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What are the biggest threats to humanity? (bbc.com)
29 points by pseudolus 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments

According to the bulletin of atomic scientists it's climate change and nuclear weapons [0].

I used to think when climate change was mentioned that it's something that won't really impact us in the near term.

After looking more into this, reading more about what James Hansen, Peter Wadhams, Dr Suzuki and other scientists are saying it's basically very very late, but not too late to avoid major catastrophe.

We need major action now - real commitment and action from our governments that protecting our life-ground is top priority and not economic growth at all cost.

Small things are already happening, like school kids striking, people doing civil disobedience etc, people reducing or not eating meat, trying to avoid buying too many plastic products, using public transport etc, but I'm thinking is this enough?

It really doesn't help that we have a US government or president that doesn't really believe in human made climate change. And then we have the new president in Brazil who doesn't think it's important to protect the Amazon.

What's your outlook for the next 10 - 15 years? Do you think we can make it? Change our ways and get off our fossil fuel addiction, change our destructive farming practices, change factory farming and move to a planetary diet (reduced meat intake) or even plant-based diet?

Do you worry about food security issues caused by extended droughts?

Will city life in 10 years or so be worse or better?

[0] https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/current-time/

EDIT: typos

City life in 10 years or so will be increasingly more expensive as food becomes increasingly expensive.

There is a triple threat to our way of producing food and the degree we have over extended ourselves:

- We are losing soil at a rate 10-40 times faster than it can be produced: https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0472/3/3/443/htm. This has led the UN FAO to speculate we may only have 60 years of harvests left, likely much less in areas of intensive farming like the UK where soils could be infertile in as little as 40 years: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/24/uk-30-40...

- As much as 50-90% of our calories come from angiosperms which are dependent on insects: https://www.livescience.com/52752-what-if-all-insects-died.h.... Insect biomass as recently reported has plunged globally and they may be largely extinct by 2100: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/why-are-...

- As you noted, climate change will cause areas like the American midwest to experience extreme drought, desertify, and starve the populations that are dependent on it for food.

The problem comes down to people will not give up their lifestyle until they are starving, and by then it will be too late. How do you convince people that the sustainable way to live is to abandon the suburbs, the supermarkets, owning personal vehicles, air conditioning, clothes dryers, air travel, big box stores full of plastic junk - the list of wasteful things we have produced in the last century that needs to go away goes on and on. I'm guilty of partaking in it- I try to live sustainably but here I am making a living flipping 1's and 0's, burning fossil fuels on a machine that caused all sorts of environmental damage to produce. We live in a make-believe world and it's time to wake up.

I have gone through the existential angst that I read in your comment. The ugly depression, the hopelessness. I understand that outcome is a very real possibility. I also believe that humanity will defeat climate change, and before we lose all major megafauna on the planet. I think that this is the most radical position to take: a faith in the ability of humanity, after thousands of years following the path of exploitation, changing to the path of restoration.

Perhaps it's because of the changes that I'm willing to make, and that could be my folly. I see highly compact cities feeding a world of vegans. I see us doing everything in our power to restore the natural world to its splendor. The zeitgeist that we must shift to is alien and extreme to modern cultures, primarily because we have become so accustomed to the exploitation of people and nature that escaping it seems unecessary to many, and therefore impossible.

I have a sense that it will happen. I have a sense that people are tired of this life, and even if they must themselves not live in nature, the act of restoring it will bring meaning to a broken society. For the first time since we left the forests, we will return to the path of peace.

That's a lovely thought, but I don't think it's based in reality. Change, by it's nature, is disruptive, painful, sometimes unbearable. Human nature is to avoid pain. In all of human history, I'm not aware that the human race has ever collectively, proactively changed it's behavour in the way you describe, and I see no evidence that we'll suddenly start now. Ultimately the changes will happen, but they will happen in the same way they have always happened: mother nature will compel us to change by making us suffer.

I agree that we'll have to have an "Oh shit" moment and that moment will have to happen in the United States for things to happen. I don't deny there will be pain. I don't deny that time is short.

I just think that we can move towards being a more perfect species, and that it will soon happen.

I do respect, even admire the optimists view on this. It's not that I don't have faith in humanity, it's that I do have faith in nature, and I have observed how she works.

I absolutely agree with you. My optimism is strained by what has already been lost, and the repercussions will be severe. We will have to start accepting some of the rules of nature, death, and population that the rest of the species of this planet live under, and that is going to be extremely problematic.

There will be death and despair, some of which we are going to have to accept as inevitable. But there is already death and despair. We kill 9 billion animals in the United States for food supply each year. There are more humans slaves now than at any time in human history. We've lost so much wildlife. The massive loss of arthropod life fills me with shock and dismay.

And yet, with suffering beyond suffering, I have a sense. I have no proof, it could all very well be hopeless, but I have a sense that people are ready to stop the exploitation that led us here.

Ask yourself: are you merely hoping that someone else will solve the problem for you so you don't have to make any sacrifices?

I am a vegan. This is the first and most important sacrifice.

I live in WA, eastern side. The fact that I live in a house is problematic, but we are keeping it cold inside. I must wear a jacket inside my house right now to be comfortable. This is almost nothing compared to having been a vegan for the last 15 years.

I drive less than 3k miles a year, work from home, and I'm going to start applying the wealth that I have to sealing up my home insulation-wise (it's old). This is almost literally nothing compared to having been a vegan for the last 15 years.

