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View Diary: Will climate change saints save the Earth? (151 comments)

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  •  "Persuade them first, then me." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    limpidglass

    Well, I'm planning on going live at Kickstarter January 15 to raise the money to finish my documentary A Most Convenient Convergence. - http://www.youtube.com/... I hope to persuade many. I've gone the rounds with you enough to doubt you will be among them, but I have hope that you will get past what I perceive as approaching intellectual dishonesty to recognize that technological innovation may radically transform the economic realities you deal with in your writings.

    I have great hope for this technology as the best chance to leave the fossils underground because it has the possibility to do the same things for us that the fossil industry does, with a radically reduced carbon footprint.

    We share a belief that the vast majority of known underground reserves  need to stay underground. I think that is most likely to happen if a new technology provides stored energy and industrial chemicals cheaper than the fossil fuel and chemical industry can pump, transport and refine them. You prefer to change society in a way that removes the hope a subsistence farmer has for first-world medicine for his children, and removes the hope of his children to someday fly on an airplane - and you want both the farmer and his kids to sign on to your agenda.

    The scientists and engineers working on electrofuels don't have to change the laws of thermodynamics to make this work. I think your approach requires a change of human nature, or a beneficent despot with a really ugly enforcement arm.

    •  No, that's wrong. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, triv33, bnasley
      You prefer to change society in a way that removes the hope a subsistence farmer has for first-world medicine for his children, and removes the hope of his children to someday fly on an airplane - and you want both the farmer and his kids to sign on to your agenda.
      Does your idea of climate change sainthood involve the use of routine, unsubstantiated putdowns?  And I've addressed the matter of "human nature" before -- I linked to that diary in this diary.  

      "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

      by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:00:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not screwing with you... (0+ / 0-)

        Scanned the links in your diary, it is not obvious to me which is to something addressing human nature. Which one?

        •  Start with where I said: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW
          In this regard, you work to nurture human versatility, as the innate quality of the human species most likely to get everyone out of the mess we're in.

          "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

          by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:50:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The current neoliberal international system ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, triv33, bnasley

      ... removes that hope from the vast majority of subsistence farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa ... so the fight to try to keep the grease in the ground without any disruptive changes to socioeconomic systems is also a fight to keep the vast majority of subsistence farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa on the downward slide they have been suffering for the past three decades, after the bright hope of the 50's, 60's and 70's.

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      by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:03:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  BruceMcF: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Words In Action

        "engine17" does not think climate change activism is of any importance because the technologists will solve all of our problems.  Feel free to examine "engine17"'s supporting evidence to your heart's delight.

        "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

        by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:10:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just pointing out that the ... (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus, JesseCW, bnasley, KJG52, Bob Guyer

          ... "technologist will solve all problems" has in fact already been extensively tried in Sub-Saharan African development ~ tried, weighed, and been found wanting.

          The next serious socioeconomic challenge where technique alone solves the problem will be the first one. So on the "doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result" definition of insanity, the Techno-Cornucopia magical solution to institutional problems would count as insane.

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          by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:16:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "engine17" has been in my diaries before. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW, BruceMcF, KJG52

            This person claims that soon "alternative fuels" will become so inexpensive that we will all "keep the grease in the ground" because oil will be by comparison too pricey to bother with.  This outcome is what Thomas Friedman claims (in his bestseller "Hot, Flat, and Crowded,") to be the only serious way to mitigate climate change.  Given all that, the fact that "engine17" craves the miniscule publicity that can be gotten by posting in the comments section of a Cassiodorus diary (but nowhere of importance in the American mass media) says something about the validity of "engine17"'s claim, and not a good thing at that.  In short, what does this person have, if anything at all?  You like engineering stuff.  What do you think?

            "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

            by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:26:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did not know about Friedman... (0+ / 0-)

              But I've heard about the guy running the X Prize foundation - http://en.wikipedia.org/...

              And I'd probably stop hanging around your comments if you actually tried to answer my questions instead of avoiding them.

