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We have reached a fork in the road on climate warns the International Energy Agency (IEA). In the next 5 years we can decarbonize new energy production and increase energy efficiency or the earth will face irreversible destructive climate change. Time has run out. Every new power plant and activity that emits greenhouse gases will lock in emissions for the life of the unit, raising CO2 levels to the point that there will be no turning back from devastating global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius.

"The door is closing," Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA), told the Guardian. "I am very worried – if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever."

Every month now counts: if the world is to stay below 2C of warming, which scientists regard as the limit of safety, then emissions (Fish's Ed. this is an error by the journalist. 450 ppm is concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere) must be held to no more than 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; the level is currently around 390ppm. But the world's existing infrastructure is already producing 80% of that "carbon budget", according to a new analysis by the IEA, published on Wednesday. This gives an ever-narrowing gap in which to reform the global economy on to a low-carbon footing.

Dr James Hansen has pressed for a target of 350 parts per million (ppm) CO2 in the atmosphere because his research shows that the climate is even more sensitive to greenhouse gases than the IPCC estimates from the last IPCC report. The real scientific debate on climate change is how sensitive the climate is to increasing levels of greenhouse gases, not that climate change is driven by human activities.

If current trends continue, and we go on building high-carbon energy generation, then by 2015 at least 90% of the available "carbon budget" will be swallowed up by our energy and industrial infrastructure. By 2017, there will be no room for manoeuvre at all – the whole of the "carbon budget" will be spoken for, according to the IEA's calculations.

Birol's warning comes at a crucial moment in international negotiations on climate change, as governments gear up for the next fortnight of talks in Durban, South Africa, from late November. "If we do not have an international agreement, whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door to [holding temperatures to 2C of warming] will be closed forever," said Birol.

The IEA report shows that the demand for fossil fuels is stimulated by enormous direct subsidies. Subsidies are justified by claims that subsidies help the poor, but IEA figures show that less than 10% of subsidies go to the poor. In fact, the subsidies are strong incentives for continued high rates of fossil fuel consumption by the middle class and the wealthy. Moreover, indirect subsidies, such as society paying for the high health care costs of coal power pollution are not considered by the IEA report. The extremely high costs of military action by the United States to secure middle east oil supplies is also not considered.

Fossil fuel subsidies are distorting markets, impeding change to clean energy.

Direct subsidies to fossil fuels are six times greater than direct subsidies to renewable energy according to the IEA. Because these figures don't consider the environmental costs of fossil fuel burning, the hidden subsidies (economic externalities) are far higher.

Fossil-fuel consumers worldwide received about six times more state subsidies last year than were given to the renewable-energy industry, according to the chief adviser to oil-importing nations.

Aid to cut the price of gasoline, gas and coal rose by more than a third to $409 billion as global energy prices increased, compared with $66 billion of support for biofuels, wind power and solar energy, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said today in its World Energy Outlook.

While fossil fuels still meet the majority of world energy demand, the subsidies are “creating market distortions that encourage wasteful consumption,” the agency said. “The costs of subsidies to fossil fuels generally outweigh the benefits.”

The United States and the world need to change energy policies in less than 5 years to charge for the full costs of fossil fuels and to increase incentives to renewable energy sources to avoid a climate catastrophe. Renewable energy is jobs intensive but cheap on resource consumption. Subsidies for domestic renewable energy will build good, stable American jobs and will help revitalize our economy.

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 07:48 AM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (169+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonyahky, blue aardvark, skillet, evelette, VA Breeze, War on Error, blue jersey mom, blueoasis, mwmwm, Randtntx, DSC on the Plateau, Wee Mama, Zydekos, Pithy Cherub, jayden, Mary Mike, david mizner, palantir, bluicebank, samanthab, I C Mainer, angry marmot, BoogieMama, A Siegel, Matt Esler, yawnimawke, Gowrie Gal, Joieau, psilocynic, pioneer111, beforedawn, Larsstephens, parse this, sleipner, LaFeminista, where4art, Horace Boothroyd III, anodnhajo, greenbastard, DWG, SpecialKinFlag, Paul Ferguson, LSmith, Andhakari, Onomastic, New Minas, millwood, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Pescadero Bill, kamarvt, Meteor Blades, OpherGopher, kharma, lgmcp, John DiFool, Hear Our Voices, offgrid, BrowniesAreGood, mahakali overdrive, Trotskyrepublican, Snud, RLMiller, scarvegas, bibble, No one gets out alive, Statusquomustgo, Fish in Illinois, greenomanic, pixxer, petulans, greengemini, koNko, blackjackal, adrianrf, science nerd, davidincleveland, ferg, praenomen, Geenius at Wrok, SeaTurtle, WarrenS, G2geek, divineorder, rhubarb, hyperstation, drnononono, Gorette, paradise50, expatjourno, tytalus, Dauphin, HeyMikey, RageKage, RunawayRose, OldGrammy, mofembot, Ed in Montana, An Affirming Flame, notdarkyet, asym, Michael91, Danno11, MikePhoenix, Steven D, bythesea, DEMonrat ankle biter, Dumas EagerSeton, muddy boots, Grassroots Mom, murasaki, cocinero, Maggie Pax, occams hatchet, Ashaman, beefydaddy18, Magnifico, tacet, mikeconwell, buckstop, BachFan, Miss Jones, TomFromNJ, Dianna, Catskill Julie, RMForbes, Earwicker23, YucatanMan, DIYer, ask, Quilldriver, dewley notid, vidanto, Outsourcing Is Treason, cpresley, pgm 01, Evolutionary, fumie, Amber6541, carolyn urban, StrayCat, citisven, vacantlook, JohnB47, Mimikatz, Seamus D, zerone, billlaurelMD, dougymi, Sunspots, bread, Lily O Lady, The Wizard, Regina in a Sears Kit House, JuliaAnn, dwahzon, One Pissed Off Liberal, BalanceSeeker, denise b, BYw, Louisiana 1976, JayDean, jamess, radical simplicity, Oh Mary Oh, nailbender, PeterHug, Fiona West, joedemocrat, victoria2dc

