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Unforced Variations: Dec 2017

Filed under: — group @ 3 December 2017

Last open-thread of the year. Tips for new books for people to read over the holidays? Highlights of Fall AGU (Dec 11-15, New Orleans)? Requests for what should be in the end of year updates? Try to be nice.

379 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Dec 2017”

  1. 251

    zebra, #235–

    No idea why you say this. If, as I have suggested, you have a small, stable, technological population, then why do you need energy growth?

    Really, Kevin, you have to bite the bullet and start giving time frames with more specificity. And you have to be specific about whether you are talking about mitigation short-term or sustainability long term.

    In the comment that prompted that response, I was talking about how, in general, a sustainable society might work. Hence:

    1) I’m not assuming a “small, stable, technological population,” though I listen with interest to your ideas about that, and

    2) I’m considering general specs, not historically-based projections–somewhat figuratively, schematics, not prototypes.

  2. 252

    Nigel, #246–

    I’m a bit unsure of what you are trying to say. “I think we do need some form of steady state society” doesn’t seem very compatible with “Eventually we may have to mine and colonise other planets.”

  3. 253
    Thomas says:

    247 nigelj

    RE: “Eventually we may have to mine and colonise other planets.”

    Yep let’s do that. “We’ve” totally screwed the one “we” got. Let’s go screw up another planet or three.

    RE: “Promoting sustainability is part of this process, and points everyone in the right direction.”

    I agree, sustainability is key. That’s why if I was a Klingon Group Commander with a dozen war ships encircling Planet Earth, I’d take the only SUSTAINABLE OPTION left and vaporise the place before the idiots living here had a chance to go screw up another planet and send even more multiple life forms to extinction.

    —-

    242 nigelj says: “However there’s no point demonising America too much…

    It is an impossibility to demonise America too much. That’s what is supposed to happen to demons Nigel Ji – you know the old “when good people stand by and say nothing and do nothing, evil reigns.”

    You and everyone else have choices. One is keeping one’s head buried deep in sand with their butts up in the air waiting to be screwed over yet again, and again. It’s a conscious choice mate.

    What’s the differecne between New Zealand and North Korea Nigel Ji?

    new Zealand was carpet bombed to total destruction by the USA in the 1950s. That’s it. Apart from that there is no difference between you and a North Korean. Behavior has consequences. (look that up, if you don’t know what it means.)

    But I know you and most people in this world know that Ignorance is Bliss. Not my problem, not my fault, not my responsibility either. I’m happy and content and “karma free” bro. :-)

    —-

    241 nigelj says: “Thomas @237, Marc Munro is not an idiot.”

    Yes he is. You are the one who has got that wrong. Have another look? :-)

    —–

    234 Kevin McKinney says: “I’m finding the conversation about the ReThinkX analysis….”

    This has been discussed before here if I recall correctly. What I said back then still stands.

    —–

    229 Mr. Know It All says: “214 – Thomas – Facts on the Central Arctic Caribou Herd:”

    Hey, KIA, it’s summer here now and Cherries are plentiful. Not as many as in your stupid retort though. Here’s wooden nickle for you KIA .. go buy a functional brain mate!!!

    (was that a quality insult Ray?)

    —-

    and now … 224 nigelj says: 22 Dec 2017 at 4:08 PM

    1) Thomas @213 you appear to agree with Killians philosophy.

    Nigel, what do you mean by “APPEAR TO”? Why are you using that phrase versus simply adhering to what I in fact said. There is no “appear” nor “doubt” about it. Basic english mate. Keep it simple KISS Principle, less verbiage is then necessary :-)

    2) Perhaps you are supporting the underdog, and I respect that.

    Nope and that’s a wasted use of respect. :)

    3) But do you agree we should therefore radically reduce our consumption immediately by about half, and appreciate this means a huge pay cut as well, and live in small communities organic farming and adopt some form of socialised ownership?

    Nigel that’s one hell of a Conga Line of Strawmen you just constructed. Could I lend you my box of matches?

    4) When will you be starting this transition?

    Nasty question as usual. Look, if you REALLY are interested, and I know you are NOT, the transition began when I quit my SENIOR MULTINATIONAL CORPORATE EXECUTIVE POSITIONS AND LUCRATIVE SALARY, FREE FIRST CLASS AIR TRAVEL, FREE LUXURY HOUSING FOR ME AND MY FAMILY, FREE CAR, FREE COMPANY SHARES ….. since then my carbon footprint has been about as large as a starving guinea pig’s carbon footprint is.

    I have been practicing what I preach for 27 friggin’ years mate. How about you Nigel?

    I penned a poem song back in 1992 …. some of it went “3000 acres of forests every hour falling to the greed and power…”

    I am not the problem here Nigel, people like you however are, and in spades. You do not know wtf you’re talking about. Not an insult or a put down, merely a simple true fact. Up to you to deal with that one, not me. I am not your “keeper” mate.

    5) I do not agree with his radical cuts, and communal ownership, and that it could happen quickly enough stop dangerous climate change. Or put it this way I’m “sceptical” but open to persuasion.

    As I said about “it’s a choice”. I do not care about your misguided opinion about yourself or what you falsely BELIEVE you are “open to”. Frankly, you’re not open to anything but what you already believe. I have ZERO interest in PERSUADING YOU TOWARD ANYTHING – it’s waste of my time and energy. Not going to happen.

    You see I choose what I say here and why I say it. Up to you to do your own work and PERSUADE YOURSELF to the truth and the hard reality. Not my responsibility. believe whatever you want Nigel, because seriously, I do not care one bit.

    You’re here to preach your own version of foolish gullible beliefs and not to learn. That’s my opinion, and again no insult intended. Simple true facts, is what i deal with 99% of the time.

    6) Why is it so hard for people to see you can support some of what people say, and not other things? Why are people so thin skinned?

    You tell me Nigel. You’re the one who “appears” to regularly point out what WE should all be thinking and doing. Any ideas? :-)

    Happy Boxing day all ….. well, not all, only those pre-selected few I mentioned before. ;-)

  4. 254

    Killian, #243–

    Kevin: And, again, I think we are in serious need of continued–nay, vastly expanded–consideration of what that sustainable future might look like.

    Killian: Why? That is not what you want to talk about. You spend this entire post discrediting the idea sustainability is even needed.

    Not from my perspective, I didn’t. The whole first part of the comment (#234), up to the sentence quoted, was about the ReThinkX report on the disruption they project to result from the convergence of EV and AV technology. If I were convinced, as Killian is, that the only solution that can work in time is the simplification paradigm he promotes, then there would be a logic to the perception that I was trying to ‘discredit’ sustainability.

    But I don’t think that. I think that adoption of the simplification paradigm as our social norm would require at a minimum either 1) many decades of changing attitudes and perceptions, or 2) radical historical discontinuity (such as might occur from a civilizational collapse, for example). So, if we’re to address the climate crisis, we need to make maximal use of mitigation strategies that we can invoke much faster–one of which might possibly be ‘TaaS.’

    So I’m not arguing that sustainability is not necessary. At some point, it absolutely is. I am saying that the consideration of bridge strategies is important, as is discussion of real long-term sustainability.

    BTW, I realize that I misspoke in my previous comment addressing zebra–I inadvertently implied that the *whole* comment was about what, in general, sustainable societies might or might not be–but in fact, as stated above, the first part was about ReThinkX. The second part ‘pivoted’ to the general ‘schematic’ question of sustainability.

    So a fuller answer to zebra’s request for timeframes would be that the first part of #234 was about the time from the present out to roughly 2 decades, whereas the second part was schematic and therefore anhistorical.

  5. 255
    Thomas says:

    244
    Ray Ladbury says: “What I would be interested in is whether predictions of future evolution might be made–that’s where the true utility would be proved.”

    Um, that was point of the paper, wasn’t it?

    Maybe we read different papers.

  6. 256
    Thomas says:

    Nigelji, my reply to Ray was an appropriate correct use of the word “we”. The way you regularly use that word is not.

    It’s an admixture of grammar and psychology and beliefs…. then put through a VitaMix. The result either comes out right or wrong. :-)

    Think about it some.

  7. 257
    Killian says:

    The other extreme of rapid and drastic cuts to consumption proposed by the guru Killian, will simply increase hardship and mortality rates, while doing little to actually improve anything.

    Don’t defame me again. Last time I say this.

    This goes for all of you. Clean it up.

  8. 258
    Killian says:

    #245 Ray Ladbury said Killian,
    Actually, you didn’t post a link–or if you did, I didn’t see it.

    Where?

  9. 259
    Killian says:

    244 Ray Ladbury said It is not that there is nothing of value there. Some of what he says is insightful–particular on details of permaculture and sustainability.

    Yet, you’ve not taken that perspective in all these years. Admit you had to come round to the power of these “fringe” issues, but chose to insult and belittle for years, instead. You will understand things here better once you do.

    The thing is that you have to wade through so much petty crap

    All of which is *response* to insults, as Thomas quite effectively, if obliquely, stated. You seem to have failed to recognize yourself in his comments.

    Do an honest analysis: How many of the words over the last months have been responding to bullshit rather than initiating it? For that matter, the last ten years?

    he tends to account for 30-40% of the column inches on any given page

    Because of you, et al. Own your behavior.

    Killian insults people all the time. He just doesn’t do it particularly well.

    No, I don’t. You really don’t get it: Most of what you consider insults are merely observations that your, et al. ego can’t accept. Telling nigelj, e.g., he doesn’t belong here is not an insult. He brings the level of discussion down to the 101 level when it generally is at least the 201, and most often 01 or 401. He simply does not realize how little he understands, and that is not an insult.

    No intent to inflame you, nigelj, you are simply the most obvious example.

    You *like* to insult and assume others do, also. I do not. The Peanut Gallery exists solely as a response to mob-style harassment that has gone on for years here. (I sometimes have to smile at MKIA’s handle because it was such accusations from the PG towards me that were the beginning of all the vitriol here. My statements Earth sensitivity had to be high, SLR could be 10ft, the SI would go quickly… and more… all treated with disdain, e.g.)

    Stop patting yourself on the back, You, et al., are the problem. What’s shocking to me is that someone else gets it, finally, after all these years.

    Try to get through January without a single sarcastic, caustic, dismissive comment… to anybody. I honestly do not think you, et al., can.

  10. 260
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    #249 “Perhaps you could amend this and simply say that America is irrelevant as a force for good.”

    Clown Car America is a force for good. It is providing the world with such an entertaining negative example, the world will now never follow.

    #249 Clown Car America = “Haiti with nukes.”

    Which are weapons that have no practical use in war.

    In their use, America would immediately become the enemy of all other nations on earth, and would only hasten it’s own destruction.

  11. 261
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @253, I think you meant “N Korea was carpet bombed?” Anyway I agree America has done some terrible and unwise things sometimes, and clearly all races and cultures share the same basic humanity.

    However I prefer to be critical of America (or any country) on specific issues. I’m not so sure about full on generalised criticism of America, and whether it would achieve much, other than making one feel better, and alienating every single American.

    I asked you question whether you agreed with Killians Simple Life philosophy of rapid and considerable cuts to consumption? (He stated recently 80% – 90% cuts to electricity use for example.) Its not a strawman its what he proposes. Why not simply give an answer?

    I respect your lifestyle choices. I’m very well off financially but not extravagant and live reasonably simply with modest climate footprint. Lets not forget we are basically on the same side on a lot of things.

    But merry xmas anyway.

  12. 262
    nigelj says:

    Killian @259, the reason I sometimes keep environmentalism to level 101 is mainly because you have not yet mastered that level. Merry xmas anyway.

  13. 263
    Richard Creager says:

    256 Thomas-
    After “think[ing] about it some”. I have to challenge your contention that when you “process grammar, psychology and beliefs… through a VitaMix, that “The result either comes out right or wrong.” As Dirac said…. Correct me if I’m wrong :)

  14. 264
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @252, I agree steady state and mining other planets isn’t terribly compatible.

    I also understand what you are saying the steady state will itself change over time.

    I think the way to understand all this is forward history. On current gdp and population growth trends we will eventually run out of minerals, and recyling involves some waste and some materials deteriorate. This means we will eventually long term be reliant on new minerals created by earths geology to some extent (strictly speaking reprocessed).To cope with this situation, population and consumption will have to fall until an equilibrium is reached. The level of consumption will determine how far population has to fall.

    There are two alternatives basically. Small population with reasonable technology and larger population with very low technology. Given rates of population growth are already slowing, it should be viable to have a reasonable level of technology.

    The idea is to do this all is a planned way without a crash. Currently we are heading towards a collapse in some fashion, or watch prices of materials escalate massively. So IMO it would be a good idea for population and gdp growth to slow asap in a managed way. But if we slow gdp and consumption too radically too fast, we have a crash of another type obviously, with hardship and over correction especially in developing countries.

    Eventually we could “choose” to mine asteroids or planets to improve our situation in terms of technology. We also don’t want population size forced too low, so we need resources. The optimal population size is a function of economies of scale and specialisation, and resource issues,so a number of things

    The interesting thing is would mining asteroids be done in a sustainable way, and would it matter. Humanity runs the risk of becoming like intergalactic locusts.

    None of this can happen fast enough to deal with the climate issue so we need renewable energy and so on.

  15. 265
    zebra says:

    Kevin McKinney,

    I think you have now made yourself clear enough about timeframes that I can ask this, pun inevitable if not intended:

    What’s your Plan B?

    It’s not that we disagree about much at all here, but as I said earlier, my projection of the next decades puts humanity in one of the middle scenarios with respect to CO2 and climate moving forward. A rational quantitative assumption, eh.

    So, while I am optimistic about EV and RE and all the rest, for reasons I’ve discussed before, I recognize the countervailing forces, and, as a designer, I have to incorporate that into my vision.

    Are you really saying that if we don’t get close to zero emissions in the next couple of decades, you are washing your hands of the project? I’m sure that’s not the case. But even if the energy transition does happen soon enough to avoid an existential event, which seems to be your assumption, what then? You have suggested that the demographic transition is not irreversible; why assume that all will be well on the energy front going forward? The coal and oil will still be there.

  16. 266
    Killian says:

    #205 Kevin McKinney said Killian, #185, 187–

    Risk assessment is a threat analysis, It’s the worst viable outcome.

    Which I gave as extinction of humans and severe biological impoverishment of the planet.

    But you do not stick to it. There are logical breaks in what you say. If the threat is death, you do what you *must*, not what you think will satisfy sociopolitical and economic goals.

    You do not fully understand what I am proposing, but I understand what you are proposing.

    Quite possibly, but it’s not for lack of me inviting you to explain what you are proposing. Yet time after time you instead give what amount to assertions of superiority, in one parameter or another.

    This is butt-hurt ego. False. I have laid out how to spread eco-aware communities, how to structure governance, how to manage problem solving, what design process to use, what levels of consumption might work, the mechanisms for drawing down carbon, the levels carbon must fall to, and more. You are being dishonest. It is unacceptable.

