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Unforced Variations: June 2013

Filed under: — group @ 1 June 2013

June’s open thread…


389 Responses to “Unforced Variations: June 2013”

  1. 1
    David Miller says:

    Neven’s Sea Ice Blog continues to impress. There’s analysis of an Arctic Cyclone here.

    My take on it is that there’s a significant chance of wiping out last years record low extent/area records.

    (Time for a June open thread?)

  2. 2
    SecularAnimist says:

    Regarding the frequent discussions of “sustainability”, the new State Of The World 2013 from Worldwatch Institute may be of interest:

    Every day, we are presented with a range of “sustainable” products and activities—from “green” cleaning supplies to carbon offsets — but with so much labeled as “sustainable,” the term has become essentially sustainababble, at best indicating a practice or product slightly less damaging than the conventional alternative. Is it time to abandon the concept altogether, or can we find an accurate way to measure sustainability? If so, how can we achieve it? And if not, how can we best prepare for the coming ecological decline?

    In the latest edition of Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World series, scientists, policy experts, and thought leaders tackle these questions, attempting to restore meaning to sustainability as more than just a marketing tool. In State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?, experts define clear sustainability metrics and examine various policies and perspectives, including geoengineering, corporate transformation, and changes in agricultural policy, that could put us on the path to prosperity without diminishing the well-being of future generations.

    If these approaches fall short, the final chapters explore ways to prepare for drastic environmental change and resource depletion, such as strengthening democracy and societal resilience, protecting cultural heritage, and dealing with increased conflict and migration flows.

    State of the World 2013 cuts through the rhetoric surrounding sustainability, offering a broad and realistic look at how close we are to fulfilling it today and which practices and policies will steer us in the right direction.

  3. 3
    Jim Larsen says:

    544 Walter P said, “ perhaps here is at least a partial solution?”

    The ultimate way would be to ban flush toilets and require composting toilets. Makes for increased disease (those deaths from eating lettuce et al were the result of using human manure) and will only recover perhaps 75% of the nutrients as much food rots or is “stolen” by animals.

    But I agree that that’s the way to go. Composting toilets were the only type I put in my eco-houses. Not sustainable, but far less wasteful.

    Then again there’s semi-vegetarian diets. Meat doesn’t compost well and is bad in large quantities and takes far more resources than veggies.

    SecularA, did you read the book? It sounds interesting, but not sure it’s $22 interesting.

  4. 4
    Yoram Bauman says:

    Hello RC community: I’m an environmental economist and stand-up comic who’s coauthored a couple of well-regarded cartoon books about economics for high school and college classes and the general public… and now my coauthor (Grady Klein) and I are working on a Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change.

    We have posted an early draft of the first third of the book (six chapters on climate science, with impacts and policy coming later) and are inviting feedback from one and all! Details and downloads at http://cartoonclimate.wikispaces.com/

    Feedback is welcome on that wiki site, or via email to me at yoram at standupeconomist dot com. (Also send me an email if you want to get updates on future drafts &c. And if you’re interested in the econ books or my comedy videos, there’s more at standupeconomist.com.) BTW the book is due out in spring 2014 and will be published by Island Press.

    Thanks!
    yoram bauman phd
    http://www.standupeconomist.com
    “the world’s first and only stand-up economist”

  5. 5
    Arun says:

    As a vegetarian, I would retain flush toilets and ban meat!

  6. 6
    Steve says:

    I have been wonder about and searching for information regarding a sustainable life style. I’ve heard estimates that the world can only sustain about between around three million and a half million humans. I don’t know what the truth is, but can it sustain 7 million?
    Part two: if I wanted to adopt a sustainable life style, for the sake of personal responsibility, what would it look like? I live in a metropolitan area of over 5 million people. Is that sustainable?

  7. 7
    Steve says:

    That should be, can the earth sustain 7 Billion people. Moderator is invited to correct. Thanks.

  8. 8
    Brett says:

    Peter Ferrara of Heartland Institute did some type of “blah” “No warming in 15 years” type of thing over at Forbes. I just don’t have the energy to really write out a response to all of it.