              •  Since you say you've found the Philosopher's Stone (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JesseCW, BruceMcF, FrY10cK

                of alternative energy and of climate change, why don't you just go away, and look for some bigger fish to fry?

                "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:53:54 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  If todays humans found free, non-polluting energy, (5+ / 0-)

                  they'd just use it to destroy the planet in different ways.  Climate change is not the only planet-destroying threat we face.

                  Topsoil loss, the accumulation of poisons, sprawl, gmos, population & consumption, for starters.  

                  We need the transformation that facing climate change requires, or we'll just kill ourselves in other ways.

                  Techno-fixes are close to useless.

                  •  We do need transformation. The consequences of (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Cassiodorus

                    climate change will be like hitting the bottom for an alcoholic.

                    muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

                    by veritas curat on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 05:25:40 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Even in a solemn, reality-based thread we tip toe (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MrJersey, ZenTrainer, claude

                    around without saying FAMILY PLANNING!

                    None of these human caused problems will get better without family planning and more equitable distribution of the planet's resources.

                    But it's still largely taboo in the U.S. to discuss family planning and cuts to the world's most expensive weapons and surveillance systems.

                    Does not bode well.

                    Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods and services, that government is bad and it can increase revenue by decreasng revenue. Synonyms: Friedmanomics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve

                    by FrY10cK on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 06:33:45 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It's too late for that. (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Bob Guyer, FrY10cK, JesseCW, JeffW
                      Even in a solemn, reality-based thread we tip toe around without saying FAMILY PLANNING!

                      None of these human caused problems will get better without family planning and more equitable distribution of the planet's resources.  

                      Family planning could help slow down the rate at which things get worse, but climate disaster now presses so close that family planning by itself can't get us out of it.  So many young women are now beginning their reproductive years that if every one of them decided to have a maximum of one child, the world's population will continue to go up for many years.  There simply isn't time to let enough people get old and die of natural causes to reduce the globe's population.  Disasterous global warming will be here in 50 years or less.  I expect to live another 25 years and won't be surprised to see NYC subways with ocean water in them several more times before I die.  

                      .

                      Changing the subject: great sigline!  

                      Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods and services, that government is bad and it can increase revenue by decreasng revenue. Synonyms: Friedmanomics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve  

                      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

                      by Calamity Jean on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 08:59:44 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Overshoot + climate change (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        FrY10cK, JeffW

                        will reduce our population. The more we are able to hold off the consequences of overshoot with technological power the larger the size and pace of the crash. Climate change makes it even worse by rapidly deteriorating the environment that sustains human population. So we are contracting our resource base at the same time we are overshooting it.

                        Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

                        by Bob Guyer on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 10:22:23 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yep. eom (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Bob Guyer, JeffW

                          "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

                          by Calamity Jean on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 12:45:32 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  A sad thing to be a part of, easier not to see (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JeffW

                            Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

                            by Bob Guyer on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 01:17:12 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Because we *can* make a transition to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Bob Guyer

                            non-fossil-fuel sources of energy, we should make that transition.  We also need to promote family planning, but need to recognise that family planning alone will not get us out of the fix we're getting into.  But we could go to all renewable energy in fifteen or twenty years if we put our collective minds to it.  

                            We will make the transition to non-fossil-fuel sources of energy.  The choice is to keep civilization more or less intact while that's happening, and while a relative minority of today's population is killed by global warming related disasters, or, to let civilization collapse and let 80% or more of the current population of the world to die young and horribly by drowning, starvation, heatstroke and war.  

                            "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

                            by Calamity Jean on Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 09:24:27 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Different shades of collapse from fast (0+ / 0-)

                            and poorly managed to more gradual and artfully managed is one way of looking at the the range of possible options our species has attempting to come to a reasonable accommodation with the ecological foundation of which we are an outgrowth. One way or another we will end up in a state of ecological equilibrium with our environment. A full unmanaged collapse is the worst case for our species and most of the living world we now take for granted. I agree that we should do everything we can and whatever we do now will help cushion our move back to a sustainable relationship to our world. It could be a really good downsizing I just don't see a lot of signs that the momentum and direction of our larger systems will be quickly turned.

