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 Post subject: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:21 pm 
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Hello folks,

If you read nothing else this week, I hope you can read this article:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Capitalism-vs-the-Climate-by-Naomi-Klein-111114-156.html

It is long, and detailed, but so is the situation we face.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:24 am 
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I got to about halfway through the second page before I realized where this was going:

Quote:
So in a way, Chris Horner was right when he told his fellow Heartlanders that climate change isn't "the issue." In fact, it isn't an issue at all. Climate change is a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture's most cherished ideas are no longer viable. These are profoundly challenging revelations for all of us raised on Enlightenment ideals of progress, unaccustomed to having our ambitions confined by natural boundaries. And this is true for the statist left as well as the neoliberal right.


In other words - this isn't an article about climate change. Rather, it's an attempt to hijack the subject of climate change to promote a specific ideological agenda, as well as the author's new book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism".

The author's 6 point plan to cure all of society's ailments (including climate change) is:


1. Reviving and Reinventing the Public Sphere - i.e. massively increased public funding for public transportation, energy efficient public housing, smart grids, and research

2. Remembering How to Plan - i.e. government needs to take control of certain sectors of the economy (agriculture is mentioned explicitly), while directly employing any workers displaced by the shift to green industry (oil industry workers, for example)

3. Reining in Corporations - i.e. much tighter regulation of dirty industries

4. Relocalizing Production - i.e. reverse the trend of shipping manufacturing jobs overseas by "rationing the use of energy-intensive long-haul transport -- reserved for those cases where goods cannot be produced locally or where local production is more carbon-intensive". Basically this is just calling for an end to international (maybe even interstate) trade.

5. Ending the Cult of Shopping - i.e. "reduce the amount of material stuff we produce and consume" by shifting workers out of private industry and into public-sector jobs, where sustainability will be emphasized over growth.

6. Taxing the Rich and Filthy - self explanatory.


I actually support all 6 of these points to some degree (though a much lesser degree than the author). My issue is really more with the author, who spends the first page criticizing right-wing nutjob conspiracy theorist types for intentionally ignoring the hard science to promote their radical ideology - while at the same glossing over the hard science herself, publishing a book targeted at left-wing nutjob conspiracy theorist types, and promoting her own opposing radical ideology.

Granted, if I had to pick a side here I would probably side with the author, because at least she has aligned herself with the overwhelming body of scientific evidence on this issue. But I also wouldn't be surprised if a good number of her readers are also believers in the whole "chemtrail" conspiracy theory (google it if you want a laugh), which is completely at odds with any sort of rational scientific thinking. In other words, it's not that the radical left is any more rational than the radical right, but rather that they've gotten lucky and their ideological goals happened to be aligned with science in this instance -- in the same way that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

As for me, I'm a moderate. I'm worried about global warming, and I actually think there's a lot that we could do within the current system to reduce CO2 emissions via taxes on greenhouse gases and direct investment in green technology. Unfortunately, the debate has been hijacked by radicals on both sides, and we've found ourselves in the current situation where it seems impossible to get anything done at all.


Last edited by gregrah on Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:20 am 
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Haven't read the piece, Neil, tho I plan to, have a great deal of respect for Ms Klein's work.

But I did want to mention a writer I stumbled across recently. Gwynne Dyer, a Canadian journalist/writer living in Britain, seems to have ignored climate change till quite recently, then got interested in looking at it because he discovered through a chance meeting w/ an old Pentagon contact that the US military was busy envisaging new roles for itself as climate change occurs this century, starting right now. He spent a couple years floating about the world, interviewing military personnel and spooks, and climate scientists, and discovered that every major military force was involved in similar projections pertinent to their own country's situation in coming years.

His book, Climate Wars, was published ~2 yrs ago. I'm in the middle of it now. Anyone else read this? Really well worth it, even if you think of it only as entertainment, a disaster/adventure potboiler.

Despite the political nature of much of what he says, Dyer appears to be somewhere in the middle politically -- he thinks, for example, that industrialization and heavy environmental damage were foregone conclusions as soon as the first farmer planted his/her first seed. The last 200 years of industrial civilization has done 80% of the damage, and the man in the street in the 3rd world knows it. We in the first world don't. It's a slew of stuff he covers that I cannot summarize here, but his msg is brutally straightforward. Food production will be the most important victim of global warming. When there's not enough food, lots of people die. When we get 2 degrees avg warming in the world, food production will drop by ~30%. Any higher and there's no reversing it, and we're all doomed. The only way to stop short of complete disaster is for countries to work together to stop & then reduce greenhouse gas emissions before +2 degrees warming occurs. Once that happens, global breakdown of human society is assured, and only pockets will survive.

