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Forced responses: Mar 2018

Filed under: — group @ 1 March 2018

This month’s open thread on responses to climate change (politics, adaptation, mitigation etc.). Please stay focused on the overall topic. Digressions into the nature and history of communism/feudal societies/anarchistic utopias are off topic and won’t be posted. Thanks. The open thread for climate science topics is here.

346 Responses to “Forced responses: Mar 2018”

  1. 101

    Th 90: Wrong word usage by Tamino. He and the more than a dozen ‘smartest people in the room’ FAILED dismally. That’s the whole truth. The second truth is that they cannot, will not admit that for what it is. Tamino and his *Dirty Dozen* could not even successfully communicate nor Dialogue with one person who in fact was MOTIVATED and POSITIVE about the DISCUSSION.

    BPL: No, we could not successfully get through to one denier posing as an open-minded skeptic. If you really think Sheldon was just out to learn, you’re out of your gourd. Quit siding with the deniers.

  2. 102

    Th 96: All About Self-Control

    BPL: The more you think about it, the funnier it gets.

  3. 103
    Jeremy Grimm says:

    @98 Thomas — Thank you for your encouragement. I certainly don’t intend stepping into the middle of any ongoing disputes with my earlier comment which I think I should clarify.

    Instead of linking to Mirowski I suppose I should simply restate what I understand as his chief points. The Global Warming — no Climate Change — ‘debate’ has three phases. The first phase is denial which buys time for the second phase ‘Market’ solutions like Cap and Trade [Mirowski has a nice chart in his Life and Debt lecture showing how Cap and Trade worked in Europe as a mechanism for money making but a less than effective mechanism for reducing carbon emissions]. The second phase buys time for the grand solutions phase three … entrepreneurs crafting large scale geoengineering projects. He described a recently failed project for spraying aerosols into the atmosphere to mitigate climate change. Mirowski points out that the first and second phases of the climate change ‘debate’ bear a strong resemblance to the activities of the Tobacco Industry maintaining their sales of tobacco products. He identifies this kind of argument as part of the Neoliberal toolkit and notes the new word introduced to ease discussion of this new form of public ‘debate’ — “agnotology” [ which I understand to mean a deliberate multiplication of contrasting viewpoints intended to confuse and delay meaningful response].

    When I first read the description of the Forced responses thread I feared it contained discussions of various geoengineering schemes. I intend no disrespect to climate science or its practitioners but I am skeptical that the current state of knowledge is adequate to support geoengineering practice. I believe the records of paleoclimate suggest there remains much to be learned. Furthermore the rate of climate change reported and rate of change in factors affecting climate which are reported strike me as completely unprecedented by measure of any geologic era in the past with possible exception of unhappy events like the Great Permian Extinction. Although some persons might be inclined directly opposite to me in considering these high rates of change, which seem to be accelerating, they incline me to be even more cautious about geoengineering projects. The image that comes to mind is handing a heavy wrench to a gorilla to use for repairing a computer [or sometimes I visualize a gold pocket watch in place of my laptop].

    In spite of my moniker I am not a doomer. Humankind is remarkably adaptable. I do believe we are soon facing a series of most unhappy events and such responses as I have noticed seems best exemplified by the way recent events are being handled in New Orleans, Houston Area, and most notably Puerto Rico. I hope this thread might help me learn some better ways to mitigate, and adapt to what I will now call Climate Disruption.

  4. 104
    Thomas says:

    SEATTLE — In December 2015, nearly 2,000 mayors and local leaders gathered under the ornate ceilings of Paris City Hall to make a single argument: As the epicenters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, cities are where the battle for climate change will be won or lost.

    But the wheels of climate research grind slowly. The IPCC’s first “Special Report on Cities and Climate Change” won’t be ready until some time in the 2023-2028 window, the five-year period known as the seventh assessment report cycle in IPCC parlance.
    https://www.devex.com/news/cities-emerge-onto-the-climate-change-science-agenda-92312

  5. 105
    Thomas says:

    PS about ‘Cities emerge onto the climate change science agenda’ and Real Climate et al

    Outside of ‘the Hypothetical’ lays the real world known as planet Earth: a case in

    point via the IPCC and others

    We must not delude ourselves — there are real structural impediments to this

    change,” warned IPCC co-chair Debra Roberts. “We have to displace an entire global system

    focused on consumption. There are local revolutions in individual households, dramatic

    changes that cities need to make in terms of procurement policies.”

    Revi offered a sobering assessment. “We’re trying to transform the single largest industry

    in the history of the current economic system,” he said. “What if the empire strikes back?

    The empire will strike back. That’s the nature of systems.”

    https://www.devex.com/news/cities-emerge-onto-the-climate-change-science-agenda-92312

    iow It’s way past time to get real on Real Climate or give it up and get out the way of

    real solutions.

    Frankly, I knew a long time ago the people here do not have a clue what you are doing nor why.

    24/7 Failure:101

  6. 106
    Thomas says:

    AGW/CC Impacts and Drivers – ‘Burb emissions —
    ‘In Salt Lake City, suburban sprawl is bad news for climate change’

    Salt Lake City has an emissions sensor network that is ahead of the game.
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/03/in-salt-lake-city-suburban-sprawl-is-bad-news-for-climate-change/

    Long-term urban carbon dioxide observations reveal spatial and temporal dynamics related to urban characteristics and growth
    Logan E. Mitchell, John C. Lin, David R. Bowling, Diane E. Pataki, Courtenay Strong, Andrew J. Schauer, Ryan Bares, Susan E. Bush, Britton B. Stephens, Daniel Mendoza, Derek Mallia, Lacey Holland, Kevin R. Gurney and James R. Ehleringer
    PNAS 2018; published ahead of print March 5, 2018
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/02/27/1702393115

  7. 107

    Here’s a mitigative strategy: since anti-RE zealots love to slag solar farms as allegedly ‘devastating’ to local ecologies due to land clearance, let’s put solar farms on lands already ‘so battered and bruised by pollution as to be useless’ for most purposes:

    https://cleantechnica.com/2018/03/13/us-utilities-turning-shuttered-coal-generating-facilities-solar-power-plants/

  8. 108

    And a paleoclimate data point: it seems some humans thrived during the Toba aerosol winter:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/stone-age-supervolcano-1.4573916

    “On a regular basis through time, humans faced dire threats from natural disasters. As hunter-gatherers endowed with advanced cognition and a proclivity to cooperate, we were able to make it through this disaster, and we were very resilient,” said Marean, who led the study published in the journal Nature.

    “But this may not be the case now with our reliance on our highly complicated technological system. In my opinion, a volcano like this could annihilate civilization as we know it. Are we ready?”

    That puts it well, IMHO, and not just WRT volcanoes. Paleohumans were not less capable (or more capable) than us; however, their capabilities were relevant to resources found in nature. Ours are relevant primarily to our own artifacts. Crash the supply of said artifacts, and we are babes in the woods.

    And, in a nasty kicker to that reality, those woods are now biologically depleted compared to pre-Industrial norms, and are highly likely to become even more so as climate change continues.

  9. 109
    Mr. Know It All says:

    106 – Thomas

    Hope they didn’t spend more than $3 for those studies to “discover” that more traffic on roads increased the CO2 output. Kind of obvious.

    The Salt Lake Valley from Tremonton to around Santaquin (~140 miles) can have dirty air in the winter. The prevailing winds come from the west and northwest and the Wasatch mountains are east of the megalopolis. The mountains block the escape of all the pollutants. If you drive up to the ski resorts you’ll get above the smog and it will be bright and sunny – then as you drive back down toward the city it’s like driving into a bowl of brown soup – the sun goes away and it gets darker. Because of this dirty brown air, winters can be quite dreary in the valley.

  10. 110

    I guess this qualifies as a ‘forced response’:

    https://insideclimatenews.org/news/05122017/lamar-smith-congress-climate-change-fossil-fuel-industry-house-science-committee

    A wide-ranging long form piece, focused primarily on how denialism captured the House Science Committee.

    An intriguing anecdote from Kerry Emanuel:

    A few days later, [MIT climate scientist Kerry] Emanuel got a call from [House Science Committee Chair Lamar] Smith, who wanted to talk about the book. “He struck me as a very astute man,” Emanuel said. “Clearly he had read the book very thoroughly or had been thoroughly briefed on it.

    “He proceeded politely to ask sharp questions. Could this be wrong? Could it be not as bad? A lot of the questions were about uncertainty,” Emanuel recalled. At first the scientist felt he was making headway with the congressman, a hope that was quashed the next time he heard Smith publicly dismissing climate science. “In hindsight, I think I was unwittingly a coach, helping him armor himself against reasonable arguments.”

