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December 12, 2009 – Comments (18)

Johann Hari 

We know what has to happen to give us a fighting chance of avoiding catastrophe. We need carbon emissions in rich countries to be 40 per cent lower than they were in 1990 – by 2020. We can haggle with each other over how to get there but we can't haggle with atmospheric physics over the end-goal: the Earth's atmosphere has put this limit on what it can absorb, and we can respect it, or suffer.

Yet the first week of this summit is being dominated by the representatives of the rich countries trying to lace the deal with Enron-style accounting tricks that will give the impression of cuts, without the reality. It's essential to understand these shenanigans this week, so we can understand the reality of the deal that will be announced with great razzmatazz next week.

The link.

18 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 12, 2009 at 1:38 AM, fmahnke (89.62) wrote:

Steven,

How do you KNOW We need carbon emissions in rich countries to be 40 per cent lower than they were in 1990 , 

Seems to me that their are many climatetoligists on both sides of this issue and the some of the ones on your side, have been fudging the numbers.

Would you support a program where we (the US) would pay other countries (China) for our past levels of emissions. This seems insane, and you seem to be a smart guy,

I gotta get some sleep, so good night

PS. I donlt think we are that rich anymore,

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#2) On December 12, 2009 at 12:06 PM, Option1307 (29.93) wrote:

...to give us a fighting chance of avoiding catastrophe...

Really Johann Hari, if we don't do anything it will be catastrophe? Really?

Statements like this really bother me because they seem like a typical "scare tactic". This seems as ridiculous as the extreme right speaking of "death panels" in regards to health care. Both statemets are just plain stupid.

Let's assume AGW is real and occuring, ok, does that really spell disaster for the world? All the proposed outcomes I've seen involve the planet warming by a few degrees celcius the next 50-100 yrs. So yes, there will be changes, but not full blown catastrophe.

I really wish we could all have a logical discussion about this topic instead of both exteme groups spouting off crap. I can dream can't I...

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#3) On December 12, 2009 at 7:17 PM, devoish (97.65) wrote:

fmahnke, Option,

We all hope you are right, because if you are not, your doubts will cost us our lives.

 

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#4) On December 12, 2009 at 7:44 PM, Option1307 (29.93) wrote:

Devoish, you seem like a rational person (eventhough we disagree on most topics), but what is up with this,

because if you are not, your doubts will cost us our lives.

Do you really believe that statement? Do you really think that if we don't act, it'll cost us our lives? That is a really really really bold statement.

Again, let's say that AGW is occuring, that doesn't mean certain catstrophe does it? Certainly not anytime in the near future (50-100 yrs.). Don't most projections (besides Gore) claim that the earth will warm a few/several degrees C the next century? That sure doesn't sound like "it'll cost us our lives" to me. Ya things will be different, but no completely disasterous.

I'm not tryig to argue, I just find those kind of statements misleading. Am I wrong here?

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#5) On December 12, 2009 at 9:53 PM, devoish (97.65) wrote:

option,

yes. Chk999 accused me of not having much hope for my own future in an earlier post. I do not have much hope for his either.

ask MIT. Their estimates of warming are worsening and they have been among those who expected the least warming and are finding out they were the most wrong.

Some (tobunk?) have recently posted celebrations of increased  plant growth due to increased CO2. They are overly optomistic in suggesting increased plant growth will continue, or exceed deforestation, and as it is CO2 is still increasing faster than the trees can suck it up.

Here on Long Island I have mosquitos out in December. Bird and animal populations declining and moving North (Canary in a coal mine for people who cannot get the idiom and need a louisville slugger across the head?).

I have to ask you what would you have to see to believe that Global warming is real, (at this point almost none of you are arguing that it isn't anymore) is caused by CO2, and most likely will have bad results?

You guys have clung to every excuse available, Bad data, not really warming, then volcanos, sunspots, ionic waves in space or something, and as each of these theorys fails to stand up to peer review you now decide it is a great global science conspiracy.

And yet the Volcano guys never call out the Sunspotters as wrong. They are always aligned against the establishment (who do they think are marketing to? Who fans? teenage boys feeling their oats are an easy mark for that salespitch, I'm almost fifty).

