The wisdom of Ramez Naam, on climate change

From his tweetstorm here are a few bits:

Our biggest climate problems – the sectors that are both large and that lack obvious solutions, are: a) Agriculture and land use changes (AFOLU in the graphic) and b) Manufacturing / Industry. Together, these are 45% of global emissions. And solutions are scarce. 11/

I’m not saying that clean electricity or transport are solved. They’re not. But in electricity, we have solar, wind, batteries growing & getting cheaper & on path for 70-80% decarbonization *at least*. Same with electric cars and trucks. We have momentum in those sectors. 12/

We do NOT have momentum in reducing carbon emissions of agriculture or manufacturing. In agriculture, livestock methane emissions + deforestation to graze livestock are biggest problems. And meat consumption is doubling in next 40 yrs. This should scare you more than coal. 13/

In industry, despite progress in recycling steel, *primary* steel production is still incredibly carbon intensive. As is cement. As is much of manufacturing. We haven’t reached the “solar cheaper than coal” or “EVs cheaper than gasoline” tipping points there. We need to. 14/

If the US is serious about climate policy, it ought to focus on these two sectors – agriculture and industry – that are soon to be the two largest emissions sources, and lack solutions. We should press to invent solutions, drive them down in price, and spread them globally. 16/

Do read the whole thing.

Comments

Not that I care one iota about global warming, but isn’t the US working on the agriculture sector with companies like impossible foods and beyond meat?

The first nine words make sense but after the coma, nothing.

This is a fairy tale written by someone who has no clue how much fossil based energy is required to make the PV, wind and batteries that they advocate for. Perpetual motion is more believable than this fairy tale.

Recently China built the worlds largest PV manufacturing facility and they built right beside it the worlds largest coal fired electricity generation facility to power it. That coal fired generation plant provides electricity at $.02 a kWh. The PV panels they produce will once installed produce electricity at a cost of $.32-$.64 per kWh. The math seems to be too difficult for many in the media.

You burn that ton of coal once, and that solar panel lasts ..

"What Is the Lifespan of a Solar Panel? Photovoltaic (PV) modules typically come with 20 year warranties that guarantee that the panels will produce at least 80% of the rated power after 20 years of use. The general rule of thumb is that panels will degrade by about 1% each year."

Looks like a win.

It probably is a win in some regards, but the fundamental issue is intermittancy. Coal plant run all the time, solar plants don't. And batteries are too expensive to make it economical.

The issue isn't as clear cut as either side makes it out to be.

"You burn that ton of coal once, and that solar panel lasts .."

The energy produced by a ton of coal is much greater than the energy that it took to get the coal out of the ground and to the user. Solar panels are not economic because the total energy content of making, installing, and maintaining solar generation systems is greater than the energy that is produced. Spain lost billions on solar energy. So did the US. It is time to get rid of the nonsense and let markets work.

Yes, Lab meat was my first thought.

Not sure on the time frame but implementation seems a lot easier than battery tech. Agriculture might the industry the closest to limiting their Co2.

I expect in 15-20 years 50-80% meat will be farm made. Which means we should be able to maintain or lower emissions from agriculture.

Ethically; I expect a big push to lab meat. Animal meat will only be for special occasions. Of course the product has to reach a certain quality level, but its much easier to scale than other options. Its not only Co2 but animal suffering that will drive the push.

Large scale monoculture of crops is just as big or bigger problem than raising cattle. Most of the clearing of forests in Brazil is now for soy bean crops that are sent to China. Large herbivores are an essential part of the carbon cycle. Anything they emit, they had to consume first - It is a zero sum game with some exceptions. Methane from herbivores quickly degrades into CO2 and is also part of the natural carbon cycle which is critical to life.

Also, animals are a great way to use land that isn't suitable for row crops e.g., mountainous, semi-arid, northern, etc. Grass feed beef is fairly efficient.

Feedlot beef may or may not be different, depending on the relative yields of the plant inputs.

"I expect in 15-20 years 50-80% meat will be farm made. Which means we should be able to maintain or lower emissions from agriculture."

What difference will it make? CO2 emissions are not a problem and neither is the little bit of warming that would come from a doubling of CO2 content in the atmosphere, which is unlikely to happen.

Why do we assume that the corrupt fools at the IPCC know what they are talking about when the science tells us that we are not particularly warm right now and that warming is not harmful?

Congratulations on being an edgy teen online I guess

Congrats to you, too.

To the OP...I agree. A palatable, cost-competitive replacement for meat would be an environmental game changer. I'm actually surprised it doesn't receive more governmental 'climate change investment.'

If you are spending your energy on the insect apocalypse, good on you. That might be a good bet, or at least division of labor.

https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature

But if you are hanging your hat on "nothing bad ever happens," not so much.

