Monbiot on environmental fixes

by Judith Curry

George Monbiot has published an interesting essay in the Guardian entitled “Lets face it:  none of our environmental fixes break the planet-wrecking project.”  The subtitle to the article is “All of us in the green movement are lost before the planet’s real problem: not too little fossil fuel but too much.”

George Monbiot’s Wikipedia page says:

George Joshua Richard Monbiot (born 27 January 1963) is an English writer, known for his environmental and political activism. He lives in MachynllethWales, and writes a weekly column forThe Guardian, and is the author of a number of books, including Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (2000) and Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice (2008). He is the founder of The Land is Ours campaign, which campaigns peacefully for the right of access to the countryside and its resources in the United Kingdom.[2] In January 2010, Monbiot founded theArrestBlair.org website which offers a reward to people attempting a peaceful citizen’s arrest of former British prime minister Tony Blair for alleged crimes against peace.

Monbiot’s views on climate change:

Monbiot believes that drastic action coupled with strong political will is needed to combat global warming. Monbiot has written that climate changeis the “moral question of the 21st century” and that there is an urgent need for a raft of emergency actions he believes will stop climate change, including: setting targets on greenhouse emissions using the latest science; issuing every citizen with a ‘personal carbon ration’; new building regulations with houses built to German passivhaus standards; banning incandescent light bulbs, patio heaters, garden floodlights, and other inefficient technologies and wasteful applications; constructing large offshore wind farms; replacing the national gas grid with a hydrogen pipe network; a new national coach network to make journeys using public transport faster than using a car; all petrol stations to supply leasable electriccar batteries with stations equipped with a crane service to replace depleted batteries; scrap road-building and road-widening programmes, redirecting their budgets to tackle climate change; reduce UK airport capacity by 90%; closing down all out-of-town superstores and replacing them with warehouses and a delivery system.

Monbiot says the campaign against climate change is ‘unlike almost all the public protests’ that came before it:

It is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves.

Monbiot also thinks that economic recession can be a good thing for the planet: “Is it not time to recognise that we have reached the promised land, and should seek to stay there? Why would we want to leave this place in order to explore the blackened waste of consumer frenzy followed by ecological collapse? Surely the rational policy for the governments of the rich world is now to keep growth rates as close to zero as possible?” While he does recognize that recession can cause hardship, he points out that economic growth can cause hardship as well. For example, the increase in sales of jet skis would count as economic growth, but they would also cause hardships such as water pollution and noise pollution.

Well, after reading this bio info and before even reading his essay, the skeptics will assume that Monbiot couldn’t possibly have anything sensible to say. See what you think about this essay.  Some excerpts from the Guardian article:

What the nuclear question does is to concentrate the mind about the electricity question. Decarbonising the economy involves an increase in infrastructure. Infrastructure is ugly, destructive and controlled by remote governments and corporations. These questions are so divisive because the same world-view tells us that we must reduce emissions, defend our landscapes and resist both the state and big business. The four objectives are at odds.

But even if we can accept an expansion of infrastructure, the technocentric, carbon-counting vision I’ve favoured runs into trouble. The problem is that it seeks to accommodate a system that cannot be accommodated: a system that demands perpetual economic growth. We could, as Zero Carbon Britain envisages, become carbon-free by 2030. Growth then ensures that we have to address the problem all over again by 2050, 2070 and thereon after.

Accommodation makes sense only if the economy is reaching a steady state. But the clearer the vision becomes, the further away it seems. A steady state economy will be politically possible only if we can be persuaded to stop grabbing. This in turn will be feasible only if we feel more secure. But the global race to the bottom and its destruction of pensions, welfare, public services and stable employment make people less secure, encouraging us to grasp as much for ourselves as we can.

If this vision looks implausible, consider the alternatives. In the latest edition of his excellent magazine The Land, Simon Fairlie responds furiously to my suggestion that we should take industry into account when choosing our energy sources. His article exposes a remarkable but seldom noticed problem: that most of those who advocate an off-grid, land-based economy have made no provision for manufactures. I’m not talking about the pointless rubbish in the FT’s How To Spend Itsupplement. I’m talking about the energy required to make bricks, glass, metal tools and utensils, textiles (except the hand-loomed tweed Fairlie suggests we wear), ceramics and soap: commodities that almost everyone sees as the barest possible requirements.

Are people like Fairlie really proposing that we do without them altogether? If not, what energy sources do they suggest we use? Charcoal would once again throw industry into direct competition with agriculture, spreading starvation and ensuring that manufactured products became the preserve of the very rich. (Remember, as EA Wrigley points out, that half the land surface of Britain could produce enough charcoal to make 1.25m tonnes of bar iron – a fraction of current demand – and nothing else.) An honest environmentalism needs to explain which products should continue to be manufactured and which should not, and what the energy sources for these manufactures should be.

There’s a still bigger problem here: even if we make provision for some manufacturing but, like Fairlie, envisage a massive downsizing and a return to a land-based economy, how do we take people with us? Where is the public appetite for this transition?

A third group tries to avoid such conflicts by predicting that the problem will be solved by collapse: doom is our salvation. Economic collapse, these people argue, is imminent and expiatory. I believe this is wrong on both counts.

But this also raises an awkward question for us greens: why hasn’t the global economy collapsed as we predicted? Yes, it wobbled, though largely for other reasons. Now global growth is back with a vengeance: it reached 4.6% last year, and the IMF predicts roughly the same for 2011 and 2012. The reason, as Birol went on to explain, is that natural gas liquids and tar sands are already filling the gap. Not only does the economy appear to be more resistant to resource shocks than we assumed, but the result of those shocks is an increase, not a decline, in environmental destruction.

The problem we face is not that we have too little fossil fuel, but too much. As oil declines, economies will switch to tar sands, shale gas and coal; as accessible coal declines, they’ll switch to ultra-deep reserves (using underground gasification to exploit them) and methane clathrates. The same probably applies to almost all minerals: we will find them, but exploiting them will mean trashing an ever greater proportion of the world’s surface. We have enough non-renewable resources of all kinds to complete our wreckage of renewable resources: forests, soil, fish, freshwater, benign weather. Collapse will come one day, but not before we have pulled everything down with us.

And even if there were an immediate economic cataclysm, it’s not clear that the result would be a decline in our capacity for destruction. In east Africa, for example, I’ve seen how, when supplies of paraffin or kerosene are disrupted, people don’t give up cooking; they cut down more trees. History shows us that wherever large-scale collapse has occurred, psychopaths take over. This is hardly conducive to the rational use of natural assets.

All of us in the environment movement, in other words – whether we propose accommodation, radical downsizing or collapse – are lost. None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess. None of our chosen solutions break the atomising, planet-wrecking project. I hope that by laying out the problem I can encourage us to address it more logically, to abandon magical thinking and to recognise the contradictions we confront. But even that could be a tall order.

JC comment:  abandoning magical thinking and recognizing contradictions would be a really good place for the environmental movement to start.

157 responses to “Monbiot on environmental fixes

  1. I am sorry, Judith, I read what the Moonbat writes, but he is always so wrong, that I really dont take any notice of him.

    ” None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess”

    We are not in a mess. The more CO2 we have, up to say 1500 ppmv, the better. With shale gas, and possibly shale oil and cellulose ethanol, there is lots of fuel available to take us a long way into the future. I will ask the question again. When are you, Judith, going to agree that we skeptics/deniers are absolutely correct about CAGW?

    • When are you, Judith, going to agree that we skeptics/deniers are absolutely correct about CAGW?

      In other words, that the science is settled?

      • lol.

      • We are correct that the AGW Believers have not presented a reasonable case that an additional 100 ppm of CO2 Caused the recent Warming, and now Cooling, and various Weather events that the AGW Movement claims it has.

        The science is NOT settled and that is the problem with AGW.

      • PDA, that’s brilliant, lol.

      • Bad Andrew

        It’s obvious that skeptics/deniers/non-statists/the sane are correct when they say “the science is not settled.”

        Andrew

    • ” None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess”

      I clued in on the same statement. No mess, no path out of it. This is truly a psychological problem. That being the case a very inexpensive placebo is the most sane course of action.

      Now introducing ‘Warm Away’! You first 30 day supply is FREE with shipping and handling. Global Warming giving you the Blues!? “Warm Away’ is an all natural herbal supplement that gets rid of Global Warming in just 90 days. Individual results may vary

      JC comment: abandoning magical thinking and recognizing contradictions would be a really good place for the environmental movement to start.

      You mean start over. All the way back to the beginning, over.

      • You folks need to develop the ability to analyze your opposition. Chanting “they are wrong” is not very useful strategically. Monbiot has given us an opening.

      • Monbiot needs to read and understand Matt Ridley’s latest:

        Click to access Shale-Gas_4_May_11.pdf

      • Monbiot recognizes that fossil fuel supplies are too plentiful, not too scarce.

        I have little doubt that the AGW Movement is far less interested in a scientific debate than in gaining support for their position of Moral Certainty (Apocalypse) that of course comes with Moral Superiority (Dogma).

    • Jim,
      “The more CO2 we have, up to say 1500 ppmv, the better”

      this is one of the reason why Monbiot calls skeptics deniers. This sentence is clearly absurd (and a gift to Monbiot’s supporters). If you are happy to be called/be a denier that is up to you, but it reinforces Monbiot’s impression that his opponents just don’t understand the science.

      The next sentence is exactly the argument that Monbiot himself develops in the article.

      The final sentence of the article is, I guess, an attempt at humour.
      Humour is good.

      • Peter Wilson

        Just what is absurd about the proposition that more CO2 would be preferable? We know the biosphere would love us for it, as it would give plant growth a major boost, and any warming it does produce is more likely to be beneficial than harmful.

        I hardly think having Monbiot call one a denier is an adequate justification for abandoning this proposition – have you another in mind?

      • paul,
        Please be clear why the 1500 ppm claim is clearly absurd, with facts and stats of course.
        Not saying I agree with it, but I would like you to demonstrate its absurdity with more than arm waving.
        For that matter, show us that anything is wrong with ~390 ppm, while you are at it.

      • Peter and Hunter – I am here to talk seriously with scientists. If you really need me to explain why 7 billion humans might have some difficulty adapting to a climate associated with the Eocene, then I’m not sure how much we can be expected to engage.

