Back in 1836, Houston said to Travis
“Get some volunteers and go, Fortify the Alamo.”
Well the men came from Texas, And from old Tennessee
And they joined up with Travis, Just to fight for the right to be free.

Those who defended the Alamo didn’t fight for their own freedom; they were free already. They fought for the right to be, for the right of others to be free. They died for that right.

Something else threatens Texas these days. We saw it in ugly action when hurricane Harvey hit. The floods were the worst ever. If we get so mundane as to look at data, here’s the daily rainfall amounts for the city of Houston:

Not just the heaviest daily rainfall ever, the two heaviest daily rainfall amounts on record, one after the other. Three of the four heaviest rain days on record, one after the other after the other.

Did global warming cause the hurricane? No. Did it make the hurricane worse? Yes.

How many devastating floods has Houston suffered in just the last few years? Too many. Every one of them — every one — was made worse by global warming.

You may have heard, from those who spread misinformation (and are very good at that), that global warming had nothing to do with it. Maybe that global warming doesn’t even exist. That’s a lie.

Global warming is real. It’s man-made. It’s bad. Every time floods come to Houston, global warming makes them worse. The sea itself is higher now, because of global warming, so even without “storm surge” it’s still harder for the flood waters to recede. The flood is worse. There’s more water vapor in the atmosphere, because of global warming. The flood is worse.

The declaration of independence doesn’t just talk about the inalienable right to liberty. It also includes life. Those rights don’t come from government. They are endowed by our creator.

Global warming threatens your right to life, your right to the pursuit of happiness. Who will stand up for our rights? Who will fight for them? Back in 1836, it was men from Texas, and from old Tennessee. Who will answer the call today?

We can fight it. Not with swords or guns. With brains. With sacrifice. With science, and with new technology, brilliant technology. We call it “renewable energy.” It makes us energy independent. It protects creation, takes care of this beautiful garden we call “Earth.” Don’t forget that those who have dominion over the earth, over every fish and every plant and every creature, aren’t the owners who have the right to trash the place. We are stewards of creation. Taking care of this garden is our job. We can’t just exploit every fish and plant and creature, we need to take care of them. Every one.

And don’t forget that global warming doesn’t just threaten Houston, and Texas, and Tennessee. It threatens everyone everywhere. The people of Miami. The people of Bangladesh. The poor, in Africa and even here in the U.S., will be hardest hit. It’s not fair.

Let’s fight for the right to life, to liberty, to the pursuit of happiness. Not just for ourselves, for others too. For everyone. Can Texas lead the way? Yes. Will it be hard? Yes. Can we win? Yes.

If we can do that, if Texas shows the way, those who died at the Alamo will be proud.

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45 responses to “Houston

  1. “We can fight it. …With … “renewable energy.” It makes us energy independent.”

    This statement highlights the oft ignored undertow of climate change arguments. Deniers refuse to accept global warming as real in good part because they intuitively know that the current level of economic activity (“metabolism”) cannot continue if we really stop burning enough carbon—here and everywhere—to support “the American way of life.” However, “The American way of life is not up for negotiations. Period.” President Bush I, 1992.

    Moreover, many credible analyses clearly indicate that “renewable energy” cannot replace the current level of consumption. “Energy independence” cannot occur with supply side solutions; it requires a large reduction in per capita consumption. Or a reduction in the capita (population). Or both.

    • I don’t know that I agree. You are certainly correct that many denialati do think that we ‘need’ fossil fuels and only fossil fuels. And I’m aware of some analyses that question whether RE can ‘replace current level[s] of consumption’–or at least, some pieces of argumentation incorporating some numbers that purport to do so. I’d certainly be interested to have a look at any links you may happen to have handy.

      But given the relative magnitudes of renewable energy potentially available and current energy use, and the relatively unexplored problem space, I don’t think anyone can conclusively say it’s not possible for RE to supply in the future what fossil fuels do today.

      That said, raw energy usage may not be the crucial piece of the puzzle anyway. Sinking our various ‘outputs’ may be more trouble than finding enough energy inputs. So consumption patterns can’t continue the way they are, regardless. We can’t continue to fill the oceans with plastic and carbonic acid; to play Solitaire with the worlds’ biota and fragment its habitat; or to appropriate more and more and more of the planet’s biological productivity to our immediate uses.

