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We can’t prevent climate change, so what should we do?

When thinking of the challenges we face in responding to climate change, it is time to admit that our political focus has been fairly narrow: limiting emissions and moving beyond carbon-based energy systems…

Climate change is coming - do we plan to just carry on regardless? AAP

When thinking of the challenges we face in responding to climate change, it is time to admit that our political focus has been fairly narrow: limiting emissions and moving beyond carbon-based energy systems. For 30 years, prevention has been the stated goal of most political efforts, from UNFCCC negotiations to the recent carbon tax.

For anyone paying attention, it is clear that such efforts have not been enough. And now we have entered a new era in the human relationship with climate change, with a variety of broad and different challenges.

From prevention to adaptation

The first of our current challenges is to admit that we will not stop climate change. Prevention is no longer an option. The natural systems that regulate climate on the planet are already changing, and ecosystems that support us are shifting under our feet.

We will be a climate-challenged society for the foreseeable future, immersed in a long age of adaptation. What we might have to adapt to, what an adapted society might look like, and how we design a strategy to get there are all open questions.

One of the hopeful signs is that, even if many national governments are not preventing climate change, there is a growing concern for adaptation at the local level.

A challenge to the dream of reason

Climate change challenges the whole enlightenment project – the dream that reason leads us to uncover truths, and those truths lead to human progress and improvement.

We imagine we live in a rational, enlightened society. In such a place, experts would identify issues to be addressed, and goals to be reached, in response to our creation of climate change. Scientific knowledge would be respected and accepted (after peer review, of course), and policy would be fashioned in response.

The reality is that we frequently have direct intervention explicitly designed to break the link between knowledge and policy; we have seen just how easy it is for power to trump and corrupt knowledge, on a global scale. In fact, organised climate change denialists, and the political figures that support them, have done more to damage the ideals of the enlightenment than any so-called postmodern theorist.

The key adaptive challenge is to rebuild a constructive relationship between scientific expertise, the public, and policy development. It may be that the necessary engagement of scientific expertise with local knowledges and interests will help rebuild some hope of human progress.

How do we play fair?

Climate change will undermine many of the ecological foundations of our ability to provide for basic needs.

Clearly, one of the key challenges is going to be how the burden is distributed, and how we respond to the vulnerability of people to climatic shifts and adjustments – from drought and floods, to health issues ranging from disease to heatstroke, to food security, to environmental migrations.

Even more challenging, however, is the reality that our emissions undermine the environments of vulnerable people elsewhere: Bangladesh, the horn of Africa, small island states, New Orleans.

And, of course, our actions now - given the delay between emissions and impact - will harm people in the future. So our responsibilities of justice now extend over vast stretches of geography and time.

That’s a lot of ethical challenges to face up to – or not. So how might we begin to address the challenges of climate justice?

Importantly, local communities can be thoroughly involved in both mapping their own vulnerabilities and designing adaptation policies. Perceptions of vulnerability will differ across stakeholder groups – indigenous peoples, farmers, and tourism managers might have a different sense of what is made vulnerable through climate change.

Local participation and deliberation – basic rights themselves - can help us to understand and determine the distinct and local environmental needs of various communities, and so plan for adaptation.

Such adaptation strategies can help to address climate justice.

Governing complexity

For all of those conspiracy theorists who think climate change is a leftist conspiratorial plot to develop a UN-based world government – you have got to be kidding. The UNFCCC represents a failure of global governance on a scale we’ve never seen before.

We may be dealing with an issue with a level of complexity that human beings are simply not capable of addressing. Climate change will certainly challenge our adaptive abilities more than anything else the species has faced.

The issue represents a different kind of problem for governments. It will demand multi-scale, widely-distributed, networked, flexible, anticipatory, and adaptive responses on the part of governments from the global down to the local. Climate change will require a radical re-thinking of the very nature of governance, and the adoption of new forms.

We need to take a long, hard look at ourselves (and nature)

But the major challenge of climate change, of course, is whether or not we are capable of changing our currently destructive relationship with the rest of nature. Key here is the reality that, in bringing climate change upon ourselves, we have demonstrated that the very construction of how we immerse ourselves in the natural world, and how we provide for our basic needs, is simply not working.

In fact, our relationship with nature is undermining the lives we’ve constructed. We imagine ourselves removed from the systems and relationships that support us, and so cause these massive disruptions in the life processes around us.

Our continued refusal to recognise ourselves as animals embedded in ecosystems has resulted in the undermining of those systems that sustain us. That’s our key problem, our central challenge.

Thankfully, there are growing examples of alternatives, and of models for adapting to a climate-challenged society. Many groups and movements are rethinking and restructuring the ways we interact with the natural world as we provide for our basic needs – around sustainable energy, local food security, and even crafting and making.

These new materialist movements offer alternative ways of relating to the nonhuman systems that sustain us, and illustrate the possibility of redesigning and restructuring our everyday lives based in our immersion in natural systems. After 30 years of failing in our response to climate change, we may yet demonstrate that human beings still have the capacity to adapt.

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  1. John Phillip
    John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grumpy Old Man

    David, don't you think your article is heavy on ideology and a bit light on practical recommendations? What actual solutions do you propose? A bit more detail or explanation re "new materialist movements" would be helpful. Cheers :)

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  2. William Bruce

    Artist

    The fact that our Carbon tax (and proposed ETS) money is not all going into Aust. Govt. owned alternative energy is proof that this is a monstrous fraud.

    Clearly, the ETS is not about climate change it's about money. If it was about CC all the money and more would be going into Renewables not some foreign "scheme".

    With regard to "climate problems", we ought "cross our bridges when we come to them", as we have done since the Stone Age.
    The predictions I have seen are that sea levels are rising by 1 or 2mm per year....this means we have 100 yrs to worry about a rise of 100mm. Seriously??... this ETS is insane.

