- Jun 17, 2020 at 5:50 pm #3653624
I have to agree with the final phrase regarding the shadows of power, though. The political ?mentality? needs to be transcended, as in a certain sense, does the economic. I don’t begin to see how.Jun 18, 2020 at 6:27 am #3653694
World has six months to avert climate crisis,
says energy expert
International Energy Agency chief warns of need
to prevent post-lockdown surge in emissions
Fiona Harvey : The Guardian : Thu 18 Jun 2020
The world has only six months in which to change the course of the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe, one of the world’s foremost energy experts has warned.
“This year is the last time we have, if we are not to see a carbon rebound,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.
Governments are planning to spend $9tn (£7.2tn) globally in the next few months on rescuing their economies from the coronavirus crisis, the IEA has calculated. The stimulus packages created this year will determine the shape of the global economy for the next three years, according to Birol, and within that time emissions must start to fall sharply and permanently, or climate targets will be out of reach.
“The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond,” Birol told the Guardian. “If we do not [take action] we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will be brought down in future. This is why we are urging governments to have sustainable recovery packages.”…Jun 18, 2020 at 11:00 am #3653734
… “But as economies in the West address the climate crisis—albeit at a painstakingly slow pace—another crisis is worsening elsewhere. Making all those vehicles, panels, and turbines requires resources such as copper, lithium, and cobalt—which, like fossil fuels, are extracted from the ground. But unlike fossil fuels, many raw materials for green energy come disproportionately from developing countries.
In the last few years, cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has trickled into the public consciousness, beginning with a 2016 Amnesty International report that revealed child labor at the country’s nonindustrial mine sites, which provide the cobalt that ends up in smart phones and other devices around the world.
The human rights abuses and environmental degradation in places like Congo do not bode well for the West’s transition to sustainable energy, which will stretch the demand for green energy materials. Some critics even cite such adverse effects of renewable energy production to argue against any transition to green energy, …”Jun 18, 2020 at 11:28 pm #3653871
Yup, it’s a bloody existential crisis that we have to work thru, and effectively navigate.
The problem is that the two crises – of global warming/environmental pollution on the one hand, and some of the costs of mitigation on the other, are on a completely different scale. They are not really comparable. Of course, personal and social costs need to be minimized, or at least optimized, and even learning how to do so effectively is a lengthy and complex undertaking; but one of the principles of addressing the global warming crisis is the global need for social equity; just as Black Lives Matter, so too do non-American lives, even God non-fearing Aussies (is nothing Sacred?). In other words the remaining 96 % of humanity. And the effects of global warming will even affect the Americas, with rising sea levels, interference with crops, even greater hurricane damage, even more pandemics.
Even though the costs of mitigation (of global warming) will be horrendous, they must be balanced against the costs of inaction, and in the light of the benefits to unborn generations of effective mitigation – of what extent? Many millennia? Millions of years? And not just to human descendants, but the entire ongoing ecosystem that nurtures life, and indeed consciousness. Priorities…
Otherwise, it just becomes more denial BS, akin to the staged concerns of wind-power slicing up birds, excuses for inaction, for failing to face up to reality.Jun 18, 2020 at 11:44 pm #3653876W I S N E R !BPL Member
Well stated Robert.
I suppose many could run with what you just wrote as a case study in the ends justifying some terrible, terrible means but I think that would be intentionally missing the complexities of it…or the alternative.Jun 19, 2020 at 12:29 am #3653880
Of course, if you are a pig-headed arrogant stubborn 80 year old who does not expect to live more that 15 years (say), then maybe you won’t care if the world goes to hell in a handbasket.
I’m looking at you, GOP.
CheersJun 20, 2020 at 11:59 am #3654145
I simply don’t agree that we have to put up with “The human rights abuses and environmental degradation in places like Congo” in the short term to ‘save the earth!’, because that’s more important. And I think, generally, when ever we talk about ‘saving the earth’ what we’re really talking about is saving humans, not necessarily the earth itself (since the earth will be around long after we’re gone). Personally, I don’t generally think humanity is worth saving from itself.Jun 20, 2020 at 12:00 pm #3654147
“I’m looking at you, GOP.”
