Monday Message Board

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Mastodon here

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.

26 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Stan Grant is not my favourite journalist or presenter, but that’s got nothing to do with his advocacy for Indigenous Australians, something that I wholeheartedly support. The “Colonial ” history of Australia is not just a tale about how the poor, dispossessed, and petty thieves were dumped in some new world, it was and is a tale, a history, of the lazy way the officials tried roll over the prior occupants of this vast continent. I cannot fault Stan Grant for highlighting the terrible injustices the colonials inflicted upon the Aboriginal peoples of this land. I simply don’t understand people who feel this is a reason to empty a bucket of shit on him, or for threats of violence against him and/or his family. It’s a tragedy so many people feel like being such arseholes. I feel solidarity with Stan Grant on this.

  2. The Australian authorities and media are making a big song and dance about 44 flu deaths this year so far. Meanwhile we are experiencing triple that number of COVID-19 deaths every week and hardly anything is ever said about it. Just be clear, I agree we should act to prevent flu deaths *and* with proportionately far greater effort we should act to prevent COVID-19 deaths.

    There is a profound dishonesty in the authorities and media caring and talking about flu deaths and not caring about and then ignoring COVID-19 deaths. There is deep and disturbing agenda behind this disconnect.

  3. Ikonoclast: – “There is a profound dishonesty in the authorities and media caring and talking about flu deaths and not caring about and then ignoring COVID-19 deaths. There is deep and disturbing agenda behind this disconnect.

    I’d suggest there’s a similar disproportionate concern for road deaths:

    * In 2022, there were 1,194 road crash deaths. This is an increase of 5.8 per cent from 2021. Over the decade national fatalities have remained largely flat.

    * Fatality rates per population declined over the decade by a total of 10.4 per cent (from 5.1 to 4.6). The largest reductions in this rate were in New South Wales (down 20.1 per cent) and in South Australia (down 33.5 per cent).

    * Deaths of vulnerable road users (motorcyclist, pedestrian and pedal cyclist) were also largely flat over the decade. Within this group, motorcyclist deaths increased slightly and for pedestrians and pedal cyclists, the trends were both marginal reductions. Vehicle passenger deaths declined the most out of all road user groups (2.5 per cent per annum).

    The BMJ article by Alison Barrett headlined Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in Australia last year, published Apr 13, began with:

    Covid-19 became Australia’s third leading cause of death in 2022, after ischaemic heart disease and dementia, according to an analysis.¹

    There were 20 200 more deaths in 2022 than would have been expected if the pandemic had not happened, with a total excess mortality of 12% for the year, found a review of excess deaths by Australia’s Actuaries Institute’s covid-19 mortality working group.

    “This analysis shows the distressing grip covid-19 had on Australia during 2022. In the space of just one year, the number of deaths significantly increased in our country,” said Elayne Grace, chief executive of the Actuaries Institute.

    Why is there an apparent disproportionate concern for deaths attributed to smaller threats like flu & road trauma and not for substantially larger (and potentially growing) threats like COVID-19, which is at least an order of magnitude worse? Professor Julia Steinberger tweeted a thread on May 19, which included (bold text my emphasis):

    Because here is the thing. Every. Single. Journalist. who was there (and there were many, from major outlets all over Europe and the world) that I spoke to, said “my editor refuses to print any story critical of economic growth.”




    = = = = =

    This is insane verging on criminal and shows the dangerous ideology of economic growth as our secular religion, completely blinding us to the possible economic alternatives that could preserve a liveable planet. But it is the current reality.

    There you have it!

  4. Causes of death only draw concern if dealing with them does not threaten “economic growth” which in turn is code for “elite income growth and elite wealth growth”. What the elites have wrong is that operating like this will accelerate our collapse and they too *will* be affected, sooner or later.

  5. Published today (May 23) at The Conversation is a piece headlined Study finds 2 billion people will struggle to survive in a warming world – and these parts of Australia are most vulnerable. It begins with:

    Two billion people, including many Australians, will find themselves living in dangerously hot places this century if global warming reaches 2.7℃, research released today reveals.

    The authors calculated how many people would be left outside the “human climate niche” by 2100. The niche is defined as places with an average temperature of about 13℃, or about 27℃ in the tropics. Human population has historically peaked in these areas.

    The Conversation piece refers to a Nature Sustainability article by Timothy Lenton et. al., published on 22 May 2023, titled Quantifying the human cost of global warming. It includes Fig. 4: Regions and population densities exposed to unprecedented heat at different levels of global warming. Fig. 4a shows large regions of the world expected to be exposed to unprecedented heat (MAT ≥29 °C) under +2.7 °C global mean warming scenario. Fig. 4b shows regions of the world expected to be exposed to unprecedented heat (MAT ≥29 °C) under +1.5 °C global mean warming scenario.

    It appears from the map that the region between Port Hedland and Broome extending inland, and around Kununarra in Western Australia, could start to become increasingly unlivable at the +1.5 °C global mean warming threshold.

    Fig. 5 shows the country-level exposure to unprecedented heat (MAT ≥29 °C) at +2.7 °C and +1.5 °C global mean warming scenarios in a world of 9.5 billion people (around 2070 under SSP2).

    Berkley Earth lead scientist Dr Robert Rohde tweeted May 18:

    Following a warm March & April, and with a potential strong El Niño looming, the @BerkeleyEarth forecast for 2023 has again shifted up.

    It is now slightly more likely than not that 2023 becomes the warmest year in the instrumental record (56% chance).

    Wikipedia‘s reference for Wet-bulb temperature includes:

    A sustained wet-bulb temperature exceeding 35 °C (95 °F) is likely to be fatal even to fit and healthy people, unclothed in the shade next to a fan; at this temperature human bodies switch from shedding heat to the environment, to gaining heat from it.

    The US National Weather service provides a Heat Index Calculator at:

    35 °C at 100% RH incurs a heat index of 72 C.
    40 °C at 70% RH incurs a heat index of 72 C.
    45 °C at 49% RH incurs a heat index of 72 C.
    50 °C at 33% RH incurs a heat index of 71 C.
    55 °C at 22% RH incurs a heat index of 71 C.


    1. Dr James E Hansen tweeted (@DrJamesEHansen) on May 20:

    Revised draft paper “Global Warming in the Pipeline” available for comments: It includes analysis of the Cenozoic era, providing many insights. Access the draft paper:

    I think it would be foolish to bet that Dr Hansen & colleagues are significantly wrong on this issue.

    2. In question time today (May 23) Zali Steggall MP asked the PM if the government was genuinely committed to climate action. See/hear Zali’s question and the PM’s response at:

    IMO, the PM did not answer Zali’s question.

  7. It seems that Snowy Hydro 2.0 has become a whale of nuclear proportions.

    All this because the govt didn’t want to offend miners by supporting renewables.

    Generally the govt of the day demanded that expenditure had to be “cost effective’” and required that a “business case analysis” be made before approval.

    The govt of the day openly supported and promoted a smaller govt and the outsourcing of public services, relying on the private sector to provide cost effective solutions to public problems.

    However, Snowy Hydro 2.0 clearly illustrates the failure of the govt of the day to comply with their own principles.

  8. The bird has flown
    [Reposted from the Sandpit at JQ’s request. Carbon removal is now officially on the list of “topics discussed on this blog” and no longer merely “Idée fixe of minority of-one reader James”. Aha!]

    Via CleanTechnica, an unassuming photo of a hundred or so people in a room in Basel:

    They are discussing CDR, carbon dioxide removal. Not, perish the thought, CCS, carbon capture and storage; the Bigendians and Littleendians are not on speaking terms. Blog post

    I think it means that greens who oppose carbon removal as a distraction from urgent mitigation, including many in this forum, have lost the argument. The junket was small, but represented an emerging alliance of key stakeholders: policymakers, including a desk officer for CDR at the European Commission; half-a-dozen technology startups, hoping to sell future removals; intermediaries like the organisers Carbonfuture, trying to grow a market in these; scientists; and potential private funders like Swiss Re. Many of them are highly motivated by two beliefs. One, they want to save the world. Two, they hope to make a lot of money doing so. They will not be deterred by being cut out of Greta’s Christmas card list, or swayed by sermons here.