    You mean people do not want to survive?

    No, I mean that the perception that we are in a survival situation will only become clear until long after it is too late.

    It’s already clear. I assume you mean making all aware.

    Kevin: …it’ll be a lot easier and faster to get people to sub out fossil fuel use–even if ultimate sustainability is not completely attained thereby.

    Killian: Not only will sustainability not be achieved, virtually no mitigation, either.

    An assessment belied by the fact that quite a few nations met their Kyoto goals and have already achieved significant emissions reductions…; that Paris NDCs are much more inclusive and ambitious, and there is already visible action toward meeting them…the global energy economy is visibly changing now.

    Of course, things can go faster or slower–and if there is more political pressure for mitigation, it will probably be faster.

    1. Anyone with a full range of knowledge on the totality of the systemic problems we face considers what you tout as significant movement to be so far from what is needed as to be almost useless. I agree. Look for Albert Bates comments on this, e.g.

    For someone so sensitive to ‘being dismissed’ you are awfully dismissive of the ideas and concerns of others–which pretty much kills real dialog.

    Dismissiveness is to not fully consider, to hand-wave away. This is far closer to your behavior. I point out facts, you dismiss them. You state *opinions*, I tell you why they are incorrect. And, you make statements with no reasons why. They amount to “because.”

    When one has knowledge in an area another does not, and tells them so, and explains why they wrong – not dismissed, incorrect – it is not being dismissive. You, while far ahead of someone like nigel, are more dangerous because you consider yourself an activist and do some work in that arena. But, Kevin, your understanding, thus policies supported, are wrong.

    You say there is no time for a paradigm shift, but there is time for a paradigm shift through politics… even though one has never happened globally before or has happened regionally or in single countries only due to war. Changing incrementally through government when asking a system to deconstruct itself? That has literally never happened that I know of. The closes we come are perhaps the Anasazi, and even there there is evidence of violence.

    You have yet to give any reason why ecovillages spreading across the planet, claiming Commonses as with la campesina (i.e., already happening), and all this with constantly increasing awareness, etc., cannot happen. It is, so far as I can see, the only way it can.

    After all, how do you best stop a beast without fighting it? Starve it. Opt out. All the campaigns against oil with no real change in consumption? Schizo. All the calls for transitioning to W and S without dealing with FF fungibility? Schizo. The same while letting huge corporations once again control the energy supply instead of a massively distributed, user-owned network, but expecting a safe power supply? Schizo. Yeah, I posted about how to fund a massively distributed renewables grid eight or more years ago here. Fee and dividend just makes it that much easier. But do you see yourself, that climate silliness group, or anyone else, taking up that combo to better sell the transition? No. Why?

    But don’t pretend I never said these things. Your not comprehending them is the issue. I have stated every facet of what we need to do to transition and said repeatedly the **details** are local.

    I am here to dialogue on climate, various techniques and methods for mitigation and adaptation, rates of change, etc. I do not try to do the science for the scientists.

    I am not here to dialogue on simplicity: I am here to teach it. Do not try to teach sustainability to a regenerative systems designer: Listen.

  17. 267

    K 257: Don’t defame me again. Last time I say this.
    This goes for all of you. Clean it up.

    BPL: Or what? You’ll make us go to bed without supper?

  18. 268

    Killian, @ #50 (AGU thread)–

    Kevin: You’ve certainly been pretty clear in proposing that quasi-permanent sustainability should be our more or less immediate goal.

    Killian: Should is irrelevant here. Must. The risk analysis and limits to growth are what they are. Justifying an analysis by saying it rather crazily didn’t consider any part of the Perfect Storm we face, so should not be judged on how well it fits reality makes no sense to me.

    Let me answer that non-question in a Killinesque manner: “And how does reducing automotive production by about 70% and oil consumption by more than that not address an important part of the “Perfect Storm?”

    Kevin: However, I don’t think that your model is workable in the short term, as recently discussed.

    Killian: What short term? I have said, consistently, 20 – 100 years. That’s *beyond* the ken of this badly flawed analysis. And, you have yet to give a viable reason why Reg. Gov. can’t happen over that time frame.

    I’m feeling a tad impatient when I read that. I’ve said that RG would take “multiple decades,” which is reasonably congruent with 20-100 years. However:

    MITIGATION STARTING IN 20 YEARS IS TOO FREAKIN’ LATE!

  19. 269

    Killian, #259–

    Ray Ladbury: The thing is that you have to wade through so much petty crap…

    Killian: All of which is *response* to insults…

    Here’s the thing: it’s not actually mandatory to respond in kind to every perceived insult. In fact, it may be better not to.

    As a third party, there’s nothing that is better guaranteed to get me scrolling rapidly than said ‘petty crap.’ It doesn’t matter, really, how ‘responsive’ it is. It’s just as boring and pointless (to me) either way.

    Something to consider.

  20. 270

    #265, Zebra–

    What’s your Plan B?”

    Hell, I’m still working on Plan A.

    Are you really saying that if we don’t get close to zero emissions in the next couple of decades, you are washing your hands of the project? I’m sure that’s not the case.

    No, it’s not. But it’s odds on, given my age, that within 3 decades or so, and quite possibly sooner, incapacity or death will wash them for me–especially if we fail. Prospects for good eldercare would decline markedly under BAU, I think. So most of my focus is on addressing the immediate crisis, though I think that it is useful to bear in mind where we ultimately need and want to go, too. Successful navigation requires meeting both immediate and longer-term goals: priority one is always not crashing the car *right now*, but if you pay no heed to where you actually want to go, well…

    But even if the energy transition does happen soon enough to avoid an existential event, which seems to be your assumption, what then? You have suggested that the demographic transition is not irreversible; why assume that all will be well on the energy front going forward? The coal and oil will still be there.

    The energy transition not so much an “assumption” as a hope and a goal, one that I think has a reasonable chance of attainment.

    I doubt that the demographic transition will reverse on any grounds that are not extremely substantial–such as widespread reversion to pre-nineteenth century lifestyles. But that *is* mostly assumption, albeit one grounded in current appearances. So given the consequences of population levels, it’s probably well to stay conscious of that status as assumption.

    Your point about coal and oil is well-made. However, analogously to what I said in the last paragraph, *if* the energy transition does indeed occur as I hope, and *if* we manage to Muddle Through sufficiently well to preserve a technical civilization, then I think it’s reasonable to assume that reversion to fossil fuel use is unlikely for several reasons.

    One is that the dangers of fossil fuels will be ever more abundantly clear over coming decades. I expect that we’ll see their use regarded by society at large somewhat in the ways that ritual human sacrifice or chattel slavery are regarded now. (I’m tempted to add racism to the list, but clearly we’re not quite ‘there’ yet, so that would obviously be wishful thinking.)

    Another, and perhaps more deeply compelling, one would be that we’ll have renewable energy as incumbent, with all the attendant advantages of that status–the technological ecosystem will be built around its needs and assumptions. Use of fossil fuels will still be *possible*–may even still exist in some niches where volumes are low enough to render emissions safely negligible–but probably won’t make any sense on a wide scale, much as, say, hand weaving doesn’t today.

    (Not that hand-weaving has the destructive potential of fossil fuel use, of course! It’s a wonderful hobby, but still there’s no prospect of it economically rivaling mass manufacture of textiles any time soon.)

