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Big Oil Says You’re to Blame For Climate Change, Not Them

“Global increases in CO2 concentrations are due primarily to fossil fuel use…” — IPCC.

“Over the last century the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).”NASA.

“The IPCC does not say it’s the extraction and production of oil that is driving these emissions. It’s economic activity that creates the demand for energy, and that leads to emissions.”Chevron’s attorney in an ongoing California climate change liability suit.

*****

After years of encountering this argument in the chat forum below, we could well have seen it going mainstream from a mile away.

To bring everyone up to speed, Big Oil and other fossil fuel giants are being put on trial for their role in producing climate harming carbon emissions. Low lying coastal cities like San Francisco are claiming that impacts like sea level rise caused by those carbon emissions are going to be costly to deal with. They’ll have to build coastal defenses with price tags at least in the tens of millions (and probably more) to protect valuable neighborhoods and industries in the very near future.

(Big oil says they just sell the products that cause climate change. The fact that people in captive energy markets have little choice but to use them is not their fault, they say.Image source: Inside Climate News.)

But Big Oil which for years denied that climate change was happening (after they did the science that proved it was), and for still more years denied that it would be damaging, has now added a new deflection to their arsenal of distraction. They’ve come up with a perfect scape goat for the problem they’ve contributed so much to over the years. Who’s that? Well it’s you. Yes — YOU.

The argument goes something like this — climate change is happening, the IPCC proves it, it’s caused by human economic activity and energy use, so it’s not our fault.

We could well call this climate change denial argument # 5,000 — deny responsibility for harms done by blaming the victim which is humankind and related human civilization itself. Never mind the fact that fossil fuel companies have lobbied for decades to prevent government policy that would actually reduce climate harms by cutting carbon emissions. Never mind the fact that monopolistic fossil fuel companies did everything they could since their inception to corner the energy market and keep humans like you and me captive to fossil fuel use. Never mind that these corporations have fought alternative, clean, non-carbon emitting energy sources like wind and solar tooth and nail — going so far as to produce public relations campaigns that demonize these non-carbon energy sources.

(An expose on just one of many fossil fuel based industry attacks on non-carbon emitting sources during recent years. Video source: The Young Turks.)

Now they want to blame you for the damage they fought so long to ensure.

We’ll see how that argument flies in court. Because it’s likely that a growing list of oil, coal, and gas companies are going to be asked to pay for the damage they’ve caused. The damage that they’ve fought and lobbied for over the course of years and decades in the political sphere. They were both the author of the damage and the authors of denial. And I think there will be many more legal and social bills for their various wrongs and excesses that start coming due.

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105 Comments

  1. Keith Antonysen

     /  March 24, 2018

    Logically, it makes no sense to blame Us. Executive and workers of fossil fuel companies also use fossil fuels. Arguably Executives might travel more than their workers, and so are more culpable.
    Also, there are hangers on such as Monckton and Lindzen offering points which do not fit in with the points Chevron’s barrister is making, displaying mutually exclusive views on climate change.

    https://insideclimatenews.org/news/20032018/climate-change-denial-monckton-soon-koonin-california-cities-lawsuit-judge-science-tutorial

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/mar/23/in-court-big-oil-rejected-climate-denial

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    • It’s the usual plethora of distractions and inconsistencies. But this time, it’s not in a forum or on a talk show. In the legal frame it becomes painfully clear how little water the claims hold. It’s the Michael Mann defamation suit all over again. But on a far grander scale.

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  2. That is one smart judge and some super dumb deniers

    What is the basis not only of this case, but the NY case against Exxon and the kids case.

    And the judge encouraged idiots to shoot themselves in both feet and in the process they loaded up their AK47’s with the biggest magazines, fitted their bump stocks and took aim at their funders, the Fossil Fuel Companies feet and legs and let go

    The judge mandated that those submitting briefs detail their funding sources, and they listed a litany of oil companies and fossil fuel-funded think tanks. Among those listed by Monckton and Soon’s group were ExxonMobil, the Heartland Institute, and the Charles G. Koch Foundation. Among those listed by Happer, Koonin, and Lindzen were the Heritage Foundation, Peabody Coal, the Cato Institute, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

    Now on permanent sworn record

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    • Excellent analysis here, Frank.

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      • Allan Barr

         /  March 24, 2018

        Heartland and Heritage both get funding from the Koch brothers and also the Mercer family as well. The citizens United decision really needs to get overturned before we start to see a semblance of democracy and common sense return back to American politics.

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        • Citizens United did open the flood gates for dark money. It also made it more likely that foreign governments would try to influence U.S. elections. Repealing Citizens United and strengthening campaign finance laws is the election equivalent of a well regulated financial market — far less likely to see abusive practices, exploitation, harm and excess. Without a Citizens United repeal, actual citizens (not the corporate kind) will have to do a lot more work and diligence researching political candidates funding streams as well as keeping on top of factual information (weeding out misinformation). Polling shows that the majority of Americans oppose Citizens United.

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  3. Tony

     /  March 24, 2018

    It’s ridiculous for the fossil fuel companies to say they only get the stuff out of the ground and they aren’t responsible for how it’s used. They spend a fortune persuading us to use the stuff, lobbying governments to promote its use and blocking more sensible ways of living.

    Having said that, to some degree Big Oil is correct. It is the sum of the decisions people have made, almost the world over, that have led us to where we are. Admittedly, it’s become very difficult to make sound ecological decisions on how we behave as almost all the better choices have been virtually removed from us. But, to a large extent all users of energy are to blame. Are we still making bad choices?

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    • If you live in modern society it’s nearly impossible to avoid emitting carbon by simply living. This is in large part due to the monopolization of the energy system by fossil fuels and by their continuous political activity aimed at denying people alternative energy choices. If you eat and want to live in shelter, stay cool enough to stay healthy in the summer and warm enough to do the same in the winter, in the present system you have practically no choice but to emit carbon by burning fossil fuels. You’re a captive consumer. Transportation same issue. And the actual means to change that system — pro efficiency and pro clean energy policies — are often blocked or delayed by fossil fuels.

