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Unforced Variations: Feb 2013

Filed under: — group @ 4 February 2013

This month’s open thread on climate science…


421 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Feb 2013”

  1. 201
    wili says:

    “Transport of goods is also essential–some areas will not be able to produce enough food to feed their populations.”

    Ships. Trains.

    “any time we have had decreasing populations the result has been bad”

    “Germany’s population is characterized by zero or declining growth, with an aging population and smaller cohort of youths.”

    Yet their economy is not doing disastrously, (especially compared to some of their European neighbors).

    “This is not going to be an easy nut to crack.”

    On this, we can certainly agree.

    But “not easy” is different than “fundamentally impossible in principle” which seems to be the argument you are presenting (but do correct me if I’m wrong on that).

    For the record–though it is clear to me that there are a number of rather straight forward strategies that, if nearly universally adopted, could drastically reduce populations, misery and destruction of the earth = of the future–I see essentially zero chance that such ideas would ever be adopted; so if you wish to categorize me a “doomer” that wouldn’t be far off (perhaps even a gloomier doomer, since I see how so much of the destruction we are wreaking on ourselves and on the world is so utterly unnecessary, banal and stupid).

    Any thoughts on permafrost developments?

  2. 202
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “Transport of goods is also essential – some areas will not be able to produce enough food to feed their populations.”

    There is a big difference between transporting food to respond to food shortage emergencies (disasters, crop failures, etc) and routinely transporting broccoli grown in expensively irrigated California deserts 3000 miles in refrigerated diesel trucks to consumers in New York and Pennsylvania (which actually have better climates for growing broccoli than does California).

    Attaining bioregional self-reliance is, I think, an important part of the solution.

  3. 203
    Killian says:

    191 Ray Ladbury says: Killian, we are talking about nukes and natural gas and other energy options because we need to survive on a planet with 10 billion people on it until we get to sustainability.

    Perhaps you would care to explain how your sustainable systems allow us to care for an aging population

    Ray, why ask me to write a book here on RC? Why do you think we will make it to 10 billion? The grain shortfall this year is a strong indication that won’t happen. Why do you expect a global societal transition will occur smoothly? People are already dying from climate change effects.

    The shortest answer here is:

    1. Stop thinking in terms of classical, necoclassical and Keynesian economics and check out Steady-State Economics, Herman Daly, Steve Keen, Gift Economies, Jubilee and current aboriginal sustainable societies (lots to learn there.)

    Also:

    2. Understand and accept Limits to Growth, Catton, Diamond and Tainter. Tainter’s diminishing returns on complexity is vitally important.

    3. Understand the risk assessment requires taking rapid climate change seriously and taking action three decades ago.

    4. Understand 300ppm, not 350, is the goal and understand the energetic implications of that and the follow-on implications wrt simplification.

    5. Stop holding on to the society you see around you and accept that a sustainable society will exist on a fraction of the energy, particularly in the short term while getting to 300 ppm. After that, consumption can rise back to 300 ppm equilibrium.

    6. Understand we produced less grain than we ate this year and that extreme weather, as I predicted back in 2011, is going to make this a regular occurrence in years to come unless and until we move to regenerative farming/gardening.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76XaVu29Fng

    http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial/farming-systems-trial-30-year-report/

    7. Understand decision-making will reverse: neighborhoods/small communities will be the top of a reversed pyramid, cities/areas next, bio-regions next, inter-bio-regional next, global last. Localizing is a cornerstone of sustainability. Wise management of resources requires they not be concentrated in the hands of a few or corporations.

    8. Understand there are natural and sustainable solutions to everything, but that sometimes the solution is to shoot the hostage. I.e., if it hurts to do that, don’t do it. I.e., the problem is the solution. Eg., if coal plants are destroying the ecosystem, stop using coal. If that means living like Laura Ingalls Wilder, then do it. Or global jubilee, end to fractional banking, and gift economies, do it.

    It matters not at all what anyone wants to happen. A good designer does not impose design on the space, but lets the space tell them what to do. As you can see from SA and Chris Dudley, even people who can see there are serious issues afoot will still get hung up on what they want to be true rather than letting need-based reality dictate what *is* true and *must* be done.

    Chris wants us all to believe that solar either is or will be sustainable. The first is false. At best, one company – according to Chris – makes sustainable solar. I don’t believe it till I’ve seen the analysis, do you?

    But even if true, does it pass the sustainability sniff test: Will it power the current civilization at 9 billion? If not, at what scale, over what time frame is it sustainable? Do you have time to ramp up before passing tipping points? How does it affect every other aspect of civilization, i.e, what is the opportunity cost? What can’t we build or maintain because resources ar going into thin film solar?

    And on and on.

    The second *might* be true someday, but when? 10 years, 20? 50? Apply the sniff test from above.

    When a house is burning down and there are people trapped inside is not the appropriate time to wait around for new firefighting technology because it will be more efficient. The house will be gone and the people dead, but there will eventually be something more efficient! I promise!

    Yeah, well, we have all the knowledge we need right now to transition to a sustainable society. It is all embarrassingly simple, though it will never be easy.

    I’ve already listed on these forums everything needed to make the transition.

  4. 204
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 4:42 PM

    You said- “Still waiting for proof, or even evidence, thin film is renewable.”

    An odd statement in light of your not providing any “proof, or even evidence,” for most of your claims regarding what is not renewable. We have a very big problem, but all or none, black and white thinking is just naïve.

    Steve

  5. 205
    David B. Benson says:

    Plankton Pumping Iron May Impact Climate
    http://www.livescience.com/27116-plankton-effect-climate-change-nsf-ria.html
    looks similar to glacial/interglacial cycling. And yes, it was dusty during glacials.

  6. 206
    David B. Benson says:

    A War Without End, With Earth’s Carbon Cycle Held in the Balance
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132323.htm
    There are a lot of SAR11 bacteria in the oceans.

  7. 207
    Killian says:

    193 SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote: “What you are talking about is what Joseph Tainter calls diminishing returns on complexity, which he sees as the primary driver of failed societies.”

    What I am talking about is replacing coal-fired power plants with solar panels and wind turbines in order to reduce global GHG emissions by at least 50 percent within 10 years, as a first step towards eliminating all GHG emissions within 20 years.