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 07:48:23 AM PST

  •  Propose ending all subsidies for any energy (46+ / 0-)

    production or use, so the government doesn't pick winners or losers.

    Watch the Republicans lose their minds.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 07:55:32 AM PST

    •  China is subsidizing solar & kicking ass (51+ / 0-)

      Yep, we don't have "free markets". "Free Markets" is a sales pitch. We have had 30 years of crony capitalism since Ronald Reagan instituted supply-side, neoliberal economics.

      Another way to blow Republicans' minds is to compare growth rates in socialist China with  our "free markets" in the United States. Or just look at growth in the U.S. in the 50's and 60's before we instituted neoliberal policies.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

      by FishOutofWater on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 08:08:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Important to understand and define ... (23+ / 0-)

      what are "subsidies"?

      Right now, coal and natural gas and oil (to start with) are subsidized with my children's lungs, with sight lines at national parks, with increased risk for climate chaos, etc ...  Eliminating 'subsidies' only the most traditional, stove-piped definition of the term leaves the game advantaged to the fossil-foolish options.

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

      by A Siegel on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 08:37:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  per James Hansen best thing is go Veg! (8+ / 0-)

      It's the fastest and most economical solution with immediate results.

      •  going veg is fine but doesn't do anything (0+ / 0-)

        about coal-fired power plants.

        We need more than individual personal action. Essentially, governments are pushing the fossil fuel choice down our throats by protecting those industries from change.

        We have to do something about that.

        Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 06:02:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i agree about coal fired power plants..But... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayDean

          this is what we need to be doing now:

          Do you really think the political will can be summoned to eliminate coal fired plants in the near future?  We don't have much time

          •  I know and that scares me (0+ / 0-)

            there's plenty of political will, but it's not residing with the politicians--in other words, as on most issues, plenty of political will that isn't getting representation at all.

            Given that our survival depends on getting large-scale changes made, and it's very hard to do that without governments at least cooperating, and given that the government has been refusing to cooperate for more than 25 years, I am getting seriously creeped out here.

            Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 10:07:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Anyone remember this diary? (0+ / 0-)

      Hansen on Warming: We have ONE year, ONE election

      Well, we got the election, but only minor changes in policy. And that was over 3 years ago. So, isn't it over?

      I guess I'm just getting tired of the diary every few months that says we're at a big decision point, and we have to get it right, right now. Only to not get it right and be back at the same "fork in the road" a few months later... and a few months later...

      It's no secret. Global warming is going to continue. We should continue to pursue avenues to mitigate it, but as a whole, it will happen. We do not have the capability of stopping it. Trying would involve massive costs. Energy prices would rise dramatically. The poor would not be able to afford energy, and they would suffer and die. In order to get global consensus, the US would have to endure a tremendous decrease in standard of living to put us on par with the rest of the world. It's just not going to happen. The "last chance" we had to stop this was probably decades ago. This type of language isn't appropriate now.

      The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

      by atheistben on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:39:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Global warming is no longer a yes/no issue, (27+ / 0-)

        i.e., "will we warm the globe or will we not?" It's become a "how much" issue. So each election, each pipeline, each coal mine, and each report is a choice between a higher-carbon and a lower-carbon future.

        We cannot prevent warming of 2 degrees C. We can, however, prevent warming of 6 degrees C. 2 degrees is not pleasant - we'll lose some small island countries and the polar bears, among others - but 6 degrees makes half the planet uninhabitable.

        That's why we keep fighting, and why people issue reports. We must not lose hope. We must not give into despair.

