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PostPosted: December 12th, 2015, 10:34 am 
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While waiting for the big announcement due this weekend with the Eiffel tower in the background... IIRC recently at the Paris climate talks, Hansen was trying to raise awareness that nuclear power and a universal carbon tax would be needed to make a real change in GHG emissions, which are both politically unpopular. I guess he stomped off in a huff.

He may well have a point... China recently announced that they would continue to burn coal for at least 15 years, and IIRC India plans on using more coal as well. They and other developing nations most likely don't have enough economic capacity to allow for a carbon tax while development moves forward.

Nations like Russia, Iran and Venezuela need the money that selling cheap oil brings in, and Saudi Arabia and the rest of the OPEC producers continue to pump out more millions of barrels every day in a price war with the United States, where fracking has made it the world's #1 producer.

<makes sense to me>

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James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks 'a fraud'


Saturday 12 December 2015 12.30 GMT

Mere mention of the Paris climate talks is enough to make James Hansen grumpy. The former Nasa scientist, considered the father of global awareness of climate change, is a soft-spoken, almost diffident Iowan. But when he talks about the gathering of nearly 200 nations, his demeanor changes.


“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

The talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020, have spent much time and energy on two major issues: whether the world should aim to contain the temperature rise to 1.5C or 2C above preindustrial levels, and how much funding should be doled out by wealthy countries to developing nations that risk being swamped by rising seas and bashed by escalating extreme weather events.


But, according to Hansen, the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions aren’t taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.

Hansen, 74, has just returned from Paris where he again called for a price to be placed on each tonne of carbon from major emitters (he’s suggested a “fee” – because “taxes scare people off” – of $15 a tonne that would rise $10 a year and bring in $600bn in the US alone). There aren’t many takers, even among “big green” as Hansen labels environment groups.




Hansen has been a nagging yet respected voice on climate change since he shot to prominence in the summer of 1988. The Nasa scientists, who had been analyzing changes in the Earth’s climate since the 1970s, told a congressional committee that something called the “greenhouse effect” where heat-trapped gases are released into the atmosphere was causing global warming with a 99% certainty.

A New York Times report of the 1988 testimony includes the radical suggestion that there should be a “sharp reduction in the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide”, a plea familiar to those who have watched politicians who have traipsed up to the lectern or interviewer’s microphone in Paris over the past two weeks.

After that, things started to get a little difficult for Hansen. He claims the White House altered subsequent testimony, given in 1989, and that Nasa appointed a media overseer who vetted what he said to the press. They held practice press conferences where any suggestion that fossil fuels be reduced was considered political and unscientific, and therefore should not be uttered.

“Scientists are trained to be objective,” Hansen says. “I don’t think we should be prevented for talking about the the implications of science.” He retired from Nasa in 2013. “That was a source of friction. I held on longer than I wanted, by a year or two. I was in my 70s, it was time for someone else to take over. Now I feel a lot better.”


From being possibly America’s most celebrated scientist, Hansen is now probably its most prominent climate activist. He’s been arrested several times in protests outside the White House over mining and the controversial Keystone pipeline extension.

He is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University. When he’s in New York, he lives near the campus, surrounded by books piled on groaning shelves. Hansen’s not slowing down – he’s involved in a climate lobbying group and still undertakes the sort of scientific endeavor which helps maintain his gravitas.

One particular paper, released in July, painted a particularly bleak future for just about anyone living near the coast. Hansen and 16 colleagues found that Earth’s huge ice sheets, such as those found in Greenland, are melting faster than expected, meaning that even the 2C warming limit is “highly dangerous”.

The sea level could soon be up to five meters higher than it is today by the latter part of this century, unless greenhouse gases aren’t radically slashed, the paper states. This would inundate many of the world’s cities, including London, New York, Miami and Shanghai.

“More than half of the world’s cities of the world are at risk,” Hansen says. “If you talk to glaciologists privately they will tell you they are very concerned we are locking in much more significant sea level rises than the ice sheet models are telling us.


“The economic cost of a business as usual approach to emissions is incalculable. It will become questionable whether global governance will break down. You’re talking about hundreds of million of climate refugees from places such as Pakistan and China. We just can’t let that happen. Civilization was set up and developed with a stable, constant coastline.”

The paper has yet to be fully peer reviewed and some of Hansen’s colleagues, including his protege at Nasa, Gavin Schmidt, have voiced their doubts whether sea level rise will be quite this bad, with the IPCC projecting up to a meter by 2100.

Brickbats are thrown in a bipartisan way. Hansen feels Obama, who has made climate change a legacy issue in his final year in office, has botched the opportunity to tackle the issue.


