Talking solutions and motivating action

There’s been a lengthy Twitter discussion about scientists moving away from simply discussing the science of climate change, to talking about solutions and motivating action. I broadly agree with this; I do think that the main discussion should be about the solutions and how we should motivate society to implement these solutions. What I don’t know is what these solutions should be, and what action we should be motivating.

Credit: Glen Peters

While I think about this, I thought I would post a figure that – in my view – largely illustrates the issue. It shows the probability of staying below 1.5oC, 2oC, 2.5oC and 3oC plotted against cumulative emissions, in GtCO2. For example, to have a 66% chance of staying below 2oC we’d have to emit no more than about 3600GtCO2. (Caveat: The result does depend a little on how you define the targets, but it’s probably about right at the ~10% level. However, this article seems to suggest that some of the cumulative emissions numbers are a bit too high.)

A few other relevant numbers. We’ve already emitted about 2000GtCO2 and are currently emitting around 40GtCO2 per year. So, if want want a good chance of staying below 2oC, then no more than about 30 years at current emissions. Similarly, staying below 3oC would require no more than about 70 years at current emissions. If we keep emitting, CO2 will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, and we will continue to warm; stopping this requires getting net emissions pretty close to zero.

The expectation is that the impacts of climate change and our ability to adapt to the changes depend mostly on how much the temperature changes. It’s also likely that the impacts do not increase linearly with increasing temperature; each extra degree of warming will probably have a much greater impact than the previous degree of warming.

So, if we want to ultimately stop anthropogenically-driven warming we need to get net emissions to essentially zero and – ideally – we should do so before the impacts become so severe that they hamper our ability to adapt – or deal with – the resulting changes. Sooner, rather than later, essentially. Exact timescales are hard to define, but we’re talking decades, rather than centuries.

However, this is where I find it gets complicated. We need emissions to peak and then drop to zero, but how do we do so in a way that fairly takes into account all the various factors? Do we simply rely on a carbon tax and hope that the market really does select the optimal pathway, or do we take a more direct approach and actively influence the direction in which we progress? How do we share the remaining carbon budget in a way that’s fair to those who’ve emitted least, but isn’t punative towards those who’ve emitted most? What about personal responsibilty? Do we hope that the system evolves so that emissions can reduce without us having to do too much individually, or do we insist that individuals should be actively trying to reduce their personal emissions? What about new technologies? Do we hope that we can develop negative emission technologies that allow us to continue using fossil fuels without emitting CO2 into the atmosphere, or do we focus on technologies that we’re more confident can actually be implemented?

There’s almost certainly many more factors that should be considered, and I certainly don’t have any answers to the above questions, most of which are probably too simplistic anyway. I find the basics simple, but the details very complicated. The basics are essentially that it’s our emissions that are driving climate change and that stopping this will require getting net emissions close to zero. The details (what we should do, how we should do it, when we should do it) are, however, what we should probably be focusing on now. I just don’t have a good sense of how to do so. It’s also hard to see how we can move on to talking about the details while there are still substantial numbers disputing the basics. Maybe there’s still a place for scientists who talk more about the science, than talk about solutions and how to motivate action?

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492 Responses to Talking solutions and motivating action

  1. Everett F Sargent says:

    Lots of questions.

    We need a progressive carbon tax at the federal level (nee country). We need to subsidise wind and solar at the federal level (nee country), EV’s all the way down. This applies to the developed nations (nee the ‘so called’ western world or economically developed world). Go nuclear if we have to.

    I currently live in a $hith0le of a nation called the USA, 2018 and 2020 are our immediate political goals.

    I can’t speak for the rest of the world as I DON’T LIVE THERE!

  2. The Brutal Logic of Climate Change

  3. T-rev says:

    I just chose to cut my emissions significantly (estimate about 2.5t CO2e per annum) because… that’s what’s needed, the rest of it’s just navel gazing and hand wringing IMO. This is no longer an issue for engineering nor science, they have all their ducks in row. This is a human behavioural problem. Until a significant minority normalise low emissions behavior, nothing will change, including politicians.

  4. John Hartz says:

    The concluding paragraph of a thought-provoking essay by Steve Cohen of Columbia’s Earth Institute about the viabiity of a carbon tax and his proposed alternative — subsidizing renewable energy.

    Linking climate policy with a cleaner environment and lower cost energy is a more promising approach than raising the cost of energy. The goal that should be articulated is not a reduction in energy consumption, but a reduction in fossil fuel consumption. Globally, overall energy consumption will continue to grow. The more information-based, automated economy of the developed world will also use more energy in the future than today. Given the likely increase in energy use worldwide, it is urgent that we develop new renewable energy technology. The existing technology is useful, but ultimately insufficient. By definition, if a transformative renewable energy technology were available, the energy system would be rapidly transforming. Instead, it is slowly and gradually moving toward renewable energy. Given the political infeasibility of a carbon tax to speed the transformation, we need to rapidly move on to another policy approach.

    Funding Renewable Energy is Easier Than Taxing Carbon by Steve Cohen, State of the Planet, Earth Institute, Columbia Univerity, Mar 5, 2018

  5. Pingback: and Then There’s Physics does “Talking solutions and motivating action” | Hypergeometric

  6. I think there is an imbalance in the debate. Look on twitter and there is an avalanche of ‘debate’ on climate science, but try to find a ‘grown up debate’ (to use the sadly departed Prof. David Mackay’s language) on solutions and there is relatively little debate, and that which does exist is no less polarised that the non-debate on the reality of global warming.

    I am (coincidentally) taking a fresh look at the UK’s 2050 Calculator
    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/#/home
    which originates from work Mackay initiated when he was at DECC. His work continues. I have some questions as to the model, but it is a very useful tool and worth exploring.

    Then this morning, I heard Clare Grey on The Life Scientific talking about her work on batteries. Inspiring story. Another brick in the solutions wall.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09tdr0r

    You ask the question: “What I don’t know is what these solutions should be, and what action we should be motivating.”

    “Should” is maybe the wrong word. “Could” comes first (feasibility) followed by the value judgements that lead to “Should” (but who’s ‘should’?). The raft of solutions available to us is well documented, ranging from personal, community based, national or regional initiatives. Project Drawdown is but one such palette of options:
    http://www.drawdown.org

    The challenge is to help a region to make decisions based on the best available evidence and meeting a range of criteria or constraints (energy security, land-use, etc.), while acknowledge uncertainties and resource conflicts, and the constraints imposed by geography and time horizons for action.

    This is why we need to have better engagement between political bodies, the public, and other actors to explore the solution options … in a ‘grown up’ way … and not allow these to be the preserve of a polcy geeks.

    Perhaps the time is ripe to dial back on time spent convincing people who will never be convinced that the Greenhouse Effect is real or whatever, and spend more time on adaptation and the energy transition.

    Most people in the UK at least want solutions, and policy makers need all the help they can get in getting us there. Simple calculations on gross, averaged supply and demand doesn’t cut it. We need comprehensive thought through plans of action, like for example, Zero Crbon Britain; because whether you agree with it or not, it does do the work needed to look across all sectors and their interdependencies.

    If you thought climate science was complicated …

  7. Steven Mosher says:

    A lot of questions.

    The temptation is to try to engineer the problem and get more detailed. Actually, you want less detail. You have to guess. Engineering types hate to guess.

    First guess: What warming target should we aim at? 2C. Nice round number. Rationale?
    Some really bad shit happens just above 2C. Prepare plan B to tighten this down.

    Second guess: How much damage? What’s the damage above 2C. Pick a number. this will
    have to be an informed guess. 1% of GDP per degree C
    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/here-s-how-much-climate-change-going-cost-your-county

    Third Guess: How much will you spend to avert this damage? Pick a number, something less
    than 1% of GDP.

    Fourth Guess: How do you get this Money? Taxes kinda sorta work. Start there

    Fifth Guess: How do you spend this Money? 50% on adaptation; 50% on technology research.

    6th Guess: How often do you re visit your guesses and update ? 2 years. start with a small
    time constant

    We do all sorts of business by guesswork. Pick a number, run with it, collect data, correct, update. run some more.

    The other alternative is to operate big fancy models that have all the guesses and assumptions hidden.

    The only way this works however is to have a guesser in chief. AND if you have a metric that
    you agree to use to modify your guessing.

    side note; I keep seeing these numbers on damage that effectively boil down to 1% of GDP per C. On the other hand folks suggest the damage is non linear in C. Not debating, just curious what am I missing.

  8. Some of the bad stuff that begins to happen about +2C is that humanity begins to lose control of the problem, meaning that natural sources are activated which we cannot reverse.

  9. Is there a link to the Twitter discussion you reference?

  10. William says:

    A carbon tax is not enough, whatever economists might say, unless it manages to make carbon free alternatives cheaper or more desirable. As there are limits to how much petrol, gas or high-carbon electricity prices can be raised a tax is unlikely to be enough. We need tougher regulation to impose stricter energy and pollution standards and this has to impact embedded energy in imports equally. I’d also like to see a big push to eliminate much existing electricity base-load.

  11. Everett F Sargent says:

    T-rev sez …

    “Until a significant minority normalise low emissions behavior, nothing will change, including politicians.”

    Yeah, its called Somalia (Africa) or Vietnam (SE Asia). When will the rest of the world catch up to these extremely progressive nations.

    BTW, you are not doing your part until you are off the grid (homeless and you don’t breath and you don’t eat), 2,5t CO2e per annum, is at least 2.5t CO2e per annum too much.

    Me? I only breath in!

    But let us all cheer on a new Arctic sea ice minimum or a new record GMST or a new record GMSL or a new record CO2/CH4/N2O (what is with that anyways).

  12. Everett F Sargent says:

    I currently live in a matchbox in the middle of the desert …


    In the Deep South it even has a name it is called poor mouthing.

  13. jacksmith4tx says:

    A very encouraging report on population trends from the most prolific polluters on the planet, America:
    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2018/03/lawler-population-outlook-uncertainty.html
    Summary: We are plunging below replacement numbers and the younger age groups are dying faster than the older ones. Maybe John B. Calhoun was on to something… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_sink

  14. John Hartz says:

    From the most recent entry in Deutsche Welle’s series, Scientists Doing Their Bit…

    Climate scientists’ integrity is at stake over their own action to reduce emissions, says Cara Augustenborg, a Dublin-based climate scientist and activist.

    But reducing your carbon footprint takes time.

    “I’m kind of approaching my carbon footprint like I approach my weight, going to the gym regularly, watching what I eat, and realizing I’m not going to lose that 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) all at once, like I want,” said Augustenborg, who is chair of Friends of the Earth Europe. “I’m going to chip away at it.”

    Individual actions can make a difference, Augustenborg insists. But she says that it has to come with action that brings about broader change.

    ‘Lowering our personal carbon footprint is a question of credibility’ by Bob Berwyn, Deutsche Welle (DW), Mar 6, 2018

  15. Jai Mitchell says:

    What the F**K?

    http://nationalpost.com/news/world/scrubbing-aerosol-particles-from-the-atmosphere-a-faustian-bargain-study-finds

    [The results showed that in the absence of human-made aerosols, global surface temperature can be expected to increase by 0.7 of a degree Celsius, with land surface warming by one degree.

    Under two of the models, warming in the Arctic related to aerosol reductions reached 4C in certain locations, with the average over all models being 2.8C.]

    Isn’t it clear by now that we have already exceeded 2C and likely >2.5C in 10 years?

  16. Everett F Sargent says:

    Jai,

    You don’t get the hopey changey thingey singey songey do you?

    (00) Get on Twitter at 280 characters/post and discuss serious stuff, just like Trump does.

    (0) Whatever you do, make sure you use really large error bars, like 1.5C < ECS < 4.5C.

    (1) Change that lower limit to 2C < ECS < 4.5C, oh oh less uncertainty and not in a good (e. g. lower ECS) direction.

    (2) Use emissions so that you can cheat on those UN emissions reports. It's all just guesswork anyways, at least according to SM.

    (3) Don't confuse the public with stuff like aerosols and land use changes and airborne fractions or airborne concentrations.

    (4) Make sure your papers and data are paywalled or embargoed or you use written words that $hith0le anyone else from figuring out your algorithm. Because this is really important stuff that only mostly old white men can understand.

    (5) This is the best one. Never give up on your 1.5C or 2.0C target, this is called moving the target emissions goalposts. Make sure your emissions targets are really 'UGE (Trumpspeak) with even 'UGER error bars. After all, you do have two or more decades in you present lifestyle as a climate scientist, you must keep publishing stuff about there is still time, even if you exceed 3C, you say it will only be for a finite time and negative emissions will still stop this madness.

    (6) Completely ignore all existing FF infrastructures, as these will just disappear, because, then a 'so called' miracle occurs. So that all those FF scenario projections published out to 2040-50 by the likes of Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, IEA, EIA, MIT, BGR, PBL, Statoil and WEC are, you are not going to believe this, make believe.

    (7) I left out 2030 because the Paris Agreement guarantees increased FF emissions, at least through 2030.

    (8) Twitter is the tool that Trump and the Russians use. How bad can things really get, given the real fake reality fakery of Twitter.

  17. And remember, climate change ends in the year 2100!

  18. rust,
    It starts here.

  19. Brigitte says:

    I think one needs to make a distinction between scientists being involved in discussing solutions and scientists being involved in motivating solutions. They should be directly involved in the former but not directly in the latter. if, as citizens, they reduce their carbon footprints that can, of course, be motivating to others and enhance their credibility. And some solutions they might be involved in discussing might of course be more motivating than others for a lot of psychological, political etc. reasons. But that should not be the reason why scientists should be involved in discussing them.

  20. Richard,

    but try to find a ‘grown up debate’ (to use the sadly departed Prof. David Mackay’s language) on solutions and there is relatively little debate, and that which does exist is no less polarised that the non-debate on the reality of global warming.

    Indeed, we’ve just had Jacobson trying to sue Clack over something he wrote in a paper that suggested that the US can’t go 100% renewables. It really does seem as though even those who agree about the need to reduce emissions can’t really have a grown up debate about how to do so.

  21. ATTP, on Jacobson/Clack, J has now withdrawn the action (which I think was unjustified). We need a robust debate on the Renewable Energy penetration / intermittency question. More research, more publications. Ken Caldeira’s provides an interesting contribution …
    https://kencaldeira.wordpress.com/2018/03/01/geophysical-constraints-on-the-reliability-of-solar-and-wind-power-in-the-united-states/
    based on a paper “Geophysical constraints on the reliability of solar and wind power in the United States”, Energy & Environmental Science, DOI: 10.1039/C7EE03029K (2018).
    Intermittency at UK scale (and hence need for high level ~30 days of renewable/desptachable biogas storage according to Zero Carbon Britain) are no surprise; but these effects at continental scale – even assuming perfect distribution etc. – are a surprise (to me at least) but, as Mackay said, I am a fan of math.

  22. Everett F Sargent says:

    “Indeed, we’ve just had Jacobson trying to sue Clack over something he wrote in a paper that suggested that the US can’t go 100% renewables.”

    Jacobson dropped his suit
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/02/23/stanford-professor-withdraws-10-million-libel-suit-over-clean-energy-claims/?utm_term=.920ed1ddf65a

    Jacobson has a new paper out … but you’ll never guess the title …
    Matching demand with supply at low cost in 139 countries among 20 world regions with 100% intermittent wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) for all purposes
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148118301526

    I’m sort of wondering how many of those 139 countries have already signed up for Jacobson’s 100% WWS plan? I’m thinking that number is really close to zero.

    In the year 2525, if Jacobson is still alive ….

  23. Everett, its not that we can’t get to 100%, its just that 80-100% transition is harder than many think.

  24. Thanks, Richard and Everett. I had seen that Jacobson had dropped his lawsuit, but forgot to mention it in my comment.

    My understanding of one of the issue is that those who object to Jacobson’s analysis accept that we can get to about 80% renewables, but argue that the next 20% is very difficult. Hence, if we don’t take this into account now (which is a concern if we believe we can get to 100% renewables) then we won’t have a viable solution when we do get to ~80% and would like to get to ~100%.

  25. Brigitte,

    I think one needs to make a distinction between scientists being involved in discussing solutions and scientists being involved in motivating solutions. They should be directly involved in the former but not directly in the latter.

    Yes, I think this is a key point. Scientists can – obviously – be involved in the latter as citizens, but should be careful of doing so in a way that implies that they think expertise gives them some right to decide what solutions we should implement.

    My naive view was always that there were many who should be involved. We have physical scientists who have highlighted a problem. We should then have engineers/technologists who can help to determine potential solutions and social scientists who help to identify ways to overcome societal/political barriers. This isn’t, however, what really seems to happen. We have a very strong agreement amongst the physical (climate) scientists, but those developing solutions seems to be arguing about various details (nuclear vs renewables). Social scientists seem to both be arguing about things like consensus messaging versus cultural cognition, and – in some cases – even complaining about how this is framed too much as a scientific, rather than social, issue. I don’t really see much in the way of progress and this may (sadly) have to wait until it is obvious that we should have done more sooner.

  26. ejgowan says:

    Demanding that climate scientists also present the solutions is pretty much passing the buck. There are already many solutions at societies’ disposal right now.

    Renewable energy has never been cheaper, it is just waiting for large scale rollout. The political will in some of the worst emitting countries is trying to protect fossil fuel extraction at all costs right now and demonize renewable energy.

    Cities need to become more compact, which would require abandoning suburbs and banning car traffic. Right now the price of real estate in the middle of major cities is skyrocketing largely as a result of speculation in the markets. Even if people do want to live in the middle of the city and abandon the high stress/long commute into the city, it is not economically viable. Governments could impose rules such as forcing people owning downtown apartments to actually live in them, which would reduce some of this pressure, but they will not do this because it would devastate the real estate market.

    The consumerist lifestyle we enjoy right now needs to be substantially altered. People have the illusion that being able to own the latest gadgets, have a large SUV, eating a high meat diet and owning a large house is the key to prosperity and happiness. The government could mandate that products be made to last longer, and put taxes on products that are produced with high emissions, but that would cause severe backlash, as we saw when Australia implemented a carbon tax.

    Any solution to the emission problem is going to require large society-wide change, and ultimately it is up to governments and the media to help prod this along. We as scientists have a large disadvantage in this regards, as we don’t have a huge megaphone the likes of people like Steve Bannon have. Although there is big talk about how important “communicating the science”, ultimately unless our studies get picked up by a major media outlet, it is unlikely that anyone outside of our little sphere on Twitter will be listening. Really, the only solution is go get more scientists and science-friendly politicians to run for office, and work hard to help get them elected. The act of doing this will get people on the side for change.

  27. BBD says:

    @Richard

    Intermittency at UK scale (and hence need for high level ~30 days of renewable/desptachable biogas storage according to Zero Carbon Britain) are no surprise; but these effects at continental scale – even assuming perfect distribution etc. – are a surprise (to me at least) but, as Mackay said, I am a fan of math.

    Bravo. Caldeira writes (my emphasis)

    It should be noted that even in the cases in which 80% of electricity is supplied by intermittent renewables on the annual average, there are still times when wind and solar is providing very little power, and if blackouts are to be avoided, the gap-filling dispatchable electricity service must be sized nearly as large as the entire electricity system.

    That is the problem that needs addressing. It is necessary for renewables advocates to stop pretending that intermittency isn’t an issue and stop wittering about ‘cheap renewables’ when the total system must include a parallel storage architecture of enormous size and cost.

  28. BBD,
    Indeed, as I think David McKay pointed out, you would essentially need some parallel system that would be about the same size as the entire system, also be carbon free, and operate when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. Unless, this is some massive storage system that you’ve filled up using renewables, you may as well use this system all the time, rather than simply when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining (nuclear, for example).

  29. Okay, I should probably add that the above was a comment mainly related to the UK. The Jacobson-Clack argument mainly relates to the US. There may well be other regions/countries where the situation is very different. We should probably be careful of assuming that regional arguments are somehow global.

  30. If you haven’t already then instructive to have a play with the DECC 2050 Calculator (originally championed by Mackay, and now adapted/used by a number of countries. For UK …
    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/#/home

  31. BBD says:

    We should probably be careful of assuming that regional arguments are somehow global.

    Of course, although the combination of winter wind intermittency and seasonal solar dropout affects the entire extratropics, obviously moreso the further away from the Equator you are.

  32. zebra says:

    …decades rather than centuries…

    Sorry, but it ain’t gonna happen. And “debating” about how to reach zero emissions in decades is counterproductive at best and borders on mass delusion.

    There is no “one world government” that is going to control the actions of the various sovereign states, and it is clearly not in the interest of many governments to see FF consumption reduced, much less to zero. For some that possibility borders on an existential threat. And, obviously, within national boundaries you have actors– corporate and individual– for whom this change would be detrimental. They will all fight as dirty as needed to protect their interests.

    I frame the problem differently. We consider the period of the next three hundred years, and accept that there will be disruption and human suffering due to climate change. The question then becomes:

    1. How to influence global economics/technology to drive reduction of emissions as rapidly as possible.
    2. How to minimize the human suffering, particularly preventing large-scale (perhaps nuclear) warfare, disease, and starvation.
    3. Arrive at the end of the (300 year) period with a world in which human culture affords the best opportunity to the species to survive as long as possible with as little impact on the environment as possible.

    Challenge much, but at least possible. Any suggestions? (And yes, of course I have the sure-fire, perfect, and irrefutable, manifesto to offer at the end of class.) 🙂

  33. verytallguy says:

    AT,

    The system you describe is proposed by the excellent centre for alternative technology. Alongside wholesale changes in diet, transport and energy efficiency, investment in renewables, divestment of nuclear and construction of a parallel biogas powered generation infrastructure for low wind winter conditions are mooted.

    It has the advantage of being both crystal clear on the mechanism, and absolutely honest on the consequences of going carbon neutral.

    Of course, there are other paths to carbon neutrality.

  34. Everett F Sargent says:

    zebra,

    Please go back to RealClimate, what a cesspool that place has become (comments section where most should either be banned or permanently boreholed).

  35. Dave_Geologist says:

    @John
    “Climate scientists’ integrity is at stake over their own action to reduce emissions”

    Yes, but you know that won’t change the minds of deniers, any more than Gore on a diet and in the gym would change the minds of the “Al Gore is fat” brigade.

    Politically and demographically, these are the same people who simultaneously say “but what about elevating poor people out of poverty” while blaming China for elevating poor people out of poverty. And electing politicians who want to cut foreign aid.

    Believing three impossible or mutually contradictory things before breakfast is their M.O.

  36. zebra says:

    @Everett F Sargent,

    Re RC:

    That’s why I’m commenting here. So far, I am delighted at being able to have rational discussions that are not buried by long, incoherent, acrimonious, and repetitive, rants– I observe that the moderator is willing to clamp down on that kind of behavior, as he did with you on the Climate Hawks thread.

    So, I don’t know what browser you use, but Firefox has a kill-file app that would allow you to delete my comments if seeing them “triggers” some kind of negative emotions for you. I suggest you use it.

  37. Everett F Sargent says:

    zebra,

    I’m not saying nothing about nothing.

    300 years? We all seem to be having enough trouble to deal with the next 30 years. If you really want to talk about the next 300 years you will have to wait until the CMIP6 simulations are completed.

  38. Zebra,

    Sorry, but it ain’t gonna happen. And “debating” about how to reach zero emissions in decades is counterproductive at best and borders on mass delusion.

    I accept that it is becomely increasingly unlikely, but it still remains the way in which we can address this issue without temperatures reaching levels where there is a good chance of serious disruption.

    I frame the problem differently. We consider the period of the next three hundred years, and accept that there will be disruption and human suffering due to climate change. The question then becomes:

    I don’t think that recognising this as a possibility requires suddenly giving up on emission reductions in the coming decades.

  39. vtg,

    The system you describe is proposed by the excellent centre for alternative technology. Alongside wholesale changes in diet, transport and energy efficiency, investment in renewables, divestment of nuclear and construction of a parallel biogas powered generation infrastructure for low wind winter conditions are mooted.

    I hadn’t come across the Centre for Alternative Technology before. Thanks. Still have the problem of actually implementing this, but at least they are presenting potential solutions.

  40. Greg Robie says:

    The perception that knowledge exists independent of action regarding such knowledge is maintained, irrationally, by motivated reasoning. What to do with the terrifying knowledge climate modeling science has unearthed is already communicated. For some, this fact is not easy to Occupy. So, like the framing of this post, this truth about the privileged’s psychology and sociology is obfuscated (… & experienced as cleaver/wise?).

    In the recent post about surface air temperatures, and with 90% certainty, the 6 – 30 year lag between emission and the measurement of their impact, isn’t it the modeling that finds meaning in the most correct number of 10 years as that lag? With a 90% certainty, current SATs were locked in that quarter century ago when what science had unearthed inspired the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. With that same certainty, current emissions lock in the SAT of 2050. The heat locked into the climate system by the feelings and behaviors that are endemic to CapitalismFail a quarter of a century ago have continued without any scientifically significant abatement. Over this quarter century the emissions have continued to rise. Hot air, like the referenced Twitter exchange, happened however, continues to happen … or as Kevin Anderson says, the quarter century we pretended to care about the climate [system we model and increase knowledge about]. That system, with its longer lag than SATs, doesn’t care about talk, only walk. Doesn’t the perceived and professed lack of knowledge about what are solutions to CapitalismFail’s changing of the climate say more about the professor’s motivated reasoning and the related homeostasis than what the professed knowledge’s physics has been saying right along?

    My perception is that we privileged practitioners of CapitalismFail have fooled ourselves with our trusted motivated reasoning into feeling that freedom and wealth constitute the opposite of what physics dictates. Systemically, both constitute the right to be responsible. What isn’t the solution is feeling that freedom and wealth can exist in a civilization where the right to be irresponsible is the most exercised right.

    sNAILmALEnotHAIL …but pace’n myself

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCeDkezgoyyZAlN7nW1tlfeA

    life is for learning so all my failures must mean that I’m wicked smart

    >

  41. verytallguy says:

    AT

    Yes indeed. It’s an inspiring place to visit IMO and a lovely area of the country to boot. Here’s the link to the report.

    http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org/en/

  42. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    “…requires giving up on emissions reductions in the coming decades…”

    But I made “drive emissions reduction as rapidly as possible” my #1 goal, so I don’t know where you get that idea.

    What we need to “give up on” is the idea that Russia and other state actors are going to stop using, and promoting the use of, and developing markets for, what is their main economic asset. Look, even Noble Norway, that is going renewable full bore, is still pumping and selling oil to finance their project.

    So, what’s the plan for dealing with that? What’s a realistic projection for reaching zero emissions rapidly without some crazy idea like capturing the Saudi oil fields and shutting them down?

    I’ve been a fan of all kinds of technology like EV long before anyone thought it would work, and have incorporated some of it into my lifestyle, and I’m all in on carbon taxes and so on. But moving the global culture requires some realistic and nuanced reasoning, not just thinking what “we” can do to reduce our consumption.

  43. Zebra,

    So, what’s the plan for dealing with that? What’s a realistic projection for reaching zero emissions rapidly without some crazy idea like capturing the Saudi oil fields and shutting them down?

    Indeed. I don’t know the answer to this.

  44. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ‘Wholesale changes in diet’ at the Centre for Alternative Technology:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-40373179

    Dead flies in the salad dressing? Not for me, thanks.

  45. I am sorry to be pessimistic about our species’ ability to respond to the challenge, but I think the train left the station when Obama took office after the 2008 financial meltdown and did not choose a jobs-based green energy path to address the meltdown. We don’t get many opportunities to embark on significant changes to the way we do business and in that instance, the Obama decision to bail out the banks without sufficient constraints or concessions, was a tragic error.

    I watched the carbon tax in WA State fail again, this time on the State Senate floor. Getting close to passing important first steps to address an existential problem may be an opportunity for new rounds of fund-raising for environmental groups, but it is also a measure of our species’ inability to step back from the business as usual economy. I used to work on the carbon initiatives, but I have aged out of that endeavor.

    on a technical note, I think we might do well to discuss these matters in terms of the levels of CO2 and CO2e that we want to stay under rather than using the frame of net emissions. The emission reports are too easily gamed, the actual levels of CO2 and CO2e in the atmosphere are harder to obscure. Also, the frame of CO2(e) levels balances emission problems with potential CO2(e) removal schemes that might ramp up and provide a less disastrous BAU path forward. I would love to see that happen, it seems like a long shot.

    Dr. Mann said in 2014 that we might want to keep the CO2 under 405 ppm.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  46. Mal Adapted says:

    Once again, at the 0th level the solution to the rising trend of GMST is to persuade each and every human to stop burning fossil carbon for energy. As has been repeatedly pointed out, that places the problem in the realm of human behavior. Historically, scholarly investigation of why humans behave the way we do is organized into the “social sciences”, namely Psychology (or “Cognitive Science”), Sociology and Economics; the last having recently expanded its model of the ‘rational’ individual with insights from the other two. Economics in particular seeks to understand the way people behave in aggregate, as they daily pursue survival if not happiness.

    We’re not all Economists like Prof. Tol, but presumably we all know this: AGW is an expected consequences of a ‘free’ global market for energy, with ‘free’ defined here as ‘free from collective intervention to influence individual choice’. From the economics POV, the overwhelmingly dominant reason the world’s 7.5 billion individuals burn fossil carbon is that it’s the least expensive energy source they can buy, and that’s at least partially because neither producers nor consumers of fossil fuels are required to pay for the marginal climate-change costs of their private economic choices in full when they make them. In other words, AGW is an ongoing Drama of the Climate Commons, already a tragedy for millions of individuals. Since Dramas of the Commons are the aggregate result of the economically sound choices of ‘rational’ individuals in the marketplace, only collective intervention can meliorate or prevent tragedy! [Here is where zebra informs me that I talk too much about apparently recondite concepts like externality, i.e. socialized cost. Take your best shot, z 8^D! MA]

    Now, if the whole world, through the internal political systems of each nation, had to decide collectively and simultaneously to internalize the marginal climate-change costs of fossil fuels, we’d have little hope of capping the warming until all the fossil carbon within reach has been transferred to the climatically-active pool. Fortunately, it appears that collective decisions made on regional and local political levels can have disproportionate positive impacts, at least according to E. Ostrom. Does knowing that the World Bank is taking it seriously make it more credible? Speaking for myself, Ostrom’s opinion is worth more than that of some random guy on the Internet.

  47. @ATTP,

    It really does seem as though even those who agree about the need to reduce emissions can’t really have a grown up debate about how to do so.

    This portends that discussions regarding negative emissions engineering and the like will go even worse.

  48. hyper,

    This portends that discussions regarding negative emissions engineering and the like will go even worse.

    Indeed, and this may already have started. There are some who regard negative emissions as a panacea that just allows us to put off making the difficult decisions about actually reducing emissions, and others who see it as something worth investigating more. Probably similar with geoengineering. I have no real problem with looking at these options, but I’ve seen little to convince me that negative emissions could ever work at the required scale.

  49. @ATTP, @EssaysConcern, @Everett F Sargent,

    The other aspect of 80+% wind and solar penetration is there’s recently been work looking at climate and environmental effects of large numbers of panels and turbines. It was mentioned at the Lorenz-Charney Symposium at MIT early in February 2018. Panels in arid areas change albedo and this, apparently, can be enough to alter weather. There was a mention that a big constellation of offshore turbines on the East Coast would grab enough energy from below 200m winds to alter systems.

    I am not suggesting that these are reasons not to build direct, zero Carbon energy sources. I am suggesting that these kinds of effects need to be considered and, hopefully, modelled.

    The same is true of massive plantings. A large scale deployment of Jatropha curcas on the Saudi Arabia peninsula is enough to convert it into a semi-tropical region, eventually.

  50. Attp: “I thought I would post a figure that – in my view – largely illustrates the issue.”

    Let me propose rather another one, which instead works with (essentially) the single point 3600 GtCO2 budget you chose from your figure:

    That figure is buried about 3/4 of the way down this Carbon Brief article, but it has the advantage of allowing you to interact with it, to see the implied reduction in emissions each year, given a “when we start date” and the remaining emission budget left at that point. There is also an animated version of the same data/plot, that depressingly walks us through the stark reality of what 10-20 years of basically nothing but argy-bargy means now for our mitigation paths.

    *If* you/we are serious about mitigation “with a likely (i.e. >66%) chance of staying below 2C” then that is the stark reality of what we are facing.

    And I encourage people to play with the interactive version of that chart, just to see some of the startling annual reductions implied once those smooth “S” curves really hit their stride a decade or so out…

    This is what I am not seeing. I am not seeing often enough the “we have solutions!” folks look at their proposed solutions – carbon tax, renewable build outs, nukes, EV’s, etc. – in the context of these curves. Example: Solar/wind/storage enthusiasts will quote you impressive “growth” statistics – which are all about growth of their miniscule install base, and typically the installed nameplate generation capacity, not actually delivered energy. I often get the sense that they have an internal belief system along the lines of the quote attributed to Einstein “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world.” I.e., that although their install base and penetration is miniscule now, that if you compound the growth over time, eventually it overwhelms everything else and comes to our rescue.

    Leaving aside the fact that – at least for wind and solar – they have had the twin advantages over the last decade of generally huge subsidies and “unexpected” cost declines, and yet still have barely increased their share of global energy, that “belief” in “compound interest” ignores the much, much larger compound interest issue working against them that the plot implies. For every year that we fail to deliver big declines on emissions, it means that the necessity of the solar/wind/nuke/EV/whatever solutions to deliver ever faster is ramped up.

    This is why I think that ultimately there is no getting around the very simple points that Kevin Anderson makes about focusing on reducing demand, and specifically the demand of the 10% of emitters that constitute roughly 50% of emissions. There, we could quite easily* get huge and early reductions in emissions. Reduce your emissions from leisure aviation by, say 15% per year for the next 5 years (for starters). Reduce your automobile-powered trips for groceries by 20% a year. Reduce the emissions attributable to your diet by 20% a year.

    These are not sufficient lifts on their own, but they in fact can deliver much, much larger results early. But this seems like third rail stuff. Don’t dare bring this up, because it brings people face to face with the fact that when it really comes down to it, vacations to the sun and skiing and nice steak is, actually, more important to them than their children’s and grandchildren’s well-being. Oh, a new EV? Of course! I will buy one to preserve the world for my grandchild! But staycations? What, are you crazy?

    Anyway, I slipped into my own prejudice here – although I think informed by both the physics of the dilemma and the demonstrated capabilities of renewables to deliver. But what I really think needs to be done is to hold the techno-optimists’ projections to the fire of these absolute emissions reduction pathways. If they can plausibly show how they can deliver near-term (and they must deliver longer-term, regardless, but long-term can’t backfill for misses near-term given the “stock” problem of cumulative emissions), then let’s get at it! But I suspect they can’t. In which case we need to have frank conversations about whether we seriously want to solve this problem.

    This is already tl;dr, but if I catch my breath, I will also comment on what I think we need to do – which is to get public commenters to explicitly lay out the assumptions and goals that they are talking about. Which temperature guardrail, which likelihood of avoidance, carbon budget quantity, negative emissions inherent in the proposal, etc., etc. Maybe later.

  51. I found some references regarding the climate impacts of wind and solar …
    * D. W. Keith, et al, “The influence of large-scale wind power on global climate”, PNAS 2004.
    * C. Wang, R. G. Prinn, “Potential climatic impacts and reliability of very large-scale wind farms”, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 2053–2061, 2010
    * D. Millstein, S. Menon, “Regional climate consequences of large-scale cool roof and photovoltaic array deployment”, Environmental Research Letters, 6(3), 2011.

    Of special interest to me is the role of the biosphere in all this. Primary production both on land and in oceans has noticeably increased due to CO2 fertilization. Whether that will continue with increasing temperatures and nutrient limits seems, at present, anyone’s guess. But altering the local humidity and ecological balance of a region by introducing panels and wind turbines is bound to have some ecosystem impacts. Unlike perhaps some, I do not consider this a reason not to introduce them. In particular, since new growth forests are relatively useless for long term sequestering of CO2 (can provide reference, based upon a European experience; upshot is need old growth forests), cutting forests which arose after farmland was abandoned is okay by me. However, to the degree biological systems and entities can respond quickly and nonlinearly to environmental changes, we might get some surprises as a result of large scale interventions. These should be studied.

  52. zebra says:

    @MalAdapted,

    Mal, I have never criticized you for stating the obvious fact that this is a TOC problem. I would like to see you get past just saying that and start talking about realistic solutions.

    Unless I’m misreading Ostrom, he is agreeing with me about the impracticability of some kind of global “top-down” regulatory solution.

    What I look for are ways that actors at the local level– governmental that is– can influence or “nudge” things to create a paradigm shift that overwhelms the efforts of those trying to maintain BAU.

    Our friend (“smallblue”) mike just above tells us that it is “all Obama’s fault” because he didn’t make himself dictator for life and force people to install solar panels. But I would argue that the hard-fought regulatory changes and incentives by the Obama administration, and others previously, have made real progress both possible and inevitable. But for the outcome of the last election, the USA might well be leading the way and making money while doing it.

    It isn’t just reducing our own emissions, but focusing on policies that have global reach, without appearing to threaten others in the shorter term. This is chess, not checkers.

  53. Well, as to the 20% gap, there is an awful lot that can be done with (1) demand response, and (2) active control measures. By “(1)” I don’t just mean “don’t use it now”, I mean dumping energy into heat sinks when available for later use, or active control of variable speed motors in large urban buildings. You can shut chillers off, or turn them on. IEEE Power and Energy society discussions have included using the set of swimming pools in the state of California as big heat sinks.

    Alternative controls might also replace the present use of frequency variations as a signal for demand. This has served well, and is done with high accuracy in the USA and Europe, but it imposes limitations on how things can be managed. It’s possible management could be better done if there was an independent control plane.

    I’m not belittling the 20%, but I just wonder how much of the need for extraordinary measures there is contingent upon network topology and control being as it is now.

    Still, it would be awfully nice to have lots of small, modular Thorium-based nuclear power units around ….

  54. rust,
    Yes, that is another good figure (which I think I may have used before).

  55. @ATTP, @zebra,

    So, what’s the plan for dealing with that? What’s a realistic projection for reaching zero emissions rapidly without some crazy idea like capturing the Saudi oil fields and shutting them down?

    Indeed. I don’t know the answer to this.

    Well, there is an answer, and we are pursuing it. The economic system will collapse well before civilization, and that will collapse well before changes in climate become an existential threat for people, if they ever do. Both the collapse of the global economic system and certainly that of civilization will significantly reduce emissions. The nuclear way along the way, if it occurs, will disperse dust sufficiently to block a lot of forcing.

    Nothing to worry about, is there?

  56. “Unless, this is some massive storage system that you’ve filled up using renewables, you may as well use this system all the time, rather than simply when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining (nuclear, for example).”

    Not to mention that all the storage systems run out of juice before the wind kicks back in. And this is why there really isn’t much of a debate. There are those who recognize this, and those we’re waiting on to recognize this.
    The question is not whether scientists should be involved in the debate about solutions, but which scientists. NASA astronomers didn’t design the SaturnV rocket engines, NASA climate scientists aren’t going to design the 21st century power plant. If the astronomers are holding out for a solar powered moon rocket, they’re just delaying the trip.

    “Alongside wholesale changes in diet, transport and energy efficiency…”
    Somehow, this is never mentioned when people are polled on the topic of climate change. Your average climate concerned person in the US isn’t pouring over white papers from obscure environmental groups. They’re being told there will be no change in their lifestyle at all in a 100% renewable world except maybe a few dollars more on the power bill. The disconnect is a serious political problem. What’s the support level for climate change action in California if you fess up to Google and Facebook employees that 100% renewable means no more big server farms- ie no more Google and Facebook? I don’t know about you, but I’ll give up the ability to stream cat videos before I’ll give up steak.

  57. Naive question, slightly tangential but mostly on-point I think:

    Why does it seem that whenever you see the various proposed mitigation pathways – whether it is like the Carbon Brief example I posted above, or the annual UNEP Bridging the Emissions Gap examples, or on and on, are they always fitted to “S” curves (aka logistic curves).

    The annual emission reductions as expressed as a % of the prior year tend to start small, get very large in the middle, and then tend taper off to be relatively small towards the end. Is there any strong theoretical rationale for this, or is the convention simply homage to ‘Anne Elk’s Theory on Brontosauruses’?

    I can grok that there could be potential learning effects early that build on themselves, or that the last emissions reductions may be the most intractable and/or valuable so may be more stubbornly wrung out, or even just “enthusiasm!” as the populace and capitalists warm to the task of decarbonization in the second decade or so.

    But it always strikes me as a bit peculiar and implicitly favouring the inaction of the current generations (or at least the present actions of those generations versus down the line) in exchange for presumptions of herculean actions further down the line.

    If you were to plot, for instance the “Moore’s law for carbon” proposal as laid out ScienceMag last year (A Roadmap for Decarbonization). There, they call for a halving of emissions each decade for the next 4 decades, which works out to about a constant 7% decline per annum. If you plot that, you get a concave/exponential curve, not an “S” curve.

    Again, I am just genuinely curious about why they are generally always fitted to an “S” curve? I don’t even think this makes sense from an economic/discounting perspective, unless you are building into the models that somehow technology/cost curve advances are occurring faster than the 7% rate (or, presumably, that current alternative investments broadly exist (at the scale of “all energy investments”) that exceed 7%, or some other implausible condition).

    Here to be schooled. Thanks.

  58. rust,
    I don’t know *why* they’re s-curved. However, as you say, I can see why it might difficult to get started. As I understand it, it might also be very difficult to do the last bit of emissions reductions. Alternatively, these are just nice smooth functions that look good 😉

  59. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    I would like to see you get past just saying that and start talking about realistic solutions.

    Unless I’m misreading Ostrom, he is agreeing with me about the impracticability of some kind of global “top-down” regulatory solution.

    Z, I’ve never advocated global top-down regulatory solutions. IMHO, the most politically feasible and therefore realistic solution is a revenue-neutral US carbon tax, such as Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment Tariff. I’ve made no secret of my support for it.

    But while I’m waiting for an effective plurality of US voters to lobby Congress for CF&D/BAT, smaller-scale collective efforts, like state mandates for power utilities to supply a specified amount of carbon-neutral energy, or local property tax rebates for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels, can have a significant impact in aggregate. The late Elinor Ostrom won the “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel” in 2009, for her work with real-world examples of efforts to manage common pool resources at various scales. What distinguishes such solutions from voluntary individual efforts is that they are collective, i.e. they require a plurality of individual stake-holders (US voters, for example) to support them. The only realistic solutions to AGW are collective ones!

    Note: even Ostrom agreed that sub-national efforts in aggregate might not be sufficient to drive the rate of warming to zero, so that national and international collective decisions might be required.

    Once again: while voluntary individual efforts shouldn’t be discouraged, they are up against the free-rider problem. As long as it’s economic to burn fossil carbon for energy, GMST will continue to rise.

  60. Jai John Mitchell says:

    Rust,

    What would your figure look like if ECS was 3.7 instead of the median 3.0 (as observed historically by Brown & Caldiera 2017) AND what if it also included the non-linear impact of the loss of Summer Arctic Sea ice and changes in albedo forcing over the next 20 years which can ONLY increase the ECS value (since this effect is not included in the MAGICC models)

    And then what if you decided to include the actual carbon cycle emissions that will occur under the continued warming scenario (MAGICC only includes 55 GtC through 2100 under RCP 6.0 while Crowther et. al 2016 found that under only 2.0C of warming we would see up to 400 GtC of carbon cycle emissions within only 50 years).

    Then what happens to your 1.5C and 2.0C curves???

    Isn’t it plainly obvious that we have already exceeded 2.4C at todays GHG abundance levels???

  61. ATTP – I’d recommend looking at the range of outputs from CAT. I have been studying it for a couple of years, and in a couple of months, will be attending a course there to get a deeper insight into ZCB. What I like about them is their understanding that moving to post-FF world is more than simply switching energy sources – it is transformational. Especially given the imperative to decarbonize asap. They understand the challenge better than most, but then they have been thinking about it longer than most. Whenever I get a chance to meet with political representatives I take a copy of ZCB with me. My question them is ‘do you have a plan to get to the 2050 UK targets?’ … after a bit of blah blah (they don’t have a plan, they have aspirations), I whip out ZCB and say, ‘well here is one, which was launched by a cross-party group in Parliament, why not take this one (or if not this one, another one, but it needs to be comprehensive and the numbers must add up)?’, ‘Oh, and you gotta get out there and sell it to the electorate’. We all need to engage with our political reps and pressure them to move on from aspirations, to plans, and to get off the fence.

