Some more thoughts on Ecomodernism

Since I’ve mentioned Ecomodernism before, I thought I would highlight a post I’ve just encountered called Dark thoughts on Ecomodernism (lengthier version here). There’s also a follow up post in which the author responds to his critics.

The posts are lengthy, so I haven’t digested them fully, but they do seem to highlight many of the sames issues I have considered myself. There are some aspects to Ecomodernism that are very appealing. On the other hand, many of the arguments seem simplistic; they seem to focus on things that superficially support their viewpoint, while ignoring – or dismissing – that a more detailed analysis might suggest that it’s not quite that straightforward. The post above provides some good examples.

One of the most vocal critics of the post I highlight above, was Michael Shellenberger, President of the Breakthrough Institute. Shellenberger has spent the last couple of days dismissing the relevance of the conversion of Exxon from a company that knew about the role of fossil fuels in global warming, to one that funded climate denial organisations, while aligning himself with Owen Patterson and Matt Ridley, both of whom seem to think that most of our problems can be lain at the feet of the Green blob.

It’s not that I think the Exxon issue is all that relevant (I think blaming companies like Exxon misses the point in a big way), or that the Green blob can’t be criticised (they can for very many reasons), it’s that I can’t really take seriously anyone who seems to see things in such a simplistic way. It would seem to suggest that they either don’t have the ability to consider these complex issues in the right kind of context, or they aren’t being entirely honest about these complexities. Of course, if they’re simply pushing some kind of agenda, then maybe this kind of behaviour is the norm. In that case, maybe they should just be honest about this, and stop pretending that they’re really interested in bringing people together and encouraging dialogue. To be fair, though, Michael Shellenberger has made it pretty clear that he isn’t interested in dialogue with me. Anyway, this post was really just intended to highlight the others posts that I linked to at the beginning.

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177 Responses to Some more thoughts on Ecomodernism

  1. Two words only are needed to make the Ecomods disinclined to engage in dialogue:

    carbon budget

  2. Well, there are those two. Mine were “arrogant” and “condescending”.

  3. BBD says:

    Mine are ‘excessively’ and ‘optimistic’.

  4. BBD says:

    Good essay at Dark Mountain. Thanks for the link.

  5. Magma says:

    My own (possibly unfair) impression of EM is that it is a more sophisticated version of the “no worries, we’ll fix it later” and “but think of the poor” strategies that Lomborg, Ridley and others have been peddling for a while now. At least as I read it, the lack of urgency and the avoidance of any talk of costs (even if these are incurred now to forestall much larger ones in the future) is something of a red flag.

  6. Magma,
    Yes, that’s largely my general view and is what, I think, Paul Price is getting at too. They don’t seem to want to discuss their estimate for a carbon budget which seems to imply that somehow we will work things out in time and that continued Modernisation will solve all potential problems. I think that’s one of the views in the essay that I highlighted. The idea that Modernisation is some ever continuous process of advancement that is almost some kind of natural process that can’t really be interfered with.

  7. Willard says:

    Shellenberger seems to have a problem with antropological heterodoxy. Messes with his messianic slogans.

  8. Sam taylor says:

    That’s a pretty good piece, hits most of my bugbears with ecomodernism right on the head, though really I think that EM is kind of damned by association with most of the people who back it anyway. Especially irritating is the ecomodernists utterly myopic interpretation of data (though given some of their reading of climate data this is hardly surprising). Ridley gave a prime example of this in a ludicrous piece in the times today, when he argued that world hunger will never be an issue because some bloke in Lincolnshire set a new record for gain yield this summer, when Defra statistics show UK yields flat over the last decade (yes, small sample size) and a number of agricultural scientists to fret about the potential for future production ( http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0066428 ). I can only assume that he thinks in 20 years all marrows grown will be bigger than current prizewinning marrows which will be being shown off at various harvest festivals.

    One can quite transparently see that EM is snake oil, since basically all it’s saying is that i) The way we’re doing everything at the moment is pretty much all right. ii) The way to make things better for everyone is to keep doing what we’re already doing, but do more of it and make it more efficient. iii) Because what we’re doing is all right, we don’t need to think about or analyse what we’re doing in any deep way, which is politically very easy.

  9. Sam,
    Yes, I think your final description is pretty much it. I don’t know if I can express this very clearly, but one thing that bugs me is that they use quantitative measures that indicative that life today is in general better than it’s been in the past, to essentially suggest that the path we took to get here is somehow optimal. This – to me – ignores that there are numeours events in the past that – at the time – must have seemed pretty catastrophic, but that we got through eventually. I’m sure that people at the time might have preferred following a different path to the one that they did indeed follow. That we’ve succeeded in getting through potentially serious events in the past doesn’t – to me – seem like an argument for largely ignoring potentially serious events in the present/near future, just because there is a sense that the natural progression is towards modernisation and continued advancement.

  10. Joshua says:

    I noticed some references to Shellenberger’s “sophomoric Twitter comments” in the follow-up comment thread.

    What a shock!

  11. Joshua says:

    Ugh. Just clicked on his Twitter stream.

    Twitter is a cesspool*.

    *Not like blog comment threads, of course. 🙂

  12. Yes, as per ATTP and Magma, that’s my view. I have engaged with several BTI types on twitter asking them repeatedly to give their global climate protection target (2ºC or what?) and corresponding remaining global carbon budget. Given that they are so concerned for the climate exposed and vulnerable poor you would imagine they would be making sure that their “High Energy Planet” achieved a low carbon pathway to some good chance of avoiding XºC. But no, nothing, one just gets evasion, sometimes in the form of “arrogant” and “condescending”. Ecomodernism mostly seems like an epic piece of concern trolling the poor to distract attention from the need for the rich and getting rich to do a lot to cut emissions fast.

    One other point. As someone who does a fair few hours in my spare time trying to put the science into climate policy critiques for an eNGO, the “Green Blob” framing of eNGOs having massive power is particularly laughable. Here in Ireland, the well funded and staffed business and agribusiness lobbies have all the power with government departments and politicians being almost entirely subject to regulatory capture by the private sector. On climate policy, the poorly funded NGOs are staffed by motivated, but ill-paid, often mostly volunteer folk with variable knowledge and very little time to do much except exhaust themselves on a treadmill of responding to consistently ignored ‘public consultations’. Looking at the UK things don’t look very much different. The result in Ireland is that no decline is foreseen in total emissions at all even to 2035, the limit of current projections.

    As with so much Ecomod and climate denial framing the exact reverse of what they say is very often far closer to the truth.

  13. Richard says:

    The Ecomodernism Manifesto includes the statement:

    “To the degree to which there are fixed physical boundaries to human consumption, they are so theoretical as to be functionally irrelevant. The amount of solar radiation that hits the Earth, for instance, is ultimately finite but represents no meaningful constraint upon human endeavors”

    The bit about solar is true, but they chose one example where this actually is true.

    Which is interesting because it might suggest a liking for solar. Well yes – but sometime in the future – because today the Ecomodernists never miss an opportunity to knock solar for being a green illusion, when compared to the obvious immediately available solution (nuclear, which is easy after all, just ask EDF re. Hinckley C project) e.g.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323716304578482663491426312

    The ‘functionally limitless’ idea is of course not a new idea. This is lifted straight from a line of thinking that goes back to at least Julian Simon in the 1980s: there is and never will be a resource crisis because we will always find cheaper ways to extract or innovate. In part, this was a reaction to Paul Erlich’s 1960s re-telling of Malthusianism.

    The Ecomodernists are simply re-framing the same idea of ineluctable progress, where technological advancement and the market will overcome all before them. Matt Ridley is essentially beating the same drum, ad nauseum. John Gray eviscerates Ridley’s latest attempt to reframe this in pseudo-scientific terms:

    “If The Evolution of Everything has any value, it’s as a demonstration that, outside of science, there isn’t much progress – even of the vaguer sort – in the history of thought. Bad ideas aren’t defeated by falsification, and they don’t fade away. As Ridley’s book shows, they simply recur, quite often in increasingly primitive and incoherent forms.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/16/the-evolution-of-everything-matt-ridley-review

    Are there no functional limits to palm oil used in many consumer products? Well, they are available to us at great market prices for our ‘benefit’, in our products with opaque supply chains, whose end point is the destruction of ancient rainforests: ripped up with the help of corrupt politicians at an alarming rate that most certainly does have limits. No functional limit? Give over! Messy reality confronts grandiose theorising.

    I am also sceptical about what appears to be an overwhelming preference for the high-tech versus the low tech (as we saw earlier with nuclear versus solar). Yet, look at many advances in health, and low-tech often has a huge, probably bigger role to play than hi-tech. Was it not the great stink of 1858 and Bazalgette’s solution – a great sewerage system for London that is still functional today – that made a massive change to health and disease control in the city? Very low on tech, but high on vision.

    In the new world of Big Data Healthcare, yes we will find that continuous, digitised health records, and linking of clinical data and genomics, will dramatically improve decision making across populations … but guess what the principal advice from well-being clinicians is for a healthier society? … more exercise and better diet! Very low tech and high on the bleeding obvious, I must say.

    This is not Either-Or, but the fact is that often the heavy lifting in advancing society is as much through boring ‘low tech’ stuff, as it is through some great new advance. And, there are no functional limits of common sense, when people are allowed to find solutions in organizations, often using the tools they already have to hand (none of this v2.0 in-the-futurism).

    I think that to be taken seriously, Ecomodernists need to jettison this Simonesque ‘no functional limits’ dogma (so they start to look like they actually have a plan, or at least a strategy, that would work in the real world).

    Note: I am not holding my breath.

  14. Joseph says:

    The Ecomodernists are simply re-framing the same idea of ineluctable progress, where technological advancement and the market will overcome all before them. Matt Ridley is essentially beating the same drum, ad nauseum. John Gray eviscerates Ridley’s latest attempt to reframe this in pseudo-scientific terms:

    What I question about this premise is if we have known about AGW and it’s risks for several decades now, why hasn’t technological progress already solved the problem? And has bee pointed out before, the longer we wait the more dramatic the reduction in CO2 will need to be. But anyway, I think there assumptions of inevitable technological progres have failed so far when it comes to climate change.

  15. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “The posts are lengthy, so I haven’t digested them fully, but they do seem to highlight many of the sames issues I have considered myself”

    Likewise, I’ve only had time to skim just a tiny bit, let alone had time to even begin looking at the links in the last thread I’d like to read…..

