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PostPosted: June 27th, 2013, 9:01 am 
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Mike_W wrote:
Again, while the models might be imperfect, they are the best we have and get better every year. It is fine to have healthy skepticism but if the end result is paralysis by cynicism then "thank you for playing". The rest of us need to have a pragmatic discussion about what should or shouldnt be done.

(EDIT: not trying to dismiss anyone here - I just worry when we look at a problem and say "impossible"...let's do nothing).


Mike, I don't have a skepticism about the models. I know that all models are wrong (depending on degree), but that they can be instrumental tools in predicting what may occur. I agree that there is a "policy paralysis", but do we really need a policy shift to change our own behavior? Not really. Every day we as individuals have the ability to totally cease our combustion of fossil fuels. Turn off the AC, the furnace, stop driving the car, grow your own food, disconect your house from the grid. You can do all this stuff.... today. Why are you waiting for someone else to solve the global warming by creating a non-polluting car, or a way to heat your house without buring fossil fuels. Is this not passing the buck? If we know that rising temps and CO2 levels will cause challenges for a couple decades now, why have we as individuals been waiting for society as a whole to solve the problem before we begin to make those changes ourselves? The problem becomes pretty impossible to solve when even the people who are most outspoken about the issue are still adding to the problem and wanting someone else to solve it. Science has an amazing ability to answer many of the problems of the earthly world, but it can't be used to solve any of the problems if society isn't willing to make the change.

PK


Last edited by pknoerr on June 27th, 2013, 10:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: June 27th, 2013, 9:30 am 
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I think just about all the things on the list to "prevent climate change" are worth strong consideration on other grounds, such as conserving energy to reduce costs, easing pressure on water resources affected by energy production, improving air quality, water quality, etc. Things we should be doing anyway.


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PostPosted: June 27th, 2013, 11:33 am 
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PK,
Because good intentions and individual action simply wont get it done. I'm not "waiting" for anything. But, this is an example of a problem where collective action (whether subsidizing alternatives or taxing causes) will be necessary to affect even minimal change. By and large the consumer will go for convieneince and low cost over reduced guilt and adherance to ideals. But, in the past, on a smaller scale, we have been able to take collective action to reduce environmental externalities. Examples include CFCs, leaded gasoline, and sulfur dioxide emissions (an aside, one thing that bothers me about environmentalists is their refusal to point to the victories of the past - it is as if they fear people will say "good enough" and stop pushing for improvement).

This is harder, but not impossible.


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PostPosted: June 27th, 2013, 12:08 pm 
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EZ, I totally agree. Virtually all of my decisions to minimize my impact on the environment have also benefitted me in other ways.

PK


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PostPosted: June 27th, 2013, 1:01 pm 
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TWODA - things we ought to do anyway. One wonders why anyone disagrees.


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PostPosted: June 27th, 2013, 3:09 pm 
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It may be a question of leadership. Sneaky leadership. FDR knew we would end up in WW II, but he also knew he couldn't say so until some event changed the reluctance of the US people. In the meantime, he took a number of smaller and politically tolerable measures for preparedness.

I like Jimmy Carter. But when he got on TV and announced that attacking the growing energy crisis was the moral equivalent of war, I think the effect was just to spook a lot of people. And when the gas lines ended and things got tolerable again, the lobsters just relaxed in the slowly warming energy crisis. It might have been better if he had focused just on some short term measures that brought positive results.

I think Obama would be better off saying, "If global warming is real, and driven by fossil fuel use, I'm not sure that we can agree on what to do, and do it, in time to avoid the consequences. But many of the things that would reduce the rise in atmospheric CO2 are wise and beneficial things we ought to do anyway. We're going to start some more initiatives to increase efficiency, reduce the growth in fossil fuel use, and to switch where possible to renewable energy sources, to make real progress while the debate over global warming continues."

Such an approach acknowledges the controversy over the subject, allows time to decide when to "go to war", and removes the atmosphere of a runup to a "Charge of the Light Brigade."


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PostPosted: June 28th, 2013, 4:18 am 
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PK wrote:
...[our] need to simplify it to a single answer that suits our personal needs, and probably has little to do with the reality of what will happen in the future.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong".
H. L. Mencken


Quote:
why have we as individuals been waiting for society as a whole to solve the problem before we begin to make those changes ourselves?

"the tragedy of the commons is the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group's long-term best interests"

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


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PostPosted: June 28th, 2013, 9:46 am 
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EZ,

Quote:
I think just about all the things on the list to "prevent climate change" are worth strong consideration on other grounds, such as conserving energy to reduce costs, easing pressure on water resources affected by energy production, improving air quality, water quality, etc. Things we should be doing anyway.


From Pennsylvania U's think tank, thoughts on what needs to be done to make water, food and energy production sustainable for the world's growing population. Some of the options will also reduce CO2 loadings (eg. renewable energy for drinking water desalination, biofuels instead of fossil fuels).

Quote:
Jun 27 Update

Special Report:

The Nexus of Food, Energy and Water

More than one billion people lack access to clean drinking water, sufficient food and electricity. Meanwhile, the global population is growing by some 80 million people every year. By 2030, the nine billion people living on earth will need 30% more water, 40% more energy and 50% more food to survive.

Given the complex relationships among all three resources -- the nexus of food, energy and water -- meeting these demands will require thinking in terms of systems, not silos. It will take collaborative approaches that embrace rather than battle natural processes. And it will mean new technologies and approaches to everything from bio-fuels to desalination. This special report, produced in coordination with Wharton's Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL), takes a close look at the key issues.

