A must-watch video on global warming

The Daily Kos highlights this really nice 8.5-minute video on global warming by Peter Sinclair, called “Welcome to the rest of our lives.” It doesn’t so much “prove” anthropogenic global warming with data as tell us what we’re in for.

As Pete Seeger once wrote in another context, “When will they ever learn?”

132 Comments

  1. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    “When will they ever learn?”

    Often on the way off the cliff when it’s too late to make any difference. Or is that for lemmings? Sometimes, it’s difficult to distinguish us from them.

    • Achrachno
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      The lemmings have tails.

  2. J
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    Well that was thoroughly disheartening.

    • Ludo
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:40 am | Permalink

      Look at it from the bright side: is Mr. Tillerson’s (Exxon Mobile) “we will adapt to that’ not heartening pro-evolution soundbite?

      • Ludo
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:41 am | Permalink

        — not a heartening —

        • Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:25 am | Permalink

          Perhaps someone should explain to him that wholesale adaptations to catastrophic change involves the death of large swaths of the stressed population.

          So if we “adapt to that” is he willing to accept that billions of people are at risk of dying because of man’s failure to accept that we created our own “engineering problem?”

          I don’t know how much he knows about evolution.

          • Tony61
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

            My guess is that Tillerson understands that concept on some level…but he’s confident that those billions of individuals at risk will not include him or his progeny. His comment and its tone is really just saying, “F**k You, stop talking about this!” and trying to sound like the voice of reason with the circle of life mumbo jumbo.

            Oil executives know climate science better than any of us. They are highly intelligent with access to every informational resource. Like the banksters, they are invested for the very short term. Get your stash and get out.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if Tillerson and other oil execs are already making investments in the mitigation instruments and lobbying for tax incentives and govt subsidies for those industries. That seems to be how the game works.

          • JT
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

            By “we”, Tillerson meant “rich people like me”. I think the rich folks will adapt just fine. The other 99% are screwed.

          • Tim
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

            Chances are that few people in his gated community or near his summer home or fellow passengers on his company jet will facing death from famine. You see, he simply doesn’t care what “adaptation” really means.

            It is difficult to imagine how (willfully) clueless many of these guys are. He’s much like Mr. Romney, who urges students to ‘go out and take a chance – start a business. If you need money to get it started, borrow it from your parents.”

            • Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

              Indeed. And, when people run out of bread to eat, they should simply eat cake instead.

              b&

              • RF
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

                Are you aware that the “let them eat cake” thing was made up? Do you not feel that there is anything unseemly about referencing a dishonest attack on the privileged in your own attack?

              • Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

                Are you aware that I never mentioned Marie Antoinette or the French Revolution? Do you not feel that there is anything unseemly about twisting the words of all those who are too rational to share your selfish Randite Libertarian insanity?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • RF
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

                I said “referencing”, not “mentioning”. It’s quite hypocritical for you to be accusing me of dishonesty, when you are responding to a claim that I never made, ascribing my post to an opposition to “rationality”, when I quite clearly was responding to dishonesty, and then accusing me of being a “Randite Libertarian”, when I am no such thing, and I have given you absolutely no basis for concluding that I am.

                What the hell is wrong with you people? Do you not feel the least bit guilty about sending the message that evolutionists are a bunch of dishonest, closeminded assholes who respond to any criticism with personal attacks and off-the-wall accusations?

                The thing about AGW is its proponents claim there is overwhelming scientific evidence for it, but on the other hand its proponents are, with distressing frequency, a bunch of lying, verbally abusive jerks, which seriously erodes their credibility.

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

                RF, denying the fact of global warming is as idiotic as denying the facts of evolution and basic orbital mechanics. Frankly, the lot of you are as much of a hopeless lost cause as the “Elvis is alive with a Martian two-headed child on the set that NASA used to fake the Moon landings!” crowd, and I could give fuck-all about your poor widdle feelings.

                You should no more expect to be treated as a serious adult for your beliefs than a Bigfoot proponent at an Evolution Society meeting. If you’re really lucky, you might find somebody who’ll keep his snickering under his breath long enough to give you a sixth-grade-level introductory lecture on the subject.

                Cheers,

                b&

          • RF
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

            You people sure are ready to make wild accusations and personal attacks based on a cherry-picked soundbite, aren’t you?

            • Tim
              Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

              No, I’m willing to make a personal attack based on Exxon-Mobil’s willingness to provide long-term financial support for propaganda mills like the Heartland Institute. The kind of shit Mr. Tillerson is shoveling is of a kind that his shitty corporation has been supporting for a long time.

              • RF
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

                Given the context of your comment, the obvious interpretation what that it was based on the chain of misrepresentation that started with the “adapt” soundbite, and you’ve provided no reasoning connecting your further allegations to your previous ones. Furthermore, famine is a political, not climatic disaster.

            • Darth Dog
              Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

              Fair point that if that video was all that you heard from Tillerson, that it could be cherry picking. But here is the whole speech from last month. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/28/exxonmobil-climate-change-rex-tillerson
              I don’t think he has been unfairly represented.

              • RF
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

                He said that we will adapt by coming up with engineering solutions, and people here just grabbed the word “adapt”, dropped the “engineering”, and declared that “adapt” refers to evolution, and that he is suggesting that we let billions of people die. I don’t see how that isn’t misrepresentation.

              • Darth Dog
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

                I’m an engineer. I don’t see moving a couple of hundred million people out of Bangladesh as an engineering problem. Seems to me there are some social, political and economic aspects to the problem.
                I don’t see why if we are going to “adapt” and use “engineering solutions” why they can’t include the obvious one of using less fossil fuel. Doesn’t seem to be at the top of his list though.

          • Gary W
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps someone should explain to him that wholesale adaptations to catastrophic change

            What’s the probability of “catastrophic change?” What is the cost of actions to reduce that probability? The evidence for human-caused global warming is pretty clear. How we should respond to it is not clear at all.

            • Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

              The good news is that the proper and obvious response is the one that any self-respecting business with an interest that spans beyond the next quarterly earnings statement should be all over like white on rice.

              Going green means doing more with less by increasing inefficiency. It means saving money and investing in the future so there’s less waste. And it means moving away from a fast-running-out, dirty, expensive energy source that’s mined from remote places governed by unstable and repressive regimes to an inexhaustible, clean energy source that, once you’ve put the infrastructure in place, is too cheap to meter.

              I honestly have no clue why the conservative types aren’t all over the green movement, and especially Wall Street. By all rights, they should be leading the charge.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Gary W
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

                Going green means doing more with less by increasing inefficiency. It means saving money and investing in the future so there’s less waste. And it means moving away from a fast-running-out, dirty, expensive energy source that’s mined from remote places governed by unstable and repressive regimes to an inexhaustible, clean energy source that, once you’ve put the infrastructure in place, is too cheap to meter.

                So what specific policies to “move away from a fast-running-out…etc” do you propose? Do you have a cost-benefit analysis showing that the benefits of whatever policies you advocate would exceed their costs?

                And I’m not sure what you mean exactly by “fast-running-out, dirty, expensive energy sources” but we don’t seem to be running out of fossil fuels very fast. We have huge coal reserves, and recent discoveries of new oil and gas deposits plus new technologies for exploiting them have greatly expanded estimates of economically recoverable reserves of those fuels also.

              • RF
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

                “Going green means doing more with less by increasing inefficiency.”
                Bit of a Freudian slip, there.

                “It means saving money”
                “Going Green” pretty much by definition means spending more money. If something saves money AND helps the environment, then it’s not “Going Green”, it’s “Not Being an Idiot”. Any corporation not run by idiots is already doing pretty much everything it can that saves money and helps the environment, so the only thing left for activists to promote is stuff that costs money.

                “And it means moving away from a fast-running-out, dirty, expensive energy source that’s mined from remote places governed by unstable and repressive regimes to an inexhaustible, clean energy source that, once you’ve put the infrastructure in place, is too cheap to meter.”
                Oil is cheap and plentiful. Solar energy is horribly expensive. If you were making an argument based on externalities, that would be one thing, but your post makes no sense unless one is willing to accept that there is a massive conspiracy among corporate executives to waste stockholder money just so they can trash the environment. I don’t believe that Smith’s Invisible Hand is perfect, but it’s certainly not actively malicious. Laissez faire may sometimes result in behavior that decreases total welfare, but it’s always because *the behavior is profitable*. People don’t generally engage in anti-social behavior simply for the sadistic pleasure of it.

              • Dietrich
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

                I would like to reply to “RF”, but I guess his comment is nested too deeply?

                “Going Green” involves up-front capital expense resulting in long-term savings and a better environment. Corporations avoid this not because they are run by idiots, but because management is incented to provide increased profits quarter by quarter rather than long-term savings, with little to no regard for environmental impact. Certainly you must understand that.

                Also, oil is no longer “cheap and plentiful”; we have either passed “peak oil” or will soon. The oil that is left is more expensive to extract. I’m guessing you’re not a big fan of government, but the U.S. subisidizes oil to a huge extent (both in direct subsidies to oil companies and by fighting wars to protect our oil interests abroad). Coal also has externalities that are not incorporated into what consumers pay — mostly in terms of pollution, worker health, and landscape destruction.

                Even with the subsidies for fossil fuels, we appear to be at or near a tipping point for alternative energy and energy efficiency. I’m currently reading a book called “Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era”. The book is based on research by the Rocky Mountain Institute, and describes the business case for moving the U.S. economy almost completely away from fossil fuels by 2050. It claims that “This transition would cost $5 trillion less than business-as-usual — without counting fossil fuels’ huge hidden costs. It requires no new federal taxes, subsidies, mandates or laws.” I’ve just started it, but so far it is a very interesting read.

              • Gary W
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

                “Going Green” involves up-front capital expense resulting in long-term savings and a better environment.

