Open Thread And Cartoon Of The Week

Opine away.

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66 Responses to Open Thread And Cartoon Of The Week

  1. Will Fox says:

    Artificial photosynthesis could solve global warming

    Panasonic is developing a form of artificial photosynthesis – converting CO2 and water into oxygen and carbohydrates, using sunlight. In the future, it is hoped this could be scaled up to industrial-sized facilities, absorbing CO2 from factories and other infrastructure.

    Read more:

  2. Will Fox says:

    From the Research Council of Norway:

    Global Warming Less Extreme Than Feared? New Estimates from a Norwegian Project On Climate Calculations

    Jan. 25, 2013 — Policymakers are attempting to contain global warming at less than 2°C. New estimates from a Norwegian project on climate calculations indicate this target may be more attainable than many experts have feared.

    [JR: Not! Again even if this were true, which it probably isn’t, it is only about climate sensitivity, which people still keep confusing with projected warming this century!]

  3. Superman1 says:

    I am starting to re-interpret the Garden of Eden parable from a climate perspective. The GoE was the environment in which all species evolved. For each species, the GoE contained the climate appropriate to its survival without the need for clothing, the proper food, etc. Living in the GoE produced a minimal resource/energy footprint, and insured sustainability. The Original Sin was leaving the climate best suited for humanity, and moving to other climates that required additional energy sources for survival. Part of the Original Sin was the desire for expansion, and the need for weapons et al to achieve this. All the other energy intensive activities followed. I suspect if one approached our proper level of resource usage from an operations research perspective, they would find we were meant to survive sustainably in a relatively small band of the Earth with appropriate climate, at a level of perhaps tens or hundreds of millions of people. There is nothing in the original plan for seven billion people at a very high per capita energy use, and what we’re seeing now is the Earth returning us involuntarily back to the original plan.

  4. David Smith says:

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”.

    In my opinion, the references to the “general welfare” and “our posterity” in the above preamble to the US Constitution suggest any laws that allow the extensive dumping of industrial by-product into the commons (atmosphere) by certain international and US corporations causing the destabilization of the climate and risking ours and future generations is a clear violation of the intent of the constitution.

    I am not a constitutional lawyer, but what gives? It’s in the first sentence.

  5. Paul Klinkman says:

    Natural photosynthesis can sequester carbon dioxide also.

    The beauty of natural photosynthesis is that it’s already a self-replicating technology, which is technology’s gold standard. Just add water, nutrients, sunlight and atmospheric CO2, and keep it at the right temperature.

  6. Paul Klinkman says:

    To develop consumer solar products we need a solar proponent-led organization of consumers. Consumers will hopefully be interested both in low prices for themselves and in ongoing product development to stop climate change, product development which doesn’t seem to be going on in many vital fields.

    The early auto clubs that came together to form the AAA were strong automobile advocates. They reformed and vetted the tow truck industry out of member necessity. They bargained for better insurance policies that actually pay off when your car is stolen.

    If you want to win and you’re not depending on the government to wash your dirty laundry for you, form a solar consumers club.

  7. Superman1 says:

    I raised that point in a post last week, and suggested that those politicians who are running this country are not doing their job to protect the general welfare, and should be impeached. It also seems to open the door to other nations’ use of fossil fuels as threats to our well being, and potential use of force to stop this. Unfortunately, we’re doing this damage to ourselves as well.

  8. Brian R Smith says:

    “and keep it at the right temperature.”
    Aye, there’s the rub.

  9. David Goldstein says:

    Response to Joe’s response: For accuracy’s sake, isn’t it the case that a lower sensitivity (1.9 C in the case of this study) would likely result in a relatively lower temp rise this century and a higher sensitivity would result in a relatively higher rise?

  10. Will Fox says:


    We have the technology to feed 9 billion people easily – possibly even more – and with potentially good lifestyles too. Look at vertical farms, for instance, along with artificially-grown meat, GM crops, nano-filtration, etc. We also throw away between 30-50% of all food, often simply because it doesn’t have a cosmetically good appearance. New aquaculture methods can be developed to reduce environmental impacts while vastly increasing fish yields.

    As for energy, we have the vast untapped resources of solar and wind, including space-based solar. The Sun provides 10,000 times more energy than the whole of humanity actually uses. Artificial photosynthesis (as I posted above) can be deployed to sequester CO2. There is a myriad of other ingenious technological solutions to provide global abundance and a high standard of living for all.

    The real problem lies with capitalism, fueled by our utterly corrupt and morally repugnant political systems, and the general greed/ignorance/apathy of the brainwashed public. Watch “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward” (freely available on YouTube).

  11. Brooks Bridges says:

    I’ve read that people can take bleak news if you give them some way to act to prevent it.

    The climate news couldn’t be much bleaker so below is one important action many near DC can take. If you go to the site you will find links to help support this action even if you can’t attend. You can also spread the word.

    Sign up for the Forward On Climate rally Feb 17.
    More details at:
    Sign up and have the thrill of seeing your name appear on the scrolling list of other sign uppers.

    When: February 17th, at 12 Noon

    Where: The National Mall, Washington D.C.

    Organizers:, The Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus.
    (The Hip-Hop Caucus has over 600,000 members and a huge percentage of under 40 and minorities).

    Why: To tell Barack Obama it’s time to lead in the fight against climate change, beginning with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

    It’s way past time for such mass action and the bigger the mass, the more climate action there’ll be.

    It’s time to write less and show you’re serious about this.

  12. Joe Romm says:

    After 4C warming, it’s all pretty grim.

  13. Dick Smith says:

    See you there. Hope others will join us. As Joe said in Hell and High Water, “Get educated…get political.”

    You’ve all done the first. Time to get off the computer and out the door.

  14. Joan Savage says:

    Thermophiles conduct photosynthesis at 50C (122 F) and some as high as 80C (176F).

    Presently their niches are abyssal vents or hot springs in Yellowstone or the like. If humans toast ourselves and most vertebrates and many plants out of existence, the next great geologic age could begin with spread of the thermophiles.

  15. Joe,

    I call your attention here to an op ed of mine that ran a couple days ago in the Missoulian (Missoula Montana) – not so much because of any new information it provides, but because of the way it provides that scientific information to the public. Based largely on direct observations of CO2 emissions and not too much theory and speculation, it seems to work pretty well. See it at:

  16. Joan Savage says:

    I cut that too short. Obviously thermophiles deep in the ocean abysses are not the varieties conducting photosynthesis.

  17. Raul M. says:

    YouTube has a chanel called minutephysics whish is nice and fun.

  18. Raul M. says:

    Sorry which.

  19. Ernest says:

    JCAP under the DOE is also looking into this.
    Its main advantage is “stored solar” for the night or when the sun is not shining as much. Unfortunately, nature is not terribly efficient in the energy conversion cause it has other concerns, such as “living”, so meeting this efficiency is a low bar. It can succeed if implemented at “dirt cheap” costs OR a major increase in efficiency. AP the “holy grail” in solar technology.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Trees and other plants are beautiful, as well.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Norway- big hydrocarbon peddler, far to north, probably thinks warming will allow them to grow grapes and bananas, instead of simply going bananas, as here.

  22. Will Fox says:

    Breakthroughs in solar power

    This month has witnessed a number of breakthroughs in solar power. Here are some of the more significant developments:

  23. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It all depends on how you define ‘We, the People..’.

  24. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Australia celebrates Australia (Invasion) Day: Australia outdid herself with record rainfalls, floods and tornados in the North and violent thuinderstorms in the national capital, totally wiping out the planned bread and circuses, ME

  25. fj says:

    Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change – it’s far, far worse’

  26. Paul Klinkman says:

    You haven’t seen my greenhouse (patent is now through examination). My last prototype kept tomato sprouts alive without additional heat starting in January of 2010 through April, when the tomatoes went into a garden in Pawtucket. For my designs, temperature control isn’t a particularly big issue for growing algae cheaply. Getting someone to care is.

  27. catman306 says:

    It’s not climate, but it’s doomy and gloomy. And it will change carbon pollution prediction calculations, maybe for the better.

    Billionaires Dumping Stocks, Economist Knows Why

    “It’s very likely that these professional investors are aware of specific research that points toward a massive market correction, as much as 90%.”

  28. Paul Klinkman says:

    Well, if the government can outperform my designs, and if I can outperform the price of oil, then the eaarth wins.

  29. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Good old technophiles. So why are the great capitalists not jumping on these opportunites and making a mottza? ME

  30. Matt Owens says:

    At the January 2013 Weather and Climate Summit, Jeff Lukas presented info about megadroughts in the US, past and future. Bottom line: the threat is real, now.

    Read more about his points here:

  31. Bob Lang says:

    In a sense, oil is like water: You can put a dam in its way, but it still wants to flow downhill, i.e.,to markets.

    One of the unintended consequences of blocking Keystone XL: The volume of crude shipped by the two major Canadian rail lines, CN Rail and CP Rail, has increased from 11.4 million barrels in 2011 to an expected volume of 64 million barrels by the end of 2012, a shocking 560% annual increase.

    So long as there is demand for crude oil that comes from Canada’s tar sands, companies will find a way to sell it.

  32. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    This study seems in line with Hansen’s review of 2012
    Global warming is progressing much slower due to aerosol negative forcings.

  33. Bob Lang says:

    Since when is a 90% market decline a “correction”.

    Between 04/01/1990 and 15/03/2010, the Japanese Nikkei 225 Stock Market Index dropped from 38,951 to a temporary bottom of 8,228, a 79% drop.

    Notice that I said “temporary bottom”. The real bottom will come when the rest of the world markets decline in sync.

  34. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thats 79% over a 20 year period, slow and deliberate. If the Economist is even close, markets will do what they always do best which is run on emotion and panic, ME

  35. From the article Will linked to:

    “In the future, it is hoped this could be scaled up to industrial-sized facilities, absorbing CO2 from factories and other infrastructure.”

    So this is a proposed technology for carbon capture and storage (CCS) from power plants. It sounds like a good one, if it can be scaled up, etc., and we continue to burn fossil fuels for power.

    However, CCS at stationary power plants only addresses one part of the emissions problem. There’s still all the anthropogenic emission zones — transportation, etc., — plus the natural feedbacks to be contained. And, we have to start drawing down the greenhouse gases that are already in the atmosphere.

    So to say…

    “Artificial photosynthesis could solve global warming”

    …is a bit of a stretch. But thanks for letting us know about the technology.

  36. Joe,

    Could you give us a little blurb about the difference between climate sensitivity and expected temperature rise, or tell us where to find something that the interested non-physicist can read and understand?


  37. I was thinking about that very question while performing my daily ablutions this morning.

    At one time BP had a renewable energy program going, and a spokesman I heard talk at Cooper’s Union said in this transitional age (1990s) the company thought of itself as being in the “energy business,” not the oil business. Subsequently they’ve closed that part of their business and devoted themselves to the extraction of fossil fuels. (The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.)

    Thinking about why that is, and why the enormously wealthy fossil fuel companies aren’t investing in renewable energy, where they could potentially make a huge killing in the not-to-distant future, all I could come up with is short-term profits, driven by the instantaneous turnover of investment money.

    Think about it. You’re pumping this oil well, and it’s making bucks. You have an infrastructure all set up to process and sell the stuff. The oil and the cash flow.

    But if you change energy sources, you will have to give up on your secure, productive investments and invest a hell of a lot of money in a system that might not yield as much return, especially in the short run, and likely in the long run, as sunlight is free and if people don’t like what you’re charging them, they can collect their own.

    Just a thought, but that might explain this situation, which Superman1 has rightly labeled “surreal.”

  38. David B. Benson says:

    Queensland is having a Weather Day instead of Australia day:

  39. Bob Lang says:

    The reason why it took 20 years and will continue indefinitely is because the Bank of Japan, like our Federal Reserve, is bailing out anyone who gets into trouble.

    In 1990, the Japanese owned everyting, including the Pebble Beach golf course, Rockefeller Center, Columbia Pictures, CBS Records etc., all bought at the top of the market. That’s what happens at the top of a credit bubble.

    If you want to get an idea of the magnitude of the current US credit bubble relative to the one prior to the Great Depression, take a look at the following chart (courtesy of Ned Davis Research):

    All previous bubbles in history have burst, and this one won’t be any different.

  40. David Stewart says:

    These beautiful crystal caves in Mexico would seem to be a good place for those arguing that we should simply adapt to a hotter planet, to go and practice their adapting – 50 degrees centigrade and 90% humidity.

  41. Mike Roddy says:

    Yeah, from what I understand, 4C means we’re done. Too many feedbacks will kick in.

  42. This is probably too late to be read by anyone, but I’ll post it anyway. Having read James Kunstler, it is maybe too easy for me to see the downside. But this item from the Guardian should be copied and sent to every Republican in the American Congess, and especially to Paul Ryan.

    Resource Constraints research report, published by the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, is blunt and worth quoting: “The more extreme scenarios modelled represent financial disaster; the assets of pension schemes will effectively be wiped out and pensions will be reduced to negligible levels.”

  43. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I am not denying credit bubbles Bob or the destruction entailed when they pop but our current dominant economic theory and the institutions it has created are inherently unstable and destructive. What we need is a return to commonsense and substantive value, ME

  44. quokka says:

    Yes, the flooding is quite serious. While Brisbane is not expected to incur the kind of river flooding of a couple years ago, the situation in some regional towns is worse than a couple of years ago. Army helicopters are being brought in to help with evacuations. Unusually, overnight there were a number of tornadoes and the BOM is warning of the potential for more.

  45. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The entire ‘free market’ financial system, based in Wall Street and London, is a gigantic Ponzi scheme based on the griftocracy blowing up one asset bubble after another, then bursting the previous, and turning to a new, and ever bigger bubble. And profiting on both the way up and the way down, mostly from ‘inside information’ as they are the creators and executors of the process, and from more openly fraudulent practises. Thanks to their control of Anglosphere politics through monetary ‘contributions’ and other rewards in ‘consultancies’ etc for politicians on retirement, they are immune to prosecution (save for the occasional patsie sacrificed for cosmetic purposes). The latest bubbles, in stocks, bonds, commodities, are the biggest in history, because the trillions gifted to the kleptos after the last implosion (for which the rest of society is being liquidated in the orgy of ‘austerity’)have to go somewhere, and the pathocrats prefer the delights of ‘wealth extraction’ through financial chicanery to ‘wealth production’ through investment in production and fair exchange. That’s too hard.

  46. Paul Magnus says:

    if you factor in the ‘we got it wrong factor’ in to the current science you know where we stand…

    Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change – it’s far, far worse’
    Author of 2006 review speaks out on danger to economies as planet absorbs less carbon and is ‘on track’ for 4C rise

  47. Paul Magnus says:

    I wonder if fracking will cause the background radiation levels to go up locally?

    Portland radon levels reveal potential health risks
    One in four homes in the area have potentially unsafe levels of radon, a new survey from PSU has revealed.

  48. David Smith says:

    The huge value of untapped reserves is a major stumbling block as well, as this is what gives the FF industry its scale and power. There is no equivalent on the renewables side. Too much value to just walk away from.

  49. fj says:

    Of course they are making a major mistake(s) by fostering technologies that have limited lifetimes and commercial value but are also lethally dangerous on poi global and historical scales.

  50. fj says:

    The fossil fuel business model is similar Oto that of photographic film to ultimately be replaced by digital imaging.

    Kodak used to make and give away cameras for free just to sell film, not unlike the way cars sell petroleum dominating and monopolizing markets.

  51. fj says:

    Kodak knew the value of digital with research and development, patents and products but chose not follow through and include it in its core business.

    Not knowing the details the safest guess is that human capital led to Kodak’s decline whether it was decision making and or its corporate culture and inability to reinvent itself.

    Similarly, the same situation may have existed to cause IBM to sell off its personal computer line to the Chinese company now called Lenovo to become immediately profitable; with which IBM continues to have a working relationship.

    In fact, it seems IBM has still tried to at least partially reinvent itself with deeper investment in the human capital services it provides. Do note that IBM’s extraordinary high concept still seems to prevail: “Think”.

    The key idea is how do we move from a fossil fuel civilization to one that optimally uses and maintains this planet’s natural capital where human capital is the most important component?

  52. John McCormick says:

    Phillip, I spent a day or two early on reading some of Dr. Hansen’s earlier papers on climate sensitivity. He used christmas tree light bulbs to graphically explain uptake of watts/sq meter on earth’s surface. What the earth and our atmosphere do with that increase heat load is further explained by him but you need to spend a day with the reading part.

    Joe might consider your request but given the kind of day planner he has, I doubt that would be a good use of his time.

    So, set aside a few hours and, if you need, I will try to give some links.

    My email:

  53. John McCormick says:

    Plot that graph against the Mauna Loa CO2 chart. Except for the 2008 to present dip, they are identical. No surprise there. But… it takes one’s breath away!!!

  54. John McCormick says:

    Wes, we are scouts on the front line while the big green take our reports at their base camp sitting at mahogany desks.

    Munich Re and the little world of actuaries are the voices we should be enlisting.

    It would take a few grad students to start the conversation but who would fund such a silly idea. Better to rely on UNFCCC.

  55. Ken Barrows says:


    Repeat after me: what’s the net energy of these projects?

  56. Superman1 says:

    Energy is a means to an end, not an end in itself. In the Garden of Eden parable above, its two main functions were to provide a comfortable climate with no exterior protection required, and to help food grow. Today, the ‘end’ has expanded to extracting myriad resources, processing them, using the products, and discarding the waste. While we may be able to convert to renewables without creating runaway temperatures (and I’m not sure this is possible any longer), the resource problem, and especially its waste disposal would be a major roadblock to sustainability. We are having water shortage problems with the promise of more to come, and we have destroyed much of the ocean using it as a garbage dump. We were not meant to live like this, as we will find out in the very near future.

  57. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    Some further thoughts: I wonder if the cold winter in China is due to the SO2 cloud polluting the air? And could our warm 2012 be due to a methane cloud leaking from fracking?
    These gasses will disperse but would be in high concentration near the sources.

  58. Joe Romm says:

    Try here.

  59. Joan Savage says:

    Human-made waste heat warms climate

    The waste heat generated by car engines, power plants, home furnaces and other fossil fuel-burning machinery plays an unappreciated role in influencing regional climates, new computer simulations suggest. By altering atmospheric circulation, human-made heat may raise temperatures by as much as 1 degree Celsius during winter in the northernmost parts of the world.

    The finding may help explain why current climate simulations, which account for the heat-trapping effects of greenhouse gases but not the heat directly produced by energy consumption, have failed to replicate some winter warming observed in the northern latitudes, researchers report online January 27 in Nature Climate Change.

    Link to abstract of Nature Climate Change letter:
    Energy consumption and the unexplained winter warming over northern Asia and North America

    Guang J. Zhang,Ming Cai& Aixue Hu

  60. fj says:


    Life is intelligence and virtually the same.

    Nature provides everything.

  61. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The pension funds will be looted by the kleptomaniacs of the financial griftocracy, first. The crumbs will be left for the serfs to fight over.

  62. Superman1 says:

    “if you give them some way to act to prevent it”

    I have yet to see anyone do that. The actions proposed will prevent nothing.

  63. Superman1 says:

    It takes two to tango. The few skim off the major profits at the top, while the many allow them to do it. We allow it because most of us hope to someday be in that select group. Why do you think the losing Presidential candidate garnered so many of the lower-middle class votes?

  64. Calamity Jean says:

    Mitt Romney: “Corporations are people, my friend!”

  65. Paul Magnus says:

    Always told that the direct heat from ff combustion cannot affect global warming significantly. However, that is wrong as the statement below proves.

    A 0.01 global rise in temp is very significant! Consider we have seen huge effects with a 0.75 change. Intact it adds to the critical tipping point.

    This is one reason why gw now is much more dangerous than past natural warnings.

    “Global temperature averages were barely affected by the big city heat, barely .01C on average. But big cities had a noticeable impact on regional temperatures almost on a continental scale.”

  66. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Hatred of, and ‘downward envy’ targeting those even lower down the USA’s brutal social pecking order. A crazy desire to ingratiate themselves with the money power, and the insane belief that somehow, some day, they will be rich parasites, too. Sheer brainwashed mass psychosis.