Feb 17 2010

Bill Gates: the Most Important Climate Speech of the Year

Kal @ 16:09

From Alex Steffen at WorldChanging:

When We Talk Zero, We Sound Crazy. When Bill Gates Does It, Bankers Pick Up the Phone.

On Friday, the world's most successful businessperson and most powerful philanthropist did something outstandingly bold, that went almost unremarked: Bill Gates announced that his top priority is getting the world to zero climate emissions.

And Friday, Gates predicted extraordinary climate action: zero. Not small steps, not incremental progress, not doing less bad: zero. In fact, he stood in front of a slide with nothing but the planet Earth and the number zero. That moment was the most important thing that has happened at TED.

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Category: Climate Change | Economics | Population | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Dec 21 2009

Der Spiegel reporter tell Inhofe: “You’re ridiculous.”

Kal @ 12:16

Oklahoma is proud of him, or at least some of them are. From Climate Progress:

Sen. Inhofe (R-OIL) has mostly become a laughingstock on this continent.  He’s made absurd statements attacking military leaders trying to warn about the dangers of human-caused global warming (see Inhofe trashes generals who advocate for bipartisan clean energy legislation: They crave “the limelight”).  Heck even the Palin-embracing Washington Post mocks Inhofe as “the last flat-earther.” Not it turns out he’s a laughingstock on two continents now, as made clear in this Think Progress repost.

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/_6k4oCOrsOBE/SiqLQOR7m_I/AAAAAAAAAM4/IgauOfsTpwY/s400/bozo-copy2.jpgBack in September, godfather of global warming deniers Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) announced that he would be going to the U.N.’s climate change summit in Copenhagen this week to present “another view.” “I think somebody has to be there — a one-man truth squad,” he said. His “truth squad” later expanded to three, with Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) joining in.

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Category: wingnuttery | Sustainability | Politics | Climate Change

Nov 19 2009

A Plan to Power the US NOW 100% Without Imported Oil

Kal @ 11:27

This radical idea comes from John Michael Greer on his blog in a piece titled: Facing the Deindustrial Age

Thus it's one thing to try to find some way to power today's industrial system with renewable sources while leaving intact the structures of everyday life that give our civilization its extravagant appetite for energy. It's quite another thing, and much closer to the realm of the possible, to use renewable energy to meet the far more modest energy requirements of an agrarian society. Especially in North America, restating the question in this way opens up immense possibilities. Very few people who live on this continent, for instance, have noticed that it's only our energy-wasting lifestyles that keep us dependent on imported oil -- with all the unwelcome economic and political consequences that brings. Even 35 years after its own Hubbert peak, the United States is still one of the largest producers of oil on Earth. If the average American used only as much energy per year as the average European, America would be exporting oil, not importing it. Only our insistence on clinging to the dysfunctional lifestyles of an age that is passing away keeps such an obviously constructive goal off the table in discussions of national energy policy.

I will repeat the money line for emphasis: If the average American used only as much energy per year as the average European, America would be exporting oil, not importing it.

Of course, cutting consumption is not the only thing we should be doing. We should be adding renewable energy sources as fast as they can be manufactured until only the most basic transportation needs are powered by oil. If we limit the use of fossil fuels to powering airplanes, we probably have enough to last quite a long time.

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Solar | Resource Depletion | Politics | Economics | Climate Change

Nov 5 2009

A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables

Kal @ 10:23

From the November 2009 Scientific American Magazine. Download the Full Paper from paper by Jacobson and Delucchi.

Key Concepts
Supplies of wind and solar energy on accessible land dwarf the energy consumed by people around the globe.

The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.

The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.

Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.

In December leaders from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to try to agree on cutting back greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. The most effective step to implement that goal would be a massive shift away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources. If leaders can have confidence that such a transformation is possible, they might commit to an historic agreement. We think they can.

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Category: Sustainability | Steady-State Economics | Solar | Resource Depletion | Politics | Peak Oil | Climate Change

Nov 5 2009

It is not possible to continue infinite consumption and infinite population growth on a finite planet

Kal @ 09:15

There is a new movie out, “Collapse” – staring Mike Ruppert. It got a review in The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal: What is the central message of your movie?

Mr. Ruppert: It is not possible to continue infinite consumption and infinite population growth on a finite planet.

Duh!

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Steady-State Economics | Resource Depletion | Recession | Population | Peak Oil | Economics | Climate Change

Oct 24 2009

Jay Hanson – America 2.0

Kal @ 22:34

AMERICA 2.0!
By Jay Hanson, 10/6/2009 (minor revisions on 10/14/2009)
This paper is hereby placed in the public domain and may be reprinted without further permission.
Original here

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
—Benjamin Franklin, 1776

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.”
—James Madison, FEDERALIST #57, 1787

ABSTRACT

The “bad news” is that “peak oil” marks the beginning of the end of capitalism and market politics because many decades of declining “net energy” [1] will result in many decades of declining economic activity. And since capitalism can’t run backwards, a new method of distributing goods and services must be found. The “good news” is that our “market system” is fantastically inefficient! Americans could be wasting something like two billion tonnes of oil equivalent per year!!

In order to avoid anarchy, rebellion, civil war and global nuclear conflict, Americans must force a fundamental change in our political process. We can keep the same political structures and people, but must totally eliminate special interests from our political environment. A careful review of the progressive assault on laissez faire constitutionalism and neoclassical economics, from the 1880s through the 1930s, explains how this can be done legally and without violence. These early progressives showed how we can save our country. All that is lacking now is the political will. I call this adjustment of our political environment “America 2.0.”

To achieve America 2.0, we must first separate and isolate our political system from our economic system so that government can begin to actually address and solve societal problems rather than merely catering to corporate interests. The second step is to retire most working American citizens with an annuity sufficient for health and happiness, as government begins to eliminate the current enormous waste of vital resources by delivering goods and services directly. This would allow most adults to stay at home with their families but still receive the goods and services they need to enjoy life.


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Category: Climate Change | Sustainability | Steady-State Economics | Resource Depletion | Politics | Economics | Conventional Economics | Peak Oil

Oct 12 2009

Natural Capital -- living systems and ecosystems services - what we call resources

Kal @ 12:11

Capitalism that I can believe in. From: Worldchanging Interview: Paul Hawken, WorldChanging Team, 25 Sep 09

Three years before the book came out, I had written an article called "Natural Capitalism," and coined the term. And what I was writing about was Natural Capital, and that was (coined) by E. F. Schumacher. And what he was trying to say, as an economist, was (take a) look at this form of capital -- living systems and ecosystems services, what we call resources. We don't put this on the balance sheet of the world. We count it as zero, until we cut it down, extract it, mine it, kill it. And then it has value. But before we do that, it has zero value. That's crazy. It has more value before we touch it.


So, then it goes to Herman Daly, and what Herman Daly was saying is that the limiting factor to human prosperity to the world wasn't human productivity, but the productivity of our resources because we are in a resource restrained world caused by our industrial systems taking so much, so often and for so long. Therefore, when you have an economy and you see what the limiting factors are to development, then you work on maximizing what is limiting. And what is limiting to us isn't people, we have lots of people, too many some may say.

… Basically we are using less and less of what we have more of, and with natural capital, using more and more of what we have less of. And we are using more of it (natural capital) to make people more productive, to use less people. So this is upside down and backwards, we should be using more and more people to use less and less natural capital.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Population | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Sep 11 2009

Solar Can Power The World

Kal @ 09:50

 

Surface Area Required To Solar Power The World

September 3, 2009

Surface Area Required To Power The World Using Solar Panels Alone - Click for larger image

 

 

According to the United Nations 170,000 square kilometers of forest is destroyed each year. If we constructed solar farms at the same rate, we would be finished in 3 years.

 

 

From the NY Times, 9/9/2009

$4.1 Billion in Orders for Thin-Film Solar

Since its founding in 2002, Nanosolar has raised a lot of money – half a billion dollars to date – and made a lot of noise about upending the solar industry, but the Silicon Valley start-up has been a bit vague on specifics about why it’s the next big green thing.
On Wednesday, Nanosolar pulled back the curtain on its thin-film photovoltaic cell technology — which it claims is more efficient and less expensive than that of industry leader First Solar — and announced that it has secured $4.1 billion in orders for its solar panels.
Martin Roscheisen, Nanosolar’s chief executive, said customers included solar power plant developers like NextLight, AES Solar and Beck Energy of Germany.
The typical Nanosolar farm will be between 2 and 20 megawatts in size, Mr. Roscheisen said in an e-mail message from Germany, where he was attending the opening of Nanosolar’s new factory near Berlin. “This is a sweet spot in terms of ease of permitting and distributed deployment without having to tax the transmission infrastructure.”
Nanosolar, based in San Jose, Calif., has developed a solar cell made from copper indium gallium (di)selenide. The semiconducting materials and nanoparticles are contained within a proprietary ink that makes it possible to print flexible solar cells on rolls of cheap aluminum foil.

Nanosolar details  (pdf)

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Resource Depletion | Sustainability | Solar

Sep 10 2009

Global warming is a hoax – it is actually getting cooler

Kal @ 09:44

Things I get in my email:

Hey troops;

As long as we're at it, let's go to www.accuweather.com, and get back into this issue of Global Climate Change.  These guys have the statistics backed by ACTUAL records, showing that we are actually cooling.  Let's see where they are wrong.

Greg

There is a story, possibly true, that if you put a frog in a pan of water on the stove and gradually heat up the water till it is boiling, the frog will just sit there and let himself be cooked. This seems a little unlikely to me, but it is a well known story. Either way, if you put a lid on the pan the temperature in the pan will go higher than if there is no lid. (In the water it will only go to 212F, but above the water the trapped steam will be a lot hotter than no trapped steam.)

For our purposes, you are a frog in a large, very complex, pan heated by the sun. And the pan is moving so nothing is constant at any one point. When it is heating up in the north it is cooling in the south, to name the most obvious of the variability factors. Happens every year. Up, down, lots of clouds over Montana, cooler there. Drought and no clouds over western Australia, warmer there. Lots of local variability.

On your particular pan there is a partially one way, mostly transparent, lid called The Atmosphere. Some heat does escape back out thru this special lid; the chemical composition of the gasses in The Atmosphere determines the percentage that escapes. This is pretty basic science and does not seem controversial to me. CO2 is one of the main gasses that determines how fast the heat escapes, there are others as well, but CO2 appears to be the main one.

Weather is interesting and looking backward from, say 10,000 years in the future, weather statistics will have painted a meaningful picture. But local weather statistics, for the less than 100 years of their existence, are almost meaningless. Interesting, but not much good for extrapolating the future. Feel free to learn what you need to know about statistics and science to become your own weather and climate expert. As for me, I have other things to do, but I can understand what the vast majority of weather experts have said, and that is that temperatures are rising and are destined to rise even faster.

Global warming is about the lid on the pan, not local weather variability. CO2 has been building up at an ever increasing rate all during the industrial age as we burned carbon at an ever increasing rate.

Weather variability does make it very difficult to prove that the atmosphere is heating up. What is not difficult is to see that glaciers are disappearing around the world and the polar ice caps are getting smaller. Is it the cooler weather that is doing it? Must be if we are actually cooling.

And it has also been shown conclusively that CO2 in the atmosphere has been building at an ever increasing rate. I do not find it difficult to understand that changing the atmosphere will result in changed weather. What is so hard about that?

Inconvenient as global warming is, I think we should do whatever is necessary to minimize the carbon buildup that is the source of the problem.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Politics | Sustainability | wingnuttery

Jul 9 2009

Unemployment is too low

Kal @ 13:37

Last week the official US unemployment rate reached 9.5%. Of course, this includes only those "actively seeking work." Or another way to think about it is those with remaining unemployment insurance benefits to collect. The actual number of unemployed is thought to be between 16% and 20%, and rising.

Given the common belief in "full employment is a good thing", these numbers are pretty depressing and way too high. But that is not the only possible perspective.

From the point of view that mostly those persons engaged in the basics of life should be employed, then perhaps the number should be around 50%. The basics: Food, Shelter, Transportation, Communication, and Security. Of course, there are other important things, but generally speaking they are luxuries. Some people should clearly be working on luxuries, but it is unreasonable to expect all of our excess labor to be so employed.

The main problem comes about because we have coupled the notion that it is necessary to have a job to have a life. As things stand now, to be unemployed is almost a disgrace. Well, maybe for a few weeks but then folks start to see you a bit as if you had the swine flue. Don't get too close, it might be catching. And nasty things start happening to you, your car and house payments come delinquent and soon you are walking on the street. Or maybe lucky enough to have relatives who can help and you are driving an old wreck and living back at home.

But it does not have to be like that. All of the folks who live here have to be supported in one way or another. Even the tea-baggers mostly agree with that. Why not do it with dignity and relieve the pressure on the planet to keep everyone running at full blast just to keep up a decent lifestyle?

Of course, those folks who go to work every day should get more than those who get to go fishing. Maybe we can even find a way to share the fishing time as well as the work time. But do we really want to put our family, friends, and neighbors on the street just because the economy is winding down a bit to a more rational level?

Tags:

Category: Economics | Employment | Guaranteed Wage | Politics | Recession | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability