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One lesson that most of us humans, individually and institutionally, seem to have a hard time internalizing is the cost of deferred maintenance.

That applies to everything from fixing bridges to getting more exercise. Delaying means damage. Combining heavy use with the impacts of the elements and age and buildings will deteriorate, roads crumble, bodies weaken. Wait long enough before initiating preventive maintenance and only extraordinary repairs will patch the harm. Wait too long and the consequences will be fatal. The years of deferral finally cause so much damage that no amount of remedial work can mount a rescue. The bridge collapses. The road must be rebuilt, not merely restored.

Deferred maintenance is how we're treating our planet's atmosphere. Despite what we now know to a certainty about the effects caused by pouring billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the air every year, we just keep doing it—at an increasing level—and making all kinds of rationalizations for not stopping. Meanwhile, the percentage of one of those gases in the atmosphere—carbon dioxide—is higher than it's been since Homo erectus was the most common human species on the planet 830,000 years ago.

The authors of the final volume of the Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change don't think our past unwillingness to take serious action has created an irreparable situation ... yet. But that time is not far away. The IPCC's Working Group III, which released the 37-page summary of its Mitigation of Climate Change Sunday, has concluded that we have to make changes and make them fast if we're going to prevent even more devastating impacts of climate change than the panel says are already happening or in the pipeline.

“We cannot afford to lose another decade,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.” [...] “There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual.”
The climate change deniers—both the ignoramuses who really believe humans aren't causing climate change and the policy-making marionettes of the plutocrats determined to burn every last drop of fossil fuel—are, of course, opposed to any action, much less quick action.

But the delayers are just as bad if not worse. They are the folks who agree that climate change is happening and will get worse but are unwilling to do anything substantial about it just yet. Delay is simply denial in another guise.

Please read below the fold for more analysis on this subject.

If you've even cursorily followed the debate over climate change policy, you know that the delayers are going to spout nonsense about Working Group III's recommendation: Taking action now is too expensive, they will say. It will wreck the economy, destroy jobs and impoverish millions. They seem to believe magic or the Rapture is going to rescue us from this crisis of our own making. Their extraordinarily reckless myopia is an invitation to catastrophe.

Framing isn't going to deliver us from our predicament. But one change in our messaging is needed. We should stop letting the delayers and the deniers call taking action on climate change spending. It is, in fact, an investment, and it ought to be characterized that way.

According to Working Group III, taking action now to keep us within the 3.6°F average planet-wide temperature rise above the pre-industrial level—the level that scientists believe we can live with, that is needed to avoid worse impacts—would be quite cheap. That's in part because the costs of renewable energy technology—wind, solar, geothermal and others—have fallen dramatically in the past few years after a slow but steady decline over the past three decades.

How cheap? WGIII says it would amount to about 0.06 percent less consumption growth annually. In other words, average growth of 2.5 percent annually would be cut to 2.44 percent. A rounding error. Total reduction in consumption growth 2015 to 2100? About 5 percent.

But that doesn't take into account the gains from taking action.

As Joe Romm points out, a worldwide "aggressive abatement" of $110 trillion to keep atmospheric CO2 from rising above 450 parts per million would save a "net present value" of $615 trillion to $830 trillion between now and 2100, a six-to-one savings.

That's a six- to eight-fold return on investment.

If we don't take action soon—as in right now—our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have to depend on techniques to remove CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to undo the damage from our deferred maintenance. Will we have technologies to achieve that? Will they be affordable? Will they actually do the job without some unintended consequences that make matters worse? Besides the boneheads and greedheads, who wants to wait to find out?


Laurence Lewis has a discussion of this subject here.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 02:47 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, Climate Hawks, Gulf Watchers Group, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Normally, any business person in their right (15+ / 0-)

    mind would consider an investment that had a 6 to 8 fold return a true "no-brainer."  And the old fashioned small business dominated Main Street Republican and the old fashioned Sierra Club Republican would be DEMANDING such investments.  Unfortunately, today's "Republican" Party is not that Eisenhower 1950s Main Street version.  The Koch brothers have replaced that party with the John Birch Society and "Libertarian" types who think Somalia is the ideal model for America.  Even the most rational appeal to the most rational reasons (save the only planet we have, save money in the process) sails over the heads of these ideologues who appear determined to impose their "right" wing beliefs on us all until they kill us all.  When we're buying clean air in cans like they are in China, or worse, when oxygen is sold like electricity supply (pay up or the oxygen is cut off) from a Koch owned supplier, maybe the dupes populating the "Republican" party will finally realize they have been had.  The only freedom the people running and funding today's Republican Party want is the freedom to separate you from your money without interference from anyone.  Trashing the planet til we can't even breath or drink without paying them is just another business opportunity to these sharks.

    These Republicans have filibustered more . . . while accomplishing less . . . (and) while attempting to block more nominees than any other Congress in the history of our republic--Jon Stewart

    by monkeybrainpolitics on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:07:38 PM PDT

    •  Our economic system as currently (12+ / 0-)

      constructed rewards short-term (the next few quarters) thinking over long-term (the next few decades).

      So it doesn't really matter if an investment would yield an 8 fold return in thirty years when the person making the decision won't be there to get the bonus based on the ROI.

      For politicians who increasingly see their "public service" as a path to personal wealth and power, the math is much the same.  Who really cares about a place in history when K Street checks contain so many lovely zeros?

      "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

      by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:17:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a different but important point (6+ / 0-)

        There are financial interests that see money spent on long-term investment as far less profitable than short-term speculation. And in certain cases, that might well be true, for them (but tell that to Warren Buffet, who became one of the world's richest people through buy and hold).

        But that only concerns investment capital that financial firms posses or have access to themselves, and not government or corporate capital, which I'm guessing still dwarfs bank capital (but, unfortunately, not nearly as much as it used to). A bank can't directly tell politicians or corporate execs how to spend and invest their capital. Unfortunately, they've gotten very good as doing this indirectly, though campaign contributions, threats of running negative ads, and getting more and more control over corporate fiscal policy.

        This has to end. Banks serve economies, not vice-versa.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:39:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Isn't it ironic that one organization, (5+ / 0-)

          the US military, which isn't driven by short-term stock market results, are already investing heavily to get ready for climate change?

          I'm not necessarily a fan of our military complex, but at least they realize their survival depends on looking ahead to the long range future.

          The most violent element in society is ignorance.

          by Mr MadAsHell on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:56:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They are going to be fighting the wars caused by.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            .....climate change.  They've been planning for climate apocalypse since the 1990's.

            The days of Islamic radicals hiding in caves will be a distant (and nostalgic) memory compared to what's coming.  Entire populations are going to be on the move.  Nation states are going to literally disappear

            This space for rent -- Cheap!

            by jds1978 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:53:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You're right on our economic system and (5+ / 0-)

        short-term focus.

        Our political system is the same: "long-term" for an elected official is their term of office - 2, 4, or 6 years as the case may be.

        The most violent element in society is ignorance.

        by Mr MadAsHell on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:54:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The investment needed now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is roughly equivalent to the gross national product of every country on the planet for the next 85 years. If we were willing to say that money isn't a good reason for doing or not doing anything we might survive this.

        It sort of like when you get mugged in an alley and your choices are hand over your wallet and purse, your watch, and all your jewelry or get shot but you draw the line at your wedding rings and thus chose the latter course of action.

        I want you to think about this Jesse, 90 % of our global infrastructure is coastal.

        Based on the IPCC Report V projections the flood plain insurance maps for cat V coastal flood plains are setting rates at $2.10 per hundred dollars of value for the first five miles or so inland and projecting a possible rise of 2 feet in sea levels by 2035.

        We are already locked into that by our failure to take any action so far. By 2050 we could see temperatures increase 2°C from pre industrial temperatures and by 2100 we could see 4°C. Sea level rise would then be measured in meters rather than feet.

        Over 100 East and Gulf Coast cities with populations over 100,000 would not be able to be saved by seawalls or levees and would have to be moved as far inland as the Appalachians or be abandoned to sink beneath the waves along with things like their water and sewage treatment, power plants, utilities, nuclear utilities, roads, bridges, marinas airports, seaports, LPGN and oil terminals, electrical and communications power grids, coal fired utilities and all the stores those populations normally shop at.

        After that things just get worse ever more quickly. So we can do now what we should have done before or we can die in increasingly more miserable ways.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:03:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, that's the investment needed if we delay (0+ / 0-)

          … which would require moving coastal populations miles inland and living with devastated agriculture - that could indeed cost decades of GWP, but that is still avoidable by prudent investment now.  

          The investment needed is very affordable, a few hundred billion a year, especially considering greater avoided costs in the relatively near term from crop failures and more frequent Katrinas and Sandys.  And the investment in clean energy would create millions of jobs and have a positive multiplier effect on the economy.

          Some crop failures and more major floods are already unavoidable, but the difference between multiple disasters and global catastrophe is worth the effort. The big risk is triggering uncontrollable positive feedbacks, such as massive methane release from thawing permafrost, which become increasingly likely if global mean temperature rises more than 2 C.  We are not locked into that scenario, but we are running out of time.

          There's no such thing as a free market!

          by Albanius on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 09:54:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Moving coastal populations inland takes time (0+ / 0-)

            It took us centuries to build the cities we have, takes a quarter century just to design on large highway, water treatment, septic system, nuke plant subway or commuter rail.

            Its just plain wrong to say 2 degrees C is avoidable.
            4 degrees C by the end of the century is optimistic.

            How does spending our gross national product for decades if not centuries seem affordable?

            If we were able to accomplish this at all it would be at the rate of a few tens of billions per city and suburbs, for 100 cities per year just for the infrastructure, and that again to clean up the pollutants left behind, and that again to deal with the utilities, transportation, communications, utilities, energy grids, retail and commercial manufacturing and distribution networks.

            That's trillions with a T not billions with a B.

            We are already locked into the disaster scenario for the next few centuries just by what we have already failed to do. The tipping points will tip, things will get worse for a long time before they get better at all even if there is some chance they might get better.

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 05:14:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  IPCC disagrees with you on the cost of prudence (0+ / 0-)

              See, p. 18 of the new IPCC mitigation report  summary.

              IPCC's best estimate of the cost of holding global mean temp increase to 2C above pre-industrial levels is 0.06% of GWP, not 100.0%.

              I tend to agree with Hansen that +2C is too high; he estimates it could lead to sea level rise of 20m, which would inundate coastal cities in the next few centuries, and that trajectory would devastate agriculture in this century.

              But the cost of more rapid transition to renewables supplies is MUCH less than the cost of adaptation after not doing it.  Solar and wind are already becoming cost competitive; accelerated deployment (together with serious efficiency investments) might cost a few percent of GDP, but most of it would be paid for by avoided fuel costs, and the rest more than paid for by avoided famines.

              There's no such thing as a free market!

              by Albanius on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 07:29:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Our financial system is used to ROIs (7+ / 0-)

      of 10-15% per year.  Work that out to 2100 and you'll see why our one-percenters have zero interest in an eight-fold increase.

      To get that level of investment, you're going to have to eliminate the 1%ers control of government.

    •  It's like Bill Gates refusing to upgrade (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, YucatanMan, James Wells

      Microsoft's PCs more than every 10-15 years because it costs too damn much money. How long would Microsoft last? Less than a Moore cycle.

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:32:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The people with the power don't care. (6+ / 0-)

    We can either take the power from them, or we can seek to persuade them that they ought to care about the fate of humanity.

    Anyone familiar with the general response of kings to peasant petitions shouldn't have to take too long trying to figure out which is more likely to succeed.

    Or we can just accept that billions of human beings are going to die.

    "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

    by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:14:14 PM PDT

  •  sort of like this... (10+ / 0-)

    I was young...but remember the whole hole-in-the-ozone thing...a few scientists warned...had some evidence...industry whined...but the politicians went with the science...saved the ozone...industry adapted...all is well.

    the fossil fuel industry is ubiquitous in our world and lifestyles...the fossil barons are not willing to let go of that power.

    did anybody watch Cosmos last night..??..he spoke of the potential of learning natures secrets of photosynthesis...all fossil fuel research subsidies should be redirected to research such as this and other green tech.

    We are not broke, we are being robbed. ~Shop Kos Katalogue~

    by Glen The Plumber on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:16:24 PM PDT

  •  meanwhile (9+ / 0-)

    fox "news" has an expert who claims solar cooling will drive another ice age!

    (of course, he's an oil and mining ceo)...

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:20:51 PM PDT

  •  They advocate nuclear power, i feel like i'm the (5+ / 0-)

    only one who supports that here.

    •  I do, but Thorium is the way to go. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, jubal8

      China and India agree. They are really cranking up their R&D on this.

      Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

      by Anne Elk on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:37:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But there isn't time for R&D (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, JesseCW, cai

        By the accounts I have read, a prototype thorium reactor will be up and running in China in about 10 years and even that is considered a ‘moon shot’ scale effort. Thorium reactors won’t develop into a widespread technology for another 20 or 40 years after that.

        If you take the urgency in the IPCC report to heart then with regards to nuclear the logical conclusion is to start building new third generation reactors now.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:04:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe, but doesn't it take 10 years for that too? (0+ / 0-)

          Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

          by Anne Elk on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:10:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The R&D is done (0+ / 0-)

          I mentioned below. My understanding is that their design phase has been completed and they are seeking funding to build.

          And because the plant design uses components already approved by the NRC, there shouldn't have to be a huge regulatory delay in approval for construction or operation.

          There are several other teams in the US with thorium reactor designs; the LFTR design being a well-known one. I don't know their current state of progress.

          My δόγμα ate my Σ

          by jubal8 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:15:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The R&D is so very done that China, going (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades, flowerfarmer

            all out, doesn't think they can get a single commercial reactor on-line for 10 years.

            Knowing how nuclear projects tend to miss deadlines, fifteen would be the smart bet.

            "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

            by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:57:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So because China can't get it done sooner, (0+ / 0-)

              having announced their intention 3 years ago, then nobody else can do it? Is there only one possible design? What if some other team had started, say 30 years ago, working on a design?

              My δόγμα ate my Σ

              by jubal8 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:34:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If we're playing "what if", we can ask (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                the question "What if this wasn't the first time people seeking venture capital set up a website massively overselling the current state of their resources and design progress?"

                "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

                by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:58:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Clearly this isn't the venue, (0+ / 0-)

                  at least according to one person, to find support for what many people believe is a promising avenue for zero-carbon-emission energy production.

                  And, at least in this article's comments, according to the fact that nobody has recced any of my posts here. That says something.

                  Nuclear power from thorium. Not a popularly held view at DailyKos.

                  Got it.

                  My δόγμα ate my Σ

                  by jubal8 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:14:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Nuclear power now costs a good deal more (5+ / 0-)

      than wind.

      Money invested in it is simply money better spent elsewhere now.

      The argument is over.

      "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

      by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:48:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Old reactor designs cost more (0+ / 0-)

        Newer designs could be built faster, less expensively, don't need vast amounts of water for cooling (no need to be near lakes, rivers or oceans). Much greater energy density per acre of land use compared to wind or solar.

        One project ( estimates production at $0.04 per kilowatt/hour.

        My δόγμα ate my Σ

        by jubal8 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:07:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Newer designs are always sold as being (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          cost effective.

          Then people try to build them, and the cost over-runs are generally four to ten fold.

          Much greater energy density per acre of land use compared to wind or solar.
          That's clearly very important, since there is so very little land on planet Earth.

          "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

          by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:33:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Of course there will be overruns (0+ / 0-)

            But aren't we about to be overrun by waves of ill effects from climate change?

            That's clearly very important, since there is so very little land on planet Earth.
            It's important when NIMBY is a factor. It's also important in that the designs can be so compact that they could be build on land already used by other generating facilities. This would allow them to use existing power lines to distribute electricity, and even feed steam into already existing turbine plants.

            My δόγμα ate my Σ

            by jubal8 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:43:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes. NIMBY won't be a factor at all with (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jds1978, flowerfarmer

              thorium fuel reactors.

              This diary isn't about the failed and extremely expensive nuclear boondoggle.  

              It's about the challenges of achieving real action on climate change in a time frame that will save lives and, just maybe, save modern civilization (and hopefully improve it).

              China doesn't even hope to put a commercial thorium design on-line until 2025.  And they're on a crash course.  In China, that means largely dispensing with safety considerations.

              We haven't got that long, and we haven't got the resources to throw away.

              "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

              by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:55:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I do too (0+ / 0-)

      ... and have posted this in comments a few times recently.

      There is one effective remedial action that we could be taking immediately -- it is to start building nuclear reactors that use thorium as fuel.

      But... but... but... NUCLEAR!!! Chernobyl!!! Fukushima!!!

      Now I'm not talking about your granddaddy's nuclear reactors, which comprise nearly the entire 'fleet' of designs in operation today. There are modern reactor designs (4th generation) that solve or greatly mitigate the operational risks and failures we all have come to know and dread. And some of these new designs -- based on the use of thorium as the fuel -- offer a multitude of advantages and safety features that accrue throughout the entire process from mining to power generation to decommissioning to waste half-life and storage, and that also greatly reduce the potential for weapons-grade nuclear proliferation.

      And, the US is among the top three countries worldwide for known thorium deposits, with enough to provide near-zero-atmospheric-carbon electricity production for hundreds if not thousands of years.

      While we wait for the technological solutions that renewables promise and the political will to implement them, aren't we causing greater harm?

      Some of the other biggest known deposits are India, Australia, Brazil, Norway. I haven't seen any numbers for China (other than zero -- extremely unlikely), but given the volume of their rare earth deposits (where monazite, a thorium compound, is often found) they my have more than any other country.

      So two (three?) of the biggest polluters have vast reserves of carbon-free fuel for hundreds of years of energy production. We need to rethink nuclear.

      My δόγμα ate my Σ

      by jubal8 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:52:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When we actually have a few of these.... (5+ / 0-)

        ...proving their commercial viability, then you may have a case. But until some are actually in operation over a reasonable period of time to see if they really do solve and mitigate, we need to be pumping billions into renewables, conservation and efficiency. Many claims are made for things not yet built.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:17:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When I look at the severity of the IPCC report (0+ / 0-)

          I think we should be putting at least half of our military budget into anything that will work.

          From Wikipedia:

          In 1973, however, the U.S. government shut down all thorium-related nuclear research—which had by then been ongoing for approximately twenty years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The reasons were that uranium breeder reactors were more efficient, the research was proven, and byproducts could be used to make nuclear weapons. In Moir and Teller’s opinion, the decision to stop development of thorium reactors, at least as a backup option, “was an excusable mistake.”[4]

          Science writer Richard Martin states that nuclear physicist Alvin Weinberg, who was director at Oak Ridge and primarily responsible for the new reactor, lost his job as director because he championed development of the safer thorium reactors.[8][9] Weinberg himself recalls this period:

          [Congressman] Chet Holifield was clearly exasperated with me, and he finally blurted out, "Alvin, if you are concerned about the safety of reactors, then I think it may be time for you to leave nuclear energy." I was speechless. But it was apparent to me that my style, my attitude, and my perception of the future were no longer in tune with the powers within the AEC.[10]

          Martin explains that Weinberg's unwillingness to sacrifice potentially safe nuclear power for the benefit of military uses forced him to retire:

          Weinberg realized that you could use thorium in an entirely new kind of reactor, one that would have zero risk of meltdown. . . . his team built a working reactor . . . . and he spent the rest of his 18-year tenure trying to make thorium the heart of the nation’s atomic power effort. He failed. Uranium reactors had already been established, and Hyman Rickover, de facto head of the US nuclear program, wanted the plutonium from uranium-powered nuclear plants to make bombs. Increasingly shunted aside, Weinberg was finally forced out in 1973.

