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A little place by the beach

Written By: - Date published: 2:26 pm, January 6th, 2015 - 120 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, global warming - Tags: , ,

A little place by the beach – who wouldn’t like to own one of those? Only one problem. As expected:

2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record Globally By Far

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has announced that 2014 was the hottest year in more than 120 years of record-keeping — by far. NOAA is expected to make a similar call in a couple of weeks and so is NASA.

As the JMA graph shows, there has been no “hiatus” or “pause” in warming. In fact, there has not even been a slowdown. Yes, in JMA’s ranking of hottest years, 1998 is in (a distant) second place — but 1998 was an outlier as the graph shows. In fact, 1998 was boosted above the trendline by an unusual super-El Niño. It is usually the combination of the underlying long-term warming trend and the regional El Niño warming pattern that leads to new global temperature records.

What makes setting the record for hottest year in 2014 doubly impressive is that it occurred despite the fact we’re still waiting for the start of El Niño. But this is what happens when a species keeps spewing record amounts of heat-trapping carbon pollution into the air, driving CO2 to levels in the air not seen for millions of years, when the planet was far hotter and sea levels tens of feet higher.

temperature-2014

Some countries are at least recognising the inevitable:

Almost 7,000 UK properties to be sacrificed to rising seas

Almost 7,000 homes and buildings will be sacrificed to the rising seas around England and Wales over the next century, according to an unpublished Environment Agency (EA) analysis seen by the Guardian. Over 800 of the properties will be lost to coastal erosion within the next 20 years.

The properties, worth well over £1bn, will be allowed to fall into the sea because the cost of protecting them would be far greater. But there is no compensation scheme for homeowners to enable them to move to a safer location.

In December 2013, a huge tidal surge flooded 1,400 homes along the east coast and saw numerous homes tumble into the ocean.

uk-coast-flooding-map

The map is a very useful piece of work – we need such an analysis for New Zealand as soon as possible.

Despite the coming disruptions, we (NZ and the UK) are the lucky ones. Some countries don’t have the option of a “managed retreat”. If your whole country is a beach, you’re pretty much screwed.

120 comments on “A little place by the beach ”

  1. Tracey 1

    Wait for someone in media or here, to confuse weather with climate.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    There has been a certain amount of work done in this area.

    This Guidance Manual has been written primarily to support local authorities (policy, planning, consents, building and engineering staff) in dealing with some of these challenges. It provides best practice information and guidance to strengthen the integration of coastal hazards and climate change considerations in land-use planning and during resource consent decision-making.

    This was published in 2008. I doubt anything useful has happened since.

    • Tracey 2.1

      in Auckland Rodney diverted them by making a Super City run by businessmen

    • r0b 2.2

      Huh! Thanks for that.

      • McFlock 2.2.1

        DCC has somework on it. Looks like it’s been kicked to local authorities, no idea whether there’s any national coordination to integrate all the plans and get a strategic picture.

        • mickysavage 2.2.1.1

          There was some transport work on the subject, trying to work out which major roads and railways would be under water but I am not sure where that work currently is …

          • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1.1.1

            If the current government was doing any research on the issue, it would be because real estate lobbyists want to know where to buy up all the land along the new coastline.

  3. weka 3

    “The properties, worth well over £1bn, will be allowed to fall into the sea because the cost of protecting them would be far greater. But there is no compensation scheme for homeowners to enable them to move to a safer location.”

    This is really the least of our worries. In NZ there are plenty of houses or buildings that people will be able to live in.

    Of much more concern is whether the ocean and land ecosystems will fall over, because then we will be really screwed.

    The thing we need to be focussed on is how to drastically reduce emissions in the hope that we might have disruptive cc instead of catastrophic. Worrying about real estate investment is just insane. Focussing on sea level rises is another example of how we think it’s about us, instead of understanding that it’s about the whole planet and where we fit into that. Thinking it’s about us is what got us into this mess in the first place.

    • McFlock 3.1

      That’s the biggest issue, imo.
      Fossil fuels we can adapt to live without – in my opinion they’re probably holding us back at the moment, like slavery held the Romans and Greeks back from technological advancement.

      But the worst case scenario for a high carbon environment is a disruption to the ocean currents and ocean stagnation. Before that we have fish die-off due to habitat destruction (particularly coral reefs). And before that we have the erosion and storm events.

      • Lanthanide 3.1.1

        “Fossil fuels we can adapt to live without – in my opinion they’re probably holding us back at the moment, like slavery held the Romans and Greeks back from technological advancement.”

        I really don’t think fossil fuels are holding us back. They allow us to get away with only a very small proportion of the population having to live on farms while supplying abundant food to everyone else, allowing them time to do other things.

        Take away fertilisers, mechanised farming equipment, efficient transportation and importantly refrigeration, and we’ll have to devote a much larger percentage of the population (and land) to food production.

        • McFlock 3.1.1.1

          Yeah, but we’ve basically hit the limit of the performance one can drag out of a petrol engine, and we spend billions on looking for resources to maintain a power source that’s going nowhere. A great help at the start, but leads to complacency.

          If we bunged a bit more money into renewables, increasing the energy density of batteries, and fusion, we might be a lot better off in the long term.

