Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Didn't see that coming!

Blinded by the light
Revved up like a deuce
Another runner in the night

Manfred Mann

Running on empty 
Running blind

Jackson Brown


        Happy Solstice. (late, as usual).  

 So, of course, these days we have learned to accept climate change.    But we naturally hope it would be in some other place, or some other time.   For instance,  In Alaska they have to move entire towns;  south Florida is flooding without storms, see here (nice maps here
 ;  water shortages in  India .  But not in my city.  Surely not in Salem.  Yes, in Salem, you can't drink the water

   And maybe lots of other places.  Here's an explanation form The Climate Institute

Climate change contributes to excess cyanobacteria blooms by creating ideal conditions for cyanobacteria to grow. Cyanobacteria thrive in warm waters: as global temperatures rise, so too does global water temperatures. Cyanobacteria not only grow more rapidly in warm water from increased temperatures, but warmer waters also make it more difficult for water to mix, meaning the surface of the water remains much warmer than the rest of the body of water—and cyanobacteria grow more successfully on the surface.5 This is also disadvantageous because growing a thick cover on the surface of the water means that this photosynthetic organism can absorb sunlight easily, and grow even more rapidly.
Furthermore, increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are also favorable to the growth of cyanobacteria.The combination of warmer water temperatures and carbon dioxide absorption further creates perfect conditions for cyanobacteria growth and blooms.
A change in climate also affects precipitation rates and patterns. According to NASA, “Rising temperatures will intensify the Earth’s water cycle, increasing evaporation.  Increased evaporation will result in more storms, but also contribute to drying over some land areas.”7 This poses a problem when increased rainfall and storms causes more frequent nutrient pollution, “Thus, fertilization of arable land, sewage discharging, industrial effluents, use of detergents, extensive livestock farming are some of the activities that are responsible for the anthropogenic input of nutrients.”8

I guess the bottom line is, we need to expect the unexpected.  Here's  Michael Mann

Uncertainty is not our friend here," said Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann. "We are seeing increases in extreme weather events that go well beyond what has been predicted or projected in the past. We're learning that there are factors we were not previously aware of that may be magnifying the impacts of human-caused climate change." Among those are "subtle mechanisms involving the behavior of the jet stream that may be involved in explaining the dramatic increase we've seen in floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires," he said.
"Increasingly, the science suggests that many of the impacts are occurring earlier and with greater amplitude than was predicted," Mann said, after considering new research since the milestone of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment, which served as the scientific basis for the Paris Agreement.
"We have literally, in the space of a year, doubled our assessment of the potential sea level rise we could see by the end of this century. That is simply remarkable. And it is sobering," he said.

Who was expecting toxic algea blooms?  How about "rain bombs" like Houston had?  Or the "hot blob"?

'An ocean heating event called the Blob resulted in mass loss of sea life during the period of 2013-2014. It was associated with a towering high pressure ridge in which the upper level winds ran far to the north and into the Arctic. Beneath the ridge, temperatures both at the land and ocean surface grew to be much warmer than normal.

Or how about " insect Armageddon"?

"An insect Armageddon is under way, say many entomologists, the result of a multiple whammy of environmental impacts: pollution, habitat changes, overuse of pesticides, and global warming. And it is a decline that could have crucial consequences. Our creepy crawlies may have unsettling looks but they lie at the foot of a wildlife food chain that makes them vitally important to the makeup and nature of the countryside. They are “the little things that run the world” according to the distinguished Harvard biologist Edward O Wilson, who once observed: “If all humankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

So, the impacts are worse than we had expected at this temperature.    And the temperature is rising faster than we had expected.  How fast?   How about  4 degrees above pre industrial as early as 2064?

A great many record-breaking heat events, heavy floods, and extreme droughts would occur if global warming crosses the 4 °C level, with respect to the preindustrial period," said Dabang Jiang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "The temperature increase would cause severe threats to ecosystems, human systems, and associated societies and economies."
In the analysis, Jiang and his team used the parameters of scenario in which there was no mitigation of rising greenhouse gas emissions. They compared 39 coordinated climate model experiments from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (, which develops and reviews climate models to ensure the most accurate climate simulations possible.
They found that most of the models projected an increase of 4°C as early as 2064 and as late as 2095 in the 21st century, with 2084 appearing as the median year.

Study here
Of course that's the "worst case".  Unfortunately, expecting the worst case seems to be the most prudent approach..

According to a recentanalysis from scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR),  "[t]he worst case projections for global warming may be the most likely.”

 Are we already in a "climate emergency"?  I recently came across a book that suggests we are, and  offer a somewhat different slant on our predicament.  It's called, "Climate and Ecological Delusions and Contradictions That Will Rapidly End Humanity…Unless..."Free download here.    

The author argues that our current "plan", designed by politicians, is a recipe for disaster.  it consists of a rapid build-out of renewables (and a conversion of industrial and transportation to electricity).   As that cannot achieve the necessary reductions in CO2, a carbon sucking technology is proposed to fill the gap. 

 Relying on the work of Kevin Anderson, the book argues that while the plan is politically feasible, in practice it will not, and perhaps can not succeed.  The build-out would need to be much faster (perhaps 400 times as fast - see here ).  The current Paris agreement  proposals  will lead to 2-3 degrees beyond pre-industrial.  And the countries that agreed to them are not following through (see UN emissions gap report).  Furthermore, the carbon sucking technology has not been demonstrated . and the leading contender BECC, is potentially harmful.

But these facts are not well known.   In fact, we are flooded with,"feel good " stories about high tech making great strides.  Of course, strides are being made but they are dwarfed by the size of the problem.

And so the "problem,". (i.e.  something that can be solved,)  is rapidly turning into a "predicament ", (something that must be endured.)  Some aspects are already out of our control - see e.g. melting glaciers in the Arctic.  They argue that the only counterweight to the press and the politicians is the philanthropies .  These organizations control billions of dollars, they could illuminate our actual situation, and what it would really take to adapt to our current predicament and to avoid even more dangerous climate change.

The authors recognized the difficulty in getting through to the general public in a way that is " visible and visceral", a gut punch  of reality.  They offer some examples of techniques but recognize the competing  strength of our habitual world views.

           The  stories we  tell  ourselves,  the  cultural  paradigms that  represent  the  water  we  fish  swim  in,  change slowly  until  they  no  longer  work.   It  is  easy  then  to  ignore  coming  disasters,  even  though  we  may acknowledge  their  looming  reality.  Most  people  continue  to  use  vast  amounts of  fossil  fuels,  and  to consume far  more  than  our  happiness  requires,  even  though  we  are  aware  our  excesses  will  have  dark consequences  down  the  road.  The  future  is  “discounted”168  by  all  of  us,  not  only  by  economists. There  is  no  evidence-based,  rational way  that  we  can  continue  current operating systems–taking  twice  what  Mother  Earth  can maintain, sustain,  regenerate,  supply  to  us without exhaustion.  These  are delusions,  multi-faceted and interconnected.   Yet  facts  alone  will not move  or  change  dominant  human  behavioral  patterns or habituated cultural perspectives.

Here is James Hansons assessment of our actions to date.

All we’ve done is agree there’s a problem,” Hansen told the Guardian. “We agreed that in 1992 [at the Earth summit in Rio] and re-agreed it again in Paris [at the 2015 climate accord]. We haven’t acknowledged what is required to solve it. Promises like Paris don’t mean much, it’s wishful thinking. It’s a hoax that governments have played on us since the 1990s.”
Hansen’s long list of culprits for this inertia are both familiar – the nefarious lobbying of the fossil fuel industry – and surprising. Jerry Brown, the progressive governor of California, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, are “both pretending to be solving the problem” while being unambitious and shunning low-carbon nuclear power, Hansen argues.
There is particular scorn for Barack Obama. Hansen says in a scathing upcoming book that the former president “failed miserably” on climate change and oversaw policies that were “late, ineffectual and partisan”.

So, instead of dealing with the problem - our hyper consumption paradigm that is creating the overshoot in so many areas, we deal only with the symptoms.  Some symptoms are anticipated like wildfires and drought .  Some are not,  like toxic algea.  Are we ready for this Brave New Climate?  

And what about the issue of the day, immigration?  Here's an interesting analysis .    from here.  See also Welcome to the age of climate migration

One factor causing migrants to risk everything—even potentially losing their children—to travel through the heat of summer in the dangerous desert and towards the barbed wire fences and tent cities springing up just south of the United States border: climate change.
Many of the migrants being detained here now hail from what's referred variously as the Dry Corridor or the Northern Triangle, which consists of the three countries immediately south of Mexico: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
The agricultural crisis of the Northern Triangle area isn't something that cropped up overnight, but has been in the making for more than a decade. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations published a report in June 2016 that described the depth of the food insecurity crisis in the region, leaving 3.5 million people, or nearly 30 percent of the population, food insecure from crop losses estimated to be as high as 90 percent.
Why the high crop losses? It’s due to a cycle of severe drought followed by tumultuous rainfall in the region, a pair of extreme weather patterns attributed to El Nino and La Nina.
Kicking off in 2015, this latest cycle of El Nino has twisted normal weather patterns in the region. By the next year, 2016, many in the Dry Corridor region reported at least two failed harvests as local weather patterns turned to La Nina, which is characterized by above-normal summer rainfall. That rainfall is made doubly dangerous when the Atlantic hurricane season—which has gotten more violent every year—dumps plenty of its own rainfall, making farming difficult, if not absolutely impossible.
"What we're talking about here are changing precipitation patterns," Robert Albro, a research associate professor in the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University, said. "Climate scientists have observed that climate change is exacerbating El Nino and La Nina, so we see radically changing seasonal patterns."

      So, how are we going to deal with all these changes.  Be resilient, I suppose.   Be prepared, be flexible, have good community networks.  One lesson from Salem's water problems is that average citizens are very unprepared for any emergency.  They expect to be bailed out by somebody else - the government.    see Statesman editorial.

It's flawed reasoning for most residents to assume government will provide all necessary supplies in an emergency or that outside assistance will be instantly ready to offer aid.
The run early last week on water at area stores was worrisome but understandable because few were aware of the potential toxins threatening the water supply, so to them, it came without warning.
But residents with the means should have been able to crack open their emergency kit and take water from it.
It was an ideal opportunity to use water that might have been stored for a few months, and then replace it when the threat receded.
And yet, most raced to the store to buy water and other supplies causing many retailers to run out. Others took advantage of city and state water-distribution points.

With these recent water advisories, too many residents demonstrated they were unprepared to be without water and other supplies for a couple of days, let alone the couple of weeks.
Individuals who can, bear primary responsibility for preparing themselves. 
It's easy to bellyache about the failures of government; it's much harder to take responsibility for our own. 

So, expect the unexpected.  And prepare.

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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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