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Unforced variations: Apr 2014

Filed under: — group @ 6 April 2014

More open thread. Unusually, we are keeping the UV Mar 2014 thread open for more Diogenetic conversation and to keep this thread open for more varied fare.


296 Responses to “Unforced variations: Apr 2014”

  1. 101
    Chris Dudley says:

    Why a price on carbon is flawed.

    A price on carbon is an attempt to address a market failure: namely that future generations pay the bulk of the cost of fossil fuel use while we only pay a fraction. And, worse, we don’t have that good an idea of what their cost will be. So, setting a price on carbon can be seen as making fossil fuel use more expensive for us so that we see a similar price to what future generations will see. In a sense, we would be allowing the future to bid on keeping fossil fuels in the ground. But a bidding war is going to be won by the present in this case because we set the competing bid.

    A more standard approach to market failure is regulation. Natural monopolies, for example, have a hard time drumming up competition so no market exists. So, we regulate. In the case of fossil fuel use, the present has a natural monopoly on pollution. The future simply can not produce any pollution that can affect us. Rather than pretending that a market can be made, we’d do better to regulate. The present effort by the EPA should be emulated elsewhere. Cap-and-trade systems may be useful in places, but the important thing is the cap, the regulatory imperative.

  2. 102
    sidd says:

    Sorry, I posted this to the previous unforced variations thread. Please delete the post from that thread.

    I have made some contour maps of NE Greenland surface and bedrock from the Bamber(2013) data. They are at

    http://membrane.com/sidd/greenland-2013/convel.html

    together with a comparison to the Rignot(2012) velocity map.

    It is very interesting , how the concavities in the contours map to the ice velocity. I may do a regression at some point. Another interesting thing is the bedrock trough leading north, which does not seem to be reflected in the surface data.

    For an overview based on the Bamber data

    http://membrane.com/sidd/greenland-2013/

    sidd

    - See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/03/unforced-variations-mar-2014/comment-page-13/#comment-504790

  3. 103
    sidd says:

    o dear, they seems to be a stray link at the bottom of my last post …

  4. 104
    Killian says:

    Re 91 Phil L,

    - a proportion of the landbase excluded from extraction (parks and other ecological reserves);
    - a proportion of the landbase managed intensively using an agricultural model (for economic reasons these are usually close to mills);
    - the largest proportion of the landbase managed extensively, attempting to mimic natural forest processes.

    My only comment is the scale needs to be reconsidered, and that occurs via the consumption assumptions, primarily. The first step in every aspect of every plan anywhere on the planet starting 40 years ago needed to be rate of consumption. We’re every late, but it still needs to be.

    Rather than fitting policy to consumption, we need to fit policy to systemic sustainability, and that means… let’s just stop chopping down trees altogether, except where absolutely unavoidable. Instead, let’s forget about this are or that area for certain types of logging and think instead of all forests as places where we interact with and live within nature.

    Native Americans, aka the first Asian immigrants, lived in and around Yellowstone. And modified it. The problem isn’t in being human and using stuff, it’s in acting like only humans matter, and can survive without all the rest. We will need to depopulate the cities to some extent or other and create these networked bio-regional communities. Many set aside areas will likely end up human spaces.

    We must plan for where we wish to end up, not where we are.

  5. 105
    Rachel F says:

    In terms of a plan for mitigation, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has done a pretty good job of creating a plan for the UK to 2050. See here: http://www.imeche.org/knowledge/themes/energy/uk-2050-energy-plan
    Of course this is a technologist viewpoint and somewhat idealistic, but at least it’s a plan of sorts. You have to start somewhere!
    Anyone know of any similar ones for other countries?

  6. 106
    Hank Roberts says:

    > important thing is the cap, the regulatory imperative

    Hmm, so who’s to take care of keeping the cap in place?
    Using what model for prohibiting disallowed transactions?

    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Carbon?

    Seems to me there’s some issues there.

    I recall reading that one of the problems for whale migrations has long been illegal oil prospecting using acoustic methods (air guns or explosives) in the large area where that’s been prohibited. Turns out they were merely prematurely pro-exploration:

    Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition (OCSGC), a group promoting expanded offshore drilling that’s chaired by McCrory. Its other members are Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Rick Perry of Texas, and Sean Parnell of Alaska.

    McCrory and his OCSGC colleagues asked Jewell to support seismic testing for oil and gas reserves off the Atlantic Coast, which is currently protected by a longstanding moratorium on offshore drilling. They got their answer three days later, when the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published an environmental analysis that endorsed a plan for seismic exploration in Atlantic waters.

    Jewell — the former CEO of outdoor goods company REI who started her career as an engineer for what was then the Mobil oil company — is expected to formally approve the testing plan next month, McClatchyDC reports. BOEM is accepting comments on the plan here until April 7.

    http://www.southernstudies.org/2014/03/the-growing-fight-against-oil-and-gas-exploration-.html

  7. 107

    #101–Seems like a ‘creative’ application of the conceptual framework; you really can’t have a market of any sort that works across time. Nor do you need one for pricing carbon: there are plenty of present harms which could be priced in, and there are also extant markets in which ‘customers’ pay in the present for expected (or even, as in the case of insurance, purely contingent) goods.