          I read one theory ages ago that reckoned the Romans or Greeks didn’t capitalise on steam because they had enough slaves to do everything for them – even though they’d pushed that work source to the limit. They knew enough about mechanics, hydraulics, and suchlike to get started. Basically, Europe (esp the UK) needed to look for additional power sources because they didn’t have a limitless pool of disposable people to work to death.

          • Lanthanide 3.1.1.1.1

            Right, I see where you’re coming from and I agree. I think your original statement was a little off the mark.

            It’ll likely take at least 50 years, if not longer to adapt to use 0 fossil fuels (and we will have fossil fuels for hundreds of years yet, just much lower supply than we do now, post-peak).

            The better way to phrase it is that the abundance of cheap fossil fuels is making us complacent in finding appropriate replacements for when we’re forced by physical constraints to consume less than we do now. If prices hadn’t gone back down after the oil shocks of the 70s, then I think we’d be in a much better place these days vis-a-vis fossil fuel depletion and alternative energy sources; it is likely however that the standard of living of those in the west would also be lower than it is now (but we would be more sustainable, and likely the population a bit smaller as well, which is again a good thing).

            • McFlock 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Yeah, although we have a lot of infrastructure if petrol gets outmoded by electricity, for example.

              I don’t think we’ll ever get to zero% fossil fuels, but a low level of hobbyist use while normal people plug their car in at night could happen within a few years once a threshhold is met – look at internet use.

            • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.1.1.1.2

              It’ll likely take at least 50 years, if not longer to adapt to use 0 fossil fuels (and we will have fossil fuels for hundreds of years yet, just much lower supply than we do now, post-peak).

              Once you are at an EROEI less than 2 to 1, no one is going to bother with extraction any more, no matter what is left under the earth. And I don’t think that it will take hundreds of years to get there.

              • b waghorn

                They will drill the Antarctic before they finish with oil , I bet that there’ll be geologists quietly working out were the likely spots are as we speak.http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27910375

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  That sounds about right. Which means NZ will be wanted as a base of operations for Antarctic energy and mineral extraction. Of course if we burn what is down there, we’ll be headed for 5 deg C or more of climate change.

              • Lanthanide

                People get far too hung up on EROEI and thinking it is the be-all and end-all of the whole thing.

                Firstly, people will still keep mining coal and drilling oil with an EROEI that is only slightly greater than 1, because things like plastic and fertiliser are just too useful and are difficult to replace from other sources.

                Furthermore, there will be cases where extracting fuel with an EROEI of less than 1 is still worth doing. For example if you have access to a lot of ‘stranded’ renewable energy, such as a hydro-dam, out in the wop-wops that is too far away from population centres to use, then you might as well invest that energy into extracting coal/oil/gas and shipping that to those population centres. Other low-quality fuels may be directly burnt in order to extract higher quality fuels, even if it’s ultimately an energy deficit, simply because the higher quality fuels are irreplaceable (you can’t fly a plane with 100 tons of bunker fuel, but 10 tons of jet fuel is another story).

                It’s the same idea that trade in fruit and vegetables is really a trade in embodied water, from countries and areas with water to countries and areas with less water – the fruit and vegetables contain less water in them than just shipping the water itself directly, but they’re easier to ship and worth more than just shipping the water itself.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Well, your scenarios are realistic, just like they might start using slave labour to do some of the work when there are no machines available (sorta like the original Stargate movie…)

                  Mind you I think that this kind of very low EROEI extraction would be for very specific uses and very specific customers i.e. it would do nothing and supply nothing for 99% of the rest of us.

                  • Lanthanide

                    Yes you’re right, any low-EROEI extraction is going to be for specialised purposes and therefore not really relevant to Joe Schmoe public.

            • Lloyd 3.1.1.1.1.3

              In the medium term the only things we need fossil fuels for are aviation and smelting.
              Replacing kerosine in aircraft will be tricky as batteries are unlikely to ever have an equivalent energy density and making vegetable oils or turpentine (or something similar) will use land we need for food crops. Making charcoal will never produce enough steel for the existing level of use.
              Mechanised farming, efficient land transport and refrigeration can all be run by sustainably generated electricity, rather than by fossil fuel powered engines. Use of sails could replace a good portion of sea travel’s use of fossil fuels. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers could be replaced by a more sustainable processing of the products of sewage treatment plants.

              • Lanthanide

                “Mechanised farming, efficient land transport and refrigeration can all be run by sustainably generated electricity”

                Once you have the batteries to run it all. Batteries which tend to have a limited service use (5-10 years in an electric car?), meaning there will be a high constant demand of new batteries. We don’t have nearly enough factory capacity to churn out the batteries that the world really needs as it is, let alone in a resource-constrained future where we need to build more factories. Yes, it can be done, but I think we’d be lucky to have 10% of the current farm equipment / refrigeration capacity that we have now, in the short to medium term. With literally the entire planet with a huge demand for very limited battery capacity, there will be many countries / communities that simply miss out. Factor in again that these batteries (and solar panels) require exotic trace elements, which themselves need significant mining and processing to use, and which China has a near-monopoly on. Suddenly the theoretical looks more difficult in practice.

