Lies. Damned Lies. And Diesel.

Written By: - Date published: 2:12 pm, July 26th, 2017 - 48 comments
Categories: capitalism, global warming, science, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , ,

Britain is banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040 to combat ‘poor air quality’.

This follows on from a similar announcement in France, that they would be banning  petrol and diesel sales from 2040.

Hulot (French Ecology Minister) insisted that the decision was a question of public health policy and “a way to fight against air pollution”.

This is great. France and Britain aren’t the only countries taking action on air quality. Even corporations are jumping on board! It shows they are being pro-active and responsible in the face of global warming crap air quality. See, that’s the problem right there. These measures cannot be sold as a way to tackle global warming, because that might throw up some pretty obvious questions that have very bad answers.

But throwing up a heap of ‘far too little, far too late’ under the auspices of something that doesn’t require paying any attention to a time scale that’s already ticked down to zero…well that, if you’ll excuse the pun, keeps the heat off. Or to put it another way. Lying buys time.

I did a post two weeks back pointing out how “concerned pillars” of our socio/economic order are now proclaiming that we have three years to save…well, the socio/economic order that they’re pillars of. That post pointed to the fact that the “three years” deadline was contingent on twisting known scientific data relating to global warming and painting an unjustifiably rosy picture.

I’m not going to explore the quarter century of government/corporate inaction on climate change here. Neither am I going to go beyond merely mentioning that this year is the second hottest on record in spite of no longer having temperature boosting El Nino conditions. And the post comparing the paleontological record of atmospheric CO2 levels to current levels, with an eye to getting a feel for what might reasonably be held to be already “locked in” in terms of global warming, and to maybe get a sense of where we’re heading, well that’s a post I’m really struggling to write for reasons that should be obvious enough to anyone who has been paying any attention at all to global warming.

Bottom line. Being in a functioning community that is nurturing or developing potentials that can be realised in the absence of much that we take for granted today, might turn out to be a bit of a lifeboat in the ‘not too distant’. And by ‘not too distant’, I’m  definitely talking in ‘human life’ time scales. And lifeboats, though never offering any guarantees,  at least increase the odds for a favourable outcome.

48 comments on “Lies. Damned Lies. And Diesel.”

  1. adam 1

    I for one am looking forward to the next incrementalist lie we will get. The bigger the lie, more people will swallow it. What interesting times we live in.

    AS for cars, we to late to stop using those, how ever would people cope. The nashing of teeth, the put downs, and the cries of we have done this for years how can you be so rude to ask us to stop!

    Bad leftists, bad, bad leftists.

  2. Booker 2

    This is all true but something that has been strangely left out of the whole electric vehicle debate is the immediate health effects of traffic related air pollution. It causes stroke, heart disease, respiratory problems and an increasing amount of evidence suggests type 2 diabetes as well. You’re focusing on climate change and the flow on effects this will have on human health, but it’s not an either/or situation: petrol and diesel powered vehicles cause immediate effects on the health of those around them as well as longer term effects on the environment. We should have moved away from using these vehicles in heavily populated areas a long time ago.

  3. weka 3

    Favourable outcome, is that adaptation or mitigation?

    • Bill 3.1

      A “favourable outcome” in the context of this post is at the level of merely being alive and future generations experiencing something other than relatively short lives of abject misery and suffering.

      A functioning community, might potentially be very well placed to execute adaptive measures. But it’s going to be in no position to unilaterally deal with the world wide measures that would have been required for mitigation, that we’ve allowed the ‘movers and shakers’ within the global community to choose, on our behalf, not to pursue.

      There are limits to possible adaptation. And that’s why I bothered with the “no guarantees” tie in on the lifeboat analogy.

      And the very best case climatic scenario for those parameters we’ll be dealing with are being pushed out ever further today. If we’re lucky, no non-linear feedback loops will be in evidence by ‘tomorrow’.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Geo engineering solutions – direct air capture of CO2, scrubbers, ocean seeding and cloud spraying with aerosols to contain temperature rises is our only hope now.

    • Bill 4.1

      Nope.

      Never, without the highest level of justification, turn another ignition nor do any damned thing that requires or encourages the continuation of fossil burning.

      That’s way and by far our best course of action.

      But I’m going to pick that just about everyone reading this, resiled from that last best hope that we have.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1

        If Hansen et al are correct (“the trouble with Hansen is that he’s never been wrong”) that ship has already sailed: we must find ways to reduce not just carbon emissions, but atmospheric CO2.

        Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions.

        • Bill 4.1.1.1

          About half of what we put into the atmosphere every year isn’t captured. So to stand still, we’d have to develop and roll out technologies that emulated this planets entire bio-sphere. And we’d have to do that by Tuesday week as it were.

          Or we can slash fossil emissions to zero (that’s about 90% of our emissions) and do what we can with the other 10% of emissions (land use).

          And sure, beaver away on that negative emissions tech too.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1.1.1

            I don’t think Hansen et al propose an either/or – they’re saying we must do both.

            Capture and storage may well prove easier to achieve: it’s a positive thing to do rather than a habit to kick.

            • weka 4.1.1.1.1.1

              I thought Hansen and co said high tech CCS wasn’t something to rely on and we need to drop carbon use immediately.

              Edit, it’s here,

              State of emergency for planet earth

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                From the link at 4.1.1 (Hansen’s blog):

                An appropriate goal is to return global temperature to the Holocene range within a century. Such a goal was still achievable in 2013 if rapid emission reductions had begun at that time and if there were a global program for reforestation and improved agricultural and forestry practices. Now climate restoration this century would also require substantial technological extraction of CO2 from the air. If rapid emission reductions do not begin soon, the burden placed on young people to extract CO2 emitted by prior generations may become implausibly difficult and costly.

                My bold.

                • weka

                  Did you read my link?

                  If phasedown of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content, may provide much of the necessary CO2 extraction. In that case, the magnitude and duration of global temperature excursion above the natural range of the current interglacial (Holocene) could be limited and irreversible climate impacts could be minimized.

                  In contrast, continued high fossil fuel emissions today place a burden on young people to undertake massive technological CO2 extraction if they are to limit climate change and its consequences. Proposed methods of extraction such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or air capture of CO2 have minimal estimated costs of USD 89–535 trillion this century and also have large risks and uncertain feasibility. Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both.

                  Our conclusion that the world has overshot appropriate targets is sufficiently grim to compel us to point out that pathways to rapid emission reductions are feasible.

                  My synopsis,

                  1. we’ve missed the agreed targets that would allow BAU for Western civilisation
                  2. the only thing to do now is drop fossil fuels rapidly
                  high tech Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is very expensive, unreliable, risky, and probably implausible as a solution.
                  3. low tech sequestration via natural cycles might buy us some time but on its own won’t be enough
                  4. it’s our kids that will bear the brunt of this

                  I’ll add,

                  5. saving the conventional economy can no longer be the priority. We have to drop fossil fuel use immediately.
                  6. the Powerdown gives us the best shot at this without collapse.

              • Bill

                According to the summary linked to by OAB, Hanson is saying 1.5 degrees can be achieved if CO2 emissions are reduced at a rate of 3% from 2021 onwards.

                Which is bullshit.

                So I watched the video to see if it would explain the rationale of the 3% reduction. And it did. It’s based on RCP 2.6 which (drum roll) already has negative emission assumptions built in.

                So Hansen is suggesting a 3% reduction in CO2 emissions and basing that on a scenario that already includes negative emission technology, but then suggesting that negative emissions technology will be required since 1.5 degrees of warming is dangerous.

                The suggestion then (ignoring the negative emissions already built into the RCP2.6 scenario) is to extract 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere per year. For comparison, the world produces about 2 billion tonnes of concrete per year. Of course, the logistics aren’t touched on – just the supposed financial cost.

                • weka

                  So have I misunderstood their bit about not relying on CCS etc and instead doing a rapid transition off FF?

                  • Bill

                    I don’t now why he’s overlooked the CCS that’s built into RCP 2.6.

                    The trajectory we’re on demands cuts in the 15% per annum range for just a slim chance of avoiding 2 degrees.

                    Actually, maybe it’s 1 or 2% above that now.

                    Anyway, I think you understood what he was saying just fine. It’s just that what he was saying is essentially bullshit. Sadly.

                    • weka

                      It’s probably because I don’t bother with the maths and just cut straight to the conclusion. If they’re saying we can’t rely on CCS and need to drop FF use immediately, that’s fine by me.

                    • Bill

                      No. He’s saying that. Buthe’s not letting on that CCS is already factored in to the base scenario he’s using.

                      So y’know…?

                      I don’t know whether you want to go as far as to call that lying or to give the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t know that CCS was already built into the scenario.

