Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

Opine away!

David Horsey writes of his friend Jay Inslee, now governor of Washington:

In Congress, he became a leader on new energy technology and climate change. I once asked him how anything would ever get done to forestall the looming climate calamity, given the pitiful lack of political will on the issue. As always, he was upbeat, certain that smart leaders would find a solution, certain this was not another quixotic fight.So, it was no surprise that, in his inaugural speech as governor, Inslee told the assembled legislators he believes the state can lead the world in providing a technological response to the climate challenge. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated in California that states can take effective action to reduce carbon emissions even while the federal government dawdles. Inslee wants his state to follow a similar path and, in the process, create new jobs in the clean energy industry

Republican legislators, many of whom cling to the idea that climate change is as mythical as unicorns, sat glumly as he directed a message to them: “We don’t deny science in Washington; we embrace it. We do not follow technological innovation; we lead it. And we will not pass up a golden opportunity to create jobs.”

… So much of the time, politics is dismal and disheartening, but, on Wednesday, I was reminded that elections matter. That is how we raise up good men and women like Jay Inslee who consider “daring greatly” to be their life’s mission.

78 Responses to Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

  1. Will Fox says:

    Solar cell with the potential to break the 50 percent conversion efficiency barrier:

    Longest ever turbine blades could boost wind power:

  2. Robert Callaghan says:

    Troll Seeks Critics:

    What Trolls Think: Life Under the Bridge

    Knowing Just Enough To Be Dangerous. Troll life is very boring, the bridge’s shelter mostly obscures your view on life. Trolls don’t get out much, we don’t have books ‘n stuff so we just make things up as we go along. It’s an old Newfoundland tradition the more things you can make up, the more entertaining you were over the long dark winters. My father was Irish born St. Patrick’s Day.

    There is a thing called a carbon sink. In that sink is the earth and all its people floating in the water. Overhead is a tap of fresh running water that fills up the sink giving us the resources we need to make money turning CO2 from solid to gas. The earth’s oceans and trees are the carbon sinks that eat up almost half of the CO2 we put in the air. Insects, droughts, floods, fires, deserts storms heat waves cold waves, burning fields, tundras along with ocean acidification and stratification are all reducing C02 uptake by the trees and oceans while we are adding 2 billion more CO2 users in some twenty years.

    Living in Canada has always taught me that nature surrounds us, now the opposite will shortly be true. When humans impact 50% of the land on earth the ecological web of life strains to the breaking point where it irreversibly and unstoppably disintegrates ending all life as we know it.

    This is called a mass extinction event, like when the dinosaurs got got by a huge meteor from space. We are currently killing off species at 1,000 times the normal historical rate, some say 200 species per day. The oceans are turning into warm acidic locked layers killing off food supplies messing up their ecological timing movement and location. Ocean acidification caused 4 of the last 5 mass extinction events. The oceans are turning into acid 10 times faster than in 300 million years ago during the biggest mass extinction event in history.

    It gets more fun. Geophysical Research Letters published an article with 2 corroborating data studies confirming that the magnetic poles flipped 200,000 years ago in as few as a four years.

    The processed GM food laced with nano-particles that we eat irritate the artery walls of your heart. It is irritated artery walls that allow cholesterol to build up — not healthy ones. This is explains why the French eat so much buttery foods and live long lives. What do we do?, We take anti-cholesterol drugs. For the first time we are going to allow GM meat into our diets. We carry so many chemicals in our bodies they affect our brains until we can barely function ( Google: cholesterol hoax ).

    We do all this for money. We change carbon from solid to gas into money slavery with debt. We think we are the smartest monkeys in the woods for doing this. The oil, train, bank and arms barons of 1913 spent 100 years destroying earth to create a financial weapon that could destroy the earth leaving a planet that is entering a super exponential ecological state shift that is irreversibly unstoppable ( Google: planetary state shift Nature magazine)

    The sunspot cycle is at lower highs, with larger yet fewer events. Historically there have been two week long northern light events, once in the 1920s and once in the early 1800s. If we had a week long super solar flare event today it would knock out and fry all our power grids and satellite systems. We could harden the transformers for a couple billion bucks, but we’re too cheap and unafraid. But not unafraid enough to imagine the riotous anarchy and mayhem if youth lost their smartphone powers.

    Magnetic pole strength is steadily weakening, in a state of flux and could well flip, meaning we will have to build underground and develop plant science before much of our technology stops working due to radiation during magnetic field flux. We will probably heat, light and eat via plant science. This is because the earth will likely be entering a state where we have roving, shifting multiple poles lasting up to 10 years in any one area allowing the solar radiation to slam the earth’s animals and plants. Even right now, in the South Atlantic, just east off the coast of Brazil, there a growing area of weakening magnetic field strength that is so bad satellites have to be shut down when they pass through ita. Thanks to Fukushima, we at least have a start at radiation proof technology. Living on a hostile earth is our new moon shot. This has to be done, like it or not, and we have to figure out how to do this.

    Most of what I said will stew and boil over at the same time in about twenty years. We are on track to almost double emissions in 20-30 years while trees and fields flood and burn with the very ecology of the oceans breaking bad. The stuff Canada wants to burn now will cause run away super heating of earth and oceans with only small pockets of life surviving. Oxygen levels are reported as low as 15% in some cities, 21% is normal. Oxygen levels are down from some 30% when the earth last had 2-foot dragonflies.

    Dr. James Hansen recommends a privately owned electronic public dividend of C02 taxes at source. You would get paid to not buy gas. Young people like this more than old people because they take their infrastructure as a given. Young people love phones, old people love cars. Battery experts say that electric cars cannot run on current battery technology. Yet, electric scooters are everywhere in urban centers. I would recommend implementation of Dr. Hansen s idea with a new world e-currency and banking system that deposits all credits to you. accessible by phone and bank cards. This may require a new open democratic world internet network.

