Archive for the ‘Carbon Tax’ Category

Glacial Pace, Cool Lies, Melting Leadership

September 3, 2015

Obama went to Alaska and named Denali (the tall one in the local language) Denali. Denali, the tallest mountain that far north on Earth, is endowed with the tallest glaciated face anywhere on Earth, its north face being around 5,000 meters high (it had been named for a USA president who was killed by an anarchist, in those times when hatred for the mighty ran rampant).

Naming Denali by its name needed to be done, and, in Obama was up to the task. Obama is best at demolishing open doors, when not pursuing the world terror assassination campaign by drones which does not just dishonor the West, but saps its foundations. (I am not saying I am hysterically against assassinations, torture, and that every assassination ordered by Obama is unwise. But the question of due process, excellent information, and perfect targeting is crucial; moreover, having a plan beyond imposing terror is paramount; not the case here).

Obama Approaching A Glacier Which May Be Gone In 5 Years Thanks To His Affirmative Inaction

Obama Approaching A Glacier Which May Be Gone In 5 Years Thanks To His Affirmative Inaction

I personally have seen enormous glaciers which are now gone, both in Alaska, and in the Alps.

Obama uttered many truths in Alaska. We know this method: drowning reality under a torrent of little truths, and common place truisms. Obama seems to have realized that he was the did-nothing prez. This is better than Clinton, who, having deregulated the banks, was the did-terrible prez, or Bush II, viewed by a sizable part of the world as a war criminal, for his invasion and destabilization of Mesopotamia. Yet, even Bush did something good, and durable: Medicare Part D. One can forget a bad man who did a big, good thing. Obama just put a band aid on the gangrene of USA health care, and did preciously nothing about anthropogenic climate change.

At the Exit glacier, the president walked past signs that mark the year the glacier reached at that point. The glacier has receded two kilometers (1.25 mile) in the past 200 years. It is now the only glacier accessible by car and foot in the Kenai peninsula (which contains the largest icecap in the USA).

Pointing to the signs, the president considered the speed at which glacier retreats is accelerating. “It is spectacular, though,” glancing back at the view. “We want to make sure our grandkids can see it.”

This is slick disinformation. Grandkids? Are you kidding me? In truth, it’s absolutely certain that the grandkids will NOT see that glacier, except if the Obama daughters rush through the reproductive process. As I related in a preceding essay, a few years ago, I went back to Alaska, to show to my own toddler a giant glacier I remembered to be easily accessible by car and a little flat walk. I could not recognize the landscape: the glacier was completely gone, and had been replaced by tall trees. It was astounding. I was contemplating the same transformation of ice into trees this summer in the Alps. Going through a forest I had known as a formidable glacier.

Obama is a Harvard lawyer. People around him are politicians (often also with a legal background), financial types, more lawyers, banksters (real or potential), conspiracy consultants, managers, celebrities, etc. So it is with most politicians around the world. Those people have little education in physics. One does not even know if they understand the basics involved in pushing a car. Apparently, they don’t. Push hard on a car without the hand brake, and it will not move much, if at all.

Once I was in the Sierra Nevada, on a small road at 10,000 feet. California route 108, to be specific. Said road can get extremely windy and steep as it reaches Sonora Pass. It’s a trap: in the lower reaches route 108 is wide enough to accommodate the largest imaginable trucks. A truck driver armed with GPS had got his truck, a tractor-trailer, high enough to be unable to go back. Still hoping for the best, he forged ahead, until its giant vehicle was unable to take a hairpin, and, still hoping that brute force would solve everything, the driver succeeded to get completely across the road in two places, with many of its enormous wheels secured among very large boulders, both for the cab and the trailer. A large traffic jam ensued. As the closest imaginable rescue laid dozens of miles away, and going around, supposing one could back up, would require a detour of 200 kilometers (in the mountains!), it was time  to think creatively.

While dozens of people were milling around, I noticed an imaginable path, by displacing boulders, and filling some gaps with stones. It helped that we were close to timberline, and trees were few. Getting to work with my spouse, we soon cleared and engineered enough of the land to pass through. Other vehicles followed.

This little incident has nagged me for years: why did not the other drivers think about it? OK, my spouse and I have a maximal background in physics, but still, one is talking about basic common sense here. Why did no one else think of making a different road?

