Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Got to get back to the garden

Inna Godda Da Vida

   -Iron Butterfly

I'm a king bee
  -Muddy Waters

Greetings Gardeners

       Its now officially spring, so time to dig some dirt! 

       With all the crazy news that surrounds us, it's great to get out and start digging.  I call it "dirt therapy ".   Because, among other health benefits , gardening is a well known stress reducer.

"An experiment published in the Journal of Health Psychology compared gardening to reading as a stress-relieving activity; test subjects that gardened experienced a more significant decrease in stress when compared to the subjects that were assigned to read.

         You may need a stress reducer, as gardeners are on on the front line of the changing climate.  While many folks view the world through screens and only see food on supermarket shelves, gardeners have a direct connection to how nature is changing.

      And is it ever!  Welcome the Global Weirding!   

Although things seem pretty calm here in the Northwest, its a different story in the rest of the country.  The Weather Underground reports

Widespread damage from Southeast freeze
At least 90 percent of the peach crop in South Carolina (the nation’s top peach producer behind California) was wiped out by freezing temperatures late last week, according to the state’s agriculture commissioner. The state’s wheat and corn fields also suffered heavy damage, reported WISTV. A less severe freeze in Georgia may have ruined anywhere from 25 to 75 percent of that state’s peach crop. Blueberries across the Southeast also experienced major damage, 

     And this from the Wall Street Journa

"Two months of rain this northern winter have threatened almond, celery, strawberry and other crops in the Salinas Valley, the latest in a string of increasingly erratic weather to hurt farmers.
Farmers say the record rains could damage and delay some crops, leading to shortages and higher prices. The Salinas Valley produces most of the leafy greens for the US during this stretch of the season until cooler areas supplement supply, and some grocers say the winter conditions have forced them to brace for disruptions in supply.
Meanwhile in the Midwest, a string of warm days has worried producers of maple syrup, apples and other fruit because they ­depend on cold temperatures to trigger part of the production cycle in their orchards. Volatile weather also has struck agricultural regions in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Farmers are conditioned to ­expect the meteorologically unexpected. But many say more frequent and extreme shifts in weather have wiped out crops in recent years or cost them part of their growing season."

           And how about those poor old pollinators .?   I recently saw the General Mills has changed the package of "Honey Nut Cheerios"  to reflect the fact bees are in trouble.  . See here
"According to Greenpeace's Save The Bees campaign, "two thirds of the crops used to feed people, accounting for 90% of the world's nutrition, are pollinated by bees." But as important as they are, the environmental organization reports that bees and pollinators — like BuzzBee — are disappearing."

     So I hope we are all doing our part to help out those critters, by planting pollinator friendly yard plants .    Here are some ideas from OSU

        Walking around my new neighborhood, I see an interesting new trend - greenhouses.  This makes a lot of sense.  If you can get your plants going in a protected space , they will be stronger when you put them outdoors, and better able to handle a sudden heat wave , or bug infestation .   Also , a green house opens up the opportunity for winter greens.  I heard an interesting interview on ecoshock radio, with. Caleb Warnock,  who has a nice bunch of winter gardens in Salt Lake  City.  Check it out here.

      Happy digging!

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Your money or your life

They say the best things in life are free
well you can keep them for the birds and bees
     - the Beatles

Say a prayer 
for the salt of the earth
     -The Rolling Stones


       I ran across a review by Kevin Anderson,  of Leonardo DiCaprio's film, Before the Flood.  Its worth reading.  Here.    He says that the movie does provide some good information, but that it leaves the viewer with the impression that there are easy technical solutions to climate change,  which do not require any changes to our life style.  He says:

"Certainly huge strides towards low carbon energy could be achieved now with existing energy supply and demand technologies. The research, development and deployment of promising new technologies, including Musk’s solar-battery future, could be accelerated. But Paris and carbon budgets frame an urgent problem far beyond the multi-decadal timeframe of deploying sufficient new energy technologies to displace fossil fuels. Deep and early mitigation through reduced fossil-fuel use by high emitters is key to both extending the window for this technology-transition and for leaving sufficient emission space for those in poverty to have near-term access to fossil fuel energy."

