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Unforced variations: Mar 2014

Filed under: — group @ 3 March 2014

This month’s open thread.

679 Responses to “Unforced variations: Mar 2014”

  1. 251
    Hank Roberts says:

    Among Americans ages 18 to 29, Gallup found that 78 percent thought the effects of global warming were already occurring or would occur during their lifetime. Just 47 percent of seniors (those 65 and over) said the same. Gallup officials say their poll’s results could explain why Americans don’t politically prioritize environmental issues; instead, their top concerns are issues that will affect them immediately, like the economy and health care.

    “Whatever the reasons, those who argue climate change is the top problem of our age are no doubt aghast that even now, in 2014, Americans are not more worried or concerned than they are. A lot of the efforts to raise concern levels and awareness to date have obviously not worked well. It may be that new tactics are needed. So far, however, even if it is a case of whistling past the graveyard, Americans are clearly more focused on other issues.”

  2. 252
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Phil L — 14 Mar 2014 @ 10:44 PM, ~#242

    Phil, I don’t disagree with the IPCC and I have not been saying that no forests should be cut, just stating the realities of forest carbon sequestration. Any time that fossil carbon burning is displaced by biomass for energy production there is net reduction in atmospheric CO2 because the biomass is a part of the short carbon cycle where regrowth reabsorbs the CO2 on the basis of a few years, while fossil CO2 is added for hundreds of years and longer.

    When the IPCC piece mentions “mitigation options by the forestry sector” they are discussing practices that the wood products industry have been and will continue to resist because they reduce short term profits. For example, there is a myth that cutting trees for lumber sequesters carbon. It is untrue because half of a tree is wasted and releases its CO2 in less than 10 years and the lumber is gone in much less than 100 years.

    Further mitigation practices involve what Hank Roberts and Goober have mentioned. If you don’t promote a healthy forest ecosystem (yes this includes natural fires) then soil degradation can result in a switch from forest to, for example, savanna or oak grassland which retain less carbon. Goobers comment is so obvious that I am amazed at some of the schemes I have heard regarding carbon sequestration. One really dumb example is growing artificial forests in a watered desert and burying the logs to sequester carbon. Anyone with a passing acquaintance with farming or even a backyard garden would know that you can’t grow a crop over and over again without putting something back in the soil. Currently, much of what is put back into the soil is made from natural gas which results in large releases of fossil CO2.


  3. 253
    wili says:

    I would propose that we ban/borehole discussions of space travel as solutions to destroying the earth, just as we have done so with discussions of nuclear power. It is really a waste of everyone’s precious time.

    But while we’re on the subject, besides the unfeasiblities already mentioned, please note two things:

    >>Blasting people and equipment into space itself creates GHG’s which we don’t need any more of in the atmosphere and uses scarcer and scarcer energy resources–such should be mostly restricted to vital research and communications satellites, if that.

    >>Even if we imagine that there was another pristine planet within relatively easy reach of earth (which of course there isn’t), do we really deserve such, having despoiled the one precious Earth that we actually had? If a kid kills his pet newt, does he deserve to be given a new pet pony?

  4. 254

    Diogenes, I wasn’t suggesting we could/should transport 10 billion people. Far from it – just enough so that all our eggs aren’t in one basket. As you point out, there are issues even with the 2 degree variance limit, and it looks like we’re headed for 4 degrees, which I think will indeed mean every increasing likelihood that this process will continue regardless of what we do with emissions, and also an increasing likelihood that none of humanity will survive the outcome. I think the Arctic is the bell weather of this process, going from a stable climate system to an unstable one. You are asking how we can put the genie back in the bottle and I’m in agreement with some of the posts you’ve made, that it may not be possible.

    Radge Havers, I fully accept that there may not be other planets that we could live on/in, but if we’re able to build a space ark of sorts, we could continue to live in it. Also, not only do I refuse to accept an either/or mentality (we could try politically to get all the nations in the world to work together to cut emissions, and we could try to preserve some portion of humanity in space, at the same time), I also feel that the research done could be complementary and applicable in many different scenarios. If we can learn to build self contained biospheres, then we could live underwater, on the surface, underground, in equatorial orbit (lower radiation), and so on. Basically we could live where we wanted provided the biosphere surface/shielding can withstand the external environment. And also we’d have learnt to coexist in such environments which will be instructional for the future so we don’t mess up again. These environments can be connected to form large structures if we choose to remain on this planet.