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      • Mblanc

         /  March 26, 2018

        Captive consumers indeed, great term that, and we have more than a touch of Stockholm Syndrome after all this time.

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        • If you communicate with fossil fuel interests on a regular basis, I’m sure you do. You have to consciously go through various arguments and weed out non-factual stuff and outright lies. It’s like having a mental deflector shield.

          And the angling can get pretty intense. Just yesterday, I was having a conversation with a hydrogen economy proponent. After a while I realized they were giving false information — stating things like pvc pipe as well as most existing pipe could be used to transport hydrogen, that it was easy to store etc. Of course hydrogen is a beast to store and pipe — requiring special linings or high quality materials to resist corrosion and leaks. Tougher than LNG — which adds to costs. In the U.S., we’ve got only 700 miles of pipelines rated to transport hydrogen. And it’s this infrastructure constraint that has helped to hold back forays into the so-called hydrogen economy for years and decades.

          Hydrogen also has a bit of fossil fuel conflict of interest bias. Most hydrogen (90 percent) presently comes from reformed natural gas. And the reformation process is much more carbon intensive than simply burning the natural gas. Companies like Shell are heavily invested in hydrogen from reformed gas. With the present cost of electrolysis based hydrogen at x2 that of hydrogen from reformation and due to the fungibility of the present hydrogen market, you can see that an oil company might be looking at hydrogen as a way to ‘hide fossil fuel use.’

          It became clear to me that this particular communicator was basing his arguments from this frame of reference when he began making non-factual statements about batteries, wind and solar. Making bald, blanket statements like you can’t generate heat or thermal capacity from electricity or renewables (incorrect). Having been around the block a few times, I’ve heard this argument coming from fossil fuel sources far more instances than counting on toes and fingers ;). And his frequent mention of Shell gave me ample reason to suspect that he was an industry rep.

          IF I’d lacked savvy and been willing to take his statements at face value, I’d have come away with these incorrect notions:

          1. Hydrogen vehicles are less expensive than EVs. Incorrect — they’re still about 50 to 100 percent more expensive than EVs on average.
          2. Hydrogen vehicles are run on electrolysized hydrogen. Incorrect — they run on 90 percent average reformed hydrogen at present which is one reason why their mpge ratings are consistently lower than EVs. EV mpge typically range from 80 to 120 mpge while fuel cell vehicles mpge range from 50 to 70 presently.
          3. That hydrogen is easy to store. Incorrect — hydrogen requires pressurized, specially lined containers to prevent leaking and corrosion, adding to costs.
          4. That hydrogen is easy to transport. Incorrect — hydrogen requires specially lined pipes to transport as gas.
          5. That hydrogen vehicles are widely available now. Incorrect — hydrogen fuel cell vehicles sold less than 3,500 last year vs 1.1 million EVs sold worldwide.
          6. That EVs are only short range. Incorrect, many EVs have ranges from 200 to 500 miles presently and ranges are increasing.
          7. That batteries only store energy for a few days. Brazenly incorrect. Batteries can store energy for weeks to months. This particular statement greatly overstated the rate of loss for lithium EV batteries which is about 1 percent of charge per day. Although its worth noting that grid storage batteries are often designed to store energy for longer periods.

          I’d just generally add that given the fact that batteries are becoming more energy dense, that they can increasingly be used to replace fossil fuel based ground transport. But, at this time, they are also making considerable forays into air and marine transport designs. The capacity for wind + solar + concentrated solar + batteries to replace fossil fuel based energy applications is greater than it ever has been. And it keeps expanding. And I think this is very threatening to those established industries. Some of which I think are clinging to the old, slow-walk, that is the hydrogen economy as a way to use PR to reduce confidence in the electrical revolution.

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        • Robert, in relation to Hydrogen production there is a third method, IP protected with a pilot plant operating converting Natural Gas to 2H2 + C – so hydrogen and pure Carbon (synthetic graphite) , Major steel producing companies are showing interest
          https://newswire.iguana2.com/af5f4d73c1a54a33/hzr.asx/6A876545/HZR_Investor_Presentation
          The Hazer Process developed in conjunction with the University of W.A (They have gas and iron ore – both used in the process.

          Much cheaper, minimal CO2 production and two valuable products, now how to trap the methane from the wet melted permafrost

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        • An interesting pilot process that could actually do something if it climbed out of the pilot stage.

          But what I’ve encountered over the past week is a boatload of people using hydrogen to attack EVs at exactly their moment of realization. This is dramatically counter-productive.

          Processes like these may well be a part of the solution if they can learn to fly. But we should be very clear that this is not anywhere near scale at this time and we need to move on the energy transition now. Not wait another ten years as another new tech gets validated and then shot down.

          IMO, hydrogen is more a 10-15 year horizon thing. EVs are now.

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      • Tony

         /  March 27, 2018

        Yes, it’s been made tough to make choices which avoid emissions. No question. Has it been made impossible? Probably. But I still feel we’re making bad choices because the better choices are more (sometimes much more) inconvenient. I’m reminded about Kevin Anderson’s decision years ago to not use air travel. He’s by no means perfect (and will admit that himself) but he’s had to put up with a lot of inconvenience to avoid supporting one of the worst industries.

        It’s hard to make the right choices. Not just because one has to put up with inconveniences but one also has to take account of the wishes of others (including loved ones) who might not be on the same page. A kind of peer pressure. However much one tries, one could always do better.

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        • Individually, depending on where you live, you can make responsible choices that greatly reduce your emissions. That said, the impact of your individual actions are greatly multiplied or reduced if you live in a society that incentivizes clean energy/low emissions choices or places barriers to making those choices. Since the problem is systemic, government policy from the local level on up, therefore, has the impact of either enabling or removing individual choice. It is for this reason that fossil fuel companies lobby so heavily. They are trying to make you a captive user to their fuels.

