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Unforced Variations: Jan 2014

Filed under: — group @ 2 January 2014

First open thread of the new year. A time for ‘best of’s of climate science last year and previews for the this year perhaps? We will have an assessment of the updates to annual indices and model/data comparisons later in the month.

662 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Jan 2014”

  1. 101
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mal Adapted,
    My objection to the posts by Diogenes and Tom stems from their certainty that the game is over. It isn’t. I’m more than willing to stipulate that if current trends persist and if there is no technological breakthrough, then things look grim. Even then, though, there is a huge difference between 4 degrees of warming and 6 degrees–and the latter is possible if sensitivity is >3 degrees per doubling and we burn all the fossil fuel reserves known today (or the equivalent). Hell, we could even do worse if we started spewing a long-lived powerful ghg with the right IR absorption characteristics.

    I have no objection to conditional statements. My objection is to projecting current trends and realities indefinitely into the future as a prediction of the future. It is pointless to predict the future. We do not know what technological breakthroughs we will see. We could be on the verge of a clean energy revolution. We could be on the verge of a carbon capture technology that actually works. We could be on the verge of pulling our collective heads out of our collective posteriors. We could develop such technology and still fall short of deploying it in time because people lost hope and didn’t take the steps necessary to buy time needed for that deployment. WE DO NOT KNOW.

    So, while I fully acknowledge that we are in kimchi and that things do not look good, I will not foreclose on the futures of generations yet unborn by pretending that I have certainty where I have none. Humans don’t do well without hope. Foreclosing on such hope is bound to worsen the future of our progeny.

  2. 102
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Tony Weddle, Diogenes, and others to some extent (Kevin you can do better) have not been getting your Daily Romm.

    As Joe Romm has said years ago, the key step in energy is Deploy Deploy Deploy. Get on with deploying available technology right now, and put some resources into it. Where may all the joules come from? It would require some 12-14 of Princeton’s “stabilization wedges”…. Mark Z. Jacobson has a detailed plan. (This is not the link to his details though.)

    Skeptical Science has several good articles under the climate myth heading “It’s Too Hard” to deal with. Here is another.

    I do not think Ray is a “techno-optimist” saying wait for the Great Breakthrough. I think he favors deployment right now.

    Some of you would never have put a man on the moon nor won WWII.

    “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
    Europe Abandoning Hydrocarbons: Closing 30% of Gas, Coal Plants in Favor of Green Energy, Scotland is trying to go all green within a few years, but we in the Land of the Free are intimidated from doing what we know we should.

  3. 103
    Hank Roberts says:

    > future reality better … than our present

    If you care about the future, then the present can be improved on — to make the trends level off and stop making things worse

    If all you care about is personal comfort, the present is as good as it’s likely to get, because it’s bought by burning up the future.

  4. 104
    prokaryotes says:

    Eric, i don’t argue against your conclusion, rather try to provide additional information. Here is another recent article from the Washington Post,

    Arctic warming, jet stream coupling may mean another winter of extreme storms and cold air outbreaks for eastern U.S.

    Investigation of differences between northern hemisphere winters from 2001-2013 and 1998-2000 leaves little doubt that a large and consequential trend has occurred in the configuration of the polar jet stream which is linked directly to pronounced warming in high northern latitudes. Moreover, the overall trend has remained largely unbroken and appears to have accelerated in the last six winters.
    The coupling between Arctic warming and polar jet is oft referred to as arctic amplification. It features a likely, but not yet definitively proven, link to the apparent increase in extreme, high impact winter weather events occurring over varying regions in mid-to-high latitudes in the northern hemisphere.
    It’s critical to note that the seasonal averages examined reflect the net effects of considerable variability of weather systems and processes. As shown below, the single most prominent signal in the means (averages) to emerge from this variability during the 2000s is one closely resembling the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (hereafter referred to as -NAO). It is well known that periods of -NAO are favorable for major winter storms affecting the mid-high latitudes from eastern North America though western Europe. Preceding and/or accompanying such storms are surges of anomalous cold penetrating further south over eastern U.S. than nominally expected.
    It may seem reasonable to believe the odds favor the continuation of this multi-year trend through this winter (and perhaps winters following). However, given limited understanding of factors contributing to arctic amplification, especially as manifest in the predominance of –NAO discussed here, there is no certainty that will be the case.URL

  5. 105

    #102–Largely agreed, Pete!