You need to look at Dems as well Rog.Jun 20, 2020 at 5:51 pm #3654195
‘Roger’, not ‘Rog’. Please.
CheersJun 20, 2020 at 6:09 pm #3654199
Again, the presumed human rights abuses and environmental degradation of steps taken towards a cyclic economy using sustainable energy sources need to be balanced against the human rights abuses and environmental degradation of the implementation and operation, historical and contemporary, of an exploitative linear economy using fossil fuel sources. Which might include the disease and death from atmospheric pollution, the pollution and toxicity from coal mining and crude oil drilling, processing, storage, transportation, the environmental effects of fracking, and on and on ad nauseum.Jun 25, 2020 at 5:51 am #3654577
Road to net zero:
what the Committee on Climate Change recommends
The government adviser publishes its progress report today.
Here are the areas it says require urgent attention
Act fast to stop UK carbon emission rebound,
climate advisers urge
Fiona Harvey : The Guardian : Thu 25 Jun 2020
The government’s statutory adviser, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), publishes its progress report on Thursday on efforts to cut emissions. This is what it says needs to happen urgently if the UK is to reach its target of hitting net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
A national plan for insulating the UK’s draughty homes is needed. This would create thousands of new green jobs as the UK struggles to emerge from the coronavirus recession. Previous attempts at national programmes have foundered and there are few incentives for homeowners to pursue energy efficiency, but housing is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, along with transport.
Gas boilers are one of the most intractable problems for reducing emissions. Alternatives such as ground-source heat pumps have been slow to take off, but low-carbon heating must become the dominant form of new heating installation by the early 2030s.
Earlier this year, the prime minister pledged to bring forward the phase-out of diesel and petrol vehicles to 2035. The CCC says its research suggests the switch could be managed by 2032, despite objections by car manufacturers.
Oil prices stand at historic lows, making this a good time to raise fuel duty without hitting consumers, according to the CCC. About £15bn a year could be raised in government revenues that could be recycled into other green measures, such as incentives to motorists to switch to electric vehicles.
Agriculture and land use
Tree planting and restoring peatlands, wetlands and other natural carbon sinks could generate “shovel-ready” projects that create new jobs around the country – in rural areas, but also in cities where green space is shrinking. The agriculture bill going through parliament should offer an opportunity for more nature-friendly farming that helps lock carbon into vegetation and soils, turning agriculture from a major source of emissions to a net absorber.
Reskilling and retraining programmes
The net zero economy will require a net zero workforce, according to the report. This will include everything from installing low-carbon boilers and home insulation to improving broadband networks (for more home-working) and creating jobs in burgeoning industries such as offshore wind. The recovery from the Covid-19 crisis offers an opportunity for the government to step in with retraining incentives.
Behavioural changes in lockdown
About half of employed people in the UK were working from home during April, the CCC found, showing how much home working is possible. If more of us worked at home, transport emissions would be vastly reduced, so more employers should be encouraged to make the changes permanent where possible. New infrastructure is needed to help people continue to cycle and walk to work. The public sector should lead by example in encouraging remote working.
Targeted science and innovation funding
Kickstarting research and innovation in low-carbon technologies will be vital if the UK is to become a centre of low-carbon development after leaving the EU. Promising technologies include hydrogen fuel and the development of carbon capture and storage in depleted oilfields under the North Sea.
Adaptation to the effects of the climate crisis
Ministers have pledged to spend £5bn on flood defences, which could be brought forward to protect homes and create green jobs. Housebuilders and homeowners also need to adapt the UK’s housing to hotter summers; older people in particular are in danger from more frequent heatwaves. Growing thick ivy on the walls is one good way to protect a house against overheating in scorching summers, the CCC says.Jun 25, 2020 at 4:32 pm #3654683
All very good and commendable, but does any of it benefit the very rich? If not, expect failure (or at least opposition).
CheersJul 7, 2020 at 4:07 am #3656747
Yes, but not all wealth is misguided and selfishly applied. Though a committed Apple fanboy, I greatly respect the efforts of Bill and Melinda Gates and the serious contributions they are making to humanity.Jul 7, 2020 at 4:10 am #3656748
Climate Denial Spreads on Facebook as Scientists Face Restrictions
The company recently overruled its scientific fact-checking group, which had flagged information as misleading
Scott Waldman, E&E News : Scientific American : July 6, 2020
A climate scientist says Facebook is restricting her ability to share research and fact-check posts containing climate misinformation.