Good riddance. Fuck bugs.

Web of life.

One of the potential solutions in industry is carbon capture and storage. Does anyone have idea of:
(1) how fast CCS costs are declining?
(2) whether the advent of cheap, emissions-free energy will change the economics of CCS?

CCS at power stations is not very practical as it easier to replace them with renewables. If gas is being used to firm the grid it doesn't make sense to make the capital investment for capturing CO2 at a gas power plant that is used at a low capacity factor. But it makes more sense for some industrial processes. Some food production processes as well, as fermentation provides a convenient supply of almost pure CO2 that could be captured.

We can capture and remove CO2 from the atmosphere agriculturally at a fairly low cost. Perhaps as little as $50 per tonne. But our ability to do this is limited. We start to run out of agricultural waste near rail lines and navigable rivers and run out of fields that can be amended with charcoal (biochar).

Cheap, emission free energy will lower the cost of energy intensive methods of CO2 removal but at the moment these are high cost methods of CO2 capture and sequestering and for now its far easier to use that energy to displace fossil fuel use whether for generation or industry than use it to remove CO2.

Re (1) - http://www.climateaction.org/news/breakthrough-made-in-lower-cost-carbon-capture-technology and https://cleantechnica.com/2018/12/04/cost-of-carbon-capture-plummets-thanks-to-two-new-techniques/ were two quick hits.

I had read something about new tech in this space months back but forgot exactly what it was. The first links seems to be familiar from that vague memory.

One of the reasons I thought the technology might be interesting is that I think it might be something that could be implemented as a distributed system. What if all new homes and perhaps upgrades to existing homes had a small unit built in. Then the solid "waste" output could be collected periodically (weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually?) for further processing. Such a approach might be manageable at a local level, developer level, state level or even federal. (Higher level probably increases inefficiencies but...). Moveover, such an implementation could be more targeted to high density areas where one might expect to see higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere than the stated average.

It is very hard to tell what costs what. These folks claim:

"Our results show that enhanced weathering is an option for carbon dioxideremoval that could be competitive already at 60 US$t−1CO2removed for dunite, but only at200 US$t−1CO2removed for basalt. "
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa9c4/pdf

That is why a co2 tax is the only way to else you end up things like the ethanol program.

Yes, it is coming down to the $100/ton of CO2 or less range.

In areas of the country that have sea level issues (flooding), injection of water or CO2 (it is a liquid at high pressure underground) will elevate the land as has been shown in Long Beach Ca using water (increased land elevation by 30 cm). We could jack up New Orleans and some other areas using $100/ton CO2 at a cost of about $150,000/acre per foot of elevation.

Relative to the value of the city real estate, that looks cheap.

With a $50 to $100/ton carbon added tax (like a vat that can be added or subtracted from imports/exports) that is revenue neutral, this land elevation project would occur as a cost-effective way to solve another problem (sea level rise).

Can this right? Long Beach is raised like a foot?

One would expect CCS in construction materials processes (primary steel, cement) to be an easier lift than CCS in coal power generation, because the quantities are smaller, and the output (solid carbonates) itself has potential use as a construction material.

Trump should slap a big fat tariff on Brazilians who slash and burn the rainforest for some fogo de chao.

Most of the slashing and burning is for soy, which is being shipped to China .

Left unmentioned is that we're now into the third year of global cooling, temperatures are unchanged from most of the 2000s and late 90s, sea level rise has failed to accelerate, Arctic ice is gaining and recent studies are steadily reducing estimated temperature sensitivity to CO2.

Satellite data here: http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

It's also strange that Naam cites Germany as an example just as they are abandoning green policies because 1) they failed to reduce emissions and 2) cost well over 100 billion euros.

And of course Germany is fazing out its coal mines, while increasing its coal imports.

It was 46.6 degrees Celsius here on the 24th last month, the hottest in recorded history, so we are currently on our 18th day of global cooling.

We are having our longest period of bitter cold in decades here. Weather is not climate.

According to your own data, we were also in our third year of "global cooling" in 1983 and '86 and our second year of cooling in various other years... I find it really hard to see how you can deduce that the globe is cooling from that data.

Seriously, It's snowing in Hawaii.

Everybody is for clean air and clean water. Too few are opposed to economic devastation and Democrat hysterics.

Two weeks ago in the US, several locations posted the coldest/low temperature in History. In two short years, President Trump solved the Global Warming Crisis.

Think Interglacial.

Ocasio-Castro's (she wrote it out of a bar napkin) green new deal is implausible, impractical, and ridiculous. To be fair, that describes most everything on the left.

Think Solar Output.

