Friday, June 28, 2013

Disarming the Carbon Bomb

After the last AGU, Eli pointed out that there was a huge shift towards worry about coming really bad
climate change consequences.  People were openly dismissive of the fig leaf denialists science types in the membership and even the AGU administration was spoiling for a fight

This Was The Month That Was, with a similar shift occurring amongst the politicians and policy makers.  Of course, there was Obama's speech, less important for what was said, weak tea in many ways.  As a friend of Eli put it
There's not a lot of climate news in Obama's plan; except for the addition of the pointless action on HFC's methane and other shortlived climate pollution, it's pretty much what was outlined in the PCAST report. 
Well maybe except a hint that Keystone is not completely signed sealed and delivered
Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation's interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.

The net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It's relevant."
Obama has been exceedingly cautious about politically aligning himself with anyone to the left of Bob Dole, doing so by stealth when necessary, so it is noteworthy that somebunny deep inside motivated him to actually speak publicly about climate issues, to affirm the Cook Consensus (97% is pretty good, even in Tolsville) in no uncertain terms.  He felt safe to go far beyond his previous public statements.

Perhaps even more important is how the avalanching scientific controversy on weather weirding has empowered politicians from unlikely places to begin speculation.  There have been disasterous floods in India, Eli reads in the Times of India
NEW DELHI: The catastrophic rainfall in Uttarakhand was most likely a climate change event as it is in keeping with a pattern of increasing incidents of extreme weather events that often cause phenomenal damage as was seen in the hill state, earth sciences secretary Shailesh Nayak said.

Nayak told TOI on Friday that although "direct evidence" was lacking, the cloudburst that triggered flash floods in Uttarakhand read like a weather phenomenon brought about by warming. "Extreme weather is becoming more common, the June 17 rains might be read in the context of climate change," he said.
and, of course, all the bunnies know how Fred Singer and Joe Bast's cruise to China was plagued by overflowing toilets.  The Chinese recognize the threat, the link between carbon pollution and extreme weather, and have begun to plan for changes.  Since China has a centrally controlled economy dominated by the government, plans made at the top have the force of law (just a fact folks).  Eli has bolded some of the more important take homes
China is one of the countries most vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change. Starting in 2011, the country has been hit by a string of extreme weather and climate events, including the low-temperature freezing rain and snow in south China, spring and summer droughts in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, rainstorms and floods in the south, typhoons in coastal areas, autumn rains in western China and serious waterlogging in Beijing. These weather and climate disasters have impacted China’s economic and social development as well as people’s lives and property in a large degree. In 2011 alone, natural disasters affected 430 million peopleand caused direct economic losses of 309.6 billion yuan.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the issue of climate change. In 2011, the Fourth Session of the Eleventh National People’s Congress approved the Outline of the 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, which defines the objectives, tasks and general framework for China’s economic and social development during the 12th Five-Year Plan period. The Outline underlines the importance of climate change and integrates measures for addressing it into the
country’s mid-term and long-term plans for economic and social development. It sets binding targets to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 percent, cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 17 percent, and raise the proportion of non-fossil fuels in the overall primary energy mix to 11.4 percent. It defines the objectives, tasks and policy orientation of China’s response to climate change over the next five years and identifies key tasks, including controlling greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change, and strengthening international cooperation.

To fulfill the country’s objectives and tasks in addressing climate change during the 12th Five-Year Plan period and promote green and low-carbon development, the State Council has issued a number of important policy documents, including the Work Plan for Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions During the 12th Five-Year Plan Period and the Comprehensive Work Plan for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction During the 12th Five-Year Plan Period, to strengthen planning and guidance in addressing climate change. Relevant departments and local governments have actively addressed climate change and made remarkable progress in this regard. China continues to play a positive and constructive role in international climate change negotiations and pushed for positive outcomes at the Durban Climate Change Conference, thereby making a significant contribution to addressing global climate change.
China needs to do more, with a growing economy, emissions will still rise, but every trip starts somewhere.
Just as the Occupy Movement shifted the public discourse so that it was again allowed to discuss inequality, and indeed to the point where those who assert out and out Randian day dreams can be openly mocked, weather weirding allows policy and political discussions of climate change to confront reality without having to deal with the persiflage of the rejectionists.  (This is a blog, ok, different rules.)

Still, as Eli's friend put it there remain problems in the emotionally underdeveloped countries
The biggest carbon bomb is about to be dropped by Australia, if Labor loses and the conservatives drop the coal mining tax, which at least makes China's import of Australian coal a bit more expensive. The coal mining tax is probably even more important than Australia's carbon tax.  Why do so many Australians want to give away their coal practically for free?

Image is from Visual Carbon, which has some, admittedly Canadian (only certain provinces are emotionally underdeveloped and, of course they are underwater currently) centered but interesting and useful graphics


Hank Roberts said...

bill said...

Why do so many Australians want to give away their coal practically for free?

It's a mystery to many of us locals!

If my workplace is anything to go by - and I reckon it is - it's because 'everyone knows' we shouldn't be taxing any current massive windfall mineral profits, and since that's the case, there's no tiresome need for any individual to store any actual explanations beyond that. See Murdoch, R, for much of the explanation.

As an adjunct, no-one I know - outside of certain circles that, again, 'everyone knows' (see Murdoch ibid) you shouldn't listen to - has ever managed to identify for me who owns Australia's mineral wealth. They look sort-of impressed, momentarily, when I point out it's them, but, then again, I'm one of those people who everyone knows you shouldn't listen to.

But Prince Rupert really isn't the whole explanation - could he ever be?

Australia is increasingly a land of affluent, gizmo-bedecked frequent-flyers who really hate being told the party might ever have to end. Forget the lean, laconic, egalitarian thing! Australia is also currently very much a nation where the best are full of doubt, and the worst a dreadful certainty.

Remember these things, and much of our forthcoming slide off the map of the thinking world will become, well, not clearer, perhaps, but a little less opaque...

Susan Anderson said...

As to who owns a lot of Australia's mineral wealth, you might like to check this out (this gal is a fan and hirer of mountebank Lord Monckton himself. Kind of a frontier Koch type, even more sociopathic and with even less tendency to pretend she's ethical (and I wouldn't care say this in Australia as I'd probably end up bankrupt from the lawsuits.

bill said...

Well yes - compare Ms. Rinehart's wishlist to the amusingly-named-Liberal-Party's policy platform, and you'll be astonished - astonished - to discover...

As to lawsuits - in the circles I move in (i.e. those who shouldn't be listened to) there is a very real awareness, based on some prominent court-cases, that by challenging vested interests you may well become embroiled in a truly dreadful mess where even if you win, or the case is eventually simply dropped (both of which are quite likely), you'll probably have aged at triple the natural rate for the period concerned anyway. In my experience people with younger children to consider are particularly intimidated - unsurprisingly!

Having been 1 degree of separation from some of the cases involved this situation shapes every comment I make online, for instance.

One might well argue that democracy is little served by this situation, but neither the amusingly-named Libs nor the equally-amusingly-named Labor[sic] Party appear to lose any sleep over it. Of course, if they were to incur the wrath of Gina and Murdoch, R, by trying to do something about it; well, then, they would be losing sleep...

Bryson said...

Well now, speaking for the Canadian province in question, I think I can say it isn't quite that bad here--the shape of things is more cautiously corporate, with slush funds for those willing to sell the right story. But the government is in a similar state, after more than 40 years of one-party rule. So in Alberta newspeak, 'environmentally responsible' has apparently come to mean 'in accord with corporate plans for development of our carbon bomb'. And the recent floods have nothing, nothing I tell you, to do with climate change. I predict much gnashing of teeth, as the bad news becomes apparent to all.

Russell Seitz said...

La Rinehart's marked resemblence to Bunker Hunt hecalls that Hunt's best buddy Bud Adams has bankrolled the egregious Larry Bell, Jame's Taylor's Forbes sidekick, by seating the erstwhile Huouston 'space architect' on the board of his oil company.

Susan Anderson said...

but we digress. Very good article.

However, just too tempting, if a mite off base, to quote Harding:

“And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be - and whenever I look up, there will be you."
― Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd

Russell Seitz said...

It is harder to quote Harding than Hardy , but here goes :

"Progression is not proclamation nor palaver. It is not pretense nor play on prejudice. It is not of personal pronouns nor perennial pronouncement. It is not the perturbation of a people passion-wrought, nor a promise proposed. Progression is everlastingly lifting the standards that marked the end of the world's march yesterday and planting them on new and advanced heights today.

Mencken was right- Warren Gamaliel Harding wrote so badly" that a certain grandeur enters into it ."

Russell Seitz said...

ICorrigendum :

am chagrinned to report that the aforementioned Larry E Bell , has a doppelganger- Forbes erroneously attached the Adams Oil directorship of Larry E. Bell of Austin to his Houston eponym.

Susan Anderson said...

Russell, you are incorrigible.

I should have known you'd be able to improve on my typo, which I only caught after the click. That is an amazingly apposite example of apt alliteration's artful aid.

How sad that we are rapidly pricing ourselves out of the facility to produce this puny palaver.

regards from your friendly neighborhood language lover with laughter ...

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