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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. 251
    Flakmeister says:

    Killian,

    I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong on the fast oil crash (that was so 2006). Wisdom now tells me the post peak will be similar to crossing the event horizon but in this case, the collapse will be appear slow to co-moving observer. Twenty years for TSTHTF is comparable to my remain days…

    The way I see it, socio-political “collapse” will be preceeded by an economic shock/collapse. For example, do you think the US would remain united if and when the petro-dollar meets its demise? And while you are correct in that the Fall of the House of Saud is not a black swan per se, it certainly would throw the world for a loop, especially if the new regime reneges on pricing oil exclusively in dollars. Repudiation of USD denominated debt and the subsequent deflationary whirlwind could easily result in 20-25% reduction in global economic activity (aka C02 emissions) in 2-3 years. From that new baseline, it may be possible to implement real policies needed to curb emissions but I have serious doubts that will be the case. Convincing the most powerful companies in the world to write off $30 trillion or so in assets ain’t gonna be easy…

    As for oil:

    What appears to be currently happening is that the cost of replacement of the marginal barrel (due to decline of existing fields, ~5% p.a.) is slightly less than or at the level which the global economy can afford. The higher prices that might be able to increase supply cannot be supported. And there are limits to how much and how fast you can improve the “oil efficiency” of the economy. The only short term solution is demand destruction. Incidentally demand destruction in NA and Europe has been a significant part of the supply that Asia now relies on.

  2. 252
    SecularAnimist says:

    Recommended reading:

    Reversing Climate Change Achievable by Farming Organically
    Rodale Institute
    April 23, 2014

    Excerpt:

    Today Rodale Institute announced the launch of a global campaign to generate public awareness of soil’s ability to reverse climate change, but only when the health of the soil is maintained through organic regenerative agriculture. The campaign will call for the restructuring of our global food system with the goal of reversing climate change through photosynthesis and biology.

    The white paper, entitled Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming [PDF], is the central tool of the campaign. The paper was penned by Rodale Institute, the independent nonprofit agricultural research institute widely recognized as the birthplace of the organic movement in the United States.

    The white paper states that “We could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term regenerative organic agriculture.”

    If management of all current cropland shifted to reflect the regenerative model as practiced at the research sites included in the white paper, more than 40% of annual emissions could potentially be captured. If, at the same time, all global pasture was managed to a regenerative model, an additional 71% could be sequestered. Essentially, passing the 100% mark means a drawing down of excess greenhouse gases, resulting in the reversal of the greenhouse effect.

    Regenerative organic agriculture is comprised of organic practices including (at a minimum): cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation. Conservation tillage, while not yet widely used in organic systems, is a regenerative organic practice integral to soil-carbon sequestration. Other biological farming systems that use some of these techniques include ecological, progressive, natural, pro-soil, and carbon farming.

  3. 253
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#248),

    It is hard to tell what is a stranded asset in that article. A lot of times is seems to be projects that are on the drawing board. If they never get developed, how were they ever assets? Perhaps it is the unmined coal or tarsand that they mean?

  4. 254

    #250–Did anyone ever say that transforming the energy economy would be trivial?

    I didn’t think so. And doing it while phasing out nuclear power on an accelerated timetable makes it quite unnecessarily difficult.

    Don’t confuse that with any and every possible future using renewables.

  5. 255
    patrick says:

    #250 If that pleases you, just keep reading Der Spiegel–which is a pinnacle of half-truths, I think. Der Spiegel just wastes my lamp oil.

  6. 256
    GlenFergus says:

    Sidd@#202:

    Thanks; stuff you’re highlighting is really interesting.

    Kml/kmz is a Google invention, but it’s an open format that is becoming widely supported in many non-G consumer and professional-level mapping applications. An advantage is that it can be geo-viewed and manipulated on lots of platforms without additional software. Unfortunately it still doesn’t seem to support much more than toy 3D overlays — “buildings, bridges, monuments, and statues”. It does raster and vector overlays draped over an existing DTM of course (e.g. GE’s), but that’s not much use for your plot.

    Super-overlay is just a kml tiling scheme for large raster overlays, to facilitate dynamic zooming. It likely would work fine, but as I said, it won’t display your 3D. Probably not worth the trouble; apologies for the run-around.

  7. 257
    DIOGENES says:

    Kevin McKinney #248,

    “but the threat to their business model of the renewables/efficiency revolution.”

    See post #250 for a real-world example of the “renewables/efficiency revolution”. It will bring ‘prosperity’ to Germany the way the Russian Revolution brought ‘prosperity’ to the USSR!

  8. 258
    DIOGENES says:

    #206,
    “Want to Stop Climate Change? Take the Fossil Fuel Industry to Court”

    ““What Heede did helps assign blame. It’s a list with names and numbers. It individualizes responsibility in a way that had not been done before,”…..As Pawa explains it, “We’re where the tobacco lawyers were before they started winning. It takes time and it takes persistence for the legal theories to evolve and mature.””

    This article, and the recommendation to read it, are sheer nonsense. Heede only presented part of the picture, and did not assign the full blame. The 93 companies mentioned are the equivalent of the ‘hit-men’. They pulled the trigger for profit. However, as in the criminal world, the major share of the responsibility goes to those who sponsor the ‘hit-men’. In that case, it is us, the consuming public, who must bear the major share of responsibility. Even with the vastly greater knowledge we have about climate change today, and its causes, we still want all the energy that fossil fuels can provide.