  62. Jai John Mitchell says:

    Rust,

    The emissions reduction curve is an ‘S’ Curve for 3 reasons

    1. It is assumed that the emissions will be reduced through the adoption of new technologies whose implementation rates typically follow S Curves
    2. It is assumed that earlier emissions reduction losses will be more cost-effective and easier to implement than latter ones, including the fact that ramp-up of infrastructure is also needed to achieve. Latter emissions reductions are much harder to achieve, hence the ‘S’.
    3. aesthetics

  63. @rustneversleeps, @Jai John Mitchell,

    On “S” or logistic curves …

    Bass diffusion model. This can also model the abandonment of a product or technology as well as adoption. It is also the reason why people are optimistic about wind and solar adoption: In the middle of the curve, the adoption rate is super-linear.

  64. angech says:

    hypergeometric says: March 7, 2018 at 3:41 pm
    The same is true of massive plantings. *A large scale deployment of Jatropha curcas on the Saudi Arabia peninsula is enough to convert it into a semi-tropical region, eventually. Panels in arid areas change albedo and this, apparently, can be enough to alter weather.”
    and
    ” the role of the biosphere in all this. Primary production both on land and in oceans has noticeably increased due to CO2 fertilization. But altering the local humidity and ecological balance of a region by introducing panels and wind turbines is bound to have some ecosystem impacts. Unlike perhaps some, I do not consider this a reason not to introduce them.
    In particular, since *new growth forests are relatively useless for long term sequestering of CO2 cutting forests which arose after farmland was abandoned is okay by me. However, to the degree biological systems and entities can respond quickly and nonlinearly to environmental changes, we might get some surprises as a result of large scale interventions. These should be studied.”
    * ?
    So we do and can alter the weather without CO2 intervention. The consequence is the destruction of the natural habitat to preserve the natural habitat.
    This segues into my particular hangup of geo engineering the world. Not to preserve the status quo but to improve the world for humans and most of the rest of life on the world by active change that benefits most.The problem is that the risk of change is the risk of destruction of what we have,yet if we do not change we risk losing it all anyway.
    Changing deserts into useful habitats in a self sustaining way is an entertaining thought.

  65. I know *what* the S curve is. What I am curious about is why it seems to be so universally applied to decarbonization. It seems to be implicitly assuming that the “best is yet to come” – and for a very extended period of into the future – for pv, wind, storage, etc.

    That is contrary to what we experienced with hydro, nuclear, etc. (which, by the way, look eerily similar at their early stages of penetration into the energy mix as alternatives look now…)… I am skeptical, For example:

    … In contrast to what is commonly perceived, the specific growth rate in energy extraction from wind turbines and photovoltaics have decreased in recent years. In an optimistic scenario, where we have included forecasted data from the solar and wind associations four years into the future, the logistic model implies that the total installed capacity saturates at around 1.8 TW in 2030. This is in sharp contrast to the almost established belief that these energy technologies will experience an exponential growth far into this century.

    What “we” are doing when we bake this assumption into the mitigation cake like this is (1) encouraging deferment of demand-side levers (e.g. deliberate choices to curtail consumption) because, hey, the cavalry is on the way to our rescue!; and (2) building up a daunting mitigation deficit of missed reductions if the cavalry never arrives…

    And I recognize – they have to model with *some* assumption of the form of the pathway, but this is yet another thing where the implications of that choice should be made explicit.

    And I hate to bring up “Kevin Anderson” again, but if you go back and look at his presentation at the “4 degrees and beyond” conference in Oxford in 2009 (2009!!!! almost 10 years ago, ffs…) it is largely unchanged to what he is saying today, except that things are far more dire. The supply side has been a total dud in the larger scheme of reducing absolute emissions. And you still don’t hear, say, Michael Mann or Bill McKibben or – as far as I am aware – any high-profile mitigation advocate explicitly challenging Anderson’s assertions. More like whistling along, la-la-la, I don’t hear you, look a squirrel!, whoa, did you see the new news on pv cost curves??? Etc.

    Why doesn’t anyone pen a “Here’s why Kevin is wrong” article? Certainly no one is shy about debunking MacPherson or Wadhams or Spencer or Lomborg or on and on. Anderson? Crickets…

    Anyway, since I am engaging on this, how’s that supply-side thing, technology going, eh team? Renwables! Renewables! Sis Boom Bah! I can keep flying! Rah Rah Rah!

  66. rust,

    Why doesn’t anyone pen a “Here’s why Kevin is wrong” article? Certainly no one is shy about debunking MacPherson or Wadhams or Spencer or Lomborg or on and on. Anderson? Crickets…

    Indeed, and I’ve wondered this myself. Maybe he isn’t yet high profile enough. Or, he’s very hard to debunk, because he’s careful and his analysis is correct.

  67. @rustneversleeps,

    That is contrary to what we experienced with hydro, nuclear, etc. (which, by the way, look eerily similar at their early stages of penetration into the energy mix as alternatives look now…)… I am skeptical,

    Well, nuclear has a negative learning curve:

    and hydro can be limited by available waters. Recent news story has an energy generator in France building wind and solar because their hydropower is being limited by smaller and smaller glaciers in the Alps. For that matter, nuclear can be limited by the same. At least one nuclear power plant in Peru curtails because the river upon which it depends for cooling dries up because of insufficient ice.

    The penetration is based upon experiences across a wide variety of products, and the famous learning curve profiles of solar and wind, e.g., from Lazard, who are pretty conservative:

  68. “Again, I am just genuinely curious about why they are generally always fitted to an “S” curve? I don’t even think this makes sense from an economic/discounting perspective, unless you are building into the models that somehow technology/cost curve advances are occurring faster than the 7% rate (or, presumably, that current alternative investments broadly exist (at the scale of “all energy investments”) that exceed 7%, or some other implausible condition).”

    The S-curve is a common heuristic, often found expressed as a Logistic sigmoid. It’s straight-forward to derive the Logistic in terms of MaxEnt dispersion of exponentially accelerating rates and of a MaxEnt distribution of bounding sub-volumes. When you see that derivation, it makes a lot of sense — gradually accelerating uptake due to dispersion of rates and the gradual asymptote is due to the filling of the sparse large sub-volumes.

  69. I appreciate the “S curve” responses. At the same time, I think maybe my point isn’t clear.

    I understand the “math” behind the derivation (or smoothing/fitting maybe in this specific case) of these curves. I also understand the “history” in terms of generalizing from the introduction of Trac II Gillette razor blades, or whatever the business school case was that introduced one to the concept…

    I guess what I am asking is more akin to “why is this parameterization applicable in this particular (decarbonization) case”?

    Suppose we were faced with, instead, an unintended and urgent dilemma where we had to, oh, I don’t know, reduce the concentration of molybdenum in the ocean? Why would a first order assumption be that our extraction rates over time look like an S curve? There are certainly many, many physical reasons to think that it wouldn’t.

    And I know, that – like all! – analogy(s) is imperfect, and further that the availability heuristic answer is “but teh entrepreneurs, and teh techmowlogee, and teh razor blades!”.

    Yes. I know. CFC’s. Acid rain… But I am seriously dubious that we can just “go to” these and say “therefore, again, behold”… Certainly the evidence since, oh, I don’t know, “An Inconvenient Truth”, or, I don’t know, 2017, suggests that something else is going on…

    I could make the case myself why maybe a 7% annual emissions reduction in 2025 is easier than even achieving a flatline in 2017, or that that 12% in 2030 is easier than 2030 is easier yet. Except I wouldn’t convince myself.

    On the other hand, I could fairly easily squeeze another 5% out of my personal emissions this year – even though I have already picked off a lot of low-hanging opportunities. And yet, I think it gets harder and harder each year to do that, not easier…

  70. Since I am on a boring roll, here is another commented I drafted earlier today, and just re-encountered:

    Another comment, circling back to some comments in the original post. Specifically the paragraph that begins thus:

    “However, this is where I find it gets complicated. We need emissions to peak and then drop to zero, but how do we do so in a way that fairly takes into account all the various factors? Do we simply rely on a carbon tax and hope that the market really does select the optimal pathway, or do we take a more direct approach and actively influence the direction in which we progress? How do we share the remaining carbon budget in a way that’s fair to those who’ve emitted least, but isn’t punative towards those who’ve emitted most? What about… “

    I think we need some sort of hierarchy with which to assess the answers to these various competing priorities.

    To that extent, I think the “scientists” – presumably you were focusing mostly on the (broad) climate scientists – can play a very important role. And it does not necessarily entail dragging them into the “talking solutions and/or motivating action” realm.

    If you assume that solutions and action are (1) in furtherance of addressing a dilemma that has some basic physical dimensions, and that (2) we do, in fact, have agreed upon goals with respect to those physical dimensions, then scientists (or even a critical public) can at least evaluate various proposed solutions (and/or the required motivations) against their ability to deliver against those physical dimensions.

    To deconstruct that enough to make it plainer, e.g.:
    (1) We are trying to avoid climate impacts that are function of temperature rise, and that the temperature rise is a function of cumulative ghg (carbon) emissions;
    (2) *We* have agreed (per Paris) that we are trying to avoid 2C global temperature rise with a 2/3 probability of success, which translates into a roughly 1 trillion tonne cumulative carbon budget, and remaining budget of about 400 billion tonnes (or 1440 GtCO2).

    As you say, you can argue that the exact numbers are within 10% or so, + or minus, of that budget, but that is essentially what has been agreed to. You can also disagree that Paris is “wrong” – one way or the other – but for practical purposes, those are the goals that we need to evaluate proposed solutions against.

    At that point, the geophysical scientists can fairly challenge any proposed solutions against whether they are actually plausibly delivering (or can deliver) against those goals. For a cartoonish for instance, let’s say it was proposed that we can be quite certain that by 2045 we will finally crack the nut on fusion and all our energy needs will truly begin to met by power “too cheap to meter” within the following two decades. From strictly a math/physics perspective, that is not a solution because the budget is blown waiting for it to arrive – unless your solution also includes other actions like demand reduction, CO2 removal and sequestration from direct air capture, etc. (which can also be somewhat “subjectively-objectively” assessed as well).

    This doesn’t make any of this easy, but at least it gives a starting point for assessing competing ideas.

    For what it is worth, here is a screenshot from one of Kevin Anderson’s recent talks that coincides with this idea – evaluating “solutions” against some agreed upon goals and dimensions. Note well that he not advocating any solution himself on this slide, just getting the underlying assumptions to be able to assess whether solution in question is coherent or at least plausible:

    The point I blacked out was “Do you take account of equity between poorer & richer nations?”. That is, in fact, something else “we” have agreed to in Paris, but I am not sure that physical scientists have as much credibility subjecting solutions to that criteria. It is a competing interest, of course, and should be noted, but if we are just evaluating the proposal against “could it achieve 400 GtC budget?”, it may not be something they want to weigh in on.

    As it is right now, everyone gets to just squawk “EV’s! Carbon tax!”, etc., in a sort of free-for-all my-favourite-guess-is-as-good-or-better!-than yours commons.

    Speaking of “Carbon tax”. Don’t get me started…

  71. @rustneversleeps,

    I guess what I am asking is more akin to “why is this parameterization applicable in this particular (decarbonization) case”?

    It doesn’t. The presumption is that these are superior, more cost effective technologies, and, so, they’ll beat the present simply because of that. There’s plenty of examples where that has happened. Sure, in this case, the incumbents have regulatory capture. But even that won’t stop the advance. If they are too difficult, their business model might blow up.

    Question is, will this happen enough to achieve the decarbonization we need? I think the answer pretty much is, No.

  72. Sorry. Forgot to close the blockquote properly.

  73. Chris says:

    “Two Bureau of Meteorology employees are reportedly being investigated by police for mining cryptocurrency on their work computers.
    A BoM spokesman said it would be “inappropriate for the bureau to comment on a police matter”.

    Just the kind of news that is required. I suggest bringing back tarring and feathering.
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/08/bureau-of-meteorology-employees-investigated-for-mining-cryptocurrency-at-work

    If you’re not stealing cryptocurrency you just aren’t serious.

  74. @rustneversleeps, your second post …

    There is no planned path to achieving all this. There cannot be. It is an optimization problem to be attacked from many angles, and it will take agility. Some problems might arise because things done don’t achieve what we thought they might. Some problems might arise because Nature has surprises in store, and there are plenty of possible ones. Some problems might arise because our choices and execution — distributed in space and responsibility as they necessarily will be — will themselves have unforeseen side effects.

    I agree with your implied criticism regarding the limitations on a Carbon Tax. Carbon Fee and Dividend is better, to some degree, because it isn’t used to fund necessary parts of government, but they both have the problem that as decarbonization succeeds, less revenue comes in, and what begins as a disincentive on emitting Carbon transforms to an incentive to continue doing so.

    There is no direct path. All I know is people need to learn about joint probability: If a thing A is hard to achieve, e.g., decarbonization, and its likelihood is [|A|], doing A and B, no matter what B is has a probability [|A^B|] which, if they are independent, [|A|][|B|]. In any case, and for sure, [|A^B|] <= [|A|] and most probably [|A^B|] < [|A|]. Accordingly, lashing another goal, e.g., climate justice, as absolutely worthy as that is, or continuing to save wildlife, as definitely worthy as that is, it making an extremely difficult problem almost impossible. Sorry. We’ve blown the luxury of choices on this by collectively not paying attention for 20 years.

  75. Chris says:

    A $10,000 reward leading to the identification of the authors of an anti-wind energy website is being offered by former Sydney University academic.

    Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman AO posted the reward on Twitter in an attempt to discover who was responsible for the Australian-focussed anti-windfarm website stopthesethings.com

    http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/5260972/10000-to-reveal-anti-windfarm-bloggers-identities/?cs=62
    thx @beneltham

  76. “I guess what I am asking is more akin to “why is this parameterization applicable in this particular (decarbonization) case”?

    Because the S-curve in the form of a logistic sigmoid is also widely known as the cumulative variant of the Hubbert curve, which relates to the depletion dynamics of a finite resource such as crude oil. The Hubbert curve was first devised by M.King Hubbert, a Shell geologist, in the late 1950’s. He qualitatively predicted the peak of US oil production in the 1970s, based on his knowledge of lower-48 oil reserves. Of course, he missed on Alaska oil, Gulf oil, and the secondary non-conventional crude oil sources such as Bakken, but those will also go through the same S-curve dynamics.

    To some it’s a given that the finite geology of fossil fuels will force us to go through decarbonization via the S-curve independent of climate change mitigated decarbonizaton. The combination will only accelerate the process.

  77. Everett F Sargent says:

    ATTP,

    Credit: Glen Peters

    Where is the math behind this figure?

    Don’t ask me why, but I an just a tad skeptical, that humanity has a 16% chance of NOT exceeding 1.5C at the point where we have released at least 7,000 GtCO2 of cumulative emissions (my meter currently reads 2,285 GtCO2 for 1750-2016 inclusive).

  78. Everett F Sargent says:

    ATTP,

    Still skeptical on that Glen Peters figure. For example, where would the 1.0C curve go (regardless of it already have been exceeded (or not))? I’d really like to see the RHS of that figure with 1.0C, 0,5C and 0.0C (vertical line at zero cumulative emissions) added.

  79. Evertt,
    I think that figure takes into account the uncertainty in the carbon cycle and climate sensitivity. For example, the Transient response to Cumulative Emissions (TCRE) is 0.8 to 2.5oC per 1000GtC (or per 3670 GtCO2). So, there is a chance (small) that we could emit as much as 7000 GtCO2 and only warm by about 1.5oC. I will admit that 15% does seem a bit high. The Carbon Brief article that I linked to in the post does suggest that some of the numbers in the figure are a bit high.

  80. Everett F Sargent says:

    Thanks ATTP,

    Went to GP’s Twitter feed, saw your (retweeted post), got to 2017-12-29 and found link …
    http://www.cicero.oslo.no/no/posts/klima/05c-makes-a-big-difference-for-mitigation
    Which links to this paper …
    https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3000
    Figures there do not include the one shown here, but I’ll just have to let this one go.

  81. Steven Mosher says:

    “There is no planned path to achieving all this. There cannot be. It is an optimization problem to be attacked from many angles, and it will take agility. ”

    Agility implies the ability to rapidly assess and correct. The problem is not one where agility helps much because the actions you take typically take years to implement and years to get some feedback so you can adjust course.

    If the climate were a jetski, then yes, you’d want a short time constant. Think OODA Loop.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop
    ( I confess I’m a Boyd disciple)

    But the climate is an oil tanker. Its not an optimaztion problem, its a muddle through problem.
    Whatever path you pick will be wrong. At best It’s a minimize wrongness problem.

    But here’s the problem. Nobody wants to say ” Here is my solution, I know its going to be wrong in certain ways, and sub optimal, but we have to start some place and see how it goes”

    As a practical matter we are muddling along

  82. Steven Mosher says:

    Again, I am just genuinely curious about why they are generally always fitted to an “S” curve”

    for any process that has an intrinsic min and max its awesome. say it was survival or market penetration. 0 to 100%.

  83. Dave_Geologist says:

    “Again, I am just genuinely curious about why they are generally always fitted to an “S” curve”

    Or if you’re a fan of the Central Limit Theorem, you could regard it as the (reverse) integral of a normal distribution, where the variable is degree-of-difficulty, economic viability or whatever.

    The tails (new technology and prototypes; law-of-diminishing-returns) are hard but in the middle it’s all much-of-a-muchness. E.g. hunting bison. Tough with spears or bows and arrows, not much impact on the population. Easy with repeating rifles, rapid decline, but still lots left to kill. Tough at the end, so few they’re hard to find.

    Or sometimes the later tail is by choice (moral, or obsolescence). Think whale hunting, or steam railways. Maybe in the 21st Century, carbon sequestration and negative emissions will be so cheap and easy that we can burn the rest of the oil and coal with equanimity. In which case it’s our moral duty to preserve them for our great-grandchildren 😉

  84. Dave_Geologist says:

    22nd Century ;-(

  85. zebra says:

    @rustneversleeps

    What’s missing from that list by Kevin Anderson is: What about Russia? And Saudi, Iran, Iraq,… and even the US, which is slated to become the world’s largest oil producer this year.

    At least the US has some stuff to sell other than fossil fuels, but for those countries….?

    Denial is denial…whether it’s denying physics, or denying the realities of human nature and economics and geopolitics. I forget the author, but there’s that old saying: “No plan of battle survives first contact with the enemy.”

    So, deciding among plans– “here’s what we should do”– to get zero emissions in 30 years, or some such, is whistling past the graveyard, to use another old chestnut.

    The hardest part of problem-solving is getting the question right. Basic principle of engineering design in a life-critical or existential context is to assume the worst and plan for it. Scary and unpleasant, but there it is.

  86. John Hartz says:

    Hot off the press…

    <strongWanna limit global warming to 1.5°C? Get cracking

    Analysis breaks down what it would take—and it’s a lot.

    by Scott K Johnson, Ars Technica, Mar 7, 2018

    One surprise in the international Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions was the addition of the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius. Nations have long stated that their aim was to avoid exceeding 2-degree warming (though they’ve largely failed to follow through with actions that would make that possible), and so scientists have studied that scenario in great detail. But nobody had been promising to keep this a 1.5-degree world, so the information was lacking.

    A new study* led by Joeri Rogelj of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis digs into this problem, providing a breakdown of plausible scenarios that will form the basis of future research efforts. This work uses computer models of the global economy to simulate the costs and effects of things like transitioning away from fossil fuels at different paces.

    Click here to access the entire article.

    *Scenarios towards limiting global mean temperature increase below 1.5 °C, Joeri Rogelj, Nature Climate Change [doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0091-3], Mar 5, 2018

    Perhaps this new research should be the focus of a new OP?

  87. Everett F Sargent says:

    That paper tells me exactly two things; (1) We will exceed 1.5C (at least for awhile) and (2) We will need negative emissions for 45 years to get back below 1.5C by 2100 (SSP1-1.9, Figure 1a and 1d). I also think that paper should have included 60 GtCO2eq versus their maximum of 50 GtCO2eq (short term, say up to 2030)).
    UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2017
    https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report


    A linear growth in emissions leads to a quadratic growth in atmospheric CO2 concentrations (which is a proxy for cumulative CO2 emissions).
    Constant emissions leads to a linear growth in atmospheric CO2 concentrations (ditto).

    I’ll start believe all these future low emissions scenarios when I see the atmospheric CO2 curve go concave down.

  88. I’ll start believe all these future low emissions scenarios when I see the atmospheric CO2 curve go concave down.

    Not sure what you are saying here.

    If, for instance, we magically cut our emissions by, say, 75% tomorrow morning and held there for the next two decades (which, by any objective measure would be an extremely low future emissions scenario), then the atmospheric CO2 curve would still be relentlessly going up, albeit with a bit of kink in the curve at a lower upward slope.

    This is actually going to be a difficult sell to the general public, if we ever get to this point. But as I mentioned in the earlier thread, John Sterman and others have shown that even MIT engineers who have been briefly briefed on the dynamics of a “stock and flow” problem tend to consistently interpret this wrong.

    On the other hand, we would have slowed our depletion of the remaining carbon budget dramatically enough that we would have an enormously better chance of avoiding 2C.

    If we are waiting for people to be reassured by seeing the atmospheric CO2 curve bend down, then we can just forget about reassuring them that way, because that is not the way the physics is going to play out for a looong time, even under huge mitigation scenarios (unless we start pulling it out of the air at stunning levels).

  89. Ken Fabian says:

    That a mostly RE approach gets difficult past ~80% should not be a reason not to aim for that 80%. Yet not having a firm grip on that last 20% is used to obstruct a firm commitment to that 80%. Well, every possible excuse and justification gets used to obstruct by someone, somewhere and delay – when action vs inaction is inverted, ie not reducing emissions is the continuation of cumulative, world altering actions – is a choice with real world consequences.

    I view any fully costed, fully planned solutions with high levels of suspicion and think a firm commitment to the fundamental goal of restoring climate stability matters more than (but doesn’t replace) commitment to any particular technology or pathway; that essential commitment to the underlying goal is still not evident. On the contrary we have commitment to opposing it apparent at the highest levels of influential governments like the USA and Russia.

    There is good reason to aim to exceed that 80% with RE – I think with a real potential to achieve it, because what we have now is not the last word. Scale of storage requirements is indeed huge, yet any solution in a world of 8 billion must be at enormous – unprecedented – scale. A scale equivalent to the global car industry perhaps? The doubling of which is a largely unremarked and unopposed possibility. Approaching the limits of RE becomes, itself, strong motivation to have solutions. Holding back until then is – as with interminable delaying for inarguable, scientific certainty – demotivating.

    No surprise to regulars here that I think the fix-the-whole-problem-with-nuclear option is much more impeded by pro fossil fuels climate obstructionists than anti-nuclear environmentalists. I keep expecting that partisan obstructionism to become untenable in the face of consistent expert advice and opposition to be displaced by attempts at open eyed leadership, with genuine backing for nuclear rather than using it without real commitment as a rhetorical blunt instrument for defending FF’s and whacking “greenies” – and yet that transition of thinking within mainstream politics, more important than any technology, seems as elusive as ever.

  90. angech says:

    Everett
    “A linear growth in emissions leads to a quadratic growth in atmospheric CO2 concentrations (which is a proxy for cumulative CO2 emissions).
    Constant emissions leads to a linear growth in atmospheric CO2 concentrations ”
    A small point of confusion is that the emissions are quoted as constant or increasing are only a small part of the total emissions by nature herself.
    A second is the insistence on stacking the human component into the overall component and pretending that it does not turn over just as quickly as the rest.
    Hence a quadratic growth in atmospheric CO2 is not correct thought the linear growth [excluding natural variation is, albeit at a lower trend than just that of the man made component trend.
    Not a real issue as you are only quoting some research.

  91. Mitch says:

    Another reason to aim to exceed 80% renewables: it will take time to get to 80%, and we can focus research on how to go bigger. Furthermore, hydropower is currently at 16% of total world power, so at least part of the base load is built in. Of course this number will shrink as total electrical demand grows meaning that energy efficiency should be part of the package.

  92. Everett F Sargent says:

    rustneversleeps,

    I meant to say start to turn concave down, first it has to go through a quasi-linear phase than an inflection point.

    I’m not waiting for this to happen 1st, but with progressively steeper or deeper cuts in CO2 emissions, something has to happen to the CO2 curve, if emissions were to instantly go to zero, then I’d expect an initial mirror image of the CO2 curve, at least for small times of say a few years to say a decade. I’d have to track down the paper that was published several years ago that showed just such behavior initially. Or just go to one of the carbon budget spreadsheets and zero out the land use and emissions columns for a decade or two, cumulative sum, plot and compare, aCO2 will move as it always has into the ocean and land sinks. Airborne fraction goes from say ~0.5 to zero of course.

  93. I’ll start believe all these future low emissions scenarios when I see the atmospheric CO2 curve go concave down.

    Me, too. That’s why I agree with Prof Kevin Anderson when he essentially says the COP21/COP23 self-congratulatory party mood is a bunch of Not-So-Pious Blather. There are no successes to report yet. That it isn’t as bad as it might be is not a win.

  94. Yeah, but the public and many policy people don’t get is that, because of its long life in the climate system, CO2e is not like other pollutants we have dealt with. It is as if most of the insecticide people spray is still there 50 years on, but, of course, CO2 is much longer. They don’t get the analogy of a big bathtub with a mostly blocked drain being filled. (That analogy has been tried, but people soon look away.)

  95. Agreed very much on going for 80+%, full steam ahead.

    Also about natural gas being a nuclear power killer.

  96. Everett F Sargent says:

    I think that this is the (or a) paper I was thinking about …
    Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/events/20130729/files/Solomon-Plattner-etal-2009.pdf
    So not a mirror image, but aCO2 does drop, temperatures not so much, maybe this paper is no longer relevant? But if it is still relevant, then temperatures don’t drop very much.

  97. Everett F Sargent says:

    Here’s another Solomon paper showing the same feature for abrupt cutoff for CO2, CH4 and N2O …
    Persistence of climate changes due to a range of greenhouse gases
    http://www.iac.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/usys/iac/iac-dam/documents/group/climphys/knutti/publications/solomon10pnas.pdf
    Same almost plateau for temperature.

  98. Everett F Sargent says:

    Yet another for abrupt zero CO2 emissions …
    Ongoing climate change following a complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions
    https://sos.noaa.gov/_media/cms/docs/ngeo1047-aop.pdf
    Land sink continues, ocean sink drops down almost immediately, temperature plateau again.

  99. You are probably looking for a paper by Damon Matthews, if I recall correctly. Still not sure of your point though.

  100. Or maybe this write-up of this guest lecture he made at the UofT CGCS (happened to attend this, fwiw)
    http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/2013/02/how-big-is-the-climate-change-deficit/

  101. Everett F Sargent says:

    rustneversleeps,

    Your last link is, more or less, just like the three links I posted. GMST is locked in or is almost a flatline or plateau. aCO2 goes from concave up to a peak then goes concave up but the slope is now negative, that’s for a abrupt stop in CO2 emissions. Take that CO2 peak and round it off for finite time decarbonization.

    I’m not suggesting that aCO2 will drop down to PI levels, just that if emissions really do go down significantly you will see it in the aCO2 observations. I’m not waiting one second to see that happen 1st, it is just that that does tell us that emission reductions are working with respect to actual observational GHG data.

    AFAK, the only way to reduce GMST is to go through zero and then negative emissions. At least for the 1.5C target. I’m also pretty sure the 2.0C target will also need negative emissions as I’m not expecting a sudden drop in emissions starting in 2020.

  102. The requirements of getting a sudden drop in emissions any time in the next 20 years is that some fossil fuel assets will need to be retired early, probably even before their depreciation lifetimes.

  103. Chris says:

    ‘The requirements of getting a sudden drop in emissions any time in the next 20 years is that some fossil fuel assets will need to be retired early, probably even before their depreciation lifetimes.’

    That also possibly assumes that many of these fossil fuel reserves can be retired/shut off and don’t just continue as a source of GHGs into the future via leakage or fires or oxidation.

  104. Oh, oil and gas well can be shut off pretty thoroughly, as long as no one imposes a condition that they be re-startable. This involves destruction of the drilling hole with explosives.

  105. Steven Mosher says:

    People who care can always buy up all the coal and keep it in the ground.

    Nothing is stopping you.

  106. Or, preferably, donate their monies to people so they can buy wind and, especially, solar, and build it out so much that coal’s value is driven to zero. After all, buying up coal assumes it has an intrinsic value, and rewards its investors and holders. From some perspectives, it has negative value, so, if I am a capitalist and people have been foolish enough to invest in negatively valued commodities which happen to have a temporary positive value, why should I or anyone support them, the idiots?

  107. Steven Mosher says:

    as long as you are giving money away take care of coal workers.

    everyone has their pet solution.
    that ensures nothing will be done.
    its a corallary to trgedy of the commons.

  108. BBD says:

    Steven

    Proposing something that nobody is going to take seriously then arguing that because nobody takes it seriously means that *everybody* is guilt of ‘pet solutions’ that ensure that nothing will be done is unhelpful in its own right.

  109. Steven Mosher says:

    “Proposing something that nobody is going to take seriously then arguing that because nobody takes it seriously means that *everybody* is guilt of ‘pet solutions’ that ensure that nothing will be done is unhelpful in its own right.”

    Huh? the suggestion about buying all the coal is not mine. Not even close

    https://grist.org/coal/new-climate-strategy-buy-the-damn-coal-and-keep-it-in-the-ground/

    https://grist.org/climate-energy/greenpeace-wants-to-keep-coal-in-the-ground-by-buying-up-mines-and-power-plants/

    Look on this thread. Read around. You will see everyone proposing pet solutions.thats the problem.

    way Upstream in this thread you will see my approach. which is not a solution. explicitly not a solution. by design not a solution. Approach, not solution. Because there is no solution.
    There is no solution. And once you realize there is no solution, you can start to solve
    the problem

  110. BBD says:

    Huh? the suggestion about buying all the coal is not mine. Not even close

    I didn’t say it was. It’s your rhetorical approach I was commenting on.

  111. Chubbs says:

    I still favor a carbon tax, because it is simple and can be easily made uniform across countries. One positive given today’s geopolitics: with a stiff import fee on non-participants, the right block of countries could force recalcitrant countries to go along. Politically-motivated, big markets that import a lot of fossil fuels would be a good place to start recruiting: Europe, China, Japan, India etc. In any case, would like to see more emphasis on improving the trajectory than fine-tuning the target.

  112. zebra says:

    @steve mosher,

    Two points:

    1. I looked at your comment upthread and you said 1C results in 1% decrease in GDP. Why is GDP a useful metric? How do you incorporate, say, climate refugees into GDP– figure the cost of “building a wall”? What about starvation from crop failure, and so on?

    I don’t know where you live, but the various negative consequences of climate change for much of the globe do not translate readily into such a simplistic measurement. It sounds like you have a “pet metric”, perhaps?

    2. This applies to most ideas about mitigation, and relates to what I have said previously:

    Within the US, for example, you might very well apply the principle of eminent domain to arrive at a reasonable price for buying up coal or oil, where the negative externalities are taken into account. But, he says, one… more… time…..what about Russia?? Here’s some math– not sexy like “logistic curves” and other stuff, just reality-based.

    If you add up the populations of the major petro-states (ones with little else to support their economies), you can get pretty close to the 300-plus millions in the US. If you use the traditional number– that the US produces about 25% of global CO2, then those sovereign entities could make the “final 20%” people like to talk about impossible, not just difficult, to achieve.

    Can someone tell me why those governments would destroy their own economies– that’s destroy, not “reduce GDP by 1%” ?

    This question applies more broadly than just the “buying up the coal” concept, obviously.

  113. Michael 2 says:

    Chubbs says: “it is simple and can be easily made uniform across countries.”

    I have a doubt about how easy it is to do this. Perhaps you could provide an example.

  114. BBD says:

    zebra

    How does the domestic use vs export fit into the future viability of hydrocarbon states? If, for example, carbon taxes and a general increase in W&S-generated electricity elsewhere greatly reduced their collective export market, would that not force them to cease to rely on hydrocarbon extraction and export? Implicit in this is that their export markets are very significantly larger than their domestic consumption of their own products.

  115. Just saw this quote …

    No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

    (George Burns)

  116. With respect to recalcitrant states like Russia, obviously the only way to convince them to stop is by offering an alternative energy source to fossil fuels which is so cheap, there is no financial win in drilling or digging and then refining and shipping.

    There is a similar trend happening with U.S. public utilities (and presumably others elsewhere): When the cost of energy, including capital, for residential PV + storage per kWh is cheaper than the cost of transmission per kWh, then the utility has a problem, because even if it generates electricity at zero dollars, it can’t compete.

  117. BBD says:

    There is a similar trend happening with U.S. public utilities (and presumably others elsewhere): When the cost of energy, including capital, for residential PV + storage per kWh is cheaper than the cost of transmission per kWh, then the utility has a problem, because even if it generates electricity at zero dollars, it can’t compete.

    This is actually a bit worrying. Well and good in fine weather JJA but DJF, sustained cloud cover for weeks, EV(s) to charge plus house to heat, cooking, all electrical / computational appliances, lighting etc to run. What happens if you’ve managed to persuade the utility-scale generators to stop bothering with grid supply to whole towns because it became uneconomical? Mind you, domestic is about 30 – 40% of total electricity market, so maybe you’ll get lucky and the grid will stay up because of the municipal and industrial customers.

  118. zebra says:

    @hyper-g,

    “…offer an alternative which is so cheap…”

    Yes, but what exactly will they pay for it with– vodka? Really, if you think about this issue in any detail/depth, it is a very difficult problem. Corporations only have to worry about stockholders, but national governments see pitchforks and nooses.

    If you put it to a vote in Russia (I mean, even a real democratic vote), do you think the citizens will choose going back to poverty to “save the planet”?

  119. Emotion and reason are not strictly separable.

    But motivating action without a clear understanding of harm or even knowledge of net negative harm-benefit is the main offense I take with ‘the cause’.

    Solving non-problems is a waste and usually inspired by emotion, not reason.

  120. John Hartz says:

    More grist for the mill…

    Fossil fuel companies have already seen their future markets come under attack from the success of renewable energy and electric vehicle technologies. Now they face another type of threat – the remorseless logic of international climate goals.

    Energy groups risk wasting $1.6 trillion of investment by assuming that current emissions-cutting policies will not be tightened up in the light of the latest science and international climate change goals, according to the think tank Carbon Tracker.

    In a new report, Mind the gap: the $1.6 trillion energy transition risk, it warns that there is “a yawning gap” between the Paris Agreement, which pledges to keep climate change well below 2°C above pre-industrial times and aims for 1.5°C, and government policies, which are consistent with 2.7°C of warming.

    $1.6 Trillion Of Investments At Risk If Fossil Fuel Firms Fail To Heed Climate Targets by Mike Scott, Forbes, Mar 8, 2018

  121. BBD says:

    zebra

    If you put it to a vote in Russia (I mean, even a real democratic vote), do you think the citizens will choose going back to poverty to “save the planet”?

    So if this happens then it will be, as you said earlier, an existential threat to the hydrocarbon states. But perhaps not one they can really do all that much about?

  122. TE,
    One could quite easily rewrite what you say to But dismissing action without a clear understanding of harm or even knowledge of net negative harm-benefit is the main offense I take with ‘the dismissive’.

  123. with regard to how do we pay for the change required, I will simply remind folks of what Buckminster Fuller said when confronted about the cost of nationwide secondary water treatment: we can afford to do anything we have to do.

    We can afford to do anything we have to do. That is the most basic economic law on the books. The question is when will our species decide that we HAVE to do something outrageously expensive about global warming? Until the species decides collectively that the answer is now, then we will see piecemeal, ad hoc, relatively inexpensive modifications to lifestyle implemented that will probably only get us to about 20% of the reductions needed to adequately address the existential threat.

    Every day we delay increases the total cost, but that calculation will only become important when the species is near the tipping point on taking outrageously expensive responses to global warming.

    Cheers

    Mike

  124. zebra says:

    @BBD

    Hyper-g understood exactly what I said. However, I will try to re-write it as clearly as possible for you. Once.

    1. 300 million people in the US have been producing 25% of global CO2 through domestic consumption.
    2. There are close to that number of people in the various petro-states.
    3. So, it makes sense that those countries could produce an amount of CO2 which is 25% of current world production through domestic consumption, particularly if there is a super-abundance of fossil fuel available because of reduced exports.

    As an illustration, look up “gasoline prices by country”, and you will see that cheap gas is one way those population are currently rewarded by the government. Venezuela is an extreme example, but they all do it.

    This means that global reduction beyond 75-80% of current CO2 production would be impossible. This is very, very, simple math.

    Now, as to whether they can “do anything about” loss of export revenue… well, I don’t want to get into any fantastical science-fiction type speculation, but just for fun…

    1. They could engage in warfare to take over neighboring countries and gain influence in others to maintain markets for their products.
    2. They could interfere with domestic politics in other countries by hacking elections to impede the energy transition.
    3. They could employ proxy terrorists and militias to manipulate domestic politics in other countries, and to create discord among nations that might otherwise cooperate in the energy transition.

    But hey, I know I’m just letting my imagination run wild with those suggestions.

  125. BBD says:

    1. 300 million people in the US have been producing 25% of global CO2 through domestic consumption.
    2. There are close to that number of people in the various petro-states.
    3. So, it makes sense that those countries could produce an amount of CO2 which is 25% of current world production through domestic consumption, particularly if there is a super-abundance of fossil fuel available because of reduced exports.

    Well, that presupposes that the entire combined populations of all the hydrocarbon states increase their per capita energy consumption to par with the US while their economic world is collapsing around them because of a massive decline in hydrocarbon export revenues. This, I think, is moot.

    Hyper-g understood exactly what I said. However, I will try to re-write it as clearly as possible for you. Once.

    No need for that, especially as there may be issues with your analysis.

  126. @zebra,

    Oh, I did not at all mean that the abandonment of fossil fuels would be voluntary, nor would anyone force them. It’s just that, in a world where there are energy alternatives which are so much cheaper and better, why would anyone want the product? Remember the famous Prof Tony Seba twin pictures?

  127. zebra says:

    @hyper-g,

    But we’re talking about realistic timelines, and those pictures are misleading:

    From Wikipedia: “Over the course of WWII, Germany and the Soviet Union employed more than 6 million horses.”

    The question was, how long it will take to reach zero emissions, or 20% of current emissions, or whatever?

    Will zero-emissions EV replace ICE eventually? No doubt, because EV are simply better in every sense. But that “eventually” isn’t going to happen in 13 years, or even 50 years. The manufacturers (other than Tesla) are hedging and obfuscating. They talk about “electrification” of their fleets, but they are talking about things like 48V systems.

    Look at the actual numbers projected and tell me again how it gets to zero emissions in a few decades, which is what people keep talking about. And of course, this also applies to renewables penetration– are distributed renewables just better? Of course, and they are the inevitable future, “eventually”. Not in 30 or 40 years.

    Market forces only work when there is an actual free market (traditional definition), and for obvious reasons, that doesn’t exist. So, what is a realistic timeline? I say the median value of the curve is going to be about 150 years out under current realities.

  128. Greg Robie says:

    See link to carbon credit based currency here: https://opentoinfo-1.simvoly.com/opentoinfo-links-webpage. Greed and need, to the degree rational behavior has social and psychological value, cannot be systemically oppositional as they currently are. The change in motivated reasoning and privileged homeostasis required to align greed and need is religious-like in nature. The imagined delusions of secular thinking have no agency within the constraints defined by physics. We are [yet] living proof of the tragedy that seems to be the trusted story we devote our living to: all human civilization fail. CapitalismFail is the first one a pious privileged has managed to make a global event under the mastery of GREED-as-go[]d. Systemically, freedom (& wealth) are the right to be responsible. Orwellian-like we feel these are a right to be irresponsible./!/? … and then there’s physics.

    Begin the conversation about an economic boycott the US regarding our failure to exercise our Constitutional agency. Examine how UK law could be changed to free its citizens from #BanksRule. Use the case of Juliana versus United States, which just cleared another quashing effort by a second US President, to broaden the conversation. As this case goes to trial, expand the social framework within which legal principles will be argued. Feed into it in a way that could make them be more inclusive of reason and science. Start with your institutions of learning/employment.

  129. @zebra,

    As I have repeatedly said here and elsewhere, it doesn’t: All I intended to mean was that fossil fuels and utilities as presently configured are “Dead! Dead! Dead!” (Scalia) and suggesting along with Seba that the transition could be much faster than most imagine, certainly the incumbents.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea but I’ve never seen an estimate done for time to transition to, say, 10% of present day emissions for a steep US$300 per tonne globally enforced Carbon Tax. Indeed, it is so late and the +2C target so ambitious that the only way of getting there is by broadscale gov’t prohibition and confiscation and sequestration of supplies and wells. Prohibition doesn’t work.

    So if carrots aren’t fast enough better learn to do and love negative emissions, as Prof Wally Broecker says. Right now, we need to reduce their overall costs including storage by about 500X.

  130. Steven Mosher says:

    “1. I looked at your comment upthread and you said 1C results in 1% decrease in GDP. Why is GDP a useful metric? How do you incorporate, say, climate refugees into GDP– figure the cost of “building a wall”? What about starvation from crop failure, and so on?

    I don’t know where you live, but the various negative consequences of climate change for much of the globe do not translate readily into such a simplistic measurement. It sounds like you have a “pet metric”, perhaps?”

    Err no. I think I said ( or should have said) I see this 1% GDP per metric a bunch of times.
    Nevertheless, lets go with it.

    Why is it a useful metric? People use it. People understand it. Its easy to calculate.
    It can be transparent. There is relatively good agreement on what goes into it.
    Is it perfect? FFS no. is ECS perfect? TCR? OHC? is amy metric perfect?
    When you have a high dimensional system NO METRIC will give you everything you
    need.

    Want to add a metric? fine.. add one.

    I live in Beijing and seoul. Not sure where I live has to do with your arguments by assertion
    about the negative consequences.

    We have what we can measure. We have what we can predict. We all recognize that there are things that are real ( suffering) that cannot be measured and cannot be precisely predicted.
    nevertheless, since we have a real job in the real world, we do the best we can with the metrics and measures we have, FULLY AWARE of the fact that we will not be perfect. But we dont allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I can well imagine that over time people will add other metrics and other considerations.

    This whole conversation strikes me like a group of very smart very compasionate well meaning folks lost in the middle of the jungle. And they sit there every day dicussing how they will find
    their way out of the jungle with no map and very little food. One guy suggests building a helicopter.
    Another suggests, building a 4 wheeler. A third discusses that the jungle aint so bad if we can just find food. Another says “assume there is a river, to the north”

  131. Michael 2 says:

    smallbluemike admiring Buckminster Fuller writes “We can afford to do anything we have to do.”

    There is no “we” and I doubt that Mr Fuller is the authority that you seem to believe. If we have to stop an asteroid that is on collision course with Earth, can we afford it? Probably not. I cannot afford it. Can you? If you cannot, then who can?

  132. izen says:

    It is interesting to see the various assessments of how much cumulative CO2 we have left to emit to stay within (arbitrary) limits.

    There are numerous experts that project different scenarios and methods for how to meet whatever limit is set. Opinions differ on how easy, or hard, making a transition to near zero emissions will be.

    One set of experts are rarely heard from; or much considered when they do speak. While their credibility is undermined by a strong economic bias, they have a proven track record, and the financial power (and political influence) to enable their projections to match closely to future reality.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/shell-fossil-fuels-oil-future-renewable-energy-heavy-industry-power-a8247106.html

    “Heavy industry relies on hydrocarbons to generate extremely high temperatures and chemical reactions,… Many processes used in iron, steel, cement and plastics factories can’t be electrified at all, and even if they could be, cannot be done at a viable cost in the foreseeable future, … Oil continues to play a fundamental role in today’s world, and global demand will continue to rise before a slight decline in the late 2030s, when peak consumption may occur, “

  133. Greg Robie says:

    Today I will act in concert with others and manifest the delusion that we shifted the sun’s position in the sky by 15°. Due to this social convention of daylight savings time, everything else that is alive will be aware that we have shifted when we do what we busy ourselves with as we continue to destroy this home. How can the high carbon emitters of such a gullible species not delude themselves; not manifest hubris?

  134. Dave_Geologist says:

    hypergeometric says:
    Oh, oil and gas well can be shut off pretty thoroughly, as long as no one imposes a condition that they be re-startable. This involves destruction of the drilling hole with explosives.

    Please no. That’s an excellent way to promote a leak that’s hard to fix. And if you do it shallow, it’s cheap and easy to drill a relief or production-restoration well that taps into the casing below the blast damage.

    The only answer is cement, cement and more cement (which confusingly, is actually concrete). There’s a reason why regulatory authorities place massive hurdles in the way of using any sort of metal or polymer, however clever, as a well abandonment barrier. Metal corrodes, polymers degrade.

    Actually, naturally squeezing shales or salt can also be accepted as a barrier, but you need good analogue data and in-well tests to get it accepted.

    I know it’s a bit argument-from-authority, but my previous roles have included pore pressure/zonal isolation/well integrity specialist 😉

  135. @izen,

    I dont buy it. Aluminum smelting is done entirely with electricity.

  136. Cool. Always willing to learn. But, what is the size of CO2 emissions feom this cement?

  137. BBD says:

    I know it’s a bit argument-from-authority, but my previous roles have included pore pressure/zonal isolation/well integrity specialist 😉

    Expert knowledge isn’t argument from authority (in the sense of logical fallacy). So please, keep it coming…

  138. Dave_Geologist says:

    Negligible. Say four 60m plugs, a quarter to a half metre diameter, plus hundreds of metres in a 2-5cm annulus (most of the annular cement is already there, so mostly remediation and better-safe-than-sorry). A few hundred tons per well, more than enough to build a driveway but not enough to build an apartment block or the road leading to it.

    The multiple cements part of the comment was not meant to mean just keep pouring it in until it overflows. Rather, putting well designed plugs in strategic locations. Three independent barriers is generally the minimum. That’s much more secure than one long barrier which may have a systemic flaw which spreads from bottom to top.

  139. JCH says:

    Yes, the financial insult of a dry hole is followed with a “sympathy” invoice to pay for all the concrete required to satisfy the Texas Railroad Commission.

  140. BBD says:

    @ Steven

    Why is it [GDP] a useful metric?

    Given the long, shaky chain of assumptions on which it rests, it probably isn’t.

    But ‘1%’ is a nice, small number which does give it rhetorical applications.

  141. Michael 2 says:

    Greg Robie asks “Today I will act in concert with others and manifest the delusion that we shifted the sun’s position in the sky by 15°.”
    So what? I do that every hour of the day!
    “How can the high carbon emitters of such a gullible species not delude themselves; not manifest hubris?”
    Clearly, they cannot, for this is a distinction made in the eye of the beholder, namely you. It is unlikely that anything Hubrists can do will change your judgment of people you have not met.
    I wonder if you might be the one that can describe the day when “carbon dioxide” simply became “carbon”, as if you or I were walking around leaving a trail of black soot on the ground?

  142. Dave_Geologist says:

    Expert knowledge isn’t argument from authority (in the sense of logical fallacy). So please, keep it coming.

    Hence the smiley 😉

    But a fair comment would be that I’m anonymous so can’t prove my authority, so it”s still wise to check it out. If you google the UK guidelines you’ll find them, and a puff piece, but it’s a £100 purchase. Or google well abandoment guidelines or regulations. Here’s a summary of the Indian ones Guidelines for Well Abandonment. They look fairly standard. Most companies will have detailed internal practices and a set of rules/training/competency assessments to say who does what in the design and implementation, and who has the authority to resolve any dispute.

    Which reminded me, the 60m was for a non-reservoir zone, there it would be 60m plus the length of reservoir exposed in the well. For a long horizontal well you would generally not plug the whole length of the reservoir section, but cut and pull a section of production casing and set a plug at the proximal end of the reservoir section. Not necessarily to save money, but because it’s hard to get good cement integrity all the way down a long horizontal hole. Better to put in a short plug where you’ve much better able to assure its integrity.

    In general what you’re trying to prevent (and are often legally required to prevent) is

    Leakage up the well (obvious I hope).

    Cross-flow between hydrocarbon-bearing zones (including non-producing shallow or biogenic gas) and any aquifer.

    Cross-flow between a saline aquifer and a fresh-water aquifer.

    Cross-flow between oil or gas reservoirs in different pressure regimes, or aquifers in different pressure regimes. Those may be permitted if you can demonstrate that there is no associated risk, for example of the higher-pressure zone pressurising the lower-pressure zone to the point that it may breach its natural containment, or threaten the integrity of wells which were designed to only withstand the original, lower pressure.

    There may be other local considerations. For example, if you’ve used a tertiary recovery method (fancy chemicals) you may need to isolate them from other parts of the same reservoir where they’d have unwanted consequences, or if you’ve got an old producing zone being used for wastewater disposal, you may need to isolate it from other zones in the same reservoir not used for disposal.

  143. Dave_Geologist says:

    I wonder if you might be the one that can describe the day when “carbon dioxide” simply became “carbon”, as if you or I were walking around leaving a trail of black soot on the ground?

    I don’t think it ever did. As I understand it, it’s a CO2 tax, but as it’s impractical and expensive to measure the CO2 as it’s emitted, a pragmatic solution is to tax the fuel as it’s produced, sold or burned. As pretty much all the carbon in the fuel will end up as CO2, and we have a pretty good idea of how much there is in each fuel, or if not can easily and cheaply analyse a sample, you don’t have to directly measure the emissions. Just how many tons, barrels or cubic feet you burned.

    I’m surprised you didn’t know that. The first hit on a google search gives an excellent explanation. Perhaps you’ve been confused by the mention of peoples’ or countries’ carbon footprints? They’re not actual black sooty footprints. It’s a metaphor.

  144. @Dave_Geologist,

    Excellent. Thanks.

    Question: What would it take to convert any such wells to hold CO2 in some kind of bound form? Sure, if it was solid, almost nothing, but I don’t know what the engineers who work CO2 sequestration think about when they do this. There is an international conference scheduled for this in May. I have contributed to Prof Klaus Lackner’s Center at ASU.

  145. As pretty much all the carbon in the fuel will end up as CO2, and we have a pretty good idea of how much there is in each fuel, or if not can easily and cheaply analyse a sample, you don’t have to directly measure the emissions. Just how many tons, barrels or cubic feet you burned.

    Well, that’s not all. The emissions from production are less constrained, given the apparent difficulty producers have wrapping numbers around all CO2e emissions, per Rice, Butenhoff, et al (2016).

  146. BBD says:

    And when in doubt, there’s always good old atmospheric sampling:

    410ppm already? Goodness me.

  147. Actually, that’s not complete. Also useful to know how much, e.g, CH4 there is which will inevitably become CO2. By counting CO2e, the current concentration is 490 ppm. Also, knowing that depends upon why you want to know it. There’s another number if, say, one is interested in drawing out the CO2 from the climate system.

  148. Dave_Geologist says:

    What would it take to convert any such wells to hold CO2 in some kind of bound form?

    Depends, if you mean dry ice, too hot ;-). If you’re referring to the basalt experiments, most O&G reservoirs are made of quartz and calcite. Reaction times are too slow with quartz, calcite would be risky I think. You’d risk solution mining and reservoir integrity issues.

    The well stock is generally the riskiest part of the disposal site. Per my cement comments. Positively designed to speed flow to surface. So you have a conundrum – abandon them all then you can’t monitor or intervene in the reservoir, leave them in and they’re an accident waiting to happen. And even cement is held together by calcium carbonate.

    Gas has the pressurisation problem, plus it rises to the top where seal integrity is weakest. I like supercritical CO2. I did some work as a reviewer on a potential disposal project of that kind. Pick the right reservoir and the CO2 is denser than brine. And as it’s low viscosity it quickly washes down to the bottom of the reservoir so you can afford to wait for the slow reaction with quartz (although any feldspar present will react much faster). It does limit you to higher P,T reservoirs, which makes everything more expensive. But it doesn’t have to be formal HPHT. One surprising issue is that there is little laboratory data under those conditions. Yes there’s a pure CO2 phase diagram, but we’re interested in the behaviour of engineered materials in contact with CO2 over long timeframes. Supercritical CO2 is used a lot in the chemical and food processing industries, but the usage tends to be HPLT or LPHT, not HPH (L being relative, obviously, as we’re above the critical point).

    The wells are still an issue. Even if they were engineered for a sour-gas field, the metallurgy is specified for field life plus 10-15 years, field life plus 50%, or whatever. The assumption is all the metal would be pulled or isolated before it turned into chicken wire. So they may not even have a long enough life for a commercial injection period. At minimum you’d have to replace all the production casing/tubing first.

  149. Dave_Geologist says:

    Actually I’d need to check the denser than brine bit. Certainly denser than the oil, but it might pond at the oil-water contact.

  150. Dave_Geologist says:

    Well, that’s not all. The emissions from production are less constrained, given the apparent difficulty producers have wrapping numbers around all CO2e emissions

    True, although that probably depends on where you are. I know fracking and general onshore gas wells in the US have been controversial. But that’s almost a worst-case scenario. Lots of mom-and-pop operations run on a shoestring, old infrastructure, methane emissions from the huge agricultural sector, the best unconventional reservoirs are those which are actively generating O&G today, so there’s bound to be an unquantifiable natural leakage, and a frontier attitude that if you don’t see it is somebody else’s problem. And look how big that landscape is, it can take it 😉

    The modern fracked sites should be more measurable, as they tend to be centralised pads. Isolated offshore installations in the North Sea, where natural emissions disperse or dissolve in the sea, more so. Most/all large quoted companies quote their own estimates in their annual reports, and also work to minimise operational fuel consumption, another hidden emission. My experience from inside was that it was done in good faith, and I know of one example where my employer went beyond UK rules for condensate in water disposed to sea because our global rules were tighter (UK has since caught up). You are of course free to believe it’s all fake; I’m free to believe you’re wrong 😉

  151. BBD says:

    Actually, that’s not complete. Also useful to know how much, e.g, CH4 there is which will inevitably become CO2. By counting CO2e, the current concentration is 490 ppm.

    Yes, I know, that’s why it says carbon dioxide concentration at Mauna Loa observatory on the graph. Of course CH4 (and CFCs) need to be taken into account to estimate the real-world GHG radiative forcing and calculate a CO2e figure.

  152. Everett F Sargent says:

    SM sez…
    RE: GDP as a useful metric

    “Why is it a useful metric? People use it. People understand it. Its easy to calculate.” …

    should read …
    Why is it a useful metric? Some people use it. Few people actually understand it. Its not as easy to calculate as some people think.

    I prefer per capita CO2 emissions … EDGAR v4.3.2 …
    http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2andGHG1970-2016

    Divide this …
    http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/booklet2017/EDGARv432_FT2016_CO2_total_emissions_1970-2016.csv
    by this …
    http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/booklet2017/EDGARv432_FT2016_CO2_per_capita_emissions_1970-2016.csv
    to get population per country/area/world

    Divide this …
    http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/booklet2017/EDGARv432_FT2016_CO2_per_GDP_emissions_1970-2016.csv
    by population per above to get CO2 per GDP emissions per capita by country in ton CO2 / 1000USD GDP / year / person.

    Now, I also need the population distro by country of either CO2 emissions (e. g. a proxy for per capita energy usage) or GDP (e. g. income distro as a proxy for per capita GDP) …
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_domestic_product

    “Nominal GDP per capita does not, however, reflect differences in the cost of living and the inflation rates of the countries; therefore using a basis of GDP per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) is arguably more useful when comparing differences in living standards between different nations.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

    Heck, IANAE, but at least I understand that GDP alone as a metric is rather useless, since you want to know stuff like are things improving for all countries people (somehow I think the Gini coefficient might have some utility, but what would I know as IANAE).

    Somehow, on these internets people should NOT be allowed to make hasty generalizations as that is a form of an informal logical fallacy …
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasty_generalization

  153. My understanding is that fugitive CH4 emissions aren’t only from fracking or natural gas extraction, but methane that gets away from oil wells and other sources. (Yes, I know they flare, but that’s another CO2 source and they don’t get everything.)

    Sure, agriculture is another big source. People look at beef production, but rice and soy also are emitters. That’s another pile to be dealt with, in some ways more difficult, but that it exists does not mean the fugitive from fossil production should be ignored.

    Also, there’s the scary farth north tundra scenarios which are likely to trigger if we get north of +2C. The terrifying prospect is:

    <blockquoteThe study calculated that as thawing continues, by the year 2300, total carbon emissions from this region will be 10 times as much as all human-produced fossil fuel emissions in 2016.

    Until those were examined, people focussed on tundra more south, failing to realize that the northernmost Arctic region is warming faster than places farther south.

  154. angech says:

    “hypergeometric says: What would it take to convert any such wells to hold CO2 in some kind of bound form? Sure, if it was solid, almost nothing, but I don’t know what the engineers who work CO2 sequestration think about when they do this.”

    Intrigued at the thinking that goes into this as well. There is no such thing as a free lunch (except a free lunch I guess)
    Using fossil fuels implies expansion from a solid or liquid to a gaseous form in most instances. There is a release of energy accompanying and a larger volume of substance which needs more energy to compress it or transport it to and into a storage site. A bit like Mickey Mouse as a sorcerer’s apprentice.
    The practical answer is to not burn it in the first place.
    Having burnt it the answer is to let nature take its cause in removing it.
    Coal and oil are natural vegetable products after all.
    I admire the innovative thinking and ideas, just regret the logic going down this path in the first place.

  155. Michael 2 says:

    Dave_Geologist “a pragmatic solution is to tax the fuel as it’s produced, sold or burned.”

    Indeed. Thomas More’ talks about it (*) in his book “Utopia”. Identify things that people use or need and issue licenses to permit people to use or do that thing; and fines and penalties for people that didn’t buy the licenses. In this manner two goals are achieved; to suppress a thing a leader believes is bad (but popular) and at the same time obtain revenue. Tobacco tax comes to mind.

    * “A fourth proposes the prohibiting of many things under severe penalties, especially such as were against the interest of the people, and then the dispensing with these prohibitions, upon great compositions, to those who might find their advantage in breaking them. This would serve two ends, both of them acceptable to many; for as those whose avarice led them to transgress would be severely fined, so the selling licences dear would look as if a prince were tender of his people, and would not easily, or at low rates, dispense with anything that might be against the public good.”

  156. @angech,

    Having burnt it the answer is to let nature take its cause in removing it.
    Coal and oil are natural vegetable products after all. I admire the innovative thinking and ideas, just regret the logic going down this path in the first place.

    Letting Nature take its course means waiting 1000+ years for CO2 concentrations to get back to safe range, assuming we don’t stop until the 22nd century, and assuming we burn, as many here have suggested, all discovered fossil fuel reserves. While I don’t like that, studying the problem has convinced me that the economic and social inertia to get the world off of fossil fuels isn’t going to happen soon enough.

    Accordingly, the place to put innovation and thought is how to clean up the mess. Ergo, capture and such. I recently did a talk about this, although it did not have the benefit of including discussing of fertilizing plants with basalt (although I do not know the life cycle energy costs of that), and I think, along with Stewart Brand and Wally Broecker, and Klaus Lackner that this is where we need to go.

    Of course, as mentioned above, it could be we have more urgency, because we might not be able to fix this even with negative emissions technology, because of certain complications.

  157. This is not in response to anyone. However, I think it pertinent. It is an analysis of humankind as a spec under the microscope, something which, if you are an engineer, can never forget if you want the system you are charged to make successful, be successful.

    This is one of Tony Seba’s latest talk, reproduced below:

    This is the modern day version of Joseph Schumpeter, of who I have become a modern discipline, as well as one of the late Hermann Scheer. Basically, fossil fuels are dead. Conventionally configured energy utilities are dead.

    But this does not stop. To the degree to which clever thinking can seize upon aspects of negative emissions technology, and link it to a profit model, I think disruption will continue. I can imagine a set of entrepreneurs and bankers and investors who, on their own, develop a competitive negative emissions technology, and they hold the world in balance for The Deal Of The Ten Millennia. They’ll win, because the Powers, whoever they are, cannot force such an enterprise to involuntarily do what they want them to do. (It doesn’t work. They can sabotage it without anyone knowing. Without disciples, it can’t keep working the 2 centuries they need it to work.) Accordingly, in my view, Schumpeter rules: The future is the realm of Technologists, like it or not. What is this democracy thing?

    And Professor Seba, in the talk, suggests the basis for a new currency: Data. If data itself is so valuable, like Gold in its day, why not make some standard datum the basis for an economy? A Bitcoin computation perhaps?

  158. angech says:

    Innovation and thought.
    How would I do it?
    Face the facts.
    People will use the cheapest most reliable obtainable and usable form of fuel available.
    There are too many people in the world by some standards.
    Fuel is too cheap today.
    Put up the price of fuel though and people will eventually get angry.
    Angry people are difficult to reason with.
    I do not think that taxing people til it hurts, the only way to be effective, is a great strategy.
    Nor is using buckets more of cheap fuel to put the side effects of cheap fuel underground.

  159. Dave_Geologist says:

    Back again – since it’s relevant to the solutions part of the topic, I’ll add a few more musings on sequestration. With an I-am-not-an-expert disclaimer, as this is stuff I worked on 10-15 years ago as a reviewer and consultant. But not ignorant either, as there’s a good reason I was tapped for those roles, and I’ve maintained an interest since.

    First, my caveat was true. Virtually any CO2 sequestrated geologically is going to be supercritical. I’d lazily assumed that because time-lapse seismic images showed shallow disposal sites like Sleipner showed the CO2 spreading outwards and upwards like a gas, that it was a gas. It isn’t, it’s a lighter-than water supercritical fluid.

    To get it denser than brine you’d need a very low geothermal gradient, somewhere a large pile of recent sediments has been dumped quickly. Perhaps a major delta like the Mississippi or the Niger, or the Himalayan foredeep. But not on a young continental margin or an extensional intracontinental basin, because lithospheric thinning and advection of heat by rising asthenosphere more than counteracts the cold, wet sediments, except very shallow where the shales will not be compacted enough to provide a competent seal.

  160. Dave_Geologist says:

    (Splitting into bite-sized chunks.)

    I still like the idea of putting it at the bottom of a depleted oil or gas field. I did a few specimen calculations using this, and the only way to get it less dense than oil is to assume a very heavy, biodegraded oil. Which pretty much by definition means the biosphere has got at it, so it’s not well sealed from the environment and is risky for long-term disposal. In my view (non-expert in this case, but you’ll also have to persuade non-expert public and politicians and won’t get away with keeping it among technocrats), the longer you can keep the new corrosive fluid away from the existing topseal and any remaining well infrastructure the better. As a precautionary principle even if your calculations say it will be OK.

    The other advantage of a depleted field is that you can set an additional precaution, that you wan’t take the field above its initial reservoir pressure but will stop pumping before that.

    This paper models CO2 and gas as a stable layer and as side-by-side columns. After 100 years the first case still has low CO2 saturation at the topseal. In the second case the CO2 spreads and mixes within 5 years, but sticks at about 50% saturation near the top of the reservoir. This paper was a code comparison, in a real case you’d obviously run it much longer.

    So rather then drilling a vertical well and perforating the reservoir top to bottom (low cost, high disposal-rate), I’d spend a bit more money and inject from a horizontal well tracking the oil-water or gas-water contact.

  161. Dave_Geologist says:

    And now a couple of thoughts on lessons learned from the experience 10-15 years ago.

    1) Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This applies particularly to public, politicians and NGOs.

    If you make it too hard/expensive/risky, the people with the money and expertise (multinational and state oil companies) won’t do it. If your not-so-hidden objective is to squeeze them until they bleed or go under and punish the shareholders for their evul wayz, then government, i.e. taxes, will be the default funder. There isn’t a magic money tree out there waiting to be harvested. Big Oil makes big profits because they’re big companies with big spends and big employee and equipment counts. Their rate of return on investment is derisory by tech standards and not much better than that of a supermarket chain.

    I’ve been in meetings where the government lawyers were asking how they could punish us if it leaked in 100 years time, whether an escrow account was needed to pay for fines/cleanup in case we’d gone bust, whether the fine should be ten times or a hundred times the tax concession we’d been given and whether it should be scaled to the amount of leakage or applied as a one-strike-and-you’re-out rule. Needless to say, the reaction of our lawyers was “we’re outta here”. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but to this observer represented the attitude of some on both sides.

    Operationally, if you insist on a time-lapse seismic survey every couple of years forever, it’s a non-starter. Even though the distant future is discounted to almost nothing, executives are not slaves to NPV and know that it will have to be paid for in dollars-of-the-day, and won’t want to shackle their future company to an enormous ongoing commitment that will dwarf their future profits. You need to settle for a sea-bed array, shoots once a year for the first couple of years, two- or three-yearly shoots during pumping operations, then maybe three more shoots at increasing intervals to be satisfied that the situation is stable. Then say “job done”.

    Is that betraying future generations? Not to me but YMMV.

    To me, “continue BAU and let our grandchildren sort it out – oh and BTW, even if they invent special unicorns, there’s a lot of damage built in already” is immoral.

    “Stick it underground for at least 1000 years, even if it’s slightly leaky and 1% or 5% is lost; if it’s all come back out in ten thousand years, well by then we’ll be into the realm of natural sequestration, the 21st Century splurge will be gone, and actually the emission rate will be in the realm of natural climate change” is not.

    Obviously that doesn’t apply if we continue BAU for centuries. But on the basis that we will go to zero or negative emissions by next century, it’s a way to get us over the hump while we transition.

  162. Dave_Geologist says:

    2) What could companies interested in sequestration do better?

    Here I’m thinking from the public good viewpoint. On rehearsing this post, I realised that the waste that used to bug me was probably not actually a financial issue for my employer. Essentially, it was that the department dealing with it was staffed by lawyers and economists and MBA-type blue-sky-thinkers, and they spent too long working up a case with obvious flaws before getting an engineer of geologist in. (S)he immediately pointed out the flaw and they went back round the cycle for another six months. In fairness, they subsequently brought a geologist/geochemist into their core team. Hopefully an engineer or two as well. Maybe the review comments sunk in.

    On reflection, to a company that spends tens of billions each year on projects, a few months of wasted desk study is chicken-feed. But delays add up, and if that’s a pattern across the board we’re progressing years slower than we could.

    I also think it would be worth lobbying to avoid problem (1), but appreciate that is hard because anything that looks like giving oil companies an easy ride will cause a public outcry. At minimum they should be making clear what is and isn’t doable in practice. Probably they are already, in which case I’m left feeling pessimistic.

    Timescale is also important if you’re going to re-use existing O&G infrastructure. There is a fairly short window between end-of-field-life and abandonment, driven by the desire to stop maintenance, decay of facilities just because nobody’s there to notice, need to abandon existing wells while the platform still has integrity, and corrosion risks to wells and pipes from injection water or water-of-condensation when they lie for years at outside air temperature, as opposed to the regular heating they got in service. Plus another branch of government is on your case to get the wells abandoned, with per-year and time-since-shutdown targets. If it takes five or ten years to negotiate the deal, you’ll probably find the site has been razed before you get to the finish-post.

    So we need to have templates available for conversion to a sequestration site, just as there are for field development plans and abandonment plans. That’s a job for the industry groups (UKOOA/O&GUK) and government. Hopefully something is happening, but if so I haven’t seen much in the way of public info.

  163. Dave_Geologist says:

    @Hyper

    My understanding is that fugitive CH4 emissions aren’t only from fracking or natural gas extraction, but methane that gets away from oil wells and other sources. (Yes, I know they flare, but that’s another CO2 source and they don’t get everything.)

    I would include leakage from wellheads, pipes and pumps as fugitives. Indeed they far outweigh those from actual fracking operations, because they last for decades not hours. Same with waste water. A fracked well will produce orders of magnitude more formation water over its life than it back-flowed fracking fluid. And the waste-water may very well be nastier than the fracking fluids, which are engineered to a compromise between efficacy and practicality. It has to tankered, handled and pumped as well as disposed of, and doing that in special suits costs money as well as frightening the locals. I’ve seen old well reports where starch from a food-processing plant was used as the thickening agent. Cheap, readily available, doesn’t require lots of form-filling. I genuinely do think the secrecy is mostly about trade secrets and a bit of hype (my secret sauce is better than their secret sauce), not because the’re using nasty chemicals. Whereas there are North Sea fields where you need a special permit, equipment and decontamination procedures to access certain tanks and pipework, because the natural formation water deposits radioactive scale.

    Mother Nature cares a lot less about us than we do about ourselves.

    Flaring is generally reported in company documents, and is frowned upon by regulators as well as being a waste of saleable product. In the UK you need to apply for special permission to flare, other than in an emergency.

  164. Dave_Geologist says:

    Back to sequestration. Where would I do it (North Sea focused).

    3) Southern North Sea

    This has attracted a lot of attention over the decades (which shows how long we’ve been not doing sequestration!). Advantages include a ductile salt topseal (resistant even to fault activity where it’s more than 100-200m thick), long production history (since the 1960’s), 3D seismic everywhere, good quality reservoir (at least for gas and I presume for a supercritical fluid) and an inactive aquifer (so the gas-water contact stays in the same place and doesn’t rise, and the trap volume and low abandonment pressure aren’t reduced and increased respectively by water encroachment). And of course proximity to hundreds of millions of wealthy consumers burning carbon, with governments committed to Paris targets.

    A faux advantage includes lots of old unused pipelines and wells, which looks attractive until you investigate more closely and realise they’ll have to be decommissioned or at least heavily worked over. Maybe that explains some of the initial excitement, per (2).

    It even has some natural CO2-rich fields such as Fizzy (even oil companies have a sense of humour ;-)), so we know the topseal holds over millions of years, even with gas containing about 50% CO2. I have to declare an interest in that one. I was at someone’s leaving do when an attendee’s phone rang (or in those days it may have been pager-and-phone-back). The message from the rig was “Boss! Something’s wrong! The flare won’t light”.

    There are actually a lot more CO2-rich accumulations there which Underhill et al. appear unaware of, probably all volcanic sourced as it’s on the northern end of the Rhine Graben rift/volcanic system (above a rather puny mantle plume). A quick trawl of field databases gives the impression CO2 tops out at 10%, but that’s just because that’s the highest CO2 content that can be commercially cleaned up using amine extraction (at least offshore).

    It looks from the OSTI paper I linked to above that it settles out at about 50% CO2. They used equal quantities of each though. Since the CO2 can’t displace the lighter gas if it arrived second but must diffuse, it would be interesting to see a database of mixed CO2/CH4 fields. Is there an equilibrium composition it tends to for thermodynamic reasons? I see from the OSTI paper that there’s an excess volume of mixing, so maybe there’s a minimum density somewhere and you could say that if you inject at the bottom, the top will never get above x% CO2.

    A disadvantage of SNS is that a number of fields show evidence of critically stressed faults which might be easily reactivated, or which may show unpredictable hysteresis on depletion/repressurisation. But that’s where the ductile topseal comes in. There are one or two fields which have been cycled for gas storage, which at least provides some benchmarks.

  165. Dave_Geologist says:

    4) Central North Sea

    Attractive because of location, infrastructure and decades of waste-water, drill-cuttings and CO2 injection (Sleipner). Some of which have gone bang, but on the bright side, you have to break something to learn precisely how strong it is.

    Because waste injection has all been in support of operating fields, injection is into shallower aquifers. Which has the disadvantage of raising the pressure above original, plus the CO2 buoyancy issue. One off-the-cuff idea would be to use shallow aquifers to start with, to leverage the existing integrity data, with careful monitoring and as a stop-gap. Then go into deeper, depressurised fields and inject below the residual oil or gas column for long-term storage, where you can’t rely on monitoring and intervention being kept up.

    A number of the waste injection failures would have been prevented by proper monitoring. Although Tordis appears to be due to injecting into a small tank which they thought was a big tank, these shallow reservoirs show very fast pressure responses, and the pressure buildup must have been detectable on instruments. It just wasn’t responded to. IIRC the NPD link I gave has a different interpretation to the field operator and the Norwegian health and safety agency. I remember looking into it at the time and agreeing with NPD. So not only had the engineers got into trouble by assuming the wrong geology, they refused to accept the geologists’ explanation and still don’t have a proper understanding of what went wrong.

    This area also has an under-appreciated number of critically stressed faults and has background seismic activity, particularly on the Viking Graben and other major tectonic faults (regular magnitude 3s and 4s). They typically have deep (10-25km) hypocentres, so are lower-crustal and not oil-production related. IIRC there have been a couple of shallow ones attributed to injection, including a 5 in Ekofisk field. That was a special case, as a casing breach allowed injection designed for a deeper, stronger formation to get into a weak, low-storage shallow formation – the worst of all possible worlds. A number of fields also show evidence of critical stress away from the bounding faults (some leak-off tests sit on the frictional-failure fracture gradient, some faults appear to have been reactivated and acted as conduits during water injection). There are some old publications attributing it to NW-SE maximum horizontal stress activating N-S faults in strike-slip. But they’re not vertical faults, which makes strike-slip reactivation harder, and the earthquake first-motions show normal faulting, so it’s more complicated than that.

    There was a fuss a few years ago about this Seabed scars raise questions over carbon-storage plan. I did track down the sonar image, and it was clearly a natural set of normal and transfer faults, aligned consistently with subsurface stress observations in the surrounding fields. So my reaction was “Meh, business-as-usual”. This area is host to hundreds of oil and gas accumulations, with little leakage of hydrocarbons to surface despite a long history of seismic activity. If it didn’t break prior to humans arriving, it won’t break subsequently – apart from locally where we’ve changed something.

  166. @Dave_Geologist,

    Thanks for all your postings on sequestration, @Dave_Geologist. Very useful and interesting.

    It is, from my experience, as yet difficult to get even those most concerned climate change impacts and mitigation interested in discussions of negative emissions technology. I also have repeatedly ranted that the idea of confounding corporations and allied interests (think Heartland) who have exhibited bad social behavior (“Merchants of Doubt”, BP actions against WHOI on the Gulf Oil spill, etc) on climate with all other corporations is a big, big mistake. My personal view is that government, at all scales, is demonstrating itself to be inept at dealing with these kinds of issues and matters, both because their technical nature and their scale. Accordingly, the only organizations, in my view, capable of dealing with these issues are corporations.

    Moreover, dealing with matters like sequestration takes technical know-how, and work and advice from people who know does not come for free. A big side issue on negative emissions is how to pay for and incentivize the entire project. I don’t think anyone has really thought deeply about that, not at least as recorded in the public record.

    Even at the international level, per UNFCCC, there’s a reluctance to state and underscore that we cannot keep to +2C without negative emissions apparatus. This is one of the points which frustrates Prof Kevin Anderson so, and I don’t blame him. I also think the public optimism from UNFCCC and Al Gore on this is highly misplaced.

    That said, while people have come to depend upon fossil fuels as products, there is a legal tradition of product producer responsibility for products which, after the fact, have shown to cause harm. Don’t think there’s any getting away from that.

  167. Dave_Geologist says:

    Oh, and I’m not too worried about the methane coming up the crack. There’s biogenic gas everywhere in the Central North Sea. As an operations geologist once told me, “sticking a well into the shallow overburden is like poking a stick into a stagnant pond – bubbles come out”. Until a ridge across the English Channel was breached about half a million years ago, the Rhine and Thames merged and flowed north towards the Norwegian Sea. Half of the sediment eroded from northern Europe, together with its organic matter, was dumped into the Central North Sea.

  168. Dave_Geologist says:

    One more post – glad someone is reading it Hyper, and actually I’ve found it interesting to catch up for my own knowledge. I agree there’s not enough serious attention given to negative emissions. Pilot projects tend to be aimed at cleaning up sales gas or building a carbon-neutral power station. To really make a dent you not only have to build out disposal, which won’t often be where production or generation is sited, but the infrastructure to get it there. The O&G industry talks about it at trade-organisation level (we know how to gather stuff far from markets and transport it to markets, we can easily turn that round to gathering stuff far from disposal sites and transporting it for disposal). But I don’t see much recognition of what that means. It will be like Keystone XL squared. What, you want to pipe New York’s waste through my sleepy village, and industrialise a beautiful forest to bury it?

  169. Dave_Geologist says:

    5) A fun one – actual solid CO2! Clathrates. I came across this by accident, but people are thinking about it and publishing on it!

    A 2004 IEA study.

    From that and some other snippets I found:

    a) Supercritical CO2 is denser than deep sea water and will pond at the bottom. Costly to get it there though. However over time it will dissolve/diffuse unless the contacting seawater is saturated in CO2. Normal ocean circulation will refresh the contacting water so eventually it will escape. But if eventually means 10,000 years, that could still be useful if we do other zero or negative emissions things meantime. Park the 21st century problem out of the way until we’ve thoroughly cleaned up our act and the world can take it.

    b) CO2 hydrate will form at the interface and sink. However once the supercritical CO2 is gone, the hydrates are unstable to undersaturated seawater, and they’ll go next. Unless you bury them under 100-200m of sediment.

    c) Maybe you can make CO2 hydrates in a sequestration plant and dump them on the seabed. You’d have to cover them with 100-200m of sediment to preserve them. Hydrate vs. liquefied transport is more attractive for CO2 than for hydrocarbons, because the mass ratio of gas is higher, and CO2 tankers require more cooling.

    d) Or you can use CO2 to produce methane from its hydrate, EOR style. Apparently the CO2 will preferentially replace the CH4, which you then extract. Probably huff-and-puff style. Giving you roughly carbon-neutral production. Assuming you didn’t get the CO2 by burning something in the first place ;-).

  170. Willard says:

    Coming up with a better word than “sequestration” might help. It has negative connotations, and it’s four syllables long.

  171. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’ll leave that to the media 😉

    For decades the oil industry used frac’ing. It’s been around in its present form since the 50’s, but only became fracking when the press and public got interested. And that is a real Thing, unlike “when did they change to climate change from global warming”

    Seriously though

    Storage – nah, you take things back out of storage

    Disposal – nah, plastic to landfills is disposal

    Burial – maybe, but it jars with the engineers to speak of burying when your’e actually pumping

  172. Greg Robie says:

    Mike2 (& Dave_Geologist), and regarding making CO2 visible … My previous post linked to a carbon-credit based currency that potentially does that. Talk of boycotting the US for not redressing its unconstitutional Federal Reserve that functions as a global reserve currency starts a conversation that makes seeing the denied “soot” unavoidable. We are greedy little buggers and what has social value we will try to collect and hoard (“Take It All”) … or at least enough of us do this that when weath is grasped to exist and be available only when sustainably limited carbon pollution credits are retained – are not wantonly dumped into the commons – metanoia will have occurred. The Ring of Sauron will come off of the finger of GREED-as-go[]d, and CapitalismFail’s BadFingerStraightUp staring us in the face will no longer be hidden in plain sight. Our irrational economic social meme is simply trusted motivated reasoning concerning a fear of fear: a functional religion.

  173. Joshua says:

    I wanted to post this in the “Climate Hawks” thread, but it appears to be closed. Since this thread is tangentially relevant…. :

    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2018/03/almost-no-one-actually-believes-fake-news-so-whats-the-problem.html

    Methinks that article speaks to some important aspects of the mechanics related to opinion formation related to climate change. I don’t really agree with the argument that, simplistically, certain (subjectively determined) behaviors can be validly reversed engineered to signal “true belief,” but that article does bolster the argument that people naturally employ that “common sense” metric. But more importantly, IMO, is the argument that people will exercise the option to choose “belief” (e.g., belief about climate change) according to what the my want to believe (i.e., in alignment with political ideology) until such time that their individual choices have a clearly demonstrable, real world impact or, at least, address a problem that affects them on a daily life basis.

  174. Willard says:

    > “when did they change to climate change from global warming”

  175. John Hartz says:

    The introductory paragraphs of a very interesting article about Solar Geoengineeing posted today on Carbon Brief…

    Solar geoengineering, or “solar radiation management” (SRM), is perhaps the most controversial of the different ways of limiting human-caused climate change.

    A commonly voiced objection to the technique is the risk of “termination shock” – the rapid rebounding of global temperatures if SRM is deployed and then suddenly stopped.

    But a new research article, published in Earth’s Future, argues that this risk has been “significantly overestimated”. There are numerous ways to prevent termination shock occurring, the researchers say, and also to ensure that an SRM programme is resilient to physical, political or economic interruptions in the first place.

    However, despite their findings, the best way to protect against termination shock is “to cut CO2 emissions rapidly so that SRM is not needed for managing climate risk”, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

    Solar geoengineering: Risk of ‘termination shock’ overplayed, study says by Robert McSweeney, Carbon Brief, Mar 12, 2018

  176. I think CO2 is a good proxy for management of all the greenhouse gases, so I usually talk just about CO2. The solutions to CO2 buildup will also probably reduce and/or address CO2e buildup.

    So, yes, 410 ppm CO2 is representative of 490 ppm impact of CO2e. I think we want to keep it simple when talking to the general population, especially if the solution(s) for CO2 buildup works across the board for greenhouse gases.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  177. Dave_Geologist says:

    Climate change is less frightening than global warming

    Which is why IIRC, Reagan-era Republicans started using it preferentially.

    Ironic really. I’d kinda thought warming plus droughts plus floods plus SLR plus ecosystem disruption due to northward Hadley cell shifts plus crop failures plus resource wars plus streams of refugees plus ocean acidification making reefs going extinct and trashing the calcifying plankton at the bottom of the food chain was more frightening than simple warming.

    But maybe that’s just me.

  178. BBD says:

    Great posts, Dave_G, thanks.

    IIRC one of the mooted problems with sequestration* was the sheer volume of CO2 involved and the infrastructural build-out necessary to handle it. You touch on this above (‘Keystone XL squared’). I’m sure I’ve come across feasibility constraints based on the scale of operations required to make a significant dent in emissions.

    @Willard’s question about a *sequestration synonym for non-geologists… tricky. How about ‘cycling’? As in ‘we cycle the carbon [dioxide] safely back underground’?

  179. Dave_Geologist says:

    For me, cycling has the tame take-it-back-out connotations as storage.

    The is actually one area where experts are not a helpful source of suggestions. They often choose a word as a Term of Art which means something quite unlike its everyday-speech meaning, not just one of several everyday-speech meanings. Perhaps because it makes it more obvious in context that you’re using a Term of Art rather than everyday speech. Think legalese. Or, back to the oil industry, API gravity is measured in degrees, so you can be damn sure it’s nothing to do with Newton.

    Synonyms of sequestration. aloneness, insulation, isolation, privacy, secludedness, seclusion, segregation, solitariness, solitude. Words Related to sequestration. loneliness, lonesomeness. confinement, incarceration, internment, quarantine.

    Quarantine is probably closest, but even that has a temporary connotation.

  180. BBD says:

    Quarantine is probably closest, but even that has a temporary connotation.

    Yup, the clue’s in the name.

    I did also think about ‘sinking’ (sticking with the geological basis for word choice).

    “This facility will sink the CO2 in deep rock formations where it will stay safely for hundreds of thousands of years”.

  181. Dave_Geologist says:

    Of course, since none of the synonyms actually fits the AGW mitigation usage, that does make it a Term of Art. Which means there actually should be a different word for general-public use, as they’ll misinterpret sequestration.

    I heard a similar discussion on the News last night re the Skripal poisoning. The UK lawyer and lawmaker who’s sponsoring a Magnitsky bill over here was challenged by the journalist because the UK Gov only said it’s highly likely Russia did it. The lawyer went through the five or six levels of evidentiary proof recognised by the Courts to demonstrate that Highly Likely was the last one before Beyond A Reasonable Doubt. As the Government statement had no doubt been vetted by lawyers, they really are saying “only one step short of beyond a reasonable doubt”,

    Not what the journalist thought, and not what I thought either.

    You get similar misunderstandings about IPCC language. Judith Curry for example, although I suspect at a minimum there’s motivated reasoning going on there, not just pure misunderstanding.

  182. Greg Robie says:

    Dave_G, inspired a tweet length “word” for what we have no scientifically expressive word: https://mobile.twitter.com/OpenToInfo/status/973530586378891264

    When I taught Environmental Science during the 2000-01 academic year, a third of the search results for the phrase “Agenda 2000” we’re in German. By 2007, the word of the year in German was Klimakatastrophe. My take-away was that the German culture/mindset is more rational (is less encumbered with distracting motivated reasoning) concerning physics and the threats of the Anthropocene … and Germany led the West in shifting an economy toward non-fossil carbon energy. In my judgement it is the intransigent behavior of United States concerning its protection of the global reserve status of its unconstitutional Federal Reserve note that precludes English from having a similar word (e.g., none of the English search results in 2000 were from US sources). In 2009 Obama and Clinton threw a binding treaty under the bus at COP15. Subsequently they saddled the world with the ineffectual Paris Agreement at COP21. Noteworthy is that it ports, perhaps the primary flaw of the first commitment period of Kyoto (cap-and-trade-with-offsets) into an otherwise non-binding feel-good irrelevancy (…but for the needs of GREED-as-go[]d’s limited liability law enabled CapitalismFail).

    The Hide-and-Hold-the-Hubris (#HHH) of sequestering carbon/carbon dioxide using clathrates in the deep ocean could be a gold mine for North Sea nations within an economic meme predicated on a carbon polluting credits base currencies. My understanding of its instability when disturbed precludes pumping being successful … or more hubristic motivated reasoning?

  183. BBD: “IIRC one of the mooted problems with sequestration* was the sheer volume of CO2 involved and the infrastructural build-out necessary to handle it. “

    The late Andy Skuce and I touched on some of the daunting physical (and other) implications of CCS at scale in this SkS post. I mention because there are* some useful reference links in the article. (*that post is now 5 years old, so there are newer assessments/literature, but the mass and volume implications don’t really change much.)

    Especially note the two sections on “Scaling it Up to Climate Relevance” and “Timing and Feasibility” – the latter of which I take this quoted excerpt:

    Let us assume that we commit initially to sequestering just 20 percent of all CO2 emitted from fossil fuel combustion in 2010, or about a third of all releases from large stationary sources. After compressing the gas to a density similar to that of crude oil (800 kilograms per cubic meter) it would occupy about 8 billion cubic meters—meanwhile, global crude oil extraction in 2010 amounted to about 4 billion tonnes or (with average density of 850 kilograms per cubic meter) roughly 4.7 billion cubic meters.

    This means that in order to sequester just a fifth of current CO2 emissions we would have to create an entirely new worldwide absorption-gathering-compression-transportation-storage industry whose annual throughput would have to be about 70 percent larger than the annual volume now handled by the global crude oil industry whose immense infrastructure of wells, pipelines, compressor stations and storages took generations to build. Technically possible—but not within a timeframe that would prevent CO2 from rising above 450 ppm. And remember not only that this would contain just 20 percent of today’s CO2 emissions but also this crucial difference: The oil industry has invested in its enormous infrastructure in order to make a profit, to sell its product on an energy-hungry market (at around $100 per barrel and 7.2 barrels per tonne that comes to about $700 per tonne)—but (one way or another) the taxpayers of rich countries would have to pay for huge capital costs and significant operating burdens of any massive CCS.

  184. I like carbon sinking as a name. The verb for getting the carbon out of the atmosphere becomes the noun carbon sink for an active sequestration structure. There are natural carbon sinks, just like there are natural carbon sources and I think we should discriminate subtly about natural versus anthropogenic carbon sinks and sources. We should be clear thatm in the real world, it does not matter if a carbon source or sink is natural or manmade, the problem is the accumulation of carbon dioxide in atmosphere and oceans from all sources. The solution is reduction of carbon dioxide in atmosphere and oceans from all sinks. In any case, this is going to be quite expensive. I don’t know how we can keep our military commitments to allies and provide for a vigorous national defense and sink carbon at the same time.

  185. BBD says:

    Thanks Rust. That sums it up tidily.

  186. Michael 2 says:

    Dave_Geologist writes “… was more frightening than simple warming.”

    Of course. But the limbic system quickly tires of fear. There’s a squirt of adrenaline, nothing happens. After several repetitions a person becomes immune to such stories. Many dangers exist for most people and these dangers are in varying degrees of immediacy and consequence. What is likely to be more effective is long term planning for the future but not because of fear which paralyzes rather than motivates. Fight or flight; with humanity having learned that flight tends to be more successful. So if my choices are to “fight” sea level rise, sort of a non-starter, no guarantee kind of thing, or just not live in Florida, well that’s an easy choice. Choose an elevation at least a meter above storm surged high tides and in my lifetime nothing to worry about on that front.

    It is true that a great many people have chosen to live close to the sea for its economic benefits. Some risks exist every day of the week having made that choice. Tsunami being one of the larger, more immediate and almost perfectly unpredictable risks; and yet millions of people choose to be vulnerable to tsunami.

  187. @rustneversleeps,

    From everything I have personally studied and calculated, and from everything pertinent I’ve read, the sheer idea of trying to offset active emissions is lunacy. My conversation with, e.g., @Dave_Geologist was exclusively in the context of dealing with end products of clear air capture of CO2 after energy-related fossil fuel emissions have been zeroed. Facts are, clear air capture cannot keep up with the pace of active emissions, at global scale, and, even without them, the project will take centuries. Indeed, the residual and unavoidable emissions due to agriculture, even agriculture tilled, planted, maintained, harvested, processed, produced, and distributed with zero Carbon emissions is a daunting 2-3 GtC per annum. This isn’t just beef, but also rice and soy. Clear air capture would need to be able to deal with that as well as background CO2. It would be nice to have genetically engineered rice and soy which could somehow converted the CO2 into a more permanent long term form, or encourage symbiosis with bacteria that can do the same.

    The impossibility of dealing with active emissions, however, should not discourage a look at disposing of clear air capture products. The message from the latter may end up being as bad, but it hasn’t, to my mind, been looked at thoroughly.

    The only other constraint I’d throw in is that we may not have centuries to do direct air capture …. The far north tundra trigger may mean we might need to apply some Solar Radiation Management in the interim. I never thought I’d say that, since SRM is a dangerously unknown technology, but that tundra trigger is much scarier.

  188. Agree with HG and I suspect many of us here, with the sense that drastic and urgent cuts in levels of CO2e emissions is step 1. Carbon sinking/cycling has to be step 2 and based upon a system that is close to zero emission. An 80% reduction of anthro CO2e emissions would tell me that we are serious and have a shot at making this work. A 50% reduction would show we tried. So far, we are hit and miss on simply stopping the rise of emission levels. I think the current global response is wildly/dangerously/tragically inadequate and sets up some very nasty social dynamics as we start feeling the impact of a warmed planet.
    But, maybe I am wrong about all that.
    Cheers
    Mike

  189. @Greg_Robie,

    People don’t collectively understand the level of ambition required to achieve warming of only +2C, let alone +1.5C. That level demands that relatively new fossil fuel infrastructure be retired early. This discussion hasn’t even been breached, let alone had, or worked out to determine how compensation would be handled.

  190. Dave_Geologist says:

    @rust

    in order to sequester just a fifth of current CO2 emissions we would have to create an entirely new worldwide absorption-gathering-compression-transportation-storage industry whose annual throughput would have to be about 70 percent larger than the annual volume now handled by the global crude oil industry

    World oil production is just shy of 100 million barrels per day, say 30 billion per year. At 70$ per barrel, that’s $2 trillion. Global GDP in 2014 was about $80 trillion. So if we could do sequestration for the same price as extraction (and I realise I’m omitting gas and coal, just thinking about ball-park) it would be a drain of about 2.5% on the global economy. So maybe scale it up to 5% or even 10%, Tough but still doable (given the technology of course). And bear in mind that global GDP per capita has doubled in the last 20 years, a compound growth rate of about 3.5% p.a.

    So if we put our minds to it, and rolled it out over a few decades, it should be possible to go to major sequestration and still maintain growth, just a bit less than with BAU. But hopefully avoiding a climate crash which has an impact like the 2008 financial crash. If 3.5% p.a. growth in the 21st Century assumes BAU emissions, it’s predicated on a false premise as that’s bound to lead to some high-impact climate events which will have knock-on economic effects. How much would it cost to rebuild Miami somewhere else?

    And it needn’t be intrusive. When was the last time you tripped over an oil pipeline or had to detour around a refinery?

  191. zebra says:

    @Hyper-g,

    “how compensation would be handled”

    Same way all the buggy-whip folks were compensated? Seems fair to me.

  192. Vinny Burgoo says:

    It’s ‘carbonunderum’, obvz. Either that or ‘chlorofloorocarbon’ (with ‘chloro-‘ meaning ‘greeno-‘).

    Or perhaps simply ‘corban’, which The Christian Courier says (my dictionary disagrees) was a tag applied in ancient Judaism to assets that belonged to God rather than to Man.

    In Jewish practice, therefore, the word “corban” had been coined as a sort of “vow” term. According to the prevailing tradition, one could designate his financial resources as “corban,” which, practically speaking, was a way of “tagging” them, suggesting, “this belongs to God,” and thus was not to be used for personal interests.

  193. Willard says:

  194. HyperG – on the one hand that is clearly the case … but doesn’t that assume that we are a rational species with foresight intelligence? Given the existence of motivated reasoning, other hands also clearly exist … including that first hand?!? 😉 To the degree physics defines knowledge as action, and the educational institutions that the physicists who’ve defined the knowledge regarding the threat that greenhouse effect act otherwise, isn’t that level of ambission communicated, understood, and followed?

    Dave_G’s caveated push back re Rust entirely misses the threat of the systemic dynamics of debt based currencies when credit is vetted by the technologically enhanced productivity of the oil era’s distributed energy-equilivant slaves. Peak credit arrived with peak conventional oil. The subset of humanity that grasps the import of this is very small. A large percent of those are indigenous. Most of those that aren’t such are those who control the global finance ‘industry’ (… & government!). The twin threats of climate disruption and peak credit are scripting the collapse of the irresponsible civilization of CapitalismFail. Whether this repeat of the human tradegy ends violently or non-violently yet remains a choice of its authors; a choice to live up – or not – to the meaning of our name. Fear as greed, and as a matter of religious-like honor (motivated reasoning), will be aligned with the need of a zero carbon economy and negative emissions technologies to effect the former choice and greedily end debt-slavery, or lemming-like we will repeat history, continue to embrace violence we trust in, and do so as unspeakable horror eases us, and most life, off the planet.

  195. @Vinny Burgoo,

    In Jewish practice, therefore, the word “corban” had been coined as a sort of “vow” term. According to the prevailing tradition, one could designate his financial resources as “corban,” which, practically speaking, was a way of “tagging” them, suggesting, “this belongs to God,” and thus was not to be used for personal interests.

    Okay, like so much else “interpreted” by Christian groups, that’s just bupkis. (“Goat droppings” for the unitiated.) קָרְבָּן‬ is much more complicated than any of that, and it tied up with sacrificial offerings, especially when the Temple existed (or exists, as many O expect will). Narrowly, it was a kosher animal sacrifice, and, as most, was reserved to be consumed by the kohanim, but it is mentioned in so many places with so many references, most of them not in the Torah, that its exact meaning depends upon context and understanding of the relevant Jewish laws and commentary.

    The nearest to the interpretation offered is

    The korban also has a spiritual meaning, and refers to some part of an individual’s ego, which is given up as a sacrifice to God in honor of the mortality of the worshipper.

    which, by the way, is from the Wikipedia article on the subject, which is way more balanced and cosmopolitan than I’d expect the “Christian Courier to be.

    Having once been a practicing LR Jew (and, for the nitty pickers out there, having gone through a formal O conversion ritual, thank-you-very-much), and raising two kids in the tradition, being born a Catholic, I find this kind of repeated misunderstanding and misrepresentation very annoying. As one, and a physical materialist and atheist to boot (Judiasm is a culture, not just a religion), I follow Tanchuma Emor 14 and Vayikra Rabbah 9:7. No doubt there will be many learned O who say I don’t know what I’m talking about. But, then, 5 Jews 7 opinions.

  196. @Greg Robie,

    … but doesn’t that assume that we are a rational species with foresight intelligence? Given the existence of motivated reasoning, other hands also clearly exist … including that first hand?!? 😉 To the degree physics defines knowledge as action, and the educational institutions that the physicists who’ve defined the knowledge regarding the threat that greenhouse effect act otherwise, isn’t that level of ambi[t]ion communicated, understood, and followed?

    Greg, while I once thought humanity was a “rational species with foresight intelligence” when I was younger, my current opinion is that we are just another animal, and groups of us respond in the same way any other group of animals do. The only difference is, being physically large animals, we have managed to use technology to harness the resources of Earth and its ecosystems to enlarge the ecosystem carrying capacity so we can sustain 6 billions of us. No doubt this is at the expense of other creatures, and so on. Unfortunately, and also ecologically speaking, we have climbed out farther and farther onto a limb. It is likely to snap. A rational species with foresight would turn around. But, then, looks like we’re not.

  197. angech says:

    Willard , please explain where Zeke is right?
    Satellite data no 1 degree from start to finish.
    NASA no 1 degree rise from start to finish either.
    Close but no go.

  198. BBD says:

    angech

    Close but no go.

    The quote was:

    “that global temperatures would increase more than one degree Celsius by 2020” from the 1970s.

    Notice the start point is not specifically defined as 1970 but ‘the 1970s’ and the end point is specified as 2020, not (end) 2017. If one refrains from rhetorically-motivated pedantry about start to finish then the likelihood of the quote being accurate remains high.

  199. Mike2, the point about fight and flight re testosterone and stress is the well articulated sound of one hand clapping. Needed: the other hand – the tend-&-befriend behavior re oxytocin. Such doesn’t negate what you’ve outlined, but adds relevant complexity re ‘solutions’ re this ATTP post.

    Consider: to the degree motivated reasoning evolutionarily exists to mitigate the stress of fear, and oxytocin calms, what re-legions social groups (tends & befriends) will strongly influence behavior in a dance with fight-&-flight. To the degree CapitalismFail functions socially as a ‘leigoning’ force, to redress the dynamics of its Anthropcene’s klimakatastrophe, re-religioning is the logical strategy. Here again, and like physics, isn’t action re knowledge integral to what has agency?

    The ‘religion’ of CapitalismFail and its civilization is assured the demise physics defines. How violent that demise is remains a choice; a space of agency. Doesn’t a trusted (i.e., oxytocin informed) fear of fear hide this in plain sight?

  200. Dave_Geologist says:

    angech

    As a scientist, Zeke knows the difference between precision and accuracy.

    You…..don’t.

    Recommended reading:

    The Relativity of Wrong by Isaac Asimov

  201. Dave_Geologist says:

    And oh, the delicious irony that the Kochs funded Berkeley Earth. How they must regret that.

    The BEST example around of true scepticism.

  202. angech says:

    “The quote was: “that global temperatures would increase more than one degree Celsius by 2020” from the 1970s. Notice the start point is not specifically defined as 1970 but ‘the 1970s’ and the end point is specified as 2020, not (end) 2017. If one refrains from rhetorically-motivated pedantry about start to finish then the likelihood of the quote being accurate remains high.”

    Pedantry, the art of being annoyingly accurate and precise but not always relevant, is apparently not my strong point according to DG above.
    Leaving the rhetorical motivations aside it is only necessary to note that the comment was about temperatures rising over a time frame.
    Zeke has chosen to address this with two graphs.
    Neither reaches 2020 yet.
    There is still time.
    The first, RSS, does not go back to 1970 so no conclusion can be drawn for the time beforehand. In the time shown we both realise that, alas, a 1 degree Celsius change has not occurred by end 2017. If it does not happen by 2020 I hope Zeke issues an apology for confusing actuality with speculation.
    The second, NASA, presumably starts or could start from 1970, and dipped negative. Were one to take it from 1978 he would be quite correct.
    Unfortunately he has specified the 1970’s and used a graph starting from 1970. It does mean a rise of 1C from the starting point hence he is not correct.
    The likelihood, I admit, is higher than it was when the statement was made but the actuality has not been proven with any precision.
    Tough, but those are the facts.

  203. angech,

    The likelihood, I admit, is higher than it was when the statement was made but the actuality has not been proven with any precision.
    Tough, but those are the facts.

    You’re reversing this (please do better). The claim is that scientists got it wrong. This is clearly not the case.

  204. Vinny Burgoo says:

    @hypergeometric Interesting. Thanks.

  205. @Michael_2,

    Fight or flight; with humanity having learned that flight tends to be more successful. So if my choices are to “fight” sea level rise, sort of a non-starter, no guarantee kind of thing, or just not live in Florida, well that’s an easy choice. Choose an elevation at least a meter above storm surged high tides and in my lifetime nothing to worry about on that front.

    This is why, as I’ve written elsewhere,

    … [W]hile I once thought humanity was a “rational species with foresight intelligence” when I was younger, my current opinion is that we are just another animal, and groups of us respond in the same way any other group of animals do. The only difference is, being physically large animals, we have managed to use technology to harness the resources of Earth and its ecosystems to enlarge the ecosystem carrying capacity so we can sustain 6 billions of us. … [W]e have climbed out farther and farther onto a limb. It is likely to snap. A rational species with foresight would turn around. But, then, looks like we’re not.

  206. Michael 2 says:

    hypergeometric “We have climbed out farther and farther onto a limb. It is likely to snap.”

    That’s pretty much the way I see it. Intelligence allowed humans to cleverly overextend itself.

    “A rational species with foresight would turn around. But, then, looks like we’re not.”

    Agreed. I believe our species instinct is not as strong as personal instinct. I have a doubt it is possible for a purely rational species to exist, if for no other reason than no rational reason exists for a species to exist in the first place.

  207. Willard says:

    > There is still time.

    For some unicorn-like temps only, Doc.

    Not sure where you got your “two graphs,” If you click on the tweet’s timestamps, you’ll get many more, e.g.:

  208. Mal Adapted says:

    angech:

    There is still time

    Time for what? It’s too late for the people who’ve already suffered AGW’s tragic consequences (I don’t suppose the good Doc will follow that link, but lurkers might).

    OTOH, there will always be time to cap the warming at some point above current GMST, keeping the uncertain lag time to equilibrium in mind. In any case the cost of AGW, in money and incommensurable tragedy, is confidently expected to mount with GMST. GMST, in turn, will mount as long as the anthropogenic transfer of fossil carbon to the atmosphere continues. It’s not going out on a limb to say that, in its turn, will go on as long as the marginal climate-change costs of fossil fuels are externalized (i.e. socialized) from their market prices.

    Is our good Doc saying he still has time to socialize more of his private climate-change costs, making additional involuntary third parties pay for them with their homes, livelihoods and lives? Leaving aside the question of how he’s sure he won’t pay, perhaps as soon as next week, an unanticipated and wildly disproportionate price himself (the luckwarmist position), his cognitive motivation for lukewarmism seems transparent.

  209. Dave_Geologist says:

    @angech

    Pedantry, the art of being annoyingly accurate and precise but not always relevant, is apparently not my strong point according to DG above.

    Not sure that’s the correct definition, but whatever… please, do read the Asimov article II linked you to. It’s do you good.

    It’s quite short, and as you’d expect from a best selling author, very readable.

  210. angech says:

    DG
    Thanks. Very much.
    Have done so.
    Read a lot of Asimov in my teens/twenties but never got into the new foundation series.
    Enjoyed the article and even though on the opposite side of the mirror here I thought it was very good and agreed with it.

  211. angech says:

    Willard.
    great link thanks. Not sure where you got your “two graphs,”
    If you click on the tweet’s timestamps, you’ll get many more, e.g.: appreciated.
    Not sure Zeke’s reply you pasted helped his cause.

  212. BBD says:

    Not sure Zeke’s reply you pasted helped his cause.

    Eh? This was nailed yesterday, so no idea why you are still talking about it.

  213. Dave_Geologist says:

    angech
    Glad you did. And apologies for inferring that you hadn’t clicked through. And props for recognising that you were playing the role of the English Lit student.

    At the risk of piling on, but with the excuse that not all readers will click through to the article, the analogy to the Zeke’s-tweet discussion would be a flat-earther saying the round-earthers are wrong, because first they said it was round, then they said no it’s not, it’s flattened at the poles. So by default, the flat-earther wins.

    BTW is worth googling Isaac Asimov Global Warming. Both for his 1971 article (in Penthouse of all places) and his 1989 video.

    From 1971, p248:

    If the present carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere were merely to double, the average temperature of the Earth would increase by 3.6°C.

    Plus ca change.

    Note that there’s a bunch of other Malthusian doom-and-gloom stuff in there as well which we know didn’t happen. But that’s the difference between a prediction and a projection. The projection entails an if, in this case exponential population growth, which didn’t happen.

    Exponential CO2 emissions growth, on the other hand….

  214. Dave_Geologist says:

    Michael 2

    Agreed. I believe our species instinct is not as strong as personal instinct.

    It goes deeper. Dawkins. Selfish Gene.

  215. Greg Robie says:

    Thanks for helping to expand my thinking and articulate that physics defines knowledge as action:

    Δ∑CO2e ≝ BAU – knowledge as action (KAA)
    BAU ≈ 0 when KAA ≥ Δ∑CO2e
    Δ∑CO2e = Δ∑CO2e♀♂ + Δ∑CO2e🌐
    Δ♀♂T (temp) ⇒ Δ∑CO2e🌐 × (X > 1)
    Δ∑CO2e♀♂ ≝ X
    KAA ≠ https://youtu.be/b97zJxKEqAk *

    * CapitalismFail induced motivated reasoning re debt-based currencies withstanding!/?

  216. Joshua says:

    At the risk of driving Willard nuts, connecting climate change, Jordan Peterson, activism, carbon footprints, chess gambits, and a lot of other stuff talked about in these threads.

  217. Joshua says:

    Btw, just wanted to say that I think that in that clip Jonathan Rowson presents a very strong (and I think admirable) model for one type of dialog exchange.

  218. Joshua says:

    FWIW – regarding the climate change components of that JP video…

    At one point Rowson asks a question related to addressing the problem of climate change, and Peterson’s first response is to ask whether Rowson drove to the interview. Rowson says that he took public transportation, to which Peterson is silenced just a bit (very unusual, indeed for him, as indeed it is that he takes time away from self-congratulatory storifying to actually ask a question of someone else), giggles, looks to the heavens with great glee as be gathers his response…but Rowson moves the discussion in a more productive direction.

    Looking beyond the aborted Tu Quoque/ad hom aspects of Peterson’s gambit, it’s instructive that initially, Peterson has to reformulate new line of attack. Despite the irrelevancy (IMO) of the question Peterson asked, Rowson being able to say that he took public transportation is effective within the small frame rhetorical arena. Irrespective of whether being able to justify his own behavior reflects a positive dynamic that’s generalizable to the larger framework of climate change dialog, it does seem that being able to do so creates a rhetorical advantage for a moment in time. I would question the generalizability, of course. But there’s little doubt that Jordan’s gambit is a “common sense” one, that is and will be repeated endlessly – whether just as a product of “common sense” logic or as a product of rhetorical gamesmanship and identity aggressive behaviors. Thus, it may not matter whether that gambit reflects fallacious thinking – because fallacious thinking can have a rhetorical practicality.

    It is also interesting that later in the discussion, Jordan plays the teh modelz gambit. (To his credit, once again, Rowson does not take the bait.) It seems that Jordan is pretty well centered in the “skeptic” camp – which, of course, relies on a criticism of teh modelz, even as he plays the “I’m not an expert” gambit along with the “no one understands climate change” gambit. .

  219. Willard says:

    Thanks, Joshua.

    I’d never thougtht JonathanR would get old… His Chess for Zebras is considered one of the best Chess books ever by many. I’ve took the liberty to ask him over teh tweeter why he considers JordanP’s Maps of Meaning deep. Since you like tu quoques, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this one.

    And for those who doubt that existence is a social construct:

  220. I haven’t watched all of the Peterson interview, but what I have watched makes him seem like a patronising git.

  221. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    I’ve took the liberty to ask him over teh tweeter why he considers JordanP’s Maps of Meaning deep.

    I found that to be an interesting question that kept popping up for me throughout the interview. I kept asking myself about Rowson’s supportive posture. Was he really as positive as it appears, with nods of agreement and “yes’s” as Peterson narrated his just-so’s? Being much smarter than myself, could he really follow Peterson’s dancing about to connect all corners of the universe (in what appeared to me to be Olympic level apophenia)? Or were his positive responses more of a sort of conversational tics or just simply a reflection of a earnest and deliberate good faith dedication to good faith engagement?

    At any rate, his power of concentration and degree of focus were very impressive to me. I was amazed at how he handled the audience questions at the end, where he gathered them, boiled them down with synopeses, and then addressed them in sequence. Man, I wish I had that kind of memory and ability to parse information.

  222. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    What I was most impressed with is that Peterson’s gitness never detoured Rowson’s focus. I think it’s a very nice display of playing the ball on Rowson’s part.

    There is even a point when Rowson gives feedback, rather directly, on Peterson’s gitness – an act which from many becomes an invitation for a locutor (Peterson here) to go even deeper into gitness – but Rowson does so more in the frame of, basically, “Can you see why your approach might engender an X type of response in me and others?) Although, unfortunately, Peterson completely fails to respond on point (as he always, as far as I’ve seen, denies accountability for negative reaction to his approach), Rowson effectively provides feedback without also providing Peterson a hook to grab onto to play the victim.

    After watching the video, I wondered if Peterson might, afterwards, re-watch it himself and reflect on the feedback he was given from someone, who for all appearances (as least as I could see) was acting in good faith as an interlocutor. If Peterson does value humility (as he preaches for others), and indeed is motivated by good faith, I would think that he might benefit from doing so.

  223. Joshua says:

    BTW –

    I do loves me some Piaget. I certainly can’t criticize Peterson on that front.

  224. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    Thanks so much for the linkages…..which led me to..

    https://www.perspectiva-insideout.com/home/the-unrecognised-genius-of-jean-piaget

    So reinforcing for me to see someone else connects Piaget to the climate wars. That much the better that he’s a really smart dude – which goes to show with me that…blind squirrels and stopped clocks have some probative value:

  225. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    One more comment:

    Perhaps this is where we see some connection, for Rowson, to Peterson’s deepness:

    This is deep. Kegan takes Piaget’s intellectual background as a biologist and naturalist seriously. He is interpreting Piaget as saying something like: It’s not that the world is comprised of things and contexts and they change each other; it’s that the fundamental thing is not a thing at all — it’s a process defined by the relationship between thing and context, and that relationship is primary and the relational process is always in motion. Such a viewpoint is of course axiomatic to much of eastern philosophy and systems theory.

    I think that there is a lot of crossover there with what Peterson has to say.

  226. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “After watching the video, I wondered if Peterson might, afterwards, re-watch it himself and reflect on the feedback he was given from someone, who for all appearances (as least as I could see) was acting in good faith as an interlocutor.”

    I have only skimmed the video, Peterson is cumulatively toxic on exposure I find. But I doubt that Peterson would reflect if he did re-watch himself. It is glaringly apparent that he has NO insight or apparent suspicion that his arguments might look banal and facile to otters.
    Even when it was most politely pointed out that not everyone would consider what some professors teach in feminist studies at a Toronto university is incontrovertible proof that the very basis of ~3000 years of human ethical insight is being destroyed.
    Fans of Peterson often seem very strongly convinced he is right with no margin of doubt. But I get the impression he far surpasses them in absolute conviction and lack of doubt about his ideas. Ironically he shares with those (SJW stereotypes?) he castigates a total lack of humour or humility.

  227. Willard says:

    > I think that there is a lot of crossover there with what Peterson has to say.

    I think JordanP’s more into archetypes, narrative or mythic structures that drive cognitions. Piaget’s cognitive development is formal. It follows algebraic and probabilistic development. As was wont to say, we’re all Kant’s grandchildren. By contrast, anyone who studied ancient doctrines like astrology knows exactly where JordanP gets his ideas. (His insistence on limitation, for instance, is simply a variation on Saturn.) The Ancients used to conceive the world symbologically. No wonder he handwaves to Jung so much. That diagnosis could be wrong, as I still can’t tolerate more than 5 minutes of JordanP at a time, with captions. If ASMR is a thing, his voice is anti-ASMR to me.

    I caught this from JonathanR’s post:

    When we learn in climate communication studies that people on the right of the political spectrum are more likely to deny or express scepticism towards anthropogenic climate change, in Piagetian terms that’s often because they can’t readily assimilate it within their existing schemas, and are not sufficiently motivated to accommodate the information by creating new ones. The tough thing to grasp about assimilation and accommodation is that it’s not a binary feature of one or the other happening; it’s more like a spectrum in which we always primarily assimilate, and the extent to which we accommodate is a function of how open we are to experience, how willing we are to learn, how attached we are to our identities, and so forth. Since we can only accommodate with the material we’ve already assimilated, human transformation tends to be a slow and sometimes painful process. Piaget calls this attempt to continue learning and growing by making sense of the unknown with the known as ‘equilibration’.

    I’d associate assimilation and accomodation with adaptation and mitigation. Those who refuse to accept that we need to mitigate will assimilate the information, say by deflecting on adaptation, instead of accomodating their structures with the reality of mitigation.

  228. Greg Robie says:

    To my ear the most profound insight to come from the interview was the answer to the question about the contradictions between short and long term time preferences and the observation that there is a biological wiring to preference any immediate crisis over a long term threat. To the degree the short term profit constitutes an ongoing crisis around which the culture of CapitalismFail is ordered (defines and constrains logos), this goes a long way toward explaining our response to the “long term” crisis of the Anthropocene and it’s klimakatastrophe. Motivated reasoning was not talked about, but the definition for an ideology, as opposed to a religion, as it was explained got me thinking that maybe I should talk about our irrational motivated reasoning enabling CapitalismFail as ideological, not religious-like. As an ideology, CapitalismFail is, as defined, a [debt-based] parasitical meme that is built on a religious substructure.

    Since Rowsen twice describes climate change as a social, cultural, ecological, and political problem (though the 2nd articulation was spoken too fast to include ecological), doesn’t this infer that our trusted economic paradigm is assumed? Peterson seems to emphasize the microcosm (where responsibility is easily defined) over the macrocosm (where the same feels complex) in his thinking as well. The macrocosm’s “complexity” appears to almost mean mystery as it is used by both in this conversation. Within the developmental/maturation framework that is spoken of, can’t one person’s or culture’s complexity/mystery just as easily be another’s common sense?

    CapitalismFail’s Anthropocene’s klimakatastrophe is the consequence of limited liability law enabled markets. These [responsibility] free markets constitute the iterable ‘improving’ game that was discussed. My observation is that the game that effects efficiency in avoiding responsibility is imagined by that games privileged as one that will get better … no discussion necessary. The consequence of this is that when GREED-is-go[]d, better becomes bad; GREED-as-go[]d becomes the only efficacious game with efficacy.

  229. @Greg_Robie,

    Interesting. But I think, too, people should not forget this is very much, IMO, a rehash of a debate which, for many people, was never as settled as scientists and educators would like to think it was. That is, it is the latest incarnation of a geocentric view of the Universe, meaning a human-centric view of the Universe, which for many scientifically educated, was displaced first by the successes of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Laplace, and Lagrange, and then shoved aside by Darwin and Lamarck, Mendel, Wallace, and others. A lot of people, notably many Americans just don’t believe those, as difficult as it is to imagine.

    Given that, thinking a mere natural phenomenon, even if — or especially if — human-caused could dethrone humanity from domination could reasonably be considered arrogance itself.

    To the degree this attitude, defiance of evidence and the refusal to see humanity as having such a small place in the Universe, is probably the aspect of humanity’s character which is most likely to doom it, irrespective of what Science says, or what calamities befall it.

    Eppur si muove.

  230. Marco says:

    We should put Peterson and Taleb in the same room and lock the doors.

  231. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    “refusal to see humanity as having such a small place in the Universe”

    I doubt it is anything so profound. Lots of research has been done, and the prevalence of expressed denial on the “Right” politically is clearly linked to group (tribal) identity. Group identity/solidarity is a particularly important motivator on the Right, although it exists on the “other side” as well.

    That’s why I keep making the annoying suggestion that focus should be on solving the problem, not convincing the Right that “we” are right about climate change. Or even evolution.

    You gave some number in a reply to me about a recent poll that indicated a minority (USA) considers climate change an important problem. The thing is, that number was probably pretty much the same, perhaps lower, when Gore won the popular vote, and when HRC won the popular vote.

    The outcome of those elections, while enormously meaningful to solving the problem, had little if anything to do with anyone being convinced about climate change.

  232. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra, I found nothing substantive to disagree with in your comment. However:

    That’s why I keep making the annoying suggestion that focus should be on solving the problem, not convincing the Right that “we” are right about climate change.

    Dude, I find little if anything in your comment to disagree with. I apologize if you’ve already answered my questions here or elsewhere, but I know that despite a propensity for self-enhancement, you are well informed and thoughtful about the problem. I’m trying to engage you in earnest here, z, so please forgive any stray micro-aggressions, it’s who I am.

    So, first, perhaps you’ll provide more detail on the first clause of the sentence I quoted. What are your specific proposals? I presume they involve multiple approaches, i.e. you’re not planning to do it in one fell swoop.

    Next, if your solutions depend on winning elections in the US, I’m interested in your second clause. As you allude, a simple plurality of the popular vote is demonstrably insufficient to overcome the cultural inertia of our nominally democratic republic. Consider, however, that the financial resources and thus the political power of ‘the Right’ have achieved bare margins of victory, if that, for BAU in recent national elections.

    Regrettably, aTTP regulars are an undetectable minority of US voters. Still, a lopsided majority of us (perhaps as much as 97% ;^D) acknowledge that 1) GMST is rising faster than it has since agriculture allowed the Earth’s human population to explode; 2) the ongoing rapid warming is anthropogenic, primarily a result of the economically-driven transfer of fossil carbon to the climatically-active pool; and 3) the human cost of anthropogenic global warming is already being paid in homes, livelihoods and lives as well as dollars, in the US as well as globally, and will mount with GMST. How many more US voters do we need to convince? Do we need to convince them of those three propositions, or only that ‘the Right’ is peddling the most egregious lies about everything, not just climate?

    I think you see where I’m going with this. Your turn.

  233. Mal Adapted says:

    Some redundancy in my first two sentences. Beware of over-editing 8^(.

  234. zebra says:

    @Mal Adapted,

    “self-enhancement”

    Mal, this does cut me to the quick. As you should be aware by now, one of my main themes has always been to make the quantitative aspects of the discussion more accessible by using first-approximation, qualitative/quantitative reasoning, rather than displaying my formidable math skills. So, I have studiously avoided mathturbation on these forums. 😉

    Anyway, no, I really don’t get what you’re getting at. I’ve made clear here and elsewhere that I think people tend to ignore (or “deny”) the well-established social science and psychology data, and educational principles, and political strategic and tactical realities, that are affecting the outcome. I know it’s kind of boring, and it’s more fun to get into the philosophy and the physics weeds, but this is an “engineering” or “design” problem, and it requires pragmatism. That’s the point of what I said to Hyper-G.

    Getting back to that first-order quantitative thinking that I promote, where do you think we would be on the climate front now if the three Presidents had been Gore, Obama, HRC, compared to the current reality? Pretty enhanced chances of real progress, no? Order of magnitude? Without them even asking zebra’s opinion!

  235. BBD says:

    So no specifics on how appeals to selfishness can lead to emissions reductions.

  236. Dave_Geologist says:

    Piaget

    1. Piaget’s core insight about how human cognition evolves and develops applies not just in childhood but throughout the lifespan. We vary not just in what we know, but in how we know — how we structure and interpret experience
    2. Piaget’s most profound contribution was showing the fundamental unity of open systems biology, human understanding and cultural evolution i.e. Piaget has a particularly powerful take on ‘life’.
    3. If we are going to make progress on particularly ‘wicked’ problems like climate change, we need the diversity of human capacities (and lack of capacities) for perspective-taking to be a much more prominent consideration in our interventions. (The fourth point, unpacking relevance to climate change in particular, will follow in a subsequent post, which won’t make much sense unless you read the following!)

    Sounds a bit Sokal-&-Bricmont to me. What Swartz and Bradley (apparently, I admit to using a secondary source) called Janus-sentences. They yield two different interpretations, one trivial and true, one nontrivial and false

    — Ducks and covers —

    (1) falls into their first category, (2) the second (3) either depending on how you read it. And on whether you believe climate change is a ‘wicked’ problem. But of course even there the quotes could be read as (a) a flag that wicked is being used as a Term of Art and doesn’t have the Grimm’s Fairy Tales meaning or (b) that while it’s sometimes used as a Term of Art, I’m not using it a such so don’t have to adhere to accepted definitions – so treat them as scare quotes.

  237. Willard says:

    > Sounds a bit Sokal-&-Bricmont to me.

    I’m starting to think many things do, Dave.

    In return, please note that Sokal & Bricmont is based on crap, e.g.:

    Social Text, the journal it was published in, was not peer reviewed at the time, and no external physicists were consulted about the articles finding. In fact, Sokal refused to make any edits suggested by the journal. In other words, all Sokal proved was that peer review is necessary to fend off shoddy research and the academic equivalent of Punk’d.

    http://www.critical-theory.com/read-derridas-response-sokal-affair/

    Not having studied a thing is the best way to get to “Janus” sentences, an interesting howler for anyone who studied mythology or pragmatics.

  238. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    please note that Sokal & Bricmont is based on crap

    I agree with Derrida this much: “Sokal proved … that peer review is necessary to fend off shoddy research”. That’s not all Sokal did besides the academic equivalent of Punk’d, however. I’ll go so far as to say he showed that all of the text of ‘Social Text’ could easily be nothing but crap. IOW, the journal might well be dedicated to a scholarly discipline with no disciplined scholars. IIUC, that was Sokal’s objective.

  239. Joshua says:

    izen –

    But I doubt that Peterson would reflect if he did re-watch himself.

    Perhaps inspired by Rowson’s (love and light) approach, I avoided any estimate of probabilities. And besides, a 16 beat a 1 the other day.

    Ironically he shares with those (SJW stereotypes?) he castigates a total lack of humour or humility.

    It seems that admonishment to embrace humility can be particularly effective coming from someone who displays none.

    That said, in my observation Peterson has a well developed sense of humor. Certainly not of the self-deprecating flavor, but he it seems he finds much mirth in ridiculing caricatures of the loony left.

  240. Jai Mitchell says:

    ATTP,

    when you say,
    “Transient response to Cumulative Emissions (TCRE) is 0.8 to 2.5oC per 1000GtC (or per 3670 GtCO2). So, there is a chance (small) that we could emit as much as 7000 GtCO2 and only warm by about 1.5oC. I will admit that 15% does seem a bit high. The Carbon Brief article that I linked to in the post does suggest that some of the numbers in the figure are a bit high.”

    you are assuming that this TCRE value is in some way valid. even though you know it does not include key carbon cycle feedbacks that are already being observed and will become quite large as the world continues to warm.

    You also discount the massive amount of work that has been done since these values were produced that show the cooling effect of Sulfate aerosols is much larger than the values they used in this determination.

    by saying that these numbers are ‘a bit high’ relies on your suspension of disbelief that these truths reveal a very faulty baseline methodology and that your assumptions are completely invalid. And yet you continue to persist in claiming these targets are in any way NOT ALREADY passed.

    At this point I have to ask you, whose side are you on?

    We must now fully take into account our personal reticence and become more effective communicators by conveying the absolutely horrific truth that we are in the most desperate fight of our lives to prevent the collapse of all that our previous generations have struggled to achieve.

  241. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    Anyway, no, I really don’t get what you’re getting at.

    Ima try again:

    First, do you agree that, as little progress as Gore, Obama and HRC made on climate, at least Obama was elected by a decisive plurality of the popular vote (according to Wikipedia, Obama’s 69.5 million votes in the 2008 election “still stands as the highest number ever won by a presidential candidate”), while Trump lost the popular vote and won the election only by working the Electoral College, and GW Bush lost the popular vote and won the election only with 537 absentee Florida ballots and the partisan intervention of five SCOTUS justices?

    If so, do you agree (I’m not sure about this myself, actually) that Obama, despite the determined AGW-denial of Congress, was able to take executive measures that, if they all survived the next administration, could have slowed warming measurably within a few years?

    My point is that an effective plurality of US voters for substantive climate action may not be so far out of reach as you think. I’m interested in strategies and tactics for getting us over the top. Do you have any suggestions?

    Note that, even absent meaningful action at the national level, multiple smaller-scale (“polycentric”) collective actions can have measurable impact on the rate of warming, as shown by Ostrom inter alia.

  242. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “That said, in my observation Peterson has a well developed sense of humor. Certainly not of the self-deprecating flavor, but he it seems he finds much mirth in ridiculing caricatures of the loony left.”

    According to his own estimation of their relative merits, that would definitely qualify as ‘punching down’.
    Perhaps it is the British taste for irony and irreverence that tends to mean we apportion our regard for someone in inverse proportion to the degree of self-regard they display.
    Trump..!

    Hmmm Piaget…

    Top Shelf False Choice ?!

    1) Cognitive development is a process of punctuated equilibrium in which distinct, definable cognitive competencies are acquired in sequential order. These schema represent qualitatively different cognitive abilities, each of which give the child/youth/adult a new way of engaging with the material and social world.
    These competencies are acquired by a common process of development, are universal and almost invariant across cultures.

    2) Cognitive development is a slow, incremental evolutionary process in which competencies are emergent, contingent properties. Early concepts of identity, place and position conservation are first developed in narrow specific instances before general application. That is then guided by ‘natural selection’ of the utile rule.
    The form of these competencies is shaped by the social and material context. Not just in terms of what abilities are acquired when, but in terms of how those abilities are reified into distinct invariant abilities. Like species, competencies evolve over time, in response to their history, not in an inevitable arc towards some Apollonian ideal.

    The epistemology of causation that is extant in the social context a child inhabits can significantly alter the process and end form of cognitive abilities.

    —————

    Obviously Piaget is benign, and benificial to child education, if only as an improvement on ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’. But to equate its sucess with explanitory, or even descriptive accuracy may be unwise.

  243. Mal Adapted says:

    For the record, I realize my PoV is highly US-centric, but that’s because I’m a US citizen; and because I’m convinced the US, just as it’s responsible for the lion’s share of the problem, can make a proportionate contribution to the solution. Amirite?

  244. zebra says:

    @Mal,

    No, I think the Obama administration made enormous progress, and the HRC administration would have expanded on that. I doubt “slowed warming measurably in a few years”, as I’ve explained in comments here that you could easily find, but that’s not relevant. Winning the other two elections would have been a big deal.

    The point is, the scope of Obama’s historic and encouraging victory had very little to do with climate change!.

    I don’t really know how to say this any more clearly than I have just now and on other posts here– there aren’t that many if you want to look at them. Do I think that the election outcomes would have been different if there were some more Climate Hawks? No, because there are lots of young Climate Hawks already….who don’t vote. Or vote for Jill Stein because they are influenced by Russian Trolls. And so on.

    Look, you need to try to expand on this yourself and try to see where I’m coming from, and if you do that maybe I can clarify. I don’t like just repeating exactly the same stuff that I’ve already commented on multiple times, without some framework/feedback.

  245. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Perhaps it is the British taste for irony and irreverence that tends to mean we apportion our regard for someone in inverse proportion to the degree of self-regard they display.

    Yah. Well, my tribe is often associated with self-deprecating humor.

    Trump..!

    Ugh. Hard to imagine a more embarrassing personification of the American stereotype.

    Obviously Piaget is benign, and benificial to child education, if only as an improvement on ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’. But to equate its sucess with explanitory, or even descriptive accuracy may be unwise.

    In what manner are you thinking? My belief, from a backgeound as an educator, is that Piaget outlined fundamental “truths” in the mechanics of how people learn. Of course, individuals diverge from a straight-up generic Piagetian model in varying degrees, but IMO, a lack of understanding of the fundamental “truths” of that model go a long way towards explaining why so many people flounder about fretting over why climate communication is such a hard nut to crack. One single aspect of Piagetian theory, the interplay between accommodation and assimilation, is, IMO, a key insight for framing the real world dynamics of the climate wars. I don’t agree that the value of Piagetian modeling is limited to working with children. I think it’s interesting that both Rowson and Peterson hold Piaget in such high regard and find much contemporary relevance to society more generally (and with Rowson, relevance to the image wars). It’s also interesting that apparently Einstein found relevance beyond the limitations you apparently think apply.

  246. Joshua says:

    Geeze… Rowson…climate wars not image wars….

  247. Willard says:

    > I’ll go so far as to say he showed that all of the text of ‘Social Text’ could easily be nothing but crap.

    They showed nothing of the sort. What they did was two-fold. First, they misinterpreted the role of metaphors in communication. Second, they reinforced their prejudices in naive realism by misrepresenting constructivism. So as I see it they’re just promoting reactionary nonsense.

    Think of it this way. If what Sokal & Bricmont are saying is true, everything you said and did so far on this blog is crap. While I think we should embrace crappiness (more on that next week, hopefully), I don’t think we should go so far as to embrace reactionary nonsense, fashionable or not.

  248. Willard says:

    > [T]o equate its sucess with explanitory, or even descriptive accuracy may be unwise.

    Many aspects of Piaget’s theories stood the test of experimental time. Many misconceptions surrounding them too, for that matter:

    The developmental theory of Jean Piaget has been criticized on the grounds that it is conceptually limited, empirically false, or philosophically and epistemologically untenable. This study attempts to rebut these criticisms by showing that most of them (a) derive from widespread misinterpretations of the work of Piaget; (b) fail to appreciate the 2 central issues of his thinking—how new forms of thinking emerge during ontogenesis and how they become psychologically necessary; (c) incorrectly assume that many controversies concerning his theory can be settled empirically or methodologically before they are clarified conceptually; (d) ignore various modifications of Piagetian theory, particularly those advanced after 1970; and (e) forget the dialectical, constructivist, and developmental nature of Piaget’s unique approach to human development. Although the authors do not claim there is a “true” Piaget to be discovered, or that the problems with his theory vanish when it is better understood, they do claim that important aspects of Piaget’s work have not been assimilated by developmental psychologists.

    http://psycnet.apa.org/record/1996-01716-006

    Cognitive sciences still owe a great deal to Piaget, and I’m saying this as a closet behavorist.

  249. Joshua says:

    Btw, this speaks well to the alarmism shared by Peterson, Haidt, etc..

    https://d28htnjz2elwuj.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/27154100/fs-survey-01-toplines.pdf

    A recent survey of college students conducted by FIRE (the very group that has done the most to raise the alarm) indicates that the vast majority of students, including conservatives, feel relatively uninhibited in expressing their views. In response to a question about the appropriate reaction to a speaker who holds repugnant political views, only 2 percent chose “make noise during the speaker’s event so he/she can’t be heard,” and just 1 percent chose “use violent or disruptive actions to prevent the event from occurring.” Generally speaking, American attitudes regarding free speech have held steady, suggesting that college radicals are not altering national opinions of the First Amendment.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/people-always-think-students-are-hostile-to-speech-they-never-really-are/2018/03/15/cc53cc3a-286c-11e8-bc72-077aa4dab9ef_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-f%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6fd2f4d223fc

  250. @zebra, @Mal,

    Old story. Obama didn’t do enough, per unit time in office. Indeed, any careful student of his environmental policy shows he/his Congress made wheels run backwards compared to Bush/Clinton/Bush, and I would expect HRC would do even less. (Not comprehensive, but the last serious climate change-oriented waste consumption study by the EPA was done in 2009.) Obviously, she would have been better than President Curley.

    Still, I’m rather tired of blaming leadership for lack of progress. Trump doesn’t make anyone buy anything, or run their businesses in the way they do. People don’t have to buy bottled water. And they don’t have to complain when a neighbor proposes putting up a ground-mounted PV on their property. So, I’d say, to some extent they and their kids deserve what’s comin’ for ’em.

  251. Michael 2 says:

    Mal Adapted writes “can make a proportionate contribution to the solution. Amirite?”

    Probably not. I don’t know the current national debt but I would be delighted for my representatives to stop spending money they don’t have just as I am seldom permitted to spend money *I* don’t have.

  252. Michael 2 says:

    hypergeometric writes “A lot of people, notably many Americans just don’t believe those, as difficult as it is to imagine.”

    What is difficult to imagine is how to prove what you believe to be true to a typical American, not that there is any such thing. Let’s say, a third generation American living in a small town in Wisconsin; most of his ancestors were from Sweden and he is a dairy farmer that produces famous Wisconsin cheese.

    The question comes to him whether the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, or whether the sun isn’t moving but the Earth is revolving; but the sun also is rotating and revolving around the center of the galaxy; and the galaxy is also rotating and revolving in its cluster, and so on.

    He says, “Sorry, gotta go milk the cows!” You see, it doesn’t matter to him. It might not even matter to you, but when each here says “we” it is important to establish who belongs and who does not. I propose that whoever can recite Pi from memory to the greatest number of digits will become the Lorenz Attractor, the “me” of “we”. I’m good for 13 digits. How about you?

  253. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “One single aspect of Piagetian theory, the interplay between accommodation and assimilation, is, IMO, a key insight for framing the real world dynamics of the climate wars.”

    I should defer to you and Willard as better informed on this subject. But I made the mistake of watching some more JPeterson, interested in how he dealt with Buddha after disparaging atheists for believing that morality was possible without a supernatural transcendent source. So in a 2 1/2 hours of a lecture on Buddha and Genesis, there were 12 mins comparing a rather florid folk-tale of Buddha as a child with the garden of Eden story.
    Nothing on how morality is derived in that religious tradition!
    He also claimed that Piaget was primarily concerned with defending the western Judeo-Christian tradition.

    So with the caveat that I am not directly involved in using these concept, my reading is shallow and much of my opinion is shaped by D-K, and driven by an overdeveloped distrust of ANY formal system that claims to find normative forms of cognition…

    The definitions of assimilation and accommodation make the distinction that assimilation is incorporation of new experience into existing schema, and accommodation is a change in a schema that alters our experience of existing experience.

    Top Shelf False Choice ?

    As a contingent, historical process I doubt any assimilation is possible without some accommodation, they are gradations that are distorted by making a clear, reified distinction.

    I accept such tools of differentiation are useful, but suspect they are bikini concepts.

  254. Dave_Geologist says:

    zebra

    the scope of Obama’s historic and encouraging victory had very little to do with climate change

    Mal can speak for himself, but as a Transatlantic observer, I would not advocate using climate change as a lever to persuade Americans to reject Republican candidates (because to vote Republican is to be complicit in denial). It doesn’t have the same emotional traction as, for example, “I’d never vote Democrat because abortion, or because gay marriage, or because Affirmative Action (and of course I’m not a racist)”.

    Nor would I expect it to work. The widespread political acceptance in Europe of AGW did not come about because it was supported by Left parties and they were voted in by people with concerns about climate change. Denial in Europe is the domain of the far right (generally with 15±10% support) and the ultrareligious. Plus commercial interests and think-tanks of course, who believe AGW is real but lie as well as deny. Indeed the (soft) Left is in decline in Europe, and Margaret Thatcher, who’d be considered well to the right of the current and previous UK Conservative governments, and a very long way to the right of Merkel and Macron, gave a speech to the UN warning about it back in 1989. Of course Thatcher, like Merkel and unlike most politicians on either flank, trained as a scientist.

    My pessimistic view is that in the USA, the cart and the horse are the other way round. In the medium term, climate progress will only be achieved when Democrats are elected, for reasons other than climate change. Climate action will be dragged along on the Democrats’ coat-tails.

  255. Dave_Geologist says:

    Willard

    Not having studied a thing is the best way to get to “Janus” sentences, an interesting howler for anyone who studied mythology or pragmatics.

    I’m not just going on Sokal’s hoax. My avid reading takes me from time to papers in peer-reviewed journals from major publishers, but a couple of pages in they read just like Sokal’s hoax. Not just in the silly liberties they take with science, but in the ambiguous writing, so I can’t tell what’s a metaphor and what’s to be taken literally (but is trivially disprovable). It’s such a consistent pattern (admittedly from a sample of only a dozen or so) that I’ve concluded that the ambiguity is a feature not a bug. Which plays into the caricature that nothing is objectively true (hence the invitation to test the reality of gravity by jumping out of Sokal’s skyscraper window, or the assertion that any Post-Modernist sitting in an aircraft is a hypocrite or a crazy risk-take).

    Genuine question – is that what I would find if I dug deeper? I find it hard to believe, particularly as English Lit departments are anecdotally where US PoMo came from, that the authors can’t write unambiguous text when they want to,

    If so, I can see a place for it in Lit Crit but not in science. Perhaps in the Sociology of Science or in Science Studies, but to get traction outside the PoMo world, and most especially with scientists, they have to cut the ambiguity and say what they actually mean. I’m used to reading, reviewing and editing papers where lack of clarity would have got Einstein sent back to do major revision.

  256. Dave_Geologist says:

    you are assuming that this TCRE value is in some way valid

    Isn’t the point that TCRE is a valid number, as long as you don’t forget the magic word “transient”.

    Just as all models are wrong but some are useful, so TCR can be useful, for example, in weeding out climate models which fit history (or with lots of caveats, short-term natural fluctuations) well from those which don’t.

    TCR is probably not useful in determining emissions policy, because evidence overwhelmingly points to equilibrium sensitivity, let alone earth-system sensitivity, being higher due to positive feedbacks.

    It can also be used define a cannot-be-less-than baseline, as long as you realise that it’s the best of all best-possible cases. And that to use it as a basis for planning is equivalent to going into a dice game with an expectation that you’ll roll a double-six every time.

    Of course in the real world most of the people who appear to be comfortable with that ludicrous degree of risk-taking are probably just using it as a rhetorical tool, don’t believe in AGW anyway, and are just deploying a different delaying tactic.

  257. Dave_Geologist says:

    Willard

    First, they misinterpreted the role of metaphors in communication.

    Call me old-fashioned, but to me metaphors have no role in communication between scientists. Except insofar as they’re explicitly identified as metaphors. Know your audience, and a scientific audience, outside popular articles or TV shows, assumes that everything you’ve written is intended to be literally true.

    Of course they’re valuable in communicating with lay-people, but again IMHO should always be explicitly identified as metaphors or oversimplifications. Otherwise you get “climate science is rubbish because real greenhouses work by stopping convection, not radiation”.

    I see I’ve drifted well of-topic but will craftily make the excuse that metaphors can be useful in motivating action 😉

  258. To be fair to Dave, I too have tried to better understand the fundamentals of sociology of science (and Science and Technology Studies, in particular). I have struggled. I did recently attend a day-long meeting that focused a bit on this (which I wrote about here) and I am doing a project with some STS people. I may get there eventually 😉

  259. Dave,

    Isn’t the point that TCRE is a valid number, as long as you don’t forget the magic word “transient”.

    Yes, I would agree. It is meant to indicate how much we will warm in the coming decades, rather than how much we will warm over many centuries.

  260. zebra says:

    @Dave G,

    “for reasons other than climate change”

    Glad you agree.

  261. @Dave_Geologist,

    My pessimistic view is that in the USA, the cart and the horse are the other way round. In the medium term, climate progress will only be achieved when Democrats are elected, for reasons other than climate change. Climate action will be dragged along on the Democrats’ coat-tails.

    Yes, that would be unfortunate.

    The long term challenge ahead is how to build a robust market economy based upon something other than exponentially increasing consumption. That’s not a challenge which naturally aligns itself with a Democratic perspective. It is more of a Republican perspective, or could be, but they can’t own the entire thing either.

    Alas, more and more, the words “market crash” keep reverberating in my head.

  262. zebra says:

    @hyper-g,

    “robust market economy based on something other than exponentially increasing consumption”

    Someone once said: “If you cut the US population in half, you would reduce emissions by 75%, and everyone would be more prosperous.”

    I even prefer “Liquidation of Natural Capital” to “emissions”, to include all kinds of environmental insults.

    If you want to maximize the “robustness” while minimizing the “consumption”, this seems like a pretty simple fix. Many (“good”) things follow from having a large ratio of resources to population.

  263. BBD says:

    Chances of an elective population reduction in the US of >50%?

    Things that just aren’t going to happen aren’t really the stuff of compelling arguments.

  264. The culture war in the USA is fully joined over guns, abortion, gay marriage, and climate change and I don’t see a peace that can be negotiated in the US culture war. However, climate change will be decoupled from the culture war if/when/as the Rs have their “come to Jesus” moment and realize that burning of fossil fuels is not sanctified in the bible or the bill of rights and that for political and survival reasons they have to accept the science of climate change and what it means for all of God’s creation or embrace the end days. They could hang on to the other culture war themes and move to embrace science ever-so-slightly. You know, earth is round and orbits the sun, CO2 in atmosphere warms the planet, really the most basic stuff, Christians won’t have to accept quantum mechanics, Heisenberg principle etc.

    The difficulty with decoupling climate change from the culture wars is that a lot of christian fundamentalists are ready to embrace the end days madness of Revelations and think that the Rapture is more trustworthy than climate change science. God help us.

  265. Mal Adapted says:

    Michael 2:

    Mal Adapted writes “can make a proportionate contribution to the solution. Amirite?”

    Probably not. I don’t know the current national debt but I would be delighted for my representatives to stop spending money they don’t have just as I am seldom permitted to spend money *I* don’t have.I would be delighted for my representatives to stop spending money they don’t have just as I am seldom permitted to spend money *I* don’t have.

    LOL, way to gratuitously miss the point, pal 8^D! I still can’t decide if you are fiendishly clever or merely obtuse. Has it occurred to you that ‘contribution’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘from public funds’? It doesn’t need to be voluntary, either, except in the collective sense, which (in the US, at least) won’t require your consent, only that of a bare plurality of voters. I support a national revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend with border adjustment tariff, myself.

    CF&D with BAT is revenue-neutral because all the revenue is returned to consumers as a periodic dividend (Captain Obvious says “that means the gubmint don’t git none”). Yet because every consumer receives the same dividend, and dividends are decoupled in time from fuel purchases, the downward pressure of consumer thrift on fuel prices is preserved.

    Did I mention that CF&D/BAT is revenue-neutral, M2?

    CF&D with BAT is a progressive tax, because although lower-income consumers spend proportionately more of their incomes on energy, they spend fewer total dollars than higher-income consumers do. Giving every consumer the same-sized dividend results in a net downward income transfer.

    A national per-tonne carbon fee, collected from all domestic fossil fuel producers at the well/mine/port of entry, simplifies accounting and allows each producer to decide how much of the fee to pass along to consumers. Most if not all of the bureaucratic apparatus to implement CF&D with BAT at the national level is already in place. The BAT, collected from importers of manufactured goods based on ’embodied’ carbon, reduces the incentive to ‘offshore’ (figuratively, at least) production, a problem that’s easier to address at the national than state or lower levels.

    To the extent that demand for fossil fuels is price-elastic, CF&D with BAT will immediately reduce fossil carbon emissions while creating demand for carbon-neutral ‘alternative’ energy. Over time the revenues, left in private hands, will motivate entrepreneurs to ramp up R&D and production of alternatives, shifting investment away from fossil fuels and driving the crucial transition to a carbon-neutral US economy. And with the BAT, the aggregate buying power of US consumers encourages our trading partners to follow our lead, preferably by purchasing our technological and manufacturing expertise.

    Those are the arguments for a national, revenue-neutral CF&D with BAT. While waiting for that national plurality of voters, I’ll be glad to see things like: property tax rebates for rooftop solar, that use local tax money to increase distributed renewable energy sources; or state-wide requirements for public utilities to provide a specified percentage of renewable electricity, promoting investment in renewable supplies at the expense of fossil fuel production; or administrative withdrawals of federal public lands from oil and gas extraction, that restrict supply.

  266. Michael 2 says:

    Mal Adapted writes: “To the extent that demand for fossil fuels is price-elastic”

    Which in my opinion is very low for commuters, higher for luxury users and yacht owners, so the incidence of the tax will be felt most strongly on middle class workers.

    Other than that, I commend your writing. It is comprehensive, as succinct as such a thing can be, and relatively viewpoint neutral; applicable to fears of future shortages of fuel or climate change, whichever is the thing you fear.

  267. Michael 2 says:

    izen writes “disparaging atheists for believing that morality was possible without a supernatural transcendent source.”
    Perhaps he meant “universal morality” since it is easy to observe that atheists, and most people do have a sense of morality — it just isn’t aligned with anyone else’s sense of morality. This is why Rosseau (*) speaks of the need for that transcendent source to “glue” society together; a source of authority that does not die of old age.
    * One of these days I’m going to track down some actual quotes but its in there somewhere in his writings on the Social Contract.

  268. Greg Robie says:

    It must be Monday…

    There is a “time-to-get-down-to-business” feel to some of what I seeing today. So allow me follow suit. In terms of an ‘averaged’ human psyche, science is, as it initially was, just another philosophy. In this context what constitutes the sciences’ knowledge is just another story. Stories matter. Integrated stories matter more. Integrated stories that explain observed phenomenon matter the most. What defines this gradation is perceived social relevance.

    Social relevance tends to be determined by experience. As most who hang out here at ATTP are likely to recall, the future secondary school dumb jock took your lunch/lunch money in primary school. The cheerleader types piled on in secondary school by snubbing authentic geek feelings and desires and dated the jocks. Stories: might makes right; possession is 9/10ths of the law. Short simple axioms. Told, experienced, learned, and trusted.

    In the distribution of IQ among the population, the percentage of those both with IQs below and above the range that’s defined as normal is the same: about 2.5%. While the significant minority with the lowest IQs struggle to learn the knowledge of even simple stories, those with the highest IQs are so traumatized by the experiences of their youth that the collaboration necessary to effect an integrated knowledge-as-story is challenged on multiple fronts. Bullying and shunning are deeply engrained in the psyche. Even if crafting the integration was easy, the social skills are for doing so are stunted … and if not personally, culturally.

    The preponderance of humanity gets and follows trusted stories. The integrated story science is trying to craft is only going to be heard to the degree the institutions employing scientists walk the knowledge of that integrated story. Not only does physics define knowledge as action, social attention does.

    In the meantime (and with a certainty greater than 95%?), climate sciences are bereft of a socially pertinent story. Personal brilliance about minutiae is crowed about, but there are so many pompous roosters crowing louder and louder about less and less (integral to academia’s siloed career advancement dynamics, that the general population of hens learn to affect an I-ain’t-paying-attention-to-the-crowing-until-you’re-pointing-to-something-I-can-eat behavior.

    What is done with this story is yet a choice … but it likely includes a different behavior toward those who have been silenced and/or shunned.

    Jordan Peterson was a new face and voice for me. I spent three hours on Sunday listening here: https://youtu.be/6G59zsjM2UI. To my ear he was not even a prat in this interview/discussion on Joe Rogan’s podcasts with evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein. But they all collude to not see the [responsibility] free markets of GREED-as-go[]d CapitalismFail as an ideology; a parasitical meme built on a religious substructure (Irony: Jordan didn’t have trouble labeling the anti-capitalism SJW meme [built as a sub-substructure on a religious substructure?] an ideology). OK, if this wasn’t because of motivated reasoning, a bit of a prat … and prats/prigs/berks-R-Us [if I spoke UK English!]. 😉

  269. zebra says:

    @Mal,

    “while waiting for that national plurality of voters”

    Except, you need more than a national plurality, because this requires those wonderful folk called Senators and Representatives, and our system is not one-person-one-vote.

  270. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    you need more than a national plurality, because this requires those wonderful folk called Senators and Representatives, and our system is not one-person-one-vote.

    You’re right of course, but IMO we’re still not that far away from an effective plurality, i.e. one vote more than enough, in a few key elections, to overcome plutocratic obstructionism.

    In any case, I’ll lay the blame where it belongs, namely on one too many of my friends and neighbors. What disturbs me about Trump isn’t so much that he won by skulduggery, but that he actually got as many votes as he did. Still, if I can’t depend on at least 28% of my fellow Americans to discern simple truth from blatant falsehood in the voting booth, popular sovereignty has no hope for a positive outcome here, and I’m not ready to accept that. There must be some way to improve those numbers just enough!

  271. The US is an oligarchy with democracy window dressing. It’s foolish to think that the Dems can/will address global warming if they control Congress and the WH and can theoretically enact legislation. I direct your attention to the 2010-2012 legislative record if you need confirmation. Change will come when the Rs embrace the science of global warming and recognize that things must change. For now, I step back from legislative fixes because 1. It’s an oligarchy and the oligarchs are not interested in change. 2. Pushing for Dem control of WH and Congress is a recipe for frustration and 3. Pushing dems or republicans on the topic just creates a counterpush on the part of conservatives to protect the status quo. 4. Stepping back may create a vacuum that pulls the legislators into addressing the issue, but pushing them toward the issue with petitions etc. just hardens positions.

    Courts and initiative action make some sense, but the federal judiciary is packed with rightwingers and libertarians and that bodes poorly for the success of these actions. Deep trouble. God help us.

  272. Mal Adapted says:

    smallbluemike:

    I direct your attention to the 2010-2012 legislative record if you need confirmation.

    Yeah, but who elected those guys? Not to be glib, but the fundamental problem is still too many Republicans and/or not enough Democrats voting in key elections.

  273. Mal Adapted says:

    M2:

    Mal Adapted writes: “To the extent that demand for fossil fuels is price-elastic”

    Which in my opinion is very low for commuters, higher for luxury users and yacht owners, so the incidence of the tax will be felt most strongly on middle class workers.

    Oh, good grief. Ignoring M2’s admitted lack of empirical support, will somebody else point out his fallacious reasoning here while I get my breath back?

    Other than that, I commend your writing. It is comprehensive, as succinct as such a thing can be,

    Thanks, I suppose, but you’re still an AGW-denier:

    and relatively viewpoint neutral; applicable to fears of future shortages of fuel or climate change, whichever is the thing you fear.

    You just can’t penetrate the delusion that AGW is an ideological construct, can you? As for “fears of future shortages of fuel”, denial of basic economics is no more respectable than denial of basic physics.

  274. Mal Adapted says:

    Anticipating accusations that AGW is an ideological construct for me: the Republican/Democrat ratio matters only because within the last 50 years, the GOP has inexplicably become the anti-science party in our defacto two-party system.

  275. @Mal Adapted,

    As for “fears of future shortages of fuel”, denial of basic economics is no more respectable than denial of basic physics.

    Perhaps.

    But Economics is a complete invention: There is no reason to suppose any number of other economic constructs would work just as well. And, worse, the abstractions of classical economic analysis are idealizations which don’t work well in practice, being both irrational and possibly inefficient, except for highly specialized markets (per Kahneman, Twersky, Shleifer, etc). See also The Economist‘s take on Glaeser’s co-authored paper.

  276. Mal Adapted says:

    hypergeometric:

    But Economics is a complete invention: There is no reason to suppose any number of other economic constructs would work just as well.

    I agree that Economics is squishier (deliberately ambiguous here) than Physics, but Economics isn’t a complete invention either, and no science can claim one-to-one mapping to noumenal reality. Explaining and predicting the space-time continuum, within which human behavior is surely a legitimate target of investigation, inevitably starts with constructs like ‘data’ and ‘hypothesis’, assuming the prerequisite construction of ‘space-time continuum’ and even ‘reality’*. ‘Market’ may be a construct, but if the price of a gallon of gasoline went up by a dollar tomorrow, there would be real-world consequences. And if someone offered to double your current salary to work for them, ceteris paribus (yeah, yeah) it’s not going out on a limb to predict you’d accept.

    * post-Po-Mo, this is why I say “intersubjectively-verifiable” rather than “objective” WRT good ol’ reality. Yet science still works as well as it does, and strawman radical deconstructionism is refuted by kicking a rock.

  277. @mal: the truth is that we generally don’t know who elects the legislators. To the extent that the design is that voters should elect the legislators, then you have to look at vote suppression, unlimited money in campaigns, black box voting (aka lack of paper trail for each vote) and gerrymandering. Once you consider those issues, one logical conclusion is that the oligarchs are generally in charge of establishing the true political makeup of the legislature.

    All dems are not created equal. A CA or MA dem is pretty liberal compared to a dem elected from say, OK or TX (I think that still happens occasionally).

    I don’t want to make too much of this, but it is complicated, like the calculation of fuel consumption by airplanes and how that changes from takeoff to cruise at altitude. The devil is in the details. I stand by my position that significant change on global warming will only be possible in the US when the Rs start to get worried. You can talk with them if you like. I am just listening to them these days. If they say, wow, hot weather, too many tornadoes, too much flooding etc. that is my cue to say, “huh? what do you make of that? why is that happening? Bad luck?”

    have to be prepared to hear that it’s the Rothschilds behind it. No reason to argue, it just hardens positions and advances the culture wars… but I might say, “well, I am pretty sure it’s not the Rothschilds, better do your homework on that one.”

    Cheers

    Mike

  278. Willard says:

    > Call me old-fashioned, but to me metaphors have no role in communication between scientists.

    Prefacing a comment against metaphor with “called me old-fashioned” looks self-defeating to me, DaveG. Strictly speaking, fashion is something related to clothing, i.e. the King’s, and by extension all the know-how to create it. It actually comes from an old French word, and got transferred to England through Normandy, who made “façon” sound like “faichoun.”

    Beyond communication, scientific metaphors abound. Take any scientific model. Atoms. DNA. Even tectonic plates. Nobody would say they’re really plates, would they? Which brings me to your “objective reality” jab. Again, I am quite confident than even the worse PoMo you could find would acknowledge that an external reality exists. It is our relationship to it that is problematic, and this is the problem that the “PoMo says reality doesn’t exist, lulz” strawman bypasses. Please refer to my portable PoMo for more on that:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/portable-pomo/

    Positing the existence of an external reality independent from ourselves is older than Plato. He substantiates that position through his dialogues by criticizing abstract concepts Socrates’ interlocutors took for granted. I duly submit that PoMo’s criticism aligns itself with very old-fashioned ways of analyzing concepts, even if we usually trace it back to Kant, or perhaps Nietzsche, or the Parisians who got inspired by phenomenology, structuralism, and marxism. As you can see, we’re far from the American literature departments.

    I’m not saying there are no merits in your concerns regarding how this kind of lichurchur developed. On the contrary, as I had to suffer it even before it became fashionable in the anglosphere, I am very well placed to understand how unpalatable it is. But I would not reduce it to fashionable nonsense. In fact, more often than not I hear that recrimination by people who haven’t really took much time trying to figure out what was being done.

    Take your “but falsifiability” jab. That reality exists isn’t really falsifiable either. It’s just an assumption by which we go on with our lives. It’s quite robust, and there’s little point paying any due diligence to it most of the times. But there are times when suspending our belief regarding it makes sense. Falsificationism doesn’t cut any ice.

    PoMo is more empirical than we may presume. It’s a way to analyze our concepts in context, so it implies people, history, and power relations. The point of it is not to discover something “out there,” but to interpret how humans interact with one another in a way that would transform it for the better.

    That’s it for now. This note reminds me to add this reason to my next post about the need to embrace crappiness: it’s not worth the time to try to criticize it. IMHO, it’s just better to let it be. Some like progressive rock. Some don’t. There’s little point in trying to offer a rational argument as to why progressive rock shouldn’t exist. The same applies to PoMo and most crap, unless it’s crap we care about so much we take time to make better crap out of it.

  279. Mal Adapted says:

    smb:

    I stand by my position that significant change on global warming will only be possible in the US when the Rs start to get worried.

    I’m trying to figure out if anything I’ve said contradicts that. I’d loudly applaud a Republican candidate who publicly accepted the reality of AGW (like Jon Huntsman, or John McCain prior to 2008 if not today), and I’d make a determined effort to hold his feet to the fire subsequently.

    I’d also welcome a vote for a Democratic candidate by an R voter, just as much as one by a previously non-voting D. Either gets us one vote closer to an effective plurality.

  280. ‘Market’ may be a construct, but if the price of a gallon of gasoline went up by a dollar tomorrow, there would be real-world consequences. And if someone offered to double your current salary to work for them, ceteris paribus (yeah, yeah) it’s not going out on a limb to predict you’d accept.

    There might be real-world consequences for gasoline, but the market response is not always clear. People are more likely to buy certain products if the prices are higher, not less. For instance, prices on certain vacation hotel rooms, or bottles of wine.) And, in my case, because I make a comfortable living, like my work and colleagues, love my location, I would not take another job if they offered me 10x what I am being paid at present, especially if it meant a move.

    I don’t think abstract Economics does a very good job at these. At best they predict behavior for some fictitious average buyer or market, and I have learned to disbelieve in means and simple variances as being sufficient statistics of any kind.

  281. @mal: we just have slightly, but distinctly different takes on the political parties and it’s no big deal to me. I don’t want or need to get under your skin about any of this. My take is that legislators of both parties are likely to make show votes in favor of something when they know the actual vote count will go against that thing and then they will avoid casting the same vote when the same thing would pass. I don’t care if important climate legislation passes because “we” have elected more democrats. I care if important climate legislation passes. Period. I am not talking about Rs voting for D candidates or more D voters voting for D candidates, I am talking about Rs and Ds voting together to pass important climate legislation. I think that is the only way this can happen.

    Just remind me, did the Dems pass any important climate legislation in the two years when they had majority in Congress and controlled the WH? I think the answer is no. 2010, right? A lot of us knew we had a big global warming problem in 2010 and the Dems passed no significant legislation. I believe the global warming problem is too large for a political party to fix, so we will see important climate legislation when R leglislators are so worried that they are willing to vote in favor of something like a carbon tax. At the point that even 10-15% of R legislators are so worried about global warming that they will vote for a carbon tax (or other important climate legislation), the game will change/end and we can hope to see important climate legislation passed on a bipartisan basis.

    Anyone who believes electing enough Dems is the answer to climate legislation should practice field goals, Peanuts-style, with Lucy as the holder. Don’t be surprised if the ball is not there when you try the kick. Have I made this more clear? Charlie Brown and Lucy need to be from opposing parties, but their commitment to getting the legislation passed has to be profound and real. Not a show, no tricks. Pass the legislation because both important players in both parties know this has to be done.

  282. @smallbluemike,

    Yeah, this is precisely why my enthusiasm for political solutions to these problems has waned from two years back, and why, I think, the only human organizations capable of dealing with this are corporations who see it in their self interest to do so. This also informs my opposition to progressive attempts to hamstring corporations in their political influence and such. This is, in some circles, not a popular view.

    It’s turning out, it seems to me, that the problem of climate change is one which the United States Constitution is completely incapable of solving, and, thus, is a failure of that Great Experiment. Oh well.

  283. Greg Robie says:

    With smallbluemike as the muse:

    The US economy is a democracy defining its oligarchy. Isn’t it wisdom that remembers that when the Democratic political party controlled both Congress and the WH in 2009, ACES was introduced in the House, and CEJAP considered in the Senate. Both were ~2000+ page lobbyist crafted greenwash. President Obama expended no political capital regarding these pieces of legislation. Like the Democratic political party’s sole piece of climate legislation from 2005 (to extend Daylight Savings Time starting in 2007), and but for motivated reasoning, there is a political pattern of avoiding scientifically significant climate policy. The inclusive and united ‘Democratic Party’ of CapitalismFail votes daily for this political duplicity. Change will come when the sovereignty lost with the 1913 Federal Reserve Act is redressed. The economy is a democracy and we’re all for greenwashed BAU; the status quo. Until, or unless that, as our climate policy, is given a talking to in the language it has to hear (i.e., serious talk of an economic boycott of the US by the UK/EU), democracy has spoken; continues to speak … & change happens!

    The US courts’ implementation of the rule of law is all but intransigent to deciding against stare decisis. Hyper-G’s current blog post links to a reminder from US history of a lot of things that should be part of an understanding of our time … & from when there was yet national sovereignty; from when the economy was not the monoculture of the Democracy it has become: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Massachusetts. What is there in that story-in-the-making is why Juliana v United States is our time’s Rubicon.

    History teaches us that ours is the time of tyranny AND revolution. The remaining choice – and rather paradoxically– is how non-violently we make this transition into chaos. Or, as attributed here (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helps_those_who_help_themselves), “God helps those who help themselves.”

    BUT!!! (and !&?/%!#?!)

    It is always wise to be working on redressing the correct problem if the intention is to solved one. Doesn’t this start by rejecting the thinking (and feelings) that creates and recreates the perceived problem so one is able to imagine what that problem is? Isn’t this integral to metanoia and crafting a new/remembering an old trusted social narrative?

  284. Greg Robie says:

    Re auto-moderation, I just posted a two link comment, my bad. So with this confession, let me add this system map to the thread regarding the point that our time as one of tyranny AND revolution … and an entry into chaos. https://mobile.twitter.com/OpenToInfo/status/975694247742660608

  285. Joshua says:

    Off topic –

    A question for my British buds at ATTP: can any Channel 4 documentary be trusted in any way? (I ask because I remember the phony documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle.”)

  286. Joshua,
    I’m not completely sure, but my impression is that Channel 4 can indeed be quite good at times.

  287. Joshua says:

    Thanks.

  288. BBD says:

    A question for my British buds at ATTP: can any Channel 4 documentary be trusted in any way?

    Yes, by and large. TGGWS was a long time ago. And CA does seem every bit as rotten as you’d expect from a Mercer / Bannon production favoured by Brexiteers and Trump. Carole Cadwalladr’s been on this from the off. She deserves a medal, IMO. Others might benefit from custodial sentences.

  289. BBD says:

    Sorry – somehow messed the link up above: Brexiteers

  290. Dave_Geologist says:

    can any Channel 4 documentary be trusted in any way?

    It depends 😉 . None of the modern stuff is as good as the old Equinox series. It’s quite hit-and-miss so I suspect it depends very much on the producer. And it tends to fall into the trap of One Discovery to Rule Them All. E.g. our knowledge of Roman archaeology will be overturned by one key find at one key site. Sometimes with a presenter in tow (so there’s a time-limit to find it yet they always do 😉 ), sometimes by an amateur. If you mean “does it have a consistent agenda to lie about science its owners don’t like”, no.

    TGGWS was, as has been said, a long time ago. And a bit of a one-off so I suspect it was smuggled past the scientifically ignorant management by an insider with an axe to grind. They did then double down and defend it though, when they should really have come clean and said “we’ve been had”. Because it was a doco it wasn’t covered by the rather strict requirements placed on network news programmes in the UK on accuracy and lack of bias. And IIRC the regulator wasn’t much help. Essentially they found that the science was factually incorrect but because there was a clear scientific consensus available to the public, there was no need to correct it. Whereas an inaccurate story about a public figure’s sex life, for example, would have required a correction. They used the dog-ate-my-homework excuse to dodge questions about the fake IPCC graph they used. The one where they cut off the last few years (too warm) and the date axis, and patched in a new false date axis to conceal the cropping.

    You don’t just have to watch out for Channel 4 though. BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme was a Wakefield enabler and apologist for years. And they did it again recently (last year?) when they had Wakefield’s US business partner on as an “expert” on vaccines. I have the same theory there. An influential presenter or producer can occasionally smuggle stuff under the radar. I could make a case for either of the two presenters who were present at both times (the contrarian organic farmer because it’s “not natural” or the working mother because “middle-class* Mums know best”). But someone behind the scenes might be the better bet. (S)he’d been rotated onto other duties, came back at a more senior level, and tried again. It was jumped on hard so hopefully won’t happen again. Oh no, now I’m turning into a conspiracy theorist 😦

    * UK middle class, i.e. well-paid managers professionals

  291. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Best Channel 4 documentary was Brass Eye 😉

  292. Mal Adapted says:

    smb:

    Anyone who believes electing enough Dems is the answer to climate legislation should practice field goals, Peanuts-style, with Lucy as the holder. Don’t be surprised if the ball is not there when you try the kick. Have I made this more clear? Charlie Brown and Lucy need to be from opposing parties, but their commitment to getting the legislation passed has to be profound and real. Not a show, no tricks. Pass the legislation because both important players in both parties know this has to be done.

    Well, Linus, I’ve run into Lucies repeatedly in my 65 years, and I’ve found politicians as a class to be no more trustworthy than the framers of the US Constitution did. Forget “good government”: we can’t even count on the consciences of politicians to drive them to do what has to be done collectively. If what has to be done collectively will be done, the stark political reality is that it’s up to the voters, dog help us, to hold politicians accountable! Have I made that more clear 8^)?

    I cling nonetheless to the hope that global climate catastrophe can be averted; or, since catastrophe is in the eyes of the victims, of whom some number greater than zero are already witness, then at least that its subjective magnitude can be capped, if not while I’m alive then soon afterwards. Why do I have even that faint hope? I’m glad you asked ;^)! It’s because, while American liberal democracy undeniably has led to uncounted individual tragedies around the world [hey, nobody’s perfect -MA], we could very easily have turned out even worse. Why haven’t we?

    The original architects of our political system agreed [as do I, for the most part -MA] with Thomas Paine: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” The founders preferred to have no government at all, yet as men of the world (sorry, but it’s not my fault history records they were virtually all men), they wanted still more to forestall government in its worst state. They knew that someone would hold power; and that power tended to accrue to the man who wanted it the most, and scrupled the least to take it by any means expedient.

    The founders of our country knew as well, first hand, that powerful men have powerful enemies: men who in their lust for power, and even their plausibly sincere differences of opinion, were all too willing to go for their guns. The framers of our Constitution designed to take advantage of that, with checks and balances carefully distributed among separate, equally powerful branches of government, and specifying both a court of last resort and a government monopoly on violence, to keep even strongly held differences of opinion from coming to blows; all in the hope that men like them would recognize the benefits to themselves of cooperating, and would mutually refrain from strangling their infant nation in its crib!

    Further, again as men of the Enlightenment world, the USA’s founders had a practical grasp of the mediocrity principle, believing that no (initially, white bourgeois) man’s opinion of how to govern a pluralistic republic was wiser than any other’s. They also believed the road to hell, as it were, is paved with good intentions. Yet with the rueful recognition that for better or worse, there is no higher political authority than the people [who, in accordance with the mediocrity principle, have collectively agreed we are not only all white bourgeois males but all adults legally resident within our borders -MA], the Constitution’s framers resolved on a government by popular sovereignty, “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity“. [Argue with teh Wiki, not me, about the definitions of ‘pluralistic republic’ and ‘popular sovereignty’; argue, FWIW, with the framers about the wording of the Preamble to the US Constitution -MA]

    The rest, as we say, is history. The upshot, IMHO, is that American-style government by nominal popular sovereignty diverges from any honest citizen’s ideal, with the Devil in the details as always; yet somehow we’ve managed to collectively pull up short of the brink at crucial times in our history. I can only hope we do it again at this most crucial time, because once we’re over this cliff there’s no getting back up it for millennia. Regardless, “that the situation is hopeless should not prevent us from doing our best.” (A. Leopold)

  293. @Mal_Adapted,

    Yeah, okay, but some of the safeguards enshrined in the Constitution and the intents of the Founders are getting in the way of doing good engineering of the problem. Moreover, their processes aren’t fast enough to allow us to run away from this particular tiger. I’d say they overlooked something.

  294. Joshua says:

    Thanks for the Channel 4 info.

    Given what little I knew about them from TGGWS, I had to wonder if that seriptitious video was of the James O’Keefe/Project Veritas variety, although what they taped from CA doesn’t exactly come as a shock.

  295. zebra says:

    @Mal,

    “pull up short of the brink”

    When was that? April 12, 1861? Not so much, I think.

    And that little dust-up is still going on, by different means, because of the structural flaws that were incorporated in the original document and subsequent compromises.

  296. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    “pull up short of the brink”

    When was that? April 12, 1861? Not so much, I think.

    And that little dust-up is still going on, by different means, because of the structural flaws that were incorporated in the original document and subsequent compromises.

    All true, z. Yet the Confederate States of America remain among the now 50 States of the Union, and the descendants of former slaves, whose continued enslavement the Confederacy waged war to maintain, now legally possess the full franchise. After only a century and a half, the memorials to the Confederate cause are now being pulled down by popular demand, and those incrementally-enfranchised people are gaining ground on actually being able to wield it fully. In 2018 a politician is still a politician, but in the USA, visible numbers of them are non-white non-males, albeit still mostly bourgeois. Although admittedly I’m white, male and bourgeois, IMHO it could be worse.

    By the same token: yes, it’s too late to hold global warming to 1 degree C, because we’re past that already, and are witnessing the consequences. Yes, it’s almost certainly too late to avoid 2 degrees, and its still more severe consequences. Yes, unless we act collectively to terminate the anthropogenic transfer of fossil carbon to the atmosphere, the aggregate cost of the warming it causes will rise until nobody has the wherewithal to remove carbon from geologic sequestration on a large scale any more. Yes, we could stop it before then if enough of us agree, for example, that we should all pay a few dollars more for a tankful of gasoline to run our crosstown errands. Maybe, just maybe, enough of us will.

    IOW: yes, metaphorically speaking, Americans habitually model Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice; but yes, we do occasionally think far enough ahead to halt the proliferation of magic besoms before we’re carried off by the water overflowing the cistern. We’d better be collectively able to do it again with climate change, because there’s no credible sign of any benevolent Sorcerer who’ll rescue us.

  297. Mal Adapted says:

    hyperg:

    Yeah, okay, but some of the safeguards enshrined in the Constitution and the intents of the Founders are getting in the way of doing good engineering of the problem. Moreover, their processes aren’t fast enough to allow us to run away from this particular tiger. I’d say they overlooked something.

    No shit, they overlooked the Tragedy of the Commons. Hell, they thought they were blessed with a limitless Commons by divine provenance. And their design goal was expressly to thwart attempts to engineer society. Be that as it may, it’s still the system we have to work with. We may not be able to outrun this tiger, but maybe we can get it to stop chasing us if we work together.

    Block that metaphor 8^D!

  298. Greg Robie says:

    …if we work together.

    But for the livery blinders and bit of the harnessing, which constitute trusted motivated reasoning regarding CapitalismFail, we do work together. That such is not immediately obvious when imagining the “if” of working together differently, is a tribute to the skills of the harness maker. As a metaphor, we are harnessed, as a team of ~7 billion, to a wagon tongue with limited vision and it’s delimited view shed. To think and feel different when working together requires a looking different.

    The few wild horses who have seen and whinnied whispers about the tragedy of the commons, have managed to haunt the dreams of a few of us draft beasts of burden, but, and as were the horses in Orwell’s Animal Farm, we are easily confused. When working – and increasingly all the time – we do so fully harnessed. This working together feels right. It is trusted.

    If it is whinnied and dreamed that the tiger is in the driver’s seat and holds the reigns; that the wagon tongue is hewn of GREED-as-go[]d (and mixing metaphors, that it’s perceived strength is strong in [all of us/systemic]); that the wagon load is the fractional reserve self-replicating debt in which we trust; that the harnesses and wheels are made of fossil carbon, what besides tyranny AND revolution define the direction us daft horses are pulling?

    Do we have any alternate story (in which we trust) with which we can enter metanoia; break free of our current harnessing; change the nature of our tongue; recreate our harnesses and re-harness ourselves; hire a different driver; pull a wagon full of negative carbon needs without the wheels of fossil carbon? … or is “four legs good, two legs better” easier to imagine; the Preamble below an easier to be bound by?

    feeling a knowledge
    is a story’s recalling
    conceived in the mind

    remember or learn
    two perceptions of knowledge
    that feeling allow

    like bees to honey
    a chattering tongue moves us
    away from Knowledge

    …& for good measure:

    not flying’s a way
    to learn feelings as knowledge
    a story recalled

    …& as a bonus, and as I psyche myself to extend the learning I’m engaged regarding “not” and feelings (which includes two decades of not flying as a matter of conscience – including skipping my father-in-law’s funeral the rest of my family will be flying to in two weeks) I’ve a 600′ driveway that I’ve hand shovel. I’ve kept my snowblower parked for a decade now. The climate noise represented in March’s nor’easters repeatedly conspire with my low carbon discipline to empower the feeling that I’m not as young as I was, but that this work feels like it is slowing my getting old! 😉

    Nothing but no-ease
    As Dame Nature plays trump card
    In a G_d’s eye blink

  299. Dave_Geologist says:

    Joshua
    Re Channel 4.

    It’s News investigations have usually been quite good. Mostly using stings and whistle-blowers, but the targets tend to be genuine public-interest ones, not sensationalist gotchas or outing hypocritical celebrities.

    It does have a public-service obligation and is (or was, but I think still is) arms-length owned by the government. Although it does have to fund itself by advertising. It was intended as a more innovative/edgy/youth-oriented competitor to “stodgy BBC” and “populist ITV”.

    The professor who consulted for CA and fronted the FB app was on the radio this morning, saying he didn’t know what they’d do with the data, and the company lawyers told him it was legal so he just trusted them. And everyone knew what was going on more generally – who did users think paid for all those micro-targeted ads and how did they think they were targeted? And basically accused the suspended chief exec Nix of lying about their relationship, with care not to say so directly. Since it already seems clear at least part of what Nix was saying a couple of weeks ago was untrue, I know who I’d believe.

  300. Greg Robie says:

    For visual learners, a mind map that is simplistically inclusive of both what I’ve read into this blog post and comments concerning talking about solutions and motivating action, and the systemic dynamics that frame my contributions. Thursday’s [visual] Thoughts:

  301. Mal Adapted says:

    Greg Robie, your “mind map” is imaginative and useful. IMHO you’re a little tough on academia, though. Your graph’s edges and vertices appear to encompass plenty of scope for everyone to contribute what they can.

  302. Greg Robie says:

    Mal Adapted, version 1.1 is out and it is tougher on academia! https://twitter.com/opentoinfo/status/976939588492169223 … but thanks for the feedback!

    The S.T.A.R. concept/pedagogy that I think I’ve links to before, may best be considered a framework to disrupt academia. As a culture, perhaps a functional ideology as per Jordan Peterson’s definition, and construct of words and thoughts, academia has been cloistering itself from society — probable about as long as the philosophy of science started the trend of divorcing itself from an integrated whole that included theology; becoming/defining “secular”. Doesn’t the adaptive function of motivated reasoning’s irrationality constitute a shared condition, and an opportunity to stop, listen, and learn form an “other” … if all have a belly button?

    What version 1.1 makes jump off the page for me is that “liberal” academia is functionally and ironically concervative; a bit through-the-looking-glass madrasah-like?!? Agnew’s quip about its effetness and impudentness didn’t have the resonance it had without it fitting in with both trusted stories and the experience of, perhaps, those who now proudly claim the name of deplorables? Back-in-the-day, “Black” was similarly claimed, and with effect, to creat a crack for Light to get in; make visible the dignity and humanity of the dismissed. And before finding shelter inside TheIvoryTower geek’s fared no better. The walls may be as h gh as thy are because there is that blue collar axiom I’ve shared: those who can’t do, teach. (SM: an example of beating your own tribe – I did teach for a year?) 😉

    That said, Mal Adapted, would you be willing to expound on that concern about its toughness either here, or by email … even Twitter (if you are on it)? Mal – or anything – @ my website’s domain name that my ATTP name is linked to should arrive in my email inbox. But, my bias is to make these REAL conversations public so civil discourse can compete with [a]social media’s dominate mentoring of diatribe.

    =)

  303. Greg Robie says:

    S.T.A.R. link: https://opentoinfo-1.simvoly.com/ & the version is pre-alpha.

  304. @Greg_Robie,

    … academia has been cloistering itself from society — probable about as long as the philosophy of science started the trend of divorcing itself from an integrated whole that included theology; becoming/defining “secular”. Doesn’t the adaptive function of motivated reasoning’s irrationality constitute a shared condition, and an opportunity to stop, listen, and learn form an “other” … if all have a belly button?

    What version 1.1 makes jump off the page for me is that “liberal” academia is functionally and ironically [conservative]; a bit through-the-looking-glass madrasah-like?!? Agnew’s quip about its effetness and impudentness didn’t have the resonance it had without it fitting in with both trusted stories and the experience of, perhaps, those who now proudly claim the name of deplorables? …

    What does liberal academia even mean? It suggests there is such a thing as conservative academic or moderate academia. Those adjectives really don’t attach to academics very well. I’d think they’d slide off. Academics are supposed to be controversial and unpopular, and use methods designed to ascertain correctness of things independent of emotions and prejudices. It doesn’t always work. (Eugenics.) But it works a lot better than many other processes do. And secrecy is it’s enemy.

    Historically, the university in its methods and traditions has always been set apart, at least since its foundational days in Venice or wherever. Graduate students are apprentices and post-docs are journeymen. It’s not a new idea, but universities and academics have responsibilities beyond being useful and getting paid for their efforts. To the degree a society supports them, the society considers these important, too. These are generally, a responsibility to the Past, and a responsibility to the Future. To the Past, to remember what has been learned and to keep it continually accessible, for humanity can’t really know when any bit of learning might be needed again. To the Future, because of the need to discover and document the new, and to be sure there are always those who can both interpret the Past, discover the new, and continue the project forward.

    No doubt there is a certain church-like aspect to academe, as I think there very much should be. It is not absolute, and people with less learning should be able to participate, but doing so entails appreciating what you do not know. I don’t know a lot of Geology, so being able to interact with @Dave_Geologist here is a real treat. Or over at Rabett Run, I don’t know atmospheric physics like Eli does, so to read his explanations of the details of atmospheric species puts me almost in a rapture. There is a greatness to be able to consider monumental questions as if one were solving a Sudoku puzzle. Given Jacoby’s Age of American Unreason works, not clear the United States was ever in the camp of appreciating these. But, for a time, people — at least people in leadership — understood that it saved our collective necks. That’s being forgotten, and one of the laughable things about Boss Trump and Friends is how they applaud military power, mendacity, and secrecy, but they don’t know how it got there and why it is what it is. They think it’s only about money. Keep up the disintegration of academic values and there’s one of several smarter countries out there who will someday Clean Our Clock.

  305. Greg Robie says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Jan. If I’m reading this correctly, the conflating of academia with academics, whether well articulated or not, does not follow that inquiry about what I mean by liberal and conservative in my comment. On that point I was not explicit. I apologize. Here I use these term as I understand them being used in the nascent field of moral psychology.

    All social institutions benefit from evaluation by society, just as society benefits from evaluations by its social institutions. In these dynamics linguistic modifiers are helpful communication tools – as are stories. It seems to me that should a social institution claim and practice a privilege that removes it from this dynamic interplay, that in time it loses it’s social relevance. To the degree academia has siloed itself, as the red arrows suggest, and self-evaluates and delimits action to that of the proclivity of its academics, the referenced disciplines concerning emotion and ‘prejudices’ can, and, as an intellectual minority likely must, become sociopathic.

    This term “sociopathic” is defined by the majority, and modified slightly by law. Whether one is one of Clinton’s deplorables, or an individual within Agnew’s effete corps of impudent snobs who consider themselves intellectuals, the tenuousness of the social construct and contract demands constant vigilance as the price of freedom.

    Are you arguing otherwise concerning what constitutes social (as opposed to individual) greatness? For me there is an important and paradoxical differentiation. For me that paradox is “resolved” when the privileged, and those who know that wealth is the right to be responsible, are the same. When this systemic truth is forgotten or denied, clocks are cleaned and reset. With Dame Natures trump card of abrupt climate change played within this round of our hubristic comings and goings, humanity will be dealt out of the next hand.

    Can academia [and academics?] benefit from considering if the diagram I’ve shared is unjustly hard on either or both?

  306. I’m not sure. I’m on my iPad and don’t normally edit comments on it. I’ll have another look late4.

  307. Mal Adapted says:

    aTTP, let me make it easy. Please delete my 5 previous comments. Ima post the first one again, forthwith.

  308. Mal Adapted says:

    Greg Robie: That said, Mal Adapted, would you be willing to expound on that concern about its toughness
    Your focus on academia is misplaced, IMHO, because ‘academia’ simply comprises the behavior of academics in aggregate, and academics are just guys. Like everyone else, they’re where they are for their own reasons, whether or not they fulfill anyone else’s expectations. My position is founded on the mediocrity principle:
    The mediocrity principle simply states that you aren’t special. The universe does not revolve around you, this planet isn’t privileged in any unique way, your country is not the perfect product of divine destiny, your existence isn’t the product of directed, intentional fate, and that tuna sandwich you had for lunch was not plotting to give you indigestion. Most of what happens in the world is just a consequence of natural, universal laws — laws that apply everywhere and to everything, with no special exemptions or amplifications for your benefit — given variety by the input of chance. Everything that you as a human being consider cosmically important is an accident.
    Greg Robie, in response to hyperg: Are you arguing otherwise concerning what constitutes social (as opposed to individual) greatness? For me there is an important and paradoxical differentiation. For me that paradox is “resolved” when the privileged, and those who know that wealth is the right to be responsible, are the same.
    I’m not shocked to find I agree with Michael 2 here: most people do have a sense of morality — it just isn’t aligned with anyone else’s sense of morality.
    Admittedly based solely on an 11-year-old ‘synthesis’ in Science (login required for full text), I’m skeptical of the “nascent field of moral psychology”. Human ‘moral’ behavior is a legitimate target for science, but psychologists already know that concepts like ‘greatness’ and ‘right to be responsible’ are grandiose: they originate in our wishes to deny our cosmic mediocrity. When we stop believing in them, they go away.
    Don’t get me wrong, I ‘believe in’ morality. I affirm that as an atheist from age 12, I have a ‘sense’ of morality. I recognize the value to myself of morality as I sense it to be, and of cooperating with other moral individuals to the extent our moral senses are aligned. That’s relevant to this thread because AFAICT, AGW is a moral problem: if nobody cared, we wouldn’t be talking about it. Furthermore, AGW is aptly labeled a Drama of the Commons, and only collective action will avert the most tragic ending. Because not everyone’s moral sense is aligned, the outcome will be determined politically. Academia has no special political role to play, because academics have no special moral obligation the rest of us aren’t burdened with. I for one am driven by my private moral sense, and my admittedly limited grasp of politics, to publicly advocate for prompt decarbonization of the US economy at the minimum net aggregate cost in money and incommensurable moral tragedy, by collective intervention in the ‘free market’ for energy.
    Of course, I don’t claim to understand the source of my moral sense in detail, but I’m as certain as I need to be that it’s not supernatural but irredeemably mediocre 8^|. Methodologically, that is, I’ve long since aligned myself with Dawkins:
    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
    Morally, however, I’m aligned with Aldo Leopold:
    That the situation is hopeless should not prevent us from doing our best.

  309. Greg Robie says:

    When I think I’ve thought something interesting, I like to ask myself, what problem is this thought solving. The answer plus a few more “why”s are often insightful …often, more so than the initial thought. In my experience as a contemplative, the tension of the place of paradox is the wellspring of insight … and hope-as-the-substance-of-insight (pun intended). The sight that is “in” effects the action that is “out” … even when such action is felt to be inaction. Physics defines us a integral to a whole that, but for hubris, our increasing information, and perceived accuracy of that information may not add up to much knowledge … to the degree physics defines knowledge as action.

    I experience the closing methodology/moral pairing to be, on its face, paradoxical. My mind observes in the description an individual acknowledging two opposing dance partners: rational reasoning and motivated reasoning. To the degree each partner dances different steps to different music on different dance floors, what other than the mediocrity principle would keep one from a metaphorical underware-tangled-around-the-feet-faceplant in such a pas de trois? 😉 And, paradoxically, the mediocrity principle, from my perspective and stories, solves the problem of seeing what I see; feeling a need for a different story than the one you have invested a lifetime of neural pathway wiring to trust.

    I do not disagree with what you assert academia comprises as informed by the construct and story you trust. But as a social minority, does it significantly matter in this time of #tyrannyNrevolution when “accidents” happen? What academics tell themselves about what academia is, what does this matter if it is a cloister opinion? Might it be wise to learn and incorporate what it is that the larger social majority perceives? Aren’t academics, as the ‘story’ of lyrics of “How Is It We Are Here” asserts, our scientist priest who are going to save us in the end? Heck, every now and then academics parading around in priestly robes. This conforms to trusted stories.

    So, wouldn’t the climate inaction of academic institution employing climate scientists, and as action, communicate: move on, there’s nothing hear to see? I believe there is no shortage of stories of what to do with failed or abdicated authority. Improvised pikes are never hard to fashion. When it comes to scapegoating avoided responsibility, isn’t the story of the mob sacrosanct?

    I think this is where I’m supposed to say thanks for the feedback. After writing this reply, I’m not so sure I wanted to see this either. But this is how stories evaluate information and dictate knowledge that is acted on and communicates what information means. Or this is why I find the mind map insightful; the hard time it gives academics: a story-defined-prophetic-warning. As to the rest of the tell you tell yourself, consider an Alt-Tell for seeing further: AGW isn’t a problem so much as it is the knowable consequence of our irrational trust in irresponsibility as that relates to our economic meme. About this Anthropocene generating economic meme, a social majority cares deeply. The resulting trust is so pervasive and ideological it is ‘worshiped’ more so than discussed … especially when imagining and considering mitigative and adaptive action. This limited collective thinking defines our joint action. That action is mostly the talk which delimited/delayed scientifically significant action … and continues to do so. Our psychological continuum concerning morality (dismissed or not) has us/US, if differently, fully aligned.

    And this is to the degree physics defines knowledge as action.

    The Drama of the Commons is the tragedy-as-story that human history tells us is the ‘wrong’ story we repeated get right. In the US our economic meme is an unconstitutionally established as a functional state religion. Academia’s motivated reasoning/’theology’ of secularism informs the delusion of atheism and tells, as far as fMRIs regarding motivated reasoning would reveal, that atheism as a fake story. But as believed fake news an ideology of humanist secularism creates an irresponsible “other” onto which an otherwise shared irresponsibly can be projected. Scapegoating solves the problem of seeing an otherwise shared economic irresponsibility feeding into our tragedy. Soon, if not now, Dame Nature’s trump card will make this tragedy natural.

    In #GREED-as-go[]d we all trust. With the unconstitutional Federal Reserve, this trust is systemic. By our hand, and violently or non-violently, and/or Dame Nature’s trump card: CapitalismFail./?

  310. Mal Adapted says:

    Somewhere between posting and appearing online, all HTML is being stripped from my reply to Greg Robie.

  311. Mal Adapted says:

    Greg Robie:

    I do not disagree with what you assert academia comprises as informed by the construct and story you trust. But as a social minority, does it significantly matter in this time of #tyrannyNrevolution when “accidents” happen?

    Empiricism and intersubjective justification matter to me. If they don’t, nothing whatsoever does, no matter where my privileges intersect.

  312. Willard says:

    Give me the timestamps of any other comment you want deleted, Mal.

    As long as they’re yours, it goes without saying.

  313. Mal Adapted says:

    Uhm, thanks Willard. It’s not the comments that were deleted I’m whinging about, but the formatting of the one I made twice, only one of which remains visible, with my mark-ups stripped.

  314. Mal,
    I did have a look at that, but I can’t work out what formatting you were intending.

  315. Mal Adapted says:

    Huh. I had inserted HTML tags for links,

    B.l.o.c.k.q.u.o.t.e.s,

    italics and bold. I’ve still got the original. Like I said, it looks fine with the RealClimate instant comment preview.

  316. Yes, I realise. But, when I went to edit it, there were no HTML commands.

  317. @Greg_Robie,

    Whether or not scientists or, for that matter, people behave in a manner consistent with the recommendations of “moral psychology”, assuming such recommendations actually exist, what Nature does is independent of intent. Should Nature act severely, those who act consistently with these, or, for that matter, act consistently with the recommendations of Joanna Macy (“Great Turning”, etc), or those who avoid flying and things and consider “They’re done”, will be affected as readily as those who don’t or aren’t. Perhaps these will achieve some peace via a sense they achieved personal purity.

    I personally find pursuit of personal purity very distasteful if it is done in apathetic regard for actions entailing complicated, compromising engineering solutions. It’s worth being uncomfortable if it helps fix the problem.

  318. Mal Adapted says:

    Huh. I submitted it twice, and the tags appear to have been stripped both times. Here it is again, copy-pasted right out of the RC comment preview including all opening and closing tags:

    Greg Robie: That said, Mal Adapted, would you be willing to expound on that concern about its toughness

    Your focus on academia is misplaced, IMHO, because ‘academia’ simply comprises the behavior of academics in aggregate, and academics are just guys. Like everyone else, they’re where they are for their own reasons, whether or not they fulfill anyone else’s expectations. My position is founded on the mediocrity principle:

    The mediocrity principle simply states that you aren’t special. The universe does not revolve around you, this planet isn’t privileged in any unique way, your country is not the perfect product of divine destiny, your existence isn’t the product of directed, intentional fate, and that tuna sandwich you had for lunch was not plotting to give you indigestion. Most of what happens in the world is just a consequence of natural, universal laws — laws that apply everywhere and to everything, with no special exemptions or amplifications for your benefit — given variety by the input of chance. Everything that you as a human being consider cosmically important is an accident.

    Greg Robie, in response to hyperg: Are you arguing otherwise concerning what constitutes social (as opposed to individual) greatness? For me there is an important and paradoxical differentiation. For me that paradox is “resolved” when the privileged, and those who know that wealth is the right to be responsible, are the same.

    I’m not shocked to find I agree with Michael 2 here: most people do have a sense of morality — it just isn’t aligned with anyone else’s sense of morality.

    Admittedly based solely on an 11-year-old ‘synthesis’ in Science (login required for full text), I’m skeptical of the “nascent field of moral psychology”. Human ‘moral’ behavior is a legitimate target for science, but psychologists already know that concepts like ‘greatness’ and ‘right to be responsible’ are grandiose: they originate in our wishes to deny our cosmic mediocrity. When we stop believing in them, they go away.

    Don’t get me wrong, I ‘believe in’ morality. I affirm that as an atheist from age 12, I have a ‘sense’ of morality. I recognize the value to myself of morality as I sense it to be, and of cooperating with other moral individuals to the extent our moral senses are aligned. That’s relevant to this thread because AFAICT, AGW is a moral problem: if nobody cared, we wouldn’t be talking about it. Furthermore, AGW is aptly labeled a Drama of the Commons, and only collective action will avert the most tragic ending. Because not everyone’s moral sense is aligned, the outcome will be determined politically. Academia has no special political role to play, because academics have no special moral obligation the rest of us aren’t burdened with. I for one am driven by my private moral sense, and my admittedly limited grasp of politics, to publicly advocate for prompt decarbonization of the US economy at the minimum net aggregate cost in money and incommensurable moral tragedy, by collective intervention in the ‘free market’ for energy.

    Of course, I don’t claim to understand the source of my moral sense in detail, but I’m as certain as I need to be that it’s not supernatural but irredeemably mediocre 8^|. Methodologically, that is, I’ve long since aligned myself with Dawkins:

    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

    Morally, however, I’m aligned with Aldo Leopold:

    That the situation is hopeless should not prevent us from doing our best.

  319. Mal Adapted says:

    Right, I see my third re-post with formatting correctly rendered, “awaiting moderation”.

  320. Greg Robie says:

    Mal, the HTML, including links, are in the emailed version. Thanks for the time this and your other consider and considerable replies represent. I like reading them and value your points and arguments.

    And good for a beer, perhaps, the “one am” of “I for one am” became a “Create Event” option link on this end. You loose some somewhere, and gain some somewhere else … while the original stays the same. There must be a metaphor in that somehow! 😉 🍻

  321. Mal Adapted says:

    hyperg:

    Whether or not scientists or, for that matter, people behave in a manner consistent with the recommendations of “moral psychology”, assuming such recommendations actually exist, what Nature does is independent of intent.

    True dat. Everyone’s cognitive motivations are undeniably conditioned by their intersecting social privileges, but the strawman version of radical deconstructionism, i.e. that no belief about reality is more justified as any other, was refuted by Philip K. Dick: Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

  322. Mal Adapted says:

    Greg Robie:

    And good for a beer, perhaps, the “one am” of “I for one am” became a “Create Event” option link on this end.

    Holy crap, I have no clue how that happened. The only metaphor I can think of that might apply is “garbage in, garbage out”!

  323. Mal Adapted says:

    Heh. Now that I think of it, I do know how “one am” became an link to create an event occurring at 1:00 AM. I use MSN’s Outlook web app myself.

  324. zebra says:

    @Mal-A,

    “I have a ‘sense’ of morality. I recognize the value to myself of morality as I sense it to be, and of cooperating with other moral individuals to the extent our moral senses are aligned.”

    Sure, so does Mr Trump.

    Nothing wrong with what you said, Mal, except that the term “morality” is superfluous. You act in your own self interest; sometimes that involves avoiding a negative feeling that you have been conditioned to experience, in childhood probably, if you undertake certain actions. If you are with others of similar conditioning, that’s no problem.

    But people with “morals” often lack the conditioning: “Don’t judge and harm others who undertake those actions” (against which the people with “morals” have been conditioned.)

    “Morals” exist to constrain behaviors, and inevitably cause conflict. Better to act with what people would like to do to achieve your goals, as I have suggested.

    And, while it is a different project, with childhood development, better to develop the natural tendency of empathy into broadly applied compassion, than obedience to arbitrary norms.

  325. I’m looking at Jan’s 10:22 comment. Where does the idea that moral psychology makes recommendations come from…unless, as explicitly stated, it may not exist (BTW, it doesn’t). But this reframing of things, and as a dialectic device, does allow for a doubling down on a trusted hard sciences’ bias regarding the soft sciences (nothing to see [or hear] here?).

    For me the point about nature stands on its own. The link to the three concurrent stories invoking human action concerning the existential threat of CapitalismFail is obvious. And personal anything that is done from comfort is a bit naive – the sound of one hand clapping – especially within a species that is preponderantly social and experiences action as communication. Self-righteous piety is like an elephant feeling it is hiding behind a four leaf clover held by its trunk. What such foolishness communicates about where we are going, and how we are getting there, reinforces the story academia’s behavior, relative to the knowledge claimed, communicates.

    So, as I said before, a disciplined personal piety – and over time – will rewire neural pathways and make new feelings possible. Thereby – and religious sages would say “only” – a new story becomes imaginable. Metanoia.

    Jan (and all who might also be), if you are willing, and from your self-assessed “relative comfort”, try committing to voluntary discomfort via scientifically insignificant, but personally real, pain and suffering. If done with humility, personal piety is not as vacuous of empiricism and intersubjective justification as it might appear.

    But, in my experience, such an experiment takes persistence. Two years would be as fast as our biology apparently allows for observing any significant results. My experiment took almost a decade to begin to reveal what my trusted stories blinded me to (and I had the advantage of latent neural pathways created from suffering incarceration as a matter of conscience (due to trusted stories) back in the day (Vietnam) when my neurology was still forming.

    But it may not need be all awful. As I engage in the challenges of water management on this seasonally dry hillside, my experiment in homestead-scale brook trout permaculture aquaculture succors. This is thanks to the invoked oxytocin of the “tend and befriend” behavior of this husbandry. It is enhanced by the testosterone inducing stress regarding the dynamic engineering challenges required to succeed. CapitalismFail defines what, for me feels good and wise, as economically stupid. We are in this time of #tyrannyNrevolution for go[]d (story) reasons.

  326. @Greg_Robie,

    Regarding:

    I’m looking at Jan’s 10:22 comment. Where does the idea that moral psychology makes recommendations come from…unless, as explicitly stated, it may not exist (BTW, it doesn’t). But this reframing of things, and as a dialectic device, does allow for a doubling down on a trusted hard sciences’ bias regarding the soft sciences (nothing to see [or hear] here?).

    Well, if moral psychology does not make recommendations, why is it pertinent to the present question?

    And regarding:

    Jan (and all who might also be), if you are willing, and from your self-assessed “relative comfort”, try committing to voluntary discomfort via scientifically insignificant, but personally real, pain and suffering. If done with humility, personal piety is not as vacuous of empiricism and intersubjective justification as it might appear.

    as noted before, Claire and I are doing everything we can. We have an additional 3 kW, or 10 PV panels, scheduled to come on the roof to bring our array to 39. This is even despite our utility’s shenanigans with the MA Dept. of Public Utilities that says any kW above 10 kW we generate, we will only get 60% of it’s net metering. The additional panels are being added to offset our 24/7 365 day air source heat pumps and especially our EV. This is despite supporting MassEnergy’s New England Wind with each kWh we draw from the grid. And we are posed to install Tesla batteries to serve as our own energy tank, primarily to thumb our noses at said utility’s net metering policies. We are vegetarians and compost all of our food waste. We collect aluminum cans off the roads on runs and walks, because aluminum cans represent large amounts of energy to make. We buy locally for food and other things whenever we can. We minimize air — and car — travel, preferring busses and trains and public transport. And when we do do air, which is rare, we offset 4X. We are engaged — often to the point of exhaustion — with religious and community groups advocating for zero Carbon energy policies, and investments of endowments. We are advocates for community solar, despite appreciable local opposition. And this is on top of having a home and yard which are managed with extreme environmental sensitivity. Our investments are fossil fuel free.

    At last estimate, we have invested about US$70,000 into a home which is appraised at US$600,000 in order to make us as zero Carbon as possible, no doubt with some coming back in government tax savings.

    It’s difficult to imagine doing more.

  327. If anyone wants inspiration, here’s some: We love because we are interdependent.

    And, my favorite, which sits at the top-right of my blog: Love means nothing without action.:

  328. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I didn’t know DONG was no more. What a shame. Norway’s Statoil is about to change its name too, presumably inspired by DONG. It’s probably going to become Equinor, which basically means ‘cuddly Norway’. It’s not ditching fossil fuels, as ex-DONG is doing, just rebranding.

  329. Mal Adapted says:

    First, I wanna say this very extended blog thread has helped me articulate my thinking a whole bunch.
    Moving on, zebra:

    @Mal-A,
    “I have a ‘sense’ of morality. I recognize the value to myself of morality as I sense it to be, and of cooperating with other moral individuals to the extent our moral senses are aligned.”
    Sure, so does Mr Trump.
    Nothing wrong with what you said, Mal, except that the term “morality” is superfluous.

    Heh. Nothing wrong with what you said either, z. I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘morality’ is a superfluous term, however. The Standford Encyclopedia (“E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A!” 8^D) of Philosophy’s Definition of Morality page says:
    [I used only blockquote tags for the indents below, and de-italicized the first one. It looks right in RC’s instant preview -MA]

    There does not seem to be much reason to think that a single definition of morality will be applicable to all moral discussions. One reason for this is that “morality” seems to be used in two distinct broad senses: a descriptive sense and a normative sense.More particularly, the term “morality” can be used either

    descriptively to refer to certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior, or
    normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

    Anecdotally, most Homo sapiens individuals accept our own behavior as moral, since it allows us to live without so much guilt that we condemn ourselves to death voluntarily. Presumably Trump, as a member of our species, accepts* his behavior as moral too. It’s in the normative sense of the word – that is, when we apply to other people – that conflict arises. That’s why, thirty years (as of June 23) after Jim Hansen’s historic Congressional testimony, humanity still hasn’t collectively chosen to stop transferring fossil carbon to the climatically-active pool.
    Our normative conditioning (the right word IMHO, h/t a number of you), beginning in infancy, is what determines “the code of conduct…put forward by all rational persons.” Facilitated by the uniquely human capacity for cultural adaptation, ‘rational’ – i.e. culturally well-adapted – individuals in every culture I’m aware of learn to admire conspecifics who behave ‘altruistically’, i.e. in ways that enhance the fitness of other individuals at non-zero cost to their own. In that sense, morality is an adaptation for living in groups of more-or-less cooperative individuals, in competition with other such groups.
    3.5 Gy of evolution has made genetic relatedness the most direct cue for altruistic behavior (kin selection); surrogate indicators of relatedness, e.g. shared myths, became adaptive as our species populated the globe. Even without relatedness as a cognitive motivator, rational people – i.e. those whose behavior is influenced by ratiocination – may choose to cooperate against a threat to all of them (reciprocal altruism).
    What then is the moral dimension of AGW for me? Why do I take the slightest trouble to advocate for collectively capping the warming as soon as possible at the lowest net aggregate cost? While my private moral sense is as complicated as anyone’s, nonetheless kin selection enhances fitness only for collateral branches of my family, which to date have produced a sole great-nephew (whence my nom du clavier). Perhaps owing to one of those shared myths, however, I am somewhat mysteriously inclined to include all Homo sapiens individuals within my kin group, so that when balanced against the cost to other species, “the benefit of all mankind” is definitely a motivator for me.
    Because AGW clearly threatens my theoretical extended fitness along with every human’s, I claim to be motivated by reciprocal altruism as well. IMHO conflict over what to do collectively about it persists, in large part, because it threatens some humans more than others; and because those whose short-term extended fitness was most enhanced by it seem to apply the highest moral discount to the present normative value of future humans, even their own descendants. Apparently, neither kin selection nor reciprocal altruism are sufficient to direct their behavior.
    * although, crediting him with a glimmer of self-awareness, one imagines Trump sneering “So sue me in your imaginary cosmic court!”

  330. Mal Adapted says:

    Right, it looks like I should have de-italicized either all of the SEP quote or none of it. While we live, we learn.

  331. Mal Adapted says:

    GregBot:

    Jan (and all who might also be), if you are willing, and from your self-assessed “relative comfort”, try committing to voluntary discomfort via scientifically insignificant, but personally real, pain and suffering. If done with humility, personal piety is not as vacuous of empiricism and intersubjective justification as it might appear.

    Done that. Indubitably it ‘should’ (in the normative sense) be done with as much humility as one can muster, whether or not one fools oneself all the rest of the way down. For that matter, empiricism and intersubjective justification won’t always produce a moral result. Whatevs: for me, this discussion has primarily been about why I advocate for climate action, and I’m even more accepting of it now than I was at the beginning 8^D.

  332. Mal Adapted says:

    Uh-oh, paragraph marks are disappearing from my post of March 24, 2018 at 5:05 pm. I can post it again if that will fix it. OTOH, I doubt anyone gives a shit but me 8^D!

  333. Mal Adapted says:

    So, mods: what HTML tags can we use here, and what can’t we?

  334. @Mal_Adapted,

    I’m just beginning to read E. O. Wilson’s stuff about altruism in Biology, but there are notable exceptions. A recent report: “Sexually selected infanticide by male red squirrels in advance of a mast year”. What’s surprising there is that a mast year has an abundance of acorns and, so, food.

  335. Mal,
    I think you can use all (or, most) of them.

  336. Mal Adapted says:

    Speaking of surrogate indicators of genetic relatedness, the most recent issue of National Geographic magazine has a feature on the variablility of skin color, both within so-called ‘races’ and globally.

    For the last five or so years the NG has arrived at my house on paper, by gift subscript. Since my teens though, if any single human cultural institution has shaped my sense of who my kin are, it’s the NG’s photographs of people (clothed or otherwise) living in cultures previously unknown to me, almost all of them smiling in friendly fashion.

  337. zebra says:

    @Mal-A,

    “a code of conduct…that would be put forward by all rational persons”

    Come on, “put forward”??? What in the world does that mean?

    If all rational people would behave a certain way in a certain situation, again, the concept “morality” is superfluous. It’s like saying “you should pull your hand away from the hot stove; it’s the right thing to do”.

    So, yes, “morality” is only meaningful if you assume that not all rational people would not act according to the rules. “You should not take your little brother’s toys, that’s just wrong.

    Wrong and right only mean anything in the context of attempting to modify behavior that would otherwise occur or not occur.

  338. Mal Adapted says:

    Hyperg, and everyone:

    E.O. Wilson’s work was seminal, but it’s been 43 years since the publication of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (in which only the references to Homo sapiens provoked public controversy). Much on that large topic that’s both new and good has been published since. A few months back I acquired a paperbound volume titled Sense and Nonsense, subtitled “Evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour”. It’s a little turgid in spots, but I’m learning a lot.

  339. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    Come on, “put forward”??? What in the world does that mean?

    In my defense, I was quoting the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s Definition of Morality page. In your defense, the loss of critical formatting in my comment of March 24, 2018 at 5:05 pm may have caused you to miss that I tried to make that clear 8^(.

    Well, now I see someone has tried to reconstruct my lost formatting for the SEP excerpt. Thanks, and I wish you success. I only know how to do it with nested blockquote tags, como:

    [Once again, this all looks fine with RC’s instant preview -MA]

    There does not seem to be much reason to think that a single definition of morality will be applicable to all moral discussions. One reason for this is that “morality” seems to be used in two distinct broad senses: a descriptive sense and a normative sense. More particularly, the term “morality” can be used either

    [list item 1.] descriptively to refer to certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior, or

    [list item 2]. normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

  340. Mal Adapted says:

    That looks OK here, too. The automatic italicization can be toggled off with explicit italics tags inside the outer blockquotes.

  341. Mal Adapted says:

    Thanks aTTP. With a little help from my bloggy friends, I’ve pretty much figured out all I want but indentation other than by blockquoting, and list control.

    It’s too bad the trouble I’m taking to make my points clear won’t make them any more correct. An ancient cultural adaptation is lately attributed to A. Lincoln, 16th POTUS:

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

    It’s too late for me, of course, so I’ll just blather on ahead 8^D!

  342. CORRECTION AND UPDATE to my post above.

    I looked at the numbers, both originally, and in the context of our present plans.

    In fact, the original amount paid to our present plant is more like $80,000, not $70,000. When adding the additional 10 panels and Tesla batteries, the amount will be larger than $100,000, on the $600,000 appraised home. This, of course, is the raw cost and does not reflect tax advantages which are, in a way, considerable. (Some of it is money we would not have anyway.) And it does not reflect avoided costs, or the income stream from generating SRECs which earn about $250 per MWh generated. We would not, of course, have it any other way, any more than we would use pesticides on our property or permit the county to spray the portion of the wetlands we own, for whatever reason.

    And, in the end, and ironically, my hunch is this will cause our property to be appraised relatively higher per square foot than our immediate neighbors, each of which own homes which are worth more than $1 million. That’s more than a guess, but is far from a certain thing. But see TAN:

    Of course this is not investment advice, and I am no qualified investment advisor.

  343. Michael 2 says:

    hypergeometric writes “When adding the additional 10 panels and Tesla batteries, the amount will be larger than $100,000, on the $600,000 appraised home.”

    Obviously this approach to environmentalism isn’t applicable to the basket of deplorables that will never see $100k much less have a $600k home. Odd that you have expressed no concern about the toxic substances embedded in solar panels (admittedly in trace amounts) or how much energy it takes to make one. Silicon refining is extremely energy consuming and requires reliable, steady power for days to complete a “melt”. Perhaps that’s in another comment.

    I salute you for taking actions and being environmentally sensitive.

  344. Greg Robie says:

    Doesn’t the energy cost comparison and TAN charts Jan has posted pose, and as an either/or choice, this:

    If you want to save a trusted homeostasis that delimits imagination, engage in ‘relatively comfortable’ greed-based piety within the constraints of CapitalismFail.

    If you intend to live honorably, and in a way that demonstrates you understand physics, cut the heart out of CapitalismFail and create a currency for the economy that aligns need (zero fossil carbon economy) with greed.

    It does for me, and “briefly”, but partially, why.

    The motivated reasoning embedded in Jan’s update includes, as a critical vector, the inflation of value that is integral to property assessment. I would guess that the Galkowskies are comfortably among an economic elite that, today, can buy their – relative to their neighbor’s – modest home at its assessed value plus the cost of its zero carbon improvements. This sale likely could either be a cash sale, or one that a mortgage would be immediately available for. Their choice.

    Idealized, property assessment is a parameterizing of the gestalt of the last three years of real estate sale prices evaluated by size, neighborhood, age, style, improvements, and overall condition of real estate properties. Again ideally, such an assessment assumes that three year time span encompasses the sale of about 10% of a community’s real estate property tax parcels.

    The vectors driving the increase of such assessments are many. But the one that is most physics-like regarding residences is household wages/income. When I first began my work in construction, a third of a household’s income determined the mortgage one could qualify for, and then with a 20% down payment. The path to the current and more liberal values for these parameters has shifted real estate property values upwards. Or such is true within growing regional economies.

    A rule of thumb I gleaned from trade journals when I was learning the construction business, is that within an expanding economy, home prices roughly vary between 70% of a community’s population being able to qualify for a mortgage (a market bottom) and 50% qualifying (a market peak). If the mean of a community’s population’s wages are are not rising commensurate to the rise in value of real estate property tax assessments, a[nother] bubble is in the making. Wages are key in this dynamic because the majority of debt slaves cannot save. Therefore household wages and income are one in the same.

    Even though markets are perceptions, the multi-generation mortgage that Europe has normalized suggest, if foresight is not accessible, that the regional real estate bubbles here in the US theoretically have some headroom … even with declining wages (a key vector within CapitalismFail). So, isn’t the motivated reasoning informing the thinking and feelings creating the perception of real estate values proportional to the trust that is held regarding the economic meme of CapitalismFail?

    The above wage/income constraint description of real estate market dynamics also expands the stories that can be extracted from the data Jan has shared (& Thx!). A house of cards is revealed for those with the eyes and heart to see. We can and do pursue our castles-in-the-air, but in doing so (& the “how” is a much too “long and winding road” to tell in this comment), a homeostasis is acculturated that is as irrational as it is irresponsible. A paraphrased truism that may, in the interest of brevity, communicate this, and is confirmed by the 15 years I interred bodies in a local cemetery, is this: you [don’t] take [any type of property] with you. The social construct and perception of real estate isn’t real. Really!

    I conclude from this RedPillReal that, and systemically, the perception of property ownership is actually a right to be responsible. A [person]’s home is said to be his/her castle, but physics defines that castle as spaceship earth. In a mental model, as defined by physics, have Jan and Claire imagined all that is imaginable? If not, what might be the story that would allow any of us such to imagine dif’rent?

    Isn’t “Love means nothing without action” a sapient hint toward what, with motivated reasoning’s blindness, we will not see; we experience as unimaginable?

  345. @Greg_Robie,

    The concern about less fortunate neighbors is a genuine one. It has a solution, community solar and aggregate solar on apartment buildings and the such, funded by contributions, but that option, at least in eastern Massachusetts has been systematically blocked by the utility companies. From my perspective, which I owe to my older son, it no longer makes sense for any environmental non-profit to collect monies for any reason other than to get us off fossil fuels, and the leverage solar PV offers that is such that they should collect the monies and use them to put PV anywhere and everywhere possible, with community solar and others receiving priorities since those will serve those who cannot afford to do it ourselves.

    With regard to our immediate neighbors, despite purchasing a $2+ million home, they are almost never there, traveling about for work and for extended holidays in far-flung places. And, as far as our town goes, it never saw a new development it didn’t like. We are working to change the composition of the Selectmen on that point, but it’s a tough slog, and the real estate people, the construction people, and the attorneys in town support who it there.

    I’m sure that the same pattern plays out all across eastern Massachusetts. From the writings of the late Hermann Scheer, that was a big factor in initial opposition to the German Energiewende.

  346. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G, Greg_R,

    Greg: Without capitalism, there is no physics or other science. Nor are there buildings to construct, nor electricity generation or wires or solar panels… . You are looking at a distortion of basic economic concepts– indeed, the opposite of what basic principles tell us “works”. It isn’t capitalism as originally constructed; it isn’t a free market as originally constructed.

    It’s true that the “stories” about real estate and its appreciation rely on everyone suspending disbelief, but so do the “stories” about Social Security and other collective endeavors. People do this because it is the only alternative to killing and eating each other, as long as the ratio of humans to resources is too high and continually increasing.

    Hyper: You are making it way too complicated. Utilities should be common carriers, because the grid is a natural monopoly. Individuals should be able to buy and sell electricity to other individuals, with the utilities acting as clearinghouse, but prohibited from generating. There should be a regulatory/financial burden for producing CO2. The market takes care of the rest. The necessary political change to achieve this should be what environmental groups work on.

  347. Politics: Hah!!

    Oh “the Market”: Double Hah!!

  348. at HG: A lot of this (purchasing a $2+ million home, they are almost never there, traveling about for work and for extended holidays in far-flung places.) is simply the product of the flattened tax rates. A steeply progressive tax table, like the Eisenhower/Kennedy years) would help Americans think more sensibly about their home and vacation needs and would also create a little intergenerational justice as long as the revenue generated was not leveraged into even more imperial/colonial military misadventure and war debt. The US Congress and Prez have almost never seen an opportunity for war that they could resist. War-time political footing is great for getting re-elected and avoiding the harder decisions that we might face absent the war priorities.
    Carbon tax? Yes, I am for it. Steeply progressive tax rates that encourage sensible economic activity, fund a robust safety net and reduce federal debt demands on our children and grandchildren? Yes, I am for it. I am preaching to the choir when I direct those comments to HG, he lives in a manner that is similar to my own. It is unfortunate that individual action to address the big problems like CO2 buildup or the national debt cannot make a significant dent in the problems, but they can’t. The solutions are in larger systematic adjustments that have to scale at the level of continents or small blue planets.
    Cheers,
    Mike

  349. Greg Robie says:

    My understanding is that what is now CapitalismFail, got its start thanks to the piety of the Dutch. As a seafaring nation they were the early disrupters of the previous econom order, when, through trade, they brought to market, things of otherwise perceived scarcity and got, in return, the Wealth of Princes. Such wealth was acknowledge by the then trusted stories to be a sin. The adaptation was to build and send out more ships, i.e., to stay Wealth of Princes poor (in the construct of Scrooge McDuck’s vault of gold) and, thereby maintain socially perceivable piety.

    Clearly that didn’t end well for the trusted story. Because greed-as-go[]d is that repeted “four legs good, two legs better” ending of our predilection to reboot the human tradegy of collapse as story, the social story accommodated this new version of greed-as-go[]d and changed. Piety liberalized in meaning. Pragmatism shifted to displace honor as a trusted social ethic. From there a feeling of “progress” has, thanks to motivate reasoning, masked an accelerating decent into what physics defines as a trip into hell and high water (HT to Joe Romm).

    … And a ‘Uge ‘if only’ regarding physics not existing!/? 😉

    In the interest of brevity, and skipping going into the details of the evolution of the social construct of corporations, and the sea-change in ethics concerning English Common Law regarding the ownership of property and responsibility, which limited liability laws effected concerning [free of responsibility] markets. Might some of what you’ve asserted be a hand tip regarding otherwise hidden-in-plain-sight motivated reasoning?

    On spaceship earth not everyone is irresponsibly relying on Social Security; collective endeavors, within the social construct of debt slavey, are more often coerced than chosen (if democracy mattered). The axiom about big fish eating little fish, when the demands of the population exceeds the resources that population needs, is a trusted (and observable) story. I observe it frequently as my permaculture homestead efforts are often as much about raising herons, hawks, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, oppossiums, skunks, weasels, (even rats!) than the story I’d like to think and feel is the case. But such a Soylent Green myth is only the only story to the degree trusted stories tell us so and let fear loose so that motivated reasoning juices greed.

    “Love means nothing without action” is not a platitude. Rather, isn’t it a choice of stories that can also be trusted and honorable lived … at least among our male gendered neurologies? Neurologically induced pragmatism may preclude the ‘common sense’ of this choice being as ‘simple’ and/or uncomplicated for the female gendered neurologies of our species, but such, as an observable differentiation between our species’ gendered neurological extremes, does nothing to diminish the truth of the choice’s existence … but for trusted motivated reasoning concerning a blind and blinding pragmatic devotion to CapitalismFail.

  350. BBD says:

    @ Hyper

    Oh “the Market”: Double Hah!!

    Zebra does like his markets. We’ve differed over this elsewhere. Part of the problem is that he doesn’t understand that for ‘the grid’ to act as a universal carrier, the US grids need to be interconnected, wholly upgraded and substantial new long-distance transmission capacity added. And he won’t admit that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  351. zebra says:

    @Greg-the-story-teller,

    On the German tradition of journeyman (Wikipedia):

    At the beginning of the journey, the wanderer takes only a small, fixed sum of money with him (exactly five Deutschmarks was common, now five Euros); at its end, he should come home with exactly the same sum of money in his pocket. Thus, he is supposed neither to squander money nor to store up any riches during the journey, which should be undertaken only for the experience.

    Not capitalism.

    But, one can “store up riches” by

    1. Exchanging labor for coins, or salt, or other non-perishable items of value, in excess of what one exchanges for goods and services
    2. Using violence to prevent others from using resources that exist in nature– land, trees, petroleum, and so on.

    Not capitalism.

    But, supplying “stored up riches” to support someone who studies the workings of nature (physics and other sciences), in the hopes of increasing one’s stored up riches… yes, capitalism. (And likewise other uses of the riches in pursuit of increasing them.) Capitalism can be collective as well, of course.

    Very simple story. When studying physics, one still has to eat. So, there is no science without capital to support scientists, who are not farmers or hunters or (successful) aquaculturalists.

  352. Greg Robie says:

    Wittily witted
    Brilliantly half-witted is
    A nitwit function

    and…

    A different sky NOT!
    Bronze Age Apollo yet rides
    Scaled stupidity

    What I read in theses recent posts, Z-R-Us, is a privileged debt-slavery justified. Perhaps such is, for an elite, a comforting story; reinforces the motivated reasoning of a trusted homeostasis that delimits imagination; a rationalized ‘relatively comfortable’ greed-based piety within the constraints of the mindsets of our [free from responsibility] markets of CapitalismFail; history repeating itself on a global scale.

    This thread subject is about talking solutions and motivating actions. Aren’t you articulating for us, and but for irrational motivated reasoning, verses from the hymn that is our systemic dirge of doing-the-same-thing-over-and-over-again-while-[increasingly]-expecting-different-results: an hallelujah to inaction as action … as physics defines it?

    The dirge’s title, and it needs a shorter (perhaps German) one is: “Limited liability law enabled CapitalismFail with its Anthropocene and abrupt climate change and it’s klimakatastrophe (ie, warming + droughts + floods + cryosphere collapse/albedo loss + sea level rise + Rossby Waves’ shifts + ecosystem disruption/pathogen shifts + crop failures + ocean acidification–phytoplankton–& warming–coral bleaching–trashing marine food chain + resource wars + climate refugees)”. 😉

  353. Greg Robie says:

    This thread is into its third week. While it is one that I feel I have had something of substance to contribute and insights to share. I need to stop. As I told Willard when he welcome me into this space a few years back and I preempted a strategically planned intellectual beating, I’ve no interest in competing for the smartest person in the room position. Here at ATTP I am not. I’ve learned much from my [mostly] lurking here. It is only when threads touch on these things where I feel I can contribute something that I do so.

    I’m starting to repeat myself.

    For me that is my cue to stop, lurk, and listen. I’m pretty sure the chorus to our dirge is culturally unforgettable; that our rupture must exit by repeating its trusted tragedy of collapse. To the degree I am now belaboring ideas and insights I’ve already shared, I’m pretty sure this feeds into the not remembering; becomes a nitwit entertaining culturally storied and dimmed wits. So, like Mal, let me say thanks for the engagement. It is a relatively rare gift. This ATTP isn’t, by far the sole muse for this song, rather just another voice in the chorus. 😉

    … And sharing it is likely a repeat: https://youtu.be/cqkT4gvBL_4 (the referenced seed is freedom as the right to be responsible)

  354. zebra says:

    @Greg-R,

    There is only one hawk eating your fish. If there are only hawks, and not other critters, then you should be quite comfortable sharing. Is the hawk greedy? Are you?

    If there are abundant resources relative to the population, then “greed” is meaningless. Pick a number: Would 50 million worldwide stable population of “greedy capitalists” destroy the ecosystem and create the need for a dirge? Would they eat the world? How fat could they get?

    But, Puritans don’t want to solve the problem, they want to tell stories and sing songs about righteousness and morality. Hawks are neither righteous nor moral, but they abide, and maintain the balance.

  355. Vinny Burgoo says:

    @zebra +1

  356. Mal Adapted says:

    BBD:

    Zebra does like his markets.

    I’m sorry, but this is akin to dismissing Physics because physicists like their Standard Model.

    I don’t have a complete grasp of quantum astrophysics, but I know there are people who know a lot more than I do about the underlying laws of the Space-Time Continuum because they’ve put the effort in. Furthermore, the peer community of expert cosmologists collectively knows better than I do who their members are, because they’ve competitively scrutinized each other’s work. If you claim to be a genuine skeptic, and are not yourself a recognized expert in Economics, then by the same criterion you must acknowledge that there may be people who know more about the role of markets in the behavior of producers and consumers than you do, and are therefore better qualified to judge who the genuine experts are.

    As a cultural adaptation for explaining and predicting ‘objective’ reality, only Science is more successful than divination with a sheep’s liver, and only because the first principle is you must not fool yourself. While on some level the various conventional scientific disciplines aren’t all as well-verified as Physics, the culture and practice of rigorous empirical methods with intersubjective verification by trained skeptics is inherently self-correcting for the behavioral as well as natural sciences. As a legitimate target for scientific investigation, markets exist as much as quarks do. Binary assertions to the contrary are merely fatuous.

  357. BBD says:

    Mal

    there may be people who know more about the role of markets in the behavior of producers and consumers than you do, and are therefore better qualified to judge who the genuine experts are

    Zebra and I have differed in the past on his belief that energy transition in the US can be achieved without large-scale federal intervention but rather by ‘the markets’. As I’ve said, Zebra likes his markets but he doesn’t know much about energy. I did explain this in my earlier comment.

  358. Willard says:

    > there is no science without capital to support scientists

    Capital is not capitalism.

  359. @smallbluemike,

    Regarding:

    It is unfortunate that individual action to address the big problems like CO2 buildup or the national debt cannot make a significant dent in the problems, but they can’t. The solutions are in larger systematic adjustments that have to scale at the level of continents or small blue planets.

    Well, it’s not really hardship, even if there are other things we might have had instead, or perhaps more importantly, greater retirement savings. One of the many reasons Claire and I hit it off when we met is because we joined in a weekly struggle to make our lives more meaningful environmentally. We just returned from an extended meeting of the Green Congregation Committee at First Parish Needham, and we consumed the last hour with a waste audit: Take a big tarp, get the caretakers to bring all the so-called trash down in bags, all the so-call recycling down in bags, and systematically empty the bags on the tarp, sifting through, seeing how much is in the wrong place, why, and how much trash there is overall. To most people sounds disgusting, but it’s actually glorious. It’s consumption at its more bare. We took lots of photos and notes. This will inform GCC’s further efforts to reduce at the congregation level.

    In the case of solar PV and air source heat pumps and such, we are early adopters, and we’ve paid inadvertent penalties for being so. I would like to create a case for such an investment not only paying for itself, including avoided costs, but becoming a profit center. We are definitely not there now. The 29 panels we have will pay for themselves within 7 years of installation. The heat pumps longer, perhaps 10-15. The additional 10 panels in under 10 years after installation. Not sure on the batteries yet. But, in return, after the new panels, we will over a year, draw no net electricity from the grid. The batteries and, indeed, our air source heat pump hot water heater give us options we wouldn’t otherwise have for energy storage, as does the EV. The the consumption monitoring facility will give us detailed usage patterns. We can work to minimize our energy use and stay under the generation envelope as much as possible.

    This is the kind of challenge engineers love, and it’s fun. And if I can zero our financial contributions to our utility, so much the better. Our utilities are intrinsically bad, they are just, oh sooooo 20th century. There will probably always be utilities, but those of the future will look nothing at all like those of today. They will be networks of loosely coupled microgrids. That grid will be far more resilient than today’s is. Whether or not our utilities can transform themselves into that necessary configuration is much in doubt, but it could happen. Being publicly traded, I think their shareholders will eventually have something to say about that.

    What’s astonishing, and why I dissed “the markets” earlier is that the cartoon version of The Markets works, but only in very limited circumstances, mostly approaching the trading of Wall Street, and sometimes not even then and there well. In most other cases, markets suffer what classical economics consider distortions or illiquidity or poor pricing, thinking there are external factors (e.g., government regulation) which cause these. Everyone, including they, need to consider this could also be because their model and principles were whacked to begin with. The trouble with classical economics is that it is not falsifiable: Not even wrong, as physicist Woit is fond of saying. Acquaintances who have gone big into residential PV think, from a financial perspective, it was a truly wonderful decision. Yet trying to convince some otherwise smart and financially experienced people of that, even after showing them the numbers, is amazingly difficult.

    And the opposition to wind turbines or community solar farms, with its NIMBYist behavior, even assuming that’s sincere (*), is just bollocks.

    Will this kind of behavior fix things? I don’t know. Probably not. It helps in various ways. But I/we might as well profit or be posed (or have our estate posed) to profit handsomely from the inevitable energy revolution.

    (*) It’s entirely conceivable the Massachusetts coast wind turbine fights are underwritten by people who just don’t want to see that happen, and “who’s brother worlds for an oil company” or something.

  360. Mal Adapted says:

    Sorry BBD, you triggered my hypervigilance for Economics denial.

  361. @Greg_Robie,

    My view aligns with yours in two directions on your recent post.

    First, what I’m actually hoping for in the economic marketplace is indeed some kind of overwhelming nonlinear market disruption. I very much want the present day utilities and the fossil fuel companies and their shareholders and, probably, by logic, a bunch of their employees, to lose their financial shirts. I am a fan of Schumpeter here. I don’t think, in this society, anything else will convey the message that needs to be conveyed. I wish that were not the case. Perhaps if we embraced socialism it would not be. But we won’t and, so, the transformation to a good process will be painful in quarters.

    Second, along with Professor David Suzuki, if I understand him, I’m hoping if we cut Nature a little slack, the nonlinear processes in evolution — and especially microbial evolution — will come up with a nonlinear miracle on their own. I wrote elsewhere here how I’ve been impressed during the last year or so learning how much of an impact primary producers on Earth have upon it, both now and in paleohistory. Note, for instance, for terrestrial net primary production change, 1982-1999:

    For oceanic trends in net primary productivity:

    And here’s the global planet biosphere:

    So, maybe. There are also indications there might be limits to such growth and, in fact, the rate at which oceans, for instance, can take up CO2 is limited by diffusion and other processes. (Not that they are at all saturated, simply that they can also take so much per unit time.)

    There’s still every reason to worry. But there are also reasons to hope.

  362. @Michael 2,

    I did not address the life cycle costs and environmental impacts of the solar panels because it wasn’t part of the present question. And, frankly, that’s often raised by people who oppose PV — and wind farms, and EVs — as a red herring about why they are environmental fraudsters when, in fact, for the most part they are not. The findings upon which these claims are based, not surprisingly, use the same techniques climate deniers use — cherry-picking, typically of early, old models of said PVs, wind turbines, and EVs. It’s like assigning the combustion costs of coal on a utility grid which uses them to the owner and user of an EV.

    In fact, and, with all your feigned applause for our efforts, I’m surprised you didn’t think of this, our PV panels are made by SunPower which, as rated by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, is rated either #1 or #2 for has the best environmental impact of any manufacturer, globally, and the best workforce rating. Naturally we wouldn’t have bought just any panel.

    Also, we are not proposing everyone do as we did. This is just that the matter is central to our activism and, to begin with, we need to set an example. Also, as noted above, we are/were early adopters as well as believing that, in the long run, as these solutions get cheaper in capital outlays, they will be more accessible to everyone. I also noted — if you bothered to read it — that installing PV on individual homes is not the solution for most but, rather, community solar is the solution. I also noted that this was opposed by utilities and by some homeowners with NIMBYist and possibly other motivations.

    I also noted, most recently, that I see this as an investment, and that, one the investments pay for themselves, they will be profit centers, in other words, a business investment.

    Finally, SunPower has a license clause that, even if you purchase the panels, you are more or less required to return them to them at the end of their lives, otherwise you own them money. (In other words, there’s a discount built into the panels.) This is SunPower simply embracing producer responsibility. Their motivation, explained up front, is they very much want to re-use as much of the panels as they can.

    I also find your complaints about the amount of energy consumed in manufacture of said PV highly disingenuous if you have ever bought gifts for the end of year holiday season. Those are completely unnecessary, and the energy that goes into producing them, even for one typical American family for one year, far outweighs all the energy used to produce our PVs. Ever seen what it takes to make a single aluminum can? How much energy do you think it takes to make the 180 or so plastic water bottles a single American uses in a year on average? Those are completely unnecessary as well.

  363. Michael 2 says:

    To Hypergeometric: I am really impressed by the specs on those solar panels. The length and detail of your reply suggests I have succeeded to make my point; good for you now there’s 7 billion more people not really equipped to follow your example. That you make it part of your church is refreshing. TANSTAAFL.

    But what about specifics? I did some research and found it remarkably difficult to get straight answers. “the Merrimack Station generates enough to make 50 panels every hour” at 4.8 Megawatts, or 96 KWh per panel. https://www.quora.com/How-much-conventional-energy-is-used-to-manufacture-a-solar-panel-say-250Wp-and-how-much-solar-energy-does-the-same-panel-generate-in-its-life-time

    So you *could* power a solar panel factory by solar panels except for the problem of continuous power; the furnaces for smelting silicon cannot be turned off once a melt starts. Finding out how long that takes has also been elusive; 1 to 2 millimeters per minute is the example crystal growth rate in this source. There’s a Youtube video of the process and it takes about 30 hours: [https:]//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYj_vqcyI78
    [https:]//www.tf.uni-kiel.de/matwis/amat/elmat_en/kap_6/backbone/r6_1_2.html

    To Mal Adapted: I hope someday that people quit Capitalizing Science in the same place that others Capitalize Catholicism (or any ism). “As a cultural adaptation for explaining and predicting ‘objective’ reality, only Science is more successful than divination with a sheep’s liver”

    Divination is a procedure, “science” is a container and when capitalized, a religion or at least an “ism”.

  364. zebra says:

    @Willard,

    “capital is not capitalism”

    ??? I thought I just said that ???

    But, one can “store up riches” by

    1. Exchanging labor for coins, or salt, or other non-perishable items of value, in excess of what one exchanges for goods and services
    2. Using violence to prevent others from using resources that exist in nature– land, trees, petroleum, and so on.

    Not capitalism.

    But, supplying “stored up riches” to support someone who studies the workings of nature (physics and other sciences), in the hopes of increasing one’s stored up riches… yes, capitalism.

    Stored riches = capital, but only if you use it in an attempt to increase it. Not if you throw a party.

    As to science…universities are all about investing capital, are they not? Whether State funded or “private”, you have a lot of people spending surplus riches in order to support researchers and students, in hopes of some future returns, whether personal or to society as a whole.

    Everyone has to eat every day, whether their work yields immediate results or not. That’s what capitalism allows.

  365. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    “politics, markets, hah, hah hah”

    First, what I’m actually hoping for in the economic marketplace is indeed some kind of overwhelming nonlinear market disruption. I very much want the present day utilities and the fossil fuel companies and their shareholders and, probably, by logic, a bunch of their employees, to lose their financial shirts.

    Sounds contradictory to me.

    Politics: Restrict CO2 production. Has been done (EPA) and would have continued and increased, given different political outcomes.

    Politics: Utilities are designated common carriers only; not generators, enabling transactions between consumers and generators. Sounds exactly like your future grid, so why do you object?

    Markets: Generation modalities will be sorted out by optimization. Trading factoids with Micheal2 is pointless. Changing a paradigm means changing a paradigm, so whatever you guys come up with would probably not apply. Maybe all solar panel manufacturers would hook up to hydro or build their own nuclear plant so they could keep the furnaces hot, and also supply other industries with similar needs. Residential and commercial would do mostly solar and wind with some backup, or whatever works best.

    Again, change means change. And, as with EV, the real point is that such a paradigm is simply better, even putting aside climate.

  366. @zebra.

    Sounds contradictory to me.

    It’s not, because no operating market has anticipated a technological disruption in its price signals.

  367. Willard says:

    > ??? I thought I just said that ???

    Yet you used the claim that “there is no science without capital to support scientists” to support your other claim that “without capitalism, there is no physics or other science,” which is historically false.

    ***

    > As to science…universities are all about investing capital, are they not?

    Not really, but even it if was, you’re still going from capital to capitalism, which is quite a metaphysical leap. Do you at least know who invented the concept of capital?

    As you can see, arguing by rhetorical questions can quickly become tedious.

  368. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    I don’t know how your are defining “technological disruption” here, or “anticipation”. Certainly, if I recall articles I have read correctly, coal mines are not a popular investment these days.

    But you haven’t answered the important question, as to why you think the combination of political and market forces would not lead to the optimized grid as I described, since you seem to be promoting distributed generation and micro-grids and good stuff like that as well.

  369. at HG: you are preaching to the choir. Marylea and I have a solar array on the front of our house. We have a solar hot water heater in place that preheats water that goes to our heat pump water heater. We have looked hard for a way to get to a zero carbon footprint on shelter, but we are in a large 100 year old house and that poses challenges that are best managed by tearing it down and starting over, which we are not prepared to do. We powered our smaller, rural home with hydro, solar panels in the late 80s.

    This falls in to the “even if it’s hopeless, I still want to do my best” category. We all know the personal sacrifices that we make and think/hope our level of engagement with the problem we face is truly the best we can do, but I have watched as my community of friends has worked for the past decade plus to create models of low consumption and small carbon footprint and I have watched the CO2 levels continue to rise and observed that the rate of increase is accelerating. From those observations I deduce that the most effective way to address the buildup of CO2(e) in atmosphere and oceans has to be scaled through market processes like carbon tax so that scales fast enough to be seen in the level of CO2 buildup in atmosphere and oceans.

    That does not mean I don’t care about the small scale demo model of green living. That’s where I have been living for most of my life. Cheers and warm regards to all of you who are doing likewise, you are my extended community and tribe.

    Mike

  370. I don’t know how your are defining “technological disruption” here, or “anticipation”. Certainly, if I recall articles I have read correctly, coal mines are not a popular investment these days.

    Think digital cameras. Kodak hit its all time high in stock price in 1997, and in 2011 it was bankrupt. It invented digital cameras. This is a common plot.

    But you haven’t answered the important question, as to why you think the combination of political and market forces would not lead to the optimized grid as I described, since you seem to be promoting distributed generation and micro-grids and good stuff like that as well.

    Because the existing companies and institutions need to revamp their business models, and, with a few exceptions, they won’t. Accordingly what will happen is that they’ll try to fumble along with their present ones, trying to exploit regulatory capture and other gimmicks, until they fall on their faces.

  371. Mal Adapted says:

    M2:

    I hope someday that people quit Capitalizing Science in the same place that others Capitalize Catholicism (or any ism).

    Heh. Lawyers make their livings by straining at gnats and swallowing camels, and M2’s complaint may exemplify the former. Yet credit where credit is due: I have some of the same misgivings he does about reckless capitalization, so disambiguation is called for.

    YMMV, but I capitalize ‘Science’ to signify a proper noun, like ‘Catholicism’. Capitalized, ‘Science’ encompasses the manifold aspects of the global cultural institution that, since about 1500 CE, has formalized and supported the accumulation of epistemically justified knowledge (Latin: scientia) about intersubjectively-verifiable (pre-PoMo, ‘objective’) reality. Capitalized, ‘Science’ is also the name of the species-wide cultural adaptation that allowed the global population of our species to balloon from 0.5 billion to 7.5 billion in five centuries, by successively weakening or eliminating multiple causes of human mortality and morbidity, as well as hugely multiplying our average resource-gathering capacity. One might also capitalize Science, therefore, to personify it as both the source of so many apparent blessings and the metaphorical author of the Tragedy of the Global Commons. That last phrase, BTW, is capitalized for allusion to a work of dramatic art.

  372. zebra says:

    @Willard,

    It is more tedious to spend time arguing about definitions, though.

    I illustrated how I think about “capitalism”. If you don’t like the term, let’s call it zapitalism. Science, whether in its modern form or earlier attempts to understand the workings of the universe, has been supported by excess wealth. That excess (zapital) might have been in private hands, or a government’s. You may have counterexamples; I’m happy to hear them.

    But I really don’t get what you mean by “going from capital to capitalism”. You must be misinterpreting something somewhere; maybe you could explain in more detail.

  373. Willard says:

    > But I really don’t get what you mean by “going from capital to capitalism”.

    Which part of

    Yet you used the claim that “there is no science without capital to support scientists” to support your other claim that “without capitalism, there is no physics or other science,” which is historically false.

    you do not get?

    ***

    > It is more tedious to spend time arguing about definitions, though.

    Then stop making them up.

  374. Mal Adapted says:

    Addendum to my previous comment: I think M2’s difficulty, and/or mine, is with synecdoche ;^D.

  375. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    I’m pretty sure I’ve expressed my opinion about regulatory capture and delaying tactics by existing industrial complexes here more than once, and here I am saying “break the monopoly status of the utilities!”, and yet you are acting as if I am disagreeing with you about those things.

    The existence of free markets depends on government policies to maintain competition and to internalize potential externalities.

    So, when I say, essentially, you have to win the election and use those policies to promote market optimization, what’s your alternative? I don’t think waiting for cold fusion is a reasonable option.

  376. zebra says:

    @Willard,

    Science is all about making up definitions, rather than arguing about them.

    And I’m still eager to hear the historical counterexamples that would support your position.

  377. Willard says:

    > Science is all about making up definitions

    For geometry, perhaps.

    ***

    > I’m still eager to hear the historical counterexamples that would support your position.

    Geometry, for starters.

  378. @zebra,

    I’m not saying we disagree about anything. I just make distinctions between the cartoon version of how markets are supposed to work, how they work, and the failure of price signals to anticipate disruptions. Digital cameras were thriving in 1997 when Kodak hit its high stock price.

    I don’t see politics as being effective because the public is not going to impose upon themselves the financial burdens and penalties needed to fix matters, even if leaders get elected who understand what needs to be done.

  379. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    The existence of free markets depends on government policies to maintain competition and to internalize potential externalities.

    Word, as my wholly hypothetical grandchildren would once have affirmed. Even George F. Will thought so (“a mature capitalist economy is a government project“), post-Enron at least.

    I’m afraid the hypervigilance for economics-denial BBD encountered was first alerted by hyperg. Say it ain’t so, Jan!

  380. zebra says:

    @Willard,

    What’s really, really, tedious is “arguing” with someone when I can make their case better than they can, and they are engaging in rope-a-dope.

    Turning the chessboard around, I would have come up with Einstein, and claimed that he had a day job when he was doing his most important work. Not that it would actually refute my original claim, but at least it would indicate some knowledge of the subject.

    And speaking of Einstein…”for geometry, perhaps”? What, unlike physics? Oh wait!

  381. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    “cartoon version…”

    Yeah, this is another one of these silly definition-debate things. There is no such thing as a free market if it “doesn’t work”– then it isn’t a free market. I think a little more rigor is needed to analyze the problem and its solutions; you can’t set the propaganda version of markets against the foundational theory.

    So, so far, you seem to be abandoning the idea of doing something even if it isn’t perfect?

    We have elected people who have implemented policies to reduce CO2 emissions.
    In many locales, there has been legislation along the lines I propose to reduce monopolistic aspects of electricity utilities.
    And other examples in other areas of our mutual concern.

    Is it enough? Of course not. But you still haven’t offered an alternative to continuing to try.

  382. Mal Adapted says:

    hyperg:

    I don’t see politics as being effective because the public is not going to impose upon themselves the financial burdens and penalties needed to fix matters, even if leaders get elected who understand what needs to be done.

    If not, there is absolutely nothing to done but witness our onrushing doom. Capping the warming (I hereby predict) below 6 degrees necessarily involves politics, individual voluntary efforts won’t be enough. That’s because private economic agents have been ‘free’ to externalize the climate-change costs of fossil fuels on the historically attested ‘free’ market for energy (once again, ‘free’ here means ‘nobody makes ’em pay per transaction’ and ‘without collective intervention to internalize social costs of private transactions’, respectively).

    Again, ‘collective’ here refers to all geographic and administrative scales; again I link to E. Ostrom for the argumentum ad verecundiam. Again I point out that Ostrom thought the aggregate effect of multiple smaller-scale (i.e. polycentric) collective actions might not be enough either, so that a global collective decision might also be required.

  383. Is it enough? Of course not. But you still haven’t offered an alternative to continuing to try.

    Well, whatever’s happening ain’t workin’:

    And that doesn’t even begin to consider the indirect emissions we control and cause by consumption.

    The alternatives are obvious, but they’re not gonna happen. US$500-$1500/tCO2e emissions fine, imposed everywhere including on imported products at the border based upon emissions when manufactured. That’s what’s needed and way bigger than any proposal for a Carbon Tax, and it will necessarily have a choking effect on the present economic, even if phased in.

    What will happen without such a measure is that emissions will continue, and then Bad Stuff will begin to happen. Because of climate lags, even if humanity decides to do something drastic, Bad Stuff will continue and even increase. We’ll either suffer a financial crash because of the costs of Bad Stuff, or from self-imposed cutbacks on production and economic activity, or because we need to pay into a global project for clear air Carbon capture. The crash will reduce economic activity on its own.

  384. Michael 2 says:

    Followup: I appreciate Mal Adapted explaining what is in his Science box. It is a good description that includes the social, political and scientific aspects of Science; perhaps with an emphasis on the social aspects of improving quality of life. I suppose I could even speculate that Science is the invisible force behind science that pushes homo sapiens further and further away from cave dwelling ancestors.

  385. BBD says:

    + 1 Mal

    The appealing notion of a grassroots, bottom-up transition to a full energy transition is problematic. In the US, the necessary W&S capacity can only be unlocked by very large scale commercial exploitation of the premium wind (N) and solar (SW) resources. Actually getting the electricity to major urban demand centres requires significant addition of long-distance transmission capacity, plus grid interconnections. Very expensive and very time-consuming. But only when the US has a unified national grid fully integrating its major natural W&S resources can it actually power itself on renewables (leave the 80% vs 100% argument aside for now). The problem with ‘energy localism’ and Zebra’s ‘peer to peer’ plan is that neither will drive the huge, fundamental infrastructure evolution necessary for an energy transition and localism doesn’t have the capacity potential to power the nation. So they may be necessary but they are not sufficient. Only federal government can make the really big stuff happen, and happen fast enough, to get the job done. Whether it will or not is a separate question. But without centralised government oversight and enablement, the US will not be capable of an energy transition.

  386. @BBD,

    In New England and especially near Massachusetts, we are blessed by lots and lots of wind, onshore, near shore, and out farther on the shelf. Wind is another kind of solar. This is ready to be used and exploited, and could go a long way towards solving New England, and help with NYC and NJ. That is being encouraged, to some degree. But the “peers” are playing NIMBY, including some who claim environmental motivations. And this is really getting in the way.

    People just don’t get it.

  387. Michael 2 says:

    BBD writes “without centralised government oversight and enablement, the US will not be capable of an energy transition.”

    Concur. The “grid” must be made larger, not smaller; transporting enormous quantities of energy from slightly unpredictable sources to definitely predictable destinations. Without monopoly assurance it is unlikely anyone would invest in such a scheme.

  388. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:
  389. Mal Adapted says:

    M2:

    I suppose I could even speculate that Science is the invisible force behind science that pushes homo sapiens further and further away from cave dwelling ancestors.

    That would be consistent with a cherished illusion of human progress toward an eschatological goal. This sort of epistemically unjustified belief motivates some of my fellow Americans to resist internalizing the cost of AGW in the price of their comfort and convenience. The energy in fossil carbon, goes the argument, is divinely provided, so how can there be any hidden or deferred costs?

  390. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    A newly acquired game for me is to go to locations around the Newport area and see if I can spot the Block Island wind “farm”– I use quotes because it’s really pretty pitiful, compared to Europe, but at the same time, it is an inspiring sight. An example of not enough, but the potential is there.

    It’s in the 20+ mile range, but I’ve managed to pick them up sometimes at places I’ve tried.

    I really don’t get why anyone would object to them at those distances; much of the time they aren’t visible at all, and unobtrusive when they are.

  391. > What’s really, really, tedious is “arguing” with someone when I can make their case better than they can, and they are engaging in rope-a-dope.

    I don’t think a rope-a-dope means what you make it mean, zebra. A rope-a-dope looks like this: going from capitalism to capital, from the concept of capital to definitions, from definitions to science, and from science to physics. I agree such rope-a-dope is tedious. You asked for clarification and you got served. Then you tried to play the hard of hearing, and you got served again. Then you asked for a countermodel. You got one.

    Now, you got two main choices. Either you bite the bullet and acknowledge that you define capital as any kind of resource, which implies that “capitalism” is a necessary state for mankind (pending a purely spiritualist way of life), or you accept that your conception of capitalism is wrong as a matter of historical fact, and with it your claim that science implies capital understood in the ordinary (and economic) sense, i.e. only one factor of production among many.

    So as I see it, your point is either trivial or false.

    How’s that for a rope-a-dope?

  392. zebra says:

    @Mal-A,

    Yes, things will get very bad. But, you and Hyper-G (and others of course) don’t seem willing to discuss what to do about the fact that there are all these impediments.

    Instead, there is a lot of rhetoric, and being righteous and moral, and Nirvana-reasoning, and wringing of hands. Solving problems requires some basic things like clearly articulated (realistic) goals, agreement about terminology (and the use of sound logic), and accepting the unpleasant current realities, and accepting the probability of unpleasant future contingencies.

    How much time has been wasted by you and I having to explain what “free market” refers to as you and I use it, over and over? Or “capitalism”? If people sincerely want to come up with a design for the future that minimizes disruption and suffering, we have to set aside the rhetorical gamesmanship.

    You can’t have a constructive disagreement until you first agree on the fundamentals.

    Read Krugman’s column today and the comments. I’ve been making the case for a long time about the problem of Authoritarian personality traits in an unfortunately large part of the US population, and it sounds like people are finally beginning to see how intractable it may be. All the graphs and haranguing in the world aren’t going to change how these people vote. And, Hyper-G, it isn’t because they are thinking about the economic effects on them; it’s because they are conditioned to tribal solidarity.

  393. BBD says:

    Solving problems requires some basic things like clearly articulated (realistic) goals

    The clearly articulated goal is an energy transition for the US. It will be rendered unrealistic by fallacious ‘market based’ rhetoric instead of getting the US grid into a fit state to deliver the necessary W&S capacity to power the nation.

    Nirvana-reasoning

    No.

  394. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    But, you and Hyper-G (and others of course) don’t seem willing to discuss what to do about the fact that there are all these impediments.

    Stray microaggressions aside, z, you have some cojones to presume what I’m willing to discuss. What if I just haven’t gotten around to it yet ;^)? Never mind, we’re all narcissists, more or less.

    Instead, there is a lot of rhetoric, and being righteous and moral, and Nirvana-reasoning, and wringing of hands.

    As one narcissist to another, that’s a little childish. IMHO we (i.e. aTTP regulars who concur with the consensus of climate specialists) are all in vehement agreement about the urgency of the problem. We all know AGW is the effect of ultimate causes leading back to the primordial singularity, and proximate causes as immediate as the price of gasoline today. We all wish to see the warming capped as soon as realistically possible.

    OTOH, reality is vast, and no one apprehends it directly or entirely. We each have a unique perspective, with its own ultimate and proximate causes. Some portion of our urgency is moral, as we each sense morality to be; rhetoric is thus indispensable for achieving our shared goal. Your own proposals for action are well informed, (mostly) well thought out, and well written, and I happen to agree with them for the most part. Yet you’re not the first person to make them, and every well-informed, thoughtful climate realist is aware of them in some form. I’m sorry to have to say this, z: per the mediocrity principle, neither you nor I are special 8^(.

    You can at least avoid some hard knocks your elders took, if you’re paying attention. My own irredeemably mediocre perspective shifted slightly upon my retirement a year ago. At this juncture, I hope to be alive in 2050. I’ve got the rest of my life to listen to what other well-informed, thoughtful and articulate people say, and to say what I think needs to be said, however mediocre, to anyone who can hear it. The effort to cap AGW will continue after my death. I’d love to see superlative progress toward global decarbonization by then, but I don’t expect the future to be any less infinite or more visible than it is now. I don’t, however, expect a miraculous change in human nature. Indeed I’m sufficiently confident any such thing would be an illusion.

    YMMV, z, but I’m taking the long view. Meanwhile, I’m daily more certain there’s no fool like an old narcissist.

  395. Willard says:

    > Instead, there is a lot of rhetoric, and being righteous and moral, and Nirvana-reasoning, and wringing of hands.

    If only we could all listen to Progress Man:

  396. zebra says:

    @Mal-A,

    Actually I think I’m the elder here, if you just retired. :-p

    However, I am a sprightly old white guy, and disinclined to indulge social-media indulgences.

    The whole idea is to overcome the narcissistic tendencies (and other foibles) and work together to find a solution, even if it never has any effect outside this discussion. If that can’t happen among some smart people who agree on the seriousness of the problem, then how would it happen “in the real world” when half the people in the US are Trump voters?

    Let’s remember that the Russian campaign in the last campaign involved setting people against each other who should have been united. We see much the same rhetorical divisions here; so the poison continues to do its work.

  397. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    However, I am a sprightly old white guy, and disinclined to indulge social-media indulgences.

    You’re soaking in it.


    If that can’t happen among some smart people who agree on the seriousness of the problem, then how would it happen “in the real world” when half the people in the US are Trump voters?

    Half of 5% of the “real world’s” people are Trump supporters?

    Is that what US conservatives call a moral majority?

  398. jacksmith4tx says:

    “then how would it happen “in the real world” when half the people in the US are Trump voters?”
    We need to get that number up to 80-90% Trump voters and raise global debt-to-GDP to 500% and I think humanity will reboot. Maybe next time we will be more careful.
    https://www.redpepper.org.uk/global-debt-is-fast-approaching-quarter-of-quadrillion-dollars/

  399. zebra says:

    @Jebediah etc,

    Mal and I have mostly talked about policies in the USA exclusively, so he would understand what I said.

    But why do you think somehow the US is exceptional? Putin enjoys massive support, the Brits voted to cut themselves off from evil dark-skinned furriners, Saudis applaud their boy-warmonger prince, Eastern Europe is returning to its Authoritarian roots, Arabs and Israelis, Egyptians, on and on…. no, the particular psychology of Authoritarians is universal in humans and developed by upbringing and circumstance. And then exploited by “leaders”.

  400. Willard says:

    > We see much the same rhetorical divisions here

    We?

    One might as well argue that critical thinking is the shortest route to authoritarianism.

  401. Mal Adapted says:

    Z, yes, the idea is to overcome one’s narcissistic propensities. A consensus appears to be emerging in the behavioral sciences, however, that places narcissism on an axis of personality dimensions that are highly heritable. That implies they can only be mitigated, not overcome, even with advanced self-awareness. Mitigation, fortunately, may be a simple matter of policing one’s thoughts. Just ask yourself “what would Narcissus do?” (WWND), and resist doing that 8^D!

  402. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    …no, the particular psychology of Authoritarians is universal in humans and developed by upbringing and circumstance. And then exploited by “leaders”.

    This goes a long way to explaining why we are all members of the Spartan Krypteia.

  403. Vinny Burgoo says:

    zebra: ‘…the Brits voted to cut themselves off from evil dark-skinned furriners…’

    I wondered what Brexit was about. Solved. Thanks.

  404. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    how would it happen “in the real world” when half the people in the US are Trump voters?

    Good thing only 26% of eligible US voters voted for Trump. Srsly, dude?

    z:

    why do you think somehow the US is exceptional?

    The way the USA has implemented popular sovereignty is historically rare and perhaps unique, but it’s not exceptional on any rational (i.e. ratiocinative) moral scale. We have a quantitatively exceptional responsibility for causing AGW. We possess, by some metrics, exceptional aggregate economic power in the world. Our potential contribution to the global AGW mitigation project is proportionate to that. It’s all a matter of scale (or else scope).

    If the 2016 US Presidential election were held today, a few thousand votes in key districts would have had a disproportionate effect, perhaps leading to a historically exceptional result. If only a few percent more voters had taken exception to Trump 8^(! Is that really so exceptional as to be out of reach in the next election, or the following one?

  405. @Mal_Adapted,

    I’d also suggest that if people who say they care about the environment actually voted, there may have been a different outcome.

  406. Mal Adapted says:

    Heh. A science policy news headline in the previous issue of Nature is titled Russian science chases escape from mediocrity. Errm, good luck with that to everyone, without exception 8^).

  407. Mal Adapted says:

    hyperg:

    I’d also suggest that if people who say they care about the environment actually voted, there may have been a different outcome.

    Whatever helps assemble an anti-AGW-denial plurality! Anyone going that far in my direction is a fellow traveler (not this kind, however).

  408. zebra says:

    @Mal-A and Hyper-G,

    “26%, seriously dude”
    “didn’t vote”

    Yes, this is exactly what I am talking about.

    You have to get over the idea that somehow your powers of persuasion are going to shift the balance in a way that overcomes structural, behavioral, and psychological issues, and the manipulations of the obstructionists, and achieve change at the levels you are hoping for. The reason I get frustrated is that this is all-data-and-science-based, but the “science side” ignores it.

    Face it, humans can be very rigorous and disciplined within their scientific discipline, and still engage in wishful and magical thinking about everything else.

    Think longer term, and accept that incremental progress is mostly what you are going to achieve, but only if you win elections. Those five wind turbines off Block Island that I like to hunt aren’t much, but they are the camel’s nose, to coin an unlikely metaphor. Instead of talking about massive immediate changes, how about just getting five more?

  409. BBD says:

    You have to get over the idea that somehow your powers of persuasion are going to shift the balance in a way that overcomes structural, behavioral, and psychological issues, and the manipulations of the obstructionists, and achieve change at the levels you are hoping for.

    Imagine saying this to a different crowd in an earlier time.

  410. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    You have to get over the idea that somehow your powers of persuasion are going to shift the balance in a way that overcomes structural, behavioral, and psychological issues, and the manipulations of the obstructionists, and achieve change at the levels you are hoping for.

    LOL! Did that. It’s your turn to get over yourself next 8^D! Are you sure you’re older than me?

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion! (Robert Burns, To a Louse)

    z: Instead of talking about massive immediate changes, how about just getting five more?
    Who’s talking about massive immediate changes? I’ll be happy with five more votes ;^)

  411. zebra says:

    @Mal and Hyper-G,

    “five more votes”

    Which you expect to get by proposing a tax increase? Talk about getting over yourself! 😉

    I don’t know if your figures comport with Hyper’s, but I would be impressed if numbers like $50 to $150 passed any Congress that we are likely to have in the next 30 years, much less his $500 to $1500. And I imaging Hyper has done the math to some degree.

    You can’t compare me trying to influence people here who (obviously, and perhaps excessively) think for themselves, using rational arguments, with what it takes to accomplish things politically in the USA, and what is possible. And again– why the reluctance to discuss that? You can’t begin the journey without the first step.

  412. @zebra,

    Yes, although I did not do the calculations. My numbers are from a chart which Dr Glen Peters has in some of his presentations which regards the size of Carbon Tax needed to get us where we need to go. Prof Kevin Anderson argues that Carbon Taxes of any kind won’t really work. He suggests what we need are Personal Carbon Allowances which get rachetted downwards.

    The things about Carbon taxes are (a) they take time to have their affects, (b) many things use and consume Carbon, not just for consumption, e.g., water bottles, and (c) when emissions become low, Carbon taxes actually disincentivize their being reduced further. These are true even if they are high enough to hurt, which means high enough to have an appreciable effect.

  413. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    I’m sure everyone is having fun doing the calculations and presenting them and debating which will “work” or not.

    Still, the important numbers question is being dodged– what are the numbers of people you need to get elected? And would you achieve that if you run a campaign promising a tax hike based on what Dr Glen and Professor Kevin say?

    I think even if you could get a super-majority of Democrats in place, you still wouldn’t be able to pass a bill that is 10% of what they are talking about, because of regional vested interests. (And even if you did that, it would be used to stir up the right-wing base, as with ACA, and flip control back the other way.)

    All these plans are fine academic exercises, to be sure, but….

  414. BBD says:

    … no energy transition for the USA then. Definitely not, since it won’t build the necessary grid infrastructure either. So you future is international climate pariah beyond anything even Trump could achieve.

    It’s going to be uncomfortable being hated that much by the rest of the world.

  415. I think carbon tax is a transition step, not a solution. I like Kevin Anderson’s idea of Personal Carbon Allowance (PCA), but it sounds like a scheme that would lend itself to exploitation. Maybe I am wrong about that. I will google the idea.

    The positive thing about carbon tax is that it is an established model at this time and expansion of an established model is probably more likely to be successful than moving the goalposts by switching discussion to something like a personal carbon allowance. Again, maybe I am wrong about this, has PCA been established anywhere? I think a lot of American right wing types (you know, the people in charge here) might see PCA as a big government project, something even more abhorrent than taxes.

    Imho, the bottom line continues to be that the species is not agreeable to any sort collective action scaled at a level to respond appropriately to the existential threat of CO2 buildup in atmosphere and oceans. The moment to slam on the brakes passed some time ago and we still have a heavy foot on the gas pedal.

  416. @BBD,

    Oh there will be an energy transition, if only from the bottom of the economic hierarchy. But there’ll also probably be an unplanned collapse of regional utilities and grids as a result, with many operating under court supervision.

  417. BBD says:

    Oh there will be an energy transition

    You can’t have an energy transition with a half-baked grid that doesn’t integrate the premium wind and solar resources. Since grass roots solar as you advocate it will do further damage to the local and regional grids by bankrupting the utilities that own them, it’s difficult to see anything but a morass of failure ahead.

  418. @BBD,

    Didn’t say it would be pretty, @BBD, and I didn’t say it would get us where we need to go. I simply said that the natural failure of vested interests to drastically change their business model would create disruptive conditions, because the grass roots will go where the economics tell them to go. And, yes, that intermediate layer, propped up as it is by government support, will be in a state which could be well-categorized as a morass of failure.

    This could have been done differently. People talk about costs of government regulation. There is also a cost to anarchy or price of anarchy as the economists like to call it. Putting refineries near the coast in hurricane-prone regions? Allowing individual towns and cities to override solar farms and wind turbines? Or allowing them to veto the passage of nuclear wastes through their towns?

    What else could you expect from the rugged individualism in the United States?

  419. Michael 2 says:

    BBD “It’s going to be uncomfortable being hated that much by the rest of the world.”

    I think you overestimate how much some Americans might be concerned about what nations our ancestors fled from now think about the new home of the escapees.

    It motivates some, maybe many, people to say “I am going to hate you unless you do as I say” but in case that does not work perhaps have some other strategy than withholding your love.

    For the British, the exact same can be said of their relationship with Europeans; it may be uncomfortable being British when Britain is hated by the European Union.

    For Scotland and England, hated by the other side.

    For Highlanders and Lowlanders, being hated by the other side.

    And so on until the only comparison is you and your neighbor and you wish he’d would turn down the thumpy music at klokken 23 and you are going to hate him if he doesn’t. Does he care? Probably not. If he cared he wouldn’t be imposing on you in the first place.

  420. Mal Adapted says:

    smb:

    The positive thing about carbon tax is that it is an established model at this time and expansion of an established model is probably more likely to be successful than moving the goalposts by switching discussion to something like a personal carbon allowance.

    Good point. A yet more positive thing about a national revenue-neutral carbon fee (i.e. tax, duh) and dividend with border adjustment tariff, similar to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby proposal, is that it’s revenue-neutral, nipping ‘tax and spend’ objections in the bud. Still more positive is the net income transfer downward, fostering competitive personal decarbonization with each dividend, while maintaining a clear price signal against fossil carbon.

    Then there’s the projected subsequent market-driven buildout of carbon-neutral energy supplies and infrastructure, completing the crucial transition quickly and cost-effectively in the US and the world. What’s not to like, for a soi-disant conservative?

  421. BBD says:

    M2

    I think you overestimate

    I think you underestimate how global ostracism could affect the US economically as well as culturally. The true price of American exceptionalism may be higher than even the more rugged individualists are prepared to pay.

  422. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    I’m finding your reasoning somewhat contradictory. What entity other than towns and cities should be able to override solar farms and wind turbines? Or oil refineries, for that matter?

    We have national standards for environmental/safety effects, to whatever extent they might be enforced. Do you think the typical targets of refinery-builders, being poor and minority, shouldn’t be able to raise objections and have codes that protect them locally if they can?

    You’ve made it clear you understand about regulatory capture; this problem has nothing to do with any “individualist philosophy”, it is simply the usual corruption and backroom dealing that goes on when there’s money involved. Until you break the utility monopoly position with respect to generation, locating solar installations is the least of our worries.

    That, by the way, is the kind of thing that can be encouraged politically at the Federal level. Interstate commerce—common carrier.

  423. Willard says:

    > I’m finding your reasoning somewhat contradictory.

    This is not something that can be settled using socratic questioning, zebra.

    ***

    > Until you break the utility monopoly position with respect to generation

    The cat is slowly but surely starting to come out of its extreme centrist bag.

  424. Mal Adapted:

    A yet more positive thing about a national revenue-neutral carbon fee (i.e. tax, duh) and dividend with border adjustment tariff, similar to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby proposal, is that it’s revenue-neutral, nipping ‘tax and spend’ objections in the bud. Still more positive is the net income transfer downward, fostering competitive personal decarbonization with each dividend, while maintaining a clear price signal against fossil carbon.

    Then there’s the projected subsequent market-driven buildout of carbon-neutral energy supplies and infrastructure, completing the crucial transition quickly and cost-effectively in the US and the world.

    Not to put this all on you, Mal, but I really wish that advocates of a carbon tax who then also recommend revenue-neutrality and per capita dividends as the revenue recycling mechanism would get their narrative straight and not confusing matters further.

    I honestly think that part of the problem is that the Citizens Climate Lobby messaging (and that of Hansen and Hayhoe and others who have taken it on) is that they drill “fee&dividend” into their members’ heads as if it is one thing.

    The fee is the price signal that is meant to ensure that the product in question – carbon – bears the social cost of the externalities that it imposes on broader environment, population, etc.

    Assuming that price gets imposed as some sort of a tax, then you are inevitably faced with the dilemma of what to do with that revenue. And there are, of course, endless revenue-recycling options for the tax-collecting authority.

    What CCL and its members and advocates should be clear and honest about is that their joint (although again, technically separate) calls that the revenue-recycling be both “revenue-neutral” and “(per capita) dividend” are almost entirely about vote-getting.

    “Revenue neutrality” is about mollifying the part of the electorate that thinks that Reagan had a point when he said “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”. And “(per capita) dividend” is about making the incidence of the tax extremely progressive and downwardly redistributive, thereby potentially appealing to the broadest part of the electorate.

    That’s it. There is no more magic left after you get to that point. (To your credit, Mal, you partially own that by acknowledging the “nipping ‘tax and spend’ objections in the bud” aspect.)

    Leaving aside the fact that polling indicates that when given the options, for US electorates anyway, tend to favour government spending of clean energy over dividends, what the CCL-types then tend to is make a claim that somehow the “revenue neutrality” and “dividend” parts of their proposal are going to have some significant hand in spurring the financing of the required decarbonization.

    There is zero evidence for that, and it runs counter to basically everything we know about economics.

    If I have imposed some sort of “tax” on a good, and then I deposit, say, $100/month into every adults bank account, how do you think that money is going to get spent.

    Again, leaving aside whether the recipients should (or would) think about this money differently than any other income they had (which, rationally or as “utility-maximizers”, they should not)… and also recognizing that the “tax” could be on anything that is unequally consumed across the population (sugar, water, diamonds, sports tickets, anything)… what can we reasonably say about the spending and investment effects of such a scheme?

    First off, the dividend is almost certainly to be redistributive downward for income. Since most of the carbon (or diamonds or sports tickets, etc.) are currently purchased by the highest income earners, they will disproportionately bear most of the costs of the tax, and the recycled revenue will disproportionately flow to lower income earners. Lower income earners tend to spend more and save (invest) less, so the first order effect will be to reduce investment. (This is doubly so for the carbon “per capita” dividend, because income is also redistributed from businesses to individuals.)

    Then there is the question of “how will the $100/month get spent or invested?”. If, say, the government was saying that every cent would be spent on, say, public transportation, or paying down the debt, etc., this would be fairly obvious. But it is also pretty obvious how the public would spend it: How they currently spend their money* >>> beer, iPods, food, beverages, healthcare, kids sporting team enrollments and tuition, a Caribbean vacation!, lottery tickets, etc.

    Unless some new law of economics mysteriously were to arise, then our best estimate of how much would go into “energy” spending and investment would be approximately what it currently is – about 2% or so, if I recall correctly. So, about $2 of the $100 would go directly into decarbonization transcations, and the rest into “spending/investing as usual”.

    There is nothing wrong or surprising about this, but what is frustrating is to see it framed instead as if it is going to be part of the solution on the spend/investment side as well.

    Actually, there is something somewhat “wrong” about it, because, if you buy into the claim that we need to spend roughly an *extra* 1-to-3% of GDP on energy transition investments, and then you imposed a carbon tax of, say, effectively 1-to-3% of GDP and gave it all back to the public, who spent 98% of it on lottery tickets and bowling shoes, then you would be stuck in the situation of having to say something along the lines of “Ok, we are going to have to either impose another non-revenue-neutral tax, or we are going to have to find some other way to divert investment away from healthcare and telecommunications and nanotechnology and housing and into decarbonization”. And any “public expenditures” would have to financed from other than the “revenue neutral” externality tax that would otherwise have been its most natural funding source.

    Anyway, this is already so long, it is tl;dr for me to go back and even proofread. But I find it particularly galling. And I know that you, Mal, understand it is “part” of the solution only. But I often find the CCL talking points remind me of the H.L. Menckenism “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”

    * Even CCL’s own sponsored economic analyses of the effects of a carbon fee & dividend show that most of the redistributed income would be spent on hospitality, healthcare, etc. (surprise!), but they tend instead to say that it would be “stimulative for the economy”, which is what any consumption tax-with-downward-redistribution is predicted to be, irrespective of the good the tax were to be imposed on.

  425. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    Which you expect to get by proposing a tax increase? Talk about getting over yourself!

    Uh, no. CF&D with BAT isn’t my proposal. It’s already supported by high-profile Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and independents. I advocate it (on blogs, for example) because I provisionally find no flaws in its underlying logic, I’m convinced it could be a large part of the global AGW mitigation solution if it got through the US Congress; and I believe it has a finite chance of doing just that, possibly well before 2050. Call it an act of faith (but not this kind) if you like. I don’t know if I’m getting any votes for CF&D+BAT, but if you assert that I’m losing them you’ll need to show me data. Even if no one US voter votes directly and expressly for CF&D with BAT (we’re not likely to get the chance), I’m hoping to help diminish the stigma, as it were, in Congress. Meanwhile, I’ll be glad for every vote that helps weaken our defacto petro-plutocracy.

    Now, since none of these ideas is my intellectual property, I’ll ask myself “WWND?”, and unilaterally resist responding to stray microaggressions (or frank personal attacks ;^D).

  426. @zebra,

    I’m finding your reasoning somewhat contradictory. What entity other than towns and cities should be able to override solar farms and wind turbines? Or oil refineries, for that matter?

    Sorry for the delay in reply. In part, I was trying to find a reference to solar access rights law in Germany. I was unable to do so, at least in English.

    Basically, I would not seek laws prohibiting, but I would say that to encourage the growth we need, there ought to be a federal law which overrides state and local law granting solar access and light access rights to anyone who actually proceeds and builds a PV installation, whether ground or roof mounted.

    On wind, if there is adequate clearance comparable to what you would need for a water tower, the same should apply.

    And, in both cases, neighbors ought not to be able to interfere.

  427. Mal Adapted says:

    rustneversleeps:

    “Revenue neutrality” is about mollifying the part of the electorate that thinks that Reagan had a point when he said “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”. And “(per capita) dividend” is about making the incidence of the tax extremely progressive and downwardly redistributive, thereby potentially appealing to the broadest part of the electorate.

    Yep, I have no argument with you here. It’s obvious, to me at least, that a national carbon tax isn’t politically feasible otherwise.

    rust (emphasis original):

    Leaving aside the fact that polling indicates that when given the options, for US electorates anyway, tend to favour government spending of clean energy over dividends, what the CCL-types then tend to is make a claim that somehow the “revenue neutrality” and “dividend” parts of their proposal are going to have some significant hand in spurring the financing of the required decarbonization.

    There is zero evidence for that, and it runs counter to basically everything we know about economics.

    Nope, I’m skeptical of that 8^|. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence here, as no national CF&D+BAT has been tested; although I suppose that may look superficially like special pleading. Regardless, the data aren’t all in yet. As for what ‘we’ know about economics: unless you’re including specific persons, you’re overplurifying. IANAE, even if I did take enough courses with ‘Economics’ in the title for an undergraduate minor; yet while not comprehensively literate in the field, I’ve acquired a modicum of scientific meta-literacy, thus I have some idea of where expert consensus sits. YMMV, but that’s the main reason I support a national CF&D+BAT over other carbon tax proposals. Pseudo-skeptics who haven’t passed peer review may claim to be experts, but I’ll leave the arguing to actual specialists.

  428. Mal, I take it you haven’t really read the report you just referred me to, right? The “specialists”? REMI? Amiright?

    Which highlights exactly two of the points that I made.

    1. Most of the CCL – “CF&D+BAT” advocates are not familiar or conversant with the economics of their own proposal, but are very confident of their counter-factual opinion.

    2. The experts state otherwise: (A) The spending/investment effect of the “dividend” is due to its redistributive effects, so that households with less disposable income now have more and are more likely to spend than with the previous distribution. (B) The stuff they will tend to spend it on is the stuff they currently spend it on.

    I have read the REMI report in great detail, so it is somewhat ironic that is what you refer me to. But you don’t even have to get a few sentences into the executive summary to see them make exactly this second point:

    “The industries tied directly to households, such as healthcare, retail, and
    housing construction, tend to do well because FAD increases the overall level of consumer
    spending.”

    Again, CCL/”CF&D+BAT” advocates will tell you that such a regime will “create jobs” and then – from my personal experience – either claim or imply that the jobs will (obviously!) be largely in decarbonization efforts.

    Again, just look at the very REMI report you point me to.

    https://i1.wp.com/rustneversleeps.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/remi.png?ssl=1&w=550

    See that? The jobs (due to the increased spending) are mostly in healthcare, social assistance, food and hospitality, etc.

    Which is exactly what we would expect if we handed some random people on the street an extra $100 and told them it was their rebate from the sugar tax… This is all Economics 101.

    Seriously, you give a bunch of college students in a dorm an extra $100, you think they are going to spend it on insulation?

    And it is this kind of flip “we have a solution!” advocacy which I think – again – is obscuring from us the deep, deep structural changes that we are going to need to make. We need massive increases in decarbonization investments, and this money has to come from somewhere.

    The “dividend” idea might be “saleable” electorally, but it is a disaster from an investment point of view.

  429. Mal Adapted says:

    Rust, in all candor, by ‘pseudo-skeptics’ I only meant ‘not me’. I see you do at least have academic qualifications in Economics.

    And z, believe it or not, I did’t notice the linguistic, albeit juvenile, snark in Burns’s title until after I posted that. Hey, he (or his publisher) chose his titles, not me. Still, beware of juvenile cunning linguists 8^D!

  430. Mal Adapted says:

    rust:

    Most of the CCL – “CF&D+BAT” advocates are not familiar or conversant with the economics of their own proposal, but are very confident of their counter-factual opinion.

    As opposed to your factual one, of course.

    rust:

    The experts state otherwise: (A) The spending/investment effect of the “dividend” is due to its redistributive effects, so that households with less disposable income now have more and are more likely to spend than with the previous distribution. (B) The stuff they will tend to spend it on is the stuff they currently spend it on.

    So? CF&D+BAT will still reduce demand for fossil carbon to the extent that demand is price-sensitive. And some non-zero fraction of the revenue returned to private hands will be invested in carbon-neutral alternatives. Once again IANAE, however, so argue away. In any case our collective choices will inevitably be made on their political merits; one therefore expects advocates for any specific proposal to employ rhetorical tactics.

  431. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    “ought to be a Federal law” “neighbors not able to interfere”

    Ouch. Sorry, but that sounds like a terrible idea even if it could be passed and survive legal challenge. What if it were oil and gas pipelines instead of solar?….oh wait!

    No, what can be passed at the Federal level is what I suggested– utilities as common carriers. Once you do that, and dis-incentivize generating CO2 by fees or regulation, the other stuff can sort itself out. We might get that offshore wind, rooftop solar will make sense for lots of people, and it appears to me as I drive around that larger installations of solar could go up in unused, less desirable locations. That’s happening now, so it just needs to be expanded.

  432. zebra says:

    @Mal A,

    Consider what Rust is telling you. There’s nothing wrong with your suggestion, in principle, but it isn’t a magic bullet. “The” solution is going to be some kind of “all of the above”, but incremental versions of each member of the set of all. And what that version is will be determined by its political viability.

    I may have missed it, but is there anything in place anywhere at a smaller scale as a proof-of-concept? Like, a State gas tax that gets redistributed equally to the residents?

  433. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    Consider what Rust is telling you. There’s nothing wrong with your suggestion, in principle, but it isn’t a magic bullet.

    Well, of course CF&D+BAT isn’t a magic bullet. There are no perfect solutions to AGW, because “out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” What rust is telling me, OTOH, is:

    The “dividend” idea might be “saleable” electorally, but it is a disaster from an investment point of view.

    IMHO rust is making perfect the enemy of good. Regardless, electoral politics is central to any collective decision!

    Let me explain myself once again: the highest priority for climate realists (or at least yours truly) is to slow and eventually halt AGW at the lowest equilibrium GMST realistically feasible. I, for one, believe that requires rapid decarbonization of the global economy. It should be obvious that the equilibrium GMST will be determined by the aggregate effect of all individual and collective decarbonization actions. When all private and social costs and benefits are globally aggregated, I regard a US national CF&D+BAT as a relatively cost-effective collective decarbonization action that leverages basic principles of economics. Since the invisible hand of the ‘free’ market, by socializing the climate-change costs of the energy in fossil carbon, is an ultimate cause of AGW, then it’s reasonable to expect that a proximate nudge to the market by the ‘visible hand’ of collective intervention will reduce the rate of warming and the equilibrium GMST. It’s unreasonable to expect any collective action to be a perfect solution to AGW, but any action that internalizes some fraction of fossil carbon’s climate-change costs will bring us closer to the goal!

    zebra:

    I may have missed it, but is there anything in place anywhere at a smaller scale as a proof-of-concept? Like, a State gas tax that gets redistributed equally to the residents?

    The argument against sub-national CF&D+BAT is that it’s more costly to address “off-shoring”, i.e. circumventing the fee/tariff by moving production and/or consumption to where CF&D+BAT is not in effect. At the national level, it’s relatively easy to collect the per-tonne carbon fee directly from the small number of domestic fuel producers, as well as to intercept fossil fuel imports and the embodied carbon in imported manufactured goods at our national borders.

    And though you didn’t explicitly ask for it, the argument for collecting the fee/tariff from producers, rather than consumers, is that it’s easier to let the relatively small number of producers each decide how much of their increased marginal production cost to add to the prices they charge their customers, and how much they’re willing to subtract from their profit margins.

    I really don’t have a whole lot more to say about a US national CF&D because I’m not an expert in either economics or politics, so I may or may not respond to later comments about it.

  434. BBD says:

    No, what can be passed at the Federal level is what I suggested– utilities as common carriers. Once you do that, and dis-incentivize generating CO2 by fees or regulation, the other stuff can sort itself out.

    You are every bit as guilty as you think others are of over-emphasising the benefit of your proposal. Yes, it’s necessary. No, it is not sufficient. It’s just another bit. And a small one at that, compared to sorting out the mess that passes for a grid in the US. Now *that’s* a job for Federal oversight and incentive.

  435. Mal Adapted says:

    I promised I didn’t have any more to say about CF&D+BAT, but then asked “WWND?”, and decided that just because he’d break his promise didn’t mean I couldn’t ;^}. On the broader topic of this post’s title: I’m confident enough that I understand the physical cause of AGW, i.e. the accelerating large-scale transfer of carbon from geologic sequestration to the climatically active pool, and the economic cause of AGW, namely the Drama of the Commons. I’ll leave arguments over physical and economic details to the appropriate specialists I want to focus my own attention on strategies and tactics for mitigating AGW: What Is To Be Done? In my irredeemably mediocre (IM) opinion (“IMIMO”, henceforth), any such discussion is inescapably about politics.

    If AGW is to be “solved”, it will be solved incrementally: i.e. on the margins. While my personal marginal climate change costs are lower than those of many Americans in my demographic categories, they’re mediocre on a collective scale. My proximate voluntary actions to further decarbonize myself can only have proportionately marginal benefit. Be that as it may, I feel it’s both accurate and honest to recognize my personal responsibility for causing the problem, and thus my personal obligation to help solve it. The USA, OTOH, has superlative collective responsibility for the problem and thus the solution. Like my personal carbon footprint, the US economy has ultimate and proximate causes. I’m thus sufficiently persuaded that my own actions, however mediocre, should be to influence collective action by my fellow US citizens. That must be done by politics.

    OK: while I’m anything but an expert politician, from my IM understanding of politics in the US it appears that salient (in the national scope) elections are often won by tiny vote margins. In the planetary scope, those votes may have superlative influence. Collective action ought, IMIMO, to have a non-zero probability of measurably mitigating AGW, therefore it must have a non-zero probability of actually being taken: a reasonable political chance, IOW. That’s why I argue for a US national CF&D+BAT.

    To be sure, under the mediocrity principle, doing anything at all is hopeless within some sufficient scope. In the personal scope, OTOH, one’s best is superlative by definition. I’ll echo Aldo Leopold here: “That the situation is hopeless should not prevent us from doing our best“.

  436. zebra says:

    @Mal A,

    “elections are often won by tiny vote margins”

    You might say that about Presidential elections, although I don’t know about “often”. The problem with your plan, as I pointed out earlier, is that you have to control enough seats in Congress to get such legislation passed. And that means each candidate is subject to local influences and considerations, as well as lobbying and fundraising pressures.

    If a Senator or Representative comes out in favor of your tax, that person will immediately be the target of an extremely well-financed, no-holds-barred attack by a seasoned opposition machine of national scope. If that candidate is from a State or district heavily dependent on FF economically, actual (not astroturf) opposition will further reduce chances for victory.

    Now, this in a sense is true of any legislative path, as opposed to regulatory action by the Executive working with existing laws (EPA limiting emissions and so on.) So, strategy-wise, my suggestion is to constrain one’s ambition for a “major victory” and instead pick up as many victories, however seemingly modest, as possible. (By “victories” I mean legislation and regulation– first you have to get elected, and then chip away and create momentum and nudge the paradigm, accepting that things will take time. As I said earlier, even a Democratic super-majority will be constrained because many of its members will have to follow a more “conservative” line.

  437. @zebra,

    What if it were oil and gas pipelines instead of solar?….oh wait!

    Actually, gas pipelines already are permitted federally: The Natural Gas Act of 1938.

  438. Mal Adapted says:

    Yet again, z, I find nothing substantive to disagree with you about. Perfect is the enemy of good enough, and “all at once” is the enemy of “incrementally over time”. I’m by no means disinterested in any US election that has the potential to advance decarbonization at the margin. While I still think a US national CF&D+BAT has a non-zero chance of passing Congress, I’m committed to a polycentric approach. As you say, Presidential elections are the most likely to be decided by slim margins, yet they can have superlative global consequences. That implies that individual political activity in a Presidential election can have the most superlative proportionate impact.

    Determined opposition by the petro-plutocracy is a given. Yet its political power is finite, and vulnerable at the margin, because individual voters may be influenced by a private moral sense; and because even plutocrats are irredeemably mediocre, thus can’t keep complete control forever.

  439. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G,

    That’s what I meant. And it doesn’t always turn out well. Wasn’t there just some kerfuffle in West Roxbury?

    You may have more definitive info on this, but I have in fact noticed as I drive around large solar installations by the side of this road or that. Nothing wrong with rooftop, but I don’t see the need to alienate lots of people when there appears to be plenty of marginally useful land sitting unused.

    Same with wind– the installations offshore make sense and are (to me) nice to look at, but driving there one sees just odd isolated units that are probably an annoyance in a built-up landscape.

    Again, set things up anti-monopoly and let the market optimize.

  440. @zebra,

    Well, if there already are such denials of neighbors wishes for explosive methane, don’t ya think solar and wind ought to get their crack at it?

    Yes, West Roxbury. My wife, Claire, was arrested there in civil disobedience protest of it. It failed. They built the pipeline anyway, over objections of even the City of Boston. But, legally, it had a happy ending. Claire was off early, since, per the plan, she just entered the work zone and was told to sit down by the police. The people who actually made it into the trench had more severe charges, but were released by the Court. Reason?

    Judge Mary Ann Driscoll of West Roxbury District Court decided it was necessary for the protestors to engage in civil disobedience to block the construction of Spectra Energy’s high-pressure fracked gas pipeline and acquitted the activists of civil infractions, according to media reports.

    The judge made the decision after hearing each defendant’s testimony. They argued the threat of climate change necessitated their civil disobedience.

  441. Michael 2 says:

    hypergeometric “And, in both cases, neighbors ought not to be able to interfere”

    There is always interference, particularly at higher latitudes where my ground-based solar panels cannot be shadowed by what you want to build on your property. I am delighted that my neighbors cannot interfere with me; less excited that I also cannot interfere with them. Fortunately I try not to interfere with my neighbors anyway but some of it arises out of mere existence.

  442. zebra says:

    @Hyper G,

    Please thank your wife for her service.

    I didn’t quite get what you were talking about until I saw M2’s comment. If you mean that a neighbor shouldn’t be allowed to “interfere” meaning “block the light for existing panels”, it is a more reasonable suggestion. Still, I don’t see it as a Federal case.

    I think the people in West Roxbury should be able to make rules about both gas pipelines and solar installations. But it is never going to be perfectly equitable and please everyone; wasn’t there also a decision about an electrical transmission line from Quebec to deliver hydro here, over local objections on the route?

    I go back to the point which you don’t seem to want to address:

    First, create a free market (meaning competitive and internalized) and then worry about how tall your neighbor’s trees might grow. Rooftop solar will win on its own merits; the kind of legislation you want will follow because residents see benefits to themselves.

  443. @zebra,

    I go back to the point which you don’t seem to want to address:

    First, create a free market (meaning competitive and internalized) and then worry about how tall your neighbor’s trees might grow. Rooftop solar will win on its own merits; the kind of legislation you want will follow because residents see benefits to themselves.

    I don’t want to address this because I think free markets are as fictional as Donald Duck and Daisy. Don’t want to spend time talking about something which never actually occurs, but people believe do.

  444. I think free markets are unicorns, but market energy is like horses. It exists and it drives a lot of human consumption. It’s a force that shapes human behavior and somehow makes us want cars with big tail fins, or cars with sleek lines, or luxury cars that look like assault vehicles. I think market energy arises when our species hits a critical mass where it suddenly matters more whether you are wearing suspenders or a belt than if your pants are going to fall down. Fashion arises and exists on a par with function.

    Market energy can be shaped and harnessed to a certain extent through things like a carbon tax.

    Don’t get me started on use value and the trade market value of disparate items with specific functionality.

    Mike

  445. zebra says:

    @Hyper G

    “free market”

    Except that’s what the various plans you talk about is. If you impose some kind of tax on CO2 to make renewables competitive…. well, how is that not competitive and internalized?

    Unless you are referring to some different definition, in which case you are trying to have a definitions debate.

  446. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of renewable energy and the marketplace…

    Recent announcements in the UK and across the rest of Europe seem to be ushering in a new era of “subsidy-free” renewables, which can be deployed without government support.

    Yet “subsidy-free” is a nebulous phrase that means different things to different people. In fact, many of the “subsidy-free” schemes announced over the past 12 months would not meet the purest interpretations of the term.

    While the arrival of subsidy-free renewables means zero-carbon electricity at reduced costs for consumers, it is not without challenges. Overcoming the higher cost of financing subsidy-free schemes is one hurdle; managing variable renewables on the grid is another.

    Meanwhile, governments must weigh the appeal of hoping the market delivers zero-carbon electricity without policy support, against the risks of failing to meet other priorities. For the UK, this includes legally binding climate change targets.

    Q&A: What does ‘subsidy-free’ renewables actually mean? by Simon Evans, Carbon Brief, Mar 27, 2018

  447. I am not even sure what the point is here.

    Are there examples of where free-ish markets have accomplished radical transformations? Sure (although not really in energy transitions).

    Are there examples when not-free-ish markets have done so? Definitely. US auto production abruptly going to zerozero! – for over 3.5 years 1942-45. France’s nuclear power transition. Possibly China’s wind and solar now. On and on.

    So what?

  448. @zebra,

    I have not made myself clear. Sorry. My fault.

    I do not support Carton Taxes or Pricing as a solution. I described why elsewhere but, essentially:

    1) They are unlikely to be assessed high enough to achieve the behavior changes needed.

    2) Even if they are, the lags in the system are long enough that they will not achieve the needed transition quickly enough. Note that, with current understanding, unless we get global emissions as near to zero as we can (floor is 2-3 GtC per annum from pure agriculture) by 2050 we are strongly headed to a +3C world. Many think we’re already heading to +2.5C, but these are all expected values with substantial upside risks.

    3) As emissions approach targets, Carbon Taxes (in particular) disincentivize additional emissions since government services have been funded by fees collecting from emitting Carbon.

  449. I must admit that I’m mostly in agreement with rust. There seem to be examples where a free-markert approach has been successful, and others where it has not. There are also examples where a more centrally managed market has done well, and others where it has not. It’s not clear that there really is some kind of one-size fits all solutions; there are simply cases where one approach would work better than another.

  450. @rustneversleeps,

    I think the answer to your question

    Are there examples of where free-ish markets have accomplished radical transformations? Sure (although not really in energy transitions).

    depends upon whether or not market disruptions are considered part of the market process or not. In many instances, the kinds of disruption, whether from above or below, or “big bang disruptions” are extra-market innovations which are fundamentally destructive of existing market equilibria. Accordingly, they are nonlinear and none of the traditional elasticity curves and such apply. Indeed, the governing laws of disruptions are Bass diffusion model which is based upon a simple differential equation. This is why disruptions are governed by “S-curves” or sigmoids. It should be noted that only the central part of these standard sigmoids is linear, in the vicinity of (0, 0.5). To the left of zero they are exponential, and as penetration exceeds 0.5, they plateau.

    It should also be noted that there is now some acceptance that pure renewable solutions for, say, the U.S. electric grid run into provisioning and stability problems when penetration exceeds about 0.7. That’s a control theory problem which remains to be solved. Obviously we are a long way away, as yet.

  451. Mal Adapted says:

    hyperg:

    I don’t want to address this because I think free markets are as fictional as Donald Duck and Daisy. Don’t want to spend time talking about something which never actually occurs, but people believe do.

    “All models are wrong, but some are useful” -G. Box.

    I won’t comment for zebra, but I’ve always understood the economist’s model of a ‘free’ market as an abstraction of “a virtual space in which producers and consumers of goods and services voluntarily transact for reciprocal private benefit, with the net marginal value of the transaction determined by the negotiated price”. In that context, ‘free’ simply means “free of collective intervention to influence the price of a particular good or service”. It does not mean “free as a bird in the sky” or “free of all cultural influence incidentally affecting supply and/or demand for any or all goods and services”, e.g. “free beer”. In any case the average price paid, whether explicitly negotiated or not, is “all the traffic will bear”.

    Now for a little microaggression previously misdirected at BBD: I’m sorry, hyperg, but you sound more and more like an Economics-denier. Dude, every natural (i.e. ‘objective’) phenomenon can be investigated by the principles of rigorous empiricism with intersubjective verification by competitively skeptical trained specialists: that is, ‘science’. For ultimate and proximate reasons, virtually all people who do science are specialists in a sub-set of phenomena. Specialists initially choose names for their subjects, then develop specialized vocabularies for concise communication with other specialists, their ‘peers’. This social phenomenon is commonly observed throughout the cultural institution of Science.

    Economists are scientists who investigate intra-specific competition for adaptive resources in Homo sapiens as a natural phenomenon. Economics is science, IOW. Economic knowledge may be more challenging to justify epistemically than with Physics, but it’s hardly hopeless. ‘Market’ is a term of Economic art for an abstraction, but ‘price’ is as real as your family’s need for food, clothing and shelter.

    In all honesty, I’m pretty sure few of us here want to spend time talking about “something which never actually occurs, but people believe do.” BTW, the fictional characters Donald Duck and Daisy do occur, but no genuine skeptic believes they are ‘natural’ phenomena outside the subset of human behavior commonly called ‘art’.

  452. Yeah, but Schumpeter was never fully accepted by fellow economists, despite this being the Age of Technological Disruption. My aversion to Economics is that I see it as non-falsifiable. And, so, they don’t know anything, and they are not even wrong.

  453. @ HG: so you are basically in agreement with Kevin Anderson on carbon taxes and that is fine, it’s almost always a good idea to listen carefully when KA talks, but I think you and KA may be making the perfect the enemy of the good in the case of carbon taxes. All of the issues that are raised about carbon taxes can be addressed over time as carbon emissions fall in response to the market pressure of a carbon tax. The dividend that might be paid out in such a scheme could be in the form of green energy credits, or rolled in transition subsidies, tax credits etc for electric cars, etc. The tax revenue could be used to create the national electric utility and storage capacity that you and I can imagine easily.

    Your answer to Rust seemed mathematical/theoretical, can you give a concrete example of a free-ish market radical transformation so those of us who are mathematically challenged can understand better? Are we talking buggy whips? The struggle over AC or DC power supply systems?

    And finally, as a proof of concept issue, I think carbon pricing is established in place in locales like BC, just north of me here in Cascadia and the results can be monitored over time. Lots of us in Cascadia have been working pretty hard on carbon taxing to extend that model across a national boundary and further demonstrate how such a tax might be useful in making significant changes in the way we live. It would make sense and be logical for our species to establish regions to try out ideas like the personal carbon allowance to see how it might work, but not to push it as an option that should be used over carbon taxes that seem to have a head start on the proof of concept line. One thing that would be truly disastrous would be to continue the BAU model and I think disparaging any carbon tax model that is in practice or in initiative stages (WA is an initiative state with a nominal legislature and titular head of state we call The Governor) seems like a very bad idea to me.

    Congrats on the necessity defense, lots of our friends in Cascadia have not been allowed to raise that defense. The times they are a’changing. Are the times changing fast enough? Not fast enough for me. Should we be measuring time change on a 12 or 24 clock? Use the one you like and get back to us if you think you can show that one is better than the other.

    Cheers, buddy

  454. BBD says:

    rust sez:

    I am not even sure what the point is here.

    For me, at least, it is the assumption that just making the US grid a common carrier and prohibiting grid ownership by generators will be enough of an invisible hand to propel any meaningful degree of energy transition. I argue that it’s just a component, and that major intervention by central government is necessary to drive the transition forward as the markets alone will not do it. Here in the UK, we have a National Grid which is a common carrier and not owned by generators, and it isn’t a significant driver of a UK energy transition. Government policy has driven – and impeded – that process to a far more significant extent.

  455. @smallbluemike,

    There are any number of nearly market-free disruptions, from replacement of horses for power to digital cameras to whale oil. The trick is the market cannot price the disruption into present prices because it has no idea about the technology and, in fact, cannot. It’s sometimes worse: As I’ve indicated, it was only 10 years before their utter collapse that Kodak had the highest per share price they ever did, the digital camera already existed, and, in fact, they invented it. In that case, even when the disruptive technology already existed, the market did not price it correctly. Cell phones, the Internet in 1995, etc.

  456. Mal Adapted says:

    Moi:

    [‘free’ market] does not mean “free as a bird in the sky”

    Economic knowledge may be more challenging to justify epistemically than with Physics, but it’s hardly hopeless. ‘Market’ is a term of Economic art for an abstraction, but ‘price’ is as real as your family’s need for food, clothing and shelter.

    I had initially meant “Economics may be more challenging to justify epistemically, compared with Physics”. On reflection, though, physics comprises both proximate and ultimate causes of your family’s need for food, protection from the elements, supplemental energy and so forth. Thus, humans in the market are as free as birds in the sky, if humans are birds and the market is the sky.

  457. Mal Adapted says:

    hyperg:

    My aversion to Economics is that I see it as non-falsifiable.

    That’s what AGW-deniers assert about climate science, and it’s similarly refuted. Please, don’t confuse the science of Economics with its rhetorical abuse for ulterior purposes.

    I presume we agree that the Universe of phenomena isn’t noumenally organized into academic departments. IMIMO, falsifiability is an artificial obstacle for historical sciences like Geology or Biology, in addition to Economics. History happened as it did, thus falsification is counter-factual! How can the theory of Evolution be falsified? “Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian” (JBS Haldane). How can Economics be falsified? By demonstrating successful maximum Communism, perhaps, where ‘maximum Communism’ is “all desired goods and services available to all participants without limit at zero price”, and ‘successful’ means “number of participants not dwindling to zero when they’re allowed to vote with their feet”.

  458. zebra says:

    @Hyper-G et al,

    This is why I always say the you have to clearly articulate (and agree) your goals before “debating” a design solution.

    I’m trying to answer the question of how we can facilitate and promote renewables through Federal action, and in particular, H-G, you seem to be concerned about rooftop solar. I think I’m making a very straightforward and simple proposal, but instead of critiquing that, the discussion goes off into whether “free markets”, (as everyone defines them for their own rhetorical purpose), “really work”.

    OK, I am no longer proposing a Free Market. My plan is to establish a Free Zarket. I’ve described it more than once, but here it is again:

    Federal government, using interstate commerce as leverage, requires that utilities only be allowed to serve as a common carrier and clearing house. Consumers buy from producers, whether it is a nuclear plant, or solar panels, or someone with a cage of hamsters turning the wheel of a tiny generator. The utility model is UPS + Amazon Marketplace.

    To avoid the negative effects of producing CO2, there is some disincentive from the Federal Government, in the form of fees, taxes, regulations, or most likely a combination of all three. (If this were market economics, that would be called internalizing an externality, but in this case it is zinternalizing a zexternality.)

    So, H-G, what this does is create a level playing field for people who want to sell their solar production at a Fair Zarket Value. If you don’t think it would be a net positive to eliminate the monopoly status of utilities…oops, I meant zonopoly…then please explain why not.

    (Answers appreciated from anyone, but not if they involve Nirvana-thinking.)

  459. Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    OK, I am no longer proposing a Free Market. My plan is to establish a Free Zarket.

    Heh, not bad. I hope your proposal for this creative addition to the specialized vocabulary (i.e. “jargon”) of Economics is widely adopted 8^D!

  460. zebra says:

    @Mal,

    No no no!!! There’s none of that crazy Economics stuff here– it’s Zeconomics, all the way down.

  461. @Mal_Adapted,

    I have no interest at all in debating Economics and its perversions. Economics as science? With inefficient markets and emotions, per Kahneman, Twersky, Shleifer, Thaler, and Shiller? And how much of their stuff is actually used in setting policy for, oh, I don’t know, utility rate structures?

  462. BBD says:

    (Answers appreciated from anyone, but not if they involve Nirvana-thinking.)

    At no point have I disagreed with your proposal. All I have ever argued is that it is necessary but not sufficient. That isn’t a nirvana fallacy. Just look at the UK. But you blank every comment I make instead of acknowledging that yes, market based approaches may not be sufficient, by themselves, to drive an energy transition deep and fast enough to qualify as effective climate policy. Government fiat will also be necessary for that.

  463. Mal Adapted says:

    hyperg:

    I have no interest at all in debating Economics and its perversions.

    Jeez, did you even read that before you posted it? It’s not just denial, it’s naked hate!

  464. Ken Fabian says:

    Who was it said there is no such thing as a free market without regulation? Market based approaches don’t bypass government interventions, they are dependent on them. Doing something about the biggest energy “subsidy” (the externalised climate costs of emissions), whether directly taxing emissions or by “counter” subsidising of low emissions energy would be a great leap forward. A lot of longer term planning would be improved, because the apparent costs will more closely align with real costs.

  465. izen says:

    @-Mal
    “Jeez, did you even read that before you posted it? It’s not just denial, it’s naked hate!”

    I am not sure if Hyperg is expressing hate, but I do sympathise with his reluctance to engage with economics, and it perversions.

    Economics has suffered to a greater degree, problems that have afflicted biology since Darwin. The tendency for the prevailing ideological and social dogmas to shape the research.
    Mid-Victorian Britain held ideas about Race, Gender and Progress that directed biological research to look for racial exemplars. The skulls collected are now being repatriated from various Western museums with varying degrees of good grace. The biological determinism behind all this mis-measurement led to Eugenics.

    Economics has fallen into the same trap of analysing the status quo as the ‘Natural’ working system and claiming that the way things are, is the way the SHOULD be, with a few improvements that are more often driven by an ideology, (communism/free market) than empirical data.

    It is an age-old problem of a pre-existing belief about how biology, or economics, works that then shapes the conclusion that justifies that belief. Biology has its history of careful research, and fraud, that ‘proved’ that whites were more advanced than blacks, men superior to women and the rich smarter than the poor. The status quo was the ‘Natural Order’. I think there are other ‘firm conclusions’ in economics that are founded on equally dubious research and assumptions about the inevitability of their preferred social order.

    The propensity to decide the conclusion first, and then research the evidence that supports it can lead to economeritricians to claim the conclusion remains unchanged even when the sign of the data reverses!

  466. zebra says:

    @izen,

    But, my question to Hyper-G has nothing to do with any of what you are talking about. It doesn’t involve a discussion of “Economics” as a subject; it’s a policy approach that can stand alone.

    The question is, would it create a level playing field for people with rooftop solar? Would it answer the objections people have to the current system– as in the piece H-G referenced? Would it serve to allow the optimal matching of sellers to buyers?

    It’s amazing to me that this should be such a tough question for such intelligent and educated people.

  467. BBD says:

    The question is, would it create a level playing field for people with rooftop solar?

    Maybe a better posed question would be: how much surplus electricity would people with rooftop solar have to sell? Since many if not most will also have batteries to charge, the answer is ‘not that much’. So this is no more likely to drive an energy transition than the US population is likely to halve itself and move to the coasts.

  468. Michael 2 says:

    zebra writes: “It’s amazing to me that this should be such a tough question for such intelligent and educated people.”

    It is not tough. As you have seen, each writer finds it very simple; each has a solution that he is reasonably sure would work if only everyone did it his way.

    For instance, “rooftop solar” presumes upon the existence of suitable rooftops. For many or most urban dwellers there is only a relatively small shared rooftop on top of the apartment complex; and that rooftop is often occupied by a forest of standpipes, vents, air conditioning compressors and so on.

    For those that worry about surplus; the surplus will happen in southern states, particularly Arizona, but will be needed in New England.

    So far it seems no one has mentioned the problem of grid frequency and phase matching. For now your micro-inverters detect the frequency and phase of the grid and match it; but when there is no longer a big central generator, this could become a problem.

  469. Michael 2 says:

    The problem of grid matching could be solved by a system similar to Network Time Protocol with designated Stratum 1 frequency and phase sources.

  470. Mal Adapted says:

    izen:

    I am not sure if Hyperg is expressing hate, but I do sympathise with his reluctance to engage with economics, and it perversions.

    OK, FWIW I’d like to rewind this conversation back a little. I readily acknowledge my own contribution to what may be mutual misunderstanding, as seems likely.

    First, I beg Mr. Galkowski’s pardon for accusing him of hate. Ancient wisdom warns us to judge not, lest we be judged. Assuredly, all humans are irrevocably mediocre (IM): the guy with the avatars ‘Mal Adapted’ and ‘The Extinct Dodo’ is no exception 8^}. I’m afraid I’m excessively alert for denialism as defined by the behavioral science sub-discipline of Psychology, “as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.

    Denial of uncomfortable truth is a personal choice, and when it’s a reaction to private anguish a compassionate observer forbears critical remark. In my IM opinion (“IMIMO” herewith) as a life-long ‘natural history’ geek, sympathy with the denial of traumatic truth is shaped by kin selection and reciprocal altruistism, whatever other ultimate and proximate causes it may have. Denial in order to justify self-seeking OTOH, e.g. by rejecting verifiable knowledge of anthropogenic global warming, is never respectable even when understandable, and may arouse opprobrium from an observer’s private moral sense.

    For the record: I do not think Jan is an AGW-denier, and may well not be an Economics-denier either.

    There, done with excusing myself to Jan 8^D. The frustration I’m having with this discussion of the scientific sub-discipline of Economics, and its mercenary distortion, may be due to my careless use of the same words for different things. I want to take more time to construct my case, so let this comment be a placeholder.

  471. Mal Adapted says:

    Wut the – altruistism!

  472. Willard says:

    > It’s amazing to me that this should be such a tough question for such intelligent and educated people.

    Leading questions are oftentimes backed up by appeals to pride.

  473. Mal Adapted says:

    Economics continued:

    Like ‘science’, the meaning of ‘economics’ depends on the scope of definition.

    In the outer scope of interest, lower-case ‘science’ refers to the concept of accumulating justified knowledge of ‘objective’ phenomena through rigorous empiricism with intersubjective verification by competitively skeptical trained specialists. Within that scope, as with ‘physics’ and ‘biology’, let ‘economics’ be the label for the set of human behavioral phenomena associated with resources that are quantitatively relevant to individual adaptive fitness. In that scope, ‘economics’ encompasses the hierarchy of systems whereby individual humans obtain at least their minimum required quantities of food, buffering from physical and biological mortality factors (i.e. clothing and shelter), mating opportunities and all other ‘goods and services’, within limits imposed by their ecological and cultural environment through time.

    In the same scope, let ‘Economics’ capitalized denote the scholarly discipline, as both a species-wide cultural adaptation and a global cultural institution. Like the lower-case name for the concept, IOW, let ‘Economics’ be defined wholly within the scope of ‘Science’.

    Whew, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of this stuff. Still with me? Further prolix disambiguation will follow, so please tolerate omissions thus far and confine your objections to actual errors.

  474. izen says:

    @-zebra
    “It doesn’t involve a discussion of “Economics” as a subject; it’s a policy approach that can stand alone.”

    A policy approach that can stand alone, is like a magnetic monopole, theoretically possible, but never observed in practise.

  475. zebra says:

    @izen,

    Also, “a rolling stone gathers no moss”. On the other hand, and more to the point, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

    And, dodging questions with pointless aphorisms and metaphors is a waste of bandwidth.

    I think my diagnosis of participants in the climate wars is holding up: For many, it is about Being Right and Righteous, rather than solving the problem. Old white guys who can’t let go of the old debates.

    Consider that both those arguing against renewables, and for them, seem not to like the idea of putting technology to the test by allowing (fair) competition. Those claiming to be Right and Left are in agreement, apparently, that some centralized Authority should make these decision. (As long as it is their Authority, of course.)

    Not a great way to appeal to those young voters, I think. They can buy and sell anything they want with an app, but not electricity?

  476. izen says:

    @-zebra
    “Consider that both those arguing against renewables, and for them, seem not to like the idea of putting technology to the test by allowing (fair) competition.”

    You have miss-read the responses if dislike of allowing free market competition is what you think is being expressed.
    several posters have questioned whether your concept of a free market competition and dismantling the power generation/distribution monopoly utilities is possible.

    My question dodging with a pointless aphorism (magnetic monopoles!) was just a more florid attempt to suggest your vision of a solution was actually what you describe as;-
    “Old white guys who can’t let go of the old debates.”
    on ‘free’ markets, an un-achievable theoretical state, never seen in the wild.

    More than one has asked for a historical or extant example of such a process as proof of concept. The fact that none exists that could support your contention that the ‘simple(listic)’ policy change you promote should warn you that there might be a real world impediment to your ‘straightforward’ approach.

    @-“Not a great way to appeal to those young voters, I think. They can buy and sell anything they want with an app, but not electricity?”

    An unfortunate example to make given recent events. And wrong.
    They can buy and sell anything an app ALLOWS. But what has value is the information those apps buy and sell about the user which is then used to shape what they want.
    Not always by appealing to their better Natures.

  477. zebra,

    For many, it is about Being Right and Righteous, rather than solving the problem.

    Indeed, and I often find myself disappointed by what I see. There are the rather vitriolic conflicts between those who supporr nuclear and those who support renewables, but you also see strong disagreements about how to communicate. My own view is that there are many ways to contribute and I do wish people would be more accomodating, rather than constantly criticising others who are probably trying to achieve a similar goal (I may be guilty of this myself, at times).

  478. izen says:

    @-Mal
    “the concept of accumulating justified knowledge of ‘objective’ phenomena…” – may not be applicable to – “the hierarchy of systems whereby individual humans obtain at least their minimum required quantities of food, … shelter… goods”

    While I await further prolix disambiguation, I have an objection, although I hesitate to call it an error.

    The first part requires the assumption there is a consistant, computable ‘reality’ from which we can derive justified knowledge.
    The hierarchy of systems whereby individual humans obtain calories, quarters and goods is historically contingent and always context dependent. It lacks the consistent regularities in the emergent phenomina that the social organisation of (small case) economics engenders. Attempts to find ‘universal’ rules flounder on the arbitary variety of descriptions, never mind explanations, of What the emergent phenomina of e(e)conomics might be.

    It is tempting that ‘Follow the Money’ can be used as ‘Follow the Energy’ is in physics, chemistry and biology the understand the underlying processes.
    But while it may be a useful adage for detecting corruption, Money does not even follow a First law, never mind any version of the second.

    The way economics works in society is more like a belief system than a rule constrained process. E(E)conomics, its study is a cultural institution closer to Theology than Ecology.

  479. zebra says:

    @Izen,

    Nirvana fallacy is a fallacy even when people who want to deal with climate change use it, also the fallacy of equivocation.

    I don’t need to demonstrate that there is some perfect example of something which you have not characterized in any definitive way; if you think that the specific paradigm I described will not function as I suggest, just explain why not. We’re talking about electricity generation and transmission, with a regulated common carrier and disincentives to the use of fossil fuel.

    Why will that not result in optimization– matching the user to the producer, and promoting the development of compatible technologies? Can you answer that?

  480. zebra says:

    @ATTP,

    It is precisely the vitriolic disagreements between nuclear and renewable proponents, as well as the arguments about who is subsidizing whom from all sides, that led me to this model I am suggesting.

    I got really sick of listening to the same debates over and over, and offered this as a way to get past it. Fat chance, as I have discovered.

  481. Mal Adapted says:

    izen:

    While I await further prolix disambiguation, I have an objection, although I hesitate to call it an error.

    My friend, thank you so much for your gracious and thought-provoking reply! I feel it represents why this blog is exceptional, if only within the scope of ‘the blogosphere’ ;^). I don’t intend to fisk your welcome review, but only to say your provisos, IMIMO*, apply to all systems hierarchies. Although our specialties may be distinct, I think we share sufficient vocabulary.

    I’m not endorsing transcendental idealism sensu lato here, but I’ll borrow Kant’s terminology. We have only our physical senses and our brains with which to observe the ‘phenomenal’ Universe, therefore all we may know of the ‘noumenon’ are cognitive models, and those are IM**. Our weak flesh, and our hereditary capacity for culture, are all we’ve got to overcome any adaptive challenge. It’s fallacious to demand perfection from Science, capitalized; yet our current global population attests that it’s so far the only cultural adaptation we’ve evolved for the purpose that’s superior to haruspicy.

    Within the scope of Science as a global cultural institution, it’s reasonable IMIMO to say that Economics, capitalized, is more susceptible to cultural cognitive motivators when compared to Science’s prototype, namely Physics. Be that as it may, IMIMO a net aggregate adaptive benefit can be obtained from Economics as with any sub-discipline of Science. Individual practitioners of Economics, whom we call ‘economists’ (not a proper noun, so not capitalized), may vary widely in their cognitive commitment to scientific rigor. That some, or even many, economists evince little regard for evidence or logic does not negate the value of Economics as a cultural adaptation. We still have to use our own best judgment!

    Yes, [Ss]cience is made out of the crooked timber of humanity. Economists may even be more crooked on average than other scientists. Yet like it or not, science is best tool we have for investigating economic (uncapitalized) phenomena. I, for one, am glad of the (albeit IM) scientific meta-literacy conferred by my prolonged formal education.

    BTW, izen, have you seen this item in the penultimate issue of Nature ;^)?

    * “in my irrevocably mediocre opinion”.
    ** “irrevocably mediocre” is the atheist’s version of original sin, under the mediocrity principle. IM may take the place of H in IMHO.

  482. BBD says:

    if you think that the specific paradigm I described will not function as I suggest, just explain why not.

    Done it, over and over. And I don’t like the way you pretend I write in invisible ink.

    For the record.

  483. Mal Adapted says:

    We like indefinite and definite articles. Mod(s), I beseech thee to edit my previous “science is best tool we have” to “science is the best tool we have for investigating economic (uncapitalized) phenomena”. Pleaseandthankyou.

    [Mod: done.]

  484. Mal Adapted says:

    [Mod: done.]

    Thanks! The lack of a definite article before ‘best’ doesn’t alter my meaning 8^}.

  485. izen says:

    @-Mal
    “BTW, izen, have you seen this item in the penultimate issue of Nature ;^)?”

    Yes, they keep pushing back the appearence of various human capabilities further into hominid history.

    Which leaves me even MORE puzzled why agriculture and written ‘speech’ only appears in the last 10% (or 5%?) of human existence.

  486. Mal Adapted says:

    izen:

    Which leaves me even MORE puzzled why agriculture and written ‘speech’ only appears in the last 10% (or 5%?) of human existence.

    I think you solved that problem pretty well the last time it came up on this blog, with your comment to dikranmarsupial that appeared to be addressed to me 8^D:

    [MA commented] “Again, our early populations were probably low, and there’s evidence the rate of cultural innovation is partly a function of population size.”

    I find this one of the most credible explanations. We were wandering around with super-smart phones, but no network to link too until population density increased. Then its synergistic, the increased population evolves better social cooperation, (more apps!) which increases food production, that increases population…

    Makes sense to me, at least. IMIMO, cultural evolution is at least as historically contingent as evolution by descent with genetic modification. First agriculture, then urbanization, then writing and lately printing, all accelerated cultural evolution dramatically compared with its pace in the previous 300,000 years. Now the accessibility of virtually all past culture at the click of a mouse is driving yet another acceleration. Whew.

  487. John Hartz says:

    If you are interested in learning more about how to motivate people to take action on the climate change front, here’s a good place to start…:

    Four Lessons Psychology Teaches Us About Inspiring Climate Action, The Climate Reality Project, Feb 5, 2018

  488. Michael 2 says:

    “Now the accessibility of virtually all past culture at the click of a mouse is driving yet another acceleration.”

    More of a transference in this case; allowing the machine to do the work and to remember things. It could be detrimental to the species by some measures.

  489. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    There’s no such thing as a market model of economics

    “You do too know what I mean!” -Hank Roberts.

    Willard:

    This definition falls back on the notion of structure, which again comprises just about anything and everything

    Why, yes, it sounds quite like my discussion of ‘Economics’ (capitalized) within the scope of ‘Science’ (capitalized) in the interminable thread. That’s OK, I don’t read all your stuff either ;^D.

    Willard:

    Thanks for PZ’s mediocrity principle, Mal.

    You’re welcome. I happen to think he’s articulated a ‘cosmic’ truth, i.e. with the broadest possible scope. That’s in addition to the more prosaic but equally profound

    an essential skill everyone should have [is] algebra

    Spread the Word 8^D!

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