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Unforced variations: Dec 2016

Filed under: — group @ 1 December 2016

This month’s open thread. Roll on 2017…

302 Responses to “Unforced variations: Dec 2016”

  1. 151


    Syndicalism is sort of like socialism, but more anarchist as to government–unions merge with companies and the workers elect their managers, who appoint representatives to trade councils, and some sort of industry council runs the country. Very like the US home-grown version of Marxism, De Leonism (for theorist Danial de Leon), which still lives in the small Socialist Labor Party (SLP). I gave up on it a long time ago, though. They had something like it in Yugoslavia before the break-up, and in Algeria. Didn’t work out as well as they hoped.

  2. 152
    mike says:

    Daily CO2

    December 14, 2016: 404.49 ppm
    December 14 2015: 402.82 ppm

    1.47 ppm increase in noisy number. This is typical of what has been happening now day after day. I think December will not be the flat month, but instead will be a negative number where the Monthly CO2 increase average for Dec 2015 will be higher than the monthly CO2 increase average for Dec 2016.

    I expect a lot of people to misunderstand what this means. And I expect some people will misrepresent what it means. What these numbers are really about is the extreme jump in CO2 ppm increase that occurred in Dec 2015. That was a heckuva a steep el nino bump that happened in Dec 2015.

    The real story at this point with the CO2 numbers is that we are over 404 and continuing to rise and Crowther suggests that we are now getting unneeded help with the rise from changes in traditional carbon sink of soil.

    Get scared if you want. Getting scared may or may not make sense. Your results will vary.



  3. 153
    Believe it says:

    One more adjective should probably tossed in there about Trump: Paranoid. This is not to be gratuitously deprecatory. Just informative.

  4. 154
    MA Rodger says:

    GISTEMP has posted for November with an anomaly of +0.95ºC. This is the second hottest November on record, below last year’s +1.02ºC & ahead of 3rd-place 2013’s +0.81ºC.
    November’s anomaly stands as the 10th warmest month in the full record. The average anomaly for 2016-to-date is running at +1.006ºC, the final decimal point showing the 1ºC is still exceeded (but unlikely to hold over the full year). This compares with the average for the last 12-months of +1.015ºC and the average for the last calendar year (also presently the record calendar year) of +0.87ºC. The December 2016’s anomaly would have to drop below -0.71ºC to fail to gain the ‘warmest calendar year’ accolade. Within the full record, the December anomaly did manage to get below -0.71ºC just the once, in 1916.
    The anomalies for 2015/16 and their rankings within the full record are as follows:-
    2015.. 1 … +0.81ºC … = 25th
    2015.. 2 … +0.87ºC . = 19th
    2015.. 3 … +0.90ºC . = 14th
    2015.. 4 … +0.74ºC . = 55th
    2015.. 5 … +0.77ºC . = 40th
    2015.. 6 … +0.78ºC . = 32nd
    2015.. 7 … +0.72ºC . = 66th
    2015.. 8 … +0.78ºC . = 32nd
    2015.. 9 … +0.81ºC . = 25th
    2015. 10 … +1.06ºC … 6th
    2015. 11 … +1.02ºC … 7th
    2015. 12 … +1.11ºC … 4th
    2016.. 1 … +1.15ºC … 3rd
    2016.. 2 … +1.33ºC … 1st
    2016.. 3 … +1.29ºC … 2nd
    2016.. 4 … +1.08ºC … 5th
    2016.. 5 … +0.93ºC … 11th
    2016.. 6 … +0.75ºC . =48th
    2016.. 7 … +0.83ºC … 23rd
    2016.. 8 … +0.98ºC … 8th
    2016.. 9 … +0.90ºC . =14th
    2016..10 … +0.88ºC … 18th
    2016..11 … +0.88ºC … 10th

  5. 155
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Re: 150 – “In Other Words: It backfired and we need to lie so as not to appear thuggish.”

    Just delayed. Once Drumpf has his people in charge of the Department, the list will be compiled by the department director. No fuss, no muss.

    America is getting what it elected, and it’s going to get it deep and hard.

  6. 156
    Hank Roberts says:

    Getting TL/DR in here.

    But here’s (sigh) a NASA video modeling Earth as a flat disk:

    Following Carbon Dioxide Through the Atmosphere
    NASA Goddard

  7. 157
    Thomas says:

    153 Believe it says: “One more adjective should probably tossed in there about Trump: Paranoid. This is not to be gratuitously deprecatory. Just informative.”

    Good point.

    And Obama’s Legacy will be known in the history books as: “No We Can’t”

    This too is not to be gratuitously deprecatory. Just informative.

  8. 158
    Thomas says:

    “Didn’t work out as well as they hoped.”

    Neither has America’s democratic republicanism.

  9. 159
    Thomas says:

    As I have been saying: “The United States of Denial
    : forces behind Trump have run Australia’s climate policy for years” Graham Readfearn
    In the US, there is a large and well-funded network of so called “free market” [Fraudulent Unscientific Economic] thinktanks that pumps out manufactured doubt on climate change science with the help of funding from the fossil fuel industry.”

    “One Nation senator joins new world order of climate change denial” Graham Readfearn Malcolm Roberts attends meeting with Trump EPA transition team head Myron Ebell and other longtime deniers

    Thanks for nothing my American’t friends. This is what 8 years of “No We Can’t” Obama (and a Hillary) has given to the world?

    Wow. Great. Really impressive.

    Robert Scribbler’s answer?
    “But many, many of us will have to follow his lead if we are to have much hope of making it through this difficult time. We need to all be ready to fight. To speak out. And to commit substantial resources to the effort.”

    Yeah right. More of the same useless ineffective rhetoric by the usual culprits. Hey, how about a carbon tax to wash down all that Hope?

    Insanity: Doing the same things over and over and over again, but expecting a different result.

    Here’s a much better ‘logical’ idea – Blame it all on Putin instead!

