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Unforced variations: Feb 2018

Filed under: — group @ 2 February 2018

This month’s open thread for climate science topics. Note that discussions about mitigation and/or adaptation should be on the Forced Responses thread.

Let’s try and avoid a Groundhog Day scenario in the comments!

266 Responses to “Unforced variations: Feb 2018”

  1. 151
    Killian says:

    #129 mike said nigel at 121 says: “Fwiw I also find the term intersectionalilty annoying

    I find the term to be useful and more linguistically sound that other ideas like “woke”

    That sentence is nonsensical, linguistically-speaking. I suspect you meant grammatically-speaking.

    because this is a climate website, it may be useful to remind folks who are interested in solutions to the climate predicament, that it is important to craft solutions that benefit a wide swath of the global population

    My god, if they don’t understand that, you reminding them will do no good for they are almost certainly Authoritarian. Anybody else knows enough to think they have to not think only of themselves. Don’t you think it a bit rude to assume the people interested in climate are not woke, to coin a phrase?

    So, K does intersectionality, but does not like the word. Excellent.

    It is a bit petty to respond to my post to you via nigel. Just sayin’, so what you say below becomes rather hypocritical.

    I think the discussion about wide solutions (to avoid the I word) are useful in combating the identity politics

    It is the unavoidable nature of sustainability and solutions that make this unnecessary: The solution to “intersectional” issues *is* sustainability. You fix the ~isms and ~ologies by simply doing… simplicity. That’s how you get people out of their silos: Show them the problem is the solution: Get out of your silo, build systems together for everyone. Solve the problem of CO2, you solve the problems of society. It’s one of the reasons I dislike the term: It’s a distraction from the solutions, not a pathway to them. E.g., we have been working on race as an issue for centuries. You will not resolve it any time soon by 60’s era talk, talk, talk. However, get down to *surviving*, and solve real, physical problems with real, physical work that requires ***everyone cooperating***, and you suddenly have a functioning community that can suppress our darker angels.

    Pursue intersectionality, just don’t expect to arrive at sustainability. (I came to this conclusion because of the nature of ecological design, the nature of social activism, and my experiences doing both in Detroit. The two worlds do not mix well, but first can lead to fixing the other.)

    So, I think the discussion about how public policy on things like climate change should be crafted to also address broader or additional social ills

    Sure, but in my opinion you are having the wrong conversation. See above. Solve the problem, not the symptom. Inequality is a RESULT of the system, not the cause of the system. Change the system, solve the problem.

    The UV threads have been too much like most internet discussions, full of polarizing and demeaning language, peppered with baiting and personal attacks

    Like this one, by you?

    Ironically, this whole sub-thread is the result of YOU and NIGEL taking issue with me saying, “I don’t like that word.” I had a good reason for raising the point. I strongly believe jargon is a significant factor in our failure to move climate and sustainability issues along faster. It prevents the average person from effective engagement. They think only eggheads do this sort of thing, and they are right, because we do not use language that is accessible to non-eggheads. My comment was not idle and was not personal. But, here we are with you two STILL going on about it… and convincing yourselves it was all me. Foolish. And at every step you have both completely missed the point, misinterpreted and been childish and petty.

    There was never a reason for either of you to respond in any way, yet in both your minds, i created a problem. It was your inability to understand what you read. This is not an unusual situation with both of you… and others.

    Folks make themselves inconsequential if they never fail to see and seek provocation in every exchange

    No passive-aggressiveness in that statement. Nope.

    No. You are inconsequential when you have nothing to add, like this post rehashing your own mistake dressed up as someone else’s. Wrong is wrong. The person who is correct or has the solution yet is not listened to is not inconsequential, those who choose to die instead of listen to someone they don’t like are just suicidally stupid.

    but that’s not the end of the line. Folks who have made themselves inconsequential by over-personalizing the discussion can always just take a breath, cool off and remind themselves to pick their battles. A little civility can go a long ways.

    Yet, this entire post is a personal attack. Hypocrisy, perhaps, makes one inconsequential?

    You didn’t need to post this, but did. But, in your mind, my response to your rudeness is the problem, not your provocation. You should have written to me about my comments on intersectionality, but chose pettiness and passive-aggressive insults.


    But, hey what do I know?

    Indeed. Perhaps stick to your numbers…?

  2. 152
    Killian says:

    #129 PArt II:

    An alternative response from Mike:


    Saw your response on intersectionality. I understand your point and see you have experience actually *applying* intersectionality. I found your statement permaculture *is* intersectional very interesting. It would be interesting to explore that.