        As for the less strange request, 390 isn’t the main problem – this paper should halp:

        Click to access 20110118_MilankovicPaper.pdf

      • Paul Haynes,
        Your non-answer is disappointing. The ‘believer brush-off’ is a standard, but boring tactic for you guys.
        Your reliance on garbage by Hansen severely limits your contact with reality, so I am not surprised at your inability to converse.
        Good luck and all that,

      • paul haynes writes “Peter and Hunter – I am here to talk seriously with scientists. If you really need me to explain why 7 billion humans might have some difficulty adapting to a climate associated with the Eocene, then I’m not sure how much we can be expected to engage. ”

        You called my sentence “clearly absurd”. The problem with having any sort of scientific discussion with people like yourself, is that you seem to assume that CAGW has been proved to be true beyond all doubt. I believe that CAGW is merely a hypothesis, since there is no hard measured data to support it. So, if we are going to have any form of scientific discussion it must start with a discussion as to whether CAGW is true. For you to merely claim that it is, simply does not have any sort of scientific basis. Nullius in verba. Provide the proof that CAGW is real, by providing the hard measured data that shows that as the concentration of CO2 is increased in the atmosphere from the levels of 20 years ago, global temperatures rise. If you cannot provide the measured data, then I am afraid so far as I am concerned we are not having a scientific discussion.

      • Jim Cripwell,
        Our friend Paul is doing his best impersonation of Sir Robin.

        and pretending that denialist scum are lizrd brained subhumans beneath his dignity.

  2. One thing is not clear…do you agree with Monbiot that the planet is getting “wrecked”?

    George “Moonbat” Monbiot, I have heard him speak at a climate debate in London, and left with the distinct impression that the guy knows nothing about how science is done. Still, he somehow pretends to be writing in the name of aforementioned science.

    He’s a green ideologue with the occasional spark of clear thinking, a stable coterie of admiring fan-girls and the familiarity with climate and weather shown by his lamenting what flowers in February 2005 were doing in his London garden.

    Just wait now until he writes a blog complaining that his words were misunderstood and that it’s the evil oil corporations that are the collective enemy.

    • Whatever little he knows about science, he knows even less about technology. And he’s probably as good as they get in the environmental movement.

      We have a journalist presuming to engineer the industrial infrastructure of the future. What’s wrong with this picture?

      Oddly, he gets one point right for the wrong reason: abundant energy will allow us to avoid a whole host of other despoilments. Abundant, cheap energy is the keystone to a clean, green future, not the enemy of it. And if carbon-based energy isn’t in the cards, there’s only one alternative on the table for the foreseeable future, and Moonbat got that one right, too.

    • omnologos –
      One thing is not clear…do you agree with Monbiot that the planet is getting “wrecked”?

      He doesn’t know much about science, he doesn’t know much about business, and he knows little or nothing about the parts of the planet that I’m familiar with. And those “parts”, while they’re being “used” are nowhere near being wrecked. A gas well (or 20 gas wells) in the middle of a forest doesn’t “wreck” the forest. In fact, in general they provide feeding plots for wildlife .

      Nor does logging as long as it’s done right. Some years ago the Rainforest Coalition (?) managed to prevent a US company, which was constrained by US environmental laws, from logging in Malaysia. So the government let the contract to the Chinese – who had no such environmental restrictions, and DID “wreck” that particular part of the planet. Interestingly, the Coalition declared victory because the US logging company lost the business. The environmental destruction of the area in question failed to dampen their enthusiasm over their “victory.” Tell me again how some
      environmentalists care about the planet. Or is it their agenda that they care about?

      • Jim Owen-

        “Interestingly, the Coalition declared victory because the US logging company lost the business.”

        It’s OK if China does it, they don’t know any better, and their culture sees nothing wrong with it. Typical Western self-obsession that what we think is right and wrong is good for the world. Someone needs some cultural sensitivity training – we should all respect each others cultures.

      • Oddly, that’s a form of western ethnocentrism, if you stop and think about it. These children aren’t enlightened like usses is.

      • Correct, and neither are we (or at least the “Them” part of we)

    • Monbiot should stop trying to make comments about the general direction the climate is going. Back in 2005 he foolishly wrote:

      The freezes this country suffered in 1982 and 1963 are – unless the Gulf Stream stops – unlikely to recur. Our summers will be long and warm. Across most of the upper northern hemisphere, climate change, so far, has been kind to us.”
      http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/02/15/mocking-our-dreams/

      They did recur in the winters of 2008/2009, 2009/2010, and 2010/2011.

  3. Dr. Curry, you have the nail on the head.
    There has been so much magical thinking as to make the whole worthy movement infested with a corrosive undertone that leads to things like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Times-Up-Uncivilized-Solution-Global/dp/190032248X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304543297&sr=1-1
    Which can be best summed up as Pol Pot on steroids.

    • Speaking of Godwin, that Hansen quote has an Adolfish ring to it:

      the system is the problem

      Mein Kampf was full of railing against “das system”.

      • ChE,
        ChE,
        Which would lead to endless harummphs from apologists seeking to derail a conversation and make sure it never gets where it could go.
        Monbiot, while still using a poor conclusion to the question of,”Is there in fact a dangerous problem?” is at least (in this post) pointing out the deep irreconcilable conflict in the AGW/green movement.
        Now will he backtrack tomorrow after friends of his point out how dangerous his sort of thinking is?
        I don’t know.
        But we know that the memory hole is no longer very functional, thanks to the internet.
        If serious AGW community members would ponder what Monbiot is saying, they might start the introspection notably lacking in the believers to date.
        This could really lead someplace where constructive things could finally happen.

  4. “History shows us that wherever large-scale collapse has occurred, psychopaths take over.”

    Q: What color is a psychopath?
    A: Green

  5. Steve Schuman

    This is a scary read. I had no idea that some people of influence could believe the answer to so called global warming would be the undoing of industrial society. Do these people understand the difficulty of “living off the land.” Industrial society and its poductivity is what has brought us out of poverty, starvation, disease and drudgery. It should be celebrated, not bemoaned. Problems exist in all economic systems. Man uses his creative power to adapt and improve.

    • Steve –
      I had no idea that some people of influence could believe the answer to so called global warming would be the undoing of industrial society.

      This is precisely why so many of the average citizens in the US and elsewhere still support those environmental organizations that keep on screaming “Fight Global Warming” (or Climate Change – or Climate Disruption – or whatever new name they want to call it this week). I’ve seen the ignorance of the intent behind that kind of statement in my friends, my family, my neighbors. And it’s damned hard to disabuse them of their illusions.

      Congratulations on opening your eyes – and seeing what’s there. Some will “open their eyes” – and remain blind.

      • [Godwin alert]

        An anonymous Holocaust survivor once said something to the effect that if someone says that he intends to kill you, believe him.

        And if the green vanguard says that they intend to reduce the earth’s population, believe them.

        And if a presidential candidate says that energy prices must necessarily skyrocket, and industries must be bankrupted, believe him.

      • Brian Rookard

        And looking at the comments on the Monbiot article, the solution generally discussed is population control.
        I’m sure that the population control refers to everyone other than themselves. All those undesirable humans wrecking their planet. The planners will save us. Somebody pass these guys a copy of “The Road to Serfdom.”

      • Brian –
        the solution generally discussed is population control.

        There’s an organization (probably more than one) that encourages suicide as a method of population control. I’ve several times told them that they should set the example and lead the way. Somehow though, they always fail to be the leaders they think they are.

        I also know a number of people who have sworn they’ll never have children. Some don’t, but it’s amazing how many of the women suddenly wake up one morning and hear that “biological clock” ticking – and that’s the end of that resolution.

    • Steve,
      I urge you to read the link to the book in my post above.
      And be sure and read who enodrsed the book enthusiastically.

    • You need to read more green lit. Start with Gore’s Earth in the Balance.

      • The green movement is like the Islamist movement; people don’t want to believe how extreme they really are, despite the fact that they don’t attempt to conceal anything. It’s all out there in black and white (though the Arabic version of the Islamist literature is often a lot more extreme than the English version).

    • Steve –
      I’ll add this to your reading list – it’s a Washington Post column written by a couple of “realists” in response to those who would shut down CO2 generation by shutting down the coal-fired power plants and your car along with all the others. It’s short and to the point.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/imagining-a-world-without-oil/2011/04/12/AFppFHKE_story.html

      Note – I was surprised that the Post would print it.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        The first closing italic tag in this comment is messed up and is causing all comments after it to be in italics.

    • Steve we’ve had long-running disputes at this blog between on the one hand sceptics who, in addition to doubting the science of CAGW, furthermore believe that many alarmists have the ulterior motive of returning society to some prelapsarian state of innocence through de-industrialisation, and on the other hand the CO2 alarmists, who insist it’s all about the science, that going green creates jobs (tell that to the Spaniards), and that the sceptics are spouting conspiracy theory.

      Moonbat’s latest effusion confirms the sceptics’ position.

  6. Andrew Park

    Of course, I suppose Jim Cripwell is always right about everything? Whenever I read statements like that, I always suspect the writer is blowing it out of a particular orifice – perhaps with 1500 ppmv CO2 in the “emissons”. I would very much like to read the scientific literature or Mr Cripwell’s own scientific justification for the statement that “everything up to 1500 PPMV” is OK.

    At least George Monbiot attempted a rigorous journalistic review of energy options for a decarbonized economy, and was prepared to back it up with extensive references to the scientific literature.

    I am not part of Monbiot’s fan club. Nor do I think that he is right about everything. On the other hand, to the extent that any journalist can, he has attempted to understand climate science.

    AND – unlike “omnologos”, “hunter”, “PDA”, and “Gyptis444” he does not hide behind anonymity to vilify another person’s point of view, which is a particular vice of the blogosphere. Criticise by all means, but please let the critiques be constructive and reasoned.

    • Andrew Park writes ” I would very much like to read the scientific literature or Mr Cripwell’s own scientific justification for the statement that “everything up to 1500 PPMV” is OK.”

      The justification for this statement is that it is routine practice for people growing plants in greenhouses to put in extra CO2, up to 1500 ppmv. This makes the plants grow faster and stronger, and produces much better crops,

      • How many would be shocked to learn that the greenhouse effect has little effect on the workings of a greenhouse?

      • Jim, are you serious? Your point is unrelated to the AGW climate science debate, except in so far as CO2 is the global food supply. It in no way falsifies dangerous AGW.