Obama’s road, and that of the other politicians, from Cameron to Hollande, let alone Putin, or Xi, is to say what sounds good (Merkel may be an exception; but then she is a physics PhD too). It sounds good to speak about the “grandkids”: Commandant Cousteau started that one: save the planet for the grandkids.

The ideas there are that the world ecology decays slowly under our assaults, and that it may be in our selfish interest to let it be, but nefarious within two generations. In other words: the future is slow.

Our great leaders, the supremacists of self-endowed selfishness, just don’t have enough of a feeling for physics to understand climate change (once again with the possible exception of physicist Merkel, who has engaged Germany on a one-way trip to renewable energy… in a cloud of coal dust).

INERTIA and MOMENTUM were discovered by Buridan a Fourteenth Century Parisian mathematician-physicist-philosopher-politician-academic (although the discovery is erroneously attributed to Newton, who blossomed 350 years later). Buridan had a gigantic following of students, including Albert of Saxony, Oresme, the Oxford Calculators. Those students used graphs (a world’s first), and demonstrated non-trivial theorems of calculus.

Somehow, Aristotelian physics was as wrong as possible about dynamics. Aristotle and his clownish parrots believed that one needed a force to persist with motion, completely ignoring air resistance. Aristotle should have ridden a horse at a full gallop, and discover air resistance. If one believes in Aristotelian physics, there is no problem with the climate: just reduce the CO2, and the climate changes comes to a halt. Apparently our great leaders are at this level of education.

Buridan gave the formula for momentum (which he called impetus): (MASS) X (VELOCITY). Given a constant force, impetus would augment proportionally to speed. This is what came to be called “Newton’s Second Law.

At this point human modification of the atmosphere, from stuffing it with CO2 and other gases, has made the lower atmosphere into a thicker blanket, imprisoning heat close to the ground. This is applying a constant heating force (aka thermal forcing) to the ground and the ocean, both of which are heating at increasing depth.

The climate is the largest object, so far, on which humanity has applied force. The force applied is immense, the greatest force which humanity has ever exerted. Yet, because the climate is so massive, it takes much time to accelerate: the variation of climate change is low.

Pushing the climate hard is similar, but much worse, than pushing an enormous object, say a truck: initially, it does not move. But when it does, it’s suicidal to try to stop it by standing in front.

Can we stop applying the force? No. Not within existing technology. We cannot extract the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Making plants grow to absorb the CO2 cannot work. First, recent studies on the Amazon show that present vegetation is not adapted to the present density of CO2. It grows faster, but then dies faster. Second, and most importantly, the mathematics don’t work.

1ppm ~ 2 Gt. 3 ppm: 6 Gt. Total CO2 atmosphere: 750 Gt. So CO2 augments by roughly 1% a year. Yet, total anthropogenic emissions are at least 35 Gt, and perhaps as much as 50Gt (a number I consider correct). So most of the CO2 from burning fossils disappears (probably in the ocean, where the reserves are of the order of 40,000 Gt; thus we are augmenting total carbon storage there by 1% in ten years; not dramatic, but the CO2 converts in carbonic acid, and the acidity is going up).

In any case the excess carbon we send in the atmosphere is of the order of 7% of the total carbon in the atmosphere. We cannot neutralize this by growing plants: that would require to grow the biomass by 50Gt a year, 50 billion tons a year, year after year. A grotesque proposal.

Do the math, ignorant leaders! Shoot, I forgot you had no math at school, beyond the basics, except for Merkel; the total annual primary production of biomass is just over 100 billion tonnes Carbon per year. However, because the biosphere was balanced until the massive extraction and burning of fossils, in the last 150 years, as much was being destroyed (through burial). Now we are talking about creating 50 billion tons of biomass a year. Where are we going to put them? On brand new, specially built mountains sized skyscrapers? (Don’t laugh, it’s the future.)

Even then, supposing we could miraculously stop the augmentation of concentration of CO2, under the present anthropogenic gazes concentration (around 450 ppm), we are well above the stage where all ice melts from the Arctic. So that is going to happen. In turn it will release further presently still frozen carbon storage, making it a increasingly non-linear augmentation (of the catastrophe).

There is exactly one method that will stop the greenhouse madness, and it’s the simplest. Talking to no end about complicated schemes is diabolical, as even the Pope pointed out.

Our present leaders will be judged severely by history. Not only they are dinosaurs, but they make sure that we are going back to the Jurassic all too soon.