    No, I’m not shilling for self-contained biospheres (in some forums I see ads for these kinds of objects). It’s just a response to Diogenes’ very valid comments about the situation we’re in (and really the only solution to an apocalypse on this planet, what else could you do?). Like I said earlier, the problem is that the lag between emissions and effect is so long, that it occupies half an average lifespan, and people dismiss it or aren’t worried about it since they are more worried about immediate survival. Humanity evolutionarily might not be capable of dealing with this problem effectively. However, our pioneering/explorative spirit is one of our more “successful” traits. Modern humans have generally not learnt to coexist with their environments without destroying it entirely but we have been able to move to new environments quickly and take over. Just as capitalism is successful by exploiting human greed, the biosphere concept that can go anywhere exploits our traits for exploration.

    I think appropriate large scale geoengineering solutions are also possible, including, or as well as, creating a set of large mirrors facing the sun that blanket the earth and regulate the temperature/climate system (in effect creating a biosphere that envelopes the planet, which could also provide power). By large, I mean really really really large, enough to account for the albedo loss from diminished Arctic ice. Unlike the smaller biosphere concept, this would require huge problems to be solved in both technological and political realms (i.e., requires multiple natures, cultures, societies to cooperate).

    A political issue with the smaller biosphere idea is that if a truly self-contained one can be built, then no one in it needs anyone else, and this takes away power from centralised authorities, which may be resisted by some. Besides issues like radiation, gravity, energy requirements, you’d also have to worry about inbreeding, and have access to a large enough population to keep the species going. It’s obviously nontrivial, but I really don’t see what else can be done given our addiction to fossil fuels.

  5. 255

    wili, I’d have no problem if someone said the solution had to be limited to staying within the planet – I still think the self-contained biosphere idea is viable beyond space travel applications. I didn’t realise nuclear power in its entirety was banned from discussion but if you think about how nuclear submarines work, I’d say they’ve found a reasonably successful solution to living in an environment that one day may be where we end up. These biospheres, which otherwise could be nuclear powered, could be constructed around the region of the methane hydrates and sediments could use methane as a power source also, and as I said before, could be interconnected as needed to form large structures.

    Yes, almost anything we do technologically these days will result in the use of fossil fuels. I don’t see a way out of this: we’re already going to do it anyway, i.e., burn enough fossil fuels to exceed the 2 degree limit, and within a few decades, to the 4 degree limit.

    And yeah, I’m saying we should move most of humanity into little boxes to adapt to instability we create in the climate system. I don’t know what other viable solution is there in response to diogenes’ posts. And I think this is slightly easier than getting all the politicians in the world to agree on curtailing greenhouse gas emissions to a point where we don’t create instability in the global climate system.

    Re: space travel, a lot of smart and well intentioned people are in favour of it. It doesn’t mean they’re right, but I do think it shouldn’t be dismissed offhand. I also see it more as a hedge against some catastrophic event that occurs on the planet to ensure the survival of the human species, not to move everyone currently on earth there.

  6. 256

    wili, also your argument about what we deserve is not very relevant either. We could ask the same question of this planet: do we really deserve to live in it and continue the propagation of our species considering how much we’ve messed it up for all the other organisms? Until we came along, the climate system on the earth has been managing on its own without our interference. By discussing solutions to preserve humanity on this planet, I believe we implicitly have agreed the answer is “yes”.

  7. 257
    Hank Roberts says:

    from Slashdot

    NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

    A new study (PDF) sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that ‘the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.’ Cases of severe civilizational disruption due to ‘precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.’ They say, ‘Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.’ After running simulations on the survivability of various types of civilizations, the researchers found that for the type most resembling ours, ‘collapse is difficult to avoid.'”

  8. 258
    numerobis says:

    Hank @251: I don’t see how it is so surprising that the youth would expect effects of global warming to appear “during their lifetime” whereas the old wouldn’t. The youth have 80 years to go; the old have 20. I could easily see gramps answering a poll saying that they don’t expect “effects” (by which they mean Florida and Bangladesh going underwater) even if they were fully aware of the more modest changes that have taken place so far.

  9. 259
    Patrick Flege says:

    # 257 Hank Roberts

    Interesting for sure, but don’t overestimate the use of this model. It consists of four(!!!) equations (elites, commeners, natural resources, and wealth), and does (imho) represent an interesting exercise. Way too simplistic to deserve the hype that has been done about it, however. I once did a simple excel-based model on substance flows in agriculture as an academic exercise. It consisted of dozens of interdependent equations with dozens of input variables (most of the equations were developed by other researchers), and still was not able to capture more than a highly abstraced image of reality, so simplified as to be not really useful.

    Of course, the quality of the model is much higher than the stuff I did, but a model which uses 4 equations to capture all the complexities and dynamics of the real world should not be overestimated.

  10. 260
    Hank Roberts says:

    (ps, the Slashdot link refers to a Guardian article by Hafeez Ayeed, who also featured the scary AMEG stuff a while back; I’d welcome pointrs to other commenters about this NASA study)

  11. 261
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ram, I prefer my solutions not to violate more than one basic law of physics at a time.

