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Unforced variations: July 2017

Filed under: — group @ 1 July 2017

So, big news this week: The latest update to the RSS lower troposphere temperatures (Zeke at Carbon Brief, J. Climate paper) and, of course, more chatter about the red team/blue team concept. Comments?

397 Responses to “Unforced variations: July 2017”

  1. 101
    Scott Strough says:

    @Alan #90
    You said, “What?! No one has to give up their tractors? i.e. no one has to give up industrial agriculture? (or industrial everything-else)? I thought industrial ag was unsustainable. How about everything else? (“Cars and vacations to the Bahamas” = everything else, approximately.) Is it just industrial AG that is unsustainable, but industrial-everything-else is just fine?”

    That is correct Alan. We do not have to become Neo-Luddites to sequester OVER the total emissions from ALL fossil fuel sources, if we change agriculture. If we don’t change agricultural models but just improve the systems in use now, we max out around 30-60% emissions sequestered in the soil. But if we change the systems running a tractor becomes trivially easy, either on biofuel or fossil fuels.

    To give you an idea how trivially small:
    Using this as an estimate of fuel use, Estimating Farm Fuel Requirements, we get a range of between .39 – .59 gallons of fuel to run the no till drill / acre. Using the conversion of 2.5 to convert to hectares and rounding up, we get from 1.0 to 1.5 gallons per hectare to run the no till drill.

    According to this: How much carbon dioxide is produced by burning gasoline and diesel fuel?, about 19.64 pounds to 22.38 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) are produced per gallon depending on the fuel used.

    Lets just say you have a gas guzzling old tractor and round everything up to make the math easier to understand. Say 25 pounds. So to no till drill 10 hectares would release 250 pounds of CO2, but the plants on those 10 hectares would sequester to the soil 50-200 tonnes of CO2.

    Or to frame it in your terms: 250 pounds CO2 = 0.113398 tCO2
    So the number of hectares required to offset the no till drill on 10 ha is approximately in the range of .001 hectares +/-.

    For some reason people have great difficulties conceptualizing how profoundly significant soil sequestration of CO2 really can be in terms of offsetting emissions and reversing AGW. Most the numbers you are getting are based on maximum rates of sequestration without changing agricultural models. What I have been proposing is based on a new understanding of the soil dynamics not even dreamed of prior to 1996. Even people who accidently managed those types of results couldn’t consistently repeat them because they had no idea what was happening in the biochemical pathways deep in the soil.
    Sara F. Wright USDA discovered it and Dr Jones CSIRO + Kristine A. Nichols usda and many more are taking that discovery to the next level and in a form farmers can use. It is no exaggeration to say that the 150 years prior to 1996 what I have been saying was thought impossible. In the rare cases it was observed it was considered a 1-off outlier. Now farmers who have been working with Dr Jones Dr Nichols and others are able to CONSISTENTLY repeat it in all conditions arable and grazing lands having between 10 and 100 inches of rainfall per year. That’s almost everything.

    I still claim we need renewable energy. It is still unsustainable eventually for a host of other reasons. But if you are serious about solving AGW with all positive social and economic side effects and no net cost at all, step aside and let us farmers save your sorry butts yet again! Just stop trying to drive us off our land and quit closing down all the local abattoirs.

    I’ll never forget my first talk with Gabe Brown about pastured poultry. He had huge demand. The knowledge and means to fill that demand. But not a single processing facility in the entire state of Nebraska! Every single one in the entire state shut down. So he was limited to the few he and his son could butcher themselves. Not many. It is worse for hogs and beef. There is no minimum amount you can slaughter yourself on farm. Best way to attract a swat team is just try selling ungraded beef or pork, even though the primary purposes for those laws were to shut down abuses found in huge mega slaughter houses like exposed in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, starting in the 1960s they were modified and began to be used to force the closure of all the butcher shops and local abattoirs nationwide. This was to, as stated before multiple times, fit Butz’s idea of what an efficient industrialized system should be and drive all the rest of the farmers off their land. This is how monopolies take hold, by preventing competition. Just try and ask a Smithfield facility to butcher and process your hams? You think Tyson will butcher your poultry for you? They don’t even allow their own contracted farmers to own the chickens they raise!
    So the Trusts can vertically integrate, but the farmer is forbidden to vertically stack? Again, please read “Everything I want to do is Illegal” by Joel Salatin

    We do not have to spend tax money to reverse AGW. No odious regulations are needed. All we need to do is stop spending billions to prevent mitigation.

  2. 102
    nigelj says:

    Scott Strough @101

    I read some discussion over on SkSc on soil sequestration of carbon. It’s clear this is possible, and I think it has plenty of potential, but nobody was able to show clear evidence of how much is possible, and how long it takes, etc.

    It also requires pretty massive changes in farm practices. Again, you have to convince literally millions, even hundreds of millions of farmers. Whats your plan to do this, if not by some form of regulation, tax, subsidy or inducement? Do you think they will do it, if you just ask nicely?

  3. 103
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @92, yeah I accept it could be special pleading. I will take your word for it. I just don’t know your American law and issues well enough to comment. We mostly all want to make a profit if we are honest with ourselves.

    I suppose one could argue small family farmers may love the land and take more care than profit hungry corporates, but I need to see reasonable proof. And as a gut reaction I’m not sure there would be that much difference. Anyone can cut corners.

    I think its more about good environmental standards and enforcing those. Obviously that would apply to all players.