    But in skimming I came across the following two paragraphs and wanted to post them here because like you, they highlight an issue that I have:

    “Let me now whizz through some points that ought to be easy to clear up before moving on to weightier matters. Mike summarizes my position as “There are still poor people. Hence, modernity is a complete failure….People are still dying from disease. Hence, modern medicine is a complete failure.” This isn’t even a reductio ad absurdum of my argument. It’s just an absurdum plain and simple. As even a casual reading of my essay should make clear, I don’t oppose modernity because it’s failed to end poverty. I oppose spurious claims that modernization doesn’t ever cause poverty or is the only means for ending it.

    Mike also wrote “Ecomodernism says we have moral obligation to extend gifts of technology & modernity to those who have to date been left behind”. This notion of being ‘left behind’ by modernity is a common ecomodernist trope, but it’s a fallacy. The slaves shipped across the Atlantic to toil in the plantations of the New World, the modern slaves working southeast Asian fishing boats, the litter pickers of the Mumbai slums, the aborigines killed by colonial genocide and their descendants eking out an existence on reservations in America or Australia, the poor farmers and rural proletarians working across the fields and plantations of the world, the Bangladeshi sweatshop workers and the Filipina maids in the world’s great cities have not been ‘left behind’ by modernity but have lived it every bit as much as Silicon Valley millionaires or San Francisco policy analysts. Mike says that modernity has created more winners than losers. He’s a braver man than me to hazard some great reckoning of slaughtered Indians versus retired accountants, but maybe so, maybe so. My argument is not that people’s lot can never be improved by ‘modernization’ – but it is that modernization, like most political processes, creates winners and losers. Unlike most others, it has done it at an unprecedented speed and scale.”

    I highlight this because it’s so illustrative, IMO, of my problem with EM – in how in his Tweets Shellenberger exploits legitimate questions and concerns in order to….well…it’s hard to even know what his purpose is in doing so.

    It’s frustrating for me that while the EMers do highlight some questions that I think are interesting and worthy of discussion, like Ridley and Tol and RPJr and Lomborg, etc., they undermine discourse and pollute the discussion in ways that are very dispiriting. Not to say that some participants on the others sides of issues don’t engage in the same juvenile and counterproductive manner, of course.

    Chris Smaje’s argument here:

    My argument is not that people’s lot can never be improved by ‘modernization’ – but it is that modernization, like most political processes, creates winners and losers.

    Is just such basic common sense – not only in it’s specifics or in a way limited to the context, but as a basic form of logic and good faith discourse. Why is it so difficult to see exchanges which can start from such a basic, commonsense point of agreement, and work forward from there?

  16. Joshua,
    Yup, you noticed exactly the same bits that I did. I wonder if this has anything to do with what Richard E. highlighted. The idea that we should treat our progress a little as if it behaves like natural selection. Matt Ridley had a recent book that was torn to shreds in the Guardian review that Richard E links to in his comment. There was one key point that the review highlighted. Natural Selection operates because we have genes that can influence our characteristics. External influences can then give some variants an advantage over others. So, the process involves some winning, and others losing. Also, which I think is crucial in this context, it’s a response to external influences. Natural selection doesn’t operate because it would simply be nice to evolve in a particular way, it a response to external influences that give certain traits an advantage over others. Okay, I’m not a biologist, so anyone who has more expertise than I do in this area is welcome to correct my misrepresentations.

  17. Joshua,
    You may like this particular Twitter conversation. You couldn’t make it up. (I think you’ll need to click on it to see the full conversation and to get the full context).

  18. Willard says:

    Seems that I can’t read Mike’s messianic messaging, AT.

    Wonder why?

  19. Willard,
    Have you been blocked too? Even so, it doesn’t appear that being blocked stops you from reading his messages.

  20. Willard says:

    Right. You can when they’re into someone else’s stream of conscious tweets. However, you can’t go back to the Holy Grail, where the messianic messaging gets manufactured.

  21. OPattison tells us much of what we need to know about EM in his Telegraph article. Here is a man who has proved to us he denies climate change: yet he finds EM to be attractive to the point of writing an article in support and summing it up as, “Economic growth is the key to saving the planet”. No wonder it’s for him.

    I’m not going to bother going through his article, as mainly it’s a long list of untruths presented, with hubris, as unassailable facts. The rest is a series of cherry picks topped off with a sprinkling of insults, aimed at what the so-called ‘Green Blob’. I wait to see his fellow EM supporters resisting his advances—or will they, like the climate “skeptics”, welcome anyone who is on-side, however contradictory their beliefs?

  22. Willard,
    Ahh, I see. Yes, I have the same problem.

  23. Magma says:

    The Twitter seque from an ancient alien’s original tweet of ‘less than half’ to Shellenberger’s ‘not even double’ was smoothly done, if you admire that sort of slippery rhetoric.

    In fact, since Palo Verde set a record average output of 3.7 GW in 2014 while metered, grid-connected California PV power alone peaked at 6.3 GW on August 20, 2015, even his revised guesstimate is likely still wrong since California currently accounts for about 2/3 of installed PV capacity in the US.

  24. Richard E. (and others) you may find this talk about the Simon-Ehrlich bet interesting.

  25. Richard says:

    More reading … damn you! 🙂

  26. BBD says:

    Solary hyperbole is tiresome and misleading whoever is doing it.

    Solar doesn’t work very well during the winter once you get up into the mid-latitudes and there is no seasonal storage technology to get around this.

    Surface irradiance, wiinter vs summer, US states:

  27. Sam Taylor says:

    Has anyone ever done much reading on system justification theory? It’s an interesting bit of social psychology, and I came across a rather decent paper/quote earlier today and figured that it applies to the ecomodernists quite well, especially the criticisms that they raised of the article you linked to. The quote goes:

    “We argue that there is a general (but not insurmountable) system justification
    motive to defend and justify the status quo and to bolster the legitimacy of the
    existing social order. Such a motive is not unique to members of dominant groups.
    We see it as comparable—in terms of its strength and social significance—to
    widely documented motives to defend and justify the interests and esteem of the
    self-concept and the social group . We expand previous theoretical notions and claim
    that people want to hold favorable attitudes about themselves and about their own
    groups, but they also want to hold favorable attitudes about social and political
    systems that affect them.”

    Remind anyone of any of the landed gentry, at all?

  28. “Two words only are needed to make the Ecomods disinclined to engage in dialogue:

    carbon budget

    #######################

    go on..

  29. Okay, what’s your estimate for a carbon budget, or an argument against why it isn’t necessary to consider that?

  30. Richard says:

    BBD – not sure what your graph proves: it is ok to have excess area to compensate for seasonal variation, and of course, each country will have different choices and different energy mixes, but continental scale smart grids are also part of an overall renewables strategy. Some folk are cranking the numbers e.g. for USA

    http://thesolutionsproject.org/infographic/#

  31. Lovely asymetry

    ‘It’s frustrating for me that while the EMers do highlight some questions that I think are interesting and worthy of discussion, like Ridley and Tol and RPJr and Lomborg, etc., they undermine discourse and pollute the discussion in ways that are very dispiriting. Not to say that some participants on the others sides of issues don’t engage in the same juvenile and counterproductive manner, of course.”

    This is a common enough game.

    Its like saying ‘Hilllary is a liar”, and of course we know there are liars on both sides.
    its a cool little move where you get to attack the other tribe in name and then
    avoid the charge of tribalism by saying “oh ya, some nameless guys on my side suck too”

  32. Steven,
    I’m not sure that what you say invalidates the basic point, though.

  33. BBD says:

    Richard

    It was just the way Magma quoted an *annual average* figure for Palo Verde then an August peak for CA SPV. It’s cherry-picking and misleading and it winds me up whoever is doing it.

    Ditto vast amounts of giddy optimism about smart grids that have never been built or tested. I think the apparent belief that we just transition to renewables over a few decades is naive and dangerous as it creates a false sense that the displacement of fossil fuels will not be a vast and thorny problem.

    I’ve just had enough of blithe renewables optimism, really. It’s as dangerous in its way as blithe luckwarmerism.

  34. Magma says:

    I’m entirely aware of that, BBD, and it is NOT the way I would have posed a comparison.

    However the comparison was framed and replied to by Shellenberger well before I showed up.

  35. Actually, I think the comparison was more to do with total energy generated in a year, which is why Shellenberger changed it to 2 Palo Verdes.

  36. Sam Taylor says:

    Ah, yes, continental scale smart grids, that entirely unproven, nonexistant technology. I think that the ecomodernist version of this would be the closed thorium fuel cycle, no? I always think it’s indicative of how much trouble we’re in that both “sides” need to invoke magical things like this to make their schemes look feasible. It is, yet again, trying to solve a problem brought about by too much compelxity with yet more complexity (see Tainter), which will doubtless come with many problems and unintended consequences, as all these things do.

  37. BBD says:

    +1 Sam Taylor

  38. Richard says:

    The National Grid in UK is already pretty smart. I don’t see the incremental innovation required as invoking some ‘magical’ technology jump. Having software that charges your (electric) car at optimal times etc. is hardly far fetched. Will it be quick and easy? Of course not. But what is the alternative? All plans welcome!

  39. Eli Rabett says:

    The closed thorium fuel cycle was the price they paid for Barry Brook

  40. Willard says:

    I would not bet on the “but Simon’s bet” gambit:

    In 1980, Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon placed a famous bet on whether the prices of a bundle of natural resources would rise or fall over the ensuing decade. Simon won the bet as the real price of the bundle fell significantly, and the result of this bet has been taken as proof that technological progress is likely to overcome that of any Neo-Malthusian concerns about natural resource scarcity. Contrary to the popular perception, however, an examination of the price history of the identical bundle of goods from 1900 to 2008 shows that Ehrlich and not Simon would have won a majority of the bets over the past century and would have done so by a wide margin.

    http://leml.asu.edu/Wu-SIs2015F/LECTURES+READINGS/Misc-Refs/Ehrlich-Simon%20Wager/Kiel_etal-2010-The%20Ehrlich-Simon%20bet.pdf

    In the long run, techno-messianism is dead.

  41. Sam Taylor says:

    I’m watching that video on Ehrlich/Simon, and the guy is discussing limits to growth and yet he doesn’t appear to have read it. He’s trotting out the old “limits to growth said that we were going to run out of oil by x date” canard, which is rubbish. I’ve got a battered copy of LTG upstairs, so I can use it to explain why he’s wrong. While they did indeed include 2 tables, one showing how many years we had left at constant rate of usage, and another showing how long we had left with an exponentially increasing usage rate, the did this for the sole purpose of demonstrating how much more rapidly exponential growth will deplete a resource. On the actual fate of the worlds resources they state:

    “Of course the actual nonrenewable resource availability in the next few decades will be determined by factors much more complicated than can be explained by either the simple static reserve index or the exponential reserve index.”

