Friday, January 22, 2016

Flailing In a Sea of Panic and Propaganda

Fig. 1  How scientists know
I. Background

A Federal Court of Appeals has made an interim decision in favor of the EPA effort to lower carbon emissions (D.C. Circuit Order, PDF).

The final decision will come later.

In that case, as many as 27 states are trying to stop the EPA.

In that case the EPA effort to bring down the rate of carbon emissions, which are sky-rocketing (Fig. 1), is seen as something bad for business.

One contributor (the bottom green line) is cement production, which, as the graph shows was at one time contributing about 100 million metric tons annually to the deadly problem of carbon pollution.

I mention that because in the year 2000, as shown in Fig. 1, emissions were at about 2.5% of the total, but have increased to about 5% of the total:
"A single industry accounts for around 5% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. It produces a material so ubiquitous it is nearly invisible: cement. Cement is the primary ingredient in concrete, which in turn forms the foundations and structures of the buildings we live and work in, and the roads and bridges we drive on. Concrete is the second most consumed substance on Earth after water. On average, each year, three tons of concrete are consumed by every person on the planet."
(Columbia University, emphasis added). This will increase even more during the upcoming knee-jerk reaction: treatment of the effect, rather than a focus on the cause of carbon emissions (fossil fuel burning).

Fossil fuel carbon emission decreases are even strongly resisted by right wing state governments guided by the Oil-Qaeda Plutocrats in the Epigovernment (see the Series Posts Tab at the top of the page, then arrow down or CTRL F to  EPIGOVERNMENT ("The String Pullers")).

II. Those Who Do Not Resist Big Concrete

Yesterday's post concerned the global danger to seaports (The Extinction of Robust Sea Ports - 3), which will eventually cause an unprecedented and panicked increase in construction activity:
"The problem on a global scale, he said, is that ports may start scrambling all at once to adapt their structures to changing environmental conditions. "It could potentially exceed our capacity for construction worldwide," he added."
(Seaports Need a Plan, emphasis added). The general reactions, heretofore, have involved treating the effect of carbon emissions rather that dealing with the cause.

That includes more and more concrete production, propelled onward by a doctrine of more of the same:
"The primary construction materials currently used in coastal defenses are concrete and steel. Thus, it is important to investigate the known supplies and regional accessibility of cement, coarse aggregate, and fine aggregate.Various public repositories contain data for the estimate of global material supply availability for common construction materials (USGS 2010). Preliminary results indicate that the global capacity for producing these materials is insufficient for constructing the protective structures around each of the world’s top economic ports in less than 50-60 years."
(Will Ports Become Forts, PDF, emphasis added). This type of situation is known as a "predicament" when its hypothetical solution is a subset of its problem domain ("damned if you do and damned if you don't").

A predictable predicament when there is only enough concrete to make the problem worse (by building more useless structures anyway - Groundhog Day & The Climate of Fear).

III. The "How Much and When" Part of the Predicament

Those who have studied government contracting law know that one of the main areas of litigation has been "defective plans and/or specifications."

That is because defects in contract plans (drawings) or specifications (detailed requirements) cause delay and additional expense that the contractor had not contracted for.

The extinction of ports scenario is ripe for an epidemic of such litigation:
"We have been developing a simulation of the world’s design and construction requirements for a hypothetical rise in the mean sea level of 2 meters. The choice of 2 meters is an arbitrary one, especially so given the level of uncertainty of climate models. Nonetheless, it does represent a value within the range of current estimates, and also represents a kind of minimum change at which virtually every port of the world will have to design and construct some type of protective structure. One outcome of this simulation will be to identify a rate of sea level change at which the current industrial capacity of the design and construction industry will be exceeded. The scale of such a simulation requires that the level of design specificity for any given location be reduced to the minimum reasonable extent. Typical industry practice would consider this to be an early stage conceptual design. However, considering the potential impact and scope of the effort, the conceptual design should take the concern of many stakeholders into consideration. Consequently, to improve the credibility of the “minimum design specificity” we plan to extend the scope of our project to include expertise in fluid dynamics, wave physics, ecology and economics."
(Seaports 2100, emphasis added). This arbitrary assumption of only 2m of sea level change (SLC) by 2100 is one root cause of the litigation problem.

Because "arbitrary" is not a standard, uniform, and resilient base upon which to form construction documents:
"If the owner of an engineering and construction project first contracts with an engineering or architectural firm to prepare the specifications, construction drawings, and other contract documents, and then hires a construction contractor to build that project, the owner carries an implied warranty that 1) the specifications, construction drawings, and other contract documents that it furnishes to the construction contractor are accurate, and 2) an acceptable product will result if such specifications and drawings are followed.
A defective specification also may breach the implied warranty that the contractor will be able to perform the contract in the specified time. In such cases, the contractor may recover its damages and extended overhead costs due to delays and related impacts. This breach cannot be cured by noncompensable time extensions or by the owner refraining from enforcing liquidated damages. To recover its increased costs as a result of defective and deficient specifications, drawings, and other contract documents supplied by the owner, a contractor may need to demonstrate that specifications, drawings, and other contract documents contain representations which were materially different from those actually encountered, the contractor justifiably relied upon those representations, and the actual conditions increased the cost of performing the work."
(Defective & Deficient Contract Documents, 2013, PDF). The drafting of accurate SLC specifications on a seaport contract boils down to "who ya gonna call" dynamics (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?).