                It’s hard to make a persuasive case that people should agree to pay large and certain costs now for uncertain future benefits, especially if the presumed benefits are many decades away. This is especially true for people in the developing world, who stand to suffer the most from policies that would reduce global economic activity.

                Also, oil is no longer “cheap and plentiful”; we have either passed “peak oil” or will soon.

                This claim seems pretty dubious. A new report from the Harvard Kennedy Center, for example, projects that global oil production will increase from the current 93 million barrels a day to 110 million in 2020, and even higher beyond that. New discoveries of unconventional deposits plus new technologies for exploiting them (e.g., fracking) have greatly increased estimates of economically recoverable reserves. It’s a similar story for natural gas. And there’s little reason to think oil and gas production technology will not improve even more in the future. In general, predictions of resource shortages do not have a very good track record.

              • Dietrich
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:20 am | Permalink

                When the Empire State Building was renovated in 2006, the owner invested $13 million in energy efficiency upgrades, resulting in over $4 million per year in energy savings. That capital outlay was repaid in 3 years (not decades), and the owner now reaps the benefits of lower energy costs year after year. Not every energy-related investment will have such a short payback period, but there are many that make fiscal sense with a long-term outlook.

                What are the policies you refer to that will reduce economic activity?

                U.S. domestic oil production has peaked, but not global production as you state. At any rate, U.S. domestic oil is getting harder and more expensive to extract, and oil from the Middle East puts us in a precarious political situation (as the last ten years have been a painful reminder). You’re correct that predictions of shortages have been wrong in the past, but I think we can agree that fossil fuels are a finite resource that are being used up at a greater rate than in the past.

                And of course, there is the fact that pumping carbon into the atmosphere that has been sequestered underground for millions of years turns out to be a bad idea.

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

                Gary, you should spend a lot of time in the archives of Tom Murphy’s Do The Math blog. Start with a quick look at the first graph on his Energy Trap post.

                Global oil production either is peaking or has peaked, exactly the same way that American production did in the 70s and the North Sea not too long after.

                Yes, we’ve still got lots of oil left — half as much as we’ve already used, in fact. But we’re now reduced to drilling wells several miles deep with the wellheads a mile or more under the ocean. The days of being careful of where you stick a shovel in Texas lest you start a gusher are long since past, and today’s oil is far more expensive (in terms of both dollars and energy) to extract than ever before. And it’s only going to get worse.

                And, yes, we’ve got lots of other petrochemicals we can get energy from. But either we can’t use them for transportation (coal) or they’re more expensive (in terms of dollars and energy) than solar (tar sands).

                So why the hell are we fucking around with all this expensive and dirty shit we’re digging out of the ground that we know will be mined out in no more than a century or so when we can, for only marginally more than what we’re spending today and a lot less than we’ll have to spend when things get scarce, have a truly unlimited lifetime supply of clean energy too cheap to meter?

                We just have to finish building out this infrastructure this once, and it’ll catapult us beyond our wildest imagination.

                So what’s the objection? That you like burning your heirloom furniture so you can stay marginally less cold in the winter?

                b&

              • Gary W
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

                Dietrich,

                I’m not talking about inexpensive energy efficiency improvements with a clear short-term payback, like your Empire State Building example. I’m talking about major costs to the economy with a highly speculative long-term payback, like a big carbon tax. This could have a major adverse impact on the economies of developing countries.

                I think you’re wrong about U.S. oil production as well as global oil production. See, for example, this New York Times piece, about recent and projected increases in U.S. oil production. It’s already increased by 25% since 2008.

                http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/opinion/sunday/the-new-politics-of-energy.html?pagewanted=all

              • Gary W
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

                Ben Goren,

                Global oil production either is peaking or has peaked,

                See my comments to Dietrich. You both seem to be relying on obsolete information. There is strong evidence that global oil production is not even close to peaking. New discoveries and technologies have dramatically increased estimates of economcally recoverable reserves.

                And, yes, we’ve got lots of other petrochemicals we can get energy from. But either we can’t use them for transportation (coal)

                I don’t think this is true either. There are technologies for producing liquid fuels suitable for transportation from both coal and natural gas.

                I think you’re massively overhyping the near-term potential of renewables. They’re still not cost-competitive with fossil fuels at large scale. If they were, we’d be using a lot more of them.

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

                Gary, right there in your NY Times opinion piece is unassailable proof positive that we’re almost out of oil and that we’re basically fucked if we keep relying upon it.

                The biggest part of the increase is coming from what has become the “new thing” in energy — tight oil. That is the term for oil produced from tight rock formations with the same technology used to produce shale gas.

                Do you have any idea how expensive that sort of thing is, and how much more energy-intensive it is than the Texas oil gushers were of yore?

                And then there’s this:

                Tight oil could reach more than four million barrels per day by 2020.

                Puh-leeze. Global production is almost a hundred million barrels per day — all that “tight oil” will barely be a blip on the radar, barely enough to cover a couple year’s worth of typical market growth. And that’s the maximum amount projected by oil marketing executives to be reached almost a decade from now.

                The days of easy-to-exctract cheap oil are long since over and done with. We’re now, quite literally, scraping the bottom of the barrel. Our only saving grace is that you start scraping when you’ve only made it halfway through the total reserves.

                And let me sing the chorus one more time: solar, solar, solar. If it’s not already at a price parity with your “tight oil,” it soon will be. And, once you’ve built the infrastructure, the energy keeps on coming — unlike oil wells that run dry.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

                Gary, the question isn’t whether we can change one configuration of carbon and hydrogen into another. We can. We can even extract atmospheric carbon dioxide and use the Fischer-Tropsch process to turn it into syngas, and then use that as a feedstock in many modern refineries to turn it into pretty much anything you like.

                The question is first whether you get more energy out of such a transformation than you put into it (about 10:1 with brent sweet crude to gasoline, I think about 3:1 with tar sands to gasoline and even less with coal). The second is whether or not there’s a cheaper alternative.

                And, already, solar electricity production is cheaper than nuclear. And solar is only getting cheaper while petrochemicals are only getting more scarce and more expensive.

                Is solar more expensive than today’s oil? Yes, but not by all that much. But you’re a fool if you think that oil is going to remain cheap.

                How much do you think the oil companies will have to sell a barrel of tight oil for to recover the costs of fracking? It sure as hell won’t be the $100 that Saudi Arabia sells their last reserves of easy-to-reach-oil today.

                And, if you expand “we” to mean “the Western world,” then “we” have already gone green in some very big ways. Germany is generating about 30 GW of solar photovoltaic power. By way of comparison, Palo Verde, the United States’s biggest nuclear plant (about 70 miles from me) only generates about 3 GW. Each year, Germany is adding the equivalent of two Palo Verdes in solar installations.

                So, if Germany can do it and still be the only nation financially capable of holding up the rest of the EU, then why the hell aren’t we leading the charge?

                b&

              • Gary W
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

                Ben Goren,

                Current crude oil prices are around $90-$100 per barrel. Tight oil is estimated to be economically recoverable with existing technology at prices above $70 per barrel. The technology is expected to continue to improve. Apocalyptic predictions of a massive and sustained increase in oil prices in the foreseeable future just don’t seem credible.

                In addition, our ability to generate wealth from oil (GDP per barrel) is continually improving. It has doubled over the past 30 years. As I mentioned before, there is enormous potential to increase the fuel efficiency of automobiles. The Toyota Prius is two-and-a-half times as fuel efficient as the average auto. Plugin-in hybrids are three to four times as fuel efficient. This technology is also continually improving. Even if oil prices did rise dramatically, we already have the means to offset that increase through greater efficiency.

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

                Gary, let’s start with the basics.

                Do you agree that there is a finite amount of oil in the ground?

                If so, what do you think is a reasonable guesstimate of how much there is? An order of magnitude is all we need. Would you go along with me with a round figure of roughly a trillion (1e12) barrels?

                And how much petroleum do you think the world has consumed to date? I’d again suggest about a trillion barrels, give or take.

                If you agree with me on those figures, we can continue with some very simple math. If you don’t agree with me, feel free to suggest figures of your own; if I don’t have any serious problems with them, I’ll run with them.

                And, again, all we need is rough numbers for approximation. If you think there’s 1.3 trillion barrels left, or even 4 trillion, that won’t change the analysis significantly enough to warrant using the round number of one trillion. Ten trillion might, but then I’d start to challenge you on where you’re getting your figures.

                Also, for the sake of simplicity, let’s limit this to crude oil, and leave coal and natural gas and the rest out of it. Crude is relatively easy to turn into gasoline and jet fuel and diesel; not so with the others. There aren’t and never will be any coal-fired jet aircraft, and we did away with coal-fired locomotives ages ago for good reason. (Granted, a modern coal-fired locomotive wouldn’t be as bad as the classic kind, but we’d still have to scrap all the modern diesel hybrids in order to make such a switch).

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Gary W
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

                Yes, of course the amount of oil is finite. My point is that there seems to be little basis for the view that we’re likely to suffer a massive shortage of oil in the foreseeable future, by which I mean the next few decades. Beyond that kind of time-frame, I think reasonable prediction is very, very hard. But I very much doubt we’ll ever actually run out of the stuff. We’ll eventually transition to non-fossil fuel energy sources. But I think that transition is going to be much more gradual than you seem to think. Of course, we cannot rule out the possibility of some technological breakthrough in the near future that will massively increase the economic and practical viability of large-scale solar or other alternate sources and allow a much faster transition away from fossil fuels, but I wouldn’t count on it.

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

                Gary, since you seem to be granting me my assumptions of a trillion barrels burned and a trillion barrels in the ground, permit me to play with them a bit.

                We’re agreed that we’ll run out of oil at some point in the future. The question before us is when and how.

                Historically, oil consumption has been on an exponential growth curve of roughly 2% annual increases, equating (if you remember the Rule of 70) to a doubling of consumption every 35 years.