    Sorry for misunderstanding your position in the first place and creating an unnecessary negative feedback loop on this thread. I appreciate your light-hearted response, but in all honesty, it still felt a bit biting, (Just a bit of feedback!)

    I’m curious how you see intersectionality playing out in real time.



    Or, you could write the petulant rant you did above.

    But, you’re right… I’m the problem.


  3. 153
    Killian says:

    #138 nigelj said Mike @129

    I’m pretty polite most of the time I think

    Not here. You are defensive when told you are incorrect, you are rude in saying you disagree, you lie.

    Hypocrisy. Just stop already. Take feedback as intended and you wouldn’t have this problem. Dishonesty about what others say is rude. Not understanding what others have said, over and over, is maddening.

    Stop whining about how you are treated till you clean up your own messes.

    I only get angry when I’m seriously provoked.

    False. You have yet to have been seriously provoked. Or, put another way, if you think you have been, you really have no sense of what you actually deserve.

    I do have a bad habit of not walking away.

    No, you have a bad habit of being the problem and blaming me.

  4. 154
    Killian says:

    Sorry… those last three posts should have gone to Forced Variations. Feel free not to post them here.

  5. 155
    nigelj says:

    MA Rodger,

    Here is something interesting relating to enso. This summer New Zealand has been hit by remnants of troplical cyclone feyi, which hit the south island powerfully, and its unusual for these cyclones to hit so far south. It gained intensity right as it hit land, due to very warm oceans, due to a la nina generated anticyclone warming the ocean, combined with the effects of climate change on ocean temperatures.

    We are now on track for the same coastline to be hit by ex tropical cyclone Gita, that devastated Tonga a few days ago. It will hit tomorrow with predicted severe gale force winds, huge swells, and severe flooding. These areas are still recovering form cyclone Feyi.

    I have no formal evidence that these cyclones are attributed in some way to climate change, or influenced, but it sure looks like they might be. Its roughly what is predicted.Tropical cyclones are predicted to gain intensity.

  6. 156
    Omega Centauri says:

    Ray @77.
    A considerable part of the solar UV is not thermal, i.e. it is not the tail end of a black body spectrum emitted from the photosphere, but is emitted much higher up in the Chromosphere and Corona, which are heated by magnetic activity and have temperatures of hundreds of thousands to millions K.

    So in principle at least solar UV especially extreme UV could increase with a decrease of surface temperature or vice versa.

    Wili @75. I thought the article was a bit disingenuous, postulating a sudden cessation of fossil fuel emissions, and offering only the binary choice of artificial aerosol injection longterm or none. In the unlikely case of an abrupt fuel burning cessation, we could add aerosols at a decreasing rate, both to smooth the transition, but also because atmospheric CO2 would drop significantly during the first few years after a cessation, as the shorter term reservoirs have not yet come to equilibrium and would still be absorbing CO2 at a decent clip for several years.

  7. 157
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    I just read this:

    Any comments on this? For me it is new that there was no ice at either of the poles 12 million years BP. What I have read indicates that at least part of the Antarctica was ice-covered around 35 million years BP, and that Greenland became icecovered around 10 million years ago or somewhat later. That there should have been almost no temperature gradient between the equator and the poles as late as around 12 million years BP seems surprising.

  8. 158
    JohnM says:

    Thank you to those who responded to my post at 94, particularly MA Rodger @102 and Thomas @104,109,and 148. I appreciate your help and effort. The ensuing discussion about those posts was also helpful in a way. I intend to emphasize that there really is no longer any serious scientific uncertainty as to whether global temperatures are rising and what is causing that increase in temperature. The real uncertainty is climate sensitivity and, especially, the resulting impacts.

    I originally considered Dave Robert’s presentation because I remember how it impacted me six years ago when I first saw it. But it is out of date now. Now I will probably present a few potential impacts from some of the references you provided. I may also give paleoclimate examples of periods of high GHG concentrations such as the Permian extinction (although I think the cause of that event is still speculative) and the Eocene/Paleocene Thermal Maximum as potential worst case scenarios. I would mention that the boundary conditions are completely different now. (It seems to me that I read somewhere that James Hansen warned that the sun is brighter now than during the PETM.)

    Stefan’s recent post has me thinking that I’ll introduce the first two sections of the presentation (Is the earth warming and why?) by rebutting some common denial tricks.

    Comments and suggestions are welcome.

