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Mark Cochrane: Climate Change, Revisited

The latest on what science has to say
Sunday, November 27, 2016, 4:27 PM

Mark Cochrane, Professor and Senior Research Scientist at the Geospatial Science Center of Excellence at South Dakota State University, returns to the podcast after a year and a half to update us on what the latest science has to tell us on the (often controversial) topic of climate change.

Mark has been researching the climate for over 20 years, and among his many other accomplishments, moderates what we believe to be the most level-headed, open-minded and data-centric discussion forum on climate change available on the Internet today.

In this week's podcast, Mark updates us on the latest empirical data, separates out what science can and cannot prove today regarding climate change, and provides clarity into closely-related but less well-understood issues, such as ocean acidification:

Ocean acidity levels have gone up by 30 percent in recent decades. It is off the charts compared to the previous baseline of millions of years in terms of the rapidity of this. Have we had really high acid levels before? Yeah, but that was many millions of years ago. It didn't happen over night they way it is now.

What we have is all of the organisms that rely on calcium or calcium carbonate shells, whether it's their external shells or internal systems, they are under increasing amounts of stress, having a harder and harder time making those calcium-based structures.

In a lot of places, we're already losing things. In the coastal areas they're is a lot of carbon that was actually buried back in the '50s and '60s that is now simply of washing ashore in those regions. That is not even as bad as it is going to be. There is an increasing amount of studies looking at this in various ways to try to get a handle on what is happening now. There is just a study out yesterday showing how they can actually look at what the concentrations are going to be like by 2100. See how things will respond. They took some coral. They put them there and just monitored how they responded. It was not just a question of them resolving or having a harder time to grow. They will fight the tide so to speak. They will keep trying. But they are stressed. What they are finding is that they get these worms that start riddling through it; and actually eating it, and not just dissolving it. It is kind of a double whammy for a lot of these systems.

So we know it's ongoing. We can measure it. We can see it. The question is trying to infer what will occur because of it? Now, we know we are losing the base of a lot of food chain items. Therefore, it's harder and harder for other things that are not directly impacted to feed. We also have a variety of other things going on for the coral reefs between the heating causing bleaching, people blowing them up, fishing and other human-based efforts.

Right there, we are losing the food source for about a half a billion people.

This will take time to play out. But it's a major concern right now. It's one that's not on many people's radar because it's the ocean: it's far away and vast. It's been around for a long time.

Well, life will go on. It will just not be the sort of life that we're used to.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mark Cochrane(48m:12s).

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host Chris Martenson. It is November 23, 2016. Donald Trump is the new president-elect. At the time of this recording, he has not yet been sworn in. But people are fearing lots of things about him and his possible actions; and among those are his views and actions on climate change.

One positive so far from the Trump election is that both sides of the cultural divide in America have suddenly discovered the importance of talking with each other; and not to persuade the other side necessarily, but to at least know what the other side is thinking. One area of great divide in the U.S. at present, at least in the political class, is the area of climate change science. Now, as with any complicated and emerging field of science, there are of course, competing and sometimes conflicting theories, models, ideas.

This interview with climate scientist Dr. Mark Cochrane is being recorded with the intention of specifically airing both the knowns and the unknowns. Most importantly, what can we expect in this next political era. What do we know for sure? What are the unknowns? Where is there agreement? Where is there still legitimate room for debate and additional discovery? Where has the science settled?

As many of you know, Dr. Cochrane conducts climate change related research in the United States, in Australia, Brazil, and Indonesia that explores how climate change is affecting the characteristics and impacts of wildfires on ecosystems and human societies. He is Professor and Senior Research Scientist at the Geospatial Science Center of Excellence at South Dakota State University. He holds a doctoral degree in Ecology from Penn State; and a Bachelor's in Environmental Engineering from MIT. Mark's earth systems science – excuse me – research focuses on understanding the spatial patterns, interactions, and synergisms between multiple, physical, and biological factors that affect ecosystems.

He is our guy. He knows climate science. He has been hosting, as it were, the largest, and longest running climate thread that we have got at Peak Prosperity. It is absolutely a treasure trove of reasoned discourse, and reasoned debate, good hard science, and letting the facts fall. It just a fantastic thread. I would invite you to go look at that, if you have a chance. Mark, welcome.

Mark Cochrane: Hi, thank you. It is good to be back.

Chris Martenson: It is great to have you back. Now, so let us imagine. We have got some listeners who are really on the fence about climate change. Let us start right at the beginning and very quickly. What do we know for sure about climate change at this point?

Mark Cochrane: Well, we know for sure it is ongoing. We know for sure that we have a good part to play in it. What we do not know is exactly how fast it is going to proceed. What the actual impacts will end up being? Or, how we can respond?

Chris Martenson: Alright. Now, within those knowns, something that I have focused on a lot, too, because this seems really straightforward – is chemistry. Chemistry is pretty easy to understand; in particular the chemistry of having carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Some of that carbon dioxide then is dissolved back into ocean water. A little chemistry happens. It creates carbonic acid. Uh-oh, we have ocean acidification. Is that relatively settled at this point in your mind as part of the story?

Mark Cochrane: It is settled to anybody who actually understands anything about how these things work. That should be pretty much everybody here. Because it is the same thing that goes on in a bottle of beer or soda. The increase of the partial pressure of CO2 above it in that atmosphere. It gets forced into the liquid. That is the same thing we are doing with the ocean systems right now.

Chris Martenson: Now, in those ocean systems of course, this is reasonably easy to measure. pH, is one of the easiest measurements ever; and not a lot of complicated equipment involved. From my perspective, we have had lots of reports of oyster farmers on both coasts of the United States; in Washington State, and Puget Sound, and also up in the Gulf of Maine where they are saying there are the oyster fry. The larvae are not developing, because their shells are dissolving. To me, again is this – do oceans normally fluctuate in pH? Or, is this for sure something we can say this is one of the ongoing effects as you have described it?

Mark Cochrane: Yes. This is definitely one of the ongoing effects. I mean, acidity levels have gone up by 30 percent in recent decades. It is off the charts for millions of years in terms of the rapidity of this. Have we had really high acid levels before? Yeah, but that was many millions of years ago. It did not happen overnight.

Yeah, what we have is all of the organisms that rely on calcium or calcium carbonate shells – are going to be under increasing amounts of stress as they effectively dissolve all of their…. Whether there are external shells or even internal systems; they are having a harder and harder time making those structures.

Yeah, a lot of places, we are already losing things. This is along the coast where you are talking about. That is a lot of carbon that was actually buried back in the '50s and '60s that is kind of washing up in those regions. That is not even as bad as it is going to be. There is an increasing amount of studies looking at this in various ways to try to get a handle on what is happening now. There is just a study out yesterday showing – they were looking in Papua New Guinea in these areas where they have a certain amount of carbon that bubbles up from the ocean.

They can actually look at what the concentrations are going to be like say, in 2100. See how things will respond. They took some coral. They put them there and just monitored how they responded. It was not just a question of them resolving or having a harder time to grow. They will fight the tide so to speak. They will keep trying. But they are stressed. What they are finding is that they get these worms that start riddling through it; and actually eating it, and not just dissolving it. It is kind of a double whammy for a lot of these systems.

Chris Martenson: Yes, stressed organisms tend not to have a lot of defenses; myself included.

Mark Cochrane: Yes. All of us, we all know this. I think so.

Chris Martenson: I know we focus on oysters because people like to eat them. But clearly, the ocean is a complex ecosystem and lots of food webs. I have been reading about people who do study other things; certain type of benthic snails, and other little variety of things floating around again. Many of them with these calcium carbonate shells. They are not doing well. We have lost of a lot of phytoplankton as a broad classification, and a lot of zooplankton. There are just general stresses on the oceans at this point.

It seems to be that hiking your acidity by 30 percent has something to do with that in many of these cases. But of course, these are complex food webs. You can knock out one organism with a slightly elevated or even massively elevated acidity. But other organisms are going to be impacted by that who may not have a direct impact. What is the extent to which we understand that this is now happening?

Mark Cochrane: Well, we know it is ongoing. We can measure it. We can see it. The question is trying to infer what will occur because of it? Now, we know we are losing the base of a lot of food chain items. Therefore, it is harder and harder for other things that are not directly impacted to feed. We also have a variety of other things going on for the coral reefs between the heating causing bleaching, people blowing them up and fishing and efforts.

Right there, we are losing the food source for about a half a billion people. We have these ongoing things. But again, we know it is bad. But we have not been here before. We can try to project. But we really do not know how it is going to play out. There will be winners and losers as always. Right now, the only winners we know of are seagrasses and jellyfish. They will do just fine. But everything else is a question.

It will take time to play out, but is a major concern right now. It is one that is not on many people's radar. Because it is the ocean. It is far away. It is a big thing. It has been around for a long time. Life will go on. It will just not be the life that we are used to.

Chris Martenson: Exactly, so let us talk now. I want to get some of the points of disagreement quickly just to get the framing up front, so we can have the rest of the conversation here.

Mark Cochrane: I got you.

Chris Martenson: The process is not in dispute. The process that humans burn things. More carbon dioxide ends up in the atmosphere, not disputed, great. Some of that carbon dioxide, it goes. It is a process, it ends up in the ocean. It creates a higher levels or greater acidity. It has a lower pH; and a higher or lower, tricky numbers to use with pH, but a greater acidity.

We know that carbon dioxide as a, as a molecule, it traps heat because of its characteristics, its physical characteristics. None of that is in dispute. What seems to be in dispute is what are those impacts going to be? Where do we have these points of disagreement? I know we have got models that are all over the place as obviously, very complex models.

I could see disagreements all of the time around the temperature, and actual reading. Some people throwing stuff up and saying, this satellite says there is no heating. Wait, this says there are tons. Talk to us about really that next layer of what we can really wrap our arms around at this point.

Mark Cochrane: Okay. Yeah. I would dispute that the models are all over the place. They are all at one side. They are just a question of how far on that side. The disputes that you raise there are the same ones we have been dealing with at times up to 50 years. They have been debunked over and over. But it is like the goldfish who went around the bowl for a new experience every time.

Mark Cochrane: But yeah, so we have been dealing with the same stories over and over again. It does not matter how many times you can show it is not the case. It will be trotted out again two months later as if it were a new thing. All of the questions of whether or not the measurements are showing what we think they are showing. You either have debates of they are placing the thermometers near parking lots or something like that. It has all been proven again and again that no.

They are actually well placed. They show what is going on. Or, the one that is classically used by Dr. Roy Spencer and then fans of his is the UAH satellite sensor; which yeah, it is a bit lower. But why is it a bit lower? It is because it is measuring the temperature in the upper troposphere. It is kind of like, if you were standing on Mount Everest. We do not live in Mount Everest. It is cooler up in the mountains.

