Climate change and global warming

With all the problems documented by the articles below,
it is more and more amazing that
the United States government refuses to fund fusion research at a robust level.
Here are some notes directed to the interest groups that could be helping to promote this funding:

To the environmental lobby:
Why not promote this funding?

To the Republican Party and the climate-change deniers:
I agree with you that there is not rock-solid, 100% certainty
that those dire warnings of the negative effects of climate change will come to pass,
and also that many of the proposals made by the environmentalists
would have the adverse effect of harming American industry
vis-à-vis those nations which take a more lackadaisical attitude
toward climate change and pollution.
But just as there is not 100% certainty that those dire consequences will occur,
neither is there 100% certainty that they won’t.
And in fact, given the credentials of many of those making the dire warnings,
one (or least I) must feel that
the odds are more in favor of those dire effects happening
than that they will not.
So, as a matter of hedging your bets and guarding against the possibility
(again, surely there is such a possibility)
that global warming is going to cause disastrous consequences for future generations,
why not push (and fund!) fusion research,
and other research into more environmentally-friendly energy sources
than fossil fuels,
as hard and as fully as seems reasonable?
The message I get from the fusion research community, as reported in the newspapers,
is that they could profitably use much higher levels of funding.
Why not give them that funding, as a hedge against those problems?

To the Democrats:
And what is your excuse for not increasing funding for fusion research?
And even when you had full control of the government,
the presidency and both branches of Congress
in the 111th Congress in 2009 and 2010,
did you make fusion research a priority?
Not to the best of my knowledge.
Congressman Holt from NJ certainly is pushing this,
but who else is?


Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming
New York Times, 2013-08-20

An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.

The scientists, whose findings are reported in a draft summary of the next big United Nations climate report, largely dismiss a recent slowdown in the pace of warming, which is often cited by climate change doubters, attributing it most likely to short-term factors.

The report emphasizes that the basic facts about future climate change are more established than ever, justifying the rise in global concern. It also reiterates that the consequences of escalating emissions are likely to be profound.

“It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010,” the draft report says. “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level and changed some climate extremes in the second half of the 20th century.”

The draft comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of several hundred scientists that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore. Its summaries, published every five or six years, are considered the definitive assessment of the risks of climate change, and they influence the actions of governments around the world. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent on efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, for instance, largely on the basis of the group’s findings.

The coming report will be the fifth major assessment from the group, created in 1988. Each report has found greater certainty that the planet is warming and greater likelihood that humans are the primary cause.



Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come
New York Times, 2014-03-31

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported on Monday, and they warned that the problem was likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.


Scientists may have solved the giant Siberian crater mystery -
and the news isn't good

by Terrence McCoy
Sydney Morning Herald, 2014-08-06

What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change
Today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us. So what will?
By Ross Koningstein and David Fork
IEEE Spectrum, 2014-11-18

[An outstanding article!
Quoted in a comment to Pat Lang's blog in this post: 2016-11-07 'HC wants "open borders" '.]


Our society needs to fund scientists and engineers to propose and test new ideas, fail quickly, and share what they learn. Today, the energy innovation cycle is measured in decades, in large part because so little money is spent on critical types of R&D.


A disruptive fusion technology, for example, might skip the steam and produce high-energy charged particles that can be converted directly into electricity. For industrial facilities, maybe a cheaply synthesized form of methane could replace conventional natural gas. Or perhaps a technology would change the economic rules of the game by producing not just electricity but also fertilizer, fuel, or desalinated water. In carbon storage, bioengineers might create special-purpose crops to pull CO2 out of the air and stash the carbon in the soil. There are, no doubt, all manner of unpredictable inventions that are possible, and many ways to bring our CO2 levels down to Hansen’s safety threshold if imagination, science, and engineering run wild.

We’re glad that Google tried something ambitious with the RE<c initiative, and we’re proud to have been part of the project. But with 20/20 hindsight, we see that it didn’t go far enough, and that truly disruptive technologies are what our planet needs. To reverse climate change, our society requires something beyond today’s renewable energy technologies. Fortunately, new discoveries are changing the way we think about physics, nanotechnology, and biology all the time. While humanity is currently on a trajectory to severe climate change, this disaster can be averted if researchers aim for goals that seem nearly impossible.



Why the Paris climate deal is meaningless
If you actually care about global warming, you should be rooting against an agreement.
By Oren Cass
Politico, 2015-11-28


But the more seriously you take the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the angrier you should be about the plan for Paris. With so much political capital and so many legacies staked to achieving an “agreement”—any agreement—negotiators have opted to pursue one worth less than…well, certainly less than the cost of a two-week summit in a glamorous European capital.

Climate talks are complex and opaque, operating with their own language and process, so it’s important to cut through the terminology and look at what is actually under discussion. Conventional wisdom holds that negotiators are hashing out a fair allocation of the deep emissions cuts all countries would need to make to limit warming. That image bears little resemblance to reality.

In fact, emissions reductions are barely on the table at all. Instead, the talks are rigged to ensure an agreement is reached regardless of how little action countries plan to take. The developing world, projected to account for four-fifths of all carbon-dioxide emissions this century, will earn applause for what amounts to a promise to stay on their pre-existing trajectory of emissions-intensive growth.


And therein lies the sticking point on which negotiations actually center: “climate finance.” Climate finance is the term for wealth transferred from developed to developing nations based on a vague and shifting set of rationales including repayment of the “ecological debt” created by past emissions, “reparations” for natural disasters, and funding of renewable energy initiatives.

The issue will dominate the Paris talks. The INDCs covering actual emissions reductions are subjective, discretionary, and thus essentially unnegotiable. Not so the cash. Developing countries are expecting more than $100 billion in annual funds from this agreement or they will walk away. (For scale, that’s roughly equivalent to the entire OECD budget for foreign development assistance.)

Somehow, the international process for addressing climate change has become one where addressing climate change is optional and apparently beside the point. Rich countries are bidding against themselves to purchase the developing world’s signature on an agreement so they can declare victory—even though the agreement itself will be the only progress achieved.

An echo chamber of activist groups and media outlets stands ready to rubber-stamp the final agreement as “historic,” validating the vast reservoirs of political capital spent on the exercise. Already, the Chinese and Indian non-plans have been lauded as proof that the developing world is acting and the United States stands as the true obstacle. India won the remarkably inapt New York Times headline: “India Announces Plan to Lower Rate of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” A formal agreement, notwithstanding its actual contents, will only amplify the demands that we do more ourselves—and, of course, that we contribute hundreds of billions of dollars along the way.

From a political perspective, perhaps this outcome represents “victory” for environmental activists launching their next fundraising campaign or for a president building his “legacy.” But it comes at the environment’s expense. A system of voluntary, unenforceable pledges relies on peer pressure for ambitious commitments and the “naming and shaming” of countries that drag their feet. In this context, true U.S. leadership and environmental activism require the condemnation of countries manipulating the process. Instead, the desperation to sign a piece of paper in Paris has taken precedence over an honest accounting. And once the paper is signed, any leverage or standing to demand actual change in the developing world will be weakened further.

Congressional Republicans, signaling they will not appropriate the taxpayer funds that a climate-finance deal might require, stand accused of trying to “derail” the talks. But opposing such a transfer of wealth to developing countries would seem a rather uncontroversial position. One can imagine how the polling might look on: “Should the United States fight climate change by giving billions of dollars per year to countries that make no binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions?” Certainly, President Obama has made no effort to even inform his constituents that such an arrangement is central to his climate agenda, let alone argue forcefully in favor of it.


The cost of climate change: Cold, hard cash sought for support of Obama’s deal
by Stephen Dinan
Washington Times, 2015-11-30

Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa was explicit earlier this year when asked what it would take for developing countries to sign up for the emerging U.S.-led climate deal: “Money.”

His candor was recounted in an April email between two of the Obama administration’s top global warming officials, who called the succinct wisdom from Mr. Kutesa — at the time the president of the U.N. General Assembly — the “best answer of [the] night.”

Indeed, as Todd Stern, the State Department’s top climate official, and Brian Deese, President Obama’s top climate adviser, are trying to rally a deal ahead of a major meeting in Paris that kicks off Monday, it’s becoming clear that any diplomatic breakthrough will be far less about converting hearts and minds than it will be about finding enough money to seal the agreement.

That payoff will come in the form of the Green Climate Fund, the U.N.’s green bank, to which the world’s rich countries are supposed to donate $100 billion a year beginning in 2020, with the money going to the developing world, where it is supposed to be split between converting economies to green energy and helping mitigate the worst effects of changing temperatures.

“It’s not about climate. It never was,” said Christopher Horner, a researcher who obtained the Obama administration email detailing Mr. Kutesa’s stance. “All they want is wealth transfers, for the poor in rich countries to pay the rich in poor countries.”


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