          My δόγμα ate my Σ

          by jubal8 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:28:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't want to turn this into a re-hashing (0+ / 0-)

            of previous debunking done in nuke centered diaries.

            Here are the basic facts about thorium reactors and thorium fuel cycles for those interested in why the latest nuclear miracle is likely to live up to the hype to exactly the same degree previous nuclear miracles have.


            "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

            by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:51:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Then don't turn it into that. (0+ / 0-)

              Is that one document your basis for denying the potential benefits of thorium reactors? What is the authority for calling their arguments "the basic facts"?

              My δόγμα ate my Σ

              by jubal8 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:28:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Whoa! I thought that any wealth that doesn't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jds1978, James Wells

    flow into the offshorecoffers of the Uberrichen is by definition Evil Socialist Spending!

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:29:24 PM PDT

  •  The 1% are absolutely positive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, YucatanMan, James Wells

    that any climactic damages will not be coming out of their pockets.  Can't say I disagree from what I've seen.

    •  Crisis Capitalism, aka, Shock Doctrine = (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, jds1978, flowerfarmer

      They Win.

      The game is rigged and they rigged it.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:44:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They win.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cai, YucatanMan

        ....for awhile.  There is going to be no escaping the social shit storm if the climate scientists are even half right.  They will have to literally leave the planet.

        Once the social contract is totally broken, no one is going to go to bat for the 1% anymore

        This space for rent -- Cheap!

        by jds1978 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:02:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They will own the armies. They don't need (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          populations going to bat for them, when the own governments and armies.  Seriously.  

          There will be mass chaos overseas, particularly, and the 1% will profit from it. Here in the USA, relatively safe from the worse effects (until or unless the food chain is broken, then all bets are off), they'll toss enough "safety and security" crumbs to the crowds, plus maybe some more channels of free TV. Everyone loves the circus! ;-)

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:39:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Infrastructure IS capital, literally (10+ / 0-)

    Neglect it and its value goes down and effective cost goes up, at a certain point leading to a net loss in overall economic impact and government revenue when compared to the spending that would be needed to maintain it. You really do have to be an economic luddite to not get that.

    Put another way, penny wise, pound foolish, and a false economy is a stupid economy. What we don't want to spend today, we'll end up paying anyway, plus interest, in the negative effects of failing infrastructure.

    The flip side of that is that infrastructure spending, not just on needed maintenance but on expansion and innovation, is economically stimulative, not just in the short but in the long run, if done wisely.

    There is no sound economic argument to be made against either point. Sadly, the other party, and not a small part of ours, is incapable of sound thinking.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:31:11 PM PDT

    •  We forget this way too often, Kovie. (6+ / 0-)

      We start thinking of money, or stocks, or even bonds as "capital", when they're just markers for capital we've agreed to use.

      It's like being in ancient Mesopotamia and confusing the little clay envelope with clay cones in it for the sheep or sheaves or wheat.

      This hit me today when someone made the claim that capital "could easily flee high taxes".

      Most of the really important forms of capital are either impossible or extremely difficult to move at all!

      "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

      by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:36:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sadly, even physical capital can be moved (5+ / 0-)

        By moving their ownership offshore. The Empire State Building can't be moved, but its ownership can be moved from being US to foreign-based (hasn't that actually already happened to it?). Today's lax banking laws allow that.

        I'm guessing that even public infrastructure can be "moved" offshore this way, although I'm not expert enough to know how. But as an example, wouldn't China technically own a non-voting share of our infrastructure through the T-bills they've bought to pay for much of it?. However, their ownership IS non-voting, meaning that they can't (yet) tell us how to spend that money on what infrastructure. But I can see how they someday could, with free trade deals giving them such powers. It's quite scary.

        In any case, the larger point is that money is just one form of capital, that in itself helps no one, because as you said it's just a marker for something of real value. $5 to buy a sandwich doesn't feed you. The sandwich that you bought with it does. If you don't spend that $5, you might be $5 richer, but you'll be $5 hungrier. Do that often enough and you'd die, and all that money you "saved" wouldn't do you any good (but your heirs might appreciate it!).

