Climate, the science, politics, economics and anything else


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  • This topic has 417 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 6 months ago by Clark.
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  • #75687 Reply
    ET

      I’ve found much of the commentary on various topics on CM’s blog to be informative, sometimes provocative, sometimes nonsense but generally helpful in honing my thoughts. Covid has been the topic I most participated in. There was a lot to unpack in the various discussions. In my opinion, it was mostly healthy discussion in which I found it useful for myself to partake. One very current topic that appears under-represented here is climate.

      So, I’m going to try start a discussion thread about it. I hope to be directed to resources of which I am currently unaware and expand my knowledge. Undoubtedly, if there is any interest in this thread there will be people who agree with the IPCC’s assessment and those who vehemently disagree and many inbetween. If you are expressing a view and refer to links, videos please try to synopsise what is expressed in the videos or links.

      I’m going to kick off with an article on MOA’s site:
      There Is No Will To Fight Climate Change

      The meat of the article is the contradictions coming from the US administration:

      “The Biden administration is now on track to approve more oil and gas drilling on public lands—activity that accounts for a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—than any administration since George W. Bush. Climate envoy John Kerry has balked at the idea of committing the U.S. to a coal phaseout. Politicians who call themselves climate hawks are still going out of their way to make clear that there’s a vibrant future ahead for the companies that funded climate denial, whose business model remains built around burning up and extracting as many fossil fuels as possible. Administration officials, meanwhile, have talked repeatedly about the need to cap warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

      All talk but no useful action and indeed action that is detrimental.
      In the comments below the line most of the view points are expressed and there are some useful links to some good information.

      So, what do you think? All points of view welcome 😀

      #75706 Reply
      Clark

        I intend to be in London with Extinction Rebellion on August 23:

        Climate change must be considered integrally with destruction of biodiversity; the largest living structure on Earth, the Great Barrier Reef, is already half dead, and that die-off all occurred in recent decades. It is well worth reading the article at the third link of ET’s Moon of Alabama article:

        https://theconversation.com/climate-scientists-concept-of-net-zero-is-a-dangerous-trap-157368

        Currently, the two most efficient biofuels are sugarcane for bioethanol and palm oil for biodiesel – both grown in the tropics. Endless rows of such fast growing monoculture trees or other bioenergy crops harvested at frequent intervals devastate biodiversity.

        – It has been estimated that BECCS [Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage – a major requirement of the Paris 2 degree scenarios] would demand between 0.4 and 1.2 billion hectares of land. That’s 25% to 80% of all the land currently under cultivation. How will that be achieved at the same time as feeding 8-10 billion people around the middle of the century or without destroying native vegetation and biodiversity?

        It is worth remembering that the struggle to stop emissions is also the struggle against war and propaganda – all three are one and the same. The wars are almost entirely for control over hydrocarbon resources, and the US military is the single organisation with the greatest emission on Earth.

        – – – – – – – –

        “One very current topic that appears under-represented here is climate”

        Craig’s blog has always attracted a lot of conspiracy theorists, as you, ET, will have noticed regarding covid. Any mention of climate change on the main threads tends to provoke a lot of climate change denial that derails legitimate discussion of Craig’s posts, so moderators quickly delete it before it gets out of hand. Denial is likely to be posted on this thread too, so here are a few of the most often needed refutations:

        • The arctic ice is rapidly melting away; at the current rate of loss summer sea ice will fall to zero between ten and thirty-five years from now. This cannot be fake; dozens of passenger aircraft crews overfly the Arctic every day, and shipping companies and fossil fuel companies are investing in the new shipping lanes and oilfields that are becoming accessible. Diminishing ice conclusively proves that the world is accumulating additional heat. The same is true of sea level rise; it could not be happening without additional heat.
        • The previous point shows that climate change is NOT merely a matter of computer modelling. Simple, direct observation proves that climate change is happening right now, and has been for decades.
        • One of the strongest tests of the soundness of a scientific theory is its ability to predict. In 1988 James Hansen testified to the US government that global warming had begun. Climate science predicted global warming, and that prediction has been thoroughly confirmed in a host of different ways. Claims that in the 1960s climate science was predicting an ice age are merely an urban myth, as has been demonstrated by systematic reviews of the scientific literature.
        • Beware statements such as “3 centigrade increase by the end of this century“. Any increase above 2 centigrade this century will not flatten out until around 2300, at a considerably higher level.
        • “The climate has always changed” – Untrue. The climate has changed before, usually sporadically, but with long periods of relative stability in between. It has never changed nearly as fast as carbon dioxide and temperature are rising now. The whole of civilisation has arisen since the last ice age, and would collapse with any comparable change in climate. The climate 30 million years ago, or just 3 million years ago, is in no way relevant to civilisation’s current imminent danger. Here is a nice little cartoon illustration to provide perspective.
        • “Two degrees increase is insignificant” – Well the last ice age was only four degrees colder, and it brought the polar ice as far south as where New York now is. Boston’s location was covered by a mile of ice.
        • “Increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration is caused by temperature increase, not vice versa” – The first statement is true, but the second is false because each causes the other. That is always the case for any system which displays positive feedback.
        • “Go protest in China” – China indeed produces the most emissions now, but

          (1)  with 17% of the world’s population, China’s per capita emissions are well below the USA’s;

          (2)  Considering historical emissions, China still has a long way to go before catching up with the USA and Europe;

          (3)  Much of China’s emissions come from producing all the stuff us richer nations buy from there; and

          (4)  Around 15% of all investment in fossil fuel extraction comes from the City of London.

        There are bound to be some that I have forgotten; the fossil fuel companies have funded reams of such nonsense.

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        #75732 Reply
        michael norton

          Almost anything that is bad in the environment is caused by just a few things.

          1) population growth
          2) consumerism
          3) greed

          Some countries like India actually encourage increased family size, that is political as a riposte to China and its domination.
          Dumbing down the news to almost the lowest level, the incessant advertising and an imposed modern mind-set of group-think.

          People need to think for themselves, what makes you happy should not be even more plastic crap made of oil/coal transported by oil from China.

          #75765 Reply
          Clark

            On population, there’s very good news. Globally, the birth rate peaked years ago. It is approaching or even below the replacement rate nearly everywhere except Africa. The population is still increasing, but that is because people are living longer ie. a decrease in the death rate rather than an increase in the birth rate. Population is set to stabilise. The causes are generally accepted to be empowerment and education of women and their access to contraceptives, the spreading of modest affluence, and reduced child mortality due to medicine and reduction in poverty.

            However, population had indeed become very high before its increase started to slow.

            But a related problem is increasing. More and more people are eating more and more meat and other animal products. Livestock now outweighs the human population several times over, and farming of animals has crowded out wildlife and the biodiversity essential for keeping the ecosystem in balance.

            Animal products are grossly inefficient in terms of calories and land; several times as much land is needed to derive as many calories from animal products compared with eating plant-based food directly. This is good news in a way; it means that there’s plenty enough land to feed everyone, so long as the richer populations don’t insist upon eating loads of animal products. Governments could help address this with economic incentives; it’s crazy that my vegan sausages cost over twice as much as the meat ones, even though the meat ones require far more resources to produce. But no; governments hugely subsidise animal farming, mostly due to historical reasons and lobbying.
            – – – – – – – –

            Michael, I very much agree regarding greed, consumerism, dumbing-down, advertising, groupthink and imported plastic crap. But media is supported primarily by advertising, so of course it encourages greed with its endless stories about the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous, and dumbs everything down – you wouldn’t want the punters to start thinking critically, would you? They might start spending less money on pointless dross…

            #75797 Reply
            ET

              “People need to think for themselves, what makes you happy should not be even more plastic crap made of oil/coal transported by oil from China.”

              A lot of crap is made in China to be sold in the west commissioned by western companies. The world’s manufacturing base is China because western companies wanted to take advantage of the cheap labour. However, a lot of stuff that isn’t plastic crap is made in China and Taiwan, South Korea, Japan. Most of the high end tech stuff is fabricated in these countries. Again, initially this was to take advantage of cheaper labour. It’s not just China, we import a lot of food stuffs from elsewhere and export our own. 40 years ago my mother succeeded in feeding me very well with what was available then. Mostly seasonal, Irish produced food with some imported things maybe. Most folk were somewhat in tune with what was in season etc. Things like bread were generally baked by local-ish bakers, maybe county wide and similarly with milk with local dairies. Supermarkets and economies of scale have fucked all this up.

              As for China, read post 40 in the MOA article I linked in the first post by someone named d dan. I hope he /she doesn’t mind me pinching some of what is stated.

              “Fun facts about environment in China.

              1. China is the country that grow the most forest (afforestation) in the world [1].
              2. China has the most installed solar photovoltaics in the world (more than the next 3 countries combined) [2].
              3. China is the largest producer of wind power in the world (more than the next 9 countries combined) [3].
              4. China is the largest hydropower producer in the world (more than the next 4 countries combined) [4].
              5. China has the longest high speed rail (more energy efficient than plane or car) in the world (more than the rest of the world combined) [5].
              6. China has the largest green investment in the world (more than the next 4 countries combined) [6]
              7. China produces and uses most electric cars in the world.
              8. In addition, the trends will continue and may accelerate for all the above, and the gap between China and others will keep growing.”

              In the post references to data are given.

              #75813 Reply
              michael norton

                Once the United Kingdom was the workshop of the World, now it seems it is China. But the World/Environment is paying too high a price. China are the biggest polluters, they are re-opening many coal fired power stations, they have taken the handbrake off.
                It is full-coal-steam-ahead for Environmental catastophe.

                #75815 Reply
                michael norton

                  ET the largest forest ecosystem in the World is the Boreal Forests, these spread over Russia and Canada.
                  So the largest forest in a single country is the Taiga of Russia.
                  If the World becomes increasingly warmer and wetter, this biome will massively increase, on its own.

                  #75876 Reply
                  Clark

                    It’s easy to blame China, and if China is to blame, “we”, ie. us in the nations that industrialised earlier and already burned more carbon than China, “we” shouldn’t have to do anything about the problem. So let’s just pretend there isn’t a problem.

                    #75893 Reply
                    Clark

                      15% of world investment in hydrocarbon extraction comes from the City of London, and the UK government still spends more on subsidising hydrocarbon extraction than it does on renewable energy.

                      Then there are the US wars for control of hydrocarbon reserves that Europe and the UK participate in, the US base in Qatar and the UK base in Bahrain – count these in, and UK spending on hydrocarbons is enormous.

                      But expose those wars’ crimes and you’ll end up like Assange. China has no monopoly on repressing dissenters either. If you want to protest in London you’ll need advance permission from the police, or it’s an illegal protest.

                      #75894 Reply
                      Pigeon English

                        a)  I grew up in socialist country and how electricity was charged was totally opposite the way UK does it.
                        First X amount was cheap and the rest was expensive. In UK first X amount is expensive then very cheap.
                        Apart from “Market dogma”(discount on quantity ) and provider’s interest it does not make sense. There is not much of incentive to save.

                        b)  What is more likely?
                        EU + UK + USA honouring (achieving) their commitment or China? I am sure Boris will have the most ambitious program? and all media will report it!

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                        #75902 Reply
                        ET

                          China is also bringing online the most coal burning power plants so it isn’t all good. If on a per capita basis the chinese population were using the same amount of energy we in the west use per capita we’d be f**ked.

                          “If the World becomes increasingly warmer and wetter, this biome will massively increase, on its own.”

                          Indeed, and the warming tundra will release billions of tons of methane and CO2 thus further increasing temps and releasing yet more.

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                          #75915 Reply
                          Clark

                            Pigeon English, (a) is a very good point.

                            #75927 Reply
                            michael norton

                              “If the World becomes increasingly warmer and wetter, this biome( Northern Coniferous Forests) will massively increase, on its own”
                              — michael norton

                              “Indeed, and the warming tundra will release billions of tons of methane and CO2 thus further increasing temps and releasing yet more.”
                              — ET

                              However, the massively increased biome of the Northern Coniferous forests will suck in a lot of Carbon.
                              One of the places, likely to Green-Up, is Greenland, currently there is just one natural forest in Greenland, about twenty years ago the locals started to grow potato and other root crops, the Vikings did some farming in Greenland for five hundred years

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                              #75961 Reply
                              Clark

                                There must already more CO2 than vegetation can take up or atmospheric CO2 concentration couldn’t be rising.

                                An increase of heat this fast is completely uncharted territory; this is what it looks like since the last ice age:

                                https://cdn.antarcticglaciers.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/shakun_marcott_hadcrut4_a1b_eng.png

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                                #75965 Reply
                                michael norton

                                  The usual limiting factor for tree growth is liquid fresh water. So in Greenland the Spring/Summer/Autumn is short, the rest of the year there is unlikely to be liquid water available, so growth of trees will be rather slow. When/if the trees get bigger more CO2 will be taken in.
                                  But the real bonus will be the increase in acreage of plants, gradually evolving to become massive forests. This will probably take many hundreds of years, creeping North from the present tree line. Eventually the extra CO2 will be in living things.
                                  But how quickly, who knows?

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                                  #75991 Reply
                                  Pigeon English

                                    On some posts, regarding energy,commentator named Natasha would advocate nuclear energy.

                                    I am inclined to believe that is the way forward despite bad connotation. Some times Greens get it wrong!

                                    #75990 Reply
                                    Pigeon English

                                      Michael N

                                      talking about trees you might like to watch and get perspective in the following Video.

                                      One of my favourite (science-related) youtubers

                                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqht2bIQXIY.

                                      It will take about 10 Billion new trees (per year?) to offset the USA’s yearly CO2 emission

                                      #76003 Reply
                                      Clark

                                        Grief, don’t get me started on nuclear reactors. The history of nuclear power is a tragedy – “Alvin, if you’re so concerned about reactor safety, we think it’s time you left atomic power”.

                                        Tip: if you want to minimise high level, long-lived radioactive waste, don’t put 97% U238 in your reactors. It’s not a fuel, it’s an impurity.

                                        #76005 Reply
                                        Clark

                                          Here’s what was possible in 1956. A government information film of the construction of the Dounreay Fast Nuclear Reactor, YouTube, 35 minutes. From a bare, remote site to the most complex stainless steel construction ever built, in just three and a half years.

                                          #76018 Reply
                                          michael norton

                                            I do not like Nuclear. Far too long term, far too dangerous. It is normally hyped up by people who work for the industry.
                                            When Hinkley Point C goes live, all any country has to do to wipe out England is to send one Nuclear bomb to Hinkley. That would effectively be the end.

                                            #76034 Reply
                                            Pigeon English

                                              MN
                                              what about 1 Nuclear bomb to London or 1 Nuclear bomb in North sea triggering Tsunami! How about Dozens of Nuclear bombs?

                                              #76036 Reply
                                              Pigeon English

                                                There are 400 + nuclear reactors in the world and about 100 in USA and we are stll talking Chernobyl and Fukushima.
                                                How much of Energy is needed for One Wind turbine and how many turbines are needed to produce energy as one reactor?

                                                #76043 Reply
                                                ET

                                                  If someone starts firing nukes then I think nuclear reactors are the least of our problems. The strategic nuclear posture means any first strike (aside from being MADness) will be multiple missiles with multiple warheads each for fear that many will be destroyed before finding their target. A spray and pray approach. Any adversary seeing those launched will equally launch multiples of their own. We’d have much more immediate concerns than reactors in such an event and as such that isn’t a reason to object to nuclear power. A terrorist strike would be more pertinent.

                                                  The problem with solar is that the panels are inefficient, take up land, only produce during the day and require rare earth metals themselves and have a life span. Once they reach that end of life there is all that waste to consider. Yes it probabl;y can be recycled somewhat. Efficiency is unlikely to increase substantially for a long time yet owing to the innate limitation of band gap. Yes, you can layer different wavelength photovoltaics but currently that is enormously expensive and complex akin to producing computer chips requiring lithography. Solar undoubtedly has a role n places where the sun shines a lot but not really in the UK or Ireland except perhaps in residential settings.

                                                  Wind power has similar issues taking up land, requiring lots of steel and only producing when the wind blows. They also have a maintenance complexity and a life span and produce waste.

                                                  Blue hydrogen production produces more greenhouse gases than a coal power plant producing similar energy.

                                                  Nuclear seems to me to be the only sane answer alongside as much renewable as is reasonable given its limitations.

                                                  #76056 Reply
                                                  michael norton

                                                    There is nothing but insanity with Nuclear.
                                                    Ever heard of Fukushima?
                                                    Hinkley Point C is being constructed in the shadow of 1607 Tsunami.
                                                    Another Tsunami, will come along, one day.

                                                    #76079 Reply
                                                    michael norton

                                                      While the risk of similar (1607) events in the foreseeable future is considered to be low, it is estimated that the potential cost caused by comparable flooding to residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural property could range from £7 billion to £13 billion at 2007 insured values. There has also been concern that the nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Oldbury could be endangered. Then there were the three Storegga Slides, are amongst the largest known submarine landslides. Although some time ago, why only three, was that it or could it happen again?

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