    That should be, can the earth sustain 7 Billion people. Moderator is invited to correct. Thanks.

    I think so, albeit under denser, more efficient conditions. If you look at per capita use of energy, water, emissions, etc in denser cities like New York City, it’s a lot lower than what you get in much less dense areas. If most of the population was living in that type of density, we’d easily be able to support 7 billion people and more.

  9. 9
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 1 Jun 2013 @ 12:04 PM

    Thanks for the link. I have ordered the book. It will be good to have some current, authoritative, and documented material on sustainability.

    Steve

  10. 10
    Meow says:

    On the Fermi Paradox conversation from last month’s open thread, I suspect one explanation is that civilizations go largely radio-silent after a relatively brief period of high-power broadcasting. We are largely following this path with cable TV and internet radio. Thus, if we aren’t observing during the small high-power broadcast window, we’ll hear nothing. Add the inverse-square law (which buries far-away or low-power transmissions in the noise), and the paradox seems less pointed, if not nonexistent.

  11. 11
    Fred Magyar says:

    SecularAnimist @2

    “Is it time to abandon the concept altogether, or can we find an accurate way to measure sustainability? If so, how can we achieve it? And if not, how can we best prepare for the coming ecological decline?”

    Here’s another group that takes a serious approch to answering this question: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/footprint_science_introduction/

  12. 12
    prokaryotes says:

    Meow, isn’t CO2 concentration an agent of potential life forms? Why only look for radio signals?

  13. 13
    patrick says:

    @1 I was looking at that (Neven) and at John Mason’s article which Neven links, saying: “I will have to read John Mason’s excellent rough guide to the jet stream again.” It’s at Skeptical Science: A Rough Guide to the Jet Stream: how it works and how it is responding to enhanced global warming, 22 May:

    http://skepticalscience.com/jetstream-guide.html

    With accompanying graphics, it says:

    “…one consequence of Arctic Amplification is to reduce the temperature-gradient between the Arctic and the warmer latitudes. Given that the strength of the jet stream is influenced by the magnitude of the temperature-gradient, it follows that warming of the Arctic could lead to a weakening of the jet stream and a greater tendency to meander as it slows down.”

    Mason cites Dr. Jennifer Francis. She’s interviewed in this video that is running on Climate State (Video Streaming and Magazine) about “Climate Warming & the Jet Stream” re: extreme weather, made by the Yale Forum on Climate Change:

    http://skepticalscience.com/jetstream-guide.html

    There are good graphics (long-term/short-term ice) in this video (with Dr.Francis and others): A New Climate State: Arctic Sea Ice 2012:

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

  14. 14
    Killian says:

    Answering from last Open thread:

    542 Jim Larsen said Killian, I’ve built several eco-houses, designed but didn’t build an ~100mpg mid-size car, and have generally studied the issues since I was a child. Others here have similar backgrounds.

    This means nothing in and of itself other than you have some awareness. I would say the vast majority of “green” or “sustainability” thinkers and activists get the basics very wrong. The post I responded to screamed for a response that you choose to characterize as “talking down to.” If your knowledge and analysis were as strong as you imply, you wouldn’t have asked me the questions or made the comments you did, and in the style you did. And your responses to me over time have been less than accepting and cordial. If you want to claim there was no sense of pique in your post, I say straight out that is false. If you don’t want pique, don’t engage in it yourself.

    Your tendency to talk down to people who probably know more about the issues than you is off-putting.

    So is yours. See how that works? Don’t want to feel talked down to, don’t do it to others. Now, I have just re-read my own post and there is nothing patronizing in it. Some tongue-in-cheek, but no patronizing. That is your own defensiveness. Some experienced, self-described “expert” people often feel slighted when their ideas are challenged even if there is no intent to slight them. This seems to be the case here. I experienced the same thing in Detroit when I suggested what our reality is wrt climate and rapidity of change. I also pointed out that the conditions never having existed before, the responses would also have to be different. That is, that activism could not and would not succeed based on the same models of the last 60 years.

