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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #43 2022

Posted on 27 October 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Burgess, Pielke Jr. & Ritchie: Doomsayers?

We recently highlighted a paper by Kemp et al., Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios. We noted that with its title avoiding euphemisms, the work might attract unusual attention despite making reasoned points well grounded in supporting research. The paper itself is written with a notable degree of calm, belying reader reflexes that might be triggered by what is after all only a word, namely "catastrophic." Even so, here come the comportment nannies, and they're in quite a bit of a tizzy— even a lather— about "language, dears!" Catastrophic climate risks should be neither understated nor overstated begins in a fairly vanilla fashion but it's not long before the authors  Burgess, Pielke jr. & Ritchie are having the vapors:

"Overemphasized apocalyptic futures can be used to support despotism and rashness. For example, catastrophic and ultimately inaccurate overpopulation scenarios in the 1960s and 1970s contributed to several countries adopting forced sterilization and abortion programs, including China’s one-child policy, which caused up to 100 million coerced abortions (7), disproportionately of girls. Past and present fascist and neofascist movements frequently use fears of environmental catastrophe to promote eugenics and oppose immigration and aid (8). The Sri Lankan government, concerned about pollution, rashly banned synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in 2021, contributing to an agricultural and economic crisis (9)."

We've all seen it, right? Push the boundaries of scientific inquiry too far and next thing you know, we're in the PRC and having our babies counted, forced to have abortions— as reported from a deep body of literature consisting of a single article in Smithsonian Magazine, itself in turn failing to make any connection with actual scientific doomsaying Too much information in our little heads and we'll dive directly into fascism! We'll all starve during an economic crisis! All of the above! Or so the authors imply, supported by exactly zero scholarly citations.

Pass around the smelling salts and once everybody's got their pulse rate down, let's ask: of the two, which party is becoming overwrought here?  Back over to Kemp et al,  who conclude in their reply:

A lack of attention to extreme risks or completely speculative doom mongering would more likely lead to maladaptive responses and mental health stresses than the informed deliberation over catastrophic risks that we propose.

Reply to Burgess et al: Catastrophic climate risks are neglected, plausible, and safe to study

It's hard to catch any hint of hysteria in that. Indeed, compared to Burgess, PIelke Jr. & Ritchie  who after all are selling their "speculative doom mongering" quite hard, Kemp et al. are positively, sincerely soothing. Not a surprise, really; stick with mainstream science (and citations) and language automatically stays cool and dry. Conversely by leaning on popular literature the atmosphere of words can become hot and humid.

After we've mopped and dried our brows, breathed deeply ten times, et voilà! We see that no substantive argument against "it's good to know more" has been offered by our trio of etiquette coaches. 

But if we need some epic, scenery-chewing delivery of middle paragraphs built on archetypally sub-sophomoric citations and plunging us off our rockers and into a dark world of histrionics, now we know who to call. BPR have got it down. 

Kemp et al. also reflect on remarks on their work offered in a thoughtful letter, in Reply to Kelman: The foundations for studying catastrophic climate risks

Other notables:

Accounting? How exciting can this be? The science of climate change is inherently intriguing, and the political processes leading to climate policy are drama. Accounting sounds rather dull. But it's a new species of beancounters who are going to provide information feedbacks we need to cope with the mess we've created. We can't succeed without competent GHG accounting, any more than business enterprises could succeed without counting revenue & cashflow. Michael Gillenwater points out some obvious gaps in Examining the impact of GHG accounting principles. In his opinion piece for Carbon Management, Gillenwater points out how accounting principles need to be rooted in solid foundations and guidance rooted in climate research. Right now principles are a bit unrooted, and this ambiguity is anathema to accounting accuracy. The IPCC offers most of the answers needed. Meanwhile, Unlocking CO2 infrastructure deployment: The impact of carbon removal accounting by Schippers & Massol meticulously illustrate how— for better or worse— policy choices emerging in practice as seemingly innocuous accounting methods may help or hinder depoyment of carbon management technologies broadly agreed as necessary to control global warming. We should weed out hindrances, so actively identifying those is a good thing.

Two interesting survey results in our government/NGO section: Americans Value U.S. Role as Scientific Leader, but 38% Say Country Is Losing Ground Globally from the Pew Research Center, and People don’t think the government is doing enough to combat climate change, from AP-NORC. We see a partisan split. If we think of cardiology and cardiac health instead of climate change, one group doesn't want cardiologists, understanding of cardiac pathology or cardiac medical intervention to interfere, no matter the reality of the organ's state of health. 

Revisiting the 2003–18 Deep Ocean Warming through Multiplatform Analysis of the Global Energy Budget. Not so many years ago, deep ocean warming in response to our changing the climate "up here" wasn't visible to our instrumentation and observational methods. With advancement of various ways of seeing, we're no longer blind. And the more we're able to see, the more warming we've found. Perhaps this paper with its synthesis of diverse observational methods represents convergence of our view on what's actually happening, down in the gradually less freezing, more visible dark.

The importance of internal climate variability in climate impact projections. Authors Schwarzwald & Lenssen have hit on something that certainly seems important: quite plausibly, natural climate variabiiity can signficantly expand our climate hazard & risk envelope, but natural variability is not well represented in impact assessments. "We show that internal variability substantially boosts the uncertainty by 38% on average for near-term mortality, corn yields, and GDP projections in the continental United States. Omitting uncertainty due to internal variability could lead to an underestimation of worst-case impacts and/or a misallocation of resources in climate mitigation and adaptation efforts." This particular brand of uncertainty even less offers the false hope of a possible safe harbor, unlike forms of a more "static" nature; let alone natural variability added to a secular trend not being our friend, it's positively an enemy.

All of the above open access and free to read. 

102 articles in 57 journals by 713 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Radiation-constrained boundaries cause nonuniform responses of the carbon uptake phenology to climatic warming in the Northern Hemisphere
Descals et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16502

Observations of climate change, effects

Appraisal of historical trends in maximum and minimum temperature using multiple non-parametric techniques over the agriculture-dominated Narmada Basin, India
Swain et al., Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 10.1007/s10661-022-10534-6

Assessing spatiotemporal variation in drought characteristics and their dependence on timescales over Vidarbha Region
Swain et al., Geocarto International, 10.1080/10106049.2022.2136260

Impacts of historical atmospheric and oceanic warming on heavy snowfall in December 2020 in Japan
Kawase et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd036996

Interdecadal change in autumn rainfall over Southeast China and its association with tropical Pacific SST
Liu et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Open Access 10.1007/s00704-022-04249-4

Multi-Year Sea Ice Conditions in the Northwest Passage: 1968–2020
Howell et al., Atmosphere, Open Access pdf 10.1080/07055900.2022.2136061

Revisiting the 2003–18 Deep Ocean Warming through Multiplatform Analysis of the Global Energy Budget
Storto et al., Journal of Climate, Open Access pdf 10.1175/jcli-d-21-0726.1

Temporal variability of daily precipitation concentration in Japan for a century: Effects of air temperature rises on extreme rainfall events
Higashino et al., Urban Climate, 10.1016/j.uclim.2022.101323

Ultra-oligotrophic waters expansion in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre revealed by 21 years of satellite observations
Leonelli et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1029/2021gl096965

Instrumentation & observational methods of climate change, effects

Evaluation of the spatial characteristics of climate scenarios based on statistical and dynamical downscaling for impact assessments in Japan
Ishizaki et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7903

Modeling, simulation & projection of climate change, effects

Downscaling ensemble climate projections to urban scale: Brussels's future climate at 1.5 °C, 2 °C, and 3 °C global warming
Duchêne et al., Urban Climate, 10.1016/j.uclim.2022.101319

Future changes in eddy kinetic energy in the California Current System from dynamically downscaled climate projections
Quirós et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1029/2022gl099042

Future changes of the extreme high-temperature events influenced by foehn winds in Niigata, Japan
Nishi & Kusaka, Atmospheric Science Letters, 10.1002/asl.1137

Global Marine Heatwaves and Cold-Spells in Present Climate to Future Projections
Yao et al., Earth's Future, 10.1029/2022ef002787

Identifying a new normal in extreme precipitation at a city scale under warmer climate regimes: A case study of the Tokyo metropolitan area, Japan
Doan et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd036810

Machine learning-based detection of weather fronts and associated extreme precipitation in historical and future climates
Dagon et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Open Access 10.1029/2022jd037038

Advancement of climate & climate effects modeling, simulation & projection

Biases in CMIP6 historical U.S. severe convective storm environments driven by biases in mean-state near-surface moist static energy
Chavas & Li, Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1029/2022gl098527