                            If I had to guess where we will fall in terms of our range of shades of collapse I come out with us closer to the fast poorly managed collapse but not all the way to the bottom. As signs of our ecological problems become more pressing there will be a rapid flurry of adaptive actions, some will help a little, some a lot, some will have unanticipated negative affects. My kids and theirs (not yet born) will have a completely different take on things than my generation and those preceding me and their is hope in that but they will be scrambling hard to cope.

                            Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

                            by Bob Guyer on Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 10:56:35 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  Oh I couldn't! (0+ / 0-)

                  What we have is so special...

            •  It seems like a typical mode-warrior ... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW, Cassiodorus, KJG52, Calamity Jean

              ... position, viewing a promising piece of the puzzle into a silver-bullet solution that fixes things.

              The electro-fuels approach hinges on a greater roll-out of sustainable renewable electrical sources than required for current electricity share. And establishing that roll-out requires some of the structural reforms that he seems to hope to avoid the need for with "technique-led" technological change.

              After all, we need a feed-in tariff to get to that roll-out level, and Big Oil and Big Coal are investing heavily in propagandizing against feed-in tariffs.

              It also loses efficiency compared to direct use of sustainable renewable electricity where direct use of sustainable renewable electricity is equally or more useful for the transport task at hand. Also, biocoal is better for long term storage than electro-gas, since that's piles of biocoals on the ground rather than gas stored under pressure ... and without the serious heavy metals runoff problems associated with piles of mineral coal.

              But I've long pointed to the appeal of electro-fuel in the form of ammonia, and electro-fuel in the form of methane is basically the same system up front, with a different use of the hydrogen produced from sustainable, renewable electricity. Standing aside from viewing it as the silver bullet, its a promising piece of the renewable energy portfolio, especially for the US given our massive wind resource, well in excess of what can be tapped for a 50% share of power supply to the grid.

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              by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:56:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You said: (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cassiodorus, engine17, JesseCW
                But I've long pointed to the appeal of electro-fuel in the form of ammonia
                If what you are talking about is ammonia as a liquid fuel for combustion in vehicles, then any aspect of your claimed "appeal" of ammonia as a fuel is hallucinatory.   This process would produce enormous amounts of nitrogen oxides in vehicle exhausts leading to severe causation and exacerbation of existing urban ozone and PM-2.5 ambient air quality problems.

                Advocacy for ammonia fuels is junk environmental science.

                Next, your apparent claim that combustion of methane and the collateral carbon dioxide produced is not harmful to the the atmosphere if the methane was produced from a biological sources is junk air pollution control and atmospheric management....all of which are claims which have been long ago been rejected by U.S. EPA in published regulations.

                •  Picking the product is the easy part (0+ / 0-)

                  An electrofuels process may be the cheapest way to produce ammonia, but, as you point out, not a great fuel. The great thing about the electrofuels process is that it will be adaptable to produce any carbon molecule biology makes.

          •  Problem with a technical fix, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BruceMcF, Calamity Jean

            as has been evidenced with the Green Revolution, is that humans reproduce up to carrying capacity, just as other animals do. Unfortunately, the Green Revolution, like GM crops and a lot of other agricultural advances, makes life very uncomfortable for other species.

            "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

            by northsylvania on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:50:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Malthusian misperceptions of "human nature" (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW, ZenTrainer

              do not eliminate the possibility of technical fixes, not even by people who live up to their own comments about "human nature."  Did you, like, have sixteen children or something?  I myself will go to my grave without bringing any progeny into the world.

              "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

              by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:58:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have one, (0+ / 0-)

                as did my mother and her mother.

                "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

                by northsylvania on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 06:12:42 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Are you saying that you didn't -- (0+ / 0-)

                  "reproduce up to carrying capacity"?

                  "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                  by Cassiodorus on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 06:24:15 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  My dad was an NPGer. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Cassiodorus

                    I remember a cartoon he drew, good Catholic that he was, when the Pope at the time came out against birth control, called "Go Forth and Smother the Earth". It made an impression.