Actually, it was mentioned: "...Climate in the US is *extremely* partisan. Clean energy is not..." 23/

Does it bother you that you're so dishonest? I mean you can't be so stupid to think that in a noisy time series that four points make a trend. That the fact that the warmest year on record was 4 years ago, so that the past 4 years being the warmest 4 years on records means things are getting cooler. So how do you justify to yourself spewing this crap? Don't you have a sense of honor or decency? Look I get it you would hate to let the liberals or the greens or the hippies be right, but have some self respect.

Do you speak out when we have 3 warming years in a row and people declare it's a sign of global warming?

Chip is merely doing the same thing in reverse.

What really gets my goat is people who insist the stock market is higher than what it was in 1900.

"Speaking as someone who produces goat farts ....."

A new subway commute placates this dread with a better view of the city—a type of endurance

Funny when I meet AGW adherents I ask 'What evidence do you find most convincing?" Usually it's a mumbled response along the lines of '97% of scientists" etc. Some mention record hot weather, none seem to have any idea of what the AGW proponents base their hypothesis on and have no interest in finding out. Even highly educated people with a background in STEM subjects don't have any interest in why there are major differences between the raw data and the homogenised records presented by various gov agencies. I just don't understand this lack of curiosity, the science as touted by AGW proponents is relatively easy to understand yet few have the desire to understand it.

There are a lot of interesting things in this world to study. It is as simple as that. When I meet AGW skeptics, I ask "What evidence do you find most troublesome?" Usually it's a mumbled response along the lines of 'They predicted global cooling in the 70s' or 'Did you see how cold it was in Chicago last week?' I know its fun to be a skeptic, but you would think they would also turn a skeptical eye toward the criticisms they tout. I just don't understand this lack of curiosity.

I’ve never heard of Ramez Naam and am not much impressed with the nice things he has to say about the Green New Deal. But when Megan McArdle likewise says nice things about this sophomoric vision of the future, it’s a sign of the Apocalypse.

Megan's a Green New Dealer? Kochs need to cut her a bigger check so she can say the correct things.

No, she is not on board.

'The Green New Deal is nice vision of where the United States might try to go someday. But as an actual blueprint for the immediate future, it’s lunatic. And no matter how technically or morally sound your goals may be, as an opening political message, “We’re nuts!” is neither efficient, nor state-of-the-art.'

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/were-nuts-isnt-a-great-pitch-for-a-green-new-deal/2019/02/07/f605b220-2b2f-11e9-984d-9b8fba003e81_story.html??noredirect=on

I've never heard of this guy, either. I wonder if he and I are living on the same planet, if he thinks the transport sector (cars and trucks) are on the path to "70% - 80% decarbonization". Huh? I've never even seen an all-electric vehicle on the road, and while hybrids are indeed getting more popular, I think it will be a decade or more before they're a dominant form of transportation.

Actually, I think he's on the right track. I don't see a time line, but the trend is positive for electric cars. Granted, it all basically hinges on the economic cost of the battery technology. But the long run 70+ year trend in battery technology is a 1-2% improvement per year. Granted, internal combustion engines also improve, but we seem to be pushing the limits of that technology. The improvements have averaged less than 1% over the last 40 years.

If electric cars are close to parity then they'll probably have a distinct advantage within a decade or two.

That's pretty much my casual assessment as well; material market penetration in 10 years.

My "next car" use case is about as undemanding as it gets - a small SUV, second car, typical daily use < 20 miles, almost entirely < 50 mile daily use, with AC. I'd pay a small premium (vs. IC engine) for an all electric from a reliable manufacturer, 100 mile range, overnight recharge. Ideally 2nd generation product. One benchmark is Honda CRV (leading compact SUV), which starts at $25K.

Been waiting, but my current car is 12 years old. Plan to keep the next one that long as well.

We have an electric car (often sold as city cars) but live in a rural area. It is adequate to get us to the shops and recreational destinations 35-40 miles away and back on a home charge. I have seen one similar in the local supermarket car park.
The downside is that maintenance is supposed to be cheap, but in practise this is not so, for example a nut and bolt was billed at just under £10. DIY maintenance is not as easy as an old gas guzzler, and manuals such as there are full of (legitimate) warnings about high voltage DC.
On the basis that high monetary costs to maintain imply a high ecological burden on maintenance, maybe these aren't quite the panacea they are made out to be.
Unless, that is, manufacturers pay attention to the maintenance issue.

It's good that US transport is de-carbonizing, but it's not a major contributor to emissions. It gets people's attention because they (most of them) get in a car every day, but it's not where effort needs to be applied.

Oh great, another asshole misusing Twitter for longer-form writing.

Thank you for saying so. There's nothing wrong with the long twitter thread, but at least also put up the text in a proper blog post and link to it. We're not animals.

That's almost exactly what I think when I read these long strings of short messages (18/23). Twitter is a horrible format for anything other than quips.

But I like Dave's suggestion. Unfortunately many of the authors are not "assholes misusing Twitter for longer-form writing" intentionally. They are often well-intentioned thinkers with good messages that they ruin by using the wrong means of communication.

We don't have carbon neutral alternatives to long distance shipping or aircraft flights either.

Weird genetically created plant monsters. Fix nitrogen, produce fatty acid by product and harvested for protein. A plant hideous, ugly and multiplies everywhere, right out of Little Shop of Horrors.

This is parody, right? There is no sense in which "invent solutions and make them cheap" can be considered wisdom.

--but . . . but hasn't Comrade AOC said essentially the same thing in unveiling her "New Green Deal"?

--and no one sees her as any parodist: she's credited already by leading Democratic officeholders and Presidential contenders as a staunch realist.

No point in complaining that the solutions are imaginary when the problem is imaginary! To them, it's all the same.

Parody? I thought the same after reading about "carbon-free farming". If he wants to talk about how farmers can minimize their CO2 emissions, it's "carbon-neutral farming".

Charlatans and knowledgeable people use the same words, the difference is in the idea words try to communicate.

On
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_aviation
it says
>>>From 1992 to 2005, passenger kilometers increased 5.2 percent per year. In the European Union, greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased by 87 percent between 1990 and 2006.[5]

Comprehensive research shows that despite anticipated efficiency innovations to airframes, engines, aerodynamics and flight operations, there is no end in sight, even many decades out, to rapid growth in CO2 emissions from air travel and air freight,[6][7] due to projected continual growth in air travel.[8][9]
<<<
The other cry from ecowarriors is to get people on public surface transport, but this is largely a fallacy as although the "miles per gallon" may be less, many more miles are usually traversed to get from A to B.
The other factor this always misses out is that it places a zero economic value on the passenger's time. As very many trips are business orientated, this seems very relevant.
The solution (for business trips at least) is to move minds not bodies.

Doesn't look like fossil fueled jets are going away anytime soon.

Airbus "anticipates that air traffic will grow at 4.4% annually, requiring some 37,400 new passenger and dedicated freighter aircraft at a value of US$5.8 trillion over the next 20 years."

Airbus states a current order backlog of 7500 jets (all types). Boeing has a backlog of about 5800 commercial jets.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-boeing-revenue-tops-100-billion-20190130-story.html

https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/market/orders-deliveries.html

"The solution (for business trips at least) is to move minds not bodies."

Exactly. A total recreational/leisure travel ban would be another natural and logical response; there really is no justification why you need to travel > 200 miles to "relax." Find a local lake, resort, forest, golf course, etc. instead.

Banning travel to academic and governmental conferences is another no-brainer w.r.t. reducing emissions. You can attend talks just as effectively (if not more so e.g., live close captioning) via video systems.

Thanks for that supporting comment. However a businessman I know said that the views of delegates to meetings of his company who attend by teleconferencing tend to get overturned by those physically present. Unfortunately he is not the leader of the whole company so the obvious solution of making everyone attend by teleconference isn't something he could apply.
Nevertheless there must be some advantage to ecowarriors in that the time spent by employees travelling has to be paid for by companies and this can't pass unnoticed on their accounts.

Here is an article on the latest up and comers in tech that tells all one needs to know why the absence to "invent solutions, drive them down in price, and spread them globally": https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/10/technology/new-wave-unicorn-start-ups.html

No matter what policy is adopted to counter global warming, if indeed there is such a thing or a policy and is, in fact, adopted, no one alive today will ever know if it was a success.

It seems to me relatively easy to measure levels of atmospheric carbon and methane. So if those levels are going down, that is a clear success from the point of view of "climate warriors". If they aren't going down, it isn't a success. It doesn't seem that complicated or that it would take such a long time that someone in their twenties wouldn't know if those levels are falling.

It would be horrible management/policy ... reducing carbon isn't the goal; it's just the means.

Eh, I was just arguing that it will be impossible to judge the success of policies to counter global warming. I don't think it is very difficult, because measuring temperatures isn't difficult, nor is measuring the supposed cause of global warming, greenhouse gases. I really wasn't trying to comment on the wisdom of such things.

The brouhaha over AGW is the latest chapter in a story that began with the supposed depletion of the ozone layer because of the release of chloroflourocarbon refrigerants. Discussion of this phenomenon included daily television news reports of children unable to attend school in southern Argentina for fear of blindness from ultraviolet rays and flocks of sightless Patagonian sheep staggering around in agony. The day the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 those reports came to an end, even though all the specified refrigerants remained in use over most of the world and continued to be released into the atmosphere as they all eventually must be. Based on a computer model rather than true science, the use of these refrigerants has never been actually proven to have any effect on the atmosphere.

Now that the psuedo-scientists have succeeded in an at least a partial ban on chemicals that have immeasurably raised the standard of living of humans all over the world, it's time to move on to the next fear fest, climate change. There's nowhere near enough temperature sampling apparatus scattered over the world to even give an approximation of global temperature change, which would occur even if no humans existed, as it did before humans appeared. For steady-state climate believers, what actually is the "normal" global temperature?

Oh no no no. That is not how they are measuring things at all.

https://www.climatewatchdata.org

Kissing IPCC ass and saying the right thing seem to be the key metrics. Actually reducing emissions is tertiary at best.

I don't see the wisdom.

"it ought to focus on these two sectors – agriculture and industry – that are soon to be the two largest emissions sources, and lack solutions."

No, efforts should focus where greatest return (i.e. reduced impacts of climate change) per unit investment. Those sectors might or might not be those that have large emissions and lack solutions. That might not even be emissions; it could be adaptation, CO2 removal technologies, or solar geoengineering.

"No, efforts should focus where greatest return (i.e. reduced impacts of climate change) per unit investment."

+1, The biggest bang for the buck is in the sectors where the emissions are centralized and solutions can be mass produced.

Also, plenty of not very smart environmentalists conflate AGW with Zero emissions. They are not the same.

If the world froze it's level of emissions at today's level then AGW would be relatively minor. All of the "bad" scenarios assume a much higher level of emissions in the future.

You can think about this as a religious movement. There is sin, predictions of Apocalypse, a path to salvation through sacrifice, sale of indulgences (carbon credits), and heresy (climate deniers). Even a largely corrupt clerisy using the faithful for worldly advantage.

Unfortunately, those who drink this kool-aid are almost uniquely unqualified by temperament and training to design real world continental scale power and industrial systems.

China produced twice as much CO2 as the US. One wonders, given the 12 years to Apocalypse, just what they intend to do about that.

Where is the origin story?

Industrialization.

Essentially, Man was in a pure state of harmony with a sustainable environment and then experienced the original sin of factories and mining

The devil in the form of Adam Smith and industrial capitalism brought the evils of smog, contaminated water, working in a factory for long hours, chemicals, sky scrapers, guns, modern war, etc. Man was corrupted and now lives in a fallen state, out of harmony with nature, destroying nature and ourselves with our evil habits.

I have long found it amusing that these folks use "pre-Industrial" as the criteria, when it's widely known that the current mass extinction began 10-12ka, with the loss of much of the mammalian megafauna. The "state of harmony" didn't work out too well for the biosphere.

It's also amusing how they calculate work hours. The very concept of work as separate from the rest of one's life is an invention of the Industrial Revolution; there was NO distinction for 99% of humanity for 99% of the time. How do you calculate the work hours of a Medieval peasant? A lot of the forms of entertainment were directly tied to agriculture. To give one example: A greased pig contest was good clean fun (well, relatively speaking), but the winner kept the pig--an important consideration, as inbreeding was known to cause problems. Barn raisings were social events, but also produced a tangible good (a barn).

Well, China signed on to the Paris treaty, so they aren't going to do nothing.

The Paris treaty requires China to do exactly that - nothing - before IIRC 2030. After that I’m sure China will do whatever they believe is in China’s best interests, regardless of what the treaty may say.

China will always do what they view as in their best interests. But what country isn’t like that? However, my impression is that Chinese leadership sees climate change as an opportunity. They can manufacture solar panels, electric vehicles, they could perhaps build nuclear power plants, etc., all while reducing the level of toxic particulates in their air. So climate change allows them an opportunity to move up the global value chain while reducing air pollution, which is one of the biggest complaints of ordinary folk in China.

Particulate pollution - the visible pollution that draws complaints - is relatively easy and cheap to address. US coal power plants don’t produce much anymore. Little to do with climate change.

Climate change is a great opportunity for China to get the West to voluntarily make themselves less competitive. One can count on them to support that.

Forget cars (well don't forget them keep them on the path they are but that probably does not need much effort now). Lawn mowers make a larger contribution to pollution than cars now. Think propane and CNG.

Lawn mowers are low hanging fruit. It will be trivial to make battery powered lawn mowers for home use. And they'll be cheaper and easier to operate.

Most of my neighbors already have electric lawn mowers, but they are plug-ins, as that avoids the cost of a battery. They just use an extension cord.

How long a cord can be used?

I would think that if you measured from the outline to the most distant point needing mowing and add 10% you should be there.

In cases where that distance makes it impractical, batteries might work better.

Maybe he's asking what is the maximum cord length permitted? This is a function of the power draw and the cable thickness.

