From Climate Adam.
And don’t forget to check out the excellent notes at the YouTube under “More“.
Climate change is a global threat requiring global action, so it’s essential that the U.S. join, and preferably guide, worldwide cooperative efforts. Among Biden’s first acts should be notifying the United Nations that the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Agreement — a global framework for carbon abatement, advanced by the U.S. and then abandoned by Donald Trump. Its targets need to be made more ambitious, and the U.S. should lead not by exhortation but by example.
An ambitious target for clean power is crucial, and a fast transition is feasible. The cost of clean energy from sources such as wind and solar has fallen dramatically and is still falling. In many cases, clean power is already cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels, even without taking its huge environmental and health benefits into account. Hydrogen, a storable fuel, is poised to become the next significant clean power source. Battery technology is improving all the time. And with new and better energy infrastructure, the U.S. can build a smart power grid. Clean power is within reach.
Potential conflicts of interest: The author of this blog post, Moderator of this blog, supported Michael Bloomberg for President in the 2020 Democratic Primary, has long admired Mr Bloomberg due to his deep work on many climate-related initiatives, like the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, founded by Mr Bloomberg, Mark Carney and others, and is a subscriber to Bloomberg News, and has long followed Bloomberg Green.
Consumer, Employment, and Environmental Benefits of Electricity Transmission Expansion in the Eastern United States
If local towns and neighborhoods continue to oppose decentralized zero Carbon energy, whether solar ground mounts or utility scale solar farms or wind turbines, we’re going to need more transmission, much more transmission.
Opponents to decentralized solar generation are either unfamiliar with the facts (see report linked just above, or list below), or are disingenuous, offering defense of local stands of trees, hiking paths, wildlife, and natural settings as what they perceive to be more acceptable reasons for opposition than deeper ones, such as worry about home and neighborhood devaluation.
From The Hill:
The Trump administration auctioned off oil and gas rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for the first time ever Wednesday, selling off 1.6 million acres along the coast to primarily one major buyer: the state of Alaska.
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) won nearly every bid, a sign that oil companies were largely uninterested in developing the pristine wildlife refuge as many major banks have refused to provide financial backing and public support for the projects has diminished.
The sale raised just $14.4 million dollars, roughly $27 per acre. That figure is far below the billion dollars the 2017 bill projected the government would earn alongside a second sale. Only half the acres up for sale received bids, which were submitted by only three companies.
Jonathan Groff as George III, from Hamilton
“Armed violent protestors who support the baseless claim by outgoing President Trump that he somehow won an election that he overwhelmingly lost have stormed the U.S. Capitol today, attacking police officers and first responders, because Trump refused to accept defeat in a free and fair election. Throughout this whole disgusting episode, Trump has been cheered on by members of his own party, adding fuel to the distrust that has enflamed violent anger. This is not law and order. This is chaos. It is mob rule. It is dangerous. This is sedition and should be treated as such. The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy. Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit. Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy.
This is not the vision of America that manufacturers believe in and work so hard to defend. Across America today, millions of manufacturing workers are helping our nation fight the deadly pandemic that has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives. We are trying to rebuild an economy and save and rebuild lives. But none of that will matter if our leaders refuse to fend off this attack on America and our democracy — because our very system of government, which underpins our very way of life, will crumble.”
Future updates will be made in separate blog posts. These will all link back here.
On 29th November 2020, I began and committed to a long term longitudinal survey of four botanical sites near my home, a survey of some bryophytes, lichens, and a few individuals of Lycopodium obscurum. The purpose is to record the life cycle of these patches and individuals at a relatively frequent rate, roughly a week apart, and to begin a compendium of observations which may serve for phenological study.
I welcome comments and questions from students, experts, and fellow bryophyte enthusiasts!
While mosses and lichens are not typically chosen as subjects for phenology, e.g., the National Phenology Network hasn’t any bryophytes or lichens among its index subjects, this is precisely why beginning such a project is attractive. Moreover, there is supporting literature, e.g.,
Gignac, L. Dennis. "Bryophytes as indicators of climate change." The bryologist 104, no. 3 (2001): 410-420.
Tuba, Zoltán, Nancy G. Slack, and Lloyd R. Stark, eds. Bryophyte ecology and climate change. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
The sites themselves are depicted on this map:
There are 5 subsites or patches at Site 1, 4 subsites at Site 2, 5 subsites at Site 3, and 4 subsites at Site 4. Sites 1, 3, and 4 are wet environs, with Site 3 actually being a running stream. Site 2 is a bank adjacent to a building. Three of the Sites are within the Hale Reservation. While the Sites are excellent and interesting, weather and programming at Hale may constrain sampling during certain seasons. Site 3 can flood. All Sites could be snow-covered. Hale Reservation serves as a children’s Summer camp from June-September and, so, imposes understandable restrictions on outsider visits. These are standard problems for field surveys.
I am working to obtain written permissions from Hale, but, before I do, I want to amass a corpus of data to establish commitment and minimal expertise. I’m writing to Hale Reservation to share this information shortly.