  12. 262
    flxible says:

    “Any time that fossil carbon burning is displaced by biomass for energy production there is net reduction in atmospheric CO2 because the biomass is a part of the short carbon cycle where regrowth reabsorbs the CO2 on the basis of a few years, while fossil CO2 is added for hundreds of years and longer.”

    Providing the harvested biomass is replaced by an equal amount of regrowth “in a few years”, which in today’s forestry practices it is not – and of course, if the biomass hadn’t been burned the fossil carbon could have been what was absorbed by the growth. There’s not a “better” way to generate atmospheric CO2.

  13. 263
    Walter says:

    235 DIOGENES, a copy of the Steinacher paper published in Nature is available here

    fwiw I have edited/updated my BAU page fwiw

    some words of wisdom from Dr James Hansen Feb 2014 – regarding Nuclear power and ‘merchants of doubt’ — eg “Climate scientists have long warned of potential catastrophic effects of unchecked fossil fuel use. ” Hansen

    Avoidance of a mature, science based, nuclear energy discussion usually comes back to cognitive dissonance alone, and from that comes a lack of rational cognitive thinking as well as a lack of courtesy to others and much ‘hand waving’. Hansen is now making a personal effort to change this by setting a new example others could follow.

  14. 264
    Phil L says:

    #243 Hank Roberts, #244 Goober, #252 Steve Fish, #262 flxible: There seems to be some confusion about what sustainable forest management is. Here in Canada’s boreal forest, stands managed on a rotation of 80 or 90 years accumulate a lot of organic matter in the soil. The portion of the stem removed is a very small fraction of the carbon produced by the stand since the last disturbance. I think that Chapter 9 of the IPCC AR4 WG3 report, which I linked to in #242 above, does a good job of explaining forests and climate change mitigation. They used peer-reviewed science to draw their conclusions. Perhaps Hank is correct and that body of forest science has been overturned since 2007. We’ll see what the IPCC AR5 WG3 report due in April 2014 will say. Meanwhile, this short video by Dr. Werner Kurz of the Canadian Forest Service (one of the authors of the IPCC AR4 WG3 report) seems to indicate that he hasn’t changed his mind since 2007.

  15. 265

    Welcome back to commenting, Furry Cat Herder! Haven’t heard from you for a while. I like your comment that:

    “…a lot of things that reduce carbon emissions are now cost-savers. We need to get that message out.”

    As SA says, it’s very strange, but there is more resistance to this notion than one would expect. (Perhaps some folks develop an emotional attachment to the idea of the apocalypse (whether capitalized or not.))

    Yet it is a good starting point for the sort of plan we need, which is a communications/education plan. As an online writer, I have a certain vantage point on that: I’ve published 92 articles, with 41 of them focussing on climate change. Those articles also account for all the oldest articles (and therefore the ones with the most ‘opportunities’ to accumulate views.)

    Music ‘how-tos’ account for 16 articles, and about 12,000 page views.

    The ‘how to’ articles number just 10, and account for over 78,000 page views–damn near half of my page view total.

    So–‘how to save money by embracing solar energy’ would clearly be a very salable article. Currently, I acquiring the wherewithal to write that first-person (which is pretty much the only way I know how to do it.) But you, Furry, may (like Steve Fish, and probably some others on this forum, too) already be there. Have you considered writing up your experiences in order to help ‘get the message out?’ If not, I’d gladly welcome any info you have to share with me offline, for my eventual work on the topic!

    (And on a technical note, I’ve had the same issue with the Captcha box going away as you did, and worked around it the same way you did. It seems to have cleared up since I updated my Safari, though.)

  16. 266
    SRJ says:

    I have a question about the forcings in the IPCC table of forcing found here:

    I want to find the net anthro forcing from 1980 to 2011. In the bottom of the table the net forcing from:
    1750-2011 is given as 2.29
    1750-1980 is given as 1.25

    So can I calculate the forcing from 1980-2011 as the difference between these two, giving 1.04?

    [All units are of course W/m^2]

  17. 267
    wili says:

    Is there going to be a post on Gavin’s (and friends’) recent excellent article on updates to effects of aerosol’s and other forcings? “Reconciling warming trends”

  18. 268
    wili says:

    Oops, I see the Schmidt article is covered in the “pause” thread. I should learn not to post before my first cup of coffee.

  19. 269
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by flxible — 15 Mar 2014 @ 6:05 PM, ~#262

    What I have been griping about is bad forestry practices and the imperative to allow forests to grow and mature as much as possible, but your further comment- “if the biomass hadn’t been burned the fossil carbon could have been what was absorbed by the growth. There’s not a ‘better’ way to generate atmospheric CO2” – is confusing. You seem to be saying that we humans should not be using any wood, fiber, or food products from plants because we need them to absorb fossil CO2.

