Climate Capitalism

by Judith Curry

There is a new book out entitled “Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change,” by  Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, authors of an earlier book entitled “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution“.

Product description from Amazon.com:

Believe in climate change. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter.

But you’d better understand this: the best route to rebuilding our economy, our cities, and our job markets, as well as assuring national security, is doing precisely what you would do if you were scared to death about climate change. Whether you’re the head of a household or the CEO of a multinational corporation, embracing efficiency, innovation, renewables, carbon markets, and new technologies is the smartest decision you can make. It’s the most profitable, too. And, oh yes—you’ll help save the planet.

In Climate Capitalism, L. Hunter Lovins, coauthor of the bestselling Natural Capitalism, and the sustainability expert Boyd Cohen prove that the future of capitalism in a recession-riddled, carbon-constrained world will be built on innovations that cutting-edge leaders are bringing to the market today. These companies are creating jobs and driving innovation.

Climate Capitalism delivers hundreds of indepth case studies of international corporations, small businesses, NGOs, and municipalities to prove that energy efficiency and renewable resources are already driving prosperity. While highlighting business opportunities across a range of sectors—including energy, construction, transportation, and agriculture technologies—Lovins and Cohen also show why the ex–CIA director Jim Woolsey drives a solar-powered plugin hybrid vehicle. His bumper sticker says it all: “Osama bin Laden hates my car.”

Corporate executives, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, and concerned citizens alike will find profitable ideas within these pages. In ten information-packed chapters, Climate Capitalism gives tangible examples of early adopters across the globe who see that the low-carbon economy leads to increased profits and economic growth. It offers a clear and concise road map to the new energy economy and a cooler planet.

Top 10 Climate Capitalists of the 21st Century

Co author Boyd Cohen has a post at triplepundit on their  new book, which includes their top 10 list of climate capitalists:
  1. Shai Agassi (Israel), of Better Place
  2. Ray Anderson (U.S), founder of Interface Flor
  3. Richard Branson (U.K.) of Virgin and Carbon War Room
  4. Christina Figueres (Costa Rica) UNFCCC
  5. Norman Foster (UK) designer of Masdar City in Dubai
  6. Al Gore (US) of Generation Investment Management
  7. Van Jones (US) Green for All
  8. Vinod Khosla (India) Khosla Ventures
  9. Jaime Lerner (Brazil) Bus Rapid Transit System
  10. Shi Zhengrong (China) SunTech Power
Several of these names are quite controversial, notably Gore and Figueres. But what’s not to like about Ray Anderson and Shi Zhengrong?
A Roadmap for Natural Capitalism

I haven’t read either of the books, but the authors have published an article in the Harvard Business Review in 2008 that puts forward their main thesis, with the title off this section [link].  A summary of the article is provided here, with excerpts below.  Note especially their descriptions of Interface Flor, Ray Anderson’s company:

The earth’s ability to sustain life is in peril—as companies consume natural resources in ways that prevent ecosystems from regenerating our air, water, and food supplies. For example, clear-cutting forests for wood fiber damages forests’ ability to store water, provide animal habitats, and regulate climate.

Why such rampant exploitation? Unlike the value derived from consuming natural resources, the value of ecosystems’ most crucial services don’t appear on balance sheets. Yet that value is worth $33 trillion a year.

You can capture some of that $33 trillion and help restore the planet by practicing natural capitalism—conducting business profitably while also protecting natural resources. Some strategies suggested by Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawken: Adopt technologies that extend natural resources’ usefulness. Design production systems that eliminate costly waste. And reinvest in nature’s capital; for instance, by planting trees to offset power-plant carbon emissions.

Work with nature, and you boost profitability—pulling ahead of rivals who continue to work against nature.

The authors recommend these steps to natural capitalism:

Increase Natural Resources’ Productivity

Develop dramatically more efficient production processes that stretch natural resources—energy, minerals, water, forests—5, 10, even 100 times further than they go today. You’ll ensure that these resources pay for themselves over time. And you may save on initial capital investments.

In its new Shanghai carpet factory, Interface redesigned their process for pumping liquids by using fatter-than-usual pipes, which created less friction than thin pipes do. The move cut power requirements by 92%. The new system also cost less to build, involved no new technology, and worked better than traditional systems in all respects.

Imitate Biological Production Models

In nature, nothing goes to waste. Ensure that every output of your manufacturing processes is composted into useful natural resources or recycled for further production. You’ll preserve ecosystems while eliminating the cost of waste disposal.

Interface invented a new floor-covering material, Solenium, which can be completely recycled into the identical floor product, reducing landfill waste. Solenium lasts four times longer and uses 40% less material than ordinary carpets. It’s toxin-free and stainproof, resists mildew growth, and is easily cleaned with water. Between 1994 and 1998, Interface’s revenues rose by $200 million. Of those revenues, $67 million has been attributed to the company’s decreased waste.

Change Your Business Model

Your customers don’t necessarily need to own your products. Often they merely need to be able to use them. Therefore, consider shifting your business model from selling products to providing services.

Interface realized clients want to walk on and look at carpets—not necessarily own them. So it transformed itself from a company that sells carpets into one that provides floor-covering services. It leases its service for a monthly fee, taking responsibility for keeping its carpets clean and replacing worn carpet tiles. This business model vastly reduces the amount of carpeting sent to landfills. And it improves customers’ productivity by eliminating the need to close offices and remove furniture to replace entire carpets.

I am a big fan of Ray Anderson,  who is a Georgia Tech alum. Interface corporate headquarters is in Atlanta, right on the edge of the Georgia Tech campus.

JC comments:  climate/natural capitalism has been taking its hits, e.g. problems with the Chicago Climate Exchange, WalMart gives up going green, etc.  But it seems like there are sound principles behind this, and some notable success stories.  Your thoughts?

282 responses to “Climate Capitalism

  1. The underlying premise of the book is only partially right. Warmists would like to think they are pursuing a strategy that will bring us energy independence and that helps national security, but most of the other claims are just plain wrong. Carbon markets are collapsing. Renewables are not generally not economic.

    I certainly embrace new technologies and energy independence. But I don’t demand new technologies be carbon-free. There is no need. It is a false demand to put on energy policy.

    • “Renewables are not generally not economic.”

      At least on large scales. Wood pellet stoves (and wood stoves with catalytic converters in general) are pretty economical. Outdoor wood boilers around here have been banned – people don’t like the smoke.

      • I’m involved in Forestry in New Zealand.

        Last year I sat through a presentation about wood pellets at an industry conference.

        I’m afraid they are not particularly economical, and, from my calculations, actually have a negative impact overall.

        The pellets are made from dried, chipped, compressed (and cooled) timber. The process usually involves kiln drying.

        If you take into consideration the transport, drying, mechanical processing energy, I can’t for the life of me work out how anyone could claim that the product would have a lower carbon footprint or environmental impact than burning the original firewood properly dried.

        Sure, pellets produce less smoke than firewood, and I can see that, in a city there is a good air quality argument.

        But on a climate basis and an energy budget one they are worse overall.

        Where I live, the process even has wet wood being transported from one city 80 km to another one to be processed at a plant with cheap drying facilities, whilst naturally dried wood is transported in the opposite direction to the processing plant in the first city.

        Sorry. I get a bit sick of things being touted as environmentally friendly because the measurement is on a small part of the process, when the overall process is less so than the original.

        Another bugbear would be electric cars being labelled zero emissions, when the process that created the electricity is ignored (and is sometimes worse than the emissions from a petrol engine doing the same job).

      • Peter –
        Welcome to the wonderful world of “green.” No logic or common sense required. /sarc off

        Seriously – you sound like a voice that’s needed in the discussion. There are apparently an infinite number of these kinds of unrealistic processes that are touted as being “green” and/or “better for the environment” and/or, as with the electric car thing, “carbon-free” (or “zero emssions”).

        If ignorance could replace carbon, we’d have a thousand year free energy source.

      • I strongly suspect that the product came first, and the “green” marketing came later. Wood pellets have been around for at least 25 years, and were a byproduct of the lumber industry, just like particle board (they basically are particle board). That they’re being made specifically for purpose just shows how successful the marketing has been.

        They’re not terribly economical compared to the alternatives, but they have their niche uses. The “green” aspect is just spin. But then again, it usually is. I don’t know of very many “green” products that actually sell expressly for that reason. Even CF bulbs have other virtues.

      • I agree with you.

        I just dislike spin and b.s.

        The pellets have merit for burning in built up areas. They can be a good use for wood milling waste.

        I was more than a little appalled that the person doing the presentation was telling us that we should be channelling a good portion of N.Z’s export timber into wood chips to sell to the world to save it from Global warming.

        Thankfully, talking to others there, the idea took flight and soared like a dodo.

      • Perhaps the most troublesome part of this is what you said:

        I was more than a little appalled that the person doing the presentation was telling us that we should be channelling a good portion of N.Z’s export timber into wood chips to sell to the world to save it from Global warming.

        IOW, policy wonks know what better to do with trees than people in the business, and so wood chips should be channeled into this instead of letting the commodities find best use. As I said, originally, they were a waste product. You made them because there wasn’t anything else to do with the sawdust. Making chips implies that you couldn’t find a better use for the wood. Chips have other uses than making pellets. You can make paper, or waferboard. Directing them into heating fuel means taking them away from best use.

        Kind of like corn ethanol.

      • ChE,
        “IOW, policy wonks know what better to do with trees than people in the business, and so wood chips should be channeled into this instead of letting the commodities find best use”
        Yup.

        And I spot on with the corn ethanol example too.

        I like to refer to people that advocate that as “corn flakes.”
        :)

      • Thanks Jim.

        I guess, as a programmer, I have been burned by the law of unintended consequences enough (where a small, seemingly innocuous change can have catastrophic results), that I have become a fan of trying to look at the big picture.

        What worries me is how obvious the flaws in some arguments and proposals are. I don’t regard myself as being particularly intelligent or having what I would have hoped was the average portion of common sense, so I wonder how come these things don’t leap out as obvious to almost everyone.

    • My family and I were generally supporters of the “green” movement until we realized the false basis of Al Gore’s and the UN IPCC’s campaign to stop CO2-induced global warming.

      Capitalists that join the campaign are, in my opinion, short-sighted.

      Earth and the other planets are essentially part of the Sun, continuously bathed in waste products beyond the photon-emitting layer that we call the photosphere.

      These waste products from the solar core (H and He) continue outward in the heliosphere, engulf planet Earth, and continue beyond the furtherest planet.

      That is one of the main reasons I objected – even before climatologists were found to be manipulating data to support Al Gore’s and the UN IPCC’s campaign – to claims that changes in Earth’s climate are independent of Earth’s heat source – the Sun:

      http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

  2. The argument that companies should become more efficient in order to help the planet AND save money is silly.

    Companies driven by the profit motive will already make decisions that they believe will save them money. Companies don’t want to be inefficient, that costs money.

    The idea that capitalism is destroying the natural resources of the planet has no basis in fact. Especially if the argument goes like this:

    1. Humans are dependent on natural resources

    2. Capitalism is taking away natural resources

    3. Capitalism harms people by taking away the natural resources they are dependent upon

    First of all, what resources are diminished because of capitalism? Other than a single example of logging, there isn’t anything in the article to support that claim. And (globally) forests are just fine.

    Secondly, this ignores the fact that capitalism isn’t really “destroying” resources, it is distributing them. This means that the people who are depending on natural resources aren’t deprived of them, capitalism actually provides them those resources in a far more efficient way than any other system.

    If this “natural capitalism” is completely voluntary, then I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t support it. Some people and companies can choose to help the planet with their time and money, others can choose not to. However, these kinds of discussions inevitably lead to government intervention. And then all bets are off.

    • >First of all, what resources are diminished because of capitalism?

      Fish stocks are my favorite example. Supply & demand is just no substitute for regulation with the intent of conservation. With a highly-mobile industry operating in largely international waters, even if some realize that conservation serves their long-term economic interests, there is nothing stopping competitors from moving in to secure short-term gain.

      • Tragedy of the commons. Is this supposed to be a new insight?

      • Which is exactly why capitalism is needed to privatize fish stocks.

        Would provide stricture and incentives to increase stocks of owned fish.

        Bruce

      • Really as a canuck I have to say thank’s to all the peta and greenies from the uea and so would 120 mill seals that are eating all the undersized cod, Thanks to you tools our cod stokes will never come back yaaaa go seals boooo go away humans fools!!!

      • And you think command economies are going to treat resources better?

    • Capitalism has increased resources many fold by using our greatest resource, the human brain. The phenomenal growth of incomes globally over the last 200 years has been driven by innovation, including in systems such as capitalism as well as in product and process development. The early phases (starting in 18th C Britain) were kicked off by using higher-density energy sources to replace people and other animal power, and fossil fuel and other sources have been an essential part of development. But, increasingly, high mental content, low physical content products and services dominate economic growth, the non-physical resources developed through capitalism continue to grow, and are not depleted as other natural resources are (human ingenuity is surely a “natural resource,” probably the greatest after the Sun).

  3. Alexander Harvey

    Some of the recommendations that come out of this wave of thinking are commonsense changes in how things are designed, driven not so much by any radical changes in thought, but by changes in cost structures.

    Big savings can be found from designs that are conceived in an age where fuel is getting increasingly expensive as opposed to what was optimum when fuel was very cheap. Simply put the new designs are not necessarily better in an absolute way, simply they are more fitting to the current age than are the old legacy concepts that one can pull of the shelf. In a sense this is an overhaul that can be achieved by making sure that trainee engineers have up to date text books and teachers.

    Regarding Interface:

    Great ideas but this phrase:

    “In its new Shanghai carpet factory, Interface redesigned their process for pumping liquids by using fatter-than-usual pipes, …”

    must sound some alarm bells for why should bigger better pipes be migrating to Shanghai. BTW I watch TV coverage from Shanghai this morning and the smog was very evident, so bigger pipes head for the smog doesn’t seem such a wonderful investment in natural capital.

    Dressing known thinking up in the new clothes is a form of recycling I suppose. Here we have:

    “In nature, nothing goes to waste. Ensure that every output of your manufacturing processes is composted into useful natural resources or recycled for further production. You’ll preserve ecosystems while eliminating the cost of waste disposal.”

    This is I think ZERI style thinking being recycled but with a different gloss. ZERI (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives) faces up to the bit that is missing above: the waste that has negative value, recycling that is a cost on production which requires regulation to ensure it happens. I suspect that may be why it is missing above. Natural Capitialism may also inherit from ZERI an underlying truth. Zero waste has repercussions, it dictates end results and product mixes. In nature no species gets things all its own way, although previously we have been a bit of an exception. If we now wish to imitate nature then we should recognise that we may be lessening the exceptionality of mankind in the scheme of things and we may have narrow choices.

    Now I think that would be a good thing, but it be a better thing if people grasp consequences as a whole and not believe it is just the good bits that are naturally emphasised when people are trying to sell a new or recycled approach.

    Alex

  4. Whether you’re the head of a household or the CEO of a multinational corporation, embracing efficiency, innovation, renewables, carbon markets, and new technologies is the smartest decision you can make. It’s the most profitable, too. And, oh yes—you’ll help save the planet.

    Let’s see, so carbon markets are the smartest decision even when CO2 would be harmless trace gas not worth worrying about? Interesting thinking … but it reveals exactly the kind of mindset behind a book like this – it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, it doesn’t matter if the “solutions” benefit society or actually harm it, if a profit can be made on it, bring it on! This is sick Crony Capitalism, which when I come to think about it is perfectly captured with the synonymous title of the book Climate Capitalism as Climate became a shorthand for a scam recently.

    This is not a book about benefiting society, it’s a book about how to benefit your pocket on the backs of gullible people and put a pretty face on ripping them off with things that do not actually work in reality. Saving the planet, oh yeah … how many times have we heard that one?

    • I would not mind if they were just ripping people off — caveat emptor. None of this nonsense is feasible without feeding at the Government trough. If you take that away, all that is left is common sense improvements — advertising those I could get behind. And the list of top 10 has quite a few such porkers.

  5. WOW, I feel all warm and fuzzy. Bidness is still Bidness. If the cost/value is not there it don’t sell. Some of it is pretty funny though,


    So if someone comes up with “green” that is cheap and efficient, they have a winner.

  6. “In its new Shanghai carpet factory, Interface redesigned their process for pumping liquids by using fatter-than-usual pipes, which created less friction than thin pipes do. The move cut power requirements by 92%. The new system also cost less to build, involved no new technology, and worked better than traditional systems in all respects.”

    Not having read the book, I can only believe this is misleading. Without a requirement for significant pressure at the delivery point(s), using a higher pressure system doesn’t make sense from a strict investment cost point of view. Single stage low pressure pumps can be very efficient compared to higher pressure multistage pumps. They’re much cheaper as well. Probably the larger piping was more expensive, (although I’m betting they could move to a thinner wall) but if it wasn’t expensive pipe to begin with, the pump cost and reduced wiring cost could more than make this up. This is all speculation. But what I’m sure of is a good pumping / piping design is cheaper AND more efficient than a bad one. As in all commercial designs, you have to be able to buy the pump, and an “off the shelf” one is desirable. The piping is then chosen to work with the material / pump pressure / flow rates required. If someone out there hadn’t designed some pumps to be efficient at a good price, this would never have happened.

    In short, I think this was a conventional and obvious system cost optimization, not a “save the planet” decision.

    My favorite efficient pump is the Attwood 1250.

    • Alexander Harvey

      Harold:

      There is a presentation video on the net somewhere that deals with this in some detail and I think that the word “Attwood” rings a bell as it happens, the presentation is all about pumps and pipes, smart glass and new HVAC systems and a big dose of Natural Capitalist thinking.

      I think you are right in that they have seen a market opportunity to rip out a lot of old technology, replace it with best practice, and make money. The changes in cost structures due to new technology and more expensive fuels opens just these opportunities. The greening is a direct response to more expensive energy, in that it leads to lower energy intensities, which in a carbon fueled world leads to lower carbon intensities. However that does not necessarily imply lower carbon in absolute terms. Profits need to be spent or invested and there can be no guarantee that they won’t be spent on carbon intensive projects or pastimes.

      Alex

      • Alexander-

        I think a lot of things make sense in new installations – it’s much more difficult to justify it in existing installations except when something has to be repaired / replaced. A lot of central heat / AC installations were done with about 1/3 the optimum filter area – they were installed to manufacturers recommendations. Tripling the filter area when it’s first installed isn’t too costly, but retrofits can be a real problem. Swimming pool and spa filters are an even bigger problem, for those who have pools or spas. The pressure drop across the average pool filter pretty much requires a multistage pump operating at 40+ pounds, which uses a lot of energy. A filter with a low pressure drop would be very very handy. Get the power requirements down far enough, and it could all be run off of low voltage, which saves a ton of installation cost. People put together the systems as the components become available.

        I haven’t seen electricity rates jump in the areas I’ve lived in the past couple decades, so I think we’re seeing customer pull for more cost effective solutions and the manufacturers responding (somewhat slowly), not some big response to more expensive electricity.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Harold, OK I can hear you, and thanks.

        I think that much of this aspect of “Natural Capitalism” is known under a different name “Integrative Design” and presented by another Lovins, Amory.

        I think, (I wish my memory was better) one of the pumping projects was for natural gas in the Gulf States, and that one was based on energy costs, but that may have been perceived energy costs in a land where it was once considered as too plentiful to even calculate a cost.

        I am hugely sceptical of the examples provided to support these themes as they are little more than what happens when technology improves.

        Regarding retrofits, this is acknowledge by Amory (I think) as a big issue as current accounting practices with short horizons and some aspects of how the rental market works favour not going for what would be the best long term economic opportunity.

        Of course they have answers to this, (they seem to have answers for everything) and as I recall it is to “big bang” retrofits, make them so radical and all embracing that one can “burrow through” the cost barriers to a better world. Which is OK for organisations that see some benefit in, and have the money for, or can get it through credit for, adopting radical solutions.

        The connection to Nature and saving the planet is I think accepted by these people as being a co-benefit and not a driver. I think that is their way of being green without coming over as loony green.

        I should like to see a more energy efficient world. If this is a way forward then fine. But I do wonder whether it really gives the loony greens what they want and the loony carbon-heads what they want. Fortunately most people are neither and just want to be left with a life that makes some sort of sense, and they can afford.

        As it happens, if it works and makes money, that is a good thing in itself and if it just happens to do something to lower carbon intensity I should like that. But I do recoil from the idea that it is a substitute for other more draconian methods of saving the planet, it isn’t. It does not guarantee to reduce emission by one single less molecule of CO2, but it might just get a few more bucks for the carbon bang.

        Alex

      • I think the authors should consider the winner of the X prize. The team’s design studies concluded that electric or hybrid technologies wouldn’t perform well enough. They won with a 250 cc turbocharged gasoline engine – apparently the best choice for energy use.

