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Does climate cloud the bigger picture?

Richard Black | 17:16 UK time, Friday, 3 July 2009

OK. So it's a big question for a Friday afternoon, I know - particularly on a London summer's Friday afternoon that sees the greatest male tennis player in history and the best UK player in a lifetime treading Wimbledon's green swards, and the mighty Blur reuniting for an evening's Britpopping in Hyde Park; but it's with me despite all this, along with a desire to share.

Wimbledon_spectatorThe question is this: how should society prioritise the world''s various environmental woes?

The political space - no doubt about it - is crammed full of climate change.

When you talk about this to people working in other fields - the decline in global biodiversity, the spreading of deserts, the depletion of our oceans - you tend to get two batches of opinions about whether that domination is justified.

One opinion holds that climate change threatens to worsen all other environmental ills to such an extent that it makes sense to prioritise it; and raising its profile will in the end focus attention on all the other issues too.

The other bemoans the comparative lack of attention given to all else in comparison with climate change.

A couple of things have had me mulling the question this week.

First off was a workshop I took part in at the World Conference of Science Journalists in London on the reporting of climate change.

One of the points I raised was that if you look at the biosphere's most recent health check - the UN Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) report from 2007 - it's obvious that climate shifts are far from being the only kind of environmental trend.

Andy Revkin of the New York Times was also speaking; and he began his talk (as he begins the blurb for his dot.earth blog) by recalling that within a lifetime there will be nine billion people on the planet's surface, all clamouring for its sustenance.

I resurrected, for this workshop, a slide I made a couple of years ago, an attempt to link some of the major environmental trends and their drivers schematically; I've pasted it below.

Environmental_issues_schematicSo whereas we see climate change (the smoke picture) driving water shortages and desertification, we see that deforestation (the tree at bottom left) currently drives climate change more than climate change drives deforestation.

Climate change is projected to become a major driver of biodiversity decline (the cute furry face); but at the moment, the major factor is habitat loss as the human footprint expands.

When it comes to fisheries (forgive the rather gruesome shark head picture), the single biggest driver is undoubtedly over-consumption of what nature provides - the over-use of resources, which also drives climate change and deforestation and just about everything else.

And underlying it all is the growth in the human species.

Have I got this right? I think so - no-one's commented adversely whenever I've brought it forward - but I'll await comment and criticism gladly.

The second thing that brought the question into my head was a party to mark the 85th birthday of Maurice Strong, who (among many other accomplishments) chaired what's commonly cited as the world's first true environment summit, the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972.

A few months ago I was reading some material about Stockholm, and it was fascinating to see what issues were prioritised then, and what's changed since.

Fallout from atomic bomb tests, chemical pollution, the expanding human population, whaling, and how urban life could be made sustainable and bearable against the projected expansion of cities - these were all prominent then, with few nods to climatic change or the global loss of species.

In part, priorities have changed with the geopolitical world. Atomic bombs (or as we call them now, nuclear weapons) are no longer tested in open air - in most nuclear states, they're hardly tested at all - and President Obama now holds out the prospect of culling their numbers to levels unimaginable during the period when the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction penetrated far enough into the zeitgeist that rock stars wrote anthems about it.

Ian_GillanScience has advanced since then, which has brought bigger declines, better analyses of the problems and a wider range of ideas for solving them. Cleverer fishing methods accelerated the fall in commercial fish stocks; and now clever zoologists are plotting ways to restore some of the degraded species.

Substitutes have been found for some of the most damaging synthetic chemicals, and other regulated out of use.

These trends explain some of the changing priorities. But other changes are less obvious: why, for example, has population growth gone away as a subject of discourse?

I've tried to find rational ways of figuring out answers to the prioritisation conundrum.

One sample question is this: if climate impacts are at present largely reversible but the loss of a species self-evidently isn't, does that make biodiversity loss more important than climate change?

Another is this: if environmental issues are so interlinked, then why do we bother separating them out in the way that the Rio conventions do? Woudn't it be more logical to try to sort everything out en masse?

A third is this: if the fundamental drivers of all the trends are the swelling in the human population and our expanding thirst for raw materials, why aren't these the things that politicians and environmental groups are shouting about and trying to change?

I don't have the answers to any of this; I'm not even sure if such a thing as the "right" answer exists, still less whether a way of finding it logically can be discovered.

Perhaps explanations will be found in cultural and political values rather than logical assessment.

But I think it's important that we at least discuss the point, not least for the very practical reason that some of the policies being considered as a response to climate change - such as biofuels, and carbon sequestration through forestry and ocean fertilisation - could exacerbate other environmental problems.

The weekend awaits; and a glorious one it promises to be here in London. Strawberries and cream, and a double dose of Parklife, may be the immediate priorities.

I look forward to seeing what you've made of the longer term ones by the time a new working week opens for business.

Comments

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  • 1. At 5:42pm on 03 Jul 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    Still reading and enjoying your blog, Richard :)

    i think you have raised a very good point when you say:

    if the fundamental drivers of all the trends are the swelling in the human population and our expanding thirst for raw materials, why aren't these the things that politicians and environmental groups are shouting about and trying to change?

    I've said this many times here, but it still remains the subject that many people won't discuss (at least not in the open)

    the continued rise in population is simply unsustainable, the solution is unpalatable

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  • 2. At 6:04pm on 03 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "The political space - no doubt about it - is crammed full of climate change. "

    That's because there's a lot of money at stake if AGW is mitigated. Trillions of petro-dollars.

    CT: you've missed the most important word in that quote: IF.

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  • 3. At 6:34pm on 03 Jul 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    there's even more money at stake if the alarmists get their way and we go any further down this path

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  • 4. At 6:43pm on 03 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Richard Black: "... if the fundamental drivers of all the trends are the swelling in the human population and our expanding thirst for raw materials, why aren't these the things that politicians and environmental groups are shouting about and trying to change?"

    Maybe Richard missed the fact, but many blogs back we had quite some discussions on this subject and some of us pushed (possibly in different ways) for recognition of the fact that infinite expansion is clearly impractical if not to say, downright impossible.

    As to the question above; as far as politicians go, clearly our economic and political systems are so misguidedly organised around a mad craving for expansion that they have no brakes to consider applying.

    As for environmentalists; maybe they prefer to fight for problems they at least see a possibly manageable. Fighting for reducing population is rather "going out on a limb" because of the enormous opposition.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 5. At 6:47pm on 03 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Richard Black:

    "The question is this: how should society prioritise the world''s various environmental woes?"
    --------------------------------

    This blog is the real McCoy. 100% !!!
    -------------

    Rather than try and repeat our "Mayday Declaration," I will post another quote, a sort of all inclusive answer:

    "To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible."
    - Antoine de Saint-Exupery (pilot), "Wind, Sand and Stars", 1939

    The revisionist history such as that of Ronald Wright ("Stolen Continents", "A Brief History of Progress", "What is America"), Joel Bakan's "The Corporation", and the findings of what I shall call modern science, all indicate to me that the "Columbian Age" (Wright) and the Industrial Revolution, and perhaps much of modern civilization, are a failed experiment.

    Domesticating the human being has left in place a populace which cannot act responsibly, quite obviously.

    Therefore we must reconnect again with the natural world in a meaningful way, which will hopefully center us.

    We must reorder our society so that when children come of age they are not children still, in disguise, but responsible adults.

    Responsible human beings would not overpopulate the planet, or drive climate change, or fish the oceans to collapse, etc...

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 6. At 7:05pm on 03 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Responsible human beings would not overpopulate the planet, or drive climate change, or fish the oceans to collapse, etc..."

    Mind you, it's quicker and easier to reduce our pollution and (ab)use of resources by not wasting them rather than wait until people die off.

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  • 7. At 7:12pm on 03 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "3. At 6:34pm on 03 Jul 2009, MangoChutneyUKOK wrote:

    there's even more money at stake if the alarmists get their way and we go any further down this path"

    There is?

    More than the 40 BILLION of just one company?

    http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/01/news/companies/exxon_earnings/

    Lets check that against one of the weather forecasting providers:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/verification/valuable.html

    Note:

    1) That 40Bn is profit. No costs. Just the plain profit.
    2) The Met Office does much more than just climate research
    3) The human-resource-intensive weather observation is likely to be the majority of the costs of operation, which operation would have to be done whether climate were being investigated or not.

    "even more money"???

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  • 8. At 8:14pm on 03 Jul 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    @yeah_whatever

    your naivety is showing

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  • 9. At 8:50pm on 03 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "your naivety is showing"

    Your bias is obvious.

    $40Bn profit on one side, a fraction of £82million on the other and WHICH side do you think has more to lose?

    The one in millions...

    Ever take maths?

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  • 10. At 03:42am on 04 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To #3: Your words:

    "there's even more money at stake if the alarmists, get their way and we go any further down this path" (my emphasis)
    -----------

    "alarmist";

    1)a person who habitually spreads alarming rumors, exaggerated reports of danger, etc, 2) a person easily frightened and likely to anticipate the worst.
    ----------

    No! Your categorization of people who have taken the time and effort to bring the environmental problems of the world to public attention just doesn't fit. Carl Sagan, Jacques Yves Cousteau, Jim Hansen, Richard Alley, James Lovelock, Maurice Strong, Reinhold Messner...; Richard Black, fellow bloggers...

    Nor does your use of the word alarmist fit the measured and peer reviewed desription of the state of the planet in the words of bodies such as the International Panel on Climate Change, the Hadley Centre of the United Kingdom, the Russian Meteorological Office and Russian Academy of Sciences, The Royal Society, the United States National Academy of Sciences, the editorial revues of the magazine "Nature", the World Health Organization, the World Wildlife Fund etc, etc, etc...

    So I am left assuming that you are either unaware of the breadth and depth of the environmental situation in the early twenty-first century, or that you are aware and are simply one of the irresponsible man-children I referred to in post #5.

    "Business as usual" is the mantra of the utopian ostritch with head in the sand, or more probably, of vested and irresponsible interests. No other conclusion is really likely.

    Time to grow up and accept your responsibility as a world citizen, which would include making yourself aware of whatever science you currently lack or do not understand, or of realizing the very near criminal negligence which you flirt with when you deny without justifiable cause.

    Your use of the word 'money' and its context is a giveaway - it is probably what has governed your behavior for a long time.

    - Manysummits, father, mountaineer, pilot, geologist, concerned twenty-first century world citizen - very tired of putting up with inane, ill-informed, or pernicious comments -

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  • 11. At 05:45am on 04 Jul 2009, siggy_7 wrote:

    CuckooToo and Richard have both touched on a subject that was previously covered in an opinion blog I recall - population growth remains the great Elephant in the room of environmentalism. I suspect this is due to several factors:

    1. Politicians don't want to talk about it because it's a much harder and more sensitive issue to tackle than climate change, or at least perceived to be (I don't dispute this)
    2. Environmentalists don't want to talk about it, at least in part because the traditional environmentalist movement is tied in with the political left, which makes capitalist business easy to portray as the evil baddie that we must stop (although this is wearing thin with communist China's growth in emissions, caused at least in part by - population growth!)
    3. Technologists (the camp of which I consider myself a member) don't want to talk about it because it's not a problem that lies in our area and we'd rather go make business and interesting work for ourselves building nuclear fusion reactors and marine turbines
    4. Previous experiences with population control, e.g. China's 1 child policy, were portrayed as a humanitarian disaster (not sure I know enough about it to comment on whether this is actually the case, but I have no knowledge to dispute this view)

    I remain convinced though that while us technologists can solve humanity's problems with its climate at present, there are limits to what we can sustainably achieve even with developing technology. At some point, the limiting factor isn't going to be how much energy we can produce without killing the planet (I think we're well on the road to solving that one) but simply the amount of land that we need for agriculture and habitation. It's the one thing they're not making more of as the famous saying goes (extreme projects such as oil-rich nations building holiday islands excepted) and I do hope that the environmentalist movement starts to take this problem seriously soon and really bring it out in the open, because until politicians are pushed to do something about it the exponential growth model will continue to rule.

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  • 12. At 06:21am on 04 Jul 2009, davijones wrote:

    China has led the way with its one child policy in controlling population. This has prevented the birth of hundreds of millions of children and is the only way in which globally it will be possible to contain the human population. The alternative of unconstrained population growth will lead to famine, disease and war as the ways in which population will be limited.

    The UK has 60 million people and this population is too large for the size of country. We solve the problem by imports but when North Sea oil ceases in a few years time it may be that our own population size will become unsustainable.

    Globally it is the under developed countries that are seeing the greatest increases in population and it is in these countries that there is the most pressing need for some limit on the numbers of children. Unfortunately it is these countries that are most influenced by organizations that advocate unlimited numbers of children as a god given right.

    It has been shown that where women are given freedom they will limit the number of children they have according to their ability to look after them. Equal rights for women in the third world could well be the best way to control the growth in the human population.

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  • 13. At 08:00am on 04 Jul 2009, rossglory wrote:

    I think that if you take the time to look into the environmental impact we (humans) are having then you will see that climate change is just one of many that WILL have catastrophic effects on human civilisation. If you have an open mind you will also recognise that our individualistic, consumer based cultures are unsustainable. So you are absolutely right Richard, ALL the issues need to be addressed but it will take some significant changes.

    I also think the main reason climate change generates so much debate (on comment boards anyway) is the lack of understanding of the science and the vested interests muddying the waters. Maybe these vested interests have been successful with some of the other issues and managed to get them off the political agenda. But they need to be resolved alongside climate change because climate change will exacerbate most of them.

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  • 14. At 2:01pm on 04 Jul 2009, mariansummerlight wrote:

    A good article about the interconnectedness of the damage we are doing and it's implications. I agree talking about over populaton has become non PC. Population control has to move back up the agenda to where it was in the 60's and 70's.

    It is frustrating because we know what the problem is and we have a good idea how we can put it right - or least stop it getting worse. But there is simply no political will to do so. Lots of talking in summits just adds to the problem with all the hot air produced. Setting targest without following through with couragious policies taking on vested interests and doing what's right rather than what's popular.

    Ironically biting the bullet and doing the right thing might solve more than the climate problem.

    Reducing our reliance on consumer durables and tackling our addiction to growth might make us happier and more fulfilled. An economy based on local production for local need might make work more satisfying and creative, not just in the developmemt of new and lost skills but also seeing the contribution made to the local community. Less mobility may encourage people to invest in their communities and neighbourhoods building the social connections we are losing that contribute to higher happiness levels in less developed countries. Greater equality, more cooperation and less competition may reduce stress and the ill health that develops as a consequence. As long as poeple can be asssured of material security they can use that foundation to achieve more fulfillment.

    The other side of the equation is population growth. To encourage poulation reduction a combination of material security, higher life expectance, education, women's rights and access to birth control is required.

    We also need an alternative development model for the developing world other than copying the process the west has gone through.
    A model that prioritised need provision and social infrastructure as well as local and appropriate economic acivity.

    Utopianistic granted. However unless we start thinking and acting differently the priorities won't change, politicians will continue to kow tow to vested interests, the environment will continue to deteriorate and we have no idea how the various areas of decline will interact and possibly multiply the effects.

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  • 15. At 2:17pm on 04 Jul 2009, Maurizio Morabito wrote:

    Richard: I suggest either of us goes to see a doctor in the very near future, as we have an almost complete agreement. First time ever!!

    >some of the policies being considered as a
    >response to climate change [...] could exacerbate
    >other environmental problems

    Perhaps you will now understand why I simply cannot bear the constant barrage of absurdist climate change claims (shrinking sheep included). AND the BBC's own fixation with all things global warming.

    IMNSHO, anybody that cares about the environment should be wary of overshooting remarks about any particular environmental issue: those will not help solve anything, and likely will make things worse overall.

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  • 16. At 2:54pm on 04 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    \\\ Independence Day - Why not for all of Humanity? ///

    Is it not the responsibility of every man and woman on the planet to recognize their place as twenty-first century world citizens, and to act responsibly in the face of a looming, multi-faceted environmental meltdown?

    Is it not time for faiths and cultures rooted in a past which no longer exists to be replaced by ones which embrace a new world order, one built around the inherent dignity of the individual, and the "sacred balance" [1] between "Man and His World"? [2]

    [1] Dr David Suziki, Canadian environmentalist
    [2] Mayor Jean Drapeau of Montreal, originator and visionary of the 1967 World's Fair - "Man and His World."