        "At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like." - Tim DeChristopher @RL_Miller

        by RLMiller on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 10:06:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  So we should just "stop worrying and learn to love (9+ / 0-)

        the [climate] bomb?"

        No thanks.  I've got kids; and even if I didn't, my secular humanist philosophy demands that I continue to take part in the fight against the impending climate crisis--even if it is a seemingly hopeless battle.

        •  No. Like I say, (0+ / 0-)
          Global warming is going to continue. We should continue to pursue avenues to mitigate it, but as a whole, it will happen.

          I'm not saying stop worrying about it. I'm saying, our efforts are now relegated to a mitigation role rather than a preventative role. We should focus our efforts on rolling with the punch rather than blocking it.

          The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

          by atheistben on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 11:37:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We need to do both. (3+ / 0-)

            Yes, a certain (horrifying) level of global warming is already "baked in the cake;" but, it is an ongoing barrage of punches, and we need to block as many as possible.

            To continue the boxing analogy, it is as if each match (set of punches) causes a new concussion; the cumulative effect is disastrous.  We've all seen what happened to The Greatest after a career full of those.

          •  Since it appears that scientists seem to be (0+ / 0-)

            predominately not-Republican, maybe WE can work with them to figure out at least how those of us that ARE listening to them can survive and move our families to the safest places in which to begin again.

            #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

            by Evolutionary on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 02:56:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  no, actaully it wouldn't involve massive costs (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Evolutionary, FishOutofWater

        As noted repeatedly, sustainable energy in many instances costs less than fossil fuels, especially once subsidies are removed.

        No one but the fossil fuel industry has produced credible analyses suggesing that costs would rist dramatically.  

        For example, I just signed up to switch from existing fossil fuel energy mix to 100% renewables.  100%.

        the increase costs are $0.01 per kWH.  According to my new utility:

        For the average family of 4, the total additional cost for Deep Green is approximately $5-$10 per month.

        Yes, at an extra $120 a year, max, the poor won't be able to afford energy.  

        And if we were to introduce a carbon tax that goes to subsidies for the poorest, a zero carbon future might be a benefit to the poorest (without even talking about how the biggest health impacts fall on the poor as well now).

        Please, let's stick with reality, shall we?

        Intelligent, passionate, perceptive people will always disagree, but we should not let that disagreement, however heartfelt, lead us to become deaf to those better angels of our nature.

        by Mindful Nature on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 02:10:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Moreover, we create American jobs (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SouthernLiberalinMD, JayDean

          with that extra $120 per year. Those dollars and jobs are for maintaining the system of renewable energy instead of paying for fossil fuel.

          The additional jobs pay taxes that pay for government services that create more jobs.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

          by FishOutofWater on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 04:10:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm afraid Jim Hansen was right. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RLMiller, JayDean, mightymouse

        I suspect the IEA is a bit late.

        However, as other commenters have already said in other words, there are degrees of Hell.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

        by FishOutofWater on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 04:06:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  True, they would. LOL! But so would I, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, Miss Jones, Evolutionary

      given that picking the winner should actually be the role of government. Trains should win. Solar heating should win. Wind should win. Then we all win.

      "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

      by pixxer on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 10:15:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The most imp strategy is not being discussed (10+ / 0-)

      ... pretty much in any diary that I have read discussing the dire predictions of all facets of this problem.

      Switching subsidies to green power is a good thing to do, as are many other strategies.

      However, if things are as desperate as many reputable scientists have reported, the most important thing to do is to go on a massive 'win the minds and hearts of the public' campaign.  IMO, we lost the 'hearts and minds' when Exxon/Koch et al swiftboated Gore and his work.

      We have to redo that battle and this time we must win it.  We need to go beyond discussing solid scientific information.   But to get some real 'traction for action' we need to do a massive campaign of 'winning the minds and hearts of the public.'

      If we really only have 5 years, we must mobilize all our resources  simultaneously.  We have to flood all types of new social media and regular media, trying to bypass the msm, because they will try to bring this down.

      The type of things that I am talking about are:

      1) Make major appeals to movie makers (not just the valuable Michael Moore type,) but the 'story line' type which can show what the consequences can be for inaction.  Yes, that has been done, in some part, with 'Day After Tomorrow', "2012" but what about some movies about the true story of the struggle of 'dirty energy' to discredit climate reports?  

      2) In line with that, why not recruit singers and songwriters?  Protest songs were the backbone of the 60's movements;  why not utilize that again?

      3) I would also issue a new appeal to citizen protestors to start to start doing physical 'sit-ins' at dirty sites; the Tar Sands protests do seem to be doing some good.  

      4) There is a new game afoot with OWS and many of those people are deeply concerned about climate change.  We need to majorly tap into this.

      It will be difficult to overcome the inertia of a public that has been brainwashed into just dismissing all this climate talk as 'chicken little,' and who don't care as long as they have their iPhones and games and access to unlimited electricity.  