    The comparison with tobacco is ludicrous. There was a majority that opposed smoking, and they eventually imposed their will on the minority through the legal system and other means. That is not the case with the Carbon industry. In the latter, the VAST majority of the public is comfortable with the status quo of energy sources, and there is no way the public will allow the legal and political system to do to fossil fuel sources what was done to tobacco. But, hey, anything to shift the blame away from where it belongs!

  9. 259
    DIOGENES says:

    Patrick #255,

    “#250 If that pleases you, just keep reading Der Spiegel–which is a pinnacle of half-truths, I think. Der Spiegel just wastes my lamp oil.”

    If you noticed, I referenced a number of sources other than, and including, Der Spiegel. Unlike the ideologues, I don’t confine my references to House Organs like CleanTechnica. And, all the sources I came across arrived at the same conclusions.

  10. 260
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the consuming public

    You are repeating the same argument the same apologists used when they were working for the tobacco companies, ‘we just sell, it’s the buyers who decide.’

    And you’re not using the topic Gavin gave you to get your stuff together.

    “Please stop. I’m bored.” — igNobel Awards

  11. 261

    http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-30/german-unemployment-falls-a-fifth-month-as-economy-grows.html

    #257–Well, considering that DS was predicting economic chaos from 2012, and that the current outlook for the German economy is this:

    “German unemployment fell more than twice as much as forecast in April in a sign that Europe’s largest economy will continue to lead the recovery in the euro area.”

    …color me unimpressed with your crystal ball.

  12. 262
    DIOGENES says:

    Jim Larsen #679 – Unforced Variations – Mar 2014

    “You keep talking plans. Incomplete and off the cuff to be implemented mostly via international treaty:

    Demand:

    1. A huge rebated carbon tax. Target gas at $10 a gallon retail.

    2. Feebate cars so the most efficient are subsidized by the least efficient. Set CAFE at 75MPG.

    3. Include expected energy costs in the application process for house and car loans. People will be able to buy a more expensive house and car if they go green.

    4. Government programs for insulation, light bulbs, recycling, etc

    Power Supply:

    1. Stop drilling. Stop opening coal mines. Stop building fossil power plants. Let current infrastructure live out its life, more or less.

    2. Solve cellulose-based ethanol.

    3. Standardize and crank out Integral Fast Reactors. Learn to live with each other enough to allow plutonium proliferation.

    4. Keep driving down the costs for solar and wind. Keep ramping up production.

    Mitigation:

    1. Start geoengineering now, targeting 0-0.5C above preindustrial. We’ll need it soon enough, why not start learning on the bunny slopes?

    Current oil and gas fields have well-known depletion rates. Those natural rates are our target (no new wells).”

    Appreciate the post. You have suggested some very interesting actions. If implemented, what targets (peak temperatures, concentration profiles, etc) will they achieve? Critically important. For a 2 C or 3 C target, you have some slack in what demand reductions you can implement. For anything near what Hansen et al say we need, ~1 C, the slack in demand reduction disappears.

    Many of your Demand reductions are based on economic incentives. They won’t affect the 1%, but will affect the bottom 50% substantially. Are you comfortable with that type of inequality? Why not just impose a stringent fossil energy use limit on all across the board, emphasizing non-essential uses?

    You state: “Let current infrastructure live out its life, more or less”, and also recommend cranking up Fast Breeders and renewables. Can we afford the fossil emissions generated in the interim? This gets back to targets.

    You don’t address carbon removal. As I read Hansen, carbon removal is central to his plan, followed by reasonable demand reduction. Can we get to where we need to go without some sort of carbon removal, either by reforestation and/or different farming/land management practices?

  13. 263
    Killian says:

    246 DIOGENES says Killian #243, “DIOGENES says Flakmeister #230 …Global Economic Collapse is the First Law of Climate Change Amelioration…

    Our only hope for avoiding the impending climate Apocalypse is implementing the most rapid reduction of fossil fuel emissions possible.

    And there you get to the crux of the problem: You are using “collapse”, but keep talking about rapid simplification. It is not helpful to make up use of terms for yourself; how are supposed to understand you if you are changing the accepted meanings of words willy-nilly?

    Collapse and simplification are not the same thing. Is that not obvious? To implement” means intentional action. That is simplification, not collapse. Collapse is beyond your control, by definition.

    This is what Diamond explores quite clearly. Choose: Collapse (bad) or simplification (good.)

    Please do not confuse the terms.

    250 DIOGENES says 237, “Still preaching the Gospel According To ExxonMobil, I see.”

    Christmas came early for ExxonMobil this year. Edward Greisch performed a public service by posting a two-part Der Spiegel article from 2012… If there is still an electricity shortfall, energy-hungry plants like the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Hamburg are sometimes asked to shut down production to protect the grid. Of course, ordinary electricity customers are then expected to pay for the compensation these businesses are entitled to for lost profits. (Der Spiegel, 2013)

    So what you’re saying is, by being long-term prudent Germany is taking on some upfront costs. This is good. Why? Germany is the only industrialized nation on the planet who is poised to successfully simplify without chaos being the result.

    So they are potentially shutting down some industrialization as a side effect of simplification and climate mitigation, as they need to be doing? They are going to make so much money when they are using 10% of what they do now, but still have all that wind and solar power generation that virtually every country around them will be begging for.

    Flippin’ brilliant!

  14. 264
    Killian says:

    252 SecularAnimist says Reversing Climate Change Achievable by Farming Organically Rodale Institute
    Excerpt:

    The white paper states that “We could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term regenerative organic agriculture.”

    If… all current cropland shifted to reflect the regenerative model > more than 40% of annual emissions could potentially be captured. If… all global pasture was ma… an additional 71% could be sequestered.

    Did any of you read the research from Rodale? I’ve been posting it for years. A 30+ year longitudinal study. And note this doesn’t even mention

    * Home/community gardens
    * Food forests
    * Reforesation
    * Reduced global consumption, period.
    * Agroforesty/Savory’s claims
    * Bio-char

    So, we use simple, natural food production to get to sub-net zero. That’s 2 – 3 ppm a year not happening. Then we do all these other things they didn’t even discuss (well, not in what was quoted) and get down another 1 – 2 ppm, minimum. Then we actually simplify, knocking out another minimum 2ppm.

    Suddenly, and simply, we’re going **backwards** a minimum of 3ppm/yr, and as much as 5ppm/yr.

    Said all this years ago, folks. Listening yet? Ready to talk about solutions in real time and real terms?

    I’m ready when you are.

  15. 265
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    > It is hard to tell what is a stranded asset in that article. A lot of times is seems to be projects that are on the drawing board. If they never get developed, how were they ever assets? Perhaps it is the unmined coal or tarsand that they mean?

    Yes, at least that has been my understanding. There are IIRC a couple $trillion worth of reduced carbon in the ground yet on the balance sheets contributing to the paper value of the big companies. Either they leave most of it below ground or we’re cooked. Guess which option Big Carbon prefers.

  16. 266
    Chris Dudley says:

    Pete (#265),

    Mineral rights leases and options then? That doesn’t sound like the main cost in developing oil wells. Wouldn’t that be casings and drill rig rental and royalties, expenses that are incurred close to and during production? I’m just not too sure that they have much to cry about.

  17. 267
    DIOGENES says:

    Kevin McKinney #261,

    ” “German unemployment fell more than twice as much as forecast in April in a sign that Europe’s largest economy will continue to lead the recovery in the euro area.”

    …color me unimpressed with your crystal ball.”

    Let me clue you in: high/rising energy prices do not lead to economic recovery or growth. If German unemployment fell twice as much as forecast in April, then it would have fallen even more than that in the absence of high energy prices. How much more? We would need to re-run the experiment to get the hard data.

    Some further independent views on renewables (which by the way is a misnomer; only the energy source is ‘renewable’, the plant and other supporting infrastructure (conversion and distribution) are decidedly not ‘renewable’.)

    From the Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/01/economist-explains-0

    “But countries with large amounts of renewable generation, such as Denmark and Germany, face the highest energy prices in the rich world. In Britain electricity from wind farms costs twice as much as that from traditional sources; solar power is even more dear.

    A more fundamental challenge is that renewable generators also impose costs on the wider electricity grid. The best sites are often far from big cities (on Scottish hillsides, French lakes or American deserts) which makes them expensive to connect. Many common types of renewable generators only produce power intermittently—when the sun shines or when the wind blows. Wind turbines, for example, spin only about a third of the time. That means countries which have a lot of renewable generation must still pay to maintain traditional kinds of power stations ready to fire up when demand peaks. And energy from these stations also becomes more expensive because they may not run at full-blast.”

    From Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-24/japan-s-high-cost-renewable-energy-curbs-subsidy-impact.html

    “High costs are one of the largest impediments to a wider uptake of clean energy in Japan”

    From OilPrice: http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Renewable-Energy/The-Ten-Reasons-Why-Intermittency-is-a-Problem-for-Renewable-Energy.html

    “4. Even if wind is “renewable,” it isn’t necessarily long lived.

    Manufacturers of wind turbines claim lives of 20 to 25 years. This compares to life spans of 40 years or more for coal, gas, and nuclear. One recent study suggests that because of degraded performance, it may not be economic to operate wind turbines for more than 12 to 15 years.”

  18. 268

    #265-6–

    I agree that the article could be more specific.

    FWIW, I’m thinking not so much the *costs* of the rights, as the current “street value” of the FF. That, after all, is what would be ‘evaporating’ in an energy deflation scenario.

  19. 269

    #267–

    I’ve read the Economist article–actually, I’m a subscriber. Of course there can be costs to developing renewables. But that’s true of any energy development–and it’s also true that the economic effect of such activity is stimulative.

    But what I want to know is, who are you, and what have you done with the DIOGENES who wad always going on about the need for sacrifice snd deprivation in order to address the climate crisis? He’d have been applauding the economic hardship, as Killian did at #263.

    Oh, and the ‘one study’ on the degradation of wind turbine performance has bren thoroughly debunked.

  20. 270
  21. 271
    DIOGENES says:

    #264,

    “Reversing Climate Change Achievable by Farming Organically Rodale Institute”

    I frankly don’t understand the logic of different posters here. We are in the most serious crisis civilization has faced with regard to its existence. One would think that we would PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS in any approach recommendations we make. Yet, we see piecemeal recommendations like this one, or piecemeal recommendations of other types.

    We are out of carbon budget if we want to stay within survivable temperature limits. We need to implement ALL the elements of my fully-integrated self-sufficient plan in PARALLEL if we are to have ANY chance of avoiding the climate Apocalypse. There is a time-critical issue that requires PARALLEL implementation. This would include all aspects of rapid carbon recovery from the atmosphere (including optimal combinations of regenerative organic farming, reforestation, et al), the most stringent demand reductions possible starting NOW, rapid implementation of only the MINIMAL low-carbon technology ESSENTIAL FOR SURVIVAL, and possibly short-term implementation of geo-engineering to insure we get over the interim temperature peak.

    If the Rodale approach “could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices,” as stated in the Report’s Executive Summary, let’s use that as a starting point. Add in the other elements of my plan to drive the CO2 concentration as far down as we can, and hopefully reverse some of these positive feedback mechanisms we have unleashed.

    Now, a question to those knowledgeable about regenerative organic farming. We buy almost all our food organically grown. It is not cheap compared to regular supermarket fare, and the price seems to have increased substantially over the recent past. We do it because we believe it contributes to good health. How will most people in this world be able to afford it, and will the price decrease with larger-scale implementation? I have seen comments on some of the climate sites by people with experience in organic farming stating flatly that, while effective on a small scale, organic farming could not support the 7+ billion inhabitants of this planet? Is this true?

  22. 272
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by DIOGENES — 3 May 2014 @ 7:41 AM, ~#267

    You say that- “high/rising energy prices do not lead to economic recovery or growth” and then reference the Economist, Bloomberg, and Oilprice.com to support your contention that renewable energy is anti-growth because it is more expensive than fossil energy. As the only well understood and actually practical way to achieve demand reduction and reduce growth is for price to increase, you are arguing against demand reduction and for a growth economy with continuing fossil fuel use.

    Steve

  23. 273
    DIOGENES says:

    Kevin McKinney #269,

    “But what I want to know is, who are you, and what have you done with the DIOGENES who wad always going on about the need for sacrifice snd deprivation in order to address the climate crisis? He’d have been applauding the economic hardship, as Killian did at #263.”

    There is, as usual, no inconsistency between my postings on renewables and my statements about the need for hardship, sacrifice, and deprivation. My purpose in posting these articles was to show that renewables are not the panacea that is advertised, and their massive introduction would not lead to the fictitious ‘prosperity’ that has been advertised. In my fully-integrated self-consistent plan, under the Lifestyle Maintenance component, I include rapid implementation of low carbon technologies and energy efficiency improvement technologies. I also have stated on numerous occasions that all non-essential energy expenditures be eliminated as rapidly as possible, and thus the low carbon technologies implemented would only be those necessary for survival.

    Bottom Line: for renewables, the energy source is plentiful and ‘free’, but the associated infrastructure for conversion and distribution is not, and has its own environmental and cost impacts. We may need them to prevent utter chaos, but we should use no more than the minimum necessary for survival.

  24. 274
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #272,

    ” You say that- “high/rising energy prices do not lead to economic recovery or growth” and then reference the Economist, Bloomberg, and Oilprice.com to support your contention that renewable energy is anti-growth because it is more expensive than fossil energy. As the only well understood and actually practical way to achieve demand reduction and reduce growth is for price to increase, you are arguing against demand reduction and for a growth economy with continuing fossil fuel use.”

    I have responded on this point to Kevin McKinney, who raised the similar issue. There is no inconsistency with my oft-stated policy for climate change amelioration.

  25. 275

    #273–A pompous way of admitting that you’ve been arguing a strawman, then; I’ve never claimed that renewables are anything like a ‘panacea.’

    In my opinion, their recent rapid expansion is helpful, hopeful, and intrinsically fascinating. But I don’t view it as a guarantee of anything–as remarkable as it’s been, we still need more than an order of magnitude more. And as we all agree (I think) we need to make sure that added clean generation capacity actually does go to reducing emissions.

    Those two points would be the leading items on my ‘action plan’–if anyone were to ask me, that is. 1) Implement clean energy as quickly as possible, which right now means renewables backed with some nuclear power and lots of efficiency measures, and
    2) Restructure regulatory, financial, and fiscal regimes to discourage carbon emissions.

    3) And keep assessing 1& 2–only operational experience will make clear what does and doesn’t wowork in the real world–not to mention discovering what else may need to be done.

  26. 276
    Chuck Hughes says:

    DIOGENES, I appreciate your ideas and intellect on what to do about the Climate situation. I’m not sure what you intend to do with all of that here. It seems to me it has to be implemented by people with the capacity to get it done. In the mean time, you’re sucking all the air out of the room by repeating yourself end over end. I love dialogue and debate but this has become the “DIOGENES SHOW”, yet again.

    Take a hint man! When the moderators have to dedicate a “personal thread” to your comments it’s getting serious. (I wouldn’t take that as a complement either.)

    “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” ― George Burns

    “Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination.” ― Louise Brooks

    And my personal favorite, probably because it’s short:

    “Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

  27. 277
    DIOGENES says:

    Chuck Hughes #276,

    “I love dialogue and debate but this has become the “DIOGENES SHOW”, yet again…..Take a hint man! When the moderators have to dedicate a “personal thread” to your comments it’s getting serious”

    I have difficulty responding to comments such as yours. They are vague and completely non-specific. If there is a post, or series of posts, to which you object, please identify them and state your objections as specifically as possible. Then we have a tangible basis on which to conduct a discussion.

    I don’t know why the moderators allowed the March thread to continue, and neither do you. I would guess our speculations as to why would be far different. My posts are deadly serious, to match the deadly serious problem that we face. There is much misinformation and disinformation being disseminated about the nature of the problem and the nature of the solution required, and it is not limited to sites like WUWT. My posts tend to challenge the promulgators of disinformation to substantiate their views, including those who do not provide the full truth. Many people are unhappy with such a posting philosophy; that’s why many of the comments made on my posts have nothing to do with the substance, but are general personal attacks.

    If you don’t like my posts, don’t read them.

  28. 278
    DIOGENES says:

    “#273–A pompous way of admitting that you’ve been arguing a strawman, then; I’ve never claimed that renewables are anything like a ‘panacea.’”

    Re-read #273; nowhere do I state that you, Kevin McKinney, made that claim.

    “Those two points would be the leading items on my ‘action plan’–if anyone were to ask me, that is. 1) Implement clean energy as quickly as possible, which right now means renewables backed with some nuclear power and lots of efficiency measures, and
    2) Restructure regulatory, financial, and fiscal regimes to discourage carbon emissions.”

    A ‘tag team’ member who posts recommendations that he will stand behind; will wonders never cease? Have I become your Role Model?

    A few questions on your recommendations. What targets (peak temperatures and/or concentration profiles, etc) will they achieve, and what will be their specific contributions toward these targets? What specific regulations and financial regimes would you propose to discourage carbon emissions; mandating elimination of all non-essential fossil fuel expenditures, for example?

  29. 279
    Hank Roberts says:

    Please, please, use the dedicated topic our hosts keep open:

    … the UV Mar 2014 thread open for more Dio …

    Click the link. Go there. Do that.

    Coloring outside the lines is freedom, in kindergarden.
    Driving outside the lines is *icide, in traffic.
    In conversation, it’s courtesy to try to keep yourself focused.

    Worth the effort you put into it. Focused means findable later.

  30. 280
    DIOGENES says:

    Pete Best #69 – May 2014 – Unforced Variations,

    “Something very political is going on and although its advised by science it’s not the science that is truly represented but a ghost of it, one that gives hope to politicians but is not based on reality.”

    Very true; what’s political going on is politicians listening to their constituents and carrying out their wishes. Their constituents are saying: We want more, more of everything, more consumption. And, this holds true for the developing nations, such as India and China, and the developed nations, such as the USA and UK. Until we accept that this is the problem, we will never be able to solve it.

    Are there enablers; yes, indeed? The large energy companies, all the industries associated with them, and individuals like the Koch Brothers as well. But, they are enablers, not prime drivers. And, I don’t see how to turn the ship around. The desire for more ‘things’ has become part of our fibre, and the people of this planet are voting with their feet on how they are willing to make the tradeoff between having it NOW and protecting the future of their grandchildren.

  31. 281
    OnceJolly says:

    @252 SecularAnimist

    Recent research by Ken Olson suggests that some skepticism is in order with regards to the claims of the Rodale Institute regarding the potential for soil sequestration:

    https://www.soils.org/discover-soils/story/researchers-question-published-no-till-soil-organic-carbon-sequestration-rates

  32. 282
    DIOGENES says:

    OnceJolly #281,

    Interesting point about the potential for no-till soil organic carbon sequestration, and parallels some recent papers on the young trees/mature trees differences in sequestration during reforestation. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use both; we should. It does mean we need to place prime emphasis on what we know will work: the most stringent reduction in demand we as a society can tolerate! We need ALL OF THE ABOVE, AND MORE!!!

  33. 283
    Pete Best says:

    Re #280 – I dont know how it will be turned around in time to avoid 2C (probably not to be fair) and hence its a 3 to 4C world we will need to aim for. All that we can hope for is that these climate talks that have been going on since 1992 will by 2015-2020 agree what is to be done and indeed can be done.

    Personally just to see an end to coal would be the easiest technical win as base load power is the easiest to replace and lots of energy solutions await their chance to replace coal. Coal produces the most Co2 and is the most polluting and hence technically and medically it is a good one to target. However, political and economic forces might think differently as it changes a lot of issues for them including costs, growth, impact and not to mention those vested interests. Coal though will need to be the first to go.

  34. 284
    Hank Roberts says:

    See “… the UV Mar 2014 thread open for more Dio …”

  35. 285
    SecularAnimist says:

    OnceJolly wrote (#281): “Recent research by Ken Olson suggests that some skepticism is in order with regards to the claims of the Rodale Institute regarding the potential for soil sequestration.”

    With all due respect, I suggest you read the Rodale white paper more closely.

    The article you linked to, which discusses Ken Olson’s research, begins with this:

    For the past 20 years, researchers have published soil organic carbon sequestration rates. Many of these findings have suggested that soil organic carbon (SOC) can be sequestered in soil, or stored long-term, simply by switching from conventional tillage to no-till systems.

    But a growing body of research indicates that no-till systems in corn and soybean rotations without cover crops, small grains, and forages may not be increasing SOC stocks at published rates.

    What the Rodale white paper is talking about — “regenerative organic agriculture” — is NOT “simply switching from conventional tillage to no-till systems”.

    As the Rodale paper explains:

    Regenerative organic agriculture is comprised of organic practices including (at a minimum): cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation … these practices minimize biota disturbance and erosion losses while incorporating carbon rich amendments and retaining the biomass of roots and shoots, all of which contribute to carbon sequestration by photosynthetic removal and retention of atmospheric CO2 in soil organic mattter … This long-term integrated approach builds soil health, providing nutrients, pest and disease resistance.

    The paper also notes that “reduced or no-till is only a boon to greenhouse gas emissions reduction when it is practiced within organic systems”.

    Skepticism is always in order, but it sounds to me like Ken Olson’s research supports Rodale’s findings rather than calling them into question.

  36. 286
    OnceJolly says:

    @285 SecularAnimist

    Olson’s work is about both problems with defining what soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration means and issues around how it’s measured. Unless the Rodale Institute (and the previous studies that they reference) were exempt from the issues that Olson identifies, I don’t any justification for your claim that he is somehow supporting the white paper. For example,

    “Comparison studies with one treatment as the baseline (usually conventional tillage) or control and other tillage such as no-till as the experimental treatment should not be used to determine SOC sequestration if soil samples are only collected and tested once during or at the end of the study,” Olson said. The comparison method assumes the conventional tillage baseline to be at a steady state and having the same amount of SOC at the beginning and at the end of the long-term study, and this may not be true. No-till as the experiment treatment needs to be compared to itself on the same soils over time to determine if SOC sequestration has really occurred.

    http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/new-protocol-recommendations-measuring-soil-organic-carbon-sequestration

  37. 287
    DIOGENES says:

    OnceJolly #281/286,

    For a broader perspective on the issue of soil and vegetation management for carbon sequestration, I have appended some recent references (titles only). What strikes me about these peer-reviewed papers (and many others I have read) is the relatively large uncertainty about the potential benefits of the various approaches, based on a large number of actual experiences across the planet. There will certainly be benefit from improved soil and vegetation management practices, but it would be very risky to place too many eggs in this basket at this time for mitigation planning purposes. Our first priority must be what we know will work, supplemented by the improved soil and vegetation management practices.

    That’s my main problem with Hansen’s plan, as stated in his recent Plos One paper. He couples the level of demand reduction starting NOW to the level of reforestation for the period 2030-2080. It is risky in the extreme to depend on commitments fifteen years out (and fifty years following that) being honored to the letter, and even if they are honored, the level of benefits is highly uncertain based on today’s knowledge. I am somewhat amazed that his many co-authors bought off on such a plan. In my plan, I have placed highest priority on implementing what we know will work NOW (the most stringent demand reduction starting NOW), and second highest priority on implementing carbon sequestration starting NOW (not in 2030).

