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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. 601
    nigelj says:

    Zebra says “I realize that my inclination to brevity and clarity is outside the norm here;”

    Brevity yes, clarity no.

  2. 602

    Brevity yes, clarity no.

    Oooh, THAT’s going to leave a mark!

  3. 603
    David B. Benson says:

    Engineer-Poet @596 — Bill McKibben arrived at 350 ppm for atmospheric carbon dioxide because that was the figure at which Jim Hansen stated. most of the bad effects will likely be avoided.

    It is not low enough. Think in terms of 250 ppm. If too low it is easy to make the concentration go up a bit, but hard to drive it down.

  4. 604
    zebra says:

    #599 Ray Ladbury,

    ” 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.”

    But Ray, the very fact that we have the capacity to ask that question is what justifies a certain degree of ‘hubris’… as I have been trying to point out to Mal, it is one of the things that makes us ‘special’ among living organisms:

    1. We have the ability, through language and abstraction, to see the universe, and the biosphere here, ‘from outside’. Imperfectly of course, but we are not bound by instinct in our interactions.

    2. We have the ability to modify both the environment and ourselves to forms that would not exist ‘naturally’. (And, yes, to severely alter and perhaps even destroy the biosphere, leaving rudimentary lifeforms with a very long road to re-establishing complexity and diversity.)

    So, if you want to go all Buddha-boy on this question, you have to acknowledge our inherent capacity for ‘divinity, whatever form it might take. We are as Gods on this mediocre little planet.

    My answer to what it is I want to ‘sustain’… is that capacity. Otherwise, what’s the point? What is our role in the web of life?

  5. 605

    E-P 600: I am a firm believer in diversity, especially diversity of abilities. Certain peoples are simply better at some things than other peoples.

    BPL: White people, right? You could probably express it as one of your beloved engineering equations: ability is proportionate to the albedo of the skin. With you defining “ability.”

  6. 606

    EP, #600–

    Power philosophy, illogically modified:

    Those belonging to a society which cannot produce X have no right to X, period.

    Why privilege the society level ethically? A thorough-going elitist simply says, those who cannot produce X have no right to X, period. And in practice, “produce” always comes down to “take,” Ayn Randian rationalizations notwithstanding.

    But at the level of nations–which is what E-P seems to intend by “societies”–there can be many reasons for the inability to “produce” something, and many definitions of what “produce” actually means. For instance, does the US “produce” electronic devices in anything like the quantity it consumes? Many, though not all, of the device designers are American, but only a small percentage of the actual build is done here. Do we “deserve” these devices? And if we don’t deserve it by virtue of our manufacture, is it “merited” by our ability to pay?

    If yes, then the argument that, say, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, doesn’t ‘deserve’ this or that amenity goes away, too, because despite a pitiful per capita income, its resources are sufficient to purchase any number of amenities.

    There are a great number of societies which have extreme difficulty producing things as simple as indoor plumbing.

    What a bizarre criterion! (And how unclear: after all, there is not a single nation anywhere that doesn’t have some indoor plumbing, which means that there isn’t a single nation anywhere without qualified plumbers to install and maintain it. What proportion of the “production” does that count toward?)

    Frankly, I doubt the assertion; I think few countries could not “produce” indoor plumbing if they really needed to. But a well-established global supply chain means that it often doesn’t make a whole lot of economic sense to establish domestic capacity.

    I do note in passing that you apparently can’t count South Africa as one of “those societies” by any criterion:

    https://www.vortex-za.com/

    We need to write them out of our consideration of what resources they “need” for same.

    Even when “we” benefitted from their resources for many decades, at the expense of their governance? E.g., the DRC:

    [DRC President] Mobutu appropriated the income from new state enterprises, using it to amass a huge personal fortune and to create a vast patronage network. In the 1970s and ’80s, he also portioned out control over state enterprises to shifting networks of associates whose loyalty he needed. He offered concessions to foreign private enterprises as well. Increasingly, the economy became an adjunct of Mobutu’s political machine.

    At first, international agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, as well as Mobutu’s allies in the West, turned a blind eye to his personal appropriation of the economy and the associated declines in productivity and exports. The fall in copper prices in the mid-1970s, however, led to audits of state enterprises that revealed high levels of embezzlement. Nonetheless, Mobutu remained an important Cold War ally for Western countries, and for the next 20 years international financial institutions and his Western allies continued to find ways to keep the sinking economy afloat.

    https://www.britannica.com/place/Democratic-Republic-of-the-Congo/Economy

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

    And there it is–pure, unvarnished racism, by definition. And “belief” is the right word, because the assertion is untainted by any hint of actual evidence.

    Yet notice that the assertion doesn’t even actually support the thesis given at the top of the comment: if “certain peoples” actually were immutably “better at some things”, then we would expect to see a variety of “things” to show this effect, and we would expect to see various groups leading in this or that metric. Shouldn’t those other abilities merit some access to whatever “resources” may be needed?

    Yet the only one we have before us is the “toilet index.” Apparently, it’s the only index that counts.

    So, why does E-P (or anyone else, for that matter) get to propose an index by which the value of vast groups of humans–remember his “great number of societies”?–is utterly denied, and apparently in perpetuity? It would seem to be a rather extreme (and I use this word very precisely–“privilege.”

    So, the short version is that E-P wants to keep down forever all societies he adjudges not to have the abilities he privileges above all others, because he thinks that “they deserve it.” This, despite the fact that “we” have plundered, exploited and thoroughly disrupted those “others” over periods of centuries. Indeed, in many cases the social framework that exists–the “society”–is to a large degree imposed arbitrarily by fiat and imposed and sustained by force of arms, and characterized by racist oppression that deliberately and strategically stunted the educational development of the common people.