                      But either way, it’s dangerously misleading.

  5. Kevin 5

    Don’t panic, I guarantee NZ will be the last bastion of the internal combustion engine.

  6. Pat 6

    speaking of lifeboats…..the titanic sinks , hundreds are in the water a lucky group of 20 find themselves aboard a life boat (for reasons unknown the sole functioning lifeboat) with a rated capacity and supplies for 40…..what do you do?

    • Bill 6.1

      Maybe I reflect that not learning to swim turned out to be not such a bad thing afterall and get on with the drowning 😉

      • Pat 6.1.1

        thats one option….however this classic ethical dilemma is about to be faced in real life, how many do you believe will be so philosophical?

        • Bill 6.1.1.1

          I thought I was being realistic, not philosophical. Given the choice between lingering in sub zero waters for five or ten minutes, or just getting it over and done with, then fuck it. Drown.

          Maybe you’d be surprised at the number of fishermen from fishing communities who, with that in mind, can’t and won’t learn to swim.

          I know the question and never really considered it a dilemma. If you’re in the boat, do what you can for whoever you can. It doesn’t matter who they are or what it is that you do. If you’re not in the boat, then hypothermia, drowning or a person who is in the boat is going to get you.

          • weka 6.1.1.1.1

            It’s the limitations of the Titanic metaphors. Like you, I’ve had time to figure out where my drown point is. But if Pat is talking about what to do from the boat, and the boat is NZ in the global context, then that’s a broader conversation. Or if the boat is my household in a neighbourhood of semi-starving people. I think you answered this in the post tbh. Build lots more lifeboats before we hit the iceberg.

            • Pat 6.1.1.1.1.1

              when the ship is sinking there is no wherewithal to build more lifeboats….however the analogy could equally apply to a country , a community or a household….the dilemma remains the same, and yes it is those within the lifeboat with the dilemma,those without are essentially reliant on the decisions taken by those within.

              • weka

                I guess that rather than talking about what it will be like once we’re at the point of not being able to build more lifeboats I’d rather work on building more lifeboats while we still can.

                • Pat

                  that assumes an option (one that may not exist)…you assume we can build “sufficient” lifeboats but i would suggest that by building individual or even community “lifeboats’ will not remove the dilemma when the time comes ( and likely far sooner than generally expected, which implies under preparedness) irrespective of the number …as the the number will always be less than required….the dilemma will remain.

                  • weka

                    I’m not at all assuming the number of life boats we can build will be sufficient, but it will be a damn sight more than if we build none.

                    Yes the dilemma will still be there, we will need to deal with it when we get to that point, but in the meantime I want to build more boats.

              • Bill

                Yup. At that point, when it’s going down, you’ve either developed a feasible and working community (the lifeboat) or you haven’t. And if you haven’t, the chances are that you’ll die. Even if you have, there’s no guarantee that you’ll live.

                Maybe my point is that if people don’t put serious and concerted effort into building community now; if people keep putting things off then… well, let’s just say things might not be ship shape in time.

                And the earlier anyone starts, the easier it will be. As of right now, almost any group of people pooling resources could ‘kit out’ their ‘lifeboat’ quite easily with all sorts of somewhat essential materials and infrastructures which, at some point, are going to become progressively more difficult to get a hold of.

                And people who act now, can spend the necessary time evolving whatever social culture and habits best fit with the new scenarios they’ve constructed.

                • Pat

                  ‘And people who act now, can spend the necessary time evolving whatever social culture and habits best fit with the new scenarios they’ve constructed’….. will still be faced with the dilemma of the multitudes who did (or could) not.

                  • Bill

                    Not wanting to sound all “whatever” on it.

                    But London has a population of some several million. So do many cities. One significant heat wave knocking out water and basic infrastructure will result in what? Millions heading off down to Devon and Cornwall or wherever? Unlikely.

                    To keep with your analogy, they are far too far away from any lifeboat and too busy fighting cold and huge swells. To be blunt – they’ll die.

                    Same for the millions in Bangladesh when one instance of flooding and sea level rise suddenly results in the country being unable to feed itself. And just in case, India has already constructed a fence/wall that’s some thousands of km in length to make sure they don’t move north.

                    (As an aside, that wall being built on Mexico’s border….)

                    Anyway. You want to talk of NZ?

                    So let’s go with any reticulated water dependent on electricity (pumping stations etc) gone. How far do you think people travel on foot when there’s no water? And what do you imagine their immediate priority might be? And if everyone still has running water, then why are they going to “hit the road” en masse?