                It should be obvious and self-explanatory that one way we could use our remaining trillion barrels would be to decrease our consumption at a rate of 2% a year, in which case it will last us exactly as long into the future as we’ve had it in the past. And, indeed, if global production follows the same Hubbert curve as all individual oil wells and oil fields do, that’s exactly what’s going to happen, whether we like it or not.

                That would mean that we’d be burning as much oil in 2047 as we did in 1977, and as much in 2100 as we did in 1900.

                If you know anything at all about economics, those figures should shock and terrify you to the very marrow of your bones.

                Another option would be to stop all growth in oil consumption and hold levels steady at their current rate. To one single significant digit, that’s about a hundred million barrels per day. In this scenario, we have a stagnant economy for about 25 – 30 years (10,000 days), at which point the oil wells all instantly dry up simultaneously. Are you shitting your pants yet?

                The last option would be to continue our current 2% growth rate, in which case we use up all our oil in ten to fifteen years. If you’ve got any fear adrenaline left in your system, give it up now, because that’s the plan that economists are generally recommending.

                You might be wondering how we could possibly be facing total oil exhaustion in as little as a decade, if we’ve still got half our total oil reserves, an entire trillion barrels, left in the ground. And, if you’re wondering that, you’ve forgotten the parable of the bacteria in the petri dish whose population doubles every minute and whose dish fills up at noon.

                By immediately starting a 2% reduction in consumption, we’d guarantee that we’d still have a quarter of our total reserves (a half a trillion barrels) in 35 years, but we’d have to continue that 2% reduction in order to still have an eighth of our reserves in 70 years, and we’d have to hoard a sixteenth of our total endowment to make it through the last third of the coming century with a little bit to spare. Without that exponential reduction, we blow the whole wad far sooner.

                Now do you understand the problem?

                Oh — and efficiency gains are all well and good, but they’re band-aids on a compound leg fracture. We could increase our efficiency by 2% / year (an unrealistic figure, but what the hell), continue our 2% growth as if nothing’s amiss, and we’d still run out of oil before mid-century. And there are limits to efficiency gains; an internal combustion engine in a vehicle with the cross-section of an SUV isn’t even going to ever get 50 MPG, let alone 100 MPG. Even an electric motor won’t get you that kind of efficiency. There’s hard physics stopping you, from the Carnot cycle to aerodynamical drag.

                And there’re two more points.

                That oil is going to get harder and harder to extract. Deep Water Horizon, after all, had a wellhead as far below the surface of the ocean as the Colorado River is below the rim of the Grand Canyon, and the well itself was drilled as far below the floor of the ocean as an airliner flies above sea level. Long before reserves reach a significant fraction of their current levels, oil will be too expensive to burn in cars. Think of gasoline above $10 / gallon, and what that’ll do to the economy. Now remember what exponential growth means, and imagine gasoline at $20 / gallon.

                And all the other non-solar alternatives not only can’t be used for transportation fuel (and, granted, neither can solar), but have finite resources in the ground such that we’re likely to reach their 50% recovery points in the next few decades as well, even if we don’t start draining them even faster to make up for the loss in oil production.

                If we’re even going to theoretically make it through this, we need a massive up-front investment, right now while we can still afford it, in solar, and then we need to continue to grow that investment faster than we deplete our other reserves.

                Anything else, and you can expect to live to see the world return to pre-industrial energy consumption levels — assuming, of course, you don’t die in the chaos.

                Cheers!

                b&

              • Gary W
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

                No, I do not agree that we’ll run out of oil. I explicitly said that I very much doubt that will happen. And I think your assumptions that we are in a position to reliably predict the total amount of recoverable oil and that past consumption growth can be extrapolated far into the future are completely unwarranted. That kind of naive extrapolation has been the cause of many failed predictions of resource shortages in the past, from Thomas Malthus to the Club of Rome. It ignores the ongoing discovery of new deposits. It ignores the ongoing advance of technology for recovering deposits, for converting oil into wealth, and for substituting other fossil fuels for oil. And it ignores changes in things like long-term economic gowth and population growth.

              • Gary W
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

                And there are limits to efficiency gains; an internal combustion engine in a vehicle with the cross-section of an SUV isn’t even going to ever get 50 MPG, let alone 100 MPG. Even an electric motor won’t get you that kind of efficiency. There’s hard physics stopping you, from the Carnot cycle to aerodynamical drag.

                This statement is a good example of the problems with your analysis. I’m pretty sure it’s wrong even as stated (I’d like to see your “hard physics” analysis). But it includes a completely unwarranted assumption anyway. Automobiles don’t need to have “the cross-section of an SUV.” Hybrid technology ALREADY allows 5-passenger internal-combustion-engine automobiles to get more than 50 mpg. Volkswagen has produced a 2-passenger internal-combustion automobile that gets over 230 mpg. And this is with current technology. Future technology will almost certainly be able to improve efficiency even more.

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

                No, I do not agree that we’ll run out of oil. I explicitly said that I very much doubt that will happen.

                Then you must either think that oil is a renewable resource (which it quite clearly isn’t) or that it’s infinite (which you’ve previously agreed it isn’t).

                There is no other alternative.

                And I think your assumptions that we are in a position to reliably predict the total amount of recoverable oil and that past consumption growth can be extrapolated far into the future are completely unwarranted.

                So, you don’t like my estimate of a trillion barrels of oil remaining in the ground. Fine.

                What number do you like better?

                Aw, heck. I know you’re not going to give me a number, so let me make one up for you, and we’ll see that it makes no difference.

                Let’s assume that we’ve got twice as much economically recoverable oil as even the oil companies think we do, an entire two trillion barrels. You won’t find any published figure that says there’s even theoretically that much oil left in the ground, but let’s pretend there is.

                All that means is that, instead of us being in the middle of peak oil today, we’ll be in the middle of peak oil somewhere in the 2030s. We’ve bought ourselves another decade and a half.

                Woo-hoo.

                …at which point, the crash-and-burn happens that much faster, because, thanks to our two percent growth rate, we’re now using oil at a rate of a hundred and thirty million barrels a day, instead of just a hundred million barrels a day.

                Oops.

                That kind of naive extrapolation has been the cause of many failed predictions of resource shortages in the past, from Thomas Malthus to the Club of Rome. It ignores the ongoing discovery of new deposits.

                Do you really think that there’s substantially more than twice as many new deposits to be discovered as the oil industry thinks there is? Are you unaware that the Hubbert peak applies to discovery just as well as it does to production, and that discovery peaked some time ago?

                It ignores the ongoing advance of technology for recovering deposits,

                Oh, no it doesn’t. It assumes that there’s as much oil in the ground as has been extracted in all of human history, and that we’ll be sending midgets with straws into those 20-mile-deep well bores to suck out every last drop. Which favors your position, because it’s just too damned expensive (energetically as well as economically) to extract oil once you start hitting the dregs.

                for converting oil into wealth,

                That wealth typically comes in the form of SUVs and big-screen TVs. If that wealth were in the form of solar panels, we’d be golden; as it is, the wealth is just making the problem that much worse.

                and for substituting other fossil fuels for oil.

                And how, exactly, do you plan on doing that? Ever tried running an airliner on coal, a freight train on compressed natural gas, or even a gasoline car on diesel?

                Or, what — you expect us to throw away the entire transportation fleet (including the energy embodied therein) and replace it with something that can burn the flavor of the week?

                And it ignores changes in things like long-term economic gowth and population growth.

                And how, exactly, do you expect to contract the economy and the population by the 2% – 3% annually that we’ll need in order to keep pace with or stay ahead of a gradual decline in oil production that would leave us at 1900 levels of consumption in 2100?

                b&

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

                Gary, Tom Murphy has done all the math on a 100 MPG(e) car far better than I could.

                And the math isn’t at all in your court, even if my estimates are imprecise.

                b&

              • Gary W
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

                Gary, Tom Murphy has done all the math on a 100 MPG(e) car far better than I could.

                I’m not going to bother wading through his analysis, but if he’s claiming that a 100 mpg car is impossible, he is simply wrong. As I said, Volkswagen has already produced a 2-passenger car that gets 230 mpg. And it’s not just a technology demonstrator with no real-world value. It was specifically designed as a practical and roadworthy urban vehicle.

                230 mpg is more than 10 times as fuel-efficient as the average internal combustion automobile today. That doesn’t mean that we can expect most future cars to be this efficient, but it does illustrate the potential, even with existing technology, for not simply minor improvements in fuel efficiency over today’s vehicles, but massive improvements.

              • Gary W
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

                Then you must either think that oil is a renewable resource (which it quite clearly isn’t) or that it’s infinite (which you’ve previously agreed it isn’t).

                No, I don’t think either of those things. I don’t think we’re going to run out of rocks, either. That doesn’t mean I must think rocks are renewable or infinite. Your claims are becoming increasingly bizarre.

                The rest of your latest comment is similar. You keep asking questions and making assertions that rest on empirical premises you do not substantiate and that I do not accept.

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

                Gary, read Tom’s whole post on vehicle efficiency. He even gives an example of a trout-shaped car with a cross-section of 1.5m², a coefficient of drag of 0.1, and a 50% efficient engine that gets a whopping 466 MPG. And that’s exactly the sort of thing that your ultra-effieicnt VW does.

                But, switch that to a far more realistic (though still radical) 2.5m² frontal area (about that of a Prius), a CoD of 0.2, and a 30% efficient engine, and you’re now down to 84 MPG. Scale that up to something with the capacity and configuration of even a modest SUV, and (as I wrote) you’re not going to get to 50 MPG, no way no how, not even on paper.

                And that’s just considering air resistance and ignoring rolling resistance and all other real-world efficiency saps.