    \\\ Manysummits, Underacanoe, and Cloudrunner, July 4, 2009 ///

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  • 17. At 3:11pm on 04 Jul 2009, anakim wrote:

    I read somewhere recently on the internet that in this world a woman gives birth to a baby every three seconds.
    This woman should be found and stopped.

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  • 18. At 3:27pm on 04 Jul 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    Richard Black writes: "Perhaps explanations will be found in cultural and political values rather than logical assessment."

    yes! an interesting debate regarding this argument is takin place on Mark Easton's blog.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/07/map_of_the_week_why_costa_rica.html

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  • 19. At 3:33pm on 04 Jul 2009, Covkenny wrote:

    It is painfully obvious that population/consumption is a major driver. Green party manifestos use to include elements of population control but it proved to be a vote loser. The notion that we can control by consumption alone (if at all we need to)is a gift to control freak politicians. They can dictate all areas of policy and taxation based on a flawed idea we can control the climate/weather by adjusting co2 emmisions. Sooner or later we will all realise that millions ney billions of pounds/dollars are being poured down a big black hole that will achieve at best minimal change and probably more likely 'zilch'. As long as the research money keeps pouring in scientists will keep banging on about it.

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  • 20. At 4:31pm on 04 Jul 2009, Rillian wrote:

    Call me a geek if you must but surely the good old sci-fi of dragging an asteroid to near Earth orbit is coming closer and closer? With the possibilty of a new Space Age on the horizon, driven by consumers, surely an influx of materials of major proportions is due? Yes there would be an enormous amount of capital required for such a venture but the payback would be tremendous! I know this won't solve the underlying problem but having an asteroid to mine with rich resources may give our race a chance at surviving the oncoming disasters?? I know, naive in the extreme, but we have to believe we can do something.. So come on someone up there put together a package and get the charisma to make it a reality!!! For the sake of our children...

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  • 21. At 5:23pm on 04 Jul 2009, stnylan wrote:

    Your chart, in common with most environmental breakdowns, misses out all the non-human factors on climate. I know that the environmentalist crowd wishes for humanity to be responsible and at fault for it every little thing, but this is a scientifically indefensible. We are currently in a perfectly natural warming cycle that started back in the 18th century. A cycle that has been affected by humanity yes, but but there you go. And there are plenty of other perfectly natural cycles that will be feeding into the climate change of our own times. How inconventient the fact that the world's climate has, if our evidence is anything to go by, inherently unstable.

    That aside, this article is surely a mild attempt to cheer on the despotic side of environmentalism that wishes to rule our lives down the tiniest detail, including limiting our right to have children. I say no. If the price of our freedom is the devastation of our planet, that is a price worht paying. If you are so in favour of population controls, move to China.

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  • 22. At 6:34pm on 04 Jul 2009, TJ wrote:

    I looked at the picture at the top of the article and am now sure that civilization as we know it has come to the tripping point of extinction.

    PIMM's IN A CAN!!!!!!!!! Perhaps I've been away from the UK for too long, but this was a wakeup call to my senses.

    So no need to worry anymore. It will all come to an end soon so make the most of what is left

    Interesting and poignant article though.

    INDEPENDANCE DAY TODAY. Celebrations are calling.....


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  • 23. At 7:22pm on 04 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    timjenvey #22: "INDEPENDANCE DAY TODAY"

    From...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States)

    "In the United States, Independence Day, known as, and more commonly referred to by the phrase "Fourth of July", is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States."

    Enjoy!!!!...

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 24. At 7:37pm on 04 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    A simple question.

    Our population here on Earth is increasing; if we rule out space travel, can it go on forever?

    No debate; Yes or No?

    Answers please...

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  • 25. At 8:46pm on 04 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Re #24:

    I'll go first then;

    Vote 1: NO

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  • 26. At 11:04pm on 04 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To jr4412 #18:

    Very interesting link and map. It's got me thinking. particularly after we three just returned from our first Stampede Breakfast.
    ------------

    Thoughts on a Saturday Afternoon

    Just a walk away, at a local church, there was music, face painting, a big 'jumpy', free food (pancakes and ham), coffee and juice, horse rides, all under a broken but warm and beautiful Alberta sky. Here many human beings gathered to celebrate life at a local due - no axes were being ground that I could tell.

    Music: Our traditions here go back at least seventy to eighty thousand years, as a painted flute has just been reported recently from a cave somewhere - I can't remember the location. Our local group of western musicians were playing "Folsom Prison Blues", by the late Johnny Cash, and everyones' feet were a tapping.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5Ts4M3irWM

    Face Painting Same as above. With paints, I can't imagine that we weren't decorating our bodies eighty millennia ago. Cloudrunner chose a cat, and his face was all blue and black and white, with whiskers of course. Many of the children were similarly painted, reminding me of the non-verbal traditions of our remote ancestors. So perfectly natural, so perfectly illogical - so - Human!

    Food The sharing of food is as old as, if not the hills, as humanity. Too bad we have forgotten those without.

    Horse Rides We may have hunted the ancestral horse to extinction here in North America ten ot twelve thousand years ago, but we brought them back. A hopeful development.

    The Weather Many were the sky-watchers, as rain clouds and virga threatened to the west, but our parade was not rained on. Watching the sky undoubtedly precedes even body painting and music. There are signs most of us are again turning our faces to the heavens, both literally, and let us hope, metaphorically too, and away from the almighty dollar of Environmental Armageddon.

    The Jumpy Cloudrunner's favorite, and a huge hit with all the children. Climbing and thrills - feeling to the max - just because!

    Adults - or at least one - Me! I see hanging from my belt a keychain in the form of a green anodized mini-carabiner, with my name engraved on it, a treasured gift from a departed friend in the days when I was a full-time mountaineer. Attached to it, a small pewter medallion from San Juan Capistrano Mission in California, on our family's migration west from Montreal in 1971. Beside it, another medallion, from the John Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, California, and with me, a writing pen purchased there ca 2002, on my six week solo expedition to climb Picacho del Diablo in Baja California. Sentimental claptrap - and proud of it.
    --------------

    The Church of Reason

    Now I can be logical if pressed. One hundred percent in University 'Logic' class, straight 'A's in calculus and geophysics, etc...

    But logic and reason are like my ice-axe. Both are symbols and tools, extremely useful at times, but in the end just tools. My ice-axe can no more get me up a mountain than my logic can make me happy, or human!

    And logic will not extricate us from the environmental crisis which is growing larger day by day, as logically driven 'business as usual' seeks its irresponsible and pathological end.

    The storm is just arriving overhead. I can see it through the library window.

    - Manysummits - on a Calgary Stampede return to the Myth of the Cowboy -
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy

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  • 27. At 11:41pm on 04 Jul 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    manysumits #26.

    re. "Thoughts on a Saturday Afternoon"

    sounds lovely, mercifully, there are times when one can simply 'feel human' and alive.


    "And logic will not extricate us from the environmental crisis which is growing larger day by day, as logically driven 'business as usual' seeks its irresponsible and pathological end."

    too right, (borrowing your teminology) a bit like a stampede -- some angst-ridden, crazed leader animals and everybody else following blindly. unstoppable?

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  • 28. At 09:24am on 05 Jul 2009, Poliandro wrote:

    Mr. Black, you touch on a very impotant subject.

    I agree with your diagram, which means that the main root of our predicament has to do with people. But the human factor, which takes only one slot in your present schema, should be decomposed.

    Of course population and its growth should be taken into account, but another equally critical dimension is our current level of consumption and its parallel tendency to increase. (In fact I don't know how the two curves would compare)

    Nobody in her senses should think of blaming the Chinese for wanting to eat beef, or the Indians for their aspiration to own a car. Not, at least, SO FAR as "everyone" else does. But if the world simply can't take it, wouldn't it be rational to diminish the pressure through universal measures of dire austerity? Would it be possible to trade austerity from the rich and the middle classes, for effective population control, mainly from the poor? (But think of the Americans: their population is growing)

    The very first problem, it seems to me, is how could anyone consensuate these measures with the rich, without having to wait for the "incentive" of a general catastrophe. The first answer is: of course the rich can't be beaten - not fast enough to avert Dies irae, at any rate (much on the contrary). So they only can be persuaded.

    They should be illustrated with excellent arguments, otherwise they won't even laugh at you. That's why the people should be given a third position in the schema. The first two contribute to the problem, while the third is for the thinking. Anyway, from the start it was unavoidable to focus on what WE can do to extricate ourselves from our predicament, especially if WE are (at least) contributing to exacerbate it.

    But the second problem is this: those "excellent" arguments I mentioned are to be evaluated from the standpoint of the rich, and if I was in their shoes maybe I would say that they are lacking. I've read very little about climate change projections, but although they announce some costly consequences (e.g., they predict the inundation of New York and London and the expansion of tropical diseases), to the most important and greedy readers they might appear to have an attractive side as well. In fact these studies promise the opening of vast territories for agriculture in the North, as well as the dissolution of many Southern states, coupled with a precipítous decline of their present populations, the remains of which would perhaps sent back to the Neolithic. Of course their corporations would loose the markets and most of the semi-slave workforce, but by preserving relatively unscathed their own societies, the really rich (and Russia) would achieve complete world domination. I guess the main problem they would face will be that of dealing with the Southern uclear powers, especially India and China. Beyond that, maybe they would deem it rational to "face the challenge", as thay like to say, and hope to survive the extinction of a million animal and plant species.

    I suspect that THAT is the kind of argument that we the others, if you will, must try to confute. Can we?

    P.D. The dictum from Saint-Éxupery is marvellous.
    "To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible."
    - Antoine de Saint-Exupery (pilot), "Wind, Sand and Stars", 1939
    Thanks 5. Manysummits

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  • 29. At 09:44am on 05 Jul 2009, swatts2 wrote:

    Summary.

    The government has a policy of switching to a low carbon economy. However, the advice it gets from its own advisers is:
    1.The direct effect of burning fossil fuel on atmospheric CO2 is quite small, about 25%-35%.
    2.There are many causes of increased atmospheric CO2 that have nothing to do with burning fossil fuel. An increase in solar activity or cutting down a large amount of rain forest could cause increase atmospheric CO2. The science is highly uncertain.
    3. There are also causes of temperature increase, other than atmospheric CO2, such as methane, water vapour etc. The science is highly uncertain.
    4. Increasing quantities of atmospheric CO2 have a diminishing temperature/greenhouse effect. Therefore, future economic growth is less polluting than past economic growth. So one can establish the saturation level of atmospheric CO2 p.p.m. at which carbon use is pollution-free.

    The government is in a position to question its own policy, if it chooses to do so.

    Hadley predictions: CO2 parts per million.
    The UK government (Hadley Centre) has announced temperature predictions for 2010-2060 based on 12 different climate models. They state that their central estimate for temperature increase over 50 years (2010-2060) is 2 deg.cent. The figure applies to the entire UK area and is essentially a global estimate or at least a northern hemisphere effect. The Hadley centre states that the land carbon cycle is expected to become less efficient at absorbing CO2 as the climate warms and that this area of science has substantial uncertainty. Here is an e-mail from the centre in which they accept that it is not so much increasing industrial emissions of CO2 but the ability of the biosphere to absorb CO2 that will account for increased C02 ppm in future:
    The rate of growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration depends on future fossil fuel usage, and on the ability of the biosphere to absorb CO2. The IPCC SRES scenarios used for UKCP09 all predict emissions of CO2 to increase during the first half of the 21st century, while the land carbon cycle is expected to become less efficient at absorbing CO2 as the climate warms. Consequently, the rate of CO2 build up in the atmosphere over the next 50 years is projected to be higher than in the recent past. There is still substantial uncertainty in the strength of feedbacks between climate and the carbon cycle that determine CO2 uptake, so the UKCP09 projections sample a range of land carbon cycles consistent with current understanding. For the SRES A1B scenario the projected median value for mean atmospheric CO2 concentration for the period 2050-2070 is 600 ppmV. The projected 10-90% range for this period is 520-650 ppmV with A1B forcing. More detailed analysis will be presented in future publications from the Met Office Hadley Centre.

    Enquiries Officer
    UK Climate Impacts Programme
    School of Geography and Environment.

    When one takes a closer look at the predictions, one sees that it is difficult to account for an increase of this magnitude in terms of CO2 emissions alone. The Hadley estimates for 2010-2060 appear to be based on uncertain theoretical models and computer predictions about secondary greenhouse effects other than CO2 such as methane, aerosol pollutants and water vapour etc. Society is being asked to make reductions in carbon usage, even though fossil fuel itself is not necessarily the actual culprit. It is important to keep the public well informed about all the alleged causes of global warming.
    The following graphic http://www.ipcc.ch/graphics/graphics/syr/fig2-3.jpg shows an increase in atmospheric CO2 parts per million for 1960-2000 of 50. It is a simple linear function and one can therefore use simple extrapolation to estimate a figure for the increase in atmospheric CO2 parts per million of 125 per 100 years. Taking a current value of 390 CO2 ppm for 2010 and taking 1760 as the base year for the pre-industrial initial state of CO2 ppm =280, one might thus estimate cumulative atmospheric CO2 as follows:

    1760 280 ppm approx.
    1960 340 ppm approx.
    2010 390 ppm approx.
    2060 450 ppm approx.
    2110 515 ppm approx.
    2145 560 ppm approx.

    (These atmospheric CO2 figures will be used later to estimate temperature increases see below. N.B. There is not complete consistency in these numbers due to different estimating rules).
    These estimates of future cumulative CO2 emissions for the period 2010-2145 are essentially calculations about the path of future economic growth, particularly in China and India, that would have been provided to the Hadley Centre (Met.Office) by an outside source.
    By contrast, the Hadley centre predicts that CO2 ppm increase for 2010- 2060 will be up from the current level of 390 ppm to 600 CO2 ppm in 2060, far more than suggested above. Can CO2 ppm really grow more than 210 in 50 years? This is only possible if non-fossil fuel feedbacks, such as methane and falls in aerosol pollution, deforestation etc. account for 2/3 of the increase in CO2 ppm. According to the centre most of the increase in CO2 ppm is thus due to changes in the ability of the biosphere to absorb CO2 as the climate warms (i.e. feedbacks).
    Although the Hadley Centre claims that future CO2 ppm increase is not simply linear, reality shows that carbon intensivity per unit of GDP is falling naturally in USA and EU. Russia, an example par excellence of an old smoke-stack economy, is the country with the highest carbon intensivity per unit of GDP in the world.
    It is doubly difficult to see how atmospheric CO2 alone could account for a 2c. increase over the next 50 years in view of the following fact:
    "...This means that a doubling of CO2 from a different value (say, from the present value or from 560 ppm) gives the same forcing as a doubling from 280 ppm. But the response of the climate system, of course, could differ somewhat for different initial states, which is why doubling from 280 ppm should be included in any exact definition..." Stefan Ramhstorf, member of IPCC.
    In other words, the marginal rate of CO2 temperature effect is falling. Increased quantities of CO2 emission have a diminishing greenhouse effect. Therefore, future economic growth is less polluting than past economic growth. Increased levels of atmospheric CO2 will have a very diminished temperature effect beyond 560 p.p.m. So one must establish the saturation level of atmospheric CO2 p.p.m. at which the temperature effect becomes negligible. This is the level at which carbon use is pollution-free. And specifically, in the range where we are today, a doubling of CO2 from the current level of 390 ppm to 780 ppm would have temperature effect of 3c.+/-1.
    Hadley predictions: Temperature Increases.
    The basic historical model of the CO2 greenhouse effect is that, starting from the initial pre-industrial level of 280 p.p.m. of atmospheric CO2, a doubling from 280 ppm to 560 ppm has a temperature effect of 3c +/- 1. Leaving aside other factors such as the methane effect, aerosols and claims about water vapour and applying this greenhouse effect for CO2 to the above estimates of future levels of atmospheric CO2, one can make the following alternative estimates of future temperature increase, based on CO2 emissions alone:

    For: the period 2010-2060 (390 ppm to 450 ppm) = 60 increase in CO2 ppm
    At 3c (per doubling of CO2):= 0.64 deg.cent increase.
    At 4c (per doubling of CO2):= 0.857 deg.cent increase.

    These values are below the range of the Hadley estimates. If CO2 were the major cause of global warming, the 2c temperature increase that is proposed by the Hadley Centre would require a CO2 ppm increase in the order of 140 ppm over 50 years. This is scarcely a probable estimate on the basis of likely future economic development.

    And:

    from 2010 to 2145 (390 ppm to 560 ppm) = 170 increase in CO2 ppm.
    At 3c (per doubling of CO2):= 1.82 deg.cent increase.
    At 4c (per doubling of CO2):= 2.428 deg.cent increase.

    For convenience one may use 1760 as a base year for the start of industrial activity and subsequent human influence on the atmosphere. My understanding is that human activity caused 1c. temperature increase over 1760-1960 and a further 0.5c. increase over 1960-2010. The rate of temperature increase in the period 1960-2010 was thus already 2 times greater than the rate for 1760-1960. The Hadley centre now predicts a further 2c. temperature increase making a total increase of 3.5c. for the period 1760-2060. The UK government is suggesting that CO2 ppm increase for 2010- 2060 will be up from the current level of 390 ppm to well in excess of 600 CO2 ppm. Can CO2 ppm really grow more than 210 in 50 years? This is only possible if non-fossil fuel effects and feedbacks account for 2/3 of the increase in CO2 ppm.

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  • 30. At 11:40am on 05 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    So far a resounding lack of response to my extremely simple question in #24.

    Maybe it was too easy. Or is it the unwillingness to face unpleasant facts? Because the answer is easy: No.
    Since there were no objections I take it you all agree.

    So to question number 2, which is a bit harder.

    Take a look at a graph of world population against time.
    Here is a good one...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Population_curve.svg

    Question 2.
    At what level do you expect world population to actually stop increasing?

    Answers in billions (10^9) from 6.8 upwards, or "Don't know".

    Here is some help...
    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Population-milestones.jpg

    /davblo2


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  • 31. At 11:52am on 05 Jul 2009, Maurizio Morabito wrote:

    Why, davblo2, how about genetic engineering, if we keep halving the average height for a human, we will be able to crowd the Earth with millions of billions *-)

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  • 32. At 12:52pm on 05 Jul 2009, alewisa wrote:

    No, we cannot indefinitely increase the world's population.

    However, even if the human race does not make a concious effort to resolve the problems, we will ultimately and inadvertently "resolve" the problem of over-population and dwindling natural resources.

    War. Conflict, aggression, whatever you want to call it. It is a natural response. Look at the "animal world" (and we are animals, no matter how objectionable that is to some people); where food/water are scarce, animals fight to "protect" their access. In history, we do much the same - Japan attached America in 1941 because the US (perhaps inadvertently) threatened Japans access to oil, or felt threatened. Do I need to mention "lebensraum"...

    Oil and gas resources are not infinite, no matter what Shell, BP, et al tell us. Fusion, wind, tidal, power sources 'solve' the electrical generation requirement, but do not address the major oil requirement - mass motor transportation; car, aeroplane, ship. So called "green cars" do not cope with mass systems, neither can they function well without an extremely well-developed infrastructure to refuel them; how long would a "green" car last in Africa, Siberia, and other large remote areas?

    Will it be a single factor, or a combination of issues, that bring matters to a head? Near total depletion of oil resources, over-crowding due to excessive population, dwindling habitable/agricultural landspace due to rising seas and desertification, or even a landmass with too many people and too few resources (India-China, hungrily looking north at Mongolia, Siberia, Russia)?

    My bet is that before Mother Nature kills us all with climate change, or before we all accept Utopian responsible living (can you really see chavs and rednecks accpeting that!), we will 'solve' the problem ourselves with a war.

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  • 33. At 1:14pm on 05 Jul 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    alewisa #32.

    "Oil and gas resources are not infinite, no matter what Shell, BP, et al tell us. Fusion, wind, tidal, power sources 'solve' the electrical generation requirement, but do not address the major oil requirement - mass motor transportation; car, aeroplane, ship. So called "green cars" do not cope with mass systems, neither can they function well without an extremely well-developed infrastructure to refuel them; how long would a "green" car last in Africa, Siberia, and other large remote areas?"

    flawed thinking.

    the only "problem" wind, tidal, solar, etc power sources do not solve is how the big industries can continue to make (excessive) profits. near free energy is an anathema to the vested interests.

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  • 34. At 1:18pm on 05 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2:

    Good Morning from Calgary!

    We are off to the Stampede in a few minutes, so this will necessarily be short.

    Look at how we have progressed on this blog together - very encouraging.

    I imagine you are seeing those stormclouds approaching rapidly, and are at that stage where dithering seems counterproductive.

    More later.

    - Manysummits - wrangler for a day -

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  • 35. At 1:30pm on 05 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Re: the final link in #30. You have to cut and paste the whole address into your browser. (This site doesn't present the whole text of the link but stops at the ":" )

    Re: #32: alewisa...

    Thanks; I'll take that as a "Don't know"

    (I have a feeling that is going to be the most common answer)

    /davblo2

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  • 36. At 1:49pm on 05 Jul 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    davblo2 #30.

    "At what level do you expect world population to actually stop increasing?"

    in two/three years from now war and disease will stop increase, perhaps even lead to sharp reduction. ;(

    sustainable max population (barring human folly, assuming current levels of technology): ~14bn.

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  • 37. At 3:20pm on 05 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Re my #30

    "Question 2: At what level do you expect world population to actually stop increasing?"

    I just wanted to emphasise and make clear for all those who haven't answered. I'm not asking for detailed explanations, justifications or debates. Those can come later.

    Just a simple number (in billions) or "Don't know".
    Nothing more than that.
    That can't be too much to ask can it?

    Me, I'm a "Don't know"; and it scares me.

    /davblo2

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  • 38. At 3:39pm on 05 Jul 2009, robertlucien wrote:

    Its not surprising that population is such a fraught issue. A few years age I too an in depth look at it and my conclusion was pretty appalling. Basically human overpopulation plus increasing equalization between the rich and poor could easily be enough to push the earth past a tipping point in 'food' resources that sends us to disaster.
    The sensible option is to use birth control to reduce population, but this is so slow that its probably already becoming to late for it to work. The other options all involve increasing the death rate - culling, mass extermination, mass starvation, industrial scale cannibalism, no pretty options.

    That is of course a worst case scenario, but we are seeing signs of strain in food resources every day. - And food production is set to be particularly hit by climate change.
    In fact when we look at climate change the impacts look so huge that it must be the top priority. It is set to make large parts of the planet into uninhabitable dessert, it is set to change and destroy the habitats of species all over the world, it is set to kill some 1 to 4 billion people in the next 150 years.

    The worst thing about climate change though is that it is quite a few steps down the road towards "irreversible" global warming and potentially the death of all life on earth. There is hope though even then - if we can survive. In fact there is a solution that can solve all our environmental problems in one shot - and that is space-biome and terraforming science and tech.

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  • 39. At 4:23pm on 05 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Re #30

    Trying the link to the population graph again...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Population_curve.svg

    /davblo2

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  • 40. At 4:24pm on 05 Jul 2009, robertlucien wrote:

    On #24 I remember hearing once that the 'carrying' capacity of the earth is around some 30 billion people - at 100% of land and sea use. - But this is a pretty old estimate (from the 70's) and makes no allowances for the environment.

    The Earth actually could support a lot more with advanced space biome technology. - The real limits would only come from energy generation limits or maximum building height, but 1000 billion wouldn't be impossible. Of course life in a place like that would be total hell.

    (One cubic km of farming space could feed 10 to 100 million, multiply that by 10,000 etc.)

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  • 41. At 8:46pm on 05 Jul 2009, U14060183 wrote:

    Mention of population growth need not lead directly and immediately to discussions of policies that limit human rights such as China's one child per couple rule. Education, emancipation of women and improved awareness have proven track records of leading to smaller family size by choice. Even small reductions in fertility and growth rate provide valuable time for technologies to keep up with human demands at least for this century. All environmentally concerned citizens should convey this important message.

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  • 42. At 11:13pm on 05 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2, re population growth:

    Seven point five billion.

    That's an intuitive estimate. I'll leave the rarified air of reasoned debate to others, and stay low to the ground, where the air is rich and sweet.

    Why?

    I've long puzzled over human behavior, specifically civilized behaviors.

    Two examples:

    1) We just returned from the Calgary Stampede grounds. Aside from a ride or two or three (Cloudrunner), we always end up at Indian Village, where painted teepees, meat smoking over open fires, and the big drum of the plains fills the air with peace and calm - the only place on the grounds where this is to be found. After an initial megafaunal extinction, which coincidentally followed hard on the heels of the arrival of modern man here at the close of the last ice-age, the aboriginal population here learned to live in this new environment, and did so for many thousands of years. Yet, where conditions were amenable to farming, great civilizations arose, and every one that I have studied has shown the distinctive signs of irresposible perversion, yet our own civilized archaeologists are wont to laud these very same civilizations as the pinnacle of achievement, when in fact they were out of touch, and hence perverse. Too close to home I suppose.

    2) I've just started to read the revisionist history book "1434" by Gavin Menzies. Eunuchs figure prominently in the first paragraphs outlining the Chinese Empire of that bygone era. Yes, an empire where eunuchs are in positions of power. Hmm - sounds like perversion of the first order to me.

    Mind transport me, manysummits, to that Chinese Empire, or the Aztec Empire, or the Inca Empire, and I would be secretely very happy to see my lords and masters of the sun and so forth reduced in status, even eliminated. Too close to home?

    Let's see - half of the 'citizens' of the UK, Canada, and the United States don't vote at all. Maybe they have spoken on how they feel about their sun gods?

    So - human psychology will do us in, because many of us don't want to save this particular civilization, read, particular form of perversion. That would be a combination of conscious and unconscious thought, I imagine.

    Guess what? Lincoln may be right after all - "public opinion is everything; with it, nothing can fail, without it, nothing can succeed."

    The evidence on most of the multi-faceted environmental crisis is good enough, much of it is crystal clear, but only to the priests (scientists).

    Maybe the people don't like their priests either, being in a sense the enablers of the sun gods. It takes an Einstein or an Oppenheimer, or even a von Braun, to design and build, after all. Doesn't it?

    Closest to home, given the chance, I, manysummits, like the Grizzly Bear, found myself driven into the mountains, and found there a kind of peace, or perhaps it was only a chance at survival. Back here in civilzation, I find myself completely out of place, like a plains Indian beating his drum for the entertainment of the civilized onlooker.

    All of the above just came out, but since you asked, I answered.

    - Manysummits, wishin' it weren't so -

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  • 43. At 00:56am on 06 Jul 2009, ChazBlair wrote:

    As i see it there is only the 1 problem, if there were far fewer people all other issues would be greatly diminished. How do you reduce the worlds population without violation of human rights?

    education- does not work

    government controls - Works in China(tho has many problems), EU could probably be convinced, USA would be very slow to take up, Middle East/Asia would have many religious/cultural issues. Best get started ASAP

    Natural (eg.Bird Flu) Will happen sooner or later at current rate of expansion. Far more suffering/hardship.

    If none of this happens, starvation and war will be right round the corner(oh wait its already here).

    ONE DECISION, MAKE THE RIGHT ONE.

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  • 44. At 01:11am on 06 Jul 2009, LarryKealey wrote:



    Richard, I am astonished! Good Show.

    Now, can someone please get this damn elephant out of the room?

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  • 45. At 01:20am on 06 Jul 2009, LarryKealey wrote:


    @Poliandro writes (and writes and writes and writes...)

    Very insightful analysis; although, I think the IPCC (and probably Hadley) actually use a figure of 6 for feedback (as opposed to 2 or 3). Using 6-10 will proivde you with numbers which fit the projections quite nicely - but then again, you have that pesky past to deal with...just doesn't add up, does it...

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  • 46. At 01:56am on 06 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    It Is Not Rocket Science !

    You know the situation, because you have taken time from your busy and self-important lives to find out.

    You decide to space two children five years apart.

    Before you conceive, you eat a specialized diet to produce healthy children.

    Momma stays at home, and nurses for three and a half years, because that is best.

    For the rest of your life, and your childrens', you abandon the western diet and you eat properly, so that you live fully and well, and as a side benefit, you don't have astronomical health care costs in your society.

    Beginning of end of problem.

    Life 101, known by every non-civilized society since time immemorial

    Start with "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration", by Weston Price.

    - Manysummits -

    PS: What are the chances that this seed will land on fertile ground?

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  • 47. At 02:47am on 06 Jul 2009, U14060183 wrote:

    ChazBlair - Please read

    http://www.examiner.com/x-15195-Population-Trends-Examiner~y2009m7d1-Two-is-enough-or-how-an-Islamic-republic-made-contraceptives-a-regular-part-of-daily-life?cid=email-this-article

    or

    http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer

    These links report that Iran, an Islamic country, has lowered its fertility rate from 6-8 in the late 1980s to approximately 2 today. This is through a combination of government-encouraged college courses on population, public service announcements and accessibility to family planning information and contraception. All voluntary. Its fertility rate is much less than the surrounding countries and this has been accomplished in less than one generation. We can argue at another time whether education alone can achieve zero population growth but here is proof that education can make a major difference in the next few decades.

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  • 48. At 08:54am on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    Larry wails:
    "Now, can someone please get this damn elephant out of the room?"

    But if population is the reason why things are going bad, then the reason why they are going bad is human caused.

    Anthropogenic.

    And since the "bad" being discussed here is climate change and the increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, this means human caused climate change.

    AGW.

    Are you now agreeing that there's a problem with humans causing warming through CO2?

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  • 49. At 09:09am on 06 Jul 2009, siggy_7 wrote:

    Re #24 and #30: Question 1 No, question 2 whichever comes first out of successfully controlling population growth on a global scale - education/governmental controls etc - or running out of land to grow food on (a figure is hard to give for this because agricultural production will be affected both by future developments in agricultural science and their uptake, and the effect of climate change on production. The figure of ~14bn in #36 sounds in the right area.

    #33 : "the only "problem" wind, tidal, solar, etc power sources do not solve is how the big industries can continue to make (excessive) profits. near free energy is an anathema to the vested interests."

    Availability of supply? I wish that people would stop pedalling this idea that somehow the only reason we burn fossil fuels is to line the pockets of OPEC. Many renewable technologies have now been developed (or are being developed), but out of all the technologies only wind has commercially come to fruition on a significant scale. The company I work for does quite a bit of development work on marine renewables; many of the technical challenges have yet to be ironed out before large-scale market implementation can take place not because no-one will pay for it but because it's an infant technology that faces huge challenges that no-one's figured the answers out to yet, and these things take a lot of time and risky investment. Even when implemented on a large scale, renewables face other problems, such as all the current grid connections being in the wrong place (which is very expensive to expand in the right directions), and availability of supply - the wind doesn't necessarily blow harder when we all get up and turn on our kettles after watching the tennis, no matter how much you might like to think it does - backup solutions (fossil fuels usually) add to the cost as well. So please, stop pedalling the myth that green energy is cheap - if it was, then new companies generating on renewables would have been set up long ago that undercut all the existing fossil fuel generators and made a killing. Green energy will come - it has to - but it won't take 5 minutes, and it won't be cheap.

    Population growth previously covered in the green room in these articles:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7078857.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4584572.stm

    I could have sworn there was another very good one, but I couldn't locate it in the archives.

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  • 50. At 09:55am on 06 Jul 2009, minuend wrote:

    Adherence to AGW is the single biggest disaster to be inflicted on politics, the sciences, the environmental movement and the drive against poverty.

    You name the organisation: be it the UN, the Royal Society, even Oxfam; all have become blinded by the creed of climate alarmism.

    These organisations have forgotten that 9 billion people will have a first order effect on resources and on climate (direct land and water usage).

    It's time politicians stood up and denounced climate alarmism because they themselves know that currently all AGW models for land, sea and atmosphere are now in serious error. The world is cooling but the population is rising.

    Deal with the reality of a rising population and forget all this nonsense over CO2.

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  • 51. At 10:14am on 06 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    Have you got it right?

    Yes I think so.

    The man made global warming frenzy is at the forefront because of the things it can be used to justify. Anti-capitalists can use it to justify creating a medieval de-industrialised world, governments can use it to justify ever increasing taxes.

