Hard Words from David Attenborough


Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of our civilizations and the natural world on which they depend – is in your hands.

I would have gone with something homier: “Get your act together because we will either all hang separately or together. Your power-games now end in death for us all. This shit is serious and I am very unhappy that the world’s response is in your grubby little incompetent hands.”

Elsewhere I am hearing sober and credible talk that we’re going to likely blow right past a 5C temperature rise, which puts us in Permian Extinction territory. Of course we will. At the time when we should be passing global moratoria on fossil fuel consumption, the world’s biggest energy users (the US and China) are eagerly eyeing drilling in Alaska and elsewhere.

The event in Poland was sponsored by a coal mining company. [guard]

Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, spoke at the opening ceremony, saying the use of “efficient” coal technology was not contradictory to taking climate action. Poland generates 80% of its electricity from coal but has cut its carbon emissions by 30% since 1988 through better energy efficiency.

As China continues to industrialize and its people continue to demand the benefits of advanced technology, use of coal and oil will accelerate. The leaders of the world have no plans to take their foot off the gas, it’s “pedal to the metal” all the way.

The former head of IPCC is sober and credible: [cw]

Speaking at a symposium at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Watson said: “All the promises in the world, which we’re not likely to realize anyway, will not give us a world with only a 2°C rise. All the evidence, in my opinion, suggests we’re on our way to a 3°C to 5°C world.

3C is collapse of civilization, agriculture, and massive migration for survival. 5C means humans become isolated tribes, struggling along in a dystopian fuckworld. Mad Max is not a documentary, because nobody will have the emotional energy (or the oxygen) to fight like that. This is not distant future: it’s within the next 50 years.

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I have added a new category, “We are Fucked” for postings.

The problem with things like “we made it 30% more efficient” is that China’s demands are going to be so massive, small improvements won’t offset it at all. “Look, that freight train that is going to roll over us at 100mph? I took some of the load off so it won’t hit quite as hard.” True, but wrong.

Comments

  1. Raucous Indignation says

    Use of coal in China has drastically decelerated. They’ve cancelled orders for more than a hundred new coal fired power plants. The cost of new solar and wind is now less than that of running and maintaining a coal fired power plant, never mind building a new one. Most of the EU is rapidly transitioning to renewables. I have no idea what’s going on in Poland. All the advertisements in the world aren’t going to make coal cost effective or efficient.

    The US is a bigger problem than China.

  2. Dunc says

    The US is a bigger problem than China.

    It’s very important to remember that the US is the problem with China, or at least a very big part of it. We have decided to account for carbon emissions at source, rather than at the point of effective end use, so the emissions for all of the manufacturing that’s been off-shored become “their” problem, even though we’re the ones getting the goods. (I don’t honestly know where the emissions for international shipping get accounted for – there’s a good chance they fall through the cracks, like aviation emissions do.) Most of the reductions in “carbon intensity” (basically emissions over GDP) in the developed world are the result of these sorts of accounting tricks.

    It’s also important to remember that the population of China is 1.4 billion, whilst the population of the US less than a quarter of that.

    One thing I’m not currently seeing mentioned in discussions of how to get people to stop using fossil fuels: hasn’t anybody noticed that the French are currently rioting over fuel taxes? That’s a picnic compared to the sort of trouble you’ll see in any realistic scenario that gets us to zero emissions in the foreseeable future.

  3. lochaber says

    I’ve never really been interested in offspring, but, holy fuck, I’ve never been so glad to have not reproduced.

  4. says

    lochaber@#3:
    I’ve never really been interested in offspring, but, holy fuck, I’ve never been so glad to have not reproduced.

    Me too. I assumed I’d have to watch them die in a nuclear war.

    Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To know that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.

    – Robert Frost

  5. bmiller says

    Not JUST the United States. Almost all of the “advanced” economies, even Japan, have off-shored their industry to low cost (and advanced) manufacturing workforces in China and, increasingly, Vietnam and Myanmar.

    Example: High End Italian racing bicycles. There are some traditionalists, for sure, but the biggest names (Bianchi and Pinarello and Colnago) all rely on Asian manufacturing.

  6. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Let me try a different tactic. Rather than arguign facts, let me argue from authority.

    Green energy and current battery storage is a hoax, perpetuated by the liars and fools of the green energy movement. The green energy movement relies on liars and frauds like Mark Jacobson. The nuclear energy side relies on real, respectable scientists. People on the green energy side – you have been lied to.

    Listen to James, former head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA for many decades. He is arguably the most famous climate scientist because he was at the forefront of warning the public about global warming. James Hansen quit NASA to work fulltime to fight climate change. This is what he has to say regarding the green energy movement.

    https://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/jim-hansen-presses-the-climate-case-for-nuclear-energy/

    Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

    Several prominent scientists join Hansen in this open letter to the big environmentalist organizations:

    https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2014/10/11/james-hansen-climate-change-speaking-truth-power/17118625/

    Nuclear power is a ‘must’ for U.S.

    Today, except for limited hydroelectric and biomass power plants, there are two options for baseload electricity: fossil fuels and nuclear power. We will not be able to phase out fossil fuel power plants without major contributions from nuclear power.

    […]

    It is not always easy to speak truth to power, but all citizens have the opportunity if they choose. I have one minor, easy suggestion for you to consider, and another requiring more effort.

    The first concerns “Big Green,” the large environmental organizations, which have become one of the biggest obstacles to solving the climate problem. After I joined other scientists in requesting the leaders of Big Green to reconsider their adamant opposition to nuclear power, and was rebuffed, I learned from discussions with them the major reason: They feared losing donor support. Money, it seems, is the language they understand. Thus my suggestion: The next time you receive a donation request, doubtless accompanied with a photo of a cuddly bear or the like, toss it in the waste bin and return a note saying that you will consider a donation in the future, if they objectively evaluate the best interests of young people and nature.

    We can look at larger numbers of prominent scientists in climate science, and this is what we see:

    http://sparkoffreedomfoundation.org/2018/01/17/climate-scientists-support-oppose-nuclear-power-reduce-emissions/

    As demonstrated above, of the 35 prominent scientists in this assessment, 21 have not weighed in on the issue of nuclear power.

    However, of the 14 who have expressed public opinions about nuclear power as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nine strongly support nuclear power, two strongly oppose it, and three have not expressed strong positions either way. This is generally consistent with the sentiment of scientists as a whole, as shown by the AAAS survey, though the sample size among climate-specific scientists is small.

    This is the AAAS study which is cited above:
    http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/

    But when it comes to nuclear power, the gap runs in the opposite direction. Forty-five percent of citizens favor building more nuclear power plants, while 65% of AAAS scientists favor this idea.

    Also:

    https://cna.ca/news/scientists-and-environmentalists-come-out-in-favour-of-nuclear-power/

    Many scientists are backing their position. Perhaps the best-known of these proponents is Dr. James Hansen, Columbia professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In 2013, Hansen and three other scientists penned an open letter to those opposed to nuclear power and influencing environmental policy to reconsider their position. Dr. Hansen also released a video explaining the environmental advantages of modern nuclear power plant design.

    A much broader supporting letter came out a year later. Two Australian scientists, Professor Barry Brook, Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania and Professor Corey Bradshaw, Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change at the University of Adelaide, wrote An Open Letter to Environmentalists on Nuclear Energy, signed by 75 leading environmental scientists in six continents.

    The open letter:
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2014/12/15/an-open-letter-to-environmentalists-on-nuclear-energy/

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