Friday, December 30, 2011

Jane Lubchenco, Ph D.: Predicting and Managing Extreme Weather & Climate Events

Union Agency Lecture: Jane Lubchenco, Ph D. from American Geophysical Union on Vimeo.

Ready to live on an alien planet?

"This is what we must get the public to understand—that people wouldn't intentionally leave children in a situation guaranteed to have tragic results but that's the pathway we're on," said Hansen. "We have a really sensitive climate system ... and we have only witnessed so far a fraction of the results."
As Climate Change Worsens, Scientists Feel Increasing Pressure to Speak Out

Any SciFi fans out there? Ready to live on an alien planet?
Imagine hurricanes that make it up the Missisiippii River to the twin cities?
Or one that lingers over NY City?
Hailstones the size of cars?

Colbert Mocks Limbaugh, Carlson, Doocy Over Their Global Warming Denials

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How 2011 Became a 'Mind-Boggling' Year of Extreme Weather

Watch How 2011 Became a 'Mind-Boggling' Year of Extreme Weather on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

YOU ARE HERE: The Oil Journey (Narrated by Peter Coyote)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The anthropomorphic James Howard Kunstler and Duncan Crary discuss the "Glossary of Nowhere."

IPCC's Extreme Events Report


We have this
Edward A. G. Schuur, a University of Florida researcher who has done extensive field work in Alaska, is worried by the changes he already sees, including the discovery that carbon buried since before the dawn of civilization is now escaping.

“To me, it’s a spine-tingling feeling, if it’s really old carbon that hasn’t been in the air for a long time, and now it’s entering the air,” Dr. Schuur said. “That’s the fingerprint of a major disruption, and we aren’t going to be able to turn it off someday.”
As Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Study the Risks

And this

And then a so called environmentalist Andrew Revkin posting garbage like this:
Methane Time Bomb in Arctic Seas – Apocalypse Not

Even the links he references in his article contradict his premise. Click on them! You will be annoyed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chomsky speaks about Human Destiny

As in the occupy movement and this piece:

If national commitment is unobtainable, we need to focus on actors who are prepared to provide bold leadership. We have no choice.

James Lovelock A Final Warning by Nature Video

Note: He says that systems may fail suddenly.

uh oh

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

"Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing," Dr Semiletov said. "I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them."

Shock as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas

HT Global Warming Climate Change Report via facebook

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TEDxPSU - Michael Mann - A Look Into Our Climate: Past To Present To Future

Most Important News Story of the Day/Millennium

The most important piece of news yesterday, this week, this month, and this year was a new set of statistics released yesterday by the Global Carbon Project. It showed that carbon emissions from our planet had increased 5.9 percent between 2009 and 2010. In fact, it was arguably among the most important pieces of data in the last, oh, three centuries, since according to the New York Times it represented "almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution."

What it means, in climate terms, is that we've all but lost the battle to reduce the damage from global warming. The planet has already warmed about a degree Celsius; it's clearly going to go well past two degrees. It means, in political terms, that the fossil fuel industry has delayed effective action for the 12 years since the Kyoto treaty was signed. It means, in diplomatic terms, that the endless talks underway in Durban should be more important than ever -- they should be the focus of a planetary population desperate to figure out how it's going to survive the century.

The Most Important News Story of the Day/Millennium

Sunday, November 27, 2011

George Carlin on Global Warming

I've posted this before, but it's worth posting again.
Keeping ourselves in perspective is sometimes hard to do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

John Bruno: Climate Change's Effect on Our Oceans

Climate Change's Effect on Our Oceans from John Bruno on Vimeo.

Poor quality, but he makes some points we don't often hear.
For one, that we will have to live with the climate change we are already committed to for hundreds and even thousands of years.

Global Natural Symptoms of the Climate Change

Friday, November 18, 2011

Over four years ago

Note that Reagan is credited with dealing with the ozone hole
Note that the issue has become even more partisan even as extreme weather is stressing our infrastucture.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Five years

The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be "lost for ever", according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.

Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this "lock-in" effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world's foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous.
Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace said: "The decisions being made by politicians today risk passing a monumental carbon debt to the next generation, one for which they will pay a very heavy price. What's seriously lacking is a global plan and the political leverage to enact it. Governments have a chance to begin to turn this around when they meet in Durban later this month for the next round of global climate talks."
Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief, said the findings underlined the urgency of the climate problem, but stressed the progress made in recent years. "This is not the scenario we wanted," she said. "But making an agreement is not easy. What we are looking at is not an international environment agreement — what we are looking at is nothing other than the biggest industrial and energy revolution that has ever been seen."

World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns

Carbon Capture is our only hope.

Carbon Capture & Sequestration | Sally Benson - Energy@Stanford from Cyperus on Vimeo.

