WTF Climate Change News

Innula Zenovka

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At a psychological level, "conservatives" by their very nature are more rooted in tradition, and adverse to change or adopting new ideas. Getting them to accept the massively disruptive paradigm of climate change is a tall order in itself. When that paradigm is tied to fearful scenarios of catastrophe, their natural inclination is to disbelieve. The cost of belief is simply too high.
Which is very odd, in that conservatives, who are supposed to see the present as a link between the past and the future and to want to conserve what is good about the past to hand it on to future generations, might be expected to be particularly concerned about the prospect to rendering much of the planet uninhabitable in the foreseeable future.

I can see how the ecological catastrophes in the former Soviet Union are a direct consequence of Soviet political thinking -- the idea that the Communist Party could, and should, industrialise the Soviet Union, in accordance with its (mis)understanding of Marxist theories of history, and its idea that human creativity and technological ability could, if properly directed by the Communist Party, overcome all natural obstacles. There's a direct connection between the progressive dream that science can make the desert bloom and the reality of the Aral Sea drying up as a result. But the connection between conservatism, at least as traditionally understood, and such insouciance in the face of environmental catastrophe is less clear.

Then, of course, I've never regarded US "conservatives" as being anything of the sort.
 

Beebo Brink

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Which is very odd, in that conservatives, who are supposed to see the present as a link between the past and the future and to want to conserve what is good about the past to hand it on to future generations, might be expected to be particularly concerned about the prospect to rendering much of the planet uninhabitable in the foreseeable future.
That's a spectacularly idealistic vision of conservatism, which supposedly underlies the ideology of the "elite" ranks of the GOP. I don't think their vision ever percolated down into the base.

In the U.S., conservatism basically boils down to: "White Christian people deserve the best things, and we're keeping it all to ourselves, goddammit." It's a preservation of privilege, lifestyle and possessions, to be passed down to their own children.
 

Beebo Brink

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Over the past few weeks I've been browsing through a wide variety of books, articles and videos on mass extinctions. I've always had a vague knowledge of geologic eras and those fossil thingies, but for the first time I'm digging in to the details and absorbing the insights they provide into our current climate and the near-future contortions that we're just beginning to feel.

I've developed a new appreciation for the interaction of oxygen and CO2 levels in the atmosphere and in the ocean. It's a seesaw dynamic that drives climate temperatures up and down, along with the acidity of the ocean waters. Each major swing of the past has wiped out significant numbers of species. The catalog of life that has flourished. then completely disappeared, is quite sobering, but in a weirdly morbid way I also find it liberating. Amazing species have come and gone for millions of years; we're just the latest flash in the pan to have its day then lose it. After our eventual, inevitable demise an entirely new slate of life will arise eventually.

I'm also much more cognizant of the deeper symbolic meaning of burning coal, oil and gas. These are the literal remains of past extinctions, of the great dying of species, that sequestered the CO2 of their time in their bodies. We're releasing it again, injecting huge quantities into the atmosphere in an incredibly short timespan, an explosion of CO2 that spins the chemical cycle of our planet into high gear.

Again, nothing I didn't know generally, but sharpening the details is helping me grapple with the shambling monster headed our way.
 

Beebo Brink

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To expand on my last post, I'm especially interested in the Devonian mass extinction, which occurred well before the age of dinosaurs, and even earlier than the "Great Dying" of the Permian extinction. Unlike the asteroid hit that most likely killed off the dinosaurs, the Devonian extinction appears to have been the result of climate change events.

The Devonian extinction saw the oceans choke to death

During the Devonian era, plants moved out of the ocean and onto land, where they flourished and began exuding large quantities of oxygen. This new oxygenation, plus the effects of their growing root systems, broke up nutrient-rich rocks that were swept into the oceans. This escalating infusion of nutrients kicked off massive algal growth that in turn created huge anoxic dead zones that killed off ocean fish. As if that wasn't bad enough, microorganisms that feasted on the algae pooped out hydrogen-sulfide, creating even more toxicity in the ocean.

Meanwhile, back on land, the new vascular plants sucked in CO2 and pumped out oxygen with such vigor that they triggered an ice age that lasted millions of years, killing off a significant portion of land animals.

Of all the mass extinctions known to science, "the Late Devonian event is closest to what's going on in the modern world," says Algeo. "I think there's an important message to us about what might happen to the biosphere."

Because we are so successful, humans are putting a lot of pressure on other species, and that means the slightest nudge could tip them over the edge. The Devonian extinction suggests it has happened before, and could happen again.
tl:dr - Success can lead to unintended consequences.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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That's a spectacularly idealistic vision of conservatism, which supposedly underlies the ideology of the "elite" ranks of the GOP. I don't think their vision ever percolated down into the base.

In the U.S., conservatism basically boils down to: "White Christian people deserve the best things, and we're keeping it all to ourselves, goddammit." It's a preservation of privilege, lifestyle and possessions, to be passed down to their own children.
I agree it's a very idealistic view -- it's the view of conservative political philosophers (at least the English ones), rather than the ideology of any particular party, that I was trying to describe. But, as I said, I don't see anything particularly Conservative about the US right-wing. Hobbes and Burke would have been horrified by them, as would more recent writers like Michael Oakeshott.
 