    So I don’t find the case presented in 101 particularly compelling when set against the apparent consensus of economists that both cap-and-trade and carbon-taxing approaches are likely to prove more economically efficient. (Even if designing good schemes is non-trivial.)

  8. 108
    Chris Dudley says:

    Hank (#106),

    Again I urge you to read more carefully. The EPA is the agency that the Supreme Court has charged with examining the dangerousness of greenhouse gas emissions. They are developing and implementing the regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. In the case of CAFE standards the NHTSA enforces the fines for non-compliance. Stationary source regulation will likely be enforced through the EPA. The model for new stationary sources will be new source review which involves state and local permits. http://www.epa.gov/nsr/ghgpermitting.html

  9. 109
    Dan H. says:

    Pete,
    That is possibly a game changer. The big issue will be how much the biota can remove from the atmosphere. This is another moving target, which unfortunately is moving in the wrong direction presently.

  10. 110
    prokaryotes says:

    What is the current state of the proposed “new Maunder minimum”?

    Current observations.

  11. 111
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#107),

    I don’t think you can really invoke efficient markets when it comes to fossil fuels. The largest sector is controlled by a cartel. CAFE standards at the least are superior to a carbon tax which would have the least effect on the most distorted fossil fuel. Further, new source regulations explicitly require coal to practice CCS to get a permit. That is all to the good. Also, it is hard to see how a price on carbon helps with fugitive methane emissions which really do require regulation since they are not even sold.

    The IPCC finds it simpler to do calculations using a carbon tax, but that does not mean it is a better approach. Regulations not markets work for pollution. Artificial markets like cap-and-trade are merely regulation methods. They don’t deliver goods to consumers or value to investors, they just serve the public good.

  12. 112
    GlenFergus says:

    Any others tiring of the Walters, Dudley, even Hank? RC signal to noise ratio appears to be setting new record lows ATM.

  13. 113
    prokaryotes says:

    Reading the final IPCC WG1

    The GWP value at a particular time may give misleading information about the climate impacts at that time, as the time scale used in the GWP becomes very different from the residence time of the emitted compound.

    The AGWP for CH4 in 100 years is 29 years and uncertainty is particular in regards to ozone changes. Link

  14. 114
    Chuck Hughes says:

    I hate to sound selfish here but I’m interested in some sort of prognostication of our situation in regards to Global Average Temperature. There are all types of scenarios as to what can happen but my question is…. what is the most likely? Factoring in politics, human nature and the rest, what is the most likely outcome for the planet? Is 2C out of the question? Are we looking at 4C as the most likely probability? Is it going to be worse than that?

    What is the general consensus at this point? Joe Romm has done what I was suggesting should be done last July. That is getting some celebrities and Hollywood types to put together a compelling story about the Climate situation. If anyone wants to go back and read the July Unforced Variations thread and take a look at what I was suggesting you can compare what Joe Romm is doing with what I had been suggesting needed to be done last July.

    http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/

  15. 115
    Phil L says:

    Killian # 104:
    You state, “Rather than fitting policy to consumption, we need to fit policy to systemic sustainability, and that means… let’s just stop chopping down trees altogether, except where absolutely unavoidable. Instead, let’s forget about this are or that area for certain types of logging and think instead of all forests as places where we interact with and live within nature.”
    In the post you are responding to (#91), I provided a pointer to the study by Oliver et al (2014) which demonstrates that the best forest-related mitigation option involves increased timber harvest, not curtailment. Here are some quotes from YaleNews:

    “Despite an established forest conservation theory holding that tree harvesting should be strictly minimized to prevent the loss of biodiversity and to maintain carbon storage capacity, the new study shows that sustainable management of wood resources can achieve both goals while also reducing fossil fuel burning…”
    “The researchers calculated that the amount of wood harvested globally each year (3.4 billion cubic meters) is equivalent to only about 20 percent of annual wood growth (17 billion cubic meters), and much of that harvest is burned inefficiently for cooking. They found that increasing the wood harvest to the equivalent of 34% or more of annual wood growth would have profound and positive effects:

    • Between 14% and 31% of global CO2 emissions could be avoided by preventing emissions related to steel and concrete; by storing CO2 in the cellulose and lignin of wood products; and other factors.

    • About 12% to 19% of annual global fossil fuel consumption would be saved including savings achieved because scrap wood and unsellable materials could be burned for energy, replacing fossil fuel consumption.

    Wood-based construction consumes much less energy than concrete or steel construction. Through efficient harvesting and product use, more CO2 is saved through the avoided emissions, materials, and wood energy than is lost from the harvested forest…”

    Again, here is the link.
    http://news.yale.edu/2014/03/31/using-more-wood-construction-can-slash-global-reliance-fossil-fuels
    I believe this article is in accord with the consensus forest science used by IPCC Working Group 3.

