Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Food prices- again

The prices of staple foods, which have already reached record levels in 2011, could more than double over the next two decades, a new Oxfam report says. According to the report, Growing a Better Future, a combination of factors — including climate change, diminished natural resources worldwide, population growth, and an increased use of crops for biofuels — could trigger a new era of permanent food crisis.

Staple Food Prices Could More than Double by 2030, Oxfam Says

Growth is not sustainable

Off the Pedestal: Creating a New Vision of Economic Growth
by james gustave speth
The idea of economic growth as an unquestioned force for good is ingrained in the American psyche. But a longtime environmental leader argues it’s time for the U.S. to reinvent its economy into one that focuses on sustaining communities, family life, and the natural world.


“Within this century, environmental and resource constraints will likely bring global economic growth to a halt…,” Canadian political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon wrote in Foreign Policy earlier this year. “We can’t live with growth, and we can’t live without it. This contradiction is humankind’s biggest challenge this century, but as long as conventional wisdom holds that growth can continue forever, it’s a challenge we can’t possibly address.”
So there we have it: the traditional solution that America has invoked for nearly every problem — more growth — is in big trouble. If we are going to move beyond growth, we will need to build a different kind of economy. We Americans need to reinvent our economy, not merely restore it. We will have to shift to a new economy, a sustaining economy based on new economic thinking and driven forward by a new politics. Sustaining people, communities and nature must henceforth be seen as the core goals of economic activity, not hoped for by-products of market success, growth for its own sake, and modest regulation. That is the paradigm shift we must now begin to pursue and promote.

Read the whole thing:
Off the Pedestal: Creating a New Vision of Economic Growth

Monday, May 30, 2011

The State of Climate Science

We're insulting the environment faster than we can understand it.

This is a couple years old, when the deniers were still thinking they had something with the so-called climate gate emails. How embarassing for them. You will want to fast forward past that maybe.

Some deniers think they can legislate the laws of physics LOL.
Some think cutting down the rain forests is a good idea. LOL LOL

Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rain forests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases? Or would people be supportive of cutting down older trees in order to plant younger trees as a means to prevent this disaster from happening?

– Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), questioning a climate change scientist and demonstrating to the world that he does not know that trees capture carbon emissions. He really deserves his position on the House Committee on Science, huh

Political quote of the day

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years'

A study into the speed at which the permafrost is melting suggests that the tipping point will occur between 2020 and 2030 and will mark the point at which the Arctic turns from being a net "sink" for carbon dioxide into an overall source that will accelerate global warming, they said.

Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years'

HT WarmingGlobe via twitter

Why Time Is Short Now That We're Past Peak Oil

With so much going on with Europe's debt crisis, the continuing disaster and economic contraction in Japan, and the potential for a very hard landing in the Chinese growth miracle (which is in the running as my favorite "black swan candidate" for 2011), I am going to return our attention to oil in this report. The next report will assess the developing and unfolding debt crisis that will drag down most of the developed economies at some point, and this report will provide essential context for understanding why this result is inevitable and when it will occur.

The Next Oil Shock


The reality involved in getting at the non-conventional oil is really just a story of declining net energy; the red curtain will extend down into the luscious green space that represents the surplus energy available to society. Less net energy means less economic activity and complexity. It means less growth. Below a certain level, it means no growth at all. And eventually it means persistent negative growth, a possibility not yet priced into any financial markets.
(Emphasis mine) Go read the whole thing:

Why Time Is Short Now That We're Past Peak Oil

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-time-is-short-now-that-were-past-peak-oil-2011-5#ixzz1Nlo7k3Rs


Paul Krugman writes (in his blog The Conscience of a Liberal):
Third Depression Watch

Last year I warned that we seemed to be heading into the “Third Depression” — by which I meant a prolonged period of economic weakness:

Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline — on the contrary, both included periods when the economy grew. But these episodes of improvement were never enough to undo the damage from the initial slump, and were followed by relapses.

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

Brad DeLong points us to Macro Advisers, which has now downgraded its estimates for second-quarter growth. As Brad says, these estimates now suggest that we have now gone through a year and a half of “recovery” that has failed to make any progress toward closing the gap between what the economy should be producing and what it’s actually producing.

And nobody in power cares!

Third Depression Watch

So here we are in the critical decade, broke and in debt. How are we going to cope?

Pay now, Pay Later

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Peak coffee: A cup of trouble

Largely because of the weather, Colombia’s production has fallen to 9.5 million 60-kilogram bags last year from 12 million bags in 2007, the last year before the particularly nasty version of the weather pattern known as La Nina brought the rain.

At the same time, many farmers are encouraged to move out of coffee production as other agricultural products – from plantain in Colombia, to sugar cane in Brazil – soar in price, and land costs rise.

Colombia’s production troubles are shared by other coffee-making countries, including Brazil. Production in Central America and East Africa has been stagnant or down in the past few years, while global demand keeps growing at a rate of about 2.5 per cent a year.

Agricultural experts are warning that the ability of growers to respond to higher prices by increasing supply will be limited by the continuation of poor growing conditions resulting from changing weather patterns and by competition for land use in exporting countries that could limit coffee production.

Growers need to be prepared to adapt to climate change, said Peter Baker, a senior scientist with CABI, a British agricultural institute.

“Is it climate change or not?” Mr. Baker asked of the changing weather patterns. “It’s extremely difficult to say but this is exactly what you would expect to happen: That we’re going to get more extremes in the weather like this.”

Peak coffee: A cup of trouble

Global Warming: The Population Connection

Dr. Joseph Bookstein argues that the real cause of global warming is not the burning of fossil fuels but rather the needs and wants of the global human population, now over 6.6 billion. He discusses methods, feasibility, and implementation strategies for voluntary population reduction. Series: Frontiers of Knowledge [8/2008] [Science]

Twisted logic: What tornadoes don’t have to do with global warming

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Friday, May 27, 2011


CLIMATE, WEALTH, & ENERGY University of Utah Physics Professor Dr. Tim Garrett explains why fossil-based wealth leads to both hyper-inflation and a ruined climate. From peer-reviewed paper in Journal "Climatic Change". Only a sudden economic collapse could save us from 5 degrees Celsius global temperature rise by 2100. And we'll get over 100% inflation. One of the most important interviews of the year. From Radio Ecoshock 101119 - 24 minutes.

Listen here at Radio Ecoshock

Food prices

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Bill McKibben: Devastating Extreme Weather is Linked to Human Caused-Climate Change (Democracy Now!)

The critical decade... may have been the '90s :(

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bill McKibben Speaking at Power Shift 2011

Almost enough to inspire hope.

And it just keeps coming

(CNN) -- Severe weather rampaged across the U.S. heartland, claiming at least 10 lives across Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma, in what has already become a historic spring storm season.

Deadly tornadoes churn across Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas

It's La Nina, they say. We can't blame Global Warming, they say. Why? Because our models aren't good enough. We don't know enough to pin this on climate change. But sheesh, let's use some common sense here! This is climate change, happening before our eyes.

Bill McKibben says it well:

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.

A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never!
By Bill McKibben, Published: May 23

HT Climate Progress

Monday, May 23, 2011

Paul Nicklen: Tales of ice-bound wonderlands

Anthony Giddens: The Mistakes about Green Growth

Renowned Sociologist Lord Anthony Giddens, known for his seminal work on Climate Change, cautions that the way towards green growth is obstructed by the lack of understanding of mechanisms behind it. ”At lot of mistakes are being made at the moment by the people speaking about green growth”, he says, pointing out four areas of inadequacy or mistakes.

Giddens argues that we do not really know that what a low-carbon economy will be like. According to him, our current understanding of such an economy lays too much emphasis on technology and we need to invest more in political, social and economic innovation.

Giddens' speech was the keynote address at Northern Europe's biggest annual clean tech event, World Climate Solutions 2010. The conference and exposition was arranged by Scandinavian think tank Monday Morning and NIDAB Networking.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Capitalism in an Era of Climate Change (4/12/11)

Locavore etc.

Nice new Farmer's Market behind Coco's on Edinger (in HB).
I also notice the local mega marts brag "California grown" for some of their produce.
Expect better labeling about where the produce was grown in the future.

I buy cage free eggs, but it appears the local farms keep the chickens in cages (but bigger cages than they used to be).
I thought this was interesting:

United Egg Producers Invite Mom and Daughter Into the Hen House
There's more at this site. See for yourself how those eggs get into the carton.

Eventually, as gas prices go higher and higher, folks in the Northeast will pay through the nose for citrus. Folks in the Southwest will pay an arm and a leg for good apples, or any other produce that needs a cold winter. Bread, and other products using wheat/corn etc. will reflect the increasing frequency of crop failures.

We hope to have a greenhouse where a couple of dwarf citrus will thrive, and perhaps even an avocado (Haas!).

I'm still torn about cows. Lots of work, but having a couple of cows would really really make us more independent of the grocery store in days to come, as crops fail due to drought and flood, and the cost of transport goes through the roof.

I have been bending my mind around the whens of all this. The hows are pretty obvious.

We have reason for optimism given California and other states taking the lead where our federal government failed. I am not sure whether China's green commitments are green or green wash. Time will tell.
Europe is doing all the right things.
But, and it's a very big but, things are happening far sooner than predicted! What civilization is doing to save itself very well may be too little too late.
I give us a 50% chance of turning it around by 2050. What chaos and misery we'll experience between now and then may shock even the pessimists. I predict a nasty decade in  the '20s... with signs of collapse or survival appearing in the '30s.

Some really interesting technologies are being explored. If any of those turn out to be magic bullets, then, maybe, we can all breath a sigh of relief, provided the technology isn't buried.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Need to Know

Need to Know, May 20, 2011: Climate change and tropical disease, Upper Big Branch mine disaster, Stuxnet

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

One of my favorite programs

It's not enough

As it stands, economic growth is largely dependent on resource consumption. As a country grows, so does its use of natural--and limited--high-quality resources like oil, gold, and copper. But this is untenable in the long run, especially as growing countries like India and China model themselves increasingly on American habits of consumption (a car, two cell phones, and 30 pounds of meat for all!). The seemingly impossible solution: separating resource use and environmental impact from economic growth--a process with the unfortunate moniker "decoupling."
The bottom line: This decoupling needs to begin on a large scale, and fast. The report notes that we're already having a hard time finding high-quality copper and gold, and peak oil is coming--if it hasn't already. We've seen the beginnings of this in the energy industry (giant solar installations in the desert, large-scale offshore wind turbine projects, etc.) and in the vehicle industry, but it's not enough. Without major changes, today's economic woes are going to seem like a joke. But not a very funny one.

Do More With Less Or Things Will Get Ugly: Study

Thursday, May 19, 2011


The Finalists for the 2011 GLOBE Awards For Environmental Excellence are:

The Award for Corporate Environmental Excellence
  • Canadian Tire Corp.
  • Frito Lay Canada
  • Walmart Canada

The Award for Technology Innovation and Application
  • AbitibiBowater
  • Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc.
  • Trojan Technologies

The Award for Excellence in Urban Sustainability
  • BC Housing Management Commission
  • The City of Calgary Fire Department
  • Vancouver Convention Centre

The Award for Best Green Consumer Product
Tetra Pak Canada Inc.

The Award for Best Green Retailing Practices
  • RONA
  • The Beer Store
  • Walmart Canada


via Justmeans on twitter

New Normal

The city of Chicago's cost of dealing with extreme weather events through the end of this century has been conservatively estimated in a range from $690 million to $2.5 billion, Durnbaugh said, with the cost to homeowners and local businesses expected to be far higher.

Floods, Droughts Are 'New Normal' Of Extreme U.S. Weather Fueled By Climate Change, Scientists Say

A neglected infrastructure, climate change, peak oil and massive debt. Could it get any worse?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Peak Oil redux

A Former BP Exec Explains Why Peak Oil Is Real [PRESENTATION]
Now for some harsh realities...

You'll see the evidence not only in cost per gallon of gas, but cost of food, and everything else. We will be forced to eat food grown locally because of the cost. That is not a bad thing.

Friday, May 13, 2011

To Live or Not to Live | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine

To Live or Not to Live | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine

Epic, Historic, Record Breaking...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It's here, now... and much worse than predicted. When will congress act?


“The risks associated with doing business as usual are a much greater concern than the risks associated with engaging in ambitious but measured response efforts,” the report concludes. “This is because many aspects of an ‘overly ambitious’ policy response could be reversed or otherwise addressed, if needed, through subsequent policy change, whereas adverse changes in the climate system are much more difficult (indeed, on the time scale of our lifetimes, may be impossible) to ‘undo.’ ”

Big Oil representative Barton:
But Representative Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas, who has been leading the charge against further regulating carbon emissions, swiftly dismissed the council’s findings in an interview Thursday. “I see nothing substantive in this report that adds to the knowledge base necessary to make an informed decision about what steps — if any — should be taken to address climate change,” Mr. Barton said.

.Scientists’ Report Stresses Urgency of Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Can you see a pattern?

No embed... but words like "unprecedented", "record high" are sprinkled liberally in the dialog.

Mississippi River reaches record levels


The May 2010 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.[2]

2010 Tennessee floods

The June 2008 Midwestern United States floods were flooding events which affected portions of the Midwest United States. After months of heavy precipitation, a number of rivers overflowed their banks for several weeks at a time and broke through levees at numerous locations. Flooding continued into July. States affected by the flooding included Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The American Red Cross assisted the victims of flooding and tornadoes across seven states and the National Guard was mobilized to assist in disaster relief and evacuation.

June 2008 Midwest floods

The Great Flood of 1993 occurred in the American Midwest, along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries, from April to October 1993. The flood was among the most costly and devastating to ever occur in the United States, with $15 billion in damages. The hydrographic basin affected cover around 745 miles (1200 km) in length and 435 miles (700 km) in width, totaling about 320,000 square miles (840,000 km²).[1] Within this zone, the flooded area totaled around 30,000 square miles (80,000 km²)[2] and was the worst such U.S. disaster since the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, as measured by duration, square miles inundated, persons displaced, crop and property damage, and number of record river levels. In some categories, the 1993 flood even surpassed the 1927 flood, at the time the largest flood ever recorded on the Mississippi.

Great Flood of 1993

The flood began when heavy rains pounded the central basin of the Mississippi in the summer of 1926. By September, the Mississippi's tributaries in Kansas and Iowa were swollen to capacity. On New Year's Day of 1927, the Cumberland River at Nashville topped levees at 56.2 feet (17 m), a level that remains a record to this day, even exceeding the devastating 2010 floods.

Great Mississippi Flood of 1927

Although the extreme river flows that led to the 1927 flood are rare events, research suggests that climate change and global warming are already increasing the potential for exceptional flows on great river basins such as the Mississippi. RMS said. This has an impact on how flood risk should be managed and how levees need to be maintained and strengthened.

Study: 1927 Mississippi Flood Would Cost Up To $160 Billion
May 18, 2007

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Climate Show

Health effects of climate change and CO2

Four interviews. Harvard's Dr. Paul Epstein is world advisor on impacts of climate change on health. What's coming, what we can do to adapt. Speech clip Dr. Tim Takaro - malaria coming North. Guest former New York Times environmental journalist Andy Revkin on balance in the storm. "Service Learning" gets kids into the community, with teacher Katy Farber. Captain Charles Sylan on fixing green education. Ecoshock 110506 1 hour 14 MB


I know I am having allergies I never had before!

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon Capture, Storage Validation Project at AEP's Mountaineer Plant Succeeds

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Harvard professor Daniel Schrag talks at URI on Climate Change

Makes clear why scientists predictions are so conservative:

Note it's a year old... and events have already overtaken many predictions!

Economic Growth and Human Wellbeing

It is obvious that there are two main omissions from the models and theories of growth in neoclassical economics: the planet and the human families and communities which live within it. These models neglect the fact that the human economy is embedded in the biosphere which consists of living things, the products of living things and the necessary resources and conditions for living things to survive and thrive. When they are considered at all, such resources tend to be viewed as infinite; energy economist Adelman, writing in 1993 said, “minerals are inexhaustible and will never be depleted” (p xi).
All this matters because adopting growth as the pre-eminent social and economic goal and using the GDP as its index fixes the direction and content of national policy; if we continue to ignore the shortcomings of both the goal and the measure, policies will head us in the wrong direction, diminishing people’s quality of life and destroying the natural environment on which it depends.

Economic Growth and Human Wellbeing (Part I)

HT Skeptical Science via Facebook

I have watched this video over and over, and it's worth it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Ugly truth

As a general rule, it simply isn’t possible to pass legislation where the many benefit but a few entrenched special interests lose out. There are exceptions, of course, but they tend to be extremely hard-fought (think the healthcare and Wall Street reform bills) and unique in many ways. What you really need, when it comes to climate change, is a powerful constituency which would benefit from a bill. And since the largest beneficiaries haven’t even been born yet, let alone started making campaign donations, we’re not about to find one.

The depressing politics of climate change

Power Surge- NOVA

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

This is a hopeful view.

Oceans could rise 1.6 metres by 2100: study

PARIS — Warming in the Arctic occurring at twice the global average is on track to lift sea levels by up to 1.6 metres (5.3 feet) by 2100, a far steeper jump than predicted a few years ago, a consortium of scientists reported Tuesday.

Melting ice and snow has accounted for 40 percent of recent increases in ocean levels and are likely to play an even larger role in future, according to the Oslo-based Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Project (AMAP).

"Global sea level is projected to rise 0.9 to 1.6 metres (3.0 to 5.3 feet) by 2100, and the loss from Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet will make a substantial contribution to this," AMAP said in a report.
The study identified eight of these so-called natural "feedback mechanisms" that have become both symptom and cause of climate change.

Rising average temperatures, for example, threaten to unlock long-frozen stores of carbon dioxide and methane -- at least 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2 -- from the region's permafrost.

"The amount of carbon that is locked up in permafrost is equivalent to what is in the atmosphere today," said Serreze. "The question is how much of it is going be released."

Oceans could rise 1.6 metres by 2100: study

I toggle between hope and dispair!