Category: "Global Warming"
We must turn upside down our approach to fighting Global Warming
because time is of the essence.
Instead of regulating GHG to a level that may be acceptable to the public, we must reduce GHG to the maximum that could be technically and economically implementable,
Preface: GW is unlike any other technical issue because we have no previous human experience of this magnitude and it is natural to minimize its significance.
Our culture is based on hope, progress, improvements, and we reject what does not fit our image of the future. Not only that, as we see the sun rising and one beautiful day after another it is natural to inwardly reject that GW is posing a serious danger to the stability of our climate and even, possibly, to human survival. Even most serious scientists, technologists, and decision makers who understand the danger of GW have difficulties accepting GW internally.
- Most proposed cuts in GHG are based on IPCC AR4. However, we can not rely on the AR4 to set limits to GHG emissions since it was politically constrained, ignored potential catastrophic events, and some of its negative predictions were already exceeded. We now have more relevant data and more insight.
- The just released US federal report: “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” describes considerable current impact on US weather and related economics. It also predicts more significant impacts with time, depending on global GHG reduction. This report states the obvious, that the earlier and the larger the reduction of GHG emissions the lower will be the magnitude and cost of mitigations – less human suffering.
- We do not know at what level we must stabilize GHG to prevent the more severe harm to the world population because the complexity of global climate is beyond our actual knowledge. Modeling, at best, is approximation. If we err, we must err on the safe side.
- The natural self interest of most people distorts their ability to cooperate and follow the need of the larger society. Therefore, there is considerable uncertainty how the laws enacted will effect the actual GHG emissions in the US. And we are one the most law-abiding nations.
- The self interest of nations and desire for power of the influentials would severely distort the compliance with global GHG regulations. Think of the oil exporting nations, as a minimum.
- There is some low, but not insignificant, probability that increased levels of GHG could trigger catastrophic, massive, releases of GHG that could cause significant increase in global temperatures. That possible temperature increase, beyond 10 or even 20 degrees C, could cause severe, unmitigated damage to the global climate that could render our Earth essentially uninhabitable.
- Because this is the only home humanity has, we can not take the risk of destroying our climate. Risk is the probability times the magnitude of the event. Even with low probabilities, the potential immense magnitude of the damage to our globe, makes the risk massive and unacceptable. We must dedicate a high percentage of our global resources to reduce GHG as fast as possible and the largest reduction possible.
- Humanity has never encountered a danger to its existence of this level before. We can not truly grasp the seriousness of GW. Even with all the high levels of scientific and technical powers we have, we are unprepared. We do not know what we do not know or understand.
- We still operate by “we vs. them” laws. This simply can not work. Global cooperation beyond any previous level is mandatory. We depend on one another, especially the US and China.
- We, the US, will have to “give” more than other nations. We took the “most” to date. US is 4.5% of global population, occupying 1.9% of Earth surfaces, and emitted to date 30% of all GHG.
- Internationally we would not be able to cover up superficial regulations and inaction by bluff and public relation superficiality, so common in our culture. Foreign governments are not likely to buy into that kind of reasoning that much of our own public does. We have to be more honest and forward in our international dealing re. GW or we will not get the crucial international cooperation required.
- The complexity of global climate, the significant gaps in our knowledge, the uncertainty of GHG laws, their compliance, global cooperation required, and potential high risk to our survival, put us in a dangerous territory. We do not know what the results of all GHG curtailment laws and effort would achieve. Therefore, we can not use the usual American approach: “don’t worry, everything will turn up right in the end.” We must err towards minimizing global human suffering and maximizing the chance for human survival.
- The initial GHG reductions that we should take now must be decisive, based on proven technologies and real knowledge, not experimental or unproven; that may or may not work. We can not take the risks since the CO2 that was not cut will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. After we accomplish significant GHG reductions, then we can bring proven new approaches on line too.
WE MUST CURTAIL GHG TO THE MAXIMUM LEVEL WE CAN POSSIBLY MANAGE ASAP.
Discussion: ITEM ONE ONLY IN THIS DRAFT
- Most proposed cuts in GHG are based on IPCC AR4. However, we can not rely on the AR4 to set limits to GHG emissions since it was politically constrained, ignored potential catastrophic events, and some of its negative predictions were already exceeded. We now have more relevant data and more insight.
- The starting point for most regulatory activities against global warming are based on the 2007, IPCC-AR4 findings and recommendations. We owe immense thanks and respect to IPCC and the many excellent scientists that worked with great dedication to discover the data and develop this information. They did a good job alerting us to the danger of GW. Just reading carefully the details of AR4-SPM – should wake us up to realize the severity of coming impacts of GW. However, now the situation seems even graver than depicted in AR4.
Now, mid 2009, two and half years later we need to rethink our reliance on AR4 because the recommendations were: soften down by politics, did not include some relevant data, disagreed by scientists inside IPCC, ignored potential catastrophic events, and some climatic projections have been already exceeded. And most important - we have more information and insight now.
Some limitations of AR4:
- The latest data for AR4 was 2006, some much earlier.
- China data was before 2001, before the latest explosion of growth and its vast energy use.
- AR4 modeling did not include some known negative climatic events. For example: “Note: CO2 emissions in most models do not include emissions from decay of above ground biomass that remains after logging and deforestation, and from peat fires and drained peat soils.” AR4 SMP p21
Above decays can be significant contributors to GHG. Deforestation emits 20% of GHG and is right behind the emissions of China and US.
- AR4 did not cover potential catastrophic climatic events of mass release of stored GHG. They should not be ignored.
- AR4 was a politically controlled document and was soften by several governments, including the previous US administration, China and Saudi. Several IPCC scientists fought hard against the constrained climatic predictions. Compromises forced.
- Some of the AR4 negative predictions have already been greatly exceeded*. That means that in a very brief time it is already obvious that AR4 underestimated some noticeable negative impacts of GHG. And if these short term predictions are already in error so quickly, some longer term impacts may be underestimated even more severely. Longer term predictions, by their nature, have wider range of possibilities.
- AR4 used scientific information that was well researched, peer reviewed and dismissed unproven, although logical issues such as catastrophic events. It was: “too little, and too late.”
It is the nature of scientists to seek verifiable data, scrutinize it to understand, seek independent confirmation, and submit to peer review. This is admirable but not possible and even dangerous when dealing with GW. We do not have the ability or the time to experiment. We can not draw on previous experience.
Science failed humanity intolerably in this area. The desire for peer respect, and sometimes fear of being considered “an Advocate” slowed down considerably alerting decision makers to the magnitude and urgency of GW. This is even continuing now. Also, no scientist wants to be considered “an alarmist” either.
- - - -
*Re. 6 above. Here is a clear example of AR4 mistaken prediction: Rapid contraction of North Pole (NP) ice. The NP minimal ice coverage shrunk from 3.01 Million square miles in 1980, to 1.81 M sq. miles, in 2008, a 42% drop, decades ahead of AR4 projection.
To visualize the significance of this let’s look at the dimensions involved. The minimal ice coverage of the NP in 1980 was 3.01 million square miles, nearly identical to the area of the contiguous US - 3.1 million square miles. The minimal NP ice coverage shrunk to 1.81 million square miles by 2008. Picture it, the ice coverage that disappeared is almost half the size of the United States!
That means that during some of the summer, a reflective surface almost half the size of the US is now blue sea that absorbs sunlight, while previously it reflected most sunlight energy back into space.
This ice-free zone is now in a natural positive feedback mode, self-amplifying the ice shrinkage. More sun energy absorption by the blue ocean increases the region temperatures and melt more ice, and the melting continues even without any increase in GHG.
To what stable level of GHG should we aim?
Most statements about GHG levels say something similar to what Dr. Holdren said at the MIT Energy conference on 4/13/09:
“If we stabilize GHG at 500 ppm there is a 50% chance that we may stay below 3 degrees rise, and unlikely to avoid unknown critical events.
At 450, a 50% chance of staying below 2 C degrees. A much more prudent approach but not guarantee.
(My notes of the conference video).
I am not questioning Dr. Holdren remarks and I am confident he looked at the problem from many angles. But I am not sure we actually grasp what he is saying and how difficult it is to achieve these limits.
The current GHG reduction goals debated in Congress, H.R. 2454, are not likely to achieve the desired temperature target. It may be the best currently possible politically, but very likely grossly insufficient. We do not have a choice now and should support it, but it is not likely to do the job intended as explained below:
It seems to me that many professionals are basing their GHG reduction recommendations (such as 80% reduction below 2005 level by 2050) on two critical charts in AR4 SPM, Figure SPM.11.: “CO2 emissions and equilibrium temperature incarcerates..”
These charts project possible relationships between stabilized levels of GHG and potential increase in average global temperatures.
My main concern is that, if I understand it correctly, we may be erroneously relying on these charts to set the levels of GHG emissions.
The charts indicate, and the general view is, that globally we must stay within range I:
445-490 ppm CO2-equivalent (GHG) to restrain the temperature rise to an “acceptable” level of 1.5 to 2.5 C. That level, it said, may limit the damage to the global environment BELOW the level that could cause more severe damages, even possible catastrophic, uncontrolled, mass release of nature-stored GHG. (Dr. Holdren, above, wisely recommends below this level)
However, the left chart of SPM.11. “World CO2,” is more likely to represent hopeful expectations but does not reflect current reality. Look at our aim, the lowest corresponding emission level :
the Green strata –I [445 - 490 ppm]; it shows a flat emission level from 2000 to 2020. This is not factual because:
- A. Today, mid 2009, we still have not cut GHG emissions, they slowed their INCREASE due to the bad economy, but they are not leveled. GHG is increasing.
- B. Under the best of circumstances GHG could not be cut noticeably for another decade since it takes considerable time to change this huge infrastructure. Also, global dependence on low cost fossil fuel is so fundamental, the global energy infrastructure is so massive, and global consumption habits are hard to change.
These two points above, A & B, indicate that we are already 20 years behind in our attempt to achieve the first and “best” target of 445-490 ppm.
Conclusions of item 1:
It seems to me that we should not follow the IPCC guidelines for GHG levels because reliance on AR4 misleads us to some tranquility and assumption that we can start with limited, easier to accept GHG restrictions, and we have time to ramp them up later. This reliance is not justified. GHG must be cut at a faster rate.
Part 1 of draft 6/26/09 Matania Ginosar
Dr. Of Environmetal Science, and Engineering, & Electrical Engineer
In 1980 I was the manager of the solar and wind energy programs at the California Energy Commission, State of California. During my lectures about these alternative energies, I emphasized that we needed these technologies to reduce the likelihood of Climate Change.
Some scientists were aware then of the danger of Climate Change, but most were not.
For the last few years, the total global scientific community that works with this subject agrees that Climate Change is here, and is reducing the ability of our Earth to sustain life.
Climate Change is not open to personal interpretation, or personal belief. The science and evidence are clear and unquestionable: humanity is facing extreme and rapid climate degradation that can make this globe uninhabitable, unless we reduce drastically the CO2 gases generated by burning fossil fuels that created this menacing danger.
Just one example, most of the city of Sacramento is at sea level. The oceans are rising due to the melting of glaciers around the world, because of Climate Change. With time, the rising ocean water could reach Sacramento and flood it. Hundreds of millions of people around the world live in cities that are at sea level, and therefore could be flooded too.
Climate Change is the most crucial issue of our time, Trump and his associates have no capacity to grasp this unique event in human history and are not likely to fight climate change.
We have no more time to argue about the existence of Climate Change- it is here, and we must reduce the use of fossil fuels drastically as soon as possible.
Trump and the people around him are incapable of grasping the time criticality of this issue. He must be defeated, no matter what other views you may have where Trump appears to agree with you.
Some believe Trump would be better for Israel. I love Israel to my core, but if we allow Climate Change to progress, tiny Israel would suffer so drastically, that it could turn to a desert. Israel could become uninhabitable, as the rest of the Middle East would likely to be.
Climate and topography have major impacts on people and their culture. Compare the drastic differences in the topography and climate between the vast aridity of the Middle East (ME), and the richness and variety of nature of Europe. Tall snow covered mountains supply water to wide rivers across Europe, creating natural borders, lush forests and rich soils. These differences point up why the ME has been in poverty and a source of instability for thousands of years.
It seems to me that the sequence of factors causing this instability is: 1) the combination of harsh desert conditions, explosive population growth, and diminishing water supplies- leading to: 2) continuous struggle for limited resources, leading to violence. 3) Requiring strict rules of conduct, and thus the imposition of a very controlling culture and religion: Islam.
The main reason that Islam is so demanding is to control the population. It does so by keeping the people uneducated and obedient to a central ruler: God, or a king or a dictator. The controlling nature of Islam drives its adherents to their knees, literally and figuratively. Islam does not allow their culture to progress: it permits only a strict pious education. It does not allow freedom to question, to think, or to act independently. No deviations are accepted: break the rules and you could be hanged or stoned to death. And repeated polls show that the majority of ME Muslims support these strict Sharia Laws.
Suppression of natural human needs, from sex to freedom of thought, lead to violence. Violence is an ingrained part of the culture, and is seen by many Arabs as a sign of strength, an expedient way to gain objectives. It is not different if it is between the various sects of Muslim groups, or if it is the relationship of the Palestinians to Jews. Arab terrorism against Jews started over a century ago, and since the world at large did nothing to quench it in its infancy, it spread globally. Terrorism is a very effective tool: with little resources, you can upset entire nations. The USA is spending over a hundred billions yearly, attempting to protect ourselves from Muslim extremists.
Climate Change's aggravates impacts:
Syria is a good example of instability made worse by climate change. The northern third of Syria has had continuous drought for over a decade, which has been expanding due to temperature increase driven by climate change. With more people to feed, due to the high birth rate, and less water and soil productivity, most youth have moved to the already crowded cities. With no housing, no jobs and no future, anger has driven some of the youth to rebellious groups, from IS, to anti- Assad militia. They are now "somebody!" because the culture rewards violence and martyrdom.
Climate change will continue to increase the aridity of the region and drive more people from their centuries-old farms to cities. There are 7 million Syrian refugees displaced inside Syria, and 5 million in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Europe. This extremely unstable situation could cause civil wars in Lebanon, Jordan or Iraq, expanding further the refugee problem.
These were released after I drafted this paper: AP- A recent 14-year dry spell in the Middle East was the worst drought in the past 900 years, according to a new NASA study released this week.
And this: Last year, researchers at Columbia University and the University of California Santa Barbara found that drought triggered a collapse in agriculture in Syria and the migration of 1.5 million farmers to the cities, straining resources.
The US Department of Defense has projected that climate change will generate hundreds of million refugees globally. As an environmental scientist, I know that we have been doing almost nothing significant to curtail climate change! So the refugee problem of the ME is just in its infancy.
The rich oil resources of the ME have been valuable only in the last 75 years, but the poverty and harsh conditions have been there for millennia. Also, oil income has benefitted mostly the authorities and has not been shared with the population.
Climate Change will continue aggravating the conditions there. Here is what the "Father of C.C." just wrote:
"The tropics and the Middle East in summer are in danger of becoming practically uninhabitable by the end of the century if business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions continue, because effective temperature could approach the level at which the human body is unable to cool itself under even well-ventilated outdoor conditions. Lesser warming still makes life more difficult and reduces productivity in these regions, because temperatures are approaching the limit of human tolerance and both agricultural and construction work are mainly outdoor activities.".... Dr. James Hansen, Global expert on Climate Change 3/2016
In Conclusion: The ME is inherently in a very bad shape and the future is not promising. Can we curtail terrorism emerging from there? Just a little. Not to the level we hope for. Even if a very tiny fraction of the Muslim population is supporting terror, it is still an immense level of support that will be nearly impossible to suppress from the outside. The change must come from within, and it would take a very long time. For the near term the Muslim ME will need benevolent dictators, such as el- Sisi of Egypt, or King Abdulla II of Jordan. Both want to find peace in the region, and el-Sisi is fighting aggressively the terrorism of Hamas and ISIS in the Sinai. We must give both maximum help. However, benevolent dictatorship is rare. It is very hard for outstanding Muslim leaders like el-Sisi, or Anwar Sadat, to emerge, or survive. We must recognize them early and support them quietly. It is difficult to see any other promising way...
International military intervention must be used early to stop this powder cake of religious fanaticism from murdering innocent people. And from spreading terror and refugees globally.
Dear Dr. Borenstein,
Again, you are one of the few who grasp the real Climate Change issue well. Concentrating on the essential aspects.
It is nice that California is aiming to reduce substantially its GHG, yes, we set an example, but as you said, the total we have is but one percent of global emissions.
If we drop it to zero in CA it would not matter at all.
As you said, what we must do to even minimally slow down the dangerous impact of CC is to develop advanced technologies to help China, India and emerging nations to cut their GHG emission as fast and as drastically as humanly possible.
My concern is that even if we did have those amazing new solutions soon, it takes decades to spread them in wide commercial quantities to make significant impacts. Global CO2 e is higher than 450 ppm already, and since we miscalculated downwards both the quantity of methane leaks and its environmental damages, we are probably way above 450 ppm of CO2 e already.
I wonder even if we find simpler, more reliable and lower cost nuclear power we can save our Earth in time.
Dr. Richard Muller pointed out years ago that we must concentrate on the rapidly escalating emissions of major emitters (China, India)and those in the process of becoming major emitters, and help them to cut down their GHG ASAP. Yet, we still are competing with them in these areas instead of fully cooperating with them, giving them all we have, to save our common home.
What is not understood even by many environmental scientists (possibly because it is so hard to accept it emotionally) is that we have essentially run out of time to influence the potential approach of a catastrophic collapse of our delicately balanced Earth.
See also Dr. Martin Weitzman work in this area. According to his current book, Climate Shock, at 550 ppm CO2 eq, the chances of eventual warming beyond the unsustainable 6 degree C is 3%. And at 600 ppm 5%, at 700, it is 11%.
Only drastic measures have some slight possibility to save us from a collapse of human civilization. But key forces in the global economy would not accept these changes and will fight them to their last dollar.
Despite all the promising words in the last few decades, we are still emitting the same or more damaging gases. It is hard for me to see the possibility that fundamental forces advancing CC, such as population explosion, sex drive, desire for material things, greed, and self deception would drop significantly and fast enough to help humanity reverse its march to extinction.
See AAAS statement below.
Dr. of Environmental Science & Engineering
BS, MS Electrical Engineering
Prev. manager of the solar office and wind energy program at the CA Energy Comm.
Report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science Society, 2014
"Most projections of climate change presume that future changes -greenhouse gas emissions, temperature increase and effects such as sea level rise - will happen incrementally. A given amount of emission will lead to a given amount of smooth incremental sea level rise. However, the geological record for the climate reflects instances where a relatively small change in one element of climate led to abrupt changes in the system as a whole. In other words, pushing global temperatures past a certain thresholds could trigger abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes that have massive disruptive and large-scale impacts. At that point, even if we do not add any additional CO2 to the atmosphere, potentially unstoppable processes are set in motion. We can think of this as sudden climate brake and steering failure where the problem and its consequences are no longer something we can control."
I sent this letter recently to a top California Senator
Time for California to concentrate on GW mitigation.
Numerous scientific studies indicate that we are already suffering in California and globally from global warming (climate change) impacts that will continue and accelerate. Some of these impacts are erratic rains, minimal snow storage, increasing desertification, higher temperatures leading to higher demands for shrinking water supplies, loss of productive lands and lower food production. Also sea level rise that will displace millions from low ground regions.
The Earth already passed 400 ppm of CO2 and globally we continue to emit it at the same immense levels of over 30 billion tons a year! Even if we stopped all global CO2 emissions today, in 100 years it will still be at 70% of current levels, and in a thousand year at 40% of current level. We are on an irreversible path, the glaciers and North Sea polar ice have shrank drastically and can not serve as efficient reflectors of sun energy as it used to be to stabilize the global temperatures.
Greenland massive ice coverage, a critical store of global-scale ice, is showing some unstable and troubling phenomena already. The oceans, which have been the major sink of CO2 for a million year, are now warmer and thus less able to absorb CO2. With additional heating the oceans could be net emitters of the stored CO2 and face drastic reduction in seafood production.
In addition, the oceans are the key absorbers of the additional energy generated by GW and moderated the rise in global air temperature in the process. As the ocean temperature rises by this energy absorption, it will reduce the effectiveness of this crucial heat-sink and the global air temperatures could rise faster.
Switching to natural gas (methane) would not improve the situation since on a 20 years scale unburned Methane is 80 times! more damaging to the atmosphere than coal burning, and 35 times at a 100 years scale. Any leaks above 1% would overshadow any advantage of using NG compare to coal. And it is impossible to keep the unburned leaks so low on a vast industrial setting covering much of the US.
At the same time both Germany and China are increasing significantly their use of coal.
These are but some glimpses of the global changes we are unable to stop, and unable to reverse. And we continue to ignore the elephant in the room and conduct business as if all is normal and will continue to be so. It will not!
The attached article (others said it earlier) amplifies what we suspected for years that the situation is graver than most expected. We are still unwilling to accept reality.
California government worked diligently to cut greenhouse gases as much as it could, but obviously, it does not matter globally what we do here since California contribution to greenhouse gases is one percent of the global total.
It is time to change course, time for mitigation of coming severe impacts.
People are inherently self centered and designed to deal effectively with immediate survival issues. We are considerably less able to deal with future events. We are unable to sacrifice now for future human survival. And human nature would not change in the face of GW, may be until it is too late.
California needs to reduce its high spending on non-critical GHG reductions, such as the Bullet Train that will increase GHG for years to come during construction - while its ability to reduce long term emissions is seriously doubtful. The close to $100 billions for that train would be much better spent on low-cost/high- effectiveness GW reduction projects with quick reductions only.
We must concentrate our effort not on being "an example to the world," as California loves to be, but on reducing the severe impacts of rising sea levels, drastic reduction in water supplies and other impacts we already expect. Otherwise we would face grave survival issues for much of our 40 million population.
For example, Sacramento is at sea level and practically connected to the ocean. Unless we change the situation sea level rise is expected to flood Sacramento despite its seemingly long distance from the ocean.
It takes many years to design and develop the large-scale mitigation tools and structures that we will need to protect the people of California. We need to start this crucial process now to protect our state to the level we can.
Since we are unable globally to reduce the rapid rise in GW we also need to start now to study and develop geoengineering tools to minimize and slow down the most drastic impacts of global warming. It may take decades to develop the tools and test them on a limited scale to reduce the likelihood of unexpected out of control impacts.
We need to start mitigation statewide and geoengineering planning globally now.
Dr. of Environmental Science and Engineering
Planet likely to warm by 4C by 2100, scientists warn
New climate model taking greater account of cloud changes indicates heating will be at higher end of expectations
• "Rises in global average temperatures of [at least 4C by 2100] will have profound impacts on the world and the economies of many countries if we don't urgently start to curb our emissions."
• The Guardian, Tuesday 31 December 2013 09.02 EST Damian Carrington
The role clouds play in climate change has been something of a mystery - until now. Photograph: Frank Rumpenhorst/ Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/Corbis
Temperature rises resulting from unchecked climate change will be at the severe end of those projected, according to a new scientific study.
The scientist leading the research said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100, twice the level the world's governments deem dangerous.
The research indicates that fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still. The way clouds affect global warming has been the biggest mystery surrounding future climate change.
Professor Steven Sherwood, at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, who led the new work, said: "This study breaks new ground twice: first by identifying what is controlling the cloud changes and second by strongly discounting the lowest estimates of future global warming in favour of the higher and more damaging estimates."
"4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous," Sherwood told the Guardian. "For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet", with sea levels rising by many meters as a result.
The research is a "big advance" that halves the uncertainty about how much warming is caused by rises in carbon emissions, according to scientists commenting on the study, published in the journal Nature. Hideo Shiogama and Tomoo Ogura, at Japan's National Institute for Environmental Studies, said the explanation of how fewer clouds form as the world warms was "convincing", and agreed this indicated future climate would be greater than expected. But they said more challenges lay ahead to narrow down further the projections of future temperatures.
Scientists measure the sensitivity of the Earth's climate to greenhouse gases by estimating the temperature rise that would be caused by a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere compared with pre-industrial levels - as is likely to happen within 50 years, on current trends. For two decades, those estimates have run from 1.5C to 5C, a wide range; the new research narrowed that range to between 3C and 5C, by closely examining the biggest cause of uncertainty: clouds.
The key was to ensure that the way clouds form in the real world was accurately represented in computer climate models, which are the only tool researchers have to predict future temperatures. When water evaporates from the oceans, the vapour can rise over nine miles to form rain clouds that reflect sunlight; or it may rise just a few miles and drift back down without forming clouds. In reality, both processes occur, and climate models encompassing this complexity predicted significantly higher future temperatures than those only including the nine-mile-high clouds.
"Climate sceptics like to criticise climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect," said Sherwood. "But what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by the models which predict less warming, not those that predict more."
He added: "Sceptics may also point to the 'hiatus' of temperatures since the end of the 20th century, but there is increasing evidence that this inaptly named hiatus is not seen in other measures of the climate system, and is almost certainly temporary."
Global average air temperatures have increased relatively slowly since a high point in 1998 caused by the ocean phenomenon El Niño, but observations show that heat is continuing to be trapped in increasing amounts by greenhouse gases, with over 90% disappearing into the oceans. Furthermore, a study in November suggested the "pause" may be largely an illusion resulting from the lack of temperature readings from polar regions, where warming is greatest.
Sherwood accepts his team's work on the role of clouds cannot definitively rule out that future temperature rises will lie at the lower end of projections. "But," he said, for that to be the case, "one would need to invoke some new dimension to the problem involving a major missing ingredient for which we currently have no evidence. Such a thing is not out of the question but requires a lot of faith."
"Rises in global average temperatures of [at least 4C by 2100] will have profound impacts on the world and the economies of many countries if we don't urgently start to curb our emissions."
Global Warming (or its milder term: Climate Change) is so overwhelming and the worse emergency that humanity has faced in modern times, that we are unable to fully grasp it. Global CO2 emission is still increasing instead of dropping dramatically, that only a global effort larger and more intense than WWII may be able to save the Earth's environment from destruction, and thus its' ability to sustain life as we know it. And we have been doing nothing significant to date, compared to the magnitude and time-urgency of this problem.
We have an optimistic picture of the danger of Global Warming because most scientists do not tell us the full facts since they fear being seen as "advocates." Finally several courageous scientists are openly stating the gravity and time-criticality of global warming. See 4 abbreviated articles below.
We have ample evidence that GW is much worse than we expected and were comfortable with. And it is very hard for most of us who already believe GW is a serious problem, to accept: our human activities have been rapidly destroying our only home, Earth, approaching the point of no return! No national or international leadership of importance wants to respond to this immense danger to human survival. We are standing still while the problem is getting much worse and may no longer be controllable.
Here is the essence of the GW situation as I understand it:
1. For the last ten thousand years, the Earth's average air temperature has been fairly stable thus allowing civilizations to develop and prosper. Industrial CO2 emissions in the last century broke this stable natural feedback system that kept the Earth a benevolent habitat for vegetation, agriculture, and thus human and other organism.
2. Global warming has the ability to destroy the stable Earth environment thus Earth's ability to sustain current forms of life, including human beings.
3. The 2007 projection of the global lead agency on CC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change, IPCC, was the base line for action: If we reduce global emissions moderately, we could have a small increase in temperature of 2 degrees Celsius. Conclusion: low urgency, we have time.
4. Global emissions of CO2 have increased substantially above IPCC projection and did not go down. China and India are increasing their already massive Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions and are projected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
5. Our Earth can not survive as habitat for humanity if the average air temperature increases by more than 2 to 3 C degrees C because the temperature will be going into an unstable territory. It is now projected that we are already on a path towards unstable temperature range: 4 Degree C, and that the Earth temperatures will continue to increase towards 6 degrees C by the end of this century or so, IF THERE IS NO UNFORESEEN CATASTROPHIC EVENT.
6. This is not an isolated prediction. Several scientists have come forth, starting 2 years ago, to point out that we will soon be passing the hoped for 2 degrees and are on a path to 4 degrees and beyond.
7. As the temperature increases several known "positive-feedback" effects are expected to bring us to an unstable region where the temperatures will increase without any human ability to control them.
8. In addition, "We do not know what we do not know." It is reasonably clear that we do not know a lot of the environmental interactions and potential catastrophic events from increases of several degrees.
The larger the temperature increase, the larger is the probability of massive catastrophic environmental events that will increase our temperature beyond the Earth's ability to provide acceptable human habitat. See attachment 3.
9. In 2009 after studying CC literature full time for several years, it became obvious to me that only a global dedicated effort, even larger than WWII scale, was the only way global temperature may be able to remain within tolerable levels:
We must turn upside down our approach to fighting CC.
10. Globally we have been doing nothing of significance to reduce GHG. The US and California (despite its pioneering AB 32 program) have done very little of significance to reduce CCgases. All the appealing US environmental programs have been and will be insufficient compare to the increased emissions from China and India.
