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View Diary: Global Warming - Creating the Conditions for a Cronkite Moment (183 comments)

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  •  That's not what happened (2+ / 0-)
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    PatriciaVa, ScottDog

    The golfer broke 90 for the first time. Then in only two of the next 14 times out did she break 90 again, and then only just barely. It would be safe to say in that case that she was improving rapidly until she broke 90, at which time her improvements have leveled off, raising the a question as to whether or not she has peaked.

    And a rolling average would not change the picture very much. You can start wherever you want, but there will remain in the data an unmistakable leveling off of the increase in temperatures in the last decade and a half. Temps rose by about half of a degree over the period from the late 1970's until the late 1990's, and since then have risen by maybe a tenth of a degree.

    In any event, you are sort of fighting last year's battles. The paper that you linked to clearly shows the leveling off of temperatures after 1998. It doesn't deny this, but instead attempts to explain away that leveling off by adjusting the data to remove other influence on climate such as solar variation, volcanic activity and El Nino/La Nino cycles, all of which apparently were unknown to science with the IPCC reports were written in the 1990's that contained no predictions that temperatures would level off due to these factors. Funny that.

    •  If the world is not warming (4+ / 0-)
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      JanG, G2geek, Chi, koNko

      then why are business leaders making plans to ship goods through sea lanes that were continuously shut by ice until a decade ago?

      WRT "IPCC reports were written in the 1990's that contained no predictions that temperatures would level off due to these factors" -- well, the actual magnitude and occurrence of those factors, in what were then future years, could of course not be predicted in advance.

      We shall not contribute to our own destruction.

      by James Wells on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:59:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Next question: how much will it cost (2+ / 0-)
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      PatriciaVa, ScottDog

      in investment, subsidies and lost economic activity to reduce CO2 emissions to the level that would guarantee us a stable climate?

      •  Astonishingly little (7+ / 0-)

        But that's actually a future diary topic.  This one is simply about the fact of global warming.

        We shall not contribute to our own destruction.

        by James Wells on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:06:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I look forward to hearing about it (2+ / 0-)
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          PatriciaVa, ScottDog

          Nobody else has done this? A rough estimate of the total cost to get back to 350 ppm?

          •  others have (3+ / 0-)
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            James Wells, Chi, FishOutofWater

            and by some estimates, it might not "cost" anything on net, because just getting off coal would be a net benefit, because for every dollar of electricity produces, the industry imposes approximately $2.50 in costs on the economy, excluding climate effects.  So, converting from coal to solar is already gives you a fair bit of payoff right there.  If other changes are net cost, there's a fair bit of benefit to charge against right there.

            •  So much benefit to getting off coal...... (2+ / 0-)
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              Chi, ScottDog

              ....that China is exporting 90%+ of the solar panels and wind turbines it produces.  

              Meanwhile, for China itself, the Chinese pols prefer one coal-fired power plant going live each week.

              Nothing can compare to the energy density of carbon-based fuel.

              Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

              by PatriciaVa on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 02:37:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  In China, they don't count lost lives as much cost (5+ / 0-)

                When lived in Republic of China (Taiwan) long ago, I remember that attitude.  Get ahead economically no matter what the personal cost.  I remember, after a few minutes outside, swiping a finger across my arm and seeing it come up black.  People were just awakening to the concept that this might not be such a good thing.

                Emulating China, in this regard, would be adopting the ultimate race to the bottom approach, a poor choice for the US.

                We shall not contribute to our own destruction.

                by James Wells on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 03:40:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, CHina, that shining example (6+ / 0-)

                As you might note, China has MASSIVE enviornmental issues and does not count the cost of damage to people's health very high.

                But yes, I suppose if you decide to let people just die, then that's much cheaper to go that way.  Glad to see the Republican Health Care plan (Copyright Allan Grayson) of "die quickly" has its proponents.

                But, if we allow polluters to shift costs to other parties to reduce costs, then the wider society pays, either through early death and disability (which if all you care about is money you can think of in terms of lost wages), or through health care costs if efforts are made to actaully treat people.  Also, that is not considering the loss of benefits from water ways and forests.