  16. 116
    prokaryotes says:

    Chuck Hughes (#114): Factoring in politics, human nature and the rest, what is the most likely outcome for the planet?

    Since a paradigm shift is required we might witness it or maybe not. However, as long there are no real affords it is hard to claim that special temperature targets are a certainty. For instance, once you begin to reduce emissions effectively, it might have synergistic effects as well.

    With more climate disruption and people loosing their livelihoods, it could be assumed that there is a correlation to climate awareness and subsequently for climate action. But, I’m not always sure about this, poor education or religious beliefs (i.e. like in the movie you linked) could also be blamed for climate disruption. But the hardcore deniers might eventually die out before the rest of us… and maybe then we can progress. But the price we pay for unprecedented climate change might even mean a slow long and global decline of the species, degeneration of the race and war over the last resources.

    The PETM saw large carbon excursions, in a different environment, with no significant ice sheets during the time, but with volcanism at the beginning. Though, it could be assumed that the ice still buffers the large excursions? But, because of the rate and different atmospheric composition today it could change this outlook considerably.

    However, as long there is no pronounced geological response i would assume we are still in an environment where we can prevent worst case developments and a situation when climate change becomes self sustaining because of domino – and ripple effects in various systems. But then there are studies which caution based on the long term ice sheet inertia and SLR, which could suggest that there are already major feedbacks triggered. But it could stabilize if we act and we need to seriously do this.

  17. 117
    prokaryotes says:

    James Lovelock reflects on Gaia’s legacy

    This week Lovelock spoke to Nature about his career, his earlier predictions and his new book, A Rough Ride to the Future

  18. 118
    Hank Roberts says:

    for Chuck Hughes, if you want to search a bit, look for “probability distribution” — that’s a way of showing “what is the most likely”
    https://encrypted.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=probability+distribution+global+warming

  19. 119
    Walter says:

    #114 Chuck, There is no general consensus, and even if there was then it wouldn’t make it accurate by default.
    After spending several months digging into carbon & non-carbon energy use past, present and projected I came to my own fallible conclusions. see a summary here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/04/shindell-on-constraining-the-transient-climate-response/comment-page-1/#comment-504744

    View what Rachel offered here http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/04/unforced-varaitions-apr-2014/comment-page-3/#comment-505327

    and your own post on Peter Ward re implications of a 1000 ppm CO2e world contains far more important info than an IPCC report, imo. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/04/unforced-varaitions-apr-2014/comment-page-2/#comment-502630

    Trawl UV march http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/03/unforced-variations-mar-2014/comment-page-13/#comments

    Much info here from Hansen http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/
    and then Anderson http://kevinanderson.info/
    Mann just said last week that stay under 2C carbon budget runs out in 2036, so see what he bases that on as well.
    some hints here too http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/what-on-earth-are-we-doing/

    I do not believe the IPCC energy and temperature forecasts anymore, for good reason.

    BAU 179,000 TWh of global energy from Fossil Fuels in 2040

    To replace all this Fossil Fuel energy capacity would equal an average of 7,200 TWh of EXTRA Energy a year for 25 years. How does this amount of energy compare to our current energy use? It would mean adding over 140 large 6,000 MW power stations every year from now to 2040.

    Fossil Fuels
    The largest Coal fired power plant is 5,500 MW
    The largest Gas fired power plant is 5,600 MW
    The largest Oil fired power plant is 5,600 MW
    The largest Oil Shale fired power plant is 1,600 MW

    Renewables
    The largest Wind power plant is 1,000 MW
    The largest Biofuel fired power plant is 750 MW
    The largest Geothermal power plant is 300 MW
    The largest PV Solar power plant is 500 MW
    The largest CS Solar power plant is 380 MW
    The largest Tidal power plant is 250 MW

    Check OECD, World Bank, Iea, Eia, IAEA data sets

  20. 120
  21. 121
    Walter says:

    Better lecture version of UW Peter Ward’s et al science conclusions here http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HtHlsUDVVy0#aid=P5WsytY358A

  22. 122
    sidd says:

    Re:RC signal to noise ratio appears to be setting new record lows

    Quite. My killfile is skipping well over 90% of all text posted. That’s unthreaded, it would be close to 100% if this were a threaded forum. This is how Usenet newsgroups would die. This is how the deniers win.

    Quit beating dead horses, fercryinoutloud, and at such length. We know your opinions, you have explained them in tedious detail, we get it. Just post a citation and a (small) para explaining why we ought to look at the cite. Just not the same thing over and over and over and over … and for heaven’s sake, quit replying more than once to those you think are trolls.

    or realclimate.org could implement a killfile …

    What the hell, spring is here, i shall go out an plant more trees. Better than most other alternatives, both for the planet and for me.

    sidd

  23. 123
    pete best says:

    Re #114 – we can go to any temperature upto 6C if the governments that matter (china, Europe and the USA) decide that its too expensive to do anything about it and indeed as it presently stands emitting 9-10 billion tonnes of carbon per annum presently and growing at 1-2% per year means that within a decade 2C is increasing likely and then 3-4C becomes the next exit junction. Remember the more we expand our fossil fuel energy base the harder it becomes to reduce emissions significantly.

