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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
Taylor wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
I understand that ARPA-E grant recipients have distanced themselves from geoengineering due to the toxic politics. This situation illustrates the inability to formulate a cogent climate strategy due to the stranglehold of left wing politics over climate activities.


Is there a source for this statement or is this just opinion?
The statement about rejection of the language of geoengineering comes from ARPA-E grant recipients who I have worked with. Others such as the Climate Foundation had an explicit focus on geoengineering ten years ago but have since ceased using that language. I am not sure of their public reasons but I have certainly heard private comment that they believe funding bodies see geoengineering as politically unacceptable. The broad assumption in the climate change movement is that geoengineering is wrong, so groups whose work fits within geoengineering avoid that language.

The second sentence is my interpretation of this situation. Geoengineering is widely (and rightly) viewed as a way to enable continued use of fossil fuels. The climate movement, with its left wing position that we need to decarbonise the economy, therefore sees geoengineering as an unacceptable way to fix the climate, so shuns anyone who advocates it, leading to groups like ARPA-E supporting geoengineering only by stealth. The whole non-debate is mad, since geoengineering is the only way to prevent global economic and social collapse.
Taylor wrote:
Algal blooms present their own irony: We here on the Gulf Coast associate a certain word with 'algae'. "Toxic" but you seem sure that it's left wing politics that are causing ARPA-E grant recipients to distance themselves from geoengineering.
Yes, the sniggering prejudice against algae as a new industry is widespread, partly due to ignorant fear of toxic blooms. Some people even remember Soylent Green. The real irony here is that good algae is the only way to stop toxic blooms caused by fertilizer flowing from the corn fields down the big river and making dead zones in the Gulf. My suggestion is to put ‘run of river’ OMEGA algae farms in the Mississippi, converting fertilizer to algae and then pyrolising it as biochar to add back to the fields where it came from to lift soil yields and fertility.
Taylor wrote:
The Mariner Program is more about biofuel with algae as primary source which if I recall correctly was the base critique from MIT toward your algae proposal.
I first submitted a proposal to MIT in 2013 on Large Scale Ocean Based Algae Production, and then won their Energy-Water Nexus competition in 2015 for my proposal on Tidal Pumping. Links are at https://www.climatecolab.org/members/profile/1232967 The algae biofuel angle came up in the Judge’s Evaluation of my first proposal but I would not call it ‘the base critique’.
Taylor wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Let me give a sadly typical example. Today I was reading an Australian current affairs magazine called The Monthly, which includes an article about the apocalyptic risk of climate change written by a top climate academic from the Australian National University. The article, “The Terrible Truth” by Joelle Gergis, includes a lead breakout quote “To restrict warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the world needs to triple its current emission reduction pledges.”

I was unable to read the article due to the paid subscription requirment, For the sake of my wallet lets stick with open sources please.
There is no need to read the article to understand my point, which is that a leading climate scientist makes the false assertion that the only way to prevent dangerous warming is to triple emission reduction pledges. As I explain, that attitude shows a massive blind spot toward the superior ability of geoengineering to stabilise and repair the climate.
Taylor wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Secondly, is the statement true? The fact is that holding temperature below two degrees of warming might be achievable using geoengineering instead of emission reduction. But the author does not even mention that, so she is lying. The world does not “need” to go down the emission reduction path as she falsely asserts, since tests might show that her stated goal could actually be met more safely, quickly and cheaply by deploying solar radiation management and carbon mining. But that is exactly why the climate establishment is so desperate to prevent geoengineering tests, because it might show their propaganda about decarbonisation is without scientific foundation.


Foundationally this is a sad position given your extensive knowledge of the problem of AGW, if indeed you do/have given an equal amount of thinking time to your positioning.
The sad thing here is the failure to date of climate politics to recognise that removing a ton of carbon from the air via geoengineering is actually better in a range of ways than removing a ton of carbon by emission reduction. Humans have added 635 gigatons of carbon to the air, and are adding an extra ten gigatons every year. As I explain at this blog on climate restoration v geoengineering, this diagram, Climate Restoration v Decarbonisation, sets out the warming problem in simple and clear terms.
Image

There are two baskets of eggs in the diagram, one holding the 635 gigatonnes of carbon (GTC) that humans have added to the air, and the other showing the 10 GTC that humans add to the air every year.

To reach net zero emissions, we must remove 10 GTC per year from a combination of these two baskets. At the moment, almost all the eggs are taken from the tiny basket on the right, reducing emissions using decarbonisation. Almost none are from the basket on the left, climate restoration using carbon removal. The comparison is between removing 2% of the eggs from the big basket or 100% of the eggs from the tiny basket.

Our current efforts are not working. Unfortunately, rather than removing 10 GTC, this year we are adding 10, and next year will add 10.5, expecting annual growth of 15 GTC by 2030.

The current trajectory as it now stands under the Paris Accord means decarbonisation is not contributing to the net zero goal. An alternative strategy to reach net zero by 2030 is to remove 15 GTC per year from the big basket on the left, mining 2% of its content each year to make useful commodities (concrete, food, soil, fuel, etc). That would enable us to remove the political pressure the UN is now putting on the world economy, enabling a technological rather than political focus for climate action.

This new carbon removal paradigm for climate repair has big advantages over the current impractical IPCC plans. Firstly, it establishes methods to subsequently scale up carbon removal even more, so that by 2050 we can be removing 100 GTC every year. The carbon mining industry can grow as fast as aviation did last century. Secondly, carbon mining has far lower cost, conflict and impracticality than the current decarbonisation agenda, so can be achieved much faster. Third, it brings the military and the fossil fuel industries and other potential commercial partners on board as allies of climate restoration. The world should address the security problems of global warming in ways that mobilise the resources, skills, contacts and funds of powerful groups who now see the climate action movement in a rather negative light.
Taylor wrote:
I think that for you it is entirely about gaslighting Christians into thinking that they are somehow defective
Christians who believe that God breaks the laws of physics should doubt their own sanity. A reformed scientific Christianity can provide a moral framework to address climate change, using lines like Rev 11:18 that the wrath of God is against those who destroy the earth.
Taylor wrote:
, I on the other hand would not bother distorting their beliefs in exchange for their cooperation in climate remediation.
There is no need to distort Christian beliefs. The point in relation to Christianity is to reform faith to recognise the scientific back story in the Bible.
Taylor wrote:
gaslighting the left into thinking that they are the ones responsible for the lack of proactive mitigation
That is a pretty weak misunderstanding of my argument here. The responsibility for failure to address climate change sits with the whole world. Only the left are actually trying to do anything about it, whereas the right prefers just to ignore the problem. All I am saying is that the methods proposed to date by the left simply will not work, as they lack a coherent theory of change. So a better approach is needed. That is hardly blaming the left for the problem.
Taylor wrote:
As a charge by the libertarian right, this is again preposterous and just plain defies logic.
It would be preposterous if anyone made that charge, but I have never seen it.
Taylor wrote:
If I had better skills at presentation. I think shooting holes in your 'phase shift' would be the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.
Climate phase shift is not a problem of presentation. You should read the top climate paper from last year on Trajectories in the Anthropocene by Steffen et al. https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252 It explains the climate phase shift as like two adjacent valleys, the cool Holocene valley and the Hothouse valley. Once we shift climate phase into the Hothouse it will be very hard to refreeze the poles to return to the Holocene. Information about ecological phase shift is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_stable_state
Taylor wrote:

https://www.biogeosciences.net/15/5847/2018/ and [url]https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/lJCCSM-05-2017-0104/full/html
[/url]
Diatom blooms are the essential organism required to carry co2 to the ocean floor, they accomplish this in death. The lack of consistent diatom growth as found in these experiments conducted by the South Koreans shows us that iron fertilization is not a proven means for co2 sequestration, it does also show us that more testing will be done with the desired increase in scale.
I completely agree that iron fertilization is not yet proved as a means for CO2 sequestration. That is why the proposal I support, Iron Salt Aerosol, focuses on removal of methane and other warming agents, with the iron fertilization aspect only a secondary uncertain factor, but which still could prove very big.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
I think clarity would be served by continuing to use "emissions reduction" as the term for the insufficient method advocated in the IPCC reports. "Decarbonization" I have taken to mean removing some of what we've already sent up. Perhaps you are now using the latter term in place of the former "emissions reduction" because you foresee a continuing role for carbon fuels once the geoengineering regime begins. Or maybe this use is becoming common generally, I don't know.