    With everybody in the whole world working together to reduce C02 we will finally reduce inequality, facing the most common dream of all, survival.

  3. rollin says:

    That is an amazing cartoon, so thought provoking. I am afraid that our intrepid hero is wasting time trying to effect the stone heads, they will just lay there after being toppled, no change in their petrified minds.

    What this image does scream, to me at least, is the view of what is not there – a vibrant community of native people living the life of an island paradise. What else is not there are trees and large plants, the life that goes along with them. A decimated countryside due to improper actions and beliefs, sort of like what is happening across the world now but that is much worse.

    Is this a preview of what much of the world will look like soon? Remember the lessons Scrooge learned, there may be time to change your ways. Keep your mind and spirit stirred up, lest it petrify.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Inslee could be the great leader that we so desperately need, and I hope he runs for president in 2016. The first order of business will have to be standing up to the fossil fuel companies, and preparing for the wealth destruction (mostly held by the rich) that is inevitable anyway. He would be subject to vicious attacks, but so were Lincoln and Roosevelt.

  5. Spike says:

    Amazonia featured in PNAS – droughts in 2005 and 2010 having serious impacts. “The result suggests that the occurrence of droughts in Amazonia at 5–10 y frequency may lead to persistent alteration of the forest canopy.”

  6. Exciting news! I hope to hear more from Gov. Inslee…

  7. I watched another of those MSNBC promos this week in which Chris Matthews lists all of the big items for Obama’s 2nd term: guns, immigration, jobs, etc. No mention of either energy or climate.

    With even the so called progressive media ignoring the issue, it is no wonder that the mainstream media does too. I might expect more from Chris Hayes. In fact, he has spent more time on climate than most, but I would need to Up at 5:00 AM to to Up with Chris Hayes. Another reason that east coast thinking dominates coverage and we hear about Cuomo’s legislation there, but not Inslee’s. If either governor is thinking of a 2016 presidential race, I would pick Inslee. But then, I voted for Jill Stein this time.

  8. Leif says:

    I am proud to be from Washington. Progressive state incentives and a 2.25kW solar array covers all my home and modest car fuel bills each year. ALL with a bit of change left on the table. Even supply a few kW to the neighbors. I have lots of property available for a larger array but the electric utilities limit me from producing more.

  9. Superman1 says:

    PART 1 OF 6
    Your excellent observations reflect one component of a much larger problem. Now, in order to solve a problem, one first has to identify/admit the problem, then be motivated to solve the problem, then take action to solve the problem. Probably the majority admit there’s a climate change problem (although I will argue they vastly underestimate the seriousness of the problem), but there’s enough of a minority of deniers to prevent any governmental action. However, even of the group that admits the problem, only a small fraction are motivated to take serious steps to solve the problem. So, in terms of action toward solving climate change, we see essentially nothing.

  10. Superman1 says:

    PART 2 OF 6
    I want to focus on admitting the seriousness of the problem. There are two aspects of increasing temperature relative to climate change. First, as Hansen showed, the frequency and magnitude of what were once considered ‘extreme’ events increases substantially. Second, there is the real danger that, as temperature increases, the probability of initiating new positive feedback mechanisms and accelerating existing positive feedback mechanisms increases, potentially leading to ‘runaway’ temperatures and a much hotter equilibrium.

  11. Superman1 says:

    PART 3 OF 6
    So, one metric for gauging the seriousness of the problem is the relationship of mean temperature increase to the temperature that gives high probability of triggering runaway. What is that critical temperature? Decades ago, 3-4 C was viewed as an allowable temperature before runaway could be triggered. About two decades ago, international agreements were made for limiting temperature increase to 2 C. While there was limited scientific evidence for choosing this number, it was selected mainly on the basis of what could get agreement. Kevin Anderson recently concluded that, based on the latest science, 2 C provided an entre to the Extremely Dangerous regime, and perhaps 1 C was a better target.

  12. Superman1 says:

    PART 4 OF 6
    I would argue even 1 C may be very dangerous. Look at what is happening with 0.8 C today. The Arctic ice cap will probably go in the Summer in the very near future. At that point, there will be solar insolation 24/7 heating the ocean. Will that trigger the release of vast amounts of methane? Some people believe it will. There are other positive feedbacks that have been triggered, like the thawing of the Permafrost and release of methane to the atmosphere, and it appears to be accelerating. So, we don’t need to go back thousands or millions of years ago to realize we have initiated, at 0.8 C, an extremely dangerous process that threatens to engulf civilization.

  13. Superman1 says:

    PART 5 OF 6
    I would argue that a temperature increase of about 0.5 C would be a much better target, and even there we have little if any margin for error. When one designs a pressure vessel, for example, one uses safety factors of three or four for allowable pressure loadings. This guards against uncertainty in material properties and unexpected perturbations. Shouldn’t we have similar safety factors to protect the existence of civilization beyond this century?

  14. Superman1 says:

    PART 6 OF 6
    Now comes the link to policy and action. If one believes, as I do, that we have no margin left for error, and are well past the safety factor limit, then what should our policy be to limit potential danger? We have to take whatever steps are required to start reducing the temperature now and reducing the amount of GHG, especially CO2, in the atmosphere now. This is why the last few days I have called for an immediate cessation of fossil fuel use, an immediate start of non- or minimal fossil fuel-based CO2 extraction techniques, and immediate employment of relatively minimal-risk geo-engineering approaches to reduce temperature for an interim period. I believe any delay in instituting fossil fuel elimination, including fossil fuel expenditures for transition to renewables, increases the probability of triggering uncontrollable runaway temperatures that could lead to the end of our civilization. Any proposal I have seen for transitioning to renewables does not address this interim temperature increase effect, and the attendant possibility of triggering runaway. Presently, all these discussions have little relevance to reality. We are proceeding to extract and burn fossil fuels as though they are unlimited, with no plans on the horizon to do otherwise. Burning fossil fuels when we are already beyond the danger point defies logic.

