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Forced variations: Apr 2020

Filed under: — group @ 1 April 2020

Open thread for climate solutions.

669 Responses to “Forced variations: Apr 2020”

  1. 551
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Zebra: “But do you think they don’t know that? Insecure losers often try to speak over others, and never shut up, because that is the only way anyone will pay attention to them… the only way they ‘exist’. In this context I call it column-inch addiction.”

    So, the goal is to rise from utter insignificance to minor annoyance. Their parents must be so proud.

  2. 552
    Killian says:

    Re #540 Richard Creager said Killian @525 just fyi, fungi are microbes. i’m guessing your basic microbiological knowledge could be upgraded.

    Nobody but dipshits walk around pointing at mushrooms and calling them microbes. So, we call a compost tea that is dominated by fungi, fungal, and not dominated by fungi, microbial. This is JARGON, and COLLOQUIAL language.

    Maybe you should learn the jargon and STFU till you do.

  3. 553
    Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    Humans are not “mediocre”, unless you have knowledge of other entities that could write what you just wrote.

    If that was praise for my writing, z, I appreciate it. But it’s not false modesty for me to insist I’m mediocre compared to lots of better writers I’ve read, some on this very blog. And AFAIK, even the best writers aren’t read outside the Solar System yet 8^).

    z:

    Or, however unfortunate the application, that could light the fire of the stars.

    However unfortunate the engineering of thermonuclear fusion turns out to be for human society and Earth’s biosphere, we’re far from outshining even our own star, which we know to be unremarkable within our galaxy, which we know to be unremarkable within the Local Group.

    z:

    We are entities that have the potential… far from achieved in the aggregate, but certainly demonstrated by individuals… to transcend being very clever monkeys. Natural selection produced that.

    Well, I’m hung up on “transcend”. Homo sapiens certainly outnumbers monkeys. We’re proficient at some goal-directed behaviors (golf!) that bonobos, the species most like our own, perform poorly if at all. “Cleverness”, OTOH, is always relative, and we get to choose the metric: there’s no cosmic grade book. We say our species is cleverer than Pan paniscus, but how clever is that really? We – well, so far just a few of us, and not scalably yet – can engineer sub-atomic particles to meet quotidian desires for home heating. OTOH, we – yes, all of us – are currently transferring fossil carbon to the climatically-active pool by the tens of gigatons annually, just because we can. Admittedly I have no knowledge of any monkeys doing that. To say humans are capable of halting the rise of GMST short of global mass casualties (ignoring for now the toll already attributable to AGW), however, is to go beyond the evidence, because we haven’t done it yet. Thus neither the eventual dollar cost nor the toll of premature death, directly and indirectly, from heatwaves, superstorms, crop failures and what have you are known, except that they’re already greater than zero. Meh, the Great Oxygenation Event was a bigger deal than AGW. Besides, there are other planets in the Milky Way. Pity about Earth’s present biosphere, though.

    I suppose “mediocrity” could stand additional disambiguation. PZ Myers encapsulates the mediocrity principle as “you’re not special”. Another way to say it is “it’s nothing personal”. Your private needs and wishes only count in other organic minds, and few enough of those. Similarly, the accessibility of fossil carbon to human demand for supplemental (i.e. non-food) energy is due to invariant physical laws, not divine providence. Still another way to summarize the principle is “nothing’s perfect”. Things could always be better from someone’s PoV! I, for one, would prefer not to have so many invasive alien plants growing on my property. Alas, their ancestors arrived on it before I did, and it looks like they’re here to stay. Nobody but me cares, anyway. I wanna be a better writer, but I’m constrained by my genetic endowment and developmental trajectory, which I have no way to change after the fact. I’d like to live longer, maybe not forever but at least a couple hundred more years; and compressed terminal morbidity sucks. So sorry: our eventual deaths, tediously presaged for many of us by declining faculties, are ordained by “entropy”. The point is that we are all absolutely constrained within mediocre limits by the physical laws that emerged from the only truly singular phenomenon, which we call with irony the “Big Bang”. That too was mediocre, since to the best of our verified knowledge only human minds have ever thought about it; and because human minds evolved by natural selection, they are only more or less mediocre!

    Verily I say unto you, my friends ;^D: there can be no salvation nor redemption from existential mediocrity, because there is no way to transcend invariant physical law except within our minds. There is no escape for you or any other putatively sentient entity from the limits of spacetime, within which everything is comparatively mediocre, and outside of which nothing is knowable. Any belief otherwise is transparent self-deception, to be shaved away by Occam’s Razor. If that seems less than perfect to many humans, including me TBH, deal 8^(!

    Hard counsel? Don’t worry, this isn’t EST. If you’ve read this far, it’s OK to get up and relieve your bladder.

  4. 554
    Ken Fabian says:

    I can’t see the modest and tech frugal lifestyle, with or without Permaculture (or perhaps Cradle to Cradle), being hugely – overwhelmingly – popular. Extravagant wastefulness with an enduring absence of responsibility or accountability remains much more popular. Without the clear lines of emissions accountability – and the popularity of that circumstance – what is popular will keep winning.

    Nor do I see any emerging political unanimity for doing things that are easy and don’t require deep planning, like accountability via carbon pricing, let alone doing things that are hard and do, like just-use-nuclear all the way to zero global emissions. In that absence – in between going stone age (and being taken less seriously for that purity) and waiting for the supposed post scarcity nuclear golden age – there is RE, giving us things that we CAN do that may not be perfect but take us in the general direction we need to go. My choice to spend money on PV and Li-Fe-Po batteries rather than (pre pandemic) family holidays in Europe or USA looks quite reasonable to me and telling me these technologies do not work… doesn’t work.

    There are going to be real resource limits but I think supply constraints will come signaled well in advance – reliably by markets rather than unreliably by pundits; we are approaching limits that efficiency of exploitation heavily industrialised economies cannot stay forever ahead of. It won’t be a problem specific to RE, any more than the emissions of manufacturing are specific to RE and not something applying to all manufacturing. But the way RE grows – mass manufacture of components, multiple independent projects with fast construction and assembly times – it will be flexible in the face of them. Innovation is ongoing – eg Li-Ion battery prices going from around US$1200 per kWh to $150 in a decade – shows how wrong to look at past costs to predict future ones, let alone for pundits to use them as cautionary tales. The costs of the materials and energy to make them is included in that price.