In general, bryophytes and lichens demand microscopic examination to permit keying to species level, so physical samples are required at the outset. However, thereafter, the means of survey is photographic, primarily through macrophotography using a Google Pixel 2 and the Manual Camera DSLR Pro software app, V1.11 (12) made by Lenses Inc. The maximum photo resolution on the Google Pixel 2 is 12.2 megapixels, 4032×3024. The video resolution is 3840×2160 (4K). I typically use it in Macro Focus mode.
I have three Bausch & Lomb Hastings Triplets, a 10X, a 14X, and a 20X. (I’ve had the 10X since my Botany course in 1973!) These are useful both in field work and at home.
I have learned that for field work, a bright light source is crucial, so carry a Fenix HM50R head-mountable lamp powered by a Li-On rechargeable battery.
I also use two microscopes:
- Steindorff Shop Scope Portable Microscope, with 20X and 100X front magnifiers
- Carson MP-250 MicroFlip, 100x – 250x LED and UV Lighted Pocket Microscope with Flip Down Slide Base
I also use two camera adapters for these:
- Smartphone Adapter Clip for the Carson MP-250
- Snapzoom Universal Digiscoping Adapter
I previously tried a Carson HookUpz 2.0 Smartphone Optics Adapter, but I wasn’t happy with the results it produced. It was difficult to keep the camera aligned with the boresight of the microscope.
The primary records are photographs of specimens kept in Google Photos Albums. Accompanying these is a spreadsheet chronicling visits to sites and recording specific photos of specimens and subjects, as well as timestamps and metadata describing the encounters. For example, snow cover doesn’t inhibit a survey visit, but is documented with a photograph of the area, and a timestamp recording the visit. There is also a “snow covered” attribute. There is also a “flooded” attribute.
Note that the spreadsheet is in the Apache OpenOffice ods format, not a Microsoft xlsx format.
Backing the photographs and spreadsheet up with notes and organization is a handwritten notebook, a hardcover medium (145 mm by 210 mm) Leuchtturm1917 lined notebook. Whereas it is my intent to place the spreadsheet and photographs as open as I can, I don’t know what I’m going to do with the notebook.
Indeed, eventually, I hope to be able to put the survey in a database form where it can be accessed by date, site, and genus of specimen, and all information and materials pertaining to these made public. Right now, the photographs are still in publicly accessible Google Photo Albums (see below) and the spreadsheet is separate.
Many of the genus and species classification slots are still empty. I’m determined to classify mosses to the species, and doing so can be difficult without microscopic examination, e.g., of alar cells. In addition, and in full transparency, I haven’t done moss classification since I took Botany in college, and, even then, mosses were not the primary subjects of interest. Accordingly, my classification productivity is low. Yet having proper classification is essential to the project.
Classifications are done, except that I failed to snag a sample of one of the mosses at Site 1, Sample B. Accordingly, I have designated the Sphagnum Sample B1 and updated the spreadsheet accordingly, and will designate the dominate moss this photo B2:
I have added another specimen on the same log as Site 1, sample A, yet to be classified. What was previously Site 1, sample A is now designated Site 1, sample A1 and the new specimen is Site 1, sample A2.
Site 4 now has a Site 4, sample E which is most probably Dicranum montanum (Pope, 2016, pp. 121, 126; Jenkins, 2020, p. 72):
The last classification, a Sphagnum at Site 3, sample C I called Sphagnum papillosum based upon 100x examination of a leaf, and comparison with Professor Ralf Wagner’s atlas.
My photomicrograph of the leaf:
This is taken at 100X with the Steindorff, using a Google Pixel 2 through the lens.
My only concern is that the cells from this specimen seem too large compared with Prof Wagner’s. I need to recheck the calibration of my in field vernier.
The sizes are comparable to those recorded at Professor Wagner’s site.
|Magnification||One Major Tick||One Minor Tick|
|20X||slightly less than 0.5 mm (500 µm)||slightly less than 0.05 mm (50µm)|
|100X||0.1 mm (100 µm)||0.01 mm (10µm)|
This is taken at 100X with the Steindorff, using a Google Pixel 2 through the lens.
My primary references and keys are:
Pope, Ralph. Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts: A Field Guide to Common Bryophytes of the Northeast. Comstock Publishing Associates, a division of Cornell University Press, 2016.
Jenkins, Jerry. Mosses of the Northern Forest: A Photographic Guide. Comstock Publishing Associates, a division of Cornell University Press, 2020.
McMullin, Troy, and Frances Anderson. Common Lichens of Northeastern North America: A Field Guide. New York Botanical Press, 2014.
Marshall, Nina Lovering. Mosses and lichens: a popular guide to the identification and study of our commoner mosses and lichens, their uses, and methods of preserving. Vol. 14. Doubleday, Page, 1919.