      And sure, deniers will deny that, too. All I can say on that score is that this transition isn’t going to be simple. But at least there are signs that it is starting.

      And renewable energy is going to be a good part of it.

    • Yes, a reduction in energy use is vital. But that’s not a message that politicians care to listen to despite its probably being the quickest way to reduce emissions substantially.

      Also, “renewable energy” often refers to the whole infrastructure of making renewable energy (aka wind, sun, etc) available (i.e. diverted) for our use. That infrastructure is not renewable. The only truly renewable energy is food, isn’t it?

      • Food is not a renewable resource. Food requires soil–or another medium to hole nutrients for the crops. It requires clean, salt-free water. Over time, these resources are depleted and in some cases (e.g. when an aquifer dries up) cannot be renewed except over geologic time if ever. It may be that the limiting factor for food production on our planet is phosphorous, and it may not be that long until we reach that limit.

      • Food is not a renewable resource

        It’s as renewable as it gets, so far as life is concerned. How one goes about obtaining that food is a different point but food is definitely renewable, so long as life exists on this planet. Probably the only renewable energy that life can count on, apart from those life forms that can photosynthesize with their bodies, though sunlight is a food source (and not a complete one) to those.

    • I disagree, and as an experiment I tried it. Like many in the USA we have a house on a small lot. We put solar on the roof and for the past 21 months we have generated more energy than we use in the house AND both of our plug-in cars. So what if most homeowners joined me? I think you will find it is possible to become energy independent.

      • Solar on the roof is fine. We have it too. However, it’s not a panacea:
        1) in many parts of the country it cannot possibly produce the same amount of kWh as the grid provides. Only in the SW is the insolation high enough to make this even close to possible. In our case, in Seattle with a great south exposure for the panels, we’re getting maybe a 25% over a year (two households, four adults).
        2) Many if not most claims like DH’s—”we have generated more energy than we use”—ignore external system costs. Production, installation, and maintenance of solar systems require considerable energy. LCAs (life cycle analyses) are difficult to do due to fuzzy system boundaries, but in general it appears that solar in most locations is not able to replace the grid in terms of GHG footprint. There is also the problem of RE (renewable energy) system interface with the existing grid; e.g., here (Washington State), there has been a great deal of conflict between wind generation and the Columbia River hydro system.
        Many analysts conclude that RE is not capable of preserving BAU (business as usual—current level of economic activity). E.g.: “When we start our transition planning by assuming that future Americans will use as much energy as we do now (or even more of it in the case of economic growth), then we have set up conditions that are nearly impossible to design for.” http://www.postcarbon.org/controversy-explodes-over-renewable-energy/

      • “…in many parts of the country [rooftop solar] cannot possibly produce the same amount of kWh as the grid provides. Only in the SW is the insolation high enough to make this even close to possible.”

        Again, I’m a bit skeptical. Here in South Carolina, as in most of the southern and west-central tiers, we get upwards of 5 kWh/m2/day. So if you’ve got, say, 72 m2 of roof–about the size of the roof I hope to put panels on–you could have 360 kWh/m2/day. In the Southwest they get values up to 7 or above, so close to 500 kWh/m2/day for the same area. Better, certainly–but we use between 400 and 900 kWh per *month*. So we’ve got way more potential than we actually use now.

      • Yeah, Doc, but you’ve left out efficiency. You’ll actually be able to harvest between a tenth and a fifth of that. Also, a typical home uses much more power than yours.

      • That’s a fair point about efficiency, Greg, but 10% in our case would still pretty much meet our needs, if I haven’t made an egregious mental math error. And when we build, I expect that we’ll end up with twice the space, and far lower heating and cooling loads (since the existing structure is pretty much uninsulated).

        That may or may not bear on the narrower question of ‘panaceas’, as louploup2 put it, but I think it does indicate that rooftop solar is (or can be) worthwhile across pretty wide swathes of the country.

        Of course, when I talk about insulation und so weiter, I’m kind of making his (and maybe your) point for him, in that it’s a measure to reduce demand by increasing efficiency. But I don’t see that as a controversial question.

