McKibben: NZ needs to move away from oil and coal

Bill McKibben‘s on the New Zealand leg of his Do The Maths downunder tour, and I got the chance for a quick chat with him earlier today1. Bill lays out the essence of the carbon budget we have to live within if we’re to avoid roaring past 2ºC, explains the carbon finance bubble, discusses China’s approach to renewables, and why NZ should avoid exploiting its oil and coal reserves. See Bill in Dunedin tonight, and Wellington tomorrow.

  1. Rosie the truffle machine would like to apologise for her decision to whimper in the background. []

97 thoughts on “McKibben: NZ needs to move away from oil and coal”

  1. Having been to both, I am pleased to report that the crowd for McKibben’s talk was twice the size and half the average age of that for Monckton’s!

  2. We could easily get rid of coal and make more use of geothermal. If we started to convert our transport to electric it would improve our economy by reducing our fuel imports. It makes good economic sense and an all round winner.

  3. The new math of climate change will need to take non-linear effects into calculation. This will especially need to include non-linear effects affecting food production. This story in the Guardian will become a typical narrative with dire consequences:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/12/farmers-fail-weather-wheat-crop

    The wettest autumn since records began, followed by the coldest spring in 50 years, has devastated British wheat, forcing food manufacturers to import nearly 2.5m tonnes of the crop.

    Even stabilizing AGW at 1 Deg C of average warming will have surprising and inconvenient consequences…. 2 Deg C will look terrible. Anything beyond we will not want to test but probably not be able to avoid, thanks to those forces of society who deny the science or drag their feet for commercial interests.

    1. Here’s a quick quiz for you, Coprolite.

      What’s causing the current huge, meandering oscillations in the Jet Stream?

      Answer – you don’t know.

      What’s the consequence of these arcing oscillations if you’re on A; the pole side, or B; the equatorial side?

      Answer – you don’t know.

      What happens if you combine the above effects with an atmosphere that, being warmer, is both significantly more energetic, and holds significantly more moisture?

      Answer – you don’t know.

      What causes you – and similar ‘Slayer’ types – to mouth off constantly in an arena where you clearly have no grasp of even the basics?

      We don’t know. But for you the answer’s as above.

        1. I know it’s churlishly rude and all, but a melding of both ‘fossilized’ and ‘crap’ seems completely – and irresistably – appropriate.

          Your variation sits well with the ‘blogfly’ meme. They come, they crap, they scarper…

      1. Even though time and time again scientists like Mc Kibbon and Hansen have stressed that the result of this energy imbalance we are creating by emitting GHGs is not going to be a steady warming but rather climate destabilisation, simple-minded literalists always evince great surprise that this could lead to vicious European winters.

        This may well point to a weakness or drawback to the media term ‘global warming,’ which suggest a slow and even temperature rise. Thomas, we can expect the influence of those non-linear feed back effects to increase exponentially, leading to weird weather beyond Copie’s blogfly dreams. Some commentators have used the term ‘global weirding’ to describe this effect. ‘Global heating’ might be more accurate, but would still trip the literalists.

        ‘Climate on steroids’ might be a good one for Copie. An apt metaphor. Buff weather of all kinds.
        By the way, there is an excellent five minute video on Youtube Clearly explaining the Jet Stream oscillations Bill refers to, maybe one of Peter Sinclair’s.
        Perhaps you would like to track it down, Copie, and give us the link.

    2. Copie, the deceptive term ‘global warming’ has lead you astray. Think climate chaos. Think amplified weather. The contradiction you see here is only apparent.

    1. The window cleaner was paying his bimonthly visit, and she likes nothing better than running away with his sponges. She wanted out! At least she didn’t bark…

      1. I was glad to discover I can still hear some high frequencies 🙂

        Havn’t been able to get the Guardian for a while – maybe someone does not like their climate change coverage?

  4. Macro, the point is that 50 years ago the winter was worse, and about 50 years before that was a previous record. The climate and weather is and has always been variable.
    Climate is not like a car crash at an intersection where blame is sought.
    There is no one to blame for climate variability, it has always been variable.

    1. Copie its about time you learned the difference between “climate” and “weather”. It’s also about time you woke up to the fact that humans have poured so much GHG’s into the atmosphere that the resulting increase in energy is causing the change in climate, and the resulting increase in weather extremes.

    1. From Thomas’ Guardian link:

      “Chaudhry, who wrote Pakistan’s climate change policy, authored a report in 2013 that showed the number of heatwaves in Pakistan had increased from 1980 to 2009 and that average temperature in the Indus delta was steadily rising”

      Hardly news to those familiar with climate science – increasing global temperatures result in an intensified hydrological (water) cycle, i.e. more floods and droughts than before. And, of course, warmer average global temperatures result in more frequent and intense heat waves.

