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Author Topic: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?  (Read 36644 times)

Lewis C

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Introduction to "Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?"

Back in the late 1980s the scientific evidence of the onset of global warming and of the scale and hazard of future climate destabilization was sufficient for Reagan, Thatcher and Gorbachev – the most powerful staunchly pro-industry politicians of their day, to establish the IPCC and UNFCCC as the scientific monitor and the diplomatic forum for the issue’s resolution.

In the ~25 years since then, while the evidence has hardened, the commitment to future damages has multiplied and the threat has risen to an existential level, the only marginally significant action agreed has been the Kyoto protocol, in which developed nations were to make the first cuts before developing nations would be expected to join a second universal emissions control treaty. But even that was promptly gutted by Bush’s refusal to submit the treaty for ratification, thus gratuitously reneging on it rather than just letting the US senate decline to ratify it. While many nations complied with their 2012 commitments under the protocol, these had summed globally to just 5% off 1990 and so had little impact on the rise of airborne GHGs, and could do nothing to offset the international distrust Bush’s action had imposed.

With the ex-Halliburton neo-con Cheney as VP, both he and Bush were former oilmen which meant that their reneging on Kyoto and various later actions to undermine the UNFCCC could be readily explained across a neo-liberal media as protection of the vested interests in fossil fuels - who have indeed profited hugely by the delay of restraint on carbon emissions. Yet the launch of Cheney’s ‘brinkmanship of inaction’ with China, whose response was an immediate flat-out coal fired growth policy, should, by any rational analysis, have been ended with the election of the Democrat president Obama in 2008. Yet it was not ended but was instead escalated, despite the climate threat having by then advanced greatly, with solid evidence of the potential loss of global food security and of the acceleration of feedbacks that would fully offset the effectiveness of global emissions control.

The economist Lord Stern has described the absence of effective action as “the greatest market failure in history” – in effect “a Tragedy of the Markets,” where self-restraint is in no corporation’s interest, but this overlooks the many anomalous acts by both US government and corporations. What is needed is an exploration of the evidence of Cheney’s policy and of it being adopted by Obama, and of just why it still prevails in the preparations for the Paris CoP.

To meet the limit on text-length, that exploration is posted on a 2nd topic below.

Regards,

Lewis
« Last Edit: March 15, 2015, 11:33:15 PM by Lewis C »

Neven

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Lewis, I'm posting that second part here, which I think is better than two different threads.

To be clear, Lewis has written this:

The economist Lord Stern has described the absence of effective action as “the greatest market failure in history” – in effect “a Tragedy of the Markets,” where self-restraint is in no corporation’s interest, but this overlooks the many anomalous acts by both US government and corporations. What is needed is an exploration of the evidence of US policy under Cheney and of it being adopted by Obama, and of just why it still prevails in the preparations for the Paris CoP.

I've tracked several dozen acts of commission and omission by Obama over the last six years, and some of them are simply antithetical to a wish to resolve AGW. On the contrary, they have quite brazenly obstructed the essential global agreement of emissions control to mitigate AGW. At the same time activists' approval has been upheld by a media controversy over his (very limited) renewables support, which few recognize as being largely irrelevant without that global agreement, since decarbonization in the US means that any fossil fuels nationally displaced are simply bought, shipped and burnt elsewhere.

A brief review of Obama's track starts with his focus on the climate issue in the Dec 2008 election, his flagging up of “Healthcare and Climate” as The key issues in his victory speech, and his adamant address to the "Governors' Climate Summit" a few days later, promising strong WH action and every help to states' actions.

Yet by March 2009, there was a reversal. Besides reneging on the US Kyoto commitments (which by a 'best efforts' approach could have earned the US strong kudos globally and encouraged positive responses) he also echoed Cheney in reneging on the US signature of the UNFCCC mandate - by rejecting the legal 1990 baseline and adopting Cheney’s illegitimate 2005 baseline. While these points went over most Americans' heads, they intentionally signalled to all foreign govts that Cheney's policy of a 'Brinkmanship of Inaction' with China would be maintained.

In the same month he had reps of the top 20 green NGOs invited to the WH where they were instructed to stop talking of Global Warming and instead campaign of 'Clean Energy'. McKibben to his credit was one of only two or three who dissented. The closing down of the climate issue had begun. From being one of the two key priorities it was pushed out of sight by “Economy, Health and Immigration” as the 1st term focus, with Obama's use of the word 'climate' falling at times to only one passing mention in two months.

In December 2009 he was manoeuvred to the Copenhagen CoP, after his spokesman had declared with calculated rudeness that "he might attend if he could be sure that all other parties were acting in good faith." There he proceeded to deliver a massive calculated snub to the Chinese premier with maximum publicity, knowing this would mean the premier would have to withdraw due to his own right wing at home. He then demanded a take-it-or-leave-it deal from the substitute that meant each American would have three times the emissions rights of each Chinese in 2050, which predictably crashed the conference. With prepared press briefings steering the media long before Airforce 1 reached the US this again went unseen by most Americans.

During 2010 he played a personal role in the administration's quite blatant sabotage of the Senate climate bill, as was forensically detailed by Ryan Liza in the New Yorker article www.newyorker.com/magazine/201... This closed down any prospect of the swiftest, most economically efficient mode of US decarbonization known as Allocate, Cap & Trade until at least 2017. It also obstructed any discussion at the UNFCCC of this approach as the necessary underpinning of a global carbon price.

At the Cancun CoP in Dec 2010 the rubble of Copenhagen was shaped into a system of "voluntary national pledges" on emissions cuts by 2020, with the EU pledging 20% off the legal 1990 baseline and the US pledging 17% off Cheney's 2005 baseline - which is 0.7% off 1990. By this point it was clear that the WH was running a dual messaging system - one to Americans and one to everyone else and their govts, and that the corporate media were complicit.

A singularly callous message was next sent to us foreigners when Obama outdid Cheney's gratuitous raising to 30% the part of the corn crop banned from export for the null excuse of ethanol-output - by raising that to 40%. This came on top of historically low world grain reserves and the resulting spike in world food prices as all grain prices were drawn higher caused massive hunger, and doubtless many deaths, as were reflected in food riots and unrest in many countries, notably including Syria. In an unprecedented response not one but two Democrat ex-presidents broke with protocol (presumably having been rebuffed privately) by publicly demanding that the policy "must" be cancelled. They were entirely ignored, and given minimal media coverage, until, for the sake of Obama's image, a hopelessly deficient post-dated constraint of financial speculation on grain prices was announced. The message to foreign govts was crystal clear: the US was willing and able to use food supplies as a lever of geopolitics as it gets strengthened by climate impacts on global food production.

Apart from minor actions, such as repeated put-downs of the climate issue - for instance, telling an post-middle-age audience that "We know young people get passionate about issues like climate change . . . .", Obama's next coup was the strategy in the re-election campaign. Despite polls showing strong Democrat and Independent voters' support for action on climate, and around half of GOP voters too (as Joe Romm publicized at the time) the massive classic wedge issue of the climate was totally excluded from the campaign. The fact that it was a rather tight race is the measure of how important it was to Obama to avoid raising the profile of the climate issue. Had it been used as it should have been, the Democrat party would have shredded with ridicule and sober scientists the Republican denialism that provides the political cover for Obama's inaction, and he'd have been committed to doing much more in his 2nd term.

Not long after another victory speech with its rousing section on climate, a new set of priorities was announced for the 2nd term: “Economy, Immigration & Gun Control”, with climate being again excluded. However the WH 'Office of Budget Management' finally ran into trouble after five years of gagging the EPA from meeting its legal duty to regulate carbon dioxide when a small NGO (kudos!) filed suit against it. A hasty announcement of EPA action was made and the consultation volume on regulating coal firing was eventually released. It is framed in a manner which may well be stopped in the courts and which wouldn't even start until 2020, assuming the next president doesn't gut it. Like the CAFE standards changes in the 1st term, it doesn't achieve anything much at all before the second half of the 2020s. The lack of urgency is palpable.

The 2nd term has been quite active on the foreign policy front, as exemplified by the US climate negotiator Stern declaring that "A climate treaty is unnecessary and undoable!" In this he made clear to foreign govts once again that the US will not sign any treaty, though the message to Americans was that "the foreigners won't sign a climate treaty but it doesn't matter because we don't need one." The upshot is that Paris will list only voluntary "intentions" to make cuts, not (unless the EU and others achieve a surprise) any sort of binding commitments to make cuts.

It is worth noting here that any US president is at liberty to sign a treaty that the senate would have to ratify, such as one including automatic global tariff penalties for nations signing but failing to ratify and for compliance failures.

As a means to suppress the ambition of other govts' proposed intentions for the Paris CoP, Obama used his trip to China as a high profile platform for backsliding. China had begun deploying the efficient Allocate, Cap & Trade option for decarbonization in a number of its regions and was well on the way to peaking its emissions around 2030, and was willing to declare this as the basis of its Paris 'intention'. In response Obama chose to use the occasion to renege on the second part of his own Cancun 'pledge' by cutting the US 'intention' for 2025 from 30% off 2005 (16.25% off 1990) to ~26% off 2005 (~12.0% off 1990). With a world class effort to steer the corporate media, this has of course gone clean over most Americans heads. But this backsliding has not gone over the heads of foreign govts, who see the US once again discouraging the ambition of their declared cuts 'intentions' for the Paris summit.

Even skimming some of the main points of Obama's track - while excluding his radical support for increased fossil fuel extraction - has already made this a long post, but there is one other item worth considering. Since about 1988 it has been very clear to scientists, such as the renowned Dr John Holdren who keeps Obama fully informed of the climate predicament, that we are going to have to engage in massive 'carbon recovery' to cleanse the atmosphere and reduce the warming. America was very well endowed geographically in 2009 for Obama to launch an exemplary national program of afforestation, preferably of native coppice afforestation for biochar production with its huge employment opportunities, with the product being sold to farms as a valuable soil moisture regulator and fertility enhancer.

But since 2009, with not a sign of WH interest in forestry, the US has lost over 70,000 sq mls of forest killed by pest infestation due to milder winters and unabated ozone pollution. Those dead forests, holding over a billion tonnes of carbon, are now awaiting wildfire or rot, with the latter converting a rather high fraction of the carbon into methane, which is around 86 times as potent a GHG as CO2 over the crucial 20yr period. - In addition, had Obama acted on carbon recovery in 2009 when he had a legislative majority, many thousands of the farms now afflicted by extreme drought could have had their land made at least more resistant to drought and to its suppression of their crop yields and financial viability.

To get Obama's conduct in perspective and to make sense of his motivation for obstructing action on climate, we need to look at what motivated Cheney whose climate policy he adopted. In particular what motivated Cheney when he founded the 'Brinkmanship of Inaction' with China by reneging in Kyoto and putting a crass malicious buffoon to represent the US at the UN. Most of Cheney's decisions could of course be said to serve the oil industry that he was part of, but not all. For instance, raising the corn crop withheld from export for Ethanol from ~12% (IIRC) to 30% was directly against the fossil lobby preference - and that wasn’t done for the green vote.

More to the point, as a classic cold-war warrior serving American dominance right back to Nixon's day there is one huge gap in the policies he promoted from behind GW Bush - he failed to provide any policy to break China's predictable rise to global economic dominance over America - apart from facilitating AGW's mounting threat to China of crop failures and civil unrest leading towards regime change. Given that maintaining America's global economic dominance has been the paramount bipartisan policy priority since WW2, this failure is a very robust item of evidence for his trapping China into a 'Brinkmanship of Inaction' as the core a covert long-term bipartisan policy of letting AGW rip as the chosen means of breaking China's rise.

Obama’s conduct at the Governors' Climate Summit after he was elected in 2008 indicates that he was probably unaware of the covert climate policy and would have had to be persuaded it was the appropriate course regardless of how committed a small informed core of the US establishment was to it. There were two items that he would definitely have required, just as they would earlier have been required by that inner circle of the US corporate elite before they agreed to Cheney's proposal of the policy – of which the first was an acceptable assessment of the damages within America.

The baseline for assessing US damages would have been a comparison with those predictable from the default strategy of breaking China’s rise by warfare, against which the impacts of unprecedented storms, floods and droughts look rather insignificant. This would have been affirmed by the widespread  assumption that developing nations, such as China, would be hit by extreme climate impacts far harder and sooner than would developed nations, such as the US, and that wealthy nations, such as the US, would be far better able to meet rebuilding and recovery costs. (In practice both of these assumptions are proving erroneous).

The impact on US food supplies could also be presented as negligible give its relatively massive food production per capita, meaning that while there might be some price rises affecting the poor there would be no serious shortages for home demand, but rather some level of cuts to food exports helping to raise global food prices. This offered a strong contrast with China’s relatively small food production per capita, which alongside its widespread incompetent damage to its farmland, has been increasing its dependence on food imports. In the event of a serious global crop failure those crucial imports will not be available.

The second predictable requirement in the policy’s evaluation would have been of an exit strategy. In this we may actually get to the policy's originator, for it was supplied in '95 in the form of a scientific paper on the potential of stratospheric sulphate aerosols to control global warming "should the USA someday consider that desirable." It was written by Cheney's longtime friend and close collaborator as far back as the star wars program under Reagan (for which he was originator and chief scientist) namely Edward Teller.

The fact that he had not taken any public position on AGW before publishing the sulphate aerosols paper, alongside the fact that he was renowned across the US right wing not only as an obsessive anti-communist, the father of the H-bomb and pre-eminent nuclear scientist, but also as the strategist that had 'won' the cold war, gives quite some credence to his being the policy's originator. As a means to bring down the sole remaining major communist power without needing to entice them into another arms race (which they were and are unwilling to enter) the policy has a certain genocidally callous elegance that is characteristic of Teller’s projects over the decades.

The one aspect of the present position of the climate issue not yet addressed here is the one some readers (if any get this far) may have had most to do with, and that is the role of denialism. The rapid ramping up of astro-turf denialism in 2009 was matched by really embarrassing flips by GOP legislators, some of whom had previously not only acknowledged AGW but had vocally supported action on it. Without the mounting astro-turf denialism their flips would have been untenable, and without their flips and the GOP taking denial as a badge of respectability, there would have been no political cover for Obama's inaction and obstruction over the last six years. That cover was essential for him to maintain the tribal loyalties for and against climate action and to maintain the good-cop/bad-cop climate circus of Dem & GOP presidents. That circus is also useful internationally where Obama can presented as being hogtied on the climate issue by the GOP, though it is unlikely that many govts are any longer deceived.

Perhaps the core issue of the deceit focussed against climate activists has been the persistent coat-trailing by the fossil lobby inviting the assumption that it is the originator and funder of the denialism across the web and the media. The disproof of that assumption is three-fold.

- First, the fossil lobby generates only about 8% of US GDP, with the majority of the rest, say 72%, coming from other corporations. If it was the fossil lobby driving the astro turf and GOP denialism against the majority's wishes, that majority would have around nine times the financial and political clout to put a stop to it, particularly as most have zero inherent loyalty to fossil fuels and all have the incentive of their profits being in the firing line of mounting climate disruption and damage. Alongside silencing the US fossil lobby, if they didn't approve the policy of inaction they'd predictably have torn down the WH gates by now.

- Second, American corporations' conduct is entirely at odds with those of the EU, where the fossil lobby makes clear it won't fund denialism, and unlike in America there are quite a number of corporations getting very vocal in concerted efforts for climate action - not simply in fitting renewable energy kit but in demanding global action - For instance, the group founded by Prince Charles of major corporations is demanding a "net-zero by 2050" commitment from the Paris Summit. The difference being that unlike US corporations their European counterparts have no great fraction of their profits dependent on the maintenance of America's global economic dominance.

- Third, the propagandas of denialism may seem crude at web level, but they are artfully applied across a host of different audiences and media and are maintained and rapidly updated in many countries' languages as the science and politics requires. The expertise to run such a massive and subtle operation is not readily visible in the US fossil lobby. To find the best assembly of such skills on the planet I'd instead look to the psy-ops capacity of US intelligence agencies. It may be mere coincidence, but with the increasing doubts since 2006 of the viability, let alone safety, of stratospheric sulphate aerosols for Geo-E, it was the bunch at Langley who put up $600k for the US National Academy of Science to provide an authoritative report on the full range of proposed Geo-E techniques, along with a rather timid call for research to be got under way.

In assessing the general cogency of this analysis of a covert US policy of inaction a question worth considering is the message Washington has been sending other govts - if you were an analyst serving the government of China who'd been focussed on the climate issue for the last twenty years, what would be your opinion of US climate policy ?

It is possible, though rather incredible, that all of the anomalous conduct over the past two decades that is noted above and that can be explained by a covert bipartisan policy of destabilizing China’s agriculture, is just the outcome of incompetence and happenstance. But if so, then America is probably the first empire in all of recorded history to be destabilizing its main rival’s food supply by accident.

Regards,

Lewis


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Lewis C

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2015, 01:35:03 PM »
Thanks Neven - they're certainly better on one thread.

Regards,

Lewis

wili

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2015, 03:52:26 PM »
Very impressive essay, Lewis. Are you familiar with the work of Andrew J. Bacevich (I'm thinking especially of his The Limits of Power)? It reminds me a bit of his analysis. But he, like you,  underplay imo the function of corporate and moneyed influence. I don't think one needs to pretend that money exerts zero influence to make the very good point that empire has its own prerogatives. And that those in charge of empire will inevitably serve the purpose of empire.

Anyway, thanks for a good read. I hope others engage with it for a good discussion.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

oren

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2015, 10:53:30 PM »
Thanks. A great (and very disturbing) read.

johnm33

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2015, 11:12:38 AM »
If things are as you suggest, then the unintended consequences of inaction may prove to be far more costly to America than they think. One of the possible stable scenarios that could emerge from the growing climate chaos that's unfolding is the establishing of a cold 'pole' somewhere between Hudson and the great lakes, that would mean quite a heat gradient between there and the caribbean and inevitable storms  between them. Quite some gamble.
Edit added image hat tip jai mitchell
« Last Edit: March 16, 2015, 11:24:20 AM by johnm33 »

AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2015, 11:34:45 AM »
Governments have repeatedly demonstrated that they are willing to use warfare to promote national self-interest, and it goes without saying that governments are currently, and will continue, using climate change to promote national interest.  However, Carl von Clausewitz (using the thesis-antithesis-synthesis triad) makes it clear (see the following extract from Wikipedia) that while governments start wars to try to get what they want (normally based on violent emotions), the "fog of war" (or chance) forces on-the-fly changes to the original state policy based on genius (or "military genius").

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

Extract: "In On War, Clausewitz sees all wars as the sum of decisions, actions, and reactions in an uncertain and dangerous context, and also as a socio-political phenomenon. He also stressed the complex nature of war, which encompasses both the socio-political and the operational and stresses the primacy of state policy.

The first is his dialectical thesis: "War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will." The second, often treated as Clausewitz's 'bottom line,' is in fact merely his dialectical antithesis: "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means." The synthesis of his dialectical examination of the nature of war is his famous "trinity," saying that war is "a fascinating trinity—composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force; the play of chance and probability, within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to pure reason."  Thus the best shorthand for Clausewitz's trinity should be something like "violent emotion/chance/rational calculation."

Clausewitz acknowledges that friction creates enormous difficulties for the realization of any plan, and the fog of war hinders commanders from knowing what is happening.  It is precisely in the context of this challenge that he develops the concept of military genius, whose capabilities are seen above all in the execution of operations."

Thus your discussion of US imperialism's use of climate change as a weapon needs to be viewed in terms of the "fog of war" created by the national desires and actions of the other major player's on the world stage including Russia and China (see links below for examples of their jockeying for power)


http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/03/16/world/europe/ap-eu-russia-war-games.html?_r=0


http://time.com/3745557/china-arms-exports-third-usa-russia-germany/

However, while the major national players may view the use of geo-engineering as the equivalent of "military genius" to use rational calculations to control the consequences of their manipulations of climate change to achieve their goals (based on violent emotions); I postulate that due to its fat-tailed PDF (or more likely a dragon tailed PDF) climate change is different than normal warfare, and thus it is likely that all national interests (USA, Russia, China, EU etc) will be diminished after their plan to use geo-engineering backfires for reasons including:

1.  The loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, WAIS, is now inevitable and the use of solar radiation management, SRM, can only slow the rate at which sea level will rise by several meters.
2. The incursion of warm ocean waters into the Arctic Ocean Basin will accelerate in the next couple of decades; which will rapidly degrade the submerged permafrost and associated methane hydrates, regardless of whether SRM can restore the Arctic Sea Ice extent, or not.
3. The use of SRM will very likely lead to more warfare which will lead to more radiative forcing and the risk that the SRM will be abruptly discontinued, which would create a period of extreme weather.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2015, 07:08:32 PM »
As a follow-on to my last post, the linked reference (with an open access pdf) indicates that any solar radiation management, SRM, plan will alter the normal pattern of the water cycle, and precipitation patterns, on Earth.  Therefore, without a very sophisticated Earth Systems Model like the DOE's up-coming ACME, policymakers will not know the implications on precipitation pattern of any SRM plan that they may implement in the future (even if it is just cloud whitening).

Furthermore, I note that accelerated shrub grow on the tundra in the coming decades will make it more difficult for any SRM plan to stop permafrost degradation, as the shrubs will extend above any snow cover created by the SRM, which will keep the albedo of the tundra relatively low for decades after any SRM plan is implements.

Both of the issues further indicate that any "genius" policymaker playing brinksmanship with climate change make be in for a rude awakening when he/she pulls the SRM trigger:

Axel Kleidon and Maik Renner (2013), "A simple explanation for the sensitivity of the hydrologic cycle to surface temperature and solar radiation and its implications for global climate change", Earth System Dynamics, 4, 455–465, doi:10.5194/esd-4-455-2013


http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/4/455/2013/esd-4-455-2013.pdf


Abstract: "The global hydrologic cycle is likely to increase in strength with global warming, although some studies indicate that warming due to solar absorption may result in a different sensitivity than warming due to an elevated greenhouse effect. Here we show that these sensitivities of the hydrologic cycle can be derived analytically from an extremely simple surface energy balance model that is constrained by the assumption that vertical convective exchange within the atmosphere operates at the thermodynamic limit of maximum power. Using current climatic mean conditions, this model predicts a sensitivity of the hydrologic cycle of 2.2%K−1 to greenhouse-induced surface warming which is the sensitivity reported from climate models. The sensitivity to solar-induced warming includes an additional term, which increases the total sensitivity to 3.2%K−1. These sensitivities are explained by shifts in the turbulent fluxes in the case of greenhouse-induced warming, which is proportional to the change in slope of the saturation vapor pressure, and in terms of an additional increase in turbulent fluxes in the case of solar radiation-induced warming. We illustrate an implication of this explanation for geoengineering, which aims to undo surface temperature differences by solar radiation management. Our results show that when such an intervention compensates surface warming, it cannot simultaneously compensate the changes in hydrologic cycling because of the differences in sensitivities for solar vs. greenhouse-induced surface warming. We conclude that the sensitivity of the hydrologic cycle to surface temperature can be understood and predicted with very simple physical considerations but this needs to reflect on the different roles that solar and terrestrial radiation play in forcing the hydrologic cycle."

See also:

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/reducing-sunlight-by-geoengineering-will-not-cool-earth-16861


“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

viddaloo

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2015, 09:57:14 PM »
Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence?
Lewis, as some have pointed out already, applying climate change as a weapon to hit just China and its food production for military purposes, is a risky game with huge precision issues.

While obviously completely mad and utterly insane in many of its policy areas, I honestly don't think even America would embark on such a hazardous adventure. In short, I find it much more likely that America — right or wrong — is just going by its holy 'business as usual' Big Oil and Big Money policies, and then as a result, this is what you get.

I'm no expert in geopolitics, but I've always considered the folks who run the US, the EU, Russia and China as 'criminal gangs', mob, or mafia. And instead of risking to destroy the entire planet — or gang–controlled area in mob speak — I just find it more likely that they'd strike a high–level backroom deal between the top brass of the American mob and, say, the Chinese mob, than pulling the old 'conquer the indians' strategy (by intensionally slaughtering bison in a Total War to debase native Americans) against the Chinese.

While your scenario may be correct — just extremely bizarre — it seems to me to be a stone–age way to fight an information age war. I think it would be very easy for America to stage a coup in Beijing through all kinds of covert means, and open China even more for investment and American products and services.

I don't really think Big Business — that runs America (like a mob rules a metropolis) — wants to see China's population plunge, as these people are potentially good customers.

All in all I find this hard to believe. I do think you have a lot of valid points, though: Particularly about important policy areas being run the same by either party, about the 'vicious fight' between political parties being staged to look like a real gordian knot situation, and so on and so forth.

But I think they lost control of climate change. I think they thought the ocean was endless and heavens free to pollute. After all, America is all about externalising the costs of doing business.
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Lewis C

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2015, 07:21:03 AM »
Wili - many thanks, much appreciated.

I've not read Bacevich, but it does seem to me that analysis of great powers' conduct according to their long-term interests is currently underated.
I do think the next draft should have more focus on the corporations and their propensity for nationalism when their decision-makers are indoctrinated as children. (God willing that is a practice that will one day be outlawed).
I guess it also needs to make clearer the US oil lobby's happyness with the covert policy both in deployment And in its fulfillment.

Regards,
Lewis

Lewis C

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2015, 07:27:14 AM »
Oren - thanks, I'm glad you found it disturbed the status quo of perceptions, as this means that the analysis can actually get new questions asked !

Regards,
Lewis

Lewis C

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2015, 08:07:30 AM »
Quote
. . . .the unintended consequences of inaction may prove to be far more costly to America than they think.

John - I think you're entirely right, not only by my own tracking of major events in the US & China,
but also by the hugely more credible extreme weather events database built by Munich Re since '73, which shows that the US climate is destabilizing far faster than any comparable region on the planet.

In addition, while the US beieves it is wealthy, it is actually currently creditworthy, which is a very different condition offering nothing like the same stability. In particular, that creditworthyness doesn't afford the maintenance of a fairly decent education system (they never did teach geography to those who didn't get to college) or even the full maintenance of basic infrastructure like bridges, sewers and gas mains.

In terms of damage and recovery, large parts of New Orleans have been left to rot down after the hurricane, but nothing has been spent on an orderly evacuation to a defensible flood line, meaning that they've neither rebuilt nor funded the adaption to a new perimeter.

With this being the case at the start of the curve of climate destabilization, quite how the US is going to stand its cumulative intensification in the coming years remains to be seen.

With China now having the wealth to outbid much of the middle classes of the US and the EU for food, and with a population that has mostly endured privations in the past, one can certainly make a case for America's prospects now heading into decline.

Regards,

Lewis

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2015, 11:39:49 AM »
ASLR - thankyou for your carefully considered responses, which I've been thinking about.

The Clawswitz analysis is familiar to me and seems entirely apposite. He would I think have been dismissive of a state elite that chose to launch hostilities via a means as unpredictable as AGW, with the assumption that a totally untested theoretical technology such as sulphate SRM could be relied on as the control system and exit strategy. Yet 'chose' is a value term here given that by the late 1990s China's eventual rise to economic dominance was widely predicted, and its nuclear arms deter a resort to warfare to suppress it. In this sense, those launching the covert policy may well have felt it was the best of a notably poor range of options.

With regard to the paper discussing the potential disruption of the hydrological cycle by SRM, I'm afraid the physics of the different impacts on hydrology of the three main options (stratospheric aerosols, cirrus cloud thinning and low-cloud brightening) are beyond my competence. I do observe other scientists, including atmospheric physicists, who are cautiously optimistic that a reliably benign system could be developed to provide appropriate cooling. One of these, Prof Forster (an IPCC lead author) put a good article on the issue into the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently: http://thebulletin.org/not-enough-time-geoengineering-work7963

While I share your concern that a benign system may not be available, there are also other concerns. With the eight Major Interactive Feedbacks [MIFs] observed to be accelerating at just 0.85C of warming, our best case of Emissions Control (seen as near-zero by 2050) would give continuous warming timelagged to the 2080s, while the best case of Carbon Recovery (seen as 3.15ppmCO2/yr starting in 2040) would only start to provide a timelagged marginal cooling in the late 2070s. This implies that without a reliable system of Albedo Restoration the MIFs would have at least 60 years of continuous warming to drive their outputs far beyond offsetting our best case of Emissions Control, while that warming would also impose a climate destabilization massively degrading the afforestation essential for the Carbon Recovery program (let alone agriculture). In effect, if we fail to control the MIFs we've initiated, their CO2_e outputs will be escalated to the point of destroying us not merely as a civilization but as a species.

However, for all the CIA put up part of the $600k for the recent NAS report on Geo-E options (presumably due to the extent to which sulphates SRM has been discredited) there's been a mass of anti-Geo-E articles emanating largely from the US over the last 2 years, with scientists mostly reduced to the self-censored and self-defeating argument for research of ". . .in case efforts for emissions control are not sufficient". This steering of public opinion strongly against Geo-E will be of value if, as is quite likely, US and perhaps world opinion is so hammered by climate impacts before the strategic goals of regime change in Beijing is achieved that it would otherwise demand the use of Albedo Restoration, thus halting the strategy's operation. In short, strong anti-Geo-E sentiment may buy crucial time for the policy to work.

Yet it seems at least equally likely, given Munich Re's finding that the US is being hit by rising climate destabilization far harder than any comparable region on the planet, that its elite will be forced to abandon the policy and will then try to apply SRM in whatever form looks most practical. And there's the rub. As Forster remarks, the research of any SRM system will need to include a decade of observations of trials to be confident of its reliability, on top of which is the lead-time for the negotiation of the governance of the research plus the decision-time for a technique's deployment. In short, a reliable system will need 10 to 20 years for its R,D&D, while the need for deployment may well occur in less than 20 years if serial global crop failures are to be avoided.

Your remarks concerning the potential for "a rude awakening" thus seem to me spot on.

Regards,

Lewis









« Last Edit: March 20, 2015, 01:11:24 PM by Lewis C »

P-maker

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2015, 02:10:20 PM »
Lewis, thanks!

Fascinating read – and superb follow-up comments.

Just a few reflections from my side:

I was lucky to co-author a paper on climatic extremes more than a decade ago. Since then I have tried to follow citations through Google Scholar. The paper now has more than 1000 citations in total, and I still get weekly updates. IPCC TAR picked it up immediately and the same did US colleagues. In those days, Chinese delegates at IPCC and COP plenaries were reluctant to even accept the words: “AGW” in summaries intended for policy-makers. Since about 5 years ago, the number of citations from Chinese scientists have gone up dramatically. They now spew out quite a few papers on changing extremes in China. Both observed and projected changes in all kinds of climatic extremes have now been extensively covered in a wide spectrum of scientific journals. A large diversity of papers covering many interesting aspects from sea level to the Tibetan plateau, from tropical, coastal to continental, desert climates have been published in recent years.

So, the Chinese authorities are fully aware of the kind of calamities they have caused and what type of extremes they have already “put in the oven” for themselves. Hence in my view,  they have in earnest decided to shift away from a pure fossil fuel growth path. They may also finally have given up their SRM ambitions (papers have not been published though). It remains to be seen whether they will succeed with a “Green Growth” path, or whether they will share the same destiny as the Yanks – slowly being destabilized by recurrent extreme events.

Cheers P

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2015, 11:30:21 PM »
Your remarks concerning the potential for "a rude awakening" thus seem to me spot on.

Regards,

Lewis

"The Tragedy of the Market" & "The Tragedy of the Commons" are both variations of "The tyranny of small decisions".  Thus, as all nations make conscious decisions/plans in their own self-interest, the point in your essay about "Imperial Defense" can be taken as just another example of "The tyranny of small decisions" rather than as some Machiavellian plot by the US to attack China via climate change consequences [even if Obama partially did (or did not) adopt such a plan concocted by Cheney (or not)].  On related matters, see the links below on the "special relationship" between the US & China on climate, and on whether the UK is outsourcing some of its carbon footprint to China.   

http://www.rtcc.org/2015/03/20/us-climate-envoy-hails-special-relationship-with-china/

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2015/03/are-the-uks-emissions-really-falling-or-has-it-outsourced-them-to-china/

The tyranny of small decisions by nations (all nations) makes it difficult for international agreements (such as the Kyoto Protocol) to make adequate headway in the fight against climate change, and I suspect that will apply to any possible international agreement on how to control geo-engineering.  While I concur that it looks inevitable that some geo-engineering will be implemented well before the end of the century, and that it would be best to do so in a logical fashion, I believe that the tyranny of small decisions will lead a coalition of nations to implement such geo-engineering measures without universal approval.  If so then such an implementation will likely increase the risk of armed conflict between nations rather than to relieve climate stress.

It would be nice if state elites were to develop an sufficient sense of gratitude for the world that has been passed down to them that they would feel a sense of obligation to pass on the world to the next generation in the same or better condition; however, I am concerned that there is insufficient time for these elite to over-come the tyranny of their collective small decisions in order to get the global problem of climate change under sufficient control to avoid serious consequences (although I am optimistic that the species will not be wiped-out before evolution [possibly accelerated by genetic engineering] replaces us with a new & improved master race).

Best,
ASLR
« Last Edit: March 22, 2015, 08:34:40 PM by AbruptSLR »
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P-maker

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2015, 07:32:16 PM »
Espen, good to see the Chinese react so fast!

However, I think there is no need to put up a separate thread like this:

“Top meteorologist Zheng Guoguang warns of climate change risks to China
« on: Today at 06:36:44 PM »
http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1744868/top-meteorologist-zheng-guoguang-warns-climate-change-risks-china” c.f. http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php?topic=1194.msg48377;topicseen#msg48377

Neven, please help keep these discussions together and avoid the risk of diluting key messages.

All, we are soon reaching the crunch point for the Paris COP. Avoid, if you possibly can, the dangers of  deflection.  The ASIB & the ASIF will both play a pivotal role in the end game. Let us keep our focus on:

1)   Destruction of Arctic sea ice
2)   Destabilization of climate – more extremes
3)   Droughts drive demographic changes
4)   Divestment towards resilient energy systems
5)   Degrowth – energy efficient adaptation measures
6)   Democracy – avoiding populist national fronts

This lot should be able to keep a 6-dimensional perspective on things if no-one else can.

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2015, 07:36:10 PM »
P–maker, do you believe in the pentagonian plot to destroy China by changing the global climate systems?
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2015, 07:41:49 PM »
Viddaloo

I am not a believer. Sometimes I am convinced by factual evidence. We are nowhere near that point.

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2015, 07:46:24 PM »
OK, then I'm confused. Why do you want all discussion about China and global warming to happen in this bizarre conspiracy theory thread about destroying the whole planet in order to get to China?
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2015, 07:50:12 PM »
OK, then I'm confused. Why do you want all discussion about China and global warming to happen in this bizarre conspiracy theory thread about destroying the whole planet in order to get to China?

Vid, you should be the last person to criticize bizarre conspiracy theories.  ;D
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2015, 07:58:05 PM »
OK, then I'm confused. Why do you want all discussion about China and global warming to happen in this bizarre conspiracy theory thread about destroying the whole planet in order to get to China?

Vid, you should be the last person to criticize bizarre conspiracy theories.  ;D

Why is that, Neven? I criticised this particularly bizarre theory some days ago, as you can see further up. I just don't think the 'theorist' likes getting critiques.

For real, Neven? Mess up the whole climate systems just to change the government of China? This kind of stuff makes the whole forum look silly IMO.
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2015, 08:01:03 PM »
Thanks for your concern, vid.
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2015, 08:07:45 PM »
You're welcome. I wouldn't want people to say about me that I post to that Arctic forum where all talk of China and Climate Change is banned outside of a wild conspiracy thread sourcing global warming to the Pentagon war hawks.

Edit: I thought you linked Espen's thread to *this* thread before you closed it, but I see now you linked it to the BW but–but–but thing. Sigh of relief!  ;D
« Last Edit: March 22, 2015, 08:17:16 PM by viddaloo »
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2015, 08:27:04 PM »
You're welcome. I wouldn't want people to say about me that I post to that Arctic forum where all talk of China and Climate Change is banned outside of a wild conspiracy thread sourcing global warming to the Pentagon war hawks.

There's not anything I can do to prevent people from saying such things about you. If you want to prevent that from happening, you better find some other forum.

Conspiracy theories aside, I don't think the military-industrial complex is unhappy about AGW. Sounds like a great business opportunity.
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2015, 08:43:55 PM »
Well, as I added in the Edit, I though you were now monopolising all China discussion to this strange thread. You weren't, so I apologise.

I think you're right about what Naomi calls 'Disaster Capitalism' or creative destruction, making profit margins higher for business and constantly building up new real estate etc.
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2015, 12:50:13 AM »
Espen, good to see the Chinese react so fast!

However, I think there is no need to put up a separate thread like this:

“Top meteorologist Zheng Guoguang warns of climate change risks to China
« on: Today at 06:36:44 PM »
http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1744868/top-meteorologist-zheng-guoguang-warns-climate-change-risks-china” c.f. http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php?topic=1194.msg48377;topicseen#msg48377

Neven, please help keep these discussions together and avoid the risk of diluting key messages.

All, we are soon reaching the crunch point for the Paris COP. Avoid, if you possibly can, the dangers of  deflection.  The ASIB & the ASIF will both play a pivotal role in the end game. Let us keep our focus on:

1)   Destruction of Arctic sea ice
2)   Destabilization of climate – more extremes
3)   Droughts drive demographic changes
4)   Divestment towards resilient energy systems
5)   Degrowth – energy efficient adaptation measures
6)   Democracy – avoiding populist national fronts

This lot should be able to keep a 6-dimensional perspective on things if no-one else can.

Extract from the article that Espen linked to: "China and the United States, which together produce around 45 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide, will be key to ensuring a global deal on reducing emissions after 2020 at a Paris summit later this year."

Quote from P-maker: "All, we are soon reaching the crunch point for the Paris COP. Avoid, if you possibly can, the dangers of deflection.  The ASIB & the ASIF will both play a pivotal role in the end game. Let us keep our focus on:

1)   Destruction of Arctic sea ice
2)   Destabilization of climate – more extremes
3)   Droughts drive demographic changes
4)   Divestment towards resilient energy systems
5)   Degrowth – energy efficient adaptation measures
6)   Democracy – avoiding populist national fronts

This lot should be able to keep a 6-dimensional perspective on things if no-one else can."

Hopefully, both China and the USA will see the probable unexpectedly high climate change driven damage (identified in both the ASIB & the ASIF) to both of their countries and will work constructively on CoP21 to avoid the polarization between the developed and developing countries that undermined the Kyoto Protocol.  In order to offer perspective of the serious nature of the six topic that P-maker raises, I make the following comments of the top of my head:

1)   Destruction of Arctic sea ice: Many who focus on ASI extent may not realize that:
 
(a) The average thickness/integrity of this ice less than in the past (due to more first year ice) so it is now more sensitive to melting;

(b) The current albedo of the ASI is less than in the past because of both black & brown carbon from increasing emissions from northern wildfires and because first year ice is flatter than multi-year ice it more develops more area of melt ponds for any given volume of surface ice melting.
(c) Due to the AMOC cycle it is projected that much more warm water will enter the Arctic Basin from the North Atlantic beginning in about 15, or so years.

2)   Destabilization of climate – more extremes:

(a) The greater instability of the polar jet stream is contributing to persistent (resulting in extreme) weather patterns (such as the Terribly Tenacious Trough and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge in the Northern Pacific that is contributing to heat and drought in the Western USA and to very cold winters in the Eastern USA).

(b) As China rapidly cleans-up its air pollution, this will likely rapidly accelerate Arctic Amplification, and may also amplify deep atmospheric convection in the Tropical Pacific which could increase both TCR, and ECS, rapidly; which in addition to raising global mean surface temperatures more quickly than previously expected, would also likely drive more warm Circumpolar Deep Water against the grounding lines of the Amundsen Sea Embayment marine glaciers, thus markedly increasing the risk of abrupt sea level rise within the next forty years.


3)   Droughts drive demographic changes:

(a) The projected increased frequency of strong El Nino, & La Nina, events (& 2015 is likely to experience a strong El Nino event), should increase the frequency & intensity of droughts (for El Ninos) and floods (for La Ninas) in the critical tropical rainforests of Asia and South America.

(b) Deforestation in the northern latitudes has been found to shift the ITCZ southward, thus intensifying droughts in the Southwest USA, in India & China.

4)   Divestment towards resilient energy systems:

(a) Any use of SRM could reduce the efficiency of most solar panels, and could accelerate shifts in the water-cycle that could negatively impact hydropower.

(b) Photovoltaic energy is generally dependent on rare earths that may become scarce and also the associated mining activities can be environmentally damaging.

5)   Degrowth – energy efficient adaptation measures:

(a)  Degrowth should not only include energy efficiency but should also include: carbon pricing, wealth redistribution, such as a Carbon Fee & Dividend (with Tariffs) plan.

(b) Stronger financial controls should be implemented to better inhibit the rigged-market system from promoting large carbon footprints (e.g. fossil fuel development should not receive government subsides)

6)   Democracy – avoiding populist national fronts:

(a)  Effective democracy requires a free exchange of accurate information; thus: (i) all lobbyist activities should be exposed to sunlight; (ii) all denalist information should be filtered by all Internet search engines (not just Google) and respectable scientists should be given a structured forum to provide rebuttals.

(b) Wealth redistribution to appropriate developing countries could be provided from the tariff fees collected from universal Carbon Fee & Dividend (with tariffs) plans adopted by all major developed countries (particularly the USA).
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Lewis C

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2015, 11:43:13 AM »
P-maker - thanks for you response and interesting reflections.

I'd concur with your observation of a distinct change in the output from China's climate scientists a few years back - though the extent to which this was an easing of censorship - as opposed to a bottom-up general advance of scientists' understanding, is unclear to me. I should be interested to see the paper you co-authored - over a thousand citations is quite special.

To what extent Beijing has been convinced to change course by the science, and to what extent the science has long been understood in general terms and that change is instead due to having reached a national wealth that will allow it to outbid most other nations' middle classes in the global food markets, is to me an open question. Having been practicing diplomacy for more than ten times as long as the USA, it would seem likely that in setting out to achieve global economic dominance, all of the potential stumbling blocks will have been carefully considered in its centrally planned economy. This would imply that it had a target level of relative wealth at which it no longer needed the extreme fossil-fuelled GDP growth and could instead start to prioretise the restoration of climatic stability. (Not to mention clean air, water, etc).

On one point I'm not sure I follow you - whether China "may succeed with a “Green Growth” path, or whether they will share the same destiny as the Yanks – slowly being destabilized by recurrent extreme events." While newly built appropriate infrastructure and the dispersed nature of RE can certainly add some resilience to a society facing extreme climate impacts, the self-reinforcing nature of the feedback warming (that is widely observed to be accelerating) implies that there is no prospect of particular nations 'muddling through' - either we apply the requisite Troika strategy (Emissions Control + Carbon Recovery + Albedo Restoration) soon enough to resolve AGW's threat to all nations, or all nations successively lose their agricultural capacities. However, perhaps you have a different perspective on the mitigation requirements that alter this calculus ?

Regards,

Lewis


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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #27 on: March 23, 2015, 04:53:24 PM »
Lewis

Please take my word for it. The paper is out there doing it’s job, as are many other scientific stimuli for Chinese climate researchers. I have known quite a few of them over the years, and they have not indicated to me, that they were under any kind of censorship in the countries, where I met them.

I am convinced that China changed it’s course due to the science.

China has the advantage (compared with the US), that central government now has a fairly clear picture of calamaties to come. Being able to steer by decrete, Chinese authorities will have a better chance of placing investments in resilient energy systems and sustainable adaptation projects. The US on the other hand, will have to live with the consequences of having an elected minority blocking the Senate and ludicrous chair persons across the boards in Washington. I do respect the fact that all these were the results of democratic elections. However, since the Bush “era”, the US has decided to skip the mitigation part and now tries to “ride out” the consequences.

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #28 on: March 23, 2015, 08:47:20 PM »
One treads in deep water when getting involved in a discussion with a conspiracy theorist and I have been trying to resist it.  But here goes.

I will get the main opinion out front first.  This is just nonsense.

For full disclosure purposes once again.  I spent my professional career in the very US intelligence community mentioned in the original post.  So I have insights in to how the US government functions and thinks.  Plus my family grew up a short distance from Dick Cheney's and my sisters went to JH and HS with him and his future wife.  You may also assume, and I am sure will, anything else you want about that.

What is the basis for the conclusions in the original posts above?

1.  Scientifically based warnings of a potential serious climate problem prompted several top leaders to convene organizations to focus on the issue.  This seemingly intelligent decision is somehow nefarious by the fact that two of them were right wing pro-business and the other a communist?

2.  Over the next 25 years the evidence for human caused climate change grew but the ability to form agreements on what to do about it failed and were not implemented.  True enough.  Why did they fail?  Lots of reasons.  Poorly crafted agreements, national security interests, the struggle over who would pay for the costs, in the beginning a lack of full confidence from the scientific side, business interests, economic interests, and a host of real world issues which have to have their say.

3.  Bush and Cheney.  Oil men.  So they must be protecting the oil interests while in full awareness that climate change might destroy civilization.  It is certainly true that they stymied international agreements on what to do, but is that why they did it?  Because they are oilmen?  But then Obama has done the same thing.  Is he a closet oilman?!! Horrors!  But why?

4.  Stern says its because capitalism does not work in this circumstance.  And then we jump to why is the Cheney/Obama "‘brinkmanship of inaction’ with China" policy, which supposedly provoked China into "an immediate flat-out coal fired growth policy:", being executed and still followed?  Hmmm...well the author would like us to just accept his definition above but I am not persuaded at all.  Capitalists and Communists and oilmen and community activists all doing the same thing.  Its a conspiracy.  But the question is 'why' are they doing it.

5-10? Is a regurgitation of a bunch of political actions which probably did intend to derail efforts to get to binding agreements by the Obama administration and various other  world leaders.  Sure true enough it did happen.  But why?

11.  The corn to ethanol program is expanded.  The implication is that this was done to destabilize governments around the world by raising the cost of food.  The program certainly contributed to the rise of grain prices and, by implication, to unrest in a number of Middle East countries.  Was that the goal of the program or an unintended consequence?  It is always worth keeping in mind that the bulk of historical events are the results of the Law of Unintended Consequences.  But it would be nice to be that smart.

12.  The election miscalculation.  Obama could have won BIG if he had played the climate change card and then the fact that he didn't proves he has a hidden agenda since he risked all on protecting that agenda.  This protected him from having to make climate change more prominent in his 2nd term.  Ok, I can't help myself here. This one is just stupid.  No presidential candidate would ever deliberately follow a tactic which he thought would lessen his chances of winning.  That level of politics has no restraints.  If you need to disieve or lie to win you do it.  History is full of campaign issues never heard from again.  And if you remember Obama won BIG.  Maybe he took the path he did because he is a lot smarter a politician than Joe Romm (I mean that rhetorically - its a given).

13.  One of the first sets of administration priorities did not mention climate change.  But 'they' were forced in some way to try and regulate carbon emissions.  And the weak CAFE standards.  So little progress must mean conspiracy.  The author is clearly unacquainted with the functioning, or lack thereof, of American democracy.

14.  The fact that the US is mostly totally consumed in foreign policy issues in the current term (big news there all right) somehow 'exemplifies' our lack of action on climate agreements?   Really?  Where is the logic here?  Statements that the big climate agreements could not be agreed upon and were not enforceable might just be basic truth for a host of reasons.

15.  The President can sign a treaty that the Senate has to ratify.  Nope.  That is not the way US law is written.  The President negotiates treaties with consultation with Congress.  Then the Senate  decides if the negotiated treaty is good enough for US interests whether the US will ratify it.  They are under no obligation to ratify.  If they do not ratify then the treaty has no validity on the US.

16.  More US foot dragging on climate agreements.

17 & 18.  Since Obama has a science adviser who understands climate change science and the US has not embarked on a geo-engineering afforestation project across America it is further evidence of conspiracy?   Really?

19.  Cheney's program.  He did mostly what he did for the oil industry, except for the corn to ethanol program, which was not done to be green.  No on the first part (we will get back to that later) and yes on the 2nd.  Any one who has really paid attention to the corn to ethanol program knows that it was executed primarily as a agricultural subsidy program for large scale US agribusinesses.  The Obama increase was for the same purpose btw.  The 'green' marketing was a handy political/advertising side benefit.  Pork barrel politics.

20.  So now Cheney's plan (when was he President again?) as an old cold warrior to break China's rise as a world power was not working as planned he morphed into a plan to bring China to its knees by stalling on climate change which would (in what 30 years or so) collapse Chinese agriculture and be their demise.  Hmm.  That the US intends to try and maintain its global dominance (true) is somehow evidence of this plot I don't quite follow I guess.

21.  Somehow Obama was not aware of this 'covert' climate policy when elected and the 'core' of the US establishment would have had to convince him just as Cheney had to convince them.  So what you are saying is that there is a secret US government (probably in my old organization) which really runs the government and tells the President what his policies are going to be?   Maybe it was me who did this.

22 & 23.  Basically a regurgitation of many of our discussion on where and when agriculture will reach its limits, and where climate change and carrying capacity issues, will hit hardest and first.  Pretty straightforward stuff which we have covered in detail here in other topics.  Basically the US is better positioned than most to the early effects of climate change.  Not immune but relatively better off.

24 & 25.  Cheney's friend (Cheney is not 'friends' with minor folks like Teller btw) Teller once described geo-engineering as a way to attack China.  He came up with a lot of other crazy ideas too.  He was used for political purposes when it was convenient and ignored when it was not. Teller had no meaningful impact on US policies. 

26 to 30?  Denialism.  It supposedly is so big and so sophisticated that Big Oil could not actually have the means and sophistication to be doing it, and therefore it must be the Intelligence Community. 

31 & 32.  So the above proves a secret government conspiracy to destroy China's ability to feed itself as part and parcel of our attempts to maintain our global dominance.  All of the other side effects of this ruthless covert program I am assuming are unexpected benefits or unfortunate collateral damage? 

Well I must say a clever attempt at fiction and maybe you could make a movie.  But this is not serious analysis.

My Part 2 will follow with a reiteration of some of my earlier posts and hopefully a more rational explanation of what is going on with US policy.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

viddaloo

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2015, 09:41:04 PM »
Great debunking, JimD. Nonsense is the key word, I believe.
[]

JimD

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #30 on: March 23, 2015, 10:26:11 PM »
Part Two

What I think is going on with policy.

BTW I am not a part of nor aware of a covert program to destroy China.

Another point worth mentioning is that it is not possible to plan and execute a secret program as described on such a scale.  Wikileaks anyone?  BTW (since it will likely be brought up) the Manhattan Project was only a secret to some of the US populace and not at all to any of our significant allies and none of our enemies.  There is no such thing as a big secret in this world.  Humans are humans. 

Can we also dispense with the secret people who control the government stuff.  The people who run the government and our civilization are right out there in front of us.  They don't try to hide.

Ok let's get started.

The most important thing to remember about the problems facing us due to Climate Change and our exceeding the Earth's carrying capacity is that the combined problems have created a real world dilemma.  What I mean here is that a rational logical analysis of the problems and what it would take to solve them "in the real world" will lead one to the inescapable conclusion that we DO NOT HAVE THE MEANS AT HAND to solve them.  A dilemma is a situation with no solution.  In our case all solutions are unacceptable to a large portion of the globes population.

Today most of the worlds educated people who have some reasonable access to the media are aware of the basic issues and know we have significant problems facing us - sometime in the future.  This leads almost all of them to fall into one of two camps, what I call the Black BAU and Green BAU groups.  A very small number of folks land in the group I am in which calls for preemptive actions.  It is generally true that those most oriented towards just continuing running our civilization along the lines we have been tend to be conservatives and those most oriented towards the green solutions tend to be liberal.  But there is a lot of overlap.  Out side of political orientations the most common driver seems to be whether one is more driven by religious beliefs or by faith in technical progress.  Both are subjective belief systems and their adherents are restricted in what options they can contemplate.

The above basic groupings are present in those who fill top political and business positions as one would expect.  But when one fills one of those positions (and the significant, but lessor positions in the civilizational system) one takes on another set of responsibilities.  In the case of your typical businessman it is towards making the business successful and in the case of very significant businesses like the fossil industry or power generation or defense you also carry the knowledge of significant social responsibilities.  In the case of political and military leaders you have an extra burden that is penultimate - the national security of the people you lead.

People like Obama, Cheney, Merkel, Putin, Xi and the like are always aware of the fact that their primary job is to further the interests of their country if at all possible.  It is not just the very wealthy and the business leaders which demand this it is also the main desire of the general public.  Do no harm to us or if you have to then do the least.  There are no globally elected leaders who have the charter for doing what is best for the entire planet.  And no leader will long last in office who forgets his main responsibility to look out for his own and sacrifices his country for others.  The military and intelligence officers swear an oath to do everything in their power to protect their own - there is no mention of any other countries or the whole world in that statement.  From the beginning of our time there have been men who took this oath to stand on the wall and through  the night so that the rest of us could sleep in peace and safety.  This is not to make excuses for them as they are human like the rest of us and some are incompetent, others not so smart, overly violent, criminals and a few become evil. 

So it is a given that everyone knows about the problem.  Ones actions tend to be oriented towards doing what seems best to satisfy ones responsibilities.  Yes the politicians know the basic situation (some are pretty stupid and/or are elected for their adherence to viewpoint not in line with national level responsibilities) and so do our military and intelligence officials.  In the case of the military and intelligence leaders they were the first in the government outside of people like Hanson who accepted the risks and started to figure out what to do about them - within what their responsibilities are.

Now I can hear the complaint right over my fiber optic lines now.  What about their moral responsibilities to the planet and all the people on it.  None of us are immune from that, right.  Correct.  But tell me that we don't all have moral responsibilities we fall short on, or have to choose between.  How do I reconcile my responsibilities to my family with those I have taken on to protect my country, or the world.  I have to choose between them all the time if I can see no way to choose for both at the same time.  This is part of our dilemma.  There is no choice which fits all equally in a perfect world - which we don't have.  And let us not forget that human behavior is governed greatly by our subconscious mind and it is very difficult to take decisions contrary to what it tells us - which is mostly to take care of our own and to out compete the rest.  None of this is really facilitates our successfully dealing with  a global problem.

Given that our leaders and those in a position to provide advise understand the fundamental structure and scope of our situation why do those in one place take one kind of action and those in, say the US, take another?  Read that paragraph above again.  Because they have similar responsibilities but different situations to make that decision from.  And never forget that, outside faith in God or Progress, there is no way out of this situation.  It is not a win-win, it is not a zero sum game.  It is a lose-lose game.  In that circumstance most would follow the dictates of human nature and take care of their own.  Especially those who have taken the responsibility upon themselves to take care of others.

So is there any real world chance we can negotiate a climate change agreement which is fair and equitable for the entire world in these circumstances?  Clearly not.  This is just accepting reality.  So can we do an agreement which has meaningful impact without requiring all the wealthy countries to give up many of their advantages?  Nope.  Can we do an agreement which results in the developing world (like China) to stop their rapid growth due to its harm to the world.  Clearly not.  There is no way to globally reach such agreements since not just many but all involved will have to give up most of what they have.  This is just real world politics and what the people of various countries will put up with.  The scale of the global population and satisfying its basic needs alone exceeds the limits of any solution.  This is recognized by pretty much everyone involved.  It is just not talked about much.

If we can't actually solve the problem then what do we do.  We do BAU of course.  But the core of BAU is not whether we continue with fossil fuels or switch to renewables.  The core of BAU is to maintain your position (or improve it if possible) for as long as possible and then to ride the storm to its conclusion.  This gives you the best chance of being around at the end and have done your best to have taken care of those you swore to protect. 

That is what is going on.  America is doing its best to maintain its empire (it has great benefits to us along with its negatives), to weaken those it sees as dangers, control its colonies and partners and to exploit those it can take things from.  From their respective positions all the leaders of the world are doing the same thing.  Germany is cutting the throats of the Greeks, America and the EU are sacrificing Ukraine for both colonial purposes and to weaken the Russian position, we are all muddling about the Middle East for both oil and to use the budding religious war between Islam and Christianity to our joint advantages, China is creating a competitor to the US controlled World Bank in order to weaken the US hegemony with the dollar.  India will never cooperate on climate change as it means the end of them.  Climate change, exceeding the carrying capacity, over and growing population, all of these things mean there are going to be losers and big losers.  Which do you want to be?  Which choice do you make in this morally complicated decision tree?  If most of us have to go the way of the Dodo bird then why not you instead of me?  This is how it plays out in the real world. There are no heroes and nice guys will not finish first if at all.

So I say what is happening is just what one would expect in the circumstances and it requires no silly conspiracy story to explain.

Is it f**ked up?   You bet. 

Why do you think I argue so strongly to take my alternate path of degrowth and managed collapse.  Because I see it as the only viable moral path forward.  If we don't take that I am for my family and will do my best to make sure we are the last ones standing.  I fully expect you to do the same.  And if we meet in the process I apologize ahead of time, but I will not hold back.

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #31 on: March 23, 2015, 10:45:06 PM »
"there are going to be losers and big losers"

Exactly.

But then do you think it impossible that some policy makers are calculating (however mistakenly) that some climate (or other) policy might make their side the less big loser and the other side the more big loser. Wouldn't your very argument above say that it is their sworn duty to make exactly such calculations?
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #32 on: March 24, 2015, 01:30:46 AM »
"You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You?" Col. Nathan R. Jessup, from "A Few Good Men" 1992.

While I sincerely appreciate JimD's thoughtful essays, we should not lose sight of the fact that if state elites had taken seriously their commitments to fight anthropogenic climate change/warming, AGW, in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), then AGW could have been handled by now with moderately little pain/effort (besides the pain of facing the truth).

The title of this thread is: "Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defense?" and I am going to assume that this title was selected based on frustration as to why the Kyoto Protocol (as an extension of the 1992 UNFCCC) failed; apparently unexpectedly to some earnest people who then asked whether this failure was systemic (Tragedy of the Markets) or nefarious (Imperial Defense). In this way the failure of the Kyoto Protocol can be seen as a Black Swan event as Tabeb points out  that what may be a Black Swan surprise for a turkey is not a Black Swan surprise for its butcher.  Thus while a turkey can hold nefarious doubts about the moral integrity of the butcher, Tabeb points out that the objective should be to "avoid being the turkey" by identifying areas of opportunity in order to "turn the Black Swans white" (i.e. shine a light into the darkness by opening one's eyes, not by accusing the US of nefariously trying to undermine China at the risk of destroying the world). 

In order to help "avoid being the turkey" Tabeb focuses on a single idea: "our blindness with respect to randomness, particularly large deviations."  Without special training most people are ill equipped to properly assess both uncertainties and risks associated with complex systems.  Consequently, most people classify the "fat-tailed" probability distribution risks associated with climate change in the same category as "thin-tailed" probability distribution risk such as those associated with meteor strikes, or other remote catastrophic events.  This is unfortunate as many policymaker respond to the concerns of the majority of their blind constituents.  The constituents' lack of proper understanding of the true risks of climate change has delayed nations (state elite) from the timely implementation of the "Precautionary Principle".

Tabeb describes history as opaque, essentially a black box of cause and effect, where one sees events go in and events go out, but where one has no way of determining which produced what effect.  Historically, rare and improbable events do occur much more than we dare to think.  Our thinking usually is limited in scope and we make assumptions based on what we see, know, and assume. Reality, however, is much more complicated and unpredictable than we prefer to think. Also, assumptions relevant to average situations are less relevant to irregular situations, especially when the "rules of the game" themselves are changing, as is the case with climate change.  Furthermore, extreme events do happen and have a great effect. The effects of extreme events are even higher due to the fact that they are still unexpected by the general public.

Taleb's black swan is different from earlier philosophical versions of the problem, specifically in epistemology, as it concerns a phenomenon with specific empirical and statistical properties which he calls, "the fourth quadrant".  Taleb's problem is about epistemic limitations in some parts of the areas covered in decision making. These limitations are twofold: philosophical (mathematical) and empirical (human known epistemic biases). The philosophical problem is about the decrease in knowledge when it comes to rare events as these are not visible in past samples and therefore require a strong a priori, or what one can call an extrapolating theory; accordingly events depend more and more on theories when their probability is small. In the fourth quadrant, knowledge is both uncertain and consequences are large, requiring more robustness.

Taleb's Black Swan Event has a central and unique attribute, high impact. His claim is that almost all consequential events in history come from the unexpected—yet humans later convince themselves that these events are explainable in hindsight (bias).  Why are humans often caught off guard by or slow to recognize the rare and novel? Partly because built into the very nature of our experience is the propensity to extend existing knowledge and experience to future events and experiences. To exacerbate this natural propensity much of our cultural education both formal and otherwise is built upon historical knowledge directed by others. Of course both the natural physiological propensity and the cultural phenomenon are somewhat a necessary precondition to learning, since complete openness to every event would be inefficient. Bertrand Russell observed, "An open mind is an empty mind." So we cannot be completely open, but we must guard against being completely closed as well. It would be most efficacious if we could find a balance between the known and unknown and the limits of our knowledge and experience. The effect of unexpected events likely is integral to finding this balance. Thus, the rare and unexpected is far more significant to our formation of knowledge than people often imagine.

Taleb argues that the proposition "we know", in many cases, is an illusion, albeit a necessary one; the human mind tends to think it knows, but it does not always have a solid basis for this delusion of "I know". Similarly, to those who might argue that the advancement of science has rendered the world well-known, Taleb argues that while science added knowledge, we always run the risk of experiencing the improbable, rare, and novel. We can be shocked by this knowledge and experience or we can be open to it. As with the dictum of Socrates, "the only thing I know is that I do not know", is as true as ever.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 05:55:13 PM by AbruptSLR »
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JimD

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2015, 05:35:46 PM »
"there are going to be losers and big losers"

Exactly.

But then do you think it impossible that some policy makers are calculating (however mistakenly) that some climate (or other) policy might make their side the less big loser and the other side the more big loser. Wouldn't your very argument above say that it is their sworn duty to make exactly such calculations?

Yes that is pretty much what I am saying.  Guess I was not explicit enough.  If you are in a lose lose situation and you cannot imagine the kind of solutions I advocate for then what do you do?  You try and take as few loses on yourself as you can.  This means exactly what it sounds like.  You can't save everyone so you use delay and the valid excuse that you can't afford to fix everything.  You position yourself as best you can to whether the storm in full knowledge that many others will not be able to make it through it.  Over time the weakest and most vulnerable slowly (or maybe not so slowly in some cases) drop by the wayside.   When we finally reach the point of big food shortages (and we will get there) that is when the most change will happen. Once it gets to that point things go fast for a time.

But there is something in your statement that needs to be challenged.  The idea that it is a "mistake" to calculate in the above fashion.  It is not a mistake.  It is exactly what they should be doing if you accept the common analysis of the situation.  BAU will clearly not get us past this situation.  As we agreed it is a lose lose circumstance so people, in those positions of responsibility, have not only an obligation but a strong inclination to make decisions this way.  Everything in their being orients them towards such an approach. 

My reading of the above is why I am so vocal and insistent that only dramatic change leads to the least suffering and best outcome.  If we pursue the BAU paths then we inevitably end up in the end game of what I describe above.  And that end game in a best case scenario is much worse than dramatic degrowth and a reset of civilization.  If the above goes worse case the mess could be utterly catastrophic clear up to nuclear exchanges and using war to facilitate mass starvation and regional genocides.  Civilization is fragile.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #34 on: March 24, 2015, 06:20:19 PM »
My concern is that much of the "Greatest Generation" & the "Baby Boomers" choose to act like self-centered kings of the planet rather than as good stewards, so if our only plan were to shrink the economy & the population without correcting some of the flaws in or modern "rigged capitalistic system" then future generations are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past.

In this regards, I read that the Buddha knew several kings very well and that he neither convinced these kings to: (a) step down to form republics (which existed at that time and which the Buddha appears to have preferred); nor (b) order their subjects to live dharmic lives.  Similarly, I read that the Buddha did not criticize soldiers for forcibly defending their nations, but apparently the Buddha did challenge kings, subjects and soldiers to personally try to find better ways of governing, living and safeguarding society.

As a fictitious example, Col. Nathan R. Jessup (from "A Few Good Men") was stationed at Gitmo, only a few hundred yards for Cuban troops that he was prepared to kill and that he expected were prepared to kill him; while now (with different thinking from 1992) the USA has a chance of engaging in détente with Cuba if Boehner & McConnell do not take the US back into Cold War mentality.  So what is impossible given one mind-set may be fully possible given a different mind-set.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 10:37:37 PM by AbruptSLR »
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JimD

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #35 on: March 24, 2015, 06:35:33 PM »
ASLR

A good read.  I too found Taleb's book educational.  I am not sure it is applicable in regards to climate change.  It is more suited to large and unexpected perturbations in complex systems like the financial sector.

But I think I understand the message you are trying to make. 

We certainly have a complex system contained within our phrase civilization here, but the threat is not hidden from us like the turkey's is.  Climate change and carrying capacity are sitting across the table from us and we know more than enough about the twin threats.  We may get a Black Swan event related to climate change, but by definition we will not see it coming.  Nor will be know ahead of time whether that event would be good or bad for us. 

I think your point about policy makers following their blind constituents might relate to those like the Tea Party wackos and their congressmen.  But I am not talking about those folks and they do not make any real decisions.  The direction of government policy when it comes to national security and foreign policy is in the hands of a much higher level group and no single person has the ability to change it.

But to the main point.  No we cannot say for certain that we really 'know' without possibility of mistake.  But we do know a lot.  And we do know that the threat is existential and highly probable.  This puts us in the category of very high impact and high chance of occurrence.  By any rational definition this means we must act and we have to act within the parameters of what we 'know'.  We can't depend on wishful thinking, faith in God or Progress, favorable Black Swans, or the venier of civilized behavior to do the 'right' thing.  We have to make our choices in the real and very flawed world of basic human nature, competing interests, enemies, and a situation which does not have a truly favorable outcome for anyone and least of all all of us. 

Like it or not I do not see the decision makers going about this in any other fashion.  Look at the rest of the decisions they make and what we do as countries to maintain our place or to improve it.  Why would we choose to do anything less in a situation which is so restricted as this one.  What other options do they have available to them?  The reason all of these clever sounding plans to tax carbon and form global agreements to regulate everyone's behavior do not get traction is that we do not live in a world where such things can be implemented.  You cannot have individual sovereignty and global governance for instance.  It is a lose lose situation. 

Re:

Quote
"You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You?" Col. Nathan R. Jessup, from "A Few Good Men" 1992.

I thought of that movie when I wrote what I said.  But that movie was not where that phrase originated by a few thousand years.  The point of the movie was to show how needed such men are and how they can go wrong in their intense responsibility to make sure the rest of us are safe.  I lived in that world for much of my life and I understand these men well - I was one of them and still am pretty much.  To the civilized man living inside those walls and enraptured with the nicer concepts in life it almost seems like the concerns of the rough men who stand on the walls are from another time and we have moved on from them.  But do not try and tell that to the people who have no security and who are not safe from the predators.  Nor to the men who stand the walls and  stare into the eyes of the enemy.

The point about the setting in Cuba does not relate to me.  One can be 'friends' and one can be enemies and friends again as circumstances change.  Look at the relationship between England and the US over the last 400 years.  The point is that the world is a dangerous place and one has to be ready at all times.  You have to make decisions when the time comes from the information you have at hand.  There  is no room for mistake and the price of failure is very high.  Those in these positions of responsibility do their best within the space they have to work with.  What they are doing makes sense even if it is not what many would 'like' to have happen.

Thus I advocate for an alternate solution to BAU which has the promise to help a much greater number of people across a much wider span of the world.  But what do I know?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #36 on: March 24, 2015, 08:30:43 PM »
You cannot have individual sovereignty and global governance for instance.

Does "global governance" include sovereign states agreeing to and complying with a CoP21 agreement in Paris?

I imagine that Lewis C was frustrated when the Kyoto Protocol failed when the developed nations (with the USA being the most prominent) could not reach agreement with developing states (with China being the most prominent).  We will all find out soon enough whether the developed countries (including the USA) and the developing world (with China being the most prominent) work towards making the CoP21 agreement meaningful or just more wishful thinking.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #37 on: March 24, 2015, 10:45:30 PM »
The direction of government policy when it comes to national security and foreign policy is in the hands of a much higher level group and no single person has the ability to change it.

JimD,

What your saying here is that the "higher level group" who set government policy when you were serving in the US intelligence community, were fully aware of the climate change situation that was leading to where we are today.  If you are correct, then this "higher level group" seem to me to either blind, stupid, heartless or all of the above.

Best,
ASLR
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

oren

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #38 on: March 25, 2015, 10:38:56 AM »
The direction of government policy when it comes to national security and foreign policy is in the hands of a much higher level group and no single person has the ability to change it.

JimD,

What your saying here is that the "higher level group" who set government policy when you were serving in the US intelligence community, were fully aware of the climate change situation that was leading to where we are today.  If you are correct, then this "higher level group" seem to me to either blind, stupid, heartless or all of the above.

Best,
ASLR

Or they are directed by other more "pressing" concerns.

And to Jim - I believe most of the average persons are the turkey, and are really not aware of the impending doom. And those that have heard of this doom, have heard of so many dooms before that they disbelieve it or discount it as some possible future problem. I've met plenty such persons, not necessarily unintelligent, but busy with their own lives and not paying enough attention to what is scientifically common knowledge.
And since elected politicians (and dictators partially) tend to follow their voters' wishes and concerns, it follows that we as a society will meet climate change as a black swan or a series of black swans, even though it is all known in advance (except perhaps timing).
Even if an elected politician has a change of heart, sees the light, decides to act for the global good, and starts a degrowth program, he or she will be kicked out of office soon enough in today's world. The same as a politician who decides to drastically cut budgets or pensions or whatever when financial doom is approaching.

JimD

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #39 on: March 25, 2015, 04:29:25 PM »
The direction of government policy when it comes to national security and foreign policy is in the hands of a much higher level group and no single person has the ability to change it.

JimD,

What your saying here is that the "higher level group" who set government policy when you were serving in the US intelligence community, were fully aware of the climate change situation that was leading to where we are today.  If you are correct, then this "higher level group" seem to me to either blind, stupid, heartless or all of the above.

Best,
ASLR

I'm not trying to sugarcoat life here.  The world is a harsh place.  We are all blind, stupid and heartless.  We are also all compassionate, self sacrificing and courageous at times.  It all just depends on what we perceive as what we can and should do.

Yes I am saying that at the decision making level in the US (which includes not just a few elected officials and the most senior members of the government and military, but also all of the non-governmental people/organizations who operated at that level - we are an oligopoly after all) are reasonably well informed on the issue.

What I have tried to explain above (and perhaps not very well) is that "within their decision making structure", which is bound by their responsibilities and their perceived freedom of action (that is what they have the real world ability to do), that what they are doing is to be expected (expected is to be read as different than justified).

One can only take action within what one perceives as the space to take those actions in.  Actual freedom of action for someone making a decision can be much larger at times than that person thinks.  This is often the case when one comes to the problem with a host of preconceived notions.  True open minds don't exist as we all have some level of mental blindness.

I am just trying to explain why I think the decisions are being made the way they are.  I think I have been pretty clear that I advocate going in a different direction.

However let me say this.  IF we continue to follow various BAU paths then it is likely that their approach is probably just as good as any other and "from the perspective of their responsibilities" it is hard to choose any other.

Thus my advocating a reset of the rules of the game.  We must have dramatic change or the game will be played by the rules it has always been played by.  History has shown us to be very consistent under very threatening circumstances.  Current paths do not lead towards a good conclusion.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #40 on: March 25, 2015, 04:40:11 PM »
oren

Good points, but I have a different take on this part...

Quote
And since elected politicians (and dictators partially) tend to follow their voters' wishes and concerns, it follows that we as a society will meet climate change as a black swan or a series of black swans, even though it is all known in advance (except perhaps timing).

I don't think at the macro level it occurs quite this way.  The pervasiveness of political/religious indoctrination, media programming via state propaganda and a deliberately skewed educational system means to me that those "voter wishes" are mostly programmed in. 

So you start a trend and then the politicians jump in front of it to lead it.  And let me caveat this with the comment that we are not yet a totally controlled authoritarian state so there are still competing themes and struggles between different players.  We are not all moving in a consistent direction either.

As an example:  There are lots of common people on the denial bandwagon today.  Much of that is due to various interests working behind the scenes to generate that 'grassroots' opposition.  Most of those folks have no idea what the content of the subject actually is.  They just repeat propaganda that is well phrased to trigger their subconsciously generated reactions.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #41 on: March 25, 2015, 05:21:17 PM »

Or they are directed by other more "pressing" concerns.


oren,

The point that you are raising is (in my opinion) the focus of this thread.  In that people in general have a hard time transcending the traditional beliefs/perspective of their personal experience & the "conventional wisdom" of their peers.  This is also true of the "higher level group" (or the state elite) who are very use to bravely taking action by ignoring the thin-tail of a risk pdf of the multiple "pressing" concerns that they are dealing with and thus they felt/feel fully justified in ignoring the tail-risk associate with climate change pdfs.  So if what you say is true then these state elite are only doing what they know how to do (so we should forgive them as in: "Father Forgive Them for They Know Not What They Do.") and we will all be turkeys due to their blindness to the "dragon-tail" climate change risks of following a BAU pathway to this point in time.  However, if what JimD says is true and this "higher level group" is well aware of the tail risks and they have intentionally choosing to follow a BAU pathway (including using mass marketing, education and religion as an "... opiate of the masses") of to this point in time is true, then what I said about them being blind, stupid, heartless, or all of the above is also true.
Furthermore, ignoring the tail risks allows decision makers to use deductive logic to reach conclusions, as they assume that their basis is proven so their conclusions are proven. 

Unfortunately, in the real world their basis contains multiple fat-tailed uncertainties that they are merely choosing to ignore because they believe that they are entitled to live in a stationary world (with fluctuations) rather than in a non-stationary climate change trending world where it is very important to consider that the further one moves down a BAU pathway the fatter the tail of the risk pdf becomes. Increased use of inductive thinking (which acknowledges the uncertainties of the fat-tailed risks rather than ignoring them) has historically allowed science to effectively tackle such fat-tailed problems, & I believe that von Clausewitz's "military genius" also uses such induction to identify solutions to complex problems clouded by "the fog of war".

In this regards, Taleb also discusses the philosophical problems of using induction and how past performance is no indicator of future performance.  Inductive reasoning, also known as induction, is a kind of reasoning that constructs or evaluates propositions (a priori) that are abstractions of observations of individual instances. Inductive reasoning contrasts with deductive reasoning in that a general conclusion is arrived at by specific examples.  Inductive reasoning allows for the possibility that the conclusion be false, even where all of the premises are true.

The philosopher C. D. Broad said that "induction is the glory of science and the scandal of philosophy" as the Scientific Method makes extensive use of induction.  Thus one could ask if induction is the glory of science, then why does the IPCC AR5 's process-base system focus on deduction.  It is clear that it because both the general public and policymakers want to shirk responsibility for making decisions in the fog of war in the fight against climate change and they are not willing to accept inductive reasoning that admits that the conclusion may be false even where all of the premises are true.  This leaves scientists deciding to err on the side of least drama rather than on the side of caution; which leaves society taking unnecessarily high risks with regard to climate change, when there is no need to do so because scientist are not acknowledging the fat-tails of the climate change consequence pdfs.  Hopefully, in some future society the public and policymakers will trust scientists (such as James Hansen) to use more inductive reasoning to better advise society on coming risks so that the state elite can take effective action in a timely manner rather than merely discounting the wisdom offered to them decades ago by the likes of James Hansen.

Best,
ASLR

Edit added in bold font above.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 06:22:41 PM by AbruptSLR »
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #42 on: March 25, 2015, 06:19:07 PM »
And let me caveat this with the comment that we are not yet a totally controlled authoritarian state so there are still competing themes and struggles between different players.

JimD,

Just to remove any lingering doubts in my mind; when you say that: "... we are not yet in a totally authoritarian state..."; after the collapse (whether triggered early by the awakening (from their opiate induced slumber) of the self-preserving pattern recognizing minds of the proletariat who then tear-down the system, or naturally due to the incompetence of the state elite), are you expecting that totally authoritarian states will take over and maintain sustainable order?

Best,
ASLR
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 06:36:45 PM by AbruptSLR »
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #43 on: March 26, 2015, 07:34:50 PM »
The linked op-ed points out that: "… climate change is the public policy problem from hell."  Lewis C likes to point a finger at Dick Cheney (see attached photo) and then JimD (whose sister went to high-school with Dick) defended Dick as a rugged warrior holding the line in a tough world (personally I think all nations are accountable for their own behavior); but no-one gets us off a BAU pathway except by pretending to reduce GHG emissions by reducing CO₂ emissions by switching from coal to natural gas and then refusing to talk about the CO2-e contribution of the methane.

http://theweek.com/articles/546128/why-climate-change-public-policy-problem-from-hell

This situation does not give me much hope for the COP21 talks in Paris, and I doubt that the state elite will be incompetent enough to fulfill JimD's dream of an early collapse.  Nevertheless, I refuse to believe that after the collapse that authoritarian rule is our only option; and I am hopeful that Darwinian natural selection will result in future socio-economic systems that allow for the internalization/regulation of externalized disbenefits like anthropogenic radiative forcing.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #44 on: March 26, 2015, 09:38:51 PM »
ASLR

Hmm...I didn't think I was defending Cheney.  I was just trying to explain, as well as I can, how people in his positions think.  On a personal level I despise the man and my sisters could not stand either him or his wife.  He is ruthless to an unusual extent in American politics. But he is also an extraordinarily competent man.  For someone to come from a ranching family in Wyoming and rise to the level in the world that he did one could take that as some proof of that.  If he had been born in the Soviet Union it is quite possible that we would be talking about President Cheney and not President Putin.  He is capable at that level and far above anything President Bush ever dreamed of.  Or any other President of the US during my lifetime.  We are lucky to be rid of him.

That being said I want to go back to something again. 

If these people making the decisions on US positions are as well informed as I believe them to be, and that they have thus concluded from their knowledge of what is actually possible in the real world we live in that "there is no path to a solution", then what they are doing 'makes sense".  As long as you understand that their decisions are being made within the boundaries of what they understand are the allowable limits.  Does that make sense.  I am not sure I am getting this across and it is key to what I am trying to say. 

Everyone makes their decisions from the possible options that they perceive as their choices.  No one picks a solution that they don't already recognize as a possibility.  Different people, like yourself and Cheney, do not see the same options to choose from so you will quite possibly pick different solutions.

You are also an extraordinarily intelligent guy, but your view of the world is very different than that of someone like Cheney.  The two of you have different backgrounds, ideologies, experiences, responsibilities, and different types of intelligence.  I am pretty sure if the two of you switched positions that neither of you would be very successful in spite of those high IQ's.  We can probably make a good case that our current leaders are perhaps not the ideal set to have for making the kind of decisions they are faced with right now.  But we are kind of stuck.

There is not one leader of a country in the entire world who is not totally wedded to some form of BAU.  If you only see some form of BAU as the option of choice for moving forward, BUT your best analysis is that this will not and cannot lead to a solution where there is no collapse what do you choose to do?  The answer is that you do what is best for those 'you are responsible for'.  There is not a leader in the world for whom this answer is not the citizens of his country. 

In light of the above I am saying that the decisions they are making 'make sense', but I am not saying those decisions are 'correct".  As you know I have different ideas about what we should do.

I believe that all countries are going to try to position themselves as best they can to be able to deal with our problematic future. For Sweden what makes sense is based upon their specific circumstances.  The same is true for the US.  BAU leads inevitably to collapse.  Collapse will not be fair and it will not occur the same way or at the same level everywhere.  Some will fare far worse than others.  The goal for each leader is for his country to suffer the least possible.  I think that 'overall' that is what is going on.  They have made a determination that doubling down on our empire and controlling the most we can as long as we can, and weakening anyone who might be a threat to us going forward is the best option they have to choose from.  This option just happens to be the same option they have been exercising for the last 50 years so it is not surprising they might choose it.  It has worked for them so far (sort of). 

This choice should alarm others to some extent and I think it does.  But why we are doing this is also why most of the other major countries are doing something similar as well.  If you are strong in relative terms to the whole and you know that a big part of the whole is going to go away sometime in the mid-future it all makes sense.  Does it not?  It does not make it 'right' in a moral and ethical sense...but I seem to get little traction with those type of arguments around here...but it might make it right in a survival sense for those who start the process strongest.

Real world hard ball reality.  At the last resort you take care of your own first and those you have some use for next.  Pretty much no one else. 

Oh!   I almost forgot.  Yes I am implying that we are on a straightforward path towards totalitarian/authoritarian government.  The US is hardly a bastion of freedom already and far less free than it was 40 years ago.  So it should not be a big surprise we are heading that direction.  But I also think in our future world democracy will not exist.  I have stated before that I think we are headed towards a modern form of feudalism as the standard governing structure post collapse.  But we will likely get there through a few steps. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #45 on: March 26, 2015, 11:49:18 PM »
JimD,

Thank you very much for another very thoughtful response. 

I will say that your logic is consistent with the real world thinking that has gone on for the past 50-years (I note that LBJ was fully informed about climate change risks and he did no more than another other of the state elite) on this topic, and I concur with you that the state elites were almost certainly merely doing what they thought was necessary (including Obama).

Regarding your assessment of the inevitability of complete authoritarian rule, I note that I briefly read an interview of Bill Clinton; where he indicated that the US "upper level group" was going to continue trying the international approach (significantly COP21) for a while longer before hardening US policy more along the lines of the thinking that you have expressed.  Furthermore, I will admit that the solution to the "tragedy of the commons" was found by the feudal lord taking the commons as his private properties; so as inefficient as feudalism is/was, I will admit that it is at least a resolution to our coming situation.

That said, just because children believe that they is thinking correctly does not mean that it is a good idea if they play with snakes; and just because our current (and past) state elites think that following a BAU path (green, black, brown or otherwise) is a necessary evil does not mean that we in the blogosphere should accept this as a good idea (although maybe it does mean that we should forgive them as in: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do".  As I do not like the idea of feudalism in our future, I suggest that either we groom great statesmen like George Washington to replace our current generation of opportunistic leaders; or ala Ray Kurzweil we need to facilitate upgrading the common man.  Seen in this light the coming collapse could be an opportunity to upgrade society instead of following the ISIS example and returning to 7th century feudalism (or forming caliphates).

Best,
ASLR
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #46 on: March 27, 2015, 07:45:47 PM »
The linked article explains how the Copenhagen theory and the climate club theory may over-come some of the difficulties in getting society to fight climate change:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/upshot/how-idealism-expressed-in-concrete-steps-can-fight-climate-change.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #47 on: March 27, 2015, 10:14:32 PM »
This article states that focusing on the health benefits is a good way to gather support in the fight against climate change:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-mingle/finally-a-climate-change-_b_6925174.html
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #48 on: March 29, 2015, 05:38:25 PM »
The linked article indicates that California's economy is benefiting from its relatively aggressive climate change policies, indicating that it is a better idea fight climate change than to ignore the problem (or to promote early collapse).

http://la.streetsblog.org/2015/03/27/fighting-climate-change-is-not-hurting-ca-economy-its-contributing/

Extract: "Despite predictions that California’s climate change policies would destroy its economy, recent data seems to show that the opposite is happening."
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Re: Climate Destabilization: Tragedy of the Markets or Imperial Defence ?
« Reply #49 on: April 07, 2015, 05:25:52 PM »
Per the linked article: "…. the oil industry and its allies appear to be taking a more active and public role in a controversial campaign to seize and sell America’s national forests and public lands."   This is a coordinated effort to: "… seize control of national forests and national monuments so they can be drilled, logged, mined, or sold off to private companies."  This is very much a continuation of the type of "privatization" that Dick Cheney brought to the services side of the US military (catering, security, base construction, etc.), and is a tip of the spear of the 1%'s goals of privatizing other public infrastructure from ports, to roads, to inland waterways, to future adaptions to resist coming climate change, for which citizens will need to pay "user fees" (not taxes) in order to benefit from.  These are all examples of vulture capitalism, that accelerate when opportunistic elites see opportunities for profiteering during times of stress (& increasingly climate change induced stress).

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/04/06/3643232/berman-front-group-op-eds-on-public-lands/
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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