Re: Like a pedicure for my soul

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We have two SUVs (one very old), but rarely drive more than 15 miles a day (combined across the two of us). I'd get one of those Volt things if it were cheap enough. We don't need two cars that can go more than 30 miles.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 6:48 AM
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Also, we have cloth grocery bags. So, we're clearly doing all that we could.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 6:59 AM
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Oh! I do have cloth grocery bags. I don't know why I don't spend more time congratulating myself.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:01 AM
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We've been wondering about that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:07 AM
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We don't need two cars that can go more than 30 miles.

You should have gotten that bike for Christmas Moby.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:07 AM
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I have string grocery bags that I crocheted myself while riding public transportation to work. (Actually true!)

I don't know why I even associate with all you moral lepers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:09 AM
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No bike. Hills, cold, and a pre-schooler stop that. Plus a fear of getting hit by a car.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:09 AM
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I ride the bus to work, and I'm a vegetarian, but I'm still fairly convinced I'm a horrible person.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:15 AM
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6. DFH!


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:15 AM
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8: Have you tried congratulating yourself more? I'm taking that on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:15 AM
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I use Conscience Credits from LB to drive 15 miles to my suburban work location (although I avoid doing so whenever possible!).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:24 AM
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I drive a hybrid, use the cloth grocery bags, buy wind credits from the electric company to power my house, recycle, am looking into solar heating.... and meanwhile, my boss spends his weekends on his boat, burning 6 gallons of gas an hour. It pisses me off that all my efforts to be good are basically canceled out by one Republican's recreational activities.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:26 AM
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Sugar in his gas tank?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:28 AM
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Damn. Sorry, JP, I think comment 13 used up all my conscience credits.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:29 AM
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I collaborate with the malign forces of global capitalism that keep the oppressed masses in poverty, thereby preventing millions of people from ever becoming significant consumers of energy or natural resources. In raw numbers, I'm doing more to forestall climate change than all you hippies.

Also, I take public transportation and separate my trash.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:32 AM
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I recycle jokes. Repeatedly.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:33 AM
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That's OK. Working from home today!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:35 AM
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I use solar power to heat my cats.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:35 AM
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13: My understanding is that sugar just clogs up the fuel filter, and to be effective you need to use corn syrup. But then I'd just be supporting Big Ag, and I don't want to do that.

Maybe I could use some sort of organic beet juice?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:36 AM
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But then I'd just be supporting Big Ag, and I don't want to do that.

No, no, it'd be like the (original) Tea Parties. Throw it away into gas tanks!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:39 AM
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Incredibly, here in DFHville they don't recycle glass. If I really wanted to save the world, I guess I'd buy beer in cans and wine in boxes.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:41 AM
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10, 15; I could tell myself -- at least you're a better person than Knecht.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:42 AM
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I do my part by repeatedly failing to get a job, thus obviating my need to commute.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:42 AM
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... And yet I would totally buy a zero-emissions vehicle like the Nissan Leaf if it were available and affordable. ...

According to wikipedia:

An EV recharged from the existing US grid electricity emits about 115 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven (6.5 oz(CO2)/mi), whereas a conventional US market gasoline powered car emits 250 g(CO2)/km (14 oz(CO2)/mi). ...

So the Leaf won't actually be zero emissions. And some gasoline cars (like hybrids) are quite a bit better than average.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:43 AM
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I'd better get a solar-powered charging station.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:47 AM
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and separate my trash.

I separate my trash into tiny little bits that I throw to the wind.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 7:57 AM
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Personally, I'm holding out for a nuclear powered car.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:02 AM
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I had the misfortune to read the car section of a major UK newspaper (can't remember which one) which offered "nothing shouts 'I have a barn in the country full of Ferraris' louder than driving a Prius" as advice to a stockbroker who was becoming somewhat embarrassed about his Porsche and enquiring as to less polluting options.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:03 AM
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I'm holding out for a car powered by love.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:03 AM
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25

I'd better get a solar-powered charging station.

Or you could support the construction of nuclear power plants.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:04 AM
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29: But that would mean one of those Killer VW Bugs. What to do?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:05 AM
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30: Honestly, the photos of birth defects in places where there have been spills, poor waste disposal, outright disasters, and regular old atomic bombs are so nauseating to me that I have trouble thinking rationally about nuclear power.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:06 AM
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30: In your backyard. IMBY - "Do it to me."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:06 AM
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It's so sad when a comment thread is won by comment #6.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:06 AM
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32,33: ooops ... never mind.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:07 AM
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I crashed my car, so now I don't even *own* one!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:07 AM
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'I have a barn in the country full of Ferraris'

See, I read that as a "barn full of ferrets", which would be much more entertaining.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:08 AM
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That is one musky barn.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:08 AM
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32: Because coal mining is so safe and neat. Because oil is clean? Let's compare the risks of nuclear power to something that actually exists or is likely to exist. And then put the nuclear power plants where poor people live so they don't have to mine coal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:09 AM
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36: NEITHER DO I!


Posted by: JOHN "ZOMBIE" DeLOREAN | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:09 AM
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39: Why are those the only options?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:10 AM
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I just don't see how you can ever dispose of nuclear waste, and it totally creeps me out.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:11 AM
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The natural habitat around Chernobyl has really benefited from the removal of humans. If you truly loved nature you'd support nuclear power accidents.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:11 AM
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39: Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They moved Mt. Fuji
And put up a breeder reactor.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:12 AM
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41, 42: I'm not sure those are the only options. However, nothing but nuclear, fossil fuels, and hydropower (which has its own problems) are proven to be able to generate power on a large scale at a reasonable cost.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:15 AM
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One simple step that'd help would be a national standard for plug-in electrics and hybrids. Just the geometry of the connectors, the charging voltage and current, and some safety features. It'd lower the risk for companies looking to enter the market and would allow people to install charging stations in their garages knowing that they wouldn't have to spend a bunch of money next time they bought a car just to duplicate the already present functionality. It's impressive how really simple stuff like clear, uniform standards can lower barriers to bringing a product to market.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:15 AM
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One simple step that'd help would be a national standard for plug-in electrics and hybrids.

I agree. They need to make it so you can charge your car using a regular USB port.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:17 AM
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I bet 46 will be achieved when gas stations have an incentive to provide charging stations.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:19 AM
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And daddy won't you take me back to Shizuoka Prefecture
Down by old Mount Fuji near Suruga Bay.
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Westinghouse's reactor has blown it away


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:21 AM
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A national standard? No way, the market will sort that out in a couple centuries, thanks to founder effects and path-dependence. It's called evolution.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:21 AM
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Will gas stations be able to provide charging stations while still being gas stations? I'm not an expert, but high voltages and gasoline don't sound like a good combination. Starbucks should try to get into the charging station business since I hear the whole coffee thing has too much competition these days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:22 AM
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42: My Dad worked for decades in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; his claim was the best way to deal with nuclear waste was to feed it back into reactors and use it again. As long as its still hot, you can get power out of it. And you can significantly reduce the quantity of waste that needs to be dealt with.

I think the downside of that plan is that recycling second generation waste eventually gets you some quantity of plutonium, which has limited uses. Its basically only good for nuclear weapons, time travel, and blowing up the moon.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:22 AM
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I recall starry-eyed me talking to my dad (who works in a petroleum-related industry) in 2000 after I first read about the prospects of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The by-product is water. Water, Dad! Isn't that amazing?!?!

His steely response was something like, "That sounds lovely. Now we'll just need a hydrogen station to replace each gas station."

It was a real "Oh, duh" moment for me.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:23 AM
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Y'all continue on being earnest, I'm doing my part by "working" from home today. And I'm even wearing my warm slippers so I don't have to turn the heat up too high.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:24 AM
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I would be willing to pay for a magic car. I don't see what's so hard about that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:24 AM
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Its probably more useful to build your charging apparatuses into parking meters than into gas stations.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:24 AM
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A volgi apparatus?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:30 AM
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48: Gas stations will have an incentive to provide charging stations when there are enough vehicles to justify it. There will be enough vehicles when sufficient numbers of people buy them, and sufficient numbers will buy them when they are convenient to use, IOW when there are plenty of places to charge them.

Setting a simple uniform standard can have huge benefits. The Internet is a product of such standards. The alternative would be a patchwork of poorly interacting proprietary networks like AOL, CompuServe, and the like.

Standards are an excellent low cost minimally interventionist method of promoting technology development. The great thing is that they are non-coercive: All you need is a good standard and a requirement that government purchases conform to it, and companies will adopt the standard rather than piss away resource (and increase development risk) coming up with something that does the same job.

Good standards are the jujitsu of market interventions.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:32 AM
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And the greatest thing about standards is there are so many to chose from!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:34 AM
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I think Tesla's strategy will pay out: create an expensive luxury car that you only sell in urban areas stocked full of millionaires. The high price allows you to invest in the R&D necessary to bring the tech. to the mass market. Millionaires don't care about paying for their own charging point, and restricting sales to areas of high population density means limited range (and charging options) isn't such an issue.

In other news, there are electric car charging points in London. I have seen them with my very own eyes. Indeed.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:38 AM
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I'm tired of using other people standards, so I'm going to create my own HTML.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:39 AM
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Moby, you'll probably be finished before HTML 5. Which means there is a good chance the Internetz will adopt your standard in preference to the W3C's.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:40 AM
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I just want a reasonable gas tax.

I'm curious: where do the lot of you put the odds of coordinated global action meaningfully reducing carbon emissions in time to mitigate even some portion of projected climate change? Because personally, I'd say the odds are under 5%. Which means, of course, that barring some miracle technological breakthrough, I'm very pessimistic about the future, and think we need to be doing what we can to prepare to adapt to warming at the catastrophically high end of current projections. Oddly, I find this puts me on the side of conservatives in a lot of these conversations, because I think we do need to be pouring tons of resources into a search for some miracle tech (or, barring that, into adaptation strategies for surviving in a dramatically altered climate), since I really think that's our only realistic way out of this mess. Of course, I differ from conservatives in that for me this isn't an argument against cap-and-trade (or whatever else)--I'm strongly in favor of both.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:41 AM
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Gas stations will have an incentive to provide charging stations when there are enough vehicles to justify it. There will be enough vehicles when sufficient numbers of people buy them, and sufficient numbers will buy them when they are convenient to use, IOW when there are plenty of places to charge them.

All of this could be reasonably expedited by federally subsidized incentives.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:43 AM
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This is the kind of problem where I think I don't have anywhere near enough information to set numerical odds, and even making a numerical guess would, I think, give me a false sense of certainty. But I'm certainly very worried.

Adaptation strategies -- I'm not sure what that means, in terms of research. I'm expecting masses of refugees, as different places become either uninhabitable, or unable to produce enough food (or other exports to pay for food) to feed their population. So, strategies for the less affected parts of the world to absorb refugees?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:45 AM
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I drive a 1994 Volvo with 200K miles.

This is more virtuous than buying a new ZEV.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:46 AM
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66: How virtuous is a 1995 Jeep with 124K miles? Can I stop rinsing/recycling the apple sauce cups?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:48 AM
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66: I've heard that - is it just a landfill argument/emissions from productions argument?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:48 AM
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Yes. Generally buying new crap, and getting rid of your old crap, however green your new crap, is bad for the environment.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:49 AM
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And do I have enough left-over virtue to switch to a 60 gallon hot water heater?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:49 AM
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Except for 67. Keep rinsing, Hick.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:49 AM
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Generally buying new crap, and getting rid of your old crap, however green your new crap, is bad for the environment.

This dovetails wonderfully with my general strategy of doing as little as possible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:51 AM
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Amortization is missing-- if everyone buys a new car every 2 years, functional cars at the bottom of the chain are discarded, reused only if there's an exporter willing to ship them to Africa. There is a real environmental benefit to an aging hoopty ride, since fewer factories and less aggregate resource use. This amortization is not simple to do honestly, and so missing from most environmental discussion, but it's a significant cost.

Taking steel as the main input for a car, first-use energy cost of the steel in the car is equivalent to 100k miles of gas.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/efficiency/steel_data.htm, and that's before thinking about slag or aluminum or heavy-metal smelting byproducts. Al takes much higher temperatures and harsher chemistry.



Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:53 AM
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63

I'm curious: where do the lot of you put the odds of coordinated global action meaningfully reducing carbon emissions in time to mitigate even some portion of projected climate change? ...

My take . It seems likely that most or all of the available fossil fuels are going to get burned. Maybe not all the coal.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:54 AM
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I think we do need to be pouring tons of resources into a search for some miracle tech

I think you should be more explicit here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:54 AM
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I largely agree with your predictions, Shearer. You don't seem terribly troubled by them, though--why not?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:58 AM
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72: This dovetails wonderfully with my general strategy of doing as little as possible.

Mine too; I'm practicing it right now. But it is of course almost completely contrary to every current model of how to keep our growth-based economies going. And herein lies a huge dilemma*, the intractability of which makes me agree with Brock's pessimistic estimate in 63.

*Yes, there is growth via "smarter" rather than more stuff, a lot of which has happened and will continue to do so, but it ain't going to be enough.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:58 AM
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65

Adaptation strategies -- I'm not sure what that means, in terms of research. I'm expecting masses of refugees, as different places become either uninhabitable, or unable to produce enough food (or other exports to pay for food) to feed their population. So, strategies for the less affected parts of the world to absorb refugees?

As well as such coping strategies there are active mitigation possibilities to counteract the effects of CO2 emissions. For example injecting SO2 into the stratosphere to increase the earth's albedo.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:58 AM
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78: What could possibly go wrong?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:59 AM
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For example injecting SO2 into the stratosphere to increase the earth's albedo.

