Forget sustainability – it’s about resilience

by Judith Curry

The concept of resilience encourages us to ask a different set of questions about the way we manage our resources-and therefore ourselves.Brian Walker

A universal definition of sustainability is elusive – the Wikipedia article provides some definitions and history.

A few months ago, Andrew Zolli wrote a provocative article in the NYTimes entitled Learning to bounce back.  Some excerpts:

FOR decades, people who concern themselves with the world’s “wicked problems” — interconnected issues like environmental degradation, poverty, food security and climate change — have marched together under the banner of “sustainability”: the idea that with the right mix of incentives, technology substitutions and social change, humanity might finally achieve a lasting equilibrium with our planet, and with one another.

Yet today, precisely because the world is so increasingly out of balance, the sustainability regime is being quietly challenged, not from without, but from within. Among a growing number of scientists, social innovators, community leaders, nongovernmental organizations, philanthropies, governments and corporations, a new dialogue is emerging around a new idea, resilience: how to help vulnerable people, organizations and systems persist, perhaps even thrive, amid unforeseeable disruptions. Where sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world.

It’s a broad-spectrum agenda that, at one end, seeks to imbue our communities, institutions and infrastructure with greater flexibility, intelligence and responsiveness to extreme events and, at the other, centers on bolstering people’s psychological and physiological capacity to deal with high-stress circumstances.

For example, “resilience thinking” is starting to shape how urban planners in big cities think about updating antiquated infrastructure, much of which is robust in the face of normal threats like equipment failures but — as was just demonstrated in the New York region — fragile in the face of unanticipated shocks like flooding, pandemics, terrorism or energy shortages.

Combating those kinds of disruptions isn’t just about building higher walls — it’s about accommodating the waves. For extreme weather events, that means developing the kinds of infrastructure more commonly associated with the Army: temporary bridges that can be “inflated” or positioned across rivers when tunnels flood, for example, or wireless “mesh” networks and electrical microgrids that can compensate for exploding transformers.

We’ll also need to use nature itself as a form of “soft” infrastructure. Along the Gulf Coast, civic leaders have begun to take seriously the restoration of the wetlands that serve as a vital buffer against hurricanes. A future New York may be ringed with them too, as it was centuries ago.

Hurricane Sandy hit New York hardest right where it was most recently redeveloped: Lower Manhattan, which should have been the least vulnerable part of the island. But it was rebuilt to be “sustainable,” not resilient, said Jonathan Rose, an urban planner and developer.

“After 9/11, Lower Manhattan contained the largest collection of LEED-certified, green buildings in the world,” he said, referring to a rating program for eco-friendly design. “But that was answering only part of problem. The buildings were designed to generate lower environmental impacts, but not to respond to the impacts of the environment” — for example, by having redundant power systems.

Based on these insights, these researchers have developed training regimens, rooted in contemplative practice, that are already helping first responders, emergency-room physicians and soldiers better manage periods of extreme stress and diminish the rates and severity of post-traumatic stress that can follow.

There’s a third domain where resilience will be found, and that’s in big data and mobile services. Already, the United States Geological Survey is testing a system that ties its seismographs to Twitter; when the system detects an earthquake, it automatically begins scanning the social media service for posts from the affected area about fires and damages.

As wise as this all may sound, a shift from sustainability to resilience leaves many old-school environmentalists and social activists feeling uneasy, as it smacks of adaptation, a word that is still taboo in many quarters. If we adapt to unwanted change, the reasoning goes, we give a pass to those responsible for putting us in this mess in the first place, and we lose the moral authority to pressure them to stop. Better, they argue, to mitigate the risk at the source.

Unfortunately, the sustainability movement’s politics, not to mention its marketing, have led to a popular misunderstanding: that a perfect, stasis-under-glass equilibrium is achievable. But the world doesn’t work that way: it exists in a constant disequilibrium — trying, failing, adapting, learning and evolving in endless cycles. Indeed, it’s the failures, when properly understood, that create the context for learning and growth. That’s why some of the most resilient places are, paradoxically, also the places that regularly experience modest disruptions: they carry the shared memory that things can go wrong.

“Resilience” takes this as a given and is commensurately humble. It doesn’t propose a single, fixed future. It assumes we don’t know exactly how things will unfold, that we’ll be surprised, that we’ll make mistakes along the way. It’s also open to learning from the extraordinary and widespread resilience of the natural world, including its human inhabitants, something that, counterintuitively, many proponents of sustainability have ignored.

[W]e need approaches that are both more pragmatic and more politically inclusive — rolling with the waves, instead of trying to stop the ocean.

Resilience and urban planning

From a Berkeley University blog article entitled What urban planners think of resilience thinking:

For those working on sustainability projects, the urban planners especially liked the ability of a resilience framework to break through the problem of adopting ’sustainability’ as a concept. As one participant noted, resilience as a frame is:

“more understandable and effective than sustainability. Substitute risk for resilience and if you articulate the risk, decision makers understand the concept, but they will not understand sustainability no matter how you define it. But if you quantify risk and resilience, it gives you the kind of approach that, plus the framework, provides quite a powerful tool.”

Resilience as a metaphor also helps to break down the urge to think linearly. It challenges the blueprint planning or the “survey-analyze-plan” tradition of thinking. Because thinking about resilience requires thinking about the entire system of moving parts at once, linear thinking doesn’t bear up well.

But resilience as a concept also comes with some problems–namely, it turns on change. And people hate change. And if people hate change, politicians hate change.  People also hate complexities and uncertainties, which are inherent in any attempt to deal with a lot of moving parts, as resilience thinking must. So within this system, the authors ask, “how do planners frame complexities and uncertainties so as to render them governable given the wicked dilemma that we must act anyway?” In effect, planners must assume change and explain stability instead of assuming stability and explaining change. Not an inviting prospect, especially when politics are in the mix–and they always are in urban planning.

JC comments:  Over the last 5 years or so, I have been framing my research and applications related to extreme weather events around the concept of resilience.  I viewed resilience as a concept that was orthogonal to sustainability, and realized that infrastructure designed for sustainability may make it more vulnerable to natural hazards.   Zolli’s essay makes the argument that sustainability and resilience are tied to two different world views, and I find his argument convincing.  Resilience thinking is associated with systems thinking, uncertainty, and wicked problems.  Resilience is arguably a concept that has broader political palatability than does sustainability.  Resilience thinking seems to be a particularly good match for dealing with extreme weather events, which is arguably associated with the greatest impacts from climate variability and change.

451 responses to “Forget sustainability – it’s about resilience

  1. It is said that Vermont now has more trees than ever…

    • Nuclear power is resilient and sustainable, Japan notwithstanding.

      I read something about NY. Don’t the realize they are on the coast? It is reasonable to expect the occasional hurricane. In some coastal places houses are built on 14 foot piers. It’s not unreasonable to expect buildings in NY to withstand a 10 foot surge in the city. If they don’t build for it, it’s their own dumb fault.

      • jim2 says “Nuclear power is resilient.”

        How so?

      • OK, Max, I’ll play your silly game.
        In a tornado, which of the following is more resilient?

        1. A nuclear power plant.
        2. A solar plant.
        3. A wind farm.

      • In a tornado I would say a natural gas fired power plant is the most resilient. It’s also much safer than a nuclear power plant.

        If you want to sell the public on nuclear power plants, you best avoid the subjects of terrorism and natural disasters, particularly earth quakes, tidal waves, and hurricanes. But I doubt you have any appreciation for salesmanship, so my advise may be lost on you.

      • Jim2,
        In a tornado which leaves more extreme radiaoactivity strewn across the countryside if the exterior storage silos of ceramic imbedded waste fuel is compromised?

      • Max and Jim2,
        Jeez, guys, take it easy. Aren’t we just having a good time here batting ideas around?

      • Peter Lang

        tcflood and max OK,

        You seem to be unaware that nuclear power is about the safest way to generate electricity – proven by over 50 years of operation including all the natural hazards that have occurred in that time: http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

        And, of course, it is getting better and safer all the time, and would improcve even faster in the future if it’s development wasn’t being retarded by the …

      • Peter,

        It looks like the SCE San Onofre nuclear facility will not be starting up anytime soon- “Southern California Edison Absorbed by Nuclear Energy Morass:

        http://www.energybiz.com/article/13/05/southern-california-edison-absorbed-nuclear-energy-morass&utm

        as moving the focus from how do we address a technical issue to a criminal one (“Upon releasing the two letters, Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said that the she is now left to believe that Edison “misled” regulators. She is calling on the U.S. Justice Department to begin a criminal investigation.”) isn’t going to address the issue of a sustainable supply of electrical energy.

      • Peter Lang,
        Yes, since Chernobyl the record has been pretty good. We all know that risk assessment has two components – probability of occurrence and probable severity of consequences. I think it is the latter that gives many people pause.

      • Max,

        Please try not to talk about nuclear power plants. You obviously lack the knowledge to accurately and intelligently discuss anything about them.

        There has never been a terrorist action at a nuclear plant in this country. And if you knew anything about plant design (I’ll leave aside knowledge of explosives), you would understand that it is extremely difficult to do any sort of damage that would result in a threat to the public. You could possibly take the plant off line, but so what. The same applies to any generation plant, no matter what the fuel source.

        You also have no clue regarding the redundancy and resilience built into a nuclear plant. When working at one along the Columbia river, I would ocassionally see stories about some anti-nuclear activist trying to stir up fear over the possible impacts to the plant from a subduction zone superquake. While the plant was not specifically designed to withstand a quake of such magnitude, it was far more likely to than any of the big dams on the river, let alone structures in the city of Portland. It was the location I’d most want to be. It would have been a safe place to watch the big wall of water roll down the river (carrying the debris and bodies of much of Portland with it).

        Your comment about a gas fired plant being more resilient simply shows you know as much about them as you do nuclear plants.

      • tc,

        you should check out the design requirements for dry cask storage containment.

        and if you still have reservations, simply recommend that they don’t be stored in tornado alley.

      • kakatoa,

        San Onofre is a case of poor design practice on the part of Mitsubishi. They based their design and fabrication on computer modeling of fluid flow through the tubes. Gues what? The models were not very good at predicting real flow conditions and designs based on them ended up failing.

        This is not some smoking gun disproving the safety of nuclear power plants. It is a financial and political mess for SCE.

      • timg56 said on May 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm

        Max,

        “Please try not to talk about nuclear power plants. You obviously lack the knowledge to accurately and intelligently discuss anything about them.”

        “Your comment about a gas fired plant being more resilient simply shows you know as much about them as you do nuclear plants.”
        ________

        tmig56, I’m afraid you aren’t well informed. If nuclear power plants are more resilient why did Japan have to shut down nuclear and switch to gas-fired plants following the Fukushima crises?

        “The volume of electricity supplied by gas-fired plants has surged following the shutdowns most of Japan’s nuclear power generation capacity following the Fukushima crisis almost a year ago.”

        http://gastopowerjournal.com/markets/item/202-japans-gas-to-power-sector-close-to-hitting-limit-in-physical-capacity#axzz2UnVQ2HZO

        Regarding your other comments:

        I never said anything about hydro. Nuke power plants may be more resilient than dams.

        The public’s perception is that nuke power is risky because of natural disasters and accidents. They remember Chernobyl and Fukushima. The public may not be convinced terrorism is not another risk of having nuclear power plants.

        I may be less concerned about the potential hazard of nuke power than most people. However, I would prefer living far way from nuke plant rather than next door. I believe it would be a mistake for me to ignore Murphy’s Law

      • Max,

        Japan’s decision on energy supply (i.e. gas vs. nuclear) is political.

        And being so, the current PM is working to turn nuclear back on.

        Your right about one thing. Perception is a huge factor in the discussion about nuclear power. If you are interested in becoming more informed, I suggest ignoring the perception of nuclear and look at the facts.

      • Rob Starkey

        Max

        The Japanese were not forced to move away from nuclear power they made choices to do so. In some cases people make bad choices and unfavorable results happen. Japan decided to stay with a very old nuclear plant design, they decided not to properly protect their backup power supplies, and they decided for largely emotional reasons to reduce their reliance on nuclear power. It would seem that several of those decisions were poor now considering the facts available

      • Peter Lang

        tcflood,

        We all know that risk assessment has two components – probability of occurrence and probable severity of consequences. I think it is the latter that gives many people pause.

        And what might that ‘severity’ be?

        USA some 15,000 to 35,000 fatalites per year in USA according to the EPA from pollution from coal fired power stations such as fine particulates, black carbon,heavy metals, benzenes and long chain hydrocarbon pollution.

        Versus:

        Three Mile Island: zero immediate fatalities, zero latent fatalities expected.

        Chernobyl: 31 immediate fatalities (i.e. with in one month), another ~30 in the 26 years since that are definitely attributable to the accident and a projected extra 4000 out of a population of 200 million over 70 years.

        Fukushima: 3 fatalities due to the Tsunami, none related to radiation, and a projected 1 to 100 latent fatalities in the future.

        Compare that with ~1000 fatalities per year in commercial airline accidents. We accept the low probability of the fatalities in flying for the benefits of air travel.

        The equivalent acceptance of low probability of nuclear accidents will happen when, over time, people come to recogise that nuclear would avoid over a million fatalities per year world wide if coal replaced nuclear now (theoretical of course); plus, stop black carbon pollution; plus, increase energy security; plus, reduce shipping of fossil fuel energy by a factor of 20,000 now and 2 million when breeder reactors are used; plus, reduce even further the already low severity of accidents as small modular nuclear reactors (with small fuel inventory) replace the large monoliths we are forced to use now and as competition improves the breed (c.f. how passenger aircraft improved over the past 50 years as a result of competition, > lower fares, > more passenger miles, > more demand for aircraft, > more competition, > better designs, > improved safety, > > >)

        BTW, I think the commonly used terms are ‘consequence’ or ‘Impact’, not “severity” of an event.

      • Tim,
        I have no fist-hand knowledge of the dry storage structural specifications. Since you say you have worked at nuclear plants, I guess the question is (with regard to the dry storage, and this not a smartass question) would you feel safe living next to one with your family?

      • Tim,
        .. particularly in tornado alley? (I forgot the last part of my question.)

      • Peter Lang

        I am not a promoter of coal-fired power plants, Peter, and I think that the pollution they can cause if there is no adequate flue gas cleanup can lead to respiratory problems, especially for people suffering from asthma or other respiratory disease. I have lived in cities in China, where this is still the case. (And we all recall the so-called “killer fogs” in London.)

        At the same time, I seriously doubt that the EPA statistics you quoted on US fatalities from coal pollution are anywhere near correct. The EPA is waging a “war against coal”, and this is simply part of the propaganda campaign that goes with it.

        Rather than tossing out questionable statistics, the EPA should be regulating, i.e. insisting that flue gas cleanup systems are installed and operational for all coal-fired plants (“clean coal”).

        And sure, they should also make it easier for nuclear power to replace new coal-fired generation capacity, by easing the regulatory load, as you have been writing here.

        Max

      • Peter Lang

        tcflood,

        Tim,
        I have no fist-hand knowledge of the dry storage structural specifications. Since you say you have worked at nuclear plants, I guess the question is (with regard to the dry storage, and this not a smartass question) would you feel safe living next to one with your family?

        Absolutely. No problem. Why not? Far safer living next to them than living in a city with uncontrolled toxic chemicals in small factories and warehouses all over the city.

        This is what they look like http://www.storenuclearfuel.com/current-sites/yankee-rowe/ . These 16 canisters hold all the radioactive waste from 32 years of generation by Yankee Rowe power station which has now been totally decommissioned. It was 185 MW, ran for 31 years, produced 44 TWh of electricity at a lifetime capacity factor of 88%. That is fantastic stats for a Gen I nuclear power station. And these 16 caskets hold all the once-used fuel. The once-used fuel still contains 99% of its recoverable energy. It can be reused in the future and together with USA’s other once-used fuel, could power the USA for hundreds of years.

        tcflood it seems you are suffering from ‘nuclear phobia’ and ‘radiation paranoia’, a very common ailment. You have an irrational fear of all things to do with nuclear. The ailment is caused by ignorance.

        Do some reading and you’ll come to recognise that chemical pollution is far more dangerous than radioactive pollution. And chemical pollution is far harder to detect than radioactive pollution We live with massive amounts of chemical pollution and we simply accept the risk. But we are really concerned about the much lower risk of radioactive pollution. That is why we are irrational about nuclear power. It is a fear that has been drilled into us by 50 years of scaremongering by the anti-nuke catastrophists.

      • Peter Lang

        [repost with formatting corrected]

        tcflood,

        Tim,
        I have no fist-hand knowledge of the dry storage structural specifications. Since you say you have worked at nuclear plants, I guess the question is (with regard to the dry storage, and this not a smartass question) would you feel safe living next to one with your family?

        Absolutely. No problem. Why not? Far safer living next to them than living in a city with uncontrolled toxic chemicals in small factories and warehouses all over the city.

        This is what they look like http://www.storenuclearfuel.com/current-sites/yankee-rowe/ . These 16 canisters hold all the radioactive waste from 32 years of generation by Yankee Rowe power station which has now been totally decommissioned. It was 185 MW, ran for 31 years, produced 44 TWh of electricity at a lifetime capacity factor of 88%. That is fantastic stats for a Gen I nuclear power station. And these 16 caskets hold all the once-used fuel. The once-used fuel still contains 99% of its recoverable energy. It can be reused in the future and together with USA’s other once-used fuel, could power the USA for hundreds of years.

        tcflood it seems you are suffering from ‘nuclear phobia’ and ‘radiation paranoia’, a very common ailment. You have an irrational fear of all things to do with nuclear. The ailment is caused by ignorance.

        Do some reading and you’ll come to recognise that chemical pollution is far more dangerous than radioactive pollution. And chemical pollution is far harder to detect than radioactive pollution We live with massive amounts of chemical pollution and we simply accept the risk. But we are really concerned about the much lower risk of radioactive pollution. That is why we are irrational about nuclear power. It is a fear that has been drilled into us by 50 years of scaremongering by the anti-nuke catastrophists.

      • Peter Lang

        Manacker,

        At the same time, I seriously doubt that the EPA statistics you quoted on US fatalities from coal pollution are anywhere near correct. The EPA is waging a “war against coal”, and this is simply part of the propaganda campaign that goes with it.

        I don’t know either. I try to use the most authoritative sources available, and especially sources that are accepted by the catastrophists. The EPA figures for fatalities due to pollution from coal power stations (espeiall the <2 micron particles) are similar to figures by many other independent, authoritative organisations. One of the best studies is the EU ExternE study: http://www.externe.info/externe_d7/

      • Tc

        yes I would. You could say I already do as the casks from the plant I worked at are within 40 miles of my home. I would go further and say I would offer to store one in my back in
        my backyard for a reasonable fee.

        as for doing so in OK, perhaps, after looking in

      • Peter Lang

        tcflood,

        Your boorishness is getting tiresome.

        I find your ignorance of the subject you are making assertions about and your arrogance (continually making anti-nuke propaganda points instead of asking questions) tiresome.\\I suggerst you stick to what you know about (wahtever thet might be) and ask questions on subjects you know little about, like nuclear energy.

        I provided a link to an example of dry casket storage (Yankee Rowe power station). You didn’t even mention if you’d looked at it.

      • Peter Lang

        Manacker,

        Further to the deaths per TWh from coal fired electricity generation in OECD countries, including USA, this link provides summaries and links to the sources: http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

      • Lang,
        You have no idea what I do or don’t know based on a few conversational interactions.
        I didn’t read your link because i didn’t read farther than the first line or two of your blurb.

      • Peter Lang,

        I am as in favor of the development of nuclear power as anyone. Clean, safe, cheap. (if you get the government and activists out of the way).

        But be careful of buying into government and environmentalist propaganda on coal generated power as a means to urge development of nuclear power.

        When the EPA and others refer to “deaths per TWh from coal fired electricity generation,” they are relying primarily on computer modeled death predictions. Very similar to the models used to specify with great precision the number of deaths attributable to miniscule amounts of “second hand smoke.” And if you think climate models are incomplete and unverified, the epidemiological models used by activists are even worse.

        The problem is that by buying in to the spin on “coal cause deaths,’ you give support to progressives ongoing current assault on coal. While you gain absolutely nothing in the battle to strangle nuclear power, a war they have already won.

        Modeled data is not data. If you drink enough water, you will die from loss of electrolytes. That does not mean someone can construct a computer model to determine how many people will die from drinking 8 ounces of water. Correlation is not causation, causation is causation. And with coal power, I suspect they are using proxies and assumptions regarding attribution that would make a climate modeller blush by comparison.

      • Peter Lang

        GaryM

        But be careful of buying into government and environmentalist propaganda on coal generated power as a means to urge development of nuclear power.

        When the EPA and others refer to “deaths per TWh from coal fired electricity generation,” they are relying primarily on computer modeled death predictions.

        Gary, I agree with you on most things, And I understand yhou reason for making this comment. But I can’t say I agree with you on this. If you can show me better, more authoritative sources and better figures I’d be very peased to see them.

        We’ve been doing these estimates for over 30 years. I have Herbert Inhaber’s book published 1982 “Energy Risk Assessment”. All computations were done with calculators. USDOE has been doing these assessments since at least the early 1980s and probably before. The ExternE [1] project was done by independent research groups in every EU15 country. It is probably the most substantive of the lot. Have a look at the site and drill down in the NewExt [2] study and the data base of all the accidents in the energy chain that have occurred since about 1960 (from memory). It’s not just the immediate fatalities. It is also the latent fatalities and that is what we are talking about with fossil fuels. If you can give me more authoritative sources than these I’ll certainly look, but I think the best ones are summarised here http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

        [1] ExternE http://www.externe.info/externe_d7/

        [2] ExternE New Ext: http://www.ier.uni-stuttgart.de/forschung/projektwebsites/newext/

      • Peter Lang

        GaryM

        But be careful of buying into government and environmentalist propaganda on coal generated power as a means to urge development of nuclear power.

        When the EPA and others refer to “deaths per TWh from coal fired electricity generation,” they are relying primarily on computer modeled death predictions.

        Your comment prompted me to look up Inhaber (1982) “Energy Risk Assessment” to see how the rankings of the safety of the technologies 30 years ago compare with the rankings in the most recent studies.

        Inhaber splits the figures in several ways:
        • occupational or public
        • fatalities or work-days-lost
        • accident or disease

        He provides the figures for each of these categories for eleven electricity generation technologies: coal, oil, gas, nuclear, hydro electric, wind, methanol, solar space heating, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, ocean thermal.

        I’ll give you the figures for the sum of occupational and public fatalities and same for man-days lost for coal and nuclear (from memory these figures are for USA and Canada). The units are per MW.year

        Measure; Coal; Nuclear
        Total fatalities; 10^-1; 10^-3
        Total man-days-lost; 10^3; 10^1

        I’ve estimated these off log scale charts; it would take too long to dig the more accurate figures out of the tables. These are good enough to show that the ratio of safety of nuclear to coal has remained at about two orders of magnitude for the past 30 odd years.

      • David Springer

        @Peter Lang

        What would happen if a jumbo jet augured into those 16 cannisters?

        Or what if they were hit by a cruise missile?

        Can we really afford to have so many of these lying about that you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one?

        Does your call for relaxed regulations to make nuclear power more competitive include relaxing those concerning the storage and disposal of spent fuel?

      • What would happen if a jumbo jet augured into those 16 cannisters?

        Or what if they were hit by a cruise missile?

        In the plane crash scenario all the people on board would die from the plane crash and the canisters would not rupture. They are something like 1 m thick reinforced concrete (off the top of my head). Read the info on the link I posted.

        In the cruise missile scenario they would be breached and solid material would be dispersed. Negligible effect over the long term. Far less than Fukushima, which is negligible (projected 1 to 100 fatalities over next 70 years). Both the plane crash and the cruise missile would do much more damage if it hit a city or a sports stadium full of people.

      • I’ll retract my comment about the effect of a cruise missile hitting the canisters. I don’t know what the effect of dispersing the high level waste would be, and I should not have trivialised that. My answer is: I don’t know.

      • David Springer,

        For someone as informed as you, I was surprised by your question.

        Dry cask storage containers are dual purpose designed for both long term storge and for transport. As part of the transport design standards, they have to withstand a train collision (among other things). Nuclear plant containment structures are designed to withstand multiple accident / natural catastrophe events. One example, having a 727 jet crash into the containment dome in conjunction with a 1000 year flood event.

        Your question is a text book example of the irrational, almost idiotic fear people have about nuclear power and radiation. I would have expected better from you.

        Peter,

        Relax a bit. tcflood is simply asking questions. Reasonable ones (unlike Springer).

      • Springer,

        “Withstanding a tornado is easy compared to withstanding a deliberate attack.”

        The first part is correct.

        The second hyperbole.

        Exactly what sort of attack are you referring to?

    • Lang,
      I said
      “Yes, since Chernobyl the record has been pretty good. We all know that risk assessment has two components – probability of occurrence and probable severity of consequences. I think it is the latter that gives many people pause”

      I didn’t say it gave me pause. I raised the question about the dry cask storage in the context of the discussion of the effects of tornadoes on different kinds of power plants because I don’t know if they are designed to withstand them. That’s a point of information.

      I asked Tim about it because he seems knowledgeable about it and asking about a personal stake is likely to elicit a more sincere response.

      Your boorishness is getting tiresome.

      • Peter Lang

        tcflood,

        Your boorishness is getting tiresome.

        I find your ignorance of the subject you are making assertions about and your arrogance (continually making anti-nuke propaganda points instead of asking questions) tiresome.

        I suggest you stick to what you know about (whatever that might be) and ask questions on subjects you know little about, such as nuclear energy.

        I provided a link to an example of dry casket storage (Yankee Rowe power station). You didn’t even mention if you’d looked at it.

      • Lang;
        I’ll try putting this in the right place.
        You have no idea what I do or don’t know based on a few conversational interactions.
        I didn’t read your link because i didn’t read farther than the first line or two of your blurb.

      • David Springer

        Withstanding a tornado is easy compared to withstanding a deliberate attack.

  2. “Resilience” is what we were previously calling “disaster preparedness” and is a very good concept. OTOH the idea that sustainability and resilience are orthogonal is absurd and lays bare the intent to redirect focus, energy, and resources from a policy with which one disagrees, rather than developing convincing arguments to abandon sustainability.

    • No, they are orthogonal. Resilience requires different things than “sustainability”, although just like orthogonal vectors the Hypotenuse can be smaller than the sum of its sides.

      Both concepts can be achieved in many ways, some more some less expensive. But there’s no real hurry about sustainability, while resilience offers immediate value.

      • AK:
        Can you see how the title of this posting might be consistent with my interpretation. Clearly both concepts are important and neither should be “forgotten about”.

      • “…although just like orthogonal vectors the Hypotenuse can be smaller than the sum of its sides.”

        Please can you explain this?

      • Curious,
        Let me try and AK can say how well I did.
        Sustainability and resilience development require different types of activities (let’s assume that’s true) and their own resources. However, some of those activities might overlap enough to allow an overall reduction in resource expenditure.
        (AK: Strictly in real Cartesian space, the hypotenuse MUST be small than the sum of the sides. :)

      • I don’t see why there’s any urgency about “sustainability”, especially since nobody seems to be able to define it. Forget it, focus on resilience. Grab any serendipitous “sustainability” along the way.

        “Sustainability” is a fantasy; a mythic symbol of living in “harmony” with nature, Taking nothing that nature won’t replace. Non-fossil-carbon energy is a much more concrete term, and the obvious candidate is solar power. Which is, more or less, replaced every millisecond by the suns light.

        But the advantages of solar power aren’t (just) because it’s “sustainable”, they’re because it’s cleaner, more easily captured, and it doesn’t dump CO2 into the atmosphere which we don’t know where it’s going to end up and how much damage it’s going to do. Eventually solar power on Earth will run out, or rather the real-estate for capturing it, if per-capita energy usage continues on the trend it’s been on for a few centuries. Hopefully by then we’ll be able to use space solar power.

      • Sorry, I’m posting in-between other things.

        (AK: Strictly in real Cartesian space, the hypotenuse MUST be small than the sum of the sides. :)

        I was speaking metaphorically. There is a lot of overlap, depending on how you define “sustainable”. Of the two however, resilience is more immediately important.

      • AK,
        I know you were speaking metaphorically.

        Sustainability is like pornography – you know it when you see it. (That’s largely tongue in cheek, please don’t waste time dissecting it). The point is that if we don’t operate sustainably there will be large dislocations that will disrupt many lives. In the OAPEC oil embargo in 1973 the loss of petroleum was only 1.7% of our total usage stream. People were fighting in lines in gas stations, truckers were shooting at each other and blowing up trucks. I’d like to see if we can avoid those kinds of things for my kids’ sake.

      • @tcflood…

        But, you see, that’s actually resilience: having excess stores and sources of supply available so when a political (or climate) catastrophe makes one source unavailable, there’s backup. Including it under “sustainability” was bunko.

      • I thought orthogonal meant at 90 degrees? i.e. totally separate.

      • AK:
        “But the advantages of solar power aren’t (just) because it’s “sustainable”, they’re because it’s cleaner, more easily captured, and it doesn’t dump CO2 into the atmosphere which we don’t know where it’s going to end up and how much damage it’s going to do.”

        But these are what most people would argue are part of sustainability. I’m beginning to think this whole discussion is more about the emotional baggage attached to the word than about the concepts.

      • @curious,
        @Bill…

        I thought orthogonal meant at 90 degrees? i.e. totally separate.

        It would be more accurate to say that two axes of potential movement are orthogonal when it’s possible to move to and fro along one without seeming to move along the other. Like north/south vs. east/west (on a small scale). A structure or policy can be more or less “sustainable” without impacting how resilient it is.

        This doesn’t mean that a particular design approach (for instance) couldn’t increase both “sustainability” and resilience (and, probably, cost, although that isn’t necessary). Another design might force a trade-off: to be more resilient it would have to be less “sustainable”. This gets to my Hypotenuse statement above: if we assume some pseudo-linear relationship between the length of a vector and the cost of the project it’s describing, the added cost of a design with lots of both resilience and “sustainability” (relative to one without either) might be considerably smaller than the sum of the costs of adding one and the other.

      • AK;
        I keep having these comments end up in the wrong place.
        Your explanation of orthogonality is excellent.

    • AK;
      Ah! but if we had renewable energy and energy self sufficiency at that time, it would have been sustainable and the embargo would not have been possible .
      Maybe the two are not orthogonal after all.

    • Yes, there may be overlaps. Replanting enough forests to be sustainable can also be a form of resilience. But much of sustainability the way it is practiced is kind of a feel good PC kind of thing that often has few tangible benefits.

      • Bill, yes orthogonality in basic geometry means 90 degrees. In higher level math it acquires additional meanings one of which could be paraphrased “no overlap.”

      • Bill,
        “…feel good PC kind of thing …”

        Yes, I’m sure that is true. I bet that as resilience catches on, there will be a lot of that associated with that movement too.

        Also, yes, I agree with your definition of orthogonal (which I didn’t read clear through).

        As I just said above (or is it below?) I think most of the present discussion is a fight about “sustainable” being a surrogate for “liberal”. So I think I’ll bow out at this point.

    • AK;

      A very good explanation.

      • Peter Lamg
        I apologize for my boorish comment yesterday. It was inappropriate, uncalled for and counterproductive.

      • Peter Lang

        tcflood,

        Thanks I to apologise to you for my response. All’s good.

    • Overall, I think my original posting is right on the money. It doesn’t matter whether sustainability and resilience are orthogonal or canonical conjugates — the issue is a red herring, as is the issue of an exact definition. Most reasonable people would suggest that they are both important concepts, worthy of some level of action and resources. The real debate, of course, is what each of those levels should be. To me, this posting has the feeling of trying to replace a “liberal” concept with one that some other individuals can feel comfortable embracing.

      • I keep having these darn messages end up in the wrong place.

        Peter Lang:
        I apologize for my boorish comment yesterday. It was inappropriate, uncalled for and counterproductive.

      • Peter Lang

        Thanks I too apologise to you for my inappropriate, uncalled for and counterproductive response.

        We’re good. :)

    • Peter Lang

      tcflood,

      You’ve said plenty to show you know nothing about the subject you prattle on about. You’ve also shown by your responses to comments (not just to me) you are not interested in learning.

  3. I find it ironic that the “sustainable” buildings in Lower Manhattan were not built to be resistant to so-called extreme weather events. Since the sustainability concept has come out of the green movement, the same place with the tendency to extreme CAGW alarmism, I have to ask myself: does this show a distressing lack of joined up thinking, or do they actually not really believe all their own alarmism about excessive storms and floods and sea level rise?

    • Janet,
      Be reasonable. If you were designing a building in Lower Manhattan to fit some agenda would also making the building 100% waterproof up to 10 feet have been something you would have thought of? Before the storm your contractor would have looked at you like you were crazy.

      • Rud Istvan

        Unless you point him to the storm surge of the 1893 ‘Midnight Monster’ direct hurricane hit on NYC. Contemporary NYT reports say that storm surge overswept all of Brooklyn and Queens to a depth of one story. ‘Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it’. Makes a nice essay for the next book. A theme TonyB keeps worthily emphasizing.

      • Interesting fact. I didn’t know that.

      • How big was Brooklyn in 1893?

        August 23, 1893. “Midnight Storm”. Category 1 or 2. CP 986 mb, max. 75 knots. Flooded south Brooklyn and Queens. Hog Island (near Rockaway Beach) disappeared.

      • That was what I was thinking though – that it was agenda-driven and therefore should have followed the whole agenda. But it has just occurred to me that the thinking might be more like: if we live sustainable lives we can hold back the tides (shades of Canute’s sycophantic advisers), this is sustainable, therefore we won’t be flooded :-)

      • Here in tornado alley where the soil is suited to underground dwellings we design the walls to let the water through and the channel or sump it out. I would call that a “resilient” design. A “sustainable” design would make the walls so tight that water can not penetrate and could float an entire house making it worse off.

      • It’s always a gas to watch a filling station tank bubble up out of solid looking asphalt or concrete in a flood.
        ==========

  4. Rud Istvan

    Useful and thought provoking post. Both ideas have utility, but in separate (although overlapping) spheres. Take one example. Agriculture can be made more resilient to transitory phenomena like last year’s US drought. Simple solutions like more irrigation (you should see all the new center pivot irrigation systems in the lower Wisconsin River valley put in over the winter), more carryover, … But agriculture cannot be made more sustainable generally to growing populations in the longer run without continued crop intensification (symbolized by Norman Borlaug’s green revolution). Thatis slowing for many key crops (e.g. Wheat) for fundamental reasons, as shown elsewhere.
    This is partly a difference in time frames. But is also partly a notion of survivability/recoverability. Some things are just easier to survive and recover from than others. Scope and scale count.
    The distinctions port nicely into policy debates about what, if anything, to do about climate change and fossil fuel consumption. It is easier to be resilient about regional hurricanes than peak transportation fuel production followed by moderate declines and growing absolute global scarcity.

    • Peter Lang

      Rud Istvan,

      It is easier to be resilient about regional hurricanes than peak transportation fuel production followed by moderate declines and growing absolute global scarcity.

      Is that necessarily so? Considering the past, I would have thought we have built resilience by policies such as providing oil storage, improved shipping, improved and dispersed refineries, diversifying our suppliers and sources.

      I would also have thought, if we consider a long view of the future – e.g. several decades – we can improve resilience of transport fuels by developing (economically viable) sources other than fossil fuels. As one example: John Morgan (2013) ‘Zero emissions synfuel from sea water‘: http://bravenewclimate.com/2013/01/16/zero-emission-synfuel-from-seawater/ . John Morgan has estimated the costs. The costs would be lower if the hydrogen was produced by high temperature nuclear reactors rather than by electrolysis. This may not work out but some solutions inevitably will. And they will increase resilience by allowing production in-country, thus reducing shipping and storage requirements, as well as reducing the long lead time to increase oil field production.

  5. A universal definition of sustainability is elusive

    Quite so! Even the UN (i.e. the “sustainability” dreamer-upper and flogger-in-chief) has still not been able to “define” the term. In fact, even the (presumably High Level, as opposed to Low Level) “Open Working Group” (OWG) of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), described as an:

    inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on [Sustainable Development Goals] SDGs, with a view to developing global SDGs to be adopted by the UN General Assembly

    isn’t too sure.

    In their three sessions to date, the OWG (that miraculously sprouted from Rio+20) has not succeeded in arriving at a definition. According to the quasi-official rapporteurs of all acronymic meetings green, the International Institute For Sustainable Development (IISD) [looks like they'll have to change their name, too!] had recently noted:

    As the meeting concluded, several participants were cautiously optimistic that this process had the potential to finally define and operationalize sustainable development. However, others warned that it is still early in the process and success is far from certain. [emphasis added -hro]

    As an aside, AFAIK, none of the UN’s acronymic offspring has been able to define “green economy” yet, either!

    At this point, it’s difficult to know how … uh … resilient … “resilience” might be as a framing panacea. But there’s sure been a whole lotta “resiling” goin’ on in the past few months, eh?!

    I wonder what all these “sustainability” floggers are going to do?!

    Consider, for example, Blood & Gore’s “sustainable capitalism” – which may (or may not) be the same as Stewart Elgie’s “sustainable prosperity“, here in Canada. Will the IPCC resile from Pachauri’s July 2009 “vision” for AR5 which included:

    Climate change needs to be assessed in the context of sustainable development, and this consideration should pervade the entire report across the three Working Groups. [...] Most governments who have commented on this issue have highlighted the need to treat sustainable development as an overarching framework in the context of both adaptation and mitigation.

    The following, (courtesy of xkcd.com) seems appropos:

    • Rud Istvan

      Hilary, of course. But the bigger and more complex an issue, the less it admits of precise definition on the edges. To demand same might be an unreasonable expectation diverting attention from the problem at hand.

      Let me offer an alternative definition of sustainable. A situation ( you fill in the details) that does not in the long run exceed the carrying capacity of its environment. The key idea is carrying capacity, which while fuzzy on the edges has very solid physical, biological, ecological, and mathematical descriptions across several disciplines. And some interesting manifestions, like population booms and crashes ( think locusts in Utah, the Sahel, or China [all different species] as an example of an oscillatory but long term stable carrying capacity). Jerod Diamond’s book Collapse makes this up close and personal for human societies. So does Gaia’s Limits, which opens using one of his illustrations to heuristically define the concept.

      This alternative more precise definition of sustainability applies across much more than the environment. What is the carrying capacity of greater Chicagoland for construction workers? That is something that can be approximated from first economic principles of economic and population growth, age of housing stock so replacements plus additions, … You get the idea.
      Where sustainability has gone wrong is in fuzzy green notions of static equilibrium. Carrying capacity is a dynamic concept, as the deliberately chosen locust example illustrates. The world in general, and climate in particular, are dynamic systems. And at least for weather ( climate TBD), Ed Lorenz of MIT showed the nonlinear dynamics of chaos theory say the most we could ever hope for is some stochastic ‘stability’ around the various lobes of some strange attractor in n-1 space– and we don’t even know how many significant dimensions climate ‘space’ has beyond the obvious four. For sure, variability in specific humidity, lapse rate, cloud cover by type, and ocean atmosphere coupling (Trenberth’s silly missing heat) add another four…
      Research on such interesting science problems is worth funding. Research comparing GCM outputs is the opposite of the Pasteur sector and should be defunded. To devise sustainable policies when one does not know what that means is, as you point out, a fool’s errand. The world does not lack for fools.
      Regards

      • Rud,
        I was with you until you began your general dissing of climate science. Regarding “Trenberth’s silly missing heat” do you have evidence that the Argo temperature measurements of ocean temperature are faulty? Do you have evidence that surface temperature increases in the last five or six years are NOT because of changes in ocean-atmosphere thermal coupling patterns?
        As for the the chaos argument, I think that the lemma of Lorenz’s fourth theorem states that when he initiates his calculations in the closed field of the (n-1)th attractor that the wave function collapses into an infinite dimensional hyper Hilbert space populate only by Bozons and Hilber disappears in a puff of smoke.

  6. Hmmm that was an image insert that didn’t seem to work here … so try:

  7. In The
    Supreme Court of the United States

    —————————————
    Amici believe that no scientists have devised an empirically validated theory proving that higher atmospheric CO2 levels will lead to higher GAST [global average surface temperature]. Moreover, if the causal link between higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations and higher GAST is broken by invalidating each of EPA’s three lines of evidence, then EPA’s assertions that higher CO2 concentrations also cause sea-level increases and more frequent and severe storms, floods, and droughts are also disproved. Such causality assertions require a validated theory that higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations cause increases in GAST. Lacking such a validated theory, EPA’s conclusions cannot stand. In science, credible empirical data always trumps proposed theories, even if those theories are claimed to (or actually do) represent the current consensus.

    [Southeastern Legal Foundation, Inc., et al., Petitioners, v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., On Petition for a Writ Of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District Of Columbia Circuit, Brief of Amici Curiae Scientists In Support of The Petitions For Certiorari, USSC: Nos. 12-1268, 12-1269, 12-1272]

    • I don’t get your point. What do you expect SLF to say? It sounds like the arguments that adduced by the tobacco industry. SCOTUS will need to distort the generally accepted norms of what theories are and the nature of scientific evidence in order to affirm this argument.

      • EPA sees in science a tool that can be used to subvert individual freedom. Instead of being hidden from the public it should have been discussed in classrooms across America; but, academia failed us. What the EPA has done amounts to a class action lawsuit by the Left against the productive and the accused is guilty until proven innocent. Kafkaesque! Now it is up to the Supreme Court to restore a climate of reason.

      • Wow. OOOOOKKKKKKK,

  8. “Resilience” doesn’t propose a single, fixed future. It assumes we don’t know exactly how things will unfold, that we’ll be surprised, that we’ll make mistakes along the way”

    Hmmm There’s that old “I don’t know” bugaboo. Making society resilient means living with more uncertainty. Society seems to live every day life with uncertainty and it appears only the scaremongers who say things should be certain.

    The failure of the sustainability notion is that reality says nothing ever stays the same. People know that life is uncertain and claims that people are uncomfortable with change, discount people’s experiences to the contrary.

    To adapt to change, remove the barriers to cheaper and cheaper energy. Fuel poverty, artificially created fuel poverty is what is not sustainable.

    Even if you convince the President of the United States and all his appointees and other minions that there is a crisis to which government has to respond immediately, ordinary folks see that this ain’t so, and go about their business until they are mad as hell that their energy bills are stratospheric. Talk about a Tsunami of public unrest, sweep the beach dwelling government types in a flood of reality to be drowned out in the vast ocean of public scrutiny.

    Sustainability = stais. There ain’t no such thing.

    • Excellent post. I’ve said many times that the idea of sustainability is nonsense. We live in a world of constant change, in which nothing is sustainable: attempts to deny or constrain change are bound to fail. People may be uncomfortable with change, but, as you say, we’ve learned to live with it, we’d go mad if we didn’t. And we as a species are extremely innovative, entrepreneurial and adaptable, which is why, in an ever-changing world, we have been so successful.

  9. You could once again academize commonsense and start saying things like: “I feel this chimes with Zolli’s concept of resilience thinking…”. (Trans: “Daniel Kahneman eat your heart out. There’s got to be a TED talk or two in this resilience caper.”)

    Or you could just say that Darwin, wiped out by a cyclone in 1974, was rebuilt to withstand a much worse cyclone. Duh. Or to the people who ignored the experience of 1938 and dumped rubble into the mouth of the Hudson, narrowing it by 700 feet, you could just say: “You are under arrest.”

    • Rud Istvan

      You are being far to specific and practical for the comfort of the stasis seeking sustainability crowd. They might not let you into TED!
      Regards

      • Rud,
        Stasis is not a feature of effective sustainability, This is only a straw man that you are constructing yourself.

  10. I agree with Judith, that resilience and susstainabikity are orthogonal concepts, not just two sides of the same coin. Sustainabilityis an arrogant concept, typical of socialist thinking whereas resilience favours community action and involves everyone

  11. This is an excellent post and there have already been many positive comments above.

    Let’s look at the two concepts:

    sus•tain•able
    adjective
    1
    : capable of being sustained
    2
    a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged (sustainable techniques) (sustainable agriculture)
    b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods (sustainable society)
    — sus•tain•abil•i•ty - noun
    — sus•tain•ably - adverb

    re•sil•ience
    noun
    1
    : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
    2
    : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

    So sustainability and resilience are not contradictory. They are simply two entirely different things.

    Sustainability is focused on conservation of limited resources (so they are still there “for our grandchildren”)

    Resilience focuses on the ability to withstand or easily recover from possible harmful events or changes (to minimize negative impact).

    Sustainability has arguably been overused by all sorts of people who are trying to “change our habits”. It has become “politically correct” to think “sustainably”. It is the “in” thing to do. It generally connotes reducing “carbon footprint” and minimizing consumption (especially of energy), no use of fossil fuels or petrochemicals, maximum use of “natural” (or “organic”) products and “renewable” sources of energy, etc.

    But being “sustainable” does not protect us against possible future diversity. In fact (as the examples showed) it could work in exactly the opposite direction.

    As far as “climate change” is concerned, we will not have any perceptible impact on our future climate through “sustainability” (the notion that we can is an uncorroborated myth). Nor will we protect ourselves against future extreme weather events.

    Increasing the height of a dike or sea wall is an example of improving our “resilience” (against high storm tides). Installing irrigation systems to protect against droughts is another. Increasing the use of nuclear power generation or applying improved drilling and fracking technology to access previously inaccessible domestic oil and gas reserves to stave off an energy supply crisis is arguably yet another.

    Only though improving “resilience” can we prepare ourselves for any climate changes, extreme weather events or energy shortages that might occur in the future.

    It is a positive sign, IMO, if the myopic fixation on “sustainability” is de-emphasized in the general thinking of environmentalists and policy makers and is replaced by a greater emphasis on “resilience”. Let’s hope this shift really takes place in the policy debate on climate and energy.

    This approach will do more for humanity in the long run.

    Max

    • For some reason I can’t make posts, just replies to existing posts.

      My opinion of sustainability as a concept is similar to yours. It often is used to support placing limits on things. I prefer the concept of stewardship. For me it connotates the wise and informed use of things, which is different from just placing limits on them so people can’t use them. It requires a balance between our environment and human needs. A motto we use at Wolftree is that we strive to create “A scientist for a day and a steward for life.”

      Is it fair to say that sustainability is a concept for the soft, social sciences, while resiliency is one for the engineering and hard sciences?

      • No, Tim, sustainability is an unscientific concept when applied to the world at large. And resiliency is what we develop in the face of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that we all face, it’s not confined to any field.

      • timg56, keep trying. If nothing else works, you might try a different browser ( i.e., Chrome or Firefox). If the problem goes away while you are trying a different browser, you will attribute the solution to that browser even if it isn’t. Anyway, I find more than one browser useful, and you may too if haven’t already.

      • Max,

        I suspect you are correct about it being my browser. Unfortunately not much I can do about it, seeing as most of my blog reading is done during my lunch time or breaks in my work day. I regularly see messages telling me my browser is out of date.

      • timg56, if it’s your employer’s computer there may be restrictions on what you can download.

        If it’s your computer, and you want more than one browser, just Google “Chrome” and/or “Firefox” and follow the instructions to download one or both of these browsers. I have an Mac which came with Safari as a browser, but I prefer Chrome so I use it most of the time. I use Firefox for Youtube because fewer things are blocked.

    • Max_Ch, the best thing about resilience for those promoting resilience is they won’t live long enough to have to be resilient.

      • David Springer

        Is that some kind of death threat?

      • blueice2hotsea

        DS -

        IMO, Max_OK promotes ageist bigotry from the perspective of having read only one book. Should he advance to middle-age without growth, he will remain a bigot, albeit one who targets youth.

      • David Springer

        If he read only one book then he couldn’t have graduated high school in Oklahoma as they have a minimum requirement of two books. Usually it’s the Old Testament and the New Testament but we know that can’t be the case for Max because then he’d know something about honoring his parents.

      • Steven Mosher

        On the contrary. Climate science shows us that climate change is already changing the weather. And further, that more extreme weather is already in the pipeline, as we both know from reading our trenberth and hansen.
        The effects of climate change on extreme weather are already “baked into” the system and there is nothing that cutting emissions now will do to change the next 30 years. This is the consensus position. Given that, given that according to our best science, we are already changing the weather and have baked in another 30 years of worse weather, the question is rather simple: what can we do to make our world and our childrens lives more resilient in the next 30 years.

      • Mosher,

        There are times when I cannot distinguish between you expressing your opinion and exhibiting your sense of sarcasim.

      • Steven Mosher

        “Mosher,

        There are times when I cannot distinguish between you expressing your opinion and exhibiting your sense of sarcasim.”

        hehe. here is what I am suggesting. If max_OK and others really want to take the science of Trenberth and Hansen seriously, if they really believe it, then the upshot would be an alarm call for resilience.

        I would argue for more resilience on a different fact pattern. Namely, we are not prepared for the weather of the past, much less the weather of the future.

        So, as a way of engaging the mitigators on their own ground ( what the science says ) I am willing to argue from THEIR premises, because the outcome of the argument ( more resilience) is the same regardless of whether you start from my premises ( we are not prepared for the weather of the past) or whether you start from their premises, ‘extreme’ weather is baked into the pipeline. Winning an argument with your opponents premises is a favored Moshpit tactic.

