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View Diary: Jeff Masters: the Climate Has Shifted to a New State (280 comments)

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  •  It's our whole economic system (12+ / 0-)

    When we have a system that requires year-after-year growth, and depends upon finite fossil fuels that also harm the climate when used, we end up getting squeezed at both ends.

    I blogged about this a bit a while back---about how the authors of the classic Limits to Growth found that the two business-as-usual cases squeeze us either first due to resource limits (peak oil) or pollution (climate change):

    As a side note: while the World 3 model didn’t explicitly capture notions of peak oil or climate change, I was reminded how the model beautifully captures the squeeze that I was trying to discuss last week. In Scenario 1, it’s primarily a lack of resources that causes decline. However, if resources aren’t a bottleneck, then, as they put it:

        Higher levels of industrial output cause pollution to grow immensely; the pollution level in Scenario 2 peaks about 50 years later than it does in Scenario 1, at a level around five times higher. Part of this rise is due to greater pollution generation rates [a], and part is due to the fact that pollution assimilation processes are becoming impaired [b].

    [a] is analogous to, for example, IPCC-style energy projections (i.e. ones that assume that energy consumption and emissions will continue to grow for a long time rather than peaking soon, and that this would cause a rapid rise in greenhouse gases. [b] is analogous to, for example, the effects we’re already seeing in the decreasing ability of oceans and forests to absorb carbon. Whether [a] happens may depend largely on whether we’re living in something closer to Scenario 1 or Scenario 2 (or something else entirely), but that’s a central question in the Climate Change vs. Peak Oil discussion.

    Basically, do things look like this (resource limits):

    Or this (pollution limits):

    It seems it's going to be some combination of the two.

    contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

    by barath on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 09:58:50 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Energy is the one fixed limit. Uranium, however, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      is quite plentiful.

      The cheapest form is the U3O8 "yellow cake" form. That is not plentiful. But other forms can be processed quite readily.

      The industry has enough proven reserves to take a current-size energy economy ahead for something above 100-million years. It takes about an office desk sized chunk of processed uranium to power a full-sized nuclear plant for a year.

      South Africa and Israel produce excellent mid-sized reactors with high-safety designs. China has excellent large-scale systems produced in conjunction with American design shops.

      Safest concerns exist. But engineering solutions are adequate. An old plant such as the Japanese ones hit by the tsunami are still able to withstand astonishing punishment without major releases of radioactivity. Efforts to compare that disaster with Chernobyl are so much pulp fiction. Japan has far more radioactivity -- by 100 to 1 -- at its hot spots from the old atmospheric weapons testing events than from the tsunami.

      We are not going to run out of power. We might have our minds pretzeled by the coal industry's propaganda teams. Conversion to nuclear and battery-power for cars is the one and only practical future.

    •  Locked in (3+ / 0-)

      No Presidential campaign is going to have, "It's the economic system, stupid!" tacked up on the walls of their headquarters.

      Even if they know that, no politician can afford to say that--not when 'growth' is a byword for prosperity and Good Things generally. It's not simply an inconvenient truth; it's a career killer.

      As long as the endless growth paradigm maintains ownership of the Western mind, I don't see how we turn this around.

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