Jul 3 2009

Crap and tax

Kal @ 20:46

More grist for the wingnut emails series mill, again from Greg. Congratulations Greg, at least this one was original and not just something forwarded.

Just a few links to show what a fraud Gore and the Dems are on this "Crap and tax" bill coming up tomorrow.  These are off of the first page when you Google "how much money does al gore stand to make if cap and trade legislation passes  We effectively will be ultimately taxed for breathing out Carbon Dioxide, which is NOT a pollutant, and only comprises .038 of our atmosphere.  When we breath we exhale, when a plant breathes this "Pollutant" in, it produces Oxygen.  Big brain exerciser here, why should we be taxed for this?  The whole thing is a scam designed to control us and small business, and is another form leading to Socialism.  It has nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with Gore and his asshole cronies getting rich.

He then includes links from several very questionable sources and one from Bloomberg. Note the query that Greg uses to produce them and it is no wonder the query produces pretty strange stuff.

First the strange ones:

Two from humanevents.com which bills itself as: Headquarters of the Conservative Underground. It is clear we can expect unbiased reporting from there. The lead author appears to be a lobbyist for the defense industry.

One from stopsocialism. Stop socialism? I guess this is about religion after all. If socialism works better than capitalism, perhaps we should adopt it.

One from greenhellblog.com promoting a book of the same name. Everyone knows how the environmentalists are out to destroy the world.

Greg, do you really expect us to take these folks seriously?

Gore Invests $35 Million for Hedge Funds With EBay Billionaire comes from Bloomberg. This one is about Gore having $35 million to invest when he only had about $2 million when president. It is clear he has made more money than me, but what has that got to do with cap and trade or global warming?



Category: Climate Change | Politics | Resource Depletion | Sustainability | wingnuttery

Jul 2 2009

What If I am Wrong on Global Warming?

Kal @ 09:21

Publisher: Robert Rapier posted at Thursday, 02 July 2009 07:15:12 Writing in The Oil Drum

Another question I think a lot about is "What If I am Wrong on Global Warming?" I come down on the side that human activity is contributing to global warming, yet the scientist in me reminds me that "conclusions are tentative." But each camp has elements that feel – all too often with religious fervor - that the other side’s position will lead to either environmental or economic devastation. So we get a lot of vitriol in this discussion, which I don't like.

If the Al Gore contingent is correct, then we are facing some very major problems. As I have written before, I don't expect us to be able to rein in carbon dioxide emissions, so I see a future with ever higher atmospheric CO2, and potential environmental devastation if Al Gore is correct.

On the other hand are those who believe that human activities play little or no role in global warming. They view the opposition as putting global economies at risk by putting a price on carbon emissions. While I think environmental devastation is a much worse consequence than economic stagnation, the impact of that could be pretty severe as well.

What I would prefer to see – instead of two opposing camps dug into bunkers and tossing verbal grenades at each other – are more open minds on both sides. I would like to see the sides posing the question “What if I am wrong?” Another good question to ask in these sorts of debates is “Is there any evidence that would convince me that I am wrong?” I don't know what scientists will say when they look back at this issue a hundred years from now, but I don't want to see the debate squelched by those who shouted the loudest.

In conclusion, I never discount the possibility that I could be wrong about any number of things. I would say that precious few of my views are embedded in granite. That's why I write; to discuss, debate, learn, and change my mind when reason dictates that. But before you decide to respond to this essay with a strongly worded opinion, ask yourself the question “What if I am wrong?”


Category: Climate Change | Resource Depletion | Sustainability

Jun 9 2009

Al Gore - Putting his house in order

Kal @ 16:32

This is another in my WingNut Email series, and once again, hat tip to Greg for sending it along. Another came from Murray yesterday, but it was just to bizarre to even try to make sense of so I did not bother to write about it. Something about how the Obama Cairo speech failed to indict all Muslims for the invasion of Europe in 732.

The email lays out in great detail various facts about Al Gore's large house in Tennessee, including that it is large and old and uses a great deal of electricity and natural gas to keep it going. I have not been able to find the date of building. Or of the email either, it is also apparently badly out of date.

The email then points out that the former Bush ranch near Crawford, TX is very energy efficient. What it does not mention is that the Bush ranch was purchased just in time for the presidential election as a stage prop, was never lived in by the Bush family, and was abandoned/sold even before the Obama inauguration. It was used for vacations and photo sets.

The point of this and other attacks on Gore seems to be that 'if Gore is not a saint, then global warming is a hoax', and besides, Al Gore warmed up the planet single handedly, so na, na, na-na, na. Of course global warming is not about Al Gore, or even George Bush, but it is still kind of fun to poke holes in the hypocrisy of pieces like this. 20090609 gore solar panels

This photo is of the solar panels on the roof of Al Gore's house and was found in Tree Hugger dated 6/12/2007. So anyone circulating the current email has had plenty of time to get it right.

