Wednesday, May 9, 2018

I went down to the cross roads

Where do think you're going?
I think you don't know
    Mark Knoffler

And where will you go my blue eyed son
And where will you go, my darling young one?
    Bob Dylan


   In case you missed the news -for the first time the monthly average CO2 concentration exceeded 410,  in April.  Just so you know

These CO2 levels, according to NOAA's climate department, haven't been seen on Earth in 3 million years, when temperatures were 3.6° to 5.4°F warmer, and sea level was 50 to 80 feet higher than today

   Of course, in order to deal with climate change we nee to start reducing the Co2 concentration, hopefully to 350.  But before we can do that we need to stop it from growing.   But before we do that we need to stop accelerating!  That's right the growth rate of  CO2 concentration,  is itself growing.  See this chart 

Decadal Average Annual Growth RatesMauna Loa Observatory (MLO)1958 - 2014



Atmospheric CO2

Growth Rate

    2005 - 2014   

    2.11 ppm per year   

 1995 - 2004

 1.87 ppm per year

 1985 - 1994

 1.42 ppm per year

 1975 - 1984

 1.44 ppm per year

 1965 - 1974

 1.06 ppm per year

 1959 - 1964
(6 years only)

0.73 ppm per year

ppm = parts per million


    One way to see the climate situation is that we are at a crossroad, and there are three roads ahead to choose from. .   The 2, the 3, and the 4 degree roads. As shown from this article by Dave Roberts

As for the 2 degree road, he find that it is possible, though extremely unlikely. In a nicely titled article "What genuine, no bullshit ambition on climate change would look like."  he reviews a number of proposals that do not incorporate "negative emissions"  such as  BECC,   Why no BECC?    Roberts explains
"There is currently no commercial BECCS industry. Neither the BE nor the CCS part has been demonstrated at any serious scale, much less at the scale necessary. (The land area needed to grow all that biomass for BECCS in these models is estimated to be around one to three times the size of India.)

Roberts concludes that although it is "possible", it would require adopting a number of changes, technical, political and behavioral.  
"...a global carbon tax, maximized efficiency, an explosion of renewable energy, a wholesale revolution in agriculture, rapid reduction of non-CO2 GHGs, a rapid shift in global lifestyle choices, and successful measures to curb population growth — would be an enormous achievement.
To completely avoid BECCS while still hitting the 1.5 degree target, we would have to accomplish all of them.
That is highly unlikely. Still, the important point of the Nature Climate Change research remains: “alternative pathways exist allowing for more moderate use and postponement of BECCS.” Given the substantial and uncharted difficulties facing BECCS, policymakers owe those alternative pathways a look.
Obviously these strategies face all kinds of social and economic barriers. (I’m trying to envision what it would take to rapidly shift Americans from beef to cultured meat ... trying and failing.)
It's hard to imagine this without a dictatorial take over or a wartime situation.
The second road is the one that leads to 3 - 3.5 degrees by 2100.  This is the road Roberts thinks we are on.   To see what that would be like Roberts suggests  a summary of "6 degrees" by Mark Lynas .  It describes the effects 

As Lynas puts it:
With structural famine gripping much of the subtropics, hundreds of millions of people will have only one choice left other than death for themselves and their families: They will have to pack up their belongings and leave... Conflicts will inevitably erupt as these numerous climate refugees spill into already densely populated areas... Uprooted, stateless, and without hope, these will be the first generation of a new type of people: climate nomads, constantly moving in search of food, their varied cultures forgotten, ancestral ties to ancient lands cut forever... As social collapse accelerates, new political philosophies may emerge, philosophies that seek to lay blame where it truly belongs--on the rich countries that lit the fire that has now begun to consume the world.

but even more alarming it also suggests

With 3 degrees of warming, "Instead of absorbing CO2, vegetation and soils start releasing it in massive quantities, as soil bacteria work faster to break down organic matter in a hotter environment, and plant growth goes into reverse." The result, in the model, was the release of an additional 250 ppm of carbon dioxide by 2100, and an additional 1.5 degrees of warming. In other words, the 3 C world was not stable--hitting the 3-degree threshold meant hitting a 'tipping point' which led directly (though not immediately) to the 4 C world.
This effect was primarily due to a huge dieback of the Amazon rainforest. With warming and drying the rainforest collapsed almost completely. Later studies found globally similar effects, albeit in differing amounts. And a recent study suggests that the likelihood of an Amazonian collapse may be lower than first thought--welcome news, to be sure.