I have made a vow to never do personal travel by plane again, and will never cross an ocean for the rest of my life. My company has me going across the country twice a year for meetings, but they are about to reduce it to one, I think, and if we improve our train systems, I'm very happy to do a two day train ride to get there, if at all.

My wife and I love animals, and it's the main reason that we have a house. We will not be replacing them as they die. Ultimately my goal is to pay off the current old house that I have, and then either try to fill it with far more people, or have it demolished as I move into an apartment in town, which is a far more efficient way of life.

Almost all of my conversations discuss climate change in some way. In order to get the political pressure that we need to fight this, our culture must change. These comments are part of that key work.

I am not waiting for anyone. I am trying desperately to walk a path without exploitation, and it's incredibly difficult. I cannot expect my family to walk the path to the extent that I desire either, but we are all vegan and don't travel long distance, and these are the most important changes individuals can make.

You can rail upon my imagined hypocrisies if you desire. You can also join me if you wish.

I didn't mean to imply you were definitely a hypocrite, I merely meant to point out that all the wishing and desiring for a better world is meaningless if you are not willing to take action toward creating it yourself.

As is often the case with forum posts, it was meant just as much, if not more, for the general audience as it was for you in particular.

I thank you for the opportunity to describe the changes necessary. People will test my statements: is it really that important to be vegan? How much does my travel impact climate change?

With even a small amount of research, people will discover the importance of these changes and might join me. Compared to optimism and platitudes, my comment describing what I'm doing could be the most important one I write today.

Thomas had an important role.

> Small things are already happening, like school kids striking, people doing civil disobedience etc, people reducing or not eating meat, trying to avoid buying too many plastic products, using public transport etc, but I'm thinking is this enough?

It's not even close to enough. Things are not changing in any significant way. Then you have places like China, India, Brazil which are rising from poverty and into somewhat Western standards. If anything, pollution overall will probably get worse. We have already lost.

It's going to be tough, not technically but politically. We're not doomed just yet but serious action is required right now. Something on the scale of Facebook and Google getting behind it and using their reach to motivate people.

I do think individual actions can add up, particularly when we use the magnifying power of tech. I wrote a lot on this recently and I can't fit it all in a comment so I'll just link to them at the end.

I'd strongly encourage anyone in tech who cares about this to get involved in https://climateaction.tech/ where there are some very active slack channels. Lots of knowledgeable people on there and some of us old cleanweb peeps too.

It boils down to a three step process:

- Understand

- Organise

- Amplify

There's a long post for each on my blog and a bonus one.





I built www.writegreen.org in 2011, specifically to channel my own energy and angst around this topic to drive policy change (don't change your lightbulbs, change your laws). Unfortunately, the realities of having a family to feed kept me from fully promoting and developing it. Would be great to get feedback and partner with others looking to make a dent on this problem.

Thanks for this. Will check this out. I'm always looking for 'world positive' projects.

Food security issues will appear more and more, but they won't appear to be climate issues, they'll appear to be money or politics issues.

The huge rise in referrals to foodbanks in the UK: is this a food security issue or a poverty issue? Either way there are people struggling to get food.

It's a Tory party issue. Their Universal Credit system is designed to restrict people's welfare payments, and if possible eject them from the system by hook or by crook. I'm not playing politics here - all the metrics show large jumps in 2014, when the system was introduced (replacing the older benefits). Rough sleeping spiked. Unemployment (as measured by people on benefits) plummeted.

The UK is plenty rich enough to feed all its citizens. It just chooses not to.

They chose to design in a five week wait for first payment for the poorest and least able to cope. Then sanction people at every possible turn and have a refusal and appeal apparently as a standard part of claiming sickness benefits[1]. How could food bank use not grow? Even Rudd recently admitted UC caused the rise of food banks.

It's an appalling, vindictive, punitive system that's been designed to be exactly that.

[1] The rate of successful sickness appeals reached 60% in 2015, not sure of figures since: https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3481-dwp-recruits-180...

Amber Rudd even admits that rising food bank use has been caused by Universal Credit:


I don't know whether this is admirable honesty or complete cynicism.

I am in my 30s. I think people around my age will be able to live out most of our lives in relative normalcy. I think children born today will inherit a world that's even more cruel, brutal, and difficult to survive in. The rich will wall themselves off in heavily guarded citadels while climate disasters and the resulting refugee crises tear the rest of the world apart.

I am in my fifties. I have seen a dramatic enough change in my lifetime (lack of proper winters any more, massive loss of insects and wildlife, loss of diversity in the countryside and a terrifying[1] growth of consumerism and plastics) to think you will probably significantly reassess that relative normalcy. Or you might be lucky to live somewhere that will isolate you from most of it.

My kids, of course, grew up with all those huge losses and changes being their baseline normal on which all expectations are set. They think fields without diversity or wildlife and everything in plastic packaging is normal, unless they see some archive footage or history of primitive pre-internet times. They've barely seen snow, so don't expect to, etc.

[1] I grew up with slow consumerism 1.0 in the 70s. My parents generation mainly replaced their car, TV, appliance or even kitchen only when it broke or wore out. Not that much went in the bin, now the wheelie bin is filled with unavoidable packaging. We are apparently supposed to replace everything when the ads say there's a new colour, or the spec got bumped 2%, long before it becomes unusable or worn. Can't help but feel we're going backwards at a rate of knots.

