electorate. Those who can’t see the problem are not addicted to their lifestyle; this is a major left turn from reality. All things being equal, everybody does what is inexpensive and convenient, and they are guided in their societal responsibilities by their friends and neighbors, civic leaders, and their favored politicians who espouse common cultural values. This cultural movement is fueled by moneyed interests and their pet politicians, think tanks, astroturf movements, and media outlets. Why should this group of citizens do anything uncomfortable if their trusted leaders say that global warming is just a hoax pushed by the dreaded environmentalist tree hugger pinko commie rats?

    I don’t know what to do beyond activism, suggested by some here, or writing letters, but I do know that the only person in this thread who is walking the talk is John P. Reisman (27 Nov 2012 @ 6:01 PM). You may not think his efforts are going to be productive, but if you have anything better I would really like to hear about it. Steve

  48. 398
    Superman1 says:

    Steve Fish #397,

    ” The problem can’t be solved by adopting a war time effort and declaring a Manhattan project, or a planned recession/depression, or sedition, or taxing the rich, or geo-engineering, or whatever.”

    I would phrase that statement differently. The problem can only be ‘solved’ through a Manhatten Project-type wartime effort, along with severe restrictions on fossil fuel use and possible expropriation of funds to finance the transition. From today’s perspective, there is zero chance that it will be solved, because only a miniscule fraction of the electorate and/or politicians would support the intensive and restrictive efforts required to make it happen. I would be surprised if five percent of the electorate would support the level of effort to make it happen, independent of what polls tell us about peoples’ concerns over climate change.

    One simple example. There was a recent rally in Washington on 18 November, following Bill McKibben’s Do the Math event, related to the Keystone pipeline. Three thousand people marched afterward. The organizers then issued the following statement:

    ” But we know yesterday’s action won’t be enough to win this fight. So we used this action to announce another one: next President’s Day, February 18, 2013, we’ll be back. This time, let’s make it 20,000. Will you join us next February and help give Big Oil something to really be concerned about?”

    20,000! And, that’s the rallying target. Now, I applaud them for any action they take; it is far better than doing nothing. But, if that’s what they’re hoping will impress ‘Big Oil’, they are whistling in the wind. In the Vietnam era, I attended many anti-war demonstrations in the nation’s capital, and some of these had many hundreds of thousands of people in attendance. What was their net effect on the war: almost zero? Post-war analyses showed that the 73-75 recession and the associated cutting off of funds for the war by Congress, along with the lack of progress on the ground, were what drove the end of the war. My reading of that situation is not that demonstrations per se won’t work, but a far greater fraction of the population needs to get engaged before such demonstrations will have some potential impact.

    ” I don’t know what to do beyond activism, suggested by some here, or writing letters,”

    Well, if you’ve ever done management of large, or even intermediate-scale projects, you would find the best way to solve problems and get the optimal results is to set the desired targets, and allow the performers and their advisers/consultants to come up with the innovative and creative approaches. Throwing out ideas on this site that lead nowhere is not the optimal path to success. What we really need at this stage of the fight to preserve the climate are some radically new ideas that include not only approaches to overcome the technical roadblocks, but especially approaches to overcome the organized sponsor/denier roadblocks and the politician/electorate opposition. Perhaps something like a DARPA-type award approach for outstanding ideas is called for, where multi-million dollar prizes are awarded to each of the top ten (or more) respondents who have the best ideas. The type of activism you are proposing is a dead-end street.

  49. 399
    flxible says:

    SecularAnimist, you stated there are “technological fixes” that can be rapidly deployed to solve the problem. If not distributed energy production, conversion of the existing ICE fleet to electric, something to remove atmospheric carbon, etc, etc, than what is this magic of which you speak that allows a [near complete] elimination of current civilizations carbon emissions without massive increases in material inputs?

  50. 400
    David B. Benson says:

    wili @381 — No evidence of substantial methane releases during the Eemian interglacial, despite considerably warmer temperatures than now. A place to look for verification is CH4 in NGRIP, northern Greenland ice core. There are other ice cores in the north extending far enough in the past to consider the Eemian interglacial.


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