Electric robot mowers are the up and coming thing. If the docking station is also powered by solar panels the only environmental impact is that of their manufacture. In addition, as they mulch mow the lawn the whole time, there is no longer any need for lawn fertiliser.

If they have dedicated solar panels that do nothing other than charge a lawn mover, their low utilisation rate would render them no inefficient that grid-based power would have lower climate impacts in almost any country.

Solar PV panels, operated at full capacity pay back the energy used to manufacture them in 1-2 years. At 10% of that capacity, it would require the entire life of the panel to break even.

The advantage of a solar charged robot lawn mower is that the lawnmower already has a battery and a sensibly designed system would save the problem of a safe wire from the house to the docking station. Also there would be no requirement for a transformer, rectifier and regulator to change mains voltage to dc power at a different voltage.
A possible difficulty lies with some climates that have insufficient direct sunshine, but solar panels work with daylight only, but need to be larger. To avoid regulation problems, the solar panel could be deliberately pointed away from direct sunlight on sunny days.
Another way of looking at the problem may be to have the battery for computation and communications only, and run the motor directly from a solar panel on the lawnmower. There is obviously difficulty with regards to the size of the vehicle required for this, and the size/weight ratio may be an insoluble problem. But it would be a lot simpler than trying to make an electric car powered from panels on the roof as suggested elsewhere on this blog, as the lawnmower doesn't have to carry any load apart from its own weight. A large lightweight structure may suffer in windy areas.

Well, generally speaking, I suppose the less sunny it is the slower the grass will grow.

Science fiction writers who acquire the trendy title "futurist" often seem about as addled, and almost as prescient, as most academic economists.

Take that back!

With all due respect and regard: the Risibility Standards and Jocularity Quotients governing "truth-in-humor" content for posts in public online forums do not permit withdrawing the sound assertion and require no reformulation.

(I thought the characterizations apt and deft.)

(Not to be rude, but: in what decade will excavations permitting lunar archaeology commence? We seem decades behind already.)

In the midst of all the noise here one thought strikes me. So many focus on the stop generating aspect of the problem and too few seem to consider the "how can we use the increasingly abundant" resource we're producing.

Solid waste is often considered the same way. But I think Japan did a pretty good job of building new land with its trash and I suspect other places have too. Before someone thought about such a use, everyone was looking at how to generate less so the landfills didn't overflow.

Agriculture and timber would seem to be the most obvious answer for how to use up any excess atmospheric CO2.

This is related to why Nordhaus advocates carbon pricing at levels that tolerate more temperature increase than the IPCC recommends. Tackling the agriculture piece is going to play a heavy toll on subsistence level populations. The populations will pay a heavy price from global warming as well. They are effectively screwed either way.

A national draft (like during the Vietnam War) to create food recycling stations (for composting), local gardens, rooftop gardens, hobby farms, model farms, tree farms, wetlands, and more. All according to low carbon footprint principles (minimal gasoline, for example.) Perhaps modeled somewhat on the 1933 Civilian Conservation Corps. People would probably end up eating a lot healthier too! Get people ~doing~ something about climate and not just talking about it, and then the sense of personally doing something about it will spread into their other activities. 'Victory gardens' for all! (Yesterday I read something about how diseases reduced the populations of the America's during European contact that it had a major effect on climate. Changing the activities of large numbers of people can make a difference.)

We could also all just have one set of clothing, no pets, eat 1,500 vegetarian calories a day and stop flying around.

But in either case, the authoritarian power required of government to enforce it would be horrific. And ironically, that may be the actual goal of the climate change industry advocates

Never buy Global Warming from someone who eats meat.

Or who is anti-Nuclear.

But in electricity, we have solar, wind, batteries growing & getting cheaper & on path for 70-80% decarbonization *at least*.

Magical unicorn thinking. Battery tech is severely limited by the physical laws of the universe, like solar and wind.

There is simply no way to "decompress" fossil fuel energy into its original form--solar and wind--and have the same efficiency.

And the fundamental point remains unmentioned because it's, well, unmentionable: human activity generates carbon emissions. So you either shrink the number of humans or have them do less. Massive arrays of solar panels and reflective mirrors and enormous wind farms are not going to balance this equation. Not even close.

And no mention of nukes. This is not a serious person.

Isn't this an area where lab grown meat could end up providing an unexpected massive reduction in CO2? The first plane flight happened in 1903. In 10 years you had actual air forces fighting their first battles and the first schedule air passenger service opened. By '39 you had passenger transatlantic service.

Growing meat consumes a lot of time, resources and land. If lab meat pulls it off, I could see it being adopted with the speed of the iphone and then you get a massive reduction in emissions plus a lot of land that is returned to nature and likely reforestation.

"If lab meat pulls it off, I could see it being adopted with the speed of the iphone "

That's the time-frame I thought once it seemed that lab meat was almost indistinguishable from meat - at least for chicken. I thought within ten years it will steadily grow to become very popular, which is about how long it took for smart phones to be almost everywhere.

Campaign 2028: A lab chicken in every pot and a Segway in every garage!

a Segway in every garage

Not until Segway has its Henry Ford and gets the price down by at least a factor of 5

1. Move industrial production off shore. Easy.
2. Move the first presidential primaries away from agricultural States. Change the electoral college system to take away the influence of the remaining agricultural States. Then regulate the hell out of agriculture. Production would shrink. Problem solved.
3. Regulate oil and gas production out of existence in the US. The Russians would love that.

Meat is a problem because as industrial and agricultural production is moved out of the US other countries would prosper and start eating more meat. Surely there are ways to disrupt economies to keep them poor.

The net result would be poverty and starvation. That would reverse the trend towards low birth rates in developed countries, increasing population pressures on the environment.

If i could make a suggestion. This stuff ultimately is a technical problem, and done badly can fail catastrophically, making the consequences of global warming manageable in comparison.

1 please if you are going to suggest something, keep in mind the first law of thermodynamics. If everyone is an electric car tomorrow there would be coal electrical generating plants built everywhere. And there are hard numbers of energy losses as you transform it from one to the other. And energy life costs, ie someone has to consume energy to manufacture the shiny new toys that are going to save the world.

2. If nuclear isn't mentioned as a solution to every problem the author isn't serious, or they are and really mean poverty by decree.

3. Please push back on the activists. This is a technical problem. I think it is a very serious problem where the "solutions" are very likely to make the situation worse.

4. Wealthy countries can afford to be good stewards of the environment. When China is wealthy they will clean up their environment. Right now they don't even heat their homes.

5. If this is a problem that needs to be solved, if it is an existential crisis, prove it. Having half of the engineers women is not going to solve global warming. Prosecuting blackface isn't going to solve goal warming. Neither is free healthcare.

6 cut the apocalyptic bs. 150 years ago the US was full of apocalyptic sects. They didn't age well. None of the predictions about global warming so far have either. This is either a serious issue that needs serious people to come up with serious solutions, or it is a minstrel show. Make up for minds.

7. Your biggest problem right now is that no one believes a word you say. Stop lying.

"If nuclear isn't mentioned as a solution to every problem the author isn't serious, or they are and really mean poverty by decree."

Well stated. And thanks for saving me the time - there's no point in reading Naam's piece.

He made some mistakes in his thinking by just buying popular images and not understanding the details. The problem of using Google.com vs using scholar.Google.com as an information source.

On his meat/agriculture issue, he didn't include aquaculture as a meat source but people view shrimp/fish as meat when they construct a meal and nutritionists/biologists support that view of "meat". The ability of aquatic animals to convert "feed stuff's" (ingredients used to make all kinds of animals diets from fish feed to pig feed) into meat is about three times better than chickens and pigs and 10 times better than cattle. Fish don't waste energy or structural tissue standing up or keeping warm.

It takes 1.0 lb of salmon feed to make 1 lb of live salmon with a 65% meat yield and 2 lb of chicken feed to make 1 lb of live chicken at about 45% meat yield. This efficiency improvement is so large that using less than the existing land area for agriculture "feed stuffs" crops (corn, soy, rye, etc), and switching the meat supply from cattle, pigs and chicken to fish and shrimp will allow providing meat to the 3 billion more people on the way on this finite planet. This is without agricultural yield increases or forcing everyone to go vegan.

Aquaculture worldwide is already larger than the wild fisheries or cattle and is and has been the fastest growing agriculture sector for decades at close to double-digit levels worldwide. The US is the only coastal country that has zero to negative growth in the Aquaculture sector combined with the largest about of offshore EEZ of all the countries. The US issue is all regulatory with no agency able to even issue permission for offshore aquaculture in federal waters.

The subject author's vision of the meat systems was shaped by the anti-aquaculture propaganda in the US put out by activists and commercial fishermen protecting their fundraising and commercial interests.

Why is seafood more expensive than pork or chicken when I go to buy it in the grocery store?

He mentions China once... in a positive context. Serious thinker, that fellow!

I'll leave this here: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45640706

Money quote: "According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), for the world to limit warming to below 1.75C above pre-industrial conditions, China would have to close all its power plants that don't have carbon capture and storage facilities within 30 years."

Sure, that'll happen. And then there is India...

Why does no one discuss Chinese offset? And why does no one make a bigger deal about the fact that the European shift to high carbon taxes and alt fuels have actually caused them to miss their Kyoto targets? Yet the US actually would have made the Kyoto targets thanks to fracking? If Europe can't even show progress relative to the US despite their costly taxes, why should we follow suit? And how much will this costly enterprise really help the world if it simply results in increasing Chinese and non-US exports in dirty products? Will the net effect be even remotely helpful even if we assume that a sane, moderate version of Greening were to be imposed in the most ideal, efficient, manner possible? That of course, being unlikely and hence diminishing the claims even further.

Policy. The best book I've read that presents a literature on policy, including the sectors mentioned above, is by Hal Harvey. There's a simulator at energy policy solutions, too. I also recommend Hawken's Drawdown--its website is also pretty easy to navigate if you can't find the book. As for agriculture, if you use GPS and an electric motor to move a cultivator, seeder, etc., it looks like American agriculture cuts a lot of its carbon emissions. A final note, when people write "we need to invent" or "we need to take the lead," I often think we actually need to look at what others have done--more policy and technology exists than people seem to realize--in fact, isn't this one of TC's laws? I'm not saying this is an easy issue to navigate and resolve, but I hope this helps.

Let me ask a naive question:

What in agriculture and farming causes massive emission of CO2 ?

If we burn forest to get new lands for farming, I get it, this is a net increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. But if we assume the amount of land given to agriculture and farming constant, isn't the whole activity essentially a cycle, which should be almost carbon-neutral?

Naively, wheat in a field grows; it absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. People eat bread and pasta made with the wheat, and take the carbon in their body -- the field is bare after the harvest. They go to the gym to work out, and release their carbion in form of CO2. This CO2 is absorbed by the growing wheat of the next season. Everything is like one year ago.

In other words, if the agriculture creates net CO2 emission, where does the carbon comes from?

Now, I understand that my account is simplified, because there are two greenhouse gases involved, CO2 and methane. If methane is much more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, then I understand that growing grass or corn and feed it to cows who release methane is not good for the AGW, not because it increases the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere, but because it decreases it, in favor of methane. But is that the sole effect? Is the agriculture bad for AGS only because it produces methane, not because it produces CO2? Or am I missing something? When I hear people talking about the importance of agriculture in AGS, I don't often see this mentioned...

Great question. Study the carbon cycle.

Fertilizers and hydrocarbons burned by tractors, generators, and power stations are major contributors--they move carbon from the lithosphere and into the atmosphere.

You also have to consider the efficiency of various greenhouse gasses. CO2 isn't terribly efficient at trapping heat; water vapor and methane are better. So converting CO2 to methane (via various intermediate steps) would increase warming potential.

The generation of various chemical fertilizers and pesticides can also contribute. Modern farming isn't just planting, waiting, and harvesting.

I will admit that the argument is fairly convoluted and not immediately obvious to folks not familiar with it already. (Please also note that I am reporting, not evaluating, these arguments; I am intentionally refraining from making any comment on what I believe on the subject.)

What he ignores is removal of co2 from the air.

>If the US is serious about climate policy

In terms of seriousness, it should rank just below Unicorn Policy.

If we could get the IPCC and their anti-American bias to stop perverting climate policy, I expect Americans would be a lot more supportive!

Weren't the dutch on track to save us all with their Green Valley?
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/09/holland-agriculture-sustainable-farming/

Twitter is ripe for disruption. Who the f wants to read anything serious in tiny blurbs completely lack in references? Any yet time and time again people go through the trouble of posting serious thought in tiny increments, manually numbering each.

It's absurd, both for authors and readers.

Thanks for the shout-out, Tyler.

Ag is verging on xformation. Meat will be synthesized. Many crops will be indoors. 24 hr “sunshine” from solar at just the right frequency. No pesticides, less fertilizer and a fraction of the water. The only thing out of whack is the timeline. Way too late. Geoengineering is coming.

Who says that a bit of warmer and wetter weather and a longer growing season is a bad thing? Don't these so-called 'experts' know that we are in an interglacial that is located within an icehouse era, that CO2 emissions are a good thing for the biosphere, or that warmer means better living conditions for people?

The entire AGW mythology was built up by people who wanted to benefit from the ability of government bureaucrats to write regulations and redistribute money. Anyone who bought into the scam and is advocating for the idiotic nonsense that would have us give up our liberty and destroy our economies deserves what s/he gets.

Whereas I agree with the dislike of lawyer-political classes that seek rent, fees or salaries from redistributing other people's money, I don't think it is correct that these government bureaucrats and hangers-on benefit from being against global warming.
AGW people will not travel as much therefore they are more "under the radar" of governments compared with those that do.
People who have investment income are taxed. People who spend the same amount of capital on renewable generating equipment aren't penalised on the income of power they receive from it.
People who run electric cars do not pay road fuel duty and additional taxes thereon.

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