    I was told I was being disrespectful – for speaking of my now-proven analysis. You need to understand that the differences in our outlooks are directly tied to what we have each educated ourselves about, and from your statements, suggested solutions and extent to which you think change can or cannot happen or should or should not happen, your analysis is deficient. It’s not an insult, it is an honest analysis.

    The key difference is that you do not seem to have apprised yourself of some of the knowledge bases that I have (permaculture design, particularly), so your analysis is, from my perspective, incorrect. And, obviously so.

    It seems our disagreement is about what we need to give up. I think we’ll need to give up very little, though some things will be expensive or otherwise limited.

    And the key to this can only lie in the failure to properly apply the exponential function to an equalized lifestyle for 9 billion people combined with a still-inadequate acceptance of the degree to which resources are limited, and/or failing to extrapolate on long enough time lines. And that is usually girded with, “Someone will come up with something.” This is a proxy for tech will save us.

    Air travel comes to mind. Other than that, efficiency can make renewables work.

    Nothing works that is not literally sustainable, and that means literally able to keep being done till the sun swallows us. That is your metric, not sustainable “enough” or sustainable for a while, but literally sustainable till the Earth is uninhabitable.

    Does this preclude the continued advancement of science, tech and innovation? Of course not! But good risk assessment is not based on non-existent solutions. It is based solely on what can be done now. The exception is when solutions for a problem literally do not exist. That is not the case here. Solutions for consumption and climate changes exist right now, and are all simple, doable, and can be made, implemented and successful in short enough time frames to not only adapt to our Perfect Storm, but mitigate it and return the planet to very close not only pre-industrial, but pre-agricultural health and balance. Less local tipping points and extinctions, of course. And assuming systemic, irreversible tipping points have not been crossed.

    The true differences between us is I have studied sustainable – actually regenerative – design, specifically, and I accept the absolute nature of the limits we face. I do not attempt to negotiate with them or brush them off or minimize them because one of the principles of regenerative design is to let the space – in this case the planetary ecosystem – show you what *can* be done rather than mistakenly attempting to impose solutions on it. Imposed solutions inherently ignore the design limitations of the space.

    Your 10-20% is probably a bit low; I’d say more like 30%.

    Until the numbers are literally run, we won’t know. How much GHGs are we going to cause to happen just by being 9 billion people, let alone semi-industrial? I just don’t see it. The saving grace is what we can sequester with natural methods. But that doesn’t get us past sustainability issues…

    I see no reason we can’t drop our homes’ and cars’ energy use by 75%. The USA is at 31% non-carbon electricity

    You are still negotiating. (Which stage of grief is that? I should know… former Psych major…) We have virtually no non-carbon electricity, we have only low-carbon electricity. You absolutely must accept that “renewables” and dams are in no way sustainable at present. Do you have any idea of the embedded energy in building dams? Surely you must, and this energy must be included in the analysis because the dames will need to be maintained and rebuilt at some point. The massive generators alone! And concrete is massively GHG unfriendly, though new concretes have been/are being developed.

    so we’ve already got nearly all the electricity we’ll need, even if substantial numbers of cars go electric (as opposed to bio-diesel or ethanol).

    The resources in cars is unsustainable, and certainly cannot be supported forever for 9 billion. Forget cars. It’s localization and mass transit or bust. Bicycles?

    http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3

    And then there’s our Phosphorus Problem. Wiki says Peak Phosphorus is expected to happen in 2030. Won’t farming be fun?

    Regenerative farming/gardening solves this problem and leaves the phosphorus for other problems that will/may need solving in some distant future.

  15. 15
    patrick says:

    @8 On the blah take James Hansen’s approach–as in his talk at the Ames Research Center, seen at minute 19:35 and at minute 30:32 in this video:

    http://climatestate.com/2013/05/23/james-hansen-explains-climate-change-and-solution/

  16. 16
    David B. Benson says:

    Mal Adapted @ May 551 — Thank you.