    Things are probably going to be bad. But there is a big difference between bad and worse.

    A while back I had an interchange with Tony on a somewhat related topic. I brought up the example of South Africa, mentioning that it ‘turned out much better’ than anyone could have imagined; Tony responded questioning whether it had turned out all that well.

    Well, it wasn’t great in many ways; South Africa’s economy has been pretty stagnant, eroding its formerly unassailable position as the most economically and technologically sophisticated country on the continent; the devastating effects of the AIDS epidemic decimated a generation, with the worst effects disproportionately concentrated upon the best-educated, and seriously exacerbated by governmental denialism; poverty and crime remain terrible social problems; and in some ways political extremism seems to be growing.

    Pretty bad, huh?

    Yep. But the thing was, the only ‘rational’ expectation anyone could really entertain ca. 1970 was that there would at some point be an apocalyptic race war which would rival the worst extremes of the 20th-century beastliness.

    Bad and worse.

    And maybe some of the same factors are at play: certainly, the tactics of ‘divestment’ and stockholder activism are parallels. If the widespread abhorrence of apartheid that held during the 80s–Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were still more concerned that the ANC might be communist–could be replicated today with respect to the climate change issue, then we’d probably be making better progress than we have so far been doing. But that could change, and it could potentially change with surprising speed.

    Yeah, it’s going to be bad. But there’s still time to avoid worse.

  6. 106
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Kevin O., did you miss the memo?

    Normal humans do not want to ruin the planet. The relatived cost of energy now only favors carbon by a little, and only that because of massive subsudies as I have indicated in an earlier comment.

    Shift the subsidies to new infrastructure (think jobs, lots of jobs.) There is a lot of work to be done and there are a lot of people looking for work. How convenient is that?

    Some people here also need a course in positive thinking ;)

  7. 107
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Washington Post
    Yeah, I just asked at Tamino’s about that same WaPo Weather Blog article, yesterday — because the author on that page wrote:

    The 12-year periods examined here are notably short of the 30 years nominally (arbitrarily?) regarded as minimal to warrant being considered climate

    which is blockheaded enough to make me doubt anything else he writes is understood.
    Grumbine: You need 20-30 years of data to define a climate trend in global mean.

    But the WaPo article isn’t about global means, it’s about Washington weather. So he could figure that out and tell us ….

  8. 108
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Anticipating the next objections, recall Transient Sensitivity. It is much less than the other flavors, which take much longer to achieve. So it CO2 goes up to a level with frightening ESS but then comes down quickly we will not reach ESS and probably not even Charney S.

    Once subsidies are shifted and the New Energy Jobs Boom happens, people will notice that Solar panels (perhaps graphene by then) can go anywhere. On all roofs and over all big shopping plaza parking lots for instance. How long will it be until we are looking for new uses for all the energy?

  9. 109
    Mal Adapted says:

    Ray, Pete: I think the technical problems of AGW are already solved. It’s the political problem I don’t see a way around. In that arena, the “we” that accept the science and the need for rapid decarbonization are up against the “we” that stand to lose wealth and power by it. The political balance is lopsided in their favor. The question is, What.Is.To.Be.Done about it? That may be off-topic at RC, but does anyone here doubt that it’s the hard problem?

  10. 110
    ozajh says:

    Kevin #91,

    I probably phrased my earlier post badly, because you’re actually making my point for me here. The 10% difference between your two scenarios is IMHO a minor increment; the problem is the 5000, not the difference between 6250 and 6900.

