Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Moving By Degrees - The Future Energy Abyss

Moving By Degrees - The Future Energy Abyss from Sustainability @ ASU on Vimeo.

The guy is wrong about peak oil, although he's including tar sands and such I believe.

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.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keiser Report: Crimogenic UK (E174)

There's a lot I don't understand.

A Planetary Crisis Is A Terrible Thing to Waste

But our current system of managing our environmental household is all about designing bad loan schemes to defraud nature’s central bank and passing on the debt to future generations. In order to exploit the natural world, we have rigged accounting rules and ignored the financial and ecological value of intact ecosystems, biological diversity, clean water, and many other forms of the planet’s natural capital. This has actually worked for some decades and created Western wealth as we know it.

But the Ponzi scheme of hyper-consumerism is approaching the equivalent of the Lehman collapse in 2008. Ecologists tell us that humans are consuming natural resources at a scale and speed that 1.3 planet Earths would be needed to sustain it, and that it would take four to five planets if all the Earth’s 7 billion people wanted to live like the West. With more ecological problems building up, it’s time to pay the bills ourselves, rather than fobbing them off on children.

A Planetary Crisis Is A Terrible Thing to Waste

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What grows forever?

The universe may grow forever. But that's the only thing.

Oil Limits, Recession, and Bumping Against the Growth Ceiling
The issues we are confronted with today seem to be a subset of the issues foretold in the book Limits to Growth back in 1972. At some point, the economy cannot continue to grow as rapidly as it did in the past. It appears to me that the most immediate limit we are hitting today is inadequate low-priced oil, but there are other limits lurking not far away–inadequate fresh water and excessive pollution, for example. When the economy cannot grow as fast, or actually starts declining, recession sets in. Governments start having debt problems. Financial markets start behaving strangely.
Read the rest

More from Gail Tverberg

There is No Steady State Economy (except at a very basic level)

We keep seeing statements from the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy suggesting that a steady state economy is desirable. I would agree that growth in a finite world is not sustainable, but even continuation of our current level economic level, or a drop to an economic level two or three levels below that where we are today, is not sustainable.

We are consuming a huge amount of fossil fuels, and to maintain anything close to our current economic state, we would need to continue to consume a very large amount of fossil fuels. If a person stops and thinks about it, no level of fossil fuel extraction is sustainable, because we only have a finite amount of fossil fuels. At best, we would be talking about stair-stepping extraction–reducing it to a lower level than today, and holding it there for a while.
read the rest

Monday, August 15, 2011

Main Stream Media

How much will warming raise seas? Greenland ice is key

Freely mentions climate change

But then CNN fails to mention Climate Change at all here:

Flooding hits Baltimore a day after record-breaking rain in New York

And as heat and flood overwhelm the infrastructure, CNN wades in a bit:

Get ready for more of the same, environmentalists say. Shifting climate change in the coming decades, they warn, will probably bring more droughts, record high temperatures and other weather conditions that will damage water infrastructure.
Heat pops pipes nationwide; brace for higher bills

Hey, CNN, it isn't environmentalists that are saying this, it's climate scientists!

And the infrastructure is another of those cans politicians have been kicking down the road... and it's the voters' fault.

Crop Yield Raises Risk to Food Cost

Consumers can expect to see a jump in prices for pasta, meat, vegetable oil and many other grocery items in the coming months as a pair of new government reports forecast on Thursday that a brutal mixture of heat, drought or flooding has taken a toll on the corn, soybeans and wheat grown on American farms.
Crop Yield Raises Risk to Food Cost

HT Climate Reality via twitter

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


OIL & COAL - HOW MUCH LEFT? Geoscientist David Hughes, from Association for the Study of Peak Oil, Fellow Post Carbon Institute. Speech to Transition Toronto 110203. Expert analysis for North America and the world. Facts that determine our future. Song "Even If The End Is Near" Evan Greer. Radio Ecoshock 110720 1 hour
Listen here

Alex Steffen: The shareable future of cities

"Steal the future, selling it now and calling it GDP"

HT Prokaryotes at Climate Progress

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gloom and Doom


As you can see, theoretically, our government should be able to exert enough control over our fiat monetary system to avert any form of deflationary period. However, due to the fact that our government is not the only actor within our economic system, this “theory” is an unworkable one in reality.

In reality, we have been on the periphery of “The Perfect Storm” for the last several years. We are now heading right into the eye of the storm. The casualties of this storm will be a significant amount of the public’s investment and bank accounts. The effects of this storm will potential change the psyche of the public for several generations to come. We are heading into the heart of a storm from which the government will not be able to rescue us. And, when it is too late, the government will only cause more problems, as governments usually do.
The Perfect Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Monetary Confidence Game
HT Sustainable Earth
via twitter

Bleak Prospects Paul Krugman

Unanticipated consequences

Marijn Dekkers said Bayer could 'consider relocating its production' in the wake of Germany's move away from nuclear. Photograph: Oliver Berg/EPA

Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power after the Fukushima catastrophe in Japan could lead to some of the country's major companies relocating elsewhere in search of cheaper energy.

