As the Planet Warms, Let’s Be Clear: We Are Sacrificing Lives for Profits

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Yves here. The headline is just a roundabout statement of one of Lambert’s rules of neoliberalism: “Die faster!” Lives are just cannon fodder for markets. Even the classic The Great Transformation says that unfettered markets eat up societies, as in people, until politicians (sometimes) throw sand in the gears.

But even though what author Sonali Kolhatkar argues is generally correct, she and other climate change advocates have difficulty coming to grip with the full on societal commitment to radical restructuring of provisioning, work relations, and daily activities that has to take place. Even before getting to how to get from A to B, most people are so overwhelmed with what it takes to survive that they have no surplus time or energy to invest in helping forge a new consensus, let along upending their lives. In particular, low income people are teetering on the brink of disaster. For instance, one of our former aides’ boyfriend just had his bank account frozen. He’d cleared up his child support issues over a decade ago. But his ex-wife’s child has a deadbeat father of her child, and somehow her grandfather got picked up on the child support target search, apparently due to some sort of database error that pulled up his file. And of course this sort of problem is almost impossible to fix even if you are skilled at making legalistic threats or talking down IT people, let alone if you barely have the bandwidth to engage in the struggle.

Even though this article points out that a majority of the US public accepts that climate change is real, there is a big gap between acknowledgement and action.

By Sonali Kolhatkar, the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently dropped a bombshell announcement that should have garnered news headlines in the major global and U.S. media, but did not. New WMO research concludes that “[t]here is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level for at least one of the next five years.”

WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas explained, “The 1.5 degree Celsius figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet.”

In 2015, the likelihood of reaching that threshold within five years was nearly zero. In 2017 it was 10 percent, and today it is 50 percent. As we continue to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in dizzying amounts, that percentage spikes with every passing year and will soon reach 100 percent certainty.

When average global temperatures hit the tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius, climate scientists predict that most of the Earth’s coral reefs will die off. At 2 degrees Celsius, all will die off. This is the reason why United Nations members coalesced around staving off an average global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius at the last global climate gathering in 2021.

The planet has already heated up by 1.1 degrees Celsius, and the consequences are dire across the globe.

India is experiencing its worst heat wave in 122 years, and neighboring Pakistan has broken a 61-year-old record for high temperatures. Dozens of people have already died as a result of the extreme heat.

In France, farmers “can see the earth cracking every day,” as a record-breaking drought has thrown the country’s agricultural industry into crisis mode.

Here in the United States, across the central and northeastern parts of the country, there is a heat wave so large and so severe that people from Texas to Maine experienced triple-digit temperatures in May.

Even the wealthy enclave of Laguna Niguel in Orange County, Southern California, is on fire, and dozens of homes have been destroyed. Although moneyed elites have far more resources to remain protected from the deadly impacts of climate change compared to the rest of us, occasionally even their homes are in the path of destruction, indicating that nowhere on Earth will be safe on a catastrophically warming planet.

Ironically, as extreme heat waves become more likely with global warming, humans will burn more fossil fuels to power the air conditioning they need to cool off and survive, thereby fueling the very phenomenon that leads to more extreme heat waves.

In such a scenario, it is a massive no-brainer for the world to quickly and without delay transition to renewable energy sources. Instead, President Joe Biden in April announced the sale of new leases for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands, reneging on his campaign platform’s climate pledges.

Biden did so apparently in order to increase domestic fuel supplies and thereby lower gas prices. He also raised the percentage of royalties that companies pay the federal government from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent. But no amount of dollars saved by consumers or earned in royalties by the federal government can halt the laws of physics and protect the climate.

The New York Times’s Lisa Friedman explained, “The burning of fossil fuels extracted from public land and in federal waters accounts for 25 percent of the greenhouse gases generated by the United States, which is the planet’s second biggest polluter, behind China.” Here is one area where the federal executive branch has control, and yet financial considerations have been dictating responses rather than existential ones.

After climate activists vocally denounced the move, Biden did finally cancel the drilling leases for Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department cited a “lack of industry interest” and “conflicting court rulings,” rather than pressure from activists, as the reason for the cancellation. Regardless, it is a small measure of relief for a planet that is on its way to burning to a crisp.

While Biden (and other lawmakers) claim they are driven by rising inflation and the impact of high gas prices on voters’ pocket books, it turns out the public doesn’t actually want a glut of oil and gas to help lower costs.

A new poll by the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment found that there is no longer skepticism among the public that the effects of climate change are real, as 76 percent of respondents—the highest on record since the poll started—“believe there is solid evidence that temperatures on the planet have risen over the last four decades.”

The poll also notably concluded that “Americans continue to favor reducing greenhouse gas emissions as their preferred approach for staving off the worst impacts of climate change,” and that they “remain skeptical of any pivot from mitigation toward climate policy that prioritizes adaptation, use of geoengineering or subterranean carbon storage.”

So, rather than invest in mitigating climate change or adapting to it—which is what market-driven economies favor—people, sensibly, want to stop the planet from warming in the first place.

Still, there is growing concern among climate scientists that it may already be too late for a transition to renewables. In spite of energy sources like solar and wind becoming rapidly cheaper and more accessible, overall energy consumption is increasing about as fast, as per one recent study. Mark Diesendorf, the author of the study, explained, “it is simply impossible for renewable energy to overtake that retreating target. And that’s no fault of renewable energy. It’s the fault of the growth in consumption and the fact that action has been left too late.”

Because corporate profit-based considerations have constantly dictated our energy use and climate policies, we have effectively decided that major sacrifices of lives—most likely poor people of color—will be worth the pain of relying on fossil fuels for energy.

There is an analogy to be found in the COVID-19 pandemic. For months, scientists sounded the alarm over prevention, endorsing lockdowns, masks, and vaccines to stop the spread of the deadly virus, just as climate scientists issued warnings against global warming for decades. Both science-based campaigns faced uphill battles, each with its own challenges in recommending the most rational guidelines to maximize public safety in spite of financial sacrifices (closing down most businesses and restaurants and canceling major sporting and entertainment events, in the case of COVID-19; promoting solar power subsidies, switching to wind energy, and manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles, in the case of the climate crisis). All the while, corporate interests and right-wing political opportunists successfully pushed their own agenda in the halls of power, insisting that economic growth was the most important consideration.

Today, even as COVID-19 infection rates are skyrocketing, with cases having risen by 58 percent in the last two weeks alone, mask mandates are being dropped all over the country and COVID-19-related restrictions are ending. This is not because the virus is under control—it is clearly not—but because it’s no longer financially viable for corporate America to sacrifice profits for lives. So, it will sacrifice lives for profit—just as is the case with the climate crisis.

It is worth spelling out this equation so that we know where we are headed.

As the climate changes, we begin to see where the bodies are buried—literally. Water levels in Nevada’s Lake Mead have fallen so dramatically that the remains of at least two human bodies were recently discovered. What other disturbing discoveries are in store for us?

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117 comments

  1. digi_owl

    No biggie, businesses just need to install more AC according to a Noble Prize winning economist. /s

    Reply
  2. Solarjay

    The $55 billion congress/Biden have gotten for the latest war in 2 months is enough money to install 55 GW ( billion watts) of solar.
    55GW is double what the US installed in 2021.
    With a probability that this year will be much less installed solar due to added tariffs on solar sought by Biden.
    So business as usual.

    Reply
    1. Ep3

      Solar is just not worth it. You spend close to $20k on enough panels to offset 40% of your use, which saves you about 10-20% of your bill, or about $20-30 a month. And this considers that most homes are heated & cooled by natural gas (natural gas helps run the A/C system). And this does not factor in costs for maintenance of the system, which requires electrical contractors, who deserve a livable wage.
      I know a few folks that their meters barely turn, even go backwards, as they generate more power than they are using. But they are tech savvy & can troubleshoot & fix many problems. The average homeowner would have to call an electrician, wait for their schedule to show up, not generate during that time, then pay a service call fee of at least $200 for a simple quick fix. That’s 10 months of “savings” that never materialized for the homeowner.