                And for those who realize that things other than money count, there's the value of not killing things through pollution as well.

                (and facutally, there are battery technologies that will be challenging that energy density.  And to be even more accurate, there's nothing to compare as an energy source to the sun)

                •  But Va is simply mistaken (1+ / 0-)
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                  Clean Energy and Nuclear are China's dominant form of energy investment now and the latest 5 year plan significantly raises the goals.  5 years ago, China was banking on CCS technology to reduce emissions, now not so much.

                  See my post to her remark.

                  What about my Daughter's future?

                  by koNko on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 12:42:29 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  nothing can compare to the painkilling density of (5+ / 0-)

                heroin.  So shall we allow it to be sold over-the-counter?

                Energy density is an excuse: the relevant question is whether an energy source is sufficient for a given purpose.  

                For example many truck fleets are converting to CNG, compressed natural gas, instead of diesel fuel.  The needed adjustment is only to put the CNG tanks in an enclosure between the truck's cab and body.

                Truck manufacturers are also starting to roll out hybrid powertrain trucks and buses: urban delivery and refuse collection are two applications that are economically viable right now.  

                A truck that runs a route of 50 to 100 miles in a day, doesn't need an energy source that will take it 500 miles between refuelings: it can refuel at the depot at the end of each day.

                "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 06:06:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Ridiculously wrong. (4+ / 0-)

                The energy density of U-235 dwarfs coal's.

                As bad as Fukushima is, coal has killed far more people this year than nuclear power.

                That's coming from someone who has been highly critical of how nuclear power has been managed.

                look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

                by FishOutofWater on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 06:45:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  China leads the world in clean energy investment. (1+ / 0-)
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                And I have already given you the data to prove it. Read.

                It is true that China is building coal plants at a high rate (many of which profit GE) to meet it's increasing power consumption but if you refer to the current 5 year plan it suggests a sharp turn to Renewables and Nuclear to get off the coal train.

                BTW, the US also has net exports of clean energy technology:

                Grist Stunner


                Even coal loving GE is on the gravy train

                Bad for the US?

                What about my Daughter's future?

                by koNko on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 12:39:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  start with conversion to climate-clean power: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FishOutofWater, linkage

        Non-carbon energy sources right now are in the cost range of $1 million per megawatt.  That's true for wind and nuclear, and solar is rapidly trending toward that goal.  Utility-scale solar projects using solar thermal collection and storage to produce steam and run turbines, also have the great benefit of being immune to intermittency: the heat stored in mass, keeps the steam turbines spinning overnight.

        $1M/megawatt = $1B/gigawatt.

        Now calculate gigawatts needed to replace every coal and oil and old gas plant in the US: that's not a "cost," it's an enormous investment opportunity for private-sector investors and businesses.

        That investment will create return on equity for the investors: not as much as investing in bubbles or cocaine smuggling, but a hell of a safer investment because it won't pop and crash.  (The fact that bubbles occur is directly related to the existence of capital that is unable to seek a safer avenue of investment: "idle capital" sitting there with nothing to do.  Gambling on a bubble is "better than nothing," with the results we saw starting in September 2008.  Legitimate and stable avenues of investment will attract capital and also prevent bubbles.)

        That investment will directly create hundreds of thousands of new jobs at middle-class wage and salary levels: all without need of government spending.

        The profits, wages, and salaries, from all of that, will have ripple effects throughout the economy, perking up Main Streets across the US, and all of the "stuff" behind Main Street such as wholesale product distribution, trucking, and even manufacturing.  

        The tax revenues on all of those profits, wages, and salaries, will reduce the national debt and deficits, making it possible to use government money for making essential infrastructure repairs (bridges etc.), and ultimately to reduce taxes overall.  

        That's not a net loss of economic activity, it's a net gain.

        It also helps reduce our dependence on oil from unstable regions and unfriendly countries: a national security benefit.

        Those things are true regardless of whether the observed changes in climate are or aren't caused by human activity.

        There is no good reason to wait.