  2. Armed with this information, and the premise that it will get worse, not better, a sensible person might realise it’s time to “get out of dodge” and move out of harms way…before you are forced to, similarly Miami, Phoenix etal

  3. Dear Tamino:

    This post is perhaps the most bitterly ironic thing I’ve ever read from you. Texas fought for independence from Mexico so that it could continue slavery. It joined the US as a slave state, seceded from the US as a slave state, and joined the Confederacy and fought in the civil war to perpetuate slavery.

    Little has changed in the mentality of Texans. Those in power are free to do as they wish, and the rest of us endure the consequences.

    [Response: The civil war is over and I’m not interested in looking down my nose on formerly confederate states. Nor do I accept your shallow view of Texas’ independence. Discuss that elsewhere.

    I wouldn’t underestimate the power of “the mentality of Texans” to fight a problem like climate change, head on, enough to give California a run for its money. They’re a hell of a lot smarter than you might think; there’s gold in them thar renewables and Texas is already cashing in on wind power in a big way. And no they haven’t forgotten the flooding of Houston and they’re not stupid.

    I’d like to get ’em on my team. I doubt digging at old wounds will go over very well.]

    • Tamino,
      My wife and here immediate family are refugees from Texas. They are all intellegent, thinking, compassionate people–which made them a persecuted minority in Texas. Texas is a weird place in part because it isn’t really a place so much as a collection of fiefdoms loosely united under an ineffectual state government that provides minimal services. Think: The Holy Roman Empire for the Internet age.
      When my wife was in grade school in TX, they actually taught that the south would rise again in history class. The US history text was about a hundred pages, while the TX history text was about 4 times that thick. The reality-based community has to be eternally vigilant lest the fundies worm their way onto the committees that set curricula. As Faulkner said, “The past isn’t over. It isn’t even past.”

      [Response: Is this how you go about uniting Americans — many of them Texans — to work together? On anything? Is this how you persuade people to acknowledge important truths? Tell them that where they come from, “intellegent, thinking, compassionate people” are a “persecuted minority”? The rest of them are just “fundies”? Show them that we’re superior enough to sneer at them?

      Texans are people. If you think you’re better than they are, be sure to tell them that while we try to persuade them to take global warming more seriously.]

      • Absolutely right, Tamino. Texans are people. People everywhere are people. But it seems we have this desperate drive to be tribal, to associate ourselves with some imaginary group of people and denigrate other groups of people. Unfortunately, the fact that humans are human that has got us into this mess and we need to start recognising that we’re all the same species with, ultimately, the same needs (and recognising the needs of other species, of course) in order to extract ourselves from the mess we’ve created.

      • Tamino, Perhaps, I could have communicated my point better.


        [Response: Perhaps you could have concluded that this post, this blog, my whole purpose, is not about “why TX is so f****d up” (to use your words).

        We could all take a look in the mirror and wondered why WE are “so f****d up.” We should all get rid of the attitudes that enable us to believe that we’re better than other people.

        This blog is about stopping the harm from global warming. Without Texas and Texans, it’s going to be so much harder. Fortunately, they’re human beings, they do care about their kids and their jobs and the food and water supplies and yes, they do care about other people too. And some Texans are on the front lines, working harder and doing more to get the message out than I’m capable of. If we manage to save the world, give more credit to Katharine Hayhoe than to me. Maybe because she knows how to get through to Texans, and a whole lot of Americans who don’t share my liberal political view, so much better than I do.

        The amount, and severity, of anger and hatred spewed forth about Texas and Texans makes me ashamed. Maybe it’s part of the reason that Texans don’t think so highly of the rest of the country.

        When you look down on others, don’t expect them to look up to you. Or help you.]

      • [edit]

        Response: Stop it. Just stop it.]

    • Tamino:

      Those who defended the Alamo didn’t fight for their own freedom; they were free already.

      I wouldn’t gratuitously call loud attention to the contradictions embedded throughout US history here, but one of your blog’s principal appeals is that it’s reality-based. IMHO the Alamo, and the origin of the US state of Texas in a land grab from a weaker neighboring country, are highly mythologized, with all its nuances obscured. Like every other state,Texas today is what it is, however it became that way. And Houstonians must collectively bear their share of responsibility for the aggregate tragedy that befell them this year.

