Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

Opine away!


45 Responses to Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

  1. John says:

    This cartoon implies that a carbon tax will lower the deficit flames. This is exactly what the carbon tax must not do. The carbon tax is meant to lower carbon and not to save the government’s butt. Cap and Trade is a farce. Only a 100% private Cap and Dividend with no public-private split will help save the climate. 4G reactors will burn 99% by volume of nuclear waste and reduce the lethality from 10,000 years to 300 years. The U.S. has enough nuclear waste to power the economy, reduce carbon and clean up the environment. We can tax 4G reactors to fund clean ups and decommission older, unsafe reactors. We cannot walk away from nuclear power and pretend it didn’t happen because of all the nuclear waste. Japan and Germany are burning more gas and coal than ever because they are trying leave nuclear power behind. Nuclear power is totally dangerous, but coal, gas and oil are totally lethal to all life on earth.

  2. Will Fox says:

    A step closer to affordable water desalination:

    John Stetson, senior engineer: “It’s 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and 1,000 times stronger. The energy that’s required and the pressure that’s required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less.”

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    Hydrogen Fuel? Thin Films of Nickel and Iron Oxides Yield Efficient Solar Water-Splitting Catalyst
    Mar. 20, 2013 — University of Oregon chemists say that ultra-thin films of nickel and iron oxides made through a solution synthesis process are promising catalysts to combine with semiconductors to make devices that capture sunlight and convert water into hydrogen and oxygen gases.

  4. DarthVader says:

    That may absolutely be a step in the right direction, but one should not forget that Lockheed Martin, those behind this breakthrough, is one of the most hardline capitalist corporations in the world, in the sense that they put profit way above anything else. Therefore I fear that such patents on water desalination are going to be abused in a similar manner to Monstanos abuse of patented “gen-soy” or the way that pharmaceutical companies abuses patents on medicaments (for example suing developing countries that are producing HIV-medicaments themselves, rather that buying it from “big pharma” for many times the same price) .

    In fact this may not at all be used as a mean to ease the strain that water shortages will put on the world in the coming years, but rather a mean to blackmail other countries in the pursuit of money and resources. We must in the end realize that this is a crisis created by capitalism, and I think that rather than making things better, the involvment of companies such as Lockheed Martin in the climate crisis, will only make things even worse.

  5. Joan Savage says:

    Given the connection between the warmed Arctic and the more frequent extreme mid-latitude weather, shouldn’t we get the word out that extreme weather patterns are either here to stay, or could perturb into something even less familiar?

    I see press that compares the current droughts to historic droughts that came to a natural end after several years. Those recoveries were back when we had more Arctic cold to regulate the jet stream.

    It’s like the country and western song that ends, “..know when to walk away and know when to run.”

  6. Joan Savage says:

    Sydney dims down for Earth Hour climate change protest

    Mid article:

    Critics have dismissed the campaign, now into its seventh year, as a gimmick of little or no practical benefit.

    This year, Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking part for the first time.

    The Kremlin due to switch off its lights at 16:30 GMT along with 90 other landmark buildings in Moscow.

    Sydney cut its lights at 09:30 GMT.

  7. Joan Savage says:

    If it traps sodium and chlorine, perhaps it also filters out nutrients calcium and potassium, given the size of atomic radii.

  8. Colorado Bob says:

    Another story about the animal kingdom changing before our eyes :
    Warming Atlantic Ocean may be causing changes in lobster growth cycle
    Lobster fishing is set to start early on the East Coast this spring because of changes to lobsters’ growth cycle that scientists believe may be linked to the warming Atlantic Ocean.

    Four lobster areas in Nova Scotia are opening 10 days earlier this April because of early moulting — or shedding — of lobsters in recent years. Last year fishermen in Nova Scotia and Maine say lobsters were moulting several weeks before they normally do………………. Bob Bayer, a professor of animal and veterinary sciences and the director of the Lobster Institute in Maine, said he’s never seen anything like this, “and I’ve been watching this stuff for over 30 years.”

  9. BBHY says:

    That might just be my favorite cartoon ever.

    Climate change certainly is already costing the government, and hence taxpayers, money. In the future it will cost much, much more. So it makes perfect sense to charge carbon emitters for the damage caused by carbon emissions, and in the process discourage those emissions.

    The wingers certainly like to complain about Al Gore having a carbon intensive lifestyle. Whether there is any truth to that or not, a carbon tax would mean people with carbon intensive lifestyles would be paying for it, and those of us who have a smaller carbon footprint would come out ahead. So that would seem to be a effective response to address those sort of complaints.

  10. But it is funny. And illustrative of just how little rational thinking (let alone action) is taking place in Congress. If Tom Toles ran for president, I’d vote for him.

