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  • Podcast

    Michael Shermer: The Importance Of Skepticism

    Without it, we're slaves to our beliefs
    by Adam Taggart

    Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 6:34 PM

As humans, the way we process and react to information is influenced by both the biology of our brains as well as our social and cultural norms. We've talked many times here at PeakProsperity.com about the influence — conscious and subconsious — that our beliefs exert on our actions. Our past podcasts on behavioral economics have delved into this in detail.

But just because we believe something, that doesn't make it true. Which is why the scientific process is so important: when followed without bias, it enables us to understand reality as it truly is. And such accurate understanding of the facts allows us to make more useful decisions.

In this week's podcast, Chris speaks with Michael Shermer, monthly columnist for Scientific American and founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, about the importance of cultivating a questioning mindset:

By skeptic, I just mean the scientific approach to claims and most scientists are skeptical by nature. Not by human nature, but by dent of their training because science starts with the hypothesis. It starts with the idea that whatever your claim is it’s not true until you prove to us otherwise. An example I use that everybody is familiar with…if you think you have a drug to cure AIDS or cancer or whatever, you can’t just send it to the FDA and ask for their approval without submitting your studies. Where are the peer-reviewed studies? Where are the journal articles? Where is your epidemiological evidence? Where is the controlled double blind experiments or something? You can’t just assert that something is true; you have to actually prove it. The FDA will not grant you permission to sell your drug until you prove to them that your drug is real. It’s always like that. You think Bigfoot is real? That’s nice, prove it. Show us the body. You want to name a new species in biology, you actually have to have a physical specimen that we can all look at. Grainy photographs, blurry videos and anecdotes about things that go bump in the night…that’s not evidence in science.

We start skeptical and then we go from there. It’s not like skeptics and scientists are curmudgeons and don’t believe everything. Just watch any science show, pick up any science book, there’s tons of things that scientists believe from the Big Bang Theory to quantum mechanics, to evolution germ theory of disease, plate tectonics in geology…tons and tons of theories that are believed in that sense because the evidence is there. Another analogy I make is are you a global warming skeptic or are you skeptical of the global warming skeptics, which would make you a believer? Skepticism is not just you go into it and you don’t believe anything period. It just depends on the particular claim and the evidence for it. I might be skeptical of global warming; I once was. Now I lean towards skepticism of the global warming skeptics because I think the evidence for global warming is pretty strong so that’s kind of a way to think about it.

By reason and science, I mean that the idea that we should try to solve problems in a rationale, systematic way…that really began with the scientific revolution and the enlightenment. It begins with Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton and the idea that the universe is knowable…it’s governed by natural laws we can understand. From there it just trickled down into biology and economics. The original economists were really scientists working in areas unrelated to the economy. Francois Canet, the advisor to King Louis XIV in France, he’s the guy that coined the term “laissez-faire”…leave them alone. He said the economy is like blood flowing through the body; it needs to flow openly, freely, and if there’s too many obstructions it’s causing disease. Too many taxes cause disease of the economy. That’s where that idea comes from. The idea that an economy or a colony is governed by principles that we can understand and apply…that’s what we’ve been doing for centuries.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Michael Shermer (35m:41s).

Transcript

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson, and it is July 22, 2016. For years, I thought I was in the information business. I gathered all the latest and greatest information from the fields of energy, the environment, and the economy. I carefully assembled it and presented it to many people, thinking that they would somehow see things differently as a result and, more importantly, take different actions in their lives as a result. Most didn’t, by which I mean 99% or more were unchanged by what I considered really earth shattering information about the trajectory of humanity over the next couple of decades.

So, I had to sit back, scratch my head, and take things from an entirely different angle. If information was perhaps necessary but insufficient to lead to personal change, what was still missing? After a lengthy detour through such fields as behavioral economics, psychology and addiction research among others, I had my answer…beliefs. Beliefs stood in the way. To effectively communicate challenging material, I had to be aware of the role of beliefs in causing people to either accept or reject information no matter how good that information was. Further, the way in which emotions and believes are intertwined was a complication. Given where we are in this crazy world today with more predicaments than you could sanely shake a stick at, and given how hard it is to dislodge cultural beliefs that stand in the way of progress, one could be forgiven for wondering if there’s any hope left…but there is, there always is.

Our surprising messenger of hope today is Dr. Michael Shermer, the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, a regular contributor to time.com, and Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. His new book is The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Towards Truth, Justice, and Freedom. He is also the author of The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies--How we Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. These are both books that I’m really looking forward to diving into here today. Welcome, Michael. Before we dive into your books, how did you come to be the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine? I’m wondering what events motivated you to place your energies there.

Michael Shermer: Well a couple things. First, I’m a science guy. I have training in the social sciences, experimental psychology in particular, and my Ph.D. is in the history of science. So, I have a broad education in a lot of different sciences and in the scientific method itself. When I was in graduate school the first time in the late 70’s, there was much scientific interest in the paranormal, ESP, psychic power, telekinesis…that sort of thing. Llife after death and whatnot. There were scientists doing this research and I thought there might be something to it, since I was just a grad student. So what do I know…so I was interested in it that way and then I was also interested in the intersection between science and culture, science and politics when I was doing research on the creationist movement in the 1980’s, when I was in my history and science doctoral program and why it is that people could not accept evolutionary theory. I mean, it was so obviously true. It was centuries worth of evidence piled up in support of it, and yet there was this pocket of pretty much only American fundamentalists, religious people who would not accept it. It was obvious to me there were some cultural, political, religious, whatever motive behind that. So that got me interested in motivated reasoning and the psychology of belief.

When we founded Skeptic magazine in the early 90’s…’92, as a science magazine that would specialize in areas that other science magazines didn’t cover. For example, for my monthly column in Scientific American called Skeptic, I would deal with say…the climate deniers, whereas scientists in the magazine as a whole would deal with climate science. I would deal with the margins, the fringes, the areas that had to do with belief for example. So, that’s sort of the background.

Chris Martenson: Well, if we could spend just a little time there, I know you’ve got a new book out but I’d like to go back to The Believing Brain for a second because it’s so important to what you’re saying and to my own work. What is a belief in your words and how important are they in our daily lives?

Michael Shermer: Well, beliefs are kind of broken down into either thoughts or language by which we communicate, and they’re the things that we hold to be true about any number of different areas,; anything simple from physics like: if I drop something it will fall, if I jump off a cliff I will die, my car will do this and that, just basic stuff…folk biology that organisms are alive and have an essence to them and they’ll act a certain way in a predictable manner. And then folk economics, folk politics…the way we think the world works by our intuitions. Those we evolved. There’s good reasons why, for example, people are uncomfortable with economic inequality; because our species evolved in these tiny groups, these small bands of hunter/gatherers that had very few resources at all. And there was much transparency in the group, because there’s not much else to do and everybody could see how much everybody had, which was not much. That’s what we’re used to, so when there’s cumulative wealth, and there’s not transparency, it feels like something is up…like somebody is cheating the system, somebody is getting too much. That would be an example of folk economics that runs counter to how we know markets worked, and so much of the modern world is counterintuitive to our intuitions about how the world works.

Chris Martenson: I think implicit in that is that what we’re seeing is what we’re getting. It’s certainly true that humans are motivated by incentives and we have very complex systems and some people have better access to the complexities of those systems. I would dare say that in my experience, and it’s fairly considerable at this point…we do not have a level playing field when it comes to markets at this point in time. As much as people would like to believe in free markets, my direct experience is they’re not free. We have asymmetry’s of information, colocations of servers, a variety of things that clearly say there is something less than a level playing field from time to time, but I will agree with you that as primates we’re wired for fairness. It’s part of our social package, our software package if you will. Can you talk to us about that sense of injustice and unfairness and how that forms our actions here?

Michael Shermer: Sure, it’s definitely genetic. In my talks I like to use this video clip from Franz de Waal’s research with capuchin monkeys…

Chris Martenson: Oh, the grape video!

Michael Shermer: You’ve seen that.

Chris Martenson: I love that one.

Michael Shermer: These monkeys, for your listeners, are trained to swap a little pebble for a piece of food and by the time they run the experiment in the day they’re hungry so they’re motivated and so they run over and get a little pebble and give it to the experimenter, who gives them a slide of cucumber and they like cucumbers…but they like grapes even better so they’ll work harder for grapes. They’ll swap two stones for a grape versus one stone for a slide of cucumber. Anyway, in this famous experiment there’s two side-by-side capuchin monkeys in a transparent cage and the one gets a slice of cucumber and he eats it and the other one swaps and gets a cucumber. Then the next one, in the next round, the other monkey gets a grape and so the first monkey sees this…Oh, we get a grape, oh boy! He runs and gets his pebble and gives it to the experimenter and he’s looking forward to getting his grape and instead he gets a cucumber slice and you can see he is not happy about this. He throws the cucumber slice back at the experimenter, he pounds on the cage floor, he rattles the cage walls. These are small-brained monkeys. They don’t have language. They can’t say…Hey, that’s not cool! I am not pleased! But they can express those emotions through their behavior and it's clear what their actions are saying. There’s lots of examples of that. The fact that we’re separated by tens of millions of years of evolutionary history with capuchin monkeys tells us that the sense of fairness is deeply ingrained in all humans.

We know from these experimental behavioral games that are played around the world with, not just Western cultured people, but in eastern cultures, and in traditional societies, and farming societies, and herding societies. Everybody has a sense of fairness and when somebody gets something more than you and it isn’t clear why they got it, the immediate impulse is to think they got it unfairly. Really historically, even the last couple thousand years, that often was the case. The system was hugely rigged through kings, and priests getting the unfair share of the goods from the commoners. The whole system has always been rigged so all we can say about our system is that it’s not as bad as it used to be [laughs] and that it’s getting better. And the whole idea of constantly tweaking our governance system is to try and lower the barriers to entry for everybody and to make it as fair as possible, which is why we have insider trading laws for example. The same thing with doping in sports. You have the rules; you try to enforce the rules,. It’s not a perfect system.

Chris Martenson: Indeed, and I would say that at this point in history, as we look around what’s really happening across the world, we might say that science has brought us really far and we would love for it to continue. There seems to be some counter-veiling forces always because what’s the old…science advances one funeral at a time. There are certainly some elements now, perhaps in our education system or otherwise, that might lead one to suspect that science is sometimes getting a bad rap. In some cases, we have organized PR firms that are actively undermining what I consider to be science. First, the definition of a skeptic is a person who is inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions, but you’re promoting something called skepticism and perhaps that’s something different. What is the difference?

Michael Shermer: By skeptic, I just mean the scientific approach to claims, and most scientists are skeptical by nature. Not by human nature, but by dint of their training, because science starts with the hypothesis. It starts with the idea that whatever your claim is it’s not true until you prove to us otherwise. An example I use that everybody is familiar with…if you think you have a drug to cure AIDS or cancer or whatever, you can’t just send it to the FDA and ask for their approval without submitting your studies. Where are the peer-reviewed studies? Where are the journal articles? Where is your epidemiological evidence? Where is the controlled double blind experiments or something? You can’t just assert that something is true; you have to actually prove it. The FDA will not grant you permission to sell your drug until you prove to them that your drug is real. It’s always like that. You think Bigfoot is real? That’s nice, prove it. Show us the body. You want to name a new species in biology, you actually have to have a physical specimen that we can all look at. Grainy photographs, blurry videos and anecdotes about things that go bump in the night…that’s not evidence in science.

We start skeptical and then we go from there. It’s not like skeptics and scientists are curmudgeons and don’t believe everything. Just watch any science show, pick up any science book. There’s tons of things that scientists believe from the Big Bang Theory to quantum mechanics, to evolution germ theory of disease, plate tectonics in geology…tons and tons of theories that are believed in that sense because the evidence is there. Another analogy I make is: Are you a global warming skeptic or are you skeptical of the global warming skeptics, which would make you a believer? Skepticism is not just you go into it and you don’t believe anything period. It just depends on the particular claim and the evidence for it. I might be skeptical of global warming; I once was. Now I lean towards skepticism of the global warming skeptics, because I think the evidence for global warming is pretty strong. So, that’s kind of a way to think about it.

Chris Martenson: I note that you were once a skeptic of global warming, but then new facts came to your attention that skepticism experienced a conversion of sorts. I’m interested in that process of how, if I can paraphrase what you said…skepticism is a method, not a position. It’s saying…Listen, until the facts come in I’m going to hold this view. When new facts come in, I might hold this view. Take us through that journey of conversion. You were skeptical in the first place, but you shifted. What caused that shift with global warming for you?

Michael Shermer: It was really starting to look at the primary literature, the scientific papers. Cumulatively, to be honest, I’d been a skeptic a long time; really since the 70’s when I started college when the doomsayers were making these claims about the end of the rain forest, and the hole in the ozone, and peak oil, and running out of minerals, running out of gas, overpopulation, billions of people would die…none of this happened and by the 90’s I thought…You know what? These guys are doomsayers. I think they’ve gone too far here; I’m skeptical.

I didn’t pay that close of attention to the research on global warming in particular until I was at my first TED in 2006, before TED was a big thing and Al Gore gave his lecture on The Inconvenient Truth. It became a movie later, but that was his keynote slide show that he became famous for…that’s where he gave it. I saw it and I went…Huh, okay. There’s a lot of stuff going on here. I’d better read more about it. It wasn’t that Al Gore turned me into a global warming believer, but he stimulated me to at least read the primary literature and science and I did and there’s just tons of it. We did issues in Skeptic on it pro and con by global warming skeptics published in there and I gave it a fair shot, both sides, but I just came to the conclusion that it’s very probably real and very probably human caused.

Chris Martenson: That’s fascinating. I saw you most recently at Freedom Fest 2016 in Las Vegas, where you were part of a mock trial where the claims of global warming were being both prosecuted and defended. Tell us about the experience for you, and how did it turn out? What did you learn?

Michael Shermer: I’ve been going to Freedom Fest for years. Mark Skousen is a good friend of mine, and so he talked me into doing the mock trial. We have to remember it’s just kind of for fun and sort of a show. It’s entertaining. Okay, that’s fine…so they actually have a jury and a judge. Michael Medved was the judge and they handpicked the people from the audience as the jury. They tried to convict me of exaggerating the evidence and the jury was hung at 6:6 so I was acquitted in that sense so I feel like I won, which was my second victory of the day, because earlier in the day I debated Dinish D’Souza on the Bible…good book or bad book…and I won that one. I converted more people to my side by show of hands before and after, so it was kind of a double whammy victory for me. I felt pretty good about that, but of course, that’s not how science works. It’s not done by debate or vote. When we talk about consensus in climate science it isn’t a democracy. It isn’t that we’re basing our truths on how many people think it’s true…no. It’s that the people that are most qualified to assess the evidence have come to a sort of consilience or convergence of evidence towards one conclusion.

I cited a study I wrote about in Scientific American that the number we often hear…97% of scientists believe in global warming…that’s not actually correct. A study found that 97% of 11,000 published papers concluded that global warming is real and human caused. What about the other 3%? Maybe they’re right. Maybe the 97% is wrong and the 3% is right; it’s happened before. The authors of this paper pointed out that there was no convergence of evidence in the 3%. In other words, they didn’t all conclude that: it’s due to sun spots, it’s due to volcanic activity, it’s due to misreading of the earth’s temperatures because the thermometers were in cities instead of out in the rural areas…nothing like that. They were all over the board whereas the 97% all converged to the same lines of evidence over and over and over. The reason that’s particular powerful is these are different scientists working in different areas. They don’t even know each other. They don’t go to the same conferences. tThey don’t publish in the same journals. Some of them are physicists, some are meteorologists, some are ecologists, geologists…they have lots of different fields, and so it’s not like they’re meeting on the weekends to get their story straight because we’ve got to destroy capitalism and free trade. No, nothing like that at all.

That’s also what helped turn me around was so many scientists from so many different fields who don’t work together, don’t even know each other, keep coming to this conclusion over and over again that tells us that it’s a fairly robust theory.

Chris Martenson: Indeed, I had an interesting experience sitting towards the back of the audience at that trial where you were on trial. A gentleman in front of me, when he was presented with…you presented some carbon dioxide data that came from bubbles, that came out of the ice cores, and went back a number of years…and he just flatly shook his head and said…”Blah, blah, blah.” That was his rejection method…”Blah, blah, blah.” He didn’t believe it. But then there was this former Princeton professor who came on and said…”Oh by the way, we have CO2 data that goes back 65 million years and that shows that it was higher once”, and this guy shook his head up and down and said…”Yeah, how about that.” He loved one piece of data, hated the other. Presumably, both came from scientific methods. One confirmed beliefs, one ran afoul and therein lies the difference in his reaction.

Michael Shermer: That’s right. You have to accept evidence even when it goes against your belief. This is the problem with certain areas of science. When they bump up against moral foundations or world views that are important…deep world views…religion, politics, economics, ideology…most people accept most of science so it’s not like Republicans hate science. No they don’t. They love science. They use science and technology all the time. It’s only certain areas like creationism, because the theory of evolution feels like it's threatening our religion. Well, when I point out that it doesn’t have to threaten religion at all…you can be a Christian and believe that evolution was the means that God used to create diversity of life. Oh, okay! In fact, millions, many millions, tens of millions of American Christians believe that. The statistics are about 45% of Americans believe that evolution was God’s way of creating life. Okay, I’m an atheist. I’m a materialist. I don’t accept that, but I’m happy to give them that…whatever it takes for improving science education.

With global warming there’s this sense that if it’s real, then the government is going to impose these draconian laws that will restrict free trade, and capitalism, and business, and the economy, and we’ll go to hell in a handbasket because of that. No, I don’t think so at all. First of all, I don’t think that’s the solution. I think markets can solve the solution…people like Elon Musk, electric cars, whatever. If there’s a way to make money capturing carbon dioxide, some entrepreneur will do it [laughs] so I say…Katie, bar the door, let people have at it…solar panels, whatever. The deeper point is that it’s true whether you want it to be true or not so let’s look at why did you not want it to be true and diffuse that bomb. It’s not going to take away your world view. It’s not a threat to your ideology.

Chris Martenson: Well in that vein then, let’s turn now to your new book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Towards Truth, Justice & Freedom. In there, you present evidence that scientific rationalism is responsible for moral progress. First, is that an accurate way to capture that and second, what exactly do you mean by moral progress?

Michael Shermer: Yup, that’s an accurate assessment. By moral progress, I mean things are getting better in the long run. Follow the trend lines not the headline. This tragedy in Munich is unfolding in the news right here in front of me…six dead, another shooter, who knows…could be terrorism, could be a nut ball or whatever. If all you did was watch the news, it would seem like things are bad and getting worse when you talk about moral progress. We have to look at the long run and the long term over the course of centuries. I really start centuries or even millennia ago and look at how things used to be compared to now. I think of it as three steps forward, two steps back in terms of progress. There’s always going to be enough bad things that happen to fill the evening news with bad news because that’s what news does but if you look at the long term trend, the expansion of civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, the abolition of slavery, the abolition of torture, worker’s rights, children’s rights, there’s just lots and lots of ways that we’ve tweaked the system for more people to have more prosperity, freedom, liberty, and choice than ever before.