  9. 159
    nigelj says:

    Killian says to me “you are rude in saying you disagree,”

    Good god almighty, what does a person say to that sort of silly statement? To add to his many other silly statements, and nit picking time wasting

  10. 160
    nigelj says:

    Killian you are relentlessly abusive, petty and off topic, and nowhere near complying with this websites rules. I just had a look at them.

    Theres a huge difference in saying you disagree, or someones comment doesn’t make sense or is a bit silly and calling them idiots, ignorant or lying. Most people “get that”. The first is a statement of fact or criticism, the second personalises the issue so you can avoid confronting the real issue.

    Some climate denialists do deserve some real stick, but reserve it for them.

    Killian, I very rarely get my comments deleted as abusive or off topic on any website. That tells me all I need to know.

    All you are doing is scaring people off this website that might have something good to contribute. I see the names disappear. Is that what this website wants?

    True censorship is censoring someones “opinion” or information they provide. Its not censorship to expect people to be polite and at least reasonably on topic and to post factual content and genuine opinion, not play rhetorical games.

  11. 161
    nigelj says:

    Mal Adapted @143, ha ha, very droll.

  12. 162
    nigelj says:

    Dan DaSilva @142

    “Thanks for the reply, the worst thing is to be ignored. If we had a communist world government run by alarmists, climate change could be solved by force. The future of mankind would be secure, what do you think?”

    I think it’s always nice to get a reply, something I always appreciate, however its not the biggest issue for me. I comment to be a bit thought provoking and hopefully constructive, rather than scream out for attention. I can play either game. Its a tricky balance to do both. Not getting a reply does not mean you are ignored.

    The trouble is communism is off topic and belongs more on forced responses! But very briefly here communism is normally taken where the state owns most of the means of production and normally communist states are dictatorships. I support neither, regardless of environmental issues.

    However I don’t see some modest level of state ownership like in Scandinavia as communism. And the only thing holding some countries together are dictators. Life is not simplistic black and white.

  13. 163
    MA Rodger says:

    JohnM @158,
    I myself would not brand the David Robert’s video ‘out-of-date’. As you say the message is well put (although in places too doomy by my understanding but that could become a follow-on discussion-point).

    Concerning the uncertainty of AGW impacts (and one of my gripes), I am often annoyed by the obsession with what will happen by AD2100 and ignoring what happens after. Much of the uncertainty does stem from post-2100 effects (and much of the argument being whether thay could be pre-2100 effects). In that regard, do have a look at IPCC AR5 Chapter 12 Section 12.5.4 ‘Climate Stabilization and Long-term Climate Targets’ (in my view, not as readable as it should be) and also 12.5.5 ‘Potentially Abrupt or Irreversible Changes.’

    The solar power in the PETM 55My ago was not greatly different to today although the sun has been getting stronger ever since it kicked into life. Back 500My ago when there was perhaps 4000ppm CO2 (see HERE Fig 1d from Royer 2006), the sun was some 5% weaker. Such a change would need roughly a quadrupling of CO2 to maintain temperature. So the temperature impact from 16-times-today’s-levels of CO2 back then would have been halved relative to in today’s climate. In the Permian/Triassic relative to today, the cooler sun would still make a significant difference (one CO2 doubling so roughly 3ºC) but not so for a comparison with the PETM (perhaps 0.6ºC).

  14. 164
    Dan DaSilva says:

    nigelj @ 162
    RealClimate has the great comment section because people will engage with rational thought and emotional passion. Is communism a subject for this site? I think so, mix science with politics and increase interest.

    Communism as reformed by China has allowed capitalism to the extend that they are the world’s largest polluter. Good luck with trying to limit their CO2, they will sign accords and then do what they want. With 1.4 billion people they have only begun to their CO2 production. They have coal and will use it.

  15. 165
    MA Rodger says:

    NOAA has posted for January with a global anomaly of +0.71ºC, the 5th warmest January on record after 2016 (+1.06ºC), 2017 (+0.92ºC), 2007 (+0.88ºC) and 2015 (+0.82ºC), all this as per GISS although in NOAA the gap to the 6th/7th/8th warmest Januarys was narrow. 2010, 2014, 2002 sit at +0.70ºC. The relative cool NOAA anomaly is reflected in NOAA Jan 2018 being =72nd warmest month on their all-month record, significantly different to the =43rd placing in GISS. The high Arctic anomalies seen of late are probably the reason for the difference, NOAA not filling in the Arctic gap as fully as GISS.