      So, these are the types of things that I think would help.  Maybe others would have other ideas.  Graphs and documentation are always important, but we have to go to the public with the message in a way that will capture not only their minds but their hearts, through story and depictions of what can be expected to happen.  Once we have woken the public up, then WE WILL HAVE THE TRACTION FOR ACTION that we need.  Some serious action.

      And of course, we must also be realistic, we will have to fight like tooth and nail each step of the way against the cannibalistic appetites of the insatiable and rabid plutocracy WHO tries to eat us up and spit us out, and don't give a shit about tomorrow.

      (This climate issue is very much on the edge of my consciousness since I have just 'survived' 6 days without heat/electricity/landline phone.  When the temp was low 50's in the house, it was very difficult and very, very stressful.  I managed to adapt and find ways to cope.  But the grim thought came to me that I believe that these massive power outages will be a thing of the future and that I had better start to prepare.  And that was only the stress of cold.  I had a shorter experience last summer of power outages in the heat, and more recently a couple of days thanks to Irene.  I got a new appreciation of the difficulty with food supply and the innumerable ways that I depend on water.  OK. Enough rambling.)

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 11:37:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're right that we need stories, images, sharing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SeaTurtle

        of experiences, as well as facts and graphs, in order to move people to change both their political stances and their personal lives.

        So far, that's been more successfully done with animals than people.  Say "climate change," and people think "polar bears!"

        We need to keep publicizing the effects on animals, you bet.  But we need news coverage and short films on the internet about people in the American West fighting wildfires that burn hotter than they used to, about people who've faced two "hundred year floods" in the space of 6 years, about the heartbreaking drought in Australia that may in fact be the new normal climate, about places in Bangladesh where the water is getting too brackish to drink...  etc.   We need feature films, articles, little clips on Youtube, story archs on TV shows, "nature specials," etc.

        We need to show both the losses and people fighting to save what they love.  What can still be saved.  If we don't show people still fighting -- and sometimes winning -- we'll only feed despair.

        One can build a reasonable case for despair.  BUt it's not what we need.

  •  We (USA) shall lead from behind. (3+ / 0-)
  •  Those DFHs at the IEA (5+ / 0-)

    what do they know?

  •  "irreversible" is a bit of an overstatement. (11+ / 0-)

    Five, six million years from now, who knows?

  •  Thanks for a good summary and update. (10+ / 0-)

        This is frightening when we are still arguing about the XL Pipeline as a conceivable project.  

    Bush hijacked the US with lies about 9/11 and crashed it into Iraq, killing over 500,000 human beings. So far, he's avoided arrest and prosecution.

    by Zydekos on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 08:14:09 AM PST

  •  Thank you for calling attention (11+ / 0-)

    Note that you left out link to Guardian article

    And, ps, x-posted to GESN.

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

    by A Siegel on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 08:36:04 AM PST

  •  The current data is worse tha the worst case (15+ / 0-)

    scenario

    WASHINGTON: The global output of carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the US Department of Energy has calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

    Time is not on our side

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 08:54:47 AM PST

    •  And the current data have repeatedly... (17+ / 0-)

      ...been worse than the previously predicted worse case scenario for the past 15 years.

      The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:20:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Still think we can afford to shut down nukes? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, pgm 01

      No matter how fast we spin up renewables, every nuke plant taken offline requires a coal plant to remain online.  How many coal plants will keep burning in countries around Germany that could have instead used German nuke electricity and shut down coal plants?  Won't happen now.

      •  Germany aims at (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maggie Pax, pgm 01

        having all electricity production renewable by 2050. They are not stupid.

        Whether they manage, remains to be seen, scepticism is certainly appropriate. But they have made a definitive policy choice when the conservatives gave up their resistance against renewables, and this is no matter of window dressing.

        It also better not be because it is one of the few serious efforts that we have at all on the world to try and lead by example. Japan may follow. But it may all be too late, and growth in the developing world together with intransingence of the US would be enough to by now to destroy the worlds carbon quite regardless of what countries like Germany do.  

        •  I think Norm's point is that if Germany can get (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Norm in Chicago, marsanges

          all its electricity through renewables, its nuke plants should still stay on line and provide the electricity to allow coal plants to be shut down in Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, etc.  Believe me, the less prosperous countries in Europe aren't going to be totally on renewables by 2050.

          Coal burning plants should be shut down first; then nuclear -- probably in another generation.  Because something like Fukushima is a terrible threat which might or might not happen again in the next generation.  But run-away climate change is an even worse threat, and it's happening, guaranteed, right now.

          I hate that reality.  But I think it's the truth.

      •  Possibly. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SouthernLiberalinMD

        I would shut down the sources as follows, coal, oil, natural gas and then if possible nuclear.  However, our nuclear plants should not be running beyond their design lifetimes or in any ways that could lead to a disaster.  I would argue the first step is not to shut off, but to turn on as much renewable in as many places and as fast as possible.  

        The power outage in the northeast has quite a few people thinking about what it would take to move their house off the grid.  That is still expensive, just not as prohibitively expensive as it was.  If every home produced even half of its electricity usage, we would be well on our way to solving things.  The solar technology prices are dropping, the battery prices are not dropping fast enough, however.  Instead of arguing about nukes we need to be encouraging the growth of wind and solar.

  •  Obama grants MORE offshore drilling (11+ / 0-)

    in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.
    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    This man should not be running again.

  •  Thank you for the diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle

    I appreciate it

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:00:16 AM PST

  •  ESAS (4+ / 0-)
    Skeptics will likely still claim for a while that global warming is not caused by us. They are wrong, but might soon be right: that is, if we let the arctic continue melting, and the methane stored in the Eastern Siberian shelf come out, the problem won't have much to do with us any longer, as even just a few percent of it would swamp all attempts to control warming, shifting the planet rapidly to a new state.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

    Current methane release has previously been estimated at 0.5 Mt per year.[12] Shakhova et al. (2008) estimate that not less than 1,400 Gt of Carbon is presently locked up as methane and methane hydrates under the Arctic submarine permafrost, and 5-10% of that area is subject to puncturing by open taliks. They conclude that "release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage [is] highly possible for abrupt release at any time". That would increase the methane content of the planet's atmosphere by a factor of twelve.[13]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

  •  On climate we have come to several forks...h (11+ / 0-)

    ...in the road and taken the wrong fork. The question now is: How long before climate change sticks the final fork in us?

    The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

    by Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:18:09 AM PST

  •  Personally I feel the tipping is well past (6+ / 0-)

    particularly given the curious weakness in human nature, alluded to in my sig line.  

     If we were LESS congenitally optimistic and hopeful, perhaps we would be MORE aware of our collective peril ... but then again, perhaps also more demoralized and unnecissarily parylized by that understanding.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:23:25 AM PST

    •  I tend to agree. The permafrost areas of (8+ / 0-)

      many northern latitudes are thawing. There will be no global cooling to refreeze it.

      Such feed-back loops, that will naturally contribute to and exacerbate climate change, are beyond the ability of human influence to shut down.

      I think we have to look at it as a done deal. Not to address this problem early on is perhaps the biggest failing of human kind.

      It's a terrible thing we've done. Thinking on it, I've come to the conclusion that the generations of Americans to follow will be staggeringly insecure compared to our lives. Where are the parents in this...political debate?

      •  Shaking their heads and trying (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb, G2geek

        not to think about it.

        I honestly believe that a majorit of climate-change deniers are expressing their wish, not their private understanding.  In their hearts they know well that harsh changes lie ahead, and it is a pure choice to whistle past the graveyard and make hay while the sun shines.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:51:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Funny how subsidies for fossil fuels (9+ / 0-)

    are protected by the very same people who worship the "free market."

    One factor that is pushing us into climate chaos is the fact that the supply of conventional crude oil is rapidly depleting and being replaced by unconventional fluids derived from tar sands and oil shale. The carbon footprint of these unconventional fluids is at least 25% higher than conventional crude. It is not simply that we are locking ourselves into business as usual. We are locking ourselves into cycle of ever more expensive and ever more polluting sources of oil instead of pushing cleaner alternatives to oil as the basis for our transportation systems. Subsidies are a big part of make this foolish fuel choice.

    It is hard to see how we rapidly pivot to clean energy with our government corrupted by fossil fuels companies. It is not hard to imagine CO2 levels stabilizing over 800 ppm. What is even harder is to get people to imagine just unpleasant the climate will be under those conditions.

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:40:00 AM PST

  •  Carbon Tax (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adrianrf

    If we replaced all taxes with a carbon use tax, we could accomplish many useful goals.

    I am of the opinion that nothing will be done, and we will all suffer the consequences.

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

    by No one gets out alive on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:52:25 AM PST

  •  The door is still open? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mindful Nature

    Aren't we already passed the point where we are seeing irreversible devastating climate changes? What are all those debris fields I keep seeing on the nightly news? The IEA is more optimistic than I am. There's no way we as a species can change the fossil fuel based global economy around in 5 years to avoid further calamity.

  •  Actually, we have overshot by a mile (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, dewley notid

    Or a thousand miles, if we consider the inertia that needs to be overcome, and sadly, not likely to get much attention this year.

    Hate to say this, but Durban is a wash.

    My question is what do you think happens if Obama is re-elected, does that help?

    I know what happens if a Republican wins: the Rest of the World gives-up on the US and moves on, albeit with a lot of lame excuse-making and finger pointing back at the US.