11. The most important thing to grasp is that there is a high likelihood that as the air temperature passes some 4 degrees C, the Earth's benevolent environment of the last ten thousand years will be on an irreversible path to destruction, and life on Earth would be so harsh that human civilization would be essentially unsustainable.
That means immense human suffering on a scale beyond our imagination: warming oceans with reduced CO2 absorption, higher acidity and inferior ocean productivity; melting ice coverage, sea level rise and flooding cities; widening state-size desertification; irregular extreme weather patterns; diminishing food supplies; mass forced migration; reduced river water supplies; rapidly melting snow and flooding; war; and tens of millions dead from starvation and disease yearly. To name just a few.
When will we take Climate Change seriousely?
Dr. Matania Ginosar
Environmental Scientist & Electrical Engineer
Prev. Mgr. Solar Office, Calif. Energy Comm.
"We irretrievably passed the 2 degrees mark and are well on our way to 4 degree by 2060, perhaps earlier."
Dr. Bowman Cutter, Board Chair, Resources For the Future, RFF, 12/13/2012
4 abbreviated attachments:
1. It's Already Too Late to Stop Climate Change
Even as climate policy is debated in Doha, it's becoming increasingly clear that the first devastating effects of global warming cannot be prevented.
by Coral Davenport; For the full report see:
...But no matter what the diplomats in Doha decide over the next week, it now appears inevitable that the world will indeed hit that 2-degree mark and could well shoot past it to average global increases of 4 degrees or 6 degrees-points at which scientists predict even worse catastrophes.
A scientific study published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change concluded that the world's rapid increase in fossil fuel emissions now makes a global average temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius all but inevitable.
"When it comes to the worst-case scenarios of sea-level rise, I'm not sure $100 billion will even scratch the surface," said Brian Murray, director of economic analysis at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
Scientists say that once the world hits that 2-degree mark, the urgency of reducing carbon pollution to avoid a catastrophic tipping point becomes even greater.
Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University and a member of the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says that a 2-degree rise is not itself that point, but rather the beginning of irreversible changes. "It starts to speed you toward a tipping point," he said. "It's driving toward a cliff at night with the headlights off. We don't know when we'll hit that cliff, but after 2 degrees, we're going faster, we have less control. After 3, 4, 5 degrees, you spiral out of control, you have even more irreversible change. At this point, with prompt action to reduce emissions, we can still keep it from getting totally out of control."
Study sees 5C warming
(AFP) - 1 day ago 12-3-12
PARIS - Levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) are rising annually by around three percent, placing Earth on track for warming that could breach five degrees Celsius (9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, a new study published on Sunday said.
The figure -- among the most alarming of the latest forecasts by climate scientists -- is at least double the 2C (3.6F) target set by UN members struggling for a global deal on climate change.
In 2011, global carbon emissions were 54 percent above 1990 levels, according to the research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change by the Global Carbon Project consortium.
" We are on track for the highest emissions projections, which point to a rise in temperature of between 4C (7.2F) and 6C (10.8F) by the end of the century," said Corinne le Quere, a carbon specialist at the University of East Anglia, eastern England.
In 1990, developing countries accounted for 35 percent of worldwide output of CO2, ...In 2011, this was 58 percent......
Last year, Chinese CO2 rose by 10 percent, or more than 800 million tonnes, equivalent to Germany's emissions in an entire year, said the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO), whose scientists took part in the paper.
" China is emitting as much as the European Union on a per-capita basis, about 36 percent higher than the global average per-capita emissions," it said in a press release....
Dr. Paul Krugman on the criticality of uncertainties:
Dr. Martin Weitzman's work at Harvard
Final points from Krugman's 12 page article above:
"Finally and most important is the matter of uncertainty. We're uncertain about the magnitude of climate change, which is inevitable, because we're talking about reaching levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen in millions of years. The recent doubling of many modelers' predictions for 2100 is itself an illustration of the scope of that uncertainty; who knows what revisions may occur in the years ahead.
Beyond that, nobody really knows how much damage would result from temperature rises of the kind now considered likely.
You might think that this uncertainty weakens the case for action, but it actually strengthens it. As Harvard's Martin Weitzman has argued in several influential papers, if there is a significant chance of utter catastrophe, that chance - rather than what is most likely to happen - should dominate cost-benefit calculations. And utter catastrophe does look like a realistic possibility, even if it is not the most likely
"Weitzman argues - and I agree - that this risk of catastrophe, rather than the details of cost-benefit calculations, makes the most powerful case for strong climate policy. Current projections of global warming in the absence of action are just too close to the kinds of numbers associated with doomsday scenarios. It would be irresponsible - it's tempting to say criminally irresponsible - not to step back from what could all too easily turn out to be the edge of a cliff."
Krugman's conclusions on GW actions:
"So what I end up with is basically Martin Weitzman's argument: it's the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis. And that argues for aggressive moves to curb emissions, soon."
4. Beyond ‘dangerous' climatic change,
Anderson and Bows
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, January, 2011
* " 2 C stabilization is virtually impossible."
* "4 C by 2050-2070 look ‘likely' (could be earlier & on the way to 6c.)"
* ‘We are leading for the worst possible of all worlds."
"There is a wide held view that a 4C future is likely to be beyond organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation', is devastating to the majority of eco-systems & has a high probability of not being stable (i.e. 4 C would be higher equilibrium level.)
Consequentially...4C should be avoided in ‘all' costs."
Anderson/Bows, The Tyndall Centre (1/2011)
More and more scientists are now willing to say what they might have been thinking for some time: The dreams of controlling global warming to a "safe" level are unrealistic. Any way you look at it now, we are surely going beyond the "safe" region and we will not be able to stabilize the increase in global temperatures.
I believe that the scientific community involved in global warming research has failed humanity on a scale never before in human history. Their fear of being called alarmist, the fear of being "an advocate" most likely shut many important scientists from raising massive uproar individually and collectively about the serious danger to humanity from this unique, perilous, life-changing process we are unwilling to curtail.
Science adviser warns climate target 'out the window'
By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News, 23 August 2012 Last updated at 02:28 ET
One of the [British] government's most senior scientific advisers has said that efforts to stop a sharp rise in global temperatures were now "unrealistic".
Prof Sir Bob Watson said that any hope of restricting the average temperature rise to 2C was "out the window".
He said that the rise could be as high as 5C - with dire consequences.
It is time to look squarely at Global Warming reality and accept it.
We must turn upside down our approach to fighting GW
because time is of the essence.
I wrote this three years ago and left it in this draft form. I should have published it then. The following posting will give the (draft) background, writen then, supporting these conclusions. Many of these observations led me to my current conclusion (2 posting back) that we can not do almost anything useful to stop, or even slow down global warming. 7/12
Instead of regulating Greenhouse Gases to a level that may have no negative economic impact, we must reduce GHG to the maximum that could be technically and economically implementable.
Preface: GW is unlike any other issue because we have no previous human experience of this magnitude and it is natural to minimize its significance. It is extremely difficult to internalize the danger GW pose to our Earth, even supporters minimize it. Our US culture is based on hope, progress, improvements, and we reject what does not fit our image of the future. Not only that, as we see the sun rising and one beautiful day after another it is natural to inwardly reject that GW is posing a serious danger to the stability of our climate and even, possibly, to human endurance. To paraphrase Neil Bohr, if GW did not shake you up yet, you probably haven't understood it.
1. Most scientific reports tells us that the current impacts of global temperature rise are worse than we estimated earlier, that we are not sure how fast the temperature will rise, and we do not know what is the maximum level of GHG nature can tolerate before a catastrophic tipping point could start. Therefore,we must set the tightest limits on global and national GHG levels that we are able to.
2. Most proposed cuts in GHG are based on IPCC AR4. However, we can not rely on the AR4 to set limits to GHG emissions since it was politically constrained, ignored potential catastrophic events, and some of its negative predictions have already been exceeded. We now have more relevant data and more insight.
3. GHG level is already too high thus increasing global temperatures and damaging global climate. We are not sure at what level we must stabilize GHG to prevent even more severe harm to the world population because the complexity of global climate is beyond our actual knowledge. Modeling is approximation. If we err, we must err on the safe side.
4. The natural self interest of most people distorts their ability to cooperate and follow the need of the larger society. Therefore, there is considerable uncertainty how the laws enacted will effect the actual GHG emissions in the US. And we are one the most law-abiding nations.
5. The self interest of nations and desire for power of the influentials could severely distort the compliance with global GHG regulations. Think of the oil exporting nations, as a minimum.
6. Tipping points: There is some low, but not insignificant, probability that increased levels of GHG could trigger catastrophic, massive, uncontrolled releases of GHG that could cause significant increase in global temperatures. That possible temperature increase, beyond 10 or even 20 C degrees, could cause severe, unmitigated damage to the global climate that could render our Earth essentially uninhabitable.
7. Regarding the risk of Tipping Points; the catastrophic release of stored GHG. Because this is the only home humanity has, we can not take the RISK of destroying our climate. RISK is the probability times the magnitude of the event. Even with low probability, the enormous magnitude of the potential damage to our globe by catastrophic release of GHG makes the risk massive and unacceptable. Therefore, we must dedicate a high percentage of our global resources to reduce GHG as fast as possible and the largest reduction possible.
8. Humanity has never encountered a danger to its existence of this level before. We can not truly grasp the seriousness of GW. Even with all the high levels of scientific and technical powers we have, we are unprepared. We do not know what we do not know or understand.
9. We still operate by "we vs. them" laws. This simply can not work. National and Global cooperation beyond any previous level is mandatory. We depend on one another, especially the US and China.
10. We, the US, will have to "give" more than other nations. We took the "most" to date. US is 4.5% of global population, occupying 1.9% of Earth surfaces, and emitted to date some 30% of all GHG.
11. We have to be more honest and forward in our international dealing re. GW or we will not get the crucial cooperation required. We would not be able to cover up superficial regulations and minimal actions by public relation bluff, so common in our culture and in Congress. Foreign governments are not likely to buy into that kind of thinking that much of our own public does.
12. The complexity of global climate, the significant gaps in our knowledge, the uncertainty of GHG laws, their possible impacts, their compliance, global cooperation required, and potential high risk to our survival, put us in a dangerous territory. We do not know what the results of all GHG curtailment laws and effort would achieve. Therefore, we can not use the usual American approach: "don't worry, everything will turn up right in the end." We must aim towards minimizing global human suffering and maximizing the chance for human survival.
13. The initial GHG reductions that we should take now must be decisive, based on proven technologies and real knowledge, not experimental or unproven; that may or may not work, such as Carbon Capture and Sequestration . We can not take the risks of unproven technologies since the C02 that was not cut will remain in the atmosphere for a thousand years. After we accomplish significant GHG reductions, then we can bring proven new approaches on line too.
14. To paraphrase Jean Monnet: Global Warming can not be reduced without efforts that are proportionate to the danger which GW threatens humanity.
WE MUST CURTAIL GHG TO THE MAXIMUM LEVEL WE CAN POSSIBLY MANAGE
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Dr. of Environmental Science & Engineering
It is time to accept the fact that humanity is unwilling and thus unable to slow down the coming catastrophic, irreversible, climate change. It is simply impossible for us to change directions so drastically and so rapidly to achieve any significant reduction in greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions.
Many, if not most, respectable environmental scientists believe that past climate modeling and temperature-rise predictions were too timid and too low. Therefore, we must realize that in all probability, we are unable to do almost anything useful to slow down the catastrophic destruction of life on Earth. This reality was evident for several years: In the US, for example, the country with the largest economic ability to change from fossil fuel - based economy, even a Democratic president that promised real action on global warming paid only lip service to it. In addition, a Democratic Congress was not able to pass any laws of substance. In China, the central government must focus on rapid economic growth to placate a massive population emerging from deep poverty and it therefore built one large coal power station a week. Simply put, humanity cannot reverse its focus on short-term gains in order to sustain long-term human survival.
Here is partially what science tells us:
[There are many aspects to the coming catastrophic climate changes, but my focus is on the immensity of human suffering.]
To be acceptable, most scientific and environmental papers want to show us that there is still hope, they also say the damage would be in the future and thus allow the public, environmentalists and national and international leaders to disregard the issue. However, it cannot be ignored, it is already well established. All that was done in the last two decades to cut GHG is insignificant - feel good, window dressing: "Global carbon emissions from energy are up 48% on 1992, when the original Earth summit took place."*
The likelihood that the Earth will be able to maintain a stable atmosphere suitable for human habitat is quite small. The rise in global population coupled by a rising demand for a higher standard of living is forcing a sharp demand for more energy. This massive energy consumption, mostly from fossil fuels, generates an immense amount of greenhouse gases [over 30 billion metric tones of CO2 a year]. All evidence is pointing to a continuous rise in greenhouse gases that will force a rise in average global air temperature well beyond the hoped-for 2 degrees C, which was considered manageable and stable just 5 years ago. It is already approaching one degree C. Note also that there is sufficient likelihood that unknown surprises could aggravate the severity and speed of this global atmospheric destruction.
The respected, Nobel Prize winner, economist Dr. Paul Krugman wrote two years ago: "So, what I end up with is basically Martin Weitzman** argument: it's the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis. And that argues for aggressive moves to curb emissions soon."
But no significant action has taken place yet, and it is unlikely to happen in the next few years to save the Earth's environment.
The only way to slow down, and maybe reduce the likelihood of sudden unforeseen catastrophic events, (but not stop this destructive process,) is by a massive and rapid cut of global fossil fuel use in the next few years. However, almost all modern life is dependent on fossil energy. Since CO2 gases lasts for hundreds, possibly a thousand years we can not stop this process, even if we stopped emitting GHG today. ***
The drastic change in economic direction to cut down GHG emissions requires government - directed, complete and rapid reorganization of most of the economies on Earth. However, no government will stay in power if it tries to do it properly. It is simply not possible. Therefore, we will continue on our current path to catastrophic destruction of the global climate with its related destruction of the food and water supplies, and much of the living organism, including human beings!
An example, the oceans upper layers are already warmed by a half degree, reducing their ability to absorb CO2, and their acidity is increasing, thus reducing the oceans' ability to supply much of the world's fish-protein.
It is clear that we are unable to slow down this destructive process, and the Earth's temperature almost certainly will increase way pass the unstable 4 degrees C and continue to heat up. It is estimated that at 6 degrees at least half the earth land surfaces would turn into desert. The last time the Earth experienced this range of temperatures was fifty millions years ago when at 11 degrees higher than current level almost all life of Earth was extinguished.
There is no known natural Earth process that will limit the continuous rise in average global air temperature, thus the ability of our natural habitat to sustain life.
The catastrophic impacts would be on an unprecedented scale we are now unable to fathom: Climate fluctuations, which destroy forestation and agriculture, would be world wide and would vary in impact and timing. We would not be able to use large agricultural projects that now feed most of humanity because of weather unpredictability. It is projected that dry areas would become deserts, and wet regions would be much wetter with more floods. Tornadoes would be more frequent, cover larger areas with increase severity. Coastal areas, where much of the world's population resides now, would be flooded by rising seas.
Those with meager incomes just scratching a living, (India has now 500 millions people like that, Africa hundreds of millions more,) may see their livelihood disappear. Some in the US and Europe with their higher level of wealth may be able to endure longer since they would be able to pay the very high prices for the diminishing supply of food and water. Many more would not be able to. Over time, civil society as we know it would collapse. The more powerful may stay alive longer, by forcibly taking what they want for survival. Use of atomic weapons to obtain the diminishing meager resources is a strong possibility. The starvation and death of tens of millions of people would not be a surprise
The only question is how quickly this process will take place. It is already affecting our lives, but will it be momentous in the next few decades if we trigger a massive GHG feedback effect and/or unexpected massive emissions of GHG burst into the atmosphere? Or, will it take a little longer. It is fairly certain that the heating will continue to disturb our way of life on a larger and larger scale.
We must focus now on reducing the coming vast human suffering. "Clean Coal", natural gas, and Geoengineering are not practical solutions, and may cause more climate disturbances than solutions. Despite these immense difficulties we must try any viable adaptation approaches to reduce some human suffering, if at all possible.
And a personal note:
For the last decade I have studied a wide range of global warming literature spending much of my time on it. However, it took me years to accept the reality of GW, to integrate it into my being beyond just the intellectual level. It was very hard for me emotionally to accept the enormity of destruction expected. Although I knew it, it still took me over three years of personal agony to finally write these current conclusions since I did not want to accept the mounting evidence and the reality that humanity would not rise up to save our offspring, our future generations. I finally made peace with it and am able to write my understanding of the situation above. As I have written several times: it is extremely difficult to accept this reality emotionally since it is contrary to almost everything we want: a continuous improvement of our life and standard of living, peace and harmony in the future. And I did not want my family to see it. What hope can I give them?
As I am editing this, I do not want to believe this sad reality. My emotions are trying to subdue facts and logic.
Sadly, we are unable to overcome our deep limitations: Most of human decisions are driven by short term feelings, focusing on immediate gratification. We are reasonably good in running away from immideate danger but are unable to develop a viable future.
The end of ten thousand years of civilization is in our hands and we can not act on it!
Doctor of Environmental Science and Engineering
& Electrical Engineer
** [Dr. Martin Weitzman, Harvard professor of environmental-economics, http://ws1.ad.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/weitzman/files/GHGTargetsInsuranceAgainst
*** Some 10% of the surface of the Earth has been covered by ice and snow, a massive reflector of sun energy back into space. The positive feedback processes of melting of these ice and glaciers, and deforestation, have been going on for many years and will continue to warm the Earth even without additional GHG.
**** Fossil fuel consumption generates some three quarter of global GHG, agriculture and deforestation the rest.
The Atlantic April 2012 issue has an article- What Isn't For Sale? that may clarify some aspects why most of us, liberals or conservatives, environmentalists or the Tea Party, do not fully grasp the danger of global warming, We view almost every thing in terms of the dollar, not in the terms of massive floods, or snow-less mountains, or a dead ocean.
Michael Sandel, the author, brings up crucial points how our economic views of our society have distorted most aspects of our lives:
"..Without quite realizing it - without ever deciding to do so - we drifted from having a market economy to being a market economy.
The difference is this: a market economy is a tool - a valuable and effective tool - for organizing productive activity. A market society is a way of life in which market values seep into every aspect of human endeavor."
Over the last few years a number of articles by respectable academics, scientists, and other reputable people told us again and again how much Climate Change, Global Warming, will cost us over time, in the future. It was a monetary assessment of future worth vs. current expenditures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
When people see the potential massive global damage to our Earth in mainly FUTURE economic terms, they dismiss its significance. So it will cost a little more, our growing, massive, economy can handle that. It would not be really so bad, just like inflation...
Some articles said that with the continuous rise in the global economy, the damage to our way of life would be well within a small percentage of our income, so why worry unduly now.
Add to it that most people are not aware of their deep ignorance of the complexity and interconnection of the global climatic balance. And that they truly believe they understand the forces of nature, know enough about the changing weather, and are familiar with the forces impacting cloud formation and even the vastly complex ocean systems. It is, therefore, nearly impossible to penetrate the personal firewall they have erected around themselves so that they would not have to think about the disastrous climatic change we have already entered into.
China now emits about 8 billion tons of CO2 annually, a quarter of the global emission. With China's GDP growth of nearly 10% it almost does not matter what other nations will be doing to reduce their GHG. If current trend continues, China's own emissions would be some 50% of (current) global level in less than a decade. China per capita GHG emission is now higher than the global average of some 5 metric ton. But it is still a fact that the US contributed most to the accumulated global GHG, and that is what the Chinese are pointing to as their moral right to continue mass GHG emission. The trouble is that we are all in the same boat and we will be suffering together, immaterial who started it and who is adding the fastest to it.
China unbound drive to increase its economic output for both external and local markets drive its enormous need for energy. Its dependence on coal power plants (now 80%) is accelerating despite the rapid increase in green energy generation. Green energy from nuclear, solar and wind is so small compare to coal, it is essentially insignificant. And will remain so small since centralized, large scale coal plants are dependent technology with 24/7 availability, easier and faster to put on line, and their energy monetary cost will continue to be lower than the alternatives, since we are universally ignoring serious environmental costs.
China leadership does not grasp fully the urgency of global warming and how it will soon seriously deteriorate their own environment and thus negating some of their own economic accomplishments. They focus on the urgency of fast economic growth for 800 million of their people eager to emerge from their near absolute poverty, many with income of just a few dollars a day.
Just one example of environmental neglect: most of China modern residential high rise have either no, or minimal insulation. With 25 million unoccupied new apartments, their housing bubble may be around the corner, and when occupied eventually, their demand for electricity/gas would be immense.
I assume that China leadership believes that the impact of GW will come later than the current need for rapid economic growth, and they will have time to deal with GW then. I do not believe they are as wise as some think. Despite China outstanding long-term effort to reduce its population growth, they are constrained by similar limitations of the West: short term thinking and inability to grasp undesirable facts, (however, not to the extent that the US suffers from these and its political disintegration.) China centralized political control, nonetheless, gives them the ability to move on a dime compare to the Democratic West.
Most global leaders, especially in the US, are unable to fully grasp the accelerating negative impacts of GW on agriculture, food supply, ocean productivity, rise in ocean levels, increase in regional aridity, shortage of fresh water, unstable weather patterns, and likelihood of catastrophic events (tipping points). They think we would be able to deal with them in the future. They may even think that some magical technological fix would get us out of the worst aspects of GW. No sensible person should accept that approach.
China, like the rest of humanity, is on a collision course between desire for economic growth and survival.
China is not going to do anything meaningful to reduce its immense Greenhouse Gases. They talk about it, but when you study both their words, and especially their actions you can see clearly how misleading their promises are. The central government can issue impressive guidelines, but provincial and local leadership determine the facts. Economic control and drive is more locally based and influenced by personal relationships and not by the rule of law, as in most Western countries.
Study carefully the double talk about energy in the article below from Chinadaily. They aim to cut energy intensity per GDP by 16% by 2015, letting them continue almost unabated with their rapid GHG increase. But even that is just words.
Listen to this nonsense:
"As a top priority, China will actively nurture new consumption frontiers and optimize the consumption environment to boost its consumption capability and demand."
China to unveil new energy consumption strategy
Updated: 2011-12-17 10:27
By Lan Lan (China Daily)
Final part from:
......."It will be an unavoidable dilemma that China will have to deal with in the coming years - continuing the processes of industrialization and urbanization while coming under pressure to act more in cutting emissions," said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.
China has set a target of cutting energy intensity - which is calculated as units of energy for each unit of GDP - by 16 percent by 2015 from the 2010 level.
"The controls on total energy consumption will be tougher indicators than the energy-intensity targets, because there are loopholes through which local governments can achieve their energy-intensity targets by expanding the GDP base accordingly," said Lin.
The controls will be allocated to provincial governments. The plan will not only have an impact on GDP growth but will also influence the energy structure and price. "Setting limits on energy use means putting limits on GDP," Lin said.
Li Junfeng, deputy director of the Energy Research Institute affiliated with the NDRC, said China must switch to "healthy and qualified GDP", otherwise, it will take years to digest the "junk GDP" at a high environmental cost.
Earlier this month, China laid out detailed plans to control greenhouse gas emissions in the coming five years, with the national target allocated to provincial governments.
In addition, China will adopt more measures to save energy and reduce emissions by increasing the fines imposed for discharging pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, Zhang added.
"Maintaining price stability remains the prime aim of the government's macroeconomic controls next year," said Zhang.
With relatively rapid economic growth and a lower rate of inflation, China's economy has been heading in the right direction this year, the beginning of the nation's 12th Five-Year Plan, he said.
He stressed the need to maintain stable growth next year, an issue that was highlighted at the annual Central Economic Work Conference earlier this week.
As a top priority, China will actively nurture new consumption frontiers and optimize the consumption environment to boost its consumption capability and demand.
China rebuffs scheme to cut steel emissions. An ambitious industry-led project to cut carbon dioxide emissions from steel plants is in danger of foundering on account of the refusal by any of China’s producers, which between them account for more than 40 per cent of world production of the metal, to join the initiative. London Financial Times
Dr. Kevin Anderson of the Univ. of Manchester presented earlier this year a down-to-earth and sobering assessment of our GW situation. He strips away the political cover and goes into the realistic and difficult situation we are already in. This 50 minutes presentation must be watched by any one who cares abort GW.
Here is one of his key observations:
… Our key goal was to limit the average global temperature to 2 degrees C. This is unlikely with the little progress to date and inability to speed up drastically CO2 reductions. Some suggest that we need to look at the possibility of 4 degrees.
“ There is a widespread view that a 4 degree C future is incompatible with an organised global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of the eco-systems & has a high probability of not being stable (i.e. 4 degree C would be an interim temperature on the way to a much higher equilibrium level)
4 DEGREE C SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ‘ALL’ COSTS
Climate Change, Going Beyond the Dangerous:
China is becoming the most powerful player in global events. Its economy is projected to overtake the US in less than a decade!
The US and China are the key players in a tightly woven global community and must cooperate and find common paths to help ourselves and the global community.
China is also the largest generator of greenhouse gases and also suffers considerably from global warming. Reducing GW and increasing economic growth are interwoven elements.
This is just a brief exposure of some key differences between the US and China.
China with its rapidly growing GDP of $6 Trillion is often more influential internationally than the US with its 15 Trillion GDP, a quarter of global GDP. We have by far the strongest military power in the world, but economic power is as important, or often more important, than military power. Exerting military power is not a good option in most cases.
The key reasons that China is so powerful are that it has:
1. A strong central authoritarian government that can make decisions relatively quickly
2. A government which actually care to improve the lot of its population,
3. The ability for planning and executing long term national goals
4. Immense foreign exchange reserves of over $3 Trillion; all of which allow China to achieve its goals rapidly.
The Chinese government and their private economic enterprises operate with less moral and ethical constraints than any other influential nation. This allows China to acquire vast long-term - international energy and mineral resources and exerts its economic influence with little regard to its impact on the local population or international concerns think Iran and Sudan. China's economic power is growing rapidly at 10% per year with less moral concerns or self imposed or external limits. China GDP was one trillion dollar in 2000; it is now 6 times larger! These numbers do not show the total story, since its labor costs are so much lower, China can build twice as much infrastructure and housing per dollar as the US.
Although some assessments predict that China's GDP will surpass the US in just five years, it does not seem realistic- there are always unforeseen difficulties. Serious bumps are around the corner, such as a potential housing bubble, (25 million, often expensive, housing units are unoccupied now). Also there are increasing wage demands, and their artificially low currency exchange rate which would not be tolerated for long. China is already planning to change the rate slowly.
There are a lot of negative elements in China: lack of individual freedom, severe corruption, weak rule of law, building empty cities to sustain employment, lack of environmental control, expanding arid areas due to global warming, diminishing water supplies to vast population centers, no social safety net, suppression of native minorities and more. This is all part of the picture of this vast land. However, it is important to note that most Chinese are happy to have these vast economic opportunities, fast rise in their standard of living at the cost of their political freedom.
The US has serious economic problems most of them politically generated:
1. Representative government, in which local interest prevails over national needs.
2. We have huge and growing national and private debts, totaling $50 trillion, 3 and a half times GDP.
3. We do not have a national vision nor national long term or even short term plan.
4. We let short term self-serving financial forces dictate our direction.
5. Both Democratic and Republican administrations and Congress concentrate on benefiting the financial elite, the wealthy upper few percent of the population to the detriment of the lower income half of the population.
The US richest 10 percent control some 2/3 (73%) of our net worth. The lower 90% has only 27%; this is a ratio of 24 to one on a per capita basis. Think about it, for every thousand dollar a person in the lower 90% can spend monthly, a person in the upper 10% can spend twenty four thousand dollars!
Our US government is divisive, polarized, non transparent, and unable to work for the benefit of the country. And because we generally believe that every one should be free to pursue his/her goals, essentially free from central supervision, our widely spread greed burdens the nation by economic collapse, huge national debt ($14 billions, almost equal to GDP) and immense private debts, some $35 trillions. Recently some 20% of our GDP has been generated by the non-productive financial sector, which mostly shuffled immense amount of fabricated capital from hand to hand with no productive benefit for the country but their own short-term financial wealth.
In summary, China concentrates on achieving its long term rapid national growth at the cost of individual freedom and lack of the rule of law. We concentrate on protecting the wealthy, retaining individual freedom, sustaining the rule of law at a sacrifice of our other important national needs.
The impact on morality of overpopulation:
Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.
China is not constrained, nor guided by morality or ethics due largely to its vast population. The more people we have, the less we value each individual. And this is evident especially in China and India. Their population is about 1350 and 1210 millions, respectively; together over a third of the global population.
It is not surprising, therefore, that most Chinese focus on their own economic progress and ignores the suffering of others. It has been so for a long time. The current news from China is that 18 people saw and ignored the suffering of a 2 years old, severely injured girl in a car incident. They looked, did not lift a finger to help, and if you heard the driver explanation why he did not stop you would be revolted of his inhuman attitude. I am glad that a considerable debate started in China about this sad experience.
