These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.
They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.
Hansen and Sato say that limiting human-made warming to 2°C and CO2 to 450 ppm is a prescription for disaster
They say we could be looking at sea level rise of up to 5 metres by 2100.
There are posts at Climate Progress and treehugger but you are better off reading the abstract of the draft paper itself. Then cop this:
Perhaps the most striking characteristic of Pliocene climate reconstructions is that low latitude ocean temperatures were very similar to temperatures today. High latitudes were much warmer than today, the ice sheets smaller, and sea level about 25 m higher (Dowsett et al., 2009 and references therein). Atmospheric CO2 amount in the Pliocene is poorly known, but a typical assumption, based on a variety of imprecise proxies, is 380 ppm (Raymo et al., 1996).
We conclude that Pliocene temperatures probably were no more than 1-2°C warmer on global average than peak Holocene temperature.
But it was considerably warmer at the poles, with consequent loss of ice sheets bulk. The effect is sometimes known as polar amplification. This involves a strong albedo feedback which could produce a doubling of ice loss every 10 years. The cumulative effect is shown in this graph:
We’ll know in 20 years whether we are on that path. If so only an actual cooling of the planet will stop it.
A two-metre sea level rise is inevitable
The only question is how fast it will happen according to Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute. He reckons:
“The crux of the sea level issue is that it starts very slowly but once it gets going it is practically unstoppable.”
“There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero emissions.”
We have to cool the planet.
Sound familiar? But his best guess was a one meter rise this century and up to five meters over the next 300 years.
We left a safe climate behind when the increase was 0.5°C above pre-industrial
That is the view of David Spratt at Climate Code Red, picked up at Crikey with a different spin.
Spratt draws the lesson from the Hansen and Sato paper, which is actually in the original. Beyond 0.5°C we are likely to get amplified polar feedbacks and an “albedo flip”. Considering ice loss from the ice sheets doubled from 2003-2008, we are off to a flying start. Spratt provides this useful graph of temperatures in the Holocene, which I’ve enlarged for your benefit:
We’ve left the Holocene comfort zone.
Greenland ice sheet is safer than scientists previously thought
Yep, not everyone sings from the same song sheet.
Hansen and Sato do go into the various aspects of ice sheet decay. I’m sure they would say that Professor Shepherd focuses too much on one aspect. But time will tell. You bet against Hansen at your peril. He’s been right for three decades.
More than 50 per cent of observed glaciers in the Karakoram region in the northwestern Himalaya are advancing or stable
That’s perhaps what the headline of the article should have said.
The critical factor is whether the surface is strewn with debris, which seems to provide protection from warming.
It doesn’t imply that global warming has been cancelled.
Debris-covered glaciers are common in the rugged central Himalaya, but they are almost absent in subdued landscapes on the Tibetan Plateau, where retreat rates are higher.
Record melting in 2010 for the Greenland ice sheet
There was plenty of melting in Greenalnd in 2010:
“This past melt season was exceptional, with melting in some areas stretching up to 50 days longer than average,” said Dr. Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at The City College of New York.
Summer temperatures up to 3°C above the average were combined with reduced snowfall.
The capital of Greenland, Nuuk, had the warmest spring and summer since records began in 1873.
Northern Canada has a heat wave
Or more accurately a staggering mildness.
Imagine having temperatures 21°C above average for over a month. Just as well the average was about -30°C.
Polar bear’s nine-day swim
Swam 687km looking for sea ice, she did, which they need to hunt seals.
The ABC tells us what she did, but we have to go to the BBC to learn why and to what effect.
Not a happy story. She lost 22% of her body fat in two months and her yearling cub. This was presumably at a time of the year when she should have been increasing body weight to hibernate and breed.
Healthy and back to work
That’s me. The ankle has lost it’s suspected cellulitis and I’m back to work in the blazing sun. Collecting posts about ice has been therapeutic. I promise to have an ice-free zone in the next edition of CC.
72 thoughts on “Climate clippings 13”
TH!NK ABOUT IT has a new blogging competition leading up to World Water Day on 22 March – Th!nk5: Water. My posts are here. Please join us.
Exceptional clippings Brian.The mainstream media have managed to ignore paleoclimatology. Lovelock in is Vanishing Face of Gaia makes it clear he trusts the historical records of climate change much more than the computer cyber predictions, which apparently cannot usually reproduce past events on the assumptions currently used. So the Hansen paper given his record has unusual significance, that will of course be under-reported. Thanks for bring it to our attention.
Sealevel rise seems to be a far more significant danger than ‘bad weather’ and other televisual extreme climate events . I don’t think there will be wizz bang techno solutions to ocean level rise. Dutch dykes were only possible because of local peculiarities of coastline, and not reproducible most places.
Non linear processes baffle nearly everyone, as witnessed by how quickly most people get into trouble with debt. Any change that’s exponential is to the ordinary person like magic,in this case black magic.That’s the trouble with government policies always assuming manageable linear change.
Thanks Brian. I think Hansen’s take on short-term and long-term climate sensitivity has been extremely useful for linking the model projections with palaeoclimate.
Some thoughts on the Rebuilding After The Floods plan here.
Good one Brian as long as you don’t need cheering up. I had missed the effect of the 9 day swim on the bear and the yearling cub. However, the story does imply that bears may be able to swim further to the ice than we thought. Interesting question here is just how far could a bear swim to the ice without losing the yearling cub or being too thin to breed. I have been tracking Arctic sea ice extent for quite some time. A bear living on the shores of Hudson Bay would have been in trouble because of very late icing over but there were plenty of other places where not much swimming would have been required AT THE MOMENT.
