RealClimate logo


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. 351
    Thomas says:

    ABSTRACT

    In 1973, Ernest Becker, a cultural anthropologist cross-trained in philosophy, sociology, and psychiatry, invoked consciousness of self and the inevitability of death as the primary sources of human anxiety and repression. He proposed that the psychological basis of cooperation, competition, and emotional and mental health is a tendency to hold tightly to anxiety-buffering cultural world views or “immortality projects” that serve as the basis for self-esteem and meaning.

    Although he focused mainly on social and political outcomes like war, torture, and genocide, he was increasingly aware that materialism, denial of nature, and immortality-striving efforts to control, rather than sanctify, the natural world were problems whose severity was increasing.

    In this paper I review Becker’s ideas and suggest ways in which they illuminate human response to global climate change. Because immortality projects range from belief in technology and materialism to reverence for nature or belief in a celestial god, they act both as barriers to and facilitators of sustainable practices.

    I propose that Becker’s cross-disciplinary “science of man,” and the predictions it generates for proximate-level determinants of social behavior, add significantly to our understanding of and potential for managing the people paradox, i.e., that the very things that bring us symbolic immortality often conflict with our prospects for survival.

    Analysis of immortality projects as one of the proximate barriers to addressing climate change is both cautionary and hopeful, providing insights that should be included in the cross-disciplinary quest to uncover new pathways toward rational, social change.

    Key words: environmental behavior, birds, icons, social psychology, terror management theory, conservation; immortality projects

    https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss1/art34/main.html

    Note: Please provide a 200-300 word precise of the paper that shows your thorough understanding of the Paper and the issues discussed and the conclusions / recommendations BEFORE attempting to comment or engage in further dialogue with me about it. :-)

  2. 352
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @338

    “Other countries may gain something in terms of agricultural productivity…

    Not unless warming is limited, fast. There may be short-term gains in productivity, but the more agricultural productivity is threatened across the globe.”

    Yes fair enough. I was thinking of a few very northerly countries like Russia may benefit from warming and crop productivity. But they would be the exception, and its possible warming could actually get seriously out of control in Russia, due to permafrost issues and arctic issues. They would also probably be vulnerable to a change in the north atlantic current, which paradoxically could cause a mini ice age in the north.

    If Russia has any sense they will reduce emissions. They probably think they will benefit from climate change – but they wont.

  3. 353
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @350 thanks for the links. Some most interesting stuff. And yes risk assessment is important, and various species are at risk of extinction etc.

    But none of those sources appear to claim climate change could cause extinction of all of humanity as in “all” of humanity. This was my original point: nothing more or less. Words are important, and I was precisely clear I was stalking about extinction of all of humanity, not some limited sub groups, or animal species (all of which is quite horrendous enough).

    And regarding your comment: “Yes BPL it’s the communists fault for allowing the USA to get to this point of getting out of the Paris Accord …. there’s more idiots like Mr KIA in the USA than communists who died in WW2 that enabled all the Mr KIAs to talk absolute crap and destroy your democracy wholus-bollus. Bloody Communists! Bad bad bad!”

    Putting aside the snarky comment about Mr KIA (although his understanding is indeed limited) the rest is most amusing with an element of truth. Read a book on WW2 recently and Russia had horrendous casualties of about 30 million. But for goodness sake I assume you are just sparking debate, and do actually realise the foreign policy history of ‘both’ America and Russia is not without some failings? And yes that would be an understatement. But we better not spam things with such dialogue, as it will piss off sensitive striped animals.

  4. 354
    nigelj says:

    BPL @349

    The trouble is his personality problems mean he isn’t aware he has personality problems, much like certain political leaders.

  5. 355
    Killian says:

    Stumbled across this “Killianesque” view of needed changes.