    “There’s nothing stupid about Lamar Smith,” said Emanuel. “He’s not uniformly anti-science. It’s not that he doesn’t understand the science. He struck me as a lawyer for the defense, who knows his defendant is guilty, but is bound by law or honor or legal code to defend.”

  11. 111
    Killian says:

    #103 Jeremy Grimm said I should simply restate what I understand as his chief points. The Global Warming — no Climate Change — ‘debate’ has three phases… denial which buys time for the second phase ‘Market’ solutions like Cap and Trade… Cap and Trade worked in Europe as a mechanism for money making but a less than effective mechanism for reducing carbon emissions]. The second phase buys time for… geoengineering projects… Mirowski points out that the first and second phases of the climate change ‘debate’ bear a strong resemblance to the activities of the Tobacco Industry… part of the Neoliberal toolkit… new form of public ‘debate’ — “agnotology” [ which I understand to mean a deliberate multiplication of contrasting viewpoints intended to confuse and delay meaningful response].

    Hmmm… I taste peanuts.

    …the rate of climate change reported and rate of change in factors affecting climate which are reported strike me as completely unprecedented by measure of any geologic era… which seem to be accelerating, they incline me to be even more cautious about geoengineering projects… I hope this thread might help me learn some better ways to mitigate, and adapt to what I will now call Climate Disruption.

    Welcome. Agreed across the board. Occam’s: Don’t poke the beast, calm it down. Class… more later.

  12. 112
    Killian says:

    #103 (cont)…the rate of climate change reported and rate of change in factors affecting climate which are reported strike me as completely unprecedented by measure of any geologic era… which seem to be accelerating, they incline me to be even more cautious about geoengineering projects… I hope this thread might help me learn some better ways to mitigate, and adapt to what I will now call Climate Disruption.

    Occam’s is exactly why simplicity is the only real option. The problem’s we face are created by too much: Too much taken out of the ground, too much put into the air, too much put into the waters, too many people, etc., but it all starts and ends with how we use resources.

    Efficiency has never and will never overcome growth and our sociopolitical and economic systems require it. Ergo, keep those systems, crash the planetary system. This is not difficult math, yet it is easily ignored by those more interested in what they believe than what is. If one accepts classical or neoclassical economics as legit it is easy to assume the insanity of endless substitution is a sane belief.

    There is nothing to prove with more studies. That economic growth cannot go on forever without mining the heavens is self-evident. That the overuse and abuse of resources is the cause of all our primary ills is self-evident. That neither republics nor any form of current economic systems can remain stable without growth is self-evident.

    No, geoengineering is not worth the risk. This is true both because we have near zero risk options and because the unintended consequences of additional complexity in overly complex systems can have a devastating effect, leading to the very collapse one is trying to avoid.

    Simplicity. One choice. Simplicity hits the at core of the problem, the root: Abuse and overuse and resources. Reduce those, solve the problems. However, the implications are massive. It wrecks the economy, which wrecks the government, which destabilizes everything. Thus, this must be done with intention. Simplicity is a choice, or has been. If it happens out of our control, it will likely be an unprecedented disaster. IMO, it would make the worst of climate more of a reality as people fell back to surviving any way they could to stay fed, stay warm, stay safe. Sustainability requires intense cooperation. Oops.

    Anywho… just an overview of reasoning.

  13. 113
    Killian says:

    Things are picking up with awarenes of soils’ importance to not only farming, but mitigation and survival.

    This is a national project.

    I guess it’s wrong to point out too many here here consider all is hundreds of years from importance, so I guess I won’t.

    https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/13/uk-farmers-to-be-given-first-ever-targets-on-soil-health?__twitter_impression=true

  14. 114
    Killian says:

    #108 Kevin McKinney said “But this may not be the case now with our reliance on our highly complicated technological system. In my opinion, a volcano like this could annihilate civilization as we know it. Are we ready?”

    That puts it well, IMHO, and not just WRT volcanoes. Paleohumans were not less capable (or more capable) than us; however, their capabilities were relevant to resources found in nature. Ours are relevant primarily to our own artifacts. Crash the supply of said artifacts, and we are babes in the woods.

    And, in a nasty kicker to that reality, those woods are now biologically depleted compared to pre-Industrial norms, and are highly likely to become even more so as climate change continues.

    Yet, simplicity is not the answer to this over-reliance on stuff.

    Hmmm…

  15. 115

    Killian, #114–

    Yet, simplicity is not the answer to this over-reliance on stuff.

    Hmmm…

    Clearly, there is no controversy here–meaning, in this immediate subthread–that our complexity is a vulnerability. My #108 does indeed illustrate that.

    However, the flip side is, what is the remedy? Killian, of course, proposes radical simplification.

    I question that as a short-term solution, most precisely because of the factors identified in #108.

    On one hand, the population is, in terms of skills, less equipped than ever before to live without the accustomed technological infrastructure. Even subsistence farmers in, say, equatorial Africa are depending these days on metals and fabrics that they cannot source from outside the industrial economy, and which they would be hard put to replace successfully.

    On the other hand, we already live in a world seriously depleted of biological diversity and (very often) abundance–that is to say, a world which would have provided enormous long-term survival challenges to our better-equipped distant ancestors.

    So: less well-equipped ‘users,’ plus a harder survival challenge. “What could possibly go wrong?”

    “Hmmm…”

    That’s not to say that the status quo is anything like sustainable, of course. Our society is predicated upon maximizing convenience (which in many cases implies disposable artifacts made possible with cheap [historically, fossil] energy), and upon constant growth (needed to ‘plaster over’ our inability to contain or ameliorate excessive levels of social and economic inequality). Both in terms of sources–energy and materials–and sinks–pollution of various types–it can’t go on.

    But it’s quite conceivable that solutions exist which combine technological sophistication with, well, let’s say ‘systems sophistication.’ And it’s a dead certainty that humans will be looking for that sweet spot, because we are exquisitely sensitive to loss, and even the prospect thereof.

    IMHO, we’d better hope that ‘sweet spot’ exists and is found/developed. We can’t continue as we are, but nor can we just go back–at least, not without immense suffering. Or so it appears to me.

  16. 116
    Thomas says:

    [edit]

    [Response: Thomas, Since you don’t seem capable of taking a hint, let me be totally explicit. The comment threads here are not your property, and you have no special right to monopolize them. The best analogy is a dinner party. You should think of yourself as an invited guest who is free to disagree with the hosts, or argue with the other guests, but not to throw food, nor to drown out all other voices at the table. Even if all your points are totally valid and righteous, it is tedious to hear them repeated at length for the entire meal. If you feel that you have more to say than we are allowing you space to express, start your own blog. It’s free and you can completely control the conversation. This space is curated by us, for things we think are worth discussing. If you disagree on that, that is totally fine, you don’t have to take part. If you do want to participate, reduce your posting frequency (by a lot), and concentrate on making the best comments you can, not just the most. PS. This is not up for discussion. – gavin]

  17. 117
    Killian says:

    #115 Kevin McKinney said But it’s quite conceivable that solutions exist which combine technological sophistication with, well, let’s say ‘systems sophistication.

    I take your “quite conceivable” to mean kind of likely. The problem with this is, regardless of the % you place on it, it falls under magical thinking: “In psychology… the belief that one’s thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world or that thinking something corresponds with doing it.”
    Wiki

    Yet, we have a long history of complexity failing to overcome complexity and the only way out being… simplification. I mean, I guess I should be proud that you all like to call this my solution when it’s what humans have always done to survive resource depletion and extreme complexity. Yet, that is the last place you and others seem to want to go. I think it is on you to explain why, not on me to defend historical precedent; it defends itself.

    Then we have Tainter’s examination of history and his diminishing returns on complexity curve. We have a list of resources (in reality all finite resources given enough time and rates of use) going extinct. We have Liebig reminding us only a critical resource need go bye-bye, not all resources. And on and on. I can support simplicity as the solution from every angle of this. You cannot do the opposite.

    Ergo…?

    Killian, #114–

    Yet, simplicity is not the answer to this over-reliance on stuff.

    Hmmm…

    Clearly, there is no controversy here–meaning, in this immediate subthread–that our complexity is a vulnerability. My #108 does indeed illustrate that.

    However, the flip side is, what is the remedy? Killian, of course, proposes radical simplification.

    More accurately, it imposes itself. We do not design to want or supposition, but to need. What do we need to do? Use less. Ergo…

    I question that as a short-term solution, most precisely because of the factors identified in #108.

    But you don’t *actually* have a logical rubrik as to why. Simplicity is far more anti-fragile than complexity. You have your argument backwards from how things work.

    On one hand, the population is, in terms of skills, less equipped than ever before to live without the accustomed technological infrastructure.