        No different with infrastructure and other forms of "real" capital. Fail to convert money to enough of it, and your country could effectively die. Economies aren't static. They can't be. If monetary and physical capital aren't converted into each other often and properly enough, the economy will fail.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:48:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  heh. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Do that often enough and you'd die, and all that money you "saved" wouldn't do you any good (but your heirs might appreciate it!).
          If they didn't like ya much ;)

          "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

          by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:51:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  This is a good point. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          YucatanMan, JesseCW, kovie, flowerfarmer

          Here in Southern California, over the last 50 or so years, there's been a fight over the extension of the 710 freeway.  The opponents have defeated the surface version of this project - which would have almost obliterate a small town - and the proponents (basically, Caltrans) are now pushing a very expensive tunnel version, to be funded largely from tolls.

          As more information comes out, it becomes apparent that foreign investment interest may be willing to construct the project, to be paid off by tolls, although the taxpayers would be on the hook if the tolls fall short.  It seems that this project is becoming driven more by the opportunity of the private sector - foreign and domestic - to make considerable profits, and less on the transportation merits of the project itself.

          Infrastructure is capital, but the cost/benefit analysis as to whether the investment is wise still needs to look at non-monetary impacts as well.

          The most violent element in society is ignorance.

          by Mr MadAsHell on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:05:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You don't want me to get started on that one. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mary Mike, flowerfarmer

            Part of me succumbs to pointing out that for 70 years the fine people of Pasadena have been thrilled to see less affluent communities gutted to allow the building of freeways that would connect Pasadena to the rest of Los Angeles, starting with the historic 110.

            When it's their turn to have the heart ripped out of their fine 'burg....things are all of a sudden very different.  Freeways leading to Pasadena are public goods, freeways cutting across Pasadena are blights.

            I'm also aware of the congestion cost of the 710 never being completed, and the fact that massive amounts of truck traffic are being shoved onto the 5 where poor brown kids can suck down the exhaust instead (Yay!  Second highest childhood asthma rates in the nation!  Woo Hoo!), and where overall pollution for the whole LA basin is made worse thanks to needless congestion.

            On the other hand, there has to be a time when the Southland as a whole says "Enough fucking freeways.  Maybe we shouldn't drive every-damn-where.  We can't escape gridlock through more lanes of interstate."

            "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

            by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:12:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Of course, it's much smaller South Pasadena ... (4+ / 0-)

              ...that gets sliced and divided if the 710 is extended. Pasadena would be far less affected.

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:27:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Everything from Columbia on up is Pasadena. (0+ / 0-)

                It's not nothing, and plenty of Pasadenas residents are opposed.

                Of course, comments about affluent suburbs that think freeways are meant to serve them at the expense of others....kinda goes double for South Pasadena.

                "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

                by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:04:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Your last paragraph is spot on. (0+ / 0-)

              That's the line in the sand the opponents are taking.

              Fact of the matter is, you can spend $12B on this fucking tunnel and it'll be a parking lot the day it opens, as will the 210 going both ways.  And the 5 won't be one iota better.  And congestion won't be any better either, so don't kid yourself that the 710 is going to make anything better.  Building more freeways is like dieting by letting your belt out another notch.

              It's time to stop catering to the auto, even if it pisses people off.  

              The most violent element in society is ignorance.

              by Mr MadAsHell on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:41:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Getting half the truck traffic off the 5 (0+ / 0-)

                would easy shit up.

                Build the tunnel, two lanes each way, and limit the damned thing to trucks and busses.  Exhaust would get filtered.  Construction costs would be slashed massively compared to the three lanes each way current proposal.

                Never, ever, ever going to happen.

                Right now, there's a genuine issue.  Through truck traffic  going out and over the grapevine has to move over to the 5, or else take a massive detour via the 605.

                It means a lot of idling diesels.  And that's bad news.

                "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

                by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:10:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Only in the short run, Jesse. (0+ / 0-)

                  In the longer run (say, 5 plus years after the 710) the 5 will be just as congested, with air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions just as bad, and the same will be occurring all over the region as well.  And, no, exhaust will not be completely filtered, there will be exhaust pipes still spewing PM10 and other particles along the route - including right across the street from Huntington Hospital where the 710 would pop out of the tunnel.

                  The 710 is a $12B boondoggle to line the pockets of foreign investors.  What we really need is a new paradigm for moving people and freight (from the ports of LA and Long Beach, the source of much of the 5 freeway's truck traffic).  And it's time, now, to draw that line in the sand and say "no more."  If we're going to move to a new paradigm, then $12B would be a nice down payment.

                  The most violent element in society is ignorance.

                  by Mr MadAsHell on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 08:44:33 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely (0+ / 0-)

            I meant useful, necessary and beneficial infrastructure, because that which is not is a drain on monetary capital and takes away from projects that are these things, and can have negative impacts, such as destroying neighborhoods.

            But, technically, bad infrastructure is still capital.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:15:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Remember that short-term gains come first (5+ / 0-)

    The 6-8 fold ROI is long-term.

    Corporate CEO's and boards are driven by short-term gains.

  •  Count me a pessimist of the most extreme kind. (8+ / 0-)

    Maybe that makes me worse than the delayers. Don't get me wrong; I have pretty much stopped driving a car. I am getting solar panels on my house. I want action as much as anyone. But I see the immense pressure to keep burning fossil fuels on the other side and I can't feel any kind of optimism. We actually are going to lose the next decade. To me, that's just a given.

    Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

    by Anne Elk on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:36:10 PM PDT

    •  I'm not pessimistic. I'm scared. (7+ / 0-)

      It's fucking terrifying.   The people we're confronting have toppled dozens of states in the past to protect their interests.  They've poisoned large chunks of the planet.  They've got not qualms at all about directly causing the deaths of tens of thousands.

      They are ruthless in ways very few Americans - and nearly all of those Americans are immigrants - can really understand.

      We only survive by keeping the grease in the ground.

      What do Transnational Petrochemicals have a history of doing to those who try to restrict their exploitation of fossil fuels?  I mean, really get in their way or try to get a piece of their action?

      However, not confronting them means a billion or more people die.  Likely, few of them in the US.  But famine will absolutely ravage the global south, and likely deeply impact parts of Asia and possibly Eastern Europe.

      "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

      by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:46:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah. That's why I am so pessimistic. (4+ / 0-)

        Although I have to say that I am only pessimistic about humans. I am actually wildly optimistic about life. We are a disaster akin to an asteroid impact, but Earth always comes back and biology always finds a way. In a million years, life will be just as diverse and abundant as it was a million years ago. I also think that life is fantastically abundant all over this Universe and others that may exist. Life, I believe, is an essential component of the universe or multiverse. We are just a little bubble in a vast froth of life.

        Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

        by Anne Elk on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:17:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If carbon dioxide and CO2e remain regulated Clean (5+ / 0-)

    Air Act pollutants [surviving the most recent case before the Supreme Court which media idiots think is no big deal]....


    ...if President Obama's EPA published a rule that clearly established that payment of a per-ton emission fee constituted a non-numeric emission reduction 'work practice' as Best Available Control Technology (BACT)  and/or as a system of best emission reduction by the owner of a major stationary source under New Source Performance Standards.... would then be possible for President Obama's EPA to publish further emissions guidance in rule form requiring states to submit air pollution control plans featuring the establishment of an emissions fee of $25/ton or greater on greenhouse gas emissions with no approval required from Congress.  See the authority in this section of the Clean Air Act.

    See Section 7661a(b).  

    This authority is presently used to collect emission fees on CAA pollutants other than greenhouse gases.

    There are some potential complications to this, of course, but the underlying statutory authority for $25+ per ton emission fees for regulated CAA pollutants is there.

    The determination that paying an emissions fee is an emission control work practice as non-numeric emission limitation and thus should be rendered part of Clean Air Act control technology determinations and necessary Title V fee-based activity is the precipitating element that could make this work to get around certain provisions in Section 7661a(b).

  •  In addition... (7+ / 0-)

    We keep mixing up whether we can "afford" something with currency or financial limitations rather than according to whether the resources are available to accomplish that effort and satisfy the desires of those doing that work for a decent living.

    So, resources to switch to a renewable energy future. (Sort of focused on solar because looking at everything would be a frickin' dissertation...)

    Something like 2% of the solar energy hitting the US would power the entire country. Fossil fuels are for getting from where we are now to that point.

    Labor: (Plenty)
    Lowest labor force participation rate in 40 year. Check.

    Trickier, but silicon is made from sand and we have lots of sand.
    Rare Earth metals and other materials could be

    Human ingenuity:
    How many Phds are out there under-employed as associate professors in fields like materials science, physics, and related fields that would gladly go to work to increase efficiency and reduce material usage for renewable energy.

    Capacity to provide a decent living:
    Well, you don't use the entire unused productive capacity of the country for renewables, the rest do the extra work to support those working on renewables that are now making a decent living and can afford nice things.

    How do we pay for it?  Well, I think of currency as the means a government has to allocate a country's resources for the public good.  So, with plenty of idle people and production, and likely sufficient raw materials government should just spend the currency to put people to work for the public good.  If even after idle resource are used up, there is still the need to redirect more effort toward stopping climate change and renewables, then taxes will have to be raised in order to redirect existing production towards fixing climate change.

    At that point there is a real cost, instead of people being able to get something they want that has nothing to do with fixing climate change, that money will be taxed away in order to free up that production for fixing climate change.  In terms of real stuff, it is an opportunity cost, instead of individuals getting dinner out, a new video game, computer, car, or whatever, we get to stop climate change.

    I suspect in the long run the trade off won't be that great.  Low unemployment with high demand should result in accelerating the current trends towards greater automation.  If some of the research money were also directed towards reducing material footprint of everything, then even that limitation goes away.  Also, working at making people happy via fewer things and more doing things.  More parks, national parks, beaches, vacation time, trails, arts, etc... Things that satisfy people and make them happy with less materials and energy.  Both helps with climate change and provides an outlet for increased demand with less environmental damage.

  •  Now I see where BP's "Run to Fail" (7+ / 0-)

    policy of machine maintenance comes from: it's the way of the monied plutocrats.

    Thanks, MB.

    Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard. Inso­far as corruption cuts the link between political thought and political action, a free marketplace of political ideas loses its point. -- Justice Stephen Breyer

    by Yasuragi on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:09:02 PM PDT

  •  A little off topic... (7+ / 0-)

    But I think it is worth saying. The first three paragraphs of this diary should be acknowledged as some of the finest writing this site has seen.
    Thank you MB.
    And you will have to excuse me, but I need to call a contractor about my roof.

  •  MB, I commend you so much (6+ / 0-)

    for continuously trying to translate into western industrial speak that which is most obvious to any semi-conscious spirit tuned into the workings of Pachamama.

    Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

    by citisven on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:17:35 PM PDT

  •  Investing; Perfect word to use.. (5+ / 0-)

    ..because in order to reduce spending, repair and maintenance is required of most everything. And it's exactly on point for de-bunking of the RWNJ spin

     And with interest rates at the lowest in years, the time is now.
    Also to further de-bunk the republican "spending" slant; the deficit is plummeting along with low interest rates.
    Everyone knows that repairs left un done are much more costly as time goes by and things fall apart. Ignoring a problem and the necessary infrastructure repairs exponentially increases the size and cost of repairing & maintenance.

    And that argument works even before considering the vastly more pressing issue of the climate change. That's just the deferred maintenance on structures and such, not taking care of nature itself.  It directly addresses the emergency of high unemployment. One that the GOP refuse to admit is an emergency to stop emergency unemployment payments to those most in need.


    The climate change deniers—both the ignoramuses who really believe humans aren't causing climate change and the policy-making marionettes of the plutocrats determined to burn every last drop of fossil fuel—are, of course, opposed to any action, much less quick action.
    ..have nothing and no reason to stand in the way. None - imo

    That's the thing we should hammer home - investment -  "penny wise & pound foolish" GOP

    Thx MB

  •  Phillips gets export permit for U.S. crude oil (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Wells, Eric Nelson
  •  Received this today from Sen. Boxer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Meteor Blades

    She's evidently working on it.  Perhaps it is time to add our names, by writing these people.

    Boxer and Whitehouse letter to John Kerry:

    Dear Friend:

    Two leading public health organizations - the American Public Health Association (APHA) and National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) - recently joined me in asking the Obama administration to conduct a comprehensive human health study on the Keystone XL pipeline.  To read the APHA-NACCHO letter, click here.

    We already know that Keystone XL would worsen climate change, but there has not been enough focus on the human health impacts of tar sands oil and the proposed pipeline.  That is why Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and I previously urged Secretary of State John Kerry to not make a decision on Keystone until a thorough study of its human health risks has been completed.


    Barbara Boxer
    United States Senator

    And a copy of the letter they sent to APHA* and sent on to Kerry:
    April 11, 2014
    Sent via facsimile
    The Honorable John Kerry Secretary of State U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520
    Dear Secretary Kerry:
    We write in support of the request of Senators Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse that the U.S. Department of State conduct a comprehensive study of the health impacts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, including a review of the available peer-reviewed research on the health impacts from the processing of tar sands.
    Our organizations support the concept of “health in all policies” and the consideration of potential health impacts in all decisionmaking. There is an increasing recognition that the environments in which people live, work, learn and play have a tremendous impact on their health. The administration will certainly benefit by having a clear understanding of how the proposed Keystone XL pipeline could impact the public’s health, including the health of our most vulnerable citizens.
    The full spectrum of health considerations are often overlooked in important decisions and their omission can lead to policies and practices that are unnecessarily harmful to public health. We thank you for your consideration and strongly urge you to respond positively to the senators’ request for a comprehensive study of the health impacts of this proposed project.
    Georges Benjamin                Robert M. Pestronk
    Executive Director                ExecutiveDirector

    *APHA --American Public Health Association

    I thank Whitehouse and Boxer and hope we can add to the effort.


    "The only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." Hannah Arendt

    by dharmasyd on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:19:22 PM PDT

  •  That's exactly the problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    Utilities have gotten spoiled running Coke Machines that dispense CO2 emissions for cash while investing in infrastructure for long term returns take discipline.

    Which is why I'm all for distributed investment and infrastructure as far as it goes to make the situation more competitive.

    F'n hat tip to Los Angeles for showing the way in the USA.

    Never thought I would say that, but happy to eat my skepticism along with my words.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:28:42 PM PDT

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