                    "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

                    by northsylvania on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 09:03:33 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  If only that were it. The more discouraging (4+ / 0-)

              truth is that human elites intentionally create scarcity where none actually exists in order to maintain power.

              We produce twice the calories we need to adequately feed all human beings every year.  But 17,000 children die every day from malnutrition.

              I can think of no clearer example of why the current system cannot address climate change.  Our elites see the crisis that climate chaos will cause as nothing more than a means to increase their proportionate power.

              btw- Concerning human nature.   Time and again when women have been provided free choice (or relatively free choice) about their own reproduction they have averaged 2 children each or less.

              Humans will manage our reproduction to preserve our resources.  You'll find in most hunter gatherer societies that women partly decide how long to breast feed based on available resources, and that they will use other methods including "rhythm planning", herbal substances, and even infanticide to reduce the number of children they have when times are hard.

              "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

              by JesseCW on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 04:19:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  real scarcities do exist (3+ / 0-)

                I mean, if not we would be in paradise and there would be no problems of any kind whatsoever.

                But because scarcities can be very destructive, we are conditioned by evolution to be very afraid of them. This makes it easy for people to convince others that there is a scarcity where none actually exists.

                Take one of the worst fake scarcities, the idea that money can be scarce. (It can for an individual, of course, but not for the sovereign government that prints it).

                Because we conflate money with wealth, we are convinced that the government can run out of money. Because it's true that wealth can be scarce. But money's just a way of keeping score.

                However, it's convenient to pretend that money is scarce, so they can impose austerity on us.

                By contrast, the scarcity of rare earth elements is a real scarcity. It means we're going to have to either ration our electronic gadgets very severely, which would put a serious crimp on our civilization. Or we're going to have a crash.

                Powerful people can manipulate both fake and real scarcities to achieve their goals. So either way, really, we're screwed.

                "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

                by limpidglass on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 05:15:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Carrying capacity (0+ / 0-)

              There is reason to believe we will not continue to reproduce till we can't... Info from Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization tells a pretty good story about forces converging to keep us near 12 billion. Educating little girls and economically empowering their mothers seems to get best results.

              I agree our agricultural practices don't make us great neighbors, but the Green Revolution has kept the story of a couple billion of us starving off the front pages for most of my lifetime.

              •  But where are the Monarch (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JesseCW

                butterflies going to be in ten or twenty years, or whales, or even fish?

                "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

                by northsylvania on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 06:15:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Do you lie about all commenters? (0+ / 0-)

          Or just me?

          I think climate change is the most pressing problem our species faces; in fact I think it is more important than dissing economic systems that irritate me... Is it possible that capitalism continuing to lumber along irritates you more than climate change?

          •  Can you read carefully? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW
            I think climate change is the most pressing problem our species faces
            I don't dispute that.  What I do dispute is your belief that climate change ACTIVISM matters.

            But feel free to call me a liar all you want anyway.

            "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

            by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:37:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK, do you insult all commenters? (0+ / 0-)

              Or just me? lol

              Of course, people who hang out at a blogsite dedicated to political activism who recognize the most pressing problem would never do activism...

              I think a basic problem here is that you think climate change activism starts with agreeing with you on economics. Good luck with that.

              •  Do you really consider ... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                engine17, Cassiodorus, JesseCW
                What I do dispute is your belief that climate change ACTIVISM matters.
                ... to be an insult?

                Or are you just trying to disrupt Cassiodorus' argument on the pretense that a clear dispute over positions is an insult?

                Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:41:45 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, it is. (0+ / 0-)

                  Cass states I don't think activism matters. As I am a lifelong activist, this is a very serious personal insult.

                  Saying my activism is misguided would be one thing; saying I don't think activism matters is making shit up to insult me.

                  And I have not yet seen Cassiodorus present a responsive argument to disrupt.

                  •  But your Techno Cornucopia ... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JesseCW, Cassiodorus, FrY10cK

                    ... position on electrofuels is that what matters is the technique, not the social rules. If the electrofuels will force the change on their own, then in what way does activism matter>?

