43 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Tim Macknay


    emissions appear to have stopped growing.

    Is this really what you wanted to say ????

    Those who state this have not digested the Mauna Loa data.

  2. @Ivor
    I have no interest in revisiting this issue with you. The best available data indicate that growth in anthropogenic emissions has stalled over the past 2-3 years. This may in fact be incorrect, but nonetheless it is what the best available data indicate. This is not necessarily inconsistent with the Mauna Loa data showing continued increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, and even a spike in CO2 levels, as the relationship between anthropogenic emissions and CO2 levels as measured is not a simple proportionate one, and there are complicating variables (such as the ENSO cycle, for one). This isn’t my opinion – it’s the opinion of scientific experts in the field. Perhaps you rate your own understanding of the science above Michael Mann’s, but I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t.

  3. @Tim Macknay

    The future damage to humanity is caused by CO2 in the upper atmosphere – Mauna Loa. But for this fact, anthropogenic emissions are otherwise irrelevant.

    In otehr words, if anthropogenic CO2 emissions skyrocketed, but the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere fell, there would be no risk of further global warming.

  4. @Ivor
    You’re now stating the obvious (although I wouldn’t call Mauna Loa the upper atmosphere – the upper troposphere maybe). I can’t tell whether you’ve misunderstood what I said above or whether you’re just being obtuse. But no matter – I already said I have no interest in revisiting the issue with you.

  5. The vague statements that emissions appear to have stopped are not helpful as they are not based on data and are disruptive.

    They also lack context because economic growth projections from the IMF and World Bank have been continuously downgraded and the level of growth leads to a level of CO2 emissions. Degrowth reduces CO2 emissions.

    In fact there is no evidence that global CO2 emissions have, or may have, “stopped growing”.

    All we have is a projection for E(FF) which is not global emissions as this does not include E(LUC). The main source document here http://cdiac.ornl.gov/GCP/ “Global Carbon Budget 2015 Paper”. What other source is there?

    They state, for China “This departure could be temporary” [p358b]

    They state “global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement production will be near or slightly below zero in 2015”

    This is not “global CO2 emissions”.

    The report goes on to state “Our method is imprecise and contains several assumptions that could influence the results beyond the given range, and as such is indicative only.”

    The report uses the phrase “global carbon emissions” at page 375a, but the context and the calculation indicate this relates to E(FF) only. And even here the decline is heavily tied to GDP growth projections with significant uncertainty.

    So please let us have no more of this “emissions appear to have stopped growing” without any evidence and well out of any reasonable context.

  6. A document from the internet page Ivor cites says in the abstract:

    “For 2015, preliminary data indicate that the growth in E(FF) (emissions from fossil fuels) will be near or slightly below zero, with a projection of -0.6%, with a range of -1.6% to +0.5%, based
    on national emissions projections for China and the USA, and projections of gross domestic product corrected for recent changes in the carbon intensity of the global economy for the rest of the world.”

    These estimates are difficult to make and fraught with complexities. Have a look at the paper.


    Of course E(FF) are not the whole story. There are other sources both anthropogenic and not. The behaviours of the various carbon sinks are also complex.

    Tim Macknay says: “I suspect we’d need to see a sustained period of declining global anthropogenic emissions before it shows up in CO2 measurements. A couple of years of stalled emissions growth won’t do it.” This is a supportable statement.

    Ivor emphasises the concern over the continued rise in Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 readings. This too is supportable.

    If one combines both views, the synthesis is that we are not doing enough to curb human emissions and we are not doing it fast enough. So, one wonders why the argument? There are differences in emphases of course but the issue goes deeper. The answer lies in the system itself and attitudes to it. Most people cathected to capitalism and their current way of life feel profoundly threatened when it is suggested to them that the entire economic system is the wrong system for dealing with this problem (and a host of other problems). This really is the issue.

  7. Meanwhile, Erdogan’s purge (after the failed coup attempt) assumes massive proportions. From the BBC;

    “Who is being purged?

    The purge is so extensive that few believe it was not already planned. And there seems little chance that everyone on the list is a Gulenist.

    The sheer numbers are sobering. Some 9,000 people are in custody and many more are out of a job. Although accurate details are difficult to come by, this is the current list:

    7,500 soldiers have been detained, including 118 generals and admirals
    8,000 police have been removed from their posts and 1,000 arrested
    3,000 members of the judiciary, including 1,481 judges, have been suspended
    15,200 education ministry officials have lost their jobs
    21,000 private school teachers have had their licences revoked
    1,577 university deans (faculty heads) have been asked to resign
    1,500 finance ministry staff have been removed
    492 clerics, preachers and religious teachers have been fired
    393 social policy ministry staff have been dismissed
    257 prime minister’s office staff have been removed
    100 intelligence officials have been suspended”

    In total the crackdown exceeds 50,000 people. A three month state of emergency has been declared. Islamic schools and other Sunni Islamic institutions are being supported and bolstered as secular and democratic institutions are torn down.

    In keeping with my consistent position on the M.E., I say this is a matter for the Turkish people. The West (and Russia and China) should simply leave Turkey alone. In analysis, I would say Turkey is clearly in serious trouble and very possibly on a path to becoming another state racked by civil war like Syria. The Kurdish issue makes this situation even more fraught. The worst thing the West can do is interfere or take sides. When we interfere in the M.E. we just makes matters worse.

    Of course, my opinions mean nothing. The progress of events in the M.E. and Turkey will continue to be inside-driven by rising Islamic fundamentalism and outside-driven by the imperatives of the global arms trade and the oil trade. Turkey might survive as a polity. I can’t see it surviving as a successful economy now. Any turn to religious fundamentalism and sectarian strife is a surefire economy wrecker.

  8. I am worried that Conservatives have won and we are now inevitably sliding toward a world of nasty paranoid nation states . The election of Trump would seal the deal. Its easier to wreck than to build things up ,fear breeds fear. During the long period of Western dominance we chose to exploit rather than to inspire others. I refuse to accept the Conservative axiom of selfishness – that this is just human nature playing out. Their prophecy is self fulfilling. We could have done better. Seeing the French peoples open spirit being slowly broken by such a small number of deranged youths is depressing. 1 million Australians marched on the streets begging our government no to open this can of worms.

  9. Tim Macknay’s statement:

    A couple of years of stalled emissions growth won’t do it

    needs explanation.

    The measurements of atmospheric CO2 concentration are extremely sensitive to regular seasonal cycles. You can easily see the impact of each summer and winter in terms of northern hemisphere vegetation growth and winter hibernation.

    This suggests that the atmospheric concentrations are well linked with emissions and the measurement for each year is not the result of any such “couple of years”.

    If the atmospheric concentration was based on the net effect of a “couple of years” it would be much, much smoother.

    So this also appears to be yet another myth being injected. But the underlying reality is that any change in CO2 emissions that is merely the artefact of a recession, is no solution to climate change. It just allows those who want to – to muddy the waters and spread complacency.

    However if it was the result of a deliberate policy of degrowth – things would be different.

  10. @Ivor
    The NSW scheme was always set to expire in 2016. Everyone signing up knew it was a 7 year arrangement. Their once costly systems are now paid off.

  11. @Ikonoclast

    If one combines both views, the synthesis is that we are not doing enough to curb human emissions and we are not doing it fast enough. So, one wonders why the argument? There are differences in emphases of course but the issue goes deeper. The answer lies in the system itself and attitudes to it. Most people cathected to capitalism and their current way of life feel profoundly threatened when it is suggested to them that the entire economic system is the wrong system for dealing with this problem (and a host of other problems). This really is the issue.

    I agree with this up to a point, that is to say that I agree broadly with your “synthesis”, but I don’t agree that “this [i.e. ideology] is really the issue”. “The issue” is that global greenhouse gas emissions are causing potentially dangerous climate change. Obviously, I am not a Marxist, so you can feel free to think of me as “cathected to capitalism” if you like. However, despite that, I don’t think my views about the possibility of addressing global warming are at all based on feeling “threatened” by the idea of socialism.

    I do agree that the “argument”, as you put it, appears to occur in part because of ideological perspectives, but I think your take on it involves a great degree of projection. I’ve previously laid out my reasons for not accepting the claim that global warming cannot be brought under control “under capitalism”, but given that you’ve repeated the claim I feel I should set them out again.

    As I’ve said previously, I can find absolutely no good reason to suppose that a socialist economic system, whatever it looks like, will be somehow better at addressing global warming than the present capitalist one, and nothing put forward by you, Ivor or anyone else to support this claim (to the extent that actual arguments, as opposed to assertions, have been put forward, which is debatable) has been remotely convincing. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there appears to be no real prospect of replacing the present capitalist system with a socialist one within the timeframe necessary to address global warming. Neither you, Ivor or anyone else has put forward a realistic program as to how to replace capitalism in the short to medium term. What happens in the long term is anyone’s guess. Therefore, in my view the claim that addressing global warming can only be achieved under socialism is essentially a distraction. The nature and timing of the problem means that global warming can only be addressed under capitalism, for better or worse, or not at all. If you think that means ‘not at all’ that’s up to you, but I see that as a defeatist perspective.

    As I said before, I don’t think there is any inconsistency with the view that anthropogenic emissions appear to have stopped growing, and the fact that the Mauna Loa data shows atmospheric CO2 is still increasing. I haven’t claimed that emissions have definitely stopped growing, or that we have definitely turned the corner when it comes to fossil fuel emissions. It’s entirely possible that emissions haven’t actually stopped growing, and that the data is inadequate. It’s also possible that emissions have stopped growing, but that this is only temporary, and they will start growing again. Obviously, I hope that they really have stopped growing, and that they will begin to decline, since that is what has to happen if we are to have a hope of addressing global warming. It also seems to me that the view that they have stopped growing is consistent with global trends in energy technology and fossil fuel consumption. However, it is possible too that this trend is only temporary, and that coal and other fossil fuel consumption will grow again in the future. Obviously, I hope that does not happen.

    It’s not always easy to understand exactly what Ivor is trying to say, as he is very obtuse, but it seems to me that he is very strongly invested in the position that anthropogenic emissions cannot have stopped growing except due to an economic downturn. I find this position rather bizarre, but the easiest way for me to make sense of it is that as a Marxist, Ivor is committed to the ideological view that global warming cannot be addressed under capitalism, and finds the idea that emissions have stopped growing in the absence of a recession inconsistent with that view, and therefore unacceptable.

    To me, this explains both the stridency of Ivor’s arguments (e.g. using words like “myth” and impugning my motives), and his insistence that emissions cannot have stopped growing because it would immediately show up in the Mauna Loa records, despite this view not being supported by either the data or the opinions of the scientists doing the research. I confess I find the view odd, as I see no strong reason to suppose that Marxists need to be committed to a particular view on whether or not global warming can be addressed under capitalism. I have wondered whether it is simply an instance of the recent tendency for Marxists to want to shoehorn environmental issues into their own framework.

    So it seems to me that Ivor’s, and to some extent your, views of this issue are coloured by ideology to more of an extent than mine are. If I tend to cling to a particular interpretation, it is because of my desire to see global warming addressed, not because of a defensive attachment to capitalism. But I am well aware that I could be wrong. I see no similar awareness on Ivor’s part. You seem to wax and wane a bit.

  12. @Ikonoclast
    A decade or so ago, I was under the impression that Erdogan was leading the way in showing that Islam was compatible with liberal democracy. Sadly, it seems I was wrong about him.

  13. @Tim Macknay

    All those points are fair enough for you to make and I certainly provoked those points or a restatement of them. We need a sandpit for this and related issues. I’ll wait for a sandpit.

  14. Fran Barlow :

    Given though that they seem keener on the applause (and the policies) of the Conservative elite than those supported by the bulk of the membership of the Labour Party, which is still at least nominally ‘socialist’ one might wonder why the prospect of prolonged Tory rule, even if that were the outcome, would be so baleful. Sure, they’d be better paid were they in charge, and would get better photo-op and selfie-opportunities, but why in their view, would your average working person be measurably worse off? Unless you think there is something fundamentally wrong with the Tory paradigm — and they have been quiet on that at best — why not shrug your shoulders and concede ‘they aren’t that bad’. …

    That your analysis is faulty is not particularly interesting. What is intriguing is that you expose the fact yourself by posing the question that can’t be answered within your framework. It’s unusual for people to approach their own blind spots so closely.

  15. @J-D

    Fran Barlow’s analysis seems fine to me. I say this simply to indicate my general support for Fran’s views on this matter.

  16. Ikonoclast :
    Fran Barlow’s analysis seems fine to me. I say this simply to indicate my general support for Fran’s views on this matter.

    Thank you for performing this important public service of drawing attention to your support.

    I am so utterly flabbergasted by the unprecedented phenomenon of your disagreeing with me that I can’t think what other comment to make.

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