    The easiest fossil fuel to mitigate is coal technologically but economically and politically it might be the hardest (ironic really) as coal is available in many countries or countries that have large reserves are seemingly happy to export it to those countries that need it. Nuclear, solar, and wind can easily replace coal as a base load energy source and indeed eliminating coal would be a good step towards tackling oil and gas next.

  24. 124
    prokaryotes says:

    IPCC should publish the report on the web, instead just with PDF’s. To look something up you have to download, scroll through various pages, read small font size and related content often is within various files. And when you foudn something interesting it often is hard to copy/past, if possible at all. Just try to look up the methane GWP, there is no clear one page summary.

  25. 125
    Dan H. says:

    Chuck,
    Unfortunately, there is no general consensus. There are too many factors involved, whose changes in the future are uncertain. The range in predictions is quite large as shown in these examples:

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2007JCLI2119.1
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.397.6972&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    [edit - stick to the credible]

  26. 126
    prokaryotes says:

    I echo the suggestion by sidd above to enable threaded comments (An option under the settings, discussion tap in the backend).

  27. 127

    #111–”CAFE standards at the least are superior to a carbon tax which would have the least effect on the most distorted fossil fuel.” That’s not the experience of British Columbia:

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/british-columbia-carbon-tax-sanity

    “Further, new source regulations explicitly require coal to practice CCS to get a permit. That is all to the good.”

    Indeed it is.

    “Also, it is hard to see how a price on carbon helps with fugitive methane emissions which really do require regulation since they are not even sold.”

    Well, it isn’t either/or, is it?

    “Artificial markets like cap-and-trade are merely regulation methods.”

    Yes–ones the inherent flexibility of which can make that benefit/cost ratio pretty darn high:

    http://www.epa.gov/capandtrade/documents/ctresults.pdf

    In fact, a 2003 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) study found that the Acid Rain Program accounted for the largest quantified human health benefits – over $70 billion annually – of any major federal regulatory program implemented in the last 10 years, with benefits exceeding costs by more than 40:1.

  28. 128
    Chris Dudley says:

    Glen (#112),

    You may want to actually read my posts since they could inform you. My subject matter has to do with the area of disagreement that has had language dropped from the WG III SPM. The full report has this to say:

    “Income patterns and trends as well as distribution of GHG emissions have changed significantly since the 1990s, when the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol listed Annex I/Annex B countries; some countries outside these lists have become wealthier and larger emitters than some countries on these lists (U.S. Department of Energy, 2012; WRI, 2012; Aldy and Stavins, 2012). For example, in 1990, China’s total CO2 emissions were about half of United States emissions, but by 2010, China emitted more than 50% more CO2 than the United States. Over this same time period, China’s per capita CO2 emissions experienced an almost three-fold increase, rising to nearly equal the level in the EU, but still about 36% of the United States level (IEA, 2012; JRC/PBL, 2012; PBL, 2012, see Annex II.9; Olivier et al., 2012). Non-Annex I countries as a group have a share in the cumulative global greenhouse emissions for the period 1850 to 2010 close to 50%, a share that is increasing (den Elzen et al., 2013b) (see Section 5.2.1 for more detail on historical emissions).”

    http://mitigation2014.org/report/final-draft/

    Your sense of signal-to-noise ratio may be failing you if the noise of contention is not a signal to you of potentially consequential issues. My posts have been unsettling to some who are unaware of the changed situation and that does lead to chatter, but I think you’ll find useful links and evidence associated with my posts.

  29. 129
    Walter says:

    122 sidd, I know exactly what you mean when you’re in a space where killfiles seems like the answer, been there and done that. [my previous experience tells me it's not the answer, because the 'cause/problem' is being misunderstood - but that's a long story to explain so I won't ]
    I can still remember a time when one could have an intelligent respectful discussion on alt.philosophy, and even occasionally on alt.politics but times have changed. It’s important to realise they were non-moderated groups and so the analogy has serious weaknesses to here and now. It depends on what you are seeking and what the operators of this site want.
    Guessing what that might be, given what I have seen in the 8 years of visiting here i suggest the following as a possible alternative worth considering.
    Close public comments as reddit and climateprogress have done. Knowing that when you do that the result will be articles like this not going away http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/11/3425731/cyclone-ita/ because no one has the opportunity of saying, excuse me but, that is BS or not true because of xyz.
    99.9% of my time here has only ever been reading the posted articles, so it is still a valid option that would suit the majority of visitors to RC.
    Then for those advanced more scientific orientated folks, then the RC team could certainly provide “a private discussion board” for approved users / invitees .. eg yourself, hank, steve fish et al. Problem solved, no killfile required, signal to noise ratio solved, and much time wasting by the moderators saved (and readers too). A win-win for all …… on the surface at least. But again, it depends on what you want and more difficult to determine, what you might need. Do as you wilt.