    First… we are already consuming 1.5 times more than the earth is able to renew… we need to reduce our resource draw by 33%. Second, world population is… going to increase… 25%… reduce… a further 25%. Third… top 20% of humans are 40 times richer than the bottom 20%. [Worse now, four years later.] …seem reasonable for the top 20% to reduce consumption by a factor of 4 and the bottom 20% to increase by a factor of 4… for countries like Australia… a further 75%.

    Multiply these factors together and we end up with a reduction to about 6% of what we currently consume… This is the goal we need to set…

    Suppose… in 100 years time… biodiversity has ceased its dive into mass extinction; CO2 is under control; global population is in a manageable decline;… damage to ecosystems is being reversed and healed; and we are living within our planetary means.

    To countenance such a deep and radical change requires us to rethink the entire way we organise humanity, politically, economically and socially.

    …At present we have adversarial systems of governance – both political and economic. These work in an open system, a world with few humans…

    But in a closed system, full of humanity… Only cooperative systems of organisation, both political and economic, can achieve this.

    https://theconversation.com/our-sustainability-crisis-didnt-start-and-doesnt-stop-at-climate-change-17471

    New Years where I am, so here’s to a rebirth everywhere, and an end to the stupidity of ego blocking change.

  6. 356
    Mr. Know It All says:

    332 – Killian wrote: “Presidents negotiate and agree to. Congress ratifies. Given our Congress prefers to commit Crimes Against Humanity, the President had no choice. Also, UN agreements happen all the time without Congress. This is not a treaty between individual nations, like extradition treaties, economic agreements, or even the treaty on Parental Abduction which explicitly states agreements between individual nations are necessary for it to take effect in those nations. No, this a global decision on a global issue. Bypassing Congress is legit, imo.”

    HEY, Good call! Donald Trump agrees 100% with you – that’s why he got out of the Paris agreement (well, we were never “in” it, but let’s forget about that.) I’ll let President Trump know that it’s OK if he bypasses congress – he has a few things on his list that need to be done right away. ;)

    324 – Thomas wrote: “…I wouldn’t even let his posts make it to the Bore hole, instead I’d have already thrown a few lawsuits at him and his ISP. (shrug)”

    Holy Cow! Thomas is gonna sue me cause I say things he doesn’t like! :( I did a little research into the Aussie mindset, to see how this type of thinking could happen. I hit the mother lode of info on Aussie fascism. Explains his comment to a T:

    https://thoughtcatalog.com/joshua-goldberg/2014/08/why-hate-speech-laws-have-more-in-common-with-fascism-than-democracy/

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! May all liberal US states ban the use of FFs within their borders!

  7. 357
    Killian says:

    Re: Reductions.

    I have stated how I arrive at reduction levels here, and elsewhere, before. However, to short-circuit falsehoods told here, let us do it again. Now, you can take the more technical tack such as in the article I have already copied/posted from theconversation dot com. I prefer clear, concise BOTE calculations that my neighbors can follow because, at the end of the day, they will be the creators of sustainable communities.

    1. 1.5 Earths. U.S. uses @ 20-25% of all resources. U.S. has 4.5% of global population. U.S. should use 4.5% of resources (per capita numbers are similar for Australia, Canada, Switzerland, etc.) Ergo, 80% reduction just to fit into a just social milieu allowing others to consume more. Consider what that means for OECD nations. (So, when people say they will not accept lower lifestyles, they are saying they support the enslavement of the world to meet our needs, period, let alone being willing to get to sustainability.)

    1b. Getting to sustainability requires OECD reductions of that 80%-ish number and the 3- 5 billion impoverished staying that way OR cutting further to 90% and supporting some rise in SoL for the rest of the planet because we cannot just reduce to our fair footprint, we have consume at not just a sustainable rate, but a *healing* rate, which means < one Earth for some period of time.

    We are talking radical simplicity here, no matter how you look at it.

    2. Tipping points. The most important metric we have for planning is the nature of tipping points and the rates at which change can come.

    A. Chaotic bifurcations cannot be easily identified at present. Generally, if you can identify them, they are already happening, and it is too late to avoid them. (Anyone dealing with climate, resources, and change really should have an intuitive sense of Chaos.)

    B. Bifurcations can occur significantly after tipping points are passed. I.e., we could have passed a critical climate tipping point 20 years ago that only smacks upside the head this year.

    B1. We passed 300 – 315ppm around 1900 to 1920 or so and the Arctic started showing melt in 1953. The Antarctic and Greenland joined in soon after, though that is a very new realization. [Some of you may recall I said years ago there was no way Antarctica was going to wait till 2100 to start melting given the melt in the north, then we find out it has been for decades…]

    B2. Recent analysis of corals off the Texas coast found decadal changes of 1.5 M, perhaps more, of sea level.

    B3. Hansen, et al., found evidence of short-term doubling rates in SLR/melt (I believe it was) over the last decade, and even one case of doubling in only six years, IIRC. JH has theorized doubling times of 5 years. Do that math if you're looking for something to keep you awake.

    So, we don't have time to sit and slowly change things, and the only way to reduce consumption and atmospheric carbon in ways that do it fast enough to limit SLR to 10 ft. or so, avoid destruction of global potable water resources, and create equity and justice within a new, sustainable paradigm is rapid simplification.

    There is no other choice.

    There are more ways to do this calculation. Go figure them out if you still doubt.

    Cheers

  8. 358
    Killian says:

    Ah. check this out, too. David Suzuki book references 80 and 90% reductions by various organizations:
    https://books.google.co.kr/books?id=LGO9BwAAQBAJ&pg=PA94&lpg=PA94&dq=90%25+reduction+in+consumption&source=bl&ots=IPHlLmgmQE&sig=JmoGNMOxWTwzaeR4BO6Q1difKYg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwikgsfQn7PYAhWMybwKHT-wAqkQ6AEIRTAG#v=onepage&q=90%25%20reduction%20in%20consumption&f=false

    OECD calls for such reductions. And the World Resources Institute. And the Wuppertal Institute. Etc. Page 94, e.g.

    But, hey, it’s just Killianism. Any of you could have searched out any of this at any time. You didn’t. That’s a character issue.

  9. 359
    zebra says:

    Kevin M,

    “Simplicio”, and your response to Killian at 342: It is obvious that the kind of cooperative role-playing we are engaged in here is just completely alien to his psychology. In any event, since I’m not actually writing your lines in this Dialogue, you always have the opportunity to make me the fool if you can, so don’t be such a martyr, dude! :^)

    Anyway, back to work.

    The thing is, we’re not playing a movie backwards here. When the continent was populated, there was a different economic paradigm:

    Population was growing, demand was growing, and so LNC was undertaken with little thought to long-term optimization of the infrastructure. You can’t bring assumptions from that situation to the declining population model. About the non-linearity:

    In map B, if you want to transport humans from LA to NYC, a commercial airliner takes off and lands once. In map A, it makes economic sense (for the airline) to have some flights that make a lot of stops, picking up and dropping off passengers for say five nodes. Well, you don’t have to be a math and physics genius to see how much you gain by eliminating even one node.

    And remember, we don’t eliminate the entire population of that node! They are relocated to some other node, because Both Populations Decline! So, yes, this is by definition non-linear.

    We can make the same analysis about transporting materials. In B, a railroad can bring stuff to the center of “NY” or “LA” (from the other) and then electric trucks can distribute along the spokes, because the distance is say 100 miles at most. In A, much as I am a Musk fanboy, his electric semi is not going to replace all the diesels driving in and out of… well, everywhere in the USA, along that rectilinear net… any time soon.

    So, I’m going to take a break until the next UV pops up. Think for yourself about overlaying the map with a map of “degree days”. There will be optimal locations in terms of energy consumption. Think about floodplains and tornado alleys and so on, and the energy and materials cost of rebuilding saved by depopulating those areas. Extra credit if you come up with some overlays on your own.

    See you in the new year, and thanks for the civil discussion.

  10. 360
  11. 361
    Matthew R Marler says:

    351 Thomas: Note: Please provide a 200-300 word precise of the paper

    The word is “précis”.

    No, I did not read the paper.

  12. 362
    Richard Creager says:

    Killian 330
    “That is, you have said absolutely nothing of value.” Here’s a tidbit just for you, re your assertion at 273 that scarcity of resources will force us to “have smaller families” and so reduce population growth. The demographic transition to smaller families and reduced fertility occurs in response to abundance, societies invariably increase fertility in response to scarcity. An excellent primer on this as well as other issues relevant to this thread is “Only One World” by Gerard Piel, founder of Scientific American. Cheers.

  13. 363
    Thomas says:

    Nigel, “but not on a frigging climate website.”

    I totally agree. Yes, can someone please tell BPL to stop it?

    I can’t because if I did try he’s liable to think I was talking about watermelons instead!

  14. 364
    Thomas says:

    361 Matthew R Marler. The site is a public discussion group! You know what it said, so what’s the damned problem?

    Oh, I am too lazy to spend 10-15 minutes trying work out how to do an acute on my keyboard. And no I don’t want to know, I simply do not care. So sorry Matthew, I have better things to do with my time, unlike yourself. :-)

    Bail me up when you got the job to peer review my book, article or paper …. until then….. chill out and deal with it.

  15. 365
    Thomas says:

    333 Killian says: “Yes, I know… It’s not you, it’s me. Right, Thomas? ;-)

    Glaring at you with my wide open reddened eyes and remonstrating with my pointed finger waggain at you while saying in loud screeching voice:

    Thomas says: “of course it’s YOU killian!! Couldn’t possibly be anyone else involved – you’re so powerful you can create a whole new reality out of whole cloth. Now, GIT with the program you you you Dufus, or you’re outta here!” :)

  16. 366
    Thomas says:

    353 nigelj says: 30 Dec 2017 at 9:09 PM

    Thomas @350 thanks for the links. Some most interesting stuff. And yes risk assessment is important, and various species are at risk of extinction etc.

    But none of those sources appear to claim climate change could cause extinction of all of humanity as in “all” of humanity.

    Nigel, I tossed a cpl of easy refs to you as fresh meat. Up to you to go chase down the underlying sources and refs and evidence and analysis therefore that’s been done. That’s your job. It’s not job to “convince” you of anything – that’s 100% your job. See what I mean? If you want to know something you really need to WANT it and then do something. Hand feeding is for pidegeons I reckon. My time is money. Please don;t look gift horses in the face. We only get X number of free dinners each Life… then we’re on our lonesome.

  17. 367
    Thomas says:

    Nigel ….. “But for goodness sake I assume you are just sparking debate, and do actually realise the foreign policy history of ‘both’ America and Russia is not without some failings? And yes that would be an understatement. But we better not spam things with such dialogue, as it will piss off sensitive striped animals.”

    First Principles? Well one would be to enure one clearly recalls what I first said, the context and the enshrined metaphor within it.

    If you missed that, then all further analysis is moot and worthless mate. BPL has the problem here, not me. I’m merely throwing kerosene on his own self-immolation. Someone should tel him to stop and go research those links I gave and then some. Not my problem, I am not the “cause”. :-)

  18. 368
    Thomas says:

    Well re 354 I surely thank christ that BPL and Nigel are on the ball when it comes to “personality disorders”. :)

  19. 369
    Thomas says:

    356 so says the Fascist.

    Mmmm. Cognitive Dissonance looks nice on you Mr KIA. Bah Humbug BS, iow!

  20. 370
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @367, I can’t recall who threw kerosine on who’s ammunition first! Just stop both of you.

    I do get your angst. So called “leading global nation” acting like a child. Its depressing.

    Thank’s again for the links on dangerous climate change. I get it, I don’t expect you to spend pages more on it.

    I’m just fussy about how we use the word ‘extinction’, more in reference to Killian and KM than anyone. Its a big word so needs to be used carefully.

    Hope the new years hangover wasn’t too big.

  21. 371
    nigelj says:

    Killian @357

    “U.S. uses @ 20-25% of all resources. U.S. has 4.5% of global population. U.S. should use 4.5% of resources (per capita numbers are similar for Australia, Canada, Switzerland, etc.) Ergo, 80% reduction just to fit into a just social milieu allowing others to consume more.”

    Nice in theory, and I agree at least some redistribution makes sense. But I can’t see an 80% reduction in consumption happening, and it would impoverish many lower income Americans. Do you really see people voluntarily making such adjustments, especially over the next 50 years? Such cultural changes if they happen at all tend to be slower.

    Plus many of Americas resources / wealth are in hard infrastructure. I’m mystified how you would redistribute those?

    “B. Bifurcations can occur significantly after tipping points are passed. I.e., we could have passed a critical climate tipping point 20 years ago that only smacks upside the head this year.”

    Come on, yes its possible, anythings possible, but don’t do science on guesswork and imagination. Please I suggest just stay with IPCC science, but imho its prudent to assume worst case IPCC scenarios.

    “B3. Hansen, et al., found evidence of short-term doubling rates in SLR/melt (I believe it was) over the last decade, and even one case of doubling in only six years, IIRC. JH has theorized doubling times of 5 years. Do that math if you’re looking for something to keep you awake.”

    Hansen is an outlier. It’s the same thing where some studies show low climate sensitivity and are outliers as well. Imho we should assume worst case IPCC scenarios – but not more, because if we assume more where do you start and stop? You get panic. But imo even the middle ground IPCC predictions and models look extremely concerning, and I have a bad feeling that even 2 degrees is going to give us seriously more damaging weather.

    “So, we don’t have time to sit and slowly change things and the only way to reduce consumption and atmospheric carbon in ways that do it fast enough to limit SLR to 10 ft. or so, avoid destruction of global potable water resources, and create equity and justice within a new, sustainable paradigm is rapid simplification.”

    Yes we don’t have time to slowly reduce the climate problem. But imho the only realistic way of doing it fast is renewable energy etc, for reasons I have said several times. It looks much easier to persuade people to adopt renewable energy etc than huge cuts to consumption or radical lifestyle changes.

    “There are more ways to do this calculation. Go figure them out if you still doubt.”

    I don’t see any calculations, maths, equations. Or maybe you are just speaking figuratively.

    Imho you are right at least regarding resource depletion and the wider longer term environmental issue: We need some level of lower population and reduced consumption. You get it better than Zebra, or maybe he is just focusing only on population models.

    But its really complex.

    You have to look at business as usual growth scenarios, resource limits, and recycling and how its most likely to play out over time. Business as usual is likely to eventually bring growth crashing to a stop with hardship, famines, etc in some places. Population may be forced to adjust down, as recycling becomes harder and more expensive, until an equilibrium is reached. Its about the laws of physics ultimately and what they will do to human populations.

    Make no mistake some lower level of consumption and population is a given. It’s just a question of whether it bites us, or we phase down smoothly and avoid the worst.

    We need to phase down smoothly. I would suggest deliberate zero economic growth has to be a given, and population will gradually fall over multiple centuries, but slowly for obvious reasons. Recycling and mining sea water etc has potential which will extend the adjustment phase.

    It’s incredibly hard to calculate any of this, but here are some rules of thumb:

    Reserves of materials are probably underestimated. I think we have at least two centuries before we do serious recycling, and this will last us several centuries before it becomes difficult and limitations set in. The big problem is gradual waste and loss of materials.

    Over the next one to five centuries I can envisage population falling smoothly from 10 billion down to some lower figure, but slowly, and zero gdp growth happening (or even moderate negative growth) over this period, and this would probably be enough reduce severe resource limit impacts and social collapse.