                    A claim now to be a lifelong activist does not negate a position that seems to imply that activism does not matter. It does not even address the observation that your position seems to imply that activism does not matter, and the suggestion that it does is an argument ad hominem fallacy.

                    Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                    by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 04:12:03 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  This is the lie, repeated... (0+ / 0-)
              What I do dispute is your belief that climate change ACTIVISM matters.
              You are asserting that I do not believe climate change activism matters; that is factually incorrect. Disagreeing with you does not constitute antagonism to climate change activism.
              •  No, assuming that the problem can be solved (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BruceMcF, JesseCW

                by techno-entrepreneurs all by themselves constitutes a belief that climate change activism doesn't matter:

                http://www.dailykos.com/...

                The capitalist fossil fuel and petrochemical industries are not going to die because the world's population decides it does not want nice things like food, water and medical care. The fossil industries are going to die because they will be crushed by capitalists selling alternatives which will be cheaper and cleaner.

                "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:46:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Proper link: (0+ / 0-)

                  http://www.dailykos.com/...

                  Please tell 350.org they're wasting their time.  I'm sure they'll send you all the proceeds from their foundation grants.

                  "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                  by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:49:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Do I get paid as your muse? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  limpidglass

                  If you're going to keep putting words in my mouth, step it up, be entertaining...

                  Yes, I believe technology has an incredibly important role to play. I also believe that conservation, frequently done as the result of activism, is where the low-hanging fruit is. I think electrofuels can enter our economy faster if activism gives us a carbon tax. Activism is starting to have an impact on divestment.

                  Some newer, cleaner, cheaper energy company or companies are going to bury the fossil industry. Nothing in that statement denigrates the climate activism that will go on during the same time period.

                  •  Conservation isn't activism. (0+ / 0-)

                    I don't count myself as an activist because I ride my bicycle and put out the recycling bins every week.

                    Some newer, cleaner, cheaper energy company or companies are going to bury the fossil industry. Nothing in that statement denigrates the climate activism that will go on during the same time period.
                    So if "activism" is just a colorful pastime we pursue while waiting for "electrofuels" to "bury the fossil industry," that doesn't denigrate it in the least.  Uh-huh.

                    "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                    by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 04:32:11 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Activism... (0+ / 0-)

                      No, conservation is not activism.

                      Just curious, if the electrofuels sector makes a serious run at big oil, are you petty enough to cheer for big oil because I'm cheering for electrofuels?

                      Your activism is your writing. And your writing is just a colorful pastime you pursue while others try to fix things.

                      Enjoy your pastime.

                      •  I have no problem with "alternative energy." (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JesseCW

                        My problem is with your idea that alternative energy entrepreneurship under conditions of capitalist competition within the current, predatory capitalist world system will solve our problems with energy and with climate change.  What more do I have to say before you understand that?

                        "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                        by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 05:00:39 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  What part? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          limpidglass

                          I am not a "fan" of capitalism, especially as practiced; I support it because it can introduce and disseminate revolutionary technology faster than any other system, because it is so robust (note, not good for everybody, robust.)

                          Why do you think a new, cheaper technology with a smaller carbon footprint cannot supplant what exists, within the economy as it exists? I will love the new lower-carbon products because they are lower carbon, unlike the corporation that makes them (not a person regardless of what they say...) which will love them because, and only because they are cheaper and guarantee market share.

                          Steam replaced the sail because it was faster and cheaper; the system of economics did not care. Capitalism will not mind that ascendant companies with novel tech advance while fossil companies not willing to accept that their reserves are becoming worthless will  die.

                          I assume new, superior technology would win out in a socialist system, but I can see how to get there in capitalism.

                          •  Capitalism is not robust now. (0+ / 0-)

                            New technical improvements do not make the system more robust because they do not open up a new era of cheap resources at a rate fast enough to satisfy capital's demand for profit.  Please see the essays of Jason W. Moore on this matter.

                            I support it because it can introduce and disseminate revolutionary technology faster than any other system, because it is so robust (note, not good for everybody, robust.)
                            A socialist "system" (we are actually talking about a gift economy, which won't be a system) would distribute beneficial technologies much more rapidly than under capital, because the requirements of value and profit won't have to be met before the exchanges can take place.  Marx discusses the limitations of capitalist production as such in chapter 15 of Volume 3 of Capital.  Capitalist distribution means distribution only to those with the ability to pay.
                            Why do you think a new, cheaper technology with a smaller carbon footprint cannot supplant what exists, within the economy as it exists?
                            Do I need to repeat what I have said about "the economy as it exists" in the past few diaries just for you?  Capitalism is incredibly wasteful, and more energy just means that it will be easier for the system to expand its wasteful propensities.  See e.g. the discussion in the Monthly Review of Jevons' Paradox.
                            Steam replaced the sail because it was faster and cheaper
                            But steam and sails are not energy sources -- they are, rather, means for the conveyance of energy.  A more apt comparison would be petroleum and coal.  Petroleum was more versatile than coal, but petroleum and coal today cause a nearly-equal addition to Earth's carbon dioxide accumulation.

                            "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                            by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 06:06:56 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  "Do I need to repeat what I have said" (0+ / 0-)

                            ...no, please, spare me...

                            You don't like capitalism, I get that.

                            But, just once, (no repeat requested) tell me why, in a capitalist economy, a cheaper product cannot replace the more expensive item that came before? The new industry will produce the product, and customers who formerly bought it from the fossil fuel industry will buy the new version from the new industry because it is cheaper. The former supplier has  a sad...Which part of this does not work in your world?

                            As for capitalism not being "robust" now... Do we have different dictionaries or do we live on different planets? Damn near everyone I know with capital, from Goldman Sachs to local drug dealers are doing fine. I am far more worried about capitalism's excesses than I am about its health.

                            I referred to steam and sail as competing technologies that transported goods. My comparison works fine. If you want to compare within energy choices, lets try coal and natural gas. Coal is going under because natural gas is cheaper. Electrofuels will beat natural gas because it will be cheaper.

                          •  Think. (0+ / 0-)
                            The new industry will produce the product, and customers who formerly bought it from the fossil fuel industry will buy the new version from the new industry because it is cheaper.
                            And the old product will simply adapt to the new market conditions, which will themselves expand because capitalism is so wasteful.  It's silly to suppose that an expanding capitalist system is going to produce a static clientele for energy needs.
                            Damn near everyone I know with capital, from Goldman Sachs to local drug dealers are doing fine. I am far more worried about capitalism's excesses than I am about its health.
                            The means of profit, by which Goldman Sachs and the local drug dealers make their money, are based on bubble economies which aren't sustainable.  Goldman Sachs has the government print money for it, and the drug dealers need a war on drugs to keep prices high.  "Robust" would mean something other than bubble economies and Ponzi schemes amidst a four-decades-long decline in the global growth rate.  Once again, Jason W. Moore's essays explain all this in greater detail -- or if you want the simpler version, try David Harvey.
                            Coal is going under because natural gas is cheaper.
                            Coal is not going under.

                            "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                            by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 07:14:51 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Think (0+ / 0-)
                            And the old product will simply adapt to the new market conditions
                            The "new market condition" is "you are too expensive for the market." The old producers go out of business.
                            The means of profit, by which Goldman Sachs and the local drug dealers make their money, are based on bubble economies which aren't sustainable.
                            I agree. I would still refer to capitalism as robust due to the tendency of people with capital to enthusiastically engage in capitalism.
                            Coal is not going under.
                            From the US Energy Information Agency, via Forbes:
                            EIA analyzed the horse race between gas and coal under five scenarios reflecting variations in cost and supply of the two fuels. While coal is recovering ground in the short term, EIA found, coal loses in the long term as coal plants retire.

                            “In all five cases, coal-fired generating capacity in 2025 is below the 2011 total and remains lower through 2040, as retirements outpace new additions of coal-fired capacity,” according to “Competition between coal and natural gas in the electric power sector,” a newly released section of EIA’s 2013 Energy Outlook, which the agency releases in parts.

                            Coal is losing now to natural gas, and improvements in collection of renewables will only hasten coal's demise.
                          •  Think again. (0+ / 0-)
                            The "new market condition" is "you are too expensive for the market." The old producers go out of business.
                            How do you know?  You've started out from a presupposition that has yet to be proved, and probably won't be proved.  The capitalist system's energy needs are voracious, and there will be new oil fields as the Arctic ice melts.
                            I would still refer to capitalism as robust due to the tendency of people with capital to enthusiastically engage in capitalism.
                            Never mind the profit or growth rates.
                            Coal is losing now to natural gas
                            This is in all likelihood a temporary setback.  

                            "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                            by Cassiodorus on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 09:04:38 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How do I know? (0+ / 0-)

                            I don't know.

                            I hope. I have what I consider pretty good reason to hope - what I was told by a bunch of world-class scientists and engineers in extensive conversations.

                            The Forbes quote agrees with what I have seen from a variety of sources about coal v. natural gas. Do you have information suggesting this is a "temporary setback," or merely an overwhelming urge to contradict me?

                          •  You have offered information about coal (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JesseCW

                            in ONE country.  Are the mines being shut down permanently, or just until the boom in shale gas and tar sands subsides?  Has China stopped using coal?  The Chinese economy runs on the basis of 70% coal, and they open new coal-fueled energy plants there every day.

                            "We could run the grid on unicorn farts, but if consumption levels remain the same, Gaia will still lose the ability to support many species, including hominids." --Michael Donnelly

                            by Cassiodorus on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 05:21:00 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That's why the fight is on to build coal (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassiodorus

                            export facilities on the West Coast of the US.

                            Coal is losing to Natural Gas because frackers are being allowed, with few restrictions, to destroy our aquifers.  That's nothing to cheer about.

                            "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

                            by JesseCW on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 07:12:42 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

      •  Mostly agree... (0+ / 0-)

        But I think the disruptive change to the socioeconomic  system can be led by disruptive technology.

        •  Though previous disruptive technologies ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          limpidglass, JesseCW

          ... have been enabled by institutional rules changes ~ or rules resolution when then technology might be seen as falling under two or more conflicting institutional rules.

          It would be nice if the first time that purely technical change functioned on its own to drive technological change without being enabled by institutional change was in an issue where the consequences of not changing are this dire. But it seems more likely to be wishful thinking.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:24:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rule changes usually don't lead on this (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            limpidglass

            I think rules get re-written as necessary in the face of truly disruptive technology.

            •  It depends on whether you are talking ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW

              ... about invention or innovation. In the process of going from invention to innovation, rules changes quite clearly lead on this.

              Consider whether the rate of windpower uptake is better predicted by where the combination of productive capacity and wind resource is the strongest, or by where there has been the greatest switch of windpower electricity from artificial marginal big market pricing to feed-in tariff pricing.

              Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

              by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:45:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Rules will matter... (0+ / 0-)

                But...

                Consider disruptive tech coming to the wind sector. Using standard tech, about 15% of the US has useful wind, about 35% of the time (capacity factor.) Makani Power, now owned by Google - http://www.makanipower.com/... fundamentally changes the landscape. The wind map using their tech covers more than 70% of the US, with many locations promising unheard-of capacity factors in the 90's.

                Their 600 KW model is projected to sell power for
                <$ 0.03/KWH, while their offshore 5 MW has a projection of <$0.02/KWH.

                The fight over the rules may be ugly, but if Makani keeps hitting technological milestones, those rules will be shaped to accommodate Makani.

                •  And that is with a tax credit ... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JesseCW

                  ... compare that to European countries with less rich wind resources but feed-in tariffs rather than production tax credits.

                  Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                  by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 03:57:56 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Maybe... (0+ / 0-)

                    I am not certain, but I'm not sure Makani's projections included a tax credit; my understanding is that they generated those numbers for an international market, and would not have included US tax advantages.