Monday, November 7, 2011

John Ikerd: Dwindling Energy Resources Will Put The Economy at Risk

Peak Oil over again

The media loves to announce new seemingly large discoveries of oil as if they are the solution to what is really an unfolding liquid fuels crisis. They point to the Tupi field off Brazil which is purported to have 8 billion barrels of oil in it. And, they point to discoveries in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico thought to contain between 3 and 15 billion barrels. And, they point to the 4 billion barrels in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. It all sounds like a lot. When I ask audiences how long a billion barrels of oil will last the world at current rates of consumption, I often get replies that range anywhere from three months to 5 years. The correct answer is 12 days. Just multiply these multi-billion-barrel discoveries by 12, and you'll realize right away that they are not going to overcome the constraints we are experiencing in oil supplies.

Read the whole article

Time to Worry: World Oil Production Finishes Six Years of No Growth

HT The Oil Drum via Facebook

Friday, November 4, 2011

And now for something truely depressing

Where will jobs for young people come from? Certainly not from pie-in-the-sky hopes for renewable energy and sustainables, says John de Bueger.
It is a truly intractable problem. For those of us on record as having predicted nearly three years ago that the Global financial crisis was unlikely to ever end, one wishes somehow that one had been wrong - or if not wrong, then unduly pessimistic.
The 7th billion human arrived last week, but it will be a miracle if even half this number exist at the end of this century.

Sounds like it won't be long before youth unemployment isn't the only thing we need worry about
Answer not blowing in the wind

HT The Oil Drum

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases

WASHINGTON (AP) — The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

"The more we talk about the need to control emissions, the more they are growing," said John Reilly, co-director of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The world pumped about 564 million more tons (512 million metric tons) of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That's an increase of 6 percent. That amount of extra pollution eclipses the individual emissions of all but three countries — China, the United States and India, the world's top producers of greenhouse gases.

It is a "monster" increase that is unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past.
Biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases

HT @sustainablearth via Twitter

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The end of growth

The next 20 years are going to be completely unlike the last two decades. How the world works, how stocks grow, the very nature of investing and how our economy functions—all of these are due for fundamental, earth-shaking change. As investors, we have to adjust the way we look at the world.

We want growth. We need economic growth. It's all you hear about when the treasury secretary talks about how we are going to get the economy growing again or when the president talks about jobs. When our money system is growing, things are reasonably happy. When it is not growing, things are very unhappy. As long as everything is growing, our economy functions reasonably well. And when it stops growing, it throws giant fits and gets into trouble. That is why we are always chasing growth. And there is a reason for that: Money. But what is money?
I don't care what color it is or whose picture is on it or what counterfeiting measures you have in place. All money in the world today shares one characteristic: it is loaned into existence. It seems like a simple enough statement, but this has enormous implications. Because it is borrowed, we pay interest on it. That interest drives a peculiar feature in our money system (by "our" I'm referring to all fiat currencies in the world because all of them operate by this same loaning principle). When you loan money into existence, you have to pay both the principal and the interest back. That means there is always more debt than money in the system.
We have a world where we will face exponentially rising costs if we continue to run our economy in the way it has been running. That is not a great strategy at this point. Our economy must grow by design because of how our money and debt systems operate, but it is connected to an energy system that can't grow. This is the definition of a predicament. No matter what policies we pursue or how clever our technologies get, there are certain things that we just can't undo. When you take oil out of the ground and you burn it, it is gone. And we are burning it up at a faster and faster pace.

Chris Martenson: Peak Oil Could Limit Economic Growth

Well duh

Many Do the Math posts have touched on the inevitable cessation of growth and on the challenge we will face in developing a replacement energy infrastructure once our fossil fuel inheritance is spent. The focus has been on long-term physical constraints, and not on the messy details of our response in the short-term. But our reaction to a diminishing flow of fossil fuel energy in the short-term will determine whether we transition to a sustainable but technological existence or allow ourselves to collapse. One stumbling block in particular has me worried. I call it The Energy Trap.

In brief, the idea is that once we enter a decline phase in fossil fuel availability—first in petroleum—our growth-based economic system will struggle to cope with a contraction of its very lifeblood. Fuel prices will skyrocket, some individuals and exporting nations will react by hoarding, and energy scarcity will quickly become the new norm. The invisible hand of the market will slap us silly demanding a new energy infrastructure based on non-fossil solutions. But here’s the rub. The construction of that shiny new infrastructure requires not just money, but…energy. And that’s the very commodity in short supply. Will we really be willing to sacrifice additional energy in the short term—effectively steepening the decline—for a long-term energy plan? It’s a trap!
The Energy Trap

The Great Climate Change Debate - An Ethical Perspective

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The population crash will kill our economy – good news for the planet

And ageing is the new way of the world. You wouldn't guess it from the public debate so far about the seven billion landmark, but the average woman in the world today has half as many children as her mother or grandmother did 40 years ago: 2.5 children, compared to five. And the number keeps on going down. Dozens of countries are already below two, including Iran, Burma, Vietnam, China of course – and much of southern India, too.