    Same thing. It’s hacking at leaves and leaving the branches, trunk and roots alone. You can build all the wind and solar energy generators you want, and they will be better than coal, oil and NG, but if you are not making the concomitant socia-political changes, you are ultimately coming back to Tainter’s warning.

    If, per chance, you do the only thing that ultimately avoids collapse – reduce consumption to about 10% of total global today – then you don’t need to build but about ten to twenty percent of your eventual goal. A knock-on effect is that you greatly reduce emissions during the same time frame.

    This begs the question, why focus on consumption (building new infrastructure) rather than eliminating the need for 90% of what you plan to build?

    Or, if you see the transition to sustainability fraught with peril and see a need to buy time while keeping people calm, why not go even less invasive? Plant forests. Each tree has a dry weight that is 45% carbon. The rest of the forest flora would be some fraction of that, and the way I and other permaculturists would design it, might come close to equaling that.

    And why not make farmers farm sustainably, organically and get equal or better yields while building soil? That’s 40% of emissions yearly.

    And why not encourage every family to have a garden, if they have a space for it? It’s estimated the amount of laws space is equal to 3x the area currently used for corn in the US. Lots of carbon sequestered, a huge boost in quality of food and in localization local and self-reliance.

    Or, we can use fossil fuels to build a bunch of stuff we really do not need because it supports stuff that is unsustainable…

    What you are talking about is buzzwords and generalities.

    No. Design is what it is. Reforestation is a buzzword? Regenerative farming is a buzzword? Properly defining sustainability is a buzzword? That you have no knowledge in sustainable design is your problem, not mine.

    Why you seem to believe that we can only do those things “instead of” generating electricity from renewable energy, is beyond me.

    Nowhere have I ever said we should not use solar. I have, even in the last couple days, said the exact opposite. What I did say was that IF a way cannot be found to make it sustainable it will (will is a future tense, no?) be abandoned as currently practiced. I’m all for taking the many millions of old car generators and making 1kw wind generators with them.

    194 Hank Roberts says: Someone up there asked how to find out about the First Solar guarantee and NREL tests

    That .pdf does not address sustainability.

    Someone also said “so long as one knows that a given element in that system is unsustainable. That is, quite literally, all you need to know.”
    That absolutism

    That’s not absolutism, it’s logic. If you have a solid object, say, wrapped in opaque plastic and you need to move it through a doorway, what do you need to know? What it is? What it is made of? Who made it? Why it was made? How much it cost? No. You only need to know how large it is on each side to know whether it will go through that door. To repeat, sustainability is a threshold where a process can repeated essentially without end. If it can be done for ten years, 50 or 200 is irrelevant. Can it go on for, at minimum, millennia, and really for as long as humans are around? That is sustainable.

    Apparently this bothers some of you. Why a fact should bother you, I don’t know other than it either scares you, or you don’t understand it and consider the fact to be merely an opinion you may dismiss. It is time for you to put on your big boy pants and deal with this: solar panels are, as of now, today, this moment, an unsustainable technology.

    Pick an issue! The silicon? Has to be made into the form used, right? Guarantee you that process is unsustainable. We know that at least some cells are because of toxicity. This isn’t opinion! Pull those pants up! Some cells are made with processes that leave toxic materials. Those toxic materials fail at least one principle of sustainability: Every output must be an input to at least two other elements, and not poison the ecosphere. Every cell made with resultant toxicity is unsustainable by definition. Deal. With. It.

    What about the ore extraction? There is not a sustainable mining operation anywhere on this planet, except maybe some aboriginal operations. Or slave labor, perhaps. So, you need some sand? Gotta build machines to do that. (Unsustainable.) Need machines to clean it up, or whatever processing is needed? (Unsustainable.) Need to transport it? (Unsustainable.) Etc., etc.

    Are you getting the idea here? Perhaps we need a different thing clarified: Net zero carbon Does. Not. Equal. Sustainable. It merely equals highly efficient with regard to carbon. And net zero carbon doesn’t equal zero net energy. You could be net zero on carbon but still be negative on energy. Let’s assume there are net zero carbon cells out there in this fantasy world where toxic wastes are not counted (per the article I posted.) Let’s assume they produce more net energy lifetime, even including dismantling and disposal at end of life. They still may not be sustainable.

    Sustainability is not an energy measurement or a carbon measurement, it is a replaceability measurement within which both net energy and net carbon must also fit. Can we imagine this? Sure! These panels are made with metal frames and loaded onto metal racks. Are these made with sustainable ores shipped sustainably to sustainably built factories and moved via sustainable transport to sustainably built warehouses, then shipped via sustainable transport to homes and put on homes by sustainably fed, clothed and housed workers driving sustainable vehicles and put up on roofs sealed with sustainable materials and wired into sustainably built inverters with sustainably made and transported wiring with sustainable conduits….

    Get it? You call this naive, but this is our reality. What is naive is to think we can assume a finite Earth will support infinite growth, or infinite consumption of any given finite resource.

    Yes, the realization of this, and the implications for future lifestyles, is a very uncomfortable moment. Too bad. It is what it is. If you bothered reading through this and have understood the full import of this (95% of everything around you is made of, built with or transported by fossil fuels), you are at the beginning of understanding why technology cannot and will not solve this problem. Simplification is the only choice. The shape and form of that is determined by local conditions and needs to be designed and created locally.

    Naive? Hardly. The rate of climate change leaves no room for naivete.

    199 Ray Ladbury says: And a point about decreasing population–that in itself is a huge challenge. At any time we have had decreasing populations the result has been bad–e.g. the rise of feudalism in the middle ages, the collapse of civilizations in Africa due to colonialism and slavery.

    This is not going to be an easy nut to crack.

    This is why understanding what Diamond says about *choosing* to simplify is so important. Easy nut to crack, but really hard to get people to want to crack it. As this thread shows.

    204 Steve Fish says: Killian — 13 Feb 2013 @ 4:42 PM

    You said- “Still waiting for proof, or even evidence, thin film is renewable.”

    An odd statement in light of your not providing any “proof, or even evidence,” for most of your claims regarding what is not renewable. We have a very big problem, but all or none, black and white thinking is just naïve.

    What is black-and-white? Nothing I have said is black and white. You do not understand what you are choosing to patronize.

    Where is the lack of proof or evidence? Did I or did I not post info on problems with PV production? As for defining sustainability, that is easy: If it cannot go on indefinitely, it’s not sustainable. Cars? Nope. Current food system? Nope. (Killing soils and requires 10 calories of energy for each calorie consumed.) Computers? Definitely not. And what of energy storage? Batteries? Extremely bad for the environment and unsustainable. Double oops.

    None of this is black-and-white in the simplistic sense you mean it, but it is all simple and needs no scientific inquiry to prove. Things that might someday be sustainable are not interesting to a designer. They are fairy dust. They are interesting only from an R&D perspective until they become reality. Getting angry with me because you believe in fairy dust will not get you very far.

    Turn this around: what *is* sustainable? And I don’t mean one family with a well-designed garden. What exists today that is sustainable at a civilization level? Got a list?

    No, you don’t, because there is nothing. The best you can do is a few things that might be sustainable if we change virtually everything around them.

    Got that list?

    No?

    There is absolutely nothing that is proven to be sustainable about modern society. Nothing. The transport system is unsustainable. That alone makes everything else unsustainable. The food system is unsustainable, which, again, makes everything else unsustainable. It doesn’t matter if a part of a system is sustainable, only that the entire system is sustainable.

    This I guarantee you: there is absolutely nothing at the societal scale that is currently sustainable. There is no manufacturing process that is sustainable. Heck, there isn’t even a single community that is. The best ecovillages in the US are not sustainable, but merely more efficient and more self-reliant than the rest of us.

    The only sustainable systems on the planet are aboriginal.

    Your problem is you are fearful of addressing true sustainability and reject the simplicity of it.

    The saddest thing about these conversations it that we are actually in agreement, really, but you guys don’t see it because you don’t take it far enough.

  8. 208
    Chris Dudley says:

    Killian (#203),

    Actually, I was saying that you don’t understand renewables and how they work, their implications. Basically, you think all resources are depletable. That is incorrect. There are resources that completely change their nature once they are used such as coal, oil, uranium or natural gas which really are depletable. There are others like copper or iron which are easily refreshable. Slag carries away impurities when they are recycled. There are some which might take some serious effort to recover if we ever needed to like potassium and phosphorous though it is doubtful we’d need to anytime soon. And there is the flow of solar energy throughout the world, through the production of oxygen and starches in photosynthesis, wind and waves, evaporation and precipitation.

    Once we’ve built a system on the latter we are done. You complain about something from solar manufacture going to the dump. But that is not a problem. Once we’ve built enough solar, things don’t go to the dump anymore. We’ve got all we need. So, no need for an infinite dump which is your basic sustainability hangup. Renewables are not like depletables. They don’t have unworkable infinities or zeros. But, you seem to think they do.

    If you like design, I suggest you listen to William McDonough. He’ll tell you that sustainability is boring. Fecundity and fruition are much more natural. If there happens to be an afterbirth when we gestate our renewable based system, it is OK. We’ll figure out something to do with it later. Perhaps it will fold into the next cradle. http://www.amazon.com/The-Monticello-Dialogues-McDonough-Conversation/dp/0781307325

  9. 209
    Killian says:

    165 Cleber says: On the permafrost issue, some new and disturbing finds by Cory, Kling et al

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/02/05/1214104110

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130211162116.htm

    We knew the effects were accelerated vs. expected outcomes, so that there was another feedback to discover isn’t surprising.

    What is interesting is the specific finding that UV light plays a specific role. I assume this makes up for some difficulty in rectifying energy balances with outcomes. That is, the heat balance and/or expected heat effect from atmospheric CO2e vs. the observed effects probably make more sense with this finding.

    [Response: The implications of this study are far less important than the press release implies, and it's impact on anything energy-related will be close to zero. - gavin]

  10. 210
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Killian, Do some reading about the early to middle Middle Ages. It took the combination of disease, continual war and famine (partly as a result of war preventing agriculture and partly due to climate) to reduce population. So even reducing human population is a challenge–it will NOT happen naturally.

    The thing is that when population fell, so did productivity. This created incentives for nobility (landowners) to bind workers to the land, resulting in serfdom, which then persisted into the 18th (and in Russia, the 19th) century. A falling population places very strange stresses on the population. Look at what is happening in China as a result of the one-child policy–and their population is still rising!

    “Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers.”–H. L. Mencken

  11. 211
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    158 Dave Peters. Thanks for that David. What characterised this year was the prolonged scorching hot spell for our towns in Central to NW Queensland. They have been having week in week out temps in the mid to high 40C even nudging 50C on a number of occasions. I have never seen anything like that, maybe 4-5 days at most but for week after week??

  12. 212
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    I’ve been trolling the web for info regarding post summer arctic ice loss and there is a huge amount of speculation but it is clear to me that nobody really knows what is going to happen and how quickly to the earth’s climate particularly in the northern hemisphere. I’ve distilled the most touted effects as increased water vapour from the actic seas leading to more frequent and severe storms for the N.H. Also the deleterious effects to the kansas wheat bowl as the winter warms up due to warmer air currents stemming from the arctic. Faster rate of global warming as the ocean traps more of the sun’s energy and reflects less and less back into space. Accelerating rate of CH4 release from the CH4 hydrate beds under the arctic and surrounding tundra regions. Question:…how soon and to what degree and rate will global temps rise as a result of the arctic being ice free for longer and longer periods of summer extening into the arctic autumn and spring in the coming decades?.

  13. 213
    SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote: “That you have no knowledge in sustainable design is your problem, not mine.”

    With all due respect, you have no knowledge of what I have knowledge of, Killian. I was reading most of the sources on sustainability that you name-drop 40 years ago.

    Killian wrote: “why focus on consumption (building new infrastructure) rather than eliminating the need for 90% of what you plan to build? … Plant forests … make farmers farm sustainably … encourage every family to have a garden … Or, we can use fossil fuels to build a bunch of stuff we really do not need because it supports stuff that is unsustainable.”

    Um, what straw man are you arguing with, Killian?

    I have been criticizing, and largely eschewing, the “consumer culture” for decades. I grew up picking vegetables in my parents’ and grandparents’ huge “victory gardens”, I’m an organic gardener myself, and I’ve been advocating sustainable organic agriculture since reading my grandma’s old copies of Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine. Likewise I agree with other initiatives you have mentioned, including in particular reforestation and dramatic reductions in the energy used by buildings (many of which could and should become net energy producers).