The most conservative estimate puts 2C+ at 2040, but most scientists think this is too optimistic. Current data and observations already have us at a steeper curve.

A friend's dinner comments about a Gwynne Dyer presentation at BC Hydro prompted me to go and find out whether there's an online version somewhere, and sure enough: http://a4.g.akamai.net/f/4/79195/30s/sm ... efault.htm Had to skim/skip through 20~30 mins of corporate intros & other self-congratulatory stuff, but it was worth it when I finally go to Dyers. His chat there is a quick but thorough intro, about an hr long.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:57 am 
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I haven't read the whole piece but it seems consterning.
This pseudo-radical politization is uncalled for. There is a political battle to be fought and many scientists recognize that but, as evidenced by gregrah's reaction, this is no way to fight it.
Her characterization of the Heartland institue is way off. It's a corporate PR front. They don't do any kind realistic analysis, they've done stuff like attacking science about the effects of tobacco. That's got nothing to do with "capitalism" but with their funders' special interests.
She predictably quotes Hansen (the most famous climate scientist in the world) but does not mention his policy proposal which would go a long way to fix the problem within the current system.

As to Climate Wars, I don't want to comment on Mr Dyer's work based on your comments Mike (maybe you're misremembering) but you're seriously misinformed.
Let's get the basics right first:
MikeC wrote:
The most conservative estimate puts 2C+ at 2040, but most scientists think this is too optimistic. Current data and observations already have us at a steeper curve.

Check the IPCC's summary for policy makers (working group 1). That's what most scientists believe. There's a convenient graph with projections on page 14. 2C by 2040 clearly is not in the cards.
Obviously there are more conservative estimates than the IPCC's around but even without knowing anything about the science, how could you possibly get such warming by 2040 considering the warming experienced so far?

MikeC wrote:
When there's not enough food, lots of people die.

This isn't how famines typically work. People die for lack of food because it's wasted and maldistributed.
There used to be terrible famines but thanks to modern transportation and the gigantic food surpluses produces by some industrialized countries, governmental agencies have had a decent track record of preventing a great number of deaths due to lack of food outside war-stricken areas.
Global food production could drop 30% without anyone dying.

MikeC wrote:
When we get 2 degrees avg warming in the world, food production will drop by ~30%.

There is no basis for such a forecast. Food production is very sensitive to precipitation for instance and there's great uncertainty about the effect global warming could have on precipitation patterns. There are many poorly understood constraints on food production which do not lend themselves to physics-based modelling.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:52 am 
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This is a great big complicated problem, and reality cannot be ignored. Another writer on this topic, Paul Gilding, in his book "The Great Disruption" also talks about this enormous challenge. It challenges all of us, it challenges all politics, all countries, all people -- all life. A growth economy was always a delusion; never mind a ballooning population. A steady state economy is the only way we can survive.

The "Viagra" of oil has fooled us into thinking we could just use everything up as quickly as we wanted. The tar sands is proof that we have passed peak oil, and if we use them, we will be sealing our fate. They require an inordinate amount of energy just to get out of the ground. When will we learn?

We are already 1C+ above the long term average, by the way. If we have not gotten carbon *neutral* by 2040-50 and if we don't find a way to quickly start sequestering carbon in the earth again, we are screwed.

I urge you to persevere and take in *all* of what Naomi Klein has to say, and what Paul Gilding has to say. We cannot make this go away by ignoring it, or insisting it is wrong headed, or by blaming others.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:01 am 
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If you want people to listen, use credible sources like Hansen instead of politicos and don't say things which are obviously false and hysterical.

NeilBlanchard wrote:
We are already 1C+ above the long term average, by the way.

Do you have any reason not to use the IPCC's numbers? See page 4 of the SPM.

NeilBlanchard wrote:
If we have not gotten carbon *neutral* by 2040-50 and if we don't find a way to quickly start sequestering carbon in the earth again, we are screwed.

"We" will not have gotten carbon neutral by then. A "12 monkeys" scenario would be required.
What does "we are screwed" even mean? No scientist says anything like that.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:10 am 
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HFat --

The first issue is that all the publicly published data & analysis in reports are nearly a decade out of date (for a variety of reasons GD discusses early in his talk at BC Hydro.)

GD was invited to speak on the topic not by a rabid anti-oil mob but by conservative BC Hydro, this province's electric utility monopoly, at 2011 Power Smart Forum, a business conference on energy conservation. -- http://wwe12.bchydro.com/businessevents/forum/

The number of key people in the world who view 2 degrees rise above pre-industrial level as a critical tipping point, according to GD, is enormous, as are the many detailed scenarios developed by these various think tanks, science teams, etc. Hansen is very much featured and deeply discussed in Dyer's book.

It is well worth reading, even if only for access to the many military/spook studies on climate change that GD names and cites. He discusses many of these works with their authors. A US example, The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, co-published by CSIS and Center for a New American Security in Nov 2007 -- which in turn is based on the data from the IPCC's 2007 report, with its 6 different future outcome scenarios, by Jay Gulledge.

My 2C rise at 2040 comment was wrong, I mis-remembered.

The primary A1B scenario in Age of Consequences that GD followed assumes 1.3C rise from 1990 at 2040. But this means 2C or hotter over land masses, and hotter in the middle of continents or at high latitudes, up to 4-5C in high latitudes around the poles. In any case, at the end of this A1B-based optimistic scenario -- which is pretty nasty btw -- the authors of Age of Consequences find it implausibly optimistic that they offer an alternative 2040 scenario, entitled Severe Climate Change, based on +2.6C at 2040. That scenario is harrowing.

No one has a perfect crystal ball, and all of these various scenarios are all plausible, (ie, they could happen) but.... "Massive nonlinear events in the global environments will give rise to massive nonlinear societal events... very high intensity will be the norm of these events... This whole thing is an interaction between human beings as a highly organized industrial civilization & the world's physics and chemistry and so on, and the consequences of things that we already have done and set in motion, before we were smart enough to recognize the patterns" -- Leon Fuerth, prof of intl affairs at Geore Washington Univ, a lead author of The Age of Consequences -- quoted by GD in Climate Wars.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:37 am 
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I think we need to be reasonable. There's no way we'll leave an economically feasible amount of oil in the ground. That's unrealistic to think and thus a waste of time talking about. We need to start focussing all our efforts on dealing with two degrees warming, since any realist knows it can't be avoided.

And looking at the history of the Earth, it won't be Armageddon either. We have our technology that will surely help us adapt.

Yes, it would be nice if man weren't such a ruthless creature, but we are. No sense debating as if we could change that.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:50 am 
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Tim, Hansen agrees with you about conventional oil.

MikeC wrote:
Why are you such a rabid attacker in every discussion you enter in these forums?

I'm not. That's your selective memory at work.

MikeC wrote:
The first issue is that all the publicly published data & analysis in reports are nearly a decade out of date

It's not an excuse to correct the numbers whatever direction you like (you must be aware that others would push them in the opposite direction), especially when the result is obviously absurd.

I gave references to an authoritative source. You didn't and you can't.
You can call that "attacking rabidly".What I'm actually doing is correcting a misconception. I can do that because I cross-check stuff, not because I'm an "expert". Anyone can do it.
You could have done it yourself before you posted and have made essentially the same argument, except it would be credible. I'm willing to overlook the mistake because I basically agree with you. But the people you want to convice will not consider what you're saying if they spot bullshit.

MikeC wrote:
The number of key people in the world who view 2 degrees rise above pre-industrial level as a critical tipping point, according to GD, is enormous, as are the many detailed scenarios developed by these various think tanks, science teams, etc. Hansen is very much featured and deeply discussed in Dyer's book.

2C is a politically-driven number. What physical basis would it have? And it wasn't supposed to be a "critical tipping point" even if some people trumped it up. I'm not asking you to believe me: check it for yourself.
For what that's worth, Hansen famously advocated the use of a CO2 concentration instead of a temperature as a target because there's a physical argument for that. The result is 350.org


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:57 am 
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HFat, my apology. I actually edited my original post before I saw your response -- it is substantially changed.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:05 am 
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No problem. And please rabidly attack me when you can show I'm wrong (everyone is wrong).

edit: a comment from actual scientists about alarmism and the widespread abuse of "non-linear" and "tipping-point":
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/ar ... no-return/


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:33 am 
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One of the most interesting aspects of Gwynne Dyers presentation at BC Hydro was his assertion that everyone (meaning policy makers, scientists, military men -- people in the business of studying these things for various reasons) already knows the global deal that has to be made within the next maybe 5~10 yrs to have a chance of stopping global warming before it gets too late. It looks something like this:

1. cap emissions for developed countries today, with clear reductions for the future.
2. cap emissions for the rest of the world, today. But with their growing populations and desire for greater wealth/lifestyle equity, they cannot stop economic expansion. How to do this w/o continuing to grow emissions? Use only non-greenhouse gas energy sources for further expansion... only possible with transfer of funds -- in the neighborhood of say 100 billion a year (iirc) -- to the developing countries, in order to fund R&D & investment in much more costly but cleaner energy sources.

Conundrum: this deal cannot be made by any leader in the developed countries -- they'd be driven out of office by their electorates so fast. It's a global problem requiring a global solution but people still think/act in a much smaller scale. Usually just me and mine.

