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Scientists have detected a major change to the Earth’s oceans (washingtonpost.com)
292 points by seycombi on Feb 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 181 comments

Why was it a piece of cake to regulate CFC:s but no one has the vision to strive to control CO2 and methane. I'm 37 years old. I've been scared of CO2 accumualation in the atmosphere before I went to school and I'm no genious.

I can't understand why has it been so hard recognize and act on CO2.

And it's not only the industry and politicians. Green parties have been the craziest in actively blocking nuclear power.

Why has this been so hard to see?

This article from 1990 in the NYT tries to account for the cost of banning CFC's[1]. At worst it's a few hundred billion USD.

We've spent way more than that on CO^2 via the Kyoto accords etc. Of course the problem isn't solved, but that's because it's a way bigger problem. We've acted even more on CO^2 than CFC's, but the problem of CFC's was much smaller and easier to solve.

1. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/17/science/grappling-with-the...

It's possible to replace CFC with other gases. Just replace some of the F with Cl or something. It's not easy because CFC are incredible good at not reacting with anything. They are so good that they can survive all the way up to the upper atmosphere to cause havoc. If you replace the F by Cl or something you must do a lot of research to ensure the good properties in the new molecule version. So it's a problem that can be solved with research, time and money.

The problem with CO2 is that a lot of the energy requirements are solved by the equations:

  coal/petrol/gas + O2 --> CO2 + H2O + energy
  energy --> money
Or to simplify it

  whatever  --> CO2 + money
And it's not possible to replace the CO2 in that equation. No amount of money, time , research can fix this. You only try to use a completely different method to produce energy.

But most of the alternative methods are more expensive than a good old coal plant (if you ignore the social cost of pollution and the dangers of coal extraction). I think that nuclear and hydroelectric are cheaper, but they also have some hidden cost.


We'd need a lot of trees

In 2000, the IPCC gathered the available evidence for a special report which concluded that tree-planting could sequester (remove from the atmosphere) around 1.1–1.6 GT of CO2 per year. That compares to total global greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 50 GT of CO2 in 2004.


Just to avoid confusion, that's 50GT due to human activities.

http://climatica.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/IPCC_WG3_... (FOLU is forestry and other land use)

It takes costs to plant those trees so that'd cut down on the "profit" part of the equation.

A combination of selfishness and outright bullshit. Have you ever noticed that the people who pour scorn on climate prediction and say it's all just playing with models and overactive imagination on the part of scientists are perfectly comfortable making dire economic predictions about the costs of mitigating climate change, despite economics' relative crudity? Have you ever seen an economic model that even aspires to the sophistication of climate models? Or economic metrics that were broken out to measure unemployment trends and glows of goods, labor and capital? such data exist but they're rarely more fine-grained than the state level and they're horribly crude because people feel an economic incentive to hoard that data for profit.

<ost of the so-called skeptics don't know any economics beyond basic things like how to find equilibrium pricing between supply and demand curves and some outdated macroeconomic myths, but they know that the majority of people don't get economics and can be easily scared with threats of recession. That's how we wound up with a President that claims climate change is a myth created by the Chinese to steal their jobs and a dominant party that's champing at the bit to sweep away any and all environmental regulation so they can make a quick buck.

Yep, also noticed most of the people screaming about those people are also adamantly against the one proven technology ready to tackle this problem. They'd rather watch our planet die.

I assume you're referring to nuclear power, which a) has its own environmental problems and b) is really expensive, to the point of not being cost-competitive.

In general, it seems the people who are complaining about government subsidies for renewable energy development have no problems with massive government subsidies to the nuclear power industry.

I'm not anti-nuclear, per se, but given the huge potential downsides and massive lead times of current nuclear projects I don't think it's at all "ready to tackle this problem". But we should absolutely fund research into technologies like MSR, thorium, etc. We do need something to replace base loads, and I don't think biomass is going to cut it.

Interestingly, energy from American nuclear reactors increased in price by somewhere between a factor of six[0] and a factor of ten[1], possibly as a result of Three Mile Island. French nuclear seems to be cheaper than wind and solar.

[0] http://www.vox.com/2016/2/29/11132930/nuclear-power-costs-us...

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20170213025941/https://www.resear...

Perhaps the cheap nuclear power era in France will soon end.

"France’s Nuclear Storm: Many Power Plants Down Due to Quality Concerns"

by Lee Buchsbaum - Power Magazine - (12/01/2016)


France went from 10% to 80% nuclear in 20 years and without increasing costs relative to the rest of the EU. Show me another generation technology capable of the same.

CFCs were a smaller problem, with cost effective alternatives available. So its more feasible to avoid The tragedy of the commons. In the case of CO2 and methane, its harder to move to more costly approaches given that you know that your competitor is not doing so (and possibly does not feel they can do so) and so would have a cost advantage over you, possibly putting at risk your actual economic viability.

There is often a reluctance to support more costly non-CO2 producing approaches to energy production given that those approaches have been around longest and are often cheapest.

Some renewable energy technologies are gaining market acceptance and are cost-competitive with hydrocarbons, but unless Tesla and its peers take off in a big way, hydrocarbons unfortunately aren't going away.

Don't underestimate how hard it is to fight against an adversary with money.

"Green" parties and organizations are infiltrated by double-game lobbyists and influencers from all fronts trying to save their own industry's interests.

What's the easiest way to defeat an adversary? Play it against itself. The same way governments will want to make rebellious opposition groups into violent terrorists, it makes all the sense in the world to make ecologists into irrational, counter-productive idealists.

What kind of powerful (=wealthy) organization benefits short to mid-term from reducing pollution? I fail to see any. The issue of ecology is IMO the hardest fight humanity has had to fight.

It wasn't a piece of cake at all, and tons of people still complain about not being able to get Freon (or get it illegally)

Does anyone else automatically down vote any account with throwaway in the name?

I don't know if you're saying that you do or not, but as far as anecdote goes: yes, lots of people do. I don't really care, and my points get to stand on their own merit.

Why would anyone do that?

I don't, but the primary reasons to use a throwaway account are if you want to discuss something deeply personal without giving yourself away, or hide your identity so you can BS or insult people. It's easy enough to be anonymous on HN and still have a persistent identity; if someone resorts to burner accounts others are going to assume it's for trolling.

I've had this account for more than 3 years as you can see. I can't help if people incorrectly assume it's a burner because of the name. I considered it throwaway at first, but I don't care to bother to change it at this point. And like I said, it lets my points stand on their own merit, which I consider a positive.

I have to admit I don't bother to pay much attention to the exact handles on throwaway accounts.

> Why was it a piece of cake to regulate CFC:s but no one has the vision to strive to control CO2 and methane.

Because for ordinary people, the CFC story is a wonderful one. Multi-national co-operation has halted and begun to roll back a serious environmental degredation.

For a small number of people who are slightly less rich thatn they might otherwise have been, though, it was a catastrophe, something that must never be allowed to happen again; much like the public health victories areound tobacco and lead, it energised a small slice of the world to make sure that future efforts (in the current case, the damagfe of greenhouse gases) are never again repeated. No matter what the cost.

I'm not sure that this is the whole story - rather, the risk of CFCs was so obvious that nobody could convincingly argue against it. To this day, going outside in Tasmania burns you noticeably faster than anywhere else in the world.

Global warming, on the other hand, is a slow death by a thousand cuts. Extreme weather events grow more frequent, fishing becomes less productive, desertification takes more land, the sea rises a little higher, and so on - and the endgame is more complicated and less understandable, too. It's easier to ignore.

