Open Thread Plus Cartoon


Opine away!


89 Responses to Open Thread Plus Cartoon

  1. Henry says:

    No discussion yet of Thursday’s Senate hearing on Climate Change??
    The AGW blogosphere is abuzz, maybe we need some push-back on that here!

  2. Spike says:

    A study of motivation of UK citizens pursuing low carbon lifestyles finds broader moral in addition to environmental drivers for behavioural change. Climate change mitigation campaigns need to promote a holistic view of a lower-carbon future.

  3. Spike says:

    An unusual problem but likely future problem in the UK – wildfires punctuating a heatwave:

  4. Will Fox says:

    Potentially useful technology for easing water scarcity –

  5. Mark Shapiro says:

    For clean electricity and efficiency nerds: A while ago I started asking about a low-voltage DC standard. I might have been crazy, but at least I’m not the only one:

    Consider the growing importance of PV, batteries, electronics, LED lighting, and EVs. They are all exclusively DC.

  6. Will Fox says:

    What 130 years of global warming sounds like on the cello:

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    For Mulga and Merrelyn:

    Please enlighten us. We can’t knock Australia too much, since we didn’t even try over here.

  8. Mark Belgium says:

    Solving the problem…perhaps this has been suggested before but here I go.
    We have a global carbon budget (around 500Gt). If we equally dived this budget amongst all the people living today, each one of us could “spend” 80.7 tons of carbon. There should be a agreement among world leaders that everything we buy has a double price tag. One figure in dollars en one figure in carbon credit (cc). The cc figure depends on how much carbon was needed for production, shipping, packaging that specific item. Your cc is personal, it can’t be sold, it’s yours and yours alone. It is integrated in your credit cards. If you run out on cc you can only buy things in dollars, meaning carbon free stuff. It is totally up to you how you spend it. So you can decide to be buy imported kiwi’s from New Zealand (with a high cc price but low in dollars) or to buy apples from a local bio farm (higher in dollars but no cc attached). Say everyone’s cc is 10,000 units. You still can buy a car but it will cost you 1000 units. You still can take that flight to Paris for a romantic week with your partner but it will cost you 300 units cc. After a while you start looking at your cc budget, you will make decisions in favor of your carbon budget although on itself it has no value. You will make smart investments to lower your cc spending, like pv panels, a little greenhouse in your garden, insulating your home. You will alter your behavior: getting those shoes repaired instead of throwing then away and buy new ones. You will eat less meat (high on cc), have chickens in the back garden, and carpooling will be in fashion. There still will be a free market, wall street will be in business and the industry can do whatever they want. But investors will know that the cc’s eventually cease to exist and put their money in” low cc” or “non cc” enterprises. As we in the West steadily run out on cc’s the industry realize that there is a huge opportunity in third world countries, they have all these cc’s but not the(real) money to spend them. So a part of the high cc industry start to invest in third world countries and low cc industry will follow because they know there eventually will be a market for zero cc products when their cc run low. Bill Gates still can buy a company jet but all the cc’s will be added to the products he sells. Costumers eventually prefer a green (zero cc) Apple instead of his products. Outsourcing your production will be a bad choice accept if you can ship your stuff with a high tech sailing boat. But local economy’s still will thrive.
    This system of double price tags will give people the power and the responsibility to move to a carbon free economy. The customer will demand zero cc products as they run out of carbon credits. The industry has to follow…and the politicians, all they have to do is to agree on a double price tag.
    The End ( feel free to comment on my little story )

  9. Yoram Bauman says:

    Hello all: I’m an environmental economist who makes a living as a “stand-up economist” and I’m writing to invite feedback on an early draft of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change, forthcoming in 2014 from Island Press. (With a different publisher, my co-author Grady Klein and I have written two well-received Cartoon Introduction to Economics books, both of which touch on climate change issues.)

    We’ve just posted and are welcoming feedback on a second draft of the first 6 chapters (plus Bonus Chapter 7!) on this wiki. Comments are welcome on the wiki (which also has more details &c) and/or here on this thread. Thanks!

  10. Paul Klinkman says:

    I come from a Quaker spiritual perspective.

    Early Friends (Quakers) wanted to do what their spirit Guide told them to do. A butcher told a story of how his Guide wanted him to use honest weights in his business. Nobody at the time (about 1650) used honest weights in weighing out their meat. The butcher argued with his Guide that doing so would bankrupt him. Finally, grumbling all the way, he went down the spiritual road of honesty. In the end he didn’t go bankrupt. In fact, his business prospered because he finally did the right thing, and then customers trusted him and sought him out.

    We want to end climate change and the question is how. The business road to ending climate change might lead to serious success in this quest, but business is a giant risk. Perhaps the biggest risk is becoming another Exxon someday, but people worry about bankruptcy also.