    But enough about me. Tell me more about *your* Plan B. Clearly, a lot of it is premised on a low population, presumably with some degree of technological sophistication. But I’m far from certain that I fully understand the implications of what you have said so far–frankly, a lot of the though experiment stuff about coastal versus interior populations made my eyes glaze over. So, please expand.

    Plus, the low[er]-population-with-some-tech would kind of be my Plan *A*–though an evolutionary attainment of that state couldn’t very well happen before the mid-22nd century or so. (Collapse scenarios could bring that closer, in theory, but I’d call them “transformational” rather than “evolutionary.”) But is there another ‘Plan A’ scenario for you?

  21. 271
    Richard Creager says:

    Killian 230
    I welcome your apparently revised approach to interpersonal communication, being the recipient of a second gratuitous Killian compliment when you note my “noise to info ration [ratio?] to be tiny.” Kudos.

  22. 272

    #266, Killian–

    I am not here to dialogue on simplicity: I am here to teach it. Do not try to teach sustainability to a regenerative systems designer: Listen.

    And that is your problem, Killian, in a nutshell. I’ve been teaching since I was 19 years old, and the most important thing that those decades of experience has taught me is this: You cannot teach without dialog, for the simple reason that you cannot teach without meeting your students where they are, cognitively and emotionally; and you cannot know where they are without listening to them with respect.

    Over and over you fail that test by treating those you aspire to teach with contempt. You imagine that you are completely enlightened, that you know The Truth, and that therefore you need not listen to anyone else. Simply asserting your Truth, in your mind, should always suffice because it is entirely factual, entirely correct, and is therefore always the perfect answer.

    For example:

    Dismissiveness is to not fully consider, to hand-wave away. This is far closer to your behavior. I point out facts, you dismiss them. You state *opinions*, I tell you why they are incorrect*…

    Well, no, it’s not always adequate to assert The Truth. Because even if your conceptual model were as completely correct as you think it is–which I very much doubt, for reasons that I’ve attempted to make clear over a span of years now–you are not understanding and responding to the realities that your interlocutors are living in. As a teacher, you need to build a bridge for your students to cross from their current reality to a wider and relatively more adequate one. You can’t build a bridge without understanding *both* sides of the chasm.

    You say you want to teach. Evidence says you’re failing miserably, since commenter after commenter (including you yourself!) says that we’re failing to ‘get it.’ So prove that you mean what you say: Try doing something differently than which has been failing so abjectly to achieve your ends.

    *Note: In my experience, it is quite rare to receive and actual reason why my ‘opinion’ is incorrect; much more typically, I receive an assertion that it is, perhaps with a vague reference to some general principle. For example, on Paris I got this:

    “Anyone with a full range of knowledge on the totality of the systemic problems we face considers what you tout as significant movement to be so far from what is needed as to be almost useless. I agree. Look for Albert Bates comments on this…”

    That’s:

    1) Your unsupported assertion, since it’s your tacit summary as to who exactly constitutes “anyone”;
    2) So vague as to be unsusceptible of productive debate–what exactly is “a full range of knowledge”? Is it even possible for any individual today to claim such a range? Personally, I doubt it. But attempting to definine that would likely lead to an effectively infinite rabbit hole.
    3) Seemingly incoherent once one looks at the one reference given. Here’s the first reference I found upon Googling {“Albert Bates” “Paris Accord”}:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0966931785/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

    From the publisher’s blurb:

    The adoption of this accord by more than 190 countries on December 12, 2015 marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. The final text still has some serious gaps, and the timetable will have to speed up, but the treaty places a red line on carbon emissions that all nations have agreed we cannot cross…

    This book looks at the pieces we have and the pieces that are still missing. The Paris Agreement follows the author’s personal journey from COP-15 in Copenhagen to Le Bourget’s Blue Zone, stopping along the way at endangered tropical rainforests, melting glaciers and sinking islands. It takes you through the exciting weeks in Paris, with the outcome uncertain, and how the text made its way through each day. We hang out in Belushi’s Bar, attend the nightly Place to Brief, and travel along the Seine with the First Nations. At no time have the historic stakes been higher.

    Given that Mr. (Dr. ?) Bates has apparently been involved in the UNFCCC process since COP 15, and has taken the trouble to write a whole book about the Paris process and what it does and does not say, I seriously doubt that he considers it “almost useless.”

    Seems I’ve got the correct Albert Bates here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Bates

    So, thanks for a potentially useful reference. Despite everything, you have successfully taught me who Albert Bates is, and something of what he thinks.

  23. 273
    nigelj says:

    Killian says @266 and previously numerous times we are at risk of extinction from climate change, and resource depletion. He says cut resource use, and appears to mean quite massively. (I take extinction to mean all of humanity is killed off. This is the normal definition of extinction).

    IMO Killians claims are all just such exaggeration and unfounded assertion. Not one research paper I have heard of suggests climate change would cause the extinction of humanity. Venus like conditions have been ruled out by science. This is not to say the the problem isn’t serious, its very serious.

    I cannot see how even extreme levels of resource depletion would lead to human extinction. We survived with far lower levels of resource use than now in the distant past. Again this doesn’t mean we don’t have a serious issue.

    Because Killian is so wrong on the basics and exaggerates, everything else he says goes wrong as well. He is an intelligent guy relying possibly too much on instincts.

    This is the more plausible scenario:

    1) Climate change is certainly serious, so lets deal with the problem urgently with the traditional solutions proposed renewable energy etc. Sure they use resources, but no solution is going to be 100% perfect. And clearly reduce your carbon footprint, and carbon intensive consumption. Killian is at least partly right that we have to address consumption to at least some degree. But I doubt reducing consumption alone is a viable answer. If we asked people to solve the problem entirely this way, it would not get much response.

    2)Now regarding resources. Current high population growth and consumption will force up prices and reduce availability of materials eventually, and we will thus be forced to consume less and have smaller families (ironically). Its very possible on current exponential growth that the process of scarcity and price increases would be rapid, and thus could cause considerable hardship and tip parts of humanity into subsistence levels of consumption, as some materials become very scarce and hard to recycle. Its a rate of change problem ultimately. But extinction is an excessive claim.

    So the solution is obvious: slow population and gdp growth so we avoid sudden dislocations. Its already slowing, but all you people can’t see the obvious. We just have to accelerate this process. The sooner we get population down in size the easier its all going to be. Sustainability as a concept only exists because humans exist.

    But we have a difficult balancing act, because if we cut consumption too fast, this is damaging as well, and could be worse than the original problem. It’s very difficult to define optimal levels of consumption, so the idea should be to aim to decrease rates of growth, and modify this over time, depending on how fast we are using resources and encountering problems.

    This whole thing is impacting us now in some ways, but is going to start playing out seriously over the next two to three centuries.

  24. 274
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Killian: “Yet, you’ve not taken that perspective [sustainability] in all these years.

    Actually, no. I’ve always taken the perspective that we need to get to a sustainable society–ever since reading Limits to Growth back in the ’70s. The questions that are still open in my mind are:
    1)How do we get there while shortening the lives of as few people as possible?
    2)How do we get there without casting in cement the economic injustice that pervades our present society?
    3)What does “sustainable” look like? After all, it’s never been done previously on much larger than a village scale.
    4) How much do we need to grow in the near term to lay the foundation for a sustainable society in the long term–and would that required growth put us over the edge of climate catastrophe.

    Sustainability is a wonderful word–lots of syllables, lots of warm fuzzy connotations, but I don’t know anyone who can give me an operational definition of it in sufficient detail that I’d recognize it if I saw it.

  25. 275
    nigelj says:

    Killian– “I am not here to dialogue on simplicity: I am here to teach it. Do not try to teach sustainability to a regenerative systems designer: Listen.’