  16. 166
    nigelj says:

    Dan De Silva @164, I didn’t say communism is not worthy of discussion. However I suggest (again) keep political stuff like communism on the forced variations page because it related to mitigation.

    I’m also not so interested in idle speculation about China. Its better to at least be optimistic, and they have provably implemented solar power. I may reply in more detail on the forced variations page.

  17. 167

    DDS 164: Communism as reformed by China has allowed capitalism to the extend that they are the world’s largest polluter. Good luck with trying to limit their CO2, they will sign accords and then do what they want. With 1.4 billion people they have only begun to their CO2 production. They have coal and will use it.


  18. 168
    Thomas says:

    #164 “…. they will sign accords and then do what they want.”

    Oh mirror mirror on the wall ….. DDS is obviously getting very confused between China and the USA.

    “Hey world, we are the USA, so we never have to practice what we preach.”

    Be it agw/cc accords or any other kind of treaty and accord. The last 70 years of History proves that in spades beyond any doubt (expect for the uneducated, DK affected cognitive dissonant of the world).

    (shrug) No matter.

    The Chickens always come home to roost, eventually.

  19. 169
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan DaSilva,
    If China is communist then my ass chews gum. Walk outside of the Terra Cotta Army museum into the street market and tell me that isn’t market based! Look at how the wealthy live in Shanghai and compare it to the rural poor and tell me that is communist!
    Dude, have you ever been to China. I have–and well before the market reforms, it was largely market based. China is a command economy, but hardly communist. Moreover, according to The Economist, they are within 15 years of kicking our pasty, white asses in technology as well as energy infrastructure and everything else.

  20. 170
    Gordon Shephard says:

    To the forum moderators: Is it possible to provide a mechanism whereby a reader could exclude selected commentators from appearing in one’s stream?

  21. 171
    zebra says:

    Suggested… no, must reading for the moderators:

    If commenters think your commenting thread is a public space where they can do whatever they want because nobody’s watching, they will do whatever they want. And that is not pretty. And then the potentially constructive comments never get posted, because normal people do not want to waste their time thinking and writing comments that will just get flamed.

    (my bold)

    Included in “things that discourage constructive comments” would be spamming as well as flaming. (And while it may not be PC to make the observation, enabling what is clearly compulsive/addictive behavior is not really doing the addict any favors.)

    Another quote, again with my bold:

    If I delete your comment, it is not censorship (and if you cry “censorship” I will laugh out loud). You are free to start your own blog and start working on increasing its Google Rank so it becomes visible in searches. It takes time and effort, but I will not lend my Google Rank to you to use for your blatherings. Do the work yourself.

    You (the moderators) are generous in providing the forum, but as we (almost) all understand, a commons can be destroyed by selfish, undisciplined, or, afflicted, individuals, and it requires some kind of regulation.

  22. 172

    Dan D. said:

    Good luck with trying to limit [Chinese] CO2, they will sign accords and then do what they want. With 1.4 billion people they have only begun to their CO2 production. They have coal and will use it.

    Except that that is at odds with pretty much every shred of evidence we have.

    China will, indeed, do what she wants. But what she wants is to have clean air and water AS WELL AS thriving economy and a stable climate. Which is why China is by far the dominant manufacturer of solar PV gear, and a significant global competitor in wind technology, AND the largest user of both technologies on the planet. It’s why China has been retiring coal plants for decades–at first in favor of ultrahigh efficiency modern supercritical coal plants that delivered twice as much power per unit of pollution produced, and now increasingly solar and wind.

    But so much for stated and observed *intentions*. What about observed emissions?

    Well, China had had 3 years with flat emissions, surprising just about everybody, but demonstrating that the old BAU was decidedly shifting. Final numbers aren’t in for 2017, but it appears that there was an uptick in emissions due to faster than anticipated economic growth:

    …the precise figure… may range between 0.7 and 5.4% emissions growth.

    The current ‘best guess’ is 2%.


    Both Yang [of NRDC] and Myllyvirta [of Greenpeace] expect coal consumption for 2018 to go back into decline, and carbon emissions to correspondingly slow or level off next year.

    Oh, and after a couple of years of vigorous deployment of renewable energy tech, India posted the smallest increase in emissions in many years:

    They’re projected to rise 2% in 2017, compared to 6% a year averaged over the previous decade, due to significant government interventions in the economy…

    That doesn’t get carbon mitigation done, but at least they are visibly moving the needle in the right direction. Unlike the US, which is mired in political denial of climate reality.

