Ashes to Ashes

Well, this is some piece of news.  Major Tom, over to you (this is a great live version):

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low

UPDATE: Jonathan Gilligan believes this one is more apropos.

13 Responses to “Ashes to Ashes”

  1. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    Nice, but not the most appropriate Bowie:
    Pushing through the market square
    So many mothers sighing
    News had just come over
    We had five years left to cry in
    News guy wept and told us
    Earth was really dying
    Cried so much his face was wet
    Then I knew he was not lying”

    Perhaps you’d say the problem is that I’m stuck in the old Bowie narrative.

  2. Keith Kloor says:

    Depends on how you look at it. Major Tom is also a continuation of an old Bowie narrative.

    That said, I put Five Years in the post, too. Thanks.  

  3. As depressing/disappointing the annual release of this data is, we have to keep it in perspective. No one was really thinking that emissions were going to decline in 2011. So, yeah, it’s disappointing – and particularly so for countries like the U.S. – that the increase for 2011 is way worse than expected. But the focus needs to be on the long-run prize – bending the curve down this decade.

    That’s pretty cold comfort, but there is little point in noting lousy but unsurprising data points like these and go ‘tutt, tutt, tutt’. For most of the public, these numbers have no context.

    If anything, reports like this drive home the need to redouble outreach and education so that more people understand the consequences/trade-offs of delaying bending that curve down. Like this: … or the TrillionthTonne framework. By the way, when I started making notes of the numbers @ in November 2009, those required annual decline rates were 2.14% and 4.54%. Now, just two years of instead growing the emissions, and the challenge is 2.36% and 5.05%, so we are living the consequences of delay in real-time. We need to communicate that and the solutions available for making cuts.
    And for Bowie, I recently bumped into and enjoyed his relatively obscure 1972 BBC session recording of Lou Reed’s “Waiting for the Man”. Not much of a video, sounds better on iTunes, and nothing to do with this post. Whatever >

  4. EdG says:

    “In 1990, developed countries produced about 60 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, now it’s probably less than 50 percent, Reilly said.”

    And in another 20 years the so called ‘undeveloped world,’ including China and India will be producing an even higher proportion of an even higher total.

    Thus in terms of the whole planet’s CO2 emissions, Kyoto was always an predictably hopeless joke. It was not really about CO2 or climate at all. 

    Have there been any discernible changes in the economic status of China and India since Kyoto was signed? Has the world become a better place for multinationals? Have they invested anything in ‘undeveloped’ countries with no Kyoto restrictions?

    By golly, I think they have! Even Government Motors!   

    I dedicate this Bowie tune to the hardworking AGW Team.

    David Bowie

    I still don’t know what I was waiting for
    And my time was running wild
    A million dead-end streets
    Every time I thought I’d got it made
    It seemed the taste was not so sweet
    So I turned myself to face me
    But I’ve never caught a glimpse
    Of how the others must see the faker
    I’m much too fast to take that test

    (Turn and face the strain)

  5. Jarmo says:

    Future will see more emissions. Germany and Japan will be more dependent on fossil fuels, Canada, Indonesia and Australia will extract more of the stuff and China & India build ever more fossil fuel power:

    “According to a 2011 report by Prayas (Initiatives in Health, Energy, Learning and Parenthood) — a non-governmental, non-profit organisation based in Pune — the India Ministry has given environmental clearances to coal and gas-based power plants whose capacity totals 192,913 MW, while another 508,907 MW are at various stages in the environmental clearance cycle, for a total of 701,820 MW. Coal-based plants account for 84% of the projects. These additions are more than six times the currently installed thermal capacity of 113,000 MW.”


  6. jeffn says:

    From the link- the repetition of the claim that “developed nations” are proving you can cut emissions:
    “The developed countries that ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas limiting treaty have reduced their emissions overall since then and have achieved their goals of cutting emissions to about 8 percent below 1990 levels. The U.S. did not ratify the agreement.”
    Left unsaid- the bulk of the Eurpean reductions came in the 1990s from cleaning up former communist states. So what’s happening these days?
    From the Guardian last month:
    “There was a 2.4% increase in emissions in 2010 (in Europe), which followed a 7% drop in 2009 caused largely by the recession and the growth of renewable energy in Europe, the agency said. The increase last year was due to a return to economic growth and a cold winter which boosted the use of heating fuels.”
    So the windmills and solar panels didn’t compensate for very mild economic growth. In other words, as long as there is a deep recession, renewables “work” and we can reduce emissions. Or we can prohibit heat in the winter. Woo-hoo! Oh well. Back to calling Judy Curry’s a Bozo and Rick Perry a creationist!

  7. Tom Scharf says:

    In other news: The increase in emissions is so alarming, green activists all over the world have embraced the use of cleaner fossil fuel use through expanded natural gas fracking and the immediate fast tracking of new nuclear power plants.  “Given the world’s economic realities and energy poverty in the third world, this was the only responsible solution to the current crisis” a press release from Greenpeace stated.



  8. Jarmo says:

    #6 jeffn

    Funny how they leave out the role of Russia in Kyoto.

    Russia was basically bribed by giving them an emission quota according to the emissions of the old Soviet Union industrial base that was demolished in the 1990’s …. a quota that they will exceed by 2017 if they try very hard. Meanwhile Russia has made a lot of money by selling carbon credits to Western companies. This scam is so beautiful that you gotta sort of admire it 😉

    The next Russian President Putin has said that Russia is looking forward to global warming as it will cut heating costs, open the Arctic Sea for traffic and make huge areas currently unsuitable for agriculture a potential bread basket. So another Kyoto commitment by Russians is unlikely.

    Even if the Russians agreed to Kyoto 2, it will not hurt them much:

    International climate change negotiations to agree a successor to the Kyoto Accord received something of a blow last week, after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced an emissions target that could allow the country to increase emissions by up to 36 per cent by 2020.
    Speaking on state television, Medvedev suggested Russia would cut emissions by about 10 to 15 per cent based on the 1990 base year used under the Kyoto deal. However, Russia’s emissions were significantly higher in 1990 than they are now, so the new target would allow the country to increase greenhouse gas emissions by between 29 and 36 per cent by 2020. 


  9. jeffn says:

    Jarmo- This is the sort of thing that creates skeptics. Why would anyone who truly believes GHG emissions will kill the planet play this sort of game? Answer- they wouldn’t, so the likelihood is that they don’t “believe” but find the claim to be politically useful.
    As Tom notes in #7, there’s no worry that the climate concerned will take observations coupled with basic mathematics and turn the focus toward climate. Too much fun involved. Remember, over here in the US the argument is that George Bush “killed” Kyoto for no reason other than than the fact that he’s an evil oil stooge in the wrong party. It had nothing to do with the fact that Kyoto was pure junk.

  10. Jarmo says:


    As I recall it was the US Senate who “killed” Kyoto…. not Bush. 

    I assume that most supporters of Kyoto do really believe in in AGW. It’s their perception of reality that is flawed. They believe that they can infect whole populations with the same hype that controls their thinking. 

    They remind me of the EU elite here in Europe. Their grand project, a federal Europe, which they have tried to advance without the consent of the governed, was expanded regardless of economic realities and has now imploded. They also believed that the only thing you need is a certain “critical mass” and then dreams become a reality.   

  11. harrywr2 says:

    Kyoto wasn’t going to make any difference as it didn’t address the non-financial impediments to ‘low carbon energy’
    Cancun was the first ‘Climate Meeting’ to take seriously the need for ‘technology transfer’.
    The Nuclear Suppliers Group and the IAEA have just gotten around to having workable ‘frameworks’ for non-nuclear countries to acquire civilian nuclear power without being threatened with being carpet bombed.

  12. harrywr2 says:

    “Indian ministry”
    The going rate for steam coal shipping out of the Australian port of Newcastle is $125/tonne. There was some ‘cheap coal’ to be had in Indonesia is you bought the mine and exported it to yourself at ‘knock down’ prices. The Indonesia government caught on to this scam and canceled all long term coal contracts. All Indonesian coal has to be sold at ‘bench mark’ prices now.
    As a result India is having trouble sourcing ‘affordable coal’ and some of their existing plants were shut in September and Ocotober for ‘lack of coal’.

  13. Jarmo says:


    Thanks for the link. Interesting stuff.

    Looks like coal price has been up due to many reasons, e.g. the Queensland flood: 

    China has power shortages because the state sets electricity prices and currently power companies lose money when they burn coal that is more expensive than earlier.

    India seems to have built more new coal power than it can currently supply. Add to this additional demand in Germany and Japan. New mines are coming online but that will take time. So, India has gone shopping. Looks like demand for coal will keep on increasing:

    India has been working to address the coal void for some time now. Indian firms have been scouring the globe for coal assets and the effort has secured several major deals: Indian conglomerate Adani is set to buy the 25-million-tonne-per-year coal export terminal as Abbot Point in Queensland, only a year after buying the Galilee coal project in Australia for $2.7 billion; Indian trader Knowledge Infrastructure signed a joint venture deal with Indonesian miner PT OSO International to develop thermal coal mines in Kalimantan; and three Indian firms are among those shortlisted to buy Australian coal explorer Bandanna Energy, a deal expected to top $1 billion.

    Coal India, which produces 80% of the country’s coal, is not going to be left out of the shopping spree. A few months ago the company set aside $1.2 billion for overseas buys, specifically in Australia, Indonesia, and the U.S. And it has the money – net income for the first quarter totaled $931 million and full-year profits were up 13%. Shares in Coal India started trading Nov. 4 after the government raised $3.2 billion by selling a 10% stake, in the country’s largest public offering to date.

    The story could go on, discussing other coal-needy countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany, and so on, but perhaps the point has been made. Global production is maxed out with respect to existing infrastructure, so increases from here can only occur as quickly as new mines, rail lines, and ports can be built.Coal prices have been climbing steadily, based on real supply constraints, and most industry watchers agree that they will hold their ground or continue to climb for the next few years. 

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