    So I don’t know where you get this idea that I want to “focus on consumption” and on “building a bunch of stuff we really do not need because it supports stuff that is unsustainable.”

    I am saying one simple thing, which has two aspects:

    1. Electricity is the lifeblood of modern technological civilization. If we want to keep a modern technological civilization going, we need to keep the lights on. And the computers on. And the Internet on. And the weather satellites on. I want to see that happen, and I assume you do as well since you are online.

    So, we need plentiful, ubiquitous, reliable, non-polluting, inexhaustible sources of energy that we can transform into electricity. Sunlight, the kinetic energy of wind and water, and the thermal energy of the Earth, are those sources — and we already have mature, powerful technologies to harvest them, technologies which are getting more efficient, more powerful and less expensive every day.

    2. IF we are going to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic global warming, we need to achieve very large and very rapid reductions in GHG emissions. We need some QUICK FIXES.

    According to the latest EPA report, electricity generation is the largest single source of GHG emissions in the US (followed by the transport sector):

    Power plants remain the largest stationary source of GHG emissions, with 2,221 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e), roughly one-third of total U.S. emissions. 2011 emissions from this source were approximately 4.6 percent below 2010 emissions, reflecting an ongoing increase in power generation from natural gas and renewable sources.

    My view is that we can, IF we choose to do so, completely eliminate all GHG emissions from electricity generation — that’s one-third of total US GHG emissions — in 10 years, by rapidly deploying the solar and wind power technologies that we have in hand now, while phasing out fossil fueled generation (starting with the worst-polluting coal plants).

    This can, of course, be made a lot easier by eliminating energy waste and dramatically increasing efficiency, and deploying the various storage technologies that are available or under development now, and upgrading the grid to make it more robust, “smarter”, and better able to integrate diverse, distributed electricity producers at all scales.

    So, we have the potential to eliminate a huge chunk of GHG pollution very quickly, while also securing the supply of electricity that modern human civilization requires. I think that’s worth doing.

  14. 214
    Dan H. says:

    People wonder why the general public is uneducated when it comes to science. Check out CNN news anchor Deb Feyerick:

    http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/02/12/CNN-anchor-asks-if-global-warming-caused-asteroid-fly-by-VIDEO/6711360683868/

  15. 215
    SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote: “Did I or did I not post info on problems with PV production?”

    No, as a matter of fact, you did not.

    What you have posted is repeated, unsupported general assertions that neither photovoltaics nor various other technologies CAN, in PRINCIPLE, EVER be “sustainable”.

    And, far from posting any “info” about PV or any other technology, you have boldly declared that specific information about them — about their manufacturing and deployment processes, or their lifecycle material/energy budgets, or the availability and recyclability of their materials, or their capacity to drastically and rapidly reduce GHG pollution — is irrelevant.

    Why? Because you JUST KNOW that they CANNOT be “sustainable”, IN PRINCIPLE. So none of that “info” matters.

  16. 216
    wili says:

    “Do some reading about the early to middle Middle Ages. It took the combination of disease, continual war and famine (partly as a result of war preventing agriculture and partly due to climate) to reduce population. So even reducing human population is a challenge–it will NOT happen naturally.

    The thing is that when population fell, so did productivity. This created incentives for nobility (landowners) to bind workers to the land, resulting in serfdom, which then persisted into the 18th (and in Russia, the 19th) century. A falling population places very strange stresses on the population. Look at what is happening in China as a result of the one-child policy–and their population is still rising!”

    Actually, after the Black Death, the power of serfs increased–since they were in short supply, demand for them was higher, and they could in turn demand better treatment and better conditions. This emboldened them to engage in political activities that they generally not attempted before.

    But this is getting pretty wildly off topic. I don’t think anyone is saying transition to a shrinking population will be easy or painless; but growing the population to over 10 billion will certainly involve even more pain, suffering and destruction, especially if they all try to live like the average American.

    “Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers.”–H. L. Mencken

    Touche. Except that seemingly ‘simple, easy to understand’ answers–such as empowering women–(but that are actually quite complex to implement) have been shown over and over to dramatically decrease birth rates, i.e. have been shown to be ‘right.’ And drastically reducing petrol consumption, again may seem to be a simple answer to the needs of war torn England in WWII, but it seems to have done the job.

  17. 217
    Dan H. says:

    Wili,
    True. Population reduction will most likely occur under one of your previous conditions. However, zero population growth, has occurred in many developed countries. Many European countries are currently experiencing zero or negative growth.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_countries_by_population_growth_rate

    Historically, birth rates decline as areas develop. This has started to occur in many developing countries. The population will continue to grow as the standard of living increases, reducing the death rate. As the population ages, the birth rate and death rate begin to converge. Population growth rates peaked in the late 20th century. The UN projects growths rates to slow in every region of the globe, apporaching zero population growth by the end of the century.

    http://esa.un.org/wpp/Analytical-Figures/htm/fig_7.htm

    Unless we exceed the carrying capacity of this planet, population will not decline naturally.

  18. 218
    Chris Dudley says:

    Killian (#207),

    Pick an issue! The silicon? Has to be made into the form used, right? Guarantee you that process is unsustainable. We know that at least some cells are because of toxicity. This isn’t opinion! Pull those pants up [sic]! Some cells are made with processes that leave toxic materials. Those toxic materials fail at least one principle of sustainability: Every output must be an input to at least two other elements, and not poison the ecosphere. Every cell made with resultant toxicity is unsustainable by definition. Deal. With. It.

    I’m afraid to say you really are flaunting your ignorance. And since it is willful ignorance, it really does not have a purpose in a discussion where people respect and seek knowledge.

    And, sadly, your ignorance of design principles, your claimed specialty is showing too.

    Here is a correct definition of sustainability: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” http://www.mcdonough.com/principles.pdf

    So, what does purifying silicon now do? It enhances the ability of future generations to meet there own needs since they won’t have to do it again. Their energy payback time for recycling a panel will be weeks. All they’ll need to do is re-anneal cosmic ray damage and tend to the contacts.

    And, as for thin film, as practiced in the US, it does not put toxins into the ecosphere as the article you cite points out.

    How about if we agree to this: A definition of sustainability which prohibits evolution as yours does must be incorrect. You go back and study, stop espousing willful ignorance and learn something.

  19. 219
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Nothing I have said is black and white.

    “What? Nothing??”

