Thursday, June 1, 2017

I read the news today, oh boy

A man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
     -Paul Simon

It can't happen here
      -Frank Zappa


      Well Mr T, seems to have permanent spot on the front page.  Which as far as I can tell suits him just fine.

       Fake news, real news, it doesn't seem to matter.

       Here's a funny piece by Dave Roberts, about Mr T and a denialist meme - "crying wolf"  -i.e. "scientists keep changing their story - just a few years ago they were worried about global cooling, now warming, whats next"? .    This little bit of fake news even comes with its own fake over of Time magazine!

        But, even the "paper of record "the old lady lady, The New York times, has got some trouble telling the truth and the whole truth.  This article dissects the "cognitive dissonance " that is inherent in the opinion page.  Yes, it's fine to say that climate change is a serious problem , but when it comes to "taking your medicine"  , they prefer is with "a spoonful of sugar".   The sugar, of course, is that there is no need to disrupt economic growth , there is plenty of time for a gradual change .

This all has a tendency to treat climate change like an unpleasant chore, perhaps like getting a new roof.   "Something must be done, no doubt, but not right now "

This is probably not the wisest course.  First of all, the stakes are very high - an out of control climate could make life very unpleasant  - and could in fact kill a lot of people.  Secondly, the window of opportunity to deal with it is closing fast.

Consider  this article, which points out that the people who know the most about climate science are very worried , about the effects, not in  100 years - but in the very near future,  within the lifetime of their children or grand children.

"Civilization was made possible by the emergence about 12,000 years ago of the "Holocene" epoch, which turned out to be the Goldilocks zone - not too hot, not too cold. But now, says physicist Stefan Rahmstorf, "We are catapulting ourselves way out of the Holocene."

This catapult is dangerous, because we have no evidence civilization can long survive with significantly higher temperatures. And yet, the world is on a trajectory that would lead to an increase of 4C (7F) in this century. In the opinion of many scientists and the World Bank, this could happen as early as the 2060s.

What would "a 4C world" be like? According to Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (at the University of East Anglia), "during New York's summer heat waves the warmest days would be around 10-12C (18-21.6F) hotter [than today's]." Moreover, he has said, above an increase of 4C only about 10% of the human population will survive."

The main reason for pessimism is the fear that the planet's temperature may be close to a tipping point that would initiate a "low-end runaway greenhouse," involving "out-of-control amplifying feedbacks." This condition would result, says Hansen, if all fossil fuels are burned (which is the intention of all fossil-fuel corporations and many governments). This result "would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans."

Moreover, many scientists believe that runaway global warming could occur much more quickly, because the rising temperature caused by CO2 could release massive amounts of methane (CH4), which is, during its first 20 years, 86 times more powerful than CO2. Warmer weather induces this release from carbon that has been stored in methane hydrates, in which enormous amounts of carbon -- four times as much as that emitted from fossil fuels since 1850 -- has been frozen in the Arctic's permafrost. And yet now the Arctic's temperature is warmer than it had been for 120,000 years -- in other words, more than 10 times longer than civilization has existed.

According to Joe Romm, a physicist who created the Climate Progress website, methane release from thawing permafrost in the Arctic "is the most dangerous amplifying feedback in the entire carbon cycle." The amplifying feedback works like this: The warmer temperature releases millions of tons of methane, which then further raise the temperature, which in turn releases more methane.
The resulting threat of runaway global warming may not be merely theoretical. Scientists have long been convinced that methane was central to the fastest period of global warming in geological history, which occurred 55 million years ago. Now a group of scientists have accumulated evidence that methane was also central to the greatest extinction of life thus far: the end-Permian extinction about 252 million years ago.

Worse yet, whereas it was previously thought that significant amounts of permafrost would not melt, releasing its methane, until the planet's temperature has risen several degrees Celsius, recent studies indicate that a rise of 1.5 degrees would be enough to start the melting".

But some of 'us" won't have to wait for 2060.  As this article makes clear.  Based on this study

"According to this study, the tropics, which are the near-equatorial region of this planet that’s almost 100% impoverished, and that has thus contributed virtually nothing to global warming, will begin the period of permanent catastrophe starting in approximately 2020; but the (cooler) moderate-latitude countries, such as in North America and Europe, will begin this catastrophic period in or around 2047.
This isn’t to say that things won’t continue to get worse after then; it’s only to say that this is, as the article will be titled, “The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability.”
This landmark article was co-authored by a team of 14 climate-scientists. It says: “Unprecedented climates will occur earliest in the tropics and among low-income countries.” It explains that the reason for this is that the countries near the equator have far less variability in their weather than do the moderate-climate countries, and so the species that constitute the ecosystems there cannot tolerate temperatures outside their narrow range, which has existed within that narrow range for thousands of years. Consequently, species-extinctions will soar there much faster and earlier than here. The existing impoverished economies, within around 2,500 miles of the equator (where average per-capita incomes are less than 10% of the average in the moderate-latitude countries such as ours), will become unlivable."