  17. 17
    sidd says:

    2 nice papers at cryosphere discuss

    Haberman et al. on bed of Jacoshawn

    http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/7/2153/2013/tcd-7-2153-2013.pdf

    Legchenko at al on MRI for a glacier. Loops of wire, proton Larmor frequency in Earth field, nice pics of the evolution of water filled cavity, check it out

    http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/7/2119/2013/tcd-7-2119-2013.pdf

    sidd

  18. 18
    jyyh says:

    Re: Fermi Paradox, not sure, but would O2 and Ozone be any good on detecting life? I guess ozone is too little in amount to be detected, but can there be free oxygen in atmosphere without life, wouldn’t it react to rock and carbonaceous meteors over time and produce granites and CO2?

  19. 19
    Bill Woolverton says:

    Re #8 Brett: I think you have to look at how sustainable food production is given water use and soil depletion, especially given the impact of climate change on agriculture. New York City definitely doesn’t produce much if any of its own food, but there is some potential for increased urban agriculture.

  20. 20
    Walter Pearce says:

    Jim Larsen@3: According to the link I posted earlier, the vast majority of nitrogen and phosphorous is in urine. The site claims one persone produces enough phosphorous to produce a year’s worth of food for that person. (Also, 8 pounds of nitrogen annually.) Seems like a relatively simple way to drastically cut fossil fuel-based fertilizers.

  21. 21
    walter crain says:

    MARodger,
    thanks to the detailed answer to my question about the current state of climate forcings on the other thread.

    David,
    thank you too for answering.

  22. 22
    Killian says:

    5 Arun says: As a vegetarian, I would retain flush toilets and ban meat!

    How nice of you to impose your will on the rest of us!

    ;)

    Fact is, most people aren’t vegetarians. Also, sustainable ecosystems need animals for a billion different things they do. Getting rid of them and/or using them mostly for compost – which takes quite a while and is pretty messy – and clothes really makes no sense when they are such an integral part of natural processes.

    This is why we do not impose design and follow Nature’s lead: WE *always* muck it up when we don’t. If you use animals properly, they will build great resilience into your systems, provide food directly and indirectly, provide labor, clothing, shelter, tools, etc., and actually help sequester carbon by helping to balance ecosystems.

  23. 23
    Killian says:

    6 Steve says: I have been wonder about and searching for information regarding a sustainable life style. I’ve heard estimates that the world can only sustain about between around three million and a half million humans. I don’t know what the truth is, but can it sustain 7 million?

    Too broad a question. First, we are currently headed for between 9 and 10 billion, so that’s the range to consider. Food-wise, using regenerative methods, yes, and pretty easily. There are no FF inputs needed and there is plenty of space. However, what we eat and in what seasons will change. Who grows it will change because regenerative food production is most effectively achieved at small scales as it allows for 1. local control of the food supply; 2. closely coordinated growing plans; 3. localized production which avoids long-distance transport; 4. inputs to local economy; 5. symbiotic community relationships via trade and sharing; 5. regeneration of local ecology; 6. food safety and on and on.

    Part two: if I wanted to adopt a sustainable life style, for the sake of personal responsibility, what would it look like? I live in a metropolitan area of over 5 million people. Is that sustainable?

    Do cities, themselves, have raw materials? Supply their own food? Nope. Sustainable? Nope. Cities must be thought of as part of the greater bio-region they are part of. Because much of what happens in cities is abstract behaviors done to support abstract structures, cities won’t have nearly as much to do in a sustainable, simplified future. They will, therefore, depopulate to some degree or other. There will always be some need for larger scale manufacture, most likely, and trade hubs, etc., so cities will always exist, but not to the extent they do today.

    Detroit is the only city I know of that could potential provide all its own food. Perhaps after city populations have dropped significantly as people move to locations where they can be part of creating a small, local economy in a community that is largely self-reliant, there will be enough space for cities to produce significant amounts of food. But we do not need everyone to be a farmer, though I think almost every household should greow atleast some food for a variety of reasons.