    To put a sharper point on this, if I grow a potato plant every year, using homemade fertilizers, and eat the resulting potatoes and burn them with my metabolism to release CO2, how much atmospheric CO2 accumulates from this practice? None, right? Isn’t this a better way to generate atmospheric CO2? I am a responsible manager of my own little forest and use it, instead of gas, or oil, or coal to heat my house and domestic hot water and think this is a much better way to generate atmospheric CO2. Please clarify.


  20. 270
    Hank Roberts says:

    SRJ, look again at the link I posted and read the abstract:

    Montane forest root growth and soil organic layer depth as potential factors stabilizing Cenozoic global change (pages 983–990)
    Christopher E. Doughty, Lyla L. Taylor, Cecile A. J. Girardin, Yadvinder Malhi and David J. Beerling

    Article first published online: 6 FEB 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/2013GL058737

    This site tries to promote a discussions of climate science, not a debate.

    No single new study is going to “overthrow” what’s in the last IPCC report or change any prominent individual’s worldview.

    That’s about the Cenozoic.

    Relevance to current events is something to talk about, not fight over.

    The idea is to inform.

  21. 271
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dang, the blog software again has converted a link to an outside source into a circular link to this topic. Let me try that again.

    Well, this gets you to it indirectly]

  22. 272
    DIOGENES says:

    Kevin McKinney #265,

    “…a lot of things that reduce carbon emissions are now cost-savers. We need to get that message out.”…’s very strange, but there is more resistance to this notion than one would expect…..Perhaps some folks develop an emotional attachment to the idea of the apocalypse”

    If we want to avoid the Apocalypse, the message we need to get out is the following: 1) we are out of carbon budget, and into carbon debt; 2) we need to eliminate all non-essential uses of fossil energy, and make the essential uses more efficient. Period.

    The components are not equal; the dominant term by far is elimination of all non-essential uses of fossil energy, which includes trimming the fat off the essential uses (e.g., lowering thermostats in Winter, raising them in Summer). In the two proxy plans posted by our resident ‘sock-puppet’, the Spross plan and the Ceres Clean Trillion plan, I showed in detail that each will provide ~1% reduction in CO2 emissions per year over decades. To avoid the Apocalypse, we need reductions at least an order of magnitude higher. So, play all the word games that you want, the numbers tell the whole story. If all these papers on climate change you are publishing emphasize only the minor term in the equation, and ignore the major term, you are doing no more to ameliorate the worst of climate change than the Koch Bros. or Sen. Inhofe!

  23. 273
    flxible says:

    Phil@264, The govt figures don’t paint as rosy a picture of the sustainability of Canadian forests, nor does observation of the practices here in “beautiful British Columbia”. While I support responsible harvesting, slash and burn forestry isn’t doing it, replanting isn’t anywhere near keeping up, and pulp and paper aren’t the ideal end products.

  24. 274
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter #263,

    “Avoidance of a mature, science based, nuclear energy discussion usually comes back to cognitive dissonance alone, and from that comes a lack of rational cognitive thinking as well as a lack of courtesy to others and much ‘hand waving’. Hansen is now making a personal effort to change this by setting a new example others could follow.”

    What the renewables types on this blog want is unchallenged unpaid advertising. Comparison with nuclear brings out many of the weaknesses with renewables. Both approaches have strong points and weak points, and if we are going to allow unpaid advertising for one, we need to allow it for both for fairness, including comparisons.

    However, changing the supply side from high carbon to low carbon technology, while important, is the minor part of what’s needed if we want to avoid the Apocalypse. We need to eliminate all non-essential uses of fossil energy, and make the essential uses more efficient, which includes trimming the fat off the essential uses (e.g., lowering thermostats in Winter, raising them in Summer). This elimination is the dominant part of the equation, BY FAR. The Koch Bros., Rex Tillerson, and Sen. Inhofe don’t want to do this elimination, and the Type 2 deniers on this blog don’t want to do this elimination. Both will take us to the same Apocalyptic end point, albeit at slightly different speeds.

  25. 275
    DIOGENES says:

    Ram #254,

    “Diogenes, I wasn’t suggesting we could/should transport 10 billion people. Far from it – just enough so that all our eggs aren’t in one basket.”

    OK. Now I see where you’re headed. You are proposing some interim adaptation schemes for where we are headed on anything close to BAU. I say interim, since it’s hard to see how truly long-term survival would be possible in these options you’ve mentioned. So, maybe we place a few thousand in orbit; how many generations could they last under those conditions, and what kinds of mutations would we get after decades in those radiation environments? And, what is the quality of life under such conditions?