    Well I will accept in good faith that Killian has some expertise, and regenerative design goes back to John Lyle from memory, but I don’t see much teaching going on. Instead I see a lot of ranting and argument from authority and assertion.

    A certain “Peters Principle” comes to mind.

  26. 276
    Thomas says:

    263
    Richard Creager

    Feel free to contribute something here. After reading the posts here for how long (_?) as a lurker, you pop up to complain about those who do, and then this is all you got? Really? :)

  27. 277
    Killian says:

    #252 Kevin said sustainability… mining planets incompatible.

    He may have picked this up from me. Technically, yes. Contextually, no. The universe is pretty big. Lots of stuff out there. One way to *eventually* return to a higher level of technology in our daily lives is to *eventually* mine the heavens so we don’t despoil the planet further. NIMBY taken to its extreme: Get your primary resources off-planet.

    But this cannot happen at the same time we are simplifying. The urgency is too great and the tech does not exist… and may never. However, this is a perfect example of why we should not strip the planet bare: There are certain to be needs over the next 300,000 years we are not aware of now.

    All this is moot if we do not first simplify and stabilize climate. I BOTE the time frame for beginning re-teching society at 2 to 4 generations.

    I’m surprised you think these two phases are in conflict; I’ve talked about this before.

  28. 278
    Thomas says:

    261 nigelj,

    Hi mate! :)

    Re: Thomas @253, I think you meant “N Korea was carpet bombed?”

    To be accurate, I made a simple typo and missed a word in haste. “New Zealand was NOT carpet bombed.”

    To be more specific there was not a single piece of infrastructure left and barely a building standing when the US was done with the North Koreans as their chosen fanatical paranoid proxy for China/communist mode of living.

    North Korea was equivalent to a roadway turned into nothing but pot holes 1 meter deep. Their fear and paranoia and eventual society wide insanity is a very natural outcome 60 years on as it’s been repeatedly by reinforced 24/7/365 by the US. Trump is merely the latest manifestation of that and not the original cause.

    The predominant forces in the US treat the entire world like it’s North Korea and they can do and say whatever they want anytime they want to. I feel sad and sorry for people who cannot, or refuse to see this. It’s delusional to be like that.

    Re: “Anyway I agree America has done some terrible and unwise things sometimes…..”

    If you could see the ‘IS DOING’ in the present (agw/cc inaction/causation included) we’d have a basis for more agreement.

    Re: “…and clearly all races and cultures share the same basic humanity.”

    Nigel, that’s provably false. A nuanced accurate view of History says so. imho.

    “However I prefer to be critical of America (or any country) on specific issues.

    I am and have been repeatedly – check the archives – check my context every time I am critical. (if interested … there’s enough already known and proven in regard to agw/cc to prove my views are accurate.

    “I’m not so sure about full on generalised criticism of America, and whether it would achieve much, other than making one feel better, and alienating every single American.”

    American’s are greatest supporters Nigel. Have been for decades! :-)
    As a mum/pop and their college student daughter said to me the other day …. “I wish we could bottle what Australia has and take it home with us to share with everyone in the US.”

    They’d only been here a week and could recognise they had psychologically & society wise arrived on another “planet”.

    Mate, I was working for and with US multinationals since the late 70s. I lived and worked in the US too. I have been having discussions with all kinds of Americans online since 1995!!! I was FTPing into US Universities for research / personal interest before 99.99% of the western world even knew there was an “internet”.

    I believe my ‘views/comments’ are on very solid ground. I get that a massive majority of people here and there will disagree. But that’s no basis on which to adjust my intelligent justifiable opinions Nigel.

    Re: “I asked you question whether you agreed with Killians Simple Life philosophy of rapid and considerable cuts to consumption? (He stated recently 80% – 90% cuts to electricity use for example.) Its not a strawman its what he proposes. Why not simply give an answer?”

    I did mate. You do not like my answer, but it was still an answer. Maybe there’s an issue with the way you go about asking questions? ;-)

    Re: “I respect your lifestyle choices. I’m very well off financially but not extravagant and live reasonably simply with modest climate footprint. Lets not forget we are basically on the same side on a lot of things.”

    The issues / ideas I raised were not about your lifestyle or footprint. That’s your business. I’m simply addressing your comments as a proxy for what a huge majority of the western world has got totally wrong and do not realise what they believe nor why they believe it and why it’s so utterly wrong-headed. :)

    That and in a playful way I’m pointing out that what’s happening right now with Killian is simply arguing about arguing – and that means the CORE issue are being ignored here.

    Killian is operating from a point of sound principles and values. He is living it and acting accordingly. That’s sane and rational. That’s the best of what humanity can potentially produce, not it’s worst.

    What’s happening to Killian is exactly what happened to Edward Greish (sic?) here. And to me and many others. It’s also way to normal a thing. Killian ain’t the problem nor the cause. Mythical beliefs, lifelong habits, entrenched psychological socialization and a distinct lack of self-awareness is. ;-)

    My science based knowledge tips for readers and especially the “commenters” to rise above the fray have already been referenced here. There’s a limit how many times anyone is prepared to repeat themselves.

    Gavin simply says “stop it” … I prefer to explain why it’s happening in the first place. I’m very “specific” even if readers do not “get it”. I have no interest in getting down into the gutter with others. ;-)

    No one, Killian included, can teach another HOW to Think Clearly. But ‘God’ did give us two eyes and two ears so we could see and listen and LEARN four times more than we speak. Most folks have that back to front. (big smile)

  29. 279
    Thomas says:

    263
    Richard Creager

    Oh OK, I’ll help you out a little with my metaphor.

    Take some banana, honey, coconut and pineapple and yogurt/soy milk then run that through a VitaMix. Now the outcome is RIGHT = yummy.

    Now take a banana, some pineapple, some soy milk and toss in a handful of minced beef then run that through a VitaMix. Whattya got now Richard?

    Think about what I said some more perhaps. Up to you of course. :)

  30. 280
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=7809

    … So how come some of the most strident demands to Lighten the Hell Up are coming from inside science fiction itself?

    *

    It started slow. Remember back at the beginning of the decade, when the president of Arizona State University told Neal Stephenson that the sorry state of the space program was our fault? Science fiction wasn’t bold and optimistic like it used to be, apparently. It had stopped Dreaming Big. The rocket scientists weren’t inspired because we weren’t being sufficiently inspirational.

    I’ve always found that argument a bit tenuous, but Stephenson took it to heart. Booted up “Project Hieroglyph“, a big shiny movement devoted to chasing dystopia down into the cellar and replacing it with upbeat, optimistic science fiction that could Change The World. …

  31. 281

    Nigel, #273–

    While I don’t envision human extinction as a *likely* outcome of the climate crisis, I also don’t think it can be ruled out.

    It is true, as you say, that humans in the past have survived (and often thrived) with not much in the way of resources. However, what humans have not experienced in our evolutionary past is a drastically depleted biosphere on a global scale. Usually, our cure for environmental disaster, whether of our own making or exogenous, has been to migrate. This time, if things go as badly as they possibly could, there will be no good places to migrate to–just ‘less bad’ ones.

    There’s also a secondary problem, which is that in the past, virtually the entire population was equipped with the knowledge and skills to live in the environment which was home to them–and many of those skills and much of that knowledge transferred reasonably well to new environments that inhabitants could reasonably migrate to. Today, virtually the entire population has knowledge and skills appropriate to a built environment and an artificial economy. If that collapses, most of us will die–fast.

    We are highly ingenious and adaptable, surely numbered among the environmental generalist species, who can live nearly anywhere. But we do have this Achilles heel of very, very high basal metabolism to feed our busy energy hog brains. We need lots of food. In a seriously biologically depleted world, with a maladapted skill set (barring small and very scattered numbers of survivors), will we be able to get enough, consistently enough, over a sustained term and in the face of ‘weirded weather’?

    I don’t think there’s any way to answer that definitively–which is equivalent to my thesis statement at the top of this comment.

  32. 282

    Re my previous comment–

    Of course, the collapse scenario I was talking is potentially one pathway to Killian’s RG society: folks who see this coming band together, learn/develop skills that are better adapted, survive the crash much better than most, and are then in a position to promote their culture. They’ll likely be the best hope for survival amongst all survivors, so you’d expect other survivors trying to ‘join up’ en masse–or whatever passed for en masse in the post-collapse world.

    I still find it hard to imagine that they won’t need some military capabilities to resist banditry effectively, though. And I find it hard to imagine that overall this scenario wouldn’t be a rapid pathway to a much, much lower global population.

  33. 283

    Th 278: there was not a single piece of infrastructure left and barely a building standing when the US was done with the North Koreans as their chosen fanatical paranoid proxy for China/communist mode of living.

    BPL: Keep in mind that North Korea attacked first. The Korean War was a U.N. operation. But in Thomas’s mind, Communists can do no wrong and America is the source of all evil.

  34. 284
    zebra says:

    Kevin McKinney #270,

    First, from your 272:

    …decades of experience has taught me is this: You cannot teach without dialog, for the simple reason that you cannot teach without meeting your students where they are, cognitively and emotionally; and you cannot know where they are without listening to them with respect.

    I’ve said exactly this to prospective teachers, and in various comments, here and elsewhere, all too many times. And, of course, to myself, because it is a lesson we constantly forget in the moment and must relearn. So now, about your glazed-over eyes…

    Try this.

    A. Visualize a map of the US as it is now, with a grid overlay, where the grid boxes go up in the third dimension as a function of population. You are seeing population centers of various sizes, which we will call nodes.

    Between the nodes we draw lines on the surface, which represent transportation– road, rail, airplane, electric wires, pipelines. Obviously, these lines represent the expenditure of energy, much of which is fossil fueled.

    B. Make a similar map for an arbitrary boundary value, where there is only New York City and Los Angeles, population 10 million each.

    Lay A and B on the floor of a hallway, and in between put 8 maps which diminish in overall population from the current 330 million to the hypothetical 20 million.

    What will we see?

    What I originally proposed was that the lines (energy consumption) will diminish more rapidly than the population diminishes (in a non-linear relationship).

    My reasoning: As total population diminishes, we will see the nodes “extinguish” or “melt down” to the base level. But that process is discontinuous. People leave dying towns; they don’t die themselves. They move to “healthy” nodes; the next big city up, or the big big city, whatever.

    So, we don’t eliminate e.g. the transport of food for those individuals, but we do eliminate the inefficient transport of food. On map B, if we hover over the NYC node and zoom in, we will see a similar but not identical pattern of nodes and lines, but what’s happening is not the same at all.

    OK, there’s much more to this; there are other overlays we can apply to the map. But here, the student has to participate in the dialog so that the teacher can figure out where he is cognitively, with both quantitative reasoning and visual reasoning.

  35. 285
    Mr. Know It All says:

    278 – Thomas
    “American’s are greatest supporters Nigel. Have been for decades! :-)
    As a mum/pop and their college student daughter said to me the other day …. “I wish we could bottle what Australia has and take it home with us to share with everyone in the US.””

    Anyone who leans left politically would likely make such a comment. I suspect Australia would be a great vacation spot, but no, I don’t want their government system here in the USA. I would like their 8 people per square mile population density better than our 86/sq.mi., but that’s about it.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_population_density

    We did have the opportunity, in Nov of 2016 to import the Aussie political system to the USA, but we rejected it:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvcWePEsg94
    ;)

  36. 286
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @278, yes I realised it was a typo. We all do it especially in xmas rush.

    And yes America is still doing unwise things, many unwise things with international consequences, and there are many double standards. I agree with your analysis of all this, but its more a question of how to respond to the problem, and whether its wise to start totally condemning America in a total sense. Maybe at the rate they are going, they will leaves us no option.

    There was good in the past: The Marshall plan helped other countries rebuild, and also was of benefit to America. Obviously it wasn’t done purely for altruistic motives, but it’s an example of a combination of altruism and rational self interest, so enlightened thinking and the good side of globalist thinking.

    You say “That and in a playful way I’m pointing out that what’s happening right now with Killian is simply arguing about arguing – and that means the CORE issue are being ignored here.Killian is operating from a point of sound principles and values. He is living it and acting accordingly. That’s sane and rational. That’s the best of what humanity can potentially produce, not it’s worst.”

    I hear you, but I dont think its arguing for the sake of arguing. I’m sure Killian is living better than many, and all kudos to him, however that does not mean his statements should all go unchallenged. This much should be obvious.

    It’s hard, because those of us concerned about the climate problem need a certain unity and solidarity, and focus on the big issues as you say. And clearly this means some form of reduced consumption at least of carbon intensive things. But we must also avoid group think, and we must practice healthy scepticism, and be open minded. Its a very difficult balancing act to me anyway, but I don’t see how we can avoid it, and it would be unwise to be uncritical.

    I have always said right from the start that I think Killian is right about permaculture, the need to slow growth, and that capitalism has problems. Although he is not telling me anything new, and I dreamed up the simple life low tech shared ownership philosophy myself over 20 years ago ( as no doubt many have) but have become doubtful that communal ownership can work.

    Obviously I disagree with some of Killians analysis and solutions, that’s all. He takes criticism unusually personally for some reason, even when I point out areas where I agree. I can be thin skinned myslef, but I tend to force myself to stay calm these days.

    Its not right to leave extravagant, dubious, big claims unchallenged, even if they are well meant and sort of generally right in spirit. I just cannot let things go unchallenged.

    There are two things I dislike intensely: people who understate the climate problem, and people who hugely exaggerate the problem. I think we have to be as realistic and accurate as we can, or the public will become even more cynical and dismissive. Just my opinion obviously.

    Maybe the balance should be tilted towards scaring people a little, but this is risky, and can have the opposite effect to that intended.

    All interesting discussion anyway.

  37. 287
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @281

    Ok I accept that regarding both climate change and resource use you can never 100% rule out the “possibility” of human extinction. We don’t know enough to be able to 100% rule it out.

    However the chances of extinction have to be vanishingly small. We are probably more at risk of being hit by killer cosmic particles, a fracture of the space time continuum, or an asteroid. An article in New Scientist discussed all these rather alarming issues. But they are all very low probability, and we cannot avoid thinking in terms of probablities.

    But maybe I’m nit picking. The climate and resource issues are both “really bad” problems.

    I agree we are all very skilled at things that suit our complex urban cultures and have forgotten how to plant vegetable gardens. I’m told young people cant even change a car tire. This is why I think its hard to see us adopting a simple life philosophy fast enough to deal with climate change problem, within the next 50 years.

    Yes I agree a depleted biosphere and food scarcity is a real concern. However again this issue relates to climate change, soil degradation, and general pollution. Its not a mineral resource issue. The solutions have to be some mix of alternative renewable energy, smaller population, and steady state growth and better controls on polluting activities. What else is there?

