We can't see below the waves, so it's easy for us to ignore what is going on down there. Massive overfishing and acidification is having huge impacts, not to mention the falling levels of oxygen in the water.
on edit: typo, changed out to our.
-- Franz Kafka
And it just occured to me that the following quote expresses exactly what I'm trying to say if you change "loving" to "solving problems impacting poor people and future generations, and not creating them by running away from other problems or just out of sheer selfishness or boredom". I put it like thast because it's already acceptable to "look out for number one", it's just the "irrational" stuff, having caring about people who don't even exist yet, as well as animals and plants that can't even sue us, that we are still having problems with.
> Because one does not see that love is an activity, a power of the soul, one believes that all that is necessary to find is the right object - and that everything goes by itself afterward. This attitude can be compared to that of the man who wants to paint but who, instead of learning the art, claims that he just has to wait for the right object - and that he will paint beautifully when he finds it.
- Erich Fromm
Yes, we need big solutions, of course this can't be solved by people just buying a little less and recycling. But still, I kinda feel it's weird to think assume we would do the right thing at large scale, if only we knew the exact right thing to tackle, when we aren't even doing it at smaller (and supposedly easier) scale.
Sorry for basically just posting a bunch of quotes, but now that I thought of it, it just seems too fitting not to:
> A tiger catches a mouse with his whole strength. A tiger does not ignore or slight any small animal. The way he catches a mouse and the way he catches and devours a cow is the same. But usually, although you have many problems, you think they are minor, so you don’t think it is necessary to exert yourself... So even though the problems you have in your everyday life are small, unless you know how to solve them you will have big difficulties.
-- Shunryu Suzuki
Around 7.55 billion with something like three more every second. 
Since muslims believe in basically the same god it gives you 54% (jews are rather insignificant portion of population). It still means 3.5 billions currently (and historically over 100 billion) are breaking 10 core amendments and should burn in hell eternally (grossly oversimplified obviously).
You can't just bring rationality, common sense or critical thinking into most current religions, they fall apart like house of cards.
I wish there would be some new major religion that would only preach a single thing - be a nice, good person to yourself and every sentient living creature out there. Nothing more required.
Not sure what you mean by that - you seem to be not very politely saying I got the stat wrong? I was referring to the line:
"No Religion affiliation (16%): atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion."
- which I think it's fair to summarize as "non-religious". (And 15.5% are catholic apparently)
edit: ..Although when I was at my most religious, 25 years ago, I didn't 'identify with any particular religion' but felt very close to a number of different ones - Hindu gurus, christian mystics, buddhism of various types, sufis etc.
Population is already an issue, this isn't some future problem.
Any single person can probably get away with not doing anything, and the problems will seem to magically go away, but they only do so because some people act. (And usually it takes a lot of people.)
Just to cover one angle (IMO most likely one): reduced living space (sea rise) and food shortages will cause massive migrations. Think how the whole EU went basically insane over a bunch of refugees from Syria (and the aftershocks still threaten to shake it apart). Climate-change induced migrations will be much larger, and this time around actually backed by countries people are fleeing. Wars are likely. Proxy wars are likely too. And nukes won't be off the table either.
Even if you live so far inland that waters can't get to you, people will. And if you survive that, then lack of people will get to you as the global supply chain stretches to a breaking point and suddenly no one can make anything as all the components came from China. The lifestyle we're all used to depends on global-scale systems with single points of failure.
It's not the earth anyone needs to worry about, it's the humans. We've not been through worse and our smaller challenges often have catastrophic outcomes.
I know people talk in hyperbole to make a point but can you point to any credible source in the last 30 years stating we are close to total annilhilation within the next 50 years? No one doubts the Earth will be fine. The doubt is whether or not human civilization will be fine.
It's civilization where you get to walk to the store and buy a week's supply of food in exchange for money, and expect to do so the next week just as easily, which is in doubt.
This got down-voted to hell, which is odd, because it rings true.
The "total annihilation" isn't even that hyperbolic. I've seen comments here on HN that depict our world as under imminent threat of global nuclear war, or that depict our world as suffering from a mass extinction (caused by humans) that will end all life as we know it.
I believe those statements are the hyperbolic ones, and one should be allowed to call them out for that.
"I have the story of a turkey that is fed for 1,000 days by a butcher, and every day confirms to the turkey and the turkey’s economics department and the turkey’s risk management department and the turkey’s analytical department that the butcher loves turkeys, and every day brings more confidence to the statement. So it’s fed for 1,000 days… "
Every day somebody was able (even accidentally) to start the nuclear annihilation of the whole world (hint: it's not "just a president" who can do that, but many, many more): the complex systems and the war plans are actually maintained in which everything happens in just a few hours.
Our statistics that it didn't happen yet is not a proof that an "accident" (oh, sorry, it was an error!) can't very easily happen any moment now.
Observing a pond exclusively frequented by white swans in the past is not proof that black swans don't exist, but from that fact alone you cannot derive any reasonable expectation of seeing a black swan upon a random visit to the same pond.
I read a lot about history and the one common thread that appears over and over again is that history is only repeating until it stops doing so. So many cycles that must have seemed eternal to those inside have eventually come to an end. One day, every Cassandra will be right.
Just to show that the history-repeating argument can be made ad absurdum both ways.
We have ample empirical evidence that drunk driving poses a significant risk of killing someone, hence there should be a non-trival level of expectation of this outcome.
We have absolutely zero empirical evidence as to what actions may trigger a nuclear holocaust, and we're currently not seeing any of the popularly accepted causes for the 5 mass extinctions of the past.
I thought that overfishing the kinds of big fish we like to eat will just lead to a growing population of smaller fish and other marine life.
What I'm also saying is that I think that other fish (or lifeforms in general) will take their place.
I agree that the oceans change - a lot - due to human influence. Some species will dwindle in numbers and disappear. It takes a long time for new species to emerge. But what I'm not so sure is that the overall change necessarily would have to be so negative in the long run.
This seems a little disconcerting, and not for the reasons you might think. I feel as though society is so caught up in the rat race (literally!) that we simply don't give a damn about what is happening to the planet anymore.
And I know there are a lot of strong characters on HN who love to talk their way out of any conversation, but what's needed on this planet is a massive awakening to the fact that you cannot expect to exhaust Earth's resources without paying a price for it.
It's kind of funny how even the tech industry (presumably smart people..) overlook the very fundamentals of supply and demand. We all know about the story of Tibet vs. China, but does everyone know that Tibet is a lithium goldmine? 
Let me guess... China "did not" invade Tibet for its resources... it was simply an emotional grudge! And tell me even more, how safe we are and ample supply there is for all the world's necessities...
The UN can't and won't do anything. And everyone who is 'using' these resources has such strong ties in the political systems that we won't see any significant change any time soon.
And you know the saddest part? This is all because of money and self-projected power. And at what expense? A planet that is supposed to be taken care of by its people?
This is the fundamental human flaw, exhaust everything until there is none left and move on to the next thing...
I can already hear the justified screams, "Elon will take us to the Mars!".
It's not because of we are breeding more but much much better health care, sanitary and less people killed in war. The growth rate is lowering, some countries such as Japan, Germany or Korea will have their population shrink a lot in the future.
> This is the fundamental human flaw, exhaust everything until there is none left and move on to the next thing...
It's easy to think that way, but environmentalism only started to have real traction in the last 50 years (correct me if I'm wrong). And during those 50 years we have achieved a lot: patching the ozone, reduce automobile pollution by having much stricter emission standards etc... It show that humanity is capable of learning and willing to correct their errors, not just a hungry species exists only to consume.
You are wrong. In Papua and certain other islands it had started ca 3 thousand years ago. In Japan and Central Europe in XVII century, in parts of Italy in XVIII century..
This line of thinking is morally abhorrent at best.
Of course currently a lot of the externalities are not priced into products. Most important of them all is GHG emissions.
Not all is equal, but in the near future, many more people will transition into more wasteful lifestyle than people switching to less wasteful lifestyle.
But. Fun fact. The cost of the invasion and maintained military (governmental, and of other kinds) presence is probably higher than buying lithium and water treatment solutions on the market.
China did it for the same reason Russia attacked Ukraine. To have more controlled territory as a buffer against "geopolitical aggression" (full out war or just friendly soft power diplomatic pushback against their totalitarianism). This made 100% sense for them just for the border control. The natural resources is just the cherry on top.
Congratulations, you're one of the today's lucky 10000 :) . That's the exponential growth. It seems shocking when you fully comprehend its shape for the first time.
(Also a spoiler: "we're using more of resource X now than all our use in the past combined" is true at any point in time under exponential growth, too.)
People don't notice it in case of many things because it's a natural consequence of independent agents doing the same thing. I'm reminded of the story about bacteria in a bottle: on 11:00 you have a single one, their number doubles every minute, and you know that on 12:00 they'll fill the entire bottle. Q: at which point the bacteria will notice they're running out of space? A: somewhere after 11:59.
Wouldn't go that far. This is a fundamental flaw of life itself. Humans, in fact, are probably the only living thing on this planet that is capable of self-moderation. Life in general is moderated by death. Animals reproduce until they either exceed the food supply and start starving, or their abundance causes predator populations to grow (and they grow until they eat most of the prey, and then starve, starting the cycle anew) This is nature's self-regulation, and it's present at every level - from animals to bacteria. Yes, it would be best if we could moderate ourselves a bit more, but it's worth stopping and considering sometimes how unnatural moderation is, before condemning humans as some aberrant creatures.
> I can already hear the justified screams, "Elon will take us to the Mars!".
Oh come on :). Elon wants to take people to Mars so that they live happily on two planets, thus mitigating some x-risks like killer asteroids, or biotech fuckups. He never endorsed the idea of giving up on Earth. Settling Mars long-term ain't easier than surviving here anyway, and there's a huge overlap in technologies needed - especially if we can't coordinate internationally to unfuck the climate in the first place.
 - https://xkcd.com/1053/
The "non western / non 1st world" segment of the population have a lot of other things to worry about, such as "how am I going to keep a roof over the head of my family and put food on the table" even though these people often live a subsistence-type living, where at the very least some part of their regular calories come directly from small-scale farming / hunting / fishing, and they experience first-hand the impact of climate change.
As George Carlin astutely observed: "The planet doesn't need saving. It will adapt to the new paradigm, and continue to exist. The people need saving".
I strongly believe he hit the nail on the head, and we should really change the narrative from "save the oceans / forests / animals / planet" to "save humanity". It should be abundantly clear that in practical terms, nobody gives a fuck about saving the environment. Maybe they care about saving their children.
I really think that saving our species starts with eradicating poverty, ensuring that 100% of the global population doesn't need to worry about water, food, shelter, healthcare and education. I don't know what the best path would be to achieve this, but I have a feeling that if we would stop spending on warfare, significantly increase top-level corporate taxation and funnel that money instead to providing everyone with the basic needs, and combine that with a concentrated global effort on researching and implementing truly sustainable energy generation and associated heat removal we'd be off to a good start.
Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, we have not evolved much past the "apes with sticks around the watering hole" stage, so the chances of that coming to pass are statistically nil.
Yes, but in the reverse order.
To be able to spend resources on any of that you need educated people who understand this. Who allow themselves to empathize with others, don't give in to their more-or-less innate xenophobia (and other kinds of ingroup vs outgroup hysteria), and so on.
They are quite attainable, it is just that most people don't feel the urgency of preventing an extinction event or they feel like "individual change" is more important than societal change. (Eg, Extinction Rebellion is one subgroup that does get the urgency)
They probably are unattainable, but that's only because we (an electorally significant subset anyway) opted to sit on our asses for 30 years. The Kyoto protocol (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol) was the largest international collective effort and ignored by certain selfish countries.
Every significant challenge humans have faced in history has probably felt like that.
That isn't to say we'll definitely solve the challenges facing us now. We might not. It's just that how we feel about the problem isn't actually very useful besides being good motivation to actually try.
I'm thinking of something like planting trees: order a free tree (government paid) in the mail, pick a spot and plant it.
Can we do the equivalent and plant a kelp bed or the equivalent for different ocean conditions? https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/plants-and-...
If the “stuff” for example comes from recycled, fairly low emissions techniques of manufacturing combined renewable energy, who care? This is just generalising and it’s not realistic.
Ultimately burning coal for power generation and using oil for transport are the main culprits.
Eating less meat seems sensible, but it’s still not easy either, getting enough protein from a vegetarian diet is challenging for many.
I'm no elite athlete but I've been vegan 3 years. In those 3 years I've completed 2 Ironmans with no meat/eggs/dairy, no protein supplementation and no issues whatsoever.
Still, eating less meat would not help at all. Biggest polluters and energy users are industries not related to food.
Individuals are not to blame for their consumption, unless we blame them for adjusting their morals to fit their immoral companies.
It's inexpensive, easy, filling, healthy and tasty as all get-out.
Along with pan-fried mushrooms and onions mixed with bulgur (also an Ottolenghi recipe), it was extremely satisfying.
It's a major problem that we are now eating the equivalent of the sunday roast every single day. We should go back to making big cuts of meat a rare treat, and make most days meat-free.
I also agree that individual action won't change much by itself, but we should still do it, and work to hold corporations responsible for their environmental conduct.
> Ultimately burning coal for power generation and using oil for transport are the main culprits.
And all the stuff mentioned requires both. Huge transport ships produce more pollution than all cars of the world combined. But many like to buy 0.99$ gadgets from China, shipping included, right?
That's not really true. They produce more of one type. (SO2) But certainly not more by volume, or by GHG content.
That said, shipping uses bunker oil, which is a nasty piece of work.
And we should transition to electrified rail based shipping, powered by nuclear and renewables. But Hawaii is out of luck, at least Eurasia can be connected to the Americas sort of easily at the Bering strait.
No poor illiterate guy in 3rd world country will think like that. They will have 10 kids, and their kids will have 10 kids unless eventually lifted from poverty. They are not going to fix these issues by themselves.
If you are afraid of long term commitment and dedicating big part of your life to raising a good balanced human being(s), that's another story. But if you are smart, well-off, you would do MUCH better for our future to raise next generation of environment-conscious citizens of this world.
This seems bullshit. There are probably a few thousand serial killers, but there are vastly more eco-firendly people, who all are trying to solve global warming, and a lot of them are actually solving it. Every time they vote for a candidate that is eco-friendly, every time they make decisions that are aligned with the goal.
So stopping immigration will help,maybe, in the short term but the earth doesn't care for what happens in next 4-5 years. The earth does care if resource consumption increases exponentially over the next century.
Since I'm guessing that you won't do that, how about reduce the 8.5 tons number down to something more reasonable in your own country? Why not make your country more like 1 ton, and invite everyone you can, so that carbon emissions are lower for everyone, and your own country is responsible enough to control that?
We are ripping planet resources for short term gain. I hope that out there are some good planets on sale, because in the current course of action we will need one.
> "As oxygen-rich regions become scarcer, current fish habitats will also shrink and force economically important species—such as tuna, which globally generate an estimated $42 billion annually—into new ranges."
Most of the articles seem to cater to that line of though. Think about the economy! Will we let the planet die if it was good for the economy?
1% growth annually is more than a doubling every century. Speaking on a quantitative level, that seems insane to contemplate.
Care to expand on that? I haven't thought it through very deeply, but are there some options that could be ethically acceptable? Reproducing until we run out of resources doesn't seem like a great alternative and I struggle to see that as more ethical.
Personally I think that monetary incentives not to reproduce could be a good option.
Deciding who can reproduce and who cannot is generally seen as the most evil thing next to outright killing. Because it can be used (and was used!) as a form of soft genocide and because it goes completely against the individualism that derives from a non-collectivist reading of equality. That's like giving the finger to 300 years of progressive history. But reproduction controls are not uncommon in other/earlier societies. Strict marriage requirements don't put a cap on children per marriage, but marriage was often a privilege, requiring land, some lord's permission or just a hefty bride price. Of course those where all in the context of seemingly unconstrained growth headroom and the motivation was mostly child welfare (or just a show of power). Nonetheless, once progressive individualism had liberated is from those limits, the number of childless individuals has fallen quite a bit I think. (I'm not an historical anthropologist or whatever field would actually research that, this is just my personal impression)
So much for why the topic is such a hot potato. Particularly principled persons might actually prefer to knowingly condemn everyone to heroic starvation than ever allowing reproduction controls.
A look at Chinese 1CP (an outside, uninformed look but still a look, ok?): it tried to be fair, in a socialistic way. Everyone can have one child! But the most notorious side effects, like the mysterious case of the gender imbalance and the loss of siblinghood are not generally inherent to reproduction control, they are specific to their method of making it fair. But 1CP was an extreme measure anyways, 2CP and the fair way becomes perfectly fine I guess. Except for the issue of enforcement of course, basically unsolved.
This is where incentives come into the picture. But they will forever be at odds with the desire to avoid child poverty, it's difficult.
I'm not saying, at all, that the "invisible hand" will sort it out by itself. Agreed: that's ridicilously naive, or worse (bad faith).
I mean that if regulators force the costs of externalities into the market, things could work out.
When I'm shopping for milk, my local grocery has options like organic, and locally produced (within county). Which is the green choice? Soy milk is likely less co2 intensive, but then again it's shipped from across the globe. I do not know. And this is just milk.
I'd prefer the govt to tax greenhouse gases to oblivion. Then it becomes easy for me and others.
Ok that isn't the only issue, but it seems to be a big one.
In that same time frame most cars will be electric. There are also signs that ships and planes will be running on a combination of fuel cells and batteries in the next few decades as well. So, basically the entire transport and energy sector are in the process of cleaning up their act and progress is very rapid there; driven by cost and other advantages.
The next issue is fixing agriculture. We've turned quite a bit of land into desert the last century. Turning that around is going to require a bit of out of the box thinking but it is not impossible. Apparently soil can capture a lot of carbon, which gets released when the land dries out. So the existing practices of abusing the land with mono culture crops is very destructive. User of fertilizers and pesticides kills the soil. Plowing and burning kill it further. Wind and rain erodes soil that has nothing growing on it. That's the recent history of a lot of newly created desert.
So, fixing this would be a big deal and there are some people who are arguing this is a reversible process. Doing so, would produce usable farm land in the and turn currently useless land back into productive land. And if you consider planned grazing as part of the solution (some people do), that would fix a sustainable source of meat as well.
So, there's reason to be optimistic. I do feel the incentives are wrong, all of the above is happening because it is more economical. Being cleaner is a useful side-effect but we should drive home the point that it is more economical. Making clean the obvious economical choice is the key to speeding this up. Subsidize good things, tax bad things, put a stop to bad practices. Some countries are still getting this quite wrong by doing the opposite.
Note that we have been underestimating the long-term effects of climate change routinely for the past 20 years, and even then people are calling the conclusions "exaggerated" and wonder what is the point.
If you read some of the sources from Wikipedia, some projections estimate more than 2.4 meters rise.
Bangladesh is the poster child for rising sea level dangers. It's not just about loss of coastal areas (40%), but also increased salinity in drinking water, less fertile lands. People will lose their houses and starve.
Globally, the consequences are so spread and so complex that it's really hard to grasp. So, yes, we should do something. Unless you say you understand all the consequences and assume them, but frankly I would not believe you.
I am also just baffled you would put some monetary tokens we literally made up as higher priority than the real, physical environment you live in. We will spend countless more money surviving and adapting. It will be an economic disaster as well as an environmental one.
It does. Because culling the human population by, say 50% in one step, would that lead to positive or negative effects in the context of climate change, ecosystems and overpopulation? Esp. if you choose the "right" half of people who are least essential for the global economy?
You'd kill off 4 billion people who's emissions are more or less rounding errors instead of the ~1 billion responsible for the vast majority of them?
Could you clarify what you mean by “least essential for the global economy”
Even the worst case predictions do not predict that. The predict some species extinction, migration off the coast, and changes in the the weather - yes. But not "a holocaust" or anything like that.
>>>The changing climatic conditions, from temperature to wind speed, didn’t appear to impact the species.
Do you have any idea what democracies are capable of becoming when faced with mass migration and resource shortage?
Genocide: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.
Emphasis my own.
(The USA is quite close to the bottom of the list)
Additionally, their gasoline price per gallon (converted to USD) is also in the top 10, while the USA is near the bottom (only Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran have lower gasoline prices)
The carmaker lobby has a lot of influence on the German government, and obviously "jobs!" is important to politicians (if they want to remain in power, they'd do anything to keep their voters employed, if that means keeping the car industry running while sacrificing the environment...).
And there are still unrestricted speed autobahns because why would people buy BMWs or Porsches otherwise? Even though going really fast is really bad to the environment.