    (apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

  20. 220
    Hank Roberts says:

    Killian, you have your own blog for your stuff.

    In context there, you come across a passionate guy who’s reached some conclusions

    There’s a place for that approach. Other climate and energy bloggers have made big names for themselves proclaiming the obvious answers with strong rhetoric. And of course there are nitwits proclaiming stupid notions, with similar rhetoric. They’re asking people to trust their conclusions, basically.

    This isn’t the best place to put lengthy statements of belief without showing you know the context, without the background, without support in the literature, and — without knowing your audience or the forum.

    You might want to reassess your approach — it’s not sustainable, here.

  21. 221
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:27 AM

    You said to Killian- “If we want to keep a modern technological civilization going, we need to keep the lights on. And the computers on. And the Internet on. And the weather satellites on. I want to see that happen, and I assume you do as well since you are online.”

    I believe that you are mistaken. Killian said- “The only sustainable systems on the planet are aboriginal” and has made it very clear that if it isn’t completely sustainable it has to go. I think that he is doing Superman1 trolling by posing impossible black and white goals, providing no way to implement them, not documenting anything, and accusing others of being blind to his shining truths.

    Steve

  22. 222
    Ric Merritt says:

    I have some large areas of agreement with what Killian says, but –

    what Hank said, #220.

    Fewer posts and words, please. You have shot past diminishing returns and into negative returns.

  23. 223
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wili, you think empowering women is simple? Really. Do tell, because most of the women I know still put up with a helluvalot of crap. ;-)

  24. 224
    SecularAnimist says:

    Steve Fish: “I believe that you are mistaken. Killian said- ‘The only sustainable systems on the planet are aboriginal’ and has made it very clear that if it isn’t completely sustainable it has to go.”

    Well, then I’m sure any further comments from Killian will be posted to this thread via drums, or perhaps smoke signals.

  25. 225
    SecularAnimist says:

    The UK’s National Environment Research Council says:

    Arctic sea ice volume has declined by 36 per cent in the autumn and 9 per cent in the winter between 2003 and 2012, a UK-led team of scientists has discovered.

    Researchers used new data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite spanning 2010 to 2012, and data from NASA’s ICESat satellite from 2003 to 2008 to estimate the volume of sea ice in the Arctic …

    The findings confirm the continuing decline in Arctic sea-ice volume simulated by the Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modelling & Assimilation System (PIOMAS), which estimates the volume of Arctic sea ice and had been checked using earlier submarine, mooring, and satellite observations until 2008.

  26. 226
    Killian says:

    209 [Response: The implications of this study are far less important than the press release implies, and it's impact on anything energy-related will be close to zero. - gavin]

    I agree. I think this does nothing more than fill in a little bit of causation.

    213 and 215 SecularAnimist says: Killian wrote: “That you have no knowledge in sustainable design is your problem, not mine.”

    With all due respect… I was reading most of the sources on sustainability that you name-drop 40 years ago.

    Key word, most. Your responses, and the pettiness of them, indicate not all. And, reading does not guarantee understanding nor assimilation.

    Um, what straw man are you arguing with, Killian?

    Straw man? No. Compare and contrast, highlighting the sustainability principle of natural before technical, as well as simplicity over complexity.

    I don’t know where you get this idea that I want to “focus on consumption” and on “building a bunch of stuff we really do not need because it supports stuff that is unsustainable.”

    I didn’t say you did, as a general point, but your post certainly did. And, this isn’t a contest, SA. Chill out.

    Re #1. Simpler is better. Natural before mechanical, mechanical before technical. This is how one does viable sustainable design. This limits resource use and is moves towards sustainability faster. So, again, if we can get to negative CO2 per annum without building any additional power plants, why not do it? If we reduce consumption without building any new power sources, we avoid new FF use and begin closing down plants that use them currently. By planning with these steps calculated in first, you greatly reduce the number of various types of “renewables” you need to build out.

    Re: #2. See #1.

    218 Chris Dudley says: Killian (#207),

    I’m afraid to say you really are flaunting your ignorance. And since it is willful ignorance, it really does not have a purpose in a discussion where people respect and seek knowledge.

    You certainly are a rude little bugger.

    And, sadly, your ignorance of design principles, your claimed specialty is showing too.

    I suspect I am the only one of the two of us to study them. Where and with whom did you study? Or what source(s)? Most of what is labeled “sustainable” or “sustainability” is neither.

    Here is a correct definition of sustainability: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” http://www.mcdonough.com/principles.pdf

    That is, as the grammar you used indicates, one definition. Do please note there are more. That one is so broad it doesn’t define sustainability. Allow me to demonstrate. Under that definition, what is happening right now, today, could be called sustainable. After all, what do we need? To stay alive. What do we need to do that? Maintain body temperature, drink fluids, eat. That’s it. If we transitioned to a lifestyle of near-aboriginal consumption, we could easily all exist on this planet with our needs met, but few would consider it a satisfying experience compared to how they live today. We could carry on like we are for some time and still be able to transition to a pre-industrial level and still meet the needs of future generations – barring moving past key tipping points.

    Heck, that definition doesn’t even define how large future generations should be. Future generations numbering 7 billion? 9? Half a billion?

    I disagree with that definition, iow. The one I use is far more accurate as it applies to any given tool, machine, method, process, in isolation and allows one to determine sustainability at every scale.

    All they’ll need to do is re-anneal cosmic ray damage and tend to the contacts.

    Is that done sustainably NOW, because that is what we are talking about. Is it a sustainable process NOW? No? When will it be? Don’t know? Well, shucks, then let’s bet our entire future on it, shall we?

    The point is obvious: design now for what you have now. Changes to design can be made later as new knowledge is acquired.

    And, you repeat the same error: whole system. Even if you can make silicon sustainably (not happening at present, is it?), you have to make the entire process sustainable, which I have already shown is not the case.

    Please do not respond further until you can explain to us all how to make solar panels **today** fully sustainable, from ore to endless replacement through the millennia. Otherwise, give it up and accept the fact you are talking about a bridge technology, not a final solution.

    And, as for thin film, as practiced in the US, it does not put toxins into the ecosphere as the article you cite points out.

    And? Didn’t say it did.

    How about if we agree to this: A definition of sustainability which prohibits evolution as yours does must be incorrect.