      Reply
      1. Ben

        I would just like to remind that just as insulation can keep the house warm in cold weather it can also keep it cool. You would also have to limit the air leakage but I believe you could significantly reduce the cost of air conditioning.

        Reply
        1. anon y'mouse

          hey, you can reduce indoor temps by about 5 degrees just by throwing down some white latex paint on your roof, supposedly.

          you can install screens on windows that prevent penetration of longer light waves, in the way that much indian/middle eastern architecture does. for example:

          https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2017/11/jali-or-latticed-window-some.html

          and, if fire prevention, water usage and climate allow, you can grow strategically placed plants that block sun, wind, etc. basements as living space help a lot, and so do whole house fans.

          for those who can afford it and whose homes are able to be retrofitted, heat pumps or a geothermal battery type system to heat and cool the house. i would love to install solar hot water here, but i don’t think our roof is oriented properly.

          electrification of everything to use for every purpose will represent a lot of waste. why not use the existing light and heat to do much of what you might need solar panels to provide electricity for?

          Reply
        2. GC54

          These problems are due to yahoo installers not the tech itself, who will emerge in great numbers if there is ever a solar or insulation (see NSW Australia) national mandate. The main tech problem remains storage; Tesla Power walls and the like based on lithium batteries are inherently expensive, unscalable jokes. One wishes for a consumer friendly, mass produced flow battery that would run without issue for 20 years. China has been buying up that tech.

          Reply
          1. Curtis Fromke

            I think the flow battery uses cobalt…which would likely face the lithium problem as well.

            Reply
              1. Bellatrix

                I am hopeful that vanadium redox batteries have a bright future. I understand that in solution, vanadium ions can be 2+, 3+, 4+ or 5+, which means they have extraordinary capacity to accept and give up electrons. I also understand they don’t degrade anywhere near as quickly as lithium batteries and the vanadium pentoxide solution can be reused ad infinitum. At the moment they are quite a bit more expensive, at least partly because they are not mass produced, so hopefully they can become more cost effective if/when adoption picks up. However, like copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium, graphite, neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium etc. etc. supply will be a major problem, particularly because vanadium is also used to significantly strengthen steel.

                Reply
                  1. Bellatrix

                    Thanks for that. It would be nice if there was a cheap, plentiful, efficient and friendly pair.

                    Reply
          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            The less electricity you need to use, the less electricity you need to store. At the very least, how might people restrict the use of electricity to those things which actually need electricity to run? Like computers?

            And eliminate the use of electricity from places it does not have to be used? Like electric pencil sharpeners and electric wine bottle openers?

            Reply
              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Good point. That is a basic illustration of the principle.

                Unless! . . . . Is electricity absolutely necessary to operate a fridge? Was there ever such a thing as a no-electricity fridge?

                here is a legacy no-electricity fridging system . . .
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icyball

                Here is a low-intensity fridging system based on evaporative cooling concepts, called the Zeer Pot ( invented by a Nigerian inventor).
                https://www.survivalsullivan.com/how-to-make-a-zeer-pot/

                Here is a video about an evaporate-cooling based fridge made of ceramic and stuff which is supposed to be very popular in India.
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHxcD7Zio-w

                and . . .
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPYzV64dUuU

                and by analogy for whole-room-cooling without electricity . . .
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt2oyaP2m6Q

                More of this in America could mean less retail-homedweller-use of electricity in America fro fridging and room-cooling.

                So far we can’t run a computer with methods like this. Which means we can’t learn from these videos without electricity to run computers.

                Reply
              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Not all by itself . . . . but a way to creative problem-solving would certainly be pointed to.

                Reply
        3. Henry Moon Pie

          One thing we can do to cut energy use for cooling in summer is plant some shade. Trees are great but take a while. I use hops for four west windows that turn an upstairs and downstairs bedrooms into saunas in the late afternoon. Right now, the hops are climbing up garden string and have reached the top of the downstairs windows. By Memorial Day, their leaves will have grown enough to provide 80-90% shade for that downstairs bedroom for which I use no air conditioning. By the 4th of July, these amazing plants will shade the upstairs windows as well.

          Prior to the hops, I used Mammoth Sunflowers, but they took longer and could not reach the top of the upstairs windows.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            The nice thing about hops and mammoth sunflowers and such is that they will not destroy a house if they fall over on it. Perhaps planting shade will involve hops and mammoth sunflowers and stuff like that more and more and more and trees less and less and less, as the global warming superstorms of tomorrow turn trees into weapons of mass destruction which no homedweller can dare to permit to grow too close to a home.

            Reply
      2. solarjay

        Here is the economics:
        National average for electricity is $.14 per kWh. Spending $20,000 dollars for solar is about 7000 watts, making about 35kWh per day x .14 = $147 month, or 1764$ per year. 11 year simple payback, but electricity is going up at around 5-8% year, including the 26% ITC tax credit means that your looking at 6 year payoff. Panels have 25 year warranty to 80%, inverters 10-15 years, its a solid investment.
        As an installer, most solar systems, I will never have to go back to ever, they are that reliable. Zero, no maintenance.

        As to natural gas for making air conditioning? totally false, not true. Most all AC units today us freon R-410 as the refrigerant. NG is used to make the electricity to power AC units.

        Reply
        1. Brian

          I do believe you are undervaluing the output by at least 50% by multiplying by only14 and then calling it monthly.

          Reply
      3. upstater

        We installed 5kw in August 2009. We produce ~6000 kwh per year. Since that time only on very rare occasions (maybe 6 deep winter months in 13 years) have we had supply charges. Our bill is $17/month connection ccharge. The inverter failed early and was covered by warranty. Most new installations do not have a single inverter, rather small ones on every panel which are cheaper and easy to fix.

        PV should be mandatory on suitable roof exposures. Along with major conservation. But the idea remains to sell consumers as much possible of everything, regardless of consequences.

        Reply
      4. truly

        I disagree with your take on the challenges of maintenance. I have 23 panels and they are 11 years old. I have not needed to do ANYTHING to keep the production going.
        The reporting system tells me that it needs an update every now and then. But the production of electricity continues regardless.

        Reply
      5. Mary Wildfire

        We installed a solar system in 2009 which is offgrid and has provided 100% of our power ever since. We added two more panels a few years ago; the first ones in 2009 cost over 4600 apiece and were 220 watts. The more recent ones provide 315 watts, are the same size, and cost $200 each. we also switched for a new set of batteries, pricey at $4000 but these are supposed to still provide 80% of full power in 20 years. We could do this because my husband is an electronics whiz and did all the figuring and installation himself, but also because we are not wasteful–we use 2 to 3 kilowatt-hours a day, 10% of what is typical in the US. You can say you refuse to give up any conveniences, any wasteful habits, but to say so is to say you don’t mind condemning our grandchildren to life–or more likely early death–on planet Hell.

        Reply
        1. michael99

          “we use 2 to 3 kilowatt-hours a day…”.

          Kudos – that is excellent. I use about 5 kWH/day or considerably more if I run the A/C.

          My refrigerator/freezer alone uses about 1.5 kWh/day. I made a really bad choice when I bought it new 6 years ago. It’s Energy Star rated but to save energy I really should have gotten something much, much smaller.

          Reply
  3. John Newsworthy

    Yes, “climate change” or “global warming” has entered the pantheon of humongous, abstract “too big to solve” world issues like “world peace” or “an end to poverty.” Although we all know that climate change is indeed a solvable issue, neoliberalism and its “Sergeant at Arms” — Capitalism — won’t allow activists, politicians with spines or other motivated players to enter the chambers of the politically connected and influential to reverse the inertia.