Call me pessimistic: I think it's too much for human beings to make this change. I'll be amazed if there's any global deal with a hope of success by 2020.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:01 am 
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MikeC wrote:
2. cap emissions for the rest of the world, today.

That's debatable.
The cap would obviously be unfair and it's not really needed. Some "developing" countries have out of control emissions but they are large exporters to "developed" countries so that needs to be taken into account. It's possible to reduce emissions with incentives rather than a lopsided cap that's hardest on the countries which pollute least.

MikeC wrote:
I'll be amazed if there's any global deal with a hope of success by 2020.

Agreed.
All the more reason to be careful with phrases like "too late" and "we're screwed". Because every bit helps. There's bad and there's very, very bad. Nobody has a crystal ball but the difference between giving up and going halfway to what you'd ideally want to be could make a huge difference down the road. So don't encourage fatalism, especially when it's not supported by actual scientists.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:46 pm 
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By too late, I mean for human society in any form (or numbers) resembling its current state esp. in the privileged "nice" places to live (like Vancouver, for example). Sure pockets, even cities and countries might survive in a world that is 2C avg higher, but it will look nothing like the world today, with want and deprivation the norm.

By screwed, I know Neil means something similar. It seems perfectly understandable to me.

Re the caps -- it's one hellova challenge to cap the developed world at today's rate -- and to reverse it.

One theme that comes up with various folks cited in this book is how human societies through the ages invariably grew beyond their means to support themselves. There are dozens of examples. People have always done it, with civilization demise the normal result, but in the past, these terminal expansions have occurred in a geographically limited context, not as today, where the entire world is at risk.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:06 pm 
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You could make a really solid case Mike. But you're blowing it with these exagerations. It's a shame. It's going to be easy for people who don't want to buy into your argument to shoot it down.

There are things which are pretty much bulletproof with 2C like a sea level rise which would partially or fully drown some countries and lots of infrastructure globally as well as disturb agriculture and wildlife. And displaced people on an unprecedented scale. The details are uncertain like how fast would the sea rise but the general principle is solid because it's based on simple physics.
Changes in precipitation are also a given. Scientists are working on this because it's important to get the details right if you want to estimate the effect on agriculture. But it's clear there is a serious risk. You don't need certainty to warrant concern and action.
What you're talking about on the other hand is speculative. Seriously, what model are used to forecast "want and deprivation"? If what you have is no better than the Club of Rome stuff, it's not going to fly. These models are better than nothing but they're nowhere as solid as physical models and reasonable people have mocked and ignored them for decades.
And if your argument simply stands on "this guy says so", well there's another guy who says different! And then what? You're basically back to "my politics against yours". As gregrah wrote above, you're lucky: science could be on your side if you wanted. It's kind of a big opportunity in my opinion. But you'd have to downgrade your pessimism...

MikeC wrote:
human societies through the ages invariably grew beyond their means to support themselves. There are dozens of examples. People have always done it, with civilization demise the normal result

And there are examples where the civilization didn't collapse, only people who have an axe to grind aren't looking at them. They're less obvious too. But you can find them. It's not hard if you try. I don't mean to say there's nothing to it but this is a very weak argument compared to physics.
This is kind of old hat you know. Guns, Germs and Steel is 14 years old. It's even been on TV. There are well though-out answers to this stuff people can Google.
Here's a recent video in which the author talks about climate: http://www.wwfblogs.org/climate/content ... hange-2011
He used the word "optimism".


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:06 pm 
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HFat wrote:
You could make a really solid case Mike. But you're blowing it with these exagerations. It's a shame. It's going to be easy for people who don't want to buy into your argument to shoot it down...

This is a non-sequitor. Solid case? Who & what am I trying to sell? All I am doing is describing in my words, the scenes drawn for me by the experts featured in this book in a >2C world. This is what people do after/as they read books, they discuss their reactions.

I repeat, Climate Wars is an excellent read. The work is too complex for me to encapsulate, so I can only suggest it's well worth reading. The various threads & divergent factor pulled together by the author make it fascinating.

The pessimism is mine; the author states cogently that human civilization has a narrow, short time window to avert the worst effects of global warming, but -- at least up to the middle of the book -- does not suggest anyone to give up hope.

As to CO2 targets, Hansen did suggest below 350ppm as a safe target, but we are already at 390ppm, and even if greenhouse emissions stopped entirely today, the last 10-15 yrs effects would continue to push it up -- closer to 450ppm within the next decade or so.

ps -- Neil, sorry to have hijacked your original post.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:25 pm 
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I figured you brought this up as an argument for Naomi Klein's proposals. They would sound quite nutty to a lot of people, something you'd only consider in case of a major emergency like the very dark prognosis you got from that book.

