Will it end with a paperclip maximizer? Or a permafrost refrigerator

you know the thought experiment by Svedish philosopher Bostrom, teach an AGI to maximize paperclip production and it will fagocitate the world unless you teach him/her/it ethics, human “values” and not values

But then you discover that an oil compay want to refrigerate the ground in order to save the permafrost that thaws due to fossil emissions https://grist.org/energy/the-irony-conocophillips-plans-to-freeze-thawing-permafr

imagine how much permafrost in the norther hemisphere is foundation to roads, houses, plants, pipeline, lines. Here is a map from the good The Arctic by Dodds and Woodward

so here you have a perfect doomsday machine without having to resort to mithical AGI’s, perfect economic logic of nowadays oilmen and, executives and politicians. Pump more oil in order to keep pumping oil, pump some more to keep houses standing and roads open, fossil emissions will raise temperatures even further, ramp up oil production and keep going to 5 degrees warming, and pumop more to 10 degrees warming and then checkout what’s left of our civilization

The Permafrost Refrigerator is a thought experiment by a 1500 pound goat, not a swedish philospher, though it sounds more real than the paperclip maximizer

Fascismo Fossile e Nuovo Negazionismo

Clima politco, o politica del clima a partire da 2 screenshot. Prove di fascismo fossile, definizione di fascismo fossile per Malm è derivativa, la convergenza di interessi dell’economia fossile ed estrema destra. Le dichiarazioni di Scaroni quanto appellano all’estrema destra italiana? Almeno paternalismo. (da articolo ilfoglio su intervento Scaroni ad Atreju, dicembre 2021)

Anche il ministro CIngolani si mostra paternalista, ma peggio un negazionista raffinato, di nuova generazione. La colpa del riscaldamento globale è colpa dei ragazzi che abusano dei social ? Nice try, dati sbagliati e negazionismo di nova generazione, invece di negare il cambiamento climatico, si cerca di addebitarlo ai comportamenti individuali, schermando gli interessi economici. Good boy Cingolani, effendi Scaroni sarà compiaciuto. Grazie Michael E Mann per raccontarci le tecnioche di disinformazione del capitale fossile in Climate Wars

CERN for Climate Science

current models resolution too coarse, 100km boxes make impossbile to model clouds and essentially climate swing in mid latitudes, we really do not how to estimate the effects of warming arctic and reduced temperature gradient bewteen the arctic and the equator

CERN for climate, the idea must be her, Sabine Hossenfelder, physicist. Editorial on SCIAM https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/seeking-certainty-on-climate-change-how-much-is-enough/

paper by climatologist Tim Palmer https://www.pnas.org/content/116/49/24390#boxed-text-1

Worth following, makes a lot of sense and would be a great tech challenge, climate models with 1 km resolutions

“current global climate models can’t represent cloud systems using the laws of physics because the grid spacing is too coarse (a hundred kilometers or more)” (..) “Because of the simplified representations of clouds, (current climate models tend to systematically misplace the principal regions in the tropics, known as the intertropical convergence zones, where rainfall occurs. Iin midlatitudes, the models underestimate the number of long-lived high-pressure systems known as anticyclones, which are associated with heat waves, forest fires and drought. All of these errors are typically at least as large as the climate-change signals the models attempt to simulate.” (..)

“The consequence of our inability to model essential climate processes very accurately is that we cannot correctly simulate extreme weather and climate events. The horrendous weather events of 2021—the near-50-degree-Celsius heat in British Columbia and the devastating flooding in the Eifel region in Germany, China’s province of Henan and New York City—are completely outside the range of what current-generation climate models can simulate.”

On the cahllenge of managing the growing trove of climate data https://www.wsj.com/articles/climate-change-data-deluge-has-scientists-scrambling-for-solutions-11638720016

“Satellites are key to the story. As of last September, government agencies and private companies had about 900 Earth-orbiting satellites gathering data about our planet, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. That is almost three times as many as were aloft in 2008. More are being readied for launch.”

Dendritic cities getting a living from the sun

“What if we put food autonomy at the centre of urban design? In fact, what if we learned to see cities as vegetative surfaces with hyphae of structure embedded in them, rather than the reverse?

These vegetative surfaces could not be gardens or farms, nor could they be like greenhouses or precision vertical farms. The strategy underlying all of these is one of simplification in the service of scale: you select the things you want to grow, then you create a biome consisting of just those things. But recent events suggest we have exceeded the limits of marginal return to scale. (..)

The work of fashioning such a biome would bear comparison to that undertaken by the first human colonists of Australia, who used fire to create a landscape conducive to foraging – more nudging than cultivating. But it would have a vertical element. Tending these – what to call them? hanging forests? – would be a basic feature of urban life and not the remit of invisible low-wage specialists. A society where everyone was obliged to keep a hand in the basic work of getting a living from the Sun would be more resilient (..)”