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  4. Sorry, but selling fossil fuels is not a crime. And yes, we – you me and every person who turns an ignition key to start their ICE car or burns gas or oil to heat their home has some responsibility for AGW. But not the major responsibility. That falls to our people in government – our legislators and the EPA.

    But I believe there is and has been a huge crime committed. A crime for which people should be prosecuted. A crime for which some people should be incarcerated. And a crime for which some people should be put to death.

    And that crime is, I believe, a Crime against Humanity as specified by the International Criminal Court. It is the crime for which Joseph Goebbels would have been prosecuted for by the ICC if he had not committed suicide. A crime which carried the penalty of death by hanging.

    Joseph Goebbels was the Nazi Minister of propaganda. He never shot a single person. He never dropped a bomb. But he designed and prosecuted a deliberately deceitful campaign of propaganda which resulted in the deaths of 8 million Jews and “undesirables”. A Crime Against Humanity.

    And that is exactly what the Koch brothers, and Rush Limbaugh, and the Heartland Institute et al have been doing. Except what they have done is much worse than what Goebbels and Hitler accomplished. Hitler and Goebbels only killed 8 million people. The deliberately deceitful campaign of professional climate deniers to poison public understanding of AGW, to disparage the scientific consensus, to corrupt the information getting to legislators – all this in the name of mere personal profit – will result in the slow-motion murder of billions of people and species. This is the worst thing that humans have ever done to humans in all the sordid history of humanity.

    This is their crime. Not misleading shareholders. Not selling gasoline. Their crime calls for more than some monetary compensation. It demands incarceration and/or execution.

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    • So the plaintiffs in the case are claiming liability. This includes not just selling fossil fuels, but behaving in a manner that generates an onerous capture of markets and denial of energy choice. This is, of course, on top of defrauding the public discourse by generating false doubt about climate change.

      In other words, if the product was sold under false pretense, then yes a solid case can be made for liability. Especially when the damages involved, and in this case covered up, are so vast.

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    • As Peter Sinclair put it six years ago: ” Those who spread the misinformation and outright lies of the climate denial industry, are useful idiots of some of history’s coldest and greediest killers.

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  5. Eric Smith

     /  March 24, 2018

    So, how come the oil company can feign mea culpa by saying it was the users fault, but Trump and Jeff “Nancy Reagan” Sessions use the argument that it is the drug dealers fault? We’re only addicts because they (the oil cartels) cegornered the market and made sure we had to use the stuff ( removing trolley systems & streetcars).

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  6. We use fossil fuels for the same reason previous societies used Slaves, horses and coal-fired steam engines.

    It provides useful work that vastly improves our lives beyond what we can achieve with our own muscle power. One horse power is greater than one manpower. Steam engines were measured in horse power. Cars still are.

    Replacing manpower (slavery) for ethical reasons, with other forms of energy use (steam engines?) was socially divisive. In one nation it led to civil war. In human history a slave was a machine requiring minimal maintenance and fuelled by carbohydrates, where the ownership or control of that resource multiplied power and wealth. IIRC slave and horse prices are comparable in terms of power available over time.
    Replacing coal fired steam engines has happened largely by the ‘invisible hand’ of market forces and more efficient energy sources. Although still exploiting the same chemistry of burning fossil fuel.
    ( oh wait…
    https://www.iea.org/etp/tracking2017/coal-firedpower/
    )

    The replacement of fossil fuels for environmental reasons, without a strong market driven alternative, could lead to wars between regions/cultures that demand change, and States that resist the economic loss resulting from the abolition of fossil fuels.

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    • The fossil fuel industry has, for a long time, referred to energy in this context – energy slaves. This frame of reference has led to a number of antiquated and harmful conclusions. But one is the continued odd sympathy of the industry for the Confederacy in the U.S. and the slavery based system it defended. Presently, fossil fuels are defending an energy system that produces high profits on the back of serious, civilization-threatening harms to the global community. Meanwhile, the industry suppresses access to viable clean energy sources that over time are more than capable of serving as their replacements.

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  7. Sure. The river has been poisoned by the dead fish and not by the chemicals it has been contaminated with.

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  8. I’m actually missing the like button for comments here.

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  9. Eugene

     /  March 24, 2018

    Get over it people. We all played. Nobody made us take Sunday drives, move to the suburbs, fly to Europe or whatever you’re game is/was. I’m 76 and have consumed my share of fossil fuels even after I recognized it was a problem 3 decades ago. Not once in all my yrs, did somebody put a gun to my head and say “buy or I’ll kill you”. There are no innocents in this game. We are in a game of our own creation. There was more than enough information, for a long time, out there for a person to make up their own mind. it appears to me that people make up their mind according to what they really want to do. I simply don’t choose to play victim.

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    • I don’t agree with you, Eugene. You can hardly escape the fossil fuel’o’mania. That’s a matter of politics. And politics is a matter of big money, in particular in the US and A. Climate change denial funded by the fossil fuel industry has significantly altered what we believe should be sane politics. US politics is poisoned by interests that don’t care about the people. That’s the result of your turbo capitalism. And as usual, these capitalists don’t sign responsible for anything. That’s the principle of privatising the profits and socialising the losses which has to be stopped. The sooner the better.

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    • Eugene? Are you for real? Painting the world with one brush.

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    • Jeremy in Wales

       /  March 24, 2018

      Big Oil and Governments were aware by 1960 that the release of CO2 was a particular problem, see page 56 onwards of the attached by Edward Teller no less
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_oMDcHmFgFpBADQgh9pMSsOiszcZELfj/view
      Big Oil had 25 years to develop and invest in alternatives before the general public became aware of the problem – they did little to nothing.

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      • paul

         /  March 25, 2018

        Neither did we vote for anyone that might do it on our behalf.