    More to the point, the longer it takes to tackle climate change, the more time and resistance is added to connect other related issues to this ball of yarn: pandemics, widening wealth gaps, lack of judicial reform, and more elites getting away with crimes that used to be scandals and brought shame and embarrassment to these individuals…but no more.

    Therefore, this “ball of yarn” sits triumphant in the notion that no one will try to make an estimable “coat of change” out of it; it just becomes a roadside attraction for us and, ultimately, the poorer, sicker, less educated future generations to gawk at and wonder how their forebears allowed it to get so big. (Sorry for all the clichéd analogies and word pictures, but my espresso machine is on the fritz.)

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please illuminate me as to what your solution is. All you’ve given is a lofty handwave and accused the rest of us of being lacking in imagination.

      There is nothing that is remotely adequate to the task short of radical conservation, and that does require a ton of will and cooperation.

      Reply
      1. Steven

        If the rest of the world is serious about tackling climate change, the first order of business should be for it to stop accepting more U.S. money-as-debt. Today’s world is in large part the poisonous fruit of Michael Hudson’s Super Imperialism. You need to have a plausible ‘store-of-value’ to make continuing pursuit of profits something more than an exercise in insanity. The repayment of US debt, originating in Washington and on Wall Street, has long since ceased to be plausible.

        The next step is getting the Western public to realize the huge sums of money it has been accumulating in retirement portfolios will not protect it from a deteriorating climate – or a raging pandemic. “Radical conservation” may indeed be required. But some, perhaps a very large part, of that conservation may be achievable by simply eliminating the waste.

        Start with the ‘Defense Department’ and the US military-industrial complex. Has the patent absurdity of spending a trillion dollars a year to ‘defend’ the country against an attack which if successful would kill all higher forms of life on the planet not crossed anyone’s mind? Then there is the million plus dead from the Covid pandemic in just the last two years. Throw in the planned obsolescence required to keep businesses profitable and my guess is that “radical conservation” could be achieved without the general public feeling all that much pain.

        Reply
        1. JE

          Our global economic system requires growth. The retirement savings and plans referenced do as well. Growth is currently welded to consumption and thus energy use. An incredibly serious rejiggering of attitudes, expectations, and occupations world wide is needed. I’m pessimistic.

          Reply
          1. TomDority

            Tax predatory ‘wealth’/speculative ‘wealth’ and financial asset appreciation at a higher rate than real tangible capital formation.
            Transition back to an industrial capitalism and away from a the financial capitalism we have become. “Industrial” (for me at least) evokes images of smoke stacks and pollution but, that would be my mistake….industrial capitalism can be a benefit to the source of all capital formation – which would be this planet earth.
            This re-adjustment to our current financial creditor owned government and economic system may help to alleviate the high wall of debt overhang from its damaging encirclement of scientific, social and environmental progress.
            For a president Biden, who supported and worked hard on the bill that meant non-dischargability of student debt, to then, offer debt relief to students, without acknowledging his own mistake in supporting that legislation , is a bit of the problem needing change.
            As to the war in Ukraine – seems like it is being fought for the supremacy of neo-liberal financial capitalist and not for the beacon of light that is democracy, freedom, liberty et al.
            IMHO if the man-made current economic system that favors rentierism, extraction and meta extraction of wealth and meta-wealth is not taxed into an environmentally just man-made system – then I think I am screwed. I will go as far to say that this made made economic system – perverted this time as every time throughout human history – is the greatest threat to human existence – it could be it’s best hope as well.
            At this moment the economic engine -run by man- is used to destroy, extract and repress far more that it is used to build, infuse and free.
            I suppose the media will have to learn to report outside the box of chicken little mentality and neo feudal beliefs.
            Pardon my perfusion of typos and punctuation error

            Reply
  4. Chas

    Usually I don’t bother reading the articles Yves chooses because her summaries are often better than the articles themselves. I did read this one, however, and I’m glad I did for the last sentence: “What other disturbing discoveries are in store for us?”

    A disturbing discovery I’ve been wrestling with recently is that by heating with wood for the last 40 years I’ve been harming the environment more than helping it. I got hooked on the renewable feature of wood and it’s cheap as I already own the trees. However, every tree extracts carbon from the atmosphere. Oil and coal don’t do that. So we need all the trees and we need more trees. We could choose as a nation to conserve energy but that interferes with profits. This Spring we switched to burning oil in the evaporator in our sugarhouse. It’s less profitable but saves 10 cords of wood a year, which is a lot of trees to continue to extract carbon from the air. I’ve already got next winter’s wood for the house in the woodshed, but when that’s gone I’m switching to propane. I’ll continue to use wood from trees that have blown down, but I’m not going to kill any more live trees.

    Reply
    1. digi_owl

      Burning wood for heating is at the very least carbon neutral.

      The amount of CO2 coming out should equal out the amount of CO2 absorbed while the tree was growing.

      Reply
      1. c_heale

        That assumes a new tree is growing for each one cut down. I don’t think this is the case, given all the house building and “development” going on.

        And we’re still burning millions of Amazons (the forest) in fossil fuels.

        Reply
        1. Ben

          Most (hardwood) trees re-grow if cut about 6″ above the ground, this is called coppicing. The tree re-grows very quickly as the full root system is feeding the re growth. This was used years ago before coal became available and the trees were harvested every 7 to 10 years and some are still growing.

          Reply
          1. Kris Alman

            Wow! Interesting. Do you know if sustainable forestry for mass timber projects could be promoted (especially with indigenous guidance) with this practice?

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              A version of this works to a limited extent with the Japanese evergreen Cryptomeria tree. It is called Daisugi. Here is a bunch of images with URLs for anyone who wants to go URL diving.

              https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrJ6y0mboJiML8A3VhXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZANMT0NVSTAxOF8xBHNlYwNzYw–?p=daisugi+tree+image&fr=sfp#id=0&iurl=https%3A%2F%2Fi.redd.it%2Fvou4p64pmvu51.jpg&action=click

              As to coppicing itself for forestry, including some timber, the British themselves might be the people to consult given that coppicing was perfected over some centuries in Britain. I have read that they let a few trees grow for timber ( “standards”) while coppicing all the rest for renewable yields of poles, sticks, firewood, etc.

              Reply
      2. Joe Well

        Dead trees are an important part of the ecosystem and in large part return to the earth. So not all the carbon is eventually released. Meanwhile, it could be centuries before it is released, when the worst part of the crisis may have passed.

        Reply
      3. shpedoikal

        Burning wood for heating is at the very least carbon neutral.

        The amount of CO2 coming out should equal out the amount of CO2 absorbed while the tree was growing.

        The issue with this logic is that you’re burning the wood far faster than it can be replenished. If you have 175 acres doing the replenishing, then your rate of replenishment might be higher than your use rate for heating 1 house – but we don’t have 175 acres for each home on the planet.

        But that’s not all, it’s also harmful to the people in and around the homes that use it – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/18/wood-burners-triple-harmful-indoor-air-pollution-study-finds

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Did that air pollution study very carefully omit studying Masonry Heaters and especially Rocket Stove Masonry Heater combinations . . . . in order to paint a pre-chosen picture?

          Reply
    2. GH Hunt

      Chas,
      I have solar panels, propane for baseboard heat and cooking, heat pumps and about 175 acres of forest that provides me with firewood. I live at a high elevation and we do experience power outages- pretty often now that more winter-time precip is liquid.
      Since pellet stoves, propane heat and heat pumps need electricity I find that the only 100% reliable heat source is firewood and I go into winter with a minimum of six chords.
      I simply do not know how else to prepare. And I’m not moving to “The Villages.”

      Reply
    3. Hacker

      You are correct that indiscriminate cutting may have a short term negative impact from the ability of some area of land to sequester carbon. However, you are literally missing the forest for the trees. Selective cutting can remove mature trees, and open the canopy up for other adjacent trees, which can accelerate their growth and make up for the removed tree so that the net sequestration remains stable.

      If you are going to insist that burning fossil fuels is better, then you should do all the math. Take sample measurements of your trees each year to determine how much carbon your land is sequestering. Calculate the amount of carbon that your use of fossil fuels is putting into the air. I think you will be surprised on how the math works out, but if I’m wrong, then at least you’ll be able to present real data that I can’t deny.

      Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      I am just a semi-burban layman so all I can offer are a couple of speculative ideas. One set of ideas circle around the concept of concentrating the sap with less fuel-burning energy. During the first few nights of sap-seaon, do temperatures outside still go below freezing? Does the sky get clear enough to permit infra-red radiation to radiate from the land back into space? If so, would there be a way to cool the air-adjacent surface of the sap enough to freeze some water out of it and discard the ice? Could heat- conductive metal rods or strips be put into a bunch of sap to guide heat out of the sap into the sub-freezing night-sky, thereby freezing out some water around the chill-metal strips or rods?

      What if some sap were experimentally super-pasteurised and held till the height of honeybee season? And then offered to honeybees to see if they like it and if they will make it into honey? If they will, and they do, then perhaps economically significant amounts of sap could be pasteurised and held till bee season and fed to bees to make maple sap honey. If a “sugar-house-boiler” flavor were desired, just enough of the maple honey could be sugar-house boiled to created the caremelized taste desired, and then mixed back into the honey. Just a thought.

      What about establishing some cycle-rotation cut-and-come-again coppice fuelwood plantings? Coppice is a method whereby after some years the relevant young tree-trunk or trunks is/are cut down for use and the roots and stump remain alive to grow a new round of trunks. Some people have written what they hope is a Big Magisterial Book of Coppicing All Over The World. Here is their website.
      http://www.coppiceagroforestry.com/

      Whoever it is who writes the website called Permaculture Reflections wrote about 10 best fuelwood trees for the upper midwest. He found osage orange to be such a heat-rich wood as to be worth almost half the space of the whole article. He found osage orange to be almost as heat-rich as low-grade coal. And it is coppiceable, meaning it is renewable-on-rotation. Here is that article.
      https://www.permaculturereflections.com/top-10-fuel-trees-for-zone-5-and-above/

      If some or all of these approaches seem viable, perhaps propane boiling can be a bridge to the successful rollout of one or all of these other approaches. Because fossil propane is a net carbon skyflooder just like any other fossil fuel. And if renewable coppicing of fuel-wood trees for evaporator fuel can solve the “don’t kill that tree” problem, perhaps that is an approach, once the coppice-wood orchard is fully up and fully running. And if radiative sky-freezing some water out of the sap can reduce the size of the fuel-driven evaporation problem, that makes it easier to solve. And if maple sap honey from bees is good and people will buy it, maybe with some heat-tortured maple honey added back in for that heat-torture taste, that solves most of the fuel-problem right there. If it works.

      Reply
  5. John Steinbach

    “In such a scenario, it is a massive no-brainer for the world to quickly and without delay transition to renewable energy sources.” The article later alludes to overconsumption and tells us that renewables won’t solve the problem, but no where does it talk about the imperative of radical conservation and social change.

    The time when “a transition to renewable energy resources” was possible (If it ever truly was) is long past. At this point in time, after 50 plus years of ignored warning by scientists, involuntary radical conservation will be forced by necessity due to climate change, resource depletion and other “disturbing discoveries.”

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Absolutely right. Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics is a valuable read both for its demolition of neoliberal economics (taking up where Yves left off in Econned) and its fresh way of approaching economics from the understanding that the economy is embedded in the Earth, not vice versa. She likens our situation to a plane running out of fuel. Our leadership would like to ignore the fuel gauge with the result of a nose-dive crash. More rational would be to attempt a crash landing that at least some could survive.

      Mainstreamers, even someone as at the (good) edge of the mainstream as Sonali, have a hard time broaching the subject of degrowth. We’ve all been indoctrinated so thoroughly in consumerism, growth and progress that there’s a reluctance to talk reality for fear of “turning off” the audience. We’re past the point of worrying about that, it seems to me.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Accept that you won’t reach everyone. Will you reach enough people to recruit to the degrowth cause? Will they be able to degrow those parts of the economy they can reach out and touch? Will they be able to force default degrowth upon the unwilling by just simply causing it to happen?

        Can you leverage peoples’ desire for revenge to the cause of degrowth? If the fossil carbon industries are based in the antibortion states and regions, could you recruit a hundred million probortion Americans into accepting degrowth into their hearts iand lives in such a way as to degrow every part of the fossil carbon economy they could reach out and touch, in order to get revenge on the Sharia Law Christian antibortion states and regions?

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And for that matter, what about the several million people who take global warming itself as a serious “issue” to “do something about”?

          Could they be recruited into a lifestyle of hate-based initiatives designed to downfossilize their own lives and regions as much as possible, bearing as much pain as they can bear for a lifetime in order to inflict greater pain on the Fossil Fuel Enemy?

          Reply
  6. Rolf

    In spite of energy sources like solar and wind becoming rapidly cheaper and more accessible, overall energy consumption is increasing about as fast, as per one recent study. Mark Diesendorf, the author of the study, explained, “it is simply impossible for renewable energy to overtake that retreating target. And that’s no fault of renewable energy. It’s the fault of the growth in consumption and the fact that action has been left too late.”

    The above is likely no surprise to followers of these pages. But I think that the situation is actually far worse. At the national level, the US seems to lack the essential wherewithal to do anything to protect itself, as it is utterly clear that no changes will issue from America’s political class. Corrupt is too common a word for their behavior. No US politician with any control over national energy policy deserves to call themselves a leader. Changes will have to come from ordinary citizens.

    There is some light, if 3/4 of people polled now truly recognize the reality of where the car is headed. Unfortunately it seems the remaining skeptical 1/4 are the ones still actually driving, and they include Joe Biden with Mr. Market as copilot.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Any leader of the kind you wish for will be assassinated by the Kennedy King Kennedy Killers who work for the Nazi PaperClipper DeepState RealState. And any such potential leader knows it. So you won’t find very many people willing to commit suicide-by-leadership.

      So people who want a Better GreenCulture will have to evolve for themselves and eachother the functional equivalent of a Leaderless Mass Resistance CultureWar Insurgency. In practice that might mean several hundred thousand nano-leaders . . . so many that the Nazi PaperClipper Deep State won’t even know where to begin in its efforts to assassinate or otherwise neutralize them all. Different little subculture module-loads of people will try their own different approaches to that problem. They can compare notes with eachother to see what works.

      Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    If nothing else, the Pandemic has proven that most governments will sacrifice their people in order to keep their economies going, even if it is in dire need of a complete overhaul. So people are expendable and I think that this will be the calculation used for dealing with the consequences of climate change. But it may not work out that way. What if, through climate change, that some regions become uninhabitable to human habitation? This could be through extreme heat, extreme humidity, severe flooding, etc. So what I am saying is that they are already calculating on losing people but have not considered the possibility of losing entire regions. It would be tough luck if those regions were also where major food crops are grown.

    Reply
    1. Sue inSoCal

      RK, I believe this is already happening. In the meantime, we continue to grow and develop and develop, since we apparently don’t have enough unaffordable housing. (Sarc) And on a daily basis I watch (and hear) folks act as though climate isn’t an issue. I agree the time is long past the significant institutional changes we need; we’ve kicked the can down the road far too long. Just the hoi polloi doing our part won’t cut it and hasn’t, although it’s also our job and we do it, although that “individual responsibility” theory fails, as Yves points out in her preface, so many people are on the ropes. (Speaking of individual, remember all of those GE fluorescent light bulbs?) Instead, we’re still biggering (I think I need to credit The Lorax). I just saw my first Rivian parked down the street. We’re building electric road tanks. Soon to follow- the electric Hummer. (I’ll stop before I rant on infrastructure.)