    • My daughter designs and supervises installation of a vast array of piping for large-scale projects such as minerals-processing plants and mines. She’s looking at the optimal layout, materials, pipe design etc so as to most efficiently meet the needs of the plant. Fuzzy concepts such as “climate capitalism” will not help her to do this better.

      • There might be something for her to gain from a related concept – efficient usage of water:

        You might find this interview interesting (you can just put your fingers in your ears when they mention that it’s NPR, or when they talk about any of that gushy socialistic, “progressive,” neo-Nazi eco-zealism stuff):

        http://www.npr.org/2011/04/11/135241362/the-worldwide-thirst-for-clean-drinking-water

        But cities with water shortages aren’t the only places looking to conserve water, Fishman says. Both IBM and GE have recently reconfigured their facilities to reduce their water use and save money, he says.

        “Over 10 years, [IBM] reduced their water use by a third while they increased their chip production by a third,” he says. “So they increased the efficiency of their water productivity by about 80 percent.”

      • “Over 10 years, [IBM] reduced their water use by a third while they increased their chip production by a third,”

        Here, they’re talking about water used for the manufacturing process. This water is all put through a deionization plant before use, and the effluent stream is all contaminated with various chemicals. Reducing water use reduces costs of deionizing and costs of disposal of contaminated water.

      • Their process for coming up with how they drastically reduced their water usage is pretty interesting – as is the description of how Las Vegas and a city in Florida did the same.

  7. It’s hard to take someone seriously who describes Al Gore and Van Jones as capitalists. Greed does not make one a capitalist. The Soviet Union was run by committed communists who required their subjects to live in poverty while they enjoyed dachas, specials stores with luxury goods, and Swiss bank accounts. U.S. progressives and socialists in particular are famous for urging asceticism on their acolytes, while practicing unrepentant hedonist excess themselves.

    Al Gore got rich off of a CAGW propaganda film, and cashing in on the government mandated policies he was advocating for everyone else.

    And Van Jones? Well, here is how one fan of his says describes his motivation:

    “As environmentalists and progressives grope to rebuild their respective movements after years of disarray, Jones is often pointed to as an avatar of Environmentalism 3.0. Lefties have come to one conclusion since the debilitating defeats of 2000 and 2004: that they need to present a positive vision Americans can latch onto and vote for.

    He took an objective look at the movement’s effectiveness and decided that the changes he was seeking were actually getting farther away. Not only did the left need to be more unified, he decided, it might also benefit from a fundamental shift in tactics. ‘I realized that there are a lot of people who are capitalists — shudder, shudder — who are really committed to fairly significant change in the economy, and were having bigger impacts than me and a lot of my friends with our protest signs,’ he said.

    ‘I’ll work with anybody, I’ll fight anybody if it will push our issues forward. … I’m willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.’”

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/gyrobase/the-new-face-of-environmentalism/Content?oid=1079539&showFullText=true

    The article cited in the post above begins:

    “But you’d better understand this: the best route to rebuilding our economy, our cities, and our job markets, as well as assuring national security, is doing precisely what you would do if you were scared to death about climate change.”

    If you were scared to death about global warming, you would have the government mandate decarbonization, and raise taxes on fossil fuels to do so. This is just more of the same, dressing up progressive politics using the nomenclature of free market capitalists. I can see why Gore and Jones are seen as role models of this form of “capitalism.”

  8. “Between 1994 and 1998, Interface’s revenues rose by $200 million. Of those revenues, $67 million has been attributed to the company’s decreased waste.”

    There’s some accounting for you. The only way they could increase revenue by decreasing waste is by selling waste byproducts which they would have disposed of. If you’re throwing something out routinely, and some Joe down the street would like to by it routinely, it’s be a goofy business decision to keep throwing it out. That’s been going on since molasses.

  9. “the best route to rebuilding our economy, our cities, and our job markets, as well as assuring national security, is doing precisely what you would do if you were scared to death about climate change.”

    Being scared to death of climate change assures national security? I’m not buying it. If I were scared to death of climate change, I’d buy a place in Canada (I’m waiting for the study to come out indicating which parts will be best).

  10. Sounds like a variant of the ecological modernization thesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_modernization) – with some minor tweaks, capitalism can get us out of this mess, and make a profit doing it.
    I’m skeptical of this rosy picture. For each success story of corporate social responsibility there is a counter-example of greenwashing or exploiting regulatory loopholes and weaknesses (carbon markets can be a good example of this).
    Business models change with the times, and it is possible to point to individuals and businesses who are doing the right thing and making money doing it, but I think systemic factors will continue to drive behavior in general. Judging by the sorry state of the planet the authors present, perhaps they realize this, but by pointing to current success stories they also seem to suggest capitalism is more or less fine – we just need to be looking to different models for behavior.

  11. Sounds like some more academics who think that business people are stupid and need some academics to explain how their businesses should be run. Think McNamara and the whiz kids and how they “improved” Ford and the Defense Dept.

    Hubris makes people stupid.

    • I’m still waiting for their first book to happen:

      “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution“

      Near as I can tell, if you upset China, you won’t be able to make those batteries for your hybrid cars any more.

  12. John Carpenter

    I work in a field where the core business (service) we provide involves using a material that has been determined as a health and environmental hazard. The regulations created to limit and control the use of the material necessary for the process are stringent and many. As a result, the government has issued mandates that the use of this material is to be avoided, if not stopped entirely, for use on government hardware. In addition, large forward thinking corporations have made similar mandates to eliminate the use of the material. The elimination of this material has been easy on many applications, but for the type of application we specialize in, it has not. The material is inexpensive and the process is extremely robust. The benefits of the process are many and widely used in all areas of industry as the process was once the engineering choice of solving a common engineering problem. A single cheap, robust and useful process is being removed from the drawing board because it has gotten an environmental black eye despite the fact that those who use the material have never been safer when they abide by all the regulations for air emissions, OSHA PEL, and RCRA.

    We therefore have created alternatives to the former “bad” process attempting to replace it (we don’t want to be buggy whip makers). We have spent much money and time developing, optimizing and characterizing new processes to solve this common engineering problem. We are actively marketing our new processes and in the process we have found out a great deal about how “green” many businesses want to be. We have no problem selling the benefits of the new processes, but when ultimately it’s time for the rubber to hit the road and we talk price… well let’s say many are not ready to be that “green” yet. The new processes are just more expensive. The materials are more expensive… the process requires more attention to detail… and they are not as proven yet so require lengthy qualification… all of which drive cost.

    My experience has been so far: even if the new process is more efficient, is capable of solving the same engineering problem (and in some respects is far superior to the former), if it does not cost the same… it is a no go for 90% of those who look at it for that reason alone.

    Of course, the powers that be are looking to regulate the new processes as well… which further casts doubt on the ability to get them off the ground. Where does it end?

    The point of my example is that many people want to employ the image of being “green” by making clever advertising depicting their business as such… embracing new technologies and reducing their carbon footprint etc… but when it comes to really going green, the majority are only playing lip service due to the costs involved.

    Fortunately for our company, their are enough committed companies willing to be the “guinea pigs” for us to believe we will be successful in our endeavors… but it is a lot of hard hard work. Knowing this from my personal experience, I don’t think most people have a clue about the challenges we have to face in creating “sustainable” and “green” lifestyles. Eliminating cheap hazardous materials/processes and waste by use of more benign alternatives almost always costs more up front and it’s the up-front costs that most people can’t get around.

    You have to convince them that the long term benefits WILL outweigh the up-front costs… and that is a hard sell.

    • John –
      Long ago and far away in another universe, I learned about the “benefits” of “cheap green.” Two examples – one very small, one very big.

      I’m a long-distance hiker – several times I’ve spent 6 months in the mountains. One has to have boots to do that. At one time, boots would last for years, requiring only occasional resoling. Then came the “glued sole” boots. Which worked fairly well. Then came “green” – and environmentally friendly glues – and massive failures. Boots that formerly would last 1500 miles were now lucky to make 700 miles. At one time I found an “older” pair of boots still hanging around in a store in Montana – and they went for 1300 miles with me in spite of their age. Then I found another manufacturer (made in Romania) – comfortable, no blisters, no break-in, long lasting – wonderful. That love affair lasted 6 years – until they sarted manufacturing in the US and were required to use the environmentally friendly glues. In 2007, my last pair of those boots (made in the USA) lasted less than 300 miles before falling apart two weeks into the Canadian Rockies.

      Second story – NASA’s Shuttle program – the ablative tiles were a bitchkitty to install but once installed they DON’T come loose. Well, that was true until NASA switched to environmentally friendly glue. They’ve had tile problems ever since. Seems to me a few people died for that particular “green” decision.

      What’s the cost of “green”? It is not always just cash.

      • John Carpenter

        Jim,

        Good examples of “green” gone wrong. The unintended consequences of moving away from proven technologies are never known… but often very real.

      • Yes, but I’m curious why he doesn’t recognize that he has chosen to provide examples of bad green products, or good green products but unintended consequences, rather than all the abundant examples of bad non-green products, or non-green products, practices and marketing with unintended negative consequences. We can just as easily discuss corporate Nestle, free formula samples, aggressive sales marketing, third world, shift from breastfeeding, no clean water, no means to sterilize bottles – and many dead babies – as a bad pair of running shoes.

        Good business planning, good products, and the need to minimize unintended consequences, are not new issues for capitalism. Sustainability thinking is producing many superior products and is contributing to increasingly more ethical practices. One would have to not want to see this, to ignore it.

        I don’t think the shoes and Shuttle examples are an argument against business that knows how to produce a good product and is able to care about people and the environment, while doing that; or an argument against the reality of climate change, the participation of business roundtables in climate policy formation, and the many positive responses and solutions proposed by business. Business needs support, to move forward.

      • Martha- you obviously don’t hike.

        If you did, then you’d know that all you need to do when you want to buy a good pair of boots is figure out whether they used “environmentally friendly glue” in their manufacturing process. All boots with environmentally friendly glue are bad. All boots with toxic glue are good.

      • John Carpenter

        Martha,

        “Sustainability thinking is producing many superior products and is contributing to increasingly more ethical practices. One would have to not want to see this, to ignore it. ”

        My god…. I’m about to agree with you. Your salient observations are just incredible…

        I think Jim was offering real life examples of how good intentioned engineering changes can and do have real unintended consequences. This seems to be the part the CAGW beleivers tend to dismiss in their wild panic to quickly change our sources of energy.

        Just take Jim’s first example of his boots… are we making a more sustainable product by changing the glue? The boots need to be replaced more often than former design that lasted longer. Now we need to make more boots to do the job of what a few could do before. This will not drive sustainablity. If this little example is an indication of how unintended consequeses work with boots… imagine the problems we might expect with massive changes in power generation. But that type of complication seems to elude your thinking.

      • Jim was offering an incredibly selective example of how well-intentioned engineering can have unintended consequences.

        I say we should go back to lead paint. I mean lead paint lasted a really, really long time. Sure, it gives kids lead poisoning, but this namby-pamby, do-gooder environmentalism that has lead to these new paints means that we have to paint more often; parents should just feed their kids cake so they won’t get hungry enough to eat lead paint.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        Good one Joshua… You seem to want to argue about people taking sides on this issue… I don’t think Jim (or I) am taking a side here.

        There are, of course, many examples where KNOWN hazards have been removed from PUBLIC use to reduce or eliminate harmful side effects. I emphasize “known” because in your example there is no denying the developmental problems by Pb poisoning of children via paint chips is well known among health professionals. I emphasize “public” because there is no guarantee the public knows this (though you’d have to be pretty deep in a hole not to).

        The point you are missing is… by having to use more paint, more often because it is not as wear resistant… is that promoting sustainability? I have encountered many engineering changes in my work that remove one “environmentally unfriendly” process for a more “environmentally friendly” process… all well intentioned… that resulted in a shorter product life or a product that does not function as good as before. Despite the product going through rigorous qualification to ensure it would. Not all engineering changes work in the real world. Once implemented and the change results in having to make more of the product because it does not last as long or function as well… I say this is not creating a new sustainable version of the product.

        I am not saying that we should not be re-engineering products to make improvements towards “greener” solutions. What I’m saying is most of the time it doesn’t work on the first try… it may take many tries and there is no guarantee that you will ever find a better solution to the original problem. I don’t know why… but often the “nasty” stuff works the best, probably because it is simple and simple is cheap… We should expect as much and more with changing power generation sources. They are not going to spring out of no-where, fully capable of the demands they will encounter.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        One further point. Making an engineering change is often a give and take exercise as well. To “give” up using a non green process usually means we “take” away the advantages that process had…. ironically that sometimes means losing sustainabilty for reasons I stated above. We have to weigh the good with the bad and the decisions engineers make are not always very clear cut in terms of what direction to take. IMO, policymakers really don’t get this aspect of the problem. They only see it as a potential “green” manufacturing revolution, but it’s not that simple when you have to be the one that figures it out.

      • John –

        Yes, there’s always a matter of trade-offs.

        As a good “warmist/cultist/believer/extremist I have a beard. After years of diminishing performance of my previous beard-trimmer, I went out and bought a replacement. It looked the same, but as soon as I unpacked it, I noticed that it was lighter in weight (more plastic) and that a few of the attachments were different. I plugged it in and charged it up, looking forward to an easier time trimming by heard.

        I just finished using my new trimmer, and it is completely worthless. All kinds of engineering decisions were made, I’m sure in the name of cutting costs and increasing profits – and the end result is an unusable product where the earlier version did quite a nice job. I would be willing to bet that not one of those engineering decisions was based on an evnironmentalist rationale.

        So yes, there is always a matter of trade-offs. I agree with you 100%. The problem is when people selectively choose those engineering decisions that are made for environmental rationale as examples of the law of unintended consequences. The problem of poor engineering is a larger problem. I’m sure that we could come up with many, many examples of engineering done in the name of environmentalism or sustainability, or engineering decisions made for efficiency purposes which have beneficial environmental or sustainability benefits, that turned out to be excellent modifications in the long run. Similarly, I’m sure we could list many, many reengineering decisions made for other rationale that turn out to be disastrous.

        If the point is that environmental reengineering is not necessarily good, then the point is taken. All due diligence should be made to examine the long-term effects of reengineering based on that rationale. If the point is that environmental reengineering is more susceptible to unintended consequences than any other reengineering decisions made for cost reduction or other rationale, then I am very, very dubious.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        The point is: All engineering changes, regardless of whether they are made for environmental reasons or other, are subject to unintended consequences. I don’t mean to only target environmentally driven changes… but for this thread, environmentally driven changes are germane and so have been highlighted.

        Poorly designed products, such as your shaver example, don’t really fit here the same way. There are tons of cheap, poorly designed products designed and sold for maximum profitability and low reliability. Those who peddle such are hardly concerned with sustainability, we both recognize that.

        We are concerned with those who want to promote an image of being “green”… advertising as such and making conscience decisions to engineer their products to be “sustainable”. In the wake of doing so… though well intentioned… it doesn’t always work out that way in reality. Some products may be more environmentally benign, but they also may not work very well either.

        My wife is always buying “green” cleaning products… and inevitably complains that the windows, dishes, clothes, etc… just don’t get that clean when you use them. You never experienced this? Dishes have to be washed twice, windows require washing multiple times with twice as many recycled paper towels used… You get the idea now? Are the products actually promoting sustainability… or are the manufacturers just capitalizing on a good marketing trend? You make the call.

      • As a sidebar to this green glue thing, there’s nothing green about a pair of boots that last three months. The well-made boots that last three years are a lot less consumptive than the poorly-made boots that have to be replaced several times a year. Sometimes the pursuit of the meta-goal (green glue) results in the exact wrong overall result (three pairs of junk boots in the landfill every year).

      • John,

        …or are the manufacturers just capitalizing on a good marketing trend?

        Have you heard of the German term “Schlimmbesserung?” It means making something worse through an attempt to make things better. The word has been around for a while, and it applies to all kinds of marketing and reengineering decisions.

        I would guess that reengineering decisions that are made on the basis of cost reduction (leading to off-shoring of manufacturing for example) in aggregate have had far more meaningful negative unintended consequences w.r.t. sustainability and environmental impact than aggregated marketing or reengineering decisions made to capitalize on the profitability or environmental benefits of of “going green.”

        Seriously, I’m not trying to detract from the validity of examining the unintended consequences of environmentally-based marketing, production, or engineering decisions. For example, I’ve seen very interesting analysis that focuses the misconception that “locally-grown” necessarily correlates with a smaller carbon footprint. I fully agree that such analysis is valid and important. But selectively focusing on the unintended consequences of environmentally-based decision-making processes, as if they are some kind of different breed of decision-making, is ultimately misleading.

      • Martha,
        Why are you discussing two issues it is clear you know nothing about: Environment and business?

      • Yeah. Let’s talk about leathers.

      • Martha –
        Sustainability thinking is producing many superior products and is contributing to increasingly more ethical practices. One would have to not want to see this, to ignore it.

        I provided two examples – there are many. You’ve provided nothing but hot air to back up your contentions. Are you a politician?

        I’ve seen very few examples of superior “sustainable” products – and damn little of those increasingly more ethical practices. Quite the contrary , in fact. Why don’t you provide a list of at least 10 of each? I was going to ask for 100, but I seriously doubt there are that many of either.

      • “Why don’t you provide a list of at least 10 of each?”
        Jim, do you ever read the posts you say you are discussing? Let me help you: the books are about ethical practices and examples from business. Literacy: it can change your life. ;-)

        Or if you like to use Google, just point and click… try whatever you like… green chemistry… engineering… building… the workplace at Boeing… whatever. Sustainability. Proven excellence. It’s not hard to find unless you have zero interest in seeing it.

        Why does everyone else always have to do your work for you? I’m not your secretary, or your trick. Yeay.

      • Martha– “The workplace at Boeing”??? LOL That was really funny. Since I happen to be very familar with that one, what is it that you think is so green. We are just simple capitalist at Boeing

      • Uh, Martha? Are you there?

        I asked for 10 specific examples of what you think are superior “sustainable” products and 10 of those increasingly more ethical practices Where are they? Without those there’s nothing to talk about and you’re just blowin’ smoke again.

        I’m not your secretary, or your trick.

        What makes you think I’d have you? Oh, yeah – you’re the one with a leather fetish, aren’t you. Never did have any use for that.

        As you said – YEAY.

      • Martha makes a claim.
        Jim asks for references.
        Martha tells Jim to find them himself.

        Eh?

      • Not exactly.
        Jim asked for a list , not my list. I suggested where he could get one. But if he wants to now change or add to his meaning, and he wants my list, I’ve indicated I would have no difficulty easily compiling one from available information – and that he is responsible for gathering his own information and that it is not hard to do and that I won’t do it for him. I really can’t make that any clearer.

        Maybe while you are assisting Jim, you can at the same time advise Robe that Boeing, where he says he works, won this year’s EPA award, and why. Apparently he is unaware.

        Have a good day — all three of you.

      • Jim,
        Any links on the NASA point?

      • I’d be interested in a link to a primary mission investigative document, too. Other than from e.g. FreeRepublic, I don’t think I’ve seen this claim about Columbia. I do recall seeing a link at one time to a mission archive article discussing the move to more environmentally responsible materials and a problem with a new sealant on a past flight (which did not compromise safety).

        But let’s be realistic. Flights in space have many safety issues; and there are other economic arguments to be made against continued space missions, at this time.

      • hunter –
        That decision was made at least 12 years ago. That was 2 jobs, 15,000 hiking miles, 5 years of retirement and 3 computers ago. The memo could be buried in a box in the garage, but likely not since Shuttle mechanical operations was not my concern. I spent a lot of years avoiding that mess and doing things that were actually useful. It was certainly common knowledge to most of us in the business, though.

        I see below that Martha thinks the end of the Shuttle missions isn’t a bad thing. It’s really strange for me to be agreeing with her about that – although for entirely different reasons.

      • You can’t find it in your garage, the information was provided to you and all the other support engineers in a memo, but isn’t in an investigative report that can be accessed on the NASA mission archive site, or anywhere else.

        Is that right?

        The range and extremely tragic combination of technical and critical issues in relation to the tiles, including human error (such as rushed support staff making mistakes like spitting in glue in misguided attempts to speed curing) has been publicly documented and discussed by experts. I doubt ‘the truth’ is what is reported on conspiracy sites, or by you.

        Do you still work at NASA, Jim?

      • I didn’t say anything of the sort, Martha. Why don’t you provide some links for your allegations?

      • Poor Jim. The allegation (and problem) is clearly all yours.

        “Second story – NASA’s Shuttle program – the ablative tiles were a bitchkitty to install but once installed they DON’T come loose. Well, that was true until NASA switched to environmentally friendly glue. They’ve had tile problems ever since. Seems to me a few people died for that particular “green” decision” Jim Owen

        “Jim, Any links on the NASA point?” hunter

        “The memo could be buried in a box in the garage, but likely not since Shuttle mechanical operations was not my concern.” Jim Owen

        “It was certainly common knowledge to most of us in the business, though.” Jim Owen

        So I gather you no longer work at NASA. I’m sure they’re thrilled that an ex support engineer is running around the internet making less than subtle allegations/innuendo that NASA directly or indirectly caused the death of its elite mission staff by choosing to use environmentally friendly glue, Jim.

