Climate change
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Chilling piece on global warming from Rolling Stone.

Here's the gist, but please read it all.

The target cap for warming the earth defined in various treaties is two degrees C, and even that will cause significant harm:

Quote:
"The target that has been talked about in international negotiations for two degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster." At the Copenhagen summit, a spokesman for small island nations warned that many would not survive a two-degree rise: "Some countries will flat-out disappear." When delegates from developing nations were warned that two degrees would represent a "suicide pact" for drought-stricken Africa, many of them started chanting, "One degree, one Africa."


So far, we've raised temperatures by 0.8 deg C. Scientists estimate that the long-term effects of carbon we've already released will drive that as much as another 0.8 deg C.

To safely cap at 2 deg C overall, we can only release another 565 Gigatons of carbon.

Quote:
How good are these numbers? No one is insisting that they're exact, but few dispute that they're generally right. The 565-gigaton figure was derived from one of the most sophisticated computer-simulation models that have been built by climate scientists around the world over the past few decades. And the number is being further confirmed by the latest climate-simulation models currently being finalized in advance of the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "Looking at them as they come in, they hardly differ at all," says Tom Wigley, an Australian climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "There's maybe 40 models in the data set now, compared with 20 before. But so far the numbers are pretty much the same. We're just fine-tuning things. I don't think much has changed over the last decade." William Collins, a senior climate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agrees. "I think the results of this round of simulations will be quite similar," he says. "We're not getting any free lunch from additional understanding of the climate system."


Note that there is no meaningful scientific debate about this, same as there was no meaningful scientific debate about whether tobacco was harmful or not three decades ago. Just FUD spread by the companies with deep pockets and vested interests. Why do they fight so hard? These companies with have 2,795 Gigatons worth of carbon emissions in their stockpiled resources:

Quote:
If you burned everything in the inventories of Russia's Lukoil and America's ExxonMobil, for instance, which lead the list of oil and gas companies, each would release more than 40 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Which is exactly why this new number, 2,795 gigatons, is such a big deal. Think of two degrees Celsius as the legal drinking limit – equivalent to the 0.08 blood-alcohol level below which you might get away with driving home. The 565 gigatons is how many drinks you could have and still stay below that limit – the six beers, say, you might consume in an evening. And the 2,795 gigatons? That's the three 12-packs the fossil-fuel industry has on the table, already opened and ready to pour.


But we can't just stop burning it:

Quote:
We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We'd have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate. Before we knew those numbers, our fate had been likely. Now, barring some massive intervention, it seems certain.

Yes, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it's already economically aboveground – it's figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide – those reserves are their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value. It's why they've worked so hard these past years to figure out how to unlock the oil in Canada's tar sands, or how to drill miles beneath the sea, or how to frack the Appalachians.

If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn't pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet. John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan who now runs the Capital Institute, calculates that at today's market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you'd be writing off $20 trillion in assets. The numbers aren't exact, of course, but that carbon bubble makes the housing bubble look small by comparison. It won't necessarily burst – we might well burn all that carbon, in which case investors will do fine. But if we do, the planet will crater. You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet – but now that we know the numbers, it looks like you can't have both. Do the math: 2,795 is five times 565. That's how the story ends.


Meanwhile, things get worse.

Quote:
Meanwhile the tide of numbers continues. The week after the Rio conference limped to its conclusion, Arctic sea ice hit the lowest level ever recorded for that date. Last month, on a single weekend, Tropical Storm Debby dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Florida – the earliest the season's fourth-named cyclone has ever arrived. At the same time, the largest fire in New Mexico history burned on, and the most destructive fire in Colorado's annals claimed 346 homes in Colorado Springs – breaking a record set the week before in Fort Collins. This month, scientists issued a new study concluding that global warming has dramatically increased the likelihood of severe heat and drought – days after a heat wave across the Plains and Midwest broke records that had stood since the Dust Bowl, threatening this year's harvest. You want a big number? In the course of this month, a quadrillion kernels of corn need to pollinate across the grain belt, something they can't do if temperatures remain off the charts. Just like us, our crops are adapted to the Holocene, the 11,000-year period of climatic stability we're now leaving... in the dust.