    Did they “deserve” that, too?

    The moral and intellectual rancidity of E-P’s position astounds.

  7. 607
    Mal Adapted says:

    Ray Ladbury:

    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 survival.

    Outstanding comment, Ray. I’m seriously impressed. I haven’t written my own enumeration of the instrumental values of biodiversity yet, but you pretty much covered them all. And your last paragraph strikes a resonant chord. Thanks!

  8. 608
    Mal Adapted says:

    Engineer-Poet:

    Certain peoples are simply better at some things than other peoples.

    Not only is ‘peoples’ heavily freighted with your conspicuous prejudice, but ‘better’ is plainly in the eyes of the beholder. Do you truly not recognize that history is written by the winners? You are gratuitously signalling your lack of empathy, both emotional and intellectual, with other people. IMMO, it underlies your personality disorder. Regardless, it’s sufficiently noxious to outbalance any contribution you might otherwise make here. As you’ve seen, we find it easier to ignore you altogether. But if you just want attention, keep it up. We may not react every time, but trust me, that doesn’t imply acceptance.

    All virtual swagger aside: I humbly plead with you to keep your hate to yourself. We can’t change our personalities in adulthood (not in the 5-Factor model, at least), which means our wills are only free within a narrow scope; but that much we can do, just by thinking before we speak. I’m no paragon of temperance myself, but I make an effort, because if nobody did our lives would be a Hobbesian war of each against all! I, for one, wish to avoid that in my old age. Too, I think RC is superlative in the climate blogosphere, for its high scientific credibility above all. If newcomers encounter hate speech herein, I fear it will damage RC’s strength as a defender of climate truth, more than it does yours. You are free-riding on the rest of us. Please, just leave the hate out of your comments!

  9. 609

    David B. Benson writes @603:

    Bill McKibben arrived at 350 ppm for atmospheric carbon dioxide because that was the figure at which Jim Hansen stated. most of the bad effects will likely be avoided.

    It is not low enough. Think in terms of 250 ppm.

    That’s well below the pre-industrial level.  Recall that we’re past the normal temperature peak of the Milankovic cycle and the orbital forcings are trending down already.

    If too low it is easy to make the concentration go up a bit, but hard to drive it down.

    It might also be hard to stop tipping points like elevated albedo from snow lasting through the summer.  But 250 is more than twice as far from present-day conditions than 350, and we’ll get there first if we get there at all.  If things are trending in the right direction at 350, we can take a breather.  If they’re still going the wrong way, then we’d keep going.

    By the time this becomes an issue, our models should be good enough to tell us what we need to do.

  10. 610
    nigelj says:

    Zebra more or less says that humans have the ability to become supermen (or better to say say superpeople). Yes, and it’s this sense that we have no or few boundaries to what can be achieved that is something I would like to see us ‘sustain’ as the number one goal. Because without that we are just existing for the sake of existing and regenerating.

    But we seem cursed with a huge lack of wisdom on how to use these powers so we dont destroy everything in the process. Seems like the UN sustainable development goals are a reasonable blueprint of wisdom, but they are hard work, and are flatly rejected by that half the population that appear happy to wear a maga cap. How the hell do we change this?

  11. 611
    Killian says:

    You people amaze me. YEARS wasted talking about nuclear when it cannot and never will be THE option. Now you’re onto this whole human nature shit and what crazy fucked up mental gymnastics we all have to do to do nothing more than pull our heads out of our asses.

    What a sad waste this forum has become.

    Buy a goddamned clue: PLANET, PEOPLE, SHARE. Everything flows from that. And if you need that explained, you’re rock stupid. And everything flows from those THROUGH natural principles. Those may take some discussion because none of you have a damned clue what a natural principle is, or you wouldn’t be having this stupid damned discussion.

  12. 612
    Killian says:

    “Ladbury
    The question of whether sustainable societies must include a place for wildlife–for other species–is an old one, extending into antiquity.”

    It’s not a question. It’s obvious. But not to any of you.

    We are not separate from nature and no area of the planet with human beings in the preindustrial or ancient world was ever “natural.” There is no such thing as “natural” as most people mean it because humans have been part of nature and terraforming since before we were “human,” and evidence of manipulation of the ecosystem goes back at least 65k years.

    If you speak of nature as needing to be set aside or separate from humans, then you have no idea how we can live regeneratively and really need to stop talking and start learning.

    This is not just for RL.

  13. 613
    Killian says:

    zebra ” 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.”

    But Ray, the very fact that we have the capacity to ask that question is what justifies a certain degree of ‘hubris’”

    If you’re insane. The biota of this planet is no less our family than the Japanese or the Tongans or the criminal denialists. We are the one species that the planet would function better without.

    … as I have been trying to point out to Mal, it is one of the things that makes us ‘special’ among living organisms:

    “but we are not bound by instinct in our interactions.”

    Neither are the “animals.” They think, reason and feel.

    Jesus….

  14. 614
    Killian says:

    Re 594 nigelj said Killian @572 says “Wind and solar do not move us into sustainability or anywhere near it”

    The above is not in any way addressed by this mess:

    The thing is… I mean WTF?

    Your utter incompetence is already well-known.

    …he totally supports some modest level of high technology including wind and solar…

    Support has nothing to do with it. this isn’t opinion, it’s design. But you know nothing about that so make stupid statements like the above.

    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.