  15. GrumpyDave says:

    While I think Rob McKenna would have been a better governor for our state overall, I applaud Inslee for his insight on environmental issues. Hopefully he will not be a single focus governor – we have many other important issues that need to be addressed, as well as climate change.

  16. Much that you say is true, i.e. validated by good climate science.

    It also seems to defy logic to advocated for action that would inevitably cause mass disruption and deprivation for billions of people, on a planet where most already live in urban areas, and even many people in rural areas are dependent of the existing industrial infrastructure for basic sustenance and safety.

    Does one mass disruption excuse another? I think our goal has to be to avoid or minimize such disaster.

    Practical roadmap to turn the tide on climate change by 2020

    Climate Change: All in the Timing

    What do you think about advocating for the maximum non-disastrous course of climate mitigation, rather than the maximum course as such?

  17. Wes says:

    I don’t know who Superman1 is, so I don’t know what is behind the temperature relationships that he states, but the conclusions appear to show that with what’s in the pipeline now we are beyond the tipping point for runaway. That would be very bad news, to say the least.

    The worst part is that even if we’re not past the tipping point, the lack of any significant action or promise of significant action eventually leads to the same conclusion.

  18. prokaryotes says:

    Exactly. One has just go outside, walk past the busy traffic or travel a bit and watch at other individuals to see that climate change is a non issue. For the general public consumer the rule is “Out of sight = out of mind”. People live in a bubble where nature, the environment has no place, but this bubble is destined to burst abruptly. Everywhere on the planet we accelerate CO2 emissions, every day running fuel based personal transport systems.

    And the media (driven by people living in a bubble) is ignoring climate change largely. Actively preventing behavior change. Ofc everything fuel/gas gets the full coverage, no matter how irrelevant or dangerous for the habitable state. Alway ignoring the risk we take when burning fossil material.

  19. ozajh says:

    50% is just astonishing. That’s approaching the HIGHEST fossil fuel engine efficiency (and is far, far better than the average car engine).

    I know everybody is focused on reducing cost/Watt at the moment, but in the long term this has to be the way forward.

  20. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Wes – regarding a ‘tipping point’ – it would help to have a clear definition, as well as a clear explanation of its implications.

    The best definition I’ve seen was in Dr John Gribben’s 1990 book ‘Hothouse Earth’, that covered nearly all the present warming phenomena. He pointed out that when feedbacks’ CO2e outputs exceed the annual intake of the natural carbon sinks (which averages 43% of anthro-CO2 outputs) then our emmissions controls can no longer prevent the increase of airborne CO2, because the next tonne of feedback CO2e goes, inevitably, to the atmosphere.

    The warming caused by that tonne generates further feedback outputs, and thus the so-called ‘runaway’ warming. – (Self-fuelling warming seems a far more descriptive term to me).

    The ‘tipping point’ thus occurs when feedback CO2e outputs exceed 43% of annual anthro emissions. However, this observation is somewhat moot given that we have long been committed to passing that point by the progress of multiple mega-feedbacks.
    Consider: water vapour began rising by 1900, albedo loss by 1955, microbial peat-bog decay by ’62, permafrost melt by ’75, forest combustion by ’82, soils desiccation by ’95, and clathrates’ collapse arguably by 2010. These are all observed to be accelerating under just 0.8C of warming and would, predictably, accelerate further with both additional anthro-warming and the warming they themselves generate.

    To put their present status in context, in 2010 the albedo loss feedback was reported (in GL) to be imposing a warming equivalent to about 30% of anthro-CO2 emissions. With the outputs of the other six interactive mega-feedbacks it is reasonable to assume that in total they are near or past the 43% threshold. Given the ~30yr pipeline of timelagged warming further accelerating the feedbacks, it is clear that passing that threshold is inevitable under present reliance on mitigation solely by emissions control.

    The central implication of this assessment is that, alongside Emissions Control and a global program of gradual Carbon Recovery, we have no choice but to research and deploy the best means of Albedo Restoration we can devise, with the objectives of:
    – halting the mega-feedbacks’ acceleration and then decelerating them,
    – offsetting the foreseeable loss of the coal-fired cooling ‘Sulphate Parasol’,
    – and restoring a global temperature allowing reliable agricultural yields.

    An obsessive focus on halting anthro-emissions is destuctive of this requisite tripod strategy. Not only is it utterly discouraging of recruitment to the cause of political action on climate – the eco-fascism it espouses serves the denialists perfectly – it also aims to crash the global economy which of course would terminate the prospect of both the necessary global co-operation and the massive innovative investment in RD&D that the strategy requires. That obsession with a disproportionate rate of emissions control is in my view an immature response to the predicament – in the sense that it reflects a lack of study of the issue’s dynamics.

    It is also of course utterly self-indulgent wishful thinking, in that there is simply no prospect of the nations adopting an absurd target of 100% cut by 2017. Claiming that all is lost if they fail to do so is just a somewhat veiled propaganda of defeatism – which is again utterly unhelpful and again serves the denialists neatly.

    The peril faced by our global society is eminently soluble, but it demands cool heads and clear thinking to identify the priorities – most particularly in my view, that of the US government prioretizing mutual climatic security above aspirations to maintaining fading nationalist supremacy.