    The US is expected to see slower decline in its carbon emissions, from an annual 1.2% drop over the past 10 years to a decrease of 0.4% this year, with a return to growth in coal use, as president Donald Trump promised to rescue the coal industry.

    Personally, I wonder if the ‘return to coal’ will amount to much; from what I’m reading, the economics for coal remain pretty lousy, regarless of Trumpian rhetoric.

  23. 173
    mike says:

    I have asked the moderators on several occasions to make changes so that any of us could use the “killfile” plugin to “hush” specific folks from the thread. That allows a reader to see a filtered thread comment and avoid other commenters whose behavior is problematic for another reader/commenter.

    This killfile plugin works fine on Tamino’s blog Open Mind and it works fine at And Then There’s Physics,

    I think the option for readers/commenters to use the killfile plugin would make things better for lots of us.

    I would love to see that happen. I can just skim over folks when they get on a rant, but it’s better to see a filtered comments stream that allows me to weed out trolls or folks who get on a rant too easily and/or too often.



  24. 174
    mike says:

    Joe Romm has piece on arctic sea ice loss and the headline says scientists are freaking out. I don’t know about the “freakout” claim, but I believe Peter Wadhams’ ideas/estimates regarding the loss of arctic sea ice are going to prove to be much more accurate than the IPCC estimates that sea ice will be gone by midcentury.


  25. 175

    Have to agree with zebra. Either moderate the site more strictly, or give us a means to filter obnoxious posters.

  26. 176
    Omega Centauri says:

    Ray @169, I haven’t been to China, but many of the people I work closely with are dual (US/China) citizens. Aren’t they already kicking our pasty white butts?

    In any case, it was claimed above (Dan @162) that China wouldn’t do anything about CO2. Yet they are by a very large margin, the biggest deployers of both wind and solar. The reason that mainstream auto companies are dabbling in electric cars, is because the Chinese are demanding a high percentage of future cars be electric -or else they won’t get to sell to China. They are also by far the world’s largest producer of EVs. They are doing it for two reasons, (1) because their horrible pollution is a huge issue, and (2) because they want to dominate the industries of the future. (Our current government wants to dominate the industries of the past (coal/oil/gas).

  27. 177
    Ray Ladbury says:

    America’s decline is more gradual than it sometimes seems. The US still has a significant advantage in advanced technology, and some advantage is projected to exist until ~2030 or so. It could well be sooner, though.
    The semiconductor fabs needed to reach the 5 nm CMOS generation may all be built in China–a prospect that scares the living hell out of anyone who cares about security.

    The US has pretty much ceded the renewable energy sector to China, while we insist on a combination of a 20th century (oil) and 19th century (coal) energy infrastructure.

    The current kleptocracy is doing whatever it can to accelerate the decline.

  28. 178
    zebra says:

    Omega C #176,

    “…mainstream auto companies are dabbling…”

    Perfect description. See this:

    This would be an interesting subject to discuss on Forced Responses, where it belongs, rather than here, where it is off-topic.

    Unfortunately, the spam-storm over there prevents a focused technical discussion on various mitigation/adaptation topics, even as the usual suspects continue to pollute Unforced Variations with their nyah-nyah-nyah childish spats, as well as the usual incoherent off-topic ranting.

  29. 179
    Natalia says:

    Praise the lord :)

  30. 180

    #176, Omega C–

    Yes, exactly.

    I’ll add that it’s a very strange idea, when you stop to think about it, that Chinese nationals or Indian nationals would not care about the environment that they must live in. It’s almost as if some folks believe that the environmental protections put in place over recent decades in the West are due to some sort of inherent ‘special sauce’, rather than as the outcomes of historical processes arising out of human nature.

    To put it more plainly, I can’t help suspect that there is an element of ethnocentric exceptionalism lurking in these protestations that thus-and-such-a-country will gladly pollute their own territory into unlivability when we virtuous white westerners [supposedly] won’t. (And yes, I can’t help but suspect that, in some cases, it veers into the covert racism I hinted at by inserting the word “white” in that sentence.)

    It’s painfully ironic, particularly for those of who are American citizens, given that right now the single most obstructive, denialist, dangerous government on the planet in regard to climate change is in fact ours. China may still emit more, but there the policy needle is consistently moving in the right direction. They know, as apparently many of our Federal politicians do not, that “clean, beautiful coal” is a lie. They should–they’ve tolerated living with the immediate consequences of its unbridled deployment for quite some time. Now they want to back out of the deal with the devil–and I for one wish them Godspeed in that regard.