    One person can grow enough for fruits, veggies, eggs, maybe some milk on an acre or two fairly easily. A family can live on 5 acres handily, complete with hooved animals, some agro-forestry, etc., and produce more than they need and provide for quite a few others.

    What your resilient city would look like very much depends on that city, it’s location, it’s bio-region, how big it is, how much open space there is, the water supply, surrounding food production potential, what the bio-region might need from a city and vice-versa…

    Sustainability is ultimately local.

  24. 24
    SecularAnimist says:

    Bill Woolverton wrote: “New York City definitely doesn’t produce much if any of its own food, but there is some potential for increased urban agriculture.”

    There is huge potential for increased urban agriculture.

    The Urban Design Lab at Columbia University’s Earth Institute published a 2012 report entitled “The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City: Growing Capacity, Food Security & Green Infrastructure” (PDF).

    Key findings include:

    There is a substantial amount of land potentially available for urban agriculture in NYC

    Intensive growing methods adapted to urban spaces can result in yields per acre which greatly exceed those of conventional production techniques

    While urban agriculture cannot supply the entire city with all of its food needs, in certain neighborhoods it can significantly contribute to food security

    NYC’s rooftops are a vast, underused resource that could be transformed for food production

    Urban farmers are establishing viable businesses by taking advantage of multiple revenue streams

    Urban agriculture functions as a catalyst for larger food system transformations

    I would add that there is even greater potential for suburban agriculture. Not long ago, most American cities were surrounded by “green belts” that produced much of that city’s food supply. Of course, those highly productive agricultural belts have been overrun with suburban sprawl.

    However, there is still a vast amount of land within most American suburbs that could grow lots of food, with less expense, effort and material inputs than suburbanites now devote to purely decorative lawns and shrubberies. During WWII, Victory Gardens provided as much as two thirds of all the produce consumed in America. We could easily do that again, with great benefits to both the environment and to human health.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Meow says:

    Meow, isn’t CO2 concentration an agent of potential life forms? Why only look for radio signals?

    I assume you’re asking whether the presence of CO2 in an exoplanet’s atmosphere indicates the presence of life. The answer is “only weakly”. CO2 is produced by geological as well as biological processes. Heck, Venus’s atmosphere has > 90 bar of CO2. Other gases (e.g., O2) are better (but still imperfect) indicators of biological processes, but some aren’t as easy to detect as CO2 because they’re less radiatively active (again e.g. O2). There was a paper on detecting biogenic gases on exoplanets in the last few issues of Science.

    But I’m pretty sure we’ll always be able to detect radio transmissions (if any) from exocivilizations much more readily than to determine the presence of biogenic gases (if any) in exoplanets’ atmospheres. For one thing, we can detect radio signals without respect to the plane of the planet’s orbit about its star, without respect to the planet’s orbital period, and even without knowing with precision where the planet is. These factors can make observation of an exoplanet’s atmosphere difficult (long orbital period), really really difficult (plane of exoplanet orbit perpendicular to line from earth to exostar), or impossible (we don’t know where the planet is or it’s hidden behind something that’s opaque to IR and/or visible light).

  27. 27
    Meow says:

    @18:

    Re: Fermi Paradox, not sure, but would O2 and Ozone be any good on detecting life? I guess ozone is too little in amount to be detected, but can there be free oxygen in atmosphere without life, wouldn’t it react to rock and carbonaceous meteors over time and produce granites and CO2?

    I understand that a dead planet that originally had lots of water, but limited oxygen sinks, could show lots of O2/O3 at an advanced age due to photodissociation of H20 and consequent H2 loss to space. A planet might have limited oxygen sinks due to limited or nonexistent tectonics or volcanism: if there’s no new reducing surface being made, there’s nothing for the oxygen to react with.

    I’m sure Raypierre would have lots to say about this topic (and much more likely to be correct than what I’m saying).

  28. 28
    Martin Smith says:

    Tamino is conspicuous by his absence. Is all well at Tamino house?

  29. 29
    Russell says:

    Politicians on both sides of the aisle seem anxious to bury the money quote from Hansen’s marvelously ornery Rindenhour prize speech .

  30. 30
    Chris Colose says:

    Oxygen and Ozone collectively would be a very good biosignature. CO2 isn’t a very good signature on its own. Sara Seager at MIT has some of the better literature on this subject, including some stuff in google books if you look hard enough. If you looked at Earth as an exoplanet from afar, oxygen would be our most robust biosignature. Both are spectrally detectable, and at least for oxygen, would not be present in our atmosphere at any appreciable amount without biology. There are some false positive cases, such as if you happen to monitor a planet during a runaway greenhouse phase, when hydrogen and oxygen are separating, but this would apply primarily to planets within the inner edge of the habitable zone.

    So far, however, there’s only a few spectra taken from exoplanets and those are from big hot Jupiter planets.

  31. 31
    perwis says:

    Why not discuss climate science more than extraterrestrial life this month?

    Like, for example, “When will the summer Arctic be nearly sea ice free?” by Overland and Wang in GRL 2013:

    “Three recent approaches to predictions in the scientific literature are as follows: (1) extrapolation of sea ice volume data, (2) assuming several more rapid loss events such as 2007 and 2012, and (3) climate model projections. Time horizons for a nearly sea ice-free summer for these three approaches are roughly 2020 or earlier, 2030 ± 10 years, and 2040 or later. ”

    I am interested in hearing thoughts on the implications of a drastic reduced Arctic ice-extent.

    For example, are the climate models up to the task of modelling the feedbacks and potential tipping points in the Arctic (Lenton 2012 “Arctic Climate Tipping Points” in Ambio)?

    Or the recently observed effects on the jet stream? (Francis & Vavarus 2012 “Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes” GRL)

  32. 32
    David B. Benson says:

    Martin Smith @28 — I gather he is completely busy defending his rural township from the possibility of a road and dilbit pipeline.

  33. 33
    patrick says:

    @29 Your double link to a complete distraction is a complete distraction.

  34. 34
    Jim Larsen says:

    14 Killian said, “But good risk assessment is not based on non-existent solutions. It is based solely on what can be done now.”

    You’ve said some outrageous things, but that one is just plain wrong. Risk assessment MUST include technology’s trajectory. Tech improves while resources decline. All we have to do is find a soft landing point in 100 years or so.

  35. 35
    Corey Barcus says:

    It seems to me that the central problem we face is how to produce clean energy at a low cost. In general, I do not think renewable sources are sustainable at the global scale, and they are not competitive with the cost and convenience of fossil fuels. Yet, we must imagine a situation where we can take care of 10 billion people by 2050, or else face sliding into one of those cynical ideologies that highlight tragedy in history.

    If it were feasible to build a low cost clean energy machine, I would think those aware of the seriousness of the situation would advocate sufficient R&D for such endeavors. In fact, I would think that it would be widely acknowledged to be a matter of national security.

    There really is no question whether molten salt reactors will scale, will be smaller for an equivalent capacity, or will be safer than current approaches. What prevents this technology from moving forward is a lack of focus on lowering the cost of clean energy, and political confusion. Completely understandable considering the complexity of the problem we face.

  36. 36
    MalcolmT says:

    Useful article by Eric Alterman, “Blame News for Public’s Ignorance About Climate” Most of us here knew Fox is a problem but it’s nice to have numbers and pointers to studies – http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/05/31/blame_the_news_for_the_publics_ignorance_about_climate_118638.html

  37. 37
    Tony Weddle says:

    What do the climate scientists think of Lu’s theory that it’s CFCs, not CO2 that has caused warming and is why the earth is now cooling (apparently) due to reduction in CFCs?

    http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0217979213500732

    An article about it has Lu claiming that there is zero correlation between warming and CO2, which immediately dumps his theory into the trash can, as far as I’m concerned (irrespective of the other problems with it) but it would be interesting to read the climate science take on it.

  38. 38
    patrick says:

    Like it or not, re: lots of things.

    “…researchers here cook up their own dirty air in a greenhouse…

    “…if you cook it in the sun for a day, it becomes anything from five to 12 times more toxic…

    “Unfortunately, health officials don’t take that sort of synergy into account. …they assume a particle is a particle is a particle.

    “If you don’t do this kind of chemistry, you miss what’s really going on in the atmosphere…”

    “…this research is challenging the conventional wisdom about particles and health. It’s not simply how much of the stuff
    you breathe in that counts. …

    “The effects depend on what happened to that particle while it was circulating in the sunny air. …

    “The advantage of using a biological sensor is it says ‘I’m being harmed…’ …it makes you do the work and do a better job of figuring out what’s going on.”

    http://www.npr.org/2013/05/31/186236508/gizmo-uses-lung-cells-to-sniff-out-health-hazards-in-urban-air

  39. 39
    Killian says:

    34 Jim Larsen says: 14 Killian said, “But good risk assessment is not based on non-existent solutions. It is based solely on what can be done now.”

    You’ve said some outrageous things, but that one is just plain wrong. Risk assessment MUST include technology’s trajectory.

    Design doesn’t, and risk assessment might note it, but does not *depend* on it – and anyone that does is not understanding the process of designing future resilience. I don’t bother with risk assessment for future scenarios outside of design. When the tech exists, THEN it gets included. Anything else is just foolish and blatantly illogical. Risk assessment is anything but magical thinking, and assuming tech is going to come that will not add to complexity, will create new and dangerous problems, can overcome its own diminishing returns and will save you, and designing accordingly, is a behavior I would call, no hyperbole, insanity.

    Tech improves while resources decline.

    Says who? Then where are the Maya, the Anasazi? The Greenland Norse? The Roman Empire? Angkor Wat? And even when it does it fails to keep up with diminishing returns. Have you seriously not read Limits to Growth, Catton, Diamond and Tainter?

    All we have to do is find a soft landing point in 100 years or so.

    Incorrect: we have to create one by designing it, and resource analysis does *not* include what does not exist.

    **Please** take a permaculture course. I’m currently available.

  40. 40
    prokaryotes says:

    Tony Weddle, here is a recent post —

    A (new) paper by Qing-Bin Lu in the International Journal of Modern Physics B is gaining attention for asserting that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), not CO2, is causing global warming. This sensationalist headline is typically repeated with little mention that Lu’s claims are not new, and they have not held up to scientific scrutiny in the past.
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/02/2089121/qing-bin-lu-revives-long-debunked-claims-about-cosmic-rays-and-cfcs/

  41. 41
    Tony Weddle says:

    Thanks to prokaryotes for that link regarding the Lu paper. It kind of says what I thought but it (and the newspaper article it links to) doesn’t have much depth. It confirms my thoughts but I’m hoping for a more thorough debunking, rather than having a climate scientist “doubt it will stand up to scrutiny”.

    Is the journal which published the work reputable? Does it have a robust peer review mechanism (not that that guarantees anything, of course)?

  42. 42
    pete says:

    I just read similar headlines re the Lu paper in The Australian newspaper and so came here looking for the reaction. Guess I have to wait a little while. (and I’ve no idea why this comments box is all in French (I think!)??? Not at all surprised the Australian would jump at the chance for these sorts of headlines though.

  43. 43
    Brennan says:

    Tony Weddle. It would be hard to attribute global cooling to CFCs since global cooling is not happening.

  44. 44
    Radge Havers says:

    Re: Lu

    From Gavin’s response to a bore holed comment:

    “… you could read the responses the last two times Lu has proposed the same exact thing. – gavin]”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/12/ozone-holes-and-cosmic-rays/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/lu-from-interesting-but-incorrect-to-just-wrong/

    Lather rinse repeat

  45. 45
    SecularAnimist says:

    Corey Barcus wrote: “I do not think renewable sources are sustainable at the global scale, and they are not competitive with the cost and convenience of fossil fuels.”