Kokko, Hanna. Modelling for field biologists and other interesting people. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Tuba, Zoltán, Nancy G. Slack, and Lloyd R. Stark, eds. Bryophyte ecology and climate change. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Yodzis, Peter. Competition for space and the structure of ecological communities. Vol. 25. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York, 1978.
In addition there are online guides at:
- “Bryophytes“, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
- Online digital atlas and companion to Mosses of the Northern Forest
- Bryophyte flora of North America
- Consortium of North American Bryophyte Herbaria
- Google searches by genus, as this example
- Glosary of Botanical Terms
I’m trying my best to classify. But as the experts in these keys suggest, many of the categories of moss, particularly Sphagnum, are plastic, and variations among instances of a species make it sometimes difficult to distinguish. See in particular Ralph Pope’s comments in the introductory sections of his book.
The albums are organized by Site, and the metadata accompanying each photograph gives the date and time of capture, and the location. Also, in most instances, the location geographic coordinates and the compass heading of the photo capture are stamped on the image itself. Occasionally when GPS is not available, such locations are absent.
Here are the links to the Albums:
And here are the subsites or patches, depicted as photos:
Here’s what it looks like on one of our Hemlock trees.
Of note is that Finzi, et al (2020) found that the Hemlock subforest of the Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research site became a CO2 source rather than a CO2 after its Adelges infestation.
NEP in hemlock-dominated forests averaged until infestation by the hemlock [W]oolly [A]delgid turned these stands into a net C source.
Finzi, Adrien C., Marc‐André Giasson, Audrey A. Barker Plotkin, John D. Aber, Emery R. Boose, Eric A. Davidson, Michael C. Dietze et al. "Carbon budget of the Harvard Forest Long‐Term Ecological Research site: pattern, process, and response to global change." Ecological Monographs 90, no. 4 (2020): e01423.
Want to save New England forests? Stop emitting CO2 and build solar farms, even if there’s some forest loss! And harm to forests isn’t the only byproduct. People spray Hemlocks to control this beastie, and the solutions are not good for wetlands.
There is a Web site for the current book, and a preview of changes.
Everybody’s Got the Blues
From The Canettes Blues Band at The LHC.
And let’s not forget climate scientists in Chicago:
As I’ve noted elsewhere and the COVID Tracking Project reminds, sourcing cases, deaths, positive test rate, and hospitalization data is tricky.
COVIDcast is another group doing real time assessment of the state of the pandemic in the United States, one which I highly respect.
Among other projects I support this year, post-retirement is
Why? Because with all the emphasis upon SARS-CoV-2, biopharmaceuticals, and mitigating climate disruption, which are all important, observational astronomy doesn’t get enough love. And this is an astronomy which isn’t using ordinary modalities to find and study systems far away.
On August 12, 2010, the first discovery by Einstein@Home of a previously undetected radio pulsar J2007+2722, found in data from the Arecibo Observatory, was published in Science. The project had discovered 55 radio pulsars as of September 2020.
As of September 2020, Einstein@Home has discovered 25 previously unknown gamma-ray sources in data from the Large Area Telescope on board the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The Einstein@Home search makes use of novel and more efficient data-analysis methods and discovered pulsars missed in other analyses of the same data.
Planning to do more on astrostatistics in the future, by the way.
This is enabled by the most excellent BOINC Project.
Sunday’s Boston Globe had a lead article about the demise of opposition to the Weymouth natural gas compressor station, defeated by Commonwealth and federal support for its operation. Many people I know protested that scourge of Weymouth and the Commonwealth, and I understand their downheartedness that its operation is approved, even after suffering two technical fails in trials.
But, frankly, after the approval of the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline despite protests, in which I took part, it was pretty clear the only way to stop these projects was:
- Make them redundant.
- Make them expensive.
- Make them shown to be harmful in comparison with alternatives.
- Stop using natural gas.
In other words, natural gas needs to fail in the marketplace because it is no longer the cheapest source for any use, electricity, heat, manufacturing. But that demands there be an alternative. This alternative is aligned with what Massachusetts leadership, both executive and legislative, claim they want to do, and that is electrify everything and then generate the electricity using 100% Carbon-free sources.
Accordingly, all those who oppose the Weymouth compressor, and natural gas in Massachusetts, whether its pipelines or its generation plants, ought to line up and support the building of utility-scale solar and wind farms wherever they are feasible and the owner of the land is amenable. Unfortunately, people cannot have it both ways. If natural gas is to be eliminated as a risk to health, safety, and climate, it needs to be replaced. Zero Carbon energy is more land intensive at the consumption end because its efficiency, in part, derives from being generated close to consumption. (Overall, Zero Carbon energy is less land intensive, and I have documentation of that, but I won’t share it here. Ask in the comments.) So, to oppose a solar generation plan in Westwood or Walpole is, I’m afraid, a vote in favor of natural gas and the Weymouth compressor.
Now, I know there’ll be trees cut and I have recently spent a lot of time addressing that trade-off. But trees will be cut and drowned for hydropower from Quebec, both there and in Maine. And our collective lack of stewardship of damage to Earth and its ecosystems has happened because we have neglected our responsibility. It is not going to fix itself because of the degree of damage we’ve done. Anyone who argues we just need to walk away and let it take care of itself (a) doesn’t appreciate the scale of the destruction we’ve wrought on natural systems, and (b) doesn’t understand how ecosystems operate. And I suspect, directly or indirectly, some of these groups are receiving funding from sources like those who indirectly funded opposition to Cape Wind on Cape Cod, in Barnstable. There the Koch Brothers reimbursed all legal expenses of the county to fight Cape Wind.
Accordingly, if you don’t want natural gas, go out to public hearings, go out and demonstrate against groups like the Walpole Preservation Alliance. If they don’t want natural gas, they sure act like they do. And their choices and opposition will, if successful, see more natural gas in Massachusetts, even if its citizens will eventually need to pay, through taxes, to reimburse its owners and operators to shut it down.
I linked to Rebekah Jones‘ keynote address at the August 2020 Data Science Conference on COVID-19 sponsored by the National Institute for Statistical Science. Below is a song in tribute to her, wishing her well.
Reacting to new HHS Covid19 hospital reporting guidance, the ASA signs letter with 100 organizations urging the administration “not to advance the new data collection plan any further and instead consult with the public health and healthcare communities to discuss effective strategies for ensuring the availability of the data we all need and want to bring the pandemic under control in the U.S.”
ASA signs onto letter to Vice President Mike Pence saying “it is vital that we lead with science and with the best data available” and objecting “to any attempt to cast doubt on science and sow mistrust for public health expertise, and to spread misinformation during this challenging time for all Americans”
My comments at the ASA Community alerting it to the violent raid on Rebekah Jones’ home:
I first saw this in today’s Briefing of news from the science journal, Nature.
There are several details available from local news sources, including video. Some of them have partial paywalls. As a consequence, A synopsis says the warrant is based upon a Comcast IP address being traced to Jones’ home. The warrant claims it was used to post an anonymous “mysterious” message at Florida’s emergency public health and medical coordination team. The IP address was, in some manner, associated with this message but officials are not making the connection because they claim to be protecting someone’s personally identifying information. The warrant has more information, including that the IP address is an IPv6 address.
Indeed, the only want to definitively tie this IPv6 address to a particular geographic location is with Comcast’s cooperation, using their logs from the time of the incident on 10th November 2020. That’s because IP addresses are volatile, particularly IPv6 addresses. Indeed, Comcast says they only retain logs for 180 days.
Update, 13th December 2020
- I don’t really know if it’s really the proprietor of False Progress, since they are not properly identifying themselves, even by a permanent email address: email@example.com doesn’t work any longer so must be one of those throwaway email addresses. But I am assuming it is the same person since they haven’t given me anything else to go on. According, as inconsistent as the comment they made is with the position, the proprietor of False Progress has supported nuclear power here and there. So I assume here the commenter does, too.
(And if they don’t really, tough.)
- They did not really comment at the appropriate location, possibly because they were responding directly to a YouTube video at my channel on the same subject linked from that blog post. Instead they replied at a form on my About page.
- I took Moderator’s License and moved the in-fact comment from the form to the appropriate location.
I’ll break it down and respond, but here, for easy reference, is the entirety of the comment:
Segment from “Choices.” https://youtu.be/4ZM3EMRQnQI?t=1659 Sure, let’s axe more trees to sequester carbon, since crude old nature doesn’t do it fast enough to fix blunders by the same mindset that cleared so much land in the first place. This photo sums up that vision: https://imgur.com/a/IMNKFOs (cut, build, repeat…) Man must right old wrongs by committing more of them, eh? Part of your conscience must know that nature can’t be tricked indefinitely. It’s already being engineered to death to “create jobs” and such. I suggest taking a break from number-crunching and reading about environmental ethics and the problem with endless techno-fixes. This is no casual statement. You’re clearly no dummy, just too detached from your natural origins to see the real problem. https://newsociety.com/books/t/techno-fix
Yeahhhhhhhhhhh Well, at least it’ll give me a chance to explicate.
First off, let’s have a look at “natural origins”. It connotes to me a quasi-religious philosophical position. Maybe not. Maybe “natural law”? ‘Guess not. So, let’s look at “natural”. Ah, now there’s something.
Fact is, in my experience, when most people use the word “natural” they actually mean “human”. And, in particular, with respect to an experience of the natural world the perspective is incredibly anthropocentric. Most people don’t really want the natural world as it is, they want the natural world as they’ve experienced it. So, they’d rather not have ticks and mosquitos and bee stings or skunk sprays. They’d rather not get bitten by sharks off Wellfleet or Cape Cod Natural Seashore. And they’d rather not see The Natural Familiar change.
But change it does, all on its own, and often in response to being nudged by people.
