This insect apocalypse is like you suddenly notice you are missing an arm and a leg and have no idea what happened to them.
Any professionals in um... ecological metrics here? To an outsider it seems there are like three people on the planet who are concerned about the quantifiable properties of our biosphere and only one of them got part time funding.
On a more positive note, a few folks I know are in the early stages of an ambitious attempt to regenerate a bioregion: https://medium.com/@joe_brewer/we-are-regenerating-an-entire.... The hope is that this kind of work—developing models of ecosystems rooted in complexity science that expose key leverage points—can be refined through experimentation in Costa Rica and extended to increasingly dissimilar bioregions.
But you're right, just like the observation below, we (this amount of people) also offload our suffering onto the environment and even onto some of those people living in poverty.
And it’s increasingly apparent they have been able to do so by essentially pushing the costs of their actions to future generations.
>5 billion people now have a mobile phone connection, according to GSMA data.
That alone should be an indication people are living quite different now than just 10 years ago.
I guess the problem is that similar to indicators of climate change there would likely be massive methodological argument, some of it legitimate, some of it mendacious, bogging the thing down so much as to destroy its usefulness.
We might destroy the ecosystem and ourselves because we reach the first level of the kardashev scale.
It's simply human hubris to think we are an advanced civilization and our pride may be our downfall.
I wouldn't call a civilization "advanced" if 3 generations ago it had a vague idea about electricity and flush toilets.
Little did I know that's already essentially happened here according to this article, and the powers that be neither seem to be aware nor care.
And because I was curious: Giraffes are now on the endangered species list as of about two months ago . Go figure. When do we do something?
When it significantly impacts the daily lives of a majority of people, and not a second earlier.
Educated people around the world already want to do something. Uneducated people outside America already want to do something (because their governments are on board.) It is uneducated Americans -- and their president -- that is going to do us all in.
This means the survival of the planet depends on our ability to communicate with and convince uneducated Americans. That's hard. Al Gore tried long ago with his movie.
Carbon emissions are going up globally, carbon emissions went up in the USA, slightly different political environments won't change the reality that the vast majority of people, societies, and companies have done far less than they need to already. We can't fool ourselves into thinking a democratic presidential win in 2020 will stop this crisis, it simply won't be enough by any rational view of the emissions already out and coming out every day. Even the favorite policy of democrats/progressives, the carbon tax, got voted down in multiple progressive-state reforanda.
In summary, it feels good to point the finger of blame at the current political regime, but the reality is very little is being done anywhere except for pockets of hope like Norway, California, Iceland, Hawaii, which are NOT enough to balance out historical emissions and rising emissions in China, India, etc.
But the resistance to doing something about it is not coming from educated people, at least in the US.
Regarding India and China, their governments are on board and they are making progress:
Most uneducated people outside America live worse lives than uneducated people in America, so they have much more important and immediate things to care about than global warming.
Honduras is being impacted. Our reaction in the USA is to block the refugees fleeing famine and drought from reaching us and “invading”. Similarly with Europe and African refugees.
People don’t care.
Tigers disappeared because of humans. Not the natural ebb and flow of the planets rhythms. Less humans = less impact.
>With an estimated 5,000 tigers, the U.S. captive tiger population exceeds the approximately 3,200 tigers in the wild.
While not just Texas that is still insane.
"The most comprehensive study of deaths due to tiger attacks estimates that at least 373,000 people died due to tiger attacks between 1800 and 2009, the majority of these attacks occurring in South and Southeast Asia. Over the last five centuries, an estimated 1 million people have been eaten by tigers."
The concept of a tiger is an important part of human culture, and it would be a pity if nobody could see a real one, but they breed in captivity, so people can see them in zoos. It's easy to romanticize the idea of "wild tigers" when they live far from you, and you're at no risk of one eating you or your livestock. Humans killed most wild tigers for good reason.
To all the downvoters, what is the maximum number of humans eaten by tigers per year you'd be willing to accept in exchange for allowing them to roam free?
Don't try to build such a general argument on such marginal premises. Humans kill far more humans that Tigers ever have. Tigers are simply not a serious threat to us.
All of them.
Human beings are not supposed to be apex predators but we have taken over that role without embracing the intricacies of the responsibilities involved with it.
Certainly there are bad zoos, and I support legislation to enforce high standards of animal welfare, but the only animal I am aware of that is absolutely unsuited to captivity is the killer whale (which IMO might be smart enough to have some philosophical understanding of abstract freedom).
Aim We characterized changes in reporting rates and abundances of bird species over a period of severe rainfall deficiency and increasing average temperatures. We also measured flowering in eucalypts, which support large numbers of nectarivores characteristic of the region.
Location A 30,000‐km2 region of northern Victoria, Australia, consisting of limited amounts of remnant native woodlands embedded in largely agricultural landscapes.
Methods There were three sets of monitoring studies, pitched at regional (survey programmes in 1995–97, 2004–05 and 2006–08), landscape (2002–03 and 2006–07) and site (1997–2008 continuously) scales. Bird survey techniques used a standard 2‐ha, 20‐min count method. We used Bayesian analyses of reporting rates to document statistically changes in the avifauna through time at each spatial scale.