If you have kids, it is now near-certain that, barring a sci-fi technological innovation on the scale of inventing stable cold fusion, they will be growing up on a planet where droughts are common, food is in short supply, and low-lying countries and cities have simply vanished below rising sea levels. How bad can it get? Australia is the canary in the coal mine. Heat waves, droughts, floods, bush fires, and hurricanes.

Quote:
"Sadly, it's probably too late to save much of it," says Joe Romm, a leading climate advocate who served as assistant energy secretary in the Clinton administration.

This is not to say that the entire continent will sink beneath the waves anytime soon. What is likely to vanish – or be transformed beyond recognition – are many of the things we think of when we think of Australia: the barrier reef, the koalas, the sense of the country as a land of almost limitless natural resources. Instead, Australia is likely to become hotter, drier and poorer, fractured by increasing tensions over access to water, food and energy as its major cities are engulfed by the rising seas.


I'm glad I don't have kids.
Any time I think about things like this, it depresses me. Future generations will look back on our time with little other than disgust.
I particularly liked how, according to TFA, the oil and gas companies are competing over drilling rights for Arctic fossil fuel reserves that were previously unreachable but can now be drilled for the first time because the Arctic ice has shrunk so far. That's the whole thing in a microcosm.
Yeah, but it's still only a theory.
I'm certainly glad I don't have Australian kids.
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
I particularly liked how, according to TFA, the oil and gas companies are competing over drilling rights for Arctic fossil fuel reserves that were previously unreachable but can now be drilled for the first time because the Arctic ice has shrunk so far. That's the whole thing in a microcosm.

Imagine how much more oil we could access if we heated things up a bit more though. It is small minded thinking like yours that is holding us back.
I hate electricity generating windmills. They make the countryside look horrible. They're making the wind stronger too.
Disregarding whether we are as close to the edge as this article says, I have no idea what can be done though. Sure, the Western world may have a very slim shot at doing something about it if we all got our act together, however unlikely that is.
Who is going to stop China, India, South America and Africa though? We've shown them the shit they can have and do, how do we say "yeah we have it, but you can't"?

The only solution I can see is if a new form of safe, cheap energy production is found and given to the whole world.
There was an interesting article on the BBC News website about Iron Fertilisation of the oceans.
Dimrill wrote:
They're making the wind stronger too.

Who's to say they're not causing issues that we can't see, though? I mean, the idea that burning coal was going to kill everyone on the planet would have been laughable only fifty years ago (perhaps), but now, you know, this.

So what if we're fucking things up by messing with airflow and tides and such?

[edit]Also, I think they look quite cool. Silly people that think they 'ruin the horizon' are silly.
Trooper wrote:
Who is going to stop China, India, South America and Africa though? We've shown them the shit they can have and do, how do we say "yeah we have it, but you can't"?

That's just an excuse to not do anything though, isn't it?
Don't confuse a scientific theory with the more colloquial or philosphical use.

And anyway... the current sea level is about the lowest it's ever been, ever, in geological history. Technically, the earth could be considered still in an ice age and this is an interglacial period.

You could argue that we just have the misfortune to have become self-aware at this low point and thus consider it being that low to be 'normal'.

However you look at it, we're just along for the ride on this planet. The only thing in our favour is that, if we were to stop killing each other over whose magical sky daddy is best for a moment, we could get spread our eggs across multiple baskets. The planet is going to do what it likes and while it's intelligence that could save us, our stupidity is distracting us.
Dimrill wrote:
There was an interesting article on the BBC News website about Iron Fertilisation of the oceans.

Cool!

Also: Stop flying to and from the USoffofA, Gaywood.
Trooper wrote:
The only solution I can see is if a new form of safe, cheap energy production is found and given to the whole world.


http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2305
Trooper wrote:
Disregarding whether we are as close to the edge as this article says, I have no idea what can be done though. Sure, the Western world may have a very slim shot at doing something about it if we all got our act together, however unlikely that is.

From TFA:
Quote:
Germany is one of the only big countries that has actually tried hard to change its energy mix; on one sunny Saturday in late May, that northern-latitude nation generated nearly half its power from solar panels within its borders. That's a small miracle – and it demonstrates that we have the technology to solve our problems. But we lack the will. So far, Germany's the exception; the rule is ever more carbon.


Trooper wrote:
Who is going to stop China, India, South America and Africa though? We've shown them the shit they can have and do, how do we say "yeah we have it, but you can't"?
If Europe/America doesn't lead the world, we definitely can't ask them to stop. So we have to go first, it's a pre-condition to having any sort of chance at all; there's no choice to be made.
metalangel wrote:
You could argue that we just have the misfortune to have become self-aware at this low point and thus consider it being that low to be 'normal'. ... However you look at it, we're just along for the ride on this planet.
To quote just one of many, many sources to rebut that:
Quote:
America's Climate Choices: Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change; National Research Council (2010). Advancing the Science of Climate Change. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. ISBN 0-309-14588-0. "(p1) ... there is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities. While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations. * * * (p21-22) Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.
Emphasis mine.
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Trooper wrote:
Who is going to stop China, India, South America and Africa though? We've shown them the shit they can have and do, how do we say "yeah we have it, but you can't"?
If Europe/America doesn't lead the world, we definitely can't ask them to stop. So we have to go first, it's a pre-condition to having any sort of chance at all; there's no choice to be made.


I'm not saying we shouldn't lead the world and go first, we absolutely should.
I'm saying I just don't see how that will make any difference when the 2nd world countries won't give a crap. They have cheap fuel and the means to use it, how do we stop them doing that and to use something else? Like I said, the only way I can see that happening is if we offer them an alternative that is even cheaper and easier.
What this thread needs is a raving right-winger to come along and say everything is fine and we should all make more money.
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
metalangel wrote:
You could argue that we just have the misfortune to have become self-aware at this low point and thus consider it being that low to be 'normal'. ... However you look at it, we're just along for the ride on this planet.
To quote just one of many, many sources to rebut that


That doesn't rebut the numerous ice ages this planet has encountered in the past. We might be accelerating a natural process here, and would prefer not to be giving the added input, which is understandable.
Dimrill wrote:
What this thread needs is a raving right-winger

Techno Viking?
metalangel wrote:
That doesn't rebut the numerous ice ages this planet has encountered in the past. We might be accelerating a natural process here, and would prefer not to be giving the added input, which is understandable.


Regardless, something's happening, which is a bit shit, so we should probably do what we can to stop/slow it.
And when they come for your bacon?
Craster wrote:
metalangel wrote:
That doesn't rebut the numerous ice ages this planet has encountered in the past. We might be accelerating a natural process here, and would prefer not to be giving the added input, which is understandable.


Regardless, something's happening, which is a bit shit, so we should probably do what we can to stop/slow it.


There's an echo in here!
"Good. Then we are all agreed."
\
Image
Dimrill wrote:
What this thread needs is a raving right-winger to come along and say everything is fine and we should all make more money.


Well that was quick. Osborne.

BBC Nyowz wrote:
The Chancellor has demanded that the Energy Secretary Ed Davey abandon the UK's pathway towards climate targets.

In a leaked letter, George Osborne says renewables are too expensive and suggests expanding plans for gas-fired generation.

The government's adviser, the Climate Change Committee, says this will cause the UK to miss its 2030 climate goals.

The CCC warns that with volatile gas prices, consumers could end up paying more for electricity, not less.
metalangel wrote:
There's an echo in here!


Ah, sorry - I read your post as saying something different.
China is apparently ploughing lots of cash into renewables. Why wouldn't they? In twenty years they'll have worked out loads cheaper than anything using stuff out of the ground. Why can't we do that? Because the Neo-Labour party might be in charge then, and they'll take all the credit rather than the Cyber-Tories.

One advantage of a communist dictatorship: long term planning.
Pundy, i think you can remove the "long-term" part of your statement.
Pundabaya wrote:
China is apparently ploughing lots of cash into renewables.
China also has huge numbers of scientists and engineers at the highest levels of government: http://www.quora.com/Why-do-Chinese-pol ... aw-degrees
Dimrill wrote:
What this thread needs is a raving right-winger to come along and say everything is fine and we should all make more money.

There's nothing that I dislike more than right-wingers smearing ecologists, greens and even climate change scientists as anti-capitalists and revolutionaries.