    Fortunately, both of those assertions are false.

    The world’s harvestable solar and wind energy resources vastly exceed all of humanity’s energy use. In the USA, for example, solar power stations on just five percent of the USA’s deserts could generate more electricity than the entire country uses; the same is true of the wind energy resources of just four midwestern states. And those represent just a fraction of the USA’s enormous solar and wind energy resources.

    And electricity from solar and wind is already competitive with fossil fuel generated electricity in many places, and the costs of solar and wind continue to plummet while the cost of fossil fueled electricity continues to rise. Even without subsidies and without a price on carbon pollution, solar and wind generated electricity will soon be cheaper than fossil fueled electricity pretty much everywhere.

  46. 46
    Killian says:

    “The world’s harvestable solar and wind energy resources vastly exceed all of humanity’s energy use. In the USA, for example, solar power stations on just five percent of the USA’s deserts could generate more electricity than the entire country uses; the same is true of the wind energy resources of just four midwestern states. And those represent just a fraction of the USA’s enormous solar and wind energy resources.”

    This does not describe sustainability, it describes efficiency and availability of the primary source.

    “And electricity from solar and wind is already competitive with fossil fuel generated electricity in many places, and the costs of solar and wind continue to plummet while the cost of fossil fueled electricity continues to rise. Even without subsidies and without a price on carbon pollution, solar and wind generated electricity will soon be cheaper than fossil fueled electricity pretty much everywhere.”

    Particularly if we account the negative impacts. Properly priced for the degradation, cots of climate change, etc., FF’s would be prohibitively expensive, I should think.

  47. 47
    SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote: “This does not describe sustainability …”

    Of course not. As I have noted in previous posts, some day the wind will stop blowing and the sun will stop shining. And eventually, the entire universe will expire into entropic heat death. Nothing is sustainable.

  48. 48
    Peter says:

    Re: From Gavin’s response to a bore holed comment:

    “… you could read the responses the last two times Lu has proposed the same exact thing. – gavin]”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/12/ozone-holes-and-cosmic-rays/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/lu-from-interesting-but-incorrect-to-just-wrong/

    It seems that Lu’s prediction of a maximum 2008 Antarctic ozone loss (averaged over the hole period) was proven [Q-B Lu, Physical Review Letters 102, 118501(2009; Phys. Rep. (2010); IJMPB (2013)], and Muller and Grooss have agreed that the data in their PRL (2009) and Atmos. Environ. (2011) papers had problems [Grooss and Muller, AE 68, 350(2013)]: “The months for which the data were shown were not correctly indicated… The data do not cover this complete latitude range especially they do not extend to the South Pole”. Lu did discuss this in his IJMPB paper (p6-7).

    What is Gavin’s unbiased response? This would be interesting.

    [Response: Why? Grooß and Muller corrected the labeling of one figure, but nothing that affects their demonstration that Lu is wrong. The point they show is that if there was CR mediated destruction of CFCs in the polar vortex you would see changes in the ratio of CFCs to other long-lived gases. And you don't. Combine that with the pretzel like logic that Lu uses in his post hoc fit of the temperature, an apparently complete absence of any mechanism that makes CFCs super greenhouse molecules while zeroing out the effect of CO2 - a result arrived at without actually doing any radiative transfer modelling at all - and you really don't have anything much to talk about. Let's turn it around, why of all the papers you have read do you think this is credible? - gavin]

  49. 49
    flxible says:

    “Nothing is sustainable.”

    Particularly the population of the species in question. This nattering about ‘sustainability’ is getting tiresome, the only pressing sustainability problem humans face is over-population, and Killian is experiencing first hand the results of the ‘population collapse’ that eventually will occur in every major metropolis. Maybe when he fixes Detroit we can consider his theories further, meanwhile please stop feeding the troll.

  50. 50
    wili says:

    “NOAA has done their weekly update, the week off May 26 is officially over 400 ppm. 400.03 to be precise.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html

    (Thanks to Tanada at POForums for catching this.)


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