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Unforced Variations: August 2017

Filed under: — group @ 2 August 2017

This month’s open thread.

592 Responses to “Unforced Variations: August 2017”

  1. 401
    nigelj says:

    Killian @394

    “One metric matters: Sustainable or not. Period. End of discussion. If it isn’t sustainable, why are you talking about it? Nothing you are discussing is sustainable. Bad enough, but Kevin asked you about the transition, but you all responded with your visions of the future.

    Yes sustainability is the key thing here. I’m strongly supportive of that idea. Whatever economic system we have has to do this, whatever “ism” we call it. We only have one planet and we need to look after it, because moving planets will be very difficult!

    But you haven’t explained how we get from the current system, to a more sustainable system. I did. You put more constraints and rules around capitalism to force behaviour to become more sustainable. You do not read what people say,even when its repeated.

    Remember some countries already have both capitalism and sustainable fisheries for example, with quota management.They are NOT mutually exclusive ideas.

    “There is one, and only one, definition of capitalism: Private ownership of capital. ”

    This is roughly the dictionary definition. I have already said this is adequate.

    “In a nutshell, capitalism creates the poor. ”

    Not really. There were plenty of poor in egalitarian hunter gatherer societies, communist societies,etc. These societies shared better, but there was still dire poverty.

    However I have already said capitalism can lead to inequality and poverty as a side effect. Please read what people say.

    But capitalism also creates wealth overall better than any other system that has been tried, through competition and innovation. The problems can be fixed with tax payer assistance for poor people, as was done better in the 1960s. Ultimately this amounts to the same result as a so called “sharing society” or community based society anyway. You don’t seem to be able to see this.

    “Capitalism cannot be made sustainable because it is not driven by “economic forces” or any other drivel, but by selfishness, greed, megalomania, sadism, etc.”

    No thats only half true. Capitalism is driven by self interest and a desire to get ahead without being told exactly how to do this. This is different to greed. Its the insatiably greedy who give it a bad name.

    The worst excesses of capitalism can be tamed with better rules, if theres a political will. This will eventually push capitalism in a better direction, without agonising over trying to define some ideal zero growth regenerative agriculture society. This sort of society will probably be the ultimate outcome anyway. But coming up with a blue print is hard, and you havent reconciled regenerative agriculture with how much technology you want, and how an alternatve to capitalism would actually be innovative enough to provide that technology.

    However I want to be clear, I dont oppose things like organic farming and this may well be the way to go. I can sort of visualise a regenerative farming society combined with a free market capitalist ethic and smart technology that could be sustainable if cleverly done. Whether it can be done on global scale I don’t know. But its better than everyone being dirt poor.

    But if we push the capitalist system gradually towards more “sustainability” just with better environmental rules, things will work out I think. We will get to some sort of syustainable society that is less wasteful without being too prmitive.

    If you have a completely different alternative economic structure to capitalism, what is it? It needs to be something economic, not simply “regenerative agriculture”. And HOW do we get from point a to point b, in a practical sense? How do you convince the public to change their ways, and would you start a new political party?

    If as you say capitalism is fundamentally about private capital, its hard to see why it cannot be environmentally sustainable, provided use of that capital is controlled by the state, in respect of impacts on the environment. BPL has already explained how capitalism doesn’t have to include economic growth if you dont want it to.

    Its also not clear how a more communal society that holds some level of wealth would not by its inherent nature not have environmental impacts, without the leadership imposing controls, which is ultimately no different to what the state does or should do in capitalist societies.

    “It’s nuts to speak as if the planet can be robotified. It cannot. ”

    Probably correct.But are you saying robots should be banned?

    A UBI is potentially a good idea, and will happen inevitable probably under both capitalism and any workable alternative. It will happen regardless of the fact robitics is trying to prevent it, because of the political will of the majority.

    “If growth were a necessary condition of life, every sustainable (for simplicity, let’s admit they are virtually all aboriginal) community on the planet would have long overshot their carrying capacity.”

    Nobody says economic growth is necessary. But its been happening ever since the earliest humans discovered tools and fire etc. Do you think humanity should have stayed living in caves? Even aboriginee communities grow economically, just very, very slowly. Without economic growth you would likely be much poorer, no computer,etc.

    We can freeze growth to zero if you want. I think if we have a better controlled capitalism it will happen eventually anyway and so will a more “regenerative” form of farming. But it’s important to try to lift as many people out of poverty as possible, before freezing the system at some sort of zero growth or steady state. Only capitalism has been able to produce enough wealth to do this, communism just stagnated, unfortunately.

    “But economic growth is a construct driven by greed, desire for power ‘

    No its driven by wanting better food, technology, health services etc . Economic growth is driven by science, innovation and experiment and this suits the capitalist ethic quite well.

    “The supposedly uneducated aboriginals know not to exceed carrying capacity. ”

    True. Jared Diamond explores such themes in his book “Collapse”. But I dont particularly want to live like an ancient aboriginee if I can avoid it. If you choose that life, I might start to take you seriously.

    “Population? Yes, it would be good if it dropped, but it is not necessary to attain sustainability. ”

    We certainly dont need more people. Population is not really going to drop anyway, not for a very long time. Predictions on the demographic transition have current 7.2 billion peaking at about 8 – 10 billion but nobody really knows with any certainty. I would have thought the more important thing is for everyone to encourage generally small families in any country with significantly growing populations, and contraception etc. 10 billion is clearly going to be hard to sustain.

    “God help us if the things we need to move to Mars or divert a planet-killing asteroid or to mine the heavens (which might get us to a point of **relatively** sustainable high tech) got used up making a latte.”