Nuclear waste is something which needs to be dealt with over the course of multiple human lifetimes. I don't think creating something like that is responsible.

And the radioactivity of mining coal (coal mines produce more than nuclear plants), ruined water, and ruined air are somehow better? Not like the CO2 magically decays or something. Future generations will have to deal with less clean air, less clean water, more CO2, higher ocean levels, etc.

From my reading of it, nuclear waste is a thorny political issue, not a technical issue. There's pleny of reasonable solution.

One of my favorites was mixing it into molten glass, pouring that into a steel torpedo shaped tube, and dropping them in the ocean near a subduction zone where there's a few inches of silt per year.

By the time they hit they have enough speed to sink in 10s of eet, won't rupture any time soon, but when they do they will be buried even deeper by silt. Of course eventually they will enter the subduction zone.

Primarily due lack of a sufficiently cheap and convenient high energy density storage... though we are getting closer now with all the modern research on batteries thanks to the economic incentive to power ever thinner and power hungry smartphones.

On the energy generation side, it's taken pretty advanced tech to get efficiencies upto acceptable levels in Solar and Wind.

Nuclear unfortunately has proven to have drastic fast acting negative externalities on failure (mass evacuation, increase in cancer rates) and tbe Industry has consistently shown lack of competence in preventing failure. So it's no surprise people have soured on it.

Given the trajectory of tech development, I'm fairly confident we'll get there - hopefully before we screw up our climate too much.

In fighting to ban CFCs, advocates could point to immediate impacts. Solar UV intensity in southern South America was occasionally hitting hazardous levels. And who wants skin cancer?

With CO2 emissions, serious impacts are all long-term, across multiple generations. On short time scales, it's nontrivial to detect effects, and methodology and measurements are readily disputed.

The truly insidious aspect, though, is how thoroughly committed to massive and persistent change the climate system becomes, before any serious impacts are apparent.

There is far more money involved, and unlike CFCs there are no easy plug and play substitutes.

Nuclear power is not a panacea. It looks good on paper but in practice there are tons of hidden costs and failures can be catastrophic. It also pretty much demands hefty regulation, which further adds to the cost in both monetary and social ways.

Finally there is a whole geopolitical order built around fossil fuels. Changing our energy system would fundamentally alter the power balance of the world.

Solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and nuclear add up to well more than current usage. Nuclear could be phased out as storage or distributed grid matured. With modifications to standards of living expectations we could live renewably as a species and save oil and gas for plastics and other materials that require hydrocarbon feedstock. The trouble is that this would result in a much lower consumption world. And lots of people in the are rich as a result unneccessary consumption.

"modifications to standard of living expectations" are purely untenable and ultimately destructive to everything that defines human society. If you really want to get people to oppose you, try to guilt trip them, tell them they have to be too cold all winter and too hot all summer, tell them they can never travel again, cram them into tiny apartments where they can hear every bodily function their neighbor performs.

The solution to resource depletion and pollution is to give people what they want in a way that's actually sustainable. Build thicker walls and floors to block sound and conserve energy. Design more efficient lighting and appliances. Develop renewable energy. Etc.

Everything non-essential to human survival is everything that makes us human.

I would make one quibble. The hard constraint is the sustainable part, the planet doesn't care about our intangible needs. I'm not saying that everyone should live in massive planned urban districts, but on average we have to use less than X energy across Y people, and we are very far away from averaging X/Y per capita.

Right, there is an equation of some kind that dictates the energy balance we can sustain. I'm suggesting that there are more terms to that equation that we can adjust, and that the term of "what people want" is the most difficult. We can find ways to increase the planet's energy budget, we can find ways to increase efficiency, we can even find ways to make people desire more efficient behaviors.

My main concern, and maybe I misread your first comment, is that forcing or guilt-tripping or shaming people into less fulfilling lifestyles is not going to be very productive, IMO.

"Right, there is an equation of some kind that dictates the energy balance we can sustain"

CO2 produced/energy * energy/person * people on Earth

I know it feels like I'm oversimplifying it, but of course this equation just reduces to the total amount of CO2 produced by humans. There is a ceiling to the rate we can produce it that is compatible with life as we know it on this planet, and we are over that ceiling.

We can tune each of those. CO2/energy - solar, wind, and short term bridge of nuclear; energy/person - more remote work, car sharing, more insulation; # of people - vaccines, birth control access, and other programs to slow population growth.

You have to understand, I believe there is a very harsh reality that we have limited time to solve this problem before we are facing an irrecoverable disaster. Best regards.

Oh come, that's the same sort of argument people were trotting out 25 years ago. Could we at least address the significant changes that have taken place in energy production and so on over that period? The power balance of the world is in flux right now, please stop trying to handwave the problem away, it's insulting to everyone who has invested time in understanding the upsides and downsides of alternative energy sources, the costs and benefits of their deployment, and so on.

Because it's harder to feel urgency when the heat is slooowly turned up on you? Until it's too late.


Dams failure can be even more catastrophic, but people is not worried about it. For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam

> Its failure in 1975 caused more casualties than any other dam failure in history at an estimated 171,000 deaths and 11 million displaced.[1] The dam was subsequently rebuilt.

Case in point, the Mosul Dam is predicted to fail soon, but the local government doesn't really care.[1]

By the time the flood wave rolled past Baghdad and exhausted itself, as many as one and a half million people could be dead.

1 - http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/02/a-bigger-proble...

I think that's a disingenuous comparison.

While a dam failure may kill more people, a nuclear disaster can leave a place uninhabitable for a thousand years. Radiation sickness and damage is also arguably scarier to the public than risk of physical harm from a dam failure.

A lot of people have some religious argument against Nuclear power - I'm not one of them, but a lot of other people seem to downplay the real risks.

We've had a bunch of failures, and they've been bad, but the number of casualties has been low and the damage largely local. 3 mile island, Chernobyl, Fukushima are all obvious examples. I'm not downplaying the risk here but she shouldn't exaggerate it either. I agree about the religious argument but istm that getting past that requires looking at the actual proportions of economic harm involved.

Thank you for writing this. I was merely describing why some people have problems with nuclear (which do exist), and why they are so public and controversial

Now im being downvoted because dams kill more people when they fail. I'm sure they do! But that doesn't change the fact that [people other than myself] will continue to oppose nuclear because of its negative PR

God forbid we don't live in some tiny area for a few hundred years. What will the planet ever do.

Well I think it's because people understand what happens when a dam fails vs when nuclear fails its all this horrible radiation that goes out, or other mysterious and harmful effects.

It has nothing to do with nuclear power failing catastrophically. As another commenter points out, the failure of damns can be even more destructive.

I think the issue is that nuclear power is intimately linked to nuclear weapons. As a result, you end up with images like these in the public imagination (Simpsons clips), which have no foundation in reality:



>when nuclear power fails, it tends to fail catastrophically.

Nuclear fission, right? And let's not forget that coal mining accidents are equally catastrophic for the families of the victims.

>theres no clear reason why humans should be consuming so much electricity and energy

On the contrary, we have no choice but to consume more power. This isn't just a matter of wanting more things: it's about survival.

The talk is about climate change and animal extinctions right now but there's an unlimited number of additional environmental problems to solve if we and our fellow organisms are to survive. Warming, meteor strikes, supervolcanoes, the next ice age -- these are are just four of the known problems.

So we have no choice but to continue to increase our scientific knowledge, technology and wealth. This entails the efficient and safe wielding of greater and greater quantities of energy.

efficient is the key. It's about outcomes. There's nothing saying we need greater quantities of energy, because very little of the things we as a civilization do are fundamentally energy-limited.

Over the long term, there is no shortage of energy. Unless you're going to argue about Dyson-sphere limits, the Sun provides an amount of energy far in excess of what we'd need. On that scale, the total energy available through fossil fuels and nuclear fission is a drop in the proverbial ocean.

I think you're probably basing your statement on failures on what's reported in mass media. Mass media definitely pick up the biggest stories. You can't use that as a sample space.

Secondly, many people have become rich due to oil. Those same companies and tycoons pay off politicians hugely.

Not really on your first point. A lot of the failures are not in the dangerous radiation parts of the nuclear plant, but in the cooling and power generation aspects. I've worked on planning software for a plant and have seen the incredible detail that goes into plant maintenance. Done right, nuclear power is safe. Don't go thinking that I'm a conservative, very liberal and environmentally friendly here.

I completely agree on your second point. It is all about profit.

Thank you! i am pro nuclear too. i was narrating why other people are anti-nuclear. couldn't agree with you more

it is all about the profit for them. genuinely scared of how powerful they are

How am I supposed to interpret the parentheses around the word regulate in your comment?

It's shocking to see this being normalized on HN. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_parentheses

I'm hoping the ggp did not intend for it to mean that, in good faith. It's probably a mistaken interpretation.

Thanks for writing this, I didn't. I knew ((())) had right wing origins, but I didn't know the history of it regarding Jewish names.

In my comment, I described that some business owners who fund right wing politicians feel that there is a globalist conspiracy to cut into their biz profit margins, by penalizing carbon waste.

Hence, they feel (((regulation))) is a conspiracy against their personal business empires.

This is all my analysis. It is not to say that I believe people who believe in regulations are Jewish, and that they should be penalized for this.

So I am upset that people downvoted me, if they thought I am an anti-semite

I don't think "regulate" is a Jewish name.

The type of person that uses those parantheses usually thinks that there is a global cabal of Jews running the world, so when he says (((regulate))) he's insinuating some plot by the 'globalists' to further their own aims.

I am insinuating that some of the largest producers of carbon waste feel that there is a Jewish Globalist conspiracy to affect their profit margins.

To confirm this, you could just look at the politicians they fund. Hint, they aren't pro-Globalism.

So I don't appreciate that people are downvoting me for using ((())) when I was using it to describe someone's views, not my own

I am insinuating that some of the largest producers of carbon waste feel that there is a Jewish Globalist conspiracy to affect their profit margins. To confirm this, you could just look at the politicians they fund. Hint, they aren't pro-Globalism. So I don't appreciate that people are downvoting me for using ((())) when I was using it to describe someone's views, not my own

HN is not the place to ever use incendiary language or innuendo, regardless of who's views are being described. It's hard enough having civil, constructive discourse in an online forum. To purposefully inject such language makes it impossible.

Personally I disagree with you, not because I am Jewish or anti-semitic, but because there is no need to censor myself when something is such a seriously important issue.

When dealing with politics, people signal who they are based on what actions they actually do. When you research people who are anti-regulation, you may notice some trends.

Since you believe in censoring my discussion of these types of people, the reader will need to google this elsewhere, since apparently to satisfy you, I must not inject one word of potentially controversial information that might offend even just one person

I think you misunderstand me. I am not arguing that you should censor what you say; I'm arguing that you should take extra care in how you present your argument. (Or, more simply, it's not what you say, it's how you say it.) The HN community strongly values civility and substantive discourse. To discuss difficult, contentious topics requires extra effort to ensure that forward progress is made.

If that level of restraint doesn't interest you, HN might not be the place you want to discuss these types of topics. Regardless of your position, HN members will downvote and flag uncivil and flamewar inciting language.

Thank you, I can respect this! I will stress once more, that specific words or phrases that are uncivil or flamewar inciting are difficult to assess beforehand, in my opinion.

one day it will be ((())), the next day, someone may be offended that someone is criticizing their company for a product failure, such as at Samsung. This stifled debate of any kind, in my opinion, because there will always be someone who stands to lose something and therefore be offended by a debate that affects their vested interests negatively

I will stress once more, that specific words or phrases that are uncivil or flamewar inciting are difficult to assess beforehand, in my opinion.

If this is something you're concerned about, I suggest taking some time away from commenting on contentious issues (even those you may only suspect are contentious) until you get a better understanding of HN community standards and behavior. For example, if you're going be offended if people downvote your comments and continue to comment on being downvoted, you're going against community guidelines and likely going to attract even more downvotes.


Thank you, that's fine, I can totally respect the wishes of the community :)

CO2 is a natural element that is everywhere. To stop producing it requires never driving anything but an electric car, never flying a plane, and using energy from only "green" sources. That is just not a transition the world can make over night. Doing so would decimate economies, and people would probably end up starving. Currently gasoline is by far the most efficient way to store energy on a small scale. but if people couldn't drive tractors where would the food come from? If people couldn't drive trucks how would food be transported?

I'm time people will solve these problems. However it's best not to worry because co2 is a natural element that the environment naturally soaks up. I don't think CFCs are naturally absorbed either

True, what you can do is plant trees and stop cutting trees. Plant trees that suck more CO2.

Amazon rainforest is being cut enormously. About 90% of cut Amazon is solely for beef production and soy exports for USA beef production.

Of course, the enormous convenient life of average USA citizen might need more government control (24/7 AC, cars everywhere, heavy reliance on animal agriculture etc.) and that stuff costs but it is long-term investment. Of course, no one sees 100 years as long-term, 100 years is invisible. Huge amount of forest also cut for palm oil. The new plant oil that ends up everywhere (sunflower oil turned out more expensive in this millenia).

I've heard from many parents that they don't care if their lifestyle habits promote the business-as-usual culture.

Wasn't Amazon forest deemed net producer of CO2 some time ago?

If we get a direction of such a large processes wrong, how the hell are we so sure that CO2 level is even a source of problem instead of being a result?

Just use logical first principles. Wood is basically a bunch lignin and cellulose. Those are just a bunch of C, H, and O in different configurations. The more wood that exists somewhere, the more C, H, and O are sequestered in it. All forests are seasonally more trap or sink. Look at global seasonal CO2 concentration maps (if those haven't been taken down from the EPA website). Forests grow and make leaves during some seasons. They tend to have forest fires during others. Finally, many shed leaves and those rot and release CO2 during other seasons. On the net, though, they trap carbon dioxide, which plants specifically consume in addition to water to make glucose during photosynthesis.

Many, many, many comments on HN use logical first principles and turn out to be wrong.

And many have been right. The burden is on you to provide counter-evidence. If you have reason to believe he's wrong please post it, otherwise your comment is just spreading FUD.

It still produces less CO2. This will of course not be a fact if fire rate increases.

It's a feedback loop. The warmer it gets more CO2 gets produced, not just by humans but by nature. The melting of ice caps will produce about 100 years of human CO2 equivalent methane (CO2 yearly production of 2016, I believe).

Humans are the source of the problem. They can remove themselves from the equation but it requires a less convenient life for most.

Source for your stats on exports to the US from Brazil for Beef and Soy, and the corresponding deforestation of the Amazon. Far as I can tell Brazil exports less than a tenth of what Australia, Canada and New Zealand do to the US.


>Although the maximum limit of Brazilian beef exported to the US could be 64,508 mt, based on market competition it is very unrealistic to think Brazil would overtake the full quota. Longer term (in 2020) these TRQ’s are scheduled to change, and could give Brazil a higher volume ceiling.

>To put this in perspective, in 2015 the US imported 570,740 mt of beef from Australia, 299,955 mt tons from New Zealand, and 285,036 mt from Canada (to name our top 3 sources) for an annual total of 1.5 million mt.

I'd imagine Asia is the major importer of Brazilian Beef, I could be wrong, but don't think so

Soy. I wrote soy exports. Not "beef production exports".

Brazil (with Argentina) is main soy exporter for most of the worlds livestock.

In the documents below you can find clear numbers of how much hectares is used for pasture, corn, soybean etc. and how much stays forest.

The cause of that deforestation is clear, it is soybean + corn + beef = animal agriculture. Brazil has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.



Yep, except again none of these detail the exports of Soy or Beef to the US. You said USA importation was the cause but it appears that Soy beans too are being exported to Asia not the US.

China buys about 60 percent of soybeans traded globally.

In 2011, China accounted for 43% of Brazilian (top destination) and 25% of Argentinean soy exports


Now would you care to back up your statement

>About 90% of cut Amazon is solely for beef production and soy exports for USA beef production.

Nothing you've supplied comes close to asserting this statement

Yes, I apologize, my statement refers to 90% of cut Amazon. Not that 90% of it is cut for USA.

As for the beef and soy exports it's not enough to check just the exports number. The most important number is beef consumption. Per capita the US has a pretty small consumption. But compared to EU or China, the US is leading, extremely in absolute amounts.


I don't know when we as humans are going to fucking get it together and start acting like a better species. I hope that the rate of climate change will push us to stop worrying about what bathroom another human decides to use or whom one selects to love and focus more on the ill's of the collective.

This isn't about "getting it together". "If only humans were more perfect, everything would be ok" arguments are obnoxious, and pathologizing all of humanity reeks of a recycling of the "original sin" dogma on the right. It's ironic to both laud the greater good and write off a whole species in a single comment.

There are people high in conscientiousness, who like to follow innumerable rules, moralize others who don't, and administer justice and revenge (on both sides of the political spectrum). There are people high in openness and empathy, who like to think "big picture" and try to improve the world.

These are just personality traits. Both types of people have existed throughout history, exist now, and will exist.

Defeatism will not bring about any change. Build your own platforms, brands, build followings, and change things. The masses have never brought about any change, they only ever did so when being led.

Pontificate away young man, pontificate away.

I genuinely think people will not change until the worst affects of climate change begin.

My biggest fear today is that we're already screwed and just don't know it. This article turned out to be a "We expected this and now we've found it" but every morning I worry I'll see a headline like this and it'll be "We turned over this one rock and found something we didn't expect. Prepare for global famine in 2 years."

On our current course I'm quite optimistic that we'll be able to turn the ship around - I think between tech accelerating and the climate itself starting to put the screws on us, we'll have powerful enough tools and enough resources poured into them to save ourselves. However, that's if we stay on the apparent current course. I'm really scared we'll hit a discontinuity of some sort.

We know it.

Release of CO2 has entered a positive feedback loop. Thawing tundra, burning forests, ocean acidification.

Even this we could counter (painfully) with massive industrial scale sequestration.

What worries me is methane. I'm not sure we can mitigate methane released from the tundra. And if the stuff tucked under the ocean pops, we're toast.


What I don't get about the positive feedback loop argument is that it seems completely at odds with what the IPCC is saying, namely limiting emissions in order to stabilize global warming at 2 degrees.

If we were in a positive feedback loop, then global warming will just continue to accelerate no matter how small our emissions are. In fact, we'd be equally screwed if we magically stopped emitting CO2 in 1950, it would just take a little bit longer before we're screwed.

Can anyone explain how to reconcile these arguments?

Methane doesn't stay in the atmosphere nearly as long which means that, in theory, it would cause some short term warming, but then the methane would break down and we would slowly return to more normal levels. There are alot of unknowns, and while a very worst case scenario involves runaway methane causing warming, we don't know how likely this is to happen. We do know that CO2 takes hundreds of years to dissipate and will cause the ice caps to melt which will lead to higher sea levels overall.

IPCC does consider tundra, methane, feedback loops.


Citations elided:

"Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems (particularly ombrotrophic bog communities, see Glossary) above permafrost were considered likely to be most vulnerable to climatic changes, since impacts may turn Arctic regions from a net carbon sink to a net source. Literature since the TAR suggests that changes in albedo and an increased release of methane from carbon stocks, whose magnitudes were previously substantially underestimated, will lead to positive radiative climate forcing throughout the Arctic region."

In my opinion, even the worst possible effects of climate change (flooding, storms, acidification, desertification, species die-off, restoration of crocodiles living on Greenland)...

will not be enough of a problem for the most-polluting humans to care about

> will not be enough of a problem for the most-polluting humans to care about

I live in the country that pollutes the most per capita. I'm ashamed to say I haven't significantly changed my behavior and consumption patterns. But I look around myself and nobody else has either. Heck, we even voted in someone whose team wants to take actions that accelerate climate change. So this party will keep going until something terrible happens that actually impacts the folks at the top.

They will move to New Zealand or make Hail Mary effort to colonize off-planet, and then war and famine pick off the 5-6 billion people that the earth cannot sustain (absent massive changes). Some of the people at the top know about this (in the country you are referencing), and they don't care. This is why they are attempting to systematically take apart health care, education, means of disseminating information, and other pillars of a resilient civic society.

>I haven't significantly changed my behavior and consumption patterns

You shouldn't be ashamed about this per se, because the type of action that will combat climate change is action by governments and corporations. An Inconvenient Truth made everyone think that small personal decisions are the way toward a greener future (think changing your lightbulb), but they aren't.

No, small personal decisions are the way forward. As that accumulates opinion which then changes which party and policies people vote for, their buying patterns, etc and therefore changes government/corporations.

Will it though? That's what worries me about climate change. I think the whole situation is subject to Jevons Paradox:


Using less CO2 (for a given activity) without reducing well being much just means we are becoming more efficient with it. Which means we could potentially use more CO2, globally.

Don't get me wrong, I think individual action is good. But will it solve it? I think the only things that would solve it are:

1. Making a source of energy superior enough to CO2 that people don't even desire carbon 2. Leaving the carbon in the ground

I think #1 may be a precondition for #2.

Of course, if the small personal decisions help develop the technology in #1, they may help more directly than simply reducing consumption.

I believe you're right about individual decisions to become more active on these issues can make a difference both on the government and the business level. In many ways, it already has made a difference as many businesses, even in the most cautious industries, have tried to at least do something to reduce their emissions.

However, the impacts of an individual, even collectively, don't matter much on this issue. The change has to come in the way energy is generated in the large scale if it's going to make a difference in the problem. It also takes actions from government like a carbon tax or incentives to create more clean energy sources, or both to push these collective decisions in a better direction.

This position though is pretty much contingent on nearly every person making nearly every environmentally-friendly decision then, no?

How do you think people decide which small personal decisions to make?

I don't blame you :) it is a crisis of leadership for sure, since so many rich businesses are polluting, and so many individual consumers justify things to themselves by saying "but i NEED my SUV, mcmansion, refrigerator" and etc

in my opinion it will be more necessary to find a way to suck co2 out of the atmosphere and place it somewhere, rather than attempt to limit how much demand there is for things that produce it as a waste product

"find a way to suck co2 out of the atmosphere and place it somewhere"

That's what forests do, and we're cutting them down with alacrity.

Also, I don't think you're done the "number of humans" x "energy consumption of suv + mcmansion" + "carbon density of likely fuel sources" math yet. It is simply impossible to sustain.

More trees and plant cover can help in the short term, but it's not going to solve the long term problem because those trees will break down and release the CO2 they've captured. This wasn't always the case as the ability for microbes and fungi to break down trees evolved later, which is how many of those coal deposits were created in the first place.

The main benefits from forest are habitats for wildlife, prevention of erosion, and ways to improve biodiversity. Their benefits to climate change are limited to reduced sunlight absorption because of their higher reflectivity and a small amount of a carbon sink if they take over land that was cleared and turned into plains, or farms or whatever.

Yup, fully aware of the Carboniferous period. But in a world with fungi, the CO2 is still trapped as the living trees and as trees die they are replaced with new ones. There is a steady state equilibrium.

I am not pro SUV or pro mcmansion

i am pro forest

Me too! Wasn't implying otherwise :)

Sweet!! It is a funny situation, isn't it? We have a natural organism that does quite literally suck CO2 out of the air and replace it with O2, which we just so happen need to breathe.

and yet many actors from many different societal origins are chopping down trees for furniture, building, fuel, etc etc. If the answer is as simple as "hire a bunch of people to plant trees", then it makes one wonder why money hasn't been diverted for this either at a governmental or charity level

Seems promising: Meet the Scientist Turning CO2 Into Ethanol - http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/green-tech/interview...

It is just a battery, and not a very good one. The energy efficiency is only 20% - meaning you have to use 4 times the energy to run the reaction and convert the CO2 as you will get from burning the ethanol. And of course burning the ethanol releases the CO2. If you want to sequestor carbon I don't think this is a promising route to take.

Great, thank you! this would help put a dent in climate change AND land use complaints surrounding ethanol :)

We already have this technology, they're known as CO2 scrubbers.

I have a bad memory but I seem to recall Sergey Bring or Larry Wall or someone "important in technology" saying that this is basically already a solved problem -- heavily investing in to CO2 scrubber technology, hooking the things up via solar, and deploying them across the world's deserts -- but that todays problem is that leadership problem you mentioned. No one (Government) wants to foot the bill.


What makes you think that people will change when the worst effects will begin?

I don't know if I'm a pessimist or a realist.

Are your views consistent with the sum total of human behavioral history? If so, I'd say you're not being pessimistic at all.

People are so worried about "which bathroom" precisely BECAUSE there's climate change and resource depletion going on. It's a giant collective act of procrastination, orchestrated by an elite whose profits depend on keeping that procrastination going as long as possible. The worse it gets, expect all the more ferocious distraction attempts and non-issues presented as issues for you to deal with and get excited about. (See flag burning, gay marriage, gun control... Anything to prevent a realistic consensus.)

Never. It is similar to the reason we have economic bubbles even when everyone knows it's a bubble. Some people just want to "get theirs" before it all comes crumbling down.

We won't. We're going to die as we lived, like dumb animals.

Put a tax on carbon & market forces will solve everything. We'll have cleaner cities, and hopefully won't need to worry about runaway climate change. Yeah, some rich people will suffer, but that's OK they are rich and won't stop being rich when their industries are forced to change.

If you tried to tax carbon market forces would run a massive disinformation and propaganda campaign. Market forces would spend massive amounts on campaigns electing anti tax legislators. If a tax was passed they would sue, obstruct, and lobby for years and decades constantly trying to water it down and kill it. Market forces are stronger then our democracy. We are doomed.

I would have thought this, but conservatives are actually starting to make a case for a Carbon Tax. See the most conservative voices in the Wall Street Journal today, for instance.

They'll want complete regulatory rollback in return, which will leave it to the left to decide whether it's a worthwhile trade off.

Personally, I think it is. What happened with Washington State's Carbon Tax proposal is a bad omen though. Had bipartisan consensus but fell apart due to fighting between the left and the left.

My understanding (reading, friends of friends) is that most of industry is on board with a carbon tax. Among other reasons, businesses need predictability.

But as always there's a few defectors who screw it up for everyone else, eg Koch brothers.

> Put a tax on carbon & market forces will solve everything.

Unless you can get India and China onboard you will solve nothing. You will just end up moving more manufacturing to those countries. Total CO2 emitted will not change.

The West could prevent emissions arbitrage with CO2 tariffs on imports set at the same cost per ton as the domestic carbon tax. Something like: goods produced abroad need to have a CO2 audit chain with proven integrity for imported goods to be CO2-taxed at the manufacturer's claimed emissions intensity. Otherwise the importing country assumes an unfavorable (high) default CO2 intensity for goods produced abroad and taxes are high.

That wouldn't necessarily prevent high emissions linked to domestic-only consumption-and-production in China, India, and other developing nations, but it would be a powerful incentive as long as those countries have a lot of trade with the developed world. And it would probably tend to make developing nations' domestic-production-for-domestic-consumption activity cleaner by accelerating adoption (and pushing down costs) of lower-carbon technologies starting in export driven industries.

That wouldn't help. You can't "target" energy that way because it is fungible.

The country would claim "all exports are made from the renewable energy, and all hydrocarbon energy is used for internal consumption".

I suppose you could set import tariffs based on the entire country's energy balance, but then you disincentive any individual producer from doing anything.

On top of that you can "wash" energy. Make solar cells using hydrocarbon energy, then import them to another country and claim "see, we are all solar" - but of course they aren't since the energy used just came from a different country.

As free market perfect as it seem, a CO2 tax is impossible in the details unless it was truly global (which would never work since the incentive for a country to cheap is enormous).

Yup, it's got to be a global tax. Tax the sources: coal, oil, and gas producers forced to collect a tax on top of everything they sell.

Money used to protect rainforest & other ecologically important places, fund clean energy research, and maybe even to install solar, wind, storage, and car charging points.

China is on board though, they are implementing an ETS

So what can we do about it? Is anyone still seriously working on iron fertilization to encourage phytoplankton growth? [0]

The main arguments I've heard against it is that we don't know what the effect will be on the ecosystem:

> The side effects of large-scale iron fertilization are not yet known. Creating phytoplankton blooms in naturally iron-poor areas of the ocean is like watering the desert: in effect it changes one type of ecosystem into another

Well, guess what? We're going to affect the ocean ecosystems negatively if we don't reduce atmospheric CO2, and I don't see that happening any time soon. How about we just go for broke and try it out on the off chance it helps things?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_fertilization

It's not a great solution for a variety of reasons. First, it costs energy to extract the iron and dump it in areas of the ocean, so we'd have to do this in a way that generates less CO2 than it sucks out from the plankton (in which case, why do we need the plankton?). Second, it will cause large blooms which suck all of the O2 out of the water and fish will die off in those areas. Third, if we don't go ahead and reduce emissions, this will maybe buy time but not solve the actual problem.

These sorts of solutions are only a good idea if we finally get moved over to a low carbon economy and still find we can't reduce warming any other way.

This is genuinely scary. I'm especially concerned over both the loss of food to populations, and the suggested nitrous oxide loop for further warming.

You should be thorough terrified. It's completely appropriate to be scared. It is more than likely that this is going to result in the end of modern human civilization within 100 years given food supply failures, civic unrest, degree of difficulty to exploit marginal traditional sources of raw materials, and the degree of nuclear proliferation that exists.

Could it be that as a species, humans have failed to evolve the intelligence required for ensuring long term survival, even though we have the short term ability to manipulate our environment to a certain degree of benefit.

We have enough intelligence to build technological civilization.

Barely. If that had been possible at any lower level of intelligence, then it would have happened sooner. We're the stupidest possible technological species.

Or maybe the jump from biological to technological is actually really really ridiculously hard. We didn't evolve in a vacuum...we share and shared the earth with many other vicious species and environmental effects, and we had to come out on top. We had to evolve certain behaviors to even make it to the technological point. And the persistence of those behaviors in our evolutionary memory is what ensured we survived. And now we're just supposed to shed them off because of 100 years of technology? People are thinking too micro. Change does not happen that fast. You can't shed off in-group preferences, general selfishness, and combativeness because those are the things that literally pushed us into these higher stages of evolution.

Personally I think the earth isn't fit for a long term evolution of a technological species, if its environment starts collapsing so soon. Again, 100 years is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and people are arguing that 100 years of technology is destroying the earth. We need a lot longer than 100 years to get anywhere useful.

Not necessarily -- we just need the 5% of humans who survive the disaster to be the smart, appropriate-to-advance ones.

Evolution is full of times that a species reached a chokepoint and a subgroup with a trait was selected for. No reason ecological disaster caused by technology couldn't be one of those times, even if unfortunate for most humans.

Heck, global ecological disaster could be viewed as a copy-cat oxygenation event prompted by intelligent psychopaths to make room for their offspring in a crowded field.

tl;dr: Humans are just parodying the great oxygenation event with the great carbonation event.

I see your point, but it makes the assumption that there is a good biological trait to be selected for, and I'm unconvinced that accumulated wealth is a signal of that trait.

Absolutely. We are such a hilarious / terrifying mix of capability and limitation.

If by intelligence, you mean in aggregate terms, I am very inclined to endorse your position here that we collectively as a species are not smart enough to solve these complex problems as some of us aren't up to the task and challenge at hand and can't even begin to comprehend what's at stake here for the fate of humanity and other living organisms on the planet.

I don't think "failed to evolve" is the right way of putting it since we are literally the only species in existence that lacks this trait.

Could it be that intelligence, at least the kind of intelligence humans have, is not adaptive?

We would solve most of this problem if we'd get people to 1) stop buying new cars unless their previous car had died, 2) stop commuting to work, and 3) stop living in situations which require lots of driving. If we incentivized companies to transition all possible staff to remote positions, we'd eliminate a huge amount of emissions. The problem is that while everyone knows cars produce a huge amount of emissions, no one is willing to not buy that fancy new car. I mean, "it gets better gas mileage!", or "it's electric!" passifies everyone's environmental concerns. Never mind that new car production is incredibly environmentally unfriendly (in most cases driving an old car, even one with poorer emissions profile or worse gas mileage, is better on net for the environment), and that all the commuting we do is disastrous for the environment. But until the problem is owned at the personal level nothing will change. A big piece of this is that politicians aren't interested in going to bat against the auto manufacturers. No politician wants to be linked to the death of such a huge industry (and a loss of hundreds of thousands or millions of jobs). The only way this will change is if all of us start to 1) live close to work (so we can walk, cycle, or simply drive less) or require remote work options, 2) own fewer and older model cars and drive them until they die, and 3) contact our elected representatives to encourage them to support law and policy which incentivizes employers to employ remote workers. We would all do well, too, to remember the three Rs: reduce (our consumption), reuse (buy used and put off replacing our possessions until absolutely necessary), and recycle (duh).

But when even climate warriors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore show wanton disregard for the cost of their lifestyle on the environment (apparently they like to raise a ruckus, but expect others to do something magical about it), there's little hope for things to get much better any time soon. Talk is cheap, people; Let's see some real action on a personal level.

Howdy! I work in cleantech, and I guess it's that time again for your wall of links about what you can do to fight climate change.

To start, here's my favorite climate change joke: "They say we won't act until it's too late... Luckily, it's too late!"

So what can you do about it?

Work at a new energy technology company! We are currently growing exponentially[1], and we need as many smart people as we can get. There are lots of companies hiring software engineers.

How do I find a job fighting climate change?

I'd recommend browsing the exhibitor and speaker lists from the most recent conference in each sector (linked below).

    * Energy Storage[2][3]
    * Solar[4][5]
    * Wind[6]
    * Nuclear[7]
    * Electric Utilities[8][9]
    * Electric vehicles[10]
Also, if you're in the SF bay area, I'd recommend subscribing to my Bay Area Energy Events Calendar[11]. Just start showing up to events and you'll probably find a job really quickly.

[1]: https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/22/energy-is-the-new-new-inte...

[2]: http://www.esnaexpo.com/

[3]: https://www.greentechmedia.com/events/live/u.s.-energy-stora...

[4]: https://www.intersolar.us/

[5]: http://www.solarpowerinternational.com/

[6]: http://www.windpowerexpo.org/

[7]: https://www.nei.org/Conferences

[8]: http://www.distributech.com/index.html

[9]: https://www.greentechmedia.com/events/live/grid-edge-world-f...

[10]: http://tec.ieee.org/

[11]: https://bayareaenergyevents.com/

>The authors then used interpolation techniques for areas of the ocean where they lacked measurements.

Speaking as someone that studied pure mathematics more than science, I am curious as to whether there is formal justification that this interpolation is valid. As far as I understand, global systems like this often, if not always, exhibit chaotic behavior.

Must be: Sunke Schmidtko, Lothar Stramma and Martin Visbeck have detected a major change to the Earth's oceans.

"Total fake news". In other times this comment would mean I am a stupid person, a wannabe troll but now it is just a sad state of affairs.

For all the climate change deniers and skeptics that point out WaPo is a "liberal" outlet as a way to skip even reading the data: How about the scientific journal Nature ?


While I'm at it, please explain why science has become so politicized by the political right.

I have literally heard my conservative friends say they think "science is leftist" and Obama paid off scientists around the world to blow up a global warming hoax.

Tell me, why would an American political party engage in an elaborate hoax with scientists around the world, and somehow "pay them all off", just so they would... what, raise your gas prices? Subsidize clean energy?

For that matter why would scientists around the world spend years studying complicated subjects, and then decades doing research, and NEARLY ALL accept a bribe from the leftists of YOUR country to sabotage their own sensors and models and data?

Finally - and here is the kicker - what are you afraid of if we transition away from fossi fuels? Electric cars open up electricity to be generated in a variety of ways. Wind farms have just powered OVER HALF of the central USA. Investment in solar has just overtaken fossil fuels. There are plenty of jobs to be made.

Why are the "conservatives" so keen on subsidizing the fossil fuel industry so the government can pick winners and losers? If fossil fuels become too expensive, that means more innovation and investment in clean energy generation!

Where is the economic loss from this? I am always amazed just how much "Stockholm Syndrome" the conservatives have when it comes to big corporations. Whatever they do - big bonuses to CEOs, pollution, etc. it is always rabidly defended by a mob angry that any criticism of their destructive activities, whether by scientists or by people who lost their jobs, is "socialism" and "libtards".

Do you really think preventing the rise of sea levels, deforestation and loss of millions of species through overfishing, factory farms, colony collapse disorder etc. is going to tank your economy? Isn't this the height of idiocy?

"While I'm at it, please explain why science has become so politicized by the political right."

I hope I can answer this from a neutral perspective.

The left gave up on implementing global socialism; it was rejecting by the populations of almost every country in the world, when given a democratic choice.

Then climate change came along and with it solid scientific evidence. The left jumped on it as a reason to implement a global anti-capitalist societal change towards the left. Therefore green issues were hijacked by the left, and the right responded by being anti-green.

And that's how we ended up in the absurd situation we are in now.

I don't think you can blame this on "the left" whatever that means, any more than you can stick all of this on a single issue on "the right". And your points about ideology are just wrong. These are complex coalitions of politicians with many different reasons behind why they act the way they do, but this entire "left vs. right" ideology is just post facto reasoning for the most part.

If you look at "the right" you have:

1. Religious Conservatives that genuinely believe the Earth is 6000 years old and Evolution is a complete fabrication. These people have always been anti-Science. Antivaxxers and climate change denialists are a just the latest round of this.

2. People who are employed or supported by the fossil fuel industry. This is the same unreasonable skepticism that you hear from the Tobacco industry, the Patent trolls, or any other group with alot of money and few scruples. They found allies in "the Right" who could use their campaign dollars and didn't care much about this issue so they just go along with it as it allowed them to get backing for issues they do care about.

3. People who just don't like "the left" and believe that if people they don't like are saying it, it must be false. This is probably the largest bloc. They don't care about climate change (much) and just follow the lead on this issue because the people who are saying "climate change isn't happening" also agree with them on a number of other issues that they do care about.

I agree. Ideological policies have been coupled too tightly to the scientific facts of the matter, so much so that its an easy sell as a political conspiracy theory.

I'm not sure how we go about fixing it. Its very frustrating.

The answer to your question as I understand it is that conservatives (and libertarians) are never going to be OK with the idea that they need to participate in collective action of any kind.

Conservatives and their fellow-travelers have an obsession with this idea that humans are and should always be completely discreet entities with the fewest inter-connecting responsibilities as possible. It's the ultimate narcissistic ideology. It doesn't help that when people believe that their best interests are when they're divided, they're most easily preyed upon by those who REALLY hold the reins of power. The conservative ideology is Condorcet's Secret writ large.

As you've probably deduced, heading off the worst effects of Climate Change is probably the biggest collective action problem humankind has yet encountered.

Since you are the most scientific person here, could you talk about the oxygenation levels during interglacial periods? Also, what did humans do then to reduce CO2 emissions?

Edit: Science doesn't win when you downvote inconvenient questions.

Yeah, yeah. It turns out that it's unlikely that sea level was glacioeustatically higher than present by more than a few meters during any interglacial of the past 2.5 million years as a result of accounting for oxygenation levels during interglacial periods. A few meters affects billions. Are you liking those odds?

There are a number of theories on what starts and stops ice ages, none of them having to do with human intervention, sure. Does that mean that the rise of CO2, especially if it comes from human activity, shouldn't be reduced now? I think not.

2.5 million years far exceeds my expectation for human survival. You aren't comparing apples to apples when we are talking about date ranges that large. What are humans going to do that will prevent the dike from bursting when we are dealing with geologicial change? We might as well pretend we can stop earthquakes.

Humans don't need to do anything about CO2 emissions. We'll do whatever we do, they'll do what that leads to, and other stuff will go down accordingly. Humanity may go digital, so ecosystem disruption won't matter so much, except perhaps esthetically. But whatever happens, I suspect that the ride will get bumpy for a while.

Edit: I'm not arguing against reducing CO2 emissions. I'm just saying that it probably won't happen. That shit will happen. And that, over the long term, natural selection will deal with it all.

I completely agree with you. Unfortunately some truths are too offensive for science tourists.

> While I'm at it, please explain why science has become so politicized by the political right.

Please select your desired counter-point.

- "At least I vaccinate my children."

- "I'm having a dinner party, GMOs and gluten okay?"

- "I'm sure homeopathic hemp water will cure cancer someday."

- "Sorry these responses are so rude. I'm a Sagittarius."

- "I'm not sure what I'm more scared of: chem-trails or nuclear power."

- "After this conversation, my aura will be radiating 'pro-science'."

If you stopped and said to yourself, "I don't believe any of those!" Congratulations, use your new found empathy to find common ground with conservatives who do accept climate change.

It may come as a shock but some people want to help the environment and don't want socialism. Go figure!

I too resent that climate science has become politicized, however large groups of people refusing to engage in any discussion is not the only issue here. Those that label anyone who question any facet of climate science as skeptics or deniers are just as much a part of the issue.

As someone who has worked in science for several years, questioning is central to understanding any scientific inquiry--especially with regard to such an incredibly complex and nuanced field as climatology. If these questions are continuously suppressed our understanding will ultimately be skewed.

I only hope that we can continue this discourse on such an important subject without resorting to immediate emotional responses in order to come to the most accurate picture that we possibly can.

I think that's a great talking point, but the fact is most people don't know what they don't know about this issue. You can't have a meaningful discussion with someone who doesn't know enough about it to figure out why "Methane triggered runaway climate change" may be a reasonable point of debate, but "CO2 reflection of infrared light causes increased warming" is not.

And for the most part, people don't want to educate themselves on this issue because you end up being either completely worried about what is happening and discouraged about the future, or you end up having to start examine critically many other points of Conservative ideology which can turn into alot of introspection and work that most people don't want to do.

This is just an orchestrated and sophisticated astro-turfing campaign launched by the oil and gas industry and in light of the hyper-polarized political landscape in the US, the Right had to pick the polar opposite of the Left's stance on the environment and climate change to prepare for another showdown with the Left and when you take into account that some are driven and motivated solely by their disdain for their opponent and not by the issue in question, it makes perfect sense that they feel so strong about this issue and fight environmental initiatives that would address the root causes of climate change.

I will (for argument sake) concede every point you made. Every point.

Two questions to ponder -

Is climate change "good" or "bad"? What causes climate change?

I suspect that the largest driver is solar activity.

Anyway, please keep "left" vs "right" out of this.

Create more jobs in renewables and the problem solves itself. I have a solar installation out of necessity in one particular application, and in another I purchase wind power from the grid by choice because it offers competitive rates in my electrical market. I voted with my wallet and you should be able to as well.

Not if the federal government keeps subsidizing fossil fuels to keep them competitive.

What are the major forms of fossil fuel subsidization, and are there no subsidies for renewables?

Just interested in the magnitude of what's really happening.

How about these



And the USA isn't alone


When the government stops subsidizing fossil fuels 10x more than renewables, look what happens:


But Trump and the Republicans might reverse that again.

> https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/environment...

"The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change."

It's not that there isn't something important to be discussed there, but if that's the type of subsidy you're referring to when you say "oil is subsidized", it's going to be a messy, inconclusive argument, at least in part because your argument is based on (necessarily) made up numbers.

> When the government stops subsidizing fossil fuels 10x more than renewables, look what happens

No, that's what happens when renewables technology becomes economically competitive, this has nothing at all to do with the subsidy noted above.

I think you may have missed the second and third link.

Well, the 2nd link states:

"In contrast, estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA) released in June showed that $557bn was spent by governments during 2008 to subsidise the fossil fuel industry."

...citing a document behind a paywall. So once again, I have no idea what the nature of these "subsidies" are.

From the 3rd:

"But over the course of the parliament, the department has given financial support worth just £3.6m to green energy projects around the world, data released to the Guardian under freedom of information rules shows.

By comparison, UKEF allocated £1.13bn to help fossil fuel energy operations in the same period, 314 times more. The support was in the form of loans, loan guarantees and other export credit support."

Referencing the cited link, one example is: "A US$367 million loan provided to JSC Gazprom to finance an export contract won by Rolls-Royce Power Engineering for the supply and installation of natural gas pumping units for the completion of a new compressor station near Vyborg, Northwestern Russia".

So unless I am mistaken, the entire value of a loan is claimed to be a subsidy. That is beyond intellectually dishonest, and that is just one example of why I do not trust the left, environmentalists, etc - very often, advocates on that side simply do not have a background for critical thought, mathematics, etc; they simply do not have the skills to properly assess the actual nature of many if not most of the things they are criticizing, and in my experience they are most definitely not interested in discussion in order to come to some agreement of what the truth is.

I've never seen good solid numbers that I liked. However, I'd say more than $100B/yr by US government, to protect our global supply chain of oil distribution. For instance, I'd say the entire cost of being in Iraq was an oil subsidy.

Well it certainly could, when the renewables industry has a plausible plan for complete replacement of conventional energy, I'm happy to support it with my tax dollars, or even before. And when that infrastructure is in place, I will happily remove my support for protecting this supply chain.

But until then, calling this a "subsidy" of the oil industry is a bit of a mischaracterization. (But not complete, as these costs should most definitely be included in a comprehensive analysis when setting policy.)

Extraction itself, especially of oil, is directly subsidized by the Federal government in terms of tax breaks to the tune of billions of dollars. There is also permits to extract oil and coal on public lands, including some national parks. There's the entire military industrial complex set up to defend trade in these resources. Finally, there's an entire political party devoted to fighting any effort to put in place a carbon tax or other measure which would account for the emissions of CO2 as a pollutant that is an external cost of burning oil, coal, and gas.

What's the case for subsidies?

1. Oil security from something like the oil crisis of the 70s.

2. Domestic jobs, especially in places like North Dakota or Louisiana which wouldn't have nearly the tax base they do without coal and oil jobs.

Well you know, OPEC drops prices and that causes us to abort all future investment in fossil fuels. Can't have that. So let's subsidize them.


First of all, I doubt you are going to find many deniers or skeptics of climate change on hn, but I would like to point out that there is a vast difference between being a skeptic of the science and being a skeptic of the political/business agenda being pushed along with the science. Just because you may agree with it, for the group you are addressing in large, the "political right", it is a major issue (although not just with them).

There are some legitimate criticisms of science to be had, but before I get to those, I would like to talk about the less concrete issues surrounding the problem.

1) The American education system is failing to adequetly inculcate a scientific mindset in the populous.

2) Media filter-bubbles abuse this lack of scientific education to push agendas of one type or another.

3) The poorer population in general and the political right specifically have a social history of distrust, often rightful, of the intelligensia, academia, and the business and political elite.

4) None of these issues are purely tied to any political party, and are much more about social class and social mobility issues rather than left/right false paradigms.

5) Lack of monetary power and what is essentially wage slavery for a vast majority of the populace reduces the amount of time available for people to engage in intellectual pursuit of self-improvement. (combined with the relatively new requirement of both man and woman to work to sustain what formerly a man could sustain, further impacting childrens education)

So that's how you get a group of politically far right people denying climate change in general without any understanding of the issue specifically: first, they haven't done any reading of their own, (due to 1 and 5), the little information they do get is through a corporate/government infiltrated filter bubble (2), and this manifests itself via (3) in the form of complete dismissal of arguments.

Now, on to some more specific scientific criticisms.

A) Scientific quality is not nearly as good as you think. Papers themselves are used to further careers, and less and less are peer-reviewed (or peer-reviewable due to high specialization and/or costs). Journals often have a monetary interest in publishing and do at best lackluster job of editorial filtering, and often the actual science for the general public is behind a paywall despite the fact most of it is publicly funded. That's not even getting into the vast glut of just plain bad science being published, even in good journals. I held science up on a pedestal until as a sysadmin at a genetics company I started actually reading them as a job requirement... bad science abounds and is rarely called out.

B) Scientific claims are often highly exaggerated or misinterpreted by the political and business class for self-interested pursuits. We have all seen this in action, where a paper says something relatively benign but it is taken completely out of context to support some initiative or another.

So that's just a start to answer your many politically charged questions, and I would like to say I do highly protest the divisive and polarizing manner in which you verbalized them. Part of the key probem in this country is this hegellian labeling of the other, whether it is on the right or the left or anywhere in between. Personally, I think the real war is between the up and down factions (eg, the uber-rich and the middle-class and the poor), but your dismissive manner is unlikely to be anything but abrasive to anybody but the most intellectual of the conservatives.

To illustrate a small example of the kind of distrust of intellectuals, allow me to tell a small story: My grandfather was a logger in the rocky mountain forests in the 70's, working with native americans, and I grew up in the national forest. I remember throughout my childhood, him advocating to the forest service along with other old-timer loggers that they needed to allow them to thin-out the forests by selective logging (not clearcutting) or else there would be major issues down the road. All the PHD environmentalists the forest service hired though dismissed all their sage advice and thought they knew better, reduced controlled burn actions to almost nill and thought everything was going swimmingly... until the pine beetle infestation took hold, and then within a 10 year period we had two forest fires that burned 538,049 acres and 468,638 acres respectively. When they happened I remember my grandfathers words, which I had dismissed as crazy old timer talk being dismissive of the scientists awesome knowledge, and realized he was right. That's a good example of the kind of intellectual bubble the scientists can create that fosters mistrust in the lower classes and in the right in particular.

This is a uniquely American problem that is affecting the world. For the world's sake, please educate the lunatic right.

While I'm at it, please explain why science has become so politicized by the political right.

A question I've pondered many, many times. I believe it's because they are angry that businesses have to lose any profits dealing with the effects of producing less pollution.

The rest of your rant sounds like thoughts I've had going on in my mind. In a loop. It drives me crazy some days.

Please stop calling them skeptics, that's not what skeptics means, they call themselves skeptics to give themselves a badge of honor.

We should call them what they are: Deniers.

Turning climate issues into a religious problem doesn't help anyone.

Science doesn't have believers and deniers.

What religion has to do with my comment? They are denying science facts, they are deniers not skeptics. Where the hell did you read religion in my comment?

Science does have believers and deniers...

If you deny that science is real, that is being a science denier. If you believe that it is real, that is being a science believer.

Was my comment so ambiguous?

I guess it was.

> why would scientists around the world spend years studying complicated subjects, and then decades doing research, and NEARLY ALL accept a bribe from the leftists of YOUR country to sabotage their own sensors and models and data?

Because the human mind is extremely susceptible to delusion. Delusions which are more important to the holder than reality.

It's hard to admit that you might very well be wrong. That your well-intentioned actions may very well be causing damage not only to the world, but to you yourself. It's much easier to deny that, and claim (evidence to the contrary) that your intentions are well and good.

Otherwise intelligent and functional people can hold dear the most ludicrous delusions. Because they're emotionally important.

And in the end, emotion over-rules reason for most cases.

Edit No, I don't mean the scientists are delusional. I mean the climate change deniers are. Pay attention, people.


Read the article published in "Nature" instead:

> Ocean models predict a decline in the dissolved oxygen inventory of the global ocean of one to seven per cent by the year 2100, caused by a combination of a warming-induced decline in oxygen solubility and reduced ventilation of the deep ocean.

> It is thought that such a decline in the oceanic oxygen content could affect ocean nutrient cycles and the marine habitat, with potentially detrimental consequences for fisheries and coastal economie


Apparently, you're new here. So let me give you a bit of orientation here.

This kind of gratuitous politically-charged commentary is frowned upon and discouraged here.

You're more than welcome to express your opinion without resorting to dismissive or inflammatory language that wouldn't add to the discussion.

Enjoy your time here

Last I checked, that was not published in a peer-reviewed journal.

And even disregarding the fact that this statement is a red herring, using your logic, there's a 2% chance that someone else could win. That means there is still a chance, no matter how small.

Read the paper and convince yourself.

The comment you responded to has a point - even I take WaPo-publications with a truckload of salts of grain nowadays and I don't even have a stake in US-politics.

so long and thanks for all the fish

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