Anybody who goes up and down mountains knows it is cooler there. But it is still rising there as well. So, what they do is they say hey. We are comparing there to these other ones that are measuring the temperature on the ground; and saying, hey. It is not as high as you say it is. It is because you are not measuring the same thing. I mean, all of the – I do not know how many others that are used?

Chris Martenson: Well, how about the extent of the ice, surface ice?

Mark Cochrane: Yeah. I mean, the only people who dispute this are people who have never actually gone there for one. You can show this whether it is through pictures or satellites or personal experience. These are melting and melting at a faster and faster rate. The biggest concern we have, for me at least right now, is ever since about 2014. We have known that the West Antarctic ice sheet, which has about four or five years’ worth of sea level is collapsing as we speak. It cannot be stopped at this point.

The only question is will it take decades, centuries, or a millennium to happen? We cannot stop this. We have got Greenland melting at unprecedented rates. Even part of East Antarctic are coming off. Or, if you look at the floating ice up in the Arctic, we can show this year after year. It is lower and lower. It never recovers to the levels it was at. Just I think two or three days ago, we had temperatures that were 30 degrees above normal at the North Pole.

It is not a real question. I mean, people can say, well, no, it is not happening. But they do not have any evidence. That is the thing that gets me. There is no other model. There is no competing model or theory. There is only people who were saying; "No, it is not." It is like the Monty Python skit for arguing. You cannot reason with that. We can show again and again.

I think reasonable people have come around for the most part. I do not find the same level of dispute like when I started the thread. Or, when I started doing things in my local paper here. I live in a red state. But I find that if you actually reasonably talk to people, and do not resort to name calling. Most people will go, really. You show the evidence. Most people really would be evidenced-based, if they could be presented with any.

But, there are a whole host of people out there who do not want you to look at evidence or really consider things. Everything becomes a political argument or an ideological argument. But that is not what we see around the world. I think in the last few years, it has really toned down quite a bit. I think the denial if you will is retrenching to – yeah, it is happening. But it is not as bad as you think.

Chris Martenson: Well, now let me talk about that for a second. Because there was a headline that just caught my attention. It was on November 11th. It came out in a U.K. paper. I will just read the headline, and the first three sentences. The headline is, "Climate change may be escalating so fast, it could be game over, scientist warned." I think the body of the article reads, new research by an international team of experts who looked into how the earth's climate has reacted over nearly 800,000 year.

It warns this could be a major underestimate. Because they believe the climate is more sensitive to greenhouse gasses when it is warmer. In a paper in the Journal of Science Advances, they said the actual range could be between 4.8 degrees Celsius to 7.4 degrees Celsius by 2100, based on one set of calculations. I am sure you are familiar with it. First, would you concur with that? Would we ever – ? What does it mean based on one set of calculations?

Mark Cochrane: Okay. I mean, these numbers have actually been out there. What we see, for example. We will see things from the IPCC or other sources saying that we are going to rise by whether it is two, or three, or four degrees Celsius. These models are run again and again under different scenarios and different assumptions. There are already are scenarios out there saying that we could warm by six or seven. But the chance of that happening?

There is only maybe or four or five percent, which still is pretty large in my book. But they are not…. What we do is we tend to report what sounds more reasonable. What is more statistically likely. Are there possibilities for that to happen? Yes. Are they likely? Probably not simply because the main break on that is going to be the massive amounts of ice in Antarctica; which at present.

We do not have a way that we know of to break that up that quickly, say by 2100. Or, if it has started happening, it would – melting ice takes heat. Therefore, it would actually slow down the rate of heating. We do not have a record of anything heating that fast globally. I would say my hope is it would not happen that fast. But I cannot be certain. It could potentially yes.

Chris Martenson: Alright. This is – I think where some of the confusion lies for people. Or, where there is a range of things. From hey, we will get very low warming – to maybe as much as over seven degrees, which would be -I think. Help and flush this out for us. What would a seven degree Celsius rise actually mean?

Mark Cochrane: Yes. Well, it would mean there would be no ice anywhere on the planet for one. Every bit of ice from Antarctica, Greenland, and everywhere will be gone. That will actually probably happen above three degrees Celsius. Seven would not it mean it would happen very quickly. We would have, I do not know 50 meters of sea level rise very quickly.

Chris Martenson: Fifty meters – ?

Mark Cochrane: Yes. Basically, nothing you know anywhere on this planet. If you look out your window. Nothing is that is there will be there. It would have to be something different. Because we can move around on this planet. We can get into our air conditioned or heated comfort. But everything else on the planet, it exists where the climate is amenable to it. If you raised by seven degrees Celsius. We are not talking about for a day, an hour.

We are saying on average. That is a huge change. That is more than the change that happened from the depths of the ice age until today. That change in the planetary temperatures of five, and maybe six degrees Celsius. If you are talking about raising another seven; you are talking about it at basically a different planet. Now, the only question is how fast that occurs?

This is really where the problems lie. If it were to change by seven degrees Celsius, it would be a huge change. If we had tens of thousands of years for it to occur, life would adjust pretty well. If it happens over a thousand years, it is difficult. If it happens over a hundred years, it is insane. Nothing is designed to adapt that quickly.

Yeah, it is going to be a free for all. We will lose a lot of species. It will be millions of years before life readjusts. It is not going to extirpate life from the planet. But it would certainly reset the clock. It will be kind of, even worse than say the K-T boundary asteroid that hit and took out the dinosaurs.

Chris Martenson: Okay. Well, that sounds pretty dramatic. This is something that I have heard come up a lot. It is people saying well, the Trump presidency has now set the country back in terms of a few things. You are talking about setting the clock a life back pretty extraordinarily. That sounds reasonably dire. Before we get into….

Mark Cochrane: You are going back 30 or more million years, if you did that.

Chris Martenson: Well, I have got some fossils from back then.

Mark Cochrane: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. I never thought about it this way. But I am wondering how many degrees Celsius difference exists between myself in Massachusetts and say, Miami?

Mark Cochrane: Let us see. You are saying for like what kind of life you would expect?

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

Mark Cochrane: Well, I do not know off of the top of my head. I would say about on average about yeah, three, probably Celsius. But I do not know for a fact. I mean, but the problem is when we talk about these averages. It is not the way anything is experienced. When we talk about – it is part of the problem. It is easy to say warm the planet by two degrees Celsius. For most people, whatever, and let us say four degrees Fahrenheit.

They are going to say well, no big deal. It came up more than that since breakfast. But it is not the way it is experienced. It is not like every day; the temperature was going to go up by that amount. It is you can have some periods where it is very high. Other periods are low. You do not have winter freezes the way you used to. You get storms. I mean, it is not just the temperature. The temperature is actually the minor part of the equation.

What happens is it changes all of the weather patterns. Primarily it is the way the moisture is experienced. Do you get enough moisture? You either get floods. You get droughts. Even if you had the same amount; or even some more rainfall than you had previously. You could be in drought. Because as the temperature rises, you evaporate it much more, and much more quickly.

The drought stress level has increased. Everything we do on this planet from our perspective is built around moisture. All of the crops that we do. How we live on this, the surface of the planet. It is huge changes that happen with relatively small changes in average temperature of the planet.

Chris Martenson: Alright. Now, Mark, I want to talk about your research then. If you could just describe for people what you are researching? What I am really interested in is how long you have been doing that? What you have detected in terms of changes? Pardon me, if this comes out wrong. But the brief span of time you have been doing this geologically speaking, just so people have a sense of what you are doing. What you are seeing.

Mark Cochrane: Okay. Yeah. I have been basically doing this since about 1994.

But yeah, I have been doing this sort of research in one fashion or another since 1994. A lot of work in the Amazon and especially earlier on; and I am branching out from there to, like you had mentioned Australia, and Indonesia, and the United States. Now, we have got another project starting in Africa. Looking at these changes; and I mean, we talk about global change. It is not just climate change.

It has to do with all of the things that we as a species are doing across the planet as well. But increasingly, climate change has become more and more of an issue. Because we have gone from thinking it was something that could happen in the next century or two – to something that we can see happening right before our eyes. I look at a variety of things. One of the main things we have been looking at recently is globally. Can we say something about how fire is changing on the planet?

We had a paper out in Nature and Communications last year showing that across the planet, we – in the last 30 years. We have increased the fire danger levels across half of the planet's surface considerably. Statistically significantly and we have more than doubled the area that is under extreme long fire seasons. We have a paper that is just coming out now for the United States. That shows that not only is the danger of the fire going up. But where that is happening, we are having both more fires; and fires that burn more intensely.

They can consume more fuels and harder to control; which fits with our experience. We have been having this problem for the last few decades of having bigger and bigger fires. We have a harder and harder time controlling. Combined with that, I have also been looking at things in Indonesia. I was there for the height of the haze crisis last year during this last El Nino where we have huge amounts of fire happening in pig swamp forests that were drained some years ago.

It is an environmental disaster of our making where the fire burning there; it does not just burn a forest per se. it burns the land surface. Because it is a giant pile of organic matter. When it does that, it smoulders and puts up all kinds of nasty stuff in the air. That makes it very hard to breathe. They put over 500,000 people in the hospital. But we were able to actually measure the real emissions coming off of that.

I guess I would call it a rare bit of good news. If you will is that we were able to show that the emissions coming off of those fires were actually less than what had been estimated by the IPCC previously. That will make Indonesia happy. It does not really change the impact across the planet. Because we can still measure how much carbon dioxide is showing up in the atmosphere as well as methane and carbon monoxide, and a few others. But I think that kind of sums up what we are doing at the moment.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. In terms of seeing a progression of changes, are you able to detect that yet in your research?

Mark Cochrane: Yeah. We can show that over recent decades. That we are seeing again more fire and increased conditions for fire. There is definitely a trend ongoing. This is one of the things I try to stress more and more. We were talking about stress. All of the systems out there are increasingly stressed. Because the climate is shifting. They are in the wrong place. When they are stressed, they are more prone to any number of things, whether it is insect detect, and disease, but also of fire.

There is one hope we have around the planet – is that a lot of the carbon will be soaked up by trees and other plants that are growing. To an extent, they will be. But as we stress that system and basically everything has to be moved. What we are doing is creating a system that is changing. A changing system will actually hold less carbon overall. Over time, we are going to actually start losing carbon off of the land surface; which means, we will have more piling up in the atmosphere.

Chris Martenson: Right. That being one of the infamous feedback loops you are describing here?

Mark Cochrane: Yes.

Chris Martenson: Alright. Here is a quote that came out of that same paper that said – that I have just quoted earlier from the independent newspaper. This is a Michael Mann quote. He says this study does indeed support the notion that a Donald Trump presidency could be gained over the climate. That is what he wrote in an e-mail to them. Without commenting on whether he is correct in that assessment of the defensibility of the study's conclusions; I want to ask you this. What has any U.S. president really done so far? I mean, in terms of the actual concrete policy terms to really sway consumers and businesses towards using less fossil fuels?

