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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:
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Your talk of avoiding costs of fossil fuels reflects the false logic that carbon removal should not be done because it is a moral hazard to the central task of emission reduction.
Quote:
No, it really doesn't, and your astonishing persistence in claiming that it does reflects a complete inability to work with other people and other ideas.
You personally may be unfamiliar with the moral hazard thinking in climate change, but I assure you that it is a widespread primary blockage to carbon removal technology. The problem is not that advocates of new technology can’t work with others, but rather that they are excluded by this sort of pernicious moral hazard thinking which is used to block investment and approvals.
I have already acknowledged and responded to the moral hazard argument. In my terms, the argument is that if NET cancels some of the accumulation of GHG's, then it enables consumers and producers to add more GHG's without noticing costs, and therefore causes them (as with fire insurance leading the insured to behave less carefully) to emit more GHG's than they would otherwise. In effect NET only increases the total amount of GHG's that will be produced, without actually saving the climate.

Notice that if NET is unable to scale up to an amount of removal that exceeds current and future emissions as you envision, say due to commercial or environmental constraints, then the moral hazard argument is roughly correct. I would personally say at this point NET is worth it anyway due to the added time bought, but unless your projections turn out to be realistic, the enabling effects might actually prove worse than if NET were not tried. I would not ask you to proceed on that assumption, but simply to quit treating the matter as either/or and urge getting on with finding out.

Furthermore, if it is as commercially viable as you propose, then the enormous pile of cash sitting in tech company coffers is likely to find its way into investing in the development. There is, quite simply, no impediment. But perhaps investors have seen a few brilliant ideas before, that looked impressive on paper but turned out to have hidden problems. Maybe biochar will look like that in five years, who knows? But oceanic fertilization won't, because it is worth it from the perspective of the public but not from a commercial vantage point.

Robert Tulip wrote:
incentives are not the only driver. The technology for the moonshots did not arise from market incentives, but through the cultural vision of President Kennedy, with his clear articulation of safely sending a man to the moon and back as a moral challenge to show America’s greatness and sense of purpose. The next US President should announce in 2021 a similar Apollo-scale plan to achieve global carbon neutrality by 2030. That political leadership would be the best thing to create incentives.
Or Japan, or China, or Germany. It's possible that such a pathway will be followed for the sake of the technological spinoffs. Just for the glory? I doubt it. The moon-landing policy was driven by notions of a missile gap and a space race with a tough military adversary. Just for the public benefit? Hard for me to imagine that happening in a political climate that cannot accept a carbon tax for the public benefit.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Another big myth in climate change is that because the science is settled on the greenhouse effect, the methods to address it are equally settled. That is a myth in dire need of busting. Climate science is settled, pointing to highly dangerous and disturbing forecasts for the planet, but prevailing responses are woefully inadequate. Discussion about the whole strategic and security policy framework for climate change should challenge the myth that doubling down on emission reduction is the only viable path.
This is one of your talking points whose subtext is that it must be one approach or the other. You know very well that the resistance is coming from commercial organizations perpetrating fraud, but you pretend that the problem is single-path obsession. The truth is that policy discussions within governments are rapidly acknowledging the importance of NET, and the average consumer knows nothing of them. If they are promoted primarily as moral hazard enablers, by the fossil fuel companies, then your dire predictions will be confirmed by self-fulfilling prophecy, because those who acknowledge a problem will also oppose the enablers.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I think the insurance industry may be best placed to broker these investment discussions. With our iron salt aerosol proposal we see insurance, shipping, fishing, tourism, chemicals, energy, mining and banking as potential industry partners.
Sure, they will chip in dribs and drabs. Sell them on the commercial viability, and they will form a consortium to profit from it. In the meantime, it might be smart to quit trashing your allies.

My computer is acting up, so I need to shut down til morning to get it back on track. Sorry, I will try to respond more later.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Harry Marks wrote:
if NET cancels some of the accumulation of GHGs, then it enables consumers and producers to add more GHGs without noticing costs,
No Harry, that misses the key point, that Negative Emission Technology covers the costs of emissions. Carbon removal does more than masking costs, it actually pays for them, enabling a path to climate stability that is compatible with ongoing emissions. Broadly, if we have NETs of 60 gigatons per year, that fully balances the cost of Green House Gas emissions at net zero, while NETs of 120 GT/y would eat into the stock of dangerous carbon added historically. Your analysis applies to Stratospheric Aerosol Injection, which fails to address the cost of adding carbon to the air and allows ongoing acidification and high risk of climate instability.
Harry Marks wrote:
and therefore causes them (as with fire insurance leading the insured to behave less carefully) to emit more GHG's than they would otherwise.
That is true, but it is not a problem. If it costs less to remove a ton of CO2 after emission than before, then the economically rational path is to allow the emission and build a system to clean it up like on the sanitation model.
Harry Marks wrote:
In effect NET only increases the total amount of GHG's that will be produced, without actually saving the climate.
This is a crucial mistake on your part Harry. We can save the climate without cutting GHG emissions, as long as we build a system to remove them from the air, as proposed using NETs.
Harry Marks wrote:
if NET is unable to scale up to an amount of removal that exceeds current and future emissions as you envision, say due to commercial or environmental constraints, then the moral hazard argument is roughly correct.
The moral hazard argument is that NETs are a free pass to sustain the fossil fuel economy. The real problem is that if NETs prove technically unfeasible, then we are in a truly hopeless situation, able to do nothing more than delay an inevitable flip to an unliveable hothouse and collapsed world economy. The Paris Accord can only slow the CO2 increase rate by 10%, like a bath with the tap on and the plug in. NETs are the only way to pull the plug on climate change so should be considered absolutely necessary within any sane climate strategy. The real evil in the moral hazard psychology and politics is that moral hazard reasoning is widely used among climate activists on the political left to prevent investment in NETs.
Harry Marks wrote:
I would personally say at this point NET is worth it anyway due to the added time bought, but unless your projections turn out to be realistic, the enabling effects might actually prove worse than if NET were not tried.
The counterfactual here of not trying NETs is actually quite easy to model – it shows steady escalation of the amount of carbon in the air leading to something like an eventual earthshattering kaboom, as Marvin the Martian famously proposed to Bugs Bunny.
Harry Marks wrote:
I would not ask you to proceed on that assumption, but simply to quit treating the matter as either/or and urge getting on with finding out.
Politically, there is an entirely serious either/or problem, that the UN system and the Paris Accord process are doing almost nothing to promote research into NETs, saying instead that NETs are only a “Plan B” that can be tried “later in the century” in the event that emission reduction fails. Treating emission reduction as “Plan A” is the height of irresponsible stupidity, since all the efforts of Paris have produced a projection that at best can deal with 10% of the problem, whereas NETs could deal with 200% of the problem.
Harry Marks wrote:
Furthermore, if it is as commercially viable as you propose, then the enormous pile of cash sitting in tech company coffers is likely to find its way into investing in the development.
The main constraint to investment is political, that world leaders have not recognised the basic math of global warming, and have barely started to create the enabling environment for commercial NETs. Sure a carbon tax would be an ideal signal, but in the absence of that it would be entirely possible for governments to expand carbon removal tax breaks as Trump has already done. If they just talked positively about the topic that would remove the current barriers to investment.
Harry Marks wrote:
There is, quite simply, no impediment.
Not wanting to be rude Harry, that is an absurdity that fails to see what my friends have experienced in advocating for NETs. People have to tread on eggshells to dissociate their work from geoengineering, due to the immense irrational political hostility on the left that has totally spooked high wealth investors. Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge is the best available path, but my impression is that its failure to provide any funds reflects this hostile political environment more than technical weakness in the case for NET investment.
Harry Marks wrote:
But perhaps investors have seen a few brilliant ideas before, that looked impressive on paper but turned out to have hidden problems.
The real problem is philosophical, as argued by Clive Hamilton in his book comparing geoengineering to Frankenstein, that intervening to manage the global climate is considered to transgress a religious threshold. The absurdity of that argument is that climate intervention is all about fixing up the problems caused by mismanaging the climate through reckless emissions.
Harry Marks wrote:
Maybe biochar will look like that in five years, who knows?
This argument definitely applies to algae biofuel, which was a hot idea ten years ago but has since proved far harder to commercialise using current technology. My view is that the missing ingredient is a critical path to economies of scale. I see algae fertilizer biochar using the Mississippi River as a feasible first step toward an eventual commercial world algae biofuel industry.
Harry Marks wrote:
But oceanic fertilization won't, because it is worth it from the perspective of the public but not from a commercial vantage point.
Actually, the fishing, insurance, tourism and shipping industries will have strong commercial reasons to invest in research on ocean fertilization, but again, they are all spooked by the violent opposition from the UN with its false moral hazard canard.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
…The next US President should announce in 2021 a similar Apollo-scale plan to achieve global carbon neutrality by 2030. That political leadership would be the best thing to create incentives.
Or Japan, or China, or Germany.
Sure, but I still have a soft spot for manifest destiny and the light on the hill. Despite all its sclerotic problems, I think only the USA has the capacity to shift thinking and lead the world on climate change. Even Trump could do it.
Harry Marks wrote:
It's possible that such a pathway will be followed for the sake of the technological spinoffs.
Fostering innovation should be a primary motive for setting a Net Zero 2030 goal. The internet is just a spinoff of American military security investment.
Harry Marks wrote:
Just for the glory? I doubt it.
Humpty Dumpty had the best analysis I have seen of glory, defining it to Alice as a nice knock-down argument. Glory is secondary to security, stability and growth, but can be a useful motivator.
Harry Marks wrote:
The moon-landing policy was driven by notions of a missile gap and a space race with a tough military adversary.
The missile gap claims were always lies. The concept of a space race is entirely about national glory and pride in American exceptionalism.
Harry Marks wrote:
Just for the public benefit? Hard for me to imagine that happening in a political climate that cannot accept a carbon tax for the public benefit.
The carbon tax is perceived by Trumpites as an assault on the economy by big government. So I think a Net Zero 2030 policy would have to be pitched as an alternative to the current decarbonisation pressure, an exercise of enlightened self-interest for multinational corporations, as a way to minimise the political momentum toward taxing carbon. Obviously that raises the immediate scepticism about past failures such as clean coal, but I think it is likely that such a strategy for 2030 would exceed the amount of carbon removal needed to allow continued emissions without a harsh economic disruption.
Harry Marks wrote:
You know very well that the resistance is coming from commercial organizations perpetrating fraud, but you pretend that the problem is single-path obsession.
The resistance to emission reduction comes from commerce, but the resistance to carbon removal comes from single path obsession. Climate denial is an entirely fraudulent tactic, designed only to sow confusion and delay on the tobacco model. Net Zero 2030 using carbon removal offers a far better political path for conservatives.
Harry Marks wrote:
The truth is that policy discussions within governments are rapidly acknowledging the importance of NET, and the average consumer knows nothing of them.
”Rapidly” is an overstatement, since even the IPCC 1.5° report included the complacent moron attitude that there is a lack of urgency in NET research.
Harry Marks wrote:
If they are promoted primarily as moral hazard enablers, by the fossil fuel companies, then your dire predictions will be confirmed by self-fulfilling prophecy, because those who acknowledge a problem will also oppose the enablers.
I’m not sure that I get your point here Harry, but you seem to be advancing the absurd argument that shutting down the fossil fuel industry is more important than stabilising the climate. There is a touch of cutting off your nose to spite your face in that view, since obviously climate stability should be the core planetary security goal. I agree that an eventual shift away from burning fossil fuel is a good idea, and renewable technology is great, but these are only means not ends. Your comment illustrates the severe economic confusion that pervades current thinking about climate change, which in widely argued views sets the politics of building a popular front against capitalism as more important than restoring a liveable climate.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
I think the insurance industry may be best placed to broker these investment discussions. With our iron salt aerosol proposal we see insurance, shipping, fishing, tourism, chemicals, energy, mining and banking as potential industry partners.
Sure, they will chip in dribs and drabs. Sell them on the commercial viability, and they will form a consortium to profit from it.
Cooling the ocean will reduce the intensity of hurricanes, so on actuarial grounds alone should be a key investment for the insurance industry. There are similar direct benefits for the other industries mentioned, especially as a practical alternative to the looming risk of a Corbyn/Ocasio-Cortez world where the path to climate salvation is perceived by governments as involving a direct attack on the capitalist system.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
I would not ask you to proceed on that assumption, but simply to quit treating the matter as either/or and urge getting on with finding out.
Politically, there is an entirely serious either/or problem, that the UN system and the Paris Accord process are doing almost nothing to promote research into NETs, saying instead that NETs are only a “Plan B” that can be tried “later in the century” in the event that emission reduction fails. Treating emission reduction as “Plan A” is the height of irresponsible stupidity, since all the efforts of Paris have produced a projection that at best can deal with 10% of the problem, whereas NETs could deal with 200% of the problem.

Continued growth in renewable energy is still necessary, both as part of the climate solution (even if it has a lesser role than NETs) and, more important, as the means to keep the economy going. It's essential to face the fact that regardless of the fracking boom, oil and gas will run out, and they will probably run out quickly enough that we can't trust in a now-unanticipated technology appearing. Coal, it almost goes without saying, places an unacceptably heavy burden on the environment and on NETs. Solar, wind, and geothermal are the technologies we have successfully employed on a large scale, meaning they have become competitive in cost with fossil fuels. Biofuels will have to demonstrate the same viability, as will NETs. We can't forstall massive expansion in our current renewables because some believe there are better ways to use. If there are better ones, investors will have to nurture them, but right now they are immature at best.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
Furthermore, if it is as commercially viable as you propose, then the enormous pile of cash sitting in tech company coffers is likely to find its way into investing in the development.
The main constraint to investment is political, that world leaders have not recognised the basic math of global warming, and have barely started to create the enabling environment for commercial NETs. Sure a carbon tax would be an ideal signal, but in the absence of that it would be entirely possible for governments to expand carbon removal tax breaks as Trump has already done. If they just talked positively about the topic that would remove the current barriers to investment.

Commercial viability of NET still needs to be demonstrated, and perhaps without such demonstration NET won't have the growth potential to reach the targets for atmospheric removal. But it's also possible that technology will simply improve to the extent that, with the incentive provided by a carbon tax, companies will find ways to make it work much better. Regulation is always part of the picture, too, though free-marketers don't want it to be.

Sorry that I don't find convincing the argument that lack of imagination or vested interest is the whole story behind reluctance to jump into NET and geoengineering. It's sometimes wise and necessary to put the brakes on when visions haven't produced enough in the way of results.

I didn't realize that Trump had expanded tax credits for CR. Good to know.



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Harry Marks, Robert Tulip
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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Harry Marks wrote:
The truth is that policy discussions within governments are rapidly acknowledging the importance of NET, and the average consumer knows nothing of them. If they are promoted primarily as moral hazard enablers, by the fossil fuel companies, then your dire predictions will be confirmed by self-fulfilling prophecy, because those who acknowledge a problem will also oppose the enablers.
That last sentence was unclear, to say the least. Sorry, I was dealing with the computer issue already and more than a little distracted. Taking it a little slower, what I was trying to express was the idea that if NET is mostly introduced to the general public by fossil fuel companies, as in the current algae commercials, then the symbolism associated with them will give them a very bad odor among those who actually consider climate change to be a threat we must confront. This is not because anyone in a movement is trying to portray the fossil fuel companies as opponents of climate action - they do an excellent job of getting that across on their own.

Of course you could hope that the right wing will be overjoyed that they can finally admit the truth about GHG's because there is a market solution to the problem. I would advise you not to hold your breath for that one to emerge.

Robert Tulip wrote:
A 'claim of rational justification' does not mean the statement is actually rational, but also includes rationalisation, deception and the entire panoply of mythological tricks. There are several levels of the causal relationship between ideology and climate change.
Okay, thanks for clarifying.
Robert Tulip wrote:
These days the desire to be a rich pirate needs at least some moral cover in order to get away with it successfully.
Oh, "fig leaves" have been plentifully available for a long time. The ancient Israelites claimed they were dashing children's heads against rocks because the God of Justice demanded it. Go figure.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The factors all combine into a myth, a framework of meaning, a story that enables believers and friends to ignore conflicting rational evidence and claim rational justification. But irrational does not mean illegitimate, since there can be a grain of validity within the dross of absurd beliefs, especially in religion.
Irrational still means irrational, and those who enable the lies are culpable.

Robert Tulip wrote:
It is equally important to note that climate activism also operates at a popular mythological level. The emotional belief in the primacy of emission reduction is particularly resistant to evidence and logic, due to how it is embedded in a shared political and cultural strategic vision of an innovative decarbonised world. While decarbonisation tells a lovely story, its theory of change is impractical, and needs to be negotiated and placed in a scientific framework of carbon removal.
Your claim that its theory is impractical rests on a distorted version of practicality. You impose, first, that such a story is incompatible with Negative Emissions Technology. In fact, of course, an innovative decarbonised world is entirely compatible with commercialized NETs.

I would argue that your claim that it is "resistant to evidence and logic" represents a commitment on the part of environmentalists to accepting lifestyle limits and a humbler relationship to nature. Such a commitment may make them suspicious of anything that smacks of enabling excess, but it also makes them highly suspicious of those who trash talk any notion of governmental response to environmental threats, as you used to do. Notions like "the precautionary principle" that have led to excessive opposition to innovation, for example by Amory Lovins, have also reflected sad experience.

At some point the right will be forced to admit that environmental threats are real and that markets don't solve them. In the meantime they are stinking up the place with lies and calumny. Even if your proposal proves out, and I would be the first to admit that it might, there will be other, less obvious and less concentrated effects from the Anthropocene Era that will not turn out to have commercial and environmentally friendly fixes. The handwriting is on the wall.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The point on which you seem to differ is about how technological abuse asserts a moral justification, deflecting moral concern about climate effects. The only way to rule without consent is direct autocracy, and that remains a long way off in modern states. Of course, consent can be obtained through deception, and that is a major part of the climate change denial story.
You seem to be saying here that only autocracy can overcome popular resistance to climate defense. That is not only fatalistic but false. The theory of buying off those who would be harmed by public action is well explored, and we could get on with it if not for the fossil fuel industry investing in smokescreen instead. Consent for foot dragging has indeed been obtained through deception, and the resulting damage is a major moral offense and should be treated as no less.

As a side note, you claim that autocracy is a long way off in modern states. I sadly disagree. There was an interesting essay in the New York Times about the way the religious right is turned on by Dear Leader's autocratic ways, fooling themselves into believing that he will be used by God to accomplish their agenda.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/opin ... -king.html
I am reminded very much of my conversations with Thai intellectuals in 2005, sharing my concern that the paralysis brought by conflict between rural laborers and educated urban professionals would lead the Army to impose martial law. "Oh, no," I was told, "they learned their lesson last time" (meaning in the early 90s.) Within a year martial law was the reality in Thailand. People who take democracy for granted have a lot in common with children who play with fire.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I don't believe that progressive Christianity fully integrates science.
Of course it does. It does not reflect the social reasoning of scientism, but the goals, methods and results of scientific investigation are fully accepted, mostly even endorsed, by progressive Christianity. Most of us even recognize that science has improved our theology by prying the cold, dead hands of imperialistic religion off our spiritual lives.
Robert Tulip wrote:
I think that brittle culture is caused by false belief, for which religion is a prime culprit.
I think you should do some more thinking about how motivated reasoning works, especially on ambiguous evidence like that about ultimate origins and the best paths to a just and abundant future. Brittleness refers to apparent structural strength which cannot withstand actual pressure. I would agree that the counterculture of ignorance, as exemplified by fundamentalist religion, is a major example of such brittleness, but its counterpart is an unwillingness of social progressivism to take responsibility for the social effects of their program. That is just as much a source of brittleness. Whenever people cover their motivated reasoning with moral justification, there will be brittleness, but that doesn't automatically translate into anything that can be detected as "false belief."
Robert Tulip wrote:
Republican corruption is a big part of the story, but not all of it. The arrogance of the climate change movement imagines that doubling down on decarbonisation is a winning strategy. That arrogant overreach by the left provides the germ upon which plutocratic mendacity flourishes.
That's a really incredible attempt to deflect blame for actual moral failure. When the mendacious cover their lies with ideology, those are not any less lies. The fact that you cast the rhetoric to fit your convenient narrative of only one possible path, effectively arguing that a commercially viable option is being quashed by those mean environmentalists, raises some serious questions about your own motivated reasoning.

The facts, as you well know, are that honest scientists (including some very politically conservative thinkers) have been laying out the facts in good faith and the political system of the entire world have been ignoring them with the determination of Nikita Kruschev trying to make the deserts of Central Asia bloom.
Robert Tulip wrote:
I am happy to see people advocate for carbon markets, it’s just that I am not convinced that increasing the price of fossil fuels is necessarily the decisive factor in climate stability.
It may very well not be the decisive factor. However, it is the logical result of admitting reality, so resistance to it will always be based on deception.
Robert Tulip wrote:
It is conceivable that too much political oxygen can be used up in this quest for a carbon price, given the intransigence of its opponents. The main thing should be progress on new technologies that may not need a carbon price.
The same argument has been made by an op-ed recently in the Times, by a long-time environmental reporter who is trying to be realistic. The problem is, it reflects the desperation of giving up on the truth. Kierkegaard had a lot to say about despair, much of it anticipating the understanding we now have of mental illness. That is not too much of an exaggeration. Our political systems are quite literally mentally ill.
Robert Tulip wrote:
America’s agribusinesses should be able to work out how to mine carbon and nutrients from all the pollution they dump in rivers.
For that to be attractive, they would have to own the nutrients and the right to use them in rivers. Despite the legal theory about "right of first seizure," that has obvious problems in the context of environmental issues.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
sewers and sewage treatment were not created by the fertilizer industry.
True, but water supply and sanitation does require primary roles for the private sector in provision of goods and services, and is often delivered in public private partnership.
Not really. The communist countries were not terribly bad at dealing with sanitation. The private sector will be happy to produce what government will pay for, and will probably do a better job than parastatals would, but "require" is too strong.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Algae is the New Black , according to this excellent panel interview.

I think they interviewed Peter Cook, who spoke at the Canberra Negative Emissions Conference last year about Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). BECCS involves growing fuel crops, burning them for energy and burying the produced CO2 in stable geological formations that provide minimal risk of the CO2 escaping to the air.

With no driver in the economy for it, Peter said BECCS can only work with a high carbon price of $200 per ton. Trump’s tax break for carbon removal of $50 per ton under 45Q provides a financial signal. BECCS is the only currently available NET, due to funding of research into so-called ‘clean coal’.

Geological leakage is not the main risk for BECCS. The main risk is that it is just too expensive. Bass Strait in Australia has ideal geological strata to store CO2. A Proof of Concept plant in Illinois is operating to send CO2 2km deep. World potential is more than 20 gigatons of CO2e removal per year. Apart from the carbon price issue, water access and food competition are also problems.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
It is equally important to note that climate activism also operates at a popular mythological level. The emotional belief in the primacy of emission reduction is particularly resistant to evidence and logic, due to how it is embedded in a shared political and cultural strategic vision of an innovative decarbonised world. While decarbonisation tells a lovely story, its theory of change is impractical, and needs to be negotiated and placed in a scientific framework of carbon removal.
Your claim that its theory is impractical rests on a distorted version of practicality. You impose, first, that such a story is incompatible with Negative Emissions Technology. In fact, of course, an innovative decarbonised world is entirely compatible with commercialized NETs.
Hi Harry. Happy New Year and Happy Perihelion Day.

The impracticality of the theory of change in making decarbonisation the primary climate response has nothing to do with compatibility with Negative Emission Technologies. The impracticality is simply that climate effects of decarbonisation are far too small to prevent dangerous warming. Decarbonisation can at best remove five or ten gigatons of CO2e per year over the next decade. Climate stability requires removal of 60 GT per year, for which decarbonisation can only supply a marginal amount of 15%, probably much less. Net zero emissions by 2030 requires carbon removal as the main factor, not decarbonisation.
Harry Marks wrote:
a commitment on the part of environmentalists to accepting lifestyle limits and a humbler relationship to nature may make them suspicious of anything that smacks of enabling excess, but it also makes them highly suspicious of those who trash talk any notion of governmental response to environmental threats, as you used to do.
Harry you are exaggerating again. I have never “trash talked any notion of governmental response to environmental threats”. What I have said is that the response to climate change through emission reduction led by governments cannot stabilise the climate. Governments should promote carbon removal, which they have largely failed to do. Your sacrificial talk of 'lifestyle limits' is what President Macron tried with his failed effort to raise fuel prices. Fine for elites but unpopular.
Harry Marks wrote:
You seem to be saying here that only autocracy can overcome popular resistance to climate defense.
Far from it. That is an absurd conclusion to draw from my comments. Climate defence will require sound science, which is eminently defensible through rational explanation. Consent not coercion.
Harry Marks wrote:

your convenient narrative of only one possible path, effectively arguing that a commercially viable option is being quashed by those mean environmentalists, raises some serious questions about your own motivated reasoning.
Far from a 'convenient narrative', my claim that there is only one possible path to climate stability is a simple question of numbers. If the goal is net zero emissions by 2030, or even something less ambitious, it is a simple scientific fact that the bulk of this can only be achieved by carbon removal, not emission reduction. Against that goal of climate stability and restoration, your comments about ‘motivated reasoning’ line up with the complacent view promoted by the IPCC that carbon removal can be delayed by decades.
Harry Marks wrote:
[Supporting progress on new technologies that may not need a carbon price] reflects the desperation of giving up on the truth.
Again, no. The truth is that emission reduction alone is far too small to stabilise the climate, so we have to look at methods that are big enough. Hopefully processes like industrial algae production will become major profitable industries, enabling climate repair to pay for itself. That is a counsel of optimism, not desperation.
Harry Marks wrote:

Robert Tulip wrote:
America’s agribusinesses should be able to work out how to mine carbon and nutrients from all the pollution they dump in rivers.
For that to be attractive, they would have to own the nutrients and the right to use them in rivers. Despite the legal theory about "right of first seizure," that has obvious problems in the context of environmental issues.
Removing harmful nutrients from rivers is a public good, so regulation to ensure it can be profitable can be designed to ensure environmental benefit. Finding areas of river water where nutrient extraction can be piloted with OMEGA technology should not be hard. I would like to see produced algae pyrolised into biochar and sold as soil enhancer. Government partnership on algae biochar would be a vastly better climate expenditure than most things happening now.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
In fact, of course, an innovative decarbonised world is entirely compatible with commercialized NETs.

The impracticality of the theory of change in making decarbonisation the primary climate response has nothing to do with compatibility with Negative Emission Technologies. The impracticality is simply that climate effects of decarbonisation are far too small to prevent dangerous warming. Decarbonisation can at best remove five or ten gigatons of CO2e per year over the next decade. Climate stability requires removal of 60 GT per year, for which decarbonisation can only supply a marginal amount of 15%, probably much less. Net zero emissions by 2030 requires carbon removal as the main factor, not decarbonisation.

Well, let't get into the nitty gritty. You place an upper limit on removal of CO2 by emissions reduction, and then conclude that it cannot manage what is needed. At the same time, you claim that NET will remove what is needed. But of course we don't know that.

It may be that NET will turn out to have limits far short of your projections. If we also pursue conversion to alternate technologies by properly pricing the external harms of carbon, we will have some contribution from emissions reduction, and some contribution from NET. From the perspective of a person who is not already committed to the "NET instead of decarbonisation" dichotomy, this looks like a much safer bet than relying on NET alone. The chances of actually avoiding catastrophic runaway effects are much greater.

I know that you think NET can be sold politically, but conversion and emissions reduction cannot. Yet the discussion has to separate the "is it good?" question from the "will people accept it?" question, and you are having real trouble doing that. As a result, you actually contribute to the notion that conversion is a bad idea by conflating arguments based on the difficulty of selling it politically with actual discussion of whether it is a good idea.

It is never a good plan to create "political oxygen" by misrepresenting the realities of the matter.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I have never “trash talked any notion of governmental response to environmental threats”. What I have said is that the response to climate change through emission reduction led by governments cannot stabilise the climate.
Well, yes, in previous statements you have characterized government-led approaches as socialist, (back when you thought the private sector would support your proposals for the sake of the climate) and you continue to distort the discussion to disparage emissions reduction. You say that emission reduction "cannot stabilise the climate," excluding the possibility that it might be a vital part of stabilising the climate in combination with carbon removal.

Every time you make such statements you erode your credibility. A rhetorical strategy is not the same thing as a fair characterization of the matter.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Governments should promote carbon removal, which they have largely failed to do.
As has the private sector. Get serious, and you will have a better chance of persuading those in a position to invest, privately or publicly, in carbon removal.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Your sacrificial talk of 'lifestyle limits' is what President Macron tried with his failed effort to raise fuel prices. Fine for elites but unpopular.

By "elites" you mean people who understand the danger of climate change and the (probably) irreversible effects of cumulative GHG levels. If policymakers are willing to sell out to commercial pressures, and voters go along with this, then humanity will get the cataclysm it deserves. But those of us who get the nature of the problem should not crawl into a hole, intimidated by cries of "elitism", and give up on solving the problem.

Macron made several serious mistakes in pitching his program. First, he alienated common people politically before he started by passing a tax cut for the rich before addressing climate change.
https://www.ft.com/content/3d907582-b89 ... 9c83ffa852
Then when he designed the program he treated it as a sop to environmentalist special interests rather than a desperately needed policy to sell to the general public. Specifically, rather than tailor a revenue-neutral program which would ease the cost to those hardest hit by the taxes, he instead dedicated much of the added revenue to softening the budget impact of his prior tax cuts, and much of the rest to spending on climate adjustment.

The EU has taken a similar approach, announcing grand plans which are made without efforts to sell the public on them, then having to back off under pressure. The charge of elitism is therefore deserved, but not because doing something about climate change is inherently elitist.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Climate defence will require sound science, which is eminently defensible through rational explanation.
Consent not coercion.
And yet you persistently oppose a rational approach of charging for the true costs of fossil fuel burning, as though rationality were beside your point. Looks to me like you are just one more special interest, pleading for your priority.

Robert Tulip wrote:
my claim that there is only one possible path to climate stability is a simple question of numbers. If the goal is net zero emissions by 2030, or even something less ambitious, it is a simple scientific fact that the bulk of this can only be achieved by carbon removal, not emission reduction. Against that goal of climate stability and restoration, your comments about ‘motivated reasoning’ line up with the complacent view promoted by the IPCC that carbon removal can be delayed by decades.
I am not arguing against carbon removal as a priority and never have. You, on the other hand, introduce sleight-of-hand phrases like "only one possible path" as though there were not a multitude of possible paths involving varying mixes of carbon removal and emissions reduction, thus torching your own credibility and contributing to the smokescreen being laid by the fossil fuel industry.

The IPCC is probably biased, and will be getting over more and more of that bias as political leadership flushes more and more of the climate down the toilet, but in the meantime there is no reason your rhetoric should take an equally intransigent approach.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Hopefully processes like industrial algae production will become major profitable industries, enabling climate repair to pay for itself. That is a counsel of optimism, not desperation.
But of course if rationality prevailed, and algae production for biochar and whatnot else was also earning income from carbon credits, then the chances of getting to the needed degree of carbon removal before Apocalypse is unleashed would be considerably increased.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
America’s agribusinesses should be able to work out how to mine carbon and nutrients from all the pollution they dump in rivers.
Removing harmful nutrients from rivers is a public good, so regulation to ensure it can be profitable can be designed to ensure environmental benefit. Finding areas of river water where nutrient extraction can be piloted with OMEGA technology should not be hard. I would like to see produced algae pyrolised into biochar and sold as soil enhancer. Government partnership on algae biochar would be a vastly better climate expenditure than most things happening now.
Sorry, but regulation does not compel an industry to pursue public goods. Regulation, also known as "command and control", cannot solve the problem of free riding, in which everyone including agribusiness is happy to let others bear the cost of projects like removing harmful nutrients from rivers. To repeat a point I have made previously, it may be that this will be profitable by coincidence, but actually reflecting the public interest in incentives makes its profitability much more likely.

I suspect what you had in mind here was something more like the requirements that coal mines clean up their tailings and replace the mountainsides, but applied to agribusiness. The problem with that approach is that the farmers buy the stuff and apply it. As far as I know there are no legal doctrines to make the sellers of the chemicals responsible for the use to which the chemicals are put, much less making them responsible for cleaning up the cumulative effects of their output. The closest case might be the Superfund programs for cleaning up toxic chemical dumps, which I believe do assess some of the cost against the chemical producers.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Harry Marks wrote:
Well, let's get into the nitty gritty. You place an upper limit on removal of CO2 by emissions reduction, and then conclude that it cannot manage what is needed. At the same time, you claim that NET will remove what is needed. But of course we don't know that.
Hi Harry, many thanks for these comments. I think your points reflect widely held assumptions about climate policy that are highly questionable. When you say I am placing an upper limit on emission cuts, I am really just asking what is possible and realistic. The upper theoretical limit on emission reduction is equal to total emissions. Stopping all emissions means all combustion on earth would cease, along with other emitting processes such as rotting.

I raise this as a thought experiment, to point out that even if that impossible goal was achieved in the next decade, with net zero emissions solely through emission reduction, we would still be on track to dangerous warming due to past emissions. The CO2 and methane already in the air from past human emissions have committed further warming due to the processes known as ‘feedback amplifiers’, such as melting of the Arctic.

The only way to remove the cause of warming is to augment the practical maximum of emission reduction with carbon removal and direct cooling. So what is the practical maximum for emission reduction? The Paris Accord proposes to remove less than 10% of future emissions between now and 2030, while doing nothing about committed warming, and talking up the prospect of maybe lifting the 10% plan to 20%, even though experience suggests that achieving 10% will be a struggle. Carbon removal and direct cooling hold the potential to achieve net zero by 2030 by removing carbon equal to the remaining 90% of emissions.

The balance between emission reduction and other cooling methods is a classic economic problem of opportunity cost. Do we put our eggs in the basket of ramping up emission reduction as the UN proposes, despite the political heat, or do we come clean to agree that all options should be on the table, and agree that subsidy should go to technologies that achieve least cost abatement? Meanwhile the sixth extinction continues its remorseless progress.
Harry Marks wrote:
It may be that NET will turn out to have limits far short of your projections.
But the problem is we just don’t know the real limits, because the climate establishment has largely closed ranks against Negative Emissions. The IPCC stated in its 1.5 degree report last year only that NETs might be needed later in the century if emission reduction does not work. That is a scandalous and irresponsible policy line, condemning the world to the security peril of dangerous warming. Immediate large scale testing of NETs should be a main policy priority to establish what the real potential may be.
Harry Marks wrote:
If we also pursue conversion to alternate technologies by properly pricing the external harms of carbon, we will have some contribution from emissions reduction, and some contribution from NET.
Sure, and maybe decarbonisation will remove 20% of emissions by 2030, double the Paris target. That would be great, if difficult. My view on carbon pricing is that in theory it is a great idea that would accelerate climate stability, but I just have practical doubts about the politics.

The risk is that political conflict over emission reduction could cause delay in implementing any measures other than incremental expansion of current known methods, even though that will not prevent dangerous warming. Then we get very much a second best result, with the remorseless march of extinction. Pulling back from the attitude of emission reduction alone would produce the balanced approach I am calling for.
Harry Marks wrote:
From the perspective of a person who is not already committed to the "NET instead of decarbonisation" dichotomy, this looks like a much safer bet than relying on NET alone.
I am certainly not committed to that dichotomy, in the sense of saying there is anything wrong with cutting emissions. We can’t rely on NET alone. What I object to is the widespread reverse opinion, that all geoengineering research should be banned because it undermines decarbonisation. We should do all we can to cut emissions, except for excluding alternatives, which is what is happening now. The safest bet for public policy is to be technology neutral, with any available public funds allocated by the criterion of potential to deliver least cost abatement, including through research and development of new technology. The current policy is very far from that principle.
Harry Marks wrote:
The chances of actually avoiding catastrophic runaway effects are much greater.
The best chance of avoiding catastrophic warming is for governments to focus on supporting research and development of new technology, escaping the ideological path dependence that renewable energy has created.
Harry Marks wrote:
I know that you think NET can be sold politically, but conversion and emissions reduction cannot.
This is a really important and complex question at the heart of climate politics. On the surface, the situation seems to be the reverse, that emission reduction is politically popular while negative emissions are completely marginal. Negative Emissions even have a stupid name that people can’t understand, and that journalists routinely mock, which is why I prefer carbon removal as a clearer title rather than negative emissions.

The ultimate political selling point for climate technology is cost. My view is that algae-based carbon removal methods can be developed that will mitigate climate change for a fraction of the unit cost of current plans for conversion to renewable energy, measured per tonne of CO2e removed. Ramping up conversion toward the scale needed to achieve net zero emissions involves escalating cost as the goal is approached.

Conversion from coal is an important goal, but we should compare all the options to see if a slower conversion process might give better results. At the moment the rather hysterical line from decarbonisation advocates is that if we don’t shut down coal as fast as possible we are doomed to an inevitable climate apocalypse. The alternative possibility is that a focus on carbon removal could achieve faster and bigger climate results than emission reduction, with less cost and risk.
Harry Marks wrote:
Yet the discussion has to separate the "is it good?" question from the "will people accept it?" question, and you are having real trouble doing that.
Sorry Harry, that comment makes no sense to me. Firstly, both carbon removal and emission reduction are public goods, so well worth supporting. Secondly, I am not at all suggesting we shift to carbon removal just because it will be acceptable. The whole point is that removing carbon could prove more effective than emission reduction as a way to reverse global warming. The comparison should be about what the scientific evidence shows. Unfortunately at the moment the problem is not scientific but political. There is a lack of broad interest in carbon removal, with ideological opposition and lack of investment driven by the political view that carbon removal would reduce pressure for emission reduction. That roadblock has to be removed to create a level playing field.
Harry Marks wrote:
As a result, you actually contribute to the notion that conversion is a bad idea by conflating arguments based on the difficulty of selling it politically with actual discussion of whether it is a good idea.
Not at all, you have misunderstood the point. I am not at all saying conversion is a bad idea, just questioning the UN line that it is the only path. Current advocacy for conversion exaggerates its real cooling potential, and fails to recognise the risks of delay and conflict involved in shutting down fossil fuels. I am not conflating the technical and political points, just saying that in practical terms climate policy should focus on activities with the greatest chance of delivering results, and the political opposition to decarbonisation should be taken into account as a factor to increase investment in carbon removal.
Harry Marks wrote:
in previous statements you have characterized government-led approaches as socialist
Yes, mainly to the extent that government-led approaches see increasing tax or intervening to shut down fossil fuel industries as the key to fixing the climate. My view is that climate action will primarily require public private partnership, coordinating the roles of government and investors. Government does have a central role in fixing the climate, but it should focus on creating an enabling environment for business investment as a market oriented approach. While a carbon price can theoretically help to enable investment, the general view of government led action is that shutting down fossil fuel industries is the central climate job. I see that focus on political polarisation as akin to class war.
Harry Marks wrote:
, (back when you thought the private sector would support your proposals for the sake of the climate)
I have never thought the private sector would invest for the sake of the climate, only for the sake of their enlightened self interest. I retain that view.
Harry Marks wrote:
and you continue to distort the discussion to disparage emissions reduction. You say that emission reduction "cannot stabilise the climate," excluding the possibility that it might be a vital part of stabilising the climate in combination with carbon removal.
Harry, you might want to read my comments more carefully. In this thread I have clearly said that emission reduction should be supported to deliver 10% of the goal of net zero emissions, as per the ambitious target agreed at Paris. Saying that it can’t do more is an entirely realistic assessment. The distortion comes from those who say emission reduction alone is a sufficient climate strategy.
Harry Marks wrote:
Every time you make such statements you erode your credibility. A rhetorical strategy is not the same thing as a fair characterization of the matter.
I am not worried about such flimsy mischaracterisations. The problem here is that climate activists wrongly think that emission reduction can deliver 100% of the change needed to stabilise the climate. They suffer from a severe case of the ‘emperor’s new clothes’ syndrome when the fact is pointed out that the Paris ambition of cutting 10% of emissions will be hard enough, let alone the necessary task of large scale carbon removal as essential for climate stability.
Harry Marks wrote:
By "elites" you mean people who understand the danger of climate change and the (probably) irreversible effects of cumulative GHG levels.
No, by elites in this context I meant people who are rich enough to regard higher fuel prices as a necessary sacrifice for the good of the cause.
Harry Marks wrote:
If policymakers are willing to sell out to commercial pressures, and voters go along with this, then humanity will get the cataclysm it deserves.
Again that ‘sell out’ line can easily be misunderstood. You are right that doing nothing is a recipe for cataclysm, but painting commerce as the enemy is wrong, neglecting the urgent necessity of enlisting the resources, skills and contacts of multinational enterprises in fixing the climate as a task of enlightened self interest. That form of partnership can work with carbon removal but not with ramping up emission reduction.
Harry Marks wrote:
But those of us who get the nature of the problem should not crawl into a hole, intimidated by cries of "elitism", and give up on solving the problem.
The elitism problem with taxing carbon is the assumption that making emissions more expensive is the key to fixing the climate, as Macron is finding to his political cost in France. Higher energy prices are sand in the gears of the economy. The transition to a low price renewable energy market will be more difficult than its advocates assert.
Harry Marks wrote:
Macron made several serious mistakes in pitching his program. First, he alienated common people politically before he started by passing a tax cut for the rich before addressing climate change. https://www.ft.com/content/3d907582-b89 ... 9c83ffa852 Then when he designed the program he treated it as a sop to environmentalist special interests rather than a desperately needed policy to sell to the general public. Specifically, rather than tailor a revenue-neutral program which would ease the cost to those hardest hit by the taxes, he instead dedicated much of the added revenue to softening the budget impact of his prior tax cuts, and much of the rest to spending on climate adjustment. The EU has taken a similar approach, announcing grand plans which are made without efforts to sell the public on them, then having to back off under pressure. The charge of elitism is therefore deserved, but not because doing something about climate change is inherently elitist.
Yes, you set out the elitism problem very well, illustrating the lack of trust that ordinary people have for emission reduction proposals and their advocates.
Harry Marks wrote:
you persistently oppose a rational approach of charging for the true costs of fossil fuel burning, as though rationality were beside your point.
Well yes, alleged “rationality” can be beside the point of achieving climate results when it’s claims serve as a rhetorical cloak for other motives. If carbon removal could be a superior way to restore the climate that does not require the world to double down on decarbonisation, it should be explored, not peremptorily dismissed. Taxing carbon at a level needed to affect incentives will only ever be a marginal contribution to climate stability, unless linked to exemptions for R&D into carbon removal.

I am not criticising renewable energy, only pointing out that its practical effect on temperature is small and slow. There is a long history of economists attempting to design a rational society, and these efforts have failed due to inability to understand and engage with the complexity of human motives and beliefs.
Harry Marks wrote:
Looks to me like you are just one more special interest, pleading for your priority.
Who is indulging in rhetorical distortion now? Carbon removal is not a special interest, it is the essential primary requirement for climate stability and restoration.
Harry Marks wrote:
You, on the other hand, introduce sleight-of-hand phrases like "only one possible path" as though there were not a multitude of possible paths involving varying mixes of carbon removal and emissions reduction, thus torching your own credibility and contributing to the smokescreen being laid by the fossil fuel industry.
That is another distortion. The only one possible path to climate stability is to remove more carbon from the air than we add to it. Of course that could result from varying mixes of emission reduction and carbon removal. But it does not include the UN path of delaying attention to carbon removal for decades.
Harry Marks wrote:
The IPCC is probably biased, and will be getting over more and more of that bias as political leadership flushes more and more of the climate down the toilet, but in the meantime there is no reason your rhetoric should take an equally intransigent approach.
I am hardly the intransigent one in this debate! The blatant intransigence is from climate activists who say, in a statement just supported by hundreds of environmental NGOs and fellow travellers, that “we will vigorously oppose market-based mechanisms and technology options such as carbon and emissions trading and offsets, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, waste-to-energy and biomass energy.” I am happy to support emission reduction, I simply ask that people be realistic about what it can achieve, and not engage in trashing of potential alternatives.
Harry Marks wrote:
if rationality prevailed, and algae production for biochar and whatnot else was also earning income from carbon credits, then the chances of getting to the needed degree of carbon removal before Apocalypse is unleashed would be considerably increased.
That seems plausible at first glance, except that getting industry to invest in carbon removal could emerge as an alternative to a carbon credit system.
Harry Marks wrote:
everyone including agribusiness is happy to let others bear the cost of projects like removing harmful nutrients from rivers.
You did not get my point Harry. Using algae to remove nutrient from rivers should be a profitable enterprise, so the cost of doing so is an R&D investment.
Harry Marks wrote:
I suspect what you had in mind here was something more like the requirements that coal mines clean up their tailings and replace the mountainsides, but applied to agribusiness. The problem with that approach is that the farmers buy the stuff and apply it. As far as I know there are no legal doctrines to make the sellers of the chemicals responsible for the use to which the chemicals are put, much less making them responsible for cleaning up the cumulative effects of their output. The closest case might be the Superfund programs for cleaning up toxic chemical dumps, which I believe do assess some of the cost against the chemical producers.
Run-of-river algae farms could become a profitable way to produce biomass which could then be used as farm fertilizer and stock feed, with cleaning dead zones in coastal regions and proving up algae technology as side benefits. The mentality needs to shift from punishing industry to finding innovative ways to cooperate for the sake of the climate.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
The upper theoretical limit on emission reduction is equal to total emissions. Stopping all emissions means all combustion on earth would cease, along with other emitting processes such as rotting.

I raise this as a thought experiment, to point out that even if that impossible goal was achieved in the next decade, with net zero emissions solely through emission reduction, we would still be on track to dangerous warming due to past emissions. The CO2 and methane already in the air from past human emissions have committed further warming due to the processes known as ‘feedback amplifiers’, such as melting of the Arctic.
Good to hear your milder rhetoric, Robert. I am pretty well convinced that you are capable of seeing things in perspective, and it's nice to hear you express them that way. These things, of grim effects of past emissions, I know, and you are not wrong to underscore them. But in a field in which distortion and misrepresentation has been layered on thickly, it behooves all of us to be careful with the way we argue for things.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The only way to remove the cause of warming is to augment the practical maximum of emission reduction with carbon removal and direct cooling. So what is the practical maximum for emission reduction? The Paris Accord proposes to remove less than 10% of future emissions between now and 2030, while doing nothing about committed warming, and talking up the prospect of maybe lifting the 10% plan to 20%, even though experience suggests that achieving 10% will be a struggle. Carbon removal and direct cooling hold the potential to achieve net zero by 2030 by removing carbon equal to the remaining 90% of emissions.
Obviously you are back to treating "politically agreeable" as the meaning of "practical". By doing so you create an uneven standard, since you do not judge your carbon removal program, or NET in general, by the same standard. So maybe resist casting them in terms of that comparison and just point out the necessary role of carbon removal even in combination with emissions reduction, or "agreed emissions reduction" or some less tendentious characterization.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The balance between emission reduction and other cooling methods is a classic economic problem of opportunity cost. Do we put our eggs in the basket of ramping up emission reduction as the UN proposes, despite the political heat, or do we come clean to agree that all options should be on the table, and agree that subsidy should go to technologies that achieve least cost abatement?
Most economists would resist characterizing the matter in terms of opportunity cost. Putting all eggs in one basket is a classic error of dealing with uncertainty. The advantage of a carbon price is that it leads to least cost abatement naturally. If leaders prefer targeted subsidies, convincing themselves that this will be more politically palatable, there is no automatic reason it cannot accomplish the same goal. But for sure lack of incentives, relying on the command and control approaches used so far, will do a poorer job of bringing about change in a cost-effective way.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
It may be that NET will turn out to have limits far short of your projections.
But the problem is we just don’t know the real limits, because the climate establishment has largely closed ranks against Negative Emissions.
Well, that's on them, and they should be called on it. They will have to live with the dire risk they put us in. But ocean fertilization experiments are going ahead, and there is no real reason other methods can't be tried out and later scaled up as well.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The IPCC stated in its 1.5 degree report last year only that NETs might be needed later in the century if emission reduction does not work. That is a scandalous and irresponsible policy line, condemning the world to the security peril of dangerous warming. Immediate large scale testing of NETs should be a main policy priority to establish what the real potential may be.
Given that it is a political report, and that their primary political constituency at this point is the environmental lobby, I'd say it represents great progress. I can certainly understand your frustration with that narrow-mindedness, however. I suspect that if you sat individual members of the IPCC background team down and interviewed them, there would be only about 3 total who really resist the need for NET. I only wish the IPCC had the kind of power you seem to think it has.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Sure, and maybe decarbonisation will remove 20% of emissions by 2030, double the Paris target. That would be great, if difficult. My view on carbon pricing is that in theory it is a great idea that would accelerate climate stability, but I just have practical doubts about the politics.
We are fast approaching a tipping point on the politics, brought partly by a tipping point on the technology. I suspect that the reductions brought by direct incentives, such as a carbon tax, would be smallish on their own - maybe 10% by 2025 - but with key interventions to support them, could be much greater.

For example, it is very clear that electric car sales in the US are being held back significantly by the limited cruising range of electric cars. Tesla has made great strides in overcoming this, but with the long distances Americans are used to driving, a plug-in hybrid still looks much less likely to leave you stranded in open country on a long trip. With some straightforward government interventions, the chicken-and-egg problem of providing fast "refueling" of electric cars, using interchangeable batteries, could be solved completely in less than five years. At present no companies of the necessary scale have an incentive to create such a network, and so nobody buys enough electric cars to create the incentive.

Similar targeted interventions can overcome other bottlenecks that stand in the way of serious appliance efficiency and serious insulation efficiency. Without the leverage provided by incentives, however, these will never get the critical mass of support to be put in place.

I might make the same point about algae conversion. Maybe it will simply prove out and be commercial. On the face of it that seems quite possible to me. But it will need the targeted intervention of large-scale efficiency studies to get moving, and that is a lot more likely if true benefits are recognized in cash form.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The risk is that political conflict over emission reduction could cause delay in implementing any measures other than incremental expansion of current known methods, even though that will not prevent dangerous warming.
You might be able to make an end run around the political barriers. I would be willing to lend my voice to help that happen, though it would not amount to much. But in the meantime it is not necessary to vent at the obstructionists when recognition of the problem is still the biggest policy barrier and they at least agree on that much.
Robert Tulip wrote:
What I object to is the widespread reverse opinion, that all geoengineering research should be banned because it undermines decarbonisation. We should do all we can to cut emissions, except for excluding alternatives, which is what is happening now.
Yes, it is terrifically stupid that the most cost-effective methods of fighting global warming may have been opposed by those who most want global warming fought. For my money that little tempest in a sandbox shows how badly the policy establishment has botched the issue, most especially in the U.S. Rupert Murdoch and Newt Gingrich have sealed their place as villains in future history, assuming anyone is still teaching history in 50 years, by setting back the process by crucial decades.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The safest bet for public policy is to be technology neutral, with any available public funds allocated by the criterion of potential to deliver least cost abatement, including through research and development of new technology. The current policy is very far from that principle.
The current policy is practically non-existent. Or had you not noticed? Outside of California and Northern Europe, diddly is racing with squat to best characterize efforts against warming.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Ramping up conversion toward the scale needed to achieve net zero emissions involves escalating cost as the goal is approached.
However, countering that escalation is the learning curve, which has brought down solar costs by leaps and bounds, and is likely to make short work of many other "barriers" we see as important today. But that learning is much less likely to happen without proper incentives.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Unfortunately at the moment the problem is not scientific but political. There is a lack of broad interest in carbon removal, with ideological opposition and lack of investment driven by the political view that carbon removal would reduce pressure for emission reduction. That roadblock has to be removed to create a level playing field.
That's a really myopic view of the situation: in effect blaming the lack of "broad interest" on opposition from environmental ideologues motivated only by the moral hazard issue. Even giving that roadblock its due, lack of interest in a commercial proposition is usually due to lack of perception of profitability.

The Green Revolution in LDC's was driven by the Rockefeller Foundation, but the tech had already been demonstrated in the Northern Hemisphere commercial farming sectors. Some government role helped develop the High-Yielding Varieties that so expanded yields, but it was mainly driven by profitability. My guess is that biochar is getting serious looks from corporations, but not for the environmental benefits. Imagine what they would do if the environmental benefits were reflected in the profitability numbers.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I am not conflating the technical and political points, just saying that in practical terms climate policy should focus on activities with the greatest chance of delivering results, and the political opposition to decarbonisation should be taken into account as a factor to increase investment in carbon removal.
Well, the chance of results and the degree of opposition are obviously related, but your either/or rhetoric (like that of the climate lobby) has confused the debate, adding heat rather than light as they say.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Saying that it can’t do more is an entirely realistic assessment.
No, because the language phrases it as equivalent to a technical limit. Honesty would characterize it as "politically unlikely to do more".

Robert Tulip wrote:
The distortion comes from those who say emission reduction alone is a sufficient climate strategy.
Also dishonest of them.
Robert Tulip wrote:
No, by elites in this context I meant people who are rich enough to regard higher fuel prices as a necessary sacrifice for the good of the cause.
Nobody is foolish enough anymore to argue that a market price should not reflect market realities. The economist's point is that externalities are market realities. If we want to cushion the blow to those who are poor, we can do that. I would consider it a good idea. But denial is not a pro-poor approach by any stretch of the imagination.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The elitism problem with taxing carbon is the assumption that making emissions more expensive is the key to fixing the climate, as Macron is finding to his political cost in France. Higher energy prices are sand in the gears of the economy.
Realist, not elitist. If the economy has sand in its gears, it is not elitist to point them out.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Taxing carbon at a level needed to affect incentives will only ever be a marginal contribution to climate stability, unless linked to exemptions for R&D into carbon removal.
Yes, absolutely. Credits for removal are vitally important to accurate reflection of true scarcities.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The only one possible path to climate stability is to remove more carbon from the air than we add to it. Of course that could result from varying mixes of emission reduction and carbon removal. But it does not include the UN path of delaying attention to carbon removal for decades.
Varying mixes = talking sense. The UN has not been determinative on climate policy ever. If they choose to drag their feet, the symbolism can be exploited to promote policies like yours, but no distortion is needed to accomplish that.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The blatant intransigence is from climate activists who say, in a statement just supported by hundreds of environmental NGOs and fellow travellers, that “we will vigorously oppose market-based mechanisms and technology options such as carbon and emissions trading and offsets, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, waste-to-energy and biomass energy.”
Yes, I agree, "we will oppose solutions" is a pretty suicidal approach.



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Climate Tipping Points Existential Threat to Our Life Support Systems


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
The blatant intransigence is from climate activists who say, in a statement just supported by hundreds of environmental NGOs and fellow travellers, that “we will vigorously oppose market-based mechanisms and technology options such as carbon and emissions trading and offsets, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, waste-to-energy and biomass energy.”

That sounds almost like what deniers might say! Can you give me the source so I can check out the context?



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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
The blatant intransigence is from climate activists who say, in a statement just supported by hundreds of environmental NGOs and fellow travellers, that “we will vigorously oppose market-based mechanisms and technology options such as carbon and emissions trading and offsets, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, waste-to-energy and biomass energy.”

That sounds almost like what deniers might say! Can you give me the source so I can check out the context?
The source was linked in the quote. https://grist.org/article/600-environme ... -new-deal/

This statement has generated a lot of debate on whether environmental organisations should maintain their opposition to carbon removal. The astounding thing is that such opposition is cited as a core moral principle! For example Leonardo Di Caprio just funded this major report on how to prevent global warming, which states up front that it will completely ignore any intervention to cool the world except growing land based forests. See also Media Report

The logic is deficient but sadly typical of the popular climate mainstream.

The likelihood of overcoming political and social inertia and resistance in order to shift away from fossil fuels at the rate envisaged in this report is low, especially with pipe-dream ideas like cutting world energy use by 26%.

The risks of their suggestion to rely on land forests as carbon sinks for the remainder of the 1.5 degree target include that forests are more likely to burn when it is hot and dry, and that forest clearing has powerful economic and social drivers. They completely ignore the scale, resources and energy of the world ocean as the probable primary place for climate restoration.

The overall risk analysis and program logic are therefore way off the mark, failing to properly weigh the risks of conflict and delay over their policy prescriptions.

But the worst comment in the Di Caprio report is the implication that there is a moral principle involved in avoiding research and development of unproven technologies. It is like the authors are worried that these unproven technologies could undermine their highly risky and unlikely strategy, so want to dissuade people from investing in them.

The better approach is to recognise that unproven technologies could potentially provide silver bullets, enabling climate restoration at far lower cost and risk than the current preferred and envisaged methods.

Rather than putting all the eggs into the basket of a political war against the fossil fuel industry, Mr. DiCaprio would be more sensible to encourage investment into a diverse portfolio of carbon removal and direct cooling methods.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
Agreeing that cost is the main barrier to renewable uptake, there is also a feedback amplifier in the resistance to climate action. The perceived cost of change also generates social and political opposition, like how CO2 causes mutually reinforcing warming trends.

Just for technical reasons, leaving aside the contested politics, decarbonisation is too slow and expensive and small to be the main climate strategy, whereas carbon removal may be preferred on cost and effectiveness grounds.

Looking ambitiously, carbon removal could be far bigger than emissions in the world carbon budget within a decade.

On the ability of the world to cut energy use, there is so much inertia in human existence that people might not be bothered to become more efficient on the needed time scale. That means it is better to focus on technology to stop climate change, with carbon removal and direct cooling industrial processes that do not need social reform.

The nature of political opposition to carbon removal and solar reflection methods is very different from the opposition to emission reduction. Opposition to geoengineering comes from the political left, is based on wobbly principle, and is not particularly evidence based. Opposition to decarbonisation is from the political right, and is mainly about money and rejection of world government.

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.

Maybe some progressive leaders will come on board with the need to study climate restoration technology, given the urgency of avoiding the precipice. Then the economics will rule over the balance between ocean technologies, Solar Radiation Management, emission reduction and other cooling methods.

I think that if iron salt aerosol proves biologically acceptable, it could be the single most cost effective and rapid cooling method. Iron salt aerosol may be able to cut storm intensity, giving big incentive for insurance investment.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
There are still a few talks from the Canberra Negative Emission Conference last year that I want to mention.

Professor Peter Cook is Senior Adviser to the Peter Cook Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Melbourne. He discussed the potential of BECCS – Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage - to contribute to Negative Emissions.

Professor Cook made the following comments.

There is no driver in the economy for BECCS. Also known as clean coal, BECCS can only work when paid for by a carbon tax of $200 per tonne of CO2. The Trump Administration 45Q decision to allow tax deduction of $50 per ton for CCS sends a financial signal. The IPCC recognises BECCS as the only available NET, incorporated in future models of global warming.

BECCS works in a range of geological settings. Capacity to inject supercritical CO2 into seabed rocks at depth of 7 km makes Bass Strait the best place in the world for BECCS. A working proof of concept is in Illinois, injecting to 2km deep. Five plants are operating, and annual potential worldwide is above 20 gigatonnes. The main constraint for BECCS is available land and water to grow biofuel, given competition with food crops for land.


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Post Re: Dispatches from the Front Line of the Apocalypse
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 underlying reality is that emission reduction alone cannot stabilise the climate. Therefore any pretence that emission reduction could be sufficient is a gross public deception. But that pretence is built into the IPCC policy, with the line that Carbon Dioxide Removal is only a second line of defence if emission reduction fails. The refusal of climate experts to publicly discuss the minimum requirements to stabilise and restore the climate, through direct cooling technology and removal of excess atmospheric carbon, sends a complacent strategic message about the danger of tipping points.

Supporters see the Paris agreement as a significant success. That may be so in the surreal realm of politics, but in the real realm of physics Paris is a dismal failure, allowing the impending end of ice, drift to dangerous warming and collapse of biodiversity. Such a political success, using a lowest common denominator agreement to mask actual failure, is worthy of the emperor’s new clothes.

Some supporters of the Paris Accord go on to argue that its meagre crumbs would be risked by pointing out that it will not be nearly enough. The implication is that climate scientists must censor themselves to prevent the Trumpians going to war against the climate in an even more deluded and grotesque way. That sounds counterproductive.

I think the best strategy is complete honesty, while developing a climate policy that aims to bring conservatives on side with climate restoration, investing in technology for carbon removal and direct cooling rather than a focus on emission reduction. The current dire situation is delivering almost no investment or political discussion for the only technologies with potential to save the planet, carbon removal and direct cooling, precisely because the climate leaders are doing nothing to ask industries to invest.

Climate scientists and world leaders should call for global net zero emissions by 2030. 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.

The fear that pushing harder would lead to dropouts seems misplaced. I think the emission reduction mentality of better results involving more pain should not apply to CDR and SRM. Research and development of CDR and SRM could be funded with money now planned to achieve renewable energy targets, and by giving sectors such as energy and insurance policy incentives to invest. Wind and solar are excellent technologies, but they do not need public investment, whereas the manifest market failure today is the absence of investment in climate restoration, something that could readily be remedied by political leadership.

So I disagree with the idea that getting signatures on the line with a minimal and ineffective Paris Accord is a sensible climate strategy, with its surreptitious plan to gradually ratchet up emission reduction demands. Recent experience suggests instead that people regard the UN approach as deceptive. The perception that the UN has deceived us about the scale of the required climate response has the perverse outcome of making people reluctant to believe factual statements of climate science.


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