Cumulative Costs from Global Warming

While it’s impossible to precisely calculate the costs from global warming, they range from macro threats such as massive shore erosion and mass dislocations of people to micro ones like lost sleep, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

Resistance to arresting human-caused warming of Earth is politically entrenched in personnel and policies of the Trump administration. This makes the United States a conspicuous delinquent among advanced industrialized countries, as highlighted at the recent G-7 summit meeting, and among the community of nations generally, as highlighted by Trump’s refusal to commit to adherence to the Paris climate change agreement and by the United States surrendering leadership to the likes of China and even India.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, Sunday, May 21, 2017, to participate in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The reasons for such resistance are multiple, and even uncovering all of them would not stop perverse refusal to help save the planet. Reflecting on what appear to be the main reasons, however, may help point to strategies for overcoming the resistance.

Probably the principal belief — a mistaken belief — that accounts for the absence of what ought to be a groundswell of condemnation of the administration’s climate policies by earthlings who live in the United States is the notion that there is a zero-sum trade-off between economic well-being and action to curb global warming. Even if the notion were true, there still would be ample grounds to condemn the selfishness and short-sightedness involved in much of the resistance to action.

And even though the notion is false, politicians will exploit the notion, as Trump does in trying to reduce the issue to a question of coal-mining jobs in Appalachia. He does so even though the jobs in question were lost to technological change and will not be coming back, even though those jobs always will be a relatively small part of employment in the parts of Appalachia Trump is politically targeting, and even though economic growth in the United States would be helped much less by clinging to retrograde burning of fossil fuel than by being in the forefront of developing and implementing advanced forms of renewable energy generation.

False Choice

Notwithstanding such political exploitation of misbelief, it would be wise to highlight the falsity of the notion that mankind faces a choice between economic well-being and preventing a further rise of a few degrees in global temperatures. The prospects for economic well-being worsen with that temperature rise. This is a matter not only of the economics of energy generation but of far broader and greater consequences.

Fierce storms like this “derecho” are expected to become more common due to global warming.

The positive consequences (longer growing seasons at the higher latitudes, new opportunities for maritime transportation in the Arctic) are vastly outweighed by the negative ones, which are centered on, but not limited to, the impact on agriculture of drought and desertification, huge displacements caused by rising sea levels, and damage from increased extreme weather.

The enormity of the consequences, and the multiplicity of ways in which they will be felt, make it difficult for even the most diligent analysis to come up with an accurate translation of those consequences into dollar costs. Don’t expect something like a Congressional Budget Office scoresheet. But to use this difficulty as a reason not to embrace understanding of the consequences would be no more justified than is the posture of Scott Pruitt, the eviscerator (a.k.a. the administrator) of the Environmental Protection Agency, that the reality of climate change should not be accepted because it cannot be calculated with “precision.” The very enormity of the likely consequences is all the more reason to focus on them.

It behooves us to consider and to highlight all the likely consequences having economic impact (which is not to suggest that consequences that are at least as political and societal as economic, such as ones stemming from mass migration from increasingly uninhabitable areas, aren’t just as important), to chip away at the main misbelief about the economic trade-offs.

Sleep Deprivation

Here’s a recent bit of research to add to the mix. It’s a study of how climate change is increasing sleep deprivation in the United States. Using large-scale data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about self-reported sleep habits, and correlating the data with weather records, the researchers calculated that every increase in nighttime temperature of one degree Celsius leads to an additional three nights of restless sleep per 100 people per month.

For the entire United States, this means a one degree increase causes an additional 110 million nights of insufficient sleep each year. If current climate trends continue, there would be an additional six nights of insufficient sleep per 100 people per month by 2050, and 14 more such nights by 2099.

The impact on productivity and thus on the economy of the United States, from having so many more groggy and sleep-deprived people going to work the next day, cannot be calculated with precision but surely is substantial.

