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Forced responses: May 2019

Filed under: — group @ 2 May 2019

A bimonthly open thread on climate solutions and policies. If you want to discuss climate science, please use the Unforced Variations thread instead.

360 Responses to “Forced responses: May 2019”

  1. 251
    nigelj says:

    Scott Strough @247

    I did not google that “Grazed and Confused” study and I wasn’t out looking for ammunition. I came across it by chance somewhere, and posted it to see what people say. Neither did I say that I accepted all its findings! It was just to spark discussion.

    Regenerative farming and proper rotational grazing to conserve soils and enhance carbon sequestration all looks fine to me. I’ve said this before. I’m just interested in getting a good understanding on what it can realistically achieve quantitatively, and if you start personally attacking me for that, then you aren’t helping your case. I have a few quick reactions to your statements:

    “But this study that first Nigel and now you seem to be defending is based on a lie first developed for the industrialized meat industry to protect themselves against losing market share to grassfed beef. That being the whole idea that cows emit methane and methane causes AGW. This is similar to CO2. As part of a natural ecosystem, pastured cows actually reduce net atmospheric methane. It’s only when they are removed from the land to be fattened in feedlots that their emissions change from a net sink to a net source.”

    I don’t think the study said that as such. It seemed to me to just lay out various scenarios without proposing a grand plan as such, but I confess I haven’t read every word.

    You think its funded by the corn biofuels and anti meat lobby and expect us to just put two and two together, but nobody is going to buy that sort of presumptive thinking that could be dead wrong. You need proof.

    Its well acknowledged that all other things being equal cows grazing on open grasslands with some sensible grazing pattern emit methane , and its normally absorbed ultimately by soil sinks, so is carbon neutral.

    The problem appears to be that 1) we aren’t using good grazing patterns and 2) the numbers of cows has increased beyond the ability of grasslands to absorb emissions especially when they are squeezed into relatively limited areas and 3) methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Some put the argument that this potency is sufficient reason to cut numbers of cows so we move from carbon neutrality to actually reducing atmospheric carbon. Obviously with no cows the problem is solved, but this seems unrealistic to me because people aren’t going to all stop eating meat anytime soon.

    I think the answer is definitely better rotational grazing that encourages better soil carbon growth, but I probably have more realistic expectations than you of what it can achieve. I have to be true to what the evidence says to me.

    You also put this suggestion we just have cows rotationally grazed on large open grasslands but nobody actually eats them! Who on earth would be prepared to do something like this that doesn’t make any money? It seems a bit unrealistic to me.

    “In this case though since properly managed cows on a well managed grassland ecosystem actually force global cooling instead of global warming, this dogmatic attack on cows misses the true target by blaming cows rather than the humans currently abusing them in the factory farming system.”

    It’s hard for me to see how cows can actually cause global cooling because at best they are carbon neutral. You would need to demonstrate a formidable level of ability to draw down carbon, and that seems to ask a lot of some new form of rotational grazing. If you can point me to a peer reviewed field trial that would be helpful. Not saying its impossible but big claims like this need a good level of proof.

  2. 252
    Al Bundy says:

    NigelJ: No I referred to taxes not royalties (you are right about royalties). Saudi Arabias state owned oil company have to pay huge taxes to the government and this comes out of their profits. Its to fund Saudi Arabia’s considerable public services, and it won’t be easy for them to reduce those services so it wont be easy for them to lower the price of oil too far.

    AB: I don’t see the difference between taxes and royalties. Both extract some of the profit so both combined must be less than the total profit. Whether the government sets up one or the other isn’t relevant.

    And whether the current family-owned “business” continues to run Saudi Arabia or not is irrelevant, too. So, your scenario happens: renewables force oil prices down low enough that the klepto-family can’t maintain both its ostentation and its peasants and things go south. After everything settles down do you really believe that everybody in and concerned with Saudi Arabia will just lay down and die in the desert’s lethal heat? I’m guessing they’ll sell oil for $20/barrel in order to survive (if the peasants win) or in order to slow their loss of wealth (if the kleptofamily wins and the peasants are exterminated).

    The only things that matter are that cheap oil and CH4 exist, areas of the planet, including the Mideast, Nigeria, and Venezuela, are going to be toasted, Russia’s climate will improve (or so they believe), and capitalists have oil and CH4 reserves and infrastructure on the books, which means that they would have to write off an incredible amount of wealth if they stop pumping. And given that tackling the problem won’t help until the decision-makers are either dead or in an old-folks home what sort of incentive do they have? Make their life worse and make their grandchildren less supreme vs something that adaptation via wealth, AI, and robots will handle?? Why? “Other wealthy folks will take that route so if I do the ‘right’ thing my grandkids will be left behind and die with the masses.”

    Besides, dropping human populations by 95% or so is the surest path to a wonderful future. I’m betting that some of those Superior Folks are working on ways to help the transition from peasants to robots.

    Your error is that you think you are included in “we”.

  3. 253
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @251 yes Saudi Arabia could go that way, but the thing is Saudi Arabia is really dependent on a decent oil price. Once they drop that price too much they will struggle to fund everything else and there will be unrest, which will force them to diversify away from oil exports.They are already trying to diversify like crazy, they see whats coming. I think things will all change before you end up with your scenario, I hope so anyway.

    But you are right in that people wont give up their wealth and position without a fight and will sell their grandmothers to do this! In this case its oil. So I suggest we are very reliant on a political solution in the west that promotes renewable energy, so effectively reduces demand for Saudi oil. It all comes backs to this. In turn this relies on the public doing the right thing personally and also demanding more from their politicians.

    In a way it all comes back to people developing a better morality regarding the harm climate change does to other people, not just themselves. Morality, the thing Zebra hates because its hard to change and define, but there may be no escaping it. The population’s moral values only has to shift a certain amount, not much may be needed to make a difference. The Overton window only has to shift a bit, we don’t need perfection and will never get that. Public attitudes over the climate issue might reach their own tipping point.

  4. 254
    Nemesis says:

    Btw, does everyone see the dire writing on the wall now?