      And yes, the Earth has warmed over the last decade – especially the oceans.

    1. Denier logic goes like this: because we have had climate change in the past without human intervention, human’s can’t be causing present climate change. It’s very frustrating when somebody can’t see through the illogic of that. It’s like saying that because bush fires can start naturally, humans can’t start one.

      You can only hold onto this screwy logic as long as you firmly ignore the 30 billion tons of C02 we push into the air. Every year!

  5. About an hour ago, at my place in Mt Roskill we had the heaviest rain we have ever had at this address. Fortunately it did not last long. It was also surprisingly warm. Paths and drives became rivers. Lawns do not have all that much holding capacity after periods of drought then prolonged rain.

    I took the opportunity to scrub an area of concrete clean, the conservatory floor had an inch of water over it which must have annoyed the mouse no end. That water was overflowing from the lid of one of my rainwater tanks.

    At a meeting here on Tuesday night the subject of heavy rain arose. I forecast that the typical 80 mm downpipe was going to have to be replaced by 100 mm pipes, guttering too. Both rainwater tanks have 80 mm outlets and both were flooding over their tops as well as all the gutters. I suspect some UV weakened gutter clips will need replacing.

    On a more general note I’ve been wondering recently about the long term effects on regions of a succession of droughts and floods. Weather reports list so many dead after an event. On that basis heatwaves are probably the number one killers but what about the longer term prospects? I often think of Pakistan with a sucession of large floods following yearly on from their largest ever which inunduted almost their entire food growing area. Pledges of aid were not met. Pakistan is barely reported in our media. Why? Could it be that Taliban, bombings, Islam about which westerners are almost entirely ignorant, add up to an emotional cocktail that means their real needs get ignored. How are they to get out of their infrastructure, social and political problems? Probably never the way things are going.

    1. We had that downpour on Waiheke too. I’ve also noticed how warm the night temperatures have been. Quite scary when you think that nights warming faster than the days is one of the fingerprints of human caused warming.

      Of course, Copie logic would dictate that because we have had warm wet winters and warm winter nights before, we can’t possibly be facing a pattern of increasingly warm wet winters and warm winter nights. Apparently deniers can’t see patterns. Bit of a limitation, I’d say.

    1. Copie, provide one shred of evidence that you belong the species Homo Sapiens and are not just a chat bot programmed to rattle of denier statements from a script.

      1. Tauranga Airport has been frost free for a decade.
        I lived for 25 years in Coatesville just north of Auckland – when we moved onto the land the first year we had hard frosts in May. Good I thought I can plant trees that need winter chilling eg Cherrys. Over the next 20+ years we never had a frost anywhere near the those of the first winter. 2 or 3 degrees about as low as it would go. Now very much anecdotal I admit, but the facts for NZ Copie are contained in the NZ Temp Record – But no doubt you will dispute that!!!

        1. The year I bought my house in Queenstown we had a hard hoar frost on the roof nearly every night for a month before the ski season started. Eight years later when I sold it, there’d been no frost at all even on the ski fields – the expensive snow making gear they’d put in couldn’t be used. But year to year variation can be quite dramatic, you need long term measurements to prove a trend.

        1. Yea, Zombies! Zombloggers…? They attempt to infect others with their diseased memes… after the same (memes) have digested the brain of the infected… to be more precise, its the memes that infected the carrier that want out and want to spread. That’s part of their memetic coding. The first they do is: dissolve the ability of the carrier to carry conflicting memes in their brain. Once that is done, they demand of the carrier to spread them around. Then they turn the carrier into a Zomblogger like Copie.

          http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_dangerous_memes.html

    2. Typical of a lazy fool (or spambot). There’s plenty of evidence in hard data, and papers on the matter. Naturally you wouldn’t bother using any of your time or energy confirming this – you’d rather annoy others by inviting them to waste their time trying to convince you. Please accept my deepest contempt, you ignorant troll.

  6. Here’s a link: http://www.skepticalscience.com/human-fingerprint-in-global-warming.html

    And: http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-we-know-were-causing-global-warming-in-single-graphic.htm

    And:http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2011/8/5/policy-politics/warm-nights-significance-rising-overnight-temperatures

    And:http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/global-warming-heat-waves-yes-rollercoasters-no/

    But my real question for you Copie is this: It took me 3.5 minutes to find these links via a Google search. Why couldn’t you do the same? Do you constantly need to be spoon-fed, or can you look stuff up yourself? As long as you put it on others to do the research, you will never accept the results of that research.

    It’s up to you now Copie to provide evidence that the nights are not warming faster than the days.

  7. Hey Coprie – this is the kind of thing that concerns the grownups.

    Let’s guess shall we; water’s been warm before? Your bath is way hotter than that, and you’re still fine? You don’t really give a toss about the survival of anything beyond yourself, so you’re going to smugly proclaim that all species go extinct sooner-or-later – who cares if most of them happen to do it before 2100?

    See, it’s hardly worth you bothering to comment at all, is it? I’m sure many here will agree…

    Incidentally, the reef ecosystem collapsing would cost QLD $billions in lost revenue. Who do you think they should sue?

    1. On QLD and reef collapse: Our family went on an outing to the reefs around some islands there. One of the boat crew showed tourists the reef through a glass bottom dinghy. He rubbished the idea that the reef was threatened. He pointed to these ‘beautiful white corrals’ and proclaimed they were doing really well and instead of declining they were ‘growing’ as each year there were a lot more of them….
      Snorkeling near the boat, I almost drowned hearing this. Indeed the white corrals he was hovering above looked just as ‘beautiful’ as those in the gift shop at shore….
      Now thats a new meme for Copie: Hey Copie, real corrals are white. Not these dirty ones, covered in some colored stuff, and the good real corrals are spreading! So there! Even the experienced tourist operators in QLD are saying so… and they know a heck of a lot more about their reefs than those labrat scientists who come there once in a blue moon….

  8. Come on Thomas, quoting skepitcal science as an unbiased site is like asking the Turkey what he is doing for Xmas dinner. And quoting someone who says that they have noticed that cloud keeps the nights warmer is hardly news to anyone who has lived in Central Otago, where one can always predict whether there will be a hard frost or not by the cloud cover at night.
    And as for proving that it is getting warmer at night, it is only a few scientists who are trying to convince the rest of the worlds population that mankind is causing change.
    Everyone else knows that Climate is always changing, sometimes better,sometimes worse.

    1. Coprie not need dumb so-called clever-clever brain-hurt take-too-long Science. Coprie just know things. Coprie knows thing Coprie like is true, and thing Coprie not like untrue.

      Simple. Like Coprie.

    2. When Coprie sick, Coprie not wasting money at doctors. They just as dumb as them scientists bunch and talk difficult stuff. Too hard for Coprie. Coprie knows all anyway much better then them. So Coprie just sits and waits until all better. If Coprie really bad, Coprie just prays and perhaps dies. All die one day, always been like that…..

    3. ” it is only a few scientists who are trying to convince the rest of the worlds population that mankind is causing change.”
      Now that statement is an outright falsehood of monumental proportions Copie and CANNOT go unchallenged. It flies in the face of all the facts and if you want proof then look no further than here:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Statements_by_scientific_organizations_of_national_or_international_standing
      Do you dispute the fact that all these scientific organisations around the world represent a large proportion of scientists?
      Furthermore,of over 1300 scientists working in the field of climate science
      ‘(i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.’
      http://www.pnas.org/content/107/27/12107

    4. If climate is always changing then why do atlases bother printing maps of climate zones?
      You are wrong, Copie. Climate does not normally change as rapidly as it has over the last century.
      As for a “few scientists” – define few.
      As for proving nights are getting warmer – don’t you believe what thermometers record?

    1. Provide evidence that what’s happening now is the point, or that you’d show even the slightest willingness to take evidence you don’t like in in any case.

      If you’re not acting in good faith ridicule is the least you can expect.

    2. Copie not go to your silly schools, Copie go to Madrassa or Bible College instead, and learn that all things happen through the Will of God, so why try to understand any further?

      Copie has both God AND common sense on his side, so you’d better watch out, you warmist heretical apostate scum!

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-politics/8123790/Congressman-says-God-will-save-us-from-climate-change.html

      http://www.kingwatch.co.nz/Law_Government/global_climate_change.htm

    3. Coprie is ‘libertarian’. Coprie only care for his own patch and family like good libertarians. Perhaps cares a bit for his country. But Coprie not care for the rest of world. Untited Nations bad bad, care for the good of all. That’s communist ideas. Very bad!
      Coprie just fine in NZ, no matter sea level could rise a meter by 2100, not Copries land involved. Floods, droughts, hunger, destruction, lack of water: not Copries problem. But if fossil fuel price go up to reduce emissions, bad for Coprie. Coprie drives big car. Likes freedom to burn anything Coprie wants.

  9. ” Provide us all with evidence that NZ residents are suffering because of man made global warming!”

    http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/climate/research-projects/risk-of-drought-and-extreme-winds-under-climate-change

    Read it! Over the past decade, the Waikato has suffered 4 droughts, the most severe last summer is calculated to have cost NZ $2 billion.
    When the ENSO shifts from its predominantly La Nina phase (ie Heating of the Oceans rather than the atmosphere) from the past decade or so, to El Nino, expect the frequency and severity of drought in Eastern parts of the country to increase dramatically.

  10. You have to do better than this Macro. Even in my lifetime I have witnessed plenty of droughts, each one broken by rainfall. NZ is about to receive a significant cold front with snowfalls in the next few days. In Britian the climate scientists would describe this as proof of global warming.
    Would you agree with this?

    1. Yes you have Copie! you have seen drought before – but not with the frequency or severity that is now occurring. The weather records of NZ will prove that statement – but then you need to go and look – and not rely on your own inaccurate anecdotal evidence. Even the dairy farmers who want to deny the probability of recurring drought are beginning to make plans for the eventuality – only the foolish will delay; and they will be the ones who bleat the loudest. But this is only the start.
      And you are wrong to suggest that now that it is raining the drought period is of no consequence! Many farmers were forced to dry their cows off long before they had planned, and only those on town supply and with imported food could continue to milk. The economic consequences are still being felt.
      The snow falls are all part of winter and maybe you need to learn that minus 2 degrees is still warmer than minus 4 degrees and yet at both those temperatures you can still have snow. Furthermore at minus 2 degrees you are likely to have more snow.

    2. As for the persistent weather pattens in Europe and Britain – yes this is clear evidence of a change in climate brought about by AGW.
      bill provided you with links to the science that supports this contention above. The dramatic loss of Arctic Ice and the rapid warming in the North Polar regions has lead to a breakdown of the Arctic Oscillation AO with a consequent change in the jet stream in and around the Arctic Circle. This has resulted in blocking events that are the cause of the persistent weather pattens being experienced. We have had a similar blocking event (A persistent area of High Pressure over the Tasman Sea to the North West of NZ) over our recent summer and this resulted in the long period of drought in the NI – the worst on record.

  11. Hey everyone, Copie really got us dancing. Coprie centre of attention! I saw this at Skp Sc with a troll called Andy S who delighted in prodding the ant heap to watch those crazy warmists rush about. We’re wasting our time with this broken record, beating our heads against willful ignorance.

    Just remember that the climate has always been changing so it can’t be changing the way it’s changing, and you won’t get confused by pesky scientists!

    Let’s get on with the more serious business of understanding how climate change is playing out and how it may affect us.

    Coprie getting boring now…

    1. The article you quote Copie is actually about ending drought relief ie Govt subsidies to farmers. It also refers to the need for farmers to be proactive in preparing for future drought.

    2. Copie, you deserve a prize for desperate cherry-picking; here is the take-away from the article you yourself cite:

      “Now is the time to progress drought reform,” Senator Ludwig said in a statement.

      We need to take this opportunity to transition from reacting to crises, to a pro-active policy approach that prepares our farmers for the future,” he said.

      Also FYI, “drought-free for the first time in a decade” does not mean that droughts are becoming less prevalent!

      Global warming increases the risk and severity of both drought and flood, as has been amply demonstrated in Australia recently.

      This emerging pattern of long-term drying across southern Australia, exacerbated by hot days and weeks and periodically interrupted by very intense rainfall and flooding, comes as no surprise to climate scientists. It is entirely consistent with what we expect from a changing climate.

      How will droughts and floods change in the future?

      Again, a long-term perspective is essential. Extended dry periods are expected to increase in southwest and southeast Australia by the end of this century, increasing the risk of drought.

      On the other hand, it is more likely than not that heavy rainfall events will also become more frequent across much of Australia. So when long dry periods are interrupted by welcome periods of wet weather, the rain is more likely to fall as heavy downpours than as extended drizzle.

      http://climatecommission.gov.au/effects/droughts-rainfall-effects/droughts-floods-and-climate-change/

      1. Exactly? What part of this is hard to understand, Copie?

        Here in SA we get a lot of mindless and genuinely reactionary carping on the subject of the (very-expensive) Desalination plant that we built late in the early-21st century mega-drought. I’m not an unalloyed fan of the thing – I reckon we could have looked much more into efficient-use strategies for existing resources; this was clearly aimed at maintaining BAU (not least due to the largely infantile reaction to vitally necessary water-restrictions) – but, seriously, what, there’s not going to be another severe and extended drought in Australia?! Give me a frickin’ break!

        If we hadn’t have built it when the inevitable happens the exact same whiners would be complaining equally loudly that ‘something should have been done’! Some people spend their entire lives as spoiled and irresponsible adolescents, making it virtually impossible to deal with collective-responsibility problems such as AGW and related matters and, sadly I think the phenomenon is only spreading…

        1. Yes I fear for you all over there if the current polling is anything to go by. I find it incredible that Australians want to rush down the “economic” road traveled by NZers by electing another clown prince!

          1. I second the ‘clown prince’! The way AU politics are tending at the present, any hopes of that country being perhaps part of the efforts to limit future carbon releases in the next electoral period(s) are looking as dim as the wit of said prince and his entourage….

            1. Be glad you don’t have to live here!

              We already have reactionary – and that’s what they are – governments in the eastern states opening national parks to grazing, mining, logging, and shooting, including, in some of the mining and grazing instances, reversing previous decisons to remove precisely those rights from the reserves in question!

              (Oh, and closing Departments of Climate Change and downsizing Departments of Environment. Naturally.)

              Birds Australia (now Birdlife Australia) – the most middle-class, apolitical, comfy-slippers environment group imaginable – has become so alarmed its petitioning its members to campaign to get the feds to interfere in this ridiculous process before the change of government.

              If the federal Liberals hadn’t created the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act themselves – it’s the legislation currently most likely to upset state-level plans – I reckon that would be in the gunsights! It may still be…

              The only hope is that The Stupid won’t take the senate. Otherwise we’re about to have a Republican – as in GOP – government from which we will probably never recover.

  12. Bill, I always thought that Australia was the lucky country?
    And I read where your government has abandoned the carbon tax because it has caused the loss of several hundred thousand jobs!

      1. Copie is just like the people we see here.

        Just like them, Copie.

        How anyone could be so feckless that they just make up convenient ‘facts’ out of the air, so arrogant that they then blithely bruit them about in public, and so smugly irresponsible that they are indifferent to the consequences both baffles and appalls me.

        It’d be funny if we weren’t in danger of being overwhelmed by such fools and their idiot notions…

    1. Let’s see now, seems right… I think it was Copie, Dopie, Coprie, Copro…, then, what; Monckey, Wattsie and Dellers?

      Seriously, Copie, what is the excuse for posting a link to something you simply cannot have read? Is it that you just cannot comprehend it? Then why are you sticking your oar into this debate?

      As for Abbott, this piece from WTD that’s up in the Hot Tweets is interesting. I’ve always reckoned he’s a card-carrying, never-say-die, my-faith-beats-your-science nutter myself, but maybe… much will depend on the heralded announcement Obama makes tomorrow(ish), methinks.

      1. Got a good recipe for ‘stewed hat’? 😉
        I feel like I will need to eat an old one of mine if indeed the direction WTD indicates is taken by Abbott. If so, then good on him!

            1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/jun/25/obama-speech-climate-action-plan-disaster1

              …perhaps I only need to eat a small sports cap, certainly not a top hat. Others have put pen to paper and compared Obamas pledges to some hard numbers. And then what sounds all really good, is in fact probably not going to do enough. But at least the ‘deniers’ have been told where the flat earth society is holding their next meeting by the President of the USA…

              Nobody has a monopoly on what is a very hard problem, but I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm. And ultimately, we will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here. (Obama)

            2. “And ultimately, we will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country, on the inaction and obstruction on the way to getting here. (Obama)”

              Fixed it for him.

            1. btw: I worked it all out:

              Obama to Edward: “Hey Edward, you wouldn’t mind hanging low for a bit in the airport in Moscow? I kinda need the lime light on me for a day, I got an important speech coming you know.”

              Edward: “Cool, Bara, read your draft the other day, really good on you! So sure, go for it, besides the Vodka is exceptional here and so is the Caviar…., and now that we got these pesky spooks in a tantrum you can start work on the real problems of the planet. Godspeed! “

  13. I guess that we will all just have to wait and see how the Australian voters vote in the forthcoming ellection.
    Will they vote to keep Gillard and the Carbon Tax!
    Or will they overwhelmingly vote for Abbott and an end to the Carbon Tax.
    What is your prediction, Bill?

    1. Ah, so you do have enough reading comprehension to work out the Government’s position on the Carbon Tax, after all! See, you don’t have to just make it all up!

      Who knows, if you keep honing your skills one day you may even understand the science…

      And I’ve discussed the imminent Abbott ascension plenty of times already with the grown-ups. If Obama follows through on his speech commitments going against the tide of history may well appeal to the kind of silly reactionaries that make things up as they go along, but will it really make strategic and economic sense; that’s the question?

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