Patrice Ayme’

Earth Biosphere Destruction Thanks To Plutocratic Subsidies

May 18, 2015

Plutocracy is not just about the rule of money: as its name indicates, it is the rule of evil. Obama, the American Chief Executing Officer, just allowed oil drilling in the Arctic (where pollution does not dissipate, due to low temperature). However, when the ship sinks, the rats start to bite each other. Thus here comes the International Monetary Fund, with a striking study. Although based next to the White House, the Fund just found a profound fundament to our world crisis. Fossil Fuels “energy subsidies are dramatically higher than previous estimates.

How high? The IMF estimates the fossil fuel subsidies amount to 5.3 trillion dollars in 2015. Yes, 5,300 billions, about a third of USA or EU GDP. 5.3 trillion dollars is 6.5% of world GDP. That’ is 600 million dollars an hour. It is higher than all the government spending on health care, worldwide. And it goes to whom, first? Plutocrats. Nothing else to expect from a government by plutophiles, for plutocrats.

Earth, Funding Pluto Brought A Drastic Problem

Earth, Funding Pluto Brought A Drastic Problem

We are presently destroying the biosphere which enabled the human species to evolve. It is pretty drastic. It would cause the worst mass murderers and criminals against humanity pause. It is not just a political, or philosophical, or ethical problem. It is the ultimate question of survival. We are all in a gas chamber of our own making, and the tap is fully open. Anything else is delusion.

Among the IMF’s conclusion: the highest subsidies are for the most polluting fuel, coal: “Because no country, (unlike for “road fuels) has meaningful excises on its consumption“.

Subsidies arise “mostly from countries not adequately charging for the cost of environmental damage (only one fourth of which is due to climate change)”. The World Health Organization evaluates these deaths to seven (7) millions.

The IMF observes that charging adequately would reduce CO2 emissions by 20% and cut the “premature death rate from fossil fuel pollution” by half. (Those death are evaluated

A philosophy professor from Notre Dame University ponders in the New York Times: “What Can We Do About Climate Change?”

Notice how silly the title is. Indeed, it should say that it’s not the climate that is changing, just because it’s going out tonight, but us who are polluting the planet. As all academics, the professor, from a plutocratic university, is careful to not say anything that would upset extremely wealthy sponsors of his very rich university (rich of subsidized football, TV contracts, gifts from Plutos right and left, etc.) This is how academic excellence works, in the USA: feed the rich ideas they like.

Left unsaid in the interview in the New York Times, were many things, and of some of these many things I will speak.

There are massive fossil fuel subsidies, worldwide. More than 600 billion dollars of direct fossil fuels subsidies are distributed by governments, each year, said the International Energy Agency. The least to be done would be to cut these poisonous gifts to zero.

In temperate and tropical areas, Solar Photovoltaics have become price competitive with fossil fuels, even with the aforesaid subsidies. Without them Solar PV can replace fossil fuels in an economically advantageous way.

We just reached above 403 ppm of CO2 averaged over April 2005. At 400 ppm of CO2, we know we get the warm Pliocene climate: camels in the Arctic. Under such a greenhouse, the Arctic is completely melted, except at high altitude. No more sea ice in the north, whatsoever.

And this does not mention the fact that at least a third of the CO2 goes into the sea to make carbonic acid, quickly approaching non-sustainability; it’s a matter of years, not decades. And that non-linear effects with melting permafrost are getting in gear.

More generally, four planetary boundaries have been crossed. CO2 ppm is just one of them. The crossing of any of these boundaries mean destruction of the biosphere as we have known it (thus thermonuclear war, among other inconveniences).

So much for the somewhat limited view of “Climate Change” from university professors of philosophy.

Moreover, our real greenhouse gases “forcing” the low altitude greenhouse should include man-made gases which did not exist during the warm Pliocene, three million years ago. Some of these gases are more capable of blocking infrared radiation (and thus augmenting the greenhouse) by a multiplicative factor of 25,000 relative to CO2. Those gases ought to be targeted for elimination. Nitrous oxide, much of it from agricultural nitrate fertilizers, and other soil destruction, contributes to 8% of the greenhouse forcing (with 300 times the ppm infrared effect of CO2).

Meanwhile, Germany is ever more dependent upon the world’s most polluting fuel, a type of coal, lignite (Neanderthals already used it in France, more than 80,000 years ago). Even today, Germany bent over backwards to burn even more lignite. What about giving more serious lessons to us, denizens of the German gas chamber? Is it still about giving us lessons with Pluto’s baritone voice?