He also has some harsh words about the film's claim that a person can be "carbon neutral " by buying offsets,  saying, 

"I really doubt that the Pope, whose Encyclical makes more systems-level sense than the plethora of glossy reports dispensed by green-growth ‘think’ tanks (and who was interviewed for the film), would sanction the ongoing “buying of indulgences”. For that’s what it is. The emissions from first-class flights, grand hotel rooms and travelling film crews are changing the climate now – and will for the next ten thousand years. The deed’s been done – and no amount of conscience-salving finance can assuage the climate impact. Ok, the projects funded may have real and important value – but asking someone else to diet whilst we binge on high-carbon fun is simply fraudulent. "

      For all his good intentions, Leo doesn't want to give up his lifestyle.  None of us do.  Leo is worth $245 million.   He has the lifestyle of the rich and famous.   (But that's OK, I think he's a good actor.)  The rest of us just have the lifestyle of the rich.   After all, we are the top 10% of the world.     (Interesting fact:   The top 10%  is responsible for 90% of the CO2 .   That's us.    The folks whose  income is greater than $23 a day - $8400 per year.      ). 
      So naturally, we hope that technology and "green growth", can reduce CO2 while increasing GNP, so we can continue to enjoy that life.   Eric Lindberg, in his article,  Economic Growth A Primer , makes an effective argument that this is a comforting illusion, but that any growth of GDP is likely to continue make things worse .  He notes that 

"  As the global economy grows, species go extinct, rainforests are permanently lost, carbon emissions grow, and the world becomes hotter and hotter.  These trends are not reversing, nor is there any credible sense that they might.

Interestingly Bill Gates  (net worth  $85 B ), seems to agree with Lindberg , at least in part.    He says

"What’s amazing is how our intense energy usage is one and the same as modern civilization. That is, for all the great things that happened in terms of human lifestyle, life span, and growing food before 1800, civilization didn’t change dramatically until we started using coal in the U.K. in the 1800s 

He also doesn't think that renewables will provide the answer
"Today’s technologies are a good start, but not good enough. Some places don’t get enough regular sunlight or reliable wind to depend heavily on these sources. In any case, these and other clean-energy technologies are still too expensive to be rolled out widely in poor countries. They’re getting cheaper, but many developing countries aren’t waiting for these tools to become affordable. They’re building large numbers of coal plants and other fossil-fuel infrastructure now. That’s very unfortunate, but it’s understandable. We can’t expect them to wait decades for cleaner alternatives when their people need energy now.
So, Gates is looking for an "energy miracle".   

For an interesting exploration of the hype about fast renewable energy is taking over, and how much capacity has been built. see  How Renewable Energy Advocates are Hurting the Climate Cause 

Lindberg  is not looking for a miracle, he has a different solution, stop economic growth.

"True, economic growth does provide some short-term benefits and gains, and recessions are legitimately painful and destructive But economic growth is nevertheless the greatest threat to humanity today, and those most devoted to economic growth will, as its consistent performance begins to wane in the future, perhaps be the greatest political threat to ordinary people of the world."  

           Another certified rich guy, Warren Buffet, (net worth $76.9 billion) has famously said "Only when the tide goes out,do you discover who has been swimming naked."

           It seems that the tide is going out    NOAA reports:

"The annual growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii jumped by 3.05 parts per million during 2015, the largest year-to-year increase in 56 years of research.

           Even the super rich are feeling nervous , and hope to avoid the impacts by building  "lifeboats "-  small compounds in places like New Zealand,  complete with airfields and planes. ( one wonders how such compounds will do in a "long emergency"

        The impacts to "regular people" has begun.  Today, climate change accounts for 87 per cent of disasters worldwide. Some of the worst droughts in decades are continuing to unravel across southeastern Africa and Latin America. Cyclonic storms, floods, wildfires, and landslides are bearing on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

 Some suggest that we "brace for impact"  

"The challenge of adaptation directly exposes the climate crisis as a crisis of social justice. All disasters break open the wounds of unequal societies. Storms do not discriminate, but they do make landfall on landscapes riven by disparities of wealth, power and safety.

The labels of ‘natural disaster’ and ‘extreme weather’ can mislead us into thinking that the principal dangers we face stem from the atmosphere’s furies. But as geographer Jesse Ribot writes, ‘vulnerability does not fall from the sky.’ The wreckage of climate change is the product of collision: between environmental conditions and human realities."
         Some people can't afford swim suits. 

         For an interesting exploration of energy, climate and poverty, you may want to take a look at part of  Bill Gate's blog  Life In the Dark.     (I was quite taken by the picture of the Nigerian students, with no electricity at home, studying under street lights.)