    I haven’t really been focused on these types of adaptation; I’ve been focused on the issue of what it would take to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the impending climate Apocalypse. I believe I’ve identified it with my plan. The next step is to identify a plan that’s salable that provides most of the benefits of my plan. So far, I haven’t even come close. The proxy plans posted on this blog that I’ve analyzed in some detail, such as the Spross plan and the Ceres Clean Trillion plan, aren’t even in the ballpark of what we need. As I have shown, their focus on altering the supply side, and some energy efficiency technology introduction, provides emissions reductions slightly over 1% per year for decades. To avoid the climate Apocalypse, we need emissions reductions over an order of magnitude greater, and my plan provides those. I focus on the major terms in the equation; the proponents of these plans ignore the major terms, and concentrate on the minor terms.

  26. 276
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote: “What the renewables types on this blog want is unchallenged unpaid advertising.”

    Just one more of the childish insults that comprise much of the verbal diarrhea with which you’ve been flooding this site for months.

  27. 277
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts linked (#257): “NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization”

    It is interesting to compare and contrast that study with the Club Of Rome’s 1972 “Limits To Growth”, and the 1992 sequel by Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, and Jørgen Randers, “Beyond The Limits”.

    Based on a quick perusal of the PDF of the new study, it seems quite a lot simpler and less sophisticated, though it also seems to point in much the same direction. Pretty much all such studies do.

  28. 278

    Diogenes, I believe we’re going to suffer a huge drop in the quality of life before it gets better. Lots of people will die as the system corrects to adjust for overpopulation. The next 100 years or so I feel will be very telling for humanity. But there are at least two issues: 1. survival of humanity as a species (especially the traits that make us distinctly “human”); 2. having a good quality of life. The carbon budgets and debts are different for the two. I think we’ve already exceeded the budget and are in the red for (2) but not for (1). I think if we can get 10,000 humans to survive and preserve our intelligence (the neocortex), we’re okay. The other stuff is part of evolution.

    I think you’re right about needing reductions in emissions greater than what’s needed by plans that sugarcoat the situation. I think such cuts are difficult to achieve due to a lack of political will, not for any other reason. It require cooperation by varied cultures, societies, political systems. China and US have to cooperate with the Indian subcontinent and Europe, which have to cooperate with the Middle East, Russia, and South America to achieve drastic emissions cuts (elimination of all nonessential uses of fossil fuels).

    As people have stated, a case can be made that if humanity can’t keep this planet habitable for us, then our species doesn’t deserve to propagate. If that’s the case, then we can wait and see if the political stars align but I think it’s unlikely to happen. What I am saying assumes the minimum goal is (1).

    In other words, I personally believe that the chances of humanity building selfcontained biospheres and existing somewhere (on or off this planet) is slightly greater than the chances you’ll get the vast majority of the people in the world to agree to eliminate nonessential uses of fossil fuels before it’s too late. I think the odds are about the same but I lean towards tapping into our curiousity (to explore space, underwater, underground) rather than our foresight (decades ahead views).

  29. 279
    Hank Roberts says:

    If you address him, he is encouraged to reply.
    Just sayin’, choose who you want to hear more from.

    On forests, another very different area of the world shows similar behavior — question seems to remain unanswered is whether any extraction can be done without degrading the forest.

    A decade or two ago there was talk of removing individual trees straight up using helicopters or blimps; that seems not to have worked anywhere I can find, tho I hope some forestry science folks will comment.

  30. 280
    SecularAnimist says:

    Kevin McKinney wrote: “Perhaps some folks develop an emotional attachment to the idea of the apocalypse”

    At times it does seem that something like that is going around (the “12 Monkeys” syndrome).

    I speculate that some people are so uncomfortable with uncertainty, that they actually prefer the certainty of doom.

    And some people seem to want humanity to be punished — to feel it’s what we “deserve”.

    But I think the main driver of attacks on the potential of renewable energy and efficiency to both rapidly eliminate GHG emissions AND create sustainable, equitable prosperity, is the effort to drive that message out of the public discourse, and to drown it out with this one:

    “We do not see a viable pathway with any known technology today to achieve the 350 outcome that is not devastating to economies, societies and peoples’ health and well-being around the world.”
    Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, May 2013

    In the fossil fuel industry’s propaganda, attacks on renewable energy and efficiency have ALWAYS gone hand in hand with denial of the problem:

    Deny there is a problem, deny that there is a solution.

  31. 281
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Mar 2014 @ 1:00 PM, ~# 276

    No, no, you have Diogenes all wrong! He has explained in detail why “changing the supply side from high carbon to low carbon technology, while important, is the minor part of what’s needed if we want to avoid the Apocalypse.” He explains that it is demand that important, such as “lowering thermostats in Winter, raising them in Summer.” That is what is going to avoid the apocalypse. Damn, it is all just so simple. I think that Diogenes is really wasting his talent on this blog and should take his message over to Wally World (see Walter’s post ~#263) where posting his inspired commentary anonymously will be welcomed.

