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Kevin McKinney

Thanks for a clear and sensible statement about the 'whys and wherefores' of this blog!

You spoke for me with this statement:

"I think I could be labeled as an 'alarmist', although 'alarmed' would be more precise." Like you, I think the reasons for alarm are quite substantial--unfortunately.

Greenunitedstates.blogspot.com

You hit the nail squarely on the head when it comes to continual economic growth. This is the thinking that is behind the euro crisis, the hysteria and resistance to changing from a fossil fuel energy infrastructure to renewables, efficiency and conservation, and the impossible hoarding of wealth among the richest.

And it is all based upon fear of change. And, absurdly, fear of changing BACK to a life in harmony with the planet, rather than in perpetual war with it.

marsto

Did I misunderstand, or did you claim that the Arctic sea ice is melting because some people don't have the means to "fully develop as a human being"? I admire your data compilation, but I think you've made a 'great leap forward' if you'll pardon the pun.

Neven

You misunderstood. :-)

I don't pretend to know it all. This is just a summary of my theories so that people know where I'm coming from and can then decide for themselves if they agree or not with what I'm saying about the Arctic sea ice and other things. The more you know about a source, the better you can judge its trustworthiness.

Neven

But to answer your question: I suspect that the Arctic sea ice is melting because in our culture freedom is equated to doing whatever you like, without limits. But in my view that's not at all what freedom is about. I can now make a leap to the neoclassical economic concept of infinite growth, but it's best if I leave it at this.

Oh, and welcome BTW.

Llosmith57

Neven, Thank you for sharing a little about your concerns and hopes for the future. My passion for trying to do something about AGW is my family's future. Like you I garden, albeit, on a small scale. I find it practical and relaxing in our fast paced world. I have been involved in AGW since the late 1980's. Even then the evidence collected and published in Congressional Research Service memos left no doubt about the direction that the Arctic and planet Earth would follow. Since then it has been a long uphill struggle to educate and remove the barriers to change. I am so glad for your blog. Perhaps change will start here. Keep up the good work. You are on the right path. Thank you again.

Neven

Thanks, Lloyd. I also garden on a small scale, but hope to crank it up as soon as we've found a place to live.

Account Deleted

My passion for trying to do something about AGW is my family's future.
I think that is why a lot of people have gravitated to Neven's site.

I also "garden" but it is part of my job and at a scale that I can offset my/my families emissions. Just working out how many seeds/seedlings I need to collect to offset my up-and-coming flights (I generally don't fly, but these ones can't be avoided).

Seke Rob

Just ordered 2 electric bicycles on Saturday... range maximum, if peddling along, up to 180km, top speed 25 miles/hour, if you support peddle hard enough [much much lighter], and powerful enough to scale our steepest salita [with the bag-rack packed with groceries, up to 25kg]. Estimated cost, 4 cents per charge. Sure it still burns FF from the power stations, but in a wholly more efficient manner [they're running anyhow at night...lowest cost 00:00-07:00AM]. That's what we do in latest active *greener* move. The car did 2,500 km in past 12 months, the rest we do on foot, push bike [much less now] or public transport... 1 Euro for 90 minutes, or 2.80 Euro for unlimited day use. Round trip Rome [450km return] by train, 27 Euro pp. No competition as the toll road is already 35 Euro for a return, apart from fuel and the waste of time on finding a parking space. Public transport use saw a 40% subscription rise in past 12 months, but then, we have a public transport dense network, priced as a basic service for all to afford. Sadly, being greener is still a 'if you can afford', but sure enough all lights in the house are no-longer incandescent and apparatus, in off, not standby when not in use. Many small amounts add up. This is what we could do so far in the personal sphere.

Artful Dodger

Hi Rob. Wow, that is phenomenal range for an ebike, even with vigorous pedal assist. Would you mind sharing the brand/model name? Perhaps a link?

Cheers, Lodger
(ebike since May 2000 ;^)

Seke Rob

Kalkhoff, KTM, A2B to name a few [latter we had cancelled on us... could not deliver]. Some of these are `must peddle´ or they wont propel.

This is the said range champion, not something we´d do on any normal trip: http://www.kalkhoff-bikes.com/int/en/models/2012/category/e-bike-3/subcategory/e-activity-2/model/agattu-c8-hs-impulse-8-g-nexus-1.html

Espen

Be aware :: Forget about the link above, it is only spam!!!!!!

Neven

Thanks, Espen. Deleted now.

Pachacuti1

Neven,
from one "alarmed" to another, thanks for your continuing efforts to bring these things to the public attention.
On the subject of society's addiction to economic growth, you may be interested to watch (and promote?) a very useful film called "Growthbusters - Hooked on Growth" by Colorado film maker Dave Gardner. http://www.growthbusters.org/ It deals in depth with this subject and is currently gaining traction on the film circuit in the US and elsewhere.
Another source of insights that might interest you and other bloggers is a book that I published recently. "pachacuti" is environment and philosophy in a novel and explores in fiction form the global social and environmental issues we must grapple with and the fundamental human impediments to action - an exploration of sustainable social values. http://pachacuti-thebook.com/ I'd be more than happy to post you a free copy in recognition of the work you are doing. My own website with blog and forum can be found here http://www.pachacuti.com/ Pachacuti.com seeks to use the entertainment media as a vehicle for social change message.
Please keep up your valuable contribution.

Martin Gisser

On economic growth Michael Tobis just said it on planet3.org:

The steady state economy would be achievable except for the deep-seated integration of “growth” into how we manage our “finances”.

The problem is compound interest. It seems to be inherent to financial management that the phenomenon of interest arises. But I can't say I understand that. There's an interesting 1200p. German book by Karl-Heinz Brodbeck that claims to have solved the enigma of interest: It arises because "nobody" knows where the additional money is made (e.g. in the darkness of Congo c19/20th, e.g. by taxing the future with negative externalities, ...)