350 ppm is a target that could possibly maybe be reached in the future. For the time being, atmospheric CO2 is indeed going to keep rising further away from where we'd like it to be.
But you're wrong about what would happen if emissions were somehow cut by 100%. Yes, temperatures would most likely tend to keep increasing a bit (hopefully not for 10-15 years). CO2 on the other hand would immediately start to move in the right direction: away from the atmosphere where it's heating up the planet to the oceans where it's "merely" a threat to marine ecosystems.
CO2 also leaves the atmosphere for plants and other places and that could be exploited to take some of it away from the atmosphere. Hansen has a game plan. So this too is related to Klein's article: there is a less radical way out of this. It's not likely to be chosen by "the powers that be" but I would not describe our situation as "socialism or death".


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:04 am 
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It is the amplifying effects that we can only guess at. When there is higher carbon dioxide, then water vapor becomes and amplifying affect. With higher heat, we get more evaporation, so there is more vapor in the air, so we gain more heat. (And this is why we get more rain and more snow and since there is more heat energy, we get higher intensity storms.)

The open water in the Arctic has a much lower albedo (heat/light reflectivity) than ice and snow, so once more ice melts, then the water gets even warmer. Check the ice data:

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

Dying trees in the boreal forests in particular are another amplification effect. And melting tundra (so-called permafrost) is releasing a huge amount of methane, which is 20X as strong a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. And with warming periods in the past, when the climate gets warmer, this *increases* the carbon dioxide (this lags by about 800 years), which is another feedback / amplification effect.

The ocean is getting more acidic as it absorbs carbon dioxide, which may well reach a "saturation" point when this absorption slows down. This lower pH / more acidic ocean is having a huge affect on life in the ocean, and this is having a large effect on the climate.

We have been in an unusually low level of sunspot activity -- as we move into the increasing part of this ~22 year cycle and as sunspot activity increases the sun puts out more heat. (Even though sunspots themselves are cooler, the overall output increases when there are more sunspots.) So, we have had record heat *while* the sun has been *unusually* cool. What will happen in the next 10-11 years?

If you read (all) of Naomi Klein's article -- you will see that she writes about all of the effects on our lives. We already have rising ocean levels, We already have longer, hotter, and more widespread droughts. We are already having more intense rainfall and these are occurring in many places around the world. Food crops are failing more often, and higher heat is reducing yields. Fish are not only suffering from intense over fishing, but the plankton is down 40% from the late 1950's -- they are the base of the food chain.

Acidification is affecting plankton and shellfish and corral. As it happens, the colder parts of the ocean in the best fishing areas, there is lower pH because the adjacent coasts are primarily granite. Places where the coasts are primarily limestone are not as acidic, but they are often in warmer areas, where fishing isn't as good to begin with.

All the effects of global climate change are already here and they will only increase. The pattern of the data as it is gathered has continued to be worse than the worst projections.

What we all face -- all life on this planet -- goes way beyond politics. It will affect all people, in all countries, no matter if you are poor or rich. Naomi Klein writes about this, too.

We are all threatened, and we ignore this at our peril.

+++++

The good news is -- we need to make the transition from oil and coal and gas *anyway*. We have reached peak oil. The tar sands are proof of peak oil. (And the significant amount of additional energy and water that we would use to get it, would amplify the warming even more.)

A GROWTH economy is impossible to sustain. Even with a constant population -- and we are past the point of sustainable use of virtually everything. Let that sink in, please.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybRz91eimTg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3_mYowxlEg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p6U-ZvR5Yk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyO0WS79Xec
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5EcK-CdLNA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJpUswRKwIw

So, even without global climate change, we would need to transition to a steady state economy.

Image

+++++

I realize that this is a huge challenge. I realize that this is a huge threat to people's ideas and philosophy and politics. But the science our best understanding of reality. And anything that doesn't include reality is only going to make the challenge greater.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:53 am 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
What we all face -- all life on this planet -- goes way beyond politics.

Unfortunately the fact that people are falling for the Heartlands or Naomi Kleins of this world belie this.

People used to make these arguments about growth, corporations and capitalism without reference to climate change.
Whatever your motives are, a hypocrite who didn't care about climate change might also try to to stick their unscientific politics on the issue. Learn too much from Heartland and that's exactly how you're going to look like.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:06 am 
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Thanks for the cogent post, Neil.

Any ideas on how you and I and the other people in the street can sway the decision makers to make and stick to the global deal that will save us from the fire? Or be "useful" in some way? For most of us, I suspect, climate change is a spectator's game -- we can watch, read, study, analyze, talk, cheer, agonize, proselytize, etc, but basically feel helpless to do anything to actually affect the outcome. OK, there are little things that might help -- become vegetarian, don't buy/drive a fossil fuel car, stop being a profligate consumer, etc -- but only if done en mass. As individual actions, they feel like sweeping the front walkway as the killing hurricane looms.

HFat talks about optimism, but mostly, that's putting a smile on what you see out there rather than a frown, unless you feel your actions have some positive consequence that contributes to the end goal.

And btw, HFat, putting Naomi Klein in the same basket as Heartlands is bad form. She deserves a lot more respect. If a growth economy cannot be sustained, then economic structures have to change anyway, and her comments outline some of the core changes that have to come.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:11 am 
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HFat, I hope you can get past the idea that any one person or any one political position or anybody is somehow taking advantage of climate change.

Anthropogenic climate change is fact. And it will have completely terrible effects on all of us, no matter where we live, how much money we have -- we all are completely dependent on the earth and on the climate as it has been throughout our human existence. Our economy is a subset of the environment, and it is totally at the mercy of the finite resources of this one little planet we all share.

The blinding effect of oil is this: we are confusing the stunning amount of energy built into the oil, with what we may think is a special human command over nature. Bill McKibben writes in Eaarth the oil is the "Viagra" of our current economy -- it artificially inflates our performance, and when it runs out, if we have not made an intelligent choice to have started our transition to virtually infinite renewable energy sources, then we are screwed.

All renewable energy is rooted either on the sun (the great big fusion reactor at a safe distance in the sky!) or on the earth's gravity. These will last as long as our solar system -- which is for about another BILLION years! A billion years is a very long time.

To sum up: we are eating oil and gas and coal, in effect. We are able to support a very high standard of living based on a cheap source of very concentrated energy. We travel around the world in a day. We have had time to develop medicine and science and art and culture and all the myriad of benefits from cheap, accessible energy.

But, we know these sources of energy will/are running out. The earth is a finite place, after all. And we know that the results of burning millions and millions millions of year's worth of sunshine -- concentrated carbon based energy in just ~150 years, and most of this in the last 40 or so years has this so-called greenhouse effect.

These are two absolute reasons to make the transition to renewable energy. Either one would be enough to force this change, and both together are undeniable. Both mean that we must make the transition to renewable as quickly as possible.

There is a HUGE amount of renewable energy. Solar photovoltaic, solar heat, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal, biomass, and lots of storage systems all used in combination -- mean that we can avoid the two main problems plus a whole bunch of other ones, too. Because renewable energy is all over the world, no entity can control it. Because renewable energy is everywhere, all people can have access to local energy.

We need to use the oil and coal and gas as a springboard to move to renewable -- before either of the limits become too severe.

Things will change; a lot. Things will be very different. This will be very hard to do. Mistakes will be made. But, it is possible.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:00 am 
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The fact that we are overdue, by historical standards, for another ice age may be due to human intervention.

http://www.nzclimatescience.org/images/PDFs/archibald2007.pdf

Who to believe?

When I was at school in the 70's all the scare stories were (apart from the very real threat of a nuclear war) about how the next period of glaciation was long overdue. I'm not denying global warming is happening but perhaps it's saving humanity from an even worse fate?

Looking at things from an alternative point of view; it's inevitable that at some point in the future there will have to be a "correction" to the population growth; the planet cannot sustain an ever increasing population. The black death wiped out something like a third of the population of Europe but life carried on. It's a fact of nature that animal populations grow and crash. There has never been, to my knowledge, a nice steady equilibrium to anything on this planet - it's one huge chaotic system.
Granted, if 90% of the world's population were to be wiped out there would be huge amounts of suffering and sadness but humanity would inevitably carry on - we are adaptable survivors; a species that was not far from extinction during the height of the most recent glaciation but one that recovered and what a recovery it was given that the population of the planet is now in the region of 7 billion!
In the grand scheme of things, what does it matter? We're here by chance, we continue by chance but we think the universe revolves around us.

That's not to say that I don't love my life and family and would hate to see it come to a premature end. Life definitely does not suck, as some here seem to think; IMHO of course.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:12 pm 
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judge56988 wrote:
Who to believe?

It's a good question. And the answer is of course nobody. What you should trust is evidence and sound processes. In this case what you should trust is the scientific method and the evidence that the your sources are authoritative.
If you're not capable of evaluating yourself if source has scientific relevance, first go to scholar.google.com for a quick check. Type in David Archibald climate. Then click on the "cited by" link relevant to the paper you brought us and give the results a good look. Now type in Jim Hansen climate (for instance) and compare...

This is the problem with your behavior, Neil.
You no real answer to the question "who to believe?". Like the Heartlanders, you use the word "science". But it's not a magic word. If you want it to mean something, you need to be able to explain the science yourself starting the experimental evidence (impossible on a forum post except perhaps to deal with some details), to stick by the IPCC or to cite more recent science which has been judged worthy of attention by the scientific community. Making stuff up won't do. Rhetoric won't do.



MikeC wrote:
HFat talks about optimism, but mostly, that's putting a smile on what you see out there rather than a frown

Jared Diamond said "optimism", not me. He's the guy who dug up most of your examples of "civilization demise".

I don't care about smiles or frowns. But I've seen no evidence for what you "see" about the impact of climate change. All I can see are more or less authoritative reports and syntheses, none of which bears any resemblance with your views. That and not the frowning puts your assessment way off in the pessimistic side of the spectrum of views on the matter.

MikeC wrote:
putting Naomi Klein in the same basket as Heartlands is bad form.

She put herself there by supporting their lies: "So when the Heartlanders react to evidence of human-induced climate change as if capitalism itself were coming under threat, it's not because they are paranoid. It's because they are paying attention."
Yeah, I read the rest of the article. It's worse than I would have guessed.

MikeC wrote:
If a growth economy cannot be sustained

If so, a non-growing economy cannot be sustained either.
This argument is at best irrelevant to reducing emissions.

MikeC wrote:
her comments outline some of the core changes that have to come.

Some of them, yes... as well as unnecessary and/or loony changes people used to push without reference to climate change and which are going to scare people away.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:10 pm 
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We are not "due" for an ice age. This is FUD.

The science is quite settled about the big picture. The IPCC is virtually all climate scientists. Even this skeptic has now agreed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tciQts-8Cxo

Quote:
She put herself there by supporting their lies: "So when the Heartlanders react to evidence of human-induced climate change as if capitalism itself were coming under threat, it's not because they are paranoid. It's because they are paying attention."


The "Heartlanders" are lying about climate change because they know it threatens the growth economy. How is Ms Klein lying?

A steady state economy is possible. Coming down from the oil-stimulated growth economy will be a big change. The change will be a very big challenge -- are you blaming the messengers?

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:55 pm 
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I have not been here in awhile.
:roll:
my pc pursuits are before my join date..and got what I was goaling for. Environment related.
The talks and conversations, I don't need to read even the greatest of realist.. it is all talk saying the same things.

act upon just one thing yourself related to environment is an eye opener. Call it a blessing.

my pc is at 39,000 hours..I learned to buyild it here going on 6 years ago.Still the 130w pentium four and 3 fans. processing my mpeg2 vids..and faking 170 degrees.

Sick of the lies.. the capitalist part of it is the evil. Jut act upon anything with common sense.
2012 is getting a supercharged mustang with the v8 made out of two inline fours.
action would be a benz crank instead....
there is alot of common sense missing.

I hang out at a classic american hot rod forum with an 87 subaru. I just joked of closing off the radiator entitely for maine winter..let the heater in the cabin do all the cooling...and it works. 25 years later, 40mpg..and forcing it too take an onramp fast enough to hang on.

I know the paradox..as a simple mechanic, and a pc builder. The babble does need to happen..I am done reading. Just act upon something..

..and i got to check in more often.

I have not read a review in forever.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:03 am 
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The issue that I have with Naomi Klein's article and with with Neil's subsequent posts is, from what I perceive, a huge, glaring, non-sequitur.

I feel kind of like I'm watching that episode of South Park where the underpants gnomes outline their business plan:

1. Steal underpants
2. ????
3. Profit

(if you have no idea what I'm talking about just ignore that last statement) :D .


Neil lists a number of things that I completely agree are "very bad things" and that we should try our best to prevent:

Quote:
The open water in the Arctic has a much lower albedo (heat/light reflectivity) than ice and snow, so once more ice melts, then the water gets even warmer.

And melting tundra (so-called permafrost) is releasing a huge amount of methane, which is 20X as strong a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

We already have rising ocean levels, We already have longer, hotter, and more widespread droughts. We are already having more intense rainfall and these are occurring in many places around the world. Food crops are failing more often, and higher heat is reducing yields. Fish are not only suffering from intense over fishing, but the plankton is down 40% from the late 1950's -- they are the base of the food chain.

If you want to talk about ways to reduce CO2 emissions or preventing over-fishing, you have my full support. Replacing coal and gas power plants with wind and solar? OK! Replacing internal combustion engines with electric vehicles? Sounds great! Replacing our market-based economy with a centrally planned one, and my private employer with the government? Err... you lost me there.

And don't get me wrong - it's not that I'm one of those people who have complete faith in the free market to resolve all of our problems, or that I am opposed to any and all government intervention in our lives. It's just that I am a stickler for rational thought and logical debate.

Central to Klein's article is one huge presupposition: that NOTHING short of switching to a socialist form of government will be enough to prevent catastrophic global warming. For me to agree with that, I would need to consider all other possible alternative solutions that stop short of full-blown socialism, and agree that none of those would work or be sufficient. Do I feel that Naomi Klein has given sufficient thought to these alternative approaches before advocating for such drastic changes? Not at all, based on the arguments she has laid out.

My suggestion for Naomi Klein, if she doesn't want people to think of her as a crackpot, would be to take a step back from her radical position. Start with the ISSUE (global warming), and work out from there:

  • Want corporations to worry more about the greenhouse gases they emit? Why not put a tax on them?
  • Want to find a replacement for oil in our cars? How about investing in research of bio-fuels, batteries, fuel-cells, etc?
  • Want to see costs fall and efficiency improved on photovoltaics and other renewable energy sources? How about setting a national target of x% of electricity needs to come from alternative energy sources by 2020 - as a way to spur private investment.

Notice that nothing I propose here is clashes with any of Klein's proposed solutions. The key difference is that I am starting out with the problem in mind and trying to find the shortest and simplest possible path to a solution. Klein, on the other hand, seems to start out with the "solution" in mind, and works from there to find a set of problems scary enough to make that solution necessary.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:12 am 
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Global climate change is the single largest symptom of a larger problem: we are using up way too many resources, way too fast. An economy based on growth is simply fantasy. The best estimate is that we passed the sustainable use level in about 1986. A steady state economy is the only way we can survive; let alone thrive.

How do we quickly make the change that we intellectually know we need to make? How do we force the real costs of a resource to be built into the price? What is the cost of a ruined earth? What good is money if you cannot live in a healthy climate? Do we want to tolerate a million human deaths due to climate change, or a billion, or more? Do we want to use up all the oil as quickly as we can? Who is responsible for global climate change? Who is affected by global climate change? How should the profits of our oil-induced surge be used?

We are almost literally eating oil and gas and coal. Our food system has been subverted from a sustainable 10,000+ year path that improved the soil over time -- to a ruinous chemically addicted top soil killing water sucking factory production that is about to collapse. We have drained the fossil water aquifers, we have mined the soil, killed large portions of the oceans, gotten obese, put so much plastic into the environment that it has entered the food chain. We have frittered away useful antibiotics on factory farming. The oceans are about half dead. The water soluble nitrogen in our chemical fertilizer runs off in the first rain, poisons the rivers, causes dead zones in the ocean, and then become nitrous oxide -- a powerful greenhouse gas.

We have messed with the one and only planet we have. All life from now on has changed. Let's concern ourselves with the most important things.

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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:41 pm 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
We are not "due" for an ice age. This is FUD.



It's not FUD - as Hfat says, look at the science. I studied geology at university, I know a little bit about it. Look at the facts and the cycles of glaciation over the last few million years. Find out about when the earth was completely covered by ice.

The trouble with this climate change business is that there is no proof of what might or might not happen, it is conjecture based on hypothetical models with built in assumptions which vary according to what the person building the model wants to demonstrate.
Global warming and predictions of catastrophe have been seized upon and used by diverse groups of environmentalists and anti capitalists to promote their beliefs.
I am trying to be open minded about the subject and will remain so until I see some sound scientific evidence. I don't doubt that CO2 is being added to the atmosphere and I don't doubt that it has an effect but I remain unconvinced about the impact this will have 10, 100 or a thousand years in the future.
The global climate system is so complex and influenced by so many different things, some understood, some not understood and almost certainly (to quote Mr Rumsfeld) some unknown unknowns. It cannot be predicted, neither can the slight warming that has been measured be wholly attributed with any certainty to the rise in CO2 levels.
If you care to look at the geological evidence you will see that the natural state of this planet is ice free and warm. There have been several short (geologically speaking) periods when a greater or lesser part of the planet has been covered by ice but that condition is not the norm. All that is certain is that humans (in the developed world) like the climate the way it is because if it were to change... well, god forbid, Europe and North America may not be such nice places to live.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:44 pm 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
we are using up way too many resources, way too fast. An economy based on growth is simply fantasy.

On this subject, I'd have to agree with you Neil.


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 Post subject: Re: Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the Climate
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:35 pm 
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judge56988 wrote:
I am trying to be open minded about the subject and will remain so until I see some sound scientific evidence.

If you're not happy simply going with the most cited research Google Scholar finds for you, the research judged relevant for public policy by the world's governments is referenced here (chapters 1 through 11 are loaded with citations and end with a list of references):
http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_dat ... tents.html
If you want to be able to evaluate some of the science yourself, start with a good textbook:
http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/i ... cale=en_GB
There's lots of stuff which could be of interest to geologists in there such as the mechanisms through which temperatures are controlled by geological processes.


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