You and I as men would have had a pretty high probability of dying violently if we were living in the Paleolithic era as the small bands of hunter/gatherers were constantly at war with each other, constantly fighting over land, and resources, and women, and it was dangerous place to be and we just don’t have that anymore. The raw numbers from World War II are staggering but the percentage of the population that dies violently is much lower…orders of magnitude lower than it was thousands of years ago. So, in the long run things are getting better. There is an arc to the moral universe, as Dr. King said, which inspired my title The Moral Arc.

By reason and science, I mean that the idea that we should try to solve problems in a rationale, systematic way…that really began with the scientific revolution and the enlightenment. It begins with Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton and the idea that the universe is knowable…it’s governed by natural laws we can understand. From there it just trickled down into biology and economics. The original economists were really scientists working in areas unrelated to the economy. Francois Canet, the advisor to King Louis XIV in France - he’s the guy that coined the term “laissez-faire”…leave them alone - he said the economy is like blood flowing through the body; it needs to flow openly, freely, and if there’s too many obstructions it’s causing disease. Too many taxes cause disease of the economy. That’s where that idea comes from. The idea that an economy or a colony is governed by principles that we can understand and apply…that’s what we’ve been doing for centuries, so that’s what I mean by that.

Chris Martenson: So this is a moral arc then that you’re describing where we build upon past progress, and off we go, even though we seem to have some temporary setbacks like ISIS seems to be a little bit of a throwback. You said an important word in there, though, about the Paleolithic’s…they were fighting over resources; be that land, food, women, whatever the resource was in question. I want to get your opinion on how much the moral arc is indeed due to a relative abundance that people can experience and what might happen if, in your mind, to the moral arc if suddenly humans encountered something like you were talking about in the 70’s…if we did experience a shortage of resources, since most wars, even Paleolithic and modern times are wars of resources in one form or another? What would happen to the moral arc, do you think, in a time of declining or stagnant resources?

Michael Shermer: Well, two things. First, it’s an intuitive idea that if life is good, then there’s moral progress, and if life is harsh them things get worse morally. But it could easily be argued the other way, that if you’re mistreated, if you’re poor, if your life is nasty, brutish, short and miserable, maybe you’re more sympathetic and empathetic with people that are also in your plight, so you’re less likely to be violent to them. It could go either way, so the question is, historically: Did it happen? And the answer is: The timing is not quite right. For example, some of the most brutal treatment of other people has happened during the Roman Empire at its height, when it was very prosperous, all the way to some of the Arab States today, where they have unfathomable amounts of wealth and yet they have the worst track record of civil rights. It’s not necessarily true that as life gets better we’re nicer to each other. That said, if we ran out of water, yes of course, that’s going to cause some conflict locally, but I think globally the expansion of the moral sphere has been due to other things, not so directly related to prosperity.

Prosperity has more indirect causes. So, for example, democracies are better than theocracies and autocracies for a lot of reasons, not the least of which, economies are more likely to flourish and wealthier countries can spend more on healthcare, education and so on, and an educated populus is likely to be more economically prosperous, and so it feeds back on itself. The rich shall get richer…the Matthew effect. Those are hard to untangle. It’s a thick web of causal variables going on there…democracy, free markets, education, health…they’re all going upwards, so it’s hard to pin which one is the main cause.

Chris Martenson: It’s interesting. I just finished reading a book called Why Nations Fail…interesting hypothesis in there. It has a good explanatory track record for why some nations succeed and others don’t, and in there I think the main conclusion would be if you have inclusive political institutions, meaning there isn’t just a tyrant and things don’t corruptively end up in the hands of a few, that’s marker number one. Number two, you need to have free markets and free access to capital, and there has to be a level playing field. That’s why I think that it’s really absolutely critical that we understand things like where does this moral progress come from and why do things succeed and fail, because there are in my estimation certainly some dark clouds on the horizon for things like freedom, which is why I attended Freedom Fest. To really understand what are the trends in play, what are the forces, certainly there have been some things that I consider to be counterproductive to inclusive political institutions and free markets [that] have developed of late, and of course you can’t…what would I say…you can’t just assume they’re going to be there. These are things that have to be carefully guarded, I would suppose.

Michael Shermer: Absolutely, there’s nothing inevitable about the arc of the moral universe bending towards justice and freedom and prosperity. The whole thing could turn around. This is not a gallein Marxist type end of history…the whole thing could go south on us for sure. But the further down the path you go, the less likely it is to make a massive reversal like that. Just think about, for example, everybody is worried about Putin. But what are the chances of Putin cobbling together something the equivalent of the USSR in the 1960’s and 70’s…all those states? The chances are pretty slim of that happening. Same thing with slavery. Slavery is illegal in every country in the world now. It’s still practiced a little bit in the form of slave labor and sex trafficking, but it’s illegal in those countries and the laws are just not enforced because the governments are corrupt. So, it’s really a pragmatic problem of law and order, rather than convincing people that slavery is bad. So, we’ve won those battles. Chances of any group of people voting back into their Constitution slavery is pretty nil. It would require a massive extinction of most of humanity and starting over for those kinds of institutions to come back. So, I think we [have] made so much progress that we can be fairly optimistic about that. We’re really talking about fine tuning the system here and there. As you said, setbacks in freedom here and there, you have to follow the Freedom House Survey every year…it goes up and down. This many countries are free, and this many countries are partially free, and not very free, and these are definitely not free. They have these categories and that kind of waxes and wanes. It’s not the all-time high right now. It’s down a little bit. Why? Why did that happen? Well, Syria for example. There’s been an uptick in homicides in Chicago. Why? There’s been an uptick in battle deaths because of Syria. Why? It really comes down to the details of figuring out the specific cause of the problem in that particular area to reverse the trend back in a positive way.

Chris Martenson: Well, Michael, in closing here, I have to ask…I ran across a really charming story you wrote a while ago about an event that shook your skepticism to the core. It was around your wedding. I’m wondering if you would relate that experience and if you have had any other thoughts about it since.

Michael Shermer: Oh sure, yes [laughs]…it was a little bit out of character for me, but it happened. So, I wrote about it in one of my columns in Scientific American - about the day my wife and I got married here at my house. She moved here to LA from Cologne, Germany. So, this was quite a step for her; and the steps that led to us getting married on this particular day were kind of random and it just happened because of immigration law and stuff like that. Better to do it now than later, okay…let’s do it this particular day…boom. It was kind of upon us quickly and there was no time for any of her friends or family to be here, so she was feeling kind of lonely and bad that I had my friends and family here and she had nobody. She was raised by a single mom and a grandfather, and her grandfather passed away now and she was close to him. So, she shipped over this radio that they used to listen to music on…classical music. It didn’t work and I couldn’t get it to work. I spent time trying to get it to work: new batteries, checking the wiring, but it was dead. So, I put it in the back of a drawer in the bedroom. Anyway, long story short, we’re getting ready and all of a sudden we heard music playing in our bedroom. It’s like…I don’t have a stereo system. Maybe my iPhone is on or something. No, it’s not the iPhone. Laptop? No, not the laptop. Neighbors? No, not the neighbors. Where is this music coming from? It was right underneath the printer/FAX machine and it's like…wait a minute, these things have a lot of functions, but they don’t have a radio, do they [laughs]? Sure enough we open the drawer and it turns out it was the radio playing. Totally random, came on at the very moment she called me to the back of the bedroom to just have a moment of privacy, because she was feeling so bad, and there was her grandfather’s radio playing classical music. It played the rest of the day and night, went dead the next morning, and it’s been dead ever since, despite my efforts.

What does it mean? I don’t know. I’m not going to take the leap that…oh boy, her grandfather was channeling through this particular radio station…who knows, but it’s the timing, the emotional component to it, and since I wrote about that I got hundreds of letters from people saying similar things happened to them. So, I think we should keep an open mind about the fact that anomalous experiences can have an effect on people’s lives, and that it’s okay to think about it and experience it. We don’t have to go crazy and project some new age theory about quantum physics, and consciousness, and life after death. Just enjoy the mystery and leave it at that. Even a skeptic scientist like me can say…You know what? I don’t know everything. Science doesn’t know everything. Who knows? I don’t know and I’m just going to appreciate it.

Chris Martenson: Well said. You know, I’m a scientist myself with Ph.D. in neurotoxicology and you know what Michael, I used to know it all. The older I get, the less I know. Science is uncovering mystery after mystery. Just for myself, looking at how the gut biome exploded across our consciousness and awareness, there’s so much yet to learn, so I love keeping the mystery open. It's healthy, I think, to understand we don’t know everything by any stretch.

We’ve been talking with Michael Shermer. He is the founder and publisher of Skeptic magazine and the author of the new book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Towards Truth, Justice & Freedom. Michael, thank you so much for your time today.

Michael Shermer: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

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93 Comments

  • Wed, Aug 03, 2016 - 7:48pm

    #1

    Stan Robertson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 07 2008

    Posts: 516

    97% BS

    Shermer would have a lot more credibility as a skeptic if he would examine his fabled 97%.

    Why do at least 97 percent, and perhaps as high as 99.9 percent of climate scientists say
    it’s [Human cause of Global Warming] real?
    -10,257 Earth Scientists were sent an invitation
    – 7,054 scientists did not reply to the survey (leaving 3203 respondents)
    – 567 scientists surveyed did not believe man is responsible for climate change (leaving 2636)
    – Only 157 of the remainder were climate scientists (of 2636)
    – The “97%” is only 75 out of 77 subjectively identified “specialists” or 2.3% of the 3203
    who participated in the survey out of 10,257 invited. What’s interesting is that 3% of the
    invitees didn’t think the earth had warmed since the Little Ice Age.
    So the 97% is 75 of 77, but it is really only 48% of the 157 and only 2.3% of the 3203.

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  • Wed, Aug 03, 2016 - 8:05pm

    #2

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    On "Proof"

    There are two forms of proof.

     

    1. Inductive Proof.  "I Have seen 1000 swans. They were all white. Therefore all swans are white"
    2. Deductive Proof   " Men build airships. I am a man.Therefore I build airships"

    Oh well. So much for proof. What about Evidence? 

    " Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Carl Sagan regretted starting that meme. No they don't,  they require evidence. 

    Don't let them tell you they know everything. They don't. 

    Conversations with Prof. Muellenburg. (Physics. )

    Open minded skepticism is the essence of the scientific method ,  according to Dr.Tom Campbell.  One is forced to keep an open mind until one is confronted with evidence to the contrary.

    Closed minded  skepticism  leads to pathological dogmatism.  (For instance a belief in Phlogiston.)

    Closed minded skeptics are hoist on their own petard. They are not skeptical of their own dogma.

     

     

     

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  • Wed, Aug 03, 2016 - 9:10pm

    Reply to #1
    Luke Moffat

    Luke Moffat

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 25 2014

    Posts: 365

    The price of milk

    OK, against my better judgement, i'll bite. What does that have to do with the price of milk? Joining your theme of purely anecdotal wisdom, here's my favourite;

    [quote=Max Planck]

    A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

    [/quote]

    What does the 'truth' look like in 20 years time? And what guilt burden is associated with a generation that went on a credit splurge and a petroleum binge? Do people not have to overcome that first?

    I've never had a problem accepting the effects of atmospheric conditions. Since I first became interested in the solar system I noticed that Venus had a higher surface temperature than Mercury despite being further from the Sun. To satisfy my curiosity I looked at why that would be the case and noticed the difference in atmospheric conditions of the planets. Mercury's atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface… trace. Venus' … 92 bar. Turns out that Mercury has a tiny atmosphere in comparison with the other planets. Mercury's atmospheric composition, 42% oxygen, 29% sodium, 22% Hydrogen, Carbon Dioxide… trace. Venus' atmospheric composition, 96.5% Carbon Dioxide, 3.5% Nitrogen. 

    There was also a question knocking around about what we can do about climate change in another forum. And if we can't do anything about it then why worry? My guess is that everyone is running their own race on their own terms. But why should that mean that we can't discuss the data? If ignorance is bliss then why come to Peak Prosperity? My guess is that CO2 emissions will only come down when Homo Sapiens (Sapiens?) run out of carbon to burn. What the planet looks like then… who knows?

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  • Wed, Aug 03, 2016 - 9:26pm

    #3

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    Reality

    Skeptics have to be open to examining actual evidence. Simply promulgating talking points of 'true dis-believers' is not skepticism it is activism. (If you want to debate AGW, Stan, come back over to the climate thread)

    As an actual publishing scientist who does work on climate issues (heck I have even played one in cartoon form) and posts here under my real name I can guarantee that the vast majority of scientists who truly work on the subject of climate change consider the existence anthropogenic global warming (AGW) settled science. There is plenty of room for skepticism about many aspects of the process and how it will impact the world but you'd have as much luck pretending gravity didn't exist as you would disavowing AGW.

    But don't just believe me, you can go here and click on any of the scientists images and get their name and quote (link). I and others provided materials in prior years (scroll down in this if interested – link). These are real scientists, not numbers in a throw away quote.

    Beyond that you can look at numerous scientific meetings, like the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) meetings that bring together 24,000 (2015) Earth and Space Scientists in one place, and see how many (if any) sessions or abstracts exist for those claiming AGW doesn't exist. Good luck in your search.

    Ultimately it doesn't matter how many scientists are in which camp about AGW, what matters is the strength of the actual evidence that each brings to bear. It is telling that there is not a single (not one!) alternative 'theory' that can explain existing climate observations (not models – measured values).

    A skeptical mindset is critical in evaluating the world around us but a real skeptic is always open to accepting the thing that they are skeptical about if the necessary evidence can be provided to address their questions. Not posing those questions or being willing to set any threshold for acceptance of the answers is not skepticism, it is obstructionism.

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  • Wed, Aug 03, 2016 - 10:03pm

    Reply to #1
    DennisC

    DennisC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 19 2011

    Posts: 101

    Or the Price of Cockroach Milk

    Cockroach milk is not the next superfood. It could be a lot more important than that.

    Just a little scientific sarcasm to brighten up the day.  So much cockroach milk and potentially no humans to consume it!  How's that for "spilled milk under the bridge"?  Wait, is that what they call a mixed "metaphor"?

    As an alternative, I was also thinking that CO2 emissions may come down when we run out of "Homo Sapiens (Sapiens?)"  To wit, one of my favorite quotes, from a former colleague…"overcome by events" is the default outcome.  Where's that mothership when you need it?

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 2:11am

    #4

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 290

    It took me a while to sort

    It took me a while to sort out my belief system. Being heavily scientifically minded, when younger I always associated myself with Atheism because I equated materialism with science, and by default with Atheism. The world follows a series of set natural laws and rules, which can be known through science, and this ultimately will be able to explain how the universe works through material reductionism. The only limit to this is how far science can see given our technology of the time.

    …so I believed. The problem with this world view was that the more I learned through science, the more my natural skepticism made me increasingly uneasy about this belief system, like I was having to run around trying to plug leaks for all these observations that just didn’t seem to be supported by that world view. In the end I had to let go of Atheism when I was faced with the question: do I want to be a scientist, or an Atheist?

    Today, I would say that my belief system is Scientific Skeptic. It is actually an anti-belief system and has some common philosophies with eastern religions like Buddhism, although I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist. I don’t believe IN anything, except what can be demonstrated by observation. Beyond that, anything is POSSIBLE. It is inverse. I hike with a friend who thought it was ridiculous that I would tend to think that ESP is real since several times I have had thoughts of people pop into my head from nowhere and then instantly later the phone rings and it’s that person. In fact, it happened this afternoon. She says, “How can you believe that, you’re a scientist!”. It seems she doesn’t understand how science works and equates science with material reductionism… Science cannot disprove my observations.

    In the interview Michael says that the scientific method works by scientists needing to PROVE something before it is accepted by science. I’ll cut him some slack because he was speaking off the cuff in an interview, but what he said isn’t correct. Science cannot PROVE anything. Science can only DISprove things. It is not possible to prove that a relationship that you previously observed will not be true tomorrow or somewhere else and represents eternal TRUTH. All science can do is disprove the hypothesis, and one then has to revert to the null hypothesis, which asserts that there is no relationship between those objects. Then the hypothesis has to be modified, reduced in scope, or rejected. This is how the scientific method works. One might think this limits science, but to the contrary it makes it very powerful, which I argue is why so many people are afraid of what the findings of science may implicate for their belief systems… this makes science powerful because it can also use evidence to estimate the LIKELIHOOD of a given hypothesis being disproven, and also be used to disprove alternative hypotheses.

    It was asked in the interview what a belief is. My definition of a belief is that it is “a set of accepted rules and behaviors by which objects that we have created in our minds interact with each other.” It is dualistic. It uses nouns and verbs. “An atom does this”. “A population of lemmings interacts with the ecosystem in this way”. ”A car is a hunk of stuff you sit in which moves you down the road at speed”. “God created the universe”. “Genes randomly mutate to create genetic diversity” The point is that WE create the objects in our heads. There is a subject and a predicate.

    Because science is about DISproving assertions or hypotheses, I like to use it to do just that – to disprove commonly held beliefs. Some people like my friends think you need to have a completely airtight and thorough alternative explanation to be able to disprove certain beliefs but you don’t. Even one observation will suffice, if it is so critical to the belief being held that the belief cannot continue given the disproving observation. “You only need one”.

    Here are some of the commonly held beliefs that I have found through scientific scrutiny to be false and not supported by scientific evidence:

    It is interesting that Michael mentioned Munich, since that also seems to have been a hoax. It was filmed by Richard Gutjahr who also filmed the Nice “attack” a couple weeks previous. It is not statistically possible for a “local reporter” to be standing by with his camera rolling immediately before two such terror attacks separated by hundreds of miles. This implies that it was staged. If it was staged then ISIS didn’t do it and it was a hoax. No way around that.

    Recent machete attack in Germany: supposedly two people were killed by ISIS but the footage clearly shows that there was not a drop of blood on the machete lying on the ground with a chalk outline around it and the suspect lying on the ground in handcuffs only meters away. Not possible.

    Nice, France truck attack: Close-up footage of the truck being towed away shows not a drop of blood on it, and it is white. Poor quality video footage of the carnage afterwards clearly shows mannequins were used. No footage is in existence showing anyone getting run over by a truck despite the thousands of onlookers that must have been present if 300 of them got run over, all wielding smart phones with video.

    Orlando night club shooting: TV footage mistakenly broadcast which shows the “rescuers” putting the “wounded” back down on his own two feet, then stepping away and laughing, as soon as they thought they were off camera. No explanation for this.

    Sandy Hook, etc etc, insert your terror attack [here]; most are fake. If they did one hoax it doesn’t take much to assume they have a whole hoax “program” going on. In fact, it would be unreasonable to assume that they ONLY did one hoax, if they could pull off one.

    9/11 was done by al Qaeda. It was actually an inside job. Reams and reams of evidence supporting this, the most compelling to me is the free-fall collapse of Building 7.

    Moon landings: I summarized here the evidence which disproves that Apollo 15 could have landed on the Moon, from NASA’s own mouth.