    However just in general terms the large guys have a lot of market power. I have quite a bit of sympathy for the small guy. This issue seems to be more pronounced in farming, than other industries from my observations.

    But until I see someone with a very specific idea of what the state should do to support small guys, or control the large guys, its hard to say. I don’t oppose support, subsidies, etc, but need to see something specific, and a clear rationale and evidence of why its justified.

    Maybe its also more a question of general community values and encouraging sustainability, education, etc. Things are changing where I live. Even some of the corporates are getting their acts together regarding the environment.

    The threat of regulation is also quite useful!

  4. 104
    jgnfld says:


    No. Differences in rates of change are important.

  5. 105
    zebra says:

    alan2102 and nigelj, with respect to Scott and Killian,

    See– you are never going to get an answer. You will get rearranged cut-and-paste memes, just like you do from various other inhabitants of various other bubbles. And if they are self-contradictory, that’s OK too.

    Let’s consider one of the many questions not addressed, which is labor.

    The Evil Earl Butz meme is instructive. While some of the motivations attributed to him are certainly real, the lack of context is misleading.

    During WWII, many US “farmboys” were in the military. Unlike what happened after WWI, an effort was made to accommodate their return to civilian life. The GI bill provided various forms of assistance, in the form of education, low cost mortgages, and business loans.

    So, amazingly enough, having seen Paree, and with a growing manufacturing economy, many of them chose a life with a well-paid eight-hour day indoors, a house in the tract suburbs (built on former farmland), a new car every few years, and hopefully obedient Stepford wives and children.

    In contrast to back-breaking manual labor for little return in difficult conditions for the entire family, which is what they had experienced pre-war.

    Earl Butz isn’t responsible for that. By that time, farming already involved industrial techniques and, as I mentioned, near-slave labor from migrants of various kinds.

    The reality, as alan said, is that most (“White”, Northern,) people have zero interest in that kind of employment. Indeed, alan’s suggestion about convincing half the population to be vegan sounds more likely, and it would achieve a similar goal with respect to corn production.

    So I think the final paragraph of #101 validates what I said in #92. Sorry nigel, but these people want less government regulation, both health and environmental. They sound a bit like the Bundy guy, who wants to graze cattle and make money wherever he feels like.

  6. 106
    Mal Adapted says:

    Interesting Brad Plumer piece in the NYT this morning: When Will Electric Cars Go Mainstream? It May Be Sooner Than You Think. He’s mostly reporting on Bloomberg’s Electric Vehicle Outlook 2017.

    Plumer’s piece is in the good news, bad news journalistic tradition. This news is good IMHO:

    Between 2025 and 2030, the group predicts, plug-in vehicles will become cost competitive with traditional petroleum-powered cars, even without subsidies, and even before taking fuel savings into account. Once that happens, mass adoption should quickly follow.


    the Bloomberg report warns that plug-in vehicles may have a difficult time making inroads in dense urban areas, and that infrastructure bottlenecks may slow the growth of electric vehicles after 2040.

    Another potential hurdle may be the automakers themselves. While most manufacturers are introducing plug-in models in the United States to comply with stricter fuel-economy standards, they don’t always market them aggressively…Car dealerships also remain reluctant to display and sell electric models, which often require less maintenance and are less profitable for their service departments.

    The ‘free’ market rears its head. Now we get to the reason I posted:

    Raw economics may help overcome such barriers, Mr. McKerracher said. He pointed to Norway, where heavy taxes on petroleum-powered vehicles and generous subsidies for electric vehicles have created price parity between the two. As a result, plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars in Norway now make up 37 percent of all new sales, up from 6 percent in 2013.

    US Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment now!

  7. 107

    #95, #100, Hank Roberts: Thank you for your comment. At least that principia site is not well known. Sadly the Murdoch press is unrepentant, the following link is an example of their propaganda:

  8. 108
    Mal Adapted says:

    This paragraph from Brad Plumer’s NYT article stands out:

    [compared to Exxon-Mobil’s forecast,]
    The Bloomberg forecast is far more aggressive , projecting that plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles will make up 54 percent of new light-duty sales globally by 2040, outselling their combustion engine counterparts.

    The reason? Batteries. Since 2010, the average cost of lithium-ion battery packs has plunged by more than one third, to around $300 per kilowatt-hour. The Bloomberg report sees that falling to $73 by 2030 without any significant technological breakthroughs, as companies like Tesla increase battery production in massive factories, optimize the design of battery packs and improve chemistries.

    I presume Bloomberg New Energy Finance wouldn’t project that unless they were confident. Does it seem reasonable to y’all, though?

  9. 109
    killian says:

    Dear Zebra, you’re joke. Not a funny joke, but a joke. Petulant and childish.

    The rest of you, you have not clue whatsoever what simplicity means in this context, thus, you understand little of what you are led to. Horses and water and all that.

    Still, will chime in when time allows.

    Scott Strough, your simplistic plan is… my plan, with LESS detail, less insight, unsustainable solutions, but you guys are critiquing mine and not Scott’s? Good god… the silliness…

    The problem with your plan, Scott, is it isn’t a plan. Do regenerative, more unsustainable energy, and do politics? Good lord… that’s not a plan, it’s nothing millions of people haven’t already been saying. Change Ag! Build Windmills! Ummm… make politics work… somehow…


    S I M P L I C I T Y

  10. 110
    killian says:

    Oh, and Scott Strough, like so many others, you seem to be either ignorant of resource limits or treating them like an issue of economics and simply relying on endless substitution.

    If your plan is suicide, you’ve got a plan.

    Like I said, little time. Must sleep. More later. But 90% of what you guys think is mush. FYI.

  11. 111
    mike says:

    CO2 Levels? How are we doing this week?

    July 2 – 8, 2017 407.99 ppm
    July 2 – 8, 2016 405.65 ppm
    July 2 – 8, 2005 385.26 ppm

    If we could freeze the CO2/CO2e at current level, we are probably looking at 2 degrees of warming. you can review that suggestion here:

    Look in comments for extended discussion.

    Warm regards


  12. 112
    mike says:

    Scott on sustainable agriculture practices: Yes, Wow!! Keep presenting this information. Lots of people saying “yeah, but…” “do we know how much good it will actually do?” etc.

    Those seem like perverse responses to a change in a system that is a win/win for soil, for food security, for carbon sequestration, etc. A lot of people like to get their hands in the soil, they like to grow things. We just have to keep sharing information about how to do it better. Thanks for your work at presenting this information.



  13. 113
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Apparently, humans, or humanoids, and many other creatures have survived average earth temps ranging from -10C to +5C lower and higher than current temps. Maybe we aren’t the dainty snowflakes some think we are……….

    Of course, they did not have major cities built on ocean coasts.

  14. 114
    alan2102 says:

    Scott Strough #101:

    I get that you have no objection to tractors. That surprises me, since it seems to me that tractors are as integral to industrial agriculture — which you said you reject, on account of unsustainability — as anything you can name. But so be it.

    I am still interested in what you meant when you said that “industrial ag simply isn’t sustainable”. What does that mean?

    And again: what is “industrial agriculture”? You used the phrase, so I assume that you have a definition in mind. What is it? And while you’re at it: what does “sustainable” mean?

    The main point of my initial post (#90) had to do with the great difficulty of inducing, as I said, great masses of people to take up the difficult, highly labor-intensive permacultural/Killian-esque lifestyle. But if you are NOT opposed to tractors and industrial agriculture, then that problem is solved, at least as far as you are concerned. (Killian of course may not be pleased with this resolve.)

  15. 115
    Russell says:

    ” Finding the route congested with the likes of Reince Priebus has led me to take stock, however.”
    Already noted, Mal :

  16. 116
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    77 – “You have the nerve to reference a non-peer reviewed link in The Daily Caller”

    Know the enemy. Battle the enemy, or remain dull and complacent.

  17. 117
    Scott Strough says:

    @102 nigelj,
    Not sure you quite understand yet. I don’t think it has really fully sunk in what is happening. If you are spending billions of dollars and passing hundreds of odious heavy handed regulatory obstetrical to prevent a certain change from happening in some kind of neo-Luddite mistaken dynamic long obsolete, then it is the easiest thing in the world to fix. Stop the subsidies and revoke the regulatory burden and it will change like opening the floodgates!

    The current unsustainable business models contributing to AGW would collapse in year one. It would take a bit longer to fully train and implement the new regenerative models, mostly due to training. But it would start fast. Nothing motivates like an empty stomach.

    Now if you want to make a more controlled change, you could do that too. Slowly reduce the billions subsidizing corn and soy overproduction (by changing the buffer stock scheme targets) and use the savings from that to build the infrastructure required. Once the infrastructure including training of new farmers eager to go is done……..then drop the subsidies preventing change to sustainable agriculture.

    If you want to put a special emphasis on carbon sequestration as a priority, it is easy enough. @ a carbon market value of 25 dollars a ton the new models of production sequestering 5 – 25 tonnes/acre /year leaves a nice tidy profit for the carbon farmer of $125 – $625 per acre! That’s NOT counting his crops which themselves are far more profitable without all the expensive inputs required in the modern industrialized chemical based models of production.

    However, with or without the carbon price there is an economic incentive to sequester carbon as it is the carbon that is the key to making the new regenerative models work and be profitable. So with or without intervention the economic pressures will force the change once the current subsidies and regulatory burden are dropped.

  18. 118
    Scott Strough says:

    Pardon the autocorrect spelling error. Obstacle.

  19. 119

    Vendicar Decarian @72

    “Study Finds Temperature Adjustments Account For ‘Nearly All Of The Warming’ In Climate Data – IDSO”

    My post: An ignorant proposal for a BEST project rip-off

  20. 120
    Phil Scadden says:

    KIA – absolute temperatures (within reason) are not the issue – rate of change is. Our cities, infrastructure and agricultural systems were built in a relatively stable climate. Natural adaptation systems also work well only for slow rate of change – too fast and get mass extinctions.

  21. 121
    Mal Adapted says:

    Scott Strough:

    Pardon the autocorrect spelling error. Obstacle.

    I thought you were arguing for throwing the baby out with the bathwater 8^)!

  22. 122
    Mal Adapted says:

    Reactionary without a clue:

    maybe we aren’t the dainty snowflakes some think we are……….

    Speak for yourself. Snowflakes have rights too. And we can bury you in an avalanche.

  23. 123
    nigelj says:

    Killian @109

    For the sake of argument lets assume your small farmer is better, (and I will say I have some sympathy that it might). You have absolutely not presented a plan of how you get there! You are talking wishful thinking. You have also launched a series of ad hominem attacks on us.

    It’s not inevitable that people would go back to the land, even in a global warming disaster type scenario. Corporates are powerful. People have also become very urbanised like Zebra says. And I assume you dont want to wait until absolute disaster strikes.

    It’s one of those things where you would need some state involvement, which might be justified (if the evidence really does favour your views). You might need government financial assistance to help smaller farmers and families get loans, or education grants, etc. Stronger efforts might be needed to control large monopoly sized corporate farmers. I’m just picking some obvious examples.

    And we need some basic government environmental rules on soil conservation, water purity standards etc.

    I would be interested in whether you approve of this sort of thing in principle, and also in detail. If not, what on earth are you planning to do?

  24. 124
    nigelj says:

    Killian @109

    Just adding to my comment directly above, you are sort of also conflating issues about size of farms, ownership models and industrialisation. Its not clear what you really mean.

    Its hard for me to see much wrong with tractors (electric ones of course!)

    I’m not convinced ownership structure or size is the main thing.

    I do think we over use pesticides and wreck soils. Its highly desirable to have “sustainable” farming practices, minimal negative impact on land etc.

    But you will only get there with education, environmental rules, some state subsidies or controls, etc. You need to develop a plan.

  25. 125
    nigelj says:

    Scott Strough @117

    You are inconsistent at the start of your post. You criticise the regulatory burden, (excessively I think), but then promote a price on carbon, which is a form of regulation, so inconsistent rhetoric and confusing for me.

    I don’t think climate change can be resolved purely and only through soil sequestration. I see no solid evidence that this would be truly viable,(and it needs to be very good evidence), sufficient in quantities sequestered, and able to handle increasing emissions. Even if it could, the practicalities of implementation are huge, and harder than simply reducing emissions.

    In brief, I tend to believe to reduce emissions we need a combination of reductions in emissions and soil sequestration might be a useful addition.

    Reducing emissions requires a combined approach, ideally in my view a carbon price, and carbon taxes of the revenue neutral sort, and some regulation of electric power. It may also be sensible to subsidise electric cars, although this may not be required looking at how well these are advancing.

    I certainly agree get rid of corn subsidies and put that money into either soil sequestration or renewable energy.

    But explain how you would do this soil thing. How would simply throwing money at farmers work? How would you get them to spend it on better soil conservation etc?

  26. 126
    MA Rodger says:

    It’s a little more evident on the Jaxa Arctic SIE graph than NSIDC’s ChArctic graph and is very evident when the JAXA SIE anomaly is plotted (here – usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment’), – the 2017 Arctic melt season is not looking like a record-breaker.
    Up to now, and with the exception of ther crazy early melt in the spring of 2016, 2017 had been been easily a contender for ‘meltiest year on record’. Now is the time for the big daily reductions in SIE values yet this year those big values are not happening.

  27. 127
    Brian Dodge says:

    Mr. Know It All says 8 Jul 2017 at 7:02 PM
    “If the industrial revolution had not occurred, would the earth be heading into a cooling period that would be catastrophic for human life?” Nope, not catastrophic, because it would be slow enough to easily adapt(we’ll replace everything every 3000 years or less anyway), and even if we didn’t adapt, paleolithic tech would suffice for human life.

    Oldest Homo sapiens fossil claim rewrites our species’ history
    “Remains from Morocco dated to 315,000 years ago push back our species’ origins by 100,000 years — and suggest we didn’t evolve only in East Africa.”

  28. 128

    KIA 113: Apparently, humans, or humanoids, and many other creatures have survived average earth temps ranging from -10C to +5C lower and higher than current temps. Maybe we aren’t the dainty snowflakes some think we are……….

    BPL: We’re not, but our agriculture is. All human agriculture grew up when the world was at 287-288 K. The issue has never been heat per se, although AGW will bring more and deadlier heat waves. The issue is the effect of AGW on our civilization, which will be negative, to put it mildly.

  29. 129
    Mal Adapted says:


    My post: An ignorant proposal for a BEST project rip-off

    The cynical ‘Red-team’ proposal, promoted by all the usual suspects, is also the subject of a guest post on aTTP by Michael Tobis. The comments are up to 166 at the moment.

  30. 130
    Dan H. says:

    No, the Bloomburg article does not seem reaonable. While battery costs have fallen 65% since 2010, expecting battery costs to plummet another 75% seems rather optimistic. The article also assumes that oil prices will rise 50%, during that timeframe. Supply and demand economics would state that such a high drop in the demand for internal combustion vehicles should lead to a drop in oil prices.

    The other issue is government subsidies. When Hong Kong eliminated the tax creidt for electric vehicles on April 1, sales of Tesla vehicles dropped to zero. Interesting, their prediction is for pure electric vehilces, not plug-in hybrids, which they envision sales peaking in the 2030s, before falling in favor of pure electric vehicles. Currently, plug-ins account for 2% of the new car market, while pure electrics are about 0.5%. While theiir prediction is possible, it does not appear to be based on anything more substantial than a gut feeling.

  31. 131
    Victor says:

    RealClimate seems to have an evil twin. Half the time when I try to access this site I get the other one, decked out in a rather depressing black, white and gray. The list of comments is invariably incomplete, so there’s usually no point in bothering with it. I presume the blog owners are aware of this, but nothing’s been done about it for a long time. A Russian hack ordered by Putin to discourage visitations?