I am bringing the MORALITY ISSUE up to illustrate the great significance of China to the struggle to reduce economic suffering and global Warming. China is the key to cutting global Greenhouse gases. No effort by any other country, or a combination of countries, will make much impact compare to the impact that China has now and will increasingly have (plus the negative impacts expected from India economic and population growth.)
China is driven; it can not stand still economically. To retain political stability the central and regional governments must supply jobs and housing to the current 600 million urban population and the 200 million more poor rural people that will be moving to urban areas over the next decade.
China is obviously focusing on its own survival and growth and naturally ignores the needs of other nations. China "conforms" to Western moral standards only when it suits it or required to propagate China's own aims. China is especially reluctant to support UN effort that reduce the ability of dictatorial powers such as Syria and Iran to subdue their population by force since they have been doing it in some cases and will do it again. They are extremely concerned about the desire of some of their minorities for self determination. Up to now local rebelions are unrelated and focus on correcting local wrongs. But China leadership fears a possible coordination of these local upsets and widespread instability if they are not stopped early. This is why they clamp down on small events that to us seem so minor nad unjustified. Even if we do not like it, We must look at it from their point of view in order to coordinate better the global fight against GW. Yes, this ultimate danger to humanity is more important than achieving soon our dream of full human rights.
China's Communist leadership is working hard to improve the lives of the majority of their population, concentrating on its Han majority of 91.5%. China controls the major banks and holds the majority of foreign capital and gives just a minimal political freedom to prevent upsetting the apple cart. I admire what China leadership did after the death of Mao and his immediate successors. It understood realistically the needs of the country; the first one was reducing its rapid population growth. Under Mao China's population grew from 530 millions in 1948 to 800 millions in 1970 at a rate of 2.2%.
China long term goal has been to first achieve a zero population growth and eventually to reduce their population over the next century to some 750 millions. Wise and courageous aims. The one child policy came from that and succeeded very well to limit the growth rate to just 0.5% and cut the expected population by some 400 millions people. But despite this marvelous effort it could not cut the actual population growth - the current population is nearly three times the population of 1948!
In addition, the ability of the central government to influence local affairs, which is the key to actual developments and the rule of some level of law, is limited. Regional leaders are very powerful and influence local development by often making their own rules and even breaking national guidelines.
China not only has cheap labor in combination with low cost capital, it also does not insist on profit. Full employment is the key goal. Therefore, their competitive position borders on illegal product dumping.
In contrast, we must follow long established safety laws, environmental protection laws, pay social security taxes, income tax, sales tax, and many other requirements (which I agree with) undercutting most western industries ability to compete with an industry that ignores almost anything but current minimal salaries to a vast labor pool. Most of their product undercut substantially similar US products.
But much of China low cost products also come with big negatives: internally high pollution, and low quality and even dangerous products. It is not only that the color of a toy will fade faster but that dangerous lead paint will be used in children toys. Or dangerous chemicals will be used to modify milk products killing hundreds. Or the death of hundreds (thousands?) of children when their schools buildings collapsed on them in an earthquake because the concrete was well below specified strength- to increase builder's profits.
I will discuss this important aspect of Chinese products at another time.
DO NOT EXPECT CHINA TO BEHAVE ACCORDING TO OUR WESTERN MORALITY AND OUR THEORETICAL LEVEL OF INTEGRITY. We do not do that fully ourselves.
I just wrote this for the very popular GW site of Dr. Joseph Romm: Climate Progress. He asked what could we could have done better in the fight against GW.
Despite being an environmental scientist with decades of work in technology, including wind energy, it took me several years of soul searching to start to grasp the enormity of this human dilemma. We must internalize that Global warming is the most significant event of all human civilization, and therefore we are unable to deal with it emotionally. We think and write as if we have time to select alternatives, to wait for the political process to move, but we do not.
Even the most ardent fighters against global warming, with few exceptions, did not yet internalize the reality of this unique period humanity is in. We must grasp that all the normal forces of nature are moving in the opposite direction that humanity needs: to slow down even slightly the accelerating warming of the planet.
We are unable to change the following direction:
A finite Earth with rapidly increasing population, wanting higher standard of living, demanding more energy, mostly fossil, generating huge amount of CO2, warming the planet, melting its ice coverage, causing positive feedback that may lead to catastrophic release of additional global warming gases.
And against this reality we argue if it is more effective to be polite to the president, among other things.
Again, we the people who are strongly concerned about the impacts of GW are not able to grasp, to internalize, yet, the severity of the emergency we are in.
Read on this website below:
TIME-CRITICALITY OF GLOBAL WARMING
Polls indicate that only 6% of US scientists consider themselves Republicans!
That can explain why the Republicans members of Congress and most Republicans, can not accept the reality of global warming. They are afraid of reality.
To be a scientist you need to be open to reality, understand and accept facts, separate your personal bias from your research, and be willing to be found wrong if the evidence indicates so.
Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible, to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure.
The open scientific method is unacceptable to most Republicans. This is why so few scientists are Republicans.
Most Republicans are unable and unwilling to accept facts that do not agree with their ideology. And this ideology is based on the dreams of the inherent superiority of the US, and our "ability" to rule over nature.
We all fear change. Our world was so secure. We won WWII, the "good war". We were respected around the world. We went to the moon in a few years. We destroyed the Evil Empire. We were the center of the universe in our minds. We were Americans.
All of these are changing rapidly; many of the things that formed the core of our everyday life are no longer able to hold us up. Terrorism shows our military weakness, our currency is weaker than the Euro, and the Chinese are the biggest producers in the world. Our wealth is flowing overseas in big chunks yearly. Our financial systems nearly collapse. Our homes are no longer our source of wealth. These are just some examples why we are so fearful.
We try to hold on to the past to reduce our fear of the unknown future. Too many Republicans reject reality.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
We can not hold on to the past. It has never worked. Humans were able to leave their caves and create modern societies by rejecting superstition and accepting facts and using reason. This openness to facts eventually progressed to develop the scientific method which accepts the physical reality of our universe.
Let's be clear: Too many Democrats are also unable to fully grasp the danger and reality of Global Warming. If they did their Congresspersons would not be so reluctant to fight GW on the scale it must be fought.
Of all advanced countries, only the US is refusing to do anything about GW!
Our self centeredness is deteriorating the global climate and increasing human suffering day by day.
This is a good site to look at from time to time to remind us where we are and where we are headed steadily. Our CO2 now is 392. The historical level in the last 400,000 years was 280. The maximum scientists believe the Earth can tolerate without severe degradation is 350. The "best" estimate is 550 by 2050. Yet, we are doing nothing to slow this rapid rise.
"We know that before 2050, atmospheric CO2 will cross the 500 ppm threshold, a level last seen during the Eocene, 55 million to 36 million yeas ago. There were palm trees in Wyoming and crocodiles in the Arctic then. Antarctica was a coniferous forest, Because there was no continental ice sheets, sea level was 100 meter [328 feet] higher than today."
The Power Problem
Conquering carbon and climate change
Harvard magazine 2006
China is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and would continue to be a much larger emitter as its economy grows in its customary rapid rate of close to ten percent. India would be the second over time.
China is the most dangerous country to global survival since no matter what all other developed countries TOGETHER will be adding to GHG; China's would still be larger by a considerable factor.
China communist leadership decided decades ago to copy the economic model of the Western world instead of developing a unique path that could suit their own special situation better. They assumed that the "old, proven" economic growth of the West over last half a century is the way to go.
But China circumstances are so different from the West, especially our open markets and freedom of financial institutions to "innovate" new methods to drain huge profits from uncontrolled financial instruments- as we saw in the last decades. These freedoms put the world at peak economic crises that are still unresolved.
I expected, erroneously, that their central government, free from our type of political pressure and narrow mindlessness, would allow them to see through some of our key mistakes, but not so. They still think too much like us in many negative respects.
China arrived by trial and error at a mix economic model: overall national control of the of the nation's finances, holding of huge capital reserves, and nearly complete freedom for any local business to innovate and build with minimal supervision or standards.
The problem I want to focus on now is that China national control of its international currency exchange rate has distorted the basis of the key international agreement of floating exchange rates. The freedom of the markets to continuously vary the value of each national currency helps stabilize national economies and provide a more fair international trade. China helds its currency fixed at very low level for many years to allow it to export products at lower cost while making imports much more expensive, resulting in huge benefit to it at a high cost to the rest of the exporting world.
The continuous attempts by the US [the biggest importer of China products] and other nations to gently prod China to allow freer and more rapid changes in its currency was rejected until recently. But China's recent response is a fake; it allows a minor fluctuation of its currency, in the order of just 2%.
So, here we are with a country that is determined to rebuff legitimate international needs and pressure to fully satisfy its own desires.
China maximizing its export at high costs to other nations is a dangerous sign for global warming cooperation. China leadership still does not grasp that we are all in the same sinking boat. If China will do the same regarding GHG emissions, maximize its economy and thus increase its huge GHG emissions, the global community could not curtail GW almost at all. All international efforts would be negligible compare to the huge emissions by China [and India].
But China is already doing just that, it fully refused to commit to any meaningful reduction in GHG. All its statements are essentially nonsense, [the same as the US] and any one who does not see through them is not a realist.
Like the USA, the way China is going now re. GW is window dressing. We can not expect any meaningful cooperation from them. The fact that they are installing vast amount of wind energy, the fact that they are installing more than ten nuclear power plants in the next decade are of such a small scale compare to the problem that it is essentially useless. According to some estimates, may be they could reduce their vast future emissions by 10%, if we are lucky.
Frankly, I was hoping that China's leadership would be able to look at the future with clearer eyes than the politically very limited US Congress and Administration. But so far I am mistaken. I still hope that they will force us to deal with GW in much more realistic terms.
Anything we did up to now globally is inadequate, or more correctly, window dressing, nothing of substance. And the window of opportunity to prevent some of the more serious damages to our small globe is closing very fast.
Liberal US Judaism lost its compass
For many decades modern liberal Judaism in the US has focused its main attention on Tikkun Olam, making this world a better place for all humanity. The idea was to make the outstanding Jewish Mitzvot [commandments] relevant to today's world by minimizing human suffering. Kashrut [Kosher] laws were changed, for example, to be concerned about animal welfare. Our Mitzvot that focused on Jewish welfare were broadened to care for people suffering every where, such as Darfur.
Tikkun Olam is not about trivia, about doing what is relatively easy and may be popular. It is extending yourself beyond your comfort zone. It is breaking barriers, fighting seriously for an important human cause. About making real impact on the world.
We were active in the anti-discrimination movement from the beginning. Who does not remember the murder of the Jewish youngster in the South while registering African Americans?
Who does not remember Rabbi Heschel marching hand-in-hand in protest with Reverend Martin Luther King?
But for the last decade we are ignoring the key Tikkun Olam issue of our times; the unique, all encompassing danger to all humanity- Global Warming.
Individual Jews are heavily involve in this issue, but I am talking about the liberal jewish community as a powerful voice- and that I do not hear yet. I have tried to interest Jewish leaders on a national scale in Global Warming, but with no result. There are some minor involvement is "eat locally grown food," or minor sustainability issues, but they are all minor and would not impact global warming. Liberal Jews, like many Americans, are mainly focused on their own private lives, or some good souls on the immediate community. May be they feel Global Warming is the problem of the non Jews, not ours. It is not a Jewish issue like Soviet Jewry was. Or is it?
Is the survival of modern life, the sustainability of our world, the pending suffering of hundreds of millions of people across the globe less important than any other issue?
I have seen nearly zero participation from the Jewish community in my own town- Sacramento, and the United States in this subject. Some local actions are commendable, but ineffective. We need national voice, a powerful one.
Unless we raise large outcry, create political pressure of large magnitude, it will be ignored by the President and Congress. Congressman Waxman of Los Angeles and Senator Boxer of California have put their careers on the line to advance the fight against Global Warming. I hope they have substantial private support from powerful Jews, but they do not get the support from the Jewish community nation wide on the scale they need and deserve.
Yes, some Jewish leaders went to Congress to express their concerns about GW, but that is about that. That's nice but not influential. Congress does listen to a mass public pressure- letters and phone calls, but they did not witness any significant, consistent, Jewish public outcry about the lack of action in Congress. Even Conservative Christian groups are working hard against Global Warming, why are we so late in our grasp of the issue?
I do not see any mass Jewish movement, no mass literature, and no repeated discussions in Temples, nearly nothing of substance. I read nothing in the mass media or the web either on a strong Jewish presence on Global Warming.
As long as we are not working hard, taking chances to reduce the danger of global worming, we are not contributing to human survival. Up to now, I have to conclude, we have lost our desire to make this world a better place to all humanity. We have lost our focus on real Tikkun Olam.
O' Yes, it is also an issue of Jewish survival; when our world would be in the midst of global suffering due to the deterioration of the climate, Jews may be again the key scapegoat.
Central to the things that we must do is to recognize that population growth is the immediate cause of all our resource and environmental crises.
Dr. Albert Bartlett:
I am shaking my head as I study population trends of different countries. I read about this subject quite a bit during my UCLA studies for my doctorate in Environmental Science. I did my first population study: Family Planning in the People's Republic of China in 1974, and several other population studies a few years ago. Except China and Europe, for all practical purpose, the world population has continued to increase with some slow down. The majority of world leadership has closed its eyes on this crucial subject. Even when global warming [GW] is discussed in depth, population growth is rarely on the agenda.
A lot of statistics are available; all are unsettling, since nation after nation is unable to grasp the explosive situation we are in. Let's look at just one example- Egypt.
In 1950 Egypt population was 22 million, now it is 75 million! More than three times larger. They still have the same amount of arable land, but it is less fertile now and less water from the Nile River, their main source of livelihood. Result? More poverty and population dissatisfaction. Western people are unable to grasp the level of deep poverty in the slums of Cairo, for example, it is similar to India's notorious slums.
Obviously, this population growth leads to larger use of resources, more food, more clothing, more electricity, that is: more energy and more GHG emissions.
Egypt has to be governed by dictatorship since otherwise the population would revolt.
"Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity can not survive overpopulation.
Convenience and decency can not survive overpopulation.
As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It does not matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one individual maters."
But my main emphasis here is about the global survival and our ability to curtail population growth, so let's return to it:
We can grasp the changes in Egypt, the numbers are within our understanding, but the real problem is global population increase from today's already unsustainable 6.8 Billon people to over 9 Billion in the next three decades. And we have known about it for decades.
In 200 years global population grew 6 times!
1800 - 1 Billion
1900 - 1.8 B
1950 - 2.5 B
1960 - 3 B
1980 - 4.5 B
2000 - 6 B
The crucial issue of population growth is rarely mentioned when GW is discussed in the halls of governments, congress, and the media. It is a taboo. We look at it as a problem for the developing world, mostly Africa, India and China. Europe can not mention it because their own smaller population has already all the modern comforts and their populations are mostly stabilized.
The US population is growing slowly, but our high demand for comfort dictates very high energy use and large GHG emissions second only to China. We are 4.5% of the global population and consume about one quarter [25%] of all global resources. So, we have a real population problem as far as energy and GHG emissions are concerned. And these cause GW. The US emitted to date around 30% of all accumulated GHG!
Developing countries do not want any one to interfere with their own population policies. The result is that the rapid population growth is hindering most efforts to fight GW.
We will always stay behind the ability to supply low-carbon energy as long as energy demand continues to grow rapidly due to population growth.
Even if we stood still in our energy demand, the task is nearly insurmountable, the use of energy from all fossil sources is so large, and it is close to impossible to replace it in the short time frame we must do it to slow down GW. Add to it the need to chase the energy demands of a growing population- the task is nearly impossible.
So many "green" commentators tell us that if we can just put more wind energy farms across the land or put photovoltaic on every roof, or more thermal solar in the deserts. The problem of curtailing GHG emissions would be solved. With all due respect to their strong love of humanity- this is sheer dreaming. They are unable to grasp the magnitude of the energy problem, the shortage of time to cut very significantly GHG and the need to change almost every thing we are doing. Nothing will change sufficiently to make any impact on GHG emissions if we continue according to the old way of thinking. Congress is offering us energy bills that are easy to swallow, but they will have negligible impacts on GW. Major sacrifices have to be made.
The POPUATION BOMB book was published more than 40 years ago, and the global population has been going up before and after that book at a fast rate, a rate that can not be sustained without severely aggravating the damage to the global climate.
Is there anything that can be done to significantly reduce the growth of global population that we may have a modicum of chance to slow the GHG emissions?
The facts are against that possibility.
Consider the following:
1. The growth of China and India populations is the key to global population impacts on global warming because they have the largest populations and their rate of modernization is the most significant.
2. Both China and India expect major shifts in population from poverty and very low income to the middle class. Some 200 million in each country are projected to move from rural poverty to urban areas with considerably higher standard of living in the next decade or so. Note that India population is 71% rural, and 29% urban. Also half the population does not even have electricity. Therefore, the shift would multiply energy demand by a massive factor.
3. That population shift by China and India would increase their energy use by an amount equivalent to current US use..
US energy use per GDP is four times better than India or China. Therefore, their new urban population has to increase their standard of living to just one quarter of the US level to cause the same energy and GHG impacts as a full new USA!
Again, although this combined population shift of 400 million would not gain the US standard of living in this period, they are likely to use as much energy as the USA uses now.
4. You can't reduce the desire for sex. The sex drive is a basic human need and can not be changed.
5. Free use of contraception of all types can not reduce population growth significantly to the level needed, and in the time frame needed. Even China tried it. It did not work.
6. The only methods that achieved fast population reductions to date are either massive war [50 million deaths WWII] or mandatory "one-child" laws in China, [China reduction of 400 million potential births].
7. It is not possible to copy the unique China experience without rigid control on the country.
8. Most countries are "freedom loving" and would not accept population control like in China.
9. If India could impose full human rights to most women in a very short time, women would be able to use all means of birth control, including abortion, at will. This change in women's freedom is impossible in the time frame we are discussing in a country deep in old traditions that have not changed in centuries among the majority of the rural population.
10. The current accumulation of children and young people in India [and other high population growth countries] will force high population growth rate independent of any new and even drastic population control attempts.
This is destiny, not open to adjustments or question.
11. Some 3/4 of India population is in the child-bearing age.
Median population age is 24 years; 32% of the population is below 14 years! India Population growth rate is 1.38%. It is not a high rate per se, some Muslim countries have over 3% rate, but because India has a large population it has a very high impact.
12. Approximately one forth of India rural population [200 million] is expected to be urbanized in the next decade or so. That move is expected to be accompanied by reduce population growth in this portion of the population.. How much would the national growth drops by this is not yet clear. The current average rate of India is 2.65 children born/woman.
13. China, with slightly higher population has a dictated low rate of only 0.5% due to its one child policy- that is not fully followed. Even this 0.5% is too high for China. Their official aim was/is to have a negative rate to drop to 700 million.
"The first law of sustainability: population growth and/or growth in the rate of consumption of resources can not e sustained."
Dr. Albert A. Bartlett
It would be nearly impossible to reduce global population growth by a significant amount to help in the struggle against global warming. We do not have the time for slow changes.
And rapid population reductions are not possible, short of massive wars or massive famines.
Regarding the American Power Act, the Lieberman- Kerry bill in the Senate.
There are many in the middle environmental mix who say- support this bill because it is the best we can get now. Not only that, the Democrats will lose their ability to gather sufficient votes after the next election.
My first inclination is: something is better than nothing, but a somber thought is also present. Can I ignore reality to get a good feeling that we are actually moving forward?
Here is the reality:
The main emitters by far will be China and India. China is already the biggest emitter and increasing so rapidly. And China is actually doing nothing of substance to cut its GHG. All their emphasis on green technology will have minuscule impact and is basically to make money, not to reduce their GHG. They and India are working hard to build several hundred millions cars in each country. Their buildings are not insulated. Their main energy is and will be coal. Read the latest Sierra Club Magazine for examples. The amount of GHG from China over the next two decades would be five to ten times the total of the rest of the developed world even if we do not reduce it at all! We must grasp that whatever we cut in the US and Europe is insignificant as far as GW is concerned, but important for other reasons.
So, how do we impress China to cut its GHG by a very significant amount? We have the carrot and the stick options. We put carbon tax on their imports to us at the level equivalent to our own carbon tax. And we may have some "moral" influence if we actually do cut ours by such a large amount that we can show some suffering. They are not willing to reduce their drive for modernization and expect 200 millions additional rural Chinese to move to high-energy urban areas. Also, our leverage is becoming smaller all the time since they are driving now to reduce their dependence on exports and be more internal market oriented. With time they will achieve that since they will have the economic mass within their own borders.
By the time we and they realize that GW is already here and the evidence are overwhelming, it would be too late to do anything to stop the global heating.
I have high respect for the Chinese and am glad they had the Communist revolution and the one child policy. That would not be possible without the type of government they now have. Otherwise they would have been 400 millions more Chinese now demanding more and more energy. But we must accept that the Chinese are very clever and also devious people. The way we view morality [but do not really practice] is not practiced in china. They would not give an inch. They will look at every step they can take to get the maximum for themselves. As we are inclined to do also.
So? We must somehow find ways to truly cooperate to cut the ever increasing danger of not only GW but reducing the likelihood of catastrophic climate events.
How will this bill, which is environmentally a sham, could change the attitude of China and the rest of the world? They are not as stupid as most of the American public. Their media will point out clearly that we are cheating and we are cutting our GHG by only 4% vs. theirs 30%.
Can you give me a sound, realistic way that this bill should not be defeated?
It seems to me that the worst thing we can do, which this bill does, is lie to ourselves and attempt to lie to a world that would see very well through our lies.
While we are contemplating all the agonies and damages the oil spill in the Gulf is causing, let's think a little deeper, about the ocean itself.
We use the ocean as dumping grounds, we use the oceans to get our sea foods, we use the oceans for recreation, and it gives us access to some of our oil supply, but we forgot that the ocean is a living thing, perhaps the most crucial element of this Earth.
US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said long ago that: "Trees should have standing" too in the courts of law to be protected as equals, not just be used by humanity. The same should be said now about the ocean. We have forgotten how crucial is the ocean to the life of this limited Earth.
The oceans keep us alive.
The oceans cover 71% of the Earth surface, its average depth is 12,000 feet, and it is the most significant absorber of carbon gas. The oceans stabilize the global temperatures because of their massive energy mass. And the oceans supply most of the oxygen to the earth living things, and the oceans drive the global water cycle.
The oceans have been stabilized by nature over millions of years and kept this Earth livable. We have been playing with this gift of nature and it is deteriorating in front of our eyes in speeds never experienced before in nature, possibly a thousand times aster than previous massive global changes.
We have overfished most of all the edible fish supplies in the oceans. We are draining much of our poisonous fertilizers into the ocean creating massive dead zones devoid of living things.
We have damped so much plastics that there a "Plastic Central" in the middle of the Pacific ocean, a vast pool of plastic junk covering hundreds of square miles, interfering with the natural flow of marine life.
And we have succeeded to rise the ocean temperature [the upper 2,000 feet] by over half a degree C, a very significant amount for the vastness of the oceans.
And to top it of, our global CO2 emissions increased the ocean acidity sufficiently to damage the skeletons of marine organisms and killing of many corrals colonies, the breading grounds of many fish and other sea life.
The temperature rise, and the related changes of natural near- shore upwelling of ocean waters is decreasing the supply of nutrition, the most basic food chain for ocean organism, thus decreasing the ocean food production.
Over 50,000 cargo ships in the world are emptying their sewer and contaminated ballast-water into the oceans.
Major oil spills get notorious attention, but beyond the US there are ongoing smaller oil spills in nearly every oil region in coastal areas and in the oceans that are accepted as normal, and no one is allowed to do anything to stop them. They are just part of our business as usual approach to environmental damages. This is happening for some time even in Canada!
The major rivers of China and India, for example, empty their contaminated waters directly into the ocean. And many other nations are doing the same. Our high water discharge standards are rare in the world.
The ocean used to absorb 60% of global CO2, but now it can absorb just 55% because of its higher temperature and higher acidity.
And these are just some of the ways we treat our life-giving oceans.
You combine all of these assaults on the oceans and they are losing their ability to sustain us as global climate stabilizer and the main protein supplier for billions of people.
How long can this be going on without catastrophic, irreversible impact?
I wish it would not be the case, but I believe we must start now R&D on geoengineering.
For a long time I opposed anything to do with geoengineering, the massive processes that could artificially reduce the warming of the earth, for all the known objections:
1. It would reduce our effort to do the required hard things: significant cutting of global GHG emissions.
2. Playing with global forces is highly risky. The potential for overshoot; that manipulating the global environment could cool the earth too much and instead bring in a new ice age.
3. The amount of CO2 and other GHG would continue to increase and add to the already large environmental damage, such as increase acidity of the oceans, disturb the climatic balance and make it more erratic, leading to increased weather instabilities.
4. Geoengineering is much cheaper than cutting GHG therefore, nations, private institutions, or even some wealthy people could start their own weather modifications leading to unknown climate changes.
We know that the danger to the global climate is increasing rapidly. The amount of GHG in the atmosphere is steadily increasing instead of decreasing. And it is expected to increase in a faster rate than before due to the "modernization." of China and India. In addition, the evidence is clear that we are not likely to cut the global GHG emissions in the future as science indicates we must. What's more, the likelihood that we will do it in time to avert tipping points, catastrophic climate events, is increasing all the time since the temperature is increasing.
Furthermore, global cooperation is much further away than we hoped for. The economic competition is so strong that cooperation for our common survival is not promising at all.
Therefore, it is fairly clear that we are unable, at least up to now, to comprehend that we are all in the same sinking boat and it is leaking heavily AND WE DO NOT HAVE MORE SPARE TIME. We have little choice, we must start developing geoengineering systems. At least to give us time to, maybe, to overcome our resistance to global cooperation.
Again: The main reason I see why we must start internationally controlled R&D on geoengineering is the high likelihood that nations, organizations or well off people will start doing their own climate modifications without global control.
That can lead to gross errors and catastrophic events much faster than a globally controlled, scientific, well thought out R&D on geoengineering.
1. It is cheap and easy to do geoengineering privately away from international control. This is highly dangerous.
2. We need an iron clad international control, way beyond nuclear control, using military power to impose it, and that it remains only international.
3. Must continue to fight GW by cutting GHG much more than before, but we know China and India and our own inaction, or minimal action, are useless in scope.
4. Not starting to find out now the potential benefits and dangers of geoengineering, and not developing tight control over it could be worse than anything.
Below is a good summary on the inadequacy of the Cap & Trade system.
The Washington Post
Global warming is our biggest environmental problem, and carbon offsets are one of our biggest barriers to a solution.
You know the idea: Let's make climate rescue painless by paying Zambian farmers not to till their soil while America continues its oil- and coal-burning binge. Carbon "sequestered" in the soil -- or in tropical trees -- at one location will "offset" carbon emitted at another.
But the concept requires absolute and permanent knowledge of human activity everywhere on Earth. Were the Zambian farmers letting the land go fallow anyway? Will they avoid tilling forever? Will the purchased forest never see a chain saw or a wildfire?
Tragically, the cap-and-trade bill passed last year by the House of Representatives allows up to 2 billion tons of carbon offsets per year for U.S. companies. This turned the bill into a joke, making it possible for carbon emissions to actually rise in America for the next two decades.
Yes, offsets are cheap. Poor farmers don't need much money to make a promise. But only a hard cap on emissions, free of offsets and trading, will actually decarbonize our economy.
Offsets are ethically troubling, as well. They allow rich countries such as the United States to avoid full responsibility for their actions. One British critic made the point with a parody site, cheatneutral.com. Here, people who cheat on their spouses can pay 2.50 British pounds (slightly less than $4) into a fund that will absolve them of guilt by sending the money to noncheaters as a reward for their fidelity. This way marital cheating can continue -- but everyone wins on paper, and everyone feels better, right?
Big cuts in carbon pollution are achievable in America, and in a cost-effective way, but only if environmental champions stop falling for offsets.
Mike Tidwell is the director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. He can be reached at mikewtidwell@gmail.
I was listening last night to a discussion on energy and global warming at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. It was interesting and the speakers presented their arguments well. Except they essentially ignored the most critical aspect of global warming, the critically of time. Too many of their "solutions" would take so long to implement that by that time we would lose our ability to slow the increase in global temperature.
They did not seem to me to grasp how deeply we are already into this critical phase. They did not show that time is not on our side. And this time element is the most crucial aspect of fighting global warming effectively! Every day we add globally over 70 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and it will remain there for many centuries.
Many of their key arguments seemed reasonable unless you realize that we are already approaching tipping points that would have positive feedback and, by them selves, would continue to add to the temperature increase even without any addition of Greenhouse Gases, GHG.
Many proposed "solutions" by the speakers and others could have been useful several decades ago when we had time to reduce GHG emissions without disturbing the economy or our way of life. But this is no longer possible.
Some want to leave the price of energy low, for example, not to change our comfortable way of life. This is not possible any longer. We need to concentrate on options that can make very large impacts in the shortest time possible.