  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    To speak of ‘progressive’ media is, I believe, quite silly in neo-liberal capitalist states. In Australia the MSM is entirely Rightwing. The Murdoch obscenity is no longer in any manner a ‘news’ operation but is exactly like Fox News- a strident, hectoring, incredibly boring, propaganda apparatus, pushing hard Right ideology. And they have a tasteful talent for hate and fearmongering, and relentless character assassination of those they do not like or who resist them.
    The other main group, Fairfax, is under threat of takeover by the hard, hard, hard Right mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, the close friend of Baron Monckhausen. She and her coterie are hardcore denialists. Perhaps as a result, Fairfax has been publishing more and more denialist claptrap, including a monumental piece of Dunning-Krugerite slop from one of its cartoonists, a noted climate expert. And the Government run ABC, ever under threat of privatisation, was ideologically purged under John Howard, and these days apes Murdoch’s sewer, and employs not a few of his apparatchiki. This, of course, does not stop some of the more nostalgic and hysterical Rightwing opinion thugs endlessly caterwauling about the ABC’s ‘Leftwing’ bias, which is quite deeply amusing, in a nauseating way.
    The ‘Free Press’ in the West has always been a propaganda system working for the interests of the elite. They used to allow a little diversity of opinion, for cosmetic purposes, but that disappeared long ago. The moribund neo-liberal capitalist system sees no need to tolerate ‘Thought Crime’ any more, and the Internet is the last redoubt of diversity, and, not to mince words, truth.

  22. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Given that solar influx is effectively unlimited, and both unused roof and unproductive land areas are vast, the efficiency of solar energy conversion seems a secondary concern. The capital cost per watt of a panel’s rated output is surely the primary concern for their mass deployment ?

    Which begs the question of how the cost of a ‘potentially 50% efficient’ panel compares with less advanced models ?



  23. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Granted some uncertainties about how the GHG effects will ripple through the system and how the Earth would react to a sudden reduction in emissions, both the problem and solution are known. What is not well understood is why the people of the world have not collectively risen to solve the physical problem.

    Diagnosis: Most of the industrialized West has thoroughly pacified their people by encapsulating them in top down structures that remove their rights of decision making (apart from once every 3 or 4 years politically and never at work). They are no different in kind from dictatorships. This denial of human purposefulness results in dependency (waiting for the leaders to lead)or fight/flight which shows itself in various ways, notably at the moment a rash of maladaptions which many here interpret as addictions, e.g. shopping or binge drinking. They are merely the last gaspes of the human spirit.

    Solution: These top down structures can be redesigned to those where responsibility is located with the people doing the work, the learning or the planning but it seems too late now for a full scale redesign. The only other alternative is for people to spontaneously come together as responsible equals in their communities to reassume control over their own affairs, as they do after disasters. Lets hope it is still possible, ME

  24. Paul Klinkman says:

    Where we should go:

    Numbers of us want two things: First, many of us want an honest shot at good local jobs so that we can work for local goods, made by other people in the same situation. Homes that have solar heat and local vegetables would be good products to start. If you don’t want food in the kitchen and a warm and comfy bed, raise your hand. Except for the wiseacre vote it appears unanimous.

    Second, some of us are called to act on our climate morals. If the real cost of oil is a megafire burning out our house, no more seafood and a flooded out subway system, then burning petroleum today is unconscionable. Numbers of people are going to say, “I personally can’t burn this heating oil! I’m going to shut the heat off in my house at night, I’m going to let the faucet drip so that the pipes don’t freeze and I’m going to crawl under an electric blanket for eight hours. Wow is this cold!”

    Organized egalitarian groups have power. Groups have rights and privileges that unorganized individuals don’t have. Let’s name any remaining problems that keep people from organizing so that they have local jobs with local products that fit their climate morals.

    The big issue is that, if a bunch of little people were to form a company, someone big will come along and drive them out of business. If we produced solar home heat cheaper than Exxon, Exxon would turn around and provide solar cheaper than us. Then when we were driven out of the market at a loss, Exxon would close up shop and stow its solar operations in the safe. If we were Bailey Building and Loan in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, old man Potter would wait for the crash, then call in the loans to cause us to collapse and buy us out at 50 cents on the dollar. American business isn’t fair.

    Obviously we would need reasonably sound business leadership. Picking winning solar equipment counts. Luck would help too. However, for really good solar we need something else. We need competitive, innovative solar products. If our goal is to drive all of the fossils out of business so that all fossil fuels stay in the ground worldwide and forever, we need solar innovation in any case.

    One century ago, the horseless carriage drivers in a state would band together to form an auto club. Our American Automobile Association is the descendent of those auto clubs. Perhaps we need a consumers’ solar club as an alternative to a normal (sellout) business. Just as the AAA certifies the honesty of emergency tow truck operators and negotiates reasonable rates from an auto insurance company, so a solar club could certify solar installers and negotiate fair rates for its members’ benefit. In addition, the solar club would lobby for its membership. Ultimately, solar consumers are driving the solar market because they’re the ones with consciences that won’t let them buy fossil fuels.

    The Amish believe in separating themselves from a mad society. Unfortunately, an Amish approach won’t actually solve climate change as long as 7 billion other people are burning fossil fuels. As part of a truly conscientious climate change morality, the solar club should charge itself with innovating its products.

    Option one is the “Muscular Dystrophy” nonprofit model of research and innovation, where telethons raise millions for well-paid doctors to do studies. I remember reading that one year, the Muscular Dystrophy foundation raised $21 million, but spent $18 million of that in fundraising efforts.

    I don’t prefer that option. Yes, people should donate to inhibit and reverse climate change, but I’d rather see a kind of donation where ordinary people put their money on a basket of solar products, and if any solar product works and returns money (no guarantee) they get their money back with interest. The goal is still to change the world, but ordinary people can make more of a difference. In terms of tax writeoffs, the difference between a capital loss and a donation is often miniscule.

