Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Five Fold Path

What to do about climate change is framed as a choice between adaptation and mitigation, code words for either accepting the inevitable while struggling on or maybe actually doing something.  This is a false dichotomy.

Eli has never been a shy bunny, for example, Eli Rabett's Simple Plan to Save the World.   In this tradition, the Rabett wishes to tell the annonymice once again what the real choices are to deal with the mess we are in and the worse mess that is coming.

The world needs a five pronged strategy

  • Adaptation dealing with the damage already done that cannot be undone
  • Amelioration, eliminating harmful effects of our actions
  • Conservation with needed and desired but not wasteful usage
  • Substitution of green systems for destructive ones
  • Mitigation reversing our thoughtless abuse
Conservation includes energy efficiency, amelioration covers such things as CO2 capture and storage so we don't do more damage, substitution increased nuclear, solar, and wind energy replacing fossil fuels, mitigation is reserved for things that actually decrease the concentrations of greenhouse gases and reverse damaging land use changes.  Adaptation is a last choice, the bitter pill to be swallowed when nothing else is to be done.

A richer vocabulary.



Albedo and carbon footprints often overlap in ways that strain this new use of the term 'mitigation ' , for brightening urban areas cuts local temperatures directly .

Less semantic aggressiion might conduce to clarity all around.

John Mashey said...

Eli: at least some people (and there's a quote somewhere) split what you call adaptation into

For example:
warmer climate may mean changing which crops you grow. If you're in the Okanagan, that's good: you can grow wine grapes now. If you're in Napa, you may not be so happy.

suffering: droughts worsen to the point where you not longer can grow anything useful.

Of course, there's the issue that suffering somewhere else may not matter ... or it might. Bunnies (who have not already seen this) might want to guess:

if you asked a recently-retired US Chief of naval Operations, who had a climate task force, the resulting concerns from climate change, what would his #1 worry be?
(Hint: not sea level rise for Norfolk & San Diego, that was #4).
And why?

Sou said...

@John Mashey. I'm guessing here, but given naval background, maybe civil harmony and global/national security would be top of mind.

I see that issue as a sort of catch all encompassing a lot of problems in the future. A meta-problem perhaps.

Threats to security arise from the possibility of escalating civil conflict caused by anything from rising food prices to scarcity of food and water, unlivable land caused by drought, flood and rising sea levels through to conflict between nations from similar complex causes.

Thing with conflict is that it has a multiplier effect, leading to disruptions in national and international transport and travel, communications, trade etc.

Today's concerns about terrorism, asylum seekers etc may well seem insignificant compared to problems that could arise in the future, such as housing climate refugees, war, food shortages, depleting oceans, spread of disease and all the various flow on effects of these.

People who worry about a piddly carbon tax now - how will they grapple with decisions in a future world, when the trade off may be between shutting the national borders and winding back the economy such that it's purely domestic vs reaching out and helping address massive international problems - and figuring out how to meet the cost of various solutions.

Marlowe Johnson said...


i've never understood why cool roofs don't get more attention...

Hank Roberts said...

> why cool roofs don't
> get more attention

1) you don't need one until you need to replace your old roof, and
2) roofers don't understand that a high-emissivity roof will -- constantly -- condense water out of the surrounding air, below and above the roof surface."cool+roof"+condensation
Try to explain the physics to a roofer who sees all the extra work and material involved as mere nervous homeowner nonsense.


John, the infatuation of the Napalese with their Algerian climate continues to satound those who like what cold stress does to pinot and riesling.

They have the ideal climate for the finest kind of lemons, and should accordingly aim for world class lemonade. and something resembling madeira.

Anonymous said...

From bjchip

The opening up of the Arctic Ocean and resource conflicts in that region.

This should be a sixfold path... an inauspicious number to be sure... for suffering and adaptation are related but not the same at all.


Hank Roberts said...

PS: one reason I sometimes jump on blogging enthusiasts is rather well said here.

I don't know the blogger, just happened on the piece. But it communicates.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Anthony Watts has forgotten how to account for anomalies and baselines:

Sez NOAA, as quoted by Watts: "0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average"
Sez Watts: "Even NASA GISS is lower according to their May monthly combined global data which comes in at +0.56°C compared to NCDC’s claimed value of 0.66°C"
Sez the linked GISS data page: "base period: 1951-1980"

Sez a quick calculation with Excel: the difference between the GISS 1951-1980 period and the 1901-2000 period is 0.05 degrees C.

Whee! In one step, I have reconciled over half of the irreconcilable difference!!!


Post in question:

crf said...

I hope Eli's post is a gentle smackdown of Brian, for his post of a few days back? He needed it.

At any rate, I have a criticism. Conservation seems like a good idea, but it has some nasty tricks. For instance conserving fossil fuels, or forested land, seem like no-brainers. But conserving electricity may not be all of a good thing. Reducing electricity demand means that it remains ever more economic to lock-in the system we already have. It means that it becomes ever more expensive to add new, cleaner power onto the grid (impossible, really, without subsidies of one kind or another). And since many of the electricity system's costs are fixed, the less demand, the less produced, but the more rates will have to go up. Less demand also means that the marginal cost of any new nuclear plant or wind farm goes up (or gas plant or coal plant too), since we will not be building them in as great numbers as would be the case in the increasing-demand world.

I think we need electricity demand-creating policies, more than we need electricity conservation policies. (Electric cars are one, but we need more.)

The developing world has a much easier task of creating a decarbonized energy system than the already built-up western world, in an economic sense. There's no environmental credit pushing the conservation message in the developing world.

William T said...

Without a price on carbon, any conservation or substitution efforts are in vain because they end up reducing demand and thus the price of C. There will always be someone else who will gladly take up the slack you have created by your reduction in usage.

Hank Roberts said...

"... a large portion of the voting populace doesn't make a decision regarding who to vote for, but rather, whether or not to vote. If you're an average voter and you're trying to decide whether or not to show up on a cold November day and cast a ballot ...."

Marlowe Johnson said...


Here's Art Rosenfeld (former head of the CEC) on the potential for white roofs (which are now mandatory in California's Building Code):

"Every 100 square metres of roof area that is white instead of black cancels the warming effect of 10 tonnes of CO2 over the roof’s lifetime (typically 20 years). With roofs accounting for roughly 25% of urban surface area and with cities occupying 1% to 2% of global land area, converting most flat roofs in warm cities to white would cancel warming from more than one gigatonne of CO2 per year for the average lifetime of the roofs. In terms of emissions, it’s equivalent to taking half the world’s cars off the road for 20 years."


Note that the 'white roof cooling reduces rainfall' modeling that appared in response to Chu's Cool Cities' initiative did not address reduced urban transpiration from paved or building covered surfaces.

Or factor in the reduction in urban water consumption from reducing the heat island effect .

This being the solstice , we should not forget that every man woman and child on earth loses a ton of stored fresh water a day to solar evaporation, because water is darker and more heat absorbing than most people imagine.

WhiteBeard said...

I happened upon this via a headline gadget on my browser and though it might be worth glance this weekend as beach reading for those up for a break from bodice ripper fare while personally transforming the liquid H2O fraction of cold ones, and the bulk of their cooler contents making them cold, to vapor.

The gadget actually produced this link, broadly hinting of the red meat that the usual suspects may or may not be regurgitating soon.

Verification is August Surryan. Uncredited Fox writer perhaps?

Hank Roberts said...

> the roof’s lifetime
> (typically 20 years)

Just remember:

"Moisture Control

In warm, moist locations, cool roof surfaces can be more susceptible to algae or mold growth than hot roofs. .... cool roofs might be more susceptible to accumulating moisture than dark roofs of the same design. Condensation can be avoided using proper design techniques."

It's no economy if you rot out the wood supporting your roof due to excess humidity. This is well documented -- in Europe.

"proper design" means insulation under the high-emissivity layer, because it will stay cooler than its environment day and night (particularly at night when it's radiating heat away to the night sky). It gets wet both above and below the high-emissivity layer -- to avoid that you need insulation, sealed to prevent air from circulating next to the cool layer.

John Mashey said...

good general area.
#1: The fact that Karachi, PK is at sea level (and other climate stress)

#2 Arctic ocean resource scramble

#3: SLR and Pacific island bases

#4 Norfolk & San Diego
(slight surprise. he said it wa a problem, but #3 was a more immediate problem)

bill said...

What an immoderate, ludicrous, zealot! Seriously, why not just can him? Nobody gains from that sort of toxic rant, let alone allowing playing the crashing oaf at what is, after all, someone else's place to dress itself up as some pathetic counterfeit of 'freedom of speech'.


ANON:"Your disdain and obvious hatred for anyone stupid enough to be Republican is obvious to me"

At least one Republican here thinks this a very dull and contemptible fellow.

bill said...

Sorry, Eli, but the combination of blatant bullying such as the above with subsequent 'you made me behave badly' manipulative whining really annoys me.

I recently spent time with an Australian Senator, and because we're talking those talkback antichrists The Greens here I had an opportunity to be appalled by the #1-alikes who seem to believe that their political opponents are what Scientologists call 'fair game'. Ugly.

Anonymous said...

The site of disappearing comments.


I agree Bill you would not government insitutions like the IRS to attack citizens based upon their politics.