“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Global Warming? Don't believe Your Lying Eyes.

Double click the picture. This is not clip art or Photoshop. This is a picture that I took on a recent flight over Nicaragua. This is during the day time. At night, it is far more dramatic. It looks like hell on earth. It is not natural. It is indigenous people doing what they always did and that is burn down forests in the dry season for planting. The difference is there are a lot more of them. Try and count the fires, and this is from one portal on one flight at one time of the day over dense forest.

When I was a boy, there were one hundred and fifty million people in The United States. Today there are three hundred million. That is one hundred and fifty million more people doing what people do, but doing more of it. The same pattern is happening all over the planet. When I go to China, I never see a blue sky. You can taste the air in China. The climatic disruption is undeniable.

More people, more use of resources, more environmental disturbance means more change. The change is unpredictable because we have never been here before. Finite is a fact of life. We are endowed with just so many heart beats. There are but thirty two ounces to a quart. A good laying hen will produce an egg a day and to expect more is naive. The earth is no different.

I listen to some self- anointed, so called conservative talk show hosts, the experts and supporters of the military, the true patriots that never saluted and get a little less verbose when you mention a DD-214. They often have plenty to say about those concerned about the environment and global warming. It is mostly disparaging. They are also foolish and dead wrong, because six thousand million people are taking a toll.

The question is how much?

Note: I pointed this view out to three people on the plane. I asked all three what they were looking at. They all said clouds. When I explained what is was, they were shocked. The stewardess told the pilot and after the announcement, there were a lot of clicking cameras.


  1. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines.

    Are ... These the beginning of birth pains?

  2. Six billion people living on the earth today, some estimate that the number living today is the same number as the cumulative population of all ages.

    All thinking and eating and screwing and burning and farting.

    Sometimes I wonder if every human soul that ever lived is stuffed in a body today, in a culmination of the ages.

    No wonder there is strife and habitat destruction. Always been so, just more people so there is more of it.

    I'm not to worried about it, the Creator never gives us something that we can't handle. The earth will thin the herd and we go on .... or the Creator has a new plan.

  3. Whit brings up a good point. Who pays? Who picks up the tab and then what happens to the money? Some seem obvious and just smart. Years ago I took a walk through some of the great redwood forests in Northern California. To be correct, I walked through the 5% of the remaining great redwood forests. Words cannot do justice to the magnificance of those ancient trees standing, roots deep into the earth, crowns in the sky. You ask yourself why did our ancestors have to take all of them for themselves?

    Each generation owes a debt to the past and has an obligation to all those before them. Being wise, being fair, common sense and decency place a simple obligation before us. Charlotte hinted at it last night in talking about the obligation of an historic architect. I gather she specializes in restoration.

    The first decisions are easy. Is the building worthy of saving? is it important in context and time? How will it be used in the future? What changes are acceptable? Do we save something that came down from the past for the benefit of those gone, us, or those in the future?

    A building is something we see, live in or work in.
    The planet is something we are a part of. There is no free lunch for anyone. Someone always pays.

    If my neighbor is not cautious in how he plows his field and his soil washes into my stream, then I pay for his foolishness. He may ruin the farm that his parents left him, to the detriment of his legacy and be successful in shifting the costs to his children, parents and neighbors.

    We are capable of finding a solution. Passing the costs off to our children is one choice.

  4. Bob W. is back over at Wilsonizer. Bob may have been awol but he is still loyal to the corps and has some things to say about Mr. Arkin.

  5. " Years ago I took a walk through some of the great redwood forests in Northern California. To be correct, I walked through the 5% of the remaining great redwood forests. Words cannot do justice to the magnificance of those ancient trees standing, roots deep into the earth, crowns in the sky."

    Can't leave out the crowns disappearing into the Humbolt Mist.
    ...with the river Snaking it's way to the sea.

  6. So, duece, you had, in stock, the photo sam requested, the Earth on fire.

    Lots of people in the World, in Korea, back in the 80's I had never seen such a population density, before. Not in all my travels around the planet, before or since.

    A fellow in Florida, wiped out in a tornado, blames Global Warming, to many storms in the past fives years, somebody better do something, he pays his taxes. Oh the inhumanity of it.