    However, I think we ought gradually tax "bad energy" and put all this money into renewable energy. We ought develop wave power & move to Nat. Gas vehicles & not import $2 Bill of Oil every month.

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    1. Joe Horvath

      Masters student, Climate Change Adaptation

      In reply to William Bruce

      In an ideal world, it would make sense to channel all funding raised from the carbon price into alternative energy. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from ideal and our economy (and most of the western world) is underpinned by relatively cheap access to oil and coal. In addition, we've already seen how unpopular a carbon price is (albeit mostly through ignorance about what it actually means for the average person) and to introduce such a price without the compensation would be political…

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    2. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bruce

      William

      Crossing our bridges when we come to them is usually a good idea. However, occasionally we face problems where we have to cope with the cause of the problem and the consequences of the problem are a long time apart. The 'cause' bridge with Climate Change is something we are crossing now. The 'consequences' bridge is 50 years away.

      So which bridge do we focus on. If we wait for the consequences before we decide to act, we are 50 years too late. Isn't this sort of situation one where prevention is the best answer?

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    3. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Who knows for sure what will happen in 50 yrs?
      "Predictions" & "models" can be wrong....ask any Banker.

      What exactly can happen that can't be dealt with IF & when required?

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    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to William Bruce

      This response is just plain silly - and shows a complete misunderstanding of science and evidence.

      Some things are VERY predictable - for example the position of the earth in relation to the sun in 50 years - some things are completely unpredictable (in detail) - for example next weeks lotto numbers (although we can make reliable preidctions about how a population of draws will behave).

      We don't use forecast models to be "precisely" right - but to help us plan ahead and make sensible adjustments…

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    5. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "we can predict with high certainty that the range of likely outcomes will not be good"...

      Re my "apparent ignorance"....
      Ok, so why not tell us what you think exactly this "range of outcomes" is over 50 yrs?
      And what evidence you have to show this?
      And lastly, what you propose as a remedy?

      Lastly do you really believe the ETS financial "scheme" will remedy AGW when so few countries support it?

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    6. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to William Bruce

      Again this is silly and simplistic

      1) There is no single remedy - any complex problem like AGW needs a complex suite of solutions. An ETS is part of the mix and most economists agree it is a vital element to send a price signal so the "externalities" of the damage of fossil fuel use are felected in the price (which society pays anyway).

      2) Few countries support an ETS at the moment because of poltical lack of courage and the success of the fossil fuel funded denialists movement. One might…

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    7. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      More insults & "playing the man & not the ball" and still you didn't answer my question:-

      ..."why not tell us what you think exactly this "range of outcomes" is over 50 yrs?"

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    8. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to William Bruce

      Pathetic respone. If you think my rejoinders are playing the man and not the ball then you are imncapable of sustaining an evidence based logical argument.

      I don't need to to address your ignorance. You do. I;ve sent you the links. here's another. They make it clear what the range of possible outcomes will be

      https://theconversation.edu.au/state-of-the-climate-2012-5831 should be easy to read even for an apparently wilful ignoramus

      or here

      http://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?q=predicted+consequences+of+climate+change&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=Jk5fT4yTDczjrAfwxPSYBg&ved=0CCsQgQMwAA

      has some of the real meat

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    9. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      You claimed there was a range of bad outcomes we can predict with accuracy.......
      You made the claim, I simply asked you what you think they are.

      Why are you unable to do this?

      (PS If you wish to resort to insults and abuse it reflects on you not me).

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    10. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      RE "we can predict with high certainty that the range of likely outcomes will not be good"...

      Also, I neglected to note your claim above does not make sense because within the range of outcomes "predicted".....there are many good thinks manifested...
      eg increased wheat production & less heating in Europe & beyond...

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    11. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bruce

      William

      Some examples of 'what might happen' that can't be just 'dealt with'.

      The West African, South Asian and East Asian Monsoons change their patterns or become erratic and unreliable, causing major pan-region famines on a regular basis.

      Increased Ocean temperatures increase the area of 'dead zones' where oxygen levels are too low to support sea life. Ocean Acidification seriously disrupts the ability of a range of small marine organisms to form their shells - Pterapods, Foraminafera…

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    12. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      The real issue is the ETS is a massive fraud.

      Naturally with all genuine bad environmental outcomes we ought give them the wide berth ASAP.....but it has to done sensibly.
      Change can easily come from good Govt. rules which tax bad things & put ALL that money into good things.

      Change can easily come from "lifestyle changes" and better use of technology...and green energy.

      Eg We can fairly easily & inexpensively change & cut huge waste (also coal/oil waste) by using Super LED lighting, making rail fast & free, opposing "population" growth, changing diets/proteins we eat.....etc, etc. There are many ready market/tax solutions.

      The huge lie is, the ETS is not about "practical" solutions it is about MONEY scheme.....and, who gets it?

      Unless we KNOW exactly where this absolutely gigantic amount of money will go that will "do good" one can only deduce the ETS is a monster rort.

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  3. David Nutzuki

    logged in via Twitter

    Since we "can't stop" climate variation, doesn't that prove it's not man made?
    Since only a comet hit is equal to a climate crisis, why are the millions of people involved in the global scientific community not ACTING like it's the end of the world. The have doomed children too!
    IF IT'S NOT A CRISIS, IT IS NOT REAL.
    Climate change was exaggerated.
    Climate change wasn't about a changing climate; it was about CONTROLLING a changing climate by CONTROLLING the amount of CO2 in the planet Earth’s atmosphere. It was as insane as sacrificing goats to please the angry weather gods. Let history show I never believed in climate blame.

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    1. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to David Nutzuki

      Since I can't stop a speeding bullet with my bare hands, doesn't that prove my hands (which happen to be holding a smoking gun) had nothing to do with firing the shot?