    However, I fully agree with your argument if we get to the point where the 5000 MJ in fuel load vanishes or massively reduces. Say solar cell and battery technology reaches the point where a suburban rooftop can economically capture and store enough energy during the day to recharge an EV overnight. Then engineering for durability could make a BIG difference in lifetime energy usage.

    One of the head engineers at Porsche once stated that they could design their cars to ROUTINELY run for 30 years with normal maintenance, barring accidents. I think he said it would add about 40% to the manufacturing cost of the major components (which would of course be a smaller proportion of the sale price), and there would be some weight penalty.

  11. 111
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Mal, The ASBs will win a few more battles but lose the war. Recall that Scotland is already going green, and as I linked above Europe is reducing carbon dependence quite a bit. Now recall my link from Forbes: Three Reasons Why Global Fossil-Fuel Subsidies Will Not Last A Generation. Read it.

    Note that reduced demand for carbon energy is (per my links) happening even faster than the writer indicates. Note that there is a war move in the US Congress to undermine the President’s diplomacy with Iran. This increases investor concern with unstable supply chains and subsidy providers’ concern with price volatility.

    As new money shifts to clean energy, a tipping point may occur.

  12. 112
    Kevin O'Neill says:

    Pete D.

    I live in a country that elected Reagan twice. Bush elder once. Bush junior twice. I also live in the district represented by Paul Ryan with Scott Walker as Governor.

    There is very little you can say to make me optimistic :)

    Seriously, I see no political chance that Republicans will suddenly become sane.

  13. 113

    #110–Well, if you are saying that the burning of fossil fuels is a big problem, then I certainly can’t disagree.

    But here’s the thing about the automotive case: it’s an energy hog in both of the ways we’ve been discussing, which rather blurs the question. For most of our ‘stuff’–plastic gewgaws, clothing, tableware, garden ornaments, lots of artwork, etc.–that’s not the case. For them, it’s *all* embodied energy. And it seems rather perverse to be wasting that energy at such a rapid clip.

    For me, the context was the whole economy. What I suspect is that a very helpful way to help reduce energy consumption and therefore emissions would be to drastically reduce the use of disposable and quasi-disposable products. But, as I keep wondering, what would it take (if the premise is true) to make that happen?

    Family silverware and grandparent’s watches used to be quasi-permanent possessions–but the whole idea has become a strange one for us today, I think. Our culture has really shifted around material possessions and what we expect of them, or so it seems to me. What sort of shift would be helpful in creating a ZEG (zero energy growth) world? And how to facilitate it?

    Take your Porsche–what would make a ’30-year Porsche’ desirable to more folks? (Yeah, we don’t really want to prolong the life of gasburners, but I’m ignoring that part for the moment.) And what about that 40% ‘durability penalty?’ How typical is that in the case of consumer goods in general, and to what extent does the incentive to go cheap shape the present reality?

  14. 114
    patrick says:

    Best four-minute climate science communication of 2014:

    A good lead. Something to emulate. Thank you, Dr. Michael E. Mann.

    Many happy returns.

  15. 115
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Oh Kevin O., that’s awful! [edit – way over the line. Not funny]

    For the rest of us, let’s cheer up with some Mark Z. Jacobson material. Start here: Scroll down to
    What does a climate scientist drive? A cherry red Tesla Roadster of course. “…the power does come from rooftop solar” says Jacobson. Doubtless Mike and Gavin each have one but raypierre still wins.

    Jacobson talks ev’s on cleantechnica.

    Jacobson on Letterman: this will make your day.

  16. 116
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Jacobson on Letterman: it’s even better with the link.

  17. 117
    Hank Roberts says:

    > engineering for durability

    Or, engineering for component swaps and for recycling in a way that doesn’t involve big crushing machines and large numbers of poor people wading through trash piles pulling out bits.

    I’d go for something like that now, except for knowing several people killed by fools driving big SUVs.

    Get me one with effective shortrange automatic perimeter defense ….

  18. 118
    Tony Weddle says:


    However, the one thing we can say with certainty is that the future will be different from the present. The choice we face is whether we make that future reality better or worse than our present reality. If you lack the vision to make it better then step aside and let those that do possess such vision take the lead.

    It depends on what you consider “better” and what you consider “worse”. If you want unfettered global trade and global travel, for example, the future will be worse. If you want an economy which can grow, perhaps raising all boats (as some people think), then the future will be worse. Almost everything we do today is unsustainable (i.e. can’t be sustained indefinitely), so you or your descendants will be disappointed by the future. If, by better, you want a reasonably comfortable and satisfying existence for yourself and your descendents, then that kind of future may be possible. If you think that a smooth transition from this future to a better (however you want to define that) future, then I’d suggest that you might be using wishful thinking.

    As others have, effectively, said avoiding serious consequences of our profligate lifestyles, is almost certainly now impossible. That isn’t closing the door on a better future but, it seems to me, more likely to be a grim future if we fail to be realists.

    The exponential use of fossil fuels has enabled us to believe that unsustainable ways can be continued for ever. Even if renewables could be built, operated and maintained with renewables (a very doubtful supposition) and even if our current lifestyles (and remember increasing numbers of people are aspiring to “western” lifestyles) could be supported by those renewables (another doubtful supposition), there are so many other aspects of those lifestyles which degrade the environment that the notion of an improved version of what currently exists is surely wishful thinking. It would be better if the wishful thinkers stepped aside rather than the realists.

  19. 119
    Eric Swanson says:

    For the record, I’m still enjoying being on the warm side of the cold front. The temperature this afternoon (Sunday) hit 52F, then dropped to 40F after dark. Then, the temperature started climbing again and was at 48F by midnight. Funny thing, it’s still getting warmer, hitting 49F by 12:45 AM. All that warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico is being pushed over us, keeping things warm while the temperature to the west is quite cold. I expect Winter will return by Tuesday morning. Of course, the denialist media are trumpeting the very cold air flowing southward from Canada, ignoring the other side of the circulation loop. The last time a cold blast similar to this hit around here was 1996 and we know how that year turned out…

  20. 120
    Edward Greisch says:

    91 Kevin McKinney: The customer always wins dollars by buying more durability if the deal is fair and he keeps the car until it is worn out. But durability looses the stoplight drags. So the law needs to end the stoplight drags by limiting the horsepower. No consumer vehicle should have more than 150 horsepower. Perhaps robot drivers would help end driver stupidity.

    I DO NOT WANT TO TRADE CARS OFTEN. I’M NOT THAT RICH!!!!! Trading often is just plain stupid unless you have more money than you know what to do with. I am into keeping one car for 40 years, but it is OK to own several if your mission changes. Kevin McKinney sounds like Nixon. Slice it this way: Nixonomics [voodoo economics] is not affordable for most people. Nixon gave voodoo a bad name. Your scenarios are crazy. You could lighten the cars while extending durability. Just make the engines iron and the bodies aluminum.

    Transportation in total is not the biggest driver of CO2. Electricity generation is. It is nonsense to care about transportation until you have zeroed the CO2 production from electricity generation and heavy industry.

    113 Kevin McKinney: Again, everybody must be numerate. The customer is clueless when it comes to durability. There is no way to tell. Read my book: “How to Tell Which New Car Will Last Longer.” Not to advertise, and I already spilled the beans, but the legal system would have to change before consumer goods in general could become more durable. Right now, a manufacturer would get in trouble for telling you the design life. Most people don’t even know what “design life” means.

  21. 121
    Edward Greisch says:

    Penn State’s FREE 8 week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled “Energy, the Environment, and Our Future.”

    Will this course require the students to solve problems like Open Climate Science 101 with professor David Archer or will it be strictly innumerate like the University of Melbourne’s Coursera course entitled “Climate Change?” From what I see, it will be more like the Melbourne course.

    In the University of Melbourne climate science course, each student evaluated the papers of 3 other students. The 3 students whose papers I evaluated thought that Global Warming [GW] is a liberal cause. That is why this course should be abandoned as worthless. GW is clearly NOT a political cause of any kind. This course has failed utterly. The humanities and fine arts students have no idea what science is and they have no idea what the word “truth” means.

