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Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse 
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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:

That clash of interest and ideology makes me think it is just as likely that climate change will be solved by the political right, presenting carbon removal and direct cooling as priorities over emission reduction. Cutting emissions involves social change, and that is far harder to engineer than technological interventions that prove profitable and safe, of which there are hopefully some in the pipeline.

Well, I don't know what the political right is like in other countries. Here, the right has given absolutely no signal that it even considers climate change something to be dealt with. It's hard to imagine the "right" kind of catastrophe happening to snap the right to attention, but that's what it would take. Not everyone on the right is as stupid on the issue as Donald Trump, but still, the shell of resistance is hard. So the left side still looks like the horse to bet on.

Looking at the Green New Deal: 100% renewable energy by 2035? Why even propose such an insane target? Even if the renewable part was dropped and carbon-free was substituted in order to include nuclear generating capacity, 100% non-carbon isn't feasible by then. Similarly, Robert, net zero emissions in 15 years by other means isn't going to happen. We forget how long it took for us to produce the current carbon levels. Fast-backwards isn't an available setting. We'll need to pour massive resources into the solution and still be looking at several generations to reach a partial fix.

I heard Jeremy Rifkin of The Third Industrial Revolution fame talking to a group of university students about getting to 100% renewable energy in two generations. That's still a massive effort but not as fantasy-based. No matter what technology is proposed to revolutionize the world's energy, there is a lack of realization of the degree of government control and coercion that would be needed for this "wartime" type of effort. I thought Charles Lane did an excellent job of pointing this out in his WAPO column.
https://www.omaha.com/opinion/charles-l ... 22458.html

Signs point to making the devil's bargain and reviving nuclear.



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Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:50 pm
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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Just saw this in my GreenBiz email. VERGE will now include a conference devoted to carbon removal. It's a sign that what Robert has been urging is beginning to happen. Companies are getting the math of climate change. In the list of methods and technologies, I note there is no mention of geoengineering, though that could be tucked behind a couple of categories. It's still a scary word for most people, including me I guess.

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/introd ... rge-carbon



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Tue Feb 19, 2019 8:25 am
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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
Well, I don't know what the political right is like in other countries. Here, the right has given absolutely no signal that it even considers climate change something to be dealt with.
Hi DWill, I had been meaning to reply to this comment last week. You are correct that the political right has not engaged adequately on climate change. Denial is just a placeholder while they work out how to respond to the demands to decarbonise the economy. Given that the science of warming is clear, the pressing need is to engage the fossil fuel industries to clean up the mess they have made. I don’t think that means a carbon tax, but rather that these companies should invest in research and development of carbon removal technology, aiming for Net Zero By 2030, together with advocacy of polar cooling. These are the immediate planetary security tasks which can only be performed through the resources, skills and contacts of the fossil fuel industries.
DWill wrote:
It's hard to imagine the "right" kind of catastrophe happening to snap the right to attention, but that's what it would take.
The insect apocalypse should be enough of a canary in the coal mine to show we are in a situation like a canoe approaching a waterfall. It is not acceptable to wait for a planetary tipping point before stepping back from the precipice.
DWill wrote:
Not everyone on the right is as stupid on the issue as Donald Trump, but still, the shell of resistance is hard. So the left side still looks like the horse to bet on.
No, the left is not the horse to bet on, unless it can change its policy. Its proposals for decarbonisation won’t work. While they bicker about politics, the world is burning. The Green New Deal reflects how political ideology rather than scientific evidence has determined left wing policy about climate response. We need the fire brigade at the scene to douse the flames, with immediate emergency responses to cool the planet, working towards climate repair, restoration and security. That is something the political right could well be better at managing because of its better links to the industrial organisations in businesses like petrochemicals and insurance who will need to pay to mobilise quick responses.
DWill wrote:
Looking at the Green New Deal: 100% renewable energy by 2035? Why even propose such an insane target?
Exactly. There are several industrial sectors such as aviation where renewables appear impractical and too costly. The Green New Deal needs to take on the right wing concept of least cost abatement, using market systems to promote research and development of the best scientific methods to remove carbon from the air, and open a broader governmental review of solar radiation management, working with Harvard and Edinburgh Universities to test their respective proposals for stratospheric aerosol injection and marine cloud brightening.
DWill wrote:
Even if the renewable part was dropped and carbon-free was substituted in order to include nuclear generating capacity, 100% non-carbon isn't feasible by then.
With the BP Energy Outlook suggesting fossil fuels will still be around for decades, the effort to ban them faces an almighty conflict. Better to try the ju jitsu method, and take your opponent’s energy to use it in the direction you want. Prove the business case for carbon removal as a way to convert waste to asset.
DWill wrote:
Similarly, Robert, net zero emissions in 15 years by other means isn't going to happen. We forget how long it took for us to produce the current carbon levels. Fast-backwards isn't an available setting. We'll need to pour massive resources into the solution and still be looking at several generations to reach a partial fix.
There I disagree. I think that Moore’s Law will apply to carbon removal, enabling net zero by 2030, if the political will emerges.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
Is there a climate establishment who resist climate restoration for specious reasons?

The situation is that UNFCCC leaders second guess the attitudes of nations through their tactic of not wanting to risk the inadequate Paris agreement by asking for more. With all due respect, that looks like a tactical blunder.

The success of Paris was getting the U.S. and China to get on board and agree that climate change is an issue needing to be addressed. Never mind that China was probably only hoping for a lot of business for their rare earths in making solar panels, at least they were agreeing to act and not just saying "you all made this problem, it isn't ours to fix."

What should have happened next was that countries develop a political infrastructure in favor of further progress, discovering leverage points that can accelerate the response at minimal cost. Instead, due to the Republican-bred Long Recession, we got Dear Leader turning the matter over to the fossil fuel industry. The one opportunity to use up excess business savings on worthwhile investment was squandered due to the narrow-mindedness of the American business community.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Apply Moore’s Law to Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and Solar Radiation Management (SRM) and such a result could be possible, once the animal spirits of investment are harnessed. That is the only way to avoid pessimistic scenarios about sea level rise and related climate impacts.
No other industry has had nearly the steepness or the sustained length of learning curve that Moore's Law named in semiconductors. We need the incentives for investors to go to work and disrupt the Koch brothers like they have disrupted the taxi industry and the retailing industry. But it won't come by way of dramatic efficiency gains. Breakthrough demonstration of new opportunities, probably yes. Huge scale investments in solar thermal, biochar and other new industries, probably yes. But if the process depends on selling investors on a learning curve like Moore's Law, it won't get off the ground.



Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:55 am
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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
Well, I don't know what the political right is like in other countries. Here, the right has given absolutely no signal that it even considers climate change something to be dealt with. It's hard to imagine the "right" kind of catastrophe happening to snap the right to attention, but that's what it would take. Not everyone on the right is as stupid on the issue as Donald Trump, but still, the shell of resistance is hard. So the left side still looks like the horse to bet on.
Oddly enough, I'm betting on the center. The meshing grounds between environmental concern and concern for cost-benefit ratios is a fertile one, and real leaders could move forward in it if they take the initiative. While I may be disgusted by Robert's rhetoric, I would point out that he is looking at realistic answers to a deep and intractable problem.

DWill wrote:
Robert, net zero emissions in 15 years by other means isn't going to happen. We forget how long it took for us to produce the current carbon levels. Fast-backwards isn't an available setting. We'll need to pour massive resources into the solution and still be looking at several generations to reach a partial fix.
I suspect reputable energy economists would agree with you, but environmental economists, not so much. The latent demand for both carbon removal and substitution of more efficient energy is enormous. So far government incentives don't appear to have paid off well, for example in moving people to electric cars, but behind the scenes the progress addressing technological bottlenecks has been impressive. Now the problems mainly await large-scale capital investment, which the world sorely needs right now.
DWill wrote:
No matter what technology is proposed to revolutionize the world's energy, there is a lack of realization of the degree of government control and coercion that would be needed for this "wartime" type of effort.
Without McConnell's Dr. No approach to Obama solutions, command and coercion would not have been needed. We know from many other diversified pollution issues that incentives work fine and commercial operators are tremendously skilled at finding the most cost-effective fixes, once the incentives are in place. If you consider incentives to be control and coercion, then your point holds up, but micro-management is unnecessary.

I am not underestimating the complexity of carbon incentives. You can't give proper benefits for every tree planted and every cow fed seaweed. But approximations are far better than nothing, and approximations are do-able.

DWill wrote:
Signs point to making the devil's bargain and reviving nuclear.
Yes, I think that's correct. Both the need for base-load generating capacity and the ability to kick the waste-disposal problem down the road point to nuclear as an important part of the picture. If I had a hedge fund I would be quietly investing in the sector. But it will also mean beefing up the world's capacity to police nuclear safety and diversion of fuel to avoid the most serious potential side-effects.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
2040 Movie Review

(See here for a version of this review with links)

Damon Gameau is the writer, director, narrator, genius and star of his superb new movie 2040. Constantly friendly, engaging and upbeat, Damon enlists his sweet four-year old daughter Velvet as his model for the comparison between life in 2019 and 2040, with his innovative positive vision of how our world could be transformed over the next two decades to produce sustained abundance and peace, especially through innovative methods to stop climate change. The principle is to examine the best ideas of today to see how scaling them up can address the massive risks facing our planet, flicking between the present and the imagined future.

Damon’s last movie was That Sugar Film, in which he humorously confronted the sugar-industrial complex by switching for a month to a diet of processed “health food” that is high in sugar. The rapid collapse of his health, measured under careful medical supervision, proved how corrupted our advertising standards are when such a dangerous poison as sugar can be marketed as benign on a mass scale. Sugar causes our planetary epidemics of obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer, co-opting our incompetent political systems using the powers of money and instinct.

2040 uses similar analysis to attack the fossil fuel-industrial complex, showing the scale of deception and propaganda involved in maintaining our current energy system with its trajectory to conflict and collapse. Despite this scene setting, the main focus of the movie is positive, on new alternative ideas that offer practical solutions to primary global problems such as climate change, with the philosophy that a solution must be emerging before a problem can be solved.

The two big ideas explored on climate are soil and seaweed. A farmer, Fraser Pogue, tells the story of how industrial agriculture left him with fields with no worms, and how that scared him into adopting regenerative farming methods that can shift massive amounts of carbon from the air to the soil while delivering higher yields and fertile soil and retaining water.

The most important story in 2040 is Marine Permaculture. Brian Von Herzen is the brilliant genius inventor of methods to grow giant kelp on industrial scale in the world ocean to shift carbon out of the air and reduce ocean acidity while solving problems of food, fertilizer and fuel. Damon interviews Brian at his pilot kelp farm, and provides clear simple depiction of suitable places around the world where permaculture arrays could be deployed, such as in the Bay of Bengal and off the coast of East Africa.

The big theme here is carbon dioxide removal, that we need to work out how to remove more carbon from the air than we add, and how this requires practical profitable strategies that work with mother nature rather than against her, using the vast area, nutrients and energy resources of the world ocean. Seaweed forests are the fastest growing trees in the world. The proposed permaculture system will pump nutrients from the deep ocean to create biomass on a scale large enough to help achieve global carbon neutrality by 2040 while feeding ten billion people and starting a path to draw down excess CO2. Marine permaculture should be the start of a pioneering frontier use of the world ocean to restore climate and biodiversity, catalysing investment from governments and the private sector.

Damon Gameau is a card. He films his interview with Paul Hawken, author of the important climate restoration book Drawdown, apparently sitting high on top of a wind turbine, enough to give the viewers a highly disturbing case of vertigo. And his other expert speakers in the movie, such as Tony Seba, Kate Raworth, Eric Tonesmeier and Colin Seis, pop up as midgets sitting on tree branches or with other computer generated imagery, keeping their serious stories entertaining. Other innovative ideas covered include autonomous electric cars and decentralised solar power grids, showing an optimistic vision for how technology can transform our world for the better, through bottom up rather than top down solutions.

2040 is a conversation starter, with potential to help tip us over the edge into recognition of the need for global climate action, recognising that emission reduction is nowhere near enough. A theme I am eager to discuss in this context, having worked on carbon removal ideas for over a decade, is that methods of confrontation in climate politics pose unacceptable risks of proving too small and slow. Climate analysts need to do much more tactical and strategic work on political economy, philosophy and theory of change, for example recognising the urgency of solar radiation management, and the potential for carbon dioxide removal to enable a slower path to decarbonisation than some climate models suggest.

I would like to see the fossil fuel industries engage constructively on ways to transform their business models, but that seems to be a very difficult task. 2040 only mentions Exxon to demonise them for funding the Heartland Institute, showing how badly world politics are now polarised. The difficult but essential question is whether entry points can be found so forces of destruction can be converted into forces for good, for example through tax rebates for investment in carbon removal technology. We need to encourage an end to climate denial and more discussion of climate security problems in the media, while recognising that speeding up the decarbonisation of the economy is likely to only be a small factor in stabilising the climate compared to geoengineering methods.

Rather than using political confrontation, effective solutions often involve dialogue and reconciliation. A provocative theme I would throw into the 2040 mix is religion – opening discussion about how the seemingly obsolete patterns of thought involved in supernatural fantasy could actually still have some power to save us. Old ideas like the Christian myth of the apocalypse could be reconciled with modern scientific understanding to generate political will for action on climate change, building on religious values of faith, love, forgiveness and hope.

2040 is a visionary movie of hope and action. But the fact is, as a review in The Conversation notes, we are in a dire climate emergency, consumed by a vast and fearful blindness that seems unwilling to respond to the danger. The great ideas offered in 2040 may not be enough to solve the strategic security and stability situation facing our fragile planetary home. 2040 offers a framework of thinking, a starting point on this journey of transformation, a recognition that despite our flaws, humanity has the potential to rebuild the earth and restore the climate, finding the courage and honesty to evolve into a stable and sustainable global civilization.

Robert Tulip


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri May 31, 2019 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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