I wish this hadn't become the canonical example of geoengineering. It's completely insane.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:00 AM
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Within limits the rate of burning doesn't matter too much. So conservation doesn't help much if it just delays the time it takes to exhaust the earth's supply of fossil fuel.

I hadn't thought about that before. Interesting. I suppose you could say that catastrophic climate change is better later than sooner, but still a very good point.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:00 AM
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I agree with 79, but I do worry that we're going to have to take some big gambles like that at some point, if we realize it might be our only hope.

This thread is depressing me.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:01 AM
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For example injecting SO2 into the stratosphere to increase the earth's albedo.

Man, does that sound like something with incredible potential for backfiring. I'm very, very dubious about intentionally screwing with a large and complicated system that's keeping us alive without either a full and complete understanding of the implications, or a reliable and complete way of reversing the intervention.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:01 AM
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78: What could possibly go wrong?

I completely love these Doctor The Oceans or Fire Up The Atmosphere solutions to climate change. I know an old lady who swallowed a fly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:02 AM
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82: I miss stras. If he were here, he'd be doomsaying hard enough that it would turn into a fight over whether he was being silly, and I'd get distracted from the world coming to an end.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:03 AM
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(And to clarify 82, I don't necessarily mean that--I don't disagree with 80. But we might have to take real risks. Although we'll probably default to doing nothing instead.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:03 AM
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74: My understanding is that new discoveries and and improved extraction techniques of Natural Gas are currently increasing known reserves by the buttload. So we'll probably still be burning that long after sea levels rise. It beats burning coal, but not by much.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:04 AM
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I love how we live in a world where "tinker with the atmosphere on a large scale" seems more likely to work than "get a sensible bill through the Senate".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:04 AM
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What about solutions for increasing the earth's libido? Any promising ideas on the horizon.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:05 AM
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It is weird looking at your kids and thinking "This is going to be your problem. Hope you get through it okay." God knows what their lives are going to be like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:05 AM
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Maybe if we injected our senators directly into the stratosphere....


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:06 AM
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83: Not only does LB do my mass-transit-riding recyclable-bag crocheting* for me, she also provides the words behind my snark.

*And despite today's break, I hope you were crocheting like the wind yesterday as our little family clan collectively logged 850 miles in our various demon chariots.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:07 AM
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89: Liquor and dirndls. Same as always.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:07 AM
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You don't seem terribly troubled by them, though--why not?

JBS doesn't have kids does he? That is why I don't worry about it too much. I am going to be dead before the worst of it is going to be a problem and I don't have kids to worry about it screwing them over like LB.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:07 AM
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Actually, I was working on a hat yesterday. But I do need to do a bunch more bags.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:08 AM
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My wife promised to knit me a ski cap. I already have the scarf and it is toasty warm. But it's been too cold to go without a hat for long.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:09 AM
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I don't actually worry about my kids, because I believe the effects will be so disproportionately borne by people living in poverty. I am definitely extremely worried about them, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:09 AM
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90: Don't worry; if they get into a good college, everything will work out great for them.*

*(Not directed at your family personally I feel the need to add.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:09 AM
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Is crocheting your own bags really better for the environment than buying cloth ones? Why?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:10 AM
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Quit subtly pwning me heebie or I swear I'll go out and drive around the block 20 times. Fast.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:11 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:12 AM
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Your/our kids? Probably recognizable, if substantially less pleasant (the weather will be yuckier, food will be more expensive, some nice places won't be nice any more, stuff like that). We will have much less wealth, which means much less discretion and a lot more thinking and eking and finessing problems.

People in the rest of the world? Lots of them will starve and die in natural disasters. Their kids' lives will be very hard.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:12 AM
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76

I largely agree with your predictions, Shearer. You don't seem terribly troubled by them, though--why not?

Several reasons. I am not convinced the effects are going to be as bad as the alarmists claim. Some of the more pessimistic projections appear to ignore the fact that the amount of fossil fuels is finite. Actually I am more worried about peak oil which I expect to have more immediate and definite bad effects.

In general I don't worry too much about things that don't concern me (I don't expect any major personal problems from climate change) and which I can't do much about. And personally I hate cold weather which affects my ability to think rationally about global warming.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:14 AM
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I believe the effects will be so disproportionately borne by people living in poverty

This is surely true for mild to moderate levels of catastrophic climate change. But I'm not sure it holds under more extreme warming scenarios, which seem to be the most likely outcome.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:14 AM
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Adjusting the albedo is not a first choice, but it's a possible intervention to forestall catastrophe which has not been seriously considered due to lack of fear.

The real risk from warming is not loss of more coastal cities and some islands, but disruption od this poorly-understood and hard-to-measure set of currents as far as I can tell. That and desertification, also not well-understood as far as I can tell. Egyptian wheat fed Roman Europe.

SLowing down fossil fuel consumption makes sense since viable use of solar power is likely in the next generation or two, making coal a second rather than first choice. Burning natural gas instead of coal is about a factor of 2 in terms of CO2.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:15 AM
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Your/our kids

You got something to tell us, Megan?


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:15 AM
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99: I'm sure it's not, it just makes me more of a martyr. (Oh, maybe I could make up a story about how I'm making the bags out of thread, so avoiding the energy input in the weaving/sewing portion of manufacturing the cloth bags. And the muscle power I crochet with probably doesn't actually involve my consuming more food -- I'd be fidgeting or storing fat with that energy if I didn't crochet. But we're talking about an absurdly de minimus difference here.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:15 AM
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All of this could be reasonably expedited by federally subsidized incentives.

Including uniform standards for charging stations, coupled with tax incentives to install them. The alternative is, I fear, different charging standards for different manufacturers, each one tied in some complicated exclusive marketing deal to specific energy companies as the various companies try to use incompatibility to drive each other out of business. That's the kind of crap MicroSoft was trying to pull in th 1990s before the DoJ got involved.

I realize I'm a bit of a standards fetishist, but most people don't realize what an enormously powerful tool they are for spurring technology adoption. I'm all the more acutely aware of this issue having just come from visiting my sister in a country with poor standardization, meaning that simply plugging an appliance into the wall requires digging around to find adapters and transformers.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:16 AM
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I'm LB's sister-wife.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:17 AM
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80

I wish this hadn't become the canonical example of geoengineering. It's completely insane.

Do you have a link to a more detailed rebuttal?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:18 AM
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Hott.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:18 AM
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Adjusting the albedo is not a first choice, but it's a possible intervention to forestall catastrophe which has not been seriously considered due to lack of fear.

Of course it's been considered. Aside from being completely crazy from a geopolitical point of view (we can't get a treaty to reduce CO2 emissions, but you think we can agree on where to set the global thermostat?), there are some studies by climate scientists that show a world with a fixed average temperature but huge concentrations of CO2 and aerosols in the atmosphere is pretty dramatically different from a world with the same average temperature without the CO2 and aerosols.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:18 AM
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104: True, but I think those effects will be all wrapped up with and hard to distinguish from the effects of other megatrends like increasing neo-feudalism in the US and the battle between global private corporatism and global national corporatism (China).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:18 AM
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97, 98, 102: I may worry irrationally here. But my kids (and probably the kids of everyone else commenting here who has them) are among the very richest people in the world, depending on a very complicated and stable society. I don't have any completely thought out story for what's going to happen if global warming effects turn out really disastrous. But it doesn't seem impossible to me that it could involve the sort of political upheaval that would really fundamentally screw over people in our position, and in that of our kids.

(Now, there's a fair argument that that would be only just. But it's still a worry.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:20 AM
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83

Man, does that sound like something with incredible potential for backfiring. I'm very, very dubious about intentionally screwing with a large and complicated system that's keeping us alive without either a full and complete understanding of the implications, or a reliable and complete way of reversing the intervention.

As far as reversal goes, the SO2 washes out in couple of years (which is why volcano eruptions just cool for a year or two) so you can just stop injecting it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:21 AM
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109: Buck hadn't told me. (Actually, we're going to be moving a bunch of furniture in the next couple of months, so this could work out great.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:21 AM
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the SO2 washes out in couple of years

Where does it land?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:22 AM
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100: I want a bumper sticker that reads, "I'm needlessly revving my engine to heighten the contradictions" (or alternatively, "Kobe").


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:22 AM
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89

What about solutions for increasing the earth's libido? Any promising ideas on the horizon.

Bad idea. Reducing the population would help in lots of ways.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:22 AM
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Do you have a link to a more detailed rebuttal?

Not at my fingertips. The best I can do is this, but it's just a talk on unpublished (and, IIRC, pretty preliminary) work. I'm sure there are publications with similar punchlines, but I don't have time to look for them at the moment.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:23 AM
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Maybe we should just stop throwing virgins into volcanoes, causing them to erupt, and hence cooling the earth. Also, less virgins for the volcanoes means more virgins for the rest of us.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:23 AM
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As far as reversal goes, the SO2 washes out in couple of years (which is why volcano eruptions just cool for a year or two) so you can just stop injecting it.

At which point you get the full force of the warming from the CO2 you've been adding to the atmosphere, very quickly. Not a big deal if you've only been doing the SO2 injections for a limited time, but maybe pretty horrifying if you've been doing it for a hundred years.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:24 AM
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104

... But I'm not sure it holds under more extreme warming scenarios, which seem to be the most likely outcome.

Why do you think the worst cases are the most likely?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:25 AM
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121: We need bigger solutions. We could throw the cast of Jersey Shore into a dormant volcano and see if it won't erupt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:26 AM
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110: Acid rain. Those SO2 aerosols eventually fall to the ground and melt the flesh off your bones. OK, that's an overstatement, but screwing around with the atmosphere really has to be a last resort. Unanticipated bad effects are a near certainty.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:26 AM
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Of course it's been considered.

What's the best-funded pilot program? My basic perspective is that China and India will add electrical generating capacity as quickly as possible, which means burning a lot of coal.

Denial or claims of inevitable disaster are the most common public responses; maybe the climate community has some more intelligent policy proposal to adjusting the albedo after this coal is burned. I'd be interested to read it if there's a cite.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:27 AM
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Because the real life GHG emissions outpace the worst commonly modeled emissions scenarios. Right now we're on track to be worse than the worst model predictions.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:27 AM
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some more intelligent policy proposal to adjusting the albedo after this coal is burned

Give everybody a can of white paint and tell them to go nuts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:28 AM
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114: Yes, I do think that is what drives a lot of MC and UMC child-future-considering anxiety.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:28 AM
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128: Maybe with global warming it will snow a lot more in a lot more places. Albedo solved!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:29 AM
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130: I'm willing to stop sweeping the snow off my steps if that will help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:30 AM
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Cover your lawn with white crocheted blankets.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:32 AM
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I used to have a book of nice snowflake patterns.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:34 AM
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112

Of course it's been considered. Aside from being completely crazy from a geopolitical point of view (we can't get a treaty to reduce CO2 emissions, but you think we can agree on where to set the global thermostat?), there are some studies by climate scientists that show a world with a fixed average temperature but huge concentrations of CO2 and aerosols in the atmosphere is pretty dramatically different from a world with the same average temperature without the CO2 and aerosols.

You don't need universal agreement.

As for the effects, as I understand it the most damaging effect of global warming is sea level rise (caused by thermal expansion of the oceans) which would be eliminated.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:34 AM
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I don't really have much of a lawn. I'm too envirnomentally aware to live in a wasteful suburban plot, so I live in a densely built, walkable, urbanish neighborhood. And I hate dealing with plants smaller than trees, so I paved pretty much the whole of what lawn I do have.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:35 AM
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among the very richest people in the world, depending on a very complicated and stable society. I don't have any completely thought out story for what's going to happen if global warming effects turn out really disastrous.

I just spent the weekend with the CA adapation plan, so this has been on my mind. Mostly, I think we'll just get poor, and all slack will be taken up. By "slack", I mean things like eating meat, traveling, knowing large fauna exists, regulating the temperature in buildings. There will be a million expenses, big like the Pacific seawall, or little like combating annual algae blooms in your water supply. Those will add up, and overburden discretionary funding. Everyone will be poorer; worry and sickness and making-ends-meet will be much more prevalent, even for relatively wealthy Americans.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:36 AM
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I still haven't shoveled my driveway from that big snow two weeks ago. Because I'm an albedoist.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:36 AM
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114

I may worry irrationally here. But my kids (and probably the kids of everyone else commenting here who has them) are among the very richest people in the world, depending on a very complicated and stable society. I don't have any completely thought out story for what's going to happen if global warming effects turn out really disastrous. But it doesn't seem impossible to me that it could involve the sort of political upheaval that would really fundamentally screw over people in our position, and in that of our kids.

As I said above peak oil seems like a more immediate and definite threat.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:36 AM
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Why do you think the worst cases are the most likely?

Simple. 127 plus the fact that I don't think we're going to get any meaningful political action to slow emissions.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:37 AM
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137: And because you don't have a car.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:37 AM
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117

Where does it land?

I believe it would come down as acid rain. However we already put lots of SO2 into the atmosphere, just not into the stratosphere. So I don't think the amount of acid rain would increase significantly.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:39 AM
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127

Because the real life GHG emissions outpace the worst commonly modeled emissions scenarios. Right now we're on track to be worse than the worst model predictions.

My understanding is that this is untrue.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:41 AM
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I live in a tiny, poorly-heated Manhattan apartment, walk to work and most other local destinations, buy wind power from ConEd and carbon credits for most flights and don't eat a great deal of meat.