In the long run, that's not enough to keep up numbers. Many expect world peak population by mid-century, and decline thereafter. Whether it happens then or later, mass global ageing is now a certainty.

I suspect that the global economic binge of the 20th century was a product of a booming, youthful population. It will die as we age. Japan's lost decade, and its likely repetition now across the western world, is perhaps the first sign. About time too. We all know that we cannot go on as we have. The planet cannot stand it. The party is over.

The population crash will kill our economy – good news for the planet

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Previously known as an unknown unknown

In central British Columbia over the past decade and a half the mountain pine beetles have single-handily devoured half the commercial forests or an astounding 39 million acres (enough wood to build 5 million homes). As if that weren't bad enough as those forests decay they will be releasing 250 million metric tons of greenhouse gases or the equivalent of five years of car and light truck emissions in Canada. Essentially, 39 million acres of British Columbian lodgepole pine forests that once sucked CO2 out of the atmosphere are now dead, decaying and bleeding CO2 into an ever-rising pool of accumulating heat-trapping gases.
The Insatiable Bark Beetle and the Northern Rockies

Climate progress had a post not long ago, asking readers to think about things that might result from climate change that we'd never thought about before. Unknown unknowns

The pine beetle was one... yes?

I watched, via streaming on Netflix, a series, Strange Days on Planet Earth 2, that explored that very thing... surprising side effects of our meddling with nature. I have been haunted by one of the features.
Europe subsidizes the fishing industry to such an extent that European fishermen can range as far as the west coast of Africa... wiping out fisheries there so that the African fishermen, with far more primitive fishing techniques, have little to catch. Fish becomes too expensive for ordinary folks so they eat more bush meat. The native mammal populations plummet. The series explains it better than I.  Dangerous Catch

So I'm trying to apply what I learned watching that program to the problem of unknown unknowns associated with our current state of climate change, resource depletion and over population.
I can't think of a single good thing coming out of all this for Earth's current residents... but I do see the possibility of a huge drop in populations... which may be very good for Earth's future residents.

Friday, October 21, 2011

World Resources Report 2010-2011

From World Resources Report 2010-2011 executive summary

I picked out what I thought were the most interesting of their Recommendations:

Governments should convey to the public the scale and range of the risks, including
known uncertainties, and expected impacts of climate change. Many members of the public will not be aware of the risks climate change poses to their livelihoods and safety. Because of this, governments should provide targeted information on the risks facing various sectors, regions, ecosystems and communities. This will help build support for activities undertaken. It will take time for officials and communities to absorb the reality of having to accept some losses, such as the inability to grow certain crop varieties, and even longer to become comfortable entertaining alternatives, such as relocation of certain communities, that will disrupt entrenched patterns of society.
Obama has disappointed many in that he even avoids using the term Climate Change.
Governments and donors should provide targeted and sustained funding delivered through fit-for-purpose mechanisms that respond to the unique challenges of climate change. Because climate change will evolve over decades, long-term financial support from governments and donors will be essential to maintain initiatives and infrastructure and to ensure a return on their investments. Fit-for-purpose mechanisms will be necessary to provide access to longer-term financial support for activities such as the continuous collection of adequate, basic weather and climate data. In addition, countries will need access to secure credit lines that can be tapped quickly for extreme events; they will also need to shift away from “hard” investments to those that build capacity, and support softer investments such as maintaining ecological climate buffers. Current donor trends towards results-based lending may not facilitate such investments. A key challenge for donors and others will be to create incentives for developing countries to integrate climate risks into decision making, so that this integration is seen as an opportunity and not merely another claim on scarce resources. It will also be necessary for donors to strengthen government capacity to implement activities, and create a clear and appropriate exit strategy to ensure government ownership.
Hey guys... don't be looking at the US to help you out. Many of our leaders won't even pay to feed hungry children here on our own soil.
Donors, governments, and the public should take steps to protect and maintain basic ecosystem processes that provide a crucial buffer for adaptation processes. Ecosystems can mitigate many natural hazards.
Well duh. Earth provides our life support system. But I think they're talking about stuff like the loss of the natural Mississippi Delta due to man's interference.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Limits to Growth – Forty More Years?

Forty years ago when I read The Limits to Growth I already believed that growth in total resource use (population times per capita resource use) would stop within the next forty years. The modeling analysis of the Meadows’ team was a strong confirmation of that common-sense belief based on first principles going back at least to Malthus and earlier classical economists.