No, I don't think we can collective choose to be better. We need a bacteria or disease to wipe out half the population (Thanos style) in order to give us a chance. I don't think even controlling birth rate right now will be enough. We are causing a multiplier by living lives that are 2x as destructive as 20 years ago at the same time we are doubling population. We've always been a greedy species but before the last 200 years it was out of our grasp. It no longer is and we keep stoking the furnace higher.

Honestly it's Extremists. Not only the religious kind. But every person that doesn't want a tolerant, multicultural, scientific society. Dr. Michio Kaku explains it in his Big Think video "Will human kind destroy itself." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NPC47qMJVg

It's also people who are unkind to those they disagree with. I think we will destroy our society faster than climate change just via "pilot-induced oscillation" where in this case the pilot is two party democracy and the airplane is the country.


> multicultural

There are a lot of people that are both tolerant and scientific that don't value diversity. Like... the entirety of Japan, for example. There are pros and cons to homogeneity in society.

I don't think It is only extremest per se. I think the biggest threats to humanity is obvious humanity itself. And these people used to be very minority and doesn't course us any threats, or rather their damage are within controllable limits. With the help of Internet, and later Smartphones, which by extensions brings Internet to everyone, they become a force that could course trouble beyond our worst imagination.

Note: That is not to say I am for Internet regulation.

The biggest "threat" is our ignorance. We don't know how these major threats (climate change, insect decline, virulence) will aggregate in non-linear ways. I think that many people intuit that they will, and that there will be tipping points. But since the Earth is such a big system, all timeframes are stretched out beyond human perceptions of immediate threat (e.g. will it threaten me or my children). We don't know when the tipping points will arrive. We may have already tipped.

Am I having a bad morning, or does the formatting of that article make it nearly impossible to read?

Some of the threats were handled as being for this year, more than for a not so far future. Even something that have 0.001% probabilities to happen in this particular year can have more significant odds in our lifetimes.

Also, that something didn't happen in the past N years don't mean that it won't happen this one, or that the actual odds are 1/N because unaccounted factors could increase the odds (i.e. global warming is increasing the odds of extreme weather events, even for used-to-be-infrequent weather events). And those unaccounted factors may change odds for most risks, (political, weather, health) or make them worse, or to happen close enough.

Probably the loss of fertile soil in farmland and increasing need for fresh water.

For several years now I have believed that there is a more general threat that is far scarier as it has no ethical solution. Basically, the very idea of civilization contains the seed of its own self-destruction. Danger and suffering provides the motivation for humanity to turn away from its destructive and unreliable intuition and to exert the energy necessary to reason. Using reason, we build civilization - which removes danger and suffering by definition. This means that it also removes all substantive visceral motivation to distrust intuition and invest in reason. As reason is used to construct more infrastructure and more danger and suffering is removed from peoples lives, this necessarily removes the negative consequences from trusting intuition. It becomes safe to trust intuition despite its horrendous inaccuracy. And as intuition is sort of the 'default mode' of the brain, requiring the absolute least amount of energy investment, it becomes very popular to rely upon it and distrust reason.

It then becomes more and more difficult to get social support for expanding or maintaining the infrastructure necessary to sustain the civilization. Eventually, there will be a movement to actively destroy that infrastructure. One might think that once some of the danger reasserted itself that people would immediately turn back to reason, but that is not supported by any sort of history. Instead, the most likely response is to double, triple, and quadruple down on intuition and superstition. They will conclude that whatever danger presents itself is an artifact of the remaining infrastructure and that they simply haven't gone far enough. They will accelerate, not reverse course.

If a person or group of people do not agree that reason is the way in which life should be dealt with, you can not convince them with reason, obviously. You could persuade them emotionally... but assuming you are successful, one of their first realizations will be that you have manipulated them unethically and are a hypocrite. They would not side with reason for long. So the destiny of civilization seems to be to destroy itself, to revert to humanitys 'base state' of slogging through muck, racked with disease, killing one another over whose god is stronger.

That, I think, is the biggest threat to humanity.

An overwhelmingly large (and growing) population of ignorant people who don't value critical thinking, learning, science, or anything but themselves and their immediate desires.

I think you have a point it's also what I'm seeing, but I think it's not because most people choose to be ignorant.

It's our system, which locks us into a work.eat.sleep.netflix&chill.repeat cycle.

And if you have kids etc you just don't have enough time or maybe mental energy to then research all this after a long day of work.

And some don't care, even if they have all the facts and are presented with solutions to avoid causing further harm.


I know what you mean, I have kids and don't have a lot of time to learn about the things I want to. The thing is, people like that aren't who I'm talking about.

I'm talking about people who will make no effort to learn about a topic, and then feel that their opinion on said topic is of the same weight as everyone else's (including experts). These people will then act/vote based on this opinion and act offended when it's questioned. This mentality is creeping into everything.

I don't want to politicize this but lets use climate change as an example. Forget about whether or not climate change is real or not. Just leave the possibility that it could be, and could be a potential threat to the existence of humanity.

Now, don't get caught up on who is right or wrong, just think about the overall quality of the debate that's currently occurring. It's not climate change that scares me so much as the quality of the debate.

Eventually we will be faced with a very large problem and we don't seem to be in any shape to work together to fix it.

I don't have a problem with this being downvoted, but I'm super curious what someone's reasoning for doing so is?

I'm desperate for someone to convince me this isn't the case.

Not a lot of talk about CRISPR-CAS9 here. Though we don't really know enough about what it will entail yet (it's still very new), I think that it's potential power should cause raised eyebrows. Things like bio-terrorism are a 'first pass' at CRISPR's power, but there are much deeper implications. For instance, the concept of 'family' may be threatened with enough gene editing, a concept that goes back about a billion years.

For any intelligent species to be considered objectively "successful", it has to keep asking itself certain questions:

• How do we ensure that we propagate beyond our home?

• How do we ensure that we don't self-destruct?

• How do we ensure that the products and evidence of our existence survive us in the event of our extinction?

And, to a lesser, more subjective extent:

• How do we ensure that no member of our species has a miserable existence?

So far, humans don't seem to be doing much of any of these.

To me those criteria seem completely arbitrary, though I believe some philosophers have argued the exact opposite of what you're claiming, that is, that an intelligent species should be considered "successful" when it causes itself to disappear: see "antinatalism".

Philosophy is, as far as we know, a pure human-specific construct.

A true hive-mind species, or a species that propagates asexually, for example, will not relate to a lot of the stuff we do, let alone be able to care about it.

However, if you cannot influence anything in the universe beyond your home planet, and don't leave a lasting impact or any trace for any potential observers in the future, you may as well never have existed.

Consider never having found any dinosaur fossils.

If humans die out on Earth, and the effects of our time here do not influence anything after even say 1000 years, we will be no different than the Elves and Dwarves and all the fictional species of our own imagination.

What do you mean objectively? I don't see a lot of other species asking and answering these questions...

That being said they're all good points.

It's is amazing that no matter how good humanity is doing, there is always at least one end of the world type of meme circulating around the world and making ordinary and also otherwise smart and educated people full of anxiety. This pattern repeats it self across religions and cultures over and over through the entire human history. And every time they say that this time their prediction really will happen.


Imagine if someone asked "What are the biggest threats to white race?". That would be recognized as a racist question and racism is seen as a bad thing.

For some weird reason racism is bad but speciesism is good. These types of articles are typical specisist garbage. What about threats to other species? Why are members of homo sapiens species superior to other species?

This wouldn't fly when it comes to racism since people now recognize that racial superiority is a bogus concept.

You're getting some flak for your comment, and I guess I'm responding because I don't think you deserve it, so I'm willing to take flak too because the idea is pretty on point, at least in a tangential sort of way.

There is nothing particularly special or sacred about humanity other than that we happen to belong to that group. If we die out, we die out. The universe goes on just as it will after you as an individual perish, just as it has for everyone who came before you, every species that did, even the stars that went nova creating the elements necessary for you to exist. And whether by the heat death of the universe or simply the inevitability of minuscule probabilities occurring on an infinite timeline, our species is doomed anyway.

Should we care about the possibility of human extinction? Absolutely. But should we be willing to go to even the most extreme lengths, say by wiping out the rest of life on earth, to preserve it? I don't think so. I don't believe that ensuring your survival by contributing to creating a world you don't want to live in is a meaningful exercise.

Like I said, this is a bit tangential since as far as I know no one is suggesting atrocities as a solution to the many threats we face, I just see this idea of human survival as being the highest priority in the universe often enough to want to offer a dissenting opinion.

This article is interest for me because I'm a human and I'm interested in threats to humanity. Would it have been about white people only, I would have asked why white human only, because we are all of the same specie and there is, to my knowledge, no threat to white human survival that doesn't apply to the others. And if there is such a threat then that article wouldn't be racist.

Moreover I believe that I'm superior to the other animals.

I rank this guy as a pretty big threat... This sounds like something a James Bond villain says right before he releases the virus that kills 90% of the human population.

No, man I'm not a threat. Your remark reminds me of a common situation of someone being accused of being a race traitor by a white supremacist.

I guess if I'm being honest I'm kind of a human supremacist. I think most of us are. That's why we eat other animals. I'm not saying I don't feel guilty about it but I also don't feel guilty about swatting mosquitoes.

Also my comment wasn't meant to be serious...

I don't consider myself a human supremacist, but I also don't eat other animals even if some of my quality of life is ultimately sourced from their suffering.

I think it is just as foolish to assume that humans are more deserving, more important, and more valuable than any other life simply because you are a part of that group as it is to assume the same about your race.


Someone has a reading comprehension problem. Here, let me help you:

"I think it is just as foolish to assume that humans are more deserving, more important, and more valuable than any other life simply because you are a part of that group as it is to assume the same about your race."

> Humans are more valuable because we have more power.

And Nazis were more valuable than Poles for the same reason?

There are reasonable arguments to be made about why we should consider human life more valuable than other life, but you're not making them.

You grossly misinterpret what I mean by "power", because it has nothing to do with the differences between Nazis and Poles, as both of them have the same aggregate ability to make decisions.


Perhaps you haven't thought enough about the question? There's more than one big threat.

I don’t doubt that there is.

This, however, is the biggest.

We're either with you, or against you.


Give me a break...

If climate change is your only answer, you haven't thought enough about the issue. Climate change is naught but a symptom of a larger underlying issue - the human population.

If someone want to convince me that climate change is the biggest threat to humanity they need to explain to me what scientifically demonstrated consequences of climate change are we currently not able to deal with and won't we be able to deal with 50-100 year from now.

Climate change will happen whether we emit CO2 or not and we always have to find ways to co-exist with that fact.

But the idea that climate change is catastrophic to the extent a sudden impact from an astroid is just not convincing and it's certainly not scientific no matter how many scientist are behind that view.

"threat to humanity" is a big concept and it's disheartening to see it being thrown around with regards to climate so easily.

My position on this is that we start taking care of our close environments rather than worrying about climate change as that's not something we can really do anything about (and no solar and wind will not solve our problems)

The current debate about climate change is politics masquaraded as science.

Until we accept this we can't have a constructive debate.

I don't think people are saying it's like being hit by an astroid.

It's gradual, like a frog being slowly boiled alive.

There is lot of science in here: https://www.ipcc.ch/2018/10/08/summary-for-policymakers-of-i...

Other climate scientists (like P. Wadhams) think that report is too conservative.

The way I understood it is (some major points):

- The arctic ice is melting, which will reduce how much sunlight is reflected back into space (albedo effect).

- melting permafrost releases methane - a very potent greenhouse gas, which can accelerate global warming.

- More droughts can cause crop failures and eventually can cause social instability, starvation, malnutrition and wars for resources.

This is a good summary of the IPCC report - it says we have around 12 years to avert major climate catastrophe:


Also look into what Dr James Hansen (ex NASA climate scientist) says.

I think the scientific community is in consensus that climate change can become an existential threat if we don't act now.

I don't understand why you don't think that's the case, even though there is so much scientific evidence out there. Or maybe I misunderstood your comment.

Edit: typos and clarity

Everything you point to is speculations they are not scientifically demonstrated. This is the main problem here.

"It can lead to", "it might", "potentially" etc. that's not actually science.

Science is not about consensus. Science is what can be tested and thus demonstrated. And just because you can show something in a lab you can't necessarily show that in larger scale systems.

I am well aware of the claims about the 12 years and all that but I challenge anyone to show where it's demonstrated and I would invite anyone to dig into the material themselves.

What you will quickly realize is that the actual science is a very small fraction of all the things you read about. The climate is changing yes. Besides that, the actual science starts to turn into more speculative territory. And then there are the issues with curve fitting etc. So much fud on both sides.

IPCC does not actually do any science themselves, they don't even check the data they just do meta-studies and much of that is based on best guesses. They are an organization who only exist because there is a fear of climate change. That's not science that's politics. Let the scientists do science rather than this absurd political circus which gets in the way.

There is no shortage of speculated outcomes. What there is a shortage of is demonstrated outcomes and that should be a big red flag to anyone who claims to be a critical thinker.

Furthermore, none of the things you claim are things we won't be able to deal with or can't already. The frog metaphor would work fine if we didn't become better and better at dealing with the challenges nature puts towards us but that's not how things work.

Nature doesn't give us a safe environment we don't make unsafe. It gives us a hostile and unsafe environment we then make safe and will continue to affect.

There is no consensus that climate change can become an existential threat in anything than a speculative sense and it doesn't matter. A consensus is not proof nor is it science. Only demonstration is science.

I'm aware IPCC doesn't do science themselves and it is a study of studies like you said.

But meta studies are a gold standard (especially for complex systems) as they average out the errors.

Those studies are from scientists who do science, so I don't quite follow your comment.

If I understand your comment correctly ("test in a large scale system"), in order to be 100% sure what would happen if the global temperature rises above 1.5C we would somehow have to replicate planet Earth with all its complex systems and speed up time to see what will actually happen?

What about the models that scientists create? Are you saying that's not real science?

Keep in mind that Earth climate models were used to successfully predict Martian weather, so I think we can trust those models that warn us of a climate threat if we don't cut our CO2 emissions.

Are you basically saying there is nothing to worry about, because nothing has been proven yet?

Take something like curve fitting. That's not done based on some rigid methodology it's based on best guesses by the individuals. And because you are dealing with something as politicized as climate change that basically means that the validity of these metastudies is at least questionable.

Keep in mind without climate change fear there is no need for climate change scientist. The climate is always changing but the scientists can easily cover that.

You should at least apply the same kind of skepticism to the climate change scientists as you do to the oil industry.

The climate is changing but lets' stop pretending the hockey stick is science. It's not it's an interpretation of data a very very very different thing.

On top of that. The claim that we only have 12 years left to do something about things is NOT science its speculation based on interpretation of the available data.

Of course, the models aren't science. If it was science we wouldn't have different outcomes based on different inputs. We wouldn't be talking about a spectrum from almost nothing to +6 degrees.

What exactly did they predict though with regards to the martian weather? It's is orders of magnitudes simpler than ours so that's not really an argument and no you can't trust the models cause they are based on very different things.

What I am saying is that neither you nor anyone else has shown scientifically demonstrated consequences of climate change we don't know how to deal with.

So I would love someone to be specific with showing something we don't know how to deal with and which would warrant some of the more extreme proposals we have heard such as ban fossile fuels and subsidies to sun and wind.

And I am saying there is plenty to worry about in your local environment which you can actually do something about and which is sustainable change.

My understanding is the models are an approximation but fed with real world data. You can't compare this to a law of physics.

That's why we get a range and not exact values, so don't take the 12 years literal - it's also an approximation.

There is much more explained on the NASA website


RE: You should at least apply the same kind of skepticism to the climate change scientists as you do to the oil industry.

What's in it for the climate scientists, e.g. what's in it for James Hansen (ex NASA climate scientist) to not be truthful about this? What's in it for him if he can convince the world that global warming has negative consequences for our habitat? Maybe the outcome would be that we would make a more concerted effort to get off fossil fuels and maybe try to have a more sustainable lifestyle? I don't think that's a bad outcome.

There is a lot of profit for the oil industry to spread misinformation and for lobbying to keep the status quo. Exxonmobil's scientist already knew about climate change, but then Exxonmobil spread misinformation: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-...

RE: And I am saying there is plenty to worry about in your local environment which you can actually do something about and which is sustainable change.

Our local environment is connected to the global environment - you can't separate the two. Stuff gets into the stratosphere and then around the whole world or our plastic straws end up in a turtle's nose.

It's one big system.

They are approximations using approximate data which isn't being checked for validity trying to predict consequences 50-80 years out.

I am not taking it literally I am not even taking it seriously.

Again I am well aware of the literature you still haven't been able to show actual proof of any claim of us having 12 or approximately 12 years left to avoid some catastrophe you haven't even substantiated what catastrophe or show that we can't deal with it.

There are plenty of scientists who think Hansen is wrong and it's certainly been wrong that New York would be under water by 2010 as it was claimed by some. In fact, all claims about our inability to deal with climate change have so far been wrong.

What do you mean what's in it for climate scientists? Their livelihood exactly the same as you claim is in it for the oil industry and which is in it for the Greentech industry. What do the scientists who are skeptical about the claims have to gain from this? You are only applying ill intent to one side not the other. There is plenty of NASA scientists who are skeptics too.

Of course, I can separate the two when it comes to what I can do something about and what I can't. I can do something about whether someone should pollute in my backyard I can't do anything about whether China decides to build yet another coal factory.

I would really urge you to spend the time and dig into this. Read both sides of the argument and then tell me that you don't come back much less confident in anything you hear.

Yes, I'd like to dig into this, so I can better understand where you're coming from.

Can you share your sources, scientists, reports etc? Thx

I assume you know plenty of places that argue like you do so I will give you a couple of other places that actually discuss this with both and cons.

But keep in mind the debate isn't actually whether climate change is real. It is how accurate are the predictions and what if anything should we be worried about.

Just so we are clear on the premise here. You will find very few people who say that climate change is not real that's not the discussion and it's never really been the discussion.

So here are a couple of good debates that lay out some of the skepticism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-gLLxk-u78 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-28qNd6ass

I would also recommend reading Alex Epstein's book The moral case for fossil fuel: he offers another way to think about this problem which is also what I am trying to get across. The climate debate we are having is mostly political and thus about priorities rather than about science.



My sources are science journals and talks by those climate scientists mentioned previously.

I watched the 1st and 3rd video.

The first one was good but it was a bit all over the place, I wish they had more time to discuss this in more detail.

The way I understood is that Prof Lindzen argues that there is no man made climate change that's an existential threat and the other scientist are alarmist and says they are heavily biased and suggested that there is even conspiracy, but wouldn't say who is behind this conspiracy. He even urged Trump to withdraw from the climate accord. What is wrong with investing more heavily in renewable tech? What about gradually decreasing oil subsidies and funneling those to clean tech.

For example what if those climate scientist are right, we only have one biosphere.

The 3rd with Epstein - he isn't a scientist and he didn't present any evidence either (maybe he does in this book). But I get his point, of course fossil fuels were and are useful and helped to build our civilization. But the counterpoint is that we need to get off it and ensure that we use the cleanest form of fossil fuels.

Even if it's confirmed at a later stage that there is no man made climate change that's a threat, the fossil fuel industry creates pollution that's not healthy for humans and other life on this planet. We have the know how, but not enough is being done to make the shift. Of course it's not realistic to suddenly ban the use of fossil fuels. But more needs to be done to invest in clean tech.

Again, what if those models and scientists are right that man made climate change is a threat. We don't really want to experiment with our only habitat.

LIke the moderator from the rubin report, since I'm not a scientist in these matters, I need to take what the majority of scientist are saying more seriously vs some fringe scientist who only say the others didn't prove anything therefore we can continue as usual.

Better be safe than sorry.

Anyway, thanks for posting those links - but I'm not convinced yet and I rather err on the cautious side and try to continue reducing my carbon footprint, even if Lindzen thinks it's just a symbolic gesture

PS: I didn't watch the 2nd video, only the first few minutes. This format looked a bit more promising, but the debate is from 2007 - that's over 10 years ago - new data and maybe new models have emerged since then to give us a better understanding of climate change. I parked this for now.

My sources are all sorts of things however as you said yourself if you are not a scientist you don't really have the ability to know what is true and what is false here and so it's much better to see these debates as they flush out the actual disagreements.

No new models have emerged that changes things in any fundamental way again. You are more than welcome to point to it if you think it exist but you won't find it because it's mostly speculation not science.

Epstein is not saying we shouldn't get of fossil fuels he is saying we shouldn't do it before we have a better alternative solar and wind is not that. They won't be delivering more than 2-3% even with heavy heavy investments and they are unreliable they are not clean. They are not solutions to getting of fossil fuel and that exactly the problem. So why on earht would any sany person support something that isn't going to solve the problem just because it's green if its not going to be able to deliver enough energy? That's a waste of taxpayer money which could be used for R&D into proper solutions. That's the problem. Even if we do everything that's in the paris agreement it's estimated that we will only be able to adjust the temperature with less than 1 degree. In what world is that a sane investment?

Better safe than sorry is not a useful argument. The majority of scientists are not saying what you think they are thats the point. They are saying all sorts of things which then get packaged into a catastrophist viewpoint through the media.

You are taking what the media says as truth not the scientists as they science do not make any such predictions what so ever it can't.

Even the person who is arguing against lindzen agrees that the idea of consensus is stupid it's not science.

Science is falsifiable the other thing is a mix of speculation and politics.

The real question you should be asking yourself is exactly what you are prepared to do to reduce carbon footprint. There is no solution out there that will get us off it or even reduce is drastically besides R&D no one is arguing against that.

So again what exactly are you worried about and how far are you prepared to go? You gonna go to war with china over coal plants? If not then it's purely gestures and you go into any government in the world and you will quickly realize that they don't really prioritize it as high as they say they do because they don't either know what exactly they should worry about and what to do about it.

I also try to have a wide variety of sources, hence why I asked you for your sources, since the oncce I found that argued against climate change being a threat were just weak opinions.

And you're right... I didn't play back my understanding correctly about Epstein. But all I'm saying is we could do more to accelerate and fund discovery of clean tech solutions. Oil for example gets so much more subsidies than renewable energy. We could adjust those levers, but it seems the political will isn't there.

A scientific consensus isn’t subject to a majority rule, so I don't think it's useless - scientific consensus is many different scientists from different backgrounds coming to a similar conclusion. This and meta-studies shouldn't be dismiised.

Why is 'better safe than sorry' not a useful argument? Maybe an apt analogy would be our health. Say for example a doctor says you're susceptible to a certain illness. To decrease the chances of getting that illness the doctor presents some things that have been shown to work in the past with other patients, but it hasn't been proven to work every time, because bodies are complex. I would certainly do those things to try to avoid that illness.

What I'm worried about is what if the consensus on man made climate change and its threat turn out to be true - in our lifetime sometime in this century. We don't really want to use our only habitat as a test lab to find out, because if it turns out the be true it will be too late.

That's why I think the climate models are not useless. Climate models are being used to predict crop yields for example. Yes, it's not 100% accurate but the confidence of a certain outcome is high. So those climate models that are being used to demonstrate global warming and its effect shouldn't be dismissed just because it's not verifiable.

What I'm doing is what some other people in this thread are doing, i.e. I don't consume animal products anymore, as it's not logical anymore to do and it's an ineffecient way to feed people. On top of that it's immoral, bad for the environment (cutting down forests and to have farmland, etc), bad for people working in that industry (e.g. would you want to kill and slaughter animals all day and breath in the air in a slaughterhouse?) and bad for your health (see dr neil barndard, dr greger, dr ellsworth etc). I use public transport, use my gadgets until they die or can't be repaired anymore, don't follow any fashion trends and buy higher quality clothes that lasts longer (i.e. not fast fashion).

Anyway, I think we've reached the end - usually it's better to debate these type of things face to face and this forum doesn't lend itself very well to long term debates - running out of space - almost reached the end of the right margin ;)

Thanks again for those links I'll checkout more stuff by Epstein and Lindzen and if you have any other sources or scientists who provide a counter argument then please feel free to share those.


RE: Being vegan is great for your consciousness and nothing else.

This will take another whole new post to explain, but I already hinted why not supporting the large meat industry (factory farming) is a good thing, it's not just for feeling good about oneself.

It's about not supporting an industry that is so destructive on so many level. You should watch this short talk by Ethan Brown (entrepreneur) offering real solutions: Beyond Meat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x8jfiaLCPY and the 'Earthlings' documentary: https://www.nationearth.com/ to learn more about the large scale meat industry.

RE: I don't even know where to start on your claims about climate models but it just goes to show what I said before. You are not actually conducting in a scientific discussion but an ideological one.

Those are not my claims. Here is just a couple of examples how models are used:

https://phys.org/news/2018-01-effect-climate-crop-yields.htm... https://ccafs.cgiar.org/fr/node/50593

RE: If you truly believed what you are claiming you wouldn't be using your computer to discuss with strangers and a host of other things I am sure you are doing.

So if I don't live like pre-industrial people, I'm not reducing my carbon footprint? That's seems very black & white to me. Like I said it's gradual. I can live happily without meat. I can't live without a computer, as I wouldn't be able to do my job.

RE: That's why environmentalism is modern religion like Scientology

I think that's a bit strong. It's not that B&W. It's more on a spectrum, e.g. some environmentalists should probably be more open to newer and safe nuclear reactors or fusion tech.

RE: we can deal with these problems

Well, maybe we have the tech, but we weren't prepared, e.g. we couldn't really stop the fires in California or more severe floods and other extreme weather.

Anyway, I get what you're saying, i.e. there is no consensus on the dangers and effects on climate change. But I think you also have to use your common sense. There were other examples in this thread - people observing how things changed for the worse in their lifetime. Investing more heavily in cleantech now and being more serious about doing things which don't pollute and destroy our environment can only be a good thing.

The collapse of the entire food chain? Insect biomass is down 80% in the last 40 years. Ocean phytoplankton is down 40% since 1950. Both are attributed to climate change. These things are at the bottom of the land and sea food chains respectively. If the food chain collapses completely, we will all starve.

This is not a gradual change of the type we need to learn to adapt to. This is a sudden, full-blown, in-progress apocalypse of a scale only seen once before in Earth's history.

Care to point to the scientific demonstrated evidence that the food chain is collapsing?

We are much more people today when we were in the 50ies yet we are doing much better.

So once again besides all the speculation what can you prove?

I don't care about speculations i was asking about demonstrated evidence.

I just gave you two pieces of evidence.

How many people have to die for you to consider it a threat to humanity. Not trying to be dramatic, just understand that small changes in climate and crops have the potential to starve millions if not billions.

For humanity to be properly threatened the threat needs to make humanity stop existing. Starving/dying people are bad, but not unusual even in current day to day life. It might even ramp up, that's really bad. But that doesn't make it a threat to humanity as a whole.

I take the question as humanity as a whole, not just the existence of humanity. If something is capable of wiping out 50% of humanity, I consider that a threat. I understand what you're saying though.

Can you point to where it's been demonstrated that climate change will wipe out 50% of humanity?

50% was an arbitrary percentage, does it matter? My point was where do you draw the line? My thought is that a billion people dying constitutes a threat to humanity. The reality is we don't know exactly how we'll react to climate change but it is in the realm of possibility that there will be significant losses to crop productivity in places like India.

Again. Can you point to the evidence that billions will die?

People die every day from nature already and already have. We've become better and better at dealing with nature.

Many things are in the realm of possibility big astroid hitting earth is certainly going to be quite dramatic and in the billions.

We aren't just dealing with one scenario here there are many ways that billions can be affected.

So why try to force solar and wind when they can't even deliver the amount of energy we need, they aren't stable and they aren't even close to being green either.

It's much more responsible to keep using the resources we have, become better at utilizing them keep developing new methods.

This idea that we can push some pause button and still get people out of poverty and make peoples lives safer or whatever it is people are suggesting is simply out of touch with any reasonable measure up against the consequences of climate change we can actually predict.

I feel like I need to weigh in here: You're taking this a bit too far. I didn't mean to imply anywhere that nothing needs to be done about climate change. I think it is essential that we do, and demanding "evidence that billions will die" is to my mind perhaps being purposely deaf to the reality of the situation as it is and will be.

"Science is not about consensus. Science is what can be tested and thus demonstrated." - ThomPete above

ThomPete on this page is, it seems, holding people to impossible standards and then complaining that they're not met.

I have no idea what they mean "If someone want to convince me...they need to explain to me what scientifically demonstrated consequences of climate change...won't we be able to deal with 50-100 year from now." .. "There is no shortage of speculated outcomes. What there is a shortage of is demonstrated outcomes"

A shortage of what?! One is supposed to demonstrate the future somehow, or give a deductive proof, or something? What would count as evidence that events predicted by scientists will occur? I'm not sure. Nothing, it seems.

It seems any prediction or forecast about almost anything can equally be called 'certainly not scientific', 'politics masquaraded as science', 'speculations...not scientifically demonstrated' etc etc.

I guess the probability of asteroids hitting the earth is independent of the stuff happening here, of human plans and actions, so can't similarly be accused of being politics in disguise. But most issues on this planet - all the other ones I can think of - aren't of that kind.

One is supposed to at least entertain the idea that there is no consensus about "the sky is falling" claims we see in the media and pushed by politicians.

So no I am not holding anything to impossible standards I am simply saying that currently none of the consequences of climate change are things we can't deal with.

And yes predictions or forecast about almost anything can equally be called not scientific which would be a welcome change compared to the discussion we have today where bogus claims like "i believe in science" or "97% of scientists" agree are being used as ways to shut down any dissent from the catastrophist interpretation of the actual data.

I think you are missing the point here.

The question isn't whether we should do something but what we should do.

The catastrophist claims basically opens up for a lot of really really expensive and ultimately useless solutions.

As an example wind and solar which isn't even providing 1% of the worlds energy consumption yet touted as the great savior.

When "the sky is falling" claims are going mainstream that opens up for almost any extreme solution no matter the cost.

Of course we should do something about fossil fuels if nothing else for the pollution, but we already are and that's good enough compared to what the demonstrated consequences of Climate change is.

I'm not sure why you're so against any sort of action here, but I am sure that that attitude is part of the reason we should be worried.

Why are you assuming I want to force solar and wind? What if I'm a huge proponent of nuclear power? What if I don't have a solution. What if I'm just trying to point out that we're in trouble.

"It's much more responsible to keep using the resources we have, become better at utilizing them keep developing new methods."

Can you explain this fully. What specifically are you planning we do? How will that correlate to the rise in global temperatures.

I know this is xkcd but I think it's pretty effective at conveying what we're up against: https://xkcd.com/1732/

I am not against any sort of action. I am just not for overinvesting in inferior products like solar and wind and claiming the sky is falling as if we are doomed if we don't go to some sort of extreme. We don't need governments to pick winners it's a waste of resources. We need them to state what criteria energy production should meet. That's how you do things rationally and with your head rather than your emotions.

I could ask you another question. How far are you ready to go? Are you going to war with China over coal? With India? Are you going to hinder developing countries from using fossil fuels?

If you really believe it's catastrophic then drastic measures are going to be needed not just feel good things like going vegan and saying "i believe in climate change"

The cynical answer is about 7-15: themselves, their family and close friends. Or at least thats how it appears in the US given how little we do about it, even though we (half) give it plenty of lip service.

What do you want to do exactly about it which won't itself potentially cause harm and that you know will help.

What kind of question is that? Do you seriously expect me to give an "exact" solution? Furthermore how many complicated issues have solutions that have no potential to cause harm and are guaranteed to help. I think it is pretty clear at this point that there is no magic solution to climate change and we have to make some collective sacrifices. Individually I did make a "sacrifice" by going vegan. After 3 years I haven't noticed any harm and I'm confident it has helped about epsilon amount. I guess that fits your criteria.

And my question again is simply what do you propose we should do collectively that's not going to be just as big a threat itself?

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