Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Let's lynch the liberals!

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    Peter, your posts are like the script to a horror movie. Zombies ain't scary no more? Come meet this scientist talking about "your children's last days on earth".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Peter, your posts are like the script to a horror movie.

    I know! I feel like he's missed his true calling, which is writing for apocalyptic blockbusters directed by, say, Michael Bay or James Cameron.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I know! I feel like he's missed his true calling, which is writing for apocalyptic blockbusters directed by, say, Michael Bay or James Cameron.

    Or Roland Emmerich -- the Russ Meyer of apocalyptic genocide porn.

    Meanwhile, here's now not to make a rational public policy argument

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Come on, guys. Lucy will start thinking you're not reading her comments.
    ;)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Zombies and apocalypse porn no longer scare me. If I wanted to be scared, I'd rather watch political dystopia flicks:


    http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/sleeping-dogs-1977


    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Climate Change
    'Take a hit, or we're all in the shit.'

    Recently on our favourite (Ok my favourite) student radio 95bFm Peter Urlich interviewed Lucy Lawless about the 'Sign On' campaign and climate change. It left me wondering 'sign on to what?'

    Peter said that for him the most important thing is to find someone you can trust, then follow their advice. While this rang true, it's not so easy. As much as we all love Lucy, Rhys Derby and Keisha Castle Hughes (Whale Rider KCH), why should we trust them? Or at least why should we trust them say more than Nick Smith, who is after all our elected Minister for the Environment? Don't answer that last question as it is in fact obvious.

    Perhaps what is killing the planet is not global warming but debate about global warming. While we throw claim and counter-claim around, the fish in the USA rivers continue to change sex, Mt Everest becomes Mt Aspiring and the global corporations who have lead us down this merry path are still being given multi-billion dollar bail-outs and government guarantees. If anyone thinks for a second that Obama and co are going to turn up in Copenhagen with sweeping reforms of the inefficient and unsustainable auto-motive, farming, oil, forestry and high-tech industries, then they are more delusional than the climate change deniers.

    At the end of the day, are we really willing to do what is necessary? Perhaps surprisingly, according to Time magazine (Ok all you conspiracy theorists, get indignant about Time... you finished?) California is. Several years ago there was a video floating around of Arnie in an electric car made by a bunch of geeks in Silicon Valley called Tesla Motors. It was, and still is, cool. And environmentally 'cool' to boot. Being a man of action (or is that an Action Man?), Arnie introduced the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, which lays out the plans for the state to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Of all the measures being discussed for Copenhagen, this seems to be about the most radical, and it is as far as I am aware, already written into Californian law.

    Imagine if the person you ended up trusting on climate change was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger? If you think I'm joking, read the Declaration from 2 October 2009 signed by some pretty interesting people, who might actually make a difference.

    Astalavista baby.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    California is. Several years ago there was a video floating around of Arnie in an electric car made by a bunch of geeks in Silicon Valley called Tesla Motors.

    Someone needs to watch the documentary "who killed the electric car", which is set in California.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I have watched it. And all the water car, air car ones etc. Short term memory loss. Too much CO2.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • conseismal,

    my request i hope is a modest one:
    may the discussion proceed further minus the noisy
    - and methinks somewhat superfluous - references to "deniers"
    and how "delusional" they may (or may not) be?
    i mean, are we a coven of psychologists at work here or what?

    for there still exist out here those of us who are still wholly undecided, and for whom the barrage of new information remains a virtual spinning-jenny in the side, and who do not really need to be reminded again and again how despicable is 'the other side' and possibly also, by implication, how deep appears to have been buried the event of initial CC-consent on the part/in the minds of so many avid PA'ers..

    let's just get with the hottest Anecdata... okay?


    (& yeah yeah so i happen to i write weirdlywiddly style o' prose so deal with it, what are ya)

    Since Jul 2009 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    references to "deniers"

    I thought we all agreed on "denialisers"?

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Fair point. In some ways, although clearly not explicitly enough, that is what I was trying to say. There is too much information out there, and who should you believe? If I could edit out the offending words now, I would. Clearly these discussions are taken more seriously than I might have realised.

    The message for me is that current industrial practices are, IMhO, sub-optimal and detrimental to the planet, and the health of all species living on it. In many countries they are running out of the basic necessities in life, like water. Is that climate change, Western arrogance or just bad luck? Actually I don't care. I just want it to stop.

    The polarising effect that this debate has (case in point) is hiding the urgent need (again IMhO) for some significant action around issues that may or may not be associated with climate change, but are now critical because we are all sitting around debating it.

    It is undeniable that Africa needs more food and water. What is Copenhagen doing about that?

    By the way, on a lighter note, the Tesla Roadster is still very much alive. http://www.teslamotors.com/ They always planned the high-end performance car before working on a production class sedan. I'm willing to keep an open mind and I'm guessing Ford didn't build the Model T in a day. Maybe they will change the world.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I thought we all agreed on "denialisers"?

    Splitter!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report Reply

  • conseismal,

    (to denialise, or be denialised, that is the active/passive binary always retrojecting the series of bifurcations it has emerged out of, requiring us to always create another scene 'pon which the terms of the ((initiallly) right choice will not have been violated..)

    Since Jul 2009 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Andy - we're in more than broad agreement.
    I'm not really interested in stablising the climate. If it happens all well and good, but we should start looking for a better form of existence and plan for change.

    Beware of the Hybrid. They cost more on the enviroment than conventional cars. Bicycles are still good.

    My nihilist tendancies temp me to buy an early 1970s V8. The thought being, the quicker we use up the 'cheap' fuel the quicker renewables will come on board.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • conseismal,

    The thought being, the quicker we use up the 'cheap' fuel the quicker renewables will come on board



    precisely the same applies to our language hereupon..

    Since Jul 2009 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    I am sorry that pointing out using past examples of how badly the climate and the environment can get fucked up looks like a disaster movie to people. But time to wake up and smell the end of the Holocene I'm afraid.

    Lucy's breezy confidence that various aspects of the planet will save us from ourselves was so wrong it needed to be countered.

    NZ is actually well placed to survive. Being so mountainous we don't lose much land from sea level rise, though we do lose flat agricultural land. We can always do a miniature of what the rest of the world will do. Everyone decamps for the South Island (including Ozzies who don't fancy Tasmania*) and fill the NI with geothermal, Wind, Tidal and solar thermal installations then pipe the power the other way across Cook strait. By then robotics mean we can service it all largely remotely.

    *And of course our cousins from the Pacific whose islands have been inundated or desertified by the heat.

    By 'we' I mean our descendants. This is not going to happen even this century, but the way we are going it is becoming ever more likely. Don't fancy it? fine, just stop sticking your head in the sand and thinking we don't have to do a great deal right now to lower those odds to manageable levels.

    If the past teaches us anything it is that the climate can be stable at everything from a snowball world encased in ice to one where dinosaurs roamed the poles, which were heavily forested with lower latitudes baking in über tropical heat. Plenty of plate tectonics, lots of ocean, plenty of life and barely a whiff of burning fossil fuels to boot. It is all possible.

    Which do you fancy? You don't get to choose the status quo.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    I hope you guys like Rye bread?
    If the latest nuanced reports of a warming world that melts the ice caps leading to our cooling, plus sea level rise come to pass?
    It would be a good starch.

    Before that happens we need to work through the transition period.

    Isreal has already had the first water war (OK it was more of a skirmish). Most water wars are civil wars, at the moment.

    We dont feed our dairy stock from nz source feed, same with pigs etc

    Our animal feed comes from the cheapest international source, including GE and palm oil waste.

    And food production is based on fossil fuels. As fertiliser, tillage. transport and packaging.

    We should really start to move away from that.

    If suddenly our seas became too toxic for most life, the fish fall to the bottom, do you think the next civilisation will use us as fossil fuel in a few million years?

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    I should also point out that atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing only because the rate at which we burn fossil carbon sources and chop down and burn forests is so great that the oceans and the rest of the biosphere cannot absorb it all. They have absorbed about half of what we produce.

    So Lucy's faith that the planet and life will save is has been hollow since about 1850 when we began to seriously outstrip their ability to absorb what we were producing.

    For the source of this look here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

    Note that absorbing all that CO2 is acidifying the oceans which may reduce its ability to sequester carbon. This is because it sequesters the carbon when plankton that makes carbonate shells dies and sinks to the seafloor there to eventually form limestone. If the ocean becomes too acidic they will no longer be able to make carbonate shells, the chemical equations get pulled too far away energetically from carbonate formation. We don't know at which point of acidity this will happen (and it may well vary by species). But this is one of the tipping points, when it happens the ability of the oceans to absorb our emissions will fall markedly. If we have not lowered our carbon outputs significantly by then atmospheric CO2 levels will rocket.

    Since we don't know when that point will be reached, it seems prudent to curb our output as soon and as much as possible. Don't you think?

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Andy Fraser,

    text

    Peter

    Venus is solidly in the goldilocks zone

    Most people who try to link Venus with a future earth don’t have any idea of the atmospheric chemistry of either planet.

    We have inadvertently engineered a more stable climate than we might otherwise have experienced

    I’m the naive one?


    Just thinking

    My nihilist tendancies temp me to buy an early 1970s V8. The thought being, the quicker we use up the 'cheap' fuel the quicker renewables will come on board.

    So long as Hummers and their ilk are still running around in the US we’ll get there plenty quick. REAL action would be if we could replace all vehicles in the USA with Corrollas, fleet mileage instantly to 35+mph, and as Kiwi’s need to lead this change we’d be restricted to Suzuki Altos for the 1st car and bicycles thereafter.

    Invercargill • Since Jun 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    So Lucy's faith that the planet and life will save is has been hollow since about 1850 when we began to seriously outstrip their ability to absorb what we were producing.

    You implied we were on the road to turning into Venus. Or starting another Younger Dryas. Neither of those are particularly viable scenarios, given current conditions, and the Venus one is actually laughable.

    I know the climate can be tipped quite quickly, and in ways that would be deeply uncomfortable for the continued existence of civilisation, or even humanity. Continued carbon emissions are not the way to go, and we need to be aware of the consequences - and that doesn't include the effect of things like the way we've doubled the reactive nitrogen available to global geobiochemical cycles.

    But that doesn't mean the whole planet is going to become a barren high-pressure hellhole, and that's precisely the sort of hyperbole which is deeply unhelpful to public debate.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    You implied we were on the road to turning into Venus. Or starting another Younger Dryas. Neither of those are particularly viable scenarios, given current conditions, and the Venus one is actually laughable.

    Well, in about a billion years (well before the Sun really gets going as a red giant), not so laughable as solar flux increases. Venus, it seems, might have had oceans, and plate tectonics depends on oceans providing water to lubricate the subduction of the plates. In a real runaway greenhouse effect, the seas evaporate, the H2O breaks up under UV radiation, solar wind blows away the H2 and the O says hello to C and then we get the ninety Bar CO2 atmosphere.

    Meanwhile the saga of the ALH 84001 meteorite continues, suggesting that 'habitability' is something measured in temporal windows, not absolutes - both Venus and Mars may have had life, when they had oceans, but neither do now.

    Short version: three planets in the Goldilocks zone, only one is habitable, and getting a bit lower down into the nitty gritty of the habitability question, yes, a civilisation will cope very well indeed with the sort of CO2 and/or oxygen levels that have existed at various times in the Earth's past (me, I'd be quite delighted to see the giant dragonflies that lived when there were higher O2 portions to support big insects), but the point is the rapidity of change. To use an analogy, cars change velocity all the time, but you can stop a car by braking gently or crashing it into a brick wall. One outcome is fatal, the other not, so the loons who accept AGW but don't care and say that warmer weather is per se a good thing are... loons.

    According to analyses of our genetic diversity, there was a stage when the total human population was down to a couple of thousand, perhaps caused when the Toba supervolcano erupted.

    I'm very confident that "we" will get through "it" but the questions are: what exactly how severe is "it" and "how many in the end"? If you're Buck Turgidson, you might not worry about getting your children's hair mussed...

    I'm also convinced that there will be severe climate change because even with the best of declared intentions, all commitments to action will be watered down due to short-term political interests and we will have to live with the changes. Do we then end up having to terraform Earth through geoengineering?

    The thing that depresses me about denialists, but also about "progressives" is their refusal to think about the really long term because it's too "weird". The prospect of having to vote for the Greens who think that all will be well if we turn into Ents or live in straw huts and eat cold lentils is what is laughable... well, I've got to laugh, really, and it's damned hard work.

    Is that sort of perspective "unhelpful"? Sadly, I'd have to say, "yes".

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Kracklite - I thought that estimation about genetic diversity of the total human pop. was @10,000? Still awesomely small-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Well, in about a billion years (well before the Sun really gets going as a red giant), not so laughable as solar flux increases. Venus, it seems, might have had oceans, and plate tectonics depends on oceans providing water to lubricate the subduction of the plates. In a real runaway greenhouse effect, the seas evaporate, the H2O breaks up under UV radiation, solar wind blows away the H2 and the O says hello to C and then we get the ninety Bar CO2 atmosphere.

    Oh, sure, there are condiitions it could happen under. But as a result of human activity? I'd put it in the same place as worrying about a Ceres-sized asteroid crashing into the planet - could happen, maybe even will happen but a) we don't have the faintest idea of how to definitively stop it and b) there are a number of much more immediate dangers which need to be addressed first.

    Do we then end up having to terraform Earth through geoengineering?

    After having gone through quite a lot of the current literature on geoengineering (the ocean-fertilising forms, anyway) this actually frightens me more than anything else. The logic of following up dumping trillions of tons of carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere with attempting to meddle with the system with no real idea of the end consequences escapes me entirely, especially when it involves mucking with the bottom of the ocean food chain. One of the proposals involves urea fertilisation. Because that's working so well in the Gulf of Mexico, guys - OH WAIT. The carbon-scrubbing things are better, but not remotely economical.

    It's not that we shouldn't be investigating it, it's that it needs to be a method of last resort, rather than a handy way to avoid having to cut emissions.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    That qualifies as a "few", I think. Orders of magnitude and all that. Personally, and it's purely a gut instinct thing (but we know what comes out of guts), I think that if worst come to absolutely unfuckingbelievably bad, it'll still be millions who make it through any bottleneck.

    The best case is, if the Earth doesn't become an underpopulated wasteland replicating the post Chixulub impact biosphere (and we have already been the latest Great Extinction, no matter what happens), then its future will have to be as a garden. That sounds great, but gardens are artificial by their nature. Personally, I don't mind artificiality considering how sordid the natural can be.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    The thing that depresses me about denialists, but also about "progressives" is their refusal to think about the really long term because it's too "weird".

    Yeah, half the problem seems to be people who think 2° is a small number and a century is a long time.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

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