This is just one more reason, among many, not to let economic concerns be an excuse for inaction about climate change. And we shouldn’t have to sleep on that.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

38 comments for “Cumulative Costs from Global Warming

  1. Sleepless In Mars
    June 3, 2017 at 06:07

    Trust Data

    Data: I feel obliged to point out that the environmental anomalies may have stimulated certain rebellious instincts common to youth, which could affect everyone’s judgement… Except mine, of course.
    Beverly Crusher: Okay, Data, what do you think we should do?
    Data: Saddle up. Lock and load!

    The battle for paradise has begun! They’re trying to do paradise without Paris.

    I have a Money idea!

    Got a surprise especially for you,
    Something that both of us have always wanted to do
    We’ve waited so long, waited so long
    We’ve waited so long, waited so long

    I’m gonna take you on a trip so far from here,
    I’ve got two tickets in my pocket, now baby, we’re gonna disappear

  2. Douglas Schorr
    June 1, 2017 at 20:04

    Unreadable – I’m left to puzzle through shocking English to decide what is being said. An important issue hidden in a rambling collection of individual words, all the way to the 3-sentence bio at the end.

    As important an issue is the assault by Trump and the Saudis on the world-wide movement from believing in belief to appreciating science and there is a photo shot whetting my appetite. And … in the article, nothing … Nixs.

    What is causing the world to lose sleep is not DT and his administration but DT and his administration and all of the USA operating under the goal of maximum profit no matter the cost to humanity or the environment. Go home and leave us alone long enough to fix the mess you’ve made.

  3. susan sunflower
    June 1, 2017 at 16:06

    Within the first dozen comments in response to Trump’s announcement was a call to boycott American products … don’t need a movement or their government’s assent … let the damage of righteousness flow down like rain …

  4. mike k
    June 1, 2017 at 13:33

    When will enough people stop seeing bad things – capitalism, nuclear power, population increase – as good; and good things like less power, socialism, and population control as bad things? We need to do a one-eighty on so many basic issues; that’s what makes our situation so dangerous – we don’t have much time left to make really deep changes in how we see the world and how we act in it.

  5. SteveK9
    June 1, 2017 at 07:28

    The solution to global warming is nuclear power. When humanity reaches that conclusion we can start to make progress. In the US nuclear is blocked by two irrational anti-Science groups … Climate-change Deniers, and Anti-Nukes. So, there is no hope here. The real issue is China and India. If they make progress on nuclear it will be critical not only for themselves, but they can carry the rest of the World with them (especially China).

    • mike k
      June 1, 2017 at 10:09

      Nuclear power was, is, and will be a scam perpetrated by fat cats at taxpayer expense. It is not economically viable without massive government support and insurance underwriting that is totally inadequate in case of meltdowns. The only thing it is good for is speeding us on our way to human extinction. The massive accumulation of dangerous nuclear spent fuel alone is a problem that we will probably never solve. Kick it down the road and let the taxpayers worry about it is the nuclear industry’s attitude about it.

      • backwardsevolution
        June 1, 2017 at 11:42

        mike k – totally agree with your points. All we need look at is Fukushima. An absolute disaster that’s being hidden from the public in order to keep their precious “growth” rolling along.

  6. gepay
    June 1, 2017 at 01:32

    None of these dire catastrophes come from anything except computer climate models. As Yogi Berra said, Prediction is hard because its about the future. These models variable parameters are fiddled with until they can predict the past . Then used to predict the future. These models are no where close to the complex and chaotic (in the mathematical sense) climate of Earth. Computer models can’t be used to predict the human economy. Can you say 2008? Water vapor is the main greenhouse gas by orders of magnitude. At this time clouds and evaporation of water on Earth can’t be correctly modeled. Well it can if its\’s a cloudless day or a clear night. but but….. CO2 needs to double to get 1 degree C of elevated temperature. It hasn’t doubled yet from 1880. Being a logarithmic function, it will take another doubling after that to raise the temperature of the Earth another degree C These catastrophes need positive feedback functions to happen. This science hasn’t been settled. Nobody agrees. Yet most everybody thinks these catastrophes are certain except for idiot Republicans and a few thousand contrarian scientists like Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Judy Curry who by questioning mainstream climate science went from being asked into the IPCC while being chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology to another professor to a heretic on the cover of Scientific American to someone working in the private sector. or world-renowned physicist Freeman Dyson who says things like, “the computer models are very good at solving the equations of fluid dynamics but very bad at describing the real world. The real world is full of things like clouds and vegetation and soil and dust which the models describe very poorly.”