                And I’m afraid that you’re strongly hinting at quite a stubborn amount of innumeracy or simple pig-headdedness…so, in yet another effort to cut this off at the pass, let me again ask you:

                What is the largest real-world estimate of recoverable petroleum reserves you think is a reasonable figure to plan for?

                You don’t accept my industry- and government-agreed-upon estimate of a trillion barrels, and you’re now implicitly rejecting my ludicrously-oversized hypothetical estimate of two trillion barrels.

                So, what? Do you think there’s still four trillion barrels of oil in the ground? Fine. Fantastic. The 50% depletion point is now all of three or four decades away at a point when a mere 2% annual growth rate has taken global consumption all the way to a quarter of a billion barrels of oil per day.

                But enough scenarios and number-crunching from me.

                What do you see as the current state of affairs, and how do you expect the future to play out? Please use, as I have, specific (if imprecise) figures and calculations. How much oil do we have left, how fast do you expect us to continue to use it, what (if anything) do you expect us to replace it with, and at what rate do you expect us to start using these new resources?

                If you actually sit down and do the math (rather than just handwave things away with “innovation” and “ingenuity” and “the human spirit” and what-not), you’ll find that we are, indeed, running full-tilt at a cliff with no obvious bridge to cross it.

                And, again, that’s not using any sort of weird or controversial numbers. A trillion barrels in the total global reserve and a hundred million barrels per day consumption are well-established figures that the industry itself puts forward, along with the government. Check the DoE, Wikipedia, whatever. That we run out in a few decades at today’s rates is simple math, as is that we run out in a dozen years if we were to grow our usage at 2% annually, as is that we can be at 1900-level usage by 2100 if we shrink our usage at 2% annually. This is all basic math that you should have learned in junior high school, if not sooner.

                So, What figures are you using, and how are you using them?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • RF
                Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

                ““Going Green” involves up-front capital expense resulting in long-term savings and a better environment. Corporations avoid this not because they are run by idiots, but because management is incented to provide increased profits quarter by quarter rather than long-term savings, with little to no regard for environmental impact. Certainly you must understand that.”
                Up-front capital expense in exchange for long-term profit is the entire point of corporations. Pharma companies spend millions of dollars on drugs that will take a decade to get onto the market. Management is judged on the basis of shareholder value (that is, stock price), and if the corporation is going to have large savings in the future, that will be reflected in the stock price. Amazon has gone 15 years without paying a dividend, and yet its stock is doing fine. Stock price is constantly being adjusted as new information comes in. A superficial understanding of the stock market might lead you to think that quarterly profit statements are highly important, but they’re not. The only reason they get so much attention is that they are an entire quarter’s worth of information being released at once, so their effect is more noticeable. Each ordinary day’s fluctuation is smaller than a day that quarterly reports are issued, but put together ordinary days are more important that quarterly reports. Furthermore, expected profits from projects are usually reflected in quarterly statements.

                “Also, oil is no longer “cheap and plentiful”; we have either passed “peak oil” or will soon. The oil that is left is more expensive to extract.”
                Even with the increase in cost, it’s still rather cheap. A gallon of gasoline costs about as much as a gallon of milk.

                “I’m guessing you’re not a big fan of government, but the U.S. subisidizes oil to a huge extent”
                I specifically mentioned externalities. They aren’t really relevant to the argument at hand (which is whether it’s in the interests of individual private actors to move away from fossil fuels).

              • Gary W
                Posted July 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

                Ben Goren,

                To repeat: For the reasons I explained, I do not accept your assumptions. I don’t believe it’s plausible that oil demand will continue to grow at 2% a year for the next three or four decades. This kind of naive extrapolation of historical patterns has been the cause of many failed predictions of resource shortages. You’re making the same mistake.

                However, even if demand DOES grow at that rate, the math simply doesn’t support your doom-and-gloom predictions, anyway. The blog you cite itself cites an estimate of remaining conventional oil reserves of about 2 trillion barrels. Plus an additional 17 trillion barrels in unconventional reserves plus coal-to-liquid and gas-to-liquid conversion.

                I think you are also massively overhyping the near-term potential of solar. As I already pointed out, Germany — the poster child for massive solar subsidies — only gets about 3% of its electricity from solar. There is no realistic potential for solar to contribute more than a few percentage points of total electricity in the within the next decade or so.

              • Posted July 16, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

                Gary, do you have any idea how catastrophic an end to growth in petroleum would be to the entire transportation industry? What do you think the Great Recession has been about, if not a flatlined economy?

                And I already ran the numbers for not only the 2 Tbbls you’re now advocating, but 4 Tbbls as well.

                If you think solar is too expensive, just wait till you see how expensive unconventional petroleum is.

                Coal to gas? Really? Do you honestly think you’ll be able to afford to drive your car on C2G fuel? If so, you’re one of the one percenters and that would explain your cavalier attitude. “Let them eat cake” and all that.

                As I’ve repeatedly written, I’m earning roughly a 10% annual return on my solar investment — and that doesn’t take into account the 5% rate increase (after two years) that the local utility just announced. Can you name even one of your unconventional petroleum sources that does even a quarter as well?

                Cheers,

                b&

            • Gary W
              Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

              Ben Goren,

              I’m not sure where you’re getting your information from about Germany. Wikipedia reports that in 2011, solar power provided just 3% (18TWh) of Germany’s total electricity. Three per cent. And it has only been able to achieve even that very modest contribution through massive subsidies, which the German government is now phasing out because they are too expensive.

      • Greg G
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        “Adaptation” is a creationist code-word for “evolution we can’t deny” for those who can’t stomach the word “microevolution”. They realize the Noah’s Ark couldn’t hold all the extant species and all the extinct species we know of, so they imagine that there were uber-kinds that became tropical lions and snow leopards by adaptation within the last 4000 years. Tillerson may be plucking those heartstrings of his supportive audience.

        • Ludo
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          …and gloatingly plan a new Noach’s Ark with very expensive cabins?

  3. newenglandbob
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Because their fictitious god promised in their fantasy bible that god will provide, the right wing nuts deny the reality in front of them. Yet another reason that religion poisons everything.

  4. Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Peter Sinclair has two channels in YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610/videos

    http://www.youtube.com/user/yaleclimateforum/videos

    I recommend both.

  5. Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    If you own property and have any semi-liquid investment money, you can easily do something about this and make a tidy profit at the same time.

    Put solar panels on your roof.

    Depending on where you are and what kind of system you put in, your investment will pay itself off in anywhere from five to ten years.

    Remember the Rule of 70? Divide 70 by the number of years to double, and that’s the annual growth rate. If your solar system pays for itself in seven years, that’s a ten percent rate of return — and I guarantee you you will never find a safer investment that pays so handsomely.

    And don’t fret that your local climate isn’t as sunny as it is here in Arizona. Even the gloomiest parts of the Pacific Northwest get half as much sun as the sunniest parts of Death Valley. Germans have gone solar in such a big way that it’s providing something like a third of their national electric power needs.

    Nor is there any need to go off the grid or produce all your power with solar. Indeed, the way many utilities structure their incentives, the best bang for your buck is with a system that only meets about a third of a typical household’s usage.

    Really, the only excuse not to go solar is lack of funds for the capital investment. Any other reason is (almost always) either ignorance of simply pissing money down the drain.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Tony61
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Ben,
      I’m new to AZ last year and we just moved into a house. I wonder all the time why more homes here don’t have solar panels– I guess the subsidies for fossil fuels are still higher than the tax benefits of solar panels.

      Any words of wisdom on getting some panels for my house. The utilities have programs to look into power usage and we are currently waiting to get 6 months of power bills to see how many panels to get.

      My impression, as you said, is to buy them outright. Are any brands better than others? Thanks.
      Tony61

      • Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        Three words: American Solar Electric, a Scottsdale-based company with offices in Tucson and Flagstaff that’s done more residential solar installations in Arizona than just about anybody else. Call them, ask to speak to Ben Peryea, and let him take it from there. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

        I should mention: there are two other options for those who don’t have the capital to invest in solar.

        First, there are companies who will install a solar system on your roof in exchange for becoming your electricity provider. You pay them less for your electricity than you would the utility company, but they still own the system. It’s not the best financial deal for homeowners, but it’s still far better than a sharp stick in the eye.

        Next, if you can get a bank loan with a lower interest rate than the effective rate of return on the solar system, you’ll still come out ahead. Considering a typical 10% ROI for solar and 5% HELOC rates, you can still make 5% by borrowing the money and considering the bank to be your electric utility company for the duration of the loan. Then, when you’ve paid off the loan, you get free power for life.

        I believe American Solar Electric has partnered with a bank to provide exactly that type of financing.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Tim
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Actually, you got an extra “//http” in that. It should be American Solar Electric.

        • Tony61
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          Thx, Ben.

          I appreciate the info and I’ll look into it. We met with three different providers who had the deal you described whereby they lease the panels on the roof for so many years and therefore they act as the electric provider. They said that the panels should provide approx 66% of the power and AZ Elec power (utility) would furnish the remainder.

          Theoretically you could generate more electricity than you use and sell power back to the grid, but that is not very efficient.

          As you say, it does seem more cost-effective in the long run to just buy the panels outright…as long as the maintenance and reliability are okay.

          Thanks again.
          Tony61

          • Posted July 13, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

            I’m going to guess that you meant to type, “Tucson Electric Power,” as that’s the name of the utility in Pima County, since I’m not aware of any utilities called, “Arizona Electric Power.” Assuming I’m right…I don’t know how they’ve got their incentives set up, but I’m guessing it’s much like SRP and APS, where they give you a rebate on the first n kW of capacity and you’re on your own for the rest. And you’re describing net metering at least similar to what SRP does: each kWh you generate is credited to your account and each kWh you use is debited. With SRP, you carry over excesses day to day and month to month. If you’ve got an excess at the end of the billing year (sometime in the spring), they pay you cash for the excess…but only at about 3¢/kWh, as opposed to the ¢10/kWh they charge.

