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Forced Responses: Jan 2018

Filed under: — group @ 1 January 2018

This is a new class of open thread for discussions of climate solutions, mitigation and adaptation. As always, please be respectful of other commentators and try to avoid using repetition to make your points. Discussions related to the physical Earth System should be on the Unforced Variations threads.

601 Responses to “Forced Responses: Jan 2018”

  1. 201
    Thomas says:

    190 Kevin McKinney:
    Zebra, #169– “So, what exactly has to happen in the next 20 years, in your view, to solve the “carbon crisis”? And what would count as “solving the carbon crisis”?”

    Net zero carbon emissions.

    I agree K. but would like to see some very specific actions undertaken that are immediately “observable” and “provable”.

    across those 20 years … eg
    Today thru Yr 1 – Global Moratorium on opening new coal mines and new gas fields.
    Yr1-Yr2 – Global Moratorium on building/opening new Coal Fired Power Stations.
    Yr3-Yr5 – Global Agreement of MV fuel efficiency standards to be ramped up progressively over the following decade to Yr15.
    Yr5-Yr10 – Global Green Tax on AvGas beginning at 100% increasing to 300% thus making all air travel and cargo a “Luxury” activity and
    Yr5 + therefore Trains & Ships a new “high carbon efficiency” growth industry, including Electric Solar Powered Trains and suburban Light Rail.
    Yr5+ – Permanent Global Ban on exploration and opening new Coal/Gas fields and the building new Coal Fired Power Stations
    Yr10 – Global Moratorium on building/opening new GAS Fired Power Stations.
    Yr15 (2033)- Permanent Global Ban on building new GAS Fired Power Stations.

    Cut off the head of the snake, etc.

  2. 202
    Thomas says:

    re batteries etc., I am not up to speed on all the issues, but did post this info last year (?) about aluminium/carbon batteries research.
    https://www.asianscientist.com/2016/04/tech/aluminum-graphite-battery/
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aenm.201502588

    I have no idea how ‘practical or realistic’ an option these may become long term – my only point being that research and development may be progressing at rates no avg Joe can keep up with.

    What I do know is that if you’re driving your tesla or hybrid through country nth nsw, there is a EV recharger service located in the Byron Bay Library Car Park ….. it kind looks just like a petrol bowser from a distance. :-)

  3. 203
    nigelj says:

    Killian @191, another thing on “holistic thinking” since you raised the idea. And also “risk management”.

    We have three principal options for dealing with both the climate problem, and the looming minerals scarcity problem. 1) reduce emissions with renewable energy, use of natural carbon sinks,etc 2) reduce general consumption levels, and 3) reduce population growth.

    All are difficult goals in terms of motivating individuals and achieving appropriate government responses, so putting all our energy into promoting just one is high risk. We have to promote all three, and hope the results add up to enough to a smooth transition through looming problems.

    This is the holistic approach, and also the appropriate risk management approach. Having done some project management, I know plenty about both risk and how “all things are connected”.

    As far as I’m concerned recycling is a given, and will happen increasingly through necessity.

  4. 204
    Killian says:

    #164 Mr. Know It All said 160 – Adam
    “Mankind is driven by instincts and cognitive biases that evolved millions of years ago. These instincts worked well for survival in that era when the world was a very different place…

    For most of the history of mankind, short term survival was their #1 concern.

    Said whom? How did you ask them their mindset? I ask because the people *still* living H-G and pastoral lives do exactly the opposite. Given we now have evidence of intentional management of the environment going back 35 to 50k years ago, I think you are completely off.

  5. 205
    Killian says:

    #192 Kevin McKinney said Regarding the much-hyped “cobalt crisis”, it’s not going to be a limiting factor for EV batteries, period.

    You don’t usually completely miss the point. You have here. See why? Or, did you for some reason choose to go non-sequitur?

    And, none of the three bits mentioned, cobaly and its sources,are used solely in batteries, so… your point is…?

  6. 206
    zebra says:

    Kevin M 190,

    Since that has zero probability of happening, we are left with my mitigation, adaptation, and sustainability goals. And we are left with a more probable timeline, like 150 years, as I have suggested, for a near-zero emissions regime. At which point, adaptation will still be an urgent need as the climate system continues to be disrupted.

    Perhaps, as I said before, I am a belt-and-suspenders kind of designer. It seems irrational to me to eschew a redundancy that requires little sacrifice and covers all three (M,A,S), rather than just reducing CO2.

  7. 207
    Jim Baird says:

    Equilibrium climate sensitivity describes how much the planet will warm if carbon dioxide levels were to double, and the Earth goes on to cope and stabilize to the new atmosphere.

    Canadian patent application 2,958,456, 2017/02/21, load balances the trapped solar energy by converting it in total to deep water(1000 meters) through heat engines that converts between 4 to 7 percent of the heat to productive work. Since heat rises, the balance of the sequestered heat is back at the surface in 250 years when it can be recycled once again through the heat engines. We can get as much as energy and more as we currently get from fossil fuels for the next 3000 to 6000 years while maintaining the current surface temperature at the same 15C level.

    This is the best way for the Earth to cope and stabilize to the current atmosphere.