    Student discussion forums are worse than useless.

    I sincerely hope that there are homeworks that require the students to solve problems. Without problems, student discussion forums are advertising contests

  22. 122
    Edward Greisch says:

    It happened again on 3 January. People don’t care about GW as long as it means polar ice is melting or somebody somewhere else is going to get flooded. If you want to get past “Who Cares?” you are going to have to mention food.

  23. 123
    DIOGENES says:

    Pete Dunkelberg #102,

    “Some of you would never have put a man on the moon nor won WWII.”

    Well, both those efforts involved very detailed planning, where the consequences of the actions were predicted fairly accurately (with the appropriate dose of uncertainty mixed in). I don’t see General Marshall or Dr. von Braun running around shouting Deploy, Deploy, Deploy!

    What are you going to deploy, and what will be the consequences? What will it take to achieve Hansen’s 1.1 C target? What will it take to achieve Anderson’s 2 C target? In fact, what will it take to achieve the 4 C target that Pete Best mentions; some scientists worry that may slip out of reach if we are not careful.

    I certainly recognize that there are off-the-shelf energy efficiency improvement technologies whose deployment would probably be necessary in any scenario. After that, the optimal mix of demand reduction, rapid renewables introduction, rapid nuclear introduction, reforestation, other carbon capture, geoengineering, etc, is by no means clear. Given the dogmatism with which each of these options appears to be supported, we will probably have to compromise and use some of each, thereby moving us further from the optimum, and further from temperatures that we would be better off avoiding.

  24. 124
    Fred Magyar says:

    Pete Dunkelberg @ 106

    “some people here also need a course in positive thinking ;)

    Shift the subsidies to new infrastructure (think jobs, lots of jobs.) There is a lot of work to be done and there are a lot of people looking for work. How convenient is that? ”

    It say it’s not convenient at all!

    RSA Animate – Smile or Die

    Sorry Pete, I’m a realist and think we have a much greater dilemma at hand other than getting more jobs or staying positive… the problem is continued growth on a finite planet.
    Climate change is just the tiny tip of that particular melting iceberg!

    Growth Has an Expiration Date

    BTW, 4 billion years ago cyanobacteria weren’t planning on ruining the planet either!
    Furthermore, I have yet to see any indication the humans are any smarter than yeast!

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function! Dr. Albert Barlett.

    Oh yeah, Happy New Year!

  25. 125
  26. 126
    DIOGENES says:

    Fred Magyar #124,

    “Sorry Pete, I’m a realist and think we have a much greater dilemma at hand other than getting more jobs or staying positive… the problem is continued growth on a finite planet.
    Climate change is just the tiny tip of that particular melting iceberg!”

    You are 100% correct, from a conceptual perspective. However, I have resigned myself to the belief that the only acceptable climate protection solutions to the mass of people across the globe will involve two main components: more jobs for the proles; more profits for the investors. Large cuts in growth/demand will not produce these results. Anderson flatly states that we can’t get to 2 C from the supply side, and I have yet to see his computations/conclusions refuted. So, we will need to judiciously select those supply side technologies that minimize the damage, but keep people employed and investors happy at the same time. Maybe the large dose of reforesting that Hansen recommends will also help minimize the damage, and keep people employed at the same time. I have no idea how realistic the reforesting assumption is; there was a reason those forests were destroyed, and reversal may not be so simple.

  27. 127
    wili says:

    New (to me) video interview with Anderson:

    Some choice quotes: “60 -80% reduction in about ten years…very large emissions reductions every year: 8, 9, 10 %, or preferably even higher every single year from the wealthier parts of the world…”

    Since constructing a full carbon-free supply of energy will take at least three to four decades, and since we need to reduce carbon emissions much earlier than we can build that capacity:

    “…the only way to do that is actually to reduce our energy demand…we’ve left it so late now that we have to dramatically reduce emissions in the very short term, which supply options can’t deliver and therefore we have to look at what we can do to radically reduce energy demand…”

    “Silence is an advocacy for the status quo.”