    A rapid plan of very substantially reduced consumption over the next 50 years approx. doesn’t seem to offer enough advantages, and will cause severe hardship, and it will be hard to convince people. But we can certainly at least reduce consumption of the obvious crap we don’t really need and there’s plenty of that. This de-cluttering has a range of hidden benefits.

    I make no apologies for wordy post. Its a complex issue.

  22. 372

    Killian, #333, Nigel, #343–

    Missed the ‘Scripps link’ the first time around–scrolling over-rapidly, I think–and so I’m glad for the second reference to it.

    But yikes!

    “There is a low probability that the change will be catastrophic. But you would not get on an airplane if you thought there was a 5 percent chance that it was going to crash.”

    He noted that the probability of an existential threat is even smaller, but said, “that chance rises to 20 to 30 percent by 2070.”

    If you, too, missed the link, “existential threat” means just what it sounds like–and 20-30% by 2070?!?!

    Highly non-trivial, to say the least.

  23. 373

    Well, here’s hoping that 2018 will feature events that decrease the chances of existential crisis. Hey, it could happen!

    Happy New Year…

  24. 374
    Killian says:

    #362 Richard Creager said Here’s a tidbit just for you, re your assertion at 273 that scarcity of resources will force us to “have smaller families” and so reduce population growth. The demographic transition to smaller families and reduced fertility occurs in response to abundance

    Population never falls due to lack? I think not. More importantly, do you reallt consider a dying planet to be equal to ideas developed under the “perfect” conditiins of the last 10k years? Chaos and Liebigs and water… etc., have no effect?

    This time is not, in fact, different?

  25. 375
    Killian says:

    Zebra, et al.: Populations have dispersed, been dispersed, or disappeared in every collapse I am aware of. Maya, Rome, Dark Ages, Anasaszi…

    Examples of the oposite?

  26. 376
    Killian says:

    nigelj says god knows what.

    Killian @333, you complain

    No, I didn’t. One time you say words matter, next you make words up.

    Zebra’s population reduction can’t happen fast enough to deal with climate issue. Of course it cannot. It’s impossible to see enough people deciding to have one child families

    Good christ… exponents… if we don’t stop population growth, we literally cover the planet in short order. If they won’t under **existential threat**, then when?

    I wish to god you understood a fraction of what you think you do.

    However I would say your steep cuts to consumption have ‘exactly’ the same problem.

    Did you even notice the Straw Man? I said nothing about what people will or won’t do. Only you believe if people understand ever-growing numbers of humans will end humanity they still will not reduce.

    What I said was about demographics, not a justification to change nothing of import, as you keep suggesting.

    You cannot compare a statement on demographics with one based on collapse theory, regenerative practices, existential threats and on and on.

    I can only see people accepting renewable energy, and some reductions to carbon footprint etc.

    Yes, simplifying is good.

    Changes in attitudes to family size and consuming less take time to evolve obviously, and will happen but I feel it will take more than 50 years.

    Glad you “feel” that because demographics experts expect peak before that, so what the hell are constantly yelping about in this regard?

    Further, I have said repeatedly sustainability can be done in 20 to 100 years, putting your 50 years squarely in that range.

    You are arguing with yourself, for chrissake.

    Last: Stop referencing me in this asinine discussion of population as THE pathway to sustainability.

    It is beyond obvious this cannot be the case, so discussing it is like discussing whether Santa really comes to every house every year.

  27. 377
    Killian says:

    Re 350,

    Yeah… no. Don’t care that people are stupid. I have never claimed messaging as part of what I do. Damned fools will listen or won’t.

  28. 378

    Th 367: BPL has the problem here, not me.

    BPL: Yes, Thomas, you’re utterly blameless.

  29. 379
    Hank Roberts says:

    What are the hilights from the fall AGU, which the original post here asked for in this thread?

    https://fallmeeting.agu.org/2017/
    Or where is that being blogged about, if not here?