    Natural selection of random mutation is the driving mechanism for evolution. This is what really pushed me into a different belief system. I set out to strengthen Atheism but in my quest for evidence I found none. Simply put, there is no evidence at the genetic level which shows that new desirable traits upon which natural selection can act can arise out of random genetic mutation. There are two problems: 1) it is not statistically possible, given the natural mutations that we see in populations, for new functional genes to be created out of this that can actually encode for a new protein and phenotypic trait — the whole “irreducible complexity” problem. Secondly, even if such mutation rates were possible, it would turn the rest of your genome into Swiss cheese by the time you got a beneficial mutation. I challenge anyone with knowledge of genetics to do a rudimentary statistical analysis and you will quickly see how utterly absurd the proposition is. It’s not that the evidence exists but isn’t very clear, or is inconsistent. It’s that THE EVIDENCE SIMPLY DOESN’T EXIST. The fundamental core of the entire Atheist belief system HAS NOT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT IT, unless something has come along in the last few years since I went searching, which I highly doubt.

    When I point this out to Atheists they respond with the typical avoidance behaviors, and I then usually soon get banned form the forum. Atheists are just like everyone else… Does this mean evolution is wrong? No. Does it rule out natural selection as one of the driving forces for evolution? No. It merely shows that the emergence of new traits must be governed by additional as-yet unidentified “processes”. The theory of evolution needs to be modified, opened up to new ways of thinking. Unfortunately, scientists are the ones stifling discovery here because they think that an admission of this debunks the whole theory of evolution, which it doesn’t. It only implies that deterministic material reductionism as an over-arching philosophy for understanding how the universe works needs to be re-evaluated, which the vast majority of scientists are unwilling to do, especially biologists. They also have in instinctive gut reaction to anyone pointing these facts out as being on some religious agenda and shut off discussion. It’s really unfortunate.

    What causes new traits to emerge in the genome then? I don’t know; many people would call it God, which is fine. I don’t believe in that because I don’t believe in the existence of duality. I believe in inspirational consciousness, which is what the scientific method guides in a reverse belief system. The inspiration for new hypotheses comes from our consciousness. No one knows how this works and I don’t think we ever will. These hypotheses are new proposals for understanding how the world works by piecing together all the previous scientific knowledge about how all the other objects we’ve created work, and then making that into something more than the sum of its parts – and a new hypothesis is born. I ask: why does the emergence of new consciousness (hypotheses) need to be limited to abstract thoughts in our brains? If it’s all “one” then there is no reason why inspirational changes cannot also occur at the genetic level as well, because these are small enough to not follow materialistic determinism and instead are impacted on the level of quantum mechanics, as scientific evidence shows our consciousness is. No one intuitively understands quantum mechanics because it can’t be understood: it is not deterministic with cause and effect relationships between defined objects, which is how our dualistic logical brains create order out of the universe.

    Here are some of the commonly held conspiracy theories which I have found to be false:

    Chemtrails: no evidence whatsoever other than white lines in the sky, no whistleblower mechanics working on the planes, no technical or biological plausibility for how this is even remotely possible, let alone likely.

    The assertion that global warming is not real. Won’t talk about it here, it is covered well in the interview.

    Flat Earth. LOL.

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 2:37am

    #5
    spencer91189

    spencer91189

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 07 2014

    Posts: 4

    Techno optimism

    Probably my least favorite part was here, when Shermer said:

    "I think markets can solve the solution…people like Elon Musk, electric cars, whatever. If there’s a way to make money capturing carbon dioxide, some entrepreneur will do it [laughs] so I say…Katie, bar the door, let people have at it…solar panels, whatever." 
     
    This is techno optimism, a form of faith in Science.  Shermer's beliefs seem to include the  myth of Progress. He should read some of John Michael Greer's work. Nobody seemed to like JMG when he was interviewed last time, but maybe PP should give him another shot, particularly as his new book is coming out.
     

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 3:36am

    #6
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 28 2009

    Posts: 282

    911

    I would like to hear Shermer's take on the official 911 story. 

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 4:21am

    #7

    LesPhelps

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 475

    Deja Vu, all over again.

    The climate change debate dominates comments about a conversation that covered a broader range of topics.

    I use to get hot and bothered regarding the AGW debate, until I decided my personal climate needed to cool down.

    Now I largely ignore the fuss and pay attention to the thermometer where I am at.  My personal observation is that it has gotten document-ably warmer where I live over the last 30 years.

    Couple that with the less complicated topic of peak oil/peak energy and it is darn difficult to argue that it is unnecessary to be frugal when it comes to energy consumption.

    Nits are being picked here.  Current consumption practices are jeopardizing humanities future and doing damage to the planet, whether you believe in AGW or not.

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 5:14am

    #8
    Uncletommy

    Uncletommy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 03 2014

    Posts: 524

    Dynamic disequilibrium?

    Climate change or variation?

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/heavy-rainfall-floods-fort-mcmurray-as-wacky-weather-plagues-prairies-1.3703530

    “When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.” 

    – Mark Twain

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 5:43am

    Reply to #1

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Historical Perspective

    [quote=Luke Moffat]

    <snip> There was also a question knocking around about what we can do about climate change in another forum. And if we can't do anything about it then why worry? My guess is that everyone is running their own race on their own terms. But why should that mean that we can't discuss the data? If ignorance is bliss then why come to Peak Prosperity? My guess is that CO2 emissions will only come down when Homo Sapiens (Sapiens?) run out of carbon to burn. What the planet looks like then… who knows?

    [/quote]

    Luke,

    I wish it were just a simple process of looking at the data and accepting it at face value. Unfortunately, climate change and the potential horror that will be unleashed as a result are extremely emotionally charged. It is very difficult for those susceptible to common advertising to discern potential from an imminent calamity. If they were prohibited from voting, I would consider the information for what it is and let it be. Since you mentioned my post, I'll repost it here. I admit that it is strongly worded, but I put out two more polite requests earlier and heard nothing. (As of this writing, I've still heard nothing.)

    [quote=Grover]

    I'd like to report to Chris that some of the insects he missed on his windshield during his recent trip to the beach have shown up here. Unfortunately, I don't even hear crickets. It's been another week since I asked for a plan to combat climate change … I'm really disappointed in the climate change worriers.

    [quote=Mark Cochrane]

    The real debate about the existence of AGW happened years ago, the debate we need now is what, if anything, to do about it?

    [/quote]

    If there isn't any solution, why agitate people with the constant drumming? So, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing. What can be done about it? So, sea levels look like they're rising. What can be done about it? So, species are going extinct at phenomenal rates. What can be done about it?

    Do you think I enjoy harping about it? No! I really want a solution that is attainable. My problem is that I just can't see one! I'm convinced that the earth (Gaia) will find a solution to this problem. I suspect it will be something similar to advice my mother gave me: "Feed a fever. Starve a cold." As soon as the infection (human overpopulation) is under control, the fever will stop. It might take centuries for the fever to subside, but that isn't even a 24 hour bug to Gaia.

    If the real problem is human overpopulation, then any society wide solutions will fail. Perhaps we should focus on individual solutions. What can you do to avoid the peril that will strike the masses? Isn't that better than nothing? For instance, Mark wrote a post on the Climate Change thread pertaining to sea level rising 1.2 meters and impacting 1 billion people who live that close to current sea level. If I lived that close to sea level, I'd seriously consider moving to higher ground before the herd realized it and real estate values plummeted. It isn't going to change the end result, but it will save me the expense of having worthless real estate that is (literally) under water.

    If it were as innocuous as that, I wouldn't waste my time writing about it. Unfortunately, the worry warts keep the angst machine running at full speed. Other chicken littles are drawn to the doomer porn like moths to a candle. Because they can only wring their hands and sweat bullets, they're prime fodder for a charismatic charlatan who claims to know the way out of this predicament – it will be based on smoke, mirrors, and hope … and naive fools will swallow it. The answer will include One World Government with the charismatic charlatan in control. If that happens, kiss freedom goodbye forever.

    I've kept this discussion in this thread because of the freedom aspect. I'll give the climate change brain trust another week to at least address my concerns. If crickets are the only sound, I'll move the show to the climate thread.

    Grover

    [/quote]

    Mark's quote was the salient part of his first paragraph in comment #79 where he and rhare were sparring. I take him at his word and I agree that it is past time to debate whether or not AGW is factual. We now need to debate what, if anything, to do about it.

    I've been questioning Mark for 3 years about what can be done about it. Our first spat occurred toward the end of the Fourth Turning thread: https://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/82232/neil-howe-fourth-turning-has-arrived?page=3#comments. [Note that comment #150 on the previous page was a link from jgritter of a Guy McPherson article that jdye51 referenced.] That diverted the thread from T4T and started the conversation down the ole' AGW path. Mark bloviated and chastised me for my incorrect usage of words. Then, invited me to debate AGW on the climate change thread. In post #157, I said,

    [quote=Grover]

    I'll accept your invitation to discuss this matter on the climate thread … as soon as someone can come up with workable proposals aiming toward a solution. I'm not interested in nattering. Climate change is a predicament that will be addressed individually. This is not the thread to discuss these matters unless any generation is more apt to deal with the problems that society faces.

    Here are my posts on another climate related thread so you can see where I'm coming from:

    Please send me a PM with links of credible solution(s). To all the climatologists, please don't hijack this thread.

    Grover

    [/quote]

    Over the years, I've seen and admired Mark's ability to leave impressions without personally committing to anything. Imagine my shock when he actually said it is time to debate what to do about AGW. (Frankly, I think he was just trying to shut down rhare.) So, I called him out on it. I'm sure he'll never make that mistake again. Professorial types don't like to be pinned down. After all, it's hard to be beaten and maintain an inflated self image.

    Like I said, if it weren't for the side effects, I wouldn't care what the climate change brain trust writes about. Unless something can be done about the impacts of climate change, it merely amounts to worthless fear mongering.

    Grover

    PS – Mark, Do you really think I'm going to drop this meaty bone?

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 7:27am

    #9

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    To do nothing is still making a choice

    Hello Grover,

    It is not a question about not wanting to be 'pinned down' on something it is being intellectually honest enough to avoid pretending that I have 'answers' since neither I nor anyone else on the planet has the 'solution' to this predicament we face. The issues are so unimaginably big and convoluted that the IPCC tasks hundreds of scientists with making the world's biggest book report on 60,000 papers every 6-7 years to simply summarize what we think we know. Short of the obvious, slowing down intentionally making things worse with our continued greenhouse gas emissions, there is precious little that is obvious about how to respond to or manage the situation. Anyone have a cure for peak oil or our current economic woes? They are more acute problems for society but relatively minor in significance by comparison over the longer run. The world economy can crash and burn and we will cobble it back together again in some form or other within months to a year. Peak oil/energy can progressively send us back toward the stone age over centuries but humans survived without it before and can do so again, while the rest of nature will actually improve for all of our troubles. Climate change will make our economic and energy problems worse and we will be living in a climate that no human being has ever (!) experienced at a time when every species on the planet is stressed and trying to move to more appropriate locations. I do not claim to know how this will play out but it is not a recipe for stability or harmony.

    Whatever we do personally is our own choice, personally I like Les Phelps take on the matter. However, what we do as a society requires a debate because it is a question of collective values more than 'techno-cures'. There are no ready-made solutions coming in nice gift wrapped boxes, we have to make decisions that will require changes and sacrifices if we want to provide more options to the people who come after us. So far we have been collectively deciding to do nothing in the hopes that this predicament could be debated away somehow. At this point we know that is not a viable option and we are collectively delaying action in the hope of clear leadership. Throwing up our hands and saying don't bother me until you have solutions is like sitting in the middle of the desert and refusing to move until you can be certain in which direction the nearest water is located. We don't know were it is other than it is certainly not here. What we need to do is start moving to see if we can find it elsewhere. In terms of global climate change we need to just start doing something, anything, and then evaluate if it is making enough of a difference or if we can do more or need to change direction? As we do so more and more options or clearer paths will open before us because we will learn and grow.

    P.S. I have been writing more on the actual impacts that we need to be managing over on the climate thread. Interestingly, I find that there is much less interest from people about the real day to day impacts we need to manage than the big picture gee whiz science.

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 8:38am

    #10
    reflector

    reflector

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 20 2011

    Posts: 252

    skepticism

    i submitted a link to the 8/2 digest in the hopes of eliciting a comment on a theory i read about, that seems fascinating but hard to believe.

    a couple weeks ago i discovered a youtube channel called suspicious 0bservers, they have interesting videos of sun spots, earth weather, and earth seismic activity. i've been watching their videos, apparently the working hypothesis is that the sun's solar flares / CMEs can cause earthquakes here on our own humble planet.

    the idea seemed hard to accept – how could a stream of charged particles from the sun do any more than cause some pretty colors in the sky (northern lights)?

    but, if i'm understanding the concept correctly, the earth's core is both liquid and highly magnetized, and the earth resides in the sun's magnetic field, and fluctuations in that field can cause shifts to occur here on earth.

    and they seem to have data which shows a high correlation between solar activity and earth seismic activity, here is the associated website space weather news:

    The Sun Triggers Large Earthquakes

    also: http://www.suspicious0bservers.org/

    has anyone come across this theory before?

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 11:38am

    #11

    Rector

    Status Bronze Member (Online)

    Joined: Feb 07 2010

    Posts: 324

    Sometimes I wish we could all be in the same room

    It would be fascinating to assemble this group of people and hammer these things out one topic at a time.  We could start with easy stuff and then get to AGW and atheism at the end.  Imagine the conversation. . .

    Rector

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 11:42am

    Reply to #10

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    more on eqs

    If you want to play around with the ideas of CME stimulated quakes and correllations between quakes and perigee/apogee/full moons/syzygy , the current website for that would be
    earthboppin.net

    The science is in the super-beginning stages (stamp collecting) but that doesn’t make it any less a science, rather it makes it lest respected. It also makes the whole field subject to non-scientific stuff as well, so read everything with a huge grain of salt.

    This was the heir to Jim Berkland’s syzygyjob.com; as he approached his death through old age, he stopped maintaining his website, and one of his associates started up earthboppin in parallel.

    Jim Berkland was a usgs employee who nonprofessionally but very publicly predicted several great quakes, including the World Series quake, and got slapped down as a result.

    I fully encourage you to start reading about it; it is a beginning science, so it’s one of those fields where it’s just as hard to make a dent, but conversely, it’s easy to make a dent and be famous if you luckily stumble on the right formula; and you can push the field through simple hard work and maybe become a household name one day. So if you want to do it, go for it.

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 12:36pm

    Reply to #11
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 868

    It has happened before

    "The Inklings"

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 12:54pm

    Reply to #9

    Oliveoilguy

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 29 2012

    Posts: 521

    Equitable Sacrifies

    Mark Said:  " we have to make decisions that will require changes and sacrifices if we want to provide more options to the people who come after us."

    OK so here is the sacrifice we all need to make….if we all lived equally on this planet,  consumption would drop as would pollution. There are 7.4 Billion people and 241Trillion dollars of wealth to divide equally………….. so that gives each of us a nice $32,567.00 to work with. I guess my wife and I'll get 1/8 acre of land with a 250 square foot cabin on it and a scooter to get around. That should leave us some money for food and clothes. No travel more than 60 miles from home.  Anyone else want to join this plan?    We all have to leave our  $300,000.00 homes multiple cars etc. and all the energy it takes to maintain that standard of living.

     

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 2:51pm

    #12
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 868

    if capitalism is the best

    system for exploitation on the way up, what is the best system for the remedevalization?

     

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 2:57pm

    #13

    pyranablade

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 08 2010

    Posts: 206

    Techno-Triumphalism

    Hi Spencer,

    You called it techno-optimism. James Howard Kunstler has given talks about collapse aka "The Long Emergency" at places like Google Headquarters. He says those techies are in denial, telling him "Dude, we got all this technology…" True dat. We have tons of technology. But what they don't understand is that fossil fuels are the feedstock for almost all of this technology. We haven't been looking forward, we haven't been planning. Or. more precisely, we have been planning for a world that will stay the same, instead of the one that is already changing.

    Kunstler again has pointed out that Capitalism is the system that is the most efficient (best) for exploiting fossil fuels on the way up Hubbert's Peak. But on the way down…. you know where I'm going with this, market forces – can we count on market forces to save us? Let me put it this way: The Tesla vehicle is not likely to survive the next recession.

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 4:49pm

    Reply to #13

    Jim H

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 08 2009

    Posts: 1798

    Techno-isms...

    Pyrana, and others…

    Kunstler again has pointed out that Capitalism is the system that is the most efficient (best) for exploiting fossil fuels on the way up Hubbert's Peak. But on the way down…. you know where I'm going with this, market forces – can we count on market forces to save us? Let me put it this way: The Tesla vehicle is not likely to survive the next recession.

    I am not sure that a form of free market capitalism wouldn't work if we simply were able to value things correctly in the context of what is true.  This is one of the goals of the current hybrid or hyphenated study called environmental-economics.  You can have a dumb, techno-hopeful capitalism, or simply capitalism that deals with truth.. which is not to say that we have much capitalism at all anymore in the era of central planning.. but you get my drift.   

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 4:52pm

    Reply to #12

    pyranablade

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 08 2010

    Posts: 206

    Answer

    Robie,

    Kunstler doesn't offer solutions.

    Martenson says we're in a predicament. And, since climate change is already here, one thing we have to do is to deal with it. Or, we need to deal with it in a more sustainable way. I mean, when hurricane Sandy comes do you encourage people to re-build in that sensitive area? Or hurricane Katrina, before New Orleans was built there were thousands of acres of wetlands that would have cushioned the blow of Katrina – literally.

    But to your question of what economic/political system is best for "remedevalization" I will only say that you know and I know that whatever it is, we Americans aren't going to like it.

    Nevertheless, we're headed into a period of less resource availability. Maybe we should voluntarily consume less. I suppose there is something anti-capitalist about that.

     

     

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 6:13pm

    Reply to #9

    LesPhelps

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 475

    Oliveoilguy wrote:Mark

    [quote=Oliveoilguy]

    Mark Said:  " we have to make decisions that will require changes and sacrifices if we want to provide more options to the people who come after us."

    OK so here is the sacrifice we all need to make….if we all lived equally on this planet,  consumption would drop as would pollution. There are 7.4 Billion people and 241Trillion dollars of wealth to divide equally………….. so that gives each of us a nice $32,567.00 to work with. I guess my wife and I'll get 1/8 acre of land with a 250 square foot cabin on it and a scooter to get around. That should leave us some money for food and clothes. No travel more than 60 miles from home.  Anyone else want to join this plan?    We all have to leave our  $300,000.00 homes multiple cars etc. and all the energy it takes to maintain that standard of living.

    [/quote]

    Interesting idea.  

    So a family who decided to have 6 children would get a much larger allocation than a family who chose a more conservative one or two children?  A person who lounged around all his/her life, would get the same distribution as a person who worked hard for 40 or 50 years and saved?  Keep in mind, it was the latter persons work that made it possible for the former person to lounge.

    What happens when one family quadruples their allocation, while another family squanders their allocation and becomes destitute again?  Does the first family reallocate funds to the latter?  I wonder where the capital comes from to start a business or build a hospital?

    Interesting plan.  I think I'll wait to see if any other ideas crop up, before I jump onboard.

    cool

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 6:43pm

    Reply to #13

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4635

    It's not technology that will save us...

    [quote=pyranablade]

    (…) We have tons of technology. But what they don't understand is that fossil fuels are the feedstock for almost all of this technology. We haven't been looking forward, we haven't been planning. Or. more precisely, we have been planning for a world that will stay the same, instead of the one that is already changing.

    [/quote]

    This point needs to be made over and over again; technology is not going to save us.  We already have all the technology (and understanding) we need, but we're not using it yet.