    Huh? This makes no sense. You and Amory Lovins would have some great conversations as you are both overly enamored of technology as a solution, so please do not further claim to have a better understanding of sustainability than I.

    You go back and study, stop espousing willful ignorance and learn something.

    Take your own advice, and, stop insulting people whose knowledge and arguments you do not understand.

    220 Hank Roberts says: Killian, you have your own blog for your stuff.

    This isn’t the best place to put lengthy statements of belief

    I have made no lengthy statements, nor short statements, of belief. Belief has nothing to do with knowledge and problem-solving.

    without showing you know the context

    How have I not done that?

    without the background

    What background do I lack?

    without support in the literature

    The existing literature, surviving an ELE being a rather new endeavor, is either non-existent, scattered or flawed. There is no existing literature in the sense you mean it. The logical error here is what the denialists engage in: We don’t know enough, so don’t speak. I have cited lots of sources. That you and others choose not to read/watch/listen to them, or dismiss what you find there, does not reflect on me, Hank.

    This is a process that will not be proven before engaged. We are already heavily engaged.

    without knowing your audience or the forum.

    When did I first come here, six years ago?

    You might want to reassess your approach

    I’d be more likely to take you seriously if you spoke thus to those making assumptions, using flawed logic and tossing insults.

    it’s not sustainable, here.
    Perhaps not, all the sadder for this forum, if so. But the content of RC has shifted over time, so there is hope. Advocating a head-in-the-sand response to a challenging perspective is not… awe inspiring, Hank. But, that’s OK, I was dismissed back in 2007, too.

    This is an emergency. All hands on deck. If you want to play favorites, you are asking to fail. What is eventually the mainstream always starts as the fringe, no? Are not my comments here going back to 2007 (ccpo) evidence of this? Is it not an argument in my favor that I was saying rapid changes were upon us back then, and well, here we are? Consider listening to a voice whether you like it or not.

    221 Steve Fish says: Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2013 @ 8:27 AM

    You said to Killian- “If we want to keep a modern technological civilization going, we need to keep the lights on. And the computers on. And the Internet on. And the weather satellites on. I want to see that happen, and I assume you do as well since you are online.”

    SA: What I want is irrelevant. Your are making an immediate design error by designing to your wishes. We design to needs, then meet wants only once needs are met. We are in the middle of an ELE. Wants are irrelevant.

    Killian said- if it isn’t completely sustainable it has to go.

    What I said is that it ultimately has to go. But this is self-evident and not a point a knowledgeable and rational mind would argue.

    I think that he is doing Superman1 trolling by posing impossible black and white goals…

    Trolling is roughly defined as incitement with little or no regard for conversation. If this is waht you actually think, I suggest you note the fingers pointing back at yourself as you point at me. There are only two of you insulting others here, and those two are you and SA.

    What I advocate I have already said: Rapid decarbonization with an emphasis on natural solutions (in line with principles of sustainable design); localization, which includes a reorganization of governance to sustainable methods of governance, part of which, at least, would be a reversal of current governance to put the emphasis on local decision-making (invisible systems); prioritization of maintaining health and global information systems as best use of non-renewable resources during the period of transition (appropriate technology); leveraging of extant non-renewable resources/systems/stuff to get to sustainability (appropriate technology); accepting a sacrificial level of consumption till below 300 ppm with a rebound back to steady-state economic activity appropriate to maintaining 300 ppm.

    This is hardly monochromatic. It is hardly wild or crazy. It is incredibly simple, but that is the way of sustainable design. It is rational, even if unlikely given the rather mad desire to hold on to what is clearly destructive of the planet.

    Still waiting for the evidence solar, even thin film solar, is sustainable as currently produced and deployed.

    And still waiting for acknowledgment I never said use of technology is evil, merely that so long as it is unsustainable, it serves only as a bridge technology and will, eventually, go the way of the Dodo Bird unless it is made sustainable.

  27. 227
    Killian says:

    222 Ric Merritt says: Fewer posts and words, please.

    Dude, I don’t post here for weeks, even months at a time. It has only been since Sandy that the national conversation has really jumped on sustainability and climate. These are timely, if sometimes derailed, discussions. I think you can handle one Unforced Variations where I actually go into some detail on sustainable problem-solving.

    And, if you want less back-and-forth, perhaps your words would be better stated to folks like Dudley and SA. These issue are too important to allow misrepresentations to go unclarified.

    You have shot past diminishing returns and into negative returns.

    Hmmm… do you know how to do sustainable design yet? If not, I’ve not shot past negative anything.

  28. 228
    flxible says:

    “Please do not respond further until you can explain to us all . . .” > the wonderfully sustainable behaviors you personally have adopted to support your rants Killian – selling unsustainable solar panels? leasing whole systems? having children? eat foods grown outside Detroit? drive a car or truck? You are ranting, same as you did as 2cpo, and Real Climate is still a climatology site, regardless of your misperception of the comment threads, so please stop adding unsustainable volumes of sociology to the blog, take it to some political arena.

    CAPTCHA sez: cease Reitype

  29. 229
    Chris Dudley says:

    Killian (#226),

    At this point you are not arguing with me, you are arguing with the masters of sustainable design. That you are unaware of this indicates that you really don’t know what you are talking about.

  30. 230
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I was dismissed
    I don’t recall what went on for you here in 2007.
    You’re showing up here; you haven’t been dismissed.
    Just readers, including me, suggesting you point to better written position papers because the very long text dumps in this topic are overwhelming.

    Personally, I think you’re not saying anything new, though I do believe it’s new to you and you don’t understand why everybody hasn’t done these things decades ago. Well, I don’t understand why people didn’t do all these things decades ago either. My dad was teaching this stuff to biology students before I was even born.

    However, I don’t understand why people do a lot of things.

    I”m here to learn climate science.
    For ideas about making choices consistent with what I learn, I go to other sites.

    Here’s an example: As we used to say when we were kids,
    Is your refrigerator running? Better go catch it!

  31. 231

    “Unless we exceed the carrying capacity of this planet, population will not decline naturally.”

    I dunno; seems to be declining pretty naturally over much of Europe now–or at least, preparing to do so:

    http://www.assembly.coe.int/ASP/Doc/XrefViewPDF.asp?FileID=12916&Language=EN

    China, too.

