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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. 301
    nigelj says:

    Scott E Strough @291,

    You wrote quoting me “claiming regeneratively (similar too organically) grown food costs significantly more than conventional food” followed by “Scott’s dreams have a way to go to be practical as a way of feeding the world.”

    You added “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.”

    I did NOT say that. I said and I quote: “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.”

    So please don’t BLATANTLY selectively quote what I said to twist the meaning, and shove words like that in my mouth again because it destroys any chance you have of convincing me or anyone else. I generally like your posts, and ideas in principle, to an extent, but trickery is insulting and wont ever work with me.

    “100s of billions in dollars subsidized the conventional GAP production, and massive regulations to prevent organic from competing at scale. ”

    I live in New Zealand I have said this several times, and farming is NOT subsidised here, and organic food is still typically 30% more expensive! Yes it may drop in price with economies of scale over time. But like I said, 30% is not too bad anyway, so I feel Zebras concerns are somewhat overblown. But you missed the point of all that, god knows why.

  2. 302

    Now, I have no idea whether this will work in practice or not. But if it did, it might cut out a lot of air transport emissions.

    https://personalairlineexchange.com/

    The Personal Airline is a virtual airline, exactly like AirBNB is a virtual lodging company. Once we have flights generated in our system, we send these to charter operator partners… Our magic is to take flight requests from multiple travelers, and without any of them communicating with each other, we manage a virtual negotiation with 5-10 people simultaneously. …we are able to Demand Manage individual requests into common flights.

    Although that was *before* they ordered 50 of Ampaire’s “Electric EEL” hybrid planes for themselves. It appears that they think they can compete ‘first person’ on these short-haul ‘virtual’ routes by utilizing the hybrid’s savings on fuel and maintenance.

    https://www.ampaire.com/news/press-release-061819

  3. 303
    nigelj says:

    Scott, Zebra and others.

    Regarding the cost comparisons of regeneratively (organically) grown food and conventional food.

    You are not comparing apples with apples. In America the data some of you post suggests organic food is a lot more expensive than conventional food. Ok, but it’s well known that conventional farming does get a lot of subsidies not always available to organic producers so this distorts the picture.

    In New Zealand no farmers get subsidies or other preferential treatment, apart from drought assistance, and all farmers are able to apply for that. We ended farm subsidies in the early 1980’s. So we have a level playing field between organic farming and conventional farming so apples with apples comparisons can be made (excuse the pun) and there is some good data below. It does frustratingly mix together fair trade and organic issues but basically organic produce is typically about 30% more expensive in my experience with some items 50% more. However like I said, 30% more expensive does not seem prohibitive for most people, and shows the potential.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=10777149

    “To test the cost of following your conscience at the supermarket, we tried a weekly food run for a family of five, comparing regular prices with their ethical alternatives across a range of issues – mainly organic, free range and Fairtrade – at New World in Mt Roskill.”

    “The ethical shopping list cost $342 compared with $271 for the ordinary shopping trolley, a difference of $71 or 26 per cent. The biggest increases occurred in staple foods which most large households buy in bulk, such as milk, flour and sugar, which together cost an extra $22.64. Organic fruit and vegetables cost $13.60 more, mainly because of one good deal on strawberries. This turned out to be a common problem. All through the store, ethical shoppers tended to miss out on specials, which make a big difference to the final cost.”

  4. 304
    alan2102 says:

    THANK HEAVEN we live in the free world, not like that horrible human rights-denying, dissident-imprisoning China!

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-climate-arrests/police-arrest-70-climate-change-protesters-outside-new-york-times-idUSKCN1TN0RQ
    JUNE 22, 2019
    Police arrest 70 climate change protesters outside New York Times
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Police arrested 70 environmental protesters outside the New York Times headquarters who laid down in the street and climbed onto the building to demand the newspaper start referring to climate change as a climate emergency, police and media reports said.

  5. 305
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @293,

    I acknowledge China had good industrial progress under Mao in economic growth terms, but I did say previously that collectivisation worked well in the early years and then stagnated, and I would also add the quality of goods was not great. Why else do you think China abandoned socialism for capitalism (at least a form of quasi capitalism)?

    Yes China did improve things like education under Mao. But THIS is something socialism does quite well because it is able to really organise the education system and make it available to everyone regardless of income, and have a sensible uniform curriculum without religion and so on intruding! But education is not industry, and we have public education and healthcare in many capitalist countries right now anyway, so it doesn’t require a country be completely socialist.

    Full scale state led socialism is a pressure cooker that works well, but only for a limited period because people become lazy in such systems and productivity dwindles. Capitalism and free markets doesn’t run out of steam and stagnate, instead the problem is environmental impacts and inequality and financial crashes.

    However I’m the very first to admit ‘neoliberalism’ has its fair share of problems and I’ve read entire books on the subject. Like someone else said capitalism is useful but should not be worshipped like a God.

    Of course it depends on how we define neoliberalism but wikipedia is a reasonable start : Free trade, mobile capital, privatisation, flat taxes, deregulation, inequality is acceptable. Free trade and mobile capital are neoliberal tenets, and makes a lot of sense to me, but neoliberalism goes beyond this to barking mad ideas about completely or largely unregulated business and getting rid of environmental laws. But things don’t have to be that way, people are capable of fighting these extreme and stupid ideas promoted by robber baron characters only interested in personal gain and status display. Not that wealthy people are all bad, but the problem is when wealthy people try to stack the market in their favour.