Germany and the so-called “United” Kingdom tie for number one in the European pollution league. That should put in perspective their (mostly imaginary) superior economic performance. Economic performance is, fundamentally, about energy. Destroying the planet to get energized is plenty cheap, especially morally.

A worldwide tax on carbon ought to be imposed unilaterally by the USA and the EU, and imposed on imported products. Anything else will come short.

And short means, potentially, the greatest catastrophe our species has ever known.

Thanks to progress in sustainable energies, mostly Solar PV, technologically advanced empires (USA, China) are in good position to impose a low carbon economy… While advancing, and advantaging, their own economies. This devilish perspective is actually the only good news around. China has already taken drastic measures against coal.

If good people won’t help, maybe the devil will…

Patrice Ayme’

Carbon Tax, Or Global Crash

June 22, 2014

GOLD MAN SPEAKS:

In brief: The major plutocrat, Henry “Hank” Paulson, who presided over the 2008 financial crash as Bush’s finance minister, has come strongly in favor of a carbon tax. He compares the on-going climate catastrophe to the worst crash imaginable. After a few arguments of support of my own, I extensively quote this “suppot de Satan” (Satan’s support in Middle Age French). Facing the worst, the devils themselves can come in handy. Nothing below is new on this site, but it’s important to repeat it as a prayer, and hope.

It’s only natural that people clean the mess they make. So carbon polluters ought to pay the poisoning of the atmosphere, and the acidification of the seas. Because they are the ones causing this mess. They have to pay for the destruction they inflict. Not that people in general are innocent. Clearly some countries are living on the hog, not to say like hogs. Here are two views of the CO2 emissions per capita:

 I Pollute & Ravage, Therefore I Gloat

I Pollute & Ravage, Therefore I Gloat

CO2 list-countries-co2-per-capita

Few will argue that life is actually drastically worse in, say, France, in spite of all the carbon pinching there (France has no oil, gas, or coal; and fracking is illegal).

To tax carbon enough for the damage it causes, is the only way to price correctly the activity. Non carbon polluting energies will them be able to compete with the pirates who are attacking the biosphere… For profit.

The world emits 48% more carbon dioxide from the consumption of energy now than it did in 1992 when the first Rio summit took place, and Al Gore went down there with an immense retinue of adulators… To do nothing, but self-glorification.

First notice the astounding economic inefficiency of Anglo-Saxon countries (except for the European United Kingdom which emits less than 9 tons of CO2 per person per year).

FRANCE pollutes with 6 (six) tons of CO2 a year, per person. Germany with 9 tons (nine). The USA with 18 (eighteen) tons per person per year. Canada and Australia are even worse. The European Union, and its half a billion people, is around 7.5 tons of CO2, per year, per person.

As I have explained in the past, it’s no coincidence that the three powers that annihilated the Natives are busy now annihilating the biosphere: it’s the continuation of a mood (that the same, sort of, can be said about Russia is not reassuring, either: the main reason why Putin annexed Crimea is oil and gas in the Black Sea, just off shore).

Can we get out of that spiral from hell? Yes, with a carbon tax. Also please learn that the EU and the USA, together, control most of the world GDP. So they could impose a Carbon Tax. Unilaterally. By force. Yes, force, empire, all that brutish stuff. Evil in the service of goodness. The WTO has agreed already that such a tax-for-the-good is legal in the WTO statutes (the EU, or some of its countries, notably France, already impose carbon taxes, of sorts, in spite of strident USA-China-Russia opposition).

Much of Chinese economic activity is Western industrialized activity, translated to another place. Chinese dumping, say of solar panels could be addressed (in spite of… German(!) opposition; Germans sell luxury cars to the PRC, and in exchange mount cheap solar panels).

The question that the West would be at an economic disadvantage from imposing a carbon tax is a false argument. What is true is that some of the CO2 hogs would have to become more economically active to change radically their socio-economies: more people at work, quality work.

Paulson below says nothing I have not said before, and, often, many times. Yet it’s worth having it in his own words, thus allowing me to eschew the accusation of radical lunatic unreal leftism.

Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession

By HENRY M. PAULSON Jr. June 21, 2014

THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.

For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.

We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course

The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a CARBON TAX. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies...

I was secretary of the Treasury when the credit bubble burst, so I think it’s fair to say that I know a little bit about risk, assessing outcomes and problem-solving. Looking back at the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008, it is easy to see the similarities between the financial crisis and the climate challenge we now face.

We are building up excesses (debt in 2008, greenhouse gas emissions that are trapping heat now). Our government policies are flawed (incentivizing us to borrow too much to finance homes then, and encouraging the overuse of carbon-based fuels now). Our experts (financial experts then, climate scientists now) try to understand what they see and to model possible futures. And the outsize risks have the potential to be tremendously damaging (to a globalized economy then, and the global climate now).

Back then, we narrowly avoided an economic catastrophe at the last minute by rescuing a collapsing financial system through government action. But climate change is a more intractable problem. The carbon dioxide we’re sending into the atmosphere remains there for centuries, heating up the planet.”

[PA’s warning: It’s worse than that: At least a third goes into the sea, turning it into an acid soda.] Paulson again:

“That means the decisions we’re making today — to continue along a path that’s almost entirely carbon-dependent — are locking us in for long-term consequences that we will not be able change but only adapt to, at enormous cost. To protect New York City from rising seas and storm surges is expected to cost at least $20 billion initially, and eventually far more. And that’s just one coastal city…

When I worry about risks, I worry about the biggest ones, particularly those that are difficult to predict — the ones I call small but deep holes. While odds are you will avoid them, if you do fall in one, it’s a long way down and nearly impossible to claw your way out.

Scientists have identified a number of these holes — potential thresholds that, once crossed, could cause sweeping, irreversible changes. They don’t know exactly when we would reach them. But they know we should do everything we can to avoid them.

Already, observations are catching up with years of scientific models, and the trends are not in our favor.

Fewer than 10 years ago, the best analysis projected that melting Arctic sea ice would mean nearly ice-free summers by the end of the 21st century. Now the ice is melting so rapidly that virtually ice-free Arctic summers could be here in the next decade or two. The lack of reflective ice will mean that more of the sun’s heat will be absorbed by the oceans, accelerating warming of both the oceans and the atmosphere, and ultimately raising sea levels.

Even worse, in May, two separate studies discovered that one of the biggest thresholds has already been reached. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt… Now that this process has begun, there is nothing we can do to undo the underlying dynamics, which scientists say are “baked in.” … those who claim the science is unsettled or action is too costly are simply trying to ignore the problem. We must see the bigger picture.

…waiting for more information before acting — is actually taking a very radical risk. We’ll never know enough to resolve all of the uncertainties. But we know enough to recognize that we must act now…

We need to craft national policy that uses market forces to provide incentives for the technological advances required to address climate change. As I’ve said, we can do this by placing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Many respected economists, of all ideological persuasions, support this approach. We can debate the appropriate pricing and policy design and how to use the money generated. But a price on carbon would change the behavior of both individuals and businesses.

At the same time, all fossil fuel — and renewable energy — subsidies should be phased out. Renewable energy can outcompete dirty fuels once pollution costs are accounted for.

… our failure to act on the underlying problem is deeply misguided, financially and logically.

In a future with more severe storms, deeper droughts, longer fire seasons and rising seas that imperil coastal cities, public funding to pay for adaptations and disaster relief will add significantly to our fiscal deficit and threaten our long-term economic security. So it is perverse that those who want limited government and rail against bailouts would put the economy at risk by ignoring climate change.

This is short-termism. There is a tendency, particularly in government and politics, to avoid focusing on difficult problems until they balloon into crisis. We would be fools to wait for that to happen to our climate…..

When it comes to developing new technologies, no country can innovate like America. And no country can test new technologies and roll them out at scale quicker than China.

The two nations must come together on climate. The Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, a “think-and-do tank” I founded to help strengthen the economic and environmental relationship between these two countries, is focused on bridging this gap.

We already have a head start on the technologies we need. The costs of the policies necessary to make the transition to an economy powered by clean energy are real, but modest relative to the risks.

A tax on carbon emissions will unleash a wave of innovation to develop technologies, lower the costs of clean energy and create jobs as we and other nations develop new energy products and infrastructure. This would strengthen national security by reducing the world’s dependence on governments like Russia and Iran.

Climate change is the challenge of our time. Each of us must recognize that the risks are personal. We’ve seen and felt the costs of underestimating the financial bubble. Let’s not ignore the climate bubble.

Henry M. Paulson Jr., an ex-football player, is the chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, was CEO of Golman-Sachs,  and secretary of the Treasury from July 2006 to January 2009. When Satan himself is melting, the heat is on.

Patrice Aymé