      • Jim Cripwell

        While you are right that greenhouse growers frequently supplement their enclosures with the plant hormone analog CO2, and sometimes up to 1500 ppmv, you oversimplify.

        Greenhouse enclosures are not open fields.

        The most commonplace answer to the ‘but greenhouse growers do it’ claim is Liebig’s Law of the Minimum; only the most limited resource limits plant growth.

        I don’t particularly agree that this is the best objection to your claim, however it is an almost sufficient one; unless water, nitrogen, phosphates and conditions of temperature and light are all above the minimum for the plant in question, more stimulation by the CO2 hormone-suppressant effect is unlikely to give the same benefits as within a greenhouse.

        Field studies suggest that indeed there are some circumstances where some plants differentially do take advantage of CO2 increase to increase their mass – generally in legginess or branching – while some suggest somewhat reducing some of their reproductive vigor.

        Field studies also suggest that soil microbes are profoundly affected by increased CO2 levels too.

        These studies don’t suggest these are uniform benefits; it seems reasonable some plants will be favored by rapidly changing CO2 levels, and some will not. Many of those plants that are not favored are valuable food crops: sorghum, pineapple, tomatoes, etc.

        When planting tomato seedlings, a greenhouse grower would avoid going over 500 ppmv. We’re over 390 ppmv now.

        Being so certain of one’s opinion as to prescribe a course of action for the whole world based on ‘some greenhouse growers do it’ does not seem entirely wise, and certainly doesn’t sound democratic.

      • You should read Leighton Steward’s book, ” Fire, Ice and Water” The research shows that high levels of CO2 causes plants to grow better with less water. Lowering CO2 causes plants to grow less and they require more water. Cut Co2 and you will starve the world.

      • Herman A. (Alex) Pope

        Sounds like a retread of so many other books, I believe I’ll pass.

        “The research”?

        All of it?

        Every last bit?

        Including the not-yet completed 11 year field studies in Germany?

        Including soil microbial studies?

        Plankton studies?

        Studies on those plants known to do poorly in high CO2 levels?

        CO2 is a hormone-suppressor or hormone-analog in plants.

        The significant plant-growth changes caused by tiny CO2 changes tells us this.

        The affects on plant reproductive and sexual characteristics tells us this, too.

        This CO2 worshipping anti-skeptical attitude is patently absurd, and patently exploitative scaremongering. “Ooh. Oooh. Burn more coal or I’ll starve this puppy!”

        Blatant emotional blackmail, unbacked by proper scholarship.

      • Stirling English

        You’d prefer to resereve judgement until the experimental work has all been done and the true nature of the effects demonstrated in practice, not just in theory/models?

        Good idea. No doubt you will be applying your devotion to experimental verification to other theoretical/model based circumstances that may arise in blogs with the word ‘Climate’ in their title.

        That’s be a first :-)

      • Stirling English

        I prefer to obtain informed consent from those who are subject to an experiment prior to conducting it.

        I prefer to be paid for the use of my resources by people who obtain benefit from that use, most especially if they have obtained my resources — in this case the limited CO2E budget that I have a common share in.

        So, I believe your doubts are misplaced.

        I want my money, and I want to be asked for my permission.

        Reserve judgement? It’s not really my experiment, now is it? Why should people performing it get to do it for free?

        Where’d they get the gaul to think they ought be able to?

      • Stirling English

        Sorry – rather lost track of your point there. You want to ask the plankton about how they feel about carbon dioxide before measuring them? And I haven’t an idea what your CO2E budget is supposed to be about.

        But I gather that your devotion to experimental results is not absolute. Good things if they happen to agree with you, but to be ignored if not and/or you aren’t getting paid?? The climatological methodology in essence.

      • Stirling English

        Ah. Background.

        CO2E Budget: the idea that there are ceilings to the CO2-equivalent level in the atmosphere before some new outcome or threshold is passed. (EG: the level of CO2E at which natural CO2E emissions become a runaway reaction and continue regardless of human emissions. Or the level at which some plants cease to germinate. The level the most powerful cyclones in a region double in frequency.)

        These ceilings are problematic in that we rarely know we’re approaching one, or even if we’ve passed one.

        We don’t know how many there are, or what they are.

        We only know they must exist, and each increase in CO2E levels corresponds to an increased Risk; and that therefore CO2E budget has a limit before we consider it exhausted, and in Capitalist terms is therefore a scarce good.

        The appropriate Capitalist treatement of a scarce good that can be administered* in a marketplace is to set a price, ie Privatize or Internalize the buying decision.

        The CO2E budget is by definition a shared commons. We’re all owners equally and inalienably. (Unless we cease to need to draw breath.)

        So we all have a share of it, and someone’s using it for profit without paying us.

        I simply want to be paid my share.

        I want my money.

        *Administering a price on a CO2E emission is usually referred to as a ‘revenue-neutral’ carbon tax, or a carbon fee or rent where the full revenues collected are delivered per capita to all shareholders, priced at the level of diminishing returns to shareholders: approximately $1,000-$2,000/yr.

      • Bart R,
        You are simply listing cheesy science fiction story lines.
        I thought this is a blog to discuss reality, not B movie SF plots?
        Why don’t you find out if there are indeed any thresholds on CO2 that even exist in your areas on obsession before wasting any more of our time.
        Or, find a screenwriters blog and see if you can sell some those scenarios to Hollywood.

      • Latimer Alder

        @hunter

        Glad that I’m not the only one to wonder whether Bart has been overindulging in the pixie dust or something ‘herbal and flammable’.

        When I was a wee kiddie, my Mum used to scare me with stories about imaginary bogeymen who would come for me if I didn’t eat my greens. But by the time I got to about 5 yo and the bogeymen hadn’t appeared, I started to lose faith in their existence.

        Bart is worrying about imaginary ‘thresholds’ with no actual means of detection. Perhaps they replaced the luminiferous ether when nobody could find that either?

        I prescribe a diet rich in broccoli and spinach for a week or so, then Bart will need to fear no more.

    • Andrew Park – are you out of your mind? It takes two clicks to go to my CV, and to see a large picture of mine covering the screen from left to right. So much for anonymity!!!

    • Andrew Park,
      When I started posting as ‘hunter’ some ten years ago, I was using a pseudonym for very specific reasons.
      Lately it has been a habit if not tradition.
      I have always been ready to explain to any host or hostess that asked as to why I post pseudonymously. They have all agreed it was justified. Now I find myself wondering if I should drop the pseudonym, but I also find a new set of challenges/risks as to using my name.
      Should I use my name if it gets me, for example, fired for posting against company position? I have had good business clients stop their dealings due to me being a skeptic. If only that grant from the Koch foundation would come through…….not.

  7. He sounds like a heck of a science fiction writer. Someone should tell him about the heat death of the universe. Maybe we should get working on a “Dyson Sphere” now!

  8. steven mosher

    time to discuss adaptive governance JC?

    • Boy that just sounds fishy to me.

      I have little issue with adapting methods to ensure Mission Continuity, like securing our inalienable rights, but the way most progressives see government in their ‘Living Constitution’ is that adapting the Mission is necessary which I have great issue with.

      So yeah, let’s discuss. I see JC bring up uncertainty and complexity a great deal. Let’s see just how complicated this really is or whether complexity and uncertainty are being built in to enhance the ‘necessity’ of Central Planning.

      • Euphemisms like “adaptive governance” always raise a red flag to me too. Such terms are usually an attempt to repackage progressive ideas/policies that have been previously rejected. Taking the term at face value, governance that is not adaptive would be doomed to failure. Like “climate change” and “social justice,”, it is not terribly meaningful in and of itself. So the question becomes, what does it mean as a term of art?

        “First, the concept explicitly recommends the common interest as the goal of policy, a goal implied by authentic collaboration and supported by national legislation. The common interest includes conservation, environmentalism, sustainable communities, and any other interests that may be valid in a particular context.”
        http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dvgLBrz1n8kC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=adaptive+governance+definition&ots=FJysSDYGqC&sig=kLft8mbXTa_NLtdwa5IMKrBXr_c#v=onepage&q=adaptive%20governance%20definition&f=false

        “the common interest … supported by national legislation…sustainable communities, and any other interests….” Nothing new here.

        What apparently began as attempts to reform government’s poor management of the nation’s forests and other natural resources (under the prior euphemism of “scientific management”), is now going to be argued as a means to effecting further government planning of the energy economy? Central planning by any other name….

        And if there is any doubt that the concept envisages central planning:

        “Third, the concept explicitly includes the diffusion and adaptation of successful innovations. Diffusion and adaptation are necessary to magnify the significance of successful innovations by community-based initiatives. Isolated innovations are not sufficient for significant reforms nationwide.”

        Translation, we will claim communities will be allowed the freedom to innovate under adaptive governance to sell the program. But the reality is that our goal is centralized imposition of whatever “innovation” we deem appropriate. Nothing new there either.

        “Adaptive governance” appears to be just another in a long list of euphemisms for central planning.

      • steven mosher
      • The book I cited above is from the same author, Ronald Brunner, written five years earlier, and contains the passages I quoted (the site includes only extended excerpts, but enough to understand the author’s concept).

        In the preface of the earlier book I cited, he makes this critique of the prior policy of scientific management: “There is no single, central authority to decide the important issues.” Then by contrast, he claims that adaptive governance is superior because “Isolated local innovations are not sufficient for significant reforms nationwide.”

        Nor does the first book limit the concept to natural resource management. Also from the preface: “Finally, for practitioners and academics whose interests in policy and governance go beyond natural resources, this book offers an application of the policy sciences, the oldest distinctive tradition within the broader policy movement.”

        Toward the end of the book, in the section of the book titled Toward Adaptive Governance, the author notes that David Obey advocated for this policy while in Congress. Obey is a lifelong Democrat who served over 40 years in the House, was chairman of House Appropriations Committee, and was one of the most liberal Democrats in Congress (which is saying a lot).

        From another article discussing the concept:

        “We consider adaptive governance has a role akin to the concept of market failure within economics, establishing an idealised reference point for examining the dynamics of institutional change.”

        Click to access Hatfield-Dodds.Steve.pdf

        “Market failure” is a progressive term, an excuse to allow the government to assume authority to decide market issues because the “market” has supposedly been unable to do so.

        Adaptive governance is just centralized planning which allows for initial input, and maybe some experimentation, from local sources. But the ultimate authority is centralized (hence the term “governance”). This may be fine for the National Park Service (which controls government owned land), but it would be a disaster for the private energy or “climate” sectors.

