Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We share this planet

Man has been slow to understand the intelligence around him.
Are some birds shy? Can a dolphin recognize himself in a mirror? Do elephants mourn their dead? Will a bat perform random acts of kindness? One hundred years ago, if a well-educated man of Western culture answered “yes” to any of these questions, he would have likely been locked away in an insane asylum. Even 50 years ago, it was rare to find any scientific studies that examined the emotional lives or the intelligence of animals. Such a huge omission is no accident.
Despite Charles Darwin’s boldness and brilliance in the mid-1800s, animals have largely been viewed in European and American societies as automata, creatures of instinct, from simple protozoa to our closest relatives the chimpanzees. In the 20th century, renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall broke new ground by recognizing that the chimps of Gombe were individuals with rich emotional lives. She and her colleagues started to look at animals in a new way—in their natural environments. Their pursuits gave rise to a new field of science known as ethology.
Animal Sentience and the Evolution of Emotion
story by Tracy Basile

I don't understand why people took so long to appreciate that we share this planet with an amazing abundance of intelligent life. This life isn't ours to exploit, as some would claim, but it is ours to protect from our own excesses. While I tend to favor extra care with highly intelligent species we need to respect all life on this planet. I'd like to see the day when if a person wanted to cut down a thousand year old redwood he'd get locked up in a loony bin.

We've evolved past the point where our abilities enhance our potential for survival. There is no mechanism to thwart man from totally screwing up the environment. Mother Nature provides an elegant solution for other creatures. When the deer population gets too big, the predator population grows. When the deer population decreases, the predator population does too. These mechanisms are complex and fragile. Whenever man tries to interfere it always goes wrong. Think rabbit fence. Now man is changing the climate for all living things. These changes are causing a major extinction event. I wish nature could target only the guilty but she can't.
The average extinction rate today is up to 10,000 times faster than the rate that has prevailed over the past 60,000,000 years. Throughout most of geological history, new species evolved faster than existing species disappeared, thus continuously increasing the planet's biological diversity. Now, evolution is falling behind.
The sixth great extinction

We fail to value nature's contributions to our survival (e.g. bees).

What's the difference between an America with 150 million and 300 million people? I played in the forest and marvelled at salamanders, snakes, birds and flowers. I grew up finding huckleberries, blackberries, wild strawberries and morel mushrooms to eat in my back yard. I walked to school alone (or with fellow students) from kindergarten through high school. I went trick or treating without adults. I got into trouble often for disappearing for the entire day. My parents weren't worried... just mad because I didn't get my chores done. That was what growing up was like for me in the suburbs in the 50s when there were about 150 million people in the US. Now, with 300 million people in the US, suburban kids are driven to school. They are supervised at all times for their own safety. Nobody would dream of sending their kids off trick or treating without an adult. Pavement dominates the landscape. Fruit trees in the back yard are just not the same as wild berries. I figure my grand kids will never find a red Trillium. I know this is not true for everybody... but it is true for many. Discovery and enjoyment of nature has been replaced by DS players and smart phones.

So we're so detached from the environment we need to survive we barely see it... leading to our "insulting the environment faster than we can understand it " -Stephen H. Schneider.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

World in balance- Nova

I rented this via netflix. It is not available on line. It is a must watch by anybody who cares. World in the Balance

Mother Nature is incredibly powerful

Real adaptation is as politically tough as real mitigation, but much more expensive and not as effective in reducing future misery is a good read, although the distinction between adaptation and mitigation is fuzzy to me (e.g. converting to carbon neutral fuels is an adaptation isn't it? ) So here the term is defined narrowly to mean learning to live on a hotter planet. And if we continue as we have it is probable that the only "adaptation" is migration. There's just so much you can do to prevent floods and get water and food from where it is plentiful to where the people need it... case in point Pakistan.

Those who insist we can adapt are thinking it's only the poor of Africa, and western Asia that will have serious changes to adapt to. Will it take a category 3 or better hitting Manhattan to get through to them?
We may soon see three concurrent hurricanes in the Atlantic.

All my life I have seen and heard people underestimate nature. It would be in all our best interests to rethink this. Man is not master on this planet and never has been.

Mass Extinction Event playing now in an ecosystem near you

We depend on Mother Earth more than we appreciate.
Protect nature for world economic security, warns UN biodiversity chief

This and that:

Glen Beck rally getting press. I pity the poor folks who think Beck is real... but at least he's not spewing claims that climate change is a hoax anymore. Hmmm gets me to thinking that if we can get these tin foil hat types to see climate change as the enemy... like communism and hippies, we might have a powerful weapon to using against a balky congress.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

OK, here's what I thought was a wild goose

Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, suggested an alternative motive. "Republicans running for Senate, House and governor who question the sound and settled science of climate change are following in the footsteps of a Republican leadership team that is heavily financed by and strongly influenced by Big Oil,” he said.

GOP candidates knock global warming

I started to review the web sites of those currently in the House... and discovered that either the person was very concerned about climate change and the environment or said little to nothing about it. My feeling is that the GOP is so rigid about anything they perceive as taxes that they'll ham string anything our government might do to mitigate the coming catastrophe.
But I only looked at maybe 6 or 7. Some weekend I'll do a real survey.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Shell oil appears to be sincere about being part of the solution.
What if the industry spent the time and money finding alternatives to oil, coal instead of discrediting climate change science and lobbying?
Need to see if Shell is two faced. Stay tuned.

There is something wrong with this logic.

But the really epic crash may not be in the climate, it may be in human civilization, which is by now entirely dependent for its growth and complexity on relatively cheap, relatively abundant fossil fuels. The absence of extreme global warming will be of little comfort if we end up in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max hellscape

What if there’s much less coal than we think?

Big Think series
Our Energy Future

Bill McKibben

Pakistan's government stability threatened by flood.

Pakistan's economy in ruins, billions of dollars and years to recover. Fifty percent of Pakistanis live off the land. The 20% of the country that is covered in water was their bread basket. Six million homeless and likely to remain that way for months, even years.
What if the flood this year in Pakistan becomes the norm? It doesn't take much to visualize a completely different country, one much much poorer than before, and one without a functioning government. Terrorists take over. All the worst events forecast by climate change.

27 inches sea level rise no matter what we do...affect around 150 million people living in low-lying coastal areas, including some of the world's largest cities
Sea Level to Rise Even With Aggressive Geo-Engineering and Greenhouse Gas Control, Study Finds

Monday, August 23, 2010


Given this reality, we’ll almost certainly need some kind of devastating climate shock to get effective climate policy. That’s the key lesson of the recent financial crisis: when powerful special interests have convinced much of the public that what they’re doing isn’t dangerous, only a disaster that discredits those interests will provide an opportunity for comprehensive policy change like the Dodd-Frank financial regulations.

It is possible that the changes I’m seeing from the ship deck are the beginning of the climate shock that will awaken us to the danger we face. Scientists aren’t sure what will happen when a significant portion of the Arctic Ocean changes from white, sunlight-reflecting ice to dark, sunlight-absorbing open water. But most aren’t sanguine.

Disaster at the Top of the World

The author goes on the recommend we plan for this crisis now. While that'd be a good thing to do, our inability to predict with any degree of certainty exactly what will happen where, it's pretty ambitious.

He references one such attempt, written in 2009:
Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes.

With this in mind, we suggest three categories of response options for mitigating a broad range of mega-catastrophe risks. These are: (1) deep and very rapid cuts in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, (2) development and subsequent application of geoengineering, and (3) global-scale adaptation targeted toward reducing the impact of a climate change mega-catastrophe should one occur

OMG... that's tantamount to saying "then a miracle happened" not to mention that the geoengineering stuff is sooooo scary.

As we are using the term, mega-catastrophes from climate change have the following basic characteristics:

  • They would cause extremely severe impacts for a large number of people across broad geographic regions, if not the entire world. They are likely to affect people in developing countries more severely than those in rich countries, as judged by percentage reduction in their standard of living.

  • The impacts would be extremely difficult to reverse over policy-relevant time-frames.

  • They are fairly-to-extremely unlikely, but it is highly probable that the risk grows as greenhouse gases (GHGs) accumulate in the atmosphere.

  • There is not only uncertainty about their likelihood of occurrence, but also “ignorance” about specific consequences (Zeckhauser 1991)
  • .

Pakistan is 20% underwater. The flooded region is the size of Italy! Twenty million have been affected! Does this not qualify as a mega-catastrophe? No it doesn't. The definitions the authors have for mega-catastrophe are

  • sudden sea level rise
  • disruptions of ocean circulation
  • very large-scale ecosystem disruptions
  • Cascading-event catastrophes

OK, now I'm going to argue with the authors here. Except for sudden sea level rise, the above scenarios happen slowly. You might as well equate any of them to "the potential consequences of climate change". They will not get anybody's attention until it's too late. I don't know what the mechanism would be for sudden sea level rise except if some very large glacier in Antarctica slid into the ocean. No, I think we're already seeing the kinds of mega-catastrophes climate change delivers. This year, 2010, has been a slug fest for Mother Nature. Last year Australia was on fire. None of this seems to have sunk in.

So I'll speculate what the crisis needs to look like in order to wake up Americans:
prolonged drought in Mexico creates millions of refugees. That's it.

The most likely near term crisis to occur will be:
Millions starving in Asia. American's would donate $25 and look the other way... like we have in Darfur. The price of wheat and corn could double, and few Americans would do anything but gripe.
Water wars in Africa. This has been happening for years and will get worse. Again the Darfur response.

The richest nation in the world will not engage until it is forced to. That's something to be ashamed of... and until then?
This island Earth is on a collision course with mega-catastrophes.

Pakistan: 6 million homeless! Try getting your arms around that.
Floods in northern China force over 250,000 to evacuate

There's this medical condition called Anton�Babinski syndrome where someone has had brain damage that causes blindness, but they don't know it.
"Anton�Babinski syndrome is a rare symptom of brain damage occurring in the occipital lobe. People who suffer from it are "cortically blind", but affirm, often quite adamantly and in the face of clear evidence of their blindness, that they are capable of seeing. Failure to see is dismissed by the sufferer through confabulation. It is named after Gabriel Anton and Joseph Babinski."

I think this sounds a lot like the problems some AGW denialists have.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Solzhenitsyn: the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Inactions have consequences

You often hear so called conservative politicians deny that climate change is real, or that it is real but caused by sun spots, or some other drivel. This position on climate change is at odds with the pro-business position generally considered a cornerstone of conservative politics.

Failing to address climate change is bad for business. The consequences of climate change are bad for business.

(Reuters) - Alternative energy investment prospects have shriveled in the United States after the U.S. Senate was unable to break a deadlock over tackling global warming, a Deutsche Bank official said.

Deutsche Bank spurns U.S. for climate investment

Climate-related disasters like we’ve seen across the world and at home will inevitably harm American businesses. That’s why the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which is tasked with making sure that investors are aware of an investment’s risks, has made it clear for the first time that climate change will have a sizeable impact on some businesses’ profits.

Climate Change Is Bad for Business
Disasters Hurt the Bottom Line

I wanted to see if the GOP leadership had altered its views on climate change. After all, it was they who killed the bill.

So I started with John Boehner who has made fun of those who consider CO2 a pollutant. But like most politicians he seems to be able to say lots of words without making any commitment to a position except that he's against taxing CO2 and claims it hurt the European economy when they did it. Experts disagree.
Boehner's in the house, and the house passed a bill, so he's not really relevant (55% of Americans never heard of him!)

Mitch McConnell is the minority leader in the senate, where the bill died. He was vehemently opposed to the cap and trade component of the bill. Making the same claims Boehner did (from the GOP playbook).

Inhofe is famous for his 'Global Warming is a Hoax' statements. He is a Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works!

Carley Fiorina, who is running against Barbara Boxer is ardently opposed to cap and trade, citing the GOP playbook reasons, that it'd lead to job losses and more government regulation (which is evil unless it's telling you who you can marry). (So is the venerable Dr. James Hansen but he wants a carbon tax).

Meg Whitman wants to be California's Governor and she says she would suspend AB32, again quoting from the GOP playbook.

So all but Inhofe are aware the climate change is real... they just don't think it's as important as low taxes and small government. But since they're all saying the same thing I wonder if they're individuals, or just part of single organism.

The nut cases like Sharron Angle, Ron Johnson, Steve Pierce, Ken Buck, Linda McMahon, Marco Rubio... this list is long GOP candidates knock global warming

Love this
With every passing day the deniers seem more and more absurdly detached from climate science, wallowing instead in climate witchcraft. Taunting them now might bring some satisfaction were it not for the fact that through their obstructionism they have grabbed the steering wheel of this country's energy policy which is rapidly becoming a ship not just of fools, but a ship of the selfish and cruel.

Criminal Neglect Of Future Generations

Watch this!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Do the wrong thing

“We need climate change legislation but it should not be tilted toward the nuclear industry against the coal industry because that is unfair to the upper Midwest,” Feingold said.

Feingold hits GOP Senate foe over 'bizarre' climate change explanation

That Feingold's concern is the economic well being of his constituency. That's his job. Voters are more concerned about keeping their homes and feeding their children than some threat on the horizon. That's human.
Still, to block a price on carbon because it's "unfair" is even less rational than simply denying climate change. Feingold has impressed me in the past, but not this time. It's not congress that tilts against coal, it's Mother Nature .

"Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That's all she is. You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate"

"Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000"
Rob Watson

It all boils down to money. Who will pay to save our home, Earth. The Great Recession could have greater consequences than anyone ever imagine.

I will give the government the benefit of the doubt, that they have prematurely claimed "this house is clean" regarding oil in the GOM... that they are trying to get the economy of the gulf states back to some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible. It's akin to when government quietly closed and fenced lead contaminated sites... you see them everywhere... they used to be gas stations. Then they didn't advertise the problem, they just did what they could to mitigate it. Here I think they want to do the same thing. Am I being naive?

Without that data, it's impossible for independent scientists to evaluate the study, and to use it to determine the appropriate response to the oil that remains in the water, Markey said. "The public has the right to know right now what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico," said Markey.

Ummm, About That Disappearing Oil?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let's get real

This article examines what we're up against to replace oil with wind and solar:

But the problem of scale means that these hydrocarbons just won't go away. Sure, Mr. Obama can double the output from solar and wind. And then double it again. And again. And again. But getting from 76,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to something close to the 47.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day needed to keep the U.S. economy running is going to take a long, long time. It would be refreshing if the president or perhaps a few of the Democrats on Capitol Hill would admit that fact.

Let's Get Real About Renewable Energy

I think even a sprinkling of common sense will tell you that wind and solar require lots of land, and we do not currently have the battery technology to overcome the fact that both are dependent on the sun shining or the wind blowing. And we don't have the time to build all we need even if these other issues were resolved.

To my mind nuclear power is our best hope. But it takes years (5 to 10) from plant inception to production. Some 30 plants are being considered and 13 have applied for permits. I was surprised that 20% of the US electricity is already provided by only 104 nuclear power plants. To replace oil, coal and gas electricity generation and meet anticipated growth in demand, we need to build more than 400 new plants.

World Nuclear Power Reactors & Uranium Requirements
NEI (a wealth of info)

And this was totally under the radar for me

NEI Welcomes Approval of Nuclear R&D Bill by House Science and Tech Subcommittee

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The House Committee on Science and Technology’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee approved H.R. 5866, the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 2010, last week. The bill authorizes the Department of Energy to fund advanced research and development programs on various aspects of nuclear energy.

But how much of the dirty fuels are used for electricity vs other stuff? Well, that's complicated, so let's just do some back of the envelope calculations...

If we went all electric (residencial and commercial buildings... who'd pay for that?) we could cover roughly 38% of current energy usage.

And if industry went all electric there's some fraction of the 33% usage in that sector that could be carbon free.
And if we all buy plug in electric cars? There's another 28%

Go look for yourself
Energy in the United States

The bottom line is that if the world built enough nuclear power plants and invested in converting its infrastructure to all electric we could actually reduce our carbon emissions so significantly it might avert us crossing the dreaded 2 degrees C warming threshold. All it takes is money. Yeah, good luck with that.

Plastic accumulated in regions called gyres, where currents circle and push water toward the center, trapping the floating bits. There are five major gyres in the the world, one in each major ocean.

Massive North Atlantic Garbage Patch Mapped

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Whose job is it anyway?

Australia: Thousands protest on climate change

From Gore's blog: The Movement We Need

Remember Katrina? The gulf oil spill? Can you imagine 20% of America being underwater? Do you really think our government could handle a crisis like that?

In Flooded Pakistan, a Lack of Basic Supplies

Sustainable Buildings: What Are We Waiting For?

* The building sector is responsible for more electricity consumption than any other sector, 42 percent, and 15 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) Emissions.

* In the U.S., buildings represent 72 percent of all energy usage and 39 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (pdf). Yet, up to 50% of that electricity is wasted.

* In New York City, buildings account for 80 percent of carbon emissions.

* By 2025, buildings will be the single largest energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gas on our planet.
Technology already exists that will allow us to utterly transform our buildings' impact on the environment. It's called the Internet. Along with cheap sensors (less than a penny each in some cases), the Internet becomes a network that can allow these buildings to be controlled for maximum energy efficiency; monitored for compliance; and customized to work better for inhabitants - floor by floor, room by room.

