If you have a really big well you can pee in it with relatively little consequence. When you get 7 billion people peeing in the well, do not ask why the water tastes odd.
Currently people want proof that Climate Change is real. That is fundamentally backwards; how can a child prove their future has been harmed by our pollution. The burden of "no-harm" proof should be on the polluters. Demanding proof the Climate Change is real is identical to people in the Dark Ages throwing their urine and feces into open sewers on public streets. There is a balance to nature, tilting that balance requires proof of "no harm."
If driving a barge with a 200 year turning radius. It might be good to error on the side of caution, study all aspects of the barge and water, and act ahead of events.
The British Treasury as identified the cost and need to act immediately.
Sterns Review from the British Treasury has called on the world's leaders to immediately invest 1% of World GDP to curtail production of Green House Gases (GHG). Failure is expected to result in a 20% collapse of World GDP and hardships of the scale of the Great Depression and World Wars.
Climate Change and Peak Oil consequences are going to impact us before we can re-tool.
The crisis may be as far away as 26 years. It could happen tomorrow. Most likely, it will crash on us in three to five years. Action this morning will mitigate some consequences; action this afternoon will mitigate fewer consequences. The Internet has taken 37 years to reach its current level of access; re-tooling sustainable transportation will likely take 50 years.
It has been about 5 years since this page was first written and it looks like Abrupt Climate Change is unfolding as in 2012 there were "once in a lifetime" forest fires, Hurricane Sandy, drought, and multi-year Arctic Ice melt. We are either very lucky or the full ramifications of tilting the balance of nature are revealing themselves.
We can build great and lasting cities. Please consider and ask others to consider the following taken from the book Good to Great. It is an abridged conversation between the author Jim Collins and Admiral Jim Stockdale (imprisoned in the “Hanoi Hilton” from 1965 to 1973). This book has a profound insight into the making of great organizations:
Collins: In preparation, I read In Love and War, the book Stockdale and his wife had written in alternating chapters, chronicling their experiences during those eight years.
As I moved through the book, I found myself getting depressed. It seemed so bleak – the uncertainty of his fate, the brutality of his captors, and so forth. And then, it dawned on me: “I am getting depressed reading this and I know the end of the story! I know he gets out, reunites with his family, and becomes a national hero. How on earth did he deal with it when he was actually there and did not know the end of the story?”
Stockdale: I never lost faith. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life.”
Collins: Who did not make it out?
Stockdale: Oh that’s easy. The optimists.
Collins: The optimists? I don’t understand.
Stockdale: The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.
After a long pause, Stockdale stopped and turned to face Collins:
Stockdale: This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
We cannot afford to be optimistic that energy on which life depends will be available from oil.
We must face the Brutal Facts of our current reality:
1. Cars kill 14 of every 100,000 Americans each year.
2. Car accidents cost Americans about $150 billion each year.
3. Approximately 97% of trips in the US and 80% of trips in Europe are by car. Personal mobility is essential to our economies and cannot be replaced by mass transit. Cars are the right answer; they are just the wrong mass and randomness of behavior for repetitive travel.
4. Costly and relatively dense train systems in New York and Washington DC have not solved their congestion or oil dependence problems.
5. Light rail projects planned will not match the capacity of New York, Washington DC; they will not solve congestion or oil problems.
6. Productivity gains in manufacturing’s shift from Mass Production to Just-in-Time, focusing on the quality of the process can be applied to mass transportation.
7. Oil prices are unstable. Any one of many actions can instantly disrupt our oil based economy, force massive lay-offs and preempt farmers’ ability to plant and harvest food:
a. Terrorist attacks on multiple pipelines or specific facilities.
b. Iran or Venezuela oil embargo.
c. Further civil deterioration in Iraq.
d. A Hurricane or other natural disaster.
8. No subsidies. Taxes that subsidize light rail and buses will disappear as increasing oil prices drive workers out of work.
9. Neither bio-fuel cars nor hybrids will solve congestion problems. Typical worker loses 43 hours, a workweek, per year to congestion.
10. Two wars in 16 years. Troops are deployed and being killed as we spend capital dollars to expand highways and our dependence on foreign oil. Personally, I think these expenditures are obscene; the cost of war should be part of every environmental impact statement; $.30 should be added to the price of every gallon of gasoline to pay for wars that protect access to foreign oil. This is not soft thinking; I volunteered and went to Iraq because I believe contributing to world liberty is our best defense.
11. Peak Oil. By all estimates, the maximum rate at which oil can be extract from the earth has peaked or will peak within 26 years. At Peak Oil, oil prices are expected to triple each year (they tripled in the last six years). Farmers and truckers are most at risk from unstable oil prices. But everyone is at risk; we cannot eat food that could not be planted, harvested and delivered. Please watch the documentary at: http://abc.net.au/4corners/special_eds/20060710/
12. After Peak Oil, oil based economies and populations will be forced to decrease 5-15% every year; death on a biblical scale, downward sloping curves (above).
13. Re-tooling. It will take longer than 26 years to re-tool transportation to be independent of oil. Failure to act in advance of Peak Oil will exacerbate hardships.
14. Global Warming. Adapted from NOAA, Sterns Review and Impacts of Climate Change on Washington's Economy
a. Forest fire loses will increase by 50% by 2020.
b. West Nile virus, asthma and other health costs will rise.
c. Snowfall loses will affect lakes, streams and water supplies.
d. Farmers will have longer growing seasons but will face reduced water supplies, increased demand, changes in pests, weeds, and crop diseases.
e. Higher temperatures will affect dairy production.
From BBC, summer ice cover in the Arctic has declined sharply.
Personal note by Bill James: I spent three years as an Arctic Light infantryman in Alaska. I have been back several times since. The rate and scale of changes in Alaska and the Arctic are sweeping. With Global Warming, we are dealing with forces far beyond our ability to control. If we are unsure of the consequences, we have a duty to error on the side of caution.
We are not doing that today. By rejecting the responsibility to not waste, we are at a minimum wasting precious oil. More likely we are killing our planet's ability to sustain our culture.
Arctic ice decay from Sept 2007 to Mar 2008. Watch the exit flow along Greenland's east coast (top right) and the breakup of old ice above Alaska (lower-middle right).
Risk is a breakdown of the thermohaline Gulf Stream. The top loop requires water to cool, drop to the ocean bottom and return under the warmer top current. As fresh water and ice flood into this conveyor the lower salt content makes it difficult to submerge. Pentagon Report on consequence of Abrupt Climate Change.