    So? We are unteachable? We don’t have any tech already in place to transition with? What… are all the hammers and tractors and backhoes and screwdrivers, et al., going to suddenly disappear? How long does it take to learn a skill?

    You speak as if these skills have to be learned in the next week rather than over 5 to 100 years.

    Even subsistence farmers in, say, equatorial Africa are depending these days on metals and fabrics that they cannot source from outside the industrial economy, and which they would be hard put to replace successfully.

    What did they do 100 years ago? Starve? And, again a Straw Man: Who said everything suddenly disappears? This line of argument is rather silly. Onward.

    On the other hand, we already live in a world seriously depleted of biological diversity and (very often) abundance–that is to say, a world which would have provided enormous long-term survival challenges to our better-equipped distant ancestors.

    Sure. But we can restore denuded areas in 5 – 10 years. So…? And, we can feed up to 12 billion as is, so…?

    So: less well-equipped ‘users,’ plus a harder survival challenge. “What could possibly go wrong?”

    Given everything is going wrong, and simplicity addresses all of it, isn’t the question how crazy are we to not already be half way there?

    IMHO, we’d better hope that ‘sweet spot’ exists and is found/developed.

    It is unneeded, so why should we hope for it? Why engage in magical thinking and wish fulfillment when we can simply start growing food, capturing water and go from there?

    We can’t continue as we are, but nor can we just go back–at least, not without immense suffering. Or so it appears to me.

    You have in no way shown immense suffering is an inevitable result of intentional simplification. In fact, everything we know about simple living is a positive in terms of health, mental health, belonging, life satisfaction, etc.

    This is an unfounded assumption you make from a very shaky, basically non-existent analysis.

    Cheers

  18. 118
    nigelj says:

    Part of the mitigation strategy for climate change is to reduce carbon footprints. This also happens to have benefits in terms of resource scarcity.

    It’s obvious that economic and population growth can’t continue at current rates without crashing into finite resource limits with painful results, and possibly abrupt reductions in growth. We either accept these scenarios, or try to deliberately reduce rates of growth in an orderly way. An orderly reduction helps both the climate and resource problems.

    Economic modelling shows the price mechanism responds slowly to resource scarcity, and by the time it bites hard resources are steeply diminished. I can find a link to this if anyones interested. This means we cannot rely on market signals, and need a more planned approach on an individual or community wide level, or both. It’s intuitively obvious anyway.

    Light weight simplification might be the best approach imho. Imho this would entail a 25% cut on average in our use of energy, technology and building materials over a 20 year time frame as a starting goal. It could then be adjusted if appropriate.

    A 25% reduction will help reduce the climate problems and will conserve at least some materials for future generations without seriously damaging our present quality of life. It is less likely to desatabilse the economy than more radical and rapid cuts. Its a number most people could live with I think, so seems plausible in terms of voluntary adoption. I appreciate poor people would need to be exempted.

    Humanity is indeed reliant on technology and complex systems, and complex institutions. A 25% cut might be a level people can cope with in this regard.

    But a 25% reduction wont fix the climate issue, so we will require renewable energy and some form of negative emissions with either technology or natural sinks, preferably the later.

    The following study shows that more sustainable lifestyles helps avoid the need for huge negative emissions projects like BECCS. The study is on various emissions pathways and is quite interesting.

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/new-scenarios-world-limit-warming-one-point-five-celsius-2100

  19. 119
    zebra says:

    @Kevin McKinney #115,

    “sweet spot”

    Asked and answered.

    The minimum human population that will:

    1. Allow for genetic diversity.
    2. Allow for specialization, meaning that science and technology and art and music and so on can continue and progress where possible.

    Perhaps now it might be possible, if someone wants to make a rational argument against this “simple” answer, to have an adult discussion about it.

  20. 120
    Tokodave says:

    116: Thomas. Thanks Gavin. And thanks for all your work here, and for science in general. We need it now more than ever.

  21. 121

    zebra 119: The minimum human population that will:
    1. Allow for genetic diversity.
    2. Allow for specialization, meaning that science and technology and art and music and so on can continue and progress where possible.

    BPL: The founder population of Pitcairn Island, which is still around, was 13 European men and 14 Polynesian women. But I’ve heard that a single disaster could still wipe out a population this size, so geneticists like to insist on at least 10,000. That would presumably take care of point #2 as well.

  22. 122
    Richard Creager says:

    Killian @117
    You take Kevin McKinney to task for straw man arguments. There is something gloriously self-referential about playing the straw man card in a post in which you, for no apparent reason, explicitly re-interpret “quite conceivable” to mean “kind of likely”, then call it “magical thinking”, quote a psych text in case we don’t know what magical thinking is and dismiss it out of hand. Apparently the ability to conceive a notion contrary to your preferred opinion maps directly to magical thinking. Do you see it Killian? This what passes for “analysis” in your neck of the woods? Nothing rules out the possibility of a successful response to CC involving a creative combination of simplification and sophistication as yet unviewable from our present cultural vantage point. No magical thinking needed. It seems like the only faint hope to hang onto, to this lurker.

  23. 123
  24. 124

    Killian, #117–

    First, thanks for a substantive and insult-free response. Responding point by point in kind–

    But you don’t *actually* have a logical rubrik as to why. Simplicity is far more anti-fragile than complexity. You have your argument backwards from how things work.

    I think my reasons are logical enough, but since you address them specifically, I’ll save my defense for those places. I will remark that while simplicity may well be ‘anti-fragile’, it doesn’t follow either that transitioning to it is necessarily as easy as you expect, or that it can necessarily support current population levels.

    Kevin: On one hand, the population is, in terms of skills, less equipped than ever before to live without the accustomed technological infrastructure.

    Killian: So? We are unteachable?

    No. But teaching takes time and resources of personnel, finance, time and materiel. Teaching the great majority of the world’s population drastically different skills and mental models is, to say the least, a non-trivial task.

    Killian: We don’t have any tech already in place to transition with? What… are all the hammers and tractors and backhoes and screwdrivers, et al., going to suddenly disappear?

    (Current) tractors and backhoes don’t do much good without fuel, and the absent nails and screws (fabrication of which is quite ‘skillful’) the utility of hammers and screwdrivers drops considerably…

    Now, I take your point that there will be usable ‘products of complexity’ extant for some time, and that they would help folks to transition. But the corollary is that if we are to rely on them to some extent, we also need to be reducing their carbon footprint during that transition somehow, given the need to reduce emissions *yesterday*. (A point I take it we more or less agree on?)

    You speak as if these skills have to be learned in the next week rather than over 5 to 100 years.

    IMO, 100 years might be enough–but that would be game over for climate. 5 years isn’t–again, IMO–even close to being enough. (Witness the difficulty of even educating the general public in terms awareness of these issues.)

    Kevin: Even subsistence farmers in, say, equatorial Africa are depending these days on metals and fabrics that they cannot source from outside the industrial economy, and which they would be hard put to replace successfully.

    Killian: What did they do 100 years ago? Starve?

    Fairly frequently, yes. And that in a relatively stable climate, and with a much lower population to feed.

    Kevin: On the other hand, we already live in a world seriously depleted of biological diversity and (very often) abundance–that is to say, a world which would have provided enormous long-term survival challenges to our better-equipped distant ancestors.

    Killian: Sure. But we can restore denuded areas in 5 – 10 years. So…? And, we can feed up to 12 billion as is, so…?

    We can restore denuded areas of what size? And with how many folks, equipped how? And what about wild areas, whether terrestrial or marine, and their associated ecological services? No offense, but your response strikes me as wildly optimistic. So does the claim about feeding ‘up to 12 billion,’ but perhaps you care to expand on the evidence for it?

    Killian: Given everything is going wrong, and simplicity addresses all of it, isn’t the question how crazy are we to not already be half way there?

    I don’t think that simplicity does ‘address all of it,’ at least not as I can currently understand it. Principally, it fails to address why humans have overwhelmingly ‘voted with their feet’ for complexity over the historical record. People want to be healthy, so they developed a complex medical science, including a sophisticated pharmacopeia. People want to work more effectively, so they developed numerous complex technologies in order to do more with less effort. People want to be secure, so they developed complex tools and social structures to protect themselves (admittedly, sometimes with paradoxical results.) And they want to be comfortable and have fun, so they developed–well, I’d be repeating myself at this point. Why would we expect these desires to change en bloc? Leave out of it what you or I want–what does humanity want?

    Killian: You have in no way shown immense suffering is an inevitable result of intentional simplification. In fact, everything we know about simple living is a positive in terms of health, mental health, belonging, life satisfaction, etc.

    This is an unfounded assumption you make from a very shaky, basically non-existent analysis.

    It’s true that I haven’t ‘presented analysis’ on simplicity, at least in this immediate context.