  28. 128
    DIOGENES says:

    Wili #127,

    How do you reconcile the conclusions I reach in #126 with the conclusions you quote in #127?

  29. 129
    SecularAnimist says:

    Kevin O’Neill wrote: “Having a vision is great. Having one that’s realistic and accompanied by a plan that can be executed is even better.”

    There is no shortage of visions accompanied by realistic plans that COULD be executed to stop the growth of GHG emissions and begin steep reductions within 5 years, leading to near zero emissions in 10-20 years with most of the reductions occurring up front, followed by a draw-down of the existing anthropogenic excess of atmospheric GHGs towards pre-industrial levels in the second half of the 21st century.

    Unfortunately what CAN be done — what in my view can be VERY EASILY DONE, with enormously beneficial “side effects” for humanity in addition to addressing the GHG crisis — and what WILL be done, are two different questions.

    And what lies between them is basically the obstruction of the fossil fuel corporations.

  30. 130
    Hank Roberts says:

    is excellent. Though it worries me to see only two comments, one of them by a madman. Which is left as an exercise for the reader.

    Do watch that video, it’s:

    om Murphy: The Fossil Fuel Joyride Is Over
    04 min 28 sec

    Tom Murphy, associate physics professor at the University of California San Diego, projects energy needs in coming generations, and shows the cost of maintaining our current way of living. “The fossil fuel joyride that we have experienced has clouded our judgment,” says Murphy.

    And the answer to “DIOG…” is implicit therein, it’s Stein’s Law we’re acting out here, and in retrospect, we’ll know how we did that. (For values of ‘we’ equal to those living by that time, a century from now)

  31. 131
    DIOGENES says:

    Wili #127,

    Saw the Anderson clip you recommend. Seems no different from what he’s been saying for the last few years. In 2012, he emphasized that a 2 C target was too high by a factor of two (which is Hansen’s conclusion as well), yet in the clip his recommendations are for achieving a 2 C target. He doesn’t add any caveats about how safe or unsafe this target is, as he did in his 2012 papers/presentations. Does making recommendations for a target he believes is fundamentally unsafe make sense to you?

  32. 132
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Tom Murphy
    actually watch the whole show, not just the little snippet; link for the full presentation is on that page. This may be workable:

    Watch Full Program

  33. 133
    Hank Roberts says:

    Incidentally, the Tom Murphy video starts with basic thermodynamics, pointing out that he’s talking just about waste heat from energy production at the rate our economy has been growing. Not about global warming/climate change from CO2.

    Purely based on the rate of growth of energy use, Earth reaches the boiling point of water in less than 500 years if we go on as we are now.

    That, by the way, is the tipping point for a Venus runaway — when the oceans boil off, the hydrogen gets blown away from the top of the atmosphere, as it’s so light, leaving the oxygen to react.

    Duh, people. We should be smart enough to understand this.

    Watch the video. “The fossil fuel joyride has clouded our judgment.”

  34. 134
    wili says:

    Diogenes @ #128: I have no good idea, but I am personally much much less concerned about keeping ‘investors’ (gamblers, banksters…) happy than keeping folks employed (who want to be). As you mention, there is much work to be done. Money can apparently be created at will by governments. Rather than using it to keep ‘investors’ happy or to float fraudulent, world-economic-system-distroying banks, why not use it to keep workers’ bodies and souls together to do the things that need doing:

    Planting, insulating, innovating, educating, healing…

    What we _cannot_ and _must not_ continue doing is buying a lot of crap that we immediately throw away, flying, most other long-distance travel, most driving, most meat and dairy eating…(add your own favorites here).

    (reCaptch suggests: technoos Jefferson!)

  35. 135
    Fred Magyar says:

    DIOGENES @ 126
    “So, we will need to judiciously select those supply side technologies that minimize the damage, but keep people employed and investors happy at the same time. Maybe the large dose of reforesting that Hansen recommends will also help minimize the damage, and keep people employed at the same time. I have no idea how realistic the reforesting assumption is; there was a reason those forests were destroyed, and reversal may not be so simple.”