There really are only three answers to population growth, end it, find new land, or stop pissing in the drinking water, shitting on the land, and farting in the air. And I mean that if you cannot clean it up, you cannot sell it is where we need to get to. The companys manufacturing motor oil should be legally obligated to collect ALL waste motor oil and include the disposal or storage in the price of the product. Because we allow and encourage profit we need a strong Gov't proud of its ability to enforce its laws. Countries that want to trade with us can allow us to check up on them or get out.

I know,- "economic cost" "free markets","capitalism" etc etc etc.

Mother Nature does not give one crap about economic theory. Mine, yours, Davids, Klugmans, Alstrys or Roubini's.

Try this economic theory: "growth" needs to be slowed by taking care of what we've built".

Have I "left" anything out?

 

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#6) On December 12, 2009 at 10:42 PM, Option1307 (29.93) wrote:

Have I "left" anything out?

Umm ya you did, you avoided my question almost entirely. I'm glad you are bringing emotion into this, it really makes for a great discussion (sarcasim intended)...

I asked you a simple question and you went spouting off on multiple tangents for no apparent reason. I wasn't arguing for/against AWG so there was no need to bring up basically everything you said. 

Again I'll ask, does a rise in temperature of a few/several degrees (C) over the next century equate to disaster/catastrophe as you and Johann Hari say? I agree that it would certainly have an effect, but I think your statement of "your doubts will cost us our lives." is completely over the top.

1) Do you think a rise of a few/several degrees over the next century will cost us our lives?

2) What do you propose we do about it? 

 

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#7) On December 12, 2009 at 11:07 PM, ChrisGraley (29.90) wrote:

Have I "left" anything out?

Yes you have left out the fact that if cap and trade does go through, you've most definately condemned some people in third world countries to death and all people in third world countries poverty forever.

It's funny that you say that "We all agree on it!" and then say "except these nuts, and these nuts, and these nuts!"

If we are wrong, yes it may cost lives. But if you are right it will definately cost lives. Can you understand why I might be a little worried about blindly agreeing with you?

I'm hoping that your thoughts on population growth were going a different direction and you don't consider these people expendable because of where they were born.

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#8) On December 12, 2009 at 11:42 PM, ChrisGraley (29.90) wrote:

I'd like to agree with the author of that article on one particular point. The larger nations will figure a way around it and we will stll wind up with more Carbon going into the atmosphere. It will still kill those people in the third world nations though.

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#9) On December 13, 2009 at 2:45 PM, devoish (97.65) wrote:

fmahnke,

You call it fudging, I call it diligence. "Your side" is also using our numbers. McIntyre (skeptic side) found mathematical mistakes that adjust the estimate of change less than 1% to the downside when using his corrections for the most likely scenario. Unfortunately the "higher than most likely" warming scenarios are playing out anyway.

Chrisgrayly,

I am not now, nor have I ever been in favor of "cap and trade with offsets" especially as it is being presented today. There is no Government in the world big enough to monitor that boondoggle, much less enforce it. Cap and Trade without offsets and with the willingness to take the property of violaters regardless of local consequences would be better, but probably not legal in the USA.

That said, the citizens of many third world countries seem "condemned to death and poverty" and Cap and Trade does not yet exist.

Option,

YES. I guessed you missed my hiding the answer in the first word.

Calmly now, as we drift in a quickening current toward the waterfall and I need your help in rowing the other way.

To me, it is as if you are denying the quickening water around you, and the thunder of the falls, while people on the shore scream "turn back".

You are the person standing on the beach before a tsunami, watching the water recede and as sirens sound saying "go to high ground" you say "first let's see if space aliens are sucking the water into space".

We don't "know" the water will come rushing back until after it did.

I have found and posted many calm rational explanations of the science of global warming, and the mistakes of the doubters.

I have watched MIT's "worst case scenarios" of 2003 become their "most likely case scenarios" of 2008 as the measured effects of warming accelerate.

In order to deny climate change, most deniers claim or imply a great global Al Gore led conspiracy at the root of it, or to sound more "rational" suggest that climate scientists are suffering the flaws of human emotion - just not the deniers.

I am not a climatologist.  I have to reach decisions based upon my experience, what I can see and the time I have spent investigating the issue.