                “Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers could be replaced by a more sustainable processing of the products of sewage treatment plants.”

                Running an industry on the outputs of another process that consumes the outputs of the first industry will never break-even. That aside, if it were anywhere near cost competitive to be treating sewage in this way, we’d already be doing it. Ergo – even if we can somehow get the same amount of fertiliser from treating sewage (I seriously doubt that), it’ll cost significantly more to do it. That ultimately means less food produced (because consumers won’t bear the cost – they’ll opt for onions and potatoes and give up more exotic food like tomatoes and citrus fruit).

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Once you have the batteries to run it all.

                  Don’t need batteries.

                  That aside, if it were anywhere near cost competitive to be treating sewage in this way, we’d already be doing it. Ergo – even if we can somehow get the same amount of fertiliser from treating sewage (I seriously doubt that), it’ll cost significantly more to do it.

                  Organic farming uses less fertiliser than those that use hydrocarbon based fertiliser with equal if not better output.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Most farmers don’t have the skills to run organic farms and to rehabilitate depleted soils. But it could certainly be done – in theory.

                    • JonL

                      In practice – we’ve got a local guy who’s onto his third farm, reckons it’s pretty easy – just takes a bit of time – he reckons 3-4 yrs – building up the microbial count etc. Should be easier in NZ than West Aus.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Don’t need batteries.

                    What are you going to use to store electrical energy for later use?

                  • Lanthanide

                    “Organic farming uses less fertiliser than those that use hydrocarbon based fertiliser with equal if not better output.”

                    Organic farming currently makes up what volume of the food supply, and at what price?

                    I’d guess 5% (may be generous) and minimum of 50% more expensive (may be generous) compared to ‘regular’ farming output.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      It’s not a question of what happens now but what we should be doing and what we will need to do.

        • MrSmith 3.1.1.2

          That’s right Lath and the stone age ended because we ran out of stones!

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.3

          Take away fertilisers, mechanised farming equipment, efficient transportation and importantly refrigeration, and we’ll have to devote a much larger percentage of the population (and land) to food production.

          Removal of fossil fuels doesn’t mean that we have to do without all of that.

          1. Fertilizers based upon fossil fuels can be replaced by fertilizers based upon biological waste. Yes, I’m including treated human waste in that.
          2. Mechanized farming equipment can be powered by other means, specifically, renewable electricity generation.
          3. Trains are more efficient than trucks anyway and they can also be powered by renewable electricity. And so can trucks.

          So we won’t actually be looking at more people doing farming.

          • McFlock 3.1.1.3.1

            The thing is, if we really need to find hydrocarbon chains in the future, we know where shitloads are – landfills. We’re pretty good at cracking and joining hydrocarbon chains to get the things we want.

            • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.1.3.1.1

              Yes you can crack, repolymerise and refine…but using what energy sources? And what level of performance can you get from these materials if you cannot also assemble the complex additives required to (for instance) UV proof the resulting plastics.

              • McFlock

                wind. solar. hydro. even fusion. We’re not short of potential energy sources.

                We are short of development funds for those potential energy sources. Because those funds go to 2500m+ ocean drilling development.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  You actually included fusion in your list, which is pretty audacious. (So why not thorium, out of interest? Or dilithium? Or tylium? Or other various kinds of unobtanium?)

                  So we are going to:
                  1) dig up tonnes of low density low purity landfill waste – without diesel powered machines

                  2) transport that waste – again without diesel powered machines

                  3) utilise large chemical processing plants – which do not use fossil fuels for heating and processing those tonnes of materials at hundreds of deg C

                  4) transport and store the finished output materials around the country – again without diesel powered machines.

                  • McFlock

                    Yes to all.

                    Do you believe that we will develop no new forms of large-scale energy production in the next 30years? Really? Do you believe that electric battery capacity will always be below the energy density of diesel or petrol?

                    btw: I’ll take your point 3 and raise you the Tiwai smelter.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      btw: I’ll take your point 3 and raise you the Tiwai smelter.

                      We can add in our iron smelter as well. That is also totally powered by electricity and always has been – our iron sands don’t take to well to being heated any other way due to the huge amount of titanium oxide in it.

                      I get really sick of these idiots who say that we must have fossil fuels to do stuff that doesn’t require fossil fuels at all.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Do you believe that we will develop no new forms of large-scale energy production in the next 30years? Really? Do you believe that electric battery capacity will always be below the energy density of diesel or petrol?

                      1) Yep, no new forms of large scale energy production in the next 30 years. (Can you name any which have been developed in the last 30 years???)

                      2) Electric batteries aren’t a source of energy. Diesel and petrol are.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      )(Can you name any which have been developed in the last 30 years???)

                      You mean besides the huge solar and wind farms?

                      We don’t need new forms of large scale energy generation – we just need to roll out the ones that we have.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Solar and wind generation existed longer than 30 years ago. The core technologies have been known and used for many decades. They aren’t new.

                      EDIT – world’s first wind farm of 30 turbines 1980. Individual turbines were in use for many years before that.

                      http://www.umass.edu/windenergy/about/history/alumni

                      We don’t need new forms of large scale energy generation – we just need to roll out the ones that we have.