    The simple example I keep hammering over and over is solar thermal.  Black boxes that sit on roofs and have pipes in them which heat water for next to nothing after manufacturing and installation.  Nothing sexy, nothing hard.

    They work fantastic in MA, would work even more fantastically in more southerly areas.  They make sense on every dimension; financial, ecological, local jobs & investment, and even national security (as fossil fuels not needed to heat water limiting foreign dependence).

    There is no logical or rational barrier to not using solar thermal.  The reason we don't is because people don't yet believe we need to.  It's about beliefs, not reason.  

    We don't need an Elon Musk to come along and wow us with $80,000 cars that drive as awesomely as we hope such expensive vehicles might.

    The difficulty I have with the Shermers of the world is that they have the mental ability to run the numbers, but they don't.  They just wave their hands lazily at the shiny, new technologies and then use the equally lazy magic incantation "market forces."

    Together these ideas form an impenetrable fortress of "reason" for many people.  The very height of sophisticated rationality.

    The only problem is they have not managed to account for this chart:

    How about we don't lazily wave our hands at Elon, but instead put forward a rational plan for replacing 11 billion tons of petroleum equivalents?

    It has to happen someday, and, no, "market forces" are not up to the task of replacing denser fuel sources with less dense, more expensive fuels.

     

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 6:49pm

    Reply to #12

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    Best system for remedevalizatien

    I’d say that would be prayer, scripture reading, and quiet labor.
    Monasticism can help, but isn’t all that without the other.

    You did ask for best, didn’t you?

    Perhaps you’d better define the word. Josef Stalin’s boxcars also work, and from his point of view that’s best.

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 8:28pm

    #14
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 868

    thanks Mike

    had my mare settled, and now she has freshened..ie.we're pre collapsing. Stalins boxcars seem another method of extraction, just not capitalism?  Natures boxcars would be to solve the over population thru….that is going to happen whether we want it to or not.

    I was wondering outloud if society could find a way to remedevalize with out nature forcing acute depopulation. I gratefully lifted the word, remedevalization from JHK.

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 8:37pm

    #15

    AKGrannyWGrit

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 06 2011

    Posts: 459

    Chart

    Would love to see the chart "World a Energy Consumption by Fuel" projected out a few decades or even a century.  Any guesses?

    AK GrannyWGrit

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 9:48pm

    Reply to #5

    Mots

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 18 2012

    Posts: 67

    Techno-optimism

    This presentation was disturbing (yet stimulating, no complaint here) on a number of levels.

    One, the idea that science (the use of cause and effect analysis to predict the behavior of something that lacks free will) is or should be the basis of dealing with people and to base government action, with outcome determinative effects on freedom and liberty and a world view on this  has been hijacked by the elite including their government apparatus.  Most jobs and functions of the "science" and "scientists" presented here ( "I’m a science guy. I have training in the social sciences, experimental psychology in particular") are government apparatchiks who deny our basic freedoms and manage our lives because they know more than us how we should live.  Thus we have government psychology "scientists" in the "science" fields of "psychology, the science of human behavior" and "economics" tell us with authority or simply take actions as in the case of government control of returning veterans (government psychologists take away their guns, limit freedom) and dissidents (put them into mental hospitals to protect politicians from their truth) etc. to restrict them for their own good.  We learn from a "science guy" in human behavior and in the "history" of all science that  "We have to look at the long run and the long term over the course of centuries. I really start centuries or even millennia ago and look at how things used to be compared to now…….(therefore) the rich shall get richer."  So lets accept the rapid loss of freedom and the sudden impoverishment of the people in favor of our super rich elite ruling class.  Its really nothing compared with your life 10,000 years ago, so be happy!  This is a standard elite meme, that Warren Buffet promotes.  Do you realize that the formerly middle class (now poor) people in America live better than the Kings of the middle ages?  Be thankful! Nothing to see here, just move along.  We get this same garbage from "I am a PhD economics scientist and I will micro manage your work/economy because I know better than you" from the Federal Reserve that similarly has been hijacked by "scientists."

    Trust me, I am a scientist.  As a scientist I have carefully checked the data and it is a basic "scientific!" fact that "The rich shall get richer" so get over it.   

    The word "science" and the meaning of "scientist" has been hijacked by a group of people that need to control money "economics scientist" and other people "social sciences, experimental psychology" for THEIR (or their managers) benefit.  The government administration support apparatus of the elite naturally employ such "science" and "scientists" as cover for their aims (as a fig leaf to cover their otherwise raw dictating) and the newly impoverished are beginning to figure this out.  As a result, the meaning of "science" and "scientist" is severely damaged irrevocably in the minds of the populace who no longer trust "scientists" and eventually hate "scientists." This is similar to what happened at the end of the Roman Empire and is one characteristic of the coming dark ages.  Gerald Celente pointed out this problem and explained that any real scientist will have to find shelter in a type of small, resilient community monastery in the years ahead.  
    Those of us baby boomers who grew up in the 50s and 60s saw how "science!" was used to sell toothpaste and mouthwash.  This has evolved to a general control/rationalization by the elite in our lives.  In my view thus, the "techno optimism" meme mentioned by Spencer#### is just another tool employed by a (system?) of the ruling elite to have their way with us.

     

     

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 10:05pm

    Reply to #9

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    As a project manager for prestress, I can say...

    … that your plan would double my cash reserves, meet my housing, and meet my land ownership.
    The scooter would be an improvement on my walk today, but a step down from my normal minivan (which is in the shop right now). But if it is as you describe, I think I’d prefer bicycles, with electric assist carts.

    Just sayin’.

    Say, I have an idea…
    … if your state of life is above that which you described, we wouldn’t have to wait for everyone else. You could downgrade, I could upgrade, and we’d be known as early adopters!

    what do you think? Give it a go?

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 10:08pm

    Reply to #9

    Oliveoilguy

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 29 2012

    Posts: 521

    The guilt of being comfortable

    I feel a certain amount of guilt to be so blessed to have a "easy" life relative to so many unfortunate people in the world. Yes ….I work very hard, and do charitable giving….and am trying to live with a light footprint (solar, rainwater, gardens, etc.), but there is nothing that could compel me to give up my entire lifestyle and immerse myself in poverty.  Obviously the scenario in the earlier post is impossible, but assuming some science fiction moment where the benevolent dictator could readjust all the world's inequities and reset the "fairness meter", it would just be a starting point with everyone having their 32K. It would have to be a one time reset. And you have a point Les, that going forward, things might not be so great. All the people who's wealth had been taken for redistribution would be pissed, unless the dictator had some good mind control tools at her disposal. And the incentive to excel might be missing.

    The question is …..How much are we willing to give up to try to achieve fairness? And don't we all think that we might be better stewards of our possessions than the next person, and that for the common good many items should remain under our control?

    I guess anyone with a conscience grapples with this issue.

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 10:34pm

    #16
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 28 2009

    Posts: 282

    Skeptic or Debunker

    Shermer, like many skeptics, doesn't carefully analyze data.  So called skeptics dismiss data that doesn't fit their world view — the antithesis of the scientific method. They also don't understand the limits of science, the politics involved in the scientific process.

    When it comes to persistent claims of paranormal or other worldly events, they aren't content to be agnostic. They have to describe in belittling terms, what can't be recreated in a lab setting, as untrue. Simple reason suggests this is blinkered materialism, at it's worst. 

    Why not simply admit that much of life is experiential and science can't replicate it. 

    I am still waiting to hear what he has to say about 911. I would also like to know more about his take on Csicop, (Psi-cop) and it's ties to Prometheus books and if it's true Csicop had a convicted or suspected pedophile among their membership– Also if these same members were ever on their board of directors. I want to know, if it IS true,  did they investigate these individuals thoroughly before they disseminated the 'false memory syndrome,' theory into the mainstream. Another question I would ask is why both are headquartered in Arlington, Virginia–Spooksville. 

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  • Thu, Aug 04, 2016 - 10:45pm

    Reply to #13
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 28 2009

    Posts: 282

    cmartenson wrote:pyranablade

    [quote=cmartenson]

    [quote=pyranablade]

    (…) We have tons of technology. But what they don't understand is that fossil fuels are the feedstock for almost all of this technology. We haven't been looking forward, we haven't been planning. Or. more precisely, we have been planning for a world that will stay the same, instead of the one that is already changing.

    [/quote]

    This point needs to be made over and over again; technology is not going to save us.  We already have all the technology (and understanding) we need, but we're not using it yet.

    The simple example I keep hammering over and over is solar thermal.  Black boxes that sit on roofs and have pipes in them which heat water for next to nothing after manufacturing and installation.  Nothing sexy, nothing hard.

    They work fantastic in MA, would work even more fantastically in more southerly areas.  They make sense on every dimension; financial, ecological, local jobs & investment, and even national security (as fossil fuels not needed to heat water limiting foreign dependence).

    There is no logical or rational barrier to not using solar thermal.  The reason we don't is because people don't yet believe we need to.  It's about beliefs, not reason.  

    We don't need an Elon Musk to come along and wow us with $80,000 cars that drive as awesomely as we hope such expensive vehicles might.

    The difficulty I have with the Shermers of the world is that they have the mental ability to run the numbers, but they don't.  They just wave their hands lazily at the shiny, new technologies and then use the equally lazy magic incantation "market forces."

    Together these ideas form an impenetrable fortress of "reason" for many people.  The very height of sophisticated rationality.

    The only problem is they have not managed to account for this chart:

    How about we don't lazily wave our hands at Elon, but instead put forward a rational plan for replacing 11 billion tons of petroleum equivalents?

    It has to happen someday, and, no, "market forces" are not up to the task of replacing denser fuel sources with less dense, more expensive fuels.

     

    [/quote]

    Totally agree. There has been, in my opinion, out and out blockading of serious efforts to employ tech we already have. This is radiating from within the deep state outwards.  Oil has been backing the dollar, giving it reserve currency status.  That status has subsidized the U.S and also provided a conduit for Saudi money– funneled right back into American banks.  The American way of life has thus far been running on oil. It feels like this is slowly changing and the control of the financial sphere, globally, will be executed from satellites.  This is no doubt the reason tension is developing towards China, another power poised to compete in that stratosphere. I suggest listening to Catherine Austin Fitts on Dark Journalist. 

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 1:11am

    Reply to #5
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 28 2009

    Posts: 282

    Mots wrote:This presentation

    [quote=Mots]

    This presentation was disturbing (yet stimulating, no complaint here) on a number of levels.

    One, the idea that science (the use of cause and effect analysis to predict the behavior of something that lacks free will) is or should be the basis of dealing with people and to base government action, with outcome determinative effects on freedom and liberty and a world view on this  has been hijacked by the elite including their government apparatus.  Most jobs and functions of the "science" and "scientists" presented here ( "I’m a science guy. I have training in the social sciences, experimental psychology in particular") are government apparatchiks who deny our basic freedoms and manage our lives because they know more than us how we should live.  Thus we have government psychology "scientists" in the "science" fields of "psychology, the science of human behavior" and "economics" tell us with authority or simply take actions as in the case of government control of returning veterans (government psychologists take away their guns, limit freedom) and dissidents (put them into mental hospitals to protect politicians from their truth) etc. to restrict them for their own good.  We learn from a "science guy" in human behavior and in the "history" of all science that  "We have to look at the long run and the long term over the course of centuries. I really start centuries or even millennia ago and look at how things used to be compared to now…….(therefore) the rich shall get richer."  So lets accept the rapid loss of freedom and the sudden impoverishment of the people in favor of our super rich elite ruling class.  Its really nothing compared with your life 10,000 years ago, so be happy!  This is a standard elite meme, that Warren Buffet promotes.  Do you realize that the formerly middle class (now poor) people in America live better than the Kings of the middle ages?  Be thankful! Nothing to see here, just move along.  We get this same garbage from "I am a PhD economics scientist and I will micro manage your work/economy because I know better than you" from the Federal Reserve that similarly has been hijacked by "scientists."

    Trust me, I am a scientist.  As a scientist I have carefully checked the data and it is a basic "scientific!" fact that "The rich shall get richer" so get over it.   

    The word "science" and the meaning of "scientist" has been hijacked by a group of people that need to control money "economics scientist" and other people "social sciences, experimental psychology" for THEIR (or their managers) benefit.  The government administration support apparatus of the elite naturally employ such "science" and "scientists" as cover for their aims (as a fig leaf to cover their otherwise raw dictating) and the newly impoverished are beginning to figure this out.  As a result, the meaning of "science" and "scientist" is severely damaged irrevocably in the minds of the populace who no longer trust "scientists" and eventually hate "scientists." This is similar to what happened at the end of the Roman Empire and is one characteristic of the coming dark ages.  Gerald Celente pointed out this problem and explained that any real scientist will have to find shelter in a type of small, resilient community monastery in the years ahead.  
    Those of us baby boomers who grew up in the 50s and 60s saw how "science!" was used to sell toothpaste and mouthwash.  This has evolved to a general control/rationalization by the elite in our lives.  In my view thus, the "techno optimism" meme mentioned by Spencer#### is just another tool employed by a (system?) of the ruling elite to have their way with us.

     

     

    [/quote]

     

    I would love to read this but I can't because I will get eye-bleed trying, if it isn't broken into more paragraphs. Bummer, because grammatically, it maybe shouldn't be.  But my eyes. Oi oi oi …what can I say??

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 1:51am

    #17
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 868

    Mare settled?

     

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 1:52am

    #18
    Time2help

    Time2help

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 08 2011

    Posts: 2252

    Overly Theatrical Election Politics

    I'm not hard over on this one, just putting it out there. Something to consider.

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 2:24am

    Reply to #18
    MarkM

    MarkM

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 22 2008

    Posts: 355

    Weird

    [quote=Time2help]

    I'm not hard over on this one, just putting it out there. Something to consider.

    [/quote]

    I had this very same thought for the first time earlier this afternoon.

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 2:33am

    #19
    Uncletommy

    Uncletommy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 03 2014

    Posts: 524

    Laying it by, indeed.

    After watching that video, Peak Oil doesn't look as scary as it's played up to be. How's that work for hilling potatoes? Managed to get my old Troybuilt tiller to last 31 years, but they stopped making the Kohler 8 horse engine. Just defrosted my 43 year old freezer yesterday and she didn't break a sweat getting down to temp. My scythe still cuts and my wife and I after 46 years of marriage still bake bread, can produce from the garden and kill chickens together..

    Perhaps we should stop focusing on GDP and direct our efforts to making things that last, whether it be animal, mineral or relationships. Skeptics are just realists that get things done. Do we really need more experts to advise us on how to live?

    The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.  – John Kenneth Galbraith

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 4:04am

    Reply to #18

    LesPhelps

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 475

    MarkM wrote:Time2help

    [quote=MarkM]

    [quote=Time2help]

    I'm not hard over on this one, just putting it out there. Something to consider.

    [/quote]

    I had this very same thought for the first time earlier this afternoon.

    [/quote]

    It is not possible to make Hillary look like a sensible choice.

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 8:53am

    Reply to #9

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    A Different Focus Needed

    Hello Mark,

    Thanks for answering me. I can see now that you really don't have any answers to the problems poised by climate change. I was actually hoping that you would have some … or at least one. I do have a quibble or two. If it truly is a predicament (as defined at PP,) then, there truly isn't any solution possible – only outcomes to manage.

    [quote=Mark Cochrane]

    In terms of global climate change we need to just start doing something, anything, and then evaluate if it is making enough of a difference or if we can do more or need to change direction?

    [/quote]

    This statement is totally contrary to accepting climate change as a "predicament." When you implore people to just start doing something, anything … you build on the worry that there is a solution, but we're just not smart enough to find it. There is no solution – only outcomes to manage. Why do you make statements like the above quote?

    Earlier in your reply, you stated:

    Peak oil/energy can progressively send us back toward the stone age over centuries but humans survived without it before and can do so again, while the rest of nature will actually improve for all of our troubles.

    I think you're overly optimistic that we have centuries before we'll be back in the stone age. The economy needs ever increasing energy to function as it has been designed. When energy constraints limit economic growth, debts become increasingly difficult to be paid thus causing banks to suffer. With enough defaults, banks become insolvent. Without solvent banks issuing letters of credit, commerce drops rapidly. Can central banks buy up all the bad debt to keep the banks liquefied? Perhaps for a while, but when Joe Sixpack sees that his friend defaulted without significant consequences, the contagion will overwhelm the central banks' ability to forestall the inevitable.

    Knowing how long the economy can function on fossil fuels is critical to building the infrastructure that will replace it. If business as usual can last for centuries, we've got plenty of time to develop and build alternate energy sources. If the economy collapses in 5, 10, or even 50 years, we'd be hard pressed to ramp up these alternate energy sources so they can keep business continuing as usual. Because people have been led to believe we have centuries of oil left, there isn't any rush.

    I've started looking into the partial solutions that Doug suggested on the Freedom Fest thread Comment #46. It is relevant here because these are some of "just start doing something, anything" possibilities.

    [quote=Doug]

    <snip> The science is pretty clear and a lot can be done about it while recognizing there are still differences at the margins.  Wind, solar, other renewables, carbon taxes and conservation are obvious partial solutions that could be initiated and scaled up rapidly.  Don't let issues like using cement in the foundations stop us, find some other foundation methods.  Drilling into bedrock works.  There were at least dozens of small hydroelectric dams in upstate NY before they were decommissioned and torn down in favor of large grid systems.  Well, maybe its time to rethink some of those local solutions with compromises to protect populations of aquatic species.  I'm still hesitant about nuclear as it has problems that seem insoluble, waste being the biggie.  But, there are smart folks out there who might be able to resolve those problems. <snip>

    [/quote]

    Of these, solar has the most promise and mostly in low latitude locations. As Chris noted, passive solar to heat water is a great idea for individual homes/businesses! There are few moving parts to wear out and it can be built inexpensively. It will augment another water heater, but not replace it everywhere year round. Solar energy is intermittent. When it comes to photovoltaic panels, unless batteries are incorporated in the system, the energy needs to be consumed the moment it is generated or it is lost. From what I understand, cheap batteries wear out rapidly. Good batteries (like nickel iron) are expensive and relatively inefficient, but they last much longer. Either way, solar panel salesmen won't included that in their EROEI calculations.

    Wind turbines share solar's intermittent character. I was surprised to see University studies that claimed that harvested energy can replace invested energy in 5-8 months and that these turbines have a design life of 20-25 years. Again, these studies ignore battery EROEI or the need for traditional electrical generation facilities. It makes sense if are willing to use all the energy created when it is created and be willing to not use it on cold, windless, winter nights. I guess I don't buy the 5-8 month payback time.

    Worse than that, wind turbines are designed to need regular maintenance. What happens in a Kunstleresq "Lights out" scenario. Without needed maintenance, the machines will eventually destroy themselves.  This 6+ minute video shows some of the other problems with wind turbines.

    I'm not sure what Doug means by other renewables. I also suppose Doug can wave his magic wand and create new foundation methods so we don't have to deal with the problems of reinforced concrete. Drilling into bedrock still requires reinforced concrete. What do we do when bedrock is too deep or too rotten? 

