There appear to be several sets of weasel-words candidates .. Such as "many scientists applaud X but some urge caution" without naming either side's strengths and weaknesses, notable refutation on either side, or any raw counts of how many "some" are...
Recently it was discovered that USA oil and gas industry self-reporting of methane emissions on extraction in the Permian Basin might be five times less than actual numbers, and might have doubled in the last two years. This was detected by satellite sensors and NGO analysis.
I would go further and say it's not only possible, it's likely.....similar to how articles from the opposing viewpoint are promoted, also often full of weasel words to some varying degree depending on the specific topic. Much of science discussion in the mainstream is actually a bit of a meme war, but this has probably always been true.
Daniel Dennett: Memes 101 | How Cultural Evolution Works
Replace religion with "fundamentalism, of any kind":
And the half-life is a ~decade, with constant replenishment that's enough to have a significant effect that the same carbon emitted as CO2 would not have.
So they're really not that different. Neither is a "long term" threat -- if we stopped emissions entirely the climate would be expected to return to a pre-civilization equilibrium on the scale of decades.
That only can be true if the resultant warming over those decades isn't significant enough to kick off other feedback loops or cause ecosystem collapse. For instance, the caps melting and lowering the planetary albedo, ocean acidification, etc. If these things happen too quickly, you're going to see a serious and nasty extinction event happen. Sure, not all life forms will die - archaea are pretty hearty after all, but it isn't going to be pretty for most complex lifeforms adapted to the climate of the current era.
> Figure 8.29 Development of AGWP-CO2, AGWP-CH4 and GWP-CH4 with time horizon. The yellow and blue curves show how the AGWPs changes with increasing time horizon. Because of the integrative nature the AGWP for CH4 (yellow curve) reaches a constant level after about five decades. The AGWP for CO2 continues to increase for centuries. Thus the ratio which is the GWP (black curve) falls with increasing time horizon.
That is, CO2 greenhouse forcing continues for centuries. Back when I worked on this stuff, we used an approximate half life of 250 years. But it's really more complicated. That IPCC report says this, on page 737:
> No single lifetime can be given [for CO2]. The impulse response function for CO2 from Joos et al. (2013) has been used. See also Supplementary Material Section 8.SM.11.
From Joos et al. (2013):
> The CO2 response shows the known rapid decline in the first few decades followed by a millennium-scale tail. For a 100 Gt-C emission pulse added to a constant CO2 concentration of 389 ppm, 25±9 % is still found in the atmosphere after 1000 yr; the ocean has absorbed 59±12 % and the land the remainder (16±14 %).
Here is a link that argues the opposite side:
"What really governs the warming potential is how long the extra CO2 remains in the atmosphere. CO2 is essentially chemically inert in the atmosphere and is only removed by biological uptake and by dissolving into the ocean. Biological uptake (with the exception of fossil fuel formation) is carbon neutral: Every tree that grows will eventually die and decompose, thereby releasing CO2."
> if we stopped emissions entirely the climate would be expected to return to a pre-civilization equilibrium on the scale of decades.
Do you have any links to research which backs up this quote? Because I would love to believe it.
The main accusation you make, that I (and other who are promoting this article) are suggesting that the scientists don't know what they are talking about, I actually plead guilty for that. I really do think we don't know what we're talking about anythign other than the primary assertion that we are warming this planet through our actions. I don't believe we actually have a real handle on the rate (we could be drastically under or overestimating) of climate change, and I definitely don't think we have an inkling on whether geoengineering efforts would work the way we expect it to.
The main light bulb for me from this article is it has made me consider even planting trees as a geoengineering effort, as vicarious as other proposals like dumping iron in the ocean or particles into the stratosphere. Right now I would consider any effort at controlling global warming other than actually just reducing emissions as geoengineering.
The most apt analogy I have found for geoengineering efforts like this was given by the comedian Bill Burr in a podcast, where he shits on a Ted talk about genetically engineering malaria mosquitos (https://youtu.be/vEZ0z0WSrUA ).
I have seen similar over-confidence among my fellow scientitsts in biology, in complicated subjects like cancer, immunology and metabolism. Time and again, people will assert they have understood a system, make a drug, and it won't work, and then they will blame the failure on the same complexity they said they had conquered.
We have made tremendous progress on all these scientific fronts (biology, climate science, etc) but the systems under study have become so complex, I would consider it a criminal offense if any scientist makes a claim that they really have figured out all the ramifications of their geoengineering plans. Criminal because I am worried that any major geoengineering effort if it goes wrong might be irreversible. Orders of magnitude more studies are needed IMO to make sure we understand these systems, and I don't think we are going to invest that effort until things get far, far worse. Until then I would prefer we err on the side of caution.
Btw it's not just methane, they actually talk about a bunch of other potential issues (like VOCs) in that article. Also, this is nature mag, if you think nature mag is anti-science or climate change denying I'm not sure who else you think is your ally.
A couple weeks ago I read a different article on Nature that claimed that "Restoring natural forests is the best way to remove atmospheric carbon" (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01026-8).
I added it then to some notes I've been taking, listing evidence for and against claims, which I was able to update quite a bit today using information from the article you posted: https://www.wikiclaim.org/index.php?title=Increasing_foreste...
FUD tactics are certainly an issue to keep in mind, but I do like to be able to consider all the available evidence when assessing claims. Thanks!