    They are right to think the potential business opportunity from a state-created market is enormous. I tried my luck at guesstimating the bill for getting the world back to a 400 ppm CO2 concentration, where it stood in 2015: sequestering 700 gigatonnes of CO2 at say $50 a tonne, making $35 trillion over say 25 years, or $1.4 trn a year. This is certainly wrong in detail, but it fairly shows the order of magnitude. Future CDR conferences will be much bigger – and a steadily deteriorating climate means that public pressure for decisive action will grow.

    They are also right to think there is now no alternative. Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, puts the knockdown argument for climate repair:
    “‘Net-zero’ alone is insufficient: net-negative emissions will provide foundations for shifting current dangerous GHGs back towards pre-industrial levels that underpinned stable, hospitable climate patterns for millennia.”

    My advice to blanket opponents of CDR is simple. Give up, it’s too late. Hold your fire for the many bad-faith actors trying to use carbon removal as an excuse for fossil BAU, and the hucksters who will try to sell dud sequestration nostrums to a panicking world. King and Lamy are not fools but tough and experienced negotiators. They need support and intelligent criticism, not excommunication as heretics.

    I often comment on blog posts on the climate disaster to the effect “don’t forget about the massive and distinct health damage from air pollution by fossil fuels”. IIRC nobody has ever responded with accusations that I am promoting a dangerous distraction from the urgent need to cut carbon emissions. Why is CDR different?

    If you want to pour cold water on the band of CDR enthusiasts, look in the photo at the ceiling of the venue. It seems to be a disused factory or warehouse, very cheaply refitted as a grunge disco. They are very much not yet into the big money.

    Basel is an interesting city, home to Paracelsus, Nietzsche and the Bank for International Settlements. It houses two interesting small museums, the high-quality Beyerler collection of modern art and Frank Gehry’s head-scratching chair museum (sic) built for upmarket office furniture maker Vitra.

  9. I’d rephrase the Green objection as “still a long way off, and not an excuse for taking it easy on decarbonization”. To put that in terms more comfortable for an economist, it’s likely to cost at least $100/tonne and (assuming, as I do, a low real interest rate), the possibility that it will be workable in 2050 isn’t a good reason for forgoing much cheaper options now (especially remembering, as you note, the non-climate harms of burning carbon).

  10. I don’t think this is conspiracy-centric.

    1. In our current system, the supporters and enactors of neoliberal economic policies still seem to be very much in charge. No matter which major party we elect, we get neoliberal policies. The current electoral system is heavily biased, by its legacy defaults, to the two-party or power duopoly system and both parties follow a neoliberal playbook on economic policy, if not equally so on identitarian policies. There seem to me few hopeful signs that this Federally led stranglehold of neoliberal policy over Australian economic life, and thus over many aspects of daily life, is going to be broken any time soon.

    2. Since Federal Governments, of any persuasion, refuse to cancel neoliberal policies (tax cuts for the wealthy, subsidies for corporations, negative gearing and parsimonious employment, health, welfare and education policies) then a space may be left for the State governments, if they have any courage and brains, to tax and do what the Feds will not. It would be in their state interests to do so, as well as in the interests of 80% of their constituents at least.

    I am referring to increasing land taxes, other property taxes and perhaps even wealth taxes. If the Feds refuse to tax this arena adequately, then the states can tax it and shift revenue to themselves and in effect away from the Feds. All the Feds could do perhaps would be to cut the hypothecated GST distribution and then look very bad for doing so. If they cut the hypothecated GST distribution this ought to lead to pressure to cut the regressive GST itself. This would be a win for the people, perhaps? It seems to me we need feasible and practical anti-neoliberal policy pressure to come from the states. NSW wimped under lobby pressure but Victoria is looking at some of this this now. Can we keep looking at this space with any hope? Or is it neoliberalism from here to doomsday?

  11. JQ: “I’d rephrase the Green objection as “still a long way off, and not an excuse for taking it easy on decarbonization”. I don’t see this truism as a properly formatted objection. What exactly is being objected to? Can you cite anybody of significance in the CDR field, from King and Lamy down, who has argued for “forgoing much cheaper options now”?