  25. Paul Klinkman says:

    We can break 50% conversion now with heat-based solar, and we can store heat in insulated rock beds for nighttime and cloudy day electric generation.

  26. rollin says:

    Superman1, the earth is already being geo-engineered through pollution, reducing sunlight from 10 to 20% depending on where you are. There is at least 1 deg C rise pre-loaded to occur when the pollution reduces. Also there is a thirty year time lag in the warming caused by green-house gases so that would also come into play.
    Purposeful geo-engineering would most likely result in war since reductions of sunlight effect the formation of monsoons and the lifeline of many countries agriculture.

    Better to steadily back off from production of green house gases and employ changes in agricultural land use to provide a large scale natural sequestration of CO2.

  27. Raul M. says:

    It is hard at times to come to terms with the conclusion that I should employ smarter ways that are in line with the truth, well, because the truth of how nature works is a constant truth. Started buying solar panels one at a time years ago cause I wanted too. Switched to an electric bicycle because I wanted too. Still I was out of line with the truths of nature but not so bad as I had been. Sorry< I gave up on being one of the chosen saved ones years ago, and I have learned the sin of fossil fuel use by studying the ill effects of climate change. It is still socially acceptable even to exhibit some types of bad behavior in the US. One day it won't but probably that will happen cause we and they aren't.

  28. Vic says:


    Officials in Japan have announced plans for the worlds biggest wind farm, to be built ten miles off the coast of Fukushima.

    Rated at 1 GW, the 143 turbine wind farm is expected to be online by 2020 and will link into the electicity transmission infrastructure formerly connected to the ill fated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

  29. Paul Klinkman says:

    One possible ulterior motive of the Japanese government is to show the Japanese public how safe the area around Fukushima looks. However, I wouldn’t want to be the workers connecting the new wires to Fukushima’s existing infrastructure onshore.

  30. David B. Benson says:

    No radiation hazard in doing so. I’ll admit working that far off the ground might be a bit frightening; just don’t look down.

  31. Well and bravely put, Lewis, thanks!

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Whatever the price is now, it will come down rapidly once the Chinese begin mass production. The cost of not proceeding with such developments is very much greater.

  33. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I agree in particular with your concluding remarks, that by co-operating to face the multiple ecological crises we will also end inequality. Inequality is the driver of all our crises, ecological, economic and moral. The drive of a tiny, infinitely avaricious, elite to rip off the rest of humanity and the natural world is the cause of all our disasters. We are destroying the habitability of the planet for our species not in order to drag humanity out of poverty, but to feed the greed of a few who see themselves as separate, apart and superior to the rabble. They must be defeated, and we must ensure that no other global Mafia of greed and misanthropy takes their place. Only then will humanity survive, or, indeed, deserve to survive, and we can focus on ‘soul-building’ and reaching the full potential of our beings, individually, collectively and through time.

  34. Vic says:

    ” working that far off the ground might be a bit frightening; just don’t look down.”

    That’s just fine as long as the safety harness you’re wearing is designed to support your own weight. Because if it wasn’t, you might get something like what we saw in old Fukushima, where TEPCO ignored multiple warnings that their tsunami protection measures were inadequate and yet crawled right out onto that turbine with gusto, defective safety harness securely attached.

  35. Will Fox says:

    Indeed, there’s now overwhelming evidence that inequality is a major cause of society’s problems. This is true across a whole range of issues – from crime levels to educational performance, health, life expectancy, mental illness, drug and alcohol use, teenage pregnancy rates, etc. etc.

    See for example the graphs here –

    The correlations are clear, and undeniable: in rich countries, a more equal distribution of wealth results in a happier, healthier, more productive society.

  36. Will Fox says:

    Some good news, for a change. 140 nations have agreed on a global, legally-binding treaty to prevent emissions and releases of Mercury –

    See also my timeline entry for 2020:

  37. Artful Dodger says:

    Let’s wait and see where he comes down on the proposed Washington St. coal terminals. No indication yet that he’s willing to stop them based on climate concerns.

  38. Artful Dodger says:

    David, you have continually downplayed the real dangers throughout the Fukushima crisis. What if one of the containment pools cracks and spills it’s load of MOX fuel into the ocean. How much plutonium would you like to gargle with?

    Give it up, already. This nuclear disaster will be a threat near this site for decades to come, and that’s before cleanup even begins. How’s that concrete sarcophagus coming along? You know, the one you said they didn’t need. Good grief.

  39. Artful Dodger says:

    Vic, the threat isn’t falling wind workers. It’s falling cooling ponds full of MOX fuel (mixed oxide contains uranium and plutonium). Ingesting just a few micrograms of PU will kill you. Do you trust the Japanese Government to report a spill promptly?

  40. Matt Owens says:

    If you are familiar with weather, growing seasons, and plant evapotranspiration, you can see from local temperature projections, that continued emissions will clearly turn large portions (perhaps the majority) of the US into desert, scrub-land, or otherwise agriculturally worthless land. 4 US cities temps by 2100 here:

  41. Superman1 says:

    PART 1 OF 2
    “The peril faced by our global society is eminently soluble”

    On what evidence do you base this statement? Where are your climate models that include the positive feedback mechanisms you correctly identify, which would allow you to conclude that we can avoid catastrophe with whatever mitigation scheme we choose? A post in RC by sidd this morning, relative to a recent paper by Alexeev et al, emphasizes ‘Atlantic water has enough heat to melt all the ice several times over. And at 900Km^3/yr sea ice minimum is zero in 3-4 years…’ How would your Albedo Restoration impact that? How would you geoengineer around that?