    If you believe that latest CIA Myth out of Obama’s lying incompetent mouth then you must also believe that unmanned aircraft flew into the WTC on 9/11 and the CIA is definitely going to find WMD in Iraq anytime soon and the CIA had nothing to do with arms from Libya ending up with ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

    (shaking my head)

    Sometimes it isn’t obvious when people are shirking their responsibilities, but there are several signs to watch out for:
    Blaming others for mistakes and failures.
    Missing deadlines.
    Avoiding challenging tasks and projects; and not taking risks.
    Regularly complaining about unfair treatment by team leaders and team members – and engaging in self-pity.
    Avoiding taking initiative, and being dependent on others for work, advice, and instructions.
    Lacking trust in team members and leaders. [Understandable in the USA]
    Making excuses regularly – they may often say “It’s not my fault,” or, “That’s unfair.”

    Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the Democrats and Pro-agw/cc action Bloggers are world experts at all the above.

    “It’s not our fault!” they have cried 24/7 for the last 8 years and all up for the last 25 years.

    “It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.” Sophocles

    But at least blaming Putin, blaming it all on Trump, and blaming unemployed mid-west voters in WS, MI & PA might ease the cognitive dissonance for a short while.

    So, when in Rome, do as the Romans do – I’m blaming it all on American’ts. :-)

  10. 160
    BojanD says:

    #140 Thanks zebra. Yes, that’s exactly what I thought. I didn’t mean instrumental calibration.

    Even if this “calibration” is not as direct, it’s probably not a good sign when there’s mismatch between satellite and balloon data, as is the case for RSS.

  11. 161
    zebra says:

    BPL 151,

    I understand– but what popped into my mind was all the autonomous Uber cars in each city becoming more and more interconnected in a more sophisticated network, and the autonomous UPS trucks, and autonomous municipal buses, and then interconnections between cities, and so on.

    I thought I was channeling some sci-fi from the past where the term itself was not used but the concept was implicit– specialized robots representing the particular trade unions. But maybe I’m just making it up.

    As to whether it is a good idea or not, I think robots might make it work, but humans not so much. While there are good union folk, they tend to be in locations where members have had at least a solid K12 education, and racism is at least less overt. Coal miners and UAW are not going to be great allies in the climate wars.

  12. 162
    Daniel says:

    As a concerned youth reading some of the things that people are saying here, I’m curious how long the informed scientists who are commenting here suspect we in the West have in terms of BAU before we experience climate related civilisation collapse? I realise it’s an unscientific question as it is hard to extrapolate the observables we are seeing to such a complex system, but I am genuinely curious if the more informed community feels that say by 2050 if we don’t change our BAU approach that maybe there won’t be any of us left to keep contributing to climate change.


  13. 163
    Deb O'Dell says:

    A nice article by Brad Plumer at Vox news about slr:

    “The maddening, uncertain reality of sea-level rise”

  14. 164
    Martinjb says:

    Thomas, honestly, do you really think your screeds are convincing anyone of anything? Yet you keep writing them… what was that you said about doing the same futile thing over and over again? Or maybe that doesn’t apply if you’re convinced of your own righteousness.

  15. 165

    Daniel 162,

    The UK Foreign Office says 2040. I checked it and came up with a similar figure, though I now have reservations about my own math. (Gavin, can you give me any comments on that paper?)

  16. 166
    MA Rodger says:

    Daniel @162,
    I may not be one of your ”informed scientists who are commenting here“ but you are right to doubt your question is easily answerable. In my opinion, you ask an important but impossible question. Your question will doubtless generate a considerable wordage in response. Here is mine.

    A fair reading of the whole IPCC probably yields the answer that we have two decades-worth of carbon emissions (today’s rates) and after that we will be into a ‘warming 2°C and above’ which is when bad things can happen including potentially ”in the West …climate related civilisation collapse.” But that does not mean that in two decades time under BAU we will be experiencing ‘warming 2°C and above’ or provide a timing for bad things. The climate (& world civilisation) are big systems which react over long time frames, although that said, prod them long enough and hard enough and they can also bite very very quickly.
    Perhaps it would be better to ask ‘What are the mechanisms by which civilisation could fail under AGW?’ The answers to this should be dealt with under the IPCC Working Group II which address vulnerabilities to, impacts of and adaptations to climate change. (WGI considers the science so we know what AGW is & WGIII addresses mitigation: how to limit the size of AGW.) and particularly WGII B – FUTURE RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADAPTATION.
    You will note WGII does not diectly address the question ”how long (do) we in the West have in terms of BAU before we experience climate related civilisation collapse?” Instead the work when seen in full is perhaps more despairing. It is analagous to learning the noble profession of medicine but where the ‘desease’ being treated is self-mutilation, and at levels that vary from, say, unfortunate tattoos through to self-decapitation. Study of such a subject at a broad level requires a thick skin or even psycopathy. It is perhaps like planning the needs of a busy military field hospital for what is obviously a totally and utterly pointless war.
    WGII provide the following overview.

    Global aggregate impacts: Risks of global aggregate impacts are moderate for additional warming between 1–2°C, reflecting impacts to both Earth’s biodiversity and the overall global economy (medium confidence). Extensive biodiversity loss with associated loss of ecosystem goods and services results in high risks around 3°C additional warming (high confidence). Aggregate economic damages accelerate with increasing temperature (limited evidence, high agreement), but few quantitative estimates have been completed for additional warming around 3°C or above.

    This last point cocerning “warming around 3°C or above“ is best illustrated by the content of BOX TS.6: ‘Consequences of large temperature increase’ (or by the lack of content). The concept ”large temperature increase” is expressed as ”e.g., 4°C warming. “

    As for actually addressing the quesitions (yours & mine), they should have been answered within Chapter 12 ‘Human Security’ perhaps specifically within Section 2.6. ‘State Integrity and Geopolitical Rivalry ‘
    I do see the answers there but not well defined. (Overall, the actual text, for a less-than-thoughtful reader, is almost laughable. Will an inquiring observer, let alone a climate sceptic, care much that ”climate change impacts will reduce Ethiopia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by nearly 10%.”! Ten percent? That’s $5bn in real money, globally about 2% of a moderate Brexit.)
    What WGII is telling me is, firstly, the impacts on civiisation that are going to count will not be characterised by slow and steady change but will be jerky with climate events appearing which then occur with increasing frequency and severity – floods, droughts, heat waves, mass migrations, local eco-system collapse, mass deaths. While the majority of this will not appear to directly impact ”we in the West” who also have the greater abilties to adapt, this cannot be seen as a viable defence against AGW. The West is less vulnerable but not immune. We can also expect the odd step-change and that may provide a ”No one saw that coming!!” moment for the world community to digest. (The AMOC is perhaps a good candidate for such change.)
    And that neatly leads to the secomd message intimated by WGII. The biggest unknown is how the world will react when it is confronted by mounting AGW. It is not unlikely that such a reaction will not be helpful for mitigating AGW or assisting adaptation at a global level.

    But the crux of your question was surely “how long?” We, I’m sixty years old with a life expectancy of another couple of decades or so. So I should be around to see if we manage to keep below that ‘ two decades-worth of carbon emissions (today’s rates)’ or not. If we don’t manage it, and putting aside the fascist sollution to AGW, I would be surprised if I was still around see the answer to your question played out.

  17. 167
    Russell says:

    Wake up and smell the eggnog, Thomas-

    Arctic ice is retreating because a red commisar with a reindeer whip has driven shock brigades of North Pole syndicalists to Stakharovite levels of carbon-intensive toy production.

  18. 168
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    157 – “And Obama’s Legacy will be known in the history books as: “No We Can’t””

    Given that congress blocked every one of Obama’s policies to the full extent they could, and Obama had to resort to presidential signing statements to get anything done, the correct slogan for to remember the Obama administration will be “Action blocked by Republican Traitors.”

    This will be part of all future history texts.

  19. 169
    David B. Benson says:

    Daniel — Has civilization collapsed in the Middle East? What is happening in at least Syria is drought related. That the Middle East is drying is a conclusion that follows climatic warming.

  20. 170
    Thomas says:

    164 Martinjb, let me ask you 2 questions. 1) What do you think I am trying to convince anyone of? and 2) Sum up in few short words what it is that you think my opinion is about xyz issues/s?

    And if you or anyone else disagrees with said ‘opinion’ or presenting xyz known science/facts here, feel free to present your own better opinion and science/facts.

    btw recently, someone wrote to RC and said: “Placing CO2 between a thermometer and a source of energy will not cause the thermometer to become hotter.”

    So what do you think is wrong with these people who think / believe like this? Apparently there are 100s of millions of them.

  21. 171
    Thomas says:

    134 zebra says, amongst other things: “So, if I can choose freely which of six OS to put on my machine, are you saying that isn’t a free market?”

    Rhetorical questions like this are covert Logical Fallacies based upon false framing and false assumptions.

    The range of choices for any product is totally irrelevant as to whether or not there is a ‘free market’ (or Laissez-faire market) in place for said products. The # of OS types for sale is not determined by ‘free markets’ nor by ‘price’ nor by ‘consumers’ alone.

    There is no ‘economic market’ in existence that is not already constrained by and Price sensitive to the existing Laws and Regulations affecting that ‘market/sector.’ (If you disagree then please name one.)

    Whereas generic ‘free market forces’ do operate within all these Regulated so-called ‘level playing field’ markets of each sector/product/service industry.

    All are systemically bounded by applicable Laws and Regulations that (in essence) ‘controls/determines’ what actions/behavior is or isn’t socially acceptable today.

    Every Law and Regulation may well have an impact on ‘market forces’ but they do not interfere in the freedoms of business nor consumers to choose what they want in the relevant domain/industry. Price signals arise of their own accord, naturally, within the bounded domain (or Market) that is directed impacted and controlled by the existing Laws, Regulations and Social acceptance – all of which vary and change over time completely outside the power and ability of Business to control, predict or influence over and above Society (reflected in Govt) as a whole.

    When a Govt imposes a direct $ Price or Tax manipulation of a specific ‘product/market’ but not equally upon all other sectors in the economy then that Government is specifically interfering in and manipulating the ‘free market’ forces of that sector and the economy as a whole.

    A $/% impost creates the ongoing opportunity for ‘noncompetitive’, ‘less productive’ and ‘harmful’ practices to be continued within a defined ‘market sector’.

    So, the use Carbon Taxes, ETS and F&D to ‘theoretically’ drive down FF use over time is in fact a direct intervention in the ‘free market’ of a sector, and is not an example of ‘markets’ being able to solve problems or change existing human behavior.

    Where a Regulation on FF use directly effects permissible actions under Law, a Carbon Tax enables the ongoing greater use of Fossil Fuels over time by directly manipulating the increasing price signals in a market sector. This renders Energy as LESS a ‘free market’ than it was before or otherwise could have been.

    Both Cap’n’Trade ETS and Carbon Taxes promote a Society Approval for the ongoing pollution to continue. It becomes a kind of reverse Subsidy to keep on Polluting especially when the Sale of permits include grandfathering and Free permits to specific sectors of industry – which is again another example of the Govt intervening in the Market to “pick winners” aka letting the “losers off scot free” with a financial BONUS paid for by both the Energy Consumer and the Taxpayer.

    Who is the winner? FF energy shareholders – that’s who! Who is the biggest loser of such things – the Environment and all that it means to People long term.

    A new Regulation which say imposes a Moratorium on new Coal Mines and the expansion of existing mining leases would by default introduce a natural supply/demand price signal, but what that price is exactly will be determined by the ‘free market forces’ in play overall within the mining/energy sectors and not by Govt decree.

    Things like ‘Carbon Taxes’ in fact destabilizes the ‘free market forces’ in play and pushes overall energy costs up across the board (aka Price Points) which causes economic harm to the public good, reduces individual disposable discretionary income, and is therefore an economy wide harm to GDP over and above the existing public harm being being done by FF use itself.

    This destabilization is ongoing thus creating uncertainty in the relevant economic sectors which harms the decision making ability of both consumers and business investment strategies for the future.

    All Industrial sectors whose key energy source is fossil fuels, eg electricity power generators, need a clear future certainty about how much and for how long it is acceptable for them to use FF.

    A carbon tax, an ETS, and a F&D system do not provide the same high degree of certainty which corporations require to make informed long term business/ROI/financing decisions that would satisfy their shareholders and business ‘world’s best practice.’

    The uncertainty is being mainly driven by unknown levels of Risk involved. Placing a moving price on ‘carbon emissions’ causes less future clarity, greater confusion about the short and long term futures, and therefore increases Risk of every Investment decision.

    Telling an electricity generator that by 2025-2030-2040 they can only Use Coal fired power for X% of their total electricity income provides the clarity and certainty such a Company needs to plan ahead.

    It also has zero effect on the existing ‘free market forces’ of that Sector which remain exactly the same as always. But it clearly defines what is and what is not socially acceptable for that sector into the future.

    All electricity generators then have the time and freedom to decide if they are in the ‘wholesale electricity supply market’ or in the ‘coal fired power station market’ which they know for certain (under Law/Regulation) will cease to exist circa 2030-2040. Then apply this same kind of regulatory approach across Oil, Gas and Aviation fossil fuels sectors.

    This is the kind of certainty the FF connected Industry Sectors need for them to act responsibly with aforethought after being adequately informed by science best practice as to what the long term Society Goals really are. Which is to stop using fossil fuels for Energy on this Earth.

    One of the biggest fallacies about Govt Regulation is that it fails because it requires Govt to ‘pick winners’ and that that is said to be impossible.

    This is false because Regulation of the use of GHG producing Fossil Fuels and Land clearing/uses only requires Society and the Govt to ‘pick the loser’

    The loser is Fossil Fuels from mine/wellhead to energy end use practices. Regulating the energy efficiency of vehicles and appliances simultaneous equally assists in the uptake of alternative energy supply – plus lowers the energy cost component for all consumers into the future – a cost saving for everyone.

    Subsidies for renewable energy supply are the reverse of a carbon tax which still distorts the market place and increases Price/Costs to everyone. Such industry support can be a industry investment and consumer incentive however they must be used sparingly over short periods of time and never be allowed to become permanent – which has happened with various fossil fuel related subsidies across multiple industries and implemented via the Tax codes and boondoggles.

    The above all seems so blatantly obvious as to be undeniable. But it very much depends on the readers own knowledge base and level of experience in Business and Marketing and with Consumers and Industry norms.

    Related – if you imagine that science is complex and challenging, then I suggest you should try running a business and possessing the wherewithal to be successful over the long term.

    Some may find it difficult to see and follow the ‘obvious’ connections between the listed urls plus know what they ‘mean’ and how they affect ‘business’ and then be able to arrive at several possible ‘rational logical conclusions’. But this doesn’t mean it has no value and worth ignoring.

    The world needs both scientists and business people of high character. One is not better than the other because it is not a ‘competition’ – it’s horses for courses.

    And I specifically and intentionally say ‘business people of high character’ – not politicians, not shareholders, and definitely not economists or ‘pseudo’ think tanks.

    But if scientists and those who are into protecting and supporting climate scientists imagine business is easy and their input and experience is not needed to solve/mitigate the AGW/CC problem then you’re sadly mistaken.

    The problem is as always in every human endeavor: Which one’s to listen to and who to believe?

    It’s clear many have already decided not to heed the advice and insights of the best scientists on the planet. C’est la vie.

  22. 172
    Thomas says:

    Cutting FF use is a harder problem than would normally apply because Energy is a critical part of every sector of the national economy and especially mining, heavy industry, transport, manufacturing to retail.

    Almost all that happens in the home and business is based on the Assumptions being tied into our established STRUCTURAL ‘Energy’ System – as if it’s the center part of a cobweb.

    Any change made to the Energy status quo / and costs will have a ‘unknown / unpredictable’ ripple effect across economy wide sectors.
    eg MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standard) is a specification, containing a number of performance requirements for an energy-using device, that effectively limits the maximum amount of energy that may be consumed by a product in performing a specified task. A MEPS is usually made mandatory by a government energy efficiency body.
    For more than two decades, household refrigerators and freezers have been subject to strict federal energy standards, determined by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
    MEPS are mandatory for a range of products in Australia and New Zealand. These products must be registered through an online register and meet a number of legal requirements before they can be sold in either of these countries. To find out the MEPS requirements for a particular product check the relevant Australian GEMS determination or New Zealand regulation on the regulated products page.

    I’d like to see a 3 yr review of MEPS – where the ‘minimum energy standard’ allowed to be sold (oecd or globally if possible) was at least 75% of world’s Best Practice at the time.

    With an added “Price” incentive where all the “best practice” appliances were given a State/Federal Sales Tax Cut (or similar) to give them a competitive advantage, which would also motivate ongoing R&D in energy efficiency.

    Meanwhile all manufacturers are operating on the same ‘level playing field’ – knowing every 3 years the standard may rise again. Manufacturers who can best the projected standard 6+ years ahead will gain many competitive advantages and economies of scale which will then be reflected in a lower retail price.

    I think it would help everyone (business and customers) if these kinds of standards could be globally aligned as much as possible. Many different standards apply atm and that makes the end product more costly than it otherwise could be.

    The end result is that business and retail customers save money and use less energy – good responsive Regulation of energy efficiency standards drives innovation, encourages competition and guarantees everyone saves on Energy costs, no matter where the electricity supply comes from.


    Back in Dec 2015, the Republican’s in Congress promised to “shred” the Paris climate agreement if they could.

    In the United States, the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2025. To achieve that, the Obama administration is being forced to count mainly on several laws that are already on the books, rather than pursue new regulation.

    That’s because the Republican-controlled Congress has vowed to block any climate legislation and to rescind the laws already in place. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, said last week that President Obama was “making promises he can’t keep,” warning that the Paris agreement “is subject to being shredded in 13 months” if Republicans win the White House.

    The Nov. ’16 elections appears to be a definite mandate by the Voters for the Republican controlled Congress and the Trump White House to do just that.


    Look at it this way. A study by Michael Greenstone and Thomas Covert of the University of Chicago and Professor Knittel concluded that at current battery prices, for an electric vehicle to be cheaper to run than a gas-power car, oil would have to cost $350 a barrel. Last year, it averaged $50. To make up the difference would require a carbon tax of $700 a ton of carbon dioxide.

    Just sharing.

  23. 173
    Thomas says:

    I really like and respect Kevin Anderson and have done so for years.

    eg a recent missive extract:

    “It is this fuzzy duality that provides the context for my thinking on climate change – and most other issues. When I focus on the individual, I’m seeing them, typically, as a symbolic but essential catalyst for collective (system) change.

    The individual dimension of my focus is on those of us who, by good fortune rather than our own peculiarly hard endeavour (with the odd exception), find ourselves occupying influential positions. As such we have much greater wherewithal and opportunity to initiate rapid and deep change – and in a sense I view this as a ‘duty’ that rightly accompanies our fortunate happenstance. Let me add here – I do not think this is how it should be, but rather that it is an outcome of the huge power asymmetry that our society has still failed to address – an asymmetry that I think is neither healthy nor inevitable.

    So individuals are solely an ignition source for the flames from which a Phoenix may arise – but only if others and ultimately institutions are mobilised. In my realm of academia, individual students, researchers and academics can have major influence in catalysing progressive revolutions within their own institutions – divestment being one such example. Similarly, the sacking and subsequent protests by Mary Manning, a young cashier at a major Irish store who refused to put ‘apartheid’ fruit through her till – catalysed a change in Ireland’s national legislation.

    It is this system-level interpretation – where vociferous individuals coalescing to form casual collectives that subsequently drive change within larger formal institutions – that always informs my references to individual action, lifestyles, etc.”

    […] “It is those of us who write and read ramblings such as this who are disproportionately both the problem and the solution to climate change. But such responsibility weighs heavy, it is much easier to point the finger of blame elsewhere.”
    Stick him in your bookmarks under Climate. :-)

  24. 174
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Martinjb says:
    16 Dec 2016 at 11:58 PM
    Thomas, honestly, do you really think your screeds are convincing anyone of anything? Yet you keep writing them… what was that you said about doing the same futile thing over and over again? Or maybe that doesn’t apply if you’re convinced of your own righteousness.”

    > As soon as I read the name “Thomas” I can’t scroll fast enough and it takes forever to get to the end of his prodigious load of picayune tripe.

  25. 175
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @162 Daniel…. How long on a BAU,

    I’ve asked this very question many times and the answer I get most often is ~ 2035-2040. Lloyds of London has this:

    Munich Re has this:

    The Pentagon has this:

    It’s not looking good. Trump will probably run out the clock.

  26. 176
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Golly Thomas,
    What’s it like to be so politically pure that you refuse to even wipe your own arse?

  27. 177
    Brian Dodge says:

    Regarding sea level rise –
    Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE; I. Velicogna; GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L19503, 2009; doi:10.1029/2009GL040222
    “The best fitting estimate for the acceleration in ice sheet mass loss for the observed period is 30 ± 11 Gt/yr2 for Greenland and 26 ± 14 Gt/yr2 for Antarctica. This corresponds to 0.09 ± 0.03 mm/yr2 of sea level rise from Greenland and 0.08 ± 0.04 mm/yr2 from Antarctica.”
    “To verify that the improvement obtained with the quadratic model is significant we used an F-test [e.g., Berry and Feldman, 1985]. The F-test show that the improvement obtained with the quadratic fit is statistical significant at a very high confidence level.”
    “We showed that a detailed analysis of the GRACE time series over the time period 2002–2009 unambiguously reveals an increase in mass loss from both ice sheets. The combined contribution of Greenland and Antarctica to global sea level rise is accelerating at a rate of 56 ± 17 Gt/yr2 during April 2002–February 2009, which corresponds to an equivalent acceleration in sea level rise of 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr2 during this time. This large acceleration explains a large share of the different GRACE estimates of ice sheet mass loss published in recent years. It also illustrates that the two ice sheets play an important role in the total contribution to sea level at present, and that contribution is continuously and rapidly growing.”

    If one plugs that 0.17 ±0.05 mm/yr^2 into a quadratic spreadsheet model, 1 meter of sea level rise occurs somewhere between 2080 and 2093; one might notice that the time when Antarctic observations in (might be paywalled) really start to accelerate is post 2009, after the observations in Velicogna et al. As is noted in “Dynamic thinning of glaciers on the Southern Antarctic Peninsula”; B. Wouters, A. Martin-Español, V. Helm, T. Flament, J. M. van Wessem, S. R. M. Ligtenberg, M. R. van den Broeke, J. L. Bamber Science 22 May 2015: Vol. 348 no. 6237 pp. 899-903; DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5727
    ” Ice mass loss of the marine-terminating glaciers has rapidly accelerated from close to balance in the 2000s to a sustained rate of –56 ± 8 gigatons per year, constituting a major fraction of Antarctica’s contribution to rising sea level. The widespread, simultaneous nature of the acceleration, in the absence of a persistent atmospheric forcing, points to an oceanic driving mechanism.”
    “This suggests a remarkable rate of acceleration in dynamic mass loss since about 2009 that must have been near-simultaneous across multiple basins and glaciers.”
    “The GRACE data shows an increase in mass loss in our region of interest (fig. S6) and are consistent with the ICESat/Envisat and Cryosat-2 observations within uncertainties at all time intervals.”
    “Combining the Cryosat-2– and GRACE-derived rates yields an error-weighted mean mass loss of 56 ± 8 Gt/year for July 2010 to April 2014.”

    One can also import GRACE data from into an excel spreadsheet, sum the Greenland and Antarctic ice melt, plot the result, and have Excel calculate a 2nd order (quadratic) polynomial trend line, and calculate the R^2 – which is 0.985. Given the known instabilities of large ice masses, and the physical underpinnings of significant Antarctic ice streams, continued acceleration and higher order feedbacks/instabilities pose serious risks of abrupt sea level rise. A third order polynomial fit to the Greenland/Antarctic melt is slightly better, R^2=0.988. So what, you might ask? Well, what order polynomial fit would describe the collapse of Larsen B?
    “Here we show that in the Parallel Ice Sheet Model, a local destabilization causes a complete disintegration of the marine ice in West Antarctica. In our simulations, at 5-km horizontal resolution, the region disequilibrates after 60 y of currently observed melt rates.. Thereafter, the marine ice-sheet instability fully unfolds and is not halted by topographic features. In fact, the ice loss in Amundsen Sea sector shifts the catchment’s ice divide toward the Filchner–Ronne and Ross ice shelves, which initiates grounding-line retreat there.” We’ve got only sixty years at current rates – but the current rates are accelerating. “… you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?”

  28. 178
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @171, I basically agree with the general thrust of that, but man that could have been said a bit more concisely.

    You claim carbon taxes and an ets are impositions on a free market, and you claim that a limit on new coal mines would not be.

    Actually anything the government mandates is an imposition on any form of free market, its just that specific rules are indeed arguably less of an imposition than a tax. So I mainly agree with you.

    I think markets have failed to resolve the climate issue voluntarily, so governments are entitled to intervene. Its a question of the best intervention. The limits you discuss are preferable in my view over something like cap and trade, both economically, philosophically and functionally in terms of getting actual results.

    Cap and trade can be manipulated and rorted and carbon taxes could have the unintended consequences of sending the wrong price signal. The ideal solution would be limits on fossil fuel production, second option a carbon tax and in last place cap and trade.

    The issue is really more about politics. Cap and trade was promoted to appease business as a business friendly idea. Politicians are scared about carbon taxes and how the public would react. Politicians are scared that direct controls on fossil fuel extraction would inflame their oil company political donors as well as scare the public.

    In fact the most pragmatic option and the one that has gained public acceptance in a couple of countries is a carbon tax. Its not ideal, but it may be the most politically workable, oddly enough. I say oddly enough because people sometimes don’t like new taxes, but a carbon tax is relatively upfront and has some similarities to a tobacco tax, which people do generally accept as a useful tax.

    Remember the price signal is unlikely to encourage oil extraction as its only a retail price signal. Carbon taxes are a middle range sort of intervention, and the money raised can be directed to the best possible things related to climate issues.

  29. 179

    Why Marxism Failed. 1. The Labor theory of value.

    Supply and demand setting prices is a fairly simple concept. But economists, believe it or not, did not understand how this worked until the 1860s!

    Why does someone pay an immense amount of money for a diamond, which has few practical uses, but little or nothing for water, which we all need to live? Adam Smith, David Ricardo and other “classical” (1700s-1800s) economists proposed “the labor theory of value.” Water is widespread enough that it takes little effort to get it, so it has little labor value. Diamonds take an immense amount of work to extract from rock and cut into shape, and they may involve traveling great distances and setting up facilities outside your home country. Thus they have a very high labor value.

    It was wrong, but it sounded plausible, and held sway as the consensus of professional economic opinion for almost two centuries. The last of the great classical economists was Karl Marx, who set out his theory of how economies worked in Das Kapital (published in separate volumes in 1867, 1885 and 1894). He had earlier outlined his political goals in a slim volume co-written with Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848).

    Marx based his theory on classical economics. The labor theory of value was necessary to his whole conception.

  30. 180

    Why Marxism Failed. 2. National income.

    The income of people in an economy can be broken down into four main types, plus a host of accounting tricks used to calculate national income. I list them here for the United States, third quarter 2016 (annualized figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis). The units are billions of current dollars.

    Wages…………. 10176.9 (“Compensation of employees”)
    Profits……….. _3577.6 (“Proprietor’s income,” plus “Corporate profits”)*
    Rent………….. __706.8 (“Rental income of persons”)
    Interest………. __489.7 (“Net interest and miscellaneous payments”)

    NATIONAL INCOME… 16,273.0
    Discrepancy……. .1,322.0 (accounting stuff no one but economists cares about)

    * Plus benefits.

    The table oversimplifies grossly, but it does show the main categories. Wages and salaries are what workers make, and make up the lion’s share of national income, since most people are workers of one kind or another. Proprietor’s income is income from a self-owned business where one person is usually both the owner and the only worker. Corporate profits are what the big (and little) corporations make on their sales. Rent is income from owning property and letting someone else use it. Interest is what you get from stocks or bonds or bank accounts you own.

  31. 181

    Why Marxism Failed. 3. Exploitation.

    The point of my listing all this national income stuff is that to Marx, and Marxists, all forms of income other than wages are illegitimate. No labor goes into making profits, rent, or interest, except indirectly. Marx called all such income “surplus value” stolen from the workers. The appropriation of this value by the middle class, or whoever the owners, renters and bankers are, is “exploitation.”

    Take note of that, and pay attention when you read protest signs or speeches by far-leftists. Marxists define making money any way other than from labor as exploitation. It doesn’t have to work by forcing children to labor in your smoky factory fourteen hours a day. Getting income any other way than from labor is exploitation all by itself. Note, too, that when a Marxist talks about “excess profits,” he means all profits, even profits of 0.1 cent on the dollar. If he means anything else he doesn’t understand his own ideology. We’re all against “exploitation,” but when Marxists use the term they are indulging a fallacy of equivocation. After all, everybody is against “exploitation.”

  32. 182

    Why Marxism Failed. 4. Surplus value.

    To a Marxist, the fraction of “surplus value” in US National Income is not just the 37.5 that isn’t from labor. It’s calculated with reference to wages alone:

    NI – W
    SV = ——————

    where SV is surplus value, NI national income, W wage income. For our table above, the surplus value in the US economy in 2016 quarter III would be 59.9%. And strict Marxists would think it even higher; some would not count salaries as wages.

  33. 183

    Why Marxism Failed. 5. Marxist business-cycle theory.

    Marx did much elaborate theorizing on this basis. In a market economy, he said, competition would reduce the profit level more and more with time. This was “the Law of Falling Profit.” Owners would fight this tendency by squeezing the workers more and more. But in doing so, they would cause frequent “crises of overproduction.” You can cut your workers’ pay, but if you do, who will buy what you’re selling? When the process gets far enough along, you’ll reach a sudden crisis where the workers can’t afford to buy what’s produced, and you get a recession. This was Marxist business-cycle theory.

    But because of the increasing oppression of the workers, and the way industrial workers must cooperate to run factories, they will learn to band together against the owners, and will eventually overthrow the owners in a revolution. They will establish a “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” everyone will be paid the same amount, the business cycle will be a thing of the past, and everyone will live happily ever after.

    What Marx did here is interesting. He tied together two seemingly different things, the way factory owners oppressed workers in his day, and the way workers are trained to work as a team, and predicted the future based on the interaction of the two. It was a nice bit of extrapolative thinking, and has impressed millions of people to this day, especially when they first hear and understand it. It’s clever as hell.

  34. 184

    Why Marxism Failed. 6. Marginal utility theory.

    The problem is, it’s based on a theory which isn’t true–the labor theory of value. In the 1860s and ’70s, economists in three countries independently came up with “the theory of marginal utility.” (For those who care, the three were William Stanley Jevons in England, Leon Walras in France, and Carl Menger in Austria.) This was essentially modern supply and demand analysis, derived through an elaborate argument which depended on what happened “at the margin” to the last unit bought or sold.

    The concept of diminishing marginal utility is that equal additions of a good or service yield diminishing amounts of utility, or usefulness. For instance, a cheese sandwich has great utility when you’re hungry. A second is still nice, but not essential. You probably won’t want a tenth. When adding production to the last unit brings no return, you have the price right–and that just happens to be where the supply and demand curves intersect.

    By 1890, marginal utility theory had completely triumphed among professional economists, and has been the paradigm ever since. (I leave out a period where many economists attacked it in the 1910s and ’20s). I specify 1890 because that was the year Alfred Marshall published his Principles of Economics: An Introductory Text. The book was based on marginal utility theory, included the first supply-and-demand charts, and immediately became the favored economics textbook all over the developed world. And what this means is that Marxist economics became a pseudoscience as of 1890. Before the last volume of Das Kapital rolled off the press, the theory it was based on was already obsolete. People championing it are very like people who attack Einstein’s relativity theory in the name of Newton. Newtonian mechanics was a good approximation for its day, still widely useful (which the labor theory of value is not), but in the final analysis it isn’t correct, and some arguments based on it will result in patently false conclusions.

    (The French economist Richard Cantillon actually suggested that prices were based on supply and demand–or as he called them, “scarcity” and “utility”–in a book published way back in 1755. Cantillon was an Irishman with a Spanish name who lived in France but was murdered in England. But no one paid attention until Jevons pointed out in the 1880s that Cantillon got it right.)

    But politicians are not generally economists. Marxism was a live political force long after its demise as a science. To illustrate the kind of problems it causes, my next series of posts (I’ll wait a while, so as not to overwhelm the thread with this stuff) will talk about the Soviet economy, and how it worked–or more often, didn’t work.

  35. 185

    Goddam font on this goddam board goddam goddam… forgot the “pre” tags… anyway, here’s the table and the equation again:

    Wages…………. 10176.9 (“Compensation of employees”)
    Profits……….. _3577.6 (“Proprietor’s income,” plus “Corporate profits”)*
    Rent………….. __706.8 (“Rental income of persons”)
    Interest………. __489.7 (“Net interest and miscellaneous payments”)

    NATIONAL INCOME… 16,273.0
    Discrepancy……. .1,322.0 (accounting stuff no one but economists cares about)

    * Plus benefits.

    NI – W
    SV = ——————

  36. 186


  37. 187
    Hank Roberts says:

    Five solar geoengineering tropes that have outstayed their welcome

    November 2016
    DOI: 10.1002/2016EF000416

  38. 188
    Hank Roberts says:

    And China’s coal/auto smog is severe, the air pollution monitoring site is slashdotted:

  39. 189
    mike says:

    Daily CO2

    December 14, 2016: 404.49 ppm
    December 14 2015: 402.82 ppm

    noisy number, 1.67 ppm

    but in the trend of increase under 2 ppm in year or year comparison. The EN bump is in the rear view mirror and we are cruising along and continuing to post higher and higher numbers. We probably have a year of numbers ahead that will show a rise of less than 2 ppm over previous year, but that is because of the EN bump that really ramped up in Dec 2015.

    We have moved out of the somewhat stable climate state that existed during the time that our species has been on the planet. There have been megadroughts in past times that decimated the advanced cultures – article in the BBC about Mayan culture and megadrought today, but I think we are in unknown territory as the planet climate system rolls around to find it’s next stable position in response to the CO2 we have pumped into the atmosphere and oceans. Hang on to your hats.

    Warm regards


  40. 190
    zebra says:


    I have to take issue with this latest bit. Classical economics is not “the labor theory of value”. The stuff you wrote previously was classical economics as far as I can tell. (?)

    I think you are doing a bit of apples and oranges here.

  41. 191
    Phil Scadden says:

    Thomas – surely the point of a carbon tax is not to pick winners but to pick losers? (ie FF). Market efficiency as a value is subordinated to common good of better climate. I am total ignoramus on economics but surely the heart of the problem with FF is that price consumer pays does not reflect the cost to the environment and more complicatedly to future generations. A carbon tax can be seen as reflecting that.

  42. 192
    Hank Roberts says:

    Charles, did you look at the “most read” stories on that ‘scienceworldreport’ web page? The content has a considerable degree of flakiness about it.

    It reminds me of something familiar. I wonder who owns it?

  43. 193
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @189,
    It is surely premature to state that “the EN bump is in the rear view mirror.” The noise in the CO2 figures requires an average over one or two months to get a good appreciation of what is going on. Myself, I plot out a 5-week rolling average & that shows the following:-
    ♣ The 2015/16 EN bump peaked back in June at +4.0ppm/y which is about +0.3ppm/y higher than the 1997/98 EN bump. Given the rise in CO2 emissions, you would be expecting something like a +0.4ppm/y difference. The 2015/16 peak occurred a few months earlier than the 1997/98 peak which was at the end of September 1998.
    ♣ After a couple of months declining from the 2016 peak, for the last three months or so, the average CO2 rise has remained a bit static at a little above +3ppm/y which is about the same level of CO2 rise seen in December 1998 (when emissions were lower & so you would on average expect 1998 to have been 0.3ppm/y lower).
    ♣ The EN bump in 1997/98 wasn’t “in the rear view mirror” until mid-1999. There is no reason to expect it will be any different in 2015/16.
    ♣ In the shorter term, CO2 rates have been (will be) diminished for a week (or two) because of a small bulge in CO2 concentrations back in December 2015.

