Monday, October 31, 2011

Loved this

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss And More Talk Higgs Boson, Private Space Ventures And Pluto

TAM Panel - Our Future in Space from JREF on Vimeo.

Treehugger podcast

Richard Heinberg on Reaching The End of Growth (Podcast)

TreeHugger Radio: Richard Heinberg on Reaching The End of Growth (Podcast) by jacob_gordon

7 Billion

Friday, October 28, 2011

Climate Change REAL sceptic uses sceptic funds to prove it.


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