  42. Superman1 says:

    PART 2 OF 2
    I have perhaps advanced the hardest line you mention. Do you think I’m happy with it, or I don’t realize the consequences? I’d be one of the first thrown under the bus; I live in a community that is completely car-dependent, with no stores in walking distance. But, we’re far enough into the danger zone, as you have pointed out with temperature commitment, that our choice may very well be tens of millions lost in the near term vs billions saved in the long-term. Of course, under the present plans, these discussions are completely moot. We’re going all out on fossil fuels as far as the eye can see.

  43. Superman1 says:

    ” What do you think about advocating for the maximum non-disastrous course of climate mitigation, rather than the maximum course as such?”

    No problem, if you can provide evidence that it is in fact non-disastrous. That would require, at a minimum, climate models that include the positive feedback mechanisms we have identified already, so that we could insure that any mitigation or renewables transition schemes do not result in violating interim temperature constraints that might lead to runaway. Unfortunately, such models do not exist, at least in the unclassified literature, so how could one prove a proposed scheme was non-disastrous? Additionally, as Alexeev and others have shown, there is sufficient warm Atlantic water entering the Arctic to melt the ice. This means we really need coupled atmospheric-ocean models that incorporate the feedbacks to understand potential damage. And, since the warm Atlantic water and the increasing Summer solar insolation will further stress the clathrates, we really need atmospheric-ocean-geological coupled models to fully understand the danger. Any fossil fuel combustion only exacerbates perhaps an insoluble problem. Tell me what I’m missing here.

  44. Superman1 says:

    “The worst part is that even if we’re not past the tipping point, the lack of any significant action or promise of significant action eventually leads to the same conclusion.”

    That’s the key. Without the full models, it’s difficult to be definitive. But, we can see with our own eyes an extremely dangerous situation developing in the Arctic. Not only will we have solar insolation 24/7 in the Summer in the Arctic in the near future, but as recent papers are showing, there is enough warm water from the Atlantic entering the Arctic to melt the ice and put further stress on the clathrates. But, I think these arguments are all moot. We have pulled out all the stops in extracting and using fossil fuel for as far as the eye can see. So, if we haven’t passed the tipping point yet, it’s coming soon.

  45. Superman1 says:


    In 1961, I worked on a solar power supply for a Space vehicle that consisted of a solar concentrator and a Rankine Cycle converter. We achieved very high efficiencies. I note they are now demonstrating such a facility in Spain. We had this technology ready to go fifty years ago; no fancy PV cells required. We could have eliminated this present climate mess completely. Because of this delay, our survival as a civilization is on the line and, as you can gather from my posts, I’m not optimistic.

  46. Superman1 says:

    “both the problem and solution are known.”

    Are they, especially the solution; based on what evidence? See my related comments in #7 and 10, above.

  47. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The problem began simply enough with rising GHG levels at the beginning of the industrial revolution but as a system, the Earth has responded systemically. For solutions, I suggest you read Lewis C’s note under 10. It fits with much evidence I have been reading elsewhere. I have added to that the missing piece of the puzzle which is human motivation. Our dilemma has become as much a social science one as a physical, ME

  48. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Of course inequality is a scourge. The most challenged moral imbecile knows that injustice, envy, rancour, class hatred and exploitation all derive from it. Which is precisely why it is no surprise that recently there have been a number of ‘opinion’ pieces in Murdoch rags that have argued that inequality is no problem, whatsoever. The ‘arguments’ were the usual melange of lies, false assertions, sophistry and banal casuistry one confidently expects from Rightwing propagandists. The other local MSM group, Fairfax, which is marching resolutely further to the Right, has had similar dross in its pages. Undoubtedly there are elements in the ruling class who must be getting worried about the inexorable rise in inequality and the concomitant poverty, misery and want in Western societies. The current economic implosion, the staggering social retrenchment of austerity, liquidating whole societies in order to pay the financial parasites and the unbridled arrogance of the elites with their luxury consumption and larcenous pay and bonuses must sometime provoke an outburst. So, on one hand, the rulers spend billions on surveillance, paramilitary police, drones, prisons etc, pass punitive ‘anti-terrorist’ laws fit to bang up any enemies of privilege, and on the other they relentlessly brainwash the plebs to divert their anger onto scapegoats like the poor, welfare recipients, refugees, unionists, Moslems and, of course, environmentalists. The denizens of the MSM apparatus being, in my opinion, some of the most scabrous specimens of the genus Homo extant, these hate and lie campaigns can only grow more intense, as the economy implodes and ecological crises come one after another.

  49. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Tens of trillions hidden in off-shore tax shelters. Enough money to end inequality and solve all our ecological problems.

  50. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Japanese Government led now by a man, Abe, who denies that Japan was an aggressor in WW2, that the Nanjing Massacre even happened and who asserts that the ‘comfort women’ forced to sexually service Japanese troops were volunteers? In alliance with the infamous TEPCO!

  51. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Look out Canada!

  52. Superman1 says:

    I’ve read Lewis’ note. He proposes a combination of emissions control, carbon recovery, and albedo restoration. His emissions control is far more gradual than mine would be. To propose continual use of fossil fuels, albeit at a low level, in concert with albedo restoration that would require additional fossil fuel expenditures is analogous to allowing a Stage 3 lung cancer patient to continue smoking while recommending radical chemotherapy. I don’t buy it. In addition, as Alexeev’s recent paper showed, we have enough warm Atlantic water coming into the Arctic to melt a substantial amount of ice. How will albedo restoration address this lateral transport of warm water into the Arctic, to not only help melt the ice, but to place added thermal stress on the methane clathrates? I don’t see a solution here, and I’m not sure I see a solution anywhere, even if we could solve the massive roadblock you mention, social science.