  30. 130
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Chuck Hughes, The question of where we go from here is not one of consensus, but one of free will. Humans as individuals and as collectives will make choices and either take action or not. Those choices will have consequences. And hopefully, the decision-makers and stakeholders most responsible for the decisions will be called to account for their actions.

  31. 131
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#127),

    That article from Mother Jones is interesting. The awareness raising aspect is something that regulation also has. US car ads talk a lot about fuel economy again now as the new CAFE standards have given them something to talk about. I noticed this to:

    “Thus, the carbon tax survived an initial trial by fire, and the opposition softened. After all, after a few years with the tax in place (and the resulting tax cuts for BC residents getting larger and larger), any repeal of the policy would amount to a highly unpopular tax increase.”

    So, what happens when everyone has an electric car? In the US, the answer would be to eliminate social programs rather than to replace the lost tax revenue: starve the beast. Tax shifting with a temporary tax can cause good governance problems.

    Regarding sulfur, I think it is a safe bet to say that it was the cap, not the trading, that produced the public health benefit there. And, I’m pretty sure that a trading simulation could have been run that would achieve the same savings. That simulation could then be dictated as straight out regulations without overhead cost. That would have been seen as unfair since different sources would seem to be treated differently. So, the pablum of actually trading might be necessary, but it isn’t necessarily the most cost effective method.

    “Well, it isn’t either/or, is it?” No, it isn’t. There will be places where it is the only option, like Vancouver, which probably does not have the regulatory authority to ban coal but does have taxing authority. There will be places that find a tax easier than doing the level of assessment that effective regulations need. But, that is no reason to disparage the good work of effective regulating agencies.

  32. 132
    SecularAnimist says:

    Recommended reading for commenters opining about China: a new report from Greenpeace entitled “The End of China’s Coal Boom” (PDF document).

  33. 133
    Killian says:

    Pete Best said CONFUSION regarding the most recent IPCC report on emissions reductions and their costs. Can we really mitigate/reduce emissions by the amounts cited in the report at a cost of only 0.6 global GDP?

    Far less than that. The problem is their assumptions and your acceptance of them. First of all, this isn’t just a climate issue, it is also resource limitations, economics, social structure and complexity. Underlying all of those is The Elephant In The Room That Shall Not Be Named.

    We in the US of A and some other places nee to drop our consumption to about 10% of what it currently is, right? Well, how much energy does it take to just stop doing stuff? Not much. How much energy does some transitional activities require? Overall, a lot less than BAU. We already have all three of the absolutely necessary things in this country that are required: An infrastructure of wind, hydro and solar that equals…. drum roll…. that ten percent we need to keep using.

    We grow more than enough food in this country, by a good margin @ only 35 people per sq. km or so. We have enough electricity. We have more unused homes than we do homeless. In broad strokes, we could literally just stop doing most of what we do tomorrow. In reality, there are issues that must be addressed at the local and bio-regional level having to do with supplying key services. But with unemployment still high and so many more people no longer doing what they were doing, manpower would be abundant.

    Economics? Jubilee, global, period. Instant end to fractional banking and interest for any new lending. Non-monetary economy based in working, not jobs. Do it. Why? Needs to be done. Use Time Banking if you prefer to keep some accounted process for work.

    And on and on…

    Surely this is not realistic economically and politically is the willing there globally.

    This is an irrelevant question. I don’t know why it continues to be raised. The answer is literally simplify or watch it all fall down and go boom. Without climate, we would have to make virtually all the same changes due to resource, environmental and complexity issues. We might have more time and the problem wouldn’t be as existential, i.e. the mass extinction probably wouldn’t be on the same scale, but the rest of it still would be rolling right along to massive disruptions.

    I guess it all comes down to Europe, USA and China but even so can fossil fuel companies or countries be persuaded to leave their resources in the ground for a new generation of energy sources that might not involve them?

    Errr…. would they still be digging them up if we were not still buying them? Has nothing to do with them in the end. The answer to that question is in ht mirror: Do we choose collapse, or do we choose to keep buying FFs and using more stuff than the planet can supply?

    Freaks me out people don’t get the whole, “If you don’t buy it, they won’t build it,” thing. We hear nothing but market, market, market; economics,economics, economics. Well, that cuts both ways? Why protest the Tar Sands or Big Oil when all you have to do is stop using stuff and let market forces do the work for you?

    Permaculture (i.e. sustainable design/regenerative design) Principle: Least change for maximum effect.

    I know that the big issue is coal

    Nah. It’s a touchstone. In reality, we cut all FFs or we face the consequences. Look at the ASI graph since 1900. It’s 315 ppm, max, or risk an out-of-control climate shift because we have already destabilized virtually every ecosystem on the planet and cannot just slow down, we must reverse the damage to ensure no out-of-control processes. That means refreezing all that Arctic-based carbon. Well, if the ice was melting at 315, we darn well better get back below that.

    and alternatives to oil are not mature enough.