  32. 232
    Jim Larsen says:

    Killian said, “Re #1. Simpler is better. Natural before mechanical, mechanical before technical. This is how one does viable sustainable design. This limits resource use”

    “Natural” doesn’t limit resource use. Instead, it’s so inefficient it limits consumption. For a given level of population and consumption, technical beats the pants off natural. We both like to read. A few PV cells and a tablet and I’m there, even at night, probably for the rest of my life, with never a need to consume any more resources. And when that tablet does die, a little totally sustainable power will recover the rare elements and all will be new again.

    You get to, well, how “natural” is “natural”? I’m assuming reading is OK? How about metal tools to cut down the trees you need to burn to see the books you’ll have to buy? The food to feed the people who hand-write the books? Is it like the Amish, where there is a specific technological era that’s “perfect”?

    Tell me of this Sustainability Element which can’t be recovered from sea water or dirt or landfill. That volcanoes and rifts never deposit…

  33. 233
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    I wonder if Killian gets the message this time??

  34. 234
    Hank Roberts says:

    Overshoot, reviewed in Public Health Rep. 2009 Jan-Feb; 124(1): 167–168:
    “… I not only consider it one of the most influential books I have ever read, but I believe it ranks as one of the most important books ever written, period. I wished I had read it 27 years ago ….”

    Anyone who hasn’t read it yet — seriously — spend some time reading the book.
    It’ll help you wonder, why the hell couldn’t we convince people this was happening, decades ago, as it’s long been obvious to anyone who read ecology.

  35. 235
    flxible says:

    “It’ll help you wonder, why the hell couldn’t we convince people this was happening, decades ago, as it’s long been obvious to anyone who read ecology.”

    Or it will remind those who paid attention to ecological sustainability decades ago that the majority are still not convinced, at least not enough to actually make the changes understanding it prompted some of us to make long ago. Particularly the understanding that some eventual “leveling off” of population overshoot will be the magical solution.

    ask CAPTCHA, what’s a “ryclimpl climate”?

  36. 236
    Killian says:

    232 Jim Larsen says: Killian said, “Re #1. Simpler is better. Natural before mechanical, mechanical before technical. This is how one does viable sustainable design. This limits resource use”

    “Natural” doesn’t limit resource use.

    It limits non-renewable resource use, can limit rate of use of renewables by slowing speed of consumption, and limit both by eliminating behaviors that require either non-renewable resources or too rapid use of renewables.

    The Green Revolution ultimately was a massive mistake because it used non-natural solutions to increase food supply which allowed a massive boom in population while destroying soils all over the planet and many other unintended, negative, consequences such as eutrophication. At the time – and still – regenerative agricultural methods were not widely practiced, so food production would have been a limiting factor on population growth which would have led to a slower rate of consumption of all resources.

    Instead, it’s so inefficient it limits consumption.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. Yes, sustainable systems are typically less efficient. This is a positive, not a negative, as resilience is more important to sustainability than efficiency is. E.g., using co-planting increases yield, health, resistance and quality of food, but it is obviously more labor intensive. This is a good result, though less efficient.

    For a given level of population and consumption, technical beats the pants off natural.

    Only if it is sustainable and doesn’t create fragility in place of resilience. You are confusing efficiency with sustainability.

    We both like to read. A few PV cells and a tablet and I’m there, even at night, probably for the rest of my life, with never a need to consume any more resources.

    Then you must be pretty old because that tablet isn’t lasting a lifetime. And not at night without batteries – currently unsustainable – or some other storage process. Pumped storage?

    And when that tablet does die, a little totally sustainable power will recover the rare elements and all will be new again.

    Is the recovery process sustainable? Are the non-rare elements sustainable or sustainably produced, delivered and reused?

    You get to, well, how “natural” is “natural”?

    You are building a straw man. Natural before mechanical, mechanical before hi-tech does not mean no mechanical nor no high-tech, so long as they are sustainable.

    How about metal tools to cut down the trees you need to burn to see the books you’ll have to buy?

    Are the tools sustainable? Are the trees or other material grown sustainably?

    The food to feed the people who hand-write the books?

    Easy to do sustainably, but is it in your test case?

    Is it like the Amish, where there is a specific technological era that’s “perfect”?

    Another straw man. You’ve seen me say repeatedly sustainability is ultimately local, depending on conditions there and the loops they can create with other communities, bio-regions, etc.

    Save your sarcasm > childish.

  37. 237
    Killian says:

    230 Hank Roberts says: you haven’t been dismissed.

    Not by all, obviously, just some of the more vociferous, and rude, posters.

    Just readers, including me, suggesting you point to better written position papers because the very long text dumps in this topic are overwhelming.

    You well know the data that would satisfy scientific publications are extremely limited on sustainable systems, and are often wrong because they are based on faulty economics, such as endless substitution. See “Sustainable Growth”, Millennium Assessment Goals, LEED, etc.

    I”m here to learn climate science. For ideas about making choices consistent with what I learn, I go to other sites.

    Like it or not, as is increasingly the case, scientists and tech heads are going to be important in developing sustainable systems.

  38. 238
    Killian says:

    229 Chris Dudley

    Chris,

    Prove solar is currently sustainable. That it is unsustainable is obvious and requires no scientific study, as proven logically already here. Not one piece of what makes up a solar array is currently sustainable. More efficient than some other sources of power? Yes. Sustainable? No.

    Defend your flawed definition of sustainability.

    [Edit - please raise the tone]

  39. 239
    Chris Korda says:

    Is anyone here headed to DC for the anti-Keystone XL pipeline rally? If so maybe we can meet up, as I’m definitely going (from Boston tomorrow evening). I can also report back on the proceedings if anyone’s interested.

    The pre-game show is already underway: Hansen was arrested in front of the Whitehouse again yesterday (for the 4th time) along with 47 others including Bill McKibben, Adam Werbach, and Daryl Hannah. The Sierra club apparently made good on their promise to lift their 120-year ban on civil disobedience.

    Top NASA scientist arrested (again) in White House protest
    Activists arrested at White House protesting Keystone pipeline
    Keystone XL: NASA’s James Hansen risks arrest… again [good picture]

  40. 240
    Chris Korda says:

    Killian: There are appropriate venues for impassioned debate about energy policy, permaculture, sustainable living, etc. but this isn’t one of them. This is a climate science site, even on the open threads. Your rants are way off topic and disruptive here, as others have repeatedly stated. Please show some respect for the scientists who organize and moderate this site by taking it elsewhere.

