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Friday, June 2, 2017

Donald Trump's push to worsen climate change will reshape the world more quickly

Sou | 1:41 PM Go to the first of 66 comments. Add a comment

Why does Donald Trump want to destroy the USA? What is his notion of "great again"? Going by his comments today when he announced that the USA will no longer play a leadership role in the modernisation and restructure of the energy sector, he believes that to bring back smog and increase black lung disease is what will "Make America Great Again". He referred to Pittsburgh as an example. This was Pittsburgh in its heyday:

This is how the Mayor of Pittsburgh reacted:
Donald Trump is known to be racist and a xenophobic, as illustrated by his "birther" campaign and his efforts to limit trade with other countries and people's entry the USA. He thinks that curtailing US exports and making imports more expensive will "Make America Great Again".

With today's announcement, Trump has made it clear that he thinks destruction of the environment is an acceptable price to pay to appease 22 of the 535 members of the US Congress. Those 22 in turn were trying to appease their paymasters from the shrinking soon to be defunct coal and oil sectors.

Donald Trump has effectively said that the rest of the world can go jump.


Donald Trump, climate and the Paris Agreement


Thing is, climate change is not just doing harm to people in countries far away from him. It is doing a great deal of harm to people in the USA as well. Many people have written today about how climate change is real and harmful. We can take that as read. The science of it dates back more than 200 years now.

Others wrote about how Donald Trump doesn't understand (or pretends not to understand) the Paris Agreement. As Chris Mooney at the Washington Post pointed out, Trump didn't need to get out of it to change US commitments (and set the USA against the world). He could have undermined it from within.




Trump tries to set the USA on a very costly trajectory


If the energy sector isn't transformed and the world remains on an annihilation pathway (aka business as usual), the cost of attempting repairs and restoration for damage and disasters will be way higher than the cost of preventing them from happening. Since Trump and his corrupt cronies have indicated they want the world to burn, it's unlikely that Trump will agree to cough up for adaptation.  There is evidence for this. Scott Pruitt is busy dismantling the EPA and its monitoring and adaptation activities. That leaves recovery and repair. Will Donald Trump and the GOP approve funds for repairing damage from climate change, or will he just let American people rot?

The question now is how much further will Donald Trump go? Another question is how far will the US Congress allow him to go? Is there a limit?

The US Senate seems to have placed a limit on the GOP's plans to kill off Americans by depriving them of health services. Will politicians balk at Trump's plans to destroy the environment? Will politicians balk at his proposal that the US give up its leading role in world affairs?


What about the world at large? How will it react?


Way back in the 1980s I remember attending a seminar where people were saying that by 2020 China would be the dominant economic power. That projection has changed a bit, however it is now the second largest economy in the world by a long way, with India in seventh place. Below is a pie chart showing countries and continents by their gross domestic product (GDP) - as at 2017, from the World Economic Forum.



In the unlikely event that nations were to realign along continental boundaries, Asia would dominate world decision making. Although I cannot see this happening, it's clear that the USA is becoming less dominant. Australia (where I live), deals predominately with Asia and to a lesser extent with Europe. We increasingly export to the middle east as well. Donald Trump has been trying to excise Mexico and isn't that keen on alliances with Canada either. He is dead set against Europe, and doesn't think much of my home, Australia either. If and when the EU, China,  and Japan (maybe India) decide to more formally take on the USA, it will shift the power balance. That may not be as difficult as one might think.


A military confrontation?


Having elected an ignorant incompetent as leader, one thing America has going for it now is its military strength. Donald Trump is keen to build up US military even more, which indicates that he may anticipate a war with the rest of the world. Will the rest of the world be able to reshape world decision-making bodies without Trump starting a world war? It is quite possible in my view, but the risk is high.

Since Donald Trump wants to disregard the rest of the world and go it alone, it's quite possible that the US would not win a military battle. It is the biggest standalone military power. However with China not that far short of the USA, if China joined with almost any other nation, the USA could be overwhelmed if Trump were to lead the USA to a world war.