As a second priority we should also do R&D and demonstrations of promising technologies, but technologies per se would not save us. And I am saying it as electrical engineer with a considerable background in technology. We want the same easy, energy wasting, ways of life that led us to this global tragedy in the first place. Most of us still do not grasp at all how dire is the situation already.
One of the main contributor to this misunderstanding, it seems to me, is the "certainty" that the IPCC gave to the target of 450 ppm of CO2 equ. and to the time frame it attached to it, 2050, as if our knowledge is so precise. Most people in the field, not the scientists, feel that we have 40 years to move in. Not so, we do not!
We must start with a Step function (Big-Bang as Paul Krugman calls it) to reduce global GHG, and we must pay the price for it. We should not start with a slow implementation that would be gradually ratchet up with time to reduce the economical impact of fighting global warming.
We have to remember that we are already in the midst of the following negative environmental events that are likely to be self-sustaining: Just a few examples:
First - the key impact: In the recent past an emission of one ton of CO2 was partially absorbed by nature, mostly the oceans and forests, and only 0.45 ton remained in the atmosphere to add to the long term CO2 already stored there. Lately it was determined that the absorption dropped and now 0.55 ton remains and added to the accumulation. This is a considerable increase.
That may have been caused partially by the increase of the oceans average temperature by half a degree C in the last two decades. A half degree increase is a enormous amount of energy of the oceans that cover 71% of the surface of the globe. The higher the ocean temperature, the lower its ability to absorb CO2.
In addition the global absorption is reduced by the decrease of forest coverage, mainly forest burnings in Borneo and Brazil, and most significantly* cutting in the Boreal Forests.
This reduce absorption was probably caused by the followings, and other elements we still are not sure of:
1. Some 10.5% of the surface of the Earth is covered by snow and ice- a huge amount. This area faced major reductions in the last decades, which accelerated in the last two decades.
2. The positive feedback (ice to sea) of the global melt of glaciers, and the ice sheets in Greenland. Lately some is melting in the "West wing" of the South pole.
3. Due to longer warm period and less ice coverage, the Tundra changed from net absorber of small amount of CO2, to net emitter of methane.
4. Major infestation and clearing of the very significant tree coverage of the Boreal forests. According to a map I just saw, they are decreasing significantly, by about 1.5% to 2.85% per year between 2000-2005. *[Atlas of Global Conservation -Forest Clearing- Nature Conservancy//spring 2010.]
5. Recent research indicates that some small amount of methane is being release from the ocean floor in the now warmer seas north of Russia. This may or may not become more significant with time, but it could increase because the temperatures of the North Seas region are projected to increase by a significant amount more than the average global temperatures. Possibly as much as 9 degrees by the end of this century or earlier.
These are but a few of the things we are aware of that indicate that we do not have much time to reduce significantly our global emissions of GHG.
Some of the exchanges with colleagues regarding the limited actions taken during and past Copenhagen Accord.
Matania, The article below matches Bill McKibben's choice of title for his book, Eaarth. The extra a is there because the earth is a changed place, not what we grew up in nor what our societies developed in. He says 1 deg C has happened and is causing bigger and faster changes than were expected by the scientists. 2 deg C will happen even if we proceed to cut C emissions fast. 6-7 deg C would be a disaster, maybe end civilization (maybe, not sure he said that). From what I recall, he did not comment on 3 deg C, which this BBC News correspondent's report does, and this BBC one suggests that 3 deg C would be really bad, namely:
Between now and 2020, global emissions are likely to rise by 10-20%, they calculate, and the chances of passing 3C by 2100 are greater than 50%.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this implies a range of serious impacts for the world, including
- significant falls in crop yields across most of the world
- damage to most coral reefs
- likely disruption to water supplies for hundreds of millions of people.
Matania, in addition -- Bill McKibben spoke at the World Affairs Council "It's Your World"
Major points: 1 deg C and 380 ppm CO2 has been enough to melt the Arctic and raise ocean acidity and raise water vapor in the atmosphere by 5%. 2 deg C warming is already going to happen due to CO2 already in the atmosphere and the inevitable amount in the pipeline of human fossil fuel use. Already, therefore, we have Eaarth replacing the Earth that existed the past 10,000 years.
Friend: M. PhD Physics
'Paltry' carbon curbs point to 3C
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News
Pledges made at December's UN summit in Copenhagen are unlikely to keep global warming below 2C, a study concludes.
Writing in the journal Nature, analysts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany say a rise of at least 3C by 2100 is likely.
The team also says many countries, including EU members and China, have pledged slower carbon curbs than they have been achieving anyway.
They say a new global deal is needed if deeper cuts are to materialise.
"There's a big mismatch between the ambitious goal, which is 2C... and the emissions reductions," said Potsdam's Malte Meinshausen.
" It is like racing towards the cliff and hoping you stop just before it "
Dr Malte Meinshausen
"The pledged emissions reductions are in most cases very unambitious," he told BBC News.
In their Nature article, the team uses stronger language, describing the pledges as "paltry".
"The prospects for limiting global warming to 2C - or even to 1.5C, as more than 100 nations demand - are in dire peril," they conclude.
Between now and 2020, global emissions are likely to rise by 10-20%, they calculate, and the chances of passing 3C by 2100 are greater than 50%.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this implies a range of serious impacts for the world, including
- significant falls in crop yields across most of the world
- damage to most coral reefs
- likely disruption to water supplies for hundreds of millions of people.
More than 120 countries have now associated themselves with the Copenhagen Accord, the political document stitched together on the summit's final day by a small group of countries led by the US and the BASIC bloc of Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
The accord "recognises" the 2C target as indicated by science. It was also backed at last year's G8 summit.
Many of those 120-odd have said what they are prepared to do to constrain their greenhouse gas emissions - either pledging cuts by 2020, in the case of industrialised countries, or promising to improve their "carbon intensity" in the case of developing nations.
Some of the pledges are little more than vague statements of intent. But all developed countries, and the developing world's major emitters, have all given firm figures or ranges of figures.
The EU, for example, pledges to cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020; China promises to improve carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020 compared against 2005; and Australia vows an emission cut of 5-25% on 2000 levels by 2020.
The Potsdam team concludes that many of the detailed pledges are nowhere near as ambitious as their proponents would claim.
They calculate that the EU's 20% pledge implies an annual cut of 0.45% between 2010 and 2020, whereas it is already achieving annual reductions larger than that.
EUROPE'S 'AMBITIOUS' CARBON CUTS
The Potsdam team calculates that the EU's emissions have fallen on average by 0.6% per year since 1980
During 2009, emissions from the bloc's power sector alone fell by 11% owing to the recession
Consequently, the current 20% by 2020 pledge equates to 0.45% per year - less than the historical average
China's 40% minimum pledge also amounts to nothing more than business as usual, they relate; and among developed countries, only pledges by Norway and Japan fall into the 25-40% by 2020 range that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends as necessary to give a good chance of meeting the 2C target.
Whereas many countries, rich and poor, have indicated they are willing to be more ambitious if there is a binding global deal, the Potsdam team notes that in the absence of a global deal, only the least ambitious end of their range can be counted upon.
Writing in the BBC's Green Room this week, Bryony Worthington from the campaign group Sandbag argues that the EU can easily move to its alternative higher figure of 30% - and that it must, if it wants to stimulate others to cut deeper.
"Many countries are looking to Europe to show how it is possible to achieve growth without increasing emissions," she said.
"Only when they see that this is possible will they be inclined to adopt absolute reduction targets of their own."
An additional factor flagged up in the analysis is that many countries have accrued surplus emissions credits under the Kyoto Protocol.
Countries such as Russia and other former Eastern bloc nations comfortably exceeded their Kyoto targets owing to the collapse of Communist economies in the early 1990s.
Without a binding global agreement preventing the practice, these nations would be allowed to put these "banked" credits towards meeting any future targets - meaning they would have to reduce actual emissions less than they promised.
These "hot air" credits could also be traded between nations.
This is not the first analysis of the Copenhagen Accord pledges, but it is one of the starkest.
Lord Stern's team at the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in London has also run the figures; and although their conclusions on the numbers are similar, they do not see things in quite such a pessimistic light.
"You cannot characterise an emissions path for a country or the world by focusing solely on the level in 2020 or any other particular date," said the institute's principal research fellow Alex Bowen.
"It is the whole path that matters, and if more action is taken now to reduce emissions, less action will be required later, and vice versa."
The Potsdam team acknowledges that if emissions do rise as they project, it would still be possible to have a reasonable chance of meeting 2C if very strict carbon curbs were applied thereafter, bringing emissions down by 5% per year or so.
"In an ideal world, if you pull off every possible emission reduction from the year 2021 onwards, you can still get to get to 2C if you're lucky," said Dr Meinshausen.
"But it is like racing towards the cliff and hoping you stop just before it."
They argue that positive analyses may "lull decision-makers into a false sense of security".
The UN climate process continues through this year, with many countries saying they still want to reach a binding global agreement by December.
But stark divisions remain between various blocs over emission cuts, finance, technology transfer and other issues; and it is far from certain that all important countries want anything more binding than the current set of voluntary national commitments.
That was my introduction to my talk a few days ago:
If you are driving your car alone in a flat city like Sacramento and you heard strange noises from your breaks, you would think: I better check the breaks some time.
However, if you are driving down a steep mountain road with your kids in the back seat and the road is twisting endlessly, the brakes sound funny, and may not slow you down too well, you will do your utmost to stop and repair the brakes ASAP. The time to think about the breaks is over and you need fast and decisive action at almost any cost. Why, because losing your breaks would be a catastrophic event that could cost the lives of every one who is dear to you, including yourself.
The same holds now for global warming: the time for wishing for perfect solutions, for worrying what the public may think, or how much it may cost is over. All because global warming is both a potential catastrophic event and also highly time -critical.
In all our dealing with global warming we must grasp that humanity does not have any more spare time to argue about it, we have no time and no need to convince skeptics. We do have to start curtailing the continuously growing emission of Greenhouse Gases, GHG, on a massive scale now. That means cut it any place we can across the globe, since we are all in a single boat, and we must cut GHG in a very large quantity since the fast accumulation of GHG is moving us rapidly into a point of no return.
Dr. John Holdren, Director of the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy, one of the most aware and solid scientists about GW said to Congress Dec. 2, 09:
"...the current state of knowledge of global warming is sufficiently clear to state that failure to act promptly to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases is overwhelmly likely to lead to changes in climate too extreme and too damaging to be adequately addressed by any adaptation measure that can be foreseen.... "
Every issue we deal with regarding GW must be viewed from this crucial angle: we are moving very fast into a catastrophic stage. We need to take now the most practical approaches that would have the most pronounced reductions in both the speed and the magnitude of GHG
And that is the way we should view every aspect of GW:
WILL IT CUT A LOT OF GHG FAST ENOUGH TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE,
OR IS IT ESSENTIALLY WINDOW DRESSING?
It is clear that the rapid increase in demand for energy by the major developing countries, mostly China and India, could overshadow any attempt by the developed world to reduce its CO2 emissions.
Therefore, let's look at some of the key uncertainties regarding energy projections for China.
First some personal background: In the Early 70's, as manager of Techno-Economic Dept. at Litton Industries, Data Systems Div. I tried to understand the potential economic growth of likely clients. We sold Military Command and Control Systems to the US military and wanted to expand our markets to foreign governments. I read at the time a book by the futurist Herman Kahn in which he projected the growth of major global economies.
He projected that Japan would be the world powerhouse and overtake the US economy in a few decades.
What was interesting to me was that most of the time he used the existing current growth trends as the key basis to his projections. Japan had then 10% growth. He assumed it would be relatively constant for coming decades. It did not seem solid projection to me. And it was not.
Japan was becoming the world's second largest economy for several decades (average growth rates of 10% in the 1960s, 5% in the 1970s, and 4% in the 1980s until the Japanese Asset Price Bubble crushed in 1989. The Tokyo stock market dropped from near 45,000 to around 15, 000 Yen over a short period. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Japan).
I had watched the Japanese economy over time and a year or two before the collapse I read an article by a Japanese market specialist that explained that one of the key elements lifting their market was the restricted real estate in Tokyo. Vast numbers of Japanese, especially in Tokyo, were experiencing rapid price growth of their small residential units and "invested" major part of it in the "forever growing" stock market. According to that article rural politicians had disproportionally strong political control on the political process and were able to restrict any urban development around Tokyo. That is, no more land was available for new housing and the growth of Tokyo population pushed housing prices very high.
It was easy to conclude from that article that this situation would eventually collapse and the housing market would drop drastically with the bubble stock market tied to it.
It was not clear; however, when this could happen. A friend I shared these views with reminded me a year so later that the collapse followed the path expected in that article.
I detailed the case to point to the fact that we can not predict the future economy based on current trends and that there are a very large number of unknowns facing China and its economy. Several of these are national-survival dilemmas.
Let's look at some of China's major unknowns:
To understand China we must think in terms of the needs of China, as they see it, and not from the Western, mostly personal interest point of view. We also must focus on the GW implications.
0. It seems to me that the central government demonstrated in the last few decades, after the destructive decade of the Mao Cultural Revolution, its keen desire for stability and middle ground to benefit the nation as a whole at considerable success with benefits and also costs to the general population. If you do not grasp that just study how the majority of Chinese lived until the Communist Revolution.
I assume here that that trend would continue. The new generation of current and upcoming leaders has engineering education and is less ideology oriented. Also, China national leadership is able to influence national trends in rapid ways due to its very strong, but not complete, central control.
1. Population growth is limited by the one child policy prevailing across much of the country to 0.66%, about half of India.
2. Some 800 millions of China 1.38 billion people still live in primitive rural conditions consuming very little energy. Some 200 millions are expected to migrate to urban areas in the next ten to fifteen years demanding higher energy supply.
3. China economy has been growing at 10% per year until the recent global economic decline.
4. China FAST economic growth was largely based on export. It can not continue like that and internal growth is becoming larger by both government influence and increased internal demand.
5. China has some 1.5 Trillion dollars in US Treasuries- equal to the Japanese holding, with one key difference: The Japanese holding is spread across a vast private industry. However, almost all of the US dollar holding in China is in the hand of the central government. In fact, it uses these funds to influence provincial and local governments to follow the central government line.
6. China CO2 per Dollar GDP is four times larger that the US, leaving China large room to improve its CO2 per GDP. If we assume that the economy would increase by 10% per year, the increase in CO2 emissions could be lower by increasing its CO2 efficiency per dollar GDP.
If we assume that it would do that, with large and consistent assistance from the developing world plus its own increasing ingenuity and drive, it can improve its CO2 to GDP by at least 5%/year. With that China could reach the US level in three decades. It may seem fast, but it is not rapid enough to meet GW urgent needs.
THEREFORE, THE NET RISE OF CO2 DURING THE NEXT THREE DECADES COULD BE IN THE RANGE OF "ONLY" 5%/YR NET. HOWEVER THE GLOBAL NEED IS TO CUT GHG EMISSIONS BY 80% OFF CURRENT LEVEL OF SOME 30 B TONS/YR BEFORE 2050.
THESE DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSING PROJECTIONS ARE CLEARLY ON A COLLISION COURSE.
More bad news about China:
1. China has vast arid regions which have been expanding rapidly in the last decades needing population transfer, mass forestation and water supply projects-all demanding massive energy.
2. The major sources of water are the main rivers fed by the Himalayas mountain region. These rivers are over used, polluted and are shrinking from the increasing demand by the urban population and expanding industry. In addition the rapid expansion of electricity generating station, 80% of which are coal driven, demand vast amount of cooling water.
3. The Himalaya region is larger than Europe and stores immense amount of water in its many glaciers. They have been melting in rapid rates for several decades. In some locations the extra melt waters are a temporary blessing, which would diminish with time. In other locations it causes floods, wash away large amount of fertile top soil and create temporary unstable lakes.
Over the next few decades, the melting of the Himalayas thousand years snow pack would not be able to supply sufficient water to the current population of about 2 billion people in the surrounding nations, and the expected increase in population.
4. China, like other nations, will need to supply water to a growing population while the main sources of its water are shrinking. The only solution (in addition to conservation) is water desalination which takes a vast amount of energy. Again the two opposing demands can not be met. China (and all of us) must reduce GHG emissions rapidly while they must increase the use of GHG-producing energy supply to survive.
Imagine the dilemma of the Chinese leadership knowing all these conflicts and trying to find some reasonable solutions.
From one side their population needs for energy are rapidly increasing, from another side this increase in energy demand accelerates GW and destroys the very foundation of their society water and food supplies.
The current economic Bubble in China.
James Chanos, who predicted the Enron downfall, appeared recently on PBS Charlie Rose and predicted the collapse of China apartment bubble. (Chanos specializes in short sell on a large scale of situations like that.)
According to Chanos, the rapid increase in economic growth in the last few years in China is due to a large extent to speculation in high-end apartments in major cities. Some 50 to 60% of the investment in large cities is in unfinished, easy to sell, apartments in high rise. Significant capital has been coming from external speculators and much of the recent financial stimulus of the Chinese economy by its central government probably also has been going to continue this bubble.
These, he emphasized, are not apartment suitable for incoming rural population. They cost in the range of $150,000 while the combined income of even middle class wage earners is in the 10 thousand range. And there is no supply of high income earners that would need these apartments.
This may be important on several fronts: One is that the rapid economic growth of China is unsustainable and is not a basis for valid long term growth projection. Another aspect is that much of the energy demand might have been based on speculating activities and not sustained solid growth, such as infrastructure.
Third, we can not project the energy demand of China with any validity because we do not truly understand and familiar with the Chinese economy. The Chinese are masters in keeping undesirable information to themselves, and also they are not infallible, as we may think. As capable as they are they are probably not wiser than we are. China to a large extent has been following the West's economic model and are too eager "to be like us." And we have revealed our utter ignorance of economic realities coupled by greed across the globe. This desire to follow the West is hurting China considerably.
In short, China is as ignorant and deniers of reality as we are.
If you doubt that just think again about the massive global economic decay that we are still in and will be for some time. Trillions of dollars disappeared in this mess to date, and we are still unaware how many.
With all the complexity mentioned above, and much that we are not aware of, the tendency would be to do little and procrastinate. That is the usual approach that all humanity is taking now. However, to delay tough decisions could be just too late for the Earth ecology to survive.
Sacramento United Nations Association-USA
Dr. Matania Ginosar
"Cap and Trade vs. Carbon Fee"
Monday, April 19, 2010
It is our Chapter's Annual Earth Day program, featuring Dr. Matania Ginosar, Environmental Scientist and Electrical Engineer. Dr. Ginosar has been manager of R&D in Advanced Electronics, a Manager of the Solar Energy Office of the California Energy Commission and a Manager of Wind Energy for the California Energy Commission, where he developed and directed the pioneering Wind Energy program that led to the first commercial wind energy farms.
This is an appropriate time to hear Dr. Ginosar's views on this subject since pending state and federal actions are slated in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., in the next few weeks and months. California AB 32, the landmark climate change bill, is before the state legislature. In Washington Senator Boxer's Energy and Natural Resource Committee will be dealing with very controversial national efforts to slow climate change and protect the health of future generations.
A question and answer session will follow Dr. Ginosar's talk.
NO RESERVATION REQUIRED
6201 S Street
(North of US 50
between 59th and 65th off-ramps)
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My friends sometimes tell me to be more "polite", less direct in my writings and less "truthful". Here is an exchange with one friend about my writing style.
You tend to write what you feel and sometimes you don't temper what you say for the audience. I sometimes gasp when I read what you write, but then I know you all too well, and can understand what you are saying and where you are coming from. Also it helps that I agree with almost all that you say. For your blog and emails to us, anything goes and that's fine
Now to my writing. I do believe that one of the most crucial thing in GW is truth, facts, and openness. As long as we will continue with all the lies we normally use, we would not advance in any useful way. The fact is we are already so close to a catastrophe that all the playing around, the games in Congress, the China/India semi participation, the every one for himself that is still going on make our ability to slow the deterioration of our climate nearly impossible.
I have nothing to lose, I have to say it as it is even more openly that Hansen, if I am able to. But I am still too constrained.
I do understand what you are saying about telling the truth. Actually, now that I think of it, you are the only writer I know other than Hansen who tells it like it is. That's why I find your text so refreshing while at the same time I am alarmed because you and Hansen don't seem to be getting much traction. I realize now that given everything I know about you and about this Catastrophe, we have to be truthful. I just don't know how you can have more influence. Is there any way to break through? It seems that Hansen as highly respected and well known as he has been for more than 40 years on this issue is still not getting the traction he deserves, at least in the US.
As I studied in some depth the GW issue in the last few years, the most profound analysis I saw were by Dr. Martin Weitzman of Harvard on uncertainty and the need to fight GW now and forcefully. I wrote about one of his paper on this blog four months ago:
Over the last 15 months I contacted key staff in Congress and others to alert them to his important points. I am so glad these ideas are finally in the open. Not only that the highly regarded economist Dr. Paul Krugman accepts Dr. Weitzman idea of uncertainty as the key idea to follow fighting GW.
Final points from Krugman's 12 page article above
Finally and most important is the matter of uncertainty. We're uncertain about the magnitude of climate change, which is inevitable, because we're talking about reaching levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen in millions of years. The recent doubling of many modelers' predictions for 2100 is itself an illustration of the scope of that uncertainty; who knows what revisions may occur in the years ahead. Beyond that, nobody really knows how much damage would result from temperature rises of the kind now considered likely.
You might think that this uncertainty weakens the case for action, but it actually strengthens it. As Harvard's Martin Weitzman has argued in several influential papers, if there is a significant chance of utter catastrophe, that chance - rather than what is most likely to happen - should dominate cost-benefit calculations. And utter catastrophe does look like a realistic possibility, even if it is not the most likely outcome.
Weitzman argues - and I agree - that this risk of catastrophe, rather than the details of cost-benefit calculations, makes the most powerful case for strong climate policy. Current projections of global warming in the absence of action are just too close to the kinds of numbers associated with doomsday scenarios. It would be irresponsible - it's tempting to say criminally irresponsible - not to step back from what could all too easily turn out to be the edge of a cliff.
Krugman conclusions on GW actions:
So what I end up with is basically Martin Weitzman's argument: it's the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis. And that argues for aggressive moves to curb emissions, soon.
In the discussions about global warming we rarely focus on one of the most crucial issues that humanity faces- over population. It seems like a taboo subject. Not only have that, instead of thanking China's aggressive effort to cut its own population growth, most people condemned them for curtailing human rights. We see every thing from our own narrow perspective instead of the reality humanity is facing. The reduction by the leadership of China of some four hundred millions people is one of the greatest contributions to human welfare ever made.
I hope to write about the population explosion; in the meantime I copied the following from Wikipedia Quotes to help focus our attention.
- Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.
- I am convinced that some political and social activities and practices of the Catholic organizations are detrimental and even dangerous for the community as a whole, here and everywhere. I mention here only the fight against birth control at a time when overpopulation in various countries has become a serious threat to the health of people and a grave obstacle to any attempt to organize peace on this planet.
- Albert Einstein, letter, 1954
- If government knew how, I should like to see it check, not multiply the population
- Population growth is the primary source of environmental damage.
- Short of nuclear war itself, population growth is the gravest issue the world faces. If we do not act, the problem will be solved by famine, riots, insurrection and war.
- Robert McNamara, Former World Bank President
- Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., May 5, 1966
- The greatest form of contraception is development.
- Overpopulation is one of the greatest threats to human nature
- In the last 200 years the population of our planet has grown exponentially, at a rate of 1.9% per year. If it continued at this rate, with the population doubling every 40 years, by 2600 we would all be standing literally shoulder to shoulder.
A group of environmentalists bloggers are planning to visit China soon to learn about their actions and plans on GW. I sent them the following:
By all means go to China, but remember India is our weakest link in the fight against GW.
China and India combined will have close to three billion people in two decades. Their rising population demands better life and will consume considerably more energy than today. Their GHG emissions would much higher and mask all the combined emissions of the developed world in the near future. The West can not force them to cut GHG and all the effort we may be doing in the future to cut our own GHG would mean nothing unless China and India drastically control their increase in GHG.
To a large extent humanity is on the brink already. Our global emission of GHG, now over 30 B tons/yr, must be cut by 80% in several decades, or sooner, to restrict the global temperature rise to not more than 2 degrees C. Otherwise we are likely to trigger serious escalation in release of naturally stored greenhouse gases that we would have no way to stop. This could trigger positive feedback of GHG emissions around the globe that could make our world nearly uninhabitable.
While we in the West, like zombies ignore nature's reality and arguing how much to cut and when, China and India are rapidly increasing their energy consumption with all the negative impacts of increased GHG.
Current average global GHG emission is 4.5 tons per person. The US average is 20 tons per capita, but China and India emit 4 times the CO2 per dollar of GDP! If China and India would not improve their CO2 to GDP ratio substantially, as we did over several decades, their combined GHG emissions would be several times larger that the total global emissions now.
How could humanity reduce today's total GHG by 80% if China/India would emit several times today's total in two decades if they follow current path?
It is just not possible.
Therefore we must find ways to help them to get massive energy supply that are not emitting GHG. We must help them increase substantially their CO2 to GDP ratio. We are at their mercy and they will sink the global climate with us. We will have to donate money, to donate knowledge and all other means to change the direction they are going now, massive use of dirty coal. And this will reduce our competitive position economically.
There is no way around that: in order to survive we have to reduce the huge imbalance of standard of living in the world also.
They will not cut their large GHG emissions sufficiently themselves, they can not. We can not ignore their actions since we live in the same global climate.
We will sink together, or cooperate!
The most dangerous potential is from India since its population rise is almost twice China and they have little control on their own population. Little if any control of population growth or population conduct.
By all means go to China, learn and especially find ways for cooperation beyond any thing ever done in human history.
We either cooperate like never before or we go under together in climate decay.
One way to understand the way this Administration is attempting to fight GW is to follow the interviews and writing of Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu over the last year.
When he was selected to his position over a year ago Dr. Chu was very optimistic about alternative energy and efficiency and sounded eager and willing to concentrate on avenues and tools smart people knew would work and are likely to make a difference.
Before he was selected he stated that carbon tax is superior to Cap & Trade. Once in the administration he reluctantly accepted the prevailing Congressional and Administration views supporting Cap & Trade. The facts did not change.
In one of his first magazine interviews with U.S. News less than a year ago he said that silicon based photovoltaic is not promising now and need to have a ten to one reduction in price with different, more advance, technologies. He changes his utterance now. The PV industry has a powerful voice, and doing its best to maximize its profit despite not delivering much benefit to the users.
Dr. Chu was also a great supporter of energy efficiency and building conservation, following the lead of his friend Dr. Art Rosenfeld, previously of CEC. As you follow Dr. Chu's blogs and interviews, culminating with the latest on Newsweek, you can see that he is changing his support and following the Administration party line; more oil drilling, nuclear power, and little on energy efficiency or green technologies.
This administration even more than the past is very strict on following the party line; no one should deviate from it showing the country, and especially Congress, a united front. This is understandable, but I would not like to be in Dr. Chu position when so much of what he believed is cut out of the Administration approach.
These changes in Dr. Chu's views may have come from two reasons: He has to moderate/change his views to fit the desire of the Administration, and he also learned from practical interaction with the "real world" that many promising technologies are not likely to survive outside science labs, as good as they may be.
1. When he was a scientist guiding the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory he was not subjected to political distortion and was able to see the path to reducing GHG emissions from practical scientific point of view. He was a dream choice by the Environmentalists; however, they did not know how politics would curtail his ability to do what he believed in. So politics, the "Art of the Possible" and the tool of powerful influences by interested parties, now determine the Administration's approach and thus also Dr. Chu's public views.
2. Another aspect, when science meets the real world of finance, global economics, the immense magnitude of electrical power systems, the fossil industry size and complexities, and all the other main forces, including Congress, your own views change. He might have realized that some or many of the solutions that seemed marvelous in the lab, are not practical in the real world.
Dr. Chu latest public views are stated to support the free gifts the Administration has given the GOP. Yes, this administration is giving a gift to the "Take No Prisoners" GOP. President Obama still believes he can pull in a few Republicans in Congress so his policies may look bipartisan. The bad lesson from the Health Care fight did not teach him the GOP side is determined to cut his legs in every opportunity they have. His administration is a slow learner and instead of first bargaining with the GOP on energy issues, they gave them the free gift of offshore oil drilling and support for nuclear power.
Poor thinking. They are not very practical and have little courage to fight for this most serious issue of GW.
They just don't grasp how time-critical GW is.
Marvelous! What a tour de force. If I read an op ed like this in the Bee every day, I would feel a lot better about my subscription. You are the only one I have read who tells it like it is. Is that because we are on the same page?
What a shame both for Dr. Chu personally and for us. You have very ably explained why this is the case and you are right about Obama. He gives before he seals a deal.
It’s so interesting that my other old friend who is very astute politically sees this so differently. He was actually very proud of what was accomplished with the health care bill. Maybe that’s because he believes that this is the art of the possible and that was all that was possible. That said, I think we are going to get little with the cap and trade bill. It will set us up for ten years of experiments that tell us this doesn’t deliver and it costs a bundle.
Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek interviewed our secretary of energy recently. Many of Secretary Chu views there are very disappointing to me. It is likely that Newsweek selected what was appealing to them, or their sponsors, and not Dr. Chu' full views. Unfortunately I can only go on the basis of what I know.
First, in this article little was said on energy efficiency where we can reduce waste by a major amount. About 60% of US energy is now non productive. We can easily cut half of this waste!
Second, too optimistic about PV. The price did not go down noticeably for several years. Current silicon technology, the main stay for forty years, is too complex and we need completely new technology, not high purity silicon based. His own financial support for it is a big national waste.
His trust in CCS is misplaced, there is nothing promising in it, while there re considerable negatives in CCS. To tie 50% of our national power system (coal) on this dream is irresponsible. Coal should be replaced, even high efficiency natural gas, NGCC, would be superior to allowing coal to continue.
Nothing of value on Solar Thermal, a very promising technology already on line.
As much as I support nuclear power, he put too much emphasis on that instead of wind energy and solar thermal and energy efficiency.
I have expected much more from Dr. Chu, but it may be that in this administration we are still unable to break with the past. Think about how much they are supporting tar-oil, the dirtiest oil there is, extremely high in GHG emission.
All in all, it is a very poor national plan, no drive to reduce waste, no courage in it. Same standard message.
Compare to Dr. Chu past messages, this is weak, very weak.
Again, it may be very selective reporting.If so Dr. Chu should go on line elsewhere to show his correct views. His views are important.
This is a follow up to my article about India and global Warming: http://www.ginosaronglobalwarming.org/blog1.php?p=109&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1
I selected this NYT article to help you get a better feel how difficult is to achieve anything in India. As I mentioned in my discussion, governmental control is erratic at best and the ability of state and federal governments to get specific results are very poor. It takes years to put a power plant on line due to corruption, incompetence, and lack of political interest. These are deep, old cultural problems. And coupled with the rapid population growth, demand to higher living standard and energy, would compound the problems that India would be facing. Therefore, India would have little ability, in my opinion, to curtail the rise of its GHG emissions.
India is likely to be the weakest country in the global effort to slow the rise in GW!
India's Woes Reflected in Bid to Restart Old Plant
By VIKAS BAJAJ NYT March 22, 2010
VELDUR, India - "Wherever there is a lamp, there is darkness below it," said Bava Bhalekar, a fisherman and local leader in this village roughly a hundred miles south of Mumbai. "The tragedy is that while our village has this project, we ourselves don't have electricity."
"This project" is the power plant that Enron built.
A decade after Enron withdrew from the project, the Indian government and two Indian companies are promising to bring the plant to full capacity. The tragedy, as Mr. Bhalekar and his fellow villagers see it, is that even after the plant is fully operational, their daily blackouts - now from 3 to 7:30 p.m. - will still occur, with just slightly fewer hours without electricity.
State authorities promise to have the plant running at 100 percent by the end of the month. But, so far, this plant remains a monument not to the problems of Enron, but to India's own corruption, cronyism and weak economic policies - some of the reasons that India remains a perpetual second fiddle to China, its increasingly powerful rival.
For all the progress India has made in information technology and service-sector jobs, the country is still unable to provide reliable power, water, roads and other basic infrastructure to most of its 1.2 billion people. For instance, about 40 percent of the country's population is not connected to the electricity grid.
This energy deficit is also an impediment to development. Here in Maharashtra, India's most industrialized state and the home of its commercial capital, Mumbai, formerly Bombay, the demand for electricity will exceed supply by about 30 percent this year, up from 4.5 percent in 1992.
And if industrial companies that set up here can get electricity, they will pay more for it than elsewhere in the world, according to the Prayas Energy Group, a research organization.
India's slow progress on power has kept some foreign companies away and has led many of them to largely shun the electricity business, in particular. The failure of the Enron plant in 2001, then known as Dabhol Power, was a turning point.
No large power plants have started in Maharashtra since Dabhol.
"Our problem today is power," Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra's chief minister, the equivalent of an American state governor, said late last year when asked about the state's biggest challenges. But he said that his administration would eliminate blackouts that afflict most of the state outside Mumbai within three years.
For villagers here in Veldur, the Enron-built plant's revival - it has been running at below capacity for four years now - is bittersweet. While some people have been hired at the plant as it has ramped up, the lack of reliable electricity means that the ice that the fishermen in the village need to preserve their daily catch has to be trucked in from farther away.
Experts said Mr. Chavan's goal was, like many promises made by Indian policy makers, high rhetoric that is not backed up by real action. State and federal governments reduced red tape in 2003 to help add more generation capacity, but many of those reforms have not been fully put in place.
"These problems, which we have been talking about for the last 10, 15 years, there is no real solution to them," said Madhav Godbole, a retired civil servant who led a committee that studied the problems of Dabhol. "It's the political will that is wanting."
Many of India's utilities, for instance, are financially frail because policy makers look the other way as power is stolen, or because politicians dole out subsidized power to win the votes of farmers. Power plants typically operate below their capacity because the government bureaucracy allocates coal and natural gas, the fuel of power plants, to favored companies. Furthermore, cronyism often dictates who receives permission to build plants because laws requiring competitive bids are not enforced.
Emphasis by mg.
Rest of NYT article at:
Since the developing world will emit the largest amount of GHG by far in the coming decades we need to look at the key players to understand them and their potential to curtail GHG emissions.
The main ones now are India and China.
Let's look at India now: IMMENSE GROWING POPULATION
First, some significant items to grasp the magnitude of India:
Some of the most significant things about India are: its immense and growing population. Second, is its wide spread poverty. Third, is the primitive and nature-dependent living condition of its large rural population. Forth, population wants a better life. Fifth, the rapid rise in motorized transportation combined with lack of infrastructure. Sixth, the difficulty of upward mobility due to India's long established, hard to eradicate - class discrimination.
Result: More people wanting more means higher energy use, and higher GHG emissions.
India population (6/09) 1.16 B just behind China. It is projected to be the largest in the world in 2 decades, over 1.53 B ,
China, now at 1.34 B. In 2 decades 1.53 B
India growth rate: 1.41%, China 0.66%
GDP: $3.5 Trillion, growth rate 7.5%
per capita income: $3,000, with extremely unequal distribution
Land area 3.3 million sq km, one third of US.
DENSITY OF POPULATION IS 12 TIMES THE US!
Half the land is arable, a third of which is irrigated.
Fourth largest coal reserve in world, 500 B BBL oil equivalent
Water supplies, mainly rivers from the Himalayas glaciers, and from Monsoon (seasonal heavy rain falls), both would be affected by GW.
Environmental problems: deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; desertification; air pollution from industrial effluents and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage and runoff of agricultural pesticides; tap water is not potable throughout the country; huge and growing population is overstraining natural resources. (CIA data)
Life expectancy 63 years, literacy 52%
High birthrate, with moderate/modern death rate
A third of the population, 400 MILLION, is below 15,
Average education 10 years in schools
Half of India, half a billion people, is estimated to be without electricity! More electricity more GHG.
Some 30% of population, 350 MILLION, is urban, and the additional urbanization is 2.4%, 25 MILLION per year. Next ten year may have 250 million more in urban areas?
If so, the result is a US size population movement with combination of larger incomes, larger energy demands, and larger slums too. The potential mix is unknown now, may be not easily influenced either.
India is a democracy with 28 somewhat powerful states. The Rule of law determined also the ability of governments to dictate energy related laws. But, unlike the US and Europe, in the vast India continent the actual federal and state control is mostly theoretical. It is more pronounced in the developed urban areas, but not in remote primitive villages. It is hard to control the diverse, wide spread, immense population.
Additional snapshots of India:
It is hard for Western people to grasp the population density and the deep poverty of India. We see the pictures of the modern side. However, when we see pictures of the poverty it is done artistically and in taste and we are ignorant of the reality, the suffering, the malnutrition of millions. India rural area is often isolated, lack electricity, and have very low standard of living.
In the last decade the media emphasized the rapid advance in the urban SOL (Standard of Living) and the new middle class associated with high tech industries. But this is not typical India, it is just the we pay most attention to because it is similar to the US.
The millions of Untouchables continue to be discriminated in a way we can not even imagine. They are the sewer cleaners, no one wants to be near them or let them inside their homes unless mandatory. There are 40 millions nomads that the rest do not want to have any thing to do with or live nearby them. The cast system is in force despite some feeble attempts to reduce it. Because there are so many people, because so many are so discriminated against and so many are in agony, the cast system give the "higher up" the ability to "elevate" themselves above the common.
With one third of the population below 15 and limited schooling many young people just roam aimlessly around. Tens of millions have no place to call home.
The government is composed of mostly middle and upper class people who may be intellectually interested in improving the lot of the downcasts, but their power come from the educated and higher income population. I do not believe they themselves believe something substantial can be done to elevate the downcast out of their misery in the next few decades. It is a almost undoable because of rapid population growth, lack of funds for wide rural education and lack of power by the rural, and underprivileged. They are not important.
An example: The Mumbai slam is the biggest in the world with one million people in about a square mile. It is being liquidated now, against the will of the majority there, to build high rise buildings in this center of the city. The population density there (typically on three primitive levels) was equivalent to 400 people living in the moderate lot my wife and I now occupy!
(From Wikipedia): "In the late 2000s, India's economic growth has averaged 7.5% a year, which will double the average income in a decade. Despite India's impressive economic growth over recent decades, it still contains the largest concentration of poor people in the world, and has a higher rate of malnutrition among children under the age of three (46% in year 2007) than any other country in the world. The percentage of people living below the World Bank's international poverty line of $1.25 a day decreased from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005. Even though India has avoided famines in recent decades, half of children are underweight, one of the highest rates in the world and nearly double the rate of Sub-Saharan Africa."
Curtailing GHG emissions:
Current situation: Three main areas of high GHG emissions:
1. Modern electricity generation for the urban and industrial areas,
2. Oil (diesel and gasoline) for expanding transportation
3. Wide spread use of solid fuels (wood and charcoal) and also kerosene in rural areas.
India has a very high CO2 emission per GDP dollar, four times the US level. This is a promising opening for cutting projected increases in its looming and immense GHG. Much of it is from its primitive industry, and low efficiency coal driven electricity generation. Coal would continue to be the major source of electricity as its industrialization and urbanization are continuing at rapid rates. It is dirt cheap and India would not replace it with more expansive green technology on its own. It will need a combination of global economic pressure and financial and technical assistance.
Their national pride would resist external pressure, but it would be moderate, unlike China. India government is inclined to be practical, and not rush into fast actions.
1. Considerable amount of India production, from shoes to clothing, is by very primitive means, with a lot of very cheap hand labor. There is no desire to industrialize that "home industry" which are actually sweat shops on a small and large scale. It provides employment to tens of millions very young people, and their number is increasing. What else would supply this minimal level of sustenance?
2. Demand for oil imports will increase rapidly as the population is moving from bicycles to scooters, to motorcycles, and to small, locally built, cheap cars. The cheap, low weight cars have small engines but are not likely to be very high miles per gallons. GHG emissions from the mass production and use of over a hundred million of these vehicles will be substantial.
3. It is estimated that massive amount of black sooth, accelerating glaciers melting, is emitted by the primitive cooking and lightening in India (and Africa). There are advance testing of combinations of miniature PV, battery, and high efficiency LED light systems that seems economical for this conditions. Reliable, low cost packages would be useful. But hard to spread widely without government intervention and financial assistance. This is not too likely in rural India or any other wide spread, poor society.
4. There is considerable deforestation in India and to cut it substantially they need reliable, very simple, low cost cooking and heating alternatives. A very difficult combination.
Technologists in the West see it as a good potential for replacement by more efficient cooking approach on a large scale. I am doubtful. Where will one find locally available, no cost replacement to locally cut trees and dung?
It is a matter of survival to them and they do not have the luxury to think about complex solutions that cost more and may be require education to operate.
5. Only where there is governmental control/knowledge of a substantial scale, electrical power generation, could changes towards higher efficiency, lower GHG energy, can be made in 2 or 3 decades. And this is already too long a cycle.
India emission of GHG will escalate rapidly in the coming decades. It would be at a lower rate than before if the cost of fossil fuel increase noticeably. Only part of its more modern sector emissions could be slowed down by reducing its CO2 to GDP ratio. The majority of the population, the poor and rural community, could only marginally reduce their very high CO2 to GDP ratio.
India rapid increase of GHG would not slow down on its own due to the immense internal pent up demand, which a Democratic government has to listen to. External forces would have to intervene to help India cut its immense GHG emission before the Earth has passed the point of no return and enters a massive positive feedback of GHG emissions.
(Sorry, no time to fully edit.)
All the presentations at the Efficiency - Art Rosenfeld conference were interesting and many illuminating, but the most significant discussion, I believe, was by Professor Richard Muller. He talked about the immense future increase of CO2 by the emerging economies. His assertion, supported by an eye popping graph, is that the amount of CO2 created by the industrialization of the rapid growing economies, especially China and India, will surpass all the rest of the world combined and that is the area we must concentrate on.
Dr. Muller teaches Physics at UC Berkeley. I have discussed GW issued with him several times and read his book: Physics for Future Presidents, too. He likes to debunk what he sees as mistakes in the general beliefs on GW. I talked with him during the reception and told him that his presentation was the most important item in the whole conference. He felt that the interest in his conclusions were not as high as they deserve. And I agreed.
The essence of his lecture here was presented previously in the Wall Street Journal just before the Copenhagen meeting last year. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703514404574588673072577680.html
The key graph is titles:
The West's Carbon Emissions Are Irrelevant.
It shows a rising curve of yearly global emissions of CO2 that grows from the current 32 B tonns to some 90 B by 2040; almost all of it from the emerging economies, while the West's contributions are dropping to be insignificant by then.
A few friends discussed the key assumptions that Dr. Muller presented below:
I first saw this graph in an article on GreenTech Media's (GTM) website about two weeks ago.
The article was summarizing information presented by Richard Muller in a Wall Street Journal op-ed and in a speech at a venture capital firm in S.F. The graph in the article at GTM included some basic assumptions behind the graph. These assumptions include that the Chinese economy grows at 10%/year and other emerging economies grow at 6%/year.
While China may continue a 10% annual growth for a few more years, it is very unlikely to continue this growth rate through 2040 as the graph apparently assumes. The larger their economy becomes, the more difficult it will be to continue their current growth rate.
While the general statement that the developing economies will soon be the main contributors to CO2 emissions seems well supported, the graph most likely overstates the extent of their contributions. Nevertheless the actions of the developing countries will almost certainly be much more important than the actions of the currently developed economies in determining the growth of CO2 emissions.
-- Yes, at the Rosenfeld Symposium in Davis on Tuesday, Muller did mention his WSJ op-ed piece. And, in addition to your point that economic growth at 10% sort of numbers will not continue for decades, there is the fact that what China has agreed to and is doing rather aggressively is reducing their "carbon intensity" number (tons of CO2 per $M of GDP).
But, we are all agreeing that China and other emerging economies will dominate the future emissions and the need-to-reduce issues. Best reply to the nay sayers here is (1) economic growth is going to be in the low-C energy business sector so this is good for the economy not bad for it, and (2) the science says conclusively that humans must address the problem: 9 billion people cannot live on the planet in anything like decent way unless this is solved and getting down to 350 ppm or below is the only way to preserve the planet as the 20th century had it.
The full set of assumptions behind Muller's graph as stated in the GTM and WSJ articles are as follows:
- USA: 80% cut by 2050
- Kyoto developed states: 60% cut by 2050
- China: 4% per year cut in carbon intensity (amounts to a 70% cut by 2040)
- Chinese economy grows at 10%
- Other emerging economies grow at 6%
- Emerging economies begin 80% cut (over 40 years) in 2040
Some selected quotes from these articles follow:
"'We need cheap green, not expensive green.' Any technology that will not work in China or India is 'feel-good technology.' HEVs (Hybrids Electric Vehicles) like the Prius fall into that category according to Muller. This fits in with investor Vinod Khosla's take on solving the 'Chindia problem'."
"... an expensive effort to reduce Western emissions sets a worthless example. Only emissions cuts that provide measurable economic benefit to the developing nations will be adopted by them. If the 80% U.S. emissions cut winds up hurting the U.S. economy, it guarantees China will never follow our example."
"Cheap green energy is not going to be easy. Coal is dirt cheap, and China has been installing a new gigawatt coal plant each week.... Technological change can help a great deal.... A dollar spent in China can reduce CO2 much more than a dollar spent in the U.S."
"Muller finished with these words: 'If you are seriously worried about global warming, the solution is in technology adopted by India and China. If you can't come up with cheap green, then the alternative is prayer.'"
By M. Ginosar:
1. Although the Muller WSJ curve may be steeper than justified, it is significant and important to grasp. By different set of growth assumptions the slope would be lower. But the total global emissions would continue to increase at a rapid rate while we must cut GHG to reduce the more severe damage from already-present GW. So the basic idea of Muller that we must focus on the emerging world is justified and most important!
2. It is also significant that the emerging world, especially China and India, will do, to a large extent, what they need to do for their own population. Their governments have little alternatives; they must not only allow but must encourage fast economic growth. Their population is demanding it by their movement to cities seeking better life for themselves.
Without fast economic growth these governments would fall and we do not know what would replace them, certainly not more favorable to reduction in economic activities.
3. The discussion here is about CO2, which is now just 65-70% of the total GHG. Total GHG cause global temperature rise, not just CO2. The rest of the GHG have shorter life and would decay with time, but they are up in the atmosphere now and not decreasing!
The total impact of GHG is considered by some more aware observers to be already so severe that we should not increase our yearly emissions but cut them starting two decades ago.
4. The comments above by Dr. Muller make a lot of sense to me and I have advocated cost-effective environmental solutions for many decades. The problem is that most people in this field are so dedicated and so aware of the implications of lack-of-action that they want any solution at almost any price.
Again: his key points:
a. To reduce the damage from GW we need the technologies to be adopted on a mass scale in these countries.
b. Unless these solutions are economical and cost-effective in these countries they would not be adopted! And they would not make any real impact on GW.
The bad example of PV: I have analyzed and commented about the most wasteful green energy program to date: photovoltaic, not only because it is wasteful, not only because it is based on misleading information, and not only because it makes the people in the PV industry rich while providing miniature contribution to the solution, but as an example of emotions overcoming economics and facts -which we can not afford.
To repeat briefly a common mistake by environmentalists and good law makers: over the last decade Germany spent $70 B to generate less than 0.5% of its electricity from PV; while at the same time 50% of its electricity is from coal and it is increasing substantially, masking any possible future contributions by PV. If that PV money went to conservation and efficiency they would have cut their CO2 emissions considerably more.
The next known example is the US law mandating substantial use of Corn-Ethanol in our transportation fuel. The result of enthusiastic environmentalists cooperating with profit maximizing corn industry.
What Dr. Muller stated is correct in principle and must be taken into account despite some arguments about the exact percentages and the shape of the curves.
This is the most important issue we need to focus on- the significant reduction of GHG emissions from the developing world.
To do that, we must cooperate with them to cut their GHG and assist them with technologies, scientific knowledge, and financial support too.
And these would cause conflicts with our desire to shore up our economies.
This is the most significant dilemma we need to find practical solutions for and soon.
The Rosenfeld Symposium
The next generation of Energy Efficiency
A few days ago [3/9/10] I attended an energy efficiency conference at UC Davis honoring the champion of California energy conservation and efficiency, Dr. Art Rosenfeld.
The conference was a tribute to his decades of dedicated work in this field, culminating with two terms as Commissioner on the California Energy Commission. He just retired from this post.
Most of the 400 attendees worked with the commissioner on some aspects of efficiency and conservation. I had the opportunity to discuss with him at length energy efficiency options and he was gracious to send me several of his PowerPoint presentations that he made in India and China last year.
With his permission I sent these presentations to staff of energy and environmental committees in Congress.
I would like to summarize some of the points some speakers made that seems worth attention:
Some of the methods Dr. Rosenfeld used to develop better efficiency measures were his penetrating questions: Why are we doing things the way we do? How can we do them better? What are the implications on a wider scale? And he was persistent. Dr. Rosenfeld is supposed to have said: "The price of efficiency is eternal nagging..."
Anne Smith, Sempra Utilities: Energy Efficiency from the California Perspective.
Natural gas use in homes in southern California is down 40% in 30 years. [I wonder how much of it is due to different distribution of individual homes vs. apartments. Partial statistics are not so useful to draw conclusions from.]
A mind shift for utilities: California pioneering decoupling of sales of energy from utility profit was instrumental in focusing more attention on energy reduction. CA is spending $3B in 2 years to increase efficiency.
The PUC published a hundred page plan to increase efficiency: California long term energy efficiency strategic plan. Sub titled: Achieving Maximum Energy Savings in California for 2009 and beyond.
One of the plan goals is to achieve zero energy in new residential units by 2020, commercial properties by 2030.
[I think it is a mistaken goal. Total reduction of carbon footprint should be the goal and cost-effectiveness must be considered too. We need to look at the total issue. When some one build the most energy efficient home in the suburbs but drive to her his job five times a week her total carbon foot print is much larger that a person living in the city and walk to work. Second, generating electricity on site, only silicon PV is available now, is very expensive [and would not do well commercially without substantial subsidies] and has hidden costs not taken into account- the energy payback is some 5 to 7 years, and many of the PV panels are made in Germany and China by coal power plants with even longer carbon payback. Hopefully completely new, low cost solar technology would be in production by then, but that is another issue. Doing the maximum energy conservation and ALSO MAXIMUM APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY, including all the home electronics, is a more practical, achievable goal.
The appealing title: "zero energy homes" is a political slogan and not one to cut our total GHG.]
When we are talking about new approaches, she said: "If the consumer does not accept it- it is not worth it." [But the consumer should accept it without substantial subsidies that distort the market too much.]
"It is tough to do better than we are already doing in CA since we are so good already."
[Although CA achieved lower per capita electricity consumptions than the nation, my own observation and studies indicate that we could have cut our energy use in buildings much further. It was evident three decades ago when I directed the Solar office at the California Energy Commission. Some 80% of the reduction was due to building conservation, 20% at most was due to potential passive solar measures.]
[We could have achieved much higher conservation/efficiency, but the building industry, that carries a lot of political weight especially in CA, did its best to cut down conservation measures to reduce the cost of the construction. A small increase in construction cost, much lower than adding PV, would have reduced the total energy use further. The industry does not care that homeowners will pay larger energy bills over many years; it does not affect the sale since most people are not aware of the total cost of housing.
The same for commercial properties; the builder aim is to reduce cost per square foot; the tenets are paying the energy costs. It is the responsibility of decision makers to weigh society needs re. GW on a much higher scale than builder's small increase in profit.]
Ashok Gadgil, LBNL, Energy Efficiency from the Developing World Perspective:
We need to use Human Development Index HDI, when we deal with energy.
HDI should include:
1. Economic wellbeing
2. Life expectancy- health, health care, etc.
3. Literacy and education.
All of the above relate to electricity consumption. The US and Australia are the biggest per capita users, 9200 kWh/yr. Japan and England 7500 kWh. The US emitting 20 Tons of CO2 per person per year. India just 1.5 ton. Ad it is clear that the HDI is very low in India and other low electricity users.
Two billion people cook with solid fuels [wood and charcoal] which are low efficiency and highly polluting, both locally-the users themselves- and adding CO2 globally. Sub Sahara is especially noted to do so. Replacing these cookers with high efficiency, low cost kerosene stoves, sometimes may be solar cookers, would be a large improvement in all categories, and reduce their cost over time.
[It is clear that the underdeveloped countries will increase their energy consumption to elevate their standard of living, or their HDI, for their rapidly increasing populations.]
The above legitimate increase in energy demand by the underdeveloped world would be the main source of future increase of global GHG.
This rapid increase would overshadow all emissions by all developed countries, including the US. [mg]
Notes in [ ] are mine.
Part two of notes will follow.
Over the last several years it became clear to some astute scientists that our slow and ineffective way we have been trying to curtail global warming is not going to slow significantly, if at all, the earth's temperature rise. The magnitude of GHG release is so large that we are likely to be too late to stop the severe damage to our limited Earth.
New information from the National Science Foundation [NSF] indicates that mass release of previously stored methane that we hoped will remain frozen has already started. And if we do not curtails drastically and very soon our global GHG this release of Methane would grow so fast and so large that the earth temperature would climb beyond nature's ability to sustain life as we know it. I suggest you read the NSF short report in the link below.
National Science Foundation:
"The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world's oceans," said Shakhova, a researcher at UAF's International Arctic Research Center. "Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap."
A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov.
The research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journal Science, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is starting to leak large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.
[All from NSF but emphasis by MG]
Read my recommendations:
We must turn upside down our approach to fighting Global Warming because time is of the essence:
Instead of regulating Greenhouse Gases to a level that may have no negative economic impact, we must reduce GHG to the maximum that could be technically and economically implementable.
When we were starving as cave people and often had nothing to eat, we developed a strong urge for more food, and more possessions.
That essential need was justified in the past, it was a basic survival need. It is still driving most of us.
But it is no longer justifiable.
In most of the developed world we have a considerable amount more than we need for survival and also much more than we need for leisure. But, especially in the US, we can not let go of this urge of the past for more and more things. From food to luxury cars.
We can't overcome this way of feeling. Just look at our history for at least the last sixty years. It is now so much a basic part of our lives. We buy unneeded stuff even when we can not afford to.
To reduce global warming our wasteful consumption need to be reduced because every thing we do requires energy, more electricity, more fuel, and thus create more greenhouse gases.
This strong desire for more and more; bigger TV, larger cars, larger houses, is not ready, or capable to an intellectual change. You can not just decide to drop this long-held feeling. It works for a few, but not for the majority of the population.
These ingrained feelings have to change, to adjust to lower appetite for more. And it is very hard to change long-held cultural attitudes and it takes a long time. Unfortunately, global warming is accelerating so fast that our ability to reduce consumption is inadequately slow.
Since we are not able to change our ingrained desire for a more luxurious way of life, we must have governmental actions to curtail consumption. Higher taxes would do some of it. We have to pay back our immense national debt of about $30,000 per each man, woman and child!
May be the permanent decline in the economy that is going on will do some of it through lower wages. And may be more expensive products due to higher energy costs, would cut our abilities to have too much. But these may not be enough. We still believe that we in the USA can do anything we want.
It is a serious national dilemma. People wants all they can get, deep self-centerness. Congress wish for reelection will follow their wish and not what the country needs. How do you change this circle of inaction?
I have no answers.
I just wonder if it is at all possible to find the viable path to reduce global warming for a society that is governed by decision makers that are so removed from reality, and that have ingrained inability to grasp the total story, and value their reelection more than the need of the society?
This is a very good article by V.P. Al Gore about the current situation of the GW "debate."
I suggest you read it completely.
This second section is barely edited and also deserves expansion. If possible I may do it over time. But I believe it so important it should go out on the web now. M.g.
I. What is a Safe CO2 level?:
We do not know what is a safe level.
The IPCC used five different modeling tools, each gave significantly different results, which means that four of the five gave wrong answers. Nevertheless they averaged the five results and this is NOT SOUND SCIENCE.
We can not go back to the 350 ppm level of CO2, we will have to stop emitting it right now.
450? It would be very difficult at present inaction.
550 could be dangerous..
Basically we are dealing here with risk analysis since we have partial answers.
And mot important, we can not test our hypothesis since this is a one time global experiment. No way back.
Our inability to predict, is the roll of the dice.
In a warmer world all assumptions are wrong!
We witness that the ice is melting much faster than the models predicted..
The permafrost is melting in areas it did not melt for 40,000 years!
[m.g. - CO2 is now 389 pps. When we add the rest of the GHG we are now at a much higher level in actual heating impact on the earth, possibly 430 pps-equivalent. However, those gases may disappear at a much faster rates. Methane disappear in several decades.]
We are not serious about reducing GHG and fighting GW.
We have facts and laws of physics and we ignore them.
II. Ability of green sources to satisfy future global energy needs:
Very little. About 0.3 Terawatt. If we are lucky one terawatt, but it is not worth it.
We will need one half of all global unusable lands The key problem with biomass is that to get high yield you need to prepare the soli by disturbing it. The soil contains very high level of sequestered CO2. Disturbing the soil will emit so much CO2 that it will add CO2 to the air equivalent to 40 to 400 years of the amount of potential biomass output.
Even at 100% conversion efficiency we may get 7 Terawatt, but it is a dream.
The best thing is to leave the earth untouched.
[m.g. In addition- 13% of the global lands are barren or deserts. Much of these raw lands reflects effectively sun energy back to space. Planting trees on any of this would absorb considerable heat energy and increase GW].
We are using about one third of the practical maximum and the total can not go beyond 1.5 Terawatt.
All wind on earth not enough. Probably 2 to 3 Terawatt all over the globe together.
A good source but not enough to make immense contribution. In California for example, most of the high quality = high winds sources are already used or close to it. Wind resources in Kansas, for example are at night and not suitable for export when demand is low.