        "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 06:01:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If that's the case, then why are we talking about (0+ / 0-)

          it. Do you honestly think that investors leave money on the table because they affirmatively don't want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

          If there are good economic reasons to convert to new sources of energy, then there should be no need for government policy to force it.

          •  there's no such thing as a pure market. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            James Wells, FishOutofWater

            All markets depend at some level on government policies, even illegal markets such as crack cocaine.

            When a market is distorted by the presence of legal forms of fraud such as we saw in the run up to the crash of 2008, money that is bound by requirements to seek the highest possible returns will inevitably head for the things that turn out to be scams, such as mortgage-backed securities, because they offer the highest returns.  Until they don't any more.  Which is why so many managed funds such as pensions, are left holding the bag right now.

            Minus those distortions, realism returns, and long-term investments such as utility infrastructure are valued again.  

            Your last sentence is also fallacious, because a lot of our energy infrastructure is locked into climate-hazardous energy sources precisely due to government policies: such as subsidies to coal mining and transportation of coal and so on.  Those policies are deeply-embedded and protected by legions of special-interest lobbyists.  Minus those policies, minus all the subsidies to coal, oil, and natgas, the prices of those forms of energy would rise to reflect the actual costs.

            One of the largest sources of government subsidies is tolerance for externalized costs.  Externalities violate the core libertarian principle of voluntary transactions between consenting adults: those who are stuck with the costs did not consent.  Costs such as the costs of health impacts downwind of coal-fired power plants: 20,000 fatalities per year in the USA alone, due to respiratory illnesses caused by coal.  Now if you internalize those costs, what you find is that "cheap coal" is a hell of a lot more expensive, and rapidly becomes uncompetitive.  

            And if you're consistent with your own values, you won't drive on highways because they were the direct result of one of the biggest government policies and government expenditures in US history.   Government policy forced the interstate highway system.  If you believe what you're saying, don't use the highways.  Otherwise your entire arguement crumbles.  

            "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:23:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Where did I say that I don't agree with (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              public infrastructure? For me, there's a fairly bright line between things that government should be involved in, such as public safety and common infrastructure, and things that they shouldn't be involved in, such as trying to artificially create a market for certain kinds of fuels.

              Now, if you want to talk about subsidies to carbon-based fuels, I would be the first to say, "Shit yes, let's stop subsidizing any kinds of energy", let the market determine that. Now, that may also mean getting rid of any special taxes that might apply to energy as well, so get ready for that.

              With respect to externalities, theoretically under our system of government, people who are harmed by the actions of others have a right to sue in a court of law for compensation for their injuries. In doing so, they do a service to the rest of us by discouraging the perpetrator from harming others in a similar fashion. I think any libertarian/conservative who doesn't believe in tort law is fucking stupid. Not to say that there aren't cases of abuse, but in general, tort law is in many cases the alternative to government regulation.

              •  a couple of things... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                James Wells, FishOutofWater, mkor7

                One, we never disagreed about infrastructure.  

                Roads & bridges anyway; but to that I would add rail systems: the US Gov should own the rails and rights-of-way, and private companies should own all the locomotives and rolling stock.  That by itself would create a really strong market for passenger rail services.  As for traffic management on the rails, that can be handled in a manner similar to air traffic control.  

                Federal ownership of the rails, and private ownership of the equipment, would immediately turn rail monopolies into rail markets.  

                Two, externalities:

                Lawsuits are not a realistic method for dealing with those, any more than for the more mundane depredations against others that are covered by common criminal law.  If someone burgles your house, do you have to sue to get your property back?

                20,000+ deaths per year due to coal combustion are a foreseen and predictable effect of burning coal.  Unlike automobile fatalities, which are "accidents" unless they're "on-purpose" in which case they are vehicular manslaughter or at least criminal negligence.  Further, we criminalize the circumstances, such as drunk driving, that with high probability lead to fatal accidents, even if most drunken automobile trips never result in accidents.  The combination of probability and severity of consequence, is sufficient.

                The premises that apply here are a) that the originating action is deliberate on the part of the actor, and b) that the action has significant consequences that are highly probable.  The same premises apply to burning coal and the respiratory fatalities it causes; this is inescapable.  

                The core libertarian principle for criminal justice is that the only valid basis for criminal law is in the case of "force or fraud."  Clearly, taking deliberate actions that cause a predictable number of deaths, is an act of force against the victims.  Denying the existence of the consequences in order to continue doing business is fraud, in the same sense as making misleading claims on an investment prospectus.  This is also inescapable.

                "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 01:02:46 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I happen to completely agree with you (0+ / 0-)

                  regarding the situation with the national rail network. No argument from me there.

                  Your response to my raising of tort law perplexes me. You do understand that tort law is in fact that way that we deal with the vast majority of civil harms, don't you? That there are literally millions of pages of case law dealing with the issues that you raised in your comment about "intent" and "probable harm" and "ability to pay", etc., and significant fortunes have been made by those who understand and are able to effectively manipulate that system. It's a really strange comment from my perspective, as if we were talking about free speech rights on the Internet, and somebody is discussing it without reference to the fact that forums are generally moderated by site owners, with help from users.

              •  Tort law? There is no recourse (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                For large businesses, there is a chain of reasoning that goes like this:

                - If it's not illegal, then it's allowed
                - If it's allowed, then it's a perfectly fine business practice
                - So we'll do it

                It has been known for decades that combustion fuel kills 10s of thousands per year.  This has been allowed to go on, without those fuels having to pay for those effects, for decades.  No one person can show that they have been killed by the air pollution (and of course any such person is dead), although it is certain that this has happened to many thousands of people.

                If you don't know who you have killed, are they still dead?

                This is the biggest subsidy of all for any form of power; if we want no subsidies - great - this one should be the first to go.

                We shall not contribute to our own destruction.

                by James Wells on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 03:47:06 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  How much will it cost if you're wrong? (6+ / 0-)

        If I'm wrong we will have successfully responded to peak oil and depletion of other resources...things we need to be doing anyway.

        If you're wrong we're fucked. We're trillions and trillions down if you are wrong.

        And over 95% of climate scientists say you're wrong.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 06:41:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's no such thing as "peak oil" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It's another myth perpetrated by those with an interest that it be so.

          We've established above that "climate scientists" don't see it as their role to get into the policy debate, so no, climate scientists have not said that I'm wrong.

          If there are things that "we need to doing anyway" then by all means we should do them. We don't need to have a debate about things that may or may not happen decades ago in order to do them.

      •  How much will an unstable climate cost us? (0+ / 0-)

        In term of damage from extreme weather events to which global warming is a significant enhancer, making them more likely?

        In terms of disruptions of food supplies as major farming areas become too hot for current crops?

        In terms of loss of water supplies in the West as glaciers and snow packs retreat?

        In terms of instability from migrations as drought spreads in Mexico and Texas and other areas?

        And then there's sea level rise, but that is for later in this century and the next.

        It may be inconvenient that global warming isn't compatible with ones ideology, but that doesn't make it a hoax.

        The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

        by Mimikatz on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 11:37:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well, people, take a look for yourself (6+ / 0-)

      and tell us if you all  think that Pilkington is right on this one...

      The chart is from the Goddard Space Institute and as I am sure you are aware, has been confirmed by Robert Muller, a physicist and high profile climate "skeptic" recently.

      (why physicists feel more qualified than climate scientists to evaluate climate science is kind of beyond me, but that's another story.  I guess this means that climate scientists can now lecture Mr. Muller about how silly those guys all are for thinking there might be such things as Higg's Bosons?)

    •  Crap. With El Nino's effects filtered out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and the other short term factors filtered out, here's the long term signal. Obviously, the massive El Nino of 1998 created a large short term temperature spike, but that's  why scientists use smoothing methods and other ways of reducing short term noise.

      The GISS data set by Hansen et al is probably the best surface data set. It shows a steady uptick in temperatures. In the GISS temperature set surface temps exceeded 1998 in 2005 and 2010.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 06:36:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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