    Their actual preduction runs as follows:

    “Given present resource consumption rates and the projected increase in these rates, the great majority of the currently important nonrenewable resources will be extremely costly 100 years from now.”

    However, for whatever reason, they’re constantly misrepresented by people saying that they predicted that we should have run out of everything by now. It’s a real bugbear of mine when people do that.

  42. Joshua says:

    One of the reasons I like going on my daily hike is that it’s a couple of hours I spend away from the Internet and banality like Steven Mosher’s typical blog comment (e.g., his 9:08 pm)

    But today I made the mistake of listening to a Ted Radio Hour show on my headphones while hiking, and so I heard two clips that brought my focus back to some of the themes touched on in this thread:

    This one talks about the changes coming about as the result of drone warfare

    http://www.npr.org/2015/09/11/439195298/how-are-screens-changing-the-face-of-war

    This one talks about the powerfully affecting medium of interactive video (the example it talks about is one of a Syrian refugee girl where you watch it and feel very closely the full range of her life)

    http://www.npr.org/2015/09/11/439199892/what-happens-when-we-step-inside-the-screen

    They each made me think about this thread because both clips speak about the dual nature of technological advance, and how absurd it would be to consider only the positive aspects of those advancements.

  43. “Steven,
    I’m not sure that what you say invalidates the basic point, though.”

    The basic point being? people are sometimes nasty. basically the basic point is the banality

  44. “Okay, what’s your estimate for a carbon budget, or an argument against why it isn’t necessary to consider that?”

    That’s odd?

    The claim is made that folks don’t want to have a dialog about it, and you start with an interrogation. (kidding)

    I have no idea about a carbon budget, how to estimate it and whether it is needed or not.
    So, I’m open to hearing explanations. One time long ago on Keith Kloors I think MT
    talked about it, and I clearly didnt get what he was talking about.. I recall making a mistake about tons of carbon versus c02… its been a while. and he’s mentioned it again from time to time, but getting a clear exposition .. well its the internet and side battles.

    any ways, since I know very little I’m willing to listen…

    to YOUR ideas.. to have a dialog with YOU… not a dialog with some other text but with you.
    How would you explain it in your own words and how would you figure it out. You have a knack for making things understandable so I trust you.

    no disputes from me… and no request for engineering level documents.. just how you think about it and where you start and end.

  45. Joshua says:

    ==> “The basic point being? people are sometimes nasty. ”

    Read harder.

  46. Magma says:

    The North American grid (or rather its half-dozen regional US +/- Canada subgrids plus interconnections) is already a highly sophisticated feat of adaptive engineering matching multiple supply sources to rapidly changing loads while maintaining voltage, frequency, phase and peak currents within narrow limits as well as dealing with unplanned outages and meteorological and geophysical phenomena ranging from lightning strikes to magnetic storms.

    Widely-distributed sources +/- local storage should only serve to make the system more robust, assuming even minimally-competent engineering is brought to bear (and we will see better than that). In my opinion the complexity of the current system is too often underestimated and the difficulties involved in moving to a more decentralized grid too often overestimated.

    Of course we have to question how rapidly and extensively intermittent renewable sources can be implemented in concert with cost-effective and long-lived short-term energy storage systems… but we should try our best to answer that question too.

    And speaking of cost-effectiveness, proponents of a nuclear renaissance have to demonstrate they can design and build new generation reactors on budget, a very basic test most have been failing for decades now.

  47. Willard says:

    An image from a post entitled Carbon Budget Arguments:

    Source: http://planet3.org/2014/07/04/10155/

  48. Willard says:

    Another cheesy graphic:

    This time the article is called WORLD ENERGY OUTLOOK 2013 – WHAT IT DOESN’T SAY:

    http://larsboelen.nl/2013/11/world-energy-outlook-2013-what-it-doesnt-say/

  49. Willard, I can’t have a dialog with charts. they don’t speak for themselves.

    I want to know what you think about carbon budgets.

  50. Reading harder

    Anders –

    ==> “The posts are lengthy, so I haven’t digested them fully, but they do seem to highlight many of the sames issues I have considered myself”
    ###########################
    Translation: I didnt read hard, but I expect others to

    ##################################################
    Likewise, I’ve only had time to skim just a tiny bit, let alone had time to even begin looking at the links in the last thread I’d like to read…..

    Translation: I didn’t read this harder either

    I highlight this because it’s so illustrative, IMO, of my problem with EM – in how in his Tweets Shellenberger exploits legitimate questions and concerns in order to….well…it’s hard to even know what his purpose is in doing so.
    ######################################

    He exploits legitamate questions. thats nasty.

    It’s frustrating for me that while the EMers do highlight some questions that I think are interesting and worthy of discussion, like Ridley and Tol and RPJr and Lomborg, etc., they undermine discourse and pollute the discussion in ways that are very dispiriting. Not to say that some participants on the others sides of issues don’t engage in the same juvenile and counterproductive manner, of course.
    #################################
    they are nasty they pollute discourse. they dont read hard like I do. they dispirit me.

    Is just such basic common sense – not only in it’s specifics or in a way limited to the context, but as a basic form of logic and good faith discourse. Why is it so difficult to see exchanges which can start from such a basic, commonsense point of agreement, and work forward from there?

    maybe cause people just skim stuff and then ask others to read harder. who knows

  51. Since no one showed up for the dialog I will talk to myself

    “Okay, what’s your estimate for a carbon budget, or an argument against why it isn’t necessary to consider that?”

    1. we need a carbon budget. I think it’s a good metric. want to argue?
    2. What’s my estimate? reading Pearce I see that the consensus is all over the map,
    so we would have to talk in terms of principles rather than hard numbers.

    A) what threshold do we consider. rather than argue for 2C, I’d like to see budgets for 1,2 and 3C
    B) what sensitivity do we consider? hmm. again I’d like to see results for 2C, 3C and 4C ECS
    C) do we consider negative emmission? hmm I’d like to see a couple cases here, no negative
    emmission and then some varaitions.

    and then I suppose the hardest part is figuring what is politically feasible.

    In point of fact we are already HAVING the dialog about carbon budgets that nobody wants to have..we are just having it in other terms.

  52. Willard says:

    There is a limit of carbon we can dump into the atmosphere. Before we try to pussyfoot about the actual limit, it might be nice if we all agreed there’s one. If we could also acknowledge that this limit is independent from whatever we may think about Grrrowth, that would be nice too.

    Trying to hedge that limit with “but the poor” goes beyond the limits of justified disingenuousness. More so when very little is done in the very first place. There are winners and losers, and our current elites are playing in winner-take-all tournaments at the expense of everyone else.

    While Shellenberger’s messianism may be excused by the Californian ethos, Slag Alice can’t cover up Matt King Coal’s moral bankcrupcy.

  53. Kevin O'Neill says:

    SM writes: “here willard if you want to have a dialog with fred”

    As Fred says, after ruminating on various numbers by different organizations and scientists So what is going on? The good news is that most of the discrepancies arise from different assumptions and policy scenarios, rather than outright disagreements about the science. The bad news is that means there is no single right answer.

    I think the point was what do you believe, not what does Fred believe. Which, BTW, Fred never says what he believes, he simply points out the views of others.

    It’s a pretty basic question. How much warming can we abide? The carbon budget is then a pretty simple corollary. 1.5C? 2C? 3C?

    I’m with Hansen in that 2C is probably someplace we don’t want to go. And like Hansen I believe lower values are not only more desirable, but realistically possible.

  54. Joshua says:

    I appreciate the effort that you’ve already made, Steven, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to try reading again, Harder this time.

    If you still can’t figure it out after your next attempt, ask me and I’ll be happy to explain it to you.. It is possible that you’re simply not up to the job and need some guidance – so I won’t hold it against you.

  55. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    BTW – I know that you’ll get a kick out of this – from the blurb from Tom Fuller’s book:

    “Presenting reasoned arguments and dispassionate data, Fuller suggests heated rhetoric be set aside so a rational way forward can be found.

    That takes some serious stones.

  56. As far as carbon budgets go, the bottom figure in this post seems instructive to me. As of now, if we want a 66% chance to stay below 2C, then we’d have to halve our emissions (i.e., GtC/yr) before 2040. If we do nothing for 5 years and let our emissions continue to grow, we’d have to half it even faster.

    Of course, if climate sensitivity turns out to be low, such pathways will give us an even higher chance of staying below 2C.

    However, what I think this figure really shows is how difficult it will be to stay below 2C. So, a “do nothing for the moment” strategy would almost guarantee >2C. So, my personal view is that we really should be thinking about emission reductions and how to do so as quickly as possible (while also taking into account all the consequences of doing so). The reason I say that is that if we continue along our current emission trajectory for another couple of decades, you’ll be able to produce a figure like that in the post I link to above, expect for staying below 3C, rather than 2C. If the impacts of 2C are as severe as some think, we may be almost forced into such a drastic emission reduction pathway, and I think that a more gradual approach would be preferable.

    It is early, so I may not have expressed myself as clearly as I could have.

  57. Steven,

    they are nasty they pollute discourse. they dont read hard like I do. they dispirit me.

    I don’t mind nasty; I find hypocritical irritating. If people want to push an agenda and batter down anything that stands in their way, go ahead. Doing that while pretending you’re not is what I find annoying. See Joshua’s most recent comment for a classic example.

  58. In point of fact we are already HAVING the dialog about carbon budgets that nobody wants to have..we are just having it in other terms.

    Really? In some cases this seems to involve not discussing carbon budgets.

  59. Andrew Dodds says:

    Looking at Sam’s comment..

    This is the real gap.

    By analogy – you take the suite of technologies available to the combatants in 1945. Now, go to a reasonable scientist in 1938 and say that within 7 years we will have radar capable of detecting submarines, rockets capable of being fired thousands of miles, jet aircraft, Infrared scopes, nuclear weapons, computers.. many of which had gone from concept to mass production. That scientist would laugh at you. But it happened, and it happened because governments actually put the money in for research and development. And it’s notable that many of these technologies were known at least in concept for some time before the war, but barely any effort was going on to commercialize or develop them.

    So if the Ecomodernists are sincere they will realise this and be arguing for serious government R&D programs – Thorium reactors, smart grids, synfuels, and the rest are not going to suddenly appear by magic, they’ll happen when a bunch of engineers are given enough resources to make them happen. Unfortunately, or current economic setup seems designed to stop engineers from having enough resources to develop new tech. And if they are not going to argue for this – if they just think that new tech will just pop up – then it’s hard to take them seriously.

  60. Andrew Dodds says:

    Oh, and I do suspect that denial will persist past the 2K point. That’s the real horror – there will NEVER be a point where drastic emissions cuts will have a noticeable effect on the following decade of climate, therefore no matter how dramatic global warming gets there will be politicians using the ‘do nothing expensive on my watch’ line.

  61. BBD says:

    Magma

    There is no renewables vs nuclear argument coming from me.

    It is painfully clear to that all low carbon energy technologies will need to be deployed to the maximum to avoid dangerous warming. All of them. Even then, it looks like decarbonisation will be piecemeal and slow and there’s no time to spare (see carbon budget above).

    We do not have the luxury of pushing nuclear off the table on ideological grounds. It will have to be deployed to the max where geopolitically feasible as part of a pragmatic approach to global energy transition.

    I agree with with James Hansen that the claims of a 100% renewable world by mid-century are nebulous in detail and wildly optimistic and could easily result in an energy shortfall filled by fossil fuels. I will not support anything that gets in the way of the optimum path to decarbonisation, so I view the only rational policy as being holistic, not exclusive. Everything *must* stay on the table. We’re taking big enough gambles with the future as it is.

  62. Sam taylor says:

    Andrew,

    While I appreciate the analogy, I think it’s a little bit backwards. Yes, I’m sure there will be more big technology changes over the next 10-20 years and I expect some things I doubt will work will make me look foolish. But I think that a lot of the “oh don’t worry smart grids and thorium” arguments are more equivalent to people at the start of WW2 saying “oh, don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll have an atomic bomb ready in a few years to help us win”. Also, how many technologies that were theorised before or during WW2 failed to make it off the drawing board? We’ve got a bit of survivorship bias here. There’s no guarantee these ideas will work as we want them to. Furthermore, everything we currently know about energy transitions is that they’re generally protracted affairs, due to the nature of the machinery involved. Supposing that we’ll achieve a fundamental reengineering of the grid by say 2030, as groups like Greenpeace often do, is piffle.

    The R&D is nowhere near the level it needs to be to match our aspirations, on that I agree with you. Furthermore, many of the smartest scientists and engineers I know from university are currently working in places like private equity or algo trading. Energy research is a bit of a redheaded stepchild by comparison.

  63. This to me is a crucial point

    The R&D is nowhere near the level it needs to be to match our aspirations

    I’m sure there are plenty of technological advances that could be made in the coming decades, some which are obvious, some which we think won’t work but will, and some we haven’t even thought of yet. However, they’re not going to happen by chance and the likelihood of them happening almost certainly depends on how much we invest in R&D.

  64. Victor Petri says:

    @Willard
    How can a 1900 to 2008 period have Ehrlich win more hypothetical bets? Commodities have systematically cheapened in that time frame, even though cherry picking the 2008 top.

  65. vp,
    Watch the video. For the 5 things in the bet, Ehrlich would have won more times than he lost, if we consider all 10 year periods between 1900 and 2008. As the video points out, though, some of this was recoveries from crashes.

  66. Victor Petri says:

    And I don’t really understand everyone’s beef with the EM, it probably is not even directed at you guys, but as people that see the solution of mankind’s problem as us living more in harmony with nature, as many environmentalists do. This is where it poses a different vision of, namely one of decoupling, e.g. by being in favour of urbanisation, GMO and nuclear power.

    By the way, world poverty is most definitely being tackled by the current socio economic system. Please carry on as is.
    http://ourworldindata.org/data/growth-and-distribution-of-prosperity/world-poverty/
    http://ourworldindata.org/data/growth-and-distribution-of-prosperity/world-poverty/#absolute-number-of-people-living-in-extreme-poverty-1820-2011-max-roserref

  67. Victor Petri says:

    @attp
    So it makes use of the fact that commodities cycles accidentally peaks going into a new decade. Taking a random 10 year period, or taking a 20 year period would make Simon once again the winning party. So in principal, Simon was correct.

  68. vp,
    Nope, it simply points out that over the last 100 years, Ehrlich would have won the bet more times than he would have lost.

    So in principal, Simon was correct.

    Watch the video. You’re beautifully illustrating one of the points that was being made.

  69. Andrew Dodds says:

    Sam –

    Well, yes – a lot of things went wrong as well. We thought that we could fight wars by dropping loads of bombs from 20,000 feet, that didn’t really work…

    But the point is that if we really went for it – said ‘Here are a group of good prospect technologies and we are going to put serious effort into developing them’, I suspect we could go a lot faster and further than seems possible now. Some effort would be wasted and blind alleys pursued, yes.

    My main point was that the Ecomodernist assumption that new technologies will save us only works if we actually invest in new technologies. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘Government’.

  70. Joshua says:

    vp –

    ==> “And I don’t really understand everyone’s beef with the EM,…”

    The first answer to your question is that obviously, there are different beefs with ‘EM. Your question seems to suggest that there’s only one beef, that’s shared by everyone, and that everyone has only one beef. That suggests that while you’ve probably read many comments detailing what those different beefs are, you haven’t taken them in. And what resides in your head is instead, a caricature of who is responding.

    ==> “…but as people that see the solution of mankind’s problem as us living more in harmony with nature, as many environmentalists do.”

    And that helps to illustrate what I mean – resting on a false dichotomy between “living more in harmony with nature” and “solutions to man’s problem.” Although I think that we would have better lives if we live more in harmony with nature, I don’t think that we’re going to solve humankind’s problems by burning all our circuit boards, abandoning all our manufacturing plants, and living in caves and smearing mud on each other as protection against mosquitoes. And I don’ think that “many” environmentalists think that either.

    One of my beefs with EM – not actually related to their position on issues, is that they seem to be, for some reason that I don’t fully understand, operationalizing the kind of misconception that you displayed as they go about promoting their views. That’s what I see in Shellenberger’s Twitter campaigns. I don’t think that they’re stupid enough to really believe that “many environmentalists” are as extreme as the cartoon caricaturization that you provide (I don’t think that you’re that stupid either) – so my guess is that they think that by adopting an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” PR approach they can win favor for their ideas with a wider cross-section of the public. I think they’re wrong about that. Or, maybe, they’re just caught up in the whole identity warfare melee and can’t see how their biases are polluting their discourse.

    If you want to know in more detail what the some of the beefs “you people” have EM, try reading the posts that Anders highlighted in the OP. But I suggest before doing so, consider this part that I clipped from one of those posts, and my follow-on comment, and you’ll have a general sense of my overall beef:

    Chris Smaje’s argument here:

    My argument is not that people’s lot can never be improved by ‘modernization’ – but it is that modernization, like most political processes, creates winners and losers.

    Is just such basic common sense – not only in it’s specifics or in a way limited to the context, but as a basic form of logic and good faith discourse.

  71. Willard says:

    > How can a 1900 to 2008 period have Ehrlich win more hypothetical bets?

    The bet was on five metals, vp, not a whole market. The paper is less than three pages long, graphics included. Click on it.

    As far as I’m concerned, both were wrong and one got lucky.

  72. Willard says:

    > This is where it poses a different vision of, namely one of decoupling, e.g. by being in favour of urbanisation, GMO and nuclear power.

    The concept of decoupling only implies we root for urbanisation. Nuclear power comes from Shellenberger’s own preferences, and GMO comes from surfing on some bashing that was so popular at one time that even Keith Kloor jumped into that gravy train.

  73. afeman says:

    I also find it kind of extraordinary how LTG has gotten strawmanned through the decades. Also how otherwise smart, analytical people will chortle “Ehrlich lost his bet, and no population bomb! Malthusian looooooosers!” without any consideration of how exactly he was off-target.

    The same thing happened with that systems modelling paper a couple years ago. It seemed to get slagged over the claim of some 9/11 truther that it had NASA’s imprimatur.

    That these sorts of messages rarely enjoy a rational critique is disquieting.

  74. Steven Mosher says:

    “There is a limit of carbon we can dump into the atmosphere.”
    AGREED.

    “Before we try to pussyfoot about the actual limit, it might be nice if we all agreed there’s one. If we could also acknowledge that this limit is independent from whatever we may think about Grrrowth, that would be nice too.”
    That is a strange requirement to put on dialog. That we all agree before we start to talk. I can’t make others agree. Only I can agree. And I do. But you won’t talk to me until I can make others agree. That ensures blowing through the budget we both seek.

    “Trying to hedge that limit with “but the poor” goes beyond the limits of justified disingenuousness. More so when very little is done in the very first place. There are winners and losers, and our current elites are playing in winner-take-all tournaments at the expense of everyone else.”

    Agreed but you don’t see me making any argument about the poor do you. Seems like it is your side that doesn’t want a good faith dialog. Let’s see you have made unconditional demands for agreement, insinuated that folks are dishonest
    And basically avoided the very question that attp asked me.

    But still I am here agreeing with the need for a carbon budget. Waiting for an actual person to show up and discuss what they think that should be and why. I’ve explained how I would go about gathering the information I would consider relevant.. Is 2c right 1.5? Do we hope for negative emissions or is that just luck warming in disguise?

    While Shellenberger’s messianism may be excused by the Californian ethos, Slag Alice can’t cover up Matt King Coal’s moral bankcrupcy.

  75. I’ve explained how I would go about gathering the information I would consider relevant.. Is 2c right 1.5?

    I don’t know what the right temperature is. However, from talking to people and reading various things, 4C is regarded as virtually certain to be catastrophic. It also appears that having a reasonable chance of staying below 2C is no longer possible unless we start making drastic emission reductions now. So what’s my view? Start talking seriously about emissions reductions now and find ways to actually do so, be they CCS, nuclear, wind, solar, ….. Of course, they all have their own risks, but if we don’t actually start reducing emissions soon, we’ll probably be forced to take drastic action in the future. I don’t think you need a specific carbon budget, but you could argue that another 1500 GtC is heading for 4C, keeping it below 500GtC from now is going to be very hard. I’m kind of with Michael Tobis on this; reduce emissions as fast as is possible, while accepting that defining “as fast as is possible” is non-trivial, since it includes that we shouldn’t do it in a manner that would cause more problems than it solves.

    Do we hope for negative emissions or is that just luck warming in disguise?

    Probably. I guess it might be possible, but I think that hoping for it – or banking on it – is a very poor strategy.