  8. 208
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @201, good idea on global agreements on no new coal mines etc. This is clear cut policy that gets right at the source of the problem, and seems the obvious first step.It could be policed with sanctions, or at least name and shame.

  9. 209
    nigelj says:

    Killian @205

    “And, none of the three bits mentioned, cobaly (cobalt) and its sources,are used solely in batteries, so… your point is…?”

    In fact the main use for cobalt is in superalloys, including gas turbines and jet aircraft engines. Since we are trying to discourage fossil fuel burning and excessive air travel, it makes sense to transition slowly from these uses towards battery technology.

    Cobalt has uses in catalysts, teeth implants and medical radiation therapy but quantities used are small. Its also used as cobalt blue in paint pigments.

    So your line of argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

  10. 210

    #205, Killian–

    Well, I made the point I intended to make. It was about EVs, and the [non] necessity of cobalt for their batteries. Not sure why you think it’s a ‘non-sequitur,’ as I’ve been talking about EVs for some time.

    If you are making the point that cobalt is a non-renewable resource, then, sure.

  11. 211
    nigelj says:

    zebra @206

    “Perhaps, as I said before, I am a belt-and-suspenders kind of designer. It seems irrational to me to eschew a redundancy (smaller population) that requires little sacrifice and covers all three (M,A,S), rather than just reducing CO2.”

    I have not heard KM, or Killian, or anyone else oppose smaller population, so why do you keep on repeatedly suggesting we do?

    We have raised some problems and issues with smaller population. This doesn’t mean we have fundamental disagreement over the principle. Its just a discussion and all sorts of stuff will get thrown in.

    I think you need to address specific criticisms people make, and stop changing the subject. You need to also progress to a discussion of what you would do to encourage smaller population. You are a smart, educated guy so must have some ideas. Don’t worry about any criticism of them, we all get criticised.

  12. 212
    Killian says:

    #200 nigelj said “If you build batteries, you destroy Nature.”

    I see it more as transforming nature.

    You are incorrect.

    There’s a difference between transforming nature, and destroying nature and making the planet uninhabitable and a waste land.

    And you do not understand it.

    Holistic thinking? This is good, provided the holistic thinking is extremely robustly thought through.

    Barking words.

  13. 213
    Killian says:

    #210 Kevin McKinney said Well, I made the point I intended to make…

    If you are making the point that cobalt is a non-renewable resource, then, sure.

    Yes, that was the point. The batteries and cars were never the point, though nige, as usual, doesn’t seem to understand that. Changing the topic confuses some of our fellow posters, so staying on topic is generally low-lying fruit WRT avoiding silly comments from the gallery. Speaking of which…

    nigelj, # who cares, I made no point about cobalt and batteries nor cars. They were merely an example to illustrate a finite resource. But, of course, all of you instantly start yammering, essentially, about endless substitution. Round and round we go…

    You also made some dumb comment about having to use all three… as if, in some absurd dream of yours I had ever said any differently. It is amusing to see what you were saying months ago vs. today and doing so as if you have been the teacher.

    LOL…

    But, no, Master, that is not a holistic approach, it is a wholistic approach,though a deeply flawed one. Further, you can pretend simplification is not part of the future – and the only way these goals become holistic – if you wish.

    You are, per usual, wrong.

    Ah, and good to see you talking about risk after having it beaten into your head for months. But, please, don’t be Trumpy and keep claiming you have been doing the teaching.

  14. 214
    nigelj says:

    Killian @212

    You are starting to sound a lot like Donald Trump. In the sense of the same empty rhetoric and simplistic denials, and precisely zero facts, and zero carefully developed rational argument.

  15. 215
    nigelj says:

    Killian @213

    “nigelj, # who cares, I made no point about cobalt and batteries nor cars”

    Yes you did. You said “And, none of the three bits mentioned, cobaly and its sources,are used solely in batteries, so… your point is…?”

    “You also made some dumb comment about having to use all three…”

    No I essentially said cobalt has a range of current applications and the main ones are in gas turbines and aircraft. I said we should not be using gas fired generation as much as we are, and aircraft travel so we can use cobalt more for batteries.

    Of course its a specific material. I know you are also talking about general materials substitution as well, and I respect that, but you raised specifics about cobalt.

  16. 216
    nigelj says:

    Killian @213

    Regarding general issues of materials and metals.

    You have promoted a low tech. culture, but conceded it will still use some metals. Therefore eventually even a low technology culture will completely run out of metals, its just a matter of time. We both know recycling has some level of waste over long time periods. Humanity is slowly heading towards a culture without metals and also oil etc. IMO we will be forced down in population size and consumption, but its too far in the future to really know what will happen, and what novel science and recycling discoveries will be made.

    All you are doing is rationing use of metals (and other materials)and delaying the inevitable. There is some sense in this, but over rationing creates as many problems as excessive use. I think the best option is zero gdp growth, or mildly negative growth. This will smooth the transition. Cutting consumption more radically will cause huge problems, and still wont avoid ultimate resource limits.

    Please understand I’m being sceptical about some things, because this is a science forum and we should be sceptics. People have promoted low tech sustainable communities where I live, and I have said to people listen and think about it. I have certainly not rubbished the idea.

  17. 217
    nigelj says:

    Jim Baird @217

    It would have helped to get a description of how such heat engines work in your post. They would require a lot of energy to run, and a lot of engines to extract enough heat from the atmosphere, so the cost would be in the many trillions of dollars wouldn’t it?

    However if we don’t reduce emissions, such ideas might require serious consideration.

  18. 218
    Randall says:

    Plans, plans, sails, taxes, Geoengineering.
    All delusional hope.
    By the way to all the commenters on Geoengineering,,THEY ALREADY HAVEBEEN DOING THAT FOR YEARS, if you would just look up at the spraying with an educated mind you would have known that.
    There is no answer to extinction, funny how thecommonman knows this.
    The masses will never wake up.
    The governments can’t even fix public schooling finances let alone climate change. Haha.
    The planet and nature know how to fix, and has started, with no stopping her action now.
    Get used to hearing the word extinction.

  19. 219
    Mr. Know It All says:

    192 – Kevin
    Thanks for the battery link. Looks promising.

    201 – Thomas
    208- nigelj

    Good year to year centralized planning, Thomas. Looks like something you’d see from wild-eyed naive environmental wackos. Only problems I see are: winter (people need heat to stay alive) and collapse of the world economy. Minor problems, right?
    :)

    Why shut down NG exploration? Apparently NG powered vehicles emit less CO2 per mile than gasoline vehicles:
    https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy16osti/64267.pdf

    209 – nigelj
    “Since we are trying to discourage fossil fuel burning and excessive air travel,…”

    “We” aren’t trying to discourage anything. Environmentalists are pointing the finger at everyone else and saying: “YOU, stop doing this and that” while continuing to do those same things themselves. That’s the problem: people willing to tell others what to do, but not willing to do it themselves. Motor vehicle use could be cut by around 25% in one day in the USA if all those on the left simply started carpooling. Nope – not willing to do that. Instead they tell everyone else: “We want a carbon tax so the price of fuel rises to the point you can’t afford to use it.” Geniuses. Not!

    213 – Killian
    Again, I’ve just skimmed the ongoing barrage of comments, insults, etc, around your simplification theme, but basically you want the world population to go back to living like aboriginals, right? If so, how long do you propose the world should take to make that transition? If it turns out that people refuse to do it, is there some middle ground that might work? In your vision, would there be modern medicine, disease curing drugs, electric lights? Candles?

  20. 220
    Scott E Strough says:

    Zebra,
    You said, “Since that has zero probability of happening(re:zero net emissions), we are left with my mitigation, adaptation, and sustainability goals.”

    First off, zero is a very small number. Since it is physically possible, you are wrong. We could redo agriculture and be at a small net zero in 3-5 years if everyone did everything they could. There is a higher than zero chances of that happening. If you count reductions of use due to conservation and changes to renewables in energy, I would claim it is not only above zero, but pretty damn easy as long as we at least make the effort world wide.

    The problem is that people are not told that it is not only possible, it is easy enough that we can do it without hardship at all. In fact it would improve peoples lives in many ways and strengthen economies across the world.

    Yes that’s right. We can do it at a profit. More importantly, we can do it at a profit that doesn’t depend on abuse of the poor to make that profit. Most importantly, there are no losers at all, if done right. Hate to say it, but even the arseholes who are funding the “Merchants of Doubt” would benefit as long as they made wise moves.

    So since it is both physically possible and also beneficial to all regions, classes, and sectors of humanity across the globe, why say, “zero probability of happening”?

    You could be right. It might not happen. In mass humans can lose their intelligence and become mindless mobs bent on self destruction. But it doesn’t help matters much to be pessimistic out the gate when the race has barely started. In my mind it’s that sort of thinking that causes the mindless mobs in the first place.

    Instead sell it as a “get rich scheme” that works for anyone and everyone who tries it.

    The only problem with said “get rich scheme” is there are a few side effects. We might end up accidently restoring the ecosystem function on 1/2 the globe. We might accidently end up vastly improving the situation of hoards of wildlife. We might accidently eliminate global warming. We might actually cause the waterways of the world to clean themselves up. We might accidently dramatically reduce hunger and poverty worldwide and dramatically reduce the pressures for war.

    As long as we are willing to put up with these side effects, we should proceed with our get rich scheme.
    ;)

    Maybe just maybe it might get the arseholes blocking the plan to realize what stupid neo-Luddites they are being. Even stupid to the point of hurting their own selfish long term finances and security.

    “The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer.” -Nick Hanauer

    And since he mentioned Roosevelt ….

    “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

  21. 221
    nigelj says:

    Randall, well at least your comments will be exinct, which will be great.

    Chemtrails are water vapour, by the way.

    [Response: Condensate actually. – gavin]

  22. 222
    nigelj says:

    Mr KIA @219,

    “We” aren’t trying to discourage anything. Environmentalists are pointing the finger…..”

    Fine, environmentalists are making some suggestions on what to do. Be pedantic if you want.

    “Environmentalists are pointing the finger at everyone else and saying: “YOU, stop doing this and that” while continuing to do those same things themselves. That’s the problem: people willing to tell others what to do, but not willing to do it themselves.”

