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Peak oil and government question
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skeptik



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 2970
Location: Costa Geriatrica, Spain

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bootstrapper wrote:
If our civilisation continues to burn Petroleum, it will overload the biosphere with CO2 and trigger a major climate alteration, the consequences of which are incalculable,


Not according to ASPO.

'Too little' oil for global warming

... yer pays yer money and makes yer choice. Climate change? I'm sure it will. Always has.

Quote:
It's possible that irreversible climate change may already be underway.


There is no such thing as irreversible climate change. The planet has in the past been almost entirely glaciated, with the exception of an equatorial belt http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-09/uosc-scd092805.php) , and it has also been entirely ice free - no polar ice caps or glaciers.
http://dsc.discovery.com/stories/dinos/bbc/sci_focus/production5.html

As there is at least a billion years till the Earth is evaporated when the Sun goes red giant, there is plenty of time for these conditions to occur again.

Quote:
No nuclear threat, no 81st Airborne Division, no UN sanctions, no invasion of some dusty place whose name most of us can't pronounce will stop a runaway greenhouse effect


Sorry. Not buying the runaway greenhouse effect. Thats just scary nonsense. If that could have happened it would have happened by now.

There's been plenty of time for it and the atmosphere has in the past been subject to far more severe 'shocks' , e.g. extended periods of megavolcanism, than mankind is capable of inflicting on it. How high do you want to go? CO2 of 4000ppm didnt cause any problems back in the Ordovician.
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biffvernon



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
There is no such thing as irreversible climate change.


We need a time dimension in here. If the change happens during my lifetime and doesn't get reversed also in my lifetime, then, as far I'm concerned, it's irrersible.
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EmptyBee



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 336
Location: Montgomeryshire, Wales

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

skeptik wrote:
There is no such thing as irreversible climate change. The planet has in the past been almost entirely glaciated, with the exception of an equatorial belt

As there is at least a billion years till the Earth is evaporated when the Sun goes red giant, there is plenty of time for these conditions to occur again.

Sorry. Not buying the runaway greenhouse effect. Thats just scary nonsense. If that could have happened it would have happened by now.

There's been plenty of time for it and the atmosphere has in the past been subject to far more severe 'shocks' , e.g. extended periods of megavolcanism, than mankind is capable of inflicting on it. How high do you want to go? CO2 of 4000ppm didnt cause any problems back in the Ordovician.


I don't think there's any argument that there has been massive variation in the climate on a geological timescale.

However you are missing several important points.

1)This current interglacial period has been remarkably stable and benign. Civilisation may owe its existence to the relative stability we have seen over the last 10,000 years or so.

2)Seeing an end to this period of stability by destabilising the current relative equilibrium is a real possibility within our lifetimes, and it is possible we are at or close to a 'tipping point' due to positive feedback mechanisms.

Yes you are right that instability is the norm for the climate when you look at Earth's climate over geological time. However it is worth noting that major changes in climate are usually accompanied by mass extinction and disruption to ecosystems. We're accomplishing both of the above on our own quite well without climate change, but climate change is likely to exacerbate the situation significantly.


Last edited by EmptyBee on Sun Oct 09, 2005 2:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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skeptik



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Costa Geriatrica, Spain

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:

We need a time dimension in here. If the change happens during my lifetime and doesn't get reversed also in my lifetime, then, as far I'm concerned, it's irrersible.

Change is the only constant. We'll just have to live with it.

Ice Fair on the Thames, 1740 (big image of contemporary drawing, so just the link)

" The ice fair became a center of utmost brilliancy in England. Great statesmen , in their beards and ruffs, dispatched affairs of the state under crimson awnings. Admirals strode up and down the narrow pathways, glass in hand, sweeping the horizon and telling stories of the Spanish Armada. Lovers dallied upon divans spread with sables . Frozen roses fell in showers when the Queen and her ladies walked abroad. Here and there burnt vast bonfires of cedar and oak wood, lavishly salted, so that the flames were of green , orange and purple fire. However fiercely they burnt, the heat was not enough to melt the ice."

-Excerpt from the book Orlando by Virginia Woolf .

Personally I prefer the present climate of the UK compared to that of the 'little ice age' that we have been progressively coming out of since the middle of the 19th century. Ice fairs on the Thames must have been fun though, going by Pepys and others descriptions.The last one was held in 1814 - ox roasting barbecues, stalls, fairground amusements and performing animals. If it gets a few degrees warmer, I'm sure we'll cope. Just so long as it doesnt get as hot as Israel or Egypt. I wouldn't like that.