 This "cognitive dissonance is nicely summed up in this piece from the Guardian,   

Our best scientists tell us insistently that a calamity is unfolding, that the life-support systems of the Earth are being damaged in ways that threaten our survival. Yet in the face of these facts we carry on as usual.”

Most citizens ignore or downplay the warnings; many of our intellectuals indulge in wishful thinking; and some influential voices declare that nothing at all is happening, that the scientists are deceiving us. Yet the evidence tells us that so powerful have humans become that we have entered this new and dangerous geological epoch, which is defined by the fact that the human imprint on the global environment has now become so large and active that it rivals some of the great forces of nature in its impact on the functioning of the Earth system.

Many intellectuals in the social sciences and humanities do not concede that Earth scientists have anything to say that could impinge on their understanding of the world, because the “world” consists only of humans engaging with humans, with nature no more than a passive backdrop to draw on as we please.
The “humans-only” orientation of the social sciences and humanities is reinforced by our total absorption in representations of reality derived from media, encouraging us to view the ecological crisis as a spectacle that takes place outside the bubble of our existence.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Taking it to the streets

And it's one, two , three
Hey, what are we fighting for ?

       - Country Joe and the fish



      Happy Earth Day,  (A little late).   And have a happy March for the Climate.

      Before we decide what it is we are fighting for, let's take a look at where we are.  What's new?  Well, CO 2 has set a new record - 410 ppm.  Not exactly a good sign.   In fact, CO2 levels are not merely rising,   but accelerating .    

See chart

Inline image 1

 But how can this be?  Supposedly, CO2 emmissions have flattened.  We are constantly hearing that the solar and wind revolution is already here.  Tesla is building huge battery factories.  Surely this means things are getting better. .

      Here is a very interesting article that explores this mystery.  

    I recommend you read the whole thing, but here is a snip.

       " Recently the climate press has been buzzing about a hopeful CO2 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA estimates that fossil fuel CO2 didn't increase in either 2015 or 2016. Even better, they point out, this is the first time that has happened while the global economy expanded. I was curious how to reconcile this plateau in fossil fuel CO2 with the continued acceleration of atmospheric CO2. Here's what I found:
    1. Fossil fuel CO2 might be increasing. The IEA numbers might be wrong. They rely on nations to accurately report their fossil fuel use. Not all of them do, especially when it comes to burning their own coal supplies. In fact, the lack of a system to accurately verify national CO2 claims was a key issue in the Paris Climate Accord discussions. The worry is that as nations face increasing pressure and scrutiny around their CO2, the incentives to cook the books will increase. Incorrect accounting of just one percent globally could switch the storyline from "hopeful plateau" to "continuing acceleration". The IEA devotes two chapters of their "CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion" report to the various issues impacting data accuracy.
    2. Humans might be increasing CO2 emissions from other sectors. Roughly a quarter of the CO2 released by humans comes from non-energy sources not covered in the EIA numbers. These include land use changes, agriculture, deforestation, fugitive emissions, industrial processes, solvents and waste. We could be increasing CO2 from these.
    3. Climate change might be increasing CO2 emissions. Increases in wildfires, droughts, melting permafrost — as well as changes to plankton and oceans — can all cause sustained increases in CO2 emissions. And climate change is affecting all of these. Perhaps some of these changes are underway.
    4. The oceans and biosphere might be absorbing less of our CO2. Much of the CO2 humans release gets taken up by the oceans (ocean acidification) and the biosphere (increased plant growth). Some climate models predict these "CO2 sinks" will lose their ability to keep up. If that is starting to happen, then dumping the same amount of CO2 into the atmosphere will result in increasing amounts staying there.

           We continue to accelerate towards a nasty climate future.  This is  not only the end of the Holicene ( the relatively benign climate we've had for 12,0000 years - enabling us to create agriculture, and civilization )  but the end of the Anthropocene ( the period when humans - briefly took control of the climate- until human activity was swamped by positive feedbacks).   I'm not sure if we have a name for the next era  "Out - of -control -ocene"?

    See this thought provoking article.  "Exiting the anthropocene" .  

    The author provides a nice distinction between the reactions of most people :  Hard Denial. - i.e.  it's not really happening so I don't need to change my lifestyle,  and Soft Denial. - it's happening, but  slowly and I've got plenty of time to impliment technical solutions, so I don't need to change my lifestyle.  He says:

'It is as if the crew of the Titanic was split between those that thought that it would take days to sink, and those that believed that it would never sink. No need to panic, better to relax with a nice cup of tea.

      Can't we somehow blame this on Trump?  Well he's not making it better,  but despite the nice rhetoric thd Obama program (" all of the above")  didn't make things much better.

       So, why are we stuck?

       One interesting way to look at it, is from an "oligarch perspective".   Its no secret that for many years, US politics has been heavily influenced by the those folks who have a lot of money.  You can call them the 1%, the Davos crowd, or simply the oligarchs.   They set up think tanks to draft position papers and fund  super pacs to fund campaigns.  No politician can afford to ignore them.  Neither hard nor soft denier oligarchs want anything that would disrupt economic growth.  

So, regardless of the impact to climate on the long or short term, this is what we get.  For an interesting exploration of the American system promotes the inters of the elites in many areas  See this New Yorker article  , "Is America An Oligarchy?"  or see the underlying study from Princeton.

   This "go slow" , soft denier,  approach is the dominant framework for dealing with climate change around the world.  See here

"Thus the market-driven, eco-modernist approach that is dominant in most major nations; the approach taken by the Obama presidency. A major requirement for this approach is that the official policy bodies, such as the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC), play along. They must support a position that a very rapid reduction in emissions, such as the 8-10% per year proposed by Kevin Andersen[4] [5], is not required. They must assume that we can even overshoot the carbon budget, and then suck the CO2 out of the air later with “negative emission technology”. Another assumption is that of no major positive climate feedbacks that will kick-in during the next few decades while we overshoot the carbon budget. There must also be an underlying belief in the ability of the market and technology to solve our problems. These assumptions are embedded in the official Integrated Assessment Models used to derive government policies, that assume no feedbacks, continued growth, rosy assumptions of market-driven renewables growth and efficiency gains, and a massive build-out of negative emissions technologies. The later real action is delayed, the more fantastical the models seem to become. As Andersen has noted, quite a few climate scenarios even assume that emission reductions started a number of years in the past[6]."

      Of course , this is to be expected.  As Paul Kingsnorth has pointed out  "saving the planet"  really means " saving the current form of civilization , and our lifestyle"

"Today’s environmentalism is as much a victim of the contemporary cult of utility as every other aspect of our lives, from science to education. We are not environmentalists now because we have an emotional reaction to the wild world. Most of us wouldn’t even know where to find it. We are environmentalists now in order to promote something called “sustainability.” What does this curious, plastic word mean? It does not mean defending the nonhuman world from the ever-expanding empire of Homo sapiens sapiens, though some of its adherents like to pretend it does, even to themselves. It means sustaining human civilization at the comfort level that the world’s rich people — us — feel is their right, without destroying the “natural capital” or the “resource base” that is needed to do so."

     And, it is quite understandable when looked at from a psychological perspective, as this article: Your brain on Climate Change -why the threat produces apathy not action".

"Our brain is essentially a get-out-of-the-way machine,” Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard best known for his research into happiness, told audiences at Harvard Thinks Big 2010. “That’s why we can duck a baseball in milliseconds.”
While we have come to dominate the planet because of such traits, he said, threats that develop over decades rather than seconds circumvent the brain’s alarm system. “Many environmentalists say climate change is happening too fast. No, it’s happening too slowly. It’s not happening nearly quickly enough to get our attention.”
Humans are saddled with other shortcomings, too. “Loss aversion” means we’re more afraid of losing what we want in the short-term than surmounting obstacles in the distance. Our built-in “optimism bias” irrationally projects sunny days ahead in spite of evidence to the contrary. To compound all that, we tend to seek out information not for the sake of gaining knowledge for its own sake, but to support our already-established viewpoints.
     I don't want to be too negative here.    This go slow approach could accomplish something.  Of course it won't keep the temperature below 1.5 or 2 degrees, as agreed in Paris.  But perhaps it can avoid 4  or 6 degrees.    What actually would achieve 2 degrees ?  Well here is what it might actually  take according to group of European researchers.  See here.

A simple (but daunting!) road map for staying below 2°C
They start with the big picture: To hit the Paris climate goals without geoengineering, the world has to do three broad (and incredibly ambitious) things:
1) Global CO2 emissions from energy and industry have to fall in half each decade. That is, in the 2020s, the world cuts emissions in half. Then we do it again in the 2030s. Then we do it again in the 2040s. They dub this a “carbon law.” Lead author Johan Rockström told me they were thinking of an analogy to Moore’s law for transistors; we’ll see why.
2) Net emissions from land use — i.e., from agriculture and deforestation — have to fall steadily to zero by 2050. This would need to happen even as the world population grows and we’re feeding ever more people.
3) Technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere have to start scaling up massively, until we’re artificially pulling 5 gigatons of CO2 per year out of the atmosphere by 2050 — nearly double what all the world’s trees and soils already do.

     This program would not meet the desires of the soft deniers, because it is very unlikely that such cuts could be made without a major effect on economic growth.  So, we are between rock and a hard place. Maybe the best we can hope for is the market based eco modernism  approach.  You might call it "business as usual " light.  We leave a little in the ground.  Maybe we leave the really uneconomic stuff - the tar sands and the oil shale.  We do build out a bunch of renewable capacity,  but we also probably leave the Anthropocene.

     That's when the positive feedbacks  take over.  We are already seeing some of them.  The biggest is the blueing of the Arctic.  There is more and more open water, which is absorbing heat.  Right now it is estimated that the amount of heat being absorbed by the Arctic is equivalent to 25% of the heat that humans are causing with CO2.    Once the ice fully melts that could be 50%  see this study.  See also Dr Peter Wadhams.  

      Other feedbacks are being triggered.  The permafrost is melting releasing CO2 and methane.   see here Permafrost melting 20% faster than thought.  No one has a good handle on the quantities involved.  Large ares of boreal  forest  and the Amazonian forest are become carbon emitters rather than carbon sinks.

         ( BTW:  Did you know there is a site called faster than expected?)

      So, the temperature will rise , the normal weather patterns will he disrupted .   This will eventually have a significant effect on agriculture .

    If you watch one climate video this year, I suggest you watch this one.   Its a speech by Dr. David  Battisti, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington,whose special is climate impacts to food security..   He discusses the sensitivity of the various staple crops - rice, wheat and maize - and how they are likely to handle the changes in temperature and rainfall.  (Skip to minutes 35, if you are impatient).  Using very conservative assumptions about temperature and rainfall, he suggest that by 2100 the crops productivity will drop by 30-40% , and much more in the tropics

Of course,this is already happening in some locales. See here

"Somalia, site of the world’s deadliest weather-related disaster of the past 34 years--the 2010 - 2011 drought and famine, which killed 258,000 people—is under dire threat again, thanks to a multi-year drought that has gripped Eastern Africa since the second half of 2015. After the rains of the main March - June rainy season were deficient in 2016, the important “short” rains of October - November 2016 essentially failed, causing crop failures and severe food shortages. Insurance broker Aon Benfield estimated damages from the drought of $1.9 billion, with $825 million of that total for Somalia, based on the U.N. appeal for that amount of money in aid for the region. During March, at least 136 people died of hunger in Somalia due to the drought, according to the International Business Times, and hundreds more have died in a cholera outbreak this year.

Of course, we tend to ignore what goes on it the temperate zones, especially Africa.  What about the"first world" ?    Here's one possible answer, from here

"Battisti convincingly demonstrates that heat stress dramatically and reliably reduces crop yield—by about ten percent per degree Celsius warming. But when we include impacts from increased weather volatility, changes in rainfall patterns, droughts and decreased water supplies, violent storms, increased pest pressure, and increased disease transmission rates—plus loss of land due to soil erosion, salinization, and sea level rise—we can readily see that a 30 – 40 percent reduction in food production is a wildly optimistic best case scenario.
Given all this, we can now say it’s quite possible that we’ll see something like a 50 – 60 percent reduction in global food production capacity within the next two or three decades. Meanwhile, the UN also projects that because of population pressure there will be a simultaneous increase in demand for food by 14 percent per decade going forward."

What to do?

Probably what people do in response to this predicament will depend on their personality and temperament.  Some of us will blog.   😄 Some of us, despite the apparent grip of the oligarchs, will protest.    Those who believe in divine intervention will pray.  

Others may plant trees.     Some may try to prepare for Dr Batisti's new world by gardening   and promoting a local food movement.   Or try to preserve local bits of the natural environment.   One might focus on the climate refugees, I Like those fleeing the war in Syria, which may be the first of the Climate Wars.     

Here is one interesting option.  Learn to live more simply .Here is an interesting movie,  “A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity” about some folks who tried the experiment of living much more simply,  while learning small house construction techniques.

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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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