      • blueice2hotsea said on May 30, 2013 at 9:07 am

        “IMO, Max_OK promotes ageist bigotry from the perspective of having read only one book.”
        _______

        I love old people. Where would I be without old people? Where would any of us be without old people?

        I am indebted to my parents, my grandparents, and all my ancestors, as well as a lot of other old people living and dead.

        I even believe ancestor worship makes some sense.

        It’s too bad our society emphasizes youth so much.

      • Mosher,

        willard calls my admiration for the way you argue a position cheerleading.

        I see it simply as good observational skills.

      • Mosh said

        ‘I would argue for more resilience on a different fact pattern. Namely, we are not prepared for the weather of the past, much less the weather of the future.’

        The weather of the past (LIA and MWP) was MUCH worse than the weather of the present, so if we base our resilience plans on that it will probably be perfectly suitable for the weather of the future.

        tonyb

      • rogercaiazza

        Mosher – “Namely, we are not prepared for the weather of the past, much less the weather of the future.” That is absolutely perfect. And as you point out has tremendous ramifications.

      • Steven Mosher

        tonyb

        “The weather of the past (LIA and MWP) was MUCH worse than the weather of the present, so if we base our resilience plans on that it will probably be perfectly suitable for the weather of the future.

        tonyb”

        you should contact Steve Mc. A while back we were discussing the storms of our grand parents.

      • Steven Mosher

        timg56 | May 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        Mosher,

        willard calls my admiration for the way you argue a position cheerleading.

        I see it simply as good observational skills.

        #########################

        hmm go figure. It’s a free world. willard is free to point out the flawed arguments and rhetorical tricks I use ( throw tomatoes at me) and free to throw tomatoes at people who see the sense in my better arguments. So basically, yes, he is free to ‘boo” people who “cheer” my positions.
        That tactic, however, doesn’t really address the argument and re inforces the polarity that people tend to complain about. For my own part I’m happy to cheer a good argument who ever makes it.

        I think ‘we are not prepared for the weather of the past” puts the issue quite nicely. Of course its ironic. And irony is devilishly hard to counter.

    • Rob Starkey

      Mosher writes

      “the question is rather simple: what can we do to make our world and our children’s lives more resilient in the next 30 years.”

      Do “we” have some duty to make “our world” more resilient or is the issue addressed correctly at a national level where each nation is responsible for its own preparations?

      • Steven Mosher

        The issue is individual first and foremost, then local, then state, then national. Internationally, we should act with enlightened self interest.
        We want our allies to be more resilient. And since we love commerce and since commerce thrives in a stable environment, I also want neutral parties to be resilient. My enemies, it depends.

      • Rob Starkey

        Agreed, although that is a completely different order than Mr Hansen and his supporters would argue makes sense. There you go being pragmatic

      • Rob Starkey

        “Resilience” is principally an individual trait – either you are or you aren’t.

        Unlike “sustainability”, it is a “bottoms up” concept

        At the community level or even higher there could be cases where the voting public wants their government to ensure “resilience” to natural disasters (such as floods, for example). The Dutch have been living with this for centuries at a regional or even national level.

        Tornado early warning systems have been around for some time and are constantly getting improved, even though the threat from tornadoes has not really increased. Here it is also up to each individual (or neighborhood)to ensure “resilience” by having a storm shelter.

        So “resilience” at the individual, community or regional level to the effects of extreme weather events is nothing new.

        It’s just being framed in the context of AGW because that sounds sexy and gets people’s attention. In reality it has nothing to do with AGW.

        And the central planners who have lost the battle to sell “sustainability” to the general public (since it boils down to personal sacrifice), are now using “resilience” as a new tack to help us all do a “better” job of running our lives.

        Plus ça change…

        Max

      • Rob Starkey

        Max

        I do not see sustainability as only an individual behavior as I consider the construction and maintenance of robust infrastructure to be the keys. Think building codes that essentially force individuals to build things that are sustainable

  12. Society showed resilience in dealing with cutbacks in services ostensibly due to the sequester. Far deeper budget cuts will be necessary bring return the government to the people. The EPA needs to be right-sized right out of existence. And, we’re not getting value for our education dollars. We’ve got to get the federal government out of the business of feeding propaganda to the children.

  13. Robert Ayers

    Nassim Taleb has a related concept with regard to finance and banking that he calls “anti-fragile”.

  14. pottereaton

    “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” Clint Eastwood, Heartbreak Ridge, 1986

    • I was going to say, seeing it’s Clint, “And then shoot it,” but instead I’m inspired to get hold of the movie, which I’ve never seen.

    • The USMC has being teaching that well before Clint said it.

      Of course he was playing the part of a Marine.

      Faustino,

      The movie is only so so.

      Two out of many I’d recommend are the lessor known titles Attack Force Z (with a young Mel Gibson) and 84 Charlie MoPic.

      • Or, one can watch real combat. This is foreign made. The splicing tells an interesting story, and there is some rarely seen combat footage:

      • David Springer

        Full Metal Jacket – most realistic USMC movie I’ve ever seen. Set in 1967 from arrival of recruits in boot camp at Paris Island through to deployment in Vietnam Tet Offensive. I’m a Vietnam Era Marine and was at PI for boot camp. I would have sworn that was filmed at the recruit depot in South Carolina but it was a done-up Royal Air Force barracks in England. R. Lee Ermy is the spitting image of my senior drill instructor too.

      • JCH,

        Excellent. It has something I haven’t seen before – the accompanying sound track.

        Most people are not aware that the fast majority of photos and film from the war (for that matter every sunsequent conflict) have never made into public view. It’s easier for film and documentary makers to keep using the same stock footage. A great example is the clip of three dive bombers starting their run. Every piece about Pearl Harbor uses it and I’ve seen it used on numerous other ocassions to depict Japanese aerial attacks (nanking, singapore, etc). The clip is of three Douglas Dauntless SBD scout bombers – i.e US aircraft. (This aircraft accounted for the largest percentage of Japanese shipping sunk by aerial attack.)

        PS – this is a US produced show, not foreign. You just picked a version that was shown on Spanish tv, hence the subtitles.

      • Recourse to Cecil Brown.
        =======

      • Tim, somewhere in there is my Dad. There are around a dozen photographs of him on Iwo, but so far I have not spotted him in a video.

        Around 23:04 is a section of film I have never seen before. It looks to be early on D-Day, fairly low berm, probably Green or Red Beach. I say early because the vehicles are LVTs like the ones that were used in the waves 1 through 5, and the beach is clean and fairly free of footprints and machine prints.

        What I am trying to figure out, the Marines have formed up against a berm, and they quickly start jumping off in small numbers. A Marine runs across the backs of the assembled Marines. He is carrying a rifle in one hand and a bundled object in the other. He eventually tosses the bundled object to another Marine. You have to presume he ran over there to do that.

        Not long afterwards, a Marine jumps off with the bundled object. It’s a mystery to me. The editor is splicing a lot, so when you see Higgins-type boats and Sherman tanks, that is later that morning.

        Anyway, if it is who I think it is, 80 minutes later they, around 45 Marines, were down to a Lt. and around 6 riflemen. But I’m probably wrong.

        Rarely agree with Springer, but my Dad loved FMJ.

      • JCH @ 10.15: I was almost 2 on D-Day: early birthday present. I’m not a war or military history buff, but my wife bought me Antony Beevor’s “D-Day – the battle for Normandy.” I was mortified at the contrast between the British, at all levels and the US forces. For example, the Marines crossed the beach and fought their way off it. The Brits crossed the beach, took shelter and made tea. Overall, Monty and his men constantly failed to adequately support the US initiatives, it would have been a disaster if run by the Brits.

        My wife also gave me Beevor’s book on Crete, probably one of the most inept military performances in world history. I had to stop reading it.

        Various – thanks for the film tips.

      • Faustino, don’t say I haven’t been warning you about those Brits. Imagine having to do the Normandy thing with Geoffrey Boycott.

      • mosomoso, that’s SIR Geoffrey to you.

      • Sir Faustino, just to bring things back on topic:
        India and England (think Gavaskar and Boycott) play sustainable cricket.
        Australia and the West Indies play resilient cricket.

      • JCH,

        Great input.

        I’d have to re-check to be sure, but I believe Iwo Jima was the only battle in the war where the Marine Corps suffered higher losses than the Japanese. Casualty rates were in the 40% range. Historically, a unit is considered combat ineffective after 10%. At 20 – 30% it usually exhibits a loss of cohesion and even if withdrawn from the field (vs. being driven from it) is considered effectively destroyed. The Marine Corps has figured out how to ignore those numbers, with units having remained effective at losses exceeding 50%.

        For the record, I have to admit to some bias. Our son is a Marine 2nd Lt.

  15. Biological Robustness

    Robustness is a ubiquitously observed property of biological systems. It is considered to be a fundamental feature of complex evolvable systems. It is attained by several underlying principles that are universal to both biological organisms and sophisticated engineering systems. Robustness facilitates evolvability and robust traits are often selected by evolution. Such a mutually beneficial process is made possible by specific architectural features observed in robust systems. But there are trade-offs between robustness, fragility, performance and resource demands, which explain system behaviour, including the patterns of failure. Insights into inherent properties of robust systems will provide us with a better understanding of complex diseases and a guiding principle for therapy design.

    • Perhaps we should be thinking “robustness,” which is effectively what I’ve done in my economic policy advice, rather than “resilience.” Robustness involves rolling with punches, changing as required, not totally dependent on specific external conditions. In short, being human, I think that the scaremongers underestimate us. Perhaps they are alien plants seeking to undermine us.

      • @Faustino…

        Sorry, I didn’t notice this post was a response to mine. Many years ago I read Robustness and evolvability in living systems edited by Andreas Wagner. My impression of robustness, based on what I read, is that it’s primarily redundancy, of many sorts.

        For instance, in developmental pathways a robust system is one where one or several of the pathways defining a specific developmental event can be deleted or disabled but the event occurs in roughly its original form due to redundant alternate pathways.

      • maksimovich

        “My impression of robustness, based on what I read, is that it’s primarily redundancy, of many sorts.”

        The redundancy is the duplication of genome and its accompanying complexity eg

        http://www.sciencemag.org/content/302/5649/1401.abstract

        Which is a substantive constraint on climatic induced catastrophic collapse of marine ecosystems such as phytoplankton as transfer is horizontal.

      • @maksimovich…

        The redundancy is the duplication of genome and its accompanying complexity

        No. Duplication and reuse of genes offers a larger template for redundant developmental control paths to evolve, but the redundancy comes in a variety of forms throughout evolving complex systems.

        Which is a substantive constraint on climatic induced catastrophic collapse [sic] of marine ecosystems such as phytoplankton as transfer is horizontal.

        It most certainly is not. Horizontal gene transfer is fairly rare, and when it does occur with some effect, it’s far more likely to induce catastrophic reorganization than prevent it. Of course, like most mutations, by far the most probable effect of any LGT event is lethal or substantially suboptimal. The next most probable is no particular effect. Only rarely is such a mutation beneficial to the population in which it occurs, and when it is that population can undergo a population explosion and subsequent adaptive radiation. Which can often cause a catastrophic reorganization of the ecosystem.

      • Peter Lang

        Faustino,

        Perhaps we should be thinking “robustness,” which is effectively what I’ve done in my economic policy advice, rather than “resilience.” Robustness involves rolling with punches, changing as required, not totally dependent on specific external conditions. In short, being human, I think that the scaremongers underestimate us.

        Good point. And “Robustness” ties in with “Robust Analysis” which Judith has posted on in the past.

        I prefer the term “Robustness” to “Resilience“. One reason is less terms and clear tie between what we are trying to achieve and “Robust Analysis” which helps us to make appropriate policy decisions.

      • Hmmm, sounds like the ‘robustness’ of the Piltdown Mann’s Crook’t Hockey Stick ‘rolling with punches, changing as required, not totally dependent on specific external conditions’.
        ===========

  16. Pingback: Crisis of the week: the biosphere … new “Statement” percolated, circulated and endorsed | The View From Here

  17. Dinosaurs were sustainable. Mosquitoes are resilient. However well adapted they may have been at the time, dinosaurs were hit by a black swan. The future is like that, unknowable. For survival, adaptable beats sustainable.

  18. how urban planners in big cities think about updating antiquated infrastructure, much of which is robust in the face of normal threats like equipment failures but — as was just demonstrated in the New York region — fragile in the face of unanticipated shocks like flooding, pandemics, terrorism or energy shortages.

    This lays bare the nonsense. These shocks are totally anticipated. But their dangers are discounted by monopolistic urban planners that report to politicians.

    Resiliance is a fine concept. But can it exist within a large government central planning structure that is woefully subject to Group Think? New York was given a heaven-sent dry-run in resiliance testing with Hurricane Irene in 2011. What lessons were learned, what advice heeded in the preparation to Sandy 2012? I’ll give NYC credit for keeping the rolling stock out of the water. Not so much with regard to the tunnels.

    When it comes to resiliance, many small limited points of failure usually are better than one system wide failure. The electrical grid, Water systems, Food distribution, gasoline distribution, fire safety come to mind.

    But I’ll admit, sometimes a top down system is essential. The US Nave “SubSafe” program, instituted after Thresher and envigorated after Scorpion, is a no-excuses fervor toward resiliance to failure of anything exposed to pressure or recovery from flooding. For 50 years it has worked. It is expensive on the books, but it saves lives and boats so ultimately it pays off. It isn’t quick.

    Aviation safety is another example of resiliance. The NTSB and builders don’t like making the same mistake twice.

    I like Dr. Curry’s concept that resiliance is “orthogonal” to sustainability. It is a different dimension of thinking.

    Sustainability seems to result in “Shall not” restrictions.
    Resiliance, which I think derives from an engineering mindset, generates not only a “Can Do!” attitude, but “MUST Do”.

    • + 10.

      From a sub sailor who served on one of the few non-SubSafe boats active in the fleet at the time.

      (On the plus side, we were also the quietest boat on the river.)

  19. Past certainties refuted, new understandings explored
    terincrease resilience, like increasing soil biomass by
    no till farming to sequester CO2 and increase food
    crops …and more!
    BC

    • Freeman Dyson will be age 90 in December. I hope he makes it.

      Beauty doth varnish age, as if new-born,
      And gives the crutch the cradle’s infancy.

      Love’s Labour’s Lost (4.3.250)

      On second thought Freeman doesn’t look like any baby I’ve ever seen.

      • Max_OK

        Through his recorded words and thoughts, Freeman Dyson will continue to live for many people long after he’s gone.

        You and I (and most others) will not have that fortune.

        Max_CH

      • Max_CH, consider videos of yourself to passed down to your descendants. If you want to give them something really useful, have a video made of you talking about your life and what you remember about your parents and grandparents. Make up a list of questions your wife or children can ask you while you are seated in front of a camera mounted on a tripod. Drink some wine to overcome any inhibitions you may have.

        I believe most of your descendants will find your oral history video interesting, and those interested in geneology will be delighted. Make one of your wife too.

  20. Resilience just as sustainability will fail. The reason is that both are expected to be impressed upon the public from on high by force. What ever happened to a free people each being responsible for them selves. Each freely trading with others his skills, ideas, knowledge, and products in a value for value win win situation. No. Some elite group is going to plan what the future is to be and how others are going to make it happen. Then will expect to be able force the others to see and do things their way. It never has worked when tried and it never will work.

    I want neither your resilient nor your sustainable future. I want to be free to create the future myself for myself and to freely trade with others of like minds. This is the only kind of society that has ever worked. That is if by working you mean to support and sustain a live worth living with a chance to make it a flourishing life.

    You all can take your grand plans and stuff them where the sun doesn’t shine!

    • Lionel:
      “Resilience just as sustainability will fail. The reason is that both are expected to be impressed upon the public from on high by force.”

      This is why we have elections. Our representatives try to work out what is best for all of us based on what you and I and “experts” tell them.

      Let’s suppose that for the last 60 years there had been a tiny government that established no regulations. Now, I don’t know where you live, but just for discussion’s sake let’s say in the mountains of Idaho. Without any government oversight, what would your neighborhood look like? Well, there would be no trees because they would all have been clear-cut. Your mountain would probably be gone to provide coal or uranium or shale oil. The air would have a yellow hue and stench from the west coast because there were no smog limits. Your wife couldn’t get any help with her breast cancer because the insurance company had found some pre-existing condition when she came in for surgery. You get the picture. I could construct a similar picture for someone in a suburb of, say, Philadelphia, if you were to survive the great fire of the Schuylkill River of 1985.

      As much as it’s nice to imagine we could all do without each other or a government, it would be a very difficult reality for all of us except the few people at the top of the corporate pyramid. If you are one of those, then good luck to you. Somehow I don’t think you are, or you wouldn’t be wasting time with the rest of us on this web site.

      The idea of movements like sustainability and resilience is to try to make the world livable for our children and their descendants. It’s not to find yet another way to maintain control over you. If we don’t maintain control through some orderly societal process (government) then our corporate masters will.

      • It makes no difference if the force comes from an elite majority or and elite minority. Force is being applied to make those who are outside of that elite group to do as the elite group wishes. It is a policy of slaves and masters and not of free men individually choosing for them selves in their personal context. It won’t work, never has worked, and never will – in the long run.

        It is nothing but rule by thugs for thugs and of thugs which will collapse. The reason? The ruling elite begin to confuse themselves with god and try to dictate to reality what it is and must be. They get away with it as long as there are willing sacrificial victims to be consumed. Once they are consumed, the system fails.

        There are even more profound reasons why it will fail but in this world that accepts nothing but 20 second sound bytes, it is a much too long discussion.

      • Actually, Lionel, I don’t disagree with everything you say. My experience is, though, that no human endeavor exists in a power vacuum. Either we do our best to maintain control or someone else will seize control. There is no existing without someone in charge. In a capitalist environment, that will either be a government of informed citizens, or the masters of the corporatocracy. Which do you prefer?

      • Those are not the only two possibilities. Nor are they the most likely of multiple options.

      • “Our representatives try to work out what is best for all of us based on what you and I and “experts” tell them.” tc, I’ve met a few like that, they often get little support from fellow politicians. Mostly (and increasingly), politicians have their own agendas and aren’t all that altruistic. Occasionally, you get a government with a genuine concern for the well-being of the people, and the wisdom and gumption to adopt welfare-enhancing policies. But more often not. As you say, we don’t live in a power vacuum. Part of sustainability/resilience/robustness is fighting to retain the capacity for individuals to be self-reliant, not to be the fodder of the powerful. Those who seek to direct, to choose for us – emissions reductions, anyone? – attack the very strength which makes humans survivors. Government grows, self-reliance fades; that should be reversed, so many of the pro-CAGW policies are completely in the wrong direction if you really want a resilient, robust, adaptable populace, one able to deal with whatever the future brings rather than only one projected future.

      • Stephen,
        I’m sure we can find fifty shades of gray in there, but the first option (while perhaps unattainable) is the one that I will strive for.

        Faustineo:
        I simply don’t accept Reagan’s maxim “government is not the solution, government is the problem.” I also don’t accept that strong (democratic), effective government robs people of initiative. There will always be people who game the safety net just as there individuals and corporations that game the financial and tax systems. Solipsistic people and institutions are not unique to one socioeconomic stratum. We need to maintain vigilance at all levels.

      • tcf, as Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others which have been tried. But government was much smaller and less intrusive when he said that, it’s still the best option but now in many countries the majority are dependent on government either directly as employees or as recipients of benefits, and this introduces huge distortions and perverse incentives. In addition, in Australia and I believe some other countries, we are now governed largely by a “political class,” people who are student activists then work for trade unions, political parties or politicians and have no life or knowledge “outside the beltway.” Our government has sought to intrude into more and more areas, to restrict freedom of speech and determine our moral values. At least they’ll get trounced in September, but what they’ve done can not easily be unwound – there’s a ratchet effect, which serves pollies and bureaucrats well, the rest of us less well. So I’m in favour of anything which winds this back, one reason I oppose warmista policies for increasingly centralised control and direction, for bigger government and less individual choice and responsibility.

      • Faustino,
        I disagree with essentially every comment you made in this one post. Even so, from other things of yours that I have read, you are a guy I’d like to know.
        The purpose of an economy is to provide opportunities for any individual who wants to work and contribute to do so. I simply do not accept the premise that the economy exists to provide a context for corporations to to make profits and to maximize the utilization of any and all resources to maximize productivity and profit. I believe the economy exists to optimize people’s existence, not the other way around. Thus, government jobs are just as much a part of the economy as any other job, The whole idea that tax money is somehow “lost” is silly because it pays someones salary, provides service to someone, pays someone to make something. I think the “Free Market” has become the god to whom all of humanity owes sycophancy.
        Anyway, I think we have an idea of where we are each “coming from”.

      • tcflood, what, and I’m such an agreeable feller! I “do not accept the premise that the economy exists to provide a context for corporations to make profits and to maximize the utilization of any and all resources to maximize productivity and profit,” and I’m sorry that you have the impression that I do accept that premise. I also believe that people’s well-being is paramount, and I support policies which seem to me to promote that. I happen to believe, from long professional and other experience that free markets and small government are more conducive to general well-being than the reverse.

        Government jobs generally do not create wealth (and many do not contribute to well-being), and are dependent on wealth created by private enterprise, whether individual, small business, corporation or other. Throughout Europe and in Australia, the shift to government provision has had adverse effects, it has and will continue to slow the growth of opportunities, incomes and employment, and the level of resources available for government programs. The balance has been lost.

        Not only are there well-documented “deadweight losses” from governments taxing and spending, in Australia, and most likely in Europe, increasing bureaucratisation has led to public sector wages and employment growing faster than in the private sector (though Bart R and Max_OK think I need to revisit the data on this), putting a higher burden on the wealth-creating sectors. This can only end in tears – ask Greece.

      • Tears in social fabric. Which reminds me, is it ravelling or unravelling?
        ===============

      • Peter Lang

        Faustino @May 30, 2013 at 6:14 am

        +1000

      • Faustino | May 30, 2013 at 6:14 am |

        Deadweight loss, aka ‘tax churn’, is one of the distortions reduced by a carbon tax, even if you are arguing for an actual tax, as opposed to a fee and dividend proposal.

        This ‘double dividend’ of switching from other forms of tax to collect revenue to carbon taxation is commended by Ross McKitrick’s survey of tax proposals from his PhD thesis. Less red tape than other taxes. Less bureaucrats to administer. Money spends less time as dead weight and more in circulation. Proven lower harm to economy after economy and product after product where similar taxes replace other, greedier and stupider, taxes.

        It’s not what I propose, but it’s not what you claim, either. I’m proposing privatization, not tax, and paying out the owners of the air for the lucrative use of the demonstrated scarcity of the carbon cycle. You propose a Straw Man.

      • Bart,

        You had me all the way up to the last paragraph.

        But that could be due to my inability to visualize what a system you describe would look like and how it would work.

      • Faustino said in his post of May 30, 2013 at 6:14 am

        “in Australia, and most likely in Europe, increasing bureaucratisation has led to public sector wages and employment growing faster than in the private sector (though Bart R and Max_OK think I need to revisit the data on this) …”
        _______

        Trends in government employment in the U.S. may be different than trends in government employment in Europe and Australia.

        Klugman had a NY Times article showing total government employment in the U.S declined relative to the nations total population over the 2002- 2012 period.

        http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/09/government-employment/

        A more historical perspective can be found in BLS data on nonfarm employment that go all the way back to 1939 (see link below). For the 36-year period 1939-1975, I calculated government employment rose from 13.2 % to 19.2% of total nonfarm employment, but in the following 37 year period 1975-2012, it declined to 16.5% of the total. My calculations are based on the annual averages . I didn’t have the patience to identify in what year the ratio was at it’s highest.

        The BLS series disaggregates government employment into Federal, State, and Local beginning in 1955. Local government employment is the largest of the three, which isn’t surprising since there are lots of school teachers, fire fighters, and police. State government employment has been the fastest growing (I don’t know why). Federal employment is the smallest, and has been the most volatile, maybe in part because it’s the most sensitive to changes in defense spending.

        Annual average employment peaked at almost 14.6 million in Local government in 2008 and at almost 5.2 million in State government in the same year. Federal government employment peaked back in 1990 at about 3.2 million.

        Seasonally adjusted 2013 data for Jan and Feb show little difference in government employment compared to the same months in 2012. The same can be said for preliminary 2013 data for March an April.

        http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cesbtab1.htm

      • timg56 | May 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

        Would look like?

        It’d look like today, mostly.

        You, and everyone who uses something CO2E emitting (cf http://www.dailymarkets.com/stock/2013/05/30/honeywells-low-global-warming-solvent-approved-by-u-s-environmental-protection-agency/) like fuel or solvent or asphalt or sealant, would pay a bit more at the point of sale. The same systems as are in place to deliver VAT or other point-of-sale add-ons would be piggy-backed by this fee.

        The fee would go to a fund immediately, separate from government revenues.

        From there, the government as trustee of the exchange would work to get 100% of the dividend per capita to each owner with a share in the carbon cycle.

        It might do it by reducing income tax, or by adding the amount to paychecks in payroll systems — piggybacking on other existing government systems — or whatever is appropriate and administrably feasible in each jurisdiction.

        BC does it, I believe, mainly by rolling back income tax.. It’s not my personal favorite way to do it, but who am I to substitute my judgment for others’? My preference would be as the Citizens Climate Lobby proposes: reward people who have jobs, or held jobs until retirement, by payroll disbursement.

        The amount of the fee, and of the dividend, would be set to maximize the level of the dividend, just like any product pricing mechanism. Like Coke does it for soft drinks. Like grocers do it for apples.

        As the price increase works its way through the Market, we know 70% of people will come out far ahead under Privatization than they do now under Free Ridership. 20% will come out about even, until the waste in the system due subsidized prices is squeezed out, then even for this 20% by virtue of better ROI, the economic benefits will be felt. Only 10% — current Free Riders — those who most waste or most steal right now, will pay significantly more. They’ll have to negotiate their dealings based on their less favored position in the system.. just like all of us.

        Eventually, as the world evolves, this will become normal. As normal as Facebook or cell phones or computers or television. And the prices will normalize, too. There’ll always be lucrative activities that sell CO2E emitting goods. There’ll always be some dividend, at some level. And the Market will be fair. PEople will be paying for the benefit they get. They’ll make Market decisions fairly without the input of the government to their exchanges by overtaxing and then selectively subsidizing.

        The Market will grow. Efficiency will increase. It will happen without inflationary pressure. Innovation will grow. Jobs will grow. Distortions will fall. The way Capitalism is meant to work.

    • Lionell, that was my immediate response to the Berkeley quote. Don’t ask people to face reality – which is the only way we can proceed – but, having failed with attempts to drive change through certain language etc, let’s dress it up another way. Change is reality, it’s everywhere, in every moment, in every sub-atomic particle. We’ve been facing it for millennia. The lack of faith in humanity is astonishing. I’m pro-human, why would anyone not be?

    • @Lionell Griffith…

      Resilience just as sustainability will fail. The reason is that both are expected to be impressed upon the public from on high by force. What ever happened to a free people each being responsible for them selves. Each freely trading with others his skills, ideas, knowledge, and products in a value for value win win situation. No. Some elite group is going to plan what the future is to be and how others are going to make it happen. Then will expect to be able force the others to see and do things their way. It never has worked when tried and it never will work.

      Actually, your assumption that resilience has to be “impressed upon the public from on high by force” is entirely incorrect. That’s how most people in government planning positions assume it’s got to be done, but it doesn’t.

      Let’s take the specific case of power, and protection against power failures. Now, there doesn’t really have to be a single common local distribution system, but let’s assume there is. It buys its power from several power generating organizations, perhaps local or perhaps via long-distance transmission.

      Because it’s providing its clients a quality-of-service guarantee, it needs to buy insurance in case the vendors who provide its power are impacted by a natural (or other) catastrophe. The providers of this insurance will undertake to provide replacement power in such an emergency, and if they fail will be liable for the QOS-failure penalties. They in turn will contract with various power vendors to have “drawing rights” against those vendors’ excess generating capacity.

      Here is where resilience comes in. Each vendor has an incentive to develop substantial excess capacity, to render its facilities as disaster-proof as possible. They would be liable to the insurance carriers they have contracted with to pay QOS-failure penalties if they fail to come through. They, too, would probably carry insurance, whose vendors would have a strong incentive to inspect them and keep them on their toes. Any failure to take expected precautions would result in increased premiums at the cost of profits, along with the strong risk of being dropped as emergency vendors, which would represent losing substantial income.

      This whole system would have to be tied together by inspections of facilities according to common standards. This could well be performed by government inspectors, an assumption I suspect most people here would make. However, it wouldn’t have to be. Counterparty Surveillance might well do better.

      Counterparty Surveillance “refers (at least) to the observation by lenders and trading partners of an institution’s leverage and other aspects of its ability to meet its trading commitments.” In this case, trading commitments consist primarily of the capacity to provide excess power under emergency conditions, along with various risk-trading commitments.

      My point here is that, while the government might end up doing it, provision of robust resilience in power supply could actually be undertaken entirely within the private sector.

    • Lionell Griffith

      Agree with almost everything you write.

      “Sustainability” as it is defined with relation to “climate change” is (by definition) a centralized “top down” concept, based on the “Thou shalt not…” principle. [In addition, it is a myth that we can "sustain" our climate, irrespective of how much money we throw at it.]

      But “resilience” is not necessarily “top down”. Nor need it be “centralized”. It is the natural path to survival, and can be ensured on a personal, local or regional level, as required to meet the challenge, if and when the challenge appears imminent. [It is the natural way to go to ensure survival.]

      Max

      • The problem is that today ALL proposed solutions lead to the assertion that a heavy handed top down power and control central planning approach is necessary. We mere mortals are simply to follow the dictates of the elite simply because they are the elite. If we don’t we will be forced to follow by use of the government gun to fit the Procrustean Bed of one size fits all. THAT is what I object to with every fiber of my mind and being. There is no and can be no one size fits all.

        The individual has an unalienable right to be free and left alone exactly because of the nature of his being and his necessary relationship to reality. This is true even if the top down plan is truly the best one. it is the initiation of force that is wrong in every instance. It is sufficiently wrong to nullify any possible benefit from the proposed truth that is being enforced.

        I will agree, however, that the most resilient and sustainable system is the one in which people are left free to use their own abilities to take advantage or counter the disadvantages of their local situation. Then to freely trade value for value what they have learned and produced. All the while being left free from the initiation of force from others. When a people are left free of initiation of force, this is exactly the system they choose BECAUSE IT WORKS! Further, it is the ONLY moral system because it allows each individual to live his OWN life and use it as HE sees fit.

        The ONLY legitimate function of government is to prohibit that initiation of force. Yet, all governments, since the start of governments, have been the PRIMARY initiator of force against its own citizens let alone the citizens of other governments. Hence, government is very much a part of the problem and a vanishingly small part of the solution.

        I apologize for going past the 20 second sound byte limit. However, these are particularly important ideas to understand and they cannot be stated in 20 seconds.

    • Hi Lionell,

      Your ” .. Some elite group is going to plan what the future is to be and how others are going to make it happen .. ” is topical. There was a meeting of the Bilderberg Group just down the road from me yesterday which brought out rent-a crowd.

      As I travelled through the tree-lined lanes to a birthday gathering I wondered why all the police were out diverting traffic instead of catching criminals then remembered what was going on in the area.

      Guess who attended that secret get-together of the world’s most powerful shapers – Our beloved Prime Minister David Cameron. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/07/bilderberg-group-summit-cameron-damned).

      I am no lover of the Guardian but have no disagreement with what is said in that article. We need more transparency, not the secrecy so loved by the Bilderberg Group. I am one of the ” .. advocates of transparency and accountability .. ” which is why I post articles such as “SpotlightON – PSI and PSI Acumen Ltd” (http://globalpoliticalshenanigans.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/spotlighton-principia-scientific.html) and “Curriculum Vitae for John O’Sullivan (2010)” (http://globalpoliticalshenanigans.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/curriculum-vitae-for-john-osullivan-2010.html).

      I recommend that you have a careful read of it then get back to me if you have any questions – you know my E-mail address.

      Another article that you might find of interest is “Professor Judith Curry threatened with blog closure attempt” (http://globalpoliticalshenanigans.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/professor-judith-curry-threatened-with.html).

      Best regards, Pete Ridley

  21. Chief Hydrologist

    In its broadest sense, the strategy for sustainable development aims to promote harmony among human beings and between humanity and nature. In the specific context of the development and environment crises of the 1980s, which current national and international political and economic institutions have not and perhaps cannot overcome, the pursuit of sustainable development requires:

    · a political system that secures effective citizen participation in decision making;
    · an economic system that is able to generate surpluses and technical knowledge on a self-reliant and sustained basis;
    · a social system that provides for solutions for the tensions arising from disharmonious development;
    · a production system that respects the obligation to preserve the ecological base for development;
    · a technological system that can search continuously for new solutions,
    · an international system that fosters sustainable patterns of trade and finance, and
    · an administrative system that is flexible and has the capacity for self-correction.

    These requirements are more in the nature of goals that should underlie national and international action on development. What matters is the sincerity with which these goals are pursued and the effectiveness with
    which departures from them are corrected.

    http://conspect.nl/pdf/Our_Common_Future-Brundtland_Report_1987.pdf

    Resilience seems much more of a subset of sustainable development. Increased resilience is possible with resources and good planning. Sustainable development requires resources and planning – but also agreement on such things as dumping in international waters, the trade in endangered species and new ways around organizing in relation to farming systems, ecosystem conservation, water, pollution, arms control, policing, banking, education and government.

    • Those things are sought at the point of the government gun. If someone objects to the program *poof* off to the gulag with him so that he can be “re-educated”. The grand plan will fail as all other grand plans have failed since the creation of governments. The reason: force and mind are polar opposites. Attempt to force someone to produce the products of the mind and it will not and cannot be produced. All it can do is the repetition of digging a ditch (graves?) but it cannot obtain an effective response to an unpredicted and unprepared for circumstance. It is neither resilient nor sustainable.

    • Chief, Lionell: ultimately harmony of any group relies on harmony within each individual. The first priority is self-awareness and developing harmony within oneself, overcoming ego, avarice and aversion. This can’t be brought about externally or en masse. The more we have harmonious individuals, the easier it will be to deal with anything external. And, yes, I put my money where my mouth is, cf my reply to Bart R’s ill-founded comments a few days ago.

      • While I am not sure what you mean by harmony and overcoming ego, avarice, and aversion, you at least are not advocating forcing others into that state at the point of the government gun. In that way, we seem to agree that a voluntary change at the individual level is necessary to achieve a system that works. That much is good.

        However, as I understand your words, your desired state is the same as achieving a total lack of self without desire, motivation, or drive. In effect it is a state of total apathy. That goal only slightly different from death in that one would be biologically alive but not having a life worth living.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The ‘Iriai’ are here to help and give understanding to people.

        http://www.economist.com/node/21557717

      • Lionell, far from it. I grew up as a Christian with an image of saints as other-worldly, ethereal etc. In fact, the saints I’ve met – e.g. S N Goenka, Achaan Cha, J N Krishnamurti – are the most alive and energetic people you could imagine, with their energy totally directed to helping others. I don’t seek to force anyone, I try not to evangelise but to offer an option if it seems relevant. I think you’ll find from my posts that I’m not apathetic, and I’ve lived a life of energy. For example, at the same time as I was an economic adviser to the Prime Minister of Australia, I was also Chairman of the trustees of a meditation centre several hours drive away, during a time of rapid expansion, and raising a family. Two demanding jobs at once. By my standards, at 70, I’m not fit, active and energetic, but according to others I rate highly on those scores for my age. My recent post-heart attack cardio specialist report says “fit, healthy and active with minimal cardiac risk factors.” Everywhere I go, I’m greeted with cheery smiles, it must be my apathetic vibe. :-)

        I don’t have strong self-serving goals, I do do what I can to help the lives of others.

        Paul Fleischman’s “An ancient path” would inform you – well worth your time to read it..

      • Faustino,

        I am 76 and have recently passed a cardiac stress test with flying colors. I am an atheist who’s focus is on this world. Our major difference is you seek selflessness and see that as a virtue. I seek the fullest measure of rational selfishness and self development and see that as a virtue. I am willing to help others if by doing so I preserve and enhance something I value more than the help costs me. I am a trader in materials, methods, and in matters of spirit. I do not give without value received. My driving passion is that I make things that work.

        At least we agree on one thing: others should not be forced to accept either your or my way. That is largely because it cannot be done. Each has free will and must choose his own path, discover truth for himself, and do the work it takes by and for himself. All we can do is offer ideas, a fresh perspective, an example, and work to be as persuasive as we possibly can be. Sometimes it works. Other times we plant seeds that eventually grow. Other times we fail. All the while we keep striving.

      • Faustino | May 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm |

        I stand by those comments.

        Your version of your life in no way conflicts with my version of your life.

        Every generation rediscovers the lesson of the oak and the willow, or the mahogany and the bamboo, or an cast iron and pig iron, and on and on.

        This is a purely aesthetic argument, and a silly one. Why did you want me in it, again?

      • Bart R, peace, bro’.

      • Lionell, +1

  22. Sustainability to me is maintaining a living standard. If an average salary still can afford basics like food, water, energy, fuel, housing at the same fraction as today, all these are sustainable. A future world where we are not paying twice as much in relative terms would be one where the living standard has been sustained. Imagine a world, where climate change has caused some of these prices to go up relative to salary, a situation where prices rise, not to profit anyone, but as a loss to everyone. That would mean sustainability has failed and everyone has to make do with less than we are used to today. Moving from sustainability to resilience as an emphasis is capitulating to the loss of sustainability, but aiming at managing the downturn, controlling the damage levels, adapting to worse conditions. So, yes, resilience is more realistic if climate change makes living standards unsustainable. Holding on to sustainability is an optimistic view, probably akin to the “warming is good” thinking.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      The impact of CO2 has been minor at worst – and likely to be minor for decades to come at least. The expenditure of vast sums quite pointlessly is a distraction we can not afford. There are far more effective avenues than precipitously transforming energy systems.

      • Case in point, transforming energy systems is not a resilience policy unless it is done to prevent future damage that may occur either economically through higher energy prices due to lack of resources, or ecologically via warming impacts that also affect economics via food production or disasters for example.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The two propositions go together – minor impacts of CO2 and proposed large pointless expenditure on minor impacts.

        Resilience is about responding to natural and not imaginary disasters. These will happen regardless and to imagine that there is only one cause and one response is the delusion of our age.

        And the only real solution to energy prices and availability is innovation and markets.

      • You can imagine scenarios. Imagine a local government identifies a major future need for more water due to population growth and climate change. They can build those resources by issuing bonds, hiring a set of private contractors, or not do anything hoping for a free market solution to the ensuing chaos. I prefer the first one.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Governments exist to provide services that private enterprise can’t or won’t provide. The line in the sand is uncertain – and I am far from inflexible. However, water in urban areas is commonly one of those services provided by government – but not necessarily. Depends on the source of the water and the user as well. This is far from expecting governments to be hugely innovative in energy.

      • I would argue that water and energy are both things the government has to guarantee are supplied at a reasonable cost, and therefore they have to also plan for the future and be held responsible if things go wrong.

      • It’s doubtful current fracking technology would be what it is today if not for innovative government initiatives starting in the 1970s. For decades big oil considered shale gas a complete loser: wanted no part of it. At first they didn’t know how much gas and oil was there. So the government did the work to inventory the potential. Then there was no extraction technology. So the government underwrote partnerships to develop the technology.

        To get the horse to water, the government had to find the water, then they had to initiate the making of the straw.

        Then the brilliant, take-charge intepernuurs drank their fill.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘Pan American Petroleum applied the first massive hydraulic fracturing (also known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing) treatment in the non-communist world to a well in Stephens County, Oklahoma in 1968. The treatment injected half a million pounds of proppant into the rock formation.[3] The definition of massive hydraulic fracturing varies somewhat, but is generally used for treatments injecting greater than about 150 mt, or 300,000 pounds of proppant.[7]

        In the 1960s, American geologists became increasingly aware that there were huge volumes of gas-saturated rocks with permeability too low (generally less than 0.1 millidarcy) to recover the gas economically. The US government experimented with using underground nuclear explosions to fracture the rock and enable gas recovery from the rock. Such explosions were tried in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico (Project Gasbuggy, 1967), and the Piceance Basin of Western Colorado (Project Rulison, 1969, and Project Rio Blanco, 1973) but the results were disappointing, and the tests were halted. The petroleum industry turned to the new massive hydraulic fracturing technique as the way to recover tight gas.[7]

        In 1973, Amoco introduced massive hydraulic fracturing to the Wattenberg Gas Field of the Denver Basin of Colorado, to recover gas from the low-permeability J Sandstone. Before massive hydraulic fracturing, the Wattenberg field was uneconomic. Injected volumes of 132,000 or more gallons, and 200,000 or more pounds of sand proppant, succeeded in recovering much greater volumes of gas than had been previously possible.[8] In 1974, Amoco performed the first million-pound frac job, injecting more than a million pounds of proppant into the J Sand of a well in Wattenberg Field.[9]

        The success of massive hydraulic fracturing in the Wattenberg Field of Colorado was followed in the late 1970s by its use in gas wells drilled to tight sandstones of the Mesaverde Group of the Piceance Basin of western Colorado.[10]

        Starting in the 1970s. thousands of tight-sandstone gas wells in the US were stimulated by massive hydraulic fracturing. Examples of areas made economic by the technology include the Clinton-Medina Sandstone play in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York; the San Juan Basin in New Mexico and Colorado; numerous fields in the Green River Basin of Wyoming; and the Cotton Valley Sandstone trend of Louisiana and Texas.[7]‘ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_United_States

        Does letting off nukes count as innovation?

      • Chief Hydrologist said on May 29, 2013 at 11:31 pm

        “Governments exist to provide services that private enterprise can’t or won’t provide.”
        _________

        Thomas Jefferson said a long time ago

        “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.”

        I’ll go with what Jefferson said even though he did own slaves.

        I would rephrase Chief’s statement as follows:

        Government should provide necessary services that private enterprise can’t or won’t provide, or can’t provide as inexpensively.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Jefferson had in mind such things as courts, law enforcement, armies and civil defense. For these things budgets are provided from taxes. The question of efficiency arises in a technical sense but not as a market discipline. Government may be as efficient as the market – but the market ultimately ensures that private enterprise will be innovative and efficient most of the time.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        It’s clear that government investment and research worked to drive innovations and cost declines in shale gas extraction technologies, but one could construct a counterfactual argument that the private sector would have achieved these gains without any public support. But history puts this counterfactual to the test: there are plenty of countries with sizable shale deposits but without America’s strong public innovation system – including Russia, China, Poland, South Africa, Britain, and others – whose active oil and gas industries did not make congruent investments in shale fracturing technologies. It was the United States that first cracked the shale gas challenge through decades of research and commercialization; shale fracturing operations in other countries are only now getting off the ground. Technologies like diamond-studded drill bits and microseismic imaging were developed by federal agencies for non-shale applications, demonstrating the clear and present value of publicly-funded basic research. The initial shale fracturing research and demonstration projects were initiated by the federal Morgantown Energy Research Center, and the bulk of private sector R&D took place
        within the Gas Research Institute, a gas industry research consortia funded partially by a FERC – approved surcharge on natural gas pipelines whose research budgets were subject to federal approval.

        Because private companies have difficulty monetizing and capturing all the benefits of energy technology research, it is consistently the case that federal coordination and investment is required to drive high-level technological innovation in the energy sector. As documented in the
        Breakthrough Institute’s 2010 report “Where Good Technologies Come From,” the American federal government has historically played a leading role in the development a broad range of innovative technologies, including microchips, jet turbines, nuclear power reactors, and the Internet.

        The gas industry itself has spoken on behalf of federal research efforts. “The DOE started it, and other people took the ball and ran with it,” said Mitchell Energy’s former Vice President Dan Steward. “You cannot diminish DOE’s involvement”.’

        The Breakthrough Institute arguing for funds for ongoing federal investment in energy innovation. The question arises about what is the best way for government to sponsor innovation. I have an new audio book in my ipod nano – The Skylark of Space – by E.E. “Doc” Smith. In it a government scientist makes an energy and weapons breakthrough and immediately debunks for private enterprise and outer space where real men get things done.

        I am inclined to think that the best way government to support innovation is through prizes for energy innovation – a billion dollars a pop would concentrate minds. Of course they would have to deliver before payment.

      • Max_OK

        You quote Jefferson.

        Here are two further quotations from him:

        The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.

        I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

        Max_CH

      • manaker,

        You forgot to include this one from Tommy J.

        “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”

        Let Max explain what Jefferson meant by it.

        And while we are doing quotes, here are a couple others that apply to the topic:

        “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests”.
        - Patrick Henry –

        While democracy must have its organization and controls, its vital breath is individual liberty.
        - Charles Evans Hughes

        Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
        George Washington

      • Well, Max_CH and timg56, those guys weren’t right about everything. Some owned slaves and probably didn’t think women should be allowed to vote.

      • Nice Max,

        You quote Jefferson in support of your argument as to what the founding fathers envisioned and when you get spanked with further quotes, you go wa, wa, wa and sqweal “but they owned slaves”.

        While I think it a good thing to channel that inner 5, 9, or 15 year old on ocassion, it isn’t particularly advisable during the course of a serious discussion.

        But then we already know you aren’t really interested in serious discussion.

    • Jim D says: ” Sustainability to me is maintaining a living standard.”

      Jim D also says “resilience is more realistic if climate change makes living standards unsustainable.”
      ________

      Sounds good to me.

      There’s also sustainability and resilience in terms of quality of life, which is not exactly the same thing as standard of living as measured by money.

      • Yes, I guess I was looking for something quantifiable, but quality of life can also be quantified by health, national security and crime statistics, for example. It is no good being wealthy if these other factors have become worse.

      • The improvement in quality of life since the Industrial Revolution, and in particular in the last 60-70 years, has been phenomenal, unprecedented in the history of any species. Let’s give ourselves a tick.

      • Jim D, things like low crime rate and clean air are important to quality of life. So is time spent commuting to and from work.

      • Max_OK

        You mention that ” low crime rate and clean air are important to quality of life. So is time spent commuting to and from work.”

        Agree.

        And another is “access to a reliable source of low-cost energy and clean drinking water”.

        Max_CH

    • Jim D

      Let me give you my comments to your philosophy. You write:

      A future world where we are not paying twice as much in relative terms would be one where the living standard has been sustained.

      This makes sense. It speaks against a (direct or indirect) carbon tax, which would make energy (and everything containing an energy component) more expensive.

      But then you add:

      Imagine a world, where climate change has caused some of these prices to go up relative to salary, a situation where prices rise, not to profit anyone, but as a loss to everyone. That would mean sustainability has failed and everyone has to make do with less than we are used to today.

      One can “imagine” such a fantasy world, but there is no sound basis for thinking such a world will ever occur as a result of “climate change” caused by human beings. It is based on the false anthropocentric assumption that we humans, through our GHG emissions, are the sole or principal cause for changes in our climate (we are not, as the current pause in warming despite unabated human GHG emissions – and earlier pauses – have shown).

      You continue:

      Moving from sustainability to resilience as an emphasis is capitulating to the loss of sustainability, but aiming at managing the downturn, controlling the damage levels, adapting to worse conditions.

      I would not see this as any capitulation; on the contrary, resilience includes taking precautionary measures on a local or regional basis to be able to adapt to any future climate-related threats that seem imminent, if and when it looks like this might be the case. This is simply the common-sense approach to survival of the fittest.

      So, yes, resilience is more realistic if climate change makes living standards unsustainable. Holding on to sustainability is an optimistic view, probably akin to the “warming is good” thinking.

      I would agree that “resilience is more realistic” [than sustainability]. It is highly unlikely that (human induced) “climate change” will “make living standards unsustainable”, but the real myth is that we can ensure sustainability of our climate by taking actions today.

      The truth is that we cannot change (or sustain) our climate no matter how much money we throw at it.

      So we have no option but adaptation to ensure resilience.

      And that is what is going to happen (as it always has).

      Max

      • manacker, first of all, a carbon tax is not going to break anyone’s budget, and may help some in the long run. Do the numbers and you will see that. You have trouble imagining cases where water, energy or fuel prices go up by large factors, so you believe in sustainability just happening with no need to plan for it. Sustainability is a great goal to have, but it is not guaranteed even with effort. These challenges lead to unpredictable outcomes globally, e.g. wars to maintain or obtain resources. Climate change is the only predictable slowly unfolding threat. Other things like volcanoes, asteroids, solar effects and earthquakes are not. So this makes it theoretically avoidable or at least capable of being planned for in a more precise way, which is what many are trying to do, while others sit by and criticize them, not even wanting to consider their own worst-case scenarios for 2100 and how they would change things to avoid it. Resilience is an issue because basing planning on previous climate is clearly not going to work for future resilience. Rate of change of climate is now a factor in resilience planning. Accepting this reality is key.

    • Jim,

      You viewpoint is fine for someone in the developed world. What about the 2+ billion people who do not have access to energy? I believe the number without access to clean water is even greater.

      If you want to sacrifice your lifestyle so that some of the 2 billion or so can improve theirs, that’s great. You’ll have my respect. Unfortunately there are those who have no problem making you and I make that sacrifice, often in ways which will have no beneficial impact to the less fortunate or to us.

      • timg56, I agree that some populous areas will become unsustainable for living in. Sea-level rise is just one reason for this. Some will advocate that it is every country for themselves. Others will say that the richer ones that have burned the most carbon should not build walls and ignore the victims, but contribute and help them, but this is just a moral and humane argument which doesn’t impress certain types of people.

  23. Lionell Griffith re grand plans :)
    Say, I’ve read yr comments on Jo Nova from way back,
    eg ‘Attempts to Intimidate a Sceptic’ thread, Jan 2010.
    when I started quetionning global warmin ‘apocalypse
    now’ …if not …later.
    Beth the serf.

  24. Sustainability and resilience are fairy common words. No need to link me to wiki or some dictionary.

    So, having imposed one abstraction uselessly on practical life (sustainability), now – after a “whoops” moment – we are to be given a new abstraction to stilt our everyday movements and decisions.

    Is this being pushed so that government of abstract nouns, by abstract nouns, for abstract nouns shall not perish from the earth?

  25. “Unfortunately, the sustainability movement’s politics, not to mention its marketing, have led to a popular misunderstanding: that a perfect, stasis-under-glass equilibrium is achievable. But the world doesn’t work that way: it exists in a constant disequilibrium — trying, failing, adapting, learning and evolving in endless cycles. Indeed, it’s the failures, when properly understood, that create the context for learning and growth.”

    Careful, if you apply this type of thinking to economics, poof, there goes socialism/the third way/state directed capitalism. Trying, failing, adapting, learning and evolving in endless cycles is a good description of a free market. They are anathema to central planning. Of anything.

      • No, Chief, in a “free market” I am free to buy what I want. Rockefeller bought what he wanted. He bought his competitors. If a buyer can’t buy what he wants or a seller can’t sell what he wants, it’s not a free market.

        Of course, without regulations a market will not be competitive, and competition usually is in the best interest of the public.

    • Yes, GaryM, early civilizations had free markets (few pesky regulations) but as civilizations advanced markets became more regulated and less free.

      I’m a capitalist rather than a market worshipper. I believe free market monkeys are saps, but they are good for laughs. My heroes are super capitalists, like John D Rockefeller, who mocked the free market.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Rockefeller worth – ‘$663.4 billion in 2007 dollars, according to list of wealthiest historical figures, based on information from Forbes – February 2008′.

        Rockefeller was the inspiration for much of the early US anti-trust legislation. These are some of the rules for fair markets without which free markets are not possible.

      • Chief, I posted this in the wrong place.

        No, Chief, in a “free market” I am free to buy what I want. Rockefeller bought what he wanted. He bought his competitors. If a buyer can’t buy what he wants or a seller can’t sell what he wants, it’s not a free market.

        Of course, without regulations a market will not be competitive, and competition usually is in the best interest of the public.

      • It is ironic that the ‘free’ market only works when it is regulated this way, because its natural end state after free evolution is recognized to be a monopoly which then has complete control over its prices and profits at the expense of the consumers. Even without monopolies there have to regulations against price fixing, paying low wages, providing poor working conditions or polluting, all designed to protect the regular people against corporations. Free markets are therefore not free, but somewhat contrived states that have to be restrained by regulations to even work fairly for everyone.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        This is not ironic at all but the rule of law that has evolved by negotiation in the democratic process over hundreds of years. There are many rules for fair dealing, consumer safety, child labour, worker protection, pollution, etc that are fundamental to the ordered working of society. Market rules are a subset of the rules that apply in the broader civil society and which operate for the same reason. Essentially the protection of the weak against the brutal in a civilised community.

        I doubt that there are any fundamental rights – but these rights evolve as thoughtful citizens play a role in the ordered evolution of society. Rockefeller didn’t play fair – and rules evolved to stop it. Goal is the place for those who brutally misuse power.

      • This whole discussion — +100

        In light of this, my comment to Faustino below is a little overwrought.

      • I wonder which Teddy Roosevelt would attach with more vigor, Walmart or the modern Republican party?

      • That imperialist?
        ===========

      • As usual, the economic illiterates around here try to conflate economic anarchy (no regulation) with the free market.

        Yawn.

      • Try it this way. In a socialist or “third way” or crony capitalist system, there is no trial and error. There is no adapting. There is no learning.

        There is certainly failure. But rather than failures being cleared away through bankruptcy or replacement by competition, they rattle on like zombies in The Walking Dead.

        When the government runs industry, as in government monopolies under socialism, they’re the only game in town. Look to the Soviet Union, Communist China (before they imported a bit of capitalism), North Korea for examples.

        When the government centrally plans the economy, as in facism/crony capitalism/third way socialism, the government subsidizes the failures, siphoning taxes from the successful to keep the failures from falling away. It passes regulations to favor one company or industry over another, to prevent the learning that is essential to growth. The ever more sclerotic economies of Europe and Japan are good examples of this.

        “Evolving,” when applied to economics, is decried by progressives as “social Darwinism.” They much prefer the equally heartless, and much more incompetent, control of government bureaucrats, like themselves.

        Which is why language like that I quoted above is so potentially subversive and will certainly be rejected on the left. It is a form of critical thinking, and must not be allowed.

      • GaryM,

        Another excellent comment. Thank you.

      • When the government centrally plans the economy, as in facism/crony capitalism/third way socialism, the government subsidizes the failures, siphoning taxes from the successful to keep the failures from falling away.

        As in the way the US government subsidized the railroads’ western expansions during the 19th century?

        Of course, there was a reason for this. They wanted to expand their version of civilization across the continent before the Mexicans or Russians could occupy the area. Which just points up the fact that government interference in economic growth can be done for the most justified of reasons, in a world with outside dangers.

      • AK,

        The government “subsidized” the railroads “western” expansion (actually, it did so for development in both directions, but we will leave actual history out of this for now), primarily by deeding long, narrow swaths of unoccupied land with little or no value (until developed by the railroad) that the railroads then used to open up the entire country to development.

        Some privately owned property was also transferred of course, but that was minimal in comparison. You may have heard the term “eminent domain.” It is a concept that developed long ago in the capitalist west.

        What the government did not do was tax other freight haulers and passenger carriers of the day to subsidize the railroads.

        Compare the economic catastrophe that is AMTRAK, with the national boom that resulted from private companies, now universally demonized on the left, who built the first inter-continental railroads.

        Oh, and please leave the jingoist historical revisionism to the Noam Chompsky’s of the world.

        We bought Alaska in 1867. Texas won independence in 1836 and joined the U.S. as a state in 1845. The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. Neither country was even the remotest threat to the U.S., either economically or militarily. The railroads were not built out of fear of Mexican or Slavic expansionism.

        Progressives have such a bad habit of projecting their racist tendencies onto others. Even the dead.

      • @GaryM…

        We bought Alaska in 1867. Texas won independence in 1836 and joined the U.S. as a state in 1845. The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. Neither country was even the remotest threat to the U.S., either economically or militarily. The railroads were not built out of fear of Mexican or Slavic expansionism.

        From the Wiki article on “Manifest Destiny”

        On December 27, 1845, in his newspaper the New York Morning News, O’Sullivan addressed the ongoing boundary dispute with Britain. O’Sullivan argued that the United States had the right to claim “the whole of Oregon”:
        And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.[17]

        [...]

        O’Sullivan’s original conception of manifest destiny was not a call for territorial expansion by force. He believed that the expansion of the United States would happen without the direction of the U.S. government or the involvement of the military. After Americans emigrated to new regions, they would set up new democratic governments, and then seek admission to the United States, as Texas had done. In 1845, O’Sullivan predicted that California would follow this pattern next, and that Canada would eventually request annexation as well. He disapproved of the Mexican-American War in 1846, although he came to believe that the outcome would be beneficial to both countries.[19]

        From the Wiki article on Pacific Railroad Acts:

        The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 began federal government grant of lands directly to corporations; before that act, the land grants were made to the states, for the benefit of corporations.[1] [my bold]

        As you can see, the ideas of spreading “republican democracy” was already in the air by the time of the Mexican-American War, which was fought over the acceptance of Texas as a state. Yes, Mexico was forced to cede its northern territories, but the way territorial games were played in Europe, it would have wanted to come back, with help from Spain, and take them back. By encouraging substantial migration to those territories, the US established a much stronger practical claim.

      • JCH,

        Perhaps this will aid in answering your question:

        “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

        …… Teddy Roosaevelt

      • GaryM said on May 30, 2013 at 10:28 am
        “As usual, the economic illiterates around here try to conflate economic anarchy (no regulation) with the free market.”
        ____

        When GaryM says “free market” he doesn’t mean a market that’s free. He means a market that’s regulated.
        He means a market that’s sort of free but not entirely free.
        He doesn’t mean a free-market free-market.

        It’s like my definition of “right now.” When my boss request I do a chore right now, I readily agree to comply. When 30 minutes later she reminds me I haven’t started on the chore, I say oh, did you mean right now right now?

      • Maybe the free market proponents can explain how a global free market works. At one end foreign multinationals would be allowed to buy out long-established national corporations (beer and car companies for example), with future profits going to those countries, and at the other end, foreign corporations can undercut the prices of local rivals and put them out of business. Does this sound like a perfect system? Should the market be protected? Do free market people believe in protectionism, or have they just not thought through what a free market means?

      • JimD, foreign-based multinationals buying up American companies is the global free-market at work. In the end, it’s supposed to be the best thing for everyone everywhere. But is it?

      • Globalization is a function of technology development. It’s possible to slow down the changes, but not to stop them, not even by the totalitarian North Korean regime.

        Many things must be relearned when globalization proceeds. The global society is complex and the complexity leads easily to instabilities in the form of finance crises and even wars.

        Trying to make the system maximally effective means that the system is brought close to the limit of stability, to a range where some subsystems develop too strong positive feedbacks. Making such a system more stable than necessary makes it also less efficient. The goal is to reach sufficient stability on all scales without excessive loss of efficiency.

        One example of the loss of stability is given by the policy of Greenspan that led to too unstable financial system both within US and in its trade relations with China, in particular.

        The present European economic crisis has similar origins in the internal money flows between European countries. The EU policies allowed them to continue even after the imbalance was already too large.

      • Pekka, Americans will be paying for Greenspan’s policies and Bush’s unnecessary war and unnecessary tax cut for some time to come.

  26. These two paragraphs

    “Unfortunately, the sustainability movement’s politics, not to mention its marketing, have led to a popular misunderstanding: that a perfect, stasis-under-glass equilibrium is achievable. But the world doesn’t work that way: it exists in a constant disequilibrium — trying, failing, adapting, learning and evolving in endless cycles. Indeed, it’s the failures, when properly understood, that create the context for learning and growth. That’s why some of the most resilient places are, paradoxically, also the places that regularly experience modest disruptions: they carry the shared memory that things can go wrong.

    “Resilience” takes this as a given and is commensurately humble. It doesn’t propose a single, fixed future. It assumes we don’t know exactly how things will unfold, that we’ll be surprised, that we’ll make mistakes along the way. It’s also open to learning from the extraordinary and widespread resilience of the natural world, including its human inhabitants, something that, counterintuitively, many proponents of sustainability have ignored.”

    could have come right out of The Future and its Enemies. The correct contrast, however, is not between “sustainability” and “resilience” but between “anticipation” and “resilience.” (Perhaps “prevention” versus “resilience” would be even clearer.) See

    http://www.dynamist.com/articles-speeches/asap/resilience.html

    • I checked out Virginia Postrel’s book, when Steve (son-of-Virginia?) Postrel flagged it, that link gives me another reason to buy it. Re California sun,I lived for a few months in Hollywood in summer, I was invited to stay on but at that time (1978) chose other directions.

      • Spouse, not son.

        It seems the level of misgovernment in California rises to equilibrate with the superiority of the weather. They seem to be trying to make the marginal citizen just indifferent between staying and leaving.

  27. It’s time to begin the downsizing of the federal government and right-sizing the EPA out of existence. “That fact is demonstrable from the very data on which EPA relied, and it is confirmed by data and other input EPA refused to consider in what was an arbitrary and capricious process. The scientific evidence shows EPA’s conclusion that human-caused CO2 emissions are warming the globe is invalid.” (See–e.g., Brief of Amici Curiae Scientists — Southeastern Legal Foundation, Inc., et al., Petitioners, v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al. )

    • Unfortunately, Wag, governments and bureaucracies special in self-sustaining activity at the cost of the majority. But more strength to your arm, keep up the good fight.

      • Faustine,
        ALL human (all organic?) organizations exist to propagate themselves in the sense that you speak of it, at any cost to anything or anyone else. That’s why it took government to begin to make inroads in abating wide-spread and serious externalities that were destroying the environment. I know that “free” market types believe that all ills would eventually be cured by consumer choice in the market place, but that requires that the truth be available to the consumer and that you are willing to have one of your children die so that you know not to buy a product that will kill the rest of your children. China offers some of the best examples of this last kind of “market correction” because it is in some ways a minimally regulated market.

    • Here is my latest contribution to good government in Australia, published in today’s Australian:

      Tony Abbott shows obduracy but lacks sense in his commitment to paid parental leave (“Tony Abbott lays down law on baby leave scheme,” 29/5). Pay and conditions should be determined between employers and current or prospective employees: the state’s role should be minimal. The scheme will primarily benefit well-paid women, at the cost of raising already uncompetitive tax rates for larger companies. The result will be slower growth in the economy, employment and incomes.

      A bigger issue for the next government is surely addressing the dire and worsening fiscal situation, not further extending middle-class welfare. The scheme is not, as Abbott has claimed,“a workplace entitlement,” it is a government intrusion into business management, the last thing one would hope for from a Liberal Prime Minister.

      • Faustino

        I agree with you. The labour policy is fine. I think he just does not want to lose face. Most liberals don’t support that policy. I wish he dumps that policy.

      • Peter Lang

        Faustino,

        I agree with you and Girma on this policy. I feel he is doing what he criticises Labor for with this one such as justify it on the basis of “Captains Pick”.

        It doesn’t make economic sense (to me) although I would prefer to see money spent helping the educated, productive, competent, proven successful women with a good career to have children and bring them up rather than spend it on subsidising the permanently unemployed some of whom have babies so they can get the subsidy so they can buy a new TV or more drugs. That’s not an exaggeration.

  28. Wagathon said on May 29, 2013 at 11:02 pm
    “It’s time to begin the downsizing of the federal government and right-sizing the EPA out of existence.”
    ______

    Waggy, It’s time for you to realize the GOP is shrinking like a “you know what” in a cold bath.

    It’s time you gave some thought to jumping ship.

  29. steven mosher

    Hmm This is my pull quote Judith

    “In a perfect world, that’s surely true, just as it’s also true that the cheapest response to a catastrophe is to prevent it in the first place. But in this world, vulnerable people are already being affected by disruption. They need practical, if imperfect, adaptations now, if they are ever to get the just and moral future they deserve tomorrow.”

    I think one needs to meet the moral case for mitigation head on, here and now.

    • Honest cost/benefit might do.
      ============

    • @steven mosher…

      [...] the cheapest response to a catastrophe is to prevent it in the first place.

      But when it comes to climate, it can’t be prevented. All “mitigation” can do is reduce the risk. Which, I suppose, might reduce the incentive for resilience.

      I think one needs to meet the moral case for mitigation head on, here and now.

      What harm will a few degrees of warming do? It’s only a serious issue if it causes substantial economic upset. If the economy is resilient enough, it won’t. And, really, the “warming” predicted will take place over decades. Regular technological change and the economic adaptation to it can deal with that.

      The only real risk associated with climate, IMO, is a sudden rearrangement. AFAIK the models don’t handle that well at all. Hansen is bedwetting over something that, admittedly, has a chance of happening, but not the sort he’s talking about. And, anyway, reducing the chance of what he’s talking about won’t happen for decades, so if “we” build in enough economic resilience while adapting to technological change the problem will have been dealt with.

      • Steven Mosher

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

        “What harm will a few degrees of warming do? It’s only a serious issue if it causes substantial economic upset.”

        Well, I just finished working on a study ( pilot ) that looked to quantify the effects of a small increase in temperature on heat related deaths in a particular US city.

        Step 1, was to identify what constituted a heat wave. This was pretty easy as there are heat wave warning systems in about 40 US cities. This warning system uses synoptic data ( air temp, wind, clouds, dew point, pressure ) to predict a heat wave and uses CDC historical heat related death data to predict excess deaths due to the heat wave. Using an actual warning system that is currently being used lays an important foundation.

        Step 2, was to identify a regional scale climate model that could hindcast heat waves with some skill. Since a heat wave is a combination of actual temperature, wind, cloud cover, dew point and pressure this was a pretty severe test of RCM capabilities. A difference of a few tenths of a degree can turn a hot day into a heat wave or winds too strong etc etc.

        Step 3 was to run the warning system on a future scenario to get a first order estimate of the increased frequency of heat waves for this particular city.

        Step 4. Count the dead bodies. I used to do war scenarios so I like this part. Somebody has to count the bodies. God sorts them out after the counting.

        The bottom line is that for some places the impact of 1 degree can be substantial in terms of health. It does not have to cause substantial economic damage to be a serious issue. That is, what is a serious issue for chicago may not be a serious issue for Fairbanks. The point is you dont get to decide what a local community finds important. Your opinion doesn’t count for shit, thankfully.

      • @Steven Mosher…

        The bottom line is that for some places the impact of 1 degree can be substantial in terms of health.

        Perhaps, but as I’m sure you know, the real problem from heat waves (in the US) is social isolation, not heat. Every time there’s one in the city I live, there are regular radio blurbs about “do you know of anybody who’s vulnerable and isolated” who might not get access to the air-conditioned shelters already set up to prevent these “dead bodies.” Do your scenarios include changes to the efficacy of systems dealing with that? How much difference does that make relative to “the impact of 1 degree

        It does not have to cause substantial economic damage to be a serious issue. That is, what is a serious issue for chicago may not be a serious issue for Fairbanks.

        But it’s not a serious issue on a global scale. And according to the link you provided, urban heat islands contribute a lot more than “the impact of 1 degree” of “global warming”. That can be mitigated on a local level, with a variety of synergistic benefits, depending on “what a local community finds important.

        The point is you dont get to decide what a local community finds important. Your opinion doesn’t count for shit, thankfully.

        Of course it counts. You wouldn’t be bothering to say it didn’t if it really didn’t.

  30. John Robertson

    The only resilience in this whole mess is that of sensible taxpayers who have been savagely looted by loonies babbling about sustainability.
    How long forbearance holds up remains to be seen.
    The combined bureaucracies of the world orchestrated and enabled this massive waste of public treasure,other peoples money to them.
    Most citizens with a basic education know better than to engage in the sport of Wetting Oneself About the Weather.You either adapt to what happens or you die.The weather does not care how sustainable you feel.

  31. Its about sustainability …err …resiliance … no …
    its about open society individual liberty and
    access ter information.

    A post script fer Max-who-labels-himself-Okay
    and likes ter label other people too. You’ll be lucky,
    sonny, ) if at half his age, yer near half as bright
    as Freeman Dyson a great scientist and human bein’.

    A humble serf.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I have been following this series on Radio National. Half a dozen very interesting women – all over 80.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p010z9xb/episodes/guide

      One of my favourite people is Doris Lessing – who is 93.

    • Beth, if Dyson is twice as bright as me that’s nothing for him to brag about. But after hearing his presentation, I’m not sure he is twice as bright as me, although I’m sure he’s at least twice as bright as Sarah Palin.

  32. I abhor the term sustainability.

    Resilience suits me fine.

    • Girma, resilience is easy if you don’t have to be resilient. What will you have to be resilient about?

      • Max

        Please explain, what do you mean?

      • Just what I said, but I will elaborate. In your lifetime, will you have to be resilient as a result of climate change?

      • David Springer

        JC SNIP: Max OK and David Springer, pls cease this discussion

      • Oh no. Another veiled death threat by the Internets most lethal weapon: the love child of Gomer Pyle and Barney Fife. Send in the lawyers. Ban Him! the horror… the horror

      • Max would marginalise rather than suffocate. How humane.
        =========

      • I’d rather they be opposing voices on my death panel.
        ========

      • Max_OK

        Everyone has to be resilient on an individual basis.

        If not, adios muchacho.

        In some cases (in democratic societies, like those in which we live) the voting public can ask local, regional or even national government to make those investments (with their taxpayer funding), which they believe are important to ensure “resilience” to outside threats, whatever these might be.

        Has nothing to do with AGW.

        Max_CH

      • Re JC SNIP: Max OK and David Springer, pls cease this discussion.

        JC, respectively begging your pardon, I have not been in a discussion with David Springer for over two days now. The last time I addressed him was May 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm, which also was the last day I later mentioned his name (6:17 pm) and alluded to him ( 8:31 pm). Since that time I have ignored David.

        So I am puzzled at why you thought I was in a discussion here with David Springer.

      • manacker | May 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
        Max_OK

        Everyone has to be resilient on an individual basis.
        ______

        But you don’t like the idea of being resilient to a carbon tax and other mitigation measures. You are afraid you will snap instead of bend. That’s not resilience.

      • David Springer

        Maybe she’d like you to quit telling older folks here they don’t care about polluting the air with carbon dioxide because they won’t live long enough to experience the imagined consequences.

  33. Resilience is costly. Biological systems must invest in costly specializations to be resilient. Then again, fragility — the opposite of resilience — also has its drawbacks.

    How can either be a substitute for sustainability?

    This is a load of waffle, and a distraction.

    No ‘resilience’ is universal. There are a hundred species of it. Durability, duplication, rapid regenerative growth, adaptability, ferocity..

    Just saying ‘resilience’ is handwaving, and handwaving is generally just done by prestidigitators to divert attention from what’s really going on.

    For instance, the dinosaur has outlived the mosquito by tens of millions of years so far. Neither is particularly more resilient nor sustainable than the other. Diag is simply throwing up metaphors to clothe that he hasn’t put any thought into his precepts at all.

    Move along. Nothing to see here.

    • All the species that have gone extinct should just have been more resilient.

      If only they’d read the NYT!

      • Michael | May 30, 2013 at 9:21 am |

        Some of the most ‘resilient’ species ever known have fallen to extinction.

        The pangolin is a hyper-resilient creature. There are five extant subspecies of this lineage that once was populous around the globe. It has razor-edged armored scales, scent defense, loose-skin regenerative abilities, the largest claws relative to body size of any mammal and the ability to use them to dig efficiently, can roll up its body to become practically immune to the claws or teeth of almost any predator. Prides of lions and colonies of ants alike have been known to fail to penetrate the pangolin’s resilient defense, and the little harm it suffers from most encounters it heals rapidly. Additionally, pangolin can hold their breath underwater for extended periods and outswim beavers or otters. They travel by brachiation and even have a limited form of gliding for getting from tree to tree. They are more resilient to practically anything than practically any other mammal.

        Oh, and they’re all endangered or in steep population decline. Some moron claimed pangolin scales are a cure for impotence, or something.

      • While we’re at it:

        If only the climate of Earth were more resilient to the effects of anthropogenic forcings!

        Damn molecules – obviously, they don’t read the NYT either.

      • Bart R:

        “Thanks to their decreased brainpower, people aren’t diverted from the main business of life by the hobgoblins of opinion anymore.”
        ― Kurt Vonnegut, Galápagos

    • Steven Mosher

      this is resilience.

      Or since folks like the language of mitigation.

      resilience is mitigating what the weather does to you.
      sustainability is mitigating what you do the the climate.

      I don’t need your agreement to make my life more resilient. We do need group effort to achieve ‘sustainability’ whatever the hell it means.

      • We do need group effort to achieve ‘sustainability’ whatever the hell it means.

        Not necessarily. You could buy a farm, install enough solar power and storage technology for its complete operation, and grow food and sell it without being connected in any way to the current power distribution systems. I think most people would define that as more sustainable than current farms.

        Be pretty expensive, though. I doubt you could amortize your capital investment, but once you’ve sunk the money, you might make enough selling food for upkeep. Maybe.

      • this is resilience

      • Gary, about to head out to Walmart, I take it.

    • Steven Mosher

      Here is what some of us mean by resilience.

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

      • My solution: foam bubbles. Around each person, vehicle, and building. Biodegradable, of course.

  34. Sustainability is phantasmagorical. For one thing, it assumes the same process continuing indefinitely. How boring.

    Resilience is intelligent survival. Much more interesting.

  35. Peter Lang

    JC Comment said:

    Resilience is arguably a concept that has broader political palatability than does sustainability.

    That’s for sure!!

  36. Peter Lang

    JC Comment says:

    Zolli’s essay makes the argument that sustainability and resilience are tied to two different world views, and I find his argument convincing. Resilience thinking is associated with systems thinking, uncertainty, and wicked problems. Resilience is arguably a concept that has broader political palatability than does sustainability. Resilience thinking seems to be a particularly good match for dealing with extreme weather events, which is arguably associated with the greatest impacts from climate variability and change.

    That is my take away message. Excellent!

    • Peter Lang look, i hav’
      a wicked problem and
      it’s this, I live on the
      littoral, shiftin’ sands
      beneath me feet …
      movin’ of plate tectonics,
      shiftin’ of continents…
      Say, yer a geologist,
      mebbe yer can tell mmmme
      how I shood live?

      A serf.

      PS Peter hav yr read
      yr comment in ‘Serf
      Under_ground Journal
      in the last ‘Open Thread?’

      • Heh, ‘Live Free or Die’ is a death threat.
        ===============

      • Peter Lang

        Beth,

        Can you give me the link to the comment for the ‘Serf Under_ground Journal” please?

        Regarding your question:

        movin’ of plate tectonics,
        shiftin’ of continents…
        Say, yer a geologist,
        mebbe yer can tell mmmme
        how I shood live?

        This is what I suggest you should focus on for the good of humanity.

        Just to get the background clear for all:
        1. You recognise we are in a cold house phase
        2. You recognise that cold is bad for life and warm is good
        3. You recognise that climate changes are more rapid when the planet is cold, as it is now, than when it is warmer.
        4. So you recognise that life on Earth would be better off if the climate was warmer and more stable – as it has been for most of the time multi-cell life has existed on Planet Earth
        5. You recognise that the joining of North and South America has prevented equitorial currents flowing around the world unhindered and this is a part cause of the Planet being in a cold house phase and in a period of periodic descents into ice ages.
        6. You conclude correctly of course, (as everyone would expect from a Serf) that if North and South America were separated so that the equatorial currents could circulate as they would like to do, we’d get out of the cold house phase and get a more stable climate. And life on Earth would be better off (recognising of course that, as in everything, there are some winners and some losers)
        8. Plate techtonics controls where the continents go. You might even refer non-Serfs (Serfs would already know of course) to this few seconds animation of where the plates have been and how they have moved over the past 150 My (p.s. watch India depart Antarctica and crash into Asia – like a naughty teenager steeling the parents car): http://www.odsn.de/odsn/services/paleomap/animation.html

        That is the background. Now, to answer your question. I’d suggest, for the good of humanity and the benefit of life on Planet Earth, and given your ability to control plate tectonics, I would suggest you focus on turning South America anti-clockwise about 10 to 20 degrees so that the equitorial currents can once again pass between North and South America.

        Then we can all live happily ever after, without Coldhouse Phases, for many tens of millions of years.

      • Herewith Peter. and thx fer yr advice. A tittle turn ter the
        right, maybe 20 degrees, seems a little thing ter ask )

        http://beththeserf.wordpress.com/

      • Peter Lang

        Beth,

        The Serf Journal is fantastic. Well done. And thank you for linking to the paper with cost estimate for 100% renewable electricity for Australia.

        I posted a comment

      • @BC: A tittle turn ter the right, maybe 20 degrees, seems a little thing ter ask

        Little enough, but careful what you ask for. If 17 respond, that would amount to a 20 degree turn to the left.

      • @PL: I would suggest you focus on turning South America anti-clockwise about 10 to 20 degrees so that the equitorial currents can once again pass between North and South America.

        I only wish other retired geologists would go into geoengineering with Lang’s enthusiasm. Geophysics has much more to learn from geocatastrophes than from geostasis.

        @kim: Heh, ‘Live Free or Die’ is a death threat.

        Explains why so many New Hampshire car owners edited their license plates to “oLIVE oil OR DIEsel”.

      • Peter Lang @ 6.42, you might have found another role for nuclear, widening the Panama Canal by 50 kms or so.

      • Ter hell with hubris, le’s do things on a grand scale
        n’ reap the wind! Shape the continents … now that’s
        reslience with a capital ‘R’ … isn’t it?
        Btcg

  37. Chief Hydrologist

    Sustainability has a bad rap.

    ‘The Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment found that riparian zones are declining over 73% of Australia. There has been a massive decline in the ranges of indigenous mammals over more than 100 years. In the past 200 years, 22 Australian mammals have become extinct – a third of the world’s recent extinctions. Further decline in ranges is still occurring and is likely to result in more extinctions. Mammals are declining in 174 of 384 subregions in Australia and rapidly declining in 20. The threats to vascular plants are increasing over much of the Australia. Threatened birds are declining across 45% of the country with extinctions in arid parts of Western Australia. Reptiles are declining across 30% of the country. Threatened amphibians are in decline in southeastern Australia and are rapidly declining in the South East Queensland,
    Brigalow Belt South and Wet Tropics bioregions.

    Our rivers are still carrying huge excesses of sand and mud. The mud washes out onto coastlines destroying seagrass and corals. The sand chokes up pools and riffles and fills billabongs putting intense pressure on inland, aquatic ecologies. In 1992, the Mary River in south east Queensland flooded carrying millions of tonnes of mud into Hervey Bay. A
    thousand square kilometres of seagrass died off decimating dugongs, turtles and fisheries. The seagrass has grown back but the problems of the Mary River have not been fixed. The banks have not been stabilised and the seagrass could be lost again at any time. A huge excess of sand working its way down the river is driving to extinction the Mary River cod and the Mary River turtle. The situation in the Mary River is mirrored in catchments right across the country. Nationally, 50% of our seagrasses have been lost and it has been this way for at least twenty years.

    It is well known what the problems are. The causes of the declines in biodiversity are land clearing, land salinisation, land degradation, habitat fragmentation, overgrazing, exotic weeds, feral animals, rivers that have been pushed past their points of equilibrium and changed fire regimes. The individual solutions are often fairly simple and only in aggregate do they become daunting. One of the problems is that the issues are reviewed at a distance. Looking at issues from a National or State perspective is too complex. Even if problems are identified broadly, it is difficult to establish local priorities. Looking at issues from a distance means that a focus on the immediate and fundamental causes of problems is lost. There are rafts of administration, reports, computer models, guidelines and plans but the only on ground restoration and conservation is done by volunteers and farmers. Volunteers are valiantly struggling but it is too little too late. Farmers tend to look at their own properties, understandably, and not at integrated landscape function.

    None of this I might add has much to do with CO2 – although ‘global warming’ hogs all the space in the public arena.

    • Rob Starkey

      One person’s view of a situation might be as a problem while someone else views the same situation as a sign of progress.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Our current approaches are failing the objective test of conservation of
        biological diversity. Environmental decline in Australia has not been reversed over more than twenty years of effort.

        Losing species at a great rate is progress?

      • Rob Starkey

        Is there a rule that more diversity in species is better? Are there really fewer animals or just a different mix that someone has “judged” to be less favorable? Less favorable to whom?

  38. Oh, heck. ‘Warming is good because it resiles more total life and more diversity of life’ just doesn’t have the right ring to it. What can sustain me in this clangor?
    ============

  39. Resiliency inevitably goose steps towards austerity. AH! NIRVANA

  40. Pingback: These items caught my eye – 30 May 2013 | grumpydenier

  41. bladeshearer

    “Yet today, precisely because the world is so increasingly out of balance, the sustainability regime is being quietly challenged… Where sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world.”

    Who determines what or where the “balance” is? We know that the notion of a static world is utter nonsense. Yet climate scientists who should know better keep trying to preserve a passing moment of geologic time as if it were immutable. “Stop Global Warming” indeed!

  42. Resilience thinking is crucial. But as a concept, it is underdeveloped and unclear when it is not linked to ideas of sustainability and stability. Timescales, anticipated scale of destructive climate impacts, collective objectives for stability, protection of the most vulnerable, etc., are all part of resilience thinking.

    When we link it all together, we get to the breakthrough questions.

    • Then a dragon pretends to be King.
      ==========

    • Steven Mosher

      ‘Resilience thinking is crucial. But as a concept, it is underdeveloped and unclear when it is not linked to ideas of sustainability and stability. ”

      it’s sustainability that is underdeveloped and unclear.

      This is resilient:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taipei_101

      ( its also efficient which is taken as a substitute definition of sustainable)

      Sustainability ( beyond measurable effienciency ) is a feel good notion. We do know that certain things may be un sustainable over defined periods of time, but that’s different from saying that something is “sustainable”

      This is resilient

      This is not

      This is resilient

      who knows or cares if it is “sustainable” it lasted as long as it needed to.

      In short. You can engineer and build things to be resilient. You can test their resiliency. You can verify it. Sustainability? not so well defined outside the ordinary notion of efficient

      • Steve,
        There are different types of resilience, and different interpretations of resilience. Your comment and examples do not reflect the concept of resilience of ecological systems and of settled communities.

        Of course, resilience of systems sometimes requires the transformation of a system — not adaptation.

        But the concept of resilience has been a central part of the discussions of ecology and development, for decades.

      • Steven Mosher

        Wrong Martha.

  43. David L. Hagen

    Judith
    Excellent focus on resilience. Humans came through the last glaciation – which was far more disruptive than the mild warming and consequences projected by the IPCC.
    One of the greatest steps towards resiliance is to break the petroleum manopoly. Require an Open Fuel Standard for all vehicles to operate on any oxygenated or bio fuel, and allow any fuel from any source.

    Legislation Would Require Most Vehicles to Be Flex Fuel by 2015

    On March 12, Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Bob Inglis (R-SC), Steve Israel (D-NY), and Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD) introduced the “Open Fuel standard Act of 2009” (H.R. 1476) to require automobile manufacturers to ensure that not less than 80 percent of the automobiles manufactured or sold in the United States by each manufacturer by 2015 will be equipped to operate on fuel mixtures containing 85 percent ethanol, 85 percent methanol, or biodiesel. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Rep. Engel said, “We must take action as a nation to break our dependence on foreign oil and simultaneously aid efforts to halt the potentially harmful climate change affecting our planet.”. . .

    See Open Fuel Standard

    Open Fuel Standard Act at Energy Victory.

    etc.

  44. Pingback: Judith Curry: resilience orthogonal to sustainability | Solving for Pattern

  45. Hiya HS.
    ======

  46. Berényi Péter

    Hurricane Sandy hit New York hardest right where it was most recently redeveloped: Lower Manhattan [...] “The buildings were designed to generate lower environmental impacts, but not to respond to the impacts of the environment” — for example, by having redundant power systems.

    Well, fortunately I happen to know a particular building in lower Manhattan rather well. Unfortunately this one, as all the others, was hit by Sandy.

    Among many other things, there is a datacenter in that building, fortunately on the 25th floor or something like that, well above flood level. Unfortunately it was not the case with exploding downtown transformers, so it was left with no power. Fortunately it had UPS & a backup generator on the roof. Unfortunately fuel tanks for that generator were located in the basement, which was flooded. Fortunately the fuel pumps were well designed, so they kept operating even under several feet of salt water. Unfortunately authorities, fearing fuel leakage (and a major fire in its wake) ordered them to be shut down.

    Therefore the data center was left with no power whatsoever. In spite of its redundant network connections & all the fiber still in good operating condition under water, it went utterly dead for a week, generating untold frustration in its customers, major companies all.

    Can we blame any design flaw for this issue? No, it was administrative business entirely. The fuel system was in fact safe against leakage, but no one in charge dared to take responsibility, because of lacking official certificates. True, the city of New York, or rather, its administrative branch never even thought of issuing such certificates (while the building did have all available green certificates indeed). Therefore it is quite understandable, that the datacenter failed to apply for a certificate on safety of its fuel system while flooded by seawater.

    That’s how lack of resilience enters the world.

  47. *Sustainability* is now a code word for environmentally leveraged politics. Therefore, what is popularly deemed “sustainable” is actually unsustainable. Organic agriculture, failure to build infrastructure to prevent growth, etc.

    Actual sustainability is like climate equilibrium, e.g. a static square human construct in a dynamic, round universe. Rather than play politics and Merriam Webster games, perhaps it makes better sense to accept that actual sustainability is a series of bridges that get us to the next better solution to help us be flexible in adapting to a changing environment. In that way, evolution and resilience are nearly parallel, synergistic paths to the future.

    In a sense, this is the pseudo-default approach already being conducted as a slow, market-based, government nudged transformation to low carbon energy with the confidence we can take the future body-blows coming our way.

    OK, now y’all can go back to your endless bickering over nomenclature and political idiotology.

    • Rob Starkey

      Why is building and maintaining robust infrastructure not agreeable by all? It must be deniers that oppose such a plan

  48. Ron O'Daniels

    Yes, and I am quite certain that it is easier to be more resilient in a high-rise feeling good about growing your own organic vegetables on the balcony and driving a hybrid, than it is when half of your family has been destroyed in some disaster that destroyed your shack and now you are living in a tent. I wonder how easy it is to intellectually ponder how to engineer better more resilient strategies for living better in the future while waiting for your cup of beans.
    re·sil·ient
    /riˈzilyənt/
    Adjective
    (of a substance or object) Able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.
    (of a person or animal) Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

    And let all the posts continue to flow that batter the word sustainability. yes, replace it with a new improved word to give to:

    “people who concern themselves with the world’s “wicked problems”

    that will solve everything. We can just define our problems away. Who are those who do not “concern themselves with the world’s wicked problems?”

    Maybe they are the problem. Those people.

    • It used to be that resilient people who had a reason to worry about climate change just wore wool.

    • What you describe is already happening and has been happening for millennia. That’s why these regions have such high birth-rates to keep up with their appallingly high death rates. The failure of rich westerners to adopt the political sustainability theory has not created these zones of recalcitrant poverty in the world. Quite the contrary as western-style industrialization has reduced extreme poverty over the last 50-years.

      Also, as Mosher points out, if one believes the CAGW CONSENSUS, the heat and extreme weather is already in the pipeline. Therefore, adaptation makes more sense if one is concerned about reducing the potential future impacts from extreme weather/drought to the poorest of the poor.

      • It’s in the pipedreamline. Nothing is assured but that warmer is better than colder.
        =======

      • kim

        Snow down to 600m in Switzerland end May.

        Bring on the global warming, please!

        Max

      • Mac

        It’s official, according to the met office this is the uk’s coldest spring since 1962

        Tonyb

      • And 28 C in Lapland north of polar circle – in May.

      • Lapland?

        Are the reindeer suffering?

        (At least there’s one tiny spot of the world that is warmer than normal, while the rest is freezing.)

      • Pekka

        Admittedly, it is still too early to make any real comparisons, but on a global basis, this year is starting off cool in comparison with other years of this century.

        It is 5th coldest since 2001 (4 years were colder, 8 years were warmer).

        Max

      • Four colder and eight warmer means that it must be close to average.

        I think that it’s fair to say that we see no sign about switching to a new warming phase or to a clear cooling but that’s about all we can say about latest months on global scale. Local weather is variable as it has always been.

      • The weather will vary, as will climate and the market.
        ==========

      • tonyb, and ’62 was a doozie. In Stoke Newington (London suburb), the Christmas snow stayed on the ground for months (piled at the side of roads) and the lake in my local park was frozen until May. A Taleb event, perhaps, there was a black swan on and around the lake for months, the first, and for many years the only, one I’d seen.

      • Faustino

        I am always seeing Black swan events. Could be something to do w8th living very close to Dawlish where they have gone native

        http://soggibottom.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/black-swans-of-dawlish-and-freya-rose.html

        tonyb

  49. The underlying principle of resilience ideas is Julian Simon’s observation that human ingenuity outpaces resource scarcity. (I hope that I am not repeating someone else’s observations, but this thread is too long to read closely to check whether Simon was previously recognized.)

    • That’s a hypothesis that cannot be proved or disproved. There are certainly positive examples, but they don’t prove about future development.

      I have some faith in that hypothesis but I have read also rather convincing counter arguments.

      As with all similar claims, whether we believe in that or not depends largely on our political attitudes. Libertarians are more likely to believe in that hypothesis than leftists or environmentalists, but there may be exceptions to this rule in both directions.

      • Pekka

        Julian Simon’s prognosis on resource scarcity was proven correct once in the past (see Wiki):

        Julian L. Simon and Paul Ehrlich entered in a famous scientific wager in 1980, betting on a mutually agreed-upon measure of resource scarcity over the decade leading up to 1990. Simon had Ehrlich choose five commodity metals. Copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten were chosen and Simon bet that their prices would decrease, while Ehrlich bet they would increase.[note 1] Ehrlich ultimately lost the bet, and all five commodities that were selected as the basis for the wager continued to trend downward during the wager period.

        Max

      • but look what’s happened since

      • It’s a hypothesis proven true over and over again historically, well except for the occasional famine or other local misfortune.
        ===============

      • Many bets have been won, because the winner had valid arguments in support of his views, many in spite of the fact that all the winner’s arguments were wrong.

      • Pekka

        I am not aware of any (let alone “many”) bets that were won based on a false argument by the winner.

        Are you?

        Any examples?

        Max

    • JD Ohio

      “Julian Simon’s observation that human ingenuity outpaces resource scarcity” is an observation that has usually made sense in the past and is, therefore, very likely to do so in the future.

      There will be exceptions, of course – as there are for any general rule.

      Max

      • The oil fracking bubble is gonna pop in the Bakken. Lots of research that went into characterizing flow rates leads us to the unwelcome fact that the build-up of production is not sustainable.

        Google Bakken and Diffusion to understand why the oil wells decrease by 90% of initial production rate in the second year, and it gets worse after that:

        http://www.google.com/?q=bakken+diffusion

        This is the Red Queen in action. Prospectors and construction outfits keep drilling more and more wells just to keep up with the ones that are quickly fading out. The rigs themselves are very mobile and as soon as one well is drilled and fracked, the crew moves it a distance down the road and the process is repeated. Some places are now on round two where “infill” drilling is proceeding to recover the in-between areas that were missed during the first pass.

        Wall street is helping to build up the bubble by speculating and leveraging and securitizing in ways very similar to what happened during the 2008 market bubble. Lots of trading and repackaging is going on that no one really sees:

        “Wall Street has played a key behind-the-scenes role in hyping the fracking boom through mergers and acquisitions and transactional fees, similar to the pattern seen in the housing boom that led to the financial crisis.”

        http://ecowatch.com/2013/fracking-economics-revealed-as-shale-gas-bubble-not-silver-bullet/

        Lots of money is going in to the Bakken and Three Forks formation and it is being propped up by the acceleration of the Red Queen. When the Red Queen starts decelerating, the whole thing will come to a halt. Expect lots of ghost towns in NoDak. We have been through this before, Yukon, California, Deadwood Gulch, etc. We just have more financial leverage these days. The investment money has to go somewhere and investors securitizing their deals thrive off of uncertainty.

      • WHT – I was just reading an article the other day on how the nature and application of proppant affects production. Some pretty dramatic results can be obtained with the right technique. Research continues and my bet is that they will continue to find better ways to get more of the oil out.

      • Here’s the proppant article.

        “In summary, EOG has outperformed in the Eagle Ford and Permian using a new completion design. Using this technique, it has outperformed its competition. In some cases, these results are 200% to 300% better. This completion design focuses around the well bore as opposed to creating long fractures, which has been the industry standard. By focusing around the well bore, more surface area can be stimulated, increasing the total area fractured. This frees up more resource, and in turn is the reason for EOG’s excellent results.”

        http://seekingalpha.com/article/1465261-bakken-update-the-top-eagle-ford-wells-of-all-time-are-moving-to-the-bakken

    • JD wrote:

      The underlying principle of resilience ideas is Julian Simon’s observation that human ingenuity outpaces resource scarcity.

      Yes, maybe, sometimes. Certainly not a dependable law of nature in all times and places, it’s what advanced monkeys do when they suddenly find themselves up against the wall – or die. The dustbin of history is full of civilizations that were unable to adapt they moved, disintegrated, or were replaced. Intelligent humans with foresight try to avoid the walls.

  50. Hot off the UN generated Future We [don't need or] Want department’s fully dressed word-salad of the day (pdf) press:

    A NEW GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP:
    ERADICATE POVERTY AND TRANSFORM ECONOMIES THROUGH SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    The Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

    Word counts strongly suggest that this HLP is just not into “resilience”:

    Sustainab* 219

    climate change 29

    resilien* 13

    The introductory letter from Co-Chairs (one of whom is U.K. PM, David Cameron) to Ban Ki-Moon (Secretary General who “appointed” panel) dated May 30, 2013 includes:

    a transformation to end poverty through sustainable development is possible within our generation.

    [More at UN word-salad of the day: sustainable development will end poverty

  51. hro001

    a transformation to end poverty through sustainable development is possible within our generation.

    Huh?

    What are these guys smoking?

    The only way to reduce poverty in the poorest parts of the world is to ensure their populations access to a reliable, low-cost source of energy (and with it) clean drinking water. And, since nuclear power might not be the best idea for nations with unstable governments, this will have to be based on fossil fuels (ergo not be “sustainable”, as defined by the UN).

    Max

  52. I see sustainability as a contrived idea that encompasses the combined agendas of 1)anti-fossil fuel, 2) anti-capitalism, 3)anti-meat, and 4)anti-Western Civilization. In reality nothing is perfectly sustainable. Soil gets depleted, oil runs out, the weather gets cold,and the climate changes with or without our participation. Nature demands that we move on. Maybe that is the sustainable part, changing residences and ideas often.

    Resilience makes more sense until you look into that concept. It may or may not be independent of sustainability as an idea, but it will have the same consequences. So-called wicked problems will happen, and we will always build anew with a focus on the last wicked problem, or to fight the last war. We cannot predict the exact tumultous problems, only that they will happen, but not what, when, or why. When these shocks (wicked problems) happen, all we can do is what we have always done. We will adapt, and eventually evolve to accommodate the new environment.

    If we are so fragile that we cannot adapt, we don’t have a chance for long term survival. I don’t think resilience is the idea to be chasing. Adaptablility is the gold standard.

  53. This relates to how sustainable the electricity infrastructure is in light of government intervention in the energy markets. Might negatively impact resilience of the US also.

    “In an Intelligent Utility editorial, Rick Tempchin, the executive director for retail energy services at the Edison Electric Institute, a Washington D.C.-based trade association for investor-owned electric utilities, expressed “concerns” about the long-term implications of existing net-metering policies, which give consumers who generate their own electricity a credit for excess electricity they sell back to the grid. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have created net-metering policies.”

    “Growth is important for electric utilities because it enables them to access capital markets at reasonable costs. This is essential if a utility is to continue making investments in its electric system—investments that help to further expand DG opportunities for self-generating customers, as well as to ensure continued system reliability for all customers.”

    “Ironically, the cost of natural gas needed to produce electric power onsite is frequently higher than the value of the credit received for net-metered power. As a result, net metering with gas-fired DG becomes a net loss for the consumer. As far as I know, the rooftop solar industry has not supported net metering price parity for natural gas DG.”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2013/05/30/electric-power-politics-net-metering-gets-nasty/

  54. “She refutes the major arguments against nuclear power one by one, making clear, for example, that a stroll through Grand Central Terminal exposes a person to more radiation than a walk of equal length through a uranium mine; that average background radiation around Chernobyl and in Hiroshima is lower than in Denver; that there are no “cancer clusters” near nuclear facilities; that terrorists could neither penetrate the security at an American nuclear plant nor make an atomic bomb from its fuel; that nuclear waste can be—and already is—safely stored; that wind and solar power, while important, can meet only a fraction of the demand for electricity; that a coal-fired plant releases more radiation than a nuclear plant and also emits deadly toxic waste that kills thousands of Americans a month; that in its fifty-year history American nuclear power has not caused a single death. And she demonstrates how, time and again, political fearmongering and misperceptions about risk have trumped science in the dialogue about the feasibility of nuclear energy.”

    http://cravenspowertosavetheworld.com/

    • Peter Lang

      I reckon that about sums it up.

    • Peter Lang

      If Pekka Pirila is consistent he might respond

      [She] make[s] very strong weakly supported assumptions to get the results [she] wish[es] to get.

    • Gwyneth Cravens is definitely a greenie, but I do like about her that she supports nuclear power. Of course, personally, I like the idea of burning coal, at least as long as it is cheaper to use than nat gas or some other energy source – and by cheap, I don’t mean made cheap by subsidies.

  55. I really like the concept of ‘resilience’ I also like the concept of ‘sustainability’ [in some intelligent meaning of the word]. Commenter ‘AK’ above makes an interesting point which is that they are both vectors on the same plane but orthagonal to one another and are trigonometrically related, that is that taken together they produce some kind of a resultant.

    I would also like to point out that in disaster preparedness – as with any other system – ‘common sense’ is also a nice idea. Like: don’t build a city in hurricane zone sitting in a swamp below sea level with a river above you on one side and a lake above you on the other [New Orleans!] because it is perfectly predictable that about once in a generation or so a storm will come along that will defeat your levee system and you die; also, don’t put a neighborhood in a lahar zone [Puyalluy! Sumner!]; don’t build a town on a liquefaction zone [San Fransisco!]; don’t build your city on a sand dune [Galveston!]. There is simply no way to make your situation resilient enough to survive the rare but predictable disasters that are the known unknowns, much less the really BIG ONES and the unknown unknowns.

    Basically, to paraphrase Nassim Taleb, don’t build your utopia in Extremistan.

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

    I’m probably putting myself at grave risk of being found in very bad taste, but I noticed that in the year that I was born, Moore Oklahoma had a population of less than 2,000 and that the population doubled almost five times between then and the most recent F5 tornado to hit the town, and four and a half times when it was hit by the previous F5 tornado in 1999. Moore has been hit by four F4+ tornadoes in the last 15 years and 20 tornadoes since 1890. This seriously begs the question of what the good people of Moore actually died from.

    Big metropolitan areas with sprawling suburbs may not be the most intelligent decision in Tornado Alley, unless we want to make them underground, bombproof suburbs or simply plan for friable neighborhoods. What happened in Moore was the aftermath of the accumulation of a great many rational, but unintelligent decisions about how to plan for risk. No below ground shelters…

    As someone with a background in Architecture, it makes me cry – then it makes me angry.

    Apologies in advance if you have found me to be in bad taste.

    W^3

    • Ron O'Daniels

      Sounds like you may be making a very strong case for Centralized Government Planning regarding where to locate large populations and the services they require?

      • Rob Starkey

        In the US we could call that central agency State government. To a large degree, over time the insurance industry would also have a large influence in correcting this situation if state governments would say the heck out of the market and force people living in higher risk areas to pay for the full cost of insuring their properties.

      • Nope, not this monkey!

        I’m actually some kind of a help your neighbor anarchist. I’m just into making intelligent decisions about risk and not subsidizing unintelligent ones, following the easy money like a bunch of lemmings – right over the cliff. Bureaucracies simply aren’t smart enough, and the motivations of the governmental organizations that create and control them aren’t rational enough to make centralized state planning work – without massive inefficiencies and unintended consequences.

        There is a necessary role for government in regulation, establishing standards and creating some basic guardrails around what we do, namely to protect ourselves from each other, but only free markets and free will give any hope of producing enough good decisions to keep up with a changing environment, and mitigate against mistakes. One size fits all solutions devised from afar by a very small number of decision makers can never work well for long.

        That said, Moore Oklahoma is a case in point where the ignoring of and inappropriate distribution of the costs and consequences of risk let a herd mentality develop with disastrous consequences. Nowhere is it writ large that you have to build sprawling suburbs in Oklahoma. For forty years people have been following the cheap real estate to Moore but did not invest in the required survival infrastructure. This wasn’t even a Black Platypus event [to rephrase Taleb] the risks were not that difficult to quantify. A lot of people had to simply ignore them. Some places should be left as farm land, Moore Oklahoma happens to be one of them.

        There are LOTS of places like Moore Oklahoma out there. Lots. Lets plant a park or a toilet paper warehouse on them instead of a neighborhood.

        Can a suburb of ‘normal’ construction be made ‘resilient’ to tornadoes on a twice per decade basis? I don’t think so. Is the cost ‘sustainable’ once insurance underwriters and the broader public decide they no longer wish to underwrite the risk? We’ll have to see.

        W^3

    • Well, it’s all very well to hindcast this sort of thing. Can you forecast? I can:

      In 1993 the Missouri Floodplain just down the hill from where I live was covered with 10 feet of water:

      The Flood of 1993 was one of the most destructive in the recorded history of the Mississippi Basin: nearly 50 people were killed, over 70,000 evacuated, and 50,000 homes damaged on over 17 million acres (close to 27,000 square miles) across nine states. Over 16,000 square miles of working cropland was flooded, at a loss of more than $5 billion. All told, the flood caused around $16 billion in damage.

      In the first blush of post-flood shock, some local and federal officials decided that trying to hold back the Mississippi River was likely to be a costly and never-ending enterprise. Instead of depending on levees and other structures for protection, some thought, it was time to move people’s homes and workplaces off the floodplain and cede ground to the river.

      [...]

      And FEMA acted on this notion: In the nine states flooded in 1993, the agency ultimately moved more than 300 homes, and bought and razed nearly 12,000, at a cost of over $150 million; the lands were turned to flood-friendlier uses like parks and wildlife habitat. The village of Valmeyer, Ill., just downriver of St. Louis, became the buyout poster child: devastated when floodwaters overtopped its levee (an event that likely helped save St. Louis itself from a major flood), the entire town packed it in, selling out its bottomland location for a new site two miles away — and 400 feet above the Mississippi floodplain.

      [...]

      And unlike some of the other states deluged in the Flood of 1993, [...], Missouri has been much slower to enact stronger regulations for floodplain development — perhaps because the state has hundreds of miles of floodplain fronting the Mississippi and Missouri rivers (read: lots of tax income lost and jobs unrealized if new businesses and homes don’t get built).

      All this comes from an article from 2008: Fifteen years after the Great Flood of 1993, floodplain development is booming . 20 years now, and while I’m not prepared to come up with development figures, I see what I drive past 1-2 times a week, and I can tell you there hasn’t been any letup. Just this morning I shopped in the Wal-Mart mentioned in the article.

      None of this construction shows any sign of special “resiliency”, towards floods or, for that matter, tornadoes like the ones that touched down yesterday. If any special new technology has been deployed on/for the levees, I can find no mention of it. It may happen this year, or next year, or in 10 years. Or never. But this is a major disaster waiting to happen.

  56. (Un) sustainable …
    “The financial collapse of electric-car venture Better Place Ltd., which filed for liquidation over the weekend, is a blow for French automotive group Renault SA, RNO.FR -0.60% which helped the Israeli company develop its novel battery-switching system for electric cars.

    Founded by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi in 2007, Better Place developed a system where electric-car owners could drive their vehicles into a network of stations around Israel ILCO.TV -1.13% and replace the car’s battery with a new one in about the same amount of time it takes to fill a gasoline tank on a regular car.

    The “quick drop” system was supposed to remove one of the main obstacles to the adoption of electric vehicles, namely the several hours it takes to recharge a flat battery. ”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323855804578507263247107312.html

    • You’re in luck. I just happened to finish the week-long SAE course on hybrid/electric vehicles, and learned what the problem was with Better Place.

      First of all, the battery in a hybrid or electric vehicle is considered “The Diva” of the components. In other words, it requires special treatment and is in charge, so to speak. For that reason, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to willy-nilly switch out the batteries w/o knowledge of the quality of the available stock. A Better Place was predicted to fail.

      This is also why people are resistant, so to speak, to plug their batteries into the grid for others to draw from.

      BTW, I am a carbon-fiber road bike enthusiast myself, and find any vehicle heavier than 15 pounds and with tires less than 100 PSI unsustainable. :)

      • David Springer

        Yeah, two wheeled vehicles are real sustainable in the winter in Minnesota, huh? So long as we don’t include “remaining upright” in the list of sustainable attributes. :-)

      • That’s when I get my carbon-fiber XC skis out. I told you I was a carbon-fiber enthusiast. :) And don’t forget the fluorocarbon wax.

        Seriously, anyone that thinks that my preferences are anything but an anecdote has a serious deficiency in statistical analysis.

      • If you have details about Better Place, I am interested. In the meantime, I found this. It seems that without government subsidies, even an idea as good as this one will fail.

        “But such rosy projections never came close to materializing. One of the unexpected things to go wrong was that the company didn’t get much help from Israel. Although Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president, was an enthusiastic Better Place supporter, Israel — unlike the U.S. — provides no subsidies to EVs.

        Local authorities, whose permission was needed to build battery-switching stations, put up unexpected roadblocks, slowing progress, company officials said. And when employers provide the cars to their workers, which is a common practice in Israel, the workers pay a usage tax that reflects the full value of the car, including the battery, undermining Better Place’s effort to drive down costs.”

        http://e360.yale.edu/feature/gunther_why_israel_electric_car_startup_better_place_failed/2624/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+YaleEnvironment360+%28Yale+Environment+360%29

      • David Springer

        I’m here to tell you nothing beats a motorcycle in the winter for a pure adrenalin rush. Snow doesn’t stop Real Bikers (TM) like me. Hell when we were kids we used our dirt bikes in the winter to pull other kids around on aluminum snow disks. Hint: Go REAL easy on the front brake…

  57. The reason for lukewarm public acceptance of the theory of man-made warming is not a failure to communicate, but that the science is rotten.

    http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/climatism-watching-climate-science/2013/may/29/it-failure-communicate-or-faulty-climate-science/

  58. Forget sustainability – it’s about resilience

    It’s always interesting how climate debate combatants compulsively construct logical fallacies to rest their arguments upon.

    This reminds me of the silly debate that raged for days about the distinctions between measurement and estimation.

    Or the bogus dichotomy some try to construct between adaptation and mitigation.

    Sustainability and resilience are not mutually exclusive, but inextricably linked. And even if it could be done, why would anyone want to “forget sustainability” to achieve resilience?

    Why do smart and knowledgeable offer such fallacious arguments?

    • A case in point:

      Where sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world.

      Except for some at the extreme end of the spectrum, striving for “sustainability,” means managing imbalance – in such a way as to prevent that imbalance from increasing and reaching a stage where neither sustainability nor resilience will be effective. Resilience means to manage in an imbalanced world and sustainability means to manage an imbalance. You don’t really get to resilience if you don’t address sustainability, and you don’t really get to sustainability if you don’t address resilience.

      • Joshua,

        When was the world ever been in “balance”?

        If it ever was, there never would be any varribility. You’re chasing a pipe-dream.

      • DCA -

        When was the world ever been in “balance”?

        When did I suggest that it ever was “in balance?”

    • Rob Starkey

      Joshua

      Do you disagree that over the next 30 to 50 years harms to humans from adverse weather will best be lessened by the construction and maintenance of robust infrastructure? It seems so obvious that I am confused how a bright person would not agree. Sustainability is essential over the long term, but will not seem to significantly lessen harms in the short to mid term

      • Rob -

        Do you disagree that over the next 30 to 50 years harms to humans from adverse weather will best be lessened by the construction and maintenance of robust infrastructure?

        Yes, I agree. Obviously, more so in richer countries, and more so in ways that differentially help protect those who have money in richer countries.

        On the other hand, in this country in more recent decades it seems that it has gotten more and more difficult to get public support for infrastructure spending. The extent to which money will be available for that purpose will be proportional to the degree (no pun intended)of adverse weather. To some extent, that is how it should be. But that kind of reasoning can be pushed over the edge by ideological extremists – and I think that is happening to some extent. The question for me is whether that trend is likely to continue.

      • Rob Starkey

        Joshua

        It would have an even larger positive impact in developing nations where normal seasonal adverse weather currently kills thousands every year. The issue is if a nation doesn’t make it a priority, the situation won’t change.

  59. There’s been some to-ing and fro-ing on free markets above. Here are some thoughts from James Buchanan, who died recently. A significant point he makes is that “potential participants in voluntary exchange do not know until they enter the process what their own choices will be.” You can confirm that from your own behaviour. Buchanan concludes from this that “it is logically impossible for an omniscient designer to know.” This is one of the critical value of markets compared to centralised planning and distribution – the planner can not possibly know people’s preferences at the point of decision.
    (Note that Buchanan’s italicization did not survive cut & paste process.)

    James M. Buchanan, “Order Defined in the Process of its Emergence”*
    *A note stimulated by reading Norman Barry, “The Tradition of Spontaneous Order,” Literature of Liberty, V (Summer 1982), 7-58. First published 1982
    Norman Barry states, at one point in his essay, that the patterns of spontaneous order “appear to be a product of some omniscient designing mind” (p. 8). Almost everyone who has tried to explain the central principle of elementary economics has, at one time or another, made some similar statement. In making such statements, however, even the proponents-advocates of spontaneous order may have, inadvertently, “given the game away,” and, at the same time, made their didactic task more difficult.

    I want to argue that the “order” of the market emerges only from the process of voluntary exchange among the participating individuals. The “order” is, itself, defined as the outcome of the process that generates it. The “it,” the allocation-distribution result, does not, and cannot, exist independently of the trading process. Absent this process, there is and can be no “order.”

    What, then, does Barry mean (and others who make similar statements), when the order generated by market interaction is made comparable to that order which might emerge from an omniscient, designing single mind? If pushed on this question, economists would say that if the designer could somehow know the utility functions of all participants, along with the constraints, such a mind could, by fiat, duplicate precisely the results that would emerge from the process of market adjustment. By implication, individuals are presumed to carry around with them fully determined utility functions, and, in the market, they act always to maximize utilities subject to the constraints they confront. As I have noted elsewhere, however, in this presumed setting, there is no genuine choice behavior on the part of anyone. In this model of market process, the relative efficiency of institutional arrangements allowing for spontaneous adjustment stems solely from the informational aspects.

    This emphasis is misleading. Individuals do not act so as to maximize utilities described in independently existing functions. They confront genuine choices, and the sequence of decisions taken may be conceptualized, ex post (after the choices), in terms of “as if” functions that are maximized. But these “as if” functions are, themselves, generated in the choosing process, not separately from such process. If viewed in this perspective, there is no means by which even the most idealized omniscient designer could duplicate the results of voluntary interchange. The potential participants do not know until they enter the process what their own choices will be. From this it follows that it is logically impossible for an omniscient designer to know, unless, of course, we are to preclude individual freedom of will.

    The point I seek to make in this note is at the same time simple and subtle. It reduces to the distinction between end-state and process criteria, between consequentialist and nonconsequentialist, teleological and deontological principles. Although they may not agree with my argument, philosophers should recognize and understand the distinction more readily than economists. In economics, even among many of those who remain strong advocates of market and market-like organization, the “efficiency” that such market arrangements produce is independently conceptualized. Market arrangements then become “means,” which may or may not be relatively best. Until and unless this teleological element is fully exorcised from basic economic theory, economists are likely to remain confused and their discourse confusing.

    James M. Buchanan, Center for the Study of Public Choice, George Mason University (after 1983)

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_content&task=view&id=163&Itemid=282

  60. The thorn bush growing in a cleft of stone, and this,
    resilience and more … you’ve heard it before but
    that doesn’t mean yer can’t hear it again.

    Root Cellar. Theodore Roethke.

    Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,
    Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,
    Shoots dangled and drooped,
    Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,
    Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.
    And what a congress of stinks!
    Roots, ripe as old bate,
    Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich,
    Leaf-mould, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks.
    Nothing would give up life:
    Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.

  61. David Springer

    Forget Carbon Dioxide It’s About Halogens

    Full paper in preprint (no paywall):

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1210/1210.6844.pdf

    Abstract: (my emphasis)

    COSMIC-RAY-DRIVEN REACTION AND GREENHOUSE EFFECT OF HALOGENATED MOLECULES:
    CULPRITS FOR ATMOSPHERIC OZONE DEPLETION AND GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
    Q.-B. Lu
    Department of Physics and Astronomy and Departments of Biology and Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA
    Abstract This study is focused on the effects of cosmic rays (solar activity) and halogen-containing molecules (mainly chlorofluorocarbons—
    CFCs) on atmospheric ozone depletion and global climate change. Brief reviews are first given on the cosmic-ray-driven electron-inducedreaction
    (CRE) theory for O3 depletion and the warming theory of halogenated molecules for climate change. Then natural and anthropogenic
    contributions to these phenomena are examined in detail and separated well through in-depth statistical analyses of comprehensive measured
    datasets of quantities, including cosmic rays (CRs), total solar irradiance, sunspot number, halogenated gases (CFCs, CCl4 and HCFCs), CO2,
    total O3, lower stratospheric temperatures and global surface temperatures. For O3 depletion, it is shown that an analytical equation derived
    from the CRE theory reproduces well 11-year cyclic variations of polar O3 loss and stratospheric cooling, and new statistical analyses of the
    CRE equation with observed data of total O3 and stratospheric temperature give high linear correlation coefficients 0.92. After the removal of
    the CR effect, a pronounced recovery by 20~25% of the Antarctic O3 hole is found, while no recovery of O3 loss in mid-latitudes has been
    observed. These results show both the correctness and dominance of the CRE mechanism and the success of the Montreal Protocol. For global
    climate change, in-depth analyses of the observed data clearly show that the solar effect and human-made halogenated gases played the
    dominant role in Earth’s climate change prior to and after 1970, respectively. Remarkably, a statistical analysis gives a nearly zero correlation
    coefficient (R=0.05) between corrected global surface temperature data by removing the solar effect and CO2 concentration during 1850-1970.
    In striking contrast, a nearly perfect linear correlation with coefficients as high as 0.96-0.97 is found between corrected or uncorrected global
    surface temperature and total amount of stratospheric halogenated gases during 1970-2012. Furthermore, a new theoretical calculation on the
    greenhouse effect of halogenated gases shows that they (mainly CFCs) could alone result in the global surface temperature rise of ~0.6 C in
    1970-2002. These results provide solid evidence that recent global warming was indeed caused by the greenhouse effect of anthropogenic
    halogenated gases. Thus, a slow reversal of global temperature to the 1950 value is predicted for coming 5~7 decades.
    It is also expected that
    the global sea level will continue to rise in coming 1~2 decades until the effect of the global temperature recovery dominates over that of the
    polar O3 hole recovery; after that, both will drop concurrently. All the observed, analytical and theoretical results presented lead to a convincing
    conclusion that both the CRE mechanism and the CFC-warming mechanism not only provide new fundamental understandings of the O3 hole
    and global climate change but have superior predictive capabilities, compared with the conventional models.

    • This is very interesting for a number reasons. I’ve worked with some of the folks referenced here in the basic physics arena many moons ago–when it really was applied research. I hope the paper has some reasonable evaluation in blog world–both the physics and the statistics. I am particularly interested in how people will ‘evaluate’ the science–or if things get to that stage in the current atmosphere (no pun intended).

      • David Springer

        It’s published in a peer reviewed journal. I gave the arxiv.org link because you can read the entire paper without going through a paywall. If you have access go here:

        International Journal of Modern Physics B
        Condensed Matter Physics; Statistical Physics; Applied Physics

        Q.-B. LU, Int. J. Mod. Phys. B DOI: 10.1142/S0217979213500732

        COSMIC-RAY-DRIVEN REACTION AND GREENHOUSE EFFECT OF HALOGENATED MOLECULES: CULPRITS FOR ATMOSPHERIC OZONE DEPLETION AND GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

        Q.-B. LU
        Department of Physics and Astronomy and Departments of Biology and Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

        Received: 15 October 2012
        Revised: 27 February 2013
        Accepted: 12 March 2013
        Published: 30 May 2013

        http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0217979213500732

      • David Springer

        Handily explains the pause.

        And here I thought the pause was due to the rousing success of compact fluorescent light bulbs in combination with the Toyota Prius. Just goes to show I’m not always right. But I still could be. The jury is still out. ;-)

      • At this time one of the most interesting and key aspects on the physical side is the appearance and DA role long-lived trapped attached electron. (Already a few of the early blog comments seems to have missed that wrinkle entirely and tended to be dismissive-a -’the science of there has been settled.’) Clearly it smacks of the physics one sees in regard to secondary radiation effects–not surprising in view of the references.

        Clearly reaction rates depend on the lifetime thru the DA cross sections and I suspect at zero/near zero energy estimating the lifetimes relevant way up in the sky may be rather uncertain. But if the concept is to hold up the determination of the appropriate parameter values will have to be done. (I have not look at references and earlier work). It is an interesting proposal given my personal ‘biases’, and suggests (for the moment) less ambiguous mechanisms that can be quantified/tested (as opposed ‘well it triggers all of these other effects which we really don’t understand). If it takes root as a viable model, I would expect some modification/embellishments.

        Challenges to Lu’s statistical analyses as a whole would not be as critical to me at this stage because it seems clear that both correctness and propriety in that corner of climate science is still a work in progress. It is still quite sloppy in presentation, and seems sparse of statistical diagnostics IMO.

        I really hope it gets some legs as it could prove quite entertaining. It is very early. Thanks for pointing it out at this early stage.

      • mwgrant:

        I hope the paper has some reasonable evaluation in blog world–both the physics and the statistics.

        Qing-Bin Lu has been publishing the same hypothesis for years under different titles and in different journals.

        His hypothesis is completely wrong.

        It’s wrong on how CFCs decay in the stratosphere – which has nothing to do with cosmic rays.

        It’s wrong in its attribution of global warming to CFCs based on nothing more than a correlation of two time series.

        And it’s wrong because the measured radiative properties of CO2 are unaffected by the analysis, in spite of Lu’s hand-waving alternative attribution to CFCs.

        You want blog-evaluation? Here:

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/12/ozone-holes-and-cosmic-rays/

        http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/01/commander-coincidence.html

        You want a more formal take-down? Here:

        http://prl.aps.org/pdf/PRL/v103/i22/e228501

      • Heinrich

        Thanks for the links. I’ll have a look; PRL is (behind a firewall); Rabet in too busy trying to be cute to really take seriously–cute is a ploy for distraction. Realclimate? mixed bag. Still it is a place to start.

        It is a shame the PRL is behind a firewall as there are a couple of physics questions regarding density of hypothesized reactants (specifically the trapped electrons). I poke around for secondary references to the PRL…sorry this is a quick response—doc’s appmt. Thanks again.

      • Lu got two papers on his ozone conjecture published in Physical Review Letters, arguably the most prestigious physics journal around. He got these published because he had a track record in spectroscopy research.
        He won’t be getting mulligans and gimmes any longer if his findings don’t hold up. watch how it unfolds.

      • WebHubTelescope (@whut) | May 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm |


        He won’t be getting mulligans and gimmes any longer if his findings don’t hold up. watch how it unfolds.

        Some of his findings may well hold up – He’s done little beyond regression analysis on parameters that appear to have no strong causal relationship.

        His conjecture that Cl is released due to the action of GCRs on CFCs attached to polar stratospheric clouds is not well-supported. Most of the studies on the subject indicate that photolytic conversion of the CFCs the dominant source of Cl.

        I will give Lu this – He’s probably wrong – but he is doing science.

        Put your ideas out there. Test them. Test them again.

      • David Springer

        Let’s start a betting pool on how long it is before a PRL editor is forced to resign for allowing Lu’s paper to appear there.

        Have the usual suspects issued the call for a boycott yet? It’s been almost 24 hours already. The rapid rabid response team should be on it like stink on schit.

      • Springer:

        Let’s start a betting pool on how long it is before a PRL editor is forced to resign for allowing Lu’s paper to appear there.

        The conspiracy ideation is strong with this one.

        Did you major in drama at the Heartland School of Method Acting, by any chance?

      • David Springer

        No Heiny. It’s levity. I used to write jokes for Johnny Carson in a previous life.

        I can’t believe I just said no heiny…

      • David Springer

        https://www.google.com/images?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4LENN_enUS461US461&q=%22GREENHOUSE+EFFECT+OF+HALOGENATED+MOLECULES%22

        Handy dandy link for mathtards like myself. You know what they say, a graph is worth a thousand equations. Or something like that. Unless it’s a graph from a Vaughn Pratt GRU poster then it wouldn’t worth the piss it would take to put it out if it was on fire.

      • David Springer

        My dear Heiny…

        My dearest Heiny…

        I’m sorry Heiny…

        Heiny has a good point…

        Heiny is very popular in his home country and mine too…

        Heiny is full of ideas…

        If Heiny was a cowboy he’d be a horse’s Heiny…

        … err sorry, just thinking out loud.

      • David Springer

        http://www.climaterapidresponse.org/

        The best jokes have some basis in fact. This is no exception. Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean no one’s out to get me Heiny. Gotta watch my six.

      • If Lu is correct then all the reductions in halocarbons has probably been worth it, yet we don’t know whether his conjecture is right. This is my attempt at duplicating his work.

        Lu doesn’t actually show the halocarbon plot on his arxiv paper
        “Cosmic Rays, CFCs, Ozone Hole and Global Climate Change: Understandings from a Physicist”

        http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.6844

        I got the Northern Hemisphere halocarbon data from here

        http://water.usgs.gov/lab/software/air_curve

        I totaled up the rows since 1940 (it started at 0 in 1940). The offsets don’t matter as Lu is doing a linear regression fit between Halocarbon concentration and Temperature anomaly. I used the HadCrut3 global, with a 3 year smooth and ½ year interval to match the halocarbon interval.

        The important point is that Lu has a lag on halocarbon so that today’s temperature is correlated with the halocarbon concentration from 9 years ago. If you don’t do this the regression is really bad, which is the top figure in the image link. As he states:

        ”In Fig. 10F (and Fig. 10C), a 9-year delay in halocarbon concentrations in the stratosphere from surface-based measurements must be applied, otherwise, global surface temperature would show a sharp rise with high total halocarbon concentrations above 1100 ppt (1.1 ppb).”

        The middle and bottom show the correlation when I add the 9 year correction. As is, without all the solar corrections, I get the same R value of between 0.96 and 0.97 he got (sneaky that he doesn’t use R^2).

        If global average temperature starts going up, his argument that all of global warming is caused by halocarbons will go in the dumpster. However that does not mean that a portion of the global warming is caused by this GHG. According to the consensus model, 1/3 of the 3 degree per doubling is caused by other GHGs and albedo that is associated with increasing CO2.

