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Dying in the Anthropocene II: LQD

by Crazy Horse Wed Dec 18th, 2013 at 03:12:48 PM EST

Remember that dire diary i posted some while back, regarding how close we are to catastrophe in our lifetimes? Dying in the Anthropocene

The Nation: Coming Instant Planetary Emergency


I haven't returned to Mount Rainier to see just how much further that glacier has receded in the last few years, but recently I went on a search to find out just how bad it might turn out to be. I discovered a set of perfectly serious scientists--not the majority of all climate scientists by any means, but thoughtful outliers--who suggest that it isn't just really, really bad; it's catastrophic. Some of them even think that, if the record ongoing releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, are aided and abetted by massive releases of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, life as we humans have known it might be at an end on this planet. They fear that we may be at--and over--a climate change precipice hair-raisingly quickly.

Good journalism, from serious scientists out on the edge.


Will try to add to this LQD over time. Right now I'd only wish to remind everyone that the former renewable energy center of the world, Germany, is now importing Mountain Top Removal coal.

Digest that, please.

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This is the sum of all fears. From the article in The Nation:
"We as a species have never experienced 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of evolutionary biology, natural resources, and ecology at the University of Arizona and a climate change expert of twenty-five years, told me. "We've never been on a planet with no Arctic ice, and we will hit the average of 400 ppm...within the next couple of years. At that time, we'll also see the loss of Arctic ice in the summers.... This planet has not experienced an ice-free Arctic for at least the last three million years."

As an alumnus of the University of Arizona let me tell you how radical that university is NOT. Note that McPherson is an emeritus.
* October 2009: The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research releases an updated prediction, suggesting a 4C temperature increase by 2060.

  • November 2009: The Global Carbon Project, which monitors the global carbon cycle, and the Copenhagen Diagnosis, a climate science report, predict 6C and 7C temperature increases, respectively, by 2100.

  • December 2010: The UN Environment Programme predicts up to a 5C increase by 2050.

  • 2012: The conservative International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook report for that year states that we are on track to reach a 2C increase by 2017.

  • November 2013: The International Energy Agency predicts a 3.5C increase by 2035.

A briefing provided to the failed UN Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen in 2009 provided this summary: "The long-term sea level that corresponds to current CO2 concentration is about 23 meters above today's levels, and the temperatures will be 6 degrees C or more higher. These estimates are based on real long-term climate records, not on models."

And this rapid fall back is in spite of the 'deny and delay' tactics employed so effectively by corporations whose interests would be harmed by effective action. Yet they are being routed by reality. Politicians may have to listen to powerful incumbent interests, but the rest of us don't. Though any action may be too little and too late, we have a duty to act as though our actions could matter.

There is no word for actions causing the extinction of 90% of all living species, even inadvertently. Ecocide does not do the possibility/probability justice. Any suggestions?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Dec 18th, 2013 at 05:56:11 PM EST
mass murder for profit sums it up... though it still lacks the generational dimension.

.... and the suicidal one.

money!

what twisted logic runs the decision-making processes in a koch brother's brain, can it really be stock prices and shareholder dividends?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Dec 18th, 2013 at 06:09:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With a hat tip to Melo in the Monday Open thread:

Daily Kos: Siberians marvel that there is no snow

The first commenter there wonders, is the Siberian methane keg going off already?

If the climate is going bonkers soon, things like Fukushima, overfishing, economy are not worth saving possibly. Are they?

by das monde on Mon Dec 23rd, 2013 at 11:03:05 PM EST
Fukushima still leaks some stuff... frogs are worse off then the canary in the fookin coal mine... there's still new unreported leaks of oil-based shit... Fox Faux News is even reporting the USian Navy cancers... Santa's reindeer have been coocked by wild natives...

Trotzdem... me wish you all what.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Dec 26th, 2013 at 01:03:05 PM EST
Clearing the Field: It's Between "Green" Growth and Degrowth  New Economic Perspectives part 3 of 3.  (H/T naked capitalism)
We have over the past several years been living in a period of malign, toxic confusion about economic growth and how it is achieved.  This has been spurred on by the deficit hysteria/austerity campaign that has served only a small fraction of the elite in our financialized economy yet has dominated discourse in Washington and many other capitals.  The deficit hysteria campaign has capitalized on the deep flaws in academic economics and economics education to distort the understandings of politicians and lay people about how our capitalist economy works, in particular the functions of government spending and overall demand in regulating the rate of economic activity and growth.  Claiming to support growth, the austerity campaign has undermined it, yet continues to convince lawmakers otherwise, continuing to lead them or have them lead us, into an emissions-intensive economic abyss.

The political and economic predators who have pushed deficit hysteria have politically capitalized on sincere concerns that some individuals and political leaders have had about lax financial standards in the private credit industry, debt-fueled consumption and overconsumption more generally.  They have misattributed the private debt-fueled consumption boom of the last decade to government, exonerating the role of private lenders eager to profit via offers of credit from people's wish to consume essential or luxury goods and services.  They have politically capitalized on the confusion of laypeople and many economists between financial and real resources especially as regards government finance, treating conservation of a limited pool of financial resources as equivalent in virtue to conserving the finite resources of the earth.

A critical casualty of the deficit hysteria campaign is the instrument of government itself, a necessary institution for the process of transforming our energy and transport systems to face the challenge of climate change.  In pursuing their perverse campaign for political power, the policy space for government has been hemmed in by false accusations and notions about money and the role of government.


In part 2 he discusses a path that he calls Petal to the Metal green growth that would not tank the economy. It would simply consist of a highly focused effort to build green power and transportation infrastructure that would perhaps contribute to increased carbon emissions now but reduced emissions later.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Dec 26th, 2013 at 03:45:32 PM EST
...on European Tribune.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 26th, 2013 at 04:11:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fortunately, from my read of Michael Hoexter's three part article in New Economics, (link in comment above), he does not get involved with trying to integrate thermodynamics into macro-economics.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Dec 26th, 2013 at 06:20:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Although it's intellectually pleasing to do so, it's more complicated than necessary, considering that the house is on fire.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Dec 27th, 2013 at 04:45:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A good first order approximation might be to include an environmental cost term in all cost/benefit analyses that captures the climate change impact of both construction and lifetime operation. Then the per ton charge for methane release would be twenty times that for CO2, etc.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Dec 27th, 2013 at 10:27:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We've been discussing real cost economics since the 70's, but no one wants to get down to even using the best estimates, much less actual cost.

WE would never have to mention externalities again.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Dec 30th, 2013 at 03:40:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pedal to the Metal.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Dec 28th, 2013 at 11:14:20 AM EST
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