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        • Not true. In most cases prior to 2000 practically every politician talked up environmental response. At the time, there was more a of blind under which lobbyists could operate and influence without being subject to as much public scrutiny.

          In truth, since at least the 80s, republicans have tended to sand bag environmental and clean energy policies while democrats have historically tended to advance them. So there isn’t a policy equivalency between the two.

          Obama, for example, also ran on a clean energy mandate and pushed a number of very strong clean energy policies — some of which passed Congress or became ingrained in agencies like EPA. Trump is now trying to uproot many of these policies and is encountering a tough legal fight.

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    • Mblanc

       /  March 26, 2018

      I think the ‘no one put a gun to our heads’ idea is a bit of a strawman, because no one is saying they did. It was done by relentless economic nudging from FF subsidies and disinvestment in alternatives, as much as anything.

      But I do have a certain amount of sympathy with the general point that we all (or nearly all) do have to carry some responsibility, in the same way consumers have failed to ask enough questions about the environmental and social provenance of many of the everyday items we use.

      I think it took a long time for what Big FF knew to trickle out into the public domain, because the whole thing was played down by the merchants of doubt, but we have increasingly few excuses for not doing the best we can to moderate our polluting activities.

      Years ago, I read somewhere that any genuine skepticism became intellectually unsustainable in 1998, when the satellite record was finally tied into the ground temperature record. Maybe that was a point at which we conclusively have to accept that we should have been throwing everything into the fight, as individuals and as a society. Of course, others may point to Hansen’s testimony in the late 80’s, as that was another potential game changing moment.

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      • There was quite a bit of psychological intimidation going on. False notions perpetuated like — without oil, civilization would collapse. The truth was that civilization needed energy of some kind. But the fossil fuel companies have long made the false claim that fossil fuels were the root of all energy.

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    • Tony

       /  March 27, 2018

      That’s pretty much the point I made above, Eugene. I think you have missed out a large dollop of culpability on the part of the fossil fuel companies, though. Through their actions, they’ve created the environment whereby it’s easier to make the bad choices, and many of use take the easy paths. However, you’re right that we didn’t have to, and don’t have to, make all the choices we do, which have exacerbated the problem. I feel guilty every time I do something that worsens the situation.

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      • From a systemic level, ease of use is a tool that drives demand. Difficulty of use generates serious reductions and degradation in demand. Difficulty means that many people will be unable to make the right choice due to their individual environment and circumstances. In this way, it denies choice — maybe not for everyone, but for most.

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        • Tony

           /  March 27, 2018

          Quite right. I’d add that humans have a characteristic species behaviour, given a particular set of circumstances. In a broad sense, we can’t help but make the choices we do. Which does not look good for our futures.

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    • Paul in WI

       /  March 24, 2018

      Thanks for this. More good documentation of the lies and deceit of the fossil fuel industries.

      We can’t say that we weren’t warned. For a journey down memory lane (and for those of you too young to remember this) here are a couple of links to articles dated June 24, 1988 from the archives of the New York Times and the Washington Post covering NASA scientist James Hansen’s testimony before a Senate panel about climate change. Although there was no definite link to the greenhouse effect, the severe heat and widespread drought of 1988 in the central U.S. gave credence to his testimony as foreshadowing the types of climate changes that could become more frequent in a warming world. I know that it got my attention at the time.

      As far as I know, this was the first time that the greenhouse effect received widespread news coverage as a result of a scientist being bold enough to publicly state before a governmental body that global warming was real and was already changing the climate. Although the timing of some of the predictions of those early computer models may have been off to some extent, most of his testimony is prescient to what we see happening today.

      Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate:

      SCIENTIST SAYS GREENHOUSE EFFECT IS SETTING IN
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1988/06/24/scientist-says-greenhouse-effect-is-setting-in/3844f00f-42f4-420f-8811-62de6c989d8f/?utm_term=.275a419289c0

      Too bad no significant action on addressing climate change was taken back then.

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  10. Syd Bridges

     /  March 24, 2018

    I hope you don’t mind this somewhat OT comment, Robert.

    I have been seeing a number of reports recently of the increasing danger to satellites and astronauts from a recent 30 percent increase in galactic cosmic rays (GCRs). These reports reminded me of a group of snake oil salesmen based around Henrik Svensmark. I read his, and Nigel Calder’s book, “The Chilling Stars.” which I thought was full of hyperbole, with little real evidence. “The Scientific Establishment” was, of course, trying in every underhand manner possible, to crush this noble seeker after truth. His claims were refuted by a number of scientists, including Lockwood (2012), Sloan and Wolfendale )2013) and Rasmus Benetstad on realclimate.org in 2013.

    Has anything further been heard from this Cabal, with GCRs at their highest in many years and the Sun at it’s weakest, while global temperatures are soaring? These events would appear to have driven a stake through the heart of the GCR claims. I wonder whether he got money from Big Oil?

    One of the articles was:

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180315110634.htm

    A couple of paragraphs.

    “The radiation dose rates from measurements obtained over the last four years exceeded trends from previous solar cycles by at least 30 percent, showing that the radiation environment is getting far more intense,” said Nathan Schwadron, professor of physics and lead author of the study. “These particle radiation conditions present important environmental factors for space travel and space weather, and must be carefully studied and accounted for in the planning and design of future missions to the moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond.”

    In their study, recently published in the journal Space Weather, the researchers found that large fluxes in Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) are rising faster and are on path to exceed any other recorded time in the space age. They also point out that one of the most significant Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) events happened in September 2017 releasing large doses of radiation that could pose significant risk to both humans and satellites. Unshielded astronauts could experience acute effects like radiation sickness or more serious long-term health issues like cancer and organ damage, including to the heart, brain, and central nervous system.

    Where are all those extra clouds to cool us down?

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    • bill h

       /  March 24, 2018

      Syd, it may be off topic , but nevertheless worth bringing this “norse saga” to people’s attention. Svensmark seems to have gone very quiet these last five years or so, having failed to present a convincing case for correlation between cosmic rays and global temperature, at least on the time scale of the last hundred years. As for Calder, former editor of New Scientist, he died some years ago now. I found his ineffable smugness a sufficient deterrent to buy his book: delusional comparisons between Svensmark’s notions and the Plate Tectonics “revolution”. Svensmark’s “revolution” has been more than 20 years in gestation: successful scientific revolutions invariably get strong traction in a far shorter space of time. That’s the funny thing about the AGW denialists’ claim to be overthrowing a failed orthodoxy: the sheer length of time this process has been going on, and they still can’t settle on a coherent model to replace the “failed” model. They were already proclaiming the revolution at the time of Hansen’s 1988 testimony, mentioned already in this thread: THIRTY YEARS AGO.

      Someone once said that scientific revolutions proceed one funeral at a time as the old guard die off; in this case it would appear that the funerals are those of the “revolutionaries”.

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      • Mblanc

         /  March 26, 2018

        Oh the fun we had with Cosmic Rays, took me right back to denier memes of yore! What a bunch of denier nonsense that was.

        The thing about denier memes is they don’t have to work forever, they just need to muddy the waters for long enough for ordinary readers to get bored and move on to something else.

        Imho, New Scientist was quite rubbish (or at least very patchy) for a long time, on AGW. I think it is now a good source, but it has carried some pretty shameful stuff in the not to distant past.

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    • It was misinformation. I’m not sure how much more comment is needed other than that these kind of myths often serve as shiny objects to distract public attention from real issues.

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    • In their heads.

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  11. Jeremy in Wales

     /  March 24, 2018

    UK government have turned down a planning application to allow a opencast coal mine to be developed in Northumberland, England. The interesting part is that the government minister cited enviromental damage in particular climate change
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/23/minister-rejects-opencast-coal-mine-northumberland-citing-climate-change-fears

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    • Interesting and positive statement here. Nice to see that the U.K. is making this move RE coal.

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    • John S

       /  March 28, 2018

      I think the rapidly maturing science of extreme weather event attribution has something to do with this decision.
      Attribution science has greatly increased the risk of climate litigation over the lifetime of any new ff project. It’s only a matter time before there is legal precedent.
      Also one would expect to see attribution science leading to increased public accountability for such projects (at least in functioning democracies).

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  12. Paul in WI

     /  March 24, 2018

    Finally, here’s a little bit of good news. Despite the current anti-science/anti-environment government in the U.S., the new budget that was signed into law yesterday (despite the president’s veto threat) maintains or even includes increases spending levels for many science and environmental programs, including for climate change.

    How Did Climate and Clean Energy Programs Fare in the 2018 Federal Budget?
    https://blog.ucsusa.org/rob-cowin/how-did-climate-and-clean-energy-programs-fare-in-the-2018-federal-budget?_ga=2.5649395.1596635525.1521909547-263372196.1521909547

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  13. Paul in WI

     /  March 24, 2018

    Here’s an article from the Huffington Post that relates to this conversation:

    The Climate Is Changing For Climate Skeptics

    Here’s an excerpt from the article:

    SAN FRANCISCO ― Climate change skeptics may have outlived their usefulness to the fossil fuel industry.

    That was one of the key takeaways from a five-hour climate tutorial held Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Judge William Alsup, who has a history of digging into the scientific and technical details of the cases before him, ordered the tutorial to better understand climate science before presiding over a case in which the cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing the five largest fossil fuel companies ― ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips and Shell ― over the damages of climate change.

    Although both sides presented the science that would seem to most help their cases, it was clear that the age of discrediting climate science in general is over. Faced with media investigations,fraud probes and at least a dozen climate liability suits from coastal cities facing large bills as they attempt to adapt to climate change-induced sea level rise, fossil fuel companies have been forced to move away from the position that climate science is invalid or that human-caused emissions don’t contribute to climate change. Instead, they’re focused on emphasizing a history of uncertainty in climate science, downplaying the severity of climate change and minimizing their role in it.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/climate-changing-climate-skeptics-001944867.html

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    • So I think that climate change denial has received a number of blows. That said, I don’t think it has gone away entirely. Denial is opportunistic and always tends to circle back. I would say that denial tends to discredit the source, however. So climate change deniers are now often masking denial behind more seeming-plausible arguments.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  14. miles h

     /  March 24, 2018

    the email about this post came through to my inbox as message number 666… you trying to tell me something? 😀

    Like

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  15. Craig Teller

     /  March 24, 2018

    The oil companies are going out of business. They know it. And they’re trying to put off the day.

    The smart people, even if you’re inclined to think like ‘strictly business’ oil investors, are thinking it through, and are already divesting. And many of those people are now investing in alternative energy. Many of the people divesting, by the way, are universities and pension funds for teachers (well, they’re not caught up in their ego traps).

    Look, just to keep things real, the fossil fuel companies created the modern world as we know it, including the scientific organizations that tell us, truthfully, that we can no longer afford global warming. Or CO2 emissions.

    But, keeping it real, clean tech has come of age. The sooner we get off of fossil fuels by embracing clean tech, the better off we’ll be. If oil people are screaming because they’re not smart enough to diversify their holdings, hey, that just shows they could care less about tomorrow. Yeah, sometimes they’re scary. Trump and Vladimir are doing everything they can to create that impression. But fear is all they have. It’s time to move on.