    As far as I can make out, the CDR crowd are currently asking for three things: a full press on research: money for proper field trials on a variety of proposed methods; and a seat at the tables where future policies are hammered out.
    – The research is coming along fine. The Oxford Smith survey says that the scientific literature has grown at a 19% CAGR since 1990, and now exceeds 28,000 publications.
    – The essential field trials are just starting and urgently need serious funding. Some of them, for instance in the deep oceans, will be quite pricey. Still, a billion or so a year should do it. For comparison, the US government throws $1.65 bn a year at research for nuclear energy, most of it quite useless. Also for comparison, Bloomberg estimated global 2022 investment in renewables at $495bn, so a couple of billion for CDR R&D is not a significant reallocation.
    Note how the rapid progress in agrivoltaics has depended on the universal agreement among agronomists and farmers that properly conducted field trials are the right way to test new ideas.
    – The claim to mindspace may be the real difficulty. Humans are not good at handling multiple problems simultaneously, and chiefs of staff like von Moltke who can do it well are rare. But is there a real conflict in the present case? The energy transition is basically a solved problem. We have a nearly complete portfolio of technical solutions, and know in some detail how to put them together to get the job done. The remaining difficulties are for politics and engineering. Carbon removal is very far behind, so where is the conflict for attention? It is not the fault of CDR that as an unsolved problem, it is intellectually far more fun than grinding forward to implement a solved one.

    It’s not worth arguing over the unknowable costs of new technologies 20 years from now. Spend a trillion dollars on a few, and they get cheaper fast. JQ’s $100 per tonne removed is representative of current median cost estimates. But the Smith report (Table 1.1) lists seven where the lower end of the range is $50 or less. Let’s find out.

  12. Professor Stefan Rahmstorf tweeted today (May 25) a gif of a colour-gradient temperature map for global mean surface temperature scenarios ranging from +1.5 °C, stepping through +0.3 °C increments, to +4.4 °C.

    It seems to me the revised Hansen et. al. preprint paper Global Warming in the Pipeline doesn’t mince words:

  13. Hansen is a great scientist, and a brave and outspoken one. But he has a poor record on technology, backing nuclear power for instance. Many highly educated people underestimate quite how fast technology transformations can occur once they get going. Economies of scale are the 500-lb gorilla. Spanish electricity was 78% zero-carbon in April.

  14. I skimmed Hansen’s paper. The main point, if I am reading it correctly, is that newer paleo-climate data strongly suggest that sensitivity to CO2 is at the higher end and that adjustment proceeds much more rapidly than the PICC assumes. In other words, even at current levels of CO2 we are in for more warming, more rapidly, than the IPCC projects.

  15. Hands up. Be honest. Who once fell for these boondoggles? CCS? Gas Transition? Carbon Markets? (Markets in rights to generate negative externalities.) Nuclear Renaissance?

    Who is now falling for these boondoggles? Hydrogen power? CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal)? Electric cars for everyone? These are all boondoggles folks. Yes, some will have some niche applications, but they will not save the world from over-population and over-consumption. Until if and when people grasp the nettle of living much more modestly and simply using far less material and energetic resources, we are no chance of stopping or even ameliorating climate change.

    People in our modern system won’t grasp this. They can’t grasp this. By socially-evolved nature, by enculturation, they are programmed to over-consume and not think of consequences. They will keep over-consuming until national, regional and global collapse with runaway disasters. At the cusp of obvious collapse there may be a groundswell of realization and impetus for change. We have to hope at that point something is saveable. For many nations and even regions it is unlikely that much at all will be saveable.

  16. The population has been manipulated to accept runaway climate change and endless epidemic COVID-19. This won’t end well.

  17. Peter T: – “The main point, if I am reading it correctly, is that newer paleo-climate data strongly suggest that sensitivity to CO2 is at the higher end and that adjustment proceeds much more rapidly than the PICC assumes.

    The Hansen et. al. preprint paper Global Warming in the Pipeline relies on real world data, including paleo-historical records. The IPCC’s emphasis has been on climate models and Integrated Assessment Models. The IPCC’s Summary for Policy Makers (SPMs) are documents vetted line-by-line, and where inconvenient vetoed, by member countries where political & economic interests don’t align.

    Here’s a blow-by-blow description of what went on in the formulating of the SPM for the AR6, adopted on Sunday, 19 March 2023.

    James Hansen posted a communication on May 25, titled Equilibrium Warming = Committed Warming?, including:

    Physics is a description of the real world. So, climate science should be focused on data. That’s the way science is supposed to work. However, IPCC is focused on models. Not just global climate models (GCMs), but models that feed the models, e.g., Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) that provide scenarios for future GHG levels. These models are useful and even necessary for analysis of the complex climate system, but sometimes the models contain hocus-pocus. As we mention in our current paper, they can assume, in effect, that “a miracle will occur.” So, the models need to be continually checked against the real world.

    Our research is focused on real world data and comparison with models, with the hope of gaining insights about how the climate system works and where the real world is headed. Fig. 28 (lead figure) shows the annual increase of GHG climate forcing based on real world data (which, BTW, is continually updated and made available by Ed Dlugokencky of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory; Ed is an unsung hero in the climate change story). Specifically, Fig. 28 compares the real-world growth rate of GHG forcing with the RCP2.6 scenario, which is used in IPCC’s AR5 report as a scenario that would limit global warming to about 2°C. Figure 28 shows that an enormous gap has opened between the real world and RCP2.6. The “miracle” in RCP2.6 is largely an assumption of negative emissions via power plants that burn biofuels, capturing and sequestering the CO2. Also beware of nations promising “net zero” emissions without defining what they mean. As discussed in our paper, the present policy approach is not working and it is not likely to work. For example, the cost to close the gap in Fig. 28 via carbon capture and storage is estimated as $3.4-7.0 trillion per year – that’s the annual, growing cost. That miracle is not likely to happen.

    Hansen concludes his latest communication with:

    An El Nino spurred global temperature close to +1.5°C will not provide a valid measure of what the world will be like when the trend-line reaches +1.5°C, but the El Nino spurred peak temperature will provide a first indication of whether there is a new, accelerated trend line. If the 2024 temperature (peak global temperature lags El Nino by several months) falls clearly above the yellow region in Fig. 25, it will tend to confirm the acceleration.

    In other words, we will likely see a clear indication of how close to reality the estimates of accelerated global warming by Hansen & colleagues are in the next 18 months or so.

  18. Recently Jeffrey D Sachs wrote that it was the US that provoked Russia into making war with Ukraine.

    The response to this opinion has been strong and informed, Sachs’ position now looks to be without foundation.

    Stalin created and promoted the anti US policy and Sachs now looks to be one of Stalin’s useful idiots.

  19. Climate change of the Anthropogenic kind was well known in the very early 1980s. By now, we not only know what the possibilities are, we can see for ourselves the actuality from our earlier years of inadequate action. Now, I believe we are confronting the essence of the problem, that being population growth as a lazy way of ensuring a bit more short-term economic growth. Man, it’s so frustrating to see the same issues forty or more years later, still blocked a whiny rump of the Liberal party coalition.

  20. Climate change of the Anthropogenic kind was well known in the very early 1980s. By now, we not only know what the possibilities are, we can see for ourselves the actuality from our earlier years of inadequate action. Now, I believe we are confronting the essence of the problem, that being population growth as a lazy way of ensuring a bit more short-term economic growth. Man, it’s so frustrating to see the same issues forty or more years later, still blocked a whiny rump of the Liberal party coalition.

  21. And as a follow up, I don’t recall ever stating that carbon dioxide extraction from the atmosphere could even work (in the original manner), let alone at the scale required. As soon as you extract the gass from surface atmosphere, the oceans will release their pent up load, the absorption of more than 200 years of emissions. None of which addresses how to deal with methane emissions,, among other matters. Beyond that, the sheer size of humanity is in itself a great problem for dealing with any system change, such as to renewable energy sources.