    Ok, I’m going to backtrack just a hair and admit that I actually have a modicum of hope left that we can reverse the growth paradigm. I also believe that to accomplish that we need to keep people employed and investors happy at least for the short term.

    Case in point:

    I just took an 8 month sabbatical in Brazil and while working on a few projects of my own I met a Brazilian agronomist who has a business in Sao Paulo called ‘Bambu Carbono Zero’ I’m going to guess that a translation isn’t necessary. He markets bamboo products. However he is also working on a project together with the Brazilian government and is trying to get permission to plant bamboo along train tracks all over Brazil. Bamboo is a very fast growing plant and a really good carbon sink. IMHO and that of others as well, it is a no brainer as a choice for reforestation of degraded or otherwise not generally usable land for other agricultural purposes.

    Personally I’m putting together bamboo frame bicycles and have been road testing my first prototype in Florida where I live. I have another two frames on order…

    Yeah, I’d love to see thousands of people employed in the planting and harvesting of bamboo and then also employed in the making of bamboo products.

    But realistically how many people are going to give up their cars and ride one of my bamboo bikes to the supermarket to buy groceries? Probably not too many!

    I also sell photovoltaic systems, and while people are starting to adopt this technology we still have a hell of a long way to go before people enough people start doing these things to really make a difference.

    So while I still get up every day and keep trying to do what I can to make a difference it still feels like trying to drain the ocean with an eyedropper…

  36. 136
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Limits to growth? If we work to redo our energy system this will require many jobs for a few decades. The limit to growth will postponed. If we reach the point of having enough electricity we will notice that we could keep going and getting even more….

    I am not saying there is no limit at all, but I don’t think that is what is keeping us from changing out energy infrastructure.

  37. 137
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    RC editor @ 115, RC has been working so well for so long that my Bayesian prior insists that RC is right, so all I can say is “Keep up the good work.”

    But I want to assure Kevin O. that I have nice friendly intentions and did not mean anything mean.

  38. 138
    catman306 says:

    When the Polar Vortex returns to a more usual location, it will probably be warmer than it was before its journey. Will this be an unexpected effect of our changed climate?

  39. 139
    Eric Swanson says:

    DIOGENES #128 – Economics may be defined as the process we use to convert the existing world into something which we imagine is better or more desirable. At the foundation of that process is the energy and the materials which we extract from our surroundings. Much of that processing simply can not work without a large input of energy, which has led to our massive use of fossil carbon as an energy source. The minerals we exploit are being depleted as well and it isn’t at all clear to me that humanity can continue to operate our economic system at today’s level of throughput using renewable energy sources.

    In the private sector, a job of necessity the result of a person doing some function which produces a profit for the employer. The individual then spends their income buying some fraction of the total production of everyone else, thus, the more jobs, the more consumption. Providing employment for everybody will only result in the continued destruction of the natural ecosystems on which humanity is still very dependent, even though most of us fail to recognize our dependence. Even the workers in the so-called service industries will consume the payments they receive and many service industries are utterly dependent on a functioning transportation system to provide their services. Less consumption implies less demand for productive workers, which then brings up the basic question: “What are the workers to do at their jobs as the demand for their production is diminished?”.

    Humanity can’t have our (ecosystem) cake and eat it too, as the old saying goes. Growth is the problem, not the solution. Our most accomplished economists don’t appear to understand this:

  40. 140
    patrick says:

    @119 It’s still not too late to run the last five days of the Animation of Data Analyses (‘Jet Stream Maps’), without digging individual frames out of the archive later, at (California Weather Service):

    Things I never knew about the GFS (Global Forecast System):
    It has been really informative, as always, to view these animations during a widely mentioned extreme weather event.

    NOVA Online graphics, not too hot, not too cold, on the jet(s):

  41. 141
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Edward Greisch @ 122
    > If you want to get past “Who Cares?” you are going to have to mention food.