    (Please excuse the satire, but this was just too much temptation) Steve

  32. 282
    flxible says:

    Steve@269 – No, I’m saying the burning of wood to generate ‘energy’ in place of burning fossil carbon in various forms, is still generating CO2, the sum total of which is well in excess of the ‘natural’ carbon cycle. The only way to fit human activity to the natural carbon cycle is to stop purposely burning carbon, natural processes produce as much as they consume. I’m thinking the planets biomass isn’t likely to support 7 billion burning it in place of fossil fuels. Which is to say, the less of anything we burn, the closer we get to allowing the carbon cycle to balance. [I must say tho’ that I also burn wood for heat, primarily waste lumber]

  33. 283
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter #263,

    “fwiw I have edited/updated my BAU page fwiw”

    Excellent post. The bigger picture is becoming clear.

    Let’s define X as the total emissions reductions per year required to avoid the impending climate Apocalypse. Then, in the nearer-term critical years, about 95% of X has to come from behavior changes (eliminating non-essential fossil expenditures, trimming the fat from the essential), since only about 5% is projected to come from technology changes (substitute low-carbon for fossil sources, substitute high-efficiency for low-efficiency) in studies such as the Ceres Clean Trillion posted recently. Now, the Koch Bros/Inhofe reject the behavior changes responsible for the 95% and reject the technology changes responsible for the 5%, which will result essentially in zero total emissions reductions. The Windfall proponents on this blog also reject the behavior changes responsible for the 95%, and sound the trumpets for the technology changes responsible for the 5%, which will end up providing 5% of the total emissions reductions required. Thus, to first approximation, the Windfall proponents on this blog will lead us to the same end point as the Koch Bros/Inhofe et al, albeit slightly slower. Their emphasis on the 5% at the expense of the 95% is a bullet-proof plan for unmitigated disaster masquerading as concern.

    Unless the moderators have a counter-argument to what I have presented, it is a travesty to allow this misinformation/disinformation to be continually posted on such a critical issue. Would the moderators give a green light to a study whose equations neglected a term responsible for 95% of the impact while focusing on another term responsible for 5% of the impact? Why then do they allow posts that recommend ignoring a component responsible for 95% of the emissions reductions required to avoid the impending disaster?

  34. 284
    Phil L says:

    flxible #273, What concerns you about those numbers? The area re-planted is lower than the area harvested largely because many areas naturally regenerate (e.g. trembling aspen). I see numbers such as “Net accumulation in forest biomass and dead organic matter (CO2e/yr) (megatonnes) 154.0” for Canada’s managed forest, and unless I’m interpreting it wrongly, that doesn’t look bad.
    Keep in mind that the “deforestation” number isn’t from forest management, but from conversion of forest land to other land uses, such as housing developments.

  35. 285
    Phil L says:

    Hank Roberts # 279, I don’t have a lot of experience with forestry on steep slopes, in fact in my part of Canada we have relatively flat terrain and there are ground rules restricting timber harvest on steep slopes. In places like B.C. cable systems are often used.

  36. 286
    Phil L says:

    Hank Roberts # 279, The forestry I am familiar with is on relatively flat terrain, so erosion isn’t a big problem. Steep slopes are generally avoided. In places like B.C. I understand that cable systems are used.

  37. 287
    Thomas says:

    I’m convinced that non sugar coated solutions just won’t sell. I’m also convinced that as the quality and cost of renewables improves, that more and more people will come over to taking action. The cost of not being able to take the crash decarbonization path is that the 2C goal will be missed. But 3C is still better than 4,5,6 or more.

  38. 288
    Chris Crawford says:

    Can anybody tell me where I can find net error results for the ensemble of model outputs used in AR5? My eyeball tells me that the RMS error is very low, but I’d still like to see the numerical values of RMS error for temperature output versus observation for the last 100 years.

  39. 289
    flxible says:

    Hank, Helicopter logging is fairly common in BC [and most of Western N America], including some single stem operations for high value product, helicopters burn a LOT of fuel. This company near me on Vancouver Island is one I’m most familiar with.

    Phil, the numbers don’t compute, the forests are not being replaced at anywhere near the rate they’re being harvested, and, at least on the coast, ‘slash and burn’ is still practiced: limb the trees, burn the biomass[slash] piles left behind.

  40. 290
    SecularAnimist says:

    Regarding forests, here’s a useful resource:

    Global Forest Watch (GFW) is a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests. For the first time, Global Forest Watch unites satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to guarantee access to timely and reliable information about forests. GFW is free and follows an open data approach in putting decision-relevant information in the hands of governments, companies, NGOs, and the public.