Greenhouse theory and Global warming reality was measured long before there was any money in it, yet many skeptics seem to be stuck on the idea that scientists claim it exists for the grant money. As compared to the fossil fuel industry.

Independent sources funded by fossil fuels, such as the Heritage Foundation publish articles denying warming exists and blaming existing warming on everything except fossil fuels. I found their conflicts doubt inspiring.

Other sources measure atmospheric CO2 concentrations using many different sources from ice samples to stalagmites, to air trapped in brass buttons and the different methodologys agree.

280ppm then, 380 now.

Skeptics claiming "cooling since 1998", are also using the same data sources skeptics claim cannot be trusted.

"cooling since 1998" is a claim you can only make if you use the hot spike of 1998 as your starting point. Temperature records of the last century have shown similar spikes followed by a few years of cooler but steadily increasing temperatures until the records were broken. There is no reason to believe the 1998 record will not be broken, it has been matched. Most doubters stop their graphs before the matching year. The same claim could have been made for the temp spikes of 1973, 1981, and 1993. All those peaks did not reverse the long term trend.

Skeptics (politely, not the insulting replacing of the "k" with a "c") still tell us that NASA now claims that 1921 and 1934 were both hotter than 1998, and most warming occured before the industrial revolution got going.  NASA says otherwise. Only the 10 year ocean temperature chart shows any hope of a reversing temperature trend, and it did not break the long term trend.

Skeptics use sciences numbers AND deny they are accurate, often in the same article.

Science points out it's inaccuracys and offers ranges of possibilitys.

McIntyre (a skeptic source) points out that if every margin of error really turns out to be the least extreme and then compounds the "least warming" possibilitys we will be fine and skeptic news sources run with it. Unfortunately actual measurements are finding we are closer to the more extreme "most warming" scenarios and their expected outcomes suggesting science has toned down the "alarmist" rhetoric even if I am accused of an emotional overreaction.

Many skeptics say humanity is to insignificant to effect climate upon such a large planet. We have effected everything else, including local climates as evidenced by "heat islands".

Skeptics claim CO2 increases can only have a small effect on climate because it is such a small percentge of the atmosphere. I know that very small amounts of many things can have big effects. One example is CO2 which is a very small percentage of the atmosphere, yet life depends upon it.

Skeptics are now claiming increased CO2 will support increased plant growth so it is a good thing. Increased agricultural output in China is a result of Gov't intervention and funding, not CO2. CO2 absorbed into the ocean is causing acidification and killing life, not encouraging it.

Some of lifes basic principles are violated by our attitudes toward the environment, including fossil fuel consumption. Usually when such principles are violated for a long enough time bad things happen.

Waste not, want not. We waste 20% of the energy we consume. Many sources cite the figure as higher.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify. We are not diversified. 85% of energy is from fossil fuels. (tangent warning) Corn, rice, soy, and wheat dominate our food supply, one GMO loving insect and we are screwed.

But all of this is and more has been easily known to you. In order to doubt climate change most skeptics have to decide that Scientists are incompetent or lying. I do not share that opinion becuase the science of global warming has changed with new information and it is worsening.

Theorys held by the skeptics are not being "ignored" or 'hidden" or "discounted".  They have been examined and found lacking. And in each case skeptical media (not neccessarily skeptical scientists) have soldiered on claiming there is a conspiracy against skeptics.

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#10) On December 13, 2009 at 5:40 PM, Option1307 (29.93) wrote:

Devoish,

Ok at least that response was less emotional and more of a well presented argument. I'll give you that. To be clear I agree with some of what you say. I do believe that focusing soley on fossil fuel for energy is just plain stupid. I agree that we need to expand into other areas. I understand the importance of our environment and natural resources. They are truely a wonder that continues to amaze me. That being said,

Let's review:

I asked, 1) Do you think a rise of a few/several degrees over the next century will cost us our lives?

You said, YES. I guessed you missed my hiding the answer in the first word.

Ok, since we are on a course to certain doom as you say, what do we do to stop this? I'm not saying we shouldn't try to stop the approaching disaster (your words), but realistically how do we do this?

