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CraigsIsland

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #50 on: March 25, 2014, 08:29:37 PM »
So we all want economies to succeed while preserving the environment? I think that is the ultimate goal. How we get there while establishing more wealth for developing nations without using more coal/oil and increasing ppm carbon is the better frame if I'm understanding the debate as it stands.

This is a very complex political, social and economic problem where there is much to be gained by discussion but in no way can we possibly influence policy. Or can we?

I think showing a great discussion on why certain people should act in certain ways would be for the betterment of our goal as I just described would be the aim of this discussion.

As an American we are massive consumers. I am astutely aware of any iniative for other countries to develop more dirty sources of energy. I am absolutely in favor of the developed world in dedicated resources to prevent this. Clean energy investment for research and development > military might in my opinion.

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #51 on: March 25, 2014, 08:33:23 PM »
Neven,

I agree, the transformation of society into one that is more economically equitable as well as less energy intensive is a primary requirement for the remote possibility of moving away from fossil fuels.  This means a wide-scale change in consumption/diet patterns and energy use patterns. This is why James Hansen advocates a carbon tax, he sees this as the primary force that will motivate widescale changes in consumption.

CC,

to be clear I was speaking of wealth inequality within nations, a primary issue with non-first world economies, with whom I also place America for various societal ills.  I was not speaking of developing nations.  They have a different set of issues that must also be addressed. 

However, the growth of fossil fuel emissions in developing nations can be significantly offset as an economic response to first world nations (and America) implementing wide scale policy changes away from fossil fuels and toward conservation and renewable energy generation/storage. 

There are significant ways to move forward toward a more sustainable future for developing nations. 

While not a solution, this is a good example of wide-scale potential




Jai- thanks for clearing up that you're talking about wealth inequality within nations as opposed to comparing countries. I love using gini coefficients as a way to frame any particular area in social, political and economic framing.

Neven

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #52 on: March 25, 2014, 08:41:08 PM »
So we all want economies to succeed while preserving the environment?

Personally, I want the definition of economic success to change so that we get a real chance at preserving the environment.

This is not possible if GDP growth - the current definition of economic success - gets precedence over everything, and costs associated with it get externalized. This system is actually very uneconomic and now costs more than it produces wealth.

Solving the crisis cocktail is daunting and maybe even impossible in the best case scenario, but as long as the system stays the same (whether it's BAU or called 'sustainable development'), we can forget about it.
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JimD

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #53 on: March 25, 2014, 09:05:42 PM »
jai

You have just about run through the entire set of invalid or inappropriate methods of discussion.

You have systematically ignored every point I have made (I presume because you have no answer to them?) and then turned to making up inaccurate interpretations of what I have said  and then turning to insults. 

I like good discussions and the give and take.  If the other person actually has a rational argument and bothers to listen and try to understand what is being said.  You are doing none of those things. 

The data and information are there for anyone to see and learn to understand.  I have politely tried to help you by pointing out where I can see you are mistaken in your comments.  This just seems to inflame your emotions.  It is not personal as you seem to think.  I work from the cold hard facts as much as I am capable of and have no agenda other than survival for our descendants.  I have reached the point with you that I question your motivations, your education and your honesty.  I guess we are done communicating other than I will reserve the right to refute stuff you post which makes no sense.
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jai mitchell

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #54 on: March 25, 2014, 09:12:05 PM »
Quote
Could I possibly ask the same for your estimate of timescale and resource requirements to totally rework the global energy infrastructure (while also reducing economic inequality taking into account the world, not just the US)?

You won't believe me but I will give it a shot.

1.  assume global awareness of climate change as an existential threat, understood and addressed within 2-5 years.

2.  Utilize an industrial de-carbonization strategy, including the implementation of water conservation and sustainable (ish) agricultural methods, coupled with wide-scale food consumption pattern changes.  The only possible modern analogy to this process is the U.S. world war II total resource mobilization effort, the expense of 3Xtotal GNP over the course of 5 years in additional spending and the implementation of household, community, regional and national sustainability metrics.   

time to 85% reduction of all fossil fuels = 20 years

total energy expense = 100% offset by sweeping regulatory efficiency efforts and rationing of fossil fuels over the 20 year period.

The solution to developing nations income inequality was established in the UN millennium development goals protocol.  http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml This can be implemented within a surprisingly modest cost.  I suggest we simply apply a global windfall profits tax on oil companies  ;)

Jim,

you have not shown any reasoning for even the slightest of your assumptions and your personal attacks have not been the substance of "points".  You can assert that you have made a point or two but in reality you have made only sweeping claims without even attempting to use attribution or example or even basic math to substantiate them.

we can start at the beginning if you wish.  simple show me how a single industry application, say the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles and solar off-grid housing cannot possibly be a sustainable enterprise?  This would be a good starting place.

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TerryM

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #55 on: March 25, 2014, 10:45:24 PM »
I'd advocate for a 1k - 10k yr definition for "sustainable" based on the assumption that in a thousand years technology may have changed to the point where what we now see as necessary will simply have become passe.


Ten thousand years ago a far sighted philosopher might have advocated limiting flint mining on the assumption that the resource would eventually be used up and that no other material would work as well for hewing wood, butchering mammoths or fashioning weapons. A thousand years ago similar thought may have been given to the preservation of old growth oak and spruce so that sailors in the future would be able to ply their trade.


Most of us here don't believe that a BAU world is sustainable for anything like another thousand years & few have a clear vision of what will replace the current paradigm. In a thousand years we may again be more interested in the availability of flint or obsidian than the availability of uranium.[size=78%]


 Terry[/size]

Neven

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #56 on: March 26, 2014, 12:24:38 AM »
1.  assume global awareness of climate change as an existential threat, understood and addressed within 2-5 years.

That'd be great, but I'd be very surprised if this happens. Maybe a spectacular melting season and a couple of freak storms would do the trick. But denial runs deep, and not just among deniers.

Quote
2.  Utilize an industrial de-carbonization strategy, including the implementation of water conservation and sustainable (ish) agricultural methods, coupled with wide-scale food consumption pattern changes.  The only possible modern analogy to this process is the U.S. world war II total resource mobilization effort, the expense of 3Xtotal GNP over the course of 5 years in additional spending and the implementation of household, community, regional and national sustainability metrics.

This analogy is very problematic IMO. During WW II the world was mostly empty (lots of resources), now it's full. People were much tougher back then and willing to sacrifice. There were no banks to bail, and except perhaps for the military-industrial complex, there was no large scale corporatism like we see nowadays.

I'm all for it, but when I look around me, I don't see any hands going up. Some talk, and not even that much. But definitely no hands going up.

Still, I hope you're right, Jai.
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icefest

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #57 on: March 26, 2014, 01:09:48 AM »
I've just woken up and the number of posts in this thread has almost doubled.

Regarding the timeframe for me to consider something virtually sustainable, I'll resort to the very scientific 'it depends'.

Firstly, anything longer than 1 billion years is sustainable, as sol will heat up too much to make the Earth inhabitable.

For the rest I'd tend to agree with Terry, looking back at the past (flint, native aluminium, obsidian) we can reasonably expect human resource requirements to change.

This is an example using energy.
If civilisation endures then at some point in the future there will exist some form of fusion/fast breeder reactor. The fuel sources for these, while finite, are close enough to the 1B years for me to consider them renewable. 
Therefore I'd consider an energy resource that lasts until the most distant prediction (lets say 4 St Dev past expected) to be sustainable enough.



Open other end.

jai mitchell

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #58 on: March 26, 2014, 01:13:04 AM »
Neven
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Quote
Quote
Still, I hope you're right, Jai

Thanks Neven,  It was a good #888 post, all numerology aside.  We will definitely need some divine intervention to pull this off.

I believe that the real mind that must be set is the corporate one and that this mind will be made up in Paris next year, on the cusp of another massive El Nino and a continuation of weather extremes pointing toward the fact that the IPCC has been lowballing their risk assessments for decades.
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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #59 on: March 26, 2014, 01:47:47 AM »
Quote
Could I possibly ask the same for your estimate of timescale and resource requirements to totally rework the global energy infrastructure (while also reducing economic inequality taking into account the world, not just the US)?

You won't believe me but I will give it a shot.

I try not to take things on blind belief, but it would seem a little churlish merely to assert where a debate can exist using specific details/facts (of course in this there are unknowns where one must make assumptions).

1.  assume global awareness of climate change as an existential threat, understood and addressed within 2-5 years.

I'd tend to agree with Neven - I'd be very surprised if it happened (without something so catastrophic that you can forget any question of a rational response as all efforts will be set to fighting the catastrophic event in question). The reason I think this is that it's been quite clear for some years now - arguably since 2003 (European heat wave), but you can choose any number of serious (and statistically climatically linked in many cases) events - and there just isn't that response to them. If there is a response is it weak and limited and in many cases (the US especially) easily pushed away by a single cool winter or suchlike.

Yes - there is movement - people are slowly starting to grasp that things are changing, the noises from politicians (but not yet their actual actions) are gradually changing. Right now though it just seems to me the rate of change is really very slow and widely disparate from what the scientists are saying (the climate continues to change considerably faster than public understanding of it).

However, you're calling it an assumption - which is fair enough, it isn't an assertion.

2.  Utilize an industrial de-carbonization strategy, including the implementation of water conservation and sustainable (ish) agricultural methods, coupled with wide-scale food consumption pattern changes.  The only possible modern analogy to this process is the U.S. world war II total resource mobilization effort, the expense of 3Xtotal GNP over the course of 5 years in additional spending and the implementation of household, community, regional and national sustainability metrics.   

time to 85% reduction of all fossil fuels = 20 years

20 years to rebuild the world - perhaps doable theoretically. In practice though you have fierce opposition from the socioeconomic elites and profound indifference from the masses. Let's assume it was going to happen though - how do you think it would look?

Would the government turn around one day and say to their people - we are going to tear down all the old infrastructure and rebuild new infrastructure? Who would pay people to carry out this work? What would the implied cost of energy become, and how would you preserve the economy in relation to that? Where would the energy come from to do this work? (it's hard to see how you don't have a large initial rise in emissions even if enough fossil fuel energy is actually available by then given oil already reached peak).

What do you think sustainable agriculture would look like? How are you going to change food consumption patterns? By permitting only the most wealthy to eat as they please and using prices to force the cheapest junk you can on the rest? Or by rationing and legislatively enforcing limits on a population? (fairer but in direct opposition to the free market dogma of the modern age).

It seems to me you are requiring a totally unprecedented (and to me rather improbable) transformation in how people relate to the wider world. You are requiring a world where the population of the US starts to say they care - fundamentally care - about how the people in the nations they exploit for resources live. A world where people don't burn corn in car engines even as food prices reach levels capable of triggering civil wars in some nations.

As events become increasingly more catastrophic, sure - people will respond - but why do you think they will respond with greater concern for people other than themselves and their immediate catastrophe? How will greater personal hardship make them sacrifice more for the good of another person in another land (or the future), whom they will never know? While hurricane Sandy made a bit of a mess -do you think the people whose houses were destroyed were thinking how they need to change their ways for the greater good? Or more concerned with how they would replace their houses? Was there even the hint of a thought in the rest of the population that they really ought to start making changes so that there would be less people suffering events like Sandy? I mean - beyond perhaps fleeting lip service?

we can start at the beginning if you wish.  simple show me how a single industry application, say the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles and solar off-grid housing cannot possibly be a sustainable enterprise?  This would be a good starting place.

Lithium ion battery technology? Lead acid? Or?

With most resources of course, they look more sustainable if you pick an item in isolation. For instance, if you are going to replace the worlds cars - you might require x million tonnes of iron ore (assuming a lot of recycling!). On the face of it that might seem OK - and that you can produce cars for thousands of years. Then however, you look at all the other ways that resource (iron) is used - ship building, construction, etc and the picture really starts to change.

If one takes lithium, it's a good case in point:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium#Production

Quote
There are differing opinions about the potential growth of lithium production. A 2008 study concluded that "realistically achievable lithium carbonate production will be sufficient for only a small fraction of future PHEV and EV global market requirements", that "demand from the portable electronics sector will absorb much of the planned production increases in the next decade", and that "mass production of lithium carbonate is not environmentally sound, it will cause irreparable ecological damage to ecosystems that should be protected and that LiIon propulsion is incompatible with the notion of the 'Green Car'".[46]

However, according to a 2011 study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley, the currently estimated reserve base of lithium should not be a limiting factor for large-scale battery production for electric vehicles, as the study estimated that on the order of 1 billion 40 kWh Li-based batteries could be built with current reserves.[80] Another 2011 study by researchers from the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Company found that there are sufficient lithium resources to support global demand until 2100, including the lithium required for the potential widespread use of hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles. The study estimated global lithium reserves at 39 million tons, and total demand for lithium during the 90-year period analyzed at 12–20 million tons, depending on the scenarios regarding economic growth and recycling rates.

Even if you take the optimistic argument above - that you can make 1 billion batteries - enough to totally replace the current vehicle fleet - where will you find it for your solar power storage? Or other vehicles like agricultural equipment? Do you consider even the optimistic estimates above - 2100 - sustainable? There was once a time when there was oil and gas for over 100 years ... and copper, phosphate, etc. We might have lithium - but what about our grandchildren or their children? What will they do?

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #60 on: March 26, 2014, 01:57:19 AM »
I've just woken up and the number of posts in this thread has almost doubled.

Regarding the timeframe for me to consider something virtually sustainable, I'll resort to the very scientific 'it depends'.

Firstly, anything longer than 1 billion years is sustainable, as sol will heat up too much to make the Earth inhabitable.

Fair enough. And over geological timescales some resources may well replenish that we don't traditionally view as renewable  :D

For the rest I'd tend to agree with Terry, looking back at the past (flint, native aluminium, obsidian) we can reasonably expect human resource requirements to change.

This is an example using energy.
If civilisation endures then at some point in the future there will exist some form of fusion/fast breeder reactor. The fuel sources for these, while finite, are close enough to the 1B years for me to consider them renewable. 
Therefore I'd consider an energy resource that lasts until the most distant prediction (lets say 4 St Dev past expected) to be sustainable enough.

I thought Terry had a good point too - but with the caution that if you're going to say 1-10k years, you could argue that's what just happened in the Holocene. In 1-10k years, we depleted most of our resources (just mostly at the end). I don't like the idea that it's ever OK to totally deplete anything over any timescale on the basis that there can always be other civilisations later and we shouldn't constrain them unfairly. Civilisation isn't a one shot deal after all (getting the wisdom of sustainability to transmit itself from one to the next may however be a little trickier).

A sliding time window would make more sense to me. That way you can both allow for variable levels of resource usage to an extent - but also never actually deplete anything entirely (one can argue the toss about depleting the easy ones vs the hard ones I suppose). Maybe a sliding 10ky timescale - where you always have to have enough for 10ky - that way you are forced to gradually use less and less or find a more sustainable approach to the problem.

No idea how you'd calculate it though.

The one sting in the tail here of course is that it isn't just the depletion of the resource that counts for sustainability but also the damage done by extracting and using the resource. So we still have plenty of fossil fuels left (unfortunately) - but the damage done by using them renders them unsustainable long before we actually totally deplete them.

One minor note about your fusion power - on paper - it might meet current energy demands for however long - but if history is any guide - if there is that much energy available, people will find ways to use/waste it - and consumption of energy will likely rise dramatically.

Thus even an apparently almost unlimited source of energy isn't automatically sustainable. New ways to use it up will emerge. For as long as growth is our nature - that's almost a given - to expand into the available space and resources, outcompeting each other and everything else in the process. You still have to set some constraint.

wili

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #61 on: March 26, 2014, 03:54:11 PM »
A side note--gravel is called 'aggregate' in construction circles, and, yes, there are shortages of aggregate in the US and in many other areas: http://www.recyclinginternational.com/recycling-news/7718/other-news/india/c-amp-d-plant-mitigate-039-growing-pressure-039-india-039-s-resources

But, as pointed out, the even greater threat for concrete is that its production is a huge CO2 generator, when done by conventional means, anyway.
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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #62 on: March 26, 2014, 05:33:46 PM »
A side note--gravel is called 'aggregate' in construction circles, and, yes, there are shortages of aggregate in the US and in many other areas: http://www.recyclinginternational.com/recycling-news/7718/other-news/india/c-amp-d-plant-mitigate-039-growing-pressure-039-india-039-s-resources

So... as say saying goes - the stone age didn't end because the stone ran out, but we might manage to run out of stone?  :o

wili

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Re: The HANDY study
« Reply #63 on: March 26, 2014, 07:24:06 PM »
And actually even the stone age probably ran out of the particular kind of stone needed to make their tools--flint. Most of the easily available sources had been pretty well tapped out. I'm afraid this is from memory and I don't have the time or inclination right now to track down the study, but it just shows that most assumptions we make about just about everything are sure to be at least overly simplistic.
"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."