This isn’t first and foremost because, well, most people, or at least the ones who urge “nature can’t be tricked indefinitely … environmental ethics and the problem with endless techno-fixes”, don’t actually know a lot about how the natural world works. (I don’t like using the term Nature. Why is a different blog post.) Keeping in tune with how the biological world works is one of the reasons I study a part of sessile biology which is quite different to human scale experience, Mosses and Lichens:
Bryophytes are not just tiny versions of larger vascular plants. They have very different physical characteristics, and they solve many of life’s problems differently from the vascular plants that dominate life on Earth.
Bryophytes are small, and small size has allowed them to colonize a great diversity of habitats throughout the globe. Don’t allow their small size to fool you into thinking they are evolutionary failures. Their body plan and lifestyle have suited them well, allowing them to survive for more than 400 million years with apparently minor changes. Approximately 20,000 bryophyte species are known worldwide, and in much of the Arctic, they are the dominant life form.
In comparison, humanity as a species is on an early test flight, and it may not make it.
Second, how did we get into the Great Mess we are presently in?
Sure, it’s possible to blame “capitalism” or “technology” or “greed” or “economics” or “immorality” or “too much money in politics” or “the U.S. Constitution”. But, from a biological perspective it’s really quite simple. The unassisted carrying capacity for Earth of people is about one to two billion individuals tops. To produce food, warmth and clothes, and an organizing system to put it all together demands the expenditure of energy to, firstmost, produce enough food to feed the present 7.8 billion people, and then to distribute that to them, get them their other needs where they live, and organize the system to make it all happen.
So, you think, it’s overpopulation. Nope. It’s not because: (1) well, we have the population and the system to support it, and (2) that’s not an actionable observation, because what do you do with it? Start a nuclear war to reduce the numbers? That’ll have plenty of side effects and unintended consequences despite its great immorality and unfairness. The problem is something else. The problems are that:
- The energy system we are using to support the population is disrupting global climate, which will ultimately have severe negative consequences for all people on Earth.
- The resources maintaining this population in the way that we are is harvesting more than the non-human biosphere of Earth can produce, so we need to access resources produced by previous eons of biospheres.
- Our organizing systems barely work to keep everyone clothed, fed, and healthy, and are, in their present form, incapable of dealing with the meta-problem that the system, as a whole, needs to transform.
So, what do we do? Give up?
References for this section:
Krausmann, Fridolin, Karl-Heinz Erb, Simone Gingrich, Helmut Haberl, Alberte Bondeau, Veronika Gaube, Christian Lauk, Christoph Plutzar, and Timothy D. Searchinger. "Global human appropriation of net primary production doubled in the 20th century." Proceedings of the national academy of sciences 110, no. 25 (2013): 10324-10329.
Campbell, Bruce M., Douglas J. Beare, Elena M. Bennett, Jason M. Hall-Spencer, John SI Ingram, Fernando Jaramillo, Rodomiro Ortiz, Navin Ramankutty, Jeffrey A. Sayer, and Drew Shindell. "Agriculture production as a major driver of the Earth system exceeding planetary boundaries." Ecology and Society 22, no. 4 (2017).
Running, Steven W. "A regional look at HANPP: human consumption is increasing, NPP is not." Environmental Research Letters 9, no. 11 (2014): 111003.
Haberl, Helmut, Karl-Heinz Erb, and Fridolin Krausmann. "Human appropriation of net primary production: patterns, trends, and planetary boundaries." Annual Review of Environment and Resources 39 (2014): 363-391.
Krausmann, Fridolin, Christian Lauk, Willi Haas, and Dominik Wiedenhofer. "From resource extraction to outflows of wastes and emissions: The socioeconomic metabolism of the global economy, 1900–2015." Global Environmental Change 52 (2018): 131-140.
We have, pretty much unwittingly, destabilized the portion of the biosphere and ecosystem which humanity relies upon for food and other ecosystem services through our prodigious growth aided by exogenous energy sources, primarily from burning fossil fuels. Don’t kid yourself: We are not going to take the rest of the biosphere out with us if something severe happens. The Mosses and Lichens are testaments to adaptability. So are microbes.
There is no choice but the stark one facing us: We need to take charge of the whole system, step up our global human organizations (I hear the Gang of the Orange Mango and neocons trembling at that idea), and devise a system which can both properly feed, clothe, provide healthcare, and warmth for 7.8 billion people and, at the same time, emit nothing in terms of greenhouse gases.
Some imagine an alternative: A 16th century agrarian landscape inhabited by sustainable Hobbits, or Diggers, or indigenous peoples, demanding little more of modern technology, so living (much) simpler, in harmony. Two points.
- A lot of people won’t go there willingly. The Maoist Cultural Revolution did not work out well. Agrarian socialism really doesn’t work in a world with 7.8 billion people scattered all over the place.
- “The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.” (Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring) Despite Tolkien’s emphasis, I consider this “wide world” to include the biosphere and the geophysical worlds. These, despite Tolkien’s preferences, are not humanly moral entities. They have their own rules, but they exist quite independent of any notions or principles which govern human interactions. You need to be a strong theist to think otherwise. (I am decidedly not a theist.)
How do we “take charge of the whole system”?
- We invest hugely in the sciences needed to figure out how it works. We cannot plan ahead without understanding the climate system and the biosphere better. Our investments in these have been tiny, miniscule, compared to the U.S. NASA, or the U.S. Department of Defense. Clearly, NASA has some role to play. DoD? Not so sure.
- We double down on the technologies we know work, can be rolled out quickly and inexpensively, and, to the degree we really care about fixing climate disruption, we de-prioritize other social values like aesthetics, local sovereignty, and local job loss to this purpose. Indeed, the late member of the Bundestag, Hermann Scheer observed this is the only way this can be done. See his The Energy Imperative. Unless local interests are subjugated to more regional and national ones, they will always find ways to interfere, delay, obfuscate. We don’t have time for these kinds of games.
- We assure that the typically least enfranchised are afforded priority access to new energy technologies, despite credit or criminal or immigration histories.
- We frame and organize the energy transformation as jobs programs, training people displaced from fossil fuels in these new skills.
References for this section:
About nuclear power as a savior of the natural environment …. Bupkis.
Second, quoting Dr Amory Lovins:
Many nuclear advocates argue that renewable electricity has far too big a land ‘footprint’ to be environmentally acceptable, while nuclear power is preferable because it uses orders of magnitude less land. If we assume that land-use is an important metric, a closer look reveals the opposite is true.
Lovins, Amory B. "Renewable energy's ‘footprint’ myth." The Electricity Journal 24, no. 6 (2011): 40-47.
Even though Dr Lovins article is from 2011 and, so, doesn’t reflect the massive improvements in efficiency that solar PV, wind, and storage have seen since then, wind and solar come out massively better than nuclear power in bottom-to-top land use.
Of course, fossil fuels and especially biofuels are amazingly worse:
Holmatov, B., A. Y. Hoekstra, and M. S. Krol. "Land, water and carbon footprints of circular bioenergy production systems." Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 111 (2019): 224-235.
Even hydropower is up there as a lands hog:
Zolghadr‐Asli, Babak, Omid Bozorg‐Haddad, and Xuefeng Chu. "Hydropower in Climate Change." Encyclopedia of Water: Science, Technology, and Society (2019): 1-5.
This means that sensible, inexpensive, feasible solutions to climate disruption are squarely opposed to what small numbers of people want, NIMBY or not. To the degree wealthy proponents of fossil fuels support them, this is an impediment. But these small numbers of people should know they are being sold as prostitutes.
So, what do I make of the comment from False Progress?
It could be this individual is one of many at the Koch Brothers feeding trough, several times removed. After all, the Koch Bros have supported environmental organizations in locales if they opposed wind farms, or solar farms, or sensible approaches to dealing with sea level rise and enhanced storm surges at beaches. They always do it through second- and third-hand contributions.
So what about the rest of us? That is, what about people who are very concerned about climate disruption, but don’t have the, ahem, peculiar view of False Progress?
So, the answer is clear, shut down all nuclear facilities, and all fossil fuel sites, including extraction, and massively build wind, solar, and storage atop of them. Then, if short, build wind, solar, and storage on anything you can find. If you take climate disruption from fossil fuels seriously — and the price is how do you rate it compared to your personal aesthetic prerogatives — you’ll do that.
Otherwise, you are effectively a climate denier.
Recap Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson musing on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day:
Note Dr Tyson’s reference to Stewart Brand‘s Whole Earth Catalogue, and Brand’s latest, Whole Earth Discipline. And note Dr Lovins skewering the underestimates of nuclear power’s land use by Brand in his paper. Properly so.
By the way, here’s Claire and I with the memorial to Rachel Carson in Woods Hole, Massachusetts:
Meanwhile, the economics and technology are arrayed against them and their supporters. We will have a green century, whether some like it or not. The wealthy understand this is where we need to go and be. Most corporations know that, too. So, below is the future of energy generation.
(This is a recap of a comment made at a commenter’s blog, one who, claiming to defend the natural world and a human relation to it, argues in favor of nuclear power over what they consider to be the obscene sprawl of wind, solar, water, and storage. They are anti-WWSS in the Jacobson pattern. Indeed, they write and act like a clone of Michael Shellenberger who has made assertions about “climate alarmism”.)
Environmentalists usually decry self-policing, but as long as you don’t call yourself one, I’ll file you with drillers & miners who see nature as a warehouse.
Do so. I called myself that from 1971. But, now, including your ilk, I see you are not up to the challenge of dealing with mitigating climate disruption, for, like many, you want to throw arbitrary constraints on the project, whether they be “climate justice”, “environmental justice”, or “preserving open spaces”. Facts are we no longer have the luxury of those constraints.
I am, along with Stewart Brand and others an ecomodernist and ecopragmatist. This is a problem to be solved, engineered, and managed. The outcome is more important than the means. There was once a choice of means, back in the 1990s, but that was blown. We no longer haven the luxury, per the Stockner curves.
Call me a liar all you want. It no longer matters. The economic forces pushing this solution are way bigger than any little environmental movement, which is too naive to understand that the mysterious donations they are receiving through second and third parties are coming from people like the Koch Brothers.
This is not about Nature or any mystical connection to it. Nature and its inhabitants will adapt, as they always have. There will be species extinction and rotation, but there is always a baseline of that. And rigidities which many so-called naturalists have embraced, like abhoring invasive species, will fall away. Some of these so-called invasives are some of the best adapted to climate disruption that we’ve got.
What will be impacted is humanity and civilization, both because of direct effects, and also because the ecosystem services which were provided under a previous climate will not longer be provided. It’s not like the creatures and flora there will go away — the idea of insects going extinct is considered laughable by most ecologists and entemologists, despite its popularity in some circles — but that they will pursue life paths which won’t include providing those services.
Accordingly, if you actually believe in climate disruption — which I am not really sure you do, as I am not sure those who draw the mantle of “environmentalism” upon themselves do — you understand the urgency, and understand that doing something about it is needed quickly and essentially. And you also understand conditional probability. That says that the probability of achieving a solution to climate disruption given any other constraint is less than the probability of achieving it without additional constraint. Are you a climate denier or luckwarmer? Do you think we can afford these additional constraints? Where’s your calculation that we can? Are you one of the people who thinks we can plant forests anew with fertilizer, changing N2O output (a centennial greenhouse gas) and albedo, and that will fix things? It will help, but only for 60 years.
If you or anyone thinks we can afford the delay to getting this correct, you are wrong. We cannot. A +3C world is a different world, with all kinds of changes everywhere, especially for the ecosystems you claim to want to protect. That’s where we are headed if we don’t get things together. Human energy systems take a long time to transform. We should have started in the noughts. We didn’t.
For groups of people who seriously embrace land wind turbines, there is no downside.
Where does a state government turn when they have a strong mandate to remove fossil fuels from electricity generation, heating, cooling, and transportation? Suppose they proposed a cross-border hydropower purchase from Quebec? Suppose they planned to roll out land-based wind, and land-based solar? Suppose they promised to procure a massive amount of offshore wind power? Suppose natural gas is too dirty and unpopular. Suppose oil and coal plants are being decommissioned. Suppose they’ve pursued a project to pursue electrical storage in a big way.
The government plans to eliminate fossil fuels from heating, cooling, and transport by massively electrifying everything, building out a network of charging stations.
Then suppose things start to go wrong. An initial wind project is rejected because of objections to residents that it’s too close to shore and can be seen. After years, a procurement for offshore wind is begun. That project, too, sees opposition, from people on islands, from environmentalists concerned about marine impacts, from fishermen. Finally, a national executive unfriendly to any kind of wind power puts the project under repeated review, delaying it for years, and making the date its first electricity is generated later than planned.
Some land-based turbines are built. But, again, “neighbors” object to them, even when they are entirely on private property. One town actually loses a court case, and the court requires the town to deconstruct and remove two turbines it has erected on public land.
A hydropower project is expanded in Quebec. More dams are planned to feed the states growing needs for electricity. Environmentalists object to the hundreds of square miles of trees lost to flooding due to the reservoirs behind the dams. Indigenous people object because land that was historical hunting and other grounds will be rendered forever changed. Residents of neighboring states where transmission lines are being erected to bring Quebec power cut across old expansive forests.
Rooftop solar is encouraged, but then, local towns, pressured by real estate agents and nervous neighbors, enact bylaws that restrict how such solar can be built and prohibit ground mounted solutions. Nevertheless 80,000 roofs get solar, but this is a negligible portion of what the state needs from solar power.
Utility solar projects are proposed, with some success, on open lands. But in some cases, as for wind, even on private properties, neighbors object to the sights. Some projects felling trees to make room for the projects, trees that grew back after farms were abandoned. The projects are criticized for loss of trees, installed “industrial power plants” in residential and agricultural neighborhoods. Provision of solar power is also delayed. So-called environmentalists side with the neighbors opposing the projects.
Now, I don’t like nuclear power. I think it is expensive and inflexible (*). It does not play well, in its present form, with variable generation sources like wind and solar (**). But it is emission free, even looking at the life cycle and counting cement and steel and other components used to construct it. And, contrary to popular notions, it is safe, excepting perhaps the long term question of where radioactive wastes from generation are buried and how.
Despite needing big transmission lines to carry power from generation sites, nuclear power can, using the SMR concept, be tucked away in places where practically no one will see them, even if the SMR concept works best if the generators are close to where the electricity is being consumed
Do you think “environmentalists” will object? You bet they will.
But I say that if this is what’s needed to decarbonize and bring daily emissions to practically near zero,
it’s what needs to be done.
And, frankly, such “environmentalists” can only blame themselves if this is how things go. I’d rather see SMRs than big nuclear plants, even if the NuScale designs still need to be fully developed. That’ll take time.
Think this is all speculation? Nope.
“If the construction of offshore wind is not achieved at the scale suggested here in this 2050 roadmap, the construction of new nuclear in the northeast region may be required to meet the 2050 target,” [Dr Theoharides] said.
Dr Kathleen Theoharides is the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. This was partly in response to the announcement today that BOEM is delaying a final ruling on Vineyard Wind until 2021.
All I know is we really need to move quickly on this. And whatever way it’s done, fossil fuels are dead. And I am an environmentalist and have been since 1971. But it’s late, very late, and so ecomodernism is necessary.
The above two figures are from:
Matthews, H.D., Tokarska, K.B., Nicholls, Z.R.J. et al., "Opportunities and challenges in using remaining carbon budgets to guide climate policy", Nature Geoscience, 13, 769-779 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-020-00663-3
The above two figures are from:
Thomas F. Stocker, "The Closing Door of Climate Targets", Science 339, 280 (2013); DOI: 10.1126/science.1232468
Rather than secretary of energy, I’d prefer a bigger role. If efforts to curb climate change are only housed within DOE, we won’t succeed at the scale required. I’d like a job that doesn’t yet exist, analogous to the role of Henry Knudsen in the Arsenal of Democracy. Knudsen was an industrialist who was critical in the Office of Production Management and a member of the National Defense Advisory Commission (like him, I’d be willing to take that job for $1 per year). My job, perhaps as Climate Liaison, would be part of the National Climate Defense Commission, and a key member of an Electrification Production board. The climate defense commission would quarterback the finance and logistics economy-wide. The Electrification Production board would figure out how to ramp up industry to make all of the electric vehicles, heat pumps, batteries, solar cells, wind turbines, load centers, nuclear reactors and long distance transmission lines we need.
Professor Mark Z Jacobson‘s latest marvelous book, 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything, summarized in a great one hour interview.
… well suited for the early 19th century.
The New York Times reports today that the United States Supreme Court
… late Wednesday night barred restrictions on religious services in New York that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had imposed to combat the coronavirus.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The order was the first in which the court’s newest member, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, played a decisive role.
Accordingly, both because of this decision, and decisions of the federal judiciary with respect to Juliana vs United States, I’ve concluded that the U.S. Constitution is well-suited for the early 19th century, and even the late 18th, but has no ability to deal with important 21st century problems.
And if anything underscores this it is that the U.S. Constitution leaves the composition, length of tenure, size, and qualifications of justices to the U.S. Supreme Court entirely within the hands of Congress. Moreover, it has an amending mechanism, one which hobbled and slowed with ponderous and maladroit criteria of process and agreement.
And, more than ever, this demonstrates now critical it is for a modern country to utterly and fundamentally sever its governance and discourse from considerations of religion. As noted by Professor Christian Robert at his blog, Xi’an’s Og, a model for government that purports to be universalist must necessarily be secularist. Otherwise there is preference and, so, some religions and religious views are more preferred and acceptable than others, simply because of tyranny of the minority in a society which gives individuals too much power. This inflicts upon society a gross social and policy price of anarchy.
Update 2020-11-27 00:01
Adam Shatz at the London Review of Books wrote “Why go high? … on America’s defective democracy” in 42(22). In addition to much clear analysis of how useful an illusion of power can be to a political party, Mr Shatz quotes Daniel Lazare from his The Frozen Republic (1996), notably:
… [T]he Founders created a deliberately unresponsive system in order to narrow the governmental options and force us to seek alternative routes. Politics were dangerous; therefore, politics had to be limited and constrained. But America cannot expect to survive much longer with a government that is inefficient and none too democratic by design. It is impossible to forge ahead in the late 20th century using governmental machinery dating from the late 18th. Urban conditions can only worsen, race relations can only grow more alienated and embittered. Politics will grow more irrational and self-defeating, while the price of the good life … can only continue its upward climb beyond the reach of all but the most affluent.
Mr Lazare anticipated our present situation or at least had the pleasant audacity to describe it. If not his, my concern is fixing climate disruption. Whatever the longstanding issue, the Constitution in its present form is very much getting in the way.
As I’ve written and stated publicly elsewhere, it isn’t that climate disruption won’t be fixed. It will be fixed, but those doing the fixing will pursue it for their own interests, not those of the general public or the world. Most pertinent, however, such success will relegate the U.S. Constitution more to the status of a historical relic than an active, living guide, increasingly interpreted to mean other things than it actually did, out of necessity. And if that is not done, governance will fall upon other powerful actors. That won’t be the class of billionaires, not directly. Most do not care. It will fall to multinational corporations. They won’t like it, but a world without their leadership will definitely be against their interests. So they will. Who will lose out? The public, of course.
Great Web sites here, all about truly preserving Walpole for the long term, rather than in pursuit of myopic interests: