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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.



Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:26 pm
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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.



Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:21 pm
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