    Bingo! Or at least that is my greatest concern for the coming decades. Food production may be hit hard by both drought and floods in different places. It only takes one bad year.

  42. 142
    Curious says:

    Apologies if this question has been addressed already – I’m not sure what text to search for, to find it – but what’s a good metric for northern hemisphere jet stream “stickiness”, and is it as sticky so far this 2013-14 fall & winter, as it has been for the previous few years?

  43. 143
    patrick says:

    @121 If you’ve got Richard Alley, flaunt him, I say.

    The more face/facebook time the world gets with him, the better the place it will be.

    But I am not dismissing your concerns.

  44. 144
    wili says:

    “Global Warming Not Primary Cause Of Svalbard-Area Methane Release”

    The Svalbard stuff always struck me as too deep to be likely the result of GW.

    But then, of course: “’As a powerful greenhouse gas methane represents a particular risk for our climate. A release of large amounts of the gas would further accelerate global warming,’ Berndt said.”

    (reCaptcha says: and solo y mi?)

  45. 145

    #120–Ed, you are clearly not reading my posts. They are NOT ‘about’ transportation; they are asking “What does would it take to turn this society away from a disposable mentality?”

    ALL our goods embody considerable energy; therefore, we could save considerable amounts of energy (and thus emissions) by slowing the throughput rate of material goods. (Cars, diamond rings, sound systems, pet accessories, whatever.)

    Now, there’s a reason that manufacturers want that rate high, of course; and I’m well aware that orthodox economics would view a slowdown of the incessant economic ‘churn’ of consumer goods with alarm: “recession” would be the result in the short term, they would tell us (and they’d be right, practically by definition). But one is still permitted to ask whether the life we live is the life we want to be living, and whether we like the probable cost.

    I’m also quite curious, Ed, why you characterize ‘my’ scenarios as ‘crazy.’ Simplistic? Of course. But the mileage numbers were real ones, the energy density number was real, and the ratio of embodied energy to mileage came from previous discussion without being labeled ‘crazy.’ All else was arithmetic.

    Please feel free to make your criticism more explicit and therefore possibly more helpful. “Crazy’ sounds a bit, well, crazy, and tells me nothing.

  46. 146
    Hank Roberts says:

    Calling out bunk:

    Folks such as and the rogue group at Accuweather are not only undermining their reputations but are diminishing the credibility of the weather forecasting profession.

    Is providing forecasts you know to be inaccurate any different than selling magical elixirs that you know can’t provide the promised cures? I will let you decide.

    Posted by Cliff Mass

    Meteorological Snake Oil Salesman: Ultra-Long Daily Forecasts

  47. 147
  48. 148
    Tietjan Berelul says:

    I am a regular visitor of I am skeptic, but I wish’s authors and visitors all the best for 2014 ! In 2014 I hope to read me articles from Gavin, I enjoy reading his posts.

  49. 149
    prokaryotes says:

    Dr. Overland said the changes to the polar vortex had become more common in the past five years, leading to suggestions by him and others that climate change in general, and the decline in Arctic sea ice in particular, may play a role. But most researchers say there is not enough data to conclude that anything other than normal climate variability is involved. NYT

    The last part by the NYT is grossly misleading. Only because we have a lot of uncertainty doesn’t mean we can’t draw conclusion on observations. Basically effects on the atmosphere, the oscillations and evaporation/transpiration are supposed to happen when the sea ice goes. We just can’t say that this will be a long term trend, yet. The point here is that we produced a large pronounced feedback with albedo loss.
    Everybody is aware of implications to various degree and we are now finding out how far reaching the changes really are. At the same time we need to look at the big picture and compare the anomalous frequency of these events, which were only rare in the past.

  50. 150
    Hank Roberts says:

    Masato, Giacomo, Brian J. Hoskins, Tim Woollings, 2013:
    Winter and Summer Northern Hemisphere Blocking in CMIP5 Models.
    J. Climate, 26, 7044–7059.