    GFW is supported by a diverse partnership of organizations that contribute data, technical capabilities, funding, and expertise. The partnership is convened by the World Resources Institute.

  41. 291
    Walter says:

    282, 274 DIOGENES,

    What I am hearing Diogenes is that there is a Demand side and a Supply side in the Energy Equation. A pull and push dynamic scenario working together that has/is increasing Carbon emissions from 1% pa up to 3% pa globally now. It can end badly, or simply end.

    That’s the hard problem, and the current situation seems to be one where individuals are unable to, or are restricted from, making ‘better choices’ … However, it is also true that individual and collection action can and does point the needle to a reduction direction or the increasing direction.

    1) Any sustained actions over time that reduces ‘demand’ has a cumulative equivalent effect on the ‘supply’ of the equation.

    2) All Governments have the power and authority to implement laws and regulations that moderates human behavior in positive ways. That’s why we have Road Rules and vehicle Registration requirements for a ‘civilized world’.

    3) However, reality also constrains Governments. Tough regulation could put 20% of a nations fossil fuel power generators out of business very quickly if there was the will to do so. The constraint is, there is no Energy replacement or efficiency gain immediately to hand that can replace that 20%, or even 10%, or 5%.

    4) Everyone owns the air and so everyone has a basic human right to a say in how it’s being used. “Hoi, that’s MY atmosphere you’re polluting there buddy!”

    Private Profits and Individual Use is predicated upon the existing system of Socialized Costs being spread Globally and not being paid by those who actually benefited from the Energy Use.

    5) All climate scientists, scientists, and academics, plus all science and academic institutions have an influential role they can play in the field of political action, beyond merely crunching the numbers and spitting out the scientific facts.

    Meanwhile, all available science and data suggests the current medium term trajectory for Global Energy Use in the next 25 years remains Business As Usual. Yet, business as usual is not a rational option. Here we are, anyway.

    (long version )

  42. 292
    Tony Weddle says:

    I’m not sure if this has come up before but the oft-quoted 2C target, that is given in AR5 WG1 SPM, presumably is calculated based on some climate sensitivity (whether transient or equilibrium). I couldn’t see than in the SPM. Is that given somwhere in the full report (I couldn’t see it in the final draft and haven’t downloaded the published version). Even then, all of the ranges of allowed emissions to have a chance (between 33% and 66% chance) of staying under 2C include 0 as the lower end of the range (i.e. the summary is saying that it’s possible no more emissions are possible to have a chance – only a chance – of staying under 2C).

    But, as I was perusing this New Scientist article, I relised that the climate sensitivity is now thought likely to be at the high end of estimates. Wouldn’t this change the emissions budgets substantially (so that the lower end of the range is negative and the upper end much lower)? I realise that 2C is almost certainly far too high but, as it seems to be ingrained in all the reporting and in our leaders’ minds, shouldn’t the allowed budget be adjusted down?

  43. 293
    DIOGENES says:

    Ram #278,

    We seem to get two types of posts on the major climate blogs: chatter and what are essentially unpaid technology advertisements. The latter are cloaked in buzzwords like renewables and energy efficiency, and presented as solutions to ameliorate climate change. Since they neglect the major emissions reductions component of demand reduction, they are in effect plans for geocide.

    Both you and I have actually done something very different. I have proposed a plan that, if implemented, would have a reasonable chance of avoiding the impending climate Apocalypse. It is the only plan of this type on the climate blogs. You have looked at the other side of the spectrum, recognizing there is no will to ameliorate the impending disaster. I believe that, at this point in time, based on every shred of evidence I have seen, your assumption is correct. You have then asked the question: how could some small segment of our species survive and propagate into the future, either on this planet or some other (or perhaps inter-planetary). That’s actually an interesting question, although unbelievably difficult to answer. You are dealing more with the reality of our climate predicament than most of these Windfall proponents, who are promoting fiction for personal gain.

    I’m not optimistic that you will be successful in identifying cohesive solutions, but I think the quest is a useful exercise. The Windfall proponents, on the other hand, are cynically banking on fear and desperation to drive public acceptance of their non-solutions, in order to profit from this final affliction of humanity.

  44. 294

    #272–Diogenes, your posts seem to get nastier and nastier in tone.

    However, when you insist only a message that is ‘unsalable’–however correct–you are, as SA points out, insisting on continued inaction, whether that is your intent or not.

    On the other hand, to point out that there are useful actions to be undertaken now–and that they come, in many cases, with significant co-benefits, is something with ‘legs’–something with a reasonable chance of efficacy, not only in reaching the public, but in effecting real mitigative action over short timeframes.