    • mike k
      June 1, 2017 at 09:59

      “The science hasn’t been settled.’ Yes it has. Science is a consensual exercise among the competent and informed. These experts overwhelmingly agree that there is no controversy on this climate change matter except what is generated by the Koch bros. and their ilk. Case closed from science’s point of view. The rest is partisan baloney and hearsay bullshit.

    • mike k
      June 1, 2017 at 10:22

      Gepay you are either a paid anthropogenic climate change denier, or for some reason you have absorbed their standard hollow, polemical arguments. You folks want intelligent people to waste their time with your trivial arguments that have been disproved time and again by competent scientific experts. Your sole aim is to muddy the waters and create doubt among the poorly informed public. Enough.

  7. mike k
    May 31, 2017 at 22:16

    My response re; population should have gone with backwardev’s comment further back.

  8. backwardsevolution
    May 31, 2017 at 20:24

    Things must be produced locally, and they must be built to last, not break down, as in planned obsolescence. How ridiculous is that? Good Craftsman tools and parts should be brought back.

    Produce should be bought from local suppliers – only. We’re not going to die just because we didn’t have 20 pineapples over the winter months.

    Is it getting hotter? Yes, except for the last winter where I live. OMG, it was long and cold! The Earth has had mini-ice ages before (a few centuries ago), and this was most likely caused by volcanoes producing so much ash that it knocked out the sun. One such volcano caused cattle and other animals to die in Europe, drop to the ground for lack of food, rot, and then the rats took over. Before long the plague settled in.

    It might be that the Earth naturally warms up, cools down, goes through cycles. Maybe volcanoes are the Earth’s thermostat. Who knows. But the thing is that nobody really knows. I can’t help but think that man must be causing this to happen, but it might turn out that the Earth goes through changes all on its own. No one knows for sure.

    • mike k
      May 31, 2017 at 22:14

      This is the first mention of the population problem I can remember on this blog. I spent a couple of years on an email blog with about thirty population scientists, and even there the most absurd ideas and controversies existed around a matter that is at root terribly simple, and one that will play a large part in our extinction. I don’t even mention it here, because I know how far from understanding it most folks are. And I don’t want to muddy the waters more than climate change and other issues already have. But if there is one enormous elephant in our living rooms it is the population monster. There, I have said it – and now I am backpedaling away from the probable barrage of heated and really uninformed responses that I endured while I tried to make simple sense of this absolutely crucial issue for a couple of mostly wasted years……..

      • backwardsevolution
        May 31, 2017 at 23:04

        mike k – well, you won’t get any argument from me on the population problem. It is THE issue (aside from nuclear war). I’ve mentioned it here several times, with no response. Frightening, especially with resource depletion or ruination. Most people hide their head in the sand. They either don’t want to see or can’t visualize what the future is going to look like. I worry for my children.

        • Skip Scott
          June 1, 2017 at 06:49

          I remember back in the ’70’s overpopulation was part of the discussion. Then the capitalists realized that the current model of “free market” capitalism requires continuous growth. Suddenly overpopulation was dropped from the conversation in the MSM.

          • backwardsevolution
            June 1, 2017 at 11:09

            Skip Scott – yes, the papers on overpopulation got buried in the bottom of the filing cabinet, never to see the light of day again. All these guys think about is: got to get mine now, screw the future.

      • Barry
        June 1, 2017 at 08:32

        Overpopulation is the fundamental driver for all pollution problems, including greenhouse gases and global warming. It is also the simplest problem to solve, in theory.

        One child per family for 2 generations (50 years) would reduce population by a factor of 4, reducing pollution, of all varieties, by a similar factor.

        Is it not better to have 100,000 generations of 1 billion humans, than to have 2 generations of 10 billion? Population will be reduced one way or another. Sadly our so-called ‘intelligent’ species, seems to prefer extinction.

        • backwardsevolution
          June 1, 2017 at 11:33

          Barry – good comments. I agree wholeheartedly.

          “One child per family for 2 generations (50 years) would reduce population by a factor of 4, reducing pollution, of all varieties, by a similar factor.”

          I wish people like you were the leaders of the world. They talk about pollution, but never about overpopulation, as if you can fix one problem without fixing the other. When they say things like, “We’ve got to help the Third World,” they’re really only seeing dollar signs as all these people represent are future consumers.

          Thank you, Barry.

        • Evangelista
          June 1, 2017 at 20:09

          Barry, and backwardsevolution,

          Full-scale atomic-warfare conflagaration is a quicker, more pragmatically practical and less pipe-dream sysem for Earth-wide population control.

          “One child per family” is only effective where it can be, and is, authoritario-tyrannically enforced, with police-enforcers actively drowning over-count infants, or splitting the heads of snuck-by children.

          Voluntary, natural, population reduction is product of social security, as has been demonstrated in the United States, Europe and the old Soviet Socialist Empire. In all of those the State providing familial security, care for the aging, the incompetent and the noncompetitive reduced family dependencies on children to undertake these responsibilities and numbers of offspring reduced to below ‘population sustenance’ reproduction levels. The net result, however, was ‘room’ for over-production from other cultures without social securities to move in, and, consequently, only a shift in population types and cultures from native to immigrant, with no reduction.

          War, as statistical evidences proof through numerous example cycles, increases offspring production, in all cultures. Thus, the instigation and encouragement of perpetual war system that Israel, for example, has and is instigating, and is attempting to encourage and continue in the Middle-East areas it defines “Eratz” and wants to ‘clear’, is failing. In equatorial and southern Africa, where unrest is constant, this is also demonstrated. Haiti has, for all the decades of its existence demonstrated that the poverty and ignorance combination does not decrease population, especially where there is ‘assistance’, medical and nutrition, to prevent the natural population controls in over population events, and emigration to shift fiscal resource from adjacent better-resourced and social-security population controlled cultures.

          Thus, with nothing else practical, practicable, or workable, and with, as we see in the U.S. and Europe today, the social-security systems breaking down, with the money-accumulating not wanting to maintain the cultural social security, or wanting to ‘monetize’ it, to make ‘investment’ in providing social security pay ‘interest’ and ‘dividend’, causing breakdown of social security systems, leaving those who believed and ‘bought-in’ with no security and no family to fall back on suffering and starving, production of offspring, who will be needed to provide security in families, next-generation populations are increasing.

          World-wide disaster, of natural or anthropogenic origin, is, as you should be able to recognize here, the only option for the planet. With Man intent on technological alteration to “alleviate” disaster consequence, control of the human population imbalance will have to overcome, or overpower, human ability to compensate and continue increase of the imbalance condition.

          What is designated “Global Warming” will ultimately do the trick, and with assistance from what is designated “Going Green” will accomplish it quicker, “Going Green” inducing more rapid destruction of atmospheric cleansing “Green” species. A more rapid controlling of the human overpopulation imbalance situation may be effected by “Geological Imbalance”, in which alteration of weight distributions, e.g., of ‘stacked water’ ice accumulations, induces planetary tilting and re-alignment-re-balancing, through geological dynamics, earthquake, real tsunami and rapid climactic shiftings (like what killed off mastadons).

          Quicker, and easier, and a more responsible course for Man, He being, for his tireless warfare against the planet’s natural population balancing mechanisms, e.g., inclemencies, predators, diseases etc., responsible for his own species’ imbalancing of the planet, will be for Man to utilize His technical expertise to reduce himself. That is, engage the “Human Lemming Option”, to throw Himself off the nuclear cliff, to engage in a wide-spread nuclear conflagaration “Termination Event”.

          I suggest we encourage this. Point out to those who would be Gods that they will never be Real Gods until they have shown themselves able to humanly trigger an “Extinction Event” on the order and magnitude the geological record proofs previous Gods having been capable of.

    • mike k
      May 31, 2017 at 22:25

      “No one knows for sure….” Yes they do. The overwhelming number of climate scientists are as sure as science gets that humans are responsible for the present unprecedented global warming, through their fossil fuel, agricultural, forest clearing, and other activities. The industrialists have literally spent millions with the same PR firm that told us smoking tobacco did not cause cancer. Look it up – this is a fact. And their PR pitch was proved successful in swinging public opinion to think this was not a proven fact about anthropogenic climate change. The Koch bros. spent millions on this.

      • backwardsevolution
        May 31, 2017 at 23:29

        mike k – I believe you. I said the other day that 90% of me believes that man is causing global warming, but I’m leaving 10% open and only because the Earth has gone through cycles before all on its own, long before man and oil became a team.

        Of course it makes sense that the capitalists would lie and try to convince people that “it’s all good”. They don’t want the fun and games to end, so they get everybody to think they’re doing something green by selling carbon credits, as if that’s going to make a difference, especially when millions more people every month are climbing aboard the Consumerland train.

  9. Zachary Smith
    May 31, 2017 at 19:24

    Every now and then I check my assorted mil-blog sites, and was surprised to see two Climate articles at the War Is Boring place.

    “Time Is Running Out to Avert Climate Wars”

    A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees another result as well, though one far less discussed. It will, in the long run, bring on not just climate shocks, but also worldwide instability, insurrection and warfare. In this sense, COP-21 should be considered not just a climate summit but a peace conference — perhaps the most significant peace convocation in history.

    To grasp why, consider the latest scientific findings on the likely impacts of global warming, especially the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). When first published, that report attracted worldwide media coverage for predicting that unchecked climate change will result in severe droughts, intense storms, oppressive heat waves, recurring crop failures and coastal flooding, all leading to widespread death and deprivation.

    Recent events, including a punishing drought in California and crippling heat waves in Europe and Asia, have focused more attention on just such impacts. The IPCC report, however, suggested that global warming would have devastating impacts of a social and political nature as well, including economic decline, state collapse, civil strife, mass migrations and sooner or later resource wars.

    We’re seeing only the smallest of beginnings of this stuff, especially the “mass migrations”.

    “The Pentagon Is Still Worried About Climate Change”

    “From economic trends to climate change and vulnerability to cyber attack, we outline those trends that remind us we must stay alert to what is changing in the world if we intend to create a military as relevant and capable as we possess today,” Mattis wrote in his foreword to the 2010 Joint Operating Environment.

    The same year, the Pentagon officially listed climate change as a potential “threat multiplier.”

    “The climate doesn’t care if you acknowledge it or not,” Andrew Holland of the American Security Project told War Is Boring. “A warmer climate means more powerful extreme weather, it’s unclear if it means more extreme weather, but certainly when the atmosphere is warmer you can expect a greater punch.”

    “So you can expect more powerful rain events and hurricanes and cyclones … and, ironically, more powerful droughts.”

    Finally, there was a recent series of stories at Google News about a science paper describing how Greenland’s ice is getting “squishier”. From one of them:

    On its surface, the Greenland ice sheet is a vast expanse of seemingly immovable ice. But beneath the monotonous stretch of white, scientists have discovered evidence of waves rippling through one of its outlet glaciers and roiling its innards.

    The waves, observed during the two most intense melt seasons on record, sent an unprecedented cascade of ice and water rushing into the sea and warping the very bedrock upon which the ice sits. As temperatures continue to rise, scientists fear that massive waves of ice could expedite Greenland’s melt even further, pushing sea levels higher.

    It’s the latest piece of bad news about Greenland’s ice. The ice sheet has been pouring roughly 270 megatons of ice a year into the ocean via the glaciers that stretch out from its hulking mass since 2000. That’s a big uptick compared to preceding decades.

    By the way, Google News is not a bad place to check for the bad news on Climate Change.

    Another recent headline there:

    “Antarctica Is Going Green, And Not In A Good Way”

    Half the people in the world actually do have 2-digit IQs, and I’ve got to suspect most of the peasant-level Deniers are in that category. Otherwise, how could they look at their young children or grandchildren without shame.

  10. backwardsevolution
    May 31, 2017 at 18:19

    All I hear – everywhere – is “we’ve got to have more growth”. More growth, more growth, more growth ad nauseam. “Got to get that Third World up to First World standards!” I mean, just think of the billions of consumers they’ll be leaving behind if they don’t get their way re the continuation of globalization. Think of the lost profits! Oh, the inhumanity of it all. Of course, it’s all said under the guise of wanting to “help” the Third World. When have these capitalists ever been into helping anyone? They don’t care about the Third World, just what they can milk from it.

    I’m torn on global warming. I don’t trust the politics, and I especially don’t trust that Wall Street is all-in for carbon credits. Yeah, carbon credits are going to make a difference, aren’t they? Not. “Look, everybody, we’re going green. You’re all going to get some carbon credits and that’ll fix it.” The sad thing is that the majority of people believe this crap.

    How about we do what should have been done decades ago – stop producing more people! Instead of feeding the Third World, making them dependent, thus encouraging them to continue having large families (and making our farmers rich selling to them, all subsidized through massive aid budgets), we should be providing them money NOT to have big families. If not for the food we’re giving them, their families would be a lot smaller, only because they’d all be starving to death.

    We live on a finite planet. Solar and wind are not going to cut it. You can’t use nuclear (as Evelyn said above) because you’ve got to look after the plants for thousands of years. And just look at what China is producing with their coal:

    “Air pollution in China has gotten so bad that a study by the World Bank found that air pollution kills 750,000 people every year in China. […] China is now the number one producer of carbon dioxide, responsible for a full quarter of the world’s CO2 output. According to a recent study, ‘even if American emissions were to suddenly disappear tomorrow, world emissions would be back at the same level within four years as a result of China’s growth alone’.”

    I read another article that put China at almost 30% of CO2 emissions. That’s just China. How about we bring on the rest of Asia, Africa, India and see what we get. Think again.

    Either capitalism goes or we go. It’s that simple. People are now getting things delivered to their doors from halfway around the world (China). Think of the energy to produce these things, the trucking, the shipping, the cranes, the planes. It’s insanity.

    Don’t despair, the One Belt One Road is coming to save us!

  11. Zachary Smith
    May 31, 2017 at 18:11

    Probably the principal belief — a mistaken belief — that accounts for the absence of what ought to be a groundswell of condemnation of the administration’s climate policies by earthlings who live in the United States is the notion that there is a zero-sum trade-off between economic well-being and action to curb global warming.

    Probably not.

    Mr. Pillar ignores the Industry-Funded Deniers. These people provide “services” of the same nature as prostitutes do for their employers. They muddy the water so the issue can’t be properly understood and it all seems to boil down to a big confused mess. This isn’t helped a bit by the way the Mainstream Media focuses on too-small and too-late trivia like The Paris Climate Deal. The Corporate owners of the Media are not going to rock the boat, and the world continues to warm. When hell finally does start breaking loose, it’ll very probably be too late to do a thing to avoid a massive die-off of the Life on Earth.

    Trump is certainly an ignorant ass regarding Climate Change, but he is cast from the same mold as Obama, Bush 2, and Clinton 1. And if anybody imagines Queen Hillary (as President) would be doing any more than filling the air with soothing words, think again.

  12. ADL
    May 31, 2017 at 17:38

    ‘reality of climate change should not be accepted because it cannot be calculated with “precision.’

    That would also apply to war, education, generosity, and sex. Or most anything related to the natural world.

    Ignorance should not be the primary qualification for heading up the EPA. Or any Govt Dept.

  13. Gregory Woods
    May 31, 2017 at 17:21

    Paulie has jumped the shark…

  14. Doug White
    May 31, 2017 at 14:43

    Used to think the sky was falling myself. I highly recommend everyone read the CRU leaks and actually try and LISTEN to some of the scientists calling East Anglia and the IPCC’s bluff. They are weathering a brutal storm and sticking to their guns because they have real trepadations about the politics motivating the paris accord, et al. All of our good intentions will only serve to squelch our liberties even further once we’ve given our consent to have our every exhalation taxed. Just check out the latest bloomberg piece where those big bad oil companies are actually begging for action on climate change – er, that is, climate disruption.

    • Zachary Smith
      May 31, 2017 at 14:52

      It appears to me that that you don’t yet know how to cut/paste either “Links” or “Full Titles”.

  15. Ol' Hippy
    May 31, 2017 at 12:48

    There are so many factors in the global poisoning/warming catastrophe that a small piece as Paul’s just touches the surface of the immense problem mankind is facing. Trump’s and his band of resistance miscreants aren’t even acknowledging the crisis. I read earlier today he’s to pull out of the wholly lacking Paris accords as an easy way to keep a misguided campaign promise. This is insanity!! I could care less about a campaign promise, all presidents promptly forget them as soon as they take office. This is possibly signing the death warrant of Earth and all the greater lifeforms, including humans, for a good million or so years. Despair is sometimes all I can feel when I read about the ecocide being carried out in the name of industry. I’m glad I have no children to inherit this global mess because I couldn’t look a child in the eye saying sorry, ‘I couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything to stop this disaster’ and neither did anyone else in the leadership either.

  16. evelync
    May 31, 2017 at 11:49

    The reason, IMO, that the corrupt PTB are willing, even determined, to ignore the catastrophic implications of climate change starts with our huuuuge energy oligopolies and their business model.

    I believe that renewables like solar and wind (especially if one considers the external costs of fossil fuels – health/environmental/wars) would actually provide an economic advantage over fossil fuels to the vast majority of people in this country – just not to the oligopolies partly because they’re allowed to kick those external costs back on us.

    The sun’s radiant energy, compared to our relatively modest needs, is infinite. Wind and ocean tides are also freely available.
    Neither one require a huge massive infrastructure for an Exxon or Chevron to process into fuel. A diffuse ownership of solar panels, wind turbines, would “democratize” solar and wind.

    And why is nuclear power always being driven down our throats? Nuclear power also requires massive monopolistic infrastructure that warms the cockles of the hearts of the usual suspects.

    In sum, it’s all about the oligopolistic state of affairs Switch to solar and wind and average people are no longer at the mercy of monopolistic control over energy supply and costs.

    Driving west across the Mohave Desert on I-10 a few years back, it was mind blowing to come upon the otherworldly Ivanpah Solar Power Facility. The Obama Administration provided a $1.6billion loan guarantee to this boondoggle on public land so that Bechtel and Brightsource could develop this troubled array of fields of mirrors that Google walked away from and which has failed to live up to its lofty projections. From miles down the road It is a horrific sight from a futuristic world set in the peaceful scenic desert with an occasional flash from a bird being fried.
    For the summary and failures of Ivanpah please see:

    Why on earth wouldn’t Obama instead have provided $1.6 billion in loan guarantees to all the homes along that east-west Nevada/California corridor instead of to this horrific boondoggle?

    As far as nuclear power is concerned, the superficial debate always ignores the fact that major investors will not loan money to fund these “safe” plants unless they are protected by the taxpayer in the event of a nuclear meltdown. Without that backdoor government guarantee the insurers will not insure them, the bond funds will not buy them. They learned that lesson after they experienced the 1982 default of WPPSS AKA “WHOOPS” (Washington Public Power Supply System).

    So, as with most other policy positions of our elected officials and the corrupt politicized level of some of our federal agencie, the absolute control exerted by the uncontrolled wealth and power of corporate America filters down via lies and propaganda to frighten people into acquiescing to choices that are against their best interests.

    But climate change may prove to be the last step in this sad state of affairs.

    (btw, my confidence in an anti nuclear energy stance has been boosted over the years from talking to nuclear engineers I have had a chance to chat with on airplane trips, etc who switched to solar because of the intractable environmental threat of storing spent fuel rods for thousands of years.)

    (On yet another note, climate change may also disrupt the “global ocean conveyor belt”: )

  17. May 31, 2017 at 11:07

    On global climate change, corporate capitalism is the elephant in the room. So long as governments anywhere fail to have leaders with knowledge of the limits of a finite planet and belief that anything can be done technologically for humans at earth’s expense including those other wonderful species also inhabiting this planet, we’re dooming every species including ourselves. Nuclear power and geoengineering are two examples of the most extreme technology views. Cell phone towers over the earth doom many birds but humans, including myself, have got to have cell phones. What is totally wrong is the underlying philosophy that humans rule earth and anything goes for the human species.

    • mike k
      May 31, 2017 at 11:41

      Humans don’t need cell phones. Live simply, so that others can simply live. We live under the curse of MORE. The only antidote is the blessing of LESS. Small is beautiful…..

      • Zachary Smith
        May 31, 2017 at 18:43

        Live simply, so that others can simply live.

        People in Africa would dispute this. Human life was improved by standardized mail delivery. Then by the telegraph. Next the telephone. Individualized telephones without connecting wires has, on the average, been another advance. Yes, the “texters” are a deadly menace when they’re operating power machinery, or walking cluelessly walking around in places like parking lots paying no attention to anything except their “device”. But to some degree that was already happening in times without the cell phones.

        One reason I have to buy “MORE” is because manufacturers are deliberately making their products obsolete faster than ever. (and by extension, deliberately lowering quality) These days they’re also using governments to make repairs or maintenance so costly that buying an new device is more cost-effective.

        “Small is beautiful” isn’t a good thing when it’s on account of your standard of living getting stomped flat.

        • mike k
          May 31, 2017 at 21:37

          Zachary – I don’t think you understood what I meant. People in Africa would understand that the bloated life style Americans are living is on their backs. They starve so we can get fat. I would not ask starving Africans to eat less. It’s us fat cats that need to live simpler so Africans can simply live. They need more of what we are hogging. Get it? You don’t have to agree with me, but try to understand what I mean.

    • Skip Scott
      June 1, 2017 at 06:39

      There are many solutions that just need some planning to implement, and as the article states, it is not a zero sum game. Satellites could replace cell towers and give us global coverage. Solar and batteries, along with energy efficient building design and on-site generation is largely doable today. Wind technology presently kills a lot of birds, but maybe there could be a fix with a little research. I have also heard rumor of a new breed of nuke using Thorium that is supposedly safe. If it really is, we could go to Hydrogen cars.

      While I believe in starving the beast of consumerism by avoiding frivolous consumption, I don’t think we need to live like cavemen. But the “invisible hand of the free market” is not going to get us there. We need to wrest control from the powers that be, and use our intelligence to guide us to a better future. A sudden advancement in human consciousness is the only thing that could save us now.

  18. Max
    May 31, 2017 at 10:41

    Fuller said that once a meter could be put on the sun we could us it.

    Simon plants a listening device in Tretiak’s office and learns he plans to perform a coup d’état by selling the cold fusion formula to Russian President Karpov to frame him for wasting billions on useless technology. Tretiak then plans to use the political fallout to install himself as President. Emma finishes the equations to complete the formula, and Simon delivers the information to Tretiak’s physicist, Dr. Lev Botkin (Henry Goodman), who builds an apparatus which proves the formula works. Simon infiltrates the President’s Kremlin residence and informs him of Tretiak’s conspiracy just before Tretiak loyalists detain him. In front of a massive gathering in Red Square, Tretiak makes public accusations against President Karpov, but when the cold fusion reactor is successfully initiated, Tretiak is exposed as a fraud and arrested. He is also revealed to have caused the heating oil shortage in Moscow by illegally stockpiling vast amounts of heating oil underneath his mansion.

    Trillions are gone on some Panama banking swindle. Car wash operation can be green with cold fusion. Dry cars with solar.

    • mike k
      May 31, 2017 at 11:31

      Get real Max.

  19. mike k
    May 31, 2017 at 10:19

    This article ridiculously understates the real danger of extreme climate change, which is near term human extinction. The highlighting of sleep deprivation further trivializes a subject of crisis dimensions. Frankly, the author does not seem to have a clue about what he is discussing.

    I am not going to try to cover this complex matter of climate disruption here. But I would say that a little research into the findings of scientists willing to risk their careers in order to tell the alarming truth, will tell you that the “controversy” supposedly surrounding this issue is an intentional smoke screen by major industries to conceal the dangerous reality of this life threatening monster.

    A place to start your awakening research might be:

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