Archive for the 'Global meltdown' category

Desert Fox

Attribution for the picture: Wikimedia Commons

fox2

In my review of George Marshall’s book on global warming messaging, I noted that the usual symbol (polar bear) is actually not suited to the task, according to Marshall. I agree. Polar bears are great when you want people to think about a cool drink. They don’t make much sense on an emotional level if you want to talk about heat.

Marshall notes that, but does not try to show a better alternative. I didn’t either, at the time, but left that for later.

With this post, I propose the desert fox as a symbol.

I got to that choice by searching on Google with “desert cute animal”, for obvious reasons.

The picture above is from the relevant Wikipedia article, the section on keeping them as pets.

That’s good. You can’t keep a polar bear as a pet.

They are the world’s smallest canids, at a length of about 24 cm. That’s good, because people relate to dogs very well (another canid).

Their big ears are there for a reason. That reason is to dissipate heat. Another excellent fit for the “heat” narrative.

They are not only the smallest canids out there, but their ears look like a two bladed wind turbine. They do to me, at least. I may be somewhat unreasonable there.

They also don’t need to drink any water. Their burrowing can cause the formation of dew, and they can take the necessary liquid only from eating prey.

That’s good, since it is a nice symbol for drought, one of the unpleasant consequences of global warming.

I am not sure if this proposal will gain any traction. I for one will start out using it when talking about energy from the desert. As far as I know, the Desertec industrial initiative still has not adopted polar bears as an animal symbol, so there is an obvious void to be filled.

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North Korea Behind Global Warming

Sep 24 2014 Published by under Global meltdown, Great News

Just revealed in the Guardian:

The discovery that North Korea has been secretly pumping climate-altering chemicals into the atmosphere in an attempt to destroy agricultural production across the US has sparked an international crisis.

This is not true. I know better. Global warming, or global meltdown as it should be called more realistically, is caused by the evil alien hypnotist Khalmorot. He hypnotized humanity into burning all that fossil fuel. We couldn’t possibly be so stupid all by ourselves. If we were, we wouldn’t have been smart enough to develop civilization in the first place.

He did that because he needs us in his TV show “Heat Games”. We are heating up the planet so that his alien audience can have a good laugh about us, and the TV program can sell some commercials. I hear that “Heat Games” has excellent ratings, with billions of alien viewers. They need to be entertained, even if it ruins our planet beyond recovery.

This is a secret, so don’t tell anyone. I was able to find it out two years ago and wrote about it here.

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“We’d Have Cap and Trade by the Morning”

Jun 22 2014 Published by under Global meltdown

That’s the punch line from Jon Stewart in this video about Republicans trying to fry the planet. Thanks to this tweet by Gernot Wagner for the link.

The one thing that would change their minds, in Stewart’s opinion: If Obama started to embrace the denial agenda.

I am not sure about that. But I agree that they might change their opinions very fast.

The only thing necessary for that is that fossil fuel companies finally understand that regulation forcing them to sell less of their stuff would be good news for their prices and their profits. They would make their lobbyists spend their substantial funds in the opposite direction from now.

Even so, “by the morning” may be somewhat optimistic. But a week or two should be quite enough.

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Book Review: “The Bet” by Paul Sabin

Dec 31 2013 Published by under Book Review, Global meltdown

I found this book over a book review by Bill Gates. Thanks to this tweet by Christopher N. Fox for the link.

The author is a history professor. This book is about recent United States history. It describes the debate about overpopulation and other environmental concerns in the decades between 1960 and 1990 in the United States, with a special emphasis on Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon, both of whom I had not heard before.

Paul Ehrlich published a book called “The Population Bomb” in 1968. That book warns of the dangers of overpopulation and asks people to do something about this problem.

In contrast, Julian Simon used to think that overpopulation is a problem as well, but reconsidered. If Bentham’s idea of “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” as a goal of policy (utilitarianism) is correct, then having more people is better than having less.

So Julian Simon was one of the opponents of Ehrlich’s point of view. And the title of the book is a reference to a bet between Simon and Ehrlich, which has its own shiny Wikipedia entry here. This wager was on the price of five commodities over the next ten years. Simon took the optimistic view that those prices would go down, and Ehrlich the pessimistic view that as a consequence of overpopulation those prices would go up.