    But I wonder what happens if he wins.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 10:23:03 AM PST

    •  what happens if he wins: (7+ / 0-)

      First, the day after election day November 2012, we have to deluge the White House with so much email that their server backs up, bogs down, and melts into a puddle on the rack.  The message should be really simple:  As with FDR, if you want to do it, we're here to make you do it.

      Second, a million or two million of us need to show up at the inaugural on 20 January 2013, wearing bright green T-shirts that simply have "99%" written on them in the biggest possible lettering.

      Every photo of the crowd at inauguration, no matter by whom or shown where, should be unambiguous in showing that color green as the predominant color in the crowd.  

      Third, the day after inauguration day, Occupy Congress should begin, with wave after wave after wave of well-trained nonviolent civil disobedience sit-ins in every single office in both the House and the Senate.  These protests should be orderly, polite as can be, and utterly relentless.  The goal should be to have thousands of people cited and released for trespassing every single day, and a different batch of thousands each day.  

      Fourth, the migration of money that began a few days ago, need to become a tsunami that sinks the bankster-banks in a flood of their own red ink, and shifts the peoples' capital to the high ground of community credit unions.  

      Fifth, the email flood of the White House and Congress has to continue unabated, until their cost of upgrading servers and storage drives becomes a separate line item in the federal budget.   Along with that, a deluge of phone calls to the point where the entity formerly known as Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone has to build enough new circuit capacity to make a measurable dent in regional unemployment.  

      Sixth, similar floods to local, regional, and national media.  

      Seventh, the biggest grassroots energy conservation effort since World War II.   The way to shut down the coal plants is to make them unnecessary.  The way to de-fang the oil industry is to conserve to the point where the price of gasoline drops by half due to decline in demand.

      These are the kinds of things we the people will have to do in order to make it crystal clear to our elected officials that we mean business and we will not take No or even Maybe for an answer.

      The question is, are we here up to organizing that, and keeping it going come hell or high water, regardless of distractions, regardless of anything else?  

      Ultimately this has to do with the very real threat of human extinction.  If there was ever an issue that should motivate the masses to move mountains, that has got to be the one.  Otherwise, we will deserve what we get, which will be the end of us.  

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

      by G2geek on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 11:33:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are too many people to exist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maggie Pax

    without the very technology that causes this problem.

    Which means we need to employ knowledge as diligently as possible to save as much and as many as possible.

    Becase if the complex kludged-together system breaks down, we could see a very, very nasty population crash - and the first signs of it are already upon us with the food price-related uprisings in the Middle East.

    I would dare say a 50% dieback by 2200 is the best possible scenario at this point... and a 99.9% wipeout by that same date is in the cards too.

    I didn't test even more severe scenarios - I didn't have to. At that 99.9%  level, the human population of the planet falls down to a slow glide all the way to zero within four hundred years.

    The 'relatively benign' 50% dieback level represents an eventual fallback to about 1.5 billion and then roughly steady.

    I suppose we have five years, tops, to secure that outcome.

    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cskendrick, Paul Ferguson

      Although we have to keep fighting to reduce emissions, it is also time to recognize the disaster headed our way. It is time to triage. We have to decide what to protect, and what to let go. We have to create transition communities, arks (if you will) of knowledge: art, science, technology, biodiversity. I fear that we have doomed ourselves and our children to a nightmare. Keep fighting; find like-minded folk to help. Study zen. Remember to love and laugh and cherish what we have. Fight to preserve so sort of future for our children. Act to earn the forgiveness we do not deserve.

      Grim, I know, but the only way to get to the other side is to acknowledge reality and work harder.

      Peace

      "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

      by Maggie Pax on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 01:15:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, no one in power gives a shit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid, mightymouse

    And here I grew up thinking we'd nuke ourselves to extinction...

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 11:03:48 AM PST

  •  Turn your thermostats back. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid

    We can't rely on our politicians so we're gonna need to do it ourselves.

    If Kasich says State Troopers are assholes, What does that make me?

    by buckshot face on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 11:09:24 AM PST

  •  all universities need to pull support of RW radio (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hyperstation, mightymouse

    immediately.

    RW radio is instrumental for continuing the denial and enabling the deniers. i just heard another fawning interview on colorado's largest radio station of that motherfucker from the kato institute, pat something, on the same station that broadcasts colorado football.

    no university should have a legitimate excuse for continuing any association with denial radio. students and faculty and communities need to get on this ASAP.

    RW radio cannot survive a large scale withdrawal of univ sports - those associations bring community necessary credibility and ad money.

    Progressives will lose all major messaging battles until they picket the limbaugh/hannity megastations and boycott those stations' local sponsors.

    by certainot on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 11:43:27 AM PST

  •  It's going to be a wild ride. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid, mightymouse

    I'm not optimistic of our ability to overthrow global capitalism inside five years.  Who knows, maybe we'll surprise ourselves and bring it all down by next Christmas! :-)  But if we don't, we're in for a wild ride in this changed climate.

    The politics of direct action is based, to a certain degree, on a faith that freedom is contagious. - David Graeber

    by An Affirming Flame on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 11:57:52 AM PST

  •  I don't believe anything significant (0+ / 0-)

    will be achieved. We are going to blow past the 2.6°C mark on our way to 5. One of the issues we face is that all the green technology in the world can't get you past the fact that we are at 7 billion people today on our way to 9 billion. The math of the situation is brutally simple. People who say that we have some last chance are kidding themselves; we don't. We passed the Last Chance Saloon a while back.

  •  TWO degrees C. temperature rise? NOT! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady, The Wizard

    You must be reading the old, optimistic, badly-researched IPCC climate report of 2000...latest estimates I've heard is for a 5 to 9 degree C. rise by 2100.
    Now, that means average temperature rise. And since the poles heat up to 5 times more than the equatorial regions we're talking the eventual eliminaton of all polar ice and the northern tundras. (can you say "massive methane release"?)
    This is all going to happen unless an asteroid hits earth and blows away most of civilization and a lot of the human race. Otherwise, most sweeping technological changes take almost a generation to really take hold and have an effect. This means even if we started TODAY to end our carbon addiction -- and no one has come up  with a  suitable "fix" for that except drastically reducing our energy consumption  world-wide -- it would be 30-40 years of business as usual, more than enough time to put all the CO2 into the air needed to drastically change weather and climate on earth.

    The people demand the fall of this regime ...

    by fourthcornerman on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 01:09:42 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this posting Fish. Someone else (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid, Chi, mightymouse

    posted something similar earlier today.

    Sadly:

    The United States and the world need to change energy policies in less than 5 years to charge for the full costs of fossil fuels and to increase incentives to renewable energy sources to avoid a climate catastrophe. Renewable energy is jobs intensive but cheap on resource consumption. Subsidies for domestic renewable energy will build good, stable American jobs and will help revitalize our economy

    Ain't. Gonna. Happen.  Certainly not in any meaningful way.  The time to make changes to make the difference for an entire living, breathing planet was decades ago.

    And now Mother Earth is about to be gutted yet again with Tar Sands?  And that's just ONE of many ways She is being assaulted, raped and left for dead.

    I'm half Native American and the Indian side of my people revered, honored, respected Mother Earth.  They did treat Her as a living, breathing, deity-like entity that blessed them with Her great gifts of sun, water, air, earth (soil), and use of other forms of Nature as foodsource.  If we took, we also didn't plunder to extinction.  I just get sick with this looter's, murderous, greed-poisoned mentality the world over.

    The great irony is all She would have to do is "hiccup" us out of existence.  Mother Nature/Planet Earth can do WITHOUT US - but we can't to WITHOUT PLANET EARTH.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid...

    When everybody talkin' all at once no one can hear the wise one speak, So just be still and silence will provide the wisdom that you seek - by Tori del Allen

    by Dumas EagerSeton on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 01:20:44 PM PST

  •  Ok suppose trends continue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid, Chi
    If current trends continue, and we go on building high-carbon energy generation, then by 2015 at least 90% of the available "carbon budget" will be swallowed up by our energy and industrial infrastructure. By 2017, there will be no room for manoeuvre at all – the whole of the "carbon budget" will be spoken for, according to the IEA's calculations.
    Birol's warning comes at a crucial moment in international negotiations on climate change, as governments gear up for the next fortnight of talks in Durban, South Africa, from late November. "If we do not have an international agreement, whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door to [holding temperatures to 2C of warming]

    At what year do we start worrying about a 3C not 2C increase in heat? What happens at 3C. I ask because Canada's tar sands production of CO2 will likely increase once Obama approves that oil pipeline.

  •  We could significantly reduce our fossil fuel use (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Things Come Undone, Chi

    and increase our forest acreage to actually reduce atmospheric carbon if we grew hemp as a major rotation crop in America or better yet, worldwide. Hemp is four times more efficient converting solar energy through photosynthesis into usable biomass energy than any other commercially viable crop. Nearly all the paper and building materials now produced by harvesting trees could be replaced with hemp fibers. Hemp produces up to 10 tons of high energy hemp biomass in as little as 100 days.
    An acre of hemp will produce more usable short fiber pulp than four acres of old growth forest while requiring only a fraction of the air and water polluting caustic chemicals to finish the pulp into superior paper products than softwood forest fibers. It takes decades for a forest to regrow. It's shameful that we Americans continue to cut down our forests to produce toilet tissue to be flushed away when we could be using a superior and far greener product. Hemp is a naturally decentralized product, we don't need to have huge factories processing the fiber into salable products. We could have thousands of small local factories producing energy and products in local communities close to the hemp fields. This would not only reduce transportation costs but would also produce millions of living wage jobs producing the more than 25,000 superior products that can be made better with hemp.
    An acre of hemp can produce up to 100 gallons of ethanol and another 15 gallons of hemp seed oil biodiesel up to three times a year without the sulfur and 85% less CO2 than fossil fuels. If we allowed our farmers to plant hemp just on the lands they normally leave unplanted each year we could produce enough advanced biofuels to replace all the energy produced by coal fired electrical generators and all the foreign oil we now import. The hundreds of billions of dollars we now send to foreign oil producing nations would instead be circulating around our new greener domestic economy. We could leave most fossilized carbon in the ground, we can grow more than enough green biomass energy if we end the stupid prohibition against cannabis.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 01:49:15 PM PST

    •  Ok how many acres of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RMForbes

      Hemp do we have to grow to stop global warming assuming we keep increasing our CO2 at the current trend and assuming tar sands in Canada go into increased production?

      •  That would require a world wide effort (0+ / 0-)

        but we could replace most of our fossil fuel consumption with high energy hemp biomass fuels to become completely energy independent and stop using coal by putting 6% of American lands or 15% of current American farmlands under year round hemp production. Today more than 15% of our farmlands remain unplanted every year. That would also produce enough hemp short fiber pulp to replace much of softwood fiber paper production with superior hemp paper products which require only a fraction of the caustic chemicals to process the fiber into paper.
        We don't need dirty coal and we don't need to release the carbon sequestered millions of years ago from tar sands or sweet crude into today's atmosphere. Hemp produces at least 40% more ethanol per acre than corn without the needed chemical fertilizers/pesticides and about half the water too. Instead the same factories that would be needed to separate the bast fibers from the short fiber pulp to create the raw materials for the more than 25,000 products that can be made better with hemp could also generate electricity from the heat generated while converting hemp biomass into advanced biofuels. When our nation was new hemp was a most important commodity, it is even more important today.

        Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

        by RMForbes on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 03:50:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Change MUST come (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Things Come Undone, mightymouse

    Unfortunately, a lot of teens I talk to ask me "Do you still believe in that global warming thing?" No, it seems the public is - unfathomably - still of the belief that global warming is this elaborate scheme made up by those evil scientists. Muhahaha.

    Seriously, though, until public opinion gets on the side of "yes, it's happening", nothing's going to happen. We need to convince people, but unfortunately the big oil companies are too powerful. If only people could actually, you know, THINK for themselves and look at the mountain of evidence.

    15 years old and a proud progressive and Phillies phan.

    by vidanto on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 02:07:02 PM PST

    •  Its not just the kids its the adults. (0+ / 0-)

      However they will point to worse snowstorms as proof of their position never mind overall the earth is getting warmer as evidenced by melting polar ice caps.
         Just respond by pointing out the ice caps are melting. Point out that heat is energy and well imagine a release valve on a pressure cooker when its boiling when you release the valve hot steam comes out now release the valve next to a ten pound block of ice you will get cooled air loaded with moisture.
           Global Warming is energy heat as hot air goes past cold ice it contracts because we now have more hot air we have more wind that makes storms like hurricanes worse and means winter storms from the north pole have faster winds to push them south in winter.
         These increased winds are causing sandstorms in America and drought in Texas.
          If the other kids argue with you without facts just tell them they are proof Darwin was wrong.
           Then ask them to bet that despite the winter this year will end up being one of the top 10 hottest years on record.
           Tell them you will pay double if this year is one of the top 20 coldest years on record globally.
            Make the bet public if you can tell your teacher about the bet and ask why isn't global warming taught more as part of  science class. See if you can get the teacher to get the whole class involved in the bet.
          Then have the teacher point out how many times over the last 20 years they would have lost the bet:)
           

  •  We are so screwed because our "leaders" (0+ / 0-)

    are a$$holes who only care about enriching themselves.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 04:53:34 PM PST

  •  Oh God. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse

    It's the governments protecting the oil and coal industries that's causing this.

    And we haven't been able to make an impact through normal means.

    What can we do?

    Massive civil disobedience?  General strikes?  Occupying gov't buildings?

    I don't like the way my thoughts are going on this.

    Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 06:01:02 PM PST

  •  You want to stop GW? Nukes, clean coal and ethanol (0+ / 0-)

    from cellulose. Clean coal is coal with CO2 sequestration producing electricity or hydrogen.
    Nukes is breeder reactors as the world is running out of uranium.
    Lots of land producing CO2 negative energy crops.

    The windmills, solar, geothermal amounts to almost nothing.

    But that's not what you want to hear, right?

  •  We're living the answer to Fermi's Paradox (0+ / 0-)

    otherwise known as, "If there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, why hasn't it visited Earth?"

    Short answer: there isn't, because once it evolves to the technological level it quickly pollutes itself into extinction.

    It appears that "intelligence" is not, after all, a long-term survival characteristic.

    If it's
    Not your body
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    AND it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 04:02:44 PM PST

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