If that's true, the best you can say about the three degree road is that it doesn't get to 4 degrees quite as fast 

The third road also goes to 4 degrees, but much faster  - by 2100.   We can get to this result by taking no action.   

I'm not going to describe what that would look like - if you are interested take a look  here  Lets just say its not to be wished for. 

It is worthwhile to note that each of these roads assumes the continued growth of the industrial consumer economy. In fact, it may argued that it is that growth that makes these scenarios likely.

(It is worth mentioning that global emissions declined in the 19900's was the period when the USSR broke up, causing what might be called an economic collapse in Russia and the surrounding nations.  They also fell in 2008 -09.  There also was a dip in 2015, but it was quickly at by record breaking amounts )

So, what about a slow down of the industrial / consumer enterprise ?

There are two alternatives.  Voluntary or involuntary.   On the voluntary side, you might find the transition offered by The Simpler Way. See eg here. Here is a summary

Given the magnitude of the overshoot, the huge extent to which we have exceeded sustainable limits, there can be no solution unless there is enormous and radical transition to some kind of Simpler Way. Only this can enable per capita resource use to be cut to the region of 10% of present levels. Thus there must be:
        Much simpler lifestyles, far lower per capita resource consumption.
Mostly small, highly self-sufficient local economies, putting local resources into meeting local needs.  When petroleum becomes scarce there will be no choice about this.
Much more cooperative and participatory ways, enabling people in small communities to take collective control of their own development, to include and provide for all. We must develop commons, co-ops and working bees.
Participatory town self-government, The important decisions about the development and running of the town must be made by town assemblies, local committees andreferenda involving everyone. The town must be have as much control over its own fate as possible.
A new economy, one that is not driven by profit or market forces, that has no growth at all, that involves far less production and work than the present one, and focuses on needs and rights and the quality of life of all. It might have many private firms anda market sector, but there must be (participatory, democratic, open and local) social control over what is developed, what is produced, and how it is distributed. All must be provided for, meaning no poverty or unemployment and everyone having a livelihood, the capacity to make a valued contribution.
New values.  These communities cannot work well unless people shift from the present individualistic, competitive and acquisitive orientation to a world view focused on being content with frugal sufficiency and living within a supportive community in which all enjoy a high quality of life. There must be conscientious and socially responsible citizens who prioritise the public good.

This, also looks fairly challenging!  Like Roberts's  2 degree no bullshit plans, this would require significant behavioral and political changes.

As for the involuntary,  here is another perspective.   Nate Hagens, who now spends his time attempting to prepare college students for what he calls "The Great Simplification", a period of declining available energy and goods    He believes "The Great Simplification"will begin on the next decade.   He hopes to prepare students by giving them some idea why it is happening. As part of this , he offers  a grounding in some topics which they may not be exposed yo otherwise such as :  the role of energy in the economy,  system dynamics, ecological economics, , and evolutionary psychology.

See here for some of ideas - 

Here is his summary

Around 11,000 years ago, as the last ice age ended, our ancestors – in no fewer than 5 locations around the world – took advantage of the new conditions and tried an agricultural way of life.  Fast forward through two momentous phase shifts in human history (agricultural and industrial revolutions), and here we are: approaching 8 billion, seeking freedom, experiences, and material wealth all derived from physical surplus.  As many are aware, the procuring of this ‘surplus’ is also impacting the larger sphere outside our homes, (we call it “Earth”) in increasingly deleterious ways.  Yet, at an annual global growth rate of 3%, which most governments and institutions expect, we would close to double the size of energy and materials it took us 11,000 years to amass, in the next 25 years.
Under current trends, a college student today would see over 2 such doublings in her lifetime. (yes,  2Xè 4X in size by the time they’re 70).  Is this possible? Is this desirable?  What are the variables that will influence this trajectory? What would be the impacts if it happens?  And if it doesn’t? There currently is no natural entity in our society charged with such questions.  Or answers to the questions.  But perhaps there should be.  A systems synthesis which integrates aspects of energy, the environment, the economy and human behavior is a prerequisite to understanding what is unlikely, what is possible, what’s at stake, and ultimately what to strive for and work towards.
My own conclusion is that The Next Doubling is now no longer possible.  In the coming decade, we are going to have to collectively deal with what I refer to as the Great Simplification.  This will mean less physical throughput and fewer economic benefits to the average citizen in the developed world than the past 2 decades.  If managed, the Great Simplification could result in positive outcomes and a saner system and very high standards of living vs most periods in our history.
His view is that we are hitting  "peak affordable oil", but that the price of the oil is artificially low, in part as a result of cheap credit for oil companies,   allowing companies to sell oil below cost. see here

We need energy to create our physical realities and create our economic growth and trade for transport, everything. If the energy sector requires a greater and greater chunk of that energy, we have less available for the rest of discretionary society. And once that constraint exists and even accelerates, you need to respond to that. And the way we responded to that was increasing our debt, which, of course, as you know, is pretty much created by a pen stroke. So that can temporarily offset energy shortages at a cost of a steeper decline, because debt actually functions as a spacial and temporal reallocater of resources, away from the periphery towards the center and away from the future towards the present. So there’s a very subtle but important relationship between debt and energy. And the problem is, is that most of, as you term, economic priests and priestesses, don’t have training in the biophysical economic world, and they treat everything in monetary terms. And we just throw more money at the problem, and it’ll go away. Well, our energy, and especially our net energy story, is getting worse. So we’re increasing our money supply while our energy supply is declining, and, yeah, that’s not a good situation.

 And eventually we get to a point where the oil companies need higher and higher oil price in order to make a profit, but society can afford less and less. And at some point those two prices of oil cross and we have a real problem. You know, right now, the marginal barrel of oil costs between $70 and $90, so there’s a little bit of a cushion in there now. But a lot of people say above a hundred dollar oil, it has significant economic headwinds. So at some point there, dollars don’t become an accurate measure of our real natural resource balance sheet. 

It's pssoble that we have hit that point.  Art Berman reports that 2/3 of tight oil companies lost money in the first 3 quarters of 2017

"... the oil giants are still barely able to pay for new investments and dividends without selling assets or going deeper into debt. Last year, the five companies spent $31 billion more in cash on new investments and dividends than they generated from operations, according to FactSet.

See also Heinberg, here

Is "the Great Simplification" inevitable?  Will it be beneficial?  Is it something to encourage?  see Crash on Demand

For an interesting discussion of the possibility of, and the likely impacts of, an economic. "collapse",  with George Monbiot, David Holmgren, Nicol Foss and others see here.  .  Its quite entertaining.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Back to the Garden

Inna Godda da Vida
    -Iron Butterfly

You can have it all
My empire of dirt
     -Nine Inch Nails


       I've been spending the last few days shoveling dirt.  Which is pretty elemental.  This dirt has a lot of cow poop in it, so, there is no avoiding  the basics of the basic biological realities of life on the planet.   Which has got me thinking about sustainability   My garden is far from it!  

       I suppose we all want "the good life" and the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem, (which is to say -  the Holocene, but without the 6th extinction ).

      We continue to argue about whether it is, in fact, an oxymoron - a contradiction, that lets us paper over the fact that we really want two contradictory things.
"Their answer is uncomfortable. After looking at data on quality of life and use of resources from some 150 countries, they found that no nation currently meets the basic needs of its citizens in a sustainable way. The nations of the world either don’t provide the basics of a good life or they do it at excessive cost in resources, or they fail at both.

To Dr. O’Neill, an economist, this was something of a surprise. “When we started, we kind of thought, ‘surely, out of 150 different countries, there will be some shining star’” with a high quality of life and moderate resource use. “We really didn’t find that,” he said, pointing only to Vietnam as coming close to meeting both measures.

He did not say, however, that these findings doom humanity to poverty or environmental ruin. “It doesn’t tell us what’s theoretically possible,” he said, noting that the study only projects the results of continuing with business as usual. 

 So, it may possible, but we really have no existing  model to point to.

So, what about theoretically?   For instance what about CO2,?  Is  100% renewable power possible?.

There seems to be some disagreement on that question

Here's a good summary of the controversy comes from radio Ecoshock.

MIT Professor Mark Z. Jacobson published a paper in December 2015, outlining how the United States could power up with just wind, water, and solar. The title is “Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes“, PNAS.
Two years later, Caldeira along with others, including lead author Christopher Clack, issued a very negative rebuttal paper, also in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That paper is “Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar”, PNAS, February 24, 2017. You can read the full text here.
Mark Jacobson pushed back with this article, published in the same issue of PNAS: “The United States can keep the grid stable at low cost with 100% clean, renewable energy in all sectors despite inaccurate claims
Jacobson appears to have taken criticism of his model as an insult to his science. In a move very unusual for debate in science, Jacobson sued C. Clack and the National AAcademy.That suit was dropped this year. You can read Mark’s Tweet about the lawsuit ending here, and his full statement here. To dig into this further, Mark says “a total of 30 peer-reviewed scientific papers located at [here at Stanford] support the contention that the grid can stay stable with 100% or near 100% renewable energy.”
This Jacobson lawsuit sent a too some scientists wanting to add to this debate. You can read all about these “fisticuffs” here in the New York Times. It came to the point where one article rebutting Jacobson was passed on to Ken Caldi because the author worried about being sued. Caldeira published that articles blog.
In November of 2014, Mark Jacobson described his plan for all-green power here on Radio Ecoshock. But he did not talk about his heavy reliance on a projected renaissance of hydroelectric power. The problem is that Jacobson’s plan assumed nearly ten-fold increase in hydropower much of it by adding more generators to existing dams. You can find Ken Caldeira’s criticism of that hydro reliance here.

                Here is an interview with Ken Caldera, where he explains his view.  Basically, he finds that there are certain times when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine.  Jacobson assumed that more hydro could be developed to provide backup during those times.  Caldera and his co authors concluded that most of the good hydro sites had already been developed and further expansion would be minimal.  They conclude that 100% renewable power is not achievable, and that only 80% could be supplied reliably.   Calderra notes in the interview that the batteries currently used by TESLA, and used in Australia and Puerto Rico are useful to make up for short term power losses, including overnight , but that they are not able to handle  other   longer term events (several weeks).  Arguably these could be handles by massively overbuilding the wind and solar facilities, but in Caldera's view,  it would be cost prohibitive.

'We analyze 36 years of global, hourly weather data (1980–2015) to quantify the covariability of solar and wind resources as a function of time and location, over multi-decadal time scales and up to continental length scales. Assuming minimal excess generation, lossless transmission, and no other generation sources, the analysis indicates that wind-heavy or solar-heavy U.S.-scale power generation portfolios could in principle provide ∼80% of recent total annual U.S. electricity demand. However, to reliably meet 100% of total annual electricity demand, seasonal cycles and unpredictable weather events require several weeks’ worth of energy storage and/or the installation of much more capacity of solar and wind power than is routinely necessary to meet peak demand. To obtain ∼80% reliability, solar-heavy wind/solar generation mixes require sufficient energy storage to overcome the daily solar cycle, whereas wind-heavy wind/solar generation mixes require continental-scale transmission to exploit the geographic diversity of wind. Policy and planning aimed at providing a reliable electricity supply must therefore rigorously consider constraints associated with the geophysical variability of the solar and wind resource—even over continental scales.

Of course, there are many ways to be unsustainable.   At least seven according to the study mentioned above    One way, is to emit carbon dioxide.   Any carbon dioxide

       Basically, we have already emitted all the CO2 that we can afford.   The nations of the world agreed in Paris that 1.5 degrees was too dangerous .   And there is no budget left for that .  in fact it is likely that we have used up the budget for 2 degrees.   As discussed here,   recent studies indicate that ,  thanks to   reflective sulphate pollutants (aerosols) produced from the dirty burning of coal,   2 degrees is basically "baked in" , even if we stopped all CO2 tomorrow

In other words, going to zero emissions with CO2 at ~420ppm would result in a warming of around 2°C at equilibrium, if the level of short-lived gases was constant. Not going to zero emissions would be worse in the short term: other recent work shows warming would be 2.2-2.4°C by 2050 if we continue on the current high-emissions path.

And there is a consensus that 2 degrees is no longer a global warming guard rail. see here
“Limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius will not prevent destructive and deadly climate impacts, as once hoped, dozens of experts concluded in a score of scientific studies released Monday…With only one degree of warming so far, Earth has seen a crescendo of droughts, heatwaves, and storms ramped up by rising seas. Voluntary national pledges made under the Paris pact to cut CO2 emissions, if fulfilled, would yield a 3C world at best.
  It's hard to grasp how quickly things a re changing. An interesting article from. Eric Holthaus, notes that the last official report of the IPCC came out in 2013, and its already out of date.

The climate models used in these reports grow old in a hurry. Since the 1970s, they’ve routinely underestimated the rate of global warming. Some of the most recent comprehensive assessments of climate science, including last year’s congressionally-mandated, White House-approved, Climate Science Special Report, include scary new sections on “climate surprises” like simultaneous droughts and hurricanes, that have wide-reaching consequences. .....
“Positive feedbacks (self-reinforcing cycles) within the climate system have the potential to accelerate human-induced climate change,” says a section from that Climate Science Special report, “and even shift the Earth’s climate system, in part or in whole, into new states that are very different from those experienced in the recent past.” None of this was included in the last IPCC report."
"Actually, a helluva lot has changed in our understanding of the Earth’s climate system since the 2013 IPCC report. Here are some of the highlights:
    1. Sea-level rise is going to be much worse than we thought. Like, potentially a lot worse. In the last IPCC assessment, the worst case scenario for sea-level rise this century was about three feet. That’s now about the midpoint of what’s expected; the worst-case has ballooned to about eight feet. That’s largely because …
    2. Antarctica’s massive ice sheets could collapse much more quickly than we thought. Newly discovered mechanisms of collapse in some of the planet’s largest and most vulnerable glaciers in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are beginning to capture the attention of the scientific community. Should these mechanisms kick in over the next few decades, they’d unleash enough meltwater to flood every coastal city on Earth.
    3. Extreme weather is here and can now be linked to climate change in real time.From the Arctic to the tropics, wildfires, intense storms and other extreme weather events have been increasingly fierce in recent years, and climate change has played a measurable role. A 2016 report from the National Academies of Sciences opened the floodgates, so to speak, of the burgeoning field of extreme weather attribution. From last year’s Hurricane Harvey to last month’s nor’easter-linked floods in Massachusetts, nearly every weather event now bears a traceable connection to human-caused climate change.
    4. Global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius is pretty much locked in. A forthcoming special report of the IPCC will say that meeting the 1.5-degree target — one of the most ambitious commitments of the Paris Agreement — looks “extremely unlikely.” Humanity’s shift to zero-carbon energy sources is moving about 10 times too slowly. At this point, it would probably take geoengineering to prevent it. Researchers have started testing ways to do that.
    5. We’ve already lost entire ecosystems, most notably coral reefs. During a record-breaking El Niño event in 2015, the world lost massive swaths of coral in a global bleaching event “unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.” More than 90 percent of the world’s coral will surely die by 2050 without rapid emissions reductions. That means one of the richest stores of biodiversity on the planet is already in jeopardy.
So, where does that leave us?

Professor Jem Bendell suggests that we have moved into a new world.   In the old world, one could hope that if we were to just live "sustainably"  we could hope to stop dangerous climate change.  Now, that appraoch is no longer an option.  Sustainability, whatever its beefits, will not stop dangerous climate change.  Bendell pulls no punchs in describing what the future looks like  " we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war."
     He suggest a new approach is needed, one he calls "deep adaptation"

A deep adaption agenda will involve increasing resilience, relinquishment and restoration Resilience involves people and communities better coping with disruptions. Examples include how river catchments can better cope with rains, or how buildings can better cope with floods. What I’m calling relinquishment, involves people and communities letting go of certain assets, behaviours and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. Examples include withdrawing from coastlines or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption. Restoration involves people and communities rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life and organisation that the hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded. Examples include re-wilding landscapes so they provide more ecological benefits and require less management, or increased community-level productivity and support.

The difference between a sustainability approach and one based on resilience can be seen this way.
Sustainability starts with a functioning system, and then looks at how long that system can operate without wearing down. It also takes into consideration how a system’s component functions can be improved so that the system can run continuously on its own.
Resilience starts with a disaster, and then looks at how to clean up afterward. It then considers how to prevent or minimize a future disaster, or at least minimize the negative effects of the disaster. The end result may or may not be sustainable, although a sustainable outcome is ideal.
Generally, many of us take the implicit view that  we can "have it all" - material progress for billions, as well as an intact ecosystem, perhaps through "sustainable development", perhaps through some other mechanism (degrowth?)     But is it a hope, a dogma, or merely an assumption?  An illusion? What happens if we come to the conclusion that it isn't so? 
Here is some interesting food for thought.
   As for me, I find I do my best thinking with my hands dirty.  Back to the garden!

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Teach your children well

Sweet child of mine.
   -  Guns and Roses

Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?' 

      -Bob Dylan


I just watched Nate Hagens's latest video, which is a mini version of his " Reality 101"  course that he teaches at the University of Minnesota.

It's a pretty ambitious program.  Here is a short description:

"An intensive series of reading, lectures and discussion will cover primary/summary literature in: systems ecology, energy and natural resources, thermodynamics, history, anthropology, human behavior, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, environmental science, sociology, economics, globalization/trade, finance/debt with an overarching goal to give students an understanding of how the modern human ecosystem really functions, and what are the opportunities and constraints facing us in the 21st century.  

You can find the syllabus here (2014 version)

It seems like it might be a useful course, given how fast things are changing!  

Here's a graph from a recent paper, showing the temperature variation during the last 10,000 years.   Notice the far right, the divergence in the last few years.   What should we expect?

Hagens assumes that we will continue on this path. which seems reasonable see this from Climate Code Red 

The climate system will heat well past 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C) and perhaps up to 2°C without any further fossil fuel emissions. That’s the conclusion to be drawn from new research which should also help demystify the rhetoric from the 2015 Paris climate talks of keeping warming to below 1.5°C .

It’s not that 1.5°C isn’t dangerous: in fact, at just 1–1.1°C of warming to date, climate change is already dangerous. A safe climate would be well below the present level of warming, unless you think it is OK to destroy the Arctic ecosystemtip West West 
“‘The Holocene climate system is unraveling,’ Jason Box, an ice researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute, told Earther in an email. ‘We should not be surprised if/when ongoing de-glaciation of the Arctic combined with global (and Arctic) atmospheric heating and humidification causes climate shifts that appear to be step changes.'
"People have the misapprehension that we can recover from this [ice free] state just by reducing carbon emissions" , Anderson said in an appearance at the University of Chicago. " Recovery is all but impossible, he argued, without a World War II-style transformation of industry—an acceleration of the effort to halt carbon pollution and remove it from the atmosphere, and a new effort to reflect sunlight away from the earth’s poles.”….”This has do be done…. within the next five years.”

So, how does one make long term plans that factor in rapid climate change?

“Given that all the scientific models are failing to predict the pace that climate impact’s actually having, how do you do good public policy?” he said on the sidelines of the C40’s Women4Climate conference.
Nearly half of the 92 cities in the C40 network saw extreme flooding last year, according to Watts, who said an “optimism bias” was built into scientific forecasts.

We are approaching the era of "Climate Departure", when the climate is so different from our historical experience, as to represent something completely new. See this 

Camilo Mora: The timing of climate departure is an index that calculated the year after which the climate will become like something that we’ve never seen. We calculated the minimum and maximum values for the historic variability in the last 150 years. And we analyzed when climate change is going to move the climate beyond those thresholds. At the broadest scale, we calculate that year, under a business as usual scenario, is going to be 2047. Basically, by the year 2047 the climate is going to move beyond something we’ve never seen in the last 150 years. 

e360: The results of your analysis were startling, I think, even to you and your team. Under the scenario that assumes current emissions trends, part of Jamaica and Indonesia are just a few years away from climate departure; you predict Mexico City will experience this in 2031. 

See e.g.North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter”

"The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s normally close to the coldest time of year, but an extraordinary and possibly historic thaw swelled over the tip of the planet this weekend. Analyses show that the temperature warmed to the melting point as an enormous storm pumped an intense pulse of heat through the Greenland Sea.

And Carbon Capture ideas don't appear too likely, as this report discusses

Ways of sucking carbon dioxide from the air will not work on the vast scales needed to beat climate change, Europe’s science academies warned on Thursday.
From simply planting trees to filtering CO2 out of the air, the technologies that some hope could be a “silver bullet” in halting global warming either risk huge damage to the environment themselves or are likely to be very costly.
Virtually all the pathways laid out by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to reach the targets in the Paris agreement require huge deployment of so-called negative emissions technologies (NETs) in the second half of the century.
This is because cuts in CO2 are expected to be too slow to hit zero emissions quickly enough, so the overshoot has to be recaptured later by NETs. The IPCC calculates that about 12bn tonnes a year will need to be captured and stored after 2050 – the equivalent of about a third of all global emissions today.
“You can rule out a silver bullet,” said Prof John Shepherd, at the University of Southampton, UK, and an author of the report. “Negative emissions technologies are very interesting but they are not an alternative to deep and rapid emissions reductions. These remain the safest and most reliable option that we have.”
The new report is from the European Academies Science Advisory Council(EASAC), which advises the European Union and is comprised of the national science academies of the 28 member states. It warns that relying on NETs instead of emissions cuts could fail and result in severe global warming and “serious implications for future generations”.

In conclusion, here's a postcard from tomorrow

"And we know now what the dread was we felt in December. Call it climate change or climate collapse, that was the Big Dread behind the smaller ones. Climate believers, climate deniers, deep in our hearts we think it will happen somewhere else. Or, in some other time, in 2025 or 2040 or next year. But we are here to tell you, in this postcard from the former paradise, that it won’t happen next year, or somewhere else. It will happen right where you live and it could happen today. No one will be spared.”
So, if you are driving around and flying on airplanes and ordering things to be shipped by truck and making money off oil stock the way so many of us are – like there’s no tomorrow? We are here to tell you there is a tomorrow and we are living in it.

What about energy?

Hagens believes that oil production will peak in the next ten years.   This view is consistent with trends over the last decade of both higher costs of production,  as well as a lower rate of investment in new fields see here  .(Note that, this lack of investment has nothing to do with the recent decline in the oil price, which started in 2014. This has been an on-going problem for the past 30 years. Now, the IEA is predicting oil shortages by ~2020 due to declining exploration. )
For an interesting model of oil production out to 2050 see here.  It predicts a world peak at 2020
There is a lot of talk about "peak demand" and the associated theory that, peak supply will not be a problem, because the transportation system will have already moved on the electric vehicles.   This is of course dependent on the taste at which electric vehicles are adopted.   There are a number of predictions about when EV sales would have an impact on oil use.  You can take your pick from 2020 (Grantham Foundation) , 2025 (Bloomberg); 2030 (World Energy Council); or 2040 (BP),  see here 
As for the impact of EV's there remains some skepticism.
Robert Rapier points out that oil use continues to grow, even accelerate

The flaw in the scenario is that for over 30 years average oil demand has grown each year by more than a million BPD’’ Over the past decade, oil demand has grown each year by 1.1 million BPD. Over the past five years, 1.4 million BPD. Last week the bible of energy statistics was released — the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017 — and it showed that oil consumption grew by 1.6 million BPD last year
The bottom line is that even in a best case scenario for EV growth rates, demand for oil rose by 1.6 million BPD last year, and it’s projected to increase by 1.4 million BPD this year.
  And see this from IEA director, Fatih Birol
“Oil demand growth today is not driven by cars, it’s driven by trucks, planes, ships and the petrochemical industry,” the IEA’s executive
director Fatih Birol said in January. “Even if there was a big electrification of cars in the years to come, oil demand will still grow.”
Birol also points to the world’s poor track record since the 1980s on weaning itself off fossil fuels to decarbonize energy supplies.
Over the last 30 years, he said, the share of fossil fuels has not fallen from 81%.

Thus, there is no guarantee that peak demand will precede peak supply.  If peak supply comes first, then the price of oil is likely to rise likely affecting economic activity.  See this study

When you don't know what is coming, Hagens suggest resilience and flexibility.   And learning to live with less.

The "elite" apparently plan to seal themselves in their "enclaves" and tough it out.   Or maybe Mars?

But whats about the rest of us? What about those students?

Its unlikely that these students can expect to live the same lifestyle as their parents.  See here

The fading American Dream: Percent of U.S. children earning more than their parents, by year of birth, 1940-1985. Graphic: The Equality of Opportunity Project

What sort of  models are available for achieving the "good life" in a sustainable manner? Are there any counties where that happens?  Not really, according to this study

That's the conclusion of a new study which looked at 151 nations and found not a single one was running itself in a sustainable way – ensuring a decent life for its inhabitants without taking more than it gives back in terms of natural resources.


"We examined international relationships between the sustainability of resource use and the achievement of social goals, and found that basic needs, such as nutrition, sanitation, and the elimination of extreme poverty, could most likely be achieved in all countries without exceeding global environmental limits."
"Unfortunately, the same is not true for other social goals that go beyond basic subsistence such as secondary education and high life satisfaction. Meeting these goals could require a level of resource use that is two to six times the sustainable level."
"Although wealthy nations like the US and UK satisfy the basic needs of their citizens, they do so at a level of resource use that is far beyond what is globally sustainable.
"In contrast, countries that are using resources at a sustainable level, such as Sri Lanka, fail to meet the basic needs of their people."
Among the countries doing the best job are Vietnam, with 6 social thresholds achieved and only 1 biophysical boundary transgressed, and Germany, which hits all 11 social thresholds but has exceeded 5 of the 7 biophysical boundaries.
However there is some hope: the researchers say we can make adjustments to both ensure a good quality of life for the population and avoid destroying the planet at the same time.
In other words, these feedback loops – which show better lives costing more resources – are not fixed, and we can work towards finding ways to support our population without taking too much out of what the planet can give us.
"Radical changes are needed if all people are to live well within the limits of the planet," says one of the team, Julia Steinberger from the University of Leeds.
"These include moving beyond the pursuit of economic growth in wealthy nations, shifting rapidly from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and significantly reducing inequality.
"Our physical infrastructure and the way we distribute resources are both part of what we call provisioning systems. If all people are to lead a good life within the planet's limits then these provisioning systems need to be fundamentally restructured to allow for basic needs to be met at a much lower level of resource use."

Such a "radical change " may require giving up on "time saving" devices and "conveniences", which provide more "free time" . But for what?
So, if Hagens is right, we are likely to see more climate chaos, and we will have less resources to deal with it.  

But he is not despairing.  He knows this means a lower "standard of living"  with less conveniences,  probably with a lot more work.  Less flying, less driving, less buying.  But perhaps more community, more time , more neighborliness.   

Is there no hope?  Perhaps that isn't the right question?   This climate scientist suggest that what we need now is not hope, but courage.

As a climate scientist, I am often asked to talk about hope. Particularly in the current political climate, audiences want to be told that everything will be all right in the end. And, unfortunately, I have a deep-seated need to be liked and a natural tendency to optimism that leads me to accept more speaking invitations than is good for me. Climate change is bleak, the organizers always say. Tell us a happy story. Give us hope. The problem is, I don’t have any.

I have no hope that these changes can be reversed. We are inevitably sending our children to live on an unfamiliar planet. But the opposite of hope is not despair. It is grief. Even while resolving to limit the damage, we can mourn. And here, the sheer scale of the problem provides a perverse comfort: we are in this together. The swiftness of the change, its scale and inevitability, binds us into one, broken hearts trapped together under a warming atmosphere.
 We are all fated to live lives shot through with sadness, and are not worth less for it. Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending. Little molecules, random in their movement, add together to a coherent whole. Little lives do not. But here we are, together on a planet radiating ever more into space where there is no darkness, only light we cannot see.

We need courage, not hope. Grief, after all, is the cost of being alive. We are all fated to live lives shot through with sadness, and are not worth less for it. Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending. Little molecules, random in their movement, add together to a coherent whole. Little lives do not. But here we are, together on a planet radiating ever more into space where there is no darkness, only light we cannot see.

The Post Carbon Institute (now located in Corvallis)  offers a number of resources to help people deal with our future.  Besides books such as the Community Resilience Reader,

National and global efforts have failed to stop climate change, transition from fossil fuels, and reduce inequality. We must now confront these and other increasingly complex problems by building resilience at the community level. The Community Resilience Reader combines a fresh look at the challenges humanity faces in the 21st century, the essential tools of resilience science, and the wisdom of activists, scholars, and analysts working with community issues on the ground. It shows that resilience is a process, not a goal; that resilience requires learning to adapt but also preparing to transform; and that resilience starts and ends with the people living in a community.

PCI also offers on line courses such as Think Resilience:Preparing Communities for the Rest of the 21st Century

Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg sat down to deliver a 22-chapter lecture series entitled “Think Resilience: Preparing Communities for the Rest of the 21st Century,” which explores how communities can build resilience in the face of our intertwined sustainability crises. The series is intended for students and concerned individuals of all ages.
New chapters will be rolled out on a regular basis over the coming weeks, but you can also sign up to view all the videos right away or watch them as part of an online, interactive course taught by Richard Heinberg himself.

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