Climate Change: Do the Math

November 24, 2012

37 Responses to “Climate Change: Do the Math”

  1. Peter Mizla Says:

    That we are a but a few years away from the point of no return- meaning we will not be able to avert disastrous climatic outcomes- the public is only now just beginning to realize that the climate is ‘behaving oddly’.

    In a few years will the public be willing to change their lifestyles radically in order to avert a hellish world for their children and generations to come?

    At best we can avert doom as JR has said, but we will still see centuries of a climate gone mad. I dread to see what kind of weather we will be seeing at the end of this decade- and I ask the question once more- will we be doing anything>?


  2. I like to see the dangers simplified to numbers – it cuts through all the science and arguments in a simple business like manner – another example would be the atmospheric CO2 concentration which I understand most concerned scientists put a red line at around 450 ppm (is now 391 ppm). We need more simple graphs with red lines so the ordinary person can understand the problem. It is the best way to put over the concept.


    • 350 ppm is the safe zone. A human contribution pushing the world to 450 ppm results in large carbon emissions coming from the Earth itself. Even a constant 400 ppm is dangerous. We need to return to 350 ppm as soon as possible.

  3. Martin Lack Says:

    It is very sad to see the UK Government burdening the people with a new levy on their electricity and gas bills to pay for this investment in renewable energy (while it continues to guarantee a future for the industry that is making that investment ever more urgent)… Someone really ought to challenge such blatant hypocrisy and stupidity in the Courts.

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2012/11/green-energy-bill-rises-what-the-papers-say

  4. Schalk Says:

    Although I agree with the video on the urgency of addressing climate change, I again have to point out the severe underestimation of the challenges associated with abandoning fossil fuels.

    Firstly, we have the incongruence between the 565 gigatons of CO2 and the 1% of GDP cost figure quoted. The referenced report gives this estimate (which has been upped to 2% in 2008) for stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentrations at 550 ppm which would result in emissions of twice the 565 Gt number by 2050 and much more beyond that date. The report also states that stabilizing CO2 concentrations at 450 ppm (which would still exceed the 565 figure) “is likely to be unachievable with current and foreseeable technologies”.

    Even for the 550 ppm case, the referenced 1% figure also neglects some key challenges:
    – Cheap or even profitable efficiency enhancements are supposed to account for 25% of the CO2 abatement. Yet today, six years later, the correlation between GDP and primary energy usage remains almost perfect as energy intensive growth in developing counties continues.
    – Nuclear and CCS accounts for about 30% of the abatement by 2050 while solar and wind only accounts for 23% – figures which will encounter great resistance from environmentalists.
    – The report was written under the illusion created by the buildup of the great global credit bubble and therefore assumes that continued economic growth will drive massive green innovation. This illusionary fog is now clearing. Google phrases like “climate change funding gap” and “austerity renewable energy subsidies” for more perspective.
    – The report never even mentions the massive EROI challenges faced by low-carbon technologies (the fundamental reason why renewables can never compete with conventional fossil fuels).

    I think it is important to understand the dangers of biased and incongruent messages such as the video in this post. The video basically states that, if we only try, we can leave 80% of remaining fossil fuels in the ground without having to face any major ramifications. This is grossly inaccurate. According to our current economic model, the only scenarios under which this would be possible are a global economic collapse or a global nuclear war.

    Indeed, keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees will require a complete revamp in our economic system somewhere along the lines of Heinberg’s “end of growth” ideas. I really think that widespread behavioral change backed up by large scale deployment of transition energy technologies like CCS and nuclear are the only feasible route forward. The longer we deny this objective reality, the harder it will become as the environmental, economic and societal aspects of our global sustainability crisis continue to converge and augment each other.


    • “According to our current economic model, the only scenarios under which this would be possible are a global economic collapse or a global nuclear war”.

      Well, then, why don’t we try a different economic model? A model where, instead of trying to force market-based solutions on an economy which opposes them, and instead of trying to incentivize private citizens to spend their own money on projects which don’t work too well, we try a new paradigm instead.

