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Scientists Say Net Zero by 2050 Is Too Late

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/19/scientists-say-net-zero-2050-too-late

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It utterly boggles the mind how thoroughly, completely, insurmountably, impossibly, fucked we are.

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The nonlinearities that are going to happen will stagger the minds of those who will exist in the future dystopia. Many will ponder: “did they not know what was coming?” Well, Big Oil and Big Auto did, but they pulled the Big Obfuscation over the rest of the People and burned the biosphere down. Their progeny now suffer like everyone else. Capitalism is a very short-sighted system, don’t you know…

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One can hope. They will try to make their progeny rule over the last remaining humans if they can.

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Now that Biden’s list for appointees has made mine and others predictions look very likely, it’s clear he was gaslighting the people about being serious on fighting climate change. This leads me to the conclusion, our only hope is destroying capitalism itself, I see no other way out of this.

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It appears Pip Hinman has reached the same conclusion. Of course, on the way to that conclusion, she rejected carbon capture and fission nuclear energy, so it looks like rejecting capitalism was her real goal all along, and saving the planet from carbon catastrophe was mere pretext for why the world must also reject capitalism. So not only is she rejecting, and even opposing, options which have real potential to help, she is pushing for an option that is almost certainly not going to happen (and which, even if it did happen, could still wind up being as big an eco-disaster as certain other notorious anti-capitalist experiments) while also conveying the impression she doesn’t really believe this is an actual all-hands-on-deck emergency.

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That was always supposed to be the solution, everything else is just a distraction.

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I read the article and I don’t see any mention of capitalism. I only see a summary of the view of some scientists and the implication it should have on Australian policy on coal and gas. I can infer that Pip Hinman is against a nuclear power solution because that is the platform of the Australian Green party, but it isn’t discussed here.

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Yesterday the atmospheric CO2 level measured 412.14 ppm.

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Pretty soon we’ll be in ppt (parts per thousand) territory. Of course we won’t be around to measure it I imagine. According to Wikipedia, it was about 3 ppt a few hundred million years ago (~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth).

(At our current rate of increase according to the last plot at ~https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide) it’s about 20 ppm / decade so we’d be topping 1000 ppm in about 300 years - obviously I don’t really expect things to stay linear that long)

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This initial period of grappling with climate change may be coming to an end, at least I hope so.

We have relied on ‘consensus science’, instead of the ‘best science’, for political reasons.

BUT - just as this approach may have been necessary, or inevitable, to actually prevent the destruction of global civilization we need now ‘best science’ and risk assessment, followed by a plan that will work.

On the bright side, those wealthy asshats who go to their secure bunkers will suffer longest. They will have to be quarantined with their peers. Imagine the wonderful humanity they shall exhibit as some of them figure things out underground, but far too late. In the end, you can’t eat money. Thanx for an article that begins to hint at the catastrophic cascade effect(s) about to happen around the globe. The “tipping points” are far more fragile than most people imagine. In fact, when all of the closed loop natural events start showing the true power of Gaia, all of this will magically go away rather quickly. How can we tell people 10,000 of years from now to avoid our mistakes. that is the real battle!

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Trog, you are wrong on all points. Nuclear power is not an answer to climate change–it takes too long to build plants, requires all kinds of mining that emits GHG, is the most expensive option, and is not compatible with intermittent low carbon sources like solar and wind. That’s without even getting into the safety risks, which are multiple. CCS is an incantation, not a technology. It is hauled out to make objections to the burning of fossil fuels go away. Since it reduces the efficiency such that you need to burn 30% more coal for the same amount of power, and would require an entire new enormous infrastructure of pipelines from the plants to the places where it is hoped the CO2 will stay forever, and since fossil fuels are finite and getting ever more expensive to extract, it simply makes no sense. Which is why there are occasional pilot projects which then fold as it is too expensive…the exception being plants that capture CO2 for “enhanced oil recovery” to push more oil out of depleted wells–THAT ought to help with the climate! The fact that someone rejects YOUR favorite options does not mean she is not serious about climate change, in fact it means the opposite, she recognizes there is no time left for false solutions, we need to get very serious about transitions immediately.

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The “art of the possible” will lead to the certainty of a planet on which life will be all but impossible

Not here, but Ms Hinman has been quite unambiguous about her views on the capitalism issue and its relevance to the impending ecological crisis.

~https://marxistleftreview.org/articles/revolutionary-unity-to-meet-the-capitalist-crisis/
~https://socialist-alliance.org/news/case-ecosocialism

“I can infer that Pip Hinman is against a nuclear power solution because that is the platform of the Australian Green party,”

It can also be inferred from some of her other articles. She has used suggestive phrases like, “we need a turn to sustainable energy and nuclear is not an option.” And “Individuals associated with the push for small modular reactors in Australia are closely associated with coal generation” And “councils can play an important role in rebuilding anti-nuclear awareness.”

She has also been consistent in pushing for 100% renewables–which by her definition excludes nuclear power and carbon capture.
Here she is with this prescription 10 years ago, advocating for complete conversion by 2020.

~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubYPxAfiMKc&app=desktop

“but it isn’t discussed here.”

Correct, but does that matter? Do you feel that fairness dictates that we should not consider a person’s longstanding track record when evaluating their position on an issue? I do realize that people can change their minds, but I did a quick scan before my first post and found she was still anti-nuke as recently as Sept, and I didn’t find any indication of a change of position, so I thought that was sufficient due diligence and that my assessment was not unfair. But if you disagree, I’d be happy to hear the arguments.

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Judge Alsup ruled in the 9th district court that the cause of global warming is 1.deforestation 2.wildfires 3. volcanoes what is all the BS about fossil fuel? 27 million square miles of forest have been clear cut in the last 300 years and we need to plant 15 million square miles of trees 300 per acre to get the co2 level down to 280 ppm in eight years. the ruling was on June25th, 2018 and it was never reported because it is true.

I’m going with 2024 as the Great Singularity year, where we will experience feedback loops so enormous even the Elite will realize how fucked all beings are in this current rendition of life.
Twenty years ago, Kalle Lasn, a naturalized citizen of the US, finally was pissed off enough by all the greed and insanity around him at the expense of nature he founded a movement-Adbusters-and wrote a book called Culture Jam. He discussed “uncooling”, a way to beat the Mad Men, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Greed, at their own game by airing PSA’s showing how much better our lives would be without being psy-oped into buying more stuff. Alas, the 2000 election banjaxxed that movement, along with the Internet.
The Gospel of Consumption was founded by a dude named Walter Henderson Grimes, an industrialist(of course!) in the mid-1920’s. He wailed that it was perfectly clear the middle-class American citizen already buys more than he needs and soon would wake up to the fact he was perfectly happy with what he had. (cf Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt). Mr. Grimes joined up with Madison Avenue and other Big Industries to ratchet up the ante. At that time, radio was just coming into its own as an ad medium; all they had was print. Then came the Great Depression and WW2.
But then…if we had stopped consuming mindlessly in the mid-20’s, we would be much better off now. More natural areas, more mass transit(still had the inter urbans and street cars then), and probably no more species gone extinct. We would have learned to rest and enjoy life.
Now…we’ve screwed the pooch, jumped the shark. Even if we stopped making cars and their monster offspring, stopped buying shit we don’t need for another manic Christmas, even if we stopped all building on natural land, we’re still in a feedback loop to extinction.
The saddest part is, the worst part is…we never enjoyed our lives. We never had a chance to rest and look around at what’s left of Nature. So if you hear me laugh at anyone saying, “Oh, we have 30 years before we have to stop buying monster pickup trucks and SUV’s. We have 30 years to keep mindlessly consuming.” I’ll reply “You have 30 months, and that’s if we’re lucky”.

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Or rather, you disagree with my position.

“Nuclear power is not an answer to climate change–”

I don’t see any form of nuclear power providing a complete answer. At best, it will be a part of the mix of solutions. And I would agree that some forms of nuclear power are very unlikely to be a significant part of that mix. That doesn’t mean there are no forms of nuclear power which have good potential.

“it takes too long to build plants,”

There are some kinds in development which look like they have good potential for rapid deployment.

“requires all kinds of mining that emits GHG,”

That’s going to be true for all of our low-emissions options.

“is the most expensive option,”

This also looks like an area where large improvements should be possible.

“and is not compatible with intermittent low carbon sources like solar and wind.”

There are multiple higher-temperature reactors in development which would be hot enough to work with molten-salt thermal storage of the type that is used for solar-thermal. That would not only make nuclear compatible with solar PV and wind, it would let it support solar PV and wind as flexible backup.

“That’s without even getting into the safety risks, which are multiple.”

None of our options are risk free. But nuclear risks vary greatly with kind, and it looks like nearly every major risk of old-tech nuclear can be almost or completely eliminated with better kinds.

“CCS is an incantation, not a technology.”

When an incantation is delivering megawatts of power, that sure starts to look a lot like a technology.

“it reduces the efficiency such that you need to burn 30% more coal for the same amount of power, and would require an entire new enormous infrastructure of pipelines from the plants to the places where it is hoped the CO2 will stay forever,”

The Allam-cycle plant operating in Texas has net efficiency that already exceeds open-cycle gas plants, and approaches the best efficiencies of combined-cycle plants. And we already do a lot of CO2 injection into the ground without a pipeline infrastructure for it.

“and since fossil fuels are finite and getting ever more expensive to extract, it simply makes no sense.”

We easily have enough natural gas to last through the remainder of this century, and extraction costs still remain well below common historic costs. Yes, CCS is an option that will only last several decades with fossil fuels, but that’s not a good reason for not using it now, while the need is greatest.

“Which is why there are occasional pilot projects which then fold as it is too expensive…”

The NET power plant in Texas met or exceeded cost and performance expectations, and they are already working on the next phase, which is building several large plants in various countries over the next 3 years.

“the exception being plants that capture CO2 for “enhanced oil recovery” to push more oil out of depleted wells–THAT ought to help with the climate!”

Do you know where the CO2 for enhanced recovery comes from right now? We mine it. We pull it up from pockets of nearly pure CO2 in the ground, then we pressurize it, condition it, truck it, and inject it back down into the ground. If we were to replace mined CO2 with captured CO2, that would result in a net decrease in CO2 emissions by the amount of CO2 that we were no longer pulling out of the ground. And if some of the methane that went into a plant with carbon capture came from plant sources, some of that CO2 being sequestered would have been pulled out of the air, so you could actually have a net-negative CO2 footprint.

“The fact that someone rejects YOUR favorite options does not mean she is not serious about climate change,”

This isn’t about favorite options. It’s about viable options. And I was talking about optics. Throwing away viable options doesn’t look like she’s being serious. It looks like she is explicitly saying we do NOT need all hands on deck for this emergency.

“in fact it means the opposite, she recognizes there is no time left for false solutions,”

Her preferred approach is to build a mass revolutionary movement to overthrow capitalism. How is that any less a false solution? And the issue of time is irrelevant for all options which can be pursued simultaneously.

“we need to get very serious about transitions immediately.”

Serious not only means doing what you can with the options that are available right now, it also means trying to develop all of our best options for the future.

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Big Oil and Big Auto would have already gone out of business if people hadn’t kept buying their products. Their customers are the ones who are burning down the biosphere

Can you walk/bike/take-public-transportation to each of your work, grocery, family, doctor, bank, friends, vet, vacation, etc.? I can’t.

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