    Better an imperfect carbon tax than no carbon tax. The strategic importance of getting any carbon tax on the books cannot be overstated. We shouldn’t care why it gets there. Once we’ve overcome the hulking inertia of putting one in place, we have less far to go to get to the next victory, which is using the money to directly reduce GHG output. Meanwhile, a carbon tax will reduce GHG output somewhat, albeit indirectly.

    But mostly, it will change the conversation, just the way the Social Security Act changed the conversation about old age pensions. Nobody talks seriously about doing away with Social Security; they only talk about how to manage the cash flows. This is exactly where we want to be with a carbon tax.

    A carbon tax is the ball off which we should not take our eyes.

  11. thomas says:

    So tired of cartoons and commentary that presuppose right wing deficit concerns are anything other than a shell game. It’s about privatizing everything to benefit the corporate class. We waste our time trying to dream up a solution that will satisfy the stated deficit-hawk goals. The anti-deficit and anti-action on climate change attitudes are perfectly consistent when you think about who benefits.

  12. John says:

    I could not disagreee more, once carbon taxes flow into the black hole of government coffers it’s unaccountable and gone for good. A 100% private Cap and Dividend with no public-private split puts all of the carbon tax money directly into the hands of private citizens incentivizing behaviorial change. If you give half of that money to the government, you will half the incentive.

  13. Sasparilla says:

    Excellent points Change.

  14. Sasparilla says:

    Great presentation – taking apart most of the large (i.e. government created) reports that guide us to 2.0C solutions – showing they often game the CO2 emissions numbers (both prior to the reports and definitely for forecast rise in CO2 emissions, often less than 1%) to make it seem like 2.0C was still reasonably achievable.

    Has some great quotes from top level bureaucrats on why we can’t say we’ve lost 2.0C. I put it up yesterday in the morning but wasn’t unlocked till after 9pm (my last post) so I’m putting it up again.

  15. Sasparilla says:

    Here’s the deck the guy was using:

    Real Clothes for the Emperor: facing the challenges of climate change by Kevin Anderson – Nov 2012

  16. If you look at what is happening in Washington, it is hard to be optimistic. Maybe only Bill McKibben can accomplish this. He found reason to be thankful that the Senate “held a vote on a nonbinding resolution that says it would be nice to build the pipeline, but doesn’t actually do much about it.” However, add that to the “professionals” who wrote the State Department report and the trial balloon from the White House that Obama is “leaning toward approval”, it would seem that the one thing everyone is putting their hope on is not going to come to fruition. Keystone XL Pipeline will be approved and built unless it is blocked by massive civil disobedience.

    I gain no enthusiasm when leaders tell us how great we are doing as, time after time, we fail to meet our goals. Maybe the climate hawks need a butt-kicking drill sergeant to lead.

  17. John,

    Where did you get the idea that the only energy solutions are nuclear and fossil fuels? Whatever happened to alternatives and energy efficiency?

    Concerning the carbon tax, we should be pragmatic. A selling point to Republicans, who are going to be almost 100% in opposition to the concept, is deficit reduction. (If any of them really give a damn about deficit reduction, that is. Could be just a ploy to line their pockets at the expense of the middle class…but that’s another discussion.)

    What’s wrong with splitting a carbon tax to meet several needs? Some can go to the poor — not to subsidize SUV’s, but to help them buy energy-efficiency appliances — some can go to research and insulating buildings, some can go to deficit reduction.


  18. 100% with you on this. I’ve been writing more about “climate chaos” than “climate change” lately. I don’t know quite what’s going to happen as we continue to add excess energy to the Earth System. But none of it will make life easier.

  19. John says:

    we have to reduce carbon outputs 80%. To do that we will need efficiency, conservation, solar and wind farms, 4g nuclear and geo-thermal all at the same time. Compromise on a 100% private Cap and Dividend with no public-private split will weaken the effectiveness of the tax to the point of uselessness. Compromise does not work with Nature. We have to stop fighting over money and get to work.

  20. Dick Smith says:

    RE: carbon tax. Let’s direct our energy to making sure the revenue side bites hard enough to credibly give us the emission reductions we need.

    Let’s agree that government can do whatever it wants with that all that revenue. Congress can do whatever will get them 218 votes in the House and 60 (should be 50) votes in the Senate.

    So, Don’t waste your time worrying about the expenditure outcome.

    The only essential element of a carbon tax is that it’s big enough to get us the emissions reductions we need to avoid dangerous warming. The rest is just details.

  21. John says:

    Making the tax big enough to work without compensating private citizens will be an economic disaster. The whole point of the tax is to change individual behavior, and not divert yet more funds to the government. When you do that, it is just another tax, no matter how you paint it. Because there is so much money at stake, I expect a lot of resistance to a 100% private carbon tax with no public-private split.