    If effective climate mitigation won’t happen lightning fast, then the looming conflict between young and old (#fridaysforfuture ect) will rip society apart, society will simply implode.

    My guess after watching the show for roughly 35 years:

    Climate mitigation will not happen lighning fast and the social consequences will be ugly, very ugly.

  5. 255
    zebra says:

    #252 Al Bundy,

    Lots of very correct observations, in particular that 95% number. But you and others are, in various comments, still using vague language and rhetorical emotive language… ranting about “capitalism” and “finance” and such in a way that is little different from Republicans using “socialist” as an all-purpose pejorative.

    I’ve defined what I mean by capitalism. Everything you just (correctly) described isn’t capitalism, it’s “ownership”. You “own” oil deposits if you have the military capacity to prevent anyone else from extracting them. That could be governments, or the governments could assign various levels of control in extracting them, as with colonial powers and the Saudis.

    But oil is not money (capital). Someone can accumulate money by playing the violin on the sidewalk, or in a concert hall. Is that person an “evil capitalist”, however much she accumulates, when she lends you the money to build your prototype 67% efficient engine?

    Everything you say about Saudi and Russia is true… and in particular, if the peasants rose up and instituted a wonderful semi-egalitarian social democracy, like Norway for example, they would still extract the oil, just like Norway does.

    So, ranting about “the system” and “inequality” and how unfair it all is counterproductive, if the goal is to deal with climate change. Money represents a token for labor. If someone gets you to give them money in order to access a resource, that is not a free market transaction, it is rent-seeking.

    The transaction that occurs between you the inventor and the violinist is capitalism, and it is facilitated (at some transaction cost) by the banker. None of that is inherently “evil”, nor does it produce externalities like CO2. In fact, if your design works, perhaps others benefit.

  6. 256
    Killian says:

    Stop the denial, stop the bullshit, “People won’t!”

    Then die.

    Choose.

    Tired of the stupidity, ignorance, idoelogy, willful blindness, lies, Straw Men, Pipe Dreams, technocopian crap.

    Get with Nature or get gone. There’s only one choice.

    https://brightvibes.com/1322/en/this-couple-transformed-totally-depleted-land-into-a-regenerative-farm-in-8-years

    This is no hippy couple, no wide-eyed dreamers or Ivory Tower theoreticians. Just people, healing, reconnecting.

    People will.

  7. 257
    Killian says:

    A single person can change everything, one step at a time.

    https://bealtainecottage.com/

    Before and after: https://bealtainecottage.com/before-permaculture/

  8. 258
    Mr. Know It All says:

    246 – Al Bundy:
    “If you had a button that wouldn’t kill anybody, wouldn’t harm anybody, but would swap our future to one where the USA disappeared today, would you press that button?”

    That button exists. It is in the election booth. You can make the USA disappear every election by voting for the anti-USA D party. Their stated goal is to destroy the USA and the US Constitution, and replace them with a socialist nation governed by the NWO or the UN, etc. For much of the past 50-60 years Ds have dominated the political landscape, constantly chipping away at what was once a great nation. They totally dominate all of the large urban areas and every one of them is an abject failure in many ways. Because of this long history of D failure, WE THE PEOPLE are finally waking up and rejecting their failed policies – THAT is why we elected Mr. T – best president in my nearly 7 decades on the planet. The pendulum swings back and forth. Like the earth’s climate, the political climate is always changing. ;)

    Full disclosure, I, like you, was one of the deluded who used to vote D in my younger days, but like many people, you grow up, learn, mature, become more wise, and switch to R. It’s a natural process same as weather and climate. ;)

  9. 259
    alan2102 says:

    #247 Scott E Strough 18 Jun 2019 at 2:25 AM

    Scott, your points are generally well-taken, e.g. “there is a huge difference depending how the animals are raised”. Yes, of course. However, I wonder about this: “we can sum it up as no animals bad. small number of animals raised extensively is better. And large numbers of animals but carefully and intensively managed by far the best.”

    Large numbers? As in the gigantic numbers required to feed Americans their ~200 POUNDS (not grams, not ounces, POUNDS!) of meat annually?

    I would like to know what you mean by “large”. I find it hard to believe that American-style meat-eating could possibly be supported in an environmentally-sound way. And what I just said is in no way inconsistent with the idea that “there is a huge difference depending on how the animals are raised”. The question is, how many can be raised in benign fashion? How much pasturing land exists, and what volume of meat consumption per capita would it support?

  10. 260
    Al Bundy says:

    ” Last month, White Oak Pastures and General Mills (which buys the company’s meat for its EPIC provisions brand) released the results of a life-cycle assessment (LCA)—a critical review of the environmental impacts of the various stages in the life of a product—of the beef operation. The study, which was conducted by the global environmental consulting firm Quantis (but has yet to be peer-reviewed), determined that the beef operation produces net total emissions of -3.5 kilograms of carbon for every kilogram of beef produced, essentially reinforcing Harris’ belief that his farm serves as a carbon sink.

    By comparison, Quantis reports, conventional beef produces 33 kilograms of carbon for every kilogram of beef, conventional pork produces 9 kilograms of carbon for every kilogram of food, conventional chicken produces 6 kilograms of carbon for every kilogram of food, and conventional soybeans produce 2 kilograms of carbon for every kilogram of food.”

    https://civileats.com/2019/06/19/impossible-foods-and-regenerative-grazers-face-off-in-a-carbon-farming-dust-up/

    So Quantis says White Oak Pastures sequesters almost a pound of carbon for each quarter pound burger you eat. I’m thinking that would go up if ya use a composting toilet.

  11. 261
  12. 262
    Scott E Strough says:

    @259 Alan,
    You asked, “The question is, how many can be raised in benign fashion? How much pasturing land exists, and what volume of meat consumption per capita would it support?

    Very good questions. In general compared to a typical (80% overgrazed) set stocked pasture as found in the industrialized system right now today, approximately 4x to 5x more animals on multi species holistic grazed pasture.