    Perhaps you want to invest toward reaching the end of climate change. Perhaps you want to be management in the ending of climate change. Perhaps you want to be an early adapter customer to see the end of climate change. Enormous business risks are holding you back as only one investor / businessperson / customer. If we could share some business risks with the traditional forthstraightness of Friends, would you be more likely to pursue your dream?

    If you need to maximize your profits in life, okay, that’s where your impoverished life is at. However, if you’re reasonably safe and comfortable in your life, what road does your Guide want you to go down? If you’re going to render unto God what is God’s, and if you were created, how do you plan to do this particular rendering unto God? Just asking.

  11. Mike Roddy says:

    Good one, Paul, but it’s not a true market. More mischief from the gas companies:

  12. Raul M. says:

    Just finished watching an interesting over the air two part series from 2005 named Category7 the end of the World. Spoiler alert, the science indicates power produced by cities affects the heat island trigger form storm intensification. That the power grid should be shut down before the hurricane hits and so reduce the power available to the storm. Such a strange idea. Is it God helps those who help themselves? The divergent ideas power at home is good. Power in a storm is bad. Seems nature uses the power produced by power plants too and we don’t like the results. Ok end of spoiler alert. Enjoy

  13. These thoughts preoccupy a lot of people.

    The traincar doors parted and Claire stepped onto the platform. She pulled her suitcase behind her and the wheels clicked between the tiles. Inside the suitcase were the gloves she had made for Hector. She may as well give them to him now, if she were going to Washington anyway. She looked forward to that moment.

    Outside the station, she emerged beneath a dripping overhang to board the airport shuttle.

    She had asked Father Baxter if to fly was a sin. There is no easy answer, he said. Consult your conscience. Pray for guidance. Is it absolutely necessary?

    She prayed. She had to be sure she wasn’t being seduced, either by Hector or by her own image of herself as important enough to consume more than her earthshare, which this one flight would surely do for years. Father Baxter had said he was beginning to conclude that what was needed was a whole new morality based on the future social consequences of present personal actions. Scarcity of resources was not the problem. Scarcity of moral imagination was. Father Baxter had explained it in terms of the seven deadly sins. They’re all sins of intemperance, he said, of wanting too much for yourself. Lust, gluttony, pride, envy, wrath, sloth, and greed—all sins of wanting too much, of putting your own gratification first. It’s wrong, even when too much is available. The lesson for all Christians is clear. We cannot, as individuals or collectively, continue to indulge our every earthly impulse or desire, even if it is for our own children. We must agree to limits. When we transgress beyond those limits, we harm every individual from that time forward.

  14. Did they quantify the effect? It makes intuitive sense, but I’m wondering if it even reaches the one percent threshold.

  15. rollin says:

    Sounds energy intensive. Wonder how many soaked shirts it would take to make a gallon of water. Better to make a Dune suit to recover your own sweat.

  16. Paul Klinkman says:

    A man was given the choice of going to Heaven or Hades. St. Peter took the man down to Hades where he saw a big banquet table loaded high with every type of food. The people sitting at the table all had six foot forks for arms. They all looked horribly starved. Then St. Peter took the man up to Heaven where he saw another big banquet table loaded high with every type of food. The people sitting at the table all had six foot forks for arms. In heaven the people looked well fed and happy.

    “What’s the difference?” asked the man?

    St. Peter replied, “In Heaven they feed each other.”

    – – –

    How much you personally can cut your carbon footprint isn’t going to matter much, except where other people are willing to follow your example. What counts for the eaarth is how much the seven billion of us collectively cut our carbon footprint.

  17. Paul Klinkman says:

    Granted, our opponents cheat when they can.

    Is that going to stop you cold, or is that simply going to make you modify your strategy?

  18. Spike says:

    Reminded me of the BGS work on Icelandic glacier retreat. Impressive photographic evidence here:

  19. Joan Savage says:

    Converting grid power directly to wind force? Not convincing. I’d drown my disgust in popcorn.

    What may have gotten people curious is that
    it is now possible to estimate the joules in a storm.

    Brian McNoldy, a WaPo blogger, posted a chart last fall comparing energy (joules) and intensity (mph) among hurricanes. “Sandy’s IKE was over 140 Terajoules (TJ, 1 TJ = 1 trillion Joules = 277,778 kilowatt hours), meaning it generated more than twice the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.”

    An MIT professor calculated how many wind turbines it would take to power NYC with all its boroughs, so I borrowed his numbers.

    From that, NYC uses about over 590 Terajoules on average in 24 hours, and is deemed a relatively ‘green’ city.

    So it is impressive to think that major cities consume more energy in a day than major storms release over several days.

    No more popcorn.

  20. Raul M. says:

    Not sure about real quantification. During a scene when the nuclear power plant was shudder down in DC, there was a screen that showed power produced. I’m not knowing if the power produced was in heat released at power plant or that and the cummilitve heat released in its use as well. Loss in lines turned to heat, electric motors making heat etc.