  22. I completely agree with your take on this Dick.

    Here in BC our carbon tax survives only because the conservatives would have to raise taxes to replace the funds if they got rid of it. Apparently they hate raising taxes more than the carbon tax.

    The BC Carbon tax is “revenue neutral” because it was used to cut personal and corporate income taxes.

    Forcing conservatives to raise taxes if they want to get rid of the carbon tax later is a decent firewall in my book.

    I think there are better ways to structure the “revenue neutral” aspect than what BC did, but the general strategy of requiring a tax increase to eliminate a carbon tax has a lot to say for it.

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    Mass extinctions due to rapidly escalating levels of CO2 are recorded since as long as 580 million years ago. As our anthropogenic global emissions of CO2 are rising, at a rate for which no precedence is known from the geological record with the exception of asteroid impacts, another wave of extinctions is unfolding.

    Read more at:

  24. Joan Savage says:

    Contrary to your statement that “the whole point of the tax is to change individual behavior,” I would be far more satisfied if a carbon tax’s primary impact is change in corporate manufacturing, products, and services.

    It makes a big difference over all if consumers actually have a choice among products and services.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That has been the plan since Reagan, himself product created and peddled by the corporatocracy, came to power. Spend big on the military, in order to terrorise the planet into submission, and slash taxes on the rich. The resultant deficits mean that social welfare spending and other fripperies like public education, public infrastructure and public transport can be starved of funds. It is, in essence, a neo-feudal project to transfer as much of the society’s wealth as possible to the capitalist overlords, while immiserating as many of the proles as social tension allows. Debt peonage is another useful tactic to keep the rabble in line. The whole project is rooted in an essential hatred of and contempt for other people, so it is intractable. Even in the face of disaster its perpetrators will not cease pursuing it.

  26. John says:

    Ocean acidification is the most serious threat, it caused 4 out of 5 mass extinction events. The largest mass extinction event was 300 million years ago when acidification wiped out 90% of life on earth. We are adding carbon 10 times faster than in the run up to that event.

  27. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thanks Bob. Changes in the ocean aren’t as visible to people but they are becoming dramatic. Oceanographers discovered the reason the Great Whites swam into WA beaches and munched on people was that the deep ocean current experienced a 5C above average heatwave which drove the Whites onto the beaches which became relatively cooler, ME

  28. Daniel Coffey says:

    Carbon tax: the fastest way to divert cash from solving the problem while making ordinary people miserable.

    Where will the money go? Answer? Nowhere it should. We need to build the substitutes for carbon fuels, and fast. Placing a tax on carbon has many effects, but one is not to direct funds toward build the alternatives.

    There are dreamers who envision a world in which investment occurs in response to such a tax, but they have not followed the money and for the most part are not tax experts.

    We are headed down another rabbit hole like cap-n-trade.

  29. Sasparilla says:

    The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) sent a Letter to President suggests 6 key components for climate change strategy to President Obama; adaptation and mitigation.

    It’s an interesting read and there is alot of good stuff in there, hopefully the administration takes alot of it to heart and brings it to fruition (yeah, yeah). Reading it reinforces the feeling that this administration has been and will continue to be an obstacle to serious climate action, but I’ll take the progress on green energy and plug-in vehicles that’s taken place under his watch (he’s been good there and we’ll need that progress as we scale those solutions).

  30. Ken Barrows says:

    Is the process of creating the graphene membrane energy intensive?

    When looking at the whole system, I am skeptical that it is 500 times more efficient than reverse osmosis. But if producing a gallon of water using the new system requires significantly less energy, then great.

  31. logspirit says:

    If I was a cartoonist, and I was aware of our looming extinction, and I was drawing a picture of our final repose… I’d carve “Could-a, Would-a, Should-a” on humanity’s tombstone.

  32. DRT says:

    So what do you suggest instead?

  33. David B. Benson says:

    A bit indirect, but from
    one can find the link to the underlying OCED executive summary regarding grid level costs of various electrical generation methods. This summary is well written; the main point is well taken.

  34. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    All you need do, I believe, is hypothecate the revenues to go to compensation for the poor and the working and middle classes. A little long overdue income redistribution could be included. Funds must also be hypothecated to what you correctly, in my opinion, see as absolutely essential- greatly increased research, development and deployment of renewable energy. And with any funds left we can make a start on ecological repair. On no account should the scheme be a ‘carbon trading’ market contrivance, because it will end up, as all such scams do, prioritising profit maximisation over all else.

  35. Spike says:

    Not a problem – plenty of those in food.

  36. Mark E says:

    I read climate stuff daily.

    So how did I *not* know about Earth Hour last night?

  37. Joan Savage says:


    When the food crop depends on desalinized water for irrigation, removal of mineral nutrients is a problem.

    Over 60% of global freshwater withdrawal is for irrigation, so the literature on the mineral content of irrigation water is extensive.

    Here’s an article relative to desalination of irrigation water in Israel:

    Water Sci Technol. 2010;61(10):2451-60. doi: 10.2166/wst.2010.157.
    Potential drawbacks associated with agricultural irrigation with treated wastewaters from desalinated water origin and possible remedies.

  38. Jay Alt says:

    Those wanting a nuclear build-out will need mountains of finance cash. Such financing isn’t available from the private sector. Given their thinking it never will be. The old saying comes to min-
    ‘Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face’

  39. prokaryotes says:

    Modeling Antarctic ice shelf responses to future climate changes and impacts on the ocean

    We investigate basal melting of all Antarctic ice shelves by a circumpolar ice shelf-sea ice-ocean coupled model and estimate the total basal melting of 770-944 Gt/yr under present-day climate conditions. We present a comparison of the basal melting with previous observational and modeling estimates for each ice shelf. Heat sources for basal melting are largely different among the ice shelves. Sensitivities of the basal melting to surface air warming and to enhanced westerly winds over the Antarctic Circumpolar Current are investigated from a series of numerical experiments. In this model the total basal melting strongly depends on the surface air warming but is hardly affected by the change of westerly winds. The magnitude of the basal melting response to the warming varies widely from one ice shelf to another. The largest response is found at ice shelves in the Bellingshausen Sea, followed by those in the Eastern Weddell Sea and the Indian sector. These increases of basal melting are caused by increases of Circumpolar Deep Water and/or Antarctic Surface Water into ice shelf cavities. By contrast, basal melting of ice shelves in the Ross and Weddell Seas is insensitive to the surface air warming, because even in the warming experiments there is high sea ice production at the front of the ice shelves that keeps the water temperature to the surface freezing point. Weakening of the thermohaline circulation driven by Antarctic dense water formation under warming climate conditions is enhanced by basal melting of ice shelves.

  40. prokaryotes says:

    If you read the wikipedia entry on Caron Tax you can find the success story of the swedish CT. The tax changed the energy sources and Sweden’s economy even grow.

  41. Raul M. says:

    Great news for rock and bits hunters. All that massive ice moving against the Arctic coasts will uncover things that haven’t been in sunlight for who knows how long.
    Nice news from others- The Earth seeks it’s own balance and to be clear in the knowledge of the power of change.

  42. Brian R Smith says:

    I hope we’ll see a repost here of yesterday’s NYT op-ed by Edward Hoagland,

    Pity Earth’s Creatures

    It is stunningly, instructively excellent writing to the heart of our folly. Commenter Polly Armstrong says it better than I could:

    Edward Hoagland has eloquently captured the terrifying unconsciousness of humans in this rapidly declining natural world we are destroying. My heart hurt as I read his exquisitely vivid words of clarity, deep compassion, rare intelligence and insight into what so many of us ignore, pretend is not real. We need more speakers, writers, criers in the technological wilderness like this author to scream from the rooftops in every neighborhood, pound the halls of Congress and articulate harsh, sobering Truth to all of us before it is too late. Ironically, his words gave me hope to find at least a few conscious human beings still out there trying to stop this madness.

  43. Raul M. says:

    Amazing information on the SunWise page of the uv index. There is an island (Guam?) shown with an index of 15. Well, extreme uv exposure starts at 11. Following the scale the word used to describe the level changes every 2 or 3 increases in the level. So 11 and 12 are extreme, then 13 thru 15 are ultra extreme, would 16 and higher just be called extinction to explain the disappearance of plants and animals?
    I’m not sure why they would not have a continuation of the word change to show increased power of the suns rays penetrating to the surface. The word change would occur at 13 and 16 following established the pattern.

  44. Raul M. says:

    Anyway, in checking out some of the department stores that sell contact lenses that have uv barriers in the lenses, I found that for various reasons it is required to be sold with a prescription only but not correction. So without correction, the lenses still require a new prescription each year. So going without contact lenses is better for the health than having contact lenses for those who could afford the lenses but not the prescription for contact lenses that only block the uv light and give no correction. It is amazing that the eye doctors could say that as a group.


  45. WG says:

    There is one major reason why fighting global warming is low on the US agenda.

    The public does not understand the final chapter of global heating through excessive CO2.

    Only a few climate scientists dare violate the unspoken political correctness of never speaking of that final, lethal chapter. James Lovelock did, and even in this blog he was ruthlessly attacked for speaking the unspeakable. Lovelock predicted in his book five or six billion humans would eventually perish from drought, food shortage, water shortage.

    A recent NY Times article would only go so far as to say, vaguely, “threatening changes…appear inevitable.”

    We have got to tell the public this can kill them, their children and grandchildren. We’ve got to tell business this will absolutely ruin their corporate bottom line.

    Most of the general public think it’s about some polar bears and a few inches of sea level rise. No big deal, right?