    The lady before him discussed each past storm, by name, Charlie started the litney. It's just not fair.

    The glacier in Detroit melted a few thousand years ago, same as the one in NYCity. To many Fords and VWs on the road, back then?

    Six billion people, what ya gonna do?
    Leave it to chance or take a stance. How many of those folk will have to leave us, to find "balance" for the rest.
    If one looks to history, well a whole bunch of peole will have to die, about 3 billion of so.

  7. Nature, red in tooth and claw.
    (or as my Indian neighbor said: "people think that since you don't see Mountain Lions, they are endangered."
    ...used to be a trapper, and saw ONE in his travels.
    (dumbshit doug stood on his deck taking pictures of one that got trapped inside our fence. ...4ft, or one jump, away)

  8. (that was for Deuce's NorCal reference.
    ...where Lions are "endangered.")

  9. Rufus,
    He's stealing corn from his impoverished friends in Mexico.

  10. "Mexico is a Mess. Don't blame us. "
    Tell that to Bush.
    Don't tax and overrun me w/their problems.

  11. I've seen two of those big cats, running wild, in a lifetime in the back coutry. Could not a gotten a shot, even if I had wanted, in either case.

    But, duece is right. In Shenzhen, China, just north of Hong Kong, you can cut the air with a knife. Worse than LA ever was in the 70's, at the height of the smog conditions there.

    But who you gonna call?
    Who tells the Nico farmers they must stop "slashing and burning" and starve? Or in Malaysia, who tells them that "Slash & Burn" to create fields of oil palm is a detriment to humanity.

    Who gets to decide who lives and who dies, if there is even a way to decide. During the early 60's China admitted to a loss of almost 4 million lives, to famine.
    Drop in the bucket of what's to come. So many living on the cusp of disaster.
    Here, there, everywhere.

  12. Come on, doug.
    Mr Bush is the President of the World, at least in his own mind. He said as much, of Republican philosiphy in a WSJ interview, published yeaterday:
    "... I believe the philosophy of our party is the most hopeful philosophy. It says to any person from any country: 'You have a chance to succeed.' It relies upon individuals. It empowers individuals to be able to realize their potential ..."

    As regards his ability to "see".

    "... WSJ: Was there a moment in the war when you said we have to make a major change in the way we're doing things in Iraq?

    GWB: Yes, there was.

    WSJ: When was that?

    GWB: September/October.

    WSJ: Why?

    GWB: Violence. It looked like it was uncontrollable. A young democracy is not going to survive if its capital city is [submerged] in sectarian violence. I thought for example after the Samarra bombing that we were going to be fine. I thought the Shias had looked into the abyss of a civil war and pulled back. We thought they had, and they didn't. ..."

    September or October, based on a spike in violence, not an overall trend of failure of the US tactics that the violence is an indicator of.

    Then trying to treat the symptom, not the cause.

  13. Rufus has the right idea in that technology can help. Decent transmissions on automobiles would improve fuel efficiency by 5% and if diesels replaced gasoline and then hybrids....

    My point is that someone is paying now or will pay later. I am a conservationist. That means using things wisely. I can do better with little extra effort and so could most everyone.

    Doug was unimpressed with my forest stroll, but I would never taken him along anyway. Now sonia.....well...

  14. For all the intelligence of individual humans, humanity as a whole displays no more self control than a population of protozoa or field mice or mountain goats. Cause follows effect with a time lag. Population increase at an exponential rate. Time lag causes continuing overshoot of carrying capacity until resource exhaustion. The better (in our case cleverer) the species is at eking out the last morsels the worse the crash. Social breakdown, fighting, disease, starvation. 80%, or maybe 95% mortality, or 99.9%. Maybe worse.

  15. Well, rufus here is an interesting report from Brazil, where ethonal is an important part of the energy mix.

    "... In 1975, ethanol yield was 375 gallons/acre/year. In 2006 it is reaching a new mark of 870 gallons/acre/year. ..."

    The US uses 140 billion gallons per year. So to "replace" the gasoline, with sugar cane ethonal would require 160,919,540 acres of sugarcane or reasonable facsimile under cultivation.

    Total farm land under production in the US is
    CROPLAND HARVESTED: 305,641,000 acres,
    That lets US compare apples to oranges, since most of the US cropland is unsuitable to sugarcane, but switchgrass may make ALL the difference.