Simon won.

In a final chapter, Sabin describes how these discussions on overpopulation are related to present controversies over global warming. That’s where my interest lies right now.

And Sabin’s idea, which Bill Gates agrees with, is that the debate is too polarized now. He would like to see a more nuanced discussion of these questions.

Now for a couple of comments.

Obviously, Ehrlich was wrong on most of his short term predictions. That does not mean he will be wrong in the long term. But it is still quite true that his pessimism was overblown.

And it is also true that, if it is possible to sustain larger populations, the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” means larger populations are better than smaller ones. Population control may also conflict with valuing each individual life. That is most clearly understood with involuntary sterilizations or involuntary abortions (all abortions are of course involuntary from the point of view of the aborted person).

But what exactly can we learn from these discussions about global warming?

For one, all things equal, more people will need more energy and burn more fossil fuel than less people. China has listened to Ehrlich’s point of view and enacted a “one child policy“, which reduced China’s population by about 200 million people as compared to business as usual. That in turn means less CO2 from China at the same level of CO2 emissions per capita.

We also learn that it is difficult to exactly predict the future in the short term. And ten years is a short term when discussing these kind of issues.

While Ehrlich was wrong on the price of tin in 1990, he would have been right if he had bet on an increase on the price of fossil fuel from 1980 to 2010. Oil is substantially more expensive now than three decades ago, having gone from $30 to over $100 a barrel (after dropping to $20 in 1990).

And that is a good thing. All things equal, oil at $100 a barrel will lead to a faster transition from stinking gasoline cars to electrical vehicles than oil at $2 a barrel (the price in 1972). If anything, I hope that Jeremy Leggett is right with his peak oil predictions and the price of oil explodes like the price of bitcoins this year.

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Great Japanese Success

Nov 16 2013 Published by under Global meltdown, Japanese energy law

The Climate Action Tracker report on Japan’s latest policy discussed in the last post titled “Great Japanese Failure” gives some background on climate finance contributions on page 4.

For one, Japan has pledged funding of $16 billion (a whopping $2.28 per World capita) in financing up to 2015. That comes on top of $16.9 billion in the “fast start finance” period from 2010 to 2012, which leaves Japan way at the top of the list, with a contribution rate of 42.6 percent, followed by the EU at 24.7 percent.

Japan, one country, has contributed about double of the whole EU to the financial effort.

That’s a Great Success, and Japan can be proud of being the World’s top country, by far, in the category of financial contributions.

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Great Japanese Failure

Nov 16 2013 Published by under Global meltdown, Japanese energy law

The Japanese government has decided to replace the previous 2020 target of 25 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 with a target of a 3.1 percent increase.

This is the official document (in Japanese). Thanks to commentary at Kikonet here for the link.

Adding insult to injury, the Japanese government tries to mask this by selling it as “3.8 percent reduction compared to 2005″.

Do they think people are so stupid as not to look through this childish attempt at deception?

The official document says this is a very ambitious goal (野心的).

It is. I must admit that. It sure is.

That is, if your ambition is to show that Japan is the World’s worst country when dealing with climate change.

The official document also says that this revision is not counting any nuclear energy available in 2020. This makes sense at first glance. With all those nuclear reactors quietly gathering dust and fossil fuel getting burned instead, one would expect that it becomes more difficult to reach the previous 25 percent goal.

However, as this analysis by Climate Action Tracker points out, even a total nuclear shutdown by 2020 would only account for about 8 percent of the reduction to the new “ambitious” (haha) goal of plus 3.1 percent (a total movement in the wrong direction of 28.1 percent). Thanks to this Tweet by Kees van der Leun for the link.

Fortunately the document also says that the government is ready to reconsider. This part is important, so I cite it in full and provide a translation:

原子力発電の活用のあり方を含めたエネルギー政策及びエネルギーミックスが検討中であることを踏まえ、原子力発電による温室効果ガスの削減効果を含めずに設定した現時点での目標。

This target is set at the present time assuming no contribution to greenhouse gas emission reductions from nuclear energy, while Japan is in the process of debating energy policy (including nuclear energy) and the energy mix.