  21. Jeff Huggins says:

    Wow. Can the moderator please explain to me, and to us, why the comment I submitted this morning has disappeared and has not been posted, even though it was received by CP successfully and held back while “awaiting moderation”? Why was it not approved by the moderator, specifically please?

    This is an “Open Thread” that invites us to “Opine Away” — on a progressive website, no less (and progressives presumably value open and honest discussion, debate, transparency, and so forth).

    Please let me know why the comment was dropped. And, along with the explanation (if it has anything to do with the comment itself), please accompany the explanation with the full original comment, so the readership may decide for themselves.

    Thank you,


  22. Ken Barrows says:

    CITW’s novel is available on Kindle. I recommend it.

  23. Raul M. says:

    Being in Florida where it may be to warm anyway, started learning that in early childhood; I tend to fanticize that insulated cookware will become popular as it would take less heat to do cooking and less would be lost to the kitchen. Just thinking.

  24. Paul Klinkman says:

    I have an abortive science fiction short story about the nation of Sargasso. It’s a huge floating wave wall surrounding miles and miles of floating algae beds, a huge energy production complex. Unfortunately, the 90 degree Fahrenheit water feeds hurricanes like crazy. One day a hurricane pops up right over Sargasso with no forward motion in any direction. At about 220 mph it sinks the whole nation to the bottom of the Atlantic, except for my protagonist.

  25. Frank Zaski says:

    Keystone fighters, please spend a few minutes on this even larger tar sands enabler.

    Keystone XL is the best thing that ever happened to the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge (yes, the company that spilled 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands oil in the Kalamazoo River). Keystone has gotten almost all the attention while Enbridge is expanding an even larger tar sands pipeline network with little protest.

    One Enbridge pipeline expansion goes thru Wisconsin, Oklahoma and to the Gulf probably for export.
    Two pipeline flow thru Michigan into Canada and all the way to the Atlantic Ocean for the East Coast and probable export.
    In total, these pipes will carry more tar sands oil than Keystone. (Enbridge will deny they pump tar sands oil. They change the mixture a little and call it light synfuel to avoid attention.)

    Bill McKibbon has noticed. He spoke at a recent rally in St. Ignace Michigan where Enbridge is increasing the pressure in a 60 year old pipe to pump synfuel (tar sands oil) under the Straights of Mackinac. (If this pipe broke, tar sands oil would pollute both Lakes Michigan and Huron especially if it happened under the ice in winter.)

  26. Turboblocke says:

    PK: Well, in a way you’re right, but this seems to me to put the blame on other people. If a single US citizen (average 17.2 tonnes CO2/year)cuts their carbon footprint by 10%, it won’t compromise their survival. Ask a citizen of Afghanistan (0.1 tonnes CO2/year) to do the same and you will most likely compromise their survival. And it would need 172 of them to have the same effect as one US citizen.

    To give some perspective 0.1 tonnes of CO2 would be generated by burning about 45 litres of petrol (gas) or 40 litres of diesel/heating oil. That’s the carbon footprint of some of the poorest people in the world.

  27. catman306 says:

    Presumably, most of the post apocalyptic tales, now written or just imagined, will come to pass, but only in specific places and then only for a short time. Conditions will change rapidly and sustainable whole societies or just villages will prove impossible and then collapse, with the people moving on, or perishing. The world is a big place with many meso and micro climates and the post apocalypse will only last for a few decades or centuries at best.

  28. catman306 says:

    This might be some other good news today (besides Michael Mann’s lawsuit!)

    Harvard Business Review

    The Era of Corporate Silence on Climate Policy Is Ending

    “Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities.” So proclaims the Climate Declaration, a public statement signed by a fast-growing list of U.S. corporate giants, including GM, Nike, Intel, Starbucks, Unilever, eBay, Swiss Re, and even The Weather Channel.

    This new attempt to encourage companies to lobby for climate action is gaining steam. President Obama gave the movement a boost in June when he highlighted the declaration in his big climate speech.

    More companies are taking a proactive role in climate policy, and for good reasons.”

  29. Mond from Oz says:

    Reading the posts here and elsewhere, watching the news, I see clearly that we are headed, perhaps irrevocably, for catastrophic disaster. Achieved largely in the 80 years of my lifetime, we are committed to the destruction of the great forests, to the desertification of the oceans, and the widespread loss of species.

    Of course, we might change direction: we might cooperate, world wide, in rapid reduction of our population (by means other than nuclear war). We might agree to an immediate sharing of unequally distributed wealth. We might achieve an agreement to stop burning carbon.

    We might, we might. What stops us are the defects in the human character that have brought us to the edge of disaster: greed, aggression,cruelty, excitability, and moral stupidity. Original sin, some call it. We need to reflect on the proposition that the seeds of every end are sown in their beginnings.