    And? There is no contradiction here.

    complaining about wind and solar

    Wind and solar do not move us into sustainability or anywhere near it”

    Utter stupidity. Please, learn English before using it. In no reality are those words classified as a complaint except your broken little head. I tired of your lies and sheer stupidity two years ago.

    complaining they dont get us to “sustainability”

    See above. Complaining? Dumbshit.

    so hes clearly unhappy with wind and solar!

    One is unhappy with a bad hamburger. A new car that’s a lemon. A poor choice of life partner. If one is “happy with” or “unhappy with” a fact, or thinks an intelligent, rational person would think that way, one is unintelligent and irrational.

  15. 615
    Killian says:

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

    For whom? Five billion or so call “bullshit” on your claim and on your OECD-centrism.

  16. 616
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Zebra: “But Ray, the very fact that we have the capacity to ask that question is what justifies a certain degree of ‘hubris’… as I have been trying to point out to Mal, it is one of the things that makes us ‘special’ among living organisms…”

    Special to whom? Special for what purpose? Short bus special or “integral to the continuation of life” special? Near as I can tell, if humans were to disappear from the planet, the only other species that would miss us are dogs.

    Zebra: “1. We have the ability, through language and abstraction, to see the universe, and the biosphere here, ‘from outside’. Imperfectly of course, but we are not bound by instinct in our interactions.”

    Bullshit! Our experience of the Universe is inherently human experience. We are the only ones to who it has value, and if the price of our having that experience is destabilizing the only planet we know of that harbors life, that is a price too high.

    Zebra: “2. We have the ability to modify both the environment and ourselves to forms that would not exist ‘naturally’. (And, yes, to severely alter and perhaps even destroy the biosphere, leaving rudimentary lifeforms with a very long road to re-establishing complexity and diversity.)”

    Do we really have the ability to modify ourselves–I mean for the better, because that is the only kind of modification that matters? Not sure I see us. Near as I can tell, we’re still cave men–except now we have satellite dishes rather than cave paintings and nuclear fireballs rather than fire.

    I do not deny that humans have accomplished amazing things given our limited cognitive capabilities, but those accomplishments belong to a tiny minority of a species that has proved more voracious than the worst plague of locusts.

    The thing is that we are so convinced we are special that we are willing to jeopardize our survival to justify that conceit. It’s like Americans and ourr insistence that we are “exceptional”. Maybe the thing that would make us exceptional or special would be giving up our insistence that we are. Admitting that we are just another animal will make us a lot more likely to survive in the longer term. Or we can insist we are like gods and cease to exist. As an atheist, I can appreciate the irony.

  17. 617

    Why Racism is Stupid and Wrong. 1.

    A basic survival trait is suspicion. The stranger may be dangerous, so be careful with strangers. Unfortunately, this has led to a world where every group thinks it is normal, and groups which differ from “us” are, therefore, abnormal. This easily leads from “my group is normal” to “my group is better than your group.”

    Anthropology, literally “the study of people,” is a legitimate and important science. Unfortunately, its nineteenth-century origins were racist. Early anthropologists were on a quest to show which race was superior. And the conclusion was predefined: white Europeans were superior. A great deal of time was spent comparing traits such as the distance from the navel to the groin in various races, or the cranial capacity as measured by stuffing seeds into dried skulls. A good review of this sad and wasted effort can be found in the late Stephen Jay Gould’s book, The Mismeasure of Man (1980).

    Modern scientific racism rests mostly on efforts to show that different races score differently on IQ tests, and therefore have different levels of intelligence. But before we delve into that, let’s discuss what a race is.

    US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said that it was hard to define hard-core pornography, but “I know it when I see it.” The same could be said of race, except that you can’t always tell race when you see it, either. Allegedly, humans are divided into three main “races”–white, black, and yellow, or to use the old anthropological terms, Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid. Except that some anthropologists counted four races, with “Dravidian” for inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. And some counted five races, adding a category for Native Americans. Are Jews a race? Are Italians or Germans a race? It’s far from clear.

    Where does “race” fall on the taxonomic scale, anyway? “Taxonomy” is how living organisms are classified. An animal has a domain (Eukarya), a kingdom (Animalia), a class, order, family, genus, and species. Humans are class Chordata (we have backbones), order Mammalia (we have hair and suckle our young), family Primates, genus Homo, species sapiens. Is race, then, the subspecies? No, the human subspecies is also called sapiens. Is it the sub-subspecies? No, there is no such category. Race is merely a cultural expression of the fact that some groups of people look different.

  18. 618

    Why Racism is Stupid and Wrong. 2.

    Species are defined (see chapter 54) by being unable to reproduce with other species; a species has its own gene pool. This clearly does not apply to race, as people reproduce across race boundaries all the time. In fact, they do that so often that there are no “pure” races any more. A Kalahari bushman is likely to have some white ancestry, and many an American neo-Nazi has been upset by applying to 23andMe or Ancestry.com and finding out they had some black or Jewish ancestors. An interesting fact is that the genetic difference between two individuals taken at random is almost always greater than the mean genetic difference between different races.

    In fact, anthropologists no longer regard race as a useful category. The sea change from anthropology’s racist past came in the 1940s, when Nazi Germany took the concept of race so seriously that they tried to exterminate “inferior” races, and the United States felt it had to respond. Anthropologists like Ashley Montagu (1942) argued that race was a useless criterion, and Montagu offered a motion to that effect at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists during the war. The last anthropologist to take race seriously was Carleton S. Coon, who published his major work on the subject in 1962 and died in 1981.