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/10/individuals-climate-crisis-government-planet-priority

      Reply
      1. GC54

        Rode in friend’s 2 yr old Tesla the other day. While waiting for him in store, I played with the display and brought up odometer. 60k miles. Even if he bought at begin of the model year, that’s a lot of driving for what exactly? He works in software.

        Reply
        1. Sue inSoCal

          Whoah!! Never been in one, but heard from my bro in law that the things pretty much drive themselves. I read somewhere obscure that Tesla owners like to drive more and he confirmed that his son, who has one, indeed drives more…(cue eye roll).

          Reply
          1. YuShan

            Of course when you invest a lot of money in an expensive car that is cheap to drive, you are going to drive more. And yes, that offsets part of the environmental savings.

            On another note, in The Netherlands (where many people cycle to work), electric bicycles have now overtaken the sales of pushbikes. Even walking is increasingly being replaced by electric scooters.

            Electrification of transport has way too much focus. We need to focus on elimination of transport instead (where possible).

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Or rider-friendly massification of transport. Or pedalization of individual unitized transport modules ( “bicycles” and “tricycles” and such).

              And integration of different transport methods. electric trains along keyroutes to keypoints. Electric buses from those keypoints to finer grained destinations along finer grained routes. Walking/biking/electroscootering from those finer grained stations and routes to the finest grained places where even the buses can’t penetrate.

              Reply
        2. Anthony G Stegman

          I’m wondering if there isn’t as much correlation between the number of miles driven and the lifespan of electric vehicle batteries. If a Tesla is fun to drive and there is little economic downside to driving lots of miles I can see the attraction for driving 60 thousand miles over two years, though I personally would not wish to be sitting behind the wheel for the number of hours required to cover those miles.

          Reply
    2. Basil Pesto

      A tangent, but biggest joke of all, imo, are the Australian Greens, who I’m sure you’ve noticed, like the two big parties, are completely ignoring Covid, even though shitting the bed has predictably become a massive natural disaster in this country. ‘Vote Climate’, their posters say, as though this party of milquetoast cucks is going to lead us to glorious salvation in the struggle against a problem as massive and complex as… the climate of the entire planet. All while ignoring the massive disaster happening right now (for those playing at home from afar: the public health situation here is monumentally grim right now, there’s a federal election in a week, and nearly all parties are ignoring it). Absolute wankers. Even Steve Keen’s TNL, while their manifesto is ostensibly quite good on SARS2, completely ignore, again, what is materially happening right now. I feel like I’m going out of my mind. Perhaps we should learn how to crawl before we tell everyone how we intend to outpace Usain Bolt. So , to your point, what do the Greens actually stand for? because national/planetary wellbeing obviously ain’t it. Unless they’re actually just completely fucking stupid.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Is Western Australia still holding the line against the Typhoid Mary Covid Zombies of non-Western Australia?

        Reply
        1. Basil Pesto

          Nope, they capitulated some time ago and, believe it or not, are struggling quite a bit now.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            They must have been subjected to some heavy pressure by NotWestern Australia to let the Covid Zombies in.

            Lets hope that the people who forced that change of policy all get Life Long Covid and suffer as they deserve.

            Reply
  8. Mikel

    Lives were being sacrificed for profit before the first climate model was ever completed.

    Look at all the here and now damage done to people in the here and now from environmental degradation.
    Chemicals & pollutants in the air and water.
    Motuntain top removal.
    The list goes on.

    The doom loop started the minute the bought and paid for FDA and other scientists decided: “Hey, just this bit of harmful chemical x in product x will be okay…go and make your money!”

    There is no solution for the existential dread being felt about the future.
    People’s lives in the future can not be saved by people that don’t give a rat’s butt about people’s lives in the HERE AND NOW.

    Reply
  9. Doc

    Unfortunately, adaptation is the name of the game going forward. Clearly, the US government has no intention of regulating capitalism and the markets. We have all the solutions and technology we need now to avoid the worst. We will not implement any of them. Our history shows that the US only takes action after a (self inflicted) crisis. I fully believe the poor will be left to suffer with the government providing very little support. My solution would be start finding the things you need locally. We can vote with our wallets and stop supporting the worst of capitalism. When the system collapses will need to come together with the people in our communities to survive. Support those local farmers and artisans producers.

    Reply
    1. Mikel

      Do you realize you just said, in so many words, that when the system collapses people are going to have to try having a civilization instead of a marketplace in order to survive?

      Reply
    2. Rolf

      Agree completely. Barring some unforeseen change in national government — and short of a million-fold pitchfork standoff that forces incumbents out of their offices and into the street, it’s difficult to imagine what this change would be — we are on our own. But there is great strength in numbers. If 75% of the population become convinced that radical self-sufficiency and conservation are the only immediate solution, then that indeed is change. And we will need to help each other, rely on our local labor, imagination, resources, and resolve.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Stack that against the Jackpot, where the elites are accepting of that 75% of the population dying off.
        It really is a war, and “they” really are trying to kill us off.

        Reply
    3. ambrit

      And gun up to establish local militias. Why? Not to defend from roving bands of Mad Max style neo-barbarians, although there will be some of that, but to defend from “foraging parties” the elites will set up to steal resources from the ‘poor’ and ‘powerless’ in the society. In the old days a proper feudal system had warriors at the top. They were, and are, and will be again, utilizers of violence and coercion to gain possession and control over resources. Think Blackwater without laws to restrain their worst impulses.
      Stay safe. Hull down.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        I really hope that it never comes to that, but if it does, I would like a chance to “remonstrate” with some neo-feudalists; knights and feudal lords were often not just brutal and ruthless, but well trained from childhood for their positions back then when compared to any of the current bunch of would be warlords. And what makes any of them think that their personal retainers would not remove them from power and “marry” their wives and daughters.

        A great threat to most people is the clueless egotism of our elites. They do not know what they do not know, nor do they have any interest in learning any inconvenient truths.

        Reply
  10. John

    Catastrophic destruction of the means by which energy is consumed is probably the only pathway to the level of conservation required. Adequate conservation will not happen voluntarily. War, war like weather events, and financial crash can do the job if scaled large enough. It is called civilizational collapse.
    I woke up this morning to discover that the last part of my 1980’s heating/cooling system is broken…the electronics are probably shot.
    The concept of central heating/cooling has to go so nature has taken its course in my house. Dead and down wood stove, electric space heater, window ac from now on.
    As much a financial decision as an ecological one. A new central heatin system is $25-30K.
    A mini split for one or two rooms is probably $5K. I’ve spent a lot of time in the 3rd world, so I know how to do it and enjoy it.
    I’m old so there’s that.
    And I’m still really well off. I’m not figuring out how to keep a nylon tent comfortable.
    As John Michael Greer says, collapse early and avoid the rush.

    Reply
  11. Carolinian

    The Feds spent millions lengthening the runway of our downtown airport and yesterday I spotted a private jet the size of a regional airliner cruising the approach pattern over my house. Perhaps a big part of the problem is not just capitalism itself but also the refusal of the wealthy to set any meaningful example in their carbon use. Reportedly the richest of our local tycoons has three jets at the airport–like those families with three car garages.

    Perhaps provoking a worldwide recession is Biden’s secret plan to put a stop to all this. One suspects, however, that it won’t be the Gulfstream owners who will be doing the sacrificing.,

    Reply
    1. Anthony G Stegman

      What’s the point of being wealthy if you can’t spend the money? I think it is absurd for anyone to think that billionaires would voluntarily forego private jets, massive yachts, multiple mansions, etc…People everywhere in the world will spend the money they have. None of us are saints. I recall that Ben Bernanke said once that billionaires are a policy mistake. He is correct in that assertion. And why stop at billionaires. Conspicuous consumption in general is a policy mistake. How to we put in place new policies to change things? That is one of the major challenges facing humankind. Carbon capture and sequestration (one of Obama’s favorite silver bullets) isn’t going to get the job done.

      Reply
    2. digi_owl

      It is funny how USA was in large part founded as an escape from the rigidity of European aristocracies, yet the same system has largely been recreated using corporations as a stand in for noble houses. I do wonder if these structures in the end arise thanks to some instincts passed down from our ape ancestors.

      Also makes me think of scifi stories i ran into about how only the interstellar church, merchants and the retinue of the imperial houses were allowed to use some ancient alien network of interstellar gateways. Because using them risked inviting some extradimensional evil or some such.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The Indian Nations are descended from the same ape ancestors as the rest of us are. So how did they prevent such aristocracies arising for thousands of years? Those among us who are not too proud to learn something . . . could learn something.

        Reply
  12. David in Santa Cruz

    In the decade of my birth (1950-1960) the world’s population grew from 2.5 billion to 3 billion.Today the world’s population is 8 billion and is projected to top 9 billion well before the end of the next decade in 2040.

    It is an illusion to “blame” climate change on capitalism, or socialism, or theocracy for that matter. My friend Prof. Andy Szasz wrote a book in 2009 called Shopping Our Way to Safety about the comforting isolation of individualistic solutions to environmental crises. The crisis will not be solved by changing patterns of consumption when the problem is too many human beings consuming anything at all.

    We will see more hoarding, more rationing, more taking, more flora and fauna becoming extinct, while our elites party like it’s the End of Days. This is our reality. We can’t stop the Extinction Event; hopefully we can alleviate some of the inevitable human suffering it will cause. I find the idea of causing a die-off involving anyone but myself to be morally repugnant.

    Reply
    1. anon y'mouse

      somehow, your calculation doesn’t work if we were all living at the level of the average Indian or African peasant. there is some upward limit due to resources, but who really knows what it may be since that is incredibly dependent upon the technological level at which people are living.

      unfortunately, they would much rather live like us so we’re all moving in the wrong direction.

      to say that it has “nothing to do” with economic systems is bunk. the economic system of growing food locally and not moving around and relying upon the near environment to provide things for living on is a lot different than rentier-centered industrial or “post” industrial (computer age)capitalism in energy usage. with each iteration, our needs for energy per capita have increased.

      how does that figure into your calculations? and i’m generally a “fewer humans would be better, as long as that comes through enlightened free choice” individual.

      Reply
      1. David in Santa Cruz

        Burning petrochemicals is not the sole contributing factor to human-caused climate change. There used to be a children’s book used in potty-training titled, Everyone Poops. Preparing, consuming, and excreting food is something that every society does.

        Well over 40% of the population of India is projected to be “urban” by 2030, but the hundreds of millions of so-called “peasants” squatting on dirt floors cooking over dung fires are still a major contributor to global warming, as is the industrially-produced wheat from which they bake their chapati.

        We might force a few tens of millions of North Americans to squat in dirt-floored tipis to stir their rice-and-beans while choking their tuburcular lungs on organically-grown marijuana, but that is hardly going to prevent them from preparing, consuming, and excreting their rice-and-beans into the environment.

        Which is na’ gon’ happen unless Tony and Lloyd succeed in provoking a Nuclear Winter…

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How exactly do the dirt floor peasants cooking with dung contribute to global warming? Any facts and figures on the percent of their contribution?

          Reply
          1. David in Santa Cruz

            The work of Professor Emeritus V.R. “Ram” Ramanathan of the U.C. Scripps Institute shows the significant contribution of population growth and cooking fires to the smoke plume covering the Bay of Bengal:

            https://ramanathan.ucsd.edu/

            This is not to understate the extreme contribution of European-American industrial civilization to climate change. It is only to emphasize the understatement of the impacts of the quadrupling of world population in the past 60 years.

            People in Africa and India are quite desperate to raise their standards of living and are hardly comforted by Western Luddites. In fact, the current global population is likely unsustainable without industrial agriculture and the massive consumption of carbon-based fuels.

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              If cooking-fire “smoke” is the problem over the Bay of Bengal, then smokeless cooking-fire stoves is the solution to the “smoke” problem. And various people and groups have developed various total-combustion zero-smoke stoves.

              Here is some Aprovecho Institute research and achievement on that score.
              http://aprovecho.org/category/rocket-stoves/

              And here is a set of instructions for making a “Haybox Cooker” ( a passive heat-retention box for putting a near-boiling potfull of whatever into so it keeps cooking on its own retained heat).
              https://www.instructables.com/hay-box-cooker/

              So the Bay of Bengalians could do their cooking with a tiny fraction of the heat they use now, and with release of zero smoke. Now, if they don’t want to do that because “culture”, then they will just have to figure out their own other way to pass through the Darwin Filter. In which case, I wish them luck.

              Reply
              1. David in Santa Cruz

                Right! Those poor women squeezing through the Darwin Filter will have no Darwinian and/or Malthusian impact on anyone but themselves!

                BTW, Prof Ramanathan and his colleagues spent a great deal of time and resources on the ground bringing just the low-smoke cookers you describe directly to the poverty-stricken and culturally isolated women of the Ganges Valley.

                Because the point that I am making is that while population-driven climate change is a given; ameliorating human suffering is not — unless we choose that path.

                Reply
                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  One Koch Brother has a bigger warming impact than many thousands of Bengalian women.

                  Focusing on the Bengalian women is a diversionary tactic designed to draw attention away from the Koch Brothers in particular and on Fossil Fuel Industrial Civilization in general.

                  Its a very clever gambit if it works. Will it work?

                  Reply
                  1. David in Santa Cruz

                    Well, David Koch died in 2019, Fred Koch died in 2020, and there actually are tens of millions of people cooking over cow dung in the Ganges Valley, so there’s that.

                    My deep concern is that it’s all 8 billion of us human beings who are daily consuming what Koch Industries is selling. Over half of us — 4.5 billion — live in cities and are dependent on industrial civilization for our very survival. Cut off our access to fossil fuels and petrochemicals see how that works out.

                    I’m not advocating sleight-of-hand on behalf of petro-industrial civilization, I’m simply suggesting that railing against it without consideration for planetary carrying capacity and the unprecedented number of lives currently in being is a recipe for human suffering on an unprecedented scale.

                    Even if 8 billion people could turn en masse to subsistence farming tomorrow, their cooking fires and cesspools are much more than Mother Earth was designed to handle. Humanity rode industrial civilization — whether capitalistic, socialistic, theocratic — into this box canyon.

                    BTW, Prof. Ramanathan works with Pope Francis, not Charles Koch.

                    Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      There’s no question that population growth has been a factor, but economic growth, required for capitalism to survive, is a bigger contributor. Check out the EN-ROADS simulator that comes out of the MIT system thinker tradition and Donella Meadows of The Limits to Growth fame. Slide the population growth lever to its minimum and not the effect on temperature increase at the upper right. Then return it to its baseline midpoint. Now try the economic growth slider to its minimum. Note that the change in temperature is larger.

      That’s not surprising considering that the world’s richest 10% contribute 50% of carbon emissions. The first thing we could do, if we were a sensible society, is end all this conspicuous consumption.

      Reply
  13. Dave in Austin

    Our Earth is suffering from a skin infection. The infectious agent is a unique, recently evolved biped which appears to have originated in Africa but which has now become endemic throughout the Earth’s surface. The agent multiplies and feeds like a virus or bacteria, but each biped is 5-7 orders of magnitude larger than the usual bacteria, so both the infection and the Earth’s resulting inflammatory responses are larger than usual.

    Previous outbreaks of such large infectious agents have been treated with the statistically valid method of meteor strikes to disrupt the breeding cycle. But the speed of this novel agent’s multiplication is unprecedented. We simply can no longer wait for meteors. Even more unusual, this infestation seems to have evolved a group communication system akin to that of the aspen tree’s root system. And some individual agents are actually making a claim that they have a right to infect this and other planets.

    The good news is that like any healthy, non red-dwarf planet, Earth is evolving defenses to reduce this infection and the resulting inflammation. Recently we have begun to apply various apocalyptic agents to disrupt the feeding and breeding cycles. We have also discovered that as this new infection grows into larger and denser clumps, it emits chemicals which limit reproduction (a technique previously documented in fish and rodents) and also begins to exhibit social behavior it refers to as Darwinism and Genocide (previously reported in apes and insects).

    I’m sure this unprecedented plague will soon pass although the infectious agent is likely to become a minor, endemic annoyance. The reduction in the scale of this plague is already underway and accompanied by one unusual feature. The individual infectious agents have become so accustomed to thier recent history of rapid multiplication that they are now using the evolved group communications system to disseminate what are called “plans” and “programs” to disrupt the Earths inflammatory response. The infectious agents appear to have a novel believe they have a right to continue to exist and multiply based on what they call “The right to life”, a theory usually propounded by those individual infectious units that believe in what are called “God” or “Human Dignity”.

    Most unusual behavior.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Indian Nations who up-terraformed the Amazon before the Germocaust of European Exploration were not an “infectious agent”.

      It is self-misleading to confuse “Modern Industrial Civilization Man” with “Mankind”. If some non-infectious agent Congo Pigmies or Alpaca Herders or Yak Herders survived this process which they have done precisely zero to cause or add to, would that disappoint you?

      Reply
      1. albrt

        I think it was the premise of a science fiction novel I read in the late ’70s. The title and author escape me, but if I recall correctly it featured people being dumped into a mine and forced to mine semi-precious stones in exchange for food.

        Reply
        1. AGR

          Sadly, a problem seems that there are psychopaths that read them as “how-to’s” as opposed to warnings…

          Reply
  14. Susan the other

    iirc, Henrik Svensmark started out c. 2014 saying that our current global warming was caused primarily by the sun being more active – hotter – and causing less cloud formation (because the sun’s radiation shields our atmosphere from cosmic radiation which ionizes in our atmosphere, creating clouds which cool the planet). He went on to say that global warming was not primarily caused by us spewing CO2 into the atmosphere, but by the sun preventing sufficient cloud cover. And, furthermore, he said that the sun was due to end its latest hot cycle and begin to cool it. So now he is back after having been slandered and ignored by the British and Americans (but accepted by the Japanese) with more evidence that his theory is accurate. And creating clouds is now one of the projects of the military in an attempt to cool the surface of the planet. And to make things all the more interesting, but not particularly hopeful, Jim Hansen has now disclosed his latest research on sulfate aerosols – an unexpected thing happened when we scrubbed sulfate aerosols (and other industrial pollutants) from our smokestacks – global warming accelerated. GW accelerated because sulfate aerosols in clouds are more effective at reflecting the sun away from the heat absorbing surfaces of the earth (land and oceans) than natural clouds which allow more sun radiation to hit the planet. Hansen isn’t recommending that we go back to coal, he is still blaming CO2 and methane and insistent that we get it out of the atmosphere. He is advocating nuclear power to that end. So the research is still where we thought it was, but with more interesting detail. One thing that could fool us would be the sun going into a cooler phase and we’ll naturally think that the cooling is due to some action on our part. Even though “our action” isn’t even a drop in the bucket. And that’s gonna catch us up. What all this science has to do with our economic rationalizations and decisions is critical. But the one thing that looks rock solid is the need to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere. This big inconvenient truth requires us to practice extreme conservation. We are simply confronted with creating an entirely new economy to save the planet, one not based on consumption. And a total mobilization… without petroleum. This is difficult politically because the people most in danger are not the poor-long-time-resilient people. The endangered class is the frantic billionaire and corrupt politicians. We can stop buying all that crap and grow a garden.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And even those of us who can’t stop buying all that crap and grow a garden . . . . can stop buying as much of that crap and grow half a garden.

      ” Quantity has a quality all its own”.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Did Svensmark predict the warmup the way the Greenhouse Gas Warmists predicted it? If he did not, where they did, then his theory lacks any predictive value where their theory was already by 2014 shown to have predictive value. And his theory looks like after-the-fact rationalization of some sort, or maybe a bunch of ” look-at-me-aren’t-I-smart” self-promoting display. So Svensmark don’t impress me much.

      And if we want to prevent the death-of-all-seafood from ocean acidation, we will have to reduce the skycarbon load in any case, quite independent of heatness or coolness.

      Reply
      1. Susan the other

        His charts correlate cosmic particles (in sediment) over centuries with the climate. And I agree, the oceans are our biggest problem. Why we can’t create a new economy based on recycling and clean-up is a mystery. It would be as good an economic engine as producing material goods.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Why can’t us create such an economy? Because them own the economy and them won’t let us create the economy you describe.

          If us could round up and exterminate them , then them would no longer be alive to get in us’s way as us work to create the economy you describe.

          ” We?” No! Not “we”! Us or us not. There is no “we”.

          Reply
    3. Aumua

      He went on to say that global warming was not primarily caused by us spewing CO2 into the atmosphere, but by the sun preventing sufficient cloud cover. And, furthermore, he said that the sun was due to end its latest hot cycle and begin to cool it.

      The thing about that is, we have very accurate direct readings of the sun’s radiation output for at least the last 60 years, and we can infer as much through indirect methods going back quite some more time. And I could be wrong, but I don’t believe any correlation has been shown to exist between that output and the current warming trend. The sun’s activity for the last couple 11 year cycles has been declining actually, and yet the warming continues unabated and indeed is accelerating. So I don’t know what it is about physicists, but they seem to love being contrarians about the climate change thing for some reason.

      Does the sun’s energy have anything to do with climate changes? Undoubtedly it does, but I think the general consensus is that the forcing from greenhouse gas increases is much greater.

      Reply
  15. Gusgus 2021

    I been selling solar kits since 2009,and I have come to the conclusion nobody really cares ,the only people who really buy systems are older guys ,there are exceptions, but even my family who are “progressives” do not care
    They live in big houses ,new cars ,shop non stop ,leave the lights on ,I even tried to get them to help with the shop and they all just walked away .
    I live in a tiny house and I have been called loser or how I live in a shack
    People just dont care

    Reply
    1. LawnDart

      Tiny dwellings are the bomb– the savings of time and money make it so worth it! I personally rent an efficiency from a landlord I trust, which works out great because I travel a lot– he takes care of the yard and any maintenance (and will take in the mail if I get stuck on the road).

      I could afford to service the note on a McMansion in the ‘burbs, but why? And I shudder at the thought at having to dwell amongst people who think that that type of housing is a good and healthy thing, and unlike many of them, I am neither pressed for cash or time.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I would suggest that you can’t be the only person who cares. There are probably other ” gusguses” thinly sprinkled across the whole 3 million square miles of America. How do the “gusguses” who care find eachother so as to amplify, deepen, entrench eachothers’ knowledge and stand ready to assist the other thinly sprinkled people who care when such people reveal themselves? Or are revealed?

      Are the solar kits you sell hand-crafted and hand-designed? Or are they made by a company with a name and a website and so forth? And if so, what might that name and website be, in case any lonely “gusguses” are reading this thread?

      Reply
    3. Falls City Beer

      I think people care. But this is America so nothing will change until the act of greening our technologies is cheaper and more convenient than the status quo. It’s much improved, but we’re not there yet.

      Plus we haven’t fully figured out how to virtue-signal the hell out conservation. Once we solve that riddle…

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Virtue-signal . . . Virtue signal . . . “You keep using that word. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

        Virtue-signal means a cost-free public display of your virtue on a subject. But the display has to be cost-free to you the displayer. For example, if you make a public point of demanding that I sign a petition to make someone else do something, that is virtue signaling on your part.

        Conservation is very costful. It is not cost-free virtue-signalling so I don’t think it can be virtue signalled. It can be virtue-practicing, in that it is a virtuous practice. And if one is practicing virtuous conservation, one could very well truthfully brag about the conservation one is practicing. That would be virtue-horntooting. Which is very different than virtue signalling. And if one has the virtue to horntoot, why not horntoot one’s virtue? As long as it is real virtue?

        I myself think we will have some opportunities to mobilize and organize and leverage hatred and revenge to achieve conservation without any virtue needed. For example, as the Christian Sharia Law Movement deepens its aggression against human rights and huwoman rights, more humen and huwomen will look for ways to get effective revenge against their anti-rights enemies. They will look for ways to destroy the lives of people who seek to destroy their lives.

        If the coal, gas and oil industries are concentrated in the antibortion states and regions, then destroying those industries could be an effective way to get revenge on those people and regions.
        If a hundred million probortionists are given a genuine reality-based reason to think that by rearranging their own lives and probortion-region economies around deep antigas, anticoal, antioil conservation could destroy their enemies’ economy so thoroughly as to actually weaken or even destroy their enemies’s power to enforce Christian Sharia Law against the probortionists, then you might get a hundred million probortionists to create a genuine culture-war designed to exterminate the fossil fuel sector from existence so as to destroy the power of the antibortion populations who make their money off of fossil fuel jobs.

        People who would prefer a kumbaya liberal approach can certainly practice that instead, and see where it gets them. Perhaps they are right and I am wrong. I am willing to let Darwin decide.

        Reply
  16. drumlin woodchuckles

    I remember a saying from the ’60s . . . ” two, three, many Vietnams”.

    I would think a good saying going forward might be . . . ” two, three, many Laguna Niguels”. When Laguna Niguel burned, maybe that got the attention of a handful of the “right class of people”. If we could have hundreds and then thousands of ” Laguna Niguel” fires and “Laguna Niguel” Harvey Floods and ” Laguna Niguel” Cat 6 hurricanes and ” Laguna Niguel” F6 tornadoes all visiting the right “Laguna Niguels”, then enough of the “right class of people” might feel personally involved in the permission-to-change process to force the permission of change. How many Laguna Niguelans would it take to fund the creation of a Private Army big enough to exterminate the Koch Brothers’s Private Army, so as to be able to strip the Koch Brothers of their physical protection and reach out and touch the Koch Brothers personally?

    The other “force for change” might come from millions of “little people” who are motivated by long-term seeking of long-term revenge. Many of those “little people” might have their very limited political-involvement bandwidth-resources already committed to a danger to themselves and people like them which they already see. I would suggest the probortion community is one such limited bandwidth-resource group of people. So how might their involvement for probortionism be leveraged on behalf of down-fossilization? If it were discovered that antibortionism often fellow-travels with pro-fossilism, and that those parts of the country most dependent on the coal, gas and oil industries were also most antibortion, then if tens of millions of probortionists could be convinced that degrading and attriting the coal , gas and oil industries would wreak unbearable and irreversible vengeance against the antibortionists who staff those industries, then they would be motivated to follow their vengeance against their enemies to bend their efforts towards defossilization of their own probortion economies in order to degrade and attrit the antibortion fossil-based economy regions.

    (And that is how what might have looked at first like a thread-jacking in progress reveals itself to be a thread-reinforcement instead.)

    Reply
    1. Anthony G Stegman

      Speaking of the Laguna Nigel fires the latest thought is the damage was so widespread due to a combination of large homes that were not built to the latest fire resistance specs. While climate change can be included as a contributing factor the fires were so damaging due to the size of the residences, as well as the type of construction and the fact that large homes were sited relatively close to each other.

      Reply
  17. eg

    I am increasingly fearful that the dystopic outcome will feature wars of extermination to prevent “others” from ongoing fossil fuel use.

    Reply
  18. Anthony G Stegman

    The majority of people in the “developed” world firmly believe that there are technological solutions to every problem facing mankind. Air conditioning has allowed many millions of people to live in hot and humid environs that would otherwise be largely uninhabitable. Eight billion people can live on the planet because crop yields have increased many fold due to clever genetic engineering. California can host 40 million people due to the engineering of vast water conveyance systems. Many diseases once killed millions, but are now largely manageable due to the development of various drugs and vaccines. The confidence level remains high that climate change driven issues will be mitigated by the application of more technology, including even the cloning of extinct flora and fauna. Perhaps this confidence is misplaced, but for now at least most people are keeping the faith. This is why business as usual remains the order of the day.

    Reply
    1. SocalJimObjects

      When all else fails, we can always shoot someone inside a rocket towards Krypton. He/she will become a God.
      Oh wait, did I get the story wrong.

      Reply
    2. tegnost

      crop yields have increased many fold due to clever genetic engineering

      probably not, but patents have certainly increased due to clever shenanigans…

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Gabe Brown claims that his no-Haber no-Bosch no-GMO corn yields outyield his neighbors’s
        Haber Bosch GMO corn yields. If he is correct, then he stands as a counterexample to the assertion that “clever genetic engineering” has “increased” yields.

        Reply
    3. Rod

      Thanks for your reminder.
      I think you are on to a significant underlying contributor—in the ‘developed’ world.
      And the other world recognizes the pattern.
      It’s complex way more than I imagined for way more reasons too.
      But we need to find the switch—whatever it is.

      Reply
  19. George

    Those large homes lost in the Laguna Nigel fires were what is known to the affluent as legacy homes and did not survive the wealth transfer they represent. These home owners sequester funds for future maintenance required because the plan was to pass them down through the family elite. They are a huge personal lost and we all will suffer higher home insurance rates for their replacement.
    If you have ever wondered why some leave such huge footprints behind, to me this explains it.

    Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the WH roof and other conservation approaches. They turned the freeway speed limits down and encouraged energy responsibility. If you compare that with the petal to the metal of today one should be at the least embarrassed. At times I think we all have become pirates as we have adopted their attitude of taking all we can get and give nothing back. And the planet suffers.

    Reply
    1. Anthony G Stegman

      Many of the owners/residents of the homes in Laguna Nigel hail from parts of the world that value excess – large homes, large vehicles, living large in general.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Higher Insurance costs mean we will all lose “something”. But the actual Laguna Niguelian trophy home-owners lost everything. If so many Laguna Niguels can burn down to zero that the remainder are tortured and terrorised into permitting the substantial de-fossil-fuelization of civilization, then the pain of higher insurance costs will be the pain of successful survival. And if successful survival is deemed to be “worth it”, then the pain will have been “worth it”.

      If we could have several “petro-millionaires row” zones destroyed with zero survivors in category 7 or 8 hurricanes or in F 7 or 8 tornadoes, then the people in the “other” petro-millionaires row” neighborhoods might be weather-terrorised into permitting us to solve the global warming problem.

      Reply
  20. Mary Wildfire

    there is one flaw in the argument here, the assumption that we could convert to renewable energy and thus avert 1.5 degrees if only we’re willing to spend the money to speed up that conversion. The money could easily be found, that’s not the problem. The problem is that all kinds of toxic and unjust mining is required to build solar panels, windmills and batteries; and also a great deal of power–power which must come from fossil fuels, since that’s what’s available now. If we embarked on a massive campaign of building out renewables, as we should have done 25 years ago, and did not simultaneously drasticly reduce how much fossil fuels we burn for everything else, it would cause a massive spike in emissions, enough to chuck us right over that 1.5 degree mark And electricity generation is 20% of energy use–we need solutions in transportation, agriculture and manufacturing as well. Which would be possible if we were to finally grow up and accept limits. Biden is assuming we won’t, and that we care about the price of gas a lot more than climate mitigation.,

    Reply

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