      A paradigm which solves the AGW crisis with a centralized solution, not a market-based one. Which relies on tax dollars borrowed instead of monies taken out of people’s pockets. A solution which will actually raise our comforts and standard of living not put them into decline. That can give millions of people jobs and stimulate the economy, not force a global depression.

      It is what Isaac Asimov would do, and the technology we already have today would suffice. The answer is to install very large-scale solar electricity projects where the sun shines every day and shines intensely. In our deserts. And then we give that electricity away for free.

      A PPV installation covering the Mojave Desert would provide enough power to replace every molecule of carbon-based fuel we would ever need for the next thousand years. We could reduce our CO2 emissions to essentially zero in five years, give the electricity away for free, and the payback time would be about eight years.

      Africa, China – they all have huge deserts also. They can do the same thing.

      • Schalk Says:

        Well, I would really like to believe that such a solution to AGW would be possible in the real world, but unfortunately it is not.

        Firstly, the majority of western governments are flat broke (and still running massive budget deficits) and therefore don’t have a cent to spare for massive renewable energy projects. As our current financial crisis drags on (as it fundamentally must due to the mirage of perpetual exponential economic/credit expansion finally running into fixed planetary boundaries), the electorate will force government to become increasingly short sighted. People will demand the preservation of social welfare programs and continuing economic stimulus instead of the massive clean energy investments we so desperately need.

        Secondly, centralized solutions are notoriously inefficient. Since there are such a large number of conflicting interests, people typically spend much more time and resources fighting each other than actually doing something about the problem at hand. The process of shifting a large number of tax dollars to clean energy projects will be met with great resistance from many groups. This is why the first global binding emissions agreement will happen only in 2020 (at the earliest) as decided in a desperate late cramming session at COP17.

        Thirdly, centralized solar power solutions distributing electricity from deserts to locations far away are much more complicated than it sounds. Long distance electricity transmission is extremely expensive and the degree of international cooperation required for such an initiative unfortunately lies beyond the capabilities of our current generation of bureaucrats. I don’t know if you have heard of the Desertec project. This is an attempt at doing pretty much exactly what you propose, but the project is now starting to run into these harsh real world realities: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/the-desertec-solar-energy-project-has-run-into-trouble-a-867077.html.

        Note that I am very much in favor of renewable energy. I just don’t think it is technically, economically or politically feasible to roll out these technologies fast enough to mitigate climate change within our current paradigm of perpetual consumption-driven economic growth. It is this objective reality that we will have to accept if we are to have any chance of preserving our planet for future generations.


        • Your link re DeserTec does not support your allegations at all. There is no technical problem with the technology – your linked article is only about political problems.

          And your assertion that a centralized facility would be too expensive is ludicrous. A centralized facility will cost much less than the piecemeal approach which has failed so spectacularly fr the past 30 years. Why? because the most expensive part of putting PV panels on your roof is not the price of the components, it is the installation costs associated with the fact that all roofs are different and this is a labor intensive cost.

          Besides, NOT solving AGW in the next 5 to 10 years means that we will not prevent a 4C warmer world – and the cost of adapting to that world is 1204 trillion dollars. The cost of going 100% solar using centralized facilities, including the cost of an upgraded smart grid and electrifying out highways, homes, and businesses is a tiny fraction of that.

          So, the smartest, least expensive way to save the planet, by providing free electricity to everyone, is to use our credit card.

          Shalk, you speak with great confidence yet you make little logical sense, offer linked rebuttals which do not support your assertions, etc. Who are you, exactly?

          • Schalk Says:

            First off, I never said that large scale centralized solar power is not technically feasible, I said that it is not technically, economically or politically feasible to roll out these technologies fast enough to mitigate climate change. Let’s illustrate this with some rough ballpark estimates for replacing fossil fuels with concentrated solar power (SCP), considering that the world burns fossil fuels at a rate of roughly 15 TW.