                      Yep.

                      We are doing that in NZ. What we aren’t doing however, is moving our transport infrastructure and supply chain off fossil fuels.

                    • McFlock

                      lol so you’re claiming a win because the first wind farm was 35 years ago and your arbitrary time period was 30 years.

                      Hey, here’s a clue as to why I think we’ll develop new energy sources: running out of oil. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Actually, that’s sort of the bulk of my point.

                      Yes, batteries are energy storage devices. So is petrol. Whether the energy is solar last week or solar 70 million years ago is irrelevant.

                    • Lanthanide

                      “Yes, batteries are energy storage devices. So is petrol. Whether the energy is solar last week or solar 70 million years ago is irrelevant.”

                      Yes, petrol is a store of energy, but in this context, petrol is not the same as a battery.

                      In order for a battery to get an electrical charge, it has to be charged up. Normally you do this by plugging it into the main power grid. This means instead of illuminating your lounge with a lightbulb, you are instead storing that same amount of energy in a battery and forgoing the illumination in your lounge.

                      But when we extract some oil and convert it into petrol, we are *gaining* fuel that we can use to propel a vehicle. We didn’t have to forgo anything. Another way to look at it, is that petrol is a store of energy from 100 million years ago (when industrial humans weren’t around to use the energy anyway). A battery is a store of energy from 100 hours ago (when it might have been neat to power a lightbulb or fridge with that energy).

                      In this context, petrol is a source of energy (extracting it increases the amount of energy available for use by humans), but batteries are merely stores of energy (delaying consumption of electricity to a future time or location – and because batteries aren’t 100% efficient, doing it at a loss).

                      This is why hydrogen fuel cells are looked on with disdain by a lot of environmentalists and peak oil-ists: because the renewable source of hydrogen is electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen, meaning hydrogen is merely a type of battery and not a new source of energy. The fossil fuel source of hydrogen is from natural gas mines, but then we haven’t actually achieved anything renewable by using a fossil fuel source to power a hydrogen car. There are lot of other problems with hydrogen too: it’s inherently unsafe due to it’s combustibility (more-so than petrol), it’s difficult to contain (it’s the smallest atom so requires high-pressure vessals to move around) and difficult to transport (can’t use pipelines or simply tankers/drums/silos like for oil, because it leaks out).

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      What we aren’t doing however, is moving our transport infrastructure and supply chain off fossil fuels.

                      Auckland passenger trains are getting shifted over to electric. Much of the main trunk line is already electric. Electric trains are the most efficient available due to their capability of regenerative breaking – especially on the downhill which NZ has lots of. The plans all along for rail should have been for them to become all electric.

                      Trolley buses have been in use for decades and we should be looking to have all buses to become such in the near term.

                      We should be looking at making trucks all electric as well although that removes them from the long haul freight but that’s why we have trains.

                      Cars should simply be going the way of the dodo as we simply can’t afford them.

                      But all this needs a government willing to tell people about reality rather than the delusion that most governments get voted in on.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      But when we extract some oil and convert it into petrol, we are *gaining* fuel that we can use to propel a vehicle. We didn’t have to forgo anything.

                      Of course we had to forego something – whatever else that resource could have been used for. Recyclable plastics are a good example.

                    • McFlock

                      Yes we do have to forego things, represented by dollars.

                      When oil costs too much of those, we’ll develop new generation methods and facilities. Then, the only trick is getting the energy to where we need it. Just like standard oil 120 years ago.

                    • Brendon Harre

                      Mighty River Power says New Zealand has enough future geothermal capacity to run 3-million electric cars, but it isn’t planning to build anymore plants until demand increases.

                      http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/businessnews/audio/20161374/mighty-river-sees-great-future-for-geothermal

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Mighty River Power says New Zealand has enough future geothermal capacity to run 3-million electric cars, but it isn’t planning to build anymore plants until demand increases.

                      And that, right there, is the problem with ‘the market’. It’s reactive rather than active and because of that it can never see to a societies needs. The needs arise and ‘the market’ is still reacting to that need while the need continues to rise. Throw in the profit drive and if the need is by poor people then it won’t get done at all as no one will be able to see a profit from it.

                      Mighty River Power not building the necessary capacity is due to their need to keep electricity scarce so as to maintain profits. Yet again we are shown why power generation, and other similar services, should be a government service paid for via taxes.

                  • KJS0ne

                    Don’t be so down on Thorium, the Chinese and Czech’s ain’t, the Chinese are investing $350 million and 140 PhD students into it, and they wouldn’t do so if they didn’t think it was feasible.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor#Recent_developments

                    Aims of the Chinese project are to have a 2MW research reactor by 2017, followed by a 10Mw demonstrator, and then a couple of 100MW reactors.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      My standard test of feasibility for any power tech is: do they have a reactor of at least 10MW stable and feeding into the grid anywhere yet? With nuclear power that was achieved by the mid 1950’s.

                      Thorium reactors, an idea first prototyped 50 years ago, are still not at that stage, despite the massive improvements in materials, control and computing technology in the mean time.