    More generally it seems an appropriate moment to repost the rules, which have been spelled out reasonably clearly on a few occasions, though only in moments of dire necessity.

    “Please keep discussions related to the science of climate change. Not the politics of climate change, the economics of energy generation, how cell phones do or do not give you brain cancer, the end of the world as we know it, or how strongly you feel about saving the world.” -Gavin, Oct 2012 @222, see also @205

    “Actually, neither insults nor ad homs are particularly welcome here. None of us really has time to moderate this kind of stuff, and frankly we resent the time it takes to police the various slanging matches. Please stick to the substance and try out the art of the insult somewhere else.” -Gavin, Sep 2012 @410

    “Defensible statements and discussion of the physical, chemical, biological, statistical etc. issues only from here on out please.” Jim, Aug 2012 @373

  41. 241
    SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote: “Prove solar is currently sustainable. That it is unsustainable is obvious and requires no scientific study, as proven logically already here.”

    The insistence that one can “prove” a factual assertion with “logic” and without recourse to actual facts, is anti-empirical, and thus anti-scientific, thinking.

    It’s the kind of thinking that led medieval theologians to engage in prolonged, involved, and impeccably “logical” debates about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, and to disdain those who suggested that they should observe actual angels on an actual pinhead to find the answer.

  42. 242
    Susan Anderson says:

    Laurence Coleman @~212:

    You’ve probably looked at Neven’s, but if not, that’s the place to go with real curiosity about Arctic developments:

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/

    Also recommend going right through the comments.

  43. 243
    Killian says:

    241 SecularAnimist says: The insistence that one can “prove” a factual assertion with “logic” and without recourse to actual facts, is anti-empirical, and thus anti-scientific, thinking.

    Your assertion is false. The facts are abundant. It is quite simple. No electronics industry anywhere on the planet has made a claim of sustainability. No manufacturer of electronics or mechanical systems anywhere on the planet has claimed sustainable production. No maker of wires, or metal frames, or solar cells, or inverters has made such a claim. No claim of sustainable transport exists. No claim of sustainable ore extraction exists. This is because they do not exist. The best you will find in any of these areas are claims of greater efficiency. Thus, sustainable manufacture of solar panels does not exist. This does not require science to prove or to understand. If the means of manufacture of a product are not sustainable, the product itself cannot, under any circumstances, be sustainable.

    This is logic fully supported by fact, not devoid of it. Your claim there are no facts is absurd. One can make logical conclusions based on facts. It is the core of science, not un-scientific thinking.

    Yes, the implications of living a truly sustainable lifestyle are frightening for most, so I excuse you here, but I am running out of patience with these false assertions and straw man arguments.

  44. 244
    Killian says:

    240 Chris Korda

    With all due respect, sustainability is the only way you mitigate climate effectively. Discussing how to mitigate climate changes is not part of climate science? And how do you do that without sustainability?

  45. 245
    Killian says:

    240 Chris Korda

    Andrew Glikson might disagree with you: Andrew Glikson: “No alternative to atmospheric CO2 draw-down” http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/2013/02/andrew-glikson-no-alternative-to.html

    What is needed is a move of the conversation from he said/he said to discussions of how quickly various aspects of sustainability can move us to sub-300 ppm. Andrew particularly cites some of my favorites: reforestation and soil-building. Sadly, like most others, he doesn’t actually get to farming/gardening, which would be huge, and ignores reduced consumption altogether.

    A very flawed analysis in that it focuses only carbon rather than sustainability, failing to recognize that achieving sustainability is the only way to remain in a stable carbon flux, but at least he is speaking about it, and in terms of climate science.

  46. 246
    Chris Dudley says:

    Killian (#238),

    Argument by assertion isn’t. You have not provided a non-crackpot definition of of sustainability. So, you really have not said anything meaningful about solar.

    I have pointed out earlier that it is fecund in that is looks as though it could allow us to get at all the fossil carbon, not just the easy stuff. Fecund is a step above sustainable. It invites greater wisdom because greater creativity is involved. It is also more interesting than bean counting sustainability and more appropriate to the human spirit. By giving the power to either really wreck the climate or perhaps truly heal it, it puts us in a position of choice which is an opportunity to grow.

    You seem to want to eliminate all choices and live in a sty.

    How sad for you.

  47. 247
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    242 Susan Anderson, thanks Susan. I catch up with neven’s blog usually once a week and the dramatic new findings of acrtic ice volume loss prompted me to write the note above asking how soon will things go pear shape climate wise when there is substantially less ice cover for much of the year. This is obviously a major tipping point in the process of tipping over and does anyone out there have a clear handle on what we can expect?. I know what what James Lovelock would say..and he is probably going to be proven correct before too long.

  48. 248
    Jim Larsen says:

    “Prove ____ is currently sustainable.”

    I think pretty much everything we as a species enjoy doing is potentially sustainable. Our current techniques for pretty much everything aren’t sustainable. That’s a problem, but your logic is backwards and rushed. Sustainability is ONLY required when excess resources are exhausted. Until then, it’s just planning for the future. Like the trillion ton(?) carbon limit. Assuming (pretending) it’s 100% accurate and tipping-point-like, we get to unsustainably spew a trillion tons of carbon without harm. IOW, we get to use resources unsustainably to build a sustainable world system. (oh, the odds of our blowing that one..)

    And yep, I’m pretty old. And yep, batteries and bulbs only last a decade or two (or half). So yep, if I were to buy a book-reader today, I might or might not have to replace a battery or a bulb or even a whole by-then-very-cheap unit before I die. But the era of churning out the latest and greatest disposable gadget is ending. We’re hitting physical limits, both ours, such as eye resolution and ability to handle g-forces in a car, and electronics, such as etching width, and space, such as how big a screen will fit on a wall.

  49. 249
    MalcolmT says:

    “Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science” via Donors Trust. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/14/funding-climate-change-denial-thinktanks-network

  50. 250
    Dan H. says:

    Killian,
    How quickly we can move to sub-300 ppm CO2 is a pipe-dream at the moment. First, we need to ascertain how to maintain levels sub-400. All of this requires money, and needs to be done economically. Pretending (to quote one of esteemed commentators) that this can be done today, does not help the argument for future progress. Re-forestation is a nice concept, however, not to mention the beautification bonus.


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