Welcome to the Burdigalian

Written By: - Date published: 1:27 pm, January 14th, 2013 - 200 comments
Categories: climate change, global warming - Tags: , , ,

Last year, in the Arctic, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were measured at 400ppm. (referring to the text and links below the vid) If you search on line for historical CO2 levels, you’ll find a lot of comments that are of the opinion that 400ppm CO2 last occurred about 800 000 years ago…or maybe just a bit longer. The implication is that since that’s well within the span of human existence it doesn’t really matter too much. It’s fine; we’ve been here before.

One small detail is omitted from those 800 000 year punts though. Well, two actually. Firstly there is no indication from ice core samples of CO2 levels being as high as 400ppm. And secondly, ice core samples only stretch back 800 000 years.

According to sea bed core analysis, the last time atmospheric CO2 levels were around the 400ppm for any sustained period was during the Burdigalian stage of the Miocene. That’s 15 million to 20 million years ago. That’s the last time earth’s atmosphere had CO2 concentrations around the 400ppm for any sustained period of time.

And needless to say, we haven’t ‘been there’.

Just for some perspective on the time frames – 20 million years is about a third of the way back towards the extinction of dinosaurs, and our common ancestor, Homo Habilis (about 4 feet tall and with half our brain capacity) only appeared about 2.5 million years ago.

The point is this though, the world of 15 – 20 million years ago really is another world and climatically not one like anything we’ve ever experienced as a species. And the CO2 we have expelled into the atmosphere is creating precisely that world, right as I type, and right as you read.

The enormity and stupidity of what we have done boggles my brain. And it flops like a knackered fish brought to land when I reflect on politicians and industrialists jostling with one another across national boundaries for the right to expel even more CO2 into the atmosphere.

Like I said, ice cores record 800 000 years worth of climate. There was maybe a smidgen of ice somewhere 15 million years ago. But there was no Greenland ice sheet and no ice on the Arctic. And there would have been very little, if any, ice in Antarctica. (e.g. –  Scientists variously estimate Lake Vostok in the middle of Antarctica has been isolated beneath ice for between 500 000 and about 1 million years) And I don’t think I’m being unreasonable to suggest similar comparitively ice free environments on the Himalayan and Tibetan Plateaus that contain the glacial feeds for many of the world’s major rivers.

And we can expect temperatures in line with the Burdigalian – ie 4-6 degrees C above pre-industrial levels by 2040 or 2050 according to the estimates of such conservative institutions as the International Energy Agency, the World Bank and others.

Sea level rise is another, less definite matter. Although I keep hearing 1000 years with regards Antarctica, the truth is that nobody knows with any accuracy how processes associated with melting work or how long they might take. What is known is that once ice shelves disintegrate (as is happening in Antarctica) there is nothing to hold glaciers, increasingly lubricated by melt water, up on the land. And it’s also known that ice in seawater has the same effect on sea level rises as melted ice. But sure, lets say 1000 years to get full on Burdigalian sea level rises in the order of 20m or 30m or whatever.

Now, I don’t expect anyone who is reading this to flick all their electrical switches to a permanent ‘off’ position. And I don’t expect people to suddenly refuse to drive cars or fly in planes. And I don’t expect you or anyone else to lend their heft to a force that will compel governmental agencies and institutions to take the type of radical and urgent actions that they and we really need to commit to.

What I do expect is for people to do nothing or nothing much by way of putting a stop to the burning of those carbon deposits that were laid down hundreds of millions of years ago.

And so I expect that we are in for a horrendously chaotic ride as the climate transitions from one stable state to another stable state. And, as a consequence, I expect millions, or  possibly even billions now living to die – many within the memory of somebody, somewhere, who is alive today.

But that’s alright. Because maybe you’re up for promotion soon. Or maybe the Cullen Fund will yield you good returns for retirement. And maybe the next government will be better than the last government. And this plan; the one we are pursuing at the moment whereby we pretend everything’s okay on the basis that  everything’ll be okay if we pretend hard enough that everything’ll be okay…it seems to be working, yup?

N.B. Anybody attempting  to run an AGW denialist arguments will be banned. Them’s the rules. You don’t have to like them. You’ve been warned.

200 comments on “Welcome to the Burdigalian ”

  1. Andre 1

    Well said Bill

    • aerobubble 1.1

      As the sun uses up fuel it gets hotter, as heat and light need to escape but have more waste from the nuclear processes to get through. So 800,000 years ago the sun was slight cooler! meaning that the greenhouse gases trap more heat as there is a hotter sun. The problems with assumptions is that they aren’t recognized, that the Earth-Sun relationship changes over time too.

  2. Erentz 2

    But the world is only 6000 years old! And if we go extinct that is just what god wants. An the world is so big there is no way humans can impact it. And there was a typo somewhere your article so therefore the whole thing is clearly unreliable. And the cabal of tens of thousands of scientists are just trying to take away my car an send us all back to the Stone Age without any medicine, because they hate our freedoms. And …

  3. Rogue Trooper 3

    Excellent rhetoric Bill; A+
    (I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like, you say black, I say white, you say bark I say bite)

    Fat-bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round.

    -Freddie

  4. Scientific Moron (renamed from fustercluck) 4

    I thought data showed CO2 increases follow temperatures rather than leading them. Hmm.

    Yes, lets all focus on a normal atmospheric gas and Al Gores attempts to commodify carbon rather than looking at the actual destruction of our planets capacity to house us in comfort. Let industry dump poisons for free. Let deforestation continue unabated.

    Go ahead and cling to the specious fantasy of ‘carbon neutral’ cities and ‘offsets’…yep that’ll sort things out.

    That climate changes is the only constant. That our climate will change is a certainty. That we are changing the climate is a possibility. Another certainty is that we will choke in our filth long before we cook from rising temperatures.

    Ignore the hand the magician is waving about and watch the one he is trying to hide. It suits transnational power structures to debate CO2 as long as it allows them to pollute and despoil for free.

    [lprent: Just to clarify, there is usually a pulse of CO2 after the end of a natural de-glaciation – which is what this scientific moron is referring to. This is because land areas that have had cold temperatures defrost, and ocean currents warm up. Both release the vast amounts of CO2 that were locked up in tundra and deep current respectively. A natural deglaciation is largely caused by orbital forcing, ie the orbital mechanics

    Of course the whole point of AGW is that it is not a natural process, it is a forced outpouring of greenhouse gases causing climate change. It isn’t a outpouring of greenhouse gases in a response to orbital warming. The only times in the geological record that show anything similar have been long periods of extended volcanism over thousands or millions of years, usually accompanied by mass extinctions. There is nothing in the geological record that shows anything measurable happening in decades like we have seen in the last hundred years.

    Of course the silly wanker above probably knows this. After all it has been explained so often that even the most pig-ignorant arsehole like him is probably aware of it. Since he has offered absolutely nothing of value, I’m going to change his handle and ban him for a week for trying to derail a post. ]

    • One Tāne Huna 4.1

      I thought data showed CO2 increases follow temperatures rather than leading them

      Really? Says who? What else did they say? Did they mention the Strawman?

      Question: are you now experiencing the humiliation of having been duped, or are you angrily rejecting the facts and clinging to your delusions like a cry-baby?

      • McFlock 4.1.1

        I reckon the latter.

        As for the “climate changes anyway” argument:
        Although lightning strikes people occasionally, it doesn’t mean that we as a species should happily stick our dicks in a power socket.

    • muzza 4.2

      Ignoring/abusing SM’s comment and a ban, does not remove the validity of what was said!

      Only those who can’t see the writing on the wall, will waste time worrying about it. The debate is not even a consideration for those who dictate to the planet, the policies which will decide the fate of the massess, we will get what we deserve, (apathy/stupidity/greed) ensure it, that’s been priced in so to speak.

      The other option is a sudden wind down/event so graphic, that the global population plunges, either way there is massive depopulation, when/how are the only variables!

      McFlock – Again with the references, you go boy!

      • McFlock 4.2.1

        It’s sweet that you still read my comments, then.
        A bit like the “moral majority” members [giggle] who opposed pornography so much they bought every single issue so they could point out the offensive content after close – er – reading.

      • lprent 4.2.2

        Then argue it. Don’t do what this silly dickhead did and insinuate. Personally I take a great pleasure in tearing spare ones for people who do that.

        Protect yourself from me because this is the one area of debate that I allow myself to play. Before putting up one of the idiotic myths of the climate ostriches (that I have now seen a thousand times before) at least read Skepical Science or Real Climate FAQs so you understand the actual arugument and data from the field. Blindly going off and repeating ritual from the Heartland, Watts, or that supreme fraud – the potty peer just makes me think that people aren’t worth arguing with.

        And FFS, learn some bloody basic earth sciences. It has been 30 years since I did, surely some of the basics haev leaked out into schools by now. I saw my niece reading some in her year 9 class work…

        • muzza 4.2.2.1

          Why would I care to protect myself from you LP, I’m not looking to debate the science, I’ll leave that to the *clever people*. I’m interested to read what those who seem to understand the science (or claim they do) have to say, but I am also interested in the realistic discussion about what is practical at the moment, and the short, medium term, and what ideas others have, which they are actively implementing in order to drive change, other than sitting back and waiting for the political system to *save the world*!

          All the science knowledge in your head is not going to alter what we are all up against, so far as the models which govern the path we’re headed!

          McFlock , yeah I read your comments, there is something to be gained from most of the regulars here.

        • TheContrarian 4.2.2.2

          “Protect yourself from me because this is the one area of debate that I allow myself to play.”

          Jesus man, listen to yourself “Protect yourself from me!”. What an asshole.

  5. lorax 5

    The sooner and severer the impacts of climate change begin to hit us the better, in some ways, as that may be the only way to elicit a response…or maybe not. Unfortunately I think we may be content to be frogs in a big pot.

    • erentz 5.1

      I’m kind of with you on this. As long as those impacts are not the really bad feedback creating, impossible to reverse kind. Lots more mega storms, and the like would be nice to have. Throw it in the face of people enough that they finally click. Time is the greatest persuader but unfortunately with climate change we’re out of time.

      I get very cynical these days on this subject. For example, I couldn’t quite fathom why everyone in Louisiana was so sore about the oil spill a couple of years back. I mean, going by their voting records, and rhetoric of their representatives, they all don’t seem to care that those marshes and shoreline will be non existent in a few decades due to climate change. So on the grand scale of things, what does it matter if they’re destroyed now or in 40 years time. If you care about protecting it now, you should equally care about protecting it long into the future. But I tried debating that logic with some, and it didn’t pan out very well. Humans are pretty dumb.

