These are not “climate activists” …

… They are not even “environmentalists.”

(Updated 2nd August 2021.)

The claim that in our present place of climate disruption we have the luxury of choosing how we eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases and especially that we can do it without phasing out fossil fuels is simply ignorance, both scientific ignorance and engineering ignorance.

It is a demonstration of both innumeracy and a selfish pursuit of personal purity instead of trying to solve the most difficult problem humanity has ever faced.

As I recently wrote in part in testimony in support of a utility scale PV array near a Massachusetts suburb:

I find objections raised by the Project opponents regarding forest preservation and natural experiences contravene what is known about forest ecosystems [22, 23]. No forest or natural system is static and notions like “balance of nature” or “forest succession” are really 19th and early 20th century ideas. We now know better about [23, 13, 26, 21]. Many scientific ideas are counter-intuitive and some are unpopular. For example, maintaining a healthy forest means doing so-called “controlled burns.” Suburbanites dislike the idea of a nearby fire threatening their properties [25, 18]. People don’t like wetland restrictions and they don’t like mosquitos from wetlands, yet undisturbed, unsprayed wetlands are far better Carbon sinks than forests [14].

The references cited are given below:

[13] R. M. May. “Biological populations with nonoverlapping generations: stable points, stable cycles, and chaos”. In: Science 186 (1974), pp. 645–647.

[14] A. M. Nahlik and M. S. Fennessy. “Carbon storage in US wetlands”. In:
Nature Communications 7 (2016), pp. 1–9.

[18] R. L. Ryan and M. B. Wamsley. “Perceptions of wildfire threat and mitigation measures by residents of fire-prone communities in the Northeast: Survey results and wildland fire management implications.” In: The public and wildland fire management: social science findings for managers. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 2006, pp. 11–17. URL: https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/18648.

[21] A. Szasz. How we changed from protecting the environment to protecting ourselves.
University of Minnesota Press, 2007. URL: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-
division/books/shopping-our-way-to-safety.

[22] S. Tatsumi et al. “Prolonged impacts of past agriculture and ungulate overabundance on soil fungal communities in restored forests”. In: Environmental DNA (2021). URL:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/edn3.198.

[23] R. H. Whittaker. “Recent evolution of ecological concepts in relation to the eastern forests of North America”. In: American Journal of Botany 44 (1957), pp. 197–206.

[25] G. J. Winter, C. Vogt, and J. S. Fried. “Fuel treatments at the wildland-urban interface: Common concerns in diverse regions.” In: Journal of Forestry 100.1 (2002), pp. 15–21. URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/edn3.198.

[26] L. S.-Y. Wu and D. B. Botkin. “Of elephants and men: A discrete, stochastic model for
long-lived species with complex life histories”. In: The American Naturalist 116 (1980),
pp. 831–849.

We need to get to zero emissions globally by three-fourths through the 21st century. And we cannot do it without zeroing fossil fuel emissions and using large amounts of solar and wind energy, plus storage to make up for the energy lost to fossil fuel curtailment.

Afforestation won’t cut it:

Van Groenigen, Kees Jan, Xuan Qi, Craig W. Osenberg, Yiqi Luo, and Bruce A. Hungate. “Faster decomposition under increased atmospheric CO2 limits soil carbon storage.” Science 344, no. 6183 (2014): 508-509.

Boysen, Lena R., Wolfgang Lucht, Dieter Gerten, Vera Heck, Timothy M. Lenton, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. “The limits to global‐warming mitigation by terrestrial carbon removal.” Earth’s Future 5, no. 5 (2017): 463-474.

Seddon, Nathalie, Alexandre Chausson, Pam Berry, Cécile AJ Girardin, Alison Smith, and Beth Turner. “Understanding the value and limits of nature-based solutions to climate change and other global challenges.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 375, no. 1794 (2020): 20190120.

Nave, Lucas E., Grant M. Domke, Kathryn L. Hofmeister, Umakant Mishra, Charles H. Perry, Brian F. Walters, and Christopher W. Swanston. “Reforestation can sequester two petagrams of carbon in US topsoils in a century.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, no. 11 (2018): 2776-2781.

We are running out of time.

Keeling curve update from Friedlingstein, et al (2020)

Above figures and data are from:

Friedlingstein, Pierre, Michael O’sullivan, Matthew W. Jones, Robbie M. Andrew, Judith Hauck, Are Olsen, Glen P. Peters et al. “Global carbon budget 2020.” Earth System Science Data 12, no. 4 (2020): 3269-3340.

What are the forest preservers going to do about the emissions going into the oceans, even if they could contain them with forests?

I have a new litmus test for my environmental contributions: Any opposition to solar PV projects means no contribution from me. Doesn’t matter if it is APCC, NRDC, Sierra Club, CLF, ELM, UU Ministry for Earth, 350.org or any of its state chapters, or Woodrell Research Center.

Update, 2nd August 2021.

  • It seems the Berkshire Eagle is the only one carrying this. That doesn’t mean the sentiment is restricted to there, nor that the proposed rally itself will be ignored. The rally is still just the beginning, they say. These are not environmentalists. These are anti-corporate extreme socialists who are using climate disruption to advance their social agenda. It is entirely feasible to be in favor of socialism (as I am) and support corporations strongly and want to do everything possible to zero greenhouse gas emissions, now. Stopping subsidies to fossil fuel companies is not done because “corporations are bad” but because practices and behaviors which harm us all are being incentivized. Forests help, sure, but solar energy does more.
  • For example, selective, hypocritical NIMBYism at scale. It’s selective because Heizer’s art work did not receive criticism for disrupting ecosystems. (See quote below.)
  • Texas News Today underscores the other reason why opposing solar is a mistake. Could non-progressive, business-oriented states be a new home for zero Carbon energy?
  • The U.S. Needs to Build More, Faster to Reach Net Zero” : “A new report shows that even with climate-friendly policies, the current rate of development would only get the U.S. halfway there by 2050.”

Heizer was no less active in 1969, when he created Double Negative, a 1,100-by-42-by-30-foot work located at Virgin River Mesa, Nevada, where he and his crew gouged and carved 240,000 tons of rock out of facing cliffs to form two mammoth vertical trenches. The site is so huge that it can only be seen in its entirety by helicopter or plane. Again, its meaning and raison d’être is its own existence—nothing more and nothing less. 

Art News, 26th June 2015.

About ecoquant

See https://667-per-cm.net/about. Retired data scientist and statistician. Now working projects in quantitative ecology and, specifically, phenology of Bryophyta and technical methods for their study.
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