    Some people don’t follow their own advice, but please stop implying I’m a hypocrite. I have a reasonably low carbon footprint by choice. I could own a warehouse full of ferraris if I wanted. I’m far from perfect, light years away but at least I take the issues seriously. Killan certainly walks the walk. Even if all environmentalists walked the walk would that be enough for you? I doubt it.

    “Motor vehicle use could be cut by around 25% in one day in the USA if all those on the left simply started carpooling. Nope – not willing to do that. Instead they tell everyone else: “We want a carbon tax so the price of fuel rises to the point you can’t afford to use it.” Geniuses. Not!”

    Carpooling is hopeless. Too many problems.

    The idea of a carbon tax is indeed to discourage use of petrol. I don’t have a problem with a tax, provided its a tax and dividend sort of approach, or alternatively the money goes directly into reneewable energy and electric car subsidies.

    Google “carbon fee and dividend”. Poor people can be exempted from such taxes or fees.

  23. 223
    Dan says:

    re: 219.
    ““We” aren’t trying to discourage anything. Environmentalists are pointing the finger at everyone else and saying: “YOU, stop doing this and that” while continuing to do those same things themselves. That’s the problem: people willing to tell others what to do, but not willing to do it themselves. Motor vehicle use could be cut by around 25% in one day in the USA if all those on the left simply started carpooling. Nope – not willing to do that. Instead they tell everyone else: “We want a carbon tax so the price of fuel rises to the point you can’t afford to use it.” Geniuses. Not!”

    ^What absolutely pure rubbish. Goodness what ignorance and textbook projection. A. The people you are pathetically attacking are the ones who are working towards lower greenhouse gas emissions and higher mileage vehicles. B. They are also the ones buying those high mileage vehicles. C. They are also the ones supporting and participating in carpools. D. They are also the ones installing solar panels and working to expand renewable power sources. It is a decent assumption to make that you are doing none of those.

  24. 224
    Killian says:

    #219 Mr. Know It All said 213 – Killian
    basically you want the world population to go back to living like aboriginals, right?

    Why lie? And, I don’t deal with denialists. Keep yourself contained to those foolish enough to indulge you. Your place is in jail, not pubic policy and science discussions.

  25. 225
    Killian says:

    #216 nigelj said Killian @213

    You have… conceded it will still use some metals.

    I have never stated otherwise, so how can I have conceded anything?

  26. 226
    Ray Ladbury says:

    WRT the discussion about cobalt, it is worth noting that Co is a siderophilic element. As such, a small Fe-Ni asteroid would have enough Co to not only meet global needs for decades, but would cause the price for Co to collapse (note the same is true for Pt, Pd, Ir, Rh and the other siderophiles as well). The resulting abundance of resources is such a problem that the prospective asteroid mining operations actually have plans to keep the resources in orbit so as not to saturate demand.

    Note also, that removing these constraints would not avoid ultimate collapse. The Club of Rome ran simulations in which all constraints including energy are removed–they still collapsed due to environmental degradation. These studies are worth reading even today.

  27. 227
    zebra says:

    Scott Strough #220,

    …in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent…

    That would be 99% of White Males, actually. And all those “FDR Democrats” abandoned the party for union-busting Ronald Reagan as soon as their exclusive privilege was threatened.

    But hey, you and Kumbaya Killian can continue to propose solutions that involve “if everyone did everything they could” and “as long as we at least make the effort world wide”, if it makes you feel better. I’m sure Vladimir and the other Oiligarchs are being moved to tears.

    Seriously, you guys make Mr KIA’s proposal that “libruls” should give up the benefits of BAU sound almost sane.

  28. 228

    R. 219: By the way to all the commenters on Geoengineering,,THEY ALREADY HAVEBEEN [sic] DOING THAT FOR YEARS, if you would just look up at the spraying with an educated mind you would have known that.

    BPL: Having an educated mind, what I see when I look up at a jet contrail I know to be almost solely water vapor. Jets burn kerosene (essentially) and oxygen. Check the stoichiometry. They can’t _not_ produce lots of water vapor.

  29. 229

    KIA 219 (earlier post should have referred to 218, sorry about that): Environmentalists are pointing the finger at everyone else and saying: “YOU, stop doing this and that” while continuing to do those same things themselves.

    BPL: No, environmentalists are saying, “Switch to renewables instead of fossil fuels, and stop cutting down forests.” Big difference.

  30. 230
    Scott E Strough says:

    Zebra,
    Nick Hanauer is the liberal, not me. He actually sees the problem but recommends a raising of the minimum wage, which really is not the solution. Just raising minimum wages is like shuffling the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. Which I exactly why although Nick has a good handle on the economic portion of the problem, he fails utterly like most liberals in devising a workable solution.

    But go back to Roosevelt. He actually paid people to go to the hardest hit dust bowl areas and repair many of the issues causing soil degradation.(and other infrastructure projects) By paying them to do the work, they got a fair days pay for a fair days work rebuilding ecosystem function that benefited the entire nation. That fits within any conservative ideal.

    That was the point of the soil. If we paid farmers to sequester carbon in the soil, this is not welfare, it is paying for a needed service that benefits the whole of society. Far far better use of the tax payers money than subsidizing insurance agencies to write insurance policies for farmers to produce more corn and soy than we need and actually contribute to AGW.

