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Governments 'not on track' to cap temperatures at below 2 degrees: U.N (reuters.com)
206 points by clumsysmurf 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 248 comments



This is a classical example of a market failure. The issue is that today, when you you are buying any good, you are not paying for the full end-to-end cost of the item, which includes the cost of disposal (collection, sorting, recycling) and the cost of fixing the issues caused by for example, CO2 emitted during the production process. In other words, everyone of us is enjoying now a large subsidy/handout paid by future generations. This is called a negative externality.

The straightforward - but not easy - solution is to ask governments to assess a charge on each sold item that brings the price in line with the full cost to society.

Note that market failure does not mean that the “market” mechanism is the cause of the failure - rather the issue is the incompleteness of information. Markets would solve this allocation problem very efficiently once the subsidy is removed. I imagine for example that most packaging using non recyclable plastics would become entirely uneconomical, and the full price of gas would be so high that industry will be incentivized to look for alternative technologies and sources of energy.


This would work, but could only be implemented for longer than a political mandate if all politicians agreed it were a good thing. Today we have politicians that run their campaign promising to cut taxes on gas, and it works, because the average person doesn't care about long term effect on the environment. There are good reasons for this:

- super rich people have super large footprint (extremely large houses, gas guzler vehicles, private jets, etc.... Since humans are humans, they try to imitate people from the top.

- the whole SUV thing (restriction on gas consumption -> people buying trucks with sit in them -> manufacturers started to charge premium for those -> manufacturers made insane profit from those (under 1% profit on a car, up to 50% profit on large SUV) -> manufacturer using ridiculously inefficient vehicles in all their product placement and increase product placements -> people started to buy those exclusively to the point that one manufacturer completely stopped selling car)

- Industries typically pollute a lot than individual, and get away with ridiculously low fines when they do get caught.


Depending on your country, there are usually ways of implementing laws that cannot be overturned with a simple majority. Things like ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments come to mind. Obviously carbon tax bills would be tricky to enact this way since they are fairly technical, but you could set up an agency with it's own authority, ability to appoint it's own executive, etc, if there was a real mandate to have an agency that was beyond political control.


And what really burns is that certain segments of our society are aggressively exploiting this externality.


I can't tell if you mean 'rich people' or 'poor people' by that, because depending on how you look at it, I could argue both. But doesn't that mean that everyone is at fault?


They presumably mean people who profit from the extraction and use of fossil fuels.


Yes, that’s approximately what I mean.

More to the point, the ones that are fighting tooth and claw to maintain the fossil fuel status quo, including blocking consideration of a carbon tax, which would be the market-based remedy to the externality in the GP comment. But also those fighting legitimate scientific inquiry into climate change, emission regulation, better fuel efficiency standards, etc.


But the point is that that's all of us.


OK, sure. But most of us aren't "aggressively exploiting this externality". We're just impressionable, and along for the ride.


I don’t think OP is segmenting explicitly by income (read: singling our rich people); better segmentation could be developing vs developed country per capita, which is what I assume is more like what OP is thinking of.


Has any politician ever campaigned on this though? I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to vote for a cap and trade


I agree 100% with your comment.

> The straightforward - but not easy - solution is to ask governments to assess a charge on each sold item that brings the price in line with the full cost to society.

Sadly, the first blip in GDP growth and this is out the window.


I think the problem is not really a blip on GDP, because it could be done in a revenue neutral way. The problem is that it will change the winners and losers


you are not paying for the full end-to-end cost of the item

Dirty little secret: this is deliberate. Why do you think the West closed all its heavily regulated factories and shifted manufacturing to China where environmental protection and workers rights don’t exist?

We should impose tariffs to punish imports from anywhere that isn’t up to Western standards of regulation. That’s the only way for the market to fix this.


“Imports” are just things, they can’t be punished. The punishment would be for poor workers in China who would see their living standards rise more slowly, and poor citizens in the West, for whom the tariffs would be a highly regressive tax on many of their purchases.


poor workers in China who would see their living standards rise more slowly

So we destroy the planet so the CCP can cling to power for a few more years? Because that’s what that is.

And no one in the West will really suffer if their consumer tat costs more. Maybe we don’t need a new phone every year or maybe we could buy locally made clothes that last a few years?


I agree this happens for the vast majority of goods today. But does anyone have an example of where end-to-end societal cost is included in an item's purchase price?


Cigarettes.


Nope, the financial costs of cigarettes related diseases is actually beared by healthcare systems. And nothing accounts for pain and suffering, comorbidity and impact on families having to live with members being ill or unable to work or prematurely dead. This is not something money can alleviates.


In recent years, and in some countries, maybe so. At least, to some extent. But not fully, I think.


Gasoline


Thanks. Great summary. Wish I'd said it so clearly.

The hard part has obviously been justifying government intervention when there's still uncertainty. Or at least, when those with vested short-term interests can make a strong case about uncertainty. I thought at one point that the insurance industry was going to make a difference, but haven't seen much about that lately.


I think my biggest problem with the idea of pricing in end to end cost of products is that unless it starts meaningfully impacting the quality of peoples lives then it is not nearly doing enough. I don't think there is a way forward against climate change which allows us to continue to consider the current western quality of life as non-negotiable.

Even when people talk about electric cars (deliberately ignoring the potential end-to-end cost here) they will talk about how they sometimes drive cross country to their parents house, or that they tow their travel trailer huge distances that they couldn't possibly do with an electric vehicle.

Then you consider that to make a meaningful change in carbon emissions they probably would need to move to an aerodynamic recumbent electric bicycle for most of their day to day trips you can see how far away we are from making progress.


Indeed. I don't see how it could work with the US being so suburban. We could arguably have a high-tech life if we all lived in cities. If we worked at home, walked to work, or used efficient short-haul mass transit. But yeah, long distance travel only for long-term purposes.

But hey, look at the bright side. Parts of northern Europe aren't far from that ideal. And most of suburban North America will be abandoned, and with any luck we'll get sanely designed cities in habitable areas.


> In other words, everyone of us is enjoying now a large subsidy/handout paid by future generations.

Are future generations going to pay same price we would today? Or are they going to get a discount due to more advanced technology?


or are they going to be scrounging up remnants of technology as the last million humans clustered around the arctic circle.


Nuclear plants are a good example of this mentality, cheap power until you have to decommission the plant and suddenly costs goes through the roof.

But I would not say this is market failure, to me this is market working exactly as intended and expected: maximizing profit without caring for the rest.

On the other hand, it is not a question of subsidy/handout paid by future generation anymore, we're now at the point where it is a matter of going over the threshold effect where the consequence will be no human life possible on earth in a matter of decades.


> ... the consequence will be no human life possible on earth in a matter of decades.

That is very unlikely. People could have survived just fine during the Eocene Optimum, ~50 Myr ago. When the entire planet was tropical. Assuming that they knew what to eat, anyway.


It's not a question of whether humans could exist in a much hotter climate, clearly that's possible (although perhaps not in the same numbers as in the current era). The risk is how much damage we'll do to ecosystems in a world of dwindling resources. To take one example, when mass hunger is widespread can fishing quotas be enforced effectively?

Widespread ecosystem collapse is a plausible risk.


OK, perhaps. But what will mainly collapse is human civilization, and populations, and then ecosystems will more-or-less recover. Not the same, for sure. But that's not such a big deal, in the long term.


I think it's the only deal. It's obviously not the planet that we should be protecting, as it'll be fine here with or without us. It's not also the habitability that we should worry about, because it would be really, really hard to damage the world to such an extent all humans would go extinct.

The thing that matters is keeping our current technological civilization together. If it collapses, it'll undo all the things humanity has achieved, and will prevent the next couple hundred generations from achieving them again. All the advancements in our understanding of the universe, our capabilities, our quality of life - and all the hopes of further advances, ending aging, leaving Earth - poof, gone, not coming back in a while.

(Yes, I'm of a view that there's little difference between humanity 500 years ago and 5000 years ago; everything that's interesting started happening with the printing press and industrial revolution.)


I'm all for "keeping our current technological civilization together". It's just that I'm not sure it's possible, given the cliff we've already walked off of. Actually, there's a reasonable chance that it's our "AI" (for lack of a better yet interpretable word) children that will endure. But it's impossible to predict.


Well, you can take a gun and shoot schoolchildren and in the US and it will demonstrably not be a big deal in less than about two weeks. But I don't see that as a good argument in favour of ignoring school shootings.


That is mere pedantry however. Clearly the main point was that the effects will be undesirable because they will come at the cost of a lot of human life. Whether humanity as a species will survive is, arguably, of lesser importance.


Trust me, predicting the extinction of the human race is going to backfire. Maybe "can't exclude the possibility that the human race will go extinct" is defensible. But still, it's not a useful thing to be saying.


I don't know... It can certainly backfire if even the claim "many humans will die or suffer greatly" is false, then sure. But otherwise, I don't see anyone claiming "well, technically, only 90% of humans will die" would dampen mitigating measures. But of course, I could be wrong.


Look, I get what you say. But consider how skeptics have used extreme predictions from Hanson, Gore and various NGOs to create doubt about the reality of anthropogenic climate change.


Mmm...if the effects are merely "undesirable" and not existential than I dare say that the status quo is unlikely to change. I'd go as far as saying that whatever efforts are being done now might simply be lip-service or at best token gestures. Perhaps it is the case that there is a considerable asymmetry in the impact of the effects...


"Undesirable" and "come at the cost of a lot of human life" is technically correct, but is also a pretty sterile description, that doesn't communicate the full picture.

The worst-case scenario is a collapse of civilization, which - with or without wars - means mass starvation (if you live in a large city, you'll die in the first week). Your grandchildren - or more likely, someone else's grandchildren - will be living in Mad Max hellscape, desperately trying to stave off reverting to pre-industrial levels of life and technology.

(And with all the easily accessible energy sources already mined out and gone, I suspect the next industrial revolution won't be possible for many, many millennia.)


Undesirable is here merely a mild manner of saying: "you and your family in are extremely likely to suffer devastating climate related loss of life and property damage".


> this is market working exactly as intended

This is why we regulate the market. The market will seek to maximize its profit within the bounds of the law. Make the above suggestion compulsory, and the market will adjust to it.


I believe GP was using "market failure" in the sense that the market is not allocating resources in a (Pareto) efficient manner, because of said externalities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_failure


I took part is such a scheme as a youngster.

Pop bottles carried a .05 charge on each bottle, refunded when the empty bottle was returned to the store. Careless consumers (litterers) might just throw the bottles out. Likewise lazy consumers might decide it's 'beneath them' to bring back the empties. But for hungry young scavengers like myself (had to pay for 'Space Invaders' somehow) it was a great source of income.

I'd be glad to see the same idea scaled up.


Pretty much everything bought in the UK, for example, has a 20% tax. How is that a subsidy and how isn't it an example of what you are talking about?


Externalities must be accounted for individually. If the tax is flat then products that pollute more get effectively subsidized by those who pollute less.


Does it accurately capture the environmental costs? I'd expect counting in emissions would make the tax more like 200% on everything.


Except I also lay significant other taxes generated as economic benefit to the nation, including taxes specific to waste disposal as well as the now expanding pot of "general" taxation.

Ultimately the greatest "burden" on environmental pressure is people having more children. Perhaps children should be taxed specific to their effectual "impact".


I don't agree with you. Let's take Apple products. You are saying that the apple products' price wouldn't cover'the full end-to-end cost of the item, which includes the cost of disposal (collection, sorting, recycling) and the cost of fixing the issues caused by for example, CO2 emitted during the production process'? I doubt it.


Apple's profit margins may be high enough to cover external costs, but is Apple fully compensating rare-earth mining communities in developing countries for the environmental effects of sourcing iPhone materials? Is Apple helping communities deal with mountains of disposed Apple-brand electronics? I imagine not, or at least not fully.

The government would have to assess a tax or fee that covers those externalities, and then Apple would be forced to deal with it. Either pass the tax to consumers to save the profit margin, or control externalities to remove the tax at the cost of profit margin.

Presently, Apple products, like all electronic products (and indeed, most products of any kind), are priced without regard to external costs. That the profit margins may high enough to pay for these external costs is only a coincidence due to Apple's silly-high prices.


Something I wonder is if changing the rules around money could help align the short term incentives with long term outcomes.

So we'd keep the "decentralized resource allocation" part of capitalism, but with hopefully better sustainability...


I think this is a major arguement for folks who criticize currencies. For example an energy based currency could be intrinsically ecologically conservative.

Another example is continuous inflation of fiat currency (exponential growth), whereas all things that experience exponential growth in nature eventually run into a limit or another correcting factor.


I feel somewhat embarassed to talk about this, but does anyone else feel a sense of dread and depression when reading news like this? I can't seem to shake it and it's quite strongly affecting my worldview.


Climate Anxiety is starting to get more and more common. APA's guidelines are interesting: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/mental-healt...

It's very jarring to read information from experts and scentific reports on where we're heading and at the same time everyone in the media and all people around me just ignore the problem completely except some comments now and then that reveal how greatly they underestimate the problem. If you start trying to talk about how severe our problems are becoming, you may be labeled a conspiracy theorist / "prepper" and your opinion thrown out the window.


I get the feeling that the winds are shifting, less and less it's being considered extremist thinking.


>I get the feeling that the winds are shifting

I see what you did there.


Then there are those who will not just ignore the problem, but gladly regurgitate the latest denialist tropes:

CO₂ makes plants grow! It compensates for the rise of CO₂ levels!

We used to worry about the environment too, now suddenly it's the climate. The environment turned out fine! Acid rain wasn't a problem either!

It all boils down to not being able to accept that our society will (have to) change.


I'm 24, and two years ago I think I had a full nervous breakdown over climate change. I couldn't stop thinking about it to the point that I stopped sleeping, lost 10 lbs, and almost dropped out of college.

If any train of thought leads you to this point, you have a medical problem, regardless of what you are thinking about. Fortunately, I was able to get help and had fantastic support from my family and friends.

Today I'm off medicine and therapy. I still have bad times lasting 1 - 2 weeks, but never to the point that I can't live.

The important thing that I'm able to see now (even when my anxiety is back) is that everything that is important without climate change, is important with climate change. Even though the world is ending (I am not hopeful), I can still find love, learn new things, see the world, enjoy good food, risk my life, make money, enjoy art, and play sports. You can substitute into that list anything that brings you joy. You can also include fighting climate change in that list.


Well put :)


I used to feel that way. But now I'm old enough that I'm pretty confident that I'll die before shit gets too bad. I'd feel differently if I had kids, but I don't. So mostly I'm left with ironic amusement.

If I were younger, and/or had young family, maybe I'd be doing more. As it is, I spent maybe a decade working on climate change issues at an NGO. And my carbon footprint is relatively low. I don't commute, or travel long distances, I don't eat much meat, and my home is very well insulated. My main sin is running too many computers. But at least I've switched to SSDs.


I know that this is my personal view on life, but: If you don't care at all about what happens after you're dead, what's the purpose of your life? You'll be dead and it won't have mattered a bit that you're been here.


You can just accept that life has no purpose.

This removes anxiety about fulfilling your purpose.

Nihilism can be a source of great comfort when practised by optimist. :)


Acknowledging that life has no purpose (as I believe) does nothing to alleviate my concern for the future suffering of others, however.


If you're strongly moved, you could commit your life to doing something about it. But it's also important to keep in mind that none of this likely matters long term, on the scale of millenia. Future historians will likely consider these times as far more tragic than the fall of Rome. But that's how it goes.


You could do some mind tricks with the use of nihilism to care less about their suffering but I think I agree with you.

Optimism helps more with that. Just be sure that they'll figure something out eventually.


In my case, not exactly nihilism, but est/Landmark. Basically, there is no innate meaning or purpose, only whatever you say that there is. As a biologist, of course, I'd add that there's selection for reproductive fitness. But that's readily ignorable, if you're paying attention.


Maybe from a selfish and individualistic point of view (which is one of the reason things are going in the wrong direction), but if you have empathy and care about others people and life forms it is a very different matter.


I feel strange saying this, but really, it's not going to be that bad. Sure, human civilization may collapse. Billions will die. And we're pretty much locked into an historic extinction event.

But the human race won't get wiped out. And the global ecosystem will recover. It's not like Earth will flip into Venus mode. In a million years or two, this will all be just a blip.


> Its not like Earth will flip into Venus mode

Sure?


I'm pretty sure. Or at least, this reviewer is pretty sure.[0]

> Later calculations showed they were right — a Venus-type runaway on our planet is scarcely possible, even if we burn all available fossil fuels.

0) https://history.aip.org/climate/Venus.htm


Having fun is the best I've come up with. And yes, working on stuff that I care about. But that's part of what I consider having fun. Long term, I'll be dead, no matter what.


But see, that's my point. How can you or I find joy in building a better database or whatever if there will be nobody to use it in 100 years?


OK, so let's say that you really care about this. Maybe consider what could you do about it. Instead of building a better database or whatever.


I don’t think it matters as much if what you do in actuality ends up making a significant difference. What matters is that you did what you could. From the perspectives of future societies, you and I will be blips anyways, so that’s irrelevant. But how can one be contempt with knowing that they didn’t try to make a difference, and that their mark on the world disappears when the energy has left their body and their corpse has been burned and buried, I do not understand, because if you don’t (try to) leave anything of value behind, your existence is practically for nothing, except for maybe even a net negative.


I agree. And I did spend a decade on it. But now my main focus is online privacy and freedom.


Joy is a mental process that has nothing to do with anyone outside of you. The fun is in building, thinking, designing.


You can be pretty confident most people will die before shit gets too bad, also confident that most people will die (latest estimation I heard was over 75% before 2060).

But unless you're over 70-80 you will have to face the shit, it has already been happening for some time now and is accelerating.


I'm not quite there, but getting close :)


Nope. Just a strong motivation to get ready. From where I stand in terms of worldview for my children, the 21st century looks like a race between geo-engineering and forced adaptations, inclusive of genetics, with the lowlands' populations having one chance at armed migration. So maybe not as bad as the 20th...


If you zoomed us forward a century from today, with present day technology, and assume the worst case scenario for climate models we'd still be perfectly fine. The most impactful practical effects would be the changing of coastlines and more severe weather conditions. It's not the end of the world.

Now enter technology. Think about where we were a century ago technologically. Consider that in many ways technology today is accelerating even faster than it was then. Imagine now where we'll be in a century from now. Nobody would from 1918 would be able to guess what 2018 would look like, from a technological point of view, and I'm certain nobody in 2018 can even imagine what 2118 will look like from the same metric. I mean we are already today approaching the level of technology required to live on other planets which are completely and absolutely inhospitable. In the worst case scenarios of climate change, Earth would still be a utopia by comparison. And then enter in near future ideas like geo-engineering, atmospheric manipulation, and so on.