  30. Raul M. says:

    Once in the years before AC, I started cutting things up to wrap the cookware with so the heat on the stove wouldn’t need to be turned up so high. Needless to say the first response was “what in the world are you doing with my good towels.” My idea though was that if the towels were wraped tightly and well enough away from the burner, it wouldn’t catch on fire. So the second response was “then you go invent that, but not with my towels.” I guess tempers got hot too, in that kitchen.

  31. Joan Savage says:

    Melted asphalt in the UK, too.

    Intriguing that a week of 30C (86F) did it. That temperature alone rarely melts asphalt mixes in the US, but a week of persistently hot weather could be significant, and or a different composition.

  32. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Mike, we never had a tax as most people understand it. We had a 3 year fixed price on carbon as introduction to the trading system. About 400 companies pay it. Rudd has brought forward the floating price by 1 year. The price will drop as we negotiated a deal with the EU but the dropping cap will kick in earlier. The worst part is that he has cut other parts of the package to help pay for it as they are not reducing the compensation to families. The campaign against Gillard was fraudulent as it exploited the word ‘tax’ and the fact that people did not understand the difference between a trading scheme and a tax, ME

  33. Merrelyn Emery says:

    That is brilliant Mark. Spread it around, ME

  34. Joe Romm says:

    Because you post the same damn thing in slightly different language 1, 2, sometimes 3 times a day. In case you didn’t know, that is frowned upon throughout the WWW.

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The UK was also totally unprepared for the recent cold winters. Too much reliance on the ‘Invisible Hand’, I would say. The ‘Free Market’ dystopias will be the first in line for The Collapse, of that I have no doubt.

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Tastes good, too!

  37. Mike Roddy says:

    Thanks, Merrelyn. Not surprised that US media blew it, as always. When Koch or Tillerson calls, they say “yes, sir!”.

  38. Mike Roddy says:

    I’m not stopping, Paul, it’s just that when the oil companies bribe our media and government, they should be held accountable. Dealing with them as people of good faith just brings out the criminal in them that much more.

  39. Brian Smith says:

    This Groening cartoon channels the spirit of yesterday’s Environment & Publics Works hearing perfectly. I watched the nearly 4 hrs. long denialism vs. science slugfest convened by senators Boxer & Whitehouse and came away 2 parts encouraged and 1 part disheartened by what went down. Either way, it was sobering look at how far the entrenched the Republicans are (still) willing to go to lie about the factual science in public.

    The all-star panel of climate experts – Heidi Cullen, Frank Nutter, K.C.Golden, Jennifer Francis, Margret Leinin & Scott Doney – made excellent opening statements.

    The retorts from Senators Inhofe, Sessions, Wicker & Vitter were incredibly stupid & abusive (Wicker is an ignorant piece of work) and their “experts” anchored their arguments in false & cheery-picked nonsense.

    Say hello to economists Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Robt. P. Murphy. These two shills were called out for their loyalty to their respective Koch backed employers, the Manhattan Institute & the Institute For Energy Research. Then Roger Pielke Jr. and the abominable Dr. Roy Spencer. Senator Whitehouse made Spencer admit that he claimed he could show more scientific evidence for intelligent design than can be shown for evolution.

    You can peruse the testimony here:

    My takeaways:
    • Senate climate hawks are not backing down & are wearing down the opposition, but are locked into the he said/she said debate format of hearings which only spurs the deniers on.
    • The only solution to the deadlock there is to replace as many Republicans in House & Senate as possible in 2014.
    • Grassroots climate action needs to shift strongly to defeating denialist candidates in every district and
    • If we fail to do this we are well and truly screwed.

    See also: Elliot Negin’s excellent Huff Post follow-up piece,

    “Koch-Funded Climate Contrarians Make Mischief on Capitol Hill”:

  40. Mike Roddy says:

    Let’s see if any of these companies insists on rapid decarbonization of power production, including closure of fossil fuel plants on accelerated timescales.

    If they get on board for that, I’ll pay attention to them. We already know they’re switching lightbulbs etc.

  41. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Interesting ideas. A ‘cc’ market would, indeed be a real ‘Free Market’ because market power is distributed equally. There must be no trading in ‘cc’s, as you say, or the parasites, speculators and rentiers will bastardise it and turn it into a capitalist market, the opposite of a really ‘free market’.

  42. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Not in everybody’s character, Mond. Just in the worst of our species, creatures who capitalism enthrones. The solution seems glaringly simple to me.

  43. BobbyL says:

    Enbridge is trying to expedite the Army Corps of Engineers review of its proposed 600-mile Flanagan South pipeline from Illinois to Oklahoma.
    A session [open house hosted by Enbridge] Tuesday in Marshall [Missouri], 90 miles east of Kansas City, drew a handful of Sierra Club protesters armed with fliers denouncing what’s been called one of the country’s costliest oil spills. It also attracted local politicians, concerned landowners and prospective pipefitters looking for work.”