    Hydroelectric comes with its own environmental issues. I doubt one could be environmentally cleared and built in 10 years. Smaller, older units are being decommissioned and removed across the country. Besides, most of the appropriate sites have already been dammed. Nuclear power plants will flame out in a "Lights out" scenario like a wind turbine … only much more impressively.

    Mark noted that he likes Les Phelps' approach to voluntary conservation of fossil fuels. It makes sense on a personal economic basis to reduce the need for fossil fuels, but we can't conserve a finite resource (like oil) enough to make it sustainable. The oil that Les saves will just be consumed by the next person in the gas line. If enough people adopted Les' approach, oil demand would drop … as would the prices. We would still run out of oil. It will give us more business as usual so the world population would grow bigger.

    Finally – carbon taxes. What would happen if the US imposed carbon taxes? It would make economic sense for any business that could offshore their work to do so – to avoid the tax. What would happen if every government in the world instituted carbon taxes? Products would become more expensive so people would consume less. (On the surface, that's good.) Businesses would contract. There would be less economic activity (meaning more loan defaults. Below the surface, that's not so good.) What happens when a foreign country decides the economic pain due to carbon taxes is too much to bear? There's quite an incentive to cheat. How are you going to keep them from cheating? If you don't, others will cheat as well. I suppose we could all vote for One World Government. Who's going to keep the "leaders" in check?

    This is why I'm allergic to partial solutions.

    Grover

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 11:31am

    #20

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    The Ego.

    When you attach your ego to an idea, you've got problems.

    You are not the idea. The idea can die and you will lose no blood. I promise.

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 12:01pm

    Reply to #13

    Rector

    Status Bronze Member (Online)

    Joined: Feb 07 2010

    Posts: 324

    Solar Thermal Water Heater - No Joke

    I finally got a chance to install one of these things – and WOW – in Texas it works like a new car.  It is producing so much hot water, that we had to build a roman shade device for it that will partially shade the tubes!  It was heating water well in excess of what could be used.  It is such a simple device that I am embarrassed that I have waited this long to put one in.  Really like it for a family of six.

    Rector

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 12:03pm

    Reply to #9

    LesPhelps

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 475

    Grover wrote:Mark noted that

    [quote=Grover]

    Mark noted that he likes Les Phelps' approach to voluntary conservation of fossil fuels. It makes sense on a personal economic basis to reduce the need for fossil fuels, but we can't conserve a finite resource (like oil) enough to make it sustainable. The oil that Les saves will just be consumed by the next person in the gas line. If enough people adopted Les' approach, oil demand would drop … as would the prices. We would still run out of oil. It will give us more business as usual so the world population would grow bigger.

    [/quote]

    You finally, barely mentioned the elephant in the room, POPULATION.  

    There is an easy, quick, inexpensive, low energy, partial solution to climate change.  Produce 7.3 Billion identical pills, half of them lethal, half of them placebos.  See that everyone takes one…

    I'm obviously not serious, but dealing with the population issue, if we ever do, is going to cause more of a ruckus than getting people to voluntarily reduce their energy consumption.

    Rarely, does anyone talk about population, in a climate change debate and yet, population is one of the two components of the ecological foot print.  Consumption changes are always discussed, but never population. Even stopping continued population growth, rarely gets honorable mention.

    If AGW is legit (and I won't join that fray), population has to be addressed.  It simply has to, or there is no real solution.

    I don't agree that partial solutions aren't the answer.  An adequate mix of partial solutions can change humanities path.  I've cut my oil consumption dramatically, but sadly only compare favorably to other U.S. Citizens.  If everyone else worked toward the same goal, we could perhaps double the life span of remaining petroleum reserves, giving us twice as much time to employ alternatives.

    My wife and I just spent a couple of days with some close friends at their lake cabin.  We saw them using SUVs, ski boats and other gas powered toys and tools.  In retrospect, I didn't see them having a greater amount of fun, or accomplishing more than I do.  My hybrid gets me just as far, just as fast as their Suburban.  I believe I have just as much fun, or perhaps more, riding my scooter to the hardware store as they do water skiing or riding an tube behind a boat.  In fact, they spent and spend a lot more time maintaining their lake cabin, ski boat, fishing boat, pontoon boat and other toys, than they do "enjoying" them. It is not a lifestyle that I want to duplicate.

    Humans are "monkey see monkey do."  Every person who demonstrates that you can truly enjoy an alternative lifestyle helps.  If Hollywood ever started selling alternative lifestyle, instead of what it tries to sell today, Katie bar the door. 

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 12:54pm

    Reply to #13

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4635

    Thumbs up!

    [quote=Rector]

    I finally got a chance to install one of these things – and WOW – in Texas it works like a new car.  It is producing so much hot water, that we had to build a roman shade device for it that will partially shade the tubes!  It was heating water well in excess of what could be used.  It is such a simple device that I am embarrassed that I have waited this long to put one in.  Really like it for a family of six.

    Rector

    [/quote]

    yesyesyes

    Way to go!  Doesn't endless free hot water feel good?  Free after installation I mean.

    People could also, should they choose, built net zero, or even net negative structures.  Nothing stopping us but the faith that fossil fuels will always be there.

     

     

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 1:33pm

    #21

    sand_puppy

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 13 2011

    Posts: 1911

    Turnkey Solar Thermal Water Heater for Climates w Freezing

    Could those of you who are familiar with this technology point us to a turn-key unit that would be suitable for a climate where winter freezing occurs.  (We have ~20 days where temps are below-freezing each  year in central Virginia.)

    Just a note of appreciation to rector above for pointing out a specific product that he has used.  Very helpful for those of us unfamiliar with the technology.  It looks like this particular product is best suited for warm climates, though.

     

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 1:45pm

    #22

    sand_puppy

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 13 2011

    Posts: 1911

    Solar Water Heating for Winter Greenhouse

    Does anyone have experience using a barrel or tank of solar heated water to sit in a greenhouse in winter to keep temps stable and well above freezing?

    I have seen gardeners put several large (50 gallon) barrels full of water inside greenhouses to function as a "heat mass" that absorbs heat in the daytime and releases heat at night to even out daily temperature fluctuations inside the greenhouse.

    But to really garden during a prolonged cold spell, we would need active heating of the water.  Anyone have experience with heating a large tank of water that would sit in a greenhouse?

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 2:10pm

    #23

    sand_puppy

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 13 2011

    Posts: 1911

    Ken From Utah pointed out ....

    at the Rowe Conference this year, that a devastating war or pandemic that killed off half of humanity's 7 billion people would still only set the population levels to those seen in the 1960s. 

    Such is the deceptive nature of the steep part of an exponential curve.

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 3:49pm

    Reply to #9

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    I think there's a better way to do solar/wind.

    Suppose you make a concrete building, with concrete vanes that spiral inwards, and a "floor" that goes from perhaps 10' high up to 50' high.  On the outside of the concrete fixed vanes, place adjustable metal vanes.

    Now, the metal vanes control flow; the fixed vanes and the sloping floor concentrate the velocity.  At the center, it all funnels into a small tesla turbine that dumps to the top. The tesla turbine, in turn, drives a shaft that operates one of 6 generators (2 @ each phase) down below.  At this point, you can take out of service 1,2,3 or 4,5,6, and repair/replace them. 

    So I suspect that this turbine will be easier to replace.  Moreover, the number of moving parts are greatly reduced:  the turbine is small, and not at risk of explosion or disintegration; the venturi is without moving parts. 

    Now, to make the thing less sporadic and more efficient, paint your concrete vanes with carbon black, and use mirrors to direct sunlight in to the interior of the windmill.  The solar will heat the air as it increases speed, resulting in an increase in pressure, that makes even a small wind much more effective.

    Item number 3:  place a giant underground concrete flywheel, with permanent magnets down below.  Use that flywheel to store excess daytime energy, and release it as needed.  At this point, you are not sporadic.

    There's one more, for an item #4, but I'm going to reserve that for now… it's a much better design for electric motors and generators in general.

     

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 4:01pm

    Reply to #22

    herewego

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 11 2010

    Posts: 126

    Northlands Winter Greenhouse

    Hi Sandpuppy

    I don't have an answer to your question, but here is a very interesting, well-tested tangent that's working for market farmers and homesteaders in N. Minnesota.  It it a greenhouse model that keeps temps high enough even in Minnesota to grow baby greens throughout winter.  It uses heat sinks like water, but adds some other construction elements to capture and store solar heat for the plants.

    I have not built one yet and may not because I'm north of 49, and every degree north reduces sunlight in winter.  The folks I contacted at the university were not sure it could work any further north because of the low angle of sunlight in winter.  Anybody else here have experience with this?  Canadians? Northern Europeans?

    There is an excellent how-to book, The Northlands Winter Greenhouse Manual

    As well, the U of M has taken the building technology on.  Super interesting.

    http://www.extension.umn.edu/rsdp/statewide/deep-winter-greenhouse/

    Cheers

    Susan

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 6:29pm

    Reply to #9

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Elephants and Barrels

    [quote=LesPhelps]

    You finally, barely mentioned the elephant in the room, POPULATION.

    [/quote]

    Les,

    I've mentioned this several times in the past. I agree with you that it is the elephant in the room. Because we can't actually address it, nothing can be done to solve our situation. I don't know what the final global population should be. I contend that when everything is reduced to local sustainability, some areas will turn into ghost towns and some areas won't notice as much disruption. Las Vegas is a leading candidate for future poster-child ghost town. Small towns with sufficient local food should weather the inevitable storm better.

    I used to drive a Prius myself. It got great gas mileage. I haven't checked into how much energy was needed to manufacture it, but that needs to go into your mental calculation as well. The roads you drive on, the hardware store, the supplies you buy, etc. all have embedded energy. It isn't just the gas that powers you that matters.

    There aren't enough partial solutions to overcome the elephantine problems. Some can be scaled up, but we need to know (or assume) how much time we have to do so. If you think we have centuries, there isn't any urgency. If we only have years up to a decade or two, it is already too late. Currently, these solutions are marginal at best. As people drive by giant wind farms in their SUVs towing boats and other gas powered toys, they get a false sense that we're actually solving the big problems. It keeps them off the politicians' backs; therefore, the politicians win.

    I'm glad that you are enjoying yourself. I've found that frugality is its own reward. Of course, the economy would collapse if everyone followed our example.

    Sand_Puppy,

    I placed 8 55 gallon drums in my 16' X 16' greenhouse one year to help overwinter plants. We had a cold snap with temps dropping to near or below zero for a week. The barrels all became ice cubes and I lost my delicate plants. That wasn't sufficient to keep it warm for this long. I've considered building a rocket mass heater, but haven't done so yet. It will take a while to learn how often it needs to be fired, but I think it is a promising solution for keeping a small space warm enough if you have enough woody debris and have the time to tend it.

    Grover

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 7:28pm

    #24

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    Is this the focus you want?

    Hello Grover,

    Not quite sure we are seeing this the same way:

    Grover wrote:

    Mark Cochrane wrote:

    In terms of global climate change we need to just start doing something, anything, and then evaluate if it is making enough of a difference or if we can do more or need to change direction?

    This statement is totally contrary to accepting climate change as a "predicament." When you implore people to just start doing something, anything … you build on the worry that there is a solution, but we're just not smart enough to find it. There is no solution – only outcomes to manage. Why do you make statements like the above quote?

    I do not agree with your interpretation. When you are diagnosed with diabetes (type II) you are not stuck with either curing it (solution that isn't forthcoming) or doing nothing. Diet and exercise can go a long way to managing your predicament, as my own mother has shown, or you can move on to insulin injections. You could use the same analogy with the predicament we all face, namely the terminal predicament of aging. There is no cure but plenty of ways to manage the situation, some more effective than others.

    With climate change we can't put the genie back in the bottle (cure/solve). We can manage the predicament through either cutting greenhouse gas emission levels (mitigation) so that things don't get as bad as quickly, or through adaptations like moving to cooler climes or building higher and higher sea walls. Mitigation is analogous to the diet and exercise for the diabetic (all of us actually), while adaptive actions are like taking insulin to help mask the symptoms. It is not an either/or proposition, we can and should do both at this point. Business as usual is clearly not viable, we need an adaptive strategy moving forward where we cut emissions and determine if we can and need to do more every several years, we also need to engage in adaptive behaviors (sea walls, crop shifts, water management) but again evaluate when to change approaches (do we raise another higher sea wall or finally abandon London?).

    I do think that it would take quite a while to get back to the stone age through energy starvation unless we really do something apocalyptic since there is a lot of embodied energy left to mine from our existing systems (ala John Michael Greer) and we'd need to either use up all of our accessible coal or lose all of our knowledge-base. This doesn't mean that our economy would look anything like it does today. The economy we have has no independent reality, it is a construct of our belief system. Our species will continue whether or not this economic model continues to exist, however, our way of life will not continue without it. The current social systems that we enjoy are predicated on lots of nearly-free energy from fossil fuels. Without that bounty of extra energy we drop back into something more akin to the 1750-1850 era of energy dynamics. It doesn't mean we have to recreate a feudal system but that is one model that has been shown to work under lower energy availability. I am not arguing for its moral desirability just its proven track record. Other options are possible.

    The fly in the ointment of everything is population as Les keeps banging home. Our climate problem is primarily a function of population in the current economic system and our economic system's survival (growth!!!) is primarily a function of population growth. We can try to live poorer and poorer lives (in terms of energy consumption) but if the population keeps growing we will only delay the inevitable. Our economy dies without growth of consumption, growth of consumption (of food if nothing else) dies without growth of population, but ultimately our environment collapses without a decrease in our consumption levels, taking out humans and our beloved economy if we don't act. The only choice we have is when and how we will address this catch-22.

    There are other ways to live, even if we have a hard time imagining doing so. This can be forced upon us (see Kunstler's World Made by Hand series for an illustration) or it can be done by choice. I think Les hits the nail on the head!

    Humans are "monkey see monkey do."  Every person who demonstrates that you can truly enjoy an alternative lifestyle helps.  If Hollywood ever started selling alternative lifestyle, instead of what it tries to sell today, Katie bar the door.

    If enough of us embrace our personal collapse and beat the rush (Orlov) mentality we will lead by example and eventually drag the rest of the world with us since once enough opt out of the current growth of consumption at all costs mentality the economy will face its own adapt or die moment. Let's not kid ourselves, this process is underway right now whether or not we front run it by creating alternative lifestyles. Squeezing the blood out of everyone outside of the few 'elites' is killing consumption and driving 'growth' lower and lower by the year already. Wealth concentration and rising energy costs would kill the current economic model even if we did not face climate change issues.

    The only way to manage our populations lower is for death rates to exceed birth rates over the long haul. For example, if death rates exceeded birth rates by 7% per year we would drop our population by half in just 10 years. The ways to accomplish this are a moral quagmire of choices for selecting winners and losers though. We manage the populations of other species all of the time so, objectively, we know very well how to do this. The mind (at least mine) is revolted by the prospect of implementing such a process on our own kind though and that is why no one really discusses population control.

    Anyone care to take that on?

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  • Fri, Aug 05, 2016 - 9:35pm

    #25

    Taz Alloway

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 18 2010

    Posts: 461

    Anyone care to take that on?

    Nope. 

    We entertain such a variety of belief paradigms, even in the US alone, I see no way forward on a global scale to stabilize population.

    After all, it is a well- established practice to encourage reproduction among your 'membership'  (however that is defined) so that over time, your tribe, your belief system becomes the dominant one, and therefore the one in power.

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 12:30am

    Reply to #24

    Stan Robertson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 07 2008

    Posts: 516

    Check your arithmetic

    [quote=Mark Cochrane]

    The only way to manage our populations lower is for death rates to exceed birth rates over the long haul. For example, if death rates exceeded birth rates by 7% per year we would drop our population by half in just 10 years. The ways to accomplish this are a moral quagmire of choices for selecting winners and losers though. We manage the populations of other species all of the time so, objectively, we know very well how to do this. The mind (at least mine) is revolted by the prospect of implementing such a process on our own kind though and that is why no one really discusses population control.

    Anyone care to take that on?

    [/quote]

    Mark,

    If the rate of increase of population per year was R, and it was exceeded by a death rate that was 1.07R, then the population would decline exponentially with a half time of .693/(.07R). That would be ten years only if R=0.99 rather than something more like the actual R of approximately 0.01.

    Stan

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 1:42am

    #26

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    Actually

    Hello Stan,

    If the Death rate (D) exceeds the Birth rate (B) by 7%, for example B= 3% but D = 10%, this signifies that the population (P) after year 1 will be P*(100%+(B-D)) = 1*93% of what it was, 86% after year 2, 80% year 3, 75% year 4, 70% year 5, 65% year 6, 60% year 7, 56% year 8, 52% year 9, and 48% year 10. So between years 9 and 10 you would reach 50%. If you really want to land on 50% after 10 years you need a net decay rate of 6.7% if we are picking nits. This is exponential decay.

    Mark

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 2:38am

    Reply to #13
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 13 2008

    Posts: 306

    Energy efficiency

    Chris Wrote:

    "People could also, should they choose, built net zero, or even net negative structures. Nothing stopping us but the faith that fossil fuels will always be there."

    For starters, most people do not have the resources to build a net zero home. The cost of a net zero home can be 50% or more higher in cost to build. Retrofiting exising homes can be even more expensive than to build a new home.

    I am working on building an really good enegy efficient home, but its not going to be true net zero. My goal isn't to save the planet, but to be self-reliant and avoid dependence on external resources that may face shortages. I also don't want an overly complex home that is dependent on machinery or parts that probably may become impossible to obtain. I am looking to build a home that is livable in a 21st century enviroment as well as a 18th century environment. 

    There is no chance to avoid a collapse. The population is in deep overshoot and is causing large amounts of resource depletion and pollution. I am not talking just about the pending energy crisis and global warming, but that the oceans have been nearly depleted of fish stock, heavy polluted with industrial waste, Sewage and Ag. runoff. We also have problems running out of water to feed the ever growing global population. 

    There is no chance that Asia will cut back on its ever increasing demand for resources. The policies in the West intended  to cut back polution and greenhouse emissions have caused the opposite effect. World wide consumption has soared as industrial production shifted to Asia to avoid regulations and taxation. Instead of the world coping with about 450M to 350M middle class lifestyles in the the North America and Europe, we now have over 1B people chasing the Middle class lifestyle. In less then 20 Years, China has gone from nearly zero personal vehicles to more or nearly more personal vehicles than the US. The more the west tries to regulate economic development, the faster Asia will grow as even more western production shifts to Asia. 

    To top it off, nations are beginng to grow belligerent, either to obtain external resources (ie China & USA), or stable peaceful gov'ts are being toppled and replaced by extremists (Middle East, Asia). We can see the same problems occur nearly 100 years ago that lead to WW 1. The Odds favor that another World War is in the making. At some point a resource, Debt, demographics, etc, or a combination of all of them is going to destablize the Industry world resulting War.

    The World as we know it, cannot be saved. Expecting the the majority of western population can switch over to NetZero homes when most are living paycheck to paycheck, is just silly.Even if everyone in the West somehow managed to convert there homes to NetZero its not going to make a difference as Asia will continue to grow and consume any energy resources saved in the West. The only way grow is constrainted is when resources are constraited. This applies to Biology & and physics, Its pretty much a fundimental law like gravity.

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 6:56am

    #27

    thatchmo

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2008

    Posts: 325

    options.....

    I suppose some outfit could release some designer-virus every couple years to stagger a population reduction incrementally in selected areas.  I imagine Wall Street might not be on that list.  But maybe Asia, or L.A., or M.E., or Russia.  Depressing thought, but as Jim Morrison said- "Nobody here gets out alive…".  Then again a cyber-crash could take us moderns back to the 19th century.  If we survived the Nuke plant meltdowns….When all us here today are gone, will it matter?  "Of course!" most would say.  But few will consider the future in their daily life decisions.  Nature bats last.  Friday night ramblings….tough week.  Aloha, Steve.

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 8:37am

    #28

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 691

    Refocus

    Hello Mark,

    I am not advocating the "do nothing" alternative unless it makes sense. At a society wide perspective, it doesn't make sense to "just do anything, something" without a serious analysis of its likelihood of success. When I was working as an engineer, projects would filter into the office. Management would look at the particulars to see which specialists were needed, see who was available, and form a team.

    Depending on the complexity of the project, the team would review the proposal, review similar designs and relevant information, and/or schedule a site visit. After our initial review, we would get together and discuss problems from each specialist's perspective and brainstorm solutions. During the brainstorming, there (literally) weren't any bad ideas.

    For instance, if Doug were the client and wanted to build a wind turbine on his site but didn't want a traditional reinforced concrete foundation due to corrosion issues, during the brainstorming phase someone might suggest giant helium balloons. It may sound idiotic to consider such a solution, but it triggers other thought patterns. Helium balloons need tethers. Someone else might run with that and suggest using guide wires and a smaller base. That might trigger another thought to use a truss structure to spread out the loading requirements. Someone might suggest fiberglass reinforcement rather than black steel. That might trigger someone's memory about basalt reinforcement. After a while, the team has exhausted creative solutions and we moved to the next phase.

    During the next phase, we'd take a critical look at each of the brainstorming suggestions to ascertain the feasibility and problems created by the suggestion. For instance, with helium balloons, we'd need to keep them in place (after all, it is a windy environment.) Also, the tethers would need to be protected from the wind turbine blades. The team would then vote on the likelihood of success (in this case extremely low.) Those proposals deemed to have high likelihood of success moved to the next phase – a very rough estimation of costs and impacts according to each specialist. Then, the team would disperse to work on other projects while the project manager would summarize the information – talking to individual specialists as needed.

    The project manager would then contact Doug to report the findings and find out which ones sound intriguing enough for further consideration. Doug may find the basalt reinforcement idea appealing, so the team would be tasked with developing a more detailed estimate of traditional steel reinforcement vs basalt rebar reinforcement. When completed, the project manager would contact Doug and give him the information. Because basalt rebar is more expensive than steel but stronger, it may work out to a rounding error, or it could be considerably more/less expensive. There may be other impacts – like a larger foundation, etc. As soon as Doug decides which way to proceed, we would proceed with developing the end product.

    Of course, this description of events is simplified for this discussion, but I hope you can appreciate the process. It allows for creative solutions and limits the time and expense of chasing down dead ends.

    When you are saying to just do something, you are jumping the gun and going from individual brainstorms straight to the end product. Some individuals will unknowingly do things that counter others' things they are doing. They begin by being motivated to solve the problem of climate change, but are quickly overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and the miniscule (nanoscule) results. They still see climate change as a, or possibly the biggest problem humanity faces, but they don't have a ready answer for it.

    Enter the charismatic politician who proudly proclaims that he/she has the answer and produces glitzy information tailored to show an achievable outcome that sells well – results that will remove your personal angst about climate change, and everything will be paid by others. It really doesn't matter if the proposal is workable – it only has to appear workable. People have spent their votes for smaller causes. (I suspect you already know how I see this playing out.)

    Mark, you are a respected and admired writer on this site. There are those who contribute their own thoughts, many who may only give an occasional approving "thumbs up," and a large contingent of lurkers who won't register but still read these writings. Then, you have your students and your presentation audiences. In essence, your voice carries. If you start treating climate change as a predicament and realize that there isn't a society wide solution possible, you can focus on things that people can do for themselves and loved ones to personally mitigate the inevitable outcomes.

    Grover

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 11:32am

    Reply to #1
    cdresearch

    cdresearch

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    77, but it is really only 48% of the 157 and only 2.3% of the 32

    You need to document your data, and better explicate your calculations.

     

     

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 2:06pm

    Reply to #1

    Mots

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    Posts: 67

    If the real problem is human overpopulation.........

    Grover made an insightful comment: "If the real problem is human overpopulation, then any society wide solutions will fail. Perhaps we should focus on individual solutions. What can you do to avoid the peril that will strike the masses? Isn't that better than nothing?"   I note that many issues discussed here arise or focus at least in part on "human overpopulation."  

    The good news is that (outside of Africa) we are rapidly approaching stationary growth without individual solutions..  See the data graphed at http://www.aihw.gov.au/uploadedImages/Subjects/Food_and_nutrition/world-population-growth.jpg?n=2426  This graph shows that except for Africa (and immigration from Africa to Europe), the population problem is being solved now.  The population is dropping or (because of demographics) will start to drop in a number if not most countries.  

    The population of Japan, for example already has dropped the last few years and likely will drop in half over the next 20-30 years.  This is a very welcome development in a world of vanishing resources and vanishing jobs via robotitization of work.  If we stay away from Africa and Africinizing locations (Paris, London, Sweden etc) we should do fine.

    This historical fact (shift from exponential to stationary growth) is anathema to the banker exponential fiat growth religion.  Their (MSM) media is filled with warnings about all the bad effects of abandoning the Ponzi scheme of an increasing size later generation paying off Rentier Elite managed debts of the present.  Old people will be miserable and die because a larger number of young people will not take care of them.  Debts (transfer of wealth to the Elite Rentier Class) cant be paid!!!

    The end of exponential growth (insufficient young people to care for the old for the next 10-20 years) could be handled peacefully by allowing/encouraging elderly to take part time jobs, strengthen multigeneration family life, community based solutions etc) particularly in countries that have a sense of community and shared purpose.

     I am optimistic that population will stop growing and fiat money will die without requiring any personal action on our part.  Instead of wasting limited energy and time pandering to the issues faced by the Elite Rentier class, we will instead prosper through the resilient communities that we are building with our personal actions.   The answer to OUR problems is resilient community development.  The Elite on the other hand, I am not so optimistic about.   
     

     

     

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 2:11pm

    #29
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

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    Good insight Mots

    Japan, by the nature of its xenophobic isolated island existence will be a good model for our return to stability. We are choosing the late 19th century. We will, however take better primary medical care and include some solar, very little, to provide small refrigeration into our future past…

     

    didthatwork

     

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 3:05pm

    #30

    sand_puppy

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    Posts: 1911

    Population Control: No Immigration Possible

    I recall a talk by Paul Ehrlich where he suggested using simple mechanisms that align an individual's desires with the collective's. 

    1.  One example given was on regulating sewage treatment standards.  Rather than place explicit limits on chromium, nitrates, pH, etc. simply require that the sewage outflow pipe be deposited into the river 100 yards up stream of the cities drinking water inflow pipe.  Cities will then only discharge material that they are willing to pull into their own drinking water supply.

    2.  Chris suggested one on limiting police brutality cases:  Have the police retirement fund pay settlements to victims.

    3.  Over-breeding, environmental destruction and predatory resource exploitation would be reigned in if it were impossible to move to new locations and all of a person's resources and waste were harvested and managed locally.   Imagine that you knew that your family and all of your descendants would be living in this same 5 mile by 5 mile space for all time.  No immigration was possible (unless you could find someone who wanted to trade homes).

    I imagine that we would care for our 5 mile x 5 mile plot of land very carefully and would be very attentive to the numbers of children we were all making.

    Science fiction stories of outpost colonies on distant worlds all have reproduction closely tied to resource availability and space.   This is because emmigration is not possible when you live in the only domed settlement on one of Jupiter's moon's.

     

     

     

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 6:22pm

    Reply to #26

    Stan Robertson

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    Posts: 516

    Language, not math, is the problem.

    Just to avoid confusing the innumerate among us, you are correct that if there is an excess of deaths over births that would lead to a population decaying at 7% per year, then half the initial population would be gone in about ten years. I merely pointed out that your statement could be read as saying that if B and D are birth and death rates, then you might have meant D=1.07B rather than D-B=.07 per year. It would be truly wrenching for the world to cope with a 7% per year death rate.

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 6:43pm

    #31

    Grover

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    Posts: 691

    EROEI

    EROEI is an acronym for energy returned on energy invested. It sounds like a straight forward calculation to make, but there are secondary and tertiary effects that muddy the water. I just searched for "Ethanol EROEI" on duckduckgo.com and opened up the first link. It was an article posted on peakoil.com where the author discusses methodology that USDA has incorporated to produce reported results … and how the methodology has changed over time to produce improving results. This article was written in 2010, so the information is somewhat dated, but still is useful.

    http://peakoil.com/alternative-energy/the-eroei-of-ethanol

    So if we keep the accounting methodologies consistent, here are the ethanol-only energy returns (ethanol output/total energy input) from the raw data in the USDA reports:

    2002 – 1.09
    2004 – 1.06
    2010 – 1.42

    Here are the ethanol plus byproduct energy returns (ethanol plus byproduct output/total energy input):

    2002 – 1.27
    2004 – 1.26
    2010 – 1.69

    Here are the ratios from utilizing the USDA’s 2002 methodology (subtracting byproducts from the inputs) across all three reports:

    2002 – 1.34
    2004 – 1.32
    2010 – 1.93

    Finally, the ratios that the USDA highlighted and reported across all three reports:

    2002 – 1.34
    2004 – 1.67
    2010 – 2.34

    Conclusions

    That is a respectable improvement to be sure, but we should keep in mind that they have admittedly not accounted for certain inputs (the secondary inputs they mentioned in the 2004 reports). But it also begs the question of whether the USDA’s methodologies are unbiased, or whether there is a consistent pattern of favoring calculation methods that inflate ethanol’s energy return. (If the EROEI for gasoline was calculated in this manner, it would be greater than 10:1 because fuel gas is generated in the process that is fed back into the refinery).

    One final word about energy allocations for byproducts. If the idea is to find a scalable replacement for gasoline, consideration must be given to the amount of byproducts that result as the scale of fuel production is increased. At some point, the byproducts can saturate the market, which can cause other unintended consequences. This is the case with biodiesel and the glycerin byproduct that results; biodiesel producers often have a hard time getting rid of the byproduct.

    For that reason, when I consider ethanol as a replacement contender for gasoline, I am more interested in the expenditure of energy to produce ethanol, and less interested in how creative we can get with allocating energy inputs to byproducts. In any case, what was approximately one BTU of ethanol output for one BTU of ethanol input in 2002 is now 1.4 BTUs of ethanol out for 1 BTU in, with the caveat that secondary inputs have not been considered.

    The range of EROEI in the USDA reports is 1.06 to 2.34. I remember seeing other, more complete analyses that include some of the excluded inputs (e.g. mining iron ore to make tractors that farm the corn) that report an EROEI of 0.78. It is hard to estimate the cost of excess fertilizers or lost soil washing down to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. If efforts to clean the runoff from farms were included, the numbers would all be lower.

    Because all US presidential elections begin in Iowa, and Iowa is a corn producer, successful candidates have to support ethanol production. Whether it is through subsidies or mandates to force incorporation into gasoline, it enriches Iowa at the expense of others. It also empowers GMO makers such as Monsanto because the corn is grown only to produce ethanol and not for human consumption.

    Rather than looking at the real costs/benefits/effects of ethanol production, most people support this because it appears to make us more energy independent and appears to be a one of those partial solutions that contribute to solving peak oil and global warming. They feel like they're doing something.

    From what I remember, methanol production from hemp is a much better alternative for the users and environment. (I'd search for a link, but garden work calls.) Unfortunately, the "reefer madness" hysteria continues to be promulgated by big business interests who profit enormously from corn and ethanol. Beliefs and fears (which are easy to manipulate) overwhelm real science in the political arena.

    Grover

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  • Sat, Aug 06, 2016 - 7:09pm

    #32

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    Now you are talking my language!

    Hey Grover,

    Excellent post. I began in engineering before switching over to 'science' so what you are saying resonates strongly with me. You are spot on with addressing a defined problem. Things get a bit murkier with a high risk, poorly understood situation. I was being somewhat facetious when saying to do "something, anything". The subtext should have been, 'something, anything among the many options that we have already developed'. When people talk about the IPCC reports (myself included) we are generally referring to the Working Group I, The Physical Science Basis report, but most people don't know that there are two more accompanying tomes, Working Group II, Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, and Working Group III, Mitigation of Climate Change.

    In short, there has been a lot of thinking and work on the subjects of mitigation and adaptation that has been done though it is necessarily less advanced than the physical science since you need to understand what is going on to effectively respond to it. Actions can take two forms, those which are (1) generic and not location specific, and those which are (2) targeted and location dependent. Option 1 would be things like someone deciding to turn down their thermostat this winter to burn less oil and thereby help 'mitigate' global carbon emissions. It doesn't matter where this is done as the effect, however miniscule, will be globally experienced. Incidentally, we got into this situation through the cumulative miniscule actions of people around the planet so we shouldn't scoff at people making such efforts. Note, I am side stepping the whack a mole idea of potentially lowering emissions in one place yielding higher ones somewhere else. This isn't as obvious as typically assumed and has a lot to do with (dis)incentives, fodder for a different discussion.

    Option 2 has much more to do with most adaptations. The effectiveness or appropriateness of what is done has everything to do with location. Building a sea wall for Miami makes no sense because of the porous substrate it sits on, while putting one on the Thames to protect London has made a difference, though it will eventually have to be replaced with a bigger one.

    At the time of its construction, the barrier was expected to be used 2–3 times per year. It is now being used 6–7 times per year. (link)

    Any strategies undertaken require understanding of the challenges faced but decisions will be functions of location, resources and values. One cannot state categorically whether or not an action 'makes sense' based on the same flawed economic models that got us into our environmental dilemmas. Ignoring so-called 'externalities' of the uncertain or inconvenient impacts of our actions is a recipe for shortsightedness while ignoring the positive externalities of adaptation and mitigation efforts is a recipe for inaction. I work a lot with analogy because it can illustrate complicated concepts in understandable ways. In this case, take the example of a baby's first steps. Taking that first step is risky with a high likelihood of failure, pain and potentially even injury or death if not carefully supervised. If your time horizon is short, that 'investment' makes no sense, however, I think that we would all agree that it is critical to make for future success of the child. It is a no-brainer for us (parents) because we have the hindsight of experience knowing the development of those motor skills will pay of handsomely but for the child, at the time, it is nothing more than a leap of faith. We are ignorant children in terms of climate change.

    We do have to get off of our collective asses and start moving. We are not 'jumping the gun' in that but we can't pretend that we have perfect knowledge of how to proceed, but then again we never will since this is the first time climate management has been necessary. I hear your fears about others claiming they have 'solutions' or a clear path that will be used to stampede the masses off the next cliff. It is a very realistic concern and I have enough knowledge of the situation to know what to fear. How many people know that geoengineering experiments are already underway, or that a single business man conducted his own unauthorized experiment to affect global climate? In part we can blame the fools who play at being gods, but we are all responsible if we are not also undertaking our own personal actions, however small. Why do I say that? Because through our collective inaction or apathy we are signaling big government or industry to 'save us'. If we are unwilling to lead by example then we will be led by others, perhaps to slaughter. We are unwilling to change and so we are therefore authorizing others to try to make sure that we do not have to. Fine print of the social contract… Put another way, if we do not make bottom up efforts at managing things, top down ones will be visited upon us that we have not necessarily agreed to.

    In my teaching I open all of my courses with the statement "I can't make you think, but I will do my utmost to ensure that you do in this class". I do not see teaching as the simple conveyance of information, what I strive to do is to make students, or anyone, think critically about whatever they are being fed in this world, be it from me or anyone else. Should you accept/believe this paper or person? Why or why not? I emphasize the predicament versus problem nature of AGW from the geopolitical to the personal level. Why do the Chinese want to talk about emissions on a per capita basis while the US wants to discuss it on a per unit-GDP basis? Africa and the developing world want to talk historical emissions, the developed world does not… I am perhaps somewhat subversive in sprinkling in geopolitical commentary and infusing everything with the 3-E's but it all seems to engage people. My classes generally run 30-60 minutes long after I end the official 'graded' class because students want to keep discussing matters and wont leave. I think that there is a hunger for serious discussion and debate of issues and I have yet to be accused of inducing 'micro-aggressions' for all of my provocative questions! Knock on wood.

    In lectures I have to say that the most inevitable question is, what do we do about this on a personal basis? I've been trying to answer that question in an honest and believable fashion all these years in class and in my personal life. I disappoint myself every time, but I keep trying.

    Cheers,

    Mark

    P.S. Thank you for the kind words, they mean a great deal.

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  • Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - 12:51am

    #33

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    The upside of Apathy.

    Because through our collective inaction or apathy

    Today I resolve to do my bit with apathy. I am going to spend Sunday in quiet repose burning a minimim of coal. Just for the kettle and for my Ipad. I could do better and read my book on Schrödinger's achievements, but the internet is far more interactive. Not being able to argue with a book is very frustrating.

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  • Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - 6:10pm

    Reply to #31

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 290

    Grover wrote:Rather than

    [quote=Grover]

    Rather than looking at the real costs/benefits/effects of ethanol production, most people support this because it appears to make us more energy independent and appears to be a one of those partial solutions that contribute to solving peak oil and global warming. They feel like they're doing something.

    [/quote]

    The biggest problem with biofuels is that they aren't scalable, which is another "inconvenient truth" that the promoters always overlook. They are great as cute niche markets but if you try to run a global economy with them… even if you can magically get 2:1 EROEI, you will quickly find that there won't be nearly enough land, and that food vs. biofuels would become the new conflict. Those guys running biodiesel in their trucks from McDonalds french fry fryers, how many french fires would we have to eat to supply everyone with that?

    The only energy sources that are scalable to run an economy are solar, nuclear and to some extent wind. I'm not placing my bets on nuclear given its arguably low EROEI when you factor everything into it, and the amount of national cohesion required to build and run such a complicated system. Wind looks nice but the future is in solar energy, if we're looking for something to fall back on to save humanity from a 95% population die-off.

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  • Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - 7:25pm

    #34
    Uncletommy

    Uncletommy

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    Posts: 524

    Are we on the same page?

    I find it hard to believe that this thread has veered so far off course to be agonizing over pedantic issues such as the EROI on biofuels. To continue the population debate as an issue of paramount importance in the over all discussion, goes without saying. Mr Shermer's tacit acceptance in techno-optimism and market forces as the hopeful answer to the impending direction of collapse, leaves a good deal to be desired, as well.

    Perhaps it is time to revisit Charlie Hall and friends for realistic elucidation of where we need to be on the EROI scale to have any hope of redemption for this sick planet. We don't hear much from Nate Hagens anymore, because he got tired of beating his gums to no avail and, I think, Charlie Hall is out in Montana fly fishing enjoying what life he has left. If we all got back to recognizing what the environment does for us as a species, perhaps, then we could foment realistic change. Solar thermal, yes; growing your own food, yes; riding your bike to work, yes; having chickens or sheep mow your lawn,yes. 

    Try measuring the total number of Joules you use on a individual basis and style your life to that metric. You will quickly find that reducing your square feet of living space or turning off the lights or turning down the thermostat can have a tremendous effect on your eco-footprint. Until we all take that seriously, we will continue to be less that good stewards of life's blessings. Put it in perspective.

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  • Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - 7:28pm

    #35

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    Agreed

    Mark-BC wrote:

    The biggest problem with biofuels is that they aren't scalable

    Biofuels are simply solar energy one step removed and liquefied. Having such a liquid fuel has great utility and may be a reasonable use of 'waste' biomass but once you start growing things soely to feed into a digester you are simply taking food from someone or something (other species matter) in order to burn. Switch grass and oil palm don't just grow anywhere. The total net primary productivity of entire surface area of the United States would not provide enough biofuel to run our country, even if the energetics made sense (i.e. EROEI significantly greater than 1). There is also the little detail of having no food, forests or natural vegetation remaining even if we could do such a thing. Algae will not save us from math either. Can you imagine the logistical and energy problems of coating the SW with water to grow it? Biofuel is and will continue to be a niche market. Some locations (e.g. Brazil) can make a substantial amount of biofuel but even there 'growth' of automobile use has outstripped biofuel capacity.

    All 'alternative' fuels have 'alternative' costs. Nuclear energy yields waste issues and risks of the next Chernobyl, Japan etc. Maybe if we get thorium reactors working we could scale up globally but there simply isn't enough uranium available to massively convert energy systems, even if public opinion would accept a nuclear build out. Fusion continues to be decades away from a working prototype (it was 30 years away when I worked at the MIT plasma fusion reactor 27 years ago – and it still is decades away…). I continue to hope for a breakthrough but hope is not a strategy.

    Building massive wind farms starts to change surface wind fields with unknown effects on local weather patterns, as well as creating an eyesore. They are all around me these days. Recent work seems to show the effects might be small, which could be good but how this scales over space and time is still an open question.

    Solar farms mean that sunlight either will not be growing something or that you are covering something bright like desert soil with dark panels. Yes, you harvest some electricity but you change albedo meaning that instead of reflecting light back to space with little climate impact you are heating the panels and transferring heat to the passing air.

    There is no free lunch. None of this means we shouldn't ramp up alternative energy but we should be cognizant of the associated costs. The only way that these sources can rapidly become a large fraction of the energy that we use nationally/globally, in the relatively short term, will be if we dramatically reduce demand for energy at the same time.

    Energy efficiency gains will continue to be the most cost efficient investment we can make. That is not the same thing as saying that it is the only approach we should be taking.

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  • Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - 8:08pm

    Reply to #35

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 290

    Mark Cochrane wrote:Mark-BC

    [quote=Mark Cochrane]

    Mark-BC wrote:

    The biggest problem with biofuels is that they aren't scalable

    Biofuels are simply solar energy one step removed and liquefied. Having such a liquid fuel has great utility and may be a reasonable use of 'waste' biomass but once you start growing things soely to feed into a digester you are simply taking food from someone or something (other species matter) in order to burn. Switch grass and oil palm don't just grow anywhere. The total net primary productivity of entire surface area of the United States would not provide enough biofuel to run our country, even if the energetics made sense (i.e. EROEI significantly greater than 1). There is also the little detail of having no food, forests or natural vegetation remaining even if we could do such a thing. Algae will not save us from math either. Can you imagine the logistical and energy problems of coating the SW with water to grow it? Biofuel is and will continue to be a niche market. Some locations (e.g. Brazil) can make a substantial amount of biofuel but even there 'growth' of automobile use has outstripped biofuel capacity.

    All 'alternative' fuels have 'alternative' costs. Nuclear energy yields waste issues and risks of the next Chernobyl, Japan etc. Maybe if we get thorium reactors working we could scale up globally but there simply isn't enough uranium available to massively convert energy systems, even if public opinion would accept a nuclear build out. Fusion continues to be decades away from a working prototype (it was 30 years away when I worked at the MIT plasma fusion reactor 27 years ago – and it still is decades away…). I continue to hope for a breakthrough but hope is not a strategy.

    Building massive wind farms starts to change surface wind fields with unknown effects on local weather patterns, as well as creating an eyesore. They are all around me these days. Recent work seems to show the effects might be small, which could be good but how this scales over space and time is still an open question.

    Solar farms mean that sunlight either will not be growing something or that you are covering something bright like desert soil with dark panels. Yes, you harvest some electricity but you change albedo meaning that instead of reflecting light back to space with little climate impact you are heating the panels and transferring heat to the passing air.

    There is no free lunch. None of this means we shouldn't ramp up alternative energy but we should be cognizant of the associated costs. The only way that these sources can rapidly become a large fraction of the energy that we use nationally/globally, in the relatively short term, will be if we dramatically reduce demand for energy at the same time.

    Energy efficiency gains will continue to be the most cost efficient investment we can make. That is not the same thing as saying that it is the only approach we should be taking.

    [/quote]

    What I like about solar is it's scalable, from drying your clothes on the line to a solar hot water heater on your roof to a huge solar farm in the desert. The reason solar works is because it is the primary source of energy for all the others, except nuclear. So why take the hit and harvest energy one or two steps down? Doesn't make sense.

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  • Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - 9:01pm

    #36

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    Don't get me wrong

    I love solar, especially as a distributed system on as many roofs as possible. It isn't a panacea but it could go a long ways toward making our power grid more robust and resilient. There will continue to be questions about associated resource use and long run sustainability but it is viable and scalable now. What I was alluding to are the giant solar farms. They may still be viable but there are associated externalities, though hopefully less than those associated with the fossil fuel systems they would replace.

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  • Mon, Aug 08, 2016 - 9:49pm

    Reply to #36
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 13 2008

    Posts: 306

    Mark Cochrane wrote:I love

    [quote=Mark Cochrane]

    I love solar, especially as a distributed system on as many roofs as possible. It isn't a panacea but it could go a long ways toward making our power grid more robust and resilient.

    [/quote]

    The issue is that distributed intermittent power sources decrease stablity and resiliency:

    1. Solar and wind power can have large swings in power output. For instance passing clouds and storms can cause panel output to drop by 50% or more with in a very short period. Unfortunately loads can not be changed abruptly which can cause brownouts, voltage spikes, and other electriical problems. Power Plants cannot not increase or decrease output as rapidly as a distributed PV/Wind systems can.

    2. Regions with a large number of independent power sources can cause phase noise which can cause problems for transformers, electrical motors and other devices that require smooth and consistant power. A Grid tied invertor uses sampling from the grid to synchronize ouput to match the 60hz (or 50hz in Europe) as well as the signal phase. Since inverters are electronic switching devices, they tend to drift in frequency and in phase makeing the inverter output slightly offset from the grid. The more grid tied inverters connected the noiser the grid becomes as the noise makes it more difficult for the inverters to properly sync. This can cause transformers and motors to overheat. The phase noise introduced by a collection of inverters creates a feedback loop. As the phase noise increases the inverters have a more difficult time locking on the correct phase & frequency, causing the problem to gradually increase, even if no additional inverters are connected.

    3. Grid was not designed for distributed power. The was designed to transfer power from large power plants to end users. Feeding power back into the grid can cause problem as transformers can saturate leading to overheating and transformer failures.

     

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  • Mon, Aug 08, 2016 - 10:03pm

    Reply to #36

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    Techguy.

    Tertiary delta wound transformers help a lot with noise (odd harmonics), and good old fashioned synchronous generators absolutely kill poor phase angles. 

    But you are right, the distribution grid is one complex machine. It's all about feedback loops. Perhaps AI can help replace very slow (poorly coupled) and error prone wetware. 

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  • Mon, Aug 08, 2016 - 10:11pm

    #37

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    What is the solution?

    TechGuy,

    That is great information! So what do we do about it? It seems that if whatever output to the grid, from a house or business, is passed through a battery or other storage device that the rapid fluctuations can be managed to some degree. Basically each home should have a capacitor or equivalent to prevent massive swings in load. What specifications would be needed  to reduce the problem substantially? A ramp of a millisecond, minute or hour?

    In a world of aging infrastructure we can be assured of little other than increased outages in the future. Having recently experienced one myself, I think that having some home power for critical items at a minimum would be a lot more sensible from and individual point of view. It would also reduce desperation and potential riots if widespread enough when the inevitable large outages do occur.

    With talk of smart grids, EMP pulses and what not, it would seem that we have plenty of incentive to build a more distributed and resilient grid. What do you think would really be entailed in doing it well? Obviously it is not plug and play for net metering as implied.

    Interested in your thoughts on the matter.

     

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  • Mon, Aug 08, 2016 - 11:04pm

    Reply to #37

    Mots

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 18 2012

    Posts: 67

    Smart Resilient Electrical Grids are very DIY

    TechGuy is correct about the present technology.

    However, all the problems are easily solved at the local level by making self regulating, local resilience DIY grids at the local level.

    I developed and am building DC electric grids that you basically do yourself.  Build (or buy from me) a fairly small box that you plug in: a. your own solar panels, b. some appliances to be powered like coffee pots, electric grills, water heaters, computers, lights,etc. c. utility power back up, d. optional batteries for backup if desired, and e. connect to your neighbor via simple wire that you can buy at Home Depot.

    I am commercializing this with some other guys in Chicago.  (I walked away from my successful law firm in order to focus on this extremely hot area in technology that provides an energy escape plan from the present paradigm).  I have published patent applications and (if you contact me directly and indicate confidentiality) possibly can even show a business plan.  I plan to start selling next year but have prototypes to show off now.  If you go to the solar expo in Las Vegas next month I can show you in person.

    Mots

     

    [quote=Mark Cochrane]

    TechGuy,

    That is great information! So what do we do about it? It seems that if whatever output to the grid, from a house or business, is passed through a battery or other storage device that the rapid fluctuations can be managed to some degree. Basically each home should have a capacitor or equivalent to prevent massive swings in load. What specifications would be needed  to reduce the problem substantially? A ramp of a millisecond, minute or hour?

    In a world of aging infrastructure we can be assured of little other than increased outages in the future. Having recently experienced one myself, I think that having some home power for critical items at a minimum would be a lot more sensible from and individual point of view. It would also reduce desperation and potential riots if widespread enough when the inevitable large outages do occur.

    With talk of smart grids, EMP pulses and what not, it would seem that we have plenty of incentive to build a more distributed and resilient grid. What do you think would really be entailed in doing it well? Obviously it is not plug and play for net metering as implied.

    Interested in your thoughts on the matter.

     

    [/quote]

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 1:52am

    Reply to #36
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 868

    Maybe, we are running out of...

    Get into reality….settle your mare…..brown outs mean nothing to…third world countries… Or…

     

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 1:55am

    Reply to #37
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 868

    Mots is...

    Da man… what you are doing is exactly what folk need.  A good draft with harness, a miller and tanner would be of long term benefit.

     

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 6:34am

    Reply to #37
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

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    Posts: 306

    Mark Wrote:"That is great

    Mark Wrote:

    "That is great information! So what do we do about it? It seems that if whatever output to the grid, from a house or business, is passed through a battery or other storage device that the rapid fluctuations can be managed to some degree"

    Well I don't see Grid tied inverters being the solution. At best a self reliant system that allows the home to either run completely off the grid or off-grid capable of using the grid as a source. The issue is that most solar systems are sold without a battery system due to the added cost and higher maintaince. Solar companies also are promoting grid tied systems so that the home-owner can sell power back into the grid on the assumption that it will reduce the payback time. Unfortunately Power companies buyback power at a substantianly lower cost then the cost the consumer is charged and most homeowners looking at Solar don't understand that.

    The only way I can think of at the moment to support large scale distributed power grid, is if the Grid frequency was a Radio broadcast that could be used to constantly syncronized every inverter via Phase Lock Loop method, Although balancing Loads with supply will still remain a challenge. Every Applicance would need to be converted as a smart appliance and be able to recieve a broadcast do dial back loads, but that could still be a problem, if the load suddenly drops when too many devices turn off, or if terrorists rebroadcast false signal that cause all applicances to turn on or off suddenly. A Radio broadcast to control smart devices probably won't work since loads need would need to ramp up slowly. To summarize: its complicated!

    I don't thnk alternative power systems would really prevent widespread and frequent blackouts in a failing economy. The reliably of the grid is an economical issue. The problem I see is that as a nations economic continues to decline there is less and less income to support an maintain the grid infrastruture. If a significant number of households switched over to solar, i think it would speed up the degration of the grid since their would be fewer people consuming power from the grid or consuming less power. The Grid is supported by consumption and not distributed power sources.

    There are some other issues not discussed that involves the labor pool for electrical grid workers. Most of the grid workers are boomers which are retiring over the next 10 to 15 years, and they are likely to retire faster than replacements can be hired. Perhaps shortages can be accomidated by immigration of skilled power workers, but I suspect there is likely a global shortage of skilled power workers. 

    I really don't think we will see wide spread use of Solar or alternative power systems due to cost. Even if Solar prices continue to fall, most people won't have the money to spend for a solar system. In the US, Home ownership is now at a 40 year low and continues to fall as people can no longer afford their own homes. In the US & Europe, the middle class is shrinking due to a combination of outsourcing and automation. There are less and less middle class jobs as we can see the majority of millienials with college degees end up in low paying retail jobs. It think we will see the number of househood shrink and the number of people per household increase as people pool their declining wages together to support a household. The biggest economic hit to power companies is the loss of demand from industrial and commerical business as industrial production continues to move overseas and automation reduces the number for workers leading to less office space demand. We are already seeing large number or power plants being shutdown due to lack of demand.  

    Mark Wrote: "What do you think would really be entailed in doing it well? Obviously it is not plug and play for net metering as implied."

    In my opinion, I am looking at solar as an option to maintain a high standard of living for as long as possible. I am building myself a homestead "lifeboat" and working on becoming self-reliant. But I don't plan to rely on just solar for off-grid power, as I will have access to the grid, a backup generator and I am working on micro-steam power system. 

    To give you some idea, of cost for a basic Solar system that can run appliances (ie dishwasher, washer, refrigerator, well pump, furnance, etc), you'll need about an 8 KW system, which will cost about $30K for the panels, chargers, Inverter, batteries, switch gear, and installation. I think this is out of the budget for most folks.  It can be done cheaper, but few people have the skills need to implement a whole house DIY Solar system. It be done with a smaller system, but it will require dramatic lifestyle changes for most people (ie hand washing dishes and clothes, being mindful of running applicance when flushing the toilet, and so on. Even with an 8kw system a household will need to make signifcant changes. Even if none of your applicance uses 8kw, if it has a large motor it likely will require a large startup current. an undersized inverter will likely fail under repeated motor start ups.

    I know some people are using DC applicances designed for off-grid homes, but I my opinion they have major drawbacks. Low voltage DC applicance need heavier gauge wireing. A 1kw appliance needs about 8.8 Amps at 120VAC, and about 21 Amps at 48VDC. In a failing economy its probably going to be impossible to find parts or replacement DC applicances, but AC applicances will likely available and widely salvagable from abandon buildings if necessary. It can also be difficult to find DC electronics (it TV, computer equipment, power tools, Window fans, Vacuum cleaners, etc. We live in world of AC tools and Applicances. 

    As far as EMP, Solar systems are "NOT" EMP hardened. and will likely fail in a NEMP (Nuclear EMP) or a solar CME. Its possible to protect your system by disconnecting the equipment and shielding it. With a CME event you likely have a 3 day notice to prepare since it usually takes about 3 days for a CME to reach Earth. A NEMP event might be tricky since likely make occur without notice or little time. Of course to to shield your Solar system you will need it set up for quick disassembly.

    If you are planning for an EMP event then you also need to be food reliant as its very likely food distribution would fail and might not recover. Storing a few weeks or months of food, may not work if the EMP causes a Roman era type collapse. Odds are that an EMP event would result a failures of several Nuclear power plants triggering mass evacuations and leaving large areas un-iinhabitable. I think most of the distribution systems, including food distribution is too dependent on electronic systems and the Just-In-time model. I think it may be exteremely difficult to restart food & energy distribution after a major EMP event. Riots, fires, blocked roads, and lack of spare parts for damaged electronics would make recovery very difficult. The longer the distribution system remains off-line the more difficult it will become to restart it. Water could also be come a major problem for people relying on municiple water systems or have deep wells.

    My guess that at some point the US will face rolling backouts as the economy continues to deteriate. But I don't think we will see widespread rolling blackouts in the next few years. I would suspect that more frequient localized outages happen, as utilities cut back on personel which result in repair delays.  . The Sun appears to be in abnormally quiet, and does not appear to be producing a large number of CMEs. At this time an NEMP strike from a terrorist group or a rogue nation seems unlikely. From the research I've done, at this time, only the US, Russia and China have the means to perform a contiental scale NEMP attack. If any of these three nations did use an NEMP weapon it likely means the start of WW3. At this time I am not worried about an NEMP attack from North Korea, or Iran. I don't think either has the missile or nuclear bomb capable of causing a large scale NEMP event. I think if Iran was going to attack the US, it would smuggle a nuclear bomb into a major US City using its network of terrorist.

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 9:39am

    Reply to #37

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    Energy storage

    If you are limited to solar only, you’ll probably want to ride out a three-day storm, so you’d want a five-day storage system, at least. That’s prohibitive. However, if you were to have a combination of solar/wind, then storms aren’t a problem.
    Therefore, I’d suggest a combo of solar wind, with about a day and a half of storage, two days tops.

    A small house requires 12 kW of power, or about 600 kW-hr of storage. 600(3600)=2160000=2 MJ of energy storage available to use; since you don’t want to spin things down completely, you might want to buy a 4-MJ system.

    Looking on the web, I see this:
    http://www.activepower.com/UKen/flywheel-technology/#flywheel-our

    That’s a 4-MJ flywheel; it should be buried in a concrete bunker underground to be made safe.

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 12:48pm

    Reply to #1

    KugsCheese

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 01 2010

    Posts: 834

    Re: 97% BS

    [quote=Stan Robertson]

    Shermer would have a lot more credibility as a skeptic if he would examine his fabled 97%.

    Why do at least 97 percent, and perhaps as high as 99.9 percent of climate scientists say
    it’s [Human cause of Global Warming] real?
    -10,257 Earth Scientists were sent an invitation
    – 7,054 scientists did not reply to the survey (leaving 3203 respondents)
    – 567 scientists surveyed did not believe man is responsible for climate change (leaving 2636)
    – Only 157 of the remainder were climate scientists (of 2636)
    – The “97%” is only 75 out of 77 subjectively identified “specialists” or 2.3% of the 3203
    who participated in the survey out of 10,257 invited. What’s interesting is that 3% of the
    invitees didn’t think the earth had warmed since the Little Ice Age.
    So the 97% is 75 of 77, but it is really only 48% of the 157 and only 2.3% of the 3203.

    [/quote]

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexepstein/2015/01/06/97-of-climate-scientists-agree-is-100-wrong/print/

    See Point #2.

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 3:46pm

    Reply to #37

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    There are many ways to support large scale distributed.

    One way, is to have your cell-phone clock, synchronized with GMT. Then, at a given location, read the current offset over a long time (60 hz x 3600 s/hr x 24 hr = 5M samples, good enough). Then coordinate your phase with that, and keep locked in to that.
    another way, to do it live, is to simply average the time-based phase offset over the last thousand cycles, and base your target peak on that.

    Either way, timing will handle itself.

    A bigger issue is to have a proper ground, to avoid the main network from blowing up your units. Also to have super-loads from destroying your generators.

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 3:54pm

    Reply to #37
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 13 2008

    Posts: 306

    Flywheel systems are not

    Flywheel systems are not designed for battery replacement. they are used in UPS system to provide a short period of power until the backup generator takes over. Flywheel system provide between 30 to 90 seconds of power. They can't provide a steady amount of power over hours.

    A deep cycle 600Kwh battery bank would likely cost around $100K, and batteries don't last forever.

    A practical option would be a modest battery bank coupled with a backup generator to recharge batteries. I don't think a pure solar/wind solution will be viable because its possible that you have a snow storm that will cover your panels and not generate much wind. Wind can also be very intermittent or insufficent depending on your location.

    The problem with generators and wind turbines they will attract attention to you in a major crisis. People can hear your generator or see your wind turbines and might just show up at your door. Ideally you won't want a crowd of desperate people come knocking.

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 4:30pm

    #38

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 828

    Compromise?

    Great information from people who seem to know something of the subject!

    It seems to me that if I were setting up my own home for solar that was still tied into the grid that I would be balancing two objectives. 1. generating as much of my own power during the day and 2. having sufficient storage capacity for short intervals (nights) or critical times (grid outages).

    I personally don't see the need for the ability to run a household as if there were no problems during a 'grid-down' power outage. If you are living off grid you need to be able to cover all your needs and wants all of the time but if you are still tied into the grid you need to be able survive those times (needs) when the grid is not available. That doesn't mean, for me, that I just live fat, dumb and happy. In those conditions I simply want my battery back up to help me cover the essentials, much as my generator used to do (when I owned a home), over nights or cloudy periods until the power is restored. Things like sump pumps, freezers/refrigerators, and the furnace, a few critical lights etc. Hot water should be from or assisted by passive solar. Washer and dryer are not going to be used. If it summer we'll have to live without the AC etc.

    Like many preps it seems to be a question of what scenario(s) you are planning for and can afford? Having some power, even if it is only during the day (i.e. no storage capacity) should be better than nothing at all. Reducing load is as good or better than increasing generation capacity in reaching your energy independence/security goals for an existing home but only if you have some capacity to work with in the first place.

    Does anyone have insights or resources for balancing these various factors? Investing in insulation may be a lot more effective than adding more batteries or solar panels for example. If building you home, some intelligent design could go a long way to reducing the needed solar/battery capacity for your dwelling.

    Thanks for all of the insights. I'm hoping to be back in a house I own within another year or so and being able to invest in my own property.

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 8:37pm

    Reply to #38
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

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    Posts: 306

    Mark Wrote: "Having some

    Mark Wrote: "Having some power, even if it is only during the day (i.e. no storage capacity) should be better than nothing at all."

    You need an energy storage system if you want to operate in a no-grid or down-grid home. Applicances will have a high current demand during the first second of startup and will your PV array may not be able to supply enough power for startup. You also need to have power storage to handle PV ouput drops, when cloud coverage drops the PV output. It would be bad if you have frequent brownouts that will either damage yoir inverter or damage your applicances. Its also possible that a running device such as a washing machine with stop mid-cycle causing problems. Small battery banks are prone to shorter lifetimes. A bigger bank will last considerable longer since it the batteries will degrade much slower. Higher voltage banks are better than low voltage banks. Ideally a 48V battery bank or higher voltage would be best since the inverter & chargers will operate more efficiency and reduce system operating stress.

    Mark Wrote: " Investing in insulation may be a lot more effective than adding more batteries or solar panels for example. If building you home, some intelligent design could go a long way to reducing the needed solar/battery capacity for your dwelling."

    Yup,Insulatation is key to both heating and cooling.I am working on designing a home with about an R-30 envelope Walls can be 2×8 (two 2x4s) or constructed with SIP (Structured Insulated panels). Roof and siding should set up with an air gap to permit convectional air flow to avoid summer heat from transmititng into the home. a Metal Roof should have a thermal reflective paint. For insulation, either spray foam, rigid panels or Roxul panels. Personally I am avoiding spray foam, even though its the most efficient because of toxic problems if its not applied correctly, and would make repairs more difficult. Currently, I am leaning towards Roxul semi-rigid panels with 2×8 construction. I would recommend avoid using the tradional fiberglass batts do to poor efficiency. 

    For heating system the best option (from my research) is to go with hydronic radiant heating. which PEX tubes are placed the floor. This is generally more efficient than baseboard convection radiators, and the hydronic system can be coupled with solar thermal panels. In most cases, solar thermal panels do not get the water hot enough to permit convection radiators to function. Base board radiators need about 160F to operate. While is possible solar thermal panels can provide 160F water, its unlikely to provide that during the morning and late afternoon, or in poor weather conditions (spotty clouds)  Hydronic Radiant systems can operate with 80F water, which will make better use of solar thermal panels. A hydronic radiant heating system can be coupled with multiple heating sources: Solar Thermal panels, Wood stove or Outdoor wood stove, and traditional furances (Oil, natGas, Propane). The heat sources can be coupled in-line using a set of heat exchangers to get the water temperature to appropriate level. Also a hydronic radiant heating system can make use of thermal mass, if the tubes are placed in the concrete slab, or in a gypsum floor pour, can permit the home to remain warm for many hours after the heat source is removed. 

    ideally it would be better to purchase land without a home and build a new home designed around efficiency. I think it would likely be more costly to retrofit an older home than it would be to build from scatch. The problem with older homes is that the walls are usually not sealed very well and a there is significant air flow between the outside. It would be difficult to retrofit a 2×4 or perhaps even a 2×6 home to R-30 equivent (in my opinion). You would need to completely gut a home for a retrofit which will cost a lot of money. In a retrofit, you will also likely need to replace the windows, roof ( with durable metal roof), low maintaince siding (hardie board). Basically the only thing reusable in a home is probably going to be the foundation, plumbing, and the framing. 

    "Things like sump pumps, freezers/refrigerators, and the furnace"

    I would think you want to operate more than just those basics, including as a vacuum clear (shopvac), well pump, fans (Window/ceiling, in hot weather conditions), washing machine for clothes, Kitchen appliances (blender, mixer, microwave, toaster, vacuum bag sealer, etc), air compressor and other shop tools for maintaince & repair. There is a big difference from living with out power for a few days, to living without it for weeks or months. 

    if you want to learn more about energy efficient design, I would recommend you take a look at "Matt Risinger" Tube channel. Matt is a contractor that specializing in energy efficent and low maintaince homes. 

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 8:57pm

    Reply to #37

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    Some of those flywheel systems I linked to were

    …were for casino use, for data center use… these are long term usage situations, not just 30-90 seconds.
    The total energy storage is going to have a lot to do with how long they can source power; the power draw rate will also affect that.

    I can’t imagine a casino wanting to shut down neatly: the casino wants to stay up and running. Same goes for a data center. It may be hours, or even a day, before power gets restored.

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 10:49pm

    #39
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 13 2008

    Posts: 306

    Flywheel storage systems

    "Some of those flywheel systems I linked to were for casino use, for data center use… these are long term usage situations, not just 30-90 seconds."

    Sorry, but.thats not how they work, Having worked with data centers, I can tell you that flywheels are just short term storage devices that just provide enough storage for generators to to pick up the load.

     from the link you provided: [note on the 15 second run time estimate]

    4.4" high; 25.5" in diameter; 600 lbs rotating mass
    Stores ~ 4 MJ of energy (240 kW for 15 seconds)

    All of the commerical flywheel products operate for less than a couple of minutes. For casinos, they have large backup generators that power up before the Flywheel spins down. Data centers and other business that need UPS, want to ditch batteries because of the costs and maintaince. Data centers use backup generators, they just use the batteries long enough to start up the generator and transfer the load. 

    There was a company working on carbon fiber flywheel designs that could power devices for hours, but they went bust about 10 years ago. Their flywheel designs would have been pretty expensive as they used carbon fiber rotors, frictionless magnetic bearing and the rotors spun at +60k rpm, in a high vacuum chamber. I don't think they ever released a working product.

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  • Tue, Aug 09, 2016 - 11:04pm

    Reply to #37
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 13 2008

    Posts: 306

    Michael_Rudmin wrote:One way,

    [quote=Michael_Rudmin]One way, is to have your cell-phone clock, synchronized with GMT. Then, at a given location, read the current offset over a long time (60 hz x 3600 s/hr x 24 hr = 5M samples, good enough). Then coordinate your phase with that, and keep locked in to that. another way, to do it live, is to simply average the time-based phase offset over the last thousand cycles, and base your target peak on that. Either way, timing will handle itself [/quote]

    The problem is that the grid isn't precisely locked. Frequency and phase drifts over time. Averaging doesn't solve the problem and actually causes the problem. You would need something like the World Wide Atomic clock (10Mhz AM broadcast Signal) but would broadcast the exact frequency and phase of the grid power, and then use a Phase locked loop on that signal with the inverter.However that is not really a perfect solution since the grid isn't always connected to everything. Sometimes there are regional blackouts or  times when transmission lines are shutdown for maintaince creating grid islands and they get out of phase. When the maintence or repair work is done, the grid operations work to slowly bring the islands back in phase and reconnect to the natiional grid. As I stated early, the Grid is complicated. There is no simple solution.

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  • Wed, Aug 10, 2016 - 3:21pm

    Reply to #39

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    So what would happen if...

    …if you took a 4 MW flywheel system, and drained it at a rate of 11 kw? What part would burn out? Where would the energy go? What part would blow up?

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  • Wed, Aug 10, 2016 - 7:46pm

    Reply to #39
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 13 2008

    Posts: 306

    These flywheels have large

    These flywheels have large losses when they spin down. I don't know exactly how long it would work with an 11 kw, but probably not more than a few minutes.  Its not 4MW, its 4M joules. if it was 100% efficient with no losses a 4MJ system would provide about 6 Minutes of power at 11KW. 

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  • Thu, Aug 11, 2016 - 7:58pm

    Reply to #39

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    Math? Efficiency?

    Hmmm… I have to agree with you on that, techguy. Seems I had a brain fart. Let’s see, I was trying to store 1.5 days = 36 hrs = 2160 minutes. Divide by 6 minutes, and I was off by a factor of 360?
    Sorry, that’s some brain fart.

    So to store a day and a half would imply 2000 MJ… a lot more. And probably prohibitively expensive.

    Yeah, I have to agree with you.

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  • Wed, Aug 31, 2016 - 4:21am

    #40

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    Use Your Pension Money

    To buy cheap land on a steep slope.

    Put a tank at the bottom and one at the top.

    Use whatever energy you harvest by whatever means to pump water uphill. 

    Install a mini hydro station to provide  your mains power. 

    Or just wait for someone else to solve the problem. 

     

    http://www.integrityresearchinstitute.org/

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  • Sat, Sep 03, 2016 - 5:47am

    Reply to #32

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    IPCC

    Hello Mark,

    Sorry for the delay in my reply. Because of the "importance of skepticism," I actually decided that I'd skim the IPCC reports to see what was written. I decided to read all the Executive Summaries and then skim through the remainder to get a gist of what was included. I searched for key words to see how that was addressed by the collective. I didn't bother looking at any of the references. Those are bore holes that have never ending branching.

    I found it excruciatingly difficult to read. I kept looking for excuses not to read it. My wife wanted me to watch the Olympics with her … so I did. (There were lots of car commercials.) I found other distractions. When the calendar turned to September, I told myself that I need to read this and respond. Frankly, I gave up on the third link after reading a few paragraphs and realizing that I was thinking about the last root canal I had. That was when I decided to admit failure and move on.

    Here's what I got from my readings.

    1) Climate is going to get hotter due to GHG. It will be more pronounced in high latitudes. Growing seasons will get generally longer, but occasionally, there will be later spring killing frosts and earlier fall killing frosts. Wet areas will get generally wetter. Dry areas will get generally drier. Weather events will generally become more extreme with bigger storms, longer droughts, bigger floods, stronger winds … generally more destruction.

    2) Maps showing climate model forecasts were so pixilated or course as to be worthless for identifying expected impacts to any given location.

    3) Peak oil isn't a hard and fast concept. New methodologies are continually developed that push the date for peak oil further out; therefore, there isn't any expected peak.

    4) GHGs persist in the atmosphere for a long time. It doesn't matter where those gasses are sourced, it impacts all of us; therefore, there needs to be a global concerted effort to limit these gasses.

    5) Population was expected to grow as well as world economies. The only mitigation that I read about was reducing emissions. I didn't see anything about sequestering Carbon dioxide. (It doesn't mean it wasn't there – I just didn't read anything about it and I was actually looking for something about sequestering.) There wasn't anything (that I read) that said what level of emissions was acceptable. I couldn't help but think about Krugman's defense of QE when it didn't work – it just wasn't big enough.

    6) When I read about "MRV" (I remember that "M" was for measurement, but I don't remember exactly what the "RV" stood for – ___ and validate ???,) I got the feeling that the climate change folks were setting themselves up to be the enforcement arm of a one world government. Sigh!

    7) There were several calls for more research to get a better handle on the problem. Essentially, all these folks doing all this research and flying all over to attend all these conferences want the research and conferences to continue. Since the emission of GHGs need to be controlled, others will need to double down to limit overall emissions.

    I'm really not trying to develop a straw man argument, but I didn't read anything that changed my opinion of the whole shebang. I was under the impression that it was an intractable problem/predicament and I still have that opinion. I haven't seen any proposed cure that isn't worse than the disease.

    I was shocked to read that peak oil really didn't exist. You've stated something to the effect that it will be around for centuries. Are you talking the IPCC book, or do you really believe that?

    To me, it all boils down to "how long will business as usual (BAU) continue?" If BAU continues for centuries, climate change will be an increasingly bigger issue for succeeding generations. If the limits of our finite planet actually exert themselves on the human population, population is going to diminish. As population drops, the anthropogenic drivers of climate change will also drop.

    Grover

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  • Sat, Sep 03, 2016 - 7:04am

    #41

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Intermittent power sources and batteries

    I've been trying to see if there are any alternative energy generator systems that actually have a chance of providing enough energy to the system to actually make a difference. They all have significant problems. As Mark_BC noted, biofuels aren't scalable. Wind and solar are intermittent. As noted, nuclear has its own set of problems and the fuel ores are being depleted. Hydroelectric is limited to where dams can be constructed and water is available to impound. Unless Arthur Robey's LENR works remarkably well and can be scaled up incredibly fast, we're screwed.

    Gail Tverberg wrote an article about the problems of tying intermittent alternative power sources to the grid. At low levels of implementation, the added input can be handled. As the percentage grows to low double digits, problems associated with costs arise. The intermittent sources crowd out the continual sources while the intermittent sources are producing. This lowers the paycheck of the continual sources. At some point, there isn't any financial incentive to produce more generational capacity.

    https://ourfiniteworld.com/2016/08/31/intermittent-renewables-cant-favorably-transform-grid-electricity/

    I remember seeing a TedTalk a few years back about batteries using cheap molten metals as the anode and cathode and an appropriate salt as the electrolyte. In order to work, all working components would need to be molten. The batteries are about as efficient as NiFe batteries, so the charging/discharging would add enough energy to the system to keep it molten. They have high charge capacity and can switch quickly between charging/discharging. Apparently, the fade rate is very low which means it can go through tens (or hundreds) of thousands of cycles. Here's a link to a technical review of the technology. At the bottom of the review, the same TedTalk with Don Sadoway is included.

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/is-this-ambris-new-liquid-metal-battery-materials-formula

    Also, here is a link to the company Don spoke about: http://www.ambri.com/. They were originally planning to be manufacturing by this time, but had problems with the battery seal. They are now looking for money to build a factory and hope to begin manufacturing in 2017.

    This system holds promise (if it works as they claim.) Without cheap battery storage, intermittent energy sources won't meet our societal needs. (It won't meet individual needs too well either.)

    Full disclosure: I don't have any ties to the company whatsoever. I just find this work intriguing.

    Grover

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  • Sat, Sep 03, 2016 - 10:28am

    Reply to #32

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    MRV=Measure, Report, Verify

    I’m pretty sure MRV is a critical part of government control of all aspects of a person’s life. of coures, it will be open to fraud, at which point governments will either give up or dcide that they need to reduce the number of uncontrolled units…
    But that’s part of the nature of trying to do the impossible, believing that the impossible is not only somehow possible, but necessary.

    http://www.africacarbonforum.com/2013/docs/Presentations/D2/RT6/RT6_PerumalArumugam_UNFCCC.pdf

    It’s kindof like the NSA trying to spy on everyone.

    Idiocy.

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  • Mon, Sep 05, 2016 - 5:01am

    Reply to #32

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Exactly!

    Michael,

    Thanks for the clarification. You'd think I would have remembered what the acronym, MRV meant. I agree that it is a critical part of governmental control. Measurement provides a basis for sanctions – both positive and negative. Reporting is a call to a higher authority (after all, why report to a lower entity?) I'm not sure what function the "Verify" serves. Is it to verify that goals were/were not met?

    (The rest is for everyone,)

    The report function should send chills down thinking peoples' spines. It tells me that I'm subservient to a higher order. Once we acquiesce, our freedom will be forever lost. Will the higher order actually fix the problem? Why would they kill the cash cow? It's better to blame the servants for not growing enough grass to feed the cash cow. It's even better to let the servants blame themselves for not growing enough grass as the higher order carves steaks from the carcass.

    There is no politically expedient solution to the predicament of climate change. Until there is one that has firm documented costs and benefits, why bother trying to make the impossible happen? (As an example, would you contract with a house builder who didn't give a firm quote?)

    If, collectively, we cut emissions to 1990 (arbitrarily chosen date) levels, will that be sufficient to stave off climate change? Remember that world population was a lot lower in 1990. Cut emissions to that level and lots of people are suddenly unemployed. Who is going to feed them? Why feed them if they can't afford it? How long are you willing to do so? Think about it! Remember, your emissions are going to be constrained as well. You can't just flip as switch and make it so.

    Once you agree to the statists' unstated climate change terms, you are trapped in a carnival huckster's game. You will always be just a little bit away from winning and you will be asked to contribute more and more. If you think this is hyperbole, ask any climate change worry wart what exactly needs to be done to keep climate change in check. If they're honest, they can't answer you.

    Grover

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  • Mon, Sep 05, 2016 - 11:29am

    Reply to #32

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 857

    The purpose of verify

    is to try to check the checkers.  Take, for example, the Canadian plan to limit fishery overuse and depletion. 

    One of the main problems is that if you had a license for dolphin, you'd take your dolphin, and throw back the shark; but the shark still dies.  Thing is, every fisherman DOES get some of what he doesn't want. 

    So the Canadians developed a system whereby you have the option to let some of your licenses go unused, and sell them to the highest bidder; at the same time, before your boat can go out again, you MUST buy licenses for the fish you catch.  And all catches are 100% retained. 

    For that, then, the Canadians are using a market to handle the violations (which is good), but they have no way of verifying cheaters without MRV.  Therefore, they offer the fishermen two options:  Pay for a government agent on your boat who records everything, and video-record everything from multiple angles, and pay for a government audit later.

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