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The Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone (economist.com)
257 points by qubitcoder on Apr 28, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 179 comments

Global warming aside, as a Canadian, I'm disappointing in what our government has down to protect our sovereignty in the Canadian northern archipelago.


Had we invested in a navy base in the north, and a few ice breakers, then we could have been the owner of the "panama canal of the arctic".

We would have a monopoly on what traffic goes through the Canadian archipelago which would help offset the cost of policing the north.

We would be able to do things like prohibit oil tankers and other hazardous materials if we wanted.

At this point I think we've all but given away any claim to being able to dictate who travels through our northern islands. The arctic will be policed by the American's and Russians, and used heavily by ships travelling to the east coast of the US and Europe from China.

Hopefully at the least, we'll be able to push for things to protect the arctic waters like no resource mining, think offshore oil rigs, and no oil tankers travelling through those waters.

Harper's administration, though losing focus on the issue by the end, was keen on enforcing the Canadian Internal Waters claim [1][2]. Trudeau, not at all [3].

To the detriment of Canadians, major players around the rest of the world consider these waters international waters, and on the international level, might (or the lack of response thereof) leads to facts-on-the-ground, as we've seen time and time again.

[1] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-north/myth-... [2] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/franklin-find-as-much-ab... [3] http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-obama-arctic-1.39059...

That's because a majority of Canadians have a visceral negative reaction to any military spending. We're happy to claim the Arctic, but not if it involves money, and definitely not if it involves money for the military. Which is, IMO, ridiculous. When it comes to territories like that it's "pay up or shut up".

Canada does not have a population large enough to actually have stewardship over the territory contained within its borders. The tax base simply isn't there. Effectively Canada is a 100 Km or so strip to the North of the United States a bit wider in some places. If you want to really claim all the land up North that is barely in use you'd need a population at least 10x the present one and even then it would be a stretch.

Infrastructure and defense costs are closely related to surface area and border length if you want to keep world class powers out of your backyard.

Which leads to one of my personal bug bears: that Canada should accept dramatically more immigration if it wants to maintain an independent presence in North America. I think this would go a long way to improving the business, economic and cultural climate in Canada as well as making us less of a push-over in dealing with the United States. Again, an opinion that is not shared. Most Canadians want the current immigration levels to be maintained or reduced.

>that Canada should accept dramatically more immigration if it wants to maintain an independent presence in North America.

I fully agree with you, but you have to see the irony in that statement: the more immigrants you take in the less independent you are.

Canada already have 20% of its population being forign-born[0]. Dramatically more immigration would mean that percentage rising to 30 or even 40%.

I'm a panhumanist and an immigrant myself, so I have zero problem with this, but I can understand why some native-born Canadians might be worried when that percentage rises too high.

[0] http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-010-x/99-01...

"[T]he more immigrants you take in the less independent you are". I don't see how this follows. The way I see it, you can be more independent because your size allows you to develop large internal markets, make it easier to develop cultural products that cater to your populace, and (as the poster above pointed out) make it easier to put together the scratch to defend your borders etc.

I think people are worried about immigration not because of independence, but because they worry that:

* The cultural makeup of the country is changing

* Immigrants will be a drain on public finances (particularly healthcare and welfare)

* Cities will become more crowded (really, people who speak of Toronto as crowded should visit Asian countries...)

> * Immigrants will be a drain on public finances

This is interesting because it's easily proven wrong. Usually immigrants are a net contributor to public finances, and moreso than “non-immigrants”. I believe that's because immigration policy is very selective so you mostly get able-bodied younger workers coming in, whereas the general population contains proportionally more children, elderly, sick people, etc.

Though I believe this also holds even for non-selective immigration (e.g. intra-EU, undocumented immigration from Mexico to the US) within certain parameters (probably not true for, say, refugees).

> you can be more independent

Provided you have a mix of immigration from a variety of cultures, and be careful of arising dominance.

I am of the opinion that the west coast of Canada will effectively be a Chinese colony "soon", and the rest of Canada will follow (not officially, of course), simply due to their growing economic dominance, in Canada and in general.

On the bright side, I suppose there are many far worse countries to be colonized by.

Also Northern California, Oregon and Washington, according to Igor Nikolaevich.


Map of theory outcome: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ce/Pa...

That theory seems plausible for when the theory was written (In the summer of 1998, based on classified data about the state of the U.S. economy and society[18] supplied to him by fellow analysts at FAPSI,[2] Panarin forecast the probable disintegration of the US into six parts in 2010) but I think he underestimates the ability for those in power to control the masses and the economic system on a truly massive scale.

Personally, I just think the west coast of North America is a particularly beautiful part of the world, add in all the advantages that come with being part of North America and it is a natural place for the elites from China to want to own a piece, which is precisely what they are doing. Couple that with the current fashion of "anti-racism" and anyone who happens to notice what's happening and comment on whether there may be some inherent risks (long term sovereignty, etc) is vigorously attacked as being a "racist".

I've always believed a well run ~dictatorship is the superior (well, most powerful) form of government, and it seems to me that is more or less what China has, so barring any missteps I think they will naturally take over the world relatively soon, perhaps with not a single shot being fired, it will be purely by immigration coupled with natural allegiance to the motherland, the notion of which in today's intellectual fashion in the west is laughed off as a racist conspiracy theory, but I suspect in most any Asian culture would be considered simple common sense.

You can see this to a degree in Vancouver Canada today, go to any family event and not only will it be majority Chinese, but more telling is baby strollers and children - non-Chinese will typically have zero or one child, while Chinese will typically have multiple. 75% of strollers are pushed by Chinese parents. Another interesting thing is, usually it will only be the mother in attendance, as the father is probably back home working in China (not paying Canadian taxes in the process, weakening the economy further). I doubt all of this is some grand conspiracy, but it is incredibly effective.

That said, I would never underestimate the capabilities of the various intelligence agencies in the west to take China down by some unseen nefarious means, however: a) I would think if this was ever going to happen, it would have started by now b) who do these people answer to, and do they particularly care whether China colonizes the west coast of North America?

>> I can understand why some native-born Canadians might be worried when that percentage rises too high.

And I thought the most of them are offsprings of immigrants like the majority of the North-Americans ...

They probably wouldn't worry if the new waves of immigration were coming from cultures similar to their ancestors. Doubt you'd hear a peep if a new wave of, say, Dutch, came over.

Though that's not a given in general. I live in Guatemala and of course everyone knows folks live in the US legally and illegally. The older ones that went illegally decades ago seem very negative on the current folks coming in.

Russia is similarly underpopulated given its area, but it doesn't prevent it from effectively controlling access to Siberia and Far East, even though those are also similar large swaths of unpopulated land.

Sure, infrastructure spending in those regions is at an all time high. Roughly 0. /s

Really, Russia is except for some large population centers pretty much bankrupt and it isn't that those parts of the world are so much better controlled it is a combination of them being so much less attractive combined with the fact that what money Russia had to spend on infrastructure it for the most part decided to spend on weapons instead. So they get to keep all of it but at the same time make their population so impoverished that once their natural gas and oil run out the whole thing will collapse even further.

I expect that by that time China will mop up the remains of the East of Russia without too much in terms of resistance because Russia simply won't be able to hold on to it.

The West does not have the appetite for the sort of quality of life Russians must lead to allow this as evinced by the differences in the healthcare budget and military spending as a percent of GDP between Canada and Russia.

At the end of WW II Canada had the world's third largest navy. I get that a military spending is like insurance: if you don't need it it's wasted money, and there are always other things to spend your cash on. But Canada really seems to have allowed its military to languish to an unnecessary degree.

And why wouldn't you? When you're friendly with the neighbors next door to the south, and they own the world's premier military and love to show it off, why wouldn't you outsource military spending to that neighbor? There are plenty of nice things you could buy with the savings.

I suppose, if you're willing to believe your neighbor to the south will always be willing to come to your aid when you call. Even assuming your interests don't conflict, that doesn't mean they'll always coincide.

