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Unforced Variations: May 2021

Filed under: — group @ 1 May 2021

This month’s open thread for climate science topics.

163 Responses to “Unforced Variations: May 2021”

  1. 101
    Susan Anderson says:

    Don’t Let Anyone Rent Space in Your Head for Freehttps://www.huffpost.com/entry/dont-let-anyone-rent-space-in-your-head-for-free_b_5968192

    So many times we perceive that if we change, the other person has won. Some common thoughts are…

    Why should I change? Why can’t they? They are the ones who caused the problem in the first place. If they wouldn’t have said or done that I wouldn’t have reacted that way and we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    Sound familiar?

    First of all, if you wait for that to happen chances are you will be waiting for a very long time. Secondly, why should someone else determine how long you are going to feel miserable

    To the rest of you, please don’t bother; if anything, being the central focus of a series of diatribes is rather a compliment. I am fully aware of the shortcomings of writing/posting/reading instead of acting. It was a mistake to say what I thought, no matter how gentle a hint was intended.

    It’s too bad we can’t harness all this wasted energy; it would be a great resource.

    KIA, it appears, is just fine: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” …

  2. 102
    mike says:

    at BPL at 93: I don’t think it makes much sense to talk about the trolls and flamers generally, but I also think it makes even less to talk with them unless they are being cordial and are bringing something meaningful and relatively concise to the discussion.

    I don’t know if you are open to altering your engagement with the usual suspects, but I thought I would ask if you would consider it.

    I guess I am suggesting “don’t feed the trolls or the flamers.”

    Cheers

    Mike

  3. 103

    Just noticed this one from last week:

    KIA: The water would change temperature most quickly when first put in the drink. At that point, the delta T between ice and drink would be greatest, and the surface area of ice exposed to the drink would be largest.

    Assumes facts not in evidence (i.e., that the water is warm–it could arbitrarily close to 0 C). What’s worse, it’s an assumption that takes the analogy farther from the real case it is supposed to illumine: Arctic waters under and near the ice pack, by and large, are not enormously warmer than the ice.

    And the point in question was not about how fast the water might cool–it was about whether the water needed to keep warming to melt the ice. The answer is clearly negative. The ice in the drink will keep melting even though the water is close to the freezing point. Once it’s gone, the drink will warm rapidly–that would be analogous to a climate nonlinearity resulting from a complete loss of sea ice.

  4. 104
    Adam Lea says:

    70: ” Killian is utterly convinced his ‘simplification’ plan is right and anything not 100% like it gets rubbished.”

    I can’t help thinking he is ultimately correct here, and the only way for human civilisation to carry on forever (well until solar evolution puts an end to life on Earth), is for everyone to live sustainably. Sustainably means to me, living in a way that whatever we consume somehow has to be replenished by another process at at least the rate we consume it, and that what we discard is the raw material for another cycle. That means elements are consumed and produced at equal rates and you have processes like A->B-> C->C->A, which is the circular economy. The problem is on a global scale, we are a long way from that ideal, the wealthy countries are locked in this neo-liberal capitalism where the objective is more consuption which is partially fuelled by more waste (i.e. advertising to encourage people to throw away perfectly usable consumer goods and buy the latest models). The question is how we get from the state now to the optimal state of sustaiable living in the limited time we have? It is like the film Titanic, “Iceberg right ahead!!”, “Hard over!!”, “Full reverse!!”, “Why aren’t they turning?!”, “Is it hard over? Yes sir hard over.”, “Come on, come on”, “Yes, yes”, “It’s gonna hit!!” CRASH. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYOn3-PhA9c

  5. 105
    Adam Lea says:

    101:
    “Why should I change? Why can’t they? They are the ones who caused the problem in the first place. If they wouldn’t have said or done that I wouldn’t have reacted that way and we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

    Because you can’t control other people, you can only control your reaction to them. If someone is causing you problems, and you are highly unlikely to influence them to change for the better, your choices are put up with them or kick them out of your life. That is the only way to deal with a narcissist which is an extreme case of someone causing you problems.

  6. 106
    Piotr says:

    Adam Lea(104): “I can’t help thinking Killian is ultimately correct here […]The problem is on a global scale, we are a long way from that ideal. […] It is like the film Titanic, “Iceberg right ahead!!”, “Hard over!!”, “Full reverse!!”, “Why aren’t they turning?!”, “Is it hard over? Yes sir hard over.”, “Come on, come on”, “Yes, yes”, “It’s gonna hit!!” CRASH

    So what is your solution to our existential problem? Irony?

  7. 107
    nigelj says:

    Adam Lea @104 , you say Killian is right with his simplification plan. Judging by your comments you don’t have the faintest idea what it is.

  8. 108
    Killian says:

    Re 105: The problem is the bullying and narcissist long-time core group of posters here gaslight precisely because they cannot admit they are the cause – even after they acceded to that fact back in January.

    Circular, indeed.

    Enough of this crap… Climate science, please.

  9. 109
    MA Rodger says:

    Sub-Tropical Storm Anna has now kicked off the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The predictions for the season mentioned by Wikithing are for a slightly above-average season although I note the ACE predictions given (ACE=127, 150, 134, 137) are a surely all little more than slightly above the average hurricane season (given as ACE=71-111). And if ACE above 100 for 2021, it would be for the sixth year in a row when previously the longest recorded runs of ACE>100 were just four-years (1998-2001 and 1891-94).

  10. 110
    MA Rodger says:

    Adam Lea @105,
    This is entirely off-topic but there are a number of comments on this issue.
    In my formative years I was taught a version of the rhyme that was first recorded as being an “old adage” in the 19th Century:-

    Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.

    The rhyme was most effective when shouted back at name-calling school bullies. Your version seems to be different in that you suggest those name-calling bullies should be simply ignored. Such a policy is fine and dandy as long as the bullying is thus effectively ostracized from the playground. If that fails to happen, and in my experience it would often fail to happen, your version would likely hand the entire playground over to the bullies.

  11. 111
    MA Rodger says:

    Jim Hunt @89,
    Further to #100 with its inoperable URL, I can report conclusively that ‘It woz Barents wot dun it!!!’

    The graphic down the inoperable URL is viewable as Graph1A down this URL. I’ve added what happens to the measure of wobbles when the Barants SIE is subtracted from the Arctic Total Extent figure and the exceptional 2021 value is disappeared. Running the numbers for the various bits of Arctic with SIE values through a spreadsheet, only four show an increase in wobbliness in 2021, Barants, GreenlandS, Kara & Central Basin but Greenland Sea shows a rise a third the size of Barents and the last a fifth the size. These rises aren’t additive so I added Graph1B to the graphic showing the effect of adding these wobbly bits together and re-running the analysis. It all looks pretty conclusive.
    And given that finding, the high level of wobble likely has local causes (which could be investigated) rather than it being some indicator of Arctic Sea Ice collapse.

    Mind I did find the Central Basin numbers looked interesting and might be worth a look for signs of the ‘Wadhams Effect’. And on that point, I note the paper linked @94 by nigelj Boers & Rypdal (2021) ‘Critical slowing down suggests that the western Greenland Ice Sheet is close to a tipping point’ [ABSTRACT] and its use of Dakos et al (2008)‘Slowing down as an early warning signal for abrupt climate change’ [FULL PAPER] with the “slowing down” associated with increased short-term autocorrelation. Maybe there lies another test to indicate the impending collapse of the Arctic Sea Ice.

  12. 112
    zebra says:

    Adam Lea #104,

    “the only way for human civilization to carry on forever”

    But since you haven’t defined “human civilization”, this is yet another discussion that inevitably goes nowhere.

    I’ve pointed out many times that if you have a stable population that has abundant resources (per capita), most of the ‘problems’ solve themselves. What you have to do is characterize the “human civilization” you are seeking to sustain in specific/concrete terms, so that we ‘engineers’ can offer possible sustainable social structures and technology to achieve it.