Last edited by skeptik on Sun Oct 09, 2005 3:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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EmptyBee



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

skeptik wrote:

Personally I prefer the present climate of the UK compared to that of the 'little ice age' that we have been progressively coming out of since the middle of the 19th century. Ice fairs on the Thames must have been fun though, going by Pepys and others descriptions. If it gets a few degrees warmer, I'm sure we'll cope. Just so long as it doesnt get as hot as Israel or Egypt. I wouldn't like that.


Incidentally human civilisation has been influenced significantly by climate change in recorded history. For example - the barbarian invasion that lead to the sacking of Rome and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire? Climate change. The invasion of much of Britian by Vikings? Climate change.

Climate change is a bad thing for civilisations as it causes movements in population from non-viable to viable regions. Several degrees of warming in one temperate region might seem no big deal until that region gets invaded by people who have seen their semi-arid agricultural land turn to desert.
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skeptik



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EmptyBee wrote:
Several degrees of warming in one temperate region might seem no big deal until that region gets invaded by people who have seen their semi-arid agricultural land turn to desert.


Yes. but The effects are regional and variable. Watch out East and West coasts of the USA. If the current warming trend continues you're liable to see a lot of refugees from the midwest States as they desertify.

On the other hand, the Sahel (Southern Saharan semi desert) is shrinking, or rather shifting North, reducing the overall size of the Sahara. Areas abandoned in the 60's and 70's in the wake of severe drought are being repopulated. This greening roughly coincides with the recent global warming trend (mid 70's to present)

UN Report - http://www.icrse.org/sahel_report.html Southern Saharan greening coincides with increased rainfall, may also be in part due to changed land use practices.

The Greening of the Sahara
http://foreigndispatches.typepad.com/dispatches/2005/09/the_greening_of.html

"Global warming could significantly increase rainfall in Saharan Africa within a few decades, potentially ending the severe droughts that have devastated the region, a new study suggests."

...and on a more personal level, I really ought to get out for a walk while the sun is shining..
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bigjim



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good god, isn't the market a woefully pathetic tool? It leads to short-term thinking and assumes infinite availability of finite resources.

The sooner we scrap "the market" the better!
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Tess



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bigjim wrote:
Good god, isn't the market a woefully pathetic tool? It leads to short-term thinking and assumes infinite availability of finite resources.

The sooner we scrap "the market" the better!


Now hang on a mo, my job depends on the market Razz

It's pretty efficient in the short term (a few months), just really bad for long term planning.
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skeptik



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bigjim wrote:
Good god, isn't the market a woefully pathetic tool? It leads to short-term thinking and assumes infinite availability of finite resources.

The sooner we scrap "the market" the better!


Easier said than done, and what would you replace it with? The other method of directing resources - the command economy - is even more pathetic.

At least (for instance) shoe producers operating in a capitalist market environment dont end up with warehouses full of left or right shoes - because they cant manage to produce the same number of each, as I believe used to happen in the Soviet Union.

" We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us "

I expect vodka bottles which you couldn't close once you'd opened them had something to do with it too...

Long term planning isnt really the responsibility of the market. That's down to government. Oil companies do not exist to provide us with a secure long term supply of cheap energy. They exist to maximise return for their shareholders, and in order to provide their bosses with big bonuses, golden parachutes, golden hellos, share options etc.. As such, whether the oil peaks or not is irrelevant to them so long as they can continue to maximise profit, as they are required to do under their articles of association.

If I was a shareholder in an oil company, and I discovered that I was seeing no return on my investment because the company was putting the good of society or the future of the planet over and above my dividend and an appreciating share value - I think I might be upset - I mean, Ive got to pay the mortgage at the end of the month!
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bigjim



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erm, yes, it'd be pretty difficult to replace the market with something else. Not sure how to answer this one. I've got far away dreams of setting up a socialist utopia but it'd never happen
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Bootstrapper



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK. That's CO2 dealt with. However, that's only one amongst thousands of pollutants that the Market spews into the Commons.

I'm not anti-market. I see the Market as an essential tool to create wealth but it has to be regulated, like an engine, lest it overspeed, disintegrate and destroy the Commons. Perhaps what's needed is a corporate 'Hypocratic Oath', in which they promise to 'do no harm'?
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skeptik



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bootstrapper wrote:
OK. That's CO2 dealt with.