    100% RE “plans” will be aspirational, not set in stone and I would not trust any that claim to know how the zero emissions endgame plays out – any more than I would trust any 100% nuclear “plan”, even if the mainstream political parties that claim it to be superior actually had such a plan and committed to it – which they mostly don’t and haven’t.

    Our muddling along (actually a lot of committed and serious R&D and entrepreneurial and policy planning effort in the face of obstruction) is doing much better than expected and is now meeting and beating the denier inspired bottom line of fixing the problem having to be cheaper (up front, no climate accountability) than NOT fixing the problem. And that is undercutting the economic alarmist fear of transition to zero emissions that has been the most potent FUD weapon of opponents of climate responsibility; if the Conservative Right ever do abandon Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking and face up to the climate problem head on it will be in large part because of the unexpected successes of renewable energy.

  5. 555
    Killian says:

    The new astrology
    By fetishising mathematical models, economists turned economics into a highly paid pseudoscience

    …Yet when mathematical theory is the ultimate arbiter of truth, it becomes difficult to see the difference between science and pseudoscience. The result is people… who trust the mathematical exactitude of theories without considering their performance – that is, who confuse math with science, rationality with reality.

    There is no longer any excuse for making the same mistake with economic theory. For more than a century, the public has been warned, and the way forward is clear. It’s time to stop wasting our money and recognise the high priests for what they really are: gifted social scientists who excel at producing mathematical explanations of economies, but who fail, like astrologers before them, at prophecy.

    https://aeon.co/amp/essays/how-economists-rode-maths-to-become-our-era-s-astrologers?__twitter_impression=true

  6. 556
    zebra says:

    #553 Mal Adapted,

    “if that was praise for my writing”

    Gosh no, Mal, and had it been, I would have had to withdraw it after your rambling stream-of-semi-consciousness response. ;^)

    You really are doing a poor job of addressing my point, though. Humans are certainly “special” within the category of organisms on this planet with respect to specific characteristics. In fact, we have the capacity to transcend “natural” selection itself, which is one of the major factors prompting my yet unanswered question:

    What is it that we want to ‘sustain’?

    My inclination is to see “being human” as doing categories of stuff, some of which we perhaps can’t yet imagine as possible, which our fellow critters can’t. So, sustaining that potential would get my vote; it is not at all incompatible with salmon runs. However, trying to be more like the termites has little appeal.

  7. 557

    #554, Ken Fabian–

    Well-said, IMHO.

  8. 558
    Richard Creager says:

    Killian @552. Guess I should have said “The fungi in compost tea are microbes” in direct response to your statement, so as not to confuse you. Sorry. Your JARGON is indeed quite COLLOQUIAL, especially the ‘dipshit’ and STFU portions. I’m guessing your knowledge of basic personal interaction could be upgraded.

  9. 559
    nigelj says:

    Ken Fabian @4, you get my vote, except that there’s a difference between waste in the sense of greedy over consumption and waste, in the sense of just dumping stuff in the ground or burning it. Dumping stuff in landfills and burning them is where 90% of our resources end up with only 10% recycled, according to studies, and the dumping problem is perhaps the easier one to solve, for example Sweden is doing well with reducing landfill waste.

  10. 560
    nigelj says:

    “The new astrology. By fetishising mathematical models, economists turned economics into a highly paid pseudoscience….and recognise the high priests for what they really are: gifted social scientists who excel at producing mathematical explanations of economies, but who fail, like astrologers before them, at prophecy.”

    Right conclusions, but it’s not the maths modelling that is wrong per se, or even the science, its the input assumptions that people always behave rationally etc. That’s why economic predictions often fail:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/05/economics-global-crash-human-behaviour

    Just we need to be careful not to undermine maths based modelling as such. It’s part of all science these days including climate science and is very useful.

  11. 561
  12. 562
    Ken Fabian says:

    nigelj – like Permaculture, Cradle to Cradle looks good if widely adopted, the former at the consumer end, Cradle to Cradle for industry. For those not familiar, the idea is to divide our resources into biological and technical “nutrients” and fully recycle both, choosing (or developing) the latter for their capability to be recycled fully, back to original quality rather than “downcycled”, in imitation of the biological. Waste becomes the nutrients for future uses (Waste Equals Food). Which, for the biological, Permaculture looks like an attempt to make work at local and domestic scale.

    Ideally global stocks of fully recyclable polymers, metals and other “technical nutrients” are built up and, even if higher cost initially, should be cheaper to use as recycle stocks grow. I think those trying to make C2C work are finding the biological materials easier to develop and recycle, including in place of “technical nutrients” like polymers than recycling to original quality.

    Like all the solutions to sustainability it sounds great hypothetically but applying it at the scales needed remains unlikely so long as responsibility is optional – and responsibility avoidance remains cheaper (up front) as well as popular enough to elect governments that enable it.

    Without clear lines and rules of accountability – without effective, competent, uncorrupt governance – it looks unlikely to be taken up at overwhelming scale without governments making it a requirement. I suspect we could get a lot more downcycles – if not full recycles – if existing materials can be sorted and recycled separately but materials chosen for full recyclability would be the ideal. What we have is a world where cheap and dirty reliably outcompetes clean and sustainable.

    The politics has been perversely intractable; I suspect RE may have been given early support because it was expected NOT to work – and nuclear (pre Fukushima and plummeting wind and solar costs) not supported because, if committed to at extreme scales, would. CCS is supported because it won’t work (with 3 times as much CO2 to capture and sequester than the mass of fuels burned and no making that cost effective at scale), Hydrogen because it is far off.

