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Last Build Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2017 03:08:45 +0000


Comment on Unforced Variations: Dec 2017 by Thomas

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 03:08:45 +0000

The Guardian is reporting about "the new normal" ? "California governor Jerry Brown on Saturday saw for himself the “existential consequences” of huge and deadly wildfires in the state. 'It was an inferno': southern Californians left dumbstruck by week of wildfire hell He did so having told network TV that Donald Trump did not appreciate that actions such as withdrawing the US from the Paris climate deal might contribute to more such devastating events. Firefighters continued to battle six wind-whipped blazes that authorities said on Sunday have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and other buildings. The fires have also forced more than 200,000 people to flee and choked the air across much of the region. Forecasters predicted wind gusts to become more intense by Saturday night, challenging the 8,700 firefighters who have been battling the blazes for five days. Brown surveyed damage from the Thomas Fire and met emergency management officials and residents. “This is the new normal,” he said. “We’re about ready to have firefighting at Christmas. This is very odd and unusual.” " interesting 'phraseology' there imo.

Comment on Unforced Variations: Dec 2017 by nigelj

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 23:17:12 +0000

Zebra, you asked me for my "vision" or design for future society, in environmental and general terms. I'm reluctant, because of the failed visions of communism, and equally dubious ultra free market Ayn Randian visions. And because of the troubles you get with crystalising Killians sorts of plans, which suggests he might be right to talk more about principles, rather than plans as such. But here goes anyway, very briefly: Over long term time scales I see a smaller global population of maybe 3 billions, living in cities but with low rise passive solar design homes and offices. Clearly smaller population is more sustainable and means we don't have to cut consumption per capita as much. But several billions would maintain a decent level of technology and trade. I see people consuming less rubbish than today, and in modest size homes, but still a high technology society of reasonable consumption levels as opposed to a peasant economy. I see smaller scale regenerative farming but combined with maybe laboratory creation of foods. I see democratic government, but with more direct voter participation in specific decision making, and a strong rule of law especially environmental law. I see a strong focus on human rights and tolerance of people who are different, but not tolerance of behaviour that damages others peoples well being. I see an economy of private ownership, (although this is not absolutely essential, and certainly doesn't have to apply to all assets), and general market style economy. I see an economy of zero growth overall but with some areas growing within this and some shrinking. Its more about specific growth and its implications, and quality growth that doesn't wreck the environment rather than a precise level of growth. But as I say plans are one thing, and its possibly better to just get things pointing in a sane direction.

Comment on Unforced Variations: Dec 2017 by nigelj

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 19:45:29 +0000

BPL @73 all your points A-E make sense. However stopping growth sooner rather than later is so simplistic. Don't you think we have to consider the different circumstances of developed countries and developing countries, and also consider what forms of growth are ok environmentally (and in other ways), and what forms aren't? Some of the most seriously concerning forms of growth are fossil fuel use, nitrate fertilisers, pesticides, and heavy polluting industry.We are fortunate to have less damaging alternatives that may permit growth but at lower rates (eg renewable energy and permaculture). Some industrial polluting output could be much better mitigated just with technical fixes, rather than reducing quantity of industry, if only there were better laws forcing this. The next problem is the rate we are using up mineral reserves. But the question of how much we should slow down is complicated to assess especially as dealing with climate change requires renewable energy etc as the main practical option. Consumption would have to be phased down slowly. I think two things have to change 1) overall rates of growth have to slow medium term but not stop 2) the composition of that growth has to change, and outputs must be better controlled. Any thoughts?

Comment on Unforced Variations: Dec 2017 by nigelj

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 19:02:20 +0000

Zebra You talked about dealing with climate change and other problems with a much smaller population, and America having a very small population of maybe 10 million. I agree its desirable and extremely important to at least consider these scenarios IMO this is how it could be quantified. I'm assuming we are talking about optimal population size for millenia. We can work back from that if you want to something more practical. Optimal population size would have to consider a) resource use that is sustainable and b) pollution that is at sustainable levels (obviously very low) and other factors but those are the big ones. Calculating this is mega difficult. However we know environmental pressures became unsustainable at least early last century when Americas population was about 70 million people. We know that hunter gatherer populations appear sustainable with numbers of a couple of million. Its tricky to know because some hunter gatherers put quite a lot of pressure on native species and it easy to idealise about these cultures as if they were perfect. Therefore the optimal population in America is somewhere between say a couple of million and say 50 million. This is all still a guess really, but its likely to be somewhere there. But you also have to consider the ability to recycle materials, and how many people are required to sustain a decent level of technology and a viable society, and finally what level of lifestyle you are prepared to live with. A truly sustainable eternal nirvana might be at shockingly low levels of consumption. My guess is maybe 50 million is optimal level that balances all these things pragmatically. 10 million seems too low to sustain enough scale and technology, but I'm open minded about all numbers. I know countries that are small trade and build an interconnected global society but its hard to consider all this, so I'm thinking mainly of America as one country as a starting point. If you have a better idea PLEASE DO SO and don't accuse me of not at least attempting to quantify it. And to reinforce an earlier comment lower population can only be part of the climate change problem because its a slow thing to reduce population, and climate problem mainly requires reduction of fossil fuel burning.

Comment on Unforced Variations: Dec 2017 by MA Rodger

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 18:46:39 +0000

Fid @76, An analysis that extracts the imprint of Sol, Vol & ENSO from temperature series has been done before, usually using Multiple Regression Analysis (eg Foster & Rahmstorf 2011) which examines GISS, NOAA, HadCRUT & RSS as well as UAH). Why Christy & McNader decide to dream up their own method is an interesting thought (and using SST & Vol but no Sol). It does seem to allow them the luxury of taking off a fair amount of trend to leave a wonderously small result. Thus they convert a TLT record with a trend of +0.155 K/decade into an adjusted one with a +0.096 K/decade trend. But just a little look at the data and you may note the very ends (Years 1979 & year 2017) have no net adjustments and taking the difference of their unadjusted averages and dividing by the decades between, we arrive at a trend of +0.153 K/decade. And if we use RSS TLT data instead of the dubious TLT output from UAH, a similar calculation yields +0.205 K/decade. Of course, the '+0.096 K/decade trend' is not the entirety of Christy & McNader (2017) (which for some reason resides in a vault on the planet Wattsupia), but suggesting their adjusted trend could be over 100% out does make a bit of a mess of their eventual bold conclusions.

Comment on Unforced Variations: Dec 2017 by Kevin McKinney

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 18:21:32 +0000

Barton, #73-- I've made many of those points myself, as you may recall. In fact, I made D) and E) pretty explicitly in the same comment you were replying to. So you needn't worry that I've suddenly turned into a Killian acolyte. But I'm very interested in the question of what a sustainable society would really look like. And Killian pushes that question persistently and provocatively, which makes him a good gadfly for a highly necessary inquiry--even a better one, given more devotion to the relevant topic and less to emotional reactivity. IMO. Turning to zebra's comment: thanks, zebra, for the compliment, and no, I wasn't conflating things, just trying to be relatively succinct. So let me expand a bit. I think the '3 goals' of mitigation, adaptation, and sustainability are well-stated. I'd differ about population, though, not in the sense that you're wrong about its importance, but that I think that, in fact, we 'started' on it about 35 or 40 years ago. And, despite the fact that population has continued to increase, it's actually not a bad start, given the 'growth momentum' that was built into historical cultures and into the demographic structure. (Forgive me pontificating a bit here; I suspect that a lot of this is well-known to most of us. But I want to make my premises clear.) Population growth rates have plummeted since 1970, so much so that places like Japan have a problem with a 'greying population.' Quite a few European nations are experiencing negative population growth. It's unclear, I think, how much of the change is due to policy and how much, social evolution driven by technological and economic change. Which, of course, is not to say that all is well with the world. We still have pockets of high fertility, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, and it's not clear that the 'demographic transition' is necessarily irreversible. So we need to keep working. I'd take the most effective actions to be the implementation and determined support of measures like the UN sustainable development goals: (I'm linking these as illustrative, not necessarily ideal--so if you wish to criticize them, have at it, but don't assume I'm propagandizing for them in their entirety.) But the main point here is that population has a lot of inertia. An illustrative BOTE calculation: If we approximate global population now to 7.5 billion, and assume a crude mortality rate of about 8 per thousand, then about 60 million people die each year. If the birth rate were magically to drop to 0 tomorrow, and if the absolute number of people dying each year magically stayed the same, then we'd be extinct in 125 years. (That's about a human lifetime, which perhaps gives a little reassurance that maybe the extreme crudity of this calculation doesn't render it totally pointless.) That also means that in just 20 years, the population would still be well over 6 billion. But that's probably also just about the most optimistic time frame that we have to get to net zero emissions. My conclusions: !) Population reduction sufficient to address the mitigation goal can only be achieved by massive increases in the global death rate--reducing the birth rate even to zero is not adequate. Put bluntly, the only way to use population control to mitigate emissions is genocide on an u[...]

Comment on Fall AGU 2017 by Paul Pukite (@WHUT)

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 17:37:10 +0000

"I always thought collecting thousands of geoscientists on a famous fault line showed a certain amount of chutzpah so, in these days of concern about climate change, moving the meeting to New Orleans seems like a good idea … ummm." I think one of the significant recent findings in geophysics is the influence of lunisolar forcing or tidal stress on the triggering of earthquakes. Initiation of Plate Tectonics on Exoplanets with Significant Tidal Stress This idea is going beyond earthquake triggering to other events, such as SSW SA13A-2269: Relationship between lunar tidal enhancements in the equatorial electrojet and tropospheric eddy heat flux during stratospheric sudden warmings

Comment on Unforced Variations: Dec 2017 by Hank Roberts

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 17:19:34 +0000

and most of all, that F) what he says is clear, but everybody is either too stupid and lazy to get it or is deliberately lying about it.
Hey, that tactic worked for "45" ...

Comment on Fall AGU 2017 by Dan DaSilva

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 13:53:27 +0000

Funny to see Dan Rather on the list of highlights. He is stuck with the famous George Bush national guard letter. The letter was a fake but never the less it was accurate according to Rather. Reminds me of the Hockey Stick. Hope that not all scientists see this as a highlight but many will.

Comment on Unforced Variations: Dec 2017 by zebra

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 13:45:00 +0000

BPL #72, "That population growth and new-resource-use have to stop (and, in the long run, reverse) to save the planet is trivial" I give nigel a hard time about quantitative thinking, so to be fair... I'm not asking for a number, like "what do you mean by 'long run' ". But, if we know this must happen, what possible reason is there not to undertake it right now? Aren't we talking about a continuous function? There's no such thing (nigel, take note) as a cause that will stop population growth but not cause it to decline. (Unless your utopia includes direct government control of individual reproduction, which I'm sure it doesn't.) We know that certain conditions (specifically, of individual choice) lead to TFR below replacement. So, until we approach the constraints that I have enumerated... 1. Sufficient numbers to maintain genetic diversity. 2. Sufficient numbers to maintain specialization (that is, a technological culture where everyone isn't a small farmer)... there's no reason to not go all out for reduction. As I said just above to KM and have supported previously, all the good stuff, like minimized liquidation of natural capital, follows.