Quantification of model uncertainty in sub-daily extreme precipitation projections
Majhi et al., Global and Planetary Change, 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2022.103967

Quantifying the uncertainty sources of future climate projections and narrowing uncertainties with bias correction techniques
Wu et al., Earth's Future, Open Access pdf 10.1029/2022ef002963

Cryosphere & climate change

An ice-ocean model study of the mid-2000s regime change in the Barents Sea
Barton et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 10.1029/2021jc018280

Projected changes in sea ice and the navigability of the Arctic Passages under global warming of 2° and 3°
Chen et al., Anthropocene, 10.1016/j.ancene.2022.100349

Sea level & climate change

A high-end estimate of sea-level rise for practitioners
van de Wal et al., Earth's Future, 10.1029/2022ef002751

Interannual-to-multidecadal sea-level changes in the Venice lagoon and their impact on flood frequency
Rubinetti et al., Climatic Change, 10.1007/s10584-022-03448-2

Paleoclimate

A new global ice sheet reconstruction for the past 80 000 years
Gowan et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-021-21469-w

Spatial patterns of climate change across the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum
Tierney et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Open Access 10.1073/pnas.2205326119

Temperature-driven heterochrony as a main evolutionary response to climate changes in conodonts
Souquet et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 10.1098/rspb.2022.0614

The velocity of postglacial migration of fire-adapted boreal tree species in eastern North America
Payette et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.2210496119

Towards solving the missing ice problem and the importance of rigorous model data comparisons
Yokoyama et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-33952-z

Biology & climate change, related geochemistry

A warmer environment can reduce sociability in an ectotherm
Pilakouta et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16451

Adult male birds advance spring migratory phenology faster than females and juveniles across North America
Neate?Clegg & Tingley, Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16492

Climate-mediated shifts in temperature fluctuations promote extinction risk
Duffy et al., Nature Climate Change, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41558-022-01490-7

Divergent Growth Responses of Healthy and Declining Spruce Trees to Climatic Stress: A Case Study From the Western Carpathians
Denisa et al., Dendrochronologia, Open Access 10.1016/j.dendro.2022.126023

European beewolf (Philanthus triangulum) will expand its geographic range as a result of climate warming
Olszewski et al., Regional Environmental Change, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10113-022-01987-z

Higher latitude spring-flowering herbs advance their phenology more than trees with warming temperatures
Alecrim et al., Journal of Ecology, 10.1111/1365-2745.14023

Interactive effects of global change drivers as determinants of the link between soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning
Berlinches de Gea et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16471

Limited recovery following a massive seagrass decline in subarctic eastern Canada
Leblanc et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16499

Niche width predicts extinction from climate change and vulnerability of tropical species
Grinder & Wiens, Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16486

Plant secondary metabolic responses to global climate change: a meta-analysis in medicinal and aromatic plants
Sun et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16484

Potential for redistribution of post-moult habitat for Eudyptes penguins in the Southern Ocean under future climate conditions
Green et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16500

Seasonal nearshore ocean acidification and deoxygenation in the Southern California Bight
Kekuewa et al., Scientific Reports, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-21831-y

Simulated climate warming decreases fruit number but increases seed mass
Zi et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16498

The effects of marine heatwaves on acute heat tolerance in corals
Marzonie et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16473

GHG sources & sinks, flux, related geochemistry

Climate disequilibrium dominates uncertainty in long-term projections of primary productivity
Felton et al., Ecology Letters, 10.1111/ele.14132

Drivers of global mangrove loss and gain in social-ecological systems
Hagger et al., Nature Communications, Open Access 10.1038/s41467-022-33962-x

Global tropospheric ozone trends, attributions, and radiative impacts in 1995–2017: an integrated analysis using aircraft (IAGOS) observations, ozonesonde, and multi-decadal chemical model simulations
Wang et al., [journal not provided], Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-2022-381

Higher Temperature Sensitivity of Ecosystem Respiration in Low Marsh Compared to High Elevation Marsh Ecosystems
Carey et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 10.1029/2022jg006832

How drought events during the last Century have impacted biomass carbon in Amazonian rainforests
Yao et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16504

Initial soil organic carbon stocks govern changes in soil carbon: reality or artifact?
Fiske, Encyclopedia of psychology, Vol. 1., Open Access 10.1037/10516-089

Long-term changes in CH4 emissions: Comparing ΔCH4/ΔCO2 ratios between observation and proved model in East Asia (2010–2020)
Kenea et al., Atmospheric Environment, 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2022.119437

Soil organic carbon in Andean high-mountain ecosystems: importance, challenges, and opportunities for carbon sequestration
Alavi-Murillo et al., Regional Environmental Change, 10.1007/s10113-022-01980-6

The origin of carbonate mud and implications for global climate
Geyman et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.2210617119

Decarbonization

Drivers of straw management in rural households: Options for the development of the bioenergy sector in China
Del Valle et al., Energy for Sustainable Development, 10.1016/j.esd.2022.10.009

Lignin-derived carbon materials for catalysis and electrochemical energy storage
Wang et al., Carbon Neutralization, Open Access pdf 10.1002/cnl2.29

Modeling of wind energy potential using a high-resolution grid over Mekong riverside region in the northeastern part of Thailand
Tawinprai et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-022-04235-w

Plate tectonic modelling and energy transition
Wrobel-Daveau et al., Earth, 10.1016/j.earscirev.2022.104227

Aerosols

Sunlight can convert atmospheric aerosols into a glassy solid state and modify their environmental impacts
Baboomian et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.2208121119

Climate change communications & cognition

#Fighteverycrisis: A psychological perspective on motivators of the support of mitigation measures in the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic
Wallis et al., Journal of Environmental Psychology, Open Access 10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101898

Between Impact, Politics, and Action: Frames of Climate Change in Indonesian Print and Online Media
Rochyadi-Reetz & Wolling, Environmental Communication, 10.1080/17524032.2022.2134170

Climate change impacts can be differentially perceived across time scales: A study among the Tuareg of the Algerian Sahara
Miara et al., GeoHealth, 10.1029/2022gh000620

COVID-19, climate change, and the finite pool of worry in 2019 to 2021 Twitter discussions
Smirnov & Hsieh, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Open Access 10.1073/pnas.2210988119

Interconnectedness and (in)coherence as a signature of conspiracy worldviews
Miani et al., Science Advances, 10.1126/sciadv.abq3668

The Demise of the Knowledge–Action Gap in Climate Change Education
Mooney et al., Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Open Access pdf 10.1175/bams-d-21-0256.1

Who is the climate-induced trapped figure?
Ayeb?Karlsson et al., WIREs Climate Change, 10.1002/wcc.803

Agronomy, animal husbundry, food production & climate change

Are genetically modified and genome-edited crops viable strategies for climate-change adaptation among smallholder farmers?
Schnurr et al., Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 10.1016/j.cosust.2022.101216

Evidence for and projection of multi-breadbasket failure caused by climate change
Hasegawa et al., Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 10.1016/j.cosust.2022.101217

Impacts of climate variability and climate-smart agricultural practices on crop production in UNESCO designated cultural landscapes of Konso, Ethiopia
Gashure et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-022-04244-9

Negative effects of heat stress on maize yield were compensated by increasing thermal time and declining cold stress in northeast China
Zhang et al., International Journal of Biometeorology, 10.1007/s00484-022-02363-6

Rising winter temperatures might augment increasing wheat yield in Gangetic Plains
Shekhar et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-022-04246-7

The decreasing availability of reindeer forage in boreal forests during snow cover periods: A Sámi pastoral landscape perspective in Sweden
Harnesk, Ambio, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s13280-022-01752-w

Hydrology, hydrometeorology & climate change

Global drought trends and future projections
Vicente-Serrano et al., Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Open Access 10.1098/rsta.2021.0285

Using machine learning to identify novel hydroclimate states
Marvel & Cook, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 10.1098/rsta.2021.0287

Climate change economics

Climate change and the nonlinear impact of precipitation anomalies on income inequality
Palagi et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.2203595119

Energy structure dividend, factor allocation efficiency and regional productivity growth— An empirical examination of energy restructuring in China
Hongjun et al., Energy Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113307

The economics of managing water crises
Barbier, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Open Access 10.1098/rsta.2021.0295

The green economy as counterinsurgency, or the ontological power affirming permanent ecological catastrophe
Dunlap, Environmental Science & Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2022.10.008

Climate change mitigation public policy research

Cutting emissions outside borders
Cooper & Hawkes, Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01504-4

