Amoeba’s Lorica: Paywalled Off

The 2015 Paris Agreement commits leaders to holding warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, or “well below” 2°C at the worst – but nowhere does it say how much oil, gas or coal must be left in the ground. This is convenient for world leaders, who are happy to talk about curbing fossil fuel demand, but desperate to continue business as usual when it comes to extraction […]

The article from which the above quote is [ahem] extracted is behind a paywall. Therefore, like just about any form of information that’s worth having in today’s world (i.e., information that is not sourced from social media or the various successors of television), it doesn’t exist, at least as far as Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba is concerned.

What really burns is that the non-existent source in question, which purports to be about ‘science’, is festooned with ads for (inter alia) auto insurance and financial services and streaming reality shows (if that’s not irony, YFNA doesn’t know what is). These ads are the only content that the non-subscriber gets to see. Presumably, the ads rake in beaucoup bread for the source, from the unwary who wander by, foolishly thinking they might learn something. And the source still wants to stick its grubby hands in your pockets.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba is old enough (alas) to remember what happened when the television news people had real news. Important news. News worthy of a viewer’s attention.

They turned the ads off.

So ‘the media’ trained YFNA to treat all presentations with ads as “not news”. So be it. YFNA is doing as he has been trained, and feels no regret or remorse for doing so, for the sins of the media are on their own heads.

But no matter. The news is old. And the essentials are still, for now anyway, obtainable without dealing with paywalls. It says that, in order for global warming to be held at or below the promised level by the start of the 22nd century, energy consumption by all humans on the planet has to go down. Renewables, or nothing.

And, the fossil energy now in the ground has to stay in the ground. Starting, like, yesterday.

Oh, and that’s still not enough.

According to this report from a couple of years ago, extractive industries (iron, copper, the rare earths needed for this computer to work, the raw materials for concrete, yada) account for more than 50% of atmospheric loading of greenhouse gases. The load from burning fossil fuels is on top of this number.

In rich countries, people consume an average of 9.8 tonnes of resources a year, the weight of two elephants. This is 13 times higher than low incomes groups. Much of this is unseen because huge amounts of materials are often needed for a small end product, such as a mobile phone. [Emphasis added]

You think you’re being ‘clean and green’ because you’re working from home and sparing the planet the daily commute? Think again. You need to ditch the car and the electronics. All of them. Or you may as well head out on the highway and roll coal.

According to such ‘news’ as YFNA can glean through the maze of paywalls, Mr. Biden’s administration is committed to reducing society’s contributions to climate change and to rebuilding the nation’s economy from the (still ongoing) COVID-19 disaster – which was predicted in 2016. Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba, alas, is not smart enough to figure out how he and his can do both. He does think that he can figure out which of these is going to get lip service, and which is going to get Mr. Biden’s full attention. Fully recognizing that even the lip service could cost Biden and his party control of Congress in the next election, and loss of the Presidency in 2024. Especially if anything like the true costs of making even a distant approach to the necessary climate-change actions are visited upon We the People. And as if Mr. Biden would be anything other than thoroughly sick of the office by then.

Indeed the news is old. To YFNA, it seems that hardly any time has passed since Prof. Michael J. Kelly, FRS, published his critical assessment about how long it would really take to achieve all the promises of ‘renewables’ research (about two decades longer than the claims), and how much it would really cost to withdraw fossil fuels prior to those renewables coming online (and assuming that the costs of, say, rare earth mining for electronics aren’t great enough to offset any gains from renewables dependent on this mining). Namely, about what COVID-19 cost the world’s economies. For an interval of decades.

His paper was published in 2013, eight years ago.

He and his work were immediately adopted by the climate change denialists, and attacked by the climate change activists, most of whom doubtless expected to profit handsomely from whatever mousetrap they had invented to pretend to assist in the fight against carbon, and didn’t need any naysayers with Ph.D.s interrupting their gravy trains.

Professor Kelly promptly disappeared, probably in extreme embarrassment. Meanwhile, events have played out pretty much as he envisaged them. And we have seen, in the Untied States of America and throughout the world (yellow vests, M Macron?), just how willing the citizens of the world are to accept any clawback in their standards of living – namely, fuggeddaboudit. That Mr. Trump is not in the jail into which he repeatedly threatened to throw Ms. Clinton is a permanent indictment of the character and intelligence of every US citizen – the character and intelligence that would be needed to make even a distant approach to necessary climate-change actions. And his return to power is just an economic hiccup away.

Oh well, we have time. We have a whole nine years, according to this study, before tropical ocean ecosystems start collapsing under the pressure of the increased global temperatures for which our cupidity is responsible, collapses that, once initiated, will start a massive cascade that will be impossible to stop, or even slow down.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba would tell you more about this study and its implications for life on Earth, including human life.

But he can’t.

It’s behind a paywall.

INCOME, n. The natural and rational gauge and measure of respectability, the commonly accepted standards being artificial, arbitrary and fallacious; for, as “Sir Sycophas Chrysolater” in the play has justly remarked, “the true use and function of property (in whatsoever it consisteth – coins, or land, or houses, or merchant- stuff, or anything which may be named as holden of right to one’s own subservience) as also of honors, titles, preferments and place, and all favor and acquaintance of persons of quality or ableness, are but to get money. Hence it followeth that all things are truly to be rated as of worth in measure of their serviceableness to that end; and their possessors should take rank in agreement thereto, neither the lord of an unproducing manor, howsoever broad and ancient, nor he who bears an unremunerate dignity, nor yet the pauper favorite of a king, being esteemed of level excellency with him whose riches are of daily accretion; and hardly should they whose wealth is barren claim and rightly take more honor than the poor and unworthy.”   – Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”

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