    BTW, I think this topic is supposed to be on Forced Responses. (Although the usual suspects engaging in their lover’s spat seems to be filling up both threads at this point.)

  13. 113

    #104, Adam Lea–

    Yes, Killian is right “ultimately”; humanity must “ultimately” live in balance with Earth’s natural systems, with a circular use of resources. And it’s very clear that we’re a long, long way from that ideal at present. The “Titanic” analogy is unfortunately apt.

    But what time scale is effectively “ultimate?”

    The argument here is essentially that sustainability requires a balance of inputs and outputs to and from the environment to humans. The inference is then drawn that this must mean a static or quasi-static state in which purely or largely extractive practices–say, mining–must be eschewed or at least severely limited. That’s the only way, the argument goes, that sustainability can be achieved.

    But considering human and pre-human history, have we ever truly been in such a state of permanent balance? I don’t think so; while rates of change were very slow for a very, very long time in normal human terms, they weren’t zero.

    Claims for the earliest definitive evidence of control of fire by a member of Homo range from 1.7 to 2.0 million years ago (Mya). Evidence for the “microscopic traces of wood ash” as controlled use of fire by Homo erectus, beginning some 1,000,000 years ago, has wide scholarly support.

    Since ‘anatomically modern’ humans are somewhere from 400k to 200k years old as a species, we’ve been shaped by cultural change at the anatomical level since long before the ‘modern’ phase of our existence. (And actually, there’s no evidence that this process has stopped, although clearly the specific evolutionary pressures have changed.) Specifically, both our dentition and our digestive tracts are significantly different from those of other primates. Culture visibly shaped our bodies.

    Moreover, the rates of cultural change have clearly accelerated. An illustrative measure of this is the timeline of stone and metallic tool-making, kicking off with one well-known stone tool classification scheme:

    Mode I (Oldowan): 2.6-1.7 mya (Homo habilis, Homo erectus)
    Mode II (Acheulean): from 1.7 mya (Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo ergaster)
    Mode III (Mousterian): 300,000-40,000 ya (Homo Neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens)
    Mode IV (Aurignacian/Chatellperonian): from 50,000 ya (Homo Neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens)
    Mode V (Microlithic): from 35,000 ya
    Bronze: from 6,000 ya
    Iron: from 3,300 ya
    Steam: from ~350 ya
    Electricity: from ~130 ya
    Cybernetics: from ~60 ya

    Why does this matter for the sustainability argument? Because if we’ve never been in static equilibrium during our entire existence (and ‘pre-existence’), then how realistic is it to think that our future existence will abrogate this reality going forward?

    (I’m aware that I’m now on the brink of technotopian argumentation: the clearly fallacious position that human ingenuity is omnipotent and infinite; that there’s no reason for worry because no matter the constraint, we always find a way around it. But one can consistently stop at that brink. Simply because we have always changed adaptively in the past–“we” here meaning “some group of humans” as of course some societies have died out more or less completely–one can’t conclude that our abilities are without limit. After all, this history of human cultural, anatomical and yes, demographic change also implies what is obvious anyway: we’re now in a situation without any close precedent.)

    So as knowledge continues to explode–hopefully, with wisdom following within a distance not too great to matter–I don’t see any real prospect of a static ‘balance.’ What we “decide” today will quite simply not be accepted without question tomorrow. We can “simplify,” and I think in some ways we must; it’s quite clear that the waste products of our civilization vastly exceed the planetary ability to sink them without degradation. Energy growth physically can’t continue for all that much longer. Substitutions, efficiency gains, and transformative technologies may help us out some, but they won’t change that underlying reality.

    But I think it’s a mistake to overweight “ultimately.” What we need is to consider thoughtfully what we can afford to use and how fast, and make rational, fair decisions about whether, in each particular case, we should use it. We’re not balancing in place, we’re surfing a wave. And as always, the ride won’t last forever; we’ll either fall, or the wave will break.

  14. 114
    nigelj says:

    Adam Lea @104 I agree the circular economy is a useful idea, and there is something to be said in favour of the simple living concept. However I have my doubts about Killian’s particular “simplification plan”. This plan includes things like the 1)enhanced use of biomass for energy and building 2)going right back to traditional farming or using regenerative agriculture in such a stringent and uncompromising way 3)going back to horse and cart, walking and cycling apart from long distance travel, 4)scaling back use of modern technology apart from just a few essentials, and 5) getting rid of all private ownership, apart from very personal possessions like clothing, and 6) getting rid of hierarchies in organisations, groups, management etc.

    All to be done as rapidly as possible. Read his comments on the FR pages. In fact further discussion should be on that thread.

  15. 115
    Killian says:

    107 nigelj says:
    22 May 2021 at 12:59 AM

    Adam Lea @104 , you say Killian is right with his simplification plan. Judging by your comments you don’t have the faintest idea what it is.

    The exact opposite is true. Your typical knee-jerk, I-hate-Killian-so-I’m-against-what-you-said response is not moving anything forward.

    Simplicity is not an attack on your person. Please act like it.

  16. 116
    Killian says:

    11 MA Rodger says:
    22 May 2021 at 6:40 AM

    Jim Hunt @89,
    Further to #100 with its inoperable URL, I can report conclusively that ‘It woz Barents wot dun it!!!’

    The graphic down the inoperable URL is viewable as Graph1A down this URL. I’ve added what happens to the measure of wobbles when the Barants SIE is subtracted from the Arctic Total Extent figure and the exceptional 2021 value is disappeared. Running the numbers for the various bits of Arctic with SIE values through a spreadsheet, only four show an increase in wobbliness in 2021, Barants, GreenlandS, Kara & Central Basin but Greenland Sea shows a rise a third the size of Barents and the last a fifth the size. These rises aren’t additive so I added Graph1B to the graphic showing the effect of adding these wobbly bits together and re-running the analysis. It all looks pretty conclusive.
    And given that finding, the high level of wobble likely has local causes (which could be investigated) rather than it being some indicator of Arctic Sea Ice collapse.

    Mind I did find the Central Basin numbers looked interesting and might be worth a look for signs of the ‘Wadhams Effect’. And on that point, I note the paper linked @94 by nigelj Boers & Rypdal (2021) ‘Critical slowing down suggests that the western Greenland Ice Sheet is close to a tipping point’ [ABSTRACT] and its use of Dakos et al (2008)‘Slowing down as an early warning signal for abrupt climate change’ [FULL PAPER] with the “slowing down” associated with increased short-term autocorrelation. Maybe there lies another test to indicate the impending collapse of the Arctic Sea Ice.

    Critical to this analysis is a simple salient point: The wobbliness may or may not be a long-term indicator (but it probably is), but that it is caused primarily by one sea within the AO is… normal. Which seas or whether the CAB is high or low changes every year, and even within seasons. It simply does not matter what the specific region is if it’s an ongoing pattern and/or trend.

    And let’s do bear in mind it is very early in the season yet and the wobbliness may disappear, continue, etc. My own view is the weakness (primarily thinness) makes it easier for it to move. It wasn’t that long ago that the entire area north of Ellesmere and Greenland out to the Pole was essentially immovable. Now, it all moves. Every year. It’s a bunch of mush compared to the days of a (for all intents and purposes, if not in absolute reality) solid central pack.

    This is the point I am making. Overall quality of the ice is allowing more variability and this will only increase as temperatures continue to increase. This is likely just the first year it’s visible just by looking at a simple JAXA chart.

    And thank you, gentlemen, for taking up the issue. The science issues I post here mostly get ignored.

  17. 117
    Killian says:

    112 zebra says:
    22 May 2021 at 7:25 AM

    Adam Lea #104,

    “the only way for human civilization to carry on forever”

    But since you haven’t defined “human civilization”, this is yet another discussion that inevitably goes nowhere.

    I’ve pointed out many times that if you have a stable population that has abundant resources (per capita), most of the ‘problems’ solve themselves.

    This is wholly inaccurate. Humans have paid very careful attention to the environment in order to learn to use Nature’s ways to enhance productivity to meet their needs without disrupting ecosystem functions.

    It has been anything but accidental or the mere presence of massive amounts of resources. They would not have been modifying their environments if that were the case; there would be no need to if they could just toss a stone and randomly secure dinner, eh?

    I remind you: https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/pre-colonial-australia-natural-wilderness-or-gentleman-s-park

    That same article could essentially be written about the entirety of the Americas, too.

  18. 118
    Killian says:

    113 Kevin McKinney says:
    22 May 2021 at 10:33 AM

    #104, Adam Lea–

    Yes, Killian is right “ultimately”; humanity must “ultimately” live in balance with Earth’s natural systems, with a circular use of resources. And it’s very clear that we’re a long, long way from that ideal at present. The “Titanic” analogy is unfortunately apt.

    But what time scale is effectively “ultimate?”

    The argument here is essentially that sustainability requires a balance of inputs and outputs to and from the environment to humans.

    First error. It is non-trivial to note there is a difference to design and planning when one sets humanity outside of Nature rather than an integral part of it.

    We must design to be within Nature, not outside of it, which is why the Half Earth movement is such a horrific idea.

    The inference is then drawn that this must mean a static or quasi-static state

    Second error. Your post is trending to the argumentative while attempting to sound scholarly. I say this because you are clearly choosing to diminish what you know has been said here for years. The context of Adam’s comment is *my* view of things, which he is supporting as legitimate. But it’s not his comments, they were mine that originated this and you know all to well I speak of regenerative systems, not “sustainable” systems, and the difference between them is huge. I have said time and again permaculture-based, i.e. regenerative, design is *always* considered dynamic, not static. I have said ad nauseum that design is local. It *can’t* be static if that is the case because you have possibly millions of different designs all interacting, yes? Each ecosystem and micro-ecosystem will by definition be different.

    And then there’s all the things you know constantly change. Milankovitch cycles alone make your statement seem argumentative because… you know all this.

    Nothing stays the same and that’s why regenerative designs are never finished. This is also why the entire circular economy concept is basically nonsense. While we can by recreating nature engender the flexibility and resilience we do find in natural systems within certain tolerances, we must recognize al we are doing then his helping nature does what it does, just faster and fit somewhat to our needs. Doing that to purely human systems of cities, nations, etc., is flatly impossible. We can with Nature because we are not creating nature, we’re enabling Nature. The billions of connections we know nothing about exist because of Nature, not us. We cannot recreate that in human systems. The computers don’t exist that could handle that data load from the complexity.

    Simply, we cannot match every input to appropriate outputs in modern human systems. There will be massive amounts of waste and these debilitate the system. It is *only* in engaging in a human Nature that is within Nature that we can do this. The other possibility is what I have also long said here: Stabilize the ecosystem back around 280 ppm while keeping R&D active in order to not move to the outer solar system, but to mine it and use it as a dumping ground. If we learn to move a high enough volume of materials, it is conceivable to have a “sustainable” high tech society because the circular flows of unsustainable resources would be between Earth and the rest of the solar system.

    But that is generations away. If we try to keep up the consumption we have now, that day will never come because civilization will collapse and/or humans will go extinct.

    in which purely or largely extractive practices–say, mining–must be eschewed or at least severely limited. That’s the only way, the argument goes, that sustainability can be achieved.

    Correct. But, if one considers the above (which, again, you have read here mor than once), in terms of the existence of humanity, 2 to 4 generations is a blip.

    But considering human and pre-human history, have we ever truly been in such a state of permanent balance?

    Since this comment, and all that follows, is based on the Straw Man fallacy already addressed, there is little point in taking this further except to repeat, no, there has never been a true point of non-change, and never will be.

    But I think it’s a mistake to overweight “ultimately.” What we need is to consider thoughtfully what we can afford to use and how fast, and make rational, fair decisions about whether, in each particular case, we should use it.

    As if that is not what is being talked about. How do carefully designed regenerative plans not do this, and far better than any other system of design modern humans use?

    I really have no idea why you posted this knowing it in no way reflects the context you were responding to.

  19. 119
    Adam Lea says:

    106: “So what is your solution to our existential problem? Irony?”

    Sorry, is that the rule on here? No-one is allowed to have an opinion or question anything without having a magic bullet solution ready?

    This is the kind of BS response I have no time for, it is up there with the traitorous critic fallacy.

  20. 120
    nigelj says:

    Killian, I have explained in detail about the doubts I have about some aspects of your “simplification plan” on the FR page.

  21. 121
    nigelj says:

    Killian @115, I disagree. Adam lea clearly doesn’t really understand what you mean by simplification. He talked about the circular economy and sustainability. Most everyone here probably wants us to be more sustainable and recycle things. That’s not particularly controversial. Your plan involves far more than that as I outlined @114 and which you have largely not disputed in your response you posted on the FR page. You have disputed that those things are problems.

    And I’m not criticising your ideas because of any personal issues. I made the same criticisms at day one first ever time I read one of your comments here, and I had the same doubts about these sorts of ideas before I ever heard of you or realclimate.org. However your tone does not make things any easier to accept.

    I think some of your simplifications ideas are good, some not so good. Impossible to generalise.

  22. 122
    nigelj says:

    Killian @118

    “The other possibility is what I have also long said here: Stabilize the ecosystem back around 280 ppm while keeping R&D active in order to not move to the outer solar system, but to mine it and use it as a dumping ground. If we learn to move a high enough volume of materials, it is conceivable to have a “sustainable” high tech society because the circular flows of unsustainable resources would be between Earth and the rest of the solar system.”

    Nice thought on disposing of waste on asteroids, and mining asteroids, but its never going to happen to any significant extent. Look at the size of a rocket required to lift even one space shuttle into earth orbit let alone to the outer solar system. The chance of finding solutions to significantly change this are near zero. You just need enormous energy whatever you do. The best we can do is we may be able to mine asteroids for small quantities of a few rare materials.

    It would be better to put the resources into better waste disposal on earth. We have to dispose of waste better on earth. We know how to do this technically in most cases, but people don’t want to spend money on it. They would rather buy a new and better car. The problem is therefore motivational, personal, corporate and political. The exception is third world countries with huge urban and semi urban populations. It’s going to be a real challenge fixing their waste problem. Waste treatment plants and recycling are well down the list of urgent priorities.

  23. 123
    Killian says:

    121 nigelj says:
    24 May 2021 at 6:57 PM

    Killian @115, I disagree. Adam lea clearly doesn’t really understand what you mean by simplification.

    Adam has posted here enough for he and I to understand each other. Your problem(s) with “my” plan(s) is/are 1. you don’t know my plan, 2. you have no means by which to judge “my” plan, and 3. the reason your don’t agree is due to your ignorance, not any deficit with what my analysis says is *necessary.*

    You think all opinions are created equal no matter how lacking in knowledge and experience a person is. You are not my equal on these issues, and particularly the model I have created, any more than you are Gavin’s equal WRT his modeling of climate. You are not an expert on sustainability/regenerative systems and have no basis to be debating these issues with people who are.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about, and after YEARS of you yammering on in near-total ignorance, even ignoring the internal logic of issues raised, I have no reason to treat your self-inflicted ignorance waste of bandwidth here with respect.

  24. 124
    Killian says:

    119 Adam Lea says:
    24 May 2021 at 4:18 PM

    106: “So what is your solution to our existential problem? Irony?”

    Sorry, is that the rule on here? No-one is allowed to have an opinion or question anything without having a magic bullet solution ready?