    If you refer to fungibility, that may be correct. However, using only a tiny fraction of oil for lubrication and such can likely be done and still meet all other sustainability goals while the amount of oil we have would allow, for all intents and purposes, the use of oil for as long as we needed to create sustainable synthetic lubricants.

    If you speak of energy, then see previous comments.

    So if we reduce emissions from 2 ppmv to 1 ppmv that does just delay the climate issue or change the game?

    Anyone thinking that is acceptable is not understanding the situation, in my opinion. We need -2 to -5/yr.

  34. 134
    Killian says:

    Phil L said, Killian # 104: You state, “Rather than fitting policy to consumption, we need to fit policy to systemic sustainability, and that means… let’s just stop chopping down trees altogether, except where absolutely unavoidable. Instead, let’s forget about this are or that area for certain types of logging and think instead of all forests as places where we interact with and live within nature.”
    In the post you are responding to (#91), I provided a pointer to the study by Oliver et al (2014) which demonstrates that the best forest-related mitigation option involves increased timber harvest, not curtailment. Here are some quotes from YaleNews:

    “Despite an established forest conservation theory holding that tree harvesting should be strictly minimized to prevent the loss of biodiversity and to maintain carbon storage capacity, the new study shows that sustainable management of wood resources can achieve both goals while also reducing fossil fuel burning…”

    This fits with regenerative design theory wherein we augment nature’s productivity by applying her own rules to her. One thing ecosystems do a lot of? Boom and bust. Grow, grow, grow, burn, burn, burn in this case. They probably have this right, but only if said forest needs to not burn, burn, burn and does not work so well if said forest does need to burn, burn, burn. E.g. Some things, we just can’t mess with without substantially altering the ecosystem while having no idea what the new stasis condition will be.

    But, I was talking about consumption goals setting policy vs. needs and productive capacity setting policy, so my point stands. It matters what the directionality of decision-making is. You can have a process that should boost forest productivity, but that does not matter if you exceed that productivity.

  35. 135
    Killian says:

    #114 Walter said BAU 179,000 TWh of global energy from Fossil Fuels in 2040

    To replace all this Fossil Fuel energy capacity would equal an average of 7,200 TWh of EXTRA Energy a year for 25 years. How does this amount of energy compare to our current energy use? It would mean adding over 140 large 6,000 MW power stations every year from now to 2040.

    Why discuss this? There is nothing at all backing up a run to that much energy consumption at that time. You may as well discuss the likelihood Halley’s Comet will become a yearly even starting this year. There’s a simple test: we are already using 1.5 Earths a year, so how can using 2 possibly work?

  36. 136
    Chris Dudley says:

    Walter (#119),

    You say:

    “I do not believe the IPCC energy and temperature forecasts anymore, for good reason.”

    And then put down some numbers. Does it seem strange to you that the 193 UN member states could not build less that one power plant a year? The Sierra Club blocked construction of over 150 coal plants in the US in a rather short campaign http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/04/beyond-coal-plant-activism and is now shutting down existing plants: http://content.sierraclub.org/coal/victories

    I don’t see why you think the numbers look iffy. BAU has been happening all along, by definition.

  37. 137
    Chris Dudley says:

    As validation of Churchill’s dictum that the US can always be trusted to do the right thing, new regulations on mercury emissions will shut down 60 GW of coal power, mostly by 2016. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303887804579503600891325942 The new regulations were required by Congress in 1990….

  38. 138

    I read with anticipation every comment that sidd makes. That is what makes the commenting portion worthwhile.

  39. 139
    Walter says:

    #134 Why discuss this? Chuck asked ” There are all types of scenarios as to what can happen but my question is…. what is the most likely? Factoring in politics, human nature and the rest, what is the most likely outcome for the planet?”
    Until something big changes, then BAU now to 2040 for global energy demand and FF energy use is the “most likely” outcome. BAU figures are IEA and they match well with others out to 2030-2040. The only thing that really counts is CO2/CO2e = ppm growth = “most likely” temperature rise.

    Alternative is to replace FF energy with non-carbon energy = “It would mean adding (equivalent) over 140 large 6,000 MW (non-carbon) power stations every year from now to 2040.” … to meet BAU energy demand, to get a sense of scale in the degree of “mitigation” needed with zero demand reduction, and BAU GDP growth.

    Of course it doesn’t add up, that’s the point, therefore BAU growth in FF energy = “most likely” temperature rise (all things being equal – the rest is maths)

    My answer for Chuck (fwiw noting refs) is that BAU is “most likely” when -Factoring in politics, human nature and the rest- so what is the “most likely outcome” for the planet? +2C before 2050, and +4C by 2100 unless something changes very soon and global CO2 is cut to 10% of 1990 levels before 2050.

    Variables? Lots, and I am not psychic. But I do know that nothing changes until something changes.

  40. 140

    #131, Chris D

    Haven’t a clue who you think has been “denigrating regulatory responses.” Not me! (If anything, you seem to be denigrating any alternative to them.)