I am not for or against nuclear power, but it is the only proven energy solution that can be scaled up to the level needed. But since we need globally 10 Trillions watts and each power station is one billion watt, we need 10,000 nuclear power stations. That means one new nuclear power station on line every day for the next forty years! An impossible task.
It took decades to have the current 440 nuclear plants around the world.
There is only one place in the world, Japan, that produce the safety enclosures, and they make 5 units per year.
Even if we could build one nuclear station per week, it is insufficient since it is too little.
There is not enough raw uranium available for all these stations either. A considerably more fuel efficient nuclear systems must be developed.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) - CO2 sequestration:
Can not be done in the ocean, it will acidify it too much to sustain life.
The only proven techniques used to increase oil output is high pressure CO2 Into empty oil and gas fields. Only 30 years capacity is available.
The question of safety paramount since even if just one percent leaks in many years it would elevate the CO2 to unacceptable levels we try to avoid by sequestration.
In addition, we do not know if it will work.
Note: 40% of global oil supplies go to global transportation such as ship and airplanes. This can not be easily requested because of its mobility.
[Effective CCS is practical only with stable sources.]
We need to experiment with CCS, it but it is not promising.
Not enough energy close enough to the surface, will need to dig several miles at great costs.
Ocean energy: insignificant amount can be extracted.
In the US, by Congressional act we use 30% of our corn to supply 2% of the transportation fuel. Crazy . Need smarter laws.
[m.g. One of the worse act of congress in the energy area to date. It demonstrates the lack of ability of Congressional staff to evaluate technical proposals, and/or the ability of lobbying to overcome any factual data and sense. Corn - ethanol should be stopped now see my previous blog: Wrong way of fighting global warming.]
We are facing the contrast between the laws of politics and the laws of physics.
Sun supplies 600 TW which is enough for all future needs.
One hour from the sun is enough for total one year use.
At ten percent efficiency at mid US states we can satisfy all US needs.
Bad aspect: Not a small project, in fact huge.
You will need a million solar roof EVERY DAY. We will be a billion roofs behind in five years.
PV IS NOT USEFUL NOW. The current way is useless and very expensive.
Need new technology that will be cheap land easily applied like paint.
Solar Thermal power is practical and economical. The main problem for large central thermal solar power is - no sun some of the time. We may have 8 to 10 hours storage but not 36 hours that some times will occur. Electricity must be available realizably 99.98% of the time, and some rainy days always will happened with need for longer storage.
Water needs for central power generation, either nuclear or Solar Thermal is not critical. We can build close water cycle cooling. The reason it is used sparingly now is that it is cheaper with open water cooling. Increase of cost by close cycle is manageable.
The best storage now is elevated hydro storage. Much of the available storage are used. High amount of storage require:
Very large storages are needed. The energy in one gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 55,000 gallons of water up the dam.
1. We need a lot of energy, more than we grasp.
2. We depends too much on fossil fuels - this must be changed
3. We have 3.1% growth in energy use. And population growth.
4. All natural gas utilities must stop selling natural gas before 2050.
5. No saving in energy -conservation- can change the situation, when we look at it from a global scale.
WE HAVE THREE BIG CARDS:
A. POTENTIAL SEQUESTRATION.
B. NUCLEAR, BUT A VERY BIG GOAL
C. AND/OR SUN; MUST BE CHEAP AND MUST HAVE LONG TIME STORAGE.
Additional key points:
I. WE DO NOT HAVE YET ALL THE TECHNOLOGIES WE NEED. WE NEED A LOT O DEVELOPMENTS- ESPECIALLY STORAGE FOR SOLAR and WIND.
II. We must grasp: TWO DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSING SITUATIONS
1. IT WILL COST A LOT OF MONEY TO ELIMINATE FOSSIL FUELS
2. WE CAN NOT AFFORD TO FAIL - WE MUST DO IT, ELIMINATE CO2 EMISSIONS.
It is not about cost/benefit analysis since
We do not know the cost
We do not know the benefits
THE EARTH IS DOING ITS THING DAILY-
[m.g. sun heats the surface, we emit GHG and the earth is heating up mostly by us- and we are doing nothing even to slow it down.]
THE DECISION IS RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
His slides, not too directly to these points, are available at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/seminars/lewis/lewis.pdf
Lecture by the famed Nathan S. Lewis of Caltech,
California Air resources Board- ARB 2/23/10
I just finished listening to today's (Tues.) video presentation by this well known Caltech professor on global energy needs in light of the limitation of global warming.
Because of the length I will present my notes in two parts, this is the first:
He expanded on his famous 2007 article in Caltech Engineering and Science (volume LXX no.2). He emphasized the following very critical points:
The most important thing he warned us is:
YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE NUMBERS.
We are discussing here scientific and engineering facts. Realistic way of looking at the global energy needs.
1. We will not run out of fossil fuels in the next hundred to 150 years.
2. The key problem is we must stop emitting any GHG before 2050 to limit serious damage to the global climate.
3. We do not know at what CO2 level the climate damage would be within acceptable limits, without catastrophic tipping points. The only thing we know that it was acceptable before the industrial revolution at 280 ppm. Even at the "ideal" limit at 350, we do not know the long term impacts.
4. We do know what GHG emissions would be too high and the GW impacts too severe, and likely to cause a "tipping point" change. Perhaps the worst case of such an event would be the release of huge amounts of methane now sequestered in permafrost in the arctic. The carbon release could be very large and the greenhouse warming effect could be immense, as a one ton of methane has as much warming effect as 20 tons of carbon dioxide
5. CO2 is nearly a non degradable gas. Three quarter of it may disappear in 500 years from the atmosphere by chemical reactions of by dissolve into the oceans (and the dissolving could cause such a change in pH (acidity) in the oceans that bad effects occur in the oceans, one being the disappearance of coral reefs, which are rich sources of food and growth for sealife that people depend on. The rest will stay much longer. To have some modicum of safety we need to stop all GHG emissions by 2050.
6. It may take some 3,000 years to restore the global climate to pre industrial levels without any additional CO2 after 2050.
7. The amount of global energy use is so high, that we can not fathom it. It developed over a century and a half, spread around the globe, to build to current levels. We are facing dire situation, no time to reduce GHG in conventional economical ways, and too much GHG to replace with green energies.
At the approaches proposed to date, it is nearly impossible to replace global fossil and wood burning energies with non emitting sources to restrict the growth of GW in time to prevent catastrophic events.
8. The energy stored in fossil fuels is so dense, it takes immense amount of non-emitting power plants, such as one nuclear power plant a day for the next forty years to produce the equivalent global energy demands.
9. We do not have yet all the energy technology we need. We need at least to develop new, economical energy storage system.
10. Energy demand will increase since already we have 2 billion people without electricity. They want some electricity to live a better life. [Three additional billions will be added by 2050.]
11. Our rate of energy use is 13 trillion watts. Unfathomable amount. About a quarter of it in the US. China will surpass us in the not too distant future. India will add to the immense increases.
12. The US is wasting the largest amount of energy therefore it would be the easiest for us to decrease our energy intensity. Other countries can not cut their waste since the total use is negligible per person.
13. The US uses three times the per capita energy compare to Switzerland or Japan.
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them
When I directed the Solar energy office at the California Energy Commission my staff thought that I should approve every one of their proposed projects. When I explained that the state does not have money to waste, they did not want to hear it. It was difficult to those enthusiastic environmentalists to accept the idea that we needed to focus on our main goal: cut global warming, and that each project was just a potential tool among many. I explained to them that each project should be evaluated for its potential cost and benefits, that we needed to do life cycle costs analysis, etc. before we would proceed. We made our significant contributions in wind energy, when we analyzed the path and potential outcomes well - but that is another subject.
That enthusiasm with minimal thinking is prevailing also now among green supporters, environmental organizations, and our Congress and governments. It is often hard for them to realize that we do not have money and time to waste fighting GW.
Here are just three recent examples of clear thinking that expose highly expensive but illogical national green programs. However, despite the negative facts Congress is continuing with its make- believe solutions. It's support of Corn-ethanol has a highly negative impact now.
It is extremely hard even for good decision makers to control with their emotions. Clear thinking is a rare commodity in our society.
1. The Green Case for Cities
Forget the solar panels and the rain barrels-if you want to save energy, leave the suburbs.
by Professor Witold Rybczynski (The Atlantic October 2009)
....The problem in the sustainability campaign is that a basic truth has been lost, or at least concealed. Rather than trying to change behavior to actually reduce carbon emissions, politicians and entrepreneurs have sold greening to the public as a kind of accessorizing. Keep doing what you're doing, goes the message. Just add a solar panel, a wind turbine, a hybrid engine, whatever. But a solar-heated house in the burbs is still a house in the burbs, and if you have to drive to it, even in a Prius, it's hardly green....
Putting solar panels on the roofs doesn't change the essential fact that by any sensible measure, spread-out, low-rise buildings, with more foundations, walls, and roofs, have a larger carbon footprint than a high-rise office tower-even when the high-rise has no green features at all."
2. A Clunker of a Climate Policy
"The recent car-upgrade program is an example of how not to address CO2 reduction prudently
The Cash for Clunkers program offers a cautionarytale for the future of climate change control. The federal program paid individuals up to $4,500 to replace their "clunker" automobiles with new, higher-mileage vehicles. Part of the purpose was to give a lift to the ailing auto industry. Another part, at least it was claimed, was to mitigate climate change by getting old high-carbon-emissions vehicles off the road. But billions of dollars were spent quickly without clear answers on what we were getting for our "money....
"....Clearly, not every method of reducing emissions makes equal sense. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company has recently published estimates of the abatement costs of various technologies (www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/ccsi/greenhousegas.asp). Highly efficient lighting, appliances and vehicles, along with better insulation and other technologies, can save more in energy costs during their lifetime than the upfront capital for installing them: they are better than free to society...."
3. Biofuels-Reverse Alt- Energy Insanity,
By Paul Rauber, Sierra mag. Nov./Dec. 2009
"Biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are popular with a lot of people for a lot of reasons. They replace the fossil fuels burned in cars and trucks that account for nearly a quarter of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. They reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And--not least--they promise vast new markets for U.S. agribusiness. ...."
"....All of the above make them very attractive to Congress, which has enthusiastically embraced renewable fuels. In 2007, Congress mandated that domestic biofuel production rise each year, reaching 7.5 billion gallons in 2012. For most cars, this means ethanol, largely derived from corn....."
"Sounds great, right? Only one problem: Biofuels from corn, palms, and other vegetation can make global warming worse. Princeton University researcher Tim Searchinger has shown that producing corn ethanol has twice the warming impact of gasoline. Even trendy substitutes like switchgrass can double emissions."
(Emphasis are mine, m.g.)
Dr. Holdren, I believe, is one of the most aware scientists about the real danger of global warming. Again and again I have seen him pointing to the time-criticality of global warming. I also believe that even the green media and blogs ignore his warnings for too long.
Every thing I have read from him is of critical importance; he is succinct and also profound. Despite being an adviser to the President, global warming does not get sufficient attention in the White House. There, as elsewhere in the country, we go on with our business as usual, as if we have all the time in the world to start cutting down our vast greenhouse gas emissions.
From Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, testimony before the House Select Committee hearing of the State of Climate Science,
Wed. December 2, 2009, Chaired by Congressman Edward Markey.
"...the current state of knowledge of global warming is sufficiently clear to state that failure to act promptly to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases is overwhelmly likely to lead to changes in climate too extreme and too damaging to be adequately addressed by any adaptation measure that can be foreseen.... "
The term "Climate change" was coined by people who oppose the scientific facts, gathered over decades, that the earth is warming due to our vast use of fossil fuels. It was coined by the people on the right that deny global warming and was designed to reduce social concern about this serious danger to humanity. President Bush dictated the use of this calmer term in his administration to reduce urgent requests by scientists to start reducing our emission of greenhouse gases from fossil use.
The term Global Warming, on the other hand, focuses our attention on the real situation, on the continuous increase in average global temperature. This temperature increase was measured across the globe for many years, and demonstrated to cause damages on global scale, from mass extinction of species, to rise in ocean levels, to rapid melting of ice pole and glaciers around the globe.
If we continue to use this fabricated term "climate change" we will continue to mislead the American public and lull it to even more complacency while the danger of GW is rapidly increasing.
The following article is about energy related research at Idaho National Labs done by one of my sons, Dan Ginosar, PhD.
Road to efficiency
Inventor favors small steps to energy independence
By SVEN BERG. From the Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho on Feb. 12, 2010: email@example.com
It is odd to hear a nationally recognized inventor say the world shouldn't immediately count on transformative technologies, some of which he helped invent, as a path to energy independence and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Yet Dan Ginosar, who has collected at least 18 patents in his career and won Idaho National Laboratory's Inventor of the Year award in 2008, is emphatic when he says there is no silver-bullet technology that will cure the United States' energy woes -- at least not right now.
Instead, he believes the country should focus on a range of cheap, partial solutions that cut its overall energy consumption. Those partial solutions are mostly ideas already in use but worthy of expansion, he said. Some have been tried at one time or another and abandoned.
Improving efficiency standards for new and existing homes.
Using more natural gas to produce heat and electricity.
Increasing the number of carpool lanes in large cities.
Using heat produced in power plants for commercial purposes and to heat homes instead of letting it go to waste.
Replacing 25 percent of the fuel in coal-fired power plants with wood.
Sexy? No. Doable? Ginosar thinks so. In fact, he estimates the U.S. can cut its energy consumption by more than 30 percent by instituting these policies, which he said would all but eliminate any need for foreign oil. He said his proposal would cut greenhouse-gas and other harmful emissions while saving consumers money.
"You start small. You start low-cost. You start low-risk," he said. "And then you build."
Throughout his career at INL, Ginosar has helped develop a variety of technologies, mostly in the energy field. Shortly after arriving at the lab, he collaborated with Bob Fox, 2009's Inventor of the Year, on a cheap, easy method of producing biodiesel from waste grease discarded by restaurants and sewer plants.
"When you get to 18 patents, you're nationally recognized," INL spokesman Keith Arterburn said.
Ginosar believes lofty ideas like electric cars and widespread conversion of hydrogen to energy are worthy pursuits. But they won't be ready for large-scale deployment for years, perhaps decades, he said. The U.S. needs to take strong steps right now toward energy independence and reduced emissions, Ginosar said.
Ginosar describes his proposals as an on-ramp to the country's road to energy independence and efficiency. In the slightly longer run, he calls for expanded use of nuclear energy, biofuels and a complete phasing out of coal as an energy source.
"The only good thing you can say about coal is it's cheap," Ginosar said. "But its effect on the environment is really unfathomable -- how horrible it is."
Burning natural gas, huge amounts of which have been discovered within the U.S., produces half the carbon emissions that come from coal, he said. Burning coal also releases other harmful emissions such as uranium and mercury.
What about clean coal?
"I have a hard time saying those words together," Ginosar said.
Ginosar worries that trapping carbon emissions underground -- a central component of the clean-coal concept -- could cause massive subsurface disruptions. Besides that, he said, building clean-coal plants could require up to four times the upfront capital as a natural-gas power plant.
(Emphasis by Dr. Matania Ginosar)
In an article in today's highly respected Climate Progress web site they were discussing the desire of many industry leaders for fast, bipartisan, political decision on the rules of the game for global warming. Actual laws would allow industry to proceed with large investments in various fields and would reduce our large unemployment too. However, in my views, from the point of global warming, a fast, but inadequate = wrong, laws by the Senate, would not be desirable. With the Senate current too- modest guidelines even compared to the inadequate House bill, we would not move forward. But much stronger legislation could.
They ended by saying root for the current bipartisan effort to put a bill through.
Here is my response there:
They should not be rooting them for success but put substantial grassroots pressure on conservative Senators. There is very little GRASSROOTS, citizen's pressure, on Congress. Partially because environmental groups are not energizing their vast membership to effective political action. They claim millions of members, where are they? Why they are not politically active? It is a political struggle more than anything else.
Many Environmental organizations have budgets in the ballpark of $50M to $100 millions. They are not focusing their resources where they can make the most impact on the political gridlock. Much of these huge funds go to support their own staff, some to do direct lobbying, that is, telling member of Congress the facts on global warming. But this information has almost zero impact on the Congressional votes.
Senators and House members respond mostly to money for reelection coming from industry lobbyists, and on the other side, to large, and effective public pressure. Facts, information do not make much impact to these opposers of GW.
I have directed effective lobbying on swing Congressional members in several states in the past. (See ginosaronglobalwarming.org today's' comments about that experience).
I believe it is critically important to change tactics. Time to educate massive amount of environmentalists on the critical importance of public pressure and their need to participate in it. Mass mailing of emails are disregarded. However, telegrams, phone calls, individual letters, coupled by individual emails, NOT MASS emails, could make impacts on swing Congress members.
In the previous writing on this issue I suggested , in part, that in many cases people brain activity may determine their ability to grasp the global warming issue. Some opposite views may be that it is more likely to be lack of knowledge, lack of education, political orientation, or just normal self-interest.
Here is some supporting information for my above proposition:
First some background:
During President Reagan period I directed a small political organization named Target Congress with a goal to contribute to the national effort of reducing the danger of nuclear weapons. We developed and used methodical, scientific, and practical tools to increase the effectiveness of peace activists on this issue.
We were privileged to have the support of outstanding people like the outstanding Benjamin Spock M.D., former U.S. Senator Dick Clark, former US Representative John Moss, David Brower- founder, Friends of the Earth, actor Mike Farrell, Edward Snyder-Executive Director Friends Comm. On National Legislation, Judith Lipton, M.D., National Board of Directors Physicians for Social Responsibility, and other outstanding people. We developed grassroots pressure on swing US Congresspersons in several states to vote against nuclear weapons.
We worked closely with many national peace organizations such as Common Cause, SANE, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, and helped them adopt more effective methods for creating grassroots pressure.
We got advice from some outstanding and practical academicians how to influence public attitude, on effective communication techniques. We analyzed the voting record and District characteristics of each member of Congress in the country, did statistical analysis of Congressional votes, and studied other practical issues relating to motivating liberals to effective political action. We verified and improved on the advice of our experts during our nine years of in-the-field experience. Many of the techniques used in grassroots lobbying today are based on the experience gained then.
One of the most experienced and practical professors specializing in public communication advised us the following:
Studies on effective methods to influence people indicated that most people have set convictions and are unlikely to change their minds on political and social issues. Here were some of the results:
We can divide the population to three general groups, those who agree with the proposition, those who disagree, and the undecided middle. There is almost no way to convince the opposers to change their basic attitude. More information, more discussions do not help. Only some people in the middle, the swing group, that are already inclined somewhat in our direction, may agree eventually with the new information. But, those that were the hardest to convince, will, over time, return to their previous believes. We can only persuade people who are already inclined to agree with us to move a little further in our direction.
This experience add confirmation to the brain ideas discussed previously. It indicates to me that we are rather set in our ways socially and politically. People's attitude some times change overtime, but it may change only after some significant life experience and/or slow personal growth and may takes many years. Therefore, the energy spent to try to convince deniers of GW is wasted effort. We need to work only with people who are already inclined our way to convinced them for greater political participation.
I just finished reading a detailed, multi year study: The Neural Basis for Self-Control, by Antonio Rangel, PhD, associate professor of economics at the highly regarded California Institute of Technology - Caltech. It tries to answer the following :
"You're on a diet, but you really want a piece of chocolate cake. What's going on in your brain as you struggle to resist temptation?" [Caltech, Engineering & Science, Fall 2009]
We are talking here about basic research of brain functions, finding specific zones in the brain involved in different aspects of the decision-making process and the differences in the brains of people that have self-control and those who do not.
I studied this report in detail to try to see if we can relate the findings in this research to the global warming problem: to see if we can project from this study of self-control and answer the following question:
What could be the basic difference between people who accept the reality of global warming and the urgent need to fight it, and people who reject the existence of GW or unwilling to fight against it.
I see a considerable similarity, because both areas are involved with a person's ability to grasp the difference between short term desire, and long term implications. Let me explain:
The Caltech study indicates that there are at least two different locations in the brain that are involved in the decision making- eat the cake or deny it because of long term health impacts. One area of the brain is involved with the short term decision, and "sees" only signals of immediate desire: I want that piece of cake.
Another area of the brain is involved in the long term impact, which is the eventual negative health impacts of eating the cake.
In people that have little self-control only the first area of the brain is active - the desire for the cake is very pronounced in the brain. However, in people with self control, their second brain area is also active and overcomes the "desire" of the first brain area of immediate gratification- eat the cake. That second "control" brain area stops us from reaching for the cake.
There are at least two other important aspects of this study:
1. In general people with lower IQ's are more likely to have brain activities in only the first area of the brain- the one responsible for immediate satisfaction. The other, controlling, brain area is not too active.
2. People with strong self gratification (low self-control) are also inclined to be more emotional and have other aspects of less self control.
I do not believe that this type of brain activity is limited to food.
Here are some possible implications to global warming:
1. Many people who reject GW may have this attitude because of their specific brain activity. They may have more activity in the "first area" of the brain - the low self-control area, the immediate gratification area. And they have limited activity in the second, "control" area. Which means, they want to continue to have their "cake"- the current wasteful energy ways, and are less able to grasp the long term implications of global warming- the "health of the Globe" implications.
I am not ignoring here the legitimate concern of people for their immediate needs: food, shelter, jobs, security. But we must work to achieve both current basic needs and long term human survival. For many years we ignore the later and did nothing of value to date. We ignore the near future at our peril!
2. People who are easily driven to anger by zealot deniers of GW, like Rush Limbaugh, may have the same brain activity of people with low self-control: they have limited long term brain sensitivity.
And here is an even more significant aspect of these less self-control characteristics:
These GW deniers, these easily angered people are considerably more effective politically than the more easy-going, more "mellowed" "liberals" who believe in GW. These deniers make a lot of public noise, way out of proportion to their numbers because they are angry and that motivate them to action.
On the other hand, most "liberals," by their nature are not motivated to move, to take any political action. In effect, they are not helping the fight against global warming because they feel good for being on the "correct side" of the issue, and therefore are satisfied being "right.".
Again- most "moderate" people are often ineffective politically because they are "nice" people.
That may be one of the main reasons why despite the fact that the majority of the voting public believes that global warming is real, very little is done politically. These "good" people have limited anger, minimal action, and thus they have limited voice.
My staff and I have witness this inaction for many years in thousands of good people when we worked for social change in several states.
The above brain limitations probably does not apply to political leaders on the Right, most Republicans and conservative Democrats, they understand the reality of GW, they are bright and their brain is well developed. But their brains and personalities have developed to distort facts for their own end game, their political goal - destroy the Democratic agenda, destroy the Democratic president. Any common sense of these conservatives is overcome by their zeal to destroy- they are unable to realize that their conduct is deeply damaging their own country, and are hurting also the people they are suppose to represent.
We view the Right, the conservative elements in the country, as ignorant, and worse, for rejecting the reality of global warming and the fact that it is human-driven. It seems to me that it is natural for the political Right to reject the proven fact of global Warming because - The fear of change is their core belief.
Let's try to understand rather than accuse. The basic component of the political Right, the Republican Party and Conservative Democrats, is based on fear. Fear of the "others"; fear of minorities; fear of change; fear of gays; fear of "the enemy". They want to retain what they have; it is understandable desire.
The political Right is "conservative", meaning: no change. Let us stay in the past, the imagined "glorious" past that the US had. Therefore they have a fear of government and fear of regulations. Let "free market forces" determine our economy. Have the "freedom" to have guns to protect ourselves from any enemy. Every one should be "free" to do what he believes in - the old wild West of John Wayne is still in their blood. In our national blood too.
The "Conservatives" are not "bad" people. We all have some measures of this fear of the unknown, fear of the future. Because of this fear-based approach to life, the "conservatives" also fear global warming. And they are justified to fear GW because it would be very upsetting to our mostly comfortable, even luxurious way of life. To effectively fight global warming, the US, like other wealthy nations, would have to reduce its wasteful ways and would have to cooperate with other nations to help sustain the global climate. We will have to have "sissy" green energy, rather than "solid, reliable" coal and we will have to drive smaller, more energy efficient cars.
We must understand this fear. This is not a joke to them, it induces considerable fear of the unknown, the lost of the imagined "solid" reliable past of their lives.
How can we help them deal with this justifiable fear?
I include this discussion under global warming because I want to show you how the US is operating with low morality, lies and deception in our every day life.
This damaging behavior would destroy our national effort to fight global warming, because many institutions and industries will use similar tools to cheat, to mislead, to escape the laws that could help us fight global warming.
And the US used to have some of the highest adherence to our laws. Just think what will happen in China, India and other developing countries where national laws are rarely adhered to.
We still ignore reality with our lack of any national effort to restrict global warming. Congress is selling its responsibility to the highest bidder, not working for our urgent national needs.
It is so sad to see our country with such a good constitution, with so many promises, with so many good, decent people, deteriorating to the level it has, by deception and lies. The people with power- that means money, have been doing nearly everything they can to gain more income and more power at the expense of the average person.
Yes, the United States' economy and our political system are based on deception and lies. From one side of the country to another the average person has to continuously struggle to keep his/her head above the water because of the wide-spread deceptions in the financial sector, in most of the economy, and in much of our state and federal politics. This economic burden has been increasing for several decades and reached it zenith during the housing crunch. And it is continuing since Congress is under the thumb of donors to their reelection. Our federal government is part of this deception by not preventing it, and by letting it continue. Both political parties are part of this problem.
The deceptions and lies are in front of us but we ignore them because we want to think nicely about our country. It is time to open our eyes, see reality and not bury our heads in the sand. Unless we open our eyes to these facts, they will continue to damage our country and cause a larger and larger percentage of the population to struggle for survival.
Let's look at some details:
1. The powerful advertisement industry: Buy, buy, buy.
I have watched several times the 2 hour PBS program on the Advertisement Industry. It is fascinating how they research tirelessly, using the best brains in our universities, to find how to appeal to our raw, base emotions to pressure us to buy, buy, buy. They use sex, the macho feelings, the desire to impress our partner, elevate our bruised ego, the need to show off. These elements and more have been utilized to strip us of our ability to make rational decisions, both economically and politically.
A minor example: the price of whatever we want to buy is misleading. We buy gas at $2:99 a gallon. So who cares? We are smart and educated, we know it is really $3:00 a gallon. But is it that simple?
First, not every one is smart and educated and has the time to discern this common deception. The best brains in the marketing/advertisement industry have been developing methods to mislead us to think every thing we buy is less expensive than it is, that is much better than it is, or that it will make us better persons, or improve our "unfulfilled" lives. You may say, I am aware of these, I am above these manipulations. But the relentless twisting of our minds is an effective psychological tool that has proven very successful. The best paid brains, with the highest IQ, have been working tirelessly to find way to mislead us to buy things we do not need and do not really want. Look how we have been consuming beyond our abilities for years, putting us in deep personal debts many can not come out off, and the country can not afford.
Our economy has tanked. We have over 10% unemployment, yet we purchased 30 million large, wide screens TV in 2009. The drive to "see the football game" on your new, high definition TV overcome logic and your empty wallet. You have no money in the bank, you owe money on your expensive credit cards, you have no assets, you can not afford to buy this huge flat screen TV, yet you buy it and proudly show it to all your friends. You would not be able to pay your bills, or you will borrow at higher and higher interest rates, but you must have this "necessity."
We watch TV five hours a day. Well designed, appealing advertisements have worked on us, drip by drip, for decades, without your awareness, to let your emotions overcome our common sense. In fact, very few Americans do have common sense when it relates to any thing we want, when it relates to money- to health, to food intake, and recreational drugs.
We strongly object to the notion that we are manipulated, but how else can you explain the nation-wide mania of buying more and more things we can not afford nor need while ignoring our empty bank account?
2. The Banking industry buying Congress:
I just watched a PBS program how the banking industry is lying to us and how it is controlling Congress. The banking industry carry so much political weight that it even impacts the federal controlling agencies that are supposed to protect the public from bank manipulations.
The country is running on the easy availability of money, to any one who is willing to pay immense fees could get a loan. Some of the interest rates are: 466%. Yes, that is true when you get into any of the thousand of early paycheck shops mushrooming across the country. And the people using these services are the least able to afford them. And they are repeating these draining experiences monthly. They do not know better, they do not know how to stop the cycle. Don't blame them, you never were in their shoes! These are the people the government must protect.
But this is only one of many financial institutions that are bilking the public from the left to the right.
It is a fascinating story how the banking industry fought against limiting their credit cards hidden fees and high interest rates. They make tens of billions in profits every year by donation of some $30 millions to members of the Senate Banking Committee. An immense return on investment.
After a lot of public protest and anger, Congress finally put some constrains on the credit card business. But immediately the banks developed new tools to milk card holders by increasing interest rates arbitrarily and reducing credit limits. Watching the arrogance of the spokes lady for the banking system left me cold: you made new rules, we react to them and did every thing allowed us legally to increase our income.
Both the banks and the federal agencies "controlling them" are against limiting the high interest rates people have to pay. The banks say that as long as the rates are clearly stated, the buyer should be aware. The problem is, as a specialist on the issue explained, the bank statements are misleading, hidden, and hard to understand. And the people who suffer the most are people with low income, low education and probably also low ability to grasp the complexity involved. Congress allowed the bank to take advantage of the people less able to deal with this high and confusing interest rates and special payments.
Here is an interesting gimmick Congress use:
The Democratic chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senator Chris Todd said that he is not affected by the $6 millions given to him over the last few years by the banking industry. Not at all. Look, he said, I initiated a bill to control them much further, but I did not have the votes. How did he do it? It is very simple, he developed a bill, with advice from the banking lobby that he knew would not pass. Then he can show that he is defending the public, without a fear that his proposed bill will pass and hurt bank's income - his sponsors. Senator Todd seats for 23 year on this committee, and he knows the rope. Look at his web site and read the lies he says about him protecting the public financial security: "...Chairman will continue to focus on helping working families and protecting our nation's economic security."
(You can see this important Frontline program, dated 1/26/10 on PBS.com,)
3. Congressional stability- a job for life, paid by lobbyists.
With some significant exceptions, Congress does not represent the will of the American people, it represent the will of powerful corporations.
Congresspersons want power above all. I have taken courses, and learned about Congress studying each and every member of the Houses some years back. Their voting records, their district composition, their attitudes too. I also talked privately with several Congressmen. I watched their faces, listen to their emphasis, paid special attention to their body language. Fascinating how similar is their desire for power, for being special - one in a million (actually one House member per three quarters of a million).
An historian wrote that President Teddy Roosevelt was addicted to politics before, during and after his presidency. When one is addicted to any thing, he/she stopped representing the need of the public and fight diligently to continue to be in politics. And that is what most members of Congress have been doing for a long time. And for the last few decades it is beyond control. Every house member has to go for reelection every two years. This is mostly TV struggle that costs several millions in many contested districts. They have to raise thousands of dollars every week from the time they land first in Congress. Money controls votes and money mostly comes from lobbyists. And most of the money from big corporations. Which will have even less limitations after the latest supreme court ruling.
Many congresspersons remain in their seats for decades, and those are the most influential and get the most amount of lobbying money. Which means: the longer you are in Congress, the more influential position you have and the more money you receive to achieve the desire of your sponsors- the people with money. To many Congresspersons deceive us, they use double talk, some cheat and steal, and they are still reelected. Forget about representing the needs of their district or state, their need for continuous power is the motivating force in their lives.
As was said may times: We have the best Congress money can buy.
The self interest of Congress members is why we, the richest country in the world is unable to solve almost any of our important national problems. It is so well known, no one is surprised, money is controlling our politics- but most Congress members would deny it. And we shrug our shoulders and do nothing.
Here is what a highly influential commentator just wrote about Congress:
"So we're paralyzed in the face of mass unemployment and out-of-control health care costs....Blame our political culture that rewards hypocrisy and irresponsibility rather than serious effort to solve America's problems. And blame the filibuster, under which 41 senators can make the country ungovernable, if they choose - and they have chosen.
I am sorry to say this, but the state of the union - not the speech, but the thing itself - isn't looking very good."
Paul Krugman, Noble prize winner economist. NYT. 1/29/10
4. The Housing Collapse.
For several years, millions of homes were sold under false pretence. It was a wide spread deception. Most of it by immoral real estates, lenders, loan officers and their unethical organizations. We are not talking here about a few CEOs heading unethical financial corporations and banks. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of our nice neighbors, people like you and me. They go to church on Sunday and help their kids with their homework. But they did not stop to question the wrongs they were doing, because the extra large amount of money they were pocketing told them they were right. After all, every one was doing it.
This dishonesty is a deep national disease. Spread all across the country, with wide participation all across the housing/lending business. Take what you can and forget how many people you are cheating.
How many of us would have participated in a scheme like that if we could have been so prosperous overnight too?
Money and power control our country to an extreme extent. It is no surprise, most of the time it was like that. The disappointment is that we did not grow up yet to grasp how we are destroying the country.
That it the way the game is played in the US. And we have no voice in this game.
How can we expect that the effort to slow global warming will have a chance with this selfish bend of our country?
We are inclined to be very hard on global warming deniers accusing them of stupidity and much worse. This may not be justified, since we are also deniers but to a different extent.
This is not just an intellectual issue of understanding the essential scientific facts and accepting them- it involves most of our emotions too, much more than almost any other issue. And when we deal with emotions and long-held beliefs it is extremely hard, some times impossible, to alter them.
Those of us who claim that they fully understand the danger of global warming and believe we need to cut down our greenhouse gases to stabilize the climate, are also deniers of some serious aspects of global warming, such as the likelihood of catastrophic events and runaway temperatures that would make our globe uninhabitable!
Very few of us grasp internally the immensity and the time-criticality of this global problem and, therefore, we rarely act with energy, consistency, and with outrage, to influence the fight against GW. We have to pressure national decision-makers: Congress members, to change our business-as-usual approach to GW.
How can we believe that GW is dangerous to human survival and still say: "leave coal plants operating," "do not increase my cost of energy," or "I want to drive as I much as want," "wind turbines and power lines are important, but not in my back yard,"-which are just a few examples how we continue to ignore the severity of GW.
It is not surprising that we just talk and not act, no one can be blamed for it- it is the American way of concentrating on personal satisfaction first and foremost, and on national or global issued last -even when they are the survival of civilization!
Again, it is a highly emotional issue and many can not deal with it in a rational way - that is, making sacrifices commensurate with the immense danger we are all facing. Instead of action, of pressuring Congress, we feel good because we are on the correct side of the issue. We feel good knowing that GW is serious, but we do not do a thing to change the situation. We want our comfort above all.
This is NOT an intellectual pursuit. Knowing the facts about GW does not alter our life-long beliefs of how the world operates. And our own world seems to be so stable and benign now - why should we reduce our comfort, let some one else pressure Congress. "Anyhow, it does not matter what I do."
The fact is that we have people on all sides of the GW spectrum, from those, on the Right, to the Left:
1. Those who do not accept the existence of GW at all,
2. Those who admit it exists but not man- made, so we do not have to do anything,
3. Those who agree it is "man-made" but we have time to slowly modify our energy production, such as continue to use coal power plants,
4. Those towards the Left, who believe time is critical and we need to make major reduction in energy consumption and move fast to depend on green technologies ASAP.
5. But even those do not grasp the full gravity of the issue; they too want the comfort of our wasteful society and expect our careless way to continue.
And any shades in between the above. It is a continuous spectrum of deniers that interfere with our national ability to act decisively to curtail GW. To act with some clear disturbances to our customary way of running our society.
It is not surprising that we have such a wide spectrum of "deniers." GW is the most disturbing development in modern human history, after we emerged from the last ice age 12,000 years ago. A substantial part of the population is unable to grasp GW because of lack of education combined with inability to grasp complex issues of this magnitude. And others are not able to grasp the evolving danger since it is in the distance and did not touch their own world yet.
Fear often moves people to action, but by the time we are able to sense, see, feel the severe damages from GW it would be too late. The train would have left the station already. Clear signs are already here: melting of the polar ice, melting of the Greenland glaciers and most of the glaciers around the world- but we do not see that and do not feel the impact. So why worry? Some one else will deal with it....
We need more people to dedicate themselves to fight GW. I hope you have the ability and courage to be different, to care enough about humanity to seriously get involved because it is very hard to move out of our comfort zone to fight global warming. It takes inner dedication, consistency of thinking, continuous courage, to overcome our natural desire to ignore this problem.
The agonies, deaths and suffering in Haiti are profound now. Over fifty thousands probably died in the earthquake. A much larger amount of people are homeless and in need of food, water and shelter. A huge amount of human misery. Without minimizing the tragedy in Haiti now, it is nothing compare to the eventual suffering of millions of future victims of global warming. But we can't see it, it is in the future, we can not feel it, nor see it on TV, so we ignore it. But the certainty of massive human suffering from global warming is very high. How high depends on our actions on GW now.
We see the pictures of the current suffering in Haiti; it is now and very real. We can identify with the suffering, it touches us. But we can not visualize, nor accept the much larger suffering global warming is certain to bring us. We do not believe GW is for real.
This is the sad case with global warming. We have a keen failure of the imagination. It is in the future, it is not a sudden sharp, singular event that can trigger our emotions now to act, to minimize it. We can do considerable amount now to reduce the likelihood of tipping points- those catastrophic events that would cause immense amount of human agony in dimensions we can not yet grasp. It is in the future and we have no human experience to compare it to or to handle it.
Just one example how future agonies from global warming would be so much larger than today's Haiti. The melting of the Himalayas glaciers. I have heard a recording of Dr. Pachuri (IPCC chair) talking with great pain about the expected drying of the main sources of water to much of India and China. Hundreds of millions of people get their water from the Himalayas glaciers, and in less than 50 years they are expected to barely provide enough water to a vastly larger population than today. What could be done for them if we do not fight GW now with all the tools at our command?
To decisively change our way of using energy and converting to a green energy sources requires imagination and courage beyond any thing we had done before.
FDR was able to prepare us for WWII because it was something we could visualize, since war was in our collective experience and the suffering in Europe was going on for years before we joined the fight. But not so with global warming. It is a slow, steady increase in damage to the global climate. However, the number of deaths, and human suffering from global warming would be many times larger than the fifty millions who perished in WWII. The immense migration of uncounted millions from GW would be so much larger than the huge population changes that resulted from WWII, or the separation of India and Pakistan after their independence.
And yet, we continue our business as usual in Congress, in our government, in our businesses, both in the US and elsewhere.
Are we so frozen in our inability, in our unwillingness to see the future that thousands of reputable scientists are warning us is coming?
Are we without any common sense?
Those of you who have the technical background and the desire to understand the global warming issue in more depth should study the following analysis by Dr. Martin Weitzman, a senior, highly regarded Harvard economist. He is dealing here with the issue we mostly ignore - the likelihood of catastrophic climatic events. But he is bringing up much more than that. (If you do not understand the economic equations, just skip them and read the rest- you will learn a considerable amount.)
Although it is for environmental economists, I believe it is critical for policy makers and environmentalist to grasp the essence of his thoughts.
I have a few quick comments about his work below.
The possibility of catastrophic climate change is characterized by deep structural uncertainties in the science coupled with an economic inability to evaluate meaningfully the welfare losses from high temperatures. The probability of a disastrous collapse of planetary welfare from global warming seems non-negligible, even if this low probability is very difficult to quantify. Through informal reasoning, elementary examples, and simple numerical exercises, this paper attempts to convey an overview of some of the background uncertainties behind extreme climate change. I argue that the tails of the relevant probability distributions should not be ignored because they are likely to be fat with probability and important. A few implications for climate change analysis and policy are explored."
Some of the key points Dr. Weitzman is making are that we have basic problems in our assessment of global warming. Our system of understanding and predicting GW is flawed. Also, we do not know what we do not know and we do not take this into account. Also, we ignore the low probability of potential catastrophic events because we do not know how to deal with them (and, in my own view, the potential outcome is too overwhelming for us to face, so we ignore them.)
I hope to write about it in later, but it is ludicrous to me that we are "predicting," seemingly with great assurance, a certain global temperature rise associated with a certain GHG level. May be these are the calculations of our various models, but we already know how wrong the IPCC predictions could be. How the deterioration of the glaciers and ice sheets advanced much more rapidly than predicted just two years ago. We also do not take sufficiently into account the limitation of our knowledge and the unpredictability of nature.
Where are the safety factors we should have in this crucial process for human survival?
When engineers design a structure we put a safety factor into it, say double or triple the design requirements associated with bridges, and buildings, because our assumptions and calculations may be wrong and the materials we use are not uniformly strong everywhere.
When it comes to GW we think we know the relationships between GHG and global temperatures and what we have to do to slow down the process. We do not factor any safety factor into it as far as I have read.
And take into account the cheating, the mistakes, the propensity of humans to distort and to lie to further their own personal interest, starting with our own Congress, and we realize how the process of fighting GW with today's tools is deeply inadequate and unrealistic.
Even if we were able to globally agree to cut GHG by 20% to 30% by 2020 (from 1990) we are not out of the woods by any means. We simply are unable to grasp that we have to change much more than just conserve and put green technologies all over the world.
As a minimum we will have to reduce population growth drastically, we will have to reduce the growth of our standard of living. We will have to share our wealth better with the deprived, starving portion of the world population or they will demand to waste energy and emit large amounts of GHG as we have been doing for centuries.
I believe to save humanity from immense amount of suffering due to GW we need to turn upside down the way we approach the fight against GW. Instead of doing the minimum we are able without disturbing the status quo, we need to concentrate our effort and do the maximum that is humanly and economically possible to cut GHG as soon as possible.
I. The magnitude of the problem is immense:
Dr. Holdren said that the more elements of GW you understand: energy, oceans, climate, politics, the more depressed you would be.
I understand his point since the complexity and difficulties we would be facing trying to make real changes in our energy consumption are staggering and very difficult. We are minimizing the magnitude of this immense effort and often erroneously compare the transition to past advances in computers and electronics that went down in price with mass production, and were easily adopted by consumers. This comparison is misleading and immensely wrong. Computers and electronics are based on continues miniaturization and minor material and energy consumption.
In immense contrast the energy field is huge; the extraction, transportation, refining, and distribution of global fossil fuels are the largest industrial efforts on the globe!
And it is worse than comparing a bird to an elephant. They are both living things but one eat seeds the other chunks of forests.
The global fossil energy industry uses and transports massive amount of materials across the globe, has a market value in the order of $20 Trillion, and it will do almost anything it can to maximize its income and increase its dominance for as long as it can. Replacing cheap and highly polluting coal would be the toughest fight of all. They have been able to control Congress for many decades, as it is evident today.
Another problem is that the media, and most decision makers and their stuff, are not aware of the magnitude of the issues involved and assume that we can turn on a dime. And we are hiding the negative reality from ourselves and also from the supporting public. We are still talking as if it would be just a pain free, money and job-making opportunity.
There will be major gainers and major losers in the process. We must make sure that those who profit actually achieve critical reduction in GHG and do not do so at great cost to society. And losers should be compensated if their loss is due to public need.
II. GW impacts are hard to accept. It is beyond any previous human experience.
A. Even with all the media coverage, it is still extremely difficult to accept the full magnitude of the danger pose by GW, even for people who study and support the effort to curb GW. We look at the coming danger and reject most of it because it is depressing and we do not want to believe it. Our lives, but especially our children's and grandchildren's lives would be negatively impacted. We want to escape this reality. It is normal to use some level of denial when our wellbeing is threatened, especially when we are powerless to change the situation. This is a necessary defense to keep our sanity. It takes a lot of internal struggle to face the reality of GW.
It is also very hard to fathom the danger of GW because our vision of the world is incomplete, or even distorted. We can't grasp the immense interwoven elements of nature and how fragile the balance of nature is. GW is now destroying this delicate balance.
B. Even educated people, even many scientists, think that they have a reasonable understanding of nature. We do not. The natural world is immensely complex, interconnected, fragile, and way beyond our knowledge. We are now just scratching the surface of understanding of some elements of it. Even our ability to monitor changes is very limited compare to the needs.
It is difficult to visualize the impacts of global warming since it is a small change in temperatures mostly. We do not grasp what small changes in temperatures, just one or two degrees can do. It is a huge change. They can turn a lash forest to dead trees by beetle infestation; it can melt the snow on our mountains so fast that even large rivers reduce their water supply in the summer to a trickle. And it even can turn habitable areas to deserts.
But these are words, not evidence that we can easily grasp and motivate us to action; motivate us to put pressure on our Congress.
The time-lapse chorography shown via the link below hopefully will wake you up to the reality of what is already happening to our environment by global warming. These pictures show how major glaciers are collapsing at such a rapid rate that we finally grasp what a small temperature rise can do.
And this is occurring now, and it is only the beginning.
- Photographer James Balog shares new image sequences from the Extreme Ice Survey, a network of time-lapse cameras recording glaciers receding at an alarming rate, some of the most vivid evidence yet...
Recived today by email from USGS. We already know that the summer ice in the north pole region is decreasing rapidly, more rapidly than predicted by scientists just two years ago. Verifying the deterioration by geological studies helps us "see" the near future clearer. But there are the blinds among us that still do not beleive GW is already upon us and that we need to change the old ways we generate and use energy.
USCS: "There is increased evidence that the Arctic could face seasonally ice-free conditions and much warmer temperatures in the future.
Scientists documented evidence that the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas were too warm to support summer sea ice during the mid-Pliocene warm period (3.3 to 3 million years ago). This period is characterized by warm temperatures similar to those projected for the end of this century, and is used as an analog to understand future conditions.
The U.S. Geological Survey found that summer sea-surface temperatures in the Arctic were between 10 to 18°C (50 to 64°F) during the mid-Pliocene, while current temperatures are around or below 0°C (32°F).
Examining past climate conditions allows for a true understanding of how Earth's climate system really functions. USGS research on the mid-Pliocene is the most comprehensive global reconstruction for any warm period. This will help refine climate models, which currently underestimate the rate of sea ice loss in the Arctic.
Loss of sea ice could have varied and extensive consequences, such as contributions to continued Arctic warming, accelerated coastal erosion due to increased wave activity, impacts to large predators (polar bears and seals) that depend on sea ice cover, intensified mid-latitude storm tracks and increased winter precipitation in western and southern Europe, and less rainfall in the American west.
"In looking back 3 million years, we see a very different pattern of heat distribution than today with much warmer waters in the high latitudes," said USGS scientist Marci Robinson. "The lack of summer sea ice during the mid-Pliocene suggests that the record-setting melting of Arctic sea ice over the past few years could be an early warning of more significant changes to come."
Global average surface temperatures during the mid-Pliocene were about 3°C (5.5°F) greater than today and within the range projected for the 21st century by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Read the full article at http://micropress.org/stratigraphy/.
Scientists studied conditions during the mid-Pliocene by analyzing fossils dated back to this time period. The USGS led this research through the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping group. The primary collaborators in PRISM are Columbia University, Brown University, University of Leeds, University of Bristol, the British Geological Survey and the British Antarctic Survey. Learn more about PRISM research.
USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit www.usgs.gov.
**** www.usgs.gov ****"
It seems to me that the United States is the key stumbling block to getting a satisfactory international agreement. We have it all and we do not want to give our standard of living up. The largest cumulative GHG emissions came from us in our persistent quest to a higher standard of living. We never cared how the rest of the world is managing and this may have to change.
Our perception is that we have the least to lose from increasing temperatures. This is mistaken. Our heated climate will impact our way of life noticeably, much more than we can now grasp. Almost everything in our lives depends on the whether. And unstable climate has substantial impact on the boundaries of our weather.
We are a society that is accustomed to high standard of living and we do not want to give that up. All our economy is driven by false advertisement to consume more, to expect more. For too long we got our way because we have the largest economy, but many see now how unstable is our economy and how much money we owe the Chinese and The Japanese (about the same amount).
Other nations are not willing to listen to us much longer. Especially China. They made extreme sacrifices by reducing their population by 400 million unborn kids, while we did not make any effort yet to cut our GHG. However, China also knows, for example, that the future decline in their water supply from the Himalayas is going down rapidly. China must fight GW for its own survival.
Without China (and India soon) agreement to cut its GHG drastically while they are also increasing the standard of living of their poor (60% of their population), nothing of substance can be done globally. With all their immense capabilities I am not sure that they can do it by themselves. It is a monumental task that must be done rapidly.
BTW, one of the most outstanding thing in this total Copenhagen fiasco is that this is the first time, I believe, that we will understand globally how we are dependent on one another, and that the global politics of the past must change, or else.
"...the current state of knowledge of global warming is sufficiently clear to state that failure to act promptly to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases is overwhelmly likely to lead to changes in climate too extreme and too damaging to be adequately addressed by any adaptation measure that can be foreseen.... "
From Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, testimony before the House Select Committee hearing of the State of Climate Science,
Wed. December 2, 2009, Chaired by Congressman Edward Markey.
The December 09 issue of National Geographic has a very clear diagram of our greenhouse gas and global warming problem. You can see it below on:
It starts with:
"It's simple, really: As long as we pour CO2 into the atmosphere faster than nature drains it out, the planet warms. And that extra carbon takes a long time to drain out of the tub."
I suggest you study this short article that is on the web site above even if you do understand the criticality of GW because it is presented in an effective and clear-to-understand way.
Please look for the second diagram on the second page too.
This was written by By Benjamin Dovečar on 03/12/2009 15:58. We must grasp it to make the needed changes in our global conduct, and most of all, in the USA, the country with the biggest waste culture.
"We live on one and the only planet but we are divided into two worlds that couldn't be more different. The first one is real, biological, the one we cannot survive without because it created us. The second one is artificial, the one we made, the one where we feel safe because we can change and adapt it all we want so that it fits our needs. This is an aggressive, technological world that is now, at the turn of the century, entering a phase that is damaging for each one of us. It is urgent that we change this overly productive and excessively consumerist world and adapt it to the capacity that this planet can still tolerate. The biological world is necessary and cannot ever be replaced. That is why it is urgent that we adapt. We need to do everything that is in our power to get rid of pretentiousness and arrogance and establish a lasting responsibility towards the two worlds. Only if these two worlds -- the biological and the technological -- unite and work together in balance, we will survive and prosper. "
GREENVILLE, South Carolina (Reuters) - The United States is falling behind in the race for clean, renewable energy and risks losing its prominence in high-tech manufacturing, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Monday.
"America has the opportunity to lead the world in a new industrial revolution," Chu told business leaders, political leaders and engineers at a Clemson University symposium.
But, he said, "The world is passing us by. We are falling behind in the clean energy race. ... China is spending $9 billion a month on clean energy ... China has now passed the United States and Europe in high-tech manufacturing. There is no reason the United States should cede high-tech manufacturing to anyone."
Dr. Chu concerns about the lack of drive of American industry to develop alternative energies are well founded. American industry is almost always interested in making fast profit above all else. We lost the electronic industry to Japan decades ago when the US electronic industry decided to seek only business that provided at least 15% profit. The Japanese accepted just 8% profit and took over the field.
To invest in the future of the country and in our economy we need to change how corporate management is rewarded. Most U.S. corporate management is rewarded according to the performance of its stock. And because our stock market emphasis is on short term profits most large US businesses care only about maximizing short term profits. This was evident in the mushrooming growth of the financial sector and its subsequent collapse.
The needs of the nation and willingness to take long term risks are not in the interest of most US business managers. Many "U.S." corporations are basically international in scope and in their interest. They see profit as their main responsibility. They will invest where they can gain the maximum rewards with the minimum amount of risk.
In addition, the lack of effective US laws that tax fossil fuels either directly or via effective Cap and Trade hinders American investment in green technologies. Senator Boxer too modest energy and enevironment bill is now blocked in Congress by Senate Rebublicans and "moderate" Democrats.
The developed countries, such as the EU and the USA, with other large GHG emitters, should cut their GHG emissions by 30% to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic events associated by increased global temperatures.
The views below by the well known and respected Lord Stern expresses my own views about the time criticality of cutting GHG.
The main stumbling block for a global agreement of this magnitude is the US. Senator Boxer effort to pass an environmental and energy bill is facing determined opposition by Republicans and "moderate" Democrats senators who are more interested in staying in power than reducing the dangers of global warming. They are unable to grasp the severity of the issue.
The most effective way for us as individuals to fight global warming is by pressuring our own three members of Congress. Write a short, simple personal letter to your two senators and one House member to tell them your own views and also call their DC office to increase the pressure. Ask friends and relatives to do the same.
Europe should impose a unilateral cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 30% by 2020, according to climate economist Sir Nicholas Stern.
Under the EU's agreement about how to divide up the cuts that would spell a UK reduction of 42% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
Lord Stern described this as "challenging but possible".
He said it would put the UK at the forefront of a low-carbon "industrial revolution".
The EU has promised to increase its proposed 20% cut to 30% if there is a strong agreement at next week's climate conference in Copenhagen - described by Lord Stern as the most important international gathering since World War II.
" If we fail to act strongly, we risk changing the climate and physical geography of the world in ways that would be irreversible "
He said that China and the US had already made concrete offers for the meeting, so the EU should increase the pressure with an ambitious target.
He said that would mean investing between 1% and 2% of national wealth into creating a low-carbon economy, and suggested that the UK government should put extra taxes on high-emitting sectors like aviation and shipping to raise more cash to fund the low-carbon revolution.
But the latest analysis from his team suggests that even the strongest agreement likely at Copenhagen would give the world only a "50-50 chance" of avoiding a level of emissions that the majority of scientists believe could cause catastrophic and irreversible effects.
Lord Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, explained that to avoid emissions levels associated with a 2C rise, greenhouse gases needed to drop from 47 billion tonnes in 2010 to about 44 billion tonnes in 2020.
They would then need to plunge to much less than 20 billion tonnes in 2050. He said pledges from nations so far fell short of the 2020 target by about two billion tonnes.
From: EU 'should cut emissions by 30%'
By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News
Full article at:
You may be interested in a note I just sent to a friend who think GW is not real.
I read the article you wrote rejecting the validity of Global Warming. As much as we do not like it and as much as you think you know about this issue, your views on global warming are erroneous. Lack of governmental action is due to our national political paralysis, due to our "self-interest above all" prevailing in our political system. There are many good, sensible elected officials, but there are more who we should not trust.
I first studied about GW fifty years ago at a University of Washington course on natural resources. We knew then the reality of GW. Our professor told us then that the US would not do anything about it since our political system is unable to deal with long term issues, since most Congresspersons are interested in the next election and this is not on their radar screen. He was right.
We have learned considerably more in the last few decades about the global climate and GW. Global warming is real and progressing. It is already impacting negatively on our California climate, on the US climate, and on the global climate. I would not discuss details; there are a number of detailed reports issued by groups of qualified scientists about GW. Unless you believe they are all unqualified and express their views just to scare us, it is hard to ignore them.
It is very hard to accept the reality of GW, humanity never faced a powerful issue of this severity, and most people would reject it. It is natural to reject GW.
I will ask you one thing, if a doctor told you have cancer and show you the test results you would not argue with him since he/she has the training, experience, and tests to arrive at this conclusion. Yes, there is a very small likelihood that he is mistaken. But will you take the change and ignore it?
I doubt it.
I am sure you know a lot about cars. This is your field of expertise. I would not argue with you on that despite being years ago a garage mechanic myself, repairing/rebuilding engines of motorcycles, cars and tractors too. How many years did you spend learning about the complexity, interaction, fragility of nature, the interaction of ocean and global temperature? About the acidity of the ocean and the food supply? I received my Doctor of Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA twenty five years ago and I know only a small part of the complexity of nature, but I have deep respect to those who devoted their life to understand this issue.
Many people think they grasp the global warming issue because they can see the sun, smell the flowers, see the clouds, sense temperature changes, therefore they believe they are expert on global climate.
Many scientists spent decades studying these issues, testing and modeling the potential impact over time. With all due respect, you are not qualified to comments scientifically except to express your feelings, not knowledge.
Below is what the president of Russia said a few days ago about the gravity of global warming: climate change posed a "catastrophic" threat. He is right.
Why is our own President so quiet about the gravity of Global Warming? Why his key global warming and energy advisers, Dr. Chu and Dr. Holdren, among others, have not been heard from lately saying anything of significance to wake up our sleeping population?
Before President Obama selected his key energy team, such as Dr. Steven Chu and Dr. Holdren, they talked openly about the time-criticality of global warming. They talked openly about the need for direct taxes on fossil fuels, they talked about the urgency of fighting global warming, GW. But no longer. Now they are not allowed to say anything that might interfere with the other issues before the American people and Congress.
This approach is extremely counterproductive. We are surprised that the public's concerned about global warming is dropping, but one of the key causes for this drop is the quiet emanating from the Administration's key and trusted people, scientists we were delighted to know would be part of the new administration. With no words from these key people - we get lower public interest in GW and less support for the energy and Environment bills in Congress.
We are missing the boat. As critical as the health bill is in Congress, if we do not pass it right now, most people will survive. Yes, there will be increased in suffering and deaths. But it is nothing in comparison to the damage and deaths that are around the corner from global warming.
Global warming is progressing rapidly every day and we CAN NOT ERASE THE 70 MILLION TONS OF GREENHOUSE GASES EMITTED DAILY INTO THE ATMOSPHERE. It will stay there for hundreds of years severely aggravating the already serious damage to our climate.
We should concentrate NOW on global warming. The president should put his full weight behind this issue. It is worth risking his second term to accomplish what is needed now. We can not go back and say, opps, we made a mistake.
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned on Monday that climate change posed a "catastrophic" threat in some of the sharpest comments yet on a subject the Kremlin has often seemed reluctant to confront.
Although the United States said that the consensus amongst the 19 leaders at the weekend Asia Pacific summit in Singapore was that a climate change deal this December was unlikely, Medvedev made clear he felt it was a top priority.
"If we don't take joint action, the consequences for the planet may be very distressing to the point that the Arctic and Antarctic ice can melt and change ocean levels," he said shortly before leaving Singapore.