Results Bird populations in the largest remnants of native vegetation (up to 40,000 ha), some of which have been declared as national parks in the past decade, experienced similar declines to those in heavily cleared landscapes. All categories of birds (guilds based on foraging substrate, diet, nest site; relative mobility; geographical distributions) were affected similarly. We detected virtually no bird breeding in the latest survey periods. Eucalypt flowering has declined significantly over the past 12 years of drought.
Main conclusions Declines in the largest woodland remnants commensurate with those in cleared landscapes suggest that reserve systems may not be relied upon to sustain species under climate change. We attribute population declines to low breeding success due to reduced food. Resilience of bird populations in this woodland system might be increased by active management to enhance habitat quality in existing vegetation and restoration of woodland in the more fertile parts of landscapes.
When I hear the words "economic growth", and then weigh it against the destruction of this magnitude, I often want to vomit.
And how do I square the fact that I work on flipping bits in computers somewhere that represent some fiction of our collective imagination, all the while burning more energy and fuel and contributing to the massive side show that distracts us from our self-destruction? Not well.
I think you can either do or not do things without the negativity. I found that the negativity made me think emotionally and not rationally or productively, and also sometimes came off in my conversations with people which was also not helpful-because I was clearly very emotional about the issue.
My thought process is whatever happens, happens. I can't do much to prevent whatever systemic collapse that might happen or not happen. But whatever I can do, I will. When I first learned about this, I thought it meant the future that I took for granted could be nonexistent - the dying happily carefree of systemic collapse part after having a family and growing old. It made me bitter and resentful. What's the point of doing anything if the world's going to go to shit by 2030? I decided to be more optimistic or maybe stoic. Make sure I can do what I can or all I can and not let some potential apocalyptic future darken my life. Sorry if this is a trash comment.
I am somewhere along this path, trying to find a mindset to cope. Yet I have the feeling that even so, widespread, happiness all but ensures the collapse, as the emergent effect of everyone being happy and living their best life, no matter what they think as they do it, is just as bad. I am sorry about this, sorry to be a bearer of bad news, sorry to bring this darkness out in the world, but honestly there is no way out of this box for humanity.
At the same time, I have absolutely no doubts what is to come. If this is the end of humanity then so be it. It would be irrational to feel bad because I can't do much to stop a disaster like that. I accepted last year that I will die, everyone I love will die, and even potentially all of humanity will die perhaps in my lifetime, and I have made my peace with it.
I have spent a significant amount of time reading all the ways the dominoes will fall and how people will die. People are dying right now.
Happiness comes from within, not from outside. What happens outside should not affect what you feel inside. That's the mindset I learned from stoicism and reading Victor Frankl. "The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance."
If you are too emotional and depressed, you will be unproductive/not be able to do much to help, and do you also want to spend the little time you have like that? I choose to enjoy the little life I have with the people I love but not in ignorance. I will do everything I can but I will not let it darken my life and my disposition. I hope that makes sense.
Would we be putting a little less pressure on the environment without people like Edward Bernays, possibly. However, I think our collective consciousness can put itself a little at ease. As we enter the 6 mass extinction event, it's a natural cycle and if it wasn't us, some other species would dominate the planet.
It's never a bad time to listen to George Carlin's "saving the planet"
If the oceans die through acidification and pollution, and all of the insects die we will die as well.
I wish I could believe this, but I don't. The cycle will repeat as the collapse passes out of living memory. We will have lost civilization by then, the only records that remain will be the trash heaps that we leave behind.
I think you may have misread the intent of my comment.
We're going away.
I spent one morning with a group which plants and looks after trees in a reserve near my place. We were putting protections around young saplings so cows wouldn't eat them. It took my team of three the whole morning to put protections around a single sapling.
The whole thing made me sad. There is no way we are going to counteract our consumption with single individual actions like that. So I am looking for ways to be more effective.
I don't think that will do much so I have a bigger dream of eliminating menstrual poverty. I read a book that said if we could educate more women, it could have a significant impact on climate change, and I think menstrual poverty is an easy way to access and help educate the women that probably need it the most. So I am working on creating free resources to help eliminate menstrual poverty in the USA to start with reusable products- and also building a company that sells reusable products but whose mission is to eliminate menstrual poverty. It's not much but it makes me feel better.
Drawdown is the book I read that lists 100 potential solutions to climate change to reverse whatever is happening now, if it's possible. Maybe you can check out the website and see if any of the solutions look interesting to you, and see if there's any way you could help people with them. Volunteering should make you feel happy like you're making a difference. Maybe you will feel a lot better when you can donate your skills to a cause that could move the needle. I am sure you have more skills than planting trees that any organization needs and could appreciate.
I also sit on a pile of money, not sure what to do with it. Index stocks contain fossil companies which I don't want to support. Maybe I'll throw some at those silicate weathering pilot projects.
You can drastically reduce related emissions by just giving up beef and replacing it witch chicken. IIRC it's something like 1/5 or 1/6th the amount of greenhouse gas emissions pound for pound of meat.
