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.
- 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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Are future generations going to pay same price we would today? Or are they going to get a discount due to more advanced technology?
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.
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.
Widespread ecosystem collapse is a plausible risk.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
Ultimately the greatest "burden" on environmental pressure is people having more children. Perhaps children should be taxed specific to their effectual "impact".
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.
So we'd keep the "decentralized resource allocation" part of capitalism, but with hopefully better sustainability...
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.
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 see what you did there.
→ 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.
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.
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.
This removes anxiety about fulfilling your purpose.
Nihilism can be a source of great comfort when practised by optimist. :)
Optimism helps more with that. Just be sure that they'll figure something out eventually.
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.
> Later calculations showed they were right — a Venus-type runaway on our planet is scarcely possible, even if we burn all available fossil fuels.
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.
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.
The average case looks like that. The worst case looks like the Permian-Triassic extinction.
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.  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.
 - http://www.dutchdocklands.com/Development/United-States
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.
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.
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" 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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...
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.
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.
FWIW I think this is a tragedy, but also a likely reality.
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'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).
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.
> 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."
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If the price for energy from renewables becomes cheaper than the price of energy from these wells, they won't be drilled.
In the long term technological breakthroughs in renewable technology will hopefully bring the cost down.
There is no cheap energy production once you factor in costs that are not money.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And hey, I don't mean to diss Europe. It's just too little, too late. Without the US and China, we're screwed.
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.
Bottom line, the Mauna Loa CO2 record tells us that not much has changed since 2000. Not even over the past five years. Except for a jump in 2016, anyway. And OK, maybe a hint of a slowdown in the past year.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
0.12°C-0.19°C Depending on your source
This will result in a likely increase in global mean temperature of about 1°C above the present value by 2025
0.31°C to 0.49°C by 2017, depending on your source.
by 2020, between 75 and 250 million of people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change
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)
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.
IPCC later outright recanted this prediction saying it was not peer reviewed https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jan/20/ipcc-him...
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
Globally, the total acreage burned by fires each year declined by 24 percent between 1998 and 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In most cities it's simply unaffordable to live in biking/walking distance to the city centre. And the jobs are there.
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 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%.
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 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.
Using the very limited numbers from this wikipedia page , 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.
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.
These estimation were not even taking into account the full picture and things like positive feedback loops.
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)
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...
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 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?
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
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.
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 .
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.
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 :)
Typing from the phone very late and feeling sleepy causes your brain to perceive things in a different way though :)
It's already happening in Europe  and the Sahara Desert . 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 , 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And after the US Midwest is a desert.
Hahaha. Yeah, come try it asshole. At least you won't have to worry about the climate anymore.
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.
Just like Dubai is livable today.
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
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?
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.
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.
This is not some random idea but something out of the GIEC documents and talks.
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)
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.