    But RE’s successes are changing that deep reluctance to commit – alarmist economic fear of aggressive climate action is diminishing in the face of ever cheaper wind, solar and now batteries. For that disruption to an unsustainable and dangerous status quo alone Wind and Solar get thumbs up from me. Then it gets thumbs up again because it is thumbing it’s nose at the denier inspired “action must not cost more up front than inaction” bottom line.

    Unfortunately I think for Business lobby groups and their political rhetoric that bottom line is not even “must not cost more for businesses on average” but (in that way that deliberate misinterpretations are so commonly used) really means “must not cost more for ANY business” including those engaged directly with fossil fuels. So the ability for RE to be lower cost – up front and without counting the very climate externalities that the whole issue is about – is even more significant.

    I do think it is unreasonable to expect RE manufacturing to be bound to very high standards when other manufacturing remains exempt; carbon pricing or some variant is the missing element that binds all manufacturing. I can suggest carbon pricing imposed at the mineheads, suggest starting it low and inexorably raising it – not to reduce energy demand by consumers but to induce investment in low emissions generation by energy companies. I can suggest reactive, variable time of use electricity pricing that makes the value of stored energy – or of demand shifting – more explicit. I can suggest regulation and mandated recyclablity but these are hardly novel notions. So long as mainstream politics is infected with climate responsibility denial – the science denial IMO merely a means of justification – we will need wind and solar and batteries and pumped hydro and demand management and load shedding by agreement to continue to get more cost effective. I do think the technologies are still capable of getting a lot cheaper – and because of climate responsibility denial within mainstream politics and governance, we won’t do it at the scales needed unless it does.

  13. 563
    Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    “if that was praise for my writing”

    Gosh no, Mal, and had it been, I would have had to withdraw it after your rambling stream-of-semi-consciousness response. ;^)

    That’ll teach me.

    z:

    You really are doing a poor job of addressing my point, though. Humans are certainly “special” within the category of organisms on this planet with respect to specific characteristics. In fact, we have the capacity to transcend “natural” selection itself, which is one of the major factors prompting my yet unanswered question:

    What is it that we want to ‘sustain’?

    I’m addressing my point, you’re responsible for your own. That said, I may have a clue what you’re on about. I’m stumbling over the mystical connotations of transcendent: “Beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience.” It’s often used by people who think humans are especially beloved of the cosmos. I’m pretty sure you’re not one of them, however. If by transcend you merely mean incrementally relax the stringency of, OK. It’s, like, all relative, dude!

    I offer one criterion for sustainability: no elevation of global extinction rate above the pre-Homo sapiens background (which isn’t well-characterized yet, to be sure). With so much of Earth’s surface appropriated for our demands, we’ve squeezed out a lot of species. We count dwindling numbers of multiple others. We expect countless taxa to fall, unmarked, with the dusky seaside sparrow. IMHO, any anthropogenic extinction rate is unsustainable in the long term, because we’ll never know just what we’re losing!

    Can we agree that sustainability starts with a stable human population? I’ll grant the recent halving of global TFR in 50 years is “special”, i.e. superlative for the purpose of sustainability. It’s not due to K-selection, because it happened within two generations. But a stable population of any size hardly guarantees a sustainable global economy, as long as per-capita wealth increases. Nor will it necessarily bring anthropogenic extinction to zero. Sustaining biodiversity will be easier with a shrinking population, but of course that makes “sustainability” oxymoronic in the long run! I agree with nigelj: a foraging economy, for a maximum number of people below natural carrying capacity (whatever that turns out to be) without consigning any other species to extinction, is probably sustainable as long TFR stays at replacement rate and total wealth doesn’t increase. IMHO such a global society is difficult to imagine, but as you say, we’re a superlative (i.e. relatively less mediocre) species. Too bad neither you nor I get to find out if we’re superlative enough.

  14. 564
    James Charles says:

    This ‘economist’ uses inductive, rather than, deductive reasoning.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5Ac7ap_MAY

  15. 565
    Killian says:

    Re #560 nigelj spewed Right conclusions, but it’s not the maths modelling that is wrong per se

    Nowhere in the article was that claim even made.

    You understand nothing.

  16. 566
    Killian says:

    Re #516 nigelj spluttered KILLIAN, YOU OWE ME A HUGE APOLOGY.

    You’re a lying, self-contradicting rock; I owe you nothing.

    This is what I have said @494:

    Cherry picking fool.

    However he does seem to permit

    Permit? PERMIT? Idiot.

    ‘some’

    Some? Idiot. What does that even mean? Drivel.

    he’s never specific on just what, or how much, so its completely nebulous and unhelpful. He mentioned a communications backbone….but does this include cellphones, all phones, how many per 1000 people? ….etc….”

    Truly a moron. I’ve covered this point dozens of times with you, I’d guess. But you’re a moronic liar.

    So you can see have not suggested you reject all use of technology, or misundertood your idea.

    Yes, you absolutely have. Remember caveman, dipshit, and all the other ways and times you tried to claim I am AGAINST technology? Don’t “like” technology? Etc.? You’re a useless little twit.

    Just that you 1) criticise modern technology so much it creates the impression you reject it all

    Bullshit. That is the first time you’ve phrased it that way. And the impression is in your own miniscule mind. Over and over and over I’ve discussed the Bridge Technologies and Appropriate Technology concepts and told you – god only knows how many times – DETAILS must be worked out locally, regionally, bio-regionally.

    Liar and moron.

    you lack clarity and specificity on exactly what technology you accept, and how much of it.

    How can I have clarity on a Straw Man argument? What technology have I EVER rejected? None. Stupid liar.

    Which is actually kinda really important.

    Yeah, that you’re an idiot and a liar really is. You do not belong here.

  17. 567
    Killian says:

    Re #528 Barton Paul Levenson said nigel 516: KILLIAN, YOU OWE ME A HUGE APOLOGY.

    BPL: Good luck with that. People with NPD never apologize.

    The irony of you accusing others…

    Shush. Go do your math. You’re useless here other than that.

  18. 568
    Killian says:

    Re #529 Kevin McKinney said 514: It could work like that, except you knew what you were doing because you aren’t stupid. You made an assumption and got called on it.