    As usual it is the liberal idea of subsidizing AGW and then proposing a carbon tax to shuffle the money around in a pointless tax and spend that can’t possibly work, compared to an actual conservative approach of paying a fair price for a needed service in the open market that contrasts the two options available.

    Your post actually simply shows that you are thinking only in your narrow silo and tribalism group. Get out more. Look around a bit. there is a whole world outside your false dichotomies.

  31. 231

    Gavin is right and I’m wrong. It’s not water vapor I’m seeing in a jet control, it’s water droplets. Right chemical, wrong phase.

  32. 232

    ContrAIl, not contrOl. It’s late… I’m tired…

  33. 233
    Killian says:

    #226 Ray Ladbury said Note also, that removing these constraints would not avoid ultimate collapse. The Club of Rome ran simulations in which all constraints including energy are removed–they still collapsed due to environmental degradation. These studies are worth reading even today.

    Which has made your constant attacks on others working toward a more stable, call it sustainable, world all the more puzzling. Perhaps “past” will be the operative word here.

    And, yes, It is the Perfect Storm, not the Perfect Single Issue. Overuse of resources has driven us to ecological collapse, resource limits-driven collapse and climatic collapse.

    Dr., it hurts when I do this… then don’t do that.

  34. 234
    Killian says:

    #227 zebra said I am a congenital liar.

    Then he said, But hey, you and Kumbaya Killian can continue to propose solutions that involve “if everyone did everything they could” and “as long as we at least make the effort world wide”, if it makes you feel better. I’m sure Vladimir and the other Oiligarchs are being moved to tears.

    Seriously, you guys make Mr KIA’s proposal that “libruls” should give up the benefits of BAU sound almost sane.

    IF you make an honest statement about anything I say, it will be shocking. As it is, keep defaming, there will be consequences. No free rides. We have serious issues to deal with and small-minded, dishonest, petty people like you will not be allowed to derail it.

    I will start repaying your abuse and harassment forthwith. Last time I say this. Keep it professional, or expect a response in kind, off list, meaningful, and effective. Well, you might be as emotionally crippled as you seem, in which case consequences might encourage you.

    Back off.

  35. 235
    nigelj says:

    Regarding discussion on “ideals” like sustainable communities, renewable energy etc, and Roosevelt’s New Deal, (which included social security payments and public works and public education and so on).

    The New Deal seemed to me to be the obvious practical answer to an economic crisis, and to relieve obvious human suffering.

    It was a combination of economic commonsense, and simple human compassion surely? Nobody had a better idea a the time, and it without doubt helped halt an economic decline so catastrophic it’s unimaginable.

    Of course the New Deal is not set in stone, and should be re-evaluated, but think carefully before shredding it.

    I like to see things like unemployment assistance as just a form of insurance, except it’s typically provided by the state, rather than the private sector. Whats the problem? Its no different in principle to insuring your car, except its funded out of taxation.

    Yes the new deal involved a lot of idealism, but isn’t that how humanity progresses, with ideals, and novel answers to problems? All improvements in human rights start with ideals don’t they?

    So in that sense how is promoting renewable energy, and more sustainable communities wrong? Even promoting smaller population is a form of idealism.

    And yes, some people are weak and hypocrites and soon start to resent paying taxes, or helping the poor too much. But that is not a reason to be overly cynical. Clearly the New Deal has survived numerous governments, so vast the majority support it. This is a simple observation surely?

    I agree there’s a case to subsidise farmers to farm using methods that sequester soil carbon. However lets not pretend only conservative subsidies are good things. Plenty of liberal ideas on subsidies make sense. Unfortunately both conservatives and liberals have subsidised fossil fuels, which are a senseless subsidy.

    In fact let’s go back to basic economics, and first principles and try to avoid ideology of liberalism and conservatism.

    In free market capitalist economies market forces solve many problems, but not all problems. New high risk enterprises sometimes struggle to get started. The market sometimes fails to provide enterprises of obvious public value. Subsidies make sense in these cases and examples include electric cars, renewable energy and possibly sustainable types of farming, but subsidies are tricky things that can become abused or embedded, so should be time limited.

    There’s absolutely no real case to subsidise fossil fuels any more. In the past, there may have been an argument to help with high risk oil exploration, but in the climate change era subsidies make no sense whatsoever.

    The bottom line is subsidies should have to pass economic cost and benefit tests, and be based on logical principles and avoid more obvious political motives. They are best decided by technocrats rather than politicians trying to win votes. Or am I being too “idealistic”?

  36. 236
    nigelj says:

    The same goes for Killian’s ideals about low tech sharing communities. These are idealistic and there’s nothing wrong with idealism in principle. All the improvements humanity has made originate with ideals.

    Such ideals should be examined more on their practical merits, (and in that respect I do have some doubts about some of Killians vews).

    I like idealism. I don’t like cynics. I understand where cynics come from, and some cynicism is normal and ok, but it can quickly get kind of excessive, and negative and susceptible to confirmation bias, and poor understanding of actual evidence. Cynicism is often as flawed as blind optimism.

  37. 237
    Mr. Know It All says:

    235 – nigelj

    On those FF subsidies: just the top 4 oil and gas companies paid $254.2 billion in taxes to foreign governments plus had a tax liability in the USA of $32.1 billion which they paid $15.6 billion and deferred the rest until later. Sounds like the oil companies are subsidizing the rest of the world. Yes, enviros will claim there is a $200 billion subsidy in unpaid social costs – fine – but they will not mention the benefits of a $18.6 trillion US economy the FFs make possible, not to mention the world GDP.
    http://www.taxpayer.net/wp-content/uploads/ported/images/downloads/TCS_ETR_Report.pdf

    And on subsidies of EVs, my guess is that subsidies are what is preventing EVs from becoming more popular. If the subsidies started to dry up, the EV producers would have to cut costs of the vehicles so they are affordable and also, improve performance so people would want to buy them. Right now they are less than 1% of sales in the US. They will continue to be irrelevant until they improve performance and cut cost.

  38. 238
    Scott E Strough says:

    nigeli,
    Me personally I am not talking about a subsidy, I am talking about paying farmers for a service. That means it only stops when the farmer is no longer sequestering carbon long term in the soil. No longer providing said service. We can verify it. There are reasonable and accurate verification protocols for soil testing. So if the soil becomes saturated as some people keep saying here, then no longer would that farmer be paid for sequestering more. Sequester a lot, get paid a lot. Sequester little and get paid little. Not much different than paying a farmer for corn, he grows more corn he gets paid more, and he has a crop failure he doesn’t get paid!

    However, keep in mind, there is more carbon missing from our soils worldwide than extra in the atmosphere. Further there is no where near enough CO2 in the atmosphere to saturate our agricultural soils 3 feet deep world wide. Oh and should some farmer manage it on his own farm, he no longer gets paid to sequester more, but that’s not a problem since he now has 3 feet of the richest most fertile soil possible. He will certainly be happy farming in such rich soil. There is no down side to this. And if we want 4 feet of topsoil? Just change the verification protocol to 4 feet instead of 3. Not an issue.

    Of course this is all silly because if done Worldwide we will be in drawdown in 3-5 years and preindustrial levels a few decades later. Long before we come close to saturating the soil sink. Remember, the sink that saturates and is too small is the biomass sink, not the soil sink. People conflate the two quite often. In fact the soil sink capacity is so huge it is more than all the biomass and all the atmospheric carbon worldwide combined! Forget preindustrial, it’s more that ALL of it.

    You want to get to drawdown rapidly? Pay someone to do it and watch the carbon levels drop like a stone. Instead, most cap and trade schemes want to punish emissions sources on people and industries that have only limited options. It is completely unworkable and already those sorts of carbon markets have failed repeatedly.

  39. 239
    nigelj says:

    Scott E Strough @238

    Ok paying farmers for a service is a better description. Its still tax payer money so will need assessment in a similar way to subsidies, but I think you have a good case, and your mechanism of payment makes sense.

    Clearly soils can be made to sequester very significant quantities of carbon. This is extremely important as it may be the only sensible and cost effective way of sucking carbon out of the atmosphere.

    You probably need to calculate this. Assuming all global farmland adopted these techniques (very idealistic perhaps) how much additional atmospheric carbon would they draw down each year? Given some trial you mentioned had some data on how much additional carbon was sequestered it should be possible to do a calculation on whats possible at larger scale and over what time periods

    However you won’t convert half the worlds farmers in the next five years. It’s going to take just a little longer. Therefore we need a wide spread of methods to deal with climate change, even including ETS schemes. Keep the options open, diversify, manage risk of failure in one area, by diversity of approaches.

  40. 240
    nigelj says:

    Yes Gavin is right, and I was also wrong. Water droplets, water vapor is invisible.

  41. 241
    nigelj says:

    Mr. Know It All @237

    Ok but that is only a small part of the story. The following wikipedia article shows the complete picture of fossil fuels subsidies. The American tax payer spends billions subsidising American fossil fuel companies.

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

    Key points: “The three largest fossil fuel subsidies were:

    Foreign tax credit ($15.3 billion)
    Credit for production of non-conventional fuels ($14.1 billion)
    Oil and Gas exploration and development expense ($7.1 billion)”

    IMO none of these subsidies makes sense in the era of global warming. It didn’t even make sense in the past, because the fossil fuel industry was profitable enough not to need subsidies.

    However other countries spend even more tax payer money on fossil fuel subsidies of various forms, including subsidising producers, tax credits , and keeping petrol artificially cheap. This amounts to five trillion dollars per year:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/aug/07/fossil-fuel-subsidies-are-a-staggering-5-tn-per-year

  42. 242
    nigelj says:

    This article below highlights the problems of BECCS technology. The article also covers the problems of solar geotechnical engineering.

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/geoengineering-carries-large-risks-for-natural-world-studies-show

    BECCS has always sounded like distinctly dubious technology to me. Natural carbon sinks such as soils and forests that are not burned for fuel, are less likely to have unintended consequences.

  43. 243
    Ray Ladbury says:

    If Mr. KIA were writing back in the early 1900s, he’d be decrying those same fossil fuel companies as having put all the whalers and blacksmiths out of business.

