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Forced Responses: Oct 2020

Filed under: — group @ 10 October 2020

Bimonthly open thread for discussing climate policy and solutions. Climate science discussion should go here.

470 Responses to “Forced Responses: Oct 2020”

  1. 351
    mike says:

    Mal says at 325: “I’d love it if America achieved net-zero emissions in eight years! I’d love it if racist police were called out by their fellow officers, and the worst fired with due process! Tell me how you’ll get my neighbor and 74 million of his fellow Trumpists to cooperate, because I can’t seem to make ’em!”

    Yes, that is the challenge. (but I like due process, no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater, right?) How do we move the needle of US public opinion?

    My approach on that is to speak as forcefully and clearly as I can about the facts and realities around certain issues.

    Here’s a few thoughts on public opinion that sound right to me:

    “Writing in 1918, the American sociologist Charles Horton Cooley emphasized public opinion as a process of interaction and mutual influence rather than a state of broad agreement. The American political scientist V.O. Key defined public opinion in 1961 as “opinions held by private persons which governments find it prudent to heed.”

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/public-opinion

    So, that’s my thought on one way we might work on the challenge you describe. We interact and work to be as persuasive as possible to move the needle of public opinion. When change comes, it sometimes arrives abruptly and when you look back on the change, it may be hard to determine how or why the scales suddenly tipped and things changed. We have to be patient, methodical and thorough. We will probably have to say the same thing over and over, rephrasing things we know to be true, in multiple ways to maximize our influence. We have to help folks understand and embrace the precautionary principle with climate change and do better cost benefit analysis, especially with regard to disastrous fat tail outcomes that we can avoid easily if we think critically and clearly.

    I don’t agree with everything on the dissident voice website, but it does appear to be writings about the challenge that you describe: https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/12/how-societies-form-and-change/

    There is a recent “letter” to Trump voters on dissident voice:

    https://dissidentvoice.org/2020/11/an-open-letter-to-trump-voters/

    In short, we keep engaging and talking with them. We can hope for a return to a society that respects the fact that some things are true, and some things are not true. A nice joust on that matter is the idea that folks are entitled to their opinions, but not to their facts. Facts are facts. Alternative facts are generally wishes and opinions on parade as if they are facts.

    Does that sound right to you? Do you have a better plan to move the 73 million trumpsters in the US? I think we have to employ a first amendment approach, I don’t think a second amendment approach will do anything positive.

    Susan Anderson comments here and does a very good job of sounding reasonable and committed. I think her approach and tone might be persuasive and capable of making inroads with the trumpsters. I read her comments carefully because I think I could learn something about delivery/tone/framing from her.

    Cheers

    Mike

  2. 352
    nigelj says:

    This proposal seems like the UK’s version of Americas GND. It includes a summary of the proposals plus media reaction. “Media reaction: Boris Johnson’s ‘10-point’ net-zero plan for climate change.”

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/media-reaction-boris-johnsons-10-point-net-zero-plan-for-climate-change

  3. 353
    Adam Lea says:

    Mike@306: ““In central Tanzania among the Maasai, women and 8-10 year girls had already been walking nine hours a day for water. They would leave at around 3 a.m., having placed their younger children in a pen (usually around 30 children and one old man), and return at around noon. Every single day. If they didn’t go, there would be no water for the family.. If they had to goto a clinic, no water.

    But with global climate change, it has now gotten worse. Some women are now walking up to 13 hours – leaving around 11 p.m. and returning at noon the next day. Then cooking, preparing kids for school caring for animals, and, perhaps, sleeping.”

    That sounds like a good case for saving old unwanted bicycles from scrap and donating them to countries where people have to walk large distances because they have no access to other transport. Cycling is far more energy efficient than walking, and is 2-3 times faster given a hard and fairly smooth ground surface (e.g. a road). You can get trailers for bicycles and can transport surprisingly heavy loads. 13 hours could be cut to 5-6 hours.

  4. 354
    mike says:

    at AL at 353: I think you are missing the point about the water situation in Tanzania. This is not a failure of a transportation system, this is about global warming creating and exacerbating water shortages. It’s about publicizing the fact that global warming impacts are serious now for many beings on the planet, the impacts are not a future possibility. The point is that first world folks or anyone who can turn a tap and have clean water run out in their home needs to consider the challenges faced by people who can only dream of that luxury as they travel for house, by whatever means necessary, to gather water that they can bring to their home.

    The problem here is not a global shortage of bicycles, right? You do understand that, don’t you?

    Cheers,

    Mike

  5. 355
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: Three reasons:

    1. It’s grossly inefficient. Methane is a very stable molecule with a high heat of formation, which energy is lost.

    2. Leakage makes ANY methane a serious climate problem by itself.

    AB: We’ve gone through the “which chemical” question and your stance, I believe, was that methanol was the better choice. So perhaps a better answer would be, “Yes, chemical storage is a grand idea, but methanol is the chemical of choice because ____”.

    Instead of providing value you chose to provide, uh, ‘fertilizer’. Why?
    _________________________

    Kevin McKinney: IOW, rarely have I heard a conclusion so radically unmoored from its putative premise.

    AB: Wow! A time traveler from the past. Welcome to 2020.
    _______________

    EP: Would there even be a market for bitumen-derived fuels in a mostly-nuclear economy?

    AB: I agree. Babies should NOT be allowed to crawl or walk first. Babies MUST be forced to run at world class sprinter levels immediately.

    EP: start stuffing CO2 down into depleted oil fields. That CO2 would dissolve into and mobilize the remnant oil in the rocks that was held in place by the immiscible water (see “fractional flow”). With a radically reduced demand for oil and a newly-liberated supply, bitumen would be superfluous and almost certainly uneconomic.

    AB: Interesting. I wasn’t aware that Canada had so many old oil wells. Nor did I know that Canada would gladly trash its tar sands infrastructure and build an entirely different one based on CO2 injection. Where is Canada going to get the CO2? How will it be transported?