    Over half of todays US farmland would have to be dedicated to ethanol crops, as effecient as sugarcane, since no plant presently in commercial use beats sugarcane, in Brazil.

    Granted, a 100% "switch" is not required, but the scale and scope of the production requirements of ethanol are made evident by present production levels.

    So over half of US farmland would have to be dedicated to ethanol crops to replace gasoline, at 50% replacement only a third or so.

  16. Is it, Rufus? Starting to stabilise still means a max out over 10 billion. Since we are talking exponentials, a small change in trend length may still mean 20 billion.

    Even now most of them live quite poorly indeed, while a very small fraction of us consume most of what is burned, mined or manufactured. China wants energy, and goods, and wood, and metal. So will India soon. Minimum 2,5 billion consumers and still growing. Europe + USA + Japan is a mere 800 million.

    Biofuels, like all cash crops, my have the unfortunate side effect of competing for farmland with food crops.

    That said, though I believe the human caused global warming is pseudoscientific foolishness, it has the fortuante side effect of promoting alternate energy. The EU is investing extremely heavily in every manner of emerging alternate energy technology, some of which are going to come up trumps.

  17. Abd the there is this aspect of the problem, as I touched on earilier

    But last year, when scientists studied practices at palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, this green fairy tale began to look more like an environmental nightmare.

    Rising demand for palm oil in Europe brought about the clearing of huge tracts of Southeast Asian rainforest and the overuse of chemical fertilizer there.

    Worse still, the scientists said, space for the expanding palm plantations was often created by draining and burning peatland, which sent huge amounts of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

    Considering these emissions, Indonesia had quickly become the world’s third-leading producer of carbon emissions that scientists believe are responsible for global warming, ranked after the United States and China, according to a study released in December by researchers from Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics, both in the Netherlands.

    No good deed goes unpunished.

  18. Well, this US farmer is not cutting down trees to increase his acreage, he is switching crops, instead.
    Switching to corn

    What's clear is that the impact will likely go beyond corn. With prices for corn rising, farmers are expected this year to switch acreage to corn from soybeans, wheat and even cotton to cash in on the higher prices. That will lead to lower production for those other products and thus, higher prices. Soybean prices are up nearly 30% from the recent low seen in September.

    Farmer Leon Corzine of Assumption, Ill., plans to devote 90% of his acres to corn and 10% to soybeans this year. Four years ago he planted half corn and half soybeans.

    "We do have more opportunities with corn," says the fifth-generation farmer. He says the focus on renewable energy has led to increased optimism among farmers. "It really is an exciting thing where we do have opportunities that we didn't have a few years ago."

    duece discussed cutting down the Redwoods, for housing and other uses. Now rufus tells us we will cut down the rest, to drive our cars? That's forestry.
    Perhaps there will be a 50% increase in US farmlands, and farmers, but I doubt it.

    Not at under $50 USD per barrel of Suadi sweet.

  19. Success in Iraq and Iran would put even more oil into the system, investments in infrastructure would be made in both countries, if stabilty is achieved.
    Driving the price of oil ever lower.

  20. There being artifical, economic & political caps on production, in both countries, today.

  21. The "true" economic price of oil still around $35 USD per barrel.

  22. It is not a matter of "better or worse" it's economics. Of course the oil companies will "push back". But truth is truth, production requirements are what they are, in both industries. Oil is in trouble due to politics, not supply.

    There is more slash and burn, today, than ever before. Just because there are more slash and burners.

    The brown cloud over Asia is a problem, caused by burning wood and coal proucts. To think otherwise is Pollyannish. To think those technologies will be replaced, in time to "reverse" Global warming, insanity.

    When seen from space the smog is evident, there.

    Global warming may or may not be "caused" by oil, but China, India and Malayasia are not going to scaleback on development, just because the Europeans say it is better for their Earth Mother.

  23. The US Forest Service does not allow for "brush clearing" on the National Forest, rufus.

    Forest management, in the US, is dismal. Smokey Bear needs the forests untouched by man.

    There is a long, long way to go.

    The Federal Courts will not even allow selective cutting of dead trees in old burn areas, here in AZ.

  24. And natural gas is still flared in many oil fields. Wasted away.
    Infrastructure investments for alternative energy, at $35 USD per barrel of Saudi sweet, after the War, will be light, I think.

    If operating costs are competitive, then those plants built under subsidy or due to war time requirements may survive, if not they will drown in a sea discounted oil, as they have in the past.

  25. Then, my friend, there will be many less feedlots and dairies, if ALL are required to be so equipped.

    If left to the marketplace, doubt the investments will be made. The return on investment not there, unless mandated by Law. Then many will close, as they are marginally profitable, as it is.

    Have seen it happen across the West, ranchers moving on to other endevours, as the Federals raise the costs of production by mandate.

  26. I'm trying to sum up the mood and the laments here just for my own understanding. I think humans may be relating to their environment differently, if not because they want to use it differently, but only because there are limitations of certain methods. Impositions of constraints are advocated. But so are different methods that circumvent those problems (pollution, waste, lack of sustainability, insecurity etc).

    Deuce sums up, what I think, may be the questions of this present dilemma:

    The first decisions are easy. Is the building worthy of saving? is it important in context and time? How will it be used in the future? What changes are acceptable? Do we save something that came down from the past for the benefit of those gone, us, or those in the future?

    A building is something we see, live in or work in.
    The planet is something we are a part of. There is no free lunch for anyone. Someone always pays.

    If my neighbor is not cautious in how he plows his field and his soil washes into my stream, then I pay for his foolishness. He may ruin the farm that his parents left him, to the detriment of his legacy and be successful in shifting the costs to his children, parents and neighbors.

    And Rufus lays out some of the new rules:

    You guys have got to understand; this IS NOT back to the past. This is Using Resources, EFFICIENTLY. To Waste is Inefficient. It's Expensive, and it's Stupid.

  27. thank you ppab. That is the difference between a conservationist and an evironmentalist. One is a pragmatist and the other is a philosopher.

  28. A possible place to make some money through efficiency:

    BorgWarner is a leading global supplier of highly engineered systems and components mainly for power train applications for the world's major automakers. Its Engine Group, which develops products to manage engines for fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, contributed 70% of revenues in 2005. Its Drive Train Group, which accounts for around 30% of revenues, develops transmission components and systems for torque management applications.

    Since past couple of years automakers are faced with the global need to reduce emissions, improve fuel economy and increase the performance of vehicles, and this translates into a huge opportunity for company’s Engine group products. Very recently the company has opened a new manufacturing facility in France, to meet the increasing European demand for dual clutch transmission technology. Europe continues to be the fastest growing market with revenues growing at 43% annually from past two years

    Strong growth in vehicle production in the Asian markets mainly China, India and Korea, have driven the demand for the company’s high-performance engine timing systems. The presence in these emerging markets will further boost up the demand for its products. BorgWarner has nearly doubled the size of its Engine Group manufacturing facility in South Korea to support one of its fastest growing customers, Hyundai / Kia.

    With all this things’ going on in the market place management is expecting to generate new business worth $1.7 billion spread across through 2007 till 2009, mainly driven by turbochargers, dual clutch transmission and All Wheel Drive systems. Taking these factors into consideration the stock is a good pick for the long-term investors.

  29. And the UN thugocrats saying its so makes it so? You gotta be kidding me! Global warming is a political movement and secular religion
    with no basis in scientific fact. Nature is not in "equilibrium" and humans will never cause it to be. Things change. It gets warmer. And it gets colder. So fucking what.

    Thirty years ago the media tried to create a "global cooling" scare. That one clearly didn't take, so now they go the other way, but the transnational socialists, for whom environmentalism is the only religion, have now jumped on the bandwagon. They have seized upon its emotional appeal to suburbanites as an excuse for taxation/regulation, the ultimate intent of which is to empower the elites (while buying off the non-elites through income distribution). Furthermore, for the transnationalist, its the camel's nose for a worldwide taxation scheme. Of couse, China and Russia (your my partner in this deal, so what, fuck off) are NOT gonna pay into that system. So Americans will pay the tax so transnationalists can use it to payoff others.

    Regarding agricultural burning, did any of you GROW UP on a farm? I grew up in Mississippi, not 25 miles from where Rufus lives. At that time agricultural best practice included burning off all harvested wheat, soybean and other grain fields. Had 2164 then flown over the Mississippi delta, he would have seen just as much smoke as we now see in Nicaraugua, China and Brazil. Did Mississippi farmers quit burning fields because it became environmentally unsound to do so? Hell no! Practice changed because scientific advances in plant/crop genetic engineering and continued improvement in capabilities of herbicides and pesticides eliminated any reason to burn off fields (previously done to eradicate weeds, bugs and rodents). On a farm, as in nature, common sense rules. I don't think I have ever met anyone who grew up on a farm that believes in global warming (believe being the operative word for a faith-based phenomenon for which their is no scientific proof).Unfortunately, the further humans get from the farm/earth, the less (common) sense they have.

    Global warming is NONsense.

  30. sorry j. willie,
    There is no free lunch.There is a sense of balance in everything. In order for there to be balance there must be a point of equilibrium. That is a universal truth. That is science engineering and physics. You can argue that the equilibrium has not been met or surpassed, but you can not argue it does not exist.

    The durable survive as do the adaptable. You can argue that the adaptability of the planet exceeds the stress put upon it by human activity. You can argue that the safety margin has not been breeched, You cannot argue that the margin is infinite. That would be religion and an idea based on infinite faith.

    You can attack my observations but not accuse me that it is faith based by using your Rush Limbaugh faith based argument as the basis. That would be philosophy and not science.

  31. PS let me be the first country boy that believes that the possibility of global warming as a result of human activity has a strong probability of being true. thanks for stopping by.

  32. Rufus,

    re: burning - if it would demonstrably put $1 more in the Delta farmers' pockets than it costs (few gallons of deisel fuel), then in October/November, the Mississippi Delta would look like it had been napalmed! Those are some of the most sophisticated farmers in the country/world, and it is a business first/way of life second. I dont keep up with all the nuances since I don't live nearby, but I believe most have adopted no-till practices for most crops (probably excluding rice). I'll have to ask my brother the economic reasons for that (he operated a 5000 acre farm until three years ago, when he decided that the risk/return tradeoff of farming no longer made sense (he leased 90% of the land).

  33. My earlier comment had barely made it through the wire when I saw this: Chirac threatens US with global warming tax!

  34. Maybe this thread is dead, but calling the advocates of advantageous hysteria religious folk will not do it. Its easier to dismiss such claims, however interesting.

    If humans caused global warming, how would we know? Would Al Gore tell us?

    Honestly, do software models divine these truths for us?

    Its yet another problem in the fancy pants age of information: it is evident there is lots of information asymmetry between the "sides" here. When I say information asymmetry, think of the used car salesman and the person interested in buying a car. The early story of the nascent Internet used to be that it balanced out that asymmetry. Obviously, its architecture can facilitate such balancing, such equilibrium, but it is only sufficient to do so.

    And when it is necessary for individuals to defend themselves from new nemeses who've so infested airwaves, print and the popular imagination, what does one do?

    Off to wikipedia for me...

    climate change

    climate model

  35. This afternoon I drove into town on the freeway. I saw an smelled one exhaust pipe. I stepped on it to get around and in front of the nuisance.

    Forty years ago, that would have been a fools errand, with practically all the vehicle exhaust pipes smokin' and stinkin'.

    A little perspective, please. Air and river water quality in this industrial area have improved enormously during the time frame.
    Quite possibly in your area too, gentle blogger.

  36. ppab,

    re: off to wikipedia

    In light of the content of that post, you may want to consider a diversity in your research resources. Like any publisher, wikipedia has its own bias.

  37. In light of the recent climategate e-mail scandal, which has led to 4 more scandals within the I.P.C.C. You would have to be a complete idiot to trust this corrupt, political(not scientific)organization. Both the chairperson for greenpeace and Canada's top climate scientist Andrew Weaver have called for new leadership of the I.P.C.C. and institutional reform. Phil Jones, top scientist implicated in the original "Climategate" scandal has been forced to admit that there has been no significant warming since 1995. The global warming scam is over. It has become quite apparent that the global warming alarmists are and always have been the true "deniers". If you believe CO2 is bad then stop breathing. You're polluting.