    Taking one of the issues you raise (de-forestation)- how would the UK tax man or an anti-capitalist living on benefits in Brighton gain from stopping an Indonesian farmer burning down another hectare of the rain forest? The environment would gain, but Gordon Brown won't get a penny in tax and the anti-capitalist won't be a step nearer to a Zimbabwe style economic melt down.

    Fossil fuels are outdated, but in trying to make sense of this let's not forget the self interest of all the people who have jumped on the global warming bandwagon.

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  • 52. At 10:37am on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    And the Anti-AGW frenzy is taken on by many people for POLITICAL reasons:

    1) Big Oil stand to lose trillions
    2) Governments tax oil or have friends in oil companies
    3) Liberal think-tanks want Corporation Uber Alles
    4) God Squad don't like the thought that we could kill off His Creation
    5) God Squad are looking forward to the rapture
    6) Anti-intellectuals just love this sort of "debate"
    7) Big Tobacco can get scientists villified or sidelined, then where's the "proof" of cancer from smoking???
    8) Joe Blow hates government
    9) And scientists
    10) And anything that *might* *possibly* be a tax
    11) And wants to drive a big SUV to show off the size of his paycheck
    12) And ecologists
    13) And anything that puts them out
    14) Or blames them
    15) etc...

    There's a huge Anti-AGW bandwagon and you can see it in the multitudinous explanations they've managed to go through all the way from "there's no proof we need more data" to "it's happening but it's not our fault" to "it's cooling (for the last three years)".

    If they knew what was going on, why the flip-flopping?

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  • 53. At 11:09am on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Deal with the reality of a rising population and forget all this nonsense over CO2."

    What nonsense?

    Do humans not burn fossilfuels?

    Does not CO2 constitute a greenhouse gas?

    Is this not one reason for reducing population, so as to reduce demand?

    If you have proof (real proof) that CO2 isn't a problem, print it.

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  • 54. At 11:13am on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Availability of supply? I wish that people would stop pedalling this idea that somehow the only reason we burn fossil fuels is to line the pockets of OPEC."

    How about you stop making up that this is the reason.

    The Sun shines everywhere at some time. The wind blows everywhere at some time. The tides flow at the costs and there are hills in the interior (where you can use hydroelectric power).

    Such availability doesn't say anything about OPEC being a source.

    "Many renewable technologies have now been developed (or are being developed), but out of all the technologies only wind has commercially come to fruition on a significant scale."

    And how long have they been *attempted* to make a significant scale energy production (by your measure of "significant")? A few decades?

    How long did it take nuclear power to become even a bit-player in the energy production of the world? With all that government taxed money being paid in to the research (with nary a complaint from those who bewail grants and research into alternative energy sources) too!

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  • 55. At 11:41am on 06 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Sunspot 1024

    It looks like another solar
    cycle is beginning:
    http://www.spaceweather.com/

    This will probably make a small contribution to climate change, as solar irradiance will begin a steady increase over the next few years. It will apparently also affect the Polar Mesospheric/Noctilucent Cloud Groups.
    ------------

    I also see that the anti-AGW Group are seizing on population growth as a means to deflect attention from man-made climate change. This opportunistic entry of theirs into this blog is becoming very predictable, as is their total lack of intelligent discussion on any topic that does not suit their purpose.

    It is 'business as usual' that is utopian in this world, at this time.

    It is also time for everyone who still has a backbone to act unilaterally to change 'business as usual', which will often entail real pain and disruption of current comfortable lifestyles personally.

    If you are making money hand over fist as a green, are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?
    -------------

    To davblo2: What do you think of the 7.5 billion dialogue? (post #42)

    - Manysummits in Calgary -

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  • 56. At 11:44am on 06 Jul 2009, calcination wrote:

    I can think of several reasons, acting together, as to why population is less thought of these days.
    1) Countries such as China or Iran have cut their population growth drastically, and the developed countries are within sight of a demographic changeover. The population growth curve looks like it flattens by mid century. So the end of growth is in sight, therefore people aren't so worried.

    2) The same kind of people that lauded the bubbles of the last 30 years and run much of the media don't care about population growth or the environment, they'd rather make money any way they can. Worrying about population growth is irrelevant, therefore it does not make it into the media because it is not part of the world view they are trying to get across.

    I see that jon112uk is peddling the usual misdirection regarding environmentalists. If he actually read anything written by them, he would find that many of them are at the forefront of encouraging research into alternative energy sources, some even favour nuclear power, hardly a medieval technology. Moreover it requires modern science to know what and how you are damaging the environment; I havn't seen anyone protesting at the environmental cost of putting satellites in orbit to monitor our climate.

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  • 57. At 12:28pm on 06 Jul 2009, OneWorldStandards wrote:

    It's not population - it's population x consumption. In the rich world it's the second half of the equation that's the bigger problem. The challenge is how to solve the equation whilst maintaining (or for most people raising) the quality of life / 'living standards'. But I'm puzzled - environmentalists do talk about population, as well as consumption. But read 'The Economist' - a whole special report based on the proposal that human population must increase exponentially for ever to avoid economic problems. And sustainable consumption is marginalised as 'greenery'. There's your problem.

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  • 58. At 12:37pm on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "But I'm puzzled - environmentalists do talk about population, as well as consumption. "

    It's another thread to Big Oil moving the idea away from "use less oil". You'll notice most of them talk about China or the third world, rather than the world they live in.

    Somebody Else Should Pay, basically.

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  • 59. At 1:22pm on 06 Jul 2009, siggy_7 wrote:

    #54:

    "The Sun shines everywhere at some time. The wind blows everywhere at some time. The tides flow at the costs and there are hills in the interior (where you can use hydroelectric power)."

    Yes the sun shines everywhere at some time - in a very predictable way actually, rotating around the entire globe once every 24 hours, and strongest near the equator. To export solar energy on anything like a reliable scale, you'd need *massive* (and I really mean massive) grids stretching in longitude and lattitude to wherever power is needed at any one time - even assuming such a feat is possible (and I'm doubtful of the practicalities - imagine the disruption if a cable halfway across the Atlantic broke, causing cyclic blackouts in Europe and the US until it was fixed, which would take a not insignificant amount of time) can you imagine the cost? It's not as simple as laying a few fibre optic cables. And then you account for transmission losses...

    Against a nameplate capacity of a turbine, you can rely on a wind turbine to produce approximately 20% of this value without affecting the electrical network robustness. So if you were to install sufficient wind turbines to meet all your energy needs, you'd need 5 times as many turbines as their rated output. E.On cites a figure more like 92% of all installed capacity being required as backup:
    http://news.scotsman.com/latestnews/Coal-backup-for-wind-power.4442417.jp

    BERR did a consultation on the UK renewable energy strategy last year, which can be found here: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/cons_res/cons_res.aspx
    A summary from section 10:

    "Electricity bills
    10.5.7 Our existing climate change policies are projected to add around 18% to annual domestic electricity bills and around 55% to industrial electricity bills by 2020.
    10.5.8 The additional measures to increase deployment of renewable electricity will add further to bills. These arise from the costs of expanding and reinforcing the electricity transmission and distribution networks, and from the financial support scheme used to incentivise the deployment of renewables, as described in Chapter 3. We expect additional costs arising from our policy measures to be passed on to consumers through their energy bills. In deciding which options to pursue, cost-effectiveness and impact on bills will be key considerations."

    I remember seeing a cost-benefit of renewables capacity in the grid vs costs in backup from another BERR report, but I can't locate it.

    Anyway, I didn't say that this was *the* reason that we don't have more renewables now, I said it was *a* reason - even advocates of wind power concede that availability of supply is a big challenge with renewables. If renewable energy were really cheaper and commercially viable on required scales back when all our current infrastructure were built, they would have built renewables instead. There's no great conspiracy to keep us tied into fossil fuels, so jr4412 et al please stop insinuating that this is the reason that we have gas and coal fired plants instead of wind turbines.

    My measure of "significant" would be when we start to see big inroads in reductions in burning of fossil fuels for power generation. DTI projections in the linked DTI report here : www.berr.gov.uk/files/file26363.pdf show renewables generating ~9% by next year - vs 21% nuclear, 34% gas and 31% coal. Until the total TWh by non-renewable sources comes down in leaps and bounds from current levels, I don't think you can make a strong claim for renewables being significant. Nuclear power, which doesn't face the sort of challenges that we're talking about with these renewables - controllable output, loading problems, ease of installation and access, and vulnerability to the elements - was turned around from the first reactor at Chicago in 1941 to the first grid-connected power station at Calder Hall in 1956. The Magnox fleet then took 15 years to develop to the limit of the design potential. But anyway, as I said, the technical challenges aren't really comparable, so I don't see why this is relevant. What was your point exactly here anyway - I didn't question that renewables such as wave power etc would one day come to fruition, just that it will take a lot of money and more time than we have before deciding what to replace existing plant with. It doesn't sound like you dispute this view?

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  • 60. At 2:22pm on 06 Jul 2009, dysacre wrote:

    So many people ask, "why does no one ever talk about population?" but without answer. It seems to be because of a witch-hunting mob amongst politicians and journalists that immediately shout down the questioners with insane accusations of racism, eugenicism, anti-immigrantism, "that's what the Nazis said" (I'm not sure exactly what "that" is on this one), and so on. I suppose this poses the further question, "why do they do shout all this", but the only thing any of us can do is refuse to be shouted down. It's up to us all to stand up and say it wherever and whenever we can and in turn show up the howling mob of witch hunters for what it is.

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  • 61. At 2:57pm on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "So many people ask, "why does no one ever talk about population?" but without answer."

    Given how many people scream and shout and stamp their little feet over not being able to drive a big car, fly to Majorca or whatever, how much stamping do you think there will be if we tell them "No Banging!"?

    The earth would shatter.

    And as has been seen in China, those changes take two or even three generations to take effect.

    Cutting CO2 pollution in half would take half a generation.

    And may allow either a better lifestyle or more boffing.

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  • 62. At 2:58pm on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Yes the sun shines everywhere at some time - in a very predictable way actually, rotating around the entire globe once every 24 hours, and strongest near the equator."

    Incorrect.

    Since the atmosphere is quite transparent, if you have an angled surface facing the sun and rotating, until quite near the Artic Circle you have as much sunlight per square metre as you get at the tropics.

    The "per sq m" is because the earth is turning away from the sun, not because it's further away.

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  • 63. At 4:26pm on 06 Jul 2009, Asopus wrote:

    I don't disagree that population growth is an issue, but how easy is it to fix?

    Western societies have relatively stable populations, whilst most growth is in the world's poorest countries. Poverty and population growth go hand-in-hand, and it isn't difficult to see why. How do you plan your family when:

    1 you don't have easy access to contraception, healthcare and health education.
    2 you don't know how many of your children will survive to adulthood.
    3 the only pension plan available to you is to have as many children as possible and hope that some of them are still around to look after you when you are too old to fend for yourself.

    It is only rarely that I hear the word 'poverty' mentioned by those who claim overpopulation is the key issue. They cite the case of China as proof that population growth can be capped, but how many of them would want to live under that kind of the political regime? I hear plenty of complaining about government attempts at curbing on our carbon emissions, generally from the very same people who are quick to advocate state control of family size (usually in some distant and undeveloped lands, never over here). They will happily tell others not to breed, but complain bitterly about a tax on their 4x4. Seems to me that the population issue is very often just a convenient smokescreen for Western over-consumption.

    I'm all in favour of controlling population growth, but realistically it can only be achieved through economic development. In the meantime, let's not overlook the environmental problems we are directly responsible for and it is within our means to tackle.

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  • 64. At 4:31pm on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Against a nameplate capacity of a turbine, you can rely on a wind turbine to produce approximately 20% of this value without affecting the electrical network robustness."

    And a coal fired power station would get ~40%. Less since you have to haul coal from Australia to the UK or similar. Using what..?

    And better storage would increase your yield efficiency whilst we've had a century or more of improving coal fired power stations.

    Wind or solar can be done closer to the demand, too, reducing load losses over the grid (not so much in the UK, but Europe wide, US, Africa and so on, yes).

    Also using the sun beating down on your roof is an excellent way of warming water needed in the home (where 20% of our energy goes): and no need to sweat (no pun intended) efficiencies. It's free energy except for the cost of maintenance.

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  • 65. At 4:43pm on 06 Jul 2009, jayfurneaux wrote:

    Hi Richard,
    To play Devils Advocate. One subtext that isnt explicitly discussed about the whole development / climate change etc issue is that there needs to be a transfer of wealth from the rich industrialised countries to the poorer developing ones. Now, there may be some good reasons for this, not least moral ones, but it is never argued out in the open and may not be until some major catastrophe occurs.

    To give a plausible scenario, according to your reports East Africa has faced severe, multi decade droughts in the past and may do so again in the future. If one occurs in the near future the options are:
    a) Watch tens (or hundreds) of millions starve.
    b) To undertake the monumental (and expensive) task of feeding tens of millions (or hundreds) for many years.
    c) To offer to re-locate those tens (or hundreds) of millions.

    Im afraid that faced with those choices that well find out just how selfish and uncaring the majority of the public actually are; and that is an example of the type of tough choices that would have to be made if climate change projections are correct.
    Some would see the drought and famine as an inevitable consequence of overpopulation in a region that was barely able to sustain those numbers at subsistence levels in good years.

    Ill add two more concerns to your list:
    1) Water supplies. All human endeavours agriculture, industry etc and life depends on water, yet reliable supplies are already diminishing in many areas. Greater population and development will only add to water scarcity.
    2) The vast majority of the worlds population is projected to live in mega cities in the near future. (Im unconvinced that this is the best way for humans to live as increasing social problems in first world cities are demonstrating; but thats by the by).
    More importantly, in countries such as India and China it really does make those populations extremely vulnerable in the event of food or water shortages.

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  • 66. At 4:58pm on 06 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    56. At 11:44am on 06 Jul 2009, calcination wrote:
    "...I see that jon112uk is peddling the usual misdirection regarding environmentalists...."
    =================================

    Actually I was banging on about anti-capitalists and governments this time.

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  • 67. At 5:24pm on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    re: 63. And unfortunately religious dogma gets in the way too (as do societal norms).

    Mother Theresa worked tirelessly for the people in the Calcutta slums. But her work would not have been needed if she'd promulgated contraception rather than abstention.

    Then again, a man with many children is, as far as the more elemental societies are concerned, a sign of stature and manliness.

    Female emancipation caused a lot of changes in our birth rate, independent of the relative wealth and needs: when the mother can say "no" and mean "no" (in a Yosemite Sam way, if necessary), then she's no longer a brood mother.

    Procreation for recreation is then the major cause for frequent childbirths. Which is well sorted out by contraceptives.

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  • 68. At 5:45pm on 06 Jul 2009, rossglory wrote:

    #61 yeah_whatever

    'And may allow either a better lifestyle or more boffing.'.....such a diffcult choice, why not both?

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  • 69. At 6:00pm on 06 Jul 2009, calcination wrote:

    That is correct John, my mistake, but the funny thing is, I've never met any anti-capitalists who want to take us back to medieval times either. Sieze the means of production yes, destroy them and take us back 600 years, no. So you are still wrong.
    I've heard of some utopians who think we can regress that far and live off the land, but they don't actually have any power or influence.

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  • 70. At 6:09pm on 06 Jul 2009, calcination wrote:

    Anyway, back on topic - Richard is entirely correct when he points out that some responses to some environmental problems can exacerbate others. Part of the problem is that in some cases we do not yet have the proper evidence to say which is the best way forwards, biofuels being a case in point.
    In my opinion the medium to longer term dangers are climate change, resource exhaustion and ocean acidification. The first and last are directly linked, and directly affect our food supply.

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  • 71. At 6:35pm on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    re 68, well, that's a slightly better lifestyle and some extra boffing, then.

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  • 72. At 7:02pm on 06 Jul 2009, secondfatherabraham wrote:

    Richard Black is quite correct. HUMAN BEINGS are the species that is causing environmental damage, not the elephants nor the whales. The number of our species is growing rapidly. Modern contraceptives enable us to respond to this problem. The U.N. tell us that there are 200 million couples worldwide who have no access to modern contraceptive methods. The UK government should ensure that provision of family planning clinics is a core part of the Aid it gives to third world countries.

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  • 73. At 7:02pm on 06 Jul 2009, secondfatherabraham wrote:

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  • 74. At 9:23pm on 06 Jul 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Human beings think that we are the masters of the environment. We ignor hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes and other such intrusions into our life by nature as if they don't exist because we do not control them.
    1. governments have no concept of sustainable communities and by that I mean communities that can prosper without growth or very limited growth.
    2. There is an imbalance between population and the resources needed to sustain human beings.
    3. maybe global economies are not a good idea.
    4. the relationships between governments and business has dimnished ethical and responsible government.
    5. nothing will change if people do not demand for it to change. Nothing in government happens because "it is the right thing to do."
    6. the carbon-based fuel of the industrial revolution is coming to an end mainly because more information about the link to disease and poor public health will become available.
    7. Someone will invent an alternative fuel and if done outside of the exisitng governmental/industrial complex, it may be brought to production in a resonable amount of time.
    8. a nondeniable environmental diaster will occur, I mean larger than those that exist right now. Maybe one of those Russian subs begins to leak nuclear waste, one of those industrial polluted rivers in China poisions the drinking water for an entire city, or some industrial dump starts acting up.
    9. People will leave their computers and actually do something.

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  • 75. At 10:22pm on 06 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    secondfatherabraham #74 "The UK government should ensure that provision of family planning clinics is a core part of the Aid it gives to third world countries."

    They could start a little nearer to home.

    According to the "Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision"...
    http://esa.un.org/unpp
    ...the yearly percentage increase in UK population has been going steady upwards from 0.03% in 1980 to 0.45% in 2005 and projected 0.53% by 2010.

    /davblo2

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  • 76. At 10:54pm on 06 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    #75 cont'd

    Those figures are much better seen as a graph, so I plotted them out...
    http://www.pratar.org/pop/pop_uk.jpg

    The data 2010 and onward are obviously projections and I still haven't figured out what's going to cause the downturn they predict.

    But the dramatic changes in the 60s and 70s show that things can happen relatively quickly in population dynamics.

    /davblo2

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  • 77. At 11:36pm on 06 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #55: "What do you think of the 7.5 billion dialogue? (post #42)"

    Yes, much appreciated, thanks.

    You said: "Back here in civilisation, I find myself completely out of place"

    Having just travelled from my 'retreat' back to the city I felt the sudden shock of overcrowding and proximity to so many unknown faces apparently oblivious of each other.

    So you are not expecting too much of an increase from today's 6.7 billion.

    Jr #36 was also expecting a rather imminent halt to proceedings.

    Then siggy_7 #49 agreed pretty much with jr #36 on possibilities for conflicts, and a maximum of about 14 billion.

    Apart from that (thanks again) a noticeable lack of contribution from others.

    So rather than wasting time with question 3, I tried digging into the population predictions. The UN site I mentioned in #75 struck me as interesting. I started copying out the data and plotting graphs as in #76.

    Here is a plot of their data for the world population 1950 to 2050.
    http://www.pratar.org/pop/pop_world.jpg
    It seems we peaked in 1970 and they expect a steady decline in growth rate with corresponding leveling off toward the 10 billion mark.

    I haven't fully grasped the assumptions they make in the predictions...
    http://esa.un.org/unpp/index.asp?panel=4
    ...part appears to be a tendency for all countries to move toward a fertility rate of 1.85 albeit at different times and rates.

    If their 'optimism' is justified then it doesn't look as bad as I had feared at first.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 78. At 11:39pm on 06 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Further to #74, #75, #76 UK population growth

    Almost a year ago, but the fact had been noticed...
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-big-question-why-is-the-uks-population-growing-so-fast-and-is-this-a-good-thing-910679.html

    /davblo2

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  • 79. At 11:43pm on 06 Jul 2009, LarryKealey wrote:


    @yeah_Whatever writes:

    But if population is the reason why things are going bad, then the reason why they are going bad is human caused.

    Anthropogenic.

    And since the "bad" being discussed here is climate change and the increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, this means human caused climate change.

    AGW.

    Are you now agreeing that there's a problem with humans causing warming through CO2?
    -------------------end of yeah_whatever wrote------------------

    Actually, first I think we are considerting whether "global climate change" warrent ALL of the attention vs. many other environmental issues - please correct me if I am wrong Richard.

    As for your logic - huh? Your analysis and conclusions are quite flawed. You jump from human population growth to CO2 emissions and global warming - while one must accept that population growth is a real issue - a bunch of models does not "prove" that CO2 emissions are the primary cause of the recent trend in Global Warming (climate change), its not as if the climate did not change until man came along. Also note, 0.75C in warming over the last 150 years is not "highly unpresidented". Your argument depends upon so many If's mights, maybes and possiblies.. as to make it laughable - if only there were not trillions of dollars at stake here...it would actually be amusing

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  • 80. At 01:20am on 07 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    I can hardly believe what I am reading!

    Except for 'ghostofsichuan' #74, you'd think we were were all watching a Hollywood movie with a happy ending guaranteed!

    We have a planet stressed to the maximum, about to change state, we are the top predator, and there are already far too many of us.

    Where are the biologists here?

    Did you miss the skyrocketing price of oil a little while ago, or the rise in the price of food worldwide, or the sabre-rattling by various nuclear-armed nation-states, or the global financial meltdown, the bankruptcy of General Motors, the muli-trillion dollar debt incurred in the recent round of bailouts, the concept of peak oil, the ongoing sixth extinction, our almost horrifying dependence on a few crops, which, by the way, we were not designed to eat, the collapsing world fishery, the spread of disease vectors, the growing environmental refugees in those countries seen as 'havens', etc ad infinitum...

    This is what "DENIAL" looks like
    -------------

    - Manysummits -

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  • 81. At 02:37am on 07 Jul 2009, LarryKealey wrote:



    @yeah_whatever writes:

    Incorrect.

    Since the atmosphere is quite transparent, if you have an angled surface facing the sun and rotating, until quite near the Artic Circle you have as much sunlight per square metre as you get at the tropics.

    The "per sq m" is because the earth is turning away from the sun, not because it's further away.

    ------------end of post-------------------------

    Your assumption that the "atmosphere is quite transparent" is quite false. It is far from transparent (ever wonder why stars twinkle at night?). Ever seen haze?

    Further, your supposition that angled mirrors at the arctic cirle would receive as much sunlight (I will make the assumption that you mean energy from the sun reaching the surface in terms of Watts per Sq meter) is quite false. You will receive less energy at the arctic because the light must travel through more of the atmosphere (because of the angle)- the atmosphere reflects, defracts and absorbs sunlight - so due to the increase in atmosphere - you will receive less energy per sq meter at the higher latitdudes.

    Try this simple experiment: take a small parabolic mirror and a thermometer. At midday, place the parabolic mirror so that is is positioned directly toward the sun and place the thermometer at the focus of the mirror. Measure the rise in temperature. Now, conduct the same experiment just before sunset - you will find a much smaller rise in temperature - even though the mirror is still pointed directly at the sun. Why - quite simply, the light reaching the mirror must travel through a great deal more of the atmostphere than when it is overhead. This is also why we have "beautiful sunsets". It is the defraction, refraction and reflection of the sunlight as it passes through the atmosphere that causes this effect. We don't see an orange or red sun at midday because there is much less atmosphere through which the light must travel. QED [that which is demonstrated]

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  • 82. At 02:59am on 07 Jul 2009, LarryKealey wrote:



    To Richard, I commend you upon pointing out that there are in-fact many environmental issues and that many are severly exacerbated by over-population - but what to do?

    Even in China, where they adopted the "one family one child" policy quite some time ago, it has failed to work - as evidenced by a still growing chinese population.

    I would suggest that developing the third world is our best bet to have a real impact on this problem (as well as many other environmental issues). It has been shown that those in developing countries typically have many more children than those in the developed nations. The reasons - well, first off, many children die (I believe the number is 1 in 5 fail to reach their 5th birthday - but please correct me if I am wrong). Additionally, for the family, more children means more hands to help with subsistance farming, etc...regardless of the reasons - is this not where we should be focusing? Trying to "force" people to have fewer children will clearly not work.

    So, I say - develop the developing world. Yes today, that means cheap energy and coal (in my view). But it will lead to a rise in the standard of living, opportunities for better education, less hunger (and strife) and better health care. Over time, birth rates will decline. Additionally - eliminate the need to burn forests for heating and cooking and you have more forests...

    While you may or may not agree with my suggestion, the question seems to be "where do we spend our limited resources and money" to have the most substantial impact on all these environmental issues. Neither our money nor our resources are unlimited - thus we much choose how we allocate that money and those resources to the "best" benefit. While I realize that "best" is an ambiguous term...I think you get the point.

    I would agree with your question: is climate change the best use for ALL our money and resources? There are so many other pressing environmental issues.

    Again, cheers for the insightful article.

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  • 83. At 03:11am on 07 Jul 2009, LarryKealey wrote:

    @yeah_whatever writes: Quoted paragraph of another poster

    "Against a nameplate capacity of a turbine, you can rely on a wind turbine to produce approximately 20% of this value without affecting the electrical network robustness."

    And a coal fired power station would get ~40%. Less since you have to haul coal from Australia to the UK or similar. Using what..?

    My respsonse:

    Against "nameplate capacity for the turbine", most coal plants achieve around 90% of the capacity for which they are designed for. That is because the turbine can be kept turning at capacity for as long as the coal is there to burn. The windmill may have a nameplate capacity of 2MW - but you only get 20% because the wind does not always blow, and when it does, it is not always blowing with a strength which allows the turbine to achieve 2MW. The reason we get only about 90% from a coal-fired turbine is because it must be taken offline regularly for inspection, maintenance and repairs (same is true of wind turbines).

    None of this has anything to do with the cost of shipping coal from far away places to run Drax. There is plenty of coal in the UK to run Drax with - but you choose to import it from far away sources. And BTW, transporting the coal adds very little to the cost and has no effect whatsoever on efficiency of the turbine.

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  • 84. At 08:57am on 07 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    69. At 6:00pm on 06 Jul 2009, calcination wrote:
    That is correct John, my mistake, but the funny thing is, I've never met any anti-capitalists who want to take us back to medieval times either. Sieze the means of production yes, destroy them and take us back 600 years, no. So you are still wrong.
    I've heard of some utopians who think we can regress that far and live off the land, but they don't actually have any power or influence.
    ========================================

    Hi calination. Anti-capitalists - Fortunately I haven't met many, but I have heard the views of a few.

    The back to the dark ages crowd surely exist - either living in teepees or telling everyone els to live in teepees whilst they live in a bedsit on benefits.

    But yes, I could have put more emphasis on the Zimbabwe option for anti-capitalism. Take a functioning economy, seize the means of production, tell them to sell things for less than they cost to make, watch the economy disappear and the people starve.

    Richard was questioning why only the global warming issue is being hyped these days. Neither of the above groups advances it's goals by protesting about an Indonesian slash & burn farmer. Only adding to the climate of fear on global warming, blamed on consumerism, will promote their causes.

    Likewise the government in it's search for the next tax opportunity.

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  • 85. At 09:48am on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Hi calination. Anti-capitalists - Fortunately I haven't met many, but I have heard the views of a few."

    Heard quite a lot from pro-capitalists. Bankers. Oil barons and Media Magnates.

    Generally asking for government help.

    Hardly pro-capitalists.

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  • 86. At 09:49am on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "None of this has anything to do with the cost of shipping coal from far away places to run Drax. "

    But it has HUGE GREAT GOBS to do with how efficient it is.

    Which was, if you'd bothered to read, the point.

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  • 87. At 10:18am on 07 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    85. At 09:48am on 07 Jul 2009, yeah_whatever wrote:
    "Hi calination. Anti-capitalists - Fortunately I haven't met many, but I have heard the views of a few."

    Heard quite a lot from pro-capitalists. Bankers. Oil barons and Media Magnates.

    Generally asking for government help.

    Hardly pro-capitalists.
    ============================================

    Oil barons and media magnates asking for government help? Always surprising how some people know for sure that railways, post offices etc should be endlessly bailed out and owned by government, but the bank with my gran's life savings in it should just be allowed to fold.

    But getting back to the topic....

    Richard was raising a very sensible point - if 'environmental' includes a wide range of important issues, how come all we ever hear about is 'global warming'?

    I hear every day about the evils of these 'oil barons' etc - all consistent with Richards point: lots of environment problems but only oil, cars, globalised consumerism etc is hyped day in day out. Not a mention of (example) a subsistence farmer in Indonesia hacking down rain forest and burning it.

    More consistent with hidden tax and anti-capitalist agendas than a broader concern for the 'environment'

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  • 88. At 10:38am on 07 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #80:

    Thanks; it's good to be reminded.

    I'm still trying to get a grip on population...
    This is what I find amazing...
    http://www.pratar.org/pop/pop_world2.jpg
    That anyone can look at that and not be shocked.
    The more I wonder about it the more worried I get.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 89. At 10:41am on 07 Jul 2009, seasambo wrote:

    Richard
    I think you make a very important point about the relationships between many different environmental issues. But in my mind they all have one specific cause - namely human population growth and the need for a growth economy to support the population. It has already been said that climate change gets the most attention because of its links to the economy.
    We have exceeded the human population's carrying capacity of the planet via the use of technology and economic measures. We have a population 3 times the carrying capacity of the planet, or to put it another way we need an extra 2 or 3 planets for all of us to live sustainably. With the interacting environmental issues that we and future generations face, surely it is obvious that measures must be put in place to end the growth philosophy or significantly reduce the size of the population. Science continues to pour out the evidence and yet politics appears asleep on the job
    World governments and particularly Gordon Brown continue to tell us that we need economic growth and yet we know that economic growth is part of the problem. Degradation of land and deforestation have impacted on biodiversity and changed the climate that support life on this planet. Economic growth is a false economy since the human economy is dependent on the environment and not the other way around. It amazes me that economists and the government still do not seem to understand this or simply choose to ignore it. Someone at the BBC must ask Gordon Brown this question "Why does he think that economic growth can continue indefinetly when clearly it cannot and why does he not consider policies to force a long-term transition to a steady-state or sustainable economy with the support of the UN?"
    In my mind the environmental issues we face today are all caused by economic growth. I know this as an ecologist but as my economics is weak, read the work of Herman Daly from the World Bank:
    http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/faculty/daly/Dalypapers.html
    I am sure that his work is circulated around many universities but it still hasn't engaged the public. We are all fixated on economic growth even when we know that it isnt working. Yes, i think growth has been an important part of human society and our development but havent we learnt from the Egyptians and Mayans that growth ultimately leads to the end of civilisation. Steady-state economics offers a means to solve the issues of the world including poverty by providing equity of resources. But it doesnt necessarily mean reduced development or reduction in technology.
    An example of current policy that i find bonkers is the "bangers for cash". Get £2000 for your old banger and use the cash to buy a shiny new car. First, buying a new car wont reduce your emissions that much because the production of the new car produced CO2 emissions that outweight that prevented from driving the old banger. So its probably worse for the environment. Secondly, fuelling the car industry is unsustainable and obviously impacts on the environment. So it is all a smoke screen to generate money and support jobs. This is the policy of the government that i cannot understand as it supports society in the short-term but affects our long-term future. This is clearly not the meaning of sustainability.
    If we are to solve the issues we face surely we need to start talking about transition to a new economy about equitable and sustainable use of resources. The steady-state economy is not the same as a recession. A recession only goes to show the failings of economic growth. I feel the only way we will solve the issues that you have highlighted will be to change our economic philosophies:
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 90. At 10:58am on 07 Jul 2009, seasambo wrote:

    Larry Kealy #79

    I am afraid your understanding of the recent climate change evidence is very weak. I suggest you look here:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462-climate-change-a-guide-for-the-perplexed.html

    and here:
    http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/

    and here:
    http://www.nerc.ac.uk/about/consult/debate/climatechange/summary.asp

    and here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/

    All based on peer-reviewed evidence. I think that supports manysummits arguments

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  • 91. At 11:03am on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Richard was raising a very sensible point - if 'environmental' includes a wide range of important issues, how come all we ever hear about is 'global warming'?"

    Because the denialists are scared that something will be done about it, so they keep up the noise.

    Not responding is bad (google "The Big Lie").

    And they are scared that their religion ("The Free Market" and "Corporations Must Be Right") demands it.

    ANY intervention by a government into the affairs of business (unless it's a bail-out or protection) is BAD. Doesn't matter if it's right, or warranted. "The Free Market Will Sort It out" is, to them, self-evidently true.

    There are also trillions in profits annually at stake for the Big Oil companies. And Big Tobacco can get back in business if they can ge people to distrust scientists and their "proofs" (such as the "proof" linking smoking to cancer, especially passive smoking [cf Roy Castle]).

    So that's why you hear so much: trillions are at stake if AGW isn't fought tooth-and-nail.

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  • 92. At 11:21am on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Your assumption that the "atmosphere is quite transparent" is quite false. It is far from transparent (ever wonder why stars twinkle at night?). Ever seen haze?"

    And ever seen a haze in the tropics? Gets pretty darn thick.

    So do the rainclouds.

    And, as an astronomer, you lose 1 magnitude of brightness when within 15 degrees of the horizon. 2 magnitudes under 10 degrees.

    So, yes, it IS pretty transparent.

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  • 93. At 11:50am on 07 Jul 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    LarryKealey #79, #81.

    all well and good but I feel you deliberately ignore the most important point made by yeah_whatever in #64 -- solar energy is FREE apart from the cost of maintenance; all tradiional methods of energy generation lock us in with respect to fuel supply, keep us dependent on the suppliers. this is all about control.


    yeah_whatever #91.

    a light-hearted (?) illustration of this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC8Q49KHN48

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  • 94. At 11:51am on 07 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    91. At 11:03am on 07 Jul 2009, yeah_whatever wrote:
    "So that's why you hear so much: trillions are at stake if AGW isn't fought tooth-and-nail."
    =================================

    Still leaves Richard's point about why the globalised 'environment' movement makes so little of issues other than global warming. Conference after conference, thousands of 'environmentalists' flown millions of miles in gas guzzling jet planes. All to debate MMGW, rarely to debate other environment issues.

    If their agenda is the environment, why do they care so little about anything other than MMGW?

    As for the 'oil barons'...everything I see from the oil companies these days is jumping on the 'global warming' bandwagon. Big business is already planning how they will provide the next generation of energy and how to exploit the globalised MMGW panic to market it - at a cost/profit far higher than fossil fuels.

    I know what the corporations motivation is (profit) - the question is about the true motivation of the governments and the 'environmentalists' ?

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  • 95. At 11:59am on 07 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 #88: (population graph)

    I am not a biologist, but a geologist studies paleontology, and that is one of my favorite subjects in geology, the origin and evolution of life.

    Correct me if I'm wrong 'seasambo', but to a biologist, a curve like that is a one way ticket to collapse.
    ---------------

    To 'seasambo' #88 & 89:

    100% ! You wrote:

    "I feel the only way we will solve the issues that you have highlighted will be to change our economic philosophies:"
    -------

    Agreed!

    Re-ordering an entire world economy is a daunting task, even given total support. With vested interests vying for yet more profit, it seems to me new laws governing both the running and creation of publicly held corporations will be required.

    As these same corporations are in effect in charge of the politicians at this time, the 'daunting' challenge looks near insurmountable, unless a groundswell of public support overrides this economic lobby.

    Since half the population does not care to vote, we have a problem, unless we can:

    1) Change the views of many of the half who do vote but are opposed to change.

    2) Enfranchise the half who do not vote. At the moment, trickle down economics rules, along with the externalization of cost by publically held corporations. The non-voters simply do not believe we few can do numbers one and two, and who could doubt their reasons for this doubt?

    We are left with archetypal heroes and their inspirational roles:

    "It is only the impossible missions which succeed."
    - Jacques Yves Cousteau

    "To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible."
    - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    - Manysummits -

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  • 96. At 1:01pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "1) Change the views of many of the half who do vote but are opposed to change."

    Nope, 5% VERY LOUD people are opposed to change.

    To the 50% and under the Faux News definition of "balance" that 5% sounds like they are as right as the 45% on the other side.

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  • 97. At 1:04pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Still leaves Richard's point about why the globalised 'environment' movement makes so little of issues other than global warming."

    No, it explains it quite well.

    Each time some halfwit numpty says "It's all a scam! It's been cooling for decades!!!" it has to be answered.

    How many halfwits ***worldwide*** are complaining that the Caledonian forest isn't being looked after properly?

    So the one with the most debate is being debated the most.

    And reporting debates is what News does.

    So news has a lot to do with AGW because of the denialists frightened raving.

    NOTE: the non-halfwits who disagree with AGW are doing so through the publishing of papers, not on blogs.

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  • 98. At 1:12pm on 07 Jul 2009, The_Walker wrote:

    Of course it is over population that is leading our planet towards uncontrolled change. How to control population? Not by law. Not by force of gun. Education and improved living conditions - yes, but this will take time. Why not a positive incentive to not have children. For example, each child that reaches the age of 10 (for example), is formally registered and an investment account allocated. That account is loaded with sufficient money to provide a comfortable retirement existence (this may vary from country to country). This is not accessible until retirement age. However, for each child that person has during life, that nest egg is reduced by 75% (for example). This penalty could be heavier for male parents than females. Would this work???

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  • 99. At 1:58pm on 07 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    97. At 1:04pm on 07 Jul 2009, yeah_whatever

    I'll type slowly so you can get this, regardless of any level of intellectual difficulties you may have (see, we can all use silly little insults, but it doesn't really go anywhere)

    If these people were concerned about the 'environment' their endless conferences and binding targets would also include things like an Indonesian farmer cutting down forest and burning it not just Americans and Europeans burning petrol in their cars. As Richard points out, their conferences used to cover a range of issues.

    You seem happy enough shouting about the agenda of 'oil barons' and media magnates - shame you can't be bit more honest about the agendas of your own people.

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  • 100. At 2:01pm on 07 Jul 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    jon112uk #84.

    "But yes, I could have put more emphasis on the Zimbabwe option for anti-capitalism. Take a functioning economy, seize the means of production, tell them to sell things for less than they cost to make, watch the economy disappear and the people starve."

    curiously, that has not stopped the diamonds getting to the dealers in Antwerp, nor has it prevented the Zimbabwean "elite" from living the high life.

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  • 101. At 2:16pm on 07 Jul 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    lateral thoughts II.

    (with a nod and a wink to The_Walker #98)

    "Of course it is over population that is leading our planet towards uncontrolled change. How to control population?"

    how about we ask all Christians, Jews and Muslims to volunteer their lives for the greater good? since they all believe in an afterlife there's no real loss incurred from their perspective; immediate benefit of ~1.8bn fewer mouths to feed.

    ;-)

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  • 102. At 2:25pm on 07 Jul 2009, seasambo wrote:

    #99 jon112uk

    There are a great deal of different conferences for the environmental sciences ranging from soil enzymes, plant physiology, sustainable farming, hydrology, ecosystem services, forest conservation as well as climate and land use change etc etc etc..

    There is currently a major focus on ecosystem services for forests and peatlands. The peatlands of Indonesia are a critical talking point as currently the burning of these areas is releasing an enormous amount of CO2. We all know that deforestation is responsible for a substantial proportion of CO2 emissions. The issues of peatland and rainforest clearing by farmers are major issues in the environmental sciences. The current evidence suggests that the ecosystem services that these ecosystems deliver to humans (e.g. water, food, medicines) is greater than their economic worth for farming. But until the concept of ecosystem services becomes a component of economics, it is very difficult to prevent the distruction.

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  • 103. At 3:14pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "If these people were concerned about the 'environment' their endless conferences and binding targets would also include things like an Indonesian farmer cutting down forest and burning it"

    It would? Why?

    The US per capita emission of CO2 is 20.4 (2004)
    For Zimbabwe: 0.81

    If the zimbabwean farmer reduced his output by half, the USian would match that by reducing their emissions by about 2%.

    Many are complaining that there's no point us in the UK changing since we only do 2%.

    Funny how that argument is invalid when it comes to other people giving CO2 reductions a by.

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  • 104. At 3:44pm on 07 Jul 2009, mariateresalavalle wrote:

    Excellent and most relevant point. Your slides are brilliant. I wonder if they can be used in lectures, with proper acknowledgment of course.
    Thank you for providing food for thought

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  • 105. At 3:52pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "You seem happy enough shouting about the agenda of 'oil barons' and media magnates - shame you can't be bit more honest about the agendas of your own people."

    My own people?

    No.

    I work in IT. I don't get paid for climate work. But I DID do a physics degree, and I've educated myself rather than just read propoganda.

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  • 106. At 4:00pm on 07 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    03. At 3:14pm on 07 Jul 2009, yeah_whatever wrote:

    "....The US per capita emission of CO2 is 20.4 (2004)
    For Zimbabwe: 0.81....."
    =================================

    You've switched from Indonesia to Zimbabwe. Whats the 'carbon footprint' of thousands of tons of ancient timber going up in smoke, compounded by the loss of absorbtion of CO2 compared to when the trees were alive? How about the loss of environment for endangered species? Quoting Martin Wright from a 'Green Room' item...

    "(deforestation)...It is already the largest single source of carbon emissions (except powerstations)... contributing up to 10 times as much as aviation.

    The Stern Report, ....rainforest destruction alone would, in the next four years, release more carbon into the atmosphere than every flight from the dawn of aviation until 2025."

    So getting back to Richard's point - if it's about environment, why is the loud noise from governments and anti-capitalists all about aviation or cars or how much an American emits? How come no binding target to cut the deforestation?

    Is it because a poor Indonesian has no tax money to grab?

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  • 107. At 4:05pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Is it because a poor Indonesian has no tax money to grab? "

    Indonesia: 1.69

    Or is it because the poor indonesian would have to cut emissions by half to see the same reduction as an Idaho farmer cutting their waste by a couple of percent?

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  • 108. At 4:47pm on 07 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    yeah_whatever #107: "Indonesia: 1.69"

    Does that include their deforestation?

    http://www.globalforestwatch.org/english/indonesia/forests.htm

    "The rate of forest loss is accelerating. On average, about 1 million ha per year were cleared in the 1980s, rising to about 1.7 million ha per year in the first part of the 1990s. Since 1996, deforestation appears to have increased to an average of 2 million ha per year."

    "Deforestation in Indonesia is largely the result of a corrupt political and economic system that regarded natural resources, especially forests, as a source of revenue to be exploited for political ends and personal gain."

    /davblo2

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  • 109. At 4:50pm on 07 Jul 2009, FRACTIOUS wrote:

    Ref #80 - manysummits

    "We have a planet stressed to the maximum" - A silly statement

    "about to change state" - A very silly statement

    "We are the top predator" - Nothing wrong in that, surely?

    "And there are already far too many of us" - So you keep saying, but its just an opinion

    "Did you miss the skyrocketing price of oil a little while ago" - No. Have you missed the fall back to normal since then?

    "Or the rise in the price of food worldwide" - Or the fall since?

    And so on, and so on. Frankly, manysummits, for someone who talks so much, you communicate very little. You exaggerate, pontificate and patronise, but what you dont do is persuade or convince. Your postings here are beginning to look like an exercise in self-regard, and its getting a little boorish, to tell the truth.

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  • 110. At 4:58pm on 07 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    #108 cont'd

    Here you are...

    Year 2000, Tonnes CO2 per cap

    Indonesia: without land use: 2.4, with land use: 14.9


    From...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita

    /davblo2

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  • 111. At 5:05pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    ""We are the top predator" - Nothing wrong in that, surely?"

    It is to the predated.

    And the loss of predation species means we predate on each other.

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  • 112. At 5:09pm on 07 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    FRACTIOUS #109: "Ref #80 - manysummits 'We have a planet stressed to the maximum' - A silly statement"

    I must have missed your contribution when I was trying to gather opinions (see e.g. #30) about how the population level should/could develop in the future (with consideration of course to the planet supporting it, not to mention the other life forms trying to share it with us.)

    What was your view exactly?

    /davblo2

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  • 113. At 5:10pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Deforestation in Indonesia is largely the result of a corrupt political and economic system that regarded natural resources, especially forests, as a source of revenue to be exploited for political ends and personal gain."

    It's still not as much as the 'merkins, is it.

    And if we don't buy their wood, they have no market (rather like drugs: if we control import, there's no market. Or, better yet, Kiddie Pron) which removes the monetary need to cut it down.

    But isn't the call for a 50% cut from such places? We in the first world cut 80%, they cut 50%. Which would be *easiest* met by Indonesia not cutting down trees.

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  • 114. At 5:37pm on 07 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    107. At 4:05pm on 07 Jul 2009, yeah_whatever wrote:
    "Or is it because the poor indonesian would have to cut emissions by half to see the same reduction as an Idaho farmer cutting their waste by a couple of percent?"
    ===============================

    That's just not true is it?

    The Indonesians are producing 2/3 of US per capita emissions, and actually more than the UK figure. (Belize is nearly FOUR TIMES the US emissions) That seems to be just emissions. It may not take into account that a kilo of CO2 released by a car is just that - a kilo of CO2 released by burning forest is also a long term loss of carbon absorbtion.

    If you were really interested in the environment - not anti-US politics - you would be just as agitated about Indonesian deforestation as you are about American gas guzzling - perhaps more.

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  • 115. At 5:46pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "That's just not true is it?

    The Indonesians are producing 2/3 of US per capita emissions, and actually more than the UK figure."

    Is the US cutting down trees?

    You'd better get the figures for tree cutting too...

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  • 116. At 5:50pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "If you were really interested in the environment - not anti-US politics - you would be just as agitated about Indonesian deforestation as you are about American gas guzzling - perhaps more."

    Uh, I'm anti-US-telling-everyone-else-to-do-something
    -before-we-do-and-we're-the-leader-of-the-whole-damn-
    free-world-you-know-political rhetoric.

    And when did I say I wasn't worried about the deforestation?

    But that's an INTERNATIONAL problem, and can be sorted in the same way as Elephant Ivory is sorted out: don't buy it unless it's from a legit source.

    While someone out there is buying it, Indonesia will sell it.

    So, like drugs/ivory/conflict diamonds/rare earth metals/etc if WE clean up OUR act, the problem disappears.

    And we have 1.69 for the indonesian farmer compared to the 20.4 for the Iowan farmer.

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  • 117. At 6:39pm on 07 Jul 2009, U14060183 wrote:

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  • 118. At 7:02pm on 07 Jul 2009, SamuelPickwick wrote:

    Richard Black makes a very good point. Amid all the obsessive hysteria over climate change (clearly illustrated by some of the rants posted here) many more serious environmental problems seem to be almost ignored - overpopulation, deforestation and other habitat destruction, litter and rubbish disposal, water supplies etc etc.

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  • 119. At 7:31pm on 07 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    115, 116
    "I'm anti-US-telling-everyone-else-to-do-something
    -before-we-do-and-we're-the-leader-of-the-whole-damn-
    free-world-you-know-political rhetoric."
    ======================================================

    Those are figures quite definitely including cutting down trees - the link is at #110.

    I don't recall an American telling me what to do - I thought that was the role of the 'environmentalists' who seem to want to control every aspect of my life. From how I travel to work to how often my bin is emptied, to what I eat - it's 'environmentalists' running my show, not the Americans.

    If you are anti-US then that is a political issue, not an environmental one. If it was an environmental issue you would be getting hysterical about the worlds highest per capita CO2 emitter (Belize) or the worlds highest absolute emitter (China) not the US.

    Keeps getting back to the hidden agendas.

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  • 120. At 7:46pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    " Amid all the obsessive hysteria over climate change"

    The majority of the hysteria over climate change has come from the deniers.

    "We'll all live in caves!" "It's a government conspiracy!" "It's all those anti-capitalists" "It's the econnazis!".

    Overpopulation will become worse if the waters rise 20m, which they could do when the Greenland ice sheet and the Western Antartic shelf melts.

    And if feeding ourselves is so important, why do builders build so often on good farming land, in the flood plains?

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  • 121. At 8:04pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Those are figures quite definitely including cutting down trees - the link is at #110. "

    But I got the 20.4 from this site:

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

    Which has 1.69 for Indonesia.

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  • 122. At 8:13pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "worlds highest absolute emitter (China) not the US."

    And China manufactures goods for who..?

    The US and UK and many other "first world" countries outsourced their manufacturing and heavy industry (all heavy users of energy) and STILL didn't manage to reduce their consumption of it!

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  • 123. At 9:01pm on 07 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    121. At 8:04pm on 07 Jul 2009, yeah_whatever wrote:
    "...But I got the 20.4 from this site:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita"
    ============================

    That doesn't include the emmissions from cutting down/burning forest - the source at #110 does include it.