      This is not to say the Alamo’s defenders weren’t courageous men. Nor that your arguments on behalf of modern Texans are inaccurate, though they describe residents of other states equally well. Still, I agree with Francis that your choice of rallying symbol is ironic, if perhaps not ‘bitterly’ so.

      [Response: What’s bitter is the response of my regular readers to my attempt to communicate with Texans, in a way they might actually listen to. They range from insisting I daren’t mention the Alamo because I need a history lesson, to the most vile and vicious insults of Texas and Texans. Some of you are damn lucky I deleted your comments; I would be embarrassed to have such ugliness on public display.

      I’m trying my best to get people to rally around the climate issue because I think it’s crucial to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hope, and I believe, that Texas and Texans can be a powerful ally, leaders in this fight, and we’ll be lucky to have them on our side. I welcome them with open arms. But evidently some of you think it’s far more important to call Texas to task for all its past sins than it is to bring out the best in them.

      Let’s make bitter enemies of even more states, shall we? Why not of the whole country while we’re at it? After all, the whole U.S.A. was nothing but a land grab founded on genocide and institutionalized slavery, right? After we’ve got every state in the union good and pissed off, we’ll be ready to make real progress, won’t we? We must be without sin, ’cause we sure are casting a lot of stones.

      For the first time ever, I am ashamed of my regular blog readership.]

      • Tamino,

        Your blog, your rules, and it’s of no importance to me to call Texas, out of all historical nation-states, to task for all its past sins. I’m not here to cast stones at every Texan, nor do I have any interest in making any more enemies than I already have. If calling on their cherished origin myth will enlist more Texans in the fight against AGW, I’m for it.

        But like many of your readers I’m not a Texan, and the Alamo just doesn’t inspire me the same way. Besides, I’m already fully enlisted by the scientific evidence. For me, science is above all a way of trying really hard not to fool myself. I can still be fooled, but I’d truly be ashamed to let it be by an assiduously curated fable. Just sayin’!

  4. There is a general misconception that fossil fuel energy is low cost and, therefore, helps support our lifestyle. In reality, it’s perhaps the most expensive fuel we can consider burning for energy. For example, the health impacts of burning coal for electricity exceeds the value of the electricity produced… and that is not including climate impacts! The “external” costs of fossil fuels are real and must be paid (as we are seeing with the flooding of Houston and many other impacts). Switching to lower (total) cost renewables will improve the economy because it is the total cost that matters. You might get a bargain price for insulating your house with asbestos, but I suggest you pass on the offer.

  5. Tamino, well I for one am not only impressed, as usual, for this blog entry but very impressed with your responses. I fully agree we need to think globally and not what is best for our “tribe”. We could and should be bigger than a tribe.

  6. Enlisting Texans is fine. Lying about their miserable history is not. Do black Texans feel the same way about the Alamo? I doubt it. It is a historical fact that the “freedom” Texas fought for in its revolution was the freedom to own slaves.

    I spend a lot of time on other blogs arguing with neo-Confederates. Climate deniers and neo-Confederates are my betes noir, and I do not wish to compromise my views on one for the success of the other. Truth matters. Honesty matters. I will gladly talk to Texans–have done so, in fact, since my godparents lived in Houston–but I will not adopt Texas-nationalist lies to do so.

    Will you, Tamino, admit that anything at all was wrong with your initial post, or are you going to put the whole blame for this conflict on your readers?

    [Response: I don’t know much about the history of Texas’ independence. Maybe all the criticism is correct. Is that enough of an “admission” for you? Maybe it’s not — considering the level of hatred spewed forth by those who level these criticisms, I’m skeptical of their objectivity. And they only give one side of the story. There’s more than one, including the fact (yes, fact) that the men who died at the Alamo knew, before the fighting began, that they were going to die.

    But I haven’t criticized anyone for expressing that belief, the closest I’ve come is to call the idea “shallow.” What I have criticized, repeatedly, is the extreme, vile, vicious hatred of Texas and Texans. You — and most readers — have little idea how much and how vile, since I deleted the vast majority of them, and the stuff I’ve let through is on the mild side. It’s been both disgusting and depressing.

    Yes, for that I blame my readers. I also blame myself, I’m the one who got them to be readers. Have I done nothing more than make our “tribe” hate the other “tribe” even more? Is that what I’ve been doing all along? Am I supplying top-notch analysis to arm “our side” with arguments to demonize “their side”? Maybe I am. If the sum total of my accomplishments is to drive the wedge between us even deeper, then it’s time for me to stop.

    Here’s a revelation: I believe that Anthony Watts is not evil. I believe he struggles so much to deny global warming because he truly thinks that belief is a threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I think he’s been fooled by the truly evil (they do exists), I think he’s deluded, I think he’s in denial (and I will continue to call him “denier”). But I also believe that both he and I share common goals: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For everybody.

    Time for soul-searching. I have to decide whether what I’m doing is just driving us further apart. If so, then it is time for me to stop.]

    • Responding to Tamino’s response: Please do not stop! Your analyses are invaluable. What you are experiencing here in response to your post about Texas is a facet of the anger based on fear that more and more people are feeling.

      Yes, criticize readers for generalizing tribal anger. But please don’t deny that our current situation is a result of historical reality, and in the case of the U.S., there is a great deal to be ashamed of. Most modern Americans seem to be oblivious to those aspects of our history, instead living in a hagiographic simulicrum. “Make America Great Again”!

      The intersection of science and policy is difficult. You do a great job (most of the time ;-) Please don’t give up.

      • I agree, please don’t stop, Tamino. Perhaps it’s a strength of the readers that they care so passionately about seeing the truth emerge that they can’t resist commenting on what some might consider tangential subject matter if they regard it as erroneous.

    • IMHO histories are intelligible narratives subjectively compiled from infinitely many threads of actual fact, all rife with moral ambiguity. Alternate narratives are more or less ‘miserable’, depending on who compiles them. IOW, history at every scale is written by the winners. That’s true of my native state of Wisconsin, the United States of America and every local and temporary human polity that ever existed in reality.

      I feel my position is consistent with the mediocrity principle, which is also the philosophical rationale for scientific humility before Nature. IM most humble O, those who reject the mediocrity principle, scientists and non-scientists alike, do so from pride. In many ancient cultural traditions, pride is the deadliest of sins, for it enables all others.

      Science, though limited, is the only method human culture has evolved for explaining the Universe of phenomena, and predicting future events, that’s more successful than divination. Science verifies the aggregate existential threat of AGW; humility demands we not allow collectively curated myths of entitlement to disguise that. Again IMHO, our moral arguments for collective action ought to be founded on that. That was the sole basis of my criticism of Tamino’s reference to the Alamo.

      By the same standard, I take to heart his admonition to judge not, that we be not judged.

      • Good comments.

        Regarding “history at every scale is written by the winners,” I will note that it is surprising sometimes how *losers* manage to write the histories, too–a case in point being Civil War historical revisionism here in the South. The role of slavery in the conflict was long minimized, including in school texts (or so I have been told, at least, by those who unlike myself grew up here). Certainly it is not hard to find folks here who will tell you with utter sincerity that the whole conflict was about “states’ rights.” (Never mind that original documents make quite clear that the ‘right’ in question was the right to hold slaves.)

        A different but related example is French Canada, which fought and succeeded in preserving its own narratives (as well as its distinctive language and culture) despite determined efforts at assimilation over the years since the Conquest in 1759. I’m sure there are many others. Poland, perhaps, which was erased as a nation state for a couple of centuries, but re-emerged in the 20th century?

        Of course, in these cases, it was losers managing to preserve their own narratives for themselves–not to impose them on the winners.

      • “IOW, history at every scale is written by the winners.” As my spouse says, “never say never” because there are always (ha) exceptions. (“Ever” is the mirror of “never.”)

        I believe your statement is largely accurate. However, increasingly over the past century or so voices of reason not owned or controlled by “the winners” have been able to be published, even if not widely heard. Here are a few names of historians that do not reflect the narrative of “the winners” (at least not always or most of the time): Howard Zinn, Immanuel Wallerstein, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Kline, Ian Morris, Mary Louise Pratt, Donald Worster.