    • karol 5.2

      Actually, I hear people who aren’t usually that political talking anxiously about the extremes of temperature we’ve seen lately: the fires in Aussie and Canterbury, the heat in Auckland, unusual snow storms in China, etc. I had two such people talks to me yesterday – one specifically worried about climate change, another seemed to imply it. And on Saturday I came across a couple of people talking about what they should give up, with the need to power down. Most of these people have never talked to me about anything political int he past.

      The pollies and MSM may be trudging slowly along behind the general population on this.

    • Anne 5.3

      The sooner and severer the impacts of climate change begin to hit us the better, in some ways, as that may be the only way to elicit a response…

      I bet you there are oodles of Aussies who are more concerned about C.C. than they were a few weeks ago…

  6. Steve Wrathall 6

    The 1990 IPCC report predicted “Under the Business- as- Usual scenano, the best estimate is that, for the year 2030, global sea level would be 18cm higher than today”
    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_I/ipcc_far_wg_I_chapter_09.pdf

    Meanwhile back in the real world sea level continues it’s non-alarming 3.1 mm/year rise , and there is no evidence that it is increasing.
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/files/current/sl_ns_global.jpg

    This puts us on track for 12.4 cm over 1990-2040. Below the average IPCC prediction from 1990, way below the upper-end IPCC estimate of 30 cm, and no-where near the fantastical Al Gore metres of sea level rise flooding NY before the WTC is even rebuilt.

    If you want to panic prople into the tax-and-control agenda that you have held all along, then you’ll have to try something different because the AGW scam has had it.

    • One Tāne Huna 6.1

      Why are you referencing a 23 year old study when IPCC AR4 came out in 2007?

      Is it because you are dishonest, or is it because you’ve swallowed the lies you’ve been told like a cretinous sponge?

      • Steve Wrathall 6.1.1

        Because there is now 23 years of real-world observations to compare with those predictions. You actually care whether the alarmist predictions you believe in are true…don’t you?

        Please state which proposition you claim I am denying.

        • One Tāne Huna 6.1.1.1

          I care about lab technicians who cherry pick and misrepresent science, and wonder whether they are upset that the smart kids got all the good research positions.

          • McFlock 6.1.1.1.1

            momentarily gobsmacked!

          • muzza 6.1.1.1.2

            I care about lab technicians who cherry pick and misrepresent science, and wonder whether they are upset that the smart kids got all the good research positions.

            And there it is!

    • Bill 6.2

      What tax and control agenda is that I’ve been holding all along? News to me. Anyway, because I forgot to put the caveat on this post – the one that says any denialist arguments will lead to the perpetrators being banned – I’ll let this one b/s comment of yours go.

      But be warned. Do not attempt to derail the thread with denialist clap trap. And read the fcking links if you want the science…particularly the one to Kevin Anderson’s presentation that explains in some detail the why’s and wherefore’s of various reports being manipulated to misrepresent the real picture. (The transcript is linked from the vid I link to in the post if you don’t have sufficient bandwidth to view the vid)

      And here’s the link again. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/events/2012/194.html

      • weka 6.2.1

        I’d encourage you to moderate hard on this thread Bill. Maybe put the warning re denialist derailments from one of the earlier posts at the bottom of this post?

        [B :- Aye. You could have just succesfully persuaded me there 😉 Really have noticed a big drop off in denialist b/s since the Heartland sponsored study was released. But that’s an observation for another day.]

        • Steve Wrathall 6.2.1.1

          Please state which proposition you claim I am denying.

          [B:- Steve. Not only are you screeching, but your posting duplicate comments. If you want to maintain that AGW is ‘a scam’, then that’s fine by me. But you won’t be holding that argument on this post. That clear?]

          [lprent: Banned 2 months.

          A month for trying to disrupt the thread – quoting a 23 year old study as if it was current puts you directly into the extreme troll area. And another month for being a dumbarse and trying to argue about it after being clearly warned.

          If you’re going to argue about AGW, then for fucks sake update your knowledge to the point that you’re not mindlessly repeating crap from decades ago.

          I removed the duplicate ]

          • mickysavage 6.2.1.1.1

            He did claim that the 1990 report was inaccurate because the increase in sea level was not as bad as predicted. But yeah cherry picking data and ignoring everything that is happening around the one bit of data that is not as bad as they thought it would be is pretty dishonest. Instead of arguing one particular bit of data they should be prepared to argue everything. They are backing a conclusion looking for some support, any support, that will back up their prejudice.

        • Populuxe1 6.2.1.2

          Can you actually point out anyone here who has denied climate change, Weka? Even futercluck at least admits the human element in the equation is “possible”. I’m inclined to suspect a combination of human and natural elements.

          • weka 6.2.1.2.1

            Haven’t actually read that part of the conversation Pop. Can’t be bothered. What I can see though is a steady pattern in these discussions on ts. Bill is probably right that the out and out denialists aren’t around as much, but there is still derailment going on, it’s just more subtle. If someone wants to talk about whether what Bill says in his post is real or not, or to what degree it is real, they’re missing the point, and IMO they can fuck off somewhere else to play with the figures. The point, IMO, of Bill’s post, is not to present and open debate about to what extent we are fucked or not, but instead it’s to state categorically that we are in an extremely serious situation and we have to do something NOW. We don’t have to talk any more about whether it’s sufficiently bad to change our lives, we’re already there.

            Any comments that create long discussions about the finer points of what’s true or not, or to what extent they are true, are complete bullshit, and just serve to reinforce Bill’s point. Point in case, I’ve just spent 6 or 7 minutes explaining this to you instead of posting some additional links to support Karol’s comment below about giving people tools to do something locally.

            ps. having now gone and had a closer look at the actual comments, how on earth can you not see this one as a denial and derailment?

            “If you want to panic prople into the tax-and-control agenda that you have held all along, then you’ll have to try something different because the AGW scam has had it.”

            • muzza 6.2.1.2.1.1

              Weka the problem is with attitudes such as that your comment illustrates you have, is the mirror of those who are accused of denial!

              Either end of the spectrum means that beneficial outcomes, and the plan to get to those outcomes, is not possible, because “we have to do something NOW”

              Do you actually care what something is, are you interested in meaningful discussion of what something is, or will you accept whatever TPTB decide will be best solution for humanity, not matter what?

              The fact you won’t even bother to read the comment, shows equally, as bad a view on this topic, as someone who flat out denies that its not an issue!

              If you’re that passionate about it, perhaps share what action you’re taking to negate yours/families contribution to the problem then…I look forward to reading it!

              Or are you waiting for TPTB to act on your behalf!

              Note: In case you’re waiting, consider this – The governments, nor the people the governments represent, give a toss about what happens to you, or your family!

              • weka

                “Do you actually care what something is”

                Yes. But I believe that we already know enough about AGW to take action.

                “are you interested in meaningful discussion of what something is”

                Yes, just not in this thread. When your house is burning down, you don’t need to stop and debate why it started, or whether the heat is x degrees or y degrees. You need strategies for you getting the kids out of the house and maybe saving the photos and other precious things.

                “or will you accept whatever TPTB decide will be best solution for humanity, not matter what?”

                That question doesn’t really apply to me, as I don’t think TPTB are competent to deal with this situation. It says more about you not knowing who I am.

                “The fact you won’t even bother to read the comment, shows equally, as bad a view on this topic, as someone who flat out denies that its not an issue!”

                Nope. There are lots of discussions I don’t read on ts. Life is short. I can tell you that I sometimes read Lynn’s comments about the details about climate change, because they’re interesting and often teach me something. And sometimes the comments from others. But in general I’m not that interested in debating the minutiae of CC so tend to skip over those conversations. Please bear in mind, that I’ve been environmentally aware and active for over 25 years, so it’s not like my avoidance is complete avoidance, or willful ignorance. I’m just selective on how I spend my energy.

                “If you’re that passionate about it, perhaps share what action you’re taking to negate yours/families contribution to the problem then…I look forward to reading it!”

                I do activism in my community that prepares for the coming powerdown. I’ve downsized my life quite a bit with regards to resource use, but like most people find there are distinct limits to what I can achieve as an individual. I’ve been talking about peak oil for a long time. I’ve not been very focussed on CC because it’s not been my area of interest, and because it seemed for a while like there was a lot of activism going on already, and because I thought there was bugger all we could do. Bill’s posts of the last month have changed my mind about that. There are other things I could say, more detailed, but I value my privacy 🙂

                “Or are you waiting for TPTB to act on your behalf!”

                Most certainly not (I think you might be confusing me with Jenny there 😉 ). I don’t believe that govt (national or local) have the solutions. I believe instead that communities need to take responsibility and action, and that governing organisations (and businesses) will follow once we reach a population tipping point. The value of govt at the moment is to stem the tide, which is why people who don’t vote intentionally give me the shits. The work that I and lots of other people do is so much easier under a left wing govt than a right wing one. The further left we can shit that govt the better, but I don’t believe that parliament will save us.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  I don’t believe that govt (national or local) have the solutions. I believe instead that communities need to take responsibility…

                  There’s no difference between those two entities. That seems to be the biggest problem with peoples understanding of politics today – especially the politicians understanding.

          • TheContrarian 6.2.1.2.2

            Careful Pop1, denying that someone is denying AGW is a bannable offence.

            (FWIW – I have no real disagreement with AGW)

            [lprent: Deliberately repeating a argument that has been refuted many times on a post about AGW is bannable offence because it is a classic troll diversion tactic. And in this case Steve W has used that line before used in exactly the same diversion, been banned for it, and now repeats it – in this case using a 23 year old report. That is just stupid and gets in the way of discussing what was actually in the post.

            The other idiot was merely repeating something that they’d probably read somewhere before and never bothered to check. At least I couldn’t see him using it anywhere else on the site. What annoys me is the way that he used it. A straight assertion, no references, and no relationship to the topic of the actual post. Again a classic troll diversion technique. If he wanted a discussion on just that point, then he could have raised it in OpenMike instead.

            The likelihood of Pop ever getting banned for something that dumb is zero to minimal. I suspect it would require some kind of lobotomy. ]

          • lprent 6.2.1.2.3

            Pop: Of course it is a mixture of “human and natural elements”. The whole climate system is a balance between conflicting systems. It would take very very little shift in any one part of the “natural” system to render the planet uninhabitable to life above the level of a single celled organism – which is all that has existed for the vast majority of the Earth’s history.