Those constraints are occuring as groups that reject climate science increasingly use the platform to promote misleading theories about global warming.
The groups are using Facebook to mischaracterize mainstream research by claiming that reduced consumption of fossil fuels won’t help address climate change. Some say the planet and people are benefitting from the rising volume of carbon dioxide that’s being released into the atmosphere…Jul 7, 2020 at 4:16 am #3656751
Latest U.N. sustainability goals pose more harm than good for environment, scientists warn
University of Queensland : Phys.Org : July 6 2020
A team of scientists has warned that the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed to bring together environmental protection and socioeconomic development, are failing to protect biodiversity.
The University of Queensland’s Professor James Watson says as currently applied, the SDGs may actually serve as a smokescreen for further environmental destruction in the next decade.
“The SDGs were established as a blueprint for a more sustainable future for all, yet there are fundamental inadequacies in their ability to protect biodiversity,” Professor Watson said.
“If these errors are not corrected, the SDGs could unknowingly promote environmental destruction in the name of sustainable development.”
The SDGs are a framework of 17 goals, 169 targets and 247 indicators adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 to replace the expired Millennium Development Goals.
They were touted as a major improvement, in part because of the integration of the environment across the entire framework…Jul 7, 2020 at 4:20 am #3656752
Environmental destruction not avoided with the Sustainable Development Goals
Yiwen Zeng, Sean Maxwell, Rebecca K. Runting, Oscar Venter, James E. M. Watson & L. Roman Carrasco
Nature Sustainability (2020) Published: 29 June 2020
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed to reconcile environmental protection with socioeconomic development. Here, we compare SDG indicators to a suite of external measures, showing that while most countries are progressing well towards environmental SDGs, this has little relationship with actual biodiversity conservation, and instead better represents socioeconomic development. If this continues, the SDGs will likely serve as a smokescreen for further environmental destruction throughout the decade.Jul 15, 2020 at 6:20 am #3664459
Overconsumption is driving the climate crisis, warn scientists
Rosie Frost : euronews.com : 13/07/2020
Technology will only get us so far; we need to rethink the value we place on being wealthy if we are to solve the climate crisis
Consumption by wealthy households is responsible for the biggest human impact on the environment, a paper published by researchers at the University of New South Wales says. Lifestyle changes and a different attitude to wealth are needed to solve the environmental problems the world faces.
“The key conclusion from our review is that we cannot rely on technology alone to solve existential environmental problems – like climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – but that we also have to change our affluent lifestyles and reduce overconsumption, in combination with structural change,” says lead author of the paper, Professor Tommy Wiedmann.
“Technology can help us to consume more efficiently, i.e. to save energy and resources, but these technological improvements cannot keep pace with our ever-increasing levels of consumption.”
CAN LIFESTYLE CHANGES PREVENT THE CLIMATE CRISIS?
The researchers say we have to address our overconsumption through individual actions. Overall consumption needs to be reduced rather than just being ‘greened’ by switching to supposedly sustainable products.
They list problems like overly large second homes, second homes of the wealthy, oversized vehicles and environmentally damaging and wasteful food as some of the areas where behaviours need to be altered.
“It’s hardly ever acknowledged but any transition towards sustainability can only be effective if technological advancements are complemented by far-reaching lifestyle changes,” says co-author of the paper and Professor of Sustainability Research at the University of Sydney, Professor Manfred Lezen.
He adds that once faced with the reality of the enormous impact our personal actions have on the environment, many people shut down completely and go into denial. “What we see or associate with our current environmental issues (cars, power, planes) is just the tip of our personal iceberg. It’s all the stuff we consume and the environmental destruction embodied in that stuff that forms the iceberg’s submerged part.”…Jul 15, 2020 at 6:26 am #3664460
Scientists’ warning on affluence
Thomas Wiedmann, Manfred Lenzen, Lorenz T. Keyßer & Julia K. Steinberger
Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 3107 (2020)
For over half a century, worldwide growth in affluence has continuously increased resource use and pollutant emissions far more rapidly than these have been reduced through better technology. The affluent citizens of the world are responsible for most environmental impacts and are central to any future prospect of retreating to safer environmental conditions. We summarise the evidence and present possible solution approaches. Any transition towards sustainability can only be effective if far-reaching lifestyle changes complement technological advancements. However, existing societies, economies and cultures incite consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in competitive market economies inhibits necessary societal change.
Recent scientists’ warnings confirm alarming trends of environmental degradation from human activity, leading to profound changes in essential life-sustaining functions of planet Earth. The warnings surmise that humanity has failed to find lasting solutions to these changes that pose existential threats to natural systems, economies and societies and call for action by governments and individuals.
The warnings aptly describe the problems, identify population, economic growth and affluence as drivers of unsustainable trends and acknowledge that humanity needs to reassess the role of growth-oriented economies and the pursuit of affluence. However, they fall short of clearly identifying the underlying forces of overconsumption and of spelling out the measures that are needed to tackle the overwhelming power of consumption and the economic growth paradigm.
This perspective synthesises existing knowledge and recommendations from the scientific community. We provide evidence from the literature that consumption of affluent households worldwide is by far the strongest determinant and the strongest accelerator of increases of global environmental and social impacts. We describe the systemic drivers of affluent overconsumption and synthesise the literature that provides possible solutions by reforming or changing economic systems. These solution approaches range from reformist to radical ideas, including degrowth, eco-socialism and eco-anarchism. Based on these insights, we distil recommendations for further research in the final section….
[PDF can be downloaded -RM]Jul 15, 2020 at 6:37 am #3664461
‘There are no excuses left’:
why climate science deniers are running out of rope
Guardian environment correspondent Fiona Harvey recalls being heckled at the House of Commons and explains how attitudes to climate have shifted in 10 years
Fiona Harvey : The Guardian : 17 Oct 2019
The shouted words rang out across the packed parliamentary corridor: “Fiona Harvey is the worst journalist there is. She’s the worst journalist of them all, because she should know better.”
They were the words of Lord Lawson, former UK chancellor of the exchequer, turned climate denier and now Brexiter, addressing a crowd of more than 100 people trying to cram into a House of Commons hearing on climate change. As listeners craned their necks to hear better, whispering and nudging, he elaborated at length on my insistence on reporting the work of the 97% of the world’s climate scientists whose work shows human responsibility for global heating, and failure to give equal weight to the tiny number of dissenters.
As the science of climate chaos has become vastly clearer in the past two decades, and the warnings more stark, the rearguard action fought by climate denialists has grown fiercer and their attacks more vicious. Fact-based arguments will never serve their purpose; trolling is the last refuge of the discredited. We can expect much more of the same…Jul 15, 2020 at 8:52 am #3664468HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Making all those vehicles, panels, and turbines requires resources such as copper, lithium, and cobalt—which, like fossil fuels, are extracted from the ground
The chief metals (metalloids if aluminum) going into making vehicles weren’t researched properly though. These materials are recycled at the end of each vehicles lifespan (remember a Big 3 employee said an American vehicle will change hands 6 times on average before being melted down and returned to Detroit, etc..).
That actually starts getting into mineral pricing (“virgin” vs recycled) and economics with transportation costs, labor costs, etc..
Some copper mines in the US had plenty of great copper ore but were closed as US miners cost more than Indonesian or South American miners … in the early 1980s. Of course copper is recyclable too, as people stealing copper wiring is a thing. Same with other metals as manhole covers have vanished (knew a motorcycle rider who rode into a hole that way … make that former motorcycle rider). Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a technical dilettante in these matters (talking about the article writer).Jul 15, 2020 at 9:00 am #3664470HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Just to add, if the cost of virgin plastics ever goes high enough, there’s landfill mining (just a pilot project last I checked) that can remelt said plastic and re-extrude it into shapes. All the metals are separated and all toxins condensed for eventual disposal.
The economics has to be right as these recycling plants can not operate for free (though decaying organic matter gives off natural gas which powers the operation), which can bring in government economics (ie subsidies) and therefore public policy. Even currency values come into play unless the subsidy is high.Jul 15, 2020 at 4:35 pm #3664541
All the metals are separated and all toxins condensed for eventual disposal.
But that is what we do today: just ‘dispose’ of them.
In fact, we cannot ‘dispose’ of many of them safely. Look at the radioactive waste still in ‘temporary’ storage.
CheersJul 15, 2020 at 8:28 pm #3664605
All the metals are separated and all toxins condensed for eventual disposal.
And what is the true cost of that?
I seem to be forever editing papers on proposed techniques for the removal or mitigation of toxins; it rapidly becomes a highly complex undertaking, with extraordinary subtlety and variation = ultra high cost.
Our current economy simply does not make a fair and true accounting of the real costs of production, or recycling, or final disposal. Business has successfully insulated itself from the real costs incurred while it makes its profit, and screw the consumer.Jul 16, 2020 at 3:37 am #3664636
Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, April 2020
In June 2018 the journal Science published research showing that chlorophyll-containing blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, that were grown in extremely red light could carry on some photosynthesis despite the light’s low energy.
Soon after, the magazine Cosmos ran with that finding to produce a nice article entitled “Pushing the Limit: Could Cyanobacteria Terraform Mars?” The subhead read: “The discovery that blue-green algae can photosynthesize in extremely low light has implications for astrobiology.”
Then, on January 19, 2020, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky cited the article in a tweet that also said, “Despite climate alarmist predictions, humans will likely survive for hundreds of millions of years into the future. In the meantime, we should begin creating atmospheres on suitable moons or planets.” He then tweeted, “With so many billionaires about, why not a private prize of $10 million for the scientist who genetically creates an O2 producing organism that will thrive in the frigid, methane lakes of Titan?”
These notions struck me as, well, wacky. I knew that species don’t last for hundreds of millions of years. And making an organism to terraform Saturn’s moon Titan, if even possible, would undoubtedly cost more than some billionaire’s chump change.
So I contacted Emory University paleontologist and geologist Anthony J. Martin. He noted that another species of humans, Homo neanderthalensis, “only lasted [approximately] 350,000 years before going extinct.” Our species, Homo sapiens, has tens of thousands of years to go before we even catch up to the Neandertals.
I then wrote to University of Edinburgh evolutionary biologist Steve Brusatte. “If we make it another 10 million years, we’ll be a record setter,” Brusatte wrote back. “I can’t think of any species that has approached that type of longevity. Ten million years ago there wasn’t even a human lineage—it would still be another few million years before our ancestors split from the chimps.” (Podcasts with Martin and Brusatte about books they’ve written are at ScientificAmerican.com.)
On to tweet two. A guest blog on our Web site in 2016 did in fact claim that Titan might be the second-best place in the solar system (in some ways better than the moon or Mars) for humans to live—a loooooong time from now.
Curious about the idea of oxygenating Titan with an engineered microorganism to be created on the cheap, I wrote to a planetary scientist. That person, who requested anonymity, replied, “I appreciate that Senator Paul is not a planetary scientist nor—apparently—an economist, but it’s clear he could thrive as a humorist. I am not sure that a longer lecture on the density of Titan’s atmosphere or the hazards of adding free oxygen to a methane mix will help in this case.” The scientist also mentioned the challenge of “finding a photosynthetic bacterium that produces oxygen at 94 kelvins [-179 C, –290 degrees Fahrenheit].”
I will ignore the many details which might cause a second glance, and ask just one question:
Is this guy really a member of the US Senate?
CheersJul 18, 2020 at 4:47 pm #3665124
From the interview:
“I would love to be able to speak to Galileo to understand how he felt. We were both loners who met a lot of opposition. I think Galileo’s problem was largely with the church rather than people at large. It was so contrary to their dogma that they hated it. I have felt for some time that the universities are getting dangerously like the early church. They have dozens of different sects and they are quite proud if you belong to one of them: if you are a chemist you often don’t know anything about biology and so on. This is why ordinary university science is not really helpful because the department looking at seaweed would not be the same as the one looking at methyl iodide. It is a division into bits. It’s time universities were revolutionised and had much more common thinking. It’s amazing how much objection there is to Gaia. I’m wondering to what extent you can put that down to the coal and oil industries who fought against any kind of message that would be bad for them.”
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