  31. 181
    nigelj says:

    Michael Mann on soaring Arctic temperatures

    It looks like a quadratic acceleration in the graph since 1980, if I squint my eyes down.

  32. 182
    Thomas says:

    174 mike, yes the arctic is a bit of an issue currently. Not looking good or stable.

    re: “the IPCC estimates that sea ice will be gone by midcentury.”

    I don’t think that is correct. When I checked AR5 recently in Jan. to specifically see what they said about it, they had the loss of summer ASI not likely to occur until ~2090-2100???
    I’ve a $1 on 2025 +/- 2 yrs which right now seems quite conservative. Time will tell. cheers

  33. 183
    Nemesis says:

    Have you guys ever considered, that a sheer profit oriented economic system, guided by an infinite growth paradigm (on a finite planet) will cause more and ever more problems? Anthropogenic induced climate heating is not the only mess, it’s just ONE issue in a frightening chain of cause and effect (called “causality”). Just look at the species die-off:

    Insect die-off for instance, largely caused by a purely profit maximizing agrar-industry, the loss of insect biomass (key species in the foodchain^^) is just horrible. No insects, no birds, so bird mass die-off is also happening. Amphibia also need insects. And soon our food supply will suffer very badly without insects and the ecosystem will degrade rapidly as well.
    Add multiresistant bacteria to the list of hybris. The meat-industry feeds cattle with gazillion tons of antibiotica, because the live stock is treated like a meat product (not like horribly suffering beings) and get sick all the time. Then the feces of the poor animals is being poured on the fields- the PERFECT kitchen for multiresistant bacteria. These germs have been found in the lakes, in the rivers, in the vegetables, in meat, even in faucet water, in man and mice, produced by an industry solely guided by cold, deadly profit maximization. Want more? I can give you millions of examples how sheer profit is killing the future of your very own descendants. Still not convinced, that the economic system kills? Well:

    You will. I bet my ass, you will. I am so glad that I don’t have to worry about my children and grandchildren, because I have none, I’ve seen shit coming decades ago, so I did not breed.

  34. 184
    Killian says:

    #176 Omega Centauri said Ray @169, I haven’t been to China, but many of the people I work closely with are dual (US/China) citizens. Aren’t they already kicking our pasty white butts?

    In any case, it was claimed above (Dan @162) that China wouldn’t do anything about CO2. Yet they are by a very large margin, the biggest deployers of both wind and solar… …They are also by far the world’s largest producer of EVs. They are doing it for two reasons, (1) because their horrible pollution is a huge issue, and (2) because they want to dominate the industries of the future.

    There’s a third reason: They have long understood Climate Change as the threat it is and have had national policies in place for years. The U.S. has no national policy at all.

    Your gist in this post is correct: China is, in fact, very actively changing their systems to renewable, are looking at the long-term implications (which is why they are also buying productive land all over the world), and make Americans look like children in comparison.

    People mistake economic and population momentum as inaction because they listen to… politicians.

  35. 185
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @183 yes I think pretty much everyone here would see the profit and growth orientated economic system is pushing the environment to the limits. The question is what to do about it in a way that actually makes sense. You might find this latest research in Nature Journal on the problem, and on sustainability interesting:

    However its more an issue for the forced responses thread.

  36. 186
    Omega Centauri says:

    Kevin @180, thanks for the very astute, and very well written comment.

    There is a slightly more charitable reason (or excuse) for the China as environmental enemy #1 meme, and that is past behavior and rhetoric. Go back a couple of decades, and their government was convinced that fossil fuels were essential for their rapid development, and made no bones about the fact that they wouldn’t let the considerations of Western environmentalist stop them. Now their laser-like focus on the pursuit of national greatness has not changed, what has changed is that their assessment of what it will take has.

    Also as they get nearer to their goal of becoming the leader of the world gets closer, the utility of soft power is seen as more important. And doing stuff the world admires, rather than hates, is key in that arena too.

  37. 187
    nigelj says:

    Ray Ladbury @177, good comment.

    The issue with America losing the lead in technology areas to China probably relates partly to Xi Jinping being a very smart engineer, where in contrast America has a property developer president, Bush who was a businessman, and Obama meant well but was a lawyer.

    And America cant seem to work out the right areas of the economy to subsidise and support. Subsidising the oil industry and millionaire farmers does not make a lot of sense.

  38. 188
    Thomas says:

    Actually Ray, it is in fact the USA and the American people who scares the living hell out of anyone who cares about their security and their lives.