    Ha ha we do waste money on utter rubbish at times. We need to get much better at recycling and figuring out the difference between needs and wants.

    But its probably a strong, innovative, “technological”, “capitalist” society that will best deal with a potential asteroid strike, or migrating to another planet.

  2. 402
    Mr. Know It All says:

    399 – BPL
    If you discover even 1 vote altered by Russians, please let Robert Mueller know about – and the NY Times also – they’ve had an ARMY of Democrats looking for that 1 vote for many months. I’ll never admit it, but Vladimir Putin sent me 1 ounce of gold so I’d vote for T. ;)

    Thomas and the rest of you NO GROWTHERS, the EU is so afraid of population decline that they’ve invited millions of refugees to the EU. So far I hear it’s been a real “blast”.
    https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/07/daily-chart-6

    What could possibly go wrong?

  3. 403
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @397

    To at least have a discussion we have to assume people using terms are accepting of the normal dictionary definitions. Gdp growth, and inequality have pretty basic and clear definitions, easily googled or looked up on Britanicca or Wikipedia. Only fringe websites will expound different definitions.

    Of course sometimes people are ignorant of basic definitions and talk at cross purposes, and this can be pointed out. But I dont see much of this in comments posted. And best to stick with the standard definitions and not try to redefine things.

    Now we can certainly criticise how gdp growth is measured, thats another thing, and you have alluded to some very valid difficulties. The standards definition is just output of goods and services based on a sample of the typical ones that comprise economies. Its crude, but does give a very good indication of whether a nation is producing more goods or less. Its just a tool measuring a rate of change really.

    Standard gdp growth doesn’t include quality of goods and services produced, happiness, quality of life, environmental externalities, invisibles, etc. There’s a proposal to change gdp to include these or have an additional alternative measure.

    The USSR had good gdp growth but lousy quality etc.

    Inequality has standard definitions and measures, google gini coefficient. These are all actually pretty adequate. Rather than split hairs endlessly, or endlessly debating the veracity of data on inequality, like Thomas Pickettys work and whether its 100% accurate, it might be better to be results focussed?

  4. 404
    Nemesis says:

    @All

    What’s your guess, how far away are we from beautiful things like Solar Radiation Management? Not too far, imo.

    Hoka Hey

  5. 405
    Nemesis says:

    @Thomas, #388

    Great comment, especially:

    ” The Ultimate Long-Term Fix – Geoengineering by private firms to further alter the Climate. That is where we are headed.”

    I’ve come to exactly the same conclusion some time ago. It’s just the next “natural”, intrinsic response of capitalism:

    More profit through more techno fixes.

    In terms of capitalism resp. profit, it makes perfect sense. Why not “save the planet”, while making some bucks and controlling the atmosphere?

    Btw, there has always been an underlying conflict between rich and poor countries at all climate conferences. And this conflict will massively increase, when the rich countries start polluting/controlling/modifying/engineering/damaging the atmosphere even more, then they did in the past. The global political implications of SRM and shit are monstreous. The rich countries claim to be the global LEADER in climate intervention and they mean it.

  6. 406
    Thomas says:

    396 Mr. Know It All; lol, lost for words are you? ROFL

    Hehehehe, I said last week my ‘job is done’ … so now I’m having ‘fun.’

    Instead of you and that dill victor and the rest of the wallys who only flit in and out of here posting rubbish at the readers and the RC scientists here, you’ve been off doing other things in other places and are now only crying like a baby over me instead.

    I’d call that “a great success” ….. wouldn’t anyone? :-)

  7. 407
    Charles Hughes says:

    Mr. Know It All says:
    20 Aug 2017 at 3:27 AM
    371 – Mal Adapted

    It’s amazing looking at the sheer volume of verbiage Thomas has typed. Perhaps the blog name should be changed. Perhaps “Thomas Spouts Off”, or “I am no Doubting Thomas”, or “I’m a Believer”, or “Thomas Impersonates Trump and Insults Everyone” or…….???

    Let’s have a contest to come up with a new name for the blog.

    Congratulations KIA! That’s the first thing you’ve said that I agree with.

  8. 408
    Thomas says:

    395 nigelj, fwiw if you’re confused about my position it’s simply that “growth” as an economic parameter is not the big deal it;s made out to be. It’s a dumbing down of the complexity to a point where it has for some time been utterly meaningless as a genuine meaningful VALUE – it’s tossed around like confetti at a wedding .. the wind blows tomorrow and all the confetti is gone again as if it never was … that’s how useful “growth” is a measurement – therefore what it is measuring is also Moot and lost in the noise.

    So it’s my view that discussions about +/- growth are a waste of time and effort. It’s all hypothetical debates that cannot take anyone anywhere useful or meaningful as far as understanding really important core issues about economics today and capitalism in general. Even the term capitalism is a obnubilated term to the point barely a few at one time can discuss it and still be relevant to each other “semantics” wise.

    It’s also been used so often as an emotive trigger word or a baseball bat used in pro or con “politics” that the term is essentially now worthless in intelligent conversation. imho.

    If you can take a moiment to check that Keen video via the BBC and check the end of that you’ll note he speaks about the necessity for economics to become a genuine science where real data is measured and analysed scientifically, and peer reviewed papers are checks as thoroughly as climate science has been in recent times. That until that happens in a very real and valid sense the majority of economics is just blathering ideologues back and forth.

    I mentioned as much in the direction of Ray (and in other comments) but as usual my genuine queries/suggestions are never followed through nor acknowledged … same goes for others as well of course. Much easier to be a KIA these days and never change a single belief along the way. (shrug)

    RE “But growth gives us an idea of roughly where the economy is going.”