                    In short, I just don’t see much in the way for any “dilemma of the multitudes”. There’s a tendency to linger and hope until there’s merely lingering. And that tendency will be in greater evidence among those who are choosing inaction right now.

                    • Pat

                      “Millions heading off down to Devon and Cornwall or wherever? Unlikely.”

                      and yet millions do so from Syria et al…and a lot further than London to Cornwall.

                      “And just in case, India has already constructed a fence/wall that’s some thousands of km in length to make sure they don’t move north.”

                      So they have…a largely ineffectual wall, as they tend to be.

                      ‘An eight-foot-high fence of barbed wire, electrified in some stretches, runs along roughly 70 percent of this border. It is an intimidating structure but it hasn’t deterred Bangladeshi migrants anxious to cross into India to visit relatives or in search of livelihood security from making the perilous journey. Smugglers, drug couriers, human traffickers, and cattle rustlers from both sides of the border too continue to cross the border to ply their trade, often with the connivance of Indian and Bangladeshi border guards.”

                      http://thediplomat.com/2017/02/the-india-bangladesh-wall-lessons-for-trump/

                      “There’s a tendency to linger and hope until there’s merely lingering. And that tendency will be in greater evidence among those who are choosing inaction right now.”

                      Guess all those conflicts over scarce resources throughout history must have been myths then…and the ones occurring as we type are “fake news”…e.g.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somalia

                    • Bill

                      Did millions of Syrian refugees set off on the same route on the same day and with no access to basic foodstuffs and water? No.

                      If you want a taste of what happens when very large numbers of people attempt to move in one fell swoop, then reflect on Japan when it was hit by the tsunami and the stationary mass of fleeing people (roads jammed and at a standstill etc). Or maybe, to a lesser degree, the exodus following the partition of India.

                      You want to discount the Indian wall? Fine. I’ve a feeling that many millions of Bangladeshis will one day wish they could too.

                      I can’t see what war over resources has to do with people carrying on “with normal” under whatever conditions, often until it’s too late to act. (Think of all the communists, gays, lesbians, Quakers, Jews etc who could have fled Germany in the early 30’s, and of those millions who hoped against hope instead of, where possible, hauling arse.)

                      If you’re suggesting that some people will seek to pick up AK47s or whatever when things tumble, then sure. But so what? If they can even find such arms, there will be no factories or home spun manufacturing operations producing magazines for them, and no smuggler roots to deliver any ‘kit’ seeing as how no ‘kit’ will be being manufactured.

                      I think you underestimate the magnitude of disruption that AGW has the potential to deliver and the very basic priorities millions of people are going to have and struggle to satisfy. It’s going to be water, and it’s going to be food and it’s going to be shelter. Thankfully, in times of crisis, humanity tends to rediscover co-operation and altruism. Unfortunately, that’s more than likely going to unfold in bounded and hopeless locations/situations.

                    • Pat

                      “I think you underestimate the magnitude of disruption that AGW has the potential to deliver and the very basic priorities millions of people are going to have and struggle to satisfy. It’s going to be water, and it’s going to be food and it’s going to be shelter. ”

                      and i think you underestimate the determination of humans to gain access to/control of those very neccesities…with approaching 8 billion worldwide, or even 5 million in NZ it only requires a small percentage to choose action over inaction to make the lie of your expected benign decline,AK47s not needed …plenty of firearms in NZ in any case, but anything can and would be used, including sheer force of numbers….and that action isn’t required to be organised or sustained, indeed it is likely to be the antithesis.

                      As an aside, this Titanic didn’t necessarily hit an iceberg and sink in the freezing Artic waters…it may just as well have sunk in calm warm waters..

  7. Pat 7

    the boat holds 40, possibly more at a stretch, however there are hundreds wishing to board (even counting all the philosophical/realistic/ non swimming souls)….the dilemma is not for those in the water (so much).

    • s y d 7.1

      Well Pat, if the boat holds 40, and you’re in the boat, you better be prepared to take an oar to bring down upon the grasping hands of them as want to clamber on board

  8. Pat 8

    hmmm…so at one end of the boat we have syd beating them off with an oar and at the other Bill hauling any on who (surprise, surprise) decide they don’t wish to start breathing water just yet….and do we bring down the oars on Bill for not fighting them off with the oars, or throw syd overboard as he seems somewhat of a threat ?….a rocky boat indeed.