    Those people live upon every continent and I suggest to you the total number who are scared shitless already is pretty close to 5 Billion Souls. The other two billion are already insane/delusional, so out of touch with reality already, their opinions really do not count.

  39. 189
    Sander says:

    #183 You bet we consider this. The symptoms have been all around us for 50 years, but have never been more clear and frightening then these days. No matter which aspect of planetary / ecological balance you are looking at, is is being destabilised dangerously.
    However some scientist think they can calculate we can feed humans, i do believe their assumptions are falling short. The world is changing, it will not help us achieve that goal. We do not have that budget, if everything needs to be sacrificed to feed the human population. (wildlife,fish population, forests, soils, fresh water, natural ecosystems, unfragmented nature)
    Humanity has to find some way to identify their planetary budget, with respect to everything to keeps the planet (biosphere) working like it has done when it still supported us. Because we can never rely on technology alone.

    The weakness of humanity is its discord within itself. Interests of individuals and specific groups are opposing a global interest. This is the one thing humanity has to overcome. After that all answers will be obvious. We have to decrease, limit, be responsible, put ecology over economy. What counts is the survival of the planet and the species, not the individual or its way of life.

    But as long as this human discord stays unchallenged –
    (by keeping capitalism, freedom of personal development, allowing juridical autonomy of corporations, consumerism, nationalism and regionalism, confiscation of communal resources by economic parties, juridical and political support for any of those above)
    – humanity will have to face a truly horrific era the likes it has not seen before. Mass migrations from the poorer countries recently are just an omen of what is still to come. Read the signs, look beyond your borders. And please change the way humanity looks upon itself and its future (“progress is ours”). Cutting forests is not progress, filling the atmosphere with gasses is not progress, killing all wildlife is not progress, nor is starving our own poorest co-humans.

  40. 190
    Mal Adapted says:


    Have you guys ever considered, that a sheer profit oriented economic system, guided by an infinite growth paradigm (on a finite planet) will cause more and ever more problems?

    Sure, since about the age of 15.

  41. 191
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj #185

    From the paper you refered to:

    ” However, the universal achievement of more qualitative goals (for example, high life satisfaction) would require a level of resource use that is 2–6 times the sustainable level, based on current relationships.”

    That’s the key problem:

    “High life satisfaction” of a global minority at the cost of the global majority and the coming generations. The analysis is there for decades (I think of “The limits of growth” by the Club of Rome among many others). BUT nothing changed substantially since then. Why? Not because of missing solutions, but because of sheer ignorance of the elite and that global minority I mentioned. Will they ever change? No. Instead they bet on luxury bunkers to survive the coming brakedown of civilization :) :

    ” Billionaire bunkers: How the 1% are preparing for the apocalypse”

    ” The super-rich are buying luxury apocalypse-safe bunkers for protection against natural disasters and nuclear attack”

    That’s the world we live in.

    sander, #189:

    ” The weakness of humanity is its discord within itself. Interests of individuals and specific groups are opposing a global interest.”

    You hit the nail. But then you go on:

    ” This is the one thing humanity has to overcome.”

    Not, it’s not about humanity in total, but it’s about a global minority’, it’s about justice and equal distribution of goods. Most of the global population got almost no ecological footprint per capita, while a global minority is sucking out the planet and the rest of the people. And this will only get worse and worse, because from the perspective of the global minority I mentioned it’s all about this:

    Grab it all or die trying.

    So there will be no substantial change until the system broke down I bet.

  42. 192
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis, yes inequality at that high level becomes a problem, both at a moral level, a human needs level,and an economic level. Ironically it stops free markets working at their optimal point, because it pushes money into pure speculation. However Im not much of a hard left socialist either, and probably Scandinavia has the right middle ground approach for me.

    When I was about 14 I read limits to growth and future shock. The problem of population growth and economic growth pushing the natural system to breaking point was compelling. We are in for a painful self correction.

    We can obviate this as much as possible, but its not going to be easy. We have various options such as modifications to capitalism, better regulation of environmental matters, or alternatives to capitalism. Right now I don’t think we know enough, and the best thing is to experiment with a range of modifications and alternatives at local scale, and see what gains traction. But something has to change, or humanity is in deep doo da.

  43. 193
    Nemesis says:

    Btw, I am somewhat surprised, this time I heard no big palaver about evil communism when I dared to critizised capitalism. The last time I critizised capitalism on this blog, I’ve been suspected to be some communist and I remember some discussion about humans being just monkeys :) Well, monkeys with nuclear weapons and the technological power to destroy the ecosphere of an entire planet would be a programmed desaster right from the start, no chance for intellectual and ethical growth. But we are not just monkeys, we are more than that:

    Monkeys, shimpanzees got no choice to destroy the planet, they simply don’t have the power nor any interest to rape and suck out Mother Earth for sheer money- but we have. If we don’t grow up beyond the monkey level, then extinction is an imperative.

    We need to go beyond profit maximizing capitalism and embrace a sharing- and ressource based economy or we will be wiped out by evolution. The laws of nature don’t allow infinite, materialistic, profitbased economy, evolution does not allow intellectual and ethical stagnation. We need to grow inside in the first place, not outside, we need to grow as a human being, not as an ever growing material money eating vulture. We need that new scientific, political and economic paradigm beyond sheer scientific materialism/physicalism. The ecosystem, the cosmos, we are no machine. I know it sounds “funny”, it sounds “naive”, but we could learn a lot from socalled “natives”, indigenous, “primitive” people. They warned us for centuries, they’ve seen shit coming, yes, and we should have listened carefully. Will modern science, modern politics, modern economy ever speak words like these?

    ” Mother Earth

    She reminds me of my own Mother.

    She has many scars that are not Her fault. She has seen many battles and has endured each and every one of them.
    She has never stopped supporting me though. She still continues to protect me and looks over me. She gave me the tools I need to survive.

    I return the favor by supporting Her, protecting Her, and giving Her the tools she needs to survive.

    Most of all I am grateful every day for the gifts my Mother and Mother Earth has given me and continues to give me each and every day.”

    – Denise Mckay (Aboriginal)

    If modern science, modern politics, modern economy doesn’t learn to speak these kind of words by heart quickly, we are truly finished in every aspect.

  44. 194
    Nemesis says:

    nigelj, #192

    ” The problem of population growth and economic growth pushing the natural system to breaking point was compelling.”

    The “overpopulation” meme is just another myth made up by the elite. You named it when you said:

    ” Yes inequality at that high level becomes a problem, both at a moral level, a human needs level,and an economic level. Ironically it stops free markets working at their optimal point, because it pushes money into pure speculation.”

    THAT exactly is the core issue, the main crime, not human breeding. As I said earlier:

    Most of the people on planet earth are poor and got almost no ecological footprint. So a global minority is causing the mess we are in. Inequality and a sheer material paradigm is causing the mess (see my last comment). I beg you to just look at the history of socoalled “western culture/colonialism/neo-colonialism”:

    It is a bloody history of exploitation, genocide, ecocide, murder. And again:

    I am no leftist, no rightist, no communist, no socialist, I am just a bloody pessimist resp. realist.

  45. 195
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @194 I hear you, however I think inequality and high population growth are all problems. Population pressure on resources is huge.

    However population growth rates are falling naturally anyway (demographic transition) and I would never suggest any attempts to “force it down” in any way, the most we could do is educate and have incentives.

    This is off topic. If you want to talk about this sort of economic and political stuff, do it on forced responses, under “older entries”.

  46. 196
    Mr. Know It All says:

    178 – zebra
    Sounds like a bunch of complicated crap to reduce car reliability. They forgot the KISS principle. BUT for those who want it – go for it.

    Lots of comments above about awesome, butt-kicking China. You can have it:

    The plane is ready for you, but the first stop is our awesome neighbor to the north:

  47. 197
    zebra says:

    Hey, Nemesis, why do you think that the rest of the world should/would refrain from polluting the commons when you and your buddies will not?

    This thread is, according to the people who provide it:

    This month’s open thread for climate science topics. Note that discussions about mitigation and/or adaptation should be on the Forced Responses thread.

    Let’s try and avoid a Groundhog Day scenario in the comments!

    Huh. And yet, just like any colonialist nation-state does with resource-rich territory, you appropriate it for your own purpose. Hypocrisy much?

  48. 198
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I do not need a recitation of the sins of my country. Those of us who are still trying to make the US live up to the meaning of its creed are already well aware. I would suggest to you that perhaps rather than the black-and-white, good-and-evil dichotomy you espouse, a better dichotomy might be those who are trying to make things better and those who are not.

    The options before us are not perfection and destruction, but better and worse.

  49. 199
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Exceptionally good listening.

    Deconstruct and destroy.

  50. 200

    Omega C., #186–Thanks. And yes, I think your points about past Chinese behaviour and what I’ll call ‘shifting political tactics’ are well-made.