  44. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It looks like Greenwash to me. Until capitalism becomes something else, by renouncing profit maximisation as its core concept, and embraces steady-state economics, rather than endless, neoplastic, growth (in other words, abolishes itself), I simply do not trust them.

  45. Jeff Huggins says:

    Joe, I will try to submit the same comment one week from today in the Open Thread, “Opine away!”, and I won’t submit any other comments all week. Then, I’ll hope that you will respond to the substance of the idea itself. (If you don’t, that’s up to you of course.) I will reduce my frequency but will assume, hope, and expect, then, that you will run the comments, each one of which presents the idea and reasons in a different way anyhow. So, please count on the same comment (the one I submitted today) in next week’s Open Thread.

    (As I mentioned earlier, if you have a problem with that specific comment, please let me know specifically what it is, and run it so the audience can judge.)



  46. Brian Smith says:

    Intrigued, but not quite getting it. I have a card with 1000 cc to buy a car, govt. issued. The seller takes my 1000cc and … redeems it for dollars? or uses the ccs to pay his own bills? How would banking be affected?

  47. Raul M. says:

    Thanks Joan, terajoules, so if the average is 25% efficiency from power plant to product with 75% being lost to heat conversion then what is the average loss of energy to heat per day in NYC? Then there is the amount to calculate that could be not captured by rooftops if painted the heat reflective white. As heat is a measure for the intensification of storms, then there is something to go with concerning why we won’t like the answer per say.

  48. Sad man says:

    We’re fucked… I’ve come to accept that now. But what do we do in the mean time as we watch the shit slowly hit the fan?

  49. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Not entirely Mike. It was widely called a tax as part of the ‘get Gillard’ campaign so they just followed that usage, ME

  50. Paul Magnus says:

    interesting. I dont think people will buy it. The next hurdle is convincing people that they wont be able to take that holiday abroad; or buy that new car; or pop out to the supermarket on a whim in an SUV.

    People do not accept that the consequences of GW are serious enough to curtail current behaviour. And even as the realization dawns upon them they will be very reluctant to change anyway.

    This is why we probably had some failed civilization in past. The citizens just kept on digging.

  51. Paul Magnus says:

    Heres interesting comment on whats going on…

    Hedges: We Must Grasp Reality to Build Effective Resistance

  52. Paul Magnus says:

    Japan has coped well with the shutting down of their nuclear power plants. People can adjust. Add in solar panels on buildings and solar farms near by and some hydro and things could work. People could use modified exercise bikes to power their TVs :)

  53. Paul Magnus says:

    a very very good article….

    Henry Aubin: Runaway train is a metaphor for global warning
    In the aftermath of the Lac-Mégantic hell, almost all the reform talk is about regulations. There are demands for rules to ensure more workers on trains. To improve the brakes on rail cars. To thicken the shells of tanker cars.

    Governments in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere won’t act until public opinion forces them.

    Western society might be the most educated, science-sophisticated society in world history, and polls might show that most of us grasp the effect of fossil fuels on climate change. The problem, however, is that all kinds of rationalizations keep public opinion from wanting to make sacrifices in lifestyle that are necessary to halt climate change:

  54. catman306 says:

    The trick that will work is to get those ten big wealthy families to see reality and also sign off on this recognition that climate change is real and caused by burning fossil fuel.

    What kind of magic can make this happen? What will make them divest and invest so a planet might have a livable future?

  55. Mark Belgium says:

    Brian, when you use your 1000 cc’s to buy a car the 1000 cc’s will be removed from your card for ever, they’re gone.

  56. J4Zonian says:

    I think the idea is not that the ccs get traded but that like fossil fuel itself it gets used once and is then used up. No one gets it, it’s paid for and then the ccs disappear.

  57. Will Fox says:

    Bernie Sanders, one of the few U.S. politicians I genuinely admire:

  58. Mark Belgium says:

    To make it more specific: you have the choice to buy a new petrol engine car for 25,000 dollars/ 1000cc’s, or you can buy a 35,000 dollar electric car/300cc’s. When you run out on cc’s the only car you can buy will be a used electric car. The cc’s can’t be transferred, the can only be removed from your personal carbon budget. On average, if we keep consuming as we do, we, in the west, will run out on cc’s in 4 to 8 years. If you are smart you can extend that period of time (in which you can buy carbon based consumer goods).

  59. J4Zonian says:

    So we decide on what total carbon footprint humanity can have, divide it by 7 billion and that’s how much each person gets to use. Nobody gets to use more…nobody. If they can’t afford to buy that much they get it for free as long as they spend it on necessities, efficiency or improvements that move them or others away from carbon. If they don’t use it their community gets the leftover to make infrastructure improvements that help move us away from carbon. Like a cap and dividend the total amount gets lowered every year.

  60. Will Fox says:

    EXCELLENT article in the Guardian –

    Economists forecast the end of growth

    Unlimited GDP growth is over as we enter a new age of resource scarcity – we must transition to a new economy

  61. Mark Belgium says:

    Paul, I will reply with a quote from Kevin Anderson:
    “Brazilian philosopher and politician Robert
    Unger captured the essence of our challenge when he observed: ‘At every
    level the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the
    clarity and the imagination that it could be different.’
    The one thing we know about the future with climate change is that it
    will be different. If we do nothing, we will be hit by devastating impacts
    and unmanageable adaptation needs. If we choose to mitigate to avoid
    the worst, the mitigation will have to be very significant. The future is
    almost beyond what we can imagine, what we have ever seen before.
    Therefore, our role now is to think differently, to achieve greater clarity,
    to foster a greater imagination and to no longer keep saying that it is
    impossible. We must make the impossible possible.
    There is real hope, but that hope reduces significantly each day.”

  62. Mark Belgium says:

    Today, the 21 of July, we Belgians will have a new king, king Phillip. He is granted a salary of 900,000 euro a year but in my story he only has 10,000 cc’s to spend. Makes me feel good.

  63. prokaryotes says:

    Could Photosynthesis Be Our Best Defense Against Climate Change?

    Johannes Lehmann, a professor of agricultural science at Cornell, is one of the world’s foremost experts on biochar. He has calculated that if biochar were added to 10 percent of global cropland, it would store 29 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent—an amount roughly equal to humanity’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. This approach would take advantage of a physical reality often overlooked in climate policy discussions: the capacity of the Earth’s plants and soils to serve as a climate “sink,” absorbing carbon that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere and accelerate global warming. Oceans have been the most important sink to date, but their absorption of CO2 is acidifying the sea—threatening the marine food chain—and raising water temperatures, which is causing sea levels to rise (because warm water expands). Meanwhile, the Earth’s plants and soils already hold three times as much carbon as the atmosphere does, and scientists believe that they could hold a great deal more without upsetting the balance of natural systems.

    By contrast, biochar and other photosynthesis-based methods of carbon extraction take advantage of natural processes that already help to regulate planetary health. “What we’re really doing is bio-mimicry of fire,” says Dr. David Shearer, CEO of Full Circle Biochar, the company that designed and built the kiln Lehmann uses at Cornell. According to Shearer:

    “Historically it was fire that helped drive the carbon cycle on Earth, burning plants and trees and returning their embedded carbon to the soil in the form of charcoal. Contemporary societies have greatly restricted the use of fire. Producing biochar is a way to begin restoring the proper balance by catalyzing soil regeneration through the addition of biochar to soils.”

    Unlike CCS, biochar does not assume continued burning of fossil fuel. Rather, its feed stocks are waste materials that normal agricultural and forestry production methods leave behind in great quantities: tree trimmings, crop stalks, manure and the like—all of which need to be disposed of in any case and which now often end up in landfills, where their decay releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

  64. prokaryotes says:


    …the Zimbardo study sheds the harshest light of perhaps any research ever done on the nature of power and its pervasive corruptive powers.

    From the standpoint of the guards, the pathology of power led them to exert an “unprecedented degree of control” that was “self-aggrandising” and “self-perpetuating.” Prisoners in the real world want to wrest back some of this control by any means necessary, and so when released, they “will take action to establish and assert a sense of power.”

    While in prison, though, the loss of personal identity and control led the prisoners to adopt the pathological prisoner syndrome a reaction that took several forms of coping strategies. They went through stages from disbelief to rebellion; when these didn’t work, they tried to work the system (the “grievance committee”). When those efforts to gain control failed, it was every man for himself as each tried to find ways to preserve their own self-interests and identity. For some, this meant further rebellion and for others it meant becoming excessively obedient, even to the point of siding with the guards against intransigent prisoners.

    Zimbardo and his co-authors hoped that the emotional and human price of the study would provide a model for improvements in the penal system as a whole. You might not agree with his conclusion, but it’s a thought-provoking one, so I’ll offer it here: “… since prisoners and guards are locked into a dynamic, symbiotic relationship which is destructive to their human nature, guards are also society’s prisoners.”

  65. prokaryotes says:

    Now let’s compare the 0.001% to the rest of us – i guess there are similar dynamics art work

    As the above docu points out, the richest embrace “Ayn Rand” greed and hate against the poorest – denial of an unbalanced unjust system. Possibly a situation which is also “self-aggrandising” and “self-perpetuating.”

  66. Nell says:

    Let’s not let Koch like entities take over our agriculture.

  67. Joy Hughes says:

    Keep fighting. We still have some influence over the degree of fucktedness.

  68. Joy Hughes says:

  69. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    July 21.
    Mark – Interesting proposal. It seems you’re on the road to re-inventing the global climate policy framework of “Contraction & Convergence”, that was originated in ’89 by Aubrey Meyer et al, and that we got tabled at the UN.FCCC in ’96.

    The aspiration to an agreed global carbon budget was part of the inspiration of the UNFCCC, with the question of how it is allocated over time and between nations having been the central contention for the last two decades.

    With respect, your proposal of equal shares of the total budget from the outset lacks practicality, particularly without a trading mechanism. If the per capita shares of an (untenably high) 500GtC total fossil carbon budget were 80.7 TsC per capita, then the average American now using over 17TsC /yr even with stringent self-restraint would likely run out of credits in a decade. After which 320 million Americans could eat only what is being produced and transported with no fossil carbon inputs. That is, most Americans would start starving to death, or support some demagogue reneging on the treaty.

    A second problem is the scale of America’s cumulative emissions (over 30% of the total from <5% of global population), which have risen massively since Pres. Johnson was formally told of AGW, and massively again since the US formally signed the UNFCCC mandate. Govts of the other 95% of global population tend to feel that the US has already wantonly used far more than its share of the viable global carbon budget.

    A couple of observations may help in resolving these conflicting factors. First, the planet doesn't mind who actually emits carbon under a finite carbon budget; what matters is the annual reduction of output.

    If people in say Bangladesh are using 0.5TsC/capita/yr, and the annual global quota were 2.3Ts (80.7TsC /35yrs for a near-zero output in 2050) why should they not sell the surplus 1.8Ts to those who find 2.3TS an utterly impossible constraint ? Doing so fully respects the overall budget, and avoids nations being pushed to elect demagogues and renege on the treaty, and crucially provides a revenue stream to low-emitter nations that could be ring-fenced to sustainable development investments.

    Such an international trading system needs to be very carefully constructed, preferably with a single marketplace where govt's can trade fractions of their annual quota only a spot basis to discourage manipulation. There is no requirement for corporations' involvement at this level, though some states may well set up/continue internal carbon trading regimes. "Tradable Energy Quotas" are one very promising proposal for a national-scale system that engages the public, and is well worth studying.

    Second, to avoid nations burning their whole quota in a decade and then reneging, we need annual global carbon budgets within the overall total. Moreover that annual global carbon budget needs to be 'Contracting', and not a flat rate 1/35th of the total, so it starts higher (near the present output) and contracts to near zero over time. The most efficient course for maximizing the overall rate of change would be an S-bend sigmoid curve, starting slowly and then steepening before flattening out as it nears zero. This matches the early development challenges before getting into steep contraction and then matches the late challenges of ending our most difficult FF dependencies. Again, such a curve of change is fully within the overall carbon budget.

    Third, the negotiability of such a treaty demands mutual concessions: first, over a phase-in period – where national emission rights are 'Converging' from the present GDP basis to a per capita basis, – since it would be futile to demand that America sign up to purchasing over 85% of its emission rights from the outset (this percentage reflects a 2.3Ts quota with 17Ts present usage);
    and second, over an agreement that all nations will gradually recover their cumulative emissions at an agreed rate in a verifiable manner. In resolving the 'historic emissions' obstacle this would greatly advance the treaty's negotiability, while also advancing the date and lowering the level of the peak of airborne CO2 ppmv, assisting both the control of warming and the avoidance of terminal ocean acidification.

    The policy framework of "Contraction & Convergence" is now very widely recognized at govt, diplomatic and academic levels, and is endorsed as the basis of negotiating stance of most major parties, such as the EU, India, Australia, Brazil, African nations' group and China, as well as most minor nations. Shamefully many Enviro-NGOs, possibly under US democratic party influence, still try to ignore it, but this is changing. (See for further info on C&C).

    The recovery of cumulative emissions is nothing like as well advanced in global negotiations, not least because the fraudulent sham of CCS (Carbon Capture & Storage) is still given huge credence and funds by western govts. Its claims of cutting coal plant emissions by 85% for 30% of energy output are a distraction. What is required is Carbon Recovery by the use of native afforestation for biochar and co-product methanol on a scale to steadily reduce airborne CO2 ppmv. Fortunately the recent WRI-WFN study found about 1.6GHa.s of suitable land available globally without impacting farmland. Together with the use of urban and agricultural wastes this could provide enough biomass to restore the pre-industrial CO2 level early next century.

    With both biochar and methanol income streams alongside carbon sequestration fees from govts, this is a potentially massive new global industry offering many co-benefits, but as yet it is still at the stage of discussion and equipment prototype development. In this regard the USA is in the 'enviable' position of having over 70,000 sq mls of beetle-dead forest that is going to rot or burn if it is not harvested and replanted where necessary, implying a major potential lead in the new global Carbon Recovery industry.

    In combination, Contraction & Convergence and Carbon Recovery make up two thirds of the commensurate global strategy for stabilizing climate and avoiding the catastrophic outcomes we now face. Their promotion as components of the requisite treaty seems more urgent than any other campaigns I've seen.



  70. Brian Smith says:

    DESMOGBLOG last Tuesday:

    Keystone XL Scandal: Obama Attorney’s Law Firm Represents TransCanada’s Pipeline in Alaska

    …the plot thickens dammit.

  71. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thanks for posting this Prok, it is not OT but highly relevant and I would hope many here would read it, particularly those who blame the Right, or the greenie-hating crowd as if this was an irreversible, personal characteristic. As Zimbardo, and others before and after him showed, these behaviours are the result of the system in which they find themselves – in an equal structure, nobody is free, ME

  72. Merrelyn Emery says:

    That is, of course, ‘unequal’, ME

  73. Raul M. says:

    Still think changing the top vent plate would make for a different flame and burn time. Vents arranged in a circle to approximate a regular gas burner? Different size vents to lengthen or shorten the burn time? Why biochar could be a start to all my new planters of herbs and vegetables. But I know the old cook stoves had adjustable vents to change the heat and burn time. With biochar it could be just using different configured top vent plates.

  74. Brian Smith says:

    US 7th fleet bombs Great Barrier Reef!

    Just heard on NPR. The planes returning to a carrier on training mission, low on fuel, felt they needed to dump the unarmed bombs. Gee, I wonder if they could have dumped them somewhere else…

  75. This actually is relevant to climate change, aside from the capitalist and Objectivist implications. As the world becomes more of a trap, it becomes more like a prison. the reactions described will be he reactions of a desperate people unable to get out of a very bad dynamic.

  76. 6thextinction says:

    Quite awhile ago, I read we must discuss global warming with assurance to the listener/reader that we can take steps to limit global warming and create a livable world. I must admit though that Hedges’ message is the kind that motivates me the strongest.

    Are we taking part in’s 10 actions across the country this month? Check them out in their website.

  77. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    All that talk of regulations is PR bulldust, to placate the plebs while the memory is raw. Then, bit by bit, Canada’s hard Right ruling caste will drop these reforms, one by one, bit by bit, because they threaten profit maximisation, their God. The Rightwing MSM will conveniently forget that it ever happened.

  78. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    This fits in with Seligman’s research into ‘learned helplessness’, which became the template for various forms of psychological torture. The learned helplessness of a ‘citizen’ in a sham democracy, where existence (let’s not get carried away and call it ‘life’), apart from the empty ritual of voting for near-identical alternatives, then having no say whatsoever in the course one’s society takes, while the money power calls all the shots, and even the most ineffectual resistance is intensively surveilled and, if necessary, disrupted and repressed, is, indeed, like a form of psychic torture. Here we sit, staring near term extinction in the face, and our fabulous ‘democracy’ allows us no way out.

  79. Spike says:

    My main cause for what hope remains is the explosion of progress in renewables and the burgeoning disinvestment process from fossil fuel/nuclear dinosaurs. Even Economics correspondents are beginning to see the writing on the wall:

  80. Spike says:

    Thank you for that quote which is very apt and beautifully written.

  81. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The prime pathopsychological trait of the globally dominant Rightwing elite is generalised misanthropy. Hatred of the other, of other human beings, based on any difference, real or perceived, of race, religion, gender, ideology, sexual predilection etc. The roots of this psychology no doubt lie in some selective advantage conferred when we roamed the savannah, and on the influence of family and peer group indoctrination in the individual. Undoubtedly those with vestigial fellow-feeling for other humans outside the in-group, either voluntarily depart or are expelled, thereby consolidating the group ethos over time. And, in recent centuries, these in-groups have forged an operating system, capitalism, that enables and preferences their type and their ways of being, to the detriment of the rest of humanity and the natural world. Hence the hatred of others, the callous disregard for the ‘moochers’, ‘bludgers’, ‘skivers’, ‘bogans’, çhavs’,’plebs’ etc, the increasing social cruelty, the bellicose geo-political aggression and the undisguised contempt and hatred for those who would defend life on this planet from the depredations of Business. And, of course, in the recent past we saw centuries of colonialism and imperialism with repeated genocides and exterminations of ‘lesser breeds’ coupled with wholesale destruction of animals, plants and ecosystems. The process is entering its end-stage, where we have one chance left to replace this ruling type with something better, or near-term extinction is quite certain.

  82. Solar Jim says:

    Also fuel cells. I’ve been thinking along these lines for years, such as super- efficient DC stand-alone buildings with no need for the electric grid. Thanks.

  83. Mark Belgium says:

    Could my comment be released please? Thank you very much.