    (For those ‘coming in in the middle’–assuming any such are still reading–this subthread began with a link I provided discussing the vulnerability our complex society bears WRT to very large volcanic eruptions, in the context of the robustness of some Stone Age populations who ‘thrived’ during the event–albeit at a considerable distance!)

    Given that this is already a lengthy comment, I’m not going to start such an analysis here. But let me close with some questions I have which will perhaps be indicative. (Other questions are already explicit or implicit above, and I won’t repeat them.)

    *How would your society–I know, it’s not really ‘yours’ but I’m not sure what label you’d prefer–deal with issues of justice and conflict between and within groups, and how can we transition to it?

    *Given that military needs/desires have often driven technology, and that military advantage is often associated with technological advantage, wouldn’t simplifying groups be at elevated risk of conquest in most or all intergroup conflict situations?

    *How would your society deal with medicine and public health?

    *Given that historical solutions to the problem of division of labor have frequently involved rigid social hierarchies (not least gender-based ones), should we expect that technological simplification would have a different result?

    *Above all–and this one is somewhat repetitive–how fast can transition to simplicity bring down emissions?

    *You state that “everything we know about simple living is a positive in terms of health, mental health, belonging, life satisfaction.” But doesn’t that refer to simple living *in the context of personal/community choice, and supported by the full resources (if needed) of a technologically advanced society?* (For instance, I live relatively simply myself, but I’m still going to stop by the doctor’s office later to make an appointment for a checkup.)

    I don’t mean to snipe; these are some real questions and concerns that come up for me when I read what you have to say. And that concern only redoubles when you use the vision of this wonderful simplified society you envision to argue *against* methods, tactics, and initiatives which can, have, or should reduce emissions or otherwise improve environmental outcomes in the present and future–I am thinking here of political engagement in support of the environment generally, and of most of the social and technological strategies for mitigation that we’ve discussed at one time or another.

    Thanks again for your response.

  25. 125

    zebra, #119–

    That’s a different sweet spot than the one I had in mind, and has a different characteristic timeframe. Yours can hardly be achieved sooner than many decades in the future, while I’m talking about a relatively more sustainable society, using advanced technology and ecologically ‘smart’ social structures in order to minimize the damage to the planet in the meantime.

    Killian called it “magical thinking”, but I think it’s only that if no practical effort is made to achieve it. Every real achievement begins with desire for something, then proceeds to possible means for achieving that vision.

  26. 126
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @119, considerable progress was made in the arts in the greek and roman empires when global population was about 200 million, and clearly those empires had much smaller populations than 200 million. Science developed during the enlightenment when global population was about 500 million (much less in Europe where science really developed).

    Considerable technological progress and innovation and economies of scale were made during the industrial revolution, when global population was approximately 2 billion by 1900. Global trade was also significant in this period

    This look at history suggests a viable global population based around technology and the arts could well be less than 2 billion.

    We can try to calculate an ideal population size, but I think its a bit academic or theoretical, because most enlightened people know population growth has to slow down and eventually reverse. This will take some time, and will find its natural bottom limit as a learning experience. However it would still be useful to have an ultimate theoretical number I suppose.

  27. 127
    nigelj says:

    Killian @117

    “IMHO, we’d better hope that ‘sweet spot’ exists and is found/developed.It is unneeded, so why should we hope for it? Why engage in magical thinking and wish fulfillment when we can simply start growing food, capturing water and go from there?”

    Things can indeed change, and people can indeed be taught to be more self sufficient. But currently vast numbers of people live in highrise apartments particularly in Europe and Asia. Growing their own vegetables is not so easy, unless they bicycle for hours each day to get to rural areas. And this assumes they can find enough people willing to sell land to them.

    Or do we move from highrise living back to rural villages? Its hard for me to see such a thing happening quickly. Again people have to sell homes and find willing sellers in rural areas and so on.

    One thing is for sure the conclusion for me is a mass simplification process could take significant time over several decades or more. If its rushed the economy will probably collapse with huge human suffering (likes Mao’s restructurings in China). I think you suggested 50 – 100 years.

    This is why I think we are “stuck” with needing to develop renewable energy as well as simplification strategies. Paris goals are by 2050.

    Assuming my previous example of 25% reduction in consumption over 20 years as a viable possibility, this would obviously still leave a need for renewable energy if we are to meet Paris accord goals. Even 50% cuts in consumption would still require a lot of renewable energy given all the factors such as plausible population trends.

    “You have in no way shown immense suffering is an inevitable result of intentional simplification. In fact, everything we know about simple living is a positive in terms of health, mental health, belonging, life satisfaction, etc.”

    It depends what you mean by simple living. You talked about cuts in energy use of 90%. Someone living in a highrise apartment trying to do that could die.

    Such things would have to be done very gradually if they are possible at all, and would require completely new forms of buildings and lifestyles. Again this is obviously possible in theory at least to the extent of maybe 50% cuts in energy use, but is likely to take time. I’m just touching on a couple of practical aspects. The philosophy makes sense in a general way, but has to be thought through quite a bit before jumping to conclusions on the extent of simplification and plausible time frames.

    However its true that owning more and more “stuff” has steeply diminishing returns in terms of human happiness. But owning very little stuff has its own set of problems. Where is the sweet spot I wonder?

  28. 128
    Killian says:

    #119 zebra said @Kevin McKinney #115,

    “sweet spot”

    Kevin’s “sweet spot” has no meaning. It is a metric he pulled out of thin air based on nothing but assumptions. In fact, to state it as he originally did he has to assume that simplicity is not achievable and not desirable. This is a determination he does not have the training nor the expertise to make.

    The minimum human population that will:

    1. Allow for genetic diversity.
    2. Allow for specialization, meaning that science and technology and art and music and so on can continue and progress where possible.

    Why? Your conditions are arbitrary to this discussion. There is no reason sustainability need be defined this way because living within planetary boundaries can be achieved well above those thresholds. The correct framing is Resource Assessment divided by current population = Lifestyle or Resources Per Capita, by bio-region.

    The levels of population you state only matter IF there are sufficient resources to support them. If those resources don’t exist to support a population at whatever level of diversity, the level of diversity needed is moot.

    Perhaps now it might be possible, if someone wants to make a rational argument against this “simple” answer, to have an adult discussion about it.

    Why not leave out the pejorative crap, including your sarcastic “quotes”, instead of hypocritically blowing on the coals? Just say what you have to say without the B.S. personal attacks.

  29. 129
    Killian says:

    #118 nigelj said We either accept these scenarios, or try to deliberately reduce rates of growth in an orderly way. An orderly reduction helps both the climate and resource problems.

    Well, you’re starting to listen.

    Economic modelling shows the price mechanism responds slowly to resource scarcity, and by the time it bites hard resources are steeply diminished. I can find a link to this if anyones interested. This means we cannot rely on market signals, and need a more planned approach on an individual or community wide level, or both. It’s intuitively obvious anyway.

    How do you mean, intuitively obvious? You have been arguing against this for a long time. What has changed?

    I’d like that link as a resource to tuck away to argue against Capitalists and growth nuts.

    Light weight simplification might be the best approach

    This has no meaning. Be specific, please.

    Imho this would entail a 25% cut on average in our use of energy, technology and building materials over a 20 year time frame as a starting goal.

    Pulled out of your arse? Again, be specific because I am fairly certain you have zero actual support for these numbers.

    A 25% reduction will help reduce the climate problems

    How?

    and will conserve at least some materials for future generations without seriously damaging our present quality of life.

    25% reduction in output equals an economic crash. You are suggesting crashing the system while offering no alternative.

    Humanity is indeed reliant on technology and complex systems, and complex institutions. A 25% cut might be a level people can cope with in this regard.

    Based on what?

    The following study shows that more sustainable lifestyles helps avoid the need for huge negative emissions projects like BECCS.

    Who woulda thunk it? However, does that study include the timing of massive bifurcations? No?

  30. 130
    Digby Scorgie says:

    zebra @119

    The population size is clearly a goldilocks number — too little and the population is not viable, too large and the planet gets wrecked. What the goldilocks number is would probably be difficult to pin down, however.

  31. 131
    Killian says:

    This is one of those articles/studies that makes me think about bifurcations, Chaos and time frames. Faster than expected: Cold melt water effects in the North Atlantic.

    Until now, models have predicted something for the future … but it was something that seemed very distant,” said Oltmanns, the lead scientist behind the research, which was published this week in Nature Climate Change.

    “But now we saw with these observations that there is actually freshwater and that it is already affecting convection, and it delays convection quite a lot in some years,” she continued.