    Actually I’d put it thus: Growth gives a very ROUGH Idea of where the Money Economy has been. But as a yardstick for Real Value and an indicator of Intelligent Rational Healthy Economic Activity it’s beyond useless.

    iow whether Growth is +/- is irrelevant to everything that’s important to human beings living in a society that uses Money as Wealth.

  9. 409
    Thomas says:

    @Nigel et al,

    So what if instead of Governments being “judged” according to the false zero-value yardstick of National GDP Growth over their term in office, they were judged according to the National GDP per Ton of GHG Emissions?

    Or instead of Corn being priced according to a fake manipulated global market price that Farmers were instead paid on a reversed sliding scale based on the total amount of GHGs they consumed to plough, plant and harvest said corn, the amount of Nitrogenous Fertilizers they used to row said corn, and the amount of poisonous pesticides they used, and the amount of soil erosion they produced per Ton of Corn Harvested?

    Farmers using electric tractors would earn a higher income. Organic farmers would earn a higher income per ton of corn. And humble farmers in Mexico and Venezuela would be paid a factor well above all those “rich” Corn farmers in Iowa who Voted for Trump & McCain driving around in super expensive gas guzzling F150 Trucks and using their Cadillacs to go to church on Sundays or Walmart on Fridays versus the humble Mexican on his Mule riding off to his corn plot each day.

    It’s all about Values and what’s really Valuable and what isn’t. It’s also about fish swimming in a sea of constant disinformation as well.

    Like Adam Smith was not an “economist”. He was a Political Philosopher who was good at writing a new kind of Narrative in the 18th Century. He was also clearly a Homosexual as well, but don’t tell the Right Wing Born Again Prosperity Gospel Preachers or Rush Limbaugh or Paul Ryan that or they’ll have a heart attack! :-)

  10. 410
    Mal Adapted says:

    Charles Hughes:

    Congratulations KIA! That’s the first thing you’ve said that I agree with.

    Apparently, even a conspiracist can join a reality-based consensus, as long as it’s tangential at worst to his idée fixe. One doubts Mr. IAT loses sleep for fear of Thomas lurking under his bed.

  11. 411

    KIA 402: If you discover even 1 vote altered by Russians, please let Robert Mueller know about – and the NY Times also – they’ve had an ARMY of Democrats looking for that 1 vote for many months. I’ll never admit it, but Vladimir Putin sent me 1 ounce of gold so I’d vote for T. ;)

    BPL: Vwy Chekista?

  12. 412
    Scott Strough says:

    @Thomas #409

    There is an easier way to do that Thomas, simply convert the current Ag subsidies into a carbon payment. Currently I believe carbon markets are putting it’s price at about $20-$25/tonne. A conventional farmer can at best sequester about .65 tons C/acre/yr. Certain advanced regenerative farmers can sequester ~2+/- tons C/acre/year.

    So that’s 40-50 dollars per acre a year bonus on top of crop production for an organic regenerative farmer over the best no til conventional farmer. The average size farm in the USA is approx 300 acres. So a tidy little bonus of $12,000.00 – $15,000.00 compared to $195.00 dollars for the conventional farmer. Believe me, they will notice.

    Secondary benefit is that as the carbon in soils increase, so do the yields on the crops! Plus organic crops get a higher price at market. Plus the resilience of the land to withstand drought and floods increases. Plus the input costs to raise these crops is significantly less.

    If we did that, then instead of the environmentalists and the climate scientists, and the farmers, and the capitalists all being at cross purposes; they would all be in harmony striving toward the same goal, sustainable ag sequestering carbon and solving AGW.

    “When farmers view soil health not as an abstract virtue, but as a real asset, it revolutionizes the way they farm and radically reduces their dependence on inputs to produce food and fiber.” -USDA

    The idea is to literally do what the USDA has recommended to farmers anyway, make carbon in the soil the real economic marker/proxy for soil health.

    “If all farmland was a net sink rather than a net source for CO2, atmospheric CO2 levels would fall at the same time as farm productivity and watershed function improved. This would solve the vast majority of our food production, environmental and human health ‘problems’.” Dr. Christine Jones (CSIRO scientist)

    “Yes, agriculture done improperly can definitely be a problem, but agriculture done in a proper way is an important solution to environmental issues including climate change, water issues, and biodiversity.”-Rattan Lal (Nobel prize winning soil scientist)

    Please keep in mind the 2 tons C/acre/yr is by no means a limit. There are outliers that have done twice that. The limit has not yet been seen. Certain well watered areas in the prime corn belt areas like Illinois Iowa etc probably can do at least double the current outliers. But that would involve growing a native tallgrass oak savanna biome and raising animals directly on that instead of corn and soy. The advantage there would be that you can design it in such a way as to produce more starch that corn with chestnuts and more oil than soy with hazelnuts and more protein from the animals than current monocrop industrialized systems and the edges and marginal plots raise oaks etc.. which are great finishers for pork, chicken, turkey etc… In fact acorn finished pork from Spain commands as much as 200 dollars a pound! http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/03/inside-the-secret-world-of-super-premium-spanish-jamon-iberico.html

    That’s a real plan, not some idealized but unrealistic plan that requires we reinvent the society of the whole world in a day. No need to ban capitalism when it can be harnessed to help accomplish the goals. I would submit that realistically capitalism is by far the best way to fix AGW. We simply need to get it working for us instead of against us by manipulating the market wisely.

  13. 413
    Mal Adapted says:

    Dan H.:

    To answer your hypothetical, I think yes, it is possible. After all, all the other wealth decouplings occurred. Will it, is yet to be seen. Based on history, I see no reason to think it cannot be accomplished. The only thing stopping it is mankind’s desire to control. Yet, I think you only be a delaying tactic, as advancement always seems to occur, no matter how many obstacles are placed in its path.

