June Open Thread

Anything goes.

Suggested topic: What will the impacts be if a very large El Nino occurs over the next 18 months, as appears increasingly likely? Will the “hiatus” talk end? How will the global conversation change?

Comments:

  1. Plastic Legacy: Humankind's Trash Is Now a New Rock
    http://www.livescience.com/46057-human-trash-becomes-new-plastiglomerate-rock.html

    But I suppose this does not impact the climate much.

    • My kingdom for a preview!

      http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/climate-media-journalists-hedging-new-york-times

  2. Vox: we're fucked.
    http://www.vox.com/2014/6/5/5779040/7-reasons-America-fail-global-warming
    "We're currently on track for an unmanageable failure. I think it's possible that we can slowly, painfully pull ourselves towards a manageable failure, but I'm not willing to call that optimism."

    Comments?

    • Joe Romm responds to Ezra's Vox piece:
      http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/06/3445803/7-reasons-climate-change/

      1. What America and the world needs to do is really, really cheap economically, as key clean technologies plummet in cost.
      2. All of the people who get a vote are severely affected by climate change.
      3. We’re sometimes very good at sacrificing now to benefit later (and to benefit others).
      4. There NEVER will be a time when aggressive climate action is not the best strategy for everyone.
      5. The Republican Party has gone so far off the rails on climate change that it is triggering a backlash.
      6. The international cooperation required is unprecedented, but the key country for a treaty, China, is on a path toward capping its carbon emissions.
      7. Geoengineering is nuts.

  3. I came across this summation today, though I'm as usual a mite ambivalent about it.

    It comes from a rather interesting talk in the antipodes about art and climate. I was advised to skip the first hour, which I did, it being rather long, but perhaps I should go back and watch the rest. The extended discussion about our difficulties and how to live amongst them I found edifying and thought provoking, beginning at about 1:15 (audience questions):

    "hopelessness is just impatience in disguise"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTwrxjd5TaI

    Starting at 1:38:30, this is something I found important enough to laboriously (and partially) transcribe, though I myself confess to being one of the sleepwalkers. This man presents himself as working with sustainability and talking about his own feelings about it:

    the risk that artists take in not going into this space ... the risk that we take is that our work is irrelevant, disconnected, shallow, and potentially narcissistic if we don't. Sustainability is always framed as some sort of a compromise, as some sort of a cost, as a sacrifice ...

    the more I dive into this space the less it feels like that and the more it feels like a privilege, as it connects me to myself and the the people around me ...

    It compromises our ability to go on sleepwalking

      • I don't know. My life is complicated, but no doubt I could do more. Meanwhile, what is "RR's data vis one"?

  4. How much is Planet Earth worth?
    www.nytimes.com/2014/06/05/science/earth/putting-a-price-tag-on-natures-defenses.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimesscience
    I opine that figure is still way too low.

    • David,

      Agree, but then there's the whole issue of 'costing the Earth'.: in doing this, one is already defining the earth and the stuff in it in terms of resources. This places Nature within the realm of Economics, with the latter taking the precedent. Whilst this is (probably) necessary to attract the attention of corporates and politicos, it serves to perpetuate the idea that we 'own' the planet and the stuff in and on it, and we can use it to further our own gains.

      It is important to remind people that Economics is only one way to 'describe' what happens in human societies and, though it has disproportionate influence at present, it may not be the most effective descriptor. Actually, it probably isn't a very good descriptor at all. Which is why we need to get beyond this limitation in evaluating stuff in money terms and aim for a more encompassing notion of the 'Global Economy of Earth's and Society's constituent systems' (sorry that's a bit long-winded). As a meta-economic theory, this would need to have a nice, catchy name, like 'Gaianomics' or something...

    • "What's it wearth?"

      -- by Horatio Algeranon

      What's it worth
      This planet earth?
      What to pay
      For breath each day?

      Two times global GDP
      That's the max the worth should be.
      Not a single penny more.
      Holding breath's an easy chore.

  5. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/06/12/your-house-says-an-awful-lot-about-your-politics/

    no surprises really, but it's important to test the model (stereotype) against reality every now and then.

  6. Tyler Cowen:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/14/upshot/the-lack-of-major-wars-may-be-hurting-economic-growth.html?hpw&rref=

    The interesting bit isn't the idea that investing in military interests leads to economic growth (hardly novel), the interesting bit is watching Cowen do somersaults trying to make the case that this is somehow intrinsic to militarism only, and therefore massive increases in government R&D spending in support of other causes isn't as good.

    Also contains this charmer:
    "Living in a largely peaceful world with 2 percent G.D.P. growth has some big advantages that you don’t get with 4 percent growth and many more war deaths."

    Missing the Forest for the Trees Grand Award, 2014.

  7. While I'm here, thanks for the note about how much energy it takes to refute bullshit in "Featured Image". So true.

    However, I dropped to make one more complaint about burning earth:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/09/air-conditioning-raising-night-time-temperatures-us

    "Air conditioning raising night-time temperatures in the US: Heat from cooling systems now raises some urban temperatures by more than 1C at night, reports Climate News Network"

    Of course!


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