I agree with what you're probably thinking. That's alarmist talk. Yet in my view it's not too early to consider this worst case scenario.


An economic war?


A more likely scenario is an economic war. Donald Trump has made it fairly clear that he wants to wage one. He's also made it fairly clear that he hasn't got a clue about world trade, how it works, or the various agreements that have made it the way it is today.

A lot of people can foresee the day when countries that don't pull their weight with climate change (and the USA has caused the most global warming) will be sanctioned. This will probably begin with impositions on air travel through a fee for aeroplanes to land. It may extend from there to imports. A fee on agricultural produce and other goods arriving from countries that have not met their international obligations to mitigate global warming.

This is the sort of threat that must be occupying the minds of key producing states in the USA, such as California. Will Donald Trump succeed in wrecking their economies or can they mitigate against that happening?


Trump will shift world power balance sooner


The world's power structure was going to change sooner rather than later, with a gradual decline in the dominance of the USA. Donald Trump's multi-faceted war against science, trade, education, health, economics and the American people, are going to make this happen even sooner.





66 comments :

  1. Bert from ElthamJune 2, 2017 at 3:06 PM

    Donald Trump has not a clue period! Bert

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    1. I found something where he is a clue!

      http://www.funnyshirts.net/media/catalog/product/cache/1/large_preview/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/a/n/anti-donald-trump-crossword-puzzle-tshirt-large.png

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  2. No time for despair. Trump does not represent the best of America but the worst, the greedy, the ignorant, the fundamentalist, the authoritarian, the racist, the buffoon, the neo Nazi.

    A group of American states, cities, universities and corporations have established the United States Climate Alliance

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Climate_Alliance

    Wow. Wikipedia is fast. They had an entry up before the NYT had the name.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/american-cities-climate-standards.html

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    1. The US Climate Alliance continues to grow. It is now up to 1/3 of US GDP, includes the Republican ruled state of Massachusetts and more than 100 cities including the ten largest.

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  3. Whoopsie!... I think that the gravy train just lost some of its gravy.

    I don't visit your site very often anymore, but I couldn't resist the temptation to come here and watch your head explode.

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    1. Thank you for that. Its so reassuring to get another demonstration of the low mental age of climate change deniers.

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    2. I won't bother looking at the link: I don't have a web cam so you are clearly delusional.

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    3. Oh, the post is gone?

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    4. I removed the comment with the link, Millicent. Anon's self portrait was not appropriate for this website.

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    5. Its so funny, one day they are trying to be concern trolls. The next day they are just trolls.

      They just can't keep it up. In many ways.

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    6. The original anonymous comment was mine... the one with a link (which I didn't even get to see) was not mine. I'll have to remember to use a name here so my low mental age isn't confused with the low mental age of other people.

      I'm not a troll... just a dissenting voice.

      Trump made an election commitment to leave the Paris agreement and he owes it to all the deplorables who voted for him to do just that. You might not like him leaving the Paris agreement, but I find it refreshing to see a politician actually fulfill an election commitment.

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    7. "...but I find it refreshing to see a politician actually fulfill an election commitment."

      But your original post wasn't about that: it was a childish trip into the big boys house to go "nah nah nah" at them. Remember:

      "I couldn't resist the temptation to come here and watch your head explode."

      If you want to be treated as a grown up then write grown up posts.

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    8. Millicent, it's a bit of both. I get to watch Trump fulfill his election commitment and I get to watch your heads explode... 'nah nah nah'.

      Trump is doing what's in the best interest of his people. Allowing America's competitiveness to be destroyed while other countries (China, India and even Germany) are still building new coal fired power stations would have been insane.

      Trump is showing real leadership in a world where most leaders are wimps.

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    9. Trump's people - His people? All 22 of them in a country of more than 300 million and a world of more than 7.5 billion.

      skeptikal confuses bullying and ignorance for "real leadership". (What's the bet she or he is a big fan of WUWT, run by another ignorant bullying coward.)

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    10. "Trump is showing real leadership in a world where most leaders are wimps."