    So maybe I’m right and maybe I’m not? Thanks anyway 8^|!

    Based on history, I won’t claim it’s outside the limits of uncertainty either. OTOH I don’t see much reason to hope it is possible, counta my modulz aint got much predictive skillz. Historical data suggest it’s far more common for human societies to separate into haves and have-nots than otherwise. AFAICT the separating is done by aspiring haves who, unhampered by excessive scruple, see their opportunities and take them. In a secular recasting of the biblical metaphor, goats separate themselves from sheep. A better metaphor would be if goats were actually parasites on sheep.

    Evolutionary biologists tend to cite ‘human nature’ ironically. For one thing, the phrase obscures the range of variation; for another, it elides ‘nature’, i.e. adaptation by natural selection over generations, and ‘nurture’, i.e. developmental (including cultural) influences interacting with genetic predisposition* over an individual’s lifetime. To the extent that sexual/social/political/economic ambition is heritable, I see little evidence it’s being selected out. There is some evidence that human societies today are less frankly brutal and oppressive than when Homo sapiens sapiens arose, but that may be due entirely to cultural evolution; and in any case, it merely presents different opportunities for aspiring oppressors.

    Unfortunately, the contingency and complexity of biological evolution makes its future course unpredictable. The future course of cultural evolution is scarcely more discernible, IMHO, even if we assume no break in cultural continuity. Once again my nom du clavier is descriptive, regardless.

    * For example, (trigger warning: graphic obscenity, brutality) functioning/non-functioning legs.

  14. 414
    Mal Adapted says:

    Ahem. It would be more correct to say “To the extent that variation in sexual/social/political/economic ambition is heritable”.

  15. 415
    Mal Adapted says:

    Russell Seitz:

    Re today’s eclipse – two pieces of underpublicized advice from a two-time totaltity viewer:

    Be dead in the middle of the centerline– every kilometer counts .

    Don’t forget to look at the rest of the sky.

    Here’s why :
    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-eclipse-of-reason.html

    Cool, Russell! The video jerked a laugh out of me, too.

    I recall viewing one total solar eclipse in my life. I don’t recall a “bizarre dark green sky eerily recalling a Giotto fresco”. Hell, that’s a good enough reason to be ten miles from the centerline. With one’s perceptions suitably altered, so much the better ;^)!

  16. 416
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @408

    No I’m not confused by what you said. I largely agree with your post.

    This is what I said about growth further back to zebra, and its important and worth repeating, because right now gdp does not include the costs of environmental impacts. So for example China has totally fantastic gdp, but cities choking in smog. This does not mean gdp growth measure is wrong or useless, but we should not obsess over it and need to look more widely at additional ways of measuring things. Here’s what I said anyway for what its worth:

    Now we can certainly criticise how gdp growth is measured, thats another thing, and you have alluded to some very valid difficulties. The standards definition is just output of goods and services based on a sample of the typical ones that comprise economies. Its crude, but does give a very good indication of whether a nation is producing more goods or less. Its just a tool measuring a rate of change really.

    Standard gdp growth doesn’t include quality of goods and services produced, happiness, quality of life, environmental externalities, invisibles, etc. There’s a proposal to change gdp to include these, or to have an additional alternative measure.

    A classic example: The USSR had good gdp growth, but lousy quality of goods and servcies, and an unhappy, oppressed population etc.

  17. 417
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @409

    “So what if instead of Governments being “judged” according to the false zero-value yardstick of National GDP Growth over their term in office, they were judged according to the National GDP per Ton of GHG Emissions?”

    Quite an interesting and useful idea. Its easy enough to compile as we have the data. It’s similar to what I said above that we need an additional measure of gdp which subtracts environmental costs / impacts.

    BUT it only includes global warming impacts, as opposed too all environmental impacts and they might be doing well with global warming but deliberately neglecting the others. It probably needs to include all the main ones, to get a really good idea of how different governments are comparing.

    The corn idea looks good in theory, but would be very complicated to implement. It would need an army of bureaucrats assessing each and every farm. I wonder if cap and trade, for all its faults and problems, doesn’t do much the same thing with less bureaucracy, as it rewards farmers who reduce emissions.

  18. 418
    Thomas says:

    399 BPL imho judgements about Nth Korea depends solely on one’s perspective – it depends mainly upon where one is looking from. imho both sides border on a distorted form of national psychosis as opposed to the actual evidence and the historical facts of the matter.

    I have yet to see any credible “evidence” of Russia manipulating the US elections .. or anyone’s elections for that matter. I hear loads of assertions and claims and opinionated conclusions & judgements being made without an itoa of hard evidence being presented … and nothing ever being tested in a Court of Law.

    Until such times as the latter occurs I am willing (and ethically obligated) to remain on the fence and not take sides.

    Of course, America has incredibly high standards in this area – the US government, it’s political parties/members, it’s secret services, it’s military, it media, it’s Corporate Boards have never and would never ever EVER interfere in another nations elections or democratic processes or manipulate the Global Media in any form for any reason. Such are the high ideals of American Ethics and Morality and International Relations.

    Oh, hang about, did I get that right? I’m not so sure about that.

    While most here would not hold a belief in Karma maybe some do get the truism of “What goes around, comes around” …. eventually? ;-)

    Anyway, I do feel my nuanced opinion about who is the greatest threat to America is on the money here. Time will tell, maybe? I’m in no rush.