    SOIL AND VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PAPERS FOR CARBON SEQUESTRATION
    Global soil carbon: understanding and managing the largest terrestrial carbon pool
    A synthesis of change in deep soil organic carbon stores with afforestation of agricultural soils
    A wide view of no-tillage practices and soil organic carbon sequestration
    Aboveground productivity and soil carbon storage of biofuel crops in Ohio
    Accumulation of carbon and nitrogen in the plant-soil system after afforestation of active sand dunes in China’s Horqin Sandy Land
    Agricultural activities and the global carbon cycle
    Anthropogenic changes and the global carbon cycle
    Balancing the global carbon budget
    Breeding crop plants with deep roots: their role in sustainable carbon, nutrient and water sequestration
    Carbon accumulation in agricultural soils after afforestation: a meta-analysis
    Carbon and greenhouse gas mitigation through soil carbon sequestration potential of adaptive agriculture and agroforestry systems
    Carbon emissions from land use and land-cover change
    Carbon losses from soil and its consequences for land-use management
    Carbon sequestration studies in agroforestry systems: a reality-check
    Carbon sequestration via wood harvest and storage: An assessment of its harvest potential
    Changes in organic carbon stocks upon land use conversion in the Brazilian Cerrado: A review
    Comparison of carbon sequestration potential in agricultural and afforestation farming systems
    Conservation Agriculture and Soil Carbon Sequestration: Between Myth and Farmer Reality
    Deep Soil Horizons: Contribution and Importance to Soil Carbon Pools and in Assessing Whole-Ecosystem Response to Management and Global Change
    Dynamics of decadally cycling carbon in subsurface soils
    Effect of soil reclamation process on soil C fractions
    Effectiveness of the strategies to combat land degradation and drought
    Enhancing ecosystem services with no-till
    Enhancing soil carbon storage for carbon remediation: potential contributions and constraints by microbes
    Food security, climate change, and sustainable land management. A review
    Forest management and soil respiration: Implications for carbon sequestration
    Global potential of soil carbon sequestration to mitigate the greenhouse effect
    Greenhouse gas mitigation with agricultural land management activities in the United States-a side-by-side comparison of biophysical potential
    Historical and future perspectives of global soil carbon response to climate and land-use changes
    How strongly can forest management influence soil carbon sequestration?
    Impact of global warming on soil organic carbon
    Impacts of organic matter amendments on carbon and nitrogen dynamics in grassland soils
    Is soil carbon disappearing? The dynamics of soil organic carbon in Java
    Large-scale sequestration of atmospheric carbon via plant roots in natural and agricultural ecosystems: why and how
    Long-term impact of farming practices on soil organic carbon and nitrogen pools and microbial biomass and activity
    Long-Term Impacts of Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers on Carbon Sequestration in Aggregates of an Entisol in Mediterranean Turkey
    Long-term tillage effects on soil carbon storage and carbon dioxide emissions in continuous corn cropping system from an alfisol in Ohio
    Management opportunities for enhancing terrestrial carbon dioxide sinks
    Managing soil carbon for climate change mitigation and adaptation in Mediterranean cropping systems: A meta-analysis
    Managing Soils and Ecosystems for Mitigating Anthropogenic Carbon Emissions and Advancing Global Food Security
    Managing soils for a warming earth in a food-insecure and energy-starved world
    Mechanisms of carbon sequestration in soil aggregates
    No-tillage and soil-profile carbon sequestration: An on-farm assessment
    Opportunities and Challenges of Soil Carbon Sequestration by Conservation Agriculture in China
    Organic carbon stocks in Mediterranean soil types under different land uses (Southern Spain)
    Organic matter stabilization in soil microaggregates: implications from spatial heterogeneity of organic carbon contents and carbon forms
    Physical and chemical protection in hierarchical soil aggregates regulates soil carbon and nitrogen recovery in restored perennial grasslands
    Projected changes in soil organic carbon stocks of China’s croplands under different agricultural managements, 2011-2050
    Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting agricultural management for climate change in developing countries: providing the basis for action
    Sensitivity of soil organic carbon stocks and fractions to different land-use changes across Europe
    Sequestering carbon in soils of agro-ecosystems
    Sequestration through forestry and agriculture
    Soil carbon change and its responses to agricultural practices in Australian agro-ecosystems: A review and synthesis
    Soil carbon management and climate change
    Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change
    Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change and advance food security
    Soil carbon sequestration: an innovative strategy for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration
    Soil carbon: A measure of ecosystem response in a changing world?
    Soil information in support of policy making and awareness raising
    Soil profile carbon and nitrogen in prairie, perennial grass-legume mixture and wheat-fallow production in the central High Plains, USA
    Soils and food sufficiency. A review
    Spatially-explicit regional-scale prediction of soil organic carbon stocks in cropland using environmental variables and mixed model approaches
    Special Issue: Soil as a Source & Sink for Greenhouse Gases Foreword
    Stability and saturation of soil organic carbon in rice fields: evidence from a long-term fertilization experiment in subtropical China
    Strategies for carbon sequestration in agricultural soils in northern Europe
    The contribution of switchgrass in reducing GHG emissions
    The cost of mitigation strategies for agricultural adaptation to global change
    The depth distribution of soil organic carbon in relation to land use and management and the potential of carbon sequestration in subsoil horizons
    The effect of the tillage system on soil organic carbon content under moist, cold-temperate conditions
    The knowns, known unknowns and unknowns of sequestration of soil organic carbon
    Tillage System and Cover Crop Effects on Soil Quality: I. Chemical, Mechanical, and Biological Properties

  38. 288
    DIOGENES says:

    Walter,

    “iow Diogenes radical plans and ideas are closer to a realistic solution than any other known to man at this point.”

    There’s somewhat of a redundancy with use of the word ‘radical’. ANY plan whose goal is to avoid the impending climate Apocalypse must of necessity be ‘radical’. The targets are challenging to the extreme, and ANY actions taken to meet them must be far from the ordinary. The reason the actions in my plan seem radical is that the preponderance of plans/proposals posted on this blog have no chance of meeting the required targets for averting the climate Apocalypse, and therefore the actions in these plans are relatively mild.

    There are basically two components to any climate change amelioration plan for avoiding the Apocalypse: MASSIVE demand reduction and MASSIVE carbon removal. That’s it! Period! The demand reduction component has two sub-components, one weak and one strong. The weak component is substitution of low carbon and energy efficient technologies for fossil and less efficient technologies; the strong component is eliminating all non-essential uses of fossil energy NOW, and sharply reducing consumption.

    There are three plans of which I am aware that offer a CHANCE of avoiding the climate Apocalypse, assuming that a CHANCE is still available: Hansen’s, Killian’s, and mine. Hansen’s requires massive reforestation for carbon removal, and quasi-massive demand reduction. It has a fundamental flaw, in my estimation. The level of demand reduction required starting TODAY is determined by the amount of reforestation starting in 2030, and continuing for fifty years. To base one’s actions TODAY on commitments for decades out is an unabashed formula for disaster!

    I have not seen Killian’s plan in a format where I can compare with mine, Anderson’s, Hansen’s, etc (temperature and/or concentration peak targets, major categories of actions required and how each will contribute to achieving the targets), but the general actions proposed appear to be massive doses of the two required components. My plan REQUIRES the strongest possible demand reduction starting as soon as possible, and the strongest possible carbon removal starting as soon as possible. Anything less (e.g., Hansen’s plan) only increases the risk of an already highly risky situation.

  39. 289
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    The new Ding et al. paper “Tropical forcing of the recent rapid Arctic warming in northeastern Canada and Greenland” is a fine illustration of why, in climate science, one must constantly think both globally and locally. As the discussion here says

    New research suggests that about half of the recent rapid warming seen in the atmosphere above Greenland and northeastern Canada over the last 30 years can be traced to changes in sea surface temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

    and said sea surface temp (SST) changes are evidently taken to be unforced natural variation. But discussion here indicates that these SST changes may be forced by humans after all. RC’s Eric Steig is a co-author. I hope we may hear his take on this.