        Feel free to explain to others, but I have zero interest in whatever else you have to say about this.

      • Martha –
        I have zero interest in whatever else you have to say about this.

        My interest in anything you have to say on any subject has never managed to rise to the level of zero.

      • “conspiracy sites”

        Those’ll be the ones that say government scientists aren’t pursuing their empoyer’s interests – hiding data, deleting emails etc – they’re risking their careers by secretly being objective and honest.

    • Sounds similar to eliminating lead from electronics. Soldering for printed circuit boards can be done without lead, but packaging ICs without lead has some well known reliability down sides. I don’t know if the reliability has finally been brought up to the level of the old technology using lead or not, but it cost a lot of R&D money to even come up with something useable.

      This is a case where nobody would have made the change, since it’s more costly to produce, and reliability was going to suffer. Same thing with people using beryllium copper alloys for certain applications. The alternatives don’t work as well in some applications, and don’t work at all in others.

      • And there are some applications for which fully adequate substitutes for asbestos haven’t been found. Hell, the “green” refrigerants use significantly more energy than the old CFCs. We could compile a long list of “green” substitutes that aren’t as good as the bad old stuff. It’s usually a mixed bag – for example, ethanol in gasoline is harder on the engine, and doesn’t get as good fuel economy, but in addition to cleaner combustion, it keeps the fuel system cleaner and drier, and it enhances octane.

        It’s an article of faith that newer “green” substitutes are superior in all ways (including cost), and there’s no rational basis for that belief. It’s usually false. You have choices. The choices have upsides and downsides.

  13. This is an Orwellian abuse of the language. The false premises and assertions in this emphasizes the “moron” in oxymoron.

    • I agree, Hunter, this sounds Orwellian.

      Some capitalists seem to be as happy trying to make a profit off misleading scientific propaganda as they are off misleading advertisements.

      In my opinion they are as short-sighted as the leftists politicians that peddled AGW as a scientific fact.

      The sacredness of truth is basic to religion and to science.

      “Truth is victorious, never untruth.”
      Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6; Qur’an 17.85

      Mahatma Gandhi is reported to have said,
      “Truth is God. God alone is and nothing else exists.”

  14. randomengineer

    This the sort of thing that only technology creationists could believe. At least biblical creationists are respectable and honourable — they have an honest belief, not one of an admixture of prideful ignorance and utter vapidity. Technology creationists think that physics will change next week, once we get enough people to sign on to the need for it.

    It’s never the technologists and engineers (i.e. those who understand technology and those in charge of creating the *actual* future) who spout this silliness. Rather, it’s those who have the same understanding of technology as does a squirrel watching a shuttle launch.

    e.g. “Renewables” will be a force if and when engineers figure out how to do this. Not because actors and self important movie directors wish it to be so, not because it’s endorsed by neurally challenged politicians, and certainly not due to willpower nor wanting it really really bad. Windmills are utter junk because they don’ t meet demand and engineers haven’t figured out how to store the power.

    Technology creationists, however, reckon the real answer is that the engineers simply haven’t twigged on how badly the good guys really really want the problem solved.

    Oh, hell. Why didn’t they tell us earlier?

    [*POOF*]

    “Your windmill, sir. Creates 1.21 Gigawatts even when the wind doesn’t blow as much as you do.”

    • re,
      You hit the nail on the head.
      We live in an age folly and hubris, where the self-declared elites have apparently decided that if they find the right way to ask the engineers to do something it will be done. It is a form of magical thinking.
      The dangerous implication of your point is that these elites are getting a bit peevish and are running out of ways to ask with civility for their magic.
      They have tried telling scary stories to motivate the magic. They have tried asking nicely for the magic. They have tried silencing those distracting denialists. They have tried throwing money at those who have falsely claimed to have the magic. Those who have promoted the magic have gotten rich, however, and that is the basis of this thread.
      What happens when magic believers at he highest levels of leadership finally figure out there is no magic coming?
      Will they go after those who falsely promised the magic? Or falsely sold the need for magic?
      Or will they go after those who they will still believe could have delivered the magic if only they truly wanted to?
      Certainly the chances of these people figuring out what to do without magic are slim. Because most of all these believers in magic do not have the wisdom to realize that the need for the magic was a false belief in the first place.

      • John Carpenter

        Hunter,

        One step further… even if you manage to muster the magic to create a technology replacement with the proper capabilities… inevitably the greens will find a fatal flaw with it that will require strict regulation of some sort… which makes me wonder what the “green” cultures’ ultimate motivation for seeking improvements really is.

      • randomengineer

        Greens, fundamentally, are Luddites. They all pride themselves on their deep understanding of technology, such as being able to use a computer or an iPad.

        The thinking process is curious — “hey, I’m able to follow the directions on the shampoo bottle, and I can read those words describing the contents, therefore I’m at the same level of technological expertise as the chemical engineers who formulated the shampoo.”

        Similarly, being able to operate a word processor is indicative of the ability to follow the directions and NOTHING more. Typing a recipe in Word for Windoze doesn’t indicate a deep understanding of how computers work. But don’t tell them this. You’ll get an earful.

        Extrapolate the ability to follow directions and now apply this to the green arguments re nuclear power or pesticides. Voila.

      • John,
        From the extremists themselves, such as Hansen or the infamous “Time’s Up!” book, it is clear that for many a deep misanthropic urge exists.
        For others it is just the feeling of power from being part of a group perceived as enlightened, and with misuse of faith negates the need to think critically, or even think much at all.

    • Actually, the people you refer to as “technology creationists” are even worse. They’re jingoists. I’ve seen example after example in the blog of people insisting that not only does no technology ever gets created without the backing of government, but that no technology ever gets created without the backing of the USgovernment. Amazing examples include insistence that the only reason why the wired telephone was ever invented was US government support for Ma Bell, and cell phones could have never happened with out that.

      This breathtaking jingoism insults the entire rest of the world in its bullheaded insistence all technology emanates from the US government.

      That’s a good term, “technology creationists”. They’re just like religious creationists, with a complete disbelief in self-organizing systems, and a story of a chosen people, and the whole nine yards.

  15. You cannot artificially create a product (carbon market) and think that it will lead you to prosperity. On the contrary, any additional price on fossil fuel will lead billions of the worlds poor to misery. It is unbelievable for some to argue that they are thinking of the unborn when the living poor already lives in misery for lack of cheap energy. With out artificially increasing the price of fossil fuels, cannot we agree to increase energy from other sources? My belief is the motivation is a money grab and not changing our source of energy. This cursed money!

  16. It seems to me that there are really three important points here:
    1) There are lots of process improvements that both reduce material throughput and improve profitability by reducing costs.
    2) A mindset oriented towards this kind of process improvement will likely find more of them than a “business as usual” approach to revenue growth.
    BUT:
    3) Unless there is actually a price (or a regulatory limit) on the production of wastes, there is no grounds for expecting a significant reduction in any particular waste product. It may happen, but if it does it will be by chance.

    Obviously its more complicated than this – it is obviously possible to generate increased profits with more expensive products, because pretty much every product in the real world beyond basic commodities is subject to various forms of differentiation (and there are even multiple grades of crude oil and coal) and plainly consumers will pay for “green” products.

    But the crucial point for climate change is that in the medium term, given the supply of still relatively inexpensive fossil fuels, process improvements driven by cost-savings are unlikely to counteract the growing demand for energy. If you want to reduce CO2 emissions substantially, you have to price or regulate them.

    I will be interested to see the book…

    • Paul Baer

      “Business as usual” for well-managed companies today includes investing in “process improvements that both reduce material throughput and improve profitability by reducing costs”.

      This does not require a government mandated change of “mindset”.

      For this reason GDP has increased more rapidly than energy consumption historically and the developed economies (EU, Japan, USA, etc.) have a higher prosperity (GDP) to carbon footprint (CO2) ratio today than the developing nations (China, Brazil, India, etc.).

      As fossil fuel reserves dwindle, new discoveries are increasingly expensive to recover and costs become increasingly expensive, this trend will continue all by itself.

      The “growing demand for energy” (as you put it) will continue, just as the growing demand for prosperity will (particularly in the developing and underdeveloped world). The two go hand in hand.

      But the good news is that prosperity (as measured by real GDP) grows at a faster rate than energy consumption.

      Max

      Max

      • First, unless I missed something, the authors are NOT calling for a “government mandated change of mindset.”

        And yes, GDP grows faster than energy use, and (in some cases) energy use grows faster than carbon emissions. And yes, the US has lower energy and carbon intensity than China, and the EU lower than the US.

        But my point three remains: unless you deliberately limit an input or output stream, an increase in the efficiency of its use can’t be assumed to lead to a decrease in absolute use. Which wouldn’t matter, unless the flow or accumulation of the waste product is causing harm you wish to reduce.

        I – like many but not all on this list – believe that increasing CO2 concentrations is a problem. Notwithstanding the book’s author’s strange inclusion of “carbon markets” in “embracing efficiency, innovation, renewables, carbon markets, and new technologies,” in general all the good green stuff that is also profitable won’t reduce global CO2 emissions, certainly not as quickly as I think desirable.

  17. When they start out using the word “capitalist” incorrectly, I don’t know if there’s much hope for the rest being right.

    A capitalist is an investor/lender, not a businessperson. If a businessperson is smart, he/she may end up owning a small amount of the company if it’s successful.

    And if this is all true, what’s the point of writing a book about what’s going to happen of its own, anyway?

    • “And if this is all true, what’s the point of writing a book about what’s going to happen of its own, anyway?”

      Maybe they’re setting themselves up as high level consultants? Done all the time – talk to companies, write a book or two, consult, write more books, make $$$

  18. You can capture some of that $33 trillion and help restore the planet by practicing natural capitalism—conducting business profitably while also protecting natural resources. Some strategies suggested by Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawken: Adopt technologies that extend natural resources’ usefulness. Design production systems that eliminate costly waste. And reinvest in nature’s capital; for instance, by planting trees to offset power-plant carbon emissions.

    Why am I expecting the next words to be something like “so call 1-888-999-1234″, operators are standing by”?

  19. They are obviously hoping to sell this book to naive environmentalists because it appeals their sense of holistic solutions. Doing the right thing makes everything else come into balance. The fact there is some overlap with the truth just makes the book more misleading and predatory.

  20. Bruce Cunningham

    Many posters have already made many of the points I would make about the book excerpt presented. For example, why a company re-designing a piping system and saving energy costs is an example green thinking versus plain old common sense, I don’t know. As to why it would indicate a need to make electricity from wind power floors me. I’ll not get long winded about such. What is now and has been for years, and will be for years to come, a major fallacy of the green energy movement, is the blending together of the two major energy needs of modern society. That is 1) the electric grid, and 2) motor fuels. Osama Bin Laden hates a solar powered car, but he could care less about electricity from coal or any of our other sources. Even the John Muir Trust in Scotland has realized this fact with their report last week. The reason green power solutions continue to pursue wind power and such, I am afraid, has much, much more nefarious reasons than savings the planet. I have much more important things to do than waste time reading all of the book based on what I have read so far.

    • John Carpenter

      Bruce,

      Exactly…why else do you think GE backs the AGW movement so strongly? Because it’s good for the planet? You know the answer.

  21. That was some article you linked to there, Judith:

    A few other choice articles by Richard Pollock:

    The Ever-Predictable March of the Gun Grabbers

    Are Eric Holder’s Days Numbered?

    Naïve Napolitano: DHS Underestimates Muslim Resistance to Countering Domestic Terrorism

    Napolitano Meets with Muslim Brotherhood Leaders

    Oh, and even the Free Republic is laughing at Richard Pollock:

    A mistaken premise started by PajamasMedia’s Richard Pollock is circulating on some conservative blogs. Pollock postulates that the announcement, after seven straight quarters of same store sales declines (not the same as “losses,” as Pollock reports), means that Walmart has repudiated its efforts to “go green” and is “ending its era of high-end organic foods,” in which they attempted to appeal to wealthier shoppers. In a misrepresentation of a Wall Street Journal article, Pollock asserts that the company has realized a “green” strategy failed, when in fact all Walmart has said is that it made mistakes in removing popular items from its stores, and that it got too promotion-oriented in its pricing strategies.

    Reviews of news articles and press releases show there is no evidence that political correctness, “Green” products, organics or Dach are leaving Walmart any time soon. All the company said in its announcement is that it will increase price checks with competitors, seek even greater efficiencies in its supply chain, simplify its ad match policy, and broaden its product lines.

    Meanwhile Walmart still trumpets its “sustainability” initiatives, such as its announcement last month that it would eliminate 80 percent of its waste in California that would otherwise go to landfills (why not the rest of the country?). At a “Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting” on March 17, the company said it would “lay the foundation for the Next Generation Walmart, (as) sustainability will continue to be embedded into our culture.” And this week the company hosted its 6th Annual “Sustainable Packaging Exposition,” which was to “connect buyers, product suppliers, and packaging suppliers, to continue Walmart Stores Inc.’s progress towards more sustainable packaging.”

    Am I expecting too much of you in thinking that you’d be a bit more careful than to link to such garbage? Is your goal simply to throw out the red meat to libertarian extremists?

    • Joshua,
      What article? I used the Find function on my browser and you are the first person to mention Pollock on this page. Did you post this on the wrong thread?

      • Ron – the Pajamas Media article Judith links to at the end of her post where she mentions Wal-Mart. Go to the link, it’s worth a good laugh.

    • John Carpenter

      Joshua,

      Easy does it… here try the NPR take on the situation… maybe it will calm you down some.

      http://www.npr.org/2011/04/12/135339893/wal-mart-returns-to-its-low-price-roots

      • John – you’ll notice that the NPR commentary mentions nothing about organic foods.

        I don’t have a subscription to the WSJ article that Pollock hacked, but here’s the first sentence:

        Starting in May, Wal-Mart shoppers in the U.S. will see signs in stores heralding the return of fishing tackle, bolts of fabric and other “heritage” merchandise that Wal-Mart reduced or cut out altogether as it attempted to spruce up its stores

        So – Pollock goes from Wal-Mart deciding to focus fishing tackle to the First Lady should be “on notice” for recommending that people plant gardens and eat vegetables.

        This kind of polemic undermines the credibility of folks who are arguing from a reasonably skeptical viewpoint.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        “you’ll notice that the NPR commentary mentions nothing about organic foods.”

        Exactly Joshua… I did listen to the story and that’s why I posted it for you… to calm you down a bit…. some news organizations did present this story in another way…. we all make our own decisions about what we read and hear during the course of the day. As grown ups… we are able to decide whether we are reading or hearing spin all on our own.

      • John -

        The point is that Pollock hacked the WSJ article – which spoke about Wal-Mart walking back their decision to upscale their brand (not surprising given that we’ve been in a recession) to emulate places like Target.

        From that, Pollock went on to a polemic that extended to attacking the First Lady for advocating that people plant gardens and eat vegetables, and Judith linked it as if it were a serious analysis.

        Of course we’re all capable of dealing with spin as we see fit – but when Judith links to such spinning garbage as if it were a serious analysis of green marketing, she undermines her credibility, IMO.

  22. I like the premise of the book. I throughly believe that any green technology will have to be economically sound before it is adopted by a capatalistic society. However, my praise ends there.

    Having read the paper in the link you provided I have to agree with most other comments that these authors don’t know a beetle from a buffalo. Their paper provided no evidence that the ideas they suggested would work and smelled strongly of wishful thinking. Efficientcy has a cap; there is only so much to gain by being efficient and cutting waste before it starts to cost you money. Now I’m not naive enough to suggest that most business have done the calculations to figure out how efficient to make their processes to maximize process (although probably a good deal of the larger companies have), however it is unlikely that they are that far from the mark. It is more likely this book was meant to be sold to those who want to believe what they’re saying, then to those who want to use the book to cut waste.

    • “I throughly believe that any green technology will have to be economically sound before it is adopted by a capatalistic society.”

      Yes, governments such as Australia’s going down expensive green routes are definitely anti-capitalist. Much of the “green” push seems to be better described as an anti-capitalist push, and there are many old school lefties embedded in the Green and AGW camps.

  23. Brandon Shollenberger

    Did you even read that article? It doesn’t say she should “be on notice,” it says it should put “Michelle Obama on notice.” It’s a minor error, but if you’re going to snidely imply someone hasn’t read an article, you shouldn’t misquote the article.

    Anyway, what is your point? You don’t like Richard Pollock. So what? How does the fact “Free Republic is laughing” at him have anything to do with the article she linked to? Better yet, how is that article “garbage”? Just what is bad about it saying Michelle Obama should be “on notice”?

    In short, what is wrong with that article? For all the snide text you typed up, you haven’t pointed out a single problem with that article.

  24. Brandon Shollenberger

    I made a response, but it seems to have been caught in the spam filter. The short version of it is this:

    “Joshua, for all your snideness, you haven’t pointed out a single problem with that article.”

    • “Joshua, for all your snideness, you haven’t pointed out a single problem with that article.”

      For some reason, Brandon – if you type out the First Lady’s name, your post won’t go through the filter. It took me about an hour to figure that out. I don’t know why your post with her name went through eventually.

      I posted above in answer you question. Essentially, I repeated points from the first article but made them more explicit. If you still think that article is link-worthy, more power to you, my man.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Joshua, you have an annoying habit of snideness, and it seems to be getting in the way of whatever points you are trying to make. Your discussion of the article in question offers nothing for anyone to understand why the article is supposedly bad. You say Pollock “hacked” an article, but you haven’t even read the article. You offer one sentence which doesn’t support or contradict anything Pollock said, and that’s the entire basis for your criticism.

        You claim Pollock is “motivated by political expediency” for dismissing all the other elements of the First Lady’s plan. Only, he never did so. Pollock never said her plan was bad or worthless or anything else. You’ve basically just made that up.

        You also dismiss an entire premise of Pollock’s by saying it is “absurd.” You don’t offer any real explanation as to why it is absurd. The most I got out of your posts is “One guy couldn’t have done it on his own,” something which is obvious nonsense.

        You even claim Pollock attacked the First Lady when he did no such thing.

        In short, you made a bunch of vague statements about how much the article sucks without offering any real explanation, and you did so while saying a bunch of untrue things about the article. Maybe the article is wrong, and maybe it even sucks, but your posts haven’t done a single thing to demonstrate such. Your petty snideness does nothing to make your point, and quite frankly, that’s all you’ve offered.

  25. Climate is now cooling. The failure of the models to predict it is because they use faulty optical physics. The ‘two-stream approximations’ [Sagan, Chandrasekar] assume one optical process, biased diffuse scattering, when there’s a second.

    By 2003, experimentalists knew this – read the original papers where directed albedo is discussed – diffuse albedo is Lambertian. So, the monotonic albedo-optical depth function predicting aerosol pollution increases albedo only works for thin clouds.

    You can prove it by looking at clouds about to rain – as droplets coarsen, they get darker underneath/higher albedo; glider pilots know the directed albedo can temporarily blind. Lidar picks this up and at least one group is modelling the process.

    This threatened the high feedback hypothesis. In 2004, NASA claimed ‘increased surface reflection from more water surface area in clouds with smaller droplets’: http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sgg/singh/winners4.html

    There’s no such physics. As Twomey had warned you cannot extrapolate Mie analysis to thicker clouds, I don’t think this was a mistake.

    So, ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling in Figure 2.4 of AR4, 44% of median net AGW, was probably known to be imaginary before AR4 was published. Correct the physics using Mie analysis, and it’s the opposite sign. The maths is tough, hence the ‘two-stream approximations’, but the rain cloud test proves the effect can be very potent

    This explains fast heating at the end of an ice age far better than CO2-GW with its c. 800 year delay. As UV penetrates newly ice free, nutrient-rich seas, phytoplankton blooms produce dimethyl sulphide, a potent aerosol nucleant for oceanic clouds thus strong positive feedback.

    It may also explain fast ocean heat content rise from the mid 1980s: the burst of Asian aerosols from globalisation reduced low level tropical cloud albedo but as albedo asymptoted to c. 0.5, the effect switched off.

    Is it just coincidence that Trenberth’s ‘0.7W/m^2 missing heat’ in the Climategate e-mails is exactly the same as the imaginary ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling in AR4? Did NASA set out in 2004 to deceive the rest of climate science by using its position of scientific authority to claim knowingly fake physics?

    • Climate is now cooling. [since 2002]

      Globe: http://bit.ly/fWxIYn

      Sea: http://bit.ly/fK5ivM

      • High feedback CO2-AGW was always the result of mistaken optical physics Sagan inherited from Van de Hulst, which remained undetected for 30 years because the albedo-’optical depth’ curve fortuitously fits real data.

        When used to predict albedo of polluted thicker clouds, the result goes the wrong way. Exaggerated global dimming begat high feedback. Carbon traders and Marxist demagogues took over. Fear of CAGW became the state religion. For 20 years, our children have been brainwashed. When by 2003, the cloud part of global dimming was found not to exist and there’s a second optical process, the choice was backtrack or bluff.

        ClimateGate revealed endemic fraud. The fake ‘surface reflection’ physics created by NASA in 2004 fooled the rest of climate science into believing imaginary ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling, keeping high feedback alive. Fix the physics, pollution makes thicker clouds heat the Earth, net CO2-AGW could be very low indeed so no problem but AR4 has fooled millions.

        The comparisons between this and phlogiston are obvious. Like CAGW, phlogiston, a fifth Greek ‘humour’, appealed to non-scientific intellectuals. It was destroyed by Antoine Lavoisier, who created modern chemistry but was guillotined in 1794. Scientists in Australia, grouped to counter fake CAGW science, call themselves the Lavoisier Society.

        Lawyers working for banks and reinsurance companies are reacting. One way is to sue individuals like Tim Ball. Another is complaints to regulatory bodies like the British Press Complaints Commission. A third is set up a special UN Court to try prominent ‘sceptics’ for fictitious crimes against humanity justified by ‘settled science’. Germany is heading very quickly to green Nazism [the greens started under Hitler]. These are dangerous times.

      • A third is set up a special UN Court to try prominent ‘sceptics’ for fictitious crimes against humanity justified by ‘settled science’. Germany is heading very quickly to green Nazism [the greens started under Hitler]. These are dangerous times.

        Oh, my sides.

        Looks like Judith throwing out the red meat is having quite an effect. The spittle-flecked screen quotient is high on this post..

      • This was put forward by a lawyer working for a subsidiary of the Club of Rome in an article in the UK’s left-wing ‘Guardian’ newspaper last year. An Australian lawyer last year proposed a law to allow people paid to disagree in public with IPCC’s ‘science’ to be tried in a Civil Court for false trading.

        The climate change religion using Marxists and Trotskyites as shock troops but in reality driven by banks and reinsurers, has been used to indoctrinate people for 20 years. It is leading to fascism.

        Remember the lesson of history; at the Wannsee Conference, 20th Jan. 1942, the lawyers found a way for the State to breach rights under German Statute Law of Jews thus making the Final Solution possible. In Germany, a law prohibiting free discussion of climate science is being pursued. The chief of their version of GISS, the Potsdam Institute, has proposed, using fictitious climate change as justification, World government by an elite.

      • Forgot to add that another move being pursued by German Greens is to set up an internet firewall so information from banned ‘deniers’ and ‘sceptics’ can be stopped from being viewed from within Germany.

        We are dealing with lunatics inspired by dreams of apocalyptic CAGW.

        You lot have got Hansen who appears to be acting out a dream role, you know, the one where he was right and everyone else was wrong and the data didn’t have to be fiddled nor fake science invented.

      • Climate Etc., has gone full-scale Godwin.

      • But can you refute any of the facts?

      • He’s talking about real, present-day Germany. Or are you saying that Germans will always be Nazis?

  26. It is all about trust…

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/15/the-un-disappears-50-million-climate-refugees-then-botches-the-disappearing-attempt/#comment-643002

    Look what happened to the 50 million climate refugess by 2010 predictions. A map showing places effected that would be depopulating,etc.. recent population figures shows the populations have increased..

    The UN webpage that made these claims, disapears..

    We now have a new claim 50 million climate refugees by 2020…

    Why should I trust anything the UN,UNEP says when they behave like this (pretending the past has not happened, rewriting history to cover up failed predictions)

  27. The main message of this book appears to be the one that Montgomery spent most of his testimonies to shoot down.

    There will be some shortage of raw materials in the future and that is going to drive some commodity prices up. There is a high likelihood that CO2 emissions will get a significant price in the coming decades even in countries not presently influenced by the Kyoto Protocol. It’s prudent for businesses to take these likely developments into account. They are going to offer some new business opportunities and some people will get rich from those opportunities.

    That far I agree with what I imagine the book to tell, but all that has already been understood by very many businesses. There is a wide-ranging push to take advantage of this, but most fail to find the right niche. There are going to be a few great successes – and a large number of bankrupts. The ideological thinking that you are going to succeed when you believe our view of the future just doesn’t hold up in real life.

    • Yet another thread where a “Proximity to Pekka” filter would save us all a good deal of time and effort in reading the comments.

      Though Paul Baer is moving up quickly the list of commenters who most improve the level of insight, relevancy, and intelligent discussion.

      Would that filters worked that way, or WordPress could sort comments by such standards rather than chronology.

      Recognizing that I’d become a cellar-dweller by such a scheme, just above the ad homs and promoters of personal agendas.

      Any book with capital in the title is bound to contain a lot of error; which is all well and good.

      Like capitalism itself, there are going to be a huge proportion of bad ideas ventured and rejected in such books.

      The same is true of science.

      There are also more than a few elements of real value in the book, if one rearranges them advantageously.

      “Believe in climate change. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter.

      But you’d better understand this: the best route to rebuilding our economy, our cities, and our job markets, as well as assuring national security, is doing precisely what you would do if you were scared to death about climate change. “

      Becomes:

      Believe in climate change, rebuilding cities and assuring national security. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter.

      But you’d better understand this: the best route to rebuilding our economy and our job markets is largely doing precisely what you would do if you were scared to death about climate change.

      Stop subsidizing fossil industry.

      Subsidize minimally and strategically only the infant industries that will take root and grow, and only where your population accepts socialism.

      Price CO2E emissions and return the revenue directly to your citizens per capita as efficiently and directly as administratively possible. If this means a carbon tax, so be it.

      Once you have priced CO2E emissions and cut out subsidies, only then should you tax CO2E as an ordinary good.

      Apply your VAT to that CO2E price just like any other goods have VAT on them only after you treat CO2E like a capitalist.

      Apply your Hartwell-style hypothecated tax to fossil and CO2E goods only after you treat CO2E like a capitalist, if you choose to endorse and support human dignity in the face of inevitable hardships caused by CO2E.

      Apply your Pigouvian tax to fossil and CO2E both only after you treat CO2E like a capitalist, if you choose to use tax as a policy instrument to affect behavior.

      Apply your Cap & Trade between markets only after you have established a CO2E trading price through the CO2E market instrument of determining the point of diminishing returns to CO2E shareholders (everyone who draws breath), just like any goods are priced in the market. Total units sold times price=Total revenues. When the drop in total units sold is not outbalanced by total price, and total revenues goes down, that is the price as determined by the law of suppy and demand in the capitalist fair market.

      Vote politicians out of office who steal your money by subsidizing rich industries or give away your shared common resources in ways that fail in their trusted duty to protect, but instead waste, squander and extinguish the resource.

      Where private protection of private interests is more effective at maintaining the public interest, then it’s insane to continue to elect ineffective and corruptible sentries as custodians who sleep when they ought be alert, and who sell off our treasure to their friends for their profit.

  28. Judith, I hope you will forgive me for this off topic URL. But this is so hilarious, it is just too good to miss. Jim

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/15/the-un-disappears-50-million-climate-refugees-then-botches-the-disappearing-attempt/#more-38006

  29. For sure te guys who wrote this book never run a business or know to run one, which depends purely upon their skill, commonsense and sound, practical decision making. This one sentence says it all

    ” Whether you’re the head of a household or the CEO of a multinational corporation, embracing efficiency, innovation, renewables, carbon markets, and new technologies is the smartest decision you can make.”

    Efficiency, innnovation, renewables and new technologies are what entrepreuners and businessmen do and they don’t need a book to tell them that. ” Carbon Markets ” in the joker in the whole pack and another example of someone trying to quietly sneak in the carbon motive through the back door into any issue. That is a no-no. We don’t need carbon markets. It is a rip off and scam and has failed miserably, as it should and is wont to. We don’t need to have a single word or thought about ” man made CO2 or CO2 or Carbon ” to run a business successfully. That hocus pocus belongs to the trash can. So does this book.

  30. Dr C
    Have you read Naomi Klein’s Disaster Capitalism?

    The opening paragraph about ‘rebuilding the economy’ sounds like disaster capitalism, really. Let us fly-by-nighters, trash ‘the economy’ by buying yachts and hoarding bonuses and evading taxes. Everything will go swirling down the drain. Then there will another round of ‘opportunity’, for all of us, to ‘rebuild the economy’.

    I hope, that by looking at the list of top 10 ‘capitalists’, our AGW brethren will open their eyes to where from the message of fear and doom about climate change, must be coming from.

  31. Not to put too fine a point on it, but until the AGW community can accept and deal with the failure of the sort of propaganda busted in this:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/15/the-un-disappears-50-million-climate-refugees-then-botches-the-disappearing-attempt/#comment-643034

    then we do not need to hear Orwellian lectures redefining capitalism and making parasites like Gore into heroes.
    And, by the way, blaming the Koch brothers for bogus climate predictions from the UN is not really credible. So those believers already charging in the direction can chill.

    • Hunter,

      When you start with the blame game, their are many people in that list.
      The system set up ensures that no one is to blame as “they didn’t know” comes into effect. Protects scientists and politicians that “just followed the “experts””.

    • That link does not work for me. The comment # does not appear on the page now. I wonder if the comment was deleted or if other comments were deleted which may have changed the number of this comment. Not sure how it works. Can you see if the comment you are referencing is still on the page?

    • randomengineer

      I’m not sure that Dr Curry’s bridge attempt can be successful. Certainly the discussion needs some civility, which she brings.

      But that’s not enough. Serious discussion also needs to be based on reality.

      There is no serious discussion that can be had regarding anything related to climate when ‘True Believers’ create, promote, repeat, and otherwise burn gigabytes of online text argument on depraved garbage like the “climate refugee” business.

      Skeptics can’t talk to these ‘Believers’ any more than one can reason with a tractor.

      What makes things worse is the lack of Believer ethics: tragically comic “Oh no we never said that” when of course it’s easy to see that yes, they damn sure DID say that. If they can’t own up to having said something and then say “we were wrong” then there really is no discussion that can take place. Are we living in a Python skit?

      As I have said in the other thread I’m still waiting for the Maldives to sink, and I want to see irrefutable proof that this is 100% manmade and was preventable and yes caused by my car. That was the prediction. OK, then –stick to the prediction. If the Maldives have NOT sunk then I reckon we taxpayers ought to shut down the entire enviro-climate-nazi ball of wax and give the funding back to the taxpayers.

      Then, when the Maldives sink, we’ll discuss fundiung again. Not until. This seems really simple. (Anyone here finding this too complex to grasp?)

      Ain’t going to happen. The ‘True Believers’ (and the UN) can’t even own up to the fact that they have been proven wrong re climate refugees, and the skeptics are too weak willed to finish this. Depressingly the skeptics at this point lack leadership. They need a leader to step up and show the plan to put an end to this idiocy once and for all.

      • If the greenfyre webmaster has not deleted it yet, I posted a link to a good deconstruction of communist fanatical thinking that seems very applicable to fanatics in general.

  32. Judith,

    Capitalism is not sustainable.
    It takes hoping that there will always be buyers who then need jobs to have the capital to buy. Moving companies to China and other cheaper Nations creates a void of potential buyers that now cannot afford the products available.
    Borrowing just compounds and delays the inevitable fallout of collapsing economies.
    Many people are buying up gold and silver in case the currency collapses.
    Rather than creating new R and D for generating new products, the extremely rich are investing to hoard more funds out of the system by way of profiteering for the best return on their capital.

    When the food supply of this planet fails in the supply, prices have to go up higher due to everyone NEEDS food.

    • “Capitalism is not sustainable”. Sounds like a quote from some ivory tower academic who’s never ventured out into the real world. The kind who just knows deep in his heart that communism is really great, but contends that it’s never actually been tried.

      In reality, capitalism is the only sustainable system. ommunism/socialism/marxism is not sustainable. We know that because of every example has failed; ranging from the Pilgrims to Castro.

      Capitalisms/free enterprise is nothing more than people having the freedom of exchange in a political structure where private property rights are enforced. That’s it. Without enforceable property rights, there is no saving and thus no investment. Without free exchange, society atrophies (see Matt Ridley’s latest book for an explanation of how trade (exchange) transformed human evolution).

      We know that exchange has thrived for thousands of years. We know that humans thrive when free. We know that any system which denies personal property rights will fail. So how is this free enterprise system unsustainable?

      • How about “tragedy of the commons” or “unpriced externalities”?

      • Oh, you mean externalities like the horrible pollution that plagues China and was such a disaster for Eastern Europe when it was run by the communists? Comparing the environments of countries with free enterprise systems to those run by communists isn’t much of an argument against free enterprise.

        Hint — the best way to protect the environment is to create a wealthy society (check it out). Best way to create wealthy societies is free enterprise. The evidence has been accumulating for over a century and it’s overwhelming.

      • Yes, but the wealthy societies did not actually become cleaner until environmentalists fought like hell to get the government to regulate pollution, over industry’s kicking and screaming. And it was not free enterprise per se, but democracy, which allowed environmentalists to have a voice in the West, and which hindered environmentalism in the one-party dictatorships of the east.

        I don’t know what you think of socialist-leaaning democracies like Sweden and much of Europe, by the way.

      • Paul

        I have to disagree with you here, or at least with Joe Lalonde.

        Societies don’t achieve environmentalist’s goals unless and until the system of rewards in the economy at the individual level (including individual businesses), align with those environmental goals.

        To an economist, environmentalism is a no brainer, however deprecated by opportunistic free riding parasites it may be; it’s exactly a special case of the Sustainability argument — small wonder opportunists find themselves itchy and uncomfortable when the topic comes up.

        There’s all sorts of free-enterprise systems, core capitalism only one of them.

        Many who seek personal advantage regardless of cost to the whole play the capitalist charade well, but they’re simply privateers, and ultimately their systems — as reflected by their inability to foster sustainability — fail just as certainly as unsustainable communism.

      • Bart – I’m not sure I understand your point. Yes, environmental goals aren’t achieved until the incentives (carrots and sticks) for individuals are put in place; but those incentives are created by regulatory action (legislation, administrative rule-making, court rulings) that are a consequence of goal-oriented political activity by environmentalists.

        If what you’re saying is that environmental regulations only become established when they’re already aligned with the incentives of individuals (e.g., when they’re already profitable), I think that’s wrong. But that doesn’t seem like what you mean.

      • I forgot to ask – what do you mean by “environmentalism… is exactly a special case of the Sustainability [Sic] argument”?

      • Paul

        Alas, you as questions about Bartronomics, the mysterious field of simplifying problems in diverse fields so poor Bart R can grasp them.

        I’ll try not to bore you.

        I’ve borrowed some of the structure of Set Theory; in Bartronomics, the Firm is a versatile widget analogous to a set, with the properties of long term (or sustained) value, an owner (which may be a group, individual or abstraction), inputs, outputs and a director (the director is either a firm or an owner), dividends to the owner, and a term or lifespan. A firm may also contain other firms or be contained in other firms.

        Corporations are firms, projects are firms, people’s bank accounts are firms, families are firms, people are firms, nations, governments, ecosystems are firms. A planet may be considered a firm. Something can be considered a firm in some frames of reference and not in others.

        The goal or principal of every firm is to maximize long run return to the owner through dividends and long term value.

        Where the term is long enough, the dividends small enough, and the long term value of the firm substantial, Sustainability (maintaining long term value at the cost of dividends) is always the dominant strategy so long as the activities of the firm align with the interests of the owner.

        A series of dividend/long-term-value exchanges (selling off the firm by pieces) that converges to a nonpositive number before the term of the firm indicates a failure.

        A firm that cannot be exchanged for any value to the owner upon the expiration of its term has inefficiently allocated its dividends during its operational life.

        Fascinating? No, I expect.

        Viewed this way, the planet Earth is a firm with regard to radiative transfer because the director can partly influence the dividends by two vectors: aerosols, and GHGs.

        For the moment, let’s assume using the aerosol vector is deprecated and we wouldn’t want to emit more aerosols.

        We then also wouldn’t wish to emit more GHG’s, as we know temporal chaos dominates Earth’s climate (along with spatiotemporal, deterministic and stochastic elements depending on time scale), and change in radiative transfer is a strong perturbation capable of affecting the ergodic patterns of climate the owner (the abstract living environment) relies on, so if the director does not curtail GHG emissions they are acting against the owner’s interest.

        See how much that simplifies the issue? We have only one thing to do, and it’s obvious what it is and why. Reduce GHG emissions.

        As you can see, in Bartronomics, there’s no point considering how much this reduction will cost, as there’s no dividend so large as to be worth unlimited risk to the Firm, which is the only and inevitable long term outcome of considering short term cost.

        If the Firm cannot operate on the terms of reduced GHG emission, it has no long run viability anyway.

        Like principles can be applied to Environmentalism as a special case of the Sustainability argument, or tooth brushing, or whether to eat breakfast, or which twin the firm of Charlie Sheen should name as contact in case of medical emergency.

      • you messages are occasionally funny– if not meaningful

      • Hi Bart – that’s not boring at all. I read it through twice and found it interesting both times.

        If you want to pursue the metaphor of the firm further, though, I think it encounters a variety of contradictions.

        Crucially, I think your conclusion “that there’s no dividend so large as to be worth unlimited risk to the firm” mistakes the differences between risks we accept for ourselves, and risks we impose on others. As individuals, we risk death for small pleasures and conveniences all the time. But imposing unacceptably large risks on others is considered criminal negligence.

        This does raise the fundamental question as to whether we consider reducing GHGs to be something we do for ourselves, in which case it is very appropriate to consider the costs, vs something we do for others, in which case – though costs can’t be completely disregarded – the calculus is very different.

        Put differently: “It’s the externalities.”

      • Paul Baer

        It takes some getting used to.

        The director makes decisions for the firm, but is not always the owner.

        Sometimes the director’s interests conflict with the owner’s.

        Where this conflict arises, it matches what you call ‘externality’.

        When the director’s interests can be made to align with the owner’s interests, that alignment ‘internalizes’ the decision and its costs to the firm.

        So, where Charlie Sheen’s thrill-seeking tendencies direct him, the price his body pays may be seen as a bad thing by those who feel some enterprising sense of ownership of Sheen’s fame or health, star power or wealth-generating potential, but no one can democratically say that it isn’t Charlie’s decision to make.

        However, there is no free enterprise without democracy, nor democracy without free enterprise. Where there is a market for firms, whether an election campaign or a grocery store, the alignment of directors’ with owners’ interests is the freedom and is the democracy; decisions taken out of the owners’ hands by making the costs to directors different from costs to owners, are the enemy.

        This is why a revenue-neutral carbon tax is not the ‘environmentalist’ thing to do, though it aligns with environmentalist causes, it’s the democratic, free enterprise thing to do, because only when costs are aligned can democracy or free enterprise exist.

        People selling something different are simply anti-democratic and anti-free-enterprise.

      • The director makes decisions for the firm, but is not always the owner.
        Sometimes the director’s interests conflict with the owner’s.
        Where this conflict arises, it matches what you call ‘externality’.

        It certainly has nothing to do with the concept of ‘externality’ as used in economics (see eg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality)
        And as Paul Baer seems to be economically literate, I doubt he shares your confusion.

      • Punksta

        You have that exactly right.

        Bartronomics simplifies economics, and many other fields, to the fewest postulates necessary to logically be able to handle as many problems as possible consistently.

        So Bartronomics allows us to prove Externality and Sustainability are both special cases of Competition of Interest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_interest).

        The solution to all is aligning directors’ and owners’ interests in the firm.

        This can be by making the director’s compensation contingent on advancing the owners’ interest successfully by objective measures, or voting politicians out of office who steal from the commons (or allow their friends to steal from the commons).

        Subsidies, in Bartronomics, almost inevitably result in Competition of Interests.

        While I don’t expect the world to share my particular mad methods of trying to see things in a way that make sense, I always applaud others when they try to find what works for them.

        Good luck with that.

    • Joe,
      Stop with the summations devoid of any connection to fact, please.

      • Hunter,

        In just a few more short years you’ll see EXACTLY what is happening with both climate and economics.
        Colder and riots from lack of food production.

  33. For some reason, although I tried man times, I couldn’t get a direct quote to go through this blog’s filter.

    The notion that Wal-Mart’s downturn in sales should put the First Lady on notice ( I don’t know how you can get her name to get through the blog’s filter, because every time I try to do so my comment gets snagged) for advocating that people plant gardens and eat vegetables is flat out absurd.

    The article is the most ridiculous marketing/business analysis I’ve ever read. It takes the marketing policy of the largest retailer in the world, and concludes that it failed because of the political manipulations of a progressive. It’s absurd.