So I don't think it's smart to run a species level experiment on seeing what happens if we just keeping pumping out CO2, but the worst case scenario is both survivable and improbable. It could even end up changing us vastly for the better. The Black Death is something no one would have ever wanted, yet it paradoxically accelerated, if not sparked, the change that nearly everybody would have wanted of a transition away from feudal society to a more free society.


>If you zoomed us forward a century from today, with present day technology, and assume the worst case scenario for climate models we'd still be perfectly fine.

The average case looks like that. The worst case looks like the Permian-Triassic extinction.


What about impacts on food production? And chaos from mass migrations?


Remember, first and foremost, the climate change isn't something that will happen, it is happening. It's not like one day everything is just dandy and the next day everything is underwater and everybody's freaking out realizing how serious an issue it was all along. It is an extremely gradual process. The characteristics, locations, and composition of food production may change but global level starvation is not a realistic concern. One of the more cynical papers of recent time proposed up to 500k deaths related to food production by 2050. Work that out in terms of net effect on the global population over 30 years. It's certainly not something that should be shrugged off, but at the same time e.g. rising obesity rates will cause magnitudes more deaths before then.

Over time, if our models hold up, we'll see the desirability of coastal areas begin to gradually decline. As sea levels gradually rise we'll probably respond with pumping systems and other technological solutions and if/when technological solutions start to lose ground we'll begin to see demand for coastal property start to decline but as there will always be people with different appetites for risk and prospecting, it'll constantly be a gradual process. We'll probably also see the rise of entrepreneurs taking advantage of the changing landscapes to offer new solutions. For instance check out the ideas for ideas being carried out by Dutch Docklands. [1] Some phenomenal stuff there. For others, we'll likely see emigrations more inland as I imagine we've already seen, at least to some degree, from places like Louisiana.

In the worst case, there may be lots of change. But change is not necessarily bad in the longrun, even if undesirable in the shortrun.

[1] - http://www.dutchdocklands.com/Development/United-States


OK, good points. I agree that it's hard to talk about such gradual changes. But what worries me is that stuff isn't always linear.


The problem is not climate change, it’s climate change acceleration.

A handful of extinctions over 10,000 years are no problem for an ecosystem to handle.

A handful of extinctions every year for 50 years can turn a forest into a wasteland.


The things that concern me about this are: 1. The amplifying impact that the global financial system will have on climate change. When banks feel agricultural loans are too risky, they will pull farmer credit lines, resulting in a halving of yields. This might already be happening in some places. 2. The organizations which have a mandate for resolving this problem are not fit-for-purpose. Big bloated and corrupt beaurocracies - breaking up in disarray: see the Green Climate Fund. 3. Active attempts to frustrate solutions. And I simply don’t understand why people would want to do so. Even if your livelihood is dependent on a petrol company, or similar, your families’ ultimate livelihood will be dependent on a stable climate.

For reference, I don’t think life on earth is threatened (that’s just hyperbole) but there is a high probability that the population will readjust down to 3-4 billion and this readjustment will be a rather painful down-sizing.


Here's my view on this: I've stopped caring. I don't have kids and I don't particularly care about the future of humanity. Humans will most likely ruin the planet and, at some point, due to a lack of foresight, kill themselves to extinction. After a few hundred million years, the Earth will be back in operation.

In my opinion, humans just don't do well with restriction. If politicians focus on restricting consumption of goods and energy, we'll just end up in another "general malaise"[1] like in the 1970s.

The only way this will ever get solved is through enormous amounts of clean energy (nuclear, which nobody wants) and recapturing carbon.

[1] https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106508...


> After a few hundred million years, the Earth will be back in operation

Well... The sun is gradually getting hotter over geological timescales. Eventually it will experience Venus-style runaway warming, and this could happen as soon as 500 million years from now.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130729-runa...


I do too. Considering the scenarios in which this plays out makes me feel sick, and overwhelmingly helpless.


Yes. It's awful. But you're not the only one.

I feel like someone found an asteroid headed for Earth and everyone just shrugged and decided to pretend it wasn't there. People still make plans for retirement, etc. assuming the world will be the same as it is now, and it dumbfounds me. It's not just climate change deniers - it's people who agree with the science and even see that we're not doing enough, and that it may be accelerating. But apparently it's too abstract to consider it in your own life. I kind of wish it were that way for me; it would beat living in dread and fear.


I've read about this psychological theory somewhere - that there is so much danger around human that human brain has to ignore everything that doesn't impact him directly, othervise everyone would be paralized by fear all the time. Without this mechanism, one would be unable to leave his apartment - there are hundreds of potentialy dangerous individuals you'll meet every day, moving in things that would kill you instantly if someone just made a small mistake. And if you decide to use this thing, you depend on tens of people you've never met that they did their job correctly, othervise you may be killed even though you haven't made any mistake. Public transportation is even worse in this regard.

It would also explain how anyone is able to do things that are unhealthy - smoke, drink alcohol, eat sugar. Even though we all know that it's really unhealthy, it doesn't affect us directly, so it's hard to take it as serious threat.

I'm not sure if this theory is true, but it keeps explaining a lot of human behaviour to me.


It’s funny to think how people would probably also ignore an asteroid that was 50 years away. It would be “fake news”.


These news stories are ominous.


Based on my experience over the past few decades, it's going to just keep getting worse. And there's not much that we can do about that. Except to maybe mitigate the extremes. And even that's iffy, because we don't know what'll happen with the permafrost.


It probably will get worse, until people get tired of ominous news. Eventually it must get tiring or at least cause desensitisation.


Personally, I worry about a lot. Global warming, not so much. It will have an impact on coasta cities but that aside, it really isn't that big a deal. We have much bigger risks to worry about (both environmental and otherwise).


Once the permafrost starts to melt, it will cause a positive feedback loop causing all trapped methane to rapidly be released, doubling the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. It's literally a ticking bomb. I worry about it.


This just in: permafrost has already been melting for a little while now.


Nice nitpick. I am of course referring to the fact that the ongoing melting of the permafrost will soon reach a point where methane will start to be released on a terrifying scale.


But then again, methane has a short half life in the atmosphere.


then again, this is not a process that can be stopped once started and there more than enough methane to have dramatic consequences.

then again this is one reinforcing feedback loop among several others.

Are you familiar with the concept of planet albedo, and how it is changing on earth due to melting polar cap? Ever heard of ocean's anoxic events and their consequences ?

And the list goes on.


Yes yes

The reason I'm citing this is not because I think we shouldn't worry, but because if the methane is released (and this depends on the release speed as well) we might have a period with an atmosphere with high concentrations of methane, then a sudden reduction.

Runaway greenhouse gas concentrations and higher temperature might trigger (the reason being we know some things, but we don't know everything) a runaway CO2 capture process. It sounds SciFi, and it probably is, and it seems Nitrogen is a limiting factor. But I wouldn't say it is impossible. Or it could be possible with human help.

Then at the end of this period we could end up with less CO2 in the atmosphere, with oil running out and the clathrates emptied.


Yes, it's hard to know. But pushing too hard on extreme projections is too easily gamed by deniers.


Sure, but there's a lot of it there.


And even after it's 'short life', it just breaks down into a less potent greenhouse gas.


Yes, there's that too :(


Most of the worlds largest cities are near the coasts. And weather systems hundreds of km from coastal areas are still affected by things like ocean currents that affect the temperature. E.g. weather in large parts of North Western Europe is substantially warmer than you'd expect because of this.

So on one hand expect large scale migrations and/or massively expensive programs to mitigate the problems. On the other hand expect far more extreme weather far inland.

The idea it will only affect coastal cities is a dangerous one.


>Most of the worlds largest cities are near the coasts.

There are some cities (New Orleans, Venice, Boston to an extent, to name a few), which are highly vulnerable to sea level rise, but most coastal cities are at high enough elevation that a sea level rise of a few meters wouldn't be the end of the world - it would require better levees, dikes, etc.

Contrast with such risks as increased capability of biological warfare, the persistent risk of nuclear warfare, or, ecologically, declining natural forestation and vegetation due to heavy use of land for cultivated agriculture.

As for extreme weather, it's not like the Earth naturally has less extreme weather at colder temperatures. Warmer temperatures will cause changes in weather patterns, and some places are getting more extreme weather than before, but there is no reason it will be net worse for the whole world.


Not that simple. It's not just about managing a few meters, but managing a few meters increase in worst case. E.g for London a few meters is a minor problem in normal situations, but a few meters in worst case situations have potentially dramatic impact on costs to upgrade the Thames Barrier, and will have dramatic impact in terms of how large areas downstream of London will get flooded if the Thames Barrier needs to be closed.

A lot of cities face issues with follow on effects like that.

It won't be 'the end of the world' if its just a few meters, but it is still enough that cities like London face multi billion flood defence upgrades, and towns housing hundreds of thousands will face increased flood risks as a consequence of anything done to upgrade the defences.

And you're severely underestimating the direct damage. Many of the highest population density areas in the world are at risk,and many of the areas at worst risk are also among the poorest, like Bangladesh.

As for extreme weather, yes indications are that we're heading for more overall extreme weather, not just changes.


There’s a lot of money to be made by government contractors who are prepared.


The problem is how quickly and where to people from costal areas will relocate. And how new climate will affect food production.