Well it is now forty years later and economic growth is still the number one policy goal of practically all nations — that is undeniable. Growth economists say that the “neo-Malthusians” were simply wrong, and that we will keep on growing. But I think economic growth has already ended in the sense that the growth that continues is now uneconomic — it costs more than it is worth at the margin and makes us poorer rather than richer. We still call it economic growth, or simply “growth” in the confused belief that growth must always be economic. I contend that we, especially in rich countries, have reached the economic limit to growth but we don’t know it, and desperately hide the fact by faulty national accounting, because growth is our idol and to stop worshiping it is anathema.
...It is entirely conceivable that we will totally exhaust earth’s resources and life-support systems in ruinously expensive attempts to grow forever: perhaps by military conquest of other nations’ resources and of the remaining global commons; perhaps by attempted conquest of the “high frontier” of space. Many think, just because we have managed a few manned space stunts at enormous expense, that the science fiction of colonization of sidereal space is technically, economically, politically, and ethically viable. And these are the same people who tell us that a steady-state economy on earth is too difficult a task to ever accomplish.
Limits to Growth – Forty More Years?

There is no planet B

Please send this video to everyone you know. Do it now please.

Scenario for collapse

While a 2010 report by the US Joint Forces Command stated that by 2015 the global shortfall in oil production could be as great as 10 million barrels a day, the German study -- produced by the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, part of the German Ministry of Defence -- delved into much greater detail of the repercussions...

On an international level, the report warns that countries will become increasingly unable to assist other nations given the extent of their own internal problems. Thus, international institutions and relief infrastructure could seriously erode. The authors of the report warn there is a “false assumption [that] a phase of slow reduction in the amount of oil leads to an equally slow reduction in economic capacity”. They counter this assumption, stating a that a future of permanent oil decline in which the world no longer has a sufficient supply of oil to meet even rather suppressed demand could result in a quite rapid, negative chain of events. Once investors start losing confidence in any possibility of future growth, it would impact the market and potentially create a situation in which “the global economic system and every market-based economy collapse.”

The collapse of physical infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, could also result if the sum of the world’s oil is already invested in keeping people alive and protected from the elements. There are two sentences in the report that are particularly candid about the risks we face; they state: “A shrinking economy over an indeterminate period presents a highly unstable situation which inevitably leads to system collapse. The risks to security posed by such a development cannot even be estimated.” If the security risks cannot be estimated, then how can our governments prepare for the future? There is a stunning silence among many governments with respect to this issue. The fact that this German military report was leaked to the Internet is very telling. Governments do really not want us to know the gravity of the situation. But why? Perhaps they want to maintain their elective capacity and offer false hope? But then they keep selling us this elixir of perpetual growth when deep down they know that our living standards are going to get worse no matter what they or anybody else try.
The worsening oil crisis and views of a German military think tank

Emphasis mine

Since growth is not sustainable it seems to me this is inevitable

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nowhere to go.

We'll see permanent refugee camps for flood victims. Their homes are innundated every year. We may see these in the US within the next couple of decades.

At a time when climate change is putting stress on all of our resources, diseases will flourish and to add insult to injury we are heading into a post-antibiotic era as the bugs become resistant to them.
The Antibiotics Crisis (video)

So put these to things together and what do you get? People in crowded and unsantitary conditions will be vulnerable to diseases we can no longer treat. This may result in a heartbreaking mortality rate for those who have nowhere else to go.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pity or contempt

small group of demonstrators was on hand in Minneapolis today for the arrival of a global warming author and speaker. Dr. Michael Mann spoke Wednesday at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Mann is a physicist and climatologist and is best known as one of the originators of a graph of temperature trends in the past one-thousand years, known as the 'hockey stick graph."

Members of the organization, Minnesota Majority, protested Mann's Minneapolis speech calling it "fraudulent." Dan McGrath was among the roughly 10 people protesting, calling Mann "among the most guilty parties in what we call the global warming scam."
Protestors Greet Global Warming Author in Minneapolis

I would be laughing out loud if this was not so tragic. Clearly the protesters are sincere. The Rush Limbaughs of the world have brain washed them. They are victims, and worthy of compassion.

Not so the Rick Perrys of the world. They know better. For these types I feel nothing but contempt.

Texas Censors Scientists' Work Revealing Impacts of Climate Change

Revisiting Population Growth

Some analysts, ranging from scientists David Pimentel of Cornell University to financial advisor and philanthropist Jeremy Grantham, dare to underline the possibility of a darker alternative future. Defying the optimistic majority, they suggest that humanity long ago overshot a truly sustainable world population, implying that apocalyptic horsemen old and new could cause widespread death as the environment unravels. Most writers on environment and population are loathe to touch such predictions. But we should be asking, at least, whether such possibilities are real enough to temper the usual demographic confidence about future population projections.
Revisiting Population Growth:
The Impact of Ecological Limits

Let's see, water shortages, food shortages, war... all predicted with peak everything and climate change even if you are conservative.

