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Old 14-08-2013, 19:45   #511
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Re: Climate Change

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Originally Posted by Captain Bill View Post
I've been following this thread and finally decided to add my two cents. I did a stint as a biologist and did some environmental work. Maybe you could even call me a greeny, but I like to think that I'm one who used his brain rather than his knee. I came to the conclusion many many years ago that the biosphere as we know it is doomed.

[reader's digest version from here:

We're doomed.Because we won't be willing to change our lifestyle.

Climate change won't matter because something else will get us before that does.

We'll over-consume ourselves out of existence like any other species. The planet is a finite environment like a Petri dish; we'll eat and excrete til the planet is inhospitible.

Overpopulation will get us.

Nuclear is part of the solution to our power requirements

Shortage of phosphate for fertilizer is more imminent than running out of oil.

]

My reaction to climate change is simply so what. I am probably am old enough that Iíll be dead before most of the major catastrophes happen. If by some miracle people manage to figure out how to survive the resource limitations, they will curse us for burning up petroleum as fuel. It is much more valuable as a petrochemical feedstock than being wastes as fuel.

Iíve written enough, I expect to get change back for my 2 cents.
Thanks; here's your change.

As far as I know, we're the only species on Earth that can do abstract analysis, including making projections based on data. So, in theory at least, we are not doomed to a self-caused death from indiscriminate consumption if we can see it coming, talk about it, and take collective action. (Yes, we know anything with the word "collective" in it is SOSHULIZM to many Americans. Joseph McCarthy must be smiling.)

I don't share the same obsession with overpopulation. It seems that the more "advanced" a human population becomes (see Mazlow's hierarchy of needs), the lower their rate of reproduction, even considering the increased survival rates from improved medicine etc. So, as developing nations ... develop, their reproduction rates will drop.

I am mostly in favour of nuclear energy, particularly if there's more support for advancing our technology and bringing thorium reactors online. I do NOT think nuclear power should be left in the hands of private companies. We saw what the private finance industry can do to an economy in 2008. The northeastern blackout of 2003 showed why private energy companies must be under strict oversight. Enron showed us how private industry will manage energy as just another commodity. This year's train fire in Lac Megantic showed how relaxing regulations leads to accidents. Nuclear power development should be a national or international undertaking.

I didn't know that much about phosphate. Something to look into; with some forethought it can maybe be used more carefully and will last longer. Artificial fertilization/irrigation of crops is itself a sustainability problem.

Similarly, as you wisely mention in your last paragraph... if petroleum has so many other uses besides fuel, and we're within a century or two of running out of it at projected consumption rates, maybe we should not be using it up so quickly, huh?

Just about everyone reading this thread will not be alive to experience serious hardship from climate change. Does that really exonerate us for not acting?
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Old 14-08-2013, 20:13   #512
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Re: Climate Change

I just want 30 more good years.... I'll stop over-consuming then... I promise!
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Old 15-08-2013, 03:49   #513
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The higher a standard of living we desire the fewer people Earth can support.

For a constant level of technology, yes. But technology is not constant.
2 centuries ago aluminium was more expensive then gold, because it was extremely rare. Nw we use it for disposable packaging. How scarce or abundant something is, is more dependent on technology then on how much there really is. We've not even scratched the surface of this planet...
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Old 15-08-2013, 03:51   #514
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I am mostly in favour of nuclear energy, particularly if there's more support for advancing our technology and bringing thorium reactors online. I do NOT think nuclear power should be left in the hands of private companies. We saw what the private finance industry can do to an economy in 2008. The northeastern blackout of 2003 showed why private energy companies must be under strict oversight. Enron showed us how private industry will manage energy as just another commodity. This year's train fire in Lac Megantic showed how relaxing regulations leads to accidents. Nuclear power development should be a national or international undertaking.
I don't think that the government s a priori better placed then the private sector to produce energy. Remember Chernobyl? That was in a country where everything was state owned...
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Old 15-08-2013, 05:21   #515
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Re: Climate Change

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For a constant level of technology, yes. But technology is not constant.
2 centuries ago aluminium was more expensive then gold, because it was extremely rare. Nw we use it for disposable packaging. How scarce or abundant something is, is more dependent on technology then on how much there really is. We've not even scratched the surface of this planet...
I'm sorry but that is a very misguided idea.

Our oceans and fisheries are deeply depleted. We keep eating down the food chain.

Our farms are not keeping up with demand for growth let alone the desire for better diets.

The world over our aquifers are depleting at an alarming rate.

Using your own example....aluminum requires are very large amount of energy for its production. That production is only possible because we are mining fossil fuels and depleting non renewable resources. Nothing scratches the surface of Earth like an open pit coal mine. Aluminum is cheap now, for a short time in our human history, enjoy it.

I doubt that anything I say can influence you to believe otherwise, but others read these forums, even if they don't contribute, and I felt your statements should not go unchallenged.

Essentially you are making the argument that human ingenuity is boundless and can overcome any technical problem. That is a common fantasy I have encountered many times before. There is simply no evidence to support such claims.

Malthus was not wrong. The Green Revolution delayed the effects. But that has run its course, we used the advances not to improve the worldwide living standard but to increase population. We await the consequences.
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Old 15-08-2013, 06:22   #516
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Re: Climate Change

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Month 1 - Scientists find that caffeine causes heart attacks
Yes ,peer reviewed science

Quote:
Month 2 - Scientists find that caffeine lowers the risk of colon cancer
Nope, Quakery

Quote:
Month 3- Scientists find that caffeine decreases the risk of heart disease by 30%
Nope, minor held view, no serious research.

Quote:
Month 4 - Scientists find that caffeine increases the risk of colon cancer
Yes consensus scientific view, peer reviewed

Quote:
Month 5 - Scientists find that caffeine in moderate douses may cause heart irregularities
Yes peer reviewed.

Conclusion, taken as a whole Science agrees that caffeine is not good for you

Similarly with AGW, a few badly researched, biased pseudo scientists, industry lobbyists and RW media , claim that AGW isnt real or disputed

Reality , for 20 years, Scientists have been converging on a peer reviewed consensus, that AGW is real, present and an accelerating danger

Quote:
If we really can't materially effect the world CO2 production we will just have to wait and see. IMHO the jury is still out on AGW.
Of course we can affect C02 levels, all its takes is willpower. and NO the jury isnt out on AGW. Just you and others inability to read and accept the jury decision.


AGW is exactly like smoking, for years science said smoking causes cancer and eary mortality, the industry, pseudo science and quacks, continued to try and muddy the water, claim disputed results etc ( just like your caffeine argument). Where are we now with that consensus.
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Old 15-08-2013, 06:28   #517
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Re: Climate Change

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Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Essentially you are making the argument that human ingenuity is boundless and can overcome any technical problem. That is a common fantasy I have encountered many times before. There is simply no evidence to support such claims.
It's an interesting question. To be fair hpeer, clearly the evidence shows that human ingenuity has greatly expanded our capacity to support more and more of us at a higher and higher standard of physical life. Equally true is the fact that you cannot perpetually expand the use of resources in a finite system. The Earth is a very finite system.

The argument we often see is that humanity will think our way out of the current dilemmas that we face (and I'm with you Bill, climate change is only one of many limits coming at us fast). Based on the last 10,000 years of human civilization, it's not an unreasonable position to think we might be able to reason our way forward.

I obviously think otherwise. Based on the growing scientific evidence, I can see very few reasons to believe our big brains are getting around the problems. I see almost no signs of the technological or sociological (political) developments necessary to propel us past these looming crises. But I may be wrong (as I often am ).

I dearly hope I'm wrong on this one.
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Old 15-08-2013, 06:33   #518
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Re: Climate Change

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Of course we can affect C02 levels, all its takes is willpower. Dave
Yes we can but that is totally irrelevant wrt to reality.

There is wishful thinking and then there is "the reality." Show me how you are going to get 7 billion people to line up and agree to reduce CO2. You can't even get first world countries to agree to cut back. You are living in a fools paradise if you think global CO2 emissions will be decreased in your lifetime.
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Old 15-08-2013, 06:41   #519
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Re: Climate Change

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Yes we can but that is totally irrelevant wrt to reality.

There is wishful thinking and then there is "the reality." Show me how you are going to get 7 billion people to line up and agree to reduce CO2. You can't even get first world countries to agree to cut back. You are living in a fools paradise if you think global CO2 emissions will be decreased in your lifetime.

Look at http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/news_d...def_19sept.pdf

If we tackle China and the US, the job is done.! eating an Elephant is a job done piece by piece.

Co2 fell in EU in 08/09, recent cold winters have resulted in a increase of 3%, but these numbers in general indicate that teh EU 27 region is more of less Co2 neutral.

Next up is to convince the US to play ball.

Then US/EU gang up on China.

Thats 80% of teh issue solved right there.

You simply saying its impossible and doing the "woe is us" is really just giving in.

Yes we will have to strive.

BUT, even decrying global goals as impossible does not mean that You ( teh US or anywhere else) shouldn't in itself lower its carbon footprint. we should not engage in a race to the bottom.

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Old 15-08-2013, 06:46   #520
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Another thought....


A capitalist democratic system is possibly as bad as it gets for some long term equilibrium.

From birth get bombarded with advertising that greedy selfish consumerism is the road to happiness (it's not ) with not a chance of any big bold acts from government as it would be political suicide.

Oh well, so it goes. .....
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Old 15-08-2013, 08:20   #521
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Re: Climate Change

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I don't think that the government s a priori better placed then the private sector to produce energy. Remember Chernobyl? That was in a country where everything was state owned...
The USSR spent the last 30 years of its existence locked in a military p1ssing contest with the West, which was a big financial stress. And also... I don't think communism is the answer. So Chernobyl is maybe a bad example.

I'm just saying that there has to be very strong oversight on the development and control of nuclear power... which I think the US has, for the most part. They just need to start moving forward again.

Quote:
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There is wishful thinking and then there is "the reality." Show me how you are going to get 7 billion people to line up and agree to reduce CO2. You can't even get first world countries to agree to cut back.
The US is the hold-out; other countries are farther along with constructive steps towards more efficiency and less CO2 production. Sweden is thinking of importing garbage, because their program for efficiently burning garbage to produce energy is so successful that they're now processing the majority of Sweden's trash. (this is not necessarily a huge reducer of CO2 emission, but a great example of what can be done in general)

Nothing's infinite, but I do happen to think that we haven't tapped out our ability to create new solutions. The missing piece is motivating and rewarding actions that will make an improvement. At present we only reward those who are successful at selling more and more stuff, as cheaply as possible, over very short horizons.
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Old 15-08-2013, 08:25   #522
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Re: Climate Change

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The USSR spent the last 30 years of its existence locked in a military p1ssing contest with the West, which was a big financial stress. And also... I don't think communism is the answer. So Chernobyl is maybe a bad example
IN the south of france, they seem to be in a pissing contest involving superyachts, That one they seem to be winning quite handsomely !!!

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Old 15-08-2013, 08:39   #523
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Re: Climate Change

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Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
The US is the hold-out; other countries are farther along with constructive steps towards more efficiency and less CO2 production. Sweden is thinking of importing garbage, because their program for efficiently burning garbage to produce energy is so successful that they're now processing the majority of Sweden's trash. (this is not necessarily a huge reducer of CO2 emission, but a great example of what can be done in general)
Don't forget about our own lovely country, Canada. We're now a bigger environmental pariah than just about anyone. Yay Canada .

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Nothing's infinite, but I do happen to think that we haven't tapped out our ability to create new solutions. The missing piece is motivating and rewarding actions that will make an improvement. At present we only reward those who are successful at selling more and more stuff, as cheaply as possible, over very short horizons.
Clearly we can be making different choices. As you say, our consumerist economies are built on the foundation of everyone buying as much stuff as possible; more than is possible, if you consider the high debt loads. It doesn't have to be this way -- but it is. Sadly, I see no serious signs that this will change before we fall off the cliff. In fact, all the trends are pointing in the opposite direction, with economies like China and India rapidly following North America's lead. There are hopeful signs in some parts of Europe, but not enough.

Not trying to shake your optimism LE (not that I could), but I guess I'm in Lovelock's camp now. Or as Ronald Wright puts it, I think we've fallen into a really big progress trap. I don't see any serious effort being made to get us out.
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Old 15-08-2013, 08:49   #524
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Re: Climate Change

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Don't forget about our own lovely country, Canada. We're now a bigger environmental pariah than just about anyone. Yay Canada .
yeah -sigh -. What really stings is that we're selling off tarsands oil, which is more expensive and energy-intensive to produce, at BELOW world price to the US. The oil companies are profiting handsomely... guess who takes the hit?

Quote:

Clearly we can be making different choices. As you say, our consumerist economies are built on the foundation of everyone buying as much stuff as possible; more than is possible, if you consider the high debt loads. It doesn't have to be this way -- but it is. Sadly, I see no serious signs that this will change before we fall off the cliff. In fact, all the trends are pointing in the opposite direction, with economies like China and India rapidly following North America's lead. There are hopeful signs in some parts of Europe, but not enough.
That's why it's important that North America should be leading, not the hold-out. The developing countries will follow a more efficient and less polluting path if there's one to follow.
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Old 15-08-2013, 09:39   #525
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Re: Climate Change

There is a way to reduce high level nuclear waste...it involves breeder reactors and plutonium...not the nicest stuff around. However that solution does nothing about tsunami or earth quake.
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