      You are plainly in denial. Being the fossil fuel industry's poodle is hardly leadership.

      The White House is in disarray. The West, which has always looked to the US for leadership, looks on Trump's US as an embarrassment on which we must turn our backs.

      You really need to stop watching Fox and Friends and get back to the real world. And do stop using the name "skeptical" its not appropriate to one of Orwell's sheep.

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    11. "...I find it refreshing to see a politician actually fulfill an election commitment."

      Except Tяump's not a politician, he's a narcissistic, sociopathic Russian puppet and he's simply dancing to the pull on his strings. All he's doing is fulfilling his treasonous obligations to the man who for many many years was a spy in the KGB, and who's interest in the orange buffoon extends only to who much money he can help Rusia make and how much damage he can to to the USA's world standing in the process.

      If this is the sort of action that "refresh[es]" you, you probably need to engage in some serious self-reflection and ponder on your (in)ability to think rationally.

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    12. You do realise that я is pronounced more or less like yah? Tyahump?

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    13. jk, exactly - if you say it quickly it basically comes out as chump...

      ;-)

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    14. skeptikalJune 2, 2017 at 5:19 PM
      "Trump is showing real leadership in a world where most leaders are wimps."

      Deniers are scientific ignoramuses. We have seen that over and over. But here we have a demonstration how, once they have gone into denial, they can use the same burying of their heads in the sand to deal with every aspect of life. Here's what Trump's "leadership" really looks like.

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    15. I am not a troll

      Yes, you are. Your original comment was devoid of any actual content and was intended solely to irritate. That is trolling, precisely. Sorry.

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    16. ... and it was anonymous. Even if you have identified yourself since. Apparently the "low mental age" description stung you out of your anonymity.

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    17. if you say it quickly it basically comes out as chump...

      Damn, you're right. I generally hate it when people use Cyrillic letters in a Roman alphabet context but I think I like this one.

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    18. I find it difficult to resist a linguistic play, even though I share your reticence about alphabetical pudding. This one though just catches so much for so little effort... :-)

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    19. @ Barnard J.

      I am having second thoughts. In my idiolect it seems more like tyawmp but that will still work.

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    20. Skeptikal.

      Well I guess we need the occasional troll just to remind us they are out there.

      "Trump is doing what's in the best interest of his people..."

      I beg to differ.

      President Trumps track record so far has been fairly poor, he has failed to do many of the things he "pledged" to do (what he actually pledged to do is difficult because his policies are all over the shop).

      In my opinion he is a wrecker, not a builder.

      To me his administration is de facto anyway - he got the Presidency via a technicality he did not get the popular vote. Never mind in three and a half years that can be corrected - this is one of the strengths of a democracy.

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  4. Just out of curiosity, why the need for sanctions against countries which "don't pull their weight", if renewables are cheaper than coal? Surely renewable powered economies can simply out-compete fossil fuel powered economies.

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    1. It's true that wind and solar are becoming cheaper than coal.

      The reason for a tariff or levy would be to help defray the cost of damage from climate change. If the USA (or Australia) isn't pulling its weight and meeting fair and reasonable commitments to reduce carbon pollution, the costs of that are borne around the world in increasing weather damage, supporting climate immigrants, costs associated with shifting climate zones (affecting farms, fisheries), and rising sea levels etc. It's reasonable for those costs to be borne by the country that's imposing them.

      One of the ways to ensure this happens would be for importing countries introduce a climate tariff on goods coming in from the nations who have reneged on their international obligations.

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    2. My point though is countries with more expensive energy will effectively self sanction - their exports will be more expensive, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.

      So if renewables are cheaper, there is no need to risk a trade war by imposing explicit sanctions, you could simply wait for Adam Smith's invisible hand to punish countries which didn't embrace renewables.

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    3. Sou, I will have to challenge your statement... "It's true that wind and solar are becoming cheaper than coal.
      "

      Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that coal is becoming more expensive than wind and solar? If the RET was removed and coal was not penalized for being coal, would wind and solar still be 'cheaper' than coal?

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    4. Trump is the one who has sought trade wars - with Mexico, Canada (NAFTA), China, the EU etc. The dropping cost of renewable energy vis a vis fossil fuels is helping. However, nations that work to reverse this trend, as Trump has signaled he's trying to do, should be made to bear the cost of the damage they are causing all around the world.

      Will it happen? I don't know. I think it's quite likely. It would be a good way to defray costs of the importing countries, as well as boost efforts to help developing nations, which are being hardest hit by climate change, prosper.

      Incidentally, it will be quite a while before Trump's words can be put into action, if he lasts that long.
      Trump can't formally withdraw before November 2019. I suspect he doesn't know that, just like he doesn't have a clue about what the Paris agreement is.

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    5. Sou, thanks for the link. It shows that even in India coal is being penalized.

      "The cost of new emissions rules increases the cost of new coal plants further to 3,890 rupees a megawatt-hour, or 3.9 rupees a kilowatt-hour, BNEF said."

      Would solar in India still be cheaper than coal if coal was not penalized for being coal?

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    6. Yes. Read the sentence before the one you quoted.

      The levelized cost of energy from a new super-critical coal plant in India stands at 3,541 rupees a megawatt-hour, or 3.54 rupees a kilowatt-hour, meaning it’s above the 2.44 rupees a kilowatt-hour achieved at the recent auction, according to BNEF.

      The "recent auction" low was set by solar.

      And read some of the paras further down, talking about solar in India as well as in the middle east.

      (Take off your confirmation bias blinkers, skeptikal, if you're not a professional or amateur disinformer.)

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    7. EW
      Does the US have an isolated atmosphere from the rest of the world?
      Does US pollution stay in the US
      What right does the us have to damage my environment?

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    8. Sou, if you read this article...

      https://www.thequint.com/environment/2017/05/18/decoding-solar-energy-prices-tariff-fall

      You'll see that the auction was for supply of solar power... only solar farms can bid. You'll also see that China is over-supplying India with cheap solar equipment. Solar farms are out-bidding each other just to be able to supply the grid. The article also questions whether the bid was financially viable.

      If you look up India's solar subsidy program through their MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy), you'll soon see that all their solar electricity is heavily subsidized (including a 30% capital subsidy). The tender system is designed to make solar look cheaper than it really is... of course they can bid lower than coal when its subsidized by coal.

      Solar only becomes 'cheap' when you tax and levy coal and use that money to subsidize solar.... it certainly wouldn't be able to compete on a level playing field.

      If solar really was cheaper than coal, then you should have no objection to Australia doing away with the RET... our electricity generation companies will want to switch to the lower cost generation without any government intervention.

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    9. Okay, but the comparison was with a new coal project.

      As for the solar subsidy, that's not for the same thing. You neglected to provide a link, however as far as I've seen it's just for household and community solar pv, like rooftop solar - and probably not even for household rooftop any more either.

      Large scale solar and wind really is already competitive with coal in many places. When you factor in the full cost of coal (including health costs of coal workers and environmental harm) and remove the fossil fuel tax breaks etc, solar and wind are no-brainers from a cost perspective as well as a health and environmental perspective.

      Human idiocy I accept, but I still find it fascinating. In your case, I don't understand two things, skeptikal. 1) How you can be a fan of Donald Trump let alone admire him as US President despite his woeful record and appalling decisions (and disgusting behaviour); and 2) Why you want to wreck the world.

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    10. @ skeptical

      It shows that even in India coal is being penalized.



      Would solar in India still be cheaper than coal if coal was not penalized for being coal?



      Yes of course solar would be cheaper at the “societal” level.

      The Indian Gov't is reacting to some of the external costs of coal and trying to deal with it. Coal-fired generating plants not only contribute to global warming but have significant health effects and other environmental effects. Just have a look at the air quality in Delhi where it appears power plants are a significant contributor to air polution http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/blame-industry-not-cars-for-pollution/story-wzXK7KskS8vEBqsSpL04ZO.html.

      A new report has just come out here in Canada trying to estimate the cost of pollution, widely defined, and to quote it:

      Pollution costs Canadian families, businesses and governments a startling amount every year. These costs add up to tens of billions of dollars at least. and Canada's pollution level is almost certainly lower than that of India. http://www.iisd.org/library/cost-pollution-canada.

      So if you factor in health costs and quality of life issues, agriculture and Uncle Tom Coblie coal has been heavily subsidized (and killing people) for decades at the very least.

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    11. Oh please, fossil fuels are subsidized as well. If people want pure market forces to win out, they should not be hypocrites.

      Treating the planet's atmosphere as a commons will lead straight to a tragedy of the commons scenario. Fossil fuels WILL have to be rationed sooner or later - they are too valuable a resource to be squandered carelessly. Some economic pain now will lead to much less economic pain later.

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  5. My original question stands Sou. If renewables are cheaper, even without applying tariffs to correct for externalities (though as you are aware, I have a different view of those externalities), why the need for punitive sanctions? Surely you can just wait for all those cities and states committed to renewables in the USA to lead the others to the more cost effective solution.

    You have more chance of people behaving rationally if you calm the situation, by not applying unnecessary pressure.

    Remember, if you impose a tariff on the USA, you also impose a tariff on California.

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    1. Your "original question" might still stand in your mind, Eric. Or are you just repeating it because you wanted to drown out my response?

      Move along.

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    2. Eric

      There is a great quote by Marcus Aurelius

      'Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”


      America has become increasingly detached from the world in recent years. Whatever the merits or otherwise of the Paris agreement you can't help feeling that the American Century may have come to a full stop as their cultural, moral and political legacy and leadership is swept away in the current of world events.

      I got it in the neck over at a recent thread on WUWT on the potential American pull out, pointing out there will likely be consequences that could damage their economy and the manner in how they are perceived by the ret of the world

      With Americas participation the likelihood was considerable of technical advances that would render todays renewables more cost effective, useable or, simply more workable by developing battery technology. Perhaps there would have been a push for better renewables, tidal, hydrogen, fusion?

      Any advances now are just as likely to come from china.

      we shall just have to wait and see if America has just made themselves less relevant as a global player

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    3. tonyb, Trump's claim is America was at a serious disadvantage merely by participating in the Paris Agreement as it currently stands - that China and other countries had far less onerous commitments.

      Trump's argument IMO hinges on the assumption that fossil fuels are cheaper than renewables, not including the cost of CO2 externalities of course - so this is an important issue.

      If Trump was offered say the same commitments which China signed up to, he would likely agree to rejoin - he wouldn't have any excuse not to.

      Obviously there are lots of considerations, such as arguments about responsibility for historical CO2 emissions, which I think I understand, even if I don't agree with them.

      But I do think Sou's apparent advocacy of punitive action against the USA is a little premature, as well as being rather unlikely to eventuate in the foreseeable future, given the economic reality that very few countries of consequence can afford not to trade with the USA on favourable terms.

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    4. Donald Trump could have made any commitment he chose, Eric. He could have changed the current commitment if he wanted to. He chose not to do that. That's why some people argue the US is better with him saying he's out of it (which he can't do for another 2 1/2 years in any case). By him being a coward and tossing in the towel, it's been argued that there's less risk that other countries will water down their own commitments. My view is that he's worse than inept and completely irresponsible. He doesn't see himself as a world leader, nor as a leader of the USA. He sees himself as champion of the hard core right wing authoritarian followers, and he sees the majority of the US population as his enemy.

      It's pretty clear that either he hasn't read the agreement or he is deliberately deceiving the public. Given his intellectual capacity or lack thereof these days, combined with his obvious laziness, I'd say the former is definitely the case. Given that lots of people have spoken with him about the agreement and explained it to him, I'd say the latter is also definitely the case.

      China has agreed to very onerous conditions given its state of development and the challenges it is facing. So far it's tracking ahead of what it volunteered to commit to.

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    5. Eric

      The Paris agreement has many faults and undoubtedly penalised some countries whilst leaving others alone. It also placed a huge financial burden on richer countries but with a net effect that will make a tiny difference to the stated aims-that of putting a cap on global temperature rise.

      Personally I think the Paris agreement was a missed opportunity for nations to come together in an 'apollo' type effort to make renewables far better, to create new renewables, to create the battery technology needed to make them practical.

      With 100 billion a year as the 'budget'for say 5 years, it is reasonable to think that real and practical alternatives to fossil fuels could be found (or even to substantially improve fossil fuels-whatever happened to carbon capture?)

      So paris was a missed opportunity to create a collaborative effort that was much more useful than CERN, and that would have a great impact on enhancing the lot of much of humanity and providing energy security.

      If America had stayed in, perhaps it could have used its clout to guide the world towards an 'Apollo' type way of tackling the desire for better and cheaper energy. Out of it they will have no influence.

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    6. tonyb I don't think there's that much potential left to squeeze out of solar cells and wind power. Even if you squeeze a few percent higher efficiency, you still end up having to cover an awful lot of land or ocean to produce your electricity.

      Countries like Australia might be able in theory to bulldoze a few thousand square miles of useless desert, but not every country is in this situation.

      Extreme battery technology might be interesting, though it would have to be a spectacular improvement on current technology. No doubt China will license such batteries if they develop them.

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    7. Three things wrong there, Eric.

      Australia's desert is not useless. It's an important habitat.

      A recent estimate I've seen of the amount of land needed to power Australia purely by solar panels, is less than 1000 sq km, not your "thousands". That's 10 km by 100 km.

      Technology does keep improving. Energy generation tech is improving along with energy efficiency tech. So does people's behaviour when it comes to minimising waste.

      A question. Do you prefer to sacrifice our precious water and prime farmland to burn up carbon for fleeting one use only electricity? Or would you like to see us use the sun and wind, both of which are effectively reusable for generations to come.

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    8. Eric

      I think that due to the limited range of renewables that we have tended to use, a 'one size fits all' sort of approach has been taken.

      Clearly an array of solar panels in a prime section of Britain's sparse countryside at our latitude and climate is not appropriate. In Australia where the sun and light levels are much better and prolonged and the population much smaller they might be worthwhile.

      In britains case tidal/wave/current would be much more appropriate as nowhere is more than 70 miles from the sea but the technology for that is lagging far behind.

      So I am cure that existing renewables can be improved, ones that lag behind such as tidal can be brought into the picture and other ones that are as yet pipe dreams -fusion? developed.

      In any case the battery technology needs to be vastly improved and this would have been a prime objective.

      Also an exciting international 'project' grabs the attention and is much more focused than thousands of uncoordinated efforts to try and squeeze a few more carbon atoms out of the system.

      if there is a practical and cost effective alternative to fossil fuel then it would die a natural death anyway wouldn't it?

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    9. "Remember, if you impose a tariff on the USA, you also impose a tariff on California."

      Why could not California create a new model of negotiation, circumvent the White House, and talk directly to the Paris parties? They're the 6th largest economy in the world - I'm sure that the Paris accord would be able to take that into account with respect to tarrifs, if California decided that it wanted to participate in emissions curtailment.

      If such a model could work and other progressive states followed suit, the coal-fueled science denialist nonsense would soon see the recalcitrant Republican states relegated to being Third World backwaters, and the GOP potentially forever destroyed as a party that ostensibly cares about workers.

      And to be blunt, it's really only the USA and a couple of its Anglophone allies that give a shit about the States retaining any status as the world's economic and geopolitical leader. Trump's just finished pissing off continental Europe and they're going to be in no mood to indulge US petulance, even if the progressive states try to dissociate from the rot, so it's entirely up to the US to sort out its shit.

      I hope that they do it soon, because at the moment Russia and China will be awash with rivers of champagne in response to the USA committing geopolitical seppuku without the relief of even a figleaf of honor to temper the humiliation. I weep for my American friends (and the rest of the world...) who have watched in horror as their benighted fellow citizens pursue ignorant selfishness over reason, and the sooner the impeachment starts the better all 'round.

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    10. Why could not California create a new model of negotiation, circumvent the White House, and talk directly to the Paris parties?

      Part of the point of the federal government is to make sure all the states speak with a unified voice -- e pluribus unum etc etc. So there are pretty severe limits in the constitution and laws on how much entities other than the federal government can talk to other sovereign states.

      But there's still room for doing some things.

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    11. @ numerobis
      While I agree with you but I am not sure that there is nothing that prevents other countries giving preferential treatment to any US state. I cannot see how there could be any reciprocal preferential treatment but still....

      For example, perhaps we could legislate heavy tariffs on US produce but with an exemption for states adhering to the Paris Accord? I have not the slightest clue about international law so I may be completely nuts but it might work.

      Other sovereign nations are not bound by US law.

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    12. I don't think exemptions would be made on a state by state basis. All that would do would ensure businesses all over the USA would export out of, say, California. There might be ways to overcome this, but it would impose costs of its own (e.g. some form of origin certification).

      The first hurdle in applying an import surcharge would be persuading the WTO that a carbon tariff was legal. That would be easier if Trump continues to dissociate the USA from the rest of the world.

      If it did ever happen, then states that support Paris would need to persuade the rest of the nation to elect a President and legislature that enthusiastically favoured and were clearly committed to slowing then stopping global warming.

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    13. I don't think exemptions would be made on a state by state basis. All that would do would ensure businesses all over the USA would export out of, say, California. There might be ways to overcome this, but it would impose costs of its own (e.g. some form of origin certification).

      Well I said I didn't know anything about internatioal law.:)

      The first hurdle in applying an import surcharge would be persuading the WTO that a carbon tariff was legal.

      Who said anything about a carbon tariff? I'm sure we could make up some reason and WTO resolutions can take a "long" time.

      You mentioned earlier the trade war with Canada(NAFTA). The trade war withrespect to NAFTA is just beginning. The perennial "Softwood Lumber" dispute is already at the live fire stage with the Canadian Gov"t currently allocating $867 million to assist the Canadian softwood lumber industry (see http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/softwood-lumber-announcement-1.4140300)


      BTW the Girl Guides of Canada are boycotting the USA.

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    14. "I don't think exemptions would be made on a state by state basis. "

      There are hints that it might actually be possible:

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/02/european-leaders-vow-to-keep-fighting-global-warming-despite-us-withdrawal

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    15. I didn't see anything about a carbon tariff in that article Bernard. Did I miss it?

      (Agree, it's not impossible if the WTO can be persuaded. E.g. when there are disease outbreaks imports of produce can be allowed from some states not the affected ones, using origin certification. However it might be tricky to ensure origin for some goods, and would add costs for exporters.)

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    16. Oh, it's pure speculation on my part, Sou, but it seems that there's motivation present amongst many parties. One cannot hlep but wonder if it might go to the extend of sorting the wheat from the chaff. The advantage of doing so would be that it would reward the sector of the US that is actually at the cutting edge of mitigation, and provide the sort of incentive that might still make a substantive difference.

      Yes, I've been mulling over the issue of state borders. That would be one of the greatest hurdles. However there are probably mechanisms available to motivate putative tarrif-exempted states from allowing scamming to occur. After all, the alternative is that the world simply drops a tarrif on the whole of the US for being a non-team player, and then the whole country wears the penalty, even the folk who are vehemently opposed to the mitigation avoidance.

      The 2020 election will be interesting... If there's a Democrat win, could they easily return to the Paris Accord? If so, would the US still have to pay a penalty proportionate to the estimated damage arising from Trump's actions? And if the US continues to avoid the Accord after 2020, just how much will the rest of the world want to punish it for becoming a bad global citizen?

      One cannot help but wonder, and wonder...

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    17. Punitive sanctions are the way to got.

      The United States cannot be allowed to benefit from reneging on a global treaty at the expense of the other treaty members. Fossil fuels are artificially inexpensive now because of their current abundance and their costs being transferred unfairly to other parties.

      Anyway President Trump likes punitive sanctions (such as import tariffs), so he will not be in a position to complain if other's use them against the US as well.

      Delete
  6. The SF story The Sheep Look Up = John Brunner looks more prophetic as time goes by (sadly)

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    1. That was one of the first SF books I read. I'll dig it out again.

      Delete
    2. apologies for this offtopic
      quote from the book

      “She recalled him as a forceful and witty speaker with a ready repartee and a penetrating voice. He had once, for example, put down a spokesman for the pesticide industry with a remark that people still quoted at parties: "And I presume on the eighth day God called you and said, 'I changed my mind about insects!”

      “We know a lot nowadays about how to extrapolate from rats to people, but we don't only have to rely on that. In a sense we've made ourselves into experimental animals. There are too many of us, too crowded, in an environment we've poisoned with our own-uh-byproducts. Now when this happens to a wild species, or to rats in a lab, the next generation turns out weaker and slower and more timid. This is a defense mechanism.”

      “The killers are the people who are ruining the world to line their pockets, poisoning us, burying us under garbage!”

      When the politicians claim that the public isn’t interested any longer in environmental conservation, they’re half right. People are actually afraid to be interested, because they suspect—I think rightly—that we’ll find if we dig deep enough that we’ve gone so far beyond the limits of what the planet will tolerate that only a major catastrophe which cuts back both our population and our ability to interfere with the natural biocycle would offer a chance of survival.

      Opening the door to the visiting doctor, all set to apologize for the flour on her hands—she had been baking—Mrs. Byrne sniffed. Smoke! And if she could smell it with her heavy head cold, it must be a tremendous fire!
      ”We ought to call the brigade!” she exclaimed. “Is it a hayrick?”
      ”The brigade would have a long way to go,” the doctor told her curtly. “It’s from America. The wind’s blowing that way.”

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  7. Well is that it? Perhaps Eric and Co. have remembered that they are supposed to pretend to dispute climate science and not act as coal industry reps.

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  8. Continental integrated trade will probably not prevail. There are already groups working together to build alliances. The BRICS, The SCO, and the new Silk Road are all possibilities to prosper.

    The BRICS encompass 4 continents. The SCO countries have a major share of manufacturing, high tech aero and auto production. The Silk road will allow Russia, China, Bangladesh, India, Iran and the EU access to both supply and markets.

    Here in Canada as Trumps scolds us, Trudeau is quietly forging ties with Europe and China.

    Trump is changing the world but he may not like the result. Nobody wants to deal with an untrustworthy partner.

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  9. Somewhat off-topic but France is offering asylum to American climate scientists. https://theintercept.com/2017/06/01/french-president-emmanuel-macron-offers-refuge-american-climate-scientists/.

    Perhaps the great brain-drain has begun as some of the best and brightest researchers in the USA start fleeing.

    I remember reading a posting somewhere just after Trump got elected where a researcher at one of the major Québec universities was saying that they had just nabbed 4 or 5 top-notch grad students who had been intending to go the the USA.

    With the senseless cuts to US research budgets bright young researchers from the USA and around the world cannot be far behind. I'd say Trump is well on his way to devastating the currently outstanding US research community.

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    1. Macron is demonstrating a surprising degree of genuine statesmanship and strength, and all the more amazing for his relative inexperience. There likely couldn't be a more stark dichotomy between two presidential neophytes even if one waited another thousand years.

      I should drop a word or two in the ear of our institution's senior administration regarding the academic migration...

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    2. @ Bernard J.

      With the conference season in full bloom my local universities probably are infiltrating recruiters into conference delegations as I type.

      Macron is definitely making an impressive start and he certainly does not appear conciliatory.

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  10. As the US exits the global climate accord the Central England Temperature series (CET), the oldest continuous instrument temperature series in existence, records its warmest ever spring; and UAH satellite posts the warmest non-ENSO influenced May on record.

    Oh Donald...

    ReplyDelete

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