    Not to mention – the article was wrong. Did you read the Free Republic excerpt I linked? Pollock’s article was based on a WSJ article – and it got the WSJ article wrong. All Judith would have had to do was a modicum of research to see that she linked to:

    A polemic

    An factually wrong incorrect polemic

    A factually incorrect polemic written by a polemicist.

    And maybe if Judith didn’t use an extreme rightwing source to get the article in the first place, she wouldn’t have run into that trouble.

    But right. The First Lady should be “on notice” for advocating that people plant gardens and eat vegetables because some polemicst incorrectly states that due to having a “progressive” in its executive functions, Wal-Mart’s strategy to sell organic foods is ruining its profit margin.

    Because no rebranding campaign ever failed unless a “progressive” was running it.

    And because there aren’t any companies that are earning profits from marketing organic foods (or from creating an environmentally-friendly brand image).

    The article was garbage.

    • randomengineer

      The notion that Wal-Mart’s downturn in sales should put the First Lady on notice for advocating that people plant gardens and eat vegetables is flat out absurd.

      You can’t read.

      People plant gardens to save money on food bills and have better quality (i.e. fresher) produce when it’s harvested, e.g. garden fresh tomatoes are better tasting than what’s at the store.

      They do not plant gardens to save the planet, because of corporate quality fears (pesticides. oh my.) or because of misplaced notions regarding what to eat and weight loss.

      As per the article walmart’s green effort failed because the walmart buyers aren’t interested in throwing away money for dubious return. The median HOUSEHOLD income in the US is 50,000 USD, and the median and below buyer simply can’t afford the price premium of ‘green’ produce.

      You need to get a grip. Perhaps you have an income that is above the median and can afford to throw it away. Most folks can’t. The first lady’s message is clear: she’s an elitist snob who has no understanding of the people living in Resume Speed KS and how much income they really have.

      Walmart’s green effort was destined to fail. Everyone but the ‘progressive’ morons implementing this knew it. Surely it can’t be that difficult to grasp what a median houshold income of $50k implies.

      • The first lady’s message is clear: she’s an elitist snob who has no understanding of the people living in Resume Speed KS and how much income they really have.

        Bingo. Thanks for making my point. Maybe, next time, instead of linking to a Pajamas Media polemic, Judith can just link to one of your posts?

      • What evidence do you have that she’s not?

      • Jim – when did you stop beating your wife?

      • So – you’re losing the debate again and all you can do is resort to 3rd grade insults?

        And you’re the one who keeps asking Judith ot look at this, Mommy!

        Fact is that I don’t really believe she’s a snob so much as that she has other problems. And we WILL NOT go there, but you might cogitate on this – how many people on her staff? And how many on the staff of the previous ten First Ladies? There are other questions – for another time and place.

      • Jim, it isn’t an insult. Are you really not familiar with the expression?

      • Oh yes, Josh – I am. It’s the unanswerable queston.

        It’s also insulting to my wife. It implies that she’s stupid enough to marry (and stay married) to someone who would beat her. Luckily for you, she laughs at it (and you), too.

      • Jim – it isn’t a serious question. I never in any way was seriously implying that you beat your wife.

        Oh, and fyi, I bought a great pair of hiking boots last year (on deep discount at Sierra Trading Post) – Alica is the brand, made in Italy. They have a least a couple of hundred miles on them (not all from backpacking), and they still look practically new. Don’t know if you like all-leather boots, though.

      • Josh –
        Never really took it seriously. And won’t. Nor do I believe you intended insult. But it’s provided a few chuckles here.

        I’ll take a look for the boots. My wife used leather Italian boots for her first AT thruhike. Thanks for the tip. :-)

        As for Walmart – it is what it is, but it’s not what it used to be. Sam would spit nails over what’s been done to his organization.

      • Sorry – the brand name is Alico – the style I got is the “Summit.” I Looks like they can still be had for a relatively good price compared to most high quality all-leather hiking boots. Anyway, I highly recommend them.

      • I must say, random, your point was brilliant. Wal-Mart walking back their decision to upscale their brand during a recession proves that the First Lady is a snob for advocating that people grow gardens and eat vegetables.

        Judith, are you reading this?

      • Joshua,
        Your soliloquies are very entertaining.

      • randomengineer

        Since the first lady made it a point (multiple times) to make sure that it was well understood that what she had was an ORGANIC garden, the original article writer made a (valid) point.

        The fact that you can’t seem to pay attention is a source of great pride for you, which would be amusing if you were 14.

      • Random,

        The First Lady’s garden-planting advocacy is part of a large public health policy (Let’s Move) that is targeting obesity and poor eating habits among today’s youth. The public policy campaign is the product of years of (ongoing) research into dealing with an epidemic of obesity that has enormous public health and healthcare cost implications. The “organic” aspect of that advocacy is minor, indeed. Anyone who would choose to disregard all the other elements of that campaign, to focus on whatever extent she encourages people to eat or garden organically, is simply motivated merely by political expediency.

        But to make it even more ridiculous – connecting Wal-Mart’s marketing decision to upscale their branding and product line to the First Lady’s advocacy for planting gardens and eating well is pure hackery.

        Even a 14 year-old like myself can see that.

      • –snip–

        When First Lady [...] broke ground on an organic garden on the White House lawn, no one knew how it would impact life past Pennsylvania Avenue. But, her Let’s Move! Campaign to promote better nutrition and exercise for the nation’s youth has proven fruitful in more ways than one. In a statement about the campaign to combat childhood obesity, the First Lady says, “In the end, as first lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition.” Not only has her influence reached school lunch rooms and breastfeeding moms, but it has initiated change in the world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart.
        Wal-Mart’s Healthy Food Campaign

        At a press conference attended by First Lady Obama last week, Wal-Mart unveiled a major initiative to provide “healthier and more affordable food“ to their customers. The company credited Mrs. [...] with bringing the initiative to fruition. Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Wal-Mart, says, “She was the catalyst that helped make today’s announcement a reality and her spirit of collaboration made our commitment to bring better nutrition to kitchen tables across this country even stronger.”

        The specifics of the initiative include reformulating food items, making healthier foods more affordable, building stores in underserved areas, increasing funding for nutrition programs, and changing Wal-Mart’s food labels. What seems like a PR campaign becomes more believable when you look into Wal-Mart’s specifics for reformulating food items.

        Wal-Mart’s Food Reformulation Plan

        Fast forward to 2015, the target year Wal-Mart has committed to completing their reformulation of food items in “key product categories.” Food from their Great Value private brand and collaboration with suppliers from national brands will be designed to reduce the amounts of sodium and sugar as well as eliminate trans fats. Specifically, the move is set to reduce added sugar by ten percent in dairy items, sauces and fruits drinks. Sodium will be drawn down by 25 percent in many grocery staples such as lunch meats, grain products, salad dressings, and frozen entrees.

        Beyond Wal-Mart

        The change will not only impact Wal-Mart shoppers; the entire food industry will be affected. Food manufacturers will change the way they do business for the opportunity to meet Wal-Mart’s needs. This will have a trickledown effect on the supply chain of grocers worldwide. Farmers may also be affected by Wal-Mart’s financial power, but the scope of the impact is yet unknown. While getting better food into Wal-Mart will certainly feed more children healthier options, the question is how this will affect our ability to choose the most healthy food options everywhere in every store?

        –snip–

      • Most people who plant gardens do so because they enjoy gardening, lots of us. The saving money on food is another one of those things that the answer to is maybe yes, maybe no, because you have to figure in cost of land, cost of seed, time when you could have been doing something else that earns $ etc.

        On the whole, after ~30 years of having a veg garden and shopping at a bunch of Korean groceries around here who carry a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, the better taste is marginal and also depends but you have no chance of ripping the hoe out of Eli’s cold dead hands.

      • Growing your own veggies and being organic about it is wonderful. My neighbor does such a good job I sneak fresh produce all the time :) I wonder if he figured out why I gave him a few seed packs for things I’d like to eat more of?

        One problem with “Green” though is the unintended consequences. Building energy efficiency made me a lot of money in the 80′s and 90′s fixing “Tight Building Syndrome” . Asthma rates have climbed pretty steady, some of that due to “tight buildings”. It was a great idea, saving energy, but what is the real long term cost?

        “Green” and overly protective tend to go hand in hand. Home schooling, sterile lifestyles, no vaccinations and all organic, no preservative foods, sound great, but kids never get to build the natural antibodies needed to deal with the real world. Sometimes eating a little dirt is not a bad thing, so who is to say that preventing exposure to a little of this bug spray or that food preservative is good in the long run?

        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.html

        New glue, paint and pesticide formulations may be green, but that doesn’t mean they are good.

    • I’m actually going to agree with Joshua on at least the narrow point that the article was garbage. The PR guy doesn’t run operations and marketing. The whole premise was preposterous.

      Something went on inside the company, and it was dumb whatever it was, but it wasn’t the PR guy taking over and calling all the shots. Unless maybe his name was Dogbert.

      • randomengineer

        Dogbert isn’t needed if perfect storms suffice (although as you point out the results are indistinguishable.)

        The PR guy was able to fool walmart execs by showing them massive amounts of print real estate and tv bandwidth etc purporting to show Americans were concerned with green. Everything from climate porn on the “science” channels to BP ads. Add to this a president who talks green rubbish and a boatload of bad press and jokes etc re semi-literate imbeciles who are claimed to be the std walmart customer.

        If bombarded with imagery like this you too could possibly cave if you were running that show. The execs probably did reckon that the country was going to shift greenward due to sheer force if nothing else. They knew that they needed to improve their image, too. They forgot to notice the actual income of real Americans. Wouldn’t be the first time this happened.

        Either way the PR guy was still the driver. The execs probably know now that they shouldn’t have allowed this.

      • If that’s really the case, their problems were much bigger than just a pernicious PR guy. What that suggests is massive incompetence all across management. If they have so little understanding of their business that they think that they should transform the most successful retailing paradigm in history for some extra advertising copy, the whole lot of them should hit the road.

      • randomengineer

        Agreed on all counts. Think in terms of QED (what actually happened) — management *did* make some idiotic decisions and *did* try to transform their operation. The article was looking at who made the decisions. You can’t ignore the green expert advocating green when the documented idiocy included green. Since there’s no such thing as sheer coincidence, OBVIOUSLY this expert had an impact. This is what the article concluded.

      • “If that’s really the case, their problems were much bigger than just a pernicious PR guy.”

        Amen to that. The introduction of organic foods is but a small symptom of the disease that took over WalMart, once one of the greatest examples of entrepreneurial capitalism ever. It provided a wide range of products, at prices even the poor could afford, making their lives better, while turning massive profits, thus rendering large portions of the left apoplectic.

        But then Sam Walton died. And the new generation, as is the wont of new generations in this bizarre modern culture of ours, had to prove it knew better. So offering the widest array of products, at the lowest prices (by beating the heck out of suppliers – who still got rich off the process) went out the window. MBAs decided they had to show that the models and theories they studied in school were superior to the real world marketing and supply brilliance of the company’s founder.

        What followed was a wholesale rejection of Sam’s capitalist ideology. The leadership of WalMart, tired of being vilified by the leftists at the New York Times and elsewhere that they so admired, decided to emulate Target, the darling marketer of the left (among whom the chain is often cloyingly referred to as Targee’, as if it were French, meaning superior to anything American). You know Target, the ones who kicked the Salvation Army away from the front of their stores at Christmas.

        So after decades of outperforming all other chain stores by selling to the middle and lower class, Walmart tried to attract an “upscale” clientele. It became a rent seeker, supporting socialized medicine for the entire country, in hopes of gaining a cost advantage over Target, which did not supply the same quality of health benefits to its employees as Sam had. It adopted its version of “green” marketing, and deep sixed many of the products (including food products), that its traditional customers could afford.

        Walmart’s problems did not start with their PR department. The PR guys are hired and controlled by the company management, who made a conscious decision to try to match the cachet of Targee’. And this latest PR announcement that they have “learned their lesson” is just more PR. Learning a lesson takes humility, and their is no sign of that rearing its ugly head among the WalMart leadership at this time.

        Oh, and the WalMart announcement itself is here:

        http://walmartstores.com/pressroom/news/10573.aspx

        And while it does not address organic foods directly, it does contain statements that would support the reading of the PJM piece.

        “These assortment changes will bring back customers’ favorite local food and consumables, among other products.”

        “Additions to the dry grocery aisles for products like pasta, beverages and snacks have been in progress and will continue.”

        “Walmart’s reputation was founded on the principle of providing low prices day-in and day-out on the broadest assortment of merchandise.” (Indeed, too bad they didn’t stick with it.)

        Organic foods are not mentioned directly, but when you are bringing in lower cost food items, re-targeting your marketing to your lower income customers, and organics are among the highest priced items in their category, it is a fair inference that the organics are going to be replaced.

        Walmart needs a change in management, not in marketing philosophy. The gloating in the PJM article is way premature. It depends on the assumption that the progressives who took over WalMart after Sam’s death hve actually learning anything from their earlier failure. That is something progressives are loathe to do, and here is no sign of that yet.

      • Walmart committed two mortal sins on their way up: they cut all distributors out of the supply chain, and they funded expansion out of operating revenue, cutting the banks out. IOW, they cut out the rent seekers. It’s no surprise that they made a lot of enemies in a lot of high places.

      • The PR guy was able to fool walmart execs by showing them massive amounts of print real estate and tv bandwidth etc purporting to show Americans were concerned with green….If bombarded with imagery like this you too could possibly cave if you were running that show

        Random – I’m afraid that your scenarios is rather unlikely.

        My guess is that the PR guy used mind-control/hypnotism to get the execs to go along with his enviro-Nazi plot. Execs at a company like Wal-Mart are probably too experienced to simply fall for a PR campaign, no matter how skilled and deceptive and effecting the Manchurian Candidate might be at his work.

        You know, generally marketing and production execs do expect at least some solid hard numbers when the make massive shifts for such a large company.

        I think that they wouldn’t have been fooled just by PR.

        It must have been something more nefarious. Mostly likely it was some kind of mind-control/hypnotism, although he might have also spiked the pitchers of drinking water around the conference tables with some kind of psycho-tropic drugs that made the execs particularly prone to suggestion.

        Judith, are you reading this?

      • Joshua –
        Do you actually read your own stuff? Do you have any understanding that it puts you somewhere beyond left field? You’re beginning to sound like a clone of the ThinkProgress site and their wild-eyed, ignorant attacks on the Koch brothers.

      • Jim,

        Random writes that a “PR guy” pulled a snow-job on all the higher-level execs at Wall-Mart, and you think that I’m “beyond left field” for laughing at his analysis?

      • It’s happened before, Josh. You apparently know nothing about the underbellyof the ad business, either. My uncle was an executive with one of the larger agencies. You’d have given him a good laugh with your naivete there.

        But what really puts you out there is your unwarranted hyperbolic snark.

        BTW – if you’re gonna insult me, telling obvious lies won’t cut it. That just increases your slime factor.

  34. In other news…a Chevy Volt suspected in a garage fire.

    http://www.wfsb.com/news/27541598/detail.html

  35. Is Mr Spamfilter acting up this morning?

  36. Oh, yes. Mr. Blogengine has a very upset tummy this morning.

  37. The Amazon preamble to Climate Capitalism tells us:

    Whether you’re the head of a household or the CEO of a multinational corporation, embracing efficiency, innovation, renewables, carbon markets, and new technologies is the smartest decision you can make. It’s the most profitable, too. And, oh yes—you’ll help save the planet.

    OK. Let’s forget about “saving the planet” for now. “Carbon markets” have also turned out to be a bubble and some of the exchanges have already shut down, so let’s forget this one, as well.

    “Renewables” undoubtedly have a future, as fossil fuels become more expensive and “new technologies” become more cost competitive through “innovation”. This is happening today, as the authors point out.

    Does it require a totally new mindset or simply good common-sense management? I’d say it’s more of the latter, since the mindset is generally already there.

    The lesson learned here (hopefully) is to keep the government out with massive subsidies (corn to ethanol debacle), except for some selected up-front basic research support to help get new technologies kicked off.

    But the rest makes sense (as it always has).

    The earlier book, Natural Capitalism, covers much of this, as well.

    The concept is simply a “reframing” (or “rebranding”) of plain old common sense business management. Energy efficiency has always driven profitability and hence prosperity. For this reason, GDP growth has always outpaced growth in energy consumption.

    Developed economies today (EU, Japan, USA, etc.) have a much higher GDP to CO2 ratio than the developing ones (China. India, Brazil). A table showing this ratio for major economies is linked below.

    Back in the pre-OPEC days of oil at under $10/bbl, energy efficiency was not as important as today and there was a lot of waste.

    Any well-run company today with $100+/bbl oil is concerned with the energy efficiency of its processes, and this will only increase, as the authors predict.

    One large chemical company even started “BTU accounting” for all its manufacturing processes and products back in the mid-1970s, with those managers who improved the “BTU-cost” of their products receiving recognition and rewards. So this is all nothing basically new.

    Renewability is fine – but only if it makes economic sense. Non-viable renewable projects, which can only survive with government subsidy, are silly. Putting a price (or tax) on carbon to force people/companies away from fossil fuels to otherwise non-competitive renewables is basically wasteful. And since it is wasteful, it does not make sense.

    On the other hand, moving away from expensive oil, which is imported from a price-fixing cartel of principally unfriendly nations makes sense. In the USA this can be achieved by maximizing the exploitation of domestic resources as well as by developing new, cost-competitive renewable sources of energy.

    Forgetting about the “carbon footprint” for now, there are proven processes for converting coal to motor fuel and petrochemical feedstocks (South Africa has been doing this for decades). The USA also has plenty of coal, so could do the same.

    The USA also has plenty of natural gas (especially if shale gas is included) and this can also be used as a motor fuel (as is being proposed to U.S. Congress by T. Boone Pickens) as a replacement for petroleum-based fuel for heavy trucks. The proposal calls for a temporary up-front government subsidy to truck manufacturers to develop natural gas fueled trucks and a tax break for truck-stop owners installing natural gas tanking facilities.

    Some other points from the “Natural Capitalism” write-up:

    Dramatically increase the productivity of natural resources

    This includes closed-loop production processes where by-products are converted to produce marketable end products, a concept, which has been in use by the chemical industry for decades.

    Move to a solution-based business model

    Selling a service or solution, rather than simply a product, is something many industries have done for years. The example of elevator/escalator supplier, Schindler, is cited as an example of the service business model, whereby these systems are leased along with the regular checkup/maintenance/repair service. New elevator sales have always been much less profitable than the service business, so locking in the service contract with a lease arrangement makes good sense.

    Re-invest in natural capital

    This basically means to use natural resources more efficiently and productively. Here the example is given that since energy savings capital investments pass through the balance sheet and can only be written off over several years, while energy costs can be tax deducted right away, there is a natural dis-incentive for companies to invest in energy savings projects. Companies have been living with this for years and it has not hindered them from improving the energy efficiency of their processes.

    An example of investment designed to save energy (bigger pipes/smaller pumps) is given. Of course this is a good idea, but most well-managed companies have been making this sort of investment for years, so this is nothing basically new.

    All-in-all the recommendations related to improving energy efficiency, reducing waste and pollution and increasing the productivity of natural resources make sense, but they are nothing basically new.

    Adding in the concept of reducing the carbon footprint in order to move away from relying on a dwindling supply of ever more expensive energy supplied by a basically non-friendly price-fixing cartel also makes good sense.

    Doing so to “save the planet” may make some people feel good, so it can’t hurt. But, no matter what we do, we will not be able to significantly change the climate of our planet as earlier threads here have demonstrated.

    Max

    • John Carpenter

      Max,

      Nice post.

      “Doing so to “save the planet” may make some people feel good, so it can’t hurt.”

      Good point… but let me add that it is also a marketing tool that “sells” also.

  38. The multi-trillion dollar climate business bubble has attracted a lot of fellow travelers from neighboring tribes. (Some of the strangest bedfellows include nuclear power and natural gas.) What entrepreneur can resist a movement that promises, or threatens, to restructure the global economy? But the energy efficiency, sustainability and green growth people have been there from the beginning. It is the feel-good side of the coin, and generally harmless.

    But one must be careful to distinguish energy efficiency from energy “conservation,” which is really asceticism masked as engineering. Efficiency means doing the job with less energy. Conservation means doing without the job.

    As for the leaders list, here is the real thing: http://greengrowthleaders.org/.

  39. Brandon Shollenberger

    Oh, apparently the reply function isn’t working since the post which started the tree was deleted.

  40. David L. Hagen

    Falling liquid fuel exports=greatest danger.
    Alternative fuels = greatest need.
    Combination = opportunity!

    Applying EPA numbers, Willis Echenbach points out that

    US$1,900 trillion dollars for each measly degree of cooling.

    Compare the US Defense budget:

    · Ronald Reagan spent $4.1 trillion on the Defense Department (in 2010 dollars),
    · G. W. Bush spent $4.65 trillion, and
    · Barack Obama plans to spend more than $5 trillion.

    Advocates of “Controlling climate” seek to bury the greatest amount of money ever proposed. That is diametrically the opposite of Christian stewardship.

    Global Net Oil Exports have already peaked in 2005. The consequent rapid increase in oil prices likely triggered the 2008 economic crisis.

    The greatest opportunity is to develop alternative fuels to replace light oil for transport fuel. At $100/bbl, globally 100 million bbl/day for liquid fuels will nominally cost $10 billion /day or $3.6 trillion/year.
    Replacing 40 years of fuel will nominally cost $144 trillion (no increase or price escalation etc.)
    Bedrock economics will drive the transitions. Declining economies will not have the luxuries of subsidizing expensive fuels. The cheapest fuels will gain market share.

  41. Steve Schuman

    Climate cpaitalism and natural capitalism remind me of the “new economy” during the dot com boom. As far as I know, there are only goods and services, supply and demand and the forces that drive them. Beware the always on the cusp new paradigm.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      This is how to respond to an article which is wrong.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        You wrote regarding the WalMart article:

        “This is how to respond to an article which is wrong.”

        No, Brandon. It is simply good PR to “spin” it both ways.

        Max

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I was congratulating the article our host linked on responding appropriately, so I don’t think “spin” is an issue. I suppose you could say our host is “spinning” things both ways, but I wasn’t referring to her with my comment (after all, she didn’t respond to the article).

      • Too bad that Judith didn’t see fit to comment on the “garbage-ness” of the original link. Gee, I wonder why.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        My guess is she just wanted to give you another reason to make snide and useless comments. Or she just thought people could read both articles and figure things out for themselves.

      • Brandon,
        Joshua will pretend to be dialoguing on this and feigning outrage and disappointment with the wicked denialist bad manners of you until he paints himself so far into a corner that he finally notices, and then he will wander off.
        How many times has he asked if our hostess sees your evil ways so far?

      • No outrage.

        Yes, a bit of disappointment; I do expect Judith at least make a good faith attempt to differentiate the legitimate debate from polemics. My impression was that was part of her goal.

        I don’t think that I’ve asked our hostess to see Brandon’s “evil ways.” First, I don’t see anyone here as being evil. Second, while there are some folks here who I think are ridiculously over the top in their political focus, I don’t recall seeing anything from Brandon that puts him in that camp. Yes, he is, IMO, a bit of a nitpicker with his calls to have the obvious spelled out to him (and, IMO, suspiciously resistant to accepting the obvious when it is spelled out), but there is a distinction between Brandon and some others here.

        You know the type I’m talking about? For example, someone who claims that it isn’t questioning a scientist’s credibility (or integrity) when you to analogize him to a con man or when you say that he gives testimony to Congress without any concern at all about the science. Or, perhaps, someone who says that a progressive con man fooled Wal-Mart’s entire corporate structure to rebrand the largest retailer in the world. Or, perhaps, when commenter after commenter compares to Nazis, millions of well-intentioned (if arguably misdirected at times) people who are concerned about the environment.

        And again, hunter, when I ask if Judith is reading those kinds of comments it isn’t because I think the commenters are “evil.” Not at all. Having never met them, I would have no way of knowing about their character. I leave those kinds of polemics to others. I ask if Judith if reading because it has been her contention that there is a substantial asymmetry in the political dimensions of influence on the climate debate, and I am perplexed as to how she could feel that way – particularly when so many of the “denier/skeptics” at this very site are so obviously viewing the climate debate through a political prism. So on occasion I ask Judith if she’s reading some of the many, many over-the-top posts people put up here (in addition to the many well-argued “skeptical” posts debating climate science).

        But “outrage?” No, not at all. I mostly find the level in invective that can be found among some “skeptics/deniers” here to be amusing, because I know how far off-base it is. It’s like how you’d feel about a child explaining how his imaginary fried was responsible for writing on the wall with a magic marker. For example, when you misperceive what I do or don’t think (without knowing me), or what many people I know do or don’t think (without knowing them), as you lump people in to categories that might apply to a few people in reality, but that exist primarily in your active (politically inspired) imagination.

      • I’m outraged that you talk like that to the hand.
        ==============

      • Responding yet mute
        Kim doesn’t hear what he hears
        The hand won’t suffice

      • randomengineer

        No outrage.

        Not much in the realm of IQ, either. You are a typical parrot who can regurgitate the talking points on demand, and nothing more. I’m pretty sure I can get the original silliness from every post you make from climate progress.

        e.g. I get radiative xfer and have posted here many times on this subject. Warming is real. Mankind’s influence on climate is real.

        On the other hand knowing how warming works doesn’t compel one to be “green” and/or support the efforts of the bad guys to suppress or otherwise FUBAR the economy and/or otherwise embrace partisan socialism.

        I realise that in your dim perception one can’t possibly be a “believer” and vehemently anti-green. Therefore go ahead and keep labeling me a denier, genius. The only thing you’re accomplishing is a) the display of your own partisan blinders, b) demonstration of the complete inability to grasp the notion that believers can be critical of ‘believer politics’, and c) demonstration of an utter failure to discuss anything with those who disagree without labels.

        Now, call me a denier again.

      • Again?

        I don’t think I called you a “denier” even once. I use the term “denier/skeptic” in quotes. You can choose to identify with whichever of those descriptors you prefer. If I mistakenly referred to you as a “denier/skeptic,” apology extended.

        But obviously you are right about my IQ. Alas, I do the best I can with limited resources.

      • But “outrage?” No, not at all.
        Horse puckey. We all watched outrage yesterday.

        it has been her contention that there is a substantial asymmetry in the political dimensions of influence on the climate debate

        And that you can’t see that says more about you than about Judith or the other commenters here. I’ve seen exactly that same idea in the gun control wars. Always made by those whose expressed purpose was to would outlaw ALL guns. You apparently missed the place where I compared the politicization of “climate” to the politicization of firearms. By the same political contingent and using much the same political techniques – fear, alarm, death and disaster.

        when commenter after commenter compares to Nazis, millions of well-intentioned (if arguably misdirected at times) people who are concerned about the environment.

        Haven’t seen anyone do that. That you have is a personal problem – yours – because you fail to understand what’s being said. Note – eugenics may have been part of the Nazi toolkit, but the most prominent and dedicated eugenicists were NOT Nazis, but Americans and Brits.

        You speak of active (politically inspired) imagination. And you fail to understand that you’re projecting. Yesterday you objected to a reference to a historical parallel wrt, for example, the German Green attempts to outlaw scepticism. And yet, historically, it’s a valid parallel – it’a an incident in history that some are attempting to repeat. You may not believe that, but if so, your belief, your knowledge, your viewpoint is faulty – not that of the person who brought up the parallel. Have you never seen the comments of Al Gore or David Suzuki or others that would put sceptics in jail or mental institutions? Do yo know nothing of the machinations of the German Green Party’s attempt to silence sceptics? Where have you been? The answer, of course, is that you read those information sources that DO NOT report such things – like the NYT and leftist blogs. You need better sources.

        If you want to make this kind of complaint, you need to look long and hard at why you believe they’re wrong. And you need to make damn sure what they ARE wrong about before accusing them.

        Notice that I didn’t say they are right about “everything.” But they’re not wrong about as much as you think.

      • Joshua uses the term “denier/skeptic” to describe many here.
        Extending the courtesy, we should thus refer to his ilk as “scientific cleanser/alarmist”. (aka the “consensus”).

      • What would be new, punksta? I, along with many, many other folks, get referred with similar terms often here at Climate Etc. from “skeptics/deniers.”

        I will point out, however, the “skeptic” side of the “denier/skeptic” label — the point being that you might choose to identify with whichever side of that slash line you want, and that “skeptic” seems to be a desired label for many folks. So I don’t see your reciprocal term as even roughly equivalent.

        But honestly, you can call me whatever you want. In the past couple of days, along with being called a “warmist” and many similar terms, I’ve also been called a “liar” and had my reading comprehension, understanding of the English language, and IQ attacked. It would be your right to label me such, as it is the right of others who have attacked me, and I take no personal offense. I am not personally offended when someone who doesn’t know me at all calls me names. In fact, it only serves to help make my argument.

      • No Joshua, that doesn’t wash.
        You started/perpetuate it, and hence your use of ‘denier’ legitimates the reciprocal ‘scientific cleanser’. If you don’t like being deviously lumped with genocidists, don’t deviously lump others.

      • Seems that I’m having more trouble than usual explaining my point.

        Lump me all you want, punksta. I take no offense, really.

        I was just trying to point out that your reciprocal label isn’t really equivalent. But whatever.

        I know that the label you suggested to use for me in no way accurately represents who I am. No one who knows me would consider the label even remotely accurate.

        If someone I don’t know gets some measure of satisfaction by categorizing me and labeling me (even thought he doesn’t know me), it matters not to me, except in the sense that it helps to make my point.

      • Joshua –
        I know that the label you suggested to use for me in no way accurately represents who I am. No one who knows me would consider the label even remotely accurate.

        What you know about yourself is meaningless when dealing with other people. What others know about you is what you’ve shown them by your words/actions – and ONLY that has meaning in this context.

        You have labeled yourself a “warmist” – by your own words, even if not explicitly.

        You have consistently misquoted, misunderstood or misinterpreted what others have said. Liar? I might not interpret it that way, but others might. But the same comment applies to the questions about reading comprehension and understanding of the English language. When you consistently question others viewpoints, knowledge, political bias, etc. while exhibiting your own bias as well as obvious ignorance of what they’re talking about and making no effort to understand their POV, why should they cut you any slack?

        As for IQ – I’ll presume you know that IQ is nothing more than a measure of the ability to learn. It doesn’t measure knowledge or how “smart” you are, much less one’s level of “street smarts.”.

        And, truthfully, there are times when I’ve questioned what you’ve done. Specifically, I’ve wondered how you got to be as old as you are without learning better rhetorical/argumentation skills. There are several examples, but I’ll ask just one question – how did arguing about DDT in any way further your purpose here? It was a sidebar – a distraction – meaningless/useless – convinced nobody – and labelled you as a troll. Why? In what way did that “make your point?”

        I’ve learned more about you since then and I think I know why – but I won’t go there. I’m outta here – the dog needs a walk and so do I.

      • Joshua,
        Slip sliding away…that is all you got.

      • Lump me all you want, punksta. I take no offense, really.

        OK I get it. You want to keep lumping others, so you won’t object if others lump you.

        I was just trying to point out that your reciprocal label isn’t really equivalent. But whatever.

        It obviously is equivalent. You knowlingly invoke comparison with Holocaust deniers, and in return are associated with ethnic cleansing, by way of comparison with the rampant fraud, manipulation and hiding of data by the CAGW establishment. What could be fairer?

        An agreement to drop both ‘denier’ and ‘scientific cleanser’ ?

      • andrew adams

        On the other hand knowing how warming works doesn’t compel one to be “green” and/or support the efforts of the bad guys to suppress or otherwise FUBAR the economy and/or otherwise embrace partisan socialism.

        Indeed – who is telling you that you have to be “green”, support the effort of “bad guys” (whoever they may be) or embrace partisan socialism? Accepting that AGW is real and is a threat and supporting action to prevent it does not require any of those things.

  42. ian (not the ash)

    Joshua (April 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm) said:

    “Jim – when did you stop beating your wife?”

    I see this mentioned now and again, admittedly not always with Jim’s name attached; What the hell does it refer to?? (perhaps an american idiom).

  43. David Wojik

    Yeah. Improvement of energy efficiency effectively means improving the wealth generation (or GDP) per unit of energy consumed at the macro level.

    This has been an on-going process driven by the profit motive in the developed economies (EU, Japan, USA, etc.), who are way ahead of the large developing economies (China, India, Brazil, etc.) in this regard. This concept makes good sense and the GDP growth has historically outpaced growth in energy consumption worldwide.

    The energy “conservation” concept promoted, for example, by ex-IPCC spokesman Yvo deBoer) simply means reducing energy consumption at the same time reducing wealth (or GDP). This is a poor concept, which makes no sense at all. As a result, it will never catch on, despite the many groups that are trying to promote it.

    But you are right that some individuals, corporations, money shufflers and lobby groups will gain financially from this multi-trillion dollar taxpayer-funded bubble as long as it lasts.

    Despite all the momentum it had gained prior to Climategate etc., I personally give it a maximum of another 10 years of agonizingly slow death before it is finally finished for good.

    And there will undoubtedly be another fad to replace it (and people lined up at the trough to catch a piece of the action).

    Max

    • John Carpenter

      “Despite all the momentum it had gained prior to Climategate etc., I personally give it a maximum of another 10 years of agonizingly slow death before it is finally finished for good.”

      I assume “it” is CAGW hysteria?

      Interesting… we see the UN scrambling to move the goal posts down the field another 10 years for the 50 million climate refugees that never appeared last year while Max has predicted the end of climate hysteria over the same time period….. Which way will it go? Which way will it go?

  44. I just have to shake my head in disbelief at this kind of stuff:

    In its new Shanghai carpet factory, Interface redesigned their process for pumping liquids by using fatter-than-usual pipes, which created less friction than thin pipes do. The move cut power requirements by 92%. The new system also cost less to build, involved no new technology, and worked better than traditional systems in all respects.

    As if this was some new epiphany that larger diameter (I think that’s what “fatter” means) has less dynamic pressure drop, and that saves energy if you’re just pumping liquids in a circle (note that this won’t work if you’re pumping up hill, for example).

    Do these people really think that piping designers are that stupid, and it never occurs them that bigger pipes use less energy? Maybe they should talk to a sewage conveyance engineer about the complexities of variable speed centrifugal pump systems, and then see if they still think people who work with this stuff are the dolts that they obviously take them for being.

    These quotes from the book are just astonishing.

    • ChE –
      Keep in mind those words – fatter-than-usual pipes and thin pipes .

      Which means they don’t know the word diameter.

      What kind of writer makes that kind of elementary mistake?

      • Actually, you guys are missing the value of green engineering. The Gates Foundation Video in this link shows how “fatter” pipes reduce pump flex, significantly reducing manpower requirements.

        http://www.farmingfirst.org/2009/10/walking-on-water-low-cost-treadle-pumps-help-indian-farmers/

        You have to think Green guys.

      • Good one, Dallas. Reminds me of something similar that’s being used in Africa to provide water to villages. But that was a hand pump. And there’s another one that uses a bicycle frame/drive.

        Just think – for the cost of the Cancun party, probably a million more people could have had more/better water in their lives. ;-)

      • Oy gevalt.

        In an innovative promotional campaign, IDE shares this knowledge with farmers by bringing movie screens into rural communities in the back of a van. Farmers are incentivised to watch a short presentation about the treadle water pumps by the promise of a free movie feature which is aired after the presentation finishes.

        Yes, the Great White God bears gifts, little brown person. But first you must pay tribute.

      • There you go again, getting all rational. Its for the greater good! Now had the Feature Films been, “An Inconvienient Truth” followed by “The China Syndrome”? :) I am sure the feature was apolitical fluff, with no kissing of course.

      • I read that and all I can think about is Gunga Din (the movie).

      • Just start calling them “obese”. That’ll turn people off them. ;-)

  45. Charles Higley

    There are no sound principles involved in fundamentally redesigning an economy to suit false principles and a false crisis. These books say that bank robbing is profitable, so why don’t we all get into bank robbing. If there’s a good scam out there, everybody should not resist the scam but embrace it and get in on the ill-gotten profits.

    We are looking at the immoral and seeing pure evil here.

  46. The more I think about this, I think it is a complete waste of time.
    The hubris that we are going to have a class of business people who actually make money off of managing the climate by way of CO2 is simply amazing.

    • This is a business “self-help” book, so hubris is the genre. How to make a fortune in X. One takes a trend, blows it out of proportion, then urges people to jump in board. The shelves are full of these. In this case the irony is that the AGW scare is the scientific equivalent.

      But this is not a new game — sell the scare then sell the cure. How about a government agency that regulates the traffic in scares? Just kidding, sort of. Fads are part of the human condition.

  47. I find the subject of natural capitalism and sustainability to be most interesting, for it seems that any economic system must be sustainable in the long-term, and in order to be such, it must follow the natural laws and cycles of the ecosystems of the earth. Furthermore, it seems that the current paradigm that is central to what we might called classic capitalism is that of never ending growth, whereas in nature, it would seem that all natural systems grow to a point of maturity and then maintain themselves, and growth beyond maturity leads to sickness as in obesity and cancer (both of which are related by the way).

    • I find the concept of sustainability to be incoherent. It is a political concept, not a scientific concept. As such it has no operational definition, for if it had one it would immediately lose its political value.

      • Sustainability only a “political” concept? Nonsense. The concept of the carrying capacity of any given ecosystem is quite scientific where a balance exists between the numbers of species an ecosystem can support. This balance is dictated by the balance of energy cycling through the environment. Normally or naturally, that balance of energy is dictated by available sunlight in any given year of growth. Humans, being the rather clever animals that we are have managed to build civilization primarily by borrowing sunlight from past years…i.e. fossil fuels. If fossil fuels were infinite in abundance here on earth, you could say that their use would be sustainable, but of course they are limited. More importantly however, is the amount of entropy created by fossil fuel use. Any ecosystem can only generate so much entropy each natural season. The use of fossil fuels creates far more entropy than is supportable or “sustainable” in the long-term, thus the term “sustainability” is both important and accurate in a biological sense and from a energy use/entropy creation perspective.

      • Entropy is one of the most misused concepts, and here we have a clear example. The growth of entropy does not add anything to the understanding problems of fossil fuels, it is just a very generic way expressing something about the same issues that are much more clear in other more direct terms. In this case it tells about the heat that is directly released in energy production and that is well known to be a very minor issue.

        Fossil fuels affect sustainability directly through their limited availability, through well known environmental effects of their production and use, and through climate change. Entropy tells absolutely nothing more.

      • No, but it sounds hip.

      • Respectfully, I disagree. Entropy tells us a great deal about the health and sustainability of a given ecosystem. The difficulty arises in accurately measuring entropy and fully appreciating it in its various forms. Fortunately, a person smarter than you or I recognized the close relationship between life and entropy and that would be Erwin Schrodinger, who coined the phrase “negative entropy” when talking about the life process. I would direct the open minded reader to these pages:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negentropy

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_and_life

        http://aztec.ms.northwestern.edu/~prateek/download/TermPaperEntropy.pdf

        http://matteopasquinelli.com/docs/Pasquinelli_Introducing_Four_Regimes_of_Entropy.pdf

        http://jayhanson.us/page150.htm

        But your quote I find most illuminating in terms of your overall perspective:

        “Fossil fuels affect sustainability directly through their limited availability, through well known environmental effects of their production and use, and through climate change. Entropy tells absolutely nothing more.”

        I would actually flip your statement around completely, seeing the measurement of entropy in an ecosystem as key and vital to measurement of the health of that system as life processes create negative entropy for each organism, and in doing so, create an increase in entropy in the environment. But here is the vital point- the increase in entropy in the environment outside the organism must only be to a point, or the ecosystem collapses and so too, the support system for the organism. Thus, the sustainability of any system (economic or biological) must be seen in the balance of entropy and negative entropy created as the flow of energy is directed by that system. Hence, a lion must only kill a certain number of gazelles (creating entropy for the unlucky gazelle) but must not kill and eat all the gazelles, or the lion itself would be threatened. Humans certainly must eat to0, and so we harvest grain to make bread but we must not eat the seed for the next season, etc. Thus, it is the balance of entropy and negative entropy that can be see as vital to understanding sustainability of any system.

      • My point is not that entropy would not change as you describe. My point is that entropy tells only very little on any of those processes and that we know already much more before we can calculate the entropy change. The additional information is case dependent, but its information content is hugely larger than that of entropy alone.

        Entropy is of no practical value even as a single summary number. A summary number that represents only 1% of the information from which is is calculated is not of much use. We should much more of the remaining 99% to have useful knowledge.

        Your examples are good cases in point: How much of the information you provide is presented by the entropy change, and how do you formulate wise agricultural policy using entropy as a guideline? Or how much in common have different examples that involve an equal change in entropy?

    • that any economic system must be sustainable

      Name the 5 largest corporations that existed in the year 1900.
      Then name their primary product in 1900 and their primary product today.

      Maine used to be known as vacation land, then someone invented air conditioning and instead of vacationing in Maine in the summer people switched to vacationing in Florida in the winter.

      Free markets are about adaptation. There aren’t any businesses with 100 year plans. Even if they made 100 year plans the plan would change every few years.

      The entire ‘climate debate’ is filled with people who believe we can and should plan for 100 years from now.

      They say things like ‘business as usual’ will result in so much coal being burned in the year 2100.

      ‘Business as usual’ doesn’t dictate how much coal will be burned in a given year anymore then ‘business as usual’ dictates how many hoola-hoops or buggy whips will be sold in a given year.

      One of the most ‘sustainable’ businesses in the US is Minnesota Mining and Minerals. Of course if the founders of Minnesota Mining and Minerals had even a remote clue as to the nature of the companies business in 100 years they probably would have chosen a different name.

    • You don’t understand the key to free exchange. When two parties freely make an exchange, value is produced. Otherwise, the exchange doesn’t happen. To repeat, every time an exchange takes place both parties are better off and the world is richer.

      There are similarities to the growth in knowledge. There is no reason to think that mankind should become less knowledgeable and no reason to think that people will stop trading with each other.

      • Unless of course there is an unpriced externality to the exchange. The world may still be richer from the exchange, but somebody other than the two parties to the exchange is poorer (this is kind of like stealing from them). And if the loss is greater than the gain to the traders, the world is actually poorer.

      • Unpriced externalities can also confer benefits. But then there is the issue of free-riders and potential undersupply.

        In principle, removing air from the commons and a potential tragedy thereof, is a worthy goal. But how to do it in practice, efficiently ?

      • Your first point is of course absolutely correct. When I contract with a painter to paint my house, my neighbors’ property values go up.

        It would be an interesting exercise to actually try to calculate the positive externalities from GHG emissions. Clearly the intuition of many people who think that the benefits of fossil fuel use outweigh the downside, even if they accept mainstream science, are that the positive externalities are substantial. Richard Tol calculates that some warming will have benefits; but that’s just the positive externality from the GHG emissions themselves, not from the gazillions of fossil-fuel-burning “transactions” (activities) themselves.

        Your second point – by “removing air from the commons” do you mean regulating the use of the atmosphere as a sink for wastes? The options are well known. Whether they’re efficient, or efficient enough, is of course widely debated.

      • It would be an interesting exercise to actually try to calculate the positive externalities from GHG emissions.

        Perhaps. I think though the more significant issue will be how much poorer the world would become if forced off fossil fuel to more expensive and inconvenient alternatives.
        Just how much more money will we be spending on energy ? 2x as much? 3x? 5x? 10x? 20x? …?
        And how much less convenient? Stop the every 100 miles for recharging, and wait an hour while it ‘fills up’?
        What are the figures?

        – by “removing air from the commons” do you mean regulating the use of the atmosphere as a sink for wastes? The options are well known. Whether they’re efficient, or efficient enough, is of course widely debated.

        Well if we can’t find a rational way pricing CO2 emissions nothing will ever be done. Certainly any state regulation would just be arbitrary.

      • Many common estimates put the “cost” of stabilizing CO2 concentrations in the realm of 1-3% of GDP, depending of course on the stabilization target but on other assumptions as well.

        That is hardly the end of the world as we know it.

        Even a 10% decrease in GDP would take us back only to, say, the global GDP levels of 2005, when as everyone knows we were suffering from catastrophically lower levels of consumer electronics.

        I’m sure I’m not going to be the first person on this blog to say “in a world growing at 2% annually, a 4% decrease in GDP is only getting twice as rich 2 years later.”

      • Paul,
        These cost estimates are something that I cannot understand at all, when they are given for emission paths that cannot be obtained with any known or foreseeable development without a really dramatic change in, how we all live. Claiming that it’s possible to estimate the cost of stabilization to a level that requires 80% reductions in the emissions of industrial countries combined with a very limited growth in countries like China appears to me totally unjustified.

        That would be a world very different from where we are or where we are heading without a very strong climate policy, it’s far too different for being described to any level of accuracy, and even more distant for an cost analysis.

        The govenrment of Finland commissioned scenario work to describe four alternative scenarios of that nature for 2050. None of the scenarios can be stated to be attainable with any certainty as all include something totally unknown. They are also extremely different, not a list to choose from, but for alternatives covering a part of the range of paths, one of which we may be forced to follow. The expressed attitude of the reports was optimistic and might be interpreted to tell that we can just choose the favorite scenario, but this interpretation is without proper justification.

        The report has been published also in English

        http://www.vnk.fi/julkaisut/listaus/julkaisu/fi.jsp?oid=273275

      • Well: the cost of CO2 mitigation is certainly a big can of worms.

        You seem to have at least two different points:
        1) There is no reason to have confidence in predictions of costs for a multi-decadal transition involving such dramatic (“non-marginal” in economic terms) changes
        2) Existing pathways to low emissions targets require “magic” in the sense that they depend on things we don’t currently have. So how can you put ANY cost estimate on something you don’t know can actually be done?

        To be frank I’m not a huge fan of the kinds of models from which such cost-projections are typically made. But many of the assumptions they rely on tend (in my opinion) to increase modeled costs, rather than decrease them, so it’s not obvious that the bias is towards underestimating costs.

        Obviously you’ve looked at some of the examples quite specifically. I downloaded the Finnish study and look forward to an opportunity to read it.

        There are a whole set of questions that arise, then, in terms of what can be meaningfully said about “costs” in this context. I’ll be interested in hearing more about what you think is plausible in this regard.

      • Paul Baer: … Existing pathways to low emissions targets require “magic” in the sense that they depend on things we don’t currently have. So how can you put ANY cost estimate on something you don’t know can actually be done?

        Exactly. But in the eyes of truebelievers in the political and climate science establishments, both such magic and its costs are routinely just assumed and pooh-poohed without batting en eyelid.

      • It all stems from childlike belief in the movie Energy Field of Dreams, where the Kevin Costner character says something like “If you fund it, it will come”.

      • Paul,
        Uncertainties apply to all factors being considered and they are mostly symmetrical enough to make statements on their direction weakly justified. There are certainly many examples, where the actual costs have been much less than estimated even a few years before the implementation. Reductions of the emissions ending up as sulphates in the atmosphere and acid to the lakes and ground is a prime example, other well known examples apply to environmental and safety requirements on cars, as well as to the ozone hole.

        How far this can be extended to CO2 is not obvious. A modest reduction of 10-20% below business-as-usual over a time span of 20 years, would likely be less costly than present techno-economic estimates tell, but the strict goals go much further. There is very much technological optimism built in, when such goals are considered achievable at any cost. It appears impossible to tell, how the goals would finally be reached.

        Changes of this magnitude must always be done in a way consistent with political decision making. Telling people, how they must modify their way of life, may become politically even more difficult than the present arguments on climate policy. Economic incentives are not likely to lead to their stated goals. None of the ambitious scenarios is even close to being based on a real plan or solutions known to be available in time – if ever. Many things have changed over last 40 years (the time remaining to 2050), but the changes have not been those foreseen. Traditional industrial processes and energy technologies have developed only modestly. Microelectronics is the source of much of the change. It has added to what we had before, but it hasn’t replaced as much from earlier material economy.

        I switched from theoretical physics to energy issues in 1980, when the oil crisis was just behind and research initiated by the crisis started to produce results. My early tasks involved activities related to presenting in Finland the results of a extensive energy system analysis project of IIASA (summarized in the book “Energy in a Finite World”). The conclusion of the project was that rapid changes are needed, but almost nothing got done. The aftermath of the oil crisis and the economic turmoil of 1990′s helped to make a break in the growth of energy consumption, but the growth has resumed at a slower pace led by development in China.

        Now we have again the same problems, we thought we had already in the 1980′s. Some may think that they are not more actual now than they turned to be after 1980. This is not my interpretation, but the lack of major improvements during the 30 years is frightening. It seems to be really difficult to develop major improvements in the energy solutions. The next 30 or 40 years may lead to as little development as the previous ones. That is the real problem.

      • Many common estimates put the “cost” of stabilizing CO2 concentrations in the realm of 1-3% of GDP

        Based on …. windmills?
        And published by … some advocacy group like the the WWF or IPCC or government regulatory agency ?

  48. Going by the Amazon blurb, Climate Capitalism purports to show that energy efficiency and renewable resources are already driving prosperity.

    Efficiency – energy or otherwise – drives prosperity and (real) jobs, of course. But renewables drive efficiency? Only if renewables are efficient. In which case they’ll anyway be picked up and adopted in the general drive for efficiency/profits. No need for a “renewables” mantra.

    IOW, the book’s fundamantal premise is utterly vaccuous.

    Worse, tacking renweables onto efficiency’s coattails like that, is downright dishonest.

  49. As alluded to by Paul Baer, if the use of natural resources is not priced, inefficiency in their use is likely to follow, in this case in the form of unpriced ‘dumping’ of CO2.

    The problem is, we have no real idea what if anything the real impact of all this CO2 is, since the ‘science’ that claiming it is serious, is riddled with fraud and advcoacy on behalf of its sole funder the state, and those seeking its greater glory. A problem that those in the latter category actually see as a benefit.

  50. Eric Ollivet

    You in the US should be more than any others aware that Climate Capitalism is no more than another speculative bubble that will surely explode in the coming years, just as Internet & Sub-primes bubbles did before.

    No discussion that there is noticeable improvement needed w.r.t the efficiency of production processes. No discussion also that alternative energy supply resources should be developed, PROVIDED THEIR EFFICIENCY IS REALLY DEMONSTRATED.

    Unfortunately this is not often the case. For instance, Germany has invested significant amounts of money in solar and wind farms. But as the efficiency of those alternative resources is dramatically poor, at least in most of western European countries (which is probably not the case in the US where space, wind and solar resources are significantly higher), the bottom line of the whole story is that Germany has also become the biggest CO2 producer in Europe ! As Germany refused to build any new nuclear power plant, they had to build many gas and fuels facilities to compensate their deficiency in energy production…

    Actually Climate Capitalism is mainly based on cape & trade market. There is no innovation at all. This is no more than a speculative market where people sell or buy rights to produce CO2… Sometimes making a lot of money as Al Gore did. This market is moreover biased as dumped by federal regulations that are diametrically opposed to the spirit of capitalism. The damages of the forthcoming crack will be all the more devastating that this entire nice edifice has been built on the rotten piles of a junk (AGW) science.

    As most developed countries forgot, basing their economy on trade and services rather than on agriculture and industry (i.e. productive activities), economic development remains tightly correlated with energy consumption. That’s the main capitalist’s lesson that China has well learnt, and that’s the reason why our economies fail providing jobs, wealth and development.

    Even if the efficiency of this energy consumption needs improvement, and if alternative resources are to be developed, cutting CO2 production, i.e. energy consumption, by a factor 2 or even 4 as requested by AGW proponents during last Copenhagen meeting, is the surest way to rush our countries into an infernal spiral of economic decline. Its impact would be much more dramatic that 1 or 2°C more.

    • Nail, hit, head, Eric.

    • “Germany has also become the biggest CO2 producer in Europe !”
      Russia is the largest producer of CO2 in Europe. Germany has the biggest population in the EU, is the biggest exporter of goods in Europe, has a colder winter climate than France Italy and Spain, so has, in total a higher energy demands than any other EU country. Lets talk per capita CO2 – for all its nuclear, France produces about the same CO2 level as Germany when adjusted for net exports.

      http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

      • Eric Ollivet

        @ Paul Haynes

        As far as I know, Russia is not part of EU.
        And you probably need a closer look to the figures.

        CO2 emissions per year :
        (1) China: 6 071 MTC = 4,5 T per capita (20,9% of total emissions)
        (2) US: 5 769 MTC = 19,1 T per capita (19,9% of total emissions)
        (3) Russia: 1 587 MTC = 11,2 T per capita (5,4% of total emissions)
        (4) India: 1 324 MTC = 1,1 T per capita (4,5% of total emissions)
        (5) Japan: 1 236 MTC = 9,6 T per capita (4,2% of total emissions)
        (6) Germany: 798 MTC = 9,7 T per capita (2,7% of total emissions)
        (7) Canada: 573 MTC = 17,3 T per capita (1,9% of total emissions)
        (8) UK: 523 MTC = 8,6 T per capita (1,8% of total emissions)

        (15) France: 369 MTC = 5,8 T per capita (1,2% of total emissions)
        (MTC for millions metric tons of CO2)

        Thanks to nuclear plants that are producing 76% of its electrical energy, France has the smallest CO2 production rate per capita of EU and more generally of all developped countries.

  51. It is often the case that there is a lot (or a little) truth to every lie. The hard part is recognizing the lie(s). To the extent that the authors give you something to take to the bank, use it. To the extent that they are pushing a lie so they can take you to the bank, beware, they just might do it.

    Is there anything to the idea that some things we (the World) are doing now can and will be done better, and the wise investor will make money if they get in on the ground floor, ahhhhh… yes! But isn’t this always true?

    There may be $1.00 worth of truth to the cost of $29.99 to buy the book. (But usually the Amazon writeup –or a blog discussion– will give you that for free;-) “Caveat Emptor!” as they say in Mexico.

  52. Over at slashdot.org the is an article about the UN 2005 prediction of 50000 climate refugees in 2010. Doomsayers always fail in the end

  53. If you take a look at the Hotel Industry, you will find an example of “Green Business”.  On the bathroom counter in most nationaly branded hotels sits a tent card asking you to “Help Save the Planet” by re-using your towels. Many hotels also have a notice by the bed saying they no longer change bed linens every day for the same guest and require you to call if you must have yours changed every day during your stay. Even more intrusive are those who have installed motion sensors which will override your desired thermostat setting if you happen to leave the room for a while. 
    None of these profit increasing schemes would ever have been attempted prior to CAGW as they are clearly a downgrade in level of service for a “service industry”. 
    I am unaware of an Innkeeper ever reducing the room rate in connection with any of the above.
    Now that’s ‘Climate Capitalism!’ 
    Cheers
    Big Dave

  54. My problem with the whole idea is that people will be forced to participate in the ‘industries,’ either by government subsidies or legal limitations aimed at at ‘changing behaviors.’ That is not capitalism, it is fascism.

    • You’re absolutely richtig. Psyentists do seem to like well organized, neat, clean, green social systems, but I just could never figure out their love for Wagner or Goose Stepping. They do like to make trains run on time, that’s a plus. If you ride on a train. Does it still matter if you’re not blue-eyed and blond?

  55. Carbon markets will reduce CO2 generation and improve the environment in exactly the same proportion that selling indulgences reduced sin and increased overall holiness in the 15th & 16th Centuries.

    Zilch.

    Really, the two compare so closely it is scary. Pay someone else to be really good so that the overall goodness will somehow negate the rest of the badness. Surely nobody would only pretend to be good to reap the rewards.

    Scam. Scam. Scam. Scam. Scam.

    For anyone who actually believes carbon taxes and trading will do anything other than transfer wealth from gullible fools and those with no choice in the matter, please email me. I am trying to sell Auckland Harbour Bridge for a very good price…….

  56. Van Jones is on the list?
    Van Jones is to capitalism what Lysenko was to biology.
    Actually, Van Jones is to anything good for people what Lysenko was to biology.

  57. There’s no sign yet of peak irony or peak hypocrisy. They both seem limitless.

  58. Tomas Milanovic

    The title of this book is an oxymoron and the extracts I read (I don’t intend to encourage the authors by giving them money) confirm this diagnostic .

    It tries to establish a link between the economical activity (business) and an ideology (environmentalism) with the aim to establish that not only there is no contradiction but that this particular ideology is in the heart of the economical activity.

    It fails dramatically because while the authors are apparently experts in environmentalist ideology , they understand nothing about business.
    Several posters already clearly explained what they are doing and why.

    The authors have correctly understood that the biggest ennemy to the ideology they obviously favor is that it is inconsistent with the economical activity as we have known it for several thousands of years .
    And because the 7 billions of people (minus Greenpeace & Co) have observed that the economical process known as “capitalism” made our lives longer, healthier and more pleasant than what it was 3000 or 200 years ago, it is a very bad idea to sell an ideology which opposes a process which has brought all this.

    If you can’t beat them, join them.
    This is a well known marketing trick, hire useful idiots in the opposing camp.
    Make them create and repete the notion that every capitalist should ardently desire environmentalism because it is JUST what he needs to be more efficient in poursuing his own purely capitalistic targets.
    The hope here is to create sufficient confusion so that people will stop seeing sharp differences and oppositions thus allowing passively or actively the viral expansion of the ideology even in the intrinsically hostile the hostile body of economics.

    Of course once you show to the people how the trick works, they won’t fall for it a second time.
    What is the essence of capitalism?
    Only 3 principles, 2 trivial and 1 more complicated.
    1) Sell a maximum
    2) Cut the costs to a minimum
    This principles is so general that it works for individuals as well as for the huge multinationals.
    It worked thousands of years ago and it works today.
    It is thanks to these 2 principles that we have known progress because they perpetually challenge human imagination and reward success by better life.
    3)Do it for a sufficiently long time to pay back debts.

    This is where the word “capitalism” comes from – when you want to create an economical activity you need ressources that cost money you don’t have. The capital is a debt and one needs time to pay it back.
    It is here that the green subtly, well not so subtly, introduce the confusion.

    One school will imply that this time is infinite and so appears “sustainability”.
    But clearly this is absurd, there is no need for any particular business to last an infinite time.
    Nobody creating a business has for target to last for infinite time. Enough time to pay back debts, that yes but not necessarily much longer. The lessons of the past teach that the visibility for businesses is bounded anyway. This is where is grounded all the economical theory and practice of profitable investment.

    A second school will imply that natural ressources are a debt.
    If you burn a tree, you have to plant a tree. If you emit CO2, you have to remove CO2. Etc.
    However this is clearly ideology and not economy. The whole Universe is there to be taken by sentient beings. If we need to mine Helium3 on Jupiter, then we’ll take it. There is no obligation to put it back.
    Beside it would be deeply absurd because if nothing ever changes but entropy, there is no creation of added value.
    In Europe we have totally removed (almost) all forests because we had better use for the wood and the land. This is irreversible and unless we return to the conditions of the 6th century , there will never be so many forests as in the 6th century. Considering that there were only a couple of millions people in the 6th century with no mechanical transportation means, one sees what it takes if one considers that the wooded surface should be a universal “invariant”.

    As for the first 2 principles, it is simple. The environmentalism is always in a radical opposition with one or both of them.
    ANY genuinely “green” measure decreases sales and/or costs more.
    Energy savings would you say? But this is no genuinely “green” measure.
    Energy is just one of many costs that every capitalist has been decreasing for centuries. And if the energy price increases, the incentive to save energy increases too. It works all alone, no need of greens for that.

    On the other hand I take an exeample of a genuine green measure that is little known but which bears a startling similitude to the climate debate.
    The decrease of SO2 emissions in gasoline from 100 ppm (part per million) to 10 ppm.
    The argument is that the SO2 is bad for health. This can’t be disputed, it is.
    The consequence is that refineries have to invest billions of € in hydrogenation. So it increases costs while not increasing sales , violating the capitalist principles 1) and 2). So the consumers will have to pay.
    But why ? Why 10 ppm and not 1ppm ? After all less is always “better” … And what about gasoline produced in countries where they don’t have these new green costs? How to compete with that?

    Surely as we live in a rational world, you would think that there have been studies. Supercomputers churning models saying how much we will live better with 10 rather than 100. Measurable results worth the billions of added costs. Parlementary commissions verifying the efficiency of the measure. Media publishing articles. Scientists arguing statistics.
    Does one live better in Greece with 10 ppm than in the USA with 50 ppm? What is the balance costs/benefits?

    Well no. Nothing of the above!
    All this has nothing at all to do with capitalism, only with ideology.
    You and me are expected to just pay, tug the forelock if meeting a green and shut up.
    And if you don’t shut up, Germany begins to explore some … “original” measures.
    Special exception laws which would allow to put on trial anybody having non approved opinions about climate models or ppm sulphur in gasoline.
    And no, this is not meant as a bad taste joke by the Masters.

    Silence – here is the planet saving in progress!

    • We use only about a millionth of the sun’s energy which reaches earth to sustain the human race. A tiny increase in efficiency of that use will sustain many times more humans than is currently sustained, and at a much higher standard of living.

      The Neo-Malthusians lack imagination. But why does the whole human race have to suffer for their disabilities?
      ================

      • andrew adams

        We use only about a millionth of the sun’s energy which reaches earth to sustain the human race. A tiny increase in efficiency of that use will sustain many times more humans than is currently sustained, and at a much higher standard of living.

        Well it’s certainly an attractive thought, I hope you are right. Of course that somewhat puts the alarmist predictions about the catastrophic consequences of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels into perspective.

    • Excellent post, Tomas. It’s plain, simple commonsense to anybody in the real world. Why’s the climate science world so far removed from reality?

    • andrew adams

      Well there’s plenty there I could argue with but I’ll just stick to a couple of points.

      A second school will imply that natural ressources are a debt.
      If you burn a tree, you have to plant a tree. If you emit CO2, you have to remove CO2. Etc.

      But if you burn all of the trees without replacing them you will eventually run out of trees. Which is not much good for capitalists whose business depends on having trees to burn, those who want to use their products and those who derive wider benefits from there being plenty of trees.

      Surely as we live in a rational world, you would think that there have been studies. Supercomputers churning models saying how much we will live better with 10 rather than 100. Measurable results worth the billions of added costs. Parlementary commissions verifying the efficiency of the measure. Media publishing articles. Scientists arguing statistics.

      Well there’s plenty of quite detailed information here about the benefits of reduced SO2 levels.

      http://www.epa.gov/ttn/ecas/regdata/RIAs/pso2ch5_11-16-09.pdf

      The consequence is that refineries have to invest billions of € in hydrogenation. So it increases costs while not increasing sales , violating the capitalist principles 1) and 2). So the consumers will have to pay.

      So what? Are the capitalist principles set in stone? They are certainly not the only principles which govern how our society operates. Capitalism has to serve society not the other way round.

      All this has nothing at all to do with capitalism, only with ideology.

      It is to do with the benefits of having less SO2 in the atmosphere and businesses having to pay for externalities. The notion that these considerations should be subordinate to the interests of capitalism it itself highly idealogical.

  59. I am all for free market capitalism. Where I have a problem is when the government wants to provide subsidies to people who are developing technologies that otherwise would not survive or when the government wants to impose regulations without an adequate scientific basis.
    If the goals of environmentalism are aligned with the best interests of businesses, that is great. We just need to sit back and let free markets work and everything will work out fine. I suspect, however, that is not what the authors of this book had in mind. They want government intervention to encourage businesses to adopt green technologies. I oppose that.

  60. If one believes that economic health and sustainability is directly related to the health and sustainbility of the the environment, then this article on farming and conservation would be of interest:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028085.100-conservation-and-farming-must-learn-to-live-together.html

    • R. Gates,
      From the desertification of the mideast to the Mayan problems to the Dust Bowl to the Soviet era destruction of the Aral sea, this has been true.
      What is the point?

    • The point of the article is:

      “MILLIONS of people in Africa live in unremitting poverty and hunger.”

      The question(s) in regards to this issue, there seems to be multiple potential responses both by those who helped create the problem and those who have observed the problem.

  61. In my experience reading climate blogs and talking with people who believe in AGW, it is striking to me how many know and understand so little about economics. This goes especially for climate scientists. “Government needs to do it…” But none seem to appreciate that “government” is nothing more than police power; and, as our founders well appreciated, one must be very, very careful how much government you have because the amount of government, beyond a certain minimal amount, is absolutely proportional to the amount of coercion in society — i.e., lack of freedom. But, then, most climate scientists are paid by government directly or indirectly. Do they realize they are being paid because, at the point of a gun, I am paying their salary? Would I do so if the gun were not pointed at me? Maybe, maybe not; but I do not have a choice!

    Next, any economic system must reside in the context of a political system. One role of a political system is to determine what is acceptable economic activity and what is not. And, one most important choice the political system gets to make is to identify and price externalities in ways that avoid the tragedy of the commons and minimize free-riders. Air and water pollution are excellent examples. Biological resources: fish and timber are other excellent examples. Non-biological resources are a somewhat different “animal,” and do not require them same attention by government that biological resources require (I will not delve into the rationale for this distinction, although it is one I have not seen examined even though it is an important consideration).

    Therefore, taxing or regulating CO2 could be a legitimate action for government. However, counter-balancing those who would hand-wave “precautionary principle” is a dictum that scientists should understand: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” It is an extraordinary claim by many (maybe the vast majority of) climate scientists that their science shows mankind must take drastic action, through government (i.e., police), to “save itself.”

    But, because climate scientists are to a great extent clueless about economics (which, as I will show, has more fundamental ramifications than even this one), they have no insight that choices to regulate externalities always have costs to economic activity — that there is no free lunch, which this book and most climate scientists do not appear to appreciate.

    Think what one might about Karl Marx, he had brilliant insights into some aspects of economic activity, being the equal of Milton and Rose Friedman in that regard. Specifically, consider his insight regarding the role of “class consciousness” (how one’s Weltanschauung is driven by one’s source of income). Climate scientists, because of who pays them — remember, it’s the police (aka: government), inevitably will want to lock you up or take your money at gunpoint if you do not do what their science says you should do. That’s what we create government (i.e., hire police) to do, by the way: use force to take people out of society who do not play by the rules. That’s their raison d’etre. That’s why our founding fathers regarded government with such distrust: they knew that, by its nature, it must and will grow to restrict freedom over time because that is its only and inherent purpose. And, all biological/ social things things seek to increase the dominion of their purpose.

    Most climate scientists not only do not have any understanding of the fundamentals of economic activity as clearly explained by Marx and the Friedman’s (forget Keynes, he was a government shill; remember: class consciousness), they do not appreciate that their very consciousness is based on the fact that they work for the police, as all government employees do.

    Let me be blunt: climate scientists have no choice but to find an AGW signal and to claim its horrible implications for mankind because if they did not, they would have no use to their employer, funding would dry up, and they would be not only out of a job, but would have little means to support themselves as most would have few otherwise marketable skills.

    None of this is conscious, as Marx clearly explained, although one can rise above one’s false consciousness, it is not easy.

    Judith’s pointing to the book that started this thread as, I think, an effort to explore “green economics” (?) simply makes my point. I really appreciate her brave efforts with this blog to explore the scientific, social, political, and economic context of her science. I desperately hope she, and her graduate students, learn some important lessons from the many amazingly well-educated, experienced, thoughtful commenters she has attracted.

    I, for one, understand the basics of radiative physics, but am skeptical that climate research has conclusively proven that net water vapor effects are not significantly off-setting or that no other physical dynamics that offset the warming that CO2/ H2O should otherwise have. To me, most climate scientists suffer from false class consciousness that has a negative feedback effect on the integrity of their science.

    Judith’s blog is a welcome effort by one climate scientist to rise above her class. Bravo!

    • JP thank you for this comment. Are you interested in doing a post on the “class consciousness” angle?

      • andrew adams

        Seriously? You want to give a guest post to someone who says things like

        Climate scientists, because of who pays them — remember, it’s the police (aka: government), inevitably will want to lock you up or take your money at gunpoint if you do not do what their science says you should do. That’s what we create government (i.e., hire police) to do, by the way: use force to take people out of society who do not play by the rules.

        and

        Let me be blunt: climate scientists have no choice but to find an AGW signal and to claim its horrible implications for mankind because if they did not, they would have no use to their employer, funding would dry up, and they would be not only out of a job, but would have little means to support themselves as most would have few otherwise marketable skills.

        and who bemoans others lack of knowlege of economics whilst dismissing the greatest economist of the 20th Century as a “government shill”?

      • If you have been hanging out here for awhile, you will realize that I invite guest posters based upon their potential to provide a provocative and interesting post (I am not interested in an echo chamber). JP might be the source of such a post. I do not necessarily approve all posts submitted or invited, and typically work the poster on clarity, etc. So we’ll see.

      • andrew adams

        Sure, it’s your blog, you are entitled to invite any one you like to provide a guest post. But there are plenty of “provocative” posts on the subject of climate change on the internet – if you want that you could ask James Delingpole.
        Whether something is interesting or insightful is another question altogether. As you say, I guess we’ll see…

      • Gosh, Judy, thanks for the invitation, it’s flattering. It has been 35 years since I participated in “Science, Marxism, and Public Policy” taught by Donald T. Campbell and Augie Feldman. Brilliant gentlemen. I wish I had the scholarship to do justice to the notion of (false) class consciousness in science beyond the superficial treatment in my comment. I’m also a 24/7 entrepreneur right now and use Climate Etc. as a way get away from work, and don’t know how I’d find the hours needed to brush up on my Durkheim, Lukacs, Marx, etc. I so wish I could take you up on your offer, but this blog deserves better than what I could offer right now.

        My comment was not meant to be a criticism of climate scientists. Being trapped in one’s world view as a result of one’s economic station, which is not easily changed, is key to Marx’s insight, and is something everyone suffers from (to one degree or another — some do rise above their false class consciousness to see the “objective reality” of their economic situation and its impact on their world-view/ self-view).

        Actually, there is a “double-barrelled” threat to the consciousness (i.e., world-view) of climate scientists:
        (1) false class consciousness, based on the economic context within which most climate scientists operate,
        (2) noble cause corruption, in that many (most?) climate scientists choose their life’s work on the belief they will be doing something very important and very good for mankind with their life’s work.

        Staking one’s economic viability and one’s self-identity on a kind of work that must have a particular outcome for either of those two premises to be sustained creates a huge impediment to honest self-criticism: for the individual and for the “class.”

        Of course, if I were a climate scientist who was otherwise independently wealthy and who got into the work only because I thought it was the neatest science because of its empirical and theoretical challenges, not caring at all about its implications for mankind, what would I conclude about the evidence for an AGW signal in the temperature/ heat record? If 1,000 climate scientists with my background existed, what would be our collective opinion on this matter? Would it differ from the consensus view expressed in the IPCC reports?

        That’s what I wonder about. What do you think?

        If you agree with my false class consciousness/ noble cause corruption hypotheses at all, what responsibility do professors like you have in teaching your graduate students? Should you challenge their idealism, pointing out the significant risk they run of allowing their desire to do good to overwhelm their responsibility to be a highly skeptical scientist? Should you help them understand that by being paid (mostly) by government, they risk being manipulated economically? Do you raise their consciousness about the intense cognitive dissonance they will feel when their findings do not easily support an AGW claim? Do you tell them that “big oil” and “corporations” spend little compared to government on the question of what causes climate change and that they risk becoming shills for some group seeking power, whether they psychologically feel so or not, just as much as they may believe those paid by the Heartland Institute or the Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute are?

        Those are the questions Augie and Don raised so many years ago. I wonder what they would think about the enterprise of climate science today?

        But, now I must do my business or my economic viability and my self-identity will be at risk.

        Maybe there is someone else reading with the requisite scholarship to take this one on.

    • I was with you until you said
      “Let me be blunt: climate scientists have no choice but to find an AGW signal and to claim its horrible implications for mankind because if they did not, they would have no use to their employer, funding would dry up, and they would be not only out of a job, but would have little means to support themselves as most would have few otherwise marketable skills.”
      Scientist have both supported and opposed various government ideas, reforms and whatevers, especially those that create a “State of Fear” that would expand thier “police” powers. Still I would be willing to hear more and I hope you take the goood doctor up on her offer.

      • Jeff, I don’t disagree. My comments do sound categorical, but I mean “many” or “most,” certainly not “all.” Yes, there are client scientists, paid by the government, who believe AGW is far from demonstrated. My point is that the economic (and I added in my second note, the psychological) context of climate scientists does create a huge impediment to that class of scientists being as skeptical/ mutually critical as scientists need to be.

        There’s an interesting analogue in medical research. Many go into the field to “cure cancer” and so are at risk of noble cause corruption. But, the nature of that work causes government to also be on the opposite side of that risk. Government gains power by regulating drugs/ therapies. Regulation seeks to challenge scientific findings in medical research. Thus, the medical research scientist’s false consciousness and noble cause corruption risks are countered.

    • “Most climate scientists not only do not have any understanding of the fundamentals of economic activity as clearly explained by Marx and the Friedman’s….”

      Let’s see, Milton Friedman disagreed with Marx on the nature of capital, the nature of markets, human nature, the proper role of government in markets, etc., etc. Friedman believed that capitalism and racism are incompatible, while Marx believed that capitalism inevitably uses racism to raise the “false class consciousness” of white laborers, to further the enslavement of both whites and blacks. (And in each instance, Friedman was right and Marx dead wrong.) If one looked long enough, there are certain tangential issues in economics on which they may have written similar commentary, but they are rare and for the most part unimportant.

      As for Marx’s supposed economic brilliance: “Specifically, consider his insight regarding the role of ‘class consciousness…,’” what utter nonsense. Marx believed that capitalism created the false appearance of freedom (hence the hard core Marxist term “false class consciousness”). While the truly brilliant Milton Friedman held that “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

      In other words, Marx held that “free markets’ created an illusion of prosperity in order to deny worker’s their freedom. While Friedman correctly held that free markets are mankind’s best hope for both.

      In other words, no one who actually finds Friedman to be brilliant and an accurate describer of the fundamentals of economics, can rationally believe the same of Marx.

      Reading further in the above comment, following the infatuation with Marx, we find a trope repeated typically by radical libertarians: “That’s what we create government (i.e., hire police) to do, by the way: use force to take people out of society who do not play by the rules. That’s their raison d’etre.” The police power is just one of the reasons “we create government.” A mere cursory reading of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence would reveal that maintaining freedom, not imprisoning transgressors, was the raison de etre of the founders. Something Friedman got and Marx would never have understood.

      This muddled fusion of marxism and libertarianism, with a feint toward free market capitalism with the dropping of Friedman’s name, brings to mind a number of adjectives, but provocative and interesting are not two of them.

      • GaryM, you missed my point and made it all in one go. Thanks! I was not saying that Marx and the Friedmans have the same ideas about economics. Quite the contrary, as I think is obvious (as you point out). My point was that Marx had some very useful insights into economics, and false class consciousness is one that even those pursuaded by free-market capitalism can use to good analytical purpose without contradicting their free-market beliefs.

        Just so you know, I am not at all a believer in Marx’s economic vision. I am a strong believer in the Friedmans’ position on what makes for a just and economically healthy society.

        Still, some of Marx’s insights are very useful and need not be rejected wholesale by those who believe free-market capitalism is superior to Marx’s economic prescriptions. My opinion is that Marx was a brilliant analyst of economic activity, but a terrible economic/ social policy theorist.

        To your last point: I agree the Founding Fathers prized freedom above all, but if that’s all they were interested in, why didn’t they say, “Let’s have no government”? Why did they say, “Let’s have a government with minimal power, and that is hobbled against gaining power”? Because they understood that more government = more police and more police leads to less freedom. Police power is not the purpose of government — as you suggest I said. But, police power is the function of government. What does Congress do? Pass laws. What does the Executive branch do? Implement/ enforce laws. What do the courts do? Adjudicate laws.

        Could your reaction be a result of you thinking I’m a Marxist — or, worse, thinking I’m a muddled about the difference between Marx and Friedman?

        I stand by my point. Paraphrased from Wikipedia: Under Marxist theorizing, false consciousness is essentially a result of ideological control which the proletariat (read: climate scientists) either do not know they are under or which they disregard with a view to their own upward mobility). Most climate scientists are paid directly or indirectly by the government. The government has a reason to believe in AGW because doing do allows it to increase its power, which is the wont of any government.

  62. But, because climate scientists are to a great extent clueless about economics (which, as I will show, has more fundamental ramifications than even this one), they have no insight that choices to regulate externalities always have costs to economic activity — that there is no free lunch, which this book and most climate scientists do not appear to appreciate.

    To repeat the point that I made in my commentary on David Montgomery, if the externality is real, then regulating it improves welfare. It’s not a question of a “free lunch”, and almost no-one involved has claimed that it would be costless to GDP today. But GDP is not the same as welfare.

    The “class consciousness” argument will have to wait for another time…

    • Woops, I forgot to end the block quote- the first paragraph quoted miller, the second two are mine.

  63. Paul, completely agree that the polity has the responsibility to regulate economic externalities. But government, as opposed to the polity, is not neutral in its motivations. The polity only wants what maximizes its welfare. It wants only so much policing of externalities as would accomplish that outcome; no more, no less. Government (read Enlightenment and Founding Fathers) has, because it is police power and is independent of the polity (i.e., it is an agent — read “agency risk”), an inherent motivation to extend its domain; i.e., it will constaqntly want to police more, of its own accord, irrespective of whether the polity wants that or not.

    The risk that climate scientists do not realize they have been coopted by the police (i.e., government) for their own purposes is real. This risk could reasily result in a distortion of the science even when scientists do not realize that this is what is happening. Add the risk of noble cause corruption and you have a volatile mix.

    The result is that, to twist the aphorism, “no lunch is too expensive.”

  64. Surely the motivation of those profiting from the externalities to avoid the “optimal” solution by under-regulating is at least as great as the motivation of the state to over-regulate?

  65. JP Miller,

    “My opinion is that Marx was a brilliant analyst of economic activity, but a terrible economic/ social policy theorist.”

    I am sorry, but that is just incoherent. If you are saying that Marx’s analysis of capitalism was brilliant, then that part of his “theory” would also be. It looks like you are trying to suggest that Marx accurately understood/described capitalism, but that his prescriptions for the future were wrong. Otherwise your comment makes no sense.

    It has been decades since I plowed my way through Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto, but trust me, Marx had not a clue about how a capitalist economy functions, let alone why. And it was his faulty understanding of the functioning of markets (combined with his misconception of human nature) that contributed to his prescriptions.

    His concept of “false class consciousness” in particular, which you find so brilliant, is nonsense (as I wrote above). The fact that Marx (and you) are wrong about this, is one of the central reasons that the capitalist system in the U.S. has created the wealthiest country in the history of the planet, while Marxist economic systems collapse wherever they are tried.

    Democrat Party demagoguery aside, people in this country, regardless of their economic standing (or “relation to the means of production”) have historically know that they are not bound to any economic class for life. Immigrants consistently claim that is the reason they come here. It is the entrepreneurial spirit of man, unhindered by the chains of government control, that has allowed millions in this country, over numerous generations, to rise above the economic limitations of their birth.

    This ridiculous notion of economic and historical determinism was probably the central fallacy of Marxism. His analysis of capitalist economics was all wrong, not just his prescription of how to proceed. I know it is fashionable to speak of the brilliance of Marx, just as it is in some circles de rigueur to wear t-shirts bearing the face of Che Guevara (a homicidal maniac who enjoyed the act of taking human life), and quote the teachings of Mao (the most prolific mass murderer in human history). But it is ridiculous to describe someone who was so desperately and completely wrong as brilliant.

    Maybe you can explain how false class consciousness works for a union carpenter, with a 401k plan worth over a hundred thousand dollars, stock participation in his employer, and his own truck and tools he uses to work side jobs to generate additional income?

    And what makes you think that is the government bureaucracy that drives climate scientists to believe what they believe, rather than their beliefs that lead them to become climate scientists in the first place? Do you really think James Hansen was a free market, laissez faire true believer until he started drawing checks from NASA?

  66. simple citoyen

    3 things:
    1. “the best route… climate change” part is designed to appeal to the general public with a common destiny type of message. It just misses the point: if you’re scared to death about a scientific then technological then societal problem you face, the first thing you do is free the economy and the people of all irrelevant and mind potential consumming tasks, such as tax accounting which mobilizes money and energy in vast supplies. Imagine a world without tax code and hundreds of thousands of new items of regulation each year? These bright minds devoted solely to compliance to administrative pandominium, and those producung it to keep exercising power would be free to imagine tomorrow’s solutions and innovations.
    2. The book talks of capitalism, but everything it describes relies on public money and collectivisation. Of course profit can be found there, but only at the expense of future generations via deficit. The idea that innovations brought in by “cutting-edge leaders” (no such thing as self inflicted praise!) could not exist without this overreaching scheme is totaly false. Simply, mostly other innovations would be set forth, and probably by real cutting-edge entrepreneurs, not self-elected demi-gods of the new era.
    3.The real basis for all this rhetoric is always the same: fear. It is used to describe what the real state of mind should be concerning climate change. It is again used when stating and emphasizing the all too well known “it’s a foregone conclusion” type of argumentation, meaning you’ll be left behind and others will get rich. And that (fear and moral judgement) has always led to the worse in history.
    Last but not least, I cannot but wonder how NGOs and municipalities can testify to anything like driving prosperity, and in what respect they can be party in any way to a capitalist venture, lest we are not talking capitalism per se, but chrony capitalism and its numerous offshoots which pervade today’s world at the expense precisely of true entrepreneurs.

  67. Eric Ollivet

    Therefore I would be very careful before surfing on this very tempting wave of Climate Capitalism. Maybe few of those who have chosen this track will make a lot of money… in the short term… But in the longer term they are pretty likely to dig their own tomb!

  68. Eric Ollivet

    Oups…. Something missing….
    _____________________________
    Never forget that most Non Governmental or Political Organizations that are “green” oriented and are promoting AGW issue, as well as constraining policies to get rid of the supposed forthcoming climate disaster, are actually leaded by neo-Marxist renegades, who have run away from their old communist moribund Party, at the fall of the Berlin wall and of the defeated eastern communist bloc.

    German “greens” (as well as many “green” Parties in Western Europe) have long been funded by USSR / KGB and DDR / Stasi…

    Just have a look on this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO63oWe6XXo&NR=1) where Patrick Moore (starting at ~ 06:30), Co-funder of Greenpeace, very well describes how neo-Marxists have infiltrated “green” environmental movements to pursue their anti-capitalist crusade.

    The last wish of those guys is all but promoting capitalism, even if “Climate” capitalism. Actually their “green” and “warmist” activism is just a new way fighting their old enemy. And the constraining policies they are promoting are just the new weapons with which they intend to shoot down this still old hated capitalism.

    Therefore I would be very careful before surfing on this very tempting wave of Climate Capitalism. Maybe few of those who have chosen this track will make a lot of money… in the short term… But in the longer term they are pretty likely to dig their own tomb!