Is the 2 °C World a Fantasy?

This news feature article in Nature this week concludes something that’s  been clear for a while now — the IPCC  is  not even considering any plan of action that can keep global warming down to 2 degrees Celsius.

While  its clear that 2 degrees is inadequate to mitigate what will  effectively be permanent  damage, it is  now equally clear that the world’s leaders won’t  consider any plan of action which keeps the earth below 2  degrees.  In fact, it seems that they will not even commit to any binding agreement whatever to take  any actions, instead making non-binding commitments.

Arctic Sea Ice Slowly Slips Away

There are a  hundred ways to see that climate  change is upon us. The change in polar ice is one such indicator.

The video here shows that there’s a been a dramatic falloff in t he amount and age of ice in the polar ice of the Arctic Sea. The chart says most of it, but the video allows you to see that the age and  thickness of the ice is also deteriorating.


The Carbon Bubble is Here

Its been clear for more than a decade that in order to stay below 2 degrees C, many assets on fossil fuel companies’ balance sheets must remain stranded, at huge costs to them and ultimately their shareholders–though they’ll reap those benefits too.


Now the UN Climate Chief agrees:

“If the 2C target is rigorously applied, then up to 80% of declared reserves owned by the world’s largest listed coal, oil and gas companies and their investors would be subject to impairment as these assets become stranded,” wrote the group in their report Unburnable Carbon.”

Obama, Oil, and Lip-Service to Democracy

I think that the United States should promote Democracy, and our “elected” leaders say they also value it.  Noe however that when it comes to actually paying respect to Democracies, its instructive to look at how Hugo Chavez and King Abdullah were greeted by the White House upon their deaths.

King Abdullah “had the courage of his convictions” while Hugo Chavez was mentioned only in so far as “the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principals and the rule of law”.  Its too bad that we don’t value those things when it comes to Saudi Arabia.

This is of course driven by power and oil.  Both are important oil producing countries, but one collaborates with the United States and the other does not.


Why Do Governments Continue to Subsidize Fossil Fuels?

This is a question that should have been  resolved long ago.  However, we still spend $480 billion in subsidies to oil, coal and natural gas companies.

There’s another $1.4 trillion in mis-pricing.  It  should be easy to at least get rid of the subsidies.

Washington Post article here.

The Cause of Addiction

I’ve seen several things recently that have argued that drug abuse is closely connected with bad environments, especially abuse as a child.  This anecdote is a great summary of why that is:

In the 1970s, Vancouver psychology professor Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Alexander built Rat Park, a lush cage where the rats had colored balls and the best rat food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, would happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats had used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.