On the other hand, I also buy a lot of Apple products.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:45 AM
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Here you go, James. MIT's revisions to account for current emissions. (I guess that makes it the worst prediction out there, which is recursive. But.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:47 AM
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139

Simple. 127 plus the fact that I don't think we're going to get any meaningful political action to slow emissions.

Uncertainty about climate change comes in two parts. Uncertainty about future emissions and uncertainty about the effects of a given amount of emissions. My understanding is that emissions are not in fact running above the worst case projections. And I think the uncertainty in effects is larger anyway. The most pessimistic projections assume an unexpectedly large sensitivity to emissions. Why do you expect this?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:47 AM
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The most pessimistic projections assume an unexpectedly large sensitivity to emissions.

The error bars are big, especially at the high end. But, more importantly, the IPCC projections ignore slow feedbacks like melting permafrost and collapsing ice sheets. This is the main reason to suspect things can be worse than they project.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:50 AM
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143: Yes, but I compare myself to households with similar incomes who live in this same area. They mostly live in the suburbs, have houses twices as big as mine, yards 20 times as big as mine, drive newer SUVs, and buy new pants when the old ones get gravy stains.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:50 AM
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I believe the effects will be so disproportionately borne by people living in poverty

Sitting on the porch of my shed on my 20 acres in the mountains, I've been watching the ponderosa die. I think that the temperature and rainfall patterns have shifted just enough, and that my land is close enough to the elevation boundary line, that it's pretty much all over for my ponderosas. The small white pine - the ones that grew in too thickly when the big trees were all logged 75 years ago, are dying, too. So it's going to burn. I sit on the porch thinking "I've got, at best, 20 years of being young enough to come out here and enjoy this. I hope it lasts as long as I do"

So yeah, it won't hit me as hard as it will hit some poor sucker on a floodplain in south asia, but it'll hit. It's hitting right now. In related news, Albuquerque just buried a whole lot of stuff that was picked up by the city as recycling. They couldn't figure out what to do with it, the sorting failities were insufficient, so they let it sit. Then the state EID told them it was a health hazard, so it became landfill.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:51 AM
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...and buy new pants when the old ones get gravy stains.

Which reminds me that I've got a heap of old clothes to donate to Housing Works or something.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:52 AM
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The idea of having children strikes me at a visceral level as unethical at this point in the earth's history. Adopting is an option, of course.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:54 AM
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I don't think its necessary to assume or expect that the worst case scenario will happen to be concerned about it. What is important is to recognize that there is a significant risk of the worst-case scenario happening, and then to take the steps that would be necessary to mitigate or reduce that risk. However, there is a tendency to wave hands around and say "oh, it probably won't be that bad" - but this hand waving does nothing to actually mitigate or reduce the risk.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:55 AM
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On the OP: individual consumer choices do not necessarily distract from more important political work. Often, they reinforce it. For decades the government refused to get behind electric cars with changes to incentives and regulations because Detroit had the government convinced that consumers would never accept an electric car.

When you demonstrate personal commitment to green living, that sends a message to policy makers.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:56 AM
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151: I thought we were done with the airport security conversation.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:56 AM
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148 - Yes, exactly. Nice places will be broken and we will be markedly poorer.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:59 AM
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When you demonstrate personal commitment to green living, that sends a message to policy makers.

Yeah, just imagine what copuld happen if we had a president who turned the heat down in the white house, put on a cardigan sweater, put up solar panels, and started funding alternative energy programs. Imagine that this happened in the 1970s, and that he lost his re-election bid.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 9:59 AM
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When you demonstrate personal commitment to green living, that sends a message to policy makers.

"What a schmuck--they think they're making a difference, while I'm here writing new tax breaks for coal mining".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:00 AM
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155: If I'd have invaded Iran and had a less annoying voice, I think it might have worked.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:01 AM
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Yes, exactly. Nice places will be are getting broken and we will be markedly poorer.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:02 AM
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119:Bad idea. Reducing the population would help in lots of ways.

Comity on guillotines!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:02 AM
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148 - And it will be more expensive to have the not as nice places, because some one will have to pay for that fuel removal and firefighting capacity. With the loss of those trees, water will run off mountains faster, so aquifer levels will drop, so if you're pumping groundwater, it'll cost more. (Also, the floods downstream will cost money.) These are the small effects (between the catastrophic events) that will eat away wealth.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:04 AM
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a president who turned the heat down in the white house, put on a cardigan sweater, put up solar panels, and started funding alternative energy programs

I don't know why the thought hadn't occurred to me until now, but are climate-change worriers basically considered big wussies by the nay-sayers? That's just odd.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:05 AM
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153: Airport security is concerned with the appearance of mitigating risk, and has long since overshot its threshold of marginal usefulness.

The trouble with the climate change debate is that ignoramuses on the right wing view climate change as a binary option, with a probability either 1 or 0, and they've decided to consider the probability as 0 for reasons of convenience, entrenched financial interests, and cultural solidarity. At the same time, they've chosen to attach a much higher probability of disaster to the risk of airborn terrorism, which, for any given flight, is a lot closer to 0 than the magnitude of effort being put forth to prevent it would imply.

I wish I knew how to move the needle with these people. How much more helpful would they be if they could genuinely regard global warming as a 5%, 10%, or 20% risk, rather than viewing it as the 0% risk which they have conditioned themselves to accept.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:07 AM
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160: yes, well said. And I expect that as forests die, wood for construction will become scarcer and more expensive. I was horrified at the forest dying in the pacific northwest


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:07 AM
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162: I concur.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:09 AM
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More to 160 - If you're getting hydropower, there in the mountains, summer run-off may drop too far to sustain it. So you'll need new power for summer months, when you want to run your air conditioner because the days are much hotter for longer hours.

The streams will be hotter, so there won't be trout or salmon. Algae will kill amphibians.

These are the small effects, not the big ones, but they make us poor. Mitigation has got to be better than adaptation, because there's no freaking way we're going to adapt at a finegrained enough level to replace small nice things.

It will suck in lots and lots of ways.

However, kids from now might not remember how plush it used to be, so they might not mind as much.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:10 AM
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Currently 36 in Dallas
Next week lows:28, 19, 18, 24
Consistently coldest winter I can remember, none of the 65-75 degree breaks we usually get.

What global warming? Me & Cockburn!

Just kidding, although I do think the energy added to the atmosphere could affect weather in unpredicted ways. Maybe even climate, with increased cloud cover. But I generally accept the models.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:10 AM
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are climate-change worriers basically considered big wussies by the nay-sayers?

Real men know how to show that Gaia chick who's boss.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:11 AM
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Anyway, the kids that get that will be the lucky ones. They likely aren't starving, and I'm fairly hopeful that rich American society will still be stable, in the sense of no food riots and wars.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:14 AM
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I take it back, I don't accept the models.

I really think we will see, maybe in the next decade, various PO AGW indirect catastrophes (war, plague, depression, famine) that will reduce population and emissions...

well, actually these will likely be associated with an immediate spike in emissions. Shit.

I expect global population to go into rapid decline by 2015.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:18 AM
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I expect global population to go into rapid decline by 2015.

How long have you been expecting this? Does the date move with time?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:22 AM
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I trust nobody's models of anything as vast as climate. I do think that people (some of them anyway) have too much shit around, that using more energy than you need is wasteful, that life will smack people who expect that good trends will continue and bad ones will abate, and that being blithely dependant on a finite resource which is mostly located in politically dubious places is a bad idea.

Despite not being worried about global warming, I agree with most of the climate-people's prescriptions (especially a higher gas tax and spending to see about the viability of alternative energy sources). I guess this is my long way of saying that you can persuade people about various climate-related policy goals without convincing them of various climate models. There are sound realist foreign policy goals that require many of the same steps as people want to use to stop global warming. And there are long-standing currents of opinion for things like conserving wilderness and being frugal for your own sake. My guess is that co-opting these would be much easier than trying to convince everybody about the climate in 10, 50 or 100 years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:24 AM
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||

Holy shit, this FIOS thing is just as amazing as they said.

I will now go watch every episode of the Daily Show ever broadcast.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:25 AM
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172: You suck. How did you get FIOS before my neighborhood.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:26 AM
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?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:26 AM
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A year and a half ago I was told by Verizon that I could only have FIOS and not any other sort of internet access, so I went with the other company. It seems as fast as possible to me.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:28 AM
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179:A couple years, from back when I was wading thru the mountains of data and analysis at the oildrum blog.
That was one of their predictions, with the global population stabilizing at 2 billion around 2100.

"Rapid" may be hyperbole, but yeah, they were saying, even without war or depression of disease, but based on resources, that we would hit a broad Malthusian limit in the 2010s, and peak world pop would be in this decade.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:28 AM
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Shit. Bob is clarvoyant. We're all fucked.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:31 AM
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FIOS just started rolling out in the city in the last 6 mos. iirc (which raises the question of why I've been barraged with weekly FIOS flyers for literally 3-4 years).

Anyway, I've been meaning to look into it, I finally did yesterday, ordered a little after noon, and the installation is done (by a very nice union member who wore booties over his snowy boots for the inside work). My resentment over the mediocre performance of Verizon DSL is fading as we speak.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:34 AM
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See here for a discussion of physical limits on future CO2 emissions.

The studies published so far that take into account both peak oil and climate change are a truly minuscule number in comparison to the total number of papers that deal with climate change. This says a lot on how the problem was neglected so far. Nevertheless, a consensus seems to be emerging. Even with different models and different assumptions, it appears that geological constraints pose an important limit on CO2 emissions. All the studies discussed here arrive at the conclusion that, even without policy interventions, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will stabilize in a range that goes, approximately, from 450 to 600 ppm. These values are far below those of the "business as usual" (bau) scenario of the IPCC that predicts a CO2 concentration of about 1000 ppm by the end of the century.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:34 AM
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OK, seriously, I didn't know the internet could be this fast. I remember dial-up, so I was pleased with "loads momentarily," but "loads instantly" is a lot, lot better.

Wow.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:36 AM
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My resentment over the mediocre performance of Verizon DSL is fading as we speak.

And mine is growing. Between, say, 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., the network keeps overloading.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:37 AM
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Look imagine trying to go solar twenty years from now.

With copper needed from Chile and trace minerals from Central Africa, which places are in some state of anarchistic starvation collapse, with other nations needing the same materials for existential survival...

...and Republicans in charge.

Then imagine 40 years from now.

Then realize that the elites understand this better than they are letting on.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:37 AM
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176: I guess I don't see the concept of Malthusian limits having that great a track record. Malthus was wrong 200 years ago.... maybe things will change quickly enough to prove him right in the next decade, but I don't regard that as likely. Seems to me that our current path its more reasonable to project slowing population growth, eventual stabilization, and then perhaps decline.

Global warming may indeed be the black swan that throws us off this current path, but I don't see that it is necessarily so.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:38 AM
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OT: Number of weeks since I had randomly passed out before today: 5 (I think). Number of times I have passed out in the past 40 minutes: 3 (I think). Also, number of new gigantic bruises: 4 (I think).

I'm saving the world by being too sick to ever leave my house!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:41 AM
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183: Well, there's a combination of global warming, and a population that for the first time seems to be getting close to the real carrying capacity of the earth. The demographic transition may save us, but there's a real difference between a Malthusian analysis of population in the eighteenth century and now -- then, there was a whole lot of unexploited cropland, fresh water supply, etc. to expand into, and now there isn't.

That is, Malthus was wrong in the eighteenth century because the world could support a lot more people than he envisioned. If he's wrong now, it's because population is going to stop growing, not because it's possible for population to safely grow unchecked.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:42 AM
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184: I assume because you're joking about it online that you've got someone taking care of you, but you do have someone taking care of you? Or you've called 911 to have someone come get you?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:43 AM
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184: Do you have somebody with you? That is really a bad thing.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:43 AM
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eh. I just won't move out of this chair for a while.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:44 AM
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187 was me. Seriously, if you're alone, do what LB says.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:44 AM
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I trust nobody's models of anything as vast as climate.

That's not an option. We're already seeing global warming. Arctic sea ice is disappearing. Glaciers are retreating. Observed temperatures are up. You've got two choices:
a. believe the models that say 'no problem, these are normal variability, not to worry'; or
b. believe the models that say 'this is because CO2 has been increasing, CO2 will continue to increase, this is going to get worse.
Simply saying "I don't believe models' isn't an available choice.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:44 AM
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No, I'm not joking, but it's chronic and happens alarmingly often. Feel free to spend lots of time telling me how brave and pretty I am though, I am fairly cranky about the whole thing


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:45 AM
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Dude, even if you don't call 911, call someone who's close enough to get to you. If you're passing out and falling hard enough to bruise yourself up, even if it's no big thing in itself, the next time you could crack your head.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:45 AM
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Someone will come over in a couple hours! Or sooner if there's an emergency! Don't worry, internet!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:46 AM
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192 crossed with 191. And if you're sure it's under control, okay, but someone should really be checking on you. And you're brave, beautiful, and make a really impressive cardboard castle.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:47 AM
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Simply saying "I don't believe models' isn't an available choice.

Would you prefer, "I don't believe that, taken alone, models from a relatively new field are sufficient persuasive to dictate policy without other compelling reasons."?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:49 AM
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Oh, darlin'. I wish this didn't happen to you.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:49 AM
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me too! stupid mitochondria. I blame global warming.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:51 AM
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then, there was a whole lot of unexploited cropland, fresh water supply, etc. to expand into, and now there isn't.

