“There is nothing we can do” – Meadows

31 03 2013

Dennis_Meadows3/6/2012FORMAT interviews Dennis Meadows, author of “The Limits to Growth”, about the shocking position of the planet. 40 years ago, Dennis Meadows presented the best seller “The Limits to Growth”. In it, he predicted, not the exact date of the apocalypse, but the U.S. researchers showed by means of computational models, that by mid-century, the resources of planet Earth will be depleted.

The book sold 30 million copies and Meadows is now regarded as the most famous “Sunset prophet” of the world. FORMAT’s writer Rainer Himmelfreundpointner met Meadows on a visit to Vienna for an exclusive interview. The message of the nearly 70-year-old is now no more optimistic as then, and is not for the faint of heart.

FORMAT: Mr. Meadows, according to the Club of Rome, we are currently facing a crisis of unemployment, a food crisis, a global financial and economic crisis and a global ecological crisis. Each of these is a warning sign that something is quite wrong. What exactly?

Meadows: What we meant in 1972 in “The Limits to Growth”, and what is still true, is that there is simply no endless physical growth on a finite planet. Past a certain point, growth ceases. Either we stop it … by changing our behaviour, or the planet will stop it. 40 years later, we regret to say, we basically have not done anything.

FORMAT: In your 13 scenarios the end of physical growth begins – that is, the increase in world population, its food production, or whatever else they produce or consume – between 2010 and 2050. Is the financial crisis part of that?

Meadows: You cannot compare our current situation that way. Suppose you have cancer, and this cancer causes fever, headaches and other pain. But those are not the real problem, the cancer is. However, we try to treat the symptoms. No one believes that cancer is being defeated. Phenomena like climate change and hunger are merely the symptoms of a disease of our earth, which leads inevitably to the end of growth.

FORMAT: cancer as a metaphor for uncontrolled growth?

Meadows: Yeah. Healthy cells at a certain point stop growing. Cancer cells proliferate until they kill the organism. Population or economic growth behave exactly the same. There are only two ways to reduce the growth of humanity: reduction in the birth rate or increase the death rate. Which would you prefer?

FORMAT: No one wants to have to decide.

Meadows: I don’t either. We have lost the opportunity of choice anyway. Our planet will do it.

FORMAT: How?

Meadows: Let’s stay on diet. Do the mathematics, take food per person since the 90s. The production is growing, but the population is growing faster. Behind every calorie of food that comes to the plate, ten calories of fossil fuels or oil are used for its production, transportation, storage, preparation and disposal. The less oil reserves and fossil fuels, the more the increase in food prices.

FORMAT: So it’s not just a distribution problem?

Meadows: Of course not. If we share it equitably, nobody would starve. But the fact is, it needs fossil fuels such as oil, gas or coal for food production. But those supplies are running low. Whether or not new shale oil and gas reserves are exploited, peak oil and peak gas are past. This means tremendous pressure on the entire system.

FORMAT: According to your models the population, which in 2050 will be around 9.5 billion people, even with a stagnation of food production for another 30, 40 years.

Meadows: And that means that there will be a lot of very poor people. Considerably more than half of humanity. Today we can not feed a large portion of humanity sufficiently. All the resources that we know of are declining. One can only guess where this will lead. There are too many “ifs” for the future: If people are smarter, if there is no war, if we make a technological advancement. We are now already at the point where we cannot cope with our problems, how we should do it in 50 years, when they are bigger?

FORMAT: And blame is our way of doing business?

Meadows: Our economic and financial system, we do not just get something. It is a tool that we have developed and that reflects our goals and values. People do not worry about the future, but only about their current problems. That is why we have such a serious debt crisis. Debt is the opposite of that, worrying about the future. Anyone who takes on debt says: I do not care what happens. And when for many people the future does not matter, they will create an economic and financial system that destroys the future. You can tweak this system as long as you want. As long as you do not change the values of the people, it will continue. If you give someone a hammer in his hand and he uses it, and it kills his neighbour, it helps nothing to change the hammer. Even if you take away the hammer, it remains a potential killer.

FORMAT: Systems that organise the kind of coexistence of people come and go.

Meadows: But man remains the same. In the U.S., we have a system in which it’s okay that a few are immensely rich and many are damned poor, yes even starve. If we find this acceptable, it does not help to change the system. The dominant values are always the same result. This value is reflected in climate change enormously. Who cares?

FORMAT: Europe?

Meadows: China, Sweden, Germany, Russia, the United States all have different social systems, but in each country rising CO2 emissions, because the people really don’t care. 2011 was the record. Last year there was more carbon dioxide produced than in all of human history before. Although all want it to decrease.

FORMAT: What is going wrong?

Meadows: Forget the details. The basic formula for CO2 pollution consists of four elements. First, the number of people on Earth. Multiplied by the capital per person, so how many cars, houses and cows per man, to come to Earth’s standard of living. This in turn multiplied by a factor of energy use per unit of capital, ie, how much energy it takes to produce cars, build houses and to supply or to feed cows. And finally multiply that by the amount of energy derived from fossil sources.

SIZE: Approximately 80 to 90 percent.

Meadows: Approximately. If you want the CO2 burden to decline, the overall result of this multiplication must decline. But what do we do? We try to reduce the share of fossil energy as we use more alternative sources like wind and solar. Then we work to make our energy use more efficient, insulate homes, optimise engines and all that. We work only on the technical aspects, but we neglect the population factor completely and believe that our standard of living is getting better, or at least stays the same. We ignore population and the social elements in the equation, and focus totally on just trying to solve the problem from the technical side. So we will fail, because growth of population and living standards are much greater than we would save through efficiency and alternative energy. Therefore, the CO2 emissions will continue to rise. There is no solution to the climate change problem as long as we do not address the social factors that count.

FORMAT: You mean the Earth will take things into its own hands?

Meadows: Disasters are the way to solve all the problems of the planet. Due to climate change, sea levels will rise because the ice caps are melting. Harmful species will spread to areas where they do not meet enough natural enemies. The increase in temperature leads to massive winds and storms, which in turn affects precipitation. So, more floods, more droughts.

FORMAT: For example?

Meadows: The land which today grows 60 percent of wheat in China will be too dry for agriculture. At the same time it’s going to rain, but in Siberia, and the country will be more fruitful there. So a massive migration from China to Siberia will take place. How many times have I told people this in my lectures in Russia already. The older people were concerned. But the young elite has merely said: Who cares? I just want to be rich.

FORMAT: What to do?

Meadows: If I only knew. We come into a period that calls for a dramatic change in practically everything. Unfortunately, changing our society or government system is not done quickly. The current system does not work anyway. It did not stop climate change, or prevent the financial crisis. Governments are trying to solve their problems by printing money, which will almost certainly result in a few years of very high inflation. This is a very dangerous phase. I just know that a person has, whenever he in uncertain times, has the choice between freedom and order, and chooses order. Order is not necessarily right or justice, but life is reasonably safe, and the trains run on time.

FORMAT: Do you fear an end of democracy?

Meadows: I see two trends. On the one hand, the disruption of states into smaller units, such as regions such as Catalonia, and on the other hand a strong, centralised superpower. Not a state, but a fascist combination of industry, police and military. Maybe there will be in the future even both. Democracy is indeed a very young socio-political experiment. And it does not currently exist. It produced only crises that it cannot solve. Democracy contributes nothing at the moment to our survival. This system will collapse from within, not because of an external enemy.

FORMAT: You talk of the “tragedy of the commons”, ( Allmendeklemme )

Meadows: This is the basic problem. If in a village everyone grazes his cows on the lush meadow – called in old England “Commons” – the short term benefit goes most to those who choose to have more cows. But if that goes on too long, all the grass dies, and all the cows.

FORMAT: So you have here an agreement, such as the best use of the meadow. That can be democracy at its best.

Meadows: Maybe. But if the democratic system can’t solve this problem on a global level, it will probably try a dictatorship. After all, it’s about issues such as global population controls. We are now 300,000 years on this planet and we have ruled in many different ways. The most successful and effective was the tribe or clan system, not dictatorships or democracies.

FORMAT: Could a major technological development to save the earth?

Meadows: Yes. [But] Technologies need laws, sales, training, people who work with them – see my above statement. Moreover, technology is just a tool like a hammer or a neoliberal financial system. As long as our values are what they are, we will [try to] develop technologies that meet them.

FORMAT: All the world currently sees salvation in a sustainable green technology.

Meadows: This is a fantasy. Even if we manage to increase the efficiency of energy use dramatically, use of renewable energies much more, and painful sacrifices to limit our consumption, we have virtually no chance to prolong the life of the current system. Oil production will be reduced approximately by half in the next 20 years, even with the exploitation of oil sands or shale oil. It just happens too fast. Apart from that you can earn more than non oil with alternative energy. And wind turbines can be operated, with no planes. The World Bank director (most recently responsible for the global airline industry) has explained to me, the problem of peak oil is not discussed in his institution, it is simply taboo. Whoever will try to anyway, is fired or transferred. After all, Peak Oil destroys the belief in growth. You would have to change everything.

FORMAT: Especially with airlines the share of fossil fuels is very high.

Meadows: Exactly. And that is why the era of cheap mass transport by air will end soon. This will only be affordable in large empires or countries. With a lot of money you might buy the energy, and cause food shortages. But you can not hide from climate change, which affects both the poor and the rich.

FORMAT: Do you have solutions to these mega miseries?

Meadows: This would change the nature of man. We are basically now just as programmed as 10,000 years ago. If one of our ancestors could be attacked by a tiger, he also was not worried about the future, but his present survival. My concern is that for genetic reasons we are just not able to deal with such things as long-term climate change. As long as we do not learn that, there is no way to solve all these problems. There’s nothing we could do. People always say again: We need to save our planet. No, we do not. The planet is going to save itself already. It always has done. Sometimes it took millions of years, but it happened. We should not be worried about the planet, but about the human species.

Dennis Meadows, 70, shattered the belief in progress on a sustainable basis with his study, commissioned by the Club of Rome, “Limits to Growth” 40 years ago . The economist has been Director of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a visiting lecturer in the world and has taught at Dartmouth College and at the University of New Hampshire, where he now teaches.

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Swarm catching

29 03 2013

swarm03-2013.4.JPG

Swarm in the tree before capture

Bees are the most amazing things.  And they never cease to amaze us.  Furthermore, if you ever want proof that the climate’s going haywire, keep bees…….. because today, a whole month (almost) into Autumn, one of our hives swarmed.  Lucky thing we even spotted them, because we had a late breakfast on the deck when it happened, and had we been inside as we would normally have been on such another hot day, we would never have noticed…..

Bees usually swarm when they run out of room in their hive.  For this to happen, you need prolific amounts of bee food (pollen from flowers), and it needs to be warm.  Obviously, following on from the recent torrential rains, there’s a lot happening in the nearby bush.  Last time we looked in the hives, about three

swarm03-2013.3

Preparing the capture

weeks ago to replace the beetle traps, we figured there was maybe an outside chance we could rob the hives one more time before winter set in.  But our strongest hive had other ideas…

For the uninitiated, when a hive swarms, the queen decides to leave for greener pastures (or at least less crowded ones), and some 2/3 of the rest of the bees follow her.  They eventually cluster on a tree somewhere, with the queen at the heart of the cluster, covered by many many thousands of worker bees to protect her.  Should anything happen to her, the whole colony would die, or else it may return to the old hive. Drones are then sent out to scout for a new appropriate place to hive, and if left to

The bees have dropped

The bees have dropped

their own device, that would be a hollow in a tree somewhere……  If you’re lucky enough, and have all the appropriate gear ready for such an occasion, you can take over this process and put all the bees (and hopefully the queen!) in a prepared hive, before they decide to go elsewhere.

swarm03-2013.7

Finishing off

So I rang our beekeeping partners, Paul and Robyn, who had a 10 frame hive with sufficient frames to do the job.  They were here in under twenty minutes, and the bees were still waiting for us.  Of course, bees rarely pick easy places to pluck them from, though this time around it wasn’t all that hard, we just had to bash some Lantana down and do some pruning on the Wattle tree they picked as a resting place.  The worst aspect of all this, for me, was as usual the heat…..  it gets hot in one of those suits in the full sun, even if they are white….!

Paul cut the Wattle’s trunk part of the way to allow us to drop the bees to ground level, and the new hive, sans frames, was placed underneath.  Once the bees are just above the hive, you just shake them, and they drop into the hive.  It’s as simple as that, really…. if you know what you’re doing!  If you have the queen in the box, the other bees will not leave her, and as we could see they were all chomping at the bit to get in, it was obvious we had been successful.  It just remained to place the frames in the box, and eventually cover it up with a fresh lid.

I know that to people who’ve never done this it may look terribly exciting, even dangerous, but in fact bees are at their most docile when swarming, because all those bees are actually full of honey, and none of us have ever been stung while catching swarms….   Glenda was there to document the whole event, and I can bring it all to you in glorious colour to read on a quiet Good Friday….

When the queen leaves, she would normally have left some queen cells in the hive for the next generation to take over.  Those cells hatch a new queen, and the hive regenerates…. so catching a swarm gives you a whole new hive, for free.  Aren’t they just awesome?  And all the wattle trimmings were fed to the goats…….





Peak Fossils+Uranium in 2017

22 03 2013

Energy Watch Group predicts Peak Fossils+Uranium in 2017
A guest post by Dave Kimble of www.peakoil.org.au

In their latest report, “Fossil and Nuclear Fuels – the Supply Outlook (March 2013)” [ PDF 7 MB ], Energy Watch Group have updated their figures for oil, gas, coal and Uranium production forecasts.

These 5 charts (click to enlarge) from the report show the past production and future forecasts for the four different fuels, and the total.

EWG.world.oil-gas-coal-U-prod.1960-2030

EWG.world.U-prod.1945-2013

EWG.world.coal-prod.1960-2100

EWG.world.gas-prod.1960-2030

EWG.world.oil-prod.1940-2030

This indicates that Peak Fossils+Uranium production will occur in 2017.

The report is very long and detailed (178 pages), but shorter summaries are also available at their website.





Kicking the can down the road

20 03 2013

Today is the Equinox.  Our house begins its seasonal Autumn mode with the first tiny shafts of sunlight due to start penetrating into the house and slowly warm it up in preparation for the Autumn cooling.  Except it’s cloudy and there’s no sun, and I will have to wait a little more to get my kicks about how well I designed this place…….  sigh……  at least the rewiring of the  US64 solar panels is doing wonders for the life of my batteries, they are remaining fully charged now no matter how cloudy it gets.

I’m spending those hours I’m not feeling exhausted trying to finish all those little jobs around the place, like fitting architraves and pelmets in those last couple of rooms that don’t have them, and painting them, in preparation for selling Mon Abri…..  it’s wearing me down, and sometimes I wish I could just re energise by connecting my fingers to the solar panels on the roof……. or something.

The credibility of banking took a real hit this week.  The confiscation of depositors’ money in Cyprus has been [at least temporarily] averted when the Cypriot government voted unanimously (well, there were a lot of abstentions) to reject the ridiculous idea.  But the banks are staying closed, at least until Friday, unless that too changes.  EDIT:  Ooops.. it has!  Now the banks will be closed until Tuesday…. what next?

I’d still be surprised if there wasn’t a run on the banks in Cyprus on Friday.  And then it will be interesting to see what happens in Spain, Greece, and Italy next week…..

As if that wasn’t bad enough, customers of JPMorgan Chase (in the US) reported two days ago seeing zero balances in their accounts both online and on mobile, and speculated that the bank’s systems had been hacked into.  The bank, however, clarified later that it was having a “technology problem” regarding customers’ balance information that it was working to resolve.  I bet there were some very nervous customers out there……

But wait……  it gets worse…

The New Zealand Reserve Bank has released a consultation paper on “the pre-positioning”
requirements that banks will be expected to comply with to fully implement the “Open Bank Resolution” (OBR) policy, as mentioned by the Minister of Finance in his statement on 11 March 2011…..  OBR is a long-standing policy option aimed at “resolving a bank failure quickly”, in such a way that the bank can be kept open for business, thus minimising stresses on the overall banking and payments system.

NZ Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Grant Spencer said: “The OBR policy provides for continuity of core banking services to retail customers and businesses, while placing the cost of a bank failure primarily on the bank’s shareholders and creditors rather than the taxpayer.”

Kiwis had better hope nothing goes wrong with their banking sector…  more nervous customers, no doubt.  I’m just glad I don’t have to worry about having money in the bank.  There are upsides to being poor after all…!

The news on the whole Peak debt crisis, inevitably got worse this week too.

Max Keiser, the host of RT’s ‘Keiser Report’, has just reported that “The debt bomb just got bigger”.  No, really…….

The amount of debt worldwide is more than all of the bank accounts in the world, and the current financial situation in Cyprus is the inevitable next phase: Confiscation.

All pretence is now gone that central or global bankers can ‘securitize’ growth by packaging and repackaging debt; by hypothicating and rehypothicating debt; by regulating and re-regulating debt. Since the bond market rally began in the early 1980s (yes, it’s that old) each crisis has been met by central and global bankers – the IMF, EU and ECB, to name a few – and their Wall St. and City of London brethren with an increase in debt, and an extension of the debt’s maturity. 

The result has been – as of 2007 – the biggest mountain of on-balance sheet and off-balance sheet debt in history: A staggering $220 trillion in debt in America’s $14-trillion economy alone (when you include all public, private and contingent liabilities of unfunded entitlement programs). Deals in the global debt derivatives market now stand in excess of $1 quadrillion, riding above a global GDP of approximately $60 trillion.

But starting in 2007, and then becoming spectacularly apparent in 2008 with the Lehman collapse, the ability of the world’s taxpayers to pay either the interest or principal on this debt has hit a brick wall. And for several years now, governments around the world have tried the same old tricks of ‘extend and pretend.’ Repackage and extend the maturity, and pray that tax receipts start picking up enough to pay some of the debt off. It didn’t work. The debt bomb just got bigger. Now in Cyprus we see the inevitable next phase: Confiscation.

To pay off the debts that were incurred to finance the biggest wealth grab in history, we see in Cyprus, as well as central and global banking institutions around the world, a trend to just reach in and grab people’s money from their ‘insured’ bank accounts. We should have figured out this was coming when JP Morgan (read: Jamie Dimon) reached in and illegally stepped ahead of customers at MF Global and grabbed over $1 billion, with the help of his crony pal Jon Corzine.

Have we learned our lesson yet? They have more debts to pay than there is money in all the bank accounts in the world. This means that chances are, you – whoever you are, and whatever country you live in – will have a sizable percent of your savings stolen by banksters.

It now worries me that when/if we sell our place, I will have little choice other than put the money in a bank until I get a chance to spend it…….  Boy, do we live in interesting times.





Are we there yet?

18 03 2013

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post with exactly the same title as this one, regarding whether we were at Peak Oil or not……  Well this one is about Peak Debt….. and the reason I’m writing it is that a momentous event in a tiny place with a population of just 1.1 million called Cyprus happened overnight, which could have enormous repercussions for the global economy……

One of John Lennon’s most pertinent lyric in a whole lifetime of song-writing this morning is “I read the news today, oh boy”…..

Traders braced for market turbulence amid bailout chaos in Cyprus

A Cypriot parliamentary vote on the proposed €10bn (£8.6bn – AU$12.5bn) international bailout, which also includes plans for a raid on bank deposits, is expected to be held on Monday. President Nicos Anastasiades said the bail-out was “painful” but necessary to avoid a “disorderly bankruptcy”.

Christopher Pissarides, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and chairman of the government’s economic advisory committee, warned that the island’s fragile economy would collapse within “two or three days” if the legislation was not passed.

What I want to know is, how many days will it take to collapse the economy if a bank run occurs?  Monday (local time) is a bank holiday.  Coincidence?  You tell me…..  but apparently there are queues at the ATMs in Nicosia already.  If this doesn’t cause a run on the banks, I don’t know what will.  It’s not even inconceivable that a run on banks in all the PIIGS nations of Europe could start over the next few days.

Steve Keen believes the EU has thrown Cyprus to the wolves.  In Business Spectator, Steve eurowrites

If there was one lesson that I thought the world had learnt from the Great Depression, it was the need to guarantee depositors’ funds. So much for that fantasy. Now the EU has shown that its obsession with austerity has gone so far that even this historical wisdom has been abandoned. Not only are depositors’ funds not guaranteed, they are being lost even in banks that have not (yet) failed.

So who will have confidence in banks, any bank, after this?  Is the money even there to be withdrawn…?  Steve Keen thinks not……

The public will be waiting a while: the cash currently simply doesn’t exist. Currency constitutes only a tiny percentage of the aggregate money supply – whether defined as that found in bank at-call cheque and savings accounts (M2), or including term deposits and other not-at-call accounts (M3). If everyone wants it, then only one in twenty will get it, if Europe’s figures are at all comparable to America’s (see figure 1). That’s why a collapse in confidence in deposits is called a bank run: only those who run first to the bank get their money.

Graph for The EU has thrown Cyprus to the wolves

Now most people have no idea that their money is not in the bank at all…..  and when the word gets out that if you want your dough right now,  you won’t get it, there will be some seriously pissed off people outside the banks…!

The Matrix utterly relies on confidence.  We are all (well mostly…) confident that because it is printed on a ten dollar note that it is actually worth ten bucks, then it must be.  It’s labelled legal tender even…..  what could go wrong?

Heaps…….

For starters, it appears a lot of Russians, wealthy ones one could reasonably expect, have been using Cypriot banks as safe havens for their Rubles.  Silly Ruskies…  But as that favourite show of mine (The Gruen Transfer) has been asking, “what would Putin do?”  I doubt he’ll be taking this lying down…..  the British government has already said they would rescue any armed services personnel in Cyprus who loses money over this…  The repercussions could be very unpleasant.  The stock market has already taken a 2% hit, though that sector of the economy goes up and down every time I sneeze…  The best the rest of the world can hope for is that Cyprus is sufficiently unique that it won’t spark panic in Athens and Madrid or in Lisbon, Dublin and Rome.  I know people taking their money out of Aussie banks today…..  not kidding.





On Sustainable Growth

14 03 2013

I take more than a passing interest on a particular TV show in this country, and of course I’m talking about The Gourmet Farmer on SBS…..  fat pig farmBeen watching it right from the start, the story of a Sydney foodie moving to Tasmania to begin a new life growing and eating and then selling local food at the markets.  And he picked the Huon Valley, which made loads of sense to me, it’s my favourite bit of Tassie.  It was around that time that I decided we should make a similar move, so I’ve been watching Matthew Evans’ progress with much interest….

Of course he had no clue.  He freely admits this himself.  And there’s nothing like the school of hard knocks to force clues into you!  I watched with glee as he brought a wood burning cooker into his kitchen – then struggled to make it work…  Having to build a possum proof fortress around his first veggie patch also comes to mind, but what quickly became obvious to me was that he had picked the wrong farm, with far too much South facing slopes, a real killer this far from the Equator.  I even told him so on his blog.  Which he never replies to.  I don’t doubt many of the friends with the right expertise whom he met down there told him as much, because if you’re growing your own food, you would undoubtedly know and understand the difference.

So Matt and his new wife (who I suspect is the real green thumb in this marriage) bought a new farm at Glazier’s Bay, much of it North facing, where I too ironically had my eye on a couple of properties which have now sold (neither were the one he bought).  In fact, I am almost certain I had a really good look at the place they eventually chose, but at 70 acres, it was way way bigger than I need, and almost certainly, from memory, well out of our budget……  but I remember thinking what a great spot it would be to start a co-op of sorts with like minded Permies to start a sustainable farm…!  If I didn’t already have friends in Geeveston, I would pick Glazier’s Bay too……

It very quickly became obvious to me that they had far too many pigs on the old Puggle Farm (where they still live – the new farm has no house).  The carrying capacity was limited on that patch of land, very few people appreciate or understand carrying capacity….  that’s why we are in the mess we are in now, and on a global scale.  We raised just two saddle back piglets here on our even smaller farmlet, and they stretched our carrying capacity.  By the end of the last drought, we literally had nothing left for our three goats to eat, resorting to trimming trees from outside our place which to my self sufficient way of thinking was bordering on failure.

Casting my usual critical/sceptical eye on things, as I watched Matthew move his pigs from Puggle Farm to Fat Pig Farm, I could not help wondering how long it would take him to overstock this place?  Because it seems to me the Evans family has fallen to the growth monster.  If they read this (and I hope they do) I don’t write this to be mean or anything… it’s what I do!a-common-ground-shop

Their overheads must’ve gone into overdrive……  they’ve switched from a Salamanca Market stall to a permanent place in the Salamanca Arts Centre they share with Nick the cheesemaker (from Bruny Island I think…) they’ve called A Common Ground.  Looks great, don’t get me wrong….  I actually really like it.  But it worries me that they seem totally unaware of the looming collapse…

The whole Tassievore movement is in my opinion one of the most attractive things about living in Tasmania, it’s why I want to live there, it’s why I want our kids to live there….  but when Matthew speaks of driving from Cygnet to Hobart (and now Glazier’s Bay) regularly, my eyes glaze over and I can’t help thinking “how much longer do they think they can do this?”  And how much longer will there be busloads of tourists visiting Salamanca Place?  And whilst it is utterly none of my business, I can’t help wondering how much debt they’re into now…….  especially when just yesterday, this came up on the ABC’s news site:

Bankers winning the battle, losing the war
By online business reporter Michael Janda

Leading economist and financial analyst Gerard Minack, one of the few who largely foresaw the global financial crisis, is warning that another and potentially worse economic storm is brewing.In his latest Downunder Daily note, Mr Minack warns that the very actions central bankers are taking now, that have done so much to inflate share markets and restore economic confidence, are sowing the seeds of the next crisis.

It’s one thing the growth monster gobbling up idiots……  it’s quite another when it does it to really nice people whose only fault is they are trying (and working) hard to do the right thing…  I can only wish them all the very best of luck.  I can’t help but feel they’re going to need it.

The Gourmet Farmer is a great show by the way, a breath of fresh air……  I encourage you all who read this (in Australia) to watch it……





Hot off the press. It’s our fault alright…….

8 03 2013

Meeting Mark Cochrane is turning out to be one of the most valuable and fascinating markcochrane2things I have yet to do online……  the man is a genius at explaining the most difficult issues, and he’s just put out another gem over at the PP website.

It’s not only correlation versus causation – we have correlation and physical, tested processes which strongly support causation unless there is some offsetting physics that no one has discovered.

Where’s the evidence humans are changing the climate?

New results out in Science today, Marcott et al. 2013 (link)

Our results indicate that global mean temperature for the decade 2000–2009 (34) has not yet exceeded the warmest temperatures of the early Holocene (5000 to 10,000 yr B.P.). These temperatures are, however, warmer than 82% of the Holocene distribution as represented by the Standard5×5 stack, or 72% after making plausible corrections for inherent smoothing of the high frequencies in the stack (6) (Fig. 3). In contrast, the decadal mean global temperature of the early 20th century (1900–1909) was cooler than >95% of the Holocene distribution under both the Standard5×5 and high-frequency corrected scenarios. Global temperature, therefore, has risen from near the coldest to the warmest levels of the Holocene within the past century, reversing the long-term cooling trend that began ~5000 yr B.P. Climate models project that temperatures are likely to exceed the full distribution of Holocene warmth by 2100 for all versions of the temperature stack (35) (Fig. 3), regardless of the greenhouse gas emission scenario considered (excluding the year 2000 constant composition scenario, which has already been exceeded). By 2100, global average temperatures will probably be 5 to 12 standard deviations above the Holocene temperature mean for the A1B scenario (35) based on our Standard5×5 plus high-frequency addition stack

Quick translation – the planet had been cooling for 5000 years and through orbital mechanics models of Milankovitch cycles should still be cooling but all of a sudden the temperature shoots up for no apparent reason just when we start pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. We shot from one of the coolest periods in the entire Holocene (11,500 years since the last Ice Age) to close to one of the warmest. Unprecedented rate of change. Any competing theories on why? (crickets…)Standard_deviation_diagram.svg

Take a look at the probabilities associated with being 5-12 standard deviations (normal distribution) above the Holocene mean by 2100.

I posted this diagram of Standard Deviation last year  to explain the possibilities of being three standard deviations out, but five to twelve?  That doesn’t even compute on a graph such as this…  Wikipedia only give probabilities out to the 7th standard deviation from the mean but that is a start.  Cl stands for Central Limits by the way….  that dark blue area.

zσ Percentage within CI Percentage outside CI Fraction outside CI
0.674490σ 50% 50% 1 / 2
0.994458σ 68% 32% 1 / 3.125
68.2689492% 31.7310508% 1 / 3.1514872
1.281552σ 80% 20% 1 / 5
1.644854σ 90% 10% 1 / 10
1.959964σ 95% 5% 1 / 20
95.4499736% 4.5500264% 1 / 21.977895
2.575829σ 99% 1% 1 / 100
99.7300204% 0.2699796% 1 / 370.398
3.290527σ 99.9% 0.1% 1 / 1,000
3.890592σ 99.99% 0.01% 1 / 10,000
99.993666% 0.006334% 1 / 15,787
4.417173σ 99.999% 0.001% 1 / 100,000
4.891638σ 99.9999% 0.0001% 1 / 1,000,000
99.9999426697% 0.0000573303% 1 / 1,744,278
5.326724σ 99.99999% 0.00001% 1 / 10,000,000
5.730729σ 99.999999% 0.000001% 1 / 100,000,000
99.9999998027% 0.0000001973% 1 / 506,797,346
6.109410σ 99.9999999% 0.0000001% 1 / 1,000,000,000
6.466951σ 99.99999999% 0.00000001% 1 / 10,000,000,000
6.806502σ 99.999999999% 0.000000001% 1 / 100,000,000,000
99.9999999997440% 0.000000000256% 1 / 390,682,215,445

The bottom row (in bold) shows the probability of any point occurring seven standard deviations from the mean, the probability is one in 390 plus billion.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_deviation

The most likely scenario, five standard deviations, has a probability of one in 1.7 million….  get it?  The chances that the current warming rate is natural, ie not our fault, is like winning the lotto.