      It's not the end of the world. Simply the end of the world as we know it. And unlike a comet - or a man holding a gun for that matter - which have the ability to focus our attention, the climate crisis unfolds over decades, centuries and millennia. That is part of what makes it so insidious. It is too slow to fall within the horizon of interest of a 3-5 year political cycle or 3 month business cycle.

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  4. David Nutzuki

    logged in via Twitter

    Even if climate change crisis isn't real, ask yourself this: “what could be worse, letting the fear mongering right wing neocons get back in power, or just keep telling our children they are doomed to the greenhouse gas ovens?”

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  5. paul magnus

    it consultant

    Of course the first thing on the adaptation list is.... Mitigation. We still 1st have to reduce our carbon emissions as much as possible to keep the temp as low as possible.

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  6. Michael Brown

    Professional & academic

    Joe Horvath says "sea level rises will accelerate and this is just one of the problems we can expect in the years to come". In fact real world data, as opposed to modelling, shows exactly the opposite - sea level rise is decelerating:
    http://www.jcronline.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00157.1

    Real world facts continue to undermine the CO2 hypothesis....over and over and over again.

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    1. Joe Horvath

      Masters student, Climate Change Adaptation

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Depends which real world data you are talking about. Ramstorf and Vermeer 2011 suggests otherwise and highlighted what they see as shortcomings in Houston and Dean's 2010 paper.

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    2. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Michael

      Houston & Dean? Tide gauges only, just the US coast, no compensation for isostatic rebound or decline, no compensation for local gravitational concentrations...

      Get real Michael.Profesional Academic? Act like iit.

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  7. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    You ask: “How do we play fair?” But just before saying that you have a rant about “denialists” and power and corruption of knowledge.

    But your article is discredited by this one sided, clearly ideological, rant. Why did you not admit to the dishonesty of the CAGW Alarmists, catastrophists and advocates for loony left policies (like CAGW as an excuse for social engineering)?

    You talk about ethical challenges. But made no mention the ethical challenge of giving people prosperity, health and education. That doesn’t come by wasting our wealth and prosperity on insanely irrational schemes that the loony Left continually advocate.

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  8. William Bruce

    Artist

    Mr Horvath notes "The ETS is not perfect, but it is a start to.... drive investment into ....improvements,........"

    How do we know this?...What we ought KNOW is:-

    -Exactly who gets our money & what good do we KNOW they will do with it? (The money involved in this proposed global tax on all our energy is absolutely mind blowing).
    -With this ETS scheme why will power producers make huge green energy investments when they can just put their prices up & pass on the cost? (Why also, when this…

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    1. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bruce

      Who gets our money William? Mainly, WE DO!!.

      Look at the Income tax changes that are part of the package. The Tax Free Threshold rises to 18,000$ per year!!!

      So the government imposes a Tax on some large companies, they charge us more for what they sell us so our costs go up a bit. But we pay less tax that compensates for this.

      So why do this at all?

      Because if another company can offer the same product at the same or cheaper price because they don't produce as much CO2, we will probably buy from them. So the companies that reduce the CO2 emissions in how they operate prosper.

      So by changing the nature of the market place our purchasing choices change business behaviour.

      So who benefits from this? We all do. Using our purchasing choices we can drive a needed and beneficial change. For Governments, Carbon Taxes are essentially revenue neutral.

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    2. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glenn,
      What you say can not be so because the ETS will cost our Industry money and thus make our production uncompetitive.
      People will buy cheaper imports, on with no ETS costs apply, and our Industry and Jobs will suffer.

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    3. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bruce

      William

      The ETS is only a small impact on the costs of our exporting and importing competing industries. A much much larger impace, happening right now is the high Aussie dollar. That is grinding through our E & IC industries like a mincer right now. The ETS/Carbon Tax ias small in comparison. And a number of other important trading partnest have or shortly will have them. Europe already does. China is running pilots of different ETS schemes in several cities and plans to move to a national ETS by 2015/16.

      And the point is the ETS/Carbon Tax is meant to be a roughly revenue neutral way of putting pressure on businesses to change to lower emitting methods that aren't taxed.

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    4. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glenn,
      Firstly, You must know "a small impact on costs" is life & death in commerce. The dollar is a separate issue and goes up and "down" but fixed cost stay there permanently.
      Secondly, I think some of Europe is partially in a "Europe ETS" but not all of it. The real question is how much global "bad energy" now pays into, or will ever pay into a Global ETS?

      The whole problem is the Global ETS is so obviously wide open to rorting particularly with regard to the purchase of CC's all over the…

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  9. Tim Scanlon

    Author and Scientist

    A long hard look is required.

    Dropping energy emissions from fossil fuel sources has to start now and reach zero ASAP. We have plenty of great technologies available right now that can make that happen (Wind, Hydro, Solar, I'll concede thorium reactors in some instances) not to mention the advances of other energies that just need support (Geothermal). In fact, we could have been using these energy sources for 20 odd years to limit our emissions.

    I disagree with the idea of adaptation though. Adaptation scenarios are usually a) a cop out; b) unlikely to work. The problem is that adaptation requires the technology to be available in time, yet demand for it always starts for it at the time of need. Thus there is always a lag period that we can't afford with such a big issue as climate change. We have to be envisioning future requirements so that tech can be developed early to meet needs, adaptation - in its normal phasing - doesn't work.

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  10. Hamish M

    Mechanical Engineer

    I fail to what insights this article offers such an important debate.

    "It will demand multi-scale, widely-distributed, networked, flexible, anticipatory, and adaptive responses on the part of governments from the global down to the local"

    Really, what about we 'take this offline' and 'proactivly' 'workshop it' to 'empower' the 'synergy'..........

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  11. Byron Smith
    Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

    We may be beyond the point where it is possible to limit warming to 2ºC (which is probably beyond the point of "dangerous" climate change anyway), but this doesn't mean that mitigation is still not the main game. Without mitigation, we are very likely to be heading to 4ºC+ and quite possibly 6, 7 or 8 ºC. These are very likely to be well beyond the ability of natural and human systems to adapt.