Marijn Dekkers, head of Bayer, the pharmaceuticals group, said: "It is important that we remain competitive compared with other countries. Otherwise, a global company like Bayer will have to consider relocating its production to countries with lower energy costs."

Bayer threatens to quit Germany over nuclear shutdown


So here is a huge incentive for developing nations to keep building coal power plants to attract business and therefore jobs! And this horrible unanticipated consequence has been brought to you by people who call themselves Environmentalists, whose knee jerk reaction to nuclear power was burned in in the '70s and has not been revisited since, which results in some hasty and ill conceived decision making.


How much warming would be needed for there to be significant effects on ecosystems and for a significant amount of greenhouse gasses to be released and affect the carbon cycle?

We’re seeing significant amount of thaw already, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. The areas of thawing permafrost are increasing and the southernmost boundaries between continuous and discontinuous permafrost are moving northward as well as the southernmost boundaries of discontinuous permafrost.

As far as ecosystems are concerned, we’ve been seeing a change in hydrology, which has a significant impact on ecosystems locally. The availability of water to a given ecosystem is a major factor that determines which flora and fauna can live there. Depending on the soil, topography, and drainage conditions, the soil can either become waterlogged as the permafrost thaws, or the soil can dry out as the water above the thawing permafrost drains away. We’ve seen both situations happening already: boreal forests are either turning into bogs, swamps or wetlands when there’s too much water (for example in the Tanana Flats near Fairbanks, Alaska), or they are turning into grasslands or steppe-like ecosystems when conditions become too dry (examples can be found in Mongolia or in East Siberia).

As for effects on the carbon cycle and the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, we’re already seeing significant impacts from this. Several groups of scientists have been having a look at this (including papers by Ted Schuur et al which was published in 2009, as well as papers by Sergey Zimov and Katie Walter), and we have evidence that thawing permafrost is releasing at least carbon dioxide and possibly also methane to the atmosphere. We’re seeing this even with the very moderate degradation of permafrost that’s happening right now.

All climate models predict average temperatures to be warmer by the middle to the end of the 21st century, and permafrost projections show that by the end of the century, at least half of the recently stable permafrost area will experience some degree of degradation. So it means that the thawing of permafrost will become much more common than it is right now as the century progresses, and we’ll likely start seeing a significant and noticeable impact of thawing permafrost on the carbon cycle.

Vladimir Romanovsky on the Current State of Permafrost

HT The Cost of Energy via twitter

Lou has a post you should read
Earth: Ground zero for the permafrost bomb

Saturday, August 6, 2011


This is probably too radical to fly... but if we do not find something to replace our current economic system, which depends on growth, we'll end up in chaos, yes?

Sustainable lifestyle

The food in the supermarket may have come from thousands of miles away.
The conditions under which your chicken wings were produced is possibly unknown to you.

I heard on the radio yesterday that the embroidery for many wedding dresses is done in India. They make the dress here, or in China, ship it to India, and then it comes back to be sold to you for way more than it's worth.

The wedding dress is just one example of how inefficient cheap oil has allowed us to become.  So what's in store for us when the prices go up due to natural market forces: supply and demand?

That and that the economy is likely never going to be the same.  Nobody is buying anything they don't absolutely need, companies are not hiring because nobody is buying (included governments). Everybody is clinging to what assets they have, fearful for the future. Me too!

Plus the US government has gone totally batshit.

What needs to happen for our economy and our lifestyles to become sustainable?

For the lifestyle part, I think it's both obvious, fairly easy, and in the end humans will be happier living, working, eating, buying locally.

This lecture was interesting, but too academic for what I was trying to convey.

Are you an activist?

Bill McKibben, Slow Living Summit 2011, Brattleboro VT

I admire Bill McKibben, and liked his book, Eaarth, a lot.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Heat Wave reporting

I noted last night on PBS News hour, when it covered the drought in the midwest, did not mention global warming or climate change at all. Also, the guest seemed uncomfortable talking about how the drought might impact food prices.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Climate Progress has a post on the subject: Mysterious Nationwide Heat Wave Causes Exploding Sidewalks and a Blood-Red Reservoir

And Dan Miller contributed, via comment:
The Ingenious Ways We Avoid Believing in Climate Change. Part Three

Thought provoking: what will the people do when scientists tell us it's too late?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

peak government?

After Long Debt Battle, Is Current Version of U.S. Government Sustainable?

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.