Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Democrats want $1 Trillion Transportation Infrastructure Spending

Sounds good, create jobs, fix bridges and such. But it's just another bailout for the unsustainable autosprawl system. And this to be done with printed money.

masstransitmag: ""Nothing is more important today than investing in the backbone of our nation -- our lifeblood -- in roads, bridges, rail, ports, airports, schools, our electric grid, broadband ... the list is almost endless," Blumenthal said. "But the truth is very simple: The background of our nation is crumbling and decaying before our eyes because we have failed to invest.""
Don't wait for the federal government to help you. Join your local public transit advocates and get more buses in your town or city. The quicker we reduce cars, the sooner we can tame sprawl.

IEA: In 2040, annual CO2 emission rises will still be greater than zero. If so, we are cooked.

IEA's webinar: The Outlook for Renewable Energy: "Implementation of the climate pledges will slow down the projected rise in energy-related CO2 emissions from an average of 2.4% per year since 2000 to 0.5% per year to 2040. 
What about heat? Unless greenhouse gases are decreasing, heat will continue to rise. We have already had heat waves over 40C that have killed hundreds.

What will be the GDP in 2040. What will be the population. We are growing -- and maintaining what we have already developed will make more heat.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Which infrastructure?

Will there be a real national debate in the US? Judging by recent events. Not likely.

The chattering class is caught up with the loss of rights that workers never had. Meanwhile autosprawl meltdown is hitting cities and towns. The costs of subsidizing cars and sprawl are now due and unpayable.

So what will happen? The US federal government will invest more printed money in bridges, roads, and other needs of the car.


Because public transit leads to nicer cities, and people will like them better than sprawl suburbs. When people urbanize birth rates fall. When birth rates fall, growth falls, profits fall.

We can fight back. Don't be distracted by antics at the national level. Join your local public transit advocates who are doing the hard work of getting more buses. Or better, become an advocate of fare-free transit and make more political space for them to operate.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Supply-side environmentalism has failed. Give it up.

A majority of Trump voters want more buses. But the anti-Trump forces are focused on such things as stopping pipelines, calming traffic, and divesting.

Trump and his likes get power from hate and profit-seeking, true, but there is a much more powerful force behind him that is openly discussed, but not in front of the public.

That force is the tsunami of people, at least a billion, who want to live like suburban Americans. What if you got a billion retweets for cutting emissions? You wont.

People do not want to hear that they have to cut back. They don't see rich people doing it.

There is a solution. Give people an alternative to sprawl. Give them car-free cities. This can be accomplished at the local level.

Socialist Party implements #freetransit in Hungary town

Smog Alert Brings Various Injunctions In Hungary - Hungary Today: "The opposition Socialist Party has joined calls by other opposition parties to make use of public transport free of charge during smog alerts. The Budapest arm of the Socialists said that car registration certificates should be valid for use on public transport or travel should be made completely free of charge in times of smog. Earlier, the Dialogue, Liberal and Együtt parties made a similar demand. Budapest’s mayor, István Tarlós, ordered a heightened smog alert on Sunday and banned cars that lack an environmental registration code from the streets from 6am.

There already exists a good example of this in Hungary. In Szeged, Mayor László Botka (Hungarian Socialist Party) put the city on highest alert for smog. For the duration of the alert, the city is offering free public transport services to decrease air pollution caused by traffic in the southern Hungarian city. People can take free rides on the buses and trams of the city from Tuesday to Sunday in Szeged."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump tells it like it is!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The problem of falling net energy -- the elephant in the room

@NafeezAhmed openDemocracy: "Over the last century, the net value of the energy we are able to extract from our fossil fuel resource base is inexorably declining. The scientific concept used to measure this value is Energy Return on Investment (EROI), a calculation that compares the quantity of energy one extracts from a resource, to the quantity of energy used to enable the extraction.
.... Because we need energy to produce and consume, we need more energy to increase production and consumption, driving economic growth. But if we’re getting less energy over time, then we simply cannot increase economic growth.

This has led to a number of devastating consequences. To maintain economic growth, we are using ingenious debt mechanisms to finance new economic activity. The expansion of global debt is now higher than 2007 pre-crash levels....

As global net energy is declining, to keep the endless growth machine running, the imperative to drill like crazy to get more energy out only deepens. So instead of scaling back our exploitation of fossil fuels, we are accelerating it. As we are accelerating fossil fuel exploitation, this is accelerating climate change. That in turn is driving more extreme weather events like droughts, storms and floods, which is putting crops in major food basket regions at increasing risk.

As climate and food instability ravages regions all over the world, this has fueled government efforts to task their militaries with planning for how to deal with the rising instabilities that would result as these processes weaken states, stoke civil unrest and even inflame terrorism. And that escalating breakdown of regional states coincides conveniently with a temptation to use military force to consolidate control of more fossil fuel resources."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What's wrong with electric cars?

  • Sprawl. All cars promote sprawl. Sprawl means each house with its own leaf-blower, snow blower, heating and cooling, etc. Sprawl wastes energy.
  • Growth. More cars enables more babies.
  • Manufacture:
Tesla’s Electric Cars Aren’t as Green as You Might Think | WIRED: "...At this mine, those rare earths amounted to 0.2 percent of what gets pulled out of the ground. The other 99.8 percent—now contaminated with toxic chemicals—is dumped back into the environment. That damage is difficult to quantify, just like the impact of oil drilling...."
But the biggest problem with electric cars is that many people see them as a solution to climate and energy problems. By the time the hype has cleared, precious time will be lost, time needed to implement actual solutions.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump's Plans for Fossil Fuels Will Shrink the Economy

Motherboard: "It all comes down to physics: the laws of thermodynamics. Economies need energy to function. And to grow, they need extra energy to fuel that growth in production and consumption. But as more energy is required just to extract new energy from fossil fuels, there is less “energy surplus” available to continue driving economic growth—to ramp up even more production and consumption. And increasingly, more and more energy is being used just to maintain the existing infrastructure of society as it is, leaving less room for further growth."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What really happens when you go all-renewable?

A physicist calculates the costs of switching to electricity powered by renewables. Few people are actually "doing the math" as he does. Scientists have been heroic fighting against the denier/delayers. Now we need them to run the numbers on the "solutions."

A Nation-Sized Battery | Do the Math: "What about cost? At today’s price for lead, $2.50/kg, the national battery would cost $13 trillion in lead alone, and perhaps double this to fashion the raw materials into a battery (today’s deep cycle batteries retail for four times the cost of the lead within them). But I guarantee that if we really want to use more lead than we presently estimate to exist in deposits, we’re not dealing with today’s prices. Leaving this caveat aside, the naïve $25 trillion price tag is more than the annual U.S. GDP. Recall that lead-acid is currently the cheapest battery technology. Even if we sacrificed 5% of our GDP to build this battery (would be viewed as a huge sacrifice; nearly a trillion bucks a year), the project would take decades to complete."
When you actually calculate what it takes to switch to renewables, degrowth seems a lot more reasonable.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Outgoing Transportation Secretary Says Private Funding Isn't the Answer

Save this quote. This is exactly what is going to happen. A lot of money will be spent by new US administration on infrastructure and things will get worse.

Outgoing Transportation Secretary Says Private Funding Isn't the Answer – Skift: "But Foxx also cautioned that “you could put $5 trillion into America’s transportation system and if the money isn’t directed in the right way, we will still have congestion, still have problems.”"

Wealth and energy are locked together, decoupling is a fraud

Economics: "The core finding is that simply maintaining our current economic wealth requires continual energy sustenance. Like a living organism, civilization requires energy not just to grow but also to maintain its current size or wealth.  All components of civilization, whether human or physical, have no innate value; instead they acquire economic value through mutual connections since these enable the circulations that define humanity. These circulations between and among us and our stuff require a consumption of energy. Viewed very generally, our total civilization wealth is directly tied to this energetic power through a constant. "
So even if emissions are zero, growth will increase the amount of installed human infrastructure and human activity, which means there will be more heat. No matter what fuel is used. No. matter. what. fuel. is. used. At 2.3% growth, human infrastructure/activity will double in 30 years. Due to 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, energy cannot depart earth faster than a fixed rate based on [fixed] surface area and [fixed] energy transfer rate.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Even emission-free, growth will burn our living space

Solar advocates like to say that the energy from the sun is plentiful and free. That's true. But what should we be doing with it? Is it dangerous? Could we burn ourselves? Is there a lab to test in?

Yes, we are in the lab, and have a big experiment already with concentrated sunlight. We have been burning old sunlight that was concentrated into coal, oil, and gas. We have increased the amount of heat on earth's surface, both land and water.

Fossil fuel has allowed us to become over 7 billion in number.  We have over 350ppm of gases in the air that are trapping more energy every day and will continue for a long time. We have a complex way of living that demands energy use to double about every 30 years. These three things generate heat faster than the earth's infrared radiation can dissipate it into space.

Even if we stop adding heat trapping gases to the air, our activities will turn incoming solar energy to heat, and yes, we will burn ourselves.

Said another way, even if we convert to emission-free energy, we will still cook the biosphere.

What to do? The sunlight coming in must be stored, not used in heat-generating activity. We must reduce our numbers. We must simplify our complexity.  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2nd Law of Thermodynamics prevents decoupling

Why economics is just a physics problem: "Stepping back to see the world economy as a simple physical object, one where people are only part of a larger whole, would be a stretch for a traditional economist hung up on the idea that wealth must be restricted to physical capital. But, crucially, unlike traditional models, it is an idea that can be rigorously tested and potentially disproved. It is a hypothesis that is falsifiable. If the above is correct then we should expect to see that summing up the inflation-adjusted of GDP all nations, over the entirety of history, this very general expression of inflation-adjusted global economic wealth is tied to global primary energy consumption through a numerical constant, independent of the year that is considered. "

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Brave candidate calls out false eco "leaders"

The neoliberals are moving heaven and earth to keep the lid on the eco activists who are trying to stop climate change and save the biosphere. They provide "leaders" who misdirect the energy of honest activists. Why do so few eco organizations openly call for free transit? The answer is because they get that phone call from their "funders" re-directing them to a goal that does not threaten growth.

Here a candidate in Scotland openly calls for free public transport and calls out the "green" party to stop misleading.

Natural carbon-capture in peat. 100's of millions of tons of carbon in danger of being released

While we scramble to discover ways to capture and store carbon, development, growth, and climate change are threatening to release billions of tons of naturally stored carbon. Growth and development must stop.
Carbon Brief: "Peat soils are susceptible to climatic changes if they cause the peat to dry out, which starts the decomposition process again, releasing the stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Protecting peat soils – along with other ecosystems that store carbon – is an important part of the global effort to cut carbon emissions. And the first step in peatland protection is knowing where they are."

Friday, January 13, 2017

Here are the numbers on how #autosprawl has bankrupted America

Strong Towns : "The median household income in Lafayette is $41,000. With the wealth that has been created by all this infrastructure investment, a median family living in the median house would need to have their city taxes go from $1,500 per year to $9,200 per year. To just take care of what they now have, one out of every five dollars this family makes would need to go to fixing roads, ditches and pipes. That will never happen.

Thus, Lafayette has a predicament. Infrastructure was supposed to serve them. Now they serve it."

Climate deniers have morphed into "decouplers"

When the term climate "denier" came to be, it would have been better named climate "delayer." Because their purpose was to delay action that might hurt corporate profit. So it should have been expected that as they lost one argument they would morph into something slightly different. They sound like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar, making up lies. Here are their stages.

  • there is no global warming
  • ok, there is, but it's not man-made
  • ok, there is, and it's man-made, but it's not a problem
  • ok, it's a problem, but we can decouple!

Decoupling means separating carbon emissions from economics so growth can continue while emissions go down.

Now we will be delayed another 10 years while we expose this canard.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Writer runs the numbers on the decoupling hoax

Resilience : "Central in the ecomodernist gospel is the claim that the economy can be “decoupled” from nature, from resource demands and ecological impacts. That is, technical advance can enable output and consumption to go on growing, presumably for ever, while resource demands and ecological impacts are reduced way down to tolerable levels. The previous critiques of Phillips and ecomodernists in general that I have seen (e.g., by Hopkins 2015, Caradonna et al., 2015, Crist, 2015 and Smaje, 2015a, 2015b) have not focused on this numerical issue, i.e., on the evidence indicating what the rate of “decoupling” is and might be in future. A glance at this realm makes ecomodernism, to be polite, extremely implausible."

Neoliberalism means growth, and the end of the biosphere

Resource Insights: To confront power, one must first name it: Neoliberalism and the sustainability crisis: "This message is inconvenient for both right and left in that it suggests that we must dispense with the growth economy and structure our economic lives based on other principles, say, sustainability above all and solidarity through shared sacrifice. These principles have the possibility to be inspiring, but they simply do not fit into the neoliberal vision of perpetual growth and concentration of wealth in the hands of the few."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Neoliberalism, left and right, is destroying the biosphere, know your enemy

Resource Insights : "Scott Walker may be an egregious example on the right. But politicians on the left should not be let off lightly. The insistence, for instance, that the deployment of renewable energy will solve the climate change problem is disingenuous at best. It should be obvious to those who understand climate science that only drastic reductions in overall energy use and major changes in our infrastructure and in our daily routines can hope to bring down greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to avoid catastrophic climate outcomes. And again, the marketplace alone isn't going to do these things for us."

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Another hard punch coming from #peakoil

via @NafeezAhmed
Brace for the oil, food and financial crash of 2018 – INSURGE intelligence – Medium: "A report by HSBC shows that contrary to industry mythology, even amidst the glut of unconventional oil and gas, the vast bulk of the world’s oil production has already peaked and is now in decline; while European government scientists show that the value of energy produced by oil has declined by half within just the first 15 years of the 21st century."
The US has $Trillions in auto and sprawl infrastructure, and is investing more every day for maintenance, repair, and new construction. Plans for undeveloped areas of the world are mainly road-building. Something has to break. Cheap oil peaked in 2005.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Myth of Renewable Energy and Climate Change

Fair Observer: "This culture will not act to stop or significantly slow global warming. This culture will sacrifice—read kill—the planet rather than question the socioeconomic system that is killing our only home.

How do we know that? Well, here are a few good reasons.

Let’s start with Donald Trump. No, even though the president-elect of the United States thinks climate change is a hoax, he and his hot air—and what we can presume will be his policies—are not by themselves sufficient to kill the planet.

More significant is that his position on global warming is representative of his contempt for the natural world. And even more significant than this is that his contempt for the natural world is representative of the attitudes of much of this culture. He received almost 62 million votes, meaning Trump is far from alone in what he feels about the real world."

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mass destruction from US Iraq Invasion - just a mistake, oh well. Move on.

The Cipher Brief: "It turns out that the real mistake in the Iraq war was not the judgment that they came to, but the fact that if they had really thought about it, the analysts would have only said that they only had low confidence in that judgment that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.  That would have been a completely different message, right? 

That was a mistake, so the lesson learned from Iraq was to really focus on your level of confidence in the judgment you’re making. "
This shows the power of oil. They are so contemptuous of people they think they can pass off mass murder as a "mistake."

Sunday, January 1, 2017

CO2 Emissions Flat? - Reality Check

CO2 Emissions Flat for 3 years. What does that mean?
  • study is about CO2 only, does not include methane, other ghg's
  • flat does not mean zero emissions, CO2 still pumping into the air 63% faster than in 1990
  • amount of CO2 in atmosphere is still growing
  • study does not include emissions from deforestation
greencarreports : "The study focuses solely on CO2 emissions, and does not include emissions of other greenhouse gases, including methane.
It also does not include releases of CO2 from nonindustrial sources like deforestation.
Nonetheless, the study hints at the possibility that global CO2 emissions are plateauing.
The next step, then, would be working to ensure that they start to decline significantly."