It's too complicated to model, so we'll just run this experiment in the lab called Earth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teapot tempest

Mark Lynuas writes:
In my initial post on the myths of Easter Island I discussed the conclusions in archaeologists Carl Lipo and Terry Hunt’s new book ‘The Statues That Walked’, which demolished the idea – popularised by Jared Diamond in his book ‘Collapse’ – that Easter Island’s prehistoric society suffered some kind of ecologically-driven collapse which offers a parable for our modern-day environmental problems. Jared Diamond then sent over a robust response, which I published in full. Now Lipo and Hunt in turn respond to Diamond, which I am happy also to publish in full below.
The Easter Island ecocide never happened’ – response to Jared Diamond

Go there and read both.

This tempest in a teapot troubled me. It shows a lack of perspective in my opinion.

In 40 or 50 years people will look back on how narrowly we averted global collapse of our civilization by changing the way we see our environment. Earth is our life support system.

Or we will mourn the collapse caused by unrelenting consumption and pollution. Having exhausted our resources and pushed our climate into chaos, having suffered the resulting riots, famine, war... all that's left are pockets here and there, and they will not survive. In 10 thousand years, people like Carl Lipo and Terry Hunt will study the artifacts we left behind. Hope they find  copies of Jared's books.

Either way, the work of Jared Diamond will be relevant, prophetic even, while the work of Lipo and Hunt will satisfy academicians high in their ivory towers. There's room for both.

Monday, October 10, 2011


More on ozone holes

Earth Day 2012: Shattered Sky premieres nationwide on public TV (April 22). This film tells the story of the dramatic discovery of the ozone hole and how America led the world to a solution. Today, do we dare do the same on climate change?

There is no longer one ozone hole. We have one over the Arctic now.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

US Aging Population

Richard Jackson talked about the economic, social, geopolitical, and demographic implications of the aging of the U.S. population, and he responded to telephone calls and electronic communications. Dr. Jackson also evaluated the progress that industrialized countries worldwide are making in preparing for global aging, and particularly the old-age dependency dimension of the challenge.

Very notable, if retirement age were indexed to life expectancy in the US it would be around 72 now.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yet another potential positive feedback that we don't understand

A: Plants photosynthesize carbon, which then enters the soil via fallen leaves or root material. The fluxes between soil carbon in the form of organic matter and carbon in the atmosphere as CO2 are very large. A small change in carbon cycling can have a huge affect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and therefore a huge feedback to climate change. As an example, a ten percent change in the soil carbon flux to the atmosphere would roughly double the net CO2 input. And if soils released only 0.3 percent of their carbon stores, it would equal year 2010 fossil fuel emissions.

What will happen to soil carbon as the climate changes? A team of scientists seeks answers

Where is the tipping point? We don't know.

Climate Change and the End of Australia

I have come to Australia to see what a global-warming future holds for this most vulnerable of nations, and Mother Nature has been happy to oblige: Over the course of just a few weeks, the continent has been hit by a record heat wave, a crippling drought, bush fires, floods that swamped an area the size of France and Germany combined, even a plague of locusts. "In many ways, it is a disaster of biblical proportions," Andrew Fraser, the Queensland state treasurer, told reporters. He was talking about the floods in his region, but the sense that Australia – which maintains one of the highest per-capita carbon footprints on the planet – has summoned up the wrath of the climate gods is everywhere. "Australia is the canary in the coal mine," says David Karoly, a top climate researcher at the University of Melbourne. "What is happening in Australia now is similar to what we can expect to see in other places in the future."

Climate Change and the End of Australia By Jeff Goodell

HT Climate Reality via Facebook

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Climate Justice Imperative

We will need to pay the true cost of burning fossil fuels eventually.

Are you angry yet?

Solid waste combustion, sewage treatment, stone quarrying, marinas, and oil and coal-fired power plants have air pollution damages larger than their value added. The largest industrial contributor to external costs is coal-fired electric generation, whose damages range from 0.8 to 5.6 times value added

Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy

HT TreeHugger via twitter

The findings show that, contrary to current political mythology, coal is underregulated. On average, the harm produced by burning the coal is over twice as high as the market price of the electricity. In other words, some of the electricity production would flunk a cost-benefit analysis. This means that we’re either not using enough pollution controls or we’re just overusing coal as a fuel. Here’s a bit of a shocker: “Coal plants are responsible for more than one-fourth of GED [gross external damages] from the entire US economy.”

Accounting for The Harm of Coal

More here Coal is the enemy of the human race, mainstream economics edition

But you, I and Mother Nature pay these costs, while Big Coal pockets profits. Are you angry yet?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Geologist sounds alarm at appetite for resources

The United States and the rest of the world will face more daunting challenges than just finding cheap gas for our cars, according to geologist Vince Matthews.

Oil is just one of many natural resources the world is depleting in what has become a mad scramble not just for energy sources, but many critical minerals and metals, said Matthews, a UGA graduate who is now Colorado's state geologist.
The global scramble for resources is even pushing up food prices as the price of fertilizer goes through the roof, he said.

Combined with the United States' massive debt problems, the intensifying competition for resources spell an uncertain future for Americans in the next few years, Matthews said.

"If you think we're going to convert from fossil fuel to renewables in a short period of time -- it's just not going to happen," he said.

"I'm not really worried about 20 or 30 years from now, because we'll muddle through things. But for the next decade, we're not prepared," he said

Geologist sounds alarm at appetite for resources

Interesting! I never looked at it that way... that we'd suffer for a few years but then muddle through... and things would get better. We've been muddling through, though, for some time, and things are not getting better in my opinion.

Skin cancer anyone?

Yet another downside to climate change.

Global warming is implicated in the loss of Arctic ozone because greenhouse gases trap energy lower down, heating up the atmosphere nearer the ground but cooling the stratosphere, creating conditions conducive to the formation of the reactive chemicals that break apart the three-oxygen molecules of ozone

Earth's First Arctic Ozone Hole Recorded

Friday, September 30, 2011

Trial tests whether 'ecocide' could join genocide as global crime

It's a grim list: genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression (such as unprovoked invasions) and war crimes. All are recognised by the UN as crimes against peace and prosecuted through the international criminal court.

But should the bosses of polluting companies and the leaders of environmentally-unfriendly states join those responsible for mass murder in the dock. They could if a fifth crime against peace - ecocide - joined that list of human evils? The United Nations is now considering the proposal and the first test of how a prosecution for ecocide would work takes place on Friday, with fossil fuel bosses in the dock at the UK supreme court in London. It is a mock trial of course, but with real top-flight lawyers and judges and a jury made up of members of the public. The corporate CEOs will be played by actors briefed by their legal teams.

Trial tests whether 'ecocide' could join genocide as global crime

Hell yes it should be a crime! It's not as if humans can survive without our environment... so even if you're in the exploitation business, it's in your best interests to leave the our life support systems intact.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Goldman Sachs rules the world

Nieman Watchdog has a very good piece by John Hanrahan about press coverage of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Coverage was initially dismissive and minimal — and mea culpa, I wasn’t paying attention myself. But it’s becoming clear that there’s something important happening: finally, after three years in which Very Serious People refused to hold the financial industry accountable, there’s a real grass-roots uprising against the Masters of the Universe

Unsavvy People- Paul Krugman

Paul Ehrlich on Surviving the Population Bomb: Sea Change Radio 5-17-11

My friends and I agree that collapse began with Reagan.

James Howard Kunstler: Sea Change Radio 7-26-11

Third Industrial Revolution

Rampant unemployment, rising food prices, a collapsed housing market, ballooning debt -- to Jeremy Rifkin, the American economist and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, these are not simply symptoms of a temporary economic malaise. Rather, they are signs that the current world order -- long infused with and defined by fossil fuels -- is collapsing around us
The Third Industrial Revolution will move apace over the next several decades, probably peaking around 2050, and plateau in the second half of the 21st century. Already, in the shadow of its ascending bell curve, we can see a new economic era that will take us beyond the industrious mode that characterized the last two centuries of economic development and into a collaborative way of life. The metamorphosis from an industrial to a collaborative revolution represents one of the great turning points in economic history.
Jeremy Rifkin: The 'Democratization Of Energy' Will Change Everything

The The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World

We need a revolution for sure. I am afraid I do not share his optimism.

I feel we need a WWIII. The enemy: fossil fuels. There May Be Blood.

Everything is connected. The ongoing collapse may prevent a gentle transition away from fossil fuels. Of course the the deniers are blocking the exits of a crowded theater (Earth) that's really aflame.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

This guy is often over the top, but he says lots of stuff worth thinking about.

Total BS about Fukushima in above video

The radioactive fallout from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant accident has spread as far as California waters, according to scientists from the University of California, Berkeley.

But although the level of radioactivity in the water was higher than normal, they said, it was still very low and not harmful to humans.

“The levels of fallout we have observed in San Francisco Bay area rain water pose[d] no health risk to the public,” wrote the study authors, led by Eric B. Norman of UC Berkeley’s Department of Nuclear Engineering.
Fukushima Fallout in California Waters: A Threat?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Just when I needed you most

Senate Democrats were successful the second time around Tuesday, narrowly advancing a $7 billion disaster aid package that Republicans blocked a day earlier.

On a 61-38 vote, all 53 Democrats and eight Republicans from disaster-afflicted states agreed to move forward on legislation that would help areas of the country hit by Hurricane Irene and recent tornadoes, flooding and wildfires. Sixty votes were needed.

Republicans who cast an “aye” vote were Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri; Scott Brown of Massachusetts; John Hoeven of North Dakota; Dean Heller of Nevada; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; David Vitter of Louisiana; and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine. In Monday’s failed 53-33 vote, Toomey had voted no, while Sen. Dan Coats of (R-Ind.) had voted yes.

The legislation actually is a noncontroversial bill to reauthorize sanctions against Burma, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has indicated he will use it as a vehicle for his stand-alone disaster bill and wrap up work on it by week’s end.

Senate Republicans, who have objected to the bill’s price tag and the fact that it doesn’t include an equal amount of savings, have said they’ll back a separate, smaller disaster bill that the GOP-led House plans to attach to legislation needed to avert a partial government shutdown by Oct. 1.

Tuesday’s Senate vote came after Reid hammered Republicans for holding up funding that would replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s nearly exhausted disaster relief fund. This year alone, President Barack Obama has declared emergencies in all but two states in the country, Michigan and West Virginia, Reid said.

“To say now it’s not the time to turn to it is really not fair," Reid said. “We need the money now.”

Senate Dems finally move disaster aid

HT Think Progress via twitter

And eventually we will run out of money...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

State of the World

Only one of the graphics in a comment by aangle over at TOD which is totally worth a read. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Friday, September 9, 2011

All my life

All my life my cohort has been under some existential cloud or another. It was the communists, it was the USSR, it was nuclear war, the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was DDT and silent spring, it was mercury in the fish, it was the population bomb or acid rain, the ozone hole, AIDS, and on and on and on.

None of those things materialized in a catastrophic fashion. We muddled through. We put a band-aid on it.

This time I think we're in for it. The band-aids were temporary, we failed to "get it". We're looking at less than half of the warming that is already in the pipe. You don't believe we are having a record La Nina do you? Nobody is saying the La Nina is that extreme... but  record rainfall, record drought... and Katia may hammer Europe... this is different. I'm an old woman. I have memories, and I know this is different than anything I have ever seen.

We need to hope that the weather catastrophes settle down  long enough for us to get a handle on the emissions issues. Otherwise we're looking at a domino effect. No money to fix stuff  because the economy can't grow... due to, among other things, climate disasters. Stuff stays broke... civilization degrades. You get the picture.

All my life, and the lives of my generation, we've been under some threat or another... duck and cover.

This time it's for real. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Peak Oil, Peak Debt, and the Concentration of Power

When theorists approach the peak oil problem from the perspective of finding a substitute that will allow us to maintain our present energy infrastructure, their conclusion is one of despair. There may be many substitutes for oil as a concentrated form of storable energy, but none of them are nearly as good as oil itself. Those invested in the status quo would, quite understandably, like to maintain it, but it is becoming apparent even to the most highly invested that the status quo is doomed; that it can be maintained only temporarily, and at a rapidly accelerating environmental cost. The transition before us is not merely a transition in fuel types. It is also a transition in the whole energy infrastructure, both physical and psychological; a transition away from big power plants, distribution lines, and metered consumers; away from capital-intensive drilling, refining, distribution, and consumer fueling stations. More broadly, it is a transition away from centralization, concentration, and all the social institutions that go along with it

Peak Oil, Peak Debt, and the Concentration of Power

Go read the whole thing.

A Farm for the Future

HT Peaktweat via twitter

Climate report links extreme weather events to global warming

"Greenhouse gases are the steroids of weather," says climate projection expert Jerry Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, at a briefing held by the report's expert reviewers. "Small increases in temperature set the stage for record breaking extreme temperature events." Overall, says the report, higher temperatures tied to global warming, about a one-degree global average temperature rise in the last century, have widely contributed to recent runs of horrible weather:

•In 1950, record breaking hot weather days were as likely as cold ones. By 2000, they were twice as likely, and in 2011 they are three times more likely, so far. By the end of the century they will be 50 times more likely, Meehl says.
•With global warming's higher temperatures packing about 4% more water into the atmosphere, total average snow and rainfall has increased by about 7% in the past century, says the study. The amount of rain falling in the heaviest 1% of cloudbursts has increased 20%, leading to more flooding.
•Early snow melt, and more rain rather than snow, has led to water cycle changes in the western U.S. in river flow, winter air temperature, and snow pack from 1950 to 1999. The effects are up to 60% attributable to human influence.