    • Bill 8.1

      Any people in the water from your Titanic scenario are going to die of hypothermia whether they get aboard the lifeboat or not Pat.

      So if syd thinks they are involving themselves in mercy killings, then that’s okay. And if someone just extends some basic humanity to someone about to die (maybe something as basic as holding their hand), then that’s okay too.

      People acting out of fear/panic isn’t so okay though. That tends to result in paralysis or stupidity – maybe even ends with everyone dying.

      Anyway, it’s the motivation behind an act, rather than the act itself, which is important (if you want to get all philosophical and moral on it).

      • s y d 8.1.1

        I’m not advocating mercy killing anyone (or beating anyone off!).
        I’m saying any lifeboat has a given capacity to sustain life (i.e float)
        If the hundreds in the sea all try to climb aboard everyone will perish as the lifeboat will sink.

        So Pat, yes, there are some very problematical issues with being a small lifeboat in a world full of desperate people.

        And I do agree with Bill, that for those who prepare and are lucky enough to not be swamped by the initial events, then co-operation and altruism will have to win through.

        • Pat 8.1.1.1

          “If the hundreds in the sea all try to climb aboard everyone will perish as the lifeboat will sink.”

          indeed they (we) will…and therein lies the dilemma, and as a fortunate country (or later, community or household) at what point does our lifeboat start sinking?….and who determines that point and how?…or do we just cross our fingers and hope?..Individual preparedness(be it country or community or household) will not remove the dilemma…unless you believe (against all evidence) that every one will be sufficiently prepared and self sufficient wherever they may currently be.

          • Bill 8.1.1.1.1

            A community (a functioning one) has an eye to its carrying capacity and internal balances. That’s whether the external environment (the context) is undergoing good times or bad times.

            Short of a “zombies bearing arms” apocalypse (and I’ve given my thoughts on that), those communities will not “begin to sink” due to some uncontrollable influx of people.

            That’s the level where I think today’s immigration flow should be determined at btw – not at some nation state level. Shame we don’t really have any (none that I know of anyway) functioning communities in NZ. Gotta love the impact of that private property/ kiwi dream malarkey 😉

            • Pat 8.1.1.1.1.1

              https://www.sciencealert.com/these-islands-near-australia-could-be-underwater-in-as-little-as-fifty-years

              ‘Fiji, with its advantageous mountainous topography, is expected to become a hub for Pacific climate refugees, along with Australia and New Zealand, said Sarika Chand, communications consultant for the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of the South Pacific.

              “This archipelago in the Indian Ocean is not alone in gradually drowning: as many as 1,500 of Indonesia’s islands could be underwater by 2050. United States Secretary of State John Kerry, told students in Jakarta that climate change poses a threat to their “entire way of life” and that it was “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

              If nothing is done, Kiribati will go down into the ocean. By about 2030 we start disappearing. Our existence will come to an end in stages. First, the freshwater lens will be destroyed. The breadfruit trees, the taro, the saltwater is going to kill them.”

              http://thediplomat.com/2014/05/sinking-states-climate-change-and-the-pacific/

              • Bill

                So from potential and immediate human impacts flowing from AGW, you’re jumping to the immediate effects of AGW….why?

                For what it’s worth, I’m inclined to go with the paleontological record and the punts of those climate scientists who are talking to the paleontologists (eg – Eric Rignot).

                So warming of between 1.5 and 2 degrees = sea level rise of 6 – 9m. We’re arguably already at 1.5, so 6m or so is locked in (so much for Paris then).

                And since ice fronts can only be about 100m tall…well, you figure it out in terms of Antarctica and how fast disintegration might occur when ‘grounding lines’ are melted out.

  9. Pat 9

    why?…because decisions around migration both internal and external will become increasingly crucial and will need to be addressed….hence the original dilemma posed.

    Im not talking about the one or two centuries away which is the “official line” with respect to metre plus sea level rise or ice shelf collapse…both of those timelines are questioned as conservative ….but now. We already have communities here directly impacted (south brighton,south dunedin etc) and as one of those links state 2030 is only a dozen years away (and its worth considering that the population of Indonesia is some 260 odd million) ……or we can continue to hope for the best (but not plan for the worst)….I think its a discussion worth having and if nothing else may make some at least consider the implications.

    These are real impacts that will occur before the anarchic scramble for resources begins (or at least one would expect so)

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