    Back to IQ tests. These were originally devised in 1882 by Alfred Binet to test for developmental disability in children, and were finalized as the Binet-Simon test in 1905. Binet warned that the test was not meant to be used for the population in general, but his warnings were ignored and the test was adopted by the US Army and many other government bodies. As a result of IQ test results which showed that more than 80% of Jews, Italians, and Russians entering the US at Ellis Island were “feeble-minded,” restrictions were put on immigration. The tests had been administered in English to frightened immigrants who often spoke no English.

    Worse, a policy aimed at eugenic betterment of the population sterilized thousands of Americans, often without their knowledge or consent, based on IQ tests, from the 1920s to the 1970s. (You do it without a person’s knowledge by calling the sterilization procedure an emergency appendectomy.) The procedure was upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1927 decision Buck v. Bell, which decided the fate of a young lady named Carrie Buck. It is almost superfluous to say that later testing found Carrie was not feeble-minded after all, but that was after the operation had already been performed.

    IQ tests are used to this day in American school systems to put children on fast or slow educational tracks, and some police departments don’t allow people with too high an IQ to join, on the theory that they might get bored with the job and quit.

  19. 619

    Why Racism is Stupid and Wrong. 3.

    What is an IQ test? The IQ part stands for “Intelligence Quotient,” originally your “mental age” divided by your chronological age. That part has been dropped, and the test now simply runs through questions meant to test your verbal and mathematical skills, your reasoning and language abilities, etc. Unfortunately, the tests don’t compensate for cultural biases, or for any of a number of factors known to affect test results, including motivation, emotional state when taking the test, and even whether you’ve had breakfast that morning. IQ tests don’t measure social functioning, even though interacting with other people can take some pretty sophisticated mental processing. They don’t measure creativity. There are any number of aspects of “intelligence” not captured by IQ tests. A psychologist once said “IQ tests measure your ability to do well on IQ tests.”

    In Kenya, IQ scores of children rose 26 points on average between 1984 and 1998. This was not because Kenyans suddenly evolved to become smarter, but because the standard of living in Kenya improved, better nutrition was available, and more Kenyan parents became literate (Daley et al. 2003).

    Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray argued in a 1994 book that low IQ was the main reason blacks in America experienced greater poverty, and therefore that efforts at bettering social conditions for black people were doomed to failure. They made much of the fact that IQ seemed to be highly heritable–if your parents had high IQs, you were also likely to have high IQs.

    The fallacy there was that heritability doesn’t mean other factors can’t intervene. Height is a very heritable trait–tall parents have tall children, short parents have short children. But if an entire population has lived for generations in an area with poor farmland, and have been undernourished and stunted as a result, giving them a better diet can still see mean height rise rapidly. Taller parents will still have taller children, but the mean height will have increased dramatically. This is roughly what happened in Japan before and after World War II. Short “Japs” were an American stereotype. But when Japan’s economy improved and its diet along with it, Japan’s mean height shot up, and the Japanese are now among the tallest people in Asia.

    In short, IQ may have some limited application in the educational sphere, but as an indicator that one race is superior to another, it is pretty much useless. There isn’t any known criterion by which one race is “better” than another.

  20. 620

    Why Racism is Stupid and Wrong. References.

    Daley, T.C.; Whaley, S.E.; Sigman, M.D.; Espinosa, M.P.; Neumann, C. 2003. IQ on the rise–the Flynn effect in rural Kenyan children. Psychological Science 14, 215-219.

    Herrnstein, R.J.; Murray, C. 1994. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. NY: Free Press.

    Montagu, A. 1997 (1942). Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

  21. 621

    Forgot this one:

    Gould, S.J. 1980. The Mismeasure of Man. NY: W.W. Norton & Co.

  22. 622
    Mal Adapted says:

    Gavin, inline to E-P’s #600:

    Any further comments along these lines will be deleted without further ado.

    Yay! Thank you, Gavin!

  23. 623
    zebra says:

    #616 Ray Ladbury,

    “Near as I can tell, if humans were to disappear from the planet, the only other species that would miss us are dogs.”

    That’s pretty much exactly what I was saying, Ray. I asked:

    “What is our role in the web of life?”

    And the obvious answer is that we don’t fit into an “ecological niche” in any traditional sense. That’s the problem, correct? We are not limited by predators, or lack of nutrition, or different local climates, and so on. We consume, and our population grows, and we consume more, and much of our excrement is toxic.

    Now, the rest of your response sounds not very well thought out, and somewhat rhetorical. It should be obvious that I’m not using “special” as a value judgement. We are simply different, because of the characteristics and abilities I mentioned, which don’t exist in other organisms.

    So, we are back to the question everyone keeps dodging. What is it that you want to “sustain”??

    I gave my answer, which I thought you might understand, given your reference to that Buddhist emperor-guy.

  24. 624
    nigelj says:

    Killian @614 &572

    Killian says I don’t use the right words, such as complaining and happy. But he says “Wind and solar do not move us into sustainability or anywhere near it” Does this not suggest he is complaining about wind and solar, and is not happy with them? Because they “dont get us to sustainability? People, what do you think?

  25. 625
    nigelj says:

    BPL @617-619

    Yes racism is stupid and wrong. This is a chart comparing countries by IQ ratings, googled at random so the first one that came up. Don’t know how accurate it is, but its broadly similar to others I have seen:

    https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/average-iq-by-country/

    Looks like a reasonable correlation with IQ and quality of education systems. (bearing in mind that eye balling is only a preliminary indication). China comes out ahead of America on IQ much to the probable disappointment of a certain president. Ha ha.

  26. 626
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @523 says “So, we are back to the question everyone keeps dodging. What is it that you want to “sustain”??”