If anything, the (mainstream) green movement is essentially trying to save capitalism in the longer term. You can't sustain the global markets and hard currencies required for the basis of advanced industrial capitalism if environmental disaster leaves human civilisation on the brink of collapse.
But that's the problem with the way democracy works - no-one cares about long-term.
Quote:
In a leaked letter, George Osborne says renewables are too expensive and suggests expanding plans for gas-fired generation.

Luckily, we have an infinite supply of gas, so this is a great idea, rather than rapidly increasing our usage of wind (having potentially more wind power than Germany), solar (which could be 'forced' on all new builds and rapidly added to many existing properties) and tidal (what with being an island surrounded by strong tides). Gnh. About the only thing they are getting right is nuclear, although that should be more of a back-up than a primary source, and even then it'll be 'owned' by the Chinese.
Grim... wrote:
But that's the problem with the way democracy works - no-one cares about long-term.


It's definitely a problem with the way our parliamentary democracy works. There are definite changes that could be made to our system to reduce the effect - longer parliamentary terms, abolish the whip, only permitting people to be MPs for a single term, just off the top of my head.

The way it's set up right now, re-election is the top priority. And that's broken and wrong.
Craster wrote:
only permitting people to be MPs for a single term
That'll just force people to get their name in lights even more rashly.

Anyone who wants to be a politician should be shot, people should just kind of end up there by their choices. No career politicians would be a good starting point. And no being allowed to be on the board of multinationals before, during or after. And none of that "quarter mil per speech" shit either. And quangos and so on are out too; if you're not good enough to keep the job you were elected to do, you're done. And no Lords-as-MPs, that's just a stupid a idea.
metalangel wrote:
Don't confuse a scientific theory with the more colloquial or philosphical use.

And anyway... the current sea level is about the lowest it's ever been, ever, in geological history. Technically, the earth could be considered still in an ice age and this is an interglacial period.

You could argue that we just have the misfortune to have become self-aware at this low point and thus consider it being that low to be 'normal'.

However you look at it, we're just along for the ride on this planet. The only thing in our favour is that, if we were to stop killing each other over whose magical sky daddy is best for a moment, we could get spread our eggs across multiple baskets. The planet is going to do what it likes and while it's intelligence that could save us, our stupidity is distracting us.


:this:

Also, what others have said, even supposing that there's even anything in it at all (which I personally doubt): the whole notion that little old insignificant us (the UK) should unilaterally cripple its already wounded economy to act as a 'moral example' to China and India, let alone a whole bunch of other secondary, Second World/developing economies around the globe, is just laughable nonsense IMO.
<covers head and runs for it>
Trooper wrote:
<covers head and runs for it>

Like Cavey's grandchildren will no doubt have to do when the world starts collapsing ;)
Captain Caveman wrote:
Also, what others have said, even supposing that there's even anything in it at all (which I personally doubt)
You think climate change isn't happening, or you think it's not man-made? And what are you basing that on, in the face of very strong international scientific agreement that it is happening and it is at least mostly man-made?

Quote:
the whole notion that little old insignificant us (the UK) should unilaterally cripple its already wounded economy to act as a 'moral example' to China and India, let alone a whole bunch of other secondary, Second World/developing economies around the globe, is just laughable nonsense IMO.
This, of course, is exactly the thinking that dooms us. If the worst case scenario turns out to be correct, we're in a prisoner's dilemma where everyone is motivated to act but no-one is motivated to act first. And off to hell in a handbasket humanity goes, but at least we get to hold the handle on the way down.

Or we choose to hope that the worst case won't happen, and we do nothing. What's that saying? Something about hoping for the best, but planning for the worst...?
Out of interest, the UK kicks out 8.5 tonnes of CO2 per capita, compared to China's 5.3 and India's incredible 1.4, so yes, we would be setting a rather good example.
Note I'm not saying it's a bad idea for humanity, as a whole, to curb its collective consumption of finite global resources here. I'm simply saying that given the current 'world order' (or lack of it), our systems of governance and a total lack of collectivism, it seems hardly appropriate to me that the UK in particular should shoot itself in the foot, for what is to me at least highly dubious science, when apart from anything else, the very notion that such a gesture would be met with anything other than deaf ears at best and outright derision/being taken advantage of at worst, is a bit silly.