Climate report links extreme weather events to global warming

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


NEW SEASON! FOUR DEGREES OR MORE Disturbing speech by world's most influential climate scientist Dr. Hans Joachim ("John") Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute. Given July 12th to "Four Degrees of More" climate conference in Australia. The same warnings he delivered personally to Heads of State and Ministers, including China, Europe & the White House. We are headed over the climate cliff. New science you have not heard, and must hear. Ecoshock 110831 14 MB 1 hour.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Global Roundtable: The Future of Economic Competition

Without mentioning the coming resource shortages this roundtable has limited value in terms of seeing the future.
But they do discuss interesting stuff.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


HT David Roberts over at Grist and Treehugger: A Dialogue Economic Growth's Great Dilemma

New Normal

In the United States so far this year, families and communities have been slammed with 10 weather disasters costing $1 billion or more. Damages from floods, fires, tornadoes and drought totaled $35 billion as summer ended, not counting Hurricane Irene and whatever other destructive tantrums Mother Nature throws between now and Dec. 31.

These huge costs have big implications for local and national budgets, many of them disasters in their own right. That should concern fiscal conservatives and taxpayers, as well as disaster victims who may find someday soon that the government does not have the capacity to help.

Can We Handle Nature's New Norm? Part 1

And the GOP rant that we're broke, as if we haven't been borrowing to pay the bills since Bush took office. We need smart voters that call these guys on their relentless, politically motivated dogma... by not voting for them.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Climate change and infrastructure

In the winter of 1992, a nor'easter sent a storm surge over the floodwall guarding the southern tip of Manhattan. Seawater quickly overwhelmed major roadways and New York City's subway system, shutting down the entire subway for nearly 10 days

"If Hurricane Irene had hit an hour differently or 10 percent stronger or moved 10 percent slower, it would have caused a repeat of that event," Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with the leading forecasting service Weather Underground, told The Huffington Post.

Masters and other experts warn that the city may not be as lucky next time. As the warming climate brings higher rainfall and raises the sea level, they say, ever more pressure will fall on America's aging infrastructure.
Nationwide, dilapidated infrastructure leads to a variety of other problems. Some 240,000 water main breaks are documented annually, at a loss of approximately 6 billion gallons of water per day, according to the Urban Land Institute's Infrastructure 2010 report.

Hurricane Irene Exposes Creaky American Infrastructure

"Rising temperatures may trigger weather extremes and surprises, such as more rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice than projected," Schwartz said. "The highways that currently serve as evacuation routes and endure periodic flooding could be compromised with strong hurricanes and more intense precipitation, making some of these routes impassable." Transportation providers will need to focus on evacuation planning and work more closely with weather forecasters and emergency planners.

Climate Change Will Have a Significant Impact on Transportation Infrastructure and Operations; Research, Tools, Action Needed to Pinpoint Vulnerabilities

More than 200 roads and bridges are damaged or destroyed in Vermont
At least 27 people from nine states are dead
Swaths of the Northeast still submerged under water face a grueling recovery as hundreds of homes remain clogged with mud and crushed roads isolate deluged communities

More than a day after Irene left the United States, floodwaters were still cresting late Monday night in Vermont.

Communities Cut Off - Vermont

Monday, August 29, 2011

Krugman: Republicans Against Science

But never mind that, Mr. Perry suggests; those scientists are just in it for the money, “manipulating data” to create a fake threat. In his book “Fed Up,” he dismissed climate science as a “contrived phony mess that is falling apart.”

I could point out that Mr. Perry is buying into a truly crazy conspiracy theory, which asserts that thousands of scientists all around the world are on the take, with not one willing to break the code of silence. I could also point out that multiple investigations into charges of intellectual malpractice on the part of climate scientists have ended up exonerating the accused researchers of all accusations. But never mind: Mr. Perry and those who think like him know what they want to believe, and their response to anyone who contradicts them is to start a witch hunt.

Republicans Against Science

How the West Has Won

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Peak Oil Blues - We're All Bozos on this Bus

The thing about peak oil is that the downward slope is gentle... we'll have time to adapt.
But climate change is occurring in a very abrupt manner if the last 5 years is any indication. We will be scrambling to protect infrastructure from extreme weather and sea level rise.
And we will need to adapt to both of these, along with dozens of other resource peaks at the same time. A lot of balls in the air.

Add a stubborn global recession to the mix, a recession that may be a permanent condition because there is nothing to fuel economic growth, and we've got all the ingredients that could lead to the collapse of civilization as we know it.

We've got a decade or two at most, in my opinion... but when voters nominate and elect people who are hostile to science, the chances that the government (US) will address these issues is nil.