    Maximising human potential, modern technology, kindness, competitiveness, cooperation, personal fulfillment, sharing, private ownership, the resource base and biosphere, 100 other things that often conflict, and that all require compromises and trade offs and prioritising. Its not easy being human, so grow up and stop looking for singular and simplistic answers and impossible fantasy dreams.

  27. 627
    Ignorant Guy says:

    Very good summary of what ‘race’ and IQ really is by Barton Paul Levenson.

    Racism is a serious problem but there are two sides to it. There is the toxic hostile racial hatred. We have seen some of that on this forum recently. But then there is the more modern fenomenon of always considering ‘race’ and ‘color’ and ‘identity’ in every and all irrelevant context. And the level of detail you have to master is overwhelming, at least for me. It’s not by far enough to be able to distinguish between “white”, “black”, and “asian” (or whatever – terms get obsolete and pejorative really fast). But you get things like:- You’re white, right? – No. I’m catholic.

    Even a basically benign approach to (uh… what should it be called? ‘ethnical group membership recognition’? OK.) ‘ethnical group membership recognition’ will, I fear, lead to racism – the old fashion toxic kind. I would like to try to fight that. For my own part I refuse to identify with any color. I you force me to pick a color I would say I’m mostly grey. But I allow myself to be proud of being 4% neanderthal.

    Another thing: To discuss ‘race’ and racism here should really be both unnecessary and off topic. But it’s not BPL’s fault.

  28. 628
    Ignorant Guy says:

    Hmmm. Sorry for (more) spam, but: That last comment of mine got submitted while I was still editing it. I did’nt even touch the ‘Submit Comment’ button. Is that intended functionality?
    Yes, I know: Don’t edit in the new-comment-box. Edit in a separate editor (like Notepad) and then copy-paste it when you’re done. And I did. But got hit by some last seconds regrets and tried to improve it after the copy-paste operation. Now we will never know what the finished version would have looked like.

  29. 629
    nigelj says:

    I contend that solar and wind power are sustainable, providing we recycle the resource. Studies show the earth has enough resources for renewables at scale, (eg Jacobson). If we recycle and avoid waste they could last for many centuries, (assuming population growth continues to slow and hits zero).

    The dictionary definitions of ‘sustainable’ include: “the quality of being able to continue over a period of time….Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance….capable of continuing for a long time at the same level.”

    There is nothing here that suggests sustainable has to mean forever. The fact that the resource wont last forever doesn’t obviate it from lasting a long time. Therefore solar and wind at scale are sustainable. So is nuclear power.

  30. 630
    jgnfld says:

    “Near as I can tell, if humans were to disappear from the planet, the only other species that would miss us are dogs.”

    Many species would be sad: Rats, mice, cockroaches, various mites, crows, deer, coons, gulls (no landfills!), pigeons, etc. are all quite dependent on peopled environments and would decline if people disappeared.

  31. 631

    Killian, #615–

    For whom? Five billion or so call “bullshit” on your claim and on your OECD-centrism.

    Perhaps it has escaped your attention that the largest bulk of power development is happening in the developing world? Would you rather that, for instance, Vietnam did what they originally planned and built multiple gigawatts of coal plants?

  32. 632
    David B. Benson says:

    To be on topic, consider reading the history of rapid progress in
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/386/utility-scale-batteries
    where by now a utility-scale battery is often included with a solar or wind farm.

  33. 633
    nigelj says:

    New climate research relevant to the biodiversity issue: “Past and future decline of tropical pelagic biodiversity”

    https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/05/20/1916923117.short

  34. 634
    nigelj says:

    BPL @617

    “A basic survival trait is suspicion. The stranger may be dangerous, so be careful with strangers. Unfortunately, this has led to a world where every group thinks it is normal, and groups which differ from “us” are, therefore, abnormal. This easily leads from “my group is normal” to “my group is better than your group.”

    Yes, but its not universally uniform. Liberals tend to be more instinctively accepting of other groups than conservatives (refer some of the links below). Given there appears to be some evolutionary basis that differentiates liberals and conservatives from research Ive come across, this is perhaps not surprising. Not saying one group is ‘better’ dont want to politicise it, but its an observable difference.

    And a bit of healthy suspicion is obviously ok, as long as it doesnt turn into irrational rejection, but sadly it often does.

    Our frontal lobe is also able to work out if the group really is a threat, so perhaps racism is a form of lazy thinking (I think you or RL said the same). But racism is also associated with low intelligence:

    https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/were-only-human/is-racism-just-a-form-of-stupidity.html

    https://www.livescience.com/18132-intelligence-social-conservatism-racism.html

    https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2016/0127/The-surprising-relationship-between-intelligence-and-racism

    Anyway thanks for the informative post. Just wanted to add a bit that I had come across.

  35. 635
    Ray Ladbury says:

    To say that we don’t fit into an ecological niche simply because we are altering the environment is a profound misunderstanding of evolution. We are still part of the ecosystem even if we are altering the ecosystem because we are dependent on that ecosystem to preserve the conditions we need to survive.

    It is also true that the ecosystem remains way too complicated for us to understand. We cannot say what effects any changes we make will have. The same rules apply to us as apply to any other species. If we alter the capability of our environment to support us, we won’t survive. We may do a whole helluvalot more damage in taking ourselves out than would other species, but we’d really be no different than cyanobacteria creating an oxygen-rich atmosphere they couldn’t survive. We’ll merely create an environment in which something else thrives. My moneys on cockroaches and/or rats. Hell, we might even bring back the era of the cyanobacteria.