“We all foolishly had such high hopes for Obama, to articulate things, to be like Roosevelt and have fireside chats to explain to the public why we need to have a rising fee on carbon in order to move to clean energy,” he says. “But he’s not particularly good at that. He didn’t make it a priority and now it’s too late for him.”

Hansen is just as scathing of leading Republicans who have embraced climate science denialism to the chagrin of some party elders.

Leading presidential candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson have all derided evidence that the world is warming due to human activity while Ted Cruz, another contender, has taken time out from his campaign to to sit on an inquiry into climate science that has heard testimony from a rightwing radio host who has no scientific background.

“It’s all embarrassing really,” Hansen says. “After a while you realise as a scientist that politicians don’t act rationally.

“Many of the conservatives know climate change is not a hoax. But those running for president are hamstrung by the fact they think they can’t get the nomination if they say this is an issue. They wouldn’t get money from the fossil fuel industry.”

There is a positive note to end on, however. Global emissions have somewhat stalled and Hansen believes China, the world’s largest emitter, will now step up to provide the leadership lacking from the US. A submerged Fifth Avenue and deadly heatwaves aren’t an inevitability.

“I think we will get there because China is rational,” Hansen says. “Their leaders are mostly trained in engineering and such things, they don’t deny climate change and they have a huge incentive, which is air pollution. It’s so bad in their cities they need to move to clean energies. They realise it’s not a hoax. But they will need co-operation.”




http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ ... alks-fraud

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PostPosted: December 12th, 2015, 12:11 pm 
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Interesting. It seems to me that the most logical level for a carbon tax would be the cost of taking the carbon out of the atmosphere. Estimates of that vary a lot but it is probably more than $100 per tonne today.

Hansen is also very pro-nuke and he does raise some good points here http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ ... ate-change. On the other hand it is simply reality that many if not most countries in the world are not comfortable with expanding nuclear power at the pace he suggest.

Costs for renewables like solar and wind are decreasing rapidly. But these are not carbon-free when looked at through their whole lifecycle. In fact solar may not even achieve carbon neutrality if the cells are made in places like China using dirty electricity (as most today are), and used in marginal solar environments like Germany http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2015/04/ ... power.html. Elon Musk has the right idea about locating his production factories in areas with abundant solar insolation.

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PostPosted: December 12th, 2015, 8:52 pm 
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Off-topic: Low tech magazine is awesome!

Carry on...

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PostPosted: December 13th, 2015, 10:24 am 
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sturgeon wrote:
Off-topic: Low tech magazine is awesome!

Carry on...


Yeah, No-Tech magazine is pretty good too! http://www.notechmagazine.com/

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PostPosted: December 27th, 2015, 11:57 am 
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frozentripper wrote:
He may well have a point ...

Hansen doesn’t believe competitive markets or economics have a role in carbon mitigation (hence his opposition to cap and trade programs and advocacy for nuclear power). He believes in central planning and public financing of large scale energy alternatives as the only viable option for responding to climate change. I’m surprised you agree with him and his approach to such concerns and issues?

His climate alternative (to quote from elsewhere) … “is centrally administered by technical specialists, completely reliant on government subsidies, dependent on future breakthroughs in research, and sure to promote international proliferation and worsen inequity and vulnerability, that requires draconian security measures, wastefully generates and distributes electricity, remains based on highly uncertain projections about theoretical nuclear designs and available fuel, fouls water and the land, and trashes the planet for many future generations?” It is opposed to alternatives that are … “more efficient, independent from government funding, and encompassing commercially available technologies, that operates with minimal harm to the environment, remains resilient to disruptions and terrorist assaults, [and] is equally available to all future generations …”


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PostPosted: December 28th, 2015, 11:26 am 
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I’m surprised you agree with him and his approach to such concerns and issues?


Well, he indeed may well have a point, with the possibility that the Paris agreement is only a half-measure and stronger action is required if anything meaningful needs to be done. Personally, I have no idea whether he is right or not but his comments have more relevance than anything I can come up with no background in climate science, and there are other credible individuals with greater and lesser degrees of optimism.

That link you provide seems to be an anti-nuke website so maybe could be showing some bias? Hansen OTOH sees nuke buildouts as absolutely necessary to cutting GHGs since in his view renewables cannot scale up fast enough to create real change.

Kyoto did not result in any bigger-picture reduction in global CO2 loadings and neither did the subsequent Durban (2011?) affirmation and agreement, so maybe there is cause for concern whether any real change will result from Paris. IIRC there is nothing in the Paris agreement that is legally binding, same story as Kyoto and Durban, so could be deluded politicians spinning their success while doing the best they can with the little they've got.


PS... in other news, it seems that all of the Republican candidates running for POTUS now are climate warming deniers, or is that just the popular press playing up the sensationalism? Campaigning through 2016 should be interesting with 2015 shaping up to be the warmest year recorded and the five year block ending in 2015 also the warmest five years on record.

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PostPosted: December 28th, 2015, 11:58 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
That link you provide seems to be an anti-nuke website so maybe could be showing some bias?

Sovacool is an academic researcher. Many of his articles on nuclear and energy issues in general are peer reviewed.

frozentripper wrote:
Campaigning through 2016 should be interesting …

That’s one way of putting it ...

frozentripper wrote:
Kyoto did not result in any bigger-picture reduction in global CO2 loadings and neither did the subsequent Durban (2011?) affirmation and agreement, so maybe there is cause for concern …

As someone who appears to share his concerns, you think the approach that Hansen recommends (prescriptive, unilateral, and publicly financed) would be better in this instance?


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PostPosted: December 29th, 2015, 10:16 am 
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As someone who appears to share his concerns, you think the approach that Hansen recommends (prescriptive, unilateral, and publicly financed) would be better in this instance?


There are far too many nuke haters in America and Europe preventing that from becoming a broadly-based possibility, so a real Hansen plan with specific measures and targets being outlined doesn't seem likely anytime soon. Some similarity might exist in a top-down strategy being adopted by China, where nukes are seen as essential in meeting CO2 targets. But that's only a partial solution since China will also be building many coal-fired plants so it remains to be seen whether their plans will amount to anything. IIRC, China also announced that they underestimated their need to burn coal by 17% during the Paris talks so that shows how quickly uncertainty in the system makes itself apparent.


Quote:
Nuclear energy ‘essential’ to meet China’s climate targets, top official says

The nation aims to supply as much of 20pc of its energy using renewable sources by 2030, but more atomic power plants needed to fill gaps, according to Xie Zhenhua

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 December, 2015, 5:35pm

Nuclear energy is “essential” to meet mainland China’s 2030 climate targets, the nation’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

But he said safety would be a priority, and the government was still considering when and where to launch inland nuclear projects.

“If we want to substantially reduce our dependence on coal and thermal power, renewable energies alone will not be able to account for as much as 20 per cent in total energy supply by 2030. We will definitely need nuclear energy,” Xie said.

...



http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies ... te-targets

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PostPosted: March 26th, 2016, 6:59 pm 
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Here's a recent paper that again suggests that the Paris agreement was at best, a half-measure.

Quote:
Efforts to curtail world temps will almost surely fail

Date:

March 23, 2016

Source:

Texas A&M University

Summary:

The goals set a few months ago in Paris to prevent further rising of worldwide temperatures are almost sure to fail and will never be achieved, according to a new study.

...


The Texas A&M researchers modelled the projected growth in global population and per capita energy consumption, as well as the size of known reserves of oil, coal and natural gas, and greenhouse gas emissions to determine just how difficult it will be to achieve the less-than-2 degree Celsius warming goal.

"It would require rates of change in our energy infrastructure and energy mix that have never happened in world history and that are extremely unlikely to be achieved," explains Jones.

The Paris Agreement's overall goal is to replace fossil fuels, which emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which in turn leads to higher temperatures, with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power and biofuels.

...


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 152508.htm

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PostPosted: March 28th, 2016, 11:02 am 
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I don’t think there is anybody who thinks paris agreement is a complete solution to global climate challenges. It establishes many key features, however, of a workable solution, and a path forward to regular meetings, updates, new benchmarks, and revisions. The politics and the science of global climate change are two very different animals. Do you have an alternative?

http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/0 ... or-failure

https://newrepublic.com/article/125739/ ... -agreement


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PostPosted: March 28th, 2016, 2:13 pm 
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IIRC there was a great deal of hand-wringing and agonizing over what target the Paris conference participants should agree to... with a two degree increase finally being the agreed-to limit. So the news releases at the time were, again IIRC, OK we have FINALLY hammered out a hard target in Paris, two degrees and no more... break out the champagne.

Politicians like to surround themselves with experts that tell them what they want to hear, and that makes the news. Two degrees on paper and in cyberspace, maybe, but on the ground, some of the dissenting scientists seem to be pointing out something different.

Anyway, skepticism is at the hard core of good science, and the dissenters should at least be heard through all the back-slapping and self-congratulation.

Quote:
Do you have an alternative?


Hansen's alternative was to go in with nuclear buildouts bigtime, since in his opinion, renewables wouldn't be able to scale up fast enough to reduce CO2 loadings significantly. Scaling-up might happen after some large and tremendously damaging climate-related catastrophes, if it's a crisis-reactive world still making the decisions on how things should be moving forward. An all-out nuclear buildout should be possible with all the money that's sloshing around out there but what it takes to make that kind of change happen doesn't seem to have happened just yet.

Very interesting, though, to watch and see how it all plays out. Also, what are we going to get to understand? Who understands the underlying reality better, the scientists or the politicians? Lots of arguments either way.

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