My blog post: http://www.richardjones.org/kids-are-good-for-the-environmen...
How does your side win if it promotes a strategy of not even showing up to the game?
It's essentially too late for your or my hypothetical descendants to have any effect on "the greater good". The IPCC says either we cut _worldwide_ CO2 emissions by 50% in the next 11 years, or it's game over for +1.5C scenarios: all coral reefs die, along with most of the fish, crop yields down 40% in some places, mass migration and resource wars are likely.
So basically I think it's too late for any "greater good" to come from my having kids, and I believe it's immoral to bring a life into a doomed world just to suffer.
 - https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/rcp-85-t...
 - https://hbr.org/2018/12/the-story-of-sustainability-in-2018-...
 - https://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=8433
Though I agree. It's odd - I've known people who seemed offended by Idiocracy, but couldn't really come up with any flaws in its basic premise (in short, well-educated highly-productive people (for traditional values of productive which is its own debate) tend to have fewer kids, and people are usually like their parents, so over time we'll have fewer people like that).
The movie "Idiocracy" addresses this very issue. It's a comedy, and I really enjoyed it.
I think you meant prophecy.
You can think of it this way:
- Presumably, some mammals would have been born that did not enjoy sex. Those would not procreate and their gene would die out.
- Other mammals would enjoy sex. They would procreate, and their genes would spread.
It's the sex and enjoyment thereof that is the driving force behind procreation. When you hear people saying "the ultimate drive is to spread one's genes," that's just a hand-wavy explanation used for simplification (which, unfortunately, many people have come to interpret too literally - as is often the case when simplification is involved).
It's the same type of simplification as when a nature documentary says "Nature found a way to do X". As if nature is some conscious entity with a will that is working towards achieving some goal.
Suppose we take two human children - a boy and a girl. We separate them from their parents at age 1 and we isolate them from society. A professional caretaker visits them a few times a day, giving them food and helping them with their necessities. They are taught to communicate in one manner or another, perhaps given access to some form of entertainment.
Now, I'm going to be brutal - for science: the hypothetical boy has been sterilized. He doesn't know it, of course.
At no point do the children learn how humans are born. Nothing in their surroundings is an indication, and the caretaker never tells them.
Also, they never learn that it is "normal" for regular people to have children of their own.
As far as the kids are concerned, no other humans except them and the caretaker exist.
Do you think that:
1) Those children will experience an innate need to have children of their own?
2) What activities will the children undertake to satisfy that need?
- Additionally, consider that you could perhaps fool a duckling to imprint upon someone/something else as his/her mother. This one example is not useful if one were to attempt to disprove that this imprinting behaviour evolved to help the ducklings stay with their mother in a vulnerable period.
To me, this appears clear. However, I am not sure if I've articulated it in a way where you are able to also see where I am going with this.
And then who pays for your social security checks, pensions and other debt that was raised to fight wars?
What we can do other than despair and contemplate genocide is transition to a carbon neutral economy. It really only requires political will.
As for political will, it is the same: composed of individual wills. Bill McKibben points out that a major impediment to a carbon-neutral future is that fossil fuel reserves are capital; the powerful people that own them need us to remain dependent on fossil fuels so their capital continues to have value. These people mobilize huge resources to support their goals; in the last generation trillions of dollars, representing engineering, resources and manufacturing, that should have gone to developing a carbon neutral economy was squandered in useless wars to secure access to fossil fuel resources in the Middle East.
At the same time these forces are extremely vulnerable to collective action in the form of an organized populace. Creating political will means: educate yourself and your neighbors and discover ways (protest, lecture, lobby) to stymie their agenda and advance your own.
Tons of people have been trying this for decades now, and all we have to show for it is Trump and climate denialism. Educating people doesn't seem to actually work in practice.
The resource consumption per capita of a person in the U.S. far exceeds the resource consumption of a person in Afghanistan. One American is more damaging to the world wide environment than a family in Afghanistan. Thus your second statement is not relevant. It is true that Americans have fewer children than people in poor countries. But our overconsumption more than makes up for this deficit.
It really only requires political will.
Are you an American? Because this statement sounds like someone who is not aware of the political reality in the United States.
I am an American, and I remain optimistic that we can fix our politics. In fact I'd say that fixing our politics is exactly the same as manifesting political will. For a generation since the labor movement dwindled there have not been any significant vehicles of popular will at work in American politics. It's past time to change that. To suggest we can't is simply despair - it will be true as long as we believe it, and no further.
I think you don't understand the American political system. At present there are only two parties in terms of realistically getting elected. There is no such thing as a ruling party in the sense of European parliaments. Members of a party are free to vote as they please. Hence Lieberman famously derailing aspects of Obamacare. There is also the fact that both parties in the U.S. have shifted very much to the right the last 40 years. The reality in the U.S. is that even with our so called left leaning party in power in the legislative branch and executive branch no serious environmental accords were negotiated and passed.
1. If everyone has 1/2 surviving child then in 150 years, our population will become stable.
2. It’s not transferable because we still need species diversity
3. People will be incentivized with ubi and all their needs taken care of if they agree to #1.
4.stop animal based foods.