    One caution is that this is an observational study, not a prediction for the future — and Oltmanns said “nobody really knows” how much freshwater is enough to significantly slow or shut down the circulation, which is technically called the “Atlantic meridional overturning circulation,” or AMOC. Still, it suggests that key processes that have raised long-standing concern are already happening.

    How does this affect *your* sense of time to make significant changes?

  32. 132

    I thought that the debate was resolved after my findings that the sun is the major climate driver. This is not just hypothesis, it is proven hardcore science on even explaining the solar wind phenomenon. A volume of research. In this blog you support the AGW hypothesis but you should check the new data.
    http://dimispoulos.wixsite.com/dimis

  33. 133
    Jim Baird says:

    Thomas 76

    Sorry if I had to mix metaphors.

    The red blob is the region of highest heat concentration at the ocean’s surface. It is driven there by the Tradewinds and pushes the thermocline to depths of about 250 meters. During the “hiatus” it was a significant repository of heat thus the “black hole” analogy. The problem is, in order to create energy with thermal stratification you have to have a difference of at least 20 degrees Celsius between the surface and the deep water. During the hiatus, the heat only got to 250 and then dispersed after the Tradewinds subsided. A heat pipe can move heat to the depths required to produce power at a rate of about 75 meters/sec, through a turbine that converts about 7.5 percent of the heat to work and then into a condenser, where the heat is dispersed. The bottom of the heat pipe is therefore a heat black hole. Heat rises, however, at a rate of 4 meters/year, therefore, the heat not converted to work in the initial pass is available at the surface in 250 years later to produce more power. In the interim the evaporators on the surface are drawing heat from the rest of the surface to replace the heat you have moved with the heat pipe on the initial pass. Heat will still be building up at the surface by the time the intial heat resurfaces, but after a second 250 year cycle you would only be recycling the heat already trapped below the surface.

  34. 134
    nigelj says:

    Killian @129

    Thank’s for the comment. I defined light weight simplification as a 25% cut to consumption phased in over 20 years. I’m steering clear of socal aspects as being off topic. After 20 years we could evaluate things and consider increases if appropriate.

    The number is not “pulled out of my backside” as you described it. Its a number the majority of people in western countries could likely deal with without major reductions in quality of life as I already explained, and I should not need to spend pages justifying this because its obvious.

    Your own suggestion of 90% energy cuts (and technology cuts?) is much more likely to cause large reductions in quality of life, given basic human needs for energy etcetera. And it is not clear on what basis you derived your own number. If it was just a gesstimate or talking point, please say so. Theres nothing wrong with guesstimates, if they are identified as guesstimates.

    A 25% reduction in energy demand obviously helps reduce CO2 emissions, all other things being equal. It’s self evident and doesn’t need explaining. It will reduce fossil fuel emissions about 25% and also the ultimate need for renewable energy, which does have a carbon content in the manufacturing process.

    A 25% reduction over 20 years could probably be accomodated without causing an economic crash provided its phased in incrementally over the period which is likely anyway. The 90% reduction you suggest would be far more likely to cause a crash. You have not proposed whether this is an initial number, and I assume it would be phased in, but you dont say. However the sheer size of the number could be destabilising.

    Remember there’s absolutely no way of transitioning to a new economic system instantly. These things take time, so the system will be vulnerable during the transition, and we will be reliant on it. The system is currently our life support system for basics like healthcare etc during the transition. This is why we dont want to crash that system and hence why I think a 25% number over 20 years might be a reasonable number if phased in gradually.

    This could all be mitigated against if a transition from one system to the other was ordered and controlled by government, but this is unlikely to happen. Change will more likely come in a voluntary way,as people leave the current system in numbers, – and potentially destabilising the existing system.

    Since you treat the reseach papers I quote with contempt, I’m not inclined to hunt them out and post the link you wanted. But thank’s for the comments anyway.

  35. 135
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @124,

    Good questions that have all occured to me as well. Total system change is not so easy, no matter how noble or vital the goals. The transition is likely to be tough going. It is easy enough for a few small groups, but much harder as a mass exercise.

    Healthcare is the critical thing.

    Karl Poppers incrementalism applies here.

  36. 136
    nigelj says:

    Regarding ideal small population size. Imho it isn’t really a question of the smallest possible society that maintains genetic diversity and doesn’t become in breeding and so on. Human societies like this were once just a few thousands and we want a larger population than this to maintain any level of technology, and general security against disease epidemics.

    The real question is what population size can maintain technology sufficient to provide good healthcare, that enables us to colonise other planets (if such a thing is really viable), mine the asteroids, and deflect a possible asteroid that is on a collision course. These are the critical factor’s.

    As I showed above, it clearly looks like it is less than 2 billion. I suggest its going to be in the tens of millions at least, because developing specialised technology requires so many different processes. Having said this, the development of robotics would possibly enable smaller populations than we can currently envisage.

    So this size cannot be calculated or even estimated much. All we can say is its very difficult to see why we need 10 billion people to achieve decent healthcare and technology systems, and a good deal less appears totally viable. It has to be incrementally approached, learning the consequences of size reduction as we go, and modifying if appropriate.

    Change will only really happen when people are prepared to have very small families, and they will only do this if they are guaranteed good healthcare, and this requires good technology at some level.

  37. 137
    nigelj says:

    Apologies if that was too many posts, I forgot the new rule. Cancel the population post if you must, but I think its worthwhile.

  38. 138
    zebra says:

    @Killian #128, also Kevin M #125,

    My suggestion is based on my definition of “sustainability”, which I’ve given several times, as maximizing the length of time the human species can exist.

    I’ve illustrated the reasoning in a couple of previous responses; a technological civilization is more likely to deal with external existential threats. It could establish off-planet habitations, it could practice genetic modification of organisms and even humans, and so on.

    Kevin: I think your sweet spot is really a solution to mitigation, not sustainability.

    Killian: Your approach is essentially circular. The only reason to have 12 billion humans is so that it will be necessary to employ your “simplicity” solution.

    I’ve asked others and never gotten an answer; perhaps you could try: Why is having more humans than my minimum a desirable goal?

  39. 139
    zebra says:

    @BPL, also DigbyS, nigel,

    BPL, The 10K number is, I believe, a genetic bottleneck through which humans actually passed at one time. But neither this nor the Pitcairn example is what I am looking for, because they both involve a subsequent growth in population.

    The idea is to maintain the variety of genome existing now, in sufficient quantity, so any potential utility isn’t lost. I can only guess what the number would be, and when I very first brought this up I asked for some geneticist-lurker to help out. A few hundred thousand? A few hundred million?

    With respect to the technology issue, this is of course going to be a moving target, because…AI, robots, and because… my oft-repeated point about lower population having non-linear declines in energy inputs, infrastructure requirements, and so on.

  40. 140
    Killian says:

    #132

    Dear god… another one.

    #124 Kevin McKinney said Killian, #117–

    First, thanks for a substantive and insult-free response.

    Don’t patronize me, it’s hypocritical and passive-aggressive. I am aggressive only in defense, unlike your words above inciting conflict.

    #125 Kevin McKinney said Killian called it “magical thinking”, but I think it’s only that if no practical effort is made to achieve it.

    Yet your critiques of simplicity suffer the same problem: If simplicity is not tried, how can it be achieved? You need to do better about consistency in applying your analysis to your own arguments, not just others’.

    Every real achievement begins with desire for something, then proceeds to possible means for achieving that vision.

    This quite simply, and exceedingly obviously, false. It does, however, describe quite effectively the last 800 years of thought and why we are headed for collapse.

    #127 nigelj said Killian @117
    But currently vast numbers of people live in highrise apartments particularly in Europe and Asia. Growing their own vegetables is not so easy, unless they bicycle for hours each day to get to rural areas. And this assumes they can find enough people willing to sell land to them.

    Bio-region. I have said this before.

    Or do we move from highrise living back to rural villages?

    Up to them.

    Its hard for me to see…

    I have often told you what you do not understand, but you are not correcting those deficits. There is no reason for you to not see other than not educating yourself. These points you are trying to make are things I would expect from neophytes.

    One thing is for sure the conclusion for me is a mass simplification process could take significant time over several decades or more.

    Or it could take 5 years, the time needed to get food production transitioned. And nothing you said above supports your claim. Nothing you have ever said supports this.

    If its rushed the economy will probably collapse with huge human suffering

    Because you say so. This is getting old.

    (likes Mao’s restructurings in China).

    Don’t be an ass. That’s crap debate technique. Extremely pejorative, and the analogy is miles away from being anything close to accurate.

    I think you suggested 50 – 100 years.

    No, I stated what stupidity would result in. Intelligent choices could see it done in as little as 20 years, including a return to sub-300ppm. We can be at simplicity in 5 to ten years. This is the time it takes to establish a workable homestead. People working together can transition neighborhoods or build new communities easily in this time frame. There is nothing about any of this that inherently takes a lot of time. I allow the time because of human stupidity, not the processes.