The following is from Drew Johnson On Al Gore’s House

The Gores honored Earth Hour by shutting off the lights at their residence. The heating and air conditioning were turned off as well. But more importantly, the Gores live in a Gold LEED certified home, powered by geothermal power. They have undergone renovations to put solar panels on the roof and participate in all of the renewable power programs offered by their local utility. They aren’t perfect, no family is, but they do their best, year-round to try to make a difference at home and across the country to make a difference on the climate crisis.



Category: Climate Change | Morals | Politics | Solar | Sustainability | wingnuttery

Jun 8 2009

Food Not Lawns

Kal @ 12:00

Yesterday as I was driving here in Santa Cruz, there was a large banner on a wall with the slogan, Food Not Lawns.

This is not exactly a new concept, after all, there is now an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn. And thoughtful people everywhere are planting a bit more in their home gardens this summer. But what if the front lawn fell out of fashion? What could be done with all that sunshine, fertilizer, and water?

I found an article in the Orange County Register written by Cindy McNatt: Cities and businesses, how about losing the lawn?

We've been asked as homeowners to cut back on water use, lose the lawn, get greener, reduce green waste and go organic. The California Friendly Garden Contest acknowledges some of these efforts.

I'm not sticking up for front lawns here, but think about this: Many homeowners use their lawns for family fun and entertainment. For possibly half the population of people who keep a lawn, it serves a function —- at least in the backyard where games are played and canines romp.

Compare the family lawn to the acres of grass planted around commercial buildings, public medians and retail stores. No children playing kick ball, no dogs rolling in the sun, no one catching a nap or picnicking under a shady tree.

Nick Mrvos of the Irvine Ranch Water District tells homeowner groups, "If the only feet that make contact with grass are the guys that mow it, it might be time to consider alternatives."

It doesn't matter how large or small the commercial landscape is, you will no doubt find a strip of grass that needs to be mowed each week. Some swaths we saw were so large they might equal 25 or more typical homeowner lawns. Others were so small they didn't even make sense.

I doubt there is a way to measure how many acres of "silly strips" are planted in grass, but if you spend any time in HOA neighborhoods, or the commercial areas of your town, or even drive through the local takeout restaurant and notice the stupid strip of grass in the planter, you wonder how it adds up in resources. 

Greenbelts are not "green" anymore. Tom Larson, adviser to the Metropolitan Water District said these parkways were designed on the East Coast in the 1800s for storing excess snow. Don't you think it's time to move on?

Commercial building owners could save thousands a year in maintenance fees if they lost their lawns. Ditto for homeowner associations where shrubs and ground covers could be maintained once a month instead of weekly. Cities that need to cut back expenses could lose the grass in purposeless places.

Ron Vanderhoff said, "These greenbelts are from a bygone era. Water, chemicals, runoff, excess fertilizer, green waste, herbicides, air pollution, fossil fuels used all add up to a big mistake in today's era of using less resources and protecting the resources that we do have."

So how 'bout it then? Can cities, HOAs, and commercial property owners pitch in?  [emphasis is mine]

Let's use this estimate, half the population of people who keep a lawn, and try to guess how much productive land could be freed up.



Category: Employment | Morals | Recession | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Jun 7 2009

Sea Levels Are Rising: It's Time to Decide Which Coastal Cities Are Worth Saving

Kal @ 12:02

For many purposes, April 17 would be ancient history. Unfortunately, climate change is likely to be causing us problems for a good long while, and precious little is being done about it.

By Scott Thill, AlterNet. Posted April 17, 2009.

Since April Fool's Day expired, there has been nothing but bad news about Earth's various ice shelves circulating through the news. Antarctica's Wordie and Larsen ice shelves? The first is simply gone, and the second is disappearing fast. How about the Connecticut-sized Wilkins shelf? It has fragmented into polar pieces after the ice tether holding it to the Antarctic peninsula snapped this week, signaling that the Earth is undergoing some profound changes.

... "Sea-level rise will change the character of the California coast," Pacific Institute Senior Research Associate and study co-author Heather Cooley, told AlterNet. "My sense is that there are areas we will protect and areas we will abandon. We need to begin the process now."

The Pacific Institute's analysis is a sobering combination of science, statistics and maps illustrating the ravages of inevitable sea rise that will result once the Antarctica and Arctic melts pass their tipping points, so to speak.

But scanning its Google Maps mash-up of California's drowned cities feels like something out of science fiction. A Californian myself, I noticed more than a few areas housing my relatives and friends inundated by the Pacific Ocean, but that's just a personal tragedy.

... Wall Street, a few meters above sea level, will also be swallowed, along with much of New York City, as ocean circulation winds down in the Atlantic, subjecting the Northeast to hyperviolent storms and surges.

... Whatever we decide to do with the Golden State, Cooley and crew suggests we do it quickly. There’s no time to waste, given that we've already wasted so much energy, money and atmosphere living our lives outside of the reality dictated by our natural environment.


Category: Climate Change | Resource Depletion | Sustainability

Jun 5 2009

From a Failed Growth Economy to a Steady-State Economy

Kal @ 10:15

Excerpted from a post on The Oil Drum.

A steady-state economy is incompatible with continuous growth—either positive or negative growth. The goal of a steady state is to sustain a constant, sufficient stock of real wealth and people for a long time. A downward spiral of negative growth, a depression such as we are entering now, is a failed growth economy, not a steady-state economy. Halting an accelerating downward spiral is necessary, but is not the same thing as resuming continuous positive growth. The growth economy now fails in two ways: (1) positive growth becomes uneconomic in our full-world economy; (2) negative growth, resulting from the bursting of financial bubbles inflated beyond physical limits, though temporarily necessary, soon becomes self-destructive. That leaves a non-growing or steady-state economy as the only long run alternative. The level of physical wealth that the biosphere can sustain in a steady state may well be below the present level. The fact that recent efforts at growth have resulted mainly in bubbles suggests that this is so. Nevertheless, current policies all aim for the full re-establishment of the growth economy. No one denies that our problems would be easier to solve if we were richer. The question is, does growth any longer make us richer, or is it now making us poorer?

I will spend a few more minutes cursing the darkness of growth, but will then try to light ten little candles along the path to a steady state. Some advise me to forget the darkness and focus on the policy candles. But I find that without a dark background the light of my little candles is not visible in the false dawn projected by the economists, whose campaigning optimism never gives hope a chance to emerge from the shadows.

We have many problems (poverty, unemployment, environmental destruction, budget deficit, trade deficit, bailouts, bankruptcy, foreclosures, etc.), but apparently only one solution: economic growth, or as the pundits now like to say, “to grow the economy”-- as if it were a potted plant with healing leaves, like aloe vera or marijuana.

But let us stop right there and ask two questions that all students should put to their economics professors.

First, there is a deep theorem in mathematics that says when something grows it gets bigger! So, when the economy grows it too gets bigger. How big can the economy be, Professor? How big is it now? How big should it be? Have economists ever considered these questions? And most pointedly, what makes them think that growth (i.e., physical expansion of the economic subsystem into the finite containing biosphere), is not already increasing environmental and social costs faster than production benefits, thereby becoming uneconomic growth, making us poorer, not richer? After all, real GDP, the measure of “economic” growth so-called, does not separate costs from benefits, but conflates them as “economic” activity. How would we know when growth became uneconomic? Remedial and defensive activity becomes ever greater as we grow from an “empty-world” to a “full-world” economy, characterized by congestion, interference, displacement, depletion and pollution. The defensive expenditures induced by these negatives are all added to GDP, not subtracted. Be prepared, students, for some hand waving, throat clearing, and subject changing. But don’t be bluffed.

Second question; do you then, Professor, see growth as a continuing process, desirable in itself-- or as a temporary process required to reach a sufficient level of wealth which would thereafter be maintained more or less in a steady state? At least 99% of modern neoclassical economists hold the growth forever view. We have to go back to John Stuart Mill and the earlier Classical Economists to find serious treatment of the idea of a non-growing economy, the Stationary State. What makes modern economists so sure that the Classical Economists were wrong? Just dropping history of economic thought from the curriculum is not a refutation!

It is well worth reading the full post.


Category: Accounting | Politics | Population | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Jun 2 2009

The free market will solve all your problems and save all your sins

Kal @ 02:58

The planet is warming up, there is no debate on that.

People have polluted the planet, there is no question of that.

Should we clean things up and stop polluting as much as we have, probably a pretty good thing.

Is Global Warming caused by human pollution, and to what extent? That, is still up for debate, despite what many people want to say. If you have an open mind and look around you'll find out that a lot of the arguments are not really substantiated. How you react to it is your choice, but like a lot of other things, don't be shoving it down other peoples throats. I do what I can to try and lessen my impact on the planet, it's not what hard core green types would be impressed with, but it's also a lot more than most people do.

In the end some things might have to be legislated by the government, but most things should be handled by a free market economy. Help things get close to break even a lot of people will spend their own money to fill in the rest.

From Alan in an email exchange in response to Pied Piper Tunes - But the tunes may change

Congratulations on your green efforts! Every little bit helps. And, yes, Alan, there is debate, that is true, but from what I can see the folks who think Global Warming is caused by anything other than human pollution are mostly limited to those for whom the truth is too inconvenient.

Alan is a lot more rational than some of the others in that email exchange were, but he is apparently willing to wait around another thirty or forty years for the "free market" to solve the problem before letting some things be legislated by the government. Never mind that we have no time to spend dithering about whether to call the fire department. The house is already burning. According to an article in Nature, International weekly journal of science:

More than 100 countries have adopted a global warming limit of 2 °C or below (relative to pre-industrial levels) as a guiding principle for mitigation efforts to reduce climate change risks, impacts and damages.

... less than half the proven economically recoverable oil, gas and coal reserves can still be emitted up to 2050 to achieve such a goal.

More than 100 countries, seems like the debate is pretty much over. So waiting around for even one year before doing something seems pretty stupid to me. Or maybe the truth is just too inconvenient?



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

May 30 2009

Pied Piper Tunes - But the tunes may change

Kal @ 12:48

This somewhat whimsical drawing of the Pied Piper was sent to me in an email without credit to the artist.20090530 pied pipe I blew it up to 800% in an attempt to read the signature, but when it was big enough to read, the characters were too broken to decipher. I believe the first name is Bill, so thanks Bill, I will give you a link if I find out who you are.

The email itself used this drawing to depict Obama as ruining the good old US of A by his proposals to limit the distance between the masters and the slaves wage slaves. It was a clever, nasty, hit piece circulated under the guise of humor.

There were a couple of good points hidden in there, although the anonymous author missed the problem because of focusing on the relief to poor people aspects.

We'll just print more money so everyone will have enough! But our foreign trading partners said, "Wait a minute. Your dollar isn't worth what it was. You'll have to pay more."

Between Bush and Obama administrations, the financial elites have been bailed out to the tune of something like three trillion dollars. And all the indications are that more trillions are in the works. So yes, the market for US backed securities is drying up and the costs will go up. But it has little to do with the somewhat wimpy energy and social programs proposed by the Obama administration.

Meanwhile - The planet is getting warmer.

Potsdam Institute For Climate Impact Research discussing an article in Nature, International weekly journal of science.

On the way to phasing out emissions: More than 50% reductions needed by 2050 to respect 2°C climate target

The Obama administration has lots of good ideas and lots of good and clever people. This administration would have been a vast improvement over Reagan in that time. That was before the impossibility of perpetual growth became so obvious to so many. But the reality is that "restarting the economy" is not such a great strategy for this time. Instead we need to totally restructure the economy to take account of the newly obvious reality that compound growth for ever is not possible.

A friend responded to the pied piper email as follows:

> the heat is rising out there
The heat is rising in the midwest for the same reason it is rising in Darfur and the Caribbean (a little storm over New Orleans, remember?): Global warming. And getting worse because no American politician has had the guts to take on the coal, oil and car industries. At least Obama understands the problem and is talking about it.
Reagan cozied up to Margaret Thatcher (she had the oil at the time), Bush 1 knocked heads in Kuwait/Iraq, Clinton fought a Republican Congress and Bush / Cheney turned a deaf ear, squandering 8 precious years. Where was Jimmy Carter when we needed him?!
Monetary "wealth" won't be worth much when ice slides down off Greenland and Antarctica, and the Amazon goes poof. Physical ecosystems are what make life possible, and we've been ripping them off for centuries. Soon we're going to pay the piper, and he won't look very much like the character in your cartoon.


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

May 23 2009

Real Economics - Prosperity Without Growth

Kal @ 11:59
There is a report (136 page pdf) out by the Sustainable Development Commission, a British organization, "is the Government's independent advisory body on sustainable development." prosperity I found the reference in The Oil Drum.

According to the report, the current economic system, based on continuous growth is unsustainable. This is because the planet has limits. Resources, including energy, are exhaustible and because of medium-term environmental imbalances caused by growth will make human life more difficult or even impossible.

Therefore, contrary to all that is being advocated in the present crisis, we must find an economic and social system that should is not based on growth. At this time, prosperity is based on “consumption”, and on “property”. But happiness is not necessarily linked to the possession of material goods. The concept of “prosperity” must be reconsidered.

... Returning the economy to a condition of continual consumption growth is the default assumption of Keynesianism.

… that provide the means for people to flourish, and particularly to participate fully in the life of society, in less materialistic ways. And the chances of extending this behavior across society are negligible without changes in the social structure.

In summary, we are faced with an unavoidable challenge. A limited form of flourishing through material success has kept our economies going for half a century or more. But it is completely unsustainable and is now undermining the conditions for a shared prosperity. This materialistic vision of prosperity has to be dismantled.

... Summary in the review:

Growth is unsustainable – at least in its current form.

De-growth is unstable – at least under present conditions. (rising unemployment, falling competitiveness and a spiral of recession.)

The failure to solve this dilemma is the single biggest threat to sustainability that we face.



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

Mar 8 2009

The Great Disruption Is Here

Kal @ 14:27

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN has an article today that makes a whole lot of sense to me. He calls it The Inflection Is Near? He is talking about what I have called the new - "new world order".

Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ...

We can’t do this anymore.


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