    The question you appear to be suggesting is a very worthy one: Could we make a new form of wide scale state socialism work well, with the benefit of experience, computers capable of making good centralised decisions etc? I have my doubts and I doubt many people would embrace it even if it could be shown to work. People like owning things and such a system would probably still run the risk of stagnation and abuse of power by the people centrally running the ship. That is already a problem under capitalism but if they ran everything the problem would grow proportionally.

  6. 306
    alan2102 says:

    AND, THANK HEAVEN we live in a DEMOCRACY, unlike that horrible Chinese authoritarian system!

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/testing-theories-of-american-politics-elites-interest-groups-and-average-citizens/62327F513959D0A304D4893B382B992B
    Perspectives on Politics Volume 12, Issue 3 September 2014 , pp. 564-581
    Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
    Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592714001595
    snip
    “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”

    Once again, for emphasis: “average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”

  7. 307
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @294

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

    Yes, I know what you mean:)

    “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. ”

    Not in any huge depth, but look at my other post. Briefly put, In New Zealand organic produce costs me about 30% more than conventional food. So still more expensive but not prohibitive. Farming in NZ doesn’t get subsidies which can distort such numbers so its a level playing field and this number is therefore a useful number.

    “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. ”

    Agreed and organic produce then starts to look like a real winner to me. And I’m hoping people consider and value these things and not just look at the crude price in the shop.

    “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.”

    I haven’t seen a study, but refer my comment right above on costs in our shops.

    “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.”

    Well it shouldn’t be dismantled by force, and I think we need some better formal studies comparing the two systems, and its up to farmers what they want to do and any transition is likely to be slow anyway. Farmers tend to be a bit conservative. However I’m not sure why a transition would need to be painfully slow. Why would it? Whats bothering you?

    The thing to do is to raise awareness of the issues with everyone, and to try to get to the truth, and the trouble is we get people who have vested interests in industrial agriculture who lie and distort things, and we have people passionate about organic farming who might be tempted to exaggerate, and all I’m trying to do is figure out what the facts really are.

  8. 308
    alan2102 says:

    Interesting youtube item, new carbon capture plant:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHX9pmQ6m_s
    Bill Gates-Backed Carbon Capture Plant Does The Work Of 40 Million Trees
    CNBC Published on Jun 22, 2019

    Comment in comments section:
    Bharbir Singh Heyer: “Annual co2 emissions is ~40b tonnes in 2018. So at $200 per tonne for removal, it will only cost $8 trillion a year”

    So, with global GDP at about U.S. $85 trillion per year, that’s 10% of GDP. A huge portion. Consider that more trees could do the same job, and do so at probably a small fraction of the cost, PLUS with huge bonuses in other areas such as fostering biodiversity, providing great ecosystem and hydrologic services, and air purification, not to mention beauty and human psychological health, and other advantages.

    Estimates of the cost of planting trees vary wildly, but taking a moderately-high figure of $10 each (probably way too high), $8 trillion would plant 800 BILLION trees, which is a fantastic number when you consider that there are currently ~3 trillion trees on earth; i.e. at that rate of investment, global tree population would be doubled in FOUR years! And they would go on providing the aforesaid ecosystem services (and etc.) for many decades after, unlike the several 10s of thousands of ugly CO2-capturing plants that would have to be built as the alternative. Trees: game, set, match.

    (Yes, Scott, grasses may be better for CO2 itself, and your suggestions have great merit, but let’s not be CO2-reductionists here. All the other stuff counts, too.)

    Also in comments:
    aluisious: “This plant does the work of…1 or 2 square miles of trees. You’ve got to be kidding.”

    My reply:
    alan2102: “A healthy forest has ~50 trees per acre. A square mile is 640 acres. Hence a forest might have ~30-40,000 trees per square mile. Hence 40 million trees would be approximately 1,000 square miles.”

    1,000 square miles sounds like a lot, but remember that the planet is ~200 MILLION square miles, with land area about 57 million square miles.

    ……………….

    ALSO in comments section, for your amusement:

    Ed Swope: “Andy, we do not have too much CO2. CO2 is needed for plants to thrive. What we have is too many people who believe everything they are told without thinking it through themselves. Someone will get rich fleecing the government, and tax payers, for crap like this that will not help anything anyway. And will probably have significant unintended consequences. Many of these wackos insist CO2 should be held to below 140ppm. Plant life, our food, will begin to suffer at 160ppm. At 140ppm we will have global famine. But lets all keep thinking CO2 is a problem. Methane, sulphur and many other things are a problem in our atmosphere. But lets just attack the one substance that isnt a problem. Lets attack a substance that is one of the keys to life on this planet. At one time it is estimated that CO2 levels could have been as high as 2000ppm. Guess what happened then. Yep, there was so much plant life that creatures the size of a brontosaurus could thrive. Huge animals numbering in the millions and probably billions thrived for millions of years. And even after eating their fill, so much plant live was left over that its decomposing matter is still around for us to use as fuel. Carbon isnt a problem…. [blah blah blah]”.

    my reply:

    alan2102
    “​@Ed Swope “Yep, there was so much plant life that creatures the size of a brontosaurus could thrive. Huge animals numbering in the millions and probably billions thrived for millions of years.”
    Yep, Ed, those big huge dumb beasts DID thrive on the dilute, nutrient-poor food they were eating — nutrient-poor food that was the result of massive stimulation from the junkfood-like CO2 fertilization. CO2 makes plants grow big and fat, but low in nutrients; just like junk food (refined sugar, flour) makes humans big and fat, but sick. Nutrient-depleted food supports the development of big, dumb animals with massive bodies but tiny brains (low encephalization, to put it in proper tech terms). Evolution of larger brains, such as the human brain, required lots of high-quality, nutrient-dense food. As we pump more CO2 into the atmosphere, we stimulate the growth of nutrient-depleted plants, which in turn will cause billions of people to become even more nutrient depleted than they already are; i.e. a disaster for public health and for the future prospects of human civilization. CO2, without a counterbalancing supply of other nutrients (NPK, plus S, Ca, Mg, B, Si, Zn, Fe, and the rest) thus acts as a devolutionary influence on the planet and on civilization. But of course the climate deniers and mindless flag-wavers for CO2 fertilization will never tell you this. Why? Because MUST HATE AL GORE. MUST HATE GREENIE LIBERAL SOCIALIST TREE-HUGGERS. MUST HATE SOROS’ NEW WORLD ORDER. Or whatever the fuck nonsense they come up with next.”

  9. 309
    Nemesis says:

    We go into some severe heatwave in Germany (and in large parts of Europe) this week, temperatures will rise up around 40°C (and this is still June, so very early massive heat). The heatwave will last the entire week at least. We will get troppical night temperatures. We are still in a severe drought and groundwater tables are ever more falling all over Europe. This is the second year of severe drought, last year was the hottest year on record (“again”). Trees are dying all over the place, the european timber industry is in a real bad situation, prices are falling and falling, they don’t know where they should leave all these dead trees, the capitalist market gives a shit about that (who cares, it’s just fuckin wood anyway, someone will still make some goood profit). Yoh guys, I gotta repeat myself:

    I see the Fire of Hell on the horizon, in fact, I already feel the heat of Hell :)

  10. 310
    zebra says:

    Al Bundy,

    On rent-seeking: No clue what you are trying to say “No” to. The issue of patents and copyrights is a difficult one in terms of benefits to society; in fact, they can have exactly the opposite of the intended effect.

    But anyway, if you are not seeking personal wealth, why would you get a patent at all? If you publish your designs it would be a service to humanity and you would maybe receive some awards and recognition.

    On “economy of scale”: Let’s see what Scott comes up with in response to my #296.

    The problem here is like the tipping point business; I am referring specifically to the regenerative/carbon-capture process, and it is being conflated/confused with other terms like organic. Not the same at all.

    My doubts about scaling are because, unlike solar panels and other stuff, the whole point is the process itself, not the product.

    On externalities: That’s a classic “if only Kumbaya”. People want cheap food. Nothing to do with “neo-liberalism”, which Alan I’m sure can’t define in some way that distinguishes it from laissez-faire capitalism. But then Alan is a fan of approaches to governance, as in China, which pretend to be something else.

  11. 311
    patrick027 says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward#Backyard_furnaces
    …”Although the output consisted of low quality lumps of pig iron which was of negligible economic worth, Mao had a deep distrust of intellectuals who could have pointed this out”…

  12. 312
    Nemesis says:

    After all futile discussions about the economic system:

    Go, capitalism, go! Go! You are the winner, you are THE winner, the final, the eternal capitalism, nothing else works, everything else is evil, evil communism. So take it all, I am absolutely sure that you will love your final price. Just walk on and take good care of the numbers.

  13. 313
    nigelj says:

    Zebra, the Economist.com did an excellent level headed study on patents recently. They found patents make sense (benefits outweigh costs) provided the patent period is not too long. What one would intuitively expect. Stop reinventing the wheel all the time, and try using google.

  14. 314
    Killian says:

    People will. Worth bearing in mind most of the world isn’t living well. Most are pretty close to simple. The people simplification will be the bigger shock for are the high consumers, a minority of global population.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/north-africa-west-asia/making-rojava-green-again/?fbclid=IwAR2Irw0xbrR63WYK-L2f9XyTAVmKSel_7Yg-CovAn1-uhwO2pQj3bOZlD1g

  15. 315
    Al Bundy says:

    Alan2102: THANK HEAVEN we live in the free world, not like that horrible human rights-denying, dissident-imprisoning China!

    AB: And then there’s the climate refuge issue. That trickle from the equatorial regions is going to explode. Look at the USA’s response to the climate emergency:

    Warehouse refugee children for weeks on end in standing-room only cells and feed them short rations of microwave burritos. (If folks realize that the USA tortures children then maybe they’ll just die in place instead of fleeing the USA-made climate)

    Note that you can cram another couple in if they stand on the cell’s toilet, and at $773/day per victim it is definitely worth it.

    And I’m sure the policy of forcing children to sleep outside on the bare ground in dust storms is jolly good fun for the GOPpers.

    But the icing on the cake is how GOPpers claim poverty. Only $100,000 per day for a cell. Given the tremendous cost of microwave burritos (and since the minimum wage is far too high) that only leaves about $99,000 in profit per day!! Yep, the GOPpers desperately want to treat children decently but unfortunately at a mere $773 per child per day it is impossible to do.

  16. 316
    nigelj says:

    From Killians link to the new simplicity he loves :”However, this revolution will take time. Considering the way things are at this stage, we are obliged to deal with the power of modern global capitalism. By way of example, the Social Contract allows for investments in private projects, if they “take into account ecological balance” (article 42). Likewise, the right to private ownership is guaranteed “unless it contradicts the common interest” (article 43). At this first stage, ecology is not seen in opposition to capitalism but rather as a limit to a capitalism destroying nature and human health.”

    So a bit of capitalism is OK apparently. Yet when I say we need to be more sustainable and have better ecological goals, but will still need some capitalism in the mix, I get slammed.

  17. 317
    nigelj says:

    Addendum. No doubt The Syrian ecological revolution is only intended to embrace capitalism temporarily. Lets see how that ends….I suspect it will be more permanent.

  18. 318
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @312, its not black and white capitalism or something else. Capitalism as we know it has to change or evolve, this is obvious. Organic farms typically combine the profit motive with sustainability and are an example of this. Whats wrong with that?

  19. 319
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #318

    ” its not black and white capitalism or something else. Capitalism as we know it has to change or evolve, this is obvious. Organic farms typically combine the profit motive with sustainability and are an example of this. Whats wrong with that?”

    Nothing wrong with that, at least for me personally, as personally I got almost nothing to lose, no kids, no wealth, nothing ;) So capitalism seems to deal “almost” perfectly with “almost” everything so far (hey com on, nothing is just black or white). Sure, capitalism has to “change or evolve” rather quickly, but the bosses and politicians will do a “fantastic” job I’m sure as they always do a “fantastic” job “most” of the time. We ARE heading towards a wonderful future. Btw:

    Greta Thunberg (remember that 16 year old little girl?) recentlly said “I want you to PANIC”. Why is that? Doesn’t she trust in the bosses, in capitalism and all or what is it? “confused”

    Go, capitalism, go! Go!

  20. 320
    Fred Magyar says:

    Nemesis @ 270 Re: @zebra, #255
    You both might enjoy this oldie but quite goodie ;-)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNi1sevKNd0
    “End of the Ship” by Roy Zimmerman

  21. 321

    Look guys and gals, if the biophysical works, then you can embed it into any sort of economic system that makes you happy, from primitive nomadic tribal communities to any sort of macro economics that works for that society.

    Economics are a human construct. They really don’t have anything to do with whether we can balance the carbon cycle or not. Rather they are useful in motivating certain types of behaviors society deems valuable.

    nigelj worries about cost increases, yet his own link claims “All through the store, ethical shoppers tended to miss out on specials, which make a big difference to the final cost.” Which means of course when regenerative ag is the vast majority of production and obtaining the benefits of economies of scale, just the opposite would happen. It would be the higher quality ethically raised produce benefiting from those sorts of sales.

    And of course that’s all before adding in the hidden costs which fall almost entirely on conventional ag.

  22. 322
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @318, great video on carbon capture and storage. You note that a carbon capture and storage facility is the equivalent of 1000 sq miles of forests. Sure looks like forests would be preferable at first glance, but please remember that the world will clearly need thousands of carbon capture and storage facilities to make a big difference (have a look at how much carbon one plant sequesters over time), so this equals millions of sq miles of forests probably the equivalent of North America in size. Spare land like this simply doesn’t exist.

  23. 323
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @319 oh true, the captains of industry won’t give up their status and wealth and comfortable ways of doing things they are used to without a major fight and temper tantrum. It’s up to the public really, so shareholders and voters need to put pressure on for change that reaches a point that cannot be ignored. Chances of this happening 50 / 50 at best.

  24. 324
    zebra says:

    #320 Fred Magyar,

    Well, he’s no Tom Lehrer, eh.

    But sure it’s fun to be clever about stuff; it’s much harder to understand what’s happening… like what scientists do… and figure out how to fix things… like what engineers and designers do.

    FMC: Free Market Capitalism.
    LFC: Laissez-Faire Capitalism.

    SOR: Sovereign Ownership of Resources.

    LFC gives the result the song describes.

    FMC raises the bow of the ship only a bit, so it goes faster and smoother.

    SOR is only relevant when demand exceeds the supply, but when that is the case, it favors LFC.

    FMC requires strong government regulation. That’s why the right-wing propaganda machine created a double-speak version of it that means the same as LFC. And people like Nemesis love that because they can be morally indignant/superior all the time about everything, without putting in the work to know what the words mean.

    And then there’s NLE… Neo-Liberal Economics, which is another double/triple-speak propaganda term, which the Right promotes because the Left then sees “liberal” as a negative, although nobody actually agrees on what it means anyway.

    Seriously, can anyone explain what Paleo-Liberal Economics is like? Is that when women and minorities were second-class citizens in the New Deal Utopia of 1950 USA, and the up-side of the sinking ship had those Noble White Union Guys along with the capitalists?

  25. 325
    patrick027 says:

    re my http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2019/05/forced-responses-may-2019/comment-page-6/#comment-737027 “What about the effects of an anti-intellectual pro-natalist (Mao) surrounded by sycophantic yes-men who kept him insulated from reality” … might be a bit inaccurate; there was fudging and faking of the results of the agricultural policies, but I don’t know if that extended to Mao’s closest advisors.

  26. 326
    nigelj says:

    Scott E Strough @321, I agree completely the farming techniques and skill sets of regenerative agriculture can be part of any economic system.

    It will however be easier to expand regenerative agriculture, if we get capitalism working in a more sensible way, starting with not selectively subsidising millionaire farmers who obviously don’t need assistance (something I’m reasonably sure you pointed out), and also by discouraging excessive monopolies in the economy, because they become lazy rent seekers, and by getting businesses to work on a more formal combination of profit goals and environmental goals, although I accept this is not going to be easy.

    “nigelj worries about cost increases,” Please just stop it Scott. I’ve said three times now the higher cost of organic food doesn’t seem excessive or prohibitive to me.

    However I think you are right in that larger volumes of organic produce would lead to more specials. Shops are also probably reluctant to have specials for organic food in case they offend the strong conventional food lobby that they are so dependent on currently.

    Your comments on economies of scale are however a bit vague. Economies of scale will only go so far, so things like lower cost organic pesticides, but Im not seeing a huge list of economies of scale.

  27. 327
    Nemesis says:

    @Fred Magyar, #320

    Thanks a lot for the music, I like it, the lyrics tell a lot, hehe, great song!

  28. 328
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #323

    ” oh true, the captains of industry won’t give up their status and wealth and comfortable ways of doing things they are used to without a major fight and temper tantrum. It’s up to the public really, so shareholders and voters need to put pressure on for change that reaches a point that cannot be ignored. Chances of this happening 50 / 50 at best.”

    The captains of industry will have to give up their status and wealth quickly, Mother Nature will take it away :)

    And I don’t “hold” any “shares”, I never did (I don’t need anything like that, I’m just a transit passenger on the way to ultimate freedom and release) and I don’t vote, voting is a farce as funny money BAU always wins, no matter what votes.

    Anyway, capitalism is the winner and the winner takes it all. Enjoy.

  29. 329
    nigelj says:

    Neoliberal economics is pretty much the same as laissez faire economics. Ie government should do nothing and own nothing except to maintain armed forces and enforce property laws, and everything will be fine. It doesn’t work out fine of course. This is what Reagon and Thathcher tried to do, as much as they could get away with.

    The meaning of the term liberal has changed which confuses things. Classical liberals in past centuries embraced social liberalism and small government laissez faire economics along with very free trade. Modern liberals like the Democrats embrace social liberalism, but more of a regulated market, and some government provision of services, except they are reasonably relaxed about free trade. Can’t find much that I disagree with.

    The Republicans are now principle free opportunists. They want neoliberal small government laissez faire economics when it benefits business and a regulated market of tariffs and subsidies when it benefits business, and the public good counts for nothing.

    Agree with Zebra free markets need some government regulation to make them work properly. It doesnt need to be vast, its more a case of knowing what the weaknesses of markets are. I think governments need to also provide some health and education services, and even Adam Smith recognised all of this. He is generally regarded as the originator of free market doctrine.

  30. 330
    Killian says:

    Re #321 Scott E Strough says: Look guys and gals, if the biophysical works, then you can embed it into any sort of economic system that makes you happy, from primitive nomadic tribal communities to any sort of macro economics that works for that society.

    Economics are a human construct. They really don’t have anything to do with whether we can balance the carbon cycle or not. Rather they are useful in motivating certain types of behaviors society deems valuable…. when regenerative ag is the vast majority of production and obtaining the benefits of economies of scale, just the opposite would happen… all before adding in the hidden costs which fall almost entirely on conventional ag.

    Sometimes I think we have become so used to complexity that we have hit the top of the diminishing returns curve on complexity (Tainter) mentally and emotionally: Some people just can’t grasp it. Your message is clear; I’m sure it will be quite opaque to more than one around here.

  31. 331
    Killian says:

    Re #326 nigelj said Scott E Strough @321, I agree completely the farming techniques and skill sets of regenerative agriculture can be part of any economic system.

    It will however be easier to expand regenerative agriculture, if we get capitalism working in a more sensible way, starting with not selectively subsidising millionaire farmers who obviously don’t need assistance (something I’m reasonably sure you pointed out), and also by discouraging excessive monopolies in the economy, because they become lazy rent seekers, and by getting businesses to work on a more formal combination of profit goals and environmental goals, although I accept this is not going to be easy.

    Oligarchies don’t tend to do any of those things, do they, Dear Readers?

    However I think you are right in that larger volumes of organic produce would lead to more specials. Shops are also probably reluctant to have specials for organic food in case they offend the strong conventional food lobby that they are so dependent on currently.

    Your comments on economies of scale are however a bit vague. Economies of scale will only go so far, so things like lower cost organic pesticides, but Im not seeing a huge list of economies of scale.

    !!

    So, bullshit, chem farming can achieve massive scale but regenerative cannot. IC said the blind man, Dear Readers.

    What is entertaining is the quite clear argument for simplicity… completely unrecognized by the writer.

    Life is nothing if not a theater of the absurd.

  32. 332
    Killian says:

    People will.

    Across his property, Clark uses regenerative practices including diverse crop rotations, no-till methods, and cover cropping, and he is striving toward the tough task of combining no-till practices with organic certification.

    Clark is one of a small but growing number of farmers who are adopting regenerative agricultural practices to build soil health. (Others include Gabe Brown in North Dakota and David Brandt in Ohio, who were featured in David Montgomery’s book about regenerative agriculture, Growing a Revolution.) His farm offers a practical, proven example of how regenerative farming methods can transform agriculture.

    https://civileats.com/2019/06/12/regenerating-the-soil-transformed-this-indiana-farm/

  33. 333
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @328, I think I see what you might be getting at, namely that capitalism is something like a separate living, breathing entity with its own goals that consumes everything before it, until nothing is left except a wasteland. And we are hitched onto this monster for the ride, unable to get off, addicted and dependent. Who knows, its crazy enough to possibly be true. At the very least assuming it might be true might help us understand what’s happening.

    There is also a recent theory that our institutions evolve and follow the laws of evolution and natural selection. This includes our capitalistic institutions.

    However whatever system we have there is always the option of modifying parts of it and harm minimisation. Frankly I think this is the best we will do.

  34. 334
    Killian says:

    I miss the collegiality of the 2007~2013 RealClimate fora. Scan through this whole thing. It’s really amazing how the schism that came later is pretty much non-existent.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/01/unforced-variations-jan-2013/#comments

    We used to be… polite.

  35. 335
    Fred Magyar says:

    zebra @ 324

    T’was only meant as an opportunity for a moment of levity in these otherwise gloomy times. No solutions to anything were offered or implied.

    Cheers!

  36. 336
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #333

    I said it several times already:

    Capitalism won. Now deal with it or die.

    My prediction:

    Capitalism will die and a lot (if not most) of life on planet Earth will die with it.

    Btw, there are real people behind capitalism, real people who got real wealth and real power, real people who got real names and real responsibility, real Karma they can never ever escape from…

    Yama, the Lord of Death, once said:

    ” Fools dwelling in darkness, but thinking themselves wise and erudite, go round and round, by various tortuous paths, like the blind led by the blind.

    The Hereafter never reveals Itself to a person devoid of discrimination, heedless and perplexed by the delusion of wealth. “This world alone exists”, he thinks, “and there is no other.” Again and again he comes under my sway.”

    – Katha Upanishad

    The Katha Upanishad has been written ~2500 years ago, but it is timeless, it is just as valid today as it was valid millennia ago. This is no joke, no fun stuff, no phantasie, no fairy tale, but real flesh and bones.

  37. 337
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: But anyway, if you are not seeking personal wealth, why would you get a patent at all?

    AB: Hmm, you read my plan and said you approved. Have you changed your mind?

    And I’ve pondered your question: Patents are labor, not rent-seeking because they are directly linked to work and expire relatively quickly.

  38. 338
    nigelj says:

    Killian @131,

    “Your comments on economies of scale are however a bit vague. Economies of scale will only go so far, so things like lower cost organic pesticides, but Im not seeing a huge list of economies of scale.”

    “So, bullshit, chem farming can achieve massive scale but regenerative cannot.”

    Sigh. Economies of scale of regenerative agriculture is not the same thing as scale of regenerative agriculture, as in total size . Google economies of scale. I feel organic / regenerative farming could potentially reach the same scale as conventional farming, because its hard to see why it couldn’t, but looking at current trends, it isn’t happening very fast.

  39. 339
    nigelj says:

    Regenerative agriculture has merit, but some people have such unrealistic expectations of what it can achieve in terms of costs and productivity. Regenerative farming is very roughly like traditional farming, so will share its higher cost structure, higher labour content, and lower productivity compared to industrial agriculture.

    However prices of organic produce suggests to me prices are not prohibitive. It leaves humanity with a simple choice: Lower cost and a destroyed environment, or slightly higher cost and a stable environment. But lets not kid ourselves there’s such a thing as a free lunch.

  40. 340
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #324

    ” But sure it’s fun to be clever about stuff; it’s much harder to understand what’s happening… like what scientists do… and figure out how to fix things… like what engineers and designers do.”

    You still don’t get it:

    This criminal system we live in has an ETHICAL problem of epic proportions no scientist, no engineer and designer will EVER “fix”. No scientist, no engineer and no funny designer will EVER “fix” false propaganda, lies, BAU, lobbyism, egotism, theft, exploitation, smoke and mirrors and epic capitalist corruption. But you among too many others still bet on scientists, engineers and designers. Your bet is already lost, you just still don’t realize it yet. You will. Everyone will realize it quickly.

    Love,
    Nemesis

  41. 341
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @340

    “But sure it’s fun to be clever about stuff; it’s much harder to understand what’s happening… like what scientists do… and figure out how to fix things… like what engineers and designers do.”

    Not my statement, and I think you might be misinterpreting it!

  42. 342
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @337 “And I’ve pondered your question: Patents are labor, not rent-seeking because they are directly linked to work and expire relatively quickly.”

    Patents nothing to do with labour, they are not an automatic product of work. They are rent seeing, namely a special privilege lobbied for by the corporate sector, but they are a perfectly justifiable form of rent seeking, because all of society benefits, because it means companies have some real incentive to develop new products knowing their investment wont be copied overnight. As long as the patent period does not go on for ages after the original investment has payed for itself (as you more or less pointed out.) Patents are a good thing.

    So dont fret over it. Many things are rent seeking such as patents, subsidies, tariffs, monopoly privileges occupational licencing, but its obvious sometimes the things have merit for the public good (like pilots having to have licences). It depends on the form of rent seeking. The striped camouflaged creature that sometimes sounds like an oil industry lobbyist, but isn’t, thinks in black and white terms. The real world is shades of grey.

  43. 343
    Killian says:

    If you ever need a perfect example of the term “word salad,” here it is:

    Sigh. Economies of scale of regenerative agriculture is not the same thing as scale of regenerative agriculture, as in total size. Google economies of scale. I feel organic / regenerative farming could potentially reach the same scale as conventional farming, because its hard to see why it couldn’t, but looking at current trends, it isn’t happening very fast.

    Re #340 Nemesis said But you among too many others still bet on scientists, engineers and designers.

    Mind yer tongue, laddie! I think you’re needing a qualification. I’m more and more convinced the only people who any hope of leading on climate and sustainability are designers: Regenerative designers.

  44. 344
    Killian says:

    Re #336 Nemesis said I said it several times already:

    Capitalism won. Now deal with it or die.

    My prediction:

    Capitalism will die and a lot (if not most) of life on planet Earth will die with it.

    And the sun will be there when I wake up tomorrow. And? It takes no skill, insight, analysis, fortitude to state the obvious. You’re getting past the point of relevancy. For years you and I, et al., have said such things bc hardly anybody seemed to get it. They are getting it now. Repeating the same warning of the boat having a hole after the patching has begun makes little sense and is of zero use.

    I’m sure you have something to say about mitigation/adaptation. Why don’t you try that?

  45. 345
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #341

    Oh sorry, I confused you with zebra, freudian slip ;)

  46. 346
    Nemesis says:

    @Killian, #343

    ” Mind yer tongue, laddie! I think you’re needing a qualification. I’m more and more convinced the only people who any hope of leading on climate and sustainability are designers: Regenerative designers.”

    Sure, sure, scientists, engineers and designers do a lot of beautiful things, they just can’t fix what I listed:

    False propaganda, lies, BAU, lobbyism, egotism, theft, exploitation, smoke and mirrors and epic capitalist corruption. Obviously, too obviously so far :) Rinse and repeat until no more.

    @Kliian, #344

    You say about the impending collapse of capitalism:

    ” And the sun will be there when I wake up tomorrow. And? It takes no skill, insight, analysis, fortitude to state the obvious. You’re getting past the point of relevancy. For years you and I, et al., have said such things bc hardly anybody seemed to get it. They are getting it now. Repeating the same warning of the boat having a hole after the patching has begun makes little sense and is of zero use.”

    Sure, the sun always shines over good and evil (I stole from some funny book). I’m sure, Greta Thunberg and billions of kids will like that too. For what are they demonstrating and demand “Panic” at all?

    ” I’m sure you have something to say about mitigation/adaptation. Why don’t you try that?”

    Sure, I gotta lot to say about mitigation/adaptation. For you I repeat myself (just like I repeat my warnings) without any hope (I don’t need no hope, no faith, no love anyway, hehe, but I love entertainment):

    I take care of MY fuckin Karma as I don’t have any wealth -> power to save the planet and shit, as I said a million times, I’m just a transit passenger. a nobody (lucky, lucky me^^). I don’t drive a car, I don’t fly, I eat vegan, I stay away from sick consumerism like hell, the less I need the more I am free and I didn’t procreate and I practise to let go more and more the more I feel, see and hear. That’s the perfect mitigation/adaption plan for ME. You got mitigation/adaptation plans for OTHERS, for the WORLD? Well then, go out and teach others, teach the world how to save the world from hell and let’s see what happens, all thumbs up :)

  47. 347
    alan2102 says:

    307 nigelj 23 Jun 2019 at 7:57 PM

    “I’m hoping people consider and value these things [externalities] and not just look at the crude price in the shop.”

    Wrong approach. Won’t happen. People will shop for price. And who can blame them?

    The correct approach is to build the externalities back in to the price, just as is now being discussed wrt carbon. The whole idea of taxing carbon is a matter of building the externalities back into the “pump price”, then let market forces and free choice adjust as they will. It is a good idea, and indispensable. Not the solution to all problems, but very good.

    Our whole system has been perverted, for many decades, by wrong pricing, by the failure to build externalities in to price. That is why we have the crazy unwalkable urban environments, and crazy over-dependence on personal automobiles, and crazy everything else. And it is also (mostly) why organic foods cost more than conventional.

    “Farmers tend to be a bit conservative. However I’m not sure why a transition would need to be painfully slow. Why would it? Whats bothering you?”

    Nothing. I did not say that conversion of agriculture (toward sustainability) has to be “painfully slow”. I only said that conventional industrial agriculture cannot be dismantled overnight. In retrospect, that was sort of idiotic, since OF COURSE it cannot be dismantled overnight! The very idea is absurd.

  48. 348
    alan2102 says:

    316 nigelj 25 Jun 2019 at 5:31 PM

    “So a bit of capitalism is OK apparently. Yet when I say we need to be more sustainable and have better ecological goals, but will still need some capitalism in the mix, I get slammed.”

    I’m not slamming you. I said up thread that capitalism is a great system for increasing the productive capacity of humankind. I meant that. It IS great for that.

    Some places in the world need MORE capitalism; Africa in particular. It is needed for rapid development, an urgent priority there. However, that said, it can also be a much smarter capitalism than that of past centuries; smarter in several ways, including vastly better technology. Also, it needs to be done with care and within a modern social democratic (“socialistic”) context, which is also much smarter.

    Other places need LESS capitalism, or abolition of capitalism. The U.S., the OECD. Perhaps China as of about now. China’s allowance for capitalistic development has probably accomplished nearly all that it needs to accomplish, and it is time to move on, or nearly (next decade or two, say). Capitalism is needed for development to a point; then it needs to be left behind or drastically curtailed.

    305 nigelj 23 Jun 2019 at 7:27 PM

    “Why…do you think China abandoned socialism for capitalism (at least a form of quasi capitalism)?”

    It did not abandon socialism; it is still (by far!) a socialist nation; the government owns practically everything; etc. etc. (full explanation would require many words).

    The leadership at the time — Deng et al, circa 1980 — believed that more-rapid development and modernization was essential at that historic moment, and it is not hard to see why, with China as retarded as it was (still poor even after the huge advancements of the Mao era).

    It is still debated whether or not this was the right thing to do — a very difficult question and I am still grappling with it myself. One day I can convince myself that Deng-ism was a wrong turn and they should have stayed with Mao-style peasant- and rural-oriented development along more-strict socialist lines. Other days I can convince myself of the opposite. Maoists would regard me as a revisionist and reactionary (a right-wing deviant and enemy of the people!) for giving Deng so much benefit of the doubt.

    If they had gone the slower Mao way, their development would be much more green (lower carbon etc.), but at the price of more poverty for longer and many untimely deaths on account of poorer/slower development. The faster Deng way has lifted the whole population up more quickly but at the price of big environmental stresses, and other costs. So you tell me, Nigel, or anyone: which is better?

    Regardless, what’s done is done. They did what they did. It is gratifying though that their commitment to socialism is still strong, and that they have a clear vision for an Ecological Civilization and are taking many concrete steps toward it. In this they are far ahead of the West. Their Confucian ethics, communist ideals, environmental commitments, and non-geopolitical win-win approach to investment and development across the continent bode very well for the planet and its inhabitants. Their developmental work in Africa is highly admirable and in stark contrast to the West’s still extractive colonial mindset and geopolitical dominance orientation. A continuation of Western influence in Africa would see ongoing misery and retardation, thwarted development, out of control fertility and unmanageable population, etc., and that on top of increasing climate stresses making everything much worse. With China, Africa has a real fighting chance.

  49. 349
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @347

    “The whole idea of taxing carbon is a matter of building the externalities back into the “pump price”, then let market forces and free choice adjust as they will. It is a good idea, and indispensable. ”

    Totally agree. I’ve promoted a carbon tax and dividend scheme from when I first heard of the idea. The logic is that if we wait until market forces and / or individual choices to fix the problem it will be so slow the planet will be fried, if it happens at all, so on this basis some form of carbon tax is perfectly justified ideologically to fix a classic market failure. Ditto you could do the same to encourage organic food by taxing conventional food but don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen!

    Carbon tax and dividend does have some good support with the public in The USA, and it’s politicians captured by vested interests who won’t support it.

    BUT individuals and politicians are still going to also have to make ethical choices. A carbon tax scheme is going to effectively cost at least some money, and is also a “new tax” so will only be accepted if people make an ethical decision that mitigating climate change is the right thing to do. It cannot all rest on some cost / benefit analysis. We really have to hope people step up in their environmental ethics, and concern for future generations, and fairly quickly.

    Lincoln freed the slaves because it was the right thing to do, so its ethics, not because of a cost benefit analysis. Not a conscious analysis anyway.

  50. 350
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @348

    “I’m not slamming you. I said up thread that capitalism is a great system for increasing the productive capacity of humankind. I meant that. It IS great for that.”

    I wasn’t really thinking of you when I wrote that.

    “Some places in the world need MORE capitalism; Africa in particular. It is needed for rapid development,…… an urgent priority there. However, that said, it can also be a much smarter capitalism than that of past centuries;…..Other places need LESS capitalism, or abolition of capitalism. The U.S., the OECD. Perhaps China as of about now…. Capitalism is needed for development to a point; then it needs to be left behind or drastically curtailed.”

    Ok that’s interesting to a point. Here’s my take. Lets assume capitalism is defined as free enterprise, private ownership and the profit motive and socialism as largely state ownership and enterprise, so the classic definitions. If anything it’s socialism that can create rapid development, eg the rate of gdp growth in the early Soviet Union and China was amazing, but as I said earlier this STAGNATES and produces poor quality consumer goods. IMHO this is why China transitioned in the 1980s to having a bit more private sector in the mix.

    China has maintained quite high economic growth in recent decades, probably my guess by its unique combination of capitalism and socialism, huge markets hungry for progress, combined with the leader having absolute power and being a benevolent dictator, and really well educated. Its not a bad system, but god help them if a monster was to somehow gain the leadership.

    I simply don’t believe its a question of one system or the other being appropriate and at different stages of development. It might have been in the past, but the smart thing to do now and in the future is to combine the best of capitalism and socialism as Scandinavia does. Have free markets and private ownership of industry and farms, but government ownership of strategic core assets like education and health, and possibly things like electricity lines networks, and the resource base, such as minerals, and then people apply for extraction rights. Its not perfect but its workable in the real world. It does rely on strong rule of law and good ethics to work.

    I also don’t think that us going back to collectively owned farms as in Mao’s China are likely to produce good environmental outcomes. They didn’t then so why would they now?