    So, I went looking. This gentleman–an economist by trade, employed as such by Harvard, in fact–isn’t too fond of the regulatory approach, it seems:

    …experience has shown that such standards cannot ensure achievement of emissions targets, create problematic unintended consequences, and are very costly for what they achieve.

    Why can conventional standard not ensure achievement of reasonable emissions targets? First, standards typically focus on new emissions sources, and do not address emissions from existing sources. Think about greenhouse gas standards for new cars and new power plants, for example. Second, standards cannot possibly address all types of new sources, given the ubiquity of energy generation and use (and hence CO2 emissions) in a modern economy. Third, emissions depend upon many factors that cannot be addressed by standards, such as: emissions from existing sources and unregulated new sources; how quickly the existing capital stock is replaced; the growth in the number of new emissions sources; and how intensively emissions-generating plants and equipment are utilized.

    Next, what about those unintended consequences? First, by reducing operating costs, energy-efficiency standards — for example — can cause more intensive use of regulated equipment (for example, air conditioners are run more often), leading to offsetting increases in emissions — the “rebound effect.” Second, firms and households may delay replacing existing equipment if standards make new equipment more costly. This is the well-known problem with vintage-differentiated regulations or “New Source Review.” Third, standards may encourage counterproductive, unintended shifts among regulated activities (for example, from purchasing cars to purchasing SUVs under the CAFE program). All of these unintended consequences result from the problematic incentives that standards can create, compared with the efficient incentives created by a cap-and-trade system (or a carbon-tax, for that matter).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-stavins/cap-and-trade-versus-the_b_312835.html

    (Useful discussion of both carbon tax and cap-and-trade approaches follows; the writer prefers the latter, but is ‘not opposed’ to the former.)

    My sense is that Dr. Stavins is more or less in the mainstream on this.

    Going back to another comment, you question “So, what happens when everyone has an electric car? In the US, the answer would be to eliminate social programs rather than to replace the lost tax revenue: starve the beast.”
    The design of the BC tax is revenue-neutral, remember? So, should universal adoption of electric cars come about, any effect on tax revenue would be balanced by a reduction in the allowance on income taxes.

    And the BC tax affects more than just transportation:

    Analysis indicates that, as expected, the economic impact of British Columbia’s carbon tax varies by industry and some industries are more impacted than others. Industries with high emissions intensities, such as cement production, petroleum refining, oil and gas extraction and some other manufacturing subsectors, are most impacted.

    http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/tbs/tp/climate/Carbon_Tax_Review_Topic_Box.pdf

    So I think that objection is a ‘fail.’

  41. 141
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#140),

    I think you are correct that Stavins is fairly mainstream. The 2009 article does not seem to be very prescient on how the endangerment finding promulgated just two months later has affected regulations. In particular, he seems caught unaware that existing sources will be regulated. Also, he seems quite unaware that both cars and trucks come under the new CAFE standards.

    So, lets take him at his word and do away with all standards and instead do greenhouse gas emissions trading. First, we must do away with the Montreal Protocol since ozone destroying greenhouse gases are under regulation there. They must be traded regardless of their potential to destroy the ozone layer…. Oh, wait, atmospheric science is more complicated than markets….

    I wonder sometimes if the reason the economists like cap-and-trade better is because you have to hire economists to implement it while regulations need scientists to do it right.

  42. 142
    Killian says:

    #134 Why discuss this? Chuck asked ” There are all types of scenarios as to what can happen but my question is…. what is the most likely? Factoring in politics, human nature and the rest, what is the most likely outcome for the planet?”
    Comment by Walter — 17 Apr 2014 @ 12:02 PM

    Irrelevant, isn’t it? If what is most likely is a non-solution, thus essentially equaling mass extinction of some degree or other, what’s the point?

    The question to be asked is, what are the solutions. Yes, you can talk about die off, but what’s the point?

  43. 143
    Phil L says:

    Killian at #134 says, “But, I was talking about consumption goals setting policy vs. needs and productive capacity setting policy, so my point stands. It matters what the directionality of decision-making is. You can have a process that should boost forest productivity, but that does not matter if you exceed that productivity.”
    Please note that I have not advocated pushing timber harvest to the limits of the forest’s inherent productivity. I have been advocating sustainable forest management. For example the article that I pointed to at #115 above has this finding, “The researchers calculated that the amount of wood harvested globally each year (3.4 billion cubic meters) is equivalent to only about 20 percent of annual wood growth (17 billion cubic meters), and much of that harvest is burned inefficiently for cooking. They found that increasing the wood harvest to the equivalent of 34% or more of annual wood growth would have profound and positive effects.” If you have a science-based argument against increasing the annual harvest from 20% up to 34% of annual wood growth, please point to your science. Arguments based on anti-forestry confirmation bias are just hand-waving.

  44. 144
    Walter says:

    Killian, a philosophical analogy. A patient has a very rare thigh bone cancer. The hospital oncology experts have been monitoring that and it’s growing at an exponential rate. The first team of experts have seen other cases of this in history, and every time it killed the patient when it grew up into the hip and bodily organs. It needs to be “stopped” ie your leg fully amputated to save your life.

    They hand it to a second team of experts in the hospital, who confer, and agree. They hand it to a third team of experts who come back and tell you, well, we are not sure, the data is inconclusive, but we had a meeting and we came to a consensus that if we only cut off your foot it should help solve the problem. Unfortunately the decision of what to do or what to recommend you do isn’t our job, so we are passing the problem over to the HMO, and the accountants and clerks there will decide for you what is best for you. We don’t really know, well we do, but we are not allowed to say.

    Let the HMO decide to cut off your foot or not and ‘most likely’ you’ll die. Is that a solution to the REAL problem or isn’t it? Because that is what is being offered by “consensus” of the experts.

    Let’s now talk about the various nuances of cutting off a foot and explore in depth the cheapest easiest most economical and less painful way to do that. Facing the reality of having to cut off one’s leg to save one’s life, is hard enough. Yes Killian, what is the point?

  45. 145
    Killian says:

    Phil L said Killian at #134 says,…It matters what the directionality of decision-making is. You can have a process that should boost forest productivity, but that does not matter if you exceed that productivity.”

    Please note that I have not advocated pushing timber harvest to the limits of the forest’s inherent productivity.

    I didn’t say you did.

    …They found that increasing the wood harvest to the equivalent of 34% or more of annual wood growth would have profound and positive effects.” If you have a science-based argument against increasing the annual harvest from 20% up to 34% of annual wood growth, please point to your science. Arguments based on anti-forestry confirmation bias are just hand-waving.

    I repeat, I said not a syllable on not cutting. As I had to say to Dudley, speak a’ d’ English? Why are so many here so freaking disagreeable if disagreed with? Heck, I didn’t even disagree with you! I simply made an observation on directionality. Anti-forestry? Arguing against harvest? I have said neither of these. In fact, I clearly stated it is well within the principles of sustainable systems to manage supposedly pristine systems to make them more productive, so what the heck is your problem? I have said the DIRECTIONALITY of the logic/decision-making is backwards. For this reason, we need to be cautious of the conclusions and/or careful about applying hem in planning. Also, wood harvest vs. ecosystem are an issue. As I said before.

    It is entirely possible the conclusions are correct, but the question is not asked, how much wood do we *need?* In particular, how much do we need in a negative growth environment? Then, how much in a stabilized sustainable society?

    That is, I am providing additional context. Try being more observant and more polite next time. Handwaving and bias… criminy…

  46. 146
    Hank Roberts says:

    Phil, one paper does not suffice to change direction; it’s one paper. With science, look for followups citing that paper.

    Look at the numbers on wood wasted — do you see any proposal for actually salvaging it to burn for energy?
    Most concrete is assembled using wood forms — used one time and trashed. Found any program to change that?

    The paper you cite is an “if everyone would only ‘X’” approach. Those are always interesting. But getting people to do what’s actually involved — manage the resource, not simply cut more — isn’t easy to arrange.

    I’m looking for actual logging done this way.
    Got pointers/pictures?

    “Forest harvest creates a temporary opening that is needed by forest species such as butterflies and some birds and deer before it regrows to large trees.”
    “This diversity can be maintained by harvesting some of the forest growth.”

    Also looking for timber management logging plans that meet those criteria. Pointers welcome.

  47. 147
  48. 148
    Phil L says:

    Hank, its not just one paper. The summary has a link to the full paper, which has many citations.

    You can read about Sustainable Forest Management in Canada at the website of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers
    http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/canada/sustainable-forest-management/13183

    About 90% of the industrial forestry in Canada takes place on public land. Industry operates under legislation and policy that varies from province to province, but all provinces have mechanisms to set “annual allowable cut” and rules to ensure that actual harvest does not exceed the AAC. You can read about one province’s Forest Management Plan requirements here:
    http://esrd.alberta.ca/lands-forests/forest-management/forest-management-plans/default.aspx

    Certainly there is room for criticism, but I think the debate should be about issues such as certification and the rigour of forest management plans and compliance, not unsubstantiated arguments based on the incorrect view that timber harvest = deforestation.

    For those interested in diving into forest ecology, I suggest the textbook by J.P. (Hamish) Kimmins.
    http://www.amazon.com/Forest-Ecology-Edition-James-Kimmins/dp/0130662585

  49. 149
    Hank Roberts says:

    > certification and the rigour of forest management plans
    > and compliance

    I’m with you there. But dealing with the waste of much of the wood after it’s cut is part of the calculation of sustainable forestry.
    I don’t see it happening where I am.

    So Canada’s doing something better along those lines?

    Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula’s last 3 or 4 decades of logging shows how it’s been done wrong. Where is it being done right?

  50. 150
    Phil L says:

    Killian at #145: You say, “I repeat, I said not a syllable on not cutting.” Perhaps I misunderstood your earlier statement, “Rather than fitting policy to consumption, we need to fit policy to systemic sustainability, and that means… let’s just stop chopping down trees altogether, except where absolutely unavoidable.” If I misinterpreted you, I apologize.


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