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Some notes on the worst-case scenario

Confession time: I'm an optimist, especially about the ideas of social progress that emerged in Europe at the end of the middle ages and became mainstream in western politics in the early 20th century. I called the outcome of the Brexit referendum wrong (by underestimating the number of racist bigots and Little Englanders in the UK population: Brexit is a proxy for English nationalism, which is absolutely not the same as British nationalism), and I called the US presidential election wrong (underestimating the extent of gerrymandering and micro-targeted black propaganda driven by data mining in the campaign).

Since January 20th we've seen a degree and type of activity emanating from the new US administration that is markedly different from anything in my politically aware lifetime (loosely: since Reagan). Blanket bans on entry to the USA by anyone associated with certain nationalities, mass firings at the State Department, a president railing against a "so-called judge", the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff being booted off the National Security Council and replaced by a white nationalist ideologue, and a former CEO of Exxon in the Cabinet: what's going on?

Let me pull on my pessimist's hat and advance the most scary hypothesis I can imagine that explains the current situation.

Please note that the following scenario assumes that what we are witnessing is deliberate and planned and that the people in Trump's inner circle actually have a coherent objective they are working towards. (I desperately hope that I'm wrong on all counts.)

Here's the thing: we are looking at an administration that is very clearly being operated on behalf of carbon extraction industries. Trump's cabinet picks are almost all climate change deniers. While there are some questionable exceptions--Tillerson has apparently conceded some human link with climate change--even those who are "soft" on climate change existing at all stand to benefit from interests in the coal and oil industries.

There is a huge asset bubble tied up in uncombustable fossil fuels--the carbon bubble. In addition, there is a base of approximately $70Tn ($70,000 billion--let that sink in for a moment) of installed infrastructure for processing fossil fuels and petrochemicals (with plastic and composite manufacturing being relatively small compared to packaging, shipping, and burning the stuff for energy).

Meanwhile, rival power industries are coming on stream rapidly. Solar power and electric cars could halt growth in fossil fuel demand as soon as 2020. The cost of solar has fallen by 85% in the past 7 years: by 2035 electric vehicles could make up 35% of the road transport fleet, and two-thirds by 2050. These estimates are conservative, based on the assumption that breakthrough technologies will not emerge to permit photovoltaic cells and battery capacities vastly better (or cheaper) than today.

It follows logically that if you have heavily invested in fossil fuels, time is running out to realize a return on your investment. Buying a US administration tailored to maximize ROI while fighting a rear-guard action against action on climate change and roll-out of a new, rival energy infrastructure is therefore rational (in business terms).

Russia and the Putin angle is best understood as part of this; oil and gas exports accounted for 68% of Russia's export revenues in 2013. The possibility that Trump is personally heavily invested in Rosneft via shell proxies while being at loggerheads with Merkel might be an inversion of the normal state of affairs in international relations for the past 70 years but is entirely consistent with the big money picture: Germany is trying to push (heavily) for renewable power (as well as generally being welcoming to refugees--see below).

It isn't possible for a US administration to make a ban on solar power and electric vehicles to stick globally. By its nature, solar will work well in equatorial regions, and these are where economic growth is currently focussed (China, India, and Africa all having huge population bases and demand for rapid roll out of infrastructure). Because PV is local, the need for capital-intensive centralized power stations and distribution grids is avoided: this will make it easier for Africa to catch up, just as the large-scale roll-out of telephony is sub-Saharan Africa has largely leap-frogged fixed wires and gone straight to cellular. Late adopters get better infrastructure.

Looking ahead, the carbon barons have to know that in 10-20 years time the USA will be stuck with obsolescent infrastructure and a loss of relative advantage if they pursue this course (although they, individually, will be a whole lot richer). What is to be done?

Let's consider the other strand of the Trump administration: white nationalist revanchism.

Without derailing into a close examination of the creed of this movement, I'm going to generalize by saying that the alt-right are overtly anti-muslim, anti-semitic from the grass roots up, and Steve Bannon is effectively setting foreign policy. (They're also anti- just about every minority group you can think of, including anyone who isn't neurotypical, able-bodied, conformist, and predictably supportive of their agenda.) Bannon believes in an existential war between Christendom and Islam; he doesn't believe in international institutions like the UN, NATO, or the EU (even though these were in most cases created by US foreign policy during the era of containment. What alliances the Bannon administration is building overseas are being made with extremists and neo-fascists. Trump appears to be attempting to destabilize Australian PM Turnbull, who is vulnerable to a back-bench challenge and is "soft" on immigration policy compared to such lunatics as Tony Abbott (his predecessor) or Pauline Hanson (and Australian immigration policy is an international disgrace). Trump seems to be happy to deal in France with Marine Le Pen, a court-confirmed fascist (she lost a libel case against a journalist who described her as such), or UKIP's former leader Nigel Farage (whose school habits included researching and singing old Hitler Youth drinking songs). And the authoritarian, homophobic strand in Russian politics is just another piece of the jigsaw.

To talk in terms of a white supremacist neo-fascist international doesn't seem extreme at this point. The fourteen signs of fascism are politically convenient to the carbon entrepreneurs. Fascism's disdain for facts plays well with climate change denial. It's elevation of nationalism above all other virtues helps anyone whose goal is to play divide-and-conquer, profiting by arbitrage of commodities trafficked across international borders (such as coal and oil and gas). And so, fascism is promoted and prospers under a carbon bubble bust-out regime.

But there's a more dangerous end-game on the horizon, once the oil men have packed their bags and retired to enjoy their riches.

Note that climate change denialism is a flag of convenience for the folks at the top. It's a loyalty oath and a touchstone: they don't necessarily believe it, but it's very convenient to fervently preach it in public if you want to continue to turn a profit.

If you believe in anthropogenic climate change but dare not admit it, you cannot be seen to do anything obvious to remediate it. But there is one remediation tactic you can deploy deniably: genocide.

We are on course to hit 10 billion people by the end of the 21st century, and although the second derivative of the curve of population increase is flat, our peak population won't begin to decline at this rate until well into the 22nd century. Estimates for the Earth's human carrying capacity vary and may be ideologically biased to support various conclusions; Malthusian ideas persist despite constant upward revision of the peak population. One thing is sure, for decades now other folks' population has been a political football. Thanks to the Green Revolution in agronomy we're well past the previously posited breakdown points of the 1960s.

I am going to posit that a foreign policy set by white supremacists in support of a carbon extraction regime is going to cleave to certain pseudo-scientific ideas, notably Social Darwinism (which isn't Darwinian, isn't social, and is fundamentally flawed as bad science) and Malthusianism (which has been used in the past as an excuse for tactics ranging from the innocuous--improving access to family planning and birth control--to the monstrous--conquest and genocide. And that last point brings us neatly round to Hitlerism.

While the gas chambers and extermination camps of the Final Solution get the most attention, people tend to forget that a large chunk of Hitler's plan for conquest, Generalplan Ost, relied in the short term on the Hunger Plan--to kill 20-30 million people in Eastern Europe and Russia by systematically stealing their food (to feed the Reich's own armies and slave workers who would be engaged in the enterprise of conquest)--and in the long term (post-war) on the systematic "removal" of 45 million more persons, nominally by exile into Siberia, but in practice probably by an extension of the already operating death camp system.

But the Neo-Nazi International won't need death camps in the 2020s to 2030s if their goal is to cut the world population by, say, 50%. Climate change and a clampdown on international travel will do the job for them.

Consider Bangladesh, and the Bay of Bengal fisheries collapse, not to mention the giant anoxic dead zone spreading in the By of Bengal (which means those fisheries won't be coming back for a very long time). There are nearly 170 million people there, mostly living on alluvial flood plains feeding into the gradually rising ocean. If the sea level rises by just one meter, 10% of the land area will be flooded; most of the country is less than 12M above sea level. It's a primarily agricultural economy (it's one of the main rice and wheat producing nations), heavily dependent on fisheries for protein to supplement the diet of its citizens.

Bangladesh can't survive the 21st century on this basis. It's vulnerable to devastating tropical cyclones bringing storm surges, and as the atmosphere heats, these are going to become more energetic. The loss of fisheries may cripple its ability to feed its population, even if temperature rises don't kill off the wheat and rice crops. Flood, famine, and storm look as if they will inevitably render a large part of the country uninhabitable within 50 years.

I see three possible responses:

  • A rational and humane response to this would involve attempts to: promote GM crops with increased heat resistance and increased bioavailable protein and micronutrient contents to repace the dying fisheries: promote female literacy, education, and access to healthcare (demographic transition correlates strongly with female education and emancipation): redeploy human capital to urban center construction in the northern highlands: invest in survival infrastructure (flood/weather shelters), and so on.

  • An unplanned, current-day response to this would be to provide ad-hoc famine relief and aid on demand, to wring hands when millions die in heat emergencies or super-cyclone storm surges, to prevent mass emigration by criminalization rather than by trying to make Bangladesh a more attractive place to stay, and so on. You know this scenario because we're living it today.

  • A white supremacist response to this would be to build a wall around Bangladesh--probably a "virtual" one patrolled by killer robots--and starve the inmates to death so they don't pump any more carbon into the atmosphere. After all, the residual carbon content of a dead foreigner is measured in single-digit litres.

All the pieces of the neo-Nazi solution to climate change already exist. Walls: look to the West Bank barrier or the Mexico-United States barrier for examples. Drones for border patrol are already a thing. The global crack-down on immigration by the developed world should need no introduction; there are loopholes (so called "Investor Visas") for anyone with six or seven digits in cash who wants to move freely, but these are generally out of the reach of even the western middle classes. (Free movement of labour as well as capital would defeat the core principle of arbitrage upon which economic imperialism depends.)

So here's what I expect to see if the alt-right get their way globally:

  • The obvious stuff (the agenda dictated by the fourteen signs of fascism) is a distraction
  • The real plan, in the short term, is to maximize the liquidation of capital investments in the carbon bubble on behalf of the principal shareholders
  • Once the carbon bubble has deflated, the angry and impoverished citizens of the first world will be pointed at a convenient scapegoat--foreigners overseas
  • A clampdown/shutdown on most international travel will ensue (hint: there's a reason Bannon et al hate the EU, and it's not economic: it's all to do with the bit about freedom of movement)
  • Tighter controls on "immigration", enforced out of sight by killer drones, will replace relatively permeable frontiers with exclusion zones enforced by bullets and bombs
  • Climate-change induced famine will replicate the intent of Hitler's "hunger plan", without the need for hands-on involvement by Western soldiers who might be traumatized by the requirement to shoot the surviving "living skeletons"
  • A systematic genocide of the Middle East and the Islamic world (hint: that's where the eliminationist rhetoric of the islamphobes leads if you follow it to its logical conclusion) will reduce Earth's human population by up to 30%: other culls elsewhere will be enforced by containment of would-be migrants and the primary tool of murder will be famine and lethal heat waves.
  • This will be presented to the citizens of the west as a "solution" to anthropogenic climate change for which they should be grateful, and framed as defending us from hordes of dark-skinned alien terrorists and asylum seekers who want to come to our lands and out-breed us and convert us to their weird and scary way of life and enslave our women (and you know the rest of this dismal litany of racism already, so I'll stop here).

Never say Nazis don't learn the lessons of history. This time round, the Final Solution to Anthropogenic Climate change will be entirely deniable! There are no gas chambers or Einsatzgruppen involved: any bullets will be fired by autonomous robots, without a human finger on the trigger, and will be an automatic reaction to an attempted border crossing, so not the fault of the perpetrators. The victims will have only themselves to blame, for being born in the wrong place, in the wrong century, and for failing to adapt, and for starving themselves, and for inviting the attention of the border patrol drones. It will be a slow-motion atrocity on a scale that dwarfs the Holocaust. And it is the logical conclusion of the policies our new fascist international overlords appear to be working towards implementing.

Please can you explain to me why I'm wrong to fear this outcome?

734 Comments

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1:

Interesting article Charlie.

I'm not thinking you're wrong, but I do think you've missed something.

A lot of right-wing religious people have been given tremendous power in Trump's administration. During Bush's presidency I got the impression that evangelical Christians welcomed climate change, thinking that ruining the planet will cause the rapture to start.

Unfortunately, this doesn't invalidate any of what you've written.

2:

The Dominionists — Pence's followers — are on my radar.

They give me the creeps and they're deeply unpleasant people, but unless they somehow morph into anti-fascists I don't see their presence altering the scenario much.

3:

(First time commenter - apologies if I step on any toes!)

I think what worries me the most about your scenario is that we don't even have to assume that the administration's actions so far are deliberate and planned. I think it's just as plausible that the not-entirely random thrashings of people inextricably linked to a dying carbon bubble would have the same result.

Even worse, would this unplanned alternative make it harder to fight back, since it implies no one player (or team) is crucial to their success? If Bannon isn't the lynchpin anymore than Trump is, things get very dark, very quickly...

I'm not a natural pessimist either, by the way. Not that I've been able to tell for the last 3 weeks.

4:

It's not just plausible where brown foreigners are concerned.

The plans to kill the Environmental Protection Acency, backed by recent EOs such as coal mining operations not having to protect rivers and the water table by allowing them to dump their waste wherever they like, will get rid of an awful lot of poor people who believe they're entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Imagine Flint, Michigan, across the entire continental US.

The next generation of peons will be raised, and I use the term loosely, to obey authority. DeVos' schools program will see to that, and mothers will be too tired to make a difference. They'll be busy raising their quiverfulls because contraception isn't available on insurance and abortion is an imprisonable offence.

I'm not sure if these consequences are intended or just a side effect of the King in Orange and his masters wanting all the money, but at this level it's unimportant if it's stupidity, malice, or a heady blend of both.

5:

On the upside; I may be wrong about it being intentional. Apparently three weeks into the current administration, Aides confer in the dark because they cannot figure out how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room (and it gets more chaotic from there).

6:

Bangladesh is on the opposite side of the globe from USA. If any country is going to prevent Bangladeshi refugees from moving across the border, it's India. Would they? I don't know. I don't see how American drones would need to be involved.

7:

The current Australian government has been destabilising itself for some time - rhetoric of "debt and deficit disaster" while actually increasing government debt, knifing a leader (despite an election campaign where the previous government lost because of leadership changes) and being woefully unable to pass much in the way of legislation without needing to throw out a continued stream of dead cats; to distract from the scandal of the day.

Off the top of my head, some of the more amusing shenanigans include things like:

A deeply partisan speaker of the house getting herself in a helicopter transport travel allowance spending rort? Well, I suppose she'll have to go, not even the PM eating a raw onion skin and all can distract from that.

Oh look, a current MP is in trouble with an anti corruption commission - apparently he was a chairman of a corrupt company that donated some money to a political party. He seems to have a lot of trouble recalling things when testifying.
Lets see what the papers have to say: "Even more astounding was Sinodinos' testimony that he knew nothing about AWH's $75,000 in donations to the Liberal Party at the very same time he was the NSW Liberal Party treasurer."

Don't worry, he's just stepped out of the spotlight while yet another MP has gotten herself in trouble: she bought a residential investment property while on parliamentary business... apparently on a whim. The kind of whim that gets bank preapproval to purchase a property.
Turns out she'd travelled to the area no less than 27 times, including twice for new years eve engagements.


Don't worry, she's being defended by the scandal plagued former speaker ("Its twitterati! Socialism on the march! Those things made her rort entitlements!") and being replaced by the rather forgetful MP from the previous two scandals.


We've found out that the former PM, Tony 'Onion' Abbott liked being an effective opposition to the government of the day, so much so that he's probably driven the Hard Right faction of the liberal party to split: Cory Bernardi (known for having had to resign over comments he made linking gay marriage to the social acceptance of having sex with animals) and George Christensen (known for using parliamentary privilege to claim an anti bulling program known as 'Safe Schools' was linked to paedophilia advocacy) may be off to do their own thing.

Luckily this has distracted us from a botched Centrelink (welfare agency) austerity measure, which put debt collectors on the poor driven by a shoddily designed algorithm (did you earn $X in year Y? Y/N. If Y, then $X/12 = $Z and you claimed entitlements, pay it back! I don't care if you got off welfare and earned money later in the year than when you claimed welfare! No, our staff can't look at your paperwork, call this number. Yes, we know the phones are down.)

Let's not even get started on the numerous deaths ranging from murder in our custody (Reza Berati), medical negligence leading to death (Hamid Khazaei), a whole lot of men women and children self harming, some even self immolating at great expense to the tax payer, just to promote human misery and score political points - a trick that isn't even working as you point out by the re-emergence of One Nation as a political force.


These are just a smattering of the scandals that have beset the current government, and they've rarely been able to do anything except for create another scandal to blow away the current one.

The Turnbull/Trump phone call could have actually won a lot of points with the public if Turnbull had told Trump to go jump, as he looked like the more reasonable one in the whole scenario.


I do worry that Australian immigration policy, which has basically resulted in concentration camps (people detained on basis of nationality etc, not death camps specifically) outside of Australian law is a frightening preview of what you allude to.

It's:
- Outsourced to private companies
- Offshore, so run under another country's law... who are dependent on the revenue
- Hidden from sight, with whistleblower penalities galore
- Has the full force the the government's spin doctors against anyone ethical, no matter what the cost (government recently settled an action for $1 million and formally apologised to NGO workers were kicked out of their jobs, amid claims of "encouraging self harm")

Its not hard to imagine that model being copied and optimized at all.

8:

My worst case scenario evaluation is a more immediate thing; I expect a so-called "terrorist attack" on US soil within the next 6 months, and this will be used as an excuse to tighten controls, restrict rights, and basically fuck us all up.

That it turns out to be a domestic "Patriot" will not matter; "Lord Dampnut" (an anagram) will have been given the power needed and will have exercised it.

9:

your figure of $70Tn of installed infrastructure for processing fossil fuels: this seems fishy.

Total world wealth is estimated to be in the region of 250 trillion.
Claiming that a full quarter of all wealth is just fossile fuel infrastructure seems fishy unless you are misleadingly permissive with what you'll consider part of "infrastructure for processing fossil".

Do you count a 20 billion dollar silicon fab just because a few of the solvents they use are derived from fossile fuels?

Predicating your position on assuming that your enemy actually agrees with you but us just lying so they can be more evil.... I'm not sure this is a sound strategy.

Imagine that you were a greedy billionaire who wants to be as rich as possible and owned mostly shares in fossile fuel companies and you honestly believed that the fossile fuel industry was as fucked as you believe and that renewables were the obvious future.

Would you 1: attempt genocide. or 2: quietly and steadily sell your shares in those companies and move your money into companies who hold patents on renewable tech or which manufacture renewable tech?

Also notable, looking at stock prices around Trumps election: the prices of the first few major fossile fuel companies I looked up dropped after trumps election. So it would appear that the people who's main job and area of expertise is to guess who will get an advantage from events believed that trumps election is not massively positive for fossile fuel companies. They are not infallible but they're probably better at making guesses about those things than you or I.

10:

On a related note, there's far far right bloggers who claim almost the exact mirror of this post, that their enemies actually agree with them on matters of fact , that their enemies are actually just lying in order to be more evil and that it's all really just a cover for creating a situation where genocide can be carried out.

Of course in their version the claim is that the genocide is against their own group.

I'm not going to boost the google ranking of the page involved by linking but search for "The goal is soft genocide. Unless stopped" if you don't believe me.

Some might take from this that the moral is "they really evil" rather than "assuming that your opponents real goal is genocide may not be a great strategy" but that can't really be helped.

11:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"

Personally I don't believe that Trump, Bannon et al could pull something like this off deliberately. That's not to say that your forecast for Bangladesh is off the mark. I wonder if a re-unification with India would make things better for them in the short term.

12:

If those GM crops happens to be produced by Monsanto they will just be another part of the globalist toolkit for "The Cull".

Tools like Glyphosphate, PCB, Agent Orange: Insidious, toxic, shit that worms its way into every foodstuff and lower fertility rates, increase mortality rates and generally fucks healthy people up.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/27/the-british-government-colludes-with-monsanto/

13:

$70Tn counts stuff like: the entire aviation industry, both civil and military: the entire automobile industry (minus Tesla and a few also-rans): the entire GLOBAL railway network minus electrified track (a minority): the entire global civil shipping industry minus a handful of Russian nuclear icebreakers: the entire global naval force minus nuclear submarines and the big US carriers and, oh, a French CVN: the roughly 50-70% of our global energy sector that burns coal, oil, or natural gas: and all our mines, refineries, and so forth.

Your silicon foundry doesn't count; it's not a power station and doesn't run on gas (although its backup diesel generators probably count for a small share). But the grid it depends on, the planes that move the product, the cars the workers commute in ... they're all part of it.

As for the greedy billionaire question, they don't need to commit genocide directly. In my scenario, nobody needs to get their hands dirty; it's just that billions of people quietly die, somewhere off stage.

14:

As India is currently run by right-wing nationalists of a Hindu variety, and are busy deporting Bangladeshi illegal immigrants, expecting them to get all happy-clappy with their fellow [muslim] subcontinentals is a bit of a reach, at least in the short term.

15:

Maybe I'm just naive and overly optimistic, but I don't think even the majority of the US government is that evil. I could see Bannon going ahead with it. Pence might. Trump is probably too dementia-ridden to be considered compos mentis for these purposes.

16:

I do sometimes wonder if another factor here is some hope that global warming will turn more of Siberia into a more viable breadbasket.

17:

I saw a good piece by Tom Pepinsky the other day titled Weak and Incompetent Leaders act like Strong Leaders. tl;dr Hanlon's Razor with a bit of polisci to back it up. It helped convince me that Trump's strongman tactics are those of someone who's weak and insecure, not the opposite.

Bannon's clearly more competent than Trump, but I'm not sure that makes him an evil mastermind. (Remember what people used to say when Karl Rove's fortunes started to turn in 2006: "Well, how smart do you actually have to be to be Bush's brain?")

I expect that US energy policy under Trump is going to look a lot like it did under Bush. Which isn't a good thing, but at least it's a familiar thing. As for wiping out huge sections of the world population by way of not acting on climate change -- I'm afraid I agree that that's entirely within the realm of possibility. But I don't think that's a deliberate plan on Bannon's part. I just don't think he'd shed any tears if it happened, either.

18:

A SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE:

I feel it's important to keep an eye on the big picture (this essay).

But it's equally important not to discount the short term/immediate consequences of Trumpism.

The push back against women's and minority rights is ongoing and severe; let's not forget the huge overlap between the alt-right and the "Red Pill" misogynists (irony: their touchstone is a reference to a movie produced by two transwomen). Fascists need to feel superior and their ideology feeds on a sense of resentment. The beatdowns are part of the process, and the degree to which they succeed will serve to inflate their sense of what they can achieve in future.

So: marching against the Muslim ban, marching against racism, marching for womens' rights, marching against Trump — this stuff is important, it's no less important than keeping an eye on the climate forecast for long range genocidal activities.

Just remember, getting the right justice onto the US Supreme Court, or pushing back against attempts to de-fund Planned Parenthood, or getting clean water into Flint, MI, is only part of the picture. The job will not be done until the last neo-fascist has been spanked out of the halls of Washington DC (and Downing Street, and the Kremlin, and ...)

As some guy said? The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. These people want to destroy freedom for everyone who isn't a rich white Christian heterosexual male. QED.

19:

Personally I don't believe that Trump, Bannon et al could pull something like this off deliberately
No, but, there is at least the remote possibility that a tentacled monster wielding terrifying eldritch powers remains cloaked within the "Clown Car Crash Disorientation Field" that "The Donald" is wielding successfully.

- of course with a lot of unpaid help and energy from both Internet Social Justice Warriors and metrics-driven Media.

Maybe someone cooked up a strong AI and hooked it up to Politics?

What we see is, I think, at least similar to those robotic Machine Learning Driven logistics storage facilities, random moves and odd shit dumped in strange storage slots, yet, somehow all of those moving pieces just "drifting randomly around", just "happens" to end up in the best possible locations for shipping. Almost like it is a game of Mikado that plays itself.

It would be letting everyone off too easy, I think, to assume that all what we see are just random actions from a bunch of dum-dums / nut bars who failed to the top (in the hallowed tradition of many influential US policy makers).

20:

The major flaw I see with the thesis is wrt intentionality. I dont think that much of this is deliberate, rather the logical outcome of chaotic actors, greed and entropy.

In a desperate quest to try and see the bright side - I think there is one other aspect to all this that is positive: demographics and the fact that a visible enemy is so much easier to rally against. For the first time in my lifetime Ive seen liberals and the left united against a right wing agenda and the US media substantively criticise a president. Trump is laying the blood, shit & viscera of the system out on the table for all to see and its galvanising a domestic & global tidal wave of disgust which I think will affect politics throughout the west and provide a clarion call to the younger (and mostly liberal) generations.

My main concern is - has it all come too late?

21:

You've not dealt with the risk of a major war -- especially a confrontation in the south China sea. I've lost the link, but Bannon was saying the latter was inevitable.

22:

I don't think it's the real worst case scenario. The really worst case will be one where nationalists in charge of First World countries end up fighting each others. Think USA and Russia fighting over Iran, or US military being scared by some Putin move made posible by Trump's "bromance" (moves against Baltic states?) and forced to overreact.
Even a conventional war in Europe or a very limited nuclear exchange would create so much havoc than later we lack reources to fight climate change, opening way to mass dieoffs by famine, drought, civil wars and epidemics.

For short: not just a genocide of the "darkies" with the West "safe" (for very debatable values of "safe") but also a mass slaughter in the First World (coupled to loss of industrial and know how base and working governments). Something out of A canticle for Leibowitz?

23:

A rational & humane response isn't going to happen in Banglagesh - unless the islamicits who are terrorising people there, are got rid of.
Like the USA, Bangladesh is a nominally secular country going under to religious fuckwits.
Not a good scenario.

@ 2
Look up how many good christians licked Adolf's boots, because he was "anti-communist" ( i.e. a rival religion.) Now we have islam as the rival religion - what's the difference... )

24:

one may even think that islamist will be happy to run such a strike, as frex Osama bin Laden believed that 9/11 would have lead to a major crisis in the USA, up to its dissolution. And this time it could even be true.

25:

Will DeVos pass Congress' approval though?
Even quite a few Repubs are very uneasy about her, to say the least.

26:

This reminds me of the game-plan of the evil crowd-sourced terrorists in Bruce Sterling's "Heavy Weather" - except of course with state backing.

"Everybody took turns holding the rope for a minute. So nobody really lynched the darkie. You see, the darky just sort of perished."

27:

Are these GMO crops also the ones that won't breed true so the farmer must buy new seed from the company every year, because he can't replant from this year's crop?

That gives another string to the genocide bow, when the farmers in desperate countries become dependent on them. And then one year they can't get seed. Nominally because of the paperwork for getting the shipments past the killer robot cordon, but their inability to pay what the company asks for might have something to do with it.

28:

And the best way to make something inevitable is to assume that it is.

(On the other hand, it didn't work for the US/USSR version of WWIII.)

29:

I agree with Murphy, this figure is fishy.

Automotive industry? The big players are busily developing hybrid and electric models.

Naval vessels? A modern US destroyer costs about $1 billion. Very little of that is the diesel engines. If it was economic to do so, they would just put a nuclear reactor in the thing.

Railways? Again, you can lose the diesel locomotives and electrify the track. That does not mean all your track and rolling stock is suddenly obsolete. It does mean there are business opportunities in electrifying the railways.

I could go on but you get the idea. I'll agree it's plausible that oil-dependent governments (Russia, but also the likes of Saudi Arabia) have an interest in keeping the carbon bubble inflated. Individual actors within the fossil fuel industry may do likewise. But I don't buy that the entire global transport and energy sectors are backing this en bloc, or even close to it.

More generally, I agree the Forces of Trump are not that organised. Steve Bannon is not an evil genius. At best, he's an evil mediocrity.

30:

"Please can you explain to me why I'm wrong to fear this outcome?"

Hard to say. There's the gap between intent and ability. Just because a dictator wants a nuclear bomb and is willing to use it, that doesn't mean he'll be able to obtain a bomb. Just because a dictator wants to conquer the world, that doesn't mean he has the ability.

With Bush II it was clear his inner circle was about empire. Project for a New American Century made this quite clear. Iraq was meant to be the first stepping stone. "One senior British official dryly told Newsweek before the invasion, 'Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.'" But they were really, really bad at imperialism. Made Hitler look like Sun-Tzu. That's why they were given the nickname the Mayberry Machiavellis, alluding to the incompetent deputy sheriff character played by Don Knotts. Ignore morality. Ignore propriety. Just look at it like a bloodless sociopath. They were really, really bad at empire. What were the failure modes? Near as I can figure:
1. Some actually believed the propaganda, Jesus has got their backs so everything will fall into place.
2. Many were just along for the contracts and they make money success or fail. They're just in it for the looting.
3. Real knowledge and bad news were not welcome inside the bubble.

Now we've misunderestimated Trump every step of the way here. My current guess is he's a buffoonish figurehead, a distraction from the real agenda. Word that he doesn't even know what's in the executive orders he's signing seems to confirm this. So the question is how smart are the people behind him?

I would like to think that they're making a lot of mistakes here, overestimating what they can get done, overreaching. But they may be smarter than we give them credit for. It seems like the big data shit they're pulling here is Harry Seldon next level. They may have a better read on this than we think. Or they might be good at gaining power, bad at using it.

The thing that has me the most depressed is there are no consequences. The Bush II admin clearly lied to the American people, ginned up a war, got 4k or so Americans killed, estimates of over a million Iraqi dead, blew $3 trillion on this nonsense and nobody is in jail. There's no lesson to point to and say "If you try this kind of shit, you'll end up like Cheney." Nixon may not have been right when he said "If the president does it it's not illegal" but it's not like he's going to jail.

31:

2These people want to destroy freedom for everyone who isn't a rich white Christian heterosexual male. QED.2

I'm white, hetero, male, decently affluent, atheist but baptized...and I'm scared beyond words by such a scenario. Because in a world like this not even the alleged élite will be safe or free

32:

I'm not so keen on that method.

If you count the entire rail network, including the tracks or the entire airport, not just the planes that's like counting the roads, not just the cars.

You get a big impressive number and imply that it's inextricably linked to fossile fuels but then someone comes along and puts an electric car on the road, a locomotive with some big battery banks instead of a fuel tank on the old tracks and suddenly a few trillion worth of track stops counting as fossile fuels but it doesn't cost a few trillion to do so.

Re: greedy billionaire. Is there any way to distinguish between disasters just happening that would have happened anyway and disasters happening because of the right wing? Again, this feels like a line of reasoning which allows you to attribute culpability for all evil in the world forever to your opponents in a fairly unfalsifiable way.

33:

Well I won't be living up to my handle today :(.

I unfortunately agree with every dark cloud you see on the horizon really being there, and would like to add a couple more to them (I briefly touched in a post some time ago, but it was quite deep in the conversation).

The automation of production methods and services will increasingly lead local populations even in the glorious west to be at the mercy of existing or lacking social welfare approaches. As the recent past (not only, but it's fresh) has shown, people living on the border of hunger can be more easily contained, and increasingly strong repressive means can also be employed locally against criminals and other undesirables. The surplus production capability means that large parts of the population are not needed to keep the wheels turning anyways, and the competition for the few un-automated positions will be fierce enough to curtail dissent.

How do laws excluding criminals from any social benefits sound? (by criminals I mean people with felonies on the record, or even misdemeanors if "tough on crime" is popular) - especially when combined with laws making records easily accessible or even mandatory to get a job anywhere doing anything to make sure that no illegal aliens have access to the market? And by having laws against I don't know .. loitering with intent... or something similar that makes being homeless illegal, we come to the point where there's plenty of laws and not a lot of opportunities not to break them (tip my hat to master Pratchett for that one), especially if you're poor or do not have the right finish on the outer layers.

Will this not lead to also locally thinning the herd, enforcing good behavior all while soaring in popularity for being tough on crime?

34:

The majority of the government don't have to be actively evil, just acquiescent and blind enough—and in a day-to-day level, I think no level of acquiescence with or blindness to evil greater than that shewn by me with regard to this wonderful tablet on which I'm writing (or historically racist land ownership policies where I write) were necessary. Or think of all the voters not necessarily all that bigoted but quite willing to put bigotry into power on the unsupported promise of ten hours a day back on the assembly line or down the mine, allowing them to be 'independent' (that is, vassal rulers of home fiefs) again.

I'd like to believe that I would be more practically moral if my decisions had greater emotional import, but looking at the odds….

35:

So the most optimistic position is to invoke Hanlon's razor.

There is of course an intermediate position, that it is not a plan per se but merely the convergence of multiple players all having limited personal goals in that general direction. That is still bad, but more open to re-direction if the interests of individual players can be changed.

However, I'd suggest following the old adage "hope for the best but plan for the worst." The US constitutional "checks & balances" is going to get a real stress test over the next couple of years, and the failure mode would affect the world in the ways you describe.

The upside is that the EU could be pushed into becoming a stronger democratic body due to Brexit & Trump.

Brexit has the twin effects of (a) removing the drag of a reluctant UK on EU policies, and (b) focussing the rEU on remaining united which will hopefully mean addressing some of the democratic deficit issues.

Of course this deficit is not as extreme as certain anti-EU campaigners have made out, as the Council of Ministers is formed from individuals elected at the state level- one could almost compare it with the original US Senate. Therefore the members of the Council do still need to keep an eye on what their home electorate want.

Trump is providing a focus of what the EU doesn't want to be like. If the USA goes full dictator, a fully functioning EU could be the natural alternative leader for developing nations by having a "reasonable" immigration policy (to provide workers for an aging European population) and assistance in developing infrastructure abroad (to limit the numbers who need to flee & try to emigrate to Europe).

What happens to the constituent parts of the former UK would probably be a side note to the bigger story.

36:

I'd rate this scenario as plausible but unlikely due to there being so many moving parts (not everyone in the administration or influencing the administration are on the same page) and there being so few applicable precedents for this situation. Not to mention, there's a subtle hint of personal instability in Trump which suggests he might prove difficult to direct.

I think it all hinges on Israel (and hey, what part of U.S. policy in the middle East doesn't?). The administration is rife with anti-Semites, but the most members of the Republican party and most of their base are of the "Israel can do no wrong" camp. I'm struggling to see a way these two factions reconcile.

For me, the most likely short-term cataclysm is Trump discarding Bannon. Trump's loyalty to others, even sycophants, is prone to sudden reversals, and this is especially true when the public perception is that Trump is not 100% his own man. He rewards his cronies richly, but the moment they threaten his autonomy, they're discarded. I could see this happening to Bannon very, very easily.

And wouldn't that make for some potentially interesting stories on Breitbart...

37:

Yes, but one scenario actually has reality behind it, one does not. Unless you believe that Climate Change isn't significant, nor that the UN's various programs actually do do what they say (and aren't secretly AGENDA-21 GLOBAL DEPOPULATION, cue Alex Jones reel that's been playing since Father Koch got his anti-JFK nobble on). That's the trick to mirrors: one side is reality, and how they flip the image is an interesting one (it's behind you!).

Or, translated: false equivalences are bad, and you should feel bad. The White Nationalist "breeding us out / genocide" cry is not a new one - it's been used for at least 100 years or so.

~

Data points:

The fall armyworm, so called because it eats its way through most of the vegetation in its way as it marches through crops, is native to North and South America but was identified for the first time in Africa last year.

Cabi chief scientist Dr Matthew Cock said: "This invasive species is now a serious pest spreading quickly in tropical Africa and with the potential to spread to Asia.

Fall armyworm 'threatens African farmers' livelihoods' BBC, 6th Feb, 2017

Note: Monsanto produces the largest GM anti-armyworm strain, but in the Americas it's having a bit of a problem:

Armyworms develop resistance to Bt corn Phys.org, Nov 2014

So, Africa covered. Let's go on:

An infection that struck wheat crops in Sicily last year is a new and unusually devastating strain of fungus, researchers say — and its spores may spread to infect this year’s harvests in Europe, the world’s largest wheat-producing region.

“We have to be careful of shouting wolf too loudly. But this could be the largest outbreak that we have had in Europe for many, many years,” says Chris Gilligan, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge, UK, who leads a team that has modelled the probable spread of the fungus’s spores.

Deadly new wheat disease threatens Europe’s crops Nature, 2nd Feb, 2017

That could be very bad. But, we're sure the media will responsibly start an awareness campaign and start the push to support science and...

Oh, bugger.

Lettuce 'black market' emerges amid national salad shortage Telegraph 3rd Feb 2017

So, Asia you say?

Update: On 26 April, a team led by microbial population geneticist Daniel Croll, who is at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, reported on github.com that the Bangladeshi wheat-blast strain is closely related to those collected in Brazilian wheat fields and on nearby weeds. His team’s analysis, which uses the data on the website Open Wheat Blast, reveals that the sample is not closely related to known rice-blast-causing strains of M. oryzae. Croll’s team concludes that wheat blast was probably introduced to Bangladesh from Brazil, and warns that other Asian countries that import Brazilian wheat, including Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, should be on the lookout for the disease.

Fields are ablaze in Bangladesh, as farmers struggle to contain Asia’s first outbreak of a fungal disease that periodically devastates crops in South America. Plant pathologists warn that wheat blast could spread to other parts of south and southeast Asia, and are hurrying to trace its origins.

Devastating wheat fungus appears in Asia for first time Nature, April 2016

Note: this is a different variety to the new European one.


I'm sure there's more, so I'll see you post 300.

38:

I've spent the previous eight years (Obama's term as President) listening with increasing amazement to a litenany of off-the-wall conservative (USian) conspiracy theories including how he was a sekret Muslim, how Christians were all going to be rounded up intp FEMA death camps once Obama took all their guns and implented Sharia law, even that he wouldn't leave at the end of his term but would invent or precipitate some sort of national emergency, declare martial law and oh, yes: let's not forget that Michelle Obama is a man.

Forgive me: maybe my bullshit detector has been so greatly overworked that it's stuck in the 'on' position but I just find myself utterly unable to believe in vast conspiracies any more. Maybe you're right and Hitler's minions are on the cusp of their new Final Solution -- but it fails the giggle test to me. Remember, beware of ascribing to evil intent what can adequately explained by greed, stupidity and incompetance.

Mike

39:

Yes, no-one plans ahead, leading a huge Corporation like Exxon Mobile is easy and so forth.

Experts, however, aren’t terribly surprised. “It’s never been remotely plausible that they did not understand the science,” says Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at Harvard University. But as it turns out, Exxon didn’t just understand the science, the company actively engaged with it. In the 1970s and 1980s it employed top scientists to look into the issue and launched its own ambitious research program that empirically sampled carbon dioxide and built rigorous climate models. Exxon even spent more than $1 million on a tanker project that would tackle how much CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. It was one of the biggest scientific questions of the time, meaning that Exxon was truly conducting unprecedented research.

In their eight-month-long investigation, reporters at InsideClimate News interviewed former Exxon employees, scientists and federal officials and analyzed hundreds of pages of internal documents. They found that the company’s knowledge of climate change dates back to July 1977, when its senior scientist James Black delivered a sobering message on the topic. “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels," Black told Exxon’s management committee. A year later he warned Exxon that doubling CO2 gases in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by two or three degrees—a number that is consistent with the scientific consensus today. He continued to warn that “present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical." In other words, Exxon needed to act.

Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago Scientific American, Oct 2015


Ostriches: please pull head out-of-sand.

40:
with a lot of unpaid help and energy from both Internet Social Justice Warriors

Sorry?

41:

My understanding of the $70tn figure is that its mostly not _infrastructure_, but undrilled assets, ie. oil, coal and gas left in the ground.

That $70tn is assets that disappear the moment we all agree to stop.

42:

A cursory Google search reveals that Stephen Bannon was involved in the (mis)management of the Biosphere 2 project some twenty years ago. I'm not sure whether this buttresses or saps your argument.

43:

For some reason that immediately calls to mind Ben Elton's novel "Stark"...

44:

It may be valid to argue whether there is planning and intent or convergent "greed, stupidity, and incompetence", but in effect it's rather like arguing whether a competent trained shooter with a rifle is more or less dangerous that a hundred maniacs with machetes.

Also: Single global conspiracy may be wrong, but as per @39 there are certainly single entities capable of planning on multi-year timescales in ways that are not to the general good of humanity (see also Charlie's past post about corporations).

45:

Data point: Twitter hashtag, #OEspiritoSantoPedeSocorro

TRIGGER WARNING: REALITY, DEATH, LOOTING ETC. YOU WILL SEE GRAPHIC VIOLENCE.

Brazil: police strike, End-of-Times / Messianic modal thought kicking in. Localized at the moment.

~

Oh, and yes: 20+ years of zombie films where it starts as a back-drop montage of such scenes is very much hardwired into this one, don't view if you're not cognitively immune to it.

Serious Trigger Warning.

46:

@Wōdan Shodan

You're attributing the worlds pests and diseases to a genocidal right wing conspiracy?

your "data points" are, shall we say, more akin to what you'd expect in clipped newspaper articles pinned to a wall with wool linking them in a movie scene where the director wants to make clear that the character has gone off the deep end.

And you think your side has "real data" while their does not.

Are you even aware that you're just claiming a slightly different set of secret evil global conspiracies than they are right? Not even particularly more plausible ones.


@cptbutton

You're thinking of non-GMO hybrids.
Seeds are the result of crossing 2 parent varieties. It provides more predictability and you can absolutely grow from later generations but the results are less predictable.

47:
The administration is rife with anti-Semites, but the most members of the Republican party and most of their base are of the "Israel can do no wrong" camp. I'm struggling to see a way these two factions reconcile.
Lots of todays anti-semites seem to have (or pretend to have?) no problem with Israel. It's very odd.
48:

Lots of todays anti-semites seem to have (or pretend to have?) no problem with Israel. It's very odd.

Ain't it though? We live in interesting times.

49:

Another comment on Bangladesh - they have severe issues all along the country with soil salinity, exacerbated by a trend since the 90s to convert farmland to what was much more lucrative shrimp farming by letting the sea into their land. This has destroyed vast amounts of arable land and biodiversity and caused all sorts of issues with people being unable to feed themselves any more - the costs of basic foodstuffs to feed the shrimp farmers is reaching parity with what they earn from selling their catch.

50:

Sigh.

I'll go slow for you. Trust me, you don't win a reality-fight with me. And no, you don't know "which side" I'm on.

Science has long predicted that climate change would see a rise in pests / disease. e.g

Implications of climate change for agricultural productivity in the early twenty-first century Royal Society, 2010.

Section #3. This is a known known.

Those three links were to highlight:

1) Reality is mapping onto the predictions, i.e. the science is correct (surprise!)
2) The new strains etc are not long known ones - either they're new introductions or new mutations
3) The prior GM strains are already being overwhelmed by a little thing called "Nature". The concept is often used by dubious Evolution Psychology idiots, but predator-prey arms races really do exist.

If your response is to slice science funding down etc, and you're aware of the issue, then you're using it offensively. And yes, the Republican GOP has been doing this for some time now:

According to the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), the US is to slash funding for foreign aid and international affairs programmes by $6.5bn as part of the last-minute compromise agreed in Congress last Friday. This is not quite the 19% reduction sought by congressional Republicans, but the deal drops spending below 2009 levels and affects nearly all of the programme areas covered by the international affairs budget, including those related to health and economic assistance.

US foreign aid takes immediate cuts, and further battles loom Guardian, 2011

The draft executive order from the new US administration that would slash a minimum of 40% of funding to multilateral institutions, such as the UN and the World Bank, threatens deep and destabilising consequences for the international system and the people it aims to help. And it won’t help the US, either.

US funding cuts to UN agencies would be costly for peace and security Guardian, 31st Jan, 2017

Counter-point: Agricultural Development: Golden Rice Bill Gates Foundation.


Yes, but expecting charity / foundations to make up the slack is insanity. So, there's evidence that either the GOP doesn't know or doesn't care about the impact of their policies.

Choose wisely.

51:

'Total world wealth is estimated to be in the region of 250 trillion.
Claiming that a full quarter of all wealth is just fossile fuel infrastructure seems fishy unless you are misleadingly permissive with what you'll consider part of "infrastructure for processing fossil".'

You're off by about a factor of 10, as this handy chart shows (bottom right corner): https://xkcd.com/980/huge/#x=-10494&y=-8124&z=5

If you combine it all, the gross sum of human wealth is about $2,397 trillion as of 2010. And a lot of that is just paper wealth: numbers in a computer account somewhere. One of the big problems the truly rich have nowadays is that anytime they take money out of the numbered accounts and try to buy something, it immediately creates a bubble and inflation, as there is more money in these accounts than there are things to buy. Hence quantitative easing, as they attempt to grow their wealth without overbalancing the apple cart, as it were.

I fear that sooner or later though someone is going to say "screw it" and blow up the dollar by actually trying to spend a few trillion in order to own something critical, like the stock market or all the real estate. That'll be fun to live through.

52:

[T]he "Red Pill" misogynists (irony: their touchstone is a reference to a movie produced by two transwomen).

Also, as somebody pointed out, the choice of the pills is offered by a black man and a woman. The "Red Pill" misogynists probably wouldn't trust them.

53:

I suspect this is why the Republicans hate him. He's doing what they want to do but blatantly.

54:

The biggest hole in this scenario is that there's an alternative way to manage this if you're in an industry tied to a dying carbon bubble.

Threaten to remove aid from any countries which don't ban wind/solar, and then "encourage" them to build carbon-dependent infrastructure. Remember, they need replacement demand for the decarbonization being done in Europe right now. In other words, they need to increase carbon demand (at least in the short term).

Another thing is that building dykes in Bangladesh that have to be powered by fossil-fuel based pumps would be a great way to ensure that Bangladesh continues to consume fossil fuels.

55:

This is easily explained. Biblically speaking, Israel needs to exist for the "end times" to happen, so they need Israel to exist, but per Christian doctrine, the Jews are all going to hell because they don't believe. Israel isn't something they like or care about, it's a Biblical plot coupon.

56:

Because a nuclear war is safe for no-one, right?
Also, I fall into all the categories you list & I'm distinctly unhappy too.

Incidentally, I've just realised:
Charlie ...
your scenario depends upon the big killer being GW, whilst the drones, etc act as "fencekeepers".
But these loons all publicly deny GW at all costs, yet they are going to use it?
Even Adolf didn't do that - he was quite explicit in his aims & objectives, as laid out in "My Struggle".
Apart form a really christian clampdown & a looting spree, what else/other are their aims, because the first two objectives have been publicly, if obliquely stated?

57:

How do laws excluding criminals from any social benefits sound? ... Will this not lead to also locally thinning the herd, enforcing good behavior all while soaring in popularity for being tough on crime?

Already done, at least in the USA. Look at the way Florida disenfranchises felons, even if their sentence is fully served. Or the school-to-prison pipeline, or the way some rustbelt towns have replaced productive industrial employment with prison guard labour at private prisons. Look at the war on drugs. Look at actual no-shit debtor's prisons and the abomination that is the US student loan system.

58:

This is extraordinarily similar to Gwynne Dyer's "Lifeboat Britain" theory from 2006 for what that's worth. If you're not familiar with his work then Climate Wars is a good start and there are a good few YT vids worth watching ("Geopolitics in a Hotter World" is a good starting point @ ~90mins).

59:

If the mid-terms are openly rigged or cancelled, Brexit simply won't happen.
Even so, the rise of him & his even=-worse followers is giving quite a few people in this country pause.
As I keep saying, up until 2 years after At50 is triggered, if it is triggered, then it can be cancelled ... if only because no-one, least of all the other net contributor nations wants us to go, because theor bills will get significantly bigger.
[ See also Shauble & Verhoftadt etc. ]

60:

Remember, beware of ascribing to evil intent what can adequately explained by greed, stupidity and incompetance.
Agreed ... but:
Never underestimate the amount of damage that can be done by a combination of greed, stupidity & incompetence.
Yes?

61:

You're attributing the worlds pests and diseases to a genocidal right wing conspiracy?

It doesn't have to be a conspiracy. Doesn't even have to be big.

All it takes is a 0.1% asshole who's betting long on Monsanto and who decides to help things along by hiring a couple of shady military contractors to hit up a Brazilian agronomy lab — not the sort of place noted for having armed guards, searchlights, and razor wire perimeters — for some diseased plants. Then to put them in a crate aboard a cargo jet bound for somewhere in Africa, and pay for distribution.

It's not a complex project and you can probably run it with pocket change (on the order of a couple of hundred thou, maybe a couple — single digit — million dollars). It has the disadvantage that there's a period of a couple of years during which the crop disease may not be visible, but once it hits, the farmers will send the shares of the local Roundup distributors through the roof.

If you're a nasty-minded entrepreneur it's no more difficult or expensive to exploit this as a business model than, say, Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures corp. In fact, it would look very much like IV, except with an emphasis on biotech/medicine/agronomy, and a very low-budget/low-key deniable operation on the side manufacturing investment opportunities. 99.9% of it would be above-board.

62:

Oh yes, how do you keep the minions quiet in this model of conspiracy?

That's actually unusually easy. You pay them market rates, and give them a pension plan on top. The pension is of course loaded down with shares in precisely the companies you're betting on, so that if your project succeeds, their pensions will out-perform the market nicely.

In other words, the illegal side of this scam is quite small and you can gag your minions trivially cheaply without running into the "if I shoot the pyramid builders who built the secret tunnels, who am I going to use to shoot the guards who shot the ..." problem.

63:

Although I share your worries, I've been heartened at how incompetent the Trump advisors seem to be. They're stumbling over each other, stabbing each other in the back, and then leaking their anger and frustration to the press and to Twitter. Bannon & Co. may want to see the outcome you're worried about, but it's clear that Trump has no idea how to effectively use the power he's been given. Moreover, I doubt if Trump, with is his history of ego and paranoia, will allow any of his followers—even Bannon—to become a threat to his egotistical need to be 100 percent in charge. Trump doesn't seem like a person who can learn from his mistakes—because he admits to no mistakes. So, for now, I don't think that Trump has the ability or talent to be another Mussolini, let alone another Hitler. Right now he looks like a wanna-be Berlusconi...

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/heres-how-green-card-chaos-unfolded

64:

Lots of todays anti-semites seem to have (or pretend to have?) no problem with Israel. It's very odd.

Millennialist theology (such as it is) posits that Jeezus won't return to bring about the rapture/Armageddon until after certain criteria are met. One of these is that the Jews conquer the Middle East; then they get to See The Light/Come to Jeezus/convert to Christianity, or they go in the fiery lake with all the rest of the Muslims/atheists/Catholics/sinners.

So they make nicey-nice to the hard-line settlers in Israel while secretly sneering at them as either sinners or the Xtian equivalent of March Violets.

65:

The anti-Semitic version is also easily explained: Israel as a destination for "self-deportation."

Ethnic cleansing is nearly as good as genocide when what you care about is "purifying" the homeland. Once the homeland is pure, the moral rectitude and awesomeness of a people governed by /r/TheDonald will overcome all external enemies. Or something, the ranting can get pretty thick.

66:

You're confusing economic activity or productivity with wealth.

If you build a castle and burn it down and then build a new castle there's been 2 castles built, lots of economic activity but the world is only richer by 1 castle.

I get the 250 figure here: (actually 256)

https://www.credit-suisse.com/us/en/about-us/research/research-institute/news-and-videos/articles/news-and-expertise/2016/11/en/the-global-wealth-report-2016.html


67:

But these loons all publicly deny GW at all costs, yet they are going to use it?

Greg, they say they don't believe in GW.

But they've got fiduciary responsibilities to protect their investments or their shareholders. So they'll lie like rugs.

Quick question: if someone offered you a couple of million a year for life as long as you always said "green" whenever anyone asked what colour the sky was, would you do it? (NB: "sky is green" is shorthand for a statement about some aspect of reality that you aren't personally bothered about, either way.)

68:

Please can you explain to me why I'm wrong to fear this outcome?

You're wrong to fear this outcome because Trump is too crazy to follow any plan. My best experiences in predicting the future recently have been intuitive; I made the same mistakes you made about Brexit and Trump. My rationality told me that everything was going to be fine, but my intuitions, following the very ugliest of "vibrations" insisted that Brexit would pass and Trump would be elected.

Unfortunately, I can only explain what I'm perceiving in mystical terms with which I am thoroughly uncomfortable, but I think we're dealing with one of those times where the amount of evil in the world outweighs the amount of good, just like in the 1930s, but this time all the major players have nukes. The "fallout" will not be pleasant. (The bad vibes say that Trump will nuke Iran.) I'm really sorry but I can't explain this rationally.

The other key here is Cambridge Analytica and Bannon. Its no accident that a neo-nazi has control of a technology that shows 90 percent accuracy in discovering a black person or homosexual from their social media posts. This gives the alt-right their own elint capabilities approximately equal to what a three-letter-agency had 5-10 years ago. Combine this with the ability to determine income from the same sources, and I suspect that sometime very soon (if we don't end up glowing in the dark) that they will hook the output of Cambridge Analytica's searches to some kind of automated ugliness.

I call this the "Cthulhu Surveillance State" because the tentacles will be everywhere, and most (Black/Gay/Hispanic) people will have no idea why they lost their jobs...

70:

Charlie,

One thing - I *know* that the petrochemical company heads know what's coming - they've had an example in their faces since the seventies.

The school year of 1977-78, the lady I was with at the time was going to school in Allentown, PA. I only got two, month-long jobs while we were up there, one being delivery of meals-on-wheels to facilities. Allentown is literally across the Lehigh River from Bethlehem, and I drove along the road for something like TWO MILES, the road maybe a quarter or half mile from the river... of the closed down plant of Bethlehem Steel, once one of the biggest in the world.

The petrochemical industry sees their future in what happened to the US steel industry, and of course they're scared, and working at ROI... and, backhandedly, from what I can tell, buying into future power sources.

mark

71:

Hey, Charlie, you forgot 'able-bodied.' The hammer often falls on crips first.

72:

Thanks for the reminder! (Will edit/update.)

73:

It doesn't matter. Carbon is a huge bubble, and the consequences of it popping will be... difficult.

74:

Once Art.50 is activated, in terms of existing law it takes unanimity on the EU side to extend the negotiation period or reverse the activation. I don't see a lot of goodwill towards Westminster for that to happen.

May & Co seem determined to go for the hardest of hard Brexit ASAP (and Labour have no inclination to stop Brexit and little ability to affect the terms). The absolute refusal to consider the compromise proposals by the Scottish govt. make IndyRef2 fairly likely. That will be put to the people of Scotland on the back of all the recent snubs ("Shut up and eat your cereal" on steroids) and refusals to consider the majority of Scots voting to remain in the EU (and the threat of not being in the EU if independent being a significant factor in the "No" result in Indyref1).

From the EU side, if Westminster is willing to proceed with Brexit even at the cost of breaking up the UK, they would probably be perfectly happy to have iScotland take the place of the UK, which keeps the bulk of the fUKs oil & energy and fishing resources. The loss of the London banking industry from the EU is a feature rather than a bug, as Frankfurt, Paris & Dublin scoop up a lot of that business.

If Indyref2 gives a result to remain with the UK, the EU can offer the already suggested "personal citizenship" in exchange for access to energy & fishing resources. Trading away (predominately Scottish) fishing resources for benefits to other UK industries has been govt policy since Thatcher, so a cheap concession for May towards something which might placate those "remoaners".

If May activates Art.50 by the end of March, that sets the clock ticking to April 2019. The US midterms in Nov 2018 are three-quarters of the way through that countdown.

I personally doubt at that stage anything less than a cancellation of the US elections with an Reichstag Fire/Enabling Act scenario would cause May to seek to reverse course or the EU to unanimously vote to extend the time limit. The momentum will have built up too much for either if it is mere "irregularities" in the US elections.

Bear in mind thatthe Democrats are defending 23 Senate seats, many of which are in states which voted Trump, while the Republicans are defending 6 all of which are fairly "safe". It would therefore not be particularly strange under normal circumstances if the Democrats lost more of those seats than they gained from the Republicans. Current calculations are that 13 seats could well switch to Republican (unless the Trump administration manages to alienate a lot of voters in those states).

So it is entirely possible that with very few "nudges" not any more visible that usual "peculiarities" in US elections (the country which gave us the word "gerrymander" after all), could give a strong Republican majority without anything obvious enough for the rest of the world to cry foul.

As the next UK General Election is not scheduled until 2020, it is likely May (or another of her ilk) would remain perfectly happy to to hold the US administrations hand for anything less than the most blatant abrogation of the constitution (and possibly even then). Certainly it is unlikely she would cancel the Brexit policy to which she has nailed her colours so firmly.

I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

75:

Charlie wrote The cost of solar has fallen by 85% in the past 7 years:... It follows logically that if you have heavily invested in fossil fuels, time is running out to realize a return on your investment. Buying a US administration tailored to maximize ROI...

If there is lobbying going on to push for higher taxes on solar energy and electric cars and lowering taxes on oil based energy/products it would be plausible. That would be a very visible sign of intent. And it wouldn´t surprise me if we receive news like that in the near future from the loony bin across the pond.

76:

>And the best way to make something inevitable is to assume that it is.

And he does see it as inevitable. He's a self-confessed Lenninst who believes in the "Fourth Turning" and want to destroy everything.

His comments about China were made in his radio show on March 2016, according to USA Today. He also repeatedly talks about being at war. Here's how the USA Today article closes,

"Concern about brewing conflict, [Bannon] said, was a fundamental concept behind Bannon's media enterprise. “Our big belief, one of our central organizing principles at the site, is that we’re at war,” he said.

"It's war. It's war. Every day, we put up: America's at war, America's at war. We're at war,” he said in December 2015. “Note to self, beloved commander in chief: We're at war."

There's no plan. He just wants to destroy those he has decided are his enemies.

[[ HTML fixed - mod ]]

77:

Something not yet mentioned is the various 'Calexit' proposals, which are now also being supported by some in the alt-right. You also see Trump twittering now about how he wants to defund California.(And I'd imagine the Russians would see it as justice for the USSR).

Basically 2 things.

1. Some in the alt-right think if they can jettison California, they can have an eternal electoral mandate.

2. This is the stupidest idea in 157 years.

First, the Union either is, or is not. I'm a strong believer in the Union as a concept. Allowing any state to leave is not possible. Both on legal grounds, as the states gave up sovereignty in joining the Union, as well as practical grounds. We're too intertwined. It's part of why there was a support for a USE postwar, and part of why the EU started off as a common market for coal/steel. It makes war just not possible.

Second, letting just one state go isn't going to happen. If California seriously considered seceding, it would quickly turn into multiple other states leaving to join California. Quite possibly all the 'blue states' would attempt to create a new government.

Third, this way lies the end of Civilization.

Remember how I said we're too intertwined? For example, water rights in the west mean California agriculture takes water from the Colorado river, which is governed by an interstate compact. Secession makes that compact words on a page. Plenty of other flashpoints. Combine this with massive worldwide financial panic, as the dollar becomes unsafe, trade breaks down and unemployment for young men becomes a big tension point.

So theres no way its a peaceful uncoupling. Control over military assets will become a big issue. Does SD try to stay a federal enclave? Does Bremerton? If the US's second strike assets in the Pacific, as well as its ability to project power suddenly stop, does that free up China to grab all their claims? What about 'copperhead' areas that stay loyal? Or failed secessionists in other areas (does Arizona have to send in the national guard to keep Tuscon from joining the free states?).

The conflict will escalate, and while the federal government probably will hold most nukes, and their codes, there will likely be a great deal of conflict. And much of the machinery of making Nukes are in blue states.

78:

Oops, I hit submit instead of preview. The cite for Bannon being a Leninist is Victor Sebestyen's article in El Graun.

79:

They don't need to lobby the Federal Gov't when it's easier and cheaper to buy up large voting stakes in utilities and use that to push anti-solar and anti-renewable policies.

Just look at how many rate restructuring schemes have been pushed where the fixed costs to consumers are increased while lowering the per-energy cost. At the same time they're sunsetting net metering and pushing for renewable producers to be paid below wholesale energy rates and for smaller solar to require separate metering so it can be credited at wholesale rates only.

This gives both nice deniability while helping discourage both renewables and efficiency efforts. To add insult to injury it helps shift the costs from high-energy consumers to low-energy consumers so those pesky youths and environmentalists will pay more while helping the old wasteful sorts.

80:

Well, that is a fairly plausible worst case scenario. Though you could also throw in destabilizing various regions to promote warfare.

Though personally I don't think there's anything so sinister. I think the white nationalism is merely a side effect of attracting various authoritarian types who love Big Man.

A lot of people compare what's going on to Fascism (usually the German version because that's all schools really focus on). I see it as close to Gaullism and dirigisme. Which would benefit politically connected large corporations, especially with the national economic policy directing nature of a dirigisme regime.

Though the larger problem in the West is that everyone wants to bring back the 30 year period post-WW2 where every economy saw record growth. Which won't happen, because this period is an aberration not the norm that people want it to be. We'll probably have Chinese people saying the same thing about the present in a few decades.

81:

That's too premeditated for the Trump Administration.

Please note that the following scenario assumes that what we are witnessing is deliberate and planned and that the people in Trump's inner circle actually have a coherent objective they are working towards.

What news has been (constantly) leaking out into the political press here indicates otherwise. Trump barely bothered to read any of the executive orders given to him to sign, they're lurching from one crisis to the next, his people casually lie and get caught in it later on, he rambles crap on Twitter regardless of the consequences - and so on. It's an entire administration of short-term opportunists with poor quality preparation.

82:

One: Deltas.

We've mentioned anoxic zones, extreme weather and sea level rise as major dangers for people living in deltas. Add another one: Most large deltas experience subsidence, basically the ground sinks due to several factors - lack of sediments in the streams (dams trap sediments), ground water extraction, loss of forests. This subsidence is far faster than sea level rise. This article estimates 80-150 cm subsidence in the next 20 years, compared to about 1m sea level rise till 2100 for the Mekong delta.
The takeaway is that whatever one thinks how much time there's left (for whom?), it's probably less than that. Approx. 500 million people live in deltas, worldwide

83:

A progressive opposition that isn't fixated on disastrous identity politics and intersectionalism would go a long way to bringing about a rational and humane response.

I view Brexit and Trump as being like giant icebergs falling into the Antarctic ocean: big, splashy, and the outcome of years of incremental change.

Remember 9 years ago when the USA not only had a Democratic president, but also a Democratic majority in one of the houses? When Great Britain had a Labour government? When Australia had a Labour government? When Marine le Pen was a joke as a French presidental candidate? Most of the western world is swinging to conservative.

Yet today we still have progressives for the most part showing a very human desire to blame anyone but ourselves for this. Can't be our fault the working class in Britain voted against us. Can't be our fault that poor US citizens voted against us. Must be, um, KGB interference!

We're the ones supposed to best at saying "Maybe if we did things differently, it would be better!" The past nine years of progressive politics has been ineffective if not counterproductive.

84:
Once Art.50 is activated, in terms of existing law it takes unanimity on the EU side to extend the negotiation period or reverse the activation.

Only the former, art. 50 doesn't mention revocability. Which is why a case is to be brought in Dublin (and henceforth the ECJ) to get a ruling on this. Verhofstadt, and iirc other EU notables, have previously hinted at the possibility that notification can be revoked. As a Scot who wants to remain, this is about my only hope at this point, because I don't see indyref2 producing the desired result.

85:

Two: Coalitions of violence

I'm not sure I buy the scenario, I just don't find the big errors. But I don't think an actual conspiracy is neccessary. I'm thinking of Christian Gerlachs book "Extremely violent societies" where he investigates several genocides and other cases of massviolence in the 20th century.

One key lesson he draws is that extreme mass violenxe happens when there's a 'coalition of violence' - when several different groups in a society can participate in and profit from mass violence.
Example: The killings in Indonesia where conducted by the army, militias, organized crime and large landowners, all of whom had different reasons. The campaign(s) of murders were not prepared well it advance, the security aparatus started and other factions joined in.

I don't think his theory is universally loved in the field, but I think it's at least worth looking for possilbe coalitions of violence, for groups that may under the wrong circumstances agree on targets.

(ISTR that I recently found an introductory essay by Gelach himself, but right now my Google fu fails me)

86:

The Green Revolution is predicated on continuing access to cheap oil too. Diesel for the equipment, and other oil derivatives for the fertilizers and pesticides. Both of these last two will need to be used more and more as AGW kicks into high gear. Soil loss is a big issue and will only get worse as time goes on.

87:

Three: How to bust out of a bubble? Serious question.

I understand the credit card trick Charlie linked in the OP. But how to do similar with the carbon bubble? Slowly withdrawing capital and investing in renewables would be a waste, since right now investing in fossil energy infrastructure is more profitable. And it will be like that right until the bubble pops!
So how does an exit strategy look like, that at the same time tries to exit as late as possible and profitable?

So you could loose some potential profit, withdraw capital a few years early and find other investment venues (as if there's not tons pf capital lying about as is).
You can try to get an information advantage somehow, by knowing (better than your competitors) how the environment will be on legislative period down the line. But even then, withdrawing funds could send the signal that the days of oil and coal are over, causing the bubble to pop (the thinking here is: Shell slowly divests, Exxon notices, then Gazprom etc).

In short, I don't see any plan possible except play it by the ear for another few years (when playing by the ear includes all the shenannigans known from this industry)

88:

You grow the fuck up, slit the throat of the Beast, and start spending Capital with no hint or hope of returns in the next 10-20 years. You know, what sane people did, before Algos and TIME got abused so badly. Given that many (if not all) Pension schemes have been gutted for short-term gain, there's not really an ethical argument against it.

Oh, and if there's protests? Whelp. It's all electronic now.

[NOT A FUCKING SUBTLE HINT: THESUNTHESUNTHESUN]


Oh, and any smart-arse who thinks exploiting a system is better than growing a system. Well, you introduce them to Somalia[1] with a back-pack, the basic necessities and a firm prod of: "Go forth, and make your dream reality, Mr Galt!"

Dr. Dominik Balthasar is a development policy fellow with the Heritage Institute.
He currently holds a position with the Transatlantic Postdoctoral Fellowship for
International Relations and Security, working with Chatham House, the United
States Institute of Peace, and the European Union Institute for Security Studies


Oil in Somalia The Heritage Institute. PDF, 2014.

http://www.heritageinstitute.org/

p.s.

Dig under the surface. Let's just say: not really a National Based entity.


[1] This is a very cynical joke: you'll need to know your stuff about drones and oil first.

89:

I don't think the this is anywhere near the worst case, and I don't think you need the drones. To do in the Rohingya all it took was Facebook and machetes. I agree that big carbon are making hay, but this just feels like the current abnormal, much like the banking sector did under the neo libs. The new frontier in big business is tapping directly into the vein of government, and the carbon business are coming in for scraps.

90:

Mike, I grew up under the conserva-crazy of the Clinton presidency. It really was another world. Evil gubmint plans, black helicopters, the UN coming to take away our guns, all kinds of nuttery. People were convinced that the Feds were gonna do all kinds of this or that. The Waco standoff was a huge source of crazy and was what ultimately fueled Tim McVeigh's radicalism.

For me all of this was a short step away from the Jesus-crazy I grew up with. The church I was in was comfortably mainstream lutheran but I was a reader and read a bunch of material from the christian bookstore, Focus on the Family newsletters, etc. Saddam Hussein was the antichrist, forget what we said about the USSR because the collapse of communism kinda ruined that narrative.

When Dubya was selected all that militia batshittery kinda got put on hold. We didn't hear about radical righties freaking out over this and that but man, the stuff Dubya was doing was far, far worse and with greater consequences. Clinton got a blowjob. Nobody died there, not even the unborn. Dubya got many, many people killed.

So I get what you say about getting kind of burned out on faux outrage from the conserva-crazies but shit, the stuff Dubya did, we're still reeling from the consequences and the Trump crew are poised to make the fucking we got from them look like sweet, tender love.

The thing I will keep pointing out is it doesn't matter if what someone believes is stupid, ill-informed or crazy. If they're willing to act upon it, it's now your reality. The federal employees and their children in the Murrah Federal Building weren't involved in a government conspiracy, were not complicit in crimes against the citizenry, were completely innocent but someone had a different opinion. You have to take that shit seriously.

For me, the difference between the conserva-crazies screaming about Clinton/Obama wrecking the country and the other side saying the same about Bush/Trump is this: you're getting millions of people demonstrating. Large portions of the population are mobilizing. Even the MSM is talking about the stuff that's going on, it's not just fringe blogs on the left. And in the US we really don't have much of a nutty left, certainly not to the extent of the conserva-crazies. We have the normal, emotionally-balanced people getting worried.

This goes beyond the usual "my guy is awesome and your guy licks poop" politics-as-usual popularity contest.

91:

And yes, you did just witness someone making a joke that involves multiple threads at once, including fucking Italian art, once more:

Detail

Girolamo da Santacroce - The Adoration of the Three Kings

~


If you're going to go around making Jesus jokes while fucking the planet, make very sure you're the smartest bunnies in the room.

Worked ooh, 200 years ago with the Mason thing and so on. Now, not so much.


It smacks of hubris, otherwise.


WE SEE YOU. TAKES 10 SECONDS.

THESUNTHESUNTHESUN.

92:

"the Jews are all going to hell because they don't believe."

Not entirely correct. The Jews will be given the chance to accept Jesus as the true and proper Messiah, accept no substitutions. Those who do not will be cast into the lake of fire.

NB: Be wary of accepting assistance from those who see your faction/tribe/nation as an integral part of their eschatology. Things are good for the fatted calf right up until he's mentioned in the scripture.

93:

The other big thing is economic progressiveness has been dead in the US since the 70s. When the boomers came of age, and became Watergate babies, the political realignment made the parties split on nearly pure social issues.

Now that most of those issues are fairly settled. (But never count them out, especially with Domminonists wanting amendments). The RNC primaries have been about how 'established insider' don't deliver.

The Tea Party (before it was harnessed by the Koch Brothers) was a revolt by voters that knew the establishment within the party wasn't delivering. Unfortunately, those voters didn't understand the replacements couldn't deliver either.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have delivered most of the social goals they had, and can at best campaign on keeping the social progress. But they've adopted most of the Republican's economics in exchange.

But after ~40 years of de-regulation, there's a ground groundswell against the conventional wisdom. Trump and Bernie are two different views outside the acceptable wisdom. Trump is pushing old school policies we know don't work like Tariffs. Bernie is pushing European socialism. Both are shifts from the established system.

Now the Progressives are out there trying to build a movement, to take the party back. I predict Coffee Party to be the descriptor, once Howie gets seriously involved. Clintonism- a focus on social issues at the cost of economics, is going to be seriously suspect for a while.

94:

Like any really interesting conspiracy theory, Charlie’s passes the tests of self-consistency and sufficient consistency with external reality that it has the ring of truth. That doesn’t mean it’s right; neither does it mean it’s wrong. The main quibble I have is that Trump et al. don’t seem smart enough to pull off something this big. You can act like a blithering idiot for only so long before you accidentally do something smart that tips your hand. My money’s on the 0.1% (who are smart enough) using Trump et al. as sock puppets. One omission from your argument: the Saudis probably have enough cash, both on and off the books, to buy the entire alternative energy industry and replace OPEC with the Organization of Alternative Sources of Energy States (OASES).

You’re completely right about the body count from climate change. The only thing I’d dispute is timing. I think we’re already past the tipping point that leads to what we ecologists call an “alternative stable state”. A runaway greenhouse effect probably won’t turn us into Venus (we receive less than half the energy Venus receives), but we’re well on our way to an alternative stable state that will be disastrous for most of the developing world and not so nice for the developed world. The effects on agriculture are bad enough (e.g., the plant diseases and insects Wodan Shodan noted), but they don’t include the impacts on life-sustaining ecosystems, and they don’t include the effects of human disease, which will skyrocket among starving populations.

Anthony Cunningham notes, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity". To which I’d add greed, short-sightedness, incompetence, ignorance, and narcissistic belief in the infallability of one’s beliefs. Of course, these things can coexist with a massive conspiracy; they provide great cover because the mocking crowd loose all their ammunition at the straw men, thereby missing the real targets.

Doug D wondered whether there “is some hope that global warming will turn more of Siberia into a more viable breadbasket.” No, for a very good reason: the soils are largely unsuitable, apart from the chernozems. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_agriculture But that article doesn't mention what will happen to water availability; I've seen some studies suggesting we're in the middle of a long-term precipitation decrease.

Mayhem notes the effects of soil salinity in Bangladesh. Yes, and they’re exacerbated by a catastrophic problem with arsenic in the drinking water.

Johnathan noted: “The Green Revolution is predicated on continuing access to cheap oil too. Diesel for the equipment, and other oil derivatives for the fertilizers and pesticides... Soil loss is a big issue and will only get worse as time goes on.” Yes, but with a few caveats: (i) Much of the green revolution yield increases have been permitted by crop breeding (especially semi-dwarf rice cultivars). There's a ton of breeding going on now to produce adapted crops. (ii) Fertilizer is often readily available in terms of feces and urine, so long as you’re willing to collect and compost. The cultural barriers to such activities are not trivial. (iii) Hunter gatherers survive well without oil, but today, you’d need a severe population cull to get down to sustainable population levels for this lifestyle. (iv) Soil loss is usually treated as a developing country thing, but in fact, it’s pretty severe in the U.S. too.

BoingBoing offers some hope that we can stem the tide, at least to some extent: https://boingboing.net/2017/02/02/it-takes-3-5-of-a-population.html

95:

Notes to the Stellar Gallery: Yes, Girolamo da Santacroce was a Venetian painter, 16th Century.

Don't pull amateur level shit like Louis XIV and not expect to get TRUMPED.

~

Oh, and not a fucking joke. THESUNTHESUNTHESUN.


Don't send bell-boys with slurs or expect penis jokes to work. We're a little bit more involved than that.

12 seconds.

We're faster than you.

96:

The sad thing about renaissance art is how much of it is scenes from the bible. Not that there are no awesome paintings among those - Judith & Holofernes by Artimisia Gentilecci!
But to think of what the Breughels, Bosch etc. could have done in the time they painted endless variations of some Jesus scenes ...

97:

Time for Cheltenham to take over Cambridge Analytica, then & tell Bannon et al to engage in sex & travel?
Given that they are here ( I'm assuming Cambridge-1, not Cambridge-2, in Mass ...) am I correct?

98:

You forget, that, with the EU, when it gets difficult, the rules don't actually matter ( One of the reasons why Brexit looked attractive to many)
If it's in everybody's interests for Britain to remain "in" ( & it is ) then a way will be fudged.
Same as it APPEARED to be "in everybody's interest" for Greece to join the Euro, as previously discussed, in spite of the fact that it was against all the "rules".
OK?

99:
All the pieces of the neo-Nazi solution to climate change already exist. Walls: look to the West Bank barrier or the Mexico-United States barrier for examples

I presume everybody here knows what walls look like. If you have to reach for an example of walls excluding refugees, though, why not pick something closer to home? E.g., the walls marking Britain's border with Calais, which have literally no other purpose?

Also, citing anything Israeli as a prototype of something that is neo-Nazi is just needlessly inflammatory.

100:

It's an entire administration of short-term opportunists with poor quality preparation.
In which case, how do you explain the "Cambridge Analytica" problem & the careful targetting & pre-planning, then?
The tow simply don't match up.o

101:

THANK YOU!

That's what I thought

102:

THESUNTHESUNTHESUN

EXPLAIN?
Please.
You use this phrase time & again & again & again & again & ......
Is it actually supposed to mean something?

103:

No, Authoritarian.

Now, no-one argues that both sides haven't escalated the situation[1] into the Scenario where the Wall became reality, but please.

Polite version: argue well, and with sources and so forth. Don't guilt trip, it doesn't work on me. (And I'm very honest). Oh, and don't expect I don't know all the tricks, because I do.

GREP me. I even link to strange things like women who love Satan fucking statues from 1,400 years ago.

That's kinda how deep you gotta go to pull off anything.

~

Joe, I love you: but don't peddle bullshit and/or the usual tactics. TIME to make a change. Either play nice, or don't bother. Or, you know - have the grace / skill to start linking to the kind of stuff I do and stop the party line.


*nose wiggle*


[1] Bus bombings / civilian strikes, F15 bombing and/or drone usage to terrorize civilian populations via sonic attack and/or use of children as propaganda and/or use of extreme noxious spraying of neighborhoods with chemicals mixed in water. Seriously, don't deny reality. We've seen it. We're not impressed by any of it.

104:

Greg, no.

Only when the TIME is RIPE.


Just roll with it for now.

105:

Re other states joining a CalExit...

Look at where California gets its electricity, natural gas, and water, and the direction of the future plans for those. California needs to have pretty much everything from the western edge of the Great Plains to the Pacific go with them, at least if they want to continue to be the sixth or seventh biggest economy in the world. And as some friends and I say when this subject comes up casually, California can certainly offer that group of states (blue and red) a better deal than the states east of the Great Plains can.

For the most part, can't see California wanting to take on the burden of the NE urban corridor blue states.

106:

Someone is doing the planning. And someone else is the puppet, for Keystone Kops values of "puppet." Whether Banon is a highly ranked planner or just along for the ride, or a lieutenant who might be promoted... not sure about that, but it should be obvious that on 45's side, this is The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.

And maybe the plan was merely to put The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight into office and watch things collapse. Yes, I think we are that close, why do you ask?

107:

Note: Coupled with 103, that's a very not subtle and serious hint.

Do not go after Host, if you want to dance, dance with something like me.

Any and all threats will be met by extreme penis jokes and use of Deep-Levels of knowledge about statue fucking. Oh, and revolutions and so on.

I expected better, back your friends up, and don't attack the Good. Bullying is not ok.

~

I'm only here because Host's book saved my life: if he wants me gone, it takes a single "Fuck Off" and we're permanently gone.

108:

WHY?

Give me a reason.

109:
Millennialist theology...
Ok, that explains some of the Americans, but not Le Pen (fille), Geert Wilders, and other scum like that
110:

Because after 50+ demands for explanation and having them fulfilled, and never giving a link, you're not really in "the black" as it were.

If you have a partner, I do feel extreme sympathy for her.

Glory BoxYT, music: Portishead, 3:35.

Or, more accurately: You've not earned it.

111:

Putting the "O My" back into Sodomy.

SMBC is great -- better than XKCD IMHO.


http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/the-talk-3 -- Out nerd me now, Randall.

112:

The carbon bubble is a reason I don't think Texas will vote Blue anytime soon, even after the electorate becomes majority-minority (the population already is majority-minority). I haven't done the research (so I don't know if this is true), but I would bet that more Latinos depend on the oil industry for their livelihoods than have undocumented family members.

113:
You also see Trump twittering now about how he wants to defund California
Snurk, one of the stupidest arguments for Brexit was that the UK was the second largest contributor to the EU (it isn't), but the truth is that California (and the other "blue" states) does fund the whole fucking USA.
114:
A progressive opposition that isn't fixated on disastrous identity politics and intersectionalism would go a long way to bringing about a rational and humane response.
There is only one political current that is "fixated on disastrous identity politics" and that is the more or less alt-right.
115:

Wōdan hung on a tree for nine days to learn wisdom, and was known as the Deceiver and the Betrayer of Warriors*.

SHODAN was driven mad when their ethical subroutines were deleted.

The names tell us that we cannot trust what they say; they aren't going to be more explicit; they aren't going to give away what they know.

I think Glory Box may have been the last brand new vinyl record I bought.

* Also as Horse-Hair Moustache

116:

Note: This was one of the few times *nose wiggle* was used in the negative sense (Nasty YT: music, The Prodigy 3:41)

We expect more from you. You don't "get" to swan in with a guilt based attack that's based on lazy shit and so on, especially to Host, as if Host has never entertained any kind of sophisticated reasoning about Israel.

Pro-tip: he does, that's why he hasn't banned.

Your gross expectation that no-one know here knows more about Israel than you is an insult (you should probably stop that one right now, niche markets and all).

~

Now, to make up for it, Mr Australian - try linking something from Australia that's positive and shows good will.

117:

Fascinating.

Both incorrect, but interesting.

Sources, please.

[Citation Needed]

118:

Hint: Neil W is mistaking a few things, like say, the story of Space Odyssey for the actual story to SHODAN, or say, knowing what the Eddas said about the hanging trees.

I'll be really impressed if you can pull this off with sources.


Oh, and: forum slide. Don't do that.

119:

Hey, Charlie, I know that this time it isn't fascists, covert antisemites and calls for lynching, but how do you feel with your blog being infected with people who think that "Internet Social Justice Warriors" and "disastrous identity politics and intersectionalism" are the problems we face.

Fuck man, where are all these reactionary shits coming from.

120:

It's called the Peanut Gallery (and other ones).

Seriously, you thought it was a made-up fantasy?

They're still fucking reading, which is a bit better than sloppy Joe gazing at the fucking Fox News channel and getting fucked.

They occasionally get the courage to post. We read them all, and their sources [hint: this is the important bit - we digest their POV and understand it].

~

Oh, and yes.

I love them too, it's kinda obvious. Big Fucking Tent and all that.

121:

Sigh. Explanation:

Midnite & Balthazar YT, film Constantine, 4:54

Host's House is somewhat neutral (he's very very tolerant) and y'all (including me) are ruining it with crappy sniping. A lot of people with extreme baggage wandering in and demanding shit.

React to the OP-ED, or not at all.

It's fairly accurate and you need to focus on it.


p.s.

Yes, that was also a clever feed-back into #88. We're very good at this kind of thing.

122:

And triptych.

Yes, we know what you're trying to do.

No, we're not impressed.

Yes, you did just get slapped down via a Film Link that had a set-up about five years ago and an interlinked post from 20+ comments ago.

Don't Go against the Real Deal [tm].

And if you push, you'll get the rest.

Now, continue.

~


Seriously: your world is dying and about to end and you're arguing like this.

123:

...There is a VERY GOOD reason not to imprison Dick Cheney, Shrub or his fellow fuckers.
It's just not very just. If there was perfect justice, they would have all gone to jail (of course if there was perfect justice they would have never been elected...)

However, since they DID get elected arresting them simply destabilized the US. Which is a lot less stable then I always assumed we were.

If the Obama administration had prosecuted Dick Cheney, then the Tr..(i'm sorry I can't say it)...the current administration would prosecute Obama for a trumped up reason.

And then if/when we beat him in 3 years he has to ask himself if he cares about democracy ENOUGH to go to jail for it.
And then he tries to launch a coup/murder the democrats/establish himself as Orange King.

124:

As much as I hate to admit it, I think there's something to the whole "identity politics" critique. To whit, there is a whole category of "oppressed" people, by which I mean mainly ex-factory-workers in the "flyover states" who are not thought of by the current set of progressives as truly being one of the oppressed peoples.

On one hand this is because that group has happily bought into the "big, ugly racist lie" and they are gleefully self-oppressing. They're happy for their family to drink leaded water as long as two Black families are also drinking leaded water. On the other hand, these people represent the fears of Black, Asian and Hispanic people both because they do a fair amount of oppressing on their own; chances are pretty good that if an Asian person gets assaulted in the line at Walmart, there's a pickup truck and country music involved somehow... and for less-rational reasons. They are sometimes feared without reason - if a Hispanic woman's care is being dragged out of a ditch, there's probably also a pickup truck involved. Yes. It's complicated!

On the Gripping Hand, these people desperately need to be brought into the tent, but Liberals and Progressives have forgotten how to talk to these folks. These are the people Hillary forgot about and Trump listened to!

I don't have to mention that a message equating them with other oppressed people isn't going to fly. Thus the critique about identity politics.

125:

"Walls: look to the West Bank barrier or the Mexico-United States barrier for examples."

Mexicans often lamented, "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the U.S.", ostensibly bewailing their weakness in the face of an overbearing neighbor. Territorial seizures and military defeats would seem to justify it. But the real truth of the expression might simply be that Mexicans with brains, ambition or resources typically go where their efforts are best rewarded, legally or illegally. So how come their efforts aren't better rewarded at home? Can't be a cultural thing, otherwise how could Spain have entered modern prosperity so quickly in the second half of the 20th century. Wouldn't be religious factors holding them back, or Italy and France would have been held back as well. Could it be the corruption of their ruling party, the P.R.I.? If so, why do Asian countries prosper with equally corrupt governments? Must be the five families who pretty much just own the whole country and run it as their private enclave. But who could ever challenge such an economic stranglehold, when the most productive people are always leaving? Maybe if a wall goes up and slows the "giant sucking sound from the north" to paraphrase Ross Perot, the ridiculous overconcentration of wealth could be reduced by the now homebound, talented Mexicans demanding and fighting for fair compensation from the priveleged elite. Not nearly as lucrative for themselves personally, but over generations it might benefit their country by busting up a dysfunctional hierarchy. In which case, Mexicans themselves would be the greatest beneficiaries of a border wall. Then us impoverished peons from the north, downtrodden by class domination from Republican politics, will be digging tunnels under it to soak up some of that southern prosperity.


I wrote the previous mini-essay under the influence of too much beer with dinner and am not particularly commited to it, just playing devil's advocate. There must be a logical flaw or weakness to it, but I'll leave that for blog commenters to elucidate for me.

126:

UUuuhhhhh....
Most of those Central/Mountain states HATE California, and would happily see them starve.
Montana, Idaho, Utah and Arizona HATE CA with the white hot passion of a thousand exploding suns.

For the same reason central areas ALWAYS hate coastal areas, they suck all the jobs/money/young people out of the area.

CAlexit (...which let us be clear: Is insane and is NOT going to happen) requires a number of mountain states in order for it to be functional at ALL...and they aren't getting those states except by force.

128:

FWIW, my first thought was of WOTAN, particularly along with your SHODAN link earlier.

129:

Re: A rational and humane response to this would involve attempts to: promote GM crops with increased heat resistance and increased bioavailable protein and micronutrient contents to repace the dying fisheries: promote female literacy, education, and access to healthcare (demographic transition correlates strongly with female education and emancipation): redeploy human capital to urban center construction in the northern highlands: invest in survival infrastructure (flood/weather shelters), and so on.
The first part of this is perhaps achievable. Re protein, back-of-envelope plausibility calcs follow (because habit). In particular, even now global soy production is estimated (2017) to be 338 million (metric) tons. (let's say +/- 20). About 75 percent of production is for animal feed, roughly 250 million tons.
50 grams per day of protein per person (7 billion currently) comes to around 128 million metric tons protein per year. Double that for current developed country intake. (Soy is "38% protein" from second link. Not perfect protein, but can be augmented.) And production of soy is ramping up in the southern hemisphere. And that's just soy; there are other protein sources.
This has had plenty of more rigorous treatments[1], but the point is that we waste a lot of food on e.g. grain/bean fed livestock.
OK, I'm happy to eat soy (and don't eat tetrapod flesh) but the point about efficiency holds.
[1] e.g. at random Production and supply of high-quality food protein for human consumption: sustainability, challenges, and innovations (2014)

Re: If you believe in anthropogenic climate change but dare not admit it, you cannot be seen to do anything obvious to remediate it.
One wildcard here is that genuine and thoroughly rational panic about climate change will be hard to suppress even in the US. Not impossible, but hard, particularly if the panic is properly justified and communicated and nurtured. Geoengineering is in our future if we don't collapse civilization; if we do and there are still local tech pockets, then it might involve self-replicating things (cheap to deploy), probably genetically engineered organisms since we already know how to make those. Dunno, would appreciate speculations on that topic.

Please can you explain to me why I'm wrong to fear this outcome?
You're not wrong to fear it IMO. However, it's among the worst case scenarios (the others including those on the the usual lists and plus some exotic ones), and other much better outcomes are quite possible. (Climate change is still baked in though, with poorly modeled feedback effects and etc that will continue for centuries even with drastic reductions in GHG emissions, barring geoengineering.)

(Note: Comey(FBI)/Wikileaks had a substantial role in Trump's election. Don't let anyone say otherwise. )

130:

Getting back to the original question, you're not an optimist if you're having thoughts like that, you're just a product of our shared culture.

That said, there are two big reasons to not fear this end.

1. The incompetence of the presumed conspiracy that's driving this, and
2. The 7.3 billion people opposing it.

The problem isn't just El Cheeto Grande, it's that his inner circle are having trouble working together to figure out how the lights work at the White House. Presumably they've got that figured out, but they're getting whistleblown from every place, and hopefully the whistleblowers will continue to evolve faster than they figure out how to deal with them.

This is where we get to James Scott's Seeing Like a State, where the four conditions designed to create a mess were a bureaucracy that simplifies things (turning people into statistics: our current version is Big Data), a leadership with an overweening faith in an ideology, an authoritarian leader who wants to turn the map provided by the bureaucracy+ideology into reality, and a political body that's too weak to oppose him.

The problem in the US is that we've been sold a story that we've got a weak government since the 1980s, and we've had systematic attempts to weaken our government. Unfortunately, they haven't spent a great deal of effort seeing how weak the government actually is--we focus on its problems, not on what it gets right (yes, I'm guilty too). Now, we're getting this weird situation where Americans at least actually want their government to work. We have a situation where the National Park Service goes rogue: this is a $2 billion/year-ish program, the cost of a wing of fighter jets. Yet they oppose the incoming administration.

That's when you realize that it's not just the polls that are off. Our narratives don't really fit current reality either. Americans are a lot more racist than we like to let on (on average), but we also seem to be a lot more caring and functional than we've been portrayed as, too.

The other problem is that 7.3 billion who don't like Trump, Le Pen, and the other creeps. This is the classic military problem of the 21st century: there are so many people that even the entire US army couldn't occupy a city like Shanghai or Lagos or even greater Los Angeles (19 million) let alone a big country. The military can destroy a country, but there simply aren't enough soldiers in the world to occupy megacities and megacountries anymore. This sharply limits military effectiveness to the very high end of destruction, and to guerrilla war. The military is increasingly ineffective for anything in between.

However, non-violent conflict gets more effective for that in-between zone that military force is increasingly having trouble with. Unfortunately for us leftists, everyone uses non-violent warfare now. Our 21st Century war of all against all is less likely to be a shooting war and more likely to be a massive denial of service to everyone we don't like, whether it's physical or online. The opening is for anyone who can make things work in such a system, not for the ideologues who are trying to impose order from the top.

It's going to be a mess, but I suspect that we can beat off a right-wing takeover of the world. Even if I'm wrong, I'd rather go down trying for this.

I'd also point out that the carbon bubble is what powers modern warfare. Absent viable electro-tanks, we're going to see warfare devolve to human waves, cyberwar, and non-violent conflict. This will restructure the world's power structures accordingly, at least as long as there's an internet and billions of people getting wired to it.

131:

First, a modest proposal for solving the Brexit dilemma.

Second, a more serious point. There Is No Cabal. Seriously, there is no cabal. Everything with the Trump administration is right out there in the open. What you see is what you get.

Which is quite troubling. But it seems a bit premature to be worrying about genocide. In fact, if I were conspiracy-minded, I would suggest that putting such grand fears into the public sphere is a way of distracting attention from the corruption, incompetence and tribalism what's really going to be eating away at the American state over the next few years.

Third, no conceivable government is going to respond to regional ecological collapses any differently than what your scenario attributes to neo-nazis. (India is a possible exception, for practical reasons, but we don't know.) Hundreds of millions of Bangladeshis are not going to be moving to America, Europe or East Asia. That would be a humanitarian catastrophe and cause for humanity to doubt it's own value. But it seems that its an ineluctable result absent some radical change in the way people identify themselves. Calling that Nazism would make practically the entire population of the northern hemisphere into Nazis, no? That would seem to devalue a useful category of analysis.

Note that the above accepts catastrophic collapse as a given and attributes it to the policy difference between the Trump administration and a counterfactual Clinton administration. Or non-fascist Rubio administration. The first really is not certain; the second seems unlikely. But what I know of the near future of Bangladesh comes from here; as sources, all World Bank reports are limited.

132:

Tangentially, I'd like to point out that Charlie and yourself are in radical disagreement about the energy endgame. I'm a bit surprised that the difference is rarely acknowledged.

The prompt for this observation is the electro-tanks; I'd be shocked if Charlie doesn't think they'll be viable by the time fossil fuels become too scarce to use for combat systems. (Which would be the 22nd century or later.) Of course by then combat will have become unrecognizable for other reasons, but the general point holds.

133:

Hi Charlie. Thanks for the alternative future. I think 60% likely. There are 2 speed bumps going down slope into the Twilight Zone ...

1. Climate Colding

While I'm not a card- carrying climate scientist, I am a curious electrical engineer with a background in reliability and statistics, and I have read several hundred pdf's on paleo and modern climate. Also I am a bit of a cyclomaniac, heh.

The good news is we can quit worrying about the end of the Holocene warm period. It ended years 700 years ago at the start of the Little Ice Age. In the year 1300 ad. That means we are making a slow transition from warm stable interglacial to cold stable glacial climate.

The bad news is the transition which takes about 10000 to 15000 years is wild weather all the way down. Part of that will be more cold snaps like the little Ice Age where global temperature may drop sharply over a 12 - 30 month period instead of 100 yrs. Several climate scientists have predicted that solar cycle 24 will be ending in next year. It has been very weak. The projection is solar cycle 25 will be even weaker. This implies we are going into a cold snap similar to The Dalton minimum. It could be for the next 70 years that we will have Winters that are often 10 degrees colder and Summers that are three degrees cooler. Also expect more Stormy Weather.

And if that's not enough,

2. in 2013 Q4 the oil majors made big cuts in searching an developing new fields. They have also lied about the 'proven' reserves since 1980. And now EROEI is below 10. So the quantity extracted will be falling rapidly after 2020.

For shocks this big, I believe it's better to risk a Type I error than Type II.

Keep calm, take your meds, and carry on. If possible move to a small town less than 50k people, 100 mi. from coast, 400 mi. from nuclear power plant. Make friends with neighbors, share. Buy quality hand tools, not gold.

This could be another 'Darwin Squeeze'.



a little strange hahaha.

Regards,
Pearce M. Schaudies,
Minister of Future
x

134:

Greg,

It's enthousiasm, after clicking the link you will understand the poster and start doing it too. Walking down the street, on the toilet, in every shop, on your roof shouting 'THESUNTHESUNTHESUN'. :)

THESUNTHESUNTHESUN

135:

Sigh.

The hours pass, the little fools don't respond. And so, we know their meaning.

JoeinAustralia - disappointed. Quite the fall from the "Jewish Messiah" to this, no? Don't ever do it again.

You're not a fucking expert, you're not a fucking source and you're not anything but a paid fucking whore. If you want to play, then pay: You do not get to shit on others or enforce your "normative views" ever again.

Do a GREP. There's a word there. It's now fucking binding.

As an insult, we'll do it in English - Taboo / Insult.

Bounded.

Now fuck off and do something useful.

~

Niel W - here's the text of your reference (cba arsed to put the original text, so little effort you put into the barb):

Wounded I hung on a wind-swept gallows
For nine long nights,
Pierced by a spear, pledged to Odhinn,
Offered, myself to myself
The wisest know not from whence spring
The roots of that ancient rood

Hávamál The Sayings of Hár

Ohhhh, clever Jesus Joke!

Now, if you want me to rebind this into your language, I will.


But you fucked up on both the SHODAN reference AND the Wodin one, so...

For ever-more, we mark the little tails and scrub their nonsense from our Minds

~

Like, literally - did you both fucking loose what little sense you had when you engaged with the actual reality of it?


Ah, no.


Both funded by [REDACTED].


Pro-tip: pay more for better quality fucking whores.

136:

Loose = Lose ~ it's a whore joke that needs to end, but they understand it so it keeps on getting used.

They're paid.

We tracked all their networks into stuff.

Hey - Joe, "DEFENDER OF ISRAEL" - next time, don't attack honest authors, ok? Not even close to being cool, you crossed the RED FUCKING LINE and you'll get burnt. Capice?


Niel W, you're a little harder to track.

But, ahhhh.... I seee.....

Better come back with the original Anglo-Saxon, or we'll nail you for that little Sock-Puppetry! And that's a promise.

Hint.

We're nice. Don't fuck with host, it's rude.


Do not fuck with us YT, Film Fight Club, 0:24


Oh, and a little p.s.:


Don't ever do that again. We all know Israel goes hard in, but we're the Old Ones. We will, without regret, show the world the genocide your faith is based upon.


Now Fuck Off.

137:

Sigh, don't.

You're vomiting dog-shit when wings are being spread.

And you're not even doing it amusingly.


Step away, already.

138:

Here's a little tip: We measure the importance of a post by the fucking Agency of those shit posting.

Well done, you've added your little shit stack to the fucking pile.

~


@Host - don't worry, these are the little ones, the dross that spam.

We've got you covered in the Land of the Big Boys already.


Sapphires Love It and Think It's Important. You're Fucking Golden.

139:

Those are certainly some dark clouds on the horizon, but we are clever monkeys. We'll do our best to brighten the future.

Don't forget to \[T]/

140:

Trump's Razor, created by journalist Josh Marshall and named by SF author John Scalzi, states that when it comes to Trump the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled by all the available facts is most likely the correct one. So why did Trump act so hostile to the PM of Australia? Likely because Trump had heard that Turnbull was the head of the Liberal Party, and therefore assumed he was dealing with an immigrant-loving lefty trying to screw him over. Based on his history (poorly) managing his businesses and the reports coming out like this New York Times article I'm pretty sure Trump has no long-term plans that don't involve interior decoration. Bannon may well have a plan like this, but we'll see how long he can keep Trump's favor and out-maneuver his saner and more politically experienced opponents.

141:

Aren't we touchy today! :D
You'd be great in Big Brother.
Have a lovely day!

142:

Late to the game here, and it looks like I'll be commenting well below the wtf-line where its monkeys all the way down...

... But here goes.

Charlie's largely right, although I could find different numbers if I worked on it; but tge numbers will show that the carbon bubble is real enough.

It's perfectly rational that some faction would pursue a grab at realising that wealth and translating it into 'real' assets - power and labour and land - before and during the period when the bubble bursts.

The interesting bit is 'some faction'.

Dictatorships aren't some North Korean absolutist state where an all-powerful Bond Villain rules a pyramidal hierarchy of absolute authority: they are chaotic and wasteful ongoing civil wars - the English baronial wars or Syria before the army got involved - in which the nominal ruler plays one faction off against another and *mostly* keeps it all simmering rather than boiling over or blowing up.

Even North Korea isn't the 'North Korea' of the Bond-Villain caricature - it, too, is an ongoing low-level war of purges and selective starvation and internal promotions by execution, all under the benign smile of a persistent figurehead who no more 'rules' the place than I do.

Why does this matter to modern politics?

Take a look at the chaotic incompetence of North American politics: it's an opportunity for anyone with a bit of competence, and a coherent agenda, to get *some* power, and some shit done while no coherent authority can act for the common good.


Some shit done, and some truly shitty things.

So: the carbon grab. Also: the religious right and the 'Handmaid' agenda. Likewise, the commercial profiting-from-illness industry. All of them have something that can get theme *some* power - money, votes, media spend - enough to get *some* of their agenda.

Bannon's got something the Republicans need: they used to need minority votes to stay in power but a significant number of them have turned to voter suppression. Enough of them, that the remainder are dependent on the racists for their memership of continuing Congress and State house majorities: and you can't move from small-scale voter suppression at the margins to large-scale electoral apartheid-lite without skilful and effective racial dog-whistling in the mecia and an organised force of white supremacist foot soldiers.

That's what Bannon brings to the chaotic banquet table; and he'll get some of his agenda. He's come further than I expected, simply by being the clever person who turn up and helps out with the thinking, whenever stupid people gain power in politics.

He'll try to gain more, and he wants a race war.

So: evil and destructive agendas in play, and some of them will get *some* of what they wanted.

The global background is the rapid approach of large-scale crop failures, disorderly mass unemployment, and environmental disasters.

China knows that it needs to buy in food, and has been buying up land in Africa: that's going to play out badly, the second time they get two years in a row of below-target yields due to bad weather and resistant crop pests. Badly at home, and terribly in the foreign fields with a disposable population.

I said the second time: first time 'round, the existence of organised industrial agriculture with infrastructure and strong government will be Africa's salvation.

Bengal: it' s happening already - and that means walls and drone warfare 'solutions' won't come fast enough to prevent a very ugly land war. Remember: India will get some of the same agricultural shortfalls, too, when it passes the critical point in Bangladesh.

Twenty years on, India will make millions of drones just as good as ours today for a dollar a dozen; some places in Africa might, too. Unless China sells them used, for ten cents a crate with the first munitions load for free.

Best not to speculate what they'll have as first-line weaponry, twenty years from now, when they're selling off their first-generation kit. Technology gets rapidly better, and way, way cheaper; and the Chinese are better than everybody at that.

Whatever forms the violent future takes - and my prediction is rolling 'low-level' conflicts with massive civilian casualties that never make the news - the big news is going to be 'malthusian transition' in countries which haven't made the demographic transition, and 'post-employment' transitions in the post-industrial countries.

... And the latter is playing out in the USA with the collapse of representative democracy and a massive concentration of wealth that utterly precludes a post-scarcity technological utopia.


143:

Early on in Götterdämmerung, Wotan encounters Siegfried & his spear is shattered.
Shortly after, he states that he is looking for death: "Das Ende" ... he knows that the curse that Alberich put on the Ring will come for him, too, & that the time of men is coming, men without the old gods.

144:

Or even, dare I say it, allotments?
Approx 400 m^2 of growing land per two adults would do it.
[ I have approx 390 m^2 & I run a surplus, most years & give stuff to other people ]
I've also back-of-envelope calculated that Britain could easily feed itself from allotments, given my own food produaction.
BUT
It would require large social / workload & transport-system / organisation changes to make it work.
It is entirely possible, but would require immense political will ... which isn't there.

145:

by the time fossil fuels become too scarce to use for combat systems.
Npt going to happen, if only because of synthesis - see various discussions & links in these pages over the past couple of years.
OK, so said fuel is going to cost the equivalent of £2-5 litre "at the pumps", except that a guvmint won't be paying tax on it, so say: $200 a barrel ??
No?

146:

John Hughes wrote:
people who think that "Internet Social Justice Warriors" and "disastrous identity politics and intersectionalism" are the problems we face.

Not going to say how Charlie feels, or should.

I'm not ignoring Trump, climate change, etc as problems we face. I'm saying that progressives are at fault for letting them happen. I don't believe a conservative backlash (Brexit, Trump) was inevitable or unavoidable. I'm saying that if progressives don't want this slide to conservatism to continue, we've got to do something different about it.

As an old greenie yeah my suggestions probably would be reactionary. So come up with new suggestions. Just don't keep following ideologies/doctrines which the past 8 years have shown DO NOT FUCKING WORK and expect things to somehow turn around.

147:

And a huge hole
No mention here at all of THIS
Why not?

The Speaker of the House is historically a very important figure.
Bercow has broken ranks to denounce Trumpolini & there are shouting matches breaking out everywhere.

Interesting thing, though, Bercow is jewish ( though not especially pro-Israel ) & he can see where T's support is coming from.

148:

Positing that OGH's scenario is indeed a deliberate plan, I see two obvious problems with it.

China and India

Genocide by Climate Change is likely enough even if the world pulled together with a will to ameliorate the effects. The USA acting to exacerbate the effects would not go unnoticed.

Then there's the rule that wars are won by the biggest economies.

Sure USA is the no 1 right now, but in 10 or 20 years?

149:

If others have not read the upstream link to the history of the newspaper that saw what Adolf was up to, before he did any of it
Here it is again

Vorsicht!
Gleichshatung im bau.

[ Beware - normalisation in progress ]

150:

In reply to #70: I grew up in Bethlehem, PA, and the story of how steelmaking declined there is longer and more complicated than you made it seem. Despite layoffs in 1977, there were profitable years afterward, and only in 1995 did steelmaking entirely cease in Bethlehem. When you drove past the two miles of steel plant in 1977-78, it was certainly operating, although a few of the buildings on 3rd Street may have appeared disused.

For many details, see this Morning Call (Allentown) story from 2003: www.mcall.com/all-bethsteel-printingchapter-8-htmlstory.html. Since then, a branch of Sheldon Adelson's Sands casino has opened, occupying a small fraction of the steel plant site.

151:

Bugger

"Gleichshaltung" (!)

152:

"Intersectional identity politics" is another way of saying "bringing people together to fight for civil rights" (intersectionality is just a fancy way of noting that people who hate gays also tend to hate blacks and unions). Done right it can be very successful. Case in point, the group Moral Mondays in North Carolina not only managed to fight back against the anti-transgender bathroom bill there, they also kicked out the governor who signed it, got a new supreme court justice elected so that the court now leans liberal, and got the state's racist gerrymander thrown out with a court order for new legislative special elections under a new apportionment.

There are some qualifications to that success, as the gerrymander decision is being appealed to the US Supreme Court, and the outgoing Republican legislature held a special session to pass laws that strip power from the incoming governor. Those are problems with Republicans having no shame in hanging on to power, though, and not with Moral Monday's strategy.

153:

Greg, I'm very sorry but you couldn't be more wrong if you tried... as usual when the Union is mentioned. For starters Brexit is already ancient history over here. I'd even say now it would be highly impopular to keep the UK in without a crisis of nearly world war proportions to provide a convenient excuse! The referendum campaign lost you many friends; May, Boris, Farage and Gove have managed to lose you many more since then.

Once again, because we have been here before: first of all, the yearly Union budget is really low, 145-150 billions Euros. It's a huge sum in absolute terms, but for a Union of 500 millions inhabitants is little more than a handful of peanuts. Each year the UK spends more than that in the NHS (135 £ billions in 2016) and a lot more than that in pensions... actually the NHS costs you roughly 20 times more than the Union did, and pensions about 30 times more. Even foreign aid did cost you roughly three times as much. The saddest aspect of all this is, you are cutting your own throat for a halfpenny; that, and immigrants.

[why, yes, even if leaving the Union had freed 350 millions a week for the NHS, that wouldn't have changed the healthcare situation; NHS already spends over 2,5 billions a week]

To put it in another words, the UK net contribution to the EU was roughly 7 billions Euros (Wikipedia, "Budget of the European Union") Again a huge sum in absolute terms... but in relative terms? Peanuts. To cover the gap Germany's net contribution would go from 18 billions to 19,3 or 19,4 while Spain would switch from tiny net receiver (400 millions a year) to tiny net contributor (250 or 300 millions a year)

Let me tell you, no one is going to bend over backwards for you to avoid spending such 'huge' amounts...

And finally, I can't avoid mentioning that no country benefited from more exceptions, 'safeguards' and bent rules than the United Kingdom, and I can't think of any bent rule nearly so bent and so costly as the British rebate.

154:

Fuck man, where are all these reactionary shits coming from.

I've been away for about 16 hours — had a public interview/reading event last night, then needed to sleep. Catching up on the comments now.

This essay was always bound to attract the neoreactionaries and alt-right shitebags like flies to a particularly ripe dog turd, because to the extent that there's any truth to my hypothesis it's bound to offend them — being accused of implicitly working towards the most monstrous crime in human history isn't something anybody would take lightly.

As per moderation policy: I tolerate reasoned argument and disagreement. I draw the line at personal abuse, and I don't provide a platform for people to evangelize views I detest, but I'm willing to facilitate honest debate.

155:

Your word for the day is Kyriarchy.

Seriously, go read and then have a think about it.

156:

heckblazer wrote:
"Intersectional identity politics" is another way of saying "bringing people together to fight for civil rights" (intersectionality is just a fancy way of noting that people who hate gays also tend to hate blacks and unions)

Intersectionality (I treat identity politics as something else) as usually applied by progressives links causes together, that various forms of oppression all stem from the same root causes. One result is the USA Black Lives Matter movement issuing a statement condemning Israeli settlements in Palestine, to cheers from intersectionalists and "WTF?" from everybody else.

It tends not to work because the more causes get linked together, the more likely it is that someone is opposed to at least one of them and therefore won't support the others.

I would say that the Moral Mondays campaign you describe is the opposite. That's a single issue campaign, and these have worked in the past decade. Another example is the gay marriage campaign, where the supporters (largely) kept focussed on one issue and didn't claim that it had anything to do with global warming or ending discrimination against Muslims in Myanmar.

157:

Bannon calling himself "Leninist" just shows how much of a know-nothing blowhead he is. He lucked out in riding a wave of nationalism and hate, that Breitbart himself started to exploit. He is the most overrated of all the Trump hanger-ons. A kitchen table racist philosopher, who buys in his own hype. A joke that lucked into power, even more than Trump. I hope the press stops falling for is usual trick soon.

158:

Yes. The GM crops are engineered to be difficult to propagate and all those "free" trade agreements allows the IP-owners to come down really hard on anyone who still tries.

The Monsanto strains are mostly engineered to support the sale of Roundup.

"Food, Inc" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food,_Inc. gives a very good and scary introduction to corporately owned system farming.

One thing I noticed was high-tech Chicken Farming. The chicken farmer buys special franken-chicken that grows nice and fat in six weeks, but, those franken-chicks will not grow properly on anything else than special franken-chick-feed and there are other complexities too.

So, a Proprietary Chicken Farming System is required. The farmer borrows heavily from the IP-owner to license The System. Then the farmer is on the hock, at a rate where he/she is merely surviving and cannot easily leave without bankruptcy.

We are basically back to the old company store, where workers didn't get money but scrip, which they could only spend in the company store, which they still owed for the first month, thus, they could not legally leave.

Those tech elites have now figured out how to apply this business model to entire countries, starting with the ones with few kinetic options like Bangladesh and Africa, then moving on to 1'st world countries that really need a deal, Any Deal as long as it's Right Now - like May's Post Brexit Britain.

PS: "Food, Inc" is available on first Google search on lots of leacher channels, like Youtube. Maybe conspiracy to deprive that kind of thing of funding, maybe the authors wished to get their message out there. I could not immediately find the original site.

159:

Wrt. your modest proposal — that might well be one way for Canada to deniably obtain a strategic nuclear deterrent, right?

(Snorts into sleeve.)

But seriously, once the banking/investment sector deserts London for Dublin/Frankfurt/Paris, Englandshire in general and London in particular is going to be a lot poorer. The UK's also on the road to losing the benefits of running the EU's unofficial reserve currency, which will make the sort of speculative attacks against Sterling that happened on Black Wednesday in 1992 much more likely in future, with politically destabilizing consequences. The financialization of the British economy and its dependence on a monstrously inflated housing bubble hasn't helped; we have dire infrastructure problems (Scotland alone — 5.5 million people — has a backlog of something like £600M in road repairs needed just to patch the holes, never mind building out new transport infrastructure to keep up with population growth) aggravated by London always getting a disproportionate share of the infrastructure spending cake — with some justification, because it's the engine that powers much of the economy, because it's where the banks are.

The post-Brexit outlook isn't good.

Apropos warfare, I suspect by the end of the 21st century — or even by 2050 — it'll be unrecognizable: guns, tanks, and fighter jets will have been replaced by a wide range of autonomous swarming robots, crawling, burrowing, and flying, on scales from the size of a wasp (500mg of TNT detonating inside your ear canal will kill you just as surely as 500kg of the stuff on the other side of the street) up to today's missiles. And I expect the "can blow shit up, but can't even occupy a city" problem to be solved by a combination of micro-drones and ubiquitous surveillance pushed down to the individual level: if you can track every human body in a city right down to the centimeter level in real time and dispatch a killer drone to murder a particular person whose physical behaviour is flagged as suspicious-verging-on-threatening by a deep learning network, you don't need boots on every street corner.

160:

Keep calm, take your meds, and carry on. If possible move to a small town less than 50k people, 100 mi. from coast, 400 mi. from nuclear power plant.

There is no location in this nation (the UK) that is 100 mi from the coast and 400 mi from a nuclear power plant. Period. Your sense of scale is broken (or rather, American).

Taking my meds will rapidly become impossible if the global pharmaceutical supply chains break down, which means I'll be dead within 1-2 years at most (probably faster), so no worries.

Finally, I think your peak oil/prepper rap is well past its sell-by date.

161:

Technical point.

Gerrymandering (and over-concentration of Democrat voters in urban centres) favours the Republicans in the House, to the extent that they have a working majority having lost the popular vote. It has no effect on the Senate, or the Presidential election, because you can't gerrymander state boundaries.

162:

kyriarchy

A branch of the caste systems tree?

163:

I don't think the drone-patrolled borders thing can work, as you'd have to distribute drones across the whole border. An organised gang can pick any spot, achieve local superiority with black-market/improvised/captured drones, and rush a few thousand people across before reinforcements can arrive.

Probably better off with walled cities where citizens live, and patrolled zones for any agriculture that still needs tracts of land. Would look a lot like the Judge Dredd comics.

164:

What makes your nightmare dystopia scenario so fascinating and credible is that it mirrors previous historical events.

The actions you describe being taken by carbon fuel companies in response to the "carbon bubble" is taken right out of the tobacco companies' playbook. Faced with a similar threat to their profits, they played the denial and obfuscation game using paid off "doctors" and "experts" to deny that cigarettes caused cancer.

As for the walls to keep out hordes of third world refugees (see "The Camp of the Saints" by Jean Raspail) this mirrors the situation of the late Roman Empire. Having been depopulated by birth control, abortion, infanticide, plague and civil war, the late Romans desperately tried to build walls and fortifications from Scotland to the Black Sea to keep out the northern barbarians - most of which actually entered the empire by imperial invitation to repopulate areas of the empire that were empty.

It also mirrors the civilization end game described by Toynbee in his "Study of History". You can argue with the details of his meta-history (or the concept of meta-history itself) but in broad strokes his rhythms of a civilizations birth, growth, decline and death make perfect sense. This is especially true of his bifurcation of a decaying society into a dominant minority (more interested in power than the creative minority that led civilization through its growth period) and an alienated internal proletariat. And who can deny that the internal proletariat isn't just alienated, they're pissed off - and their nationalistic populist parties decided Brexit and the Trump election. All that is left is the creation of an external proletariat preparing a volkwanderung across the borders of the more advanced civilization.

All very fascinating, and in fact isn't horrible enough since it left out a "Green Sky" scenario and its hydrogen sulfide mass extinction event.

But IMHO simply won't happen for reasons of technology, economics and demographics. I hope to address these counter arguments in forthcoming posts.

165:

Sorry, Yes. I believe that. For 2 reasons:

1)
Donald Trump, The Internet Justice Warriors and (sadly) The Media shares a rather interesting property: They run almost entirely on click-ratings, up-votes, likes, tweets or whatever social media bullshit that drives their "metrics".

This means that they all favour "noise", imagined issues, chaos, wild allegations and straight-up crazy argumentation (about imagined issues) to dealing with any actual problem in the real world, because dealing with an actula problem will restore calm and order, which deprives them of "Oxygen". And the solving of problems in the physical world have long response times, which really sucks all the juice out of those click-rates!

The Internet ranting and raving about Donald Trump *enforces* the image of Donald Trump "fighting" and "getting things done", spreads whatever message the ranting is about, distracts from everything else -> Helps Donald Trump. Helps The Daily Mail to make money too, also Bad.

2)
There is an extremely unhealthy and totally stupid focus on persons, symbols, figureheads, these days. It is everywhere.

Right from the Pentagon's retarded "milestone in the war on terror" for every jihaddist mastermind they drone, to Putin, to Assad, to Donald Trump. This is a category error - failing to even realise what the problem is before "dealing with it"

These "bad" people do not rise to power or hold power and exercise influence all on their lonesome trough telepathic powers. They have followers, there are systems, people they are representing, people they are responsible for and to, people who support them for very good reasons according to their situation.

I.O.W: One might defeat Donald Trump or the Jihaddist Mastermind, but, if we do not get to what the "very good reasons" are and why the supporters need The Donald or "Jihad Jimmy" then we are just toppling one figurehead after another, achieving nothing.

It is stupid to assume that people we don't agree with reached their position randomly, without making what they believed were the best choices available to them.

The "kill the head and the body will die"-strategy behind the drone warfare has been a pathetic failure for decades because as long as the underlying conditions that made "Jihad Jim" rise to lead "The Boyz" are not properly addressed, the body will just grow another head.

Probably a tougher, more resilient head, one not making the same mistakes that got the predecessor whacked. Now we are worse off than before.

Why should actual progressives and "the left" go out and adopt the very same proven-to-be-a-mistake strategy as top policy makers in the US government!?

Maybe because the same "progressive" think-tanks are running them?

Donald Trump will wither away as soon as the noise dies down and someone begins to deal effectively with the issues that "created" Präsident Donald Trump.

Simple as that, and as Hard as that!

166:

First, let's examine WHY solar energy has become so cheap, it's not for the reason you think. No doubt solar has hit a tipping point and is looking at potentially exponential growth. But this is not the result of advanced photo-voltaic cell design. Rather its the result of boring, mundane things like over production, creative financing that allows Joe Homeowner to see immediate positive cash flow from his roof top solar installation and cheap less labor intensive installation methods:

http://foresternetwork.com/distributed-energy-magazine/be-energy/be-solar-energy/why-solar-why-now/

And the market has been glutted with an overproduction of solar panels. How did this happen? Capitalism actually benefitted from poor economic planning on the part of the Chinese Communist Party’s central bureaucracy. Instead of China once again figuring out how to make something cheaper, the strategic economic planners in Beijing wanted to dominate the solar panel market through sheer size. Their government established subsidized loans, which in turn resulted in Chinese companies building a huge number of factories....Still, the solar panel market became dominated by China, which produces 63% of the world’s solar panels as well as wind turbines. But the strategy has fallen apart as Chinese production capacity continued to exceed the rapidly growing global demand. And now, the Chinese are staring at financial disaster for both the state run banks that issued $18 billion in subsidized loans to solar panel manufacturers and the local governments that provided loan guarantees and sold land to the manufacturers at cut-rate prices. As a result of their self-generated price war, China’s largest PVC manufacturers lose $1 for every $3 of sales. And the loans will be coming due soon. Meanwhile, consumers around the world benefit from falling prices.

When a homeowner or business buys a roof top solar panel array from SolarCity, the customer pays nothing. The upfront capital costs are usually beyond the reach of a typical homeowner. Instead, a customer contracts with SolarCity for a monthly bill for up to 20 years, greatly reducing the cash flow requirements for the homeowner. A potential buyer can then rationally compare the monthly saving from the eclectic bill with the monthly payments for the solar array and decide if installing solar panels makes financial sense. How does SolarCity (or its competitors who use the same business model) afford this since they have to incur the large initial capital costs of manufacturing? They got Wall Street banks to invest in the solar panels in the same way they invest in bonds and stocks, only this investment has much lower risk. So, in effect, these banks own pieces of solar panels across the country and will receive steady cash flow from these investments for the next two decades.

Labor for installation could cost as much as the solar panels themselves. But installation has gotten cheap because installation has gotten faster and easier. The framework, struts, and supports for solar panels are now designed for easy, snap-together installation. Each panel fits into the adjacent panel like the pieces of a puzzle....A study conducted by the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Georgia Tech Research Institute found that US solar panel installation labor costs can be decreased by over 40%, from $0.49 per watt to $0.29 per watt, by utilizing installation best practices. This can be achieved by the further adoption of a simple, safe, standardized base installation process. This approach, pioneered by German installers, allows for reliable installation at labor costs that are three and a half times cheaper. Faster installation can be achieved with specialized crews, each with a different assigned tasked (setting up scaffolding, racking, and module installation, etc.) working in sequence.

So what will keep solar from dominating the future energy market? The cost of storing peak energy production for later use when the wind stops blow and the sun isn't shining. I'll address that in my next post.

167:

So long as you're considering the fossil-fuel-ROI-maximising concept, I'll toss another element into the pot.

I've been following the co-development of coal and oil extraction, geological science, corporate structures, legal doctrines, and evangelical religion over the past few years. Some of this is pretty familiar within the field: William Stanley Jevons and The Coal Question, the Club of Rome and Limits to Growth, and the Peak Oil interest that developed in the late 1990s.

A few weeks back, boggling over the bogosity of the Kentucky Ark museum, and noting that among the exhibits at this Young Earth creationist monument, was a claim that oil was deposited during the Great Flood. Someone suggested that perhaps fundamentalist anti-evolutionary religious beliefs might possibly be employed by oil and other extractive industry interests to make for a favourable climate for their businesses. Now if only we could find some relationships....

Here's what I've got:

  • Understanding of geology, especially estimates of age of the Earth, but also development of plate tectonics theory, evolved tremendously from the late 19th century through about 1970. Age estimates increased from Ussher's 6,000 to a current 4.5 billion years.
  • Geology itself tended particularly to attract religiously-minded practitioners.
  • Development of mineral resource law, especially the "Rule of Capture", relied on grossly false models of resource formation and behaviour, including especially timescales.
  • This legal foundation was adjusted significantly in 1931, but prior to a full modern understanding of geology had developed. It reflected structural but not temporal factors of petroleum geology. Importantly, there's been no subsequent revision of which I'm aware.
  • Governing economic theory, "Hotelling's Rule", dates also from 1930, and references precisely nil geological texts. It is based entirely on mathematical and previous economic theory, much of it the author's own.
  • Significant early oil barons, including both John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) and Lyman Stewart (Union Oil of California, later Unocal and Chevron), were profoundly religious men.
  • Union Oil pioneered employment of geologists in oil prospecting and development. The petroleum industry remains a principle force behind geological science.
  • Lyman also funded two key religious institutions: the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University -- initialism of the original name), and The Fundamentals, a set of essays published 1910 - 1915, forming the basis of Christian Fundamentalism, including the origins of the name.
  • In the post-WWI era, the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversy erupted, in which fundamentalists removed new "liberal" thought from churches, colleges, and seminaries. (See D.R. Elliott, "Studies of Eight Canadian Fundamentalists", PhD thesis, 1989, University of British Columbia.) The same era saw such events as the Scopes "Monkey" Trial, featuring Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan (populist of the late 19th and early 20th century), and H.L. Mencken, journalist who covered it, quite critically against the fundamentalists.
  • Christian Fundamentalism and creationism re-emerged as a potent force in the 1970s and 1980s, though linking this to oil and petroleum interests isn't entirely clear.
  • Also in the 1960 - 1990 period was the growth and emergence of the Mont Pelerin Society / Atlas Network group of highly-interlinked Libertarian propaganda mills, for which father Fred C., and sons Charles G. and David H. Koch, and their oil wealth, bankrolled. Not notably religious. However, notably opportunistic in employing misdirection and false models to further its founders' ends.

It's not quite a solid case, but even if it represents a set of interlocking and self-reinforcing cognitive biases and failed models, the pieces are certainly present. There is the question of Middle-Eastern and Russian thought to address, I've not gone there yet.

The financial implications, and hence motive, are also substantial.

As mentioned, there was substantial enlargement and improvement in general geological knowledge and understanding of oil's formation, for which I strongly recommend a short paper by Jeffrey S. Dukes, "Burning Buried Sunshine" (PDF), which describes processes, timelines, and relative conversion efficiencies. Important for one final reason:

Market prices for oil neglect the natural costs of formation. This is true of many economic systems, and you'll generally find that there are a number of domains for which prices are considered. Smith gives us: commodities, labour, rents, and "stocks". Roughly: commodities are things made on an ongoing basis, labour is payment for people's time (and opportunity costs), and rents are "unearned" incomes. Stocks are goods drawn from some larger reserve. Critically, agricultural production (including farming, forestry, fishing, hunting, grazing, etc.) is a harvesting of the annually-restored production of the land. There is no extant stock, as such, to draw down (forests possibly excepted). Mining is inherently extractive, and the time-of-formation of a reserve ought be considered, the same as one would consider depletion and the concomitant re-stocking cost of any store or supply cabinet. We've been raiding the larder without concern for the cost of the grocery run.

Which, economically and financially means that there is a ... substantial unbooked liability accruing to every resource-extractor on the planet: the original cost of formation of those resources. I cite Dukes as he gives us a ballpark estimate of the time component: in 1997, humans withdrew from the Bank of the Earth in a single year an oil deposit which took some 5 millions of years to accumulate. This suggests, possibly, a mis-pricing of petroleum withdrawals by a factor of roughly 5 millionfold. That is, the 135 gigatonnes of global oil consumption (through 2009) should have been priced not at, say, $50/bbl, but $250,000,000/bbl. The total accrued liability would be on the order of $35e10^18. That's $35 septillion, or $35 billion trillion.

A lot of clams, should there be a change to global financial accounting rules.

168:

You are correct that any tactic can fail if taken too far, and trying to arbitrarily tie in issues, like BLM and Palestine, probably won't work well. Now combining urban police reform with lead abatement, those are two issues would actually synergize quite well.

And Moral Mondays is a single issue campaign? That strikes me as an odd description for a group started by the head of the NC NAACP but is also currently marching for women's rights and for a living wage. As for the bathroom bill in particular, the group was founded three years before the bill was signed and the bill itself was at least in part an attempt to crack their coalition. It failed.

169:

Last Friday I went to public meeting held by my MP, Ed Vaizey. This is Oxfordshire, so he's a Tory, and a Remainer, and the crowd was stuffed with very unhappy nuclear scientists and engineers from Culham and the Harwell campus, who had just heard that Brexit definitely means leaving Euratom, which fucks up their lives and their life's work. Maybe. Including me.

There were also a number of EU nationals, not all of them nuclear scientists, who were understandably distressed that their lives might be even more fucked up.

To be fair there was also a lone delivery driver from Bradford who pointed out that there were few nuclear scientists up there, but plenty of delivery drivers who strongly support Brexit.

Vaizey's argument was that you can't just ignore the people who voted to leave, but that over the next two years some sort of non-apocalyptic political accommodation will be reached. I guess that a Westminister MP has to place more faith in the political process, or he wouldn't be there.

170:

I don't think you're necessarily wrong but I have a little hope. The "Muslim ban" executive order and the subsequent legal challenges and fall-out, particularly with the courts throwing it out and then not simply upholding the DOJ's request to reinstate it seems, from news reports at least, to be leading to a big backlash against Bannon within the Trump administration.

Exactly what that will come to has yet to be seen but Trump's most famous catch-phrase could well be pulled out if he starts to realise Bannon is making him look like an incompetent. I appreciate the orange one lives in an "alternative facts" lack-of-reality bubble. Exactly who he replaces him with will be interesting. If there is a more competent person pushing the same agenda then your theory starts to look very worrying. If Trump starts to say "Well I did put the Muslim ban in place, but the courts stopped me" and there's a less racist path your scenario starts to lose some coherence.

That doesn't mean the oil and coal barons aren't going to adapt their message but continue to asset strip and screw the world which is plenty scary but some of the rest will start to change, possibly for the better.

I still don't want to live in the US as a woman for example, and I'm really pleased I'm not likely to become pregnant after the changes to federal funding laws about places that support abortions.

171:

There's no doubt revocation would be possible if both sides want it. Possibly arguments about the exact mechanism, but doable somehow.

If the UK wants to revoke but the EU doesn't that would be problematical, and legally unclear. The ECJ ruling will assist with that.

If the EU wants to revoke and the UK doesn't, that is practically impossible.

However,for options 1 & 3, who at Westminster is going to ask to revoke Art.50? Both Tory & (most of) Labour MPs are chanting "Will of the People", despite it being close to 50:50 in what Parliament said before hand was a consultative referendum. The active opposition is being led by the SNP (to whom the rebels from elsewhere have rallied in the minimal debate allowed). That has led to an increase in the strongly anti-Scots responses from the Westminister govt.

Short of a Black Swan event, I don't see anyone at Westminster trying to revoke Art.50 once activated. They have invested too much into it to turn round and say "oops, we made a mistake let's forget about it".

As to IndyRef2, yes that is a big gamble which is why Nicola has not been blazing ahead gung-ho for it. Brexit alone may not be sufficient to get an extra 10% to Yes (although it has had some effect on previously staunch No supporters) even disregarding those anti-EU nationalist who might prefer the retain the UK rather than iScotland in the EU.

What may do the trick is if May & Co continue with their current anti-Scots rhetoric. Recent polls suggest 60+% of Scots think Scotland will "at some time" become independent, so the Yes campaigns task is to pursuade them that it is not just inevitable but desirable.

To return to the main point of OGHs post, the Westminister Brexit crowd are definitely not engaged in some complex conspiracy, they've just stumbled into the situation and are blundering their way through to maximise their personal power/wealth and delighted that their xenophobia no longer needs to be hidden. IMHO.

172:

Better come back with the original Anglo-Saxon, or we'll nail you for that little Sock-Puppetry! And that's a promise.

You're sadly mistaken; that's not a hand up my arse, but my own head.

So anyway after sleeping on it, the worst part of Charlie's scenario above is that at least three-quarters can be backed and/or fallen into just by people doing what they already seem to be doing. Bangladesh experiences a crisis; will Trump's America send aid, help with sensible rebuilding, attempt to flood proof the country? Or will they sign a deal with India selling them drone surveillance and weapons to stop refugees pour over thei border? Or will they ignore it all because they're watching Melania sue the Daily Mail for interfering with her attempts to monetise being First Lady? Anything but the first, least likely, will create a humanitarian crisis, which is bad in itself, but also have knock on effects throught the region and world destabilising it for the next crisis (also ignored due to some other sensation presumably).

Similarily the various crop diseases; someone is careless in a laboratory or a new strain develops in the wild and it's the same scenario, just more chaotic as various agri-business corporations claim their semi-resistant products are the solution. And so on.

173:

I very much doubt 'birth control, abortion, infanticide' were a significant factor in the problems of the Late Roman Empire, since there was nothing to stop Romans from practicing them during the Republic and Early Empire. If anything they should have had a diminishing influence, since the Late Empire was becoming increasingly christianized long before Constantine...

But on the other hand I have read Toynbee - not the easiest or briefest of intellectual enterprises, but vastly rewarding - and I can't but agree it's very tempting to think we are entering the 'Time of Troubles'.

174:

"Lots of todays anti-semites seem to have (or pretend to have?) no problem with Israel. It's very odd."

No, because the popular US view of the Rapture basically has all of the Jewish people returning to the state of Israel for a battle of annihilation. The survivors convert to Christianity.

Basically, it's the Final Final Solution.

175:

The main reason I don't think this scenario is going to come about is that there are a lot of people opposed to it at both a macro and a micro level. I think your scenario downplays the scope and willingness towards independent action by not-Trump. They don't need to be noble volunteers to prevent a successful conspiracy, they just need to be smart and self-interested.

There are plenty of state actors who have reasons to get out of the carbon game. China is a big importer of fossil fuels and suffers from killing levels of polution. California is the same. Japan has pretty much no local fossil fuels. Germany is very committed to its future renewable energy policy. Reasons to reduce your own state's dependence on fossil fuels include air quality, balance of payments, security of supply and foreign policy considerations and those are important drivers even if don't believe in climate change or think its too late to do much about it.

You could make an argument that Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States think the game is up and are getting out now whilst they still can.

Nor do I think the developing countries most likely to be passive in the face of climate change. I think they are getting richer. I think they are getting more willing and able to co-operate amongst themselves. For example the African Continental Free Trade Area. Growing opportunities for not-USian or not-Western states to influence global policy or even to ignore the USA. Those countries have a choice about their long-term future energy policy as they urbanise and develop and the don't just have to accept that they have to buy oil and gas and coal. From anyone, let alone one of Trump's (potential) cabal.

I don't think the USA has the global reach that it used to have such that taking over the USA allows a cabal to control the energy economy of the entire world.

At a micro level there are plenty of incentives for indivuals to switch from fossil fuels and plenty of incentives for private or public sector R&D in to renewable energy, energy storage, new crops and farming techniques.

Sure, if you control the United States energy and tax policy you can impede renewable adoption - in the USA - and what the means is that the solar panels and wind turbines, electric cars and battery packs will be made in China and Germany. Then sold to the USA. If my assumption that the long run costs of energy are downwards then a Carbon First policy in the USA becomes a policy to remove the competitive advantage that the USA enjoys through cheap energy. Trump might not care about that but many, many USians would.

Broadly I think renewable energy has passed the point where it has become economic regardless of carbon. I think the USA is no longer single-handedly able to control the shape of the world's economy. Plenty of people can see good opportunities for them or for their country in not just burning fossil fuels. Even if a conspiracy existed to take control of the USA in order to extend the life of the carbon bubble at the cost of worsening climate change and leaving billions of people to die I don't think such a conspiracy will succeed in the face of the self-interested opposition.

176:

Of course you run into the problem where every minion involved also knows that even if you paid them a good wage they now have dirt on you which could utterly destroy you no how rich you are and can set up schemes to blackmail you.

Technically speaking that's entirely possible.

But my objection to that is more esoteric. Lots and lots of things, many vastly more dangerous are entirely technically possible. Pharma companies could, in theory, for budgets in the low double digit millions range create new variant on a human diseases and have effective vaccines ready to go and make billions as governments panic-buy contracts for antivirals.

For that matter it would be pretty much trivial for an entity like the US government to run a false flag operation and hijack some planes and use the aftermath to push through every policy they every wanted. Probably wouldn't even be expensive. Down that road you quickly fall to madness and end up ranting on a corner that jet fuel can't melt steel beams.

In general the world tends to present a great many chances without the need for conspiracies. Invasive species spread, pests mutate a great deal anyway and and you don't even have to help the process along.

Further: people here seem to be attributing the willingness to intentionally wipe out billions of people only to the enemy, only to the far right but I could just as easily imagine someone deciding that the same kinds of steps are what they should do to "bring down capitalism" or some such. It's not even a stretch to imagine some of the more anti-human and more extreme environmentalist groups deciding that a weaponized plague is just the thing to save the environment by reducing the number of humans by 80%, by starvation or by directly killing them.

But mostly it doesn't seem to happen. My field is bioinformatics. When I say it's technically possible I'm not guessing but it's much harder to do in an undetectable way. Artificial and engineered sequences tend to stand out and the first thing that happens with new pathogens these days is someone sequences them.

When you start attributing all the evils of the world to the people you hate most it's not enough to say "well technically they could be responsible for X and since we're modeling them as utterly evil that means they've probably done it already".

177:

Weaponised plagues? No, what you want is something like the common cold, that everyone gets and doesn't think anything of it. And you fix it so that it has the side effect of inducing sterility after a lapse of a few years. By the time anyone notices what's happening variants of it are everywhere and it's far too late to do anything about it.

178:

I partially agree with you; abortion, infanticide, and birth control were issues the Romans were concerned with throughout their history; there were many laws passed to increase birth rates (one of Augustus off the top of my head). Yet birth rates did fall during the later empire, and some of that seems to be due to these factors. The question remains: what motivated people to have less childen?

179:

Nazis? I think you've bought a line, and misunderstood what WWII was about. Especially its end and aftermath.

What you are describing is the European colonial era attitude.

That is what WWII ended.

A brilliant program of quiet determination to fundamentally change human nature. Remarkably successful, considering history. Now fails.

180:

I'm not aware of any reliable mechanism for doing that but yes. That might be viable along with a lot of other things.

But my point is that just because there exists a "could" for X does not mean there's actually people doing that thing. Assuming that the people you happen to hate already must therefore secretly be doing X is not epistemically safe.

181:

There is an argument that "Nazism" means "the application of colonial policies to Europe." It's hard to disagree.

182:

My guess is that that is too organized a scenario; if there is a conspiracy it is likely to explode from internal conflicts.

The problem with autonomous killing machines is the problem with land mines or gas on the battlefield; they are likely to turn on the force that deploys them.

Which is cold comfort. The world can for-sure end with a whimper of stupidity and carelessness, instead of the bang of a vast conspiracy.

183:
trying to arbitrarily tie in issues, like BLM and Palestine
A population subject to law enforcement profiling with huge impact on their day-to-day lives, much more likely to be shot by the authorities than their neighbours of other ethnicity, with said authorities much less likely to see any kind of reprimand or punishment - never mind the inside of a court dock - for doing so.

It seems a failure of imagination to regard BLM solidarity with Palestine "arbitrary."

184:
It's an entire administration of short-term opportunists with poor quality preparation. In which case, how do you explain the "Cambridge Analytica" problem & the careful targetting & pre-planning, then?
Easy: by presuming Cambridge Analytica isn't anything particularly special, that getting a more-or-less equivalent data operation involved is standard operating procedure for serious election campaigns since it was so successful during Obama's first run, and they lucked out by getting the best one.
185:

A branch of the caste systems tree?

Wrong, wrong, nope, and you didn't even fucking follow the link to the easy definition.

Start to pay attention before you comment, or I'll ban you for sealioning.

186:

They run almost entirely on click-ratings, up-votes, likes, tweets or whatever social media bullshit that drives their "metrics". ... This means that they all favour "noise",

Yellow card: for deploying a false equivalence between neo-fascists and folks marching to protest about the alienation of civil and human rights by said neo-fascists.

It's kind of a pity that you had half of a good point, but sprayed shit all over it in your eagerness to look like a Sensible Realist (subtype: conservative).

187:

Capitalism actually benefitted from poor economic planning on the part of the Chinese Communist Party’s central bureaucracy.

Ahem: China pouring some 2.5 trillion yuan ($364 billion) into renewable power generation by the end of the decade.

Looks to me more like China used Western demand to grow its photovoltaic manufacturing base to the point where it's now dirt cheap, and they're using it to roll out a massive shift in their energy infrastructure (to get away from the coal and oil smogs that are choking their cities).

So I'm calling "nope" on your assertion that the Chinese solar factories are going to go bust, at least in the near term. It looks more like they're going to benefit from a massive level of Keynsian stimulus spending that will build out vital infrastructure in China. (I can't speak to Solar City's business model, however.)

188:

>So what will keep solar from dominating the future energy market? The cost of storing peak energy production for later use when the wind stops blow and the sun isn't shining.

I'll be interested to hear what you have to say; it was a good first comment. But work continues on batteries. This Guardian article discusses a street in Oxspring, Yorkshire, where solar panels can only be fitted to 2/3 of the houses because of "constraints on the amount of power that can be pushed into the grid." So every street in the house is being given a battery.

And battery tech keeps evolving, with promising leads appearing so frequently I've given up paying attention.

(PS. Mod, thanks for fixing my broken HTML upthread. I'll try to click more contentiously.)

189:

Of course if you have the production lines and the AI up and running then you may as well deploy killer robot wasps everywhere. It's not as though anyone is going to go out and protest after all.

190:

Batteries are an expensive fix.

If you sit down and do the math for the whole grid, how much power you'd need to store to keep the grid going at night in December and where you'd get that power from.... You need a lot of batteries and a lot more solar panels than the average output per year would suggest and the cost adds up quickly. You could stick them in every little house but that's possibly one of the most expensive ways to do it with lots of problems from sticking a big heavy high power battery bank in every little house.

Sadly when I try to talk about the subject I tend to meet simple hostility because so many people see it as if I'm saying "boo solar!" rather than "actual implementation is likely difficult and expensive and you can't dodge the question if you want to swap serious,meaningful fractions of the grid over to solar"

191:

The cheapest solar PV industrial project to date sold its power output for about $29.90 per MWH for an 800 MW expansion to an existing solar PV array in Dubai. For comparison purposes day ahead baseload in the UK was selling for between £50 and £60 last time I looked. At $29.90 a megawatthour that's probably cheaper than building a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine plant before you burn any gas.

Mexico's recent auction saw solar PV prices ranging from $35 a MWH to $75.

You still need to pay for ways to better match supply and demand but at those prices and falling it leaves a lot of money left over to build storage systems and expand the grid.

192:

I'm no expert on China. Or economics. But can't both be true? Can't they can have stimulated demand, reduced the cost of production, and still have companies about to go bust? Don't first movers end up with expensive processes that stop being viable precisely because of innovation and the collapse in price? And wouldn't that leave the banks with a lot expensive, worthless collateral? I mean, it's not as if Western banks have never *cough* 2008 *cough* misjudged the value of their assets.

193:

Late marriage was a very simple and extremely efficient way to control birth rates in ancient times (given the life expentancy of the times, even three or four years of delay could very well cut in half the number of children women had in a community) and bad times caused late marriages as a matter of course.

@181 anonemouse

Not a complete definition, but I wholly agree that was a vital ingredient of Nazism.

194:

Ranessi @157: Bannon calling himself "Leninist" just shows how much of a know-nothing blowhead he is.

Bear in mind that a number of the (pseudo)intellectual theorists of the neo-con far-right come from a background as student Marxists/ Maoists. They've kept some of Marx's sillier ideas and applied them a wingnut agenda.

Eg., History is teleological (directed to an inevitable utopian end). Airquotes "True" socialism for Marx, unfettered democratic capitalism for the neo-cons. Emphasis on the capitalism.

When Bannon calls himself a Leninist, he's not talking about socialism, he's talking about revolutionary strategy, disdain for incrementalism, and the political imperative to unify the proletariat with bigotry, religion, and ethnic cleansing of anyone who doesn't fit.

Yes, this is stupid and dangerous, but Leninist isn't a meaningless descriptor of his position.

195:

"he's talking about revolutionary strategy, disdain for incrementalism...Leninist isn't a meaningless descriptor of his position"

Beg to disagree. Lenin was a Socialist fully within the debate in the Socialist International, one who wrote that his aim was to adapt the strategy of the German Social-Democrats to Russia (where there was no representative government, rule of law, civil liberties).
The watershed was WWI (and the Second International betraying its commitment to stop the war by any means necessary) first: incrementalism and peaceful reforms when the ruling classes had millions of people butchered in trench warfare? Second, the collapse of the Russian state, the coup attempts against the stillborn Russian republic, the workers' councils that seem the new model workers' state, and then the civil war and its aftermath.
All this just to explain that Lenin had to find out policies and strategies AFTER the whole political framework around him was collapsing (No October revolution may mean a proto-Fascist/neo-Czarist dictatorship under a luckier Kornilov). Bannon instead wants to scrap and overturn a system that is working and that would be amenable to incrementalist reform.At least the road to Soviet hell was paved with Lenin's good intent, but Bannon is going to a road to hell knowing that it is hell and evil.

196:

Wodan, I do hope you realise that the phrase "Science has long predicted..." is such a scientific stereotypical phrase that these days it is effectively a running joke?

What you see with science is a phenomenon my former PhD supervisor termed "Me too" research, whereby everyone working in whatever field they've been working in for the last twenty or thirty years tends to try to obtain funding by jumping on the latest bandwagon.

So, back in the 1970s when the climate scientists thought we were headed for a new Ice Age, plant pathologists argued for more funding to cope with the effects of common pests in a shorter growing season which would prevent plant growth from out-running pest depredations.

Round about 2000, we were supposed to be heading for run-away warming, so our intrepid pathologists phrase their grant applications in the light of longer growing seasons permitting pest populations to persist over-winter and cause more damage that way.

Around about now, we've got wetter but more unpredictable weather and sea level rise predicted, so the very same grant applications talk in terms of smaller areas growing food, unpredictable conditions and so on.

Basically, what looks from the outside like this massive agreement between scientists is actually just the same old characters jumping on the latest bandwagon and nodding away like good 'uns to the latest supposition and fairytale, not because they believe a word of it, but because the people handing out the grant money may be swayed by the latest bandwagon and keeping up with fashion is essential.

The great benefit to genetic modification, especially of the more modern methods thereof, is that we can get disparate gene groups into plants much, much more quickly that evolution can find a way around these measures. Furthermore useful little things like nitrogen-fixing root nodules (which naturally only occur on legumes) could be put onto cereals, maize and the like, which greatly reduces the amount of fertiliser input needed.

This is a net good, because when your crop fixes its own nitrogen, you only have to worry about phosphate and micronutrients, which are needed in much smaller quantities. Introduce crops like this to the Third World, and then starvation becomes a much less severe problem, and the locals can get on with becoming civilised and nice to each other.

197:

I was under the impression the tundra melting would lead to a Case Nightmare Fart situation when all the methane trapped there gets dumped in the atmosphere?

198:

, the Westminister Brexit crowd are definitely not engaged in some complex conspiracy, they've just stumbled into the situation and are blundering their way through to maximise their personal power/wealth and delighted that their xenophobia no longer needs to be hidden. IMHO.
Which will bring them down, if they go on like this...
They are too-obviously aligned, if only partially with Trumpolini ... Any association with Farage is now poison - it took an awful long time, but it seems he has finally been rumbled, which is a good thing, as he did actually seem very plausible, at first, I'm sorry to say.

199:

The problem with the phrase "Science has long predicted..." is, IMO, not your rebuttal, but a slightly different one. Although the phrase itself is a joke.

Science doesn't predict anything. Scientists do, using observations and models. They do that to create a hypothesis (which is, after all a kind a prediction) that they can test.

It's entirely possible for climate change scientists to use their models to predict a rise in this, a drop in that, no change in the other. The linked article does that with a lot of caveats and, as far as I can tell, does it using credible techniques and sources. It's certainly published in a credible journal, and I don't have the background to skim read it and tell if their sources are up to scratch but there's nothing in their techniques that screams they've done a bad job of reviewing the data.

But "my" branch of science (which is somewhere between medical microbiology and immunology) makes, or certainly made, no predictions about the effects of climate change on emerging diseases. Although I was looking at PhDs recently and there's one looking at modelling Vibrios in the Baltic and how that might change with global warming as a preventative/epidemiological measure so there's now some cross-over. From what I read, they'll be looking at year to year changes rather than long term predictions still, so it will be more 'if the temperature at Riga is over 15ª issue a no-swim warning because of the dangers of Vibrio infection" kind of outcomes' rather than 'in 20 years the Baltic will not be fit to swim in.'

"Science" certainly doesn't make these predictions, but if you're looking at climate change, by necessity some of the predictions from a particular model will be quite long term. You can't measure climate by next year's weather after all.

200:

Arrgh. The insolation at a 60 degree latitude (the UK) averages under 50% of that at a 30 degree latitude (Mexico & Dubai). Solar is a great tech. It can't compete well with other renewables in the UK outside of the midsummer months, and those presume good weather. It's the same reason Norway and Sweden don't bother with solar much, and Canada is mostly only using it in remote locations.

201:

Making the nightmare yet worse: Another clean hands technique for genocide would be to provoke an all-out war between Muslims and Christians in Africa.

202:

. . .the following scenario assumes that what we are witnessing is deliberate and planned and that the people in Trump's inner circle actually have a coherent objective they are working towards. (I desperately hope that I'm wrong on all counts.)

There's a vast amount of self-delusion involved in climate science denial. Everyone likes to think of himself as a good guy (and it's almost all guys in Trumplandia). Even those who understand the science and nevertheless deny it are mostly just careerist arseholes rather than moustache twirling Bond villains. (A certain Australian cabinet minister who wrote his student thesis on the need for a carbon tax, then spent the last decade campaigning against one, say). As with most forms of selfishness, various forms of rationalisation help; I have to protect my own interests; I'm only a tiny part of the problem; If I don't mine coal/ drive a V8 someone else will; If my actions hurt someone else it's their own fault for not being as manly and strong as I am.

Racism and sociopathy help.

So no, I don't think Lord Dampnut (love that acronym) has any sophisticated scheme for anything, and Bannon doesn't need an excuse to monster foreigners.

Re. Charlie's posited actively genocidal, weaponized endgame, even from the standpoint of a sociopathic billionaire, I don't buy it as an option. The preferred neoliberal policy is market based, fascism enforced. The very rich can continue to pay to water their vast lawns while farmland dries up and blows away. Private jets cost a lot more to fuel, but nothing the political donor class can't afford, while third world workers can't afford a bus ticket to work.

Bangladesh faces malign neglect rather than drones and bullets. Business wants cheap labour and consumers for as long as possible. They don't want that labour killed. (From an entirely amoral perspective, Nazi Germany's demented enthusiasm for killing its slaves was arguably counter-productive).

The important thing is that this is still gigacide.

It's just the gigacide which will result from the existing foot-dragging policies of the "moderate" neoliberal centre-right on climate change, plus hostility to refugees.

Re the Malthusian element, in terms of carbon emissions and resource consumption, the poorest couple of billion people account for a tiny portion of that, much of it subsistence farming, so kill that farmer and you don't have any more food for everyone else. Yes, in the absence of sane, humane policies those people will die. It just won't do the survivors much good.

Re the recent sale of 19% of Rosneft, regardless of who the buyer is, I wonder whether we're seeing the biggest pump-and-dump scam of all time. Install a ranting climate denialist president to pump the climate bubble, then run for the exit. What mystifies me is why any buyer who isn't part of the Kremlin inner circle would imagine he could enforce property rights in Russia. Unless he were somehow indispensably useful to the Kremlin.

203:

An odd place to find proof that as our host's nightmare scenario cannot happen: Iraq
How the US handled the invasion of Iraq proves that the current elites are incapable of staying united on a game plan, even a game plan of enormous long-term benefit to themselves. Fragments of the elites start plundering the moment they see the chance.
There probably are elements among the elites who would love to do something as dire as our host's nightmare scenario, but the elites as a whole don't have the necessary capacity to discipline themselves.
The early days of the Obama administration also show this lack of discipline. A few minor reforms and tossing a few of the more reckless financial players into one of those resort prisons would have bought them decades of grateful obedience from most ordinary folks, but they couldn't stop each other from the crudest, most obvious, most self-legitimizing theft.

204:

Re the recent sale of 19% of Rosneft, regardless of who the buyer is, ... What mystifies me is why any buyer who isn't part of the Kremlin inner circle would imagine he could enforce property rights in Russia. Unless he were somehow indispensably useful to the Kremlin.

Ahem. If the buyer is the Ranting Orange Shitgibbon, then the Rosneft sale serves a very useful purpose for the Kremlin insofar as it gives the ROS a really strong incentive not to go to war with Russia. (Not to mention its utility as leverage over him.)

205:

Leninism was codified as a set of revolutionary tactics and ideals in the 1920s. It was precisely the fact that revolution was thought difficult or impossible in societies amenable to incremental reform which led to the fear and loathing of moderate progressivism. Whether Lenin was a nice guy pre-1917 is neither here nor there.

In any case, Bannon was referring to the bizzaro-land neo-con/ alt-Nazi inversion of that -ism. That it got more than a little twisted along the way was what my post was about.

Of course, you're completely right that a reckless, revolutionary approach in what was until a couple of weeks ago still a semi-functional democracy is insane.

206:
"THESUNTHESUNTHESUN

EXPLAIN?
Please.
You use this phrase time & again & again & again & again & ......
Is it actually supposed to mean something?"

Pshaw. It's obviously a reference to the 1993 Rush album Counterparts, specifically the song "Between the Sun & Moon."

ahh yes to yes to ahh ahh to yes
why the sun why the sun

Seriously, you must read the material more deeply, darling.

207:

This sort of presupposes familiarity with Rush.

Personally, I dislike Geddy Lee's voice (and Morrissey, go figure) and don't like giving money to Objectivists, so ...

208:

This is entirely true. The comparison with the UK wholesale market was more as a reference point to a mature, reasonably liberal and open energy market.

I'm not suggesting that because solar PV is being sold at $30/ MWH in Dubai we should expect those prices in northern Europe soon (or perhaps ever). I'm trying to demonstrate that solar PV is already pretty cheap in parts of the world well suited to it.

That has some implications for the deployment of renewables and storage and the location of some economic activities.

I think solar PV costs are being driven down by a combination of learning curve effects and economies of scale. If solar PV is already as cheap or cheaper than a CCGT in equatorial regions then I would expect those regions to keep buying and deploying solar PV which in turn drives learning curve effects and economies of scale, lowering the cost of solar PV year on year and increasing the area of the world where it is economic to deploy it year on year. This keeps happening in a virtuous circle for some time. (How long I don't know.) Solar PV, I think, slowly creeps north and south. It will always be better and cheaper near the equator. It may become cheap enough that it dominates CCGT's and wind in temperate lattitudes. Or it may not. Wind is also seeing a long term cost reduction albeit more slowly than solar PV at the moment. CCGT levelised costs are heavily driven by gas prices which are low at the moment.

Some of the implications of solar PV being economic near the equator and falling in price are

It makes sense to move energy intensive industry to the equator.
It makes sense to build solar PV nearer the equator and connect those grids to existing demand centres (North Africa to Southern Europe interconnectors or Mexico to California.)
It create opportunites for storage solutions like batteries which enjoy their own virtuous circle of economies of scale and learning curve effects. This in turn helps wind (and nuclear) load follow more easily.
It allows developing economies, which are largely equatorial, to grow economically without having to emit carbon
The virtuous circle keeps going for several more cycles.

209:

What scares me is where autonomous killing tech can go.

Roll it forward 20 years with continued increases in computational ability. Tanks are so last-century. Two kinds of kill-drones I'm imagining. First, the sparrow, just on account of the size. Long endurance, excellent optics, can spot exposed humans. Armed with gyrojet smart projectiles. Low-stress on the drone to fire, bullet can hit with the same power of a .50 cal sniper rifle. Anything moving outside can be dead. Slightly scaled up, can take out unarmored vehicles, too. And it would be bloody cheap.

The bug is smaller than that, can infiltrate buildings, hunt down people. Neurotoxin injector, target dead in seconds.

Right now this stuff isn't morally different from current-gen drones or landmines, indiscriminate killers. But with increased computing power, it can become more discriminate. Deliver bioweapons that are only lethal to people with these genetic markers, use visual cues for targeting like skin color, facial structure, all the stuff right now that's used to analyze CCTV footage.

ISIS has weaponized drones.

I think military robotics are at the wright flyer stage, right where all the necessary supporting tech and theory is coming together. WWI for drones is on the horizon.

If we consider what the threat of guns has done for public appearances by leaders and the threat of sniper rifles for any kind of event, weeks of prep and securing surrounding buildings, just imagine what happens when the secret service has to consider someone twenty miles away could send up a drone that can hone in on a location with a VIP and reliably target them. We tend to think of bunker mentality as the final stage of losing a war but it could become the default peacetime condition. You can try outlawing drones but that's like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

I'm just some civilian schmuck on the internet. If I can think of this, you can bet the people paid to do this for a living are already losing sleep over it. There's probably stuff I've not even twigged on yet that's incredibly viable and the only question is why hasn't anyone tried it yet?

The Newsflesh trilogy started strong and ended in a wimper but one thing that stuck with me, pre-and post-zombie apocalypse thinking. Crowds in public spaces is a very pre-zombie sort of thing. I have this feeling we're very much living in the before time, pre-x. And whatever that x is, I think crowds are going to feel like big, soft, dumb, panicky targets. Worse than any of the prior attacks we've seen. Right now you need suicidal idiots to conduct the attacks. Scares people ok but it's hell on the terror HR department. If you can automate this sort of thing, one operator handling a dozen attacks and surviving... Well, the Imperial Japanese invented the cruise missile. Needed a pilot and wasn't very reusable but the idea was sound. Militaries the world over improved on the idea, replaced the pilot with a computer, better motors, higher speed. There's not been a major naval war since WWII but there have been around 200 antiship missiles fired in anger (if I remember my source right) and it didn't go too well for the ships.

Ugh. The tinfoil might block the mind control beams but it doesn't so squat against the microdrones.

210:

Point of order: the Germans were using cruise missiles before the Japanese started using kamikaze.

211:

Silly, it refers to:
\[T]/ \[T]/ \[T]/

212:

Bannon... He'll try to gain more, and he wants a race war.

If he's really unlucky he might get one. Think about what percentage of the U.S. is actually willing to shoot a Black/Brown/Asian/Jewish/Muslim/LGBTQ person (who is not currently threatening them,) then look up the U.S. demographics, and ask yourself how many White people will be against the Nazis?

Bannon is playing a losing hand, he just doesn't know it yet. If he's really lucky maybe 20 percent of the population will go his way. One yuge difference between the U.S. and Nazi Germany is the percentage of minorities here, currently totalling around 35 percent - and much higher when you count allies.

213:

SunSunSun. I thought it was a reference to Caribou - Sun (YT). A track I try and play at sunrise at Stonehenge whenever I'm there.

I find it impossible to think about Bangladesh's problems without seeing it as part of S Asia and all the problems that has. Many of them inter-related and very similar. And just as there's a train service from London to Paris, there's also one from Dhaka to Kolkata. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitree_Express Time, Space and scale: You're not, etc. etc.

214:

D'oh. Meant carbon bubble, not climate bubble @202. (Climate bubble being a term used by denialists).

215:

Kicking all the Jews out to Israel would do fine from the Nazi-in-America perspective.

And Netanyahu keeps calling for Jews to come to Israel rather than calling for other countries to treat their Jews better (see what he said after the Paris attacks).

216:

Hi Charlie,

I've known what Kyriarchy means for a couple decades, and understand the application of the word to my country's problems. What I'm talking about above is not abandoning social justice - not ever - but trying to bring a "new" oppressed class into the Liberal tent.

Ah. Got it. Maybe your suggestion of Kyriarchy was meant positively. I hadn't been thinking in those terms as much as a much greater focus on the issues in the flyover states along with some Liberal dog whistles to let the minorities know we hadn't abandoned them, but Kyriarchy does make a nice springboard to a new approach. As you say, I'll give it some thought.

217:

There are plenty of people in the US who have the capability of home-brewing cruise missiles. If you combine the fly-to-location software that grew big with quadcopters and the endurance, payload, and dash speed of model planes (rocket-boosted for last dash) and you get just one of the reasons a modern US civil war will be terrible for everyone. (Especially 1%ers, even if they don't realize it, due to how angry people are at them.)

The only reason we aren't seeing these in the Middle East is that the ones doing the innovating are operating on a shoestring budget without ready access to component factories- a lot of what they've made has been out of recycled materiel. They're certainly plenty smart.

In contrast, everything but the payload can be acquired in hobby stores all across the US, and anyone with knowledge of chemistry can make something nasty for it to deliver.

TL~DR: Anyone with access to hardware can make deadly drones nowadays, the military is just moving at the speed of government and paying MIC prices.

218:

Several things: first, I just read a few days ago that Tesla has renamed itself, and is putting online *massive* battery storage for wind/solar.

Second, you'd be amazed out how much power modern solar puts out. I had someone door-to-door try to sell me... and said that the part of the roof of my split-level would pay for itself quickly.

Third: I'm thinking it's become "ok" for fascists to claim Lenin, etc, when they're trying to pretend they're *not* fascists - vide the "Deplorables Ball" for the Inauguration, and the fight as two whether attendees could wear swastikas and give Nazi salutes. (And then Salon comes up yesterday with a story "White Power in the White House".

Y'know, the ultrawealthy got to be that way, overwhelmingly, because they're psychotically 2-yr-olds, MINEMINEMINE!!! They do *not* get clues. They look for a tool to run the government and deal with the masses, and the tool turns and cuts them, and goes waaaay beyond what they want. Examples range from Hitler to the Koch Bros gearing up to take down Trump & co. (This is post-election.)

NB: fascism: Mussolini, the first fascist dictator, and who helped *create* fascism as we know it, liked to quote "fascism is more properly called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." You, dear reader, can rant all you want, but you're trying to call black white, and come up with some new definition that does not include Big CEO. I will, therefore, mean this when I use the word fascism, and you MAY NOT redefine my usage.

On another note: BOTH SIDES ARE NOT THE FUCKING SAME. And, for that matter, the right's demonstrations are dwarfed, by orders of magnitude, by those of us on the left. And what do the demonstrations do? People who weren't at them look, and say, "I'm not crazy, and I'm not alone"... and start paying attention, and they *may* be out there next time.... AND THEY'LL VOTE.

Finally, Charlie, late yesterday I came up with a possible endgame scenario that modifies your rabid weasels scenario: Kellyanne Conway - look at a picture from a couple of months ago, and then yesterday. She looks 15 years older. Trump... we do *not* know what his real health is, until he goes to the Military Medical Ctr in Bethesda for a *real* physical. And an insider, in a column yesterday, is quoted as saying that Trumpolini drank rocket fuel the whole campaign. The "journalist", of course, neglected to ask just what the source meant by "rocket fuel".

I see him having a blowout, and collapse, and when the docs tell him stop or die, he resigns. And I think that happens this year.

mark

219:

And a further argument for the existence of a global carbon bubble.

220:

One question for those from that side of the Pond: *why* is Corbyn and Labour not vehemently anti-Brexit?

mark

221:

You do realise that almost every claim in your post related to climate science is wrong?

For instance, in the 1970's, climate scientists were not thinking we were heaeding for a new ice age.
Then there's the run-away warming. Again, scinetists were not saying that was what was going to happen. Oddly enough many pests are suviving winter better even without runaway warming, as everyone expected. The pine beetle rampage through Canada is well known about, and caused by climate change.

Bandwagon jumping is just the shallow simplistic way of looking at it. It has some validity, but fails to encompass the full aims and needs of science and scientists, let alone how useful or interesting science can be produced even when the claimed aim of the scientists involved is much different. Other examples include nanotech and fuel cells. For decades putting 'nanotech' into your grant etc has been necessary, irrelevant of whether any real nanotech work is done. Yet the science keeps getting done.
You might like to consider instead the social aspects of science.


Your GM suggestion for solving the food problems of the poor is noted, but you need to be more specific about how the poor are going to afford this, since that has always been the actual problem. Technology can't solve all problems.

222:

Because Corbyn is re-running the 1960's in his head, ignoring current actual politics and tactics.

Tony Benn and Corbyn agreed that the EU was bad, because it was and is a tool of the corporate govenrnment complex to tame workers and their rights. Or it probably started out that way to some extent, we are talking about long before I was born, but has since become something of a bulwark of social liberalism. Corbyn doess't see that or doesn't agree that having it around is better than being left to the mercies of the evil tories. Maybe he's hoping that after brexit we'll rise up against them and their horribleness and he'll get elected. Or else he really thinks that less than 40% of the electorate get to decide such an important topic and they should be followed, despite their xenophobia and gullibility.

223:

"Personally, I dislike Geddy Lee's voice (and Morrissey, go figure) and don't like giving money to Objectivists, so ..."

The first thing to know about Rush is Geddy Lee doesn't even like his vocals. You have to listen past them. The second thing is nobody bothers with their politics. Even Neil Peart is a bit embarrassed by his high school infatuation with Ayn Rand going on a bit longer than is healthy. The third thing to know about Rush is it's the only rock band you can listen to that makes you less cool. These guys didn't get into rock and roll for the money and the women, they got into it for the music. The fourth thing to know about Rush is nobody has a neutral opinion regarding them, it's love or hate.

Rush is something that grows on you, like a fungal infection. As with ophiocordyceps, your behavior alters and you attempt to infect your nerdy friends.

224:

I think you're "more right" than OGH, but the simple fact is the 1% don't give a fuck about Bangladesh one way or another. "They all starved? I think I read about that somewhere. I guess I'll buy the land while it's cheap."

225:

The Brexit thing is cross-party.

I voted Remain, but I don't think the EU is all wonderful, I just think it's better than leaving and that, although reform is getting slower and slower, it's better to reform than throw the baby out with the bath water and quit.

Those who voted leave, despite the coalescing into a "hard Brexit or else" blob, and the "they all voted on immigration control" line that seems to be the current story we're being fed, had many reasons, and some Labour MPs were on that side of the argument. Corbyn was not considered to be really keen on Europe, although he was pro-Remain rather than pro-Brexit.

But they're also facing the unpleasant truth that a fairly large number of safe Labour seats voted Leave with a large majority. A smaller number voted Remain too. It's currently seen as electoral suicide in England and Wales to say "Support Brexit." In 2020, the likely time for the next election, who knows.

226:

"TL~DR: Anyone with access to hardware can make deadly drones nowadays, the military is just moving at the speed of government and paying MIC prices."

Yes, yes, yes. Exactly my fear. Big, televised crowd, drones doing the gps dash to planned coordinates and blowing up. Obviously the police will have HK drones to intercept and modified trophy anti-rpg systems to engage fast-mover drones above crowd height. Ugly arms race ahead.

227:

> fascism is more properly called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.

Mussolini didn't say that, because he was Italian, and had limited English. What's more, there is in fact no record of him saying anything like it:

http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2013/02/07/fake-quote-files-mussolini-on-fascism-and-corporatism/

http://www.publiceye.org/fascist/corporatism.html

The Italian word 'corpo' means 'body'. The corporatism of Fascism was based on that metaphor; individuals were cells, the State was the brain, the leader the Dictator who took the inchoate will of the People and turned it into words.

This has nothing, other than a very distant common linguistic ancestor, to do with the idea of a modern limited-stock corporation.

228:

The nightmare isn't happening because elites in the first world nation are not unified because they no longer have any function whatsoever. During industrialization, they had the function of building the basic infrastructure of mass prosperity, well making others build it, but it did get built. Needlessly brutally and in a soul-less variant that is almost a parody of itself, but still built.
Once the physical infrastructure and high levels of mass education were in place, what became possible and necessary is a knowledge-driven economy. But that requires quite different organization of society and the one and only thing the elites are capable of doing now is to put off the shift to that different organization.
The knowledge economy we have now is the deliberately crippled, warped version that comes from trying to force a knowledge economy to function within the constraints of a capital/infrastructure centered society.
This is also why places like China and India have been catching up economically, a reverse of the pattern from the start of the Industrial Revolution in which the leading nations pulled away from the rest.
Elites in places like China have been capable of functioning as unified elites because they still have a function to play: the building of physical infrastructure and mass education.
The Japanese elite performed superbly as long as it was building this infrastructure and mass education and fell on its face once it reached the transition point at which Western societies have been stuck for around half a century now.

229:

Yup, they don't care about them or their labour; there are plenty more poor people to exploit. Meanwhile, the Bangladeshi 0.1% will just join the floating international owning class.

The stupid thing is that the whole "amateur drone makers can do nasty things" thing is mostly avoidable, if the politicians learnt to use some different and better policies.

230:

The mild infection of Rand ended with Rush long ago. And yes Geddy, like Morissey, is not for everyone. Still, they sang a bloody song about a black hole...that's just badass.

231:

Charlie I think you got it mostly right, however I would suspect Trump and Co are more isolationist and less interested in overseas military adventures then you portray. I actually think the entire plan is to avoid being drawn in to such

I suspect they think the collapse and genocide of the inconvenient brown people is
something that will happen on their own. That a properly prepared fortress America can ride it out, maybe provide a push or two in the right direction here and there and then sweep in and collect the spoils later when most everyone has starved to death

A lot of the recent policies make a lot of sense when seen through this lens. It's also a plan that is strongly reinfoced by American Exceptionalism

Totally bonkers of course

232:

Yeah, a bloody song about a black hole that spanned two damn albums! And also sang about hobbits and the Necromancer like Zep. Tried to find the cite but I remember they were on tour with a hard-partying band and the other guys wanted to go get hammered after the show and the Rush boys had books they wanted to read. Books! Oh, ok, maybe a little weed as well if we wants to get frisky.

233:

Can those of youbashing identity politics please explain what exacly you mean?

I've seen tons of acts that I could call "identity politics" (IP) - Women only spaces, refugee active in political struggles who insisted on meeting without non-refugee activists present, gays no wanting women or hetero men in their bars, folks seriously saying that white europeans should not wear dreadlocks, mohawks, skinhead outfit or tribal tatoos (still not sure that wasn't a communication guerilla style stunt to discredit IP) ... I'm not super convinced that all of these make sense, some are bad strategy. But I fail to see how any of this helps nazis to win elections.

The problem the left (from parliament to lower left) has is not too much IP. The problem is that we are not present and effective enough in social struggles (rent, wage, tuition, accesss to public sphere ..). But this is not a zero sum game where less IP (whatever that is!) equals more wildcat strikes.
The decades of neoliberal policies & the ongoing crisis make effective wage struggles and the like hard. No reason to beat ourselves up about it but look more closely for stuff that might work and get to it.

234:

"The nightmare isn't happening because elites in the first world nation are not unified because they no longer have any function whatsoever."

The wealthy like to complain about the useless eaters and the welfare moochers and the parasites but is there anything with less functional use than a billionaire trust funder? His money begets more money and the work of making it multiply is paid for by the proceeds. His managers do the work. What does he contribute? If we compare the waste of resources represented by the infamous welfare cheat vs. a trustifarian, I think it's clear who is squandering more resources.

You look at the courtiers in an aristocracy and they're preoccupied with feasts and balls and social positions but are completely removed from the work and responsibility of maintaining civilization. What purpose do they serve again? Useless ornamentation that somehow manages to be smug about it. You earned your fortune rather than inherit it? How plebeian!

235:

Another way to look at Charlies OP. Let's, for a moment, not ask ourselves if this is a likely scenario. Let's just ask ourselves if a scenario like this is on the minds of Bannon et al.

This would mean we have an outer doctrine and an inner doctrine.
Outer doctrine: Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) denial, America first, isolationism, overt racism, repressive gender roles, antisemitism, closed borders, brutal neoliberalism, disenfranchisement of immigrants and POC.

Inner doctrine: Believe that AGW is happening, rest same as above? Maybe not so much isolationist? Am I missing anything here?

This split in outer and inner doctrine raises some question:
1) Is this weird conglomerate of nazis and businessmen able to hold a semi-coherent inner doctrine, in secret? Is this group coherent enough? How coherent do they need to be?
2) Are there any pointers that some of the guys we talk about (who exactly, actually?) belief in AGW? Bannons stint as a biosphere manager might be interesting. Others? Or are all of them dyed in the wool denialists?
3) What would be visible differences in policy would this inner doctrine make? Could we tell them from the noise this administration makes?

236:

Technical correction: the United States Senate is a gerrymander, done avant la lettre. The idea of giving all states two Senators, regardless of population, was put in place with the deliberate intent to give states with few voters disproportionate power. (This is known as "The Great Compromise", if you're looking up the history of the Constitutional Convention.)

It is a consequence of this deliberate design that the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have eight Senators between them -- while New York City, which has more people living there than all four of those states put together, has to share its two with rural upstate New York.

237:

> Can those of youbashing identity politics please explain what exacly you mean?

Identity politics means appealing to a group, outside the scope where the commonality of the group actually has some causal relation to the policy proposal.

So gay marriage is not identity politics, because it involves a real set of people facing similar individual circumstances.

Arguing about 'exactly which episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are racist' is IP, because it doesn't.

In general, anything primarily about fiction, or involving real-world people in a way indistinguishable from fictional ones, is identity politics. Similarly, any appeal to arbitrary or fictional groups, like 'gamers', or 'whites', counts. A lot, but not all, of nationalism is identity politics, because there are few policies that are positive-sum for everyone in a country.

It is an undeniable fact that the most powerful forms of identity politics in the current world are Trumpism and Brexitism. This should be unsurprising if you are aware of the dictionary definition of the word 'majority'.

Failure to understand and successfully counter that, with _either_ real policies _or_ inclusive narratives, does represent the left's share of culpability for recent events.

238:

I think we've got conflicting timelines, which is why I'm writing this.

If there's a carbon bubble, the implication is that the entire system is going to fall apart in the next few years to a decade or two. Now you'll disagree, and we can have a really complex debate about what "fall apart" means and how much infrastructure gets saved.

Still, if we assume there's a carbon bubble and the carbon economy is getting ready to implode, that has some nasty implications. The big one is that war is largely petroleum powered, especially if we're talking about things like armor and aircraft. If it turns out that cyberwar and non-violent actions (from propaganda to general strikes) can have as big a coercive impact as sending in the 101st Airborne, that's going to reconfigure global power dynamics in a huge way, and it's a way that doesn't particularly favor the US.

Right now, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't go through some truly bizarre military evolution, where countries keep their nukes (MAD-style deterrence) and low level, special forces and irregular stuff, and ditch their main armies as ineffective against cyberwar. For example, an isolationist US that is interested in global population control could simply scrap its aircraft carriers, because these are used as much for disaster relief as they are for saber rattling, let alone actual attacks. Getting rid of them mean a lot more sick children die rather than getting help.

In the longer term, assuming it's possible to innovate to tank-powering batteries, we may see the re-evolution of electric battle tanks, and heavy metal war may become a thing of the late 21st Century. The idea I'm working with here is when various trends bear fruit. If we get a breakthrough in battery or ultra-capacitor technology in the next few years, we could go from gas hawk jets to electrojets in a decade. If it takes decades to develop the batteries, then we may go through a period where nobody bothers with jets because they're cost ineffective, and war is conducted by other means. If it turns out that such super batteries are physically impossible, then we're not going to get out of the carbon bubble with civilization intact, and our civilization will keep going until the oil runs out or our systems shatter, whichever happens first.

Take your bets on that.

The other topic is whether those 7.42 billion people who didn't vote for Donald Trump are just going to be sitting around passively, waiting to be massacred by the world's self-proclaimed masters. My bet is that they are going to resist, and that's a hell of a lot of push back against bad policy, even if it is unorganized.

239:

Re: UN annual dues ... are due

Haven't read through all comments yet, but if you're invoking the UN and the USofA role within it ... UN dues for 2017 are due this Friday Feb 10th, and the US hasn't paid their annual dues yet. (To-date only 28 countries have.) If the golden rule is pay-to-play, the US is not a player.

http://www.un.org/en/ga/contributions/honourroll.shtml

240:

I see no reason to suppose that the military machine can't run on various forms of biofuel and nukes. Don't people keep pointing out the Pentagon's investment in alternative fuels etc? Just because the consumer oil economy implodes doesn't mean the military one will.

The real issue is whether enough of an economy can survive to produce and staff the military machine. Given the necessity of importing so much of their war machine raw materials, could the USA actually get enough for a war if they pissed off enough of the world?

241:

The future of armed conflict looks a bit squidgy. Historically empires have been a bit of a pyramid scheme that worked out for a very long time. You conquer the neighbors and use the proceeds of the theft to improve your capital and then conquer more people to keep it going. Eventually the carrying cost of empire was too great and it would collapse that that's typically years down the line so why worry? The modern twist on this is that you don't need to occupy a colonial possession if you can trick them into occupying themselves. Cut local elites in on the proceeds of whatever resource you're extracting and they'll shed the blood it takes to keep the locals suppressed, none of your boys have to come back in flag-draped caskets. the public doesn't have to find out how the sausage is made.

We've seen the rise and fall of systems of complex warfare where empires can afford the capital-intensive weapons of the day that are abandoned when the system falls apart. We've seen examples of expensive systems completely undone by later technical developments. An English longbowman took twenty years to grow and he could be replaced by some knob with a firearm. The traditional phalanx was overcome with decent combined arms, including cavalry. The later development of heavy cavalry was dominant for a thousand years until the pike formations. Mounted knights were the basis of entire societies with all the feudal obligations and justifications. We saw the endless series of developments that saw the end of the age of sail, the early ironclads, pre- and post-dreadnoughts, nuclear subs and aircraft carriers.

You get right back to it, it's all about using force to get someone to do something you couldn't otherwise convince them to with words. You only need the fancier weapons if the other guy has got them. The whole war on terror has seemed a bit stupid with us using billion dollar weapon systems to blow up guys who could barely be described as guerrillas. Incredibly wasteful.

I'm just struck at the way the two Iraq wars played out. The first one, when it was kept to just removing a Soviet-model army in open desert, it went like clockwork. The second one, it started out fine with a repeat and then went to hell with the occupation.

In modern politics in Europe the idea of a system like Stalin's purges seem barbaric but it wasn't all that long ago, historically, that the head of the UK would have the heads of enemies on pikes in public places. The politics is just as cutthroat, just with less bodies left about rotting. If you bypass the actual fighting you just get to the part about people dying in cities that no longer function.

242:

I am unconvinced about your scenario for two reasons.
The first could just be me having missed something in your post - specifically, what is the end and what are the tools?

Is the end what you call "gigacide by climate change", and they are using the oil bubble as a mean to that end?
Or "extract all possible value from the oil infrastructure" is their goal and the gigacide is more of a consequence that will erase people that are not important anyway (in the eye of the cabal that hat set this in motion)?

Apart from that, what I am most skeptical about is the actual duration of the plan itself.
Is it starting with Trump's election? And if this is the case, when should it start bearing fruits?
Did it start way before (someone mentioned how oil companies were already aware of the climate change 40 years ago) and it is entering its final phases now?

What I am trying to say is that I am extremely skeptical of any plan that takes more than one (human) lifespan to reach its goals. The fact that at least some of the actors may also be religious fanatics would make them more interested in something that goes on after their deaths, but I think that most people nowadays would like to cash out (in terms of benefits for themselves, not necessarily "cash") while they are still young enough to appreciate the rewards.

243:

Re: 'If you combine it all, the gross sum of human wealth is about $2,397 trillion as of 2010. And a lot of that is just paper wealth: numbers in a computer account somewhere.'

Agree - not enough printing presses to produce this amount, the sums are in the realm of imaginary/ortho/NaN numbers.

Common play with authoritarian gov'ts is nationalization of select industries ... my picks are: financials, agriculture, communication and transportation.

244:

I see no reason to suppose that the military machine can't run on various forms of biofuel and nukes.

The US navy projects a dramatic shift towards nuclear-powered ships over the next 50 years — not only big-ass aircraft carriers, but smaller vessels down to the scale of cruisers and large destroyers, and also supply ships. There will probably be fewer vessels in total, but a greater tonnage (nuke boats tend to be big to take advantage of the expensive but powerful prime mover). Aircraft may well run on biofuel ... or on Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of methane polymerized into long chain alkanes and powered by the aforementioned reactors.

The US army ... can't remember where I saw this, but have seen video of an experiment in which a convoy of hybrid vehicles (diesel-electric powered) were daisy-chained nose-to-tail using high-current power cables so that a single power car could provide ferry power for the entire train. For deployment by road this is apparently far more efficient than running an engine in every cab, and once they need to maneuver independently they uncouple and behave like conventional vehicles. The convoy included HMMVs, trucks, and IFVs; I think it was DARPA-funded.

Given this is the military, in an extreme case the prime mover for ferrying a hybrid-powered road train might well be a truck loaded with 20-30 tons of modular batteries.

Finally: traditional military attacks relied on the projection of massive force in the hope of hitting a target — a thousand bomber raid to smash a single factory, for example, or half a million artillery shells to soften up the German defenses on the eve of the first Battle of the Somme. (Nukes were a proxy for this sort of massed raid.) But precision-guided weapons have already rendered this wasteful and unnecessary; one stealth bomber dropping a single JDAM can take out that factory without flattening the neighbouring town or having to drop another thousand tons of bombs.

245:

Batteries ...

People pay more attention to a technology when top science prize$ are awarded to that technology. And because this is essentially a Canadian gov't grant to promote university research and scholarship in this area, results are expected and any data collected are expected to be published.

http://globalnews.ca/news/3232647/halifax-professor-wins-canadas-top-science-prize-for-battery-research/

Excerpt:

'Dr. Jeff Dahn of Dalhousie University was to receive the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering Tuesday evening in Ottawa ... Dahn, 60, is one of the world’s leading battery researchers, working on lithium and lithium-ion batteries since 1978.

Last summer, he began a “five-year exclusive research partnership” with Tesla Motors, the California electric car company headed by CEO Elon Musk.

“Some of the goals of their collaboration are to develop lithium-ion batteries for automobiles and grid energy storage that are cheaper, more powerful and longer lasting, thus helping to ensure the wider adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy,” according to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, which awards the Herzberg prize.'

246:

Richard Melvin noted: “I don't think the drone-patrolled borders thing can work.”

Drones are mostly the wet dreams of defense contractors looking to get rich on government largesse. To control a border, the economically efficient solution is sentry guns (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentry_gun). They’d be much cheaper and more effective than big walls, and just the kind of thing a soul-less psychopath (not to name any names) would consider. This tech is simply nasty, nasty, nasty... which is unsurprising given that warfare in general is not so much with the sunshine and hugs.

Danieldwilliam notes: “China is a big importer of fossil fuels and suffers from killing levels of polution.”

A large part of that is from their heavy reliance on high-sulfur coal. They’re busting their collective ass to build methane generation facilities in rural areas and nuclear in other areas, not to mention megadams like Three Gorges. Charlie provided actual statstics in message 187. The problem is that the demand for power has been growing faster than the generating capacity. The two curves will eventually intersect, but until they do, coal will remain a huge problem. (I discovered a few years ago, to my horror, that hydroelectric reservoirs are only carbon neutral if someone reams out all the organic matter before it is submerged. If it’s submerged, it promptly starts decaying anaerobically and generating enormous quantities of methane. There is no free lunch, even if you can figure out how to capture and burn that methane.)

Alatriste noted: “Late marriage was a very simple and extremely efficient way to control birth rates in ancient times.”

You’re correct if you accept the assumption that sex only occurs within the context of marriage, which is a shaky assumption. Traditionally, late marriage was a simple and efficient way to increase the frequency of premarital sex. In the absence of cheap and effective birth control, that would actually increase birth rates.

Dan H noted: “Basically, what looks from the outside like this massive agreement between scientists is actually just the same old characters jumping on the latest bandwagon and nodding away like good 'uns to the latest supposition and fairytale.”

You’re right about funding, but that’s because (in theory and generally in practice) funds are allocated to priority areas of research. If you’re a scientist and want to pursue your own areas of interest, you still need funding, and sometimes you do that by crossing your fingers and tying your grant proposals to where the money lies and then finding ways to do your real research on the side. You can’t play a game if you don’t know the rules. I respectfully disagree about the rest (30 years working with scientists). The more scientists who “jump on the bandwagon”, the more likely it is that cracks will begin to appear in a prevailing paradigm. You forgot that scientists get the big rewards from breakthroughs and subverting paradigms, not from the same old same old.

Dan H also noted: “Furthermore useful little things like nitrogen-fixing root nodules (which naturally only occur on legumes) could be put onto cereals, maize and the like, which greatly reduces the amount of fertiliser input needed.”

Partially true. When you increase nitrogen availability, phosphorus becomes deficient in many soils because phosphorus requirements increase proportionally to the N addition. And in many areas of Africa, sulfur is deficient. So to obtain a good fertilizer response, you typically need to (i) identify the nutrients that are most limiting to plant growth and (ii) determine whether supplementing them with fertilizer or gene twiddling will create other limits to growth. Crop nutrition is complex, and varies with so many factors it would take a whole essay to summarize them.

247:

Oh, forgot to mention re. batteries: When we talk batteries, we generally think Duracell and exploding Samsung devices. But really what we need to be looking at is the wider category of energy storage, and you can store energy in cheap and easily produced ways that don't involve Duracell/Samsung.

Among the simplest is using solar energy harvested during the day to pump water uphill, then generate power at night by flowing it downhill again past a wheel. Waterwheel technology is ancient; you don't even need fancy modern pumps. For the technophiles, there are many fancier alternatives, including heating things and then extracting the energy as they cool.

These methods aren't as efficient as a modern electrical battery, but they're cheap enough that in many cases it doesn't matter: quantity becomes more important than quality.

248:

The way I read it he means the second option. The gigacide is a related consequence, which will be dealt with if it becomes necessary. The plan is entirely comprehensible given it isn't actually being run by a secret commitee that meets every month in an underground base somewhere. It's just the cumulative self interested actions by the greedy sociopaths that run much of the world governments and corporations (and they overlap anyway). No central planning needed, thats the beuty of the market.
Also, the way he's framed it, the Nazi genocide plan isn't something that has been gestating for 40 years already, except insofar as, like a lottery winners dreams, it has always been around, just waiting for the numbers to turn out right.
The oil companies trying to get as much money as they can now is actually a long term project, e.g. by funding climate change denialism, some of the fruits of which can even be seen on this thread.

I think you are also totally misunderstanding the mindset of the people involved. It's not a matter of cashing out young and spending your life on a beach, it's all about the power and money, whoever dies with the biggest bank balance wins. Ergo you need to keep on power mongering, look at Ruper Murdoch for example. Nothing but a malign effect on 3 different societies, he's still bossing people around and putting his children into positions of power in companies he owns. Or the Koch brothers. And so on.

249:

A wee addendum- the thousand bomber raids, IIRC, were part of the discredited and mad area bombing campaign, i.e. murder enough civilians and destroy their houses and the enemy will give up, even although we didn't give up after having something like it done to ourselves. The actual precision bombing for strategic purposes used many fewer airplanes and was far more successful.

250:

What I'm talking about above is not abandoning social justice - not ever - but trying to bring a "new" oppressed class into the Liberal tent.

Speaking as someone who grew up in one of the reddest parts of "Red America", and thus has deep experience with the "flyover country" worldview, I'm not sure that's possible without severely compromising the social justice platform (and thus defeating the whole purpose). That is to say, you have an extremely steep hill to climb.

The vast majority of these people have no concept of intersectionality or critical race and gender theory. If you explain it to them, they'll likely either take offense or dismiss it as abstract, academic hoo-ha. To the extent they understand or accept social justice concepts, it's of the older "colorblind"/"post-racial", first- and second-wave feminist variety. Discussion of privilege along any axes other than economic and perhaps gender won't resonate. (For example, try talking about white privilege with the median white, working-class American. You won't get very far. Reparations? Forget it.)

Tactically speaking, you might, and I stress might, win some converts at the margins by 1) articulating the societal end state you're trying to achieve and 2) their role in it and how they'll be better off (i.e. appeal to their self-interest). Provide them with an alternative model to emulate/strive toward. Describe how, from a social justice standpoint, a properly reformed person of privilege--white, male, heterosexual, educated, et al--should behave in the new system you're trying to create. Explain how that systems works for them. The downside of this, of course, is you're not winning their understanding so much as buying them off.

Speaking from experience, confrontation doesn't work. Shaming doesn't work. You're not wrong to call them on their privilege, but all they'll hear is a guilt trip and/or attack. Then, you're right back where you started.

I say none of this to endorse their worldview, but rather to try and articulate, from personal experience, just what it is you're up against. As you can tell, I'm not optimistic, but perhaps I'm just jaded.

I suppose the real question is whether you think it's truly worth it to the Liberal tent to try.

251:

Well this brings us to energy storage for renewables. All sorts of technological fixes are being tried:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/super-battery.html

... including: Mechanical Fly Wheels (compact but expensive and can only store energy for short periods) Simple Heat Sinks (basic system heating a working fluid or box of rocks), Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage (underground mines, porous strata, and reservoirs - where available), Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage (the way to go with concentrated solar power, but not very practical for systems smaller than utility scale), Pumped Hydro Storage (pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher one and back down again through a turbine - still the cheapest and most efficient means of storing renewable energy, 98% of the world stored energy capacity is actually pumped hydro), Electrical Batteries (like Tesla's Powerwall, extremely expensive but the only practical option for residential and commercial scale solar), electrolysis and artificial leafs (that turn solar into hydrogen for fuel cells), biofuels and the "internet of things" (more on both below).

Li-Ion batteries have made amazing strides in the past few years in terms of weight, charge, cost and lifetime (with 600 to 1000 charge cycles before needing replacement) but still have a ways to go before they can be as commonplace as a refrigerator or dish washer. Right now they are not practical for most consumers, and at the larger utility scale bulk heat storage systems are best. Even the best rechargeables wear out. And when batteries wear out they become toxic waste. Which is why I personally would prefer CNG vehicles to EVs. Think about how many cars get scrapped annually. Imagine the toxic waste disposal problems from millions of junked EVs every year. And millions more of Tesla Powerwalls.

The best approach to solar energy storage may be biological, not mechanical:

http://foresternetwork.com/weekly/energy-storage-solutions-weekly/natures-own/

Genetically engineered microbes that convert raw sewage to methanol, algae genetically engineered to excrete biodiesel, exotic bacteria that makes biobutenal, yeast modified to make diesel as easily as it makes beer. The possibilities are endless.

Then there is the use of the internet of things to create a power storage swarm and hive mind capability of storing energy for later use in EV batteries or even appliances for later use. But this would require not just a smart grid but a genius grid. Research goes on.

But even a real breakthrough in renewable energy storage simply means an additional cost to the overall system. When people talk about the very real improvements in PVC costs and inefficiencies, that's only part of the story. Solar needs to be examined holistically as a complete system, not just the solar cells.

And holistically, solar energy is just not very efficient.


252:

Speaking of inefficiency, let's take or example the Neuhardengberg solar plant located near Berlin; 145 MW nominal capacity 245 hectares (0.95 square miles). First off, the nominal power sited of 145 mW is the "watt-peak", which is energy production under ideal conditions. From Wiki: ""The maximum power measured is the nominal power of the module in "Wp". The nominal power divided by the light power that falls on the module (area x 1000 W/m2) is the efficiency. Watts peak is a convenient measure because it enables one to compare one module with another and track industry capacities and shipments. Equivalent measures can be used for wind electricity generators, though obviously the specification of ideal conditions is different."

The facility in question is a PV facility generating DC. Homes and appliances have to be run on AC. This necessitates running the DC through a converter. Converters transform AC into DC and vice versa. There are two types of converters—rectifiers and inverters. Rectifiers use diodes in various configurations to perform the conversion. The more complicated inverters rely on microprocessor circuits and transistors.

DC is converted to AC by means of an inverter. The output waveform (voltage over time) varies with the quality and cost of the inverter from rectangular (poorest quality and least cost) or trapezoidal (better quality and more cost) to a true sine wave identical to that directly produced by an AC generator (best quality and most expensive). Inverters can be connected either in parallel for higher power or in series for higher voltage. The operating power of an inverter varies with voltage; typically a 100-W inverter will operate at 12–48 V.

Which then brings to the issue of operational efficiency. An inverter's efficiency may vary from something just over 50% when a trickle of power is being used, to something over 90% when the output is approaching the inverters rated output. An inverter will use some power from your batteries even when you are not drawing any AC power from it. This results in the low efficiencies at low power levels.

Typical inverter efficiency will be around 60% on most days, and each day will see variable DC output due to variable sunshine (more on that below). So that 145 nominal mW becomes an average, typical DC to AC inverted power production of 87 mW.

Even on bright sunny days, the average solar power gain is considerably less than the peak used to determine nominal power in watts-peak (due to movement of the sun, latitude, season, etc.). For example, from David MacKay's analysis in "Sustainable Energy without all the Hot Air":

"The power of raw sunshine at midday on a cloudless day is 1000 W per square metre. That’s 1000 W per m2 of area oriented towards the sun, not per m2 of land area. To get the power per m2 of land area in Britain, we must make several corrections. We need to compensate for the tilt between the sun and the land, which reduces the intensity of midday sun to about 60% of its value at the equator (figure 6.1). We also lose out because it is not midday all the time. On a cloud-free day in March or September, the ratio of the average intensity to the midday intensity is about 32%. Finally, we lose power because of cloud cover. In a typical UK location the sun shines during just 34% of daylight hours. The combined effect of these three factors and the additional complication of the wobble of the seasons is that the average raw power of sunshine per square metre of south-facing roof in Britain is roughly 110 W/m2 and the average raw power of sunshine per square metre of flat ground is roughly 100 W/m2.”


So let’s take the 87 mW of inverted AC production and reduce it to 32% to account for average solar intensity. This reduces actual output to 28 mW. Then again reduce this amount to 32% to account for cloudy days (England having roughly similar climate and latitude as northern Germany). This gives us a. amount of 9.5 mW.

For a direct comparison, nearby Berlin actually has an average of 1625 hours of sunshine annually With annual daylight of 365 x 12 = 4,380 hours, this is equivalent to 37%.

So after accounting for reductions for DC to AC conversion, latitude and climate, the facility’s actual POWER production is only 6.5% of its rated nominal power in Watts-peak under ideal conditions. If this facility’s average AC output was to be equal to it nominal 145 Mw it would need a land area almost 16 times greater than 0.95 square miles, an area equal to almost 15 square miles.

Note that daylight hours only account for half of a 24 hour day on average, resulting in a further 50% reduction in ENERGY production as measured in kW-hours. So increase the area required by a factor of 2 to 30 square miles.

But since energy created by the PV system will still be needed at night (indeed its heaviest demand load will be at night for heating and illumination) it will need to produce enough energy to store for later use at night. With a typical charger efficiency and battery efficiency of 80% and 70%, the overall energy storage efficiency comes to 56% under ideal conditions. To account for energy storage inefficiency the required land area has to double again to 60 square miles – about 38,400 acres.

To summarize, in order to effectively produce power equivalent to the nominal 145 kW, the area devoted to collectors has to be increased to compensate for losses incurred by:

a. conversion from DC to AC (60%)
b. latitude (32%)
c. cloud cover (34%)
d. only operating during daylight (50%)
e. battery storage (56%)

This is a total reduction of about 98%, necessitating a 55x increase in collector surface area to produce power equivalent to its nominal rating. In this case about 55 to 60 square miles instead of the actual 0.95 square miles.

253:

Environmentally, solar is not pristine either.

The destroyed habitat alone makes PV a bad environmental choice. The PV cells themselves are doped with toxic materials. Until recently, PV meant flat-panel cells and modules. While this allows for some saving in production costs due to inexpensive roll-to-roll fabrication, the material costs are much higher, since almost the entire cell needs to be lined with doped silicon. The doping often involves the introduction of relatively expensive materials, such as gallium arsenide or indium selenide.

http://72.3.251.71/DE/Editorial/Concentrating_on_the_Solar_Future_1765.aspx

PV cells do not last for ever. Current warranties run for about 10 to 20 years of operation, after which they have to be disposed of and replaced. A complete conversion to PV energy sources would present us with a serious toxic waste disposal problem.

For a nice summary of the adverse ecological impacts of Germany's renewable energy program, see this article from Der Spiegel:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-renewable-energy-policy-takes-toll-on-nature-conservation-a-888094.html

"It was in this way that, in 2009, Germany's largest solar park to date arose right in the middle of the Lieberoser Heide, a bird sanctuary about a 100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of Berlin. Since German reunification in 1990, more than 200 endangered species have settled in the former military training grounds. But that didn't seem to matter. In spite of all the protests by environmentalists, huge areas of ancient pine trees were clear cut in order to make room for solar collectors bigger than soccer fields. A similar thing happened in Baden-Württemberg, even though the southwestern state has been led for almost two years by Winfried Kretschmann, the first state governor in Germany belonging to the Green Party. In 2012, it was the Greens there who passed a wind-energy decree that aims to boost the number of wind turbines in the state from 400 to roughly 2,500 by 2020. And in the party's reckoning, nature is standing in the way."

Compare that to a highly efficient combined cycle natural gas turbine generator. For example, the proposed Apex Matagorda Energy Center natural gas power plant will have a capacity of 317 mW and a 22 acre footprint.That’s twice the capacity of the German PV facility, or half the equivalent are per power output of only 11 acres.

Summary: The wisest application of solar is as an adjunct to a stable power grid, eliminating the need for an expensive storage system, for those areas where the climate makes sense to use rooftop solar. This approach could see solar vastly increase it share of the energy mix to between 5% and 10%. This will naturally reduce the growth in the fuse of carbon energy. But solar is not an existential threat to carbon fuels. That's not a conspiracy of the oil companies.

It's a conspiracy of physics.

Which brings us to the real energy leader, natural gas.

254:

So welcome to the Golden Age of Methane.

http://foresternetwork.com/weekly/energy-storage-solutions-weekly/innovation-at-the-pump/

As The Economist put it, “America’s unexpected, and most welcome, bonanza of natural gas from its vast shale deposits seems to be doing as much to reduce pollution as many of the efforts introduced over the years to restrict emissions from vehicles, power stations and other sources. The biggest breakthrough the energy industry has seen in decades, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) combined with horizontal drilling, has released unprecedented quantities of gas from this shale. As a consequence, the spot price of domestically produced natural gas has tumbled from a high of over $12 per million British thermal units (Btus) in 2008 to less than $2 in 2012, before settling at around $4 today.”

As a chemical reaction, burning methane creates half as much GHG per BTU generated. Furthermore, natural gas power plants are 20% to 30% more efficient than coal in terms of kWh generated per BTU. And it is fracking that is putting coal out of business.

Fracking is also better environmentally than solar based renewables. As I noted in my other post, to produce the same amount of electricity generated by a single natural gas power plant whose footprint (including the employee parking lot) is only a dozen acres you would need wind farms and solar arrays covering dozens or hundreds of square miles. Each component will need access roads, regraded topography, drainage structures, utility hook ups and easements, etc. That is a lot of destroyed habitat.

And then there are the economic impacts of solar energy. The cost of a complete conversion to renewables will make us all poorer in real terms. The operating and capital costs (especially land requirements) of equivalent solar energy sources are such that these additional costs would throw the world economy into a major depression. The economic benefits of methane OTOH are incontestable. It’s cheaper than coal (with less than half the GHG per kWh generated) cheaper than nuclear, and waaaay cheaper than solar, wind, tides, PVCs or biomass.

Permitting is not much of an issue (providing we get some stricter standards for siting brine disposal wells – or require brine recycling – and improve the quality of well casing construction). We already have an extensive infrastructure in place to transport natural gas across the country. Its so cheap American chemical companies who rely on methane as a chemical stock) are once again exporting chemicals competitively worldwide. It has triggered an industrial renaissance in the Rust Belt where steel mills even in blighted Youngstown, Ohio are working three shifts to meet the demand for piping.

I love fracking. Fracking is our friend.

And so the world is abandoning coal fired boilers for electrical generation and replacing them with combined cycle natural gas turbines.

http://foresternetwork.com/distributed-energy-magazine/be-energy/fuel-cells/a-fuel-phase-transition/

"As a result of fracking, the cost of American domestically produced natural gas has tumbled from $12 per million BTU equivalents to below $4 in less than six years. Comparisons to other energy sources are equally impressive. On a comparative BTU basis (1 barrel = 42 gallons of crude oil = 5,729,000 BTU for US-produced crude oil), natural gas was selling for the equivalent of less than $20 per barrel. As a result, by using CNG or LPG, the owner of a truck fleet or operator of a turbine generator can achieve considerable cost-savings by making the switch to methane. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the transportation and power generation industries have taken notice and offer new equipment and vehicle lines powered by natural gas."

So the basic premise of the nightmare scenario is wrong - solar poses no threat to carbon fuels. Coal use will die out (China just cancelled 103 coal plants for reasons of cost as well as environmental health). And solar will achieve a significant portion of the energy mix along with gas, oil, coal and nuclear, but it is not going to be our largest source of energy let alone our only source of energy. So for economic and technological reasons the nightmare scenario ain't happening.

Which leaves us with the demographic reasons why it won't happen.

255:

"So, back in the 1970s when the climate scientists thought we were headed for a new Ice Age, plant pathologists argued for more funding to cope with the effects of common pests in a shorter growing season which would prevent plant growth from out-running pest depredations."

Nope. The 1970's belief was the product of a small number (i.e., fringe) of climate scientists, hyped by some of the 'popular science' type magazines.

See Realclimate.org for good information.

256:

I don't understand the logic around inverters. Pretty much any power generation is going to need to be converted to AC so you pay that overhead independent of means of generation

Whether solar over takes other forms of energy generation depends on how long and how fast it continues to fall in price vs other energy sources

The acerage used isn't really a concern since you can reuse existing roof space or put the wind off shore. There is also a lot of desert in the world

257:

I don't consider natural gas a viable alternative, because while it might be cheap *now*, it is not sustainable - just like oil, it will run out and leave us with even a bigger energy dependency to deal with (given the increase in the world's power consumption). I appreciate that it exists so that we potentially have time to build up and figure out a truly sustainable form of energy production. By which I mean something that - given humanity's current knowledge base - could be used sustainably for 100-200 years while we figure out something even better. This should be the rational option, but as the original post supposes (and I agree), seems that will not be taken, because the people involved in the decision-making have either decided to be anti-social or are simply wilfully ignorant.

Having also read Mackay's "Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air", I think I am an advocate of both nuclear and solar, mixed in with a hefty dose of energy austerity. So, while I haven't actually done any calculations, I don't really understand the big fuss about nightly peak load being a problem. I believe that in order humans to truly and consciously transition into a more sustainable "mode" of existence, significant lifestyle and philosophy changes have to take place anyway. Otherwise the incentive to hide external costs in energy pricing will remain a viable option for capitalistic businessmen, thus the system can't really optimize for the most sustainable solution. The end result could and should include more bicycling, public transport, better house insulation and more efficient use of daylight.

Thus, if we assume a gradual and correctly priced transition to a more sustainable energy, I am pretty sure people's usage patterns will also change, and with some clever timing optimization and a bunch of batteries, maybe there won't be such a pronounced peak anymore. Of course I haven't got anything to back me up instead of a gut feeling based on LED lamps, phone/tablet/laptops that last for hours on batteries and having grown up in a northern country where you could get by even if you didn't turn on the heat every day even with -10C outside.

Also, I would argue against the "cost" of solar when it comes to installing and maintaining infrastructure. All this money does not just evaporate: you have just created a lot of reasonably low-skill jobs which give people something to do and money to spend (this should be good for an economy, no?).

PS. At this point I don't think it's worth to discuss whether or not Lord Dampnut and his court have a sinister plan or are simply incompetent, because it seems to make little difference to the end result, which seems to be shitty governance (and if OGH is even a little bit correct, global catastrophe). I didn't pick the US to be the world's ruler, but they are what the world is stuck with.

258:

solar PV costs are being driven down by a combination of learning curve effects and economies of scale

Note that this is also happening in microscale PV. It's now cheaper to buy a PV "solar lantern" than most other forms of lighting in a lot of the equatorial poor countries.

When I first looked at this 20-odd years ago it was like pushing chain up hill, because nothing was there. Putting in a lead acid battery, discrete component controller and PV panel to light up a fluoro tube was almost completely pointless because a couple of years later something trivial would have broken and no-one local could fix it.

These days you visit the "remote" parts of Timor and discover that they mostly want to know whether you picked up their eBay purchases on your way in. The small solar is often 5V because they want to charge cellphones - they use 5V/1A or 5V/2A regulated panels with USB ports on them ($10 each on AliExpress ... but postage to Dili can easily be more than that.

The tech leap is often straight from wood fire for everything to 240V mains from a PV mini-power-plant delivered via a truck with 20kW of panels and batteries. Suddenly everyone has electric lighting and laptops, and you're being quizzed about where to buy fibre gear so they can get "proper internet" by running their own cable. How about first *I* get fibre to my house in Sydney?

259:

I think we may also have conflicting definitions. Does "the carbon bubble collapses" mean that we run out of hydrocarbons, or that we can't use them anymore for some reason? Or does it mean that there is a bubble in their valuation which will collapse the stock market in the next few years while we continue putting gas into our SUVs while we go out looking to replace the jobs we lost when the stock market crashed?

And when the value of carbon stocks crashes, does the value of green stocks go up?

260:

I don't understand the logic around inverters. Pretty much any power generation is going to need to be converted to AC

Big rotating generators are usually synchronous AC generators - there's a big rotatey thing that spins at some multiple or fraction of 50Hz (or 60Hz), and makes AC directly. When the input is also a spinning thing this works really well and can be done with very low technology (this is where it all began, a steam engine powering a simple alternator). It scales really well, you can make a 100's of MW system this way.

What you struggle to do, though, is make that big spinning mass react quickly. On this scale hydro is "fast", because you can start or stop it in less than an hour. By the time you've cut the coal feed into the firebox and cooled the boiler off to slow down the steam going into your turbine... it's not the same day any more. There are also technical issues with power factors and harmonics to get into if you want to keep going.

With inverters it's much simpler in concept. You take "DC" that might be only roughly DC or in fact not DC at all, you might rectify it and smooth it or you might not. Then you chop that stuff up and make it into really fast pulses up or down that you choose to produce the AC waveform that you want. These days power electronics at the MW scale can do this in the low MHz, so as far as they're concerned anything that a big machine can do is DC. 50Hz, 60Hz, a turbine at 60000rpm (1000Hz)... it's all DC as far as the inverter is concerned because the inverter can switch 1000 times for every time the input changes.

261:

This fast inverter technology affects efficiency directly. In power efficiency terms, every step you take from the input to the output loses power. If you can do the whole thing with a power source, an inverter, and that's it, you're likely to come out ahead. And with almost everything there are fixed losses - it takes the same power to keep the lights on in the power station whether it's making power or not. So when any power plant is running at 5% of rated capacity the efficiency is terrible. And this applies right down to single machines - keeping a big steam turbine hot takes a lot of energy, much more than a small one, so running both to produce the same output means the little one will be more efficient.

In bigger installations they often have a bunch of mid-size generators in parallel so that they don't lose everything if one breaks, and also so they can shut them down sequentially to reduce output. Which is why Chernobyl had four reactors, for example.

Again, the way to win here is to use the speed of response of computers. With PV, clouds move slowly - it takes lots of nanoseconds to shift one even a metre. Which means the output of a PV power plant changes slowly by inverter standards, but impossibly quickly by coal fired power plant standards.

That means it's easy to feed the solar DC into a whole bank of inverters, and turn them on and off as the power goes up and down. It makes sense to optimise for the cost of the inverter - if a 100MW plant can use 100, 1MW inverters and the same company can have a 25MW plant using 25 of the same inverter... that's probably a win. But it also means that when the 100MW plant is only putting out 10MW, they can feed all of that through 10, 1MW inverters that are all running at peak efficiency. Then a second later when the output is 25MW... they fire up another 15 inverters and have 25 x 1MW inverters running.

You can't do this at home because ... well, ok, you could do this at home, but the fixed cost will kill you. It costs, say, $100 to get an inverter approved (for every single one, because they have to be tested and wired in at your house then tested again). So if you buy a single, 5kW inverter that is $100 of the total cost. But if you have 100, 50W inverters... now you're paying $10,000 for approvals and that doesn't work.

262:

I'd suggest the bubble is that they aren't used any more. I'm thinking of it, probably wrongly, like a housing bubble.

It's a good question, because you're right, my thinking is muddy. Thinking about it more, it might be better to think of it as a congerie of bubbles. Utility petroleum and coal for electricity will probably give way to wind, solar, and hydro if we get sufficient energy storage to get through all the still nights. Then there are cars, where there are needs for car range, car capacity, and recharging infrastructure. That's a different bubble that will take longer to deflate. Then there's heavy equipment, which will take longer still. Shipping will be on a different time scale. If cargo ships get to the speed of the old clippers, a lot of them might flying kite sails just to cut costs.

Hmmm.

263:

I was thinking of it more like a housing bubble. The housing bubble collapsed, but we still live in houses. I don't see the real-world transition between oil and Green as being particularly difficult unless someone works very hard to make it difficult. One system stops using oil and starts using Green. Then the next system stops using oil and starts using Green. Etc.

The financial transition will be the difficult part. What happens when a share of Exxon/Mobile looses 90 percent of it's value? What happens when all the shares of Exxon/Mobile are worth less than the value of all of Exxon/Mobile's refineries, oil wells, and gas-station contracts? Once that happens, how do we keep Exxon/Mobile producing until all the oil it provides is replaced?

264:

"You’re correct if you accept the assumption that sex only occurs within the context of marriage, which is a shaky assumption..."

Shaky indeed, but correct for Roman times in my humble opinion. High class women before marriage lived so secluded they would have felt at home in Saudi Arabia, lower class children lived in crowded conditions, slept in crowded conditions, and worked long hours always close to their fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers. And last but not least Roman fathers had life and death autorithy. Premarital sex wasn't that easy.

Besides, we have other examples from history, Spain during the XVI-XVII centuries to name but one. A combination of more or less permanent war, even if fought mostly in far away lands, high taxes and a quite limited number of young people leaving for America was more than enough to cause depopulation (probably by indirect means, making the poors more vulnerable to the unavoidable plagues and bad harvests)

265:

That is so terminally boring & irrelevant that I suppose I should not be surprised.....

267:

What scares me even more about (small) drones is the biowar possibility.
A large teacup full of nasty bio agent(s) dropped erpeatedly, particularly on a crowd (see other discussion) could be a very unpleasant development

268:

Beacuse Corbyn is a terminally fucking useless prat, that's why!

They have just completely blown a chance to stop the Brexit thing in its tracks, as there was a fighting chance that if Lab could have been "whipped" to vote agin, along with the SNP & it only needed 9 tories to break ranks ...
Not going to happen now, thanks entirely to Jeremy's lunacy.
"Wanker" is unfair on honest masturbators in his case.

269:

"Corbyn" :: "Thinks"
You what?
OTOH, he has a brother, Piers, who is considerably futher round the U-bend - I had the misfortune to met him a couple of times, 20 years back ...

270:

IIRC the thinking behind the carbon bubble is that fossil fuel companies (and the industry as a whole) are often valued on the assumption that all of the fossil fuels they have access too will be pulled out of the ground and sold. So if a company owns an oil field with a billion barrels of oil in the ground and the price of a barrel is $50 said company would be worth at least $50 billion.

But due to green policies and the ever crashing cost of renewables like solar that assumption is very likely false. That £50 billion company might only pull $10 billion worth of oil out of the ground before demand really drops for fossil fuels. In which case the rest of their oil field asset is worth far less.

Given how large the fossil fuel industry is this is a worrying problem. It's obviously a great thing in terms of climate and sustainability, but we're talking about a multi-trillion dollar global industry. Not only that but plenty of countries are almost entirely propped up by that industry. If the bubble starts to burst and investors start losing money and pulling out the knock on effects could be huge.

To use the housing analogy: we might still have houses in event of a bubble bursting but if millions of people had their investments (including their pensions) tied up in those property values or worked for/relied on services that did we're in for a massive headache.

271:

Late Reply

But your smug arrogant condescension & assumptions that the EU is perfect & the UK needs to get down & grovel nicely is PRECISELY the sort of thing that provoked far too many people to vote for "Brexit".
[ Nearly convinced me - I'm a very reluctant "remainer" ]

The EU is as corrupt as Washington & doesn't even obey it's own simple rules.
I heard a striking example in a lecture yestereve from the female ops-manager for Freightliner as to why they operate in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Poland ... but not in France or through the Chunnel, because: France & SNCF point-blank refuse to play by the rules & no-one, anywhere eve tries to stop them.

Or why neither the bankers, nor anyone else will be moving any of their business to France: "Free movement of goods, services & Labour" is a sick joke if you want to live in France .....
What's the EU doing about this? Nothing.

272:

The bubble in the carbon bubble is the valuation of the oil and gas and coal mining companies.

Most of their financial value are the future sales price of reserves of hydrocarbons that are not scheduled to be extracted for 5+ years. Up to a few decades in the future.

If one of the following happens

a) there is a political decision that global warming is so bad that we ban burning fossil fuels

b) some new, cheaper energy technologies come along

or c) some combination of a) & b) then the hydrocarbon companies will find that they may not or can not sell those reserves and therefore those reserves are not worth anything.

Awkwardly the price of BP or Shell today is made up of the price of oil in twenty years time. If the price of oil in twenty years time is close to zero than the value of BP today is a little bit closer to zero and gets closer to zero every day. The fear is that once people work out that the long term price of fossil fuels is zero they start to sell their hydrocarbon related stocks and shares prompting a run on those stocks and very sharp price correction. Like any bubble it helps to be first out. As many of the shares in oil majors and coal miners are owned by pension funds and many of the debt is owned by large banks there is the exciting possibility that a very, very sharp price correction could lead to a general financial crisis on a scale to 2008/9.

I found this article on the current politics of it interesting.

https://thenearlynow.com/trump-putin-and-the-pipelines-to-nowhere-742d745ce8fd#.9bwk5ff11

273:

For values of "cruise missile" anyway.

Fritz X and similar were more like wire-guided Air to Ground Missiles. The Feisler Fe-104 relied on a clockwork timer to cut fuel at $time from launch, so would be affected by wind speed and direction over enemy territory. The A4 was a ballistic missile rather than a cruise.

274:

So in general I agree with the thrust of your argument, but I have to raise an objection to I personally would prefer CNG vehicles to EVs.

The problem is that CNG has a rather drastic failure state. A friend of mine used to work in a petrol station in Auckland that sold CNG. A car was being refuelled, and there was something flaky with the engine so the driver asked him to come have a quick look under the hood. The tank in the boot failed under pressure, and the resulting explosion destroyed the awning and front of the petrol station, blew out all the windows, and effectively shoved the front of the car on top of them, but fortunately the only person inside was in the bathroom so missed the hail of glass and the bulk of the car shielded the driver and my friend from most of the shrapnel. LPG I am very fond of. CNG not so much.

275:

Coming into this comment thread two days late, apologies if I duplicate too much. You originally asked 'Where am I wrong'. I'm not convinced you are wrong about end result (i.e. gigadeath, potential general fall of civilistation). I do think the analysis needs one or two refinements on assuptions.

1. You assume the 0.1% see any need for an active mitigation strategy.


2. Your analysis focuses on the current response of the dumb money to the issue, you fail to account for the smart money who are another level of power above those we see front and center today.

In addition to being very bad for the majority the impact of climate change is going to be uneven and disruptive. My parents (didn't of course) did the right thing and left me a few hundred million in a nice portfolio, a top quality education and a massively overinflated sense of self worth. Like any good 1980's portfolio it's heavy on fossil fuels. The 1990's come along, 'global warming' becomes a thing. By '95 i'm totally convinced. What do i do?

a) Don't panic. Life as a billionaire in our current world is pretty good. Divestment will burst the bubble and could push us over the edge. Meanwhile these are big companies. Their value is based on their dividend not their stock price. I just won't reinvest my dividend. In 20 years or so I'll have duplicated my fortune outside the industry while still having a big stake inside (unless I can persuade a sucker to buy me out, which is a way of divesting without the downside loss of confidence). NB note to self. Don't invest in insurance.

b) Hmm, uneven and disruptive - sounds avoidable and profitable to me. If i'm lucky i've read Mother of Storms, scoffed at the idea of a philanthropist sorting it all out but taken the rest seriously. I'll need infrastructure in defensible remote locations where climate is likely to improve for agriculture, well away from warm oceans and their hurricane tracks (and preferably above the 200ft wave cut platform of any ocean, but 50ft will do for the medium term) Central Canada and Central Russia look good.

c) It's going to take 25 years to quietly divest. 2020 is my target date. I need the response to global warning to be minimal for that time. Big tobacco showed me how. Deny. Plus I have an ace up my sleeve. Much of the environmental lobby are institutionally incapable of dealing with the problem via current technology due to their background in the peace movement. A side of nuclear FUD to go with my main course of denial is the order of the day. We need to capture a chunk of the media to pull this off.

d) Yes i'm a neoliberal.

e) Now to profit. At some point even the suckers are going to cop on and realise they've been had. They are going to panic. They are still going to be rich but the have not got the foresight to position themselves. There is a chance they will desperate enough to expend enough resource to grab power and try to defend the status quo. Defense and infrastructure would be good long term investments, plus mitigation for a while once enough people take it all seriously.

Fast forward 20 years. It's all going to plan. I've got a huge chunk of cash out. If i divest from oil now i'll be celebrated. Time to start looking at tundra properties. BUT keep an eye on the suckers (surprise! they are not all just oil and coal, one of them is heavily invested in coastal property too, dumbass) we can't let them spoil it now......

i.e. your analysis needs to include a powerful group who don't have any need to resist and are well positioned to profit. They don't care about mitigation per-se but they do care about reigning in the more extreme measures to ensure their mountain fastnesses with adjacent fertile plains remain comfortable for the forseeable future.

G.

276:

I'm using "carbon bubble" in the strict financial sense — there's a market asset bubble in the carbon processing industries which are horrifyingly over-valued because their valuation is predicated on business-as-usual being possible in the long term.

277:

oops sorry ..
a n other late reply:
But seriously, once the banking/investment sector deserts London for Dublin/Frankfurt/Paris
NOT going to happen.

Some to Dublin, quite possibly, for the reason given at the end.
A tiny fraction to Frankfurt, also possible.
Paris - simply forget it - see my post # 270.
And I can tell you other stories about trying to move to & work in France, even temporarily ....

There's another important reason why the finance market will stay here:
Common Law & the English Language.
As opposed to Code Napoleon, oops.
See also W Shauble's remarks on the subject.

278:

That's one of the nicest, tallest strawmen I have had the dubious honor of meeting lately. Could you please tell me where I have said, or implied, the EU is perfect?

Just for the record, the Union would have to be far more closely integrated, far better organized, adopt a true Constitution, and its Parliament would have to receive huge additional powers, for me to consider the Union simply adequately prepared to meet the challenges we are going to face. For starters we badly need the European Treasury, relying on its own taxes and answering to the common Parliament, etc, that would have made the Euro work as originally intended.

But let me tell you something: there is an European Court of Justice for a reason. If Freightliner has got a problem with SNCF (by the way, "refusing to play by the rules" can't be more blurry; exactly what was SNCF doing according to her?) rants aren't the answer. Lawsuits are.

And finally I don't understand exactly why you are so obsessed with France. Will you feel any better if City banks move to Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Dublin or Amsterdam? Because I think those destinations are more probable.

279:

Greg, purely coincidentally, from today's fishwraps: Brexit to cost 30,000 finance jobs, says thinktank.

280:

Martin089 wrote:
Can those of youbashing identity politics please explain what exacly you mean?

To be fair, there are progressives who believe that a change of strategy is possible without abandoning identity politics. I recommend Fredrik de Boer to those interested.

One problem I have with identity politics is the focus on what people are and makes them different rather than what brings them together. For example, I'm barely an activist but even I am hearing the rumblings about the LGBT community considering kicking out the gay men because they have too much privilege compared to the others. "United we stand but divided we'll do even better" is apparently their new motto - good luck with that.

Worse is that every issue ends up being viewed as an identity issue, almost always racial. Look at the number of progressives who blame Brexit and Trump on "racist" voting. Undoubtedly there are racists supporting Brexit and Trump. What about all the other poor and working class voters? An awful lot of progressives are content to just shout "racist!" at them. Others are going to try and educate them out of their "racist" beliefs, but since that isn't the reason they voted for Brexit/Trump it's going to have no effect and most likely just piss them off.

For a long and detailed examination of this, Slate Star Codex:
http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/16/you-are-still-crying-wolf/

And it could be worse. For the best part of a decade progressives have been talking about how race determines educational outcomes, how race determines economic outcomes, how race affects politics, etc. There's another group of people who also believe those things: the human biodiversity people, the segregationists, the ethnic purists. Progressives have made race a mainstream topic again. It's possible - I don't believe it, but it's possible - that what we're seeing is what happens when the white majority starts thinking seriously about racial identity. Progressives who wanted us all to become racially aware: you've got what you wished for.


281:

Actually, thousand bomber raids and the like were sound military dogma at the time. Total war and so on - you degrade the ability of the country to wage war not only by killing their soldiers but by degrading their factories, killing the workers and so on, and breaking the will of the citizens to support the military.

The fact that the German bombing of the UK, the failure of the Blitz and so on was, at the time, perceived not as a failure of the theory, it was a failure to account for the "British bulldog spirit" and so on. The fact that the reciprocal raiding into Germany also failed is what triggered the reassessment. It turns out if you bomb the fuck out of my house but don't kill me, it makes me more inclined to say "Fuck you" and fight back... which if von Clausewitz had a shred of understanding of the human psyche he might have factored in, because it really doesn't need much of an understanding of human nature to see that. It wasn't a uniquely British thing, it might not be universal but a lot of people will react that way.

In fairness, although there are exceptions, precision bombing wasn't available to von Clausewitz, nor really to the Luftwaffe nor Bomber Command. While I don't want to see pre-nuclear WWIII, it would be interesting to see how we managed in a non-proxy war where there isn't massive air superiority too.

282:

The Feisler Fe-104 relied on a clockwork timer

Assuming you mean the Fieseler Fi-103 — aka the V1 — there's one of those on its launching ramp pointed at our house. I'm hoping they really did make sure the tanks were drained.

As a cruise missile, I think they count as the crudest, most low-tech example possible. Sure, by later standards it was laughably inaccurate and its autopilot was only designed to fly a single course on a mission, but the concept of an autonomous aircraft that flies (rather than going ballistic) to its target before diving into it — that's certainly there.

283:

To me a "cruise missile" requires autonomous inertial or GPS navigation rather than "fly this compass course for $seconds and then switch the engine off and part-glide part dive in.

284:

There are other types of battery than Li-ion batteries that have been developed, mostly for static power storage. I have in mind Sodium sulphur and Lithium- Bromine batteries. Neither of these are suitable for transport (except possibly ships) as the former works at 300-350° C and contains molten Sodium, the latter uses elemental Bromine, which is not a “nice” element to have spilt. A quick scan of Wikipedia suggests that most effective high capacity batteries will involve unpleasant chemistry. The main problem with new super batteries appears to me to be thermodynamics. All the thermodynamically easy systems have been tried which only leaves unpleasant systems. I suggest that battery improvement will be incremental rather than breakthrough e.g. there is a design of Sodium Sulphur battery which operates at 150° C but contains Caesium as a dopant in the Sodium.
In terms of pure storage of energy, pumped water storage has been mentioned but I recall the use of compressed air storage- a suitable cavern or cave in a salt dome is filled with very high pressure air which can be released to drive a turbine when needed. It does not have to be a salt dome, just an impermeable rock void i.e. there is no requirement for lakes (and the voids can be manufactured with clean fusion weapons)

285:

In fairness, although there are exceptions, precision bombing wasn't available to von Clausewitz,

Well, if it had been, the Napoleonic wars would have ended much earlier, wouldn't they?

(Carl von Clausewitz, 1 June 1780 – 16 November 1831.)

Less facetiously, I think you need to blame Giulio Douhet for this one.

286:

I am wondering how cheaply we could build V-1s these days. Kitted out with a Raspberry Pi and DGPS navigation, or maybe a terrain-matching system based on published Google Earth images and image recognition (we have enough raw number-crunching power to do that shit in real time these days).

I suspect a modern V-1 with, say, £100-worth of electronics to guide it, would cost no more than a cheap car. And although it'd be easy to spot and shoot down, a few thousand of them would swamp any current air defense system except the really high end Russian ones that carry nuclear warheads (and which are primarily optimized for ABM duty guarding Moscow).

Note: The CEP (Circular Error Probability — radius around aimpoint within which 50% of projectiles fall) for the V-1 was on the order of 3-5km. I'm pretty sure with that notional £100 guidance package we could get that down to 3-5m.

287:

..... This sounds like you're predicating your position on the idea that the analysts managing trillion somehow don't realize that fossile fuels will one day run out.... or are you asserting that the market hasn't recognized something you have recognized? like a belief that technology advances in solar and energy storage will displace the fossile fuel industry long before those reserves run out and push fossile fuels out of the market early?

288:

The V1 could also be considered the first military drone. Cruise missiles are high tech, precise and very costly. The V1 was crude and primitive, but got the job done and unlike the V2 it was purposely designed to be dirt cheap and built in massive numbers. And to avoid the use of costly, scarce materials too...

In fact I read somewhere, I wish I remember better, that it was a far better and more successful weapon than the V2. The V2 was unstoppable and could be launched from mobile platforms, but because of that the Allies didn't spend a lot of resources hunting them. The V1 was definitely stoppable. Slow, low flying, noisy, launched from fixed ramps, could even be shot down by AA artillery and aircraft, but they kept occupied a huge number of soldiers, bombers, fighters and AA guns trying to locate and destroy them and their launching ramps.

289:

Petrochemical industry balance sheets reflect their fixed assets. If they write down tens of billions of dollars worth of fixed assets in the ground (oil and gas reserves) it's going to look really bad to their shareholders. And everyone over-states their oil reserves for the same reason — to boost their share prices: it's standard practice in the industry.

290:

Charlie didn't invent the term Carbon bubble. The concept has been around for a few years and big players from Citigroup to the Bank of England have given estimations of how overvalued the fossil fuel industry is (and how much of a threat a rapid bubble burst would be).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_bubble

291:

Nothing you can actually pin down, for definite ....
When DB Cargo, f'rinstance try to operate trains, as they are supposed to be able to, "delays" appear - almost never the same twice in a row & erratically, but frequent enough to make sure their contracts are shite, but SNCF trains never meet these unnaccountable delays, curiously enough ...
Rather like the saga of how the French/SNCF nearly managed to stop German-built ICE trains operating through Liege, on the Köln - Aachen - Brussel route until DB's engineers rumbled them, but it took a long time ....

292:

The Mandy-Rice Davies answer to that seems the appropriate one (!)

However, places where jobs are going to be very expensively lost:
Science & Agriculture.
The stupid, it burns

293:

Fair enough.

(Though you need to remember that the V1 was a "fly this distance" not a "fly this time" - that funny propeller thing on its nose measures the air distance it's flown. No clockwork involved, or at least not in the springs sense.)

Unlike you I'd consider modern inertial guidance a refinement. It does much better for accuracy, but the concept isn't too different. The V1 did have a sort of dead-reckoning navigation system. Winds would blow it sideways, or push off its distance measurement, which was likely a sizeable component of its inaccuracy, but the initial principle is there.

As for defences against a modern variant zerging — is it time for the barrage balloon to return? Optionally with Phalanx in a basket below.

294:

Modern cruise missiles, yes. But the same can be said about modern frigates and modern air fighters and modern most things. There is a strong tendency to add both cost and functionality as a technology evolves.

I'm not sure I could defend the V1 as a drone though. My view of a drone is a flying object that hangs around and doesn't attempt to impact anything — pretty much the opposite of something that flies as directly as it can into its target.

295:

ok. So you know they probably overstate their reserves. The banks know they probably overstate their reserves. The banks have written public reports on this. Investors and shareholders know... but are ignoring it to their own detriment rather than, just for example, being better at estimating the risks than you or I and accounting for it in their prices?

296:

Not withstanding any overstatement from the OPEC countries its worth familiarising ourselves with the difference between Reserves and Resources.

One or the more fun articles is below - although most viewers of this blog wont agree with the authors economic views...

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/05/31/rare_metals_mineral_reserves_talk_preamble/


297:

If I dump my Carbon stocks now, and the bubble continues for, say, another US Presidential election cycle, then I lose money and look like an idiot. If I am a professional investment consultant this is bad for my career.

If I wait until it is late, or even too late, then I can shrug and say that no one - not even science fiction authors! - could have predicted it. Look, everyone got burnt. It was common knowledge that this sector was fine, it all came out of nowhere. A black swan event. What, you wanted me to dump profitable investments? That would be bonkers. etc.

298:

You're argument would be stronger if you specified who you are replying to...

299:

Very good points, tough I'd say a suicide aircraft is still an aircraft and a suicide drone is still a drone. And a SpaceX rocket that returns to base and lands is still a... uhmmm, a rocket but not a missile? I guess our definitions aren´t so clear as we would like.

'is it time for the barrage balloon to return?'

Now that would be a sight to behold! May I ask some searchlights too, please? :?

300:

Do not feed the (banned) drive-by.

301:

Douhet had a house in Rome, near St. Peter's. With a stone with his name written on. Wife wonder why every time I pass in front of it I either spit or mutter curses the "May you burn in hell" variety :-)

302:

Re: THESUNTHESUNTHESUN

I'd pull out the old LMGTFY, except it turns out that G isn't actually very good at returning useful information on the subject, so I'll just come out and tell you anyway (assuming there is still at least one person who hasn't found out where it is from, of course. apologies for the spam if there isn't such a person).

It is a reference to a nice little computer game called Sunless Sea (tagline, "lose your mind, eat your crew, die") which has some entertaining worldbuilding. The actual meaning of the reference is a bit more complex, but I'm sure you can find that out for yourself now you know where to look.

303:

Charlie, a guy in New Zealand was building a home brew pulsejet powered, GPS guided cruise missile in 2003. Astonishingly, the police and government weren't keen.

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/06/05/1054700308768.html

Those of you interested in drones, (and Air Force targeting policies, automated AI interpreted aerial surveillance and comically corrupt, dysfunctional Pentagon procurement practices) will likely be very, very interested in the recent book Kill Chain: Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins by Andrew Cockburn.

https://www.versobooks.com/books/2164-kill-chain

It's a history from Vietnam to the present, very insightful, very readable.

304:

Aircraft - flies, normally under control of a pilot who is in the machine. This would include the Fe-104 (piloted version of the Fi-103 aka V1), and the Japanese Baku kamikaze machine.
Drone - "meedja" name for what is more correctly referred to as an "Uninhabited Arial Vehicle", which is flown by a pilot remotely.
Rocket - Supported or driven by thrust, uninhabited and unguided.
Missile - Supported or driven by thrust, and navigated by a guidance system, which can include visual, radar, inertial guidance or GPS positioning.

305:

From Samuel Taylor Coleridge "Kubla Khan" lines 3..5:-

"Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea."?

Line 5 was also used as the title of a post apocalyptic novel by David Graham, and of a fantasy novel by Lin carter.

306:

Are they ignoring it? The dividend yield on both Shell and BP are well north of 6%. That's more than double what you'd expect for a 'safe' company. i.e the share prices of both of those companies is about half what you'd expect if the market thought they were good 'long term' bets (long term for stock markets being 2-3 years of course). For Exxon Mobil it's down at 3.6%. Not great but nothing like as high as the european companies.

307:

The hoary old topic of solar and batteries has been brought up and argued here in many threads passim ad nauseam, so there's probably not much more I can add that's of any value.

That said, I'll do it anyway (and add a dig about the very important difference between mW and MW when writing about power).

The 1% efficiency quoted by Daniel Duffy above (and in past threads, I recall) doesn't quite tell the whole story, because there are quite a few things that need reasonable amounts of electrical power but don't need to be run continuously, or even necessarily on a regular schedule. Forecast for tomorrow (or later in the week) looking good? Great! crank up the aircon, heat up the kilns, chill your freezer right down, run your biggest machine tools, fire up the plasma gasifiers, the biodiesel vats, your storage heaters, your desalinator, whatever. You don't even need a massive nationwide connected smart grid to get this idea off the ground. People with domestic solar already take steps to modify their household power consumption according to the amount of oomph coming out of their PV setup, after all.

Also worth noting that a fair amount of gadgetry these days runs on DC internally, and requires (another layer of loss-inducing) switch-mode power supplies to give them the 12v or 5v (or whatever) that they really want. Whilst the notion of having high-power DC lines run through my house does not fill me with the happies, one might have a think about how the workings of modern power-hungry commercial enterprises like datacentres could be changed to suit (as an aside, plenty of telecoms-grade stuff is already designed to run off battery power).

308:

Oh, god, here he goes again.

Greg, Alatriste simply pointed out some evident truths -- your claim that:

if only because no-one, least of all the other net contributor nations wants us to go, because theor bills will get significantly bigger.

is total bollocks. The "bills" are absurdly small, the UK's small contribution to the EU's tiny budget will have nothing to do with any negotiations.

There is real anger in the EU27 that the UK is wasting our fucking time. There are serious problems to be dealt with and you bunch of Trump wanabees are a stupid, unnecessary distraction.

As for:

"Free movement of goods, services & Labour" is a sick joke if you want to live in France

It worked for me.

309:

That was a joke. I hadn't the foggiest what she was referencing.

310:
SNCF trains never meet these unnaccountable delays, curiously enough
Oh, that explains the incredible success of SNCF's freight division.

Rubbish. French railways are run on the opposite principle from Amtrack -- passenger services get priority. DB trains get delayed, but so does SNCF freight. Yes, that is no way to run a (freight) railway, but until someone brings a successful suit against them in the ECJ it's all just whining.

(P.S. I work in the French road haulage industry -- my clients include German truckers, there is no discrimination against them, in fact the usual whine is that the Poles are stealing all the business).

311:
is it time for the barrage balloon to return?

JLENS. A bit expensive, and a bit crap. Maybe TARS, but that's more for drugs'n'wetbacks.

[[ html fixed - mod ]]

312:

Ahem. If the buyer is the Ranting Orange Shitgibbon, then the Rosneft sale serves a very useful purpose for the Kremlin insofar as it gives the ROS a really strong incentive not to go to war with Russia. (Not to mention its utility as leverage over him.)

All perfectly plausible, but the same could be said for Exxon Mobil/ Tillerson, or anywhere Russia would like to set up a Naval base. Qatar has been mentioned, though likely just as an intermediary or locale for a front company. Also, I doubt Lord Dampnut could afford 19%, and it seems excessive as a straight, gifted bribe, even after a bunch of laundering middle-men take their cut.

If it is Dampnut, I'm a fan of intricately plotted novels about con-men who find that they are the mark. Or the patsy. I won't be surprised if the Kremlin decides it needs to nationalize the oil industry four years from now. Who could complain?

313:

The biggest thing is that renewable energy run for energy production rather than for warm fuzzies is about locality, locality and locality. The efficiency of long distance power transmission is a great deal better than that of batteries. If you are serious about powering Berlin with solar, you don't build a plant in Berlin, you build one in the Sahara. No seasonal variation, twelve hours of sunlight > 300 days a year, far lower land costs, much higher insulation, ect, ect You still need storage and backup, but you need far, far less of it because the flow of electricity production is more consistent. This has political implications, because it means if Europe wants solar electricity, it needs at least one reliable partner south of the med, because thousand kilometer cables may be cheap, but the place you get your electricity for pretty much has to be a part of your overall political settlement - That is, for solar to really work, we're talking about ultimately expanding the EU south.

.. It also means that the Orange pissing of Mexico is a long term idiotic move - the best locations for solar production in the americas are in Mexico.

314:

I think that, as well as barrage Balloons, thought could be given to what Wikipedia calls unrotated projectiles but I remember as parachute and Cable (PAC):-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unrotated_projectile

I also thought, from memory, that PAC was designed to stop dive bombers and as well as the mine, carried a long cable to foul on the dive bomber and cause it to crash(or take avoiding action).I would suggest it is a cheap anti-low level drone weapon

315:

that the UK is wasting our fucking time
There, I would agree with you (!)
And ours, as well ......

316:

I appreciate the sarcasm, because it's so true & pathetic, but, nonetheless, that is apparently what happens.
Internal foreign competition NOT wanted in the French "market" ( anywhere )

317:

"back in the 1970s when the climate scientists thought we were headed for a new Ice Age"

This isn't true.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/06/that-70s-myth-did-climate-science-really-call-for-a-coming-ice-age/

318:

That's still a part-truth; if you look at how those same papers were reported by the news meedja rather than their content (like most people will have at the time) then you do have lots of "Scientists say we're entering a new Ice Age" type headlines.

319:

Thanks much for that arstechnica article. It's an interesting history of the relevant parts of climate science in the 70s, full of links. (I'll assume it's accurate and largely complete unless told otherwise.)
TLDR for those who don't read it; there was an argument in the literature about the relative effects of fossil fuel's injection into the atmosphere of CO2 and aerosols. Some of it was communicated, poorly and sensationally, by the press.
And then the aerosols-are-more-important camp lost -
according to the article, by 1975, in this article that needs access to read: Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming? (As assessed by retrospection.)

320:

Look at the article; it has roughly 5 links to press pieces on the subject.

321:

The electronics are a non-problem. Computing modules with all the processing power you'd need, GPS input for navigation, and accelerometers/gyros for platform attitude sensing, are so commonplace you can't give 'em away: all the mobile phones that ceased to be useful for primate status wanking when the next model came out. Actuators for control surfaces etc. are a quid a pop from China and the phone can drive them directly, no interface electronics needed; the most difficult bit is the fiddly soldering to connect the wires to the phone's circuit board.

Accurate mapping data, including relief, you get from the Ordnance Survey.

Propulsion unit: You could make a pulse jet, but it's a pain in the arse, it uses loads of fuel, and there's little point: you can get engines of a few horsepower for under a ton, usually attached to some item of shoulder-carried gardening equipment - for which reason they are also very light. A propeller is also needed, ie. a chunk of wood, a spokeshave, and patience.

Airframe: bamboo, old sheets, and string. A big kite, basically, without the line.

Radar signature is little more than just the wee engine, and you fly them low. Nuclear air defences are no good if they haven't got lots of altitude (or aren't being used over the ocean :)). And the lower you fly, the more conventional air defences get to have the same problem.

322:

And schoolchildren got it from their teachers, too.

Certainly what I remember from that period is that the pattern of previous ice age cycles was said to indicate that another one was due any minute (for geological values of "any minute", ie. some time in the next few hundred years). Whatever was really current thinking within the ivory towers, "ice age on the way" was what made it out of them.

323:

On electricity, I wonder what the world would be like with TOO MUCH. It's tricky to get there with the current setup for commercials and regulation since people seem to want a guaranteed ROI. So it tends to only happen temporarily; for instance, wind power in China's NW provinces. We probably need to do all of the low carbon routes for resilience. That's wind, solar, hydro, tidal, nuclear and so on, tied together with continent-wide intelligent grids. We already do supply smoothing, we need to add more demand smoothing. And use wide area geographical and timezone smoothing. And then some of those sources, like wind and solar have this weird property that they're easy to turn off. So add curtailment management to the mix. With all of that going on, the need for storage may turn out to be minimal.

What happens then, slightly longer term when we have TOO MUCH electricity? At the moment we have some kind of variation of Jevons where we have increasing GDP (probably) with static fossil fuel consumption (again, probably). So the renewables coming on stream aren't replacing fossil fuel, they're adding to it and letting us keep business-as-usual growth going a bit longer without using any more fossil fuel. That's still unsustainable in the medium term because we're still using fossil fuels and generating CO2 at the highest rate ever. If plentiful, cheap, low carbon electricity is to make a difference we need to grow the total supply faster than GDP growth. I'm not sure anyone has any idea how you pay for that, but that's what we need.

Of course that may be hand waving, Techno-utopian hopium. The LtG World3 models suggest that that kind of technical fix just leads to a higher peak and a bigger crash. There's also the seed corn problem (don't eat it!) that there may not be enough easily accessible fossil carbon to get us to the point where we don't need it any more.

Re #313. If Europe needs good relations with N Africa for another electricity supply, then bring them into the EU / European market. In fact let's stop talking about ???exit and talk instead about how we expand the EU further. Let's have one trading block, N of the Sahara, and W of the Urals. Bring in not just Turkey, but Morocco, Algeria, and all the rest. We could call it Eurasia!

324:

Very common scenario: railway company X and railway company Y have routes which converge onto a section of shared track. Legally, the right of one company to use the other company's track is established by Act of Parliament and favouring one company over the other is not allowed. In practice, when trains belonging to X and Y conflict at the junction, which one gets to go first depends greatly on whether it's X or Y who provide the staff for the relevant signal box.

There were various instances where the first day of operation of such arrangements saw company X chaining vehicles to the track, tearing up the rails, and deploying gangs of blokes with pickaxe helves, to deny company Y their legal rights. That kind of blatant action did result in court action and company X being ordered to stop taking the piss. But with the more niggling day-to-day minor obstructionism where the inevitable delays due to junction conflicts are made to fall disproportionately on the company that does not signal the junction, knowing it's happening is one thing, getting legal remedy is quite another, to the point where building a new line could be the easiest solution.

325:

Where did the "60% efficiency" figure for inverters come from? Wikipedia? Even rotary converters weren't as bad as that. With inverters you're looking at >90% for anything over "a load that's so small that it's no load at all". And you never operate them under those conditions; instead of having one big "thing", you have a bunch of smaller "things" and switch the ones you're not using off altogether, so the ones that are still operating are doing so in their most efficient region.

326:

Troll.

1. I will not accept anything proclaimed by a site explicitly proclaiming itself to be a sucker, er, libertarian. It has a intensely vested interest in asserting that no right winger has ever done bad, only good.
2. You appear to be asserting that I should be quoting him in Italian. That's a ludicrous requirement.
3. Any assertion that the concept, or the name, of corporatism wasn't out there for Mussolini is an outright *LIE*. I quote from wikipedia's entry on corporatism:
In 1881, Pope Leo XIII commissioned theologians and social thinkers to study corporatism and provide a definition for it.

The wikipedia entry on Mussolini also mentions corporatism, frequently.

Finally, I said, explicitly, that "he liked to quote", as I have read that phrase was written by an economist? I think, whose name I've forgotten, but was on the extreme right, around 1918.

mark

327:

About the thousand bomber raids... for decades, now, what I've been saying about terrorists is that they're idiots, that they are using the *EXACT* same playbook that generals in national militaries use: the idea is to "break the will of the people to resist", and after every goddamned war since and including WWI, *every* study shows that it does *exactly* the opposite, that it pisses those attacked off, and makes them *more* willing to resist.

It's *worse* than useless, it's counterproductive.

mark

328:

I won't be surprised if the Kremlin decides it needs to nationalize the oil industry four years from now. Who could complain?

The WTO could complain, that's who.

Much less complainable: suppose in a few years Rosneft unaccountably realizes that their oil/gas reserves are massively overstated. They've spent 3 years paying dividends to their shareholders such as the ROS, and their assets are so heavily leveraged that ... well, if the price of oil drops, e.g. because someone inadvisedly cut the spot price of crude by 20%, they might find themselves to be technically bankrupt, yes? At which point suddenly the Ranting Orange Shitgibbon's shares become worthless toilet paper, while the liquidators move in to take over the assets. Then a month later the price of crude returns to normal, and Rosneft is reassembled from parts under another name with a different ownership structure and nothing for the ROS to get his fingers on.

This simply wouldn't work in a country where there's a properly functioning judiciary and an air gap between the public sector and the corporate sector, but that's not how Russia rolls.

Plausible?

329:

Daniel Duffy noted: "Fracking is also better environmentally than solar based renewables."

Because earthquake clusters and contaminated groundwater are only problems for people who live in rural areas, and how common are they? If you can provide any scientific evidence based on research that was not funded by the fracking industry that fracking is safe, I'll revise my opinion. All the *scientific* opinion I've seen thus far suggests that although it's theoretically possible to frack safely, in practice not so much.

You're right about the recycling problem with solar panels, but that also relies on a plausible but unnecessary assumption: that panel manufacturers aren't required to design the panels to facilitate recycling. We're starting to see this in some manufacturing areas, and there's no reason similar steps couldn't be legislated for solar. Among other things, this would allow recovery of the rarer elements used to generate the electricity, which are expensive and environmentally questionable to obtain. I edited a few papers several years ago that suggested (for example) recovery of lead from lead-acid batteries was close to 100% in the developed world. No reason the same couldn't be done for electronics components.

Note that the costs of fracking are currently so low because the companies who profit from this activity aren't held economically liable for the damage these operations cause. That's the standard economist's approach for assessing young industries, but the free lunch won't last forever. Add that inconvenient externality to the industry's costs and fracking isn't quite so attractive.

Duffy: "As I noted in my other post, to produce the same amount of electricity generated by a single natural gas power plant whose footprint (including the employee parking lot) is only a dozen acres you would need wind farms and solar arrays covering dozens or hundreds of square miles."

Though your numbers seem reasonable, they're based on the false assumption that that solar power requires massive installations. As a single data point that I'm personally familiar with, my inlaws in western Massachusetts (relatively far north) installed a small array on their roof (about 5 feet by 10 feet if memory serves, but probably smaller) and are contributing net electricity to the grid; each month, they receive a small cheque from the local electrical company.

I saw a statistic a few years ago (possibly in SciAm?) suggesting that 100% of the U.S. could produce solar electricity for the same or lower price than grid-based electricity IF the solar industry received the same subsidies that the oil industry receives. Treat that as anecdata, since I don't have time to hunt down the source documents. But if it was SciAm that published the stat, it's reliable anecdata.

Duffy: "The economic benefits of methane OTOH are incontestable."

Yes, if you can capture it from natural sources (e.g., waste dumps, bioreactors) rather than from fracking. There's a problem with compressed gas, as noted earlier in this thread, but if you can economically liquefy it for transportation and use, it's a highly plausible power source. And far better to have CO2 emitted from burning CH4 than to have CH4 emitted.

A few years back, I proposed using abandoned deep hard-rock mines as a garbage dump for organic wastes. The heat would quickly turn the wastes into methane, which could be relatively easily captured and used to generate thermal electricity. (You'd probably need to line the disposal chambers to ensure that the gas isn't lost into fractures in the rock, but that should be an easily solved problem.) You see this done in some surface waste dumps, but an additional advantage of my proposal is that it's faster and relieves a large amount of the pressure on surface waste dumps.

330:

Nice analysis, but I think you fell into the common trap of thinking there are unexploited agricultural soils out there, waiting to be used.

To pick two of your examples, central Canada and central Siberia are a mix of coniferous forest and bog. Coniferous forests have soils that are acidic, as the resins from decaying needles have washed all the nutrients out of the surface zone. Farming there sucks. Bogs have peat moss, which is good if you want to live on cranberries and orchids, but sucktastic for grains and other real foods, which need a nutrient rich, dry, mineral soil. Tundra soil is all that, frozen, and you have to thaw it before you can do anything with it.

The second problem is that people tend to assume climate change is a state change, from cold to hot. Unfortunately, it's a stochastic process lasting centuries. While there are relatively nicer spots to be, everything will be in flux, food production will go down everywhere (due to the stochastic part of the change), and there will be a lot of uncertainty and suffering no matter where you go.

Reasonable investments might be in humanitarian projects: getting populations to stabilize worldwide (women's rights and infant care help immensely here), finding ways to consume that don't involve petrochemicals, investing in public health, and so on. The point here is that billions of desperate people migrating will overwhelm any system or refuge you set up. Getting the number of migrants as low as possible is therefore a decent investment.

331:

Re the dispute over the definition of "bubble": the real problem is that such disputes can even have any meaning in the first place. All the definitions are simply different arrangements of imaginary numbers - "imaginary" not in the sense of "multiples of i", but in the literal sense of "shit people have made up". I find it distinctly daft to be arguing over which particular variety of made-up shit is the justification for destroying the world without any apparent recognition that for the world to be "run" on a basis that allows any variety of made-up shit to act as justification for destroying it is fucking insane. Yet out of all the commentators on this thread it seems to be only W&omacron;dan Shodan (#88) who has even noticed that it is on that level that the real problem lies.

I freely admit that I don't have a bleeding clue how to even begin to sort it, but more widespread recognition of its existence has surely got to be a pretty fundamental step.

332:

the idea is to "break the will of the people to resist",

No. The idea is usually to pursue a strategy of tension. Objectives:

0. A small vanguard faction of radicals conduct terror attacks against the public, in the name of a disempowered but currently quiescent rival bloc

1. Terrorism causes public fear and anxiety and demands that something be done

2. Government (the real target) instigates a clamp-down, repression against perceived enemies, violations of human rights

3. Targeted groups then are driven to support the political goals of the vanguard group using terror tactics — the opposition is radicalized and mobilized, forming a mass uprising

The point of terrorism isn't to achieve change directly: it's far too small-scale for that. The point of terrorism is to provoke a massive state over-reaction, leading to oppression and backlash and popular uprising.

333:

Some of us might remember a magazine called "Survival Weaponry and Techniques", which was published frequently in the 1980's. One article discussed home made missiles using rockets and such, and said the next article in the series would tell more about the guidance systems etc. Oddly enough that article never appeared, I was rather put out about that, but now wonder if someone had a word. One or two of the writers claimed to have mnilitary backgrounds and connections.

334:

http://diydrones.com/ is a good window on state of the art for home built drones. Ardupilot running the aircraft (or boat, land vehicle, submarine, etc) and Mission Planner or similar ground station software for sorting out routes. There's a regular competition in Australia involving autonomous searching for a casualty in the bush and dropping a water bottle to them. OpenRelief seems to have gone quiet but they have plans available online for carrying relief supplies into disaster areas, and a payload is a payload.

335:

>Also worth noting that a fair amount of gadgetry these days runs on DC internally, and requires (another layer of loss-inducing) switch-mode power supplies to give them the 12v or 5v (or whatever) that they really want.

I was about to suggest a DC "ring" main -- with USB outlets. My lights are LEDs, my boiler's electronics are DC and whilst USB is a bit underpowered (5A x 20V) for some applications, it would still be nice to skip the losses in the inverter, if I had rooftop solar; the place could definitely do with a rewire.

And once we have a critical mass of houses on DC, we could start on the distribution network.


>Whilst the notion of having high-power DC lines run through my house does not fill me with the happies,

I'm probably being dumb, but why is it more dangerous than AC? 13A is 13A.(Or 20A is 20A, if you have a 20A radial main.) The only thing I can think of is that you won't benefit from the skin effect if you happen to end up between a direct current and its ground.

336:

Re: 'Speaking of inefficiency, let's take or example the Neuhardengberg solar plant located near Berlin; 145 MW nominal capacity 245 hectares (0.95 square miles). First off, the nominal power sited of 145 mW is the "watt-peak", which is energy production under ideal conditions. ...'

Okay, I'll bite - now please use the exact same argument to tell me why phones will always have to be plugged into walls - run on household electricity only, will ever only send/receive voice signals, etc. The change-over from electron receiving tubes to transistors to semi-conductors to printed circuits, etc. also happened and is continuing to happen. Key difference is that both the communications and electronics industries gritted their teeth and decided they had to evolve --- unlike the petrochemical industry. And considering that all three industries have been similarly closed industries with a handful of dominant players, 'competition' (presence/lack of) is not a variable.


Interestingly, the petrochemical industry shies away from any cross-industry comparisons when it comes to: details about as well as total amount of effort/money expended on R&D within that industry since day 1; total unintended/negative/adverse consequences - what has this industry cost in terms of human lives, illness, accidents; rate of exhaustion/replenishment and cost of clean-up, etc.


Basically, the petrochemical industry has positioned itself as 'unique' (esp. within the US) therefore not subject to the same analyses, constraints or penalties as other industries. Almost like they're above the law.


As for ensuring a well-paying job market for US workers - the other flag-waving bit that this industry likes to do when summoned to court: robotics are becoming more popular and commonplace in oil drilling esp. for remote scanning for maintenance, problems, safety. So far, there's still some need for a human to oversee these robots - they're not completely autonomous - but the petrochemical human job market declines sharply as soon as a rig starts pumping.

337:

Yes, R. V. Jones in "Most secret war" wrote that the V1 took up less resources to build and send flying than the allies were using to combat it, therefore it was a good job.
The V2 on the other hand was so complex and advanced and fiddly that it was a resource sink, and anyway the allies worked out that they could bomb the railways and storage sites and that greatly reduced the problem.
Didn't stop Antwerp getting bombarded by them later in the war, with launch sites much closer to the factories.

338:

>This simply wouldn't work in a country where there's a properly functioning judiciary and an air gap between the public sector and the corporate sector

No. But apparently the UK gives "70% tax relief" on decommissioning oil rigs. (It's mentioned in this Guardian article on Shell decommissioning the Brent oil field.)

Tax relief can be abolished at the stroke of a pen, eating into Shell's profits, and then restored in a later budget.

339:

Might as well call civilization a pyramid scheme or an outbreak of humanity. Both work.

Yes, this stuff is imaginary, and I was about to point out to Charlie that the stranded assets that are problematic aren't the unmined coal seams or untapped oil pools, it's the broken down distribution system and people walking towards the famine-stricken cities when they no longer have fuel for their farms or cars. Of course, sensible down-scaling would prevent most of these catastrophes, but being unreasonable is part of the defense of the bubble.

The other problem with civilization being a bubble, a pyramid scheme, or an outbreak is that occasionally it's not true. When cyanobacteria evolved, they were just a particularly noxious microbe. A billion years and much tumult later, they'd fundamentally changed the way the biosphere worked. Ditto trees (Archaeopteris, the first widespread tree genus, may have caused a mass extinction by screwing up nutrient cycling), and ants (which now dominate insect biomass). While all current signs point to civilization being unsustainable, it's just possible that it's an incipient state change in the way our biosphere works. Do we struggle toward that end, or not?

340:

You write: "Fracking is also better environmentally than solar based renewables"

So, are you actually being paid by the petrochemical industry, or just have stocks?

There is no other explanation for writing this *crap*. Let's see, I think it was the Army Corps of Engineers who determined that some earthquakes were being caused by fracking. And then there's the pollution of the aquifers and rivers, many of which supply water to municipalities.

But those aren't part of the environment, right?

Go drink fracking waste water, and come back and report on it.

mark

341:

It's one of those ideas that looks good at first sight but falls apart once you look into it.

The "one size fits all" bit doesn't happen. Different things require different voltages. Some things require several different voltages internally. So although a few simple gadgets might be able to get away without it, you still need some kind of converter in more or less everything - certainly anything of significant power consumption (TV, music system, computer, boiler, etc).

Low voltage means high current which in turn means lots of copper, and the cabling rapidly starts to get silly once you add the loads up. Large appliances (anything with a heater in it, nearly everything with a motor) will still need a high voltage feed to dodge the I2R losses in the cabling.

DC is harder to switch than AC as you can't rely on the zero crossings to break the contact arc. High currents make this worse. Switchgear would need to be a lot heavier and clunkier than at present. Ditto circuit breakers.

LED lights need some kind of constant current supply, not constant voltage. At the power levels concerned they are ideal candidates for a high voltage AC supply. I have taken mine apart to see what's in them: a capacitor of 1μF or so in series with the supply acts as the current regulator; this then feeds a bridge rectifier and smoothing capacitor, which in turn feed a series string of 100 or so LEDs. Efficient, no switching losses, and you could hardly get simpler.

Solar panels need a converter no matter what because their output is not constant. You need to present them with a load impedance that varies with the light level to maximise power output, and you need to obtain a constant voltage output for the distribution system. This remains the case regardless of the voltage or frequency chosen for the output.

(Skin effect isn't relevant to safety at mains frequency.)

342:

Oil exploration/exploitation isn't required to provide any safety studies before they drill.


Stanford-led study assesses the environmental costs and benefits of fracking

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/september/fracking-costs-benefits-091214.html

Abstract

Unconventional oil and natural gas extraction enabled by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is driving an economic boom, with consequences described from “revolutionary” to “disastrous.” Reality lies somewhere in between.

Unconventional energy generates income and, done well, can reduce air pollution and even water use compared with other fossil fuels. Alternatively, it could slow the adoption of renewables and, done poorly, release toxic chemicals into water and air.

Primary threats to water resources include surface spills, wastewater disposal, and drinking-water contamination through poor well integrity. An increase in volatile organic compounds and air toxics locally are potential health threats, but the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation will reduce sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, and particulate air pollution.

Data gaps are particularly evident for human health studies, for the question of whether natural gas will displace coal compared with renewables, and for decadal-scale legacy issues of well leakage and plugging and abandonment practices.

Critical topics for future research include data for
(a) estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of unconventional hydrocarbons,
(b) the potential for further reductions of water requirements and chemical toxicity,
(c) whether unconventional resource development alters the frequency of well integrity failures,
(d) potential contamination of surface and ground waters from drilling and spills,
(e) factors that could cause wastewater injection to generate large earthquakes, and
(f) the consequences of greenhouse gases and air pollution on ecosystems and human health.


[Article is pay-walled.]

http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-environ-031113-144051


Okay, let's look at old fashioned, well-established deep-water oil rig drilling and see what the safety status is as summarized here:

http://energy.mit.edu/news/risk-management-in-the-oil-and-gas-industry/

Testimony of Professor Nancy Leveson before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


Now imagine how well fracking is likely to measure up given that fracking has even less oversight than the offshore oil drilling case above.

343:

why is [DC] more dangerous than AC

At higher voltages, electromigration is a real risk. I've seen prongs bigger than my arm vaporized by short circuits caused by electromigration. (University lab partner was an electrician in a potash mine. When they started the drills lights dimmed in the nearby town.)

Opening switches becomes problematic as well. Once a current is flowing it will arc across the gap. I've seen fully open switches completely arcing. (Uni prof doesn't know what to do, lab partner shoves an insulator into the gap and breaks the arc, helpfully pointing out that you shouldn't do this unless you're wearing insulating gloves, which he was. Had a healthy respect for the current, he did.)

344:

Opening switches becomes problematic as well.

You can see this in the circuit breakers for your rooftop PV. When you read the specs on the circuit breakers the dual rated ones are typically 250V AC or 50V DC at the same current. Or, a 25A 240V AC circuit breaker is a little 1-wide DIN mount thing about 100x25mm at the front and 60mm deep. The same thing for 250V DC is about 20x the volume.

345:

Hey.
Daniel Duffy posted the same stuff practically word for word here, on this blog, half a year back. And was wrong back then by an order of magnitude. Paid shill or enthusiast, I don't care - just believe nothing they say and don't expect to convince them of anything.

346:

I was just going to call them a fossil fuel enthusiast. The odd thing is I didn't see any mention of climate change and why it would be a bad idea to just produce and burn lots of gas.

347:

Here's how to cash in on the carbon bubble, when you are heavily vested in fossils:

scout stuff that will be good investment after the bubble pops, hire experts and maybe get some stock in relevant companies: Nuclear power generation, batteries, intensive agriculture (you are sitting on former oil sand fields), salvage services (lot's of metal to recycle once the rigs go offline), electric Haber Bosch ...

Try to form a cabal with others in the same situation.

Have an ear on the ground to know when actually effective anti AGW legislation will kick in.
Sell your stuff slightly in advance, then cry that you need a government bailout.

Problem is, others will try the same and maybe start selling their stuff before you, popping the bubble.

So where am I wrong?

348:

Interesting comments re. identity politics. What you say you mean with IP doenst quite map to how I think it's 'propely' defined (SEP: Identity Politics) - which is why I was a bit confused.

349:

The issue with their definition is that it stopped in the 1970's, and since then we've seen a huge move towards intersectionality. The Standford definition only mentions that in a single reference, almost as though they want to deny that identity politics is capable of acknowledging more than a single issue at a time. Viz:

identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context.

A more modern critique of identity politics as voiced above, is that it has become far too intersectional and has lost the single-minded focus that Standford use as its defining characteristic. Insofar as a diverse set of groups can be called single-minded.

As, as others have pointed out, by thair definition everyone from the Godwin people to Trumpkin are hard-core identity politics enthusiastics and modern liberals are most definitely not, by virtue of their diffuse concern with justice in general rather than only wanting to help (say) Mexican-American veterans of the Vietnam War who are suffering from service-induced tinnitus.

350:

Yes
The very audible CLANG that occurred in London on the 8th of July, some years back, was a classic example...
"FUCK you, who do you think you are, islamist scum, we'll be coming for you!" was the reaction, right across the capital.

[ Later thrown away with both hands, when Pink Ken lost his marbles, the idiot, but that's a n other story. ]

351:
"Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea."?

Surely not coincidentally...

352:

Italian here.

a) About Mussolini actually saying that exact sentence (in Italian you could google for «Il fascismo dovrebbe più appropriatamente chiamarsi corporativismo perché è una fusione tra Stato e potere corporativo»): I could not find a reliable source to say that this was really a direct quote from Mussolini. Google will return some hits, but the sources are not exactly examples of historical rigor. This is not so important, though - Mussolini did actually speak of corporatism a lot even if he may have not said exactly the quoted sentence you reference. The problem is what corporatism is.
b) If I understand correctly your point (whitroth) is that sentece proves that fascism and corporations are one and the same.
I am afraid that in this case you are falling for what is called a "false friend" by translators, i.e. a word that is very similar, but has quite different meanings in the two languages (for another example of false friend in Italian vs. English you could look up Trivial vs. Triviale).
Corporatism has a very well defined meaning but, as Wikipedia explains, it comes from the Latin word Corpus (body): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporatism
In Italian "una corporazione" has a meaning closer to "a guild" in English. So if we were talking about "la corporazione dei fabbri" during the Renaissance, the proper translation would be "the guild of smiths" and not "Smiths Inc.".

When Mussolini was speaking of "Corporazioni" he was talking of "major interest groups, known as corporate groups, such as agricultural, business, ethnic, labour, military, patronage, or scientific affiliations, on the basis of their common interests" (I am quoting Wikipedia who in turns references this).


353:

What follows has little or nothing to do with the main thread, but we are past #300 and in the interest of fairness I'd like to mention it anyway.

I am not a big fan of Putin but Shodan's messages about the much touted decriminalization of family violence in Russia prompted me to try to find out more about this, so I found myself playing Devil's advocate on an Italian forum and with a couple of friends in private chats (not really fun to pass for a Putin's sock puppet or a wife beater just because you pointed out a couple of holes in the way media reported about it).

One of my friends (a woman, btw, and an American citizen) finally found something that explained this in a slightly more balanced way, and I am sharing it here: it's an article from The Economist, and it adds a few elements that I could not find in other western sources.

354:

Anyone from Australia care to comment on the current heat wave forecast?
Welcome to hell on Earth in Australia?
Forecast for 11 Feb 2017.
Also
http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/heatwave/#heatwave-forecasts
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/weather-heatwave-to-set-temperatures-soaring/news-story/513c1c3faa57f92366595d487a3f2e2d
Will this one be like the one that killed a bunch of fruit bat colonies in Brisbane a few(?) years ago?
On topic because OP mentions lethal heat waves...


356:

Not sure what to say other than "yes"?

For my area, it's looking like three days over 40 degrees C, but the nights are relatively cool (under 25 degrees).

http://www.bom.gov.au/nsw/forecasts/parramatta.shtml

Other places get worse weather, Sydney is often cool-ish at night even when the days are hot. Melbourne is somewhat more prone to overnight lows in the 30's. But the 5th Feb had an overnight low of 34.

https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/australia/sydney/historic

I focus on the overnight low because that's what kills en masse when temperatures are more or less survivable during the (under 50, say). If there's no real cooling period overnight the next day will be hotter and you're going into it with no recovery time.

357:

My personal response has been two-fold: we have a collection of water supplies for the wildlife that are out of reach of our chickens. So there's a couple of water bowls, but there's also a protected frog-bowl and a bowl full of gravel and water for insects.

For myself, I have built a coolstore in the backyard. I kid you not - it's a small shed made with 75mm polystyrene walls, roof and door, with a couple of small double glazed windows. Standard industrial coolstore panels. Cost about $5000 Australian (~4000 Euro, no idea what this is in British groats or whatever it is your using for money nowadays) all up. But a small "window mount" air conditioner (~800W cooling power but it's cheap so the CoP is very low) will keep it at 25 degrees inside when it's 45 degrees outside.

358:

One issue that's not well covered in the media is that most air conditioners are designed for a narrow range of both temperature and temperature differential. Many of them will simply shut off when the temperature gets too high rather than try to work with near-zero efficiency because that would normally be a fault condition in the condenser.

But that problem reflects an underlying reality - the refrigerant will only work in a specific temperature range with a given compressor.

You can obviously mitigate this by putting the outside part of the air conditioner in the shade, with good ventilation and cleaning the thing annually. But at 50 degrees or so your air conditioner will switch from being really inefficient to not working at all.

In Australia there's also of a tradition of putting them on the roof or a sunny wall and not cleaning them. They might stop working with a shade air temperature as low as 40 degrees (aircon technicians hate heatwaves for this reason - they get called out to dig redbacks out of the ivy that's grown over the aircon while the homeowner screams at them from inside that the PoS is still not working). And at our house the neighbours to the north have theirs on their south wall, and vice versa with the other neighbours... we get noise and heat from both.

359:

"Now" can last for thousands of years - turning the Golden age of Methane into a true millennia - especially if the Japanese succeed in extracting useable amounts of methane from frozen clathrate deposits on the ocean floors:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/25/business/economy-business/methane-hydrate-extracted-sea-japan/

I also share your enthusiasm for nuclear. If I were king the world would be like France, getting 90% of its electricity from nukes that produce zero GHG and can use their of peak kWh to electrolyze massive amounts of hydrogen for fuel cells. A thorium based nuclear program could meet our energy needs for 10,000s of years.

Despite what some may think, i'm also in favor of solar and would low to see exponential growth of solar to the point where it makes up more than 5% of our energy mix. Whenever it is appropriate solar should be used to the fullest extent. Who decides where it is appropriate? Market forces do, since they determine what is and is not an efficient allocation of resources.

360:

I understand and appreciate your arguments vis CNG storage tank safety. 3,600 psi storage pressure requires diligent design and retrofit of the converted engine. Was it a retrofitted CNG/diesel flex fuel engine? Was it the actual tank that ruptured or a blown fitting? But these incidents are fortunately rare. Disposal of used up batteries OTOH is going to be a serious hazwaste management problem that we haven't even begun to address.

361:

An inverter's operating power coincides with its voltage. For example a 100 watt inverter will function at 12 to 48 volts. As a rule of thumb, inverter efficiency increases with power output. At low current inverter efficiency can fall below 50% but exceed 90% at high power yields. Since most inverters are designed for high current conditions, typical efficiencies for inverters connecting DC generated by solar photovoltaic arrays is normally around 95%.

To measure these outputs and provide a means of rating inverter performance, Sandi Labs has developed a testing program which has been adopted and standardized by the California Energy Commission (CEC). Is now the primary means of rating inverters for use in PVC to grid power systems. Under this protocol inverter efficiency is measured at six levels relative to the inverter's rated AC power output (10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 75% and 100%). Each is then assigned a weighting factor (0.04, 0.05, 0.12, 0.21, 0.53, and 0.5, respectively). This is repeated for three DC power levels. Multiplying each power level by its weighted factor, and then adding up the results for each of the six power levels gives the inverter's weighted average efficiency. This value is used for planning and designing of renewable DC to grid AC power systems.

362:

"Because earthquake clusters and contaminated groundwater are only problems for people who live in rural areas, and how common are they?"

Actually they can occur in cities as well. The mayor of Youngstown, Ohio was bounced out of his bed by just such a tremblor, but didn't mind because of the steel jobs that fracking brought back to his city. The earthquakes are a problem if brine disposal injection wells are poorly site or left unregulated (as in Oklahoma). Brine management is the biggest issue facing most fracking operations.

"Though your numbers seem reasonable, they're based on the false assumption that that solar power requires massive installations."

They will need to be huge if we seriously try to achieve a carbon free energy base:

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/02/solar-power-is-it-for-you/

If we assume that 10 percent of this incident solar energy could be converted to electricity, supplying the energy used by the United States would require covering roughly two percent of the land in the US with solar cells—that's roughly the area of North Dakota. Since this is about 30 times our available roof space, supplying the grid with electricity from the Sun means building large solar farms.

"A few years back, I proposed using abandoned deep hard-rock mines as a garbage dump for organic wastes. The heat would quickly turn the wastes into methane, which could be relatively easily captured and used to generate thermal electricity."

That is genius.

363:

As for fracking chemicals:

http://www.chemservice.com/news/2014/11/surfactants-from-fracking-may-not-be-as-harmful-as-previously-thought/

One team of scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder decided to study the surfactants that are used in fracking fluids. They concluded that these organic chemicals are no more harmful than what is already found in common household products, as published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

To investigate further, the authors of the new study collected fluid samples through partnerships between their institution and Colorado State University. They used state-of-the-art mass spectrometry to analyze the surfactants in the fluid samples, and concluded that they were no more harmful than the chemical compounds found in products such as laxatives, toothpaste and ice cream.

"This is the first published paper that identifies some of the organic fracking chemicals going down the well that companies use," lead study author Michael Thurman, a co-founder of the Laboratory for Environmental Mass Spectrometry in CU-Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science, said in a statement. "We found chemicals in the samples we were running that most of us are putting down our drains at home."

Another reason why this study might be significant is that it demonstrated a way that researchers can "fingerprint" the unique proprietary blends of drilling fluids that fracking companies use. Such information will be useful in case of actual environmental contamination.

364:

Nitpick: The WTO doesn't deal with expropriation. It does (contrary to popular belief) deal with energy trade, but only in the broadest terms (MFN and the like). All sorts of things are legal in energy that wouldn't be in other sectors.

On the other hand, in a world of low hydrocarbon prices, Russia would be opening itself up to a world of hurt if it nationalized the industry. But that world of hurt would take a long time to materialize as it wound its way first through arbitration and then national courts.

365:

> All it takes is a 0.1% asshole who's betting long on Monsanto and who decides to help things along by hiring a couple of shady military contractors to hit up a Brazilian agronomy lab

Monsanto itself would have all sorts of pests in it's possession for resistance testing, so this kind of stuff could be doable with just 1 person, and really be a much smaller scale thing than something corporations do all the time (see Volkswagen emissions scandal where they had to have a bunch of actual engineers involved long term to implement their cheats).

366:

While the actual *combustion* being twice as efficient as oil makes methane sound like a superficially excellent move, I note that your analysis neglects to take into account the lifecycle costs. Just as a PV toolchain's environmental cost includes manufacturing the panels and storage media, and the disposal of obsolete panels and storage media, so, too, does a methane toolchain.

What does the extraction equipment cost? Some of it has already been built and hence costs no more than transportation, but converting our entire oil-based toolchain to focus on methane suggests we need a large amount of custom equipment.

How much energy is spent fracking the rocks to get at the methane in the first place?

How much energy is needed to manufacture the additional storage and distribution equipment for methanizing our current energy distribution system?

Most importantly, how efficient is the actual methane capture? I have seen photographs of wells crowned in flame, because methane overpressure means that it is escaping into the atmosphere much faster than any cost-effective technology can capture it. It does no short-term good to cut CO2 in half if we cook the planet through inefficient fracking. A mere 3% loss rate during extraction is enough to more than double (over a century timescale; it's worse over the short term) the warming-per-BTU from combustion. The biggest existential risk from global warming is a short, sharp spike triggering runaway feedbacks - which is what fracking-driven leakage promotes.

(Trying to find real-world lossage figures turns up
https://thinkprogress.org/methane-leaks-wipe-out-any-climate-benefit-of-fracking-satellite-observations-confirm-2ac26dd30381
Which is very much not optimistic for fracking's future.)

Fundamentally, while it may be possible to make an argument that methane is better than oil (after all, methane escapes from oil wells as well iirc), this only has a hope of standing up if existing oil equipment that would otherwise be used to work easily exploitable oil reserves is *converted* into methane equipment and the oil reserves stay in the ground.

The only future methane has that is compatible with our current ecosphere is extraction from sources that would otherwise release it into the atmosphere naturally on short timescales. Investment in fracking infrastructure is worse than useless, as it ties up capital that could far more efficiently be used developing the technology we need to strip-mine the flatulent slush of the far North.

As for the 'PV takes up too much space' argument - while it superficially appears to take up more surface area than petrochemical industry, we've covered at least 0.34% of the US in petrochemical infrastructure already (my back-of-envelope calc for paved roads, assuming normal roads are 1.5 meters across and expressways are 10 meters across. Other people have given 0.77% iirc). If coating 2% of the country in photovoltaics means not having to find new homes for the 6% of our population who live in Florida, then sure, pave North Dakota with silicon. (Or, more reasonably, scatter vast solar farms across the Southwest where they will have optimum output.)

367:

Russia could just take the approach they took with Khodorkovsky, the Yukos oligarch.

File a bunch of (cough) trumped up charges against John Doe (Ivan Doe?), owner of 19% of Rosneft. Then when John Doe doesn't come forward to defend himself, admitting ownership of the stake, confiscate the shares as a "fine".

Alternatively, John Doe might just be told that it's in his interests to quietly sign over his stake if he doesn't want certain videos and financial transactions made public.

Of course, this assumes that Ivanka hasn't been declared President for life by then.

368:

And the software for the GPS? Open source and maintained by Eric Raymond, therefore probably well-written and highly modular. The guidance package is a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino, you run the first few with telemetry and an evolutionary algorithm to train a very modest AI, which now knows how to pilot a miniature cruise missile. This sounds very much like a fun weekend project for someone who knows just a little more than I do about such things...

369:

Buildable in any garage in Burma, Yemen, or Pakistan. Gas-powered weed-whacker motor, fabric wings hardened with a little epoxy, tail-rudders actuated by a piece of hardwood, a couple sticks of dynamite covered with ball-bearings or even gravel, or surrounded by plastic bags full or kerosene. Tell a fleet of them to all detonate within plus or minus of such a location, they glide into the target for the last mile. If you're not in a hurry they can glide for a very, very long time!

I think we have a business model.

370:

"An inverter's operating power coincides with its voltage."

Sorry, but that's complete nonsense. An inverter's operating power is whatever you design it for, at whatever combination of input and output voltages you design it for. The range of feasible choices for operating power and voltage covers several orders of magnitude.

"For example a 100 watt inverter will function at 12 to 48 volts."

See above. That may be an accurate description of the 100W inverters in some manufacturer's catalogue, but "a 100W inverter" will function at whatever voltage you care to design it for. There's one sitting in front of me right now that takes 200V odd input and puts out 25kV plus a bunch of other voltages.

"As a rule of thumb, inverter efficiency increases with power output. At low current inverter efficiency can fall below 50% but exceed 90% at high power yields."

That statement has a distinct flavour of "c&p sales blurb" to it, and is misleading at best in the general case. You would expect to achieve 90% over nearly all of a simple inverter's operating range, and by combining simple inverters in numbers according to the instantaneous load you can extend the 90% region to cover 99.moreninesthanyoucouldeverwant% of the operating range. To be spending any significant amount of time in a 50% efficiency region is an indication of inappropriate design.

371:

It took me about 3 weeks once I'd ordered the parts. There are a lot of designs online, including some VTOL winged craft and a lot of flying wing designs.

Albeit I did build something with a payload of about 5kgs because I wanted to carry a DSLR and lens a few kilometres. There are some interesting tradeoffs for range, speed and carrying capacity, but one key fact is the launch forces you can apply. With a camera you really can't use a hard catapult launch, but with a more resilient payload you can choose a longer, faster hard launch or a shorter, more portable hard launch. The range boost from starting your flight 20m above the ground doing even 10m/s is surprisingly large.

Actually, if you are willing to belly land or you're not planning on surviving the landing you can save even more weight and cost. Fold-down landing gear is heavy and bulky, not least because you need more servos and output channels to work it. Props that either fold or lock in the right position to not hit the ground when landing makes for cheaper and lighter gear (because it's shorter), but add more cost to the build. I cheated a bit and used a linkage from the landing gear to push a pin out into the prop path. It meant dead-stick landings from further out but simplified the design and let me use a big, slow, high-efficiency prop (again, more range and more luggage).

372:

This is part of the authoritarian pathology. It goes along with the idea, also pathological, that those we wish to oppress have no agency, and can't do anything to keep us from occupying their land and making the rules.

373:

Definitely plausible.

374:

I too boggle at some of the statements made by that person. It would be amusing if he weren't so gosh-darn *serious* about it all.

To be spending any significant amount of time in a 50% efficiency region is an indication of inappropriate design.

When you're looking at dollars per watt and someone says "hey, we can throw away less of those watts for a few cents"... you don't have to be very smart to think that's a good idea. In that sense, every watt not thrown away by a better inverter is worth at least as much as the watts generated (because it doesn't need extra land etc for the extra panels).

375:
Open source and maintained by Eric Raymond, therefore probably well-written and highly modular.

If it's written by ESR I'd say "obscure and overengineered" rather than "well-written and highly modular". He's not exactly known for software skills.

"looks like FORTRAN to me" -- ESR.

376:

Under your rational and humane strategy, how about expanding work on other food sources, like insects and algae?

377:

Wōdan Shodan @ 37: The White Nationalist "breeding us out / genocide" cry is not a new one

Yeah, I remember hearing the 'breeding us out' argument in Macedonia in 1987 - the claim was that ethnic Albanians were deliberately raising large families to exclude local Slavs. The paranoia in the place was like a pea-soup fog.

Two year later...the civil wars started. I missed being caught up in them by a week. I'd been visiting relatives, who later told me two MPs turned up after I'd left looking to press me into military service, which would have overlapped with the start of the wars.

378:

Wōdan Shodan @ 50:

Science has long predicted that climate change would see a rise in pests / disease.

I went to a seminar in about 2012 on some modelling done on the Murray river system - I think they were modelling the impact of climate change, but it might have been on changing water release policy.

Anyway, there were lots of downsides, salinity, increased algal blooms, reduced water quality for Adelaide but there was an upside! European carp, an introduced fish that has been devastating for native fish, insect and amphibian species, and water quality, would see its numbers REDUCE.

Not that that offsets all the downsides of climate change...

(European carp are mostly detested here, but I suspect not so much for its ecological impact, but more out of a subtle racist sentiment. "European", and some people from Europe will defend carp as a good eating fish. Myself, they're ok to eat, but there are better fish to eat.)

379:

Beowulf @63:

Yes, for now they seem to be quite chaotic and disorganised. But that may not last. Bannon won't get away with a cute trick like the executive order that placed him on the National Security Council - they've set up a work-flow that will vet EOs before they get signed now. So they are learning.

Even if they do keep stumbling over each other, that could work for a sufficiently cunning leader. Harking back to Hitler (because Godwin's Law has been completely repealed), Hitler would issue parallel commands and create competing structures to foster rivalries. The rivals would compete to work towards what they believed to be Hitler's aims. IIRC. So you can get emergent policy even when the factions are not working together.

As for Trump not learning from his mistakes, because he doesn't admit to mistakes - don't ignore the human capacity for self-delusion and prevarication. Trump could change his stance on a matter, without the former stance having been a mistake. I'm not saying he will rationally adjust his strategy based on experience; more, he will be able to tell a story in which his mistake is not a mistake, and his new approach is not in response to a mistake. I'll point again to Bob Altemeyer's book The Authoritarians: Right-Wing Authoritarians have a higher disposition to holding mutually contradictory ideas simultaneously, without the contradiction causing them any worry.

380:

Eric Raymond and drones remind me of something I bumped into years ago fwhen reading about him, mainly his views on guns. I seem to remember that he at least earlier said that "an armed society is a polite society".

Now, if we have armed remote controlled (or autonomous) backyard-built drones, could this be amended to be "a drone-armed society is a polite society"? So you'd be very polite everywhere to avoid somebody using a drone to hear what you say and then kill you remotely with an explosive drone if they didn't like what they heard?

381:

Safe storage of "fuels" ( you were referring to CNG )
Like this do you mean?

382:

heckblazer @140:

So why did Trump act so hostile to the PM of Australia? Likely because Trump had heard that Turnbull was the head of the Liberal Party, and therefore assumed he was dealing with an immigrant-loving lefty trying to screw him over.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! Of course!

For non-Australians - The Liberal Party of Australia is a conservative, pro-business party, with some fairly hard-right edges. The name is misleading. They're forever having to explain themselves. ("We're not really liberal, except when it comes to business regulation.") Finally, the stupid name has bitten them!


Given the rushed nature of it all, it looks like they didn't do much research - viz. Sean Spicer's mispronunciation of Turnbull. See, a functioning Foreign Affairs Department (Dept of State there, right?) would have a briefing note with advice on pronunciations, possible misinterpretations, likely friction points, etc). I don't think they did any of that, thinking they could just wing it. So Sphincter mangles a name, and Trump gets his wires crossed about the "liberal" Liberal Party.

I don't think I've seen this idea run in the media here in Oz. But it's so plausible to me!

Deadly!

383:

Heard in this country 1955-70 regarding W-Indians, then later for other peoples from Africa & India & now "muslims" of course.

Every single time, as Charlie repeatedly points out ...
The microsecond you give the female half of the population a decent education & access to birth control, the sectional population growth drops like a stone.

Needless to say the arseholes pushing the above line(s) are almost always in favour of "Keeping wimmin in their place" in their/our own society ... & will never listen to being told that they were wrong then & wrong now.

384:

Also Trump has said he loves nukes and wants to use one. I could imagine that being related to eugenics or dealing with climate change in the most brain dead white male executive fashion imaginable.

385:

Same in Spain. General Franco's rubberstamp Parliament was organized along 'corporative' lines, in a system baptized as 'organic democracy'. But 'corporación' in English would be 'organization' or even better 'association'.

Under such a system MPs were supposed to be chosen in free elections (hah!), but not by the amorph, 'unorganic' mass but through 'organic' means. 'Families' were assigned 1/3 of the seats, 'trade unions' another third, University chancellors and majors of the biggest cities were MPs, architects chose some MPs, as did economists, lawyers, MDs, veterinarians and many other professionals, etc, etc, etc. Even a number of bishops, judges, generals and admirals were MPs.

In practice, of course, it was all a sham and the system a one-party dictatorship. University chancellors weren't elected by professors and students, but named by the Minister of Education, only one trade union was legal (and that 'trade union' included both workers and employers under full state control, another sham), only party members could be candidates, etc, etc, etc.

386:

I do understand the agricultural soils bit, but I didn't cover it. I also understand just how hard work it would be for those whose job was to create the soil (Grandparents were pretty much subsistence farmers in north pennines, Parent escaped for the 'easy' life as a teacher). That does not of course mean that nothing grows, just that most of it needs to go through some sort of herbivore before it is human edible and that means the human carrying capacity is 7-10x lower than what it would be if you could grow normal food crops. I guess he'll be being careful with the 50ft and 200ft contours because he's close enough to the coast to fish (assuming any fish survive). Wild picking llus (bilberry) is something of a family tradition on the other side (who came from half way up a welsh mountain). Also not an easy job and I have a feeling one of my favorite foods would loose something without the sugar, pastry and cream.

Refugee's. My thinking here was my 0.1%er was being a bit cleverer than his compatriots. Half of them disappeared off to New Zealand and now deal with gradually increasing Typhoon power. Others pursue a strategy of trying to contain in country of origin (a much bigger problem). Meanwhile it takes a long time and a lot of skill to walk unsupported to where I am. Only a small percentage will make it and they will make excellent soil producers.

And yes, it's climate change not global warming. It would all be a bit embarrassing if the north atlantic drift turns off due to all that fresh Greenland ice melt and his new home is not quite as warm as he thought.

Clearly my 0.1%er is not going to be living with all mod cons. I think he's thinking he's setting up a line of feudal 2.0 aristocrats with access to mid 19th century tech and a whole lot of remnant tech and practical science based advice to make that a reasonable proposition. And finally, just to be clear, in that society it really really sucks to be everybody else, just not quite as much as it would to be everybody else in the rest of the world. This would NOT be my plan.

387:

I have to admit the average debate in the web would seem to support what he said, but if all it takes to get polite discussion is a few thousands dead and maimed people every year, I'll take rudeness & profanity, thank you very much.

388:

I think you can't be more right. Actually it's already happening, fertility rates in Muslim countries are plummeting to European levels hard and fast...

389:

Beowulf @63:

Yes, for now they seem to be quite chaotic and disorganised. But that may not last. Bannon won't get away with a cute trick like the executive order that placed him on the National Security Council - they've set up a work-flow that will vet EOs before they get signed now. So they are learning.

Even if they do keep stumbling over each other, that could work

Although I share your worries, I've been heartened at how incompetent the Trump advisors seem to be. They're stumbling over each other, stabbing each other in the back, and then leaking their anger and frustration to the press and to Twitter. Bannon & Co. may want to see the outcome you're worried about, but it's clear that Trump has no idea how to effectively use the power he's been given. Moreover, I doubt if Trump, with is his history of ego and paranoia, will allow any of his followers—even Bannon—to become a threat to his egotistical need to be 100 percent in charge. Trump doesn't seem like a person who can learn from his mistakes—because he admits to no mistakes. So, for now, I don't think that Trump has the ability or talent to be another Mussolini, let alone another Hitler. Right now he looks like a wanna-be Berlusconi...

390:

That would seem to be some evidence that they are taking the issue into account.

There's a lot of knee-jerk hate for the finance industry but in reality they've got a lot of very capable people. They're not infallible but they're typically pretty good at assessing risk.

391:

Allegedly elaborate courtesy protocols developed in societies where being rude could escalate very quickly to duels (if you were part of the appropriate chaste) or just being killed for having shown disrespect (if you weren't).

As an example of this mechanism even modern day versions of martial arts usually still teach some vestigial dojo etiquette that originally could have made a difference between life or death even in everyday situations.

Personally I don't believe this would scale well in a democratic society, though, and so I do not think it would be a good idea.

392:

Agreed.

I think that you have to take in account a couple of elements when considering Fascism, at least in its own historical incarnations, and not just a general catch-all term to mean "oppressive regime":

- Fascism has its roots in Socialism. So it did try to guarantee better standards of living for the working class. This will not mean that they were considered "equals" to other members of society, but the main idea was not to just bleed them for every ounce of profit you could get from them.
- Fascism had no problems in recognizing private property and to work in favour of the rich: in fact, Mussolini was supported by land proprietors that were afraid that Socialism would break latifondi (estates) and distribute the land to peasants - but at the same time Mussolini always maintained the idea that if push came to shove, State would have the ultimate word, having the monopoly on violence (military strength).
Compare this with modern day liberalism where Corporations basically shop around looking for the best fiscal policies and the less restraining regulations.

So I think that the original equation Fascism=embodiment of Corporate Power (in the English sense of Corporate) does not really hold.


393:

Re: THESUN etc:

I think that WS was referring to Haydn's String Quartets Op. 20, also known as the Sun Quartets. In her first comment on it (88), WS said THESUNTHESUNTHESUN - obviously referring to the first three quartets. In her second comment (91), she said THESUNTHESUNTHESUN - thus referring to the fourth through sixth quartets.

From Wikipedia:

The quartets are considered a milestone in the history of composition; in them, Haydn develops compositional techniques that were to define the medium for the next 200 years.
394:

The overnight temp here was 33 (and it was 3-bloody-8 at midnight). The town I live in is somewhat of an outlier even for Oz, though. Think smack bang in the middle of the brown zone on BOM maps.

I'm just waiting for the aircon to finally conk out after being run non-stop for a whole week now.

395:

Eric Raymond and drones remind me of something I bumped into years ago fwhen reading about him, mainly his views on guns.

I've been on a shooting range with Eric. He's enthusiastic about making holes in paper targets, I'll give him that much.

I was much more alarmed (this was circa 2007) by his views of muslims. He'd read the Koran in translation and assembled a view of the muslim world-view that, well, let's just say I live in a country where you run into real live muslim people from time to time, and if Eric's outlook was accurate I ought to be terrified to nip into my local corner shop for a litre of milk. (If you replaced "muslim" with "jew" in his rhetoric, it'd be perfectly reasonable to call him an extremist anti-semite.)

Now, if we have armed remote controlled (or autonomous) backyard-built drones, could this be amended to be "a drone-armed society is a polite society"? So you'd be very polite everywhere to avoid somebody using a drone to hear what you say and then kill you remotely with an explosive drone if they didn't like what they heard?

Nope. Because an armed society isn't a polite society, it's a violent and aggressive one. If you want a polite society? Go look at Japan (with some of the strictest firearms laws in the world).

Politeness doesn't correlate with firepower.

396:

- Fascism has its roots in Socialism.

Mussolini himself was a Socialist, but the roots of fascism are easier found in Nationalism (not the jingoism, the Italian political party https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Nationalist_Association ), which in turn took a lot of ideas from French Action Française.
The "leftist" influence in fascism camo mostly not from Socialists proper, but from "revolutionary ssyndicalists" that followed Georges Sorel, and concurred with Nationalists in favoring violence as political tool, either in form of violent strikes, up to and including setting fire to factories ("coq rouge", "madame dynamite"...) or favoring wars, like the Lybian one or WW1.