            The earth’s climate is currently only inhabitable because the biosystems are maintaining it that way. At this stage in the solar evolution without a biology we should have an average temperature a lot different than we do and should have quite a different atmosphere. We’d be likely to look more like Venus than Mars.

            The point about AGW is that it is really only the human elements that are are affecting the stability of a system that usually only has quite gradual change. To have the shift in the earth’s atmosphere that has happened in the last century is something that would “naturally” take 10’s of thousands of years and more likely 100’s of thousands of years.

            The biological mechanisms that would usually compensate for such changes act far too slowly for the type of climate change happening now. So we’re heading for the classic symptoms of a mass extinction of the type we can see in the geological record many times. Typically this takes out the higher animal kingdom – like ourselves or the large dinosaurs. For instance the nearly million years of the deccan volcanism that culminated in the eventual extinction of the large dinosaurs (punctuated at the end with a meteorite).

            But those are the “natural” mechanisms. We’re currently tipping the balance in the atmosphere towards one of the other climate stability points. Which unfortunately isn’t one that either we as a species, nor our civilisations have evolved to cope with. As Bill points out, the last time the world saw similar conditions was a hell of a long time ago.

            Humans in our current numbers depend entirely on our agricultural technology. That has proven many times to not be particularly resilient in the face of mere weather, and to readily disintegrate into famine in even the minor climate changes we’ve had in the last 10k years.

            So as far as I’m concerned it is only the “human” factors I worry about. The Earth will abide with or without us. If humans can maintain their civilisation or even avoid extinction after accidentally modifying the climate that we depend so heavily on is a question that is yet to be resolved.

            • TheContrarian 6.2.1.2.3.1

              The plants survived their accidental poisoning of the environment – I think we can too…maybe.

              • Lanthanide

                Anyone claiming that humans are going to go extinct in the next 100, and likely 500 years, is barking up the wrong tree.

                *Industrial civilization* however, is an entirely different, and much more fragile, beast.

                • Macro

                  I wouldn’t be so sure. Your comment displays a complete lack of appreciation of the position and role of humans in the ecosystem. We are damaging the ecosystem irreparably and who knows what the outcome will be. Take the rapid extinction of bees worldwide for instance. Many of the foods on which we depend, depend for their fertilisation on bees.
                  http://thenationonlineng.net/new/business/agriculture/how-to-reverse-decline-in-bee-population/

                  • weka

                    Bees…. Macro, I think you are meaning the end of civ, not the end of homo sapiens. Yes bees are important for pollination, but they’re not the only pollinators, and I don’t see the evidence for extinction of all bee species. What that article is talking about is commercial monocropping, which is dependent on a small number of bee species from commercial hives that are a fairly unnatural condition for bees to exist within. I’m not saying there isn’t a problem, just that what industrial food growers need is not the same as what humans need.

                • AmaKiwi

                  Anyone claiming we don’t have the means (nuclear weapons, germ warfare, etc.) to make humans extinct is in denial.

                  • McFlock

                    Actually, with the exception of a complete nuclear exchange (and even then maybe not), extinction would still be difficult to achieve.

                    Germ warfare is excellent at killing large numbers of people, but achieving 100% fatality with 100% infection is a difficult combination: look at Rabbit haemorragic disease which would have been a limited control even if released properly. The Black Death achieved massive fatalities but still never came anywhere near to wiping out Europe.

                    Civilizations, on the other hand, are much more vulnerable.

                    But it will take something massive for us to wipe ourselves out. Climate change over a few hundred years (e.g. oceanic stagnation) maybe but unlikely. Nuclear exchange: maybe, but highly unlikely (although regional exchanges likely). Gas/chemical agents: probably not. Disease: civilisation, not entire population.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      But it will take something massive for us to wipe ourselves out.

                      The T-Rex Leadership Committee felt great relief at this report.

                    • McFlock

                      Two points:
                      Firstly, I never said extinction was impossible, just highly unlikely. Self-inflicted extinction in the next few hundred years if even more unlikely.

                      Secondly, T-rex and their campadres were not (as far as we’re aware) particularly good at tracking near-earth asteroids or building bunkers. Additional to that note, the nutritional requirements of humans are somewhat less than for multi-tonne lizards.

                      Mammals. We kick arse.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Mammals. We kick arse.

                      Rats maybe… 😈

                      I agree that human extinction by 2100 is very very unlikely.

                      At this point however I also believe that a human population of over 2B-3B by 2100 is just as unlikely.

                    • McFlock

                      maybe. The proof is in the pudding.

                • Anyone claiming that humans are going to go extinct in the next 100, and likely 500 years, is barking up the wrong tree.

                  That is denial of AGW, or maybe just the A?
                  Or to use my new pet words
                  cognitive dissonance

                  Regardless of your belief, the facts say we are gone burger

                  • weka

                    Different interpretations of the facts. I don’t see the evidence that we are gone burger. I see the evidence that we are possibly, or even probably gone burger as a species, but not an absolute. I haven’t seen you post any evidence of the absolute either 🙂

                    • Sorry there might be 2-3 people down in the Olduvai Gorge, or a tribe in Antarctica, but from what Guy McPherson says global average of +4 = no oxygen, hasn’t Hanson said as much ? Like we are headed for Venus?
                      And transition towns might have worked if they had been maintained after WW2 but now they are just gardening clubs. They came out with a nice book though.
                      In the end the argument is academic as far as you and I go, we will not know or care the future of man kind.
                      That is partly why I use my real name … I don’t give a fuck.

                    • weka

                      Guy McPherson theorises about what will happen. It’s not the same as saying the sun will rise tomorrow. We have probabilities not certainties. The problem I have with your position is that if you are wrong, if we still do have a chance, then you are wasting it.

                      McPherson appears to still believe that acting as if we have a chance is still a reasonable and valid thing to do.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Indeed weka, it’s our human and moral imperative not to waste what remains of our (narrowing) chances. As long as we can draw another breath, we have another chance at life.

                    • All well and good guys, but apathy rules, the pig ignorant masses and that includes politicians, MSM, and just about every organization that could do something are just not listening, Jay Hanson said over 15 years ago, it is pointless doing anything while 99% of the system is traveling at the speed of light towards the cliff.
                      But don’t let my opinion stop you, go man the barricades, I will be right behind you, along with everyone else zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
                      In the end humans are just not worth the effort.

                    • The Al1en

                      “In the end humans are just not worth the effort.”

                      I don’t know, I quite like them.

                    • weka

                      Robert, I don’t see much difference between “we’re all fucked and there is nothing we can do” and “climate change isn’t real”, in terms of real outcomes.

                      “Jay Hanson said over 15 years ago, it is pointless doing anything while 99% of the system is traveling at the speed of light towards the cliff.”

                      If that’s true then he doesn’t understand much about societal change then, does he? However I suspect you are misrepresenting his views.

                      “In the end humans are just not worth the effort.”

                      Perhaps, but the rest of life has value beyond measure. That you don’t care about that says much.

                    • Weka my anonymous friend, it hurts to much to care, I can’t look at a polar bear or a new child without feeling like crying, but then I see a dog hung to death from a tree in Upper Hutt 5 or so years ago, or that video of the mother dog with her drowned pup in her mouth running up and down the river bank, crying for the rest of the litter, or the baby elephant beside its tusk less mother.
                      Then I think good fucking job and death to humans, we are utter trash. With politicians at the top of this disgusting heap, as a species we deserve what is happening.
                      Jay actually said something like he wouldn’t do anything to try and stop what is happening until he sees global governments taking control and appropriate actions, though having http://www.dieoff.org was doing something … maybe.

                      My default will be killing myself, so no need to suggest it, I am well and truly in the kill myself mindset.

                    • Colonial Weka

                      Thanks Robert, I understand better where you are at now, and share some of your sentiments. That’s a very hard place you are in, and I’m sorry for it. For whatever reason, my psyche still affords me some protection… I agree with the idea that we have to resist no matter what, but it works better for me to frame it in ways that do have some hope. I used to agree with Derrick Jensen’s position on hope (that hope prevents us from taking necessary action), but now I just find it more effective to work as if there is a point beyond resistance.

                      I will continue to disagree with your politics. However even though I don’t know if this is what you want, I wish you some relief from such suffering.

    • erentz 6.3

      Good news everybody! Steve says the AGW scam has had it, therefore he’s no longer worried about whatever it is about science that scares and worries his inflexible mind so much, and he’ll just go away and ignore all you AGW believers now and focus on his own life. Because the scam you’ll have been sucked into is over! Yay!

      It gets to a point where you have to start asking if Steve is some kind of bot, or he just has this persona he’s developed which he practises online as a kind of performance to amuse people at cocktail parties and the like.

      • Anne 6.3.1

        Perhaps he’s one of the ignorant gullibles who listens to the bull-shit supremo Denier- Leighton Smith.

    • Andre 6.4

      Selfishness , Personified, STEVE Well done….

    • Macro 6.5

      For the casual reader – you need to be aware that everything Steve says here is utter bullshit. His claim that sea level rise is 3.1 mm/year is a cherry picking hoax of absurd proportions. For a fuller – more balanced and accurate assessment of what the IPCC said, and what the actual observations are, you are referred to this exposition here :
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/sea-level-rise-predictions.htm

    • Barry 6.6

      I like the way he says “non-alarming” 3.1 mm per year sea level rise. At least it is progress from a few years ago when deniers were saying that sea level wasn’t rising at all.

      I find 3.1mm per year (31 cm a century) quite alarming, and that is the minimum we are likely to see this century.

  7. joe90 7

    Here’s the draft of the National Climate Assessment released late last week.

    http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/download/NCAJan11-2013-publicreviewdraft-fulldraft.pdf (179MB)

  8. weka 8

    Thanks Bill, good post. That made me get off the internet and go and make some phone calls on local relevant issues that I’ve been meaning to do.

    I’ll go all cynical here for a moment, and say, let’s all sit on the Standard and congratulate ourselves on knowing what is what, instead of going and doing something. Or let’s sit here and debate the minutiae of CC/AGW detail. Are we any better than anyone else?

    My first response to reading Bill’s post was that it’s just too big and too hard. Even for the people that are on board with the science and reality, it seems such an impossible task. For me personally, I tend to shift my focus back to my local community and supporting things happening here that might give us a chance as survival, and might also help people to not just wake up but have the resources to do something. But I also see a lack of avenues for political action on a bigger scale.