Meanwhile our efforts haven’t been receiving high praise:
http://climateprogress.org/2011/01/27/australia-cut-delay-clean-energy-funding-after-record-warming-floods/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+climateprogress%2FlCrX+%28Climate+Progress%29“>Climate Progress was gob smacked at the idea that
Yep – its all the more the galling that the massive fossil-fuel subsidies we shell out for allegedly “price competitive” energy sources were untouched by the program cuts.
Let’s save money for flood repairs – by making further floods and other disastrous weather events cumulatively more likely.
Brilliant. No wonder they won the last election so easily.
Bloody hell, its $6billion p.a. we pay in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. It might be reliable, but so much for “cheap”.
Some figures have it s high as $9b. Chop a few billion off that!
Mystified @ 2, Hansen talks about three kinds of knowledge on climate:
1. Direct observations
2. The paleoclimate record
In that order of priority. His use of the paleoclimate record to gain insights in phenomena which are hard to explain has been outstanding.
BTW Rahmstorf reckons we will be spending $215 billion pa by 2020 on adaptation to sea level rise, and that will only be partly successful. There is no way we can adapt to 5 metres or anything like it.
Roger @ 3, thanks for linking to your blog. I’ll try to keep an eye on it for potential clippings, but we’d all benefit if you keep us up to date with links here.
I see that a cyclone is menacing Perth and another is predicted to hit north Queensland in a few days. I don’t recall Perth being at risk of tropical cyclones before, although I admit my knowledge on the subject is limited. While these are merely weather events, the climate scientists have been saying for decades that extreme events are likely to become more frequent as the process takes off.
In the context of just one recent event causing an ongoing disaster to Australian agricultural production, the unchanging superficiality of the Australian political debate is profoundly depressing.
A good one here for cyclone history in Perth http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/history/wa/perth.shtml#tracks
…and I see another cyclone, larger and more intense, seems likely to hit Queensland straight after Cyclone Anthony.
A maritime friend of mine is more worried about that one
I think his sentiment was” A left jab then a good right hook”
But these things can’t be known till after the event.
As our useless governments (yes that is plural and multicoloured) have cozied themselves into the notion that “IF Global Warming is real then we will just adapt”. It is time to start examining what that adaption looks like.
What do the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 degree worlds look like. What sort of infrastructure will work in these future conditions, and what won’t work. Exactly how vulnerable are we.
It is important that the bureaucrats get a serve of reality as it is becoming clear that they are the invisible “guiding hand” in this deplorable dearth of sound judgement on Global Warming Action.
So I am starting to research what will stand up to the weather of the future: 50+ degree heat, 300 kph winds, 500mm per hour rain, mega floods, rock melon sized hail, tornadoes where they have never before occured, sea level rise and tidal surges driven by 300kph winds (entirely new dimension), higher humidity, fire storms, blanketing dust storms including gravel projectiles, not to mention the geological effects of the earth changing shape with the ice displacement causing earthquakes.
I am guessing that in 40 years time nothing much of what we are building now will survive. High rise buildings above 6 stories will fail (Chicago last year got a look at how vulnerable their skyscrapters are to high winds), high tension cables will need to be underground, roads will require closely spaced wind shelters and roading materials will need to be heat proofed, most of our domestic buildings will fail under wind rain and heat, water and sewerage supply will be very problematic for a variety of reasons, farming will become an extremely hazardous occupation, clothing and footware will take on bizare new forms, shopping malls will become the most robust surviveable construction although their viability will be less certain due to economic disruption, air travel will be less common and airports will be rearranged,,,,,.
The problem with all of this will be the pace of change required, and this has direct bearing on the Queensland flood reconstruction. Our denialist government is totally devoid of the knowledge to make the most strategically intelligent decisions in this first rebuilding effort in the new weather world. The other dimension is “is there enough oil left to enable the West to rebuild to survive Global Warming”?
Hal, I’ve done a new post on on the approaching cyclones. Craigy, didn’t pick up your link @ 11. Gotta fly, but you could make the link there also.
Interesting one Bilb. We do of course already have some of these things in parts of Australia. 50 deg C in the shade is not unknown and we have had temperatures above 48 deg in the last week. Our pioneers have survived these temperatures in the past without air conditioning. At Newman the temp spec for tailing lines that were sitting on the ground was 80 deg. In the shade doesn’t really tell you what has to be endured. Newman had no problems with rail lines or roads but there have been problems in cooler places where the expansion exceeds the design – so there is a lot of work on some rail lines.
Parts of Aus are already designed for 300 kph winds. The real problem will be places like Brisbane that are definitely not designed for anything like this. Upgrading buildings just isn’t going to be cheap.
Not sure what will happen with hail. Really heavy hail is a feature of the north coast of NSW and doesn’t form in the parts of the tropics where I have lived. So it may be something that simply moves south. 500 mm/hr is frightening in terms of the flash flood p[otential but it is worth keeping in mind that a very wet cyclone averages less than 25 mm/hr.
We believed that first aid training helped safety because it focused peoples minds on the potential for accidents. Thinking through what we have to do to live with global warming might focus a few minds as well. (But maybe not?)
How can anyone take the cliamte change chicken little’s seriously when nuclear power is excluded from the “acounting” for reducing carbon emmissions?
ELefty at 7:
Here is a list of the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
It’s truly staggering but surely under estimates the level of the subsidies.
For example, there is no quantification of the level of tax deductability for pertol and diesel costs as well as coal costs for electricity utilities. There is no allowance made for the tax deductibility of depreciation of fuel guzzling vehicles and equipment.
The potential savings are truly staggering and people need to be advised and made aware of how they are being milked by this rapacious industry.
Thats right amortiser – the tax deductible elements surely add to the already leviathan level of handouts that those supplicant, bludging industries currently rob the taxpayer of.
Here’s two options:
1. Stand on your own two feet, and slug it out renewables over time, or
2. Chuck some dollars the way of industries that might just save our butts, instead of condemning us to a slow death as a species.
Lets not forget non-renewables like oil are actually *running out*, people. You dont even need to believe in AGW to support alternative energy development. Or would rather return to the hand plough?
It is just mind bending the stupidity of what is going on, isn’t it Lefty.
Some countries and businesses know which way is up
And there is the ever present greed
I guess we can buy the tech off them later Bilb! 😛
Someone’s gotta make the money out if it, and nature has apparently determined that it will the smarter ones, with wiser governments than ours.
@19 – you make it sounds as if these “subsidies” are only available to certain industries that you dislike when in fact most of them are non-specific and available to all.
Yes, LeftE, making Australians permanent retail customers for the solar products that we should and can be production specialists for. Meanwhile, the most efficient solar energy system in the world, our GenIIPV sits waiting for our small business to build sufficient funds to build the proof of concept. That is Australia, and in the US
is likely to be a casualty of the coming NASA GOP & Teaparty forced cash crunch. The NASA Omega project is the front runner in algal oil solutions. This brilliant rationalisation uses sewerage outfall to provide the nutrients and water for the growing of algae for oil. The byproduct is the recovery of valuable nutirents such as phophorus.
In axing significant green projects to fund Global Warming induced damage Gillard has signalled to the world that Australia is a Green Energy wasteland. The country with the absolute most Solar potential will deliver the very least. That in itself has got to have the rest of the world shaking heads in dismay.
Meanwhile, the extended cost of Global Warming starts to take hold
What Razor said @ 23, with knobs on. Amortiser’s so-called list of subsidies to fossil fuels was ludicrous even at the time it was produced – and that was 10 years ago. If all you’ve got to demonstrate wide-eyed claims of billions in fossil fuel subsidies is an article in the Canberra Times (!!!??) of a decade ago, you are not exactly a devotee of evidence-based policy.
Expenditure on roads and parking is by far the largest alleged subsidy in Diesendorf’s absurd list. How is it a subsidy to fossil fuels? Don’t electric vehicles require parking or roads? Or is the implication that in the great, Green-led, non-fossil fuel future transport will be so severely restricted that expenditure on this infrastructure won’t be needed? That is certainly what Monckton and Bolt believe. Strange bedfellows for you.
As Razor points out, practically everything else on the list is also generic, and even if (dubiously) they can be characterised as subsidies, they equally subsidise non-fossil fuel sources of the goods or services in question.
And how about you look also at costs imposed selectively by Government by taxation and regulation on fossil fuels? Excise tax on transport fuel alone comes in at over $10 billion annually (net of rebates). Do wind and solar energies pay this? actually they benefit from it as it cross-subsidises (only about 38% of fuel excise revenue goes back into transport infrastructure like roads) their various uneconomic and in most cases never likely to be economic activities.
Moreover, while I usually try to avoid ad homs, in the case of Mark Diesendorf one has to make an exception. He is a nutter. His views on nuclear energy have been shown on this blog and elsewhere to be evidence-free on a number of occasions. He is also on record as asserting that fluoride in water supplies causes brain damage. I assume you also believe this?
Well said Wozza. I was a bit tight for time this morning so didn’t expand. Thanks.
Razor Blades, the several trillion dollars the west has spent in the ME on wars and foreign aid and weapons over the past few decades must surely amount to the Mother Of All Subsidies.
Wozza, Razor – then see this study from 2007: http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/australia/resources/reports/climate-change/energy-and-transport-subsidies.pdf
The largest subsuidies are FBT rip-offs, and fuel subsideis to coal fired power stations.
Others include cheap electricity for aluminum smelting, stae energy conesssions, energy grants credit schemes, concessional excise for aviation, and fuel sales grants, excise rebates etc.
There industries simply dont stand on its own two feet, and there’s molto fat here to cut.
Thanks Lefty E, I will plough through it in due course.
But the initial glance is not promising – it starts with “the largest identified subsidy results from the failure of governments to capture sufficient revenue from the road network”.
Leave aside for the moment whether this actually true – the AA and the MTAA, for example, claim that fuel excise and other taxes on motorists more than pay for roads, and while they not disinterested observers neither is Greenpeace. Leave aside also whether, even if true, it is actually a subsidy – one can mount an argument that roads in a modern society are a public good and users shouldn’t pay their full cost. I am surprised that you apparently now advocate full user pays provisions for public infrastructure. It has some implications for, say, hospitals with which I doubt you would be comfortable.
However, even accepting Greenpeace’s argument that there is a funding gap for roads, and that that amounts to a subsidy, to assume it is a subsidy to fossil fuel is exactly the same fallacy as the earlier piece. It is a generic subsidy to transport. Roads would still cost even if all vehicles were powered by other than fossil fuel. That few of them are is because such vehicles are uncompetitive.
Sorry, mate, the failure to subsidy your preference for electric vehicles to the extent that the economics are reversed and fossil fuel vehicles are driven off the road does not amount to a subsidy to fossil fuel.
Note also that the paper’s next largest single subsidy relies on the claim that there is “evidence that coal-fired power stations pay much less for their fuel than the international market price”. It then acknowledges elsewhere that there is no international trading in brown coal, so no international market price. Go figure how they then nonetheless manage to calculate a subsidy to that considerable part of the coal-fired power industry (eg all of Victoria’s generation) that relies on brown coal.
Go figure how they calculate anything in fact. None of the various specific figures and claims are referenced so they can be checked. Smells like, well like Greenpeace actually.
Sorry, went on longer than I intended given that I have only skimmed. Will read more fully.
There is black coal too you know
“Note also that the paper’s next largest single subsidy relies on the claim that there is “evidence that coal-fired power stations pay much less for their fuel than the international market price”. It then acknowledges elsewhere that there is no international trading in brown coal, so no international market price. Go figure how they then nonetheless manage to calculate a subsidy to that considerable part of the coal-fired power industry (eg all of Victoria’s generation) that relies on brown coal”
NSW government bought all of the coal reserves in the state in the 80’s. The selling price has been manipulated ever since. This manipulation iscross calculated to Vic brown coal for compettitive position.
That is how it works. Sorry mate you’re down.
Obiwan did not mention Climate Change once in his SOTU address.
Carbon Trading has ceased in both the US and EU.
The Greatest Moral Challenge that was pressingly urgent is no longer a high priority as the Guillotine cuts off funds here in Australia.
Which way is the wind blowing now?
Towards international irrelevance for the both the US and AU on these issues Razor. And possibly least favoured trading partner / pariah status if things goes really bad for us in international negotiations. Even China has a higher effective CO2 price. The days when non-players get a free ride may be numebred – it could come to sanctions.
Eveyone should be concerned – even skeptics. Loads of coal still, but the same cant be said for oil. Those who innnovate re alternative energy will win.
The US and AU are on track to come last – despite originally having had the edge in solar.
I mean seriosuly- has there EVER BEEN a more obvious area in which to invest in R&D for the 21st century?
An idiot with one big mate is still an idiot.
One of the coal mines I worked at got it’s leases from a power company with one of the conditions being that the mine would provide coal to their power station at a very attractive price compared with what they could have got on the international market. As a result of this deal the coal company has made healthy profits on their total sales and we the tax payers have got lower priced power than we otherwise would have.
I guess you could argue that the shareholders have been subsidizing the tax payers but it is all a bit tenuous.
Wozza@25, affirming Razor, declared as follows:
Your broad objection is correct. If people are attributing as subsidies to fossil hydrocarbons goods that support non-fossil hydrocarbon usages, then they are being, at best, careless.
In practice though approximately 100% of the power that separates the surface of a tyre from a road surface is sourced from fossil hydrocarbons. I don’t know how large a proportion of the tonne/kms on Australian roads are done by plug-in electrical vehicles fed by hydropower or solar panels, but if it’s as much as 0.5% I’d be very surprised. I’ll wear that discount though.
More broadly, I don’t care if the subsidy to fossil hydrocarbons is $10bn pa or ten cents per annum. I’m for withdrawing it. I’m also not prepared to set off various fuelo taxes and excises paid. It seems to me that these are an entirely legitimate source of revenue and that if anything, they should be increased, (though personally as I’ve argued earlier here, I’d prefer to exchange the array of motoring related charges for user/road-based system of charging). I also think that tax deductions for dirty energy should be abolished.
It is argued by the friends of fossil hydrocarbons that if a harsher regime is imposed on fossil hydrocarbon harvest/combustion that the commercial users of these products will seek to pass these extra costs onto end users. Indeed they will and in the basence of alternative technologies, they may well be largely successful. That’s fine by me because the proceeds of this harsher regime can be used, in part, to fully (or more than fully) compensate all but the wealthiest end users in cash or non-discretionary means-tested services, ensuring that their relative position has not been harmed. Sooner or later, less fossil hydrocarbon intensive usages will follow and with cleaner air and clearner water, those in the footprint of the emissions will enjoy better health and this will be a bonus.
It is pointed out above Wozza that the occupation of the middle east to secure the flow of oil is a huge subsidy. If this cost were added to fossil oil, it would be very much more expensive than it is now. We might also add in the cost of measures to defend against domestic terrorism. These are very substantial sums indeed and they come also at the cost of “national security” laws that are an abuse of freedom. Here of course your point about multiple usages may have some force, as there’s little doubt that more than just the flow of oil is at stake here. This is wag the dog and military keynesianism writ large.
I am not going into bat for Diesendorf but let there be no doubt Wozza that the subsidies to fossil hydrocarbons are very large indeed.
@32 – Lefty E, I am pretty sure an sanctions based on CO2 emmissions would not be allowed by the WTO. Given that we can’t get the Doha round through of the WTO, or Hopenchangen/Cancun etc agreement – exactly how do you expect there to be any global agreement on these sort of trade barriers?
As for the R&D – if private investors want to try and make alternative energy sources then good luck to them. However, governments really should stay out of trying to pick winners, given their terrible track record in that endeavour.
@34 – you just love the idea of wealth redistribution don’t you. Using climate change as a conduit for achieving this socialist aim is now well recognised and doomed to failure.
There is good precedent for BTAs on this basis. The key tests would be “non-discrimination” and making the levy meet a bona fide environmental purpose. Neither would be hard and in any event, someone must notify a dispute before the dispute resolution procedures kick in. That would be no easy thing.
I certainly do, at least when it supports equity rather than subverts it, as the usual “free market mechanisms” tend to do. In this case my proposed redistribution subversts the wealthy folk’s embezzlement of the commons.
It’s not a socialist aim per se. It’s a fairness aim that almost anyone can understand.
Hmmm, 260kph in circles, and it’s about to smash into the east coast of Club Stupid?
Wouldn’t be record sea temps or anything making any difference.
Then I guess potential loss of life and infrastructure is all to be ignored when human spite and ignorance needs to make a point.
“However, governments really should stay out of trying to pick winners, given their terrible track record in that endeavour.”
So, you’d oppose the $10b in fossil fuel subsidies then Razor?
How is it “socialist” to develop, buy, and sell a competing form of energy technology dude?
You can buys shares in this stuff Razor. Its called “capitalism”.
For that matter, by contrast, coal-fired is still the most state-owned by % of all energy sources.
Youre not making a lick of sense here dude!
Lefty E, Razor, Fran (and of course anyone else who is still listening, but I suspect the numbers will be few).
The issue of the permissibility and impact of trade sanctions to enforce ideological views of environmental purity has been covered at length in several previous threads. Fran is quite right that, strictly speaking, it is all hypothetical unless and until such sanctions are imposed, and then tested in the WTO disputes settlement process. That said, the odds are high that Razor’s view that, in practice, it couldn’t happen, is correct, for at least three reasons.
One, to be WTO-compliant, sanctions would have to be imposed selectively, by country and by product, on the basis of a calculation of embodied greenhouse emissions in each product and the precise extent, again by individual product, to which existing greenhouse gas emission reduction measures in each country penalised those. This is frankly impossible.
Two, for the fuck-the-WTOers out there of whom I know there are not a few, no major trading nation, not even the EU despite its huffing and puffing, will risk meaningful – which is to say making any significant global impact on greenhouse gas reductions – sanctions without at least the figleaf of a global climate change accord to shelter behind. When do you think that will happen? Remember Copenhagen and Cancun?
Three, in the event that both the above prognostications prove incorrect, and someone – probably the EU as its economy falls apart and it flails around for an excuse – does initiate a full-scale trade war, then Australia, a major beneficiary of the current (relatively) liberal world trading system, will be in deep shit. Which is to say, even less able than it is now to withstand the impact of shooting itself in the foot by climate change do-goodism. Far better, if trade sanctions are in prospect, not to give in to external pressure now because we will eventually be fucked, and from a position of greater disadvantage, anyway.
I must admit that I was absolutely chuffed to find that the hardest marker of all judged me “broadly correct” on transport subsidies for fossil fuel. Until I read further and realised – as experience should have taught me – that in the progressive left lexicon “broadly correct” means “not on my watch you aren’t; you’re wrong”.
If I interpret you correctly (not always easy so forgive me if I’m wrong), your assertion is that, because virtually all current road traffic is fossil fuel powered, all road expenditure, discounted by your 0.5% for electric vehicles, is a fossil fuel subsidy and a penalty on renewable energy. This completely ignores the fact that the reason that current road transport is fossil-fuel powered is because other forms of power for road transport are utterly uncompetitive – even though in the real world fossil fuel transport is not just no more subsidised than other transport; it is heavily penalised through fuel excise in comparison to the potential non-fossil fuel competitors.
What is it that you don’t understand about the difference between a subsidy for road transport generically (the existence of even that is debatable but let it pass) and a subsidy to fossil fuel specifically? Can I expect you to take up cudgels on behalf of the horse-drawn buggy industry, on the grounds that they too have been unfairly dealt to by fossil fuel subsidies? Or witch-doctors, since the health system doesn’t support them in the same way as it does conventional medicine? I repeat, uncompetitiveness is uncompetitiveness: the lack of a subsidy to your ideologically preferred industries is not the same thing as a subsidy to your betes noire.
And then there is “occupation of the middle east to secure the flow of oil is a huge subsidy.” Perhaps you could enlighten me as to which major oil producers in the Middle East are currently occupied. Saudi Arabia? Iran? No doubt you are talking about Iraq, but even that is bullshit, isn’t it?
My point was that Greenpeace alleged that all coal-fired power in Australia is subsidised through a difference between coal supplied to domestic generators and a higher price for coal on the international market, and then admitted that in fact there is no international market in brown coal. This goes to the credibility of the report, regardless of how the price for brown coal to the Victorian generators is set.
I would nonetheless be interested in what you mean by “NSW government bought all of the coal reserves in the state in the 80?s. The selling price has been manipulated ever since. This manipulation is cross calculated to Vic brown coal for competitive position.” I am unaware of any subsidy to Victorian brown coal, and since in effect the privatised generators mine their own coal I can’t see how it could work. No doubt you can point me to a budget line, State or Federal, though, that shows the transfer of a subsidy.
Wozza, even *if* your quibbles reduced the figure to figures to say, half, we’d still talking MIND BOGGLINGLY LARGE subsidies to fossil fuels.
The facts arent going away – this is a supplicant set of industries living on handouts.
What are your quibbles with the FBT figures, the energy grants credits scheme, concessional and excise free schemes, fuel sales grants scheme, subsidised fuel for coal power? There are all real schemes, and HUGE!
I know youd all like to think these are manly, free-spirited industries living on price alone in a competeive market – but they aint! Theyre dole-bludging rent seekers robbing the taxpayer at every turn – and rooting our environment in the process.
Not so. In order to be compliant, one needs to pass the non-discrimination test, which means not treating the imports of any country more harshly than one treats one’s own products. If we had a formula applied here to a product made here, calculating the GHG footprint and we applied it to imports as well, adjusting the tariff for any differential, it would pass. Personally, I’d favour hypothecating at least some of the funds to support those producers of goods in altering their production/supply chain practice to meet the Australian standards within the country of origin of the goods. If you did that you’d have an absolutely robust defence at WTO.
In practice though, it would not be challenged, because fugitive emissions is essentially a furphy. Many of the regimes people imagine sailing under the radar are already doing more than Australia in reducing Co2 intensity.
Of course, a multilateral agreement to have a common system for pricing Co2 emissions (with a common BTA to silence the populists) would be best.
If so, then let us remove the subsidy. Then we have a level playing field.
Plainly not enough, because the toll in lost life years is already very high.
Well Iraq, obviously but effectively, the Saudi Monarchy is guaranteed by US troops. Kuwait as well. The US military machine is configured primarily to fight in and occupy the Middle East. Would it look the same if the main export of the Middle East were broccoli? This affects the configuration of the military of US allies, including Australia. That JSF is of no use at all for fighting off potential local adversaries.
Actually, Lefty E,the scientific method (and after all this fundamentally is to do with the settled science of climate change is it not?) is not about putting an ambit claim out there, and then, if someone “quibbles”, saying “OK, horse trade then, you can have half what you were claiming”. Though you could be excused, if you had been following the methodology of Hansen, Mann et al,for believing that, at least for climate “science”, that is indeed the way it works.
Don’t get me wrong though. Rent seeking is endemic in Australia, and I would be very surprised if the fossil fuel industry were not in some way a participant. I just believe that if specific accusations are made, they need to be backed with evidence.
Wozza, read the report I linked to. Its full of evidence – its a study of the various subsidies to fossil fuel, most of which you are appear unable to dispute.
simply ignoring it is pretty much how climate denial operates.
Citing a detailed study to back your point, as I have done, its considered pretty standard procedure in a social science argument.
If you dont want to read it, fine, but dont then pretend you’re interested in evidence-based debate.
Fran @43: “If we had a formula applied here to a product made here, calculating the GHG footprint and we applied it to imports as well, adjusting the tariff for any differential, it would pass.” Well, yes, in theory, but it is the difference between theory and practice that I was querying.
Believe me, I have had some direct experience in looking at anti-dumping accusations, when exactly that sort of information on pricing of imports based on in-country costs in the exporting country is the issue. It takes literally years to resolve a case, and dumping is almost always about one product, one exporter, one importer. You think that this can be done across the multilateral trading system, all products, all countries, on the basis of a raft of different greenhouse emission reduction regulations and subsidies in regard to which there is no common accounting basis? At least there are common concepts – input prices – in dumping. Absolutely no chance.
“Plainly not enough, because the toll in lost life years is already very high”. If I interpret this correctly, you are suggesting that the road toll is part of the fossil fuel subsidy? This is exactly the same fallacy as attributing road infrastructure costs to fossil fuel. The road toll, as with road construction, is a consequence of the demand for transport. Transport just happens currently to be mostly fossil fuel driven, because there are no competitive alternatives. I think you will find that the end result of being run over by a Prius is the same as being run over by a Corolla, though the likelihood of being run over by a Prius is higher because you don’t hear it coming.
As for the occupation of the Middle East, I think you have conceded, without of course actually doing so in as many words, that there is no such occupation. Thank you. That is all I was getting at, not the US global strategic posture which I have hunch is a little O/T for a Climate Clippings thread.
“Believe me, I have had some direct experience……”
If you did then you do not appear to be applying it here. There are only two products under issue, oil and coal. There is an international price for each against which to compare trading arrangements.
It is that simple.
“I am unaware of any subsidy to Victorian brown coal”
The coal is owned by the people of Australia. The subsidy is in the access arrangement. Considering the recent 25% plus increase in the price of electricity, the people of Australia should be reconsidering that arrangement, as a favoured access appears to be no longer achieving the objective of affordable electricty. US electricity national average 10cents per unit, in which nuclear plays only a minor part (upward pressure rather than down). Australia has no carbon tax or ETS.
Hate to break it to you BilB, but the fact that the coalmining industry is not as you would like nationalised, is not the same thing as its being subsidised. If that’s the best you’ve got – don’t like the “access arrangements” – I think we can take it to have been shown that Victorian brown coal is not subsidised in the usual meaning of the word. Greenpeace in alleging that it is are therefore either ignorant or mendacious.
As for international trade, the point under discussion was whether and how WTO-compliant sanctions against Australian exports on the basis of the nature of its climate change policies could be designed. This is a somewhat more sophisticated concept – indeed, a completely different one – than the international price of oil. I suggest you don’t worry your little head with it any further. Go back to studying the collected works of Karl Marx and muttering to yourself.
Total rubbish Ghostey, nationalisation has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Sanctions on Climate policy?? There can not be any legal basis for such until there is a global binding contract. Clearly you’re the ghost of a red herring.
I’d tend to agree with Wozza that in Australia at least, what government subsidies there are to the fossil fuel industry here aren’t really granting it a significant advantage. I probably wouldn’t say the same about the U.S. though, going by data in reports such as http://www.elistore.org/Data/products/d19_07.pdf which estimated the subsidies were in the order of $70 billion over 5 years.
I think that you can say, Wizofaus, that subsidies are not doing the Austaralian public any good, but for the companies that receive them, they will be going straight to profit.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a convincing case that subsidies of any sort have done any public a great deal of good. I’d much rather see the money go towards better wealth redistribution.
Here is an interesting article
This has absolutely nothing to do with anti-dumping. This would be about compliance with international treaty obligations — in this case Kyoto or its successor.
In that case time is on our side. The knowledge that the terms of this one may be overtaken by events is a good reason to negotiate. All we need to do is to make it easy for the other party to comply, while following the letter of existing rulings on such cases.
Not quite. I see the externalities of fossil fuel combustion as a subsidy from the commons to the users of fossil fuels. The road toll isn’t significantly related to the the power source of vehicles, so even if we had 100% PEVs powered by some non-fossil hydrocarbon-based energy source one suspects that lost life years would be similar, per passenger-mile. However …
1. Road trauma is very significantly related to vehicle miles. If the composition of road traffic changed so that vehicle miles fell (because people were switching to mass public transport such as trains or buses, taking coaches or trains to holiday destinations or living closer to work) then past experience shows that road trauma would sharply decline. The relatively low cost of fuel and the free use of most roads prejudices travellers in favour of using cars to commute and also, because they have a substantial sunk cost in the vehicle, using them on the family holiday etc. When people in the US had better access to public transport, road trauma was far smaller per passenger mile. When Big Oil and Big Auto got together and closed major public transport it certainly helped both those industries but it harmed the public interest. Admittedly, those involved were fined a dollar each on anti-trust grounds …
So this is in effect a market incentive to prejudice safety. Since nearly all vehicles using the road depend almost entirely on fossil fuels, it’s also a subsidy in practice for fossil fuels which harms the public interest (the commons).
2. Of course resort to fossil oil isn’t merely harmful in this sense. The various aerosols emitted from tailpipes are also harmful to human lungs and brain tissue. Here, electric vehicles would significantly reduce the pernicious impact on public health, especially if the back-end source were not hydrocarbon-based. The production of catalytic converters is also not an ecologically benign process, so purely fossil hydrocarbon vehicles, though “cheaper” to operate, do harm the public health. The trade is clear. If they weren’t on the road, then the air would be cleaner, and the population healthier. Public costs in health and in lost productivity would decline.
And then there is of course, the human and other cost of war/occupation for oil price stability …
I concede no such thing. While we westerners are inclined to define occupation as ‘boots in a hostile jurisdiction supporting a government whose legitimacy cannot be reliably determined or may be presumed to be absent’ occupation can also include situations in which a population assumes that the government it endures will be supported by external force if they seek to remove it. In the period prior to 1958 in Cuba, and a number of other Latin American states, support from the US was the sine qua non of survival. Similarly in the Eastern bloc, the USSR demonstrated in the GDR in 1953, Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968 etc that the legitimacy of regimes depended on imprimatur from Moscow. When that lapsed, as it did in the late 80s, regimes toppled.
One may look to the Middle East similarly. It is not for nothing that the US gives about $1.5bn in aid, most of it military, to its “good friend”, Hosni Mubarak. The regime has held power for three decades based on being able to coerce at liberty with US aid. Although Egypt is not an oil exporter, its stability guarantees the Suez Canal and the oil passing through it. Its stability is also a guarantee of enduring influence by the US on places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman etc. One may argue then, that the entire middle east is occupied by the US, whether there happen to be US boots on the ground or not.
That being so, we really ought to add the entire cost of building and sustaining those parts of US military infrastructure needed to protect the flow of petroleum out of the region. On the eve of the US escalation in military action against Iraq in 2003, Murdoch licked his lips at the prospect of crude oil dropping from about $33 to $20 per barrell. The US imports 2/3 of its oil, much of it from the middle east. He knew what the military was for.
Given that the resultant petro-dollars are supporting “the other side” of the “war on terror” we should account all costs and risks arising from this conflict on both sides within the cost to the commons of crude oil. This would be a very large bill, and it is not going to decline any time soon.
* A quick note on US crude oil imports
It’s sometimes assumed that most US crude oil imports come from the Middle East. This is not so. Of the top 15 sources of oil imports in November 2010, only about 8.7% come from countries that could loosely be called “the Middle East”. (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria and Kuwait). By contrast, 44.7% came from Canada and Central/South America (Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil).
Nevertheless, in an interconnected world, 8% is much more than a blip on the radar. The “Arab Oil Embargo” of 1973 which spiked petrol proces and prompted the then Brazilian dictatorship to switch to ethanol involved about a 5% fluctuation in oil supplies to the west. Of the 44.7% above, about a 24% (10.7% overall) comes from Venezuela, which, as folk will know, is not a great friend of the US and might well leverage off any ME disruption.
It’s worth noting that the current troubles in Egypt have sent oil prices higher without Egypt being an oil producer at all.
Nobel Prize in Economics 2011 awarded to Fran Barlow for re-defining “externalities” as subsidies.
You gotta love Fran’s work.
“I disagree with various long accepted concepts in econlomics and politics, therefore I am going to redefine them”.
At least she is a bit more nuanced than the PM – “There will be no Carbon Tax . . . just fooling ya!!”
Perversely, I’m rather glad you’re not on the committee, despite the apparent conflict of interest.
I note that you offer no reason for not treating externalities imposed upon the commons as subsidies from the commons to those creating said externalities.
If, for example, the state allows a private body — let’s call it the Really Good Widget Factory Shop — to avoid paying rates, taxes and charges that would normally attach to the grounds and premises of other businesses in the same place, and allows it to escape the sweep of noise abatement and nuisance in developing and operating its premises, thus increasing its impositions on the public but lowering its costs, would this not be the same as if it subjected the RGWFS to all of the usual impositions, monetised their value and then paid them the sum quarterly?
Certainly, this latter course would be seen by the most orthodox of economists as a subsidy, but in reality it would be no different from relief from RGWFS’s obligations to the taxpayer or the people within its footprint.
When the lexicon collides with a matter of substance, it must yield.
Ah … a twitter troll allusion!
FTR, Ms Gillard has not committed to a carbon tax but a carbon price. She is negotiating so she cannot, in good faith, rule it out, but she has never suggested that she didn’t support what she called “a market mechanism” (i.e an ETS). A cap and trade scheme is quite different from a tax. It is really an auction-based quota system. That’s why the lexical distinction is salient here.
A friend and i were discussing the carbon footprint of the NBN.
Theres so many inputs
The building of it verses its possible savings long term
The “NBN v What we got already” over maybe 20 years.
Being a very large project, has a study been done.
The greens seem very supportive
*(not for or agin NBN)
Not having a CO2 price would be the most dunderheaded move any western govt could make in the mid to long term. Of course Gillard is contemplating it. dont you want to compete economically in the future? Oil is running out.
Meanwhile, UK to impacted more severely by climate change than anywhere else in Europe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12327530
I heard Gillard talking about a price on carbon today as part of her reform agenda for 2011, being as significant to the Australian economy as what Hawke and Keating did.
Can’t find a link.
Looks as though China could beat everyone to the punch with their effort to find a cleaner nuclear energy source.
While everyone debates a carbon tax the real solution to carbon dioxide emmissions is probably nuclear; and thorium salt reactors may be the best chance we have to maintain some semblance of energy independence and living standards, while reducing carbon emmissions. Unfortunatley our governments are just not looking to the future (only the next election date)
I will leave Brian to do an aricle on the potential of thorium based reactors as a potential solution to the single problem of carbon dioxide production. This might divert his attention away from collecting articles that only highlight the impending doom for us all around the corner.
That just leaves all the other human induced impacts on climate still to solve!!
John M, Robert M is an engineer. I’ll leave the potential of thorium based reactors to him, or not, as he sees fit. Or you could take a look at BraveNewClimate which is largely devoted to nuclear solutions to the energy problem.
In terms of what I focus on, someone has to say it. I can’t remember the last time I was called an alarmist by other than AGW sceptics.
CRAIGY @ 58, I understand wireless, favoured by HM’s Opposition, is much more greenhouse productive than fibre. Much more.
With wireless you push out a signal 360 degrees and a thin slither is received by the consumer. With fibre you push a signal at the speed of light down a tube.
Sounds inherently more efficient, and I believe it is.
I hear engineers saying that fibre consumes far less energy.
Fran @ 57 – price/tax – the intention is to take money off us and give it to the more deserving. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. . .
Fran, Razor has dealt effectively with your last tirade, and I see no need to elaborate. You haven’t a clue on things economic, and you should avoid them.
Just on basic debate process, though, your continual changing of ground – no, let’s be honest, continual redefinition of black as white – just makes you look silly and renders discussion impossible.
I did not, for example, raise dumping just to change the subject as you imply; I raised it because, as I said at the time, it is a valid comparison to illustrate the difficulties of proving legitimacy of climate policy-based trade sanctions, as it involves “exactly the sort of information on pricing of imports based on in-country costs in the exporting country” that would be required to defend tariffs placed on imports from Australia for reasons of alleged inadequate domestic carbon pricing, That is, to show compliance with WTO Treaty obligations, not your effortless and unilateral change of the international legislative basis for tariffs to the Kyoto Protocol.
As for the redefinition of “occupation”, because, at least for the present since on any normal definition your argument falls on its face, you wish to avoid what “we westerners are inclined to define as occupation”, well, very nuanced, congratulations, but your motivation as I have already said is obvious.
I am undecided as to whether you do this merely because you are out of your depth but feel the need for face-saving purposes to continue to defend to the death your initial proposition however much it has been shown by others to be flawed, or because you are consciously arguing dishonestly. Either way you simply make any reasoned discussion with you impossible. And I don’t believe I am the only commenter on this blog who thinks this .
I am sure you will have the last word. You always do. Bear in mind – definitional issues being your forte – that “last” and “correct” are different.
Razor has dealt effectively with your last tirade,
He swung in the hope of clearing the boundary over deep midwicket but bottom edged into the pitch and looked down to find the ball sitting innocuously between his legs on the pitch.
On your showing above, you’re in no position to comment.
You raised it to muddy the waters, because the application of GATT/WTO would be groundbreaking.
Noted … you don’t challenge my examples though …
Where can one find the “occupied territories” in the Middle East? Why are they called that? Is the Gaza Strip included in these? On what basis?
What you believe has so far been shown to be, let’s be polite, unreliable. Doubtless, some of the rightwing fan folk will agree, but that’s tribalism for you.
What you won’t do is engage with any of the substantive points. You won’t argue that subsidies from the commons are impossible or specify the conditions for them and you won’t explain why having a military system set up to ensure oil price and volume stability is not a subsidy. It’s this attitude of yours to debate that makes it challenging.
It is indeed so that last and correct are not the same, but last and Wozza/Razor are even less interchangeable, which is why I responded.
oops mods … please close blockquote after “sanctions” above.
Thanks in advance …
[Done – Brian]
According to Fran Australia must be occupying NZ.
and the US occupying both of us.
Hardly. Australia has never asserted soverignty over NZ nor suggested that it was an area of vital national security interest. It lacks the means to occupy NZ and there has never been a period in which an Australian government has even expressed serious concern that an action by NZ might put at issue any vital national interest. It’s unlikely that anyone in NZ believes that the opinion of the Australian government over the regime in NZ would be pertinent to Australia’s defence posture, nor, to the best of my recollection has anyone with any authority ever speculated on whether a move by the Australian armed forces against those of NZ might be warranted.
Much the same could be said in relation to the US and Australia. I seriously doubt that anyone here supposes that the viability of Australia’s government depends in any sense on the approval of the US, or that any government likely to be chosen here might be overturned by US military action. There was, in 1975 and shortly after, fairly wide speculation that the CIA had had a hand in the events leading up to the ouster of Whitlam by Kerr. Such speculation has never, to the best of my knowledge, been corroborated by any reliable source, but even if this turned out to be true, it wouldn’t of itself constitute occupation. While the timing of the election unfairly prejudiced Whitlam’s chances, a whole series of perverse circumstance, all of them local in their etiology (the actions of Tom lewis and Joh B-P and Whitlam himself in sending Murphy off to the High Court) were necessary preconditions to Kerr’s act, and the subsequent elections were no less fair in their conduct than any other than had been held up to then or have been held since. I doubt that anyone thought electing Fraser was doing the then US President Ford or the US a favour. The dominant issues were local and while there was common talk amongst the more outraged lefties (I was amongst these at the time) I don’t think anyone supposed that the US was willing to invade if Whitlam were returned.
Damn! Can’t get these blockquotes right today! Mods: please close after both of us.
thanks again …
Combet correctly declares any argument that we’d be going in front of the world on a CO2 price to be “absolute rubbish”, rightly notes it an issue of economic competitiveness, and notes the US *WILL* have a scheme:
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