Try not living in the past and regurgitating media nonsense. Global warming is what global media uses to brainwash people away from the problem. Climate change is the real thing and real deal.

Inform yourself and learn that one of the current issue we face is a continental increase of temperature and shift inseason that would make agriculture impossible in about 50 years.

There are reinforcing feedback loops that will push the change past a threshold where cascading effects would make life on earth surface near impossible.

Life on earth is a complex interdependent system and the larger animals are the first to go, guess what's next now that elephants, whales, tigers, and pretty much every animal larger than humans is on the brink of extinction.


It won't make life on earth's surface impossible. At worst everything largish (plus some other stuff) will die off and open up the environment to new life (maybe a new cephalopod world order?). Remember, all of this CO2 was once in the atmosphere during the carboniferous and other periods. Nature doesn't give a damn about us and will just roll with the punches we're throwing and crush us like it has other times when life totally fucked the environment up.


On the contrary, agricultural output goes up with increasing temperature.


Me too! Reading about how dysfunctional and corrupt the UN has become is indeed very depressing. Great to hear I'm not alone.


Could it be that the human brain just cannot relate to or care about large-scale and long-term problems without continually making a conscious effort to?

It seems that as long as our immediate lives are good enough, we're fine with everything.

Does that make our species incapable of expanding beyond our home planet let alone the solar system? Because those undertakings require a fundamental reconfiguration of how we operate and interact.

So far the best "hack" we've found for keeping things going is money: Someone finds a way to make money from projects that may or may not happen to advance the species as a whole, convinces people to work on those projects with the offer of money, and those people use money to improve their immediate lives.

So until someone needs to find a way to make money from keeping climate change in check, there's probably nothing to be done about it until it directly impacts people's ability to make money and affects their immediate lives.


Could it be that the human brain just cannot relate to or care about large-scale and long-term problems without continually making a conscious effort to?

What we are experiencing is a failure of particular institutions - government, industry, NGOs, Intergovernmental organizations etc. What an average brain might or might not care or related-to is a significant distance from this.

One might argue we have a failure of brains together to create responsible organizations and frameworks. But here, we have had quite a few struggles between types of organizations, with some winning and some losing. Perhaps the losers might have done better, perhaps not.


It's hard to blame our government when millions of people voted for a guy that proclaimed climate change was a Chinese hoax.


Those fossil fuel dudes have done some great PR, haven't they?

It's arguably China and Russia that will come out ahead, with the Arctic Ocean as the new Mediterranean. And maybe the US, after it annexes Canada.

Edit: See https://www.arctictoday.com/chinas-arctic-plans-represent-ne...


Governments, companies, NGOs, etc. are all just collections of people. At the end of the day, I do think the issue is that we’re fundamentally selfish creatures, only able to really make decisions for the good of ourselves, or maybe also a few close friends/family members.

We understand that we’re destroying the planet, but we figure, why should I consume less, if others might not limit their consumption the same way? It seems that we’re incapable of making decisions that prioritize the welfare of the human race. I do think that apocalyptic sci-fi is probably right - on the scale of 100s to 1000s of years, we’ll likely drive ourselves to extinction, or something near extinction. The tragedy of the commons seems like an unavoidable consequence of the way we think, and I don’t see us getting past it.


Governments, companies, NGOs, etc. are all just collections of people.

Sure, and people are just collections of molecules. And the structure involved in arranging elements matters.

Further, the problem is hardly that humans are selfish but that we have developed complex structures that allow large scale exploitation of resources (and each other) but which don't allow large-scale protection of resources and situations that we (selfishly) want.

Of course, if we were just random configurations of humans spread-about the landscape doing hunting and gathering, we wouldn't have the ability to burn massive fossil fuel resources to generate climate change, however selfish we might be.


My point is that due to the way our brains work (looking out mostly for ourselves and those close to us, placing very little importance on things happening on the scale of 10s to 100s of years from now), it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to form global, effective ways to protect the environment, until the environmental degradation is having a MASSIVE negative impact on our lives. We form organizations to exploit resources at scale, because that benefits us as individuals quickly. But protecting the environment is bad for us as individuals in the short term, AND it relies on global buy-in, so I can’t see humans doing it anytime soon.

FWIW I think this is a tragedy, but also a likely reality.


I don't think we've hit a limitation of our brains. We used to be able to build cathedrals that took dozens of years to complete. Voyager 2 was launched in 1977 and didn't complete its initial mission until 1989. We planted trees that we knew would take a hundred years to reach full maturity.

We don't have a cognitive failure. We have an institutional failure. The corporate system that drives most of human society today is often unable to deliver long-term projects that benefit society. The tragedy of the commons is a viable business model — the way to compete is to exploit as much of the environment as you can before the other guy does.


I fear things you mention are exceptions that don't scale - that can be mostly traced down to a bunch of individuals believing in a mission and having a means to accomplish it, supported by lots of people doing it for money or being coerced. That, and religion, which is a way of rewriting people's cost/benefit calculations at scale. So with cathedrals, I'd expect most people involved were either paid, coerced by violence, or coerced by their religious beliefs; with Voyager, I expect there was a bunch of scientists and managers who cared and got public money to command, and thousands of people who were simply paid to do their jobs.

I'd love to see money go away as a factor, but I can't see how - especially for projects that require large existing industries (leveraging economies of scale).


Implied in your answer is that the root cause of climate change is failed economic systems. Isn't that what we should address?


I believe so, yes.

Capitalism is a very powerful tool, but we've taken it to the point of religious dogma and its short-comings are very real at the scale of a global economy.


Replying to other sibling comments similar to the one above:

> We have an institutional failure.

> What we are experiencing is a failure of particular institutions - government, industry, NGOs, Intergovernmental organizations etc. What an average brain might or might not care or related-to is a significant distance from this.

Those institutions are other humans. Why do we pretend they're not?

Is this more of a social hierarchy thing than biological; i.e. trusting our "superiors" to take take care of it, or basically "not my job."


> Those institutions are other humans.

They are made of humans, but not equivalent to humans.

It's like saying the problem is a failure of neurons. There's nothing in a single neuron that will let you fix this problem. Likewise, I don't think looking in the head of a single human will fix it. It's the organizations that the humans built and they way they interact in them that causes the problems. It's an emergent phenomenon of the aggregation.


No, people care. But our governments are hugely messed up. Part of this is that they are still fighting the old fights of the 20th century about racism and classism and so on. In the US we're still struggling to get cities to build mass transit and teach evolution in schools. Generally everywhere in every country is still struggling to get the public to concentrate on problems that matter rather than falling for the classic scam of rallying to the cause of hating people who are different.

Climate change is only one problem, there are so many others that fall under the general outline of "act like an adult and take care of your own problems" that aren't being addressed. Flint, Michigan's water, for example, is the poster child for the fact that across the developed world there has been substantial and persistent under investment in municipal water and sanitation infrastructure. So much of the developed world is coasting along on temporary hacks put in place decades ago that are running on borrowed time. Roads and bridges are also under maintained. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

All of these things, and climate change, are solvable problems, we have the wealth and the technology to tackle these things effectively, we just don't seem to be able to organize the work effectively.


I think constructs of our society, and short-term political leadership in particular, is a bigger problem than the human brain. Politicians can and do make pledges on being committed to "the green shift" while actually choosing easy "greenwashing" solutions that they publicise heavily.

Meanwhile most of the can gets kicked down the road. And the term for a politician, even if it's 8 years, is so short that no single politician gets the blame in 50 years' time.


That's all true, but doesn't really come to terms with why we as individuals don't spontaneously leap into unified mass action. We keep our cars, our flights, our meat and our general over consumption. Even the tendency to defer to authority and expect our government to deal with the problem undermines potential solutions. It seems to be truly an innate human failing... at least so far. This kind of problem just doesn't trigger an existential threat response where we throw everything we have at it.


>This kind of problem just doesn't trigger an existential threat response where we throw everything we have at it.

You're right, I think it's because the consequences are too abstract / too far in the future. I still think it's fair to expect governments to take the lead on this though. Of course, on an individual basis, people can choose to reduce their consumption. But we are social animals and seeing everyone else around you indulging in pleasures while you 'take the high road' just won't work on a societal level.

Governments used to have this kind of authority / determination. What comes to mind is banning lead from gasoline (something which was also met with considerable opposition from industry).

EDIT: Of course having lead in your gasoline won't give anyone much pleasure. We are dealing with a lot harder problem here. Still, many people are yearning for a change in the right direction. It just takes leaders with courage and determination (and a buttload of money presumably).


> Governments used to have this kind of authority / determination.

I think the root cause of our climate change problems (and environmental destruction in general) goes deeper, and though it could be addressed by governments taking firm action, this will not happen: I think our economic systems are failing us, and are the real root cause.

And this is a problem that is still not recognized fully, or actively denied. And it is a problem that governments and politicians are increasingly less able to address, as their power wanes in favour of corporate interests.

For that last point this Guardian article 'The demise of the Nation State' is a revealing and interesting (though disturbing) read:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/apr/05/demise-of-the-n...


> I think our economic systems are failing us, and are the real root cause.

I think so too. Just look at carbon capture and storage (CCS). It's proven and mature technology at this point, it's been done at industrial scale and for up to a decade (in the North Sea). The total operating cost is approx. $80/ton and falling for a coal powerplant, meaning that the level of CCS that's projected for the 1.5 degree scenario in 2060 (10 gigatonnes CO2 captured per year) will cost less than $0.8 trillion annually worldwide with today's technology. For comparison, the global electricity market alone, which would be using around half of that CCS capacity, was $3.1 trillion in 2015. This means you could fund all the CCS we need for less than a 13% increase in electricity prices.


I agree that CCS might be one of the tools in our toolbox that is required to reach our goals in CO2 reduction. But at the same time it is a measure that implicitly comes with the attitude "we don't have to change our ways (much), just put all that CO2 back in the ground", and therefore CCS is an appealing solution for industry.

But addressing the problem in our economic systems goes much further, and entails foregoing the idea of 'infinite growth' and the overconsumption that comes with it. In terms of climate change it means most focus should go into reduction of the CO2 we produce in the first place.


I would counter that CCS is a hard requirement. We're not going to stop producing cement, steel or aluminium anytime this century. Those are just a few manufacturing processes that have significant inherent CO2 emissions that won't go away even if 100% of worldwide electricity comes from renewables. The emissions come from the chemical processes themselves. These cases will undisputably need CCS.

For power generation, we have basically two solutions for large-scale baseload generation until fusion comes along: nuclear, and coal/gas with CCS. I would prefer we go with nuclear, but environmentalists seem unable to make the right choice between tuberculosis and lung cancer.

On the other hand, I definitely agree that 'infinite growth' is a huge problem. Even 'sustainable growth' is problematic in itself. We need to change to a zero-growth worldwide economy, which has extremely far reaching consequences. For instance, it means we can no longer rely on growth making it easy to pay off debts, neither as people nor as nation states. Interest rates all become a bit weird. It would mean the entire economic system needs to be changed.


> And it is a problem that governments and politicians are increasingly less able to address, as their power wanes in favour of corporate interests.

you are about a century late, this is a done deal that happened during the 20th century.

IIRC the quote said something like that: the 20th century saw the greatest advance in corporate power and democracy, and corporations used their newly acquired powers to protect themselves from democracy.


> But we are social animals and seeing everyone else around you indulging in pleasures while you 'take the high road' just won't work on a societal level.

For sure. But it's just humans running the government too, with the same short sighted and social biases as the rest of us. Expecting them to overcome our shared human nature might be wishful thinking.


> but doesn't really come to terms with why we as individuals don't spontaneously leap into unified mass action

Because human beings don't do that. Period. Coordinating people is a hard problem. Probably the hardest problem of humanity, solving which would solve everything else in time - from war and crime to sickness and death (imagine all our best and brightest focused on R&D instead of chasing grants, citations and lucrative jobs).

Coordination problems are a superset of the tragedy of the commons, the prisoner's dilemma, and other such game-theoretic concepts. They happen when there's a huge gain for everyone that, to be realized, requires everyone to make a small personal sacrifice or take some risk, but the system is set up so that people do not make those sacrifices, do not take those risks. In the tragedy of commons, the first person to defect wins big, so you're the loser for even starting to voluntarily limit your share. In prisoner's dilemma, if you cooperate but the other party doesn't, you lose big.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/ is a great discussion of those problems.


I think you've hit the nail on the head. Motivation on this scale is very hard to manage. The free markets are the best way I know of to motivate people into action. But the best thing motivated people do is they come up with new technologies. This is where I'm pinning my hopes. I don't think this is going to be solved by governments regulating (that is needed however). It's going to be when we hit the tipping point of low carbon energy production being cheaper than coal and when batteries get cheap enough to both buffer the electrical grid and take over the role of energy storage in vehicles. Once that happens I think we'll see an asymptotic reduction in emissions. I just hope things are in a reasonable state when that happens.


I am hoping for the same. But yhe thing is that gas and oil are stored in big underground "warehouses" and the owners just have to open the valve to be profitable. They may just undercut any competition and drive it out of business.


Things aren't so bleak as you think. I work in O&G and there are huge amounts of "swing production" in the form of new wells which may be drilled or not drilled, depending on the price of oil and gas.

If the price for energy from renewables becomes cheaper than the price of energy from these wells, they won't be drilled.


That makes me hopeful. What do you think needs to happen for renewables to become cheap enough?


In the short term a carbon tax would do the trick.

In the long term technological breakthroughs in renewable technology will hopefully bring the cost down.


The fun thing is that oil and gas are actually renewables given enough time and what we label renewables are not actually renewable, do not scale or do not fit our energy use.

There is no cheap energy production once you factor in costs that are not money.


Sorry to burst your bubble but free markets are not the best way to motivate people, people do not want to work but simply want to be happy and live a fulfilling life.

Then again it is not a matter of putting cheap batteries in vehicles, it is a matter of not having road vehicles because the issue at hand right now is that we're currently aiming over the threshold where conditions making life possible on earth are going to go away.

Only option is massive reduction of human population and energy use.


That’s s bold claim that our only option is a massive reduction in population and energy use. Do you have any data or models to back that up?


I agree. Also, humans are terrible procrastinators. In my experience as a terrible procrastinator, motivation will come only when nothing else could possibly seem more important. By then, the most valuable time and opportunity to solve the problem will be long gone. Humanity will survive after pulling some half-baked solution out of its ass, but it will remember with great pain global civilization's first abject failure. After the second or third abject failure, we might start to wise up and take equilibrium seriously...

(That's one potential outcome. I think it is most likely but I also have high hopes for the tens of thousands of brilliant problem solvers focused on averting catastrophe).


From economic theory, the concept of time inconsistency [1] in my opinion explains pretty well whats currently going on:

For current governments, it is allegedly optimal to not take immediate action but to announce/commit to actions in the future. Problem is, that for the next government, the same result from the optimization problem arises.

A similar pattern can be found with nuclear waste, a problem that is known since many decades, yet there are very few permanent solutions.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_inconsistency


Dynamic inconsistency assumes a person actually wants to do something in the future, but in the future, their calculations change. I fear it's much simpler than that.

Political system is a strong selection process in itself. It selects for people who can pander to public the best, and make best deals with their colleagues. Any effort spent on making something good happen, or even making good on the promises used to get in, is an effort wasted; it's something the system slowly but surely selects against.


The main problem with this situation is fossil fuel interests are in control.

They use tactics similar to those responsible for electing the current president of the United States. The people are not well-informed, they are drowning in misinformation and propaganda.


"someone needs to find a way to make money from keeping climate change in check"

What about a price on carbon? We should put the most powerful tool created by our civilisation - our free market industrial economy - to work on our biggest challenge / opportunity. Governments need to represent their citizens to the market on this, not the other way around.


Yes, that should have happened 20 years ago. Now it would require even more drastic measures. I think at this point it is safe to conclude that humanity will not solve this problem, and will simply have to cope with its consequences.


That idea's been around for decades. And it's never been seriously implemented. Maybe it will be, once things are horrible enough, but then it will be too late.


> And it's never been seriously implemented.

Except in one of the worlds largest economies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Emission_Tradin..., along with some other advanced economies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol#International_E...

In first world nations it's mostly just the US (and a few other smaller nations) dragging their heels.


OK, but how much are emissions actually getting cut?

And hey, I don't mean to diss Europe. It's just too little, too late. Without the US and China, we're screwed.


Emissions covered by the scheme are down from 2400 Mt in 2005 to 1800Mt in 2017.

https://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/04/...

China is only partially on board in terms of concerted action, but they are spending the most amount of money of any country on green energy. You could characterize it as accelerating and turning at the same time. In a way, scaling up and cutting the cost of solar and electric vehicles is arguably the most important thing at the moment, because it increases the degree and speed at which they undercut the current technology. We need to push as many boulders over the top of hills over the next 5-10 years, so that big emissions savings can occur through blunt economics even without pricing in carbon.

A lot of the US is also on board, notably California which on its own is one of the worlds largest economies. And on top of that a lot of important institutions, particularly academic. There is enough to be making progress with. Even the parts of the US which actively refuse to do anything will get dragged along when products are made cheaper.


That is good news, for sure. But the problem is "covered by the scheme". And yes, China is gearing up. However, at least some of the emission cuts are offset by imports from China. Do the estimates that you've cited account for that?

Bottom line, the Mauna Loa CO2 record tells us that not much has changed since 2000.[0] Not even over the past five years.[1] Except for a jump in 2016, anyway. And OK, maybe a hint of a slowdown in the past year.

0) https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/full.html

1) https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/index.html


California Cap-and-Trade Legislative Analysis 2017 Auctions Have Generated $4.4 Billion in State Revenue. ARB has conducted 17 quarterly cap-andtrade auctions since November 2012—generating roughly $4.4 billion in state revenue. Beginning January 1, 2015, transportation and natural gas fuel suppliers were required to obtain allowances for the GHG emissions associated with the combustion of their fuels. Since transportation fuel suppliers are not given free allowances, the number of stateauctioned allowances increased substantially in 2015—resulting in auctions raising significantly higher amounts of state revenue.

https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2017/3553/cap-and-trade-021317.pd...


By "a price on carbon" you presumably mean "a tax on CO2", aka simultaneously making everything a little more expensive for current voters, and making government dependent on yet another sin tax? Not particularly good politics.


Right, money. And the problem, as you say, is ...

> So until someone needs to find a way to make money from keeping climate change in check, there's probably nothing to be done about it until it directly impacts people's ability to make money and affects their immediate lives.

By the time that happens, it will be decades too late, and we will be committed to several decades of altered climate. Because the atmospheric halflife of CO2 is ~30 years. And there are likely positive feedbacks.


Several decades? You mean centuries. But you're right we are a few decades too late, and haven't started reacting yet.


OK, maybe centuries, to get back to ~1950 or whatever. What I meant was decades of stuff getting worse, pretty much no matter what we do.


The human animal is not cognitively adapted to cope with the world we have built.

It's quite astonishing actually when you realize how all of our tiny individual inputs made this massive machinery that individuals physically cannot truly understand the impacts of.


This is not a large scale problem, it is an individual problem, when one turns the light on, eats meat everyday, drives a car, watches tv, uses a cellphone, etc. one is part of the problem.

It is not a long term problem either, we're not talking millenia or centuries but decades. And it all started a couple lifetime ago.


A part of the problem, and perhaps a significant part, is that climate science has done a terrible job of selling itself to the public. The history of climate science is 30 years of marketing catastrophe and doomsday predictions, backed by near unanimous support from the scientific community. Sadly, it’s also 30 years of bunk predictions, and scientists appealing to a sense of impending doom, justified by the idea that overselling the evidence is worthwhile due to the importance of the cause. The consequence is that it doesn’t matter to many people whether they’re right or not, because the communication around this science has done such a remarkable job of undermining its own credibility.


Don't even bother with stuff like this on HN. A majority of folk are utterly impervious to or unaware of the actuality of those '30 years of bunk predictions'. And those that are not, don't bother commenting because they know what happens.


I admit it's hard to counteract the majority of alarmists, but I don't think it hurts to have a few well-reasoned dissenting comments on every story.

The point is to show a few readers that there isn't consensus on the issue and give them a reason to research it themselves. Until I reached a threshold of doubt to do that it just seemed like a safe bet to believe the rhetoric.


Ironically, this kind of smug attitude just adds to the problem.


If you actually look at the history of predictions about climate change, you'll find that they've been remarkably conservative. But whatever, let's just see what happens.


Climate science has a well established history of falsified predictions and fabricated doomsdaying.

https://m.huffingtonpost.ca/jasmin-guenette/al-gores-inconve...

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/02/15/97-an-inconven...

https://www.wsj.com/articles/thirty-years-on-how-well-do-glo...

The average person can see that climate alarmism is complete fud, they can probably also see that climate denialists also pedal fud, but it doesn’t matter because climate activists have already done the job of undermining the science for them. If you want more people to take climate change seriously, this is the problem that needs to be addressed. Spending your energy naval gazing wondering “why don’t people have the same views on climate change that I do? It must be because they are not smart enough to understand it on the same level I do...” really just makes it worse. Nobody’s ever been so good at condescension that they managed to change somebody mind.


Seriously, I do hope that you're right. But I doubt it.


I actually haven’t made a single comment about the validity of climate change in this thread. I have exclusively talked about the chronic issues with climate science communication and it’s propensity to publicly promote outrageous predictions.

The underlying science doesn’t even enter the picture for many people. Because if you spend 30 years saying the world is about to end, then people don’t need to know a single thing about the science, because they know for a fact that the world didn’t end.


Maybe science journalism has been iffy, and maybe some advocates have aimed to shock. But the fact remains that scientists have been talking for decades about what it's going to be like in 2050 or 2100 or whatever. And those projections haven't changed much. It's just that 2050 is no longer so far in the future.


The problem isn’t science journalism, or iffyness. It’s the predictions made by the scientists themselves. Scientists have spent the past few decades predicting near term catastrophes, which have not been iffy, they have been outright falsified by failing to eventuate. The sentiment I’ve observed regarding this, and what you seem to be echoing right now is that it’s OK to overstate evidence and predictions because anything you say or do to get people to fear climate change is good, regardless of its merits. The outcome of that is that climate science has been thoroughly undermined by its own predictions. Why would somebody believe that the next 80 years of predictions are going to be more accurate than the previous 30? Predicting something 80 years into the future seems a lot harder than predicting something 10 years into it. If the question is “why don’t enough people take climate change seriously?” Then looking at the merits of the communication on the topic seems like a much more reasonable line of inquiry, rather than arriving at the conclusion that people must be mentally deficient in some way. Because even though a lot of damage has already been done, there are so many ways for the communication to be improved.


Just what predictions are you talking about? And please, don't point at stuff in the popular press. I'm talking mainly about the UN IPCC assessment reports.


>And please, don't point at stuff in the popular press.

The articles I've linked show the failings of arguable the two most noteworthy climate change advocates, Al Gore and James Hansen (a real climate scientist). This perfectly illustrates my point that the communication on this topic has been complete bunk. But if you want failings from the UN, you don't have to look very far.

>1990 IPCC

Under the IPCC ‘Business as Usual’ emissions of greenhouse gases the average rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century is estimated to be 0.3°C per decade

>Outcome

0.12°C-0.19°C Depending on your source

>1990 IPCC

This will result in a likely increase in global mean temperature of about 1°C above the present value by 2025

>Outcome

0.31°C to 0.49°C by 2017, depending on your source.

>2007 IPCC

by 2020, between 75 and 250 million of people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change

>Outcome

Confidence is low for a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century, owing to lack of direct observations, methodological uncertainties and geographical inconsistencies in the trends (Source UN IPCC)

>2007 IPCC

There is a very high likelihood that Himalayan glaciers will disappear by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.

>Outcome

IPCC later outright recanted this prediction saying it was not peer reviewed https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jan/20/ipcc-him...

>2001 IPCC

Fire frequency is expected to increase with human-induced climate change, and that several authors suggest that climate change is likely to increase the number of days with severe burning conditions, prolong the fire season, and increase lightning activity, all of which lead to probable increases in fire frequency and areas burned

>Outcome

Globally, the total acreage burned by fires each year declined by 24 percent between 1998 and 2015 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170629175502.h...


We're not yet 30% into the next century from 1990, so mean 0.3°C per decade is still possible.

Given how things are going, about 1°C by 2025 is still possible. Also, there was a slowing in temperature increase from 1998 to 2012. But now we're back at the long-term trend. I suspect that Chinese SOx emissions from coal played a role, by increasing cloudiness. Cuts in SOx emissions in the 70s arguably increased the warming rate. And if that's true, the shit will hit the fan as China cuts coal use. Because the residence halflife for SOx is so much lower than that for CO2.

I don't know the water stress stuff. But California has been pretty screwed. Let's see what happens in the US Southwest over the next decade or so.

Maybe we still have Himalayan glaciers, but high-altitude glaciers have generally not fared so well, I think.

You're misusing that data on area burned by fires. The page actually says ...

> The ongoing transition from nomadic cultures to settled lifestyles and intensifying agriculture has led to a steep drop not only in the use of fire on local lands, but in the prevalence of fire worldwide, researchers found.

... and ...

> Across Africa, fires typically burn an area about half the size of the continental United States every year, said Niels Andela, a research scientist at Goddard and lead author on the paper. In traditional savanna cultures with common lands, people often set fires to keep grazing lands productive and free of shrubs. As many of these communities have shifted to cultivate more permanent fields and to build more houses, roads and villages, the use of fire declines. As economic development continues, the landscape becomes more fragmented, communities often enact legislation to control fires and the burned area declines even more.

The recent experience in Russia, northern Europe, California, etc does seem consistent with predictions. But I agree that there's not enough data to be confident yet.


It is not just governments, its people too.

How many couples will have more than one child? How many people eat meat or fish every day? How many people drive their car to the corner store less than a mile away? How many people buy huge SUVs and trucks as a status symbol when a smaller car is all they need?

Governments won't solve this issue. We the consumers have to solve it, the problem is that nobody gives a fuck.

I have tried to reduce my carbon footprint to the minimum and guess what? It won't matter because by the time I have saved a few kilos of Co2 there's a douchebag with a hummer driving down the street sucking gasoline like there is no tomorrow!

And to top it off everybody thinks that the world's economy can continue to grow without any limits. I believe that as a species we are simply delusional.


I think blaming the douchebag with a hummer is focusing on the wrong part of the problem.

There are factories right now polluting the environment with CFC, which you might remember as being a. the cause of the hole in the Ozone layer, and b. forbidden. Whomever approved this awful idea will likely get no sanction, amd yet they'll cause way more damage than a guy with a hummer will do in their lifetime.

Just like the ban on plastic straws, focusing on those things that are moderately bad while ignoring those that are ridiculously, catastrophically bad is a wasted effort. Unfortunately we created institutions to deal with those issues, and they have no interest in doing their jobs. That, I believe, is where the anger should be focused on.


I understand the source of that CFC pollution is unknown at this stage, we're not even sure which country it's coming from. CFC production is banned worldwide already so it's a matter of finding the culprit and shutting it down.


> Governments won't solve this issue. We the consumers have to solve it, the problem is that nobody gives a fuck.

Consumers will never "solve the problem". Why would they? Why would someone downgrade their lifestyle when everyone around them continues to live unsustainably and are more happy as a result? It's all or nothing, and only governments can enforce that.


So according to you there is no possible solution for people living in the zomia[1] despite people in the zomia actually living in a sustainable way.

Governements is something we could do without and probably fare much better, the logic is simple when you do not relinquish your sovereignity to a hierachy of power then you are in power and feel responsible of your own life so you are an actor of your own life and consequences instead of being a passive consumer, consuming things to try to alleviate fearful living of an unfilfilling life. Happy and fulfilled people do not consume.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zomia_%28geography%29


But we are already living unsustainably. I don't believe for a second that if governments were disbanded everyone would downgrade their lifestyles to become sustainable. It's one thing preventing inflation to the point of unsustainability, it's quite another to require deflation.


Driving to the corner store isn't the issue. Having a lifestyle that makes you need a car is the issue. Also travelling in general is a big taboo, because environnementalists usually love to travel.

Relying on individual's changes will lead to what we've been doing for 30 years. It leads to the current situation of “penny wise and pound foolish”, saving water when brushing teeth but taking planes.


> Driving to the corner store isn't the issue. Having a lifestyle that makes you need a car is the issue.

This. I pissed off my ex's sister once when she said that since she was moving 40 kilometers outside of the city, she and her husband needs two cars. I asked her why she was moving then, you already have a house with a room for all your kids close enough to work that you can bike. She answered that she loves nature, and just going for a run there whenever she wants. So I said "wouldn't you then say that to go for a run in the woods whenever you want, you'll get two cars"?

It sort of killed the mood. I'm a monster.


I've had these kinds of conversations often with family, and I think it comes down to them believing in the "right" to live anywhere. They have a right to living in a house close to nature. This attitude comes up when some parties in our country want to raise the price of gas or some other way make it more expensive to drive (to save our planet). The reaction is always the same: "how am I supposed to bike or walk to work, it would take 10 hours!". Well yeah, but it's your choice to live so far away from everything, should we destroy our planet because you want to have a yard and live next to a forest?


>Well yeah, but it's your choice to live so far away from everything, should we destroy our planet because you want to have a yard and live next to a forest?

In most cities it's simply unaffordable to live in biking/walking distance to the city centre. And the jobs are there.


That depends where you are in the world. Some cities are denser than others. Some places, people are willing to live in smaller appartments, etc. Adjustments to zoning laws and regulations as well as adjustments to personal expectations can go quite far.

Also, there are trains, subways, etc, that has a very small environmental footprint. Bicycles can also take you a fair distance, especially the electric ones.

If there is a will, there is a way.


This really depends on the city. In this particular city (Sundsvall, Sweden) I would say no and especially if you’re willing to bike to a commuter’s parking lot next to the bus station.

This goes for a lot of cities in Sweden, it comes down a lot to culture. In Copenhagen 40% of the inhabitants bike to work, in Stockholm less than 10%.


But the planes run whether or not we take them. There are bigger forces at play than any individual's choices.


The planes will stop running pretty soon after we stop taking them. Running them isn't cheap!


The airlines won't downsize in response to reduced demand, they will do many things to increase demand. Which will work for a very long time.


> How many people drive their car to the corner store less than a mile away?

I'm sure that in the Netherlands, far fewer people do so than in the US. A reason is that the government has invested a lot in bicycle infrastructure, to the point where for many people, going to the store by bicycle is far more comfortable than doing so by car.

In other words, governments can very much influence this issue.

Though of course, they usually need popular support for that to some extent, which in the end still comes down to consumers, or at least people.


I think people just deal with the culture/infrastructure they are born into. If you live in Los Angeles you buy a car, if you live in Amsterdam you buy a bicycle, if you live in Venice you walk. It's the institutions that set this up that are to blame (and the corporations/politicians/voters that affected them). Problem is that most infrastructure was "set up" during high growth years decades ago and now it's just there and very very hard/slow to change...


> How many couples will have more than one child?

I think this speech should be aimed at nations of Africa, Middle East and India. After all, they have way greater fertility rate than Europe, US and Far East, and they are also in greatest immediate danger from Climate Change.

Why this moot point is being made to HN audience, I fail to understand. We're on track to dwindle our numbers anyway.


The average carbon footprint of an individual is however much larger for rich countries. It is true that n_children is higher for say, Nigeria rather than Germany. However n_children times footprint_of_a_child is much higher in Germany.

Using the very limited numbers from this wikipedia page [0], the carbon footprint of a German individual is about 15 times more than a Nigerian individual. Yet Nigerians "only" have 3.7 more births per woman than the Germans, and that's without taking into account the enormous difference in life expectancy. Taking the two numbers, the carbon footprint of the average German couple fertility behavior is about 4 times bigger than for a Nigerian couple.

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


Yes, but people in Europe and US are among the last to be affected by Climate Change. This means they will only cooperate if you manage to not piss them off. Telling people they should not have a second child is very potent at pissing them off. If you're curious how a pissed off person looks like, see a case of Trump, a person who totally declines to cooperate with you.

This is unless you have an army to extort measures from unwilling people in the Europe and US. I think you really don't have one. So please consider how you can avoid annoying the very people who could help you.

It's more important to not lose points in the eyes of 2/3 of population (people from, or with, families of more than 1 child), than scoring points with 1% Climate Change fanatics who. A person being told their second child is a sin against planet, a Trump voter next season.

There is also a case of not understanding geometric progression. At fertility of 1.5, 80 mln germans are 60 mln in a generation and 45 mln in two generations. At fertility of 3.9, 140 mln nigerians are 270 mln in a generation and 530 mln in two generations. Who would produce more CO2, 45 mln germans or 530 mln nigerians? This without consideration that germans will move to green tec, while nigerians will prop up their consumption standards.


It's ridiculous to blame climate change on couples who have more than one child.


My parents had 9 children. What do you think of that?


Funny that this would be news in 2018 when a year after the paris COP21, at the 2016 COP22 in Morocco the matter was that we were already past the 1.5° goal and we were on course for going over 2° faster than expected which meant a possible increase of 2.5-3°

These estimation were not even taking into account the full picture and things like positive feedback loops.


That global warming is man made and likely to produce catastrophic results, seems well documented now. (possibly 10s or 100s of millions of deaths over the next 200 years, along with a number of species going extinct).

But any claims of cataclysmic outcomes (collapse of most civilizations or even extinction) seems unlikely, as far as I can tell. There are other possible events that are much more likely to produce that kind of results.

Here is my list of fears: 1. Runaway AI (>40% over the next 200 years) 2. Nuclear War (>20% over the next 200 years) 3. Runaway nanotech 4. Runaway biotech 5. Runaway, cataclysmic global warming effects (full ecosystem collapse, ice age triggered, >5 degree warming, etc)


You should read the article The Uninhabitable Earth[1] by David Wallace-Wells on NyMag. It's a good primer on the current information and predictions.

[1]: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-...


Thanks for the link. I've seen most of these points before, I think. My impression is that this view is a fringe view within the academic community. Do you have any references to indicate that this is actually becoming an academic consensus?

To be clear: I'm all for taking the possible actions in order to slow down the global warming. Unfortunately, the best replacement we've had to coal up until now (nuclear) has been unjustly demonized by many of the same people that claim to be most concerned about global warming.

Even the worst case outcome for nuclear is better than the best case outcome for coal...


> Unfortunately, the best replacement we've had to coal up until now (nuclear) has been unjustly demonized by many of the same people that claim to be most concerned about global warming.

You cannot fix the issue with a change of paradigm, switching from fossil fuels to nuclear will not fix climate change simply because if we switched all plant to nuclear overnight we would run out of fuel in a matter of decades.

The only solution is obvious and it is a decrease of energy use to sustainable levels. Do not consume more than what we can sustainably produce is the only possible way.

This means a drastic reduction of population which has only been possible due to a prolonged lifestyle of overconsumption and it will happen whether we want it or not.


If we can postpone the problem by decades, I would consider that a huge win. Maybe we could control fusion by then. Also, nuclear plays fairly well with renewable energy sources, many of which are also getting cheaper (especially solar).

If we take global warming serously, I see absolutely no reason that we should continue to burn coal, except that it is a bit cheaper than nuclear given the current safety regulations for nuclear.

Let's agree to ban coal, and then we can discuss to what extent we should add nuclear energy capacity to replace at least some of it.

As for reducing the population, I'm curious about how exactly you think we could achieve that?


this is my feeling to.

the 10s or 100s of millions of people that die will mostly be from A) children not being born that otherwise would have been B) indirect deaths - a few years off life expectancy


I'm less optimistic than this. The 10s or 100s I was referring to would be due to events like famines, wars directly caused by climate change, hurricanes, etc.

Still, even 200million over 200 years is not a cataclysm. In fact, the reduction we've seen in global hunger over the past generation is a greater effect than that (in the opposite direction).

Which is NOT to say that 200 million deaths is not a problem! It just needs to be seen in perspective.


> A promise by rich nations to provide developing nations with $100 billion a year to tackle climate change is only one part of the huge transformation needed, she added.

This sounds like a joke when the military budgets are in the trillions. But on the other hand when poor countries become inhabitable and people start moving military will be needed to push them back .


You mean uninhabitable?

Yeah, my biggest worry about climate change isn't that we're going to cook the planet. It's that we're going to burn it way before that, as migration pressures start causing wars.


Zaro might be a native romance-language speaker.

abitare/habitar/habiter is "inhabit" in english, while inabitabile/inhabitable/inhabitable is "uninhabitable", the "in-" being privative (compare: in-sufficient, in-secure etc).

English played us bad :)


Don't forget inflammable!


What a country!


Yes, I am not an native speaker, but I know the difference very well.

Typing from the phone very late and feeling sleepy causes your brain to perceive things in a different way though :)


Yes. I meant uninhabitable of course.


Fun fact: GHG emissions by the military were explicitly excluded under the Kyoto agreement. It's like they don't exist, since their cause is so noble.


Unless you're happy to have your sons and daughters kill people fleeing their uninhabitable countries, military solutions won't help.


Actively kill? Probably not, or at least not widespread. Passively watch them die (while denying life-saving care)? That is already reality, and in no way hypothetical.

It's already happening in Europe [1] and the Sahara Desert [2]. This situation is already in large parts due to climate change, as the entire Syrian war, for example, can be seen as being caused by climate change [3], and the patterns of migration in Africa are driven by desertification, among other things.

In all of these cases, a large military can secure a border, creating a fortress few, if any refugees can enter. And climate change is going to be the main driver of refugee migration.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/03/mediterranean-...

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/walk-die-algeria-aban...

[3] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/03/150302-syri...


There is a case of Israeli-Egyptian border.

Israeli don't have to actively kill Egyptians because they, for almost all purposes, can't enter.

Nothing much wrong in having my daughter participate in some wall building.


In all current cases there aren't very many people trying to cross the border at once. If Egypt became uninhabitable there'd be 100 million people trying to leave. If it was even just 5% of that trying to get in to Israel then a wall or an army isn't going to stop them unless that army is willing to actively murder innocent people. I don't think any army on Earth would be willing to do that. Consequently a military solution isn't ever going to work.


You're talking about Egypt suddently becoming uninhabitable. That's not the case here. The case is that first it will be capable of hosting 100 mln people, then shrink to 90, then to 80, etc... Each transition will probably take five years. Of course there's a possibility of disasters there a wave of "sea people" may hit your wall.


Unfortunately it seems increasingly inevitable. You only have to look at what my country is happy to put faceless brown asylum seekers through rather than take a (comparatively minuscule) compromise in their living conditions to recognise that, when it comes to it, probably this results in war or genocide. When it comes down to it, faced with hundreds of thousands or millions of people coming to Australia in boats, threatening an already shaky lifestyle, the most likely outcome I can see is that we kill them, as sick as that makes me feel.


And even the agreed upon measures were criticized as hardly enough to affect the change we really need.

Scientists criticized the governments for making a show out of the agreements despite them being insufficient, and here they’re not even meeting those goals.


Imagine the force required to make governments do their share to prevent >2 degree shift.

There is a cost to compliance. There is a point where the damage is so incalcuable that you are compelled to force compliance on all other governments.


Nuclear winter is a very effective way to reduce global temperature, despite the initial CO2 spike. Also, the damage is quite calculable.


I'm pretty sure a nuclear winter does not reduce global temperature other than the short term (~10 years). IIRC the hopi prophecies have one such outcome where all humans die crawling in the dark with no food due to no agriculture possible without photosynthesis.


The National Geographic film Before the Flood [0] did a reasonably good job of covering this topic. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a watch.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Before_the_Flood_(film)


DW also has a good documentary exploring how past societies collapsed due to climate changes, and how only Japan was able to change course when they realized they had broken their environment.

https://youtu.be/z2r9PxN3Hwg


I just can't watch it, too depressing. Especially with the USA actively steering the opposite direction, I have little hope.


If the only way out is to kill everyone in the USA, this is something that may be attempted at some point. Putin and his new set of weapons could probably razes every major US cities and put an end to the US nonsense.

One way or the other, most humans are gonna die before the end of the century and a dramatic reduction of population will happen. The US way of living will also come to an end, it is simply a matter of doing it voluntarily and aim to avoid the worst or having it forced on them by powers over which they have no say and feel the burn.


The US has a high footprint per capita, but its population is relatively small.

Frankly I think the more concerning nations would be China and India. India still has something like 30% of its population, which roughly equates the entirety of the US, living without electricity. India's top priority is development and bringing their people out of poverty, and they have abundant coal to do it cheaply.

You can beat up the US all you want, but the multiplier is important and a place like India can easily move the global needle via the slightest improvements to their average quality of life.

I'm hopeful that China uses its position of control over how everything is being made and resulting prosperity to pivot from fossil fuels.

Russia's future in the warmer planet is especially interesting. Imagine what impact Siberia becoming arable land would have on their place in the world.


> Imagine what impact Siberia becoming arable land would have on their place in the world.

And after the US Midwest is a desert.


> If the only way out is to kill everyone in the USA, this is something that may be attempted at some point.

Hahaha. Yeah, come try it asshole. At least you won't have to worry about the climate anymore.


Its most likely we are heading for 4 degree warming, I have very little faith that this type of collective action problem will be solved in time.

Best way to protect yourself is to invest in real estate up north and in inland parts of the world.

[

The time horizon is too long though, I wish 4 degree warming happened much quicker so that I can reap the rewards of my investment earlier. /s.

]


Climate is not consistent across the north. Real estate is particularly tricky because it is so reliant on local conditions, which are completely unpredictable at this point. Maybe refugees drive up demand for real estate in the south, maybe invasive beetles destroy all the maple trees, maybe the government drains the great lakes to irrigate Iowa. It's better to make solid (eco-conscious) 10-20 year investments than to try to guess what will be valuable in 50-100 imo


You joke, but I would guess Russia will ultimately be the winner here.


In the 1960s, the idea of deliberately warming Canada's arctic -- in order to make more farmland available for cultivation(!) -- was a serious policy proposal.


Regions which are habitated less aside Far East are either swamps where you can't build a house or with permafrost. You are very welcome here.


Russia and China. And Canada, but the US will presumably annex it.


Which regions do you think would still be liveable in a 4 degree world?


Everywhere in the world, at least 5 meters above see level that have maximum temperatures below 40 degrees celsius will be livable, as long as economic output is sufficient to purchase food (if it cannot be grown locally any more).

Just like Dubai is livable today.


Yes but which regions will still have maximum temperatures below 40 degrees Celsius at that point, at least on most days of the year?

A 4 degree change worldwide is easily a 10 degree change over continents, and that's just the average! From what I understand, that can easily mean a 20 or 30 degree change in max temperatures, or does it?

I'm saying Central Europe 60 degrees Celsius on a normal summer day.

Please tell me I'm wrong, but that's the understanding I've gained so far


60 degrees C is almost impossible in non-desert areas (due to evaporation of moisture). The practical limit, today, in tropical areas is about 45 degrees, and at that point, it's getting deadly.

Which also answers the first question. Future temperatures of up to 45 degrees will be survivable. Exactly where that will be, is complicated, but anywhere north of the alps in Europe should be too far north, as should the northerns states in the US.

That does not mean that every place further south will be unlivable, only that it the risk is higher. Spain, Italy, Texas and California could start looking like Sahara, or it could be more similar to Egypt or Thailand, depending on how rainfall patterns change.

In any case, if we look 50 years into the future, who knows what kind of technologies we would be able to leverage to mitigate these problems?


> In any case, if we look 50 years into the future, who knows what kind of technologies we would be able to leverage to mitigate these problems?

Scientists and technologists that have been warning us that no technological solution will be able to address the climate change consequences, and they've been telling us for several decades which makes it weird that people still do not know about this.

Well there is one potential biotech solution which is engineering a fatal panpidemy that would wipe out almost all humans from the surface of earth as was presented in Texas a few years ago but IIRC the conclusion was that for now this seems to be an unreachable goal as no agents combines all required characteristics for such a pandemy to happen.


> Scientists and technologists that have been warning us that no technological solution will be able to address the climate change consequences, and they've been telling us for several decades which makes it weird that people still do not know about this.

Most scientists that I know would not make absolute statements like this. What the WOULD say, is that we should not rely on this happening.

When Thomas Malthus made his predictions 200 years ago, he was right about his core prediction (population increase), but underestimated technological growth.

The truth is that we have almost no clue about what technological revolutions will happen over the next 50-200 years, if any, and how they will impact us.


A global 4° celsius increase would mean at least a 7-8° increase on continental land which means the end of agriculture on land. This kind of defeats your wishful thinking.

This is not some random idea but something out of the GIEC documents and talks.


That is a good point, primarily because it would make staying outdoors dangerous in a number of additional places.

For farming, I'm not sure it's that clear. Many of these studies only consider the negative impacts. Obviously, many places would be left arid. But 7-8 temperature increase, along with increased rainfall (evaporated water has to come down somewhere), will massively increase the farming potential in places like Siberia, inland China and Canada. Increased rainfall can also potentially lead to absurd-sounding things such as rice farms in present-day Sahara.

Finally, as you alluded to, aquatic farming has a huge potential.

We are beyond the point where food production has to be local. As long as there is enough food globally, economically prosperous areas can buy the food they need.

Also, keep in mind that when talking about a 4 degree increase, it is assumed to happen over several centuries. At the present rate of technologial development, it is impossible to say what impact it would have, as food production 200 years in the future is likely to be as different from today as it was 200 years in the past.

Still, I absolutely think that at 4 degrees (at least if it happens within 200 years), the results would be a major catastrophy.

Provided that we haven't been already wiped out (or domesticated) by runaway AI's or nuclear war, of course. (Both of which concern me more over the next 200 years)


How likely do you consider a 6 degree world or higher?


The comments here are so far extremely biased towards panic. It’s worth considering that perhaps the world’s governments aren’t panicking because it’s not warranted.

Climate change, while generally “accepted,” has a pretty amorphous definition and most current research agrees that there has been a pause since 1995 or so. Given that we are in a 20 year “pause,” it’s not entirely unreasonable - though clearly heretical - to posit that the alarm is largely unwarranted.

Year after year we see climate predictions fail to come to pass. Good science is based on hypotheses leading to testable predictions, and global warming predictions have a really poor track record of accuracy.

It might be time for the more scientifically minded among us to start increasing our criticism of climate alarmism.




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