  9. John Carpenter

    “to abandon magical thinking and to recognise the contradictions we confront.”

    This statement, as JC points out, is in fact the heart of the issue.

    Let’s face it… as much as many of us don’t agree with Monbiot wrt how we view our environmental problems… we have to give him credit for finally realizing the contradictory problems most greens neglect to recognize.

    So much of the green movement would become more palatable if they would re-frame their concerns about the environment from negative “all man’s fault” and “atomising, planet-wrecking project” visions of mankind to more positive viewpoints such as advancing practical solutions to improve energy efficiencies or allowing technological advances to evolve naturally, in response to genuine environmental concerns. This would get more people rowing in the same direction.

    Forcing solutions down the throats of free people will not get you very far… and it appears he knows this… as there appears to be a big “communication problem” about global climate change with the general public. Few people in the world wake up thinking about how to further destroy where we live, rather they think about what it will take to get them to the next day… to survive. If we start forcing debilitating energy changes on the masses to cure “the problem” instead of thinking about how we can maintain and grow energy demands for the future, we will see a pushback the likes we have never seen before. The western world has lived with a low cost energy economy for too long and we will not be giving it up easily.

    We have close to 7 Billion people on the planet and growing… we will need more energy, not less. We will need to keep making things, growing food and using resources. The flip side to not keeping everyone busy is pretty ugly… Monbiot realizes this. Nature will take care of itself in the long run all on her own… survival of the fittest. You want to be in the fittest camp, don’t you? There is no magical solution anymore.

    • John Kannarr

      “The western world has lived with a low cost energy economy for too long and we will not be giving it up easily.”

      I say that the world needs to keep living with an ever-more-low-cost energy economy, forever. Those who suggest reducing our energy usage are anti-man, whether they realize it or not. The main problem in the world today (after the lack of sufficient freedom) is that for too many people, there is insufficient access to cheap, inexhaustible energy.

      For those who say we need to worry more about protecting the environment, only people who are free, comfortable, and well-off are in a position to care about the general environment. You don’t find environmental radicals among those struggling to live hand-to-mouth. And as energy becomes less expensive and more readily available, people will have more surplus wealth and personal energy to spend on worrying about the environment, and the time to appreciate it.

      • John Carpenter

        “You don’t find environmental radicals among those struggling to live hand-to-mouth”

        This is a the point. The developed world is in a position to afford environmental radicals while the developing world is busy trying to survive. Within the environmental radical group, do you know what the age demographic is? I have not looked for such information, but GIYF and I’m sure it’s out there…. I have my guess. I would guess the age of most environmental radicals to be between 20 and 40… This is a time in ones life where there are still “magical solutions” to problems… if we just yell loud enough, it will be fixed. The idea of how and with what ramifications is considered a hinderance to advancing the movement. Simply put, radicals don’t think their proposed solutions through to completion….. This essay by Monbiot is one of the first that shows a little more maturity in thinking the problem down the road further. Either that, or he is aging enough (learning) what most of his elders already know.

      • “The main problem in the world today (after the lack of sufficient freedom) is that for too many people, there is insufficient access to cheap, inexhaustible energy.”

        The old-fashioned definition of “energy” is “the capacity to do work”. I suspect that in large part the anxiety of the greens stems from a great fear on their part of what sorts of work the profit seekers of the world would do with all that cheap, inexhaustible energy if they ever got their hands on it. The greens appear to believe that profit seeking necessarily implies planet wrecking.

  10. “All of us in the environment movement, in other words – whether we propose accommodation, radical downsizing or collapse – are lost.”

    Poor guy, if he was this depressed this before the Canadian elections, what will he do after November 2012, have a psychotic break?

    I love this part:

    “There’s a still bigger problem here: even if we make provision for some manufacturing but, like Fairlie, envisage a massive downsizing and a return to a land-based economy, how do we take people with us?”

    Well, Pol Pot gave it the old college try.

    “Return to a land based economy” – I can’t wait to see Monbiot, Gore, Hansen, Pachauri and Thomas Friedman toiling behind their plows….

    Stalin and Mao killed millions of their own people, in part to force the industrialization of their societies. Now the same statist lust for power takes the form of the forced decarboniztion (read de-industrialization), of not just national economies, but the world economy. And once again, the effects on actual people are not even an afterthought.

    The real message of the effete Western (primarily Causcasian) left to Africa, China and Latin America – we’ve got ours, so everybody has to stop now.

  11. Eric Anderson

    Wow, if Monbiot is accurately describing the proposed “fixes” and thinking of the environmental movement, then the environmental movement is a lot loonier than I ever thought. It is hard to take any of the alleged problems or solutions [to the non-problems] seriously.

    JC “abandoning magical thinking and recognizing contradictions would be a really good place for the environmental movement to start.” Well said.

  12. This is a fairly serious blow to the green movement, at least in the UK. The greens typically focus on next steps, not end states. Kyoto for example. Monbiot is forcing the issue. Watching this play out should be fun. We should mine the green lit for impossibilities. They are our strongest defense, dwarfing scientific skepticism.

  13. The environmentalists seem to miss the most obvious way to convince people that they have reasonable solutions. Just build a community and live the way you preach. Show us how nice it is instead of telling us. Make sure to put it in an appropriate place like northern Minnesota. Be your own guinea pigs instead of insisting the rest of us join in the experiment. Just make sure you take warm blankets and candles with in case the windmills and solar panels don’t work as well as advertised. Unless those are items you have decided we don’t need to manufacture.

  14. There is a paragraph in the early part of Monbiot’s essay that also deserves scrutiny.

    “You think you’re discussing technologies, and you quickly discover that you’re discussing belief systems. The battle among environmentalists over how or whether our future energy is supplied is a cipher for something much bigger: who we are, who we want to be, how we want society to evolve. Beside these concerns, technical matters – parts per million, costs per megawatt hour, cancers per sievert – carry little weight. We choose our technology – or absence of technology – according to a set of deep beliefs: beliefs that in some cases remain unexamined.”

    I repeat the first sentence for emphasis:

    “You think you’re discussing technologies, and you quickly discover that you’re discussing belief systems.” This is exactly what many of us think that large pockets of climate science has become, a belief system that Popper would not recognize as science.

  15. Gary M, how appropriate that the NYTimes ran an article yesterday (5/3) extolling the benefits of returning to the use of oxen rather than tractors for use in the fields.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/04/dining/04oxen.html?_r=1&ref=dining

    • RayG –
      I seriously doubt that the NYT reporter has ever – or would ever voluntarily – walk behind those oxen. :-)

      In any case, that’s the kind of solution that won’t work on a mass basis. Oxen can feed a family and provide a little extra for income, but they cannot be used to provide the sheer volume of food that’s required to feed even a small modern city. All those city dwellers had best pray that the oil keeps flowing because if it doesn’t, then their food supply will also stop flowing.

      • “You still have to walk nine miles for every planted acre.” Missing from the article is the price Eddie Albert charges for his “vegetables grown exclusively with horsepower.” I’m betting he doesn’t compete with WalMart to provide plentiful, affordable food to millions of inner city poor and middle income families.

      • (And for those of you under 50, or not American, Eddie Albert is an actor who played a citified lawyer who moves himself and his spoiled wife from Manhattan to a farm on the American TV series Green Acres.)

      • Didn’t watch much of that, but I don’t remember ever seeing him on the south end of a north-bound ox team either. :-)

      • Jim

        Actually I think the opening credits had him riding a tractor, but don’t tell anybody, it spoils the joke. I should never have explained it. D’oh!

      • Gary –
        I probably didn’t watch enough of it to catch that :-)

        And I watch even less TV now.

  16. Won’t the ox farts create a lot of methane? :P

    • Genetically engineer the internal organisms to produce hydrogen sulphide instead of methane. Australians are in fact progressing well on this. Geo-engineering one burp at a time.

  17. China’s situation raises interesting questions. China has long maintained a draconian one child per couple policy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy) in the interests of maintaining population stability. China however also finds itself facing significant adverse consequences of the policy one of which is the so-called “four-two-one” problem in which a shrinking demographic base of young people has to maintain an aging population. The Chinese are certainly looking at the possibility of reversing their stance – interestingly,

    China however ranks only 80th in terms of world population density well behind Germany (56th) but considerably ahead of the USA (179th).

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_density

    Moreover, some argue that population growth and prosperity goes together. I think we’d all accept that Germany is far more prosperous than China (though how much Chinese growth has been retarded by years of central planning and a command economy is another question). Germany’s environment I would hazard to guess is far better mainlined than that of China.

    See: http://www.pop.org/content/global-monitor-indias-prosperity-is-a-good-1514

    Singapore, which at one point encouraged small families and has one of the smallest family sizes in the world, now struggles to maintain its demographics through migration.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Singapore#Fertility_rate

    So prosperity (and with this the capacity and will to maintain environmental standards) linked with continued growth may be integral to our ability to adapt to whatever conditions we face in a future climate.

  18. Monbiot and fellow travellers are irrelevant – it is just moral posturing while the real decision makers get on with the job of supplying electricity.

    A British government advisor was talking on morning radio recently. He was asked if industry there were supporting a carbon tax. ‘Well yes – he replied.’ The European trading scheme doesn’t put a high enough price on carbon to subsidise nuclear energy sources. They need an additional tax to increase the cost of energy to pay for nuclear plants because they are running out of North Sea gas. North Sea gas was the main reason that they can meet the Kyoto target. I imagine it would be somewhat of an embarrassment to return to coal.

  19. We use only a tiny tiny percentage of the sun’s available energy to support human life. These people lost in dreams of the race’s doom simply have deficient imaginations.
    ===============

  20. Doubtless, abandoning magical thinking is a prerequisite to moving forward. However, Monbiot hasn’t made that transition. To wit, this little zinger:

    In east Africa, for example, I’ve seen how, when supplies of paraffin or kerosene are disrupted, people don’t give up cooking; they cut down more trees. History shows us that wherever large-scale collapse has occurred, psychopaths take over. This is hardly conducive to the rational use of natural assets.

    Continuing to cook is “psychopathic”? Giving up cooking is a “rational use of natural assets”?

    History is replete with examples of failures predicated on changing human nature.

  21. Monbiot’s premise is that for any reasonable level of energy consumption there are no good alternatives to fossil fuels. When it comes to wind, solar and biofuels I agree with him. But what about nuclear? Not conventional PWR reactor technology but Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) technology.

    LFTR reactors are passively safe…Fukushima could never happen with an LFTR reactor. LFTR reactors produce less than 1% of the waste that conventional Light Water Reactors produce and it is much less toxic. LFTR reactors can “burn” the waste from conventional reactors, eliminating the current waste problem. The reactor design and fuel are proliferation resistant. And finally, they are estimated to be 30%-50% less expensive than current technology.

    Known thorium reserves could supply all of the world’s electrical needs for many centuries. Since LFTR reactors operate at very high temperatures excess heat can be used to generate “process hydrogen” or dimethyl ether as a replacement for diesel.

    LFTR technology is proven. A number of LFTR designs were actually built and tested back in the 1960s and 1970s but because the reactors could not be used to breed plutonium for bombs the research was abandoned.

  22. batheswithwhales

    It seems Monbiot is toning down the climate rhetoric and shifting over to sparse resources, “surface destruction” etc. It could be useful to keep this in mind. We might be seeing the start of a shift of positions here as more of the greens realize that the war on climate is lost.

    Of course for many greens the climate issue was never really about climate at all, but about defeating Sauron himself: the free market economy.

    So one battle lost, they gather their forces for another assault.

  23. David L. Hagen

    His critically important comment is recognizing:

    Last week something astonishing happened: Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, revealed that peak oil has already happened. “We think that the crude oil production has already peaked, in 2006.”

    IEA oil crunch warning: governments should have worked on it 10 years ago
    In 2005, Robert Hirsch’s report to DOE warned that even a wartime footing starting 20 years before the peak would barely maintain existing fuel usage.
    See Transcript
    Now we are 25 years late.

    • Vast oceans of Shale Gas will save the smarter countries. Cheap, plentiful and clean. Already the US Plastics industry is planning a massive expansion and return from overseas thanks to cheap feedstock. The US Steel industry is rejoicing at all the pipe it is selling domestically.

      It costs 1 billion and 2 years to build a 1000MW natural gas power station.
      It costs 3 billion and 3 years to build a 1000MW coal powered station.
      It costs 6 billion and 10 years to build a 1000MW nuclear power plant.

      Shale Gas is a wonder except for those countries still listening to the green moonbats.

      • David L. Hagen

        Bruce
        Now focus on the logistics needed to transition.

        How long will it take to convert >> 50% of all cars to gas?
        Vehicle fleet turnover is of the order of 17 years.

        What will it take to provide compressed natural gas outlets in at least 20% of all service stations?

        See the Pickens Plan.

        Converting trucks to compressed natural gas and providing compressed natural gas distribution at every 4 hours drive on major e/w highways is a start.
        Read on the challenges we have to overcome and get to it.

      • It costs 6 billion and 10 years to build a 1000MW nuclear power plant.

        The timeline is really based on what you include as the ‘starting point’.

        US NRC licensing procedures were modularized in 2005 into 3 parts.

        Design License.
        Site License.
        Combined Operating License.

        A site license takes about 2 years and you don’t have to be committed to build anything in order to obtain one. More then a few utilities are pursuing ‘site licenses’.

        Design Licenses are obtained by the manufacturer. At the moment the AP1000 is in the final states of a US design license. Design licenses take 5 years to obtain.

        Actual build time from first concrete to operation is still on the 42 month schedule for the AP1000’s being built in China.

        The first AP1000’s built in the US will indeed have taken 10 years from initial license application to completion. Subsequent builds will probably take about 6 years.

      • I’m guessing 10 years is optimistic. China is NOT the USA. Everything will take 2-3 times as long.

        “According to John Rowe, the chief executive of Exelon, whose utility company runs 17 nuclear plants along with an assortment of solar, wind and hydro facilities throughout the U.S., here’s how the numbers stack up.

        “Natural gas is cheaper and cleaner than any or all of the alternatives I know,” said Rowe”

        http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/Nuclear+troubles+benefit+industry/4660111/story.html

      • David L. Hagen

        Existential requirements focus effort. During WWII,

        “Aircraft production went from a few thousand in 1941 (total of combat and support aircraft) to more than 96,000 in 1944 (peak production year).”

        See: The American Aircraft Factory in World War II By Bill Yenne


        Myth vs. Reality: The Question of Mass Production in WWII

        John Paxton Economics & Business Journal:
        Inquiries & Perspectives 91 Volume 1 Number 1 October 2008
        “In 1939, the U. S. Army had ” . . . an air force of 1,700 largely obsolescent aircraft and a mere twenty thousand men.” (Overy, 1995, p. 190)” Compare WWII Aircraft Production: 229,554

      • Too late. Billions have been squandered, and will continue to be squandered buying wind turbines from China.

        The political class makes too much money off of “green” policies.

    • David L. Hagen

      The presentations for the 9th Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) international conference are now online.
      http://www.aspo9.be/presentations

      Kjell Aleklett reports that in 2002, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil was established. It projected a peak of about 85 million bbl/day by about 2010. That projection was very close.
      The IEA 2002 had projected 88.8 mb/d in 2010. WEO p 92.

      See: The ASPO Perspective on Fossil Fuels, Prof. Dr. Kjell Aleklett, Professor at Uppsala Universit Sweden and President of ASPO, Presentation

      Click to access ASPO9_Wed_27_April_Aleklett.pdf


      Video

  24. This seems to be another attempt to divert attention away from the fact that the unholy alliance of world leaders with Mr. Al Gore, the UN’s IPCC, and leaders of the Western scientific community promoted a false AGW scare,

    And ignored the violently, unstable Sun that heats the Earth, completely engulfs our planet and sustains our very lives:

    See: “The Sun: Living with the Stormy Star”, by Curt Suplee in the National Geographic Magazine (July 2004)

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0407/feature1/index.html

    See: “WeatherAction” and the long range weather and climate predictions of astrophysicist Piers Corbyn.

    http://www.weatheraction.com/

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  25. Dan Griswold (Not the Cato fellow)

    Modern society, with its current population, is impossible using only sustainable resources. That is while the Paul Erlich’s of the world have been crying doom for so long. Green magical thinking has already caused food shortages because our U.S. government subsidizes turning food (corn) into fuel.

    At least Monbiot is talking publicly about his absurd viewpoint. Maybe people will begin to realize what nihilistic loons Greens are.

  26. It seems to me an absurdity to believe that one can somehow have world-level-managed central planning on energy provision and a free market in world population. According to the most recent World Bank report, the population continues to grow. About half the world population lives in poverty and one-quarter of the population lives in extreme poverty. Why would one want to leave this promised land, forsooth?

  27. Boy — is he going to be out of favour with his friends!!!!!

  28. Monbiot: “trashing an ever greater proportion of the world’s surface” to extract minerals/oil. Mining is a major part of the Australian economy, and for years after I came here in 1979, I was bombarded with media and other attacks on its destruction of the environment. Then I discovered two things: (1) the total land area taken up for mining in this continent-sized country was less than the area taken up by hotels; (2) the local miners were world leaders in site restoration, in restoring the landscape post-extraction. Not much land trashing there, George.

  29. It is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves.


    Now observe that in all the propaganda of the ecologists—amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for “harmony with nature”—there is no discussion of man’s needs and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the ecologists envision—i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears . . . .

    In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire. It is not merely symbolic that fire was the property of the gods which Prometheus brought to man. The ecologists are the new vultures swarming to extinguish that fire.


    http://bit.ly/lC2hOf

  30. In my recent travels in Victoria AU, I read Tyne newspapers. This mornings The Age an article on decreasing solar instillation subsidies by July 2011 because of their inflationary influence. As utilities are required to purchase solar at 5 times base rate and sell back to consumers, the cost of electricity for homes, small businesses, manufacturers is costing substantially more and is an inflationary pressure already impacting the Victoria Government proposed budget and a call by the recently ousted Labour Party for increase in wages to cover the new increases in energy costs. Once wages are pegged to cost of living because of a jump in energy cost, one then has to deal with a spiraling inflation economic structure. Such an inflationary situation does lead to economic and social destruction. There are historic and current examples, 1920 Germany, Zimbabwe today. Starvation and death, the rise of radical solution demagogues. In the short term, nuclear energy is the obvious choice for CO2 mitigation and abundant electrical power. Coal and gas are the available alternatives. Artificial pricing of high cost alternative energy is inflationary with all the evils that result. The answers are staring us in our collective faces. The Greens blindness is at their social peril as economics will drive the energy dialogue, and, ultimately, energy choises.

  31. The problem with all “greens’ and George Monbiot is a classic example, is that they all see commerce and indiustry through the lens of the infamous poetic line – “The dark Satanic Mills…” To them commerce and industry spell oppression, abuse and exploitation. My biggest problem with Monbiot and his fellow travellers is that they cannot see that even to maintain the status quo, we have to have growth – after all the handouts they consider the “right” of the unemployable classes they patronise and draw support from can only come from tax and the growing tax bill can only be fueled by groath.

    A nice conundrum for the idiot classes…

  32. Mark Lynas (author – 6 degrees and the Maldives Climate change advisor – he was in the room with Obama at Copenhagen!) writes about he and George Moonbiot get called cHernobyl Death Deniars’ in a Guradian piece.

    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/04/time-for-the-green-party-and-guardian-ditch-nuclear-quackery/

    “Yesterday I was an environmentalist. Today, according to tweets from prominent greens, and an op-ed response piece in the Guardian, I’m a “Chernobyl death denier”. My crime has been to stick to the peer-reviewed consensus scientific reports on the health impacts of the Chernobyl disaster, rather than – as is apparently necessary to remain politically correct as a ‘green’ – cleaving instead to self-published reports from pseudo scientists who have spent a lifetime hyping the purported dangers of radiation”

    Mark Lynas is right at the heart of the CAGW establishment in the UK, yet even he is being attacked (his words) by ‘prominent greens’

  33. “JC comment: abandoning magical thinking and recognizing contradictions would be a really good place for the environmental movement to start.”

    When some “abandon magic” and “recognize the scope of the problem they face”, history shows they often turn to a more violent path. If “too many people” is recognized as the “problem” expect the Greens to get real “reasonable” and mean.

  34. What I don’t think any of you understand is that George Monbiot is a pragmatist and provocateur. He has a science degree and so is not completely in the dark, although he would be first to admit that he is an author not a scientist. He writes to incite debate about green issues and he’s big enough to change his opinion in light of compelling evidence (i.e. nuclear). How many of you on this blog can say the same about that, not many I venture.

    George also is willing to dish it out to environmentalists as well as the general public. I think he is actually a very reasonable man with a big public persona, the very fact that you are debating his ideas is evidence that he has an impact. George and many other greens try to look at the environmental problem holistically, i.e. not through just one lens that is climate change. This includes pressures on biodiversity, water, resources constraints, social justice, pollution, and yes, climate change. When you mix the above criteria you quickly realise that treating them as separate issues is ludicrous, self defeating and that they must be considered together in the framing of sustainability. When you do this you have to make difficult decisions about prioritisation of resources at which point you immediately come into strife with people who only look at these issues through one lens.

    • John Carpenter

      Sam,

      I think most people who contribute to this blog do not look at issues solely through the “climate change” lens. On the contrary, most posters here understand far more about the complex workings of the world than you are giving credit to. Give credit to JC for bringing a wide variety of “climate” related topics to the floor for discussion. But still… it is a climate related blog so I’m not sure what else you are expecting.

  35. The contradiction in the environmental movement:

    Unlike animals, man can only survive by changing his ENVIRONMENT.

  36. Keith Battye

    It is interesting how often the proposal that we would all be better off if we were more miserable gets put about. It’s always for our own good and invariably even better for our children. This is presumably built around the concept that what improves our lives will reduce the quality of life for some successive generations who we assume will then make their lives more brutish short and miserable for their offspring and so on and so forth into infinity.

    My understanding of our world, the one we actually live in , is that each generation builds on what has come before and so improves it’s quality of life. Why the greens wish for us to abandon what has been an obviously advantageous process is beyond me. We are now 6 billion or so and with very few exceptions our lives, and our world, are better than that of our ancestors which is probably why there are so many more of us.

    Certainly there are maladaptions in our history and there will be more to come but the use of cheap and ubiquitous energy is certainly not one of them. Furthermore I would say that the energy we have discovered and harnessed will better take us into the future than will returning to some badly remembered halcyon past of pastoral living which virtually everybody today has either escaped or strives strenuously to do so.

    The whole AGW philosophy is simply anti-human.

  37. Michael Larkin

    I think back a few years to before the time I was really interested in the AGW issue – in fact more or less accepted it, thinking it to be scientific fact (without feeling too much concern about it specifically).

    Trying to retrospectively articulate my thoughts and feelings at the time, I think it’s fair to say that I had this vague sense of concern and maybe even fear, to which AGW was actually peripheral. I mean, the world population was (still is) increasing, most if not all nations were (still are) pushing for economic growth and consumption, resources were (still are) not infinite, warring was not (still isn’t) ended, and so on.

    We human beings are afflicted (and blessed) with the ability to imagine the future. Different attitudes to the darker imaginings are possible. We can, a la Judith’s observation, fall into magical thinking and believe that because we can imagine them, they are concrete and real. Or, we can prefer not to think about them, and believe they will never happen, or that if they do, we or those we care about won’t be affected. And of course, something similar applies to the lighter imaginings: we can invest them with reality, or hardly dare to think they would actually materialise.

    So one might conclude that the solution is not to imagine anything about the future, but simply to follow the NT maxim: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”.

    Take things a day at a time; respond to exigencies as and when they arise. That does not exclude the possibility of anticipating possible events, in the sense of preparation for occurrences that are known to happen (e.g. thunderstorms). This is something that happens in the present. We are in a moving present where we do accumulate a certain capacity not so much exclusively to predict, but to prepare in case.

    Of course, if we are magical thinkers, then “occurrences that are known to happen” may include things that actually aren’t KNOWN to happen, but have been leant an ersatz reality. Given enough people, especially influential ones, who accept that reality, then of course, for all practical intents and purposes, it IS reality. Put more succinctly, as an old boss of mine was fond of saying: “Perception IS reality”.

    Most greens aren’t completely nuts, nor are they involved in some kind of world conspiracy. The world they perceive, like the one non-greens perceive, is partially based on actual reality, and partially on perceived reality. We all suffer from this, and we do so because it is not possible for any single one of us to know all of reality that is currently knowable, let alone all of reality that can ever be knowable.

    And for whatever reason, we need to think that we know what is real and what is not real. Many of us can’t bear to live in a fuzzy world about which, for the most part, we know nothing, even though that is probably the truth of the matter.

    I said earlier that “one might conclude that the solution is not to imagine anything about the future”. I’m not sure that such a conclusion is warranted. If we didn’t have the capacity to imagine, to try to build for the future, then one wonders whether we would ever have made any progress as a species. We always live in the present and imagine a future towards which to strive. We always make enormous blunders which, over the long run, we learn from.

    This seems to be how we evolve, and I can’t see that that’s going to change in the near future (though it might in the very long run, I suppose). So it seems to me that we have to accept our human frailties and muddle along as we have always done. In the end, we’ll either get where we have the potential to go, or we won’t. But I for one will assert that it will be impossible if we give up the capacity to imagine and the concomitant tendency to create, through magical thinking, bogus realities.

    In this view, magical thinking isn’t so much something mankind is culpable of, or that we should be ashamed of. It’s an inevitability that’s part and parcel of our nature. By establishing and eventually demolishing false realities, we move closer and closer to the only actual reality there is.

    It’s magical thinking to imagine that it’s possible any time real soon to dispense with magical thinking.

  38. A PLANT, AN ANIMAL & MAN


    A plant must feed itself in order to live; the sunlight, the water, the chemicals it needs are the values its nature has set it to pursue; its life is the standard of value directing its actions. But a plant has no choice of action; there are alternatives in the conditions it encounters, but there is no alternative in its function: it acts automatically to further its life, it cannot act for its own destruction.

    An animal is equipped for sustaining its life; its senses provide what is good for it or evil. It has no power to extend its knowledge or to evade it. In conditions where its knowledge proves inadequate, it dies. But so long as it lives, it acts on its knowledge, with automatic safety and no power of choice, it is unable to ignore with automatic safety and no power of choice, it is unable to ignore its own good, unable to decide to choose the evil and act as its own destroyer.

    Man has no automatic code of survival. His particular distinction from all other living species is the necessity to act in the face of alternatives by means of volitional choice. He has no automatic knowledge of what is good for him or evil, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires. Are you prattling about an instinct of self-preservation? An instinct of self-preservation is precisely what man does not possess. An ‘instinct’ is an unerring and automatic form of knowledge. A desire is not an instinct. A desire to live does not give you the knowledge required for living. And even man’s desire to live is not automatic: your secret evil today is that that is the desire you do not hold. Your fear of death is not a love of life and will not give you the knowledge needed to keep it. Man must obtain his knowledge and choose his actions by a process of thinking, which nature will not force him to perform. Man has the power to act as his own destroyer–and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.

    A living entity that regarded its means of survival as evil, would not survive. A plant that struggled to mangle its roots, a bird that fought to break its wings would not remain for long in the existence they affronted. But the history of man has been a struggled to deny and to destroy his mind.

    Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice–and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man–by choice; he has to hold his life as a value–by choice; he has to learn to sustain it–by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues–by choice.

    A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.

    AYN RAND

    • Michael Larkin

      Girma,

      A beautiful piece of prose, with a certain amount of truth. I was wondering as I went along who might have wrote it: perhaps something of Emerson’s that I had missed? But towards the end I thought I espied the faint tinge of anger and blame.

      A lack of objectivity and detachment can mar even the most beautiful prose.

  39. Monbiot has a follow on article “The green problem: how do we fight without losing what we are fighting for?”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/may/05/green-problem-environmentalism

    This article might be even better than the preceding one, a taste:

    “The enmity arises when people go into denial. Denial is everywhere. Those opposing windfarms find it convenient to deny that climate change is happening, or that turbines produce much electricity. Those promoting windfarms downplay the landscape impacts. Nuclear enthusiasts ignore the impacts of uranium mining. Opponents of nuclear power dismiss the solid science on the impacts of radiation and embrace wildly-inflated junk numbers instead. Primitivists decry all manufacturing industry, but fail to explain how their medicines and spectacles, scythes and billhooks will be produced. Localists rely on technologies – such as microwind and high-latitude solar power – that cannot deliver. Technocratic greens refuse to see that if economic growth is not addressed, a series of escalating catastrophes is inevitable. Romantic greens insist that the problem can be solved without even engaging in these dilemmas, yet fail to explain how else it can be done.

    We’re all responding to the same impulses, but we’re all being tripped up by denial. Denial, and a failure to see the whole picture, are our enemies. Or perhaps, as doctors say about alcohol, our false friends.”

    • Has it finally occurred to him that life can be nasty, brutish, and short?
      ===========

    • Michael Larkin

      Poor old Monbiot. Such struggles with his own conscience and comprehension. I still have hopes he will get there in the end: to a position of agnosticism, with detachment from the need for particular realities to be real rather than bogus.

    • Judith –
      I agree that the second article may be as good or better than the first. I can’t imagine what brand of Koolaid he’s drinking, but if he stays with it and doesn’t get lynched by his own people, he could actually do some good wrt easing the tension of the debate. But I won’t count on it yet. He had this same kind of epiphany after the Climategate emails were released – but it faded quickly.

      This paragraph, in particular, will be tough sell for him or anyone else.

      Those who, on the other hand, advocate a return to a land-based economy and the abandonment of industrial society find themselves in conflict with the desires of most of humanity, in both rich and poor nations. They have produced no convincing account of how people could be persuaded to turn their backs on manufactured products, advanced infrastructure and public services.

      The “back to the land” movement has roots that precede the advent of climate change. And on an individual (or family) basis, it’s been successful for a lot of people in the US. In other countries too many people are still trying to get away from the land and the “stigma” of being a “peon”. That is a large part of the root of our “immigration” problem on our southern border.

      But on a “mass” basis, “back to the land” is simply unworkable. There are too many people and too little arable land. It’s a movement that, if forced, would truly “wreck the planet” as Monbiot has said about industrialization.

      Overall, I’m wondering what happened to him, what clicked in his mind or his life to trigger thoughts and concepts that are anathema to most greens. We may never know.

      • I’m wondering what happened to him, what clicked in his mind

        The German decision to close 7 nuclear plants(temporarily..possibly permanently) without any reasonable plan to replace that generating capacity other then to burn more coal.

        There are German ‘green’ groups fighting transmission towers to bring off shore wind power to Southern Germany, fighting against coal and fighting against nuclear.

        The only ‘acceptable’ source of power in Germany at the moment appears to be rooftop solar panels and wood chips for heat.

      • That’s a lot of dead trees.

      • More tree’s then in all of Europe.

        That’s why there is a new global wood chip exchange(bio energy tab) ;)
        http://www.foex.fi/

      • Which said dead trees will leaves lots of space for power lines.
        lol, what fools they AGW believers are.

      • John Carpenter

        “I’m wondering what happened to him, what clicked in his mind or his life to trigger thoughts and concepts that are anathema to most greens. We may never know.”

        True, we may never know. I think he is finally taking some the green arcane ideas further down the road to see where they lead and finding they really don’t lead to a better place. Something most posters at this site do regularly and why most are so skeptical about the green movement.

    • Uranium mining? Has this guy got any sense of anything?

  40. …continued

    Whatever dangers environmentalists claim to find, their answer is always to denounce progress and to search for “nature-friendly” alternatives. If acid rain is supposedly destroying our lakes, they direct us not to neutralize it easily with some alkaline—but to shut down the factories. If topsoil is supposedly being eroded, they direct us not to invent methods of more efficient farming—but to stop harvesting the crops. If there is too much traffic, they direct us not to build better highways—but to stop making cars. Whatever the alleged problem, their incessant “solution” is: de-industrialize.

    Environmentalists do not want to promote human happiness, or even the “happiness” of other species. Those who are callously indifferent to the millions of people who die annually because DDT has been banned will not be moved to moral outrage at the “injustice” of spotted owl losing its nest. What environmentalists desire is not the welfare of the non-human—but the misery of man.

    There is only one practical way of fighting environmentalism: by morally defending man. What needs to be upheld, proudly and unequivocally, is the principle that there is no value in nature apart from that which is of value to man, which means: there is no “environment”—other than the environment of man.

    The men who live by that premise—the men who make civilization and progress possible—are choking on the philosophic pollution of environmentalism. They need to be freed from the suffocating clutches of the worshippers of a virgin earth. They need to breathe air—the liberating air of industrialization. They need be left free to produce—to continue creating the magnificent abundance that has lifted humanity out of the caves and jungles of the pre-industrial era. And who are the individuals? Everyone who understands, and glories in, the fact that man lives by reshaping nature to serve his values.

    • Absolutely brilliant, Girma. I’d like to quote it elsewhere with your permission.

      • I am not the original writer. I had it in my collections of beautiful writings. I will post a reference.

    • David Bailey

      That is a very good point – the answer is always to de-industrialise!

      I wish the environmental movement would get back to the things that really matter – nuclear weapons, destruction of the rain forests and other habitats, etc. These are things that don’t need dodgy statistics to tell us they are dangerous!

  41. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, you say:

    … abandoning magical thinking and recognizing contradictions would be a really good place for the environmental movement to start.

    Moonbat, on the other hand, thinks that economic collapse will save us all, viz:

    The problem we face is not that we have too little fossil fuel, but too much. As oil declines, economies will switch to tar sands, shale gas and coal; as accessible coal declines, they’ll switch to ultra-deep reserves (using underground gasification to exploit them) and methane clathrates. The same probably applies to almost all minerals: we will find them, but exploiting them will mean trashing an ever greater proportion of the world’s surface.

    Right … that oil exploration, it has trashed such a large portion of the earth’s surface all right. The amount of the earth’s surface trashed by the evil exploitation of oil must be up to, oh, maybe 0.0001% by now …

    Now, it’s great that you have declared yourself to be against “magical thinking”, Judith. My suggestion is that you apply that excellent mantra to:

    1. Moonbat. Anyone who plans to save the world through economic collapse is heavily into magic. Or mentally disturbed, but I’m going with the former.

    2. CO2. The change in forcing from a doubling of CO2 is less than a 1% change in total forcing. The idea that a 1% change in a complex natural system will throw the system totally out of balance is “magical thinking” at its finest, and one that I would love to see you (or anyone) defend with examples. This one involves what I call “kid magic”. This is the kind of magic where we imagine ourselves to be much more powerful than we are, we are the “sorcerer’s apprentice” and we’re able to control things that we can barely understand.

    3. Renewables. It would take a very heavy dose of magic for them to take over any amount of the requirements for just industrial power, much less total power requirements.

    4. Climate mathematics. You see, you just substitute what you want, and the answer magically comes out the way you want it. (There is a subsidiary magic here, which causes problems in the mathematicians’ spines when it comes to objecting to this kind of nonsense … but I digress).

    5. Climate models. Somehow, despite being unable to model the climate at annual or multi-decadal timescales, they magically can predict the climate at hundred-year scales … I see these as the modern version of “sympathetic magic”, where the power lies in the resemblance or similarity of the object to reality. If the model results look enough like the climate, it is just as magically effective (through “sympathy” or similarity) as sticking pins in a doll that looks kinda like your enemy … magical thought at its finest.

    6. Mitigation of CO2. No one has ever shown that a) mitigation is practical or b) mitigation is cost-effective or c) mitigation will work. Experiments such as Kyoto have been a total failure. Despite that, mitigation is being pushed, and pushed hard, as a “solution” to your imaginary problem … and that is a point of view so heavily imbued with wishful and magical thinking as to not come close to passing the laugh test.

    7. Fixing bad science through communication. This is what I call “modern magic”, where everything that is wrong is assumed to be a failure of communication. Believing that we can fix bad science through communication is magical ideation of the highest order.

    And you claim to be agains “magical thinking”?

    Because if you actually acted against that kind of magical thinking, Judith, you might be more credible. As it is, though, you believe in and espouse enough magical claims to give Chris Angel a headache or to make Teller speak out loud … and that’s heavy magic indeed.

    w.

    • Willis,
      This is easily one of your best posts ever.
      Perhaps you would consider expanding these points further?

  42. Keith Battye

    Well said Willis.

    I too grow weary of this mysticism . Not wanting to cause offense by confrontation is strangling everybody and this AGW nonsense has gone far enough.

  43. JC: You have done us all a service with this survey of Monbiot. I have read some of his stuff but digging it all out would have been incredibly tedious for me. Magical thinking is the right word.

  44. JC,

    Thanks for this post. Ignoring for a moment Monbiot’s enviro/climate views, his essay is striking because he conceeds that the existing
    Green vision of economics is a complete and utter failure.

    I’m most impressed by his recognition that eliminating fossil fuels actually hastens the disaster it seeks to prevent: when people are denied adequate supplies of fossil fuels, they cut down and burn trees. In doing so, he recognizes a higher truth: fossil fuels, and the wealth they have generated, have acted not to destroy the environment, but to preserve it. Indeed, the worldwide research infrastructure that is focused on environment and ecology is the direct result of the fossil fuel economy.

  45. Paul Haynes writes ““The more CO2 we have, up to say 1500 ppmv, the better”

    this is one of the reason why Monbiot calls skeptics deniers. This sentence is clearly absurd (and a gift to Monbiot’s supporters).”

    Why is this sentence clearly absurd? Satellite data shows that since the amount of CO2 in the atmopshere has increased, the world has got greener. The size of the stomata on the leaves of plants get smaller the more CO2 there is around, meaning more crops can be grown with less water. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere does nothing but good, since it has an absolutely minimal effect on climate; any effect on climate is so small that it can almost certainly never be measured.

    So adding CO2 tp the atmosphere is beneficial. However, there must be a limit above which adding more CO2 ceases to be beneficial. I am certain this does not occur at 1500 ppmv. Hence that is why I arbitrarily selected this value.

  46. If you want to make progress, you need a few things:
    People, ideas, knowhow, materials, and energy. How there can be such a thing as too much of any of these escapes me, unless the point is to regress, not progress.

    • Harold –
      How there can be such a thing as too much of any of these escapes me, unless the point is to regress, not progress.

      For some of them, that is exactly the point – to regress.

  47. The next big crisis – lack of empathy:

    http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre7442q6-us-evil/

  48. Willis Eschenbach

    What I like about the Moonbat is that occasionally he is the only one of the radical greens who is willing to state the obvious.

    What I don’t like is this:

    Those opposing windfarms find it convenient to deny that climate change is happening …

    and

    … problems like climate change.

    and

    Why the sudden surge in climate change denial?

    and

    Climate change denial is spreading like a contagious disease.

    and

    … could it be that the rapid growth of climate change denial over the past two years is actually a response to the hardening of scientific evidence?

    Now, I know of no one who denies that the climate changes. Not one person. You talk about a consensus, there’s a real consensus for you. Everyone agrees, climate changes. If it stopped we’d be in huge trouble.

    Now, Monbiot is a very intelligent fellow. He writes carefully and for effect. His choice of, and constant repetition of, the two terms “climate change” and “denier” is quite deliberate. It is also quite manipulative. It appeals to peoples emotions rather than their logical abilities.

    Names are hugely important in this world. Both Monbiot and the magazine he works for are spinning the issue as though it were that people deny that the climate is changing. I know, that’s not the content of their text. But that is the content of their names. Which, as a conscious ploy on their part, I find to be absurdly bad and heavily slanted journalism.

    More importantly, it shows that Monbiot is not above using names that he knows are misleading to support his point.

    With that out of the way, his second essay is not a bad overview of the current tragic state of the environmental movement. The movement signed on to the CO2 hype, and is now widely mistrusted as a result. Again, however, he wants to say that it is a communications problem. His essay concludes with the following thoughts:

    But here too there is a problem. Green narratives have collapsed precisely because they were unable to withstand the steely quantification demanded by an attempt to get to grips with problems like climate change.

    Man, that is the most poetic way to say “Green narratives were based on bogus science” that I’ve read yet. “Steely quantification”??? It’s called measurement and math, and it is an integral part of science.

    Or they have been struck down by circumstance: such as the inconvenient non-appearance of the commodities crunch they predicted.

    Oh, I see. The issue is not that their repeated doomcasts have proven to be false. They were just “struck down by circumstance” …

    If a new poetic narrative is no better able to answer questions such as how a steady-state economy can be achieved, how low-carbon electricity will be produced, how the common fisheries policy can be reformed or how, in a land-based economy, bricks and glass will be made, it too will collapse. In fact, it will never get off the ground as these questions, once formulated, won’t go away.

    Now that, I wholly agree with. This is what makes Monbiot so frustrating, the gems in amidst the “climate change denier” babble.

    Perhaps we are less tolerant of myth than we used to be. Perhaps we should be. Is creating new, opposing myths the best way of confronting the founding myths of neoliberal capitalism? I don’t think so. Is it not better to fight them with withering analysis, quantification and exposure? But can we do this without becoming insensible to beauty, and to the impulse – a love for the world and its people, its places and its living creatures – which turned us green in the first place? I don’t know. I do know that it’s a discussion in which we have to engage.

    As a man who is a scientist, a musician, a businessman, and someone with an abiding love for this astounding world and all it contains, I see no contradiction at all. Math and music are sisters under the skin.

    The environmental movement used to be for something, it was for responsible development.

    Now it is against development in any shape or form. It idealizes the man/woman with the shovel. I did that too when I was young, I grew up on a cattle ranch. One day when I was in my early 20s, I was living out that dream. I was shoveling beds in a garden in a commune in New Mexico.

    Suddenly, for some reason I had a vision of the chain that it had taken to get me that stupid shovel. Not something complex, a shovel, the simplest of tools. It involved on the one hand the mining and processing and transportation and refining and hot-rolling and stamping and shaping and finishing and polishing the blade. At each step a number of specialized powerful and precise machines were involved. On the other hand, the same chain led from the felling of the tree through the turning of the handle on a lathe. Then the parts were assembled and transported to the wholesaler, who shipped them to the retailer, where I bought the shovel.

    At that moment, I gave up my long-held “agrarian” ideal once and for all. It couldn’t withstand that crushing blow of the underlying reality of “a man and a shovel”. There was nothing agrarian about it at all, it involved dozens of specialized machines and people working in mines and factories and offices and stores around the world.

    So for me, there’s two kinds of environmentalists—those who have noticed the above, and those who someday will notice it. (I know there’s a third kind, those who will never notice the above. Despite that I remain an optimist, and I will not hinder anyone with my assumptions. That leaves two kinds.)

    My best to all,

    w.

    • I’m going to take issue with this:

      The environmental movement used to be for something, it was for responsible development.

      Before the environmental movement in the 1960s, aka the ecology movement, there was the conservation movement that dated back to Teddy Roosevelt. What you’re describing is TR’s conservation movement.

      The environmental movement was something else, entirely. It was a mix of primitive romanticism, junk science (Silent Spring, and Paul Ehrlich’s preposterous predictions), misanthropy, with a touch of religious fervor, and a dollop of anticapitalism, when the cold war was in full roar.

      The USSR is gone, but nothing else has changed. They’re still the same anticapitalist peddlers of junk science and primitive romanticism that they were in the ’60s. They still live in a “Lord of the Rings” world, where everybody is happy, happy, happy running around killing each other with spears and arrows.

      That sore of thing was popular in Germany in the 1930s. Karl Jung (Swiss, and didn’t think of himself as German) said the Germans were “drunk on wild god”. Moonbat’s crowd is drunk on wild god. They thing Woodstock is still going on. Time to put the hooch down.

      • FWIW, I think there was a mix, at least on the level of getting hands dirty and doing something other than screeching. The local dam had a fish ladder put in when it was rebuilt in the 70s – that took some arm twisting, but it was realistic and reasonable. Local developers were also talked into doing land donations with the town and non-profits. Done right, you wind up with essentially public lands, and it makes sense to the donor due to various benefits.

        There has also been a long history of individuals buying up large, beautiful tracts of land and eventually donating them to the state. A lot of people want to put other people’s money where their mouth is, instead of their own money. Talk is cheap, symbolic acts are merely symbolic, and rhetoric is excellent if you’re solving rhetorical problems. The biggest change is that a lot of reasonable things used to get done, but now I see people holding out for unreasonable things. And winmills weren’t built near Martha’s Vineyard because the people there aren’t environmentalists – they want wind mills all over, except for where they’ll see them. They’re great as long as they’re somebody else’s eyesore. The beginnings of environmental racism from the PC crowd.

      • ChE, well put.

  49. Tom Kennedy

    Poor George – He can’t help it – he was born with a green foot in his mouth.

    He has just discovered that he’s been a leader and member of a “cargo cult” composed of pseudo scientists, journalists, a ragtag band of leftists.

    Castles made of sand – wash into the sea eventually!

    With apologies to Anne Richards, Dr. Feynman, and Jimmy Hendrix.

    • “With apologies to Anne Richards”

      Looks like George has his ox in a ditch…

      • Reality can be cruel for optimists. George’s Utopia still requires someone to sacrifice their buttocks for the cause. I guess I should apologize to Voltaire.

  50. “It is not technically difficult to do this [nuclear waste disposal], with vitrification, encasement and deep burial, but governments keep delaying their decisions as a result of public opposition.

    Both these issues (as well as concerns about proliferation and security) could be addressed through the replacement of conventional nuclear power with thorium or integral fast reactors but, partly as a result of public resistance to atomic energy, neither technology has yet been developed.”

    Public opposition? Public resistance? And who precisely was it that created the anti-nuclear hysteria? Who developed the use of regulatory inspired litigation to stop every nuclear project? Who used “community organizing” to protest the building of plants and prevent the storage of nuclear waste anywhere in the US?

    The greens/progressives did everything they could to kill nuclear power, and now are going to bemoan the ignorance of that poor dumb “public,” who were the objects of decades of their anti-nuke propaganda? Next they’ll wonder why the “public” restricted the use of DDT to fight malaria.

    Talk about being in denial.

  51. I just posted this comment on another thread, but it seems more apropos here:

    RealClimate has reviewed a new book by Haydn and Washington that attributes denialism (which might or might not include skepticism depending on how it’s defined) to people who haven’t evolved beyond the autonomic reptilian brain stem and have little or no higher brain intellectual capabilities. Since it’s then genetic are we no longer accountable? And since we haven’t evolved, does this add support to Roy Spencer’s thesis?

    Sorry if I’m over doing it.

  52. I said this elsewhere, but it is clear a movement is entering dangerous waters when the only conclusion its leadership can come up with is that those who disagree with them are subhuman.
    AGW is well into those dangerous waters.
    This book is the philosophical support for “Time’s Up!”, the planning book for global eco-terror and destruction endorsed by Hansen.

  53. Paul Haynes seems to have disappeared. Let me see if I can shame him into reappearing. Judith Curry has created a wonderful blog here. While she believes in the science behind CAGW, she is also adamant that there needs to be honest discussion between the two sides of the debate. On this blog, both sides discuss the issues frankly and fully, and, with a minor hiatus, this discussion is polite, no ad hominem attacks, and thoroughly scientific.

    However, IMHO, the preponderance of science is on the side of the skeptics/deniers. That is why, although the owner of the blog is a supporter of CAGW, the majority of posters are skeptics/deniers. So to some extent, Paul is in a hostile environment.

    He claims part of my post is “clearly absurd”. I have asked him why he makes this claim. I have had no reply. My guess is that Paul believes the propaganda of the proponents of CAGW, without seriously looking at the science which is supposed to support it. One can get away with this sort of statement on RealClimate, but, I hope, not on Climate Etc. Here we believe that such statements need to be supported by real science.

    So, Paul, let me ask again. Why is my claim “clearly absurd”? What is the science behind your position?

    As a final note, I am serious about trying to persuade Dr. Curry to join us skeptics/deniers. I believe in the end she will see that there is no proper science to support CAGW, and will come and join our “tribe”. (I hate that word in this connection).

  54. Bad Andrew

    “I believe in the end she will see that there is no proper science to support CAGW, and will come and join our “tribe”.

    Jim,

    I am also hopeful that warmers will someday let go of advocating for their particular illusion, but I don’t think it will be because of a new and honest assessment of climate science. I think Dr. Curry is already aware that the science is flawed.

    She may change teams when she realizes that the world doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) regulated by global governmental policies. But that’s a horse of a different color.

    Andrew

  55. Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

    Flow chart of fear mongering, tax, & funding of IPCC:

    http://bit.ly/lzc7lR

  56. It is a pleasure to read Monbiot. His environmentalism is something else.

    When heatwaves strike, climate scientists and environmentalists tend towards caution, explaining that though such events may be consistent with predictions they cannot be used as proof that climate change is taking place: only the long-running global trend is a reliable guide. If anyone is foolish enough to present a heatwave as clear evidence of manmade climate change, the deniers jump all over them. The same critics then use every snow flurry or frozen puddle as evidence of the collapse of global warming theory.

    http://bit.ly/kd6r8a

    • Girma –
      The same critics then use every snow flurry or frozen puddle as evidence of the collapse of global warming theory.

      It’s true that some (a very few) skeptics do that. It’s also true that most refrain from that obvious a canard.

      It’s also true that one cold winter does not make an ice age. But – it’s also true that 4 cold winters in a row do not support any kind of a warming theory.

      Also, for me at least, the last 6 summers have been cooler than normal. But then I spent them in places like Alaska, Alberta, Newfoundland, the Rockies (both US and Canadian), the California desert and the High Sierras.

      OTOH, each year the temps were 10 to 20 degF cooler than normal for the place I was at the time I was there.

      What global warming?

    • Do you remember the Russian heatwave of 2010? We had no end of arm waving and claims of a sign of global warming. When UK readers were told by someone at CRU in 2000 that snowfall would soon become a very rare and exciting event then sceptics are right to point out the failed prediction. The prediction included milder UK winters and we all know what happended in the last 3 winters.

      UK snowfalls 2000 – 2010
      UK snow 2011

      • Latimer Alder

        Jimbo

        You have misunderstood the game. It is very simple:

        If it is unusually cold it is just weather.

        If it is unusually warm it is a sure fire, 100% certain, accept no substitute, the real McCoy genuine article conclusive evidence that not only is global warming occurring here and now but that it is actually a lot worse than predicted and urgent action is even more urgent than we thought.

        Then when it gets cool again, it’s back to being just weather. Until the next warm spell which is of course a sure fire 100% certain….etc etc.

      • Latimer

        Not exactly. If it is unusually cold it’s still often claimed to be because of global warming.

  57. “As a man who is a scientist, a musician, a businessman, and someone with an abiding love for this astounding world and all it contains, I see no contradiction at all. Math and music are sisters under the skin.”

    Alas, you are still alone at this point, my brilliant friend. To bad, that. There is much MORE. I sincerely pray that you discover IT.