    Fossil fuels were the energy source of the 19th and 20th century. We are now in the 21st, and we need a 21st century energy infrastructure.

    Catch up.

  44. 244

    Mr. KIA, #237–

    …my guess is that subsidies are what is preventing EVs from becoming more popular.

    Right, because everybody likes to pay more for a given product, and as the price goes up demand increases.

    If the subsidies started to dry up, the EV producers would have to cut costs of the vehicles so they are affordable…

    Right, because price is purely a function of executive fiat; companies can charge whatever they like, whenever they like. “Cost structure” is just a myth they invented to rip off customers.

    …and also, improve performance so people would want to buy them.

    Right, 310 miles of range and 0-60 in 5.6 seconds is pretty pathetic.

    Right now they are less than 1% of sales in the US. They will continue to be irrelevant until they improve performance and cut cost.

    Right, because 200,000 US units in 2017, up from 160,000 units in 2016, is an annual growth rate of a lousy 25%, and at that rate, EVs wouldn’t even be half of the 18 million or so US annual sales for… 17 years. And in 20, that would be 100% of the market.

    Hmm. Maybe that point isn’t right.

  45. 245
    MartinJB says:

    Scott (@238): It’s worth noting that a well-designed (always the rub…) cap-and-trade scheme would actually encourage just the kind of activities that you are advocating. I’m not minimizing the challenges in creating a robust scheme, but it should certainly award sectors that can provide relatively inexpensive carbon sinks.

  46. 246

    #245, MJB–

    Exactly. Align incentives with reality…

  47. 247
    Bill Henderson says:

    MANAGED DECLINE:

    Fighting climate change? We’re not even landing a punch
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/business/economy/fighting-climate-change.html

    2018 is the 30th anniversary of the Toronto Conference on global warming

    Specifically on the issue of global warming from greenhouse gases and climate change, the conference reached a consensus on the likelihood of a rise in the global mean temperature of between 2.7-8 degrees F (1.5-4.5 degrees C) by about 2050, but not on whether such warming has begun. The conference statement called for a 20 percent cut in present (1988) levels of global carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2005, about half of which could be achieved through conservation, leading to an eventual cut of 50 percent. This statement was possible as a result of the participation of governments that voluntarily committed to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by the year 2005. This became the so-called “Toronto target” for greenhouse gas emissions and went beyond the emissions targets recommended by most later international conferences, as well as the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the core goal of Kyoto. http://what-when-how.com/global-warming/toronto-conference-global-warming/

    Three decades of international negotiations and agreements signed onto by virtually every nation state GHG emissions continue to rise – from under 40GT (eq) in 1988 to over 55GT today. Three decades of emission reduction failure.

    “If you visit the website of the UN body that oversees the world’s climate negotiations, you will find dozens of pictures, taken across 20 years, of peopleclapping. These photos should be of interest to anthropologists and psychologists. For they show hundreds of intelligent, educated, well-paid and elegantly-dressed people wasting their lives.

    “This process is futile because they have addressed the problem only from one end, and it happens to be the wrong end. They have sought to prevent climate breakdown by limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that are released; in other words, by constraining the consumption of fossil fuels. But, throughout the 23 years since the world’s governments decided to begin this process, the delegates have uttered not one coherent word about constraining production.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/10/keep-fossil-fuels-in-the-ground-to-stop-climate-change

    “Researching Don’t Even Think About It, which I see as the most important book published on climate change in the past few years, George Marshall discovered that there has not been a single proposal, debate or even position paper on limiting fossil fuel production put forward during international climate negotiations.

    “From the very outset fossil fuel production lay outside the frame of the discussions and, as with other forms of socially constructed silence, the social norms among the negotiators and policy specialists kept it that way.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2015/jan/07/why-leaving-fossil-fuels-in-ground-good-for-everyone

    2018 must be the year that a managed decline of fossil fuel production is agreed to and begun. We are already deep into climate change; 1C not 1.5 or 2C should have been precautionary ceiling; and three decades of failure means we are looking at a 3-4C rise without an emergency government implimented production decline schedule and greatly accelerated transition to renewables; given the emerging science there is no carbon budget left to stay under 2C and we may/probably have crossed over tipping points to civilization threatening warming already.

    Trump, the Right and the immense power of business will not even consider managed decline – it is fundamental heresy – but those that stymied effective emission reduction over the past three decades have left no option in economic and governmental BAU.

    Managed decline:
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/09/07/unprecedented-lofoten-declaration-demands-managed-decline-fossil-fuel-industry
    http://priceofoil.org/2017/11/01/whats-the-plan/
    https://countercurrents.org/2017/07/03/effective-climate-mitigation-or-just-pretend-an-open-letter-to-pam-goldsmith-jones-mp/

  48. 248
    nigelj says:

    Mr Know it all worries about the performance of electric cars. As KM points out, there is not much to worry about.