Mark Cochrane: Well, to date, we have done little or nothing depending – independent of any administration. The only one that actually tried to make a difference was Jimmy Carter. He was drummed out of office rather quickly. Yeah. Asking people to actually change what they do. Or, asking people to do things that will directly impact our economy such as it is. It is difficult. Everybody wants change. But nobody wants to change.

Yeah. I am still waiting to see what will happen under our new president. I was encouraged just yesterday where it said he was actually rethinking his stance on climate. But I was just last week at a conference, a NASA conference. They are gearing up for a possible 25 percent cut in budgets and trying to plan ahead. There are other rumors out there.

Earth science could be cut completely. That is unlikely, I would say. I will say this, though. I mean, we have not even talked about like the Paris Agreement. But I think the U.S. has lost any leadership capacity at least morally speaking around the world on this issue by being so intransigent on anything to do with the issue for decades. Such that, if we try to withdraw from it; I think the rest of the world is going to move on without us. It will be hamstrung. But it will still move forward. It will not stop because of us.

Chris Martenson: Now, this Paris accord, if you could just give people a quick rundown on what that was? What was agreed to. The progress – well, the progress is the ratification progress, I am talking about rather than any other progress at this point. I guess. What is it? Where do we stand?

Mark Cochrane: Okay. Yeah, I mean, there is…. It comes down to you see the glass half empty or half full. The half full, I guess, it would be that it is the first major climate agreement since the Kyoto Protocol back in 1997, whereby nations of the planet have agreed that not only do we have to cut emissions of fossil fuels. We need to make them peak soon and go down. This is not just about slowing down the rate of increase.

This is actually about trying to get it to the point that it is decreasing. That is good. What was amazing about it. It starts from voluntary commitments, which people can argue about. But everybody came out with their own climate action plan. They put that together with the goal of trying to keep the temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius; and an aspirational goal of keeping it below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But, they thought even after they had an agreement signed that it would take until about 2020 or later to get ratified. Because that would be in keeping what happened with the Kyoto Protocol, which took eight years to ratify. But instead, it took less than a year.

Just this year, it was ratified. In order to do that, it was necessary to get 55 countries that represented at least 55 percent of the global emissions to ratify this. That happened November 4th, conveniently just before the U.S. elections. Maybe people were already seeing Trump being elected.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

Mark Cochrane: But it has continued since then. At this point, 193 countries have signed; 113 have ratified it. They represent 79 percent of all global emissions. Even if the U.S. somehow were taken out of that equation, it would still be ratified globally. The downside of this is unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement is all voluntary. There is no legal mitigation or finance targets. Will people do what they say they are going to do?

In its defense, they have to legally provide tracking progress on how well they are keeping on with the goals that they have stated that have to be publicly declared and from an independent source. It is not like you can say, yes. We are doing it and not do anything; and pretend you are getting somewhere. The world will know. There is some moral suasion that can go on. But there is no legal pressure.

The plan though is that every five years, all of the countries have to submit an updated plan that basically tries to build upon the momentum and actually create higher targets to reach, which is very necessary. Because after all of the great goals of trying to stay below two degrees Celsius, the UN has done their own study. To their credit, they are not trying to claim victory and move on. Their own study showed that the commitments to date would still result in warming by 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius, which is way above where they are supposed to be.

They know they have to improve this quite a lot. I think it is a good sign that the world is starting to get serious about this issue; and moving towards making a difference. But it is kind of like, I do not know dealing with global debt. Nobody wants to actually have to pay for it or deal with it. The actual making those changes is going to be difficult when it comes down to actually impacting the bottom line so to speak.

Chris Martenson: Well, I agree. Now we get down to where the rubber really hits the road in this story; which you alluded to earlier, which is everybody wants this change. But nobody wants to change. I want to talk about this. Because this is something obviously we talk about at Peak Prosperity a lot.

I know you have got a good handle on this as well. Maybe we have a meeting of the minds or a big dose of confirmation bias on this. But we know; I believe at this point. That if you cannot just step in right now. We could not have some benevolent dictator coming in to say that is it. We are going to cut everybody's fossil fuel use in half. But life will continue on as before.

It is just not going to happen. Because our economy is so wedded to this. I believe that people will be earnest and attempting to follow the Paris accord until such a time as their economy takes a hit. They need to burn some coal to get it back into green. That is sort of my view on this. Here is the thing that I have seen missing so far. I have read a bunch of studies, some very well meaning ones, and very lengthy where people did their best.

To say, here is how we move entirely to alternative energy. Here is how we do it by 2030, right. The problem I have with all of these studies is that the cost of these things are extraordinary. They are making an assumption, which is that the economy functions reasonably well as we go from a high net energy source of energy, to a lower net energy source of energy, or a more diffuse set. In your mind, is it fair to say that the disruption, the potential for disruption, and the economic disruption here. It is not really baked into this thinking yet well?

Mark Cochrane: Clearly, I mean, we keep assuming everything will move along smoothly. That does not…. It is in all models of economics. It is in our models of transitioning to different power sources. It is in our ideas of even how the climate will progress. Because all of the models assume that we will have a relatively stable climate that just kind of slowly tweaks to a different state. That is not necessarily the way that happens either.

The climate can jerk around quite considerably. We are really poking the bear so to speak. The climate system is chaotic. The more we perturb it, the more chance it could jump around unpredictably as well. But certainly, in terms of trying to change this system, it is not going to be something easy around the margins with nobody noticing it happen kind of thing.

It does not matter, if we are talking about that. Or, even if this – there was a study just out earlier this year talking about like crops. We have new crops that we are trying to breed and create. That will deal with the different climates that are coming.

Even if you can breathe these things; it takes decades to get them out in use in the different places. The climate is changing so fast that you cannot keep that system up and running optimally. We are going to be losing out in a lot of those processes. We are going to have to make changes.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. I guess the part that I am surprised. But I would say the lack of sophistication in this conversation; which I see all of the time. It is sort of – my shorthand for it is but Chris. Electric cars are really coming along. I just – I am baffled Mark. Because I am like well, the next time you take a drive, please count, just count, and note all of the electric cars you see. Unless you are in California or you are in a couple of urban centers, you are going to be either at zero or at some fraction less than one percent on that story.

There is just an enormous gap between where we are and where we think we need to be. But I guess the thing that really – I want to begin to raise the conversation around is this. I think it is short changing ourselves to have this view put out. That basically says, hey listen. We can have our cake. We can eat it, too. We are going to dial back fossil fuels. We are still going to have a growing economic output. I just think that is not….

I think that is a disservice to the conversation to just say that will happen. Because it is clearly. Humans have never had to go from our current position back down the curve of energy from a more concentrated to a less concentrated; not that we cannot do it. But my goodness; what a mistake it would be. To say, well, if we want from wood to coal, a little disruption. Then, we went from coal to oil, a couple of buddy – what manufacturers lost their job. But man, everything was better.

I am like, I do not think people appreciate the capital costs. The commitment that would be required to move in a really substantive way away from fossil fuels and towards something else. Whatever that mix of things, that other thing is. That is the first, I guess. I have a follow-on to that. But do you? I mean, it feels to me like there is a very large and very realistic conversation that needs to be had there. Is it happening anywhere you are aware of?

Mark Cochrane: Yeah, no.

Chris Martenson: Alright.

Mark Cochrane: I think you are right exactly. I mean, there is basically – we can see. Hey we can do this. It is out there. It is possible. Theoretically without any thought of how we get from point A to point B. this is what I do with my studies as well. We can say where all of the trees want to be. But nobody thinks about what happens in between from where they are to where they want to get to.

It is the same thing with our energy systems. Yes, we might be able to do these things. But nobody really does the hard work in calculating the resources, and the energy, and the time. What happens to the people in the economy in the middle? I think part of that is again, the wishful thinking. We try not to dwell too much on pain and suffering. Nobody can sell that really well, either.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. That is part one of this is have the cake and eat it, too piece. I just think that we have got to have some serious conversations around that. Because to me, it is people do much better when they are given the truth. That is why the crash course did well. It was a lot of context. I am not going to even say it was truth. But there was a lot of context that was otherwise missing. When they had the context, a lot of people said; well, that makes sense. I am not necessarily thrilled with the implications of it. But at least I have a framework that makes sense now. This has been a piece that I have….

I have read things by Jay Hansen. Not to pick on anybody, but big editorials in the New York Times or by Bill McKibben. They keep coming to this point of saying – we just need to move this direction. Then things will be better. I think there is a little gap there; which is yes. But well, my goodness, it is…. This is going to require us to actively re-prioritize things and really move in a new direction.

Now, I guess we get to the final bit of our time here. But this gets down to the Trump piece. I think this is what has really, honestly; I cannot detect it. That any administration so far has taken this seriously. I think people are worried that Trump at least in his campaign rhetoric had said; I am not. I am going to de-prioritize that a little bit.

Even our lip service is going to go away. But in reality, we need to have a vision that is really comprehensive. We need to ask people to begin to share and shoulder this burden of making this transformation, which will not be all bad. I am not saying it is time for us all to put our hair shirts on and wallow around in misery.

A lot of jobs will be created. But a lot of them will go away. It is a wrenching transformation. We will do that as a nation or as a people on this planet, if we have a vision. That we can get behind. I think people were feeling maybe the vision just took a hit because of Trump. I do not know about that yet.

We will see. He has managed to surprise me at every turn by pivoting and saying something different when he wants to. Who knows where he stands? Your thoughts on that?

Mark Cochrane: Yeah. I would say for sure. Where with him, we do not know what we are getting yet. Well, so to some degree, even if he starts off on one track, he could change his mind pretty quickly. Like it happened in Russia. Why did Russia change their mind? Well, in 2010, they had massive droughts and fires. They lost over 50,000 people. Why did Europe turn around in 2003? Well, they had a massive heat wave. They lost 30,000 people.

We still talk about 9-1-1. 9-1-1 is a small change compared to what those places have faced. If we hit something like that in this country, people would change quite dramatically. Even as we look forward, we have got our heads in the sand. If we raised sea levels by like four feet, we are going to lose 2,400 miles of major roads, and 246 miles of railways, and airports, et cetera. Zillo did a study, if we have just one meter of sea level rise, we lose 1.9 million homes. If we talk about infrastructure we have to build, okay; if we lose 36 cities, period.

We are not even having the conversations about how we adapt, really adapt to what is happening. What is coming. At what point do we start talking about – when do we abandon a major city like Miami? How do you protect that from the sea? Right now, they have got major pumping systems trying to pump the sea back out to itself.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

Mark Cochrane: It is sitting on porous limestone. You really cannot do much with it. You can build a sea wall. But the water will still come in under it. You are losing the aquifers. Because they are getting flooded with salt water. At some point, we are going to have to say when do we retreat? We have areas of cities like Baltimore, or Wilmington, North Carolina that are literally nuisance flooding. They get flooded 30 times a year at this point. At what point do you flood enough that you say maybe we should not be living here?

Chris Martenson: Good questions, and a follow-up question for any of you real estate investors listening. Who is buying those condos in those flood zones? I do not know. Unless your idea is that the condo will fall apart and be a derelict asset well before we have to consider moving out? Yeah. I agree with everything you said.

Here we are coming up to the end of this particular podcast. But listen, here, this is the only thing that I think makes sense to me. When somebody listening to this saying; "What can I do?" I think they have to be change they wish to see. I think people should get out in front of this ball and reduce their own carbon footprint as much as they can and understand it. Because this voluntary simplicity today is going to be a lot better than involuntary simplicity tomorrow, if that is part of the game.

Well, to be clear; if the world gets serious. It says wow. We are now scared. We have to cut fossil fuel use. That is going to be extraordinarily disruptive just because we did not give ourselves the Jimmy Carter sanctioned amount of time to do this elegantly and sort of gracefully. We will do it abruptly, if it comes to that. In your mind is there anything anybody can do or should be doing at this point besides doing what they can in their own life?

Mark Cochrane: I would say doing what you can in your own life is your main thing to do. To try to get ahead of it just because…. I mean, we are old enough. We saw that the energy crisis in the '70s. Well, we were able to reduce energy use quite dramatically without totally gutting the economy or anything like that. It lasted for decades even after the prices of gas went back down. We could do quite a lot without necessarily just dying of cold, or heat, or something like that. Put on Jimmy Carter's cardigan; we could do a lot of things.

It is not enough. It is not going to change everything. That is one thing that we have to get through our heads. There is no solution. We cannot stop this. Even if we were to cut a 100 percent; we have put in motion changes that will go on for hundreds of years. Now that is…. I guess the analogy I would use is if you're in a car. You are speeding toward a bridge above it.

Yeah, you are going to hit it no matter what you do. But, it still makes sense to hit the brakes. Because you do not want to hit it at 60 miles an hour. It would be better if you hit it at 30. We can do things to make this less dramatic as we have to deal with it. The more you adapt in advance, the less traumatic it is if they suddenly come out tomorrow and say hey. We have to do it now. Just I think part of it is. We have had all of this time of trying to convince our politicians to do something and everything. No, we have to do something. To the extent that more and more of us are doing something, it becomes so obvious. Things will have to get done. Lead by example instead of waiting for somebody else to lead.

Chris Martenson: Well said, and bravo, absolutely. That is really the call to action here for everybody listening. You have got to lead by example. Waiting for somebody else to pick up the baton and say it is okay. Listen, nobody – we should not be waiting for permission from our leadership before we do something. They never actually truly lead. They follow. Once a movement has got good purchase, they will pick up the standard of those politicians, and carry it the last three feet up the hill. That is just –

Mark Cochrane: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: That is just how it has been with every movement I have ever studied. This is really something where I guess it is up to us. Up to us to have the appropriate context to know that we can do things. Then my personal story, Mark is that I have made a lot of changes in my life. I am grateful I had the time to be able to do that.

Of course, I am grateful to have had the resources. But they have not been that wrenching. I have been able to with a little bit of applied thought, really make a pretty big impact on the amount of carbon that I and my family are using. It was not that hard. But I had made none of these changes, and suddenly I had to be forced into this in a short period of time; say it a year or less. It would have been widely damaging I think to me.

Mark Cochrane: Yeah. I would agree.

Chris Martenson: – Difficult…..

Mark Cochrane: I mean, psychologically is the biggest change. For me, one of the biggest things I did was basically get rid of the TV.

Chris Martenson: Yes.

Mark Cochrane: That stuff is telling me I have to go buy everything and all kinds of other problems. But yeah, just keep doing what you can do. You find out yeah, your quality of life did not go down. It is like, you do not need that next little plastic thing from Walmart. You can actually live better, and eat better, or feel better. It is just hard to do it all at once. Now, if you keep adding it piece by piece. I am always humbled by what other people are doing. I am like holy cow. I never thought of that. Some people are just way out in front on this. It really is something to see.

Chris Martenson: Well, this is…. I am going to try this. The next time somebody says I am really worried about climate change. I will say I have it on good authority from a climate change scientist that you should get rid of your TV.

Mark Cochrane: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: See what kind of reaction I get –

Mark Cochrane: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: Listen, I am willing to do something. But I did not say anything. I am not –

Mark Cochrane: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: – Asking it too far. But I agree. Getting rid of the TV for a lot of reasons, including climate change. I can add this to my list – is a very good idea. With that, Mark, thank you so much for your time today. If I could paraphrase? We do not know what we are getting with Trump yet.

There is a little bit of wait and see. At least the world seems to be moving in the right direction. Most importantly, each one of us can decide to make this our own cause. What we are going to do around it for climate change, and maybe for other reasons as well to become more resilient and in charge of our lives. Is that fair?

Mark Cochrane: I think you said it better than I could have.

Chris Martenson: Well, I doubt it. With that, Mark, thank you so much for your time. I truly appreciate it.

Mark Cochrane: Thanks for having me on.

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96 Comments

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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Gary Larson nailed this topic years ago.

debu's picture
debu
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Excellent Stuff!

Thanks for this very important (and long overdue) interview with Mark. We are fortunate to have his expertise on this website.

John H's picture
John H
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Another point of view

Chris mentioned both sides talking needs to happen and I agree.Can I suggest there is another side to this argument and it behooves all of us to know it. I have looked very carefully at both sides and frankly find the skeptical side compelling. Trump is in and despite reports he is going to soften on climate change I think that is unlikely. Senator Inhofe will likely be in charge of the senate committee on the environmental again. Polls show the concern about climate change to be at low levels. When it comes to climate change many peoples BS detectors have gone off and it is not hard to see why. For 30 years we have heard over and over there is only 5 years to save the plant, catastrophe, needs urgent action, the arctic ice cap will be melted my 2014, there will be more hurricanes, floods, wild fires,New York will be under 12 feet of water and many more. I cannot name one that is true. I noted Dr. Cochrane suggested wildfires are increasing but I am sorry to disagree, go look at the data, it is just not true.

I have a scientific background though not in climate, still I understand the scientific process. I see corruption of that process in climate science (read climate gate e mails as a start). I believe much of the public though not understanding the detail senses that to. Thus the BS detector. The skeptical side is winning the argument. If you don't believe me just look who will soon be n the white house. Look who the new director of the EPA is. Most people are not concerned about climate change.

If I had an issue I thought was the most important challenge facing the planet and in fact threatening our very existence I would want to debate and crush all those opposed to that view with my overwhelming evidence. Yet those on that side for the most part refuse. Sure there are a few debates mostly years ago. I know for sure the skeptical scientists would like to engage in debate. It is also clear to me the skeptics win most of those debates. They bring data, not antidodal stories of floods in Florida or local effects on oysters.

The ocean cannot becomes acidic. This is clearly a term to induce fear and is not scientific. The ocean maybe able to become less alkaline but it is far from clear this is happening as the data does not exist.

Dr. Patrick Moore's recent assay"There is no solid evidence that ocean acidification is the dire threat to marine species that many researchers have claimed. The entire premise is based upon an assumption of what the average pH of the oceans was 265 years ago when it was not possible to measure pH at all, never mind over all the world’s oceans. Laboratory experiments in which pH was kept within a range that may feasibly occur during this century show a slight positive effect on five critical factors: calcification, metabolism, growth, fertility and survival."

I challenge Chris to bring someone on like Dr Moore. There is another side to this story and as you would expect when challenging the prevailing scientific point of view, it is well reasoned. History is full of scientific truthes turning out to be wrong. Open your mind on this one. The science if far from settled.

John

PS in my view satellites  are clearly the best way to measure the temp of the earth and not too many years ago used to agree fairly closely with the surface temperature records. Perhaps get Dr. Roy Spencer to explain why.

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Mark Cochrane
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Here is the data on US burned area

I noted Dr. Cochrane suggested wildfires are increasing but I am sorry to disagree, go look at the data, it is just not true.

Not in number, in area burned.

In case you are wondering, it costs money to try to fight those fires.

As for the rest, please come over to the Definitive Global Climate Change Thread where your talking points have been dealt with and explained multiple times.

Mark

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Mark Cochrane
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Never heard of Dr. Patrick Moore but...

Here is an article that addresses his particular version of reality

Ask the real experts about ocean acidification, not climate science deniers

  • Ocean acidification was “invented” in 2005 by climate scientists because global warming wasn’t bad enough.
  • Because corals and shellfish have been around for millions of years they’ll be fine if the ocean keeps soaking up all the extra CO2.
  • The oceans have a built-in natural “buffer” that stops the water from swinging around the pH scale (the scale used to measure acid and alkaline states).
  • People who keep saltwater aquariums at home sometimes add CO2 to the water to make plants grow – therefore, CO2 is great for the oceans.

There are two things to know about these points.

The first is that they were all made by Canadian climate science denier Patrick Moore, who has not written a single peer-reviewed scientific paper on the subject of ocean acidification (or on anything else in the recent past, as far as I can tell. He got his ecology Ph.D in 1974).

The second thing to know (not surprising when you know the first thing) is that all Moore’s statements are wrong, irrelevant or misleading.

How do I know?

Because I asked some actual experts to review Moore’s column - well respected scientists at universities who have researched and published papers on ocean acidification in the world’s leading journals.

Apparently Moore also moonlights as "an adviser or advocate for industries including mining, forestry and pulp and paper. He has been a vocal supporter of the nuclear energy and GM foods industries."

In an interview earlier this year, Moore defended the herbicide glyphosate, a “probable carcinogen” according to the World Heath Organisation. Moore claimed that you could “drink a whole quart” and it would not harm you. When the interviewer offered a glass of it to drink, Moore refused, saying “I’m not an idiot”.

I stopped reading at that point but the article goes on at some length detailing the numerous ways in which Dr. Moore's talking points on ocean acidification are misleading or plain wrong.

For people looking for confirmation bias there is always a shill out there willing to provide the snake oil.

reflector's picture
reflector
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ah, that patrick moore.

Mark Cochrane wrote:

Apparently Moore also moonlights as "an adviser or advocate for industries including mining, forestry and pulp and paper. He has been a vocal supporter of the nuclear energy and GM foods industries."

In an interview earlier this year, Moore defended the herbicide glyphosate, a “probable carcinogen” according to the World Heath Organisation. Moore claimed that you could “drink a whole quart” and it would not harm you. When the interviewer offered a glass of it to drink, Moore refused, saying “I’m not an idiot”.

i remember last year there was a 45 second clip of that interview posted on youtube, it was quite entertaining:

herewego's picture
herewego
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????

Hello John, Here's a quick sample of dozens of sites, most of them associated with a university or association of scientists. Are they all somehow completely mistaken then? They just don't know chemistry?

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/explore/pristine-seas/critical...

http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-acidification https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/ocean_acidification.htm

http://www.state.gov/e/oes/ocns/opa/2014conf/224846.htm

https://www.decodedscience.org/ocean-acidification-causes-and-possible-c...

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/the_chall...

I live in forested mountains. Our glaciers have retreated markedly (like glaciers everywhere) since I was a child.

http://climate.nasa.gov/interactives/global-ice-viewer/#/1

We get rain in January when the lakes used to freeze. Now it's late November, and snow should be 2' deep, but it's only rained, non-stop, for 2 months. In summer, forest fires rip through the mountains. Last summer we got a reprieve. Next summer?

I simply don't accept that all the footage of polar ice melting/shrinking/thinning is tampered with. Polar ice-fields are disappearing and there is visual evidence of it.

I'm NOT a scientist, but do I need to be?  I think there is a profound confusion afoot about the timing of events.  If some folks got hysterical and expected global floods in 6 months, it doesn't disappear what's actually happening.  Melting ice, everywhere.  Weird weather every year, right where I live. 

Well, we don't have to agree. 

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LesPhelps
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And yet...

I have spent an unreasonable amount of time delving into this topic, not just reading both sides claims, but also analyzing some of the easier datasets available.  All I really gained from the exercise is that there are  both honest and confused people on each side of this issue.  I came away from the exercise largely skeptical of the IPCC as an organization, and yet....

It is impossible to ignore the changes I am personally witnessing.  Where I have lived for the last 32 years has become consistently warmer, a lot warmer.  Witness the fact that the USDA hardiness zones have moved North 150 miles in the last 10 years.  Our growing seasons have become reliably longer.  

Regardless of their size, I can confirm dramatic changes to the Great Lakes and the worlds oceans that are a direct result of human activity.  If I can see that we are causing detrimental changes to Earth's largest bodies of water, why would I dismiss out of hand the possibility that we could be changing our atmosphere and weather as well?

Global warming is either happening or it's not.  If it's happening, it's either anthropogenic or it's not.  Those statements are 100% independent of the science and claims.

My senses tell me it would be foolish to ignore climate change as a possible, dare I say probable predicament humanity faces.

Quite a while back, I significantly reduced my carbon footprint, specifically to address my conviction that peak energy is an undeniable reality.  If you believe in peak energy, then the climate change debate becomes a far more academic exercise.  The personal changes necessary to mitigate both predicaments are largely the same.

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John H
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another point of view

Re Wildfires.I note the data in your graphs starts n 1985. There is data gong back over 100 years.

Yes of course the climate is changing, it always has. How do explain the tree line in California being hundreds of feet higher than now 1000 years ago. Viking's farming in Greenland on land that is now permafrost. The evidence shows the earth was much warmer for most of the last 10,000 years than it is right now. Yes the earth is warming at a fairly steady rate for the last few hundred years.

There has been warnings of the antarctic ice sheet breaking off for 100 years.

Re Patrick Moore a "Denier". I have noted that but I have also noted all scientist who oppose this are deniers and work for big oil. Funny about that. He was a co founder of Green Peace but then turned to the dark side for the money I guess. 

There is another point of view. I try listened to both with an open mind.

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blackeagle
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tell me if I am wrong

Mark mentioned clearly that change by itself is not the problem. The pace of change is the real issue. When the climate changes naturally, colder or hotter, without human super-charging it, over a large period of time, all species have plenty of time to adapt (except may be one or two). But when the change is fast (decades, few centuries) AND important, then everyone and everything is screwed. On top of that if you add the fact that CO2 changes the PH of oceans, then you double up the stress on all the tiny organisms at the bottom of the chain food. A nasty chain on consequences are unfolding before our eyes.

This is how I understand it.

Quebec's climate changed during the last 20 years: We are getting more ice storms in January and February (Side story: in winter 2010, my car got crushed by a truck on a iced road, at low speed, but, man, impressive to see this beast coming at you and craouch! flattening your much loved carbon producing and polluting car and pushing it all the way in the ditch). While having a little bit more annual precipitation, we are getting more heavy rains and longer dry periods in between (This year the honey harvest was bad because of no nectar in flowers - too dry). Deciduous trees are growing more north. Some insects are also moving north. Coyotes are also moving north and interbreeding with wolves.

One day Quebec will grow pineapples and bananas year round... wink

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John H
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another point of view

cnv8w3_w8aabcfp-1-1

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Quercus bicolor
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Acres burned much more complex than climate

Let me try to explain based on some basic understanding of fire history in the Adirondack Mountains as well as some educated guesses.

  • The peak in the 1930s was a result of massive clear cutting over the previous 50 years with really poor practices: leaving the slash (branches) in place to dry and become a huge fuel source, no replanting, plus sparks from the new railroad lines.
  • The decline after that was from all of the excess fuel burning or rotting, better fire fighting technology and aggressive fire suppression.
  • The recent increase was from fuel build up due to regrowth of forests, less aggressive fire suppression policies and drying/stress on trees from a warming and drying climate.
Uncletommy's picture
Uncletommy
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Well, we can continue to bitch about it or. . .

One of the unfortunate aspects of the PP forum is that we have a certain predilection, amongst contributors, to drone on about what's wrong and who's at fault for many of the predicaments we find ourselves in. I find myself continually asking, "so what can I do about it". Mark's contribution is always data based and implies a recognition that we should be directing our efforts towards solutions and not whether the observable facts exist. Gary Larson's observations of this are on the mark, but we mustn't let ourselves off the hook by acknowledging "original sin". Here's my current suggestion to address this malaise:

http://www.greenenergyfutures.ca/episode/solar-thermal-101

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Mark Cochrane
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Satellite era and burned area mapping

John.

The reason the presented data start in 1984 is that this is when useable annual Landsat data (30m resolution) became available for the world. Overpass periods are nominally every 16 days but clouds make useable data less common. Burned area mapping requires substantial amounts of processing of satellite imagery.

The records from earlier times are a combination of aerial imagery and best guesses. That said, there certainly was more area burned because of a variety of reasons. In the west it was mostly because more of the land was allowed to burn naturally. In the east and parts of the west it was the result of ramifications from massive logging early in the century. After the catastrophic fires of 1910, the Forest Service entered into the era of fire suppression where they actively worked to put fires out by 10am each day.

They got better and better at this and with the return of people and equipment after WWII (e.g. repurposed aircraft) they became wildly successful at putting out the majority of wildfires across the country. For some ecosystems (e.g. Ponderosa Pine) they have become a victim of their own success as these formerly open forests that burned frequently but at low intensity that did not kill the large trees have grown in thickly and now burn in severe crown fire regimes that destroy the forest cover.

In part because of the success of wildfire suppression, people forgot how the landscape used to burn and have moved into more and more flammable landscapes. The Forest Service has fought valiantly to suppress wildfires but it has become increasingly obvious that this is ecologically destructive (e.g. Giant Sequoia don't regenerate) and a losing battle because of both climate change and the impacts of past management decisions.

We have recently shown how fire weather conditions have increased fire danger across much of the vegetated surface of the planet (not all of it) in the last 35 years (Jolly, Cochrane, et al. 2015 Nature Communications). This year (just last week!), we have further been able to show that the regions in the US with greater fire danger do in fact burn more frequently and, importantly, at greater intensity, consuming more biomass (Freeborn, Jolly and Cochrane. 2016). A more popularized reporting of our paper is "Fighting Fire with Satellite Data". Note, we use MODIS data and that has only been useable since 2001.

The take home message with the recent decades of increasing area burned is that it is growing rapidly despite our fire suppression efforts. More and more fires are growing large no matter how hard we try to control them. We are spending more and more in a losing battle. We are going to have to adapt to having more fire burning across landscapes (e.g. The Science of Firescapes: Achieving Fire-Resilient Communities, Smith et al. 2016).

Mark

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Stan Robertson
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Trump's quandary

Chris invited Mark to comment on the changes that a Trump administration might bring to the public consideration of global warming and climate change. In view of Mr. Trump's previous statements, it will likely require some convincing evidence to induce him to take actions that might significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption. I think that it is clear that the earth is warming and likely due in part to human activities, but the rate is not beyond that of natural variability shown in older climate records. The questions are what fraction of the warming is due to humans and how much warming is in store for the future. The actions that should be taken depend crucially on answers to these questions.

At the present time the UN IPCC estimates that the humans have contributed about half the warming of the last fifty years, but no one really knows. It might be nearly all or nearly none. Our answer to the second question is dependent on climate models. The current trend of warming is on the order of 1C per century, but, as is well known, the models generally project a lot more. Both older models and more current ones are in good agreement when their projections are started at the same point in time. For example, the graph below shows Hansen's 1988 model projections for three scenarios of CO2 emissions. Scenario A corresponds reasonably well with actual emissions since 1988, but the projected temperature increase since then is double what actually occurred. Scenario B corresponds to CO2 emissions held constant after 2000. In Scenario C, CO2 emissions would cease entirely after 2000. Now imagine that you are Mr. Trump and dependent upon the models in formulating a climate policy. What do you do?

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Clarification?

I think that it is clear that the earth is warming and likely due in part to human activities, but the rate is not beyond that of natural variability shown in older climate records.

Please elaborate, when was this? Source? Did it happen during the time of human civilization with its dependence on agriculture?

I am not sure of the source of your graphic so can't really address it. Any future projection (not prediction) of climate change comes down to what humanity's future greenhouse gas emissions rates will be. If we follow the current model of exponential growth in fossil fuel use then it is simply a question of how fast the doubling time will be, just like every other exponentially growing system (see our debt for example). The end result for climate will not be linear changes in temperature --- and temperature is the least of our problems where climate is concerned.

There is no easy 'solution' for President-elect Trump or any of us, only actions (inactions?) to balance present and future tradeoffs. It used to be a question of how much we valued the viability of future generations against our own comfort. At this point it has become a question of how much we value our children's futures, and even our own, for the younger members amongst us.

Mark

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The Solution to Climate Change

If climate change is in fact anthropogenic, then it stems mostly from the burning of fossil fuels. The human race is now entirely addicted to cheap energy from abundant oil, so any proposal to cut consumption is futile. The political will and economic incentives simply do not exist.

However, the problem will soon solve itself. We have already consumed half of the oil which ever existed on the planet in the last 50 years. What is left is becoming ever more difficult to extract, so will become increasingly expensive until it become unaffordable, except for very specialized applications. Therefore, burning of fossil fuels will inevitably decline precipitously over the next fifty years, regardless of the demand or the action (or inaction) of our political 'leaders'.

Popular alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, will never make up the shortfall but, hopefully, entirely new sources of clean energy, such as the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor will emerge to keep us all warm and mobile.

As Chris has repeatedly explained, exponential growth on a planet with finite resources cannot continue indefinitely. So one way or another this problem is going to be resolved within the next few decades.

In the meantime we should beware of people proposing solutions such as carbon credits, which will do absolutely nothing to slow climate change but will accelerate the flow of riches to the banksters.

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another point of viewr

All great questions and comments from everyone. Certainly wildfires much more complex than just a graph as are oysters and local flooding. This is not really a good form to argue this complex issue

All I am saying is there is another well reasoned point of view and you can either try to understand it and refute it or live with a climate denier in the white house elected by deplorables. It is clear to me the scientific process has been corrupted in climate science and it is now more of a political issue than scientific. 

Judith Curry

Roy Spencer

Richard Lindzen

The Right Climate Stuff ( large group of retired NASA engineers and scientist that really did put man on the moon)

Joanne Nova

Bjorn Lomborg

These are not dumb people and I am sure would much rather not face the ridicule and being ostracized by their others in  their field. My challenge to Chris is have anyone of them on a pod cast. If nothing else destroy them with the overwhelming evidence of global warming/climate change. I like to look at data, I started coming to this sight just because of that reason. When you look at the data and not what someone who sees with local climate change you will likely come away with a different point of view as I have. I have no financial interest in oil unless I buy the odd stock or am short crude as I am now. I used to believe in the theory of climate change by changed that point of view say 5 or 10 years ago, I don't remember exactly 

I am very concerned we are looking at spend many trillions of dollars on a issue that is really only a minor problem and even if catastrophic climate change is real, these efforts will not work.Trillons of dollars that could be spent on other things like bringing Africa out of poverty or cure for cancer etc. See Bjorn Lomborg who would agree with Dr Cochrane on the main issues of climate change but not the solutions. 

It seems there is a very narrow tolerable point of view and deviation is not allowed. See Roger Pielke Jr. who was outcast and threaten for simply saying the data does not show increases in several weather from climate change, despite the fact this is right in the IPCC report. 

John H

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Highly Skeptical But Answer This Question. . .

I have always been highly skeptical of the ACC position - but it hasn't been a data driven belief.  I have a deep distrust in lots of things that are presented to me as a "consensus" - like 9/11 for example.  Without going into why I don't believe, I wish to ask Mark this earnest question:

If you had all the power in the world, what laws would you change or steps would you take to correct the problem?  What exactly would be required of everyone on the planet to "fix" the problem, and how long would it take?

Please don't flame me, I am seriously asking this question.  Assuming that it is all true, and caused by man, what does it take to fix it?

Rector

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We have time to get it right

Mark Cochrane wrote:

I think that it is clear that the earth is warming and likely due in part to human activities, but the rate is not beyond that of natural variability shown in older climate records.

Please elaborate, when was this? Source? Did it happen during the time of human civilization with its dependence on agriculture?

On this thread I have previously posted notes on the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores and there also exist stalagmite records that show warming in excess of 1C per century within the Holocene; i.e. in the last 7000 years of the present interglacial warm period.

Mark Cochrane wrote:

If we follow the current model of exponential growth in fossil fuel use then it is simply a question of how fast the doubling time will be, just like every other exponentially growing system (see our debt for example). The end result for climate will not be linear changes in temperature --- and temperature is the least of our problems where climate is concerned.

To the contrary, the warming effect of CO2 is a logarithmic function of CO2 concentration. This has the effect of turning an exponentially increasing CO2 concentration into a linearly increasing temperature. Without a NET positive feedback effect, the IPCC calculates 1.2C temperature increase per doubling of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. At current CO2 human production rate, that should take about 140 years. Of course, believing that infinite growth can occur on a finite planet is delusional. We will have many other things to worry about besides climate change long before we double atmospheric CO2 again.

Stan

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God for a day?

Hello Rector,

I rarely flame anyone and appreciate any serious questions. I fully appreciate your distrust, I call this the 'Age of Fraud'. I've ranted in earlier posts about how trust in every institution has been systematically destroyed in recent years. Sometimes with reason and sometimes just for effect. Makes you wonder who gains by destroying our trust in everything?

First of all, in a nod to Les who has trumpeted the obvious source of all problems for years now, let me acknowledge that the font of all our resource/pollution problems is our growing population which keeps expanding without end, so far. Any solution has to balance the resource use per capita and the number of total people on Earth. Unless we start exporting people off this rock, any solution that doesn't stabilize or reduce human populations is just buying time until addressing population has to be faced definitively. The problem per se isn't the number of people we have, it is the fact that we keep having more than enough babies to replace ourselves and keep using more and more resources per person. Population has more than doubled in my life time. If a mad scientists or rogue government managed to kill off half the population we'd be right back where we are now within 30-50 years. We don't need an instant solution, we need a long term one where we have more deaths than births over a long period of time until the population drops to a more sustainable level. It doesn't have to be traumatic or catastrophic in nature, just continual. What that sustainable population level would be is a philosophical discussion related to how affluent and resource intensive we wanted to be. Living like Americans, we need a much smaller global population, living like Indians, we could be maybe 20 times as big. With that said, I will leave the moral quagmire of how to accomplish any of this to others to discuss. There have been a few threads and discussions about this over the years.

As for the more practical, here and now attempts to correct the insoluble problems of human nature, I would make a small alteration to economic incentives. One of the great failings of economics, as used, is the inability to incorporate so-called 'externalities'. The issue, as I see it, is the way in which we treat those problems that we know to exist but can't yet quantify well (say greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, etc). Since we cannot easily quantify their impacts, we simply assume they mean nothing and ignore them until someone can prove otherwise which is a recipe for one environmental disaster after another. Since these items have no current price, nobody who works in those markets invests anything in quantifying those costs, and they resist any effort by anyone outside of their markets to do so. My approach to dealing with this, should I be made global economic czar(!), would be to assign these externalities an assumed and significant cost up front. This would lead to market inefficiencies much as not having any costs does already but it would change the impetus to having incentives to better define real costs. Some arbitrary and ideally somewhat high cost (5%, 10%?) is set until such time as defensible costs of the externality can be determined. In other words, the costs/taxes are set high until such time that industry/science can defensibly prove that the actual costs are less than the existing assigned tariff (or whatever term you'd like). This changes the incentives to searching for valid valuations of externalities instead of resistance to any valuation of them. This gives markets a vested interest in researching and determining more realistic valuations that would be acceptable to the industry and which would improve market efficiency.

My thumbnail idea for what it is worth.

You'll note that both in terms of population and my economic approach we are talking about long term approaches that would take generations to play out. No quick fixes.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are no immediate 'solutions' to climate change, only ways to better manage the outcomes and to reduce the impacts. We have a few centuries of climate changes already in process that can't be stopped. No one serious is suggesting we turn out all the lights, give up fossil fuels tomorrow, and return to the stone age. However using less fossil fuels year after year is not only possible but wise since they are a diminishing resource. Don't buy the narrative of all or nothing.

Mark

P.S. Yikes, I am now behind on some important work I have to do....

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Science vs Philosophy

The philosopher's self, ruled by the willing ego that tells him that nothing can hinder or constrain it but the will itself, is engaged in a never-ending fight with the counter-will, engendered, precisely, by his own will. The price paid for the Will's omnipotence is very high; the worst that, from the viewpoint of the thinking ego, could happen to the two-in-one, namely, to be "at variance with yourself," has become part and parcel of the human condition. And the fact that this fate is not longer assigned to Aristotle's "base man" but, on the contrary, to the good and wise man who has learned the art of conducting his own life in no matter what external circumstances may well cause one to wonder whether this "cure" of human misery was not worse than the disease.

-- Hannah Arendt: 'The Life of The Mind; Epictetus and the omnipotence of the Will'

Hope it's not impertinent of me to add a link to Guy McPhersons essay on the subject of our predicament:

https://guymcpherson.com/climate-chaos/climate-change-summary-and-update/

or shall we argue whether there is a predicament or merely a problem seeking a solution?

https://html1-f.scribdassets.com/7abbkvuybk1eoknd/images/9-e8b69b1e6e.jpg

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Great Barrier Reef scientists confirm largest die-off of corals

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/29/great-barrier-reef-s...

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The Good Sheriff Doth Protest Too Much...

I'm sure John H can find someone who argues the concept of Death as a man made phenomenon.

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Positive Feedback Loops Added Together

Hi all. And a special Thank you to both Dr. Martenson and Dr. Cochrane for this enlightening podcast.

Some scientists say it only takes a 5°C rise in deep sea temperatures to sublimate solid methane hydrate. But we're already seeing hundreds of thousands of sites in the Artctic where methane is seeping in the atmosphere, and we already know serious climate change and ocean acidification (and the resulting food web destruction) is baked in, then this is just the beginning.

I am increasingly convinced that Guy McPherson is onto something. Rather than say he's a "doomist", I suggest reading his essay, with numerous citations and links, last updated August 2016, here:

"The Great Dying wiped out at least 90% of the species on Earth due to an abrupt rise in global-average temperature about 252 million years ago. The vast majority of complex life became extinct. Based on information from the most conservative sources available, Earth is headed for a similar or higher global-average temperature in the very near future. The recent and near-future rises in temperature are occurring and will occur at least an order of magnitude faster than the worst of all prior Mass Extinctions. Habitat for human animals is disappearing throughout the world, and abrupt climate change has barely begun. In the near future, habitat for Homo sapiens will be gone. Shortly thereafter, all humans will die."

Introduction:
https://guymcpherson.com/climate-chaos/introduction/

Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loops:
https://guymcpherson.com/climate-chaos/self-reinforcing-feedback-loops-2/

That doesn't mean give up and curl up in a corner. I think it means living the rest of your life with meaning.

Poet

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another poinnt of view

to Hector and cello 55

Perhaps this video would give you a laugh and intuitive reason to wonder about climate change

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New Thread Suggestion

I think we should start a new thread where we can thrash out whether or not gravity is settled science:)

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arctic death spiral

Hi cello interesting video. Yes I could easily come up with several papers, articles, and scientist would would refute most of this video and in convincing manor.

So much there let us start with run away warming and feed backs. The science of the green house effect is well established and generally accepted. With climate change it is all about the feed back amplification, otherwise all we could expect from all this CO2 is a mild likely beneficial warming.  Watching the video turns out our climate system, stable for billions of years, is actually unstable and has run away feed back mechanisms. Co2 is actually a minor green house gas, water vapor is the major player. Good theory just like a humid summer night water vapor goes up and warms the air. Thus inherent in all climate models is the concept. Central to this there must be increasing water vapor in the troposphere and there must be an atmospheric hot spot at the equatorial latitudes. This is critical to this feed back concept. Problem, no empirical evidence this exists. Millions of weather balloons and 24 satellite coverage and not found. Again I emphasize for this theory of ware vapor feed back there must be a "hot spot".

Arctic ice it is still there.

osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en.png

The real problem is we have no good date prior to about 1979 when satellites started mapping the earth. Amundsen so how got his 13 hp 70 foot boat through in 1906. Of coursee anyone old enough will remember the global cooling scare of the 1970 and to no surprise arctic ice has be generally trending down since though as you can see from the graph above has stabilized in the last few years. Lots of news clippings of catastrophic melting of glaciers and the west antarctic ice sheet in peril from the 20's 30's and 40's. How about 3 submarines surfacing at the north pole in clear water https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/26/ice-at-the-north-pole-in-1958-not-so-thick/

Re ice albedo. Arctic ice albedo is minimal simply because of the angle of the sun. The vast majority of albedo is clouds which even the IPCC admits is not well understood. I have read recent reports suggesting the clouds provide a negative stabilizing feedback though I cannot recall the articles at this moment

Re methane look here

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/09/30/inconvenient-studies-find-methane-and-carbon-dioxide-release-is-highest-in-the-arctic-during-the-regions-cold-season/

and here

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/06/22/new-agu-study-negates-the-climate-methane-emergency-in-alaska/

and lots more if you look

Now lets think about rate of warming, graph from IPCC FAR. rates of warming do not look special today

2016-01-05-05-27-33There is more. lets look at ice core records the last 10,000 years, from https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/06/01/ice-core-data-shows-the-much-feared-2c-climate-tipping-point-has-already-occurred/ As you can see it seems it has been warmer for most of the last 10,000 year than now. There is a lot more evidence to support this if you want to take the time to search for it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.42.21

Note also the rates of change in the above graph for those asserting that the rate of temp change today is some how special.

There is so much more as this is a very complex science and no one scientist can know it all.

Again to Chris I would sure like to hear a pod cast from the other side.

Thanks to all for an interesting discussion

John H

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California Crab Season Closure for 2nd year in a row

California Crab for commercial fisherman will be closed due to a toxic algae.  Not sure is this is due to La Nina/drought weather patterns or something larger.  I know ocean temps have been warm the last couple years here.  We caught Yellowtail  outside of San Francisco, that is very rare.  

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Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television

Folks who were intrigued by Mark's suggestion to do away with our televisions might find useful food for thought in a book from four decades ago, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. http://amzn.to/2gAuDN1

We still have a TV but this book definitely influenced how much TV we let our kids watch.

When I was young I knew a fellow whose father made him "earn" his TV time by practicing his violin. If he wanted to watch a half-hour show, he had to practice for half an hour. If he wanted to watch TV for an hour, he had to practice for an hour, and so on. He could bank his time if he wanted, but every hour of TV had to be matched by an hour of violin practice. This had two effects: He was one of the best players in the school orchestra, and he became very selective and opinionated about what TV was worth watching!

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Just once....

You know, just once I'd like to see these supposed scientific luminaries that apparently can transcend time and physics actually publish their groundbreaking results and show all of us benighted scientists who have worked on thousands of research projects over the last 120 years how mistaken we are. Why do they hide behind waving arms and turgid prose when they could have everlasting fame by just actually publishing something lucid in a peer-reviewed journal. Nature and Science would be salivating to publish such a manuscript! All you need is math that adds up and logic. Why do they limit themselves to paltry thousands of dollars from fossil fuel industry sources when they could be raking in millions on speaking circuits as saviors of the planet? Geniuses beyond measure.

It is amazing how easy it is to conclude that everyone is wrong from the safety of an armchair, never having to do any real work, visit these out of the way places, or work for years on end tediously extracting data from hard won samples. Heck with such powers they might as well cure cancer and figure out cold fusion in their spare time. Trivial problems, since labs and prototypes aren't needed, should be doable by the weekend, don't you think?

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Our End is Baked Into The Cake - No Solution To This One

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.  I have never commented on ACC but thought I might add some cheery thoughts to the discussion as I am prone to do now and again.  Your answer to my question confirms what I understand to be true about ACC, it’s causes, and the solutions:

1.       There is no solution to population growth. ACC’s root cause is the number of people on the planet and the consumption of energy resources that implies.  There is no solution to population growth that is morally acceptable and every field of human endeavor increases the population.  Education, agriculture, medicine, etc. all strive to increase life spans, quality of life, and create better living conditions that inevitably contribute to increased well-being and the ability to support a family.  Most people on the planet want to prosper and have a family – ask any 20 year old on the planet (hipsters aside).  Additionally we are biologically programed to procreate – so I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.  Even with birth control and abortion we are going to grow in number.  As you point out, war and disease cannot stop the exponential function.  Population growth will continue inexorably because everything in the system is trying to create the conditions for population growth.  The situation that you describe “more deaths than births over the long term” isn’t going to motivate normal people – that’s not how we are wired.

2.       There is no substitute for fossil fuels.  As we have all identified on PP.com there is no reasonable substitute for fossil fuels in the short or medium term.  Only price can lower their consumption but at some point we will burn every tree in the forest for energy as a substitute.  We need to travel, cook, heat, etc. and some form of energy (releasing CO2) will be used.  I drive an electric car, have an (almost) zero energy home, and compost etc. but I know that these things took a ton of energy to create, and cost a lot of money.  Without fossil fuels we are doomed in the short run.

3.       There is no realistic chance of the global coordinated effort that is required to stop ACC.  Economic incentives require global cooperation or a tyrannical system that enforces mandates on the dissenters.  Corruption and government ineptitude will destroy these “systems” and they have zero chance of being widely and effectively instituted.  Rogue states are not likely to participate in such schemes.  Carbon credits and taxation schemes are complicated, cumbersome, and suspect.  World governmental bodies are ineffective and an effective world governmental body is more frightening than ACC.

4.       There is no fair way to reduce carbon emissions in the developing world.  The third world is going to have a real problem with reducing energy consumption and standards of living to “save the planet” after we have run at 7000 rpm for the last 150 years.  They are living on $2 a day and walking a bucket of filthy water from the river to their hut.  If the diesel pump puts out CO2 they don’t give a rat’s ass.  Try explaining all these fine points to the people of Haiti – if they have the money they are going to increase energy consumption.

5.       There is no consensus on ACC.  I know you all point to the scientific consensus that exists – but regardless of the quality of that evidence or the breadth of the “consensus” there are real questions, doubts, and fraud that muddy the waters enough to keep the existence of ACC in question.  We don’t have a gravity thread here at PP.com, but there are thoughtful people AND scientists in the world who disagree with the consensus view.  The complexity of the systems in question make the underlying causes of observable phenomenon difficult to blame.

I’m not saying ACC doesn’t exist.  I’m saying that we cannot stop it.  It’s as if we are trapped on an island with diminishing food supplies and someone has suggested that we stop eating to solve the problem.  It’s not going to change the facts – only the timeline – and only if no one cheats.  I’m not advocating an all or nothing approach – just that we cannot change our inevitable future.  Mankind and this planet have an expiration date and an appointment with annihilation that was planned from the beginning of time.  It was never intended to run indefinitely and we are observing that process now.

Sorry,

Rector

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Rector got one thing right IMHO

ACC is not the problem, it is but one symptom.  

I for one have exited the ACC debating club, permanently.  If we don't stop consuming petroleum products like there is no tomorrow, there simply won't be a tomorrow that looks anything like today.  Peak energy is a guarantee, even if ACC isn't.

The core problem is population as in over population (overshoot).

Secondarily, humanity seems locked into absurd consumption patterns.  Doesn't anyone understand the word enough?

Can you look at pictures like this and consider advertising benign?  Is this humanities core purpose in life?

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population

Well, we know from experience one solution to population explosions.  Educate women.  Birth rates go down everywhere that happens.  If immigration rates aren't counted, European population is now below replacement and the US is close if not below replacement.

Quote:
5.       There is no consensus on ACC.  

There may not be a popular consensus in the US, but there is just about everywhere else.  How else do you explain the amazing unanimity of the Paris accords?  

In the scientific realm there is a large consensus, period.  The naysayers in the scientific community can probably be counted on two hands and can accurately be described as the usual suspects.  As Mark has pointed out, if they have valid objections, they should do the studies and publish them in the peer reviewed literature.  The Koch brothers will reward them handsomely.

As someone pointed out, we have entered the post fact era.  So, science may no longer matter.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/11/the-relationship-between-womens-e...

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This

Mark Cochrane wrote:

You know, just once I'd like to see these supposed scientific luminaries that apparently can transcend time and physics actually publish their groundbreaking results and show all of us benighted scientists who have worked on thousands of research projects over the last 120 years how mistaken we are. Why do they hide behind waving arms and turgid prose when they could have everlasting fame by just actually publishing something lucid in a peer-reviewed journal. Nature and Science would be salivating to publish such a manuscript! All you need is math that adds up and logic. Why do they limit themselves to paltry thousands of dollars from fossil fuel industry sources when they could be raking in millions on speaking circuits as saviors of the planet? Geniuses beyond measure.

It is amazing how easy it is to conclude that everyone is wrong from the safety of an armchair, never having to do any real work, visit these out of the way places, or work for years on end tediously extracting data from hard won samples. Heck with such powers they might as well cure cancer and figure out cold fusion in their spare time. Trivial problems, since labs and prototypes aren't needed, should be doable by the weekend, don't you think?

This. This, a thousand times over. If you aren't publishing papers and producing evidence that can be tested and tested and tested by your peers - by which I mean people who have spend most of their lives involved in that specific field of knowledge - you have no business weighing in as if you are an expert. The scientific experts are those who bloody their knuckles in the field, and I'm sorry, but even if you are a molecular chemist that doesn't make you an expert in anything but molecular chemistry. I'm a lifelong student of global, mostly European, modern history (the last five hundred years or so). If I range outside that area of expertise, I try to do so cognizant of my more limited knowledge in those fields, and while I may posit or discuss economics here, I am no expert and try to point  that out when speaking.

By all means, discuss your opinions ad nauseam, but if a person wants to counter environmental science's findings, then by all means they should become an environmental scientist and go at it, but do so in the manner that gives their findings actual scientific validity and opens them up to slicing and dicing by other experts in the field, or they should stop acting like they know better.

Funny that we seem to be the only nation that is still debating the science behind this whole thing. 

And not to pick nits, but if you claim to show videos that refute the science "in a convincing manor," please explain how "a large country house with lands; the principal house of a landed estate" has anything to do with the topic.

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By and large, for some things there is consensus...

... but for a lot, there is NOT consensus; and a lot of the NOT has to do with concern over what to do about it. 

You ask, how was there such unanimity at the Paris accords, and I am going to answer that the key is that "accords" is a political word, and it is EASY to get consensus in politics, compared to in science.  You either kill the opposition, or you don't invite them in the first place, or you find yourselves in groupthink after a time. 

Moreover, I am going to categorically state that if there is consensus, then it probably isn't scientifically valid.  To be scientifically valid, there SHOULD be room for disagreement somewhere.  Doesn't mean that the next generation won't accept that as doctrine... maybe they will.  But the real science goes on at the boundaries.

Scientific consensus isn't normal; it is incidental, to the point that certain scientists agree "this is no longer worth studying... we need to move on."  But then others come back, and perhaps say, "this deserves another look."

FWIW, I do think that a HUGE portion of our global warming/cooling situation is anthropogenic.  So I actually meet the "consensus" end.  But I wish "Scientist" politicians would stop beating others on the head for continuing to be slow about leaving the battlefield.  They are right to be slow, and the rest are right to move on.

As I shall do now.

newsbuoy's picture
newsbuoy
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 10 2013
Posts: 184
Waiting for the barbarians

“...The desiccation of our liberal institutions ensured the demise of our capitalist democracy. History has amply demonstrated what was to come next. The rot and political paralysis vomited up a con artist as president along with an array of half-wits, criminals and racist ideologues. They will manufacture scapegoats as their gross ineptitude and unachievable promises are exposed. They will fan the flames of white supremacy and racial and religious bigotry. They will use all the tools of legal and physical control handed to them by our system of “inverted totalitarianism” to crush even the most tepid forms of dissent. 

The last constraints will be removed by a crisis. The crisis will be used to create a climate of fear. The pretense of democracy will end.”...

http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/waiting_for_the_barbarians_201611271

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pyranablade
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
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Posts: 178
I like Chris Hedges

Thanks for the link Cello

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Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 2480
Great Barrier Reef suffers worst ever coral bleaching

From CNN.com:

Australia's Great Barrier Reef suffers worst ever coral bleaching

Coral across Australia's Great Barrier Reef has suffered its most devastating die-off on record, a new report says.

In just nine months, bleaching caused by warmer water has killed around 67% of the coral in a previously pristine part of the reef, one of the natural wonders of the world.
"We've seen three bleaching events (in the reef) and each time it can be explained by where the warm water was," the report's author, ARC Center of Excellent for Coral Reef Studies Director Terry Hughes, told CNN.
 
"In the north, the summer temperatures got up to two degrees above the normal maximum and that caused severe bleaching," he said.
 
Extensive aerial surveys and teams of divers were used to map the bleaching, which covered a length of 700 kilometers.
Hughes said it could take up to 15 years for coral to grow back to previous levels.

The full article can be read here.

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aggrivated
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
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Posts: 457
Resiliance-evolution-change-mobility-adapatation-relearning-and

My big takeaway from this podcast and the following comments is the need to be responsive to the changes coming our way. More than that to be looking for "a hole in the line" to run through. Between the entrenched mindset of the established governments and their economies and the deep devotion of most of the world's population to having what they offer, the juggernaut of climate and fuel supply changes ahead of us will put those who plan to survive into a nomadic (mentally and likely physically) mode of life.  Time to tribe up and get your Dunbar number unit in action. 

John H's picture
John H
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Joined: Jan 17 2011
Posts: 14
There is always another point of view

That is one of the big problems with climate science, it is extremely complex no expert can understand it all let alone the public. Re Adam Taggart's post see below for just one counter.

Great Barrier Reef: 5% bleached, not 93% says new report “discrepancy phenomenal”

http://joannenova.com.au/2016/08/great-barrier-reef-bleaching-5-bleached-not-93-says-new-report-discrepancy-phenomenal/

Jo Nova lives in Australia and would be a perfect guest for your show as she is very well spoken. Also her Husband is a Climate Scientist.

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ezlxq1949
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 29 2009
Posts: 131
Reef NOT damaged, sez political party

The One Nation party in Australia (which has seats in Federal parliament) asserts that the GBR is not being bleached, and that climate change is a hoax or least that its effects are being greatly and even wilfully exaggerated. The party recently invited people to tour the Reef with them and see for themselves that it's alive and well. Yeah, but the area they invited people to visit is 1,000 km south of the damaged areas.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/11/25/reef-fine-hanson-says-afte...

I lack the time and resources to make a rigorous assessment of the claims regarding climate change, but on the basis of what I do have time to read and analyse, I conclude that climate change is a real and growing problem.

I am gloomily confident that the business-as-usual paradigm will prevail until it's far too late to extricate oursevles from it.

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davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 4006
anatomy of a "Paid Persuader" approach

Here's the overall strategy I distilled from John H's posts:

1) There is always another point of view.  (Message: my opinion on scientific matters is just as valid as yours, regardless of your expertise; alternatively, my expert is just as good as whoever you bring up - regardless who pays their salary).

2) I try and listen to both views with an open mind.  (Message: if you don't listen to what I say, its because you are closed-minded).

3a) This is not really a good forum to argue this complex issue.  (Gosh.  I lost that one...or...)

3b) Yes I could easily come up with several papers, articles, and scientist would would refute most of this video and in convincing manor.  (Message: lost that one too; pivot to...)

4) It is clear to me the scientific process has been corrupted in climate science and it is now more of a political issue than scientific.  (Message: I put scientists on the same level as politicians, whom we know are all lying scumbags)

5) I used to believe in the theory of climate change but changed that point of view say 5 or 10 years ago.  (Message: I have credibility because I used to believe in the witchcraft, but now I know the truth, and I can lead you to the promised land if you just listen to me.)

6) I am very concerned we are looking at spend many trillions of dollars on a issue that is really only a minor problem and even if catastrophic climate change is real, these efforts will not work.  (Message: its either a minor issue, or its soooooo huge we might as well give up; please ignore the cognitive dissonance)

7) It seems there is a very narrow tolerable point of view and deviation is not allowed.  (Message: equating scientific consensus with thought control).

If John H isn't a paid troll, he should be - why give away for free something that's worth good money if offered to the right customer.

These are all talking points I've heard before, and they've been relayed in just a few posts, and wrapped in a package that's psychologically comfortable.  The whole "I used to believe" was just perfectly done.

Whoever sculpted this troll-strategy, hats off to them.  Some serious psych went into the approach.

I wouldn't call myself a serious climate change person, but the one thing I really don't like is when some company or organization pays people to come and try to change my opinion under false pretenses.  It makes me think there is probably a lot of truth to the whole thing.  Like Big Tobacco and addiction.  Anyone remember this?

We must be an important site after all.

treebeard's picture
treebeard
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2010
Posts: 562
Hate repeating myself

We are a species with a lot of potential, but I will again start to hope for a relatively "small" catastrophic event to wake the folk up.  Until then, all bets are off.  People voted against the latest economic catastrophe, HRC and the neoliberal global agenda, not for climate change denial obviously.  At some point enough of us will realize that working with the biosphere and other members of our species is the best recipe for "economic" success.  Perhaps humanity will grow past our "terrible twos" and stop throwing tantrums.  Behave like adults!? heck, a generally well behaved adolescent would be good enough. 

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Snydeman
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2013
Posts: 296
Fortunately

As I sit here in central Maryland enjoying a near 70 degree late-November day - more the norm now than the exception, these kinds of bizarre-weather days - I am struck by how much the environment couldn't care less whether we "believe" in these changes or not. It's not a religion, it's scientific fact, and it is coming to smack us and our fragile civilizations in the head. Our ability to willfully deny the obvious is both amusing and insane.

The planet? Oh, it'll be fine. It has survived far, far, far worse than we humans can dole out - even our paltry nuclear technology, which the planet would absorb within a time scale we can't even fathom - but we humans will likely not survive if we continue to mess up the very systems that sustain us.

With gorilla gone, will there be hope for man?

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 22 2010
Posts: 457
Paradigm error?

Is it possible to have an economy based on burning fossil fuels that doesn't harm the environment? By definition the environment we are wanting to maintain is the one we currently have. Burning millions of years of sequestered carbon over 200 years has changed the soup we live in. Any effort now to slow that burn rate feels useless, so it's easier to deny the change. What stage of grief is that?

Humanity's greatest tool is fire. That is the paradigm that has informed thousands of years of civilization. It may not be possible to have a civilization without fire, but some form is possible on much less.

Until humans learn to work from a primary paradigm of reverence and respect for this planet we will continue headlong into a hell of our own making.

newsbuoy's picture
newsbuoy
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 10 2013
Posts: 184
Just as I suspected

You have my sympathy, good luck.

Anthony Watts Blogger

wattsupwiththat.com

Willard Anthony Watts is an American blogger who runs Watts Up With That?, a popular climate change denial blog that opposes the scientific consensus on climate change.More at Wikipedia 
Born:1958 (age 57–58)
Nationality:American
Alma mater:Purdue University (no degree earned)
Occupation:Blogger, business owner, broadcast meteorologist
Years active:1978-present
Employer:KPAY-AM
Known for:Viewpoints on climate change

Still pissed-off he missed Woodstock.

hcg's picture
hcg
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 28 2016
Posts: 2
the scientific theory that's too big to fail?

Catastrophic global warming is a failed theory.  It's in it final death throes and revival is futile at this point.  For many geologists, it never had legs to begin with.  Too many complex confounding  factors that derail the simple linear problem as presented.  The only thing that would have given it credibility is if steeply rising CO2 levels could be shown to be associated with steeply rising temperatures, both recent and historical.  This has never happened.  There's way too many black swans and the lack of significant warming over the last nearly 20 years is the cincher.  The politicization of this has been a shocking example of how science can be bent to satisfy special interest groups.  The classic clue has been the lack of data presentation throughout the debate.  Co2 related global warming cannot be treated as a story to be told around the dinner table.  It's data, and thus should be presented on graphs.  There are reams of graphs available for all aspects of this issue.  They DO NOT support the theory.   Never have.  There's a plethora of environmental issues that deserve our attention if we wish to maintain a habitable planet.  This issue has been a total waste of time and energy and has served to keep us fully diverted away from the real issues.

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Michael_Rudmin
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 697
"... that derail the simple linear problem..." HCG

Perhaps your problem is your sense that the atmospheric catastrophic global warming is a linear problem.  We never believed it was.  

Google "multistable strange attractor". Look at images, or the video above.

That doesn't mean the theory is bunk.  Google Lorentz strange attractor; and although you will see youtube videos showing chaotic behavior, it is still bounded chaotic... but those bounds may still allow for catastrophic global warming.  Catastrophic for us, that is.

treebeard's picture
treebeard
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2010
Posts: 562
failure of creative imagination

The idea the homo sapiens are not part ecological structures of planet earth is one of the many divisions that needs to be healed.  That we "discovered" fire does not make us the natural enemies of the biosphere.  Fire is a natural part of forest ecosystems, has been for millions of years.  We are as a species not in place where we can take reasoned and considered action to avert problems before they become serious.  We are barely able to avoid self annihilation, let alone problem solve planetary problems collectively.  That we think so is the worst bubble of all. Reality is a great teacher, unfortunately, in the present moment, only when it bloodies our nose and knocks us on the ground. So that is just what it will do.

That we will need to suffer this is something we need to have great collective compassion for.  Only when we have nearly destroyed each other and the world around us will things once again become precious to us.  The opposite of love is not hate, but fear which breeds all manner division, violence and destruction. It is the lowest center of consciousness. Fear is rising, and violence and conflict will rise with it. Being against something is not enough, that is a failure of our collective imagination. It is an easy path that is well traveled that eventually leads nowhere. In visioning a view of the future, much more agreement, cooperation and compassion can be developed.  It is our best hope.

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