How much will it cost to deal with climate change? Not much at all

That’s the headline for my latest piece in Inside Story, along with the short version of my answer. The long answer is that, even with dubious modelling choices and extreme parameter assumptions, Brian Fisher of BAEcon* comes up with estimates of about 2 per cent of GDP, trivial compared to the potential cost.

So, he uses the same presentational trick he’s been using since the first ABARE modelling exercise back in 1996, turning an annual flow into a present value over ten years to make it look bigger.

The truth is that the economic impact of reducing emissions by 45 per cent relative to 2005 levels by 2030 will be so small as to be lost in the noise of statistical revisions and exchange rate effects. By contrast, the costs of doing nothing about climate change are already visible and are only going to get bigger.

Considered in terms of opportunity cost, action to mitigate climate change is a no-brainer, which is why so much intellectual and rhetorical energy has to be used to mount any kind of case against such action.

  • BAEcon is a play on the title of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, precursor of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics (ABARE) where Brian was Director and I was Chief Research Economist in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s now ABARES having absorbed the Bureau of Rural Sciences.

24 thoughts on “How much will it cost to deal with climate change? Not much at all

  1. This not only seems to me to be wildly optomistic, it is a wildly opptomistic outlook. People have to realize that we are either in a PLANETARY EMERGENY or we are BEYOND a Planetary Emergency.
    Building lots and lots of Solar Panels is not going to change anything at this point even if it were to happen really really fast.
    First of all the planet has already warmed up to 1.5°C over what it was in pre industrial times. Denying that this is so is done by moving the point at which industrialization is supposed to have begun. 2°C of global warming is locked in, based on today’s levels of CO2. The total PPM of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere now stands at 500 or more CO2e which includes other greehhouse gases such as methane.
    Humanity has been protected from its stupidity up until now by the ice over the Arctic Ocean and the Ice in Greenland. It takes 30 times more energy to melt a gram (or kilo) of ice than it does to raise that same amount 1°C. The nothern trunda is already thawing out. Even worse it seems that the methane calcate underground in the costal areas of the Arctic has become unstable and is also releasing methane which will occur at ever increasing rates in the future.
    At this point if humanity is going to survive this century it is going to have to quickly start taking out more CO2 from the atmosphere than it puts in to it. We may not even last until 2050 if we do not as the artic ice cap is expected to melt around 2040. Yes it will reform in the winter. But it will be relatively thin. The Arctic Ocean will then be ice free for longer and longer periods each year. If we are really honest withourselves and admit that we are in or even beyond a planetary emergency there are really only two clear choices. The first choice is simple. It is to just keep on doing what we have been doing until we die. Humanity will eventually slide in to complete barbarism before the lights go out for ever.
    Choice number two would be to start demanding realism. What would realism look like.
    1.) The complete standdown of all military forces world wide. Approved military training could continue.
    Approved military training would be limited to calestenics, martial arts training, target practice, listening to TED talks, reading, and debatting. A military unit would only be allowed to move from one place to another while training on foot or with bicycles.
    2.) The complete shutdown of the world economy except for those activities that are crucial in supporiting human life. That would be in order of priority, food production and food distribution,
    3.) The maintence of national electricity grids with the goal of eleminating as much consumer electrical demand as possible to free up some space for the production of solar panels.
    4.) Maintence of Emergency Services (Medical, Fire, Police)
    5.) At this point all housing construction and major housing repairs have to STOP. Minor housing repairs such as throwing a tarp over a leaky roof must get approval from legitimate authorities. People who live in expensive neighborhoods are going to have to accept people with substandard housing in to their homes.
    6.) Food will be rationed.
    7.)Food will be grown with sustainable policies.
    Humanity is already four steps behind climate change. It will not catch up by persuing half assed measures. Those who seek to prevent our destruction will certianly not succeed by seeking to down play the difficulties that humanity faces in successfully adapting to climate change. During the political process that humanity has developed up until now comprimises must often be made to gain enough support to be able to carryout an agreed upon policy. This is a time consuming process. Humanity has run out of time. Moderation is no longer an option. If someone really wants to their grandchildren to have a slim chance of a future they have to demand at a minimum the points that I just outlined.
    In fact it would not seem unreasonable to me for a person to say, NO the anty for getting in to this game is to high and the chance of a successful outcome is to small to take these measures.
    It would also not seem unreasonable to reply to that statement with, what if my estimation of our future chances is overly pessimistic. If we could push back the date of armagedon by 10 or 15 years perhaps some technical mirical will occur in the mean time. But if we do not act responsibly we will never know.
    It would also not seem unreasonable to me to say if only 1/3 of the world’s population dies as a result of the planets environmental collapse the 2/3rds that survive would have been far more responsible for this collapse than the 1/3 that died therefore I wish to condemn those that remain to death. No of course these billions of people in the top 2/3rds are not all equally guilty for the mess that the planet is in. But unless those who are the least guilty are the ones who survive, which is the least likely outcome, I say let everyone die and the maggots trasform them all to a condition of equality and freedom. (freedom? That is an an odd thought.)