    The other big gaps I see in the political communities’ responses to AGW are helping people deal with cognitive and emotional dissonance, and giving people things they can do right now to take action (these need to be things that affirm survival for individuals and their families as well as helping mitigate CC).

    In other words, we need strategies, as well as pertinent information and talk fests (I’m finding Bill’s posts on CC in the past month to be very motivation and helpful, so let’s keep writing too).

    • Andre 8.1

      WEKA as you say the people need strategies as individuals and groups and country’s. It is fixable ….Lets get on with it for our kids..

    • karol 8.2

      I think acting locally is very important. I am reminded of this link to Transition towns someone posted under one of my posts a couple of months back. A post about collective action. The about section of the site says this:

      Transition Towns initiatives are part of a vibrant, international grassroots movement that brings people together to explore how we – as communities – can respond to the environmental, economic and social challenges arising from climate change, resource depletion and an economy based on growth.

      People may find it a useful site for getting involved in local activities in their area.

      • Gosman 8.2.1

        I’m curious about these Transition Towns. I initially thought they were actual towns which had been set up but the more I look into it they seem to be a bunch of political action committees offering advice on solar heated showers and small hold organic farming. Most disappointing.

        • karol 8.2.1.1

          Gos, it looks to me that it can be used for info and for making connections locally, especially via the forum “local groups” section.

        • weka 8.2.1.2

          “the more I look into it they seem to be a bunch of political action committees offering advice on solar heated showers and small hold organic farming.”

          Reducing demand on the grid and supporting local, small scale food production are exactly what we need to be doing. Why were you disappointed?

          • Gosman 8.2.1.2.1

            Because they are talkshops. Well meaning talkshop, but talkshops none the less.

            I went to that link provided by karol and noted that the movement started from a place called Kinsale. I did a search on it and, (if it is indeed the same place I looked at), the Kinsale council doesn’t reference much, if anything, about their seminal role in this movement.

            What I woiuld prefer to see is a group of like minded people actually setting large scale communities up that offer practical examples of how people can live in a prosperous manner going forward using as many of the new methods promoted. As more ideas come up they can try those as well. Now that is my idea of a transition town.

            • Bill 8.2.1.2.1.1

              Maybe you should have read my comments and posts on worker/housing collectives when I made them. Life was prosperous enough (ie, a more than adequate ‘standard of living’) , energy needs plummented and quality of life was much, much higher than you’d ever achieve in this, or any other, atomised market economy. And we had ample time and energy to develop and lay in whatever groundwork or infrastructure we thought we required. Of course, back then, AGW wasn’t really on anyone’s radar.

            • framu 8.2.1.2.1.2

              well – you know what to do then – get your mates and put some capital behind starting your own one 🙂

              but i thought you hated collectivism and the coercion that goes along with it?

              OK – im with you on talk fests generally achieving little – but we are talking about re-organising entire communities, which would involve a fair amount of talking and progressing in very small steps. Its a slow process that will undoubtedly require different solutions in different places and take a very long time.

              eg: if your just staring out then surely “offering advice on solar heated showers and small hold organic farming” isnt a bad thing is it? – you do have to get people on board, which takes – you guessed it – time and talking a lot.

              also, in practice, transition towns would likely evolve into the description – i know from experience that if you get out and about in small town NZ this is exactly what is happening. Individuals or small groups starting projects, other locals seeing the positives and starting out on their own ideas and so on.

              The talk fests that you are describing are just the annoying unproductive, but highly visible face – you need to get amongst it to see the reality

              OK folks – back on topic

              • weka

                “also, in practice, transition towns would likely evolve into the description – i know from experience that if you get out and about in small town NZ this is exactly what is happening. Individuals or small groups starting projects, other locals seeing the positives and starting out on their own ideas and so on.

                The talk fests that you are describing are just the annoying unproductive, but highly visible face – you need to get amongst it to see the reality”

                +100 Spot on.

              • Gosman

                I dislike coersion but have no problem with voluntary collectivism.

                The point I am making is that people have the power to set up these new communities right now, so why aren’t they doing so?

                • framu

                  they are doing it – it just doesnt come about in the way you think it does. Which makes your point kind of redundant

                  re-read my comment and weka’s below

            • weka 8.2.1.2.1.3

              Gosman, I don’t think Kinsale council were a big part of the initial projects there. It was community based. But if you want to look at successful examples that have eventually involved local bodies and even national govt, try the UK ones, esp Totnes. http://www.transitiontowntotnes.org/

              Your idea about intentional community is interesting, but that’s not what Transition Towns is about. Intentional communities of the the kind you are talking about take resources, time, energy. Most people don’t have that. The Transition Town movement is SPECIFICALLY focussed on transforming existing communities, because so much of what we need in a community is already there, and because that’s where the people are that TT needs to make the change.

              Most people are unwilling to form intentional communities anyway, so TT focuses on what works for people where they are now.

              The main long term goal of most Transition Towns is to produce an Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP). The work at Kinsale, and the Totnes EDAP are founding documents, worth reading if you want to understand the scope. All the things that need to happen to produce the EDAP are what transform the community.

              • Gosman

                “Louise Rooney, set about developing the Transition Towns concept and presented it to Kinsale Town Council resulting in the historic decision by Councillors to adopt the plan and work towards energy independence.”

                This suggests to me that the Kinsale Town Council was involved in quite a major way with the concept. However as stated no mention, that I could see, is apparent on their website.

  9. McFlock 9

    Personally I think we’re at the point of needing some massive tech interventions to stop the different issues caused by industrial fossil fuel use.

    The problems I see are:
    A) warming, leading to severe weather patterns and sea level rise;
    B) ocean acidification that, coupled with warming and overfishing, will lead to continue species depletion and decline in food supply;
    C) energy costs rising to the point of economic collapse.

    A can be temporarily treated artificially today by changing the albedo of the planet.
    A and B can only be solved by carbon sequestration in massive amounts, not technically achievable in a useful timeframe today.
    C being prevented by a new energy source might enable B. IF the new energy source turns up in time.

    Basically, we’re fucked and in the hands of fate. But we’re also smart and adaptable.

    • Bill 9.1

      A. The only suggestion I’ve seen for changing the albedo of the planet was the one made a few years ago to paint all rooftops white. But since all the rooftops are in the wrong location with regards warming at the poles and since the area of arctic ice lost this summer was an area the size of Europe…

      B. Massive carbon sequestration could be achieved throughplanting lots and lots of trees. Then we could plant lots more. (I don’t know, but at a rough guess I’d say a 10 ton tree holds about 1 ton of carbon (the other 9 tons being water) and cycles or breathes whatever amount.

      I don’t like the idea of seeding oceans with Fe because of side effects both known and (inevitably) unforseen.

      And I think CCS is a crock of shit (inefficient, requires even more extraction of fossil fuels than now and needs geological formations close to source [or so I’d think], other wise carbon savings are potentially lost on transportation or in building the required infrastucture)

      C. Yes, it’s possible to develop non-fossil fuel energy sources. But not in the time scale we have. So, develop them and in the interim hammer our demand down hard and fast. And, I have to say, that if that means fcking the economy, then fck the economy. We can always imagine and develop non-market economic alternatives. And I don’t think the majority of humanity would be losing anything were the market to be abandoned.

      • McFlock 9.1.1

        There are also a couple of suggestions along the lines of releasing reflective vapours over the arctic in the North Hemisphere summer. Massive volumes.

        That’s of course if we discount the current “chemtrail” theory 🙂 Trouble is that some of the suggested reflective vapours are acidic in their own right, so it’s addressing only one symptom. I expect they’ll end up doing it, though.

        I’m really not in favour of releasing more chemicals to try and tweak things in the other direction, but geo-engineering is our only option. Even if we turned everything off tomorrow, we still have the lag problem and the permafrost problem.

        CCS at the moment is useless. We need a tech game changer before we can address the root carbon problem. Tree planting isn’t going to cut it.

        • Bill 9.1.1.1

          If Kevin Anderson is even just kind of right, then yes, we are hitting 4 degrees C really soon and we have only the merest chance of ducking 2 degrees C if we tackle the problem head on and do it right now. So 40% reductions in fossil fuel emissions by the end of 2015 and a 100% reduction by 2030. And even then, he is making some very optimistic assumptions on rates of deforestation and the emission scenarios for China, India etc.

          But in the meantime, even if planting trees isn’t going to cut it, is there any other possible route that could take at least some of the current CO2 out of the atmosphere? I don’t know any. I mean, maybe there’s something that can be done to encourage plankton (besides Fe), but trees seems to be about it.

          And maybe it’s forlorn, but plant trees, stop the cumulative total of atmospheric carbon dead in its tracks, plan for 4 degrees C increase instead of the 2 degrees C increase governments are planning for, and, if you have a god, clasp your hands tight.

          Have I missed anything out?

      • lprent 9.1.2

        Massive carbon sequestration could be achieved throughplanting lots and lots of trees.

        Planting trees makes not a jot of difference. The amount of carbon released from long-term sequestration is enormous, far far above the ability of the biosphere to sequester it in any kind of plants. And the residency time of additional CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans is literally thousands of years before it gets sequestered into sediments. Trees can only sequester for a few centuries at best.

        There are only three possible courses to deal with what has already been released (ie heading up to 5-6 degree average temperature rise worldwide over the next century (or two if we are lucky).

        1. Adaption – which will happen eventually, but which I don’t hold out much hope for our current style of civilisation surviving. Our agricultural systems are just too fragile and susceptible to climate shifts. However adaption is what humans are good at.

        2. Geological sequestration. Which predictably appears to be failing despite all of the effort being put into it. And I don’t hold out much hope of it being feasible. Quite simply it is a hell of a lot easier in energy terms to burn stuff than it is to stuff it back down in the holes.

        3. Reducing the level of incoming energy. The albedo idea at ground won’t work because it conflicts directly with food production. Atmospheric albedo would be chaotic at best and unlikely to work the way that people would expect. What hasn’t been tried yet and would be kind of tricky to do on a long-term basis is doing the albedo trick in a solar or earth orbit. Without a orbital industry which we clearly aren’t likely to be able to get to that anytime soon.

        But in any of these cases, the sooner we stop releasing greenhouse gases, the easier each of these tasks gets.

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.2.1

          Lucky we have a thriving rail infrastructure and rail manufacturing capability to electrify, helping to take half a million trucks and cars off the roads over the next 10 years. Oh wait.

        • KJT 9.1.2.2

          Look up the “white roofs project”.

          • lprent 9.1.2.2.1

            Oh I know about it. But the numbers simply don’t add up. Not unless there is a rather large increase in the urban areas and consequent reduction in food producing areas…

            • KJT 9.1.2.2.1.1

              Every little bit helps.

              • lprent

                Problem is that itisn’t a particular good solution. The nice thing about white snow is that it is white. White roofs are really just dusty and not reflective. There is a good chance that they’d help increase energy scatter. They are probably less useful than putting in a roof garden.

                If you really want to reduce insolation, then you really can’t beat high level dust, or putting more junk in orbit.

                • Populuxe1

                  Terraforming seems iffy at best on Earth – there are too many unknowns and unpredictable synergies. The more practical solutions seem to me to create large scale tidal protection (a proven technology, as seen on the Thames and the IJsselmeer), securing technological infrastructure (especially non-polluting energy – and our hydroelectric and geothermal resources put us well ahead – and electrically powered transport/rail), and food resources. Relocation of coastal populations inland might also have to be considered.

                  • McFlock

                    The last is already happening. Causing a bit of friction, too. But the real issue is drinking water – a number of potential flashpoints including North Africa, the Levant, and of course the Pakistan/China/India border regions. At least 4 nuclear powers directly involved in that top of my head list.

                    The thing is that as fossil fuels become more expensive, more money will go into alternative energies, but so far there was a wee bit of a boom before the GFC but that’s hit the ropes. My impression (and yeah, that’s all it is) is that we need more investment in looking at a range of alternative energy sources, and that will maybe help with terraforming projects in turn. Basically, we’ve been terraforming for the last 200 years. We need gamechangers to hold off some major problems. But some are going to happen anyway – I definitely expect massive food shortages and maybe even a regional nuclear war.

                    Where Robert A and I differ is that I’m actually not too upset at the thought of kids/grandkids in that environment. As opposed to non-existence, anyway. We’ve had it massively good compared to the rest of history, and I don’t expect life to become more solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short than one or two other periods in human history. And we recovered and thrived.

        • weka 9.1.2.3

          “Massive carbon sequestration could be achieved throughplanting lots and lots of trees.

          Planting trees makes not a jot of difference. The amount of carbon released from long-term sequestration is enormous, far far above the ability of the biosphere to sequester it in any kind of plants. And the residency time of additional CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans is literally thousands of years before it gets sequestered into sediments. Trees can only sequester for a few centuries at best.”

          Doesn’t this depend on what you are trying to achieve, and what you do with the trees?

          I thought climax state forests were fairly stable in terms of carbon ie they cycle carbon neutrally (Otherwise carbon would have been continuously rising in the atmosphere for all the time the planet has had forests).

          I also think that if you look at the multiple functions of a forest, there are benefits beyond the simple carbon cycle of a tree. For instance, agroforestry produces less carbon emissions than mono crop farming because of less reliance on fossil fuel machinery and artificial fertilisers, and because of different soil management techniques. Localising agroforestry also reduces the considerable carbon emissions of food transport.

          It’s not my area to argue figures, but I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts on these:

          “Allowing for these factors, Nair and Montagninireport estimates of the world carbon storage potential of agroforestry ranging from 9 to 228 tons of carbon/hectare under different circumstances – tremendous variation. They report an estimate of current sequestration by agroforestry at 1 million tons/year. Their document estimates the amount of land that could be converted to agroforestry practices as roughly 585 million to 1.2 billion hectares (the U.S. including Alaska is 770 million hectares). Even at a fairly conservative 25 ton/hectare average, that would sequester 14-20 billion tons – over its lifetime as much as 10% of the total 200 billion tons many experts estimate needs to be removed from the atmosphere even if we stop emissions tomorrow.

          Sounds great – but that is a staggering amount of land. It works out to roughly 5-10% of the world’s land (excluding Antarctica), or a whopping 40-80% of currently used arable land.

          Permanent agriculture doesn’t just sequester carbon. It is also a fantastic way to restore degraded land to productivity. Much of the carbon we are pulling from the air becomes organic matter, the foundation of productive agricultural soils. The Global Assessment of Human-Induced Soil Degradation (concluded in 1990) found that vast amounts of the planetary surface have been degraded by human activity, through erosion of sloping land, desertification, salinization, and nutrient depletion.

          Perennial farming systems are particularly suited to stabilizing slopes and preventing erosion on hillside farms. Roughly 45% of the world’s farmland is classed as sloping at an 8% angle or higher – regeneration of this quantity of farmland with permanent agriculture would sequester 16.8 billion tons of carbon (at 25t/ha).

          About 135 million hectares of farmland have an unbelievable 30% slope or greater. I have seen miles of corn growing on mountainsides far steeper than this in Guatemala. These lands are severely eroding and completely unsuitable for annual crops without extensive terracing, living contour hedgerows, or (preferably) replacement with tree crops. If a targeted international project began just focusing on these most vulnerable agricultural areas, 9% of total world farmland, we could (at 25 t/ha, towards the low end of agroforestry’s potential) still sequester 3.3 billion tons of carbon – equal to a third of all human-caused carbon emissions released annually.”

          http://www.perennialsolutions.org/carbon-sequestering-agriculture-global-warming-solution-piece-remove-co2-from-atmosphere-organic-garden.html

          • lprent 9.1.2.3.1

            The problem is that they only looked at the tonnage in the atmospheric load. Problem is that most of the excess Carbon produced over the last century has been heading underwater at the poles. Most of that will start reappearing over the next two centuries as the currents turn over around the equator.

            It’d be nice if some of these schemes looked at the full carbon cycles rather than what fits their schemes.

            A better scheme would to be to create artificial climax biosystems which are much more efficient at storing carbon. They are called peat swamps and are a hell of a lot faster sucking carbon outof the cycle for longer periods of time than other lignin systems. As an added bonus they are far more useful as fuels and as biostarter systems.

          • Bill 9.1.2.3.2

            Just that last line – “3.3 billion tons of carbon – equal to a third of all human-caused carbon emissions released annually”

            Fraid not. We’re pumping between 35 and 40 billion tons into the atmosphere annually, not 10.

            • lprent 9.1.2.3.2.1

              The rest goes into carbon sinks. Most of which is temporary in the oceans. You have to calculate against the total additional load going into the whole carbon system – not just the atmosphere.

              BTW: your calcs below also assumed that there wasn’t any existing vegetation, which means that you’re over-estimating the sequestration.

              • Bill

                All I really did was roughly calculate the area that could be reforested, punted a fairly conservative total number of ‘new’ trees and divvied the CO2 up between them. So existing ground cover is taken to be the same…not non-exitant… just about a third of it has a pile of trees put through it. Is it not reasonable, perhaps even over generous to assume that existing ground cover would more or less equate to forest undergrowth?

                Thing is, the margins appear so large as to suggest that either I got my actual working out way wrong (a distinct possibility) or, in very simple terms at least, that a massive undertaking of tree planting would/could work.

                • lprent

                  The problem is that carbon “sequestered” in plants has this horrible habit of popping out into the atmosphere, usually in wildfires caused by climate shifts. If you look back over the geological history you’ll find that there are virtually no forest systems that last for more than a short period. Peat systems are more stable and have this other trait of actually sequestering carbon in quite large quantities over time.

                  Much of the worlds land surface is actually incapable of supporting long term forest during interglacials, which is why natural savannah and various forms of peat swamps are such a feature of the natural land surface.

                  • Bill

                    So…wet and acidic conditions underpin the formation of peat bogs. And we are likely to experience wetter conditions in some areas…but presently, (depending on the location) there’s nothing to ‘hold’ the water in the soil. So rain leads to run off of both soil and water – floods away or evaporates in a fairly short period of time because the ground is exposed to the full effect of the sun and wind.

                    But if trees…or even shrubs… were in situ, then the soil and water is more likely to be held. And if it becomes boggy and the pre-existing flora falls into it (raising the acidity by default?)…then we get peat.

                    So trees work to some extent if the land remains dryish and work to a better extent if the land becomes waterlogged and the trees and much of the other flora die and ‘fall in’.

                    So plant trees regardless.

                    • lprent

                      The main thing that underlies the development of peat bogs and swamps is shallow basins or valley land often accompanied with a slow rise or fall in water levels. Most commonly this is in fresh water, but you can also get salt-water marshes in estuaries and harbours

                  • Gosman

                    Interesting, I thought more savannah was a result of colder climates rather than warmer ones. From what I read it was one of the factors in early human development as the colder climate lead to forest cover disappearing and meant that early hominids had to adapt to less cover and meant they developed a more structured hunting pattern.

                    • lprent

                      Not exactly. During the depths of the glaciation at the poles you get larger deserts and wide near desert savannah areas in the latitudes on each side of the equator and even into the equatorial regions, which is what you’re referring to. This is caused by the reduction in the amount of water vapour being thrown into the atmosphere. Savannah’s and desert are not just in the interiors, but will extend to most seashores. The latter is why these periods were so stressful to our ancestors. Close to the glaciers there are wide areas of tundra and peat bogs. It means that the areas that are easily habitable by forest hunter gathers like all of the great apes apart from baboons are extremely limited.

                      During the prolonged interglacials (like now) there are frequently wide savannah areas that develop on the continental interiors outside of the equatorial regions. This has less to do with the amount of water vapour than with quite stable climate patterns developing of persistent highs in the interior with frontal systems tending to drop rain nearer to the coasts.

                      The period when you get extensive forests developing through most latitudes is during the immediate pre and post-glacials. Climate systems tend to get much more chaotic and rain gets much more widespread. However it doesn’t last.

              • Bill

                You’re losing me here. 40 billion tons, some of which is sequestered in the oceans. Okay… that’s what your saying, aye? But whatever, the piece weka linked said total emmissions were only of the order of 10 billion tons.

                • Colonial Viper

                  There seem to be two wildly differing estimates around…the IEA says in 2011 that fossil fuel emissions were over 31GT.

                  http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/news/2012/may/name,27216,en.html

                  This other piece says that fossil fuel emissions in 2007 were 8.4GT in 2007, according to US govt sources.

                  http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_glob.html

                  • Bill

                    Take your 31 Gt and throw in emissions from cement and it equates with the figures I have to hand. (And it’s a cumulative total btw) As for those US figures….pass.

                  • Bill

                    *cough* forget about the ‘cumulative’… that would be thousands of Gt. (About 3000 Gt by 2050 i think) So we are approaching 40 Gt p.a. …bearing in mind the caveats about measuremnet as per Lynn’s comment below about whether CO2 or just C is measured.