    The seems counter intuitive, but actually over grazing is cause by temporal factors, not numerical factors. In other words, over grazed pasture support far fewer animals than properly managed HPG pasture. Maybe counter intuitive at first glance but consider this: Overgrazed pasture suffers from bare patches and erosion. Overgrazed pasture suffers from compaction. Overgrazed pasture for this reason holds less water, which reduces plant growth potential. Less plant growth means less food for cows. So you have skinny cows. Skinny cows bring big bucks at the auction because they will produce higher profits for the feedlots who get paid by the pound for weight gain.

    If instead you move the cattle off the paddock and let the grass grow, it will experience a “blaze of growth” phase just before going to seed. Then put the animals on that pasture and there is many times more forage to eat….but then move them right back off in a day and the grass still has time for another “blaze of growth” phase. This growth rate can be graphed as a sigmoid curve. Charts can be found here: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1097378.pdf

    However, you are correct about one thing, we would need to convert the fields producing corn and soil for biofuels and animal feeds back to pasture. However, it would vastly increase total yields through the roof and actually allow the export to poorer countries and bring their standard of living up too. Not only that, but it is considered a value added commodity over corn and soy, so the profitability is also much higher.

    Instead of ruining our soil to produce corn and soy to be shipped to China to supply their own feedlots, a losing proposition all around, we could instead improve yields, profits, trade balance, environment, and reduce global warming by instead exporting beef and other animal foods that were raised holistically. Win win win for everybody. This is the real meaning behind Savory’s quote:

    “The number one public enemy is the cow. But the number one tool that can save mankind is the cow. We need every cow we can get back out on the range. It is almost criminal to have them in feedlots which are inhumane, antisocial, and environmentally and economically unsound.” Allan Savory

    The only real reason for the feedlots is to use up the corn and soy glut and prevent those corn and soy fields from going back to pasture. And we spend in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars annually in subsidies to prop up the ridiculous model. It absolutely does not produce more food. In fact as a system it is astonishingly inefficient both in yields of food and economically. That’s the primary reason for the economic gutting of the heartland of the US.

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt20fw8h8

    We can still fix this though. But it requires systemic changes. Mainly we need to rethink the hundreds of billions spent annually to prop up a failing system that is both environmentally and economically unsound, and literally produces less food per acre than even most subsistence farming methods.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/time-to-rethink-corn/

    It’s not the corn and soy. We actually produce far more corn and soy than every person on the planet could possibly ever eat. It’s the wasteful uses that corn is used for BECAUSE we have too much.

  13. 263

    See above the typo millions which should read, hundreds of billions annually.

  14. 264
    nigelj says:

    Killian says “Stop the denial, stop the bullshit, “People won’t!”

    Nobody I know on this website has said regenerative farms like those in the photos in your link are a bad thing or people “wont”. We have similar farms near where I live, and they are great. So your comment sounds like a strawman. I notice that all those farms use plenty of modern technology, by the way.

  15. 265

    KIA, #258–

    “[Democrats’] stated goal is to destroy the USA and the US Constitution, and replace them with a socialist nation governed by the NWO or the UN, etc.”

    Another flatly untrue assertion to add to a long list.

    And pretty ironic, too, given Mr. KIA’s idolatry of the present occupant of the White House–a man whose naked contempt for Constitutional norms only begins with his wilful ignorance of them, and deepens through his obvious worship of force and tyranny as embodied in various dictator ‘pals’.

  16. 266
    zebra says:

    #269 alan2102,

    Good question. Read Al’s 260. Then, go to the website for White Oak Pastures and look at the products and prices. Then, go to the website for Epic provisions, which is a subsidiary of Evil-Capitalist-Corporation General Mills, and look at the products and prices.

    Who do you think buys that stuff? The 99% that everyone here claims to be so concerned about? Do you think they sell it in food-desert convenience stores and bodegas?

    So, the answer to your question is that no, you can’t provide 200 lbs of meat a year to all the people who are currently eating that much, or to the people in the world who would like to. Please, China had a long history of getting the most they could out of the land with labor and regenerative practices, and they suffered hunger and famines until modern (capital-enabled) science and technology allowed them to reach a… you know, tipping point… in food production.

    Whether eating that much meat is a good idea is another question.

  17. 267
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mr. KIA@258
    Well, I hope that Faux News Kool-Aid was at least sweet and tasty! Funny how the Trumpistas keep throwing around that word “treason” when it’s Darth Cheeto who has been busy cozying up to dictators, soliciting foreign interference in our elections, weakening our alliances, blowing huge holes in the country’s finances, undermining the nation’s law enforcement and intelligence professionals…

    You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  18. 268
    Al Bundy says:

    Nemesis: I, as a superfit vegan, never get ill, even my last cold was ~10 years ago, hehe.

    AB: Not having kids helps, too. :-)
    ______________

    Zebra: Is that person an “evil capitalist”, however much she accumulates, when she lends you the money to build your prototype 67% efficient engine?

    AB: Good points. “Lends”? Then no. I’m probably going to operate with donations and/or loans, as opposed to investment (when there’s no profit expected “ownership”, as you say, doesn’t work). As I speak, interest on loans is a metric for labor. Investment return (rent seeking) is not. So yes, I added my very own word, “laborism” to the language and I’m going to continue to use it. Please don’t overwrite my words and I won’t overwrite yours. You know what I mean when I say “capitalism”. “Capitalism” = rent seeking. I know what you mean when you say “ownership”. “Ownership” = rent seeking. So I’ll substitute “Laborism” for your “Capitalism” when appropriate and “Capitalism” whenever you say “rent seeking”.

    Words are important and using the words of GOPpers is a sure way to fry the planet. Look at what “collusion” did. How about “Criminal”, which is held up by regular Joes as justification for torturing innocent children? I was just listening to NPR and several callers essentially wrote them off, “They’re the children of Criminals and so deserve whatever happens without limit”. This, even though the parents are not criminals. They are exercising their rights, guaranteed by international law, to seek asylum.

    __________

    Scott Strough,

    Actually, it is intuitive. Which takes more energy, growing grass to feed cows (one conversion) or growing grass to go to seed and then feed the seed to cows (two conversions plus transportation, etc)? As you said, get the cows on the grass (corn is grass) before it goes to seed.
    ______

    Everyone,

    I heard back from the engine’s peer reviewer. I solved the issues he raised and now have to write up version 8. Everything’s on track, including the improved contra-rotating propeller system.

  19. 269
    patrick027 says:

    re 258 Mr. Know It All – “THAT is why we elected Mr. T”

    I pity the fool. :)

  20. 270
    Nemesis says:

    @zebra, #255

    ” But oil is not money (capital). Someone can accumulate money by playing the violin on the sidewalk, or in a concert hall. Is that person an “evil capitalist”, however much she accumulates, when she lends you the money to build your prototype 67% efficient engine?”

    Oooh, this is one of the most beautiful paintings on capitalism I’ve seen so far. So beautiful, innocent violinists making innocent music. You know, this reminds me of the Titanic once again, beautiful music had been played on the Titanic right until the very end:

    ” Titanic (1997) – Nearer My God To Thee Propior Deo Version”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wwtbQXTugo

    Do you feel nearer to god already? I don’t, I never felt close to god at any time as I’m more into other shit you know 38=>

    Anyway, you did such a wonderful painting on capitalism, I love it.

  21. 271
    Nemesis says:

    Addendum to my recent comment about the music playing on the sinking Titanic:

    You really shouldn’t miss that neat little excerpt of the movie “Titanic” as it’s the PERFECT metaphor for the sinking of capitalism and the world as we know it:

    A beautiful violin playing “Nearer My God To Thee Propior Deo” while the supposedly unsinkable ship is sinking and one passenger after another is beautifully floating to the boneyard down there, deep, deep down on the bottom of the ocean.

    Look at all our discussions, all political blather, all capitalist blather- it is just some noise, some ghostly, spooky music on the way to the boneyard.

    Zebra, thanks again for your beautiful, inspirational comment about the capitalist violin playing while the ship is sinking.

  22. 272
    Nemesis says:

    Uhm, not so surprising news:

    ” 20.6.2019 – EU-Gipfel ohne Festlegung auf Klimaziel 2050

    Beim EU-Gipfel ist die verbindliche Festlegung auf ein neues Klimaziel bis 2050 gescheitert. Das Datum für den Umbau zur „klimaneutralen“ Wirtschaft wurde nach stundenlangen Verhandlungen aus der Gipfelerklärung gestrichen und in eine Fußnote verbannt, wie zwei Diplomaten heute bestätigten.

    Konsens gab es hingegen bei den Wirtschaftssanktionen der EU gegen Russland. Sie werden wegen des anhaltenden Ukraine-Konflikts abermals verlängert.”

    https://orf.at/stories/3127520/

    Sorry guys, no EU climate mitigation 2050. The EU is ultimately following the US, Australia, Russia ect ect now.

    Oh please, dear zebra (btw, I really like your nickname^^), gimme some more of that sweet capitalist violin music, I just can’t get enough of it…

    “Titanic (1997) – Nearer My God To Thee Propior Deo Version”
    https://youtu.be/8wwtbQXTugo

  23. 273
    nigelj says:

    Scott E Strough @262, ok your link on corn production was really good. Clearly the corn production system in the USA doesn’t make a lot of sense. Interesting that Donald Trump firmly backs the use of corn in ethanol production and subsidies for all this, while being in denial about climate change. Only a crony capitalist like Trump could hold to these contradictory positions.

    But you appear to be saying we can squeeze even more cows onto the same area of land and get better results just with rotational grazing? But how can this be? Wouldn’t farmers do this already if it made economic sense? Or are you saying corn is so cheap its cheaper than rotationally grazing them?

  24. 274
    nigelj says:

    MR KIA @258 it looks to me like the blue states and blue cities do rather well for example they mostly have the highest incomes, they are centres of your manufacturing and services sector, centres of innovation and science, welcoming to immigrants, socially tolerant, at least they acknowledge the climate problem. I think you need to move house!

    And wanting better gun control is not tearing up the constitution. NZ has just banned all semi automatics after the ChCh shooting. Took one week to pass the basic legislation and it has support of both left and right. Nothing like a tragedy to focus the minds, and do the obvious commonsense thing, but we don’t have a constitution with simplistic and rigid gun rights.

  25. 275
  26. 276
    alan2102 says:

    Zebra is upset about something, but damn if I can figure out what it is. I had sworn-off trying to interact with the guy, partly for this reason (incoherence, impossible to tell what he is saying), but here I am again for another go…

    #266 zebra 20 Jun 2019 at 8:22 AM

    “Read Al’s 260. Then, go to the website for White Oak Pastures and look at the products and prices. Then, go to the website for Epic provisions… look at the products and prices.”

    OK, I did. They sell mostly meat-based food bars at a few bucks per. Your point? Was there something you were trying to say?

    “Who do you think buys that stuff?”

    I don’t know. What is your point?

    “The 99% that everyone here claims to be so concerned about?”

    Maybe. I don’t know. And what diff does it make if they are in the 99% or not? What is your point? Is “everyone here” supposed to NOT be concerned about the 99% (i.e. almost all of humanity)? If so, why?

    Impossible to say WTF you are talking about, and what you’re upset about.

  27. 277

    @273 Nigel,
    You read the Scientific American link and proclaim it is really good, but then ask, “But how can this be? Wouldn’t farmers do this already if it made economic sense?”?

    Seriously?

    Do you have any idea how much a hundred billion dollars is? It’s in the article how the government subsidizes and mandates through regulations. In fact it was understated actually. It’s literally a ridiculously huge governmental carrot and stick forcing farmers into a no win situation! True they glossed over how tough it is to go against this preferred agricultural system the USDA designed, but my other link to “Broken Heartland: The Rise of America’s Rural Ghetto” explains that a bit better.

    I could write a book trying to explain the many ways 100 billions of dollars in carrots and the full weight and power of the US government executive branch was used as a stick to force farmers into a system that was designed to eliminate them as a community and replace them with a production model designed to favor a corporate industrial Ag system, but instead, just go read the book. I literally linked it to you!

    Or if that is a bit too serious for you, then maybe some books a bit shorter, anecdotal, and pithy that spell it out for laymen can be found here:

    Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front
    By: Joel Salatin

    The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
    By: Michael Pollan

  28. 278
  29. 279

    KIA 258: D party. Their stated goal is to destroy the USA and the US Constitution, and replace them with a socialist nation governed by the NWO or the UN,

    BPL: “Stated?” I’ve been a Democrat many decades now and I’ve never seen that document or heard that speech. Stay off the sauce when you’re posting.

  30. 280
    zebra says:

    #268 Al Bundy,

    I’ll get back to the other stuff, but here’s a fun question that I’ve puzzled over myself:

    If you own a patent (or copyright), and you charge someone to use the design, or sue them if they use it without paying, isn’t that also rent-seeking?

  31. 281
    alan2102 says:

    zebra:
    “China had a long history of getting the most they could out of the land with labor and regenerative practices, and they suffered hunger and famines until modern (capital-enabled) science and technology allowed them to reach a… you know, tipping point… in food production.”

    You’re warm, but no cigar. Mao’s low-tech agrarian socialism, which skipped the capitalism phase altogether, was partially successful (one famine over all the Mao years). Later, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Deng decided to NOT skip the capitalism phase, and instead use a limited capitalism to develop the productive forces.

    If the CCP had not taken over, China would have continued to have horrific famines every year for decades longer, just as they had an average of one famine yearly for *2000 years* before the revolution. They have not had a single famine in nearly 60 years now, and only 1 since the revolution (1959-1960, and that one due mostly to bad weather). Capital did play a role, but only a tiny one during the Mao era; same with science and technology, quite primitive for most of that time, with the exception of irrigation.

    Capitalism, and the use of concentrated capital, is not bad. It is a necessary or at least very useful stage of civilizational development, greatly increasing human productive forces. It was a huge step up from feudalism. But it has reached and passed its sell-by date in most of the world, and in its unrestricted forms it has become bad. China is using it in a strictly-controlled way, in a socialistic context, and that is working quite well, albeit with flaws. But even the Chinese will have to get rid of it sooner or later, and if you follow the statements coming from Xi and the CCP, it is evident that they are well aware of this; they know that capitalism, however useful temporarily, is ultimately inconsistent with planetary health and survival, and they have not forgotten their socialistic convictions and destiny. It is just that they’ve had other priorities the last few decades, and they have a certain developmental vision that called for limited compromise of socialistic principles for a brief time (3/4s of a century or so) in order to rapidly increase productive capacity and establish the material base for a modern/post-modern socialism — ETA late in this century. In a way their performance has been brilliant: using capitalism to great effect, e.g. lifting several hundred million out of poverty in just a few decades, but keeping it tightly muzzled and in control at all times, and ready to jettison when the time is right. Nice plan.

    Capitalism is an extremely potent medicine with great potential for good, but it can easily be overdone or continued too long, and (foolishly) allowed to run unchecked, with disastrous consequences, such as what we’re seeing all around us now.

  32. 282
    Mr. Know It All says:

    We’re nice and cool in the PNW USA. We came close to breaking heat records a few weeks ago. They claimed we did, but clearly the UHI effect skewed the official numbers by several degrees as properly sited thermometers were several degrees lower. In my 30 years here, there were 2 or 3 summers where we had little or no summer due to cloud cover – a benefit of higher H2O levels in the atmosphere? Maybe we’ll get lucky and miss another summer this year.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/06/10/unusual-cool-temperatures-over-the-pacific-northwest-leads-to-strong-winds-and-power-outages-in-california/

    274 – nigelj
    Looks like NZ gun owners aren’t too happy about the knee-jerk response of your weak leaders:
    https://www.npr.org/2019/06/20/734303717/new-zealands-plan-to-buy-back-illegal-firearms-has-angers-gun-advocates

    Can’t recommend a similar response here – it would end in tears. Lot of people here are ready to get-it-on:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtrsk1HmOKU

  33. 283
    Nemesis says:

    @Al Bund, #268

    ” Not having kids helps, too. :-)”

    I didn’t procreate because I didn’t want to see my kids being brainwashed in school and being fried in the climate pan ;)

  34. 284
    patrick027 says:

    re 281
    alan2102 says:
    21 Jun 2019 at 10:47 AM
    zebra:
    “China had a long history of getting the most they could out of the land with labor and regenerative practices, and they suffered hunger and famines until modern (capital-enabled) science and technology allowed them to reach a… you know, tipping point… in food production.”
    You’re warm, but no cigar. Mao’s low-tech agrarian socialism, which skipped the capitalism phase altogether, was partially successful (one famine over all the Mao years). Later, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Deng decided to NOT skip the capitalism phase, and instead use a limited capitalism to develop the productive forces.
    If the CCP had not taken over, China would have continued to have horrific famines every year for decades longer, just as they had an average of one famine yearly for *2000 years* before the revolution. They have not had a single famine in nearly 60 years now, and only 1 since the revolution (1959-1960, and that one due mostly to bad weather).”

    What about the effects of an anti-intellectual pro-natalist (Mao) surrounded by sycophantic yes-men who kept him insulated from reality, ordering the pots be used as fertilizer, seeds be planted without good spacing, and trying to get rid of the birds that were actually acting as a pest-control?

    That was no small famine either (how many millions died? compared to WWII?). My understanding is that some parents exchanged children … because no parent wants to eat their own child.

    Aside from that, I halfway agree with your last paragraph. Capitalism (or market economics) is a very useful tool, but not a God to be worshipped and obeyed. (not sure if we can just lose it over time… I expect letting supply-demand(+taxes-subsidies) set prices would continue to be helpful over the long-term; also, freedom of choice is nice :) ) Although from what I’ve read above (and before – see also “Adam Ruins Everything” – “Adam Ruins a Plate of Nachos”) it sounds like U.S.A.’s agricultural sector could do with a bit more laizzes faire in some ways…

  35. 285
    patrick027 says:

    oops, I didn’t meant to use such a long quote from the other comment… I got frustrated with something and was in a hurry; I was just referring to the famine reference.

  36. 286
    nigelj says:

    zebra @280, patents are indeed rent seeking but they are ‘justified’ rent seeking, because we all know why we have patent law, and it makes sense as long as it doesn’t go on for long periods of time. Numerous other forms of rent seeking are a curse on the economy like some types of subsidies, tariffs, and some monopoly behaviour and excessive occupational licencing. Your trouble is you over simplify things.

  37. 287
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @276

    Zebra is hard to follow at times, but it appears he is claiming regeneratively (similar too organically) grown food costs significantly more than conventional food grown by the allegedly evil but efficient capitalistic industrial complex, so Scott’s dreams have a way to go to be practical as a way of feeding the world.

    It’s true organic food does generally cost more. It’s a bit pointless arguing it doesn’t but in my experience its often not much more, for example organically grown bananas and chicken cost me about 30% more. I sometimes buy organically grown food however I’m a bit haphazard about it. 30% is not too bad. But some organic food costs about 50 – 100% more.

    But if we want food that’s grown sustainably, it might cost a bit more. Looking after the environment is not going to always be free, but it seems to me ultimately we have no option but to look after the environment.

    In addition the world wastes a lot of food. It looks like we could feed the whole world with organically grown food with a bit less waste and the economics would work.

    I’m not endorsing every element of organic food production, or hating on large industrial farms and capitalism. It’s more about the general difference between specific farming techniques and materials used etc.

  38. 288
    nigelj says:

    Mr. Know It All @282, gun owners were obviously never going to love the new gun laws, but a large number do support the ban on semi automatics, however they are not too happy with the buy back scheme as to how much money they get. They get 90% back for new and near new guns, 75% back for older guns, and 25% back for guns in poor condition. Seems fair to me. You cant ever please everybody.

    Australia banned semi automatics. Gun deaths dropped. The sky didn’t fall in. Hunters still go hunting with bolt action guns. Everyone is still entitlted to self defence.

  39. 289
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @281

    I generally like your comments, but you appear to have this fatal attraction for China’s state socialism under Mao! It may have provided enough food most of the time, apart from the great famine, but only just, and industry and human rights were disastrous.

    The problem is collective farms and industry start off well enough, but productivity actually tends to decline eventually because if people dont have an ownership stake they stop caring. People like to control their own destiny. Private farms in China had much higher productivity even in Mao’s day. The soviet Union had all the same problems as you probably know, or should know.

    Now don’t get me wrong, there are things I admire about modern China, and I think Zebras comparison of regenerative (similar to organic) farming in early China and a more capitalistic approach in the last 3 decades is a bit stretched, because early China did not really practice well designed regenerative farming.

    Now I’m no great lover of capitalism, especially laissez faire capitalism, but the problem for me is I can’t see a workable and fundamentally different alternative. I certainly dont buy into state socialism on massive scale. Like Einstein said dont keep doing the same thing and expecting different results! I do favour Scandinavia, where loosely put they combine the best elements of capitalism and the best elements of socialism. There are lots of obvious things we can do to make capitalism work better and more environmentally sustainably.

    There are other theoretical alternatives like smaller scale, sharing, low tech communities and examples of this sort of thing exist, but most still depend a lot on the capitalist system, involve rejecting many things we take for granted, and form a very small part of society. Many also fail over time. I’m not sold on this model either, but it’s more sensible than state socialism because at least its something new and evolving.

  40. 290
    zebra says:

    #275 Sidd,

    The average prices given in those tables are misleading, I think, in terms of evaluating production cost; the difference is probably considerably greater.

    How about:

    Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts:

    White Oak: $17/lb

    At my local market: $2/lb, or, highest premium brand $6/lb.

    But White Oak will sell you a pound of chicken bones for $6.67…

    alan2102 seems to have trouble understanding my simple answer at #266 to his question at #259. No, the typical person couldn’t eat 200lbs of meat a year raised by those methods. It would be a massive distortion of the market.

    The wonderful magic environmental results people like Scott keep citing are simply not reproducible at that scale.

  41. 291

    @287 nigelj,
    “claiming regeneratively (similar too organically) grown food costs significantly more than conventional food”
    “Scott’s dreams have a way to go to be practical as a way of feeding the world.”

    Again you read the Scientific American article about the systemic problem, and even claimed you liked and endorsed it, yet seemingly nothing has clicked for you.

    100s of billions in dollars subsidized the conventional GAP production, and massive regulations to prevent organic from competing at scale. And yet on average organic is still only approx 20% more. Actually in real costs, most regenerative ag costs less to produce. It’s only after these externalities that even though the cost to produce is less, cost to consumer is slightly more.

    But from an economics perspective, there is no reason why regenerative ag shouldn’t be able to benefit from the same economies of scale as the current system. And if that happened, food costs would dramatically drop.

  42. 292
    alan2102 says:

    #284 patrick027 21 Jun 2019: “What about the effects of an anti-intellectual pro-natalist (Mao) surrounded by sycophantic yes-men… [etc.]”

    Mao was a human, full of faults, and he made many mistakes; I did not say otherwise. He also admitted in public to many mistakes. Anti-intellectual? You can expand on that if you like, but it doesn’t match what I know. Pro-natalist? If true, a very unsuccessful one, since fertility dropped off a cliff during his tenure, from over 6 to about 3. We could use more “pro-natalists” like that!

    “That was no small famine either”

    I did not say it was. I said that the CCP has (apparently) ended famine in China, since there hasn’t been one for ~60 years, and before that there was an average of one per year for ~2000 years. That is an astonishing accomplishment, perhaps the greatest single human rights victory of all time. To say that is not to say that Mao did not make mistakes, or that the famine that did occur was minor, or etc. etc. It only says what it says. And Westerners generally freak out when faced with such facts, because fails to comport with the racist Sinophobic narrative that they’ve been fed all their lives.

  43. 293
    alan2102 says:

    #289 nigelj 22 Jun 2019: “alan2102 @281 I generally like your comments, but you appear to have this fatal attraction for Chinas state socialism under Mao! It may have provided enough food most of the time, apart from the great famine, but only just, and industry and human rights were disastrous.”

    Fatal attraction sounds sexy! I like it.

    Industry was disastrous?! Well, I should not be surprised. Westerners’ heads have been stuffed with lies, like that one, for years, and that includes ME! It takes years or even decades to break out of the neoliberal propaganda matrix and unpack the lies, one by one. I know from experience that it IS possible, with diligent effort.

    For you, here’s a start:

    Under Mao, China’s economy grew rapidly, about 10% per year, about as fast as reasonably possible for any large nation.

    For context, herewith are snippets from Maurice Meisner’s illumminating “Significance of the Chinese Revolution in World History”. It is a long article, so I am pasting only a few paragraphs.

    http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/21309/1/Significance_of_the_Chinese_Revolution_in_world_history.pdf

    Asia Research Centre Working Paper 1

    THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHINESE REVOLUTION IN WORLD HISTORY

    Professor Maurice Meisner

    […snip…]

    On the foundations of the initial political and social achievements of the 1949 Revolution, industrialization followed over the next half-century, probably the most impressive modernization process in world history over a sustained period of time. To appreciate the enormous progress that has been made, one must take into account the low starting point from which the process began. In 1952 (when production was restored to the highest pre-war levels, i.e., 1936-37) China’s primitive industrial base was even smaller than that of Belgium’s – a country with a population barely one percent of that of China’s. On a per capita basis, industrial production in China was about 1/90th of what it was in Belgium. From that miserable base, China has emerged as probably the world’s second largest industrial producer — and depending on what measurements one employs, China has the world’s second, third, or fourth largest economy — as measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP).

    The transformation is startling. China, long known as “the sick man of Asia,” backward even by Asian standards, has over the past half-century achieved by far the highest rate of growth of any major economy in the world — and indeed the highest rate of industrial growth of any major economy at a comparable stage of development in world history — industrializing far more rapidly than England in the first half of the 19th century and Meiji Japan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    It should be emphasized that these high rates of growth (which have transformed China from an agrarian into a primarily industrial nation in terms of the value of production and probably in terms of employment as well) did not begin with the market reform era of Deng Xiaoping in 1979. They began with the long Mao era (1949-1976), about which many Western scholars and commentators have grown strangely silent, in accordance the neo-liberalist political orthodoxy of recent years. Nonetheless, it was during the Mao period that the essential foundations of China’s industrial revolution were laid. Without it, the post- Mao reformers would have had little to reform. As the Australian National University economist Y.Y. Kueh has observed, Maoist China’s “sharp rise [30%] in industry’s share in national income is a rare historical phenomenon. For example, during the first four or five decades of their drive to modern industrialization, the industrial share rose by only 11% in Britain (1801-41); and 22% in Japan (1882-1927). In the post-war experience of newly industrializing countries, probably only Taiwan has demonstrated as impressive record as China in this respect.”3

    It is not the case that only the Communist state benefited from Mao-era industrialization, as is often suggested. Even though China’s rapidly rising national income (which increased three-fold over the Mao period) did not translate into corresponding increases in income for the working population, there were highly significant improvements in diet, welfare, health care and education (especially at the primary level), resulting in a dramatic near-doubling of average life expectancy during the Mao era, from about 35 years in pre-1949 China to 65 years in 1976. Life expectancy has since increased to approximately 70 years in the post-Mao era, a period when there have been extraordinary (if very unevenly distributed) gains in living standards. It should be noted, moreover, as the Nobel-Prize winning Cambridge economist Amartya Sen has pointed out, that the very extensive development of public education, health care, and social security in the Mao period contributed greatly to promoting and sustaining the economic advances of the post-Maoist market reform period.4

    These achievements, in both the Mao and post-Mao eras, would not have been possible (or even conceivable) had it not been for the political and social transformations that followed from the Revolution of 1949.

    […snip…]

    in the sense that it has saved, prolonged, and bettered the lives of more people than any other single political event in world history, the Chinese Revolution of 1949 must be seen as one of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century.

    END QUOTE

    …………………….

    Questions for you, Nigel: why are Western intellectuals and pundits so allergic to these facts, so much so that they feel compelled to deny them or lie about them? That is, when they are aware of them at all, which is not often! And why is THAT? Why are they so ignorant? And why are they so preoccupied with Mao’s and the CCP’s mistakes, to the exclusion of their great accomplishments? These are serious questions, which to my mind have easy, obvious answers. But if you cannot answer them, then I suggest that you might have an… er… fatal attraction to the Sinophobic, lying neoliberal narrative. And if you do, you’re hardly alone! Perhaps ~500 million of our fellow humans — including most of the rich and influential humans — are in the same boat, and that is one major factor putting the entire planet at risk.

    PS: Regarding human rights (your concern), would you say that doubling life expectancy, dramatically improving nutrition and medical care, nearly wiping out illiteracy and providing basic education, building essential sanitation and public health infrastructure, and so on — all of which happened during the Mao period — were significant human rights advances? I do. I think that humans have the right NOT to live in filth and ignorance, with untreated infections and chronic malnutrition, and then die, YOUNG, in misery. Leave it to a crazy old commie to think such a thing.

  44. 294
    alan2102 says:

    #287 nigelj 21 Jun 2019: “alan2102 @276 — Zebra is hard to follow at times, but it appears he is claiming”

    Why do we have to guess? Why can’t he just say what he wants to say? It is not hard.

    “regeneratively (similar to organically) grown food costs significantly more than conventional food grown by the allegedly evil but efficient capitalistic industrial complex, so Scott’s dreams have a way to go to be practical as a way of feeding the world.”