    I expect you are right that that, by itself, will not be ‘enough’ to deal with the carbon problem. But it will put us in much better position to take whatever further steps we need to take. The ‘apocalypse’ has already come, after all, for those who’ve died already from climate-related events. (I make the number so far to be on the order of 100,000, with at least $100 billion US in losses, for what it’s worth.)

    So, by all means keep the doom-beat going, if it amuses you. But kindly spare us the insults.

  45. 295
    DIOGENES says:

    When Rex Tillerson makes the statement: “We do not see a viable pathway with any known technology today to achieve the 350 outcome that is not devastating to economies”, he is entirely correct. He’s not the only one coming to that conclusion. Kevin Anderson, Tim Garrett, myself, and many others who have examined the economic consequences of the severe fossil fuel usage reductions required to give us any chance of avoiding the impending climate Apocalypse all come to that conclusion, with perhaps somewhat different views of ‘devastating’. The Windfall proponents who post their unpaid advertisements on this blog offer the complete fiction that prosperity is possible under the severe economic contraction required. The only prosperity that will result is for the Windfall proponents and their front men!

  46. 296
    DIOGENES says:

    Thomas #285,

    “But 3C is still better than 4,5,6 or more.”

    That’s true, IF we are able to stabilize at 3 C. The question is whether the increasing carbon cycle feedbacks will allow us to stabilize at 3 C, and not go on autopilot to take us to 4, 5, 6 C and above. That’s a question that I’d like to avoid answering, if at all possible.

  47. 297
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Wyoming first state to block new science standards

    One of lawmakers’ big concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards is an expectation that students will understand humans have significantly altered the Earth’s biosphere. In other words, the standards say global warming is real.

    That’s a problem for some Wyoming lawmakers.

    “[The standards] handle global warming as settled science,” said Rep. Matt Teeters, a Republican from Lingle who was one of the footnote’s authors. “There’s all kind of social implications involved in that that I don’t think would be good for Wyoming.”

    Teeters said teaching global warming as fact would wreck Wyoming’s economy, as the state is the nation’s largest energy exporter, and cause other unwanted political ramifications.

    Micheli, the state board of education chairman, agreed.

    “I don’t accept, personally, that [climate change] is a fact,” Micheli said. “[The standards are] very prejudiced in my opinion against fossil-fuel development.”

  48. 298
    Radge Havers says:

    The ironically challenged use of caps in some comments gives pause.

    The unified theory of the crank
    The Denialism Blog

    Hoofnagle points out that cranks and denialists are not necessarily the same thing and points to a list of universal crank characteristics on Wikipedia:

    1. Cranks overestimate their own knowledge and ability, and underestimate that of acknowledged experts.
    2. Cranks insist that their alleged discoveries are urgently important.
    3. Cranks rarely if ever acknowledge any error, no matter how trivial.
    4. Cranks love to talk about their own beliefs, often in inappropriate social situations, but they tend to be bad listeners, and often appear to be uninterested in anyone else’s experience or opinions.

    “Almost every time I succumb to the temptation to respond to a crank I end up regretting it.”
    ~ Orac

  49. 299
    DIOGENES says:

    Kevin McKinney #292,

    ” Diogenes, your posts seem to get nastier and nastier in tone.”

    Everything is relative. My posts are heavy in technical detail, and extremely light in invective. The polar opposite is true with your tag-team partner SA, whose posts contain NO TARGETS and maximum invective.

    “However, when you insist only a message that is ‘unsalable’–however correct–you are, as SA points out, insisting on continued inaction, whether that is your intent or not.”

    I wish you, SA, and Fish would stop assigning to me statements that I never made. I don’t know what pathology drives the three of you, but the issue is far too important to be dominated by these perverse games that you play. I don’t insist on continued inaction; just the opposite. My computations show that many radical actions need to be started NOW, and performed in parallel. These include severe demand reduction IN PARALLEL WITH rapid installation of low-carbon technologies and energy efficiency improvement technologies. The problem I have with the recommendations of the three of you is they only address the minor part of the problem. Your recommendations are encompassed under the lifestyle maintenance component of my plan; I suggest you go to #63 and read the plan until you understand it. I have stated multiple times that if only the lifestyle maintenance component of my plan is instituted, it probably won’t allow us to avoid the impending climate disaster. That’s not a call for inaction. That’s a call for maximum action possible. if all you want to do is institute the lifestyle maintenance component of my plan, as the three of you propose, don’t deceive the audience by telling them that is sufficient to avoid the disaster.

  50. 300
    Hank Roberts says:

    carbon cycle feedbacks …. a question that I’d like to avoid answering, if at all possible.

    You’ve certainly help drive away the scientists who are working on answering it.

    Fortunately those interestedin learning can find them elsewhere.