Whether the global warming brigade are right or wrong (and personally I think they're wrong, see MetalAngel's earlier post), or somewhere in between, actually makes no difference at all in any pragmatic sense. Personally, I think humanity is pretty much doomed anyway in the medium to long term, with or without climatological assistance.
China's acting first and "the West" doesn't seem to be noticing - it's building housing for billions of people that don't exist and developing less-unsustainable power sources for itself while coal, oil and our endless demand for cheap shit fund them.

When the rest of us are crying 'whoops, apocalypse!' because we've no energy, no skills, no money and no plan, they'll be laughing. At us. And offering to provide us with energy and skills to produce cheap shit in dangerous conditions for them.
Captain Caveman wrote:
the whole notion that little old insignificant us (the UK) should unilaterally cripple its already wounded economy to act as a 'moral example' to China and India, let alone a whole bunch of other secondary, Second World/developing economies around the globe, is just laughable nonsense IMO.

I agree: doing this as a 'moral example' is idiotic, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be doing it.

The way I see it, we have two choices in the long term. The first is we invest heavily, much like the Germans have, and become as self-sufficient in fuel as possible, thereby reducing our imports significantly. The second is governments continue to put off the investment or even go back to relying on fossil fuels that are running low and becoming increasingly expensive, thereby screwing the general public (who'll soon be staring in disbelief at £2/litre petrol and insanely high gas/electricity bills) and ensuring we're forever reliant on the Russians and others. I'd rather keep the money within the country rather than subsidise others (same goes for the trains), but there you go. (One 'third way' that's quite interesting is the possible deal with Iceland for thermal power, but my brain kinds of goes FWUMP when I consider the feasibility of that idea.)
Anyway, we're not going to agree on this one guys - I'm on a family hols at the moment (just doing a bit of work ;) ). I'm going to globally warm myself by the pool now, mini calved ice bergs in a glass of V&T. :D
Grim...'s life hints #64: When on holiday near a pool and a bar / other source of alcohol, stop posting on the Internet.
Grim... wrote:
Out of interest, the UK kicks out 8.5 tonnes of CO2 per capita, compared to China's 5.3 and India's incredible 1.4, so yes, we would be setting a rather good example.


True figures but slightly disingenuous. China and India have a lot more poverty, so their proportion of energy consumers is a lot less. If they raised their game regarding poverty, their energy consumption would massively increase.

It's an idea though, we could change those figures by making sure more people in the UK can't afford to run anything that uses energy. Actually, that seems like the current plan!
Grim... wrote:
Grim...'s life hints #64: When on holiday near a pool and a bar / other source of alcohol, stop posting on the Internet.


Very true mate. :)
Still, the same could also be said of train toilets. :D

/Cavey buggers off to belly-flop into pool and embarrass grandchildren
Captain Caveman wrote:
/Cavey buggers off to belly-flop into pool and embarrass grandchildren


A perfect analogy for energy short-termism.
The belly flop will embarrass them for 2 minutes, whereas if you really planned and worked on it, you could find a way to embarrass them their whole life ;)
Trooper wrote:
whereas if you really planned and worked on it, you could find a way to embarrass them their whole life ;)
...like destroying the planet's environment with a carbon-belching fast car! ;)
Trooper wrote:
Captain Caveman wrote:
/Cavey buggers off to belly-flop into pool and embarrass grandchildren


A perfect analogy for energy short-termism.
The belly flop will embarrass them for 2 minutes, whereas if you really planned and worked on it, you could find a way to embarrass them their whole life ;)


No idea what you're driving at there, fella. You need to be far less oblique with me; I require insults in big letters and flashing lights please, none of this clever little side-swipe nonsense.

Besides, actually I *am* insulted. Believe you me, one of my belly-flops causes at least 30 minutes' worth of severe embarrassment - two minutes indeed. (I'm OK though, thanks to my CO2-tastic sportscar and motorbike. I am my grandson's hero since I told him that my Porsche was really a Hot Wheels, his eyes as large as saucers lol :D ).

(I really am off now, sorry for derailing your thread Doc. :) )
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Trooper wrote:
whereas if you really planned and worked on it, you could find a way to embarrass them their whole life ;)
...like destroying the planet's environment with a carbon-belching fast car! ;)

Says the man that owns two dogs.
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