Black Swan Events

Think of oil spills, mine explosions, financial meltdowns or even global warming. There is a natural tendency of human beings to underestimate the odds of such seemingly unlikely events — of forgetting that the 100-year flood is as likely to happen in Year 5 as it is in Year 95. And if there are insufficient data to calculate the probability of a very bad outcome, as is often the case, that doesn’t mean we should assume the probability is zero.

Steven Pearlstein

via Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture

Climate Change and Politics in Copenhagen: We Won’t Get Fooled Again?

I'm so tired of being misled by our leaders that I search for people who don't sugarcoat what they see happening. This leads to inner conflict: the satisfaction of getting a somewhat realistic view of the problems that we face up the creek, and anger from realizing that how skilled our leaders are at promising to solve problems to gain power.

John Michael Greer doesn't sugarcoat what he sees. Below are some excerpts from his recent essay on the politics of climate change conference in Copenhagen. Don't read this unless you enjoy dark humor and you want to become more cynical. The realization that there are no easy solutions is always very difficult to swallow.

Link: The Archdruid Report: The Human Ecology of Collapse.

The question that has to be asked is whether a modern industrial society can exist at all without vast and rising inputs of essentially free energy, of the sort only available on this planet from fossil fuels, and the answer is no.

…will somebody please explain to me someday how a head of state got given the Nobel Peace Prize while he was enthusiastically waging two wars?

Meanwhile the socialists are insisting that it’s all capitalism’s fault and can be solved promptly by a socialist revolution, never mind the awkward little fact that the environmental records of socialist countries are by and large even worse than those of capitalist ones; other radicalisms of left and right make the same claim as the socialists, often with even less justification.

I think a great many people are beginning to realize that whatever results come out of Copenhagen, a meaningful response to the increasing instability of global climate will not be among them.

Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that Obama agreed to cut US carbon emissions far enough to make a real impact on global climate change. Would those cuts happen? No, because Congress would have to agree to implement them, and Congress – even though it is controlled by a Democratic majority – has so far been unable to pass even the most ineffectual legislation on the subject.

Suppose the improbable happened, and both Obama and Congress agreed to implement serious carbon emission cuts. What would the result be? Much more likely than not, a decisive Republican victory in the 2010 congressional elections, followed by the repeal of the laws mandating the cuts. Carbon emissions can’t be cut by waving a magic wand; the cuts will cost trillions of dollars at a time when budgets are already strained, and impose steep additional costs throughout the economy.

any nation that accepts serious carbon emission cuts will place itself at a steep economic disadvantage compared to those nations that don’t.

Business executives whose companies will bear a large share of the costs of curbing carbon emissions have funded some very dubious science, and some even more dubious publicity campaigns, in order to duck those costs; academics have either tailored their findings to climb onto the climate change bandwagon, or whored themselves out to corporate interests willing to pay handsomely for anyone in a lab coat who will repeat their party line; politicians on both sides of the aisle have distorted facts grotesquely to further their own careers.

Beneath all the yelling, though, are a set of brutal facts nobody is willing to address. Whether or not the current round of climate instability is entirely the product of anthropogenic CO2 emissions is actually not that important, because it’s even more stupid to dump greenhouse gases into a naturally unstable climate system than it would be to dump them into a stable one. Over the long run, the only level of carbon pollution that is actually sustainable is zero net emissions, and getting there any time soon would require something not far from the dismantling of industrial society and its replacement with something much less affluent.

Even if it turns out to be possible to power something like an industrial society on renewable resources, the huge energy, labor, and materials costs needed to develop renewable energy and replace most of the infrastructure of today’s society with new systems geared to new energy sources will have to be paid out of existing supplies; thus everything else would have to be cut to the bone, or beyond.

I long ago lost track of the number of global warming bumper stickers I’ve seen on the rear ends of SUVs.

Nobody, but nobody, is willing to deal with the harsh reality of what a carbon-neutral society would have to be like. This is what makes the blame game so popular, and it also provides the impetus behind meaningless gestures of the sort that are on the table at Copenhagen.

a strong case can be made that the most viable option for anyone in a leadership position is to enjoy the party while it lasts, and hope you can duck the blame when it all comes crashing down.

the immediate costs of doing something about the issue are so high, and so unendurable, that very few people in positions of influence are willing to stick their necks out, and those who do so can count on being shortened by a head by others who are more than willing to cash in on their folly.

Both Sides of the Global Warming Debate Are Wrong

John Michael Greer, one of my favorite sources of intelligence, describes why the global warming debate is so polarized, with scientific "evidence" being used by both sides. He suggests that we should be more concerned about Peak Oil, which is less controversial and more predictable, but not very marketable. Excerpts below.

Click on the link below to read the whole essay. The comments are very interesting also.

Link: The Archdruid Report: Hagbard's Law

…Hagbard’s Law is a massive factor in modern societies. Coined by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson in their tremendous satire Illuminatus!, Hagbard’s Law states that information can only be communicated between equals, since in a hierarchy, those in inferior positions face very strong incentives to tell their superiors what the superiors want to hear rather than ‘fessing up to the truth. The more levels of hierarchy between the people who gather information and the ones who make decisions, the more communication tends to be blocked by Hagbard’s Law; in today’s governments and corporations, the disconnect between the reality visible on the ground and the numbers viewed from the top of the pyramid is as often as not total.

Many of my readers will be aware that two examples of this sort of figure-juggling surfaced in the last couple of weeks. From somewhere in the bowels of the International Energy Agency (IEA), a bureaucracy created and funded by the world’s industrial nations to provide statistics on energy use, two whistleblowers announced that the 2009 figures that were about to be released had been jiggered, as past figures had been, under pressure from the US government. The reason for the pressure, according to the whistleblowers, was that accurate figures would be bad for the US economy – as indeed they would be, for much the same reason that a diagnosis of terminal illness is bad for one’s prospects of buying life insurance.

Of course news stories about the leaks brought a flurry of denials from the IEA. Doubtless some people were fooled; still, the gaping chasm between the IEA’s rosy predictions of future oil production and the evidence assembled by independent researchers has been a subject of discussion in peak oil circles for some years now, and it was useful to have insiders confirm the presence of fudge factors outside analysts have long since teased out of the data.

The second and much more controversial example came to light when persons unknown dumped onto the internet a very large collection of private emails from a British academic center studying global warming. Like everything else involved with global warming, the contents of the emails became the focus of a raging debate between opposed armies of true believers, but the emails do suggest that a certain amount of data-fudging and scientific misconduct is going on in the large and lucrative scientific industry surrounding climate change.

The result is a great deal of faux science that manipulates experimental designs and statistical analyses to support points of view that happen to be fashionable, either within a scientific field or in the broader society. I saw easily half a dozen examples of this sort of thing in action back in my college days, which spanned all of five years and two universities. Still, you don’t need a ringside seat to watch the action: simply pay attention to how often the results of studies just happen to support the interests of whoever provided the funding for them. You don’t need to apply a chi-square test here to watch Hagbard’s Law in action.

There’s good reason to think that the feedback loop by which popular attitudes generate their own supporting evidence via dubious science has distorted the global warming debate. The fingerprints show up all over the weird disconnect between current global warming science and the findings of paleoclimatology, which show that sudden, drastic climate changes have been routine events in Earth’s long history; that the Earth was actually warmer than the temperatures predicted by current doomsday scenarios at the peak of the current interglacial period only six thousand years ago; and that the Earth has been a hothouse jungle planet without ice caps or glaciers for around 80% of the time since multicellular life evolved here. Technically speaking, we’re still in an ice age – the current interglacial is on schedule to end in the next few thousand years, giving way to a new glaciation for a hundred thousand years or so, with several million years of further cycles still in the pipeline – and claims that setting the planetary thermostat a little closer to its normal range will terminate life on Earth are thus at least open to question.

What interests me most about the current global warming debate is that these facts, when they get any air time at all, commonly get treated as ammunition for the denialist side of the debate. This hardly follows. Paleoclimatology shows that the Earth’s climate is unstable, and prone to drastic shifts that can place massive strains on local and regional ecosystems. It’s equally clear that number juggling in a British laboratory does not change the fact that the Arctic ice sheet is breaking up, say, or that a great many parts of the world are seeing their climates warp out of all recognition. Even if natural forces are driving these shifts, this is hardly a good time to dump vast quantities of greenhouse gases into an already unstable atmosphere – you could as well claim that because a forest fire was started by lightning, dumping planeloads of gasoline around its edges can’t possibly cause any harm.

The problem with the global warming debate just now is that tolerably well funded groups on both sides are using dubious science to advance their own agendas and push the debate further toward the extremes. The common habit of thinking in rigid binaries comes into play here; it’s easy enough for global warming believers to insist that anyone who questions their claims must be a global warming denier, while their opponents do the same thing in reverse, and the tumult and the shouting helps bury the idea that the territory between the two polarized extremes might be worth exploring. As a result, moderate views are being squeezed out, as the radicals on one side try to stampede the public toward grandiose schemes of very questionable effect, while the radicals on the other try to stampede the public toward doing nothing at all.

It’s instructive to compare the resulting brouhaha to the parallel, if much less heavily publicized, debate over peak oil. The peak oil scene has certainly seen its share of overblown apocalyptic claims, and it certainly has its own breed of deniers, who insist that the free market, the march of progress, or some other conveniently unquantifiable factor will make infinite material expansion on a finite planet less of an oxymoron than all logic and evidence suggests it will be. Still, most of the action in the peak oil scene nowadays is happening in the wide spectrum between these two extremes. We’ve got ecogeeks pushing alternative energy, Transition Towners building local communities, “preppers” learning survival skills, and more; even if most of these ventures miss their mark, as doubtless most of them will, the chance of finding useful strategies for a difficult future goes up with each alternative explored.

The difference between the two debates extends to the interface between statistics and power discussed earlier in this post. Both sides of the global warming debate, it’s fair to say, have fairly robust political and financial payoffs in view. The established industrial powers of the West and the rising industrial nations elsewhere are each trying to use global warming to impose competitive disadvantages on the other; fossil fuel companies are scrambling to shore up their economic position, while the rapidly expanding renewables industry is trying to elbow its way to the government feed trough; political parties are lining up to turn one side or the other into a captive constituency that can be milked for votes and donations, and so forth.

Still, I find myself wondering if Hagbard’s Law plays a much bigger role here than any deliberate plan. The global warming story, if you boil it down to its bones, is the kind of story our culture loves to tell – a narrative about human power. Look at us, it says, we’re so mighty we can destroy the world! The peak oil story, by contrast, is the kind of story we don’t like – a story about natural limits that apply, yes, even to us. From the standpoint of peak oil, our self-anointed status as evolution’s fair-haired child starts looking like the delusion it arguably is, and it becomes hard to avoid the thought that we may have to settle for the rather less flattering role of just another species that overshot the carrying capacity of its environment and experienced the usual consequences.

Coal is NOT the Solution

Steve Heckeroth at Mother Earth News describes why coal is not a good source of energy. Excerpts below.

Link: Solar is the Solution.

Coal is burned mainly to produce electricity, and coal-fired power plants produce more than half the electricity used in the United States. But burning coal has serious drawbacks. One is that it releases carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. It also releases heavy metals, such as mercury and sulfur. These toxins that were locked in the Earth’s crust over billions of years are suddenly spewed into the atmosphere and thus degrade our air, water and soil. The exhaust from burning coal contains more pollutants and global warming emissions per unit of energy produced than any other fossil fuel. In addition, the methods used to mine coal are destructive to the land and dangerous for the miners.

Now consider that coal is enormously inefficient from a total energy perspective. It took billions of years of solar energy to form the coal we have today. And while coal is the most abundant fossil resource, the total amount of energy produced by burning all the coal on the planet would only be equivalent to the solar energy that strikes the Earth every six days.

Don’t Cry Wolf Too Often

Most of us exist in an emotional state where we balance fear and denial. Determining which potential disaster scenarios are real and which are scare tactics is very difficult but necessary. Think about Y2K, terrorist attacks, ozone depletion, peak oil, bird flu, illegal immigration, and global warming — how do we assess which are real dangers and which are public figures pontificating?

John Michael Greer describes several of the scare tactics used by leaders to motivate the masses and the consequences of crying wolf too often, in the context of Peak Oil and the future. More good writing and insight from this excellent blog. Excerpts below.

Link: The Archdruid Report: The Twelfth Hour

Jonathan Edwards’ harrowing 1741 sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God … bent all his talents to the task of convincing his listeners that as they sat their in their pews, right then and there, the ground might suddenly open up beneath them and drop them screaming and flailing into the jaws of eternal damnation.

It was a great success at the time. Like so many preachers before and since, though, Edwards discovered the homely moral of the story of the boy who cried wolf: you can only scare the stuffing out of people in the same way so many times before the impact wears off, and your listeners become irritated or, worse yet, bored. Few things in popular culture have less cachet than last year’s imminent disasters.

That’s the hidden downside of the story of the eleventh hour. When you’ve told the same story often enough, people become used to the fact that you’ll be back again shortly with another catastrophe du jour, and another one after that, and so on. They stop being scared and become irritated or, worse yet, bored. At that point it doesn’t matter how many more changes you ring on the story or how colorfully you describe this year’s imminent disaster, because they’ve learned to recognize the narrative as narrative – and, not uncommonly, they’ve learned to glimpse whatever agenda lies behind the story and motivates the people who tell it.

The awkward conversation about Peak Oil in today’s industrial societies, I’m convinced, cannot be understood at all unless the spreading effect of these paired recognitions is taken into account. For decades now our collective discourse has been filled to overflowing with competing renditions of the story of the eleventh hour, from every imaginable point on the political and cultural spectrum. Whether it’s the missile gap or the ozone layer, fiat currencies or emerging viruses, immigration policy or trade deficits or the antics of whatever set of clowns is piling into or out of the executive branch this season, somebody or other is presenting it as a source of imminent disaster from which, at the eleventh hour, their proposals can save us.

The irony here, and it’s as rich as it is bitter, is that this is one of the cases where the crisis is real. Depending on how you measure it – with or without natural gas liquids, oil-sands products, and other marginal sources of quasipetroleum fuel – world oil production peaked in 2005 or 2006 and, despite record prices and massive drilling programs in the Middle East and elsewhere, has been slipping down the far side of Hubbert’s peak ever since. Dozens of countries in the nonindustrial world are already struggling with desperate shortages of petroleum products, while the industrial world’s attempts to stave off trouble by pouring its food supply into its gas tanks via ethanol and biodiesel have succeeded mostly in launching food prices on a stratospheric trajectory from which they show no signs of returning any time soon.

Does this mean that we’re finally, for real, at the eleventh hour? That’s the richest and most bitter irony of all. As Robert Hirsch and his colleagues pointed out not long ago in a crucial study, the only way to respond effectively to Peak Oil on a national scale, and stave off massive economic and social disruptions, is to start preparations twenty years before the arrival of peak petroleum production. The eleventh hour, in other words, came and went in 1986, and no amount of pressure, protest, or wishful thinking can make up for the opportunity that was missed then. Listen carefully today and you can hear the sound of the clock tolling twelve, reminding us that the eleventh hour is gone for good.

The problem with this realization, of course, is that the story of the twelfth hour doesn’t make good melodrama.

Scott Adams on Global Warming

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has been reviewing the evidence about global warming and reaches some conclusions. Excerpts below.

Link: The Dilbert Blog: Global Warming – Part 4

1. The earth is getting warmer, and human activity is an important part of it. I base this conclusion on the lack of credible peer reviewed work to the contrary and the mountain of work that confirms human-induced warming. While individual studies might be wrong, it’s extremely unlikely the entire field has been so thoroughly duped.

2. There is plenty of bullshit on both sides of the issue. The people arguing that humans are not causing relatively rapid rises in temperatures are under-informed, misinformed, or suffering from bad thinking and bad analogies.

3. The people who are well-informed about global warming are overstating the case by conflating the well-studied fact of human-created warming with the less-than-certain predictions of what happens because of the extra warming. And there’s a tendency to leave out the “why I might be wrong” parts of the argument. I call that bullshit.

4. The people who say global warming is irrelevant because we should all be recycling and using less fossil fuel for other reasons anyway don’t understand the size of the problem. Ordinary conservation in the industrialized nations won’t put a dent in it.

You know you’re a Green-Neck when…

You get excited when you see a hybrid car.

You like the way solar panels look on the roof of a house.

You download music to your music player instead of buying the CD — because it reduces pollution and waste.

You think people who drive Hummers are stupid.

You don’t use bug spray in your home.

You’d rather plant a bush than elect one.

You feel sorry for trees when they get cut down.

You know intuitively than global warming is real and caused by pollution.

You wonder how the people who run Exxon sleep at night.

You’d rather visit a mountain waterfall than a shopping mall.

You know that trout are the "canaries in the coal mine" for water quality.

You’d like to see the OPEC countries run out of money before they run out of oil.

Your mouth doesn’t salivate when you see a deer.

You hunt bears with a camcorder.

You know Cradle To Cradle does NOT involve babies.

You tinker with the power-saving features of your computer.

You invest in green companies even when their track record doesn’t look good.

You are suspicious about Wal-Mart selling organic food.

You don’t scare a snake in your backyard even when you have a shovel in your hands.

You can’t get all the stuff to be recycled into your car when its time to haul it off.

Green-Necks Unite!!!

Copyright © 2007 The Better Information Group, Inc.

Action Needed on Global Warning

Jeremy Siegel (author Stocks for the Long Run) discusses the possible impact of global warming in his column The Future for Investors at Yahoo! Finance. His biggest concern is that rising oceans would flood major cities. He recommends emissions trading as a market-based solution. Excerpts below.

Link: Action Needed on Global Warning: The Future for Investors – Yahoo! Finance.

The reality of global warming is now accepted by virtually every scientist. And the economic consequences of this warming are going to impact our world much sooner than I had anticipated.

Some of the changes wrought by global warming are favorable. Warmer temperatures increase the growing seasons in Canada and Russia and reduce heating costs in northern climates. However, global warming also increases tropical storms and droughts and could disrupt the Gulf Stream that warms Europe. On balance, the above consequences are negative for the world economy, but not substantially so.

However, there is one consequence of global warming that could be absolutely catastrophic: a significant rise in sea levels due to the melting of the polar icecaps.

Rising Water Levels

There is no question that sea levels are now rising. Both land and sea measurements indicate that sea levels are rising between three and four millimeters a year. At this rate, it would take at least 250 years for the seas to rise one meter. But the rise is unquestionably accelerating and has more than doubled over the last century. In southern Greenland, the country’s largest glacier, Jakobshavn Isbrae, has doubled its rate of slide to the sea between 1997 and 2003, a mere six year period. This glacier alone has contributed 4% to the rise in world sea levels.

And there is no controversy about what would happen to seas levels if the great ice sheets in the polar regions were to melt. The melting of Greenland’s ice would add seven meters to the ocean levels, West Antarctica (where the Larsen B ice-shelf recently broke off, causing glaciers to move two to six times faster into the ocean) would add another six meters, and East Antarctica, would add a devastating 70 meters, submerging almost half of the world’s population.

The scary forecast is that this process could take place in a matter of decades. The last great ice sheet collapse, about 14,000 years ago, sent the seas up a total of 20 meters at the rate of a meter every 20 years for 400 years. We are now seeing rapid melting in Greenland and Antarctica not dissimilar to the sea ice collapse the earth underwent after the last ice age.

If this pattern continues, the seas could be 10 feet higher in a mere 60 years. Of the five largest cities in the United States (New York, LA, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia), only Chicago and my own Philadelphia would not be seriously impacted. (If you think this comforts me, it does not. I would need a boat to reach the second floor of my home on the Jersey shore). And goodbye to New Orleans and trillions of dollars of real estate that lines our coasts. The economic consequences of rising waters would be catastrophic.

The scary forecast is that this process could take place in a matter of decades. The last great ice sheet collapse, about 14,000 years ago, sent the seas up a total of 20 meters at the rate of a meter every 20 years for 400 years. We are now seeing rapid melting in Greenland and Antarctica not dissimilar to the sea ice collapse the earth underwent after the last ice age.

If this pattern continues, the seas could be 10 feet higher in a mere 60 years. Of the five largest cities in the United States (New York, LA, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia), only Chicago and my own Philadelphia would not be seriously impacted. (If you think this comforts me, it does not. I would need a boat to reach the second floor of my home on the Jersey shore). And goodbye to New Orleans and trillions of dollars of real estate that lines our coasts. The economic consequences of rising waters would be catastrophic.

Solving the Problem

Clearly we must stabilize the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Some suggest that it might cost 5% of GDP to do this, but most estimates are much lower, at 1% of GDP, or below. And actions to stabilize CO2 may not require a complete switch into solar, wind, nuclear, or hydrogen-based energy sources. The emissions from coal, the cheapest, dirtiest, and most abundant fossil fuel, can be harnessed by a process called “sequestration,” where emissions from coal plants are captured and stored underground.

I believe that to encourage such technologies, the U.S. and developing nations must take action. The U.S. now emits the most greenhouse emissions, but China and India will soon overtake us. That means that the U.S. must enact its own greenhouse measures (or renegotiate the Kyoto Accords) and use its clout to persuade China and others to participate.

I like the Emission-Trading Scheme adopted by Europe, which limits how much carbon dioxide producers can emit by letting them buy and sell emission credits. Carbon taxes are another possibility, but I don’t like handing the government more revenue. We could impose carbon taxes that are matched by tax reductions elsewhere so that the scheme is revenue neutral.

Successful emission controls programs can benefit us elsewhere. Pollsters tell us that “energy independence” is currently a hot political issue that cuts across all party lines. No one likes to give billions of dollars to oil-rich countries, many run by anti-American dictatorships. On balance, emission controls and energy conservation reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Insurance Policy

There may be only a very small probability that a worst-case scenario that I painted above – the flooding of the world’s coastal regions – will occur. But that’s precisely what insurance is all about. Is it not worthwhile to take necessary measures today to significantly reduce the possibility of this event?

I think so. The fact that scientists have recently confirmed that the Gulf Stream inexplicably came to a halt for 10 days in November 2004 serves as a warning that changes may occur quickly. Let’s take action when the costs of doing so are still manageable.

Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial

The Guardian (UK) describes the letter sent by Britain’s leading scientists to ExxonMobil about efforts to undermine the research that shows that global warming is real. As I wrote in an earlier  post about big tobacco’s denial, this is a familiar scenario — a hugely profitable company trying to protect its profit stream by any means possible.

Britain’s leading scientists have challenged the US oil company ExxonMobil to stop funding groups that attempt to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change.

In an unprecedented step, the Royal Society, Britain’s premier scientific academy, has written to the oil giant to demand that the company withdraws support for dozens of groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".

The scientists also strongly criticise the company’s public statements on global warming, which they describe as "inaccurate and misleading".

The groups, such as the US Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), whose senior figures have described global warming as a myth, are expected to launch a renewed campaign ahead of a major new climate change report. The CEI responded to the recent release of Al Gore’s climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth, with adverts that welcomed increased carbon dioxide pollution. (Link: Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial | EnergyBulletin.net | Peak Oil News Clearinghouse)

Exxon’s behavior is consistently arrogant: they still haven’t paid the fine for the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989. In 1994, courts ordered Exxon to pay $5.3 billion in compensatory damages to fishers, Native Americans, and others whose lives and livelihoods were disrupted by the spill. So far, however, Exxon has refused to pay the judgment, stalling by filing appeals while the Alaskans must overcome their financial losses from their own pockets. Even if Exxon is eventually required to pay the fine plus late fees, it will profit financially by holding on to the money and earning interest on it as long as possible. In January 2006, Exxon Mobil Corp. posted record profits of $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and $36.13 billion for the year — the largest annual reported net income in U.S. history.

Surprisingly, I did find some good news about Exxon: it has contributed to an effort to save the endangered real-life counterparts of Exxon’s animated mascot. Exxon states on its web site that: "Exxon and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization, joined forces in 1995 to launch the Save The Tiger Fund. The fund is an international effort to help save Asia’s dwindling populations of tigers in the wild. Exxon has pledged $9 million over eight years to tiger conservation." Interestingly, one of the greatest threats to tiger survival is habitat loss, a problem exacerbated by the biological stresses of global warming. (I like to see Tiger Woods honor his namesake with some financial aid and supportive publicity.)

Siberian Tiger (P. tigris altaica)

Who Needs Oil, We Have COAL

Here’s an excerpt from a presentation at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) by Jeremy Leggett, who worked in the oil industry until 1996.

Link: Transition Culture » ASPO 5. Jeremy Leggett Intertwines Peak Oil and Climate Change..

The tipping point in terms of climate is 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This is the point of no return. We look set to go soaring through that. We need a mass withdrawl from carbon emissions. We must leave the coal in the ground. The bottom line is that coal is the killer. We have plenty of it, and we do have the option of seeing if every Government research lab IN THE WORLD is wrong. If we panic and use coal it will be our epitaph.