  53. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Will and Mulga, redistributing wealth alone won’t solve the inequality as it is the result of the design principle that confers unequal status right up the line. Change that one first for lasting results, ME

  54. Yeah. The Canadians can send us their dirty oil, and in a couple of decades well send them 100 million climate immigrants.

  55. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I agree the situation looks dire but I don’t agree that we should reject every possible action that could ameliorate it. We should be weaning our populations off FFs by the most rapid building and deployment of solar and wind, do whatever we can at the poles, and most importantly, release the motivation and creativity of all our people by returning their rights of cooperative decision making. How do you know there is no solution if you have not even tried? ME

  56. catman306 says:

    This rare GEM can model our world

    Computer modelling of the world’s ecosystems could help predict climate change

    Scientists in Cambridge are developing the first general-purpose computer model of the biosphere, which will allow researchers and policy makers to simulate any system of living organisms on Earth, big or small. A general ecosystem model, or GEM, is the biological counterpart of global climate models, which capture the physics and chemistry of land, oceans and atmosphere – and have been crucial for making predictions about climate change.

  57. David B. Benson says:

    That comment is so confused I don’t know where to begin. First of all, those Gen II reactors did not use MOX nuclear materials. Secondly, there was some concern about the cooling pond at #3; it has been bolstered.
    Thirdly, the containments being placed over #1, #2 and #3 are not of the ‘concrete sarcophagus’ type. Fourthly, cleanup has already begun.

    In the meantime, actual health hazards, such as mercury emissions from coal burners and so on are being ignored. By you.

  58. David B. Benson says:

    My thoughtful and factual reply has been sequestered for the interim. One wonders if it will ever be un-redacted.

  59. David B. Benson says:

    Ingested plutonium almost entirely just passes through. Someone has seriously misinformed you, I fear.

  60. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    This project sounds as if it might well help to demonstrate the limitations of reductionist science. Given that the GCMs utterly fail to model the acceleration of the ongoing interactive feedbacks, embarking on a GEM in hopes of improving climate prediction sounds like rank hubris.

    How exactly can the modellers intend to represent the quality of sentience of plants, let alone the consciousness of animals, whose interactions must plainly have a seminal effect on ecosystems’ response to stimuli ?

    How does one model the playfulness of say otters – who will spend hours on an ice-slide into a pool – or ravens, whose idea of courtship seems to be playing the fool beside she who must be wooed ? We had one who delighted in flying upside down alongside his lady while making a perfect imitation of a 1980’s trimphone – the valley rang with it for fortnight.

    Or, as is the case with much materialist biology, is consciousness to be written out of the model, thus reducing it to a misleading construct of anthropocentric prejudice ?

    It seems that the promoters of the GEM have yet to appreciate the ecological tenet that, owing to the Lorenzian “Sensitivity to initial conditions”, organic systems generate patterns of phenomena which can be recognized but cannot be predicted beyond a very limited number of iterations.



  61. David B. Benson says:

    Thanks for the prompt release.

  62. Joe and others, did you read the latest BP Energy Outlook for 2030?!

    They say the “most likely” path for humanity is for a 28% increase in fossil fuel burning by 2030. The only downside is that CO2 emissions also rise by 26%. Oops.

    More shocking to me is that they say their model follows the IEA “new policies” scenario but ends up with far more CO2. The IEA model yields 3.5C of warming under “new policies”. BP model yields lots more CO2 and probably means more like 5C from “new policies”.

    BP: “Our policy assumptions are closest to those in the IEA’s “New Policies Scenario” (NPS), which assesses demand prospects on the assumption that announced national policy objectives are implemented. Yet our outcomes are closest to the IEA’s “Current Policies Scenario” and the EIA’s reference case, both of which assume no change in policy settings.”

    You would think a report saying we are heading for something like 5 C disaster even under “new policies” would at least have some words of caution or analysis. But not in the bizarro-mode that takes over when these facts come out these days. Instead there is a single bullet point in the conclusion: “Energy security and climate change remain challenges”. You think?

    If you have a head vice i suggest putting it on before watching their “infographic animation” at . Just check out the ending where they talk about CO2. I now know that climate catastrophe is so much more pleasant with a good catchy jingle and floaty CO2 graphics.

  63. Jay Alt says:

    David, always begin at the beginning. When those reactors were built, MOX fuel wasn’t part of the design consideration. However, that didn’t prevent Tokyo Electric from putting the stuff into the reactors later on. As many news reports have mentioned.

  64. Superman1 says:

    Inhaling it does you in.

  65. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Well said Lewis! The longer I contemplate these matters, the more clearly I can see that mechanism and reductionism reflect the utter lack of love and respect for life that got us into this mess in the first place, ME

  66. prokaryotes says:

    7.4 to 7.8 earthquake is likely within 100 miles of the Los Angeles Airport during the next 30 hours

  67. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ME, I must disagree. Take the money, because it is the right thing to do, first, then use it for ecological repair, ending poverty and want, and for financing the establishment of new, egalitarian, forms of social organisation. If we leave the parasites money power untouched, they will thwart any social restructuring, as they have done since time immemorial.

  68. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Please, demonstrate its safety, personally.

  69. prokaryotes says:

    The 16th Century Religious Wars And Today’s Copyright Monopoly Wars Have More In Common Than You Think

    People in power have always tried to prevent the common folk from obtaining knowledge that threatens their power. This happened in the 16th century, and it is happening now.

