Gigadenial

It takes gigadenial to believe gigafactories will save us.

Isn’t it interesting that the only scenario that might keep us below an extinction threatening 4-6 degrees C, and the only scenario that is probable, namely economic collapse, is the only scenario that climate scientists have not studied?

Economic collapse is an important scenario to study because most people in the developed world consume far more of everything than is required to subsist and therefore could survive some level of economic collapse.

On the other hand, most people will not survive if economic growth continues as desired (or even if growth slows) because the size of our economy is creating a climate incompatible with civilization.

Economic collapse will cut CO2 emissions (good) but also sun blocking pollution (bad). It’s not clear which force is the most powerful. This means economic collapse could save us, or it could make things worse.

It would be useful to know if economic collapse is on balance good or bad when we are asked to vote for candidates that promise to continue to print money to avoid collapse.

In case you are not aware, the amount of money printed by central banks to prop up assets recently increased to about $300,000,000,000 per month worldwide. That’s about $1.50 per day for every person on the planet conjured out of thin air, and is the only reason things seem to be sort of ok, and why real estate and stocks continue to rise despite poor fundamentals.

Unfortunately the printed money is not increasing the incomes of the poor and middle class because of reasons associated with the depletion of inexpensive fossil energy that are discussed elsewhere on this blog.

Rising asset prices and stagnant incomes means the wealth gap between the rich and poor is widening which is causing social unrest to build as demonstrated by recent unexpected election and referendum outcomes around the world.

It’s an open question rooted in emotions and herd behavior as to how much longer money printing will stave off economic collapse.

6 thoughts on “Gigadenial”

  1. IPCC RCP 2.6 in AR5 provides a scenario for global civilization collapse beginning in 2020 and reaching totality c. 2070 (zero emissions, land use change or other anthropogenic forcings). The result is 2.3°C.

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    1. Thanks. I will read up on this model. Do you know if they consider the loss of global dimming? Some people more knowledgeable than me think the warming force from the loss of global dimming will be much stronger than the cooling force from reduced CO2.

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      1. RCP 2.6 is causality neutral in that it could be a gentle, managed degrowth or a Seneca cliff but the effect is the same. Global dimming has been studied by IPCC and quantified. Most people also miss the Working Group I report in AR5, at 6.5, that looks at what happens when carbon in the atmosphere tries to decline when no more is coming from civilization. It discovers it can’t. The ocean has become supersaturated with carbon and will outgas to essentially negate any drawdown. We know a lot about how to add carbon to the atmosphere, but virtually nothing about how to remove it. In addition to loss of dimming, we also have to deal with the flywheel that has been created by the lag time for carbon and climate to reach equilibrium. Seas at equilibrium with 410 ppm are many meters higher than present, temperatures are much higher, and ice is far scarcer. That is all still in the pipeline for the next many centuries whether RCP 2.6 is tracked or not. Anything else is worse. In my book, The Paris Agreement, I look at the research of Tom Goreau and David Wasdell that delves into these areas.

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        1. Thank you for explaining. Perhaps citizens have intuited that it’s too late and the best course of action is to party on. I personally think there are degrees of bad and we should be reducing the size of our economy, not only for climate change, but also for many other problems associated with human overshoot.

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          1. Unfortunately the global economic system is built on growth. It can not survive de-growth. Therefore an global system wide crash is inevitable.

            References to prove a global collapse, and bottleneck, will end this overshoot are Feastas David Korowicz work on the interdependancy of the global economy which delivers diesel, food, raw materials and spare parts. Also Tim Garretts work on thermodynamics, the laws of nature, tells us its going to be a global collapse.

            No de-growth for us. Nor a steady state economy. What awaits us is a collapse and a bottleneck never seen before in the history of our species. If we are lucky, really really lucky, then 1 in 1000 people will survive. But as climate change goes forward, without proper knowledge in artificial habitat building and irrigation methods, with all of the survivors, combined with wet bulp temperatures in the tropics, our species could even face extinction.

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