There is still the inefficiency of eating meat. Shifting from field crops to crops directly for human consumption would add about a million acres to CA's production alone (out of ten million irrigated acres). But once that's gone, I can't think what the next big increment would be.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:52 AM
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Damn, Cecily, that sucks. I hope it passes soon. Needless to say you are seven kinds of awesome.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:52 AM
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185 is just wrong about why Malthus' predictions were incorrect (for the world after his death, although the European world before Malthus looked a lot more Malthusian).

It's not like Malthusian cycles stopped in Europe due to emigration to more fertile land or due to new acquisition of fresh water sources. It's because there were huge increases in agricultural productivity and transportation of food goods (these are continuing). In modern countries, starting with 18th century France, you also started to see demographic transitions.

As Spike says, it's possible that global warming will require a return to the Malthusian conditions that marked pre-modern economies, but it's not particularly likely. (I actually think MacManus' story about peak oil leading to a return of Malthusianism is marginally more likely, but still very unlikely). To be clear, what Malthusianism requires would be a collapse in the ability of food supply to support a given population, leading to famine. Given the current global supply of food and state of the agricultural industry, and the reality of demographic transition, that's not very likely to happen.

That doesn't mean that global warming isn't a huge problem that can and should be addressed, and that will have serious economic consequences, but the tendency of this blog to go straight to Malthusian apocolypse is annoying.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:53 AM
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but the tendency of this blog to go straight to Malthusian apocolypse is annoying.

I kind of enjoy that. It's always good to be mindful that things can go to shit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:56 AM
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Megan did you see the big article about CA water in the latest McSweeneys? the one that is a big fake newspaper? I didn't finish it yet but it seems okay


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:56 AM
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Time to crawl instead of walking, Ccily?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:56 AM
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there's a pdf of it here: http://www.lisamhamilton.com/article/article.html


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:57 AM
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Would you prefer, "I don't believe that, ...

No. My point is that whatever you do is premised on the belief in a model. Either it's the current best guess model from real climate scientists, or it's some model that apparently says 'nothing will change unless I'm convinced to adopt a new model'. Or something like that.

C: I'd pray for you, but I'm an atheist. So I hope nothing bad happens. I'll go with the model that says 'this has happened to C often before with nothing terrible happening, so probably nothing terrible will happen this time either'.
I hope


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:58 AM
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203: I need a crash helmet. Or a giant hamster ball


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:59 AM
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Given the current global supply of food and state of the agricultural industry

What is your thinking on this? I'm not as confident. I think the inputs to sustain the high level of ag are getting drastically more expensive, and I see breadbaskets shrinking considerably (Australia and CA, for starters), as precip and run-off decrease and aquifers drop. I know China is considerably worried about feeding itself in drought.

How come you think the ag industry is sustainable?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:00 AM
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194, 199, 205- thanks guys!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:00 AM
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Given the current global supply of food and state of the agricultural industry, and the reality of demographic transition, that's not very likely to happen.

Doesn't that depend on things that are as yet not well understood?

For example, my impression is that one of the possible non-linear events would be the cessation of the North Atlantic currents, due to influx of a bunch of cold water from melting arctic ice. That if the current ceases, the climate of England, France, Spain, and perhaps much of Europe will see a sudden drastic change. Such a sudden drastic change could, I'd think, lead to widespread famine.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:02 AM
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200: Okay, how does "transport in food goods" not equate fairly closely to "exploitation of new unexploited cropland"? And of course agricultural productivity has increased immensely, but it seems unlikely to do it again in the near future.

I'll cop to not actually ever having read Malthus, and using him therefore as an uneducated shorthand for "Population large enough to make supporting it on available resources impossible, resulting in serious problems". But if I can be allowed to get away with that shorthand, I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing out that just because we've been able to expand the population without limits for the last two centuries doesn't mean that we're not going to run into real limits in the future.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:03 AM
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183:Fertilizers are fossil fuel products, although from natural gas, and we are doing decently there for now.

But I keep wanting to point out the politics. Malthus always considered war in his analysis of pop decline. With a future certain* to be catastrophic, I do not expect Western Elites to sacrifice for the sake of Others.

I expect them to start stockpiling oil and natual gas, phosphates and fertilizer for ahead of the desperate times, far before the competition gets intense. Like now?

Instead of looking at "war for oil" look at "war for natural gas" which equals fricking food. Iran and central asia have some of the biggest NG reserves.

*certain without domestic and world socialist revolution. But somebody might get hurt, can't have that! So certain.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:05 AM
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205: My point is that whatever you do is premised on the belief in a model.

Yes, but that's just a trivial observation based on human cognitive processes. Let's say that I have a model, but that it has a much broader dispersion of possible outcomes than you'd get by either going with the current best model or assuming things will stay basically the same. Many scientific careers have been spent using a 'current best model' that was, in retrospect, very clearly wrong.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:06 AM
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Very little about the prospect of socialist revolution appeals to me, but the notion that it would rescue struggling Nature from Man's greedy clutches ought to offend anybody who has visited a former Warsaw Pact state.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:08 AM
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Halford, could you please send me an email? I'd like to discuss something with you offline.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:10 AM
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Very broadly speaking, I think that (1) the high rate of technological increase in agricultural productivity (e.g., seeds, kinds of rice, etc.), which has existed for years will be sustained into the future and that (2) the loss of some agricultural productivity in Australia and especially California as water gets priced more rationally will be offset by making much of the fertile world more agriculturally productive.

I do think food is likely to get somewhat more expensive in the developed world, but it's already way too cheap.

And I know that (2) is cold comfort to (what I think is?) your agency, and I'm not particularly optimistic about the future of California agriculture in its current form, but I don't think that's actually likely to create anything like Malthusian conditions or serious food shortage.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:10 AM
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Let's say that I have a model,

Okay. You have a model. Let's drag your model out into the daylight, let's make it explicit, let's examine its assumptions and evidence and conclusions, and let's test it (in so far as it is testable). Until we've done that, is there any reason to put any belief into your model, or to choose it over any other model?


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:11 AM
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209:That if the current ceases, the climate of England, France, Spain, and perhaps much of Europe will see a sudden drastic change. Such a sudden drastic change could, I'd think, lead to widespread famine.

For Christ's sake, no, France will not watch its population starve to death. They have nukes.

This is exactly the kind of analysis that infuriates me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:11 AM
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(1) the high rate of technological increase in agricultural productivity (e.g., seeds, kinds of rice, etc.), which has existed for years will be sustained into the future and that

I'm not an expert at all, but what reading I've done makes me believe that this is way off. Any further increase in agricultural productivity would have to be something entirely new, not more of the same sort of productivity increase we've had in the past.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:12 AM
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217: Do they still call it the Force de frappe? I love that -- makes me think of nuclear milkshakes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:14 AM
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France will not watch its population starve to death. They have nukes.

Let them eat nukes? Really, if Europe suddenly stops producing food, someone is going to starve. Maybe France can get food through its "Threats Of Nuclear War for Food" program, but there will be shortages.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:17 AM
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216: (in so far as it is testable)

Climate models aren't meaningfully testable given the human life span. You can really only test the validity of the assumptions that go into the model. Given all of the factors that affect climate and the ways in which these factors could possibly interact, I don't see how even the best climate model existing has a greater than random chance of being accurate. So, I'll stick to my vague sense of pessimism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:18 AM
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218: I know that my cousins are using a fair bit less fuel, fertilizer and chemicals than they were 20 years ago. They grow vast heaps of corn and soy beans. "No till" methods, GPS systems, herbicide-ready seeds have made a difference, though I don't know the extent to which future improvement is likely.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:23 AM
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Climate models aren't meaningfully testable given the human life span.

No. This is why people have spent so much effort to find indirect measures of temperature and CO2. Tree rings. Ice cores. Lake sediment. Historical records. Others I haven't paid much attention to. They've all got their problems, but they're not chopped liver, either. Even those tests that only compare the models that were developed using data from 1850 to 1950 against the record from 1950 to present are better than random chance.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:24 AM
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(1) the high rate of technological increase in agricultural productivity (e.g., seeds, kinds of rice, etc.), which has existed for years will be sustained into the future

I'm hearing conflicting things. I do agree that if there's going to be any big step increase, it will come from bioengineering. And, I hear talk that we might be able to get a third growing season out of the year if it is consistently warmer.

But, I also think inputs (water, fuel, minerals for fertilizer) will be markedly less available. I'm also starting to see research that says that with so much carbon in the air, plants don't have to spin the C3 cycle so often, so they starve for nitrogen even if it is available (that was my best understanding. Apologies if it doesn't make sense.). And fruit and nut trees are heat sensitive, so they don't blossom, or set fruit if temps are wrong. And bioengineered solutions aren't here yet.

and that (2) the loss of some agricultural productivity in Australia and especially California as water gets priced more rationally will be offset by making much of the fertile world more agriculturally productive.

Yes, I think there's a fair amount of potential there. Third world ag could go a good long way on nothing more than laser leveling fields.

I do think food is likely to get somewhat more expensive in the developed world, but it's already way too cheap.

Sure. Meat especially.

And I know that (2) is cold comfort to (what I think is?) your agency, and I'm not particularly optimistic about the future of California agriculture in its current form, but I don't think that's actually likely to create anything like Malthusian conditions or serious food shortage.

Dude, my agency doesn't care. We are much less captured than you seem to think. Besides, water prices are a straight passthrough for us. What do we care if they go up?

Look, I think CA ag is going to shrink by about a third, but I also note that 28% of CA ag production is for overseas export. We're not going to starve, but I don't think other sources are going to step in behind that. I do think someone will starve.



Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:31 AM
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plants don't have to spin the C3 cycle so often, so they starve for nitrogen even if it is available (that was my best understanding. Apologies if it doesn't make sense.).

What I meant was that the carbon portion doesn't have to spin so much to pick up carbons, so it doesn't crank the corresponding nitrogen cycle and then the unicorns don't come. Biology is stupid and needlessly complex.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:34 AM
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220:Let them eat nukes? Really, if Europe suddenly stops producing food, someone is going to starve. Maybe France can get food through its "Threats Of Nuclear War for Food" program, but there will be shortages.

Do you think this is, like, a trivial distinction?

Au contraire, enough people French, Argentinian (beef), or Thai ( rice) or their allies or France's competitors) may die in the "wars for food" that food shortages become less of a problem.

Try reading Mein Kampf. It is partly/mostly about food self-sufficiency and independence.

The global politics will get horrible generations before the real constraints are reached.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:36 AM
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Here. This guy came to talk to us.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:36 AM
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Really, if Europe suddenly stops producing food, someone is going to starve.

Maybe, but it's not necessarily going to be anyone in Europe. Per capita income in wealthy countries is a large multiple of the amount needed to provide an enjoybable diet, and an even larger multiple of the amount needed for a subsistence diet. The worst that happens to France is that it buys food from abroad more expensively, possibly pushing up global commodity prices to an unaffordable level for certain people in poor countries.

Not that it wouldn't be hugely disruptive to France, where a substantial fraction of the population lives in communities that are dependent on (heavily subsidized) agriculture.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:37 AM
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223: This is why I usually stick to penis jokes.

There are big factors that have only recently come to light (like solar cycles and the effect of ocean currents). Which makes it highly likely models that have worked for the past 150 years don't include all of the factors that you need and merely work because somebody tried 2,000 different models and showed the one that fit. And then there are things that can't really be modeled (e.g. technology change). And then there are the 'unknown unknowns' (i.e. there's plenty of stuff happening now that even 50 years ago wasn't part of science fiction). Assuming climate science is somehow going to avoid the big, early errors of physics (i.e. the ether) or medicine seems to be better example of hubris than prediction.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:39 AM
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but it's not necessarily going to be anyone in Europe.

I'm trying to read this as reassuring, but I don't see how. Starving people are starving people; I don't particularly care if they're French, Kenyan, Laotian, or Bangladeshi. (I admittedly care more if they're friends or relatives of mine, of course. But outside that circle, famine's equally bad whoever it's happening to.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:45 AM
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Really, Moby Hick? You're going with the "there are uncertainties, so therefore I think everything climate scientists say is wrong" approach? You sound like you're taking your cues from James Inhofe here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:48 AM
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I don't think that assuming climate science can avoid big early errors like humors and ether is hubris. There are several orders of magnitude more people involved, with information sharing technologies that make data and theory transfer instantaneous. There's a vastly more informed scientific community in general and processes for checking. We don't have to languish in huge errors for decades any more.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:49 AM
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I do think someone will starve.

Isn't that always a safe assumption? Aren't people starving now?



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:50 AM
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Starving people are starving people; I don't particularly care if they're French, Kenyan, Laotian, or Bangladeshi. (I admittedly care more if they're friends or relatives of mine, of course. But outside that circle, famine's equally bad whoever it's happening to.)

It would be far better publicized, and hence more distressing to you, if it occurred in France than in Bangladesh. It's hard to care about things you're barely aware of.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:50 AM
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And seriously, "solar cycles" as something new and surprising? What?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:50 AM
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229: Huh. Is there a point at which data would convince you that global warming models were doing better than chance? For example, I remember people worrying about global warming ten years ago or so, at a time when it wasn't practical to have a shipping route north of Canada. Now it looks as if it will be a commercial route in the very near future.

A decade ago, someone predicting that it was going to keep getting warmer was right. If they're right next decade, and the decade after, when do you give up on your total skepticism?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:51 AM
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Apparently I'm even worse at communicating that I thought.