  22. The US legal system is a thing of great amaze. How the biggest criminals elude the law, thanks to a combination of money and connections. And then there is the case of the main propaganda network versus the defamed. They apparently were relying on any case ending up in the Supreme Court that their own minions had ensured was now favourable to the Libertarian view (not even a purely conservative view). Unfortunately for them, the process of legal discovery unearthed evidence that was not only serious for this case, but for other cases in process now. I just hope that the propaganda factor behind this “media” outlet gets revealed. There is so much circumstantial evidence, it would be great for their own feet to be held to the fire for a change. A ring-in Australian thought he could exploit US citizenship to build a propaganda network. And he was right – he could, and he did. My own country failed to notice the warning signs, for the government in power then quite conveniently chose the advantage of a new channel for presenting only “conservative” views, despite the actually represented views being this entirely toxic Libertarian ideology. Only some of the LNP of the day were unaware of where this was heading. I do not think that John Howard was unaware, for example.

  23. “As soon as you extract the gas from (the) atmosphere, the oceans will release their pent up load, the absorption of more than 200 years of emissions.” – Don.

    Correct. Another point the techno-optimists fail to grasp. What they refuse to face is that we have to reduce up front emissions, quickly. This would entail living more modestly, mostly without automobiles, travel, entertainments and excess discretionary consumption of all kinds.

  24. Ikonoclast: – “What they refuse to face is that we have to reduce up front emissions, quickly.

    … and much more. To avoid likely civilisation collapse before the end of this century, evidence/data I see indicates the following is required:

    1) Deep and rapid decarbonization of civilisation ASAP – no more new fossil fuel developments AND a rapid phase out of utilization of existing fossil fuel infrastructure;

    2) ‘Negative emissions’ or atmospheric carbon drawdown to safely get CO₂ levels back to well below 350 ppm (CO₂-equivalent); and

    3) Maintain arctic summer sea ice cover.

    Leon Simons tweeted on May 26 (including Fig. 25 from the May 19 revised Hansen et. al. preprint paper Global Warming in the Pipeline):

    James Hansen clears up confusion about our draft paper on warming in the pipeline.

    We are not yet committed to 10°C warming, but we are also not committed to make sure that we don’t!

    There are already many signs of accelerating warming, as GHGs increase and aerosols decrease.

    Inside Climate News published on May 26 a piece by Bob Berwyn headlined James Hansen Warns of a Short-Term Climate Shock Bringing 2 Degrees of Warming by 2050. It included:

    Focusing attention on the paper before it’s reviewed is “mainly to start the scientific discussion and get input from the broader scientific community,” Simons added. “Such a broad paper benefits from this, as the reviewers might be more specialized. With Jim [Hansen], there will of course automatically be media attention, but that’s not the goal. People need to know about the acceleration of warming.”

    If the average global temperature warms 2 degrees above pre-industrial times by 2050, it means that temperatures over land will likely increase double that amount, by 4 degrees Celsius, because land surfaces have less heat capacity than the oceans, where some of the heat goes deep down and isn’t immediately expressed as a rise of surface temperature.

    This year’s IPCC 6th Assessment Report shows that level of warming rapidly increases the odds of massive, widespread droughts that could wipe out food production in key global crop areas at the same time, as well as severe water shortages and fierce heat waves that would displace millions of people. The combined physical and social impacts would destabilize some regions and possibly stir up conflicts over food and water supplies.

  25. Earth energy imbalance (EEI) is currently at 928,000 ‘Hiroshima Nukes’ per Day:

    Prof Eliot Jacobson tweeted earlier today (May 29):

    We’re officially on 1.5°C watch. This benchmark is very doubtful in 2023, but 2024 awaits …

    The 1979-2022 mean is included because that’s the total extent of daily global data I have available. …

    That’s a first (temporary) breach of the +1.5 °C global mean temperature threshold possible as early as year-2024, NOT as a long-term average breach.

    And tweeted an hour later:

    Unofficially — so far for the period Jan. 1 – May 27, the year 2023 is running 1.268°C above the 1850-1900 IPCC baseline.

    By comparison, as of May 27, the year 2016 was running 1.297°C above the 1850-1900 IPCC baseline.

    In 2016, El Niño was ending. In 2023, El Niño lies ahead.

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