        Extending this thought to the world of science (“science and technology at every scale is conducted and produced by the winners”?) a similar dynamic appears; insurgency against ruling paradigms has been increasingly prevalent. Global warming itself is a prime example. The related science issue I allude to in a comment above is the reality of limits to growth and the applicability of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to economic systems.

        Challenges to the current modernist growth driven political-economic narrative started appearing in the published literature in 1798! (Malthus). A couple lesser known authors readers here might find interesting are Ivan Illich (“Energy and Equity”) and Zygmunt Bauman (“Wasted Lives. Modernity and its Outcasts”). Or Wendell Berry’s 2008 accessible essay, “Faustian Economics: Hell hath no limits.”

      • Heh. I was afraid I’d tried to pack too much into “history at every scale is written by the winners”. Doc is correct: losers do write histories. And louploup2’s spouse is a wise person. I’m glad louploup2 mentioned Howard Zinn, as somewhere in the front matter of my paperback edition of A People’s History of the United States, the author declares his intention to write from the point of view of the losers.

        What I had hoped to imply was that winning and losing are seldom absolute, and that losers on one scale may be winners on another. I had the Civil War in mind. The wannabe Confederate States of America was defeated and abolished as an independent nation, and all slaves became nominally free. Yet both inside and outside the former CSA’s borders, white supremacy still hasn’t fully capitulated.

      • Well, it was clearly a fruitful statement!

        I’m interested in ll2’s references. I took a crack at Ivan Illitch a couple of decades back (I don’t remember the title), but didn’t finish the book as I perceived it to be excessively polemical. Maybe it’s time for another look.

      • Doc Snow: I have not read other Illich titles (at least not since the 1970s). I think the basic point of this little book is: “The higher the metabolism of the economy—and especially as expressed in our transportation systems—the more inequity there will be in the politics.” The rest is mostly explanation for why this is so. This principle seems consistent with systems ecology and with recent critiques of capitalism (like Piketty’s Capital).

  7. Since I started this, let me apologize for the diversion. I have been to Texas, though not often, and I have found that the people there are just as complicated, confused and tribal as my fellow Californians. I encourage all Texans and Californians to work toward a common goal of reducing CO2 pollution and saving ourselves from our own worst habits.

    In my defense, what got me started was the following statement: “Those who defended the Alamo … fought … for the right of others to be free.”

    That’s simply not true. Since one of the goals of this blog is to seek the truth, I thought it was worth pointing out the error. Myths drive our self-perception and profoundly influence policy-making at a national level, but when the myths are false we should not be afraid of telling the truth.

    But I was way too quick to condemn current Texans for the sins of their ancestors. Especially since California’s own racial history is just as ugly in many ways (Manzanar is just a couple of hours away from my front door), I should not have cast aspersions on modern Texas.

    [Response: Thank you.

    You’re not the one who started it. You’re just the first whose comment made it past moderation. As critical as you were of Texans, it pales by comparison to some of the ugliness I’ve sent to the trash bin.

    And I know some of those commenters were good people. I almost couldn’t believe some of the things I read from people whose names I knew — I had to check IP addresses to make sure it wasn’t some conspiracy to imitate regular readers. I wish I could blame it on the machinations of the denial machine. But I can’t. I blame it on human frailty, on weaknesses that we all possess, and my creating an environment which made it “OK” to say such things.]

    • Tamino, it’s evident from your OP and your defense of Texans that you are a compassionate man. Your response to Francis’s apology shows you to be a genuine skeptic as well. Those are two reason why I participate in your indispensable blog.

      Another reason is the relatively high signal-to-noise ratio in the comments. Thanks for not sending all criticisms of your reference to the Alamo to the trash bin 8^)!

  8. Amen, Tamino. The tribalism has run way too deep for years. Few are innocent of enabling that, though the frustration with endless BS makes it understandable. Mitigating the problem requires inclusive strategies. It’s not enough to be right if one wants to make a material difference. I welcome your call for a reset on this.

  9. Wow! Go away for the weekend, and all hell breaks loose!

    Well, that’s what it feels like, anyway, even if my presence or absence has nothing really to do with it.