KR, McM: I'm not disagreeing with you. The starvation may be somewhere else. 200 said "collapse in the ability of food supply to support a given population, leading to famine. Given the current global supply of food and state of the agricultural industry, that's not very likely to happen.." I suggested that a large enough, and sudden enough, diruption would do exactly that. I noted the shift in the ocean current as a possible GW effect that could lead to large sudden decline in food production, to a point where globally there wasn't enough food for the population.

Which makes it highly likely models that have worked for the past 150 years don't include all of the factors that you need

First, you don't need that many factors to be worried. All you need to know is that CO2 reflects infra-red and is transparent to ultra-violet. That's fundamental, testable, and (absent other unknown compensating factors) enough to model a very worrisome scenario.

Second, if the current best scientific models are no good, we're left with your model - a model that has no factors, no evidence, hasn't even been clearly stated, and is based on who knows what. Why should we prefer your model?


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:52 AM
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Another point that's being missed: peak oil isn't, at least in the fifty-year timescale, going to help with climate change. It's going to hurt, potentially, as people stop burning oil and start going with even more wasteful options like coal-to-liquid plants or tar sands.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:55 AM
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I suggested that a large enough, and sudden enough, disruption would do exactly that.

I'll stand behind him, chiming in that small changes like getting consistently drier and hotter could do the same thing.

The salmon run here is gone, for slowly choking off spawning creeks, from slightly higher summer temps, from a hotter, polluted Delta, from less food in the ocean and then a few years later, there is no commercial salmon fishery. It doesn't take a large disruption.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:57 AM
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One of this days I'm going to try calling in sick for work with a case of Malthusian Apocalypse.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:58 AM
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God you people are depressing me.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:59 AM
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It's true that there's a finite supply of hydrocarbons on earth, which will eventually limit us, but indications are that burning them all puts us well into the dangerous range. This is worth reading.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 11:59 AM
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Cec, I hadn't seen that article and liked it. It was good to get a perspective on why people are attached to living in Firebaugh.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:00 PM
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Dude, my agency doesn't care. We are much less captured than you seem to think. Besides, water prices are a straight passthrough for us. What do we care if they go up?

Mostly meant as gentle teasing, but at least at its origin, the purpose of the DWR was to provide cheap water for California agriculture (at which it was spectacularly successful). I know that's not really true anymore.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:01 PM
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Putting aside the mass starvation, flooding, political disruption and all that and focusing on what Megan calls "the little things" (which are exactly the things that I expect will be major irritants for me, personally), I do sometimes wonder/hope that I'm too pessimstic about the effects of climate change. I imagine things getting worse in a thousand small ways and almost nothing getting better. That can't be right, though, can it?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:02 PM
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231: Hardly taking my cues from there. I started (171) by saying many of the policies people are urging on the basis of climate change models can be just as well supported on other grounds. For example, we are slowly running out of oil at the same time more people are becoming wealthy enough to use it. And there are well-established negative externalities, starting with regular old pollution, to driving. A gas tax makes good policy on many levels. I'd like to see a tax set to provide a 'floor' - say $4 as a start -- for gas prices and thus help keep current interest in more fuel efficient cars.

It's more of a 'first do no harm' kind of attitude. I can't shake how the "Butterfly Ballot" issue in Florida led to a quick response that produced a much less secure ballot system than before. Plus I can't shake my bailout-induced distrust of elites in general. Plus, I can't help but think that if the models aren't getting support for concrete policies, maybe a new political tactic might work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:02 PM
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The mission is a little broader these days:

To manage the water resources of California in cooperation with other agencies,
to benefit the State's people, and to protect, restore, and enhance the natural and human enviroments.

But they left out "Building dams because it feels so damn GOOD." I don't know how they missed that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:07 PM
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And of course it's possible that global warming could produce some unforeseen shock to the food supply that would create true Malthusian conditions before society has time to adjust. Who knows? We're dealing with the future and unpredictable systems. Maybe a mutant race of ineradicable insects will emerge that destroys the world's wheat crop. I just don't think it's particularly likely, and I know that agriculture is a far more adaptable industry than most of us assume. The world currently produces far more food than it needs to sustain current population. There are a LOT more bad consequences of global warming that are more predictable and more worth worrying about before we drag in Malthus.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:08 PM
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That can't be right, though, can it?

We were pretty well optimized for the old climate, especially nature things, like trees and shit. Most changes are going to be for the worse. If you live in LA and don't like the Santa Ana winds, those are supposed to decrease. That'd be good for people who don't like those winds.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:10 PM
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Maybe a mutant race of ineradicable insects will emerge that destroys the world's wheat crop.

Similar things have happened before, like the potato blight. It seems likely that something of that nature will happen again. Only global distribution networks and extra capacity in other crops would keep Malthus out of it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:11 PM
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249 explains my optimistic tone in this thread.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:11 PM
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245: There's always an upside, Brock! Like pollution often makes the sunsets prettier! And if you only have a few possessions you appreciate them much more! And some of the people that may wind up starving are big jerks anyway!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:11 PM
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some unforeseen shock

Except that at least one possibility has been foreseen. It happened before, when some big lake in Canada spilled into the Atlantic, and it could happen again with the melting of Greenland (which is happening).

It's hard to judge the likelihood - Megan's death by a thousand problems seems far more certain, in comparison - but we're not talking giant mutant ninja insects caused by atmospheric A-bomb testing.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:13 PM
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Where's Cecily? Wave if you're still alive, so I can stop worrying, please.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:15 PM
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Like, the only animals I imagine us having more of are stinging insects, roaches, mosquitos, and that sort of thing. But surely there are others, right? How do rabbits do in hot climates? I wouldn't be upset if there were more rabbits.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:17 PM
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You don't like the Santa Anas?

I loved them as a kid. They could nearly pick you up.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:19 PM
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255: We'll be overrun by cute fuzzy rabbits that will eat all the produce. Vegetarians that refuse to hunt them will starve.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:20 PM
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I wouldn't be upset if there were more rabbits.

Smile when you say that.


Posted by: OPINIONATED AUSTRALIAN | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:20 PM
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Gators? We could have gators up north.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:20 PM
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259: And not just in the sewer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:22 PM
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Northern Canada and Siberia might become incredibly agriculturally productive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:22 PM
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Cecily -- sounds like this is nothing new for you and that you have it under as much control as your mitochondria allow, but wanted to send out my prayers/good vibes/well wishes.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:23 PM
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If we ever get overrun by bunnies, all we have to do is breed and release a mutant species of monitor lizards to hunt them down and eat them. Problem solved!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:24 PM
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248:The world currently produces far more food than it needs to sustain current population.

Yeah, yeah, sure. I just read some, Peter Singer I think last night. 5% from the upper middle class, 10% from the rich, 25% from the very rich and voila! world poverty is eliminated. Quite amusing.

PO, AGW, or poverty really aren't the problems and I think most people understand that. These could be fixed in a generation. We have, or can have, adequate resources for even a much larger population.

But we lack the guillotines.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:24 PM
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"monitor lizards" s/b "hoboes"


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:25 PM
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I understand that scientists are breeding venomous bobcats if we need them to take out the monitor lizards.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:25 PM
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But we lack the guillotines.

They're under a sheet in my garage. Shh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:26 PM
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And if the venomous bobcats ever get out of hand, all we need to do is reconstruct some velocoraptors out of fossilized DNA, give them hoverboards, and set them loose in the forest!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:29 PM
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I expect that on my 20 acres I will lose squirrels, chipmonks, bunny rabbits, wild turkey, deer and elk. I will gain rattlesnakes, horned toads, jack rabbits, and roadrunners. And cholla. I am currently training my poodle puppy to hunt jackrabbits.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:29 PM
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If we ever get overrun by bunnies...

I had a high school teacher who said that when he was younger, there was an over-abundance of rabbits. He built an arrow with a small charge and a bunch of birdshot at the tip. Then he used a wire to make a trigger that would detonate the charge a foot above ground. The idea being to shoot into a crowd of bunnies and get them all at once with a low-level burst. Then he dropped the arrow in his kitchen and put hundred of little holes all around. (The small size of the charge and leather boots saved his feet.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:31 PM
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120

Not at my fingertips. The best I can do is this, but it's just a talk on unpublished (and, IIRC, pretty preliminary) work. I'm sure there are publications with similar punchlines, but I don't have time to look for them at the moment.

Pierrehumbert doesn't like the idea but isn't claiming it is insane in the sense that it couldn't possibly work. And I have no ideal where he is getting his 8*CO2 case.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:32 PM
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Maybe tularemia will substitute for guillotines


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:34 PM
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I'm here! everything is fine.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:34 PM
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The rabbit's dreamy eyes grow dreamier
As he quietly gives you tularemia.


Posted by: Ogden Nash | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:35 PM
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273: thank you. I'm glad all is well. Try to keep your body temperature low to avoid contributing to global warming.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:35 PM
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273: No it's not! Haven't you been reading the thread? We're all going to die from starvation. Or get eaten by giant rabbits.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:35 PM
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161

I don't know why the thought hadn't occurred to me until now, but are climate-change worriers basically considered big wussies by the nay-sayers? That's just odd.

Why is it odd? Liberals sometimes claim conservatives are excessively concerned about terrorism (or crime in general).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:36 PM
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256 -- Not when it's hot. December Santa Anas are pretty sweet.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:37 PM
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I imagine things getting worse in a thousand small ways and almost nothing getting better. That can't be right, though, can it?

Kind of is. As Megan said, everything is set to the current equilibrium, so even incidental "improvements" (let's say milder winters in Buffalo) get swamped by related catastrophes (dead forests throughout upstate NY because it doesn't get cold enough to halt the spread of beetles, or whatever).

It will come to a new equilibrium - in some places, probably relatively quickly and nicely - but not in our lifetimes, and prob. not in our kids'. They're talking about northern Alabama climate in western PA by the end of this century - there's almost no current overlap between those biomes/populations right now, so you're looking at virtually everything that grows here now having to die and be replaced in the next 90 years.

Geez, this is depressing. I'm going to go see how fast I can download some porn.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:38 PM
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Maybe tularemia will substitute for guillotines

Or maybe rabbit starvation.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:39 PM
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Do that quickly. In 100 year, furries will be extinct.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:40 PM
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210

... And of course agricultural productivity has increased immensely, but it seems unlikely to do it again in the near future.

Why do you say that? It is my understanding that the increases were due to incremental improvements which are continuing.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:41 PM
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They're talking about northern Alabama climate in western PA by the end of this century - there's almost no current overlap between those biomes/populations right now, so you're looking at virtually everything that grows here now having to die and be replaced in the next 90 years.

At least we will both have water nearby and not be underwater, unlike large portions of the US. I'm keeping my real estate, if I had any.

Why do you say that? It is my understanding that the increases were due to incremental improvements which are continuing.

You're the one talking about Peak Oil. Isn't fertilizer oil?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:42 PM
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238

Another point that's being missed: peak oil isn't, at least in the fifty-year timescale, going to help with climate change. It's going to hurt, potentially, as people stop burning oil and start going with even more wasteful options like coal-to-liquid plants or tar sands.

This assumes the alternatives are just as cheap which is unlikely.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:43 PM
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At least we will both have water nearby and not be underwater, unlike large portions of the US.

Go us.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:43 PM
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I might get to live on the beach for awhile without ever moving! On a beach with bunnies!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:45 PM
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Megan's 224 reflects more actual knowledge than I have, which isn't much -- the result of a fair amount of desultory reading, but nothing systematic. But the impression I'd gotten is that the low-hanging fruit of productivity increases in agriculture had been picked already -- uniform strains of grain that all ripen at once were a big deal, but you can't do better than simultaneous, so there's no more improvement to be expected on that front. And that similar stories could be told about other areas of productivity increase -- the obvious things have been done already, and there's not much else to improve.

(There are, of course, large areas of the world not doing modern farming. There may be room for a lot of productivity increase there.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:46 PM
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||

Let's talk about more important matters. This article regarding weight gain in women who live with a partner never brings up the idea that women stay skinny just to catch a husband, and then immediately pack on the pounds, a sentiment which so recently horrified BG.

No, instead: "Perhaps, she suggested, a more active social life may help explain why women with partners gain more weight. "Think of going to a restaurant," Dr. Murtaugh said. "They serve a 6-foot man the same amount as they serve me, even though I'm 5 feet 5 inches and 60 pounds lighter.""

Yes. Single women - no social lives! That's exactly the conclusion I would come to. Rather than things like - having children and a partner and a job often leads to less time for exercise, or perhaps more rushed eating habits, or, or.

|>


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:47 PM
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Isn't fertilizer oil?

Natural gas, actually. Mechanization is oil (diesel fuel).


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:48 PM
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245
I imagine things getting worse in a thousand small ways and almost nothing getting better. That can't be right, though, can it?

One answer to this question was presented, apparently accidentally, in 246: The rest of us won't have to suffer with the blight on our culture and political process that is Florida.

More seriously, hmmm... we'll all be eating healthier once we aren't wasting water and potential cropland on meat cattle. Maple syrup might actually become more common, although it's impossible to say for sure yet.

Also, Cecily, glad to hear you're OK. I know it's a semi-regular thing for you, but still, 184 was scary.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:49 PM
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Further to 289: specifically, nitrogen fertilizer comes from natural gas (Haber-Bosch process). Phosphurus fertilizer is dug out of the ground.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:50 PM
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288: If you count a meal with your partner rather than alone as socializing (which is a weird usage of terms, but almost comprehensible) it makes a certain amount of sense to me. I eat a lot more meat and ice cream because I'm eating meals that are to Buck's taste. (Not that I don't like both, but the frequency is different.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:50 PM
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Maple syrup might actually become more common, although it's impossible to say for sure yet.