The Spearin Doctrine in government contract law involves conditions not unlike what would be encountered in seaport contracts:
"What are the contractor’s remedies when it incurs damages because of problems with the owner’s specifications and drawings? The contractor usually can base its request for an equitable contract adjustment on entitlement supported by the Spearin Doctrine. Spearin contracted with the U.S. government to build a dry dock at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The government provided plans requiring the relocation of a six-foot storm sewer, including dimensions, materials of construction, and the new location of the rebuilt sewer. Spearin fully complied with the specifications. However, a nearby seven-foot sewer was blocked by a dam that prevented water from backing up into that sewer, which the government then requested that Spearin remove. Before completion of the dry dock, the six-foot sewer installed by Spearin broke and flooded the site due to high tides, heavy rains, and water pressure. A later investigation found that the six- foot sewer broke because the design did not take into account the dam in the seven-foot sewer. The government refused to pay for the damages, and Spearin sued.

The Supreme Court in Spearin said,
But if a contractor is bound to build according to plans and specifications prepared by the owner, the contractor will not be held responsible for the consequences of defects in the plans and specifications.
In most cases, the courts and boards have relied on the implied warranty established by this benchmark case to find in the contractor’s favor, and does not depend on the owner’s negligence."
(ibid, at p. 3). Not knowing where the sea level will end up is a fundamental problem with government contracting in this SLC scenario.

So, it is likely that contractors will either have to agree to take the risk upon themselves, or to not bid on such contracts.

The alternative of a "cost-plus" contract is one of the most scary economic situations for owners and governments, so it will be resisted.

IV. Conclusion

The reality of the danger that International-Trade-Based Civilization is facing is so far beyond what has ever been faced that it invites various and sundry forms of denial and other dementia.

This is the result of a sea of propaganda and spin to the degree that civilization has become lost in space (You Are Here).

And those seas are rising too.

UPDATE: The Supreme Court, for the first time ever, reversed the DC Circuit prior to a ruling on the merits (The Decision to Halt the Implementation of the Clean Power Plan is Outrageous).

"Mykonos", by Fleet Foxes (lyrics here):


  1. Only one university heavily into it ... Stanford.

    I bet that changes soon if not already.

  2. Concrete?

    Leanardo urged the Canadian dipshit to do something concrete:

    "He actually said if we took concrete action on climate change he would be the first to come up and celebrate with us." - the dipshit

    "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Leonardo DiCaprio to tone down his "inflammatory rhetoric" on climate change saying it was not helping those who have lost their oil-industry jobs.

    The movie star had told the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain town of Davos on Wednesday that corporate greed was causing climate change and "enough is enough."

    At a dinner later in the day, Trudeau, elected in October as the head of a Liberal government, took the 41-year-old actor to task.

    "I pointed out that both Alberta and Canada have new governments over the past year that are committed to action on climate change...and that there are families suffering, out of work, who need to be supported, and inflammatory rhetoric doesn't necessarily help those families or help Canada," Trudeau said as he recounted his remarks to reporters on Friday.

    (Canada's Trudeau to DiCaprio: Your climate remarks don't help)

    Leanardo, the righteous brother, took Daddy unTruBucks, who suffers from Stockholm Syndrome to righteous task (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch - 5).

  3. Talk, talk . ..[old song by a group with the same name]

    This splendid fellow i read, says:

    If there was ever a time to err on the side of caution, it was decades ago.

    Now that there's nothing to be done and all the reason in the world to STOP DOING, including that Mother Nature is reacting to our fumbling, ham-handed living arrangements by doing just that (with respect to global ocean trade through SLC) - maybe we should listen and start doing things locally, until we can't, of course.


  4. "While it may sound as if "order for free" is a serious challenge to
    Darwinian evolution, it's not so much that I want to challenge Darwinism
    and say that Darwin was wrong. I don't think he was wrong at all. I have no
    doubt that natural selection is an overriding, brilliant idea and a major
    force in evolution, but there are parts of it that Darwin couldn't have
    gotten right. One is that if there is order for free — if you have complex
    systems with powerfully ordered properties — you have to ask a question
    that evolutionary theories have never asked: Granting that selection is
    operating all the time, how do we build a theory that combines
    self-organization of complex systems — that is, this order for free — and
    natural selection? There's no body of theory in science that does this.
    There's nothing in physics that does this, because there's no natural
    selection in physics — there's self organization. Biology hasn't done it,
    because although we have a theory of selection, we've never married it to
    ideas of self-organization. One thing we have to do is broaden evolutionary
    theory to describe what happens when selection acts on systems that already
    have robust self-organizing properties. This body of theory simply does not

    There are a couple of parallels concerning order for free. We've believed
    since Darwin that the only source of order in organisms is selection. This
    is inherent in the French biologist François Jacob's phrase that organisms
    are "tinkered-together contraptions." The idea is that evolution is an
    opportunist that tinkers together these widgets that work, and the order
    you see in an organism has, as its source, essentially only selection,
    which manages to craft something that will work. But if there's order for
    free, then some of the order you see in organisms is not due to selection.
    It's due to something somehow inherent in the building blocks. If that's
    right, it's a profound shift, in a variety of ways.
    The origin of life might be another example of order for free. If you have
    complex-enough systems of polymers capable of catalytic action, they'll
    self-organize into an autocatalytic system and, essentially, simply be
    alive. Life may not be as hard to come by as we think it is."

    1. Mark,

      Your quote concluded: "Life may not be as hard to come by as we think it is."

      What Dredd is showing is: "[Death of civilization] may not be as hard to come by as we think it is."

      Dig it.