I wonder if, for example, the US would be willing to threaten Chinese fishing boats to protect Canadian fisheries, should it come to that. I'm thinking probably not.

Also, the amount of influence you have in influencing policy in these international military coalitions depends in large part on how much you bring to the table. It's rarely, IMO, a good idea to get involved in coalition warfare, but you'd like to have the option if your country's interests would be served in doing so.

As long as the US thinks the northwest passage is an international passage then no amount of bases or ships would matter. Canada simply can't win that fight.

There are just too many ways for US to exert soft pressure on Canada: softwood lumber, NAFTA repeal, extra tariff and transit charges for oil sand output. (admittedly that last one might be a good thing for Earth)

The panama canal of the arctic won't be the northwest passage, it's going to be the eastern passage over russia. The NWP water is too shallow, badly cartographied, you still risk getting caught in ice and it has very dangerous storms. Shipping companies would rather take a few more days to get to the pacific than take a big risk.

This is correct. The only passage open the last few years has been the Lancaster Sound route which is not suitable for shipping. The Prince of Wales Strait is the only viable route, but hasn't opened up fully the last number of years.

In contrast, the Northeast passage has opened up every year for the last 10+ years and offers huge gains for ships from Asia to Europe. From wikipedia, the difference between Suez and NEP for Yokohama to Rotterdam is 37% shorter.

Only if we assume that sea level rise will not be significant, and that the changing climate will not affect common storm tracks.

How much of a military presence do we really need, in order to enforce regulations over shipping traffic though? Surveillance by spotter planes / drones, combined with the threat of legal action against the ship's owners, ought to deter all but the most hardcore bastards.

For them, in theory, a rare single cruise missile from Norad ought to suffice. Even then, you could start with a warning shot, and bill the ship's owner for the missile.

For more complicated missions, we could fly out a small inspection or police team in a flying boat. Instead of relying on arrays of 20cm cannons for protection, they would depend on the above mentioned system (which is similar to the Norad system already in service).

Not much. Denmark patrols similarly huge and empty arctic Greenland with a 14-man strong unit.


Sure, there's a bit more to it than that, but Denmark is a lot smaller than Canada, and has unremarkable military spending, even for its size.

> The arctic will be policed by the American's and Russians

As it always has, because we don't have the millitary power or population to defend any of our own territory. The US does that for us. It's unfortunate Canadians have been unable to expand in our own territory over the few hundred years Europeans have been in this place.

> It's unfortunate Canadians have been unable to expand in our own territory over the few hundred years Europeans have been in this place.

Personally I disagree - I think it's fortunate that there are still large swaths of undeveloped natural territory in Canada, particularly the northern provinces. It might be cold up there, but it sure is beautiful.

I agree we should have a stronger military presence up north but I don't see how that changes anything. Its still Canadian territory and Canada still gets to control who goes through there.

> Its still Canadian territory and Canada still gets to control who goes through there.

In theory. In practice Canada has neither the resolve, the funds or the strength to put that into practice. I'm not sure that's a bad thing either, the fact that Canada technically owns it but does not start drilling like mad or doing other bad stuff that far up North at least keeps things roughly as they are for now.

I've often wondered how long Canada can stay an independent country. I doubt it can last 100 more years, unfortunately. Some patriots in 1837 asked this very question as well, wondering why we shouldn't just join the USA and benefit from "more of everything" without sacrificing democracy. They were hanged.

The way Trump has acted towards Canada, talking about NAFTA etc, made me think of someone who has an eye for the territories up north...

Looking at the situation right now I'd think the opposite. It seems dubious for the U.S. as it is structured right now with its internal political tribal conflicts to last 100 more years, whereas Canada is more stable and internally harmonious now than it was for most of the 20th century.

Quebec separatism is mostly quiet. There's a left/centrist government in Alberta for the first time, reducing provincial tensions between the west and central Canada. Trade links with Europe and Asia have been broadened or are broadening. The economy remains spmewhat tepid but stable.

Meanwhile the U.S. itself has progressed closer and closer into the depths of right wing extremism, and shows no signs of healing.

The U.S. is not simply progressing into the depths of right-wing extremism, its extremism on both sides. If you watch Fox News, the administration and the republicans can do no wrong. Change the channel to MSNBC or CNN and the president can't do a damn thing right and all republicans are morons.

Agreed to an extent, but I think we're going to have to wait and see what the next four years have in store for us. A lot of being Canadian has to do with... not being American. The only place in Canada where I feel there is a definite core identity (completely separable from "not being american") is Quebec.

Harper being so pro-monarchy, insisting on the War of 1812 as being a national foundational myth, trying to assert soverignty in the North seem to be a realization of this identity problem. Also take the current celebrations for the federation's 150th anniversary: the branding completely skips the fact that there were people in the region calling themselves Canadiens for roughly 200 years prior...

Add to that the recent underwhelming documentary on the country's history done by the CBC and the current Premier's own belief that the country has no core identity (being "post-national").

All in all I believe there's a good chance that Canada as you and I know it today will not be around to celebrate another 100 years.

I sort of agree...

Canada has always been an elitist kleptocracy profiting off shipping out resources -- Laurentian or other elites whose fundamental modus operandi has been to control the process of digging stuff up, cutting it down, pumping it out, or trapping/killing/skinng it... and sending it out of the country while doing the least amount of industry building at home. It's always been the Family Compact, the HBC, CN, CP. A small club of elites. The current Prime Minister is the epitome of it.

Those people are still in charge and not going anywhere. As long as there's something to dig up and sell to the world they'll hold on for dear life.

Call me when you support increased military spending. Because that's what it'll take, and that's one of the few things Canadians universally don't think is all that important.

Yep, at this point we're going to be unable to prevent its claim as international waters - we didn't make it, and it's a useful waterway for travel.

Eh, history is long and moves in unpredictable ways. Just wait until the U.S. breaks up and Canada annexes the BosWash megalopolis and the West Coast, and then suddenly Canada will be policing the northwest passage again.

I seriously think Canadians should be worried more about Russia than the US. They are the ones laying claim to Canadian Arctic Waters not the USA.

I agree with the first half of your argument, but not the other.


I can see the western states coming in to closer economic union with the west of Canada. I don't see Canadian influence dominating, though. There's too many people to the south. California alone has more people than all of Canada, for example. But there are common cultural elements from Canada all the way down to northern California. So a regional culture arising as a unifying agent, technically across country lines? I can picture it.

(SoCal is different, but that is neither here nor there in this case.)

There's that pesky Federal law that prohibits states from making their own arrangements with sovereign nations, but that does little to inhibit the actual flow of people or business.

The concept you should have a moral right over something you did not create (ie a canal) that can reduce thousands of miles on ships journeys over the open ocean is fucking bullshit and goes against​ international law to boot.

2017: "On current trends, the Arctic ocean will be largely ice-free in summer by 2040."

2009: "[S]cientists at Cambridge University predict the Arctic ocean will be largely ice-free during the summer within the next ten years (i.e., by 2019)"


2007: Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013'


The date for the Arctic becoming "largely ice-free" appears to be receding about as fast as break-even fusion power. :-)

It's good for you to point out how little the headlines represent the actual content of the articles, much less the science itself.

For example, that 2007 article:

"In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly. It might not be as early as 2013 but it will be soon, much earlier than 2040."

Which lines up with the 2017 article.

Cutting edge science is not headline-friendly!

A bit of a buried lede, and not quite headline material in the 2007 BBC article:

"My thinking on this is that 2030 is not an unreasonable date to be thinking of."

Those headlines are talking about different things, the article is already largely ice free in the summer is already true with only 28% being covered year round. As to your 2007 example the direct quote was "My thinking on this is that 2030 is not an unreasonable date to be thinking of."

Don't forget 2040 is only 22 years away, on that time scale weather becomes important not just climate.

While it seems clear all the sibling comments thus far want to point out how inaccurate your comment it, I fell it's an important factor in the general malaise about climate change.

Of any number of people who read headlines only some subset of those read the articles, and even fewer of them remember what the article said.

They literally have been saying, for at least a couple decades before I started paying attention, the world is going to end, for one reason or another, quite soon now.

I thought that if the world was going to end we were meant to lie down or put a paper bag over our head or something.

One of the few things that benefit from pushed-back dates.

Somehow you think this is the important part of the message?

it might point out that they are wrong and that they don't know what is really going on? which would not surprise me when talking about weather topics.

On a sobering note, the Arctic is a tremendous shortcut for shipping, and despite its vast and remote coastline, it's surrounded solely by states with a strong rule of law, making piracy unlikely.

Cargo traffic between will re-orient from the current crop of chokepoints like Suez and Malacca; the Panama Canal will see a decline of Asia-Atlantic traffic and a rise in intra-Americas traffic; and more shipping overall will be conducted in waters adjacent to the coasts of Russia, Canada, US, Norway, and Greenland (Kingdom of Denmark).

Even without additional exploitation of the Arctic, changes like this will affect the strategic priorities of states.

> the Arctic is a tremendous shortcut for shipping

The Economist article says, "the much-vaunted sea passages are likely to carry only a trickle of trade". Do you have any information on the prospective volume of trade?

> it's surrounded solely by states with a strong rule of law, making piracy unlikely.

For another reason too: Piracy usually is conducted by people.

> Do you have any information on the prospective volume of trade?

Not really, though COSCO (a top-5 shipper by capacity and market share [1]) expressed interest again in 2016 [2], sending 5 ships through; they were the first Chinese shipping company to send a ship this way in 2013 [3], and express a continued interest almost every year -- like in 2015 [4].

Russian forecasts are extremely ambitious to the point of being pure wishful thinking [5]. There are some challenges with the route [5][6], and not all shippers are on board, and of course global shipping has just had its lowest growth in years [7].

[1] https://www.alphaliner.com/top100/ [2] https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/arctic-industry-and-energy... [3] http://barentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2013/08/first-container... [4] https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-shipper-cosco-to-schedu... [5] https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/arctic-industry-and-energy... [6] http://www.platts.com/latest-news/shipping/moscow/feature-de... [7] http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/08/20/490621376/a...

Thanks for sharing all that and informing the rest of us.

PIOMAS (arctic sea ice volume model) is showing ice on the edge of collapse: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C9SaElxXoAAl0zU.jpg

My favorite graph is this one: http://i.imgur.com/ZgJaXCy.png - you can clearly tell 2016 was the year we broke away from all the others.

How do we square this statement from the article "In the past 30 years, the minimum coverage of summer ice has fallen by half; its volume has fallen by three-quarters. " with this chart of global sea ice -- http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.... From the chart, looks like sea ice is down a little bit, but not only by a few percent, not by half. So are there massive gains in sea ice elsewhere in the world, areas where sea ice has nearly doubled?

Also how do we square the statement about the decrease in volume with this statement from a year and a half ago? "However, very little ice thickness information actually exists." http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL065704/full How do we actually know how much volume has fallen in the last 30 years if two years ago "very little information on thickness actually exists"?

I don't really understand the appeal of this article when it doesn't link to any sources. The article doesn't tell us what the actual new information prompted the article and where that new information came from.


When it's summer in the arctic, it is winter in the antarctic, whose area of ice is necessarily going to vastly outweigh the other when you add them together. So the trend will be less visible.

Just looking at arctic ice extent in summer, on that page, you can see the trend.

Yes, sea ice has increased in the Antarctic. https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/antarctic-sea-ice-reach...

The coupling between climate and sea ice is more complex in the southern polar regions, and the increase in sea ice there is also likely to be an artifact of global warming. But this may explain why a global chart doesn't show the sharp decrease you'd expect.

and the increase in sea ice there is also likely to be an artifact of global warming.

Was there anyone predicting in the 1980s or 1990s that with global warming arctic ice would decline while antarctic ice would increase? Was anyone predicting this before the observation occurred? How do I know that the idea that global warming causes an increase in southern ice is not just an after the fact rationalization?

Yes, I got in a debate with a denier not so long ago and was quickly able to find papers and summaries of the predictions on growth of ice in the south and decline in the north.

What I find more alarming are folks like yourself that have so little respect for science that they think there is potentially some cover up of the truth.

Define "science."

I'm not a "denialist" by any stretch, I believe CO2 causes warming. I believe the scientists probably know at least somewhat of what they speak (although I am skeptical of timelines).

That being said, what is feasible to do? Stop eating hamburgers? Drive Teslas? Carbon Tax Credits derived in meetings attended by people who arrive in jets? There just isn't a practical solution in sight. There really isn't. Just feel good type measures that don't solve the problem and wont. Never mind that the science is a bit unclear on exactly what, when and how much.

It's a global problem. The "globe" hasn't been able to effectively work together to solve much simpler problems like drugs and human trafficking at any scale. And this is a bigger problem requiring more collaboration.

I'm sorry, for all the hand wringing effective solutions are just not going to happen. No how, no way. Not in a timely manner.

The only "real" solution in sight that I see is a massive population decrease through war or famine or plague. Or else sudden loss of civilization and technology which will produce the same thing.

Is that price worth the benefits? I may consider this when "timelines" actually turn out as predicted. Until that time I'm driving a car and eating hamburgers. And living somewhere away from coastlines.

Personally I think we are way past prevention and rapidly approaching the last hope for mitigation of climate change. The answer doesn't have to be a massive population decline - measures like reducing our emissions from power generation (https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emis... - 29%) and more electrified transportation would have a real impact. It is unrealistic to assume dramatic lifestyle changes will help us but instead of wasting billions of wars and walls we could be investing in renewable energy and more efficient use of carbon fuels. Instead we have an administration pushing hard in the opposite direction - investing in coal and oil, removing fuel economy improvements, and destroying the ability of organizations like NASA to even observe the effects of climate change. It's madness.

> measures like reducing our emissions from power generation and more electrified transportation would have a real impact.

This always confuses me, because human CO2 emissions are about 3% of natural emissions. If the planet were so sensitive to +/- 3%, wouldn't it have gone past the point-of-no-return millions of years ago? But here we are today, and the ice core data shows wild fluctuations over periods of tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of years that greatly exceed anything we've experienced.

It's not change that is alarming, it's the rate of change. In the past, you'd have something like 1 degree C of change over the course of tens of thousands of years. Now you have that same change in less than a few hundred years. Short of a massive asteroid hit, the Earth hasn't experienced that sort of short term change.


Page 471 has a pretty clear diagram that explains the change - increase beyond the natural ability of the carbon cycle to mitigate the change leading to steady increases in industrial area (last 150 years effectively). I don't see ice core data showing wild fluctuations over periods of 10-100k years and the ppm of atmospheric carbon is relatively stable over this period.

Some say that the IPCC is an unreliable source, considering the former IPCC scientists who have whistleblown about their political bias and manipulation of results. How would you answer that concern?


Please stop violating the guidelines.


Ok, I'm done. Please delete my account.

Hacker News is comprised primarily of people who do not wish to discuss a variety of viewpoints freely. Any comment that strays from the "party line" is immediately downvoted, usually without response from anyone. The "silent hand" of disapproval shames into submission or obscurity. The ideological purity of the community is preserved at all costs--especially at the cost of intellectual diversity.

I see comment after comment, ones that are completely reasonable and polite, downvoted into grayness because they disagree with the prevailing opinion. Instead of posting a reasonable, polite rebuttal--you know, furthering the pursuit of knowledge and understanding--people anonymously click the "I disapprove" button and censor opposing views. And you and dang don't do a thing about it. The people downvoting comments like that are completely abusing their downvote privilege, but it never stops. Then you revoke my upvoting privilege after I correctively upvote some unfairly downvoted comments. Apparently that's "working as intended" at Hacker News.

Even Slashdot, as far a cry as it is now from its historical golden era, is a bastion of open-mindedness compared to HN.

So why should I waste my time here? You want to have your echo chamber, well hey, it's your site. I can tell when I'm not wanted. And unlike many here, I would not force my views on anyone.

When you continuously argue against the basic merits of science in a forum based around science and technology you're probably not going to have a great time.

I didn't down vote (or answer). I don't have an opinion on the bias, having only read through the scientific report, but do think the science on the IPCC side looks better than anything I've seen on the other side, and that reasons for it being biased exist on both sides. Therefore tend to side with what looks like the better science.

My apologies. Shouldn't have assumed you were the one who downvoted.

> Therefore tend to side with what looks like the better science.

But the point is that the science is highly suspect. When scientists on the IPCC break rank and make themselves pariahs, virtually ruining their careers, that should tell you something.

I am judging this on reading parts of the IPCC reports (see for example https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FI...) and the NIPCC report published by the Heartland Institute (https://www.heartland.org/_template-assets/documents/Books/W...).

Reading these two you will see two very different approaches, which reflects much of the debate I see on these subjects, including some of your comments.

The NIPCC report is openly political opening with a complaint about Obama's treatment of climate change as a serious issue. It talks about circumstantial evidence, debate amongst scientists, and has a petition organised to collect signatures. (This apparently gathers signatures from 31,478 scientists of which only 9,021 have PhDs.)

The IPCC report is filled with detailed diagrams and explanations of the science behind global warming. The approach generally seems sensible to someone like me with some understanding of the scientific method, although I am not qualified to analyse in depth. I am sure anybody reading it would learn something about the climate and how we can analyse it.

Now I don't follow the political debate on whether the IPCC is biased by funding or some other supposed disincentives for scientists to report truthfully. On the other hand I do see that there is less obvious evidence of political bias from reading the published reports. If someone wanted to understand the science it is fairly clear to me the IPCC report would be a much better starting point than the NIPCC report.

There are some very clear incentives to "break rank", as you put it. There are significant financial incentives for people who stand to lose from climate change mitigation, for example in the oil industry, to fund people to investigate the case against climate change. Again, I don't really feel in a good position to judge who is right and who is wrong here, but I would expect if the scientific case was highly suspect as you'd say that people would have funded equally convincing scientific reports on the other side. The fact that I haven't been able to find such reports suggests to me that there is not a convincing case against the science to be made.

(Edit: also I suspect the politicisation of climate change debate and the bureaucratic process of the IPCC probably means that the science is less effective than it might otherwise be, and that the communication of this science is less convincing than it could be, to the detriment of the quality of the public debates. As I mentioned in another comment it's quite painful to link to the IPCC report and they prevent people from redistributing it without permission, meaning the format is basically fixed in an unhelpful set of massive PDFs. Sad!)

It's interesting that you cite the NIPCC report, but then downplay it as merely political and circumstantial. And since it has a petition, it must be biased, or much moreso than the IPCC report.

Yet, scanning through the 135-page NIPCC report, I see plenty of "diagrams and explanations of the science," which you noted in the IPCC report. Why, then, do you dismiss it out-of-hand?

> Now I don't follow the political debate on whether the IPCC is biased by funding or some other supposed disincentives for scientists to report truthfully.

This is my entire point. It is absolutely crucial. You can ignore it if you want, but you are missing the full picture, and therefore cannot accurately assess the claims of both sides.

> On the other hand I do see that there is less obvious evidence of political bias from reading the published reports.

I guess you meant "the published IPCC reports." I should think that, if any group wanted to push their political view under the guise of science, they would certainly take care to make their reports appear apolitical. Making your judgment based solely on their own word would be like a judge asking a defendent, "Did you do it? No? Okay, you're free to go." You have to corroborate outside evidence to make a reasonable judgment.

> If someone wanted to understand the science it is fairly clear to me the IPCC report would be a much better starting point than the NIPCC report.

Again, the NIPCC report appears to explain much science as well, so it seems unreasonable for you to dismiss it while holding to the IPCC report.

> There are significant financial incentives for people who stand to lose from climate change mitigation, for example in the oil industry, to fund people to investigate the case against climate change.

You're right. And by the same token, there are significant financial incentives for people who stand to lose from not engaging in mitigation. These range from individual climatologists who have built their entire careers on studying the "crisis" of CAGW (if it were determined that there were no risk, what would their careers have accomplished? What would they do next?), to corporations selling "green" energy products and carbon credits, to politicians who are using "climate change" to effect their political goals. For example, Christine Figueres, UN executive of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, recently stated:

This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution. This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.

Her stated goal here is not to mitigate the potential risks of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (which might or might not necessarily entail changing the fundamental economic model of the world), but to transform the world's economic model. This is explicitly a political goal, not a scientific one. The cart (politics) is leading the horse (science).

> I would expect if the scientific case was highly suspect as you'd say that people would have funded equally convincing scientific reports on the other side. The fact that I haven't been able to find such reports suggests to me that there is not a convincing case against the science to be made.

This depends entirely on how much effort you have put into finding them and your criteria for "equally convincing." In fact, many scientists have found such convincing reports--as you yourself noted, at least 9,000 PhD-holding scientists, and about 21,000 non-PhD-holding scientists, who, by your own admission, are more qualified to judge than you. Therefore, how can you so easily dismiss one side of the argument?

I appreciate your being reasonable in the discussion. Thanks.

Contrary to what you say, I am not looking to downplay the NIPCC report, and have only skim read it and the IPCC report. The reason I mention that it is the best example of a report summarising the case against climate change. It does talk about politics and whether evidence is circumstantial, the IPCC report does not - this does not mean I believe one report is objectively better than the other.

The level of scientific content is significantly less than the IPCC report, although I agree there is some and had I more time to review would certainly be interested to look in more detail. It is reactive to the IPCC report and at a first reading the IPCC report looks significantly more robust and extensive in its coverage. I am open to be convinced otherwise, but based on my (subjective) reading I still find the NIPCC to have a lower quality and depth of scientific reasoning than the IPCC.

Incidentally, the main reason I am dismissive about the petition is that accuracy in science is not the result of a popularity contest. All the scientists I know personally certainly have much more than a PhD, so I am sceptical about the qualifications of the petitioners here. Some no doubt are more qualified than me, however a petition is hardly the way to demonstrate their expertise! In any case I am surprised if there are more convincing reports that these have not been more thoroughly publicised.

As you say, it would be better for the NIPCC people to make their report apolitical, if the problem is really about the science. If it is about the politics then the strongest way to improve their case against climate change would be to improve the science on their side.

Regarding whether the science leads or the politics leads, it is clear to me that both are important. My response highlighted that some of the political problems that you speak about are evidence of likely flaws in the way that the science is done. However, I do not believe that these are fundamental issues. I believe more science rather than less science is the way forward. I totally acknowledge there are incentives on both sides (even if the science should prove to be completely wrong), however it is probably worth remembering that many climatologists are likely highly trained and employable even if climate research funding decreases.

If the science is correct, there is potentially a very big problem for the world. The eventual impact is potentially on the order of trillions of USD per year based on a couple of reports I've looked at (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_impacts_of_climate_ch..., http://www.schroders.com/en/sysglobalassets/digital/us/pdfs/... for examples). Now, again, these estimates could be wrong, and are referring to impacts far down the line, however if they are even remotely indicative, the IPCC budget (~60MM USD since 2001 according to http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/us-taxpayers-cover-nearl...) and total US spending on climate change (of the order of 10B USD per year, according to http://www.gao.gov/key_issues/climate_change_funding_managem...) is not completely unreasonable.

Now even if you feel the science is suspect in parts, I assume you would not want to throw away all of it? It is clear that something is happening to the climate - lack of ice in the arctic being one example, but others such as death of corals in the Great Barrier Reef being another. We also have political choices on how much funding to give to research and economic reform. We live in a polluted world, and it appears very much in our interests to fund research into ways to mitigate climate change and reduce pollution.

I can see that debate on this can be productive, and I would prefer a more open debate than is currently possible. However, this does appear to me to be an area where we are probably underfunding rather than overfunding the scientific (and political!) debate. The consequences of climate change if it proves to be close to the scientific consensus are horrendous, and really one of the most critical issues facing the planet. The benefits of much of the mitigation strategies are large regardless of the science.

> That being said, what is feasible to do?

On a personal scale, at least: live close to work, and save as much money as you can; the amount you spend is a tolerably good measure of your carbon footprint.

The ideal would be to live close to work, save money, and do a bit of backyard bio-sequestration (like growing dwarf hazelnut trees and burying the nuts' hulls); but it's not likely that you'll have a backyard if you're living close to work. Cities with compost collection are the next best thing on this score, then.

> I believe CO2 causes warming.

You _believe_ CO2 is a greenhouse gas? How sure are you about 2 + 2 = 4?

vocal emphasis translated badly to computer screen: noiv meant

  __I__ believe CO2 causes warming [even e.g. if there's debate among politicians]
(hehe, __I__ believe noiv meant...)

This is on all of us not just the climate science deniers and the profit hungry corporations, selfish individuals, crazy governments, or, uninformed individuals. It is not enough to protest, give speeches, start "green" companies, and whatever else we do to feel good about "doing something for the environment."

If only we could have enough courage to curb our uncontrolled consumption of resources. Why is it so hard for each one of us to just reduce our intake by, say, just 15% to begin with? How about eating less, not changing cell phones every ear, shopping less, driving less, and a hundred other things we can reduce?

In the end nature always wins. We are either with her or against her!

> It is not enough to protest, give speeches, start "green" companies, and whatever else we do to feel good about "doing something for the environment."

I have to disagree. Please keep doing something good for the environment. Please keep making companies that replace old harmful ones. Keep protesting to politicians and by all means, keep doing speeches to inform the public.

> just reduce our intake by, say, just 15%

Everything I know about psychology tells me this advice won't work. You need to provide an alternative or you'll be fighting a losing battle against habit and enjoyment.

But I should dogfood on my own advice here, so here's what you should do instead:

- Give people specific advice on habit changes instead, ie. switch from beef to chicken, from chicken to fish and from fish to vegetables.

- Tell people HOW to change electricity provider (if your country or region allows it)

- Tell people to VOTE for the environment

Here's an attempt at those things: https://medium.com/@i2amsam/we-can-do-it-ourselves-part-1-48... I'd love feedback. (And if you are interested in climate and tech join us at ClimateAction.tech)

> Why is it so hard for each one of us to just reduce our intake by, say, just 15% to begin with?

Because if you do it and no-one else does then you're hurting yourself for basically no reason. It's a coordination problem.

There's a good argument to be made that it's actually the opposite of hurting yourself if you do the things the grandparent listed: "... eating less, not changing cell phones every year, shopping less, driving less."

But of course nobody wants to hear that either, it's considered preaching about personal choices.

You truly need to have heroic levels of dedication to sustain eating 5% less, keeping your home 5% warmer/cooler, and driving 5% less over the long term.

Then at the end of the day it still won't matter because your government chooses to continue burning coal.

It's even worse because if enough green minded folk can reduce enough energy use to make a difference then it drives down the cost of energy which makes it cheaper for others to use more.

This really is a problem that requires everyone to play a role.

My point was that doing those things would be good for you personally, regardless of any environmental impact.

Most American adults are overweight and should eat 5% less. Driving 5% less simply means that you would avoid one trip out of twenty, maybe by arranging to do something remotely or by taking public transport -- hardly an enormous sacrifice. Driving increases stress levels anyway, so this reduction is also good for your health.

I must say, this is the first time that I have seen not spending money defined as "hurting yourself."

The perception would be so. If not the money wouldn't be spent in the first place.

Apart from the tragedy of the commons problem, it's also hard because we don't know if the benefits will outweigh the costs. As far as I've heard, the science doesn't answer that accurately enough to actually make a decision. We might be better off with global warming than with a premature end to oil and coal.

Bear in mind that global warming isn't the end of the world, it's just a change. Humans will certainly adapt and carry on. The problem is the costs might be inconveniently high - or they might be tolerable.

you are likely referencing a report that concluded the costs for stopping climate change were higher than the costs of dealing with the consequences. The report that I read on that topic came to its conclusions by valuing people's lives in dollar figures and putting those lives at less value for anyone in developing countries.

So, yeh, if you think poor climate refuges have no value then you are right we should take no action.

The problem is that those holding onto power have politicized climate change so that those not paying close enough attention wrongly conclude that we don't need to take action.

I wonder how they account for increased military conflict.

Shouldnt we analyze what creates the emissions and try to have a more focused attempt at fixing the problem? It's great if consumers reduce consumption by 15% across the board, for example, but knowing if the problem is from driving gas gusslers, eating meat, etc. might help us focus on changes that will make the most difference.

What have you reduced?

I own almost nothing, and have lived on less than 400$ a month for the past 4 years.

A bike, a laptop, speakers, a table and chair, a mattress, two fans, a backpack, minimal clothing, and some sports-related stuff are the only things of mine that are worth > $10.

I ride my bike most days and leave the car at home. I eat beef one meal a month instead of 4-5 times a week. I pay more for electricity from completely renewable sources. I tend to buy used clothes and I stopped running servers at home years and years ago.

Imagine a bunch of little compromises multiplied by millions of people, that adds up.

What about you?

One of the things I've noticed about people who offer solutions like this is that they tend to offer things they like to do or can do. You live a life that's amenable to bicycling. If you're a single mother working two part time jobs, bicycling will not ever work. If you live in a rural town, cycling will not work. If you have any health issues, cycling won't work. If you are middle age, there's a good chance it wont work either unless you already cycled for most of your life.

You're asking other people to sacrifice that you aren't really doing yourself, because it's not a sacrifice to you.

Well, it's presumptuous of you to say that I'm just doing things I like, or implying that I'm not actually really making any sacrifices with the way I choose to live my life. Which is kind of a crummy way to start out your reply.

After all, you don't know that I might have a preference to live in a rural area, but choose to live in a city instead to reduce my carbon footprint.

After all, rural folks are choosing to live in rural areas, that's a choice they're making too.

And you don't know what I've given up by choosing to bike instead of drive--what jobs I've turned down, or people I haven't seen, or fun things I've missed out on.

In fact, your whole statement does come down to "your sacrifices are bullshit because I say they are".

Hey, if that's how you want to see the world--other people's sacrifices are bullshit--maybe it's because you're uncomfortable with how little you do on your own, or how self-centeredly you live?

Man, you're an ass.

But those other people who can't cycle can do other things. Rural people may not be able to cycle, but they can probably grow some or most of their own food.

Everyone can contribute in their own way.

The article is actually very good, without being alarmist, giving the facts:

the arctic will be ice free within many of our lifetimes

there are two main feedback effects from an ice-free Arctic that we know will be bad, but there is uncertainty in how bad they will be:

(1) the albedo effect means less of the suns energy will be reflected back into space by white ice and warming will accelerate due to darker water absorbing more energy

(2) the clathrate gun hypothesis - how much of the methane in the Arctic basin that is trapped as ice clathrates will be released into the atmosphere (methane is about 8 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2).

The other main point of the article is that the Arctic sea ice melting is unambiguously bad. Ignore the opening of the NE-passage. It's all-round bad news for us and our progeny.

Even if it turns out the 2% of scientist who doubt man made global warming are right, you would think that it would at least be worth trying to save the world. This failure is not on regular people, it's on the people who know better and are in positions of power yet failed to fight hard enough, make winning arguments and treat the fight with the urgency it deserved.

If people can be convinced to vote for taxes on themselves to build stadiums in cities that already have one, I don't believe for a second that it is a lost cause to convince people of a tax to literally help save the fucking world.

> you would think that it would at least be worth trying to save the world

Not if "saving the world" means spending trillions of dollars on things that (a) might well not fix the problem, and (b) could be better spent on other things with a much more certain payoff. For example, bringing people out of poverty and building up our infrastructure so it is more robust against any kind of disruption. Especially if doing those things makes it a lot easier to adapt to whatever happens to the climate anyway.

Yeah, that "trillions of dollars" is a baseless assumption that's just pulled out of somebody's behind. There's this assumption that it's going to cost so much, when in reality, renewable energy and storage are shaping up to be cheaper than fossil fuels in the coming decades.

Pretty much the worst case spending on mitigation plans is 3% of GDP. Less than we spend on the military. And that's worst case. Over the long run, most mitigation analyses have us saving money.

I think that these baseless assumptions about the cost of mitigation are just as much a problem as the denial. A good amount of the denial comes from people that assume that they'll have to give up driving and eating meat. Another good amount of the denalism comes from dark money that influences political thought. That dark money is hard to eliminate, but we need to stop the speculation that fighting climate change means a significantly lower quality of life.

> that "trillions of dollars" is a baseless assumption that's just pulled out of somebody's behind

No, it isn't. It's what is quoted by the people advocating mitigation.

> most mitigation analyses have us saving money

Because they claim that the savings from adopting all these clean energy technologies will more than outweigh the costs of switching to them. Which is based on...assumptions pulled out of somebody's behind. Or, if you prefer, economic models that have no track record of predictive success.

In other words, mitigation means we pay the costs, and then we find out whether all those models that said the savings would make up for it were right, or not. Yeah, sure, let's bet the entire world economy on that.

>No, it isn't. It's what is quoted by the people advocating mitigation.

Citation, please! I'll start with Wikipedia's page, of course:


>Which is based on...assumptions pulled out of somebody's behind.

No, absolutely not. They are based on data. And projections.

However, if you're going to assert that it's impossible to know anything, than my estimates are just as good as yours, and I say it's going to save us $100 trillion/year! Tada!

Economic models are subject to manipulation, just as a business model is, but that doesn't mean that none of them have any credibility.

The credible answers, the ones where somebody has tried to make honest efforts, have mitigation costs as a tiny percentage of current GDP. In the US, that could be easily paid for by the amount of government waste in defense.

> if you're going to assert that it's impossible to know anything

I made no such assertion. I said that the economic models have no track record of successful predictions. We should not be making huge bets based on models that have no track record of successful predictions.

The difficulty is that it is also a huge bet to continue "business as usual". Not making significant changes is also a choice, and based on the best science (indeed, imperfect models) we have so far, it does not look good...

> it is also a huge bet to continue "business as usual"

Yes, but that's true for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with climate change. I'm simply saying that if we're going to redirect a large amount of resources, we should redirect them to actions that will have a positive impact regardless of things in the future that we can't predict. As I said in my original post in this subthread, I think two important such actions are bringing people out of poverty (since the wealthier people are, the better able they are to adapt to change) and making our infrastructure more robust.

"renewable energy and storage are shaping up to be cheaper than fossil fuels in the coming decades."

If they actually become cheaper, there won't be any government action necessary to make people adopt them.

Right, going forward, the need of government action is going to be considerably less necessary. But new technologies have a certain cost disadvantage, and government support helps to cross that gap quicker. Especially, when new power plants have to compete with 30 year old coal plants, which are cheap to operate but very dirty.

But the crossover point seems to be very near - here in Germany a big offshore wind project failed to qualify for government support, but the driving company decided to go ahead nevertheless, as they plant to be cost efficient enough without any support. So this is very good news.

There's been a ton of government action to build the early industry, though, in the form of subsidies. It's something that we've seen in aerospace, the history of the semiconductor industry, and even in a ton of biotech. Government subsidies fund the early risky research, and often the military provides the early price-insensitive customers of new expensive technologies. With renewables, tax credits have been very influential in widening the market of early entrants.

The government still subsidizes fossil fuels. https://www.treasury.gov/open/Documents/USA%20FFSR%20progres...

This! Also much of the military spend is oil related...

Even ignoring climate change, our use of fossil fuels is extremely harmful to people. It's also extremely helpful, but we can do better. Fossil fuels only look cheap because we hide so many of the costs. When you look up the cost per kWh of electricity generated from coal, that number doesn't include the death and diseases it causes, nor the economic impact from contaminating ecosystems. Price that stuff in and the alternatives look a lot better. Add in climate change and it's better still.

Trillions of dollars sounds much - unless you consider that just Apple alone is worth 3/4 of a trillion dollars.

And in reality, you need to consider the costs we are paying for energy already. How much is spent on coal and oil? How much do the various power plants cost? A large part of the western power infrastructure is at an age, were plants have to be replaced anyway soon. The additional cost for "clean" energy is surprisingly low, if not already negative.

> The additional cost for "clean" energy is surprisingly low

Only if it can supply reliable base load power. Which it can't, unless you include nuclear power in "clean energy". Which most clean energy advocates don't appear to be doing.

The trick is in the mix. 100% clean energy (wind, solar, hydro) might be somewhat of a challenge. But it is rather easy to raise its share of the total energy production to about 80%. The rest would be provided mostly by gas, and perhaps a very few coal plants, which would run only in absolute emergency times. This would reduce our carbon footprint considerably. And for this, the additional cost is very small, if not already money can be saved. When we are at 80% renewable, we can then discuss the technical and financial requirements for the rest.

> it is rather easy to raise its share of the total energy production to about 80%

I know advocates claim this, but I am highly skeptical. The problem is capacity factor: yes, you might be able to build enough wind farms and solar panels (hydro is pretty much already built out--every site that is feasible for hydroelectric power in significant quantity already has a dam) so that their nominal capacity, if they were all running 24-7 at their rated output, exceeds 80% of total world energy usage. But they won't ever be running 24-7 at their rated output; not even close. Typical capacity factors, AFAIK, are less than 30% for these sources. Whereas nuclear plants (and fossil fuel plants, but we're assuming those are out of bounds since we're talking about clean energy) can run close to 24-7 at their rated output; typical capacity factors exceed 95%.

It is also quite possible and affordable to produce 80% taking the 30% capacity factor into account. Germany is already at 30% of all electricity being produced by renewables. The capacity factor only tells you how many you need to build.

That a nuclear power plant runs 24/7 causes also a lot of problems, because energy consumption heavily changes over the course of a day, especially at night there is little demand, and you cannot throttle a nuclear power plant quickly enough. That is why Belgium built illumination systems for all their highways, just to get rid of surplus nuclear power at night.

I doubt the 95% capacity factor for nuclear plants - perhaps for freshly built stations. Nuclear appears to be very reliable, but there are actually quite a lot of issues. One is, that for technical reasons, a nuclear power plant might have to be shut down entirely with no forewarning. This happens quite regular and has to be compensated for by the grid. Currently 50% of the German power plants are down for maintenance, and about 25% of the French, which caused electricity shortages in France last winter. And nuclear plants even are sensitive to the weather, because in hot summers or dry winters there might not be enough cooling water in the rivers that support their cooling needs.

"We have to get to 80%, then we can talk about cost"? Is this like the "we have to do it to find out if we can afford it" version of "we have to pass it to find out what's in it"?

No. Up to 80% the cost of renewables is, what you pay to set up the solar cells or wind generators. And these costs are known and quite competitive (if not cheaper already) to building a new coal plant, and definitely cheaper than building a nuclear plant. If there is enough controllable power generation in the other 20%, by todays technology that would be gas power plants mostly, this is about how far smart grids can deal with the varying nature of the renewables. Only going beyond 80% there are significant additional costs for storage. But as battery costs are significantly falling, it makes only sense to discuss the costs, when we really need them and then know the true numbers, as this is quite a few years in the future.

I think the idea of enormous batteries storing megawatts of power is potentially more dangerous than nuclear plants. At least reactors have control rods, but what do you do with a huge battery with an internal short? And compared to stores of coal, oil, or gas, at least they won't spontaneously combust like batteries have the potential to.

No, there is no comparison. Large battery storage are not a single large battery, but is split in small units. So, if there is a short, a few cells, at worst one rack of batteries burns down, the other batteries in the storage facility are physically separate.

Fukushima has shown us, how severely things can go wrong. The reactor was completely shut down, but that didn't help much. Even with the control rods deployed, these reactors had a thermal load of several megawatts, and when the cooling failed to keep up with this load, 2 of the reactor cores melted, and the landscape around was contaminated. Pure luck that it wasn't worse and most of the radioactivity went out to the ocean.

> Fukushima has shown us, how severely things can go wrong.

It should be emphasized, though, that this had nothing to do with the reactor; it was bad siting of the backup generators and switchgear for decay heat cooling. Other reactors in the same complex that did not suffer from this problem had no issues.

Also, newer reactor designs do not need a backup generator for decay heat cooling, so they are not vulnerable to this failure mode at all.

This is the sophisticated version of the 'do nothing' argument. It's not a good argument in any form. If the greenland ice mass melts billions of people who live on the edge of the sea are at risk. If rising ocean temperatures continue to degrade coral reefs, a big part of the world's food supply is at risk. how does bringing people out of poverty offset that?

> how does bringing people out of poverty offset that?

By giving them the ability to adapt. Most of The Netherlands is below sea level, and has been for centuries. They responded by adapting: building dikes and levees and other systems for water management. They could do this because they had enough wealth to do so. The more wealth we create, the more the world as a whole has the ability to adapt.

If we knew for certain that putting all that wealth into CO2 mitigation instead of bringing people out of poverty would keep things static indefinitely, it might perhaps be worth considering mitigation (though you will note that nobody who advocates mitigation asks all the poor people what they would prefer). But we don't know that, not even close. We have to assume that things will change no matter what we do. Given that, our only realistic option is adaptation.

In a vacuum, with no costs associated maybe. But we're talking about vast amounts of money being taken from people and redistributed, huge egos vying for political power, and a host of other reasons that make it more complicated than if 2% are wrong or not. Even those 2% may not be doubting "man made global warming" but other aspects about it that make them want to act like...scientists, and question theories and findings and not jump into the global warming pool head-first like so many.

Incidentally, and this is food for thought not an opinion of any sort, I'm almost 50 years old, and I've now been a part of 3 global climate scares. One cooling; one warming; now both after previously warming, but none of the predictions have come to pass, except the world has become infinitely friendlier to it than we were when I was a kid, which were the days of the crying indian commercial, 10 MPG behemoth cars, and a shiny new EPA.

That global cooling thing was a media scare, not science:


The current climate change fear is, at worst, both.

3 global climate scares - none of which have come to pass. Please, fact-less nonsense. Global warming is coming to pass. That is a fact. The arctic is warming significantly. A fact. Not a scare story. The consequences are scary and uncertain. Have you ever heard of positive feedback effects? They can happen, we don't know. The release of methane in the arctic leading to runaway global warming - can we be sure it won't happen? References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrate_gun_hypothesis https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/climate-trends-con...

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

--Stephen Schneider in APS News, Aug/Sep 1996, p. 5, http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/199608/upload/aug96....

> trying to save the world

The world wont end, it will just change... happens all the time. Seriously 99.9% of all species that have walked the Earth are extinct. Humans are not exempt from that process, there is nothing to save here, the Earth will continue on just as it always has.

Nihilism is never a good look.

I dont think it's really nihilism I just dont believe humans will fix this issue (if they even can). But life will certainly go on, it just might not be us here on Earth.

you are, actually, too optimistic.

Even In the 1990s, people knew that environmental efforts were going to fail and people have already started trying techniques to terraform the planet.


Take a look at he geoengineering options.

This is how it's going to go down.

1) environmental attempts will fail.

2) various records will be breached, eventually a perceptual point will be crossed, but it will be far, far too late to save the planet.

3) poltical imperatives will change, soon after public imperatives change.

4) since the risk/reward from stoping environmental damage is now a divide by 0 operation, "can-do" individuals/groups (the same firms who created this mess), will pitch geo-engineering/terraforming

5) Governments will propose multi billion dollar programs to do this, farming out contracts for "jobs!"

Bonus) hacker news 2.0 will debate on various economic models to support such work, and people will say they hate big government, so let's give limited resource rights to these firms as compensation instead of government largesse.

They'll brand it as jobs creation, man against nature, and use it to capture more power and funding.

I've been right betting on my reasoning for non standard events before, and I can't see any reason this won't happen. Within a few deviations of the original plan.

If you're lying - and if the audience knows you're lying, but supports you anyway, you can certainly say anything and just turn on a dime. From CO2 is life to CO2 is death. For this plan yo work, the owners would have to sell the oil refineries and rigs now when you can get a better price, and only then change the rhetoric. The buyer would have to bet on milking the CO2 is life for a decade yet.

Milking CO2 for a decade seems very possible.

I wouldnt be surpried if they managed longer!

And beyond that its a matter of obfuscation, and investment vehicles, PR and the good scrubbing of time on memmory.

I do want to prevent as much of that scrubbing as possible though/

This is actually my pitch for YC S23, Earth 2.3 it's a SAAS based volunteer program to head up extra-terra farming with a weekly delivery option. Looking for a CTO/co-founder.

"The planet is fine. The people are f*ed!"


You need viable solutions and cost/benefit analysis for how much warming is too much warming.

There is little to no consensus on all of that. There isn't a consensus on how sensitive the climate is to carbon and to what feedback loops exist. Even the IPCC ranges are fairly broad.

Then we don't know how much the warming will affect the actual climate and what the effects will be. What does earth at +5 degrees C even look like?

What if in 20 years solar, wind and battery tech is so cheap that natural gas and coal plants shut down. Everyone goes to electric cars, and carbon output plummets?

Well, we know that even if humanity vanished overnight, carbon dioxide driven warming will continue, just because of the time taken to remove co2 from the atmosphere.

We have increasingly better ideas of how the world will look like...and if we have ranges then we have an idea of how sensitive climate is to carbon.

All of which directly point to the fact that the world will warm, and it's a question of how fast. The question of how long this will go on, is beyond science because it's a political question - warming will stop years after we stop adding to the heat cycle.

I'm also a bit confused as to how you say "we don't know what the earth at +5 looks like", because countries (other than America) are already deploying resources to manage migration and movement, we know other countries and islands will disappear with sea level rises. I know my country has been grappling with water scarcity issues, and people don't argue about global warming, the same way they don't argue about evolution.

Matter of fact the only major country I know which actively engages and exports denialism is America. India and China are fighting for economic stability, but no one doubts that this is a crisis that has to be solved.

I'm confuxsed by your question, as most of these are answered to some degree or the other on the net or on Reddit. You could just head to a r/science climate AMA and get your answers.

"This failure is not on regular people"

Regular people are the ones who voted for those in power who declared that Global Warming was a hoax. Regular people are the ones who voted for leaders who prized returning to coal instead of advancing renewable energies.

I guess you're not a fan of democracy, then?

I never said I wasn't. That doesn't resolve the people who voted for Trump of what they voted for.

The 97% claim is bullshit: https://www.google.com.tw/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/alexeps...

I do believe that there is man made climate change, however, but this meme has to end.

"The warming is a whopping 0.8 degrees over the past 150 years, a warming that has tapered off to essentially nothing in the last decade and a half."

This article is bullshit.

As thee declared so, it must be...

Would you like to address the quote? Warming has not stopped in the last decade and a half. Quite the opposite.

If a tax would save the world I'd be all for it. But it won't.

Can you provide a link / info for the stadium tax decision? Interesting behavioural news

I'm aware of my own city that has done this... hundreds of millions in tax payer money to move the nba team downtown instead of across the river



Please stop posting unsubstantively like this here.


Assuming this change (a) lasts hundreds or thousands of years and (b) doesn't spiral out of control and kill us outright, at some point in the next couple of hundred years we're going to have people denying there ever was ice in the Arctic.

Does anybody have any idea of how bad climate change would actually be to the United States? It is actually isolated from most of the world by two oceans. The US southern border is pretty inhospitable desert. The US would have defacto access to all of Canada's resources (worst case it would invade Canada and annex the productive areas most of which are near the border). With the fall of the global trade, over time the US may be more like the 1950s in terms of wealth equality. While the rest of the world becomes a hell, the US might become an isolated paradise.

Check out this book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees:_Our_Future_on_a_H... It has some examples what happened to the US territory in a warmer climate. Can't remember thinking of a paradise.

I have trouble believing a significant amount of the population truly doesn't believe in climate change (I guess I'm a climate change denier denier /s). I think the problems lie mostly with the voting population not prioritizing climate change when making voting decisions and major campaign donors who feel directly (or indirectly) threatened by environmental protection initiatives having the ears of politicians. The major problems almost always have to do with money.

I think a fairly large number of people either don't believe it or don't belive it's man-caused (to whatever extent) and therfore don't believe there's anything practical to be done about it.

Then in other words, how it's known today is uncertain. "Almost certainly" isn't the same as "certainly." Subtle, but huge and important difference that coders should know.

What will happen to the energy that is now melting the ice? Surely the energy source (i.e. the summer sun) will not go away, so where will the energy go that was until now melting the ice?

If the answer is "it will warm the ocean" then that is troubling indeed. It takes almost as much energy to melt a given mass of ice (-1° to 1°) as it takes to bring it to a near boil (1° to 99°).

The arctic as we know it today is as it is today and therefore cannot possibly be gone.

How that will impact in international shipping prices, for good?


As per the guidelines, please do not comment about being downvoted or express the expectation of downvotes:


You may be downvoted just for ignoring the guidelines, not for the content of your comment. If you're actually concerned about receiving downvotes, take extra care to present your statement in the most civil, substantive, and constructive way.

You tell me the difference between rules and guidelines.

The guidelines speak about speaking about being downvoted. I interpreted that as after it actually happened. What I did was that I predict it will happen. And that for a fact will happen if I have this sentence in there or not it will happen anyway. Because HN news and the stupid karma system is actually extremely counterproductive. You get rewarded for maintaining the status quo and get punished to questioning it. In any context, not only in scientific. The hive mind is what its right and you have to conform with it to get karma. So I don't give a shit! There you have another reason, I dared to use the word shit, crucify me now!

Removed it, happy now? Lets see what happens shall we?


That is manifestly not true. See the chart here:


Don't confuse global sea ice figures with those for Arctic sea ice.


No, no scientists have ever considered the multitude of factors and variables that make up climate in their approach to trying to isolate what might be causing changes. Not even for a split second.

Someone just coughed on a passing car's exhaust fumes and blamed it for the warming earth, and we all just went with that.

Hopefully there is a Stargate in there

The Torygraph is known for printing a lot of shoddy data-illiterate denialist articles (Christopher Booker is one of the main culprits), so I'd take this article as if it were on Fox or even Breitbart and fact check the s[now] out of it, if you're inclined to believe it.

This is literally right from your link:

>"Bob Ward, of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, added: “Peter Wadhams has made predictions of the imminent disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice which have not been fulfilled, but the evidence still shows a rapid decline."

One guy missing a prediction isn't reason to dismiss the entire line of thought. All the evidence in the article shows the trend pretty clearly. Wadhams being aggressive in his prediction is not the story.

To be fair, it's a pretty weak argument to claim that things are fine because a few loud individuals said something outlandish, and the media gobbled it up for hype.

Arctic is indeed shrinking. 15000 years ago (or so) there were miles of ice on top of the place I'm currently sitting.

These posts that pretend or imagine they have a deeper understanding of the science than the rest of us are super irritating.

The writers of the economist article know, climate scientists know, and hackernews readers all know that the climate has been colder and hotter in the past over geologic time scales. We all know this.

It is not correct to imply that the current warming is just a continuation of the usual inter-glacial cycles. It isn't, the rate of change is completely different by orders of magnitude, and the causes are observably different.

It's like being in an elevator whose cable has snapped and is in freefall, and saying there's nothing to worry about because the elevator goes up and down all the time and it's perfectly normal.

What's "super-irritating" is that you guys keep trotting out the same predictions in an attempt to induce panic, even though those predictions have failed time after time.

See up-thread, where scientists were predicting an "ice-free Arctic" for 2013. And 2019. And now 2040.

I believe there were predictions for the Arctic to be "ice-free" by 2000 as well, but a quick Google isn't turning up a solid reference.

Yes, the earth has been colder than it is now. Many times. It's also been warmer than it is now. Many times.

"It isn't, the rate of change is completely different by orders of magnitude"

That is simply not correct. There is plenty of evidence that ice ages can occur over a time scale of less than a hundred years, and some evidence that it can happen on a decadal scale.

Heck, some of us are old enough when the threat of an ice age was the scare story.

You posted a bunch of headlines by journos, not scientists and expect us to take that as some holy grail of evidence that GW isn't happening.

That's nor surprising, considering you're a libertarian, but from the perspective of people who live in the real world, it's lunacy.

"You posted a bunch of headlines by journos"

So what? The whole thread is predicated on an "article by a journo".

"expect us to take that as some holy grail of evidence that GW isn't happening"

Please don't put words in my mouth. Thanks.

Far from "expecting you to take it as a "holy grail of evidence", I'm pointing out that these sensationalist scare articles have been around for a long, long time (at least since the time of Malthus in the 1700s), and yet the promised doomsday has never occurred.

And far from saying that climate change "isn't happening", I explicitly said "Yes, the earth has been colder than it is now. Many times. It's also been warmer than it is now. Many times."

Do you guys feel any guilt at all when you grossly misrepresent someone else's statements, or does the warm glow of virtue you get from Proper Thinking counteract it?

"considering you're a libertarian"

You act like that's some kind of pejorative.

Big props for taking one for the team.

Becoming critical of "climate change" just happened to me recently. I've been critical of the usual suspects like foreign policy, finance, media, etc. for a while, but climate change was a sacred cow.

Then I read this.


Before anyone accuses me of bringing scientism onto HN, realize that never did I call climate change a "hoax." Most intelligent people critical of climate change don't either. Obviously, it's happening...to some degree. I'm merely critical of the mainstream perspective of its causes and effects.

And I'm not sure one can ever be too critical in science.

this article is from 2012 and its prediction did not come true: http://www.realclimate.org/images/Vahrenholt_en-600x452.jpg

source is this solid rebuttal: http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/11/15/record-heat-despit...

The speed of the current change is unprecedented. Your article makes the standard argument that climate changes in the past and this is more of the same, but it's just not true.

Xkcd summed it up nicely: https://xkcd.com/1732/

Xkcd's chart starts a mere 22,000 years ago.

It is not representative of the history of the Earth.

To take just one example, I'm pretty sure that the sudden arrival of the Chicxulub "dinosaur killer" asteroid produced a change in Earth's climate that was vastly more devastating and immensely more rapid than anything we're seeing today.

"Unprecedented", indeed.

Edit: added a few references.


"We revisit the portion of (Nature 391 (1998) 141) devoted to the abrupt temperature increase reconstruction at the Younger Dryas/Preboreal transition...Three quasi-independent approaches employed in this work all give the same result of a +10 °C warming in several decades or less."


"Here, we report on the second abrupt warming (4 ± 1.5 °C), which occurred at the end of a short lived cooler interval known as the Preboreal Oscillation (11,270 ± 30 B.P.). A rapid snow accumulation increase suggests that the climatic transition may have occurred within a few years."

One ten degree event and one 4 degree event. Both much larger than anything we've seen.

There have been many others. In fact, it is believed that at least 25 such events took place in the last glacial period alone. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dansgaard%E2%80%93Oeschger_eve...

Thanks for the links. I guess I should have said unprecedented within the timescale in question. Note that the link you provided above only discusses the last 10,000 years, so the xkcd timeline is more than adequate when discussing its particular claims.

I'd like to know what you think about my sibling comment, about how this five-year-old article makes a prediction that has already failed. In particular, the article talks about how the 0.8C warming since 1850 fits their hypothesis... but warming has continued quite rapidly since that article was written, so if you wrote that today you'd have to talk about ~1.4C warming since 1850. Does that still fit?

Finally, although it's not relevant to your overall argument, I have to say that Chicxulub is the worst argument I've seen in this space for quite a long time.

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