Dealt with? Not for me. I think its going to be sitting in my grey area with a big question mark over it for the forseeable future. Exactly what effect anthropogenic CO2 is having on climate is one of those big intractable questions like 'when is peak oil going to happen?'. I dont regard either issues as settled, or 'dealt with'.

Quote:

However, that's only one amongst thousands of pollutants that the Market spews into the Commons.

I dont regard CO2 as a pollutant in the conventional sense. It's one of the essential life gasses, like Oxygen or water vapour. Certainly it does no direct damage in the way, say, sulphur dioxide, heavy metals or PCBs do. No CO2, no life as we know it. Plants as a whole seem to prefer levels higher than currently found in the atmosphere, though the effect is mixed and contingent on other factors.

Quote:

I'm not anti-market. I see the Market as an essential tool to create wealth but it has to be regulated, like an engine, lest it overspeed, disintegrate and destroy the Commons.

Perhaps what's needed is a corporate 'Hypocratic Oath', in which they promise to 'do no harm'?

Yup.. I think you mean closed circuit industrial production and consumption systems. - no 'effluents' or 'waste'. With the exception of waste heat from the energy flow, very little 'pollution' (no system is perfect!) is released into the biosphere. A high tech version of Japan during the Edo period.
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PowerSwitchJames



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4319574.stm

Quote:

Winston Churchill back in the 1930s had this to say about another government that didn't believe a threat was real. As the Chamberlain Cabinet dithered about Hitler, Churchill warned: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent."

And he concluded: "The era of procrastination, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."

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skeptik



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Costa Geriatrica, Spain

PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PowerSwitchJames wrote:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4319574.stm

Quote:

Winston Churchill back in the 1930s had this to say about another government that didn't believe a threat was real. As the Chamberlain Cabinet dithered about Hitler, Churchill warned: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent."

And he concluded: "The era of procrastination, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."


Yes... I read "State of Fear" while I was on holiday.Thats all its about fit for , the sort of paperback you read on the beach when permanently half cut on sangria and dont want anything thats too 'challenging'. Read once then give it to the Oxfam shop. He's not a very good novelist. The characters are all cardboard cutouts in service of his polemic and the plot is very silly.

Nothing much will come of this. Kyoto was just an expensive joke, as New Labour has obviously now realised. Carbon emissions trading is just a lot of useless huff'n'puff to give the illusion that 'something is being done'

Even if fullly implimented Kyoto would have little effect. Rising CO2 levels in 2100 put off by 6 years or so (or so Im told) . Any politician who trys to explain the reality of the situation to his constituency - that they will have to become significantly poorer in order to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in order to save the world - will be thrown out on his ear.

If there is a problem it will sort itself out naturally as we run out of carbon to burn. Its only a temporary blip, after all. ASPO have probably got this one right, IMHO.



Apparently the sun is now more active (in terms of sunspots and coronal mass ejections/radiation storms) than is has been for the last 8000 years. And also a bit brighter. I wonder what effect that is having on climate? I'm sure theyre working on it.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041030221144.htm


Last edited by skeptik on Mon Oct 10, 2005 1:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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MacG



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is very strange to me: "Runaway anthropogenic global warming" and "finite fossil fuel" are kind of mutually exclusive in my book.

The argument "but they will turn to coal, and that's even worse" is a bit thin. OK, the Chineese are building quite a lot of coal powered electricity generation, replacing diesel generators, but that dont make the argument dont stick. Anyone got any idea of what kind of investment it would take to massively replace oil with coal as a base for transportation? I have not done the math, but we are talking gargantosauric investments. Plants for coal gasification followed by Fisher-Tropsch synthesis are not built over night, and there would have to be quite a lot of them to make any difference.

The current global economic order will not be able to survive many years of decline in oil extraction. Fisher-Tropsch wont be able to change that. And IF by some magic someone manage to build thousands of plants for coal liquefation, the projection of coal reserves to last 300 years will have to be adjusted big time. "300 years at current extraction rates" would end up like 20-30 years if coal is both to take up the slack from declining oil _and_ provide future exponential growth.

Nah, what really bothers me in all this is the kind of climate change this earth has been exposed to all by it's own. Glaciers in the alps causing slight panic by melting. Revealing tree trunks. There were forrests up there some 6000 years ago! And dont mention the ice ages.

I worry significantly more about future personal freezing than anthropogenic global warming.
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