    I have no doubt an American emmits a lot from oil/coal. Burning millions of tons of forest emmits even more and is actually worse because it also destroys the long term carbon absorbtion that the trees were providing.

    That's the point people are making - an American driving a car is not the only environmental issue.

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  • 124. At 9:21pm on 07 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "an American driving a car is not the only environmental issue. "

    Never said it was the ONLY one either.

    BUT would you rather the indonesians be told to reduce their carbon from 14 to 7 or from 1.7 to 0.8?

    Because the latter can be done by NOT BUYING INDONESISAN WOOD and ignoring the tree cutting.

    But if you're going to include land use change, you have to let them cut their emissions based on changes in land use.

    So they reuse their logging 60% (big whoop) and have plenty spare to increase abuse of inefficient processes.

    Or ignore it, and they can't use NOT logging quite so much as their way of reaching their target.

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  • 125. At 11:11pm on 07 Jul 2009, Roger wrote:

    Let's get back to basics.
    For most of the twentieth century population has been doubling every forty years. How long would it be, if this could continue, until we all had just one square yard each to live on? Answer: about 500 years, that is about the same as the length of time as from Henry VIII to the present (true-I've done the sums).
    Of course, that isn't going to happen, so some time in the next five hundred years something is going to happen to stop it.
    Any naturalist will tell you that unrestrained growth of a population will end in a crash. An example is the wild sheep on St Kilda whose population typically grows from some 800 minimum to about 1800 over four or five years, and then as a result of a bad winter combined with exhaustion of pasture a crash will reduce population by about 60%. Corpses all over the island.
    Humans are different only in respect of their ability to forsee an outcome and to act to avoid it: however they are often blighted by a tendency to put their head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. Population will be limited in the end either by Nature's way or by our own. Nature is merciless and will not wait while we argue about it. The alternative is that we do this ourselves in a controlled way.
    Prof. Chris Rapley has pointed out that the number of unintended pregnancies in the world is roughly equal to the amount of growth of population. There are about 200 million couples who would use family planning but have no access to it. There are about seven condoms per man per year in sub-Saharan Africa (UNFPA).It is known that women, given the ability to choose the size of their families, go for smaller numbers on the average - so this is an issue of women's rights as much as anything. Several countries have introduced programmes which have substantially reduced birthrates without coercion: indeed no one advocates or uses coercion these days except the Chinese. There is therefore no reason why this problem cannot be tackled. I hope people will support charities like IPPF, Marie Stopes International and also the campaigning body Optimum Poopulation Trust, which is also a charity

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  • 126. At 00:44am on 08 Jul 2009, BrianDodge wrote:

    At 09:44am on 05 Jul 2009, swatts2 wrote:

    "1.The direct effect of burning fossil fuel on atmospheric CO2 is quite small, about 25%-35%."
    Wrong. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has risen from 280 PPM to 390 PPM, with 57%-78% coming from fossil fuel emissions. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/222/4628/1081

    "2.There are many causes of increased atmospheric CO2 that have nothing to do with burning fossil fuel. An increase in solar activity or cutting down a large amount of rain forest could cause increase atmospheric CO2. The science is highly uncertain."
    Wrong. Solar activity hasn't increased see http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/pmod/from:1998/mean:10. Anthropogenic land clearing/agricultural GHG contributions aren't negligible(see sciencemag URL above) but are smaller than fossil fuel use. Calling the science "uncertain" is a talking point from political hack Frank Luntz see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/luntz.html and [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]. The more ignorant you are about the science, the more likely you are to think the science is "uncertain"; google "dunning kreuger effect" to understand why.

    "3. There are also causes of temperature increase, other than atmospheric CO2, such as methane, water vapour etc. The science is highly uncertain."
    Still wrong. Climatologists know about GHG effects of methane, and water vapor feedbacks, and ozone, CFC's et cetera; the inaccuracies are largely quantified in the IPCC reports; to make the leap from "inaccurate" to "highly uncertain" demonstrates a lack of scientific understanding.

    "4. Increasing quantities of atmospheric CO2 have a diminishing temperature/greenhouse effect. Therefore, future economic growth is less polluting than past economic growth. So one can establish the saturation level of atmospheric CO2 p.p.m. at which carbon use is pollution-free."
    Wrong. Your confusion about the logarithmic response of radiation forcing with a presupposed asymptotic "saturation level" of CO2 demonstrates a lack of mathematics literacy.

    " difficult to account", "uncertain theoretical models and computer predictions" , "not necessarily the actual culprit", "alleged causes of global warming." Language intended to obfuscate and delay, taken straight from the Frank Luntz talking points.

    "increase in atmospheric CO2 ...is a simple linear function and one can therefore use simple extrapolation..."
    Wrong. see http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/from:1960/mean:2/plot/esrl-co2/from:1960/trend and how the growth is accelerating. Those who have some math literacy can download the raw data, put it into Excel, and compare the R-squared values for a linear and polynomial fit.

    " So one must establish the saturation level of atmospheric CO2 p.p.m. at which the temperature effect becomes negligible. This is the level at which carbon use is pollution-free. "
    Still Wrong. Logarithmic is not asymptotic,

    "Can CO2 ppm really grow more than 210 in 50 years?"
    Yes. The Arctic permafrost thawing that we are already seeing from anthropogenic global warming may cause rises of this magnitude despite any changes humans make. see http://www.iarc.uaf.edu/highlights/2008/ISSS-08/ - "Findings include the discovery of new seeps of the greenhouse gas methane along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, a lengthening snowmelt season and a second year of ice mass loss in Greenland, and evidence that the predicted amplification of Arctic warming due to decreasing sea ice has already begun."

    If we don't cut anthropogenic greenhouse emissions, we will certainly see this rate of increase. Global economic collapse resulting from unfettered "free market" meltdowns, or wars over diminishing tropical water supplies, or epidemics of tropical diseases may reduced human emissions (along with human populations) and limit anthropogenic emissions; a Pentagon study of such consequences of global warming called them "dire". see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2004/feb/22/usnews.theobserver I've got a pdf copy of the original study, but I can't find a current source for it.

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  • 127. At 01:25am on 08 Jul 2009, BrianDodge wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 128. At 03:05am on 08 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To "FRACTIOUS" #109:

    Thank you - I must be doing something right.

    I'll keep up the good work.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 129. At 03:14am on 08 Jul 2009, TJ wrote:

    I believe AGW is a total scam and the biggest con job in human history.
    I predicted last year when Obama put his team together that we would have a carbon tax this year and so far hes right on cue.

    Looks like a lot of other folks are preparing for the action like I am. See what the big four are up to:

    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/07/07/07climatewire-the-big-four-of-accounting-will-be-among-the-77758.html

    Just got to a make a living. It hurts my conscious to have to do this as it does my clients who will pay me. But you just got to do what you got to do.

    Anybody want a job?

    On population control I always get that story in my head from the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Heres a snippet of the story for those interested:
    Golgafrincham is a red semi-desert planet that is home of the Great Circling Poets of Arium and a species of particularly inspiring lichen. Its people decided it was time to rid themselves of an entire useless third of their population, and so the descendants of the Circling Poets concocted a story that their planet would shortly be destroyed in a great catastrophe. (It was apparently under threat from a "mutant star goat"). The useless third of the population (consisting of hairdressers, tired TV producers*, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, management consultants, telephone sanitizers and the like) were packed into the B-Ark, one of three giant Ark spaceships, and told that everyone else would follow shortly in the other two. The other two thirds of the population, of course, did not follow and "led full, rich and happy lives until they were all suddenly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone".
    The B-Ark was programmed to crash-land on a suitably remote planet on one of the outer spiral arms of the galaxy, which happened to be Earth, and the Golgafrinchan rejects gradually mingled with and usurped the native cavemen**, becoming the ancestors of humanity and thereby altering the course of the great experiment to find the question for the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, or so Ford Prefect presumes. A lot of them didn't make it through the winter three years prior to Arthur Dent's reunion with Ford Prefect, and the few who remained in the spring said they needed a holiday and set out on a raft. History says they must have survived.

    Now does this ring any bells?

    Also for those thinking of birth control I'm not in favour until I'm dead. Whose going to look after me in my formative years if we prevent new folks from filling the gap? Big problems ahead on this course of action.

    Cheers..

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  • 130. At 03:42am on 08 Jul 2009, TJ wrote:

    Addition to #129:

    Forgot to mention. Richard asks: "Does climate cloud the bigger picture?". I say yes. Totally.
    I agree with LarrKealey #44
    "Now, can someone please get this damn elephant out of the room?"

    I would add not too quickly as I would like to make a few bucks out of the scam for a comfortable retirement:)

    Here's hoping..........

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  • 131. At 03:59am on 08 Jul 2009, TJ wrote:

    To Manysummits #128

    You say:

    "To "FRACTIOUS" #109:

    Thank you - I must be doing something right.

    I'll keep up the good work."

    I endorse 100%. I enjoy your posts immensly and they alway give me pause for thought and consideration.

    Keep em coming.......

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  • 132. At 04:12am on 08 Jul 2009, TJ wrote:

    Have you seen this!!?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8138429.stm

    Looks like I'm going to miss out after all. Totally not cricket.

    Ah well. "C'est la vie". Back to the drawing board for another scheme for retirement funding:(

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  • 133. At 08:14am on 08 Jul 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    124. At 9:21pm on 07 Jul 2009, yeah_whatever wrote:

    "an American driving a car is not the only environmental issue. "

    Never said it was the ONLY one either.
    ============================================

    Which brings us full circle to what Richard said in his article and I agreed with in my post (51): there are lots of environment issues, people are focussing on just one, and it may not be a good idea.


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  • 134. At 08:38am on 08 Jul 2009, Geno wrote:

    For a sustainable world with a sustainable good quality of life you need as a basis a sustainable population. Any other approach is just sticking your head in the sand. A gradual way of each couple voluntarily just reducing the number of children through family planning will prevent our descendants struggling against each other as well as preventing the wiping out of other life forms on this planet. Family planning in developing countries need the support of the developed world. Aid should be provided so that women in developing countries have access to family planning if they want it.

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  • 135. At 09:01am on 08 Jul 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @FRACTIOUS - i generally find manysummits' postings constructive and thoughtful, the absolute antithesis of your rant. i suggest you try a little harder.

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  • 136. At 09:21am on 08 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Which brings us full circle to what Richard said in his article and I agreed with in my post (51): there are lots of environment issues, people are focussing on just one, and it may not be a good idea."

    And the reason for that as I've said before, is because there's a panic on those who hate the idea they will lose trillions, those with a religious hate against government interference with "the free market" and so on. They complain kvetch and make stuff up left, right and centre and this must be countered.

    And hence it gets most coverage.

    Not because it needs the coverege, but the lies and misinformation must be countered.

    So if you don't like it, complain about the wattsupwithtat, climateaudit and their fluffers who swallow any load they lay out to them as Gospel Proof, 100% reality. People like Larry "I'n an Environmentalist", Jon "I want to cover the other Processes", CuckooToo "I'm just trying to learn", et al.

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  • 137. At 11:12am on 08 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    timjenvey #129: "Also for those thinking of birth control I'm not in favour until I'm dead. Whose going to look after me in my formative years if we prevent new folks from filling the gap? Big problems ahead on this course of action."

    Thought I check their projections...
    http://www.pratar.org/pop/pop_world_age.jpg

    /davblo2

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  • 138. At 11:34am on 08 Jul 2009, seasambo wrote:

    I find it difficuly to understand why so many people are happy with the status quo and continue to think that AGW is a scam. We live on a planet with finite resources which we are depleting at an accelerating rate due to an increasing population. We are increasing the waste and pollution due to increasing entropy. That waste cannot leave the system and we cannot increase the natural stock of finite resources. The increase in one waste product (namely human emissions of CO2 - note I mention human as apposed to natural emissions which are in balance with the biospheres sinks!) is increasing temperature which is putting extra pressure on an already stressed system. The economic system states that growth must continue but clearly it is growth that causes the problems - biodiversity loss via ecosystem destruction i.e. deforestation which are linked to climate change. Depletion of the fisheries due to economic growth which climate change will also impact on i.e. species distributions, pollution, ocean acidification. Add to this the impact of technology on the environment, also an argument by economists that technology can get us out of the mess, maybe with massive investment in renewable technology but also possibly flawed as technology (i.e. fossil fuel burning on a global scale) has largely caused an unforseen problem - climate climate.
    Richard is right. The environmental issues are all linked via positive and negative interactions. But some are ignored or sidelined simply because we do not have the polictical or economic means to deal with them. Climate change may get more media coverage but I dont think that means more is being done about it than other environmental issues. But I do think more could be done to evaluate the interactions between all of these issues and finding solutions to a number of issues. For example, determining ecosystem services for rainforests may prevent deforestation by farmers for agricultural land. This would reduce greenhouse gases. But then someones got to find land for agriculture. Maybe call a biotech company for GM crops! Don't get me wrong, deforestation is probably one of the biggest environmental issues that we must change along with climate change. But the links between science, socio-economics and politics are only driving problem-swapping rather than problem-solving. This happens on many scales, for exmaple, wetlands can convert nitrate to nitrogen gas. Nitrates are bad for drinking water, but the nitrogen gas contains nitrous oxide a potent greenhouse gas. How do you decide what to do? This is similar to many environmental issues such as biofuel crops where the benefit of greenhouse gas sequestration may be out balanced by the loss of agricultural land for food crops (not to mention the potential misaccounting of total greenhouse gas emissions).
    Maybe there are issues with the links between science funding. The big news today was that scientists have created sperm in the laboratory. Why? Because fertility is a major issue. Maybe this is on the British Medical Councils framework but over at an environmental research funding body population growth may be a top priority. If we had a body that addressed these interactive global issues, maybe this work wouldnt have been funded. But then maybe we think indivdually first before thinking as a society.
    It is not science or environmentalism that is holding this up but the economics because we are so entrenched in the growth philosophy. GDP and wealth must increase regardless of the environmental cost. But how can wealth increase if we have no resouce left or, more likely, have filled our world with useless waste products that reduce our quantitative and qualititative standard of living. Economics cannot deal with these issues since it is based on an infinite system. Any time an economist tells you it can, he or she is probably lying or because they are apart of a system that will loose out if we make the change required (a hand in someone elses pocket maybe). A sustainable system (i.e. the one where human civilisation continues to exist) will mean less financial jobs and probably mean making enormous changes to the ways we live.
    As I see it we know all of the issues but we choose to argue about it (like on here) rather than make that change. May be the change isnt even possible as Manysummits pointed out. But to argue that it isnt happening or that current economic growth can solve it is crazy. I think technology can have both good and bad impacts but it is the fundamentals of economics that have got us spinning in a circle. I dont think that changes can happen over night. The transition may take centuries (if we can survive that long). But surely everyone must agree that it has to happen at some point???

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  • 139. At 12:01pm on 08 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Thank you very much for the supportive comments!
    -------------

    Every now and then, and all too frequently, we are forcibly reminded of the truly malevolent forces at work in the world of men.

    I am thinking of John Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, of the attempt to crucify Bill Clinton, of the war in Iraq. I am sure every country has their own goads to memory. Lately, Michael Jackson. The outpouring of sympathy and what I can only describe as love for this strange and disquieting man is trying to tell us something - like those early anti-global protesters.

    I remember asking myself - "What are those people protesting, but, maybe I should find out."

    Turns out they were largely right - instinctively.
    ---------

    To return to climate change:

    "Humanity today, collectively, must face the uncomfortable
    fact that industrial civilization itself has become the
    principal driver of global climate. If we stay our present
    course, using fossil fuels to feed a growing appetite for energy-
    intensive life styles, we will soon leave the climate of
    the Holocene, the world of prior human history. The eventual
    response to doubling pre-industrial atmospheric CO2
    likely would be a nearly ice-free planet, preceded by a period
    of chaotic change with continually changing shorelines."

    - James Hansen; The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2008, 2, 217-231.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hansen
    ----------

    "In the present political climate, any attempt to achieve an agreement on either the size of a carbon pie or its allocation among the world's nations would be difficult. However, unless we advance beyond thinking only in terms of conservation and alternate sources and begin to think in terms of a carbon pie, we will have no chance to stop the rise in atmospheric CO2."