    This is the kind of BS response I have no time for, it is up there with the traitorous critic fallacy.

    Indeed. Six years of this sory of immaturity and counting.

  25. 125
    Piotr says:

    Piotr(106): “So what is your solution to our existential problem? Irony?”
    Adam Lea(119):” Sorry, is that the rule on here? No-one is allowed to have an opinion or question anything without having a magic bullet solution ready?

    No, but the sake of others, opinions should be informed or at least interesting. Yours were neither: a naïve embrace of the Killian magic bullet – without knowing the first thing what it entails (as Nigel tried to explain to you); or your oh so astute observation:
    The question is how we get from the state now to the optimal state of sustainable living in the limited time we have?
    Thank you, Captain Obvious.

    A.Lea (119) “This is the kind of BS response I have no time for

    then at least you must have appreciated the brevity of my response…

    A.Lea (119) “it is up there with the traitorous critic fallacy.

    Wouldn’t this require me knowing you and being hurt by you switching sides? ;-)

  26. 126
    Mr. Know It All says:

    117 – Killian
    “This is wholly inaccurate. Humans have paid very careful attention to the environment in order to learn to use Nature’s ways to enhance productivity to meet their needs without disrupting ecosystem functions.

    It has been anything but accidental or the mere presence of massive amounts of resources. They would not have been modifying their environments if that were the case; there would be no need to if they could just toss a stone and randomly secure dinner, eh?”

    OK, just for laughs, say we all agree that we must simplify. What does that look like? What technology would we have? How many people would the earth support in this vision? All 8,000,000,000 of us? Would we have electricity? How would we heat in winter? Cool in summer? What would happen to our village during say a 10-year long drought. What would be the population of the biggest village in this vision? Over what period of time should we be allowed to transition from today’s world to your ideal vision? Since most people have zero skills that would be needed in the new simplified world, how would they survive? Would we have governments to control bad people? Would we have guns to fend off gators, lions and tigers and bears? Where would we get ammo, and oil to keep ’em from rusting? Would we have phones? A space program? Vaccines for deadly viruses? Wells for water to drink and irrigate our crops? What would we do with all the old nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants and big dams that would be degrading over time, etc? Would mosquitos kill off a bunch of us with diseases? What would stop a village of thugs from taking over another village, or the world? What if other villages then mined metals for weapons to kill the thugs – would we end up exactly where we are today?

  27. 127
    Jim Hunt says:

    Al @111 – How I wish I could embed images here! Failing that please see:

    https://GreatWhiteCon.info/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/UH-Barents-Area-2021-04-30.png

    Over the winter of 2020/21 sea ice area in the Barents Sea has bounced from lowest for the date in the AMSR2 record to highest and back again. I suppose this suggests that the ice is more mobile in the face of winter winds than it used to be in days of yore?

    On that topic you may also be interested in this new learned journal article?

    https://GreatWhiteCon.info/2021/05/month-in-review-arctic-science-edition/#Ricker

    From the press release:

    Arctic sea ice reaches a maximum around March after the cold winter months and then shrinks to a minimum around September after the summer melt. However, these seasonal swings are not only linked to the changing seasons – it transpires that along with our warming climate, the temperature of adjacent ocean seawater is now also adding to the ice’s vulnerability.

    Previous research suggested that sea ice can partly recover in the winter following a strong summer melt because thin ice grows faster than thick ice. However, new findings indicate that heat from the ocean is overpowering this stabilising effect – reducing the volume of sea ice that can regrow in the winter. This means that sea ice is more vulnerable during warmer summers and winter storms.

    From the paper itself:

    We find that a negative feedback driven by the increasing sea ice retreat in summer yields increasing thermodynamic ice growth during winter in the Arctic marginal seas eastward from the Laptev Sea to the Beaufort Sea. However, in the Barents and Kara Seas, this feedback seems to be overpowered by the impact of increasing oceanic heat flux and air temperatures, resulting in negative trends in thermodynamic ice growth of −2 km3 month−1 yr−1 on average over 2002–19 as derived from satellite observations.

  28. 128
    Mike says:

    wow, look at that:

    Daily CO2

    May. 24, 2021 = 417.82 ppm

    May. 24, 2020 = 417.69 ppm

  29. 129

    Killian, #118–

    (NB–I’m continuing this discussion on UV because I see this as a general point, not specifically on mitigation/adaptation *practice*–but of course that’s a thin line, and we could veer into clearly FR territory at any moment.)

    Me: The argument here is essentially that sustainability requires a balance of inputs and outputs to and from the environment to humans.

    Killian: First error. It is non-trivial to note there is a difference to design and planning when one sets humanity outside of Nature rather than an integral part of it.

    Good point; we are indeed inextricably part of Nature. We need not to play the part of cancer in the larger system. And more particularly, ‘outside of Nature’ enables the Romantic framing of pollution as primarily a problem of esthetics which, we now know, was intentionally used as a distractionary tactic by polluters in the 60s & 70s.

    But I don’t think my framing was erroneous in practical context: if we’re dealing with a planetary illness, then by analogy considering ‘inputs and outputs’ from a particular organ or system would be highly appropriate. (Indeed, this is the basis of much diagnostic testing.) My argument would then continue unchanged from that point.

    I have said time and again permaculture-based, i.e. regenerative, design is *always* considered dynamic, not static.

    That gave me real pause. It is, I think, correct that you’ve said that. (I’m less sure that it’s ‘time and again,’ but I could well be wrong about that.) Yet in our interactions I have *definitely* been told time and again that if something can’t be considered “sustainable” if its use can’t be in principle be sustained endlessly. (For example, your criticism of renewable energy on grounds of limited resources.) It is from this perspective that I have received the apparently erroneous impression that you are advocating for a relatively static future.

    But I’m curious here: how do you reconcile an inherently ‘dynamic’ vision of a regenerative future with your opposition to using non-renewable resources? After all, leaving aside the fact that our (mostly hoped-for) descendants are unlikely to be permanently bound by our formulations, if your opposition to such resource use were considered normative, why in principle would that position not apply to future generations, too? But in that case, what would we be saving those resources for, exactly?

    Second error. Your post is trending to the argumentative while attempting to sound scholarly.

    While my human vanity is admittedly not displeased if I “sound scholarly,” that’s not actually a high priority. I’m mostly trying to think clearly. Most humans, including moi, find doing so in a sustained manner to be harder than one would tend to think. Scholarship is supposed to be a discipline in which this practice is normative, so…

  30. 130
    William B Jackson says:

    I think Killians plan is almost as bad as the problem it sets out to repair, it would require the deaths of at least half the world population to have a chance of working. Unless there is some unknown source of food and necessities that I just don’t see!

  31. 131
    Killian says:

    130 William B Jackson says:
    27 May 2021 at 6:13 PM

    I think Killians plan is almost as bad as the problem it sets out to repair, it would require the deaths of at least half the world population to have a chance of working. Unless there is some unknown source of food and necessities that I just don’t see!

    Making a spurious claim while offering no evidence is just another form of dishonesty. So, do tell, what is my plan? Do, please, give your reasons supporting your ridiculous claim.

  32. 132
    S.B. Ripman says:

    Well-intended efforts in the news:

    The online payment software company Stripe announced on Wednesday that it is spending $2.75 million to support six early-stage carbon removal projects in its second annual round of carbon removal purchases.
    Carbon removal is a category of climate solutions that are designed to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and keep it out for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Experts say finding ways to do this, in addition to cutting emissions of CO2, will be necessary to limit runaway climate change. But outside of “nature-based” solutions like storing carbon in trees and soils, which are limited by demand for arable land, there really aren’t any carbon removal options available at a meaningful scale yet.
    In 2019, Stripe decided to try to change that by making a commitment to spend $1 million per year on nascent carbon removal solutions. The company announced the first round of projects it was funding last May. The inaugural winners included Climeworks, a company that makes “direct air capture” machines that pull CO2 out of the air, and Charm Industrial, a company that turns plants into “bio-oil” and stores it underground. Since then, Stripe has given its software customers the option to donate a portion of their profits to carbon removal, too. With that extra funding, Stripe has upped its ante.
    The six new projects employ six totally different methods to capture and store carbon. A U.K.-based company called Mission Zero has developed a system that captures CO2 directly from the air and injects it underground. The process is unique in that it does not require heat, only electricity, and it boasts a potentially smaller physical footprint than other direct air capture methods.
    On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps the lowest-tech solution came from the Future Forest Company. Future Forest is conducting research on grinding up rocks made of basalt, which naturally absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, and spreading them on the forest floor at a test site in Scotland. Past research has shown that the process could speed the uptake of CO2 in the basalt and be beneficial for forest growth.
    Combining elements of these two methods is a company called Heirloom, which is taking a mineral called magnesium carbonate — the chalky stuff that rock climbers put on their hands — and baking it at a high temperature. The process produces a stream of CO2 gas that can be piped underground for storage, as well as “oxide minerals,” which can reabsorb CO2 from the atmosphere and then be reused to repeat the process.
    Two of the companies receiving orders from Stripe are working on ocean-based carbon removal. Running Tide, which is based in Maine, is experimenting with growing kelp, which it says takes up carbon 20 times faster than trees, and then sinking the kelp into the deep ocean. Seachange, based out of the University of Los Angeles, is working on a process that extracts CO2 from seawater using electricity.
    The sixth company, CarbonBuilt, is a bit of an anomaly, in that it focuses on putting carbon dioxide to use in products. The company takes CO2 gas and embeds it in concrete, helping to lower the carbon footprint of the material. CarbonBuilt recently won $7.5 million from the XPrize foundation after demonstrating its technology at a coal plant in Wyoming. Today, the company is using CO2 captured from fossil fuel–fired power plants and industrial sources, so it isn’t actually removing carbon from the atmosphere, but it could use the same technique with CO2 from a direct air capture system in the future.
    As with its first round of funding, Stripe hired a cohort of scientific advisors to provide feedback on the project applications. But this time, in addition to looking at whether the ideas were scientifically sound, Stripe also judged the applicants on how they were thinking about engaging with the public and about environmental justice.
    “I found it pretty innovative that they were even trying to do this,” said Holly Buck, an assistant professor of environment and sustainability at the University of Buffalo and one of Stripe’s scientific advisors. The application asked who companies’ stakeholders are, whether companies had engaged with them yet, whether companies had made any changes to their projects based on those engagements, and if their project had any environmental justice implications.
    While all of the ideas getting funding from Stripe have been proven in a lab, they are at different stages in terms of the technical, economic, and regulatory aspects of scaling up, and there’s no guarantee they will all be able to deliver the carbon removal Stripe paid for. On their applications, several of the companies noted that a federal price on carbon would be the No. 1 thing that could help them reach their full potential, because it would create demand for their services. Right now, a federal tax credit called 45Q is the only national subsidy for carbon removal in the U.S. Some carbon removal companies can also sell credits on California’s statewide cap-and-trade market.
    In some cases, the science is in relatively early stages, too. With Running Tide, for example, there is no established methodology yet to measure how much CO2 this kelp-sinking endeavor actually sequesters. During a presentation of the projects on Wednesday, Shannon Valley, one of Stripe’s scientific advisers who is a climate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said that this is still an active area of research. In the case of the Future Forest Company, Stripe is supporting a trial that will improve the scientific understanding of the ecosystem and hydrological impacts of “enhanced weathering.”
    “A clearer sense of how this actually works in the field is crucial for understanding whether or not enhanced weathering could play a viable part in the world’s carbon removal portfolio,” said Ryan Orbuch, a member of Stripe’s climate team, during the presentation on Wednesday.
    Buck said that it’s unlikely that altruistic spending on carbon removal from tech companies like Stripe will be enough to bring any of these ideas to scale without more federal support. “They can play this catalytic role that they’re trying to play, but to get things actually built at scale requires the government,” she said. “So people shouldn’t be misled into thinking that the problem is solved because they’re exploring this space.”

  33. 133
    Killian says:

    129 Kevin McKinney says:
    27 May 2021 at 9:31 AM

    Killian, #118–
    Me: The argument here is essentially that sustainability requires a balance of inputs and outputs to and from the environment to humans.

    Killian: First error. It is non-trivial to note there is a difference to design and planning when one sets humanity outside of Nature rather than an integral part of it.

    Good point; we are indeed inextricably part of Nature. We need not to play the part of cancer in the larger system. And more particularly, ‘outside of Nature’ enables the Romantic framing of pollution as primarily a problem of esthetics which, we now know, was intentionally used as a distractionary tactic by polluters in the 60s & 70s.

    But I don’t think my framing was erroneous in practical context: if we’re dealing with a planetary illness, then by analogy considering ‘inputs and outputs’ from a particular organ or system would be highly appropriate.

    “Humans” isn’t a system. This is the problem with using this framing. Humans are one species among… billions? We fail to address the system accurately when we frame it as humans/nature. This is simple, yes, but vital.

    The reason aborigine people did not destroy their environments is precisely because they did not think this way. It is a habit we must return to.

    Indeed, this is the basis of much diagnostic testing.) My argument would then continue unchanged from that point.

    I have said time and again permaculture-based, i.e. regenerative, design is *always* considered dynamic, not static.

    That gave me real pause. It is, I think, correct that you’ve said that. (I’m less sure that it’s ‘time and again,’ but I could well be wrong about that.)

    You are.

    Yet in our interactions I have *definitely* been told time and again that [(if)<– ??] something can’t be considered “sustainable” if its use can’t be in principle be sustained endlessly.

    How does this preclude change? Can I not use wood one way, then in another? Is this not the same for all elements? Can’t how a thing is used change? With what? In one system then another? I’m not sure you thought this all the way through…?

    (For example, your criticism of renewable energy on grounds of limited resources.)

    I do not criticize “renewable” energy, I point out the limits in the hopes others can be made to understand there is a huge error in how they are being implemented which will have massive repercussions. I have. e.g., never said stop using them, I have always said we need to shrink our consumption to the level we currently have in the U.S. Since I first said this, multiple other analyses have come to the same conclusion we must reduce consumption 80-90 percent. Therefore, the wise pathway is to stop making more W and S in the U.S. and shrink consumption of oil, gas, coal, hydro, nuclear, etc., down to that 80~90%. We do not need to build more energy infrastructure, we need to steadily retire the most damaging types.

    It is from this perspective that I have received the apparently erroneous impression that you are advocating for a relatively static future.

    Hmmm… despite me saying, also repeatedly, we should keep R&D alive and well – allocating some of those unsustainable resources to achieve a long-term gain – so we can try to mine the solar system for the resource that would allow the high-tech lives we all seem to enjoy? If that were to prove impractical in the long run, then, yes, a relatively low-tech life awaits all future generations, but even then that does not mean no change, but slow change.

    But I’m curious here: how do you reconcile an inherently ‘dynamic’ vision of a regenerative future with your opposition to using non-renewable resources?

    Answered above. I am in opposition of nothing but our lack of wisdom and our collective stupidity. Getting repetitive here, but… I have *repeatedly* talked Appropriate Tech, Bridge Tech, and Embedded Energy (existing physical plant.)

    After all, leaving aside the fact that our (mostly hoped-for) descendants are unlikely to be permanently bound by our formulations

    Formulations? I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. However, le me state the “formulations” I put forward are nothing more than adhering to natural principles, and if our descendent do not do that, they will repeat our errors. (Mining the heavens does not allow us to ignore natural principles as they will best guide how to increase an eco-tech life… someday.)

    if your opposition to such resource use were considered normative, why in principle would that position not apply to future generations, too?

    It must.

    But in that case, what would we be saving those resources for, exactly?

    This question makes no sense. You are assuming zero future change and no threats or problems we have not already faced. These assumptions are not logical. Imagine, e.g., the need to manage Milankovich cold cycles. We really cannot expect to maintain a bustling human condition on this planet if we have to endure repeated glacial cycles and 70k out of every 100k years being too cold to grow food for billions, e.g. So, we will either have to grow enough renewable burnable materials to raise CO2 or burn some of those FFs (an ironically good reason not to use them up) or…?

    We can’t know the future, Kevin, and uncertainty is not our friend in this complex challenge.

    Second error. Your post is trending to the argumentative while attempting to sound scholarly.

    While my human vanity is admittedly not displeased if I “sound scholarly,” that’s not actually a high priority.

    Withdrawn, but when I have to repeat these things over and over only to have you claim it’s news to you, I’d hope you can see why you come off as argumentative.

  34. 134
    Killian says:

    127 Jim Hunt says:
    25 May 2021 at 4:53 AM

    Over the winter of 2020/21 sea ice area in the Barents Sea has bounced from lowest for the date in the AMSR2 record to highest and back again. I suppose this suggests that the ice is more mobile in the face of winter winds than it used to be in days of yore?

    Once again, I say something seems to be happening based on a pattern (2013 being more variable than any other year in the satellite record) and here comes science to confirm it.

    Arrogant? No, just accurate and hpoing more can learn Pattern Literacy, etc.

    On that topic you may also be interested in this new learned journal article?

    …it transpires that along with our warming climate, the temperature of adjacent ocean seawater is now also adding to the ice’s vulnerability.

    …We find that a negative feedback driven by the increasing sea ice retreat in summer yields increasing thermodynamic ice growth during winter in the Arctic marginal seas eastward from the Laptev Sea to the Beaufort Sea. However, in the Barents and Kara Seas, this feedback seems to be overpowered by the impact of increasing oceanic heat flux and air temperatures, resulting in negative trends in thermodynamic ice growth of −2 km3 month−1 yr−1 on average over 2002–19 as derived from satellite observations.

    Other papers earlier have found teleconnections between the Pacific and the Arctic basin. I suggest, again, my 2015 prediction of 2016 ASI extent based on an expected strong ENSO was not a fluke – any more than the current higher ice extent because of the ending La Nina was also not a fluke, but a pattern – though one hard to pull from the noise given summer weather from June through August has THE largest effect on yearly fluctuations of ASI.

    I posit the key difference between Atlantification and the EN effect is that the former is relatively constant while the latter is cyclical – wholly dependent on ENs occurring.

  35. 135
    Killian says:

    125 Piotr says:
    24 May 2021 at 10:38 PM

    Piotr(106): “So what is your solution to our existential problem? Irony?”
    Adam Lea(119):” Sorry, is that the rule on here? No-one is allowed to have an opinion or question anything without having a magic bullet solution ready?”

    No, but the sake of others, opinions should be informed or at least interesting. Yours were neither: a naïve embrace of the Killian magic bullet

    The irony. Much like MAGAs/the GOP saying the insurrection wasn’t an insurrection and, gosh, didn’t even happen. And was the fault of Lefties!

    That is, the uninformed, uneducated, deluded and biased pronouncing what is what WRT a sustainable future.

    ;-)

  36. 136
    Killian says:

    122:

    nigel, again, completely poops the bed by 1. missing the point, 2. ignoring context, 3. pretending to himself the suggestion to mine the solar system is the only aspect of resource use I have ever suggested – as if I have never talked about the need for recycling and its uses and problems, and 4. that the suggestion to keep R&D going is because I think mining the solar system is a slam dunk… and etc.

    So bored with this…

    nigel, why state the previously stated/obvious? Why waste everyone’s bandwidth?

  37. 137
    Killian says:

    121 nigelj says:
    24 May 2021 at 6:57 PM

    Killian @115, I disagree. Adam lea clearly doesn’t really understand what you mean by simplification. He talked about the circular economy and sustainability. Most everyone here probably wants us to be more sustainable and recycle things.

    The circular economy is EXACTLY what the vast majority of degrowth people talk about. It is the rough equivalent of what I suggest. I take it further only because I, unlike most degrowth people, am a permaculturist who *first* learned about Chaos, energy > resource limits, econ, collapse, etc., before coming to regenerative systems. My analyses go importantly deeper. Realizing, e.g., profit and wealth equal waste and/or hoarding thermodynamically makes a HUGE difference. Most degrowth activists do not seem to share this awareness. But in the main, he “gets” it. You do not.

  38. 138
    nigelj says:

    Killian @123 says I don’t know his simplification plan. That’s a strange thing to say because I’ve read his explanations several times, and he knows this, and I listed the main features of his plan @114, and in his response on the FR thread @191 he mostly didn’t dispute these things are in his plan. Regarding his claim that I shouldn’t debate the issues because I’m allegedly not some sort of “sustainability expert”. This is easily dismissed. Its an argument from authority fallacy.

  39. 139
    Piotr says:

    Adam Lea (119): No-one is allowed to have an opinion […] without having a magic bullet solution ready?

    Piotr (125):”No, but for the sake of others, opinions should be informed or at least interesting. Yours were neither: a naïve embrace of the Killian magic bullet – without knowing the first thing what it entails (as Nigel tried to explain to you)[…]”

    Killian (136):” The irony. Much like MAGAs/the GOP saying the insurrection wasn’t an insurrection and, gosh, didn’t even happen. And was the fault of Lefties!

    Huh? Could you explain the logical system in which my falsifiable statement that Adam does not know what your solution entails, is:
    a) “ironic
    b) comparable to “MAGAs/the GOP saying the insurrection wasn’t an insurrection and, gosh, didn’t even happen.
    c) makes me “uninformed, uneducated, deluded and biased” ???

    And all that coming from the person who prides himself in being rational and fair to others, and, at least from the time I proved that the numbers in his solution do not add up – has been ignoring my arguments as not deserving his attention. And yet now he goes ballistic over my comment that …. was not even about him, and blasts me with MAGA, uninformed, uneducated, deluded and biased.

    Now, _that_ I could call: “irony”… :-)

  40. 140
    Piotr says:

    nigelj (138): “Killian @123 says I don’t know his simplification plan. [Yet] I listed the main features of his plan @114, and in his response on the FR thread @191 he mostly didn’t dispute these things are in his plan.

    “Who Ya Gonna Believe, Me or Your Own Eyes”? ;-)

    Nigel (138): “Regarding [Killian claims] that I shouldn’t debate the issues because I’m allegedly not some sort of “sustainability expert”. This is easily dismissed. It’s an argument from authority fallacy”,

    Moreover, if you are not an expert and he is, wouldn’t this make falsifying your arguments from (114) easy? Three quick strikes and you are out. I can already see it:

    Killian: Easy done. Like taking a candy from a babe.
    Nigel: My name is Babe. Babe Ruth.

  41. 141

    #133, Killian–

    Thanks for a constructive, informative response. Yet I have further questions, comments, and concerns…

    “Humans” isn’t a system.

    Please explain why not, as it is not obvious to me. I don’t understand why the intensively interlinked aggregate called ‘humans’ would not be described as comprising, in some sense, a “system”.

    To be sure, there is its position relative to the greater whole, about which you say:

    Humans are one species among… billions? We fail to address the system accurately when we frame it as humans/nature. This is simple, yes, but vital.

    Well, I had thought that my analogy showed that I grasped your point in this respect: I was likening what I’ll call here the ‘ecosphere’ to the human body, and ‘humans’ to an “organ or system”–that is, some physical/functional unit with a (presumptive) function to play in the functioning of the whole.