    As to sustainability, I’m a human. My goal is to sustain human life in a manner that best allows those people on the planet to live fulfilling and happy–if possible–lives. I do not think we can do this if we reduce our environment to a factory with the sole purpose of meeting our material needs.

  36. 636
    nigelj says:

    “Buy a goddamned clue: PLANET, PEOPLE, SHARE.”

    Sounds nice, but sharing mostly doesn’t work in modern industrial societies no matter how much we wish it would.

    Shared possessions, resources, and property mostly just get abused in modern industrial societies. Experiments with modern alternative, incentivised communities based around sharing and common ownership etcetera have mostly been failures. Just google the issue.

    Socialism has failed time and time again. The USSR tried common ownership, and the environment got trashed and the system stagnated and wasn’t very nice. I doubt that socialism version 2.0 would be different.

    Religious communities sometimes make shared ownership work up to a point, but only because of the religious conviction uniting them.

    Indigenous communities make a shared economy work, but I contend this is because their resource use and everything about them is different to modern society.

    Simple observation shows sharing in modern societies works for a few things like 1) emergency situations like covid 19 2) health and education systems and 3) within families and friends. There are fairly obvious reasons for all that. And that’s about the extent of it.

  37. 637
    Mal Adapted says:

    Ray Ladbury:

    I do not deny that humans have accomplished amazing things given our limited cognitive capabilities,

    Me neither. I take zebra’s point:

    the very fact that we have the capacity to ask that question is what justifies a certain degree of ‘hubris’… as I have been trying to point out to Mal, it is one of the things that makes us ‘special’ among living organisms.

    But Ray is also right:

    The thing is that we are so convinced we are special that we are willing to jeopardize our survival to justify that conceit.

    This. Like z and Ray, I’m often amazed, even thrilled, by the human cultural accomplishments my eyes behold. But we would be, wouldn’t we? Of course we’re impressed by humans: we are humans (at least I know I am)! Shakespeare has Hamlet say:

    What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

    We would call Hamlet depressed, because we tend to feel like we’re a “piece of work”, not a mere “quintessence of dust”. Still, z has articulated a key idea:

    My answer to what it is I want to ‘sustain’… is that capacity. Otherwise, what’s the point? What is our role in the web of life?

    Our self-appointed role is to judge the value of all things. The only reason we’re talking about this is that we evolved pride, i.e. hubris, presumably because it helped its bearers or their kin survive and reproduce in social groups. If that seems tautological somehow, so does the whole theory of evolution. No ‘higher’ purpose can be discerned: it just happens to be the way the universe works, given the properties of matter and energy that emerged from the Big Bang. And pride is assuredly our deadliest sin, for it enables all the others! It certainly hasn’t prevented us from whittling away the biosphere without restraint, although we’ve deigned to stabilize a few “special”, charismatic species at least temporarily. Our confidence in our entitlement may very well leave only domesticated and ruderal speces sharing the planet with us. Yet here’s irony: pride, aggregated over the human population, is also the only thing that can prevent that!

    So, IMMO zebra and Ray are both right. Where does that leave us? Sorry, but I feel like we’re going in circles. The human instinct to pride can only be restrained collectively. But even though many people feel other species have intrinsic value, we’re no closer to commensurating it with their instrumental values in cost/benefit analyses. We can’t persuade Dominionist voters (not the ones I talk to, at least), who proudly believe they’re entitled by their deity to prosper and multiply, to refrain from either on behalf of wild salmon for their own sake. Nor can we convince billionaire resource capitalists they’re not all that. So as long as “Dominion capitalists” are in charge, the biosphere will erode. Nigelj, for one, recognizes that even if Stewardship achieves a governing plurality, actual sustainability will require mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon. Because in action how not like angels we are, in apprehension how not like gods. I rather liken us to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, only there’s no benevolent master to save us from our folly. Down the drain we go?

  38. 638
    sidd says:

    Re: cyanobacteria creating an oxygen-rich atmosphere they couldn’t survive

    ? they did survive.

    My understanding is: obligate anaerobics and methanotrophs dwindle and huronian glaciation following methane drawdown kills indiscriminately. Cyanobacteria plastids survive in green plants and free cyanobacteria abound today.

    sidd

  39. 639
    nigelj says:

    Mal Adapted @637 with a perplexing problem:

    “Our self-appointed role is to judge the value of all things. The only reason we’re talking about this is that we evolved pride….Our confidence in our entitlement may very well leave only domesticated and ruderal speces sharing the planet with us…..The human instinct to pride can only be restrained collectively…. But even though many people feel other species have intrinsic value, we’re no closer to commensurating it with their instrumental values in cost/benefit analyses. We can’t persuade Dominionist voters (not the ones I talk to, at least), who proudly believe they’re entitled by their deity to prosper and multiply…Nor can we convince billionaire resource capitalists ….. rather liken us to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, only there’s no benevolent master to save us from our folly. Down the drain we go?”

    I particularly like the last two lines. A precise cost benefit analysis of biodiversity versus development is probably impossible. How can anyone precisely value of biodiversity, even the agricultural benefits, and value to the wider ecolology like RL mentioned, let alone the emotional attachments and potential unknown medical benefits? Impossible. But we can use a bit of good judgement. For example in New Zealand there was a mining application for a new gold mine. All such things have to get passed the resource management legislation, and one of its goals is sustainability.

    One problem is the site had a colony of rare endangered snails. Submissions were made on their instrinsic and possible medical value as a source of drugs etc. It was decided the company had to relocate the snails, an expensive exercise, but they did it and the mine was allowed to go ahead. A lot of issues can potentially be a win win for both nature and development, with the application of a bit of ingenuity.

    Plenty of countries are doing good environmental work that gets lost amongst all the disasters. Population is falling in some countries and this can help. And that includes christian countries. However the resource management act is fiercely resisted by the usual suspects and they are rigid and powerful even if they are a minority. And we put a high value on allowing them to have their say in the name of freedom of speech. I think we can save some biodiversity, but some of its going down the drain.

  40. 640
    Killian says:

    Kevin Perhaps it has escaped your attention that the largest bulk of power development is happening in the developing world? Would you rather that, for instance, Vietnam did what they originally planned and built multiple gigawatts of coal plants?

    Deflection *and* Straw Man. Try again. Deal with the issue raised. What’s the carbon footprint and resource footprint for 9 billion Europeans? And who’s gonna pay for those lifestyles?

  41. 641
    Killian says:

    nigelj I contend that solar and wind power are sustainable, providing we recycle the resource.

    I do not contend: I know you *are* a useless. Let me help you.

    I contend that solar and wind power could be sustainable, providing we recycle the resource[s], but, unfortunately, some of them are not currently recyclable and the infrastructure to do that does not exist. They are not now, and are never likely to be, fully sustainable as currently built.

    What could potentially be sustainable are small, DIY, localized wind generators that use no cement, no fiberglass and things like recycled alternators for generation and metal from junkyards for fan blades, etc.,

    Since we can make buildings passive solar, we actually need very little electricity and can ration any unsustainable power generation for things like health care, R&D labs, etc.

    But since I and about 99.9% of “green” people are dummies, I advocate for the unsustainable utility-scale shit we’re doing now! Why actually solve the problem when we can just keep guzzling resources and screw the entire future of humanity and the planet?! Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!

  42. 642
    Killian says:

    nigelj Killian says I don’t use the right words, such as complaining and happy. But he says “Wind and solar do not move us into sustainability or anywhere near it” Does this not suggest he is complaining about wind and solar, and is not happy with them? Because they “dont get us to sustainability? People, what do you think?

    They are FACTS. Not opinions. There is nothing to complain about. Any complain would be about the stupid humans who know nothing and keep building them out putting the future in greater peril. If I were to take down a shooter, am I supposed beat his gun into submission and send *it* to jail?

    Good christ….

  43. 643

    nigel, #636–

    OT alert! ‘Mediocre’ political commentary follows…

    Socialism has failed time and time again. The USSR tried common ownership, and the environment got trashed and the system stagnated and wasn’t very nice. I doubt that socialism version 2.0 would be different.

    But has it? The term “socialism” as commonly used is so ill-defined as essentially not to have a definition at all. Here’s an illustration of the confusion:

    http://blog.peerform.com/top-ten-most-socialist-countries-in-the-world/

    It’s silly to lump a nation like Canada–which has never had a Socialist party in power at the Federal level, has no constitutional reference to socialism whatever, and is clearly and obviously organized on the basis of market capitalism–together with China as “most socialist.” It’s sillier still to omit every nation (except China) that actually *claims* to be socialist–to wit:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states#Marxist%E2%80%93Leninist_states

    But definitional clarity we would need, were we to try to assess whether socialism had indeed “failed time and time again.” It would be a huge OT excursion, one unlikely to end in consensus, and one that (despite this comment) I’d have little appetite for.

    But, just FWIW, let’s consider Marxist-Leninist states, as the old USSR, avowedly Marxist-Leninist, was the example given by nigel. And hey, “socialist” is right on the label! Clearly, the USSR failed the survival test, in part at least because of the very shortcomings nigel specified.

    Today, there are four other states claiming to adhere to this model: China, Laos, Vietnam, and, of course, Cuba. All have unitary party structures: the classic (and so-called) “dictatorship of the proletariat.” In Marxist theory, as I understand it at least, this is supposed to be a transitional phase that leads to the true socialists utopia. But that phase, alas, remains vaporware to date.

    It’s remarkable that at least three of those nations–I’m not sure what’s going on with Laos–have to some degree abandoned most of the economic features of socialism in favor of state capitalism, strongly salted with good old crony capitalism. (Cuba probably the least so of the three, partly because American opposition perversely tends to cement the status quo in place–IMO, at least.) So, I’d claim that Marxism-Leninism has indeed so far been a consistent failure, either because it did not survive, or because it has abandoned its own premises in order to survive.

    But socialism in general is quite distinct from Marxism-Leninism in practice because it does not generally envision dictatorship. The socialist idea has many interpretations and outcrops, many of them under the umbrella term “democratic socialism”:

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

    Most of the nations listed in my first link, the ‘bad example,’ might arguably fall under the flavor of democratic socialism termed “liberal socialism,” which:

    …is a political philosophy that incorporates liberal principles to socialism. Liberal socialism has been compared to modern social democracy as it supports a mixed economy that includes both private property and social ownership in capital goods. Liberal socialism identifies legalistic and artificial monopolies to be the fault of capitalism and opposes an entirely unregulated market economy. It considers both liberty and equality to be compatible and mutually dependent on each other.

    It’s not clear to me that this flavor has in fact “failed”–nations like Canada, Denmark, or New Zealand seem to be doing pretty well, aside from the worldwide failure so far to create social models adequate to the environmental challenges of technological society. Is it really socialism, though? Harder to say. I don’t believe in Platonism, which is to say in this context that I don’t think there is any such thing as an ideal ‘socialist’ state, except as proposed in books by ‘socialist’ idealists–only real-world experiments which may be variously aggregated for purposes of study. China is real; Canada is real; ‘socialism’ is a constructed category (and given the lack of definitional rigor, one of highly debatable value).*

    But regardless of what you call it, it does seem possible to create and enjoy a society which features a reasonable degree of self-determination, and tempers the defects of state regulation on the one hand, and free-market oligarchy on the other, by holding the two in a creative tension.

    FWIW, my perception of the failure of the US today is that it has overweighted free market oligarchy and underweighted state restraints on its excesses. (This ‘choice’ has, also IMO, been strongly influenced by highly strategic and persistent ideological, political, and legal activity on the part of a significant subset of the oligarchs–cf., Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money,” as well as other investigations which make the same general point: that American democracy didn’t ‘just fall’; it was ‘pushed.’)

    The result is growing social inequality and consequent unrest. To be sure, the US is not entirely unique in this by any means; authoritarian populism in nations from Hungary and Poland to Brazil shares some common sociological features with what we observe here, despite the fact that those nations have all three emerged from a past involving some flavor of allegedly ‘socialist’ governance. But we are certainly a leading example in the world today, and not least so in the context of the pandemic, which–yet again IMO–is laying bare some of the more egregious shortcomings in the efficacy of our social structures.

    *OK, OK, Canada and China are to some degree “constructed categories,” too. But do we really want to go that far down the rabbit hole?

  44. 644
    zebra says:

    Mal and Ray

    “how not like gods”

    Guys, you are engaging in sloppy reasoning here. I’m making an objective observation, and you are mixing in all kinds of emotional, subjective, rhetorical language. (A very human thing to do, of course.)

    Ray, you again seem to agree with me… humans can essentially destroy the existing ecosystem…we could do it the way we are doing it now, or we could even do it purposefully. To me, that is a “god-like” ability. Nasty god, but still.

    But it is also the case that, if we continue with technological development, we might someday deflect an asteroid, for example.

    Or, think of an alternative history, where we started out using renewables for the industrial revolution. Science would have told us that we could (purposefully) save the planet from a glaciation by controlled burning of coal in the future. Saving the ecosystem from external destruction… a pretty high level of Stewardship, Mal… is, again, “god-like”.

    This business about pride or hubris just doesn’t register with me, because they are simply manifestations of monkey-nature; the internal hierarchical ordering of human society that matters to individuals. Nothing to do with “Dominion over nature”; everything to do with Authoritarian psychology. Extractionists like the Kochs care about power and control over other humans, not the resources; that’s just a means to the end.

    The problem, it seems to me, is that people are ignoring the fact that human culture, which can actually change/evolve over time, is our defining characteristic… our “ecological niche”. Again, this is not a value judgement, I’m just making the observation.

    So when Ray says he wants humans to be happy and fulfilled, it seems to ignore that individuals lived happy and fulfilled lives all along the path to where we are today. You have to distinguish the fundamental, underlying, things that promote that; stagnation is not really an option.

  45. 645
    Mal Adapted says:

    Ignorant Guy:

    Very good summary of what ‘race’ and IQ really is by Barton Paul Levenson.

    What he said, Barton.

  46. 646
    MartinJB says:

    @David Benson: the first couple of posts on the thread you linked quote $1,000-4,000 per kW. I’m used to seeing batteries priced per kWh. Was that a typo in the post? Per BNEF, the quote was reasonable for 2010 ($1,183/kWHh in 2019 dollars). Amazing to see that the price had fallen to $156/kWh in 2019!

    Thanks!

  47. 647
    Killian says:

    nigelj “Buy a goddamned clue: PLANET, PEOPLE, SHARE.”

    Sounds nice, but sharing mostly doesn’t work in modern industrial societies no matter how much we wish it would.

    God, the irony. The utter stupidity.

    Shared possessions, resources, and property mostly just get abused in modern industrial societies. Experiments with modern alternative, incentivised communities based around sharing and common ownership etcetera have mostly been failures. Just google the issue.

    Socialism has failed time and time again.

    Name it. Russia? Not socialism. China? Not socialism. Cuba? Not socialism.

    Buy the goddamned clue, already.

    You do not belong here.

  48. 648
    Killian says:

    Mal Adapted The only reason we’re talking about this is that we evolved pride, i.e. hubris

    Who is this we you speak of? If you mean humanity, you’re wrong. So, who, then, do you mean?

    And please tell me, when are you all going to get tired of trying to shove square pegs into round holes? Or, put another way, how long are you all going to try to solve an experiment with no hypothesis? Yet another tack, keep building houses of words with no foundation?

  49. 649

    #637, Mal–

    Oh God, the pride of man
    Broken in the dust again!

    (Hamilton Camp, though the voice in my head singing it is Gordon Lightfoot’s.)

  50. 650

    Killian wrote @611:

    YEARS wasted talking about nuclear when it cannot and never will be THE option.

    Aside from ill-defined notions of “sustainability”, why can’t it?  What’s stopping us, besides a decades-long fear-mongering propaganda campaign engineered by fossil-fuel interests?

    Fission of one ton of actinide produces roughly 3 terawatt-years of heat.  Every year, weathering transports 32,000 tons of uranium to the world’s oceans.  This means humanity can sustainably consume fission energy at a rate of about 10,000 TW.  That’s about 1e24 J/yr or 1 million quads/yr.  Humanity doesn’t even consume one THOUSAND quads per year and is not projected to get close to that this century.  Nuclear requires the least material and space of any of our energy options.  Instead of creating vast areas of raptor-chewing, bat-killing whirlygigs, black-rectangle-covered dead zones and clearcuts, it gives us physically tiny plants literally surrounded by nature preserves.  So why can’t nuclear be THE option?  What’s stopping us?