Thursday, December 11, 2014

Joeri Rogelj, Jim Hansen, Dave Foreman. Seriously.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs)
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Jim Hansen: Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Consensus Gap Controversy.

I want to trace two rhetorical developments and one bit of (what might be called) enlightenment:
1) Four reports from Joeri Rogelj in 2009, 2012 and 2014(2);
2) A recent essay by Jim Hansen, 'Iowa roots: Speaking truth to power'; and,
3) The beginning and end of Dave Foreman's 'Confessions of an eco-warrior'.

1) Four reports from Joeri Rogelj:
Joeri Rogelj.Joeri Rogelj.Joeri Rogelj.Joeri Rogelj.Joeri Rogelj.Joeri Rogelj.Joeri Rogelj.
Aside from rugged good looks and an unforgettable name, and having a speciality which is (to me) at the very centre of the issue (namely: quantifying the necessary), his CV tells us that he spent three years in Rwanda. So: possibly a nerd but almost certainly not a wuss.

1) In 2009, before Copenhagen, in Halfway to Copenhagen, no way to 2°C (.pdf) Joeri is saying (quite unequivocally):
To constrain global warming to within 2°C, developed countries would need to cut their emissions to 25–40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 50–80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, according to the best available scientific analyses.

Unless there is a major improvement in national commitments to reducing greenhouse gases, we see virtually no chance of staying below 2 or 1.5°C.
2) By 2012 the message in 2020 emissions levels required to limit warming to below 2°C (pay-wall) has modified to a rather more ambiguous:
Finally, if the long-term climate goal would be strengthened in 2015 to 1.5°C, the 41-47 GtCO2e per yr window for 2020 might still preserve the option of achieving this goal, contingent on major technological breakthroughs in transportation or non-CO2 mitigation options or on a low-energy-demand future. Present emissions are slightly above 50 GtCO2e per yr (ref. 33). Global emissions would therefore have to peak and decline before the end of this decade to land in the 41-47 GtCO2e per yr window in 2020. In contrast, present unconditional emission reduction pledges would lead to global emissions in 2020 of 55 GtCO2e per yr (central estimate ref. 9) and thus do not constitute a robust path for limiting global temperature increase to below 2°C.
3) Earlier this year, 2014, we get The Emissions Gap Report from UNEP with Joeri's involvement:
These two statements are about side-by-each in the 13-page Executive Summary (that's 13 pages summarizing 62 pages):
To stay within the 2°C limit, global carbon neutrality will need to be achieved sometime between 2055 and 2070.

To stay within the 2°C limit, total global greenhouse gas emissions need to shrink to net zero some time between 2080 and 2100.
Clear it ain't! Not even close.

Given the credentials of the authors one would have to assume that the bafflegab is intentional.

It's not that the report is wrong or incorrect or unscientific - it's that it seems to be (is absolutely and without the fear of contradiction) putting the emph-ásis on the wrong syll-áble. The Glossary has no entry for 'mitigation' which occurs more than 100 times and which means ... (?) ... well I wonder what it does mean. I'll leave it to you to consult the OED where appeasement and palliation are too much in the definition.
4) Recently The Guardian notes another paper by Joeri et al:
The Guardian headline is "Cutting carbon pollution is the key to curbing global warming" which is such a total no-brainer ... (Doh?!)

The pithy-est statement seems to be "Our results reinforce that SLCF measures are to be considered complementary rather than a substitute for early and stringent CO2 mitigation. Near-term SLCF measures do not allow for more time for CO2 mitigation." The report is open & available and if you want to know what SLCF means you can find out.

So. Early and stringent reduction of CO2 emissions. He doesn't clearly specify how much reduction and by when to avoid "2°C or so" - and his 'or so' is troubling (it used to be 'or less') - especially troubling for people living in places like, say, Kiribati, Bangladesh, Tuvalu ...

What he is really saying is: Don't waste time on Black Carbon aerosols (and such), focus on CO2.
Question:   If the object is to inform a global population of the need for immediate ACTION and CHANGE, then why is the message devolving so radically and obviously?

Why not say it plain?
I put it to a bona fide scientist, Peter Sale, and got this answer (the complete web post is here).
Question:   Why is this word 'mitigate' not relegated to a role it is fit for? Who introduced it? Who was the first person to use it in this context?

Kevin Trenberth gets it - see here.

The bottom line is that the horizon for action has apparently receded from ~2015 to 2020 and thence to sometime after 2055. I say 'apparently' advisedly. If you are able to and if you do read all of these reports carefully and take the time to digest and reflect and appreciate you can see that the authors all know that VERY SERIOUS ACTION IS REQUIRED BEFORE 2020. Any lesser degree of attention can leave an ignorant and stressed-out reader (such as myself) thinking that, say, there is still time to dither with the highly-paid consultants of the UNFCCC.

2) A recent essay by James Hansen, Iowa Roots: Speaking Truth to Power: (& on his site)

I was at a meeting of activists, real ones, active ones, ones that are moving, where several people were (unapologetically) unaware of James Hansen's history with the issue; and where another discounted all of what Hansen says because he supports nuclear energy.

The first ⅔ (1,700 words) of his essay is an eloquent presentation of Fee & Dividend carbon pricing: "While a tax would depress the economy, a fee with 100% of the money distributed to the public spurs the economy. After 10 years national employment increases 2.1 million jobs! The simple explanation is that honest pricing of energy makes the economy more efficient."

Then he segues into nuclear energy with, "Finally ... there are other requirements. The crucial technical need is abundant affordable carbon-free electricity generation," and goes on at length (750 words).

Question:   Given the time frame, is not raising the nuclear issue the reddest of red herrings? And why even bother to bring it up when you have already got the silver bullet of all policy solutions in your hot little hands?

Dave Foreman:
Dave Foreman 1986 Berkeley.Dave Foreman 1986 Berkeley.Dave Foreman.Dave Foreman.Dave Foreman.Dave Foreman.

How could I live through these times and not pick up on what was going on? Have no idea that the likes of David Brower & Dave Foreman were on the go? Doh! What a fricken' dunderhead.

[The OED is unclear on the etymology of 'dunderhead'. My Dutch friend Vince explained it to me as the third fallback row of dikes in Holland (behind two rows of front line).]

1986 Rainforest Road Show (sometime well before the 'first' book by Bill McKibben).
Dave Foreman, Confessions of an eco-warrior (excerpts).
Dave Foreman 1986 Berkeley.
Question:   Without going on longer than I want to I will have to leave it to you to both: a) find the question and b) think about answering it. Watch the 1986 video and then (carefully) read the final chapter of his book carefully and just see if you can't guess.

More time & effort than you are willing to devote to it, I know.

Laerte: Prezado Senhor.
Dear Sir: Come to my party. / Dear Madam: No. / Dear Sir: Why not? / Dear Madam: You are a mythological being and my religion does not allow it.

Dear Sir: ... does not allow it. How convenient.

I hope it is clear that this is not a judgement of these three guys whom I respect and admire in the highest degree. Anyway, how could I judge when I have myself failed so miserably. Undone (all of us perhaps) by profound & ubiquitous ('general' even) cognitive dissonance.
Laerte: Quão conveniente.
Seri: Ecology.
Schema:   As I finish this off I see that the outline may not be as obvious as it could be. If there were an order it might be a couple'a older gents, Dave Foreman first, then James Hansen, followed by a young Turk, Joeri Rogelj.

One could expand it back to say, Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927); or further back to ... John Muir (1838–1914); or ... or ... quase-mythical figures, Ned Ludd (~1789), Wat Tyler (~1381) & Jakke Straw (as Chaucer calls him). We all stand on someone's shoulders. (And if not, we fall.)
Neil Young: Who's gonna stand up?

Here, listen again:                                                                    
  Who's gonna stand up?

   Other versions:
   A-and: Fork in the Road.


This final image is unrelated. It's from Luc Besson's recent film 'Lucy' which I want to remember.
Luc Besson: Lucy 'I am everywhere'.
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