    (Of course, this is not a perfect analogy: the ecosphere is incredibly prone to transformation over time, which means that probably no single “organ or system” is to be considered vital. That’s in pretty sharp contrast to the human body, obviously. As a corollary, that also renders the matter of human ‘function’ a bit differently, as well: if ‘humans’ aren’t vital, then presumably neither is our putative ‘function.’ But one aspect remains pretty congruent on both sides of the analogy, I think, and that is that human MALfunction can be pathological for the ecosphere.)

    I said, at this point in the original argument, that measurement and management of human inputs and outputs relative to the ecosphere as a whole nevertheless remain a practical necessity. An extremely salient case in point would be the Assessment Reports produced as a part of the IPCC process. If we don’t know how much GHG we’re putting into the world, then… well, we all get that point, I think. (Possibly even KIA.)

    That’s not to say we frame ourselves as ‘apart’ from nature; it’s to say that there’s a quantitative exchange that’s part of our relationship to the rest of the ecosphere. We’re not separate, but we are distinguishable from other components. And since we’re conscious, more or less, it’s on us to ‘conduct ourselves accordingly.’

    How does this preclude change? Can I not use wood one way, then in another? Is this not the same for all elements?

    Of course the use of wood can change. But you have frequently seemed to say that other things–lithium, say, to take a recent example–ought not to be used at all. If I’m misunderstanding this point, I would invite you to clarify or expand.

    I do not criticize “renewable” energy… we need to shrink our consumption to the level we currently have in the U.S. Since I first said this, multiple other analyses have come to the same conclusion we must reduce consumption 80-90 percent. Therefore, the wise pathway is to stop making more W and S in the U.S. and shrink consumption of oil, gas, coal, hydro, nuclear, etc., down to that 80~90%. We do not need to build more energy infrastructure, we need to steadily retire the most damaging types.

    I’d appreciate it if you could re-post some of those references; I’ve been searching but seem not, so far, to have turned them up. I did find Creutzig et al. (2016), which said, inter alia:

    In agriculture, demand-side action, in particular, dietary shift, could reduce emissions by more than 70% compared to the trend in 2055, thereby surpassing the potential of technological options.

    That’s just one sector; it’s not 80%, much less 90%; and that is ‘relative to the trend,’ which I presume is not relative to current consumption. Oh, and it’s “could”, not “must.” So it’s a long way from what you are envisioning. But it’s what I found so far.

    And here I’m repeating what I’ve said in the past, but at present the idea of voluntarily reducing US energy consumption by such amounts any time soon seems highly implausible. We’ve barely been able to get the populace at large even to consider reducing fossil fuel use *without* a change in lifestyle (i.e., via substitution and efficiency) with four decades of increasingly urgent messaging. How is it that the requisite change in lifeways for -80% via simplification will go so much faster?

    …we should keep R&D alive and well – allocating some of those unsustainable resources to achieve a long-term gain – so we can try to mine the solar system for the resource that would allow the high-tech lives we all seem to enjoy…

    Noted–though I must admit once again to some skepticism–or perhaps ‘concern’. It’s often been said that “when it’s time to railroad, then you railroad,” meaning that there is a necessary confluence of enabling factors which creates a near-inevitability for a given historical development. I can’t help but wonder if, somewhat analogously, an R & D effort relegated to the sidelines of simplified society could get the job done, especially given that it’s not necessarily obvious in advance what research will be needed?

    (And actually, in a related vein I wonder how much of modern medicine and pharmacology could be sustained under such an energetically stringent simplification? And whether any decline in those two would be reflected in complicating sociological effects (like, say, a reversal in the trend of declining birth rates?))

    Me: But in that case, what would we be saving those resources for, exactly?

    Killian: This question makes no sense. You are assuming zero future change and no threats or problems we have not already faced. These assumptions are not logical. Imagine, e.g., the need to manage Milankovich cold cycles.

    All right, you’re saying that future risks may require nonrenewable resources, and therefore we should husband them now against future need. Logical, as far as it goes.

    Yet the future risk is, as you say, unknowable–“We can’t know the future, Kevin”–while we do know to a considerable degree the risks that we face in the present and its immediate sequelae. We also know that time is not on our side just now: the less aggressive our mitigation efforts, the more adaptation we’ll have to do later. That adaptation will to some extent be in competition with mitigation, given that there’s only ever so much ‘pie’ to go around. Sometimes there is a window available to deploy a given resource, and if you miss it, your chance is gone.

    So, my fear here is getting caught in the middle: not only does your message of radical simplification not convert the majority, the divided message about decarbonization that could result means that the process of decarbonization itself is slowed. We miss our climate targets badly, and things spin completely out of control. A drastic population crash ensues. (Maybe ‘involuntary simplification’, too–though the population crash would be apt to incite military conflict, the absolutistic nature of which would then incentivize the short-term ‘win’ over sustainability.)

    My alternate scenario: we accelerate the deployment of RE and storage–which I would regard as you described the R & D referred to above, as “allocating some of those unsustainable resources to achieve a long-term gain”–sufficiently to decarbonize electric generation, transport, and make good inroads into manufacturing and agriculture. At the same time, we work seriously at laying the ground work for simplification: making the case for it, as you and others do; developing and sharing the requisite knowledge and skills; and building confidence in the model by using it in real social settings. People begin to realize the co-benefits mentioned in the literature and by you on these threads: health, leisure, conviviality. Those ‘lattes’–metaphorical!–start to seem less alluring because other goods start be real in people’s lives.

    This process would also allow for a transformation of the built environment and associated infrastructure–important because personal choice is constrained by what is socially possible. We’d transform our housing stocks, transportation structures, and maybe such things as employment practices such that people could live while using less energy and fewer material resources–an inherently slow process in normal human terms.

    Thus, over time, both the social ‘software’ and ‘hardware’ would morph to support a materially simpler, exponentially less ‘consumptive’ lifestyle.

  42. 142
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @141, I agree with your comments about resources and your plan regarding the deployment of renewables at scale, and some form of simplification done in parallel and afterwards. It’s pretty much what I’ve been saying all along.

  43. 143
    nigelj says:

    Killian @133 says “I do not criticize “renewable” energy… we need to shrink our consumption to the level we currently have in the U.S. Since I first said this, multiple other analyses have come to the same conclusion we must reduce consumption 80-90 percent. Therefore, the wise pathway is to stop making more W and S in the U.S. and shrink consumption of oil, gas, coal, hydro, nuclear, etc., down to that 80~90%. We do not need to build more energy infrastructure, we need to steadily retire the most damaging types.”

    I’ve read some of these ‘analyses’ promoting huge reductions in the use of materials and energy. Some are based on very optimistic assumptions about future improvements in the efficiency of technology. Some analyses are based on very optimistic voluntary reductions that seem implausible as I’ve stated several times previously. People are very slow to reduce carbon footprints so its hard to see why they will make truly huge reductions to consumption at least short to medium term, as KM points out. And such large and rapid reductions may cause problems as bad as the problem they are trying to fix.

    Of course consumption has to fall sooner or later and we should do what we can to reduce levels of consumption, but we have to be careful how its done, and realistic about what’s plausible and how fast it might gain traction with people. Holding off building a new energy grid on the assumption we will find such huge reductions in energy looks problematic. Like KM says “Sometimes there is a window available to deploy a given resource, and if you miss it, your chance is gone.”

    “But in that case, what would we be saving those resources (non renewables) for, exactly?”

    “This question makes no sense. You are assuming zero future change and no threats or problems we have not already faced. These assumptions are not logical. Imagine, e.g., the need to manage Milankovich cold cycles. We really cannot expect to maintain a bustling human condition on this planet if we have to endure repeated glacial cycles and 70k out of every 100k years being too cold to grow food for billions, e.g. So, we will either have to grow enough renewable burnable materials to raise CO2 or burn some of those FFs (an ironically good reason not to use them up) or…?”

    While leaving fossil fuels in the ground is required to combat the current climate problem, isn’t this plan of burning them one day to counter a future glacial period geoengineering on a truly massive scale? Especially coming from someone who has been sceptical of climate geoengineering? And what are the chances of some globalised effort to do this? Especially in a simplified world that has largely got rid of hierarchies and federal level governments? And what about acidification of the oceans with its biosphere impacts?

    There are probably only enough fossil fuels left on the planet to counter one more glacial cycle. How do we grow enough burnable renewable materials when there are so many other competing demand on land? What about the air pollution? By the time the next glacial cycle arrives, which is apparently sometime in about the next 10,000 years its likely global population will be much smaller in size, so it could migrate to warmer regions in the southern hemisphere.

    That said, the fossil fuels will be in the ground so the option of geoengineering will be there if we want. But why would other minerals be deliberately left in the ground? It just doesn’t make sense, and seems like the precautionary principle taken a bit far.

  44. 144
    John Pollack says:

    I am finding it quite ironic that various people who are advocating large and widespread changes in global economy and FF consumption for billions of people(which I agree are necessary) are finding themselves unable to exert an iota of personal discipline by moving the discussion back to Forced Responses, where it belongs.

    How about doing that in June, at least?

  45. 145
    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj @143 — the next descent to a stade, i.e., an “ice age” is more like 100,000 years. Read “The Long Thaw” by David Archer.

  46. 146
    nigelj says:

    Killian @137 says “The circular economy is EXACTLY what the vast majority of degrowth people talk about. It is the rough equivalent of what I suggest……I take it further….Realizing, e.g., profit and wealth equal waste and/or hoarding thermodynamically makes a HUGE difference. Most degrowth activists do not seem to share this awareness. But in the main, he “gets” it. You do not.”

    Regarding the circular economy. I never said degrowth and simplification people ‘don’t’ talk about the circular economy. And yes you have referred to it before. I said that Adam Lea doesn’t really understand what ‘you’ mean by simplification. Because your version of the circular economy modifies the conventional theory of the circular economy (by your own words directly above) and your version of simplification includes so many other things Adam Lea never mentioned in his original statement. You cannot define simplification as “the circular economy” because you have been insistent it includes multiple other elements as I listed @114. Perhaps I should have said Adam Lea doesnt “fully undertand” what you mean by simplification, if that makes people happier.

    I certainly “get it” (the circular economy and simplification) because I said previously at 114 that the “circular economy is a useful concept” and “theres something to be said for the simple living concept” and I’ve said it before. I’m going by the wikipedia definition of circular economy: “A circular economy (also referred to as “circularity”[2]) is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a closed-loop system, minimising the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions.[3]”

    Where the PROBLEMS are is in defining what “minimising the resource inputs means”. With a growing population and a need for clean zero carbon energy minimising the inputs will be a challenge, but after that it will get easier. But a circular economy is a great idea because of what it does and also because its a popular sort of concept. And its already got good traction. In fact 50% of all copper is currently recycled, apparently.

    Regarding profit and wealth equals waste. I think this is not really correct, as previously stated on this website. Most profits and wealth are circulated back into the system in various ways, EXACTLY as the circular economy wants to do. For example profits get used to buy new plant and equipment or build other things. Wealth gets invested buying government bonds etc used to fund social programmes.

    Wealth is only waste in the sense that a few people hoard gold under their beds, or wealthy people sometimes own for example multiple properties that sit vacant half the time. Some people might say waste is expensive art or expensive musical instruments. And ‘waste’ in this sense is obviously quite different from the kitchen rubbish. And waste as in allegedly extravagent consumption patterns like this is a rather subjective judgement.

  47. 147
    Killian says:

    143 nigelj says:
    30 May 2021 at 6:36 PM

    Some analyses are based on very optimistic voluntary reductions that seem implausible as I’ve stated several times previously.

    Your personal, unsupported opinion does not matter. “People won’t” is not analysis and I hope you learn to never utter it again. It is amateurish. I have tried to get this through to you and you just keep repeating it. Stop. It’s irrelevant.

    so its hard to see why they will make truly huge reductions to consumption at least short to medium term

    For the seemingly billionth time, you completely ignore the context: The risk requires it. It’s a choice between a loaded pistol in a game of Russian Roulette vs a child’s toy cap gun in a game of Russian Roulette. Your analysis assumes the latter, and that makes your opinion moot.

    You have nothing to say on these issues if you are going to repeat the same errors you’ve been making for nearly half a decade. Same fallacies, same dismissal of context. God is it annoying and such a waste of everyone’s time. Say something of use, man!

    Of course consumption has to fall sooner or later and we should do what we can to reduce levels of consumption, but we have to be careful how it’s done, and realistic about what’s plausible and how fast it might gain traction with people.

    God, this is interminable… NIGEL, IF YOU ARE ON A BEACH WHEN A 100-FOOT TIDAL WAVE IS COMING YOU DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE WHETHER TO GET TO HIGHER GROUND OR NOT. Stop repeating this same fallacy ad nauseam. The entire point of long-tail risk management is assuming the WORST-CASE SCENARIO. If you want me – or anyone with half a brain, frankly – to take you seriously, STOP using the fallacy that the mid-range risk is the issue.

    While leaving fossil fuels in the ground is required to combat the current climate problem, isn’t this plan of burning them one day to counter a future glacial period geoengineering on a truly massive scale? Especially coming from someone who has been sceptical of climate geoengineering?

    Good god… How do you not understand a “What if…?” argument to illustrate a point about unknown risks?

    But why would other minerals be deliberately left in the ground? It just doesn’t make sense, and seems like the precautionary principle taken a bit far.

    No. Using natural materials to solve natural problems is good design and problem-solving. It’s a far cry from tossing sulphur into the sky or iron into the oceans. But the point, completely lost on you, was we don’t know future resource needs and I gave one simple “What if…?” example to illustrate that. I in no way declared that must be what is done.

    Your entire response is nothing but your personal errors in reasoning about your personal opinions with exactly zero analysis with Straw Man arguments in the form of the pretense you have never been told the reasoning behind these things though they have been repeated ad nauseam because you keep repeating the same goddamned arguments… for nearly half a decade.

    YOU CANNOT KNOW THE FUTURE NEEDS OF SOCIETY.

  48. 148
    Killian says:

    141 Kevin McKinney says:
    30 May 2021 at 1:49 PM

    #133, Killian–

    Thanks for a constructive, informative response.

    Do not patronize if you want constructive dialogue. And, yes, I checked all your posts in this thread to be sure you had not reserved this crap for me.

    Repost without the insulting beginning and I will be happy to respond.

  49. 149
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Kevin M: have *definitely* been told time and again that if something can’t be considered “sustainable” if its use can’t be in principle be sustained endlessly.

    RC: the system isn’t one garden but one planet. And the planet’s homeostasis, if you will, can absorb a fair amount of shock. The ocean’s thermal and carbon buffer have kept things on the rails, more or less.

    As the planet adjusts, your particular garden will need to adjust as well.

    Neighbors matter, too. I’d be leery of planting anything related to your local factory farmed crops. Their pests will probably be rather vicious.

    Killian’s right in this point. The only true “perma” in permaculture is the need to foresee and pre-adapt.

    Oh, and the endgame isn’t “no mining”. Mining the ocean is sustainable and will help a smidgen with the Mercury problem.

  50. 150
    S.B. Ripman says:

    A story regarding regenerative agriculture in California: https://www.independent.com/2021/05/26/farming-for-the-future-at-jalama-canyon-ranch/.
    The article shows the level of front-end effort and creativity needed to get started, and the subsequent rewards.