            Technical feasibility: There are many technical factors that influence the speed with which renewable energy can be rolled out; primarily the available technical expertise, energy and materials. Technical expertise is probably the most important limiting factor, but energy is easier to estimate. The EROEI (energy return on energy invested) of SCP is roughly 3:1 over a 30 year plant lifetime, implying that these plants only start making an “energy profit” after 10 years of operation. Building 15 TW of SCP will therefore require the entire world’s energy supply for an entire decade. If the world could even manage the miraculous feat of dedicating 10% of its total energy supply to building SCP plants, it would take an entire century to get the job done.

            Economic feasibility: Capital costs for SCP are roughly 7500 $/kW. Building 15 TW of CSP will therefore cost about $90 trillion (which is an under-estimate because the capacity factor of solar power is significantly lower than that of fossil fuel power). Power infrastructure revamps and long distance power transport will probably incur costs in the same order, bringing the total up to $180 trillion – three times current global GDP. For some perspective, consider that renewable energy investment is about 0.4% of global GDP at the moment.

            Political feasibility: The credit cards of the big western economies are maxed out. That is why we have a full-blown debt crisis in Europe and why the USA is so concerned about the fiscal cliff. We simply cannot borrow any more (let alone $180 trillion). Centralized solar power will therefore have to be built out of tax money. Just imagine the public outcry over a huge renewable energy tax hike in this time of economic turmoil.

            For these simple reasons, Desertec has the goal of supplying 15% of mainland Europe’s electricity by the year 2050. Do you think that this will have any meaningful impact on climate change? Not likely. And yes, the linked article in the previous post showed that even this modest goal could be over-optimistic. Sure, the article only gave a brief mention of the vast expense of long distance electricity transport towards the end, but it gave ample support for my claim that “the degree of international cooperation required for such an initiative unfortunately lies beyond the capabilities of our current generation of bureaucrats”.

            I am a research scientist working in the field of clean energy. In other words; it is my job to help keep the lights on without killing the planet. This could still be possible through large scale behavioral change and transition technologies like CCS and nuclear, but the chance that we limit future emissions to 565 Gt through renewable energy alone is exactly 0%. In fact, generating the energy required for building 15 TW of SCP plants will use up this entire allowance all by itself…

            I fully understand your attachment to the idea of “free” solar power for everyone, but we cannot allow ideology to overshadow reason. Fundamental physics and economics dictate that renewable energy cannot make any meaningful impact on climate change within the given timeframe. Wishing this to be otherwise will not help even in the slightest.

          • rayduray Says:

            Thanks Schalk,

            I very much appreciate your economic analysis here.

            Unquestionably, future generations will be living lives with much less energy waste per capita. Barring some new miraculous technological breakthrough.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            There is just one problem with your analysis, Schalk: Neither nuclear nor CCS is economically, technologically, or politically feasible on a global scale either. Neither is cheap, proven, or scaleable in the time-frame climate scientists say we need to act. Therefore, if renewables cannot plug the energy gap because they require too much energy to be consumed to manufacture the hardware, the Doomsday Preppers would appear likely to be the only “winners”…

          • Schalk Says:

            Martin, you are now speaking the real inconvenient truth: The fact that those of us lucky enough to have been born into the riches of industrialized society will have to significantly cut our consumption over the coming decade or two. For example, the average American will have to cut his/her 20 ton/year carbon footprint (i.e. energy consumption) by more than half. Fortunately, this is laughably easy (not to mention healthy, financially rewarding and fulfilling), but unfortunately such a move will cost the hundreds of millions of people supplying the consumer goods and services responsible for those extra 10 tons/year of greenhouse emissions their jobs. This is a big political no-no (and the reason why almost every politician is unanimously promising continued economic growth), but it is also inevitable. One can only speculate over how this will turn out…

            I think that we can make peace with the fact that, barring some great worldwide tragedy, the 565 Gt of CO2 mentioned in the video will be released into the atmosphere. So we can only hope that crossing this number will have manageable consequences. You know that I am definitely not a climate change denier, but you have to admit that, due to the great modelling uncertainties involved, it is statistically possible that releasing 565 Gt of additional CO2 into the atmosphere will not destroy the livelihood of future generations.

            That being said, however, technologies like CCS can help a lot (as a backup to widespread personal lifestyle change). You can build a 500 MWe coal fired power plant with CCS for $700 million. This is equivalent to about 1200 MWe of concentrated solar power (due to the large difference in capacity factor) which will cost you about $ 9 billion. The difference in cost is therefore more than one order of magnitude. In addition, you can retrofit an existing 500 MWe coal plant with CCS for a little over $100 million which really is small change compared to $9 billion. Add to that the fact that CCS does not require any energy storage or fundamental changes to our energy networks and you quickly see that this approach will be orders of magnitude easier to deploy than renewables, thereby granting us some more time to make this great transition.


          • Schalk:

            “… Capital costs for SCP are roughly 7500 $/kW. “

            Your mathematics is not credible. A homeowner, buying PV panels at full retail, and having them custom-installed on his roof by someone else can have 1 KW for $4100.00.

            Are you actually contending that the government could not install PV panels for a large installation for pennies on the dollar compared to a single homeowner???

            Schalk:

            “..Building 15 TW of SCP will therefore require the entire world’s energy supply for an entire decade..”

            Again, your mathematics appears to this reader as breathtakingly inaccurate. The entire world’s energy supply for ten years could not put up a solar project of sufficient size? Dear God – please prove this to my satisfaction!

            Germany, in piecemeal fashion, working with individual local contractors, put up enough renewable infrastructure in the past decade to provide 30% of their nation’s needs. And they don’t have great sunlight or wind there.

            Somehow, I don’t remember reading that they were using 30% of their total energy output putting up solar panels on their rooftops. But then again, they may not be privy to the same advanced mathematics that you use… so, could you please share your calculations or source for your rather astounding claims? Thanks.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            Roger, CSP (Solar thermal) may well be much more expensive and require much more space than domestic Solar PV installations. However, as I understand it, Schalk’s main (unsubstantiated) point is that CSP has an EROEI of 0.333 compared to 5 for Tar Sands and 25 for conventional fossil fuels (now almost extinct). Germany has no installed CSP; and Schalk has not specified the EROEI for Solar PV, which now costs about £1500/kW to install in the UK.

            That said, I remain bemused by all of this. Therefore, I am about to publish the JPG image from landartgenerator.org that you sent me along with a summary of Schalk’s arguments… in the hope that we can determine who is mistaken here because, one thing is for certain, someone definitely is:
            http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/solar-power-can-we-get-enough-of-it/ (to be published in just over an hour at 00:02 hrs UTC).

          • Schalk Says:

            As clearly stated in my previous comment, this ballpark estimate was for concentrating solar power (not solar PV). If we were to go for a big centralized solar power solution as you would advise, CSP (sorry, it appears as if I wrongly abbreviated this as SCP in my previous comment) will be the logical choice due to the capacity for thermal storage which solves the intermittency issue to some degree. 100% solar power through PV panels would have to be accompanied by some storage mechanism (pumping water to an elevated reservoir, making hydrogen through electrolysis or compressing air in an underground cavity) all of which would roughly double the cost and halve the EROEI.

            I got the cost for CSP from a good review by IRENA which is freely available online: http://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/RE_Technologies_Cost_Analysis-CSP.pdf. CSP is more expensive than PV mostly because China is not trying to build a monopoly by making up to $1 loss for every $3 of solar panels sold despite enormous government subsidies and grants: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/business/global/glut-of-solar-panels-is-a-new-test-for-china.html?pagewanted=all. Solar PV companies are destroying each other. Just look at their stock prices.

            And yes, economy of scale is quite limited for solar PV simply because scaling is modular. IRENA has a report on solar PV as well which you can study for further information on the price reductions from residential to full scale utility plants: http://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/RE_Technologies_Cost_Analysis-SOLAR_PV.pdf.

            Regarding the concept of EROEI, I know that it can be hard to grasp at first, but it is a vitally important factor to consider when talking about renewables. To make a 100MW CSP plant (of which we will need about 150000), you need about 250000 large mirrors, each with its own sun-tracking mechanism together with a large solar tower filled with molten salt, a steam generator and a steam turbine for actually producing the electricity (coal fired plants essentially need only the boiler and the turbine and can work at a much higher thermodynamic efficiency). It takes a lot of energy to mine all the materials, manufacture all of these components out of the materials, transport all of the materials and components thousands of miles, install the components on site and operate the plant after commissioning.

            The best review of EROEI for different technologies I have found thus far is a 2010 paper by Murphy and Hall: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05282.x/abstract;jsessionid=3591CDC1253A6AA6451BA87802861CAB.d01t02. I can send you the paper if you feel like reading some scientific literature, but they actually report that the EROEI of CSP is below 2, implying that my rough estimate was quite generous.

            Germany did not feel the energy cost of solar power installation simply because most of their renewable energy actually comes from wind (which has a much better EROEI of about 20:1) and the energy costs were spread over many countries (mostly China with its arsenal of coal plants).

        • pendantry Says:

          in the real world,

          As soon as people start dissing another opinion by appealing to some fictitious ‘real world’, they’ve lost the argument, in my book.

          • Schalk Says:

            By “the real world” I meant a world governed by the fundamental laws of physics and economics and not by ideology and wishful thinking. As briefly illustrated in the ballpark estimates in my previous post, these laws dictate that the energy and the capital required for going 100% solar will take many decades to accumulate. Energy mix projections of the IEA and all major energy companies support this thesis. So do the goals of renewable energy projects like Desertec and countries favoring renewable energy like Germany.

            Of course my perception of “the real world” is wholly dependent on my understanding of the fundamental laws governing it. If you see some obvious flaws in my understanding of these fundamental laws, I would be happy to learn from you.

          • rayduray Says:

            You might wish to check out recent news on the Desertec initiative. It appears to have lost a lot of support recently, including backings-away by the nation of Spain and by Siemens among other industrial partners.

            In the meantime, fracking seems to be the new buzzword from Wales to Ukraine.

            Old fashioned “economics” of the variety that regards the atmosphere as an open sewer seems to still have a stranglehold on the imagination of homo economicus, superficial and shallow-minded brute that he is.

          • Schalk Says:

            Yep, the loss of giants like Siemens and Bosch certainly is a big blow. I tried to illustrate this with a link in a previous post, but another commentator took some exception to that.

            I think the Desertec initiative is a very nice idea, but it was probably conceived under the assumption that the world economy would remain healthy enough to fund such and expensive endeavor. Ironically, the economic slowdown caused in part by the peaking of cheap conventional oil now becomes the primary obstacle to renewable energy. As long as the economy is weak, renewable energy will be pretty low on the pecking order.

            Until people understand this interaction between the environment, the economy and our political system (together with the concept of EROI), unrealistic projections of a miraculous 100% renewable energy world by 2030 will probably keep us running in circles, wasting precious time and energy.

            As you said, homo economicus needs a cultural makeover. I often talk about a great transition from the current culture of consumerism and entitlement to a new culture of contribution and personal responsibility, but I sometimes wonder how much more realistic that is than a 100% renewable energy world by 2030. At least this culture shift only needs one or two exceptional leaders and not a rewrite of the fundamental laws of physics and economics…

          • rayduray Says:

            Re: “At least this culture shift only needs one or two exceptional leaders and not a rewrite of the fundamental laws of physics and economics…”

            At present I maintain a very high regard for the honesty of the laws of physics and those who pursue them.

            On the other hand, I’ve become extremely critical of the practices of the high priests of “economics” who are by and large liars who are working for the gross enrichment of banksters and corporate CEOs and who have sold their souls to the devil.

            A really remarkable exposition of academic economists as whores prostituting themselves at the altar of great wealth is available in the Oscar-winning film, “Inside Job”. Additionally, I’m a regular denizen of the Naked Capitalism blog where the sins, deceits and frauds of so-called “economists” are on regular display.

            I have come to regard physicists and economists as living essentially on two different planets. One operates according to well-established laws, the second rascally lot seem hell-bent on breaking every law mankind has ever conceived and getting well paid for the cover stories they create for the rape of the planet they abet.

