## Stocks and Flows

Sitting at home waiting for a delivery, so just a quick post. There’s been a new narrative, on social media at least, that we may be heading for a plateau in global emissions. The suggestion, then, is that we are on track to follow one of the lower representative concentration pathways (RCP4.5, for example). This would be a good step, if true, but it seems to be based on a single assessment that suggests that emissions in 2040 will be similar to those today. Not only do there appear to be other assessments that disagree, what some seem to be concluding from this appears to confuse stocks and flows.

What will ultimately determine how much we warm will be how much we emit in total. Emissions in a single year might give a clue as to what this would be, but it’s really going to depend on emissions across the whole time period. In particular, for the mid-range RCPs (RCP4.5 and RCP6) most of the emission reductions happen after 2040. So, emissions in 2040 may be a poor guide to how much we are likely to emit in total.

It would, of course, be great if we are starting to see emissions plateauing and, eventually, starting to drop. One concern I have with the current narrative is the suggestion that somehow it is happening without us really having done very much. It’s possible, I guess, but it would seem rather unfortunate if we start to think that we’ve almost solved this problem and then discover that emissions have continued rising. Maybe a better narrative would be one where we highlight how we might be heading for a plateau in emissions and then suggest that we aim for a fall, rather than simply a plateau.

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### 120 Responses to Stocks and Flows

1. dikranmarsupial says:

“Stocks and Flows … Sitting at home waiting for a delivery…”

;o)

2. Chubbs says:

If modest policy has been enough to dramatically reduce the competitive advantage of fossil fuels, think what aggressive policy would have accomplished. Skeptics/lukewarmers have been alarmist about the costs/benefits of addressing climate change.

3. verytallguy says:

seems to be based on

https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-outlook-2019 – a near 700 page report!

Exec summary here

I don’t see much there to justify the hype.

4. vtg,
Indeed. I also don’t think that the IEA is all that reliable when it comes to their energy predictions.

Chubbs,
That was essentially my thought. If it’s this easy, why don’t we simply try a little harder and we may end up achieving some of the targets that we keep getting told are essentially not possible. On the other hand, achieving some of the targets does indeed seem very difficult, so it is rather surprising that we’ve got close without much effort. The one irritation is that some of those who are now promoting this have also suggested that those who think decarbonisation will be easy are being naive. It’s almost as if they’re motivated mostly by disagreeing with certain groups of people.

5. David B. Benson says:

Plateau not good enough.

Fall not good enough.

Zero emissions not good enough.

Zero plus sequestration of existing excess required.

6. Chubbs says:

ATTP:

Agree, In addition to renewables there are larger amounts of natural gas available to displace coal vs a decade ago. So low emission pathways are less costly now. However also need to recognize climate factors that haven’t broken our way in the past decade: ECS isn’t low, tipping points are much closer now, and CH4/N2O/land use emissions are following an RCP85 path.

7. morpheusonacid says:

Emission can pollute the earth but it is impossible for them to warm the earth. A system cannot be warmed by adding additional matter to it. In the case of the earth the only possible way in which emissions can warm the earth is if they increase the density of the atmosphere. They might cool the earth if the emissions block sunlight. Carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas does not heat the planet, it does exactly the opposite, along with water vapour, which is to cool the earth by radiating energy to space. The energy radiated to the earth does not cause any warming because heat cannot transfer from cold to warm.

I only there was some knowledge of physics on this website.

8. morpheus,
You are remarkably confused. There are many here who would be happy to answer genuine questions. There are plenty of resources online that would help. Many scientists are also happy to respond to emails with genuine questions about their research. If you’re interested in understanding where you’re going wrong, can I politely suggest that you point some effort into understanding this better. However, I’m not going to post any more scientifically incorrect comments from you. It is a physics site, even if you don’t yet realise that.

9. JCH says:

ECS isn’t low…

Nic Lewis and Thorsten Mauritsen, CFMIP 2019:

Climate feedback strength: no historical period pattern effect when using HadISST data

10. Ben McMillan says:

It shouldn’t be too surprising if emission levels plateau without strong policy given that world growth in energy use is only around 1.5%. Even with current weak climate policy, there is substantial switching towards cleaner energy sources because they are now cheaper than coal in many places.

If you are replacing things like power plants every 30 years, and the new plant emits half as much carbon as the last one, that’s already 1.5%. This is pretty different to the future envisaged in RCP8.5 (because we chose to avoid it!). But it isn’t enough to keep you below 2C, obviously.

11. JCH,
Interesting. Most of the $\lambda$ estimates in that presentation still seem to suggest the ECS > 2K.

Ben,
Good point. So, if it were to happen, it would probably be mostly due to reduced emissions per unit of energy?

12. ecoquant says:

Global emissions rose in 2019.

13. Ben McMillan says:

EQ: are you sure? Looks like zero to within error bars to me for ‘projected emissions’. Clearly it isn’t possible for that paper to tell you what happened during 2019.

Of course looking at year-to-year trends in emissions has much the same problem as doing this with temperature data. Something like trend over last decade is what you want.

14. Ben, they seem to be reporting a 0.6% increase at the COP meeting. Not sure what the errors on that are, though.

15. Ben McMillan says:

It is the values in table 7 in Ecoquant’s link, isn’t it? Projected world emissions change for 2019, 0.6%, with range -0.2% to 1.5%.

My point is that these vary pretty wildly from year to year so individual year-to-year changes are not really that useful.

16. Chubbs says:

JCH – ECS is not low enough to make a difference in formulating policy, not after going half the distance to 1.5C in one decade.

17. Ben, sorry, was on my phone so hadn’t checked the link. Yes, I agree that year-to-year variations are not that useful.

18. ecoquant says:

All uncertainties are reported as ±1σ. For the last decade available (2009–2018), EFF was 9.5±0.5 GtC yr-1, ELUC 1.5±0.7 GtC yr-1, GATM 4.9±0.02 GtC yr-1 (2.3±0.01 ppm yr-1), SOCEAN 2.5±0.6 GtC yr-1, and SLAND 3.2±0.6 GtC yr-1, with a budget imbalance BIM of 0.4 GtC yr-1 indicating overestimated emissions and/or underestimated sinks. For the year 2018 alone, the growth in EFF was about 2.1% and fossil emissions increased to 10.0±0.5 GtC yr-1, reaching 10 GtC yr-1 for the first time in history, ELUC was 1.5±0.7 GtC yr-1, for total anthropogenic CO2 emissions of 11.5±0.9 GtC yr-1 (42.5±3.3 GtCO2). Also for 2018, GATM was 5.1±0.2 GtC yr-1 (2.4±0.1 ppm yr-1), SOCEAN was 2.6±0.6 GtC yr-1, and SLAND was 3.5±0.7 GtC yr-1, with a BIM of 0.3 GtC. The global atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 407.38±0.1 ppm averaged over 2018. For 2019, preliminary data for the first 6-10 months indicate a reduced growth in EFF of +0.6 % (range of −0.2 % to 1.5 %) based on national emissions projections for China, the USA, the EU, and India and projections of gross domestic product corrected for recent changes in the carbon intensity of the economy for the rest of the world.

From the Abstract of the GCB 2019: May of it what you wish. Emphasis added.

19. Everett F Sargent says:

http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2019/12/if-youre-climate-or-energy-researcher.html
(OT in that post but raised by myself in the comments)

The WEO2019 makes certain assumptions on three pathways through 2040. The full WEO2019 is behind a paywall. So good luck in figuring out their final emissions pathways that go along with their three energy pathways, in fact, good luck in fully understanding their three energy pathways: CPS (1.3% per annum growth through to 2040), STEPS (? growth through to 2040) and SPS (1.0% per annum growth through to 2040).

In fact, this entire discussion is under some dispute, due simply to a IEA paywalled report, WEO2109.

20. Everett F Sargent says:

Last word above “WEO2109” should be “WEO2019.”

21. It sounds a lot like the narrative you hear from addicts: I am going to do better now, just give me a little more time.

Meanwhile, in real time, what EQ said: https://www.earth-syst-sci-data.net/11/1783/2019/

Addictions are very hard for our species to manage.

Mike

22. David B. Benson says:

1.6% per annum not good enough.

23. The Global Carbon Project have of course forgotten more about doing the maths on this that I will ever know, but here is my simple (hopefully not simplistic) take …
For each country we can estimate their carbon emissions by multiplying 3 factors:
Population X (per capita energy usage) X (Carbon intensity of energy)

[of course, to do this is a way that avoided big errors, it would have to sum over different percentiles of the population (given the extreme disparity between rich and poor), and also different sectors or consumption classes.]

So, for much of Southern hemispere, populations are growing but stabilising as we have seen in Bangladesh as there is a trend to smaller families. Whereas the North has experienced low birth rates. The South is increasing per capita energy as development progresses, and much of this has been at a high carbon intensity. Whereas in countries like UK, there has been reduction in carbon intensity of the grid (but flat lining outside power sector).

It’s complicated!

To get to net zero emissions requires that these 3 generic factors will peak, then trend to zero. The solutions in each segment is different. In high wealth North, it is massive reduction in per capita energy use (i.e. consumption), because decarbonising all sectors in a mature economy is not going to be quick. In under-developed Southern economies, maybe it is finding ways to skip some of our infrastructure (like they did with mobile phones in Africa, skipping a lot of investment in fixed line infrastructure). It is education and improved health services that tends to reduce birth rates and stabilise population growth.

But it is clearly a complex technical and economic puzzle.

Whenever I see one of the stories about ‘flattening’ of emissions (there have been in previous years), I am sceptical.

As with global heating, it is the trend that counts. Currently, the only trend on emissions is up; funnily enough, just like the global heating.

24. Ben McMillan says:

ATTP: looks like per-capita primary energy use is flat overall, so the 1.5% population increase would need to be balanced by a 1.5% decrease in carbon intensity of energy for emissions to flatline. Looks like we are not quite there yet, but predicting that to happen between now and 2040 doesn’t look like a drastic change to current trends.

The accounting depends a bit how you break things up: 1 unit of renewables in primary energy terms replaces 3 units of coal, so this would look like mostly a decrease in primary energy use, rather than a reduction in carbon intensity.

So I guess a pathway with flatlining emissions would have some combination of small decreases in emissions intensity and per capita primary energy use (even if, say, electricity consumption goes up slightly).

25. ecoquant says:

@Ben McMillan (but, actually this is more intended for the more casual reader of this blog than Ben),

… for emissions to flatline …

Just to put the right footnote on this, emissions need to go to zero, not merely flatline. That is because they accumulate in the climate system. Roughly half of the CO2 mixes into the oceans after a few hundred years, the rest remains in atmosphere for well over a thousand years.

26. When I see the Moana Loa graph of atmospheric CO2 concentration levelling out, I’ll believe we’re starting to make meaningful reductions in our emissions.

All this talk about emissions ‘plateauing’ is music to the ears of those who wish to confuse and obfuscate in order to carry on with business as usual.

27. AndyM says:

And here’s me, fool that I am, insulating my loft.

28. Chubbs says:

Due to the steadily accumulating stock of CO2, inaction/delay is bad policy. You want to make the easiest emission reductions as fast as possible to integrate the benefits over time. We are only going to get one crack at year 2020 CO2 emissions.

29. If modest policy has been enough to dramatically reduce the competitive advantage of fossil fuels, think what aggressive policy would have accomplished. Skeptics/lukewarmers have been alarmist about the costs/benefits of addressing climate change.

There’s some truth about alarmist economic effects of energy change, though it depends what’s being proposed. Immediate cessation of CO2 emissions would be economic disaster, but that’s not going to happen any more than the extremist emissions scenarios will.

What’s wrong with your statement is that policy hasn’t accomplished the emissions reductions – demographics and economic development have. ( US pulled out of Paris and most other ‘commitments’ were not of cuts, per capita CO2 in the US falling since 1970s, similar for Europe, fracking made natural gas effectively free, etc. etc. ) Government policies are actually trying to increase birth rates in many countries, though like most government policies this has proved to be ineffective. Most countries on earth have falling per capita and national CO2 emissions.

The problem is that governments, which really like power and control, see the threat of climate change as a really useful tool for consolidating power and control. This necessarily means centralization of power, like fascism.

What’s troubling to many is that governments don’t create economies, rather economies are the results of free market transactions between individuals. We all depend on economic growth, but it is a natural consequence of individual transactions. Similarly, global population, the major factor of CO2 emissions, arises because of individual decisions and actions. Also, energy efficiency another factor of CO2 emissions, arises from consumer choices.

To many, relying on individual choice seems frightening. But the history of the free world chronicles how we rely on individual choice for our livelihoods and well being. The dramatic slowdown of fertility also demonstrates how we rely on individual choice to stem the Malthusian population levels. CO2 is similar.

30. ecoquant says:

@Turbulent Eddie,

Similarly, global population, the major factor of CO2 emissions, arises because of individual decisions and actions. Also, energy efficiency another factor of CO2 emissions, arises from consumer choices.

The former sentence in the quote is just wrong: Per capita wealth dominates sheer number of people determining emissions, which is why the world’s most wealthy 10%, including the poorest in the USA, contribute half of all emissions. And a substantial chunk of that is consumption, which explains a lot of the emissions from Asia and is a direct byproduct of the failing Chicago School economics you champion.

Energy efficiency simply means getting more worth from each emitted tonne of CO2: it is in itself no measure of capping capacity, because it is a density.

And where will you assign the $59 trillion of losses (through 2100, quoted from Martin Wolf at FT) due to climate impacts anticipated at +2C warning? By rights the world”s wealthiest 10% should pay for half of that, probably more, because of cumulative emissions. 31. “Per capita wealth dominates sheer number of people determining emissions” The most dramatic decelerations of emissions are from the wealthiest nations which have increasing per capita wealth, so that’s not quite right or at least not complete. That stands to reason. It takes energy to develop infrastructure. But that infrastructure increases energy efficiency. And where will you assign the$59 trillion of losses (through 2100, quoted from Martin Wolf at FT) due to climate impacts anticipated at +2C warning?

I’m assigning that one to the claims without evidence file.

Evidently, Spinoza was one of the first to identify the process where by upon hearing an idea,
no matter how absurd, humans must first accept it to conceive it. Only after reflection does one reject an idea. The example given is “fish eat candy”. Upon reading this, one may envision a fish gobbling some confection. I didn’t really like this example, because I’ve actually fed candy to fish and seen them eat it so it wasn’t that absurd, though the example is that we envision and accept the idea to conceive it and fish in the wild don’t have access to candy.

Climate change is similar. We are confronted with large numbers of conceivable ideas, that we at first envision as true. Only upon examining evidence can we reject certain ideas. We do have consistent evidence of global average temperature increase, but largely absent the coincident idealized climate harms.

32. “And where will you assign the $59 trillion of losses…” If you used the same math, the Great Leap Forward cost more than that. Which is something the Chicago School of Economics is acutely aware of even if some were quite content to pay the cost. That 10% of the most wealthy can be assigned half of all emissions is because they produced things individuals in the 90% decided to buy (it’s how the 10% became wealthy). That choice to buy drove increasing production requiring increasing energy. There is no way to reduce the emissions of the 10% without first telling the 90% “no, you can’t have that.” And the 90% won’t like it, so the search for a way to produce stuff without emissions is the path with the most likely success. 33. ecoquant says: @Turbulent Eddie, The most dramatic decelerations of emissions are from the wealthiest nations which have increasing per capita wealth. Then why, setting aside displaced emissions by consumption, are U.S. emissions flat and not decreasing? Moreover, as has been pointed out to you repeatedly, it’s cumulative emissions, not emissions intensity: And even emissions intensity is low only because we’ve offshored it: 34. ecoquant says: @jeffnsails850, Emphatically no: Don’t confound the “10%” with the “top 1%” or whatever. The 10% bought and consumed the stuff. The 10% includes absolutely everyone in the United States, of all incomes. 35. Willard says: > If you used the same math, the Great Leap Forward cost more than that. Some numbers on this would be nice. Interestingly, one crucial difference between American and Chinese politicians is that Americans are lawyers, while Chinese are engineers. Let’s use that remark to segue into that interview between Tyler Cowen and Daron Acemoglu I wanted to plug: Daron joined Tyler for a conversation about drivers of economic growth, the economic causes and effects of democratization, how Germanic tribes introduced “bottom-up politics” to the Roman empire, the institutional reasons that China’s state capacity and control has increased with its wealth, his predictions for the future of liberty in his birth country of Turkey, the biggest challenges currently facing the Middle East, what we can learn from the example of Lagos, why publishing in the “top five” is overrated, tips on motivating graduate students, and more. Not all Freedom Fighters are made equal. 36. paulski0 says: Turbulent Eddie, The “emissions reductions” being talked about are forecasts explicitly based on stated policies relative to baseline no-climate policy scenarios. Baseline scenarios already include flat to declining emissions from OECD countries over the 21st Century (with the exception of SSP5). US pulled out of Paris and most other ‘commitments’ were not of cuts Technically the US is still in Paris, but not sure if their stated commitments are still included in IEA forecasts. But the US, like many countries around the world, actually have enacted policies which have had some effect on emissions. In the sense you’re suggesting we’re not necessarily talking about cuts here either – they are reductions relative to no-policy scenarios. Of course factors other than climate policy can affect things, which is why the IPCC uses a range of baseline no-policy scenarios. Yep, the US transition from coal to natural gas is reducing per capita emissions there, albeit from a very high level, but it’s not happening much anywhere else. Another important non-climate policy factor affecting recent trends, which seems to have been forgotten, is the 2008 financial crash. Most of Europe still has lower GDP than in 2008. Most countries on earth have falling per capita and national CO2 emissions. Using the new Global Carbon Project national estimates, for 10-year and 20-year trends 71% and 79% of countries respectively have increasing CO2 emissions. 37. ecoquan writes, “Then why, setting aside displaced emissions by consumption, are U.S. emissions flat and not decreasing?” Population increase. 38. Chubbs says: TE – Ignoring carbon impacts isn’t helping free markets, quite the contrary, we are making a lot of bad investments and deferring expense to the future. Risky, not particularly conservative. 39. “Emphatically no: Don’t confound the “10%” with the “top 1%” or whatever. ” I get the point and agree more than I disagree, but I note that the 90% wants to be much more like the 10%. Any policy notion that even appears to be driven by making the 10% more like the 90% (with the 90% accepting their lot in life) is going to be universally doomed. Neither the 10% nor the 90% want that. And there is a serious problem with definition of “consumption”- a destitute population of humans is an environmental disaster- they still eat, drink and warm themselves. My point stands- the question is how do you produce stuff without emissions. “some numbers on this would be nice” One cost is lost economic output. China GDP once GLF completed,$47 billion
2018 GDP $13.6 trillion. GDP fell during the great leap forward. After liberalizing the economy their GDP in two phases (’80s and ’90s) their GDP tripled every decade until this one, where it merely doubled so far. One difference between the US and China is that the US has politicians. China has a party, just one. 40. Ben McMillan says: Hmm, figure ES.3 in the 2019 emissions gap report suggests that EU and US emissions have been falling recently (ie last 10 years) both in absolute and per-capita terms, even accounting for transfers (ie consumption vs territorial emissions). Not enough to rapidly go to zero carbon, but actually pretty fast. Obviously the big question is whether China’s emissions, which have been flat over the last 10 years, will suddenly start rising, and what happens with India. It is interesting that China’s per-capita emissions, even including exports, is now pretty close to EU. 41. BBD says: No real confidence in all that stuff. When we can see something in ppm, then it’s not just talk and dubious national estimates. 42. BBD says: Any policy notion that even appears to be driven by making the 10% more like the 90% (with the 90% accepting their lot in life) is going to be universally doomed. The usual straw. The argument is that the developed world decarbonises, not reverts to subsistence agriculture while the developing world doesn’t go full FF as it industrialises but opts for low carbon pathways. 43. ecoquant says: Any policy notion that even appears to be driven by making the 10% more like the 90% (with the 90% accepting their lot in life) is going to be universally doomed. Neither the 10% nor the 90% want that. I think the world would be vastly better off — and certainly the least wealthy 90% of it — if the aforementioned wealthiest 10% managed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, including consumption emissions, to just four times the world per capita average. Currently, the poorest resident of the USA has emissions which at 15x-20x those of the world per capita. 44. ecoquant says: @thomaswfuller2, 1980-2014 is a good period. U.S. population increased 40%. U.S. overall energy consumption increased 26%. Right off you have a problem. Energy efficiency is usually measured per unit real GDP, which, in the same period, increased about 1.5X. Moreover energy efficiency by that measure has doubled, considering it as the reciprocal of energy intensity. So, in effect the amount of energy consumed in 2014 expressed in units of energy using the efficiency of 1980 means actually effective use of energy increase 52%, even if actual inputs were just 26%. So you have a 12% gap to explain if you want to assign it to population growth. 45. izen says: What is the carbon footprint of the Chinese exports ? Are these factored into the fall or stabilisation of US/EU emissions ? 46. Ben McMillan says: EQ: how do you make “the poorest resident of the USA has emissions which at 15x-20x those of the world per capita”? The emissions gap report has consumption emissions of the US at 20tCO2e per capita and world average at 8tCO2e per capita. 47. Joshua says: > Any policy notion that even appears to be driven by making the 10% more like the 90% (with the 90% accepting their lot in life) is going to be universally doomed Aside from the injections raised above – this is also just not true; at least as a general statement. In the US, anyway, large %’s of the public, stretching across partisan ID, favor taxing the rich more so as to bring benefits to the wider society. In addition to which, that’s also your rhetorical device of a false binary. The point would be to divert some of the resources of the 90% more equitably, more in line with the proportions of contributions to society, to raise the standard of living of the 90%. The “accepting their lot in life” is your construction – in line with BBD’s observation of “the usual straw.”. If course it’s true that very few want to tax the 90% purely for the sake of taxing the 90% – despite the fever dreams of right wing activists. I still await your construction of a good faith argument, in the place of your usual rhetorical games to promote a partisan agenda. I would think that at least once, if only by accident, you’d make a good faith argument. 48. Ben McMillan says: Izen: in the emissions gap report 2019 there are figures showing per capita emissions with and without carbon emissions in exports factored in (consumption versus territorial emissions). See figure ES.3 in the executive summary. https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2019 I don’t know what the methodology is exactly, but it may be somewhere in the report (apologies for being lazy). 49. “I think the world would be vastly better off — and certainly the least wealthy 90% of it — if the aforementioned wealthiest 10% managed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, including consumption emissions, to just four times the world per capita average. ” The 10% are ‘reducing” their emissions right now by sending manufacturing over to the 90%. Which the 90% are happy with because the money they make allows them to start consuming like the 10%. You have to reduce the emissions for production for both the 10% and the 90%, there’s no way around that. Joshua, did you miss the part where he notes that the poorest of the poor people in the US are in the top 10%, or are you excited about redistribution on a global scale? If you redistribute wealth to the global 90% they will use the$$to consume more. If the aim is to simply reduce the wealth (and therefore the consumption) of the 10%, you are adopting a policy neither the 10% nor the 90% want (the 90% want to be as wealthy as the 10, they don’t want the 10 less wealthy). 50. izen says: @-jeffn “the 90% want to be as wealthy as the 10%,” The top 10% own 40% of the US wealth. And of the 10%, 9% want to be as wealthy as the top 1%; And of the top 1% 0.9% want to be as wealthy as the top 0.1%; And all of the top 0.1%, they all want to be as wealthy as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. But a more equitable distribution is not about envy. It is about the stability of society, historical examples as well as current national differences indictae the the health of the individual, and political stability correlate strongly with a lower GINI index. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2172rank.html 51. ecoquant says: @izen, @jeffnsails850, Hope everyone remembers the original 10% I cited was the 10% wealthiest in the world. This 10% includes much of the OECD which includes the USA and the EU and satellites. The discussion has gotten confused, so I’m ignoring this thread hereon out. 52. Willard says: Speaking of China, and perhaps for BDD’s eyes only: As Alexander Ač observes, China *alone* could mean a fastest temperature increase in more than 60 million years. 53. Steven Mosher says: ‘And where will you assign the$59 trillion of losses…”

Bill me. I’m good for it.

54. Greg Robie says:

This post is brief. That brevity misses explicit incorporation of atmospheric methane in such conversations-as-rabbit-holes. Not only does the total anthropogenic carbon dioxide matter, the total of the atmospheric methane from a decade ago matters.

Looking at the past decades increase of this GHG from 2010 – 2020, it is a given that atmospheric CO2 totals for the next decade will include a .00 – .05-6 ppm/yr increase over the next decade. Because of the ‘tabling’ of atmospheric methane over the previous decade (the ’00s) this growing annual increase in CO2 emissions has been absent and the ’20s have a committed increase coming from the methane-to-carbon dioxide transformation process.

I feel that even in brief posts about carbon dioxide it is important to include methane. IMO, communication efforts should not only inform (a goal that tends to demand simplification), but educate (a goal that adds complexity).

sNAILmALEnotHAIL …but pace’n myself

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

>

55. BBD says:

@ Willard

Speaking of China, and perhaps for BDD’s eyes only:

Thanks – in line with earlier estimates, again points the finger at the NAIP and confirms that we are in a world of trouble.

56. Joshua says:

> Joshua, did you miss the part where he notes that the poorest of the poor people in the US are in the top 10%, or are you excited about redistribution on a global scale?

Hmmm. I did miss that. Rant partially recinded. The global scale does complicated the issue.

57. Chubbs says:

The 10 and 90% discussion triggered a thought. Per GCP chart below, US per capita emissions are more than 3X the world average. Similarly RCP85 2100 emissions are 3X today’s. Maybe we should re-label RCP85 as the US scenario.

58. Ben McMillan says:

The thing that strikes me about graphs like that are that “carbon inequality” is actually much less pronounced than wealth inequality. It is possible to live in a rich Western country and live a normal life without emitting vastly more than average amounts of carbon (obligatory footnote: that is still far too much).

That means that further huge growth in carbon emissions in, say, China, is not inevitable; it could converge toward an EU pathway and standard of living. But what happens, for example, with India?

59. “The global scale does complicated the issue.”
I don’t think so. Every time I buy something made in a developing nation, I’m effectively redistributing money (and C02 emissions) to that country. A global economy redistributes from the 10% to the 90% as well as back and forth between the 10%..
The 90% want the 10% to buy the stuff they make, because that’s how they get paid and become wealthier. Neither the 90% nor the 10% want the latter to buy less stuff, so the challenge remains- make stuff without emissions. Any policy to consume less stuff hurts the 90% more than the 10% and has no support among either.

60. “The top 10% own 40% of the US wealth.
And of the 10%, 9% want to be as wealthy as the top 1%;”

All of Jeff Bezos’ wealth is in the ownership of Amazon and only exists because he out hustled the Sears catalog. His entire wealth could disappear tomorrow if someone does it better than Amazon (and several are starting to, including the Walton family- owners of WalMart – who are also rich because they out hustled Sears.) Ask the owners of Sears how hard it is to lose wealth.
Ask me if I care who owns the top mail order company? Hint- I don’t.

61. Willard says:

> His entire wealth could disappear tomorrow if someone does it better than Amazon

Stocks and flows, JeffN. Even if the stocks decrease in value, before the conglomerate gets dissolved all its parts and bits would need to flow elsewhere. That’s money alright.

And that’s notwithstanding his toys like his $250 million Washington Post, his$65 million jet or his VC firm.

62. ecoquant says:

@Ben McMillan,

It is possible to live in a rich Western country and live a normal life without emitting vastly more than average amounts of carbon (obligatory footnote: that is still far too much).

The tragedy for developed countries — and in particular for the United States — will be that there’s enough wealth in the middle to upper class ranges to make investments and changes in behavior to markedly reduce per capita emissions. There is little willingness — or interest — for doing so, on an individual family level, at least not yet. Moreover, there is little willingness to change individual family behavior to do this.

I do not expect lower income people to change: They have a tough enough time with income inequality, cost of real estate, health costs, and dilapidated public transport to make it through a day.

But the McMansions and the fuel-guzzling SUVs and sports cars, and continued reliance upon beneath ground natural gas, and opposition to above ground zero Carbon sources, these can all be hung on, in our case, relatively wealthy Americans.

Also, there’s a lot of finger pointing at fossil fuel companies for obstructing climate progress, but real estate interests are the major engineers of income inequality in the United States — possibly in the UK and elsewhere in the EU. They also are the first to the government trough to shore up their expensive coastal investments and in towns like ours they fight others to obstruct and delay individual choices pursuing zero Carbon energy through town initiatives and bylaws.

63. ecoquant says:

@jeffnsails850,

That vicious cycle of addictive consumption is what needs to be destroyed. I don’t like the Naomi Oreskes line, but whether or not someone cares about CO2 emissions, the natural environment cannot continue to deal with the productive waste of virgin products being manufactured and then hauled thousands of miles for sale. The West and its models have hooked developing countries on this, just like they’ve hooked relatively impoverished countries on extracting their fossil fuels to the detriment and lack of benefit of their inhabitants, but not their rulers and aristocracy.

That is, tradition economic cycles need to end, whether or not because of general pollution, or greenhouse gas pollution.

64. BBD says:

real estate interests are the major engineers of income inequality in the United States — possibly in the UK and elsewhere in the EU

Fairly global, I’d say:

Subprime mortgages -> CDOs -> global financial disaster -> increased income inequality

65. ecoquant says:

@BBD,

Agreed.

66. ecoquant says:

Rather than flail about regarding degrowth, one option that’s workable in some sectors is to use electronics and engineering to massively increase the expected lifetime of products, and to encourage people to, in the case of clothes, for example, buy used and consignment clothes.

The Tesla 3 we own is an example of the former. It is electrical and electronic, and its expected lifetime is 500,000 miles. Even its brakes are expected to last 100,000 miles. Between the lack of need for repair, the special character of that repair — most being handled via a software update — and the lack of need for petrol, this means as EVs are adopted repair shops will go out of business, auto parts manufacturers will go out of business, and petrol stations will go out of business, with the accompanying reductions in needs for new materials.

So, imagine appliances that are designed to last for 50+ years. Or improvements to backyard and on the patio composting that mean disposal of less food waste. Or taxing food imported into states — or towns — in favor of promoting once again local growers, or levying developers or builders with a premium tax because they are taking land out of circulation which could be used for farming, whether such farming is growing food or running a wind turbine or a solar farm, or hosting a batteries plant.

How about a toothbrush that lasts 4000 brushes (10 years)? Or shoes that last for the rest of your life — especially running shoes — or computers that never need to be retired, simply continuously updated, whether by software or plug compatible and exchangeable memories or CPUs with the components — like the solar panels on our roof or the battery in our Tesla — belonging to the manufacturer and licensed for use by use, not owned by us. (SunPower wants our PV back at end of life, in 25-30 years.)

67. Joshua says:

eqoquant –

> this means as EVs are adopted repair shops will go out of business, auto parts manufacturers will go out of business, and petrol stations will go out of business, with the accompanying reductions in needs for new materials.

Any idea of the “embodied carbon” level for your Tesla?

https://thewalrus.ca/the-false-promise-of-green-housing/

BTW – I rather doubt that many people will hold on to something like a Tesla for a span of 25 or 30 years or 500,000 miles, given the likelihood that newer and fancier models will come onto the market.

68. verytallguy says:

If interested in embodied carbon or lifecycle emissions, carbon brief have a good article here

https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-how-electric-vehicles-help-to-tackle-climate-change

69. Ben McMillan says:

Joshua: That article repeats the rather silly notion that PV panels maybe don’t recover their embodied energy. Um, no, been untrue for a couple of decades at least. Payback time is about a year.

If they can’t even get that right, then do they have anything sensible to say about green housing?

70. Joshua says:

Ben –

> If they can’t even get that right, then do they have anything sensible to say about green housing?

When I first posted the article, I asked for comments in response. Your first paragraph is useful for me to think about. The 2nd, not so much

71. ecoquant says:

@Joshua,

We do not know what a life cycle sustainability analysis of the Tesla 3 is or says. Tesla’s own assessments are here, but they consider the full operational picture rather than per product, even if they state indirect emissions.

We did do an analysis, however, before purchasing, even if we cannot use it to tell how long we need to drive to offset all emissions. Essentially, we took a comparable full ICE car, such as a Toyota Camry, for which some life cycle sustainability is available and for which the materials are more conventional, and matched its functional components 1-1 with the Tesla, excepting perhaps the battery, which was assessed using well known sustainability life cycle analyses for LiON, and being conservative, because Tesla’s way of building their EV batteries are appreciably different from anyone else.

What came out was that the Tesla was at least twice as sustainable as the Camry for every functional component, setting aside all the gasoline stuff. We did not examine upstream emissions from building, for example, supercharger networks or running Tesla sales and service locations. We also cared about recyclability … As I mentioned, the battery is not ours but must be returned to Tesla. Many of the early Tesla batteries are now being resold as home battery storage units.

VTG’s link seems to support this, but I do not think it gives proper credit to Tesla to simply borrow the Nissan example and move it. Everything with the Tesla is designed for manufacturability and lifetime in mind. While they open source all their patents, they do, like Apple, run a closed shop. Frankly, I’d not prefer it any other way.

72. Joshua says:

Jeff –

> I don’t think so.

Let’s break this down a bit. I first responded to your comment that:

> > Any policy notion that even appears to be driven by making the 10% more like the 90% (with the 90% accepting their lot in life) is going to be universally doomed

I responded that contrary to your characterization, in the US there’s a lot of evidence that actually, the 90% absolutely do want to make the 10% more like the 90% – in the process of distributing wealth more equally through mechanisms like progressive taxation.

I would say THAT picture is a bit more complicated on a global scale. I would go into more detail as to why I offer such a speculation – but primarily I think it’s more complicated because I’m aware of highly relevant and instructive evidence w/r/t the U.S., and don’t even know if such evidence exists on a global scale. IOW, I’ve seen a lot of direct evidence that a lot of Americans, across a variety of partisan identities, think that taxes should be progressive (and in fact, more progressive than they currently are).

> Every time I buy something made in a developing nation, I’m effectively redistributing money (and C02 emissions) to that country. A global economy redistributes from the 10% to the 90% as well as back and forth between the 10%..

There might be stuff to argue about there – but the main thing to respond to is that its a non-sequitur. This says nothing about what is or isn’t “doomed,” (presumably because it would stand in contrast to what people want, although I suppose also perhaps some notion that you have about iron laws of economics?).

> The 90% want the 10% to buy the stuff they make, because that’s how they get paid and become wealthier. Neither the 90% nor the 10% want the latter to buy less stuff,

Again, irrelevant to the point that I was speaking to – although I would add that assuming you haven’t been elected to speak for the 90%, my guess is that there are many ways that the 90% would like to “get paid” – or more comprehensively, improve their living standards. That they might make particular choices in particular contexts does not mean you can draw that kind of logical conclusion about what they “want.”

> so the challenge remains- make stuff without emissions. Any policy to consume less stuff hurts the 90% more than the 10% and has no support among either.

I’d suggest that you should avoid projecting your own beliefs onto other people. Your self-election as a spokesperson reflects a similar problem.

I’d suggest that many in the global 90% are more interested in improving their living standards than they are in selling widgets to the 10% – particularly if in making those widgets they’re wrecking their natural environment, working at extremely low wages, etc. My guess is that it isn’t that having the 10% consuming more, or less, is anywhere near their proximal goal.

73. Joshua says:

Thanks eco, and thanks VTG.

74. “I’d suggest that many in the global 90% are more interested in improving their living standards than they are in selling widgets to the 10%”

Have at it. I’ve shown that “selling widgets to the 10%” increases their living standard- it’s been studied, confirmed, documented.
Let’s see your alternative method of improving their living standard and we’ll compare.

Ecoquant- I’m certainly not opposed to longer-lasting appliances, but I’m not convinced there’s a big savings in terms of resources or CO2 there (steel and other metals are extensively recycled) and joshua’s excellent point about newer and flashier models applies to more than cars. You actually wouldn’t want to drive a 25-year-old car today just due to the advances in safety equipment. I have replaced my refrigerator twice in the last 12 years, but each time even the cheaper models were more efficient than the old one. Would be interesting to see all that pencil out.
Much more of consumer spending is on services- streaming TV, smart phone data, travel, dining out, etc etc. The fact that your shoes are 15 years old won’t make much of a difference if you’re driving out to the airport for your annual transatlantic holiday.

75. Joshua says:

Jeff –

> Have at it. I’ve shown that “selling widgets to the 10%” increases their living standard- it’s been studied, confirmed, documented.

Clearly, complexity is not your forte. I assume that what you’re referencing is an association with various economic developments with increases in standards of living over time. Moving crim correlation to causation requires a tad more investment of cognitive resources.

> Let’s see your alternative method of improving their living standard and we’ll compare.

To wit: here’s a good place to start.

76. Ecoquant- let me add a bit. I suggest looking at improving living standards as an opportunity. Look at all the infrastructure necessary in your area for people to commute by car. None of it existed in developing countries (still doesn’t in much of the area). That’s a tremendous opportunity to entirely rethink “commute” but it requires being willing to say the 90% will be allowed to go to work selling widgets to the 90%.

Thanks Joshua. The book came out in 1999. What nations adopted Sen’s concepts without selling widgets to the 10%? We’ll compare them to improvements in living standards in nations that sold widgets to the 10%.

77. Joshua says:

Jeff –

> The book came out in 1999. What nations adopted Sen’s concepts without selling widgets to the 10%?

Presumably, if you read the book you’ll see my point – that your question is effectively meaningless because answering it would require me to reduce a complex set of interactions to one, extracted, vector and then pretend that in so doing I’m evaluating the complex set of interactions.

Consider the effect on standard of living of access to antibiotics. Which do you think the global 90% would prefer: (1) having access to low cost antibiotics, subsisized by wealthier people or (2) working at slave wages in dangerous hardship conditions to manufacture widgets for the 10%, and while doing so destroying their surrounding environment, in order to earn the money to pay for needed, high cost antibiotics?

Context means a lot. Answering these questions in generic form serves no purpose other than, perhaps, to advance an agenda. If you’re asking what people choose to do in a given set of circumstances, that’s one question. If you’re asking what people “want,” or what is or isn’t sustainable or “doomed,” then you HAVE to be more comprehensive in approach.

Sen’s book does, IMO, a good job of elaborating on what’s important about context. It helps to contextualize the causalities involved, and to fill in the outlines of a simplistic line drawing that depicts selling widgets as an optimal, or desired, means of raising the standards of living of the global 90%. Considering the idea of “freedoms” or civic agency, or social freedoms, it seems to me, is absolutely essential to discussing these issues in a serious manner. The fact that the books was written 20 years ago doesn’t change that basic value of Sen’s thesis, imo.

78. “The fact that the books was written 20 years ago doesn’t change that basic value of Sen’s thesis, imo.”
Of course it doesn’t, what it means is that nations have had 20 years to adopt Sen’s thesis and deprioritize the making of widgets as a means of improving the standard of living. I’m sure some have done so, let’s examine them.
What you call “simplistic” is also practical- if you cannot articulate an alternative – with context, naturally – but have to rely on linking to a book of ideas that you are incapable of showing in practice, the result is that practical people will go to a factory tomorrow and make widgets for the 10%. Because they want to get paid and that way works.
But again- the fact that they want to improve their standard of living is a tremendous opportunity- even an opportunity to redefine “wealth.” All you have to do is embrace the desire to improve a standard of living, and address it. I”ve shown a way, you can to.

79. Ben McMillan says:

The thing that irritates me is that embodied energy, especially in housing, is actually a big deal. What is needed is a proper analysis, and quantification, rather than newspaper journalism along the lines of ‘those greenies were wrong the whole time!’ with clickbait-style headlines. And then repeating silly canards about PV.

Basically in a new house it is pretty much always going to be worth insulating to passive-house type levels. But demolishing an existing house to do it is probably not a good idea.

That wouldn’t be so exciting though. Headline: “Insulating your house is actually quite useful”. In shocking news, scientists find that preventing heat loss reduces carbon emissions and saves you money in the long term!

80. Joshua says:

Ben –

> The thing that irritates me is that embodied energy, especially in housing, is actually a big deal. What is needed is a proper analysis, and quantification, rather than newspaper journalism along the lines of ‘those greenies were wrong the whole time!’ with clickbait-style headlines.

The headline was bad but it wasn’t really representative of the article, imo.

I’m s wondering if you have a more specific critique.

81. ecoquant says:

@jeffnsails850,

Look at all the infrastructure necessary in your area for people to commute by car.

Neither the commute by car nor commute by train work very well. Boston has one of the worst transportation systems in the country. This is partly due to years of neglect by the legislature, and partly because the residents are just cheap, not even wanting to raise the gas tax to help improve public transport. Worse, now, vehicle efficiencies mean fewer gas receipts are coming in, and there is no other source for funding.

Commuting times by car into the city area can easily be an hour each way each day, with cars stuck in huge jams idling.

This is causing people in Kendall Square and other places to rethink their plans. Many people increasingly work from home. As soon as any weather turns bad, people simply do not come into work, since both roadways and the MBTA are a mess. Even for relatively wealthy people, the commute into town is so onerous, satellite facilities for high tech have sprung up on city outskirts so trips to work are shorter.

Many people, particularly from outlying towns, do not have a choice and must commute in, particularly since few can afford to live closer to the city — the usual situation which, due to zoning restrictions and lack of affordable housing — pushing people making less money farther out. (Listen to Professor Esther Duflo on this point. She even thinks tax receipts from rich towns with expensive real estate ought to be attached and given to poorer towns so they can develop their own self-sufficient economies.) As I understand it, this is why the French Yellow Vests were so incensed: People making relatively little were perceiving their long on road commutes were going to be Carbon Taxed based upon the values preferences of wealthy near Paris residents. There aren’t inequalities here only of wealth, but also of places to live and inexpensive commuting opportunities.

82. Joshua says:

Jeff –

> nations have had 20 years to adopt Sen’s thesis and deprioritize the making of widgets as a means of improving the standard of living.

Giving a charitable reading, I’ll take it you didn’t read enough to generate a more realistic conceptualization of Sen’s thesis.

> but have to rely on linking to a book of ideas that you are incapable of showing in practice,…

The book offers a detailed and carefully researched description of why nations have developed as they have. It attempts to go beyond mere correlation. You may well disagree with the causal mechanisms outlined, but I think you do yourself a disservice if you reject it based on a perception that it can meaningfully be described as a “book of ideas ” (relative to any other analyses of how economics and developments overlay one another).

At any rate, it seems to me we’re talking past each other and given the reiterative and non-improving nature of our exchange thus far the situation doesn’t seem likely to improve. With that, I’ll bow out

83. Ben McMillan says:

Joshua: Well, I actually found the article quite interesting in various ways, and I agree that embodied carbon in buildings needs careful consideration. Particularly things like how to reduce use of concrete.

I think that the article muddies the waters though: it is almost always the case that if you are building a new building, constructing to a very high standard in terms of insulation is worthwhile. But instead we have things like ‘a new building made of (spray polyurethane) foam could in fact be more harmful than a standard building’. I mean, sure, if you use a sufficiently awful material (expanded with, say, HFCs), it could be worse that a standard building. So, yes, lets not do that. Especially if you are in Ontario, where the electricity is pretty clean (see Magwood’s presentation). But is that really the usual case?

I basically think it takes something with a simple answer (insulation=good, almost always), and makes it sound contentious.

I think my perspective is coloured a bit by living in the UK, in houses with solid brick walls. More insulation, please.

84. Steven Mosher says:

Harberger taxation.

I have no issue with folk owning mcmansions and owning way more stuff than they can actually
USE. harberger taxation. dont tax what I earn, tax what I own.
I like this because I dont own anything and dont consume shit. not cars. not bikes, or houses.
a suitcase and the clothes in it. my phone. my computer

View at Medium.com

A good goal.

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/extreme-minimalism-andrew-hyde-and-the-15-item-lifestyle.html

https://andrewhy.de/the-15-things-i-own/

85. Gandyalf says:
86. Willard says:

Speaking of commuting:

87. Ben McMillan says:

And further, on building embodied energy in buildings:
Magwood is pushing for hempcrete as insulation, which is actually not a very good insulator. With hempcrete you tend to end up with a building which is about up to standard building code (rather than high-efficiency). But then Magwood claims hempcrete has large negative embodied energy because of the amount of hemp that sequesters carbon (the analysis I’ve seen puts the total about zero, cause of all the lime).

So if you have clean electricity, then a low-embodied energy but somewhat inefficient house made of hempcrete might look better than say a thermally-efficient stick-built house with blown cellulose. Also a house insulated with HFC-containing foam will look even worse.

This is all fine, but has got turned by the journalist into “this calls into question whether green homes are really green”, which I find annoying (which is presumably the point of doing it).

88. ecoquant says:

@Ben McMillan,

A database of sorts, featuring here a colleagues house in Westwood, MA.

89. Steven Mosher says:

It will be interesting to watch rhetotic over the next 5 years as the 1.5c target becomes practically impossible.

How to reconcile “do the best we can” versus the best we can do is not good enough to avoid doom.

90. Steven Mosher says:

We should get government issue gender neutral sack cloths.

Shoes? Sandles made from hemp. Free for all. Hempify the world. Hempcrete, hemp clothes,

91. Steven Mosher says:

Music should be free, ditch copyrights. Or apply harberger taxes.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2019/12/06/the-worlds-top-earning-musicians-of-2019/#5538f11e164e

92. ecoquant says:

@Steven Mosher,
.
Agreed.

And as repercussions of failing to hold that line emerge I unfortunately still expect the “Oh, this has happened before” crowd versus the “No, this is new” crowd playouts on TV. Neither will be correct of course in the strict sense. It will be a non- stationary mixture.

A good index of change, I think, is the degree to which traditional weather forecaster skill deteriorates.

93. verytallguy says:

Mosher

“I like this because I dont own anything and dont consume shit. not cars. not bikes, or houses.”

You don’t own a bicycle? What necromancy is this???

On clothes, I believe in the UK we now but 5x as many clothes as we did in the 1980s.

5x.

94. David B. Benson says:

Weather forecasting skill has improved remarkably in this century. Certainly isn’t traditional.

95. izen says:

@-eco
“Boston has one of the worst transportation systems in the country. This is partly due to years of neglect by the legislature, and partly because the residents are just cheap, not even wanting to raise the gas tax to help improve public transport.”

I may be mixing up the history, it happened in a lot of American cities.
But I think that Once Upon a Time Boston had an extensive tram and light railway system that served a good proportion of the centre and what were then the suburbs. The remnants of this are the MBTA. Much of it was bought up by Firestone and other tyre companys who closed it down in favour of roads.
The free market at its most toxic.

People make the choices that business makes available.

Once Upon a Time mobile phones had replaceable batterys. I have used a nokia 1100 since they came out in 2003 with a couple of battery replacements as they started to fail. It makes calls and texts. No apps, no camera.
Now mobiles are made sealed, the battery fails after about 2 years, just when a new model and operating system can be resold to the consumer.
This makes good business sense to Apple, Samsung etc.
It makes little sense in terms of conservation of limited resources or the carbon footprint of products.
This is not a ‘feature’ limited to phones, inbuilt obsolescence has been around since the 50s.

96. Steven Mosher says:

“Particularly notable is the 13°C Arctic warming projected for boreal late autumn months by the end of the 21st century under a business-as-usual scenario (RCP8.5) (1)”

Particularly notable is the 13°C Arctic warming projected for boreal late autumn months by the end of the 21st century under a worst case scenario (RCP8.5) (1)

97. Steven Mosher says:

“On clothes, I believe in the UK we now but 5x as many clothes as we did in the 1980s.

School uniforms.
and 3 uniform sackcloth, ashes optional, for every citizen.
non gender specific.

Usually when the nutcases at WUWT argue that its all about government control I laugh.
Then I listen to the sackcloth and ashes crowd. hmm

maybe if it gets warm enough we can all wear hemp thongs. year round

98. verytallguy says:

“Then I listen to the sackcloth and ashes crowd. hmm”

Then I listen to tbe straw man crowd. Hmm

99. Willard says:

> You don’t own a bicycle? What necromancy is this???

Mosh’s “trainset” lifestyle has come handy to deal with an incredibilist the other day on the tweeter:

Not sure why someone who knows about the Harberer tax wastes time on #ButCAGW. Perhaps old habits die hard.

100. Joshua says:

I’d be curious to read reactions to this (moving past the typical RPJr. gratuitous tribalism aspects):

101. Joshua,
It’s partly what motivated this post, but I didn’t feel like mentioning it explicitly in case I incurred the wrath of Roger.

102. Steven Mosher says:

VTG,
strawman? Im not so sure. So folks buy 5x the clothes they used to. So what?
Are you implying that’s too much? who died and made you god of how many jeans I need
or socks? Now personally I dont try to impose my spartan lifestyle on anyone. I dont expect
or demand that people live with only the things they can carry. ( yes I can carry everything I own)
Heres a thought. If we could make stuff with no emissions, would you still object to folks
owning more clothes than they can wear? or object to keeping people gainfully employed
making useless trivial shit (carbon free) for the 10% or 90% or whoever?

One odd observation. I havent see a homeless person in Beijing. Saw them all the time in SF.
Everybody has a job. making something other people really dont need. That extra pair of jeans,
some ripoff nikes, a few extra cell phone chargers.
everybodies busy, working. Putting food on the table and buying a cute costume for
their dog rather than eating mans best friend. (Don’t get me started on pets. What a waste of
resources. )

So on a personal level I find consumerism to be rather gross. not my thing. But I’m not
interested in how many clothes folks buy. They buy the exact perfect amount. Everything
is how it should be.

I dont own a bike. havent in over 40years.

103. Joshua says:

Anders –

Guess I should have realized that. I’ll re-read with that in mind.

104. Joshua says:

Steven –

> yes I can carry everything I own.

Do you own investments?

If so, what is your view on whether/how they should be taxed?

105. Steven Mosher says:

“Not sure why someone who knows about the Harberer tax wastes time on”

Consider the case of Hong Kong. 3 or 4 families own huge tracts of undeveloped land while
millions live in matchbook sized apartments. I though SF rents were bad till I checked out
HK. I’ve tried to explain many times to my libertarian friends that there are real practical limits
to our philosophy. The ownership of that land in HK by a few creates such a huge amount of misery
for others that its clear ( to me at least) that folks wont stand for it much longer. Something will
have to change. And so the question is what is the most practical non violent way to remedy these gross inequalities. Herberger taxes is the best I see.

HK also has non resident real estate taxes ( you pay an extra 15% or something) if you buy a house and are not a resident.

Aside. When we did our NASDAQ IPO a couple weeks ago I got to take some of my chinese friends around Times Square. Try explaining the homeless. Just try. But hey we have an open internet so it all balances out.

106. Joshua says:

> One odd observation. I havent see a homeless person in Beijing. Saw them all the time in SF.

Reasoning by anecdote can be problematic.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness_in_China

Perhaps I was wrong-footed by comparing Beijing with China?

https://www.economist.com/china/2019/11/14/homelessness-has-become-a-problem-in-chinas-cities

Maybe not.

Simplistic equations about the outcomes of making widgets aren’t terrible useful, imo. An issue such as homelessness in China is vastly complex – that touches on issues such as the impact of massive rural migration, social attitudes towards mental illness, family structures, access to health care, the impact of a state economy, etc.

107. Willard says:

> Try explaining the homeless. Just try.

It’s our Harberer tax.

108. Joshua says:

With all of this concern here about climate change and other environmental issues, I just thought I’d help people to relax a bit by passing on the good news that President Trump is looking very strongly at things like sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on.

And light bulbs

And auto emissions.

And so, given that we’ll have another four years of Donald and 8 after that if either Jared or Ivanka, or Donald Junior – we can all lighten up. No more 15 flushes, folks.

109. ecoquant says:

@izen,

I may be mixing up the history, it happened in a lot of American cities.
But I think that Once Upon a Time Boston had an extensive tram and light railway system that served a good proportion of the centre and what were then the suburbs. The remnants of this are the MBTA. Much of it was bought up by Firestone and other tyre companys who closed it down in favour of roads.

The free market at its most toxic.

Yes, it’s considered by some one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century.

… In 1949 a jury convincted GM (General Motors), Standard Oil of California, Firestone Tire, and others of conspiring to dismantle trolley lines throughout the country (U.S.A.).

This was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 3 January 1951, United States v. National City Lines, 1951 (186 F.2d 562).

That said, the condition of the present residual mass transit system is atrocious. There’s history, but partly its budget was raided by the Commonwealth legislature when the Big Dig went badly over budget. It seemingly never recovered. When the rails and subway system turned into a seeming pit to throw money into — after years of neglecting maintenance on equipment and rails due to budget shortfalls — the system was partly privatized (Keolis) and it went from bad to worse. I kid you not: The MBCR portion will have delays in Summer at times simply because it has rained (“slippery rail”).

Ironically, even though the Big Dig was concluded in 2007, their planning was utterly neglectful of the prospects of sea level rise. So, for instances, there are air shafts which provide ventilation into the tunnels below which have intakes which are not too far above sea level (see their Table 1).

Not to pick on Boston so much on this, but this is another kind of climate denial in which the country is indulging which is going to seriously cost.

110. verytallguy says:

Steve.

1. We can’t quintuple resource use every 40 years. You know this, I know this. Your deflection into morality tales is just a smokescreen to avoid addressing that reality.

2. What do you suppose happens to homeless people in Beijing? Do you suppose they’re given quality housing to get them off the streets? Though finding government accommodation for citizens can be a priority in China, of course. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang_re-education_camps

3. Not owned a bicycle for 40 years??? That’s like not feeling sunlight for 40 years!!

111. izen says:

@-SM
“We should get government issue gender neutral sack cloths.”

This is obviously a ridiculous extreme.

The opposite and equally ridiculous extreme would be for clothes to be made by private industry that deteriorate rapidly when washed as required or need costly chemical cleaning. In addition people could be persuaded that it is socially unacceptable to wear clothes for more than a year by changing small aspects of the design so that even if the clothes last, they contravene some social code because of the way they are fashioned.

The extra expenditure of resources and inbuilt obsolescence of the second option would have economic implications for those who could make a profit from manufacture of clothes of course, but shirely no rational society would adopt such foolishness ?

112. Steven Mosher says:

1. We can’t quintuple resource use every 40 years. You know this, I know this. Your deflection into morality tales is just a smokescreen to avoid addressing that reality.

man you slayed that strawman. Now, you seem to be saying that since clothes went up 5x
I am arguing that everything can go up 5x. Well, clearly it can’t. The question, as always,
is WHO or what limits consumption. Frankly I dont want YOU dictating how many jeans
I can own anymore than I want to dictate that you should only own 3 pair, like me.
So there is no “deflection” into the moral, it is always already a moral question. who decides?

2. What do you suppose happens to homeless people in Beijing? Do you suppose they’re given quality housing to get them off the streets?

The number of homeless is pretty small. Primarily
migrant workers who came to the city without permission. If I wanted to I could go get a
1 bedroom 1 bath apt for about \$600 bucks. good quality. Or I could pay 5000. They
know how to build stuff here. LA? SF? dont know how to build stuff anymore. haha look
at the new bay bridge as an example. Or the Millienium Tower.
LA is spending about 1B to try to build affordable housing, units run over350K in construction
cost. stupid regulations.

3. Not owned a bicycle for 40 years??? That’s like not feeling sunlight for 40 years!!

Way too much work and no real good statistics on safety. I hate the sun.
makes me sneeze. why’s that? Psst aristotle was wrong

113. Steven Mosher says:

“The extra expenditure of resources and inbuilt obsolescence of the second option would have economic implications for those who could make a profit from manufacture of clothes of course, but shirely no rational society would adopt such foolishness ?”

I know you guys would like to think that we “build in” obsolescence, but I’ve never seen any evidence of that.

Let’s take Mobile phones. The first mobile phone I built ( which go featured in William Gibson’s novel Zero History) had a replaceable battery. At that time only apple had an integrated battery.
The decision to move to integrated batteries was driven by the desire for thin profiles. and you needed huge volume to amortorize the NRE involved in a custom battery. The consequence is that when the battery dies you have 3 choices. go without a phone. get a new one
use external charge pack. At one point we tried to design a phone that was upgradeable.
every engineer has this dream. Andy Rubin tried one. The challenges are enormous. To outsiders
it looks easy. But sockets, connectors, performance and interference are nasty beasts.

here are a few attempts.
https://www.cnet.com/news/modular-phones-roundup/
as a side note we once had a project inside creative labs caled “lego” basically a consumer
electronic device you could put together like a lego system. Connector HELL.

In general you dont design things to become obsolete. you design to meet the market demand and
you dont over optimize for longevity. Longevity “falls out” as a consequence. If you judge it to be too short, you try to increase it, but you dont optimize it. Beause the market doesnt value it that much.

As for clothes. If you think folks will appreciate clothes that dont wear out, Make some and SELL them. oh wait, polyester last for fucking ever!!. My old disco shirts and pants are probably still around in some goodwill.

or try Carhartts, Filson, Fire hose canvas pants from Duluth, arcteryx,Pendleton,

or wait

Appliances? Clean your fucking condensor Idjit! newer fridges have them on the bottom ( as opposed to the back or top in old fridges) Clean that shit and your fridge will last for 20 years.
Change your oil! keep your tires inflated. Your shit owns you and if you service it right it will
last longer. me I choose not to be a slave to my things.

The bottom line is you guys are lousy shoppers. There is no whining about products that wear out
guys.

114. Steven Mosher says:

How many of you bought this? fairphone, shitty name but what do you expect from SJWs

https://www.zdnet.com/article/fairphone-2-the-ethical-android-handset-is-back-with-a-smart-modular-construction/

115. izen says:

@-SM
“you dont over optimize for longevity. Longevity “falls out” as a consequence. If you judge it to be too short, you try to increase it, but you dont optimize it. Beause the market doesnt value it that much. … The decision to move to integrated batteries was driven by the desire for thin profiles.”

It may be disingenuous to imply these values and desires are undirected emergent inclinations of individuals.
Especially when they correlate so strongly with economic motivations of the provider.

116. ecoquant says:

@Steven Mosher,

I’m all for consumption taxes, congestion fees, and Carbon pricing, levied, of course, on all imported products based upon documents the importer needs to provide, and a ban of 20 years from importing if found forged. VAT doesn’t sound too bad, either.

And, yeah, people will probably say “Oh, this is so regressive!” when the people tho will pay the most are the ones that consume the most … The relatively wealthy outfitting their homes … Or buying a fresh set of jeans every year. No problem to me if they do, just like buying and owning a Hummer. But pay it’s true cost to society over the long term.

This worked for the ancient Greeks. Time to bring it back.

117. Vidar Øierås says:

Is the need for cheap energy supply from coal-plants for the combined 2,6 billion people living in India and China taken into account, when projecting the emissions towards 2030-2040?
I guess the rate of emissions will not drop if China alone plans to build 121 new coal-plants, a country which alone is responsible for little less than 30% of the worlds emissions today.

118. Ben McMillan says:

If you are interested in how a specific projection is made, you’ll have to explain which one you are talking about (I assume that was really rhetorical posturing though).

Difficult to tell what will happen with China: although they have been building 30GW a year of coal recently (and this is actually a decrease!), their coal plants are running at lower than 50% capacity factor and falling. Is the current plateau in China’s coal use going to continue? Need more than one piece of information to tell.

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