    No, my comment wasn’t based on an assumption, but an assertion.

    You didn’t watch it. It’s an assumption.

    I’m saying that Gibbs doesn’t deal with the timeframe/climate issue adequately with respect to our current situation.

    Again, you have no idea what he deals with, you didn’t watch it.

    And you are making a Straw Man argument because he makes no attempt to address it at all. He only states the solutions being foisted on society are not solutions. He never addresses time lines because that was not a point of the movie. You know better than to confuse absence for evidence. At least I thought so.

    And, OUR time frames are not necessarily his.

    If he fails to recognize the urgency of the day

    That’s rich given you don’t and he never even addressed the issue.

    that’s a still more damning critique of the film than anything else.

    No, it damns you for extending an assumption via a Straw Man to draw a bullshit conclusion. There is no reason for the movie to have to address that issue. It wasn’t attempting to. Why should he please you? You won’t even watch the film.

    Yours sure as hell aren’t mine; you *still* get the risk assessment and response wrong.

    I think, based upon other comments you’ve made, that you think that I don’t understand the urgency, either. But I think it’s the other way around.

    Jesus fucking Christ…. you think you have till 2050 just to get to carbon neutral.

    Back at #497, you wrote:

    Potentially 1,000,000 “ecovillages” is 20 years. 50 years would be dead easy.

    Which is wonderful, and I fervently hope it happens; I’m not putting forth what I think is a wonderful communicative tool about regenerative ag and about ecological literacy for the joy of the recreational typing involved. (Far too much of the latter already, I know.) But that’s 2040 and 2070, respectively, and if we haven’t already decarbonized a *lot* by then, we’re screwed

    What is wrong with your head? 1,000,000 ecovillages all sequestering carbon after having first reduced the carbon footprints of 150,000,000 to 1,000,000,000 people? And provided models for the rest of humanity? And you think the rest of the world will just sit on their asses as hundreds of of millions of people – or more – show them the pathway to a sustainable, comfortable, just future?

    Jesus… you’re sounding like nigel…

    we need 2 tracks: ‘flattening the curve’ on carbon and other urgent planet wreckers, and transformation to bring our culture into better alignment with natural systems and limits.

    You have never understood the regenerative revolution is both of those at the same time. You just don’t get it.

    Were I to buy that farm, based on my limited viewing so far, I can tell you I’d turn those monocultures into silvopastures or Food Forests – assuming the analysis of the site remains unchanged after watching the little I have so far.

    No, Apricot Lane doesn’t do monocultures. Those trees are emphatically not all the same species, and there is also a diverse understory. But maybe you’ve watched enough additional footage by now to know that.

    I haven’t seen the film, as I said, but what was in the interview is not what you describe. I hope you are correct and the footage was out of date.

    Bottom line: the movie is *very* highly recommended, even for those with zero interest in doing something like this themselves. Just the onscreen manifestation of ecological reality is fundamental, and I think would be revelatory to many. It’s one thing to *hear* ecological concepts, or *read* about them; it’s quite another to see them in action (and with people’s dearest dreams on the line, albeit deliberately kept in the background.)

    No, Mollison’s Global Gardener series is much more valuable as an introduction to regenerative possibilities. It explains the possibilities across the basic types of ecosystems and shows you them.

    BLF is a cheerleading piece, mostly for those who can’t get inspired by intelligence and data and need to be convinced by advertising. Given most fall in the 2nd category, it definitely serves a good puprpose.

  19. 569
    Killian says:

    Re #530 Kevin McKinney said :-/ Compost tea: This is vague.

    They aren’t doing a tutorial in this interview. John Chester also stated a detailed knowledge of the micro-organisms in that tea, and Molly Chester talked about the trouble it takes to get the mix consistently correct.

    Wrong is wrong. People often misapply tech out of ignorance. And it’s just not hard to “some compost teas,” or “this compost tea” or “our compost tea.”

    ****These people started with a LOT of money. This is not how the world will change.*****

    That’s subjective, I suppose, but not how I see it: they were living in a tiny apartment and only made the project happen by dint of finding a third-party investor enthusiastic about the vision. Presumably they both made money at “professional” sorts of levels, but that’s not what most people mean by “a LOT.”

    Trust me, they started with a LOT of money. Such farms are in my wheelhouse, and you simply don’t do what they’ve done as fast as they have and ay for the expertise they did without a LOT of money.

    And if they’d had a lot of money, they wouldn’t have needed an investor.

    Huh? WTH do you think I was talking about? LOL.

    (And by the way, just to clarify, a big part of their success was apparently a genius for team-building: toward the end of the Roll interview, there’s a discussion about what’s basically an apprentice program

    Yes, and free slaves. Woofers. I get tired of farms that claim profitqability and refuse to pay people. If you can’t pay them, you’re not viable. Or you’re selfish pricks. It matters that they do not, and assumably cannot, run the farm with fully paid staff.

    Woofers are for when you *need* free help just to survive.

    and about full-time staff. So it’s not been just the Chesters doing their thing the whole time.

    It takes no genius to get woofers or to get people to work if you pay them. Whatever genius they have, the points you raise have little to do with it.

    If your point is simply that you think they’d have had an easier time given an initial permaculture course, you may well be right, and they might well agree.

    Pretty clearly, yes, that was my point.

    But it’s a counterfactual at this point.

    It *can’t* be, by definition. I am proposing something that can’t happen, but which can be surmised based on the principles of permaculture.

    How many time has one of you here made the absurd, irrational comment that, essentially, if it’s not politically or economically acceptable, it’s not a solution? How many times have I pointed out that is irrational? The answer is not to fit nature into your constructs, but to fit your constructs to align with nature.

    I do take your point; ultimately, constructs must indeed be aligned with nature, or they will fail much sooner than need be. Agreed.

    But that doesn’t mean that politically or economically untenable strategies suddenly or magically become “solutions,” especially in tight timeframes. Once again, we must start where we are.

    Not when you don’t have time to.

    That’s my whole point with proximate goals of decarbonization.

    As COVID-19 has shown, proximate goals with regard to carbon are best met by just stopping, as I have long stated would be, and always will be, the case. The best carbon molecule is the one never used in the first place.

  20. 570
    Killian says:

    Re #532 Kevin McKinney said In the film, John Chester deliberately put the focus more on the concepts and natural relationships as they were lived than on the people who lived them. But it’s still probably fair to say that his and Molly’s quest together was a quest to discover what ‘aligned with nature’ really meant in their chosen place and context, and in concrete practice.

    That is what it *always* is. As you’ve been told for a decade. Sadly, they have not been educated as well as they might, or things might have changed on that farm even faster; he’s flatly wrong when he equates various approaches and techniques with permaculture. Biodynamics is in now way, shape or form a design process, e.g., so there are definitely gaps in his understanding of things. But, more than one way to get to regenerative.

  21. 571
    Killian says:

    Re #534 nigelj said This looks like a massively exaggerated, implausible, and without peer reviewed citations

    You truly are a moron.

    “But one must have a decision-making process that reflects the needs of the planet first and foremost, and only permaculture does that within the “modern” world.”

    No the decision making process should put immediate human survival, health, and food on the table first

    You truly are a moron.

    The way I see it, the sustainable use of resources is surely a subset of wider forms of sustainability

    You truly are a moron.

  22. 572
    Killian says:

    Re #562 Ken Fabian said like Permaculture, Cradle to Cradle looks good if widely adopted, the former at the consumer end, Cradle to Cradle for industry.

    Please explain why we need industry if it is unsustainable. That is, with a regenerative future in mind, please explain why and how you seek to prop up industry.

    BTW, cradle to cradle is redundant. Permaculture does it much better. And to say permaculture is only applied to end users is a false dichotomy. You don’t seem to have a clear grasp of permaculture.

    For those not familiar, the idea is to divide our resources into biological and technical “nutrients” and fully recycle both, choosing (or developing) the latter for their capability to be recycled fully, back to original quality rather than “downcycled”, in imitation of the biological.
    Waste becomes the nutrients for future uses (Waste Equals Food).

    Yeah. We call that permacuture: Zero Waste, closed loops, every output an input, every element supported by multiple others. 40-year-old news.

    Which, for the biological, Permaculture looks like an attempt to make work at local and domestic scale.

    That’s a nonsensical statement. You are beginning to seem to be completely ignorant of what permaculture design is. for the biological? That phrase doesn’t even make sense.

    Without clear lines and rules of accountability – without effective, competent, uncorrupt governance

    Regenerative Governance.

    but materials chosen for full recyclability would be the ideal.

    Careful, you’ll make nigel angry considering a simplified world.

    For that disruption to an unsustainable and dangerous status quo alone Wind and Solar get thumbs up from me.

    I understand the false framing of the carbon part of the argument, but neither wind nor solar are sustainable, so the above is nonsensical. Wind and solar do not move us into sustainability or anywhere near it. (I won’t bother arguing with you about whether they can result in a safer level of GHGs.) So, if sustainability is your measure, what is it you think is accomplished by replacing unsustainable with unsustainable?

  23. 573
    Al Bundy says:

    Killian to Nigel: Nowhere in the article was that claim even made. You understand nothing.

    AB: Yep, the article LACKED the wise point Nigel brought up. Fortunately Nigel DOES understand “nothing”, aka “what’s missing from the analysis”, so he pointed it out.

    As expected, you don’t understand “nothing” even when Nigel explained it to you.

    You’re ever so Special, K.

  24. 574
    nigelj says:

    Killian @565 “Re #560 nigelj spewed Right conclusions, but it’s not the maths modelling that is wrong per se…..Nowhere in the article was that claim even made….You understand nothing.”

    Can you not see that the article, especially the part you quoted will create the impression with the average person that math’s modelling is inherently wrong, unreliable or whatever? No, I guess you just can’t, or don’t want to.

  25. 575
    nigelj says:

    Ken Fabian @562, I see it all much the same way.

    Recycling at scale does indeed require good governance. It appears Sweden recycles well, as a result of some sort of combination of a generally responsible attitude from the population and business sector and government assistance such as tax incentives and other rules, which is enabled by a supportive population. But it is an exception. It looks like Americas partisan divisions and many peoples deep suspicion of government power stands in the way of good governance.

    https://sweden.se/nature/the-swedish-recycling-revolution/
    https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/sweden-s-recycling-is-so-revolutionary-the-country-has-run-out-of-rubbish-a7462976.html

    Renewables in places like America probably got initial support due to a combination of genuinely sympathetic politicians and those who thought they would never work anyway so nothing to loose. Their development does indeed rely a lot on falling prices in places like America where business and certain political parties are exceptionally hostile to things like carbon taxes, however I prefer to be a bit optimistic that the next president might be sympathetic to expanded government programmes. The UK government has had good programmes that have lead to replacement of a lot of coal fired power with renewables, and what strikes me is it doesn’t require all that much in way of taxes and subsidies to make a significant difference.

  26. 576
    nigelj says:

    Mal Adapted @563

    “Can we agree that sustainability starts with a stable human population?”

    Just been discussing this elsewhere with someone, as follows paraphrasing: A Sustainable Total Population is is a good idea, but needs development. The 12 billion total global population quoted in the research as sustainable is a maximum. No reason is given to maximise population. We should be looking at a minimum sustainable population and research suggests 2 billion people as below (just a couple of examples form a quick google search, not suggesting they are perfect examples). Obviously this reduces all environmental pressures other things being equal, and provided we can also encourage people to stabilise or reduce consumption a bit, to counter the inherent jevons paradox problem.

    news.stanford.edu/pr/94/940711Arc4189.html

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/apr/26/world-population-resources-paul-ehrlich

  27. 577
    zebra says:

    #563 Mal Adapted,

    But are you saying that minimizing anthropogenic extinction of other species is the goal, or is it a necessary condition for humans to continue to exist as a species?

    Again, I’m trying to get a starting point, which you are not providing:

    What do we want to sustain?

    I think I’ve been pretty clear that I want to sustain the capacity for humans to continue to be curious and creative, which means science and technology will result in change.

    Are you willing to actually state that you want to ‘sustain’ humans as plug-and-chug mindless drones, simply so that the genetic pattern that produces our physical form will continue to reproduce?

    Why? What is so ‘special’ about that particular form of ape, that it should be preserved? Is it having less hair than all the others, or what?

  28. 578
    Mal Adapted says:

    Ken Fabian:

    So long as mainstream politics is infected with climate responsibility denial – the science denial IMO merely a means of justification – we will need wind and solar and batteries and pumped hydro and demand management and load shedding by agreement to continue to get more cost effective. I do think the technologies are still capable of getting a lot cheaper – and because of climate responsibility denial within mainstream politics and governance, we won’t do it at the scales needed unless it does.

    Your comment is incisive, Ken, thank you. I’m with you: the obstacles to decarbonization aren’t technical or even economic, but political. They are erected by the individuals, family foundations and corporations with the most wealth to lose when the world stops buying fossil carbon.

    IOW, the problem of anthropogenic climate change is up to voters, in the USA most of all, to solve. I’m hopeful but not confident we will. My fellow Americans, if you can’t bring yourself to vote Blue this November, please don’t vote at all! A national government that doesn’t actually deny science will undoubtedly still be mediocre, but a superlative step in the right direction. I’m afraid that’s all the inspiration I can offer.

  29. 579

    Ken, #152–

    The politics has been perversely intractable; I suspect RE may have been given early support because it was expected NOT to work…

    I have the same suspicion. Kind of shades of “The Producers”–planning to fail, itself fails.

    Be that as it may, the suspicion is supported by the very notable ramping up of anti-RE FUD by the fossil fuel crowd that’s taken place over the last few years. That FUD is characterized by the same obvious lack of good-faith argument seen WRT climate–for example, the demand to end RE subsidies without willingness even to acknowledge the numerous subsidies supporting FF (particular oil). And in many cases, it’s the same ‘usual supects.’

  30. 580

    Killian, #568-70–

    We’re going in circles here. Moving on.

  31. 581
    Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    What is so ‘special’ about that particular form of ape, that it should be preserved? Is it having less hair than all the others, or what?

    Well, good questions. First: it’s not one species or another that’s special to me, it’s Earth’s biosphere, the only one I’m aware of, that emerged from water, rocks and air about 4 billion years before bringing forth first Homo sapiens, then li’l ol’ me. Figuratively speaking, it’s my mom. As for why that’s salient for me, I’m here to tell you I don’t know, except that every boy loves his mom. AFAIK, there’s nothing ‘special’ about my planet’s biosphere on a galactic or greater scale. Yet most of us privately feel we ourselves are special, and some of us will go to unreasonable lengths to preserve that feeling. I’m confident natural selection had something to do with that, but of course human cognitive development is influenced by environmental factors as well. The short take is that no one can convince me my subjective values are wrong, but neither do I claim they’re reproducible in anyone else!

    Here’s what I can tell you so far: To me the biosphere is subjectively neither ‘more’ nor ‘less’ than all species that have ever existed, and their interactions to make ecosystems at microscopic to planetary scale: the ecological theater of the evolutionary play. Digging a little deeper, however, the questions I raised in my first comment in this exchange are: where in my cognitive process – in what layer of my mind – do I assign a quantity of grief to the loss of a single genetically-distinct salmon run? And what total quantity of grief would I assign if all taxa but those economically valuable to H. sapiens (that would be moi) vanished into deep time? IOW, how much is biodiversity for its own sake actually worth to me?

    I want an intersubjectively verifiable answer, but can’t say I’m making much progress. I feel existentially entitled to ask those questions, because my subjective valuation of ‘nature’ (to reify the totality of life on Earth, together with the universe in which it arose) has influenced my choices from childhood. And because subjective values in aggregate have quantitative consequences for the only known planetary biosphere. OTOH, I expect all realistic answers to be mediocre ;^).

  32. 582

    #581, Mal–

    A ‘mediocre’ answer: value arises from life. A rock–we presume, at least–has no value for itself, whereas life does (based on the behavioristic criterion that all lifeforms attempt, with high degrees of consistency, to preserve their own existence.)

    Hence, the biosphere is the source for not only your values, or mine, but all Earthly value whatever. That should be intersubjectively pretty verifiable, no?

  33. 583
    nigelj says:

    Killian @566 claims I accuse him of being anti modern technology. I did last year, after he wrote thousands of words being extremely critical of modern technology. So did AB and Alan1000. Naturally I thought he had abandoned the “technology bridge idea”. Explained this to him at least TWICE, and I know he read those posts, yet he STILL doesn’t or wont get it.

    Killian says that the details of a technology backbone can only be worked out locally or bioregionally and that hes pointed out this to me before. Yes he has, and I don’t agree, as Ive said before. It should be possible to at least provide some specifics at global level, not the minute detail of course. Regions aren’t so different that you cannot provide at least some specifics. Its just a cop out to claim otherwise.

    Killians response to criticisms of the ideas he posts and the Moore / Gibbs movie consist mostly of calling people idiots, rhetorical hand waving, and accusations that people are lying or are acting in bad faith. Any actual facts, evidence and peer reviewed research are mostly absent.

    Killian @565 and elsewhere talks about various farms adopting this regenerative agriculture and simplified approach yet they look like a complete mess abusing staff and other problems. They cant even agree amongst themselves. How the hell are we supposed to take the idea seriously?

  34. 584
    nigelj says:

    Talking about sustainability its worth looking at the considerable work the UN has done defining sustainable development goals as below, just in case anyone hasnt looked over these.

    https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

    Not saying I agree with every last bit and there look to be some problems, but its pretty good and reflects the effort of a large team of experts, and so is likely to be better than some single persons view. They also look specifically at WHAT we are trying to sustain (like the point Zebra made although he is talking at the level of what makes humans different and life worth living etc).

    In terms of sustainable consumption my arm chair take is that we need to be 1)living within the ability of the biosphere to regenerate and 2) not wasting and squandering resources, particularly non renewable resources and 3) defining robust and generous minimum acceptable areas for natural resources, eg the Amazon rainforest. However I don’t support low tech ideas very much.

    We obviously wont be able to sustain the use of non renewable resources forever. Sustainability doesn’t have to mean forever. Collins definition “If you sustain something, you continue it or maintain it for a period of time.”

  35. 585
    nigelj says:

    Killian @572 says “Wind and solar do not move us into sustainability or anywhere near it”

    According to other statements he has made neither does nuclear power, hydro power or fossil fuels, so that doesn’t leave much. Is paddle wheel generation ‘sustainable’?

    Your world with no electricity is more ‘sustainable’ in the sense that it will or could last longer, (which is somewhat obvious), but it is a dreary, nothing sort of world I’m really happy to avoid for as long as possible.

    How do you reconcile your technology bridge idea and its electricity use with complaining that it doesn’t get us to sustainability?

    Go live with an indigenous tribe somewhere, and stop bothering everyone else with your incessant drivel.

  36. 586
    zebra says:

    #581 Mal Adapted,

    “I want an intersubjectively verifiable answer.”

    Yes, and I gave you my candidate, which you choose to ignore.

    I realize that my inclination to brevity and clarity is outside the norm here; “getting to the point” means fewer opportunities to consume column inches. But I continue my (mostly fruitless) effort to produce examples of actual rational dialogue for the hypothetical lurker.

  37. 587
    Killian says:

    Re #580 Kevin McKinney said Killian, #568-70–

    We’re going in circles here.

    No, Kevin, your biases are preventing you from learning.

    Moving on.

    AKA avoidant behavior. The renewabled future you dream of is physically impossible. Deep Simplicity solves every problem, but requires you to stop drinking your lattes and engaging in fatuous online conversations about tertiary, or worse, issues while studiously pretending the deep issues you *need* to address are just the ravings of someone you don’t like… even though I say very little what isn’t repeated elsewhere by others you would otherwise listen to.

  38. 588
    nigelj says:

    Another review of the Moore / Gibbs renewables movie: “Michael Moore’s Movie is Garbage”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntB_j-91RFc

    The commentator sounds Australian, its raw, and sounds targeted at a youth audience. He gets it right.

    These two characters have undermined confidence in renewable energy which will give fossil fuels a great boost. It just makes me shake my head in utter despair. According to reviews, the movie also comes across as an attack on the capitalist socio economic system, and is full of worries about looming resource scarcity. Its ironic that its written by a couple of guys who make their money from the capitalist system and who probably drive big SUV’s.

    Their alternative idea of fixing the climate problem with zero population growth is staggeringly naieve and over optimistic. Median estimates of population growth have it increasing to about 10 billion people by the end of this century so too late to stop warming going over 2 degrees. Its clearly possible we could bend that population curve down a bit but there is no evidence that it could be dramatic. Their idea that people will just reduce their energy use by vast amounts is hilariously naieve at best.

    They seem to think resource scarcity will cause some utter catastrophe such that we need to stop using resources NOW. They haven’t thought about what resource scarcity will actually do. Imho it will at worst gradually push developed countries back to a simpler life with less tech. Humanity will adapt because it will have no choice. But if our generation tries to mitigate this by abandoning half our technology or more, and abandon building renewable energy, all we do is delay the point future generations run short of some materials, and probably not by much.

    A better strategy that causes our generation less pain is simply to not be extravagant in our purchasing decisions, and to waste less and recycle more. A lot more. This is known as the circular economy:

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

  39. 589
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra: I’m trying to get a starting point,

    AB: Taking your question on a bit of a tangent, here. I like using a compound question, “What lifestyle do you prefer your grandchildren to have? Are there enough resources for everyone’s grandchildren to enjoy that life?

    Using those two questions I BOTE figure that the optimal population is less than a billion. 250 million seems sweet.

    “Carrying capacity” is the wrong metric. If you were planning a trip would you use Clown Car Capacity calulations?

  40. 590
    Mal Adapted says:

    I’d be remiss to overlook Kevin McKinney at #544:

    Which raises the point that species presumably have some sort of value to themselves. We humans tend to center all value in ourselves, or, slightly more broadly, in attributes we evince and value, notably sapience (however defined). But Mal’s mediocrity principle would suggest that that is, as he says, not necessarily true of “spacetime.” Or other species sharing the Universe with us–or, maybe, any God that there may be.

    Maybe photosynthesis is more valuable, in a cosmic sense, than a clever, busy brain–however much participants here may be inclined to ‘vote’ for the latter.

    Kevin gets it. Except that it’s not my mediocrity principle. PZ Myers introduced me to it, generating an “ahah!” moment for me at the time. It was his submission in response to the question “What scientific concept would improve everyone’s cognitive tool kit?” Myers lays out a concept that’s always been in the universe of ideas, like algebra:

    As someone who just spent a term teaching freshman introductory biology, and will be doing it again in the coming months, I have to say that the first thing that leapt to my mind as an essential skill everyone should have was algebra. And elementary probability and statistics. That sure would make my life easier, anyway — there’s something terribly depressing about seeing bright students tripped up by a basic math skill that they should have mastered in grade school.

    But that isn’t enough. Elementary math skills are an essential tool that we ought to be able to take for granted in a scientific and technological society. What idea should people grasp to better understand their place in the universe?

    His answer is superior to any I can make, even if he’s a sarcastic SOB 8^D. In my mediocre opinion (IMMO), apprehending one’s cosmic mediocrity is a requirement for genuine humility before nature, i.e. for trying not to fool oneself. Failure leads to the Dunning-Kruger effect, and worse. If I wasn’t so humble, I’d say every genuine skeptic arrives at the MP if they work the problem long enough ;^).

  41. 591

    Not really new news–the NY contract discussed in this piece was announced in January–but some good discussion, including some interesting tidbits about how this particular battery works.

    https://www.rechargenews.com/transition/new-zinc-air-battery-is-cheaper-safer-and-far-longer-lasting-than-lithium-ion/2-1-812068

    Bottom line: here comes affordable multiday battery storage, with three commercial pilot plants planned in two nations.

  42. 592
    nigelj says:

    New open access research that might be interesting:”Rapid cost decrease of renewables and storage accelerates the decarbonization of China’s power system”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-16184-x

  43. 593
    nigelj says:

    New open access research: “Combining climate, economic, and social policy builds public support for climate action in the US”

    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab81c1

    This is kinda interesting, because it goes against the view that its better to keep climate policy separate from socioeconomic issues.

  44. 594
    nigelj says:

    Killian @572 says “Wind and solar do not move us into sustainability or anywhere near it”

    The thing is this guy told me at length last year he totally supports some modest level of high technology including wind and solar, and wants to prolong it as long as possible, as a technology bridge or backbone, and doesnt welcome having to adopt a lifestyle approaching that of subsistence farming or hunter gatherer culture with no electricity. Yet here he is complaining about wind and solar, complaining they dont get us to “sustainability” so hes clearly unhappy with wind and solar! I mean WTF?

  45. 595

    Kevin McKinney writes @514:

    Then I could explain, “I never said he did. But in my opinion–and in yours, too, based on past comments–the short timescale we have to address the climate crisis is the essence of the historical predicament we find ourselves in–a predicament that is the essential context for Planet of the Humans. Population control cannot address that crisis in any way that we would find acceptable.”

    Quite right.  And as the status quo cannot and will not continue, we either make hard choices or they are made for us.  One of those choices is “lifeboat ethics or go down with the ship?”  Another is “kick off the collapse now or let things grow bigger?”

    And, I reiterate, Gibbs does not deal with that reality–or so at least I understand, based on the now many thousands of words I’ve read about POTH.

    Gibbs barely gets the conversation started on that.  He broaches the subject, no more.  And not even with a list of disasters staring us in the face.  It’s a baby step, and a timid one at that.

  46. 596

    Kevin McKinney writes @529:

    I think we need 2 tracks: ‘flattening the curve’ on carbon and other urgent planet wreckers, and transformation to bring our culture into better alignment with natural systems and limits.

    Add one more track:  aggressive removal and mineralization of atmospheric CO2.  We could do some of this biologically but sheer magnitude of the task looks like it requires enhanced weathering of rocks like olivine and basalt.

    Bill McKibben says 350 ppm, and he may be optimistic.  One ppmv of CO2 is about 7.8 billion tons, so to get from today’s 417.10 ppm down to 350 ppm by 2050 we’d need to remove 67.1 * 7.8 = about 520 billion tons of CO2, plus everything else that’s emitted in the mean time, plus whatever comes back out of the oceans as they re-equilibrate with the atmosphere.

    Looks like my SWAG of a trillion tons of CO2 requiring 800 billion tons of dunite isn’t all that far off.

  47. 597

    nigelj writes @546:

    But optimism can so easily spill over into reckless abandon. Things like phosphates will simply run out and are hard to replace.

    Phosphate rock precipitates out of seawater.  We can run out of terrestrial phosphate like we can run out of high-grade potash, but the problem is that we just lose them back to the oceans again.  If we get to the point where we can “mine” seawater for K and P the way we do for Mg, we’re golden.

    This goes back to the value of salmon runs.  One of the great ecosystem effects of anadromous fish is that they spend their time growing in the ocean, then swim upstream to spawn carrying all of their minerals like K and P with them.  If you need an argument for re-establishing salmon runs, that’s a good one:  free eco-friendly fertilizer that comes with tasty steaks.

  48. 598

    BPL writes @550:

    Everyone, look up the definition of “ad hominem argument.” E-P has given us a classic example.

    Everyone, remember the adage “he who pays the piper calls the tune.”  If Jacobson wasn’t willing to send the message Precourt wanted sent, Precourt would have had the chair given to someone else.

  49. 599
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The question of whether sustainable societies must include a place for wildlife–for other species–is an old one, extending into antiquity. The Buddhist emperor Ashoka had some interesting thoughts on the issue. It ultimately comes down to two questions?

    Do other species have intrinsic value that must be respected?

    If not, is the presence of other species essential or highly desirable to the well being of humans and our environment?

    Leaving aside the first question (which I tend to answer in the affirmative), there are strong arguments that favor an affirmative answer to the second.

    1) Ecologies form complex interlinking webs that have proven too complicated for us to unravel and understand. It is foolhardy to think we can pick and choose the species that should live and die if we cannot foresee the effects that will result from even small changes.

    2) The world with its amazing diversity of species is the world in which we evolved. Will we ultimately prove fit (mentally, emotionally, physically) for a changed world with less diversity?

    3) Time and again, other species have been sources of drugs, abilities and other valuable commodities that have enhanced peoples’ lives.

    4) Other species are a source of wonder and inspiration for humans going back to at least that of the cave paintings

    To these, I would add another. The very fact that we can ask whether there is “intrinsic value” in the survival of other species demonstrates the hubris of our own species. It is ultimately that hubris that threatens our own survival on this earth. Realizing that other species have a right to exist, independent of the value we place on them may be inherent to our overcoming that hubris, and therefore to our own sirvival.

  50. 600

    Al Bundy writes @589:

    I like using a compound question, “What lifestyle do you prefer your grandchildren to have? Are there enough resources for everyone’s grandchildren to enjoy that life?

    The second half of that question is moot, IMO.  To enjoy a particular lifestyle, someone must produce the requisites.  Those belonging to a society which cannot produce X have no right to X, period.  There are a great number of societies which have extreme difficulty producing things as simple as indoor plumbing.  We need to write them out of our consideration of what resources they “need” for same.

    I am a firm believer in diversity, especially diversity of abilities.  Certain peoples are simply better at some things than other peoples.

    [Response: Basta. Please just stop with this. Keep your ignorance and prejudice to yourself or on other boards that have the time and patience to deal with it. Any further comments along these lines will be deleted without further ado. This one is only left here because others have already responded. I apologise to everyone else for not noticing and acting on this previously. – gavin]