5. Return half planet back to nature to reforest and rewind.
6.reverse acidification of oceans.
7. Find ways to restore polar ice caps and bring down planet temperature
8. Reduce fossil fuel dependence. Go nuclear.
9. Protect water.
Nature will rewild. We just need to stop being so successful with procreation because our highest achievement will result in our extinction.
[EDIT] Links help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-replacement_fertility
Again, the biggest hurdle to that is politics. There are deep geo political ramifications on any thing that causes change in economic equations at such massive levels.
Mostly its also the will of the people. The world is indeed a giant stack ranking system, and people do indeed believe in ruining anything it takes to score the most points. Most people do believe in things like their civilization, nationalism and racial supremacy.
If you think of it as a whole, space, asteroids and what humans could do if they work together. The very concept of economy feels like something that limits human progress.
I’m pretty sure the current configuration is just a temporary blind spot. Market economy as an optimization algorithm is pretty neat for a limited set of problems. As a means to handle social justice, collective planning, and a bunch of other problems perhaps not so much. While finding better models for that, we shouldn’t throw out the bayby with the bath water.
My environmental fingerprint is probably <5% of average first-world countries people, I don't consume much, food mostly obviously, and local one, mostly vegs/fruits according to the season. no car, no pets, not a smoker, working remotely, avoiding trips as much as possible.
I try to save wild life as much as possible, on every possible occasion, even if it's just moving a dead one off the road, in a better place.
At a single person level, these actions looks insignificant, but if everyone does it, it won't be since the major source of pollution is residential pollution, i.e. people, and the other sources of pollution (industry, large-scale transports...) are also driven by consumption. So if people stop over-consuming, this saves dramatically our planet, and our sibling animals. Of course governments need to foster this change
 "Food transportation issues and reducing
carbon footprint", Wayne Wakeland , Susan Cholette , and Kumar Venkat. http://www.cleanmetrics.com/pages/Ch9_0923.pdf
Some of them are doing something about it; this morning I heard the Dutch government is proposing a new emissions tax for industry: 45 euros per ton in 2021, raising by 2% annually to 80 euros per ton in 2050. Of course, the problem is that at the same time the government is subsidizing these very industries.
But that's just a tiny country that's already doing very well in that regard; right next to us is Germany and the UK with their heavy industries. And the whole emissions of Europe is negligible compared to the US and China.
Change won't come from individuals; it comes from politics. If you really care about the environment, you'll have much more influence if you become a politician instead of (or in addition to) a vegan.
You forgot to mention the #1 (by far) contributor that is 20 to 50 times more significant than everything else you mentioned.
> We recommend four widely applicable high-impact (i.e. low emissions) actions with the potential to contribute to systemic change and substantially reduce annual personal emissions: having one fewer child (an average for developed countries of 58.6 tonnes CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) emission reductions per year), living car-free (2.4 tCO2e saved per year), avoiding airplane travel (1.6 tCO2e saved per roundtrip transatlantic flight) and eating a plant-based diet (0.8 tCO2e saved per year).
It's also equivalent to saying: Kill yourself because you cause 58.6t CO2 (unless children cause more CO2 than adults which would be absurd because children don't take a lot of emission-relevant decisions)
Obviously if we eliminate humanity we also eliminate humanity's impact on the world. You can also get rid of all bugs in your code by deleting the code. That is the exact definition of throwing the baby out with the bathwater though. We're looking for ways to eliminate humanity's impact without eliminating humanity.
We certainly can work towards reducing our population. Starting with 1/2 surviving child per person. It is important that it can’t be bought or sold in order to maintain diversity of human genetic code.
We could also likely become part AI or part synthetic instead of organic to deal with a different planet. But I am treading sci fi here.
P.S. nice handle!!
"One fewer child"
So instead of 3, have 2. If you were so inclined to have a vasectomy or tubal ligation after a 3rd child, it would help the overall situation.
It's about lowering the growth rate in human population. Similarly, your analogy to code is incorrect. It's about eliminating new bugs but reducing the number of commits.
It's easy to construct a value system where my own life and my future child's life are both worth more than 58 t CO2.
Then of course we are making species go extinct 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate because we are contaminating ecosystems, clear-cutting ecosystems and causing ecosystems to collapse by directly influencing climate making it impossible for parts of those ecosystems to survive.
Life is already orders of magnitude 'tougher than the past'.
The planet has never been through warming as rapid as what we are going through in known geological (not human) history. There was a paper hosted and copublished by NASA to that effect in the last month. It's literally unknown how much life can survive the velocity of the change that is in progress.
What "history books" should I read about climate science, too?
The degree of climate change is not just "worse". It's without precedent in geologic history in velocity of change. Our improved ability to fend for ourselves is many orders of magnitude less that the degree of change that is happening.
You can read your history books and multiple it by 100 or 1000.
Given that, it would be pretty stupid to preemptively quit.
I consider it a failure of the study if it says "don't have kids" if (and only if) its original aim was to show how that can be done without drastic measures (such as "kill all humans", "don't have kids", ...).
It's like suggesting to not have kids in order to fight cancer. Yes, absolute cancer occurrences will decrease if you don't have kids, yet we have not in any way addressed the underlying problem.
EDIT: Previously I said "absolute cancer rates" where I should have said absolute cancer occurrences
Exactly, and not having kids doesn't lower CO2 rates per capita, it just reduces absolute CO2 emissions.
Hence the equivalence that the article's statistics implicitly suggest killing humans reduces CO2 emissions and my claim that this type of info doesn't help at all.
We could do it the hard way. When ocean levels rise the coastal house market will collapse. Water will become scarce as aquifers get spoiled by salt. And climate patterns are certainly changing. Places that used to get an abundance of rain are already facing a drought. But some douchebag in a bro-dozer is certainly sticking it to the rich.
I never said that. I said implementing extreme solutions like a 95% cut to everyone's carbon footprint are a terrible idea.
Also we are most likely talking about like a 0.5-2 ft rise maybe over the next 30 years. That is not exactly a "day after tomorrow" panic situation. The coastal real estate economy can deflate over 30 years.
Over what time period though? Projections are all over the place, and it is basically impossible to predict where our technology will be 20 years from now. Maybe moderate interdiction now on our part will stave off the worst of it until we discover technologies that will get us out of this jam.
I'm confident we will make some gains in things like lower power consumption and better efficiency with renewables, but we're coming up against some hard physical limits; plus we are finding more toys all the time that demand more energy.
The best chance of finding technological solutions is to pour money into researching clean technologies, which is not something I would be against, but it doesn't guarantee anything.
Hoping for a technological solution in the future is a bit like spending all your money and taking out loans you are unable to pay in the uncertain hope of a windfall in the future.
It would be much better if via policy we encourage repairs, and levy a cost on packaging of any kind.
Then the market will sort itself out and there will be work in form of a robust secondary market.
*We can probably eke out some more economic growth while cutting resource consumption, but sooner or later continued growth and finite resources become an impossibility. If nothing else, we'll eventually generate too much waste heat from energy production.
*I am not personally endorsing genocide.
Well at least the mass consumption of virtual goods (software) seems to produce less waste than the mass consumption of physical goods. Your mission is to write software that's so good that people do not need to upgrade their hardware.
Then there is the enormous energy demand of IT systems, which in turn requires more fuel to drive them.
The industry itself is not helping either. Not just is writing resource efficient software often not a priority, it's sometimes even seen as an anti-pattern (due to a misunderstanding of "premature optimization"). In the latest iteration, we have technologies like blockchains that make wasting energy into a feature.
> Your mission is to write software that's so good that people do not need to upgrade their hardware.
Meanwhile, the mission of your superiors is to make sure people upgrade their hardware as often as possible so the revenue keeps coming in.
Before there is a large-scale change of that culture, I don't think software development will be innocent in this.
I agree. When I look at other industries I see efforts to reduce energy consumption. Most programmers, in contrast, couldn't care less. The most popular languages are the least energy efficient. But they make life easier for developers, or as devs love to say 'more productive'. Who cares if you need to add more and more server boxes to your setup, after all 'hardware is cheap' - the default response of countless programmers everywhere. This industry is absolutely rife with hypocrisy.
If everything were written in assembly we simply wouldn't have the human resources to implement 500 ad trackers on a web browser. Not to mention that the web browser would be far more rudimentary in the first place.
What does it mean?
No-one is advocating that. There are dozens of fast, high-level programming languages to choose from.
Today, dynamic programming languages are the most popular - and often (not always) the least performant and least power efficient.
What does energy efficient mean? Here's one perspective explored in a paper:
Energy Efficiency across Programming Languages: How does energy, time, and memory relate?
Here's the related Hacker News discussion:
Dynamic languages benefit too from attention to energy-efficiency and speed in their evolution.
When PHP 7 was released, Rasmurf Lerdorf, the creator of PHP, said the performance improvements meant fewer servers, smaller memory use and reduced CPU activity - all of which equalled less power or electricity consumed.
When you consider the millions of servers in use, that additional language efficiency adds up to a substantial saving in electricity use. You can watch a segment from his presentation where he talks about this here - and the calculations he made of potential CO2 savings:
Google spends a lot of effort optimizing their software because they bear the energy cost of running it in their own data centers.
Websites do not bear the energy cost of running their code on enduser devices.
The lack of incentives turns energy waste into an externalty which means it is not factored into development.
And yes, there absolutly nonsensical stuff going on in modern software stacks, that could - in theory - be cut without any negative consequences. E.g., contemporary languages and framework seem to do a lot of stuff repeatedly at runtime that you could just as well precompute during build. However, this would require a completely different software stack than what we have now, so from our current point of view, it would be hard to change.
You can solve two problems at once - you will lower their carbon footprint to 1/10 of their current one, and become a multi-millionaire or even billionaire. Sounds like a double win to me.
I read that bitcoin produces more CO2 than the global aviation industry...
Your mission is to write software that's so good that people do not need to upgrade their hardware.