As you mentioned, we are dependent on fossil fuels for 85% of our energy. China/India/3rd world countries could care less about the environment or curbbing CO2 emissions. The US is entirely built/dependent on oil.

How do we realistically change this fast enough to avoid "costing us our lives"? All the IPCC recommendations I've seen only will reduce the global temperature by about 1 degree (C) over the next century. Which means we'd still have a rise of a few degrees (C).

Again I'm not suggesting we don't try, but I'm seriously asking for a reasonable suggestion on how to reduce CO2 emissions significantly. Ideas?

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#11) On December 13, 2009 at 9:26 PM, devoish (97.65) wrote:

What to do, what to do...

Disregard the foolish statement that China/third world and India do not care. Maldives is under water. China and India are watching their glaciers disappear and with them the summer water supply.

Build out renewable energy and do not use one inch of new land to do it. Use the empty lots and rooftops first. Not one more new coal plant except to prove or test sequestration. Take the most polluting power plants off-line, and then the next worst. Pity the owner who failed to recognize the end of his buggy whip era. Every one has known this day must come. Mandate higher mpg standards, let the free marketeers cry over the end of their free ride. Encourage local food sources. Only trade with countries that take steps to reduce their emissions. plant a tree, lower the thermostat, inflate your tires. The steps to take are really well known, just harder than they would have been yesterday.

Stop mocking the climatologists.

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#12) On December 13, 2009 at 11:35 PM, Option1307 (29.93) wrote:

All that sounds great and all. And your right, we should be making steps in that direction. But IMO it's not even remotely realistic at this point in time. Yes we could make small changes, but nothing that would drastically reduce our CO2. The technology is simply not there yet.

Oil may be bad for the planet, but our entire civilization is built on it at the moment. We use it for everything, not just transportation. It's in almost every product. Until a realistic alternative is found/made/etc. I don't believe we can have a significant reduction in our CO2 levels.

btw, I don't believe China will take serious steps to help the environment, they are one of the worst polluters out there.

Thanks for the discussion, we can leave it at that.

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#13) On December 14, 2009 at 2:13 PM, devoish (97.65) wrote:

Option,

The time is not 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009 when will the time arrive for you?

The rational man in you might want to compare the value of a limited supply of oil being available to make durable goods for the next hundred years, as opposed to burning it now and only getting one use out of it.

I disagree with part of your 2nd paragraph. I believe the ability to do away with oil and coal as an energy source exists today, and it exists not just in start-up might work companys, but in blue chips like UTX and Siemens and GE.

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#14) On December 14, 2009 at 11:55 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@Option1307,
"if we don't do anything it will be catastrophe? Really?"
The odds of a catastrophe are small but statistical significant. If we approach climate change with a risk management mindset we should be buying insurance (i.e. climate policy and reductions in emissions).

"All the proposed outcomes I've seen involve the planet warming by a few degrees celcius the next 50-100 yrs"
What have you seen? The best outcome (almost wishful thinking) is a rise of 2 ºC (global average temperature) in a business as usual scenario.

"Again I'll ask, does a rise in temperature of a few/several degrees (C) over the next century equate to disaster/catastrophe as you and Johann Hari say?"
This is the crux of the problem. Our mind isn't prepared to properly discount low-probability, high-impact events. Our mind is cheated by the changing nature of weather at short time frames (days, months, seasons, years) so we assume that a few extra degrees are of no concern. A little fact: a world 5 degrees cooler than now is a world with a mile thick ice sheet covering Canada and the north of the continental USA.

"I'm seriously asking for a reasonable suggestion on how to reduce CO2 emissions significantly. Ideas?"
Put a price on the externality of the GHG emissions and let the market decide what's the path to a low-carbon economy. Spend in R&D of renewable energy. Raise standards in energy efficiency for appliances, buildings, cars. Provide low-cost financing for weatherization. End the subsidies for fossil fuel.

"The technology is simply not there yet."
Wrong.


@devoish,
"I know,- "economic cost" "free markets","capitalism" etc etc etc."
In fact, cost-benefit analysis and econometric models offer strong arguments for enacting bold climate policy. There is a huge number of actions that have negative cost (i.e. they end up generating savings) and/or low cost.