                      Even if the research is ultimately successful I don’t think there will be enough time for more than boutique, small scale, specialised uses for the reactor (eg in survival bunkers for VIPs) to be implemented.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  I should add, that its not just funds that we are short of (although as you know funds can always be created), it is time.

                  IMO fossil fuel availability will be very tight, though manageable, within 10 years (2024-2026), and then almost completely unmanageable within 20-30 years (2034-2044). In that latter period it will be virtually impossible to begin any major engineering project and run it to completion. (A Manapouri or Tiwai Point equivalent). It will be the end of most such ambitious civilisational industrial endeavours.

                  Today’s primary school kids will be in their late 30’s when this occurs. (Basically we are going to hand this younger generation a very difficult climatically unstable world with very few options left open to them).

                  If I had to bet my life on this, I would say that the human race will have burnt every single bit of carbon we can extract down to about 3:1 or 4:1 EROEI, within that time.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Time isn’t as much of an issue for NZ as we already have huge amounts of renewable generation. People will complain about not having their cars but we”l just have to say that we told them so.

                  • McFlock

                    Well, oil maybe. Gas and coal? Nah. Still a fair load around. At least according to wikipedia. You probably have a link that says we’ll run out in May.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      I think the world will have usable, extractable coal and gas in declining quantities into the 2050s and 2060s. (some of it could be turned into liquid fuels).

                      That’s about the next generation and a half of humans. Then it’s night night nurse on fossil fuels.

                      Edit – China has inked off large portions of those global supplies through Russia and other resource rich countries.

                  • Lanthanide

                    “IMO fossil fuel availability will be very tight, though manageable, within 10 years (2024-2026), and then almost completely unmanageable within 20-30 years (2034-2044).”

                    Much more optimistic than me. I’m thinking tight by 2020 and becoming unmanageable by 2025.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Yikes. Staying fit and able to walk many kilometres at a time with a load on one’s back is a good life skill to develop now.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Bicycle is both easier, faster and you get panniers and even a trailer if you’re up to it.

                  • Lloyd

                    A bit of chemistry here, The iron oxide in the Port Waikato sands is reduced to iron at Glenbrook by mixing the sand with coal from Huntly and pouring it down a kiln with red hot air/carbon monoxide blowing up the kiln. The resultant pig-iron is mixed with scrap, alloying materials and is heated in an arc furnace using electricity, yes, but a lot of coal has burnt to carbon-dioxide already

                    The Glenbrook plant receives several twenty-five wagon trains of coal every working day. Each wagon contains 50 tonnes of coal.

                    This is a unique process which has only been tried elsewhere in a plant in India. The Glenbrook plant can rapidly produce specific batches of steel and ship out rolls of that steel. As such it is a boutique producer and Fronterra should take note that this plant is still profitable when the price of general commodity steel has forced many larger plants to close.

                    Replacing some of the coal used by Glenbrook with charcoal and rubber may be feasible, but this plant is likely to keep on producing carbon dioxide using fossil fuel.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I consider that carbon capture on power plants is simply not feasible but that such would not only be feasible but economical as well on steel smelters as the carbon captured could then be used in making more steel reducing the need for the coking coal as well reducing carbon mono/dioxide emissions.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Hmmm yep that sounds right. Thank you very much for the refresher.

                  • KJS0ne

                    I’m replying here because I can’t to your other comment above.

                    My standard test of feasibility for any power tech is: do they have a reactor of at least 10MW stable and feeding into the grid anywhere yet? With nuclear power that was achieved by the mid 1950’s.

                    Thorium is nuclear. It just wasn’t pursued because it couldn’t be used to enrich uranium for bomb making. You could kill two birds with one stone with uranium based reactors. Thorium didn’t offer that. It was seriously considered at the time.

                    Many good technologies are not pursued at their time of discovery because of a whole host of reasons other than them being infeasible. For a while in the late 1800s and early 1900s electric automobiles were quite commonplace. The technology was there since the infancy of autos yet due to comparative advantages, it was petrol motor autos that won the day. Now we are looking more and more towards alternative powered cars. We won’t get them en masse in time before the collapse happens, but it’s the same principle – Old technology that wasn’t pursued is now worth it’s weight due to a change in circumstance.

                    Just because Thorium power is in it’s (comparative) infancy, doesn’t mean it isn’t a technology that merits attention and keen interest. Again I would draw you to the fact that China are investing $350 million dollars (in part) into producing the 10MW reactor you speak of. While it’s important to have that black hat skepticism, that says well let’s not get too excited ’till we see it in action. Relegating it to the company of ‘unobtainium’ is quite unwarranted in my opinion.

                    I have been an on and off malthusian collapser since 2008 (I remember trying to impart this peak oil collapse theory to you and R and coming up against resistance, largely because I was so doom and gloom), and one of the things I have learned over this time is that it’s important not to discount changing circumstances just because they don’t fit our vision and expectations of what is going to happen, it’s all too easy to become fixed in our views. For example I was convinced, utterly, in 2008-9 that we only had a matter of 2 or 3 years before the collapse. Then the Shale & fracking boom happened and the can got kicked down the road by a good 10 years and I was forced to re-evaluate and accept I was wrong in my calculations. Now I’m not saying that Thorium is going to be the answer to our impending energy crunch, but it is an interesting alternative with lots of potential and I have just been wrong enough times to never say never.