  19. 419
    Thomas says:

    US Corporation, a global force in AGW/CC denial disinformation and key Trump supporter adviser, is still having ethical legal issues in the UK https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/aug/21/ofcom-murdochs-sky-takeover-avaaz-21st-century-fox

  20. 420
    Thomas says:

    Think about GDP Growth compared to ‘workers’ living in the “real world”. They have no time or energy to be bothered with Organic Sustainable Farming or negative GHG emissions nor I suspect would care much about the validity of climate science let alone a wall to keep illegal immigrants / refugees out of the country.

    Marion says: “It’s just this society is all messed up.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/21/missouri-fast-food-workers-better-pay-popeyes-economics

    See the graph showing – If wages had grown as fast as productivity, the minimum wage would be more than double what it is now. Just sayin’.

  21. 421
    nigelj says:

    Mal Adapted @413

    “There is some evidence that human societies today are less frankly brutal and oppressive than when Homo sapiens sapiens arose,”

    Yes. There’s a good book on this “The Moral Arc” by Michael Shermer. This focuses on moral issues like war, murder, social class oppression, slavery etc and shows evidence that things have got better, despite what people might like to think. And yes it appears culturally driven evolution.

    The book “Behave” by Robert Sapolski touches on the issues as well.

    Looking just at the economics and wealth distribution, this is far more complicated. Hunter gatherers were moderately egalitarian, then farming widened the income and social gaps as society became larger and more specialised, and became a natural feature persisting for a lengthy time and peaking in the industrial revolution.

    Then the 1930s saw a drive back to redistribution, then that ended in the 1980s, and we have seen growing inequality within western countries and downgrading of the welfare state. But the welfare state has survived.

    Bit of a roller coaster.

  22. 422
    zebra says:

    Mal Adapted 413,

    You wouldn’t be trying to say, perhaps, “people are monkeys”??

  23. 423
    zebra says:

    nigelj,

    You keep saying something like “GDP may not be a very good metric but its is a good metric”.

    You should also read the wikipedia article on Gini Index, which says very much the same as what I said about comparing inequality (scroll past the statistics stuff.)

    So, you want to be pragmatic about what can happen to improve things, but without some theoretical reasoning that is based on appropriate metrics, we can’t figure out how things will get from “here” to “there”.

    Kevin said originally that it is necessary to consider the possibility of paradigm change (paraphrasing). I think it has happened, and can happen, despite our monkey-nature. But it is a process that we can influence, not control. Here’s a couple of short articles to consider:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40673694

    and

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/08/21/a-woman-in-india-just-won-a-divorce-because-her-husband-failed-to-provide-her-a-toilet-thats-huge/?utm_term=.7ad2e5537de9

    I think you need to replace the term “growth” in your arguments with “progress”.

    I also think in general that the idea that “10 billion people” are going to be driving F-150 trucks at some point in the future is just another fallacious argument for do-nothingism. Paradigms change.

  24. 424

    Think about labor camps, or camps for political prisoners where inmates are forced to hurt members of their own families or risk beatings or shooting themselves. Think of 2 million people starving to death because the money that could have brought food relief went for military spending instead. Think of secret police, informers, and a totalitarian state that regulates peoples’ lives down to what haircuts they’re permitted to have. Think torture, rape, and mass executions. Finally, figure a government where the single ruler for life has absolute authority over all decisions, and the position is hereditary–what we used to call a monarchy. Think that, and you’ll have a good picture of North Korea.

    Now, Russia. Almost a democracy, but the industries were all sold to the people who are now the oligarchs. Think of a government that stifles criticism by the simple expedient of shooting or poisoning critics. Think of conquest of small neighboring nations by the rape-happy Russian army, and you will have a good picture of Russia under former KGB field agent V.V. Putin.

    These countries are not our friends. In endless ways, they are nobody’s friends. Anyone who thinks, “Well, we’re just as bad” is living in a fantasy world. Under Trump, we may become just as bad, but some of us are going to fight like hell to make sure that never happens.

  25. 425
  26. 426

    More on why Russia is not our friend.

    Russia is an oil power which wants to drill the Arctic. To make it easier, the Arctic has to melt more. Russia has been funding global warming denial since the 1990s, and hacked the University of East Anglia server to promote the “Cimategate” pseudo-scandal.

    Exxon-Mobil, with R. Tillerson as CEO, signed an agreement with Russia to drill oil from an area five times as large as they drill in the US. The pipelines would go through the Ukraine. The deal was worth $500 billion.

    Russia subverted and invaded Ukraine. We put sanctions on Russia for doing so. The Russians wanted a different US government.

    Trump owed Russian banks money. He and Putin both hate Muslims and want to lead a war against them. So the Russians hacked the DNC, did everything they could to derail Hillary Clinton, and supported Trump all the way. At least three Trump staffers had contacts with the Russian SVR well before the election: Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Mike Flynn.

    Trump got elected. He appointed R. Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Secretary of State. The GOP congress mindlessly confirmed him.

    The connections are pretty obvious once you start to put two and two together.

  27. 427
    Thomas says:

    Up-to-date weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa
    Week beginning on August 13, 2017: 405.14 ppm
    Weekly value from 1 year ago: 401.90 ppm +3.24
    Weekly value from 10 years ago: 381.80 ppm +23.34
    Last updated: August 22, 2017

  28. 428

    Thomas, #385–

    373 Kevin McKinney asks: “More interesting to me is, what would you say on the vexed topic of transition to a sustainable world?

    I have already stated my position on that topic on a number of occasions. Basically, (or shall we say simplistically lol) it isn’t going to happen voluntarily nor by planned intent.

    OK, but what I am not clear on is, what is the ‘it’ that you don’t expect to happen? Apologies if I missed it earlier, but as you can see…

  29. 429
    Thomas says:

    @412 Scott Strough, I’m all for Ag carbon sequestration, even before you appeared here. The idea and research has been around a long time now and still worthy of being promoted and discussed. Negative feedback/impacts of ‘subsidies’ are equally important. And Killian et al notions of sustainable farming practices, organic farming, low impact with community based dynamics equally so.

    I think advocates of such alternative modes of thinking and practice need to remain focused on getting their favorite issue up on the to-do-list for Politicians, political parties, across the media landscape but more importantly on the Agenda of all UNFCCC discussions about goals and national commitments to drive industrial scale society wide change and then naturally any treaties focusing on halting emissions & bad land use practices and making ‘negative emissions’ a permanent reality. [I rationally doubt it’s possible, but still, motivated people should keep trying imho.]

    That being said Scott, you really don’t help your ‘case’ suggesting $200/lb Ham as a go to ideal. Maybe seek a better “real world example” of global positive outcomes for people and the environment of carbon sequestration and major changes in Ag practices.

    @417 nigelj, hi and thx for all your comments and thoughts on the matter. re “The corn idea looks good in theory, but would be very complicated to implement” – yes of course. Very impractical. :-) Just a hypothetical idea to encourage holistic critical thinking about the ‘core’ issues, not the ‘corn’ issues. :-)

  30. 430
    Thomas says:

    CLIMATE ONE – 14 Mar 2017 – Why Facts Don’t Trump the President
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enE9MyzwFA8

    The obsession with facts can be taken too far at the expense of other deeper means of communication.

    Emeritus Professor & Cognitive Scientist expert George Lakoff says if progressives want to learn from the election of Donald Trump they need to change what they study in college, how they think about facts as adults, understand framing and learn to repeat, repeat, repeat.

    Robert Rosenthal joins us from The Center For Investigative Reporting to help us understand the importance of facts in reporting.

  31. 431
    Nemesis says:

    @Thomas, #418

    ” While most here would not hold a belief in Karma maybe some do get the truism of “What goes around, comes around” …. eventually? ;-)”

    Com on, Karma, “what goes around, comes around” is just some superstitious believe of stupid, childish barbarians. It doesn’t affect modern, zivilized techno priests, politicians, multinational corporarations and such, who are not ruled by the Laws of Nature, but rule them, harr harr 8-)

  32. 432
    Nemesis says:

    Yes, the oily, sticky, criminal fingers of the fossil fuel industry are just everywhere:

    ” Civil society: “Oil companies should not author IPCC report”

    108 organizations urged Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to review flagrant conflict of interest of allowing two oil company employees to co-author a crucial report on global warming…

    The two authors in question work with ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco, the second- and third-largest corporate emitters of greenhouse gases worldwide respectively. These two companies bear a large part of the responsibility for causing climate change, along with 88 other corporate emitters who together are responsible for 2/3 of cumulative historical carbon dioxide and methane emissions since 1854, according to a study by Richard Heede…

    Therefore, the signatories argue that “it is worrying that the industry representatives are precisely those with interests in promoting unacceptable pathways and high-risk technologies, such as climate geoengineering, which distract from the real emissions reductions that are required to avoid catastrophic warming…”

    http://www.geoengineeringmonitor.org/2017/05/civil-society-oil-companies-should-not-author-ipcc-report/

    Hahaha, let’s get rid of funny “civil society”, it’s just naive, communist bullshit and it doesn’t make any dollars ! Cheers to Rex Tillerson !

  33. 433
    Killian says:

    Scott Strough wants to commodify soil carbon…. what could possibly go wrong? However, at least this could be seen as a bridge to more rational reasons to build soil carbon, like, um, life.

    Nigel, got to admit: Didn’t even read your response cuz… economics… blah, blah… economics… blah… no such thing as sustainability… blah, blah…

    Thomas: You try too hard to be cute. Simplify, dude. I don’t want to have to interpret your posts… I do that all day long at work. Steve Keen: Been mentioning him here since I met him in 2010, so need for intro. Others would do well to study his work, however. He has a steady-state model that functions, so there is that for the rather unenlightened growth-must-happen-or-the-economy-dies (Well, duh! Thus, stop growth.) crowd.

  34. 434
    Nemesis says:

    This is for all the planet saving techno superheros out there:

    ” Climate Change Policy and The Super-Hero Syndrome”

    http://www.geoengineeringmonitor.org/2016/11/climate-change-policy-and-the-super-hero-syndrome/

    https://youtu.be/FNlUhW0azKI

  35. 435
    nigelj says:

    Killian @433

    “Nigel, got to admit: Didn’t even read your response cuz… economics… blah, blah… economics… blah… no such thing as sustainability… blah, blah…”

    Where have I ever said I don’t support sustainability? You are being pathetic and putting words in my mouth. I have always supported sustainability and that was obvious from all my comments including my response at 401. I was also pretty fair minded in all those comments.

    You obviously can’t deal with what I say, so you put words in my mouth, and throw in various put downs. You are being a pain in the neck. I suggest just sit in a little room with your fantasies where you wont be bothered by people who dare to question you.

  36. 436
    Killian says:

    Query: Why can’t I have my growth?!!!

    Answer: Cuz reality.

    To wit (note the mention of Tainter, which I’ve mentioned here a half-billion times or so, cuz it matters a lot):

    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/the-new-economic-science-of-capitalisms-slow-burn-energy-collapse-d07344fab6be

  37. 437
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @423,

    Yes I admit I was being a bit confusing. I’m saying we need to keep the current measure of gdp growth as it is, or economists will have a fit.

    BUT we can have a separate, additional measure of growth which subtracts environmental costs and possibly includes some measure of quality of life. There’s nothing wrong with several measures and indexes, and the most useful one will ultimately prevail.

    Thanks for the articles. Only had time to quickly scan the first one so far, but yeah innovation and progress is never smooth but we shouldnt jump to judgement too quickly. Computers have not delivered on some of the promises, but have delivered instead on unexpected ones.

    Basically good ideas do tend to mostly work out for the best in the end, they just don’t follow an exact plan. Doesn’t matter, as long as lots of people are free to explore crazy stuff, some of it will pay off. This is the good side of capitalism as well.

  38. 438
    Nemesis says:

    Capitalism and materialism are the same ideology, both say:

    Work, consume as much as you can, reproduce and then die into “nothingness”.

    That’s exactly the message of capitalism and materialist science. And that message is bullshit. But it keeps the engine running, so don’t make any fuzz about it. In the end, that small engine of capitalism and scientific materialism will crash, but the big engine of the Cosmos will just go on like nothing ever happened :-P

    Modern science searches the universe for some beginning, they call it “big bang” (LOL) and they reached some 100s of thousands of years before, tada, “The Begining” (LOL), but they just can’t reach that tiny, tiny moment, where the Universe does it’s first cry, “The Beginning”. But there is no ultimate “beginning”, the more you try to reach that realm, you will end up in a void, in The Void (same goes for the micro-cosmos). There, all names and forms, and therefore, all scientific evidence ends. There, science ends and the realm of the unmeasurable, in- visible beginns. The unmeasurable, invisible realm is where you came from and where you will go back to, from awake to sleep, from morning to evening, from birth to death, infinitely. The highest knowledge, you will ever reach, is this:

    Form is void, void is form, life is death, death is life ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros ).

    There is no higher knowledge beyond that knowledge, there are no words beyond that knowledge. There is no way, to get any evidence of life beyond death, but to live and die, muhahaha. Death is just like the Horizon, it moves, when you move and it stands still, when you stand still. So don’t worry about death in the future, but here and now. Death teaches to let go and to embrace reality:

    There is no ultimate beginning, there is no ultimate end.

    ” Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

    – Rabindranath Tagore (btw, Einstein and Tagore were very good friends^^)

    Listen carefully:

    ” The Joke of Death”

    https://youtu.be/1uNev0IMr4A

    So never be concerned about death, but be constantly aware of the light, because it will extinguish all illusions sooner or later. But modern man never listens to indiginous and ancient wisdom. Why is it? It’s because he is busy staring through his microscopes and telescopes and making “profit”. Modern man rather loves to exploit Mother Earth and destroy indigenous culture, than to listen to timeless wisdom. Look at capitalism, look at modern culture and it’s history:

    It’s a “culture” of exploitation, slavery and destruction. And it will soon be gone.

  39. 439
    Killian says:

    Kevin McKinney, dear fellow, why ask a grasshopper how to learn to live like an ant?

    Anywho…

    Hopefully you read the article on EROI posted prior to this. Nothing new to you, I hope, but a confirmation of the fall of the House of Growth, including the silly decouplibg discussed here, as well as other silly things. Sadly, they did not address ERO*E*I. Ah, well. Gift horses.

    I haven’t been dwelling on energy for a long while so EROI and EROEI slipped my mind amidst all the techgrowthiness going on here. It’s an excellent short answer for the issue. I’ve fallen into the habit of just noting resource limits because, well, it’s the same darned thing.

    I’ll just leave this here as shorthand for my statement on why what is cannot continue to be and trust you can recall all the more detailed and nuanced points I might make.

    Well, then, what to do?

    Said issues of resources will bring down capitalism and big gov even if we do nothing to facilitate their fall, but it is hardly ideal to put on a blindfold and jump into unknown space. Managed descent is required.

    The problem is the solution: Falling EROEI/E percapita? Don’t need energy, or need far less. Simplify.

    Don’t trust Inc’s or gov? Local energy. Distributed energy. Which resilience aka regenerative systems require, anyway.

    Don’t trust Big Ag? Little ag aka distributed ag aka regenerative ag aka localized ag. Which is what we should do, anyway as in the previous graph.

    Etc.

    Simplify.

    How, exactly? If top down ain’t working, try bottom up. Do the above things by starting small. Start with food and water. Grow, capture, store. Make a council for your little slice of heaven. Learn to do egalitarian. Learn to do Commons. Teach others as reality imposes itself on their little brains.

    Learn permaculture and/or other restorative approaches.

    Learn to define sustainability correctly: Endlessly repeatable barring acts of god or universe. Accept nothing less in principle and only the solution for each problem that gets meaningfully closest to this in practice. Remember: Sometimes the solution is to just not solve the problem and merely let go.

    Do same for city/region, bio-regon.

    If you have food, water, shelter, all else can be sorted out amongst yourselves.

    Let EROI/EROEI/RESOURCE DEPLETION/CLIMATE do their dirtiest and just watch the Titanic sink from your comfy little lifeboat.

    Out of time.

    *Maybe* more later.

  40. 440
    Adam Lea says:

    418: “While most here would not hold a belief in Karma maybe some do get the truism of “What goes around, comes around” …. eventually? ;-)”

    Unfortunately this is a logical fallacy, invented to make people believe we live in a just world where good things happen to good people and vice versa. The reality is completely different, sometimes decent people get the hand of God down on them and evil people go unpunished for their crimes. In my experience it seems to be one of the favourite fallacies of those of right wing political leaning.

    https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallacy/

  41. 441
    Thomas says:

    428 Kevin McKinney, umm, ok.

    “it” = “the vexed topic of transition to a sustainable world”

    as per: “I have already stated my position on that topic on a number of occasions. Basically it isn’t going to happen voluntarily nor by planned intent.

    iow not going to happen “voluntarily” nor via a “plan”

  42. 442
    Thomas says:

    Kevin … “I don’t want to have to interpret your posts…” while assuming I must be the only cause of the problem? Aha. You seemed to work out I mentioned steve keen ok …. and why.

    Not only don’t I try too hard, frankly I do not ‘try’ at all. :-)))
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ4yd2W50No

  43. 443
    Thomas says:

    Batman would fix it.

  44. 444
    Thomas says:

    BPL I do hope your work in astronomy is much better than your gullibility over Assange et al. (sheesh) logical fallacies might be compelling for the gullible believer but they don;t = facts evidence nor the truth. seriously, take a chill pill. You’re swimming in an ocean of biased disinformation and apparently don;t even realise it. This is bordering on 9/11 truther/birther/alien abduction bs. Seriously, it is.

  45. 445
    Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    Mal Adapted 413,

    You wouldn’t be trying to say, perhaps, “people are monkeys”??

    Oh my, no. Primates yes, monkeys no – the Hominidae apparently separated from other catarrhines in the early Miocene. Homo sapiens sapiens is the last surviving species of the hominid genus Homo. By genome match, our nearest extant relatives are in the genus Pan, chimpanzees and bonobos. Like every species, however, H. s. sapiens has unique adaptations.

  46. 446
    Mal Adapted says:

    nigelj:

    There’s a good book on this “The Moral Arc” by Michael Shermer…The book “Behave” by Robert Sapolski touches on the issues as well.

    Yeah, I linked to Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, but you’d need to click on the link to know that ;^).

    Looking just at the economics and wealth distribution, this is far more complicated. Hunter gatherers were moderately egalitarian, then farming widened the income and social gaps as society became larger and more specialised, and became a natural feature persisting for a lengthy time and peaking in the industrial revolution.

    It’s complicated enough, and verifiable data scanty enough, that the range of humanity’s probable futures includes both extinction, and continued population growth accompanied by extinction of all other species but domesticates and synanthropes.

    Bit of a roller coaster.

    That’s a vivid metaphor, and apt to an extent. One global ecological trend that’s been relentlessly positive for at least 10,000 years, however, is human population growth.

  47. 447
    Scott Strough says:

    Nemesis @ 434,
    Your link asks, “What if BECCS isn’t up to the task?” and shows pretty conclusively BECCS isn’t up to the task. And of course we also know CCS certainly isn’t up to the task, and probably never will be. Most people think it is impossible from the physics POV. At best an expensive and minor help. Certainly not scaleable.

    But I would ask you why people are even still working on CCS and BECCS when BCCS is already proven to work and already scaleable?

    “If all farmland was a net sink rather than a net source for CO2, atmospheric CO2 levels would fall at the same time as farm productivity and watershed function improved. This would solve the vast majority of our food production, environmental and human health ‘problems’.” Dr. Christine Jones

    That’s based on Dr Jones work and multiple 10 year case studies to back it up done on real world working farms and ranches at scale. There is no cost to it either. ALL the farmers in the case studies made MORE profits not less as soil carbon rose approx 5-20 T CO2/ha/yr.

    My guess is that CCS and BECCS are simply funded by the merchants of doubt as a way to misdirect and obfuscate people away from what is already well known, namely:

    “Yes, agriculture done improperly can definitely be a problem, but agriculture done in a proper way is an important solution to environmental issues including climate change, water issues, and biodiversity.”-Rattan Lal

  48. 448
    Thomas says:

    436 Killian, neat article with many science based/peer reviewed academic refs, thx.

    I could qutoe lots of useful take-aways, but settled on this one: “But what we can know for sure from the new science is that the era of unlimited economic growth — the defining feature of neoliberal finance capitalism as we know it — is well and truly over.”
    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/the-new-economic-science-of-capitalisms-slow-burn-energy-collapse-d07344fab6be

    Oh ok, then, make it 2 take-aways: “Dr. June Sekera — who leads the Public Economy Project at Tufts University’s Global Development And Environment Institute (GDAE) — net energy decline proves that neoclassical economic theory is simply not fit for purpose.”

    AND Sekera argues that: “One of the most important contributions of biophysical economics is its critique that mainstream economics disregards the biophysical basis of production, and energy in particular.”

    My insight:The current Neoliberal, Neoclassical and/or mainstream Economic Practices & Theory plus fundamentalist Capitalism Theory/Ideology are not fit for purpose to solve the implications of the impacts of AGW/CC since Pre-Industrial times to today and out into the future. To me it’s ‘patently obvious’ while for others YMMV. Not that it matters.

  49. 449
    Thomas says:

    440 Adam Lea says:

    418: “While most here would not hold a belief in Karma maybe some do get the truism of “What goes around, comes around” …. eventually? ;-)”

    Unfortunately this is a logical fallacy ….”

    Nah, actually it was a question. It is however a logical fallacy to disassociate that sentence from the context in which it fits. Perspective is everything. Stories and interpretations about “we live in a just world” had nothing to do with my comment…. while adam’s observations/opinions may have some merit on their own.

  50. 450
    Thomas says:

    440 Adam Lea says:

    418: “While most here would not hold a belief in Karma maybe some do get the truism of “What goes around, comes around” …. eventually? ;-)”

    Unfortunately this is a logical fallacy ….”

    Nah, actually it was a question. It is however a logical fallacy to disassociate that sentence from the context in which it fits. Perspective is everything. Stories and interpretations about “we live in a just world” had nothing to do with my comment…. far from it.

    While adam’s observations/opinions about “justice” may have some merit on their own. Mindful that all political ideologies, mythologies, societies, cultures and religions are fundamentally based on the prevailing logical fallacies of their ilk.