City that Grow Themselves


(quoted here Milanovic and Sahlins)

Climate crisis, private capital, socialized risk

GFANZ: “The Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) was launched in April and chaired by the UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, Mark Carney, a former governor of the Bank of England and the Finance Adviser of the United Kingdom Prime Minister for COP26. Now consisting of more than 450 banks, insurers and investment managers from 45 countries (..) “It includes such familiar names as BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Bank of America, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and the like. The total assets of the GFANG members is about $130 trillion, with $63 trillion coming from banks, $57 trillion from investment managers and $10 trillion from asset owners such as pension funds “

clarification “the Lex team of the Financial Times intervened and clarified that $130 trillion is not ready funds but the total assets managed by member financial institutions of the GFANZ”

so much boasting, little less substantial committments, it is clearly a bait for governments who do not want to pay the polical costs of decarbonization at home, so would accept a “helping hand” from investors. Quotes from this great article Climate crisis, global debt, and the Fermi paradox – a proposal to the IMF

So, where is the catch ? Private investors in GFANZ want to get government guarantees in order to “derisk” their own investments, so social risk and private gain, something we have already heard of, think global crisis in 2008. Derisking is punt under the spotlight by economist Daniela Gabor as the new Washingotn Consensus, the guiding idea on internation monetary institutions in tackling the climate emergency, without tackling the inequality behind it. Here on the Guardian: Private finance won’t decarbonise our economies – but the ‘big green state’ can

Post scriptum: I think it is relevant to add here Policy Tensor’s post on funding the transition with public money, it has a lot of data on the cost of risky green projects in less developed countries, rightly say that we are back to the development themes of the 60’s of the 20th century, he offers a stark analysis of the geopolitical situations and calls for US to “securitize” the transition issue, which isn’t per se a good thing, sorta calling for a war posture.

BTW he sort of dissent with Gabor, derisking might be needed but the process should not be left in the hands of the blackrocks

Is it feasible to publicly fund the global energy transition?


Will Venice survive climate change?

I asked it to google and here some links I found

generally the answer seems no, in 2100 sea level will rise and the mose dam won’t save Venice

“The imminent death of Venice due to sea-level rise is barely mentioned in Italy, and yet as long ago as 2010, its most respected marine scientists (ISMAR-CNR) spelled it out: the mobile barriers between the Adriatic and the lagoon known as Mose will be able to stop the flooding for a few decades, but “the sea will eventually rise to a level where even continuous closures will not be able to protect the city from flooding. The question is not if this will happen, only when it will happen”. https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2021/07/21/the-ipccs-predictions-of-sea-level-rise-are-why-italy-should-beg-unesco-to-put-venice-on-its-at-risk-list

‘You’re Responding to Yesterday’s Disasters’: The $6 Billion Floodgates of Venice May Not Be Enough “The sea level is rising higher in the Adriatic’s cul de sac than in other parts of the world; the city is dropping slowly but steadily into the wave (by ten inches during the 20th century) because it’s compacting the ancient sediment it sits on and also because nearby industries pumped out groundwater for decades; and immense cruise ships entering the lagoon act like a high-speed version of climate change, pummeling buildings’ foundations with their wakes”

“its homes aren’t hooked up toa modern sewage system, for instance. Whatever comes out goes into the canals, untreated, and festers in the lagoon’s shallows until the tides wash it away into the Adriatic, twice a day. Activating MOSE blocks that flushing action. In effect, it’s the regional-scale equivalent of a backed-up toilet. The result is tolerable if it gets pressed into service now and then, less so if the gates to the lagoon are shut on a regular basis.”

one definition of climate justice

the top 1% should reduce emissions by a factor of 30 (to 1/30th of current level) in order to have the bottom 50% treble their emissions (the numbers behind this are well explained here https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20211025-climate-how-to-make-the-rich-pay-for-their-carbon-emissions)

Johan Rockstrom at COP26 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW4fPXzX1S0&list=LL&index=3&t=16s

Johan presents 10 takeouts from the IPCC report which negotiators should keep in mind in Glasgow

Linear cuts of 2 billion Gton a year to have some chance to meet the 1.5 degrees target, 4 billions Gton a year to be fairly sure to meet it

Global warming is human-made, some global warming gases are camuoflaging as beneficial aerosol but in the end are contributing to the co2 balance, this is a critical situation.

Megafires will be the new normal, and so marine life and habitat destruction

Risk of tipping points decrease at 1.5 degrees, increases at higher temps, beware of possible cascading of tipping points: cold water from the arctic into the atlantic, the amazon burns due to failing monsoons, warmer seas disintegrate the antartica shel, sea level rise. This is just one of many.

Btw, carbon markets now cover 20% of emissions but prices are high enough only in Europe

expanding on the concept of climate justice, there is a great substack by adam tooze which delves into the theme of inequality, there s great inequality between countries in emissions, but there is a bigger emissions inequality within countries, so tackling climate change requires also tackling income and wealth inequality. Case in point, emission growth in Far East is led by China, and China has higher Gini than the US; funny enough for a “communist” country https://adamtooze.substack.com/p/chartbook-newsletter-24

So, the problem is the top 10% who commands half of the world income and prodice half of the world emissions, a curve showing this dubbed the Dinosaur curve

Branko Milanovic, who is a scholar in economic inequality, focus on the 10% habit of flying arond the world and does a thought experiment: in 2020, due to coronavirus, flights were only 60% of 2019, so there is a way to keep people from flying, taxes, permits, whatever is doable. Unemployemnt in the industry, slump in tourism revenues worldwide, holidays flow will rearrange and with some govermnet money, things can smoothly become more green. Decarbonizing and averting the worst of global warming requires bold step, limiting air travel should be tried. Read here https://branko2f7.substack.com/p/climate-change-covid-and-global-inequality

out of Glasgow

150 trillion public/private committment to climate crisis, while the paltry 100 billion promised to less developed countries hasn’t been paid out yet. Promesse da marinaio

Daniela Gabor notes that IMF paper on climate crisis quotes 23 time “carbon pricing” and only once “industrial policy”. So imagine IMF finance conditional to setting a price on carbon, imposed on poor countries, reminiscent of stabilization policies in the 80s. Will it work ? Gabor and PolicyTensor doubt it

Daniela Gabor https://www.ft.com/content/1d2dcdc4-4de2-4e87-ab1f-574a32c5e0e2

IMF report https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/Policy-Papers/Issues/2021/07/30/IMF-Strategy-to-Help-Members-Address-Climate-Change-Related-Policy-Challenges-Priorities-463093

Policy Tensor ESG and Carbon Pricing La La Lands

Meanwhile Tooze reviews Andrea Malm and notes: Green New Deal appeals to economic mobilization in WW2 USA, Malm rather prefers lenin’s mobilization in 1919-21 russia. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Green Leninism https://adamtooze.substack.com/p/chartbook-50-andreas-malm-and-ecological

LRB has a second review of Malm’s book, this one is less theoretical and more historical and facts “Malm and the Zetkin Collective’s claim is not that far-right parties happen to exploit voter prejudice against both migration and climate mitigation, but that these two things are necessarily linked. They see ‘fossil fascism’ as an emergent political formation, linking ‘primitive’ fossil capital – direct extractors, which can’t survive divestment – with racist politics.” https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v43/n22/james-butler/a-coal-mine-for-every-wildfire

Why we need a ministry for the future (generations)

This is not about the book, this is about discount rates applied to long term, very long term, the pone where we are all dead, and so aour children, and their children all the way to 500 years which isn’t such a long span in histyorical terms but yields absurd results when using discount rates

It originates from chapter 4 of Stubborn Attachment by Tyler Cowen and ends up with Burke, worth giving it a second read, future generations is the ones we should fight the climate disaster for, thank Greta for reminding us, this issue is moral and philosophivcal with great practical implications: imagine a world where we keep negative interest rates by means of printing a lot of money and make the future generations more valuable than ourselves


A black swan swimming in your city

is it a black swan? Maybe just an extreme, unforeseen outcome of the current climate crisis set in motion by global warming.

Global arming is a rather straightforward phenomenon, well measured with standard physics tool (heath radiance physics, spectrum analysis etc)

Climate change encompasses all the effects on the global interconnected system of atmosphere, land and seas. Good luck in figuring out preciusely what will happen, extreme outcomes might be hidden behind unphatomable mechanisms.

For example , sea level rise hinges on the melting spped of Greenland and the South Pole, the 2 biggest ice masses (the arctic sea is a rather smallish ice mass and might be gone for good pretty soon)

Consensus is for 80-120 sea level rise by year 2100 and some vague 7 meters going forward, if we do really bad at containing emissions. But what if we missed some mechanism which melts glaciers more quickly?

So Kevin Anderson likes to go ice melt seminars but here we have a point, IPCC models might be underestimating the forces in play. What extreme outcome are we risking here?

Meltwater Pulse 1A is a sudden rise of sea levels in the range of 16 to 25 meters in the span of 4 or 5 centuries, happened right fter the last glaciation some 15,000 yers ago, the deluge ? here’s wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meltwater_pulse_1A.

I got to know about the Meltwater Pulse from Lawrence Krauss Physics of Climate Change, hereis what he says “sea level has varied by more than 10 meters within a few centuries, as can be seen during the period between fourteen and fifteen thousand years ago—compatible for example with a total loss of sea ice in Greenland within a millennium.”

Compatible with total loss of sea ice in Greenland within a millenium. Sea ice? Only sea ice? Uhm, thing to checl, I thought it required the melt of the overland glacier, in some places 5 km thick.

So you see why it is worth studyng glaciers in Greenland and Antartica, a black swan might be swimming soon in hthe main orad fo your coastal city. Maybe in 100 maybe in 500 hundred years, why should we care ?