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View Diary: White House Meeting on Arctic Media Blackout (143 comments)

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  •  Too little, too late. (16+ / 0-)

    450ppm CO2 in 20 years is already locked in . . . little could and nothing will be done about it.

    This is just the beginning . . . nobody knows what the end will look like.  Establishing a "policy" to cope with an unknown is not what politicians do well, and it is too late to go back and correct the poor decisions of 20-30-40 years ago.

    We had a chance, and we blew it.  Now it's just wait-and-see . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:31:24 PM PDT

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    •  I severely disagree (7+ / 0-)

      if we took it upon ourselves in a full mobilization we could completely decarbonize in 10 years.

      •  don't believe everything you think (4+ / 0-)

        It's not going to happen.  

        But if fantasy makes you happy that one is as good as Middle Earth or Westeros . . .

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:58:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "If" is what New Minas said. (7+ / 0-)
          if we took it upon ourselves in a full mobilization we could completely decarbonize in 10 years.
          So she's right. We could do if we were united. We're not united.
          It's not going to happen
          .

          So you're right also.

          Anyways, we had Commies & Terrorists to fight the last 50 years. Our ultimate contribution to the world as its first unmatched global super-power...fiddling with bogeyman as the world came down around us.

          America's greatest political dynasty...the Kaan

          by catilinus on Wed May 01, 2013 at 02:55:43 AM PDT

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          •  I seriously doubt (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rovertheoctopus, Roadbed Guy

            that we could "decarbonize" air transport in a decade (though we could, I suppose, do without it).  I also doubt that we could "decarbonize" surface transport in a decade (replacing the entire fleet and (with what?) the fuel infrastructure that supports it).

            We can easily imagine doing things that we can't actually do . . .

            Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

            by Deward Hastings on Wed May 01, 2013 at 07:02:59 AM PDT

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            •  electric powered vehicles (0+ / 0-)

              and a massive public transportation infrastructure that is based on renewable energy would do it.

              The thing is, if we don't do it then our grandchildren will suffer and die within a global collapse of civilization.

              •  We'll need more than renewables to save us (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Deward Hastings, Brooklyn Jim

                Let's also appreciate that we need a paradigm shift in our grasp of the "economy." This is more than policy, of course. That means a rapid transition away from the growth nonsense that perceives man-made currencies as a metric to assess the quality of the economy. That means shifting away from consumerism: smaller, denser metro areas that use less land area; resuable and recyclable consumerism; traveling shorter distances; eating locally; utilizing less water from unsustainable sources like aquifers.

                The fact of it being a political problem is hardly the lone factor. It's largely societal and economic, which, for all intents and purposes, drive policy for the most part. Getting even 60% of society to agree that global warming is a.) happening, b.) man-made, and c.) a mostly negative feedback to our civilization is one that has taken heaven and earth to arrange despite all evidence in support. I won't fathom all day the idea of this being "impossible" or "certain" that we'll "change", but realistically speaking, I'd just base our forecast on the current situation. The appreciation of a long-term scale that climate change occurs within is not a strong-suit of humanity. We're going to get intermittent "hottest year ever" reports and circumstantial evidence like droughts, hurricanes, flooding, and (maybe within a decade) significant famine or dislocation of people. But I know too many humans have far too short of a memory. The financial crisis of 2007-2009 being one recent instance. Global warming? Feh. I'm even less optimistic. Not to be a downer. It just is what it is.

                "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

                by rovertheoctopus on Wed May 01, 2013 at 07:52:32 AM PDT

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              •  easy to say (0+ / 0-)

                impossible to do.

                We do not have the capability to replace the entire fleet with not-even-designed-yet "electric powered vehicles", and we do not have the capability to provide the necessary energy from "renewable" sources.  India can barely keep the lights on as it is . . . where are they going to get the power to run electric cars and trucks?  Or the energy and resources to build them?  And Americans . . . give up the SUV for an electric golf cart?  Not likely . . .

                Even the fastest possible build-out of nuclear capacity would have a hard time covering both the needed growth and replacement of existing coal/gas/oil fired power plants . . . and we know how likely that is.

                Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                by Deward Hastings on Wed May 01, 2013 at 08:09:40 AM PDT

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              •  Suburban car centric culture (0+ / 0-)

                Big box stores, etc. Its a heavy lift.

                .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Wed May 01, 2013 at 08:50:28 AM PDT

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      •  Why, New Minas, do you think this? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreyHawk, WarrenS
      •  And that would produce little effect. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WarrenS

        As we've already passed the point of no return. We either need to develop technology to reflection sunlight away from earth, or technology to capture carbon from the air. That's it. We're reduced to a magic bullet or Venus.

        •  That is not true (0+ / 0-)

          it must not be true.  

          because the idea of reflecting sunlight with geoengineering is a self-defeating game.  We will have to halt CO2 emissions if we want to prevent a +8C scenario.

          •  Must not be true? (0+ / 0-)

            Well enjoy your convictions.

            But since every piece of data we get shows this is happening worse than we thought and at a faster pace, I think we've run out of options.

            •  no, it only means (0+ / 0-)

              that we have to work harder and faster, not that it is too late.  Now, when we get to 450 it will be far too late.  The only uncertainty right now is whether or not we can mitigate the levels to slow the thaw of the permafrost, and if there is a reasonable reforesting project that can increase CO2 removal.  A 10 year u.s. decarbonization strategy with a 20 year global decarbonization focus and a 100+ year biosphere recapture program will do it.  Otherwise I fear we will have a precipitous population collapse in 40 years.

    •  if timeframe was that short, we never had a chance (9+ / 0-)

      Seriously. What do people think humanity is realistically capable of as a diverse species of 7 billion with countless competing factions? Replace the energy source that built the last 150 years of civilization? Even assuming it IS technologically, physically possible to accomplish such a feat within a decade, OBVIOUSLY you will not get all of the 8 kajillion different countries/cultures/movements/companies/political philosophies/various weird people ETCETCETC to all reach consensus on this until the threat is so imminent and terrifying, its like a full blown alien invasion or asteroid strike.

      I've always felt like if we don't have decades, if not a century to fix this, we're fucked and they should just legalize drugs make everything free and let us live it the fuck up in a hedonistic anarchy orgy before we all DIE.

      "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

      by TheHalfrican on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:42:25 PM PDT

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      •  if the U.S. did it (0+ / 0-)

        and led the way then it would allow the price of these materials to shift lower and a market-based solution would drive change in other countries.  it would take a decade in the U.S. and an additional decade for the remainder of the developing world.

        •  Germany - perhaps the most "with it" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rsmpdx

          country on earth these days technologically - has been trying frantically to "decarbonize" for the past decade (longer actually) and yet their emissions and use of coal continue to go up.

          Bottom line - it is not remotely possible to suggest that the entire planet can get off fossil fuels in a decade if basically the richest, most determined country around can't . .. .

          •  wrong thinking (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy

            the richest, most carbon intensive countries are the difficult ones, All the other ones are already way way better than places like Germany or the US. You do not need to remove cars from societies that have none. Mali is already decarbonized because they never carbonized (yet).

            If Germany can do it then everyone can do it. And as you say they´re trying. I agree, ten years is somewhat unrealistic, but in thirty years they aim to have reduced their fossil carbon use from 12 to 3 PJ/a.

            Noone knows if they can pull it off but we all better should hope they will. However, if the rest of the world waits til 2050 to see if the germans were able to do it then everything will be futile.

            •  I don't think that a country can decarbonize (0+ / 0-)

              if it has never carbonized.

              Just like I've been told it's not really a boycott if you never patronized the place in question in the first place . .. .

              In any event, the whole point is more or less moot considering that virtually the entire energy-consuming world is doubling down on coal, constructing new power plants that are intended for 40 to 60 year lifetimes (Germany claims otherwise for themselves, I suppose we will have to see about that!).

              China is getting into fracking big time so that will ameliorate their coal-based emissions somewhat, but hardly in the manner needed

              Other than that, there aren't too many bright spots out there.

              •  get that point (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                johanus, rovertheoctopus, Roadbed Guy

                I find it just intriguing that everyine throws their hands up and says it is impossible, when we have actually a large number of countries who are living with far far less human carbon footprint that the US or even the Europeans.

                There is an interesting graphic, Id like to point you to, here, showing the correlation between their forms of a Human Development Index and Ecological Footprint. The bad joke in this discussion is that we have all the countries around who are having quite a high development but not nearly the destructiveness as the US and others have, yet people in the US at least seem wilfully blind to it.

                Cuba is on there too, on the cusp with one of the highest HDI/footprint ratios. Cuba is a dictatorship of course but this isnt about political system but about consumption structure of the society. Cuba is a perfectly civilized country - it just doesnt have the gross and planet-destroying wastage habits of the US and Abu Dhabi. You could try to find Costa Rica too on there if you wanted to avoid the politics distraction that mentioning Cuba will bring. We have all that - these people live too, and there is nothing, really nothing stopping all the global ressource wasters from living like that and preserving the planet, apart from that they dont want to.

                That is whats typically left ouit of the "it cant technically be done" discussion. It need not be done on todays level of waste. Thats also what you see on the German plan: they will have a primary energy usage in 2050 that is 50% LOWER than today, regardless of source. They arent planning on becoming poor! We can be fully civilized and fully equitable WITHOUT the enormous waste of today´s lifestyle.

                Its not technically unfeasible. The will is lacking, that is all.

          •  the efforts to date (0+ / 0-)

            have been structured within a free-market and pay as you go system.  If it was taken from a command economy perspective (as in pre WWII usa) then the results would be quantitatively different.  

            just because "didn't" or "won't" doesn't mean "can't"

          •  Hmm, DoE sez German emissions declining (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            New Minas

            Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center:  Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions from Germany

            Trends

            Fossil-fuel emissions of CO2 from unified Germany have declined 22.4% since 1990 to 215 million metric tons of carbon in 2008. The 2008 per capita emission estimate of 2.61 metric tons of carbon is comparable to early 1950s levels. Although the largest fraction of emissions (39.8%) is from burning of solid fuels, the use of coal has been in general decline since 1950, at which time 97.3% of the total emissions were from coal burning. Natural gas burning first contributed over 1% in 1968 and is now 22.3% of the total. The year 1991 marked the first year the United Nations published energy statistics for unified Germany. Through 1990 statistics were still published for the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). We have combined the statistics here to generate a continuous time series for unified Germany.

            Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres. 2011. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2011

            Got better data?

            "Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?" - George H.W. Bush

            by rsmpdx on Wed May 01, 2013 at 10:33:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's a crazy comparison (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              New Minas

              since the baseline includes all the tremendously inefficient east German industries that shut down upon unification.  Thus allowing Germany to look really, really good wrt meeting Kyoto standards, and that type of thing.

              But more relevant than what happened 20 years ago due to a historical anomaly is what happened LAST YEAR.

              Greenhouse gases rise as Germany burns coal

              Published: 26 Feb 13 07:05 CET | Print version

              Online: http://www.thelocal.de/...

              Germany saw increased emissions in greenhouse gases last year due to more coal and gas usage while the country seeks to develop its renewable energy sources, according to the Federal Environment Agency.

              For whatever it's worth, in the here and now the USA is doing a way better job than Germany of reducing greenhouse gas emissions
              •  Interesting and problematic, but (0+ / 0-)

                it's hard to read much into a one-year "trend".

                Also, this is happening in the context of Germany's commitment to phase out nuclear power.

                Germany, which has committed to phase out nuclear power, emitted the equivalent of around 931 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012, or 14 million tonnes more than a year earlier, the agency said on Monday.

                "Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?" - George H.W. Bush

                by rsmpdx on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:43:15 AM PDT

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                •  But it is really crazy in the context (0+ / 0-)

                  that if Germany wasn't idiotically closing their nuclear power plants, they'd unambiguously still be reducing emissions.

                  Then we wouldn't have to quibble about 1 or 2% upticks or declines from year to year had any significance.

                  In any event, most projections show growth in the use of coal over the next several years.

                  And even the Germans admit that getting solar and wind above 30 or 35% of electricity supply is an uncertain proposition.  So maybe the coal will be here to stay considerably longer than its alleged "bridge" role would indicate.

              •  that is also a false statement (0+ / 0-)

                the u.s. reductions are based on the economic advantage of fracking for natural gas.  Now that natural gas prices are back up we will see continued CO2 emission increases.

                Only a command economy approach will save us from our climate catastrophe.  And that is an iffy proposition, but the only one that I see.

                •  If anything, the uptick in NG prices will (0+ / 0-)

                  spur on even more fracking.

                  It was on the verge of not being economical in some places at the price trough of the last 2 or 3 years, but that "problem" is fading.

                  So it is unlikely coal will rebound significantly.

                  •  fracking doesn't drive down (0+ / 0-)

                    CO2 emissions, natural gas prices do.

                    utilities switched to natural gas from coal last year when natural gas was so far below parity price.  now the price has gone up a lot.

                    •  Fracking has significantly driven (0+ / 0-)

                      down US carbon dioxide emissions by making NG dirt cheap, causing a significant shift from coal to NG for electricity generation (per unit of electricity generated, NG only produces 1/2 as much emissions as coal).

                      Unfortunately, the NG itself (well at least methane, usually it's major component) is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so if about 3 to 7% of the NG "leaks" during production the global climate change impact of the reduced coal use is totally offset.  There isn't any widely agreed upon data on leakage.

                      That aside, how many coal plants have been re-commissioned/re-started now that NG has gone up a bit in price?  I personally have found no evidence of this, but you seem to know better.  (I'm talking about the USA, I realize that globally coal is in the midst of a huge boom).

      •  pretty realistic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        orlbucfan

        but quite frankly, we can make it much worse if we do nothing, so maybe something, be it accomodations, research into more native crops from desert areas, more money on upgrading recapture and cleaning of existing fresh water, etc. means something to survival.    

        If we managed to stop getting worse yearly, we buy time for a magic bullet to appear, not in the short term, because things are guaranteed to get worse in the short term, but in terms of survival of existing species, maybe enough time for some to survive and new species to take advantage of emptied niches.

    •  Not just "wait and see" ... (4+ / 0-)

      because we (hopefully) have some degree of say, as a civilization, as to how bad conditions get going forward and how well we 'cope' with the locked-in disasters.

      450 ppm is pretty much locked-in and, catastrophically, it is hard to see how we keep from going (well) above 500 ppm.  Do we have any ability to foster a plateauing and then reduction?

      By thew way, we're now recording above 400 ppm ... not consistently, but we're 'there' and the question is simply one of when do we officially state that the globe has gone past 400 ppm?  (We do have a potential for a drop below 400 ppm through the summer as plants absorb CO2 but that means the 402 or so by the end of 2013.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed May 01, 2013 at 05:12:02 AM PDT

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