    Qinghua Ding, John M. Wallace, David S. Battisti, Eric J. Steig, Ailie J. E. Gallant, Hyung-Jin Kim & Lei Geng
    Tropical forcing of the recent rapid Arctic warming in northeastern Canada and Greenland

    [Response: I must say that I was very surprised to see the claim made that because some pattern isn't common to the CMIP5 simulated response, it must therefore reflect natural variability. This is of course not valid scientific reasoning. Just as plausible is the scenario that the models are not capturing an important forced dynamical response of the climate. We of course discussed that possibility specifically with regard to forced SST changes in the tropical Pacific, in this previous RealClimate piece based on our 2009 Science article. -mike]

  40. 290
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Pete Best @ 283
    >just to see an end to coal would be the easiest technical win

    Less technically:
    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-day-they-red-dogged-coal.html

  41. 291
  42. 292
    DIOGENES says:

    Pete Dunkelberg #290,

    According to the EIA forecast (see URL below), coal consumption will increase by 50% annually in the next three decades. People can spin this all they want, and quote from isolated disinvestments, but as long as the public wants what the product provides, it will be delivered. Renewables/nuclear?? We’ll get them along with the coal (aka all of the above).

    “http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/coal.cfm”

  43. 293
    DIOGENES says:

    This recent paper in Science amplifies my statement in #287 about uncertainties in carbon removal that improved soil and vegetation management can provide.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6183/508.abstract

    “Faster Decomposition Under Increased Atmospheric CO2 Limits Soil Carbon Storage ”

    “Soils contain the largest pool of terrestrial organic carbon (C) and are a major source of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Thus, they may play a key role in modulating climate change. Rising atmospheric CO2 is expected to stimulate plant growth and soil C input but may also alter microbial decomposition. The combined effect of these responses on long-term C storage is unclear. Combining meta-analysis with data assimilation, we show that atmospheric CO2 enrichment stimulates both the input (+19.8%) and the turnover of C in soil (+16.5%). The increase in soil C turnover with rising CO2 leads to lower equilibrium soil C stocks than expected from the rise in soil C input alone, indicating that it is a general mechanism limiting C accumulation in soil.”

  44. 294
    SecularAnimist says:

    Recommended reading:

    China could start to cut its consumption of coal by 2020
    Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
    12 May 2014

    China’s consumption of coal could reach a peak by 2020, or even earlier, as part of its plans to pursue more sustainable economic growth, according to a new report published today (12 May 2014) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science.

    The policy paper by Fergus Green and Nicholas Stern notes that discussions are already taking place in China about the possibility of setting a target for ending the rise in its annual consumption of coal before the end of its 13th Five-Year Plan, which will cover the period from 2016 to 2020.

    The paper states: “China could intensify its efforts to reduce its reliance on coal, in the form of a plan to peak its coal consumption by 2020 (or earlier), as has been suggested as a possibility in some discussions occurring in China, and phase it out thereafter”.

    The paper, which is based on a presentation by Lord Stern to the China Development Forum in March 2014, points out that limiting coal consumption could have substantial benefits for China’s economy, including a cut in the risk of shocks to the supply of energy, reduced pressure on its water supplies, an improvement in air quality, and the mitigation of climate change.

    Phasing out the use of coal could be achieved through clear planning regulations and a coal tax, which could potentially raise revenue equivalent to between 7 and 9 per cent of China’s GDP to invest in low-carbon innovation and infrastructure, to protect poorer people from the impacts of the transition to low-carbon economic growth, and to reduce other taxes.

    The Green & Stern policy paper, “An Innovative and Sustainable Growth Path for China: A Critical Decade”, is available as a 52-page PDF.

  45. 295
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    > According to the EIA forecast (see URL below), coal consumption will increase by 50% annually in the next three decades.

    News flash: there is not that much coal in the world. ;)

    OK maybe you mean only one (1) 50% increase. But do you believe the EIA implicitly?

  46. 296
    DIOGENES says:

    Pete Dunkelberg #295,

    “OK maybe you mean only one (1) 50% increase. But do you believe the EIA implicitly?”

    Correct! It increases modestly each year, and in about three decades, the annual coal output is about 50% larger than ~2010. But, since we’re out of carbon budget NOW, this is overkill to the extreme.

    It should be obvious to you by now that I believe almost no one in this climate change amelioration game explicitly or implicitly. Due to political/financial pressures, we’re getting almost complete spin from all the players. The question comes down to what makes sense beyond all the spin I’m getting. I see no precursors or early warning indicators of any type that would tell me we’re veering away even a small amount from business as usual. I look at candidates being elected, I look at polls related to climate change, I look at investments in fossil extraction, conversion, and distribution facilities, I listen to my family/friends/neighbors, and the one conclusion I come to is there will be no deviation from the fossil path until the resource is essentially unavailable.

    The EIA projection of about 50% increase within three decades sounds about right, but whether it actually comes out to 50% or 70% or 30% or 10% is irrelevant in the bigger picture. For a straight-line increase for thirty years, a 10% end-point increase translates into 31.5 years FTE of today’s coal consumption, and a 50% end-point increase translates into 37.5 years FTE. Both are so far above what we can afford that they will lead to similar disaster.


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