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. Syd Bridges

     /  March 25, 2018

    From the BBC, a Scottish island that is 95 percent powered by renewable energy/
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180320-extraordinary-electricity-on-a-remote-scottish-island

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  17. Shawn Redmond

     /  March 25, 2018

    I have my reservations about personal transport for pleasure no matter what the fuel is. However this opinion piece by Gwynne Dyer may be close to what is coming. However it plays out, it will be disruptive across many lives and livelihoods. A new way of surviving has to be developed soon or the homeless thing is about to go exponential!
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wanganui-chronicle/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503423&objectid=12018317

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    • I think there’s definitely a rational concern RE automation replacing jobs. In my opinion, societies that rely heavily on automation will need some form of additional wealth redistribution to remain stable. Otherwise, numerous new jobs will need to be created in fields that don’t yet exist and these jobs will need to be open for re-training.

      Like

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      • Tom Jerome

         /  March 28, 2018

        Have each robot or automaton pay an equivalent Tax load as the person who has been replaced. Use that $$ for social support and education/retraining.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  18. Jeremy in Wales

     /  March 25, 2018

    “With declining deployment and high levels of retire-
    ment, coal power capacity is now caught in a squeeze:
    if current trends continue, by 2022 yearly retirements
    will exceed new capacity and the global coal fleet will
    begin to shrink.”
    https://endcoal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BoomAndBust_2018_r6.pdf
    Good chance it is accurate as the group seems to be tracking all developments worldwide but is a decline in coal use for generating elecetricity too late to meet the 2°C?

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    • Present track is for 3 to 3.5 C. This is better than 5 C +. But we need to be much more aggressive to hit near 2 C. In fact, we’ll probably pass 2 C sometime this Century. In other words, we need a zero emissions scenario to reliably hit in the 2 C range and negative emissions scenarios thereafter.

      So the trend for coal is something we should applaud. But we shouldn’t rest on our laurels either. We need to support a rapid energy transition, rapid increases in efficiency, and negative emissions practices and technologies for the long tail.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  19. https://www.axios.com/reality-checking-exxons-climate-strategy-a5d1fbc1-a811-48b4-87f9-84ff8039097f.html

    Lemmings in full flight, If I was an Exxon shareholder I may well be rebalancing my portfolio.
    As disastrous as the response of the US Auto Manufacturers to Elon when he offered a partnership in building the Supercharger network – they laughed at him.
    Now they are between a rock and a hard place with their asset valuations (and borrowing capacity) all locked up in ice vehicles. A gradual shift in focus commencing all those years ago would have them in far more favourable territory right now.
    Something about he who laughs last

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  20. Frasersgrove

     /  March 26, 2018

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7Jg1IJ68_g This guy (Tony Seba) thinks by 2025 most of us will be using self driving, electric Uber’s and Lift’s…

    Like

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  21. Shawn Redmond

     /  March 26, 2018
    Reply
    • Shawn Redmond

       /  March 26, 2018

      I should have mentioned “good reading” as there are lots of positives here.

      Like

      Reply
  22. Shawn Redmond

     /  March 26, 2018

    Way OT but here goes:
    Fifteen years ago last week, the U.S. invasion of Iraq began. It was to be beyond glorious. It was to signal the start of an unprecedented new era in which a single imperial superpower, left alone on the planet, would organize more or less everything to its own taste for the first time in history — and by force of arms, if necessary. There had never been such a moment in this world of ours. And don’t forget, for the top officials of George W. Bush’s administration and their neocon backers, geopolitical dreamers of the first order, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was just a starting point, while all those protesters out in the streets insisting that such an invasion would be catastrophic were obviously fools of the first order. No question about it, the invasion would be a “cakewalk” with even better to follow.

    Well, what a piece of cake that walk would turn out to be, inaugurating as it did a rolling catastrophe of sprouting terror movements, failed states, and uprooted populations across the Greater Middle East and then Africa — and only 14 years later, the Trump era. After all, without the invasion of Iraq, the pouring of staggering numbers of American dollars into disastrous, never-ending wars, and the subsequent “invasion” of this country by (fears of) an onslaught of terrorism, ISIS, and refugees, President Trump would have been unimaginable.

    Standing at the side of some highway to hell, he is the American equivalent of a failed state and, as TomDispatch regular John Feffer, author most recently of Aftershock: A Journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams, suggests today, he’s in the process of making everything oh-so-much worse. Think of Donald Trump as the invasion of Iraq raised to a global level. In the years after the 9/11 attacks but before he arrived on the scene, the U.S. helped unsettle parts of the planet stretching from Pakistan to at least Libya. As Feffer so vividly points out, President Trump now seems intent on unsettling the rest of the planet by going to war, in his own unique fashion, with the international community. Consider his approach the latest version of the shock-and-awe or “decapitation” tactics which began that 15-year-old invasion. What could possibly go wrong? Tom

    Trump to the International Community: Drop Dead
    Washington Takes on the World
    By John Feffer

    Donald Trump has a plan to solve America’s drug crisis: kill the drug dealers.
    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176402/tomgram%3A_john_feffer%2C_springtime_for_despots/#more

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  23. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180326090310.htm
    Fertilization drives global lake emissions of greenhouse gases
    A paper published this week in the journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters is the first to show that lake size and nutrients drive how much greenhouse gases are emitted globally from lakes into the atmosphere.
    “This is important because the world’s lakes and surface waters will emit more greenhouse gases as they become greener and more nutrient-rich.”
    Greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere drive global climate change. Although carbon dioxide is the most well-known greenhouse gas, methane and nitrous oxide, which are also emitted from lakes, could be far more devastating because they have much greater warming potential.

    “Our work shows conclusively that methane, which is emitted from lakes in bubbles, is the dominant greenhouse gas coming from lakes and surface waters globally,” said lead author Tonya DelSontro, now a researcher at the University of Geneva. “The greener or more eutrophic these water bodies become, the more methane is emitted, which exacerbates climate warming.”

    Green lakes result from excessive fertilization by nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, and when sediment accumulates in lakebeds. Such “greening” is called eutrophication.

    If the world’s lakes and other surface waters become more eutrophic it could negate the reductions that society makes by reducing fossil fuel emissions.

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  24. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180320-extraordinary-electricity-on-a-remote-scottish-island
    Extraordinary electricity on a remote Scottish island

    Some 1.3 billion people lack regular access to electricity. With its reliable independent grid powered by wind, water and solar, a remote Scottish island could offer a solution.

    Like

    Reply
  25. The Early amateur scientists were heroes or brilliantly obsessed madmen
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180320-what-scotlands-ben-nevis-can-teach-us-about-climate-change
    Each year, 150,000 people hike Scotland’s Ben Nevis – a former volcano and Britain’s highest mountain, at 1,345m (4,400ft) above sea level. Many opt to take the so-called tourist trail, the rocky path which winds and zigzags its way to the summit. Few realise that this path was initially carved out in 1883 for a very unique scientific expedition.
    Victorian meteorologists risked their lives to collect weather readings from Scotland’s Ben Nevis. Today, their sacrifices are helping us understand the effects of climate change.
    And so began a remarkable experiment in Victorian stoicism and scientific endeavour. From 1883 to 1904, a few hardy individuals lived year-round in a small stone hut, surviving on tinned food and making hourly recordings of everything from atmospheric temperature to humidity, wind speed to rainfall. In total they made almost 1.5 million observations – often going to extraordinary lengths and risking their lives to record data in the most hostile of conditions.

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  26. kassy

     /  March 27, 2018

    Meet the company that singlehandedly halved one country’s CO2 emissions

    We all know that the private sector, and heavy emitting companies in particular, have a critical role to play in helping countries deliver their national climate targets under the Paris Agreement. But when the actions of a single business cuts the emissions footprint of an entire country by more than half, you know companies are stepping up like never before.

    Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy) has done just that. The company completely has transformed itself from its origins as Danish Oil and Natural Gas to a leading renewable-focused power utility with an installed offshore wind capacity of 3.9 GW. With operations across Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands, Ørsted is also expanding its offshore wind business to the United States and Taiwan.

    In the process of this transformation, Ørsted has reduced its CO2 emissions intensity by 67 percent since 2006, which accounts for over half of Denmark’s entire CO2 reduction over the same period. What’s more, it has done this while delivering strong growth and great value for shareholders. In fact, Ørsted’s net profit jumped 53 percent to $3.37 billion in 2017, from the previous year.

    more on:
    https://www.greenbiz.com/article/meet-company-singlehandedly-halved-one-countrys-co2-emissions

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    • Responsible, forward-looking corporate business models have a net benefit to society. They should be encouraged and incentivized, in my opinion.

      Like

      Reply
  27. Jeremy in Wales

     /  March 27, 2018

    Interesting GIF in this tweet showing a further calving event building up on the Pine Island Glacier even as winter approaches.

    Like

    Reply
  28. Dave McGinnis

     /  March 28, 2018

    Robert, your post has gotten me thinking, which I appreciate.

    By a rough estimate, the USA has emitted 4 megatons CO2-equivalent per year in my lifetime. Were I to take responsibility for negating 1/350 millionth of that (my proportion), I would need to plant over 500 million trees. Since I walk and ride my bike whenever possible, I’m cutting that in half but I think it is still out of reach. What’s the most efficient way? Is there any hope?

    Like

    Reply
    • Robert M

       /  March 28, 2018

      Dave McGinnis – you mean 4 billion tons CO2 per year, or 11 tons per year for your portion. Trees soak up about 3 tons per year per acre (some species even more), at 40 trees to the acre you would need to plant about 150 large-ish trees to soak up your portion. That’s not per year, that’s the total number of trees you need to plant in your lifetime. It’s doable for you. If everyone tried we might run out of land.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  29. Syd Bridges

     /  March 28, 2018

    Another possible advance for lithium batteries.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180327132016.htm

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  30. kassy

     /  March 28, 2018

    Extreme’ fossil fuel investments have surged under Donald Trump, report reveals

    ank holdings in “extreme” fossil fuels skyrocketed globally to $115bn during Donald Trump’s first year as US president, with holdings in tar sands oil more than doubling, a new report has found.

    A sharp flight from fossil fuels investments after the Paris agreement was reversed last year with a return to energy sources dubbed “extreme” because of their contribution to global emissions. This included an 11% hike in funding for carbon-heavy tar sands, as well as Arctic and ultra-deepwater oil and coal.

    US and Canadian banks led a race back into the unconventional energy sector following Trump’s promise to withdraw from Paris, with JPMorgan Chase increasing its coal funding by a factor of 21, and quadrupling its tar sands assets.

    Chase’s $5.6bn surge in tar sands holdings added to nearly $47bn of gains for the industry last year, according to the report by NGOs including BankTrack, the Sierra Club and Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

    JPMorgan Chase has asked the US securities and exchanges commission for support in its bid to block a shareholder resolution calling for a bank report on financial and climate risks associated with tar sands projects.

    Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Dominion remain the biggest tar sands backers, with $38bn of holdings between them.


    However, 14 European banks collectively increased their coal financing by more than $2bn last year, with HSBC the worst performer by far.

    “Europe’s top banks have got to stop their coal-focused assault on the Paris agreement,” said Johan Frijns, the director of BankTrack. “It is now vital that they move to stamp out their financial support for companies developing new coal-fired power plants around the world.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/28/extreme-fossil-fuel-investments-have-surged-under-donald-trump-report-reveals

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    • Tom Jerome

       /  March 28, 2018

      When I saw this article this morning it was more evidence that Banks and other corporations are indifferent to everything but profit. Here’s a bet that will squeeze every penny from toxic FFs while ignoring the fact their use will doom shareholders and innocents alike.

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  31. kassy

     /  March 28, 2018

    Canada’s Governments Don’t Have Real Plans to Fight or Adapt to Climate Change: New Audit

    Canada talks the talk, but fails to walk the walk on climate change, according to a cross-country audit of climate change planning, emissions reductions and the likelihood of Canada meeting any of its targets.

    The audit, conducted by federal environment commissioner Julie Gelfand and auditors general of nine provinces and three northern territories, paints a picture of a patchwork of incomplete plans, lack of clear targets and few roadmaps to show how the country can reach its goals.

    The mish-mash of plans showed that no Canadian government has met all its climate change commitments, most of those who have got around to setting greenhouse gas reduction targets will not meet them and no government is fully prepared to adapt to climate change, despite increasing evidence of its ravages, from increased floods and more intense wildfires to rising ocean levels and melting permafrost.

    much more on:
    https://www.desmog.ca/2018/03/27/canada-s-governments-don-t-have-real-plans-fight-or-adapt-climate-change-new-audit

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    • Ed

       /  March 28, 2018

      While the audit is accurate, it is not very relevant to the question of what to do going forward. The future is all about the carbon tax, which the audit report gives short shrift because an audit by definition is backward-looking.

      The (federal) carbon tax comes into effect in Canada in 2019 at $20 per ton, rising to $50 per ton by 2022. Although there have been provincial-level carbon pricing policies in place for a few years, the national carbon price will be the first time there are real teeth behind various CO2-reduction plans in Canada. Successfully implementing the tax, and fending off revisionist efforts to repeal/reduce the tax, will make or break Canada’s CO2 reduction efforts.

      Personally I am strongly in favour of the carbon tax as the best policy solution to reduce CO2 because it is the simplest solution to implement that incentivizes appropriate behaviour. All alternatives to a carbon tax involve some version of regulations, and regulations are always exposed to the inefficiencies of central planning, regulatory capture, and political interference.

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  32. kassy

     /  March 28, 2018

    The Other Country Crucial to Global Climate Goals: Indonesia

    Meanwhile, the world’s other major greenhouse gas emitter is being ignored. Indonesia, a country that, depending on the scale of its now-seasonal fires, can be the world’s third to sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has done little to implement policies that would enable it to meet its already weak Paris agreement goals.

    In fact, many of its actions are pushing the country in the opposite direction, toward greater emissions. This includes government plans to build over 100 coal-fired power plants alongside the push to expand palm oil production and increase local biofuel consumption. Factor in the massive expansion of a car-centric transportation infrastructure, including new highways across the archipelago, booming air travel, a growing middle class, and, unlike many of its Asian neighbors, very little investment in renewables, and you have the recipe for a climate disaster. It’s not just Indonesia’s fault – the failure to scale up climate finance has meant that programs meant to stem deforestation have yet to bear fruit. Indonesia’s failure, since Paris, to address its emissions, could have global ramifications and if things continue on the business-as-usual path, critically damage global climate goals.

    President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is partly to blame. His administration has not taken forest protection seriously enough, focusing instead on economic development. This leads to some worrisome discrepancies. After the 2015 fires, Jokowi made some positive moves, such as creating a Peatland Restoration Agency, and, last year, extending the 2011 Deforestation Moratorium put in place by his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. At the same time, he is pushing forward with plans to build over one million hectares of palm oil and sugar plantations in Papua. His government has also been fighting against the European Union’s proposal to limit palm oil biofuel imports because evidence shows they do little to combat climate change due to – yes – deforestation and fires. His positive moves are more than negated by these steps, along with the evidence that deforestation is continuing mostly unabated.

    and much more on:
    https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/the-other-country-crucial-to-global-climate-goals-indonesia/

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  33. kassy

     /  March 28, 2018

    Meanwhile at the ASIB:

    Bering goes extreme

    The melting season hasn’t started in earnest yet, but it seems the Bering Sea hasn’t received the memo. For almost the entire winter, sea ice has been reluctant to form there, and now that the Sun has returned, the ice edge has started to retreat to record high latitudes, past the Bering Strait all the way up into the Chukchi Sea. Here’s how that looks on Wipneus’ regional graph:

    To emphasize how truly exceptional this is, here’s a comparison with the situation in all other years from the 2006-2018 period (images retrieved from the University Bremen sea ice concentration maps page on the ASIG, click for a larger version):

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2018/03/bering-goes-extreme.html

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  34. fred

     /  March 28, 2018

    E-vehicle porn!

    “Waymo Orders Up to 20,000 Jaguar SUVs for Driverless Fleet
    The deal, potentially worth more than $1 billion…”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/waymo-orders-up-to-20-000-jaguar-suvs-for-driverless-fleet-1522159944

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  35. Robert in New Orleans

     /  March 28, 2018

    The oil industry used science, communications, and consumer psychology to shape the public debate over climate change and block action decades earlier than anyone suspected.

    https://www.smokeandfumes.org

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    Reply
    • They’re doing it now with short-journo attacks on Tesla and these idiots who are over-hyping hydrogen as a shiny object in an effort to distract from the EV/battery revolution.

      Like

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  36. Bob

     /  March 28, 2018

    Permafrost studies in Alaska elucidate aspects of CO2 production in a warming arctic.
    https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/impermanence-permafrost/
    Excellent paper with stunning photos.

    Comments from the paper…
    The good news, says Northern Arizona University ecologist Ted Schuur, lead investigator for the Permafrost Carbon Network, is that a sudden, catastrophic release of CO2 from permafrost seems unlikely. The bad news is that a steady, incremental leak is plenty problematic on its own. Under the current warming trajectory, Schuur and his colleagues estimate, between five and 15 percent of the carbon stored in the Far North’s soils is likely to make it into the atmosphere by the start of the 22nd century.

    This might not sound like much, but 15 percent is equal to the jump in atmospheric CO2—from 280 to more than 400 parts per million (ppm)—that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution. To avoid courting danger, any additional rise in global mean temperature would wisely be kept below 1 °C, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That, in turn, means stabilizing carbon dioxide levels at 450 ppm, leaving little time to dawdle. This is why permafrost carbon is such a wild card. Even a modest release will complicate efforts to step back from the brink.

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