@ChrisGraley,
"Yes you have left out the fact that if cap and trade does go through, you've most definately condemned some people in third world countries to death and all people in third world countries poverty forever."
Where's the evidence for this baseless assertion? People in 3rd world countries are already suffering from climate change and they will be damaged the most by it.

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#15) On December 15, 2009 at 12:21 AM, Option1307 (29.93) wrote:

lucas1985

In my future cartoon country, the energy consumption is reduced by using more efficient technology for transport and heating. In the five plans for the future, transport is largely electrified. Electric engines are more efficient than petrol engines, so the energy required for transport is reduced. Public transport (also largely electrified) is better integrated, better personalized, and better patronized...

http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c27/page_204.shtml

Blah blah blah... 

I'm not here to argue AWG with you, nor do I think we should just sit back and continue using fossil fuels until we run out. I uindertsand/believe we need to transition away from them into more efficient energy sources. I'm totally in agreement there.

I just have a problem with what the author of that site you posted says. Or rather doesn't say (please point it out if its on one of the trillion links he has and i missed it), he doesn't give  a viable plan. He basically states we need to be more efficient. Really, well no sh*t thanks for pointing that out.

I don't mean to play devils advocate here, but is "improving energy use" over the next 40 yrs going to have that significant effect on CO2. If we are as screwed as you claim, don't we need to essentialyl abandon all fossil fuels asap?

I'm all for trying new tactics, and I think we do need to transition to other energy sources. I'll be the first to say that. I just don't see the technology for wide scale, easily available, relatively affordable alternative energy yet.

Wind, solar, hydro, thermal, etc. are all great ideas and hopefully some day one will really lead the transition, but in their current form, they can't.

 

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#16) On December 15, 2009 at 1:04 AM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@Option1307,
"I'm not here to argue AWG with you"
We're not arguing AGW (the physical science), we're arguing climate/energy policy.

"I just have a problem with what the author of that site you posted says. Or rather doesn't say (please point it out if its on one of the trillion links he has and i missed it), he doesn't give  a viable plan. He basically states we need to be more efficient. Really, well no sh*t thanks for pointing that out."
It's a best-seller (and freely downloadable) book by a physics professor. It's so good that the UK government hired him.
He uses a balance sheet framework to address the problem of climate change and sustainable energy. Numbers must add-up.
Being more efficient (electric cars, electrified public transport, building codes, heat pumps, solar hot water, cogeneration) is part of the equation; we need to lower energy demand. Then, he addresses energy supply.
Please, read the entire book and then come with questions. You may also want to read "The cost of carbon abatement"

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#17) On December 15, 2009 at 1:18 AM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

If we are as screwed as you claim, don't we need to essentialyl abandon all fossil fuels asap?

Not ASAP but our window of opportunity to prevent the climate crisis at a low cost is getting smaller. I fear that the failure to enact serious climate policy will mean the rise of authoritarian leaders and heavy-handed policies when climate change begins to show its full face.

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#18) On December 20, 2009 at 2:15 AM, wstimson (94.28) wrote:

Politicians know and rely on the fact that if you tell a big enough lie, often enough, that people will believe you. Consider that this may be the case with global warming.  As you know, its foremost messenger, Al Gore, produced "An Inconvenient Truth" which is most certainly a partisan propaganda film with many documented inaccuracies, and which relied on well chosen examples as supporting evidence, while hiding all contradictory evidence.  Truth is, I am concerned about climate change, whether global warming or global dimming (cooling induced by vapor trails blocking sunlight), and I believe that humanity should prepare to mitigate both threats.  However, I suspect that global cooling is the greater threat, and that politicians have it wrong, as they usually seem to do, with their one-dimensional rhetoric.   Also, it is important to observe not just what they say, but what they do.  The $1.1 Billion stimulus was mostly appropriated to share the loot with chronies and supporters, with almost nothing devoted to alternative energy, sustainable practices, energy independence, heat mitigation, or carbon sequestration.  Indeed, the stimulus is a mis-adventure in squandered opportunities.  The fear mongering about AGW is a hoax, at least in part, that is designed to empower politicians to garner more money and power for which they lust, and all at the taxpayer's expense. 

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