                • lprent

                  Depends like everything what you measure.

                  The actual quantity when you look at what is being burnt is ~30GT of Carbon Dioxide annually from all fossil fuels. That is a ~9GT of Carbon (the 2 Oxygen atoms add weight). The majority departs the atmosphere pretty fast into the oceans mostly in cold polar waters.

                  But it is still an active part of the carbon cycle. That winds up in cold ocean currents near the sea floor that will mostly reappear in warmer waters between 50 and 500 years later (depending on flows) where upon it re-enters the atmosphere. This is why fossil CO2 is such a pain. Once emitted it has a really really long residence time in the carbon cycle, and therefore in greenhouse warming.

                  But CO2 under normal heat conditions (ie anything we can survive in) is effectively chemically inert. The CO2 going into the oceans isn’t sequestered except for the small amount that gets sucked up into sediments, mostly from calcium carbonate diatom shells forming what will eventually be limestone deposits. Over time that is the the main scrubbing process for CO2. You also get some chemical deposition of carbonates but it is pretty minor*

                  So we’ve added something like 340GT of carbon (and over a 1000GT of unfixed CO2) into the system during our industrial period. Most of it is sitting in the ocean currents waiting to pop out again. At some point the oceans will stop accumulating quite so much CO2 because they get saturated (ie acidic) and warmer. So less of the CO2 being released from the ocean won’t be reabsorbed. No-one really knows when that point will happen as it is something that is easy to see in the geological record. In fact the level of absorption of CO2 into the oceans wasn’t even realised a few decades ago. It causes a breathing space, but ultimately makes matters worse.

                  Trees don’t help much because they too are part of the carbon cycle and are as temporary a store as ocean currents. Typically they give up their carbon with shifting climates – typically in fires.

                  * If the CO2 level ever rose high enough and the temperature rises far enough in the presence of water (as it has in the geological past), you can also get large quantities of CO2 sequestered by the chemical formation of carbonates. That seems to be the main mechanism that stops the earth becoming a snowball or a venus style planet – at least while we still have an active core producing volcanism that spits out water and carbon.

                  I see CV has the relevant figures… http://thestandard.org.nz/welcome-to-the-burdigalian/#comment-573755

        • Bill 9.1.2.4

          About this tree sequestration malarky. Granted that a plantation is a short term fix that gets reversed when the plantation is felled and milled. But I was assuming actual forest, not commercial pine plantations or whatever.

          So, if a single tree sequesters on average (say) 25% of its weight in carbon – a quick dumb arse search on teh net had higher figures than that, but never mind.

          So from ‘first hit’ google search sources – about half of the world’s forests are gone and the total present forest coverage is about 30% of the earth’s total land area (ie, 40 million square km down from 80 million square km)

          So if the 40 million square km was regenerated….at (say) 100 000 trees per square km – ie, one tree every 4m or so, then…that’s a lot of trees. 4 x 10 to the power 13 (I think).

          And a Gt is 1 x 10 to the power 9 (i think). And we are about to put 3000 Gt CO2 into the atmosphere between now and 2050. (or something in that region)

          And if each tree in a mature and natural forest captures one ton of carbon (we’re talking small trees to only weigh in at 4 tons) and that carbon largely cycles around within the natural ecosystem of the forest rather than getting released into the ‘open’ atmosphere wholesale – then a massive restoration of forests ‘works’ because each tree in our regenerated forest scenario only has to hold 75kg of carbon to contain that 3000Gt of CO2.

          So given the (apparent) leeway, it would seem that all the differences associated with tree types and latitudes and so on won’t make much of an impact on the overall scenario and there would be enough biomass to reduce atmospheric carbon by quite a lot, no?

          And I hate numbers. Can’t work with them. But I think I got this about right. Maybe.

          edit. Seems weka beat me to it and that took me at least 30 minutes to work those numbers out according to submit time stamps

          • Colonial Viper 9.1.2.4.1

            Granted that a plantation is a short term fix that gets reversed when the plantation is felled and milled

            Only if you incinerate that timber.

            If you build durable two or three level apartment blocks with it, that captured CO2 may remain sequestered for 75 years or more.

            • Bill 9.1.2.4.1.1

              meh. I seem to remember this debate from before at ‘ts’ and the amount of wood actually used for any long term structure or artifact is a really small percentage of the wood in the trees that are logged.

              • weka

                Right. But we’re talking about changing behaviour aren’t we? So one of the solutions to our predicament is to replace forest, stop destroying forest through burning and stupid end use like paper, shift to carbon neutral industry that uses timber in ways that preserve the carbon sequestration value (eg build with timber instead of steel and aluminium which require lots of carbon emissions in production and recycling). Then manage said forests with carbon in mind. Alongside all the other things like reducing transport emissions etc.

            • weka 9.1.2.4.1.2

              Post and beam buildings should last hundreds of years at least*, probably more, and the timber can be reused for other things when the building is decommissioned.

              *Depending on the timber used.

              Trees become carbon emitters once felled if they are burned or if they are left to rot. And timber that is going to rot can be buried so that the carbon becomes part of the soil cycle (or in a natural forest, rotting trees feed the new growth which sequesters carbon, so the carbon cycle should be fairly stable). There are lots of variables here, many of which are within human control.

    • TheContrarian 9.2

      @McFlock:

      “IF the new energy source turns up in time.”

      They are giving it a shot:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4629239.stm

      • McFlock 9.2.1

        Commercial fusion has been ten years away for the last 40 years.

        • TheContrarian 9.2.1.1

          Indeed, much like hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars. Remember that TV show ‘Beyond 2000’?
          Yeah…haven’t seen many of those great inventions yet.

          But this is the first time they have attempted to built a reactor as far as I am aware.

          • McFlock 9.2.1.1.1

            It’s still not in any decent timeframe at the moment.

            IT and big data are well on track, as well as some materials sciences and medicine, but energy-wise we’re fucked atm.

          • Rhinoviper 9.2.1.1.2

            Quite a few fusion reactors have been built and worked, actually. The problem is that so far, none have them have reached break-even yet ie., all have been “proof of principle” devices that use more energy than they produce. Even ITER is an experimental device and not a prototype for a commercial power station.

            Wiki gives an overview here:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power

            The bad news is that commercial fusion power before 2050 is generally considered unlikely.

            • YehBut 9.2.1.1.2.1

              For NZ we need to get off fossil fueled transport, and away from a methane spurting economy.

              Shift to fiber and cyber pronto!

              We should be demanding that govt departments, Councils, SOEs etc urgently start introducing these technologies. So far it appears that only half arsed attempts have been made with no real political push. For example look at the relative effort going into the RONS, or further increases in intensive dairying.

              Talk about wrong headed!

              Glow-worms of hope are the investment in the fiber roll-out and the timid increase in petrol tax (wrong reason but hey at least a taxation of fossil fuel).

            • Colonial Viper 9.2.1.1.2.2

              The bad news is that commercial fusion power before 2050 is generally considered unlikely.

              Basically its the same as unobtanium.

              Think, even if they did have a good fusion power reactor design by 2050 how much money and fossil fuel will still be available to build and oeprate hundreds of the things?

  10. One Tāne Huna 10

    I think the notion that we can do little as individuals is wrong.

    Eat less meat and dairy, drive less. Insulate your home. These are non-trivial ways to reduce personal carbon footprints.

    A complete ban on coal exploration and extraction is an achievable (albeit difficult) political goal. Lobby for it.

    PS: and read The Climate Scum for a laugh once in a while 🙂

    • Andre 10.1

      I think China holds an important role and we can effect the outcome of there /our pollution as individuals. We do not need for a happy and meaningful life, all the junk we buy from China. We can buy our own” green”stuff Do we need to fly to somewhere else to be happy All these things could keep our economic outlook sustainable Show the world how kiwi,s do it. Make them’ GREEN ‘ with envy ?

    • ad 10.2

      On climate change, the idea of “national policy” is of little use.

      Revolutionising transport would be great, and power generation, and water use, and reforestation. But power generation is about to leave state control, reforestation only works in a functioning global carbon commodity cycle now unlikely to ever happen, and water use is still years away from traded and priced agricultural commodification.

      The policy area a central government here still has leverage over is transport. But transport is so incredibly privatised in NZ that now only sustained fuel price changes really alter behaviour. Cities have thrown bucketloads of cash at PT over the last 10 years, and it’s only barely keeping up with demand.

      I agree with individual and NGO agency on climate change. I have pretty much no hope for a national climate change policy because there are so few levers to pull.

      • Andre 10.2.1

        That vote in the back pocket is the start as a country to make an ethical nation.

      • Colonial Viper 10.2.2

        I have pretty much no hope for a national climate change policy because there are so few levers to pull.

        Most of the necessary levers can be taken back over a 10 year period but we would become a pariah state in the world economy, and actively undermined by the financial powers who care nothing about AGW except maintaining their own privilege.

        • ad 10.2.2.1

          10 years is 4 terms with a very strong Labour-Greens alliance always in power, consistently aggregating state power back over those 4 terms. I have no faith that will happen. From anything in politics you have seen in this country in say the last 30 years, why would you have such faith?

        • Andre 10.2.2.2

          Are children are willing and motivated to change the system of mutual assured destruction .Just as we were . Time for us to pull up a soap box and let them speak …..

        • Colonial Viper 10.2.2.3

          ad, Andre…I also think it very unlikely politically, even though it doesn’t seem at all impossible to accomplish technically. Frustrating eh.

          • ad 10.2.2.3.1

            The original post is just as pessimistic. I guess however a point that IrishBill and others recently have been asking is what is the extent of the use of this site in politics. And one answer is simply help get Labour-Greens elected. But in the climate change context, another answer is forming possible policy.

            A note of frustration I guess about the original posting about how impossible everything is. Stick to what is politically possible. Then debate it. Especially how to get to that. Be progressive, but be real.

    • Lanthanide 10.3

      “I think the notion that we can do little as individuals is wrong.

      Eat less meat and dairy, drive less. Insulate your home. These are non-trivial ways to reduce personal carbon footprints.”

      All of which is missing the elephant in the room: don’t have children.

      • felixviper 10.3.1

        +1

        I come across a fair few hippies who seem quite pleased that the small armies of children they’re raising are so green, with no apparent appreciation of the irony.

        • Andre 10.3.1.1

          Hey.. decided not have kids years ago and live with no car .solar and wind powered home. grow most of my own food and have not eaten meat for 31 years . What have you done for your children s future re carbon?

      • One Tāne Huna 10.3.2

        “…don’t have children…”

        Yeah, because that’s really going to make sense to the people who historically have large families. The religious, the uneducated and the dispossessed are going to jump right on board just as soon as the secular educated and comparatively well-off set the example of only having one or two children. No, wait…

        Tackling poverty and inequality is the best way to tackle family size issues.

        Middle-class guilt-trips, not so much.

      • Bill 10.3.3

        To repeat. AGW is not a population problem. It’s an energy/resource use problem. End.

        • One Tāne Huna 10.3.3.1

          +1

        • weka 10.3.3.2

          What makes you think that Bill? Any given landbase is only capable of supporting a finite number of people.

          • One Tāne Huna 10.3.3.2.1

            …and that affects AGW how?

          • Bill 10.3.3.2.2

            Two separate issues.

            Imagine wiping out all the people in supposedly overpopulated and underdeveloped countries (are we talking a few billions + here?….India, Pakistan wherever in Africa, rural China, Vietnam or wherever else) and see what effect it has on emmissions. If it ain’t exactly none, it’s going to be negligible.

            And then wipe out the population of the USA…or/and Europe instead and or urban/ industrialised China. What effect you reckon that would have? More? Less? The same?

            Like I say. It’s resource use, not over population – which is not to deny arguments about overpopulation stressing resources and what not.

            • weka 10.3.3.2.2.1

              Sorry, that’s all a bit abstract for me. If you mean global population isn’t a factor in CC, I’m not going to agree. China and India wanting western lifestyles is a massive issue for CC. But I was actually talking about NZ, not the whole planet. If humans here want to mitigate CC, then we have to look at the population carrying capacity of the land. We have to stop doing things like importing food, or transporting food long distances within NZ. Which means growing food locally. Which takes us to how many people we can support.

              Or, to look at it another way. Can you see NZ making the necessary changes while increasing its population as per normal? I’d be interested in your analysis of the logistics of energy, food, transport, jobs etc. Do we need more people or less? If we just look at energy, let’s say we try and powerdown, and use existing power generation (so no increase). How many people can we sustain at what standard of living, while reducing carbon emissions sufficiently to make a difference? AFAIK no-one has done the work on this in NZ yet.

              • Bill

                Okay. I had a long convoluted comment just then. But basically.

                China and India wanting western lifestyles is a massive issue for CC

                No. No it’s not. The time it would take to lay in the infrastructure and manufacture the goods and give enough people good enough jobs to buy the goods and services to get to the point where the same proportion of China and India had ‘the good things’ to the extent we in the west have, would take so long as to be irrelevent…it’s many, many years away. CC is now. But sure, China (and this is assuming nations focus on some type of preparation) ought to be shifting away from the carbon dependent type of infrastucture they are currently laying in.

                And to be brutal. The carrying capacity of the land has got nothing to do with not spewing CO2 into the atmosphere. If we hold back from crashing off from carbon because of a fear that large, densely populated cities would turn into hell zones (which they mightif it’s not done in an ordered enough fashion)…then those places will most assuredly turn into hell zones with temperature rise… except we won’t be able to do a damned thing about it then because ‘everything’ is going to be falling apart and we’ll be in a position where we find it difficult to tell our arses from our elbows at a societal level.

                But in a NZ context, I’d hazzard a guess that with no prepartation, our overall population density taken in conjunction with the availability of non-bought food sources (the sea and bush) means that more people have a better chance of a better life here than in some other places I could think of. (The likes of New York and London spring to mind)

                And with preparation, I’d punt that zero fossil fuel use…meaning the localising of food production and a gradual but quick reconfiguration of cities alongside a radical transformation of lifestyles… is very do-able.

                Add a population influx and I’d say that beyond a certain point it would become more and more difficult and precarious. And I’ve no idea where that ‘tipping point’ in population would occur.

    • Anne 10.4

      PS: and read The Climate Scum for a laugh

      Oh I see…. melting ice in Antarctica is caused by the penguins. Who woulda thunk it!

  11. xtasy 11

    CO2 is just one prospective “climate changing” gas, generated largely due to burning massive amounts of fossil fuels.

    Just right now, the pollution in increasingly “motorised” Beijing, also “powered” by many coal fired power plants, is at record levels, indeed a very serious threat to human health. That has been on the news in various international media, strangely I see and hear none on NZ news about that.

    Maybe Groser has some good connections to the editors in MSM???

    Another even more hazardous gas that will contribute even much more severely to the expected “global warming” is methane, locked also in huge areas of frozen swamp and other lands in Siberia and parts of North America.

    Once the permafrost moves further north, once more soil will warm, more of methane will be released.

    That will speed up the warming and rise of sea level something real big then!

    NZ and Australia need to prepared for floods of refugees, not just from the Pacific Island states sinking into the sea, kind of, but also from Southeast and South-Asia, where tens (if not hundreds) of millions will lose land and homes doe to climate change.

    So when they will arrive, where will the environment here end up?

    • Bill 11.1

      Yeah, I’m aware I only refer to CO2 and should probably refer to CO2e when talking or writing about this stuff. But that aside, I’m a bit curious about the methane being released from tundra and the arctic in general. It strikes me it could have only been captured during the past 15 million years – ie, as temperatures dropped to pre-industrial levels.

      And since the carbon we have pumped into the atmosphere is from a much, much older source, does that mean that the 4 degree C cooling of the past 15 million years will be reversed and be put on top of the 4 degrees C we’ve just put out there?

      You see where I’m coming from? If the methane comes from carbon sources and was captured due to temperature drops…and if it equates to about 4 degrees C of cooling… then it’s going to be released with a 4 degree C increase in temperature.

      As for refugees hitting NZ….Nz is fairly remote and I doubt there will be routes set up like at present for people attempting to escape war zones etc – more likely to be one off, one way trips. But the galling irony for me is that the tiny percentage of people who are responsible for most of our emissions are going to be the one’s best placed to get here – via private boat/yacht, private plane etc

      • One Tāne Huna 11.1.1

        Prof David Archer on CH4:

        Arctic methane, and all that frozen soil carbon, could easily play a huge role, not so much in the near-term evolution of Earth’s climate, but in the long tail of the global warming climate event.

      • xtasy 11.1.2

        Bill:

        “And since the carbon we have pumped into the atmosphere is from a much, much older source, does that mean that the 4 degree C cooling of the past 15 million years will be reversed and be put on top of the 4 degrees C we’ve just put out there?”

        I must admit, that I need to read up on this, as I am only going by what has been reported on many climate scientists saying about methane stored in Siberia and so.

        My impression was that they would know what they are talking about, so by my impression, a release of that gas is going to increase substantially over coming decades.

        As for the better off being able to get here, that will surely not mean, that others will not make it here. This has been going on for a fair long time, where the rich and elite have looked for and bought their ways into certain “refuges” here and there (mostly running from the taxmen of their home countries).

        The planet has its limits, and there will be no more refuges soon, for the ones you refer to. We know that refugees can fairly easily reach Australia by boats (via Indonesia), so Australia will be hit first, but the flow on will come to here also. Indeed I can see massive population movements all over the globe, which have already started and accelerated due to increased poverty and overpopulation, political and social persecution of many in various countries.

      • lprent 11.1.3

        It will have an effect. But probably not a catastrophic one any time over the coming centuries.

        But the key thing to remember about methane is that it has a pretty short residence time in the atmosphere. ~70 years where as CO2 is > 2000 years. So once free in the atmosphere, while it is many times as effective as a greenhouse gas than CO2. It also doesn’t hang around for long.

        The vast majority of the sequestered methane is in the form of methyl clathades (?sp) which are usually quite deep. When they melt, usually because of current changes, the vast majority of the methane never gets to the atmosphere because it gets readily absorbed by the seawater column.

        The material on land is mostly in the forms of tundra permafrost peat which will as it warms above freezing get released into the atmosphere. However it is almost entirely in high northern latitudes and despite the ice melting, they’re going to remain cold for a long time because they have quite a lot of depth and the actual direct temperature effects that far north don’t really move much above freezing. Think of it as defrosting meat in the fridge… Furthermore there is likely to be considerable biological takeup as methane is a pretty good fertilizer in low temperature ecologies.

        So we’re likely to only have a slow release. Significant. But probably less than the current increase in agricultural releases over the last century.

        To give you an idea of the time scale. We’re still getting outgassing from deposits of tundra permafrost still warming after the last glaciation. That includes some that was covered by seawater after the last big warm up thousands of years ago.

        Provided we don’t do any really stupid geoforming, methane in permafrost and underwater deposits is not going to be a major issue for centuries. Most likely to be an issue only after the slow but inevitable effects of CO2 push the temperatures up far enough to cause widespread defrosting in the north as a result of heat convection from further south.

        Of course there are always those crazies who think that the clathades would make a great fuel source. That could cause some considerable problems if it became widespread.

        • xtasy 11.1.3.1

          Thanks lprent, you seem to be an expert not only in systems and programming.

          Respect for that informative summary.

          • lprent 11.1.3.1.1

            First degree was in earth sciences. I never used it a lot apart from working for Ceramco in the early 80’s. But it sticks…

        • One Tāne Huna 11.1.3.2

          “70 years”

          I keep hearing different figures for the length of time CH4 persists. The link above has David Archer stating “the lifetime of methane in the atmosphere is short, about 10 years”, but I’ve also heard twenty years quoted.

          Lprent can you shed any light on this?

          • lprent 11.1.3.2.1

            Sorry my bad, Methane has about ~70x the greenhouse effect of CO2 in the atmosphere, but has a residence time of about ~20 years.

            The residence time has several different measures, but the one that is most commonly used (and is used in the IPCC reports) is the average period of time that a molecule will transfer to and from the atmosphere – ie while it hasn’t been sequestered into a sink or been transmuted.

            CH4 eventually usually winds up being oxidised to CO2 and water..

            It was a bit muggy yesterday and my memory wasn’t running (made coding a bit problematic as well)

            Ummm This table probably gives a good idea about why there is a range of residence times. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas#Global_warming_potential

            Global warming potential (GWP) for given time horizon
            Methane CH4
            12 years average atmospheric residence
            20-yr 72xCO2 effect
            100-yr 25xCO2 effect
            500-yr 7.6xCO2 effect

            So at 20 years a given excess quantity by weight of methane is about 72x as much as C02, However it may have been sucked in and out of plants and animals a few times. At 100 years much of it has sequestered but it is still 25x. etc..