  2. A reasonable person should consider something additional pertaining to WHEN the above policies need to be implemented. I have read from sources that I consider credible ( that means that they are credible a footnote is not needed for the reader to judge the credibilty of the source) that if the planet were to suddenly shut down economically there would be an additional quick rise in the tempreture of the planet because all of the………….the……………the…………,, I forget the word exactly, but it is something along the line of sulfates will settle out of the atmosphere. These sulfate particles cause global dimming and are created by the burning of fossil fuels. They help keep the temps of the planet lower than they would be otherwise.
    Now on an even more serious note. As police forces will still need to show up for work under the emergency plan they will need to maintain their firearms proficiency. Yet no new target papers will be allowed to be produced. That requires energy as well as tress. Thererfore, I suggest that all miltary officers over the rank of Major be beheaded. A Fallbeil* would be the prefered method. But if one is not available a sword will do. These heads can then be mounted on spikes and used for target practice by the police, but only with .22 calibre ammunition.
    * A French invented device used extensively during the French Revolution that like almost everything French is difficult for a Saxon-Prussian to spell.

  3. “This not only seems to me to be wildly optomistic, it is a wildly opptomistic outlook. ”

    It amazes me that, despite the best efforts of deniers, renewable energy is becoming economically and politically feasible and desirable. .

    The problem, for some, is that because the future is unknown they don’t believe that the future will be any different to now. History says otherwise and technology has been a key driver. .

  4. Well said john.

    Ross Garnaut said recently in a speech that it is entirely feasible that the cost of solar PV could well be $30 /MWh by 2025. I know it isn’t comparing apples with apples but it is entirely inconsistent with fisher’s assumptions.
    If Garnaut’s hopes comes to fruition than the aluminium industry becomes very competitive again in Australia again.

  5. “If Garnaut’s hopes comes to fruition than the aluminium industry becomes very competitive again in Australia again.”

    The aluminium industry doesn’t pay market prices for electricity, never has, never will. Its electricity has always been heavily subsidised by state governments. If we didn’t have an aluminium industry then state governments would have a lot more money to spend on worthwhile things and there would be such an ample supply of electricity, compared to use, that we’d never have to worry about blackouts again.

  6. I expect avoided deaths and sickness resulting from electricity generation going renewable and ground transport going electric will result in CO2 emission cuts more than paying for themselves. One estimate is there are 3,000 air pollution deaths in Australia each year.

  7. Rog,
    There are 1.2 BILLION vehicles with internal combustion engines on the planet right now. Developing renewable energy is by itself not going to take them off the road. In fact developing renewable energy will, if we leave the economic system unchanged, just result in a temporary reduction in demand for fossil fuels which will result in a temporary drop in price for fossil fuels which will result in the drivers of vehicles with eternal combustion engines using them even more and I imagine that you can imagine where that leads. Where ever it leads, the trip is a one way trip.

    (in addition there are 40,000 aircraft on the planet flying around xillion miles per day. I do not know if that includes drones.)

  8. “I do not know if that includes drones”

    So why don’t you?

    It’s important to have these trivial details to maintain a trivial argument.

  9. Mark Jacobson, in a short summary piece at Cleantechica on the GND:
    ” 10 other independent research groups similarly find that 100% renewable energy systems are low cost without fossil fuels with carbon capture or nuclear power.”
    As JQ says, this is not even close. You don’t even need to look at the climate damage, which is as hard to estimate as it is real. Just add the multi-trillion and uncontroversial health costs of fossil fuels to the roughly nil net GDP cash cost of the transition, and you come out a clear winner. Discount rates won’t change this.

    What is true is that the transition requires a large front-loading of investment; the cash savings from not using fossil fuels only dominate after 10-15 years (see Fraunhofer ISE). I’ve already advertised my blog post trying to get a better handle on this. A plea to readers here: challenge the ambiguous use of “cost”, use “front-loading” or similar instead.

  10. I want to again attack the idea that humanity can make the transition to an environmentally sustainable society and maintain its industrial civilzation while doing so. What is the ercent of world electricity grid energy consumption that is currently generated by renewable sources? Any guesses??
    Well not only does this figure not include transportation energy, it does not include the costs of heating buildings in the winter time. OK there are some buildings that use electricity to for heating purposes. But natural gas, and oil are in my estimation still as vast majority. OK I have not been to Russia or China. It could be in Russia and China that many buildings are still heated with coal, or wood.
    Solar Panels and other forms of renewable energy have to eventually (probably) do all of that work. New nuclear (fission) energy could and should be re evaluated. That might help. If we can develope nuclear Fusion power. I would be tempted to say that there would be no problem that humanity could not solve except for the fact that some day our sun will become a red giant and turn us all to charcoal.

    IIIIIIIIIIIFFFFFFFFF humanity had begun an orderly transition to renewables in 1950 it probably could have made the transition AND maintained something resembeling an industrial economy. But with each passing decade the chances of being able to do both fell. By the turn of the Century being able to do both was clearly not possible. Now 20 years in to the new century it is doubtful that we can save humanity even if we do shut down industrial civilization now. Ten years from now will clearly be beyond any shadow of a doubt that humanity is about to drive over a cliff. If we are going to avoid that scenario that means martial law needs to be imposed by midnight Austrailian time tonight. We can not wait until 2029 to shut down industrial civilizaiton and then expect that if we do so at that point we will have a 1 or 2 percent chance of avioding extinction.

    By 2031 the world might still appear normal to those people living in citiies around the world. Ice melting in Greenland helps cool the oceans for awhile. It will not be obvious to billions of people that humanity has very little time left until industrial agricultural starts breaking down. When that happens then everyone will know that we humanity really did not make a serious effort at all to avoid the outcome that it now has to deal with. The masses will know that the world’s leadership demonstrated far less intellegence than a bird for decades if not more than a century.

    Emphasizing renewable energy with out emphasizing shutting down industrial society is just playing in to the hands (feathers?) of the bird brains. Humanity will not be gettng a head in its race to avoid extinction. It will still be 3 steeps behind if it does not shut down the economy as we know it. I myself will not be happy with just getting a head. I want lots of heads built in to a pyramid.

  11. I am not opposed to not giving 100% in everything that I do. Those people who claim that they always give 100% to everything that they do are not only lying to us they might even be fooling themselves.
    Of course I never tried to run a 4 minute mile because I did not think that I would ever be able to do that. Of course I never applied for law school because I doubted my ability to finish the courses let alone become a good lawyer. But there are no negative consequences for failing to run a four minute mile. There is a plan B for not becoming a lawyer.

    There is no plan B for failure to adopt to climate change. The consequences are of failure are horrific.
    So I am seriously disappointed that humanity’s leaders did not really make a serious effort to get humanity to make serious sacrifices to meet the challenge posed to us by climate change, and other really really serious environmental problems.

    I am also disappointed that even today many potential leaders do not recognize how the positions that they occupy in society can or at least could have been used to change the public narrative about the dangers of climate collapse and how to deal with it. Huge numbers of people are aware of the concept of backwards planning. Huge numbers of people are aware of the concepts of historical progression. To me it looks millions of well educated adults, especially those educated at Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, and all of the other so called top universities failed to properly add one plus one on the most important question that mankind has ever faced.

    Did they not realize how serious the problem was until 2010? Hell if that is the case it means that they were completely incompitent at judging the relevance of facts that they were presented with. If they understood the concept of relevence they would have made serious efforts at understanding the problem. If they would have made even half of a serious effort at understanding the problem they could not have possibly missed the importance of positve feedback loops. Though in terms of human survival they should be called negative feedback loops. I am disappointed with those in the top levels of power for their failure. I am also dissappointed in those in lower levels of power, but with none the less high visability like Noam Chomsky, Warren Mosler, and the staff at NPR (National Public Radio) in the USA.

    The leaders of those critical of the powers that be, from the left side of the political spectrum, should have been demanding the shutdown of industrial civilzation decades ago. Can I describe what should have followed industrial society? No. Can I describe what will follow industrial society. Yes complete silence.

  12. Well I can imagine that someone like Bernie Sanders, or Warren Mosler, might say, hey look if I laid out a program as far out of step from the dominate narrative that society is presented with as Curt Kastens does I would lose all public credibility. It is not possible to yank society in to a new orbit. It is only possible to make incremental improvements.
    Such a reply reminds me of the story of Major Honeycut. When he was told that the US and British Armies were going to invade North Africa rather than Sweden in 1942. He went ballistic. He clearly explained why invanding North Africa rather than Sweden would lenghten the war and result in a massively increased death toll. And that such a strategy seemed to be motivated by a desire to achieve goals that did not have anything at all to do with the defeat of the Nazi war Machine. He was told that such thoughts were beyond his pay grade and if he did not shut up he would be court martialed. He got absolutely no support from his fellow field grade officers let alone any general officers. So he shut up.
    By that time he was the only uncorrupted officer in the military of either the US or UK. If the officer corp of those countries would have actually been proffesionals rather than right wing political hacks the General officers of the US and the UK would not even have dared present such a cockemamy strategy because they would have feared getting immediately lynched by their own field grade officers.
    Those who proclaim the truth to the western world, especially thier militaries are in the same position as Mjaor Honeycut. If you seek an incremental improvement your attempts to make things better will be overwhelmed by the faster moving pace of world developements. If you seek a radical departure from the status quo you will not get supported unless there are uncorrupted people left that are not only willing to proclaim the truth but to act on it. Those who can see the truth are small in number. Those willing to proclaim the truth are fewer than that. Those who have a desire to act on the truth are fewer still. Finally even if one has a desire to act on the truth how is a person supposed to know what actions to take when they have a complete inability to communciate with other like minded people to organize effective resistence. If a person speaks out against the leadership such a person will be identified and Cointelpro strategies will be used if neccessary to subvert any movement that a person might start. On the other hand, if a critic does not speak out how are other critics going to be able to find a potential ally to their cause.
    Ultimately if there are enough members of a society in positions of mid level leadership that have not been corrupted, speaking the radical truth will eventually subvert the mantel legitimacy of corrupt high level leadership.
    Clearly not all radical statements are true. If a radical crusader or jihadist fails to subvert the mantel of legitimacy of the rulers that they oppose the fault may be with the crusader or jihadist. The fault may be with the audiance. They may be unable or unwilling to recognize the truth. Corrupt rulers will have had a long head start in molding the perceptions of their subjects so that they are unable or unwilling to recognize the truth or be unwilling to take any risk to defend it. A first truth that one should recognize is that those who have ruled the western world for generations have not really been leaders at all. They have been superb MANIPULATORS.
    My view is that when we settle for less than what is neccessary we are falling prey to manipulation.
    It would have been nice if humans could have acted much sooner in their reaction to deal with global warming. By thinking that we can now do the job without shutting down the world’s industrial economy
    we are kidding ourselves and falling prey to further manipulation.
    By calling for the shutting down of the world’s economy for a period of hibernation a person is not likely to win any politcal influence. By not calling for the shut down of the world’s politcal economy a person is loading people on the train to Auschwitz.

    Oh piss this comment was paid for by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Is that a conflict of interest that I needed to expose up front??

  13. Smithy,
    two points

    A cost of $30/MWh is the cost of old coal fired power stations in their glory days.

    The other thing people often confuse subsidies with absolute cost barriers. In this instance aluminium producers are large consumers of electricity and hence would get lower prices than you ans I. I do not assert this is what occurred as I do not know.
    Given one of the problems of the State governments owning the assets is they are more than likely to try to attract companies by said alleged subsidies.

    however since the sector is now in private hands subsidies aint going to occur.

  14. If Australia lost a bet and was only allowed to use one more year’s worth of normal fossil fuel consumption it wouldn’t result in the end of industrial civilization here. It would be inconvenient but industrial civilization existed in the past with only as much energy as our current solar, wind, hydro, and biomass capacity provides. We’d be able to boost our solar and wind capacity very rapidly. So expect to do a lot more walking. Expect rationing for a few years. But don’t expect it to be as bad as what people had to put up with at home during World War 2.

  15. nottrampis

    State governments don’t subsidise aluminium smelters’ electricity costs because they want to sell them electricity. They do it because they want the aluminium production in their state. When electricity was privatised (and in some states it has been for over 20 years) the subsidies stayed in place, the only change between it’s a three way deal between the government, the smelter and the private electricity company. The precise details of course are closely kept secrets.

  16. Smithy,
    I think that is what I said concerning state governments.
    Sorry Iam talking about 2025 and solar PV being $30 /MWh. in this case they wil be no subsidies because quite a few coal fired power stations will be no more. thank the Lord

  17. Curt Kastens above,

    “the top 2/3rds are not all equally guilty for the mess” Nature doesn’t do guilt, and Nature bats last.

    Was Near-Term Extinction Unavoidable? https ://

    https ://
    Trump deleted that, but here:
    Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 13421-13449, 2011 Earth’s energy imbalance and implications J. Hansen1,2, M. Sato1,2, P. Kharecha1,2, and K. von Schuckmann3 https ://
    “We conclude that most climate models mix heat too efficiently into the deep ocean and as a result underestimate the negative forcing by human-made aerosols. Aerosol climate forcing today is inferred to be −1.6 ± 0.3 W m−2, implying substantial aerosol indirect climate forcing via cloud changes. Continued failure to quantify the specific origins of this large forcing is untenable, as knowledge of changing aerosol effects is needed to understand future climate change.”

    The roles of aerosol direct and indirect effects in past and future climate change https ://

    Disentangling greenhouse warming and aerosol cooling to reveal Earth’s climate sensitivity https :// atmospheric aerosol loading “caused a cooling that masked approximately one-third of the continental warming due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations over the past half-century.”

    Amplification of Arctic warming by past air pollution reductions in Europe https :// “air quality regulations in the Northern Hemisphere, the ocean and atmospheric circulation, and Arctic climate are inherently linked.”

    http ://
    “One conclusion of the study is that “the overall cooling effect from aerosols could be about twice as strong as current climate models suggest”.
    So what’s the big deal? Human activity modifies the impact of the greenhouse effect by the release of airborne particulate pollutants known as aerosols. These include black-carbon soot, organic carbon, sulphates, nitrates, as well as dust from smoke, manufacturing, wind storms, and other sources. Aerosols have a net cooling effect because they reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground and they increase cloud cover. This is popularly known as “global dimming”, because the overall aerosol impact is to mask some of the warming effect of greenhouse gases.
    Hansen’s new study estimates this aerosol “dimming” at 1.2 degrees (plus or minus 0.2°), much higher than previously figured. Aerosols are washed out of the atmosphere by rain on average every 10 days, so their cooling effect is only maintained because of continuing human pollution, the principal source of which is the burning of fossil fuels, which also cause a rise in carbon dioxide levels and global warming that lasts for many centuries.”

    Reduced shipping SOx emmissions begin next year. Will the trending increase in coal burning, bush, and peat fires offset global brightening IMO2020?
    https ://
    http ://
    https ://

    1950 Homo sapiens sapiens population – 2.5billions; 2050 – 12.5billions.

    Is Global Warming Unstoppable? https ://
    “I’m not an economist, and I am approaching the economy as a physics problem,” Garrett says. “I end up with a global economic growth model different than they have.” Garrett treats civilization like a “heat engine” that “consumes energy and does ‘work’ in the form of economic production, which then spurs it to consume more energy,” he says. “If society consumed no energy, civilization would be worthless,” he adds. “It is only by consuming energy that civilization is able to maintain the activities that give it economic value. This means that if we ever start to run out of energy, then the value of civilization is going to fall and even collapse absent discovery of new energy sources.” Garrett says his study’s key finding “is that accumulated economic production over the course of history has been tied to the rate of energy consumption at a global level through a constant factor.”

    That “constant” is 9.7 (plus or minus 0.3) milliwatts per inflation-adjusted 1990 dollar. So if you look at economic and energy production at any specific time in history, “each inflation-adjusted 1990 dollar would be supported by 9.7 milliwatts of primary energy consumption,” Garrett says.

    Garrett tested his theory and found this constant relationship between energy use and economic production at any given time by using United Nations statistics for global GDP (gross domestic product), U.S. Department of Energy data on global energy consumption during1970-2005, and previous studies that estimated global economic production as long as 2,000 years ago. Then he investigated the implications for carbon dioxide emissions.

    “Economists think you need population and standard of living to estimate productivity,” he says. “In my model, all you need to know is how fast energy consumption is rising. The reason why is because there is this link between the economy and rates of energy consumption, and it’s just a constant factor.”

    Garrett adds: “By finding this constant factor, the problem of [forecasting] global economic growth is dramatically simpler. There is no need to consider population growth and changes in standard of living because they are marching to the tune of the availability of energy supplies.”

    To Garrett, that means the acceleration of carbon dioxide emissions is unlikely to change soon because our energy use today is tied to society’s past economic productivity.

    “Viewed from this perspective, civilization evolves in a spontaneous feedback loop maintained only by energy consumption and incorporation of environmental matter,” Garrett says. It is like a child that “grows by consuming food, and when the child grows, it is able to consume more food, which enables it to grow more.”

    An Inevitable Future for Carbon Dioxide Emissions?

    Garrett says often-discussed strategies for slowing carbon dioxide emissions and global warming include mention increased energy efficiency, reduced population growth and a switch to power sources that don’t emit carbon dioxide, including nuclear, wind and solar energy and underground storage of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning. Another strategy is rarely mentioned: a decreased standard of living, which would occur if energy supplies ran short and the economy collapsed, he adds.

    “Fundamentally, I believe the system is deterministic,” says Garrett. “Changes in population and standard of living are only a function of the current energy efficiency. That leaves only switching to a non-carbon-dioxide-emitting power source as an available option.”

    Does Garrett fear global warming deniers will use his work to justify inaction?

    “No,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s not clear that policy decisions have the capacity to change the future course of civilization.””

    Increased dimming – Populations keep expanding, but not the water supply they need https ://
    Decreased dimming – Saving ourselves with ‘constructive recession’

    @5 & @6
    Clinical Psychology Forum No 317 May 2019 Featured article:

    Becoming hope-free: Parallels between death of individuals and extinction of homo sapiens – Guy R. McPherson
    https ://

    “Abstract: The belief in a positive future, or hope, is not useful when presenting a person with a terminal diagnosis. Wishful thinking is no route to recovery, and it might interfere with the ability of a person to complete relationships during their final days. Hospice is a particularly effective strategy for palliative, end-of-life care. Similarly, hospice is an obvious strategy to address the near-term demise of Homo sapiens.” https ://

  18. Great coak quote, via the invaluable EndCoal blog:
    “Coal is sinking — a toxic investment being propped up not because it has a future but simply so those heavily invested can eke out the last dollar before jumping ship.”

    What is especially sweet is the source – Lene Westgaard-Halle, a spokesperson for Norway’s ruling Conservative Party.

  19. Near Term Human Exctinction was avoidable. In fact it was easily avoidable. It would have been as easy to do as it would have been for the military forces of the US and the UK to cut off the flow of iron ore from Sweden to Germany in WW2. But the priorities of powerful people were fucked up.
    That is why REVENGE is now my top priority.
    In the mean time if the field grade officers of the USA, China, Russia, India, Brazil, and the EU (countries) could unite and stab their generals in the back, figuratively speaking in most cases, and shut down the world economy, and impose shared austerity, they have my blessings. One could easily say that such a scenario is impossible. I say that most field grade officers have children that makes it possible. But the fact that most field grade officers are poorly educated bird brains makes it unlikely.
    In either case I hope that I can somehow contribute to getting US Generals (and Admirals too) burned alive.
    Even if Global Warming was not even an issue, US military leaders deserve to be burned alive for making a mockery of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

    I just thought of a really really cool way that some Australians could burn an American General or Admiral if they could get ahold of one in Australia.
    The Australian members of the New Red Army Faction, (Australian Cohort) could take their prey out in the desert and burn them to death by placing them under a bunch of magnifying glasses.

    Hahahahahahahaha that would really give a new meaning to the phrase a cool death.

    Could one substitute an Australian General for an America one? I can not really say from this far down the ladder of success. The reason why is I recognize that the US leadership may use not only hidden carrots but hidden sticks to force governments allied with the USA such as Germany and Australia to support the policies that the USA dictates to them. On the otherside of the coin any opposition that the leaderships of these allied governments give to US policies could be fake opposition that they take knowing that it will be ineffective just to give the impression that they have soverign independence.

  20. Curt Kastens says May 9, 2019 at 10:58 pm: Near Term Human Exctinction was avoidable. In fact it was easily avoidable. It would have been as easy to do as it would have been for the military forces of the US and the UK to cut off the flow of iron ore from Sweden to Germany in WW2. But the priorities of powerful people were fucked up.

    Kurt Vonnegut (1991) wrote: “We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard, and too damned cheap.” – Fates Worse Than Death, Berkley Books, New York, p.116

    Around 2000 Kurt Vonnegut said we’d missed the bus on apocalyptic climate change. He maintained we always were going to miss this bus, it’s in the nature of humans so situated to always fart around and miss the bus. His unique insight into human nature and notions of why humans miss such a bus occurs throughout his writing. Before he died he wrote some articles specifically dealing with how we had already back then missed this bus.

    Kurt Vonnegut (2005) said: “I always hoped someone would rescue us from our stupidity…” “We have damaged the planet with our drunken binge on petroleum and fossil fuels and it cannot recover…”

    “Here we are trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”

    …Such measures might run counter to existing global trade rules. But they could be justified on efficiency grounds, because avoiding the destruction of the planet is good for everyone. Moreover, this approach would be fair if it resulted in all countries sharing the costs of combating climate change more evenly (all of them would share the benefits of a healthier planet).

    Ideally, such an initiative would also acquire a legal basis through future reforms of World Trade Organization rules. It would be even better if many countries committed to coordinating their tariff policies to help enforce any agreement on further emissions cuts.

  22. It would have cost “not much at all” to prevent climate change. Now, it will cost a lot more to deal with the runaway, near-catastrophic climate change which has already commenced. The year 1980 would have been about the time to start changing. We had ample warning at that time. The basic science on limits to growth and climate change was available; enough to indicate we could not continue blind growth and blind use of fossil fuels. Instead, we adopted intensified neoliberal capitalism, or had it rammed down our throats. Growth was ramped up, opposition booted down and denialism became an industry in its own right.

    Being an atheist, I’m not usually given to Biblical quotes but there is one where the metaphorical has become literal:

    “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” – Hosea 8:7

    We have sown the wind with CO2 and now we are reaping the whirlwinds, hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, firestorms, flood, droughts and famines. However, for those who adapt to it, fighting climate change could become a rigorous and solidarity generating venture. Maybe humanity will learn a lesson out of this and eventually write a new existential wisdom literature. Such a literature would certainly execrate capitalism.

  23. energy use being as wildly disparate as it is, a lot of people would find their lives have not changed very much at all even if all the points raised by JQ were realised.

    i do think just about every-one of us in the high fossil energy system would be amazed at how little the (invisible) majority live on ,on a day to day basis.

    all the talk of how the percentage of people living in poverty has gone down?
    just a con.
    when the actual number has gone up.

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