Monday, May 13, 2013

Live blogging Jim Hansen et al.

I'm trying this out as an experiment, will expand as he and others talk. We're at the WEST 2013 Sustainable Silicon Valley Summit. I'll occasionally throw in parenthetical comments.

Their big new thing is a Consensus Statement on Science, seeking endorsers here.

2 degrees C rise = 6 meter (feet? didn't catch it) sea level rise in the long term

Renewables just a small sliver of energy use relative to fossil fuels, can't do it on its own.

Fee and dividend - put cost at mines or point of entry

Start at $10/ton, increase $10 year

Arrgh, he's done already. Okay, on to Anthony Barnosky to discuss impacts

Incredible extinction crisis, this is the sixth. The current extinction rate is faster than anything since the dinosaurs.

90% of big fish are gone. From one to three centuries from now, we'll lose 75% of species will be gone.

40% of land surface is already transformed, and we're going to add another 2.5 billion people to population. Sometime this century the percentage will be 50% plus.

Standard Beijing air pollution reference.

More work days lost to enviro pollution than malarai AIDS and tuberculosis.

(Seems like he's talking about non-climate impacts we're having on environment)

Technology isn't obstacle to solutions. In 50 years we've built enough roads in the US to go around earth twice.

Cooperation from local to global (yes!)

(More below the jump, including Gov. Jerry Brown who's sitting in the audience right now listening to scientists)

Benny Bannerjee

Hyperbolic discounting built into human decisionmaking. (Curious if he thinks that matches financial behavior. The way I'd say it is that we are doing things about climate, just not very much. We could take our current investment on climate mitigation relative to future costs and derive a discount rate)

Successful innovation for long term solutions has to have short term benefits.

Crisis of direction

Technology takes 20-30 years to scale typically, we don't have that much time.

(Seems very simplified discussion, not sure what I'm getting from it.)

Focus on buying time.

Currently driven by growth and financial issues, second is social, only third is environmental.

These three forces pulling globe apart, trick is to get them to realign.

(Lot of people are nodding, guess they're getting more out of his speech than I am.)

(Lots of graphics slides. This one has a d, a triangle, and a b in a line. I think it looks like a face.)

Question time

What key action to change public perception re climate?
   A public outcry. (Well that's a lot of help)
   Hansen - public already understands although fossil fuel industry is deceiving people. Problem is politicians. Need a third, centrist party. Problem is parties whose objective is to perpetuate their existence.
   Barnosky - politicians more likely to listen to constituents than scientists. Some constituents more influential than others (my interpretation - those who care about this should increase its priority in their demand list of politicians. At least he's responsive)

How can scientists be more effective on the policy issue
   Waleed Abdalati - scientists need to advance the conversation, reach the middle group, not just the ones who are already convinced. Should ask why fence sitters feel the way they do.
   Barnosky - talk more to non-scientists.

I think we're getting to Gov Brown now. Some kudos to him for sitting and listening for an hour instead of sailing in, giving comments and sailing out. Okay, he's talking

Says 20-30% of google news is denialist nonsense.

Scientists talking isn't news in American press, so we need a critical mass of cooperation.

(Brown agrees with me that Bannerjee is pretty abstract)

He says he likes to hear from people who say what he believes.

400 ppm got little coverage compared to trivial news that gets covered daily.

Managing your base is important, but you need to convince the swing vote to win. Convince people who are even somewhat hostile.

Have to convince oil company CEOs.

Instead of flight or fight, we're ducking.

(long tangent)

We need to do a lot more than we're doing now. If we're in the same position 5 years ago, it's over.

(clearly passionate about it)

We're not that stupid, we can make things happen.

Long break, back with John Hogan from NASA

Life systems on NASA manned spacecraft similar to challenges on Earth. International Space Station has a dashboard, and we have a similar if not visualized dashboard for earth systems. (Maybe we could use the ISS dashboard and map our current problems to it? Could be an interesting gimmick)

Wes Jackson - I wasn't as interested until I realized he's talking about a perennial grain that they're already harvesting. No-till agriculture for grains would be a huge benefit for climate. More info here.

Wallace Nichols, ocean biologist - enviros argue through fear, shame, and information overload. They should instead use the neuroscience of love. Argues that he worked together with Mexican sea turtle fishermen to engage their love of the ocean to protect turtles.

Kristina Vogt - talking about biochar, one of the rare times people acknowledge its value outside of developing countries.

Okay, I took a break, and I'm going to drop the italics and just give my comments. The business panel in the afternoon is doing a much better job of describing how to motivate people than the climate experts did in the a.m.  Peter Graf of SAP said they convinced people at his company to car share because they had managers and top people do it, so others who wanted to have a chance to talk to those people also had incentive to do it. Michelle McLean from Silver Springs Networks described how an Oklahoma  utility used smart metering to incentivize people shave peak power loading by paying more during peak and less at other times.  Rami Branitzky of Grok said getting action has to be by giving people an immediate and positive rewards.