    However regarding the longer term resource scarcity issue, we have access to all the old knowledge on planting vegetable gardens and the like, and would avoid extinction. It will just be painful, and very dislocating and jarring with possible famines, hardship, death. That’s assuming exponential growth just continues, until circumstances curtail it unpleasantly and relatively abruptly. So this is why we need to slow growth starting now.

    We have a difficult and unpleasant dillema. Over millenia we will run completely out of many materials for all practical purposes. There’s nothing we can do to change this short of a miracle, even conserving materials only delays it. But smaller population will make it much easier to survive and prosper in this environment. But I digress as usual.

  38. 288
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @284 just out of interest do you think that in a future where we have smaller total population and people living in cities, that people would live in highrise towers or more in low rise villages?

    I would think if population fell significantly, there would be a move back to individual houses of maybe one or two floors. Not many people I know actually prefer highrise apartment living, over the privacy of traditional house.

    However this would push transport costs back up.

  39. 289
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    285: Well at least we have a ‘prime’ minister as opposed to a ruling ‘president’ who has the narcissist belief he is god. The senate is where laws are passed and where the real mechanics of government are, similar to the US. Re: Australia pop density, big country; but everyone crowds the coastal zones making them pretty crowded as well. We have an extremely fragile ecosystem as well which does not bode well for future climate change predictions.

  40. 290
    MA Rodger says:

    And HadCRUT has reported for November with an anomaly of +0.55ºC, marginally down on the previous two months and the coolest anomaly of the year so far. It is the 10th warmest November on the HadCRUT4 record, a significantly lower ranking than on the other temperature records (UAH 2nd, RSS & GISS 3rd, NOAA 5th). As with GISS & NOAA (& RSS TLT), the warmest November on HadCRUT is 2015 although on HadCRUT 2015 stands head-&-shoulders above the rest (+0.84ºC), 2013 (+0.66ºC), 2005 (+0.63ºC), 2001 (+0.61ºC), 2004, 2010, 2016, 2009, 2017.
    November 2017 is =96th warmest anomaly on the full all-month HadCRUT4 record (=25th in GISS, =31st in BEST, 37th UAH TLT, 45th RSS TLT, =52nd in NOAA).
    The table ranks years by the Jan-to-Nov average and with just December remaining, 2017 is firmly set in third spot for the full HadCRUT year (3rd in NOAA & UAH, 2nd spot for GISS & RSS), requiring a Dec anomaly outside the range +1.6ºC to -0.8ºC for the HadCRUT annual average to lose that 3rd spot. Thus again 2017 remains “scorchyissimo!!” for a non-ENSO-positive year.
    …….. Jan-Nov Ave … Annual Ave ..Annual ranking
    2016 .. +0.81ºC … … … +0.80ºC … … … 1st
    2015 .. +0.74ºC … … … +0.76ºC … … … 2nd
    2017 .. +0.68ºC
    2010 .. +0.58ºC … … … +0.56ºC … … … 4th
    2014 .. +0.57ºC … … … +0.58ºC … … … 3rd
    2005 .. +0.55ºC … … … +0.55ºC … … … 5th
    1998 .. +0.55ºC … … … +0.54ºC … … … 6th
    2013 .. +0.51ºC … … … +0.51ºC … … … 7th
    2002 .. +0.51ºC … … … +0.50ºC … … … 11th
    2009 .. +0.51ºC … … … +0.51ºC … … … 10th
    2007 .. +0.51ºC … … … +0.49ºC … … … 12th
    The ‘global’ monthly anomalies 2010 to date for HadCRUT, GISS, NOAA, BEST, UAH & RSS are graphed here (usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment’)

    And a few other graphs for the end of the year (all usually requiring that ‘2nd-click’).
    ♣ It was the 7th ‘strongest’ hurricane season in the North Atlantic and this after a record-breaking start 2017 being the most whimpy start to the season with a string of small storms until well into August. Almost all of 2017’s ACE was crammed into an 8-week period which truly smashed records for storm intensity/frequency.
    While other oceans also experience tropical cyclones, the longer record in the Atlantic does give this record greater climatological significance as it allows better accounting for interdecadal variation. The 2017 season reinforces the message of the 2016 season that hurricane seasons are getting stronger. We can say that a half/third of the ‘strongest’ hurricane seasons have occurred in the last sixth of the record, this a time of rising global temperatures.
    The annual rise in CO2 is now back down to the levels seen prior to the 2015/16 El Nino, averaging a little over 2ppm/yr.
    ♣ And up in the Arctic, Sea Ice Extent (plotted here as daily anomalies) through the year averaged =2nd spot, behind 2016 and tied with 2012. Outside the height of the summer melt and if you ignore the crazy 2016 Spring & Autumn, 2017 was pretty-much the meltiest year on record. That it didn’t see greater melt was perhaps because Spring 2017 winter was a very snowy affair (as graphed here) because it was snowfall and not cold that brought those high snow anomalies to the Northern Hemisphere.
    So here is an idle climatological thought. The IPCC reckon that the Mid Ploicene Warm Period provides an interesting comparison for an AGW-ed climate. But wasn’t one of the speculated reasons/“unkown factors” given for an icy Arctic ending the MPWP increased rainfall? A pan-Arctic melt of 9,000 Gt of sea ice presumably provides a significant quantity of cold fresh water to shield the pack ice from warmer deeper salty waters. And so too would Arctic basin precipitation, possible providing a similar amount. As the sea ice shrinks and is not available for melting and providnig that 9,000 Gt of fresh water, could increasing precipitation provide the protective lens of cold fresh water to compensate and sustain the ice cap? Or is there a minimum size of melt below which an icy Arctic Ocean cannot be sustained.

  41. 291
    MA Rodger says:

    Opps. Corrections to my above comment. It’s 15,000 Gt of melt not 9,000. And the failed link to discussion of the MPWP and “unkown factors” is here

  42. 292

    Nigel, #287–

    I think it’s a bit worse than ‘we can’t be 100% sure’–I think we can’t actually set a lower bound to the probability with any confidence. Is the chance of human extinction 0.1%? 1%? 10%? I don’t think that there’s a good methodology to estimate it.

    That should be a very sobering consideration, but it isn’t, because people can’t really take it in.

    There is, I think, an alternative to a resource-constrained future, where ‘resource’ includes materials we now consider unrenewable. If the population is low enough, available energy great enough, and technology sophisticated enough, you could in theory go on recycling your stocks of metals and plastics forever, making up efficiency losses by ‘mining’ seawater, until the sun goes nova or humanity just gets too damn tired to bother any more, whichever comes first.

    Here’s a piece on the current state of play in terms of seawater ‘mining’:

    http://www.miningweekly.com/article/over-40-minerals-and-metals-contained-in-seawater-their-extraction-likely-to-increase-in-the-future-2016-04-01

    Interesting that lithium extraction could potentially be commercially viable in the relatively near future.

    Disclaimer: Note that I’m not propagandizing for this particular future; this is yet another essay at exploring the problem space.

    Zebra, #284–

    Thanks. That’s an interesting model, and I suspect I’ll be pondering it a bit. A couple of questions that go to the ‘glazed eyes’ bit from previously.

    1) Why privilege the coasts particularly? IOW, why not St. Louis or Toronto as population centers, for example? (They both have good water transportation, which I why I chose them–though Toronto’s depends to an extent on the maintenance of the St. Lawrence Seaway.) Or does that matter, in your opinion?

    2) Quoting from the comment:

    As total population diminishes, we will see the nodes “extinguish” or “melt down” to the base level. But that process is discontinuous. People leave dying towns; they don’t die themselves. They move to “healthy” nodes; the next big city up, or the big big city, whatever.