Defining environmental services from agriculture to better understand the implementation of European agri-environmental policy
Aznar, Environmental Science & Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2022.10.009

Examining the impact of GHG accounting principles
Gillenwater, Carbon Management, Open Access pdf 10.1080/17583004.2022.2135238

From energy communities to sector coupling:a taxonomy for regulatory experimentation in the age of the European Green Deal
Bovera & Lo Schiavo Lo Schiavo, Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113299

In pursuit of progressive and effective climate policies: Comparing an air travel carbon tax and a frequent flyer levy
Fouquet & O'Garra, Energy Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113278

Influences and pathways of urban form and lifestyle on carbon emission reduction
Shen et al., Urban Climate, 10.1016/j.uclim.2022.101325

Integration between photovoltaic systems and cultural heritage: A socio-technical comparison of international policies, design criteria, applications, and innovation developments
Lucchi, Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113303

Optimal climate policies under fairness preferences
Rogna & Vogt, Climatic Change, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-022-03436-6

Spatial threshold effect of tax competition on carbon dioxide emissions intensity in China
Fan et al., Climate Policy, 10.1080/14693062.2022.2137098

The asymmetric effects of fossil fuel dependency on the carbon intensity of well-being: A U.S. state-level analysis, 1999–2017
Thombs, Global Environmental Change, 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2022.102605

Towards a green recovery in the EU: Aligning further emissions reductions with short- and long-term energy-sector employment gains
Koasidis et al., Energy Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113301

Unlocking CO2 infrastructure deployment: The impact of carbon removal accounting
Jagu Schippers & Massol Massol, Energy Policy, Open Access pdf 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113265

Climate change adaptation & adaptation public policy research

Cross-sectoral and multiscalar exposure assessment to advance climate adaptation policy: the case of future coastal flooding of California’s airports
Lindbergh et al., Climate Risk Management, Open Access 10.1016/j.crm.2022.100462

How the USA can benefit from risk-based premiums combined with flood protection
de Ruig et al., Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01501-7

Strategic analysis of the drought resilience of water supply systems
Murgatroyd et al., Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Open Access 10.1098/rsta.2021.0292

Strengthening climate adaptation in the northern region of Ghana: insights from a stakeholder analysis
Yeleliere et al., Climate Policy, 10.1080/14693062.2022.2134085

Thermal and mechanical characteristics of a thermal pile in permafrost regions
Shang et al., Advances in Climate Change Research, Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2022.10.002

Climate change impacts on human health

Climate change determines future population exposure to summertime compound dry and hot events
Zhang et al., Earth's Future, 10.1029/2022ef003015

Climate change impacts on human culture

The impact of climate change on the outdoor tourism with a focus on the outdoor tourism climate index (OTCI) in Hormozgan province, Iran
Valizadeh & Khoorani, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-022-04248-5

Other

Challenging the values of the polluter elite: A global consequentialist response to Evensen and Graham's (2022) ‘The irreplaceable virtues of in-person conferences’
Whitmarsh & Kreil, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101881

Informed opinion, nudges & major initiatives

Catastrophic climate risks should be neither understated nor overstated
Burgess et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Open Access 10.1073/pnas.2214347119

Climate-proofing the National Flood Insurance Program
de Ruig et al., Nature Climate Change, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41558-022-01502-6

Drought risk in the Anthropocene: from the jaws of death to the waters of life
Bevan, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Open Access 10.1098/rsta.2022.0003

Reply to Burgess et al: Catastrophic climate risks are neglected, plausible, and safe to study
Kemp et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Open Access 10.1073/pnas.2214884119

Reply to Kelman: The foundations for studying catastrophic climate risks
Kemp et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Open Access 10.1073/pnas.2214794119

The importance of internal climate variability in climate impact projections
Schwarzwald & Lenssen , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Open Access 10.1073/pnas.2208095119

Book reviews

A Blue New Deal: why we need a new politics for the Ocean
Ruwet, Environmental Politics, Open Access pdf 10.1080/09644016.2022.2126616


Articles/Reports from Agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations Addressing Aspects of Climate Change

How Can We Protect Climate Refugees, Martín Gil et al., Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University

The authors investigate the possible pathways forward to ensure that individuals displaced by climate change have adequate legal protection. They begin by examining the forecasted implications of climate change as well as the complexity of quantifying and defining “climate refugees.” Second, they assess possible pathways for protection at the international, regional, and individual country levels to determine how various systems of refugee protection could be extended to include individuals fleeing climate change. Finally, they discuss the best ways forward for policy approaches and practices that are climate-resilient and inclusive.

Salton Sea Geothermal Development, Goodman et al., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Geothermal energy offers an opportunity to generate baseload, renewable energy that can help support the transition to an energy economy with reduced impacts on climate change and replace older, more expensive, nonrenewable, and more resource-impacting energy-generation facilities. The United States has the largest known geothermal resource in the world, with over 31 GW of conventional geothermal potential. However, due to market conditions, an inability to properly quantify both electrical grid benefits and resource stability, and the difficulty of exploring and developing the geothermal resource, few new geothermal projects have come online over the past three decades. The Salton Sea, in Imperial County, California, provides a prime location and opportunity to develop new geothermal resources. The Salton Sea contains a robust, well-mapped, geothermal resource, with opportunities for concurrent development of lithium and other mineral resources. The authors describe the history of geothermal development at the Salton Sea and compare geothermal to other renewable energy sources in the area. The authors then use a techno-economic analysis (TEA) model referred to as MAGE (Model for Analysis of Geothermal Economics) to analyze the relative benefits and costs of various challenges and opportunities and provide recommendations for streamlining geothermal development at the Salton Sea and elsewhere. The challenges and opportunities analyzed in MAGE were informed by stakeholder interviews and literature reviews. Based upon the identified challenges and opportunities and the results of MAGE, primary findings are that certain nontechnical barriers such as permitting costs play only a minor role in determining the viability of the development of the geothermal resource at the Salton Sea. Other barriers such as permitting timelines, government/agency coordination, and the potential colocation of lithium extraction with a geothermal plant may result in much larger impacts on project viability.

2022 SCORECARD ON Insurance, Fossil Fuels and the Climate Emergency, Hapgood and Bosshard, Insure Our Future

The authors analyze the evolving role of the global insurance industry in the fossil fuel sector and in avoiding catastrophic climate collapse. They focus on 30 leading primary insurers and reinsurers, assessing and scoring their policies on insuring and investing in coal, oil, and gas. The authors highlight progress and loopholes, call out leaders and laggards, and identify challenges and opportunities for the year ahead.

Climate Change in the Indian Mind, 2022, Leiserowitz et al., Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

From October 21, 2021, to January 9, 2022, the authors conducted a nationally representative survey of 4,619 Indian adults (18+). The study was designed to investigate current public climate change awareness, beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behavior, as well as public observations of changes in local weather and climate patterns and self-reported vulnerability to extreme weather events. 54% of people in India say they know either “just a little” about global warming or have never heard of it, while only 9% say they know “a lot.” Additionally, only 35% of people in India say they hear about global warming in the media at least once a week. However, when given a short definition of global warming and how it affects weather patterns, 84% of people in India say they think global warming is happening (15 percentage points higher than in 2011). 57% think global warming is caused mostly by human activities, while 31% think it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment. 74% say that they have experienced the effects of global warming (+24 percentage points since 2011).

Federal Vehicle Fleets: Observations on the Transition to Electric Vehicles, Mingus et al., Government Accountability Office

In fiscal year 2020, federal agencies operated and maintained around 610,000 non-tactical vehicles in their domestic fleets. These fleets, ranging from sedans to ambulances to buses, traveled over 4 billion miles and consumed more than 360 million gallons of fuel to help meet a variety of government missions. In December 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14057 calling for all affected federal vehicle acquisitions to be zero-emission vehicles, such as electric vehicles, by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions beginning in 2027. This order affects approximately 380,000 vehicles within federal fleets as they become subject to replacement. The authors examine: (1) the composition, use, and location of federal fleets and (2) the potential of federal fleets to transition to zero-emission vehicles. To address these objectives they analyzed government-wide data on vehicles in federal agency fleets and determined that these data were sufficiently reliable for providing high-level depictions of federal fleets, such as describing their overall composition and location. However, they may not be detailed or consistent enough to provide accurate and reliable vehicle-level analyses, such as day-to-day use. They also analyzed GSA information on the vehicles agencies can purchase or lease through GSA, including electric vehicles, and the vehicles agencies ordered in fiscal year 2021. To understand the status of electric vehicle charging infrastructure available to federal agencies, they analyzed data from the Department of Energy (DOE) on federally owned charging stations across the continental United States. They also spoke to GSA and DOE officials about the policies and practices that may affect the transition to electric vehicles.