Email, word processing, the vast majority of commercial workloads, would work fine on machines with a tiny fraction of the typical PCs power today. But developers insist on using godawful “frameworks” to do the most trivial things. Like JS based text editors that take gigs of RAM to do less useful stuff than Emacs could do in megs.
The PC of the future is something like an RPi with an eInk display with a solar panel on the other side.
It's big (~23Mt), but not as big as aviation (~860Mt).
Perhaps the bit flipping will be the way out of this mess - using machine intelligence to understand and help us optimise for things that we can't. I think that will take a while though - we need more legislation around polluting and overuse of resources as the immediate step.
One would think primitive lifestyles would produce less pollution. They would surprisingly be wrong - biomass cooking fires scale worse than petroleum ironically. Similarly the reason hunter gathers were nomadic was because they were like a plague of locusts stripping food capacity - it is no wonder humans caused so many mass extinctions with spear and arrows alone.
Given the sheer difficulty of predicting technology I don't think it is very possible beyond "Don't put lead in gasoline you morons!".
Enough energy enters Earth's atmosphere on days like this one to sustain 7 billion people plus the six-legged majority with room for human technological innovation. We're just not capturing each day's energy with even greater than 50% efficiency yet.
But yeah, people buying bigger cars (SUVs) and houses generally isn't good for the planet at all.
Not to mention the impact of online shopping, which is fed by the internet as an advertising/profiling/consuming state machine.
Seems like you want them to halt their economic growth?
I'm concerned about the biosphere too, but people gotta live. Check out ecomodernism:
It's a more productive way to frame your concern for the environment.
We need better ways, and technology is the only way to save us and the biosphere at the moment. No way we will choose to starve 7 billion people to death.
I have a friend that is extremely optimistic and thinks we will figure things out, like fusion, 'because we need to' but I'm far more pessimistic.
This year, based on previous years, we will probably hit 35 gigatons of carbon emissions and it won't be long before we hit 40 gigatons. Even if a fleet of alien ships appeared in orbit today and was like "we're going to give you 20,000 fusion reactors and we should have them all operational by the end of March, this will replace all of your power needs with much room for growth" we'd need to find some miraculous way to begin sequestering tens of gigatons of carbon a year on top of what the earth can naturally do to begin to retard the damage we've done and it would take us 15-20 years to make a significant reduction in carbon that we've added since the industrial revolution.
Then we'd still have a planet lousy with microplastics that are now in the air and water. A recent study found microplastics in all participants fecal matter, on multiple continents.
Then to borrow from Loyd Blankenship in his The Conscience of a Hacker " You build atomic bombs,
you wage wars, you murder, you cheat, and lie" so even if we solve our power issue, solve our carbon generation issue, summon a miracle to deal with the microplastics, make rapid advances in land management and sustainable food production, then we still have the fact that by nature humans are full of hate, full of prejudice, we are flawed with greed and the desire to wage war.
Add to that the middle class is shrinking, the lower class is growing, even a measly billionaire worth exactly 1 billion dollars has a net worth equal to 16,937 years of the MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME of the United States with Forbes estimated in 2017 that there were 2,208 billionaires in the world and we are quickly on our way to seeing a trillionaire in the next couple of decades most likely...
Then student loan debt. A friend expressed to me yesterday that she "is better off dead" as she's been trying to refinance her student loans (2 bachelors degrees, different fields, decided teaching wasn't for her and pivoted to nursing) because after a year of trying to refinance the MINIMUM monthly payment is more than double what she's paying now if she consolidates and that she fully believes she will be servicing her student loans for the rest of her natural life because she's looking at 6 figures of debt that only continues to grow from interest.
I suspect this comment will be severely downvoted but my opinion stands. The world is truly and duly fucked. Barring miracle-aliens or an unprecedented number of miraculous inventions by dozens or hundreds of individuals in a very short time period, the ship is sinking.
Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight.
BUT when you consider how long the lizard kings owned the planet, we are but a drop in the bucket now. The thin veil of oxygen on this planet will shake us like a cold when we use it up. And like an abusive husband, we'll be stuck holding a sad empty hull of defensive behavior and anger that wont bring back ecological balance.
The problem is even those options put humans in a space where someone else (whoever that someone else is) can turn off your air supply, a kind of social constraint that even the worst individuals and societies and governments in history have never had at their disposal.
 baring a true Earth-like planet being discovered, but, even then, based on any foreseeable technology, the only option to get there would be generational ships subject to exactly the same constraints as outlined above.
Organizing people to that effect might look doomed to failure, but entire economies have been overturned in decades before.
You have a trivial technical solution to removing gigatons of carbon from our atmosphere?
You have a trivial technical solution to cleaning up microplastics?
Please, would you kindly share this trivial technical solutions with the rest of us?
My point: it’s mostly a political issue.
Both require technologies we do not have.
The air and waters the world around are contaminated with microplastics, we're not fixing that. We just aren't, that's forever. It's done. All we can do is reduce how much we are adding.
For the carbon sequestration, we don't even have any remotely viable methods for sequestering a gigaton annually. If you happen to know one, YC put a call out for startups in that area last year and I'm sure they'd love you to develop a prototype and pitch them http://carbon.ycombinator.com/
Even of you try and replicate the Azolla event, for carbon sequestration, and you use the 10 largest bodies of water in the world with ideal efficiency you'll only be sequestering about 10% of what we produce and using the 10 largest freshwater lakes in the world (like you know, the great lakes 172,000 square miles of lake dedicated purely to azolla (forgetting it would destroy entire ecosystems) would do roughly 10% of what we need to to combat current emissions under unrealistically ideal conditions.
Please though, tell us how trivial it is.
IPCC estimated up to 2Gt/y for afforestation alone. And their target was at 100Gt until 2100. Given emissions are cut abruptly.
My assumption for trivial was that this is the targets to be reached. That we cease all emissions not directly or indirectly contributing to reaching those targets and align our societies to prioritize this as the highest priority goal (as opposed to producing more worthless junk in order to keep people busy)
Plant trees and revive massive amount of land loss that most countries have caused due to poor stewardship (overgrazing).
Better capture negative externalities. Or at the very least, stop subsidizing them. (aka, tax beef production, water consumption and plastic use).
This is a social, not technology problem.
In some places you can't even plant the trees back. For example if you clearcut trees on a karst landscape, the rain washes away the thin soil completely, leaving only bare rock.
>The lesson goes back to the ancient Romans, who harvested the great pine trees on the Dalmatian karst on the southern tip of Croatia. “As soon as new trees got started, the sheep or the goats ate them,” Ford says. “The word karst means stony ground—stony because they wrecked it.” In the Middle East, the mythic Cedars of Lebanon—believed by some Christians to be the place where the resurrected Jesus revealed himself—grew on pure limestone karst very much like that of Vancouver Island. They were mowed down to build the temples of ancient Egypt and Jerusalem. The soil disappeared and never came back. Around one percent of the original cedars remain, in scattered, protected groves. Slovenia banned clearcutting on karst in 1949—but by then it was too late. There are photos, circa 1900, of babushka-wrapped Austro-Hungarian peasants hauling topsoil back onto the bald karst after it was clearcut.
"The land would resemble a feature in Ireland called the Burren—an expanse of rundkarren produced by overgrazing and logging, marked by fissures that hint at the fathomless void beneath. "
The burren's OK, but it would be nicer as forest.
I'm by no means claiming there is no problem and the situation is fabricated; However, using terms like “ecological Armageddon” really makes your amygdala go into overdrive and for what? To shock people into action or something?
EDIT: I did not make up the term. The term Holocene seems to be more current (but also more obscure). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction
I think people underestimate just how big Russia and Canada are and the fact that for most the part, they are completely undeveloped.
"We should take half of the 17,235,800 square kilometers of cultivated land in the world and return it to nature"
"We should take half of the 1,549,600 square kilometers of permanent cropland"
Let us hope that as these dramatic changes start affecting more and more people in concrete ways, we, human beings, will search for and develop technological solutions that will allow us to survive and thrive in a changing environment.
Eventually we're going to have to engineer our way out of it, or die trying. But I expect it will get pretty dire before enough people across the spectrum get on board.
Exactly. That's a much better way of putting it.
It's hard to replicate this kind of data six or seven years out. If someone repeats the survey this year and gets different numbers, it can be discounted as an anomaly. It would have been better if the study could have been repeated right away: in the same year, or in the following year.
Also, the authors are overwhelmingly biased in favour of climate change as the cause. This is mainly a bug count. How hard is it to count the bugs and present the data and the analysis, leaving speculation about the cause to the discussion? I have to be very suspicious of a study that starts off implicating climate change instead of following the evidence. Especially when the conclusion is "we need more money to study this".
It does not make much sense to try so hard to fit climate change to the curve of this data. If it turns out that something else is operative, such as pesticide use, or the unusual solar minimum, or the unexpectedly rapidly diminishing magnetic field, then we have missed an early indication of something huge.
There is overwhelming evidence that humans are screwing up this planet, but no matter how politically correct and funding-expedient it may be to nail everything with the climate change hammer, it's not really how science is supposed to work.
It's hard to lay an insect apocalypse at the door of a 2C change in temperature. Measuring the temperature of a whole planet is hard. Pons & Fleischmann had trouble measuring the temperature change in a beaker and look at the stupidity that occasioned.
Lister & Garcia mostly rely upon increased variability in the weather to make the connection, but the fundamental mechanism is never explored. It's pretty hard to swallow that all the insects in a tropical rain forest died because they were a little too warm a few days out of the year.
Climate change has become a religion, and, like a religion, it makes a lot of money for its practitioners.
If 98% of the bugs in Luquillo are dead, then we are likely in dire trouble. If true, this finding is way too important to screw up with curve-fitting.
The other day I was annoyed at my allergies, in winter, with snow coming down and reflecting on how I never had allergies until around 30 a few years back. Bees. Bees dying. Bees eat pollen. It seems many of my friends have far worse allergies than previously...
What if we are already seeing consequences of insects dying off, like bees for example. I need to find time to try and see if there is good data on allergies, if there has been a general increase, and how it matches up with bee die off and pollen count. Is it possible that bees not being around to use pollen, has caused pollen count to go up on average, which is causing more allergy issues with humans?
And what happens if mosquitoes start dying off, we have chocolate because mosquitoes are one of the few pollinators that can pollinate the cacao tree due to the small size.
Personally, I could not remember a situation where I felt this could be true.
The plants still produce the pollen though. Pine trees for example produce copious amounts of pollen but it offers a relatively poor protein source so most pollinating insects don't make use of it.
Bees consume pollen as one of their food sources though, they just happen to pollinate plants due to accidental transfer while collecting pollen for their own use. You can then harvest some of the wax and honey as a commercial product and it's much easier to load up box after box of honey bees on a truck to transport to the next field than it is moths, butterflies, beetles, mosquitoes etc. Modern farming outright relies on domesticated bees, domesticated bees aren't remotely 'natural' though and nature has plenty of other means of spreading pollen sufficiently for reproduction.
A recent figure puts just domesticated honey bees at 80-100 million colonies worldwide. An average-size colony may bring in 100 pounds of pollen in a season so 8-10 billion pounds of pollen annually.
If you saw just a 10% die off of those domesticated colonies, you're talking about an insane amount of pollen. 2000 maize pollen grains weigh one milligram, so 907 million grains per pound for maize.
So the NAB scale, depending on the type of pollen, 5-89 grains per cubic meter of air is moderate and 20-1499 grains per cubic meter is a high pollen count.
Yeah, there's a LOT of air but you can see how even a small reduction in colonies could drastically increase average pollen counts. Add in global warming which can extend the growing season and open up new regions and you also see an amplification of pollen during a given period.
First, deniers say that people who have been warning about overpopulation for centuries have always proven wrong. This flies in the face of all the evidence, such as the article being replied to. The verdict is in, there's no disputing the damage that has been done. The insects, the birds, the fish, virtually all large mammals (and most of the smaller ones).
The Second response deniers go with is that "we can solve the problem of overpopulation with new technologies". The damage is done! What's left of the environment is being destroyed right now. Talking about solving the problem of overpopulation by developing new technologies is like talking about inventing new ways to fight fires as you watch a building burn down in front of your eyes.
This is obviously not to say that we should be killing people off or forcibly sterilizing people or any of the feverish rhetoric used by those who don't want to face reality. It means that if we as a society want to continue to live on the planet earth we need to start having a conversation about what sort of population the earth can sustainably support and what sort of policies we should enact to reach that massively reduced number at some time in the future (which hopefully isn't too late).
Responsibility: no single raindrop feels it is responsible for the flood.
This war, like most wars, has turned out
to be a trickier business than we
expected. We must now face two shocking
surprises. The first surprise is that if
we say and believe that we are at war
with nature, then we are in the fullest
sense at war: that is, we are both
opposing and being opposed, and the
costs to both sides are extremely high.
The second surprise is that we are not
winning. [...] Even in our most grievous
offenses against her, as in the present
epidemic of habitat destruction and
species extinction we are being
defeated, for in the long run we can
less afford the losses than nature can.
The only 'unnatural' aspect of the picture is the common notion that humans (primates designed for small-scale tribal interactions) could somehow magically adapt to managing planetary-scale populations (let alone the vast network of ecologies hosting them).
The story of human 'progress' or 'destiny' is a religious myth. Amusingly, it is held with particular vehemence by many technologically-inclined atheists without a shred of irony.
Yes, we are nature. However, in this case, we assume a role of a parasite. A cancerous growth that keeps consuming it's host until they both die. That is the uniqueness of humanity, the ability to completely destroy the habitat of the species on global scale.
Being at war with nature is a good metaphor for our behaviour, because we seem determined to completely vanquish it and bend it to our will.
Of course it's a bitter irony that if we are at war with nature, we are at war with ourselves (because as you say we come from nature). I think that's implied by the passage.
The way we interact with nature is different in kind from other species, not just in scope.
For humans, it's not enough to take , say, just the fish that we need. Because of money we take _all_ the fish we can get and then sell them. What doesn't sell is thrown out.
We don't 'interact' with nature. There's no getting outside of it to do the interaction. When we 'take more than we need', we're acting exactly as a hominid with tribal cognitive & affective adaptations that have been turned to extended purposes in a global context would act. In other words: evolution in creating H. Sapiens has explored an area of state space that will result in large-scale ecological collapse. This is unfortunate, from our present-day point of view, but it is not unnatural.
If you're not willing to or capable of engaging in these types of discussions in good faith, maybe Hacker News isn't the site for you.
I'm objecting that we own the Earth and that somehow we can kill it.
> people use “our house” to mean the one they occupy, not limiting it to only what they built
The Earth isn't being occupied by us, we are simply part of the Earth. So I don't mind the use of "our", but implying that we are killing the planet is the bit I think people should take a step back from and think about.
If anything the relationship is the other way around: we belong to the world that has formed us.
> implying that we are killing the planet
That would be a meaningless assertion. We our killing our world, which is a network of evolved complex living systems, not 'the planet'.
Why is all the focus on what can go wrong?
Serious questions, not trying to be cute.