            But don’t let that automatically discourage you from going with a large system. The return on investment will go from insanely great to merely astounding if you cover the remaining third of your usage, and who can argue with an investment that’s astounding?

            Also, is solar hot water included in the estimates you’ve gotten? If not, you’re golden, since your water heater probably accounts for about a third of your current usage, and the payback time on that is even better.

            If you can pay cash for the system, you’ll get the best deal that way since you don’t have to pay somebody to service the loan. Next best would be a low-interest loan, since you get to keep the panels when the loan is paid off and you’re only out the interest payments over what you would have paid with cash. Last is leasing the system…you lower your bills and do good for the environment, which is good, but you’re missing out on the insanely great investment.

            Cheers,

            b&

    • Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      We’ve looked at the cost of solar panels (too expensive) and solar water heaters (also too much, and can’t be used with our hard water) but we do have a solar oven – I do nearly all of my cooking in it for several months each year.

      Solar will not catch on in this country until it becomes affordable, standardized, and readily available everywhere. Until then it will just be a yuppie toy.

      What I really want is a solar forge. If we can just get the astronomers on Mt. Hopkins to let us use one of their mirror arrays, we’ll be in business!

      • Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        As I wrote, it certainly takes a non-trivial capital investment.

        But what you’re looking at, assuming you have the money at all, is not the total out-of-pocket cost — at least, not any more than you would care about the minimum required balance in your money market fund.

        Look at the rate of return.

        Even if it took you fifteen years to pay off the investment with savings on your electrical bill, that’s still a (roughly) 5% annual rate of return on your investment. And 5% is more than enough profit for banks to charge for a mortgage, why shouldn’t it be good enough for you to pay for your electricity?

        And I doubt that there are many places in the country where the combination of utility rebates, tax credits, and insolation is so bad that it’ll take fifteen years to pay back a solar installation.

        Also: modern solar water heaters don’t circulate potable water through the collectors. Instead, they use the exact same style of gas or electric tank heater you have now, except that one of the elements is replaced with a closed-loop glycol-based heat exchange system that pumps the antifreeze to the collectors and back. And that sort of a system will outlast your current water heater (there’ll be little, if any, wear and tear from the electric or gas backup elements), plus it’ll pay itself off significantly faster than the photovoltaics. It’s a lot more efficient and cheaper, after all, to let the Sun directly heat water than it is to turn light into electricity and then turn that electricity into heat….

        Cheers,

        b&

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      “Put solar panels on your roof.”

      Many of us don’t have roofs; we have upstairs neighbors. Retrofitting an urban highrise is a trickier proposition than simply putting panels on the roof.

      One could argue that single-family homes are part of the problem, since they contribute to urban sprawl. If you want to do something about that, move closer to town where you can walk or bike to work.

      Also, the continental US has the cheapest electricity in the world, and will therefore be the last place to convert to renewable energy. Look to Australia, Europe, and Hawaii to lead the way here.

      • Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        While it’s true that high-density housing doesn’t do too well on the person / watt comparison, there are a lot of buildings that aren’t even residential, let alone multi-family residential.

        And it’s not like you need to cover the whole roof just to supply enough power for a single home. For example, I only have panels on the south half of my roof, and there’s room there to fit half again as many panels as I have. Plus, I’ve got a patio that could fit at least as many panels as I have. If I truly wanted to cover my roof in solar panels, I could probably fit at least four times as many panels as I currently have on there.

        And I’m already generating half again as much electricity as I use. Or, I’m generating as much electricity as I use plus enough for a typical commuter to power a modern electric vehicle.

        And that’s just one very modest suburban home.

        Now, expand that to all of suburbia and it suddenly becomes a substantial net producer of green energy, rather than a significant sinkhole.

        Next, expand it to all those commercial buildings with their acres of flat rooftops just screaming to be turned into solar farms.

        Still need more? Turn all those parking lots into covered parking, with, of course, solar panels.

        I’d have to do the math, but I’m pretty sure doing just that much just in the US would more than amply meet the entire planet’s total energy budget, electricity and transportation and everything else combined. We’d be swimming in so much power that it wouldn’t be any problem to manufacture our own hydrocarbon fuels by the very energy-intensive process of extracting atmospheric carbon dioxide and turning it into syngas with the Fischer-Tropsch process.

        Of course, you’re right that the public subsidies given to the private power industry in the US means that there’s no realistic political path to achieving the fantasy I just outlined with any kind of expediency.

        Ah, well….

        b&

      • Gary W
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        One could argue that single-family homes are part of the problem, since they contribute to urban sprawl.

        One could argue that single-family homes, and low-rise, low-density urban development in general, is part of the solution, since it provides a much higher ratio of exposed roof area to building floor space/occupancy than high-rise, high-density urban development. So sprawl is much more conducive to renewable energy from rooftop solar panels.

        • Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          That’s true, but A) there are other problems associated with sprawl; and ii) there’s no shortage of roof space for solar, even hypothetically. On balance, we’re much better off with less sprawl, and even better off with negative population growth.

          In the mean time, using all those sprawling rooftops for solar makes a hell of a lot of sense….

          b&

          • Gary W
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

            there are other problems associated with sprawl

            Such as?

            there’s no shortage of roof space for solar, even hypothetically.

            This seems highly implausible for dense urban areas like New York City. I’d like to see your quantitative analysis showing that they have enough roof space.

            On balance, we’re much better off with less sprawl, and even better off with negative population growth.

            Again, how do you know this? Show me the analysis.

            • Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

              there are other problems associated with sprawl

              Such as?

              Loss of habitat would be at the top of the list. And today’s transportation infrastructure means that there’s an awful lot of pollution associated with the extra miles driven.

              there’s no shortage of roof space for solar, even hypothetically.

              This seems highly implausible for dense urban areas like New York City. I’d like to see your quantitative analysis showing that they have enough roof space.

              Even today, power is typically generated far from where it’s used. Except for my rooftop, most of my neighborhood’s power comes from a nuclear plant 70 miles away.

              I’m sure Manhattan will always be a net consumer of energy, but if the rest of the Eastern Seaboard (outside of downtown Boston and the like) is a net energy producer, what’s the problem?

              Here’s a great source for your quantitative analysis:

              http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/09/dont-be-a-pv-efficiency-snob/

              There’s this little gem that lines up nicely with my earlier handwaving:

              A typical location within the U.S. gets an annual average of 5 full-sun-equivalent hours per day. This means that the 1000 W/m² solar flux reaching the ground when the sun is straight overhead is effectively available for 5 hours each day. Each square meter of panel is therefore exposed to 5 kWh of solar energy per day. At 15% efficiency, our square meter captures and delivers 0.75 kWh of energy to the house. A typical American home uses 30 kWh of electricity per day, so we’d need 40 square meters of panels. This works out to 430 square feet, or about one sixth the typical American house’s roof (the roof area of a two-car garage).

              On balance, we’re much better off with less sprawl, and even better off with negative population growth.

              Again, how do you know this? Show me the analysis.

              Again, at least with today’s transportation infrastructure, sprawl is the biggest driver of our fastest-depleting non-renewable resource: liquid transportation fuels. And it’s the looming shortage of such that’s going to kick us in the head, hard, in the coming decades. As fast as we’ve historically ramped up our global consumption of petroleum, that’s as fast as it’s going to start running out. In 2100, we’ll be pumping oil at the same rate as we were in 1900, whether we like it or not.

              And, unless you think that overpopulation isn’t a problem, the advantages of negative population growth (which happens naturally in societies with a Western standard of living) should be obvious.

              b&

              • Gary W
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

                Loss of habitat would be at the top of the list.

                It seems rather implausible that this is a serious cost of sprawl. Only about 3% of the U.S. land area is urbanized at all. The rest is still rural. There are vast areas of undeveloped land suitable for development.

                And today’s transportation infrastructure means that there’s an awful lot of pollution associated with the extra miles driven.

                Again, this seems unlikely. Pollution is the concentration of contaminants in the environment. As such, pollution tends to increase with density. The more emitters of contaminants (people, cars, buses, trucks, offices, factories, etc.) per square mile of land, the higher the likely level of pollution. This is why uber-dense Manhattan, with 70,000 people per square mile, has one of highest concentrations of airborne carcinogens in the country.

                With respect to transportation specifically, cars have become enormously cleaner over the past few decades, and are on the verge of a dramatic revolution in energy efficiency. The average car today gets about 20 mpg. The Toyota Prius gets 50 mpg. The Nissan Leaf gets about 99 mpg-equivalent.

              • Gary W
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

                Ben Goren,

                I don’t think the numbers you cite support your claim that “there’s no shortage of roof space for solar, even hypothetically” in dense urban areas.

                1. Your calculation only applies to housing; not offices, stores, restaurants, factories and other commercial buildings that can be expected to consume much more power per square foot than housing.

                2. Taking your numbers at face value suggests that rooftop power generation potential would be exhausted at about 6-stories for residential buildings. But in dense urban areas many residential buildings are much taller than this. In New York, 30-story residential buildings are not uncommon.

                3. It seems implausible that your numbers can be taken at face value anyway. You say that the typical roof area of American houses is about 2,580 square feet (430*6). But what does that include? Is it just single-family houses? Or what? And most roofs are angled. The surface area of the roof is larger than the horizonal area it covers. Many or most of these angled roof surfaces are going to be in shade for much of the day and/or will receive a lower intensity of light because of their oblique angle to the sun. What does that do to your kWh/sq meter calculation?

              • Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

                I don’t think the numbers you cite support your claim that “there’s no shortage of roof space for solar, even hypothetically” in dense urban areas.

                Work the numbers however you want.

                Let’s take a worst-case scenario: that half of Americans live in skyscrapers that will never have solar panels on their roofs. Never mind that only a negligible fraction lives like that; we’ll assume fully half.

                All that does is mean that suburbia now needs to cover a third of their rooftops with panels instead of merely a sixth in order to cover residential power demands.

                Now, let’s assume that non-residential usage is twice that of residential usage, which might be about right. Cover the whole roof, and that’s taken care of.

                And we still haven’t put a single panel on a single warehouse or shopping mall or industrial plant or office building or parking lot or desert wildlife preserve or feedlots or anything else.

                Now, consider that the US is the 800-pound gorilla of energy consumption, and that suburbia alone is more than capable of meeting our own energy demands. Add in all the non-suburbia rooftops, and we’d easily provide enough for the whole rest of the planet.

                Cheers,

                b&

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

          There’s no rule that says solar panels have to go on rooftops. It’s quite possible to set up freestanding solar energy farms with no houses under them, and make more efficient use of the real estate in the process.

          Regardless of how the energy is collected, it costs more energy to provide water, food, waste disposal, and other services to geographically dispersed populations than to compact populations. Urban living enables economies of scale that suburban living does not.

          • Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

            Of course we can put solar panels places other than rooftops, but rooftops are perfect location for them and already the most efficient possible use of existing real estate.

            With rooftop solar, you’re actually adding physical protection to your roof; my solar panels would easily survive a hurricane with golfball-sized hail, while I doubt the rest of my asphalt shingle roof would (even though it’s brand new).

            With standalone solar farms, that land is useless for anything else, except maybe a parking lot. Can’t build on it without moving the solar to the rooftop. Can’t plant crops. And the natural habitat is destroyed — even if it’s open desert or grassland, the native plants need the sun as much as crops. Plus, it’s out in the middle of nowhere, so you’ve got to run long-distance transmission lines and it’s a pain to get to for maintenance.

            b&

          • Gary W
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            There’s no rule that says solar panels have to go on rooftops. It’s quite possible to set up freestanding solar energy farms with no houses under them

            Yes, but then you incur the cost of all the additional infrastructure and transmission losses involved in getting the power from the solar farm where it is generated to the homes and offices and factories that will consume it. Plus all the environmental, financial and regulatory obstacles to large-scale projects of this kind. Local rooftop solar power doesn’t face these kinds of problems. It can be expanded gradually through small, incremental investments and it provides immediate, visible benefits to consumers.

            it costs more energy to provide water, food, waste disposal, and other services to geographically dispersed populations than to compact populations.

            How do you know this? I can think of several reasons why providing water, food, waste disposal, etc. may cost more for dense urban forms than low-density ones.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

              All else being equal, it costs more to haul goods longer distances.

              • Gary W
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

                Yes, but all else is not equal. For example, road congestion tends to increase with density. So in dense urban areas motor vehicles will tend to spend more time stuck in traffic and burning gas. Shoppers in dense urban areas are less likely to shop by car. Meaning they’re limited to what they can carry or drag. Instead of being able to buy a week’s worth of groceries in a single trip, they may have to make several trips. So they end up traveling more miles for the same benefit. Delivering goods to stores may also consume more resources in dense urban environments, because they lack the economies of scale associated with the large delivery trucks and big box stores of suburban areas. And so on.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

                In my experience, people who live and work downtown are rarely stuck in traffic, because they rarely use their cars (if they even own one). The ones stuck in traffic are the suburban commuters.

                Urbanites shop every day, or every other day, and consider that a feature, because their food is always fresh. Shopping doesn’t add extra trips because they’re walking (or taking the bus) to and from work every day anyway.

                Your point about delivering goods to stores is valid, but I’d argue that’s a historical artifact of the way our cities have grown, and not an inherent problem with density per se. A properly designed transit system could mitigate that.

              • Gary W
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

                Well, whatever your experience, academic studies have found that road congestion tends to increase with population (and job) density. I don’t know why anyone would find this surprising. Manhattan is probably the clearest example. It’s congested not only because so many people live there, but because it has a huge concentration of jobs in a small area, so a huge number of workers must travel into and out of it every day. The result is gridlocked streets and overcrowded buses and subways.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

                Isn’t that what I’ve been arguing all along? That living in the suburbs while working downtown is the problem, not the solution?

                If Manhattan has many more jobs than residences, that’s again an artifact of the way the city has grown and not an inherent problem with density per se.

              • Gary W
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

                If you agree that it would be better for those jobs to move to the suburbs, great. This is in fact what has been happening in New York and all or most other large cities for a long time. Jobs are migrating to the suburbs just like people. The traditional hub-and-spoke commuting model, where lots of workers converge on a dense central business district is giving way to a much more dispersed model of intrasuburb and suburb-to-suburb commutes.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

                Here in Seattle it’s the other way round. The jobs have been mainly in the suburbs, but since the nightlife is concentrated in the city, that’s where young, single workers want to live. So we have traffic jams heading out of the city in the morning and into it in the evening. Even many of those who live and work on the Eastside come into the city at night for concerts or ball games.

                That’s starting to change now as several large employers (notably Amazon) have opted to build new facilities downtown near high-density residential neighborhoods. So more people are able to live, work, and play downtown. The city encourages this sort of mixed-used development in hopes of reducing regional traffic congestion.

              • Gary W
                Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

                I’ve seen this claim of a “back to the city” trend a lot from proponents of dense urbanism, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support it. According to the Census Bureau, the Seattle suburbs gained four times as many new residents between 2010 and 2011 as the city of Seattle. So the population distribution continues to change in favor of the suburbs.

  6. David T.
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Well they many no longer deny global warming just how much is caused by man… I used to be more for small government, but its pretty apparent that many corporations won’t take needed steps unless they’re requires.

  7. Greg G
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    We may find that the inconvenient truth is that Al Gore was an optimist.

    • RF
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      You don’t seriously think that sea levels will rise more than 7m in the near future, do you?

  8. Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Here is a crux problem for free thinkers:

    – The medical fact of no free will is established
    – Yet, free thinkers also get dumb about “education” and hoping/blaming conscious thought.

    Like Sam Harris agrees no free will but then blames conscious verbal statements about religion for violence. That makes no sense. Sam says: “Words matter.” The evidence is the opposite.

    So, in fact, there is no way to consciously control behaviors that are causing this looming disaster. Ind addition, it is so complex that understanding it, let alone remedial actions, let alone political work.

    The overpopulation, etc. tipping point is long past. However, we’ll all be dead when the worst is upon us.

    • Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Eh, that’s hardly even worng.

      Even though “free will” is an incoherent concept, we are still reflectively conscious decision-making agents. And, as such, we are able to control our thoughts and actions. Since those actions bring consequences, it behooves us to act in ways that we anticipate will bring about desirable consequences.

      And there’s a whole hell of a lot we can do. Time is short, yes, and, no, there is no guarantee of success.

      But, at one hypothetical extreme, it would be economically possible (though certainly not sociologically possible) to cover every building in the Western world with solar panels over the course of the next decade and to simultaneously replace all gasoline-powered vehicles with plug-in electric hybrids (such as the Volt). Doing so would roll back petrochemical consumption and its associated greenhouse gas emissions by at least a century, if not more — and, thereby, basically eliminate all our climate- and resource-related woes.

      Will that happen? No. Of course not. Not a chance.

      …but, it *could* quite reasonably happen over the course of a few decades, especially if we luck out in two ways: first, if the oil peak that we’re in the midst of turns out to be wide and squishy instead of short and steep; and, secondly, if people realize that, despite the higher up-front capital costs, solar is far cheaper over even a modest timeframe than any other energy source, and it’s far more plentiful and far less polluting than anything else there is.

      Even better, abundant energy brings with it the exact sort of Western middle-class lifestyle that results in a less-than-replacement-level birth rate.

      If we can get this one thing right sometime before we run our oil endowment dry, we’ll solve all our current pressing problems and pave the way for a true Heaven on Earth.

      Fuck it up, of course, and we’re toast.

      And reality may well be somewhere between…if we do successfully transition from an oil-based economy to a Sun-based one, I’d expect it to be a painful transition, with lots of strife and death and destruction along the way. The question is how much….

      b&

  9. raven
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    It’s clear we won’t do anything about global warming but adapt. It’s too late anyway.

    A for fun question is, what would it take for us to do anything but adapt.

    1. A few million dead people? No.

    2. Ten million dead people? Maybe but I doubt it.

    3. A hundred million dead people? Possibly.

    Climate change can and will kill. But it doesn’t happen all at once. A heat wave kills a 100,000 somewhere. A drought kills the crops and people starve. A typhoon hits a low lying area like Bangladesh and 200,000 die. A city like New Orleans gets trashed.

    There are always be natural disasters but they will become more frequent and more deadly. But this will be gradual over the centuries.

  10. Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Fact seems to be more people = fewer resources — including land. Expect warfare will make a comeback. Typical of resources bottlenecks in past.

    Can look at other species.

    That will be interesting. Most of us will be already dead.

  11. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    The unstated context is that we are experiencing a rare two La Nina back-to-back *cooling events*. Wait till it starts to get as hot as the trend line warrants…

    “We’ll adapt to that.”

    Sure, it’s in the news that species _are_adapting to GW. In a million years it may even be a more habitable (bioproductive) Earth.

    But the recent most thorough statistics shows that productivity (measured as diversity) goes any which way after a mass extinction, which most likely will face us. (IIRC at least some 20 % of species expected to go extinct.)

    And the more central problem is that it is *us* that must adapt. We will do it, but adaptation often means sacrifice. Who will be morally responsible? Not the privileged representative of a large industry.