Winter Energy Market and Reliability Assessment, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Staff, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The authors provide their outlook for energy markets and electric reliability, focusing on the period of December 2022 through February 2023 (winter 2022-2023). The report is divided into three main sections. The first section summarizes weather forecasts for the upcoming winter. The second section summarizes the natural gas and electricity market and electric reliability fundamentals expected for the winter. The last section discusses notable considerations for the upcoming winter, including coal supply issues, natural gas dependence in New England, natural gas pipeline outages in the West, and winter preparedness progress.

Current Methods for Life Cycle Analyses of Low-Carbon Transportation Fuels in the United States, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, with petroleum accounting for 90 percent of transportation fuels. Policymakers encounter a range of questions as they consider low-carbon fuel standards to reduce emissions, including total emissions released from production to use of a fuel or the potential consequences of a policy. Life-cycle assessment is an essential tool for addressing these questions. This report provides researchers and practitioners with a toolkit for applying life-cycle assessment to estimate greenhouse gas emissions, including identification of the best approach to use for a stated policy goal, how to reduce uncertainty and variability through verification and certification, and the core assumptions that can be applied to various fuel types. Policymakers should still use a tailored approach for each fuel type, given that petroleum-based ground, air, and marine transportation fuels necessitate different considerations than alternative fuels including biofuels, hydrogen, and electricity. Ultimately, life-cycle assessments should clearly document what assumptions and methods are used to ensure transparency.

China Country Climate and Development Report, Eckardt et al., World Bank GRoup

The authors provide analysis and recommendations on integrating China's efforts to achieve high-quality development with the pursuit of emission reduction and climate resilience. Without adequate mitigation and adaptation efforts, climate risks will become a growing constraint to China’s long-term growth and prosperity, threatening to reverse development gains. Conversely, if efforts to tackle climate risks lead to a significant decline in growth and rising inequality, they would deprive millions of people of development and likely erode support for the reforms necessary to achieve a lasting economic transformation. Hence, China will need to grow and green its economy at the same time. The authors offer policy options to achieve these dual objectives by easing inevitable trade-offs and maximizing potential synergies between China’s development and climate objectives.

Circular Claims Fall Flat Again, Greenpeace

U.S. households generated an estimated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, only 2.4 million tons of which were recycled. The authors also find that no type of plastic packaging in the U.S. meets the definition of recyclable used by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy (EMF NPE) Initiative. Plastic recycling was estimated to have declined to about 5–6% in 2021, down from a high of 9.5% in 2014 and 8.7% in 2018. At that time, the U.S. exported millions of tons of plastic waste to China and counted it as recycled even though much of it was burned or dumped.

People don’t think the government is doing enough to combat climate change, Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

A majority of the public thinks the federal government is not doing enough to combat climate change. There is support for providing consumers with rebates to purchase energy-efficient appliances or tax credits to install solar panels, though few expect to do so personally in the next few years. More than half of the public think it is important for the government to restrict companies’ greenhouse emissions and provide incentives for the companies to do so. There is less support for incentivizing or restricting individuals’ greenhouse emissions. Sixty-one percent of adults have heard nothing or only a little about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes provisions to incentivize climate-friendly behaviors. Only a third think the legislation will help with climate change. Few say it will play a major role in whether they install solar panels, purchase an electric vehicle or install an electric vehicle charging station, or apply for a green energy job in the next three years. The public is largely in agreement that climate change is happening and caused at least to some degree by human activity. The energy industry and private companies are seen as more responsible for climate change than the energy consumption of individuals.

Americans Value U.S. Role as Scientific Leader, but 38% Say Country Is Losing Ground Globally, Brian Kennedy, Alec Tyson and Cary Funk, Pew Research Center

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how Americans view science and their levels of confidence in groups and institutions in society, including scientists and medical scientists. For this analysis, we surveyed 10,588 U.S. adults from Sept. 13-18, 2022. Everyone who took part in the survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way, nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.

Lifecycle Refrigerant Management, Theodoridi et al., Natural Resources Defense, Environmental Investigation Agency, and Council, the , Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Today, built into each cooling appliance and insulating foam in nearly every household, building, and car in America and across most of the world, there sits a type of fluorinated gas called a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and/or a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC). When leaked out into the atmosphere, HCFCs cause the depletion of Earth’s ozone layer and both HCFCs and HFCs are extremely potent climate warmers. Pound for pound, these chemicals warm the climate several thousands of times as much as carbon dioxide. In total, the U.S. installed base of HCFCs and HFCs is equivalent to 3.6 billion CO2-equivalent metric tons today, mostly in use as refrigerants. Globally, it is approximately 24 billion. The primary global environmental policy on fluorocarbons is the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, which focuses on gradual reductions in the production, import, and use of these gases in the future. To date, however, the policies have not gone to sufficient lengths to prevent emissions, and thus environmental harm, from the HCFCs and HFCs of the past, i.e., those already out in the world. There is a huge opportunity for chemical producers, equipment manufacturers, federal and state policymakers, major corporations, and maintenance professionals to come together to prevent as many of these potent chemicals as possible from making it into the atmosphere. This report makes a first attempt at laying out the starting point for an approach, referred to here as Lifecycle Refrigerant Management.

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Comments 1 to 35:

  1. "Overemphasized apocalyptic futures can be used to support despotism and rashness. For example, catastrophic and ultimately inaccurate overpopulation scenarios in the 1960s and 1970s contributed to several countries adopting forced sterilization and abortion programs, including China’s one-child policy, which caused up to 100 million coerced abortions (7), disproportionately of girls."

    I dont accept that the apocalyptic population scenario was over emphasised. The potential was there for exponential growth and complete disaster. Large families were common back then everywhere with not much sign of this changing. Family size in the USA only barely started changing slighly in the early 1960s, so there was no firmly established trend towards smaller families you could assume would continue.

    This was particularly the case In China which already had a huge population. Chinas inhumane response was unfortunate but those sorts of policies were mostly limited to China.

    The population problem turned out to be less than anticipated (but still pretty bad imo) because the demographic transition was faster than anticipated, and the contraceptive pill discovered in about 1960, became widely adopted and food production improved more than anticipated especially in asia. Nobody could have predicted that or assumed that those things would happen.

    You dont downplay a problem because it might possibly be solved at some point in the future. You would need to be certain it would be solved. If anything you highlight the problem to motivate people, but stopping short of exaggeration.

    And one of the reasons the population problem was less than anticipated was Chinas one child policy, something that seems lost on the authors of the study.

    And what are we left with anyway? A massive global population using up the earths resources at a prodigious and unsustainable rate according to UN studies. Some of this is very high per capita consumption in developed countries, but even lower consuming people in poor countries have a huge environmental footprint, because of the sheer size of their populations.

    IMO the authors of the study are deluded, and writing with a lot of benefit of hindsight.

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  2. Population might be termed the elephant in the room that is also a third rail, in terms of open, frank discussion in connection with public policy. Punters like us can talk about it here down in the weeds, but there's not much headroom for this topic in the world of government.

    Not least because of China's clumsy, inhumane, failed experiment and now unfolding aftermath (better hurry up with the elder care robots, mechanized adult diaper-changing etc.). Especially as that policy as if not bad enough was freighted as well with all the optical baggage of China's other circumstances. The history so created is like a highly conductive chain to throw across the live wires of political discussion. 

    Erlich's predictions might be said to have failed in the sense that his modeling was too simple, uncoupled to other models which might well have better informed the speed of  his model of population growth. 

    Meanwhile, does anybody sincerely believe we're having a truly easier time supporting 7.8 billion than we were with 3.7 billion? Everybody's fed, clothed, housed, educated? No? How about with our projected peak of 10.4 billion? We're assured of providing all of the basics before getting there? If not and we agree that it would be best to avoid adding more before catching up with present needs, our population is effectively out of control. Perhaps we could it a low-order detonation as opposed to a high-order explosion. 

    What would be helpful would be a reliable, well-constituted global misery factor, to apply to population figures. For instance, by some measures per capita improvements our quality of life are visible. Odds of death by violence is one such. But what's the net absolute total misery, given our expansion of population? That's where a global misery factor would be a helpful indicator of progress, or not. We can after all lower the global misery factor yet because it's multiplied by population end up with more total misery despite per capita improvements. Even as we reduce the per capita amount of misery, total misery can still increase, with a bulging population.

    What's the point of making more misery? Maybe it would be better not to do that? Could we just nicely but consistently suggest and remind that 2 kids per parental pair is a good parking spot for steering our total population, until we get things better sorted?

    Nope.

    In any case, the article cited by the three nannies is unresponsive to the claim it's supposed to support. 

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  3. nigelj,

    I agree that looking back without considering the alternative futures that could have developed can lead to incorrect conclusions. You could conclude that there was no choice for humanity but to end up in the mess that has been developed by the lack of effective collective governing to discover, stop, and correct for, harmful human pursuits of personal benefit.

    As an engineer I learned to seek improved understanding of the worst things that could happen regarding what I am designing and check to ensure that the design will safely protect the public and the environment if those ‘worst things’ actually happen in the future.

    As a structural engineer I am painfully aware of people who claim that the lack of frequent structure failures ‘proves to them’ that engineers unnecessarily over-design things.

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  4. Doug Bostrom (and a bit for nigelj),

    Regarding corrections to the use of GDP to measure ‘improvement’:

    The Human Development Report 2020 does a pretty good job of presenting many of the ‘improvements’ to the currently obviously flawed GDP evaluations of improvement. The most glaring flaw is that GDP measurement does not subtract harmful unsustainable economic activity. As an example, when done simplistically, the costs of recovering and rebuilding from harmful climate events is a GDP Plus even though most of that Positive GDP only gets things back to where they were before. There is no improvement. The ability to improve was displaced by the need to recover.

    Regarding the global population problem:

    The following Lancet article “Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: ...” indicates that the peak population could potentially be less than 10.4 billion, especially if the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved and improved on more rapidly. The other benefit of achieving the SDGs is the reduction of the harm done by humans, especially by the most harmful consumers.
    Harmful consumers are a more serious problem than total population.

    Fewer harmfully over-consuming people (causing harmful lasting impacts including consuming renewable resources faster than they renew) allows the total sustainable population to be larger. Many studies indicate that if meat eating was reduced more food would be available for humans with less negative impact, or misery inflicted, on other life.

    There are now many presentations regarding the merits of reduced consumption. An enlightening one is a study by sufficiency researcher Maren Ingrid Kropfeld mentioned in J. B. MacKinnon's book "The Day the World Stops Shopping". The study compared the amount of harmful impact of 4 different consumers:

    • Environmentally conscientious about their consumption (but not limiting it)
    • Frugal (seek out and buy bargains)
    • Tightwads (dislike spending)
    • Actively choose to consume less - pursuing limited consumption (only buying what is 'needed' and buying and repairing more durable things).

    Consumers who 'Choose to consume less' and Tightwads had the lowest level of harmful impact. The Frugal and Environmentally conscientious had far more harmful impact because they did not limit their consumption.

    A closing point about harmful actions:

    Competition for status, with a lack of effective ‘constantly learning’ governing to limit harm done, can produce some very harmful and hard to correct results, including systemic injustice and inequity which includes the development of harmful laws (Florida officials ban the terms 'climate change' and 'global warming') and harmful enforcement of laws (The Supreme Court curbed EPA’s power to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. What comes next?)

    Ibram X. Kendi, in his book “How to be an Antiracist” presents the understanding that Racism is unjustified excusing of harmful actions by making up and defending beliefs about undeniable harmful actions, inequity and injustice. It's useis recorded to have started centuries ago as European leaders tried to explain and excuse their harmful colonization and exploitation pursuits (the Doctrine of Discovery is a harmful part of it - ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery January 2018). And making up beliefs and excuses for benefiting from harmful injustice and inequity applies to far more than visible differences among humans.

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  5. "Some of this is very high per capita consumption in developed countries, but even lower consuming people in poor countries have a huge environmental footprint, because of the sheer size of their populations."

    True, and in fact developing countries account for around two thirds of global emissions, and rising, so population is indeed the elephant in the room.  

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  6. Art Vandelay @5,

    I think if you look properly, the emissions from countries with significant rising population is far lower than 'around two thirds' the total. The territorial emissions from what we can call 'the developed world' does constitute a third of the global total. Add in China and it becomes two thirds.

    And China's population is not rising any more.

    China's population

    The place where there is a significant projected increase in population is Africa.

    Population growth by continent

    But Africa is presently the source of just 3.7% of CO2 emission.

    Global emissions by country

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  7. MA Rodger @6,

    Regardless of population rising or not, the "developing world" still consitutes 2/3 of global CO2 emissions. The importance of that stat is to underscore the significance of population as a metric for emissions. Given that >50% of the developing world is still living in poverty it amounts to a large number of people who will be seeking a more first world existence in coming decades, so we can only expect CO2 emissions to rise for many decades, as a result of increased energy demand, food production, land clearing, transportation, urbanisation etc. Take-up of renewable energy will offset this to some extent but development itself is a highly emissive process. Indeed, the transition towards a low carbon future will itself also involve an enormous 'burp' of CO2 due to the mining, manufacturing, transportation and construction on enormous scales required to upgrade the world's energy and transport sectors. This already explains much of China's CO2 emissions.         

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  8. Art Vandelay @7,

    You shift you argument onto entirely new ground with this latest post.

    You new position is that emissions will grow as underdeveloped societies become more wealthy. You are generally ignoring the goal of developed societies to reduce their own emissions to net zero, indeed to go beyond into the realm of net negative emissions. All this is in those same "coming decades" you assert will see rising emissions resulting from the underdeveloped societies "seeking a more first world existence in coming decades," a "first world existence" that has itself become non-emitting.

    You also assert that "the transition towards a low carbon future" will involve a period of increased emissions. If a portion of the carbon-emitting economy is put to the task of building the non-emitting infrastructure, it may be thus engaged in more carbon-intense activities but I would be surprised if any impact on CO2 emissions were significant, especially given the delivery of non-emitting power follows close behind. The explanation of China's high CO2 emissions is surely because China took on so much of the existing high CO2-emitting activities previously carried out by the West. Again, the building of non-emitting infrastructure is not a factor that I see at work.

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  9. Want to briefly clarify that my statement that poor people and poor countries still have a huge environmental footprint was a general statement about impacts. For example conversion of natural habitat to farming, altering of water courses,etc,etc. Such people clearly have low per capita CO2 emissions. And my intent was to show that we shouldn't ever downplay potential crises, whether population problems or climate change or anything else. However I personally think both fossil fuel emissions and population growth are problems.

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  10. MAR @6

    Great graphics. Very useful.

    -------------------------------

    Art Vandelay @7

    "Regardless of population rising or not, the "developing world" still consitutes 2/3 of global CO2 emissions.....Given that >50% of the developing world is still living in poverty it amounts to a large number of people who will be seeking a more first world existence in coming decades, so we can only expect CO2 emissions to rise for many decades, as a result of increased energy demand, food production, land clearing, transportation, urbanisation etc. "

    There is a sliver lining to the cloud. Africa is in the developoing world and aspire to better lifestyles (and their  population is increasing)  but their per capita emissions are low because they dont have much fossil fuel infrastructure. This means they could in theory transition directly to renewables without going through the whole fossil fuels phase. This is happening to some extent with rural areas buying solar panels. Its not a panacea because they will be importing panels, but it helps a bit.

    "Take-up of renewable energy will offset this to some extent but development itself is a highly emissive process. Indeed, the transition towards a low carbon future will itself also involve an enormous 'burp' of CO2 due to the mining, manufacturing, transportation and construction on enormous scales required to upgrade the world's energy and transport sectors.

    If fossil fuel energy isnt used to build solar and wind power it will be used to build coal fired power or something else, so isn't the point somewhat moot? The other alternative of just not using energy is not realistic.

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  11. nigelj @10,

    A minor nitpick.

    Though "The other alternative of just not using energy is not realistic.", the other 'other alternative' of reduced energy use by the biggest energy users, in parallel with the rapid development of renewable energy systems, would more rapidly end the increasing harm done by continued fossil fuel use.

    Reduced energy demand would also reduce the harm done by the renewable energy systems. There would be less energy demand.

    Limiting the harm done is the objective, or should be. The alternative would appear to be 'no long-term future for humanity'.

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  12. MA Rodger @8 ...

    " you assert will see rising emissions resulting from the underdeveloped societies "seeking a more first world existence in coming decades," a "first world existence" that has itself become non-emitting."

    You're overlooking emissions as a consequence of building 'first world' infrastructure and industry, which includes transportation, high rise commercial development in towns and cities and first-world housing etc. That's a lot of concrete, steel etc and those materials must be mined, refined and transported, often from other countries and over vast distances.  

    "You are generally ignoring the goal of developed societies to reduce their own emissions to net zero, indeed to go beyond into the realm of net negative emissions." 

    Not ignoring, just focused on the developing nations who are responsible for the bulk of global emissions, and importantly, the majority of future global emissions this century.    

    "You also assert that "the transition towards a low carbon future" will involve a period of increased emissions. If a portion of the carbon-emitting economy is put to the task of building the non-emitting infrastructure, it may be thus engaged in more carbon-intense activities but I would be surprised if any impact on CO2 emissions were significant, especially given the delivery of non-emitting power follows close behind."

    Leaving aside rebuilding the world's energy sector, replacing one billion motor vehicles alone is surely an enormously carbon intensive transition, necessitating the mining, processing, and transportation of raw and processed materials on an enormous scale. Studies indicate that EV's incur a higher carbon footprint than ICEV's during the manufacturing process, and the payback peried is over many years. Assuming that new demand for motor vehicles will also come from developing nations it raises the prospect of perhaps double the number of motor vehicles globally in coming decades.  It begs the question of whether that's remotely sustainable.  

    NIJELJ @8 .."However I personally think both fossil fuel emissions and population growth are problems." 

    Population is definitely a huge issue if we deem current first world standards of living (and consumption) as a point of reference for the future. And regardless of our living standards humans will emit CO2 because humans are essentially organic combustion engines. Not only do we exhale about 10%  of global CO2, our existance is at the expense of vast amounts of natural forest for both habitation and food production, both of which are highly emissive, with or without renewable energy. 

    At some point in the not-too-distant future we will be forced to have some difficult conversations to do with sustainable lifestyle and population, and come to an acceptance that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels is just one aspect of a much larger problem that no amount of wind and solar energy energy can ever solve.      

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  13. Art Vandelay @12

    First read my comments @10.

    Secondly you make youself look like a denier if you promote that humans breathing is the problem. Humans breathing is a carbon neutral process. Look it up on the list of climate myths on the LHS of this page. And obviously we cant stop breathing so the point is moot.

    Thirdly, while I agree that population growth is a problem, what do you suggest we do about it? Because we obviously can't line people up and shoot them and enforced one child policies are a big problem. About all government's can do is make contraception freely available and make sure family planning is taught in school. However even that gets contentious.

    In fact the demographic transition and spread of contraception means population growth is slowing in most places, two child families are becoming the norm, and population growth  will probably stop eventually even in Africa. There's just not a whole lot more we can do to influence Africa and the established downwards trends in developed and most developing countries. And that is why the focus must be on renewable energy, electric transport, and trying to reduce levels of per capita consumption.

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  14. Art Vandelay @12,
    I fear what is not remotely sustainable is your argument.
    Does not the developed world construct cars, build high rise commercial developments, manufacture steel and concrete? They will be doing this in a net zero economy, indeed a net-negative-emissions economy. This is the future of the developed world. You argue that the developing world will not be a part of this because they will be constructing cars, building high rise commercial developments and manufacturing steel and concrete just like the developed world, but will be using FFs. Why would that be?

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  15. nijelj@13..."Secondly you make youself look like a denier if you promote that humans breathing is the problem. Humans breathing is a carbon neutral process. Look it up on the list of climate myths on the LHS of this page. And obviously we cant stop breathing so the point is moot."

    Humans breathing is indeed a carbon neutral process, but the catch is that more humans = more CO2 in circulation, hence more in the atmosphere. Similarly, we could run all cars and trucks from biofuels and claim that it's a carbon neutral process. We would be technically correct but also stupid. Anyway, I'm just making the point that human existence is always going to be carbon intensive, and of course most of our emissions stem from the need to remove forests to plant crops and create space for living, working and recreation etc...     

    "Thirdly, while I agree that population growth is a problem, what do you suggest we do about it? Because we obviously can't line people up and shoot them and enforced one child policies are a big problem. About all government's can do is make contraception freely available and make sure family planning is taught in school. However even that gets contentious." 

    Reducing CO2 emisisons isn't easy either, but we're doing it, and we're doing it beacuse we've collectively put systems in place that we've all agreed to, and we now have a timeline of target commitments. And yes it's contentious. So why should a global population policy be any different? We already know that the real carrying capacity of the world is almost a quarter of the current population, and it's not too difficult to work out the ideal population for each and every country or region of the world. A commitment doesn't need to be hugely ambitious, nor does it need to involve lining people up in front of firing squads as many people often suggest when the issue is raised. As we've seen with climate change, it's all about educating the masses so that we're all aware of the problem, and are all participants in a global solution.  

    MA Rodger @ 14..."Does not the developed world construct cars, build high rise commercial developments, manufacture steel and concrete? They will be doing this in a net zero economy, indeed a net-negative-emissions economy. This is the future of the developed world."

    It may well be the future of the developed world but the question is 'when'. You're obviously banking on a lot of new tech in a very short space of time. Good luck with that. Realistically, the developing world isn't going to be waiting around for zero or net-zero carbon technology to be developed and refined to the point of being cost-effective before it matures to first world status. There's nothing wrong with being glass-half-full, but at the same time we need to be guided by reality and common sense. 

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  16. Art @ 15: "...more humans = more CO2 in circulation..."

    More humans = more carbon stored in a fixed reservoir. As biomass accumulates, increasing the number of humans acts as a carbon sink.

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  17. Bob Loblaw @ 16, "More humans = more carbon stored in a fixed reservoir. As biomass accumulates, increasing the number of humans acts as a carbon sink."

    Except that more humans = the exact opposite. Our mass comes from the carbon stored in the plants that we ate and continue to eat, and after we stop growing at around 16 years we operate as pure combustion engines, converting carbon from plants into heat and carbon dioxide. 

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  18. ..and those plants would have decayed into heat and CO2 anyway. Storing them in humans with typical life spans of 60+ years after they "stop growing" delays that decomposition by 60+ years. That slows the carbon cycle down, not speeds it up.

    You don't get to pick and chose which parts of the carbon cycle you want to include in your accounting scheme.

    Now, if you want to discuss the role of agriculture and how that alters soil and biomass carbon storage and cycling vs. natural systems, then go for it. But "humans = more CO2 in circulation" is a gross (and incorrect) simplification.

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  19. Bob Loblaw @ 18, "..and those plants would have decayed into heat and CO2 anyway. Storing them in humans with typical life spans of 60+ years after they "stop growing" delays that decomposition by 60+ years. That slows the carbon cycle down, not speeds it up.

    You don't get to pick and chose which parts of the carbon cycle you want to include in your accounting scheme."

    Thanks Bob.... Probably best not let discussion get bogged down on this specific point. I did consult with an old professor of geology some time ago, so I always defer to his analysis... The assumption that humans exhaling is carbon neutral is correct but there's an inconvenient caveat, and there's no shortage of misinformation. Essentially, humans are combustine engines, so unlike plants and trees, over our lifetimes we emit an enormous amount of CO2 relative to our mass. In fact, we eat roughly our body mass every few weeks. You could argue that our existence is at the expense of other respiring animals - which offsets our impact on the carbon cycle, but all such arguements whether correct or not are ultimately spurious, because as we're all aware most of our impact on the carbon cycle, aside from fossil fuel combustion, comes from the clearing and burning of large proportions of the world's natural forests for food production, living space and lifestyle. Some of our activities and agri practices also increase the natural levels of methane and other greenhouse gasses which further adds to the greenhouse problem.

    So, our collective respiration of CO2, although around 10% of global total CO2 emissions, which seems like a big number, is a problem we can easily exist with, and indeed there's probably some benefit to CO2 levels in the atmosphere higher than pre-industrial. On the other hand, our existence, at the expense of huge amounts of the biosphere is a HUGE problem.      

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  20. Art Vandealy @15

    "Humans breathing is indeed a carbon neutral process, but the catch is that more humans = more CO2 in circulation, hence more in the atmosphere."

    Read what BL said. Its not increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 over time.Thats what matters. Y

    "Similarly, we could run all cars and trucks from biofuels and claim that it's a carbon neutral process. We would be technically correct but also stupid"

    It is correct, but it isn't stupid. If its carbon neutral its not increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2, which is the thing we are concerned about. Although personally I believe biofuels have rather a limited future for practical reasons of land availability.

    "Anyway, I'm just making the point that human existence is always going to be carbon intensive,"

    It is, but so what? The only thing that matters is how much we increase atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Not whether we eat plants or exhale CO2.

    We could even continue to be very carbon intensive and capture and store all the fossil fuel emissions we produce, although its not the most economic option, and is completely senseless because we cant maintain a fossil fuel based civilisation for much longer anyway. The resource is finite, and we have already used up all the easy to extract fossil fuels. We are now on the downward slope and will run out, or find the resource is prohibitively costly to extract forcing is to use alternatives.

    "and of course most of our emissions stem from the need to remove forests to plant crops and create space for living, working and recreation etc... "

    Trying to make it sound like relatively harmless things are causing the problem when the real main underlying culprit is burning fossil fuels.
    "And yes it's contentious. So why should a global population policy be any different?...it's all about educating the masses so that we're all aware of the problem, and are all participants in a global solution. "

    Politicians wont go near something like a global population policy with specific goals on population size etc,etc. Most people dont want politicians in their bedrooms let alone a global coalition of politicians in their bedrooms. And we dont need something like a global population policy, because the problem is largely fixing itself anyway: Population growth is generally already slowing for well known reasons to do with the demographic transition and easier availability of contraceptives.

    Our education systems already indirectly raise awareness of the population issues, - without needing to lecture people about it too directly or promote a partcular family size. I dont oppose more explicit education but I cant see schools and governmnts going near such an issue because of the huge potential public backlash.
    I don't think theres much more we can do to speed up the de-growth process already underway. And population decline cannot possibly happen quickly enough to be a factor in keeping warming under 2 degrees. It might have some small effect on keeping warming under 8 degrees but by then it would be too late to be useful to us anyway.
    "You're (MAR) obviously banking on a lot of new tech in a very short space of time. Good luck with that. "

    Your underlying point seems to be that the transition to renewables will require burning of fossil fuels to manufacture a new energy grid. The quantity of energy needed to make a new energy grid is vastly less than total quantity of just continuing to burn fossil fuels with all the warming that will cause. This is literally intuitively very obvious and experts have done the maths. 

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  21. Art @ 19 [emphasis added]:

    Essentially, humans are combustine engines, so unlike plants and trees, over our lifetimes we emit an enormous amount of CO2 relative to our mass.

    Art: meet tree respiration. Tree respiration: meet Art. The two of you obviously don't know each other.

    All living organisms consume sugars to produce energy. They do that by burning the sugars. That produces heat, energy, water, and CO2.

    Trees and plants are not some magical one-way path that fixes carbon. As they grow, they store carbon - in additional to using large quantities of it as food when they cannot photosynthesize. When they are "eating", they take in O2 and release CO2 - and it really is called "respiration". Once they die and decay, the carbon is released again. Just like humans.

    You can actually find resources on the Internet that will explain this to you, if you bother to try.

    As for the rest of your post, now you're just playing "Look! Squirrel!". Face it: you do not understand the carbon cycle.

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  22. Bob Loblaw @ 21..Trees and plants are not some magical one-way path that fixes carbon. As they grow, they store carbon - in additional to using large quantities of it as food when they cannot photosynthesize. When they are "eating", they take in O2 and release CO2 - and it really is called "respiration". Once they die and decay, the carbon is released again. Just like humans.

    Bob, now you're playing semantics.. 

    I can equally argue that fossil fuels are carbon neutral.

    I can't understand why it's so contraversial to state the fact that humans are essentiually combustion engines that convert carbon and oxygen into CO2.  

    As for the rest of your post, now you're just playing "Look! Squirrel!". Face it: you do not understand the carbon cycle.

    Well, perhaps you should consult a geologist as I did. Unlike trees humans and other members of the animal kingdom combust huge amounts of carbon and store very little. Humans, for example exhale roughly 1kg of CO2 daily, so roughly 30,000kg over a lifetime. In less than 3 months we exhale our entire body weight in CO2. 

    As stated previously, a static human population does not increase CO2 in the atmosphere, but human population is responsible for a higher level of CO2 in the atmosphere than would be the case if humans didn't exist, simply because we convert C and O into CO2. The same applies to all respiring members of the animal kingdom. 

    Of course, our contribution to atmospheric CO2 purely from respiration is trivial in the grand scheme but that doesn't mean we should pretend that it doesn't exist.  That would be anti-science.   

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  23. Arguing by proxy with some anonymous "old professor of geology" isn't my idea of a useful way to establish a proper understanding of any situation.

    An adult human being will exhale something approaching 1kg CO2 per day (depending how active they were) so for 7 billion souls per year that would be perhaps something like a flux into the atmosphere of 2.5Gt(CO2) or 0.7Gt(C). The carbon cycle is estimated to include an annual 120Gt(C) flux from the biosphere to the atmosphere suggesting human beings provide directly 0.6% of that flux. This is far smaller than the proportion being bandied about by commenter Art Vandelay.

    Above and beyond the use of fossil fuels, the impact of humanity indirectly on the size of that 120Gt(C) flux (by replacing natural ecosystems with agriculture & pasture) and any resulting impact that change in size would have on the CO2 levels in the atmosphere is seperate consideration which is yet to be properly set out by commenter Art Vandelay.

    So I for one would appreciate less talk of "anti-science" from commenter Art Vandelay.

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  24. Art @ 22: "I can equally argue that fossil fuels are carbon neutral."

    Only if you have no idea how time constants influence carbon storage.

    "Well, perhaps you should consult a geologist as I did."

    If you go to the menus at the top of the SkS page, choose "About" and "Team", you will find that I have quite a bit of my own experience and knowledge about forest carbon cycles.

    I see you have not yet bothered to learn anything about tree respiration. If you follow the link I gave you in comment #21, you will see the following:

    In general, the sugar produced by a tree is allocated and used in the following order of importance:

    1. Respiration
    2. Structure
    3. Storage
    4. Defense
    5. Reproduction

    Feel free to continue to flaunt your ignorance.

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  25. Art Vandelay's expressed understanding, including the claim that they learned from a helpful knowledgeable Professor of Geology, are very questionable.

    The source of fossil fuels is ancient buried hydrocarbons that are not part of the current recycling carbon cycle active on the surface of the planet. They were locked away long ago. Digging them up and oxidizing them, primarily producing CO2 and H2O, adds new excess CO2 to the current active carbon cycle. Some of the excess carbon is taken in by plants (or other living things) or absorbed in the ocean. But the rate of fossil fuel use, along with other human activity impacts (not the exhaling of CO2 which is simply a small part of the already established carbon cycle) is undeniably causing a significant increase of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and related global warming and related climate changes.

    That understanding about fossil fuels is the reason that Carbon Capture and Storage applied to fossil fuel emissions is recognised as a way to reduce the harmful impacts of continuing to burn fossil fuels. It is also the reason that Carbon Capture direct from the atmosphere and storage is pursued as a solution. Capturing some of the excess carbon and locking it away is simply an attempt to undo some of the harmful impacts of digging up and burning of ancient buried hydrocarbons by putting some of that recently freed excess carbon back into a locked away condition.

    It is almost certain that a knowledgable Professor of Geology would understand that story of fossil fuels. But, admittedly, some very highly educated individuals have produced some very questionable claims regarding the impacts of fossil fuel use, including attempts to get people to believe non-sense about fossil fuels.

    Hopefully this helps Art understand they had been fooled by someone they thought they could trust.

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  26. I would hesitate to say that a "Professor of Geology" has misled anyone, but geologists in general do tend to look at some rather long-term processes - at least, the ones that focus on rocks, tectonics, etc. In the category of surficial geology - where the interest focuses on a lot more recent events, such as glacial, river, and wind deposits - the time scales are much shorter.

    Not knowing what area of geology Art Vandelay's "Professor of Geology" specializes in, I'd avoid any broad, sweeping generalizations. It is clear, however, that Art has failed to understand the significance of the times involved in any of the carbon cycle storage terms.

    As MA Rodger points out, there are discussions worth having regarding how human choices of agricultural system, etc. will change fluxes, storage, rates of transfer, etc. compared to the natural systems they replace. Mr. Vandelay has not shown any useful knowledge/discussion in these matters, though.

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  27. Bob Loblaw @26,

    The better way to make the point may be that what Art claims to have learned from a Professor of Geology is potentially Art fooling themself about the matter, though some highly educated individuals have been quite miseleading ... most likely motivated by the benefits of promoting or excusing fossil fuel use.

    However, I would be curious about the time scale a Professor of Geology would say the carbon that is/was locked away as buried ancient hydrocarbon would be likely to return to being part of the active surface carbon cycle system.

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  28. MA Rodger @ 23.. "The carbon cycle is estimated to include an annual 120Gt(C) flux from the biosphere to the atmosphere suggesting human beings provide directly 0.6% of that flux. This is far smaller than the proportion being bandied about by commenter Art Vandelay."

    That's a misundersting on your part. I expressed CO2 from human respiration as a percentage of human emissions, not total flux.   

    Above and beyond the use of fossil fuels, the impact of humanity indirectly on the size of that 120Gt(C) flux (by replacing natural ecosystems with agriculture & pasture) and any resulting impact that change in size would have on the CO2 levels in the atmosphere is seperate consideration which is yet to be properly set out by commenter Art Vandelay."

    There's no shortage of published studies, and some have shown that as much as a third of atmospheric CO2 the result of human activity other than fossil fuel combustion. I would hope that the significance of this would be embraced as we move away from fossil fuel consumption, and with certainty of population growth and a further 6 billion added to a 'developed world'. 

    "Feel free to continue to flaunt your ignorance."   

    And lets all feel free to discuss with civility and respect. 

    One planet Only @ 25..

    "But the rate of fossil fuel use, along with other human activity impacts (not the exhaling of CO2 which is simply a small part of the already established carbon cycle) is undeniably causing a significant increase of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and related global warming and related climate changes."

    Of course it is, and that's why there's a global focus and commitment to remedy that situation. 

    The better way to make the point may be that what Art claims to have learned from a Professor of Geology is potentially Art fooling themself about the matter. 

    For what it's worth, the same geologist is also of the view that cows are a contributing factor to climate change, even though they too, like us, are part of the natural carbon cycle. Assuming the number of cattle is static their contribution to rising greenhouse gas is zero. 

    So are cows a problem or not?  

     

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  29. So it turns out that published studies exist. This from 2021.  

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346307914_Human_breath-

    CO2_matters

    Extract from the study.. 

    In short, contrary to published claims [Alexander, 2010; Palmer, 2009; Withers, 2009], the assumption that breath emission is always ideally balanced by cycling of CO2 is not tenable. Given B > P, airborne flux b equals B – P. Cycling implies that breath emission B gives rise to an airborne flux b in excess of the cycling flux P, adding CO2 to the atmosphere. There is a whole range of positive values of b,
    excepting only a single point where B coincides with P. Greenhouse effect and global warming will follow an increase in atmospheric CO2, making the escape of breath-CO2 relevant for the climate.
    The mainstream argument maintains that 1) emission of CO2 by the breath of humans is fully compensated, largely by photosynthesis, and 2) only non-cyclic processes like the consumption of fossil fuels give rise to an airborne fraction of CO2 which alters the atmosphere. In contrast, I maintain that full compensation of breath emission by photosynthesis is not tenable. Rather, all emissions of CO2, including anthropogenic emission by the breath of humans, have an airborne fraction > 0, by means of which they affect the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse
    effect.
    While in the past an increase of the atmospheric greenhouse effect by human breath was denied, this increase, contrary to the burning of fossil fuel, turns out to be an unavoidable consequence of human physiology. It is linearly dependent on population size, thus birth control may be expected to cope with it.

     

     

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Link activated.

    The web software here does not automatically create links. You can do this when posting a comment by selecting the "insert" tab, selecting the text you want to use for the link, and clicking on the icon that looks like a chain link. Add the URL in the dialog box.

  30. Art @ 28: "And lets all feel free to discuss with civility and respect."

    To me, showing civility and respect would include not throwing out one-liners such as "the catch is that more humans = more CO2 in circulation, hence more in the atmosphere.", and not dodging and weaving with distractions when people point out the obvious errors in that statement, and continuing to ignore things such as tree respiration even after people have provided links to you so that you can learn. And not doubling down with "well but" what-aboutism when challenged.

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  31. Art @ 29:

    ResearchGate is a place where anyone can post any "paper" they want. There is no indication that the "paper" you link to has actually been published anywhere or has gone through any sort of review.

    The "model" in that "paper" starts by describing "a system of only 2 fluxes". Trying to estimate the effects of global carbon cycling using "a system of only 2 fluxes" falls into the "not even wrong" category.

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  32. Bob Loblaw @31,

    The work linked by Art Vandelay @29 is not published and is saying no more than 'CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere because there is more going in than coming out' and thus it is argued that 'because there is more than 550Mt(C)/y of CO2 in human breath going in, this is climatalogically significant'. The total flux of CO2 into the atmosphere is roughly 220,000Mt(C)/y. Thus, if human breath was not replacing decaying plants as an emitter and were entirely an addition to the full cycle, it would add a whole 0.25% to that cycle and thus according to the method of the linked work be responsible for an annual increase in atmospheric CO2 of 0.005ppm/yr. The linked work is entirely wrong to suggest such a tiny rise is in any way "reaching climatic significance."

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  33. MA Rodger:

    I was going to see if Art Vandelay was going to try to defend the "paper", but why wait. The "paper" is short, and the failures of its analysis are obvious in two places.

    The abstract states:

    The CO2 which humans emit by breathing is commonly thought to fully recycle by photosynthesis. Therefore it is unable to enter the atmosphere and affect the climate. This notion, though popular, is flawed. Suppose a sink-flux of magnitude P limits the amount of CO2 recycled. Then the CO2 emitted in excess of P must be removed into the atmosphere as an airborne fraction and a rise of atmospheric CO2 will accompany the only partial cycling of breath-CO2.

    Art Vandelay quoted and highlighted this snippet from the paper:

    Rather, all emissions of CO2, including anthropogenic emission by the breath of humans, have an airborne fraction > 0, by means of which they affect the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect.

    The paper questions what happens to the CO2 emitted by human breath, once it is released into the atmosphere.

    What the paper ignores is the question of where that carbon came from. Scotty did not beam it into the human bodies. It did not appear in human bodies by magic. It came from plants that recently photosynthesized it - some time in the past few years. It may have passed through cattle or some other animal in the food chain on its way to human digestion, but the simple fact is that 100% of the human emission of CO2 by breath was recently extracted from the atmosphere. Thus, it causes no net change in atmospheric concentration (over the time scale of a few years).

    The "paper" does not understand what a "cycle" is (as in "carbon cycle"). It is not a one-way path that starts with humans and ends with atmospheric removal by photosynthesis or other factors. Human breathing contributes CO2 to the atmosphere, and that carbon only comes from one of many sources of carbon in the carbon cycle - recent photosynthesis by plants.

    The author of that "paper" is ignorant. From all appearances, Art Vandelay selects that "paper" to support  his position - not because it is a good analysis, but rather because he likes the "conclusion". Art is no better informed than the author, or he'd see the obvious flaws.

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  34. In response to:

    "The better way to make the point may be that what Art claims to have learned from a Professor of Geology is potentially Art fooling themself about the matter."

    Art Vandelay @28 offered:

    "For what it's worth, the same geologist is also of the view that cows are a contributing factor to climate change, even though they too, like us, are part of the natural carbon cycle. Assuming the number of cattle is static their contribution to rising greenhouse gas is zero.

    So are cows a problem or not"

    There are many easily learned about problems regarding human activities related to production of cows to be eaten by humans. But I will limit my response to the climate change impact aspects of the diversity of 'cattle raising' problems.

    The current number of cattle is fairly static. So, setting aside the problem of humans having over-developed cattle raising to the current levels, I will limit my response to the static number of cattle.

    There are many climate change impacts due to cattle production, including the reduction of forests to increase the area available for cattle raising. But I will also limit my response to the significant climate change impact factor of methane emissions from cattle. Methane is a more powerful ghg than the CO2 it eventually breaks down to after decades of being excess methane in the atmosphere.

    Reducing the number of cattle would reduce the developed ghg impacts of human activity, off-setting some of the already excessive, and continuing to be made worse, global warming impacts caused by human activity.

    So the 'static' climate impact of current developed levels of cattle production could be reduced by reducing the amount of cattle production. So, from that limited evaluation of the 'potential problems caused by the human raising of cattle' 'cows are a problem'.

    All of that easily available understanding, understanding that has been well established for decades, would appear to confirm that:

    "The better way to make the point may be that what Art claims to have learned from a Professor of Geology is potentially Art fooling themself about the matter."

    Though, admittedly, it also could indicate that:

    "Art Vandelay deliberately tries to fool others ... most likely motivated by the benefits of promoting or excusing fossil fuel use. They may even be the Professor they refer to."

     

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Portions snipped. It's one thing to say that someone is fooling themselves, but from the comments policy:

    No accusations of deception.  Any accusations of deception, fraud, dishonesty or corruption will be deleted. This applies to both sides. You may critique a person's methods but not their motives.

  35. OPOF's comment about cows is to point: it's the conversion of CO2 to methane that is the issue at hand when it comes to cows.

    CO2 in (via plant photosynthesis), methane out is not the same as CO2 in , CO2 out.

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