    The apparent impossibility of mitigation is a political one, and politics is the art of the possible. What is possible depends on culture and imagination as much as anything. It is still quite possible (even if unlikely) for us to experience a widespread awakening and culture shift away from high consumption lifestyles and growth economics.

    Yet it is also worth acknowledging just how unlikely this is, and to prepare ourselves emotionally for a much, much bumpier future.

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    1. Ger Groeneveld

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Not the level of 2 degrees Celsius is that importan but the speed of change. After a rise in 2 degrees, the climate model contains so many feed forward loops that changes in weather patrons will have very, very large swings making it almost impossible to have a agricultural sociey in a fixed place.

      It is not the apparent impossibility of mitigation, it is the real impossibility trying to use the same metrics to define mitigations. Like quareling who is going to sit on the rear in a car without brakes running ino a brick wall. You have to change course (define new metrics)

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    2. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Ger Groeneveld

      You're right. It is the speed of change that matters most. I had been assuming the usual timeframe (i.e. by 2100) for the numbers above.

      From my reading, I get the impression that the climate literature does indeed expect not only a warming of the global average temperature, but also an increase in the range of temperatures (both a shift and a flattening of the temperature distribution), making (a) warm extremes many times more likely than in the past and (b) bringing larger variations in experienced…

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  12. Jonathan Maddox
    Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Engineer

    Sea level rise is not the only, nor the largest, consequence of global warming.

    More concerning are ocean acidification : http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/pace-of-ocean-acidification-has-no-parallel-in-300-million-years-paper-finds/

    and the unpredictable changes in rainfall patterns that make agriculture a more marginal prospect in many places throughout the world, from the Western Australian, Russian and Indus Valley wheat belts to the Sahel and northern China.

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  13. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    Nordhaus has shown that we must take steps to abate - as the costs of failing to do so are considerable

    http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/dice_mss_072407_all.pdf
    Page 23 - "The efficient climate-change policy would be relatively inexpensive and
    have a substantial impact on long-run climate change. The net present-value
    global benefit of the optimal policy is $3.4 trillion relative to no controls. This
    total involves $2.2 trillion of abatement costs and $5.2 trillion of reduced
    climatic damages. Note that even after the optimal policy has been taken, there
    will still be substantial residual damages from climate change, which we
    estimate to be $17 trillion."

    Yet it also shows there will be BIG costs of adapting too. Alas I fear we will avoid the abatement and end up paying far more - in economic and in human terms - to adapt

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    1. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      It is often said that there are really options: mitigation, adaptation and suffering. We are going to do all three, but the precise balance remains to be seen. At the moment, mitigation comes in at by far the cheapest. If we fail to mitigate sufficiently, then we won't actually have the capacity to do a great deal of useful adaptation. Only one option will be left.

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  14. Beatriz Maturana Cossio

    logged in via Facebook

    I find the notion of ‘adapting’ to our own mistakes simplistic and somewhat irresponsible. Shouldn’t we instead be challenging the ideology that prompts such destructive behaviour?

    This article appears to suggest that governments have tried to prevent climate change for the last 30 years—but as we many would recognise this is not true. Symptomatic of the lack of efforts is that many of our politicians (currently leading us) and sections of the public are still in denial.

    Efforts to prevent…

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    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Beatriz Maturana Cossio

      Beatriz - thank you, well said. Especially that about we in the developed world bearing the highest moral responsibilty.

      We put most of the problem there and we cannot deny the right of the less developed to achieve the sort of wealth we have enjoyed - which is why exhortations to "use less" ring hollow and are inadequate (except perhaps at a local level).

      I'm not sure I entirely share your sentiments that we have system that "relies" on greed, ignorance and carelessness - but it sure as hell…

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    2. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      If the rest of the world comes to live the same lifestyle as the average citizen of the developed world, then we are all toast.

      The only path with a claim to moral responsibility lies in the pursuit of far more thoughtful development of the poorer nations that avoids the excesses of western consumerism and a widespread cultural, policy and infrastructure shift towards significantly lower levels of consumption in the developed world.

      At this stage, adaptation is indeed required, and even so, there will be increased suffering as a result of the damage already done. But to move from this observation to the implicit claim in the article - that mitigation is over - misses the very great potential for further damage on our present trajectory.

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    3. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Byron Smith

      PS By "same lifestyle", I mean "same level of consumption of material resources". It is possible to live flourishing lives of dignity without the huge excesses in which we indulge. Some ideals of the developed lifestyle (rule of law, accountable government, gender equality and so on) are obviously worth pursuing in any case, though don't require our present levels of resource exploitation.

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    4. Ger Groeneveld

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Beatriz Maturana Cossio

      Well said, and in confirmation that we need a change in metrics. Or -the same- we should measure progress with other parameters. That requires a large shift in the mindset of many.

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  15. Ken Fabian

    Mr

    Prevention of even more severe climate change is always an option even if our failures so far commit us to enduring (very likely) dangerous levels of change. Catastrophic remains something it is still possible to avoid. That won't happen unless there is widespread acceptance of the problem's seriousness and urgency and <i>that</i> won't happen as long as a significant section of mainstream politics tolerates, supports or promotes climate science denial in order to preserve the long term viability…

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    1. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Well said. Greed and fear are indeed significant factors at work, though I believe we're also facing a problem with quite a significant degree of novelty and more than a few of the behaviours, structures and assumptions we have accumulated over time do not serve us well in our present predicament.

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    2. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Byron Smith

      I suppose that confronting fear can have some nobility to it - if the fears are well founded and the response is appropriate. Greed seems less likely to provoke any appropriate actions. And the two motivations can get quite blurred when it comes to job security; like the hardworking tobacco farmer who has no intention to contribute to pain and suffering from cancer and heart disease, the hardworking coal miner has no intent to cause harm through climate change.

      Yet knowledge, acquired by human…

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    3. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Well said and I am entirely in agreement. My PhD is actually a reflection on the roles (positive and negative) of fear in ecological ethics and so you're right that there can be a certain nobility in a certain kind of - and roles for - fear.

      However - and I apologise if I've misread you - I'm not sure whether you saw my mention of "novelty" and mistook it for "nobility". My point (which I didn't really elaborate) was that while fear and greed will be powerfully present in any account of the origins…

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    4. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Bryon, I didn't misread you, just got focused on those human motivations.

      I agree that the climate problem is a novel one that has no precedents and tends to conflict with more 'orthodox' beliefs that it's beyond our human abilities to change or else divine rewards and punishments.

      Whilst I don't personally see this in religious terms I do think humanity is faced with a great test that ultimately rests on the ascendancy of our better human qualities - such as our powers of observation and…

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    5. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Byron Smith

      We have no divine guarantees but we do have everything that's required - the knowledge, the foresight, the technologies and appropriate policies ready to enact to fix things ourselves. Everything that's needed except perhaps good sense and sound judgment.

      I do wonder if, for many of the well meaning opponents of action to reduce emission - those who do so on religious as well as economic grounds - the extraordinary wealth and prosperity that exploitation of fossil fuels has delivered, relieving…

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    6. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Yes, more insightful comments here.

      "I do wonder if, for many of the well meaning opponents of action to reduce emission [...] believe [fossil fuels] are unequivocally good."
      Having talked to and worked amongst many of the people you refer to, this is very commonly the case. The power of fossil fuel energy to bring people out of poverty has been immense and so there are strong reasons for those who don't want that very important project challenged to be biased against data and theories that problematise…

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    7. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Those who take their politics or science from religious leader are another concern. I suppose politics and religion taken from scientists too, however I think science does hold a pivotal place. For religious leaders to dismiss, ignore and attack science where it appears to conflict with their beliefs isn't unexpected but for our elected representatives to do so when the expert advice is so consistent is a different matter in my opinion.

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  16. Ralph Bennett

    Geologist

    Hi David,

    As a graduate of Sydney Uni. , I feel I can speak bluntly.

    Not one word on our species controlling it's numbers......all about personal consumption levels. Reminds me of a discussion with a Wilderness Society member..

    " Numbers don't matter. With zero carbon emmisions per person, there will be no problem."

    He forgot, that we have to house and feed them.

    Also, forgot that the other species living in the last of our planet's wild areas, will be bulldozed for increased food…

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    1. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Ralph Bennett

      Ralf,
      Too, too right!
      The P word is the biggest issue by far...and I wonder if some people spend too much time reading & "believing" and not enough observing and thinking.

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    2. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to William Bruce

      The population debate is a distraction from the net 'impact' of individuals, as countless people have argued (Bob Kates, for example) and on these measures Australia does not do well. Basically, our relatively affluent population consume more and emit more carbon that most. Australia and the US do very badly on these indeces and 'population stabilisation' movements have their facts backwards. It is the total impact, not the raw numbers of people that count.
      My expertise is in the West African…

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    3. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      Simon Batterbury said:

      “Basically, our relatively affluent population consume more and emit more carbon that most. Australia and the US do very badly on these indices and 'population stabilisation' movements have their facts backwards. It is the total impact, not the raw numbers of people that count.”

      I welcome your sane advice from Africa and your experience. I accept and agree with most of this statement, I especially accept your point that the poverty and food shortages in Africa are due…

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    4. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      Well said, Dr Batterbury. I entirely agree and appreciate your insights into the African context.

      An overly simplistic focus on population numbers the function of shifting the focus (and blame) from our wasteful overconsumption onto the poorest (who generally have the highest fertility rates, for various reasons). Since these are generally the people who have contributed least to our ecological woes, but who are experiencing the brunt of their negative impacts, this is a dangerously self-justifying move to make.

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    5. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, that IPI report lacks references (making a vague mention of "UN data"), fails to distinguish between our export of agricultural goods, manufactured products and coal (some proportion of which probably ought to be *added* to our account, since we benefit financially from helping others emit), and applies special pleading from Australia's landmass (which could easily be claimed on a larger scale by the US, Canada, China, Russia and so on, and which isn't apparently factored into calculating a revised list).

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    6. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      The IPA is a one page article, not a report. And like nearly all such articles it does not contain references. But as a researcher you should have learnt how to follow a lead - unless your intention is to make silly, dismissive comments about material that does not support your ideological beliefs. That is something you have shown a propensity to do.

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    7. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Mr Lang said: "I’d also make the point that advocacy of renewable energy is not consistent with arguing to reduce consumption of resources. Renewable energy generation require in the order of then times more materials than nuclear generation on an equivalent basis".

      To me this is not smart as it "depends on the amortisation period of the investment"...if a device produces power for 1,000 yrs with no operating costs there is a point where it pays for itself and thereafter all power generated is…

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    8. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to William Bruce

      William Bruce

      You said: "To me this is not smart as it "depends on the amortisation period of the investment"...if a device produces power for 1,000 yrs with no operating costs there is a point where it pays for itself and thereafter all power generated is free (& ecologically free)."

      No. That is a misunderstanding. As I said, the comparison is on an equivalent basis. The comparison is for all the electricity generated for the complete life cycle of the plant. Wind farms, for example are assumed to have a life span of 25 years. In fact they are generally much less than that. However, even taking the 25 years life span, the original plant produces x MWh of electricity over its life. That required materials. When the wind farm reaches the end of its economic life, it is decommissioned and disposed of. A totally new one is built. Virtually nothing is reused. The emissions are embodied in each plant. As I said, the comparison is on an equivalent basis.

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    9. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter - valid and unbiased comparisons of comparable whole of life cycle embodied emissions and costs per Mwh (or equivalent) produced have been, in my search, hard to come by.

      Routtinely comparisons put forward by the anti-nukes use out of date nuclear technologies and flawed comparisons or inflated and unrealistic costs and emssions associated with mining and waste disposal and specious cost of capital calculations whereas making some often pretty heroic assumptions about utilisation etc with…

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    10. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter Lang,
      Thankyou for this insight. However, I am imagining that we ought aim to make green generation units that can basically last for centuries with very little maintenance.
      I gather you are right in saying currently wind generators last about 20-30 yrs but I imagine they could be designed with very few long lasting & easily replaceable parts, and to last a very, very long time.
      Eg perhaps the only moving parts can be as few as 2 Brushes & 2 bearings and, they can inexpensively be replaced after a lot of yrs..

      I know my old Volvo is nearly 40 yrs old and still goes fine and also Australian rural windmills which are not very sturdy I think can last 50 yrs or so, so it follows with mod. technology wind generators might be designed to last for many 100's of yrs.
      Also designed for only a small & inexpensive amount of maintenance eg just replacing bearings & brushes.

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    11. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      A meta-study of 103 life-cycle studies on nuclear's carbon footprint was done in 2008 by Sovacool. Available here:
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421508001997

      Here is the abstract:
      "This article screens 103 lifecycle studies of greenhouse gas-equivalent emissions for nuclear power plants to identify a subset of the most current, original, and transparent studies. It begins by briefly detailing the separate components of the nuclear fuel cycle before explaining the methodology…

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    12. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Byron Smith,

      There are thousands of studies, mostly (by number) by researchers and PhD students who really haven’t much of a clue but start from a position of anti-nuclear or under a supervisor who is ant-nuclear.

      Instead, I’d suggest you separate out the authoritative studies from the nonsense. Here is a summary of authoritative studies:
      http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/carbon-emissions-from-electricity-generation-just-the-numbers/

      I’d urge you to follow through the ExternE…

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    13. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Well, go ahead if that’s how you do your research. No wonder Climate science is such a sham if that's the argument for trusting any GIGO that supports your ideological beliefs.

      You didn't even bother to look at the authoritative reports listed on the short blog, did you? You'd prefer to believe an average of 103 studies many of which are of the quality of http://www.stormsmith.nl/, which you, should know, has been totally discredited – e.g. by the ISA study (although even it has emissions of…

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    14. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Byron - is there a link to the Elsevier meta-study you provided that doesn;t require a password login? I'd like to see the actual paper.

      Peter Lang has provided a link to a blog BUT it does reference credible sources and the data across the studies is consistent. So I think it is a useful and valid contribution.

      I have two concerns with the link Peter provided. One is that the data for Solar PV is more than a decade out of date. Solar PV technology has enjoyed enormous advances both in efficiency and cost reduction so these figure may well need updating. The second is thaat the figure for Wind seem "remarkably" low - and I wonder what allowance has been made for the fact that Wind frequently produces output well below it's rated capacity which makes a "lifetime" comparison more complicated.

      As I have posted elsewhere it is find to find balanced credible and up to date figures. If anyone can provide links to same I would be grateful.

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    15. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, I apologise if my reply was brief, but I was pressed for time. Let me explain.

      The reason I prefer a peer-reviewed meta-study is not that the references cited by the blog post are necessarily untrustworthy. They may well be, and are generally from credible sources. Indeed, I freely admit that this is not my area of expertise. However, they were references picked by an anonymous blogger who has not explained the reasons for selecting those studies (s/he merely says they represent "a diverse…

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    16. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Apologies - this clearly an ongoing issue with academic publishing and has received a whole series in the Conversation discussing it:
      https://theconversation.edu.au/pages/academic-journal-debate

      You could try here:
      http://www.scribd.com/doc/52177878/Valuing-the-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-nuclear-power-A-critical-survey

      Since I am using a university internet connection, I'm not sure whether that link is open access, though I suspect it is, being on Scribd.

      In case it is not, I will quote…

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    17. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Thanks Byron - appreciate your efforts - also welcome your comments on the Blog link Peter posted - I confess I hadn't considered the possible "selective" nature of the blog. Well done for doing the background research and pointing out where the data might be suspect.

      Unfortunatelty the Scribd site wants a payment if I try to download and, whilst I can read from the screen - it seems to have some technology that makes any attempt to print a scrambled mess :( I am familiar with the debate over public access to research papers - a bit of a vexed issue.

      Also appreciate your summary of some of the key points. I'll see if I can do a screen capture and print that way. If you have any more links - especially on renewable comparisons I would find it interesting reading

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    18. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Looking quickly at the other sources in your link.

      #3 Performed no original research on the footprint of nuclear fission (its focus is gas vs wind) and simply refers to a 1998 PhD that is available here:
      http://fti.neep.wisc.edu/pdf/fdm1093.pdf

      This PhD is itself not calculating fission, but focuses on fusion vs wind and cites a variety of references from the early 90s, making this data almost twenty years old.

      #4 Is 17 years old, is based on data that is 20 years old (and so massively…

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    19. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Why did you ignore the ones I pointed you to? Bias? Or just a silly excuse to dismiss what you don't want to read?

      Does it strike you as odd that the paper you believe has far higher emissions from nuclear than from what you say the more recent studies? We know the emissions are less from the modern plants? Do you question anything you read or just accept what suits your beliefs?

      I'd urge you to spend time studying the ExternE, UK report for the figures and the British Energy Environment Product Declaration for what is included in the life cysle analysis - because you clearly don't unbderstand what you are doing - and clearly are not cpable of separating what you want to beleive from the facts.

      PhD candidate? wow, is that where we've got to!!

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    20. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Your comments ia load of absolute nonsense. Did you even look at the site or look at the previous post where the data was explained in detail, he'd been asked to summarise "just the numbers" and that is the link I pointed you to. Your research skills are clearly next to zero. You are clearly driven by your biases.

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    21. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Read the critiques. Go to to BNC for one.

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    22. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Byron and Mark,

      Your responses here show how biased and pathetic you are. You won’t look at what are accepted as the authoritative reports on life cycle CO2 emissions from electricity generations sources because, you say, they are summarised on a web site. You wont look at the ExternE study because it’s posted on a web site but are happy to refer people to summaries and extracts from IPCC AR4 and other climate alarmist documents.

      It’s no wonder the climate alarmists are losing any shred of credibility.

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    23. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      You only have to take a glance at the tables to see the bias in this analysis. They’ve included the studies with high estimates and dismissed the many studies they do not like for one reason or another. The Storm and van Leeuwen studies, for example, are included three times yet this work was not peer reviewed and was debunked years ago, including by the ISA study. It is well explained in the UK report for parliament. Only the UK contribution to the ExternE is study is included. Why aren’t the…

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    24. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Mark and Byron,

      Before you make any more posts on this subject – and before your reveal any more of you alarmist bias, lack of objectivity and lack of research skills – I urge you to get some background on this matter. I’d urge you to study these reports in this order:

      ExternE (2005) http://www.externe.info/

      ExternE (2003) “External Costs - Electricity and transport”
      http://www.externe.info/externpr.pdf

      NEEDS (2007)
      http://www.needs-project.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

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    25. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, a quick glance would help you to see that I responded first and at a little more length to the first two references (which you suggested I try). Due to the arrangement of comments on The Conversation threads, these comments appear below my comments for ##3-9. Thanks for noticing and retracting your insults.

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    26. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Unlike you, I am not an expert and don't know which reports are likely to be biased simply by reading the titles. I note that the problems with the Storm & van Leeuwen studies are discussed in the article and the conclusions are rejected.

      If you think this piece is obviously flawed (and it may well be), then of course you are welcome to submit a paper to the relevant journal(s) to point this out and improve upon it.

      My comment was merely that I would take this publication (with its conclusion…

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    27. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Byron,

      It’s not slander. Its pointing out the obvious. Your research is not objective. You clearly look for what supports your beliefs, post it then defend it (even down to excuses like “I am not an expert, so how would I know”. Exactly, and that applies to your beliefs in CAGW too).

      Your response is a very good example of the bias continually demonstrated by the CAGW alarmists/exaggerators/catastrophists. It’s why people in droves are walking away from the VAGW religion.

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    28. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Byron,

      “If you think this piece is obviously flawed (and it may well be), then of course you are welcome to submit a paper to the relevant journal(s) to point this out and improve upon it.”

      What a cop out. Pathetic. Read the critiques. Learn how to do objective research. Read the authoritative reports – surely as a PhD candidate you must realise you would need to gain these skills – or is that not necessary in the discipline you are studying?

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    29. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Byron,

      Comparative studies into life cycle CO2 emissions from competing electricity generating technologies have been going on since the 1980s. The figures from the authoritative studies have changed little in the past 30 years, other than to come down as we move from diffusion to centrifuge enrichment. Outlier studies like you want to believe and are advocating are just from biased researchers. It highlights one of the major problems with the peer review process that such a study can get through…

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    30. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      I have not seen and can't find where your commented on the first two references. However, it doesn't matter. I provided those references so you could read them and learn - not so you could do a quick scan to see what reason you could find to justify dismissing them. If you want to know something about the subject, then do some objective research. If you don’t, and I now know that you do not, then it is clear that your advocacy for CAGW is just as biased, just as ill founded, and just as dishonest. And most CAGW alarmists are in exactly the same boat as you. They have a religious like belief. They are zealots. They have a belief in a cause and have no more understanding of it than you do.

      The more you try to defend your incompetent, biased research methods, the more damage you do to not only yourself but to the whole CAGW scam, the alarmists, to peer review process and to the so called “climate science” – which is looking more like theology than science.

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    31. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Peter Lang

      To trust the latter is hard - even if stalwart environmental thinkers like Monbiot have now turned to nuclear solutions, out of dispair that the greedy capitalist world will never wake up in time. Although I love the prospect of renewable energy , I am disappointed with the level of commitment to that research in Australia. It shoudl be developed, alongside a more caring attitude towards migration and rights, as already discussed. A lot of the arguments seem to revolve around 'cost' of emissions…

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    32. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      Sorry, lost the first part of that post, which was about a lack of objectivity in anybody calling climate science a "sham" and denigrating global warming "catastrophists" in several postings.

      "The latter" above refers to the Barry Brook type of promethean environmentalists who think we can somehow keep modern society going with engineering solutions.

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    33. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Simon Batterbury

      Simon - the problem I have with the "consume less" argument is that it seems awefully western centric and middle class. Yes, we in the industrialised natiosn should consumer less. But how do you tell that the poor developing nations and the significant proportion of the worl'd population who don;t even have transport and electricity?

      There needs to be a suite of solutions that provides relatively low cost energy that is also low grennhouse gas emissions intensive. Because energy is freedom. Without energy people have to spend an enormous portion of their lives just attending to the basics of subsistence. Of course low cost energy alone won;t solve the problems of the worl'ds poor and underddevelop nartions. But without it no solutions will work.

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    34. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Those in absolute poverty may need to consume more. Their development ought to follow paths of lower ecological impact as far as possible. This, however, only places more weight on the importance of reducing consumption in rich countries, since we need to make room for those in absolute poverty to meet their basic needs and live more flourishing lives.

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  17. Max Günther

    logged in via Facebook

    44 comments on this - that gives hope!

    I believe that we can find a lot of happiness in a much simpler life, lived with respect for nature.
    I certainly enjoy nothing more in my life than being outside and making responsible decisions in every day's life. Because if you think about it almost everything we do now a days has a more or less bad impact on the environment...

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  18. Daryl Deal

    retired

    • When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
    ~ Cree Prophecy

    • Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
    ~ Ancient American Indian Proverb

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  19. Ralph Bennett

    Geologist

    Simon Batterbury, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the Office for Environmental Programs (the interdisciplinary Master of Environment program, 300 students), University of Melbourne....wrote :

    " population debate is a distraction from the net 'impact' of individuals...., 'population stabilisation' movements have their facts backwards. It is the total impact, not the raw numbers of people that count."

    Simon, I don't think maths was your best subject in the UK…

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    1. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Ralph Bennett

      Turns out, I now see, that much of the population debate was covered on the Conversation in May last year in a series of articles. Including IPAT and many other issues totalling thousands of words. See the discussion on this one for example for how unpleasant the stale population debate gets. https://theconversation.edu.au/a-country-in-search-of-a-policy-the-case-for-an-australian-population-target-1293

      The point of IPAT, which his a pretty old idea and has been amended and challenged, is to…

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  20. Ralph Bennett

    Geologist

    Simon Batterbury

    Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

    wrote:

    ".......sparsely populated Australia where T innovation is available in abundance. ................ we have the ability to meet those expenditures and should. We already are doing so.
    A country is not a closed system where 'stability' could ever exist - population like anything else is dynamic and 'stabilisation' is a fantasy...."

    Simon,

    Firstly,

    Sparsely populated means two things.

    1. Huge capital infrastructure…

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    1. Simon Batterbury

      Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Ralph Bennett

      Here is a report and online cyberseminar coming up of of interest. PERN is the population-environment research network. (disclosure - I was on the Board until December)

      " In anticipation of Rio+20, PERN is pleased to announce a cyberseminar entitled "Bringing the Population-Sustainable Development Debate to a Higher Level", from 7-14 May 2012, organized jointly with IIASA in Laxenburg, Austria, and The Royal Society in London, UK.

      This cyberseminar brings together two allied efforts to bring…

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  21. Ralph Bennett

    Geologist

    Simon Batterbury commented:

    "..... 'catastrophists'...... refers to the Barry Brook type of promethean environmentalists who think we can somehow keep modern society going with engineering solutions. "

    Simon,

    There is, social architectural design.

    The question is , what is the best design for the desired outcomes of environmental, social and economic outcomes ?

    Regards,

    Ralph

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Ralph Bennett

      But surely, Ralph, that is just [asrt of loony left ideological belief. Only a few die hrds still believe such nonsense, eh?

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  22. David Elson

    logged in via Facebook

    Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

    Fortunately there are a number of ready engineering solutions to the problems posed by climate change that can be implemented within a few decades.

    * Nuclear power to provide emission free baseline power to the grid.
    * Sea walls and use of land reclamation techniques to counter any sea level rises.
    * Upgrading of existing dams and creation of new dams for flood water control during heavy rain cycles and to provide increased water storage for times of drought.
    * Ending subsidies for large engined Australian cars.

    The ETS is just a mechanism for financial rent seekers to profit from the fears around climate change.

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    1. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to David Elson

      • Nuclear power is low carbon but not entirely emission free (same for renewables, of course). Either are many, many times better than coal for emissions.
      • Sea walls are important, but likely insufficient (or rather prohibitively expensive) in many areas. Check out this recent piece on the situation in Florida. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/22/2708552/rising-sea-levels-imperil-our.html
      • Dams are often a mixed blessing and come with a high ecological price. This is especially true in lower latitudes where evaporation rates are higher. This isn't to say all dams are without merit, simply to point out that more dams doesn't always mean better outcomes.
      • No argument with ending pointless subsidies.

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    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to David Elson

      Spot on. Excellent comment. But why can't the Left understand this.

      We have people doing PhD's on ethics and religion, without a clue about engineering and how we adapt to changes, propogating their baseless ideological beliefs.

      David Ellison, you said "Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease."

      And that is the point. I understand no one has done an impartial, objective, reliable analysis of the net costs and benefits of "adation", "no regrets" and "mitigation" policies.

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    3. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      What silliness. Australia has had an effective ban on building dams for the past 30 odd yeasrs while the loony Left have been holding sway. So we've builtr multi billion dollar desalination plants in each of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. All are powered by coal fired power plants. All are now idle. Some are mothballed. But we are still paying enormous amounts for them. It will take 100 years to pay off the one in Adelaide, but it has a life of perhaps 40 years. Lefties talk about "high costs" and "high ecological price" without the slightest clue about what they are talking.

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  23. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    The best radiation level for life on earth is higher than we have now. The Best CO2 level for life on earth is higher than we have now. The best temperature level for life on earth is, well, that depends on where you live and what you want to do. It is very clear that more like it hot than cold. Compare the population in Alaska to Mexico. When the earth warms, people expand northward. When the earth cools, people die.

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/03/21/nuclear-power-discussion-thread/#comment-187228

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    1. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Peter Lang

      "The Best CO2 level for life on earth is higher than we have now."
      That may be true, depending how you measure best. However, it is not true for human life, far less for human society, which has adapted very extensively (and expensively) to the relatively stable climate of the holocene and has never before faced climate changes of the scale and pace we are moving into.

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    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Emotive, alarmist.

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    3. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Buy a beach house in Antarctica if your so concerned. You might get rich on the rising property values!

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  24. Ralph Bennett

    Geologist

    Peter Lang commented:
    "What silliness. Australia has had an effective ban on building dams for the past 30 odd years, while the loony Left have been holding sway."

    Peter,
    You can't build more dams without wrecking biodiversity and covering farmland.

    We have hit and overshot the limits.

    Time to stabilise the population.

    "70,000 out.....70,000 in and abolish the baby bonus.

    Cheers,

    Ralph

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  25. Ralph Bennett

    Geologist

    Peter Lang commented:
    "But surely, Ralph, that is just [asrt of loony left ideological belief. Only a few die hrds still believe such nonsense, eh?"

    Just sound rational design Peter, rather than wishful thinking.

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