  12. Rhinoviper 12

    A resource to counter denialists who are already – deliberately – misreading the latest IPCC report and claiming that warming has stopped:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23060-has-global-warming-ground-to-a-halt.html

    Precis: warming appears to have slowed because medium-term oceanic cycles such as El Nino/ENSO etc have turned to the oceans absorbing heat, but within the decade they are likely to turn to a heat-releasing phase, meaning that the rate of warming will accelerate.

  13. QoT 13

    85 comments into a serious thread on climate change and no Jenny … that’s interesting.

  14. ” (about 4 feet tall and with half our brain capacity)”

    Is it Simon Bridges?

  15. SHG (not Colonial Viper) 15

    Not sure I’d call 800,000 years ago “well within the span of human existence”.

  16. AmaKiwi 16

    I am putting my faith and trust in the Labour Party Spokesperson on the Environment, Grant Robertson.

    At a speech last year in Titirangi, Grant warned us not to be “environmental extremists.”

    I am sure Grant knows what’s best.

    • Rhinoviper 16.1

      I know that you’re being ironic.

      Alas, that cynical cretin is my electorate MP.

      He won’t get my vote.

      He didn’t last time either, because of his “pragmatism.”

  17. Great article Bill, thanks.

    We are something like 30 years behind the effects of 400ppm, to avoid annihilation not only should we stop emitting CO2 tonight, but we have to suck 30+ years worth out of the environment, very soon, then we have to do something to reverse the ice melt.

    Clearly 100% imposable.

    Hence the reason I have been harping on about not having children for the past 13 years.

    Fortunately all our councils have 10 year plans, and have everything under control, oh and we have the Green Party Kiwi Saver scheme ………… phew.

    • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 17.1

      Suggesting that one should not have children as an environmental act is misanthropic spite.

      • Bill 17.1.1

        Any more or less spiteful than knackering the world?

      • weka 17.1.2

        SHG, it’s not an ‘environmental act’, it’s an ethical one of immense proportions.

        • One Tāne Huna 17.1.2.1

          “Apparently the Eagle Weka had heard of survival of the species and wanted nothing to do with it.”

          To bastardise Douglas Adams

          • weka 17.1.2.1.1

            Can’t figure out if you are being intentionally obtuse. It’s possible for humans to decrease their population via family planning choices without the species going instinct. Obviously.

            • One Tāne Huna 17.1.2.1.1.1

              *extinct.

              Did you watch the Rosling presentation (linked above – “the best way to tackle family size issues”)?

              It might give you a clue as to what will be effective in tackling population issues, and what will be a tokenist middle-class ineffectual gesture.

              PS: Population nimbys would be a lot more persuasive if a single one of their predictions had come true, ever.

              • Colonial Weka

                I have no idea what you are talking about. No, I haven’t watched the link, don’t have enough broadband. Maybe you could just explain what you mean?

      • Robert Atack 17.1.3

        SHG
        It is not spite that drives my push to discourage having children, it is logic.
        Back in 1999 I started reading this webpage http://www.dieoff.org
        I didn’t have a clue before then how fucked the future was looking. I started thinking that by the 2040s it was going to be ‘difficult’ to live, and that if I had a child then, by the time it was my age, it wouldn’t be having a hot shower every night etc, and @ 42 I still felt young and healthy, where as my child would be living a life of hell.
        Partly out of luck, and maybe I was firing blanks?? I didn’t have any children, but I still had a vasectomy just to make sure.
        I ‘loved’ my old dog from the first day I saw her as a puppy, I was hoping parents thought the same about their children, so when I point out how difficult things are going to be for people in the future, you would think they would look into the details before having another child, but alas no. Your attitude is still the popular meme, so we will keep firing children at the peak oil bottle neck, in the hope that some of them will squeeze through, but then they are going to find themselves smack up against the cork of Climate Change
        Good luck to you and yours.

        • Robert Atack 17.1.3.1

          Sometimes stuff turns up in my in box at the right time.

          Reposted from TRUTHDIG

          Clive Hamilton in his “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change”describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.” This obliteration of “false hopes,” he says, requires an intellectual knowledge and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means that those we love, including our children, are almost certainly doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire. To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and continue to resist the forces that are destroying us.

          Sorry links
          Chris Hedges’ Columns
          The Myth of Human Progress
          http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_myth_of_human_progress_20130113/

        • marty mars 17.1.3.2

          Robert – good on you for your choices.

          For me the argument just doesn’t stack up – for instance just because children might not have what we/you have doesn’t mean they are due for a shit death. And even if they are, does that mean they can’t have life? All death is shit.

          Some may call that selfish, although I can’t get their logic – it seems to me having a child is most unselfish.

          Just so there is no mistake I do believe we are in for very difficult times as peak oil and the effects of climate change rip in even more – not to mention the suicidal capitalistic charge into more and more exploitation of everything. I see western society we all love to hate, as we suckle continuously, will give up the ghost. The horror, the horror!!!

          I’m hoping to have another child, a sibling for my son. And if we all die well it’s going to make fuck all difference isn’t it. That is hope and realism.

  18. Andre 18

    Seems like the majority who post here think its to hard and moral obligations are just puff . Control of the political dogma, much more fun……..Bugger the helpless which will be the first to suffer our selfishness. ….Marx out of 10 3 for effort…

  19. Afewknowthetruth 19

    The CO2 content of the air will break through 400ppm in April or May of this year as the fossil fuels used to keep northern nations warm in the winter are not photosynthesised (due to low temperatures and deciduous trees not having leaves at this time of the year).

    Since Keeling began measuring in 1957 the annual increase in CO2 has approximately doubled. We can expect to see a further increases in the annual increase.

    Far from reducing emissions, most nations are increasing emissions as they exploit ever lower quality fossil fuel sources. For instance, the conversion of bitumen in ‘tar sands’ in Alberta into a usable liquid is the most greenhouse gas intensive activity in Canada and accounts for 70% of Canada’s emissions. The plan is to increase extraction of tar sand oil, despite the appalling EROIE, because there is nothing else (other than ultra-deep-sea and Arctic drilling). We should also note that fracking results in a high expenditure of energy to get back energy and higher emissions than conventional gas recovery, and results in the release of methane (which simply escapes into the atmosphere). As most of us know, methane is around 20 times as active as CO2 as a greenhouse gas (though its residence time in the atmosphere is relatively low). Additionally, with oil extraction ‘falling off a cliff’ in numerous locations, those desperate to keep the industrial system going plan to expand the use of coal.

    So, we can expect the CO2 content of the air to rise at an ever faster rate until the global industrial economy implodes. And since we have already triggered numerous positive feedbacks, even the inevitable implosion of the industrial economy probably won’t help.

    Interestingly, there in no evidence that the so-called safe level of a rise in average temperature of 2oC is actually safe at all; it was simply a number pulled out of a hat a number of years ago and for some reason has hung around. In practice we can already see that a rise in average temperature of just 0.7oC is not safe -unless you regard Hurricane Sandy, the 10 month drought in the US and what’s happening in Australia as safe.

    The reality is, a safe level of CO2 is below 320ppm, which was broken though decades ago.

    The other rarely discussed matter is that once Peak Oil really starts to bite people on the breadline will burn whatever they can find to cook and to keep warm: old tyres, plastic, coal etc. and will chop down every tree in sight.

    The time for action was in the 1970s. Even some action a decade ago would have helped. Yet poiticians do nothing month after month, year after year, decade after decade (other than promote the interests of corporations and money-lenders) Indeed, the current crop of politicians in most of the world (especially the western world) are worse than the Nazis who ran the death camps in Poland; whatever the Nazis did to Jews and gypsies etc. at least they loved their own children and did everything they could to protect them. The current mob of politicians don’t even love their own children enough to lift a finger to provide them with a future.

    • xtasy 19.1

      Well, we all know the value and integrity of most politicians, but honestly, in NZ and a fair number of other countries, there are also some not so smart, not very conscientious and not pre-planning people who tend to vote them in.

      Too many keep loving their cars and wasteful lifestyles above anything else, that will instead be needed to do, to prepare for the gigantic challenges ahead.

      We know how much flak the Greens still get, when they just raise some of this stuff. They are sadly still frowned upon by too many. And they are even the more “moderate” environmentalists now.

  20. Since we are agreed about CC if this means Climate Catastrophe here’s some ideas on how to fight another CC which means Climate and Capitalism.
    http://climateandcapitalism.com/

  21. Tom 22

    Re. the headline pic .. is that how the young ones express themselves these days ?

    They must have picked it up from somewhere ..

    • The Voice of Reason 22.1

      The lad’s name is Mikey Wilson and he’s gone on to become something of a cult figure in Rotterdam. I think the finger was raised when an Ajax supporter asked him how the last two decades have gone for Feyenoord, ho ho.

  22. Lloyd 23

    Plantations don’t need to be deserts. The German Black Forest for example is almost all planted, but the clever Germans plant rows of different species of trees, so that the plantation doesn’t look too different from a natural forest (except that each neat row is all of one species and that all the trees have an identity tag attached – very German!) such a plantation will need each species to be cut and replanted at different times, so it never has a completely razed look like we get in NZ pine forestry. The Black Forest fauna is probably very similar to a natural German Forest. (anyone got data on that?) NZ forestry companies could make much more ecologically friendly forests if they similarly mixed the species.

    Remember that when you sequester the carbon from a plantation forest grown tree you replace the tree and further sequestration keeps on occurring on the land used, whilst your timber house doing the sequestration keeps the carbon as long as it remains standing.

    Another possible use for plantation forestry is to provide the carbon needed for metal production. Charcoal made from wood will produce steel; it’s what we used before we started using that nasty coal stuff. Of course burning the wood returns the carbon to the atmosphere, but remember in plantation forestry you replant the tree and recapture the carbon dioxide that has been recently produced. Closing all coal mining in NZ won’t necessarily mean we have to close our steel mill down, and will probably produce more jobs in forestry than we have in coal mining.

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    7 days ago

  • Huge interest in Government’s infrastructure plans
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  • Health Minister thanks outgoing Health New Zealand Chair
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  • Navigating an unstable global environment
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  • Pseudoephedrine back on shelves for Winter
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  • NZ and the US: an ever closer partnership
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  • Joint US and NZ declaration
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  • Government redress for Te Korowai o Wainuiārua
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  • Focus on outstanding minerals permit applications
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    ...
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