    That follows from your assumption of endpoint, I suppose, so is logical. But is that necessarily what would happen based purely upon population levels? Or would people prefer to be more dispersed? (Cf., nigel’s comment about people preferring single-family dwellings to highrises.) Would this be driven by transportation costs and efficiency?

    3) The prime mover of dispersal historically, at least as presented in normal historiography, is the exploitation of various types of resources: people went to the mountains of Colorado to mine for precious metals, and to the outports of Newfoundland to harvest cod, for example. So wouldn’t patterns of geographic dispersal be strongly affected by what we’re doing to supply ourselves with needed resource? If we were mining seawater as I speculated about in the previous comment, for example, then LA and NY would indeed seem to have an important advantage over Toronto or St. Louis.

    Lots to ponder…

  43. 293
    Adam Lea says:

    290: “We can say that a half/third of the ‘strongest’ hurricane seasons have occurred in the last sixth of the record, this a time of rising global temperatures.”

    I’m unconvinced there is a significant link between Atlantic hurricane seasons and global warming. We have just had an extreme hurricane season (although it was one month that was extreme, the other five months were average), but bear in mind that in 2015, some scientists were questioning whether the Atlantic had gone back in to the quiet phase normally associated with a cold AMO cycle, given that three consecutive below-average years had occurred, which has not happened since the last quiet phase in the early 1990’s. Certainly on a global scale, there is no evidence of an increase in tropical cyclone activity over the last 50 years.

    http://policlimate.com/tropical/

  44. 294
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @292

    I dont know of any formal way of calculating probabilities of extinction. I agree its difficult to calculate, but maybe consider the following possible rules of thumb:

    1) Climate science tells us venus like conditions are ruled out by basic physics. Venus like conditions are the only plausible path to climate induced extinction Therefore I think the odds of Venus conditions causing human extinction have to be well under 1%. Do you really think they could be 10%?

    Even sea level rise and effects on agricultural productivity are hard to associate with extinction, unless conflicts and immigration pressures led to some sort of all encompassing global war.

    Climate change could of course cause extinction of many species, which live within tight temperature tolerance margins or habitat constraints.

    And climate change will certainly cause countless serious problems, some of which we cannot forsee. We have to assume the worst, and use the precautionary principle, but extinction is a step too far for me. Nitpick perhaps.

    2) Regarding your previous point on damage to the biosphere and food shortages, humanity is causing a real mess to the biosphere in multiple ways. I can see a combination of soil degradation, pollution and increased growth causing relatively sudden famines and hardship but not extinction. There could be sudden population decline of the bad sort in some regions, something I think you mentioned? But there will be crop lands and survivors, although again a lot of conflict over remaining resources might be a huge issue.

    All the more reason to look at population trends, and possibilities of permaculture farming.

    3) Regarding general resource depletion and forced changes in lifestyle, again this scenario would be destructive and jarring, but some would survive. We have the knowledge of how to live very simply if we must, so I cant envisage extinction, but I can envisage huge problems adapting. Again, this is why phasing down growth in a smooth way seems preferable. By analogy its like destructive economic bubbles: prevention is better than cure.

    Regarding your comments on a resource constrained future. The problem is while metals can be recycled indefinitely without degradation ( so I’m told), there are still losses of quantities and waste. Plastics and glass can only be recycled a few times, but fortunately we have alternative products and ample raw materials for glass. If we reserved fossil fuels just for plastics it would be useful, and better than burning the things.

    I do agree new processes will extend what is feasible for recycling, but there’s got to be some eventual limit with some materials. We could ultimately be reliant on the planets geological ability to produce new mineral resources, an agonisingly slow process. But even at that extreme, there would be a viable population size.

    And even in your more optimistic scenario (which I largely do share) only smaller population appears viable if its to be at a reasonable standard of living.

    I think fwiw the real issue is accepting that whatever we do there will be a)challenges and b) some considerable pressure on population and consumption and we can either let this overwhelm us in a harsh way, or plan for it and downsize gradually to minimise shocks. Its really all an adaptation and rate of change problem more than anything.

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  47. 297
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Holy Cow! Record cold in the eastern half of the USA!

    Then, there’s this video by Meteorologist David Dilley that gives the real reasons for climate change:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WaU_NJfKOE

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL from the troll who knows it all!

    :)

    Sea levels steady as she goes in my real-time sea level monitoring station; 13 hours ahead of Pacific Time Zone:

    https://www.skylinewebcams.com/en/webcam/maldives/lhaviyani-atoll/kurendhoo/maldives-kuredu.html

    I’ll bet Thomas, Killian, nigel, etc have added many pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere, this month alone, due to excessive computer use! :)

  48. 298
    Mr. Know It All says:

    I didn’t realize that the USA was never even IN the Paris climate agreement, so Trump did not “pull out” because we were never “in”. In an unconstitutional move, Obama “adopted” the agreement by executive order and failed to get consent of congress which is required to be a party to the treaty.

    All this time everyone has been yelling and screaming about evil Trump pulling out, when, in fact, we were never in. This is the opinion of the Washington Post – about as leftist as it gets:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/06/01/the-u-s-cant-quit-the-paris-climate-agreement-because-it-never-actually-joined/?utm_term=.633a4d827e08

    Happy New Year!

  49. 299
    Richard Creager says:

    Thomas 276 “Feel free to contribute something here. After reading the posts here for how long (_?) as a lurker, you pop up to complain about those who do, and then this is all you got? Really? :)”

    I lurk here to listen and learn. Back before the ban, when the Unforced Variations veered into the nuclear wars, at least comments often included actual information and links to further support, about an issue on society’s dockett. Lurkers are reluctant to “contribute something here” (speaking for myself) because we lack specific high expertise. Fortunately (if use of that word can be imagined here) the war for civilization as we know it is a catholic enterprise. Because a satisfactory response to AGW will require near ideal decision making from all organizations at all levels of society, from families to governments and multinationals , starting now; we don’t necessarily have to “contribute here”. I can challenge high management at an employee forum where I work to describe where in the organization the responsibility for responding to CC resides, ask at every committee meeting of every organization I’m affiliated with whether there is a way to reduce fuel use in the resolution of the matter before the group. Etc. I have enough background to spin plausible scenarios here that i.e. the demographic transition in developing countries to smaller families will occur because of resource depletion (nigel 273 good one, that), why climate change will eventually drive humans to (re?)adopt a beach-shallows semi-aquatic existence, or whatever, and support them with analogies or plausible arguments, but that’s not science. I don’t know and I know that I don’t know. Instead I see people stating a social outcome they think likely, then shout it when others don’t embrace it. No analysis. No, spinning a plausible scenario that really appeals to you isn’t analysis. C’mon, I’d like an actual discussion about sustainability. No unicorns, what do we do now to make it happen. We need to shut down all fossil fuel use essentially immediately for a decent chance to retain a recognizable civilization. So we need to rapidly add all transportation, all heating and a growing cooling energy budget to the grid and run it all with renewables. How do we do that? Can we talk about nukes again? How do the nuts and bolts work, the devil in the details? How to get there, what does the transition look like?

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    Mr. Know It All says:

    289 – Lawrence Coleman

    I’m starting to better understand the Aussie mindset. From 32:40 to 35:50 in this excellent video on the climate change fad, paleoclimatologist Bob Carter explains the environmental education system in Australia. His explanation makes many of the conversations we read on UV easier to understand. I suspect the US system is no better. Ditto around the world.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XtIUx8bjeU

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!