  32. 132
    Killian says:

    Re #114 alan2102 said inducing, as I said, great masses of people to take up the difficult, highly labor-intensive permacultural/Killian-esque lifestyle. But if you are NOT opposed to tractors and industrial agriculture, then that problem is solved, at least as far as you are concerned. (Killian of course may not be pleased with this resolve.)

    Last first: Pleased or not pleased is not an issue. I think we hinder the conversation, here and globally, by personalizing it. It’s not about want or not want, like or not like, it’s about what, objectively, is sustainable.

    “…highly labor intensive…”

    You are not quite clear on the subject. A permaculture-based food system is the opposite of this. Some examples: More reliance on perennials, so less replanting; no-till; local, so less transport time, effort, vehicles, etc.; water flow primarily passively managed once design is finalized; nature-mimicking designs like food forests require virtually no maintenance after the first 3-5 years, only some chop-and-drop trimming/mulching and harvest. Maybe 2 – 5 days a year.

    When you think of regenerative ag, you have to throw out *all* your preconceptions about farming and gardening.

    Re: Tractors, etc. Yes, they are unsustainable. That doesn’t mean there are not old/ancient technologies that can be sustainable and/or sustainable machines made, perhaps from wood or bamboo, e.g. Also, there is an issue of pre-existing infrastructure and tools. Wit hthe caveat of carbon issues, there is no reason we should not use what tools we have already created, or can sustainably or nearly sustainably recycle and make, to help create that sustainable future.

    The problem is, this is not most people’s framing of the use of tech. Worse, there are people who are supposedly regen ag VIPs who are climate deniers, or close to it, such as Salatin. Such people give little thought to extremely unsustainable choices because they are focused on the food and soil while ignoring the role of tech altogether, and even embracing it.

    Thus, the message is very mixed and often plainly wrong. Use the term “appropriate technology” to research this issue of tech, sustainability and transitioning to regen ag.

  33. 133
    Killian says:

    Re #65 nigelj said Killian @62

    You are quite convincing.

    Well, that’s a first!

    I do recall reading various articles critical of corporate industrial farming causing soil problems etc… But just assuming you are right on the economics and sustainability of small and local, what do you do? You cannot legislate to force people to follow your model.

    Nor would I want to. This conversation is not in isolation. Ag does nto stand a lone silo deep in space, right? It is within the context of rapidly changing climate and rapidly diminishing resources. There are multiple pathways to get people to awareness, but mine is reality + risk assessment + solution = change.

    This is simple: Once one understands the risks, understands the risk assessment *and* understands the solutions, one will willingly change.

    More importantly, perhaps, once one comes to full awareness, the fact facing them is: There is no choice.

    Or do you try to put a price or some sort of penalty on the damage caused by large agribusiness? Or regulate them in some way? Treat it as a tragedy of the commons issue requiring some sort of response.

    I consider this a waste of time since Sanders lost the nomination. That was the last chance we had for Big Gov to be an integral player in all this because my personal risk assessment is that we could, at any time, be in the middle of a rapid rise in temps, but political change is extremely slow. The only sane response is simplicity yesterday. So, let the system that is fall while we build the system that must be. Multiple “great” thinkers agree on this method of transition, so I can’t be too far out in the weeds.

    That makes sense to me in theory at least, but would come up against powerful political forces.

    There are more of us than them. When whole communities choose to stand for a regenerative future, it will no longer matter what power is brought to bear.

    Yes big business is supplanting small business. But again, as above, what do we do?

    Do regenerative. Really, it is that simple.

    Being devils advocate,I don’t know if small,organic and natural is better. Look at poor Indian farmers etc.

    Small, natural and organic does not equal regenerative. Very simply, perhaps too simply, regenerative is a design process as well as a system state. The former is the how you get the latter.

    Its also possible to have large scale, mechanised, organic and sustainable. Small farmers kill soils too. I think its more about management, technique, and good knowledge than scale or ownership structure.

    Nope and yep and yep and nope. Sadly, I have a class now…

    Later –> It’s also about decent and firm environmental rules, and hoping like hell government has enough courage and foresight to understand this. No hope of this with someone like Trump.

    Couple of books I have read you might find relevant: Post capitalism, by Paul Mason, (and hes not promoting communism or anything, this book is quite intriguing)

    Also how will capitalism end, by Wolfgang Streeck, and no is not enough by Naomi Klein.

  34. 134
    Scott Strough says:

    Nigelj @125,
    You are correct I am not discussing this from a dogmatically consistent panacea position. I feel strongly that all we really need to do is stop purposely preventing the change to regenerative ag with billions of dollars of corporate welfare, buffer stock schemes, and a regulatory burden that is purposely attempting to exclude cottage industry.

    However, not everyone is a fiscal conservative like me. If another nation prefers a more proactive approach, who am I to tell them no? And if some barefoot hippy dippy tribal commune wants to follow Killian’s plan, they should if it is appropriate for them. Again, who am I to tell Killian to use a tractor when Killian doesn’t want to do that? And if Killian wants to live without money, fine by me. The common factor is that all humans eat food and agricultural methods can be designed in a way that sequesters enough carbon in the soil to offset your fossil fuel use.

    Whether it is a planned economy or a free market economy, there is a way to get the carbon in the soil. That’s the important part. The rest is just creative way to remove the political and socio-economic barriers preventing it from happening already. Killian has one way and many people are attracted to it, others like me are not willing to go full on Luddite. But there clearly is more than one way to skin that cat. The biophysical doesn’t really give a damn what the politics of the farmer might be. All that matters is if the ecosystem function of carbon sequestration in the soil is restored, and on how many acres.

    I can see how you might be confused because killian keeps jumping in and obfuscating the issue with the anti capitalism, anti technology, anti pretty much everything excpt going back to living in tee-pees and/or mud huts. It can work. Tribal communities can sequester carbon too, as evidenced here:
    or we can go full scale commercial as evidenced here:
    and that in action

    Both the 2 above in dry marginal land, but it works with more moisture even better:
    And there are transitional modes that are not completely organic even:
    They still sequester more carbon than emissions by a lot. 5-20 tons/ha/yr +/- minimum. Some do much more.

    Again, I am not here to micromanage economies. That’s what got us to this point in the first place! All I am really stressing is we should not be subsidizing models of production that are causing AGW. IT IS LITERALLY INSANITY.

    But the conversation that needs to be made about the myriad ways and options that could fit with a agriculture mimicking natural ecosystem function is for each community/nation to decide.

    Oh and BTW if you are skeptical that ag would change quickly only by eliminating the massive billions supporting it unsustainably all you need to do is use Cuba as a test case.

    When the Soviet Union collapsed, they could no longer afford to subsidize Cuban ag. It immediately collapsed. Withing 2-3 years it was producing more food than before with basically no fertilizers or pesticides simply because Cuba was under embargo from US and had almost no internal manufacturing capability. They had no choice, but they did have a highly educated and motivated population that solved it fairly quickly.

    Not a perfect analogy since it is an island, but it does show that food production per acre increases, although food production per man hour labor drops.

    Personally my own research is in scaling up methods. Just because Cuba used mules because they were forced to do it, doesn’t mean we can’t figure out other ways to scale it up with tractors too.

  35. 135
    zebra says:


    Some specifics:

    With respect to your suggestion: In the US, farm subsidies are pretty much a “third rail” politically. If there is one area of true bipartisanship, that’s it; D or R, Senators from certain States only vote one way. And no Presidential candidate is ever going to Iowa to campaign against Big Corn.

    This is one of those things where we might be able to get some of the more egregious abuses reduced, but the main flow will continue. Possibly, we could go back to paying people not to grow crops, but that comes with lots of its own problems and opposing vested interests.

    Killian’s “no till” agriculture: There is now some question about whether it actually works in the long term to sequester carbon. But, it is also dependent on the use of herbicides, and we are now seeing the (inevitable) arrival of Roundup-resistant weeds to share the acreage with our GMO Roundup-resistant crops. Going “organic no-till” means more equipment and more labor.

    “Local”, from both Scott and Killian:

    Completely ignores local conditions (soils, growing seasons, climate), as I pointed out earlier. And also ignores the inefficiency in terms of transportation. It creates less CO2 to ship produce cross-country than to have lots of pickup trucks trying to move small quantities around local country roads. And, again– growing seasons!

    Anyway, I may check back on this but obviously there is not going to be any dialogue on specifics with these guys.

  36. 136
  37. 137
    Scott Strough says:

    I have already practically written a book of specifics including real world examples of rice, small grains, commodity corn soy and cotton with or without forage based animal husbandry, vegetables, orchards and vineyards with or without combined animals husbandry, dairy, integrated multi species animal husbandry and silvopasture, biofuels, even wildlife habitat restoration and large scale biome recovery. Either you just didn’t go look at the links I provided or you were too lazy to read down past the first 1500 words and 26 citations to the last 1500 words and 28 references. That not even counting a whole other essay on methane. That’s every major crop on every major agricultural climate and soil worldwide. You claim I ignore it? Really?

    Now I do appreciate critique. I actually want critique. But please don’t lie or make stuff up. Critique what’s there, not your woefully inadequate and naive assumptions, guesses and straw men. Even when Killian and I disagree, at least Killian reference something I actually said, didn’t say or advocated and doesn’t try to knock down mystery strawmen. We might disagree, but at least Killian isn’t lying about our disagreement. If you can’t be bothered to actually read and study the plan, please just make no comment on it.

    No you don’t just throw money at it. But some people are in favor of a real value for carbon in a carbon market. So if that were the case and carbon emissions were a real cost and carbon sequestration were a real asset, then a proactive policy with verification could measure and facilitate the economic transfer.

    Here is one:

  38. 138
    alan2102 says:

    Just published. Perhaps of interest to some here:
    PROMOTING AGROECOLOGY – The most effective way to achieve sustainable food security and nutrition for all in a changing climate

  39. 139
    nigelj says:

    Killian @133

    Thanks. I just think the main goal should be sustainability, good soils practices etc, regardless of whether its a small or large farmer etc.

    Your education and awareness will help people make good choices, (which could be smaller farms) but people are nervous about change and loss of profit etc.

    I think you also need good environmental laws to push people along, and possible state help for smaller farmers, provided its got some time limit.

  40. 140
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @135

    Yes changing current subsidy structures would be very hard. Big farming gets the benefits, and they are a powerful lobby group.

    In fact I live in New Zealand and we did remove all farm subsidies. They never made sense as our farmers were always very profitable even without subsidies. Our geography suits farming particularly well. But removing them only happened due to very favourable circumstances coming together and was quite harsh as well. But farming survived an is more profitable than ever, so America take note.

    Regarding this idea of soil sequestration of carbon. I understand a lot of things need to be done differently, so its a big deal sort of issue.

    It might work in theory, probably does because the chemistry looks quite convincing. The trouble is whether it actually works in the real world, and how do you test this? Have any trials been done?

    We could put huge resources into it, only to get 20 years down the road and find its made no difference to emissions and even evaluating this would be hard. However I cant see any harm encouraging it, education, research etc. But you would need a good case before lots of private corporate and/ or state money was thrown at it.

    I don’t know enough about no till farming to comment. Might look it up.

    Regarding organic, I’m sitting on the fence a bit. I’m a sceptic of over use of pesticides, and all this sort of thing, but whether going to the other extreme makes sense I’m not so sure.

    We have some farmers who are profitable and say organic works. But it’s partly a demand thing, such that if wealthy people want it of course it would be profitable. But is it a fashionable fad?

    I’m not convinced organic food is better or tastes better, but I am worried about pesticide issues.

    I would say we should focus more on testing pesticides better to figure out if they are causing diseases in humans and negative environmental impacts. Currently testing appears inadequate and corporations have far to much influence over politicians and regulatory systems. But changing this is hard work of course.

    Your transport costs comment is interesting and Large scale farming clearly has certain economic advantages in this respect. Small farms will of course have some other advantages. However I would come back to saying we have a free society (in the main) and people are able to buy smaller farms if they think its better. If larger farmers are crowding out smaller farmers what do we do? Well I have no objection to people promoting education and awareness that small is better if they want. But at what stage would the state intervene with laws that say we want more smaller farms, or organic farms? That would be a huge call, somewhat socialistic, and heavy handed. I think you cannot rule it out in principle, but you would need compelling evidence that small is inherently much better in terms of environmental impacts. I think that’s going to be difficult.

    But the state does have a very legitimate role to have laws on environmental standards like water and soil quality, and possibly conservation, and safety of pesticides, etc, etc, and I think that’s where the focus should be.

  41. 141
    nigelj says:

    Scott Stroogh @134,

    Yes I certainly agree subsidising big corporate farmers makes no sense at all. It is exacerbating high emissions.

    It is crowding out smaller scale or other alternative approaches and that’s no good. The subsidies are distorting the market.

    Its clear these big farmers don’t need subsidies, and would mostly be fine without them. If they aren’t market forces should prevail. Isn’t that capitalism?

    I think subsidies should only be to help new businesses get started, so should be time limited. The tax payer should not have to support business forever!

    Certain other things might justify government subsidies, if the private sector has genuine problems, by clearly big millionaire farmers are not struggling along.

    I agree the main goal should be to sequester carbon in soils. As you say its perfectly fine for different countries to approach it as they feel is best, and it’s their right.

    If there’s a powerful case for soil sequestration, I tend to think government could play a role. I don’t object ideologically or fiscally, but it has to be evidence based, fairly based, and any financial assistance or tax breaks must require proof that farmers are adopting sustainable practices. In other words it needs to be targeted assistance and possibly time limited just to help people get started.

    I don’t have the time right now to comment on your other various details and specifics but might come back to them. Thank’s for the links.

  42. 142
    Scott Strough says:

    Thanks for that Alan.

  43. 143
    Michael Dodge Thomas says:

    “Optics”, as they say, matter.

    If we MUST do this on national television, let’s hold it in a football stadium, and put the debate platform on the fifty yard line.

    The, round up everyone who has published on the topic in a peer-reviewed journal in the last decade, and put everyone who believes that there is ongoing warming and that humans are primary cause on one side of the field.

    Then put all the peer-reviewed skeptics on the other.

    Would sort of put things in perspective, IMO.

  44. 144
    nigelj says:

    Scott Strough @134,

    I have responded above, but here another comment added on.

    I looked at the two Tony Lovell videos on grasslands and soil sequestration. The guys is interesting and a good, clear speaker. It is all indeed basically a cyclical issue and rates of change issue.

    You may find the following interesting. Maybe not so much the article, but read the comments posted by Red Baron, who is a scientist, and very knowledgeable on soil science and soil carbon sequestration, especially comment 28, which lists links to key research.

    I don’t doubt better farming can sequester carbon significantly. I would think it would add something to resolving the whole emissions issue. Right now emissions plans focus mainly on planting forests, as its easy enough to incentivise this. It’s hard to see why something similar couldn’t be done for grassland farming. However ensuring compliance for these sorts of things is challenging, so we shouldn’t over estimate what they can achieve. But I admit the potential is there.

    Generally I see emissions reduction as the primary strategy, as its plausible to go to renewable energy and easy enough to achieve this with laws, or carbon taxes or the like. It’s really more of a political problem in getting this done. Soil sequestration seems a bit more complex to implement and monitor, so I see it as a secondary strategy, but potentially a big one.

    We also have this challenge of trying to decide how much to reduce emissions, and how much to rely on carbon sinks. Do we do one, or the other, or both? There are strong and obvious reasons to do both.

    But if we have a combination of reducing emissions and carbon sinks we have to apportion how much each should do. Emissions trading schemes try to do this by contracting and limiting emissions, but alternatively letting people keep emissions the same but purchase forestry carbon sink credits, so is market driven. It lets the market decide the balance (more or less). So you could set up a scheme where better cattle farming could become part of the scheme with some sort of ability to sell units in carbon sequestration. However, I find these trading schemes over complicated and look like they would be open to rorts and abuse.

    The alternative to emissions trading schemes is governments to consciously decide on a level of emissions reductions, and a level of use of carbon sinks, to aim for, which means apportioning some of this to grasslands farming or forests or both. It then becomes an issue of how you make this happen. Maybe the farming practices promoted by Tony Lovell simply stand on their merits, and not only sequester carbon but are just good, profitable farming. But do they and would that be enough? I suggest you would probably need some sort of tax incentive scheme or something, or something to push farmers along.

    Whatever approach is taken requires a proper price on carbon.

  45. 145
    Omega Centauri says:

    Dan @130.
    Its hard to predict how things are going to play out. Clearly suddenly yanking away a substantial subsidy is going to lead to a loss of sales. For both rational, and emotional reasons (look what they are taking away).

    There are many variables, and EVs are in an early stage of their evolution.
    There are some inherent advantages, one of which is the precision of control over power to the wheels (including braking). This makes semi-autonomous or fully autonomous vehicles easier to control if they are electric. Also because batteries can be nearly any shape, unlike combustion drivetrains,a great deal of physical design space is opened up. This is yielding safety benefits, and should also provide some benefits in terms of the shape of interior spaces for both passengers and cargo. Of course there is far less noise.

    Beyond greenhouse effects, urban pollution from exhaust, and brake linings, and noise pollution are significant urban problems. Significant enough that offering non-monetary benefits, such as preferred parking, and commuter highway lanes is becoming common.

  46. 146
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Current weather at Vostok Station: -88 F, blowing snow, feels like -140 F

    Give us some AGW Puhleeeease!

  47. 147
    zebra says:

    For those interested in some actual Soil Science:

  48. 148
    zebra says:

    Omega Centauri 145,

    “There are some inherent advantages…”

    You forgot to mention far lower maintenance costs and the fact that if the body doesn’t rust away, the car will last “forever”, compared to ICE. So, the whole “cost and payback” issue is mostly misconstrued, because we probably don’t have sufficient data.

    And I like to point out an advantage that we will not see for a while, but is significant:

    Poor people will be able to buy a reliable used vehicle with far less chance of being ripped off by the dealer!

    “An old clunker” will simply not really be that much of a clunker; there will not be the inevitable transmission rebuild, the brakes will not be worn out, the head gasket will not be blown, and so on. No failed emissions tests, no catalytic converter replacements…

    The only question will be batteries, and once there is sufficient volume of production, an aftermarket supply will develop, in addition to the inevitable OEM price reduction.


  49. 149
    Mal Adapted says:

    Omega Centauri:

    Clearly suddenly yanking away a substantial subsidy is going to lead to a loss of sales.

    Let’s hope this is true of fossil fuels too! Now Mal write like green liberaltarian (Mal big David Roberts fan):

    The ‘freedom’ to socialize their marginal climate-change costs is globally the largest ‘subsidy’ for fossil fuels. The ‘invisible hand’ of the market, however, tends to externalize costs with or without collective intervention, or the ‘visible hand’: that is, concerted interference, over a wide range of scales, by concentrated private capital, government, or neighbors. Globally, collective market-distorting tactics are macroeconomically and climatically significant.

    As you’d expect, there’s a diversity of accounting approaches to estimating fossil fuel subsidies. At the outset, since ‘collective’, ‘free’, and ‘subsidy’ are in the public domain, we’re free to define them ourselves. If we define collective to include corporations, government and neighbors, and a free market simply as one free of concerted collective intervention, then we can define subsidy, in the abstract, as:

    “Any collective intervention in the energy market that underwrites or increases a producer’s profit margin (here’s where it gets really tricky) relative to what it would be on a free market, after the producer covers his booked, or accounted, costs to get his product to market and collect payment from customers.”

    Under our definition, government subsidies include favorable tax treatment, land grants and privileged access to public lands, public funding for road construction and the cost of seizing and securing foreign fossil fuel reserves by military force, but not free market externalities.

    So how much macroeconomic significance do fossil fuel subsidies have? For government subsidies alone, and using a somewhat more constrained definition that excludes outright land giveaways, paved highways and standing armies along with market externalities, reports (my italics):

    Internationally, governments provide at least $775 billion to $1 trillion annually in subsidies, not including other costs of fossil fuels related to climate change, environmental impacts, military conflicts and spending, and health impacts. This figure varies each year based on oil prices, but it is consistently in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

    For the G20 countries alone, (my emphasis again)

    governments are providing support to oil, gas, and coal companies to the tune of $444 billion per year, between direct national subsidies, domestic and international finance, and state-owned enterprise investment.

    And in the US, (emphasis still mine)

    fossil fuel subsidies at $37.5 billion annually, including $21 billion in production and exploration subsidies. Other credible estimates of annual United States fossil fuel subsidies range from $10 billion to $52 billion annually – yet none of these include costs borne by taxpayers related to the climate, local environmental, and health impacts of the fossil fuel industry.

    Fossil fuel subsidies in the United States also include massive military expenditures to acquire and defend fossil fuel interests around the globe, and infrastructure spending and related maintenance based on an antiquated energy system built on large, remote power plants and cheap electricity.

    Again: adding up all the ways climate change is anthropogenic is easy to game. While is at pains to remind us of that, they take still greater pains to document their own numbers. Argue with them, not Mal.

  50. 150
    Mal Adapted says:

    Just in case: Mal only say he fan of David Roberts, not he write that gud.