                    Like I said, not sure. Do you have better info?

                    •  How can you project that ... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JesseCW

                      ... the US will pass EU countries with feed-in tariffs in place vs the US on-again, off-again PTC, given the current massive advantage that those EU countries have in terms of roll-out versus the US? In what way does changing the underlying cost of the windpower shift the already demonstrated (not projected) advantage of EU countries with less rich wind resources than the US?

                      You seem to be projecting based on ignoring what has happened to date.

                      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                      by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 04:40:45 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I didn't... (0+ / 0-)

                        Makani's chief engineer gave the cost/KWH projections; I believe he was speaking of the cost of producing power with their hardware independent of the regulatory and tax issues. And let me tell you before Cass does, I am not educated regarding the tax issues.

                        The big advantage of Makani's tech comes from capacity factor, which is usually double or more than that of surface windmills at the same location.

            •  the old chicken-and-egg dilemma (0+ / 0-)

              to which there is no solution. Who leads whom? Humanity or the machine?

              Humanists like to believe that we are are the captain of our souls. We control the machines, which are just inanimate things that do our bidding. Consequently, on this view, if the system is unjust, the fault must lie in humanity alone, a moral or spiritual defect in the human soul, and not in the particular system of machines chosen.

              Technologists insist that humanity and human consciousness are merely epiphenomena contingent upon the current state of technological progress, that we are twigs whirled along by the stream. Machines shape us in ways that we are not aware of. Our whole civilizations have been shaped by our inventions--agriculture or the wheel or the printing press, for instance.

              I myself lean toward the second view, but I do agree with the humanists in that if we are smart, we can recognize the advent of truly disruptive technologies such as the Internet and 3D-printing, and direct them towards sane and humane ends.

              "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

              by limpidglass on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 02:59:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  There's a chicken and an egg question ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JesseCW, Cassiodorus

                ... but what I refer to is the fact that technology itself is not just technique, but rather a combination of technique and economic institutions.  There is no chicken and an egg question there. There is Techno-Cornucopia wishful thinking on the one side, and the empirical record of technological change on the other.

                Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                by BruceMcF on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 04:00:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  the technique conditions the economic (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  veritas curat

                  institutions in ways that are very subtle, but often decisive.

                  The Industrial Revolution could not have gone in any other way than it did. Once you've decided you will use mass production by machine as your main means of economic activity, then to achieve the necessary economies of scale to reap the benefits, you have to centralize capital and the means of production. Big factories, huge investments in equipment. You need cheap labor and cheap energy. And you have to write laws in such a way as to protect those who are making those investments. All this creates massive inequality, but that's a necessary consequence of having these centralizations of capital. Otherwise it won't work.

                  You can't have a decentralized socioeconomic system that seeks to ease wealth inequality and deemphasizes control of property, and machine mass production at the same time. We refused to give up the machine, so...

                  Choosing mechanized production was the fatal step, from which everything else proceeded of iron necessity. The critics of industrial capitalism were always trying to shut the barn door after the horse was gone. They said: it's not the machine, it's that capitalists are immoral, that the slumbering proletariat has not yet awakened to its true power, etc.

                  The Luddite criticism of the Industrial Revolution was far more incisive than all the volumes of Marx: they attacked not the capitalist titan of industry, but the machines themselves. They understood intuitively where the source of the problem lay.

                  All technologies are two-edged swords. They all have consequences, some good, some bad. It's a question of whether you can live the consequences. No matter what sort of technology you choose, it's going to have repercussions you won't like.

                  If one technology kills you then you have to change to another (which is what's happening now). But short of that, people can live with quite a bit. We lived with industrial capitalism for over 180 years, after all.

                  But technologies aren't neutral, not at all. They force certain choices upon us. We shape tools, but then tools shape us.

                  The history of humanity is really the history of cybernetics, and has been since the first hunter shaped a club out of a tree branch.

                  "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

                  by limpidglass on Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 04:54:59 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  pass around that hopium you are smoking, eh? (0+ / 0-)

      don't always believe what you think

      by claude on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 06:55:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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