Kamilah Hauptmann

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I agree it's a very idealistic view -- it's the view of conservative political philosophers (at least the English ones), rather than the ideology of any particular party, that I was trying to describe. But, as I said, I don't see anything particularly Conservative about the US right-wing. Hobbes and Burke would have been horrified by them, as would more recent writers like Michael Oakeshott.
It was a familiar view out here in the frozen colony as well. I'd been asked recently by a US friend what the difference was between Canadian and American liberals. I had to reply, "Not a lot." I went on to say where the major differences lie is the difference between Canadian and American conservatives. I further described myself as a "small c" conservative. The kind who believes that the delivery of public services is in the interest of upholding public order; and that the history of revolution teaches what happens when there's a large enough proportion of people who have little to nothing to lose.
 

Kara Spengler

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Over the past few weeks I've been browsing through a wide variety of books, articles and videos on mass extinctions. I've always had a vague knowledge of geologic eras and those fossil thingies, but for the first time I'm digging in to the details and absorbing the insights they provide into our current climate and the near-future contortions that we're just beginning to feel.

I've developed a new appreciation for the interaction of oxygen and CO2 levels in the atmosphere and in the ocean. It's a seesaw dynamic that drives climate temperatures up and down, along with the acidity of the ocean waters. Each major swing of the past has wiped out significant numbers of species. The catalog of life that has flourished. then completely disappeared, is quite sobering, but in a weirdly morbid way I also find it liberating. Amazing species have come and gone for millions of years; we're just the latest flash in the pan to have its day then lose it. After our eventual, inevitable demise an entirely new slate of life will arise eventually.

I'm also much more cognizant of the deeper symbolic meaning of burning coal, oil and gas. These are the literal remains of past extinctions, of the great dying of species, that sequestered the CO2 of their time in their bodies. We're releasing it again, injecting huge quantities into the atmosphere in an incredibly short timespan, an explosion of CO2 that spins the chemical cycle of our planet into high gear.

Again, nothing I didn't know generally, but sharpening the details is helping me grapple with the shambling monster headed our way.
If you have a copy of cosmos lying around (or you missed it the other year) you might want to give it a rewatch. Tyson gives a lot of time to carbon cycles, climate change, mass extinction events, geologic eras, and so on. I was able to pick up the digital copy for $5 on sale recently.
 

Beebo Brink

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Climate change: The massive CO2 emitter you may not know about

Not only does the production of Portland cement involve quarrying - causing airborne pollution in the form of dust - it also requires the use of massive kilns, which require large amounts of energy.

The actual chemical process of making cement also emits staggeringly high levels of CO2.
The article also covered some interesting new technologies that could provide cement without the CO2 emissions.
 

danielravennest

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First ExxonMobil gets into solar, and now Shell gets into wind energy:

An auction to lease three offshore wind farm locations off the coast of Massachusetts fetched a record $405 million last week.

The winners were Equinor; Mayflower Wind Energy, a Royal Dutch Shell and EDP Renewables joint venture; and Vineyard Wind. Overall, 11 companies participated in the auction.
I think they are seeing electric cars and trucks growing in popularity (2 million sold this year) and are worried. Shell can leverage their offshore oil experience in building offshore wind farms. They at least understand the working environment.
 

Kara Spengler

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Cosmos is on sale on vudu again BTW.
 
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danielravennest

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Solar panel installations estimated to double from 2015 to 2019

According to a recent report released by IHS Markit, annual global PV installations in 2019 are expected to rise by 18%, reaching a generation capacity of 123GW on the year. ... In total, annual PV installations are growing by more than 20% in 45 different country markets. Within the US, PV installations are projected to grow by 28% year-on-year, with developers looking to make a major dent in their respective project pipelines before the December 2019 deadline for the 30% investment tax credit (ITC).
For scale, 123 GW of solar capacity is about the output of 25 nuclear plants, or about 0.12% of the world's total energy use of all kinds, including fossil sources.
 
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Soen Eber

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That comes to about 20,000 nuke plants to replace the entire world's energy demand, servicing 385,000 people per nuclear installation.
That's about right. Total world energy use is on the order of 20,000 GW, and a typical nuclear reactor produces 1 GW. Note that nuclear plants mostly produce electricity, but most of the world's energy is in other forms, mainly burning fossil fuels. For example, about 7% of carbon emissions are from making concrete. That includes everything from heating limestone and shale in furnaces to make the cement, mining the gravel and sand for the rest of the ingredients, then driving mixer trucks to the construction sites. Nearly all of that is fossil-fueled today.

Nuclear plants currently produce about 285 GW electric, thus 1.4% of the world's energy. Electricity from all sources is about 3 TW, or 15% of world energy.
 
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danielravennest

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Umm, aside from nuclear waste do any produce anything else?
China is building some that will provide town heating, in addition to electricity. Normally, after running through turbines, the steam is run through a cooling tower to condense. Instead, they will pipe it to for building heating.
 
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Kara Spengler

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China is building some that will provide town heating, in addition to electricity. Normally, after running through turbines, the steam is run through a cooling tower to condense. Instead, they will pipe it to for building heating.
Interesting, although I am hoping the water for heating is a closed system from the water that touches the rods.
 
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