    • Ad 3.2

      Making it “about us” is the only way humans will act on this issue.

      Making the issue about property – far and away the main asset class any normal person owns – turns climate change in the hip pocket issue it needs to be. Property makes climate change an issue for the world’s most powerful players: banks and insurers.

      • mickysavage 3.2.1

        Yep and you have to reach the situation where the vast majority of the population are demanding and insisting that their elected representatives do something meaningful. We are not there yet and the right can spin the “climate change is not happening” line. After a few millionaires beach front properties are engulfed by sea things may change …

        • weka 3.2.1.1

          I doubt it. How many people give a shit about millionaire’s beach front properties? And in NZ, how many properties are we talking about? In the UK they’re talking about a mere 800 properties in the next 20 years. By the time that people realise the situation is real, it will be too late.

          • mickysavage 3.2.1.1.1

            It is not the people it is the millionaires you need to persuade …

            • Colonial Rawshark 3.2.1.1.1.1

              And forget the ordinary single digit millionaires…they are basically just part of the 0.1%. In reality it is the global 0.0001% who need to be convinced.

              In a 7B population world, that’s the top 7000 richest people. I am guessing the entry level there is around USD$100M

            • weka 3.2.1.1.1.2

              why?

              • Ad

                Because they tend to own the banks and insurance companies, and also because the scale of property they own has the greatest risk to the banks and insurers.

                • weka

                  Some ultra rich people already know. Why do you think they are buying land in bolt holes like NZ? A few very expensive houses falling into the sea is not going to change anything for those people. They will divest as they need to, and make money from the collapse. Plus they’ve got as much reason for cognitive dissonance as anyone else, arguably more.

                  I’m kind of stunned by this line (that it’s the ultra wealthy who need to be convinced). If the ultra wealthy see coastal erosion and sea level rise, they’ll just buy inland.

                  • Ad

                    You are right some do move. And to be honest that’s why I’ve bought a retirement/holiday place in Wanaka.

                    But check out what would happen if Devonport got hit by a surge. It would be uninsurable over an average price of $1.7m per house, times 400 houses. Regrettably that’s on average 800 of New Zealand’s most influential people, and a larger risk profile to insurers than those inhabiting your average Kawhia Harbour inlet. Regrettably, when Devonport people rattle their jewellery at the relevant MPs and Ministers, it matters a whole bunch to this kind of government.

                    Or check out Russian squillionaire Mr Abramamoff’s place north of Whangarei right on the beach. If his place got hit by a surge you would not see another Russian squillionaire and it would be global news and a political catastrophe.

                    Now check the media profile of those who have been consistently flooded following the Christchurch earthquakes. They really have to take the Council to task and EQC to court. They are struggling to get traction. I also hate the unfairness of this.

                    • weka

                      Re Devonport (which I don’t know at all, so can’t visualise the impact), if a storm surge happened this week, all those rich people would still be in denial of cc and would use their power to manipulate things to get their own immediate needs met (the opp of Chch if you will). You think in that situation they’re going to become advocates for powering down to a post-carbon economy? Really?

                      Besides which, we don’t have time to wait for a storm surge on Devonport, which might not happen for a long time.

                      What’s more likely is that some wealthy people already get it, and have moved away from vulnerable places. Others will be slowly realising that, and also in the process of moving, more likely when they are moving anyway they will just choose better. Most will be in denial like the rest of the population.

                      I think over the next decade there will be a shift in the culture, where property prices in vulnerable areas start to drop naturally, but there will always be people who think AGW is either bullshit, or the effects aren’t going to be that bad. We don’t have a decade.

                      It’s good that councils like the DCC are already looking at adjusting their district plan, and the ODT has been covering things like property insurance and value issues. But it’s the whole population that needs to wake up, and having them focus their property investment won’t actually get them to start powering down. That’s the point.

                      Beyond all that, I would guess most people here believe the oligarchy is fundamentally against the needs of society and should be taken down, so why the argument that the oligarchy will have a role in cc mitigation via property values? It’s kind of like saying capitalism will save us, when its patently obvious that capitalism is set on making money from AGW for as long as it can.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Exactly, CC’s impact on asset markets is just another distraction in the game of pretend and extend.

                      I think we will be relatively lucky in NZ. When climate change/energy depletion hits us, I think the ordinary 99%’er in NZ will simply face food and resources rationing. Perhaps forced relocation for some.

                      Fishing licenses are going to become very popular.

                      In many parts of the rest of the world it will be starvation and devastation.

            • Lindsey 3.2.1.1.1.3

              The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan has the expected 1m and 2m sea level rise on all potentially affected properties so a lot more people will be seeing the future in the value of their sites.

  4. coaster 4

    Are we releasing more carbon per person, or is a big part of the problem too many people?

    • Bill 4.1

      Magically remove all the 100’s of millions of Asian, Middle Eastern, African, Latin and South American peasants, and what impact do you reckon such a population crash would have on AGW? (Hint: 5/8ths of fuck all is pretty close to the answer.)

      • weka 4.1.1

        Yes and no. Yes in the sense that it’s the industrialised world that is responsible for the problematic emmission levels (and thus should take responsiblity for reduction). No in the sense that underdeveloped countries want and are attaining first world lifestyles, which is just going to put them in the same category as the rest of us (i.e. responsible).

        • Bill 4.1.1.1

          Even with phenomenal rates of growth, such as China has had these past 20 years or so, by the time ‘under-developed’ countries developed an internal, consumer driven market along the lines of and as inclusive as what we live in, the world is going to have been cooked for some years gone.

          In other words, for all the problems associated with population, AGW simply isn’t one of them.

          As a follow up to my ‘magical removal’ question (and for clarity), what impact would the removal of the few hundred million that constitute the US middle class have? Well, there goes a huge chunk of the worlds’ emissions.

          Throw in the Chinese middle classes and the European middle classes….

          • weka 4.1.1.1.1

            Sure, but then if we’d been having this conversation 20 years ago about the Chinese, or India? It’s not like countries aren’t already in the middle of a mass uptake of consumerism and industrialisation. So while I agree the immediate and pressing problem is the industrialised world, it’s doesn’t automatically follow that population isn’t a problem (eg your example of the US, China, Europe). If you removed those populations and the rest of the world carried on industrialising, where does that leave us?

            • Bill 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Well, if the ‘developed’ middle classes were removed and the remainder of the world’s population sought to replicate the lifestyles and economy of those that had been removed, they would have a breathing space available that they could use to decarbonise any ongoing development/industry.

              In other words, it’s just possible that with the time ‘bought’ via the removal of the global ‘developed’ middle classes (their emissions) , the human population could hang on to economic models of growth (shift it off carbon though) and avoid the worst effects of AGW.

              edit – and why shouldn’t the world’s currently piss poor populations be allowed to develop and have schools and hospitals, housing, power and transport networks etc?

              • Colonial Rawshark

                So basically, austerity for the richest 20% of the world – i.e. driving down their income and consumption – is the way to go.

              • weka

                In other words, it’s just possible that with the time ‘bought’ via the removal of the global ‘developed’ middle classes (their emissions) , the human population could hang on to economic models of growth (shift it off carbon though) and avoid the worst effects of AGW.

                Hang on, did you just make an argument for economic growth?

                edit – and why shouldn’t the world’s currently piss poor populations be allowed to develop and have schools and hospitals, housing, power and transport networks etc?

                Even if that’s via ff industrialisation?

                I don’t believe green tech is sustainable either, esp if we don’t look at population. If we look past what’s fair for humans*, and look at ecosystems and their ability to support populations, then it’s not about should or shouldn’t, it’s about can/can’t. The only way counting global population and saying yep, the planet can support that, is valid is if you ignore the fact that such calculations are based on ff.

                After that, you have to look at actual ecosystems and what they can support sustainably and without ff. Very few people are doing that. So what population can NZ support using sustainable farming/agriculture? I’m pretty sure no-one can answer that question because the work hasn’t been done. If we are in overshoot already, where can we import from to meet our needs? What happens to the population in that watershed? What about our population when other countries want our resources? etc etc.

                *I don’t mean we should forget about fairness, but that we might not have a choice to be fair in the way you are implying.

                • Bill

                  Hang on, did you just make an argument for economic growth?

                  No. I was simply stating a possibility under a given scenario.

                  Even if that’s via ff industrialisation?

                  Laying in infrastructure in the immediate term…even if that infrastructure was to run on non-fossil fuel power etc…would probably involve fossil fuel use, yes. And if we (annex 1countries) cut the crap, then that would be possible within the bounds of our current understanding of AGW and what we need to do to avoid the worst effects.

                  On the population front, I wonder what the optimum density is for minimising AGW impacts? If we could be bothered to work that out, we could then work out optimum scenarios taking other environmental factors into consideration. I guess in the mythical past, any optimum was known to be missed when local conditions no longer supported given populations. Anyway, I digress.

    • weka 4.2

      The problem is the way we want to live, we use far more of the resources than are sustainable and we shit on our own nest. Population then becomes a problem because the third world wants to live like us. We’re already in overshoot and more want to overshoot us further.

      Population is also an issue for how we want to live because to lessen the catastrophe we need to live within our local limits. Think about the watershed you live in and whether you think it can produce enough food, fuel, shelter etc for the population living there. In other words it’s not just other countries that have too many people, NZ needs to look in its own backyard.

      • Colonial Rawshark 4.2.1

        +1

        Basically, we have to get it into our heads and hearts that a life with less materials and energy consumption, but with more more learning, deeper cultural experiences, strengthened family connections and more exciting community interaction is actually a far, far better life.

      • Olwyn 4.2.2

        I am not sure whether it’s “the way we want to live” or the way life goes in a system like ours. Wherever there is a small surplus there is a market, and conditions are created whereby whatever is marketed becomes a need, and the lack of whatever-it-is becomes a privation. However, the conditions create the need – Socrates did not need a cell phone because the conditions of his life did not demand it.

        The seventies placed us at a cross roads. A few people were growing conscious of resource depletion and climate change, and books were written about shifting toward more modest way of life – smaller houses, closer communities, capture of natural light, etc. The one that always sticks in my mind is “Pattern Language” but I can’t remember who wrote it. However, we ended up taking the alternate path to consumerism-on-steroids. It does not have to be like that, and the full-blown version of it has really only been around for 30 or 40 years.

  5. Bill 5

    By accident, my social circle came to include a number of Marine Biologists. In private, without exception, they summarise the prognosis from their various areas of study along a spectrum that runs from “It’s fucked” to “It’s fucking fucked”.

    I agree with Weka’s sentiments. To focus on real estate or whatever, is akin to putting on a really strong pair of glasses, that put the things we should be focusing on right out of focus.

    Kinda convenient really. (Y’know, like “just move house, ‘she’ll’ be sweet”)

    • Tracey 5.1

      but i agree with Ad, you have to make it about self interest to get the people who impact power motivated to act against prior self interest

      • Colonial Rawshark 5.1.1

        Nah, that approach is a fail, IMHO. Trying to frame the problem with the same kind of thinking, the same cultural values and the same world view which got us to this shite situation in the first place will solve a big fucking zero.

        • Tracey 5.1.1.1

          and your suggestions have little or no traction… when those blindly believing one day they will get that great house etc start thinking they may be robbed of that… thats not 800 people its most of nats voting base. ..

          anyone who voted any party other than greens is fulla shit on wanting climate change addressed

    • ghostwhowalksnz 5.2

      I dont think its that bad. Holiday homes too close to the water in dune areas arent worth saving, but the Dutch have been technically under water for some centuries and the water level isnt going down soon.

      • Sacha 5.2.1

        We’re beyond dykes saving us.

      • Lanthanide 5.2.2

        “but the Dutch have been technically under water for some centuries and the water level isnt going down soon.”

        Yes, but they have a comparatively much greater area of land protected by a small margin of dykes along the shoreline. A much bigger return for the investment in the dykes.

        That’s quite different to when you’re talking about a narrow coastline thousands of kilometres long which only has 100-200m inland (if that) of land that will be vulnerable within the next century or two.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 5.2.2.1

          Works both ways. They are more densely populated, while we are more scarce.
          In our favour, the earthquakes in some areas are uplifting the land, with other processes moving up more slowly.

          The Hawkes Bay Earthquake of 1931 lifted a large area of coastline around Napier up ( there was also an area around Clive that dropped up to 1 meter).
          The result is a tidal area became dry land and around Clive and inland the area was more prone to river flooding. The river outlets and stop banks were reconfigured to fix the flooding problem. This was very affordable for a drop in ground level around 1.0m which is a lot even be rising sea levels standards

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    What makes setting the record for hottest year in 2014 doubly impressive is that it occurred despite the fact we’re still waiting for the start of El Niño.

    I’d just like to point out that that is actually scary.

  7. coaster 7

    It used to be that deforestation was a major cause as trees eat up co2, is this still the case?

    • Bill 7.1

      Deforestation/agriculture…and the major one – burning fossil fuels – contribute to atmospheric and oceanic CO2 .

    • ghostwhowalksnz 7.2

      Looking at the full carbon cycle most C is still produced AND reused by natural sources.
      The human part while small is out of balance

  8. greywarshark 8

    David Mitchell illustrates the rational man’s approach to climate change.

  9. Lloyd 9

    The proposed dredging dumping on the Great Barrier Reef is so that one or two Indian multimillionaires can make more money by burning the Australian coal in power plants in India to sell electricity to the Indian middle classes.
    A better electricity distribution model in India with distributed solar generation would appear to eliminate the need for this double ecological crime. The millionaires of course wouldn’t make as much money…..

    • Murray Rawshark 9.1

      I think a more immediate reason is that a few LNP politicians and their mates will be getting rich off the contracts signed with the billionaire Indians. They’re as crooked as a dog’s hind leg over here. Hopefully Labour will win the coming state election and close some of these catastrophic projects down.

  10. MrSmith 10

    Battery tech is already making great leaps, these lot are claiming around twice the life of lead acid and are about to start mass production.

    http://www.aquionenergy.com/
    http://blog.aquionenergy.com/6-reasons-ahi-over-lead-acid
    http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/147472/file-66422869-pdf/2_Collateral/Aquion_Energy_AHI_Technology_Overview.pdf?t=1419879663952

  11. Worth noting, or not, that since the cc earthquakes hamilton city council did a review of flood risks in a 1 in 100 year rainfall event.
    Near me they found a culvert under the main road was too small to cope with the added flow, and as a consequence, hundreds of homes have been placed on a register. Insurance companies have to be notified of the added risk to home owners, increasing premiums, so in a worst case scenario eventuating they do not have their claims rejected.

    Will beach property dwellers and holiday home owners have similar requirements to the land locked in hamilton?
    Everyone knows sea levels will rise because of agw, so I take it the tax payer won’t be bailing them out when the high tide mark eventually reaches the back section and beyond.

  12. JonL 12

    “What makes setting the record for hottest year in 2014 doubly impressive is that it occurred despite the fact we’re still waiting for the start of El Niño. ”
    – and the sun was at it’s cool cycle, where normally, temperatures would have dropped a little.

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