  70. prokaryotes says:

    Japan TV host diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia — Had been eating Fukushima produce on show

  71. prokaryotes says:

    Radioactive waste dumped into rivers during decontamination work in Fukushima

  72. prokaryotes says:

    If you require file storage the best deal (for free) 50 GB! can be found here http//

  73. wili says:

    So to clarify–we should depend on massive deployment of two mega-schemes that are not yet devised or tested, particularly at anything like the levels we need to be talking about?

    Meanwhile we should downplay the one strategy that we know will have a direct impact on the situation?

    (And furthermore, anyone who disagrees with this plan is automatically a fascist??!!)

    Please clarify whether I have stated your positions accurately.

    Thanks, by the way, for the run down of a few of the major feedbacks. It is something of a hobby of mine to collect info on these, so if you have links on them, especially on the timing you posit, I would be most grateful.


  74. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Mulga, if you could use the money to create and sustain participative democratic organizations, I would agree in a flash. Having done it, I know what is involved and it takes more than money. In fact money hardly even comes into it. Make me a dictator and I’ll do it for you, ME

  75. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    first, my critique of was of eco-fascism and specifically did not label anyone as a fascist – not even those agressively urging the fantasy of a imposing a global dictatorship that crash-terminates fossil fuel usage, leaving untold millions to die as an ‘acceptable collateral damage’ result, under the delusion that this would somehow resolve the problem as well as somehow avoiding generating additional worse ones.

    AFAIK that definitely ain’t you or most other people posting here on CP.

    Regarding the two mega-projects, I’m actually proposing three. The first is an unprecedented global co-operation in investing national soveriegnty over energy policy, to the extent that all nations accept a quota of tradable CO2e emissions rights, converging from present outputs to international per capita parity and contracting under a declining global GHG budget, over an agreed period. This framework, known as “Contraction & Convergence”, now forms the basis (de facto or de jure) of the negotiating stances of govts of more than half the global population, and was spoken of respectfully by the US govt in the final hours of Kyoto for its potential relevance to a future treaty involving all nations. The rational pace of its Emissions Control is governed by our capacity to maintain the essential global net decline of impoverishment, without which there is no global co-operation.

    The other two proposals are less radical in terms of investment of sovereignty (which every treaty entails to some extent). The second, Carbon Recovery, is plainly essential if we are to avoid terminal ocean acidification, since even with stringent Emissions Control anthro-warming continues until around 2080 (timelagged about 30 yrs after the 2050 target year) allowing most of 70 years of rising warming for the carbon feedbacks to take off. Once they swamp the carbon sinks CO2 ppm rises, accelerating acidification. Hence the current prospect of terminal ocean acidification.

    The third, Albedo Restoration, has not only been tried and tested by volcanoes’ sulphate outputs (from which Teller lifted the idea) but is also currently in use, inadvertently but knowingly, in the form of our continued maintenance of the cooling Sulphate Parasol by our coal-burning sulphur emissions. According to Hansen & Sato, ending our fossil fuel usage, and thus our sulphate emissions, will unveil an additional 110% of realized warming (+/-30%).

    Stratospheric sulphate aerosols are very far from the best option for Albedo Restoration. The best I’ve heard of so far is the ‘Cloud Brightening’ that Salter & Latham have worked on since the ’90s, that uses wind powered vessels to loft a mist of seawater to clouds at few thousand foot, where the miniscule sea salt particles have their effect. Beside introducing no exotic materials, this approach can be targetted on particular regions – such as the arctic, and since clouds rain out within about 9 days the effects are both contained and can be swiftly halted – unlike stratospheric options.

    There is of course much research required before there would be sufficient confidence for a collective UN decision on a major trial deployment. And for the reasons you recognize that decision would have to be collective. (Note the speed with which even the rightist Canadian govt disowned the recent iron filings cowboy).

    The reason I propose this trio of options is that there is now no serious prospect of avoiding terminal warming simply by stringent Emissions Control, and Carbon Recovery will take several decades to significantly affect CO2 ppm, followed by a 30yr timelag on the temperature effect. I.e., unlike Albedo Restoration, it’s far too slow to be of help in offsetting the loss of the sulphate parasol, in halting the interactive acceleration of the feedbacks, and in restoring a temperature allowing reliable agricultural outputs.

    If there are any other timely means of achieving the objectives outlined above than the tripod strategy I’ve proposed, I’d be interested to hear of them.



  76. wili says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply, LC.

    I don’t think anyone (here at least) is eager to see lots of people suffer or die; but it is pretty hard to see ways forward that are pain free at this point. I have been a big fan of C&C, but it is getting to be late in the day for accommodating any further increase of death-fuel use by anyone, however deserving.

    When you talk of carbon recovery, do you mean through purely biological means, through biochar, or something higher-tech?

    I’m all for the former, and I’m not against further research into the latter, but we can’t wait for high-tech solutions to be developed and rolled out, afaics.

    Of course, volcanoes and dirty power plants do interesting things to the climate, but not without some fairly serious consequences. Clouds are one of the elements hardest to model in climate simulations, so assuming we know enough to be sure what ultimate effect one influence on clouds may have seems like a bit of a stretch to me. But I haven’t researched this area a lot.

    I think that we can agree that it is quite late in the day, and we all have to rethink what level of intervention in human and natural systems is appropriate.

    It sounds like I prefer the former over the latter, while you prefer a greater emphasis on the latter.

    But intervention in natural systems is exactly what got us in this fix, so excuse me if I sound dubious when some form of extreme intervention in the natural world is proposed to solve the problems brought about by our former and current extreme intervention.

    As someone else put it here, much more succinctly, geo-engineering schemes are trying to cure problems caused by hubris through using yet more hubris.

    (Then of course there is the risk of ‘moral hazard’–that people look at geo-engineering as a ‘fix’ so that they don’t have to do much in the way of cutting back on ff use.)