Really? I thought Vermont maple syrup was in trouble. But I can't remember what I'm basing that on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:51 PM
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Yeah, I wonder a lot at that problem, and don't know where to get good answers.

When I hear about overall yield improvements, it makes me wish I knew more about the standard deviation in current yields. If there's a wide variation in current yields, I'd be reassured, because then I could see the average being brought up towards the top end. But here in CA, where growers are pretty good, I imagine yields are pretty consistent throughout the industry. To improve on that, everyone would have to keep getting a little better, and I don't know how to keep improving.

One rumor I heard is that a lot of produce (1/4)doesn't meet marketing standards (scarred, ugly) and gets thrown out. That'd be a huge new source of food, but I have a hard time believing it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:52 PM
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292: Perhaps, but I'm dubious. She specifically brings up restaurants, and if you're at home, as it appears to be in your scenario, you could still do more portion control. Anyway, it's obviously a silly, silly article.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:53 PM
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288: On the veldt the women were svelte.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:53 PM
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287: But there are continuing improvements. Genetic engineering, which admittedly may yet create the 50 bunny or the cancer-causing corn dog, lets farmers control weeds without re-tilling the field thus cutting fuel consumption and reducing erosion. New irrigation methods use much less water, preserving ground water, cutting fuel use, and slowing the salinization problems than can occur when irrigation is used in very dry places. Of course, I'm not aware of anything that will actually increase yields, but getting the same result for fewer inputs isn't nothing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:54 PM
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245

... I imagine things getting worse in a thousand small ways and almost nothing getting better. That can't be right, though, can it?

Seems unlikely to me.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:54 PM
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I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I just meant to complain.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:55 PM
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297 is talking about midwestern corn/bean farms. I have little knowledge of what happens in truck farming and the like.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:56 PM
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I'm going to go see how fast I can download some porn.

OK hotshot, let's see just how fast this new connection of yours is. Ten paces and speedtest.net at dawn. I just clocked in at 20.45 Mb/s Down, 4.26 Mb/s Up. Over a wifi link to a Comcast connection.

Is it unseemly to brag? Well, then I guess I'm unseemly.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:57 PM
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There have been massive, continuous increases in agricultural productivity (TFP) over the past 30 years and continuing through the past decade, and we're just entering into a world in which bioengineering is easier and more widely available. I'm no expert, but a bet that increasing agricultural productivity will not continue is IMO not a good one (as always, there's a possiblity that some unforeseen and sudden shock of global warming will create a famine condition, but that's not really because of a global resource constraint on food production).

Not to mention that this -- (There are, of course, large areas of the world not doing modern farming. There may be room for a lot of productivity increase there.) -- gives away pretty much the whole game.



Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 12:58 PM
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Hey, look. The World Bank has thought about the problem.

Even the most optimistic projections on future crop yields lead to decreasing food self-sufficiency ratios in most regions.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:00 PM
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The world currently produces far more food than it needs to sustain current population.

But only under current economic conditions. Rich people are willing to pay enough money to make capital intensive farming techniques profitable and thus feasible. The global poor can't afford GPS-enabled tractors. It looks like the short-term equilibrium will be 1. less productive 3rd world ag; 2. reduced acreage available for 1st world ag; 3. less global wealth.

And I strongly suspect that things like eating less meat simply keep the rich where they are - with effectively limitless access to the things they want to eat - but don't free up more food for the 3rd world.

The causality works thus: no more snowmelt in CA, and so only the highest-value crops get grown there (for first world consumption); meat thus becomes too expensive for USian eating patterns, which become more vegetarian; no additional farmland is freed for feeding the 3rd world. There's no magic wand that makes the US go veggie right now, so that CA can get to work shipping beans and rice to Bangladeshis with no money.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:00 PM
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283

You're the one talking about Peak Oil. Isn't fertilizer oil?

I am talking about improving productivity in the usual sense of more output for given inputs. If peak oil makes the inputs more expensive we may need improved productivity just to stay even.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:02 PM
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301: 26.2 down, 2.6 up. The upload speed isn't great, but also isn't a big deal at all.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:04 PM
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306: OK, that is pretty hot.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:05 PM
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Not to mention that this -- (There are, of course, large areas of the world not doing modern farming. There may be room for a lot of productivity increase there.) -- gives away pretty much the whole game.

Except that one of the reasons that rich areas are rich and poorer areas are poorer is that some land is better for farming than others. Contradict me with specifics if you've got them, because I certainly don't, but my vague impression is that areas that don't have optimized modern farming also don't have particularly productive land.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:06 PM
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Hey, look. The World Bank has thought about the problem.

Silly Megan, haven't you noticed that the ground rules for this thread involve ignoring "experts" and "models" in favor of bloviating in the comment box?

For those of you who take the "it won't be that bad" attitude, here's another assessment that concludes climate change is already killing 300,000 people per year.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:08 PM
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288, 292: Dataset of one, I am currently 5-10 pounds heavier now than I was when I was married (20 pounds over my newly divorced physique). And my social life is largely confined to eating dinner with Rory while watching iCarly. The article is dumb. Also, though, the women only stay skinny to catch a husband theory is also dumb. The married people with kids don't have time to exercise and probably resort to processed foods more often theory is maybe not bad.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:08 PM
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Not to mention that this -- (There are, of course, large areas of the world not doing modern farming. There may be room for a lot of productivity increase there.) -- gives away pretty much the whole game.

Could you suggest a plausible route by which farmers in Mali all get tractors capable of laser leveling? No skipping the Miracle! steps.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:09 PM
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Wow, my wi-fi connection at work sucks. 5.69 Mb/s down, 1.43 up.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:10 PM
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bloviating in the comment box

I was quite proud to teach Rory the word bloviate this past weekend. (Context: "Who's Rush Limbaugh?")


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:10 PM
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Also, though, the women only stay skinny to catch a husband theory is also dumb.

Oh yeah, I should say that I was not actually endorsing this as an explanation.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:11 PM
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(My most plausible scenario is that China colonizes Africa to secure an additional breadbasket. But I am open to different visions.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:12 PM
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I don't understand 304 at all, but it's pretty unlikely that the world will stop investing capital in food production, and food in the first world is extraordinarily cheap due to an incredibly productive agricultural industry, not because first world food prices are unusually high or a preference of rich people for GPS enabled tractors.

I can't claim to have really understood 303, either, but it looks like a study that examines only the effect of global warming and CO2 fertilization on existing yield ratios, and that isn't a model for future food production.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:13 PM
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On the other hand, my desktop at work has 92.87 Mb/s down, 24.71 up.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:13 PM
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309

For those of you who take the "it won't be that bad" attitude, here's another assessment that concludes climate change is already killing 300,000 people per year.

As compared to about 60 million deaths total. Noise level.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:14 PM
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Desktop at work: 2.65 Mb/s down, .73 up. We have cheap DSL, I believe.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:16 PM
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Based on estimates from the Blue Oyster Cult, there are 14,610,000 deaths annually.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:16 PM
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What do you mean by "noise"? If you mean "can't be attributed to climate change with any statistical significance", there's no basis for saying that, though I haven't looked at their study closely enough to be sure I agree with all of their methods. If you mean "not enough people to be concerned about", then we just disagree on that point.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:17 PM
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Except that one of the reasons that rich areas are rich and poorer areas are poorer is that some land is better for farming than others.

The other problem is transport. If I may bloviate without evidence again, I believe that the river barges and railroads in the midwest are of major importance in moving American grain to places such as the former New Orleans where it can be loaded onto ocean going trransport. Without that infrasctructure, the grain isn't going anywhere.

From the 3rd world: 1.3mb down. 0.6 up.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:18 PM
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From the 3rd world: 1.3mb down. 0.6 up.

In the Southern hemisphere, you can upload faster than you can download because you are on the bottom of the world.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:20 PM
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293
Really? I thought Vermont maple syrup was in trouble. But I can't remember what I'm basing that on.

Vermont maple syrup is in trouble from acid rain. (Or maybe I should say "was" instead of "is"; I don't know either.) That's correlated with global warming, but not the same thing. And acid rain is becoming less of a problem as the Rust Belt goes out of business.

Maple sugarmaking depends on a period of freezes and thaws. If global warming happens so strongly that it no longer gets below freezing in Vermont winters, then obviously, sugarmaking ends. (That would require very severe global warming indeed.) But a more mild case of global warming might make that late winter/early spring period of freezing and thawing simply start earlier and end earlier resulting in no overall change, or it might even make it start earlier and end at the same time. As far as I know, the jury's still out.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:21 PM
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And acid rain is becoming less of a problem as the Rust Belt goes out of business.

Your syrup came from our economic pain.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:22 PM
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From the 3rd world: 1.3mb down. 0.6 up.

Millibits? That is bad.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:23 PM
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308:but my vague impression is that areas that don't have optimized modern farming also don't have particularly productive land

No, actually, political or capital constraints are a huge problem.

Can't remember enough to link, but a lot of Central African land is being bought by, for instance, Middle Eastern Oilarchies (UAE). The land is terrific, there is adequate water, but the political economy isn't developed enough to initiate modern farming.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:25 PM
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only the effect of global warming and CO2 fertilization on existing yield ratios

Dude. What other big variables do you think will come into play to make the scenario more positive?

Do you think a major new food producing region will start to exist? Canada? Siberia?

Do you think bioengineering will save us in a radical green revolution-type step increment?

A new emphasis on high precision farming will sweep the third world? Like, how? Third world ag academies educating an entire population cohort for free?

I guess those could happen. But bad feedback loops from biological processes and climate are at least as likely.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:25 PM
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314: Recent experience suggests that "fat and happy" has some validity among both Mr. and Mrs. President.


Posted by: President Recently Divorced and Married | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:26 PM
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327: I think this is what you are thinking of, bob.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:28 PM
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I step away for a few hours and you all become incredibly depressing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:28 PM
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Only because the world is ending.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:30 PM
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327:Yup. Thanks.

4.29. 0.49 but this computer has a weak wireless connection.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:32 PM
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Only because the world is ending... for the children.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:32 PM
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A new emphasis on high precision farming will sweep the third world? Like, how?

Outsiders will buy the land, kick off the natives, and mechanize. The Koreans have been trying it in Madagascar. Of course, this is politically troublesome, and highly unethical. But it does create more food.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:33 PM
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Play us a song, heebie. Play it once. For old times' sake. Play it, heebie. Play "As Time Goes By". I'll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum...


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:34 PM
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Outsiders will buy the land, kick off the natives, and mechanize. The Koreans have been trying it in Madagascar.

On the one hand, this sounds bad. On the other hand, for Disney-related reasons, I'm sick of lemurs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:35 PM
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311 -- the price of their crop goes up to a point where it makes sense for Malian farmers to invest in that technology. Or, a government decides that declining food security means we need to start leveling fields in Mali. I don't mean to be flippant, but it's not a dreamy fantasia to think that when there is a need for food production, society can organize to meet that need. We've done so for a long time, and world food production is abundant and very cheap. Of course, at current prices and given where Mali is, it's unlikely that people will be paying for laser leveling any time soon. But that's a product of current world food abundance.

308 -- Are you really arguing that places with low agricultural productivity are only unproductive because of the quality of the land? Given what you know about the difference between rich and poor countries, why would that be the case? Do you really think that third world agriculture is just the result of bad soil in the third world? I don't know if this counts as "specifics," but here's a link to the FAO's 2000 report on world food production, which lists some of the differences between rich and poor countries in food production.

309 -- some people might be saying that global warming isn't a big deal, but I hope you're not thinking of me. GW is a big deal and will be a disaster. It's the jump to Malthusianism that bugs me.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:35 PM
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Maybe this will work for the link.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:36 PM
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Y'all should read the agro-imperialism essay. It's long, but it goes into the details of what you are speculating on.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:43 PM
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I've been reading it. You're right; it's good and on point.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:44 PM
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328 -- Maybe, yes (including heat-resistant crops, which the Ag companies are heavily invested in already), and almost certainly. The "how" is complicated, but rising prices and population will take care of much of the increase in third world productivity (or food prices will remain low, so that there won't be a problem). And don't forget about improvements in transportation.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:44 PM
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China colonizes Africa

Stating the obvious, I guess, but this is happening now. Given the incompetence of some African governments, it may be an improvement for Africans; I don't think unfortunately that Chinese subalterns have yet reached Zimbabwe.

How much has bioengineering and pest control changed crop yields in the last 50 years? Increases from all causes of 50% over the last 50 years are common, using UN data. The world bank study does not seem to take this possibility into account, and that's the time interval. The world bank report takes self-sufficiency as a goal, not aggregate production, so trade is neglected. Also, how much is now lost to simple corruption and biofuel subsidies?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:44 PM
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it's pretty unlikely that the world will stop investing capital in food production, and food in the first world is extraordinarily cheap due to an incredibly productive agricultural industry, not because first world food prices are unusually high or a preference of rich people for GPS enabled tractors.

Poorer world, rob. And capital-intensive farming requires, you know, capital. First world food is cheap - on the consumer end - because of A. a century of massive capital investment, and B. massive and ongoing gov't subsidies.

So in a world where fuel is more expensive, various natural resources are more scarce (eg, lumber), and massive disruptions require capital for management (rebuilding cities, relocating millions), where is the money coming from to invest trillions of dollars in third world farming? And why would we expect the produce of that farming to go to third worlders?

BTW, rich people do prefer GPS-enabled tractors, because it frees up labor to do other things that rich people like, such as software design and high finance.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:47 PM
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293, 324: As I understand it, New England producers are potentially screwed. The tapping season is already getting earlier and shorter than usual, and climate change leaves sugar maples more vulnerable to disease and encroachment by species such as oak and hickory.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:47 PM
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encroachment by species such as oak

There's a solution for that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:51 PM
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BTW, rich people do prefer GPS-enabled tractors

Also you can sit in the tractor with a climate-controlled cab and make phone calls or watch TV.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:54 PM
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This circles us back to the question of the cost tradeoffs between mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation is expensive.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:54 PM
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335,337:Of course, implications:

1) shipping costs, economic and environmental
2) that production investment and the shipping lanes will need military protection. In return, Korea may buy our bonds and sell us consumer goods on credit.

Or Korea could buy its own carrier group, but they are kinda expensive.

I got into it with Ian Welsh as to whether the American Empire was ending or beginning. I say beginning. It won't look like previous empires, and you can call it some other name, but it sure looks to me like a lot of the world is counting on a long Pax Americana.

At home, it will soon become structurally or institutionally >i>impossible to cut defense spending. Foreign Elites will demand stability.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:55 PM
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346: Now I'm wondering if the Vermont maple industry will give me venture capital to make and market a syrup-powered chainsaw.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:56 PM
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Foreign Elites will demand stability.

Have those foreigners ever met us? Because, while there are exceptions, nobody around me seems especially stable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:58 PM
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309 -- some people might be saying that global warming isn't a big deal, but I hope you're not thinking of me. GW is a big deal and will be a disaster. It's the jump to Malthusianism that bugs me.

No, I wasn't thinking of you, and I don't think I have a clear enough sense of what 'Malthusianism' means to get into that part of the argument.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 1:59 PM
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Well, I guess in a hypothetical world without capital, there would be no capital investment in farming. But that's not the real world and never will be. Agriculture is the last thing people stop investing in, not the first. And food scarcity, if it shows up, will attract more capital into agriculture, not less.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:00 PM
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349 makes sense, actually. Foreigners may turn out to have other preferences that surprise us. (check the language dstribution, the graph is pointless).


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:02 PM
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'Cept if you need to re-build cities that flooded last year, and your on-going costs for everything energy-related are higher, and food costs more, and so does firefighting, and SFO needs a new levee and EVERYTHING is more expensive. In that case, firm intentions or no, you're not going to have spare capital to invest in farming. I mean, which of those would you forfeit?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:03 PM
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I step away for a few hours and you all become incredibly depressing.

I think folks are just trying to lose those love-handles. Depression is great for weight loss.

Recent experience suggests that "fat and happy" has some validity among both Mr. and Mrs. President.

See?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:03 PM
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Pretend 2 out of 4 lines in 356 were not italicized.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:04 PM
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A gas tax now would help quite a bit in agricultural adjustment. First, it would slow sprawl, leaving more near-by land for farming. Second, it would slow the use of oil so more is left for future farming. The last drop of oil is either going to be burnt in a tractor or a tank.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:07 PM
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Not only is 355 right, but 353 seems to forget that it needs to be arguing for increased world food production. Saying that, if Americans are starving, then they'll find a way to get enough food doesn't get you to Step One in the question of how to feed the bottom 4 billion in a 3-4° warmer world.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:14 PM
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Step One in the question of how to feed the bottom 4 billion in a 3-4° warmer world.

Soilent green.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:17 PM
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||

356?:Recent experience suggests that "fat and happy" has some validity among both Mr. and Mrs. President.

Carbs are an addictive and pleasuring drug. Fat makes you want carbs.

Restarted my Atkins Monday.

Just for grins, I read some Brad Pilon on his fasting diet.

24 hours between meals is a fast? That's my everyday on Atkins, unless I'm doing heavy resistance. Apparently the 18th hour is when you start burning fat.

Only two fasts a week? Pilon says, "well, three might be ok, but then someone might then go to 5, and then we are in trouble." Uh-oh.

1-2 lbs a week? I do five without breaking a sweat.

I should follow Pilon, and go Atkins only two days a week. But I like fasting!

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:17 PM
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The last drop of oil is either going to be burnt in a tractor or a tank.

Nicely ominous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:18 PM
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362: Thanks. I think I thought of it myself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:19 PM
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355:SFO.

Not my choice, but the precedent and message has been sent.

Please, y'all, c'mon down to Dallas.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:20 PM
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362: Agreed.

Bob, you start burning fat after 45 minutes of non-intensive biking. That would save you 17.25 hours of starvation. Although I suppose you couldn't take 2 dogs with you on most streets.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:24 PM
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365.2: I'm glad you said that. I was googling to see if Bob could be right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:29 PM
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See Moby you should get a bike.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:34 PM
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367: No room. My garage is full of guillotines. Plus, I really do live near the top of a very steep hill.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:36 PM
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This -- and food costs more -- is the key point of 354. Do you really think that capital won't be interested in agriculture in a world in which food prices are rising? Let's assume that you're right that adaptation costs to the other impacts from global warming are high. What reason do you have for thinking that people would stop investing in the one product that produces guaranteed higher returns?

This has nothing to do with Americans, by the way (although we spend so little on food we could afford a substantial increase in food costs, and would probably see health benefits from costlier food). The question is, globally, whether global warming is likely to create a situation in which population outstrips the global food supply, creating famine. I do think that there's a remote possibility of a total shock to the agricultural system that could create such a widespread disruption that this is possible. But I don't think that' s likely. I do think that there's a considerable likelihood that there will be famine or starvation among third world populations who are seriously disrupted by climate change.

But the notion that somehow, in a world in which we already have abundant, cheap food (enough not only to sustain current world population but a considerably increased population), rising food prices (which would attract, not repulse capital investment in food production) is going to lead to a technological collapse in the food system that will then produce a population collapse seems very wrong.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:39 PM
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I really do live near the top of a very steep hill.

Just think of it as training for The Dirty Dozen Race.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:52 PM
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Plus, I really do live near the top of a very steep hill.

Bah. I know (to a close approximation) where you live, and I bike past there quite often (given how rarely I go to that area by any means). I've even towed my kid on her trail-a-bike.

No more excuses!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 2:58 PM
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I do think that there's a considerable likelihood that there will be famine or starvation among third world populations who are seriously disrupted by climate change.

I think this represents comity. I don't think anyone here has predicted first worlders starving. The prediction is, roughly: less global ag capacity (due to desertification and deglaciation), including within the first world (esp. if the Gulf Stream stops); inadequate capital to rebuild capacity to 2010 levels; the poor get screwed (even worse than usual).

It's not clear to me, in a world where northern Europe has Yukon-like ag conditions, that half a billion starving third worlders get enough food aid to make a difference.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 3:05 PM
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Mmmm, not quite at comity yet, but maybe close.

I don't think that famine or starvation in the third world will be the result of capacity constraints on the global food supply. I think, like every famine in modern history, the problem will come from a local shock (like the Irish potato famine) that, due to a failure of social organization, results in death until the problem can be corrected. For example, I could easily see massive flooding in Bangladesh, combined with some crazy political situation, leading to starvation there. But this will look much more like the kinds of famines that we've seen in the modern world in the past 200 years, perhaps at a more widespread level, than a new kind of global food shock that comes from hitting the upper bound of global capacity for food consumption.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 3:14 PM
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373 -- upper bound of global capacity for food production.

The global capacity for food consumption is pretty high, and I'm certainly doing my part to encourage its rapid growth.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 3:21 PM
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We may not reach comity on this one.

I think production capacity will go down (by a lot), and we'll be lucky to realize that potential, given that we'll be poorer.

But we don't have to agree.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 3:27 PM
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But this will look much more like the kinds of famines that we've seen in the modern world in the past 200 years, perhaps at a more widespread level, than a new kind of global food shock that comes from hitting the upper bound of global capacity for food production.

I think that's a distinction without a difference. Things are already bad. The USDA says that in 2008 there were more than a million children in the US who were hungry multiple times during the year. That's now, when we're rich, before much in the way of distruption from GW.

So the number of hungry children in the US may merely climb, from a million this year to ten million in thirty years, and it won't be like we've reached maximum food production. It'll just be creative destruction while we adjust to conditions, while capital flows into Africa to buy laser guided graders. But it'll also be a lot of hingry kids right here.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 3:41 PM
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Or hungry kids. Kids whose parents don't live in China where the steel forr those graders is being made, and who don't have the skills to write the programs for the GPSs. Kids whose parents can't find work, in a country that's stingy about the safety net now and may get a whole lot stingier in a few decades.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 3:43 PM
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We're probably not going to agree on this one, and that's cool. Here's the current IPCC thinking on the issue (which of course I'm quoting b/c I think it supports what I've been saying, but may be interesting generally). Their bottom line is that you will see an increase between 10-170 million hungry people in the world in 2080 than you would have had in a world without global warming, but that this increase will be offset by a general reduction of about 600-700 million hungry people compared to today's world. In other words, even with substantial global warming, there will be substantially less hunger in the world 70 years from now, although more hunger than there would have been without climate change.

Despite these limitations and uncertainties, a number of fairly robust findings for policy use emerge from these studies. First, climate change is likely to increase the number of people at risk of hunger compared with reference scenarios with no climate change. However, impacts will depend strongly on projected socio-economic developments (Table 5.6). For instance, Fischer et al. (2002a, 2005b) estimate that climate change will increase the number of undernourished people in 2080 by 5-26%, relative to the no climate change case, or by between 5-10 million (SRES B1) and 120-170 million people (SRES A2). The within-SRES ranges are across several GCM climate projections. Using only one GCM scenario, Parry et al. (2004, 2005) estimated small reductions by 2080, i.e., -5% (-10 [B] to -30 [A2] million people), and slight increases of +13-26% (10 [B2] to 30 [A1] million people).
Second, the magnitude of these climate impacts will be small compared with the impacts of socio-economic development (e.g., Tubiello et al., 2007b). With reference to Table 5.6, these studies suggest that economic growth and slowing population growth projected for the 21st century will, globally, significantly reduce the number of people at risk of hunger in 2080 from current levels. Specifically, compared with FAO estimates of 820 million undernourished in developing countries today, Fischer et al. (2002a, 2005b) and Parry et al. (2004, 2005) estimate reductions by more than 75% by 2080, or by about 560-700 million people, thus projecting a global total of 100-240 million undernourished by 2080 (A1, B1 and B2). By contrast, in A2, the number of the hungry may decrease only slightly in 2080, because of larger population projections compared with other SRES scenarios (Fischer et al., 2002a, 2005b; Parry et al., 2004, 2005; Tubiello and Fischer, 2006). These projections also indicate that, with or without climate change, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving the proportion of people at risk of hunger by 2015 may not be realised until 2020-2030 (Fischer et al., 2005b; Tubiello, 2005).
Third, sub-Saharan Africa is likely to surpass Asia as the most food-insecure region. However, this is largely independent of climate change and is mostly the result of the projected socio-economic developments for the different developing regions. Studies using various SRES scenarios and model analyses indicate that by 2080 sub-Saharan Africa may account for 40-50% of all undernourished people, compared with about 24% today (Fischer et al., 2002a, 2005b; Parry et al., 2004, 2005); some estimates are as high as 70-75% under the A2 and B2 assumptions of slower economic growth (Fischer et al., 2002a; Parry et al., 2004; Tubiello and Fischer, 2006).
Fourth, there is significant uncertainty concerning the effects of elevated CO2 on food security. With reference to Table 5.6, under most future scenarios the assumed strength of CO2 fertilisation would not greatly affect global projections of hunger, particularly when compared with the absolute reductions attributed solely to socio-economic development (Tubiello et al., 2007a,b). For instance, employing one GCM, but assuming no effects of CO2 on crops, Fischer et al. (2002a, 2005b) and Parry et al. (2004, 2005) projected absolute global numbers of undernourished in 2080 in the range of 120-380 million people across SRES scenarios A1, B1 and B2, as opposed to a range of 100-240 million when account is taken of CO2 effects. The exception again in these studies is SRES A2, under which scenario the assumption of no CO2 fertilisation results in a projected range of 950-1,300 million people undernourished in 2080, compared with 740-850 million with climate change and CO2 effects on crops.
Finally, recent research suggests large positive effects of climate mitigation on the agricultural sector, although benefits, in terms of avoided impacts, may be realised only in the second half of this century due to the inertia of global mean temperature and the easing of positive effects of elevated CO2 in the mitigated scenarios (Arnell et al., 2002; Tubiello and Fischer, 2006). Even in the presence of robust global long-term benefits, regional and temporal patterns of winners and losers are highly uncertain and critically dependent on GCM projections (Tubiello and Fischer, 2006).

Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 3:55 PM
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Megan and JRoth, how about a bet. Winner takes the loser to dinner in 2030, if we can still afford it and haven't been eaten by giant rabbits. I assume I'll still be wasting my time at this goddamn blog then.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:07 PM
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We'll see about that.


Posted by: OPINIONATED RABBITS | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:10 PM
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I'm always game for a bet (especially if I can rig the outcome), but what are we betting?

Amount of world ag?
Change in average yields?
Percent hungry people?
Malthusian collapse OF EVERYTHING?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:16 PM
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Rabbits as our new overlords?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:16 PM
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382:Do I need to back thru this thread to see if anyone has made an Anya joke yet, before I make one?

I'll assume it's been done, and I'm pwnd, so I won't bore people with another Anya joke, less funny than the first one.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:23 PM
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382: I fail to see what is new about having a rabbit as an overlord.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:24 PM
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May I introduce some data? Here's a rather good input-output diagram of US oil production (and import) and consumption (and export). It's falling, and it's basically cars. Gas is broader, but still dominated by power generation and transport.

Electricity generation is remarkably inefficient, but it's not the grid that's the problem (compare "T&D Losses" and "Conversion Losses"). And where does the electricity come from? Coal.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:25 PM
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My inner Nikolai Vosnezhensky says: If I had visualisations like that, the Soviet Union would rule the solar system.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:28 PM
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344

Poorer world, rob. And capital-intensive farming requires, you know, capital. First world food is cheap - on the consumer end - because of A. a century of massive capital investment, and B. massive and ongoing gov't subsidies.

Most government interference in US food markets is for the purpose of propping prices up. Even more so in Europe I believe.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:29 PM
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381 -- I'm pretty sure that "Malthusian collapse OF EVERYTHING" means that I win, because either I get a free dinner or restaurants will no longer exist. So that doesn't seem fair.

So how about percentage of undernourished people? We'll use the FAO's 2007 estimate of 820 million undernourished people as a baseline; world population in 2007 was about 6.6 billion, I think, so that's about 12.4% of world population that's undernourished. If that stays about the same or goes down by 2030, dinner on you. If it goes up, dinner on me. (If there's a big increase but not as a result of global warming, like, there's a massive war, we go dutch. And then we go back to the fallout shelter.)

I think that's a pretty good deal for you, since even a rise in the world number of the undernourished due to global warming doesn't mean Malthusian collapse based on reaching an upper bound of global food production. But I'll probably need a night out in 2030 anyway.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:38 PM
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the purpose of propping prices up

I'm pretty sure there's more to the dynamic. The gov't promises farmers $20/bushel or whatever. If the market only supports $15/bushel, the gov't makes up the rest (they also pay people not to produce, which is an indirect price support).

I know there's been a move away from direct price supports, but iirc, they haven't killed them yet.

Anyway, the important thing is that ultra-efficient CA ag is the result of decades of education/experimentation plus billions of capital inputs; you can't snap your fingers and expect to replicate it in Mali.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:47 PM
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Really? You are optimistic that the percentage of undernourished people will be lower in 2030 than it was in 2007 (12.4%)?

I'll take that bet.

Does JRoth get the control bet, for the world without global warming?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:48 PM
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388:I'd bet you, Halford, on a year after 2015 with flat or declining global pop growth. I wouldn't be required to show any causality or connection to AGW or food supplies, but win on the bare fact. IOW, if Pakistan went to war with India, you wouldn't cry "no fair." My premise is that the resource catastrophe will mostly play out indirectly. I would double on 2030.

Example:Little Ice Age, 30 Years War.

But I don't expect to be around in 2020.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:49 PM
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I don't think I'd pick 2030 as a good year for judgement. Frex, if PA is to become AL in 90 years, then 2030 just represents a stretch of warm weather relative to (20th C) norms. You're only as far as North Carolina - not exactly tropical - in 2055.

IOW, I'll be surprised - and horrified - if large scale disruptions to the global food supply are occurring in the next 20 years. In that time scale, I expect 1st world prices to go up modestly (e.g., less cheap meat) and a handful of isolated 3rd world famines, not 1st world disruptions and 3rd world collapse. Those I expect to happen when I'm doddering or in the grave.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:52 PM
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Bob, that condition includes the scenario "global demographic transition fixes a lot of things except the budget or the chances of doing anything interesting".


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:53 PM
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You're on!

Since you and I will both never leave California willingly, we will make JRoth come out. To meet on NorCal/SoCal neutral ground, we can eat at the Harris Ranch steakhouse.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:53 PM
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If you win the bet, you can choose the Harris Ranch steakhouse (although I'm not sure they'd let me in if they knew I wrote OtPr. They'll have forgotten by then, no doubt.).

When JRoth and I win the bet, we'll choose the venue.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:56 PM
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Bob, by 2015 I expect you to have replaced Robert Osborne as on-air host of Turner Classic Movies (now with bonus Leninist apocalyptic rants) so you can take me to dinner.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:57 PM
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True, about 2030 being too soon. But I'm not up for a forty year bet.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 4:58 PM
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365
Bob, you start burning fat after 45 minutes of non-intensive biking.

Jesus, that's how long it takes? I consider myself virtuous (industrious, self-disciplined, whatever) and suitably tired-out after half an hour on a treadmill at the gym after work. I'm close to my highest weight ever at the moment. I want to live healthier and lose weight, more for body-image reasons than anything else, and you're saying it takes 45 minutes to start burning fat? Please tell me it takes less time via intensive or semi-intensive jogging than via non-intensive biking.

Someone else said that talk about world famine was depressing but I've been resigned to global warming culminating in a Waterworld scenario, so all the talk about global warming so far seems beside the point. This revelation, though, is depressing to me.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:01 PM
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321

What do you mean by "noise"? If you mean "can't be attributed to climate change with any statistical significance", there's no basis for saying that, though I haven't looked at their study closely enough to be sure I agree with all of their methods. If you mean "not enough people to be concerned about", then we just disagree on that point.

Basically I meant both.

I skimmed the report. It comes across as propaganda. Their methodology seems to mostly consist of handwaving.

One specific quibble. Their estimate seems to refer to all climate change not just human induced climate change. Even under the natural conditions the climate is not static and changes can hurt poor people on the edge. As for example the Viking settlers in Greenland.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:03 PM
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389

I'm pretty sure there's more to the dynamic. The gov't promises farmers $20/bushel or whatever. If the market only supports $15/bushel, the gov't makes up the rest (they also pay people not to produce, which is an indirect price support).

Food stamps are a large price support.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:04 PM
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398 - I have a recommendation.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:09 PM
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about 2030 being too soon

Oil prices doubled and stabilized during a world depression, with a spike, in the last decade. I can't predict another doubling, but I will predict an increase.
The spike caused temp famine.

I expect 1st world prices to go up modestly (e.g., less cheap meat) and a handful of isolated 3rd world famines

So global food prices will go up. What do you think wages are going to do in the next decade? Are you neo-classical, to expect decreased consumption, or are 1st worlders addicted and demand inelastic? If, say Americans buy less toys but same food, 3ed world wages will go down.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:10 PM
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Food stamps are a large price support.

A large program, but a small price support. The primary producer's share of the value of a typical basket of groceries is small, and I'll conjecture it's even smaller for the average food stamp recipient.

Food stamps get lumped in with ag subsidies because the program is administered by the USDA, but if they were really intended as a price support, they would only be valid on unprocessed commodities produced in the U.S.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:13 PM
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398: The talk of long intervals until you start burning fat really doesn't square with the bit I have read about exercise physiology. A desultory google leads me to this adequate primer. See the discussion of the third "Myth" in particular.

Essentially, your body mostly powers itself off carbs and fat. Carbs are easier to burn than fat, but you can store less of them (~2000 altogether versus ~3500 per lb of fat), so the body stores them for high intensity activity. So, I have been led to believe, when you start doing moderate-or-high intensity aerobic activity, your body actually starts getting relatively more of its energy from carbs than from fat. Unless you're quite the fidgeter, in fact, you're probably actually getting the majority of your blog commenting energy from the burning of fat.

If you continue your intense workout without taking any food in, your carb stores will run down and your body will start to get more of its energy from fat. Perhaps this is where the idea comes from that you don't burn fat until later in your workout.

If you keep at your activity, while still not eating anything, eventually your carb levels will get super low and you'll feel all funny and slow way down and want to quit. You may even get a light headed feeling because you have barely enough simple sugars left to power the brain. This is what's known as "bonking" or "hitting the wall". Which is why the prudent endurance athlete carries Gu.

Here's more of the Good News about Exercise, via ultrarunner S/cott D/unlap.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:27 PM
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404: That's good to know, but none of it explains why people want to me cycle up Schenley Park or right down Forbes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:31 PM
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How could a runner know good news about exercise?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:33 PM
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306: huh, it's odd that you notice that dramatic a difference, JRoth (unless you prior connection was just genuinely slow). My wifi connection here at home is testing at 14.25 down, 8.25 up. I tested my computer at work today, and I don't have the numbers in front of me, but down and up were both over 75. And yet, from a user perspective I don't really notice a difference between the two.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:33 PM
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Shit: store less fewer of them


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:34 PM
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406: You know, if our communities were to heal the schism and be all ecumenical and shit we might be able to spread the Good News a lot further and hence save a lot more souls.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:35 PM
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That's good to know, but none of it explains why people want to me cycle up Schenley Park or right down Forbes.

Because it would be badass and you'd be using more of your body's capabilities and after a few days you'd be like, "Holy shit this feels awesome!"

</zeal of the born again>


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:37 PM
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Come to the gym with me?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:39 PM
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Sure! It's been awhile since my pecs had a good blasting. (Did I say that right?)


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:40 PM
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Oh dear.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:41 PM
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My internet is apparently wicked slow and yet fine for my purposes. I must need better purposes.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 5:45 PM
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I'm 7.26 down, 0.36 up on Roadrunner at home.

This thread has been interesting and informative. I base this on absolutely nothing more than uninformed wild-assed guessing, but I expect drug-resistant infections will be a bigger downward pressure on world population than food supply.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:41 PM
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Just in case you were starting to feel hopeful again.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 8:42 PM
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Democratic Senators Dorgan today, and Dodd tomorrow, are announcing retirements.

Dorgan was one of the good guys.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 5-10 10:15 PM
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I deserve a carbon credit for planning to die young.


Posted by: Econolicious, too cool to live, too young to die | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 1:56 AM
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Dorgan was one of the good guys.

Certainly in terms of what could be expected from North Dakota. Sigh. Dodd is probably for the best, in raw electoral terms.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 5:25 AM
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415: Usually 20 down, .98 up using their reccommned server in L.A. with Roadrunner. However, my speeds vary greatly depending on the server picked and the distance.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 5:59 AM
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Democratic Senators Dorgan today

This really surprised me. Which might just mean I haven't been paying enough attention to local politics recently. The only person I can think who might replace him would be Gov Hoeven. Who has been a pretty good governor, but I would assume run as a Rep. Maybe there is someone else to run for the Dems that could win, but I don't know who it would be.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 6:17 AM
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This thread makes me wish that "Malthusian" had merely lived long enough to provide the inspiring thought experiment* for Darwin and Wallace and then been forgotten.

*Really just noticing that reproductive strategies are intrinsically exponential in nature yet are not so in practice over the long run due to ecological constraints. An ongoing baby bunny** apocalypse is what fuels natural selection. So many potential bunny mommy and daddies, so few actual successful ones, the rest just so much hawk, fox and worm meat. And yet every bunny rabbit (and every other thing) alive today is the product of an unbroken string of reproductive winners who beat those odds***.

** Or tadpoles, seedlings, what have you.

***Today's "whoa dude!" tautology brought to you by Richard Dawkins****.

****Bonus semi-relevant Dawkins quote: "However many ways there may be of being alive it is certain that there are more ways of being dead. "


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 7:11 AM
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422:Malthus is important for his work on the demand side of economics and the business cycle, of which population limits is only a subset. "Wages must move toward subsistence" is really why he was the origin of the "dismal science" description of economics.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 9:28 AM
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423: Yes, general discussion of Malthus and his general contributions to early economics thought is certainly OK; discussion of Malthusian Collapse not so much.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 10:08 AM
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424:discussion of Malthusian Collapse not so much.

Well, Quiggin and Thoma have invited the Marxists today, and I am feeling ornery.

Malthus always understood the "Collapse", as does Diamond, as a social rather than ecological phenomenon. We are not sparrows. Malthus proffered social solutions.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 11:16 AM
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"Dismal science" was coined by Carlyle in an attack on J. S. Mill's egalitarianism.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 11:56 AM
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it's odd that you notice that dramatic a difference, JRoth (unless you prior connection was just genuinely slow)

Yeah, I'm now regretting that I never tested my system under the old regime (which is now dead). Put it this way - on a brand-new, decent-spec computer, a typical Youtube video was more likely than not to hang up, at least a bit (even when connected to the router via cable). Now, the bar fills up within the first few seconds of running. All but the most graphics-intensive (or, possibly, poorly-coded) pages now load near-instantly. Before there was at least a pause - maybe not long enough to be a drag, but long enough that I'd call up a page and then click over to another tab while the first one loaded. I'm still in that habit, but now the first page loads (or nearly so) before I manage to click away.

I don't know how parsimon is living with dialup.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 3:35 PM
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That's good to know, but none of it explains why people want to me cycle up Schenley Park or right down Forbes.

Because, honestly, it's nice to know that, if I have to go to the South Side, I can get there in the same time in much more pleasant fashion while improving my health, saving the planet, and avoiding parking concerns. I've been to somewhere between 50 and 100 ballgames since PNC Park opened; I've only driven to a dozen or so (although that also includes some busing, but probably just another dozen of those). Running errands via bike is a million times better, because the on-and-off time is negligible plus, again, the increased pleasantness (I don't find much pleasant about driving 5 blocks in city conditions).

All of which is facilitated by getting into the basic shape required for going up Schenley or developing the mindset for racing down Forbes. One thing I'd note is that, when I started riding a lot 11 years ago, getting up those hills took just a couple tries to become vastly easier - bikes are incredibly efficient machines, and your legs just need a bit of practice to learn how to pedal up a big hill in the right gear (assuming that you're starting from non-deathlike condition).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 6-10 3:44 PM
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