    But I’m very sorry to hear that things got so ugly. However, I don’t think, Tamino, that you are at fault, and I hope you don’t give up on this blog. I have learned so much from it–like many others, I’m quite sure–and there will continue to be a strong need for ‘first class analysis’, as it was put above.

    Some thoughts on this:

    I’m a native Canadian, now living in rural South Carolina. During the special election called to fill Mick Mulvaney’s seat in the House subsequent to his elevation to OMB director, I canvassed for the Democratic candidate, Archie Parnell, and expect to do so again next year. (He’s already declared that he’ll run again.) So I’m spending a lot of effort, in a lot of dimensions, to fight, as I can, to defeat the current Federal regime and its suicidal agenda.

    Those efforts range from interactions here and elsewhere to spread the word about climate change and the potential solutions thereto; to continually educating myself on relevant topics and sharing what I learn; to raising the profile of this issue in my mundane social interactions; to bringing my own lifestyle into better compliance with what is necessary for a sustainable (or at least relatively *more* sustainable) economy; to working to organize opposition to defeat the denial machine and associated forces by networking, joining, supporting and even (against my own personal inclinations) leading groups; and to using my creative and technical skills to create musical art relevant to the issues above.

    (Creative work here–please share if anything seems potentially helpful to you:


    I say all that because I want to emphasize, before I continue, that I am not one of ‘them’–not a Trumpist, not an apologist for denialati, not even a ‘real Southerner’–at least, not the way most people would categorize me (including ‘real Southerners). And all that said, I’ve got to say that there is way too much demonizing of folks based on geography. Recently on the March for Science Facebook page, I was involved in a dustup when I called someone out for attacking Alabama. Yes, Alabama is a deep red state. Yes, Roy Moore may well win the ongoing Senate contest, despite being a liar and a sexual predator. But is it helpful to stereotype all Alabamians?

    Not one but two of my favorite couples in our social circle back in the Atlanta area, where we lived until this year, were native Alabamians. These people are intelligent, aware, compassionate, and insightful in various ways. One man is an avid naturalist and canoeist, an outdoorsman whom I have also heard put into eloquent words how nature healed him when his body and spirit had been badly broken in a horrible motor accident. One woman is an educator, and a beautiful singer who has always shared her talent with her community, and nurtured the talents of others, too. One man is among the most dedicated people I’ve ever met to the art of respectful listening and nonviolent, non-coercive interactions and relations. One woman is a tireless community organizer supporter and worker, a calm and wise presence, and (like the other three) a devoted, loving and effective parent.

    In case it isn’t already obvious, let me say that I have the highest regard for all of them. The only thing accomplished, in my opinion, by stereotyping Alabamians is to obfuscate the existence of people like my friends. And what, exactly, is the utility of that?

    As I see it, one of the aspects of the ‘original sin’ that is racism is intellectual laziness–to base one’s evaluations of people, not on characteristics that are the most operationally relevant, but ones that are most easily observed. Geographic stereotyping is only one step above, in that pretty much anyone can observe skin color and physiognomy, but there are a few people tone deaf enough that they can’t recognize a regional accent. On the other hand, geographic stereotyping seems to be relatively more socially acceptable, as I observed in the March for Science interaction–and as I’ve been observing it, actually, for the entire 28 years that I’ve been living as a Northerner in the South.

    And in the age of Trump, I have to say that I don’t think that it’s helping anything: not the South, not the North, not America, and certainly not the cause of saving the planet from a really nasty episode of climate change.

    I agree that this is all about “human frailty.” It’s true that Texas is “F*cked up”, but only because all humans are–me, thee, and even those friends I praised so sincerely above. One of the dimensions of our common frailty is lashing out when we are frightened.

    And these are damn scary times.

    So it’s all the more important to hold hard onto our reserves of courage and fortitude and hope. That’s how we can, sometimes at least, remain calm enough to listen, calm enough to respect, and yes, calm enough and determined enough to continue to organize and resist, and–respectfully but firmly–tell it like it is, as best as we can discern it or learn it.

    I believe that–even when I’m too “F*cked up” to actually follow my own advice. You know those times are going to come. But you also know that you can always get up again and get back on that damn horse–if I may presume to a vaguely Texan metaphor.

  10. Tangentially relevant: Laurence Tubiana, just asked on 24 Hours of Reality why Paris worked (in terms of getting a near-universal agreement) where earlier attempts failed, said that in her opinion a large part of that was that every nation felt heard within the process.


  11. Houston, we have separation.

  12. I see from Doc Snow’s graph that Louploup2 lives in the section of the USA that receives the least amount of solar energy. Everywhere else (even Maine) would be better than his house. It is interesting to see that Hawaii has low solar potential (presumably due to clouds) but it has high solar penetration because their utility electricity is so expensive.

    Keep in mind that when everyone switches to electric cars run from renewable energy that they will use only about half of the energy that they currently use. The primary reason for that is that internal combustion engines waste over 60% of the energy in the fuel while electric motors are over 90% efficient.

    • Yeah, it can get depressing around here by February. I think the coarse scale map is a little misleading. There’s a large rain shadow on the NE corner of the Olympic Mountains (about 10 inches precip annually at its center!). Even Seattle is not as bad as further up Sound (like Olympia). See http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/publications/fulltext/Hydraulics/WaMeanAnnPrecip.pdf

      Regarding electric cars, do you have references that include full life cycle GHG footprint for EVs to compare? I’ve read so many conflicting analyses it’s difficult to know what is real. I know electric motors are way more efficient than ICE, but is replacing SOVs pushed by oil with SOVs of any kind really where we want to go? There’s a quote at the beginning of the Illich book I cited: “Socialism can only be reached by bicycle.” I know “socialism” can be a lightening rod, so just think “democracy and equity.”

      • Yes, for actual design one would want more like a *county* scale map.

        “…is replacing SOVs pushed by oil with SOVs of any kind really where we want to go?”

        Well, I for one would say no, but I have a long history of having my prescriptions ignored. I will say that I find Tony Seba’s analysis of one possible future for mobility intriguing:

        Click to access RethinkX+Report_050917+(1).pdf

  13. louploup2 I disagree, we are in NE Tennessee far from the ideal SW. The system has been producing power for over 4 years now, with one minor repair that I was able to make myself. Installation was done in 2 1/2 days by a team of 3 people. Hardly a herculean effort. Solar can work and work well.

    • I didn’t say solar doesn’t work. I said solar cannot by itself replace the level and quality (timing) of energy needed to maintain current economic metabolism (energy flux needed to maintain business as usual—BAU).

  14. Mike Roberts (December 3, 2017 at 10:55 pm)
    You are wrong. Modern agriculture is certainly not renewable.

    Certainly, the primary energy source, and its store; glucose and related compounds is renewable. However, the processes of life require a set of other elements, most of which are found in the soil.These essential elements are a finite resource and they are not equally distributed.

    Modern agriculture is essentially a mining operation. Some types of soils, (Calcium montmorillonite based soils are the best example) facilitate ion transfer, hence the fertility life of the soil is extended, even then however, it is not infinite.

    In my home country, Australia, despite having generally low nutrient soils, has long engaged in the madness of being a large scale food exporter. As a result, the proportion productive agricultural land is declining. In parts of Wheat growing areas, the phosphate response is failing, that means that in spite of the additional phosphate, the other essential elements have been depleted and plants cannot make use of the added phosphate.

    • Lawrence,

      I didn’t say that modern agriculture was renewable, so I don’t have much to say about the rest of your reply.

      I hate it when people misrepresent what others say.

      • Mike, I do not think I have misrepresented you as much as you think. I suspect that your abstraction defining the term: “food”, is is too far removed from how it is produced.

        My term “modern agriculture” refers to the practice of growing food and consuming it far from where it is produced. For example; the ancient Romans practised “modern agriculture” as I define it. The New Guinean highlanders and Native Amazonian People are examples of “old agriculture”.

      • Lawrence, I agree with your view of modern agriculture. All I’m saying that food, in the general sense, is the only renewable resource we have. It can be produced in a non-renewable way, of course, but no life would exist if were not possible for food to grow in a renewable way. Most so-called renewable energy requires non-renewable infrastructure and some may also have other negative environmental impacts.