This is already happening today. Check out this example with the Calgary city school system in Canada.

We don't need any new inventions or legislation to solve one of our biggest environmental problems. What are we waiting for?

"This is a tragedy not only for some of the world's most biodiverse coral reefs, but also for people in the region," said Caleb McClennen, the New York-based group's marine program manager for Indonesia, noting that many depend on the rich marine life for their food and money earned through tourism.
"We are in a major heating period, it's breaking all records, and there are very furious worries now about the Philippines and eventually Taiwan and probably southern Japan," Wilkinson said. "This is really quite serious."

Indonesia's coral reefs dying at alarming rate

Investing in Clean Energy Manufacturing (800,000 jobs!)

A perfect storm... global recession, peak oil and climate change

OPEC's Spare Crude Oil Capacity - Will it Disappear by the End of 2011?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pay now and later

Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, speaking in Geneva, says billions of dollars will be needed to rehabilitate and reconstruct Pakistan,...
"Initial indicators are that just for the northern part of Pakistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, the requirement would be in the tune of about $2.5 billion," Akram said. "So, it is going to be a massive effort for reconstruction and rehabilitation. And, according to our estimate, the time it would take would be around five years."
Akram says Pakistan has received $301 million in multilateral and bilateral aid. He says this is not enough to provide millions of people with basic life-saving relief.

Pakistani Envoy: Billions Needed to Rebuild After Floods
So we don't have enough money to arrest global warming, but we'll have to find it somewhere to pay for the consequences.

And an update to one of the other posts found here Addicted to Plastic

A must watch

So now you've had a laugh and maybe promised to foregoe plastic bags from now on...

Here's some alarming news that addresses the same point this blog was created to address.

Britain and other countries face a collapse of their economies and loss of culture if they do not protect the environment better, the world's leading champion of nature has warned.

"What we are seeing today is a total disaster," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, the secretary-general of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. "No country has met its targets to protect nature. We are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. If current levels [of destruction] go on we will reach a tipping point very soon. The future of the planet now depends on governments taking action in the next few years."
A major UN report in the impacts of biodiversity loss that will be launched in October is expected to say that the economic case for global action to stop the destruction of the natural world is even more powerful than the argument for tackling climate change. It will say that saving biodiversity is remarkably cost-effective and the benefits from saving "natural goods and services", such as pollination, medicines, fertile soils, clean air and water, are between 10 and 100 times the cost of saving the habitats and species that provide them.

Protect nature for world economic security, warns UN biodiversity chief

And check this out:
How Many Cities Have a Ban on Plastic Bags?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Wall

"The science really hasn't caught up with the observations," he said of those results, which he will present at a scientific meeting this week in Ohio. "The observations are showing really dramatic changes. There is an element of surprise. The fact that there is so much change in northern Greenland is not something the community is aware of yet."

Researchers Race to Catch Up With Melting, Shifting Polar Realities

Earth Overshoot Day -- a concept devised by U.K.-based new economics foundation -- marks an unfortunate milestone: the day in which we exhaust our ecological budget for the year. Once we pass Earth Overshoot Day, humanity will have demanded all the ecological services – from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food – that nature can provide this year. From that point until the end of the year, we meet our ecological demand by liquidating resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Earth Overshoot Day

It has taken humanity less than nine months to exhaust its ecological budget for the year, according to data from Global Footprint Network, a California-based environmental research organization.

Earth Overdraft: On Saturday, We Exceed Nature's Budget


If we let the deficit hawks and government haters dominate this debate, as they have, the Big Dipper will continue for years. The Great Depression lasted twelve.

Forget a Double-Dip, We're Still in One Long Big Dipper

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Addicted to plastic

I'm going to be a lot more careful about how much plastic I use!
Here in Huntington Beach all our trash is recycled by the city. But how recyclable is plastic? Not very.

Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastics and reprocessing the material into useful products, sometimes completely different in form from their original state. For instance, this could mean melting down soft drink bottles and then casting them as plastic chairs and tables. Typically a plastic is not recycled into the same type of plastic, and products made from recycled plastics are often not recyclable.
Additives are less widely used in beverage containers and plastic bags, allowing them to be recycled more frequently.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

This may save the day

STEP Carbon Capture
New solar-powered process removes CO2 from the air and stores it as solid carbon

So ok, if the above technology is for real (patent applied for) it's not Oh My God We're All Gonna Die time. Personally I think the government should buy this patent, manufacture it, and deploy it.

But sustainability and living in a world with zero population growth is still something we're gonna have to learn to do. We need to get to a place where invading other countries and ignoring the fact that millions of children die of starvation every year... is unthinkable.
Among developed countries, the US appears to be way behind in this cultural evolution.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Get used to stories like this

AMES, Iowa — Ames officials implored residents Friday to do a better job of conserving water after historic flooding caused pipes to break and left the college town of 55,000 without drinking water.

Iowans Running Out Of Drinking Water After Flooding

A crumbling neglected infrastructure is going to be punished by extreme weather.

Life and death

One study found that global warming could increase the groundlevel
ozone by 10 ppb or more during heat waves by 2050 in the
Midwest and Northeast. For a city like Washington, DC , that
means about 42 excess deaths for each day that there is elevated
ozone. These would be in addition to any deaths caused
primarily by exposure to extreme heat.

Extreme Heat in Summer 2010:
A Window on the Future

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tragedy of the Commons

My niece Alisa is studying this in college.

The tragedy of the commons refers to a dilemma described in an influential article by that name written by Garrett Hardin and first published in the journal Science in 1968.[1] The article describes a situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently, and solely and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen.

Implicit in this scenario is growth of consumption of resources faster than the resources can be replenished.

It seems to me all living things are hard wired to compete for resources to survive. The tragedy is that some living things consume, hoard, poison and squander resources they don't need for survival.

And consider that Big Oil and Big Coal are part of the picture. Corporations have no conscience. They're like the terminator... They can't be bargained with,they can't be reasoned with,they don't feel pity or remorse or fear! And they will not stop EVER...

Ok a little over the top there... the hated Walmart went green. And corporations will respond if enough of their customers complain... not because it's the right thing to do, but because they need to protect the bottom line.

Here is an example

Then They Were Gone

Donald Paul is a self-employed inshore fisherman who's been working the waters off Burin since 1974. He owns his own small boat and works the near-coastal waters around Placentia Bay, landing fish ashore at the end of the day. He's lucky to still be fishing.

"Back when I started there were plenty of fish," Paul says. "I'd say the first year I noticed something was 1978," Paul says. "In normal years we'd get 200,000 pounds of cod, but that year it was more like 70,000 pounds. Then all of a sudden they just crashed."

The shock came in 1988. New modeling techniques and the latest stock survey revealed that many groundfish stocks were on the edge of collapse. The northern cod stock--by far the largest and most important--was in the worst shape of all. Fisheries scientists concluded that quotas had to be more than halved in order to prevent this stock's collapse. Politicians were appalled; the proposed quotas would have caused economic chaos throughout Eastern Canada. So the politicians compromised what could not be compromised. Quotas were cut by only 10 percent.

More frightening data poured in confirming the stock was in serious trouble, that fishermen had been capturing as much as 60 percent of the adult cod every year for several years running. Plants closed and 2,000 people were out of work. Canada released $584 million in emergency assistance. Fishermen tried as hard as they could, but could only catch 122,000 of the 190,000-ton cod quota for 1991. The stock was in free fall.

When the 1992 fish surveys were released, politicians finally realized that regardless of what quotas they set, nature had spoken: there would be no fish to feed the plants and working families of Atlantic Canada. The estimated combined weight of the adult cod population was a mere 1.1 percent of its historic levels of the early 1960s. In 1992 the government finally closed the Banks altogether to allow the stock to recover. But by then it was far too late.
A Run on the Banks
How "Factory Fishing" Decimated Newfoundland Cod

In a nutshell

“Due to its exposure to all weather-related perils, its large population and the fast growth in economic values, China is especially affected by climate change – and will be even more so in the future,” said Prof. Peter Höppe, Head of Geo Risks Research at Munich Re. “Over the last 30 years, Asia has been the continent with the largest increase in frequency of weather-related disasters. Loss-relevant events have tripled in number, which presents new challenges for all exposed economies.”

Press release Munich Re Climate Summit at Shanghai EXPO highlights risks and opportunities of climate change

HT PSU Grad over at Climate Progress

Long hot summer

The U.S. remains the only major industrialized nation not to have legislated caps on carbon emissions, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week withdrew climate legislation in the face of resistance from Republicans and some Democrats.

The U.S. inaction, dating back to the 1990s, is a key reason global talks have bogged down for a pact to succeed the expiring Kyoto Protocol. That is the relatively weak accord on emissions cuts adhered to by all other industrialized states.

Governments around the world, especially in poorer nations that will be hard-hit, are scrambling to find ways and money to adapt to shifts in climate and rising seas.

Long hot summer of fire and floods fit predictions

You can thank Big Oil and Big Coal and their buddies in congress for this shameful situation... that the world's only remaining super power is so laggard. Currently about 40 people (GOP senators) have hamstrung our federal government.

But, if it weren't, wouldn't huge $$ incentives to find ways to reduce CO2 emissions result in America becoming the innovator she used to be? Global demand would persist even in this rotten recession wouldn't it?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More too little too late

Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has renewed questions about the risks and unpredictable costs of America’s unremitting dependence on fossil fuels. President Obama has seized on the opportunity to promote his goal of having 20 to 25 percent of America’s electricity produced from renewable sources by 2025.

“Broadly, Europe has had great success in this area,” said Mr. Juech, the analyst at Garten Rothkopf. “But that is the result of huge government support and intervention, and that raises questions about what happens when you have an economic crisis or political change; will these technologies still be sustainable?”

Portugal Gives Itself a Clean-Energy Makeover

So here's Europe

And here's the US

As of 2008 only 7% of our energy came from renewable sources.

I don't know about you, but I find this embarrassing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


The US main stream media seems to be bored with the thousands affected by the floods in China and Pakistan, and the hundreds dying each day in Russia due to the fires.
The death of a former senator and the various primary elections take center stage.
The consequences of this media shortsightedness is that the citizens are left ignorant.

Thomas Jefferson and his ilk believed that the free press would keep our country informed. Being informed would make us strong.

The MSM have made us weak.

Teleconference On Rising Temperatures Raise Food Prices

Audio. Les Brown author of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization on the looming agricultural disaster.


Plan B Updates

Russian heat wave and fires to cost 15 billion

The heatwave has had a huge impact on all areas of Russian society and economists warned Tuesday the record temperatures could have cost the country up to 15 billion dollars and undercut a modest economic revival.

Worst hit has been agriculture, which has seen 10 million hectares of land destroyed.

Burning Russia battles to defend nuclear sites

Global climate change agreement

At Copenhagen, developed nations pledged to provide $30 billion in financing by 2012 to help poorer nations solve the problems caused by climate change, with a total $100 billion by 2020.

That doesn't seem like much money, about the same as the auto bailout of 2009, considering that the poorer nations are (apparently) already suffering the effects of climate change (Pakistan: 15 million affected and counting, recovery expected to cost billions of dollars).

Mr. Ban also announced a new 21-member advisory panel on long-term sustainable development to be led by Tarja Halonen, the president of Finland, and Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa. Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, is also on the panel.

U.N. Chief Recommends Small Steps on Climate

Only getting around to this now?

It's not just too little too late, it's absurdly too little and way too late.

I don't think they get it that the models were too conservative, that everything is happening sooner and faster and worse than predicted, and that this monster has momentum... you can't turn it around very easily. Either they think they have time and these wimpy efforts are enough, or they have given up and are just going through the motions. I don't know which.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How do we calculate the economic impact of this?

Climate change is provoking mass human migration. According to scientists, 50 million people worldwide will be displaced this year because of rising sea levels, desertification, dried up aquifers, weather-induced flooding, and other severe environmental changes.

A joint study by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre shows that in 2008 climate-related natural disasters forced 20 million people out of their homes. Research conducted by the Red Cross shows that more people today migrate due to environmental disaster than because of violent conflict.

Mass Migration As a Result of Environmental Changes

As if I wasn't depressed enough

Does anyone doubt that once a society ceases to be able to afford schools, public transit, paved roads, libraries and street lights -- or once it chooses not to be able to afford those things in pursuit of imperial priorities and the maintenance of a vast Surveillance and National Security State -- that a very serious problem has arisen, that things have gone seriously awry, that imperial collapse, by definition, is an imminent inevitability? Anyway, I just wanted to leave everyone with some light and cheerful thoughts as we head into the weekend.


Eye opener

Note that most are since 1990.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thought provoking

Solar Energy

“We’ve got a major problem to solve,” Woolard said. “We’ve got to build 50 gigawatts a year of carbon-free power. That’s a lot of power to build and we’re failing miserably at doing it.”

BrightSource CEO John Woolard

HT Climate Progress

OK, today I'm going to look for some good news.

Found some

Exxon Sinks $600M Into Algae-Based Biofuels in Major Strategy Shift

If big Oil recognizes itself as buggy whip manufactures in the age of the Model T, and that a major transformation is required, maybe we'll have a chance.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I guess they can print money

I'll continue to work on this list... it's surprising that there isn't some organization keeping track of what the Earth's natural disasters are costing. My concern here is that the world is scrambling to repair both broken economies and broken infrastructure as the weather starts reflecting climate change... there won't be any money left to do what we need to due to reverse global warming! Damage to infrastructure is only one element. There's lost crops and lost business as well. We see from the GOM oil spill how difficult it is to put a value on an economy disrupted by disaster.

I just realized the economic impact reports will probably not be available until next year because lots and lots of data collection and analysis is required to come up with one.

  • Feb 2010 Europe: At least 50 people have been killed in storms that have lashed parts of Spain, Portugal and France, officials say. Storm Xynthia cost 1.5 billion euros, say insurers
  • Apr 2010 US: Flood levels not seen in Rhode Island since record-keeping began in the 1870s have damaged sewage treatment plants, flooded industrial parks and created an environmental catastrophe as raw sewage flows into Narragansett Bay, officials said damage costs to exceed $200M
  • May 2010 US: Tennessee floods were 1000-year[1] floods in Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee, South Central and Western Kentucky and northern Mississippi as the result of torrential rains on May 1 and 2, 2010. Floods from these rains affected the area for several days afterwards, resulting in a number of deaths and widespread property damage. Damages to Nashville alone now are being estimated at $1.5 billion, a number the mayor says will climb because they haven't finished checking all areas.
  • May 2010 Europe: Parts of Poland, Slovakia, Serbia and the Czech Republic have been inundated after days of heavy rain burst river banks and inundated low-lying areas across the region. [May 2010]
  • Jun 2010 France: Heavy rains have caused havoc in France. Meterologists say the floods are the worst in the region since 1827. [June 2010]
  • Jun 2010 US: Death toll hits 19 in Arkansas floods [June 2010]
  • Aug 2010 Pakistan: Thousands of people in Pakistan's Punjab province are fleeing their homes as the worst floods in the country's history threaten more areas in the south.
    "People [in the flood areas] are literal fighting to get food aid”, Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from the capital, Islamabad, said.
  • 2010 China: The death toll for China's worst flooding in a decade rose to 1,072 people, with 619 still missing. There had been flooding all over China this year [Aug 2010] Economic loss is more than $11 billion. About 875,000 homes have been destroyed, 9.61 million people evacuated, and 22 million acres (8.76 million hectares) of crops ruined, according
  • Aug 2010 Europe:Nine dead as flash floods inundate central Europe. (8/8/2010)
  • April 2010 Rio de Janeiro floods and mudslides are an extreme weather event that has affected the State of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. More than 246 people have died after the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the city. 113.6 million dollars
  • June 2010 Brazil: flood toll climbs amid search for hundreds of missing...55 million dollars in emergency aid; ...devastated sugar cane production with estimated losses at more than 56 million dollars
  • Jan 2010 Brazil: 85 dead and at least 100 houses demolished... the direct loss caused by the flood mudslide was estimated to be between 200 million and 250 million reais (between 116 million and 145 million U.S. dollars).
  • Aug 2010 In North Korea thousands of homes, public buildings and factories were ruined and about 14,859 hectares of farmland “submerged, buried or washed away,”
  • Aug 2010 An unprecedented amount of rain had already inundated the Yalu and Tumen rivers bordering China, with more forecast for the region... may cut production of rice and pork, boosting prices...Rice output may fall up to 7 percent
  • Jul 2010 Canada: Up to $450 million will be made available to help flooded-out Prairie farmers... Eighteen per cent of Canada's productive farmland on the cultivated side will not be producing this year. Read more... Saskatchewan Faces $300 Million Flood Repair Bill: “In fact, with agricultural output falling by nearly a third, and taking these indirect effects into account, real GDP could drop by about 2%.”
  • Aug 2010 Africa: A severe drought is causing increasing hunger across the Eastern Sahel in west Africa, affecting 10 million people in four countries. In Niger, the worst-affected country, 7.1 million are hungry, with nearly half considered highly food insecure because of the loss of livestock and crops coupled with a surge in prices. Last year exceptionally heavy rainfall destroyed crops and devastated this year's harvest in the region. The resulting fall in production in staples like maize, millet and sorghum has affected much of West Africa's Sahel – fragile in the best of times – including neighbouring Chad and northern Nigeria. ...drought hits Africa
  • Jan 2010 Australia: Some of the biggest rainstorms in more than 100 years have been recorded, turning the floodplain of the Castlereagh and other rivers into veritable inland seas that could see some properties cut off for weeks Floods break drought in Australia's parched inland

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pakistan drowns while Russia burns

Millions affected
Government overwhelmed.

The worst floods in Pakistan's history have affected 14 million people, the government's disaster management agency has said.

"It is a real crisis all over the country. It is unprecedented floods in our history," military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said, adding that the country did not have the resources to cope with such a disaster.

Pakistan floods affect 14 million

A variety of freakish weather conditions across the world has sent the price of staples including wheat, pork, rice, orange juice, coffee, cocoa and tea to fresh highs in recent weeks. Yesterday's decision by the Russian government to ban the export of wheat to protect home consumers saw grain prices jump 8 per cent on the day, on what was already a two-year high. Meanwhile, the burgeoning demand for foodstuffs and raw material growth in the resurgent economies of China and India has also driven oil, copper and other industrial commodities higher.
Taken together it suggests that Western nations will be hit by a sharp inflationary spike next year, as the price of bread, beer, petrol and many other everyday items climbs higher again. Given the sluggish prospects for growth in Western economies it threatens a return to "stagflation" – stagnant growth coupled with high inflation. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has warned that inflation will stay above the official target of 2 per cent for "much of next year". At least for a time it could spike much higher as global commodity prices surge once again, exacerbating the VAT rise in January.

Russian wheat export ban threatens higher inflation and food riots

Extreme weather events such as these two are occurring all over the world right now. The effects will render millions homeless, reduce food supplies (resulting in increasing costs), and increase the chances of serious disease outbreaks. The costs of relief efforts will burden already overburdened economies globally.
Increasing food costs will push more of the worlds population into poverty, lowering their purchase power. This exacerbates the global recession. And then there's the threat of inflation as mentioned above...

It is just the beginning. It will get worse. It's gonna be a bumpy ride folks.


Oh, and if you're into alarmist crap:

If you read any economic, financial, or political analysis for 2010 that doesn’t mention the food shortage looming next year, throw it in the trash, as it is worthless. There is overwhelming, undeniable evidence that the world will run out of food next year. When this happens, the resulting triple digit food inflation will lead panicking central banks around the world to dump their foreign reserves to appreciate their currencies and lower the cost of food imports, causing the collapse of the dollar, the treasury market, derivative markets, and the global financial system. The US will experience economic disintegration.

2010 Food Crisis Means Financial Armageddon


  • Have cities open sections of the city parks to communal gardens.
  • City ordinances that require abandon sites to be converted to parks until another use is established. (HB has acres of sad abandon buildings like the old Monkey Wards building.

Russian Fires

Will Russia's Heat Wave End Its Global-Warming Doubts?
By Simon Shuster / Moscow

At a meeting of international sporting officials in Moscow on July 30, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced that in 14 regions of the country, "practically everything is burning. The weather is anomalously hot." Then, as TV cameras zoomed in on the perspiration shining on his forehead, Medvedev announced, "What's happening with the planet's climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate."

Medvedev has not been the only person in Russia to link the ongoing heat wave to climate change. Alexei Lyakhov, head of Moscow's meteorological center, tells TIME it is "clearly part of a global phenomenon" that is hitting Russia. "We have to start taking systemic measures of adaptation. It's obvious now. Just like human beings at one point took steps to adapt to the Ice Age, we now have to adapt to this," he says, citing cuts to carbon emissions as one of the necessary adaptations.

Now that Medvedev is also acknowledging the effects of climate change, Russia's official line on the subject could start to change, Chuprov says. But he warns that convincing the public of the threat from global warming may be difficult. "The status quo can change quickly in the minds of bureaucrats if the leadership gives the signal. But in the minds of the people, myths are much more difficult to uproot," he says. As if to prove the point, Russia's largest circulation newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, ran a headline on July 31 that asked, "Is the Russian heat wave the result of the USA testing its climate weapon?" The daily's answer was "Yes, probably."

Read the whole thing here

No other MSM connecting the dots though... so nobody is trying to uproot the myths planted by big oil and big coal.

Somebody needs to think of how to mitigate the painful adaptations we'll have to go through to survive.


Fire threatening the forests around Chernobyl.

The Russian government warned on Thursday that the country's deadliest wildfires in nearly four decades posed a nuclear threat if they are not contained, as the death toll rose to 50 and the blazes continued to spread.
Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said heat from fires in the Bryansk region, which already has nuclear contamination from the Chernobyl disaster more than 20 years ago, could release harmful radioactive particles into the atmosphere

whole story

Hawkings - repost

Smartest guy on the planet recommends we build an ark.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Social Security

As population growth goes to zero, the population becomes older. When Social Security was implemented there were lots more young folk than old folk, and due to rapid population growth rates, the ratio was increasing.
Now, with near zero growth, the number of young people paying into SS is decreasing while the number of old folk is increasing.

You do the math.

Conservatively, in the developed world, there will be about 2 workers for every SS recipient by 2050.

Of course that's not accounting for potentially huge losses due to drought, flood, heatwaves, storms and desease brought on by the warming climate.

On Age Distribution of Zero-growth Population

Global Heat Waves

Seems this story would have more legs than the Gulf spill or OJ trial for MSM, why aren't they covering it.

Google Time Line Floods

Google Time Line Heat Waves

Google Time Line Droughts

We Need a New Culture

Bill McGibben:
Step one involves actually talking about global warming. For years now, the accepted wisdom in the best green circles was: talk about anything else -- energy independence, oil security, beating the Chinese to renewable technology. I was at a session convened by the White House early in the Obama administration where some polling guru solemnly explained that "green jobs" polled better than "cutting carbon."

Step two, we have to ask for what we actually need, not what we calculate we might possibly be able to get. If we're going to slow global warming in the very short time available to us, then we don't actually need an incredibly complicated legislative scheme that gives door prizes to every interested industry and turns the whole operation over to Goldman Sachs to run. We need a stiff price on carbon, set by the scientific understanding that we can't still be burning black rocks a couple of decades hence. That undoubtedly means upending the future business plans of Exxon and BP, Peabody Coal and Duke Energy, not to speak of everyone else who's made a fortune by treating the atmosphere as an open sewer for the byproducts of their main business.

Instead they should pay through the nose for that sewer, and here's the crucial thing: most of the money raised in the process should be returned directly to American pockets. The monthly check sent to Americans would help fortify us against the rise in energy costs, and we'd still be getting the price signal at the pump to stop driving that SUV and start insulating the house. We also need to make real federal investments in energy research and development, to help drive down the price of alternatives -- the Breakthrough Institute points out, quite rightly, that we're crazy to spend more of our tax dollars on research into new drone aircraft and Mars orbiters than we do on photovoltaics.

Tomgram: Bill McKibben, A Wilted Senate on a Heating Planet

There are economic structures around all the things that we want to go away. Cut off the head of the monsters oil and coal and what happens? Lost jobs. Oil and coal jobs, distributions systems jobs, coal fired electric plant jobs, parts manufacture for coal fired electric plant jobs, and on and on and on. We just saw an economic structure collapse in the gulf due to the spill. Small stuff compared to the impact of suddenly making oil and coal noncompetitive via carbon price.

But lets say just for grins than some tax on carbon is imposed. Costs of energy go up, but the revenues from those taxes go back into your pocket, so you pay the higher costs... and it's almost a wash. So we haven't accomplished anything.

No, I think we need a sea change in our culture. Like the change that got nearly everyone off cigarettes. One that would make it taboo to drive a Humvee, eat beef, stuff like that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

We have become profoundly insensitive to what it takes to maintain our standard of living.

I realized recently that in order for us to do what's needed to prevent catastrophic climate change we're going to have to suffer profound changes in our way of life, our ambitions and our expectations. No more American Dream

  • No more disposable anything
  • No more huge homes for a family of 4
  • No more gas guzzlers
  • Less meat
  • More telecommuting

Got some to add?

Our habits of consumption have become epic.

Now tell me, dear readers (I've got at least 1), do you believe people will sacrifice everything they've been programmed to want to save the next generation? Hummm?

And think about how much energy is spent moving stuff around! The price of an avocado in NY... most food in NY, would cost so much nobody could afford the ridiculous housing costs.

We have become profoundly insensitive to what it takes to maintain our standard of living.

It begins?

Wildfires Kill 40 Russians; 58 People Drown as Record Heat Wave Continues

Inconvienient side effect

Russia’s worst drought in at least 50 years, which already drove wheat prices to the biggest jump since 1973, will continue in August and threaten more crops and winter-grain sowings, the state Hydrometeorological Center said on its website. Rainfall last month in central Russia and along the Volga River was 10 percent to 30 percent of the long-term average, the center said.

I say Manhatten, they say Apollo

Humanity needs to take 'giant leap'

But what ever they call it, if it happens, it's going to have to be BIG

Of course they plan on taking a decade to get going, by then it could be too late.

And wow... parasitic? or cancerous?

Meanwhile, the financial system has strangled U.S. growth by parasitically growing from 3% of GDP in 1965 to 7.5% of GDP currently. As Jeremy Grantham pointed out in his quarterly letter to investors, financial services were sufficient for the economy when they were 3% of GDP, but that sector grew by strangling GDP growth elsewhere. The nation's GDP growth slowed from 3.5% in 1965 to 2.4% between 1980 and 2007, and the slowdown occurred before our current crisis.

In other words, our bloated financial sector has been sucking the life-blood out of the U.S. economy for years, and recent decisions insure it will continue to feed off taxpayers, while the host economy struggles for life.

Stranguflation: Deflation and Inflation Where it Hurts America Most

It will take centuries

New CO2 model to ensure that Earth doesn't heat up beyond two degrees

The headline is deceptive
Although, based on these calculations, global warming would remain under the two-degree threshold until 2100, further warming may be expected in the long term.

"It will take centuries for the global climate system to stabilise," said Roeckner

Monday, August 2, 2010

Need something more to worry about?

The sun is under scrutiny as never before thanks to an armada of space telescopes. The results they beam back are portraying our nearest star, and its influence on Earth, in a new light. Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what?

What's wrong with the sun?

Audio: Is the population bomb ever going to explode?

Need to Know

Love this site, love this show... which you can watch online.


... However, as the years pass and the emissions continue to grow, it gets harder and harder to turn the juggernaut around in time. On the most optimistic timetable, there might be U.S. climate legislation in 2013, and a global climate deal in 2014, and we really start reducing emissions by 2015.

By then, we would need to be cutting emissions by 5 or 6 per cent a year, instead of growing them at 3 per cent a year, if we still want to come in under +2 degrees C. That’s impossible. No economy can change the sources of its energy at the rate of 8 or 9 per cent a year. So we are going to blow right through the point of no return.

The last resort on climate change - Gwynne Dyer

This is a monumental failure of world leadership that will doom all life on Earth unless a miracle happens.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

OK, my milieu is in tune with the zeitgeist!
But the recent economic meltdown has left us a bit impaired.


Self Provisioning she calls it... where we live in a culturenet and become individual contributers of real stuff to survive, instead of being a small cog in an uncaring machine in return for bits of green paper.

It's how I plan to spend my retirement, but I don't see the masses being able to make such a transition in time to save our bacon.

Juliet Schor: Plenitude from toddboyle on Vimeo.

ht InKyDo at The Oil Drum