Chuck Simmons

"a finite system can grow forever and will sooner or later run into limits."

There are different levels of 'finite'. I have a finite amount of memory in my computer, but I can do a pretty fine job of simulating a Turing machine. Yeah, the heat death of the universe is coming, but there's a lot of energy we'll be able to consume before then.

And many times it's hard to figure out where the limits are. Malthus thought we might run out of food, but we figured out how to increase production. Natural Gas was getting kinda expensive in the U.S. until some high oil prices pushed us into new technologies that will boom natural gas production for at least a few years.

Renewable energy technologies, PV and Wind, which are based on manufacturing and not on mining are likely to have a much different growth rate than we've seen in the energy sector before.

In California our perennial droughts and unsustainable mining of aquifers is pushing cities into full fledged water recycling. It's still looking like an open question whether agriculture will be decimated in California, or whether we will extend the California Aqueduct up to the MacKenzie River, or whether we will figure out that we can afford to purify sea-water into drinking water.

So, yes, if you're growing too fast next to a near-by hard limit, you're going to have big problems. But we've got a lot more mental and labor resources at our disposal than the Eastern Islanders (or the Haitians) had.

If we don't collapse in the next generation or two, we're likely to see a number of our current looming limits greatly recede.


And it's not: "oh my god we're a consumer driven material society because corporate america has brainwashed the world"... It's more like: I like warm showers; I like being able to get a glass of water in the middle of the night without walking a mile down to the river. I like having a sprinkler system to keep my yard green and fruitful.

navegante

Well put, Chuck. I was a lurker for a long time and I found very few people with a more positive position like you. Now be ready to be called denier, from the dark-side, or worse by some.
I have been concerned with global warming since

I was a teenager in the 1980s. Everthing was seen in a 10 year horizon. It is 2014, and things (political and social awareness) have actually improved in US and Europe a lot (not the global warming problem, yet. In Arctic bacause warming will continue).

I love (and want to share) your positive vision. I dont think you will convince many ones here, political positions are very radical behind the scientific presentations of the blog (these are very good).

jdallen_wa

In my view, Engagement of the problem with the hope and expectation of an (eventual) positive outcome is the only rational, practical choice.

What needs to be made clear, when stating this, is that a positive approach is not the same as a positive outlook.

People will seize upon this and presume the approach implies a lack of danger. It is needful that We as communicators and translators disabuse them of that fallacy.

A positive outcome requires active engagement. We will mitigate harm to the degree by which we act with alacrity and commitment.

Mdoliner43

Right now atmospheric CO2 is roughly 400 ppm. That means the energy budget ( insulation -radiation) is positive.
First question: If we held CO2 to present levels, at what temperature does this value become zero? If this is too high for human life we are already finished.

Secondly: methane and CO2 are escaping from melting permafrost. The rate is a function of temperature and its escape increases temperature. Thus this feedback seems to be exponential. If this is so, it makes little difference that the present value is small. Greenhouse gases and temperature will continue to increase ever more swiftly to a maximum temperature, far about humn tolerance.

Second question: what can stop this feedback from producing runaway global warming?

Third question: If the answer to 2 is “nothing but reduction of CO2 levels,” then, are there any viable methods for CO2 recapture.

If the answer to the third question is “no,” then kiss your ass goodbye.

Mdoliner43

Insolation, not insulation

Neven

I will just respond to Chuck Simmons' comment, as he kicked this page up. The page is just meant as an 'about me' to show people where I'm coming from, which makes it easier for them to judge my writings. Transparency is very important, especially in a controversial debate like the one concerning AGW. For further discussions about CO2 levels, consequences and policy, I would kindly ask you to go to the Arctic Sea Ice Forum (link on the top right).

---

Chuck, I totally agree with you that one should always act as an optimist and that it is definitely possible that we solve our current conundrum(s). But to solve a problem you have to know what the cause is, and you have to solve it with new thinking, not the old thinking that caused the problem to begin with.

This means that the symptoms can only be countered if the root cause is understood and eliminated. In this case, I believe it's the dominant theory of infinite GDP growth - the parameters of which are arbitrary - that needs to be overhauled, in order for the problems that emanate from it to be halted and then reversed.

It's like a house. We've built this wonderful house, but we now must choose whether we keep on adding stories to it and take on more and more tenants, or whether we want to stabilize and reinforce our foundations so that the house remains as wonderful as it is, no, even more wonderful, because strong houses get more beautiful as they become older.

Chuck Simmons

Neven: "infinite GDP growth" is a difficult paradigm to eliminate because it is so attractive and so magical. Infinite GDP growth says that I can completely replace our carbon based energy infrastructure with Wind and PV while lowering energy costs so that I can desalinate ocean water (in an environmentally friendly fashion) so that we can continue to have agriculture in California, and so that I can have a backyard garden (even a lawn!) on the San Francisco peninsula.

Infinite GDP growth is the only way I'm going to have my cake and eat it too.

On the other hand, I think you can put together a strong argument that (1) growth that solves old problems inevitably produces new problems, and (2) as growth accelerates (The Singularity is Near), you have less time available to identify and solve problems before crashing into a wall.


Navegante: I'm not worried about people on Neven's Blog and Sea Ice Forum calling me a "denier". I've trolled over at Watt's Up With That and the difference between the intellectual stimulation Neven's community provides and what Watt's community provides is quite remarkable.

Interestingly, I think Watt's community gives Neven a lot of ammunition: a full 50% of the population seems to have a hard time seeing the looming problems and helping us steer around them. On the other hand, Neven's community gives Watt a lot of ammunition: there are a lot of deep thinkers that can see the shoals we are heading towards.

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