              According to Kevin Anderson, if carbon emissions were to peak in 2020,   any hope of avoiding  a 2 degree rise would involve, " on the order of 10 percent reductions a year after 2020, leading to total decarbonization by 2035-45."

      With that in mind , lets look the "cap and trade" bill that has been introduced in the Oregon legislature.(  HB 2135 ).  It would  require carbon reductions on the following timetable .  By 2025 : 20% reduction , by 2035 : 45%, by 2050 : 75%. 

      What's the proper response to this?   Obviously it fails the "Anderson test".  Most glaring is that it never requires "decarbonization"  at all. Not by 2035-45 as Anderson suggest.  Not by 2050.   We never get to 100% reduction.  Ever.  Is it a "step in the right direction"?.    In some sense it is.  But, clearly, this bill is not shooting for 2 degrees.    But,  as they say, "politics is the art of the possible.:  What is possible, may not be what is necessary.

       One possible way to look at all this, is by analogy .   When a ship is taking on water, you attempt to pump out the excess, , but there is a point at which the pumps are overwhelmed, see  e.g The Titanic..  At that point, pumping water will not improve things.   It's not a "step in the right direction".   It wouldn't really make it "less bad", because the ship is going down.  At that point it is time to put your energy elsewhere,  handing out life jackets , and   providing an orderly evacuation .    

     Similarly,  reduction in carbon emissions will be useful, but only up to a point.  That point is when the enough tipping points have been reached, and the climate change is self sustaining.  After that reductions will have no impact. 

 Have we crossed that line?  Hopefully not

     In any event, one way or the other, we had probably better "brace for impact".

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Alternative Facts

Its all part 
of my rock and roll fantasy
Its all part 
of my rock and roll dream
     -Bad Company

This is not my beautiful house
       -Talking Heads


      Well, we apparently have moved into the "truth free" area.    Here is a funny ( I think)  take on how the founding fathers might react to our current way of doing things.

"Two hundred years ago no one would have thought sheer volume of available facts in the digital information age would fail to produce informed Americans. Founders of the republic, steeped in the Enlightenment as they were, and believers in an informed citizenry being vital to freedom and democracy, would be delirious with joy at the prospect. Imagine Jefferson and Franklin high on Google. 
The fatal assumption was that Americans would choose to think and learn, instead of cherry picking the blogs and TV channels to reinforce their particular branded choice cultural ignorance, consumer, scientific or political, but especially political. Tom and Ben could never have guessed we would chase prepackaged spectacle, junk science, and titillating rumor such as death panels, Obama as a socialist Muslim and Biblical proof that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs around Eden. "  (from here)
      So, where am I going with this?    As far as energy and the environment are concerned, we are caught between two visions of the future, neither of which seem to be particularity likely to occur.  On the one hand we have the views of the current administration.  This used to be called "Drill Baby Drill" ,but is now known as   "The "America First Energy Plan", .  

    This plan has three desired goals,  all of which were met in the 1950's, but unfortunately in today's energy world, only two could be realized at the same time. 

Two out of three
To close, let’s look again at the three goals of Trump’s America First Energy Plan:
• Abundant fossil fuel
• Profitable fossil fuel
• Cheap fossil fuel
With remaining resources increasingly represented by unconventional oil such as that in the Permian basin of Texas, there is indeed abundant fossil fuel – but it’s very expensive to get. Therefore if oil companies are to remain profitable, oil has to be more expensive – that is, there can be abundant fossil fuel and profitable fossil fuel, but then the fuel cannot be cheap (and the economy will hit the skids). Or there can be abundant fossil fuel at low prices, but oil companies will lose money hand-over-fist (a situation which cannot last long).
It’s a bit harder to imagine, but there can also be fossil fuel which is both profitable to extract and cheap enough for economies to afford – it just won’t be abundant. That would require scaling back production/consumption to the remaining easy-to-extract conventional fossil fuels, and a reduction in overall demand so that those limited supplies aren’t immediately bid out of a comfortable price range. For that reduction in demand to occur, there would have to be some combination of dramatic reduction in energy use per capita and a rapid increase in deployment of renewable energies.   (for more details see  here.)

           On the other side we have our shiny new renewable plan which also has three goals. - cheap abundant energy, universal prosperity, and no significant environmental impact.

     Once again we find these goals to be internally inconsistent, as illustrated by Professor  William Reese, the creator of the ecological footprint analysis.  In In a nice review of the situation , Chapter 4 of the  Worldwatch Institutes,  "State of the World" 2013 , Professor Reese explains  how thoroughly unsustainable our current situation is, and that on average we are using the "ecological income " from  1.5 planets, each year.   Carbon emissions are of course, a major part of the unsustainable situation, but other population dependent factors such top soil loss,  over fishing and forestry also continue the increase..
        But, of course, the  current lavish, energy rich lifestyles of the "developed nation" , exists overwhelmingly as a result of the use of fossil fuels.   Reese provides a  recipe for sustainability for the west.,  First he punctures the "sustainability through efficiency " meme noting that ..". total resource and energy demand in most of the world’s industrial countries has increased in absolute terms over the past 40 years despite efficiency gains of 50 percent in materials and 30 percent in energy use".

       He then explains what it would take:

Clearly, lifestyle choices have a significant impact on our Ecological Footprint. However, even if average Vancouverites followed a vegan diet; avoided driving or flying and only walked, cycled, or used public transit;lived in a passive solar house that used almost no fossil-based energy; and cut their personal consumption by half, they could only reduce their per 
capita Ecological Footprint by 44 percent (from 4.96 to 2.8 gha per capita).That seems like an impossible challenge already—and yet it is still a full global hectare beyond the one-planet threshold.

       In case you skipped that quote, here is the takeaway,  in order to return to sustainability, , we  in the "west" need to do the following things :No driving, no flying, and  little buying.  Oh,yeah, and become a vegan.   And even then, its pretty iffy. 
       But that's not picture we get from our leaders, or environmental activists.  They assume, we can have more of the same, with no major changes. How can we have such irrationality on both sides.?  It seems that both on the right and left are able to forget facts when they conflict with dreams.   Here's an interesting article on the appeal of "fake news" to both sides of the political spectrum.  One study found  that both sides were happy not to question or analyze,  and that liberals, were only " slightly more predisposed to think critically than conservatives ."
"Daniel Kahan, a Yale professor of law and psychology, says his research has found that people on the right are no more vulnerable to political bias than those on the left.

""Bottom line," Kahan said in an email, "there's ample evidence of politically biased information processing across the entire ideological spectrum."

         So, one might argue that humans are often  basically irrational, and believe what makes them feel good.  see here  When confronted by opposing facts, they will often, not change their minds , but will even hold their original position more strongly See e.g. The Back fire effect.

         OK, so, how is this likely to play out?

         For one possible future, lets look at John Micheal Greer, who recently wrote,

The Earth’s economically accessible reserves of fossil carbon dwindle day by day; with each year that passes, on average, the amount of coal, oil, and natural gas burnt exceeds the amount that’s discovered by a wider margin  (ed  see above); the current temporary glut in the oil markets is waning so fast that analysts are predicting the next price spike as soon as 2018.  (ed. see here) Talk of transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, on the one hand, or nuclear power on the other, remains talk—I encourage anyone who doubts this to look up the amount of fossil fuels burnt each year over the last two decades and see if they can find a noticeable decrease in global fossil fuel consumption to match the much-ballyhooed buildout of solar and wind power.

The industrial world remains shackled to fossil fuels for most of its energy and all of its transportation fuel, for the simple reason that no other energy source in this end of the known universe provides the abundant, concentrated, and fungible energy supply that’s needed to keep our current lifestyles going. There was always an alternative—deliberately downshifting out of the embarrassing extravagance that counts for normal lifestyles in the industrial world these days, accepting more restricted ways of living in order to leave a better world for our descendants—but not enough people were willing to accept that alternative to make a difference while there was still a chance.

Meanwhile the other jaw of the vise that’s tightening around the future is becoming increasingly visible just now. In the Arctic, freak weather systems has sucked warm air up from lower latitudes and brought the normal process of winter ice formation to a standstill. In the Antarctic, the Larsen C ice shelf, until a few years ago considered immovable by most glaciologists, is in the process of loosing an ice sheet the size of Delaware into the Antarctic Ocean. (ed. see here I look out my window and see warm rain falling; here in the north central Appalachians, in January, it’s been most of a month since the thermometer last dipped below freezing. The new administration has committed itself to do nothing about anthropogenic climate change, but then, despite plenty of talk, the Obama administration didn’t do anything about it either.