"All of this will have catastrophic consequences."
I was sitting in the Governor's reception area a few years back, waiting to meet his energy adviser to discuss the Gov. photovoltaic initiative. I saw a stream of people going into a large conference room. Some were homemakers, young students, ministers, and businesspersons. It was quite a sight, they marched in with dynamism and hope. I asked the governor's receptionist what these people were doing. and she told me with a big smile, they were going to discuss the Hydrogen Highway.
Did you hear about the Hydrogen Highway lately? No. Because the Gov.'s proposal was based on wishful thinking and lack of basic understanding of science and technology.
I am glad that finally someone woke up to the facts and dare to tell it to the larger-than-life Governor.
Hydrogen in useful in some special, but not wide, applications. Hydrogen is not a readily available fuel. You have to produce it from other fuels, most practically from natural gas. The conversion process wastes a lot of energy too. So, why not use the readily available, easily useable natural gas?
The Governor did not consult the experienced people he should have and even if his staff knew about this folly, they might not dare tell him.
This was one of the first of the governor's energy blunders. Gov. Schwarzenegger is a charismatic man, I like him, he is full of energy and desire to improve the state and the world, but his imagination is not coupled sometimes to reality, in the energy area for sure. And the problem is multiplied by limited advice from his staff. I don't know if they do not dare to tell, or are unaware of the mistakes he is making. Or maybe politics is above reason.
The second Gov.'s. folly is his Solar on One Million Roofs. SB1 of 2005, (California Solar Initiative)
It sounds so dramatic, so appealing but it is devoid of usefulness to the state. I wish it was practical technology and approaching economic use, but it is not. Dr. Steven Chu, our Secretary of Energy, said that photovoltaic, PV, needs to drop to one tenth current prices to be used on a large scale. I agree. I have studied it in great depth, from the energy required to move the electrons inside the solar panels to the production and the motivation of the solar industry in California, the US and the global market. I have communicated often and in depth with the Japanese scientist assigned to analyze the success of the vast Japanese photovoltaic program.
The people who pushed it the hardest, and loudest are those who would profit the most from the transfer of money to their pockets, the solar industry. Most environmental supporters have their hearts in the right place, and without them society would have been blind to the importance of environmental issues, but they often lack technical-economic experience and have little knowledge of the complex issues involved. Some environmental organizations that should know better do not want to oppose their member's sentimental appeal of PV.
The total cost to the people of California, in added taxes, increase in electricity rates, government subsidies, Federal funds, including the hidden costs to the unsuspecting PV owners, would be over fifty billion, and the amount of electricity produced might be up to one percent of California total. At this rate we will break the banks before we can make any useful contribution to greenhouse gas reduction in California or the nation.
More details are available on my website: ginosaronglobalwarming.org.
I discussed the issue in great depth with one of the two California Senators sponsoring the SB1 bill in 2005, and he dropped his sponsorship. I tried to discuss it with the second sponsor but he and his adviser did not agree to meet with me. I have discussed it also with the Governor's energy adviser, just after I witnessed the mass meeting on the Hydrogen Highway I have mentioned earlier:
I presented the material I developed to the Gov. energy adviser, a knowledgeable and smart fellow. I showed him printouts of relevant research and he was upset because I answered with detailed information, and charts and figures every one of his many reservations, objections, and questions. He did not know what to do and in his frustration left the room suddenly. After he returned I understood his dilemma. How could he tell the Governor that his "Great Idea" is not based on facts and might be counterproductive to the state. I bet he did not tell the governor.
Many Assembly members opposed the bill but the Gov. pushed it through by the aggressive effort of Assemblyman Levin. I was privileged to some of the inner workings of the committee dealing with this issue by working closely with many advisers to the Assembly members at the time. But that is another story.
The latest Governor's folly is the High Speed Train from San Diego to San Francisco. What a lovely dream, what a waste of money!
Trains are efficient mass transportation, they can be fast and economical, significantly better than airplanes, trucks or cars -when they can be used on a mass scale. They are very useful on the very busy East Coast corridor and between San Diego and Los Angeles, and Sacramento region to the Bay area. But they should be used were they are practical and economical. And more than all, where they can actually make a significant difference in reducing global warming in a noticeable way. People in the California government told me that their analysis did not show sufficient riders between the Bay area and Los Angeles. It is a dream project that should remain a dream. Put our money first where the largest number of people could benefit. We do not have the tens of billions it would cost to built it when we can not pay for basic education and medical care for the underprivileged.
What we need to do is reduce greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible. This is the essential task we are now facing to reduce the severe damage to the global climate that is already impacting the state, and will be more pronounced in the coming years. California government already acknowledged global warming as serious and need mitigations to reduce its impact on the state. Any delay put humanity deeper into a damaging scenario we are not able to grasp yet. Large number of reliable scientists demonstrated GW by real evidence we can see- at the north pole, in the majority of the world glaciers, and more, that we are on a bad trajectory.
I will not discuss here the scientific evidence, just tell you that we do not have time to play with appealing projects that do not contribute to the urgent effort to reduce the already present global warming.
So now, the Governor wants to attract federal funds, so he cut the ability of local governments to advance improvements in local mass transportation. Instead, the Gov. focuses on a dramatic project that any review will show is based on faulty assumptions. The dream is that somehow millions of Californians will leave their cars in parking lots and take a high speed train to a far destination, rent a car there and proceed to their final destination. There will not be any local mass transit to take them to their final destination since the Governor does not allow them to seek even modest funding to help improve the most practical aspects of their expansions. Most important, there are not so many people who would take this train. You would not be able to divert most of the air traffic and freeway traffic between these destinations to the train.
We need to stop being fascinated by massive dreams and concentrate on projects that are highly likely to make a read difference on GW and help the people too.
The Governor is an appealing man, his dreams are big. He succeeded to rise to a high position with his dreams, but his energy dreams are not practical and should not be allowed to divert us from our focus: cutting greenhouse gases at the maximum rate, and as soon as possible.
A few months ago my wife and I were camping on the shores of a lovely lake in the Sierras Mountains.
It was just two hours drive from home. We fell in love with it last year when we, reluctantly, decided not to drive long distance to see one of my sons and his family in Idaho and later camp in our favorite place in Teton National Park. It was difficult to say goodbye to the visits to the family and Teton but we emitted so much CO2 on our way that we had to do it, at least for now.
It is so hard to grasp the essence of global warming. It is natural to reject the idea that our beautiful world is changing rapidly and for the worse. The very thought that the stable climate that gives us brisk mornings, beautiful sunsets, green, majestic trees, stable weather and food, is leaving us high and dry, is unacceptable. Even people, who agree that the globe is warming, and that it is human driven, do not fully, internalize this danger. It is simply too much for us. We can not accept it; we are just human after all.
We are facing serious national and global problems on scales we never experienced. We don't know what to do and what we try to do often falls apart a short time later. Currently we are facing so many problems, it is difficult to count them: here are some of them:
Housing market collapse, financial markets instability, low dollar value, lost economic power, oil problems, erroneous energy solutions, failing infrastructure, domestic auto industry collapse, inadequate health coverage, Swine Flu, ineffective antibiotics, massive illegal immigration, global warming, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Iran's nuclear weapons, inadequate education system, lower real wages, poverty, and more.
How can the most powerful and richest nation on earth be unable to solve almost any of its serious problems? Why did they arise in the first place?
There are many reasons for it, some are beyond our control, such as the growth of India and China and their demand for seats at the economic and political tables, or the unification of Europe, but many, I believe, are due to our national sickness of ignoring reality, and thinking almost only about ourselves.
"National sickness" is a strong phrase, but I believe it is justified because this national weakness is ingrained deeply in our culture, it is widespread, and prevails even in face of national crises. This deficiency in our culture causes our great nation, guided by an excellent Constitution, endowed by so many natural and human resources, and populated by mostly earnestly good people, to fail in so many of our important efforts. These failures cause a lot of needless pain and suffering to a very number of people, and can reduce our ability to remain a great nation. It also reduces our ability to contribute to urgent global improvements.
This weakness is not caused by lack of skill, or ability. The sickness is our highly ingrained unwillingness to look at reality, accept it, and develop realistic solutions to it. Instead, we think how the situation can benefit us, even if it causes unjust suffering to many other.
This self interest is natural. We are born with it, and as babies and children we need it for our survival. However, my wife, a social worker, emphasized that to counter this essential self interest in the early stages in our lives, we are born into a family to teach us how to balance our self interest with the needs of those around us, and later, with the need of society. Too many families do not provide this essential guidance.
We, as individuals and as a nation are not maturing much beyond the stages of this early self interest.
Some may say that this self interest is a viable and useful asset and benefit the country. I strongly disagree. Some self interest is understandable even desirable, but my experience over many years and in several varied professions proved to me that our inability to see reality and deal with it stems from our excessive self interest.
Of course every person sees reality according to his/her own background and wishes, but when professionals are given responsibility to solve problems they should be able to rise above their narrow self-interest and accomplish the tasks given to them. Professionals, after all, are trained to separate reality from fiction in their own fields. However, in my many long and varied assignments to oversee professionals I have watched carefully and was disappointed. And so was top management. I witness too many professionals, from politicians to engineers, teachers to financiers, are rarely able to focus on the problem and solve it effectively.
In short, we in the US often live in a dream world and believe that our self centered approach to life can be sustained indefinitely without real cost to all of us.
Take just one current example: any one with common sense and basic understanding of finance knows that if you sell millions of homes, with no money down, to people with very limited incomes, many of them will be unable to pay their loans with a slight change in the economy. This will force the mortgage industry, loan speculators (many Edge Funds) and companies associated with it, to fail. Why the big surprise now?
Listen how they call these risky loans: "subprime mortgage loans." Subprime? We lie openly to ourselves!
Here is a typically example I have often witness how professionals are unable to focus together on a problem and solve it:
In a meeting of engineers (or any profession) developing a technical direction for a project, each of the participants recommends a direction that on the surface seems to offers a practical solution. But when you evaluate the discussion without a personal bias you can see that they are not trying to solve the problem, but to elevate their ego or improve their own position in the company. In short, each one attempts to advance his own cause and not concentrate on the solution.
It is difficult to recognize the above personal bias since the discussion seems quite rational and factual, but the facts are selected to support the speaker's point of view, and also are not the most relevant facts.
A company can not be successful for long if that is typical behavior. It may benefit the individual for awhile but not the company.
What is even more serious, often the person involved can not grasp his own bias if faced by it!
The same situation exists on our national level: Our 2007 federal budget is approaching three Trillion dollars; that is ten thousand dollar per every person in the US. (It does include Social Security and the various medical benefit programs however). We can accomplish tremendous amount of good with this huge resource, but our government and both branches of Congress propose solutions and create laws that too often do not benefit the nation. They frequently do not even benefit the citizens that live in his/her district. They mostly benefit the Congressperson's reelection. The day after a congress person is elected, he/she is preparing for the next election. I had long personal discussions with a number of Congresspersons and found that their main motivator is the quest for power. (Of course, many are outstanding legislators.) It is not surprising that the public rates Congress extremely low.
I have worked for many years in a wide variety of fields: electronics, environment, private industry, military industrial complex, national grassroots lobbying, state government and studied in several excellent universities. The underlying behavior was often similar: private interests were paramount, not the task at hand, or the interest of the institution.
EXAMPLES: I would like to illustrate this issue by a few concrete examples from various fields that I was a major player in, and therefore deeply aware of the details and outcomes. Admittedly, I am talking about my own activities, but I like to give concrete examples, rather than theory.
Example 1. SUPERFICIAL INVESTIGATION LEEDS TO MISTAKE.
When I was a manager of digital circuit design at Litton Industry (then a significant company in the military-industrial field) five senior people in engineering, including me, were asked to evaluate the key development project of the company. We listened to several presentations by the project manager and his key staff, and four of us approved the project. I, however, continued my investigation by digging much deeper into the facts:
I discussed privately with each key staff and in great details the key steps in the project. I asked detailed questions such as: what were their goals, how far they had came, what were the major difficulties, could they solve them, how long would it take, and more. In private they were reasonably open, and because I understood technology well they knew they could not distort facts because I would know it. I could then see the total project in its true details.
I presented my findings to top management and recommended to stop the project. Management agreed.
Why did the other well experienced senior staff come to opposite conclusion? Probably because they looked at the surface, listen to self-serving presentations, and did not want to cause trouble.
Example 2: ENGINEERS BLIND TO COMPANY NEEDS.
As head of Research and Development I proposed that we design a specialized computer that would be produced by highly automated equipment. Two years later, during initial design by the Engineering department, I realized that the system would be too costly, and not competitive. I asked for a review of the project and listened carefully to each of the five technical managers, and noticed that each proposed a design, in his own area, that was fascinating to him personally, but had nothing to do with our company needs. I suggested they change direction and drop the high cost automated approach because we would produce only a few systems, but I could not convince them. Their typical answer was: but this was your own proposal. I answered that two years earlier it seemed a cost-effective approach, but not in our current situation.
During a review meeting I presented my objections and all key staff, including the VP in charge disagreed with my conclusions. The president, however, listen carefully, however, stopped the project, and told them to redirect it to answer all of my reservations. He was interested in company profits, they were more interested in satisfying their desires.
But that was still not enough to wake the professionals up. To redirect their effort I asked the VP of Marketing to present the company marketing plan. It was fascinating, even after the presentation they still were back to their old approach, ignoring everything they had just heard! And these were highly educated and experienced engineers!
Only after I was quite forceful, demanding a change, was I able to refocus their direction to satisfy the needs of company and customer and not their personal goals.
Mind you, I did not have authority over these managers, all I had, was the power of logic and facts.
Example 3: PRIVATE INDUSTRY FALSIFYING INFORMATION
During my environmental studies at UCLA I specialized for a period in SO2 (sulfur dioxide) pollution and studied in depth over 50 of the most relevant research reports in this area. A friend at the ARB (California Air Resources Board) gave me a "request for comments" issued by the ARB about setting a new SO2 standard and asked me to respond to it. The ARB received only two insignificant replies from one thousand requests it sent to air pollution specialists across the nation. My friend also gave me an advanced copy of a report by a private company requesting to significantly increase the permissible SO2 standard in California. He was concerned that because the owners of the company were previously high level, respected managers at the EPA (national Environmental Protection Agency) it was possible that their request would be accepted by ARB.
I studied their proposal to increase SO2 limits, and I became outraged at their high level of deception. On the surface their report seemed rational because it was backed up by a large number of references, almost all of which I was very familiar with. The deception was that almost in all cases the use of the reference was false - there was no relationship between the point they were making and the reference! The references did not support their claim- period. They completely misrepresented the facts.
I wrote a detailed scientific report why the tight standard of SO2 should remain, send it to the ARB and discussed this in a meeting with some of my professors. They had difficulty accepting that those known individuals would use such a deception. UCLA gave me a budget to fly to meet with these individuals and discussed my concerns with them.
I flew first to the ARB meeting in Sacramento and listened to the private company making its SO2 case. I did not want to confront them in public and embarrass them, instead, during the intermission I met with each of the three ARB Commissioners present and told them my own findings. Two agreed that the standard should not be relaxed. I discussed it with the third commissioner at some length and eventually he changed his mind and also agreed to retain the lower limit of SO2. ( I did not mention the misinformation of the company - it was not necessary).
I then met in another city at the office of the company whose misleading report I studied and presented my reservations about their misuse of research papers.
It took several hours of detailed discussion until the manager I talked with said that if it was up to him he would agree with me on these points, but "it was not possible." He did not elaborate why it was not possible, but, after careful observation of their operation and meager facilities it was clear to me that the company was doing poorly economically and had to "sell" itself to the coal industry that paid for their effort.
It was a sad to observe that even highly regarded professionals will falsify information if their economic benefits were involved.
To be continued.
Global warming is a complex issue with many elements in it. We often have a quick impression about many aspects of it, but some of these impressions are likely to be erroneous becaues they are based on minimal information. This is a realtively long article but in order to grap the true essence of GW we need to invest time studying it. And this is a good one to study.
By reading this summary you are more likly to understand how global warming has already been impacting our globe and what additional impacts we can expect unless we do all we can to cut greenhouse gases that are intensifying the warming of the climate.
Impacts of Climate Change Coming Faster and Sooner: New Science Report Underlines Urgency for Governments to Seal the Deal in Copenhagen http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=596&ArticleID=6326&l=en&t=long
Washington/Nairobi, 24 September 2009 -The pace and scale of climate change may now be outstripping even the most sobering predictions of the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC).
An analysis of the very latest, peer-reviewed science indicates that many predictions at the upper end of the IPCC's forecasts are becoming ever more likely.
Meanwhile, the newly emerging science points to some events thought likely to occur in longer-term time horizons, as already happening or set to happen far sooner than had previously been thought.
Researchers have become increasingly concerned about ocean acidification linked with the absorption of carbon dioxide in seawater and the impact on shellfish and coral reefs.
Water that can corrode a shell-making substance called aragonite is already welling up along the California coast decades earlier than existing models predict.
Losses from glaciers, ice-sheets and the Polar Regions appear to be happening faster than anticipated, with the Greenland ice sheet, for example, recently seeing melting some 60 percent higher than the previous record of 1998.
Some scientists are now warning that sea levels could rise by up to two meters by 2100 and five to ten times that over following centuries.
There is also growing concern among some scientists that thresholds or tipping points may now be reached in a matter of years or a few decades including dramatic changes to the Indian sub-continent's monsoon, the Sahara and West Africa monsoons, and climate systems affecting a critical ecosystem like the Amazon rainforest.
The report also underlines concern by scientists that the planet is now committed to some damaging and irreversible impacts as a result of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.
Losses of tropical and temperate mountain glaciers affecting perhaps 20 percent to 25 percent of the human population in terms of drinking water, irrigation and hydro-power.
Shifts in the hydrological cycle resulting in the disappearance of regional climates with related losses of ecosystems, species and the spread of drylands northwards and southwards away from the equator.
Recent science suggests that it may still be possible to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. However, this will only happen if there is immediate, cohesive and decisive action to both cut emissions and assist vulnerable countries adapt.
These are among the findings of a report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) entitled Climate Change Science Compendium 2009.
The report, compiled in association with scientists around the world, comes with less than 80 days to go to the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In a foreword to the document, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who this week hosted heads of state in New York, writes, "This Climate Change Science Compendium is a wake-up call. The time for hesitation is over".
"We need the world to realize, once and for all, that the time to act is now and we must work together to address this monumental challenge. This is the moral challenge of our generation."
The Compendium reviews some 400 major scientific contributions to our understanding of Earth Systems and climate change that have been released through peer-reviewed literature, or from research institutions, over the last three years.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said, "The Compendium can never replace the painstaking rigour of an IPCC process a shining example of how the United Nations can provide a path to consensus among the sometimes differing views of more than 190 nations".
"However, scientific knowledge on climate change and forecasting of the likely impacts has been advancing rapidly since the landmark 2007 IPCC report," he added.
"Many governments have asked to be kept abreast of the latest findings. I am sure that this report fulfils that request and will inform ministers' decisions when they meet in the Danish capital in only a few weeks time," said Mr. Steiner.
The research findings and observations in the Compendium are divided into five categories: Earth Systems, Ice, Oceans, Ecosystems and Management. Key developments documented since the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report include:
A new climate modeling system, forecasting average temperatures over a decade by combining natural variation with the impacts of human-induced climate change, projects that at least half of the 10 years following 2009 will exceed the warmest year currently on record. This is despite the fact that natural variation will partially offset the warming "signal" from greenhouse gas emissions.
The growth in carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry has exceeded even the most fossil-fuel intensive scenario developed by the IPCC at the end of the 1990s. Global emissions were growing by 1.1 percent each year from 1990-1999 and this accelerated to 3.5 percent per year from 2000-2007.
The developing and least-developed economies, 80 percent of the world's population, accounted for 73 percent of the global growth of emissions in 2004. However, they contributed only 41 percent of total emissions, and just 23 percent of cumulative emissions since 1750.
Growth of the global economy in the early 2000s and an increase in its carbon intensity (emissions per unit of growth), combined with a decrease in the capacity of ecosystems on land and the oceans to act as carbon "sinks", have led to a rapid increase in the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This has contributed to sooner-than-expected impacts including faster sea-level rise, ocean acidification, melting Arctic sea ice, warming of polar land masses, freshening of ocean currents and shifts in the circulation patterns of the oceans and atmosphere.
The observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations are raising concern among some scientists that warming of between 1.4 and 4.3 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial surface temperatures could occur. This exceeds the range of between 1 and 3 degrees perceived as the threshold for many "tipping points", including the end of summer Arctic sea ice, and the eventual melting of Himalayan glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet.
The melting of mountain glaciers appears to be accelerating, threatening the livelihoods of one fifth or more of the population who depend on glacier ice and seasonal snow for their water supply. For 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges tracked by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, the mean rate of loss since 2000 has roughly doubled since the rate during the previous two decades. Current trends suggest that most glaciers will disappear from the Pyrenees by 2050 and from the mountains of tropical Africa by 2030.
In 2007, summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank to its smallest extent ever, 24 percent less than the previous record in 2005, and 34 percent less than the average minimum extent in the period 1970-2000. In 2008, the minimum ice extent was 9 percent greater than in 2007, but still the second lowest on record.
Until the summer of 2007, most models projected an ice-free September for the Arctic Ocean towards the end of the current century. Reconsideration based on current trends has led to speculation that this could occur as soon as 2030.
Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet surface also seems to be accelerating. In the summer of 2007, the rate of melting was some 60 percent higher than the previous record in 1998.
The loss of ice from West Antarctica is estimated to have increased by 60 per cent in the decade to 2006, and by 140 percent from the Antarctic Peninsula in the same period.
Recent findings show that warming extends well to the south of the Antarctic Peninsula, to cover most of West Antarctica, an area of warming much larger than previously reported.
The hole in the ozone layer has had a cooling effect on Antarctica, and is partly responsible for masking expected warming on the continent. Recovery of stratospheric ozone, thanks to the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances, is projected to increase Antarctic temperatures in coming decades.
Recent estimates of the combined impact of melting land-ice and thermal expansion of the oceans suggest a plausible average sea level rise of between 0.8 and 2.0 metres above the 1990 level by 2100. This compares with a projected rise of between 18 and 59 centimetres in the last IPCC report, which did not include an estimate of large-scale changes in ice-melt rates, due to lack of consensus.
Oceans are becoming more acidic more quickly than expected, jeopardizing the ability of shellfish and corals to form their external skeletons. Water that can corrode a shell-making carbonate substance called aragonite is already welling up during the summer along the California coast, decades earlier than models predict.
Since the 2007 IPCC report, wide-ranging surveys have shown changes to the seasonal behaviour and distribution of all well-studied marine, freshwater and terrestrial groups of plants and animals. Polar and mountaintop species have seen severe contractions of their ranges.
A recent study projecting the impacts of climate change on the pattern of marine biodiversity suggests dramatic changes to come. Ecosystems in sub-polar waters, the tropics and semi-enclosed seas are predicted to suffer numerous extinctions by 2050, while the Arctic and Southern Oceans will experience severe species invasions. Marine ecosystems as a whole may see a species turnover of up to 60 percent.
Under the IPCC scenario that most closely matches current trends i.e. with the highest projected emissions between 12 and 39 percent of the Earth's land surface could experience previously unknown climate conditions by 2100. A similar proportion, between 10 and 48 percent, will see existing climates disappear. Many of these "disappearing climates" coincide with biodiversity hotspots, and with the added problem of fragmented habitats and physical obstructions to migration, it is feared many species will struggle to adapt to the new conditions.
Perennial drought conditions have already been observed in South-eastern Australia and South-western North America. Projections suggest that persistent water scarcity will increase in a number of regions in coming years, including southern and northern Africa, the Mediterranean, much of the Middle East, a broad band in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
The reality of a rapidly-changing climate may make conventional approaches to conservation and restoration of habitats ineffective. Drastic measures such as large-scale translocation or assisted colonization of species may need to be considered.
Eco-agriculture, in which landscapes are managed to sustain a range of ecosystem services, including food production, may need to replace the current segregation of land use between conservation and production. This could help create resilient agricultural ecosystems better able to adapt to the changing climate conditions.
Experts increasingly agree that active protection of tropical forests is a cost-effective means of cutting global emissions. An international mechanism of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is likely to emerge as a central component of a new agreement in Copenhagen. However, many issues need to be resolved, such as how to verify the reductions and ensuring fair treatment of local and indigenous forest communities.
A number of innovative approaches are emerging to keep carbon out of the atmosphere, including the use of "biochar", biologically-derived charcoal. It is mixed in soils, increasing fertility and potentially locking up carbon for centuries. This is a 21st century application of a technology known as Terra Preta, or Black Earth, used by Amazon peoples before the arrival of Europeans in South America.
Global Warming is unlike any other issue because we have
no previous human experience of this magnitude and it is
natural to minimize its significance.
To paraphrase Neil Bohr, if Global Warming has not shaken you up yet, you probably haven't understood it.
We must turn upside down our approach to fighting Global Warming because time is of the essence:
Instead of regulating Greenhouse Gases to a level that may have no negative economic impact, we must reduce GHG to the maximum that could be technically and economically implementable.
Some Key Points
1. Most scientific reports tells us that the current impacts of global temperature rise are worse than estimated earlier, that we are not sure how fast the temperature will rise, and do not know what is the maximum level of GHG nature can tolerate before a catastrophic tipping point could start. Therefore, we must set the tightest limits on global and national GHG levels that we are able to.
2. Early cuts of GHG have considerably more critical impacts than later reductions.
3. Most proposed cuts in GHG are based on the UN-IPCC, AR4 report. However, we can not rely on it to set limits to GHG emissions since it was politically constrained, ignored potential catastrophic events, and some of its negative predictions have already been exceeded. We now have more relevant data and more insight.
4. GHG level is already too high thus increasing global temperatures and damaging global Climate. We are not sure at what level we must stabilize GHG to prevent even more severe harm to the world population because the complexity of global climate is beyond our actual knowledge. Modeling is approximation. If we err, we must err on the safe side.
5. The natural self interest of most people distorts their ability to cooperate and follow the need of the larger society. Therefore, there is considerable uncertainty how the laws enacted will effect the actual GHG emissions in the US. And we are one the most law-abiding nations.
6. The self interest of nations and desire for power of the influentials could severely distort the compliance with global GHG regulations. Think of the oil exporting nations, as a minimum.
7. Tipping points: There is some low, but not insignificant, probability that increased levels of GHG could trigger catastrophic, massive, uncontrolled releases of GHG that could cause significant increase in global temperatures. That possible temperature increase, beyond 10 C or even 20 C degrees, could cause severe, unmitigated damage to the global climate that could render our Earth essentially uninhabitable.
8. Regarding the risk of Tipping Points - the catastrophic release of stored GHG. Because this is the only home humanity has, we can not take the RISK of destroying our climate. RISK is the probability times the magnitude of the event. Even with low probability, the enormous magnitude of the potential damage to our globe by catastrophic release of GHG makes the risk massive and unacceptable. Therefore, we must dedicate a high percentage of our global resources to reduce GHG as fast as possible and the largest reduction possible.
9. Humanity has never encountered a danger to its existence of this level before. We can not truly grasp the seriousness of GW. Even with all the high levels of scientific and technical powers we have, we are unprepared. We do not know what we do not know or understand.
10. We still operate by "we vs. them" laws. This simply can not work. We are all in the same boat. National and Global cooperation beyond any previous level is mandatory. We depend on one another, especially the US and China.
11. We, the US, will have to "give" more than other nations. We took the "most" to date. US is 4.5% of global population, occupying 1.9% of Earth surfaces, and emitted to date 30% of all GHG.
12. We have to be more honest and forward in our international dealing re. GW or we will not get the crucial cooperation required. We would not be able to cover up superficial regulations and minimal actions by public relation bluff, so common in our culture and in Congress. Foreign governments are not likely to buy into that kind of thinking that much of our own public does.
13. The complexity of global climate, the significant gaps in our knowledge, the uncertainty of GHG laws, their compliance, their possible impacts, global cooperation required, and potential high risk to our survival, put us in a dangerous territory. We do not know what the results of all GHG curtailment laws and effort would achieve. Therefore, we can not use the usual American approach: "don't worry, everything will turn up right in the end." We must aim towards minimizing global human suffering and maximizing the chance for human survival.
14. The initial GHG reductions that we should take now must be decisive, based on proven technologies and real knowledge, not experimental or unproven; that may or may not work, such as Carbon Capture and Storage. We can not take the risks of unproven technologies since the C02 that we did not cut will remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. After we accomplish significant GHG reductions, then we can bring proven new approaches on line too.
15. "We will pay for this one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we'll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives." GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI, former head Central Command.
16. To paraphrase Jean Monnet: Global Warming can not be reduced without efforts that are proportionate to the danger which GW threatens humanity.
WE MUST CURTAIL GHG TO THE MAXIMUM LEVEL WE CAN POSSIBLY MANAGE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Dr. of Environmental Science, M.S. Electrical Engineering.