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/spec ... cialID=128

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PostPosted: June 30th, 2013, 8:24 am 
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Obama's climate change plan includes more renewables in the energy mix. Opposing arguments state that this electricty is being produced in a world where fossil fuel use is increasing, resulting in no real change in CO2 loadings on a global scale. But this report from the International Energy Agency, uh... predicts that the trend to renewables around the world will result in it's becoming the world 2nd most abundant electricity source by 2016, after coal. Problems that could reverse the trend to renewables are described.

Quote:
Renewables to surpass gas by 2016 in the global power mix

IEA report sees renewable power increasingly cost-competitive with new fossil-fuel generation, but agency warns against complacency

26 June 2013

Power generation from hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources worldwide will exceed that from gas and be twice that from nuclear by 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today in its second annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR).

According to the MTRMR, despite a difficult economic context, renewable power is expected to increase by 40% in the next five years. Renewables are now the fastest-growing power generation sector and will make up almost a quarter of the global power mix by 2018, up from an estimated 20% in 2011. The share of non-hydro sources such as wind, solar, bioenergy and geothermal in total power generation will double, reaching 8% by 2018, up from 4% in 2011 and just 2% in 2006.

“As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven as she presented the report at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York. “This is good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified, but it should not be an excuse for government complacency, especially among OECD countries.”

...


http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pr ... 56,en.html

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PostPosted: July 2nd, 2013, 8:07 pm 
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pknoerr wrote:
Every day we as individuals have the ability to totally cease our combustion of fossil fuels. Turn off the AC, the furnace, stop driving the car, grow your own food ... If we know that rising temps and CO2 levels will cause challenges for a couple decades now, why have we as individuals been waiting for society as a whole to solve the problem before we begin to make those changes ourselves?

PK, I really don't understand this kind of thinking. Individuals are constrained by all kinds of concerns and conditions that are best handled by groups (and collective decision making). Insurance and exposure to risk best falls into this category. If you want to protect yourself against risk, do you individually throw the dice, and pay the hospital for your cancer treatment if you should come up short (more likely go into bankruptcy). Or do you pay a little bit into an insurance program, keep your livelihood, and spread out the costs among the largest group of people.

How do individual choices put a scrubber on a smoke stack, or how do consumers make complicated decisions about chemical exposure and health risks (when most people don't have advanced degrees in chemical engineering or are enrolled in medical programs). Consumers don't want to be burdened with such choices on a daily (second by second) basis. Most people just want to go to work, spend time with their family, laugh a little, and enjoy a vacation or two. The challenge of looking over a wastewater treatment plan before you buy a hacksaw at Canadian Tire is a bit daunting for most folks (and best left to the experts in my view).

In a modern society, division of labor is a remarkably good thing. We can't all be captains of our own ship, or self-made masters of our own fate (no matter how much we try). We are doomed to depend on others to make our individual dreams come true (regardless of our fantasies of autonomy and independence and being self made). We do need others in some respect … I take it you know this (even if only on a smaller scale of your immediate relationships, your community and your family).

And what is this bunk about models? Yes, the earth's climate is a complex system (involving feedback loops, uncertain ocean and air circulation patterns, unpredictable wildfire and seasonal shifts, volcanic episodes, etc.). In this sense, the climate is unpredictable and models are an approximation. What does this have to do with anything, and the basic premise that unprecedented rise of carbon in the atmosphere is human generated, and leading to very rapid shifts (far shorter than a geological scale) in the environment that are destabilizing and costly for human communities and long term sustainability. I never took you to be such a philistine about these things. Do we really have to argue over these things all over again, I thought this was pretty much well established and a given at this point? The main question is how best to address it and deal with it, spread out the risk, and best realize our collective interests and goals in the process? The camping metaphor pertains here. All we can do is mitigate the impacts of our own actions, we seem to be far past the point of avoiding them (as any wilderness traveller might clearly and honestly tell you). Learning to be good travel partners (neighbors), and enjoy the scenery, is going to be key.


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PostPosted: July 3rd, 2013, 7:30 am 
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Ed, that's why nothing gets done. The individual wants companies to make the change out of the goodness of their heart and has allowed the environmental government agencies to have been neutered to the point that they have little influence. At the most, companies will only do the environmental approach to the point that they perceive it will cost them more later. So unless individuals speak with their wallets and their vote nothing will happen. This is the reason that 30 years have passed since the gas crisis of the late 1970s and nearly every car on the road is still burning gas.

I'm fully in agreement that we need to work together to get there, but everyone standing pointing at the other to do something will take several centuries before anything happens. If individuals stopped making F-150s with V-8s the best selling car in North America and demanded that Ford build a pickup that gets 30+ miles a gallon, Ford would make such a vehicle, and GM and Chrysler will be right behind.

There are two paths here... and both start with the populace. People choose to talk with their wallets... they buy more efficient cars, they choose to make their houses more environmentally sound, they use less energy. The second path is that people speak with their vote, and they give the environmental agencies (EPA, and state environmental agencies) the nuts to actually do something. The reality is that EPA can demand better gas mileage... but unless the populace buys more efficient cars, Ford, GM, and Chrysler haven't a prayers chance to make the mileage requirements EPA already has. It's the same as my business. We are supposed to get companies to clean up their legacy environmental issues. But people don't want their employer to have to clean up their environmental mess but nearly the entire populace believes that the company causing the spill should clean it up (ie: Polluter Pays).

We will never see a comprehensive plan for dealing with the worlds energy woes until the people demand it. Hoping for anything else is a pipe dream.

PK


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