There’s good reason for that, too. The only way to stop anthropogenic climate change in its tracks is to stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and doing that would require the world to ground its airlines, turn its highways over to bicycles and oxcarts, and shut down every other technology that won’t be economically viable if it has to depend on the diffuse intermittent energy available from renewable sources.  (ed.  see above).  Does the political will to embrace such changes exist? Since I know of precisely three climate change scientists, out of thousands, who take their own data seriously enough to cut their carbon footprint by giving up air travel, it’s safe to say that the answer is “no.”

So, basically, we’re in for it.

 "In for it" is a short hand way of saying that the feedbacks will eventually make it impossible for the industrial system to continue.   Some people might say "It's about time!   Now perhaps we can give the biosphere a chance to heal itself.!  Maybe we can pick up the pieces and start again on a sustainable basis" .  See e.g  Surviving The Future    But what about between now and when we "pick up the pieces"?   Greer's prognosis for that era is not all that appealing 

" From the early days of the peak oil movement in the late 1990s on, a remarkably large number of the people who talked eagerly about the looming crisis of our age seemed to think that its consequences would leave them and the people and things they cared about more or less intact. That wasn’t universal by any means; there were always some people who grappled with the hard realities that the end of the fossil fuel age was going to impose on their own lives; but all things considered, there weren’t that many, in comparison to all those who chattered amiably about how comfortable they’d be in their rural doomsteads, lifeboat communities, Transition Towns, et al.

Now, as discussed earlier in this post, we’ve gotten a very modest helping of decline and fall, and people who were enthusiastically discussing the end of the industrial age not that long ago are freaking out six ways from Sunday. If a relatively tame event like the election of an unpopular president can send people into this kind of tailspin, what are they going to do the day their paychecks suddenly turn out to be worth only half as much in terms of goods and services as before—a kind of event that’s already become tolerably common elsewhere, and could quite easily happen in this country as the dollar loses its reserve currency status?

What kinds of meltdowns are we going to get when internet service or modern health care get priced out of reach, or become unavailable at any price?  How are they going to cope if the accelerating crisis of legitimacy in this country causes the federal government to implode, the way the government of the Soviet Union did, and suddenly they’re living under cobbled-together regional governments that don’t have the money to pay for basic services? What sort of reaction are we going to see if the US blunders into a sustained domestic insurgency—suicide bombs going off in public places, firefights between insurgent forces and government troops, death squads from both sides rounding up potential opponents and leaving them in unmarked mass graves—or, heaven help us, all-out civil war?

This is what the decline and fall of a civilization looks like. It’s not about sitting in a cozy earth-sheltered home under a roof loaded with solar panels, living some close approximation of a modern industrial lifestyle, while the rest of the world slides meekly down the chute toward history’s compost bin, leaving you and yours untouched. It’s about political chaos—meaning that you won’t get the leaders you want, and you may not be able to count on the rule of law or even the most basic civil liberties. It’s about economic implosion—meaning that your salary will probably go away, your savings almost certainly won’t keep its value, and if you have gold bars hidden in your home, you’d better hope to Hannah that nobody ever finds out, or it’ll be a race between the local government and the local bandits to see which one gets to tie your family up and torture them to death, starting with the children, until somebody breaks and tells them where your stash is located.

It’s about environmental chaos—meaning that you and the people you care about may have many hungry days ahead as crazy weather messes with the harvests, and it’s by no means certain you won’t die early from some tropical microbe that’s been jarred loose from its native habitat to find a new and tasty home in you. It’s about rapid demographic contraction—meaning that you get to have the experience a lot of people in the Rust Belt have already, of walking past one abandoned house after another and remembering the people who used to live there, until they didn’t any more.

More than anything else, it’s about loss. Things that you value—things you think of as important, meaningful, even necessary—are going to go away forever in the years immediately ahead of us, and there will be nothing you can do about it.  It really is as simple as that. People who live in an age of decline and fall can’t afford to cultivate a sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, for reasons discussed at some length in one of last month’s posts, the notion that the universe is somehow obliged to give people what they think they deserve is very deeply engrained in American popular culture these days. That’s a very unwise notion to believe right now, and as we slide further down the slope, it could very readily become fatal—and no, by the way, I don’t mean that last adjective in a metaphorical sense.

That gives the "transition"  a different perspective.  And when might this happen?  Well, Greer suggest that in some sense it is happening; i.e. social and political conflicts are coming to the fore.  I'd suggest that we wont really notice until the next "Great Recession", which at least one pundit , Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, suggests that it's around the next corner.  See  here.     Who knows?

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Getting Loopy

Took a ride on the loop-d-loop...
That's when I fell in love
Down at Palisades Park
      -Freddy Cannon

Run, run,run
    -Dell Shannon


     Its true that our political situation is now expressing it's essential loopiness, (Climate denier to head EPA) and there is some loopiness in the weather  the jet stream is getting wobbly, and the poles are too hot. -Artcic air to hit 35-55F above normal

.   But the loops I am thinking of now are the loop in the climate models - the feedback loops.   Some of the are negative loops, which tend to reduce to CO2, but most seem to be "positive" loops which despite their name, tend to make things worse.

      A recent study has brought put a degree of precision on one of the loops - carbon releases from land and sea and the fact that  the ocean and land tend to hold less carbon as they get warmer.   So co2 in the air causes heat on land and sea, and heat causes more co2 releaases from the land and sea to the air.     Robert Scribbler has a useful article  that explains the study in more detail.  Its worth taking a look at, because the implications are pretty astounding.   

Here are a two quotes

"Sadly, soil respiration is just one potential feedback mechanism that can produce added greenhouse gasses as the Earth warms. Warming oceans take in less carbon and are capable of producing their own carbon sources as they acidify and as methane seeps proliferate. Forests that burn due to heat and drought produce their own carbon sources. But increasing soil respiration, which has also been called the compost bomb, represents what is probably one of the most immediate and likely large sources of carbon feedback."


What this means is that the stakes for cutting human carbon emissions to zero as swiftly as possible just got a whole hell of a lot higher. If we fail to do this, we will easily be on track for 5-7 C or worse warming by the end of this Century. And this level of warming happening so soon and over so short a timeframe is an event that few, if any, current human civilizations are likely to survive. Furthermore, if we are to avoid terribly harmful warming over longer periods, we must not only rapidly transition to renewable energy sources. We must also somehow learn to pull carbon, on net, out of the atmosphere in rather high volumes.

    As Robert points out, thanks to natural gas and renewable power, the amount of carbon the world puts into the air has actually begun to stop rising, and begun to reach a plateau.   Unfortunately the actual concentration of CO2 in the air has not stopped rising. .  it continues to rise at a record breaking pace.   Which naturally leads to the question :  Where is this extra carbon coming from?"    It appears that some of the additional CO2 is a result of that the carbon feedback from the ocean and land.  

        As the feedback increases, the warming increases, at an accelerating rate.   The study shows a fairly wide range of outcomes,  but it may be useful to consider the worst case scenario.  Because as our information has gotten better, it seems that the scientific studies are generally conservative.  

      With that in mind, take look at the graph from the study,   As I read it, the worst case is 4 degrees by 2040.


From The Independent

And Robert points out that the study itself is conservative. 
"And it is also worth noting that the study categorizes its own findings as conservative estimates. That the world could, as an outside risk, see as much as four times the amount of carbon feedback (or as much as 2.7 ppm of CO2 per year) coming from soil if respiration is more efficient and wide-ranging than expected. If a larger portion of the surface soil carbon in newly warmed regions becomes a part of the climate system as microbes activate."
Is the study legit?  Apparently so.
"Professor Michael Mann, of Penn State University in the US, who led research that produced the famous “hockey stick” graph showing how humans were dramatically increasing the Earth’s temperature, told The Independent the new paper appeared "sound and the conclusions quite defensible".

It is pretty well accepted that 4 degrees is bad .  (!)
"The thing is, if 2 degrees C is extremely dangerous, 4 degrees C is absolutely catastrophic. In fact, according to the latest science, says Anderson, “a 4 degrees C future is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable.”
From here and here   
Professor Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change in Britain, was quoted in The Scotsman  ahead of the 2009 Copenhagen conference saying the consequences were ‘‘terrifying’’.
‘‘For humanity it’s a matter of life or death ... we will not make all human beings extinct, as a few people with the right sort of resources may put themselves in the right parts of the world and survive. But I think it’s extremely unlikely that we wouldn’t have mass death at 4 degrees.
‘‘If you have got a population of 9 billion by 2050 and you hit 4 degrees, 5 degrees or 6 degrees, you might have half a billion people surviving.’’

      OK, this is pretty bad. And of course well before 2040, other odd things will occur.   As this article points out
"...the climate crisis will not appear as a climate crisis, at least not to most people in the U.S.  Rather, it will appear as a political crisis, often precipitated by economic upheaval.  It will come in the form of migration, of course, but also in the form of poverty and a growing underclass of people uprooted from their old livelihoods, with little support from a government and society stretched too thin by mounting crises.  Very likely it will have racist component, which doesn’t mean that there will all of a sudden be more horrible and bad people.  Rather, it means that when ecological and thus economic crises squeeze people, trust horizons shrink, fault lines widen, and people (good enlightened urban liberals, we are seeing, as well) become more tribal.  As Trump so clearly shows, these shrinking trust horizons are exceedingly easy to manipulate."
   However, it would be mistake to try to blame these crises on Trump or conservatives.  The author notes           
"I am repeatedly struck with how ignorant the average well-educated, politically-involved, often graduate-educated membr of the liberal elite is about issues having to do with the climate and the magnitude of the crisis that awaits our inaction.  ...... For these liberals, the climate remains an abstraction, one that “we” are “better on” (“we don’t deny climate change, they do!”), which is apparently enough for now. 

But the facts speak well enough for themselves, the problem is almost no one bothers to learn them, nor has the university or powerful centers of journalism taken a lead in mainstreaming ecological awareness.  So, for the sake of review, here are just a few (or many) basics.  Even the best case scenario has us on a path to warm the globe by around two degrees centigrade, though our actions and expectations are aiming at a place much warmer than that.   The damage that this alone will cause—never mind all the other ecological disasters occurring simultaneously—will ravage our way of life.  There is little reason to expect our current world order to survive the climate crisis unless we make drastic changes, especially in our consumption.  For climate change is not only about it getting hotter, it is about unravelling the web of ecological connections that maintain life as we know it.  To this end, I think most liberals remain oblivious to the delicate nature of ecological equilibriums and to the extent to which nature provides us with irreplaceable “services,” like clean(ish) water, soil, pollination, air, relative weather predictability, a balance among species (including pests and pestilence), a check on the spread of disease, and the list could go on

And yet anyone who tries too hard to assert the importance of climate issues or suggest that ecological destruction has to do with real human beings and their suffering is accused of being insufficiently concerned about other pressing issues that are already on the table.  Anyone who forefronts climate destruction, I have heard it said multiple times, is simply writing from a race, class, and gender subject-position that makes him or her insufficiently aware about the real problems affecting real people.  Unaware of the also basic fact that Americans (6% of the world population) consume about a quarter of all natural resources and create about a quarter of all emissions, these same “informed liberals” still cheer-on a rising U.S. GDP, while preparing to participate enthusiastically in this year’s “healthy retail season.”  This is not a blind-spot; this is an eclipse.  Liberal America, at least the part of it that makes a “decent” income, it bears mentioning, is also a greater squanderer of nature than less affluent rural America, the latter’s transfixion with NASCAR and ATV’s, and our membership in the Sierra Club, notwithstanding.  A couple of airplane flights, not to mention a second home in the country, is all it takes to send your own carbon footprint into orbit.  But such entitlements remain a third-rail of political discussion today.


Using  easy labels will not be helpful in understanding each other, and harder still understanding ourselves

"We are just doing what we were taught, following the expectations that we received from our formal education and informal socialization.  We certainly are not trying to make the planet uninhabitable, in fact many of strive to do just the opposite.  But the numbers do not lie and as history will someday be told, Americans led the charge towards the climate-cliff, cheering themselves on with great enthusiasm and little self-doubt.  It is far easier to put your own consumption and expectations about it into an accurate global perspective if you are not in the habit of dividing the world into good vs. evil."

We are heading into some really hard times.  We will be tempted to frame the problems in terms of good guys and bad guys  (and of course we will always be the "good" guys)  , of us and them.   And that will probably not be useful.  We will need to accept that we all created this mess, and will need to cooperate  to get through it.

"The whole system thinking that obliges one to admit our own complicity, and requires one to understand, to try to engage with the feelings and beliefs that people very different from oneself might have, to have sympathy for other’s with whom we may appear to have irreconcilable differences, puts us very close to the teachings of most religions. "

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