          • Schalk Says:

            Agreed. But I have to clarify that the laws of economics I refer to are of the Austian school which insists that wealth is built from saving, investment and production. Our current system is some strange form of neo-Keynesianism which insists that you can create wealth by borrowing, spending and creating ever-increasing quantities of fiat money out of thin air.

            I have written a lot on the madness of this system. If you are interested, this is a good place to start: http://oneinabillionblog.com/2012/06/04/the-sheer-madness-of-our-economic-system/.

          • rayduray Says:

            Hi Schalk,

            Re: “But I have to clarify that the laws of economics I refer to are of the Austian school which insists that wealth is built from saving, investment and production.”

            I’m a Leftie, so I’ll agree to disagree with you on this analysis.

            In my world wealth is created by exploiting nature or exploiting labor. For example, vast wealth was created in the Southern tier of the United States for over two centuries by means of exploiting slaves to extract cotton crops from land stolen by subterfuge and war from Native American tribes who were victims of genocidal attacks by ruthless men from abroad and their imperious and cavalier spawn who were trained in the arts of exploitation.

            So, let’s not kid each other about the role of savings, investment and production. Those are concepts that are too abstract to be real. Ask any slave. He’ll tell you the truth. Don’t bother to ask any slave holder. He’ll talk to you about savings, investment and production rates.

            Fast forward to 2012 and let’s examine the recent tragedy in a rag trade sweat shop in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The people who were exploited at distressingly low wages in miserable conditions there were quite possibly fashioning clothing for Wal-Mart with cotton that originally was harvested in Uzbekistan, a nation that closes its schools for 2 months during the harvest season so that children can be forced to work in miserable slave-like conditions to get in the harvest and provide vast material wealth for the likes of this rich bitch: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/18/googoosha-uzbek-dictator-s-daughter-is-a-disco-queen.html

            Ms. Karimova has her degree in economics and would be happy to engage you in a conversation about savings, investment (a 30% cut for the family is about right), and production rates.

          • Schalk Says:

            Hi Ray,

            Well, we are going a bit off topic now, so I’ll keep it short.

            Sure, I lean more towards the right and I think that free market capitalism still remains the best socio-economic system we have. However, I recognize capitalism’s fundamental flaws: the short-sightedness and heartlessness of the market. Documentaries like “the Corporation” illustrates that all too well.

            I am therefore for free market capitalism, but would like to see a fair price on environmental degradation and severe penalties for human rights violations in order to correctly shape investment decisions. Without these measures, capitalism will kill us. But with it, I really think it is the most efficient system through which we can make the great transition lying before us.

          • rayduray Says:

            Re: “Without these measures, capitalism will kill us. But with it, I really think it is the most efficient system through which we can make the great transition lying before us. ”

            Capitalism is already guilty of killing lots of workers. Don’t kid yourself. If you look at the great capitalist documents of our age such as NAFTA or TPP the clear intention is the opposite of your pollyannish view. It is to ruthlessly crush labor, destroy environmental standards and allow the rape-and-pillage of the planet to be unhindered by silly old-fashioned things like the sovereign will of democracies.

            http://www.citizen.org/TPP

            If you read the leaked document, which was put together in the U.S. by 600 corporate lobbyists who were granted full security clearances while their Congressional foreign trade overseers were excluded from the negotiations, you might come to your senses about your naive beliefs in capitalism.

            You have a very simply idea about how the world really works. It’s nothing like your ivory tower treatment purports reality to be.

            Libertarianism and the Austrian School of Economics are sort of a high school version of the profound and brutal world of business and finance. You can improve yourself greatly by expanding your horizons beyond the peckerheads at Mises.org, the Koch Brothers financed Cato Institute, AEI and other such right wing propaganda outlets. You have enough intelligence, but you seem to lack real world experience and have therefore been subjected to some corrosive brainwashing. Again, let me remind you of the vast gulf between your stated desires for decency in the comment above vis a vis the brutal wording of the TPP, the latest in capitalist tools aimed at lowering living standards and raping the planet with impunity and no governmental oversight.