  44. 194
    nigelj says:

    Barton Paul Levinson @179 – 184, you clearly know your economics and I think you have made some good comments on climate change on other articles.

    But I dont entirely see the point of why you have singled out Marxism for such a lengthy attack, that is easily enough googled anyway. Marxism was basically an early attempt to understand economics. I dont think anyone would claim its perfect.

    Current economic theory is also far from perfect (but not totally invalid either) so why the rant against Marxism? Im not sure what your point is other than a very long statement about how marxism was not resolved science, but it hardly needed such a long winded rant. It starts to look like a personal rant against socialism and is a bit patronising sounding.

    Some elements of Marx theory still have value, and I dont think the labour theory of value is quite as discredited as you think. Have a read of the book “Post Capitalism, a guide to the future” by Paul Mason which is quite thought provoking, and avoids stridently ideological positions. It also gets into climate change in some detail.

    Only a few on the far left quote Marx as having all the answers. Its probably more productive use of energy to ask what are the problems with capitalism, and how do we either solve those, or mitigate them while maintaining the essential and useful core aspects of capitalism?

    Remember capitalism is an idea, or set of ideas. It is neither “holy writ” or equivalent in conceptual power to the laws of physics. Capitalism is a systematic way of doing things, an invention and belief system, nothing more.

  45. 195
    MartinJB says:

    Thomas (@170): Yeah right. Why don’t you try summing up, in a few sentences, what you’re trying to convince people of in posts like 159. Or do you prefer just seeing your own rambling posts taking up screen-fulls of the web space?

    Separately, I’m not going to try to read your mind about what you’re driving at with the latter comments about candles and the, evidently, hundreds of millions of unspecified people who believe like that. If you want to get a point across, just do it succinctly without all the crap surrounding it.

  46. 196
    MA Rodger says:

    NOAA has also now posted for November with an anomaly of +0.73ºC, not much changed from October’s +0.72ºC anomaly. This is 5th warmest October after 2015, 2013, 2010 & 2004. It is the =42nd warmest anomaly in the full record.
    The average anomaly for 2016-to-date is running at +0.941ºC which compares with the average for the last calendar year (also presently the record calendar year) of +0.89ºC. Thus December would have to come in above +0.38ºC for 2016 to gain the ‘warmest calendar year’ accolade. (The most recent December which failed to best +0.38ºC was 2000.)
    The anomalies for 2015/16 and their rankings within the full record are as follows:-
    2015 …. 1 …. + 0.81 ºC … … 25 th
    2015 …. 2 …. + 0.88 ºC …. = 12 th
    2015 …. 3 …. + 0.89 ºC …. = 9 th
    2015 …. 4 …. + 0.77 ºC …. = 34 th
    2015 …. 5 …. + 0.85 ºC … … 20 th
    2015 …. 6 …. + 0.88 ºC …. = 12 th
    2015 …. 7 …. + 0.8 ºC … … 26 th
    2015 …. 8 …. + 0.87 ºC …. = 15 th
    2015 …. 9 …. + 0.92 ºC … … 8 th
    2015 .. 10 …. + 0.98 ºC … … 6 th
    2015 .. 11 …. + 0.96 ºC … … 7 th
    2015 .. 12 …. + 1.12 ºC … … 3 rd
    2016 …. 1 …. + 1.05 ºC … … 5 th
    2016 …. 2 …. + 1.18 ºC … … 2 nd
    2016 …. 3 …. + 1.22 ºC … … 1 st
    2016 …. 4 …. + 1.07 ºC … … 4 th
    2016 …. 5 …. + 0.87 ºC …. = 15 th
    2016 …. 6 …. + 0.89 ºC …. = 9 th
    2016 …. 7 …. + 0.86 ºC …. = 18 th
    2016 …. 8 …. + 0.89 ºC …. = 9 th
    2016 …. 9 …. + 0.87 ºC …. = 15 th
    2016 .. 10 …. + 0.72 ºC …. = 51 st
    2016 .. 11 …. + 0.73 ºC …. = 42 nd

  47. 197
    mike says:

    MAR at 192: thanks, will continue to watch the numbers. I agree it is premature to be certain about the bump. I think I am excited by a string of daily average numbers under 2 ppm over same date last year. My calc from June or July was that Dec 2016 monthly average would be 403.7. Dec 11 to 17 was weekly avg of 404.93. These 400 plus numbers are melting glaciers and destroying the Arctic ice pack, but hey, what are we supposed to say or do?



  48. 198


    I don’t doubt that the vast majority of Americans are not socialists and have little to no interest in the subject–aside from the righties who claim every government action is “socialism.” So I was clarifying, in practice, what socialism actually means. Clearly, this does not cover the practical politics of, e.g., democratic socialism as practiced in Europe, where, for instance, the German socialist party is actually to the right of the Democrats in the US. Nor did I ever, in any way, either state or imply that capitalism is “holy writ.” How you could have gotten that from anything I actually said escapes me.

  49. 199
    Tom Adams says:

    USGS just announced the largest oil deposit ever discovered in the US.

    Wolfcamp is 3X bigger than Bakken.

  50. 200
    Jim Hunt says:

    The fact that it references an article of mine has nothing whatsoever to do with my recommendation that you read this editorial in The Guardian:

    The Guardian view on climate change action: don’t delay.

    Arctic temperatures have been 20C above normal. The ice cap is shrinking. And Trump and Putin may see it as an advantage.

    Mapping the changes to the extent of sea ice over the last 40 years confirms that: on a graph, the lines are clustered together like threads in a hank of silk, warming and cooling in line with each other – until this year. This year’s line drops down like a thin thread dangling into the void.

    Mr Trump’s choice of Rex Tillerson, former head of Exxon Mobil and cheerleader for Mr Putin, as secretary of state is deeply worrying. Two friendly world leaders facing one another across a vanishing Arctic ice cap. The thawing of the cold war is no longer a metaphor.