    Maybe Scott’s dreams have an excellent documented economic basis. Have you ever looked into it? That is, have you seriously dredged the literature, trying to find analyses of the true costs of food produced by the two systems? I’ll bet you haven’t. And I’m not picking on you. Most people on this forum, and everywhere else, don’t bother doing serious research; I myself often pontificate without doing adequate homework. But as for this issue — cost of food produced conventionally versus regeneratively — a good analysis would carefully factor IN all the various “externalities” that are not currently reflected in the “pump price” (price at retail). To put it the opposite way: if you ignore climate impacts, biodiversity loss, ecosystem services loss, and on and on, (the “externalities”), then I’m sure conventionally produced food costs less. And this is of course the routine practice of neoliberal economists: ignore the externalities — all that hard-to-quantitate messy greenie commie stuff that reveals (once it IS quantitated) your favored economic system to be ecocidal and your vaunted “profits” to be non-existent when viewed in light of true costs. Nevertheless, there ARE economists, and other scientists, who are capable of doing honest true-cost analyses, and perhaps one or more has undertaken this project wrt food.

    Having said that, note that I am NOT certain that regeneratively produced food is cheaper in terms of true costs. That’s my hypothesis, and I think it is likely, but it is an empirical question; I lack the facts to come to a conclusion. And so do you.

    Also btw I am not opposed to conventional agriculture. It has both strengths and weaknesses. It has large room for improvement, but no way can it be, or should it be, dismantled overnight. I think this is a common-sense view and I can’t imagine anyone seriously suggesting otherwise.

  45. 295
    sidd says:

    Re: food prices at White Oak Pastures and elsewhere

    That comparison i made between White Oak and BLS midwest average was for ground beef at USD 8.49 vs 4.0. Using White Oak numbers for carbon sequestrated (-3.5 pounds CO2 per pound beef) and their estimate for conventional (+33 lb CO2 emitted per lb beef) implies a carbon price of approx. USD 300/ton

    Those chicken prices are huge at White Oak. My neighbour raises various flavour of free range fowl, they run about and occasionally come by and hang about forawhile, get taken by eagles and foxes and raccoons (and these days, coyote) despite the dog guardians, and eventually sells it to me and all and sundry for USD 6 / lb .

    Actually, in fairness, i should say he mostly gives it to me, rarely accepts payment.

    sidd

  46. 296
    zebra says:

    #291 Scott E Strough,

    “But from an economics perspective, there is no reason why regenerative ag shouldn’t be able to benefit from the same economies of scale as the current system. And if that happened, food costs would dramatically drop.”

    How? You’re the expert, why don’t you explain how economies of scale would work physically for the types of process you describe.

    -We know how a giant flat mono-grain-field harvested by a giant robotic combine is more economical than many smaller ones with farmers on tractors.

    -We know how a big chicken house with 50K chickens, or a giant feedlot for cows or pigs, using that harvested grain, produces cheaper meat than lots of small farms with more labor and transportation costs.

    So, what would be the equivalent effects if White Oak, for example, doubled or tripled or whatever in size? How/why would their pastured chicken go from $17/lb to $2/lb?

    Again, physically, what would change due to scale, to make production costs drop?

  47. 297
    patrick027 says:

    re 292 alan2102 “Anti-intellectual? You can expand on that if you like, but it doesn’t match what I know. Pro-natalist? If true, a very unsuccessful one, since fertility dropped off a cliff during his tenure, from over 6 to about 3.”

    Unfortunately I don’t remember many details of what I learned in college (an east Asian history class and a sociology class); I am mainly left with impressions.

    I do understand he realized that population could get to big at some point; prior to that, he was a fan of the phrase (this might not be word-for-word exact) “for every mouth there are two hands” – the idea being that more people can do more work, no such thing as a carrying capacity (he was not a fan of Thomas Malthus); i.e. perhaps I am extrapolating too far from what he was thinking, but it sounds like a mantra for unlimited growth. Not a criticism of communism – I think John Stossel had a similar belief (last I checked, which was a long time ago). Also at the time, I remember thinking he was comparable to W Bush. In hindsight, aspects of his rule may have been quasi-Trumpian (I remember something about the children of people who were rich not being allowed the same opportunities as others – maybe I’m wrong, but I was left with the impression that rather than trying to achieve equality, they sort-of reversed the inequality…? Also I remember something about a local village deciding men should get paid more than women because men could do more work, and some other place (or was it the same place?) deciding how people should do their hair … but that’s getting far afield from the economic system. (didn’t Mao force people to exchange jobs at some point?)

    Initially my comment was motivated by what seemed like a brushing off of the role of very bad policy in the famine.

  48. 298
    patrick027 says:

    “Also I remember something about a local village deciding men should get paid more than women because men could do more work, and some other place (or was it the same place?) deciding how people should do their hair … ” … not directly related to Mao, I’m even sure if that was during Mao’s rule or later. …

    … So maybe some of what I learned was biased, or I misremembered or extrapolated too far; fortunately I don’t need to be an expert on Chinese history to understand that climate change is a problem, etc.

  49. 299

    And alan is once again singing Mao’s praises, oblivious to the mass executions, the labor camps, the deaths of tens of millions of people, the religious and political persecution, the neighborhood and apartment political officers reporting on everything people did, and of course, the Great Leap Forward which contributed about half of the 60 million or so state-responsible deaths under Mao. Mao was a bastard on the model of Hitler or Stalin and anybody who doesn’t admit that is blind. Period.

  50. 300
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: If you own a patent (or copyright), and you charge someone to use the design, or sue them if they use it without paying, isn’t that also rent-seeking?

    AB: It probably would be if I were acting as a capitalist. Then again, assigning “good” or “evil” labels to a word and then determining the morality of actions based on whether the word applies is not reasonable.

    And since I’m operating as a laborist and not seeking personal wealth the answer is an adamant, “NO!” regardless of whether “rent-seeking” is a reasonable label for licensing patents.
    ____________

    zebra: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts:

    White Oak: $17/lb

    At my local market: $2/lb, or, highest premium brand $6/lb… …The wonderful magic environmental results people like Scott keep citing are simply not reproducible at that scale.

    AB: Hmm, when solar cells were being made onsie-twosie fashion and their electricity cost many times what coal-powered cost why were you talking about “economies of scale” and “fossil subsidies”? (I presume, as we all were)
    _________

    Alan2102: if you ignore climate impacts, biodiversity loss, ecosystem services loss, and on and on, (the “externalities”), then I’m sure conventionally produced food costs less. And this is of course the routine practice of neoliberal economists: ignore the externalities

    AB: Yep.