    And for serious car enthusiasts we have….”1,360-HP NIO EP9 – The World’s Fastest Electric Car (1-MegaWatt of Power)”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl55IpJxqq0

    https://futurism.com/the-fastest-electric-car-in-the-world-just-broke-its-own-speed-record/

    “With four high-performance inboard motors and four individual gearboxes, the EP9 delivers 1-MegaWatt of power, equivalent to 1,360 horsepower. The EP9 accelerates from 0- 200kph (0-124mph) in 7.1 seconds and has a top speed of 313kph (194mph). With an interchangeable battery system, the EP9 is designed to be charged in 45 minutes and has a range of 427 kilometres (265 miles)”.

    “Recently, the car officially cemented itself as the fastest model with a record-breaking lap around the Nürburgring track. It finished the lap with a time of 6:45:9, beating its own 2016 record of 7:05:12.”

    Ok car enthusiasts stuff, but it shows how fast the development of electric cars is and whats possible. This will be tomorrows production model supercar.

  49. 249
    Scott E Strough says:

    @nigelj,
    You said, “However you won’t convert half the worlds farmers in the next five years.”

    You are absolutely correct. We also are not going to zero carbon emissions in the next five years. We are also not going to reforest all the degraded land in the next five years.

    What I am attempting to show is a strategy that will work if all three are done to our current capability right now within current economic and technological constraints. Because realistically we will never get 100% compliance in ANY strategy we try. So how do we reverse AGW knowing full well we will not get full compliance?

    1)One thing that will not stop Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is reducing fossil fuel use. We have already “locked into” the highest temps seen in 2 million years even if we were to stop all fossil fuel use 100% tomorrow. We still do of course need to reduce emissions, but it is too late for that alone. We waited too long for that strategy.

    Earth ‘Locked Into’ Temperatures Not Seen in 2 Million Years
    https://www.ecowatch.com/earth-record-temperatures-2020710545.html

    Evolution of global temperature over the past two million years
    https://www.nature.com/articles/nature19798

    2)Another thing that will not stop Global Warming is planting more trees. People have been lead to believe this, but it simply isn’t enough. Trees are actually near net zero on the carbon cycle. Reforesting will increase biomass a bit. However, long before it stops AGW, the biomass would reach saturation. Worse is the albedo would actually decrease. Also, nearly as much wood and leaves would be rotting on the forest floor as new growth above. Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge believer in ecosystem restoration. But we have been burning so many fossil fuels for so long, we have passed the stage where this can stop AGW.

    Opinion | To Save the Planet, Don’t Plant Trees
    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/20/opinion/to-save-the-planet-dont-plant-trees.html?mcubz=1

    3)Changing agriculture to regenerative organic methods and restoring grasslands instead of overproducing corn and soy. This could potentially work, but even that alone probably won’t be enough. Maybe, but probably not. It’s a real close fine line, but we probably waited too long for this too.

    Don’t worry though. All is not lost. We actually can stop, and even reverse AGW. We will need to restore a large % of grasslands though. Turns out very recent research has discovered it actually was the grasslands that cooled the planet in the first place.

    Cenozoic Expansion of Grasslands and Climatic Cooling
    http://blogs.uoregon.edu/gregr/files/2013/07/grasslandscooling-nhslkh.pdf
    http://blogs.uoregon.edu/gregr/files/2013/07/Retallack-2013-grassland-cooling-q8ay9r.pdf

    The trick is to combine all three of the above. Each alone will probably not work. But all three? Bingo! The numbers appear to balance out in amazingly short time. A few decades.

    Executive summary:

    Yes we can reverse Global Warming.
    https://www.quora.com/Can-we-reverse-global-warming/answer/Scott-Strough

    It does not require huge tax increases or expensive untested risky technologies.

    It will require a three pronged approach worldwide.

    1) Reduce fossil fuel use by replacing energy needs with as many feasible renewables as current technology allows, combined with reasonable conservation efforts.
    2)Change Agricultural methods to high yielding regenerative models of production made possible by recent biological & agricultural science advancements.
    3)Large scale ecosystem recovery projects similar to the Loess Plateau project, National Parks like Yellowstone, Allan Savory’s Operation Hope etc. where appropriate and applicable.

    Each alone is not enough. Remember, reality is we will never get 100% compliance on ANY strategy ever. But all three together does the trick.

    I personally have no ego on this. We can do it 33/33/33 %s each, or 60/30/10 %s each, or whatever. Whatever the rest of the world ends up deciding. My advocacy ends there and I go back to my agricultural research for food only, as AGW will be solved. But until then this type of strategy will work if only we take the initiative to actually do it instead of talk about it like it is some mysterious thing that needs solved.

    When the train is heading your way, it’s time to just get off the tracks, not discuss what new futuristic new method of moving might be deployed to avoid collision.

    We can reverse AGW right now, and so we should do it right now.

  50. 250
    Adam Lea says:

    244: “Right, 310 miles of range and 0-60 in 5.6 seconds is pretty pathetic.”

    That is excellent, and would certainly satisfy my requirements. The question is, how much does an electric vehicle capable of that performance cost? How does that cost compare with a similar spec fossil fuel powered vehicle? If the EV costs significantly more than the FFV, people will most likely buy the FFV.

    I tried to go a little better and give up driving, using a bicycle to cover local journeys (which requires some lifestyle adaptations). Unfortunately, whilst it worked for about three years, it nearly killed me, although I suppose dying is the ultimate way to cut my carbon footprint.