      • Ron O'Daniels

        Thank you

    • David,
      I just asked about this on Skeptical Science and they say this is about the third iteration of Lu’s theory. He keeps publishing it (usually in non-refereed journals) and it keeps getting debunked.
      You can read their reactions and references to debunking in the comments section of the “Global warming is here to stay, whichever way you look at it” thread. We all know that just because a paper gets past the referees doesn’t mean it’s right.

      • David Springer

        Skeptical Science panned it?

        What a shocker.

      • David Springer:

        Don’t fret.
        Watts will pick up the Lu ball, run with it, and declare victory over the global warmists – all in one post.

        What a shocker that’ll be.

      • David Springer

        I studiously avoid both WUWT and SkS.

        To paraphrase the cult classic Wendy’s commercial: Partisans is partisans.

        Write that down! :-)

    • I looked at this yesterday. It hinges on the CO2 15-micron band being saturated, so he is basically disbelieving the atmospheric radiative transfer models that give the log CO2 dependency of forcing (things like MODTRAN). It is extreme, because even most “skeptics” have just started accepting the log behavior given by radiative transfer models, and they would have dismissed this saturation argument as something towards the “dragonslayer” category.

  62. Central Planning Sustainability 101:

    ” 11.35 If you think things are bad in Europe, spare a thought for people living in Venezuela, where severe price controls and red tape have forced people to take desperate measures just to get hold of some toilet paper.

    Last night, police said they found 2,450 bales of toilet paper in a working class neighborhood called Antimano, west of the capital Caracas. AFP reports:

    Quote The government of the new president Nicolas Maduro announced this month it was importing 50 million rolls of toilet paper. And Congress approved an 80 million dollar loan to import loads of the five scarce essentials.

    The shortages have prompted the government to hold meetings with businessman in various economic sectors. ”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/business-news-markets-live/10090558/Business-news-and-markets-live.html

    • This is where the US is headed if we keep listening to the “progressives.” What’s so progressive about not having toilet paper? And, to put a cherry on top, Venezuela is blessed with ample natural resources. This is why the Rule of Law, Capitalism, and Free Markets are necessary for both sustainability and resilience.

    • We already don’t have 100 watt bulbs due to greenie “progressives.”

    • I guess Marx didn’t consider the toilette paper problem. I think there are lots other things Dr. Komrade didn’t consider. It’s a pity he didn’t put something in the Communist Manifesto about toilette paper, though. Now socialists and communists everywhere have this not-so-subtle stink about them.

  63. Peter Lang

    Bjorn Lomborg has a new book being released tomorrow “How to spend $75 billion”. You can buy it from Amazon or he’ll send you a free copy if you fill in your details here: http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/content/free-copy-how-spend-75-billion-make-world-better-place

  64. Peter,
    Do you, or anyone else who might happen to read this, know any of the thermodynamic details of Carnot engine efficiency, especially as it applies to real steam turbines. The source of my question comes from the fact that the EIA list of U.S. electric power generators lists both summer winter power capacities as well as the nameplate capacity.

  65. Peter,
    I just read some of your postings above and I realize that this question may not be a good match.
    Is there anyone out there who is knows the details of heat transfer in these turbines and cooling systems?

  66. David Springer

    Note Lang’s first response to my question was to just make something up out of whole cloth. Don’t trust a f*cking thing this jagoff says. Insist on links to original sources for all his claims.

    Peter Lang | May 31, 2013 at 10:26 am |

    What would happen if a jumbo jet augured into those 16 cannisters?

    Or what if they were hit by a cruise missile?

    In the plane crash scenario all the people on board would die from the plane crash and the canisters would not rupture. They are something like 1 m thick reinforced concrete (off the top of my head). Read the info on the link I posted.

    In the cruise missile scenario they would be breached and solid material would be dispersed. Negligible effect over the long term. Far less than Fukushima, which is negligible (projected 1 to 100 fatalities over next 70 years). Both the plane crash and the cruise missile would do much more damage if it hit a city or a sports stadium full of people.

    Peter Lang | May 31, 2013 at 10:33 am |

    I’ll retract my comment about the effect of a cruise missile hitting the canisters. I don’t know what the effect of dispersing the high level waste would be, and I should not have trivialised that. My answer is: I don’t know.

    • But he did have the strength of character to go back and correct himself when he could have let his first response stand.

      • David Springer

        BFD. What’s that make him an honest liar? He lied. He knew he was lying. To add insult to injury if he really didn’t know what happens when a spent fuel containment pool loses its water he an imbecile as well as a liar. Everyone with a modicum of interest in nuclear power safety and a triple digit IQ knows what happens. About a zillion people watched “The China Syndrome” after 3-mile island. It’s common knowledge.

      • David,
        I don’t remember seeing China Syndrome. I guess that puts me at two digits. In any event, I don’t remember talking about spent fuel pools, I thought it was about dry cask storage. Aren’t the storage pools within the primary containment building? Of course Fukushima showed that can still be problem, but at least they would be harder to get at by air attack.

    • David Springer

      Some of us, unlike Lang who suddenly found an honest bone in his body and admitted he knew nothing about radiological terrorism, know it will render areas the size of large states uninhabitable.

      http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/364/radiological_terrorism.html

      A typical 1 GWe PWR core contains about 80 t fuels. Each year about one third of the core fuel is discharged into the pool. A pool with 15 year storage capacity will hold about 400 t spent fuel. To estimate the Cs-137 inventory in the pool, for example, we assume the Cs137 inventory at shutdown is about 0.1 MCi/tU with a burn-up of 50,000 MWt-day/tU, thus the pool with 400 t of ten year old SNF would hold about 33 MCi Cs-137. [7] Assuming a 50-100% Cs137 release during a spent fuel fire, [8] the consequence of the Cs-137 exceed those of the Chernobyl accident 8-17 times (2MCi release from Chernobyl). Based on the wedge model, the contaminated land areas can be estimated. [9] For example, for a scenario of a 50% Cs-137 release from a 400 t SNF pool, about 95,000 km² (as far as 1,350 km) would be contaminated above 15 Ci/km² (as compared to 10,000 km² contaminated area above 15 Ci/km² at Chernobyl).

      Read more of the paper at the link. All it takes is draining the water out of a containment pool, and a cruise missile can easily punch a hole in one, and within an hour the zirconium casings on the fuel rods rupture followed an hour later by the zirconium catching fire and it spews out smoke containing cesium-137 and depending on the way the wind is blowing will render uninhabitable (pardon my Marine) 95 f*cking thousand square f*cking kilometers of land.

      How long before Iran has a cruise missile with conventional warhead? They might already have one. Cruise missiles have been around for 30 years or more and they only need one. It might take North Korea a while longer. Or Russia could just let one slip out.

      And Lang envisions thousands of nuclear power plants and competition betweent vendors to drive prices down. Un-f*cking-believable.

      • David Springer

        Just to bring this back on topic…

        Resilience in regard to radiological terrorism means becoming neighbors with Sarah Palin.

        Write that down.

      • OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Peter Lang

        DS asked (on another thread asking about my assertion that a cruise missile strike on the dry cask containing the would not be catastrophic in the way presented in ‘China Syndrome’, apparently the source of his anti-nuclear phobia, and ‘radiological terrorism’ scenario he is clearly deeply concerned about as per this comment: http://judithcurry.com/2013/05/29/forget-sustainability-its-about-resilience/#comment-327979 ):

        Did you have some basis for that and if so what was that basis?

        Well, just some background knowledge and thinking along the following lines.

        First the disclaimer: I have no knowledge about the consequences of a cruise missile hitting the sixteen dry canisters which contain the high-level waste from the now decommissioned Yankee Rowe nuclear power station.

        Having said, that I’ll now play with some numbers and seek input from others who would know much mare about this than I do
        [First, please look at the 8 minute video here:http://www.yankeerowe.com/fuel.html ]

        All the SNF from Yankee Rowe was transferred to the on-site ISFSI by June 2003 pursuant to a general license. The ISFSI contains 15 dry storage casks holding 533 SNF assemblies, and one cask containing Greater-Than-Class-C waste (GTCC) from decommissioning activities. … An excellent video of the process utilized at Yankee Rowe to transfer the SNF from the wet fuel pool to dry cask storage is provided below.
        Yankee Rowe SNF — Pool to Cask Videohttp://www.yankeerowe.com/assets/multimedia/Dry_Fuel_Storage.wmv
        Additional information regarding Yankee Rowe can be found at the following websites:

        http://www.yankeerowe.com/index.html

        http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/decommissioning/power-reactor/yankee-rowe.html

        My assumptions:

        1. Cruise missile strike breaks some or all of the canisters and disperses say 1% to 10% of the high level waste (HLW) over a radius of up to 2 km, (perhaps 10 km).

        2. The HLW is solid and contains little or any of the volatiles that were dispersed from the operating power plants at Chernobyl and Fukushima. So we are dealing with solid fragments (with properties somewhat like the radioactive material that was left after the nuclear bomb test explosions in the Australian desert and cleaned up decades later).

        3. There is 110 tons of solid, dry HLW in the canisters.

        4. The HLW might release say up to 5 TBq/kg as a rough estimate given its time since it was removed from the reactor.
        Total radioactivity = 110,000 kg x 5 TBq/kg = 550,000 TBq

        5. Assume 1% to 10% is released and dispersed = 5,500 to 55,000 TBq

        6. Maximum radius of ejected pieces of HLW = 2 km

        Compare this with the releases from Fukushima: 12,000 TBq released to the atmosphere (all volatiles)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster#Contamination

        .There were no casualties caused by radiation exposure, while approximately 18,500 people died due to the earthquake and tsunami. Future cancer deaths due to accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima are predicted to be extremely low to none.[16]

        In 2013, two years after the incident, the World Health Organization indicated that the residents of the area who were evacuated were exposed to so little radiation that radiation induced health impacts are likely to be below detectable levels.[149] The health risks in the WHO assessment attributable to the Fukushima radiation release were calculated by largely applying the conservative Linear no-threshold model of radiation exposure, a model that assumes even the smallest amount of radiation exposure will cause a negative health effect.[150]

        I expect the fragments of solid HLW that would be dispersed by a cruise missile attack would be much easier to find and clean up than the volatiles (iodine and caesium) released from Fukushima.

        Comments welcome.

    • DS says:

      To add insult to injury if he really didn’t know what happens when a spent fuel containment pool loses its water he an imbecile as well as a liar. Everyone with a modicum of interest in nuclear power safety and a triple digit IQ knows what happens. About a zillion people watched “The China Syndrome” after 3-mile island. It’s common knowledge.

      He continually demonstrates his ignorance. In this he reveals his understanding of nuclear power is based on ‘The China Syndrome” movie.

      And he reveals he doesn’t know the difference between dry storage and containment pool storage.

      That says it all.

      • David Springer

        No, I was a teenager when The China Syndrome came out. These days I get my information from Harvard. Or didn’t you bother to look at the link?

        I know far more about nuclear power than you’ll ever know. You’re an imbecilic cheerleader parroting what you read on nuclear cheerleading blogs without any understanding of it. And you’re a demonstrated liar. Don’t forget that. Your knee jerk reaction was a lie. A bald faced lie. Through your teeth. You speak with forked tongue and no brain.

        Thanks for playing, by the way. :-)

      • Ring, ring, ring; impending meltdown in Cell Three. All personnel to action stations.
        =======

      • Kim

        Fortunately I have acquired the rights to fine people at CE who go off topic, participate actively in long pointless sub threads or those who hijack main threads.
        Based on the evidence from the last week or two I am booking a nice holiday and ordering a new car.

        My franchise exempts me of course from being fined. As a special favour I will exempt you as well as sometimes your posts are so clever that I’m not quite sure whether you have gone off topic or not.

        tonyb

      • Tony B/cr, the way this site is going, you might soon have enough income from fines to need advise from Bjorn Lomborg on how to spend $75 billionm.

        Dang, that’s off-topic, I’d better lock the door against your debt-collectors.

      • tony b

        Not to go too far OT and get a fine, BUT:

        You’ll be pleased to know that Verbier is considering re-opening its ski lifts.

        Other ski locations are thinking of following suit.

        Several thousand skiers are signing up for June skiing.

        And, just think, climatologists were telling us just five years ago that snow in the Alps would soon be a thing of the past.

        Just thought you’d be interested.

        Max

      • Max

        Yes, I saw your comment about snow at 600metres. Apparently the Pyrenees are also opening for the first time ever.

        Here is CET to 1538 with ten and 50 year climate shifts and with glacier movements noted. I have now graphed glacier change back to 1000BC

        . Of course glaciers neither advance (to bottom of page) nor retreat (to top of page) as quickly as that

        Here is latest CET showing an anomaly of 0.4C

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/

        I have noted that changes in glacier movement occurs at roughly plus 0.2C CET anomaly. Now, one year doesn’t create a meaningful trend but thought you might be interested that for the first time for years there looks to be the possibility of a change in glacier movement IF the current situation continues

        tonyb

      • Faustino

        My debt collectors don’t worry about Doors.

        Tonyb

      • . Of course glaciers neither advance (to bottom of page) nor retreat (to top of page) as quickly as that

        Yes, it takes a hundred or two hundred of years of snow like this due to warm oceans to build the ice volume at the heads of the glaciers and ice packs that will advance later. Earth is still warm and the tails of the glaciers and the edges of the ice packs are still retreating and we will still have warm summers, but Ice Volume is increasing.

      • “””IF the current situation continues”””
        Oceans are warm and it takes a long time to cool the oceans.
        The current situation will continue for hundreds of years.
        Just like it did during the Roman and Medieval warm periods.

      • Herman Alexander pope

        The onset of the several episodes of the lia was pretty quick as was its recovery. I think it would take at least a decade for a major glacier to stop advancing and stabilise and a few more years to show definite advance. Smaller ones would have a quicker response time. I’m not sure I agree with the ‘hundreds of years’ time scale

        Tonyb

      • Herman alexander pope

        My comment Should have read ‘ to show definite retreat, not advance.’

        Tonyb

    • This is why we still need Yucca Mountain. This is a case where government intervention IS necessary.

      • Pitch it all in Sydney Harbor, er, better the subducting zones of the oceanic trenches.
        =========

      • David Springer

        Same link this time dry fuel storage since Lang’s little picture was dry fuel storage.

        http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/364/radiological_terrorism.html

        In the U.S., for example, only about 4% of the spent fuel inventory is in dry storage, because there is no financial incentive for the owner to move wastes to safer dry storage. It is estimated that the cost of onsite dry-cask storage for an additional 35,000 t of older spent fuel is about 0.03-0.06 cents per KWh generated from that fuel.

        Wow. 96% of the spent fuel in the United States is in containment POOLS.

        Lang says I don’t know the difference between dry cask and pool storage. Does Lang know the difference between 4% and 96%? ROFL

        Maybe he should actually read up on the subject instead of just making it up as he goes along. But that would rob me of the pleasure in exposing his ignorance. On yet another hand there’s an endless supply of Langtards on the intertubes so another will just take his place.

      • Dianne Feinstein has a bill that I think is still open to public review on nuclear waste storage. If I’m not mistaken, it doesn’t entail a requirement to move SNF to dry storage in a timely manner. If you have any interest in this issue, you may still be able to comment a her website.

      • David Springer

        It’s worse than you thought, Jimbo.

        http://www.ucsusa.org/publications/ask/2013/spentfuel.html

        One major problem is that today’s U.S. nuclear operators routinely store spent fuel in pools at a much higher density than they were designed to hold. That increases the risk in two ways. First, it increases the chance that the spent fuel will overheat, burn, and release radiation into the environment if cooling is lost due to a terrorist attack or accident. More spent fuel in a pool results in closer spacing between spent fuel bundles, reducing cooling and increasing the chance of fire spreading between the bundles. Second, high density of fuel rods in cooling pools will increase the consequences of an accident if the fuel overheats. More fuel in the pool means it could release more radioactivity.

        Isn’t that just precious?

        Lang opines like a broken record about what competition can do drive down the price point of nuclear power. That isn’t all it drives down. Not by half(life)

      • David Springer

        tcflood

        I’ve had an interest in the subject for 50 years. Back when I was a kid the word on the street was that nuclear power would make electricity so cheap you wouldn’t be billed for it. Not only was that not true I’ve witnessed at least 30 years of political inability to do anything concrete (pun intended) with spent fuel. It’s another one of those things like a lunar colony, finding life elsewhere in the universe, peace on earth, fusion power, flying cars, and a host of other broken promises and ill-conceived dreams. At some point you become cynical. I’m past that point.

      • Steven Mosher

        flying car

        if they can make VTOL work, that will be cool.

        http://www.terrafugia.com/

      • David,
        The UCS was calling people trying to get them to call Feinstein’s office about the wet-to-dry storage problem. I think I’ll check to see if I can still comment on her site.

      • kim – we don’t want to put it anywhere we can’t get at it. It is still fuel and can be utilized in various ways. It is valuable.

      • Peter Lang

        Great, I just got a lead in to respond to an O/T topic on the rate of cost reduction of nuclear power. It so happens I wrote the following to a colleague just a few minutes ago.

        “XXXX,

        I saw your recent comment on Climate Spectator where you said you are presenting a paper to the nuclear conference in July.

        If its not too late, can I suggest what I think is an important point to make. It is about the cost projections for nuclear to 2030 and 2050 [you may have covered it already].

        AETA, using learning rates provided by CSIRO, has no cost reduction rate for nuclear but does apply capital cost reductions per capacity doubling of:
        - wind = 7% to 10%
        - solar thermal = 10% to 15%
        - solar PV = 22%
        - nuclear = 0%

        I think nuclear should have a significant cost reduction rate. I suggest a moderate rate of reduction in LCOE would be 10% per capacity doubling for small modular nuclear reactors. Note, I apply that to LCOE not just to capital cost. I can explain why if you want me to.

        If we begin with AETA’s $113/MWh for small modular nuclear reactors in Australia in 2020 and reduce LCOE at 10% pa, the SMR plants (in Australia) will be the same cost as new coal (without CCS) when 2.5 GW have been commissioned world wide, and half the cost of new coal when 200 GW have been commissioned world wide.

        Now consider the rate of capacity doubling (I don’t know how to estimate this so you may be able to suggest better than I have done). I suspect it will be much faster for nuclear than for renewables. My reason for saying this is that we only need 2.5 GW installed globally until nuclear is break even LCOE with new coal. Whereas, renewables will require subsidies for a very long time. OECD countries are pulling back from subsidising renewables. There is a strongly growing trend in Europe to pull back from subsidising renewable energy and green schemes. So the cost reduction rate of renewables will slow, IMO. Whereas nuclear’s rate will increase as the LCOE decreases relative to coal.

        I calculate the LCOE of nuclear will be equal to new coal (in Australia) in 2026 at a 2-year capacity doubling rate and in 2029 at a 3-year capacity doubling rate; and will be half that of new coal in 2039 for a 2 year capacity doubling rate and 2049 for a 3 year capacity doubling rate. [The capacity refers to global capacity, while the LCOE is for Australia]

        The chart below shows the LCOE of SMR in Australia for a range of cost reduction rates per capacity doubling and assuming global SMR capacity doubles every 2 years.

        I also have charts for LCOE, generation, fatalities avoided and cumulative CO2 abatement versus time for 2 year and 3 year capacity doubling rates.

        Let me know if you’d like me to send the other charts and/or the Excel file.

      • Yes, jim2 I know that and agree, reprocessing, someday probably of the pebbles for pebble beds. My brother told me the subduction zone idea 30 years ago and since then I’ve watched the train of nuclear waste terror parade by on Mulberry Street.
        =========

  67. David,
    Do you remember them X-raying for fit in shoe stores?

  68. A map of 31 million people who practiced the only practical form of resilience to extreme weather due AGW:

    http://www.fastcoexist.com/1682141/mapping-the-31-million-people-displaced-by-climate-change-so-far

    They ran away.

    • k scott denison

      Yeah, superstorm Sandy was caused by AGW. Sure. You’re map lost all credibility right there for me Bart.

      Check the facts on hurricanes making landfall in the US over the past 100 years and point me to the data that says Sandy was caused by AGW.

      • k scott denison | May 31, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

        Ah. Said like a true acolyte of WUWT.

        When a drunk driver’s car crashes, do people quibble over how much of the carnage came from the booze?

        Hurricane Sandy was an entirely ordinary little hurricane. Perhaps a bit late in the season for such a storm. Not much of note, really. Except it followed a course that hurricanes probably would not, a century ago. Sure, some did — the true monster hurricanes — go so far north, at extremely low rates. But when Sandy ought have broken up, under past climates, by all probabilities for a system of its puny might and small size, it didn’t. It lingered.

        And while the jet stream changes let little Sandy linger, they also let the nameless Arctic system — bigger by far than Sandy — reach farther south than under former climate conditions, earlier in the season, than probably it would have.

        Then Sandy turned toward nameless, forced by an AGW-caused blocking to change course, and the two bred a Frankenstorm that was the largest single storm system ever seen, by far.

        Some claim the Frankenstorm Surge was due in part to the coincidence of Sandy with the full moon. This, of course, is idiotic. The King Tide was days off from Sandy. Had the two coincided, the New York surge would have been almost a foot higher. In that way, we got lucky.

        Here, John Mason puts Jennifer Francis’ research into layman’s terms: http://skepticalscience.com/jetstream-guide.html#longwaves

        If you have trouble following, just look up Dr. Francis on youtube.

  69. Ron O'Daniels

    @w.w.wygart To not have sprawling developments of the kind that you are speaking requires that decisions be made the say that “you cannot develop” which means a central authority, even if at the county level which says this is the way that development is going to be done in this county, and this is how it is NOT going to be done. Of course anytime you start to tell people what they cannot do – suddenly – everyone is having their freedom taken away from them by tyranny. Right?

    As these decisions impact on the state level – and often have significant amounts of money involved – especially in the cases for private development of business interests – the state becomes a principal player – right?

    Now with regard to developments along both coasts of the United States in hurricane impact zones as an example, in which the interior states benefit in large ways from the goods that come through port cities – filled with millions of hard workers, thus it is a federal issue – as it relates to the entire United States. So I am not sure if I follow the line that (1) decisions have to be made to not build in dangerous places; and (2) this is going be done at the most local of levels.

    The most local of levels are usually driven by business interests who want to build and encourage more development for the sake of everyone making more money. More money, more jobs, more people coming to fill the county etc. So how could this kind of decision making be countered, I mean who decides that we are not going to be lemmings? I have seen this in action when people attempt to picket a new Walmart. It is very difficult to stop sprawling growth, and if I am going take the stance of attacking the lack of decision making in the past – or stupid decisions – how can I do that unless I am going to support a decision making authority to make decisions. I mean there are a few city councils I suppose who could pass a law that says no more new businesses in our city. No more Walmarts, no more new families until we have a vacancy.

  70. Are there any electrical engineers here? At universities you know..?

    I really would like someone to answer the questions I’ve put here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/30/an-interesting-advance-in-battery-applications/#comment-1322722

    http://www.free-energy-info.co.uk/PJKbook.pdf

    ““The energy does not come from the battery.
    “Well then, why does the battery run down, if no energy is being drawn from it to power the circuit? Ah, that is the really silly thing that we do. We create a closed-loop circuit (because that’s what we have always done) where the current flows around the circuit, reaches the other battery terminal and immediately destroys the battery’s “dipole”. Everything stops dead in it’s tracks. The environment becomes symmetrical again, the massive amount of readily available free-energy just disappears and you are back to where you started from. But, do not despair, our trusty battery immediately creates the Plus and Minus terminals again and the process starts all over again. This happens so rapidly that we don’t see the breaks in the operation of the circuit and it is the continual recreation of the dipole which causes the battery to run down and lose it’s power. Let me say it again, the battery does not supply the current that powers the circuit, it never has and it never will – the current flows into the circuit from the surrounding environment.
    “What we really need, is a method of pulling off the power flowing in from the environment, without continually destroying the dipole which pushes the environment into supplying the power. That is the tricky bit, but it has been done. ”

    What is it that is done in batteries to shut down the dipole?

    Why can’t we just stop doing it?

  71. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  72. Thanks Judith,
    I agree with substituting “resilience” for “sustainability” – in fact, it is what I have been saying for a few years now :-)
    I am a town planner and building designer, 43 years experience, expertise in climate-responsive design, mainly in relation to the tropics. I always promoted “sustainability”, then had to find a new term because sustainability has been mucked up by the usual suspects.
    One criticism of sustainability in the construction context has been “there is always entropy”. I tend to disagree. Things made by people tend to wear out with use, sure, but buildings are often the opposite; they deteriorate much more rapidly if they are NOT used. I have worked on buildings that are hundreds of years old, eg early English/Welsh vernacular, some Roman, one at least built on foundations dating back to the Bronze Age, eg 5000 years? How’s that for “retention of embodied energy” :-)
    Regards
    Martin Clark

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