I simply cannot see the feasibility of keeping the fossil companies in business until they run out of recoverable carbons. That places an enormous burden on geoengineering that has not proved it has great potential or yet been embraced by private industry. Emissions reduction won't get us to the modest goals of Paris, but it needs to be one leg of the whole approach. I haven't seen where you've addressed our future power needs once we can't rely on fossil fuels.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
I think clarity would be served by continuing to use "emissions reduction" as the term for the insufficient method advocated in the IPCC reports. "Decarbonization" I have taken to mean removing some of what we've already sent up.
Thanks for this important point on terminology.

Decarbonisation is commonly used to refer to a decarbonised economy, not a decarbonised atmosphere. Therefore Decarbonisation means emission reduction, and I am sticking with that meaning. ‘Decarbonised economy’ is defined at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-carbon_economy as “an economy based on low carbon power sources that therefore has a minimal output of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the biosphere.”

Low carbon sources mean renewable energy, so decarbonisation means switching from fossil fuels to renewables like wind and solar power. “Removing what we’ve already sent up” is defined as carbon removal, which is entirely separate from decarbonisation of the economy.

I am proposing a basic conceptual shift here. I find that people involved in climate change policy area often react badly to this on emotional grounds so it is useful to clarify. I am saying that decarbonising the air, ie removing carbon to cut the CO2 level from the current 415 parts per million down to the historically stable 280 ppm, has to be set as the core climate objective. This needs to be radically distinguished from decarbonising the economy, which means reducing the amount of carbon we add to the air each year from the current ten gigatons, down toward zero.

As the diagram in my last post shows, decarbonising the economy puts all the eggs in a comparatively tiny basket compared to the real scale of the warming problem.
DWill wrote:
Perhaps you are now using the latter term in place of the former "emissions reduction" because you foresee a continuing role for carbon fuels once the geoengineering regime begins. Or maybe this use is becoming common generally, I don't know.
I have always used decarbonisation and emissions reduction interchangeably, so apologise if this has been unclear. The continuing role for carbon fuels appears inevitable, with forecasts like the BP 2040 Energy Outlook saying “global carbon emissions continue to rise”.

I see no practical alternative to ongoing rising emissions, from the current annual level of 10 GTC (gigatonnes of carbon) to about 15 GTC by 2030. Therefore the only climate solution is the sanitation model, fixing the problem at the end of the pipe rather than reducing waste input. We should view emission reduction in the context of economic efficiency and pollution control, perhaps shaving the increase to about 12 GTC by tripling the Paris Accord commitments, while addressing the main problem – the whale in the ocean as it were – by directly removing carbon from the air and cooling the planet by reflecting more solar radiation back to space.

This is a paradigm shift in climate thinking which recognises that direct confrontation with the fossil fuel industry as proposed by the green left simply will not work and the only solution is cooperation.
DWill wrote:
I simply cannot see the feasibility of keeping the fossil companies in business until they run out of recoverable carbons.
The technical feasibility arises from the observation that if CO2 and methane in the air are converted into useful products, then we can envisage a future planetary civilization in which all the carbon in the crust is excavated, burnt, converted and stored in the form of biomass, soil, concrete, plastic and other useful carbon based molecules, while the level of carbon in the air is mined to maintain a constant 280 ppm, enabling long term continuation of the stable present Holocene sea level and temperature.

That is a millennial vision that involves a shift in thinking, enabling the fossil fuel industries to shift from treating the air as a sewer to instead treating the air as a mine, and thereby securing their corporate future viability.
DWill wrote:
That places an enormous burden on geoengineering that has not proved it has great potential or yet been embraced by private industry.
But now we place the climate burden entirely on emission reduction, which simple arithmetic shows is just far too small and slow to possibly stop catastrophic warming. Geoengineering is an existential necessity to stabilise planetary security and open a path to planetary repair.

The reason geoengineering has been slow in mobilising investment, despite promising stories, is that the United Nations, reflecting national government consensus, is doing nothing to recognise basic climate arithmetic but instead suggests a complacent and indifferent attitude toward carbon removal, let alone solar radiation management. Almost all the government eggs are now in the emission reduction basket, destroying the business investment incentive for geoengineering.
DWill wrote:
Emissions reduction won't get us to the modest goals of Paris, but it needs to be one leg of the whole approach.
If the whole approach of restoring a liveable climate is like a centipede with one hundred legs, then emission reduction contributes maybe five legs, enough to matter but only marginal to the overall result. The goal of Net Zero By 2030 can best be achieved by relying about 90% on carbon removal and 10% on emission reduction.
DWill wrote:
I haven't seen where you've addressed our future power needs once we can't rely on fossil fuels.
We can and will rely on fossil fuels for the next century as the primary source of world energy, as per the BP 2040 Energy Outlook.

Large scale ocean based algae production on a few percent of the world ocean will be able to use all the CO2 from coal fired power stations as its feedstock, with CO2 shipped around the world in tankers and pipelines in the same way Liquid Natural Gas is now shipped. We will create a circular economy, retaining the benefits and sunk cost infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry while separating most of its emissions from the atmosphere, except in smaller sectors such as aviation. The produced algae will then be refined as energy, replacing and extending the life of coal, as well as other products. Hydrothermal liquefaction on the sea floor could mine phosphate and nitrate from algae, generating a level of global economic abundance an order of magnitude greater than now. All land transport could shift to electric to end the problem of vehicle air pollution.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
LanDroid wrote:
should we vote against Beto just because he also supports carbon reduction?)
Carbon reduction, assuming you mean emission reduction, is a good thing, but it is just the start of a paradigm shift to a sustainable circular economy, and needs to be incorporated into a practical vision where the heavy lifting is done by geoengineering methods. The idea of emission reduction is something to build on, by explaining why it should view geoengineering as a next stage in the evolution of climate thinking, not a competitor to current preferred policy.
LanDroid wrote:
If government is involved, popular political support will be required to spend that money. Many people will fight that; the basic problem does not go away.
The next American President should call for Net Zero By 2030 on the same model as President Kennedy's call to send a man to the moon and back in the 1960s. Explaining the problem in simple terms can enable popular support.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Taylor wrote:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean Just for background on the size of the Caribbean, imagine for yourselves what it would take to organize this one region to work in concert toward mitigation?.
Globally speaking, the Caribbean is small, with less than 3 million square kilometres, less than 1% of the world ocean, about 0.5% of the world surface area. The world ocean holds more than a billion cubic kilometres of water, with surface area covering 71% of the planet. But the Caribbean could be an excellent starting point for the evolution of ocean algae production industrial technology, starting in coastal waters.

Fertilizer pollution is killing coral reefs. All this polluted water could be piped into Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae, the OMEGA systems as proposed by NASA, with the produced algae used to make biochar fertilizer that would protect soils and lift agricultural yields. Once proved in a region like the Caribbean, this system for mining carbon from the air could be scaled up enough to stabilise and restore the planetary climate. Here is a picture from NASA of how this would work. Unfortunately there has been a complete lack of interest in investing in this technology, due I think to subconscious fear of the new oceanic paradigm it points to.
Image
Taylor wrote:
Powermag 2014 geoengineering article covering the pros and cons of geoengineering. In the article we learn that the energy industry does not consider solar radiation as all that desirable, but considers SR as a temporary measure, their main focus is on reduction and renewables development.
Thanks for that link. The energy industry has no interest in Solar Radiation Management (SRM) since it offers few path for profitable investment for them, although in fact it is essential. In the article the leading Harvard Solar Geoengineering researcher David Keith makes the following comment, which I disagree with:
Quote:
“The bitter truth, is that the world’s efforts to cut emissions have (with a few exceptions) amounted to a phony war of bold exhortation and symbolic action. It’s tempting to assert emissions cuts are impossible and that we must look to alternatives like geoengineering. This is double wrong. First, solar geoengineering may reduce risks in the short term but it cannot get us out of the long-term need to cut emissions. Second, to assert that emissions cannot be cut is to take human agency—and responsibility—out of the picture as if emissions were coming from some species other than our own.”

The problem with Keith’s line here is that it just ignores carbon removal, which is quite separate from emission reduction. As I have explained above, carbon removal can actually replace emission reduction and get us out of the long-term need to cut emissions. If we mine a billion gigatons of CO2 from the air, we can keep emitting until all the fossil carbon is converted into useful stuff. The objections to that argument are political, not scientific or economic.

On solar radiation management, here is a diagram I just made that shows the urgent need to re-freeze the Arctic, which can only be done with SRM.
Image
In the Holocene, the frozen pole serves as a reflector of sunlight, but with the emerging Hothouse the melted pole will serve as a heat absorber, amplifying and accelerating the warming feedback by warming up the ocean currents instead of cooling them down. Arctic melting is the primary planetary security emergency that has not yet been adequately factored into warming models. It can only be solved by major powers cooperating to test SRM technologies to keep the North Pole frozen. Emission reduction and even carbon removal are marginal to this urgent phase shift prevention. Unfortunately Trump and Putin want to melt the pole for shipping and energy, ignoring how that will totally destabilise the planetary climate with risk of apocalyptic great dying on the scale of the Permian extinction 252 million years ago.
Taylor wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Good luck AOC and squaddies.
Robert Tulip wrote:
I just say, Just hope that does not stick too bad in the craw.
Weird and again, Weird.
You might think Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has good ideas on climate but I do not. She and her squad of useful idiots are communists, with a focus on redistributing wealth from rich to poor. That is a completely secondary agenda in the face of the real climate emergency. The Green New Deal is a waste of time and money as a climate strategy, diverting focus onto ideas that have no prospect of delivering climate stability and restoration. The key task to prevent a climate apocalypse is to mobilise the military and fossil fuel industries to refreeze the north pole, on a basis of respect for conservative opinion, not hostility.
Taylor wrote:
From the article: Hoesung Lee quote " Our assessment finds that: All pathways limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C require removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (CDR) on the order of 100 - 1000 GtCO2 in this century. CDR has serious implications for SDGs. CDR is a process of reducing the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere by means of planting trees, soil carbon sequestration, biomass energy with carbon capture and storage, and some novel technologies such as direct air capture with storage" ,

This does not read like someone who is excluding any practical means toward climate mitigation, After all we do have to work within the arena that is set-up by industry according to the rules that industry writes and governments protect.
You have to read carefully to see the weasel words in UN language.

First, the IPCC chief says in the text that you quoted that removing 1000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide this century could hold temperature rise to 1.5°. That is a political statement that suppresses the real existential scientific analysis. I have been using carbon as the measure. CO2 weighs 3.7 times as much as carbon. So the 635 GTC of carbon we have already added to the air amount to 2328 GT of CO2, more than double what the IPCC says has to be removed this century. And with future emissions, on the current trajectory the total addition by 2100 would be over 15,000 GT CO2, although of course technology change and economics will mean that figure will be far lower. But in any case, the IPCC carbon removal number looks to be below 10% of what is needed.

Second, the official IPCC analysis massively understates feedback loops. For example, the current burning arctic https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/ ... is-summer/ is sending more carbon into the air and adding to warming in ways that are not factored in to IPCC models. Bottom line, we have to remove ten times as much carbon as the IPCC claims to hold warming to a safe level.

Third, the technologies cited by the IPCC do not mention the world ocean. This looks to be a massive blind spot. There has to be a change in thinking, to focus on converting CO2 from waste to asset. Asset conversion includes biochar but does not include Direct Air Capture or Carbon Capture and Storage, both of which store CO2 without transforming it to something useful. By contrast, ocean algae production uses photosynthesis to convert CO2 into a whole range of commercial commodities. I call it the 7F strategy - fuel, forests, fish, food, fabric, fertilizer, feed.

Fourth, the IPCC head says CDR will undermine poverty reduction by converting crop lands to energy use. That is a false argument, since there are many other CDR methods that will enhance the Sustainable Development Goals, not work against them.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/0 ... own-house/

Excellent free read on the climate apocalypse. Here are some extracts

Quote:
AUGUST 15, 2019 ISSUE
Burning Down the House
Alan Weisman
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
by David Wallace-Wells
Tim Duggan, 310 pp., $27.00
Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
by Bill McKibben
Henry Holt, 291 pp., $28.00

Some accused Wallace-Wells of sensationalism for focusing on the most extreme possibilities of what may come if we keep spewing carbon compounds skyward. Two years later, those critics have largely been subdued by infernos that have laid waste to huge swaths of California; successive, monstrous hurricanes—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—that devastated Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico in 2017; serial cyclone bombs exploding in America’s heartland; so-called thousand-year floods that recur every two years; polar ice shelves fracturing; and refugees pouring from desiccated East and North Africa and the Middle East, where temperatures have approached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and from Central America, where alternating periods of drought and floods have now largely replaced normal rainfall. The Uninhabitable Earth, which has become a best seller, taps into the underlying emotion of the day: fear. This book is meant to scare the hell out of us,

This is our daily denial, which now flies in our faces on hurricane winds, or drops as hot ashes from our immolated forests and homes: growth is how we measure economic health, and growth must be literally fueled. Other than nuclear energy, which has its own problems, no form of energy is so concentrated, and none so cheap or portable, as carbon. By exhuming hundreds of millions of years’ worth of buried organic matter and burning it in a couple of centuries, we built our dazzling modern civilization, not noticing that its wastes were amassing overhead. Now we’re finally paying attention, because hell is starting to rain down.

His dismaying conclusion is that “solar isn’t eating away at fossil fuel use…it’s just buttressing it. To the market, this is growth; to human civilization, it is almost suicide.” He allows that through carbon-capture or geoengineering “or other now-unfathomable innovations, we may conjure new solutions,” but at best, he says, these will “bring the planet closer to a state we would today regard as merely grim, rather than apocalyptic.”

Until he got too busy traveling for 350.org, Bill McKibben, a lifelong Christian, taught Sunday school. Given all he knows, his faith surely helps keep him going. Occasionally, it appears in his writing, such as The Comforting Whirlwind, his 2005 reflection on the Book of Job’s enduring relevance. Believer and activist though he may be, McKibben doesn’t preach, and still uses the tools of journalism to investigate, illustrate, and verify.
In a chapter that begins “Oh, it could get very bad,” he discusses a study in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology concluding that by 2100 the oceans may be too hot for phytoplankton to photosynthesize. (Another study I’ve seen, in Nature, suggests that since 1950 phytoplankton populations worldwide may have decreased by up to 40 percent, correlating to rising sea-surface temperatures.) Just as we fail to realize how much extra CO2 is in the air because it’s invisible, it’s hard to grasp how immense—and immensely bad—this news is. Tiny phytoplankton float in the ocean practically unnoticed, yet they constitute half the organic matter on Earth and provide, as McKibben notes, “two-thirds of the earth’s oxygen.” Their loss, he quotes the study’s author, “would likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans.”
And that’s just the effects from heat.
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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Now the New Yorker has joined the climate apocalypse discussion. "massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it."

Shame Franzen's article is so ignorant. He is incapable of looking beyond emission reduction, failing to see that carbon mining and albedo enhancement can deliver climate stability. None of the sensible ideas get into the mainstream media.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultu ... pretending


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
Now the New Yorker has joined the climate apocalypse discussion. "massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it."

Shame Franzen's article is so ignorant. He is incapable of looking beyond emission reduction, failing to see that carbon mining and albedo enhancement can deliver climate stability. None of the sensible ideas get into the mainstream media.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultu ... pretending


The Battle for a Paycheck in Kentucky Coal Country

newyorker.com/news/dispatch/the-battle- ... =TNY_Daily

" [T]hree hours after the miners started their shifts, they were unexpectedly called back outside and sent home. By Wednesday, their bank balances were negative. They had cashed their paychecks from the previous Friday to pay mortgages, utility bills, and medication costs, and to buy food and gas. When banks realized that the checks were cold, they deducted the money from the miners’ accounts. Some miners discovered that the checks had bounced when they heard from ex-spouses that their child-support contributions—withheld automatically from their paychecks—had evaporated.

"Blackjewel, like almost every other coal company in Kentucky, had not been in compliance with a state law requiring coal companies to post a bond to cover workers’ wages in cases of sudden insolvency. All the mines shut down, leaving about eighteen hundred workers without jobs. (As David Roberts pointed out, for Vox, Wyoming, like Appalachia, is now experiencing the fallout from coal’s decline.) In back wages alone—not counting missing retirement-fund contributions, or all the penalties the company should be required to pay for issuing bad checks—Blackjewel owes each miner, on average, between three and four thousand dollars. (Blackjewel representatives did not respond to a request for comment.)

"On the Fourth of July, Jeff Hoops, Blackjewel’s founder and former C.E.O., who resigned after the bankruptcy filing, sent a letter, written in all caps, to the company’s eighteen hundred laid-off employees. Hoops is currently building a resort in his home state of West Virginia, called the Grand Patrician, named after his wife, Patricia. It will have, according to renderings, a golf course, an amphitheatre modelled after the Roman Colosseum, and four ball fields, including replicas of Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Fenway Park. In the letter, Hoops defended himself from accusations that he did not care about his employees and laid out why he believed he had not received the extension that he had expected from his main creditor or an eleventh-hour loan extension. He did not promise that he would pay the miners what they were owed. “No one is hurting more than me,” he wrote. “I am sick over this and cannot begin to understand why God would allow such a thing to happen.”"

The question is, if a group of these miners shot and killed Mr. Hoops and you were on their trial jury, would you vote to convict? I don't think I could. This would make me a bad human being, I know. But I don't think I could vote them guilty.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
Now the New Yorker has joined the climate apocalypse discussion. "massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it."

Shame Franzen's article is so ignorant. He is incapable of looking beyond emission reduction, failing to see that carbon mining and albedo enhancement can deliver climate stability. None of the sensible ideas get into the mainstream media.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultu ... pretending

Probably this isn't the New Yorker's first entry in the climate discussion. But to your point about effective approaches to cooling us off, I think that "looking beyond emission reduction" needs inevitably to be defined as achieving stringent reduction while also getting serious about other direct means of reducing warming. (Emissions reduction may be insufficient, but it is a direct means of lowering temperature.) You say that ER is only 10% of the solution, but it seems you want to skip it rather than undergo the pain of achieving it. It might seem to make sense to go for the 90% solution, but as strictly logical as that might be, insisting on it could be in effect nothing more than delaying action. It's as though the world needs to step onto the board--reduce emissions--before it can make the dive of geoengineering. And I come back to the need to replace fossil fuels with renewables on the basis of dwindling supplies of fossils. There can be no doubt that this replacement will come from many sources, perhaps including ocean-based algae, but what currently are working are solar, wind, and geothermal. These have become part of the capitalistic solution you promote.

Geoengineering, on the other hand, has not attracted investment and probably won't. There may be a by-product of some climate-control geoengineering that could be marketed, but it's hard to imagine a company wanting to put its capital into such a tenuous venture. We'll have to pay for geoengineering through taxation, I reckon.

As for the vision of using fossil fuels as feedstocks for algae production (if I have that right), well, even coal will run out, and a more destructive industry can hardly be imagined anyway. Is there even any scientific support for your idea? With respect, you are not a professional in a relevant field, so back-up from the science/engineering community is essential.

I credit you with persuading me that removing carbon, increasing albedo, or possibly other measures will be needed, but those are in addition to drastically reducing the carbon we put into the atmosphere in the first place. We don't have a hopeful scenario, I admit.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
Probably this isn't the New Yorker's first entry in the climate discussion.
Or even in the apocalypse discussion. But it is interesting that Franzen headlines his story by mentioning climate and apocalypse together.

I vividly remember from when my parents subscribed to the New Yorker reading Jonathan Schell’s 1982 essays on the fate of the earth, (wiki) about the risk of nuclear war, which led me to become very active at that time in campaigning for nuclear disarmament, a political movement that I now wonder may have been counter-productive in its contribution to ending the Cold War.

Just on that point of the nuclear apocalypse, Franzen says the climate situation differs from religious, nuclear and asteroidal apocalypses in being slow rather than instant. A sudden last trumpet is certainly the main religious myth, but I prefer to argue the climate apocalypse we are now entering is compatible with the Biblical vision, seen as entirely symbolic not literal.
DWill wrote:
But to your point about effective approaches to cooling us off, I think that "looking beyond emission reduction" needs inevitably to be defined as achieving stringent reduction while also getting serious about other direct means of reducing warming.
I know I am a heretic on this, as on many other things, but my reading of the numbers is that emission reduction will make little difference, since if we don’t work out how to regulate the planetary climate we are cooked. And climate regulation means geoengineering, via carbon mining and albedo enhancement.
DWill wrote:
(Emissions reduction may be insufficient, but it is a direct means of lowering temperature.)
No, not true. For a start, cutting emissions only slows the warming rate of increase, and can never actually lower temperature. And furthermore, its effects are often indirect and uncertain. When we switch from carbon to renewable energy, we assume that will cause a reduction of carbon energy use, whereas in reality it often only adds to the total energy stock, driven by aggregate demand.

As Franzen notes, all the world’s efforts in recent years have only seen the growth rate of emissions increase, illustrating how devilishly difficult it is to actually cut emissions, let alone temperature. Europeans pat themselves on the back for shipping their factories off to China, when all that does in net global terms is add both the transport emission and the inefficiency emission to their previous local CO2 output.

The only direct means of lowering temperature are reflecting more sunlight and physically removing carbon from the air. Emission reduction is marginal and worse, since it gives the impression of action without the reality.
DWill wrote:
You say that ER is only 10% of the solution, but it seems you want to skip it rather than undergo the pain of achieving it.
Yes, skip the pain, and only cut emissions when there is direct economic and environmental gain. Just like poor countries are leapfrogging twentieth century technologies in telecoms and power, not in order to cut emissions but because solar is more efficient than a coal grid for villages in Bangladesh, and mobile phones are better than wires.
DWill wrote:
It might seem to make sense to go for the 90% solution, but as strictly logical as that might be, insisting on it could be in effect nothing more than delaying action.
The existential situation is that if geoengineering works we can achieve stable growth for centuries to come, but if it doesn’t work then we face a rapid spiral into conflict and collapse. So geoengineering is the only real climate action, while emission reduction is like phlogiston theory, a false paradigm that seemed plausible for a while but actually lacked any real scientific basis. Emission reduction is not fit for purpose to achieve its stated goal of preventing dangerous warming.
DWill wrote:
It's as though the world needs to step onto the board--reduce emissions--before it can make the dive of geoengineering.
Nice diving metaphor, but completely wrong. A more apt image is that the world is now walking the plank towards decision on geoengineering, prompted by a pack of pirates with swords encouraging us to make the jump. Refusing to jump means we get run through, but luckily in this case the water is probably benign, and once we jump we can swim to safety.
DWill wrote:
And I come back to the need to replace fossil fuels with renewables on the basis of dwindling supplies of fossils.
Not true. If we work out how to use ten million square km of the world ocean (3% of the total sea surface area) to grow algae biofuels, we can constantly recycle carbon between CO2 and hydrocarbons using photosynthesis, a genuine circular economy, while also converting enough CO2 into stable products to restore and maintain a stable climate.
DWill wrote:
There can be no doubt that this replacement will come from many sources, perhaps including ocean-based algae, but what currently are working are solar, wind, and geothermal. These have become part of the capitalistic solution you promote.
Sure these are good, but at the moment fossil fuels deliver 80% of world energy, with no prospect of that share rapidly falling. The best path is to accept that an energy transition is impossible, so instead we must mine more carbon from the air than we use, while also preventing the poles from melting.
DWill wrote:
Geoengineering, on the other hand, has not attracted investment and probably won't.
Ho ho, just like planes and cars were impossible in the nineteenth century. Geoengineering is absolutely necessary if we want a planetary civilization to be sustained, so the question is whether we want to be or not to be.
DWill wrote:
There may be a by-product of some climate-control geoengineering that could be marketed, but it's hard to imagine a company wanting to put its capital into such a tenuous venture. We'll have to pay for geoengineering through taxation, I reckon.
Government role is to create the regulatory environment to enable business investment. With geoengineering that means government has an initial grant role in supporting innovative technology, but in the medium term there will have to be tax incentives, not to stop emissions, but only so emitters gain a tax offset through investment in carbon removal and direct cooling, calculated on the basis of radiative forcing.
DWill wrote:
As for the vision of using fossil fuels as feedstocks for algae production (if I have that right), well, even coal will run out, and a more destructive industry can hardly be imagined anyway. Is there even any scientific support for your idea? With respect, you are not a professional in a relevant field, so back-up from the science/engineering community is essential.
The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory did initial feasibility work on Algae Biofuel in the 1990s, but that led to a biofuel bubble about ten years ago when venture startups could not work out how to make it profitable.

The algae sector is very active, as the current NREL site shows. The difficulties appear due to the combination of the low price of fossil fuels and the problem that algae biofuel may only become profitable on a massive scale, creating a barrier to entry.

My suggestion is that the NASA OMEGA technology should be deployed in rivers to grow algae in bags to recycle nutrient pollution, proving the bag technology so it can then be deployed at sea. I also think that sea floor hydrothermal liquefaction will prove the best way to turn algae into fuel, but again that faces many technological hurdles to proof of concept.
DWill wrote:
I credit you with persuading me that removing carbon, increasing albedo, or possibly other measures will be needed, but those are in addition to drastically reducing the carbon we put into the atmosphere in the first place. We don't have a hopeful scenario, I admit.

Honestly, drastically reducing the amount of carbon we put in the air is as useful for climate repair as drastically reducing the quantity of turds we flush down the toilet – completely impossible, futile and harmful when considered in terms of systemic impacts and life cycle analysis. The only workable climate sanitation methods address the problem at the end of the pipe, transforming CO2 into useful products.

That is why the UN pipe dreams were rejected at Copenhagen, and why the Paris Accord is such a deceptive pile of hot air. The despair on climate is due to this unworkable plan for emission reduction being so aggressively foisted as the only possible solution, and the unwillingness to even discuss alternatives. I am supremely optimistic that we will see a rapid shift in this paradigm.

Here is an interesting commentary on Franzen - https://www.currentaffairs.org/2019/09/ ... nd-useless

It toes the orthodox lie that “To keep warming below 1.5 C, which is the target of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global greenhouse gas emissions will have to fall by about 45 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.” Really we need net zero by 2030, but that needs geoengineering, not emission reduction.

As for its assertions about “the political possibilities of a powerful social movement”, people really need to see that fixing the climate is a security problem for governments, business, scientists and the military to sort out, and emotional kids have nothing useful to contribute except their emotion.

Dumb just gets dumber with the assertion that Green New Deal wealth redistribution will reduce the political backlash from its assault on the established energy sector. The article links to a push-poll purporting to show strong public support for the Green New Deal, but its questions are laughably biased.

Speaking of a novel he wrote, Franzen told the Guardian “Walter comes to feel that coal is maybe not so bad. He sees that we aren’t going to stop using coal in this country, and he asks, “Why don’t we talk about how to do it better, how to do it right, rather than taking extreme positions that feel good but have no realistic alternative solutions to offer?””

That is exactly what people should do, and it is not gloom and doom. The article crows about how the US is using less coal now than in the 70s, but says nothing about how these emissions have just been offshored.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
I vividly remember from when my parents subscribed to the New Yorker reading Jonathan Schell’s 1982 essays on the fate of the earth, (wiki) about the risk of nuclear war, which led me to become very active at that time in campaigning for nuclear disarmament, a political movement that I now wonder may have been counter-productive in its contribution to ending the Cold War.

This may divert us, but are you saying that ending the Cold War and thus lowering the nuke danger was a bad thing?
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
(Emissions reduction may be insufficient, but it is a direct means of lowering temperature.)
No, not true. For a start, cutting emissions only slows the warming rate of increase, and can never actually lower temperature. And furthermore, its effects are often indirect and uncertain. When we switch from carbon to renewable energy, we assume that will cause a reduction of carbon energy use, whereas in reality it often only adds to the total energy stock, driven by aggregate demand.

We're going to have to be satisfied with "lowering the warming rate of increase" in any case. Lowering temperature is so far from our reality now that we'd be stupid to pass up the chance to, say, cut the rate of increase in half. On the demand side, what often seems obvious to me is that if our economies don't become less energy-intensive, we're working at cross purposes. Any type of alternative energy potentially allows an increase in demand, which can mean that pollutants remain stable at best. The elephant in the room is economic growth.

I think that for many people, saying we should not be much interested in cutting emissions is repugnant. We don't have the right to use the atmosphere as a waste pit for our pollutants, only one of which is carbon. Our singular environmental mark as a species is our use of combustion. That singularity has been literally world-altering. We will be judged as a failure if we do not find a way to fuel our economies without so much burning of things. A proposal to increase emissions in order to supposedly mine the carbon later will be judged by nearly everyone to be wrongheaded or bizarre.

Conditioning people to think emissions reduction is unimportant will only disengage them further from caring about the crisis. It will allow politicians like Trump to remove controls already in place, as he has already, incredibly, done. Trump's disregard for emissions hasn't made him one bit more likely to back geoengineering.
Quote:
As Franzen notes, all the world’s efforts in recent years have only seen the growth rate of emissions increase, illustrating how devilishly difficult it is to actually cut emissions, let alone temperature. Europeans pat themselves on the back for shipping their factories off to China, when all that does in net global terms is add both the transport emission and the inefficiency emission to their previous local CO2 output.

Relatively few countries and cities have put in a carbon tax. We can't reasonably claim that at this point we've tried everything, to no avail.
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
You say that ER is only 10% of the solution, but it seems you want to skip it rather than undergo the pain of achieving it.
Yes, skip the pain, and only cut emissions when there is direct economic and environmental gain. Just like poor countries are leapfrogging twentieth century technologies in telecoms and power, not in order to cut emissions but because solar is more efficient than a coal grid for villages in Bangladesh, and mobile phones are better than wires.

Going out on the limb, I'll claim that cutting emissions is always good in relation to the overall effort to reduce global warming, and for the well-being generally of living things.
DWill wrote:
DWill wrote:
It might seem to make sense to go for the 90% solution, but as strictly logical as that might be, insisting on it could be in effect nothing more than delaying action.
The existential situation is that if geoengineering works we can achieve stable growth for centuries to come, but if it doesn’t work then we face a rapid spiral into conflict and collapse. So geoengineering is the only real climate action, while emission reduction is like phlogiston theory, a false paradigm that seemed plausible for a while but actually lacked any real scientific basis. Emission reduction is not fit for purpose to achieve its stated goal of preventing dangerous warming.

We know that we can remove carbon from the atmosphere through giant machines such as developed in Switzerland. But such machines are too expensive to be anywhere close to a solution. Similarly, geoengineering may work, but not to the needed degree of sufficiency. Geoengineering also may carry significant risk to natural systems, a possibility that trials on a smaller scale may not be able to rule out. The problem with geoengineering is that we know that emissions reduction is not enough, but when we turn to geoengineering we're banking on the unknown. I assume that R & D will pick out the applications that don't have drastic risks. Will these also be as powerful enough to meet the need? We don't know. We need to sell these proposals honestly.
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
It's as though the world needs to step onto the board--reduce emissions--before it can make the dive of geoengineering.
Nice diving metaphor, but completely wrong. A more apt image is that the world is now walking the plank towards decision on geoengineering, prompted by a pack of pirates with swords encouraging us to make the jump. Refusing to jump means we get run through, but luckily in this case the water is probably benign, and once we jump we can swim to safety.

You have a lot more faith in planetary tinkering than I have. How have we humans earned this confidence that we can control nature without creating a Sorcerer's Apprentice type of mess? Persuading the public that geoengineering is no big deal will be hard. Giant mirrors in space, a la Andrew Lang, might find acceptance, while ocean iron fertilization might well not. But the reason I say that emission reduction needs to happen immediately has more to do with social psychology and political science than with the ideal strategy. It's the entryway without which the rest won't happen, in my opinion.
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
And I come back to the need to replace fossil fuels with renewables on the basis of dwindling supplies of fossils.
Not true. If we work out how to use ten million square km of the world ocean (3% of the total sea surface area) to grow algae biofuels, we can constantly recycle carbon between CO2 and hydrocarbons using photosynthesis, a genuine circular economy, while also converting enough CO2 into stable products to restore and maintain a stable climate.

Egads! Now it's 3% of the sea surface, not 1%? That would work out to almost 4.5 million square miles, mostly coastal miles, I fear. That is simply unacceptable ecologically as well as economically.
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
There can be no doubt that this replacement will come from many sources, perhaps including ocean-based algae, but what currently are working are solar, wind, and geothermal. These have become part of the capitalistic solution you promote.
Sure these are good, but at the moment fossil fuels deliver 80% of world energy, with no prospect of that share rapidly falling. The best path is to accept that an energy transition is impossible, so instead we must mine more carbon from the air than we use, while also preventing the poles from melting.

If you're talking about the same or greater use of fossil fuels, I disagree. Fossil fuels can't be part of the solution in a strategy of carbon removal. That's a bridge way too far. If we are being realistic with ourselves, we also would face the fact that we can't phase out our nuclear and that in fact we might be forced to ramp that up again.
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
Geoengineering, on the other hand, has not attracted investment and probably won't.
Ho ho, just like planes and cars were impossible in the nineteenth century. Geoengineering is absolutely necessary if we want a planetary civilization to be sustained, so the question is whether we want to be or not to be.

Planes and cars had immediate commercial uses. A geoengineering company can't continue to exist unless someone pays it for its climate services. That wouldn't be anyone in the private sector. My point is that renewables have the advantage of making somebody money while having desirable environmental effects. If there is an alternate industry that will make people money while also being a means of geoengineering for warming reduction, it hasn't emerged yet. I'm all for the government nudge to make that happen, but success isn't certain, of course.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The algae sector is very active, as the current NREL site shows. The difficulties appear due to the combination of the low price of fossil fuels and the problem that algae biofuel may only become profitable on a massive scale, creating a barrier to entry.

My suggestion is that the NASA OMEGA technology should be deployed in rivers to grow algae in bags to recycle nutrient pollution, proving the bag technology so it can then be deployed at sea. I also think that sea floor hydrothermal liquefaction will prove the best way to turn algae into fuel, but again that faces many technological hurdles to proof of concept.

Sounds like good stuff. The part I was questioning, though, was using fossil fuels to build up the supply of carbon to be mined. Does that have scientific support?
Quote:
Honestly, drastically reducing the amount of carbon we put in the air is as useful for climate repair as drastically reducing the quantity of turds we flush down the toilet – completely impossible, futile and harmful when considered in terms of systemic impacts and life cycle analysis. The only workable climate sanitation methods address the problem at the end of the pipe, transforming CO2 into useful products.

My view is that action on the wider scope won't happen without individual engagement with the problem. None of us can practice geoengineering. We can reduce our carbon footprints, though, and such proofs of concern will also increase willingness to push for geoengineering. U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang has both transition to renewables and carbon removal in his climate platform. The remarkable Greta Thunberg (whom I take it you don't appreciate) is also correct in saying that both individual engagement and policy change are necessary.

It might sound great to invoke circular economy regarding products made from mined carbon, but the economy has a mind of its own. We can't assume this industry will happen.
Quote:
That is why the UN pipe dreams were rejected at Copenhagen, and why the Paris Accord is such a deceptive pile of hot air. The despair on climate is due to this unworkable plan for emission reduction being so aggressively foisted as the only possible solution, and the unwillingness to even discuss alternatives. I am supremely optimistic that we will see a rapid shift in this paradigm.

I hope that shift occurs, too. However, I don't see your reason for optimism. Geoengineering requires international cooperation, something the liberal world order was well-suited for. The drift toward hardcore nationalism and authoritarianism doesn't bode well at all.
Quote:
As for its assertions about “the political possibilities of a powerful social movement”, people really need to see that fixing the climate is a security problem for governments, business, scientists and the military to sort out, and emotional kids have nothing useful to contribute except their emotion.

I can't imagine the public standing down to leave the solution to government and business. Donald Trump is always at the extreme edge, but he isn't the only one who might decide that his country can "win" in a warming world, so why do anything? A social movement is needed to put pressure on government to do the right thing.
Quote:
Speaking of a novel he wrote, Franzen told the Guardian “Walter comes to feel that coal is maybe not so bad. He sees that we aren’t going to stop using coal in this country, and he asks, “Why don’t we talk about how to do it better, how to do it right, rather than taking extreme positions that feel good but have no realistic alternative solutions to offer?””

That is exactly what people should do, and it is not gloom and doom. The article crows about how the US is using less coal now than in the 70s, but says nothing about how these emissions have just been offshored.

Coal's day has passed. It was the first fossil fuel in, it should be the first out. Our future will be the earth covered liberally will solar panels and wind turbines. It won't look very pretty. Since that coverage still won't be enough, we'll swallow our qualms and have more nuclear plants.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
I’m just going to take a moment and post that I have great respect for DWill and RT and Harry for the continued success of this conversation. I’m convinced that as far as the internet is involved BookTalk has had the best debate on this crucial issue.

I wonder at myself sometimes, I’ve drawn a conclusion as to the how’s and why’s of AGW yet I’m limited in my concern for the potential catastrophe that AGW presents. As an individual there’s little I can do beyond that which I can keep up with. I agree that the public must demand actions be done, but we are constantly challenged by forms of denialism. I fear what RT fears, climate mitigation at the expense of social justice, Class warfare is a strong deterrent towards mitigation. It is an odd holecard that is being played by a libertarian apologist for whom it seems there is a necessity for the military industrial complex to control the weather. ( a strange horse to place ones money on) We need to help grow a long shot.. we wont...in the short game win and that’s what I’m coming to terms with, but I have little skin to lay on the line, I’m quite certain that those that can afford the high stakes aren’t ready to put the money on the line either.

Reducing pollution is acceptance, It is a start. When 10 runners are at the gate but only 1 leaps forward and continues around the track, it is the smart money that chose that runner that has the instinct to move forward, to move forward at all is progress, it is the winning bet for that race, but is it a winning system over a season of competition?. If your horse is the only one charging from the gate the answer is obvious.

Climate engineering is also in the race but it is little funded and poorly bred, it has nosed past the gate but has failed to recognize that which needs to be chased down and overcome. The grandstands are not cheering on ‘Geoengineer’ because it’s is not a proven underdog, it is not even a bonafide long shot. The breeders look for the sure thing, the gallery looks to win, place or show.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
are you saying that ending the Cold War and thus lowering the nuke danger was a bad thing?
No, of course not. Ending the Cold War brought a significant increase in freedom, prosperity and security for the captive nations and for the world. My point was that the process of lowering the danger of nuclear war proceeded in a completely counter-intuitive and unpredictable way as far as the peace movement’s efforts and beliefs were concerned.

President Reagan placed a large number of intermediate range ballistic nuclear missiles in Germany to match the threat from the Russkies, on the theory of peace through strength. This intimidating action was decisive in destroying the confidence of the Soviet system, as the Russians saw they could not match American military prowess, backed by its economic might. This demonstration of resolve led first to the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and then was a significant factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Cold War ended as a result of western strength, not from the weakness inherent in peace movement policies of nuclear disarmament. The actual successful policy was the opposite of the advice of the left. Now I don’t think US military escalation has been sensible overall, but in terms of ending the Cold War it was the major factor.

We face a similar situation now with climate change, that global warming will be reversed through western strength, not western weakness. Major firms will work out how to make carbon mining a profitable industry in the framework of a well governed business enabling environment. The left-wing siren song of “just weaken your economy by making energy more expensive” offers no hope as a solution to climate change, any more than ‘weaken your security by unilaterally disarming’ served to deliver peace. Decarbonisation will just be ignored by all those growing nations who love burning stuff, while the virtue signalling snowflakes will get to feel smug in their futility.
DWill wrote:
We're going to have to be satisfied with "lowering the warming rate of increase" in any case.
I disagree. It could well prove physically, economically and politically possible to mine fifty cubic kilometres of carbon from the air every year, converting this carbon into useful commodities such as fuel, food, feed, fish, forests, fibre and fertilizer. I call that the 7F strategy. It would rapidly cut the temperature back to Holocene norms, as long as we also reflect more light back to space.
DWill wrote:
Lowering temperature is so far from our reality now that we'd be stupid to pass up the chance to, say, cut the rate of increase in half.
This is a rather perverse case of making the mediocre the enemy of the vital. I was at our local kids “climate strike” rally today, and it was all just pathetic commo rhetoric about closing down the fossil fuel industry and even class war, with nary a word about how that is not nearly enough to stop dangerous warming.

We have two conflicting paradigms, science versus myth, carbon removal versus decarbonisation. The problem here is that the focus on slowing the rate of increase actually is on track to achieve a 5% slowing in temperature increase, from 4 degrees to about 3.8 by 2100, compared to the increase expected under business as usual, far less the 50% you mention. And that tiny amount of slowing comes at massive opportunity cost, diverting urgently needed investment from carbon removal and albedo increase.
DWill wrote:
On the demand side, what often seems obvious to me is that if our economies don't become less energy-intensive, we're working at cross purposes. Any type of alternative energy potentially allows an increase in demand, which can mean that pollutants remain stable at best. The elephant in the room is economic growth.
Increase in demand does not mean pollutants remain stable. Rather, the extra wealth inherent in increased energy use provides the resources to transform CO2 into useful products and clean up our atmosphere, just as wealth enables countries to regulate sanitation to keep shit out of the water.
DWill wrote:
I think that for many people, saying we should not be much interested in cutting emissions is repugnant.
Yes, I totally get that. Emission reduction is the classic example of Mencken’s aphorism that for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. We have to shift our paradigm to invest in industrial transformation of CO2 into useful products, which will clean things up much faster than any effort to reduce emissions. Indeed, reducing emissions can do no more than slow the descent into the maelstrom.
DWill wrote:
We don't have the right to use the atmosphere as a waste pit for our pollutants, only one of which is carbon.
Bringing the concept of rights into this discussion vagues it right out. I suspect the debate will only get real traction when it moves from the terrain of rights into the terrain of interests. Only when it is proved (which should be easy based on evidence) that melting the pole harms economic interests will the major powers agree to re-freeze it. Of course that requires a more enlightened concept of national and commercial interests than Trump or Putin are capable of.
DWill wrote:
Our singular environmental mark as a species is our use of combustion. That singularity has been literally world-altering.
Ever since the time of Prometheus, the Titan whom the story says is still somewhere near Chechnya chained to Mt Elbrus, where an eagle eats his liver every day, only for it to regrow overnight, as the penalty for giving fire to man. And the Modern Prometheus was of course the Frankenstein monster. Another relevant proverb here is that when you are riding a tiger, you don't jump off.
DWill wrote:
We will be judged as a failure if we do not find a way to fuel our economies without so much burning of things.
No, that misses the point. We will fail if we do not work out how to keep and get emissions out of the air. That result can either be achieved by (1) not burning stuff, (2) immediately transforming emissions into something useful, or (3) collecting ambient emissions from the air and sea. I have seen scientists allege that (1) is cheaper than (2) or (3) but I suspect a good life cycle analysis will show the reverse.
DWill wrote:
A proposal to increase emissions in order to supposedly mine the carbon later will be judged by nearly everyone to be wrongheaded or bizarre.
We don’t need a proposal to increase emissions, as BP and others tell us it will happen regardless of what anyone wants. Half the increased world energy use to 2040 will be fuelled by fossil sources, according to the BP 2019 Energy Outlook. Anyone trying to significantly change that trajectory is basically banging their head against a brick wall.

So if we accept that reality of the momentum of the fossil fuel economy, the only way to stop dangerous warming is to remove the excess carbon from the air while also directly cooling the planet, with only a marginal contribution from emission reduction driven by economic efficiency and local environmental demand. The key strategic agenda is to decouple decarbonisation from climate.
DWill wrote:
Conditioning people to think emissions reduction is unimportant will only disengage them further from caring about the crisis.
Such second-guessing of political motivations and priorities ignores the fact that the reason emission reduction is marginal is because the real freight train of global warming involves a problem far bigger than the flow of our annual emissions, it is the whole stock of extra carbon in the air which is sixty times bigger than the annual addition. And remember, even the most ambitious emission reduction ideas can only remove a fraction of the annual addition, while the actual current situation is that the rate of emissions is growing not shrinking.
DWill wrote:
It will allow politicians like Trump to remove controls already in place, as he has already, incredibly, done.
Yes, and there will always be moronic evil toads who cannot look past the wart on their nose. However, a clear-headed analysis of global, national and corporate interests indicates that climate stability should be recognised as the primary planetary security emergency. The climate emergency is not about “rights” but about interests, and will only be solved by investment based on a sound business case.
DWill wrote:
Trump's disregard for emissions hasn't made him one bit more likely to back geoengineering.
That is because geoengineering requires acceptance that climate change is real, whereas Trump seems to insist that the world is flat.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Comments for UN Climate Week

Could cutting emissions be optional for climate repair? This thought experiment is well worth pursuing. It opens the question of which is more risky, “fundamental socio-economic transformation in key sectors such as land use and energy” as proposed by the new United in Science report from WMO to the UN Climate Action Summit, or immediate investment focus on geoengineering using solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal.

My assessment is that the risks of decarbonisation have been severely downplayed, even ignored, in climate discussions, to help determine how well it could mitigate climate change.

Energy innovation has highly desirable economic and environmental benefits, but its climate impact is actually not that big against the scale of the warming problem. By comparison, the potential of geoengineering to cool the planet is much stronger.

How could that be? Consider the numbers. The world now emits about 10 gigatonnes of carbon per year (GTC/y). This annual emission rate is projected to rise by about 60% to 16 GTC by 2030 under Business As Usual. With full implementation of Paris Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), that increase would still be 45%, to 14.5 GTC/y.

My source for these numbers is an article in the New York Times from two years ago (NYT Nov 6 2017). I summarised the data from that story in a blog. Unfortunately, I have not seen anyone much interested in these numbers, perhaps because they show that stabilising the climate by cutting emissions is implausible.

Cutting just 1.5 GTC/y from BAU, that 15% cut in the emission growth rate (60-45) is marginal against the scale of the warming problem, which requires removal of most of the 600 GTC that humans have added to the air. Climate repair needs a practical trajectory to net zero and then toward net negative emissions.

We also have to remember that governments have a history of appalling spin, lies, failure and deception when it comes to climate pledges, for example with the Kyoto Protocol failure and with Europeans asserting that exporting their manufacturing industries to China shows their climate virtue.

“Doubling down” on Paris, as proposed by many climate activists, would mean doubling the emission reduction goal (leaving aside the extreme ideas of the Green New Deal and Extinction Rebellion). That doubled effort would still result in emissions of 13 GTC in 2030, with annual emissions growing by 30% over the 2020s, much worse than now. Or we could try to “quintuple down”: the WMO Report says “Current NDCs are estimated to lower global emissions in 2030 by up to 6 GtCO2e compared to a continuation of current policies. This level of ambition needs to be roughly tripled to align with the 2°C limit and must be increased around fivefold to align with the 1.5°C limit.”

With those numbers our goose is cooked if we continue to just rely mainly on emission reduction. Considering the political resistance against the current level of planned decarbonisation, it is hard to see how an increased level could be possible without farfetched scenarios such as world revolution, economic collapse and oppressive military dictatorship, but these are not likely or desirable.

Most people are unaware how ineffectual the Paris commitments are, how very far they are from achieving the mythical plan to hold warming below 2° C, how difficult it will be to increase the required decarbonisation rate, and what the planetary security risks are of adding 15 GTC per year, especially the accelerating Arctic hothouse feedbacks.

This dangerous public complacency is abetted by the draft AGU statement with its false assertion that nations have agreed to the “well below 2° C” limit and its series of false assumptions such as the fanciful idea of achieving net zero emissions through an energy transition to renewables.

Against that set of problems, how does carbon removal stack up? Sources such as the new WMO report don’t even talk about it in their key messages. It may seem sheer fantasy to say the world could scale up carbon removal in the 2020s to equal or exceed world emissions, using methods such as concrete, biochar, algae and ocean chemistry. Be that as it may, major investment could see carbon removal expand as rapidly as aviation did last century, reducing the need for emission reduction. Unfortunately, the climate policy focus on increasing the emission reduction rate presents a blockage to discussion of such investment.

The bottom line is that emission reduction is nowhere near making enough difference even at double the speed of current plans, whereas carbon removal, together with increased albedo measures, might be a path to climate stability.

Even if net zero by 2030 via carbon removal proves too optimistic, there are massive benefits of embarking upon it as a goal. The effort will generate momentum and trajectory for creation of major new industries, headed toward planetary cooperation to regulate the climate and prevent dangerous sea level rise and other tipping points.

The political barrier seems to be that this transformation of the world economy could only be achieved in cooperation with fossil fuel industries, who alone have the skills, money, contacts, interests and resources to work with governments to mobilise investment for carbon removal. By comparison, the current UN decarbonisation plans will generate strong political conflict, with a great deal of associated delay, cost and rancour, a recipe for a very badly over-cooked goose.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Taylor wrote:
I’m just going to take a moment and post that I have great respect for DWill and RT and Harry for the continued success of this conversation.
I hope everyone has been following the climate news, with the powerful short speech by Greta Thunberg at the UN and the series of high level reports. However, there is a tendency for popular figures to present the debate in black and white terms, when the situation is actually very complex. Our conversations here at booktalk.org have taken up some major issues in climate policy, recognising the complexity, so I agree with Taylor that the continued success of this conversation is a good thing.

This thread is rather confronting. Discussion of the apocalypse is generally seen as completely irrational. Yet the concerns about planetary catastrophe can usefully be assessed in apocalyptic terms, bringing culture into the scientific discussion. The connections of climate science with culture opens up links to religion, philosophy, theology, psychology, politics and mythology. These are all well worth exploring. For example, the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious strikes scientists as hopelessly obscure, but in fact it offers some essential ideas to analyse the psychological intuition of a catastrophic trajectory for our planet and species. So I appreciate the good wishes for the success of this conversation, and hope the ideas here can find broader discussion and impact.
Taylor wrote:
I’m convinced that as far as the internet is involved BookTalk has had the best debate on this crucial issue.
Pretty amazing compliment for a small site and some rather difficult conversations! The debate here has in my estimation been informed, courteous and intelligent, picking up some crucial but neglected themes that deserve to be at the cutting edge of climate policy. As well as the content of the policy discussion, which readers can judge for themselves, the discussion board format enables far better clarity and visibility of discussion than on other platforms like Facebook, let alone compared to the comments sections of articles or blogs. From my point of view, promoting controversial arguments about geoengineering and climate politics, the discussion at Booktalk is a great way to order my thoughts, express key ideas and identify areas of challenge and strength.
Taylor wrote:
I wonder at myself sometimes, I’ve drawn a conclusion as to the how’s and why’s of AGW yet I’m limited in my concern for the potential catastrophe that AGW presents. As an individual there’s little I can do beyond that which I can keep up with.
Unless you want to devote your life to saving the planet, you have to limit your concern to personal issues. I am in a lucky situation that I can focus my time how I like, and I have no barriers other than my personal psychology to freely expressing my views. I have been fascinated all my life by the big issues of how apocalyptic thinking can be grounded in scientific method. That is a natural for close analysis of climate change, which has been one of my main intellectual focuses since about 2007, when I first came to the view that carbon removal should be the main policy priority instead of emission reduction. Seeing the complete avoidance and suppression of this argument has led me to explore various ways to get an audience for it, while analysing the psychological causes of the pervasive inability to debate our existential situation seriously.
Taylor wrote:
I agree that the public must demand actions be done, but we are constantly challenged by forms of denialism.
The rise of climate denial presents a truly fascinating study in the toxic irrationality of mass psychology. I see denial as like a placeholder, an incoherent argument that is advanced only because the left-wing assertion that we should decarbonise the world economy is flatly absurd from the conservative point of view, considering the vast wealth and freedom delivered by fossil fuels. The only way that conservatives have found to avoid the climate debate is just to say it should all just go away. That has been an amazingly successful stratagem.

Denial is intellectually and politically similar to flat earth theory and young earth creationism. Those opinions are all obviously stupid and wrong. The stupidity of climate denial will become untenable as the security and commercial problems of warming become impossible to ignore. At that point conservatives will need to shift their line away from denial. The better conservative line is to say that the fact climate change is caused by man shows that man must stabilise and regulate the climate by geoengineering, firstly by freezing the Arctic and then by mining carbon from the air at scale, in order to avoid the need to cut emissions.
Taylor wrote:
I fear what RT fears, climate mitigation at the expense of social justice, Class warfare is a strong deterrent towards mitigation.
What I fear is that the left wing choke hold on climate advocacy has subordinated the primary planetary security problem beneath a range of ideological campaigns. The only way to fix the climate is to involve the fossil fuel industries and the military in developing new cooling technology. Social justice is a completely separate topic that only confuses the climate issue. Poor people can’t hope for justice if the sea rises by one or two metres.
Taylor wrote:
It is an odd holecard that is being played by a libertarian apologist for whom it seems there is a necessity for the military industrial complex to control the weather. ( a strange horse to place ones money on)
The problem is urgency. Greenland has been white-anted by sudden heat, with the ice turned into a swiss cheese that could suddenly collapse. Once the whole North Pole goes dark the planetary warming feedback acceleration goes exponential. Planetary security demands that the top priority should be freezing the North Pole. It is a logistic challenge on the scale of the Manhattan Project or the moon landing. The next US President should announce support for a global carbon plan to achieve net zero by 2030, relying solely on carbon mining rather than emission reduction except where the switch to renewables has a good economic case. If we don’t take the Promethean challenge to control the climate by managing atmospheric chemistry, the weather will go even more haywire on us, leading to economic collapse and military conflict. Regulating planetary climate stability is the bedrock of sustaining a global civilization.
Taylor wrote:
We need to help grow a long shot.. we wont...in the short game win and that’s what I’m coming to terms with, but I have little skin to lay on the line, I’m quite certain that those that can afford the high stakes aren’t ready to put the money on the line either.
True, but that is because no one has pitched a compelling story for why and how capitalism must implement climate control, shoving aside the UN socialists. Instead, all the lefties like Greta Thunberg call economic growth a fairy tale. The real fantasy is in their idea that stability is possible without growth. Decarbonising would cause economic catastrophe. Carbon mining is a real alternative to decarbonising. Carbon mining can shift the global economy into a new level of growth, exploiting the vast abundance of the world ocean while protecting biodiversity.
Taylor wrote:
Reducing pollution is acceptance, It is a start. When 10 runners are at the gate but only 1 leaps forward and continues around the track, it is the smart money that chose that runner that has the instinct to move forward, to move forward at all is progress, it is the winning bet for that race, but is it a winning system over a season of competition?. If your horse is the only one charging from the gate the answer is obvious.
That is a bit of a cryptic comment, but I am going to interpret it to mean that the whole Paris Accord process is faffing around doing nothing except waste time and money, while at least climate engineering offers hope to reach the finish line.
Taylor wrote:
Climate engineering is also in the race but it is little funded and poorly bred, it has nosed past the gate but has failed to recognize that which needs to be chased down and overcome. The grandstands are not cheering on ‘Geoengineer’ because it’s is not a proven underdog, it is not even a bonafide long shot. The breeders look for the sure thing, the gallery looks to win, place or show.
That is a pretty sound form guide. The trouble with climate engineering is that its only backers are scientists, whose training does not equip them to engage effectively in debate on political strategy. No one has been willing to bite the bullet by recognising that emission reduction offers no hope of climate stability whereas climate engineering is the only path that does offer that hope. “Recognising that which needs to be chased down and overcome” requires identifying and confronting deeply held cultural assumptions that are hurtling the planet toward a climate apocalypse. A theory of change has to focus on forgiveness and reconciliation, to plot a path from A to B, working in cooperation with the fossil fuel industry to solve the climate problem.

There are two completely different grandstands at this horse race. They are living in parallel fantasy universes, betting on nags that are actually running backwards. The Denial Grandstand has been sold the lies that up is down and 2 + 2 = 5, so there is no need to listen to the pesky scientists. The Decarb Grandstand has been sold the lie that we must institute immediate world revolution to transform our economy, infrastructure, land use and politics, so there is no need to listen to those pesky capitalists. Climate Engineering has no grandstand listening, and no big stable of backers, but is the only horse that can win this race.
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