    You’re not much into “getting there from here”, are you?
    _______________

    nigelj: Again look at what was achieved in WW2.

    AB: Well, “we” achieved very little of value in WW2. Remember, the two villains, Germany and the USSR were slaughtering each other. The USA stupidly saved the USSR. Sounds like total failure when simply doing nothing at all would probably have led to a far better result, especially since the incident gave USAians the worst possible case of Big Head disease imaginable. Humanity and the planet have been paying for the saving of the USSR by the USA ever since.

  6. 356
    nigelj says:

    Killian @341 says “The basic reality of what is and is not sustainable means the denialists will use real facts to support their bullshit. One of the real facts is that virtually EVERYTHING WE MAKE is limited in multiple ways. The limits are real. That is the only thing I am responding to. ”

    How on earth do we know that “the limits are real” is the only thing you are responding to? Your support for the comments posted by James Charles was fairly sweeping and unconditional. People aren’t mind readers. I suggest be a bit more nuanced and you wont make yourself such an easy target.

    “That you idiots try to pain that as whole-cloth acceptance of denialism is as stupid as all the other shit you idiots say…….You can’t accept sustainability. It scares you. You attack.”

    I disagree. Piotr is obviously a scientist or has a science degree, and these people are trained to attack any comments that look wrong, even if just sonme details are wrong, and so they should do. And the comments posted by James Charles are just unsubstantiated nonsense. Its logically possible to accept sustainability in the sense things have limits, and still see that the commentary posted by Charles is nonsensical and unsubstantiated. The issue of whether renewables can produce enough electricity to cover the energy used in their manufacturing, and electric cars etcetera, is a completely different thing to whether we have enough resources to build renewables over the longer term.

    I accept sustainability, in Killians sense that there’s a big risk we could run out of some things. For example only a few fools think we can go on using oil literally forever. I suspect everyone here understands these things, but people don’t state the obvious. And what is the worst that will happen? It could slowly force civilisation back to a simpler way of life without as much modern technology and cheap electricity wont it?

    If such things worry people, we should make do the following: Make big reductions to waste, starting now. Recycle. Zero population growth. Smaller homes. Ensure everyone has the basics of life. These sorts things are our friends, and are realistic. Expecting people to give up technology they take for granted, and designing ideal visions of society look like fools errands to me. Just my opinion obviously, but its based on plenty of reading.

  7. 357
    Piotr says:

    Killian @341
    One of the real facts is that virtually EVERYTHING WE MAKE is limited in multiple ways. The limits are real. That is the only thing I am responding to.

    Could you point to all “idiots” who missed it – where exactly James (300) was making _this_ point? Here is his text:

    James Charles 300: “Preface. Even a simple object like a pencil requires dozens of actions to make and dozens of objects that took energy to make. This is why it is unlikely wind, solar, or any other contraption that make electricity, have a positive return of energy, or energy returned on energy invested. If you look at all of the energy of the steps to create a wind turbine or solar panel, they don’t produce as much energy as it took to make them, and certainly not enough extra energy to replace themselves. Besides, electricity is only about 15% of overall energy use, with fossils providing the rest transportation, manufacturing, heating, and the half a million products made from fossils as feedstock as well as energy source.

    I see here 3 identifiable claims:
    1. that wind and power over their lifetime produce LESS energy than it took to create them
    2. that they don’t produce enough energy to “replace” themselves (whatever this is supposed mean and how this would be different from p.1)
    3. how great it the oil, which provides us with “transportation, manufacturing, heating, and the half a million products made from fossils as well as energy source”

    So in your:” I’ve pointed all this out for a decade and longer here”) you mean that only “idiots” would think that by “all this” you meant … “all this”?

    Killian: “ That you idiots try to pain that as whole-cloth aceptance of denialism is as stupid as all the other shit you idiots say. You can’t accept sustainability. It scares you. You attack.

    I don’t want to speak for other idiots, but I merely pointed out the irony that to boost your ego (Unjustly Ignored Prophet complex?) you ended up supporting “all” arguments of an … oil enthusiast:

    Killian (311) about James (300): “I’ve pointed all this out for a decade and longer here. The people who post here, both scientists and laypersons, will not listen.

    Sad, really.

  8. 358

    @347:

    They [“renewables”] are far, far better than fossil fuels

    They are not a replacement for fossil fuels either, due to intermittency.  And they are subject to diminishing returns.

    and they are even better than nukes.

    No they aren’t.  Even including Chernobyl, nukes have a fatality rate of 0.04 per TWh.  Wind clocks in 4x as high at 0.15/TWh and solar is multiples of that.

    No nuclear plant in the world has as much environmental footprint as Ivanpah, which averages a pathetic 90.9 MW average generation (377 MW rated @ 24.1% capacity factor in 2018) WITH a generous dose of natural gas added.  Wind farms slaughter raptors and bats, and may be behind some of the cratering abundance of flying insects.  Palo Verde generates its average 3644 MW (3937 MW rated @ 92.55% CF) from a tiny amount of land.  It would take 40 Ivanpahs to equal one Palo Verde, and the Ivanpahs would still burn natural gas.

    Ivanpah left a whole bunch of dead desert tortises, an endangered species.  Nuclear plants leave a bunch of ceramic, inside Zircaloy tubes, inside welded steel canisters, inside reinforced concrete.  We could pile up every bit of spent fuel the USA has ever made on a single football field and only reach a height of maybe the bottom third of the bleachers in a typical college stadium.  One wind farm has more land-use impact than that, and don’t get started on solar.

    I repeat, “renewables” are an environmental disaster in their own right.

  9. 359

    [deleted. Not acceptable]

  10. 360
    nigelj says:

    I wonder if both nuclear power and renewables might be redundant sooner than we think:

    “Nuclear fusion reactor could be here as soon as 2025”

    https://www.space.com/nuclear-fusion-reactor-sparc-2025.html

    And yeah its obviously not going to scale up instantly, and Ive heard the joke fusion is always just a decade away, but it does look like things are finally making some real progress.

    EP and anyone else?

  11. 361
    nigelj says:

    Hey Mal Adapted, thanks for that link on the mediocrity principle. I’m convinced, but I suspect Donald Trump might not entirely like it :) The giant toddler will be most disgruntled.

  12. 362
    William B Jackson says:

    #353 And with that trailer a single woman could transport 2 or three times the water she could carry so individual women could take turns every second or third day leaving more time to take care of other needs.

  13. 363
    James Charles says:

    “Exactly when the Guardian made the transition from serious newspaper to neoliberal propaganda sheet is a matter of debate.”

    https://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2020/11/27/guardian-slips/?fbclid=IwAR07zZWkVYGTLRZEQLtZCgHDbqdo1EM2no-PWIwVtsKjcC7tQ5-X-L5BF-I

  14. 364
    Killian says:

    346 nigelj: Climate change is not going to wreck the economy.

    Turns out nigel is a denialist, as I said three years ago. 1. Climate is an existential risk. That means *humanity* is at risk. Yet, the economy will just keep chugging along?

    This is 1. incredibly stupid reasoning and 2. denial lite, and all one needs to know about nigel to never bother reading anything he says.

  15. 365
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Adam Lea, A bicycle is a reasonable form of transport in some regions and at some times of year. Unfortunately, over much of the continent, the roads are bad enough that it often takes more time and effort to bicycle and walk. Moreover, even the “good” dirt roads are dusty as hell, and gears and other fancy additions don’t last long. Thus, in many places, the simpler the machine, the better.

    More bicycles would help–but they would have to be more bicycles to the right people and regions. And hauling 40 pounds of water by bicycle probably isn’t practical.

    That is the advantage of actually going there and seeing these regions before we assume there is a simple solution.

  16. 366
    mike says:

    I think these emission reduction targets and time frames are the most useful for helping us actually change the trajectory of global warming: Cut emissions in half by 2030, or cut emissions by 7.6 percent each year.

    https://earth.stanford.edu/news/roadmap-reducing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-50-percent-2030#gs.moixc4

    https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/cut-global-emissions-76-percent-every-year-next-decade-meet-15degc

    I believe discussing emission reductions in longer time frames than annual or decadal allows our species to defer and delay essential changes and the outcome of the delay will be a more rapid and catastrophic extinction event.

    Some believe the outcome is the result of a shortage of bicycles around the world. I like bicycles, but I think the big problem is more closely related to smokestack and tailpipe emissions than to bicycle production or distribution issues.

    November 8 – 14, 2020 412.75 ppm
    November 8 – 14, 2019 410.20 ppm
    November 8 – 14, 2010 388.10 ppm

    co2.earth

    We don’t need imminent massive releases of CH4 to get us in trouble, we are getting into plenty of trouble with steady CO2 emissions. The CH4 emissions that we will trigger with our CO2 emissions will just help us dig the hole deeper as they arrive.

    Cheers

    Mike

  17. 367
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Nigel: “Climate change is not going to wreck the economy.”

    I am not as sanguine about the prospects of avoiding catastrophe as you are. Yes, we can mitigate the effects of climate change without breaking the bank, but those mitigations require long-term development and expenditure before the worst happens. And we are currently doing precisely fuck-all. Hell, over the past 4 years, we’ve done less than fuck-all. Our gummint has been working overtime to make things worse!

  18. 368
    Mal Adapted says:

    Mike:

    My approach on that is to speak as forcefully and clearly as I can about the facts and realities around certain issues.

    Well, yes. Mine too, although my personality hasn’t won me a wide audience. Be assured, I fully support your exhortations to activism in our communities at multiple scopes, each of us with our unique strengths and limitations. I don’t agree with criticism of Dr. Schmidt for being too conservative on arctic methane, however. I think his scientific reticence is disciplined and honest, and is the most effective public role for him. He of course will follow his own counsel, and I’m not privileged to judge him.

    Something I keep harping on over multiple clauses is the collective nature of commons dramas, in both origin and resolution. In the US, elections for public office are proximate levers of power, thus the default mechanism of collective will. Successful politicians are experts in manipulating cultural trends; I’m not, nor ever will be. I’m also persuaded of the critical role of leadership, a personality-based phenomenon that AFAICT emerges rarely and unpredictably in any human population, and certainly not in me; FDR’s example is edifying, though, and Greta Thunberg fascinates me. I’ve said I don’t expect Joe Biden to lead us to net-zero in two terms as POTUS; but his cabinet picks to date, including John Kerry as “climate czar”, IMHO suggest more than lip service. And occasionally, popular groundswells grow to triumph at the polls; there are occasional hints, for example, that the Republican Party’s denialist plank is turning away young voters. Last but not least, mass communications technology has transformed the public sphere globally; after repeated exsanguination by bleeding-edge technology during my career, I’m a late-if-ever adopter. Principled Republican officials, OTOH, are using social media to expose Trumpist lies 8^(!

    Yet while optimism isn’t wholly unsupported, it can’t be ignored that roughly half of US voters just signified their persistent AGW-denial. Clearly there are still powerful psychological and social forces opposing effective national climate policy, that our collective will isn’t yet strong enough to overcome. I honestly believe that’s changing, one mind at a time. So I’m not ready to give up arguing, on RC or the NYTimes, for aggressive climate action from the scientific evidence, but incrementalism from the political angle. Still, it appears highly unlikely to me that any national policy will make us carbon-neutral in one fell swoop, nor will it be achieved in the next eight years no matter what I do. Thankfully, whatever happens isn’t up to just you and me. I for one would find that crushing!

    Anyway, it’s just us talking here.

  19. 369
    Al Bundy says:

    mike: We have to be patient, methodical and thorough

    AB: if we want dilute and mediocre results. You see, that is the problem: old farts who learned what they “know” 50+ years ago.

    Power is in the hands of obsolete paradigms. Cutting edge knowledge is generated by minds that have not developed sufficient guardrails.

    Two types with opposing strengths and liabilities. Ya gotta merge, dudes.

  20. 370
    Al Bundy says:

    mike: Do you have a better plan to move the 73 million trumpsters in the US?

    AB: Maybe. So far my goal is to do an end around, timing things so that sea ice imparts a Factual Hit in the Face precisely at the politically best time (which requires warping the Weave to the political flow).

    Regardless, it takes a wicked punch. Flowers won’t work.

  21. 371
    Al Bundy says:

    mike: We have to help folks understand and embrace the precautionary principle

    AB: which states that ONLY people with excess resources can consider low-odds catastrophes. Thus, allowing mass poverty ensures destruction of the biosphere.

    Capitalism is all about concentrating resources so that “better” people can shepherd resources to the Highest Best Use. But the resulting definition of Highest Best Use only applies to the welfare of the 1%.

    And the other 99% of the equation is, “Fuck the big picture. I’m trying to survive”.

    Why the fuck do people come to the opposite of truth when they form conclusions??? This is an insane system.

  22. 372
    Al Bundy says:

    mike,

    And remember, harm ends at death, along with the precautionary principle’s warning. Since climate catastrophes by definition occur at least 20 years after climate crimes are committed, anyone who is over 60, according to the precautionary principle, should not give a crap about climate change. Who cares what the weather is outside once you’re in a nursing home, all air conditioned and taken care of?

    Oh, you’re talking about those who don’t have a million bucks in the bank and so can’t count on air conditioned comfort for the rest of their life? LOLOLOLOLOLOL. As if they matter.

  23. 373
    Al Bundy says:

    mike: The problem here is not a global shortage of bicycles, right? You do understand that, don’t you?

    AB: Of course he does. He’s proposing nursing, as in applying a Band-aid. Not a cure, but saving lives in the meantime.
    ______________

    nigel: The giant toddler will be most disgruntled.

    AB: Quit insulting toddlesque adults. Trump is scum, not cute and adorable.
    ________________

    EP: I repeat, “renewables” are an environmental disaster in their own right.

    AB: I repeat, propose competitive scenarios where your “truth” can win out over others’ “truth”. I have giving you several ways to accomplish your goals and your response is, “NO! EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ALREADY AGREE WITH ME MUST…”

    What? Stick up their middle finger? Lookie, they have been for months and years. You are ever so successful, dude.
    ______________

    mike: We don’t need imminent massive releases of CH4 to get us in trouble, we are getting into plenty of trouble with steady CO2 emissions. The CH4 emissions that we will trigger with our CO2 emissions will just help us dig the hole deeper as they arrive.

    AB: Yep. That is the key point. It’s like driving drunk in an unlicensed vehicle. You might make it home from the bar, thus saving yourself a couple bucks. You probably can do it 10 times in a row. GREAT economic decision.

    unless you get caught by that damn CH4 “cop hiding behind a billboard”.

  24. 374
    Al Bundy says:

    Mal Adapted: Yet while optimism isn’t wholly unsupported, it can’t be ignored that roughly half of US voters just signified their persistent AGW-denial.

    AB: Naw, they signaled what USAians are all about: short term satisfaction.

    Heart attack, stroke, climate catastrophe?

    Whatever. That’s decades from now. Tonight’s agenda is to laze about, eat junk, and piss off snowflakes.

  25. 375
    Al Bundy says:

    To clarify my last post:

    Denialists generally do NOT believe the crap they are spewing. They are expressing identity while preserving sunk costs. It’s a suit of armor, a tool, not a brain thing.

    Thus, logical arguments are as effective as water wets a duck. They just slide right off, penetrating approximately 0 nanometers into the denialist’s psyche.

    Their goal is to PISS YOU OFF. The most effective response may just be to LAUGH. LAUGH. LAUGH. Remember, they know they are being clowns. But that knowledge is in the core of their brain. Their executive functions are suppressing their baser layers’ logic. Laughter disrupts the suppression…

    Little will result at first, but if we all just LAUGH at them, they will cow.

    Make the denialists moo.

  26. 376
    nigelj says:

    I said previously “Climate change is not going to wreck the economy…..”

    Oops a typo. I meant to say climate change “mitigation” is not going to wreck the economy. That should have been rather obvious from the rest of what I said, including the fact that mitigation costs look like they are around only 2% of global economic output per year according to various reports.

    Clearly climate change itself could wreck the economy. I certainly believe it will do plenty of damage to the economy, and horrendous damage in worst case climate scenarios.

  27. 377
    nigelj says:

    Mal Adapted @368 says “I don’t agree with criticism of Dr. Schmidt for being too conservative on arctic methane, however. I think his scientific reticence is disciplined and honest, and is the most effective public role for him. He of course will follow his own counsel, and I’m not privileged to judge him.”

    I don’t agree either as you might have gathered :). Its also important for people to understand the issue was methane calthrates which is a different issue to methane and CO2 emissions coming from the arctic permafrost. I think the later are more concerning and indeed very concerning. I suspect Gavin has different views on the two different situations. There is no ocean to dissolve these permafrost emissions away.

    And this gives me an excuse to ask the chemistry guys a question. If the arctic oceans dissolve the methane what does this do to ocean chemistry, and would it be enough to cause a problem?

    Some people seem to think that scepticism about one potential source of methane means one is a closet climate denialist of some sort. It doesnt matter how many posts one writes expressing concern about climate change in very strong language they go on labelling you a denialist or luke warmer, to the point one wonders if they are very bad faith people and are just basically stupid.

    “I’m also persuaded of the critical role of leadership, a personality-based phenomenon that AFAICT emerges rarely and unpredictably in any human population, and certainly not in me; FDR’s example is edifying, though, and Greta Thunberg fascinates me. ”

    This is probably because Greta combines a whole range of qualities and her directness might be related to the fact she has Aspergers Syndrome. Statistically it’s not going to happen very often. But when you get this set of positive qualities in one person the result also seems to be greater than the sum of the parts. Shes certainly impressive and quite effective.

    “Yet while optimism isn’t wholly unsupported, it can’t be ignored that roughly half of US voters just signified their persistent AGW-denial. ”

    And the Republican party still appear very apposed to political action against climate change mitigation here:

    “Republicans Remain Opposed to Any Policies That Would Reduce Fossil-Fuel Use, by Jonathan Chait”

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/11/republicans-climate-change-biden-science-greenhouse-gas.html

    But some psychology is possibly relevant. The republican party hierarchy seem more sceptical of the climate problem and climate mitigation than the average republican voter according to public polling. And conservatives are conformists and authoritarians who are very guided by the leadership. So if the opinions of the leadership change, the opinions of the great mass of voters might change quite dramatically. I think its impossible to know whats going to happen so its important to assume there might be a reasonably radical change of opinion, a tipping point, so its important to try to persuade the Republican faction there is a problem, probably forcefully but diplomatically, and in language and termnology they relate to. Tell them climate change mitigation will make them money, and the lights will probably come on.

    “Clearly there are still powerful psychological and social forces opposing effective national climate policy, that our collective will isn’t yet strong enough to overcome. I honestly believe that’s changing, one mind at a time. So I’m not ready to give up arguing, on RC or the NYTimes, for aggressive climate action from the scientific evidence, but incrementalism from the political angle. ”

    Agreed. Nothing will improve if literally nobody says anything. Thats a given. Things might improve if people talk about the science and advocate for climate action, so it makes sense to do the later. Even if it only changes a few minds this can have disproportionately large effects. For example we know that a small number of swing voters can swing entire election results. It looks like Biden won partly because some elderly voters were unhappy about the Trump administrations fumbling of the covid issue, and it was probably only the media pointing this out and publishing the hard data that got through to them. If nobody had said anything or just Trump said things, it seems unlikely they would have changed their allegiance.

    I dont know perhaps I’m verging on hype, but it almost seems like you Americans have been sleep walking into a civil war resulting from tribal politics . Anyway I hope Im wrong, and while Biden is probably Mr Sensible and probably wont hugely shift the climate dial, sensible is what America needs right now. And the man might surprise us.

  28. 378
    Al Bundy says:

    nigel on leadership and its qualities:
    Statistically it’s not going to happen very often…

    Anyway I hope Im wrong, and while Biden is probably Mr Sensible and probably wont hugely shift the climate dial, sensible is what America needs right now

    AB: Not even slightly. The problem is that we allow folks to run for office while holding office. “Incumbent advantage” is crazy stupid to allow. We also should enforce vows of upper-middle class life on top politicians. I know at least four people here who would make better leaders than at least 90% of the world’s top politicians. Leadership qualities ain’t rare. But when the system is designed to choose for greed and corruption you shouldn’t be surprised when that’s what you get. But USAians will defend their 200+ year-old prototype as the ultimate in perfection (while also spitting on it as total garbage). It’s the American Way.

    Obama is way smarter than Biden and Obama’s major accomplishment was passing the Republican health care plan (as implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts).

    America definitely doesn’t need another Democratic wimp. Nothing is going to get done. The dance is set:

    GOPpers get elected and start shoving through judges and permanent tax cuts for the wealthy while distracting the working class with temporary tax cuts. The deficit soars as the country parties on its new credit card. Meanwhile, GOPpers are busy shredding anything the government does that is productive (remember, the goal is to prove that there’s nothing good about the government).

    The stench of corruption and theft gets so bad that folks vote for Democrats, whose policies they agree with but whom they despise for having the label “socialist” and for having dummies amongst their number who think up pathetic slogans like “Defund the police”, “Black lives matter” and “democratic SOCIALIST!SOCIALIST!SOCIALIST!” How about, “Help the police by lightening their load”, “Black lives matter, too”, and “Laborist”?

    Now, chanting the Dem’s own slogans while breaking/bending laws allows the GOPpers to win and deficits are the enemy and judge appointments must wait until the will of the people is heard again. Obstruction, obstruction, obstruction. “Fiscal responsibility” has a much better ring than “cause enough pain so that folks will lose their houses and property cuz that’s the only way to get sufficient blood from someone who makes $9/hr”.

    You are sweet, Nige, but the USA does not work anything remotely like New Zealand. Biden was a complete and total loss cuz the next four years of obstruction and vandalism will be labeled “Socialist”. Odds are that a Trump win would be a better result than the horrible loss we suffered this month.

    Unless a miracle happens in Georgia.

    Or 2022 brings some sanity.

    But even then, Biden ain’t no Bernie or Elizabeth. He could have an opponent by the throat while the guy is hogtied and still negotiate a win for the loser, which will be howled at as “COMMUNIST”! just like Romneycare went from the GOP’s baby to the most despised thing in the world once Obama caved in and proposed it (almost certainly because it was based on a GOP plan and he thought they would be ever so appreciative that even though the Democrats won everything policies would be tilted towards the GOP’s agenda).

    Nigel, “Phew, this swing of the pendulum got us all the way to careening over the cliff at top torque” is delusional. The GOP got theirs. They won and they get to blame all the damage they’re inflicting on the Dems and Trump. After four years of deadlock and fighting, the USA will likely go to the GOP in a landslide. This was our best shot. Aiming for “standing around for a while” might be good enough if your life doesn’t depend on sprinting.

    Bernie would have led a landslide – IF the Dems stopped chanting stupidly-worded slogans. Yeah, the underlying thoughts are generally grand, but geeeezzzz

    Or, perhaps 2024 will bring the shattering of the system. If Trump lives we could have a four-way race: GOPpers, Trumpists, Corporate Dems, and Progressives.

  29. 379
    nigelj says:

    My previous comment “Climate change is not going to wreck the economy.”

    This was a typo. I meant to say climate change ‘mitigation’ is not going to wreck the economy. This should have been obvious where I went on to argue the costs of mitigating climate change were estimated to be around 2% of global GDP per year, so not that large.

    I believe climate change could certainly wreck the economy, especially if the more dire predictions eventuate, and any climate change will damage the economy.

  30. 380
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @375, true, except I think that eventually (emphasis on eventually) the denialists do start to really believe the crap they spew. They brainwash themselves. However its still almost impossible to change their minds.

    Our job is only really to convince the moderate fence sitters.That can make a difference in a democracy.

  31. 381
    Al Bundy says:

    nigel: How on earth do we know that “the limits are real” is the only thing you are responding to?

    AB: Hi nigel. Let me introduce you to a guy I know. His name is Killian.

    I had zip, zero, nada problem understanding Killian’s point. You could cut and paste just about any of his old posts into any current discussion and few could tell that they’re anachronisms. He says the exact same thing over and over and over again.

    Please stop insisting that Killian spout more words. ;-)

  32. 382
    Al Bundy says:

    Speaking of regenerative agriculture, I like the “Lets have a think” Youtube channel and today was Killian Day…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZopUOb_7wA

  33. 383
    James Charles says:

    No need to ‘worry’?

    “How can we leave our children a better world than the one we inherited? A good start would be to help them understand how we all came to believe the environment was getting worse when in reality it’s gotten so much better.”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2020/11/30/how-to-leave-our-children-a-better-world-than-the-one-we-inherited/?sh=57b06fff1e33&emci=9fbb3877-df32-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&emdi=db5fc711-e132-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&ceid=8252262

  34. 384

    AB: Well, “we” achieved very little of value in WW2. Remember, the two villains, Germany and the USSR were slaughtering each other. The USA stupidly saved the USSR. Sounds like total failure when simply doing nothing at all would probably have led to a far better result, especially since the incident gave USAians the worst possible case of Big Head disease imaginable. Humanity and the planet have been paying for the saving of the USSR by the USA ever since.

    BPL: Are you mad? Do you really think a Nazi superstate covering Eurasia would have been better? Sorry, but my ancestors were Jewish and I’m glad the Nazis were beaten. I’m glad they only killed 6 million of them rather than the 20 million they were aiming for.

  35. 385

    E-P 358: They are not a replacement for fossil fuels either, due to intermittency.

    BPL: No matter how many times you repeat this, it still won’t be true.

  36. 386

    E-P 359: You could help by not being a hypocrite on matters of e.g. race and repeated failures of public policy.

    BPL: Your racism has nothing to do with the real world, and no one is a hypocrite for not accepting your bullshit racial pseudoscience.

  37. 387
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj: I dont know perhaps I’m verging on hype, but it almost seems like you Americans have been sleep walking into a civil war resulting from tribal politics . Anyway I hope Im wrong

    AB: O, you are way way way wrong. We’re not even remotely asleep. This fight is primal. We HATE each other. And that hatred is contagious. Why do you think the rest of the world is popping out right wing autocrats? USAian vibes are effing up the world. World effin leader my ass.

  38. 388
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj,

    Your error is that you think (like most folks) that people act out of self interest. People act out of relative interest. If one hurts oneself on purpose but it harms one’s enemy more then humans will generally go all in on harming their self, even to the point of crippling themselves or giving themselves serious brain damage. War wounds are badges of Honor, and what Patriotic Person wouldn’t trade just about anything for such a grand badge?

    Nobody charges a machine gun nest out of self interest. And we’re at war.

  39. 389
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj,

    want evidence? Some crazies killed 3000 USAians and the USA burned through tens of thousands of USAian youths along with incredible amounts of treasure in a futile scream.

    But 250,000 dead is a yawner.

  40. 390
    Mal Adapted says:

    Al Bundy:

    Denialists generally do NOT believe the crap they are spewing. They are expressing identity while preserving sunk costs. It’s a suit of armor, a tool, not a brain thing.

    Thus, logical arguments are as effective as water wets a duck. They just slide right off, penetrating approximately 0 nanometers into the denialist’s psyche.

    I think you’re largely right, but the key word is “believe”. What’s actually going on in a denier’s mind? I’m not very literate in Psychology, but IIUC it employs a systems framework like other scientific disciplines. I’m using denial in the psychological sense, as in the Wikipedia entry:

    In psychology, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.

    In psychoanalytic theory, denial is a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

    In my observation, the threshold for “too uncomfortable to accept” is low, and has a range of underlying cognitive motivators. The Wikipedia entry for denialism says:

    The motivations and causes of denialism include religion, self-interest (economic, political, or financial), and defence mechanisms meant to protect the psyche of the denialist against mentally disturbing facts and ideas.

    Ten years ago, John Mashey developed a taxonomy of public denialists, which evaluates individual deniers according to their suspected motivations. Also see his Twitter exchange of a year ago.

    But we’re really talking about the Wikipedia definition of denialism expressed with ballots, not by professional or volunteer disinformers with Twitter followers. You say:

    Their goal is to PISS YOU OFF. The most effective response may just be to LAUGH. LAUGH. LAUGH. Remember, they know they are being clowns. But that knowledge is in the core of their brain. Their executive functions are suppressing their baser layers’ logic. Laughter disrupts the suppression…

    It may be true that a denier votes just to piss me off; not me personally, of course, but “libs”. That guy may consciously employ AGW denial as armor. Well, cultural identity, i.e. one’s assimilated moral norms, appears to be powerfully motivating. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with my own political positions! So while ridiculing deniers makes me feel better, AFAIK it hasn’t motivated any of them to stop denying. Actually, it usually just pisses them off. My best hope is that the hypothetical uncommitted lurker will conclude science denial isn’t respectable. YMMV.

    A 3rd Wikipedia article says:

    The concept of denial is important in twelve-step programs where the abandonment or reversal of denial that substance dependence is problematic forms the basis of the first, fourth, fifth, eighth and tenth steps.

    I know something about substance dependence (never mind how), and I’m, er, skeptical of 12-step programs. Substituting “fossil carbon” for “substance”, our problem is to get 74 million US voters to acknowledge their dependence on it. I don’t think a 12-step Fossil Carbon Anonymous movement will help 8^(. But it’s just us talking here, anyway.

  41. 391
    mike says:

    at WBJ at 362 and AB at 373: WBJ says “And with that trailer a single woman could transport 2 or three times the water she could carry so individual women could take turns every second or third day leaving more time to take care of other needs.”

    Again, I think you are missing the point which is a water shortage. As African women are forced to walk or bike longer distances to find a water source, we can anticipate local conflict, struggle and misery over how the precious and diminishing resource is to be allocated. It’s not the distance or the means of transport that is the problem, it is a diminishing supply of water available to a resident population. And the water supply reduction are a feature of global warming, so it is reasonable to think that this situation will continue to develop and get worse as global warming continues. I mentioned the flooding experienced in South Sudan earlier. levels of flooding 2020 are higher than normal because normal is gone. We don’t live there anymore. We can and should expect water shortages and increased flooding. This is well-documented in the literature. These problems will not resolve and return the region to a somewhat stable water condition if we send bikes and trailers to help with transport and buckets and sandbags to help with flooding.

    Killian’s ideas about building soil and permaculture to manage water and even rebuild acquifers is on target, but will take a lot of time.

    Digging wells to access water for parched humans is being done. Volunteers are helping families build water/sand filters so they may turn dirty water into potable water. Volunteers and groups are engaging in sustainable gardening and water capture as best they know how and can manage.

    If folks in the industrialized world really want to help, they might consider cutting back on consumption and change their way of life to minimize the damage and suffering. If there is spare $$ available to buy and fly bikes and buckets to Africa, I would suggest instead that those $$ be delivered to the groups on the ground who are trying to create stability and reduce suffering.

    Here are a couple groups that I am connected with:

    https://friendlywater.org/
    If you are in touch there, say hi to my friend David. He is going something wonderful with his retirement.

    https://bangaafayo.org/
    If you are in touch there, say hi to my friend Joseph. Like David, doing wonderful things.

    Cheers

    Mike

  42. 392
    mike says:

    EP likes to say that green energy can’t support a 24 hr grid, but I think hydrogen looks like a relatively easy way to manage times when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow.

    A lot of the non-fossil fuel energy sources have challenges of one sort or another. Nuclear is weak as a quick scale up source, it functions well for baseload, so again, hydrogen may be a sensible way to leverage the non-fossil fuel energy supply and make them work reliably for us all.

    I think it also makes sense to mention pumped water, battery technology etc, but the point for me is that we need to stop burning fossil fuels as fast as possible or faster and figure out how the post-carbon emission world works on the fly.

    Hydrogen? https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-depth-qa-does-the-world-need-hydrogen-to-solve-climate-change?fbclid=IwAR39v9HgenMKp8PPLL3_9dKbmlgehZWSDtrcJnnj_6hnv9x5hL-ksyX1ANQ

    Pumped water? https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/pumped-storage-hydropower

    Battery technology? https://www.inverse.com/article/58147-with-tesla-megapack-elon-musk-is-quietly-shifting-hard-toward-clean-energy

    Cheers

    Mike

  43. 393

    @355:

    Instead of providing value you chose to provide, uh, ‘fertilizer’. Why?

    Oh, FFS.  You provided neither a direct quote nor a link, and I won’t bother to guess what you’re responding to.  Do better next time.  I’m enjoying my Mexican casserole smothered with Cholula hot sauce too much to bother digging.

    I agree. Babies should NOT be allowed to crawl or walk first. Babies MUST be forced to run at world class sprinter levels immediately.

    It WOULD be a piece of cake to replace CO2-spewing vehicles and power plants with PHEVs and Allam-cycle generators in perhaps 15 years.  I have nothing against the idea of using nuclear waste heat to remediate the waste water of tar sands extraction, but the economics would be destroyed very quickly by the changeover.  Tar sands are already the high-cost source in North America, and the current oil glut is putting it out of business.  What hope does it have under policy to replace it with carbon-free or -negative fuels?  I don’t see any.

    Interesting. I wasn’t aware that Canada had so many old oil wells. Interesting.

    Canada has enough.  The Dakota Gasification Company turns coal into synthetic methane and pipes the recovered CO2 to the Weyburn and Midale oil fields in Canada.  What is done there can be done in many other places.

    Nor did I know that Canada would gladly trash its tar sands infrastructure and build an entirely different one based on CO2 injection. Where is Canada going to get the CO2? How will it be transported?

    You forgot that Canada’s tar sands are already uneconomic under current conditions.  If policy replaces fossil carbon with actinide-derived electricity, things will only get worse for it.  The case for tar-sands bitumen will disappear, save perhaps for paving purposes.

    You’re not much into “getting there from here”, are you?

    I’m way ahead of you.

  44. 394

    @356:

    I accept sustainability, in Killians sense that there’s a big risk we could run out of some things. For example only a few fools think we can go on using oil literally forever.

    There are a few loons who believe that oil is produced by processes in earth’s mantle, but they are literally an insane fringe.  They cannot account for why the earth is not literally covered in tar sands, which it would be if their narrative was true.

    I suspect everyone here understands these things, but people don’t state the obvious. And what is the worst that will happen? It could slowly force civilisation back to a simpler way of life without as much modern technology and cheap electricity wont it?

    Thing is, we do not HAVE to force things back to “a simpler way of life”.  Nor do we want to.  We can slash our environmental footprint without losing a single thing we enjoy today.

  45. 395

    @373:

    I repeat, propose competitive scenarios where your “truth” can win out over others’ “truth”.

    Ye gods, don’t you have eyes?  What do you think I’ve been doing since I started commenting here… hell, since I started my blog almost 17 years ago?  Land-use impact, fatalities per TWh, useful life, materials required per rated megawatt… nuclear is the runaway winner on ALL of those figures of merit.  China seems to be the only country in the world that Gets It, though.  The city of Haiyang may be the first ever to go entirely combustion-free.

  46. 396
    Mal Adapted says:

    Me:

    turning away young voters

    Messed up the link to last year’s Memo to the GOP leadership from their veteran pollster Frank Luntz.

  47. 397

    [deleted. This is not acceptable – and your opinions on the matter are irrelevant]

  48. 398

    @392:  Have I mentioned that innumerate people are a blight upon civilization?  Case in point:

    I think it also makes sense to mention pumped water

    You have to Do. The. Math.  I’m having a hell of a time finding it again, but IIRC Form Energy’s sulfur-based flow battery can pack up to 145 Wh per liter of solution.  That’s equivalent to pumping water up a mountain that’s 53 kilometers high.  No such mountains exist, and typical PHS systems operate with a head OTOO 100 meters.  Plus, flow batteries do not require any particular geography.  Ergo, any large-scale electric storage is going to use batteries of some sort; PHS is a dead end.

    EP likes to say that green energy can’t support a 24 hr grid, but I think hydrogen looks like a relatively easy way to manage times when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow.

    It only looks easy to you because You. Will. Not. Do. The. Math.

    There are massive round-trip losses in the conversion of electricity to hydrogen and back again.  The equipment is costly both to purchase and to maintain.  Those costs are never added to the putatively-low costs of generation, which is why electric rates rise everywhere that “cheap renewables” are pushed to prominence on electric grids.

  49. 399
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @378

    I do agree with some of your criticisms of the Democrats self defeating slogans, tactics and choice of leaders. I did say Biden as Mr Sensible, not Mr Fantastic. In fact I’ve posted some very similar criticisms of the Dems over at scepticalscience.com, but I was met with a stony silence. Not sure whether that was a good or bad omen, but I felt its more useful to tell some home truths than make soothing sounds. I’ve done the same when our own liberal / left leaning parties have been weak or misguided.

    Still, I think its important to find some positives or the audience is just not going to be remotely receptive. While it mystifies me how an almost 80 year old middle of the road career politican gets to be leader, I do quite like Biden. His feet are firmly on the ground and hes not anti science. He knows he hasn’t got much time left. He may go for broke and be quite radical, especially with the climate issue. You might end up with egg on your face. And I do recall you talking about Bidens positive side.

    ————————

    Al Bundy @381

    While Killian often repeats the same sustainability message no matter what the content of a post,he doesn’t always do that. I really did think on this occassion Killian was being quite specific and thought that remewables wouldn’t provide enough energy to cover their own costs. Anyway its not all about you or ‘me’. Plenty of people not familiar with his views would certainly think he was doing just that. Still if he doesnt take my hint it is entirely his loss. No matter what I think of his views I dont like seeing him leave himself open to misinterpretation and to be so self defeating.

    ———————–

    Al Bundy @387

    Ok so you say Americans hate each other. That bad huh? You guys have just got to walk yourselves back from this. Biden is trying and I give him points. I would have been tempted to say to hell with it. The Republicans are playing so dirty and have lost touch with reality so badly its tempting to say to hell with them.

    —————————

    Al Bundy@389

    “want evidence? Some crazies killed 3000 USAians and the USA burned through tens of thousands of USAian youths along with incredible amounts of treasure in a futile scream.”

    Yeah futile and crazy. Reminds me of WW1 starting over one assassination. Obama would have been smarter and just gone after Bin Laden, although I think the Taliban had to be taught a lesson. No matter how frustrating American foreign policy gets at times, these religious fundamentalist guys are a nightmare.

  50. 400
    nigelj says:

    Engineer-Poet @356

    “There are a few loons who believe that oil is produced by processes in earth’s mantle, but they are literally an insane fringe. They cannot account for why the earth is not literally covered in tar sands, which it would be if their narrative was true.”

    Yeah I’ve heard of this Russian abiogenic oil formation hypothesis. Sounds completey crazy and implausible. There can be no dispute that coal is formed from dead organic matter, so its not a stretch of reasoning to think oil is formed in the same way but from different organic matter. In any event even if oil WAS formed from carbon within the crust (it isnt), its clearly such a slow process its not going to provide oil for all eternity because discoveries of large new oil fields have been going down since about the 1970s and America is resorting to fracking, so is already scraping the bottom of the barrel. 100 years and oil will essentially all be gone. Gas and coal will last a bit longer. As others have pointed out instead of burning all these materials wecould be conserving them for petrochemicals. This is a bonus from climate change mitigation which doesnt seem to figure in so called economic analysis.

    “Thing is, we do not HAVE to force things back to “a simpler way of life”. Nor do we want to. We can slash our environmental footprint without losing a single thing we enjoy today.”

    I didn’t say we have to force things back to a simpler way of life, just that eventually a simpler way of life looks inevitable to me because resources are finite and some are quite scarce. I dont see how you can get beyond that fact, short of mining asteroids which faces big challenges. But its a matter of degree, and I think we are talking a long time before running out, like many centuries to millenia. Many materials can be recycled multiple times with virtually no degradation so this will prolong what we do.

    But the point is if we ‘do’ end up back with a simpler lifetyle on long term scales so what? The only constant is change like this, human beings will adapt to it. We started with simple lifestyles and might just end up back there. The issue is to avoid an abrupt sort of transition.

    But Im certainly not saying we should embrace all this, and deliberately hasten the process and start throwing out technology we take for granted.

    I agree we can slash our environmental footprint without draconian lifestyle changes. Eliminating waste would go some way to doing this. It’s a case of looking at the issues problem by problem. I’m somewhat suspicious of over arching environmental philosophies, and utopian societies and plans. This sort of thing does not have a good historical record. Even the term sustainability can be frustrating and slogan like. However I think its important to have a few basic principles and core ideas to guide us.