    This is why I think we are “stuck” with needing to develop renewable energy

    You do realize I have never said don’t use “renewable” energy, right? Can you accurately state my thoughts on this?

    as well as simplification strategies. Paris goals are by 2050.

    Suicidal goals is more accurate.

    Assuming my previous example of 25% reduction in consumption over 20 years as a viable possibility

    I do not care if you cannot provide an actual logical rationale.

    “You have in no way shown immense suffering is an inevitable result of intentional simplification. In fact, everything we know about simple living is a positive in terms of health, mental health, belonging, life satisfaction, etc.”

    It depends what you mean by simple living.

    No, it doesn’t. What you do not understand does not define the discussion. You have discussed this enough with me to know the implications of what I mean. Quit pretending I am talking about living covered in filth in the gutter.

    You talked about cuts in energy use of 90%. Someone living in a highrise apartment trying to do that could die.

    Because?

    Such things would have to be done very gradually if they are possible at all, and would require completely new forms of buildings

    Why?

    and lifestyles.

    Yes. That is the point, after all.

    The philosophy makes sense in a general way, but has to be thought through quite a bit before jumping to conclusions

    Just. Stop. Saying. Pejorative. Ignorant. Crap.

    It is insulting for you to keep saying this as if people haven’t lived simply for milennia; as if Permaculture were developed yesterday; as if Peramculture is not based in First Principles derived from the planet itself; as if organizations like La Via Campesina do not already exist, and on and on.

    We have nothing to prove to you. You are wrong. 100% wrong. Your broad statements with zero basis other than “I can’t see…” and other such meaningless phrases do not equal analysis.

    https://www.holmgren.com.au/retrofitting-the-suburbs/

    But owning very little stuff has its own set of problems. Where is the sweet spot I wonder?

    Says who? The Australian living in a 5-Earths society? Have you stopped to consider your view is exactly the problem?

  41. 141
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dmitris Poulos,
    Gee, who to believe, a self-published troll or the entire scientific community. Boy, tough choice. [edit]

  42. 142
    Killian says:

    #124 Kevin McKinney said Killian, #117–

    I will remark that while simplicity may well be ‘anti-fragile’, it doesn’t follow either that transitioning to it is necessarily as easy as you expect, or that it can necessarily support current population levels.

    I have never said it would be easy. Straw Man. There are myriad analysis about that prove it absolutely can. The problem here is you may not understand what simplification actually is. I know of no specific instances of you attempting to educate yourself on the concept. You argue with me, but that is not the same thing.

    Kevin: On one hand, the population is, in terms of skills, less equipped than ever before to live without the accustomed technological infrastructure.

    Killian: So? We are unteachable?

    No. But teaching takes time

    Name any skill that requires more than 5 years to be decent at. We don’t need a world of masters. We have never had that, and never will. But we can have a world of some masters and many competents.

    and resources of personnel

    Regenerative Community Incubators, Transition Towns, Via Campesina… to name a few ways of exponential spreading of knowledge. Oh, and this little thing called the internet.

    finance, time

    You really are not paying attention. If the choice is simplification, financing would already be moot. It would be a key part of making simplicity possible. However, while a literal 5-year transition to regenerative ag and governance is *possible*, it is due to the stupidity of the people operating this planet that this pathway will take time because it will have to come from the bottom up, and like any hyperbolic curve, it starts flat and ends up nearly straight up.

    Teaching the great majority of the world’s population drastically different skills and mental models is, to say the least, a non-trivial task.

    Irrelevant given the way it must/will be achieved.

    Killian: We don’t have any tech already in place to transition with? What… are all the hammers and tractors and backhoes and screwdrivers, et al., going to suddenly disappear?

    Now, I take your point that there will be usable ‘products of complexity’ extant for some time, and that they would help folks to transition. But the corollary is that if we are to rely on them to some extent, we also need to be reducing their carbon footprint during that transition somehow

    The carbon footprint of tools is hardly one of our major problem. Community tools, e.g., etc.

    You speak as if these skills have to be learned in the next week rather than over 5 to 100 years.

    IMO, 100 years might be enough–but that would be game over for climate.

    Exactly why I do not advocate it. However, we are talking transition. That does not mean we emit like today for 99 years then suddenly it ends…

    5 years isn’t–again, IMO–even close to being enough. (Witness the difficulty of even educating the general public in terms awareness of these issues.)

    Don’t conflate skilling with politics. I speak of what is possible to illustrate opportunities and the absurdity of inaction. I have said far too many times already that 50-100 is far more likely, but that it is also extremely risky. However, if the Regenerative Community Incubator concept took off, it could happen very quickly. But, all of this does ultimately depend on awareness and knowledge. People have to understand that is what they must do. But that starts at places like this and getting people like you, who supposedly care about and advocate for change, to “get it,” but the resistance from virtually everyone posting on this site is palpable.

    Killian: What did they do 100 years ago? Starve?

    Fairly frequently, yes. And that in a relatively stable climate, and with a much lower population to feed.

    Oh, please. This is claptrap from biased sources. Any community has calamities, but that is not the metric. Less some massive shift, people in intact, nature-connected societies are not always starving. They are far too careful about their environment and far too knowledgeable.

    Killian: Sure. But we can restore denuded areas in 5 – 10 years. So…? And, we can feed up to 12 billion as is, so…?

    We can restore denuded areas of what size? And with how many folks, equipped how?

    Any size. Any number, whatever equipment. Even no equipment. You do not know, we do. This is a huge problem in or discourse: You simply do not know, and do not do anything to change that.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBLZmwlPa8A

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xcZS7arcgk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8lz4Pn_Isw

    And on and on…

    And what about wild areas, whether terrestrial or marine, and their associated ecological services?

    What about them? There is no actual question here.

    No offense, but your response strikes me as wildly optimistic.

    I am never optimistic, let alone wildly. INTP. Look it up. Stop insutling me with your ignorance. Don’t insult me and pretend to be conversing. That you don’t understand is your deficit, not mine. change your deficit rather than belittle what I know. You have studied none of this, so stop making dumb comments about it.

    So does the claim about feeding ‘up to 12 billion,’ but perhaps you care to expand on the evidence for it?

    I have done so repeatedly. Look for it.

    Killian: Given everything is going wrong, and simplicity addresses all of it, isn’t the question how crazy are we to not already be half way there?

    I don’t think that simplicity does ‘address all of it,’

    It’s not an opinion. It is fact. What you think little matters.

    at least not as I can currently understand it. Principally, it fails to address why humans have overwhelmingly ‘voted with their feet’ for complexity over the historical record.

    Excuse me? Your logic is people acted stupidly, so I have to prove why they did? Absurd. Why did they vote for Trump? People are stupid. Well, racist, to be specific. https://www.thenation.com/article/economic-anxiety-didnt-make-people-vote-trump-racism-did/

    What we know is why they didn’t: They didn’t need to. Over a 6k year period most people abandoned a hybrid H-G/farmer lifestyle. There is no absolute agreement as to why. Some say complexity, some say population, some say the simple rise of power-mongerers. Pick one. What we do know is not everyone did, and those people are *not* starving, *are* happier than the rest of us, *are* healthier mentally and physically, often have actual democratic processes, tend to share everything, etc.

    No, you need to prove why we should keep being stupid instead of learning from our mistakes.

    People want to be healthy, so they developed a complex medical science, including a sophisticated pharmacopeia.

    People developed an incredibly unhealthy way of living and so created ever more complex ways of avoiding the trouble of living healthily.

    People want to work more effectively, so they developed numerous complex technologies in order to do more with less effort.

    Bull. People are creative and like to create, so they do. They are curious, so they investigate. There was no meeting where humanity sat down and said, let’s do really complex stuff! Most complexity is actually a response to previous complexity. Failing upwards, so to speak.

    The great error was in thinking the world was like a clock, and humans, too, and could be dealt with this way. In reality, we should have kept our simplicity and also encouraged innovation, but not implemented most of it because it is killing us. We can back down from this to a world that is simplicity in most ways, but also maintains our knowledge, but no longer uses it stupidly.

    People want to be secure, so they developed complex tools and social structures to protect themselves (admittedly, sometimes with paradoxical results.)

    Sometimes? Always, everywhere. They were already secure. Everyone is secure when there is nothing to be stolen or hoarded. They created false forms of abundance and hoarded them, coveted others, and thus we got today.

    Yay, team!

    Why would we expect these desires to change en bloc? Leave out of it what you or I want–what does humanity want?

    How many times do I have to say it? Survival. Realizing that needs, not wants, lead to healthy decisions.

    Killian: You have in no way shown immense suffering is an inevitable result of intentional simplification.

    It’s true that I haven’t ‘presented analysis’ on simplicity, at least in this immediate context.

    Or any.

  43. 143
    Killian says:

    Response to McKinney, Part II:

    *How would your society–I know, it’s not really ‘yours’ but I’m not sure what label you’d prefer–deal with issues of justice and conflict between and within groups, and how can we transition to it?

    These are two completely different questions, and the second is an immense question because you do not have the awareness of possibilities that I do. It took Bill Mollison 600 pages to lay out how to do this work.

    Conflicts? No conflicts. Cooperate or fail. I simply think once people understand that is not hyperbole, they will choose to. There are many sources on the nature of Commonses, a number of egalitarian processes floating around. Study if unfamiliar. If familiar, why are you asking?

    Resources viewed as a Commons pose no cause for conflict. Virtually all conflict among groups is based in resources. Ergo… If one understands ecology, one understands bio-regions are the key organizing principles. Align Commonses to bio-regions, no need for conflicts as the definition of sustainability is essentially living within carrying capacity without depleting or degrading.

    You have to change your assumptions about what life should be. You have to start at tabla rasa and apply First Principles. Your conflicts arise from refusing to do this. You are ever conflicted because you start your analysis from where you are, from what is. I did, too. I no longer do. I needed to hear one thing: Let design emerge, don’t impose it. That changed my entire relationship to problem solving. Never start from your own assumptions.

    *Given that military needs/desires have often driven technology, and that military advantage is often associated with technological advantage, wouldn’t simplifying groups be at elevated risk of conquest in most or all intergroup conflict situations?

    See above. We are assuming sanity reigns. Any military grab of resources dooms us all. If enough come to understand this, they will disband the militaries of the world. Understand this, the call for cooperation is fractal: It must exist at every level.

    *How would your society deal with medicine and public health?

    I have already said many times here modern med should be one of the few things we continue to accept unsustainable practice with because, as you have said, we are profoundly sick. If we simplify elsewhere, we can risk the unsustainable use of resources for medical care. However, over time we should be transitioning to a more natural medicine type of health care, and, even more saliently, living healthier lifestyles will eliminate a huge percentage of the need for “modern” intervention.

    *Given that historical solutions to the problem of division of labor have frequently involved rigid social hierarchies (not least gender-based ones), should we expect that technological simplification would have a different result?

    You pay attention to the wrong histories. There are societies with division of labor but not division of power. I suggest we try that. It is what egalitarian systems can accomplish. In many, there are no jobs. People do the work they choose to do each day. Clearly there is some awareness of what is pressing or not, but also important is not assuming the right or power to tell anyone else what to do. So they don’t. But this is also needs-based thinking. If it needs to be done, then do it. Somebody will.

    We forget most of the stupid selfishness and laziness comes of *not* being part of such societies, and being part of our highly specialized societies. Stop doing that, those problems also stop. The problem is the solution: If it hurts, stop doing it.

    *Above all–and this one is somewhat repetitive–how fast can transition to simplicity bring down emissions?

    Twenty years in a perfect world. Full simplification drops them 90%. Any negative emissions almost all go to draw down. This is why simplification is so vital. You do *all* the things things we can do for draw down, but do not simplify, you get to negative emissions… *maybe.* But do all the things we can do without simplicity *and* those we do via simplicity *and* actually simplify and my BOTE calculation is from 20 – 50 years. Socio-political reality places it at 50-100, but that is a choice, not an inherent limit, and it risks collapse and extinction, imo.

    *You state that “everything we know about simple living is a positive in terms of health, mental health, belonging, life satisfaction.” But doesn’t that refer to simple living *in the context of personal/community choice

    Yes. And?

    and supported by the full resources (if needed) of a technologically advanced society?*

    Dear god, no! As I have said, the mechanistic view of life, nature and “progress” caused a rift between reality and human action. Regenerative communities live within the context of the Nature they inhabit, and that is their primary limiting factor. They do not begin with can I have the fastest car or biggest house, but with what they can do with the system they live within. You have to flip the questions, the assumptions, and base them as I have stated, in First Principles, needs and limits. If unwilling to do so, then you must understand you are possibly choosing suicide and genocide and ecocide. Planetcide?

    I don’t mean to snipe; these are some real questions and concerns that come up for me when I read what you have to say. And that concern only redoubles when you use the vision of this wonderful simplified society you envision to argue *against* methods, tactics, and initiatives which can, have, or should reduce emissions or otherwise improve environmental outcomes in the present and future

    But I have not done that. You think I have. E.g., my comments on wind and solar are cautionary, not exclusionary. They are unsustainable, thus not solutions, only bridges. Treat them as bridge options, it completely changes planning. But people think they can windmill and solar panel themselves to sustainability when they cannot. That is the problem: The perception is completely incorrect, thus dangerous. People literally think having solar panels, a Prius and offsetting equals sustainable. It’s insane. But it’s what govts and companies have been selling them for decades, so they believe it.

    And, it is case by case. The U.S. already has enough wind solar and hydro to support that 10% threshold. Sane policy would shift at this point from building out more (saving resources) to reducing to a consumption level that fits that energy grid. I have said all this before.

    My comments about govt not being of use is due to the awareness that govt is inherently opposite sustainability and simply cannot be imagined to undesign itself. that just is not going to happen. The most avaricious, sociopathic people in our societies are in business and govt. They are not undoing themselves. Beyond that, how can they create something they have no conception of?

    No, sustainability is ultimately local, and will be built that way. In fact, it is the only way it can be done because dictates from Washington would inherently be a case of imposing design: They have no idea what each individual community needs.

    –I am thinking here of political engagement in support of the environment generally, and of most of the social and technological strategies for mitigation that we’ve discussed at one time or another.

    Some energy on some points could be useful in the same way wind and solar can serve as bridges, but you have to be asking for things that matter. Carbon credits are a waste of time. 20/80 rule.

  44. 144
    Killian says:

    Thomas,

    Your recent rebuke was in some degree earned. Yes, too many words. And, as I have said before, too cryptic at times. The internet has made us impatient and given us short attention spans.

    I am, however, hopeful in that all quarters seem to have pulled back a bit. I suspect not only I had posts go missing prior to the post from Gavin. There seems to have been an effort to reboot the system, so to speak.

    That does not mean you do not have value here. Do return. Do ignore the slings and arrows, as you suggested I do.

    At the very least, return long enough for us to exchange contact info.

  45. 145
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @138 says “Killian: Your approach is essentially circular. The only reason to have 12 billion humans is so that it will be necessary to employ your “simplicity” solution.”

    I thought this a little as well, and its possibly true about Killian to an extent, and I mean that respectfully and not in any way dismissing the essence of this ideas.

    But I could equally argue the only reason Zebra strongly promotes small population, is to avoid the difficult question of “simplification”! Again this doesnt make all his thinking wrong as such.

    Do you people not see this in yourselves?

    I think the following is the fuller situation humanity faces. In summary to resolve climate and environmental challenges we need both simplification, smaller population, and renewable energy, and its purely a question of timing and how much of each:

    Smaller population is the obvious key answer “in theory” (note this carefully) to climate and resource limits problems. It’s without doubt the starting point to consider because humans are causing the environmental problem.

    A small enough population would be capable of massively reducing fossil fuel use (only in theory note), and would guarantee a long life on this planet and with a reasonably decent level of technology. This declarative statement is so obviously true, it doesn’t need some sort of proof on this page.

    However because we will eventually run out of various materials even with a small population, its impossible to guarantee that even a small population and even a rather basic technological society could last literally forever. To me there’s nothing we can do about this, short of colonising other planets.

    Colonising planets or mining asteroids means its “essential” to maintain a pretty decent level of technology. This cant just be a little factory out the back, it will require a careful thought about integrating a sensible level of technology through society as a whole that is at a high level but which minimises waste and over consumption, and this is the critical thing that has to change.

    Now the “critical problem” with small population theory is the timing. Studies on projections in population articles suggest at best a moderate chance that population will fall slowly in total size after the year 2100. We can probably nudge this (to use Zebras expression) down a bit faster, but I posit this will not be easy in democratic societies, and so its still likely to be more than a century before we see a significant drop is population size.

    Therefore given resource limit issues, we cannot escape some level of simplification as well in the meantime, in the form of reduced consumption and reduced rates of economic growth. This is why I suggest a 25% cut to consumption phased in gradually as a number that would be useful, and also has some chance of being actually implemented widely with enough education. Steeper cuts don’t look plausible, but are always an option and we could build up to these if required. The main point is to start with a smaller number and incrementally increase it over time, learning as we go

    And so this all implies that given the pressing climate change issue and Paris targets set at 2050, smaller population and reduced consumption will have very limited impact, so we are mainly going to be reliant on renewable energy and carbon taxes and so on in the shorter term over the next 20 – 30 years or so. Smaller population and simplification tend to mainly be answers to the longer term resource issue problem.

    I acknowledge this does repeat a couple of earlier points, but it summarises the dilemma in the context of the relationship of the factors. It also addresses the realities of what is an ideal response, but more importantly it summarises what is the most “plausible and likely response” given the realities of human thinking, behaviour and goals.

  46. 146
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @119

    Zebra asks what is “The minimum human population that will allow for genetic diversity.”

    Looks like its possibly somewhere around 500. The studies below are for animal species in general, but its hard to see why humans would be radically different.

    https://ask.metafilter.com/146045/Minimum-species-population-to-ensure-adequate-genetic-diversity

    https://www.britannica.com/science/minimum-viable-population

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3399204/

    https://biology.stackexchange.com/questions/5524/how-many-people-are-required-to-maintain-genetic-diversity

  47. 147
    Killian says:

    #138 zebra said @Killian #128, also Kevin M #125,

    My suggestion is based on my definition of “sustainability”, which I’ve given several times, as maximizing the length of time the human species can exist.

    That does not define sustainability. If an asteroid is coming in ten years, your definition would equate to building a successful deflector, e.g.

    I’ve illustrated the reasoning in a couple of previous responses; a technological civilization is more likely to deal with external existential threats. It could establish off-planet habitations, it could practice genetic modification of organisms and even humans, and so on.

    None of that requires a tech civ, merely R&D. I have described this as Hobbiton with a hi-tech backbone. If we do not live simply, the likelihood of surviving long enough to visit the stars, so to speak, is greatly reduced. Watch ocean changes closely…. If we do live simply, we preserve the resources we might need to do those things, resources we may not realize now are vital for success of future events. I have made this point many times before. Also, by preserving resources via simplicity, we make it more viable to maintain those few things that actually do require hi-tech: Medicine, rapid transport, and communications.

    It is fairly obvious that the saner approach is the most careful, and that is simplicity. What you want can be had with my proposals. The opposite is very unlikely to be true. Thus, the objections are not over the practical issues, but personal tastes: People simply do not want to live… simply.

    Killian: Your approach is essentially circular. The only reason to have 12 billion humans is so that it will be necessary to employ your “simplicity” solution.

    I’ve asked others and never gotten an answer; perhaps you could try: Why is having more humans than my minimum a desirable goal?

    This is a Straw Man which we have covered many times before. Repeating a Straw Man moves from simple dishonest rhetoric to the realm of lying. Please stop doing this. I will say this one more time: Noting that we *can* feed 12 billion in no way serves as advocacy *for* 12 billion. All it means is, less climate/weather impacts, our food supply is not the short-term Liebig Minimum. If, however, we do not adapt to regenerative food production, it likely will be as we see more instances of multiple food baskets wiped out concurrently by extreme weather. But soil with 15% carbon holds a huge amount of water compared to the current levels of closer to an average of 1 or 2%, thus mitigating most extreme events. The single best thing we can do in the short term is regenerative food production.

  48. 148
    Killian says:

    #134 nigelj said Killian @129
    I defined light weight simplification as a 25% cut to consumption phased in over 20 years… The number is not “pulled out of my backside” as you described it. Its a number the majority of people in western countries could likely deal with without major reductions in quality of life as I already explained…

    A supposition is not support for a claim. You have yet to effectively defend this. I repeat, a 25% contraction of a Capitalist system equals a Great Depression. Yet, you offer no hysteresis, no alternative, just keep Capitalism, but but trigger a Great Depression. You are contradicting your own positions.

    Your own suggestion of 90% energy cuts (and technology cuts?) is much more likely to cause large reductions in quality of life, given basic human needs for energy

    Says who? Why? What basic needs? You seem to ignore that I am suggesting system change, not just reductions. I am talking about creation of autonomous neighborhoods/towns, autonomous cities, autonomous bio-regions that act as an intricate web of planning, management and governance. From oligarchy to actual democracy is a bad? Local, healthy food is a bad? Local energy vs. utility energy is a bad? Your problem is you look at what I say as if it would exist in the world you prefer. You don’t seem to be able to place yourself in a regenerative world and imagine how it would function.

    And it is not clear on what basis you derived your own number.

    This is absolutely false. I have posted multiple supports for this number both in terms of means of calculating it and others who have come to the same conclusion.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2017/12/unforced-variations-dec-2017/comment-page-8/#comment-688639

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2017/12/unforced-variations-dec-2017/comment-page-8/#comment-688640

    Stop repeating this. Repetition of a false claim after correction becomes lying. Stop this.

    A 25% reduction in energy demand obviously helps reduce CO2 emissions, all other things being equal. It’s self evident and doesn’t need explaining.
    It will reduce fossil fuel emissions about 25%

    FF emissions are still growing, so… And all depends how they are met. What are you changing to get to this goal? Seems like pretty much nothing. So you think more “renewables” will automatically lead to an equivalent drop in FF use… even though population will be 8 billion or more over that time, FFs are still growing, and no meaningful lifestyle changes…? No?

    A 25% reduction over 20 years could probably be accomodated without causing an economic crash provided its phased in incrementally over the period which is likely anyway.

    A billion more people on 25% less emissions, and no crash… just because? I’m really tired of just because being your primary argument. At least provide logical reasoning.

    The 90% reduction you suggest would be far more likely to cause a crash. You have not proposed whether this is an initial number, and I assume it would be phased in, but you dont say.

    This is false. Again. It is false every time you build this Straw Man. Stop it. For chrissakes, stop the dishonesty. How do you not understand a simple declarative statement to mean what it means? Note your own “25% over 25 years.” Why did you modify with a clause? Why don’t I? And, I *have* stated this point over and over and over… though it is absolutely not necessary. If one understands basic English and context.

    However the sheer size of the number could be destabilising.

    How is a completely new system not destabilizing to the old system? That is not the issue. The issue is transitioning wisely. You will never get it until you erase the slate and analyze from there. You are always trying to rationalize my statements against what you know and prefer. You are preventing yourself from understanding. Tabla Rasa, First Principles. Until you step over that line, you will not be able to fully understand what I am saying.

    This could all be mitigated against if a transition from one system to the other was ordered and controlled by government, but this is unlikely to happen. Change will more likely come in a voluntary way,as people leave the current system in numbers, – and potentially destabilising the existing system.

    Thank you for co-opting my words and saying them back to me. You can at least acknowledge that you are doing so. Potentially? No. It will destabilize the system. Thus first steps are food, water, shelter.

    Since you treat the reseach papers I quote with contempt

    Another false statement.

  49. 149
    Killian says:

    This is a great post that summarizes the conditions we find ourselves in, but 4 years ago went straight to the Bore Hole, but today is appropriate for Force Responses:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/the-bore-hole/comment-page-31/#comment-601387

    A snip:

    What have we done?
    ► 90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.
    ► 50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.
    ► 50% of Fresh Water Fish gone since 1987.
    ► 30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.
    ► 28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.
    ► 28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.
    ► 50% of Human Sperm Counts gone since 1950.
    ► 90% of Lions gone since 1993.
    ► 90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.
    ► 93 Elephants killed every single day.
    ► 2-3 Rhinos killed every single day.
    ► Bees die from malnutrition lacking bio-diverse pollen sources.
    ► Extinctions are 1000 times faster than normal.
    .
    What’s going to happen to us?
    ► Ocean acidification doubles by 2050.
    ► Ocean acidification triples by 2100.

  50. 150
    Mr. Know It All says:

    The population of the world hit 3 billion in 1960. I’d say that 3 billion is certainly enough to have genetic diversity, and to produce great achievements in science, art, music, etc. It didn’t seem to me back then that we needed to have 2 or 3 times as many people. Looking back, I’d say we were better off then from a population standpoint. Yet, today European leaders claim they need more people so they’ve encouraged the immigrant invasion. Many in the USA make the same argument. I think such arguments are wrong.

    Today our lives depend on FFs – eventually no matter what happens with AGW we’ll have shortages of FFs – it’s just a matter of time. Perhaps AGW will result in fewer of us being here just about the time the FFs get more scarce. Maybe that’s not all bad, eh? OR perhaps, those in lower latitudes will have to move north to escape the heat? If so, it might be convenient that huge land masses exist in Canada and Russia. Or, perhaps we’ll come up with electric farming equipment, vehicles, etc powered by something other than FFs to avoid these problems – perhaps solar, fusion, fission, etc.

    Once I was made fun of because one of my comments went to the bore hole. That’s far better than the fate of a comment I see above.
    :)