今後、エネルギー政策やエネルギーミックスの検討の進展を踏まえて見直し、確定的な目標を設定する。

We will fix a definite target later on, considering the progress of the discussion of energy policy and the energy mix.

This is not the last word. And it better not be.

I recall that Typhoon Hayan just hit the Philippines, causing catastrophic disaster. Japan could be next.

This lame response of the Japanese government is not what we need right now. The Climate Action Tracker report cited above gives Japan a failing degree of “inadequate”, and I agree completely with that assessment.

Related Post: Great Japanese Success

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Philippines Delegation Leader Yeb Sano Speech

Found at TckTckTck.

Of course, the Philippines have just been hit by the strongest storm in human history, Typhoon Hayan. That gives a lot of urgency to his statement.

As for the substance, he said that the Philippines wants to double their renewable capacity until 2020, and triple it until 2030.

Meanwhile, the coalition talks in Germany between the CDU/CSU and the SPD seem to result in a slowdown. Germany will probably not double capacity until 2020. I will have more to say about this once the results are official.

Just as a preliminary comment: They should be ashamed of themselves, thinking about saving some marginal cost in the short term right after this historical typhoon hit.

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James Hansen’s New Opinion on Venus Syndrome

Sep 18 2013 Published by under Global meltdown

James Hansen has published a new paper on climate sensitivity. Thanks to Joe Romm at Climate Progress for the link.

The part most interesting to me was section 7 d), titled “Runaway greenhouse”. That section says that it is impossible for humans to cause Venus syndrome (evaporation of all the oceans).

That is in direct contrast to what Hansen wrote in “Storms of My Grandchildren” in chapter 10, titled “Venus Syndrome”.

That chapter ends like this:

“I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.”

I used to think Hansen knew what he’s talking about. I may have been wrong.

Anyway, if that new opinion is correct, that would be great news. Humanity would be unable to completely fry the planet. All we could do would be raise temperatures by an average of 25 degrees, which probably would lead to some exciting new opportunities for farming in the Antarctic, but fall way short of the level of damage required to kill all of humanity.

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Can’t Wait for Jeremy Leggett’s New Book Release

Jeremy Leggett‘s new book “The Energy of Nations” will be released on September 26th.

I just read the sample first chapter available for free. It deals with the idea of “peak oil”, noting a couple of interesting facts.

For example: it is obviously good news for renewable energy if oil prices go way up, as they have in the last decade.

It should be even better news if they go up even more, though Leggett doesn’t say that. Instead, he seems to be worried about oil peaking and then getting even more expensive.

I agree with his analysis that peak oil is something that may happen rather sooner than later. I don’t agree with the idea that this is a problem.

As far as I am concerned, the higher the oil price goes, the faster the transition to renewable energy will happen. And the bigger the relative profit for Germany will be from moving early in the transition to renewable energy.

Of course Leggett doesn’t discuss Phaseout Profit Theory. He probably never heard of this crazy idea of mine. But it is clear with a little thought that all the owners of oil fields are better off with a higher oil price. Therefore, they should hope that peak oil comes sooner rather than later, and they should contribute to having that happen by any way they can.

Leggett reports that one of the big oil companies, Shell, was caught falsifying the estimates of their reserves upwards. They should do exactly the opposite. If they are going to lie in the first place, they should tell the public that their reserves are very small and very unsure and very costly to extract. Doing this will send prices up, as well as the values of their oil fields.

And higher prices of course mean less stinking gasoline consumed, helping the climate. Everyone wins.

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Global Warming: Greatest Failure of Risk Management

Aug 27 2013 Published by under Global meltdown, Great News

John Abraham and Dana Nutticelli write at the Guardian that global warming is the greatest failure of human risk management, though they call it “climate change” (a mistake, since “climate change” sounds less threatening than “global warming”).

They don’t ask why humans are so bad at dealing with this particular risk. I have asked exactly that question, and my answer is (based on something Bruce Schneier said about the evolution of risk perception): Global warming is underestimated since it takes a long time to actually play out, and since it is a rather abstract concept.

And I have written my first global warming science fiction novel “Great News” as an effort to give global warming a more threatening face (an evil alien), so as to do something about this problem.

Kindly consider downloading the free PDF file here.

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