    - Wallace Broecker; "Science", vol 315, 9 March 2007, p 1371 - "CO2 Arithmetic".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Broecker
    ------------

    It is true that I tend to 'run on' at times, undoubtedly this can be annoying. But I believe that maintaining an even strain does little to show the human aspect of one's character, and it is humanity, the individual, which most attracts me. I thus am willing to suffer abuse and criticism, and a tarnishing of the vaunted reputation, for the sake of being human.

    It is altogether too easy to sound always academic and intellectual, well read and ever the gentleman. I have flaws, undoubtedly, and I will remain unafraid to display them openly on this forum, come what may.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 140. At 1:59pm on 08 Jul 2009, Gaz wrote:

    The question: "If the fundamental drivers of all the trends are the swelling in the human population and our expanding thirst for raw materials, why aren't these the things that politicians and environmental groups are shouting about and trying to change?" is actually a very easy question to answer! The answer is: "Because it is too hard in comparison with other responses"!

    How much easier is it to, for example, increase the level of tax on fossil fuel than restrict the birth rate? Birth rate control = eugenics = Hitler!! No self-serving polititian (which, let's face it, is all of them) seen to be aligning with that view will get re-elected.

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  • 141. At 2:35pm on 08 Jul 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Global issues are often difficult for people to grasp. Why should someone be concerned about what happens in China? But the reality is that the environmental systems are connected. Neither the air nor the oceans stand still. The arguments about climate change tend to be based on confirming human impact through the impact of industrialization. I believe history shows very clearly that industrial smog in Europe during the early days of that period made life in cities so bad that laws were passed to remove the factories away from large populations. Anyone can look at issues where they live. I live near a river that has 54 identified industrial waste sites that present a danger to the water systems and an additional 375 chemicals in the river bottom itself that have been determined too dangerous to remove. For all the deniers, the facts show very clearly that private sector industrial development has left many communities with severe environmental issues that endanger eco-systems and populations and that those private comnpanies have left those sites for the public to clean-up. All the nonsense about what the private sector has given in the form of cheap goods for better living never includes the costs that is left to the taxpayer to clean up and related health costs. I do not want to lay this all at the feet of private sector companies because the governments have the responsibility to protect the citizens and have simply failed to do so in their efforts to obtain tax dollars and it is our responsibility to elect responsible government. I am sure most on this page can look in their own communities and find environmental hazzards left by companies that have long ago abandoned their responsibilities. Maybe the term Climate Change is misleading in that the concerns should be about environmental degradation, in any number of forms. The proponents of "free markets" never seem to consider that the lack of governmental regulations allows for irresponsible production, abuse of labor and no environmental protections (research American indusitral development history and China of today).
    In a Confucian sense: if everyone sweeps in front of their own house, the world would be clean.

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  • 142. At 3:09pm on 08 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Why should someone be concerned about what happens in China?"

    Worse, in this case, the cost of fixing it is paid now, the benefits of it will be reaped in later generations.

    And how many people decide to eat healthy and drink sparingly at 20 so as to spare the pains of an old man at 80, themselves in 60 years time?

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  • 143. At 3:43pm on 08 Jul 2009, seasambo wrote:

    Maybe the focus should be on Global Environmental Change rather than Global Climate Change as it encompasses the whole range of issues as well as their interactive nature. Its easy to see how all these link together.

    Climate change
    Pollution - greenhouse gases, NOx SOx
    Ozone depletion
    Acid rain
    Ocean acidification
    Fish population crash
    Biodiversity loss
    Deforestation
    Soil erosion
    Drinking water quality and quantity
    Desertification
    Polar ice and glacier loss
    Sea level rise

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  • 144. At 3:56pm on 08 Jul 2009, TJ wrote:

    To Davblo2 #137:

    The chart appears to show a growing aging population and folks living longer. The younger folks seem pretty flat to declining. So maybe the issue of population growth will naturally work through this buble over the next few decades. Here's an interesting little article I picked up recently.

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/24/demography-lou-dobbs-opinions-contributors-destiny.html?partner=email

    Your question in #24: No

    Your question in #30: In our current cycle I'd say 8.8

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  • 145. At 4:23pm on 08 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "So maybe the issue of population growth will naturally work through this buble over the next few decades."

    That'll be something like 50 years.

    That's too long for "Business As Usual". With the added problem that the rest of the world isn't doing the same thing.

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  • 146. At 9:24pm on 08 Jul 2009, MrSkipp wrote:

    Rio Declaration - 1992:
    "Principle 8
    To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies."
    http://www.un.org/documents/ga/conf151/aconf15126-1annex1.htm

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  • 147. At 00:29am on 09 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    "Global Environmental Change" (seasambo #143):

    "Our planet is in peril. Climate disruption threatens everyone, but especially the young and the unborn, who will bear the full brunt hrough no fault of their own. Recent science makes it clear that if we continue to burn most of the fossil fuels we will leave our children a deteriorating situation out of their control.

    One scientific conclusion is crystal clear: we cannot burn all of the fossil fuels without setting in motion a process of climate disruption that threatens the very existence of many species on our planet. This potential injustice is not limited to the innocent species we exterminate. The greatest injustice is to our own species our children, grandchildren and the unborn, and people who live with nature, who we may call undeveloped, indigenous people who want only to live
    their lives without bearing burdens that we create...

    If democracy does not win this one, if the lobbyists win, perhaps the best we can do for our grandchildren is buy them a ticket to another planet."

    - James Hansen, feb 26, 2009 testimony beore congress;
    see "Carbon Tax & 100% Dividend"; http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/
    ---------

    When 'jr4412, 'davblo2', and myself wrote the "Mayday Declaration", which now seems a long time ago, we identiied climate change and population growth and reorm o the

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  • 148. At 00:45am on 09 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    147 cont'd:

    as three of our priorities.

    Much has happened since then.

    Russia is on board with Anthropogenic Global Warming, and the G8 news today is I think indicative of more to come.
    - "G8 set new global warming targets"
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8141352.stm
    ---------

    Unortunately "Cap & Trade" has arrived in the United States. Another comment by Dr. Hansen, from his testimony to Congress seems appropriate:

    "The worst thing about cap-and-trade, from a climate standpoint, is that it will surely be inadequate to achieve the sharp reduction of emissions that is needed. Thus cap-and-trade would practically guarantee disastrous climate change for our children and grandchildren."
    -------

    Obviously there is a long way yet to go, for those of us who feel in sympathy with Dr. Hansen and Wallace Broeker, etc...

    - Manysummits -

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  • 149. At 04:01am on 09 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    \\\ Disconnect ! ///

    "G8 set new global warming targets"
    - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8141352.stm

    "We will take, individually and collectively, the necessary steps to return the global economy to a strong, stable and sustainable growth path," the statement said."

    "Leaders of the G8 leading industrial countries have agreed to try to limit global warming to just 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels by 2050."
    ---------------

    If "a strong, stable and sustainable growth path" means 'business as usual', it is a physical impossibility to keep global warming to "just 2 degrees C by 2050. The planet is already 0.7 deg C warmer than pre-industrial, and there is 0.6 deg C 'in the pipeline', according to James Hansen and others. That adds up to 1.3 deg C already committed, and the remaining 0.7 will be committed to well before 2050, under 'business as usual' scenarios.

    But at least their 'intentions' are a beginning. Now we need to find a way to keep global warming under two degrees C that will actually work.

    Cap and trade is not likely one of those ways, and going green, i.e., conservation and alternate energy, also will not be nearly enough, although both conservation and cleaner energy are necessary.

    - Manysummits, in Calgary, where an unusual 'tornado watch' by Environment Canada ended just a few hours ago -

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  • 150. At 08:35am on 09 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #149: "Disconnect !"

    It's worse than that...

    Documents of the G8 Summit 2009

    http://www.g8italia2009.it/G8/Home/Summit/G8-G8_Layout_locale-1199882116809_Atti.htm

    Document Title: (pdf)
    G8 Leaders Declaration: Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future

    (My emphasis)

    Para 2:
    "We are determined to ensure sustainable growth and to tackle the interlinked challenges of the economic crisis, poverty and climate change. These challenges require immediate action and long term vision."

    Para 4:
    "...We will continue to work together to restore confidence and set growth on a more robust, green, inclusive and sustainable path...."

    Para 8: "
    We strongly reaffirm commitments undertaken at the London Summit to take all necessary steps to support demand, restore growth and maintain financial stability..."

    Para 9: "We have taken stock of progress made to date to restore confidence, stabilise the financial sector and provide stimulus to boost growth and create jobs. Despite the current difficult conditions, we will continue to address global challenges, including fighting poverty and climate change, with the aim of establishing a more balanced and sustainable growth path, underpinned by sound fundamentals and social inclusion."

    Para 10: "...challenges of the world economy concerning investment, innovation, development and energy efficiency, which will be important for global economic growth going forward."

    Para 11: "We have taken forceful and coordinated action to provide stimulus to economic growth."

    Para 12: "We will take, individually and collectively, the necessary steps to return the global economy to a strong, stable and sustainable growth path..."

    Heading : "A common framework for balanced and sustainable-growth"

    Paras 22 - 134
    ...about 39 more occurrences of word growth.


    What planet are these guys on?

    /davblo2

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  • 151. At 08:47am on 09 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    #150 cont'd

    More related to the topic here...

    Paras 78 & 79: "Forests and land degradation"

    "Aware that deforestation accounts for approximately 20% of annual CO2 emissions, and that forests are an essential repository of biological diversity and key to the livelihoods and rights of many people, we remain engaged in seeking the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and in further promoting sustainable forest management globally...."

    "We are deeply concerned about desertification and land degradation in drylands, as both causes and consequences of climate change..."

    Paras 80 - 82: "Biodiversity"

    "Recognising the intrinsic value of biodiversity and its essential contribution to economic and social well-being and the fundamental role of ecosystem services in poverty reduction,..."

    "...biodiversity loss is increasing, exacerbated by climate change and impacts of human activities."

    /davblo2

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  • 152. At 09:01am on 09 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    #151 cont'd

    The word "food" occurs 25 times.

    The words "fish", "ocean" and "whale" are nowhere to be found.

    /davblo2

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  • 153. At 10:45am on 09 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    Aye, but all the eskimos do is eat whale meat and blubber.

    So would you if all you had to eat was whale meat...

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  • 154. At 11:37am on 09 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 re #'s 150 through 152:

    George Monbiot in the UK speaks of the disconnect as regards airline and airport porkbarrels in this weeks letter:
    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2009/07/06/subsidising-the-climate-crash/
    -------------

    The very thoughtful posts on this blog have caused me to think that it is not only that the environmental issues are are interrelated, but that just as inextricably intertwined are politcs, big business, the military etc... Of course we all knew this - but perhaps only as interested bystanders?

    Maybe we are going to have to jump right in and get politically active in some real sense?? NGO's - ?? I don't know. Maybe we are back to the Mayday Declaration, in some sense?
    --------------

    To 'timjenvey' #129: You wrote:

    "I believe AGW is a total scam and the biggest con job in human history.
    I predicted last year when Obama put his team together that we would have a carbon tax this year and so far hes right on cue."
    -----------

    Your prediction on cap and trade was correct. You understand big business and politics.

    As for the AGW scam - consider if you will:

    Almost the entire history of the hominid genus has occurred during the two million years of the Pleistocene Ice Age. It has, in a very real sense, caused us to evolve to the supposedly big-brained homo sapiens sapiens, as the climate has swung back and forth between glacial and inter-glacial stages.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age

    Always there has been an extensive ice-cover, even during an interglacial interval, such as the present Holocene, in which approximately ten percent of the planet's landmass is ice-covered. This goes to thirty percent during a full glacial stadial. And the climate, either glacial or interglacial, is amenable and healthy for us.

    But we have never left the Pleistocene Ice-Age.

    If the climate scientists are right, and we double CO2, we will leave not only the Holocene, but for a period even the Pleistocene, and the planet will become essentially ice-free.

    We may or may not survive this, but one must wonder why we want to find out?

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 155. At 11:51am on 09 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Plan "B"

    I think it may be time to consider Wallace Broecker's 'scrubbing of CO2' from the atmosphere.
    http://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/2246
    ------------

    More later.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 156. At 5:15pm on 09 Jul 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Hope does not accomplish much. What I see is individuals taking it upon themselves or small organizations doing things to either lessen thir environmental impact or seek out alternative energies and in some cases leave the grid completely. I don't know if the fate is the same as the communes of the '60's or the beginning of a new direction. Politicians never lead, they wait for new directions to be initiated by the "people" or concensus thereof and then try to rush out front and take credit, mainly to be re-elected. Bureaucrats are under less pressure to change and often oppose change because of established relationships with industries and internal organizational philosophies. In most bureaucracies the industries being regulated insure that they have people appointed within the bureaucracies to do their bidding and influence the direction of any legislation. What is most needed is the restructing of the bureauracies. We have a post-WWII model that is basically disfunctional, they keep busy but get nothing done. Unless the existing relationships can be broken, change in any meaningful sense is doubtful. The complexities of government allow for any side of any issue to be professed, as they like to say in politics.."some of my friends are for it and some of my friends are against it...and I am for my friends." Technology is not a reflection of the progress of mankind, it is simply a reflection of the progress of technology...these two are often confused. Niether China nor India have any incentives to do things differently, neither government would view a catastrophic event killing millions as such a bad thing in the overall conditions in those countries. As with most countries, if the event were in Mumbai or Beijing that would be one thing but if in rural or coastal poor areas, after the fake mourning was completed the event would be forgotten in policy terms. As in the US some emergency legislation would be passed, funds allocated and later everyone would relaize that the legislation was never implemented and very little funds were actually spent.
    Until citizens are unwilling to accept the dishonesty and unethical behavior of the elected and appointed few nothing significant will change. History records revolutions because leaders are unwilling to change. The idea that governments could sell the right to pollute (cap and trade)and everyone views this as a positive act is a good reflection of a docile public willing to accept whatever crumbs are thrown their way. Remember, it took two atomic bombs before the Japanese politicians would face reality.

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  • 157. At 12:52pm on 11 Jul 2009, deepayan wrote:

    I think that all countries should make Saturdays and Sundays a compulsory " NO VEHICLE DAY " and only bicycles and other non polluting vehicles should be allowed to ply on the roads. It's high time to reduce the global carbon dioxide emission before it becomes too late

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  • 158. At 10:39am on 12 Jul 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    #157

    people in Milton Keynes (the home of the roundabout) would have serious problems with your suggestion, deepayan

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  • 159. At 9:34pm on 13 Jul 2009, RobWansbeck wrote:

    #158 MC, good to see your post restored.
    What did someone find the most offensive, Milton Keynes or roundabouts?

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  • 160. At 08:20am on 14 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    Why would Milton Keyens have a serious problem?

    Why should the rest of the world care?

    After all the UK government doesn't care if 1million drivers rally against road tolls.

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  • 161. At 1:13pm on 14 Jul 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    Why would Milton Keyens[sic] have a serious problem?

    Milton Keynes central bus services are generally good, but in the outlying towns and villages can be very patchy, especially on a Sunday. I enquired about travelling a distance on no more than 5 miles as i had to work on a Sunday and had no car. The journey by bus would have taken 2 hours and would have involved 3 buses.

    And before anybody says cycle, i needed to carry some equipment so not practical

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  • 162. At 2:13pm on 14 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Milton Keynes central bus services are generally good, but in the outlying towns and villages can be very patchy,"

    Solution:

    Make the bus service better.

    Easy.

    Especially since they know that there will be a demand for busses...

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  • 163. At 7:53pm on 24 Jul 2009, grahame wrote:

    I agree strongly that the majority of people do not care about environment, politics or posibly any serious stuff untill it affects them.
    Since Rachael Carson, Donna Meadows and Gro Harlam Brundtland made their contributions to Science, structure and society; not one policy has been implimented to tackle over-population or consumption of resources. I think we need to be more restricted in our daily lives, including draconion steps to lessen effects on the planet. The natural world does not do bale-outs.

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  • 164. At 08:40am on 25 Jul 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    @windgraybags

    i disagree with your first statement, i think the majority do care, but care more about their daily lives than the environment. I'm not saying this is a good thing

    i agree with your second statement regarding population, but totally disagree with even more restrictions being placed on out lives.

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