  12. gnome
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Here’s some unrelated nonsense to debunk. I’m almost certain this is silly new age nonsense but I don’t have enough science background to say WHY.
    Jerry or anyone want to comment?

    http://www.cymascope.com/cyma_research/biology.html

  13. RF
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    This blog is quite odd. The title would suggest that the subject matter is evolution, but the most recent post on that subject is the fourth most recent one. In that post, WEIT posted a video in which Dawkins repeated entreated a woman to make a scholarly inquiry into the facts, rather than simply accepting what she is told. It was then followed by two cat posts, and then this. Besides this not involving evolution, except that belief in evolution and AGW are correlated (thus suggesting that this blog is more about general leftist ideology than specifically promoting evolution), it consists simply of a fact-free parade of talking heads (one of them repeated several times) edited together to convey a general tone without actually attempting any sort rational engagement with the viewer. Is there really so much difference between this sort of video, and what Dawkins railed against? And keep in mind that I am talking about the nature of the presentations, not the status of the propositions being promoted.

    • Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Ceci n’est pas un blog. And Jerry is more than welcome to post whatever the hell he wants whenever the hell he wants. If you don’t like the mix, there’re lots of other places on the ‘Net for you to occupy your time with.

      Which reminds me…Jerry, it’s been a while since you had a “guess the boot” contest….

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      You’re forgetting the first rule of blogging, which is that the blog exists to amuse the blogger, not the reader.

    • RF
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      And the comment section presumably exists for readers to express their opinion. My point was that this sort of thing reflects poorly on the anti-creationist movement; responses that attack the legitimacy of my expressing an opinion, rather than responding to that opinion, only underline my point.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        The comment section, like the rest of the site, exists for the amusement of our host. And he’s repeatedly made it clear that he’s not interested in complaints about his choice of content.

        Second rule of blogging: lurk for a while to get the feel of things before you post. Corollary: your first post should probably not be “Ur doin it rong.”

        • RF
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          Are you laboring under the impression that this is my first post? And I don’t see your point. If a blogger engages in behavior that I disagree with, I should lurk for a while to see whether criticism is welcome? How about this: if Coyne wishes to confine his comments section to sycophants who express nothing but fawning admiration for him, and viciously attack anyone who goes against the party line, he can set up a registration system. Until then, I will post whenever I wish to.

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

            If you think the comments here express nothing but fawning admiration for Jerry, then you obviously haven’t read any of the free will threads.

            Contrary opinions are welcome, so long as they’re civil and on topic. Complaints about the choice of topics are not welcome. (See rule #1 above.) Bitching about cat posts is an especially quick route to the doghouse. (Again, that’s something you’d know if you’d been here very long.)

            As far as vicious attacks go, you’ve been rather free in calling the rest of us “sycophants”, “hypocritical “, “wildly dishonest”, and so on. If a civil discussion is what you’re looking for, you’re not going to get it that way.

            • RF
              Posted July 15, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink

              “If you think the comments here express nothing but fawning admiration for Jerry”
              Does putting “if” in front of a strawman make it less dishonest?

              “Contrary opinions are welcome, so long as they’re civil and on topic.”
              Clearly, they are not welcomed by quite a few commenters.

              “Complaints about the choice of topics are not welcome. (See rule #1 above.) Bitching about cat posts is an especially quick route to the doghouse.”
              I did neither.

              “As far as vicious attacks go, you’ve been rather free in calling the rest of us “sycophants”, “hypocritical “, “wildly dishonest”, and so on.”
              Well, now, I never called anyone a sycophant, and everyone I’ve called hypocritical and wildly dishonest has, in fact, been hypocritical and wildly dishonest. If people don’t want to be called hypocritical and wildly dishonest, they shouldn’t be hypocritical and wildly dishonest, and I don’t see how it’s uncivil to call hypocritical and wildly dishonest people hypocritical and wildly dishonest uncivil; rather, I think that being hypocritical and wildly dishonest is uncivil.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted July 15, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

                By the rules Jerry has laid down, it’s uncivil to make personal attacks against anyone’s character, regardless of whether you think they deserve it. Refute their arguments if you can, but leave personalities out of it.

              • RF
                Posted July 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

                1. You seem to have posted the incorrect link.

                2. Having a blog means that Jerry can lay down rules for his blog, but it doesn’t mean he gets to define words.

                3. I can’t refute their arguments, because they have no arguments to refute.

                4. You wrote: “As far as vicious attacks go, you’ve been rather free in calling the rest of us “sycophants”, “hypocritical “, “wildly dishonest”, and so on. If a civil discussion is what you’re looking for, you’re not going to get it that way.”
                That looks rather like a personal attack to me. Furthermore, let’s look at the three phrases you quoted. I used the term “sycophants”, once, as a reductio ad absurdum, not as a personal attack. The only time I used the phrase “wildly dishonest” in this thread prior to your post was when I wrote “other commenters respond with vicious and wildly dishonest attacks”. The only time I used the word “hypocritical” in this thread prior to your post was when I said “It’s quite hypocritical for you to be accusing me of dishonesty”. So you claim I am “rather free” in using these terms, when in fact I used none of them more than once, you say that they are “personal attacks”, when they are characterizations of POSTS, not PEOPLE, and you say that they were directed at “the rest of us”, when none of them were directed at you. So I think I’ve shown quite clearly that your “argument” is a load of crap.

                5. Here are some quotes from other posters that actually ARE personal attacks:

                Ben Goren

                Do you not feel that there is anything unseemly about twisting the words of all those who are too rational to share your selfish Randite Libertarian insanity?

                Frankly, the lot of you are as much of a hopeless lost cause as the “Elvis is alive with a Martian two-headed child on the set that NASA used to fake the Moon landings!” crowd, and I could give fuck-all about your poor widdle feelings.

                And, as you’re so clearly one of the ignorant / religious fanatics / toadying sycophants, you can kindly go fuck yourself and please refrain from continuing to shit on the global carpet.

                Oh, goody. A concern troll.
                Why are you pissing on the carpet? Please stop pissing on the carpet. If you can’t control your bladder and you can’t be bothered to find yourself some diapers, do us all a flavor and go somewhere else.

                Tim
                Spare us the “concern troll” act.
                Unless you are personally ready to submit evidence to Science that blows the broadbased consensus out the water, then it is YOU who has demonstrated himself to be ideologically driven, 

                raven
                Michael says, I was actually asking serious questions. This means, I’m a troll in internetese.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted July 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

                “I don’t see how it’s uncivil to call hypocritical and wildly dishonest people hypocritical and wildly dishonest”

                That’s explicitly an attack on people, not posts.

                Sorry for the broken link; try this. (Unfortunately, there’s no preview feature here.)

      • Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        Why are you attacking the legitimacy of Ben expressing his opinion?

        I just love it when someone expresses their opinion then gets butt-hurt when someone else posts a contradicting opinion about their opinion and then call it an attack as if their opinion is somehow above reproach. Not to mention inflating this supposed insult to the level of damaging anti-creationism efforts worldwide.

        • RF
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          I’ve really had enough of people responding to my posts with blatant dishonesty, and I really don’t think there’s much point in responding to you, as you’re clearly not interested in a civil discussion.

          • Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

            That’s nice.

            Say, do you think you could refrain from leaving ass prints on the door as you leave? I just hate having to clean that shit up.

            b&

      • Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Oh, goody. A concern troll.

        Why are you pissing on the carpet? Please stop pissing on the carpet. If you can’t control your bladder and you can’t be bothered to find yourself some diapers, do us all a flavor and go somewhere else.

        b&

    • Tim
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      This particular video isn’t long on facts. However, I suggest that you watch ALL of Peter Sinclair’s Climate Crock of the Week videos before you mischaracterize his general approach as “fact free”.

      Beyond that, who asked you for your half-baked critique anyway?

      • RF
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        1. I never characterized his “general approach” as “fact free”. Why is it so hard for people to give an honest response to my posts?
        2. JAC chose this particular video to promote, which gives the impression that both he and Daily Kos are more interested in scare-mongering than substantive education.
        3. Who asked you for a critique of my critique?

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          “Who asked you for a critique of my critique?”

          You did:

          “responses that attack the legitimacy of my expressing an opinion, rather than responding to that opinion, only underline my point.”

          • RF
            Posted July 15, 2012 at 12:47 am | Permalink

            And does “Beyond that, who asked you for your half-baked critique anyway?” fall under the “attack the legitimacy of my expressing an opinion” category, or “responding to that opinion” category?

    • josh
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      WEIT is the name of a book by Jerry detailing our evidence and understanding of evolution for a popular audience. It is also the name of a blog-like website run by Prof. Coyne. He posts on topics of interest to himself, including biology, religion, philosophy, cats, food and mens’ boots. This shouldn’t be terribly confusing to anyone with five minutes experience of the internet.

      The video is not a complete scholarly explanation of Global Warming and its consequences, it is an illustration of the ongoing fact of some of those consequences and the casual dismissal of them by some parties. It is not fact-free; the record temperatures really are record temperatures, the increase in storm related damage is real. They are not talking heads, Kevin Trenberth is head of the Climate Analysis Section at the USA National Center for Atmospheric Research, i.e. an expert on climate change representing an organization of experts. Rational engagement with this video is to say “Yeah, that looks pretty serious and it lines up with the general consensus of experts. There are many resources available if I want to go learn more details, but this reminds me of the importance of this issue and the need to take action about it.”

      • RF
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        We have a video that consists of a bunch data presented in a way to suggest particular conclusions without any rigorous examination of whether it does so, and which are in many cases contrary to fact (there is no scientific consensus that hurricanes are due to AGW), and a comment thread that has segued into a I-hate-rich-people-and-I’m-going-to-completely-misrepresent-their-comments-as-saying-they-don’t-care-if-billions-of-people-die rant, and when I complain about it, other commenters respond with vicious and wildly dishonest attacks. On top of this, the most famous documentary on global warming is full of BS like the claim that there will be 20 ft of sea rise “in the near future”. You really don’t see how this reflects poorly on AGW?

    • Joe
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      What are you on about when you suggest that this blog mentioning a video about AGW is proof of it being more “about general leftist ideology than specifically promoting evolution”? Are you seriously su
      ggesting that if you accept the evidence that rising temperature due to high CO2 levels released by the burning of fossil fuel you are automatically left wing? Dismissing AGW as general leftist ideology makes you sound like Andy Sclafly of Conservapedia.

      You can still be conservative and accept the scientific consensus on AGW just the same as you can still be conservative and accept evolution. Accepting the vast mountains of evidence for AGW does not make you vote democrat. Politics should be irrelevant when it comes to looking at the evidence.

      • RF
        Posted July 15, 2012 at 1:35 am | Permalink

        “What are you on about when you suggest that this blog mentioning a video about AGW is proof of it being more “about general leftist ideology than specifically promoting evolution”?”
        I never said that. My point is that if a person conflates evolution and AGW, that has a nonzero Bayesian effect on the hypothesis that the person is engaging in groupthink.

  14. Michael
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m little surprised to see this touted by you, Dr. Coyne. It’s very short on facts and pure propaganda. There is nothing scientific or intelligent about it. Don’t you have more faith in your readership?

    • bad Jim
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      Professor Coyne has every reason to be confident that his readers are up-to-date on most matters of a scientific sort. Climate change is no more a matter of controversy than evolution and needn’t be daily argued anew.

      • Tim
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Precisely.

        • Michael
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

          There are two issues. Climate change and what causes it. Climate change is measurable, though the data is open to some interpretation. Assuming that it is a fact that the Earth is warming up, is the cause of the change really as settled scientifically as evolution? Is there no legitimate disagreement in the scientific community on this issue?

          • raven
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

            Assuming that it is a fact that the Earth is warming up, is the cause of the change really as settled scientifically as evolution?

            Yes.

            Is there no legitimate disagreement in the scientific community on this issue?

            No.

            A recent survey found that 97% of climate scientists accept AGW. It can’t get much more blatant than that.

            The physics on this was known well over a century ago. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

            But don’t worry Michael. No one is going to take the keys to your SUV away. We aren’t going to do anything about climate change but adapt.

            It’s too late for anything and probably we couldn’t anyway. Our whole civilzation runs on fossil fuels and our civilization simply can’t change as fast as the climate can.

      • RF
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        If one interprets “Must Watch” as “my readers should watch”, then you have a point. But I think that the most reasonable interpretation of the phrase is “Everyone should see this”. Climate change is a controversy among the general public, and responding to the criticism of “You aren’t presenting any rational argument in support of your position” with “Well, you should already be aware of the evidence for my position, so you’re obviously a moron and you should not be treated as a serious adult” isn’t going to convince anyone.

        • Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          AGW is no more controversial in the scientific community than the 4½ billion year age of the earth. It’s only a “controversy” amongst those who (should have) flunked sixth-grade science classes and / or those who are infested with religious fantasies about an imminent zombie invasion and / or those who’re stealing vast sums of public wealth by driving the controversy in order to support their efforts to rape and pillage their way to greater personal wealth.

          And, as you’re so clearly one of the ignorant / religious fanatics / toadying sycophants, you can kindly go fuck yourself and please refrain from continuing to shit on the global carpet.

          b&

        • Tim
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          You don’t get it – we don’t give a damn about convincing you. People who deny AGW are at this point indistinguishable, insofar as the quality of their arguments are concerned, from creationists. All their arguments have been refuted; there no viable alternative hypotheses from global warming left – period. There is nothing left but these bullshit claims of “controversy”. Spare us the “concern troll” act.

          Unless you are personally ready to submit evidence to Science that blows the broadbased consensus out the water, then it is YOU who has demonstrated himself to be ideologically driven, because as far as science is concerned, the case has been made to the satisfaction of every significant scientific society on Earth. AGW deniers basically deserve the same rude reply as creationists: shut up and go away.

          • RF
            Posted July 15, 2012 at 1:10 am | Permalink

            “You don’t get it – we don’t give a damn about convincing you.”
            Clearly I DO get it, because that you have no interest in actually engaging in rational discussion is EXACTLY what I’ve been saying.

            “People who deny AGW are at this point indistinguishable, insofar as the quality of their arguments are concerned, from creationists.”
            You are clearly implying that I am denying AGW, when I have done no such thing.

            “Spare us the “concern troll” act.”
            One of the Urban Dictionary’s definition of “concern troll” is:

            >>In a situation where there exists mutually exclusive positions A and B, a concern troll is someone who supports A but professes to support B around genuine supporters of B. However, they express their “concerns” about aspects of position B in order to sow doubt and uncertainty amongst genuine supporters of B.

            >>Whilst this does genuinely happen, the term is used by some paranoid people to effectively mean “anyone who does not agree entirely with the standard dogma of position B, thus must actually covertly support position A”, when said person does actually support B, just only 99%.

            >>Thus: disagreeing *at all* with the standard dogma of B will get you branded by such people as The Enemy, and you will get generally treated with hostility and suspicion and, at worst, forcibly ejected from the B-supporter group. Result: everyone stops thinking about the issues, and discussion descends into not arriving at logical and interesting places but who can most furiously support B.
            1: “All Democrats should be hanged, drawn and quartered! Grrgrrrgrrrgr!”
            2: “Uh.. that’s a bit excessive. I mean, I don’t agree with the Democrats, but maybe we shouldn’t actually, like, KILL them..”
            1: “CONCERN TROLL! CLEARLY YOU ARE 100% DEMOCRAT! BEGONE, SINNER!”
            (everyone flings rotten fruit at 2 until he leaves)

            “Unless you are personally ready to submit evidence to Science that blows the broadbased consensus out the water, then it is YOU who has demonstrated himself to be ideologically driven,”
            That’s sort of like a strawman argument, except you don’t even have the decency to explicitly present your strawman before lighting it on fire.

            “AGW deniers basically deserve the same rude reply as creationists: shut up and go away.”
            The issue isn’t AGW deniers, but AGW skeptics.

            • Tim
              Posted July 15, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

              All of which is to say that you don’t have any evidence to present that can stand up to scrutiny and peer review. No big paper coming out? And, it would appear, there’s nothing to be expected of your fellow “skeptics”. Perhaps that is why the real scientists don’t take you seriously and why you’re called a troll.

              • RF
                Posted July 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

                You want me to present a paper for peer review proving that you are not interested in rational discussion? Or is there some other claim that I’ve made for which you are asking for a paper?

  15. Michael
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Raven, you’re very “religious” about this issue! Not sure what survey you’re referring to, but there ARE significant numbers of climatologists who still question AGW.

    • bad Jim
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      What “significant numbers” are you talking about? For that matter, do you dispute that temperatures are rising, that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing, or that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas?

      Perhaps you think that nearly all scientists – not just the experts in the field, but members of every major national and international association – are either deluded or involved in a vast conspiracy. If you consider that the only other scientific consensus that provokes a comparable reaction is evolution, you might understand why we’re impatient with you.

  16. Michael
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    I was actually asking serious questions. But you guys just need to jump on anyone who doesn’t immediately line up to your group-think. Raven talked about a “survey” but didn’t link to it. I’ve seen petitions signed by 100’s of scientists, but I realize that could be erroneous. Even if, as you say, AGW is a fact, the choices about what to do about it aren’t as clear.

    Regarding the SUV attack on me personally. I’m pretty environmentally friendly. I own one car, almost all my hot water is solar heated, I only have CFC and LEDs in my house, the water for my showers is on for less than a minute. I doubt many of the big shots commenting here come close to that.

    • raven
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Michael says, I was actually asking serious questions. This means, I’m a troll in internetese.

      troll:

      Raven talked about a “survey” but didn’t link to it.

      I’m not your search engine, google is. Why waste time on a troll?

      New Poll: 97% of Climate Scientists Think Planet Warming Caused …
      ww.polarbearsinternational.org › News

      A survey published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a whopping 97 percent of climate experts agree that global warming is …

      • raven
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        For anyone who cares and future reference, here is a longer summary of the survey, which was published in PNAS, a prestigious front line journal.

        This doesn’t include Michael who has been reduced to whining about how we are persecuting him. He’s both concern trolling and tone trolling.

        polarbearinternational.org:

        New Poll: 97% of Climate Scientists Think Planet Warming Caused by Humans
        Do climate scientists disagree about global warming? Nope. A survey published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a whopping 97 percent of climate experts agree that global warming is “very likely” mainly caused by human activity.

        Of the 1,372 scientists surveyed, nearly all agreed that it is “very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for most of the unequivocal warming of the Earth’s average global temperature in the second half of the twentieth century.”

        The study found that the three percent of scientists who disagreed with the statement lagged in expertise when compared with their colleagues, based on publication and citation rates.

        USA Today has created an interactive graphic that shows how global warming occurs.

      • raven
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        FYI PNAS

        Expert credibility in climate change
        William R. L. Anderegg a , 1 , James W. Prall b , Jacob Harold c , and Stephen H. Schneider a , d , 1
        + Author Affiliations

        aDepartment of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;
        bElectrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3G4;
        c William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Palo Alto, CA 94025; and
        dWoods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305
        Contributed by Stephen H. Schneider, April 9, 2010 (sent for review December 22, 2009)

        Abstract
        Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions.

        Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

      • RF
        Posted July 15, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

        “Michael says, I was actually asking serious questions. This means, I’m a troll in internetese.”
        In other words “anyone who dares disagree with me is a troll”.

  17. Ludo
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    So many religious zealots are in denial of climate change. In my eyes that is really astonishing. Does not climate change provides them with a wonderful theme for sermonizing? Wow! This is the punishment of God – the beginning of the end! Repent before you perish by water, fire, hurricanes or a defective airconditioner! Wow!


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  1. [...] Excellent video on global warming / anthropogenic climate change. Not too long to use up a whole class period, but a good way to start discussion. [...]

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