          • Schalk Says:

            I always like to break complex issues down to the simplest fundamentals so as to not get lost in the countless details. In essence, the purpose of any socio-economic system is simply to incentivise people to use their time in ways that will benefit society as a whole. If we can manage this simple-sounding feat, we will all live happily ever after. The question is just how to do this in our complex world?

            So, if you were president, which policies would you pass to ensure that people use their time in ways that benefit society as a whole? Please take into account the most important existing constraints such as the tremendous sovereign debt burden, our unsustainable social welfare systems (unfunded liabilities), the gradual erosion of personal responsibility (best manifested in the obesity epidemic and the explosion of private debt) and the vast amounts of highly efficient production and market restructuring needed to transform our lopsided consumer economies towards sustainability.

          • rayduray Says:

            Hi Schalk,

            I’m enjoying this back and forth and I hope you are as well in the spirit in which an old New Leftist tried to correct the young Libertarian into joining the real world. 🙂

            Re: “In essence, the purpose of any socio-economic system is simply to incentivise people to use their time in ways that will benefit society as a whole.”

            Well now you are sounding like FDR, Henry Wallace and me. Certainly this can’t be achieved by following the Austrian School with its dogmatic emphasis on aggrandizing the individual. That is the model we have largely had put in place in the U.S. since Ronald Reagan ripped the solar heating units off the White House roof. Now we have psychopaths in the ascendency in the U.S. with catastrophic results, with declining living standards for most of the population while a rich, creepy elite distance themselves from a declining empire. This is the dystopia one would expect the Austrian school to create. It is Nietschie with a touch of proto-fascism and complete willingness to crush competitors in a dog-eat-dog world of cozy, cossetted crony capitalism for the insiders and brutal competition for the lesser dogs.

            I’d strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Naomi Klein’s insightful “The Shock Doctrine” to see the endgame of your Austrian School dystopia, pay particular attention to how the lives of ordinary Chileans were ruined under the dictatorship of Pinchet, much to the delight of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of economics. http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine

            Here’s George Carlin’s famous take on the Austrian School: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0eZYEtI&NR=1

          • pendantry Says:

            In ‘the real world’ of the 1950s it was ‘impossible’ for man to land on the moon… and in ‘the real world’ of today, some people — incredibly — find it easy to believe that the whole Apollo program was a just a hoax.

            The real world is what we make it; and the real world humans are now busily making does not have good prospects. I believe that we can do better — but only by a major shift in trajectory, not by tinkering around the edges of the severely broken system humanity has put in place over the last few decades. Such a shift will require some serious lateral thinking, and a willingness to consider options that, at first glance, seem not be nonsense.

            (I also believe that such a shift is highly unlikely, because for far too many people — especially those who make the big choices for the rest of us — ‘the real world’ is mired in greedy acquisitiveness and selfishness.)


  5. This video’s credibility took a hit when it claimed that Hurricane Sandy devastated several Canadian provinces. It did not. Ignoring the fact that it was not a hurricane by the time it affected Canada, its impact was not that severe. There were a couple of very unfortunate deaths – one woman hit by a sign blown loose by the wind, and a hydro worker. However there was no widespread ‘devastation’.

    I would dismiss a pseudo-skeptic video that used such misinformation, and I did not bother watching the remainder of this one.

  6. rayduray Says:

    THe UN’s COP 18 in Doha this week will be a test of President Obama’s honesty and will regarding his concern about global warming:

    http://tinyurl.com/d4mjjgw

    The Guardian UK appears set to have fairly extensive coverage of the conference.

    ***
    To Eileen Kinley:

    I find myself in agreement with you that the portion of the video overstating the effects of Hurricane Sandy on Canada was in poor form. Far too often those who are sincerely concerned about the fate of the planet have had a tendency to provide “ammo” to the climate deniers by playing cliched “Chicken Little/Sky Is Falling!” scenarios for effect. That said, I think, on balance, the video was effectively communicating its basic message that we need to change and that it will not be all that catastrophic to our way of life to do so. Cheers!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: