Monday, September 28, 2009

Quand le superflu passe avant l'essentiel

"Comment se résigner, quand on voit que le superflu des uns est sans limites, alors que l'essentiel des autres n'est même pas satisfait?"

Bande-annonce du Syndrôme du Titanic, de Nicolas Hulot et Jean-Albert Lièvre.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The carbon pie

A good explanation and discussion of the concept of carbon pie:

"Yet any realistic solution to the climate problem will have to resolve that conflict between the powerful drive to use fossil fuels and the real threat CO2 poses. One way to get an idea of both the scale of the problem and of what an equitable solution might look like is to think in terms of a "carbon pie". The pie represents the amount of CO2 we could still put into the atmosphere without disastrous effects. Its size is not easy to specify. We don't really know at what level the CO2 concentration will become truly dangerous - at what threshold the climate might shift so that rapid melting of the ice sheets becomes unavoidable, say, or the intensity of the drought in the American West is incompatible with the civilization we have built there. James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, puts the threshold at 450 parts per million. The Goddard climate model predicts a one-degree-Celsius warming from that concentration, and Hansen thinks a global average temperature one degree warmer than today is enough to threaten the long-term stability of the ice sheets.[...]
The drawback to setting that as a goal, however, is that it is probably not attainable.[...]
A more realistic goal would be 560 ppm - a doubling of pre-industrial CO2 - for which the middle-of-the-range climate-model forecast is a warming of three degrees Celsius. That would give us a carbon pie of 720 gigatons. How should the pie be sliced? The most equitable way would be for each country to get a slice proportional in size to its population. The industrialized countries as a group would then get around 20 percent of the pie, or 144 gigatons. At present they are emitting nearly 5 gigatons a year; at that rate, they will have eaten their pie in less than thirty years. Three decades to reduce their CO2 emissions to zero: that gives an idea of the challenge those countries face, if they want to take full responsibility for the consequences of their prosperity and do as much as possible - though much less than some researchers advocate - to protect the planet from dangerous climate change.
Clearly, the industrialized countries are not going to reduce their carbon emissions to zero in thirty years. Most of them are not even going to meet their much less challenging obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, which calls on them to reduce their emissions by 2012 to below the 1990 levels - on average 5 percent below. The United States, which signed but never ratified the 1997 protocol, has not even tried to reduce its CO2 emissions [...]. At the same time, one of the great shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol, which conservative climate skeptics have stressed and which has become starkly evident in recent years, is that it placed no obligations on developing countries.
The carbon pie suggests a conceptual way out of this dilemma. It dramatizes the reality that any solution to the climate problem is going to require an overarching deal between industrialized and developing countries. In essence, the former will have to buy extra pieces of pie from the latter, to avoid the choice between protecting climate and torpedoing their economies. In return, the developing countries will get some kind of help with developing - ideally, in a way that helps alleviate rather than aggravate the CO2 problem. The bigger slices of pie that an equitable division would allot them would also allow them to use more fossil fuels for longer - which will in itself be an essential component of their development."

Wallace Broecker and Robert Kunzig, "CO2 - Fixing Climate", chapter "Green is not enough".

I think if such an agreement were reached at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December, it would be a very good thing both for reducing the threats of global warming (although one can argue that if we choose a limit above the threshold at which climate change becomes dangerous for our civilization, then our efforts will be vain) and for helping the developing countries to get most of its people out of poverty, by transferring some of the riches the industrialized countries have gathered thanks to fossil fuels to those who have not yet enjoyed their benefits. But let's hope that these people don't follow our bad example and pollute as much as we did as they are developing. We therefore also need to develop cleaner energy production systems and to transfer these technologies to the developing countries as soon as possible!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Don't poke an angry beast!

To all those global warming skeptics who have withdrawn from its denial to diminishing its threats, I would like to quote this:

"There is no proof that global warming will cause a megadrought, or a sudden sea-level rise for that matter. There is only a reasonable argument based on common sense - and on a metaphor. We have learned that Earth's climate has been capable of megadroughts and other extreme and abrupt fluctuations in the past, when given only a small push by the sun or by the Milankovic cycles. It seems prudent to avoid giving climate a big push. If you're in a tippy canoe, you shouldn't dance - that's Richard Alley's version of the metaphor. If you're living with an angry beast, you shouldn't poke it with a sharp stick - that's Broecker's own favorite."

Wallace Broecker and Robert Kunzig, "CO2 - Fixing Climate", chapter "The drying of the future".

Friday, September 11, 2009


"He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts."

Samuel Johnson, quoted by Ram Dass, Remember: Be Here Now, chapter "Cookbook for a sacred life", section "Drop out / cop out".

Monday, September 7, 2009

Let it go

"By letting it go it all gets done
The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try
The world is then beyond the winning."

Quotation from Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu) by Ram Dass, Remember: Be Here Now, chapter "Cook-book for a sacred life".

It is a bit the same with girls!...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Les vrais alarmistes

"Les scientifiques ont été accusés pendant des années d'être des alarmistes. Mais les vrais alarmistes, ce sont ceux qui disent que l'on ne peut engager une action pour le climat car cela ralentirait la croissance économique".

Ban Ki-moon, secrétaire général de l'ONU, 3e Conférence de l'ONU sur le climat, jeudi 3 septembre 2009 (rapporté par Le Monde).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


"The best I can tell you about karma is:
if you are pure spirit, you are not matter!...
You are that eternal spirit...
If each of us is that very old being...
and not this young body, or this body that is going through this life...
Why don't we remember?
Why don't we remember it all??
Why can't we read the entire Akashic record??

  • Because of our attachments to the physical plane or reality...
  • Because of the power of our identification with our own body-senses and thoughts."

Ram Dass, Remember: Be Here Now, brown pages.