  76. Willard says:

    > Let’s see you have made unconditional demands for agreement, insinuated that folks are dishonest And basically avoided the very question that attp asked me.

    Not at all. I’ve explained why Shellenberger’s messianism is bogus by expanding on Paul Price’s two words. This satisfies the first step of that list:

    For concerns over good faith and dialog, it’s next door.

  77. Joshua says:

    Yup. Positions vs. Interests. Now where have I heard that before.

  78. izen says:

    There is a long tradition of manifestos, mission statements and declarations of aims and goals not matching the actual functional effects of the institutions, organisations and governments that make them.

    In fact it seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Even in those cases where the intentions are sincerely held and pursued with logic and integrity the unforeseen consequences, the unintended side effects can radically alter what is achieved in reality compared to the overt stated ends.

    However the Ecomods rather give the game away in the enthusiasm they employ in describing the efficacy of the solution they prescribe, without a matching specificity about the problem it is meant to solve. The failure pointed out by many to explain WHY we need to benefit from urban concentration and a decoupling from ‘Nature’ by describing the consequences to be avoided and the amount of CO2 emissions their solution would constrain is telling. The reason for this rush to megacities and high intensity food production to leave wild land untouched is not described in terms of the harms it avoids, by leaving fossil carbon unburnt. It is promoted as a beneficial goal independently of any specific effect on the key metric, the amount of fossil carbon we add to the atmosphere.

    Occasionally (or often at WUWT and Beibart) those who reject the scientific projection of significant impacts from anthropogenic climate change will charge that the whole ‘fraud/hoax’ is an attempt to use a scientific legitimisation for a political goal. That AGW is a trojan horse to smuggle in a particular utopian vision of a New World Order. The complaint is that the ‘catastrophic’ impacts claimed for AGW are exaggerated, but the aim of a global governance and de-industrialisation are hidden or ambiguous.

    The Ecomods seem to have adopted the opposite strategy. The solution, urban high density living and decoupling from as much of the biosphere and ecology as possible is presented as a wonderful end result and solution to a problem that remains ill-defined and ambiguous. They accuse the ‘Green Blob’ of using climate change to push an ideological agenda…

    Functionally the Ecomods seem to divert attention from the specific nature of the problem and focus it on the final solution. However the wonderful high-tech city future with a decoupled agricultural system seems to be reached by BAU with a few strokes of techno-greenwash. The end is described without much attention to the problem it is claimed to solve, or the means to reach it.

    I noticed a passing comment mentioned in the discussions referring to the Favelas as ‘VIBRANT’. The shanty towns that grow around S American and Asian cities are the real world enactment of the move from the land into an urban life that the Ecomods are advocating. Presumably that ‘vibrance’ is embodied in the murder rate. I doubt that the ongoing and growing mass migration problem now developing globally will be seen as a good step towards the Ecomod solution to AGW either. Those are the real world effects of climate change and the movement of people from ‘subsistence’ farming to live in high density urban centers. What political process I wonder do the Ecomods envision to convert that to the high-tech floating cities of the future utopia.

    At least I hope they will be floating cities, given sea level rise will destroy the functionality of around half of the worlds current major cities because they are sea level ports…

  79. izen,
    Yes, it is quite remarkable that the Ecomodernist Manifesto, which is arguing for quite drastic changes to our lifestyles, is being embraced by those who claim that AGW is being used by some to argue that we need to change our lifestyles.

  80. izen says:

    I went looking for practical real world examples of the sort of transition to high-density urban living that the Ecomods seem to be advocating. Claims that a transition in lifestyle or social organisation is desirable often prove pointless unless such a change is practical. Historical or current instances of the changes advocated are much more persuasive I find than messianic claims such a future is the best of all possible worlds.

    Especially when the means to reach it appears to be BAU with some as yet to be invented convenient technology.

    While Favelas and refugee camps represent one aspect of the real world social change from agricultural populations to urban centers there is an example of the centrally planned transition. The new mega-cities in China. Many are under construction, some near completion but still uninhabited and have been dubbed ‘Ghost Cities’. But they illustrate how a centraly planned and controlled society can adapt and facilitate such a social change without having to rely on a purely reactive and adaptive response.

    The following article makes a point however about the three types of development China is using to realise the goal of concentrating the population in urban centers. I generally find Forbes can mislead by omission, but the included information is usually accurate. Of course the emphasis is skewed. In this article the ‘problem’ of the ghost cities is seen as the debt burden they must incurr before commercial occupation. The benefit of established integrated infrastructure with the built in capacity to absorb an expected, and desired, social change is overlooked.

    It does however indicate that the Ecomod mega-city route is not the only way the Chinese government sees the future.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2015/07/20/what-will-become-of-chinas-ghost-cities/

    “China’s developing its urban architecture three ways: new cities (xinshi), new districts (xinqu) and the so-called townification (chengzhenhua). Townification is quite a departure from the way Chinese cities have developed to date. This is the transformation of small rural centers and even tribal villages and building a small urban center around them. …
    Roughly 40% of the 300 million Chinese expected to move into a city by 2030 will mostly be moving to smaller cities in the “chengzhenhua” system. Rather than migrating to cities, the cities will be built around them instead.”

  81. Richard says:

    Are those that promote megacities advocating socialist city states? So what might the hierarchy of greed look like when compressed into citadels? Here is something I wrote back in 2011 to friends following a trip to Abu Dhabi:

    “I chatted to a taxi driver from Pakistan, who seemed well educated and had excellent English. Abu Dhabi is mostly foreign workers, the bulk being low paid construction workers but also those in hotels, taxis, etc. that are an underclass. My driver kept only 1 in 7 AED of the fares. But there are commissions / accelerators so he is almost forced to work 7 days a week, 16 hrs a day and lives in a workers place, 10 men to a dormitory, with poor sanitary facilities. If he stays for 2 years, he gets a paid trip home. Not allowed to marry a local woman. No citizenship possible. A far cry from the expensive Malls and manicured ‘ex Pats’, and all hidden from view to locals and visitors alike. They play golf on perfect greens, which when viewed from the air looking like green islands in the desert. A perfectly manicured culturally lobotomised world where litter is as invisible as the invisible underclass who clean it up. Stepford in the desert is what comes to mind.”

    Do we think these future megacities would not magnify this kind of hell on Earth to obscene proportions, which will not survive any sustained challenged to the autocratic authority needed to hold it all together.

    Not a prediction. An alternate scenario for those with imaginings of cosy citadels.

  82. The developed world, notably US, Europe, Russia and Japan, are all ramping down their emissions.

    And now that group appears to include China.

    There is a paradox here.

    Going from undeveloped to developed means increasing emissions because of the energy use of economic growth.

    But at the same time, achieving development improves efficiency, which reduces emissions. Further, economic development means education and empowerment of women which reduces population growth.

    But that too has a paradox – reduced population growth then also reduces economic growth.

    Much of this has yet to play out, but my takeaway is that economic development, in addition to reducing human suffering, is the answer, not the problem to environmental footprint.

  83. “Not at all. I’ve explained why Shellenberger’s messianism is bogus by expanding on Paul Price’s two words. This satisfies the first step of that list:”

    You demanded that “we” agree on the need for a carbon budget.
    You bring Shellenberger in to the discussion when HE is not here. I am.
    and you violated the second rule of Negotiating.

    Be that as it may.

    I am still waiting for the dialog that people claimed we folks would run from.

    yes we need a carbon budget.

    next?

  84. BBD says:

    TE

    Much of this has yet to play out, but my takeaway is that economic development, in addition to reducing human suffering, is the answer, not the problem to environmental footprint.

    CO2 emissions are cumulative. How many times have you been told this now? Yet still you keep on with the same nonsensical line about grrrrrowth being the answer.

    No.

    The answer is for you to get your head around the fact that once emitted, CO2 takes a very long time to go away.

  85. Andrew Dodds says:

    Richard –

    That dosen’t really look like socialism.. it looks like a combination of lassiez-faire capitalism with authoritarianism which is just peachy for the rich and hell for everyone else. Neo-feudalism perhaps.

    In any case – you can have a far more subtle decoupling. After all, take England. High population density overall, but 80% urban and something like 7% developed (all non-agricultural use).

    Even the 20% non-urban is a definition thing. So.. decouple agriculture, stop CO2 emissions and possibly move some people out of designated-wild areas (not many, though) and that’s it. Mega City One not required.

    Remember – it’s not physical living space, it’s the total footprint. My suburban house + garden isn’t the problem, it’s the fields to provide food, ocean for fish, and atmosphere as dumping ground that are the problem.

  86. Sam taylor says:

    Turbulent Eddie,

    There is no paradox, there is just you making your usual fallacy of composition. The you account for imported emissions then certainly the UK hasn’t decoupled (see http://emissions.leeds.ac.uk/ ) and the recent decrease is most likely explained by recession as it is in the USA ( http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150721/ncomms8714/full/ncomms8714.html ). All you can say is that the UK has been able to reduce it’s terrestrial emissions in the context of a massive global emissions increase in the last decade. Your arguments are just sophistry.

    Furthermore I don’t know where you got that emissions data for China, but BP have them increasing around 1% from 2013 into 2014. Plus there is likely significant error in the Chinese data anyway ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/16/us-climatechange-carbon-china-exclusive-idUSKCN0RF1QT20150916 ), so trying to infer a change in trend in Chinese emissions in the 2 years of dodgy data (few % error bars either way at least) is a statisfical fallacy on a par with “the pause”.

  87. Eli Rabett says:

    As Eli wrote after a thread here Ecomodernism postulates movement of population to large cities, industrialization of agriculture and the isolation of areas for nature. It is not that we do not know where that vision leads, and we even have examples today of nations that are essentially single cities such as Singapore and Qatar moving in that direction.

    Huxley’s brave new world was based on genetically engineered social classes with the Alphas at the top and the Deltas and Epsilons at the bottom collecting the garbage and providing other services. Today’s city states and those of the ecomodernists require vast numbers of Deltas and Epsilons to support the Alphas. They are ancient greek city states with a small number of citizens benefitting from the labor of a large number of contract workers many on temporary visas. If you are an alpha, it is a good deal, if not, maybe not so much.

    The reliance of the ecomodernist city state on complex technologies requires strong central control to keep the machine running, leaving little room for individuality. City states may occupy not much land, but they require a great deal of land and resources from that land to provide all that the people living in them need. Urban organization and governance is complex. As Izen points out at ATTP, the ecomodern city state requires a social monoculture with no room for dissent and that monoculture is enforced by the power of the state.

    The brave new world of ecomodernism will be a very uncomfortable fit to many ecomodernists’ dreams.

    More at http://rabett.blogspot.com/2015/06/brave-new-world-aldous-huxley-and-eco.html

  88. Willard says:

    > You bring Shellenberger in to the discussion when HE is not here.

    Here’s Paul Price’s comment:

    Two words only are needed to make the Ecomods disinclined to engage in dialogue:

    carbon budget

    YOU are the one who insist in dropping out the ecomods, Mosh.

    ***

    > next?

    We drop Shellenbergerian messianism.

    We drop lukewarm claptraps.

  89. Sam taylor says:

    Do the ecomods even know that much about cities in the first place? Some of the work coming out of the city-scaling research that was kicked off by West and Bettencourt at the Santa-Fe Institute, suggests that bigger cities are less green ( http://www.nature.com/articles/srep04235 ), and in general a reading of that body of literature suggests supralinear scaling of all sorts of properties (energy and materials consumption among them). Indeed cities themselves are the principle engines of consumption, and require ever more to sustain themselves. West concluded in his first paper on the subject that “This…suggests that, as population grows, major innovation cycles must be generated at a continually accelerating rate to sustain growth and avoid stagnation or collapse. “. This is where the ecomods would lead us.

  90. Willard says:

    An ecomodernist paradise:

    Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/04/17/canada-empty-maps_n_5169055.html

    A fiscal paradise for the mining industry too!

  91. Joshua says:

    ==> “It is not that we do not know where that vision leads, and we even have examples today of nations that are essentially single cities such as Singapore and Qatar moving in that direction.”

    1) Cities will continue to grow, particularly in developing countries.
    2) Their green-ness will be contingent on the mannerin which they grow
    3) Past patterns of growth (and ecological impact) do not necessarily predict future patterns of growth.
    4) It would seem that evaluating the ecological impact of future cities should come in the context of evaluating different forms of future growth (in other words, the differntial impact).
    5) Not everyone who advocates “smart growth” in cities is an Eco-modernist.

  92. Sam taylor says:

    Well, (as they acknowledge in the reporty itself in fairness) they’ve omitted rebound effects, which are potentially massive. They also don’t include any energy costs of all the refitting etc that they’re doing, as far as I can tell. I’m only skimming it though, will try to have a proper read later.

  93. Joshua says:

    Two things that jumped out at me from the study you linked, Sam.

    “These results indicate that large cities may not provide as many environmental advantages as previously thought.”

    and

    “From the point of view of allometry, larger cities may not represent an improvement of CO2 emissions as compared with smaller cities.”

  94. Joshua says:

    ==> “Well, (as they acknowledge in the reporty itself in fairness) they’ve omitted rebound effects, which are potentially massive.”

    Could you elaborate?

  95. Victor Petri says:

    @Izen,
    Stewart Brand explains his position on slums:
    http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-10/ff_smartlist_brand

    Although far from ideal, these places actually are areas of where humans improve their lives a lot.

  96. vp,
    Thanks, you’ve reminded me of something in the Dark Thoughts on EcoModernism post, that I’d intended to highlight.

    “Let no one romanticise the slum conditions”, EM co-author Stewart Brand has written, before doing precisely that, “But the squatter cities are vibrant”.

  97. Sam taylor says:

    Joshua,

    Rebound effect basically = Jevons paradox, but a bit more subtle these days. Steve Sorrell is the UK academic who I think has done the most work on it. He put out a pretty big work on it the other year: http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/programmes/technology-and-policy-assessment/the-rebound-effect-report.html

    As an example of it in action, I read a piece a while ago about a poor family in California who were moved into a new eco-house with solar panels and so on, which drastically lowered their energy bills. They consequently bought a new car and started driving more ( http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/homes-make-as-much-energy-as-they-use/ ). As such the question of energy savings becomes non-trivial.

    For myself, I think that rebound effects from improved efficiency are probably one of the main drivers of economic growth over the last century, so pursuing efficiency probably won’t really get us anywhere without also being able to adopt a mindset of sufficiency to go with it.

  98. Joshua says:

    Sam –

    I’ve read a bit about the rebound effect (and that there’s a lot of different views about how much impact it might have, particularly long term)…mostly over at RPJr.’s blog….but I was wondering more how you were speculating that it would apply on a large scale to the arguments advanced in the I publication linked. I’ll read the link you just provided….

  99. Jim Hunt says:

    The latest missive from Mark Lynas seems relevant to this discussion. It’s archived at:

    https://archive.is/S2ZTL

    Mark would seem to be mates with Owen Paterson MP, and states that:

    One of the main reasons why we wrote the ecomodernist manifesto in fact was because so many people seemed determined to define us negatively – so we thought we’d better get a move on and try to define ourselves positively instead.

    So here goes. Ecomodernism is not neoliberalism with a green tinge.
    It is not a cover for business as usual.
    It is not a free pass for corporate polluters to damage our environment.
    Nor is it a simplistic knee-jerk rejection of traditional environmentalism, but more of an attempt to recognise its limitations and move beyond it.

    He then goes on to say what Ecomodernism IS! Apparently:

    It is progressive. It believes in equality, diversity and human rights and freedoms.
    It is therefore humanist – we do not believe that humans are somehow the pre-destined pinnacle of evolution, but we do believe humans are special, giving us as a species special rights and responsibilities both to ourselves and to the non-human natural world. We don’t see humans as innately destructive or doomed and are enthusiastic about the human potential for innovation and problem-solving using technology. Technology is not a dirty word, it is what fundamentally sets us apart from other species.

    He concludes his essay with:

    Ultimately most people want to see poverty eradicated and human rights respected. Most people want to reduce the risk of serious climate destabilisation. Most people want to see the natural world protected and species saved from extinction. There are some at the extremes who don’t want these things, but most of us do. So let’s build on what we have in common – we might find it’s more than we usually think.

    Do you suppose that means Mike S. will now unblock me on Twitter?

  100. Jim Hunt says:

    Re: Paul Price (@swimsure) says: September 21, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    By way of example see: http://GreatEcomodernistCon.info/2015/07/ecomodernism-and-a-carbon-budget/

  101. Willard says:

    > It is therefore humanist

    Does it mean progressivism imply humanism?

    That would sadden those who’d welcome the next singularity:

    If you truly love driving, you need to understand the Autonomotive Singularity, and that means you have to stop ignoring it and accept it.

    http://jalopnik.com/how-science-fiction-failed-us-the-real-future-of-auton-1728909591

    Science-fiction historians may recognize a dream from the past millenium:

    The Knight Rider will never be old fashioned.

  102. Sam taylor says:

    ” We don’t see humans as innately destructive”

    Really? 50% of marine life wiped out in the last 40 years, according to that recent report from the zoological society of London. Entering a new mass extinction, so lots of people are saying. Paradise paved over, parking lot erected. We might not like to think that we’re destructive, but the case against us is pretty damning. One wonders what evidence would persuade them.

  103. Sam,
    Sure, but we didn’t mean to.

  104. Sam taylor says:

    In a way I think that makes it worse. I wish they’d cut the bull and look objectively at what we’ve done and what that says about who we really are, instead of whatever image of humanity makes them feel good about themselves.

  105. Willard says:

    An ecomodernist visits Haiti to inform the intelligentsia of an eminent decoupling of the island. Facing bewilderment, he replies:

    [EM] But the plans were on display.

    [Int] On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar of the Internet to find them.

    [EM] That’s our public relation department.

    [Int] With a torch, in English, all dressed up in political sound bites.

    [EM] Ah, well that’s our tour de force. The lights had probably gone too.

    [Int] So had the stairs.

    [EM] But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?

    [Int] Yes, yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Knight Rider.

  106. Willard says:

  107. BBD says:

    The Knight Rider will never be old fashioned.

    Is that a diesel?

  108. BBD says:

    We don’t see humans as innately destructive

    We didn’t mean to wipe out the megafauna either, it was just a whoopsie.

  109. Jim Hunt says:

    Whilst my questions remain unanswered on Twitter, and my recent comment languishes in the Lynas moderation queue, I find myself having something in common with Ben Pile for a change!

    https://archive.is/2Sw9F#selection-581.404-581.582

    What is common can only be brought out by debate, and that means suffering the hazard that what you believe to be universal, unimpeachable and indubitable, turn out not to be so.

  110. Howard says:

    The Ecomoderns have a zero carbon energy goal and propose a different pathway to get there, therefore they are evil and should be shunned and ridiculed. Very Zen attitude from the enlightened academical progressives. By all means, lets not view this as a positive step in making policy compromises that the great unvarnished will pay for. It’s much easier and vainglorious to make unrealizable demands then point fingers when nothing gets done.

    Explain how this is effectively different from the WUWT nutters?

  111. Magma says:

    Howard: one explanation that comes to mind is that for many years now delaying tactics have been employed side by side with the more obvious frontal attacks by fossil fuel producers and others with large financial stakes and vested interests in carrying on business as usual. A decade of doing little or nothing is a decade more profits and deferred costs… basically it’s money in the bank.

    So strategies and strategists that appear to display a distinct lack of urgency and include technical fixes that won’t appear for many decades (fusion reactors, for example) tend to draw a suspicious response.

  112. BBD says:

    Howard

    Very Zen attitude from the enlightened academical progressives.

    Green Blob.

  113. > The Ecomoderns have a zero carbon energy goal and propose a different pathway to get there, therefore they are evil and should be shunned and ridiculed.

    That’s a caricature, Howard. Or is it shunning and ridicule?

    Ecomodernism is, first and foremost, a branding effort. To use ism-words is suboptimal. To use them when you can’t even get them right (i.e. see Lynas, above) goes beyond the limits of justified disingenuousness. For more on that ism and others:

    (aesthetics) A movement of 20th-century art that opposed traditional representationalism and instead emphasized emotional expressionism or artistic formalism (and sometimes both, as in abstract expressionism).

    http://www.ismbook.com/modernism.html

    Speaking of which:

    * * *

    Ecomodernism is just another way to go nuclear. They could simply say “we’re pro-nuclear” and be done with it. They could even recruit Hansen. Why do they need to wrap up their pro-nuclear sell in so much techno-babble is beyond me. Take that concept of decoupling. What’s different from Monbiot’s concept of rewilding, and more importantly, who should care about this distinction anyway?

    No, they have to talk about “Green this” and “Green that” all the time. If you want to really get ecunemical, there’s no reason to go hippie bashing 140 characters at a time. At the very least, they should own that they’re playing ClimateBall ™, with way much less substance than they pretend. Substance is so modern…

    As Bender would say, needles in my eyes.

  114. Howard,

    The Ecomoderns have a zero carbon energy goal and propose a different pathway to get there

    What pathway? If they quantified this, they’d be essentially defining their carbon budget. I do not think they’ve done that. Promoting nuclear and dismissing virtually everything else, isn’t really a proposal for a pathway.

  115. Willard says:

    Breaking: Michael Shellenberger still rips off his shirt:

    By this standard, how many ideas does Shellenberger hate?

  116. Howard says:

    Magma: The EM’ers are proposing fission, not fusion. It’s the greens who have scuttled fission power, not big oil and big coal. It sounds like your opposition is based on spite.

  117. Howard says:

    Willard: Yeah, I see the branding. How else do you propose they get their voices heard in this day and age? It’s no different than the 97% Consensus branding that “you people” keep falling on your swords to defend. It’s pretty lame of them to use “manifesto” to identify their brand as this was already employed to great success in environmental marketing by a former UCB math professor.

    However, the EM’ers have made a high-level proposal. I view it as a preliminary conceptual model. Perhaps if they called it moderately regulated, free-market, evidence-based environmental industrialism and used hipster-friendly promotions of Five Thirty Eight, then more of you might be more interested in a dialogue.

    I’m not blind to the fact that this Shellenberger guy appears to be thin-skinned as they get. From my reading of Monbiot’s article, he is not opposed to the entire manifesto, but has some major issues with the one mega-size fits all urban-ag utopia.

    Abstract expressionism was simply an artistic response to the 20th century technical and social inflection point: the shock of living the future in real time. Thank god things have slowed down and we can go back to enjoying the teabagger realism of Thomas Kinkade.

  118. Howard says:

    ATTP: It’s a high-level proposal and you are diving into the weeds. In addition, the concept of a carbon budget implies that we know more than we do. What is needed is an action plan to do what is economically, technologically and socially feasible now to cut the growth of anthro W/m2 increases. Fission is the elephant in the room.

  119. Willard says:

    > Perhaps if they called it moderately regulated, free-market, evidence-based environmental industrialism and used hipster-friendly promotions of Five Thirty Eight, then more of you might be more interested in a dialogue.

    I’d replace Shellenberger by you in a New York minute, Howard:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/howard

    You could then call it whatever you like.

  120. It’s a high-level proposal and you are diving into the weeds.

    So what?

    In addition, the concept of a carbon budget implies that we know more than we do.

    You might be confusing what you know with what everyone knows. Also, my point was that if they had a concrete, or reasonably concrete, plan, then one could estimate a effective carbon budget. All they seem to have at the moment is words. I’d be far less critical if they actually seemed to be proposing something concrete and if they spent more time promoting their own views, and less time strawmanning other people’s views.

  121. BBD says:

    Howard

    The EM’ers are proposing fission, not fusion. It’s the greens who have scuttled fission power, not big oil and big coal. It sounds like your opposition is based on spite.

    While I have had some very unpleasant exchanges with fervently anti-nuclear ‘greens’ I’m not sure how much influence the anti-nuclear stance of ENGOs has at policy level. I *am* sure that it is insufficient to justify the very strong claim that it is “the greens who have scuttled fission power”.

    The biggest problem with the nuclear industry at present seems to be construction costs and project over-runs. In that sense, it is its own worst enemy.

  122. Andrew Dodds says:

    BBD –

    Yes, and I wonder how much influence the Coal industry has had on Nuclear policy over the decades. After all, in many ways Nuclear power has posed an existential threat to coal since the 1970s, far more so than any amount of ‘green’ measures.

  123. BBD says:

    Yes, I often wonder about this too. However, I somehow manage to restrain myself from from posting stuff on the internet along the lines of “big coal has scuppered nuclear” 🙂

  124. Jim Hunt says:

    Mark Lynas has finally published my comment on his latest article:

    https://archive.is/FIga8#selection-691.0-703.29

    There’s still no sign of any dialogue, debate or “build[ing] on what we have in common” when it comes to a carbon budget though.

  125. Magma says:

    Howard: The EM’ers are proposing fission, not fusion. It’s the greens who have scuttled fission power, not big oil and big coal. It sounds like your opposition is based on spite.

    From the Ecomodernism Manifesto: “In the long run, next-generation solar, advanced nuclear fission, and nuclear fusion represent the most plausible pathways toward the joint goals of climate stabilization and radical decoupling of humans from nature.”

    Trust me, Howard, when I do spite you’ll know. As many have noted over the past couple of decades, the nuclear industry’s biggest problem has been its own inability to keep construction, refurbishment and closure costs anywhere close to its own optimistic predictions.

  126. Howard says:

    BBD and Magma: I’ll admit that my views are bent by living in the most progressive environmentalist part of the planet. I had several friends who regularly traveled up to Diablo Canyon to protest. Many of these folks formed early CalPirg teams that has had a huge influence on California environmental politics. One of the biggest problems with the nuke power industry is over-regulation that puts paper engineering over common sense. You are correct, the corporations big and dumb enough to comply with the insane documentation end up building the plants by committee.

    Doing technical work in a highly regulated field has a stifling effect on young engineers and scientists. Innovation is very difficult and slow-going because the regulators think that “we have been doing it that way for 60-years, so it is very difficult to change now”. That’s a direct quote after presenting evidence earlier this year to air district technical staff that their current BACT was creating PM2.5 at a Title V level in a non-attainment area. As you know, industry won’t do what is right, just what’s required.

  127. Howard says:

    ATTP: The whole point of a high-level proposal is to stay away from getting married to any concrete plan and or target. It’s a jumping-off point. This is municipal infrastructure planning on steriods and it requires a very broad base so that all stakeholders can add their voice to the process. While both you and Jim Hunt seem to be spoiling for a fight, it is also clear that the EM’ers are more interested in Climateball and appear to be in over their heads in the art of developing public policy by building consensus. Given they are libertarian environmentalisms located in the Bay Area, they feel like they are always on the defensive.

  128. Howard says:

    Willard: Thanks, I am very proud of my humility.

  129. Howard,

    The whole point of a high-level proposal is to stay away from getting married to any concrete plan and or target. It’s a jumping-off point.

    Okay, but a high-level proposal isn’t something that can’t be critiqued. Also, whether they like it or not, the concept of some kind of carbon budget is relevant, even if they would rather not specify what they think it should be. It’s one thing to not want to be specific; it’s another to appear to not even want to discuss it at all.

    While both you and Jim Hunt seem to be spoiling for a fight,

    Not really. I can just be a little blunt at times 🙂 .

    it is also clear that the EM’ers are more interested in Climateball and appear to be in over their heads in the art of developing public policy by building consensus.

    Yes, this does appear to be the case.

    Given they are libertarian environmentalisms located in the Bay Area, they feel like they are always on the defensive.

    Maybe this is somewhat telling?

  130. Steven Mosher says:

    “Given they are libertarian environmentalisms located in the Bay Area, they feel like they are always on the defensive.”

    That is not a good approach to fostering dialog, in my experience.

    Given they are liberal environmentalists located in the Bay Area, they feel like they run the world”

    See how that doesnt work?

  131. Steven Mosher says:

    “Ecomodernism is, first and foremost, a branding effort.”

    motive seeking

  132. Steven,
    Well, yes, but but there certainly seems a tendency amongst some of the key names in the EM movement (which I would argue is distinct from ecomodernism) to be rather defensive. Even this response to George Monbiot’s article basically says “he’s wrong”.

  133. Steven Mosher says:

    Willard

    ‘YOU are the one who insist in dropping out the ecomods, Mosh.”

    wrong.

    Early on a commenter noted that EM never dialog about carbon budgets

    Well, I am here

    You do not dialog with Me, by tossing up charts
    You do not dialog with Me by making me defend other people
    I told you what I think about carbon Budgets. ATTP was human enough to respond

    The rest seem to be playing a game. you know the book

  134. motive seeking

    Even if this isn’t the intent of the core people, it’s going to seem like this if their prime contacts in the UK are Ridley and Patterson.

  135. Steven Mosher says:

    Thanks ATTP

    “I don’t know what the right temperature is. However, from talking to people and reading various things, 4C is regarded as virtually certain to be catastrophic. It also appears that having a reasonable chance of staying below 2C is no longer possible unless we start making drastic emission reductions now.”

    I suppose that is why I’m interested in seeing what the sensitivites are WRT to various targets
    We may well be past the point of hitting 2C. That doesnt mean give up, but some people
    value fighting for whats possible.

    “So what’s my view? Start talking seriously about emissions reductions now and find ways to actually do so, be they CCS, nuclear, wind, solar, ….. Of course, they all have their own risks, but if we don’t actually start reducing emissions soon, we’ll probably be forced to take drastic action in the future. ”

    Agreed . I think the issue is what you mean by ‘We”. and of course how a carbon budget is allocated.. globally, nationally, locally, individually.

    “I don’t think you need a specific carbon budget, but you could argue that another 1500 GtC is heading for 4C, keeping it below 500GtC from now is going to be very hard. I’m kind of with Michael Tobis on this; reduce emissions as fast as is possible, while accepting that defining “as fast as is possible” is non-trivial, since it includes that we shouldn’t do it in a manner that would cause more problems than it solves.”

    Yes, as fast as possible is the ambiguous part.. subject to what constraints

    Do we hope for negative emissions or is that just luck warming in disguise?

    Probably. I guess it might be possible, but I think that hoping for it – or banking on it – is a very poor strategy.

  136. Steven,
    People have asked me about “we” before. I normally just mean “the human race collectively”. Given that we can track global emissions, we should be able to talk about “us” reducing global emissions.

    As fast as possible is indeed ambiguous. I don’t have a good answer, but I recognise that there is more than one constraint. I do think, however, that if we end up emitting (into the atmosphere) > 500GtC more than we have already, we’ll regret having done so. Whether or not there is actually a viable way to not do so, I don’t know. That’s essentially why I would support us trying to develop anything (nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, BECCS, storage,…..). Of course, in saying “trying to develop” I also include taking into account all the risks associated with those various technologies.

  137. BBD says:

    Howard

    One of the biggest problems with the nuke power industry is over-regulation that puts paper engineering over common sense.

    I’m not sure that the engineering design of reactors is ‘over-regulated’. Tightly regulated, yes, and properly so, but the implication that ‘the greens’ have strangled the industry with the red tape of ‘over-regulation’ is – to my knowledge – entirely unsupported by fact.

  138. BBD says:

    Steven

    There is a very big problem with EM embracing Ridley and Patterson. Very big. You cannot just ignore this.

  139. Jim Hunt says:

    Re: Howard says: September 25, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    What makes you think I’m “spoiling for a fight”?

    Mike S. accuses me of “troll behaviour”. How do you suggest I respond?

  140. BBD says:

    Nit-pick, strawman, misrepresent the facts, change the subject, be abusive – use your imagination 😉

  141. Jim,
    You could do what I did when he accussed me of trolling. I suggested he was “arrogant and condescending”. Of course, you may then be swiftly blocked again. Don’t take that, however, as a reason not to, though.

  142. Magma says:

    Mike S. accuses me of “troll behaviour”. How do you suggest I respond?

    There’s this… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KniUNdVZvH4

  143. > ATTP was human enough to respond

    Willard’s not human, but I demand a dialog with Willard.

  144. guthrie says:

    Howard – last I knew Monbiot was for nuclear power, fission and fusion. So maybe he has a different problem with ecomodernism…

  145. Jim Hunt says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions folks.

    ATTP – I’ve already suggested to Mike that he comes across as “patronising”:

    He didn’t block me again, instead assuring me that my invocation of Miss Piggy was “classy”. Perhaps he was being facetious? Thus far he has given no indication that he had ever previously heard of the Pine Island Glacier.

  146. Howard says:

    Jim: Dale Carnegie has your answer:

    Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
    The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
    Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong.”
    If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
    Begin in a friendly way.
    Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
    Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
    Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
    Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
    Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
    Appeal to the nobler motives.
    Dramatize your ideas.
    Throw down a challenge.

  147. Howard says:

    Mosher: what is your theory why the BTI folks are so thin skinned?

    In regards to environmental power in Bay Area, how many development plans have you seen presented before Mountain View City Counsel? They don’t run the world, but they run your world. See how that works? or no. Are you just another Science or Fiction Popper pooper?

  148. Howard says:

    Guthrie: Monbiot made an evidence-based challenge to EM’s big Farma agricultural plank. This is what caused Shollenberger to blow a twitter gasket. I believe he was then chided by another twitterer (perhaps their Monsanto friend) to behave better.

  149. Howard says:

    BBD: Ignoring problems, as you say, like R and P is the adult approach. Frankly, you sound like Ted Cruz talking about the Iran Nuke deal.

  150. Jim Hunt says:

    Howard,

    Have you ever tried whispering that no doubt sound advice into Mike@BTI’s shell like?

    http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/shell-like

  151. BBD says:

    Howard

    Eh? Either you are completely misrepresenting what I said or I have completely misunderstood what you wrote above.

  152. Howard says:

    Jim: Have you raised up children into adults? This type of bickering is classical “but he started it” and “it’s not fair” pleading from pre-adolescent children. Apparently, Gandhi did not coin the famous phrase that applies here.
    http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/12/27/eye-for-eye-blind/

  153. Chris Smaje says:

    Thanks for the pingback to my essay on Ecomodernism, which led me to your blog. Glad to have found it – great debate, I’ve learned a lot from reading through the comments. I just wanted to comment on a specific issue, namely the EMs’ enthusiasm for urbanization. Stewart Brand extols it as an anti-poverty strategy without offering any real evidence, and this evidence-free notion of cities as socioeconomic accelerators seems to be echoing around the internet as if it’s proven fact, as per Victor Petri’s comment above. I’d like to build my knowledge of (preferably peer-reviewed) studies that present empirical data on this question – I found a couple that I discuss at http://smallfarmfuture.org.uk/?p=531, but I’ve found it harder than I’d imagined to find data to put to the issue. There are some tricky issues to tease out in doing so because economic opportunity often does accumulate in cities (often for political reasons that aren’t immutable, rather than because of some intrinsic ‘city-ness’, though I don’t rule out the latter) and so it’s likely that poor rural people will go to areas of urban economic dynamism and thus improve their situations. Nevertheless, the notion that poor rural people and their children can best improve their economic situation long-term by moving permanently to find work in towns and cities seems to me to be more often assumed than demonstrated. If anyone can point me to research evidence on this, I’d be grateful. An obvious alternative strategy is to direct anti-poverty or economic development strategies towards the rural poor as landworkers in situ. I’d be interested in evidence on that too.

  154. Chris,
    Thanks for the comment and glad the discussion has proved useful. I’ve found the posts of yours that I’ve read very informative. The whole issue of urbanization is well outside my area of expertise, by maybe some of my regular commenters/readers can chip in. This does, however, chime with my own sense of what is being presented:

    Nevertheless, the notion that poor rural people and their children can best improve their economic situation long-term by moving permanently to find work in towns and cities seems to me to be more often assumed than demonstrated.

    It seems to me that there is a difference between recognising that we will see continued urbanisation and – consequently – developing strategies to deal with this and to do so in a way that is optimal, and assuming that it is fundamentally the best way in which people can improve their economic situation. As much as I do think there are some interesting aspects to ecomodernism, there is a rather concerning sense that they are essentially trying to design some kind of simplistic, futuristic society, without recognising that reality is likely to be much more complex than what they’re presenting.

  155. Vinny Burgoo says:

    While sorting out some old architecture books today I came across a proposal that we should all move to roofless cities. Temperatures would be regulated by streams of air blown across the cities at what would normally be roof height. This air would move fast enough to also keep the cities dry.

    The purpose of doing away with roofs was to let in more light and discourage privacy, thus encouraging community. The authors waved any practicalities, declaring that if technology wasn’t up to the task of replacing roofs with blasts of air then advancements in human spirituality would undoubtedly step up to plug any leaks.

    Written in the 1960s, natch.

    (Summarised from memory. The actual proposal was probably even sillier. Architects have a weakness for bonkers utopianism.)

    Relevance to this blogpost? Er…

    Got it!

    Energywise, cities can be hideously inefficient, especially when their roofs are made out of hot air.

  156. Sam taylor says:

    Chris,

    Have you read much of the work on cities being done by the people at the Santa fe institute? It’s really fascinating stuff. I found the following lecture by Geoffrey West really interesting:

    His papers with bettencourt are worth reading.

  157. Howard says:

    Here’s a shorter TED talk by Geoffrey West for those of us with ADHD

    This anti suburban sprawl talk followed

    Funny how the center of technology of the world is the suburbia of Silicon Valley and the center of art in the world is the suburbia of Los Angeles.

  158. Howard says:

    Oh, yeah, I forgot, the center of agriculture in the world is the suburbia of the Central Valley. The fiasco of suburbia also spawned aviation growth and the military industrial complex. These theorists forget that middle-class neurosis is the mother of invention.

  159. Willard says:

    Loved West’s presentation, Sam:

    For those who’d like the TL;DL, tune in to 1h05.

    Spoiler: Unbounded Growth Requires Accelerating Cycles of Innovation to Avoid Collapse

    Grrrowth makes us live in speedier and speedier times.

    ***

    So all we have to do is to turn suburbia into small farm communities, and add to Grrrowth some kind of system reset every few years or so. ClimateBall solved.

  160. Chris Smaje says:

    Thanks for those responses – I’ll take a look

  161. Jim Hunt says:

    Re: Howard says: September 27, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Yes, I have.

    But he DID start it! Do you think a shiny new heavy fuel oil power plant in Caracol is the right way forward, for Haiti or the rest of the planet?

    https://www.usaid.gov/haiti/caracol-industrial-park

    Whilst I realise that Twitter is far better suited to eye poking than earnest discussion I couldn’t resist quibbling about that with young Michael, and got blocked for my trouble.

  162. Howard says:

    Well, Jim I just expect more from you… that’s a compliment, btw.

  163. It’s clear that Shellenberger doesn’t understand what is meant be “tribalism”. Telling them not to associate with Patterson, is not a form of tribalism. Constantly bashing environmentalists, is.

  164. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Saw that Lynas article that you tweeted. Fascinating that Lynas looked to Schellenberger as a way to de-polarize environmental issues. Not sure how to explain how someone could be that wrong.

  165. Joshua,
    I agree. How can someone who writes a “Manifesto” and calls himself an “Ecomodernist” claim to not be tribal? I don’t have a problem with people trying to develop some kind of position that they can hold, but pretending that that isn’t what they’re doing just seems entirely disingenuous.

    I also noticed this. Having a go at DeSmogBlog and what was once RTCC, but is now called Climate Home. Either engage with your critics or admit that you’re as partisan as the rest.

  166. Joshua says:

    Indeed. They seem very focused on creating an identity that is predicated upon differentiating themselves from other ecologists (and, I suppose, modernists also). How could that not be inherently polarizing? In fact, it seems that the intent is actually to be polarizing – I can only guess, maybe, because they think that using an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategy – and indeed, that seems to be in play with the whole GWPF, Ridley thingy.

    And yes, as I’ve spoken about before, the language of a “manifesto” is inherently polarizing and reflects a very strong identity/position orientation as opposed to a de-identified, shared interests orientation.

    Really hard for me to understand what Lynas is thinking here….

  167. Joshua says:

    A comment is in prison…

    This was interesting: “His reason owed more to bloody-minded principle than any kind of political acumen. “Ever since eighth grade I’ve had the rule that I will talk and listen to who I want, and not to who other people say I should,”

    Not that anyone should decide about who to talk and listen to based on what other people prescribe…but that statement does suggest a rather odd approach to engagement. He’s not saying that he’s willing to engage with whosoever is interested in engaging with him, nor does he talk about the criteria that he might use for judging the value of engagement, but only an attitude rather suggestive of petulance.

    Of course, I may well be over-reading there…but it does seem to me that Shellenberger is a particularly odd choice as someone to be a spokesperson for those interested in de-polarizing engagement on environmental issues.

  168. Joshua,
    I don’t think Shellenberger is really people’s choice. I think he is trying to place himself in that position.

  169. Joshua says:

    I have little doubt that TBI is interested in how environmental issues play out for a diverse set of stakeholders. Nor do I assume that it’s anywhere close to easy for them to have racial diversity in their organization.

    But on the other hand, I do know people in the SF area who are engaged in “environmental justice” issues and who deliberately focus on diversity and seem to have reasonably good results. So I look at the following web pages, and I wonder about what I think might be lacking in some of their stuff: race/class analysis. Of course, I haven’t read everything that they’ve written…

    http://thebreakthrough.org/generation

    I wonder that the Heterodox Academy folks might have to say about this? 🙂

  170. Joshua says:

    Sorry – I meant to link this also:

    http://thebreakthrough.org/about

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