Would you mind explaining this bit? Besides , which hardly changes the big picture and came out literally last month, what evidence have you seen in the last couple decades of following climate change that suggest to you that the likelihood that we have been "drastically overestimating" the rate is anything comparable to the likelihood that we have been correct (if not underestimating)? From as far back as I can remember, the predictions have only stayed about the same or gotten more dire. They used to say weather patterns would get more intense, with more storms etc., and they indeed have. They say sea levels would rise and I really have no reason to believe they cannot calculate the rise correctly. I would think that if climate scientists had no idea what they're talking about, we could point to their erroneous predictions and prove them wrong?
However, I will also not be surprised if things get far worse extremely fast, or if they actually suddenly start getting better (or slowing down). My only rationale for this belief is that as we go into warmer and warmer climate, we are also going into a territory that the scientists themselves have no real data for - literally uncharted territory. I'm sure they have run models to extrapolate their predictions but the actual fact that we are already experiencing climate that has not been seen for however amount of time means any prediction has to be taken with a slight grain of salt.
Practically speaking, we always hear of the finding that global warming might release methane bodies or it's turning into a runaway chain reaction. We don't even know how many other chain reaction scenarios exist that have not even been considered. Similarly (though with orders of magnitude less likelihood even for me), there exists possibilities that excessive warming into uncharted temperatures might trigger some feedback that might slow this warming too. I'm not counting on it but I am not ready to % exclude it yet either.
I very much doubt this is the case.
What is happening to the world can be explained by science and using scientific principles the changes can be predicted by modelling.
The hard part is creating the model, only because the problem domain is very complex. But what we have seen, is over time that modelling has been getting better.
Now if there was some possibilities that excessive warming into uncharted temperatures might trigger some sort of cooling effect then surely that would have come out in the modelling.
Overpopulation is something that, if real, will have an impact regardless of the motivation for people's concern. It's not purely a social construct like say the wearing of tattoos.
It's lazy to dismiss such serious concerns with appeals to hypocrisy. Even if 100% of the people making such claims now are actually hypocrites, your voice could improve the ratio to only 99.9999%
> Overpopulation is something that, if real, will have an impact regardless of the motivation for people's concern
"If real", that is the key, and I am glad you pointed it out. For the sake of argument, we would first have to define why overpopulation real. It seems to me most people start off with the assumption that it is real.
Who is defining overpopulation? What is the criteria? Not enough food? Well that's not true at all, we know that the US for example wastes more food daily that could feed the entire continent of Africa with 1/3rd of a pound of food. Not enough land for people to expand to? Well even a 5 year old knows that one is false. Is it not enough natural resources? Despite the fearmongering about water and energy resources drying up, we seem to be doing just fine. Capitalists reaping the country to sell to a nation of consumers? This is the most insidious form of the argument, but again, very wrong. Plus it assumes greedy capitalists somehow wouldn't exist with 5 billion people, or 3, or 2, or even 1, that wouldn't cause some kind of destruction to natural resources. The final one is one made more by hard left academics in favor of socialism. They need an easy explanation for why socialism always sounds so great in theory and never works in practice, so they point to overpopulation. If we simply had less people, then socialism would work!. Except, as we now know, this was in part one of the rationales behind the gulags and gas chambers.
So what is the criteria? Not comfortable enough for you and me -- that seems to be the essence of the arguments left after eliminating the ones above.
Plus, even if the above were remotely true, why rule out technological solutions? Seems to me pretty crazy people on a technology focused board would rule this one out (not singling you out, "overpopulation is a problem" is an opinion expressed here often, unfortunately), especially since it was technology that has allowed us to easily achieve our current population levels at the exploding standard of living the globe is currently undergoing.
People who think overpopulation is an issue by just pointing to some things "drying up" or some places "crowding" is by definition engaging in a lazy form of argument. So to me, until there some hard facts and figures on what overpopulation means, please excuse me if I take it for a hypocritical statement, as the great Carlin said, made by bourgeois liberals that have never experienced actual hardships and live in such an advanced society they have nothing better to do than ponder the scenarios where their cushy lifestyles could be threatened.
When you don't have any actual enemies to fight, you have to invent some in your head to keep you busy.
Don't be hell-bent on trying to comprehend mechanics of Earth atmosphere and finding 'scientific' solution to climate change. If you are aware of what has worked well until now for earth's climate then why not just follow it?
Clearly, that is not realistic. A more realistic (but still implausibly ambitious) goal would be increasing the earth's forests by 10%, storing 45 GtC for us. Well, it is better than nothing but at the current (increasing!) rate of 10 GtC emissions added per year that nets us another 4.5 years.
Major CO2 cuts would require a global all-cooperate (in a game theory sense) scenario and that's unlikely given that the payoff is very high for defecting. This is because global cuts in fossil fuel use would make fossil fuels incredibly cheap, increasing the economic advantage for nations that use them. This is going to be hugely appealing to developing nations with large populations. We already see this with China and India and pretty soon you're going to see it in Africa.
The only way I can see CO2 emission growth halting or reversing is a huge breakthrough in energy generation that results in something dramatically cheaper and easier to deploy and scale than fossil fuel. It would take Mr. Fusion (Back to the Future reference), solar and batteries that are just absolutely dirt cheap, or something equivalently awesome. I don't see anything like this arriving before CO2 hits 800-1000ppm.
We are pretty adaptable. A bio professor of mine was fond of saying that humans are like cockroaches and that this was a compliment coming from a biologist. We should be preparing to move Miami.
Trade policy (e.g. through the WTO) can be designed in a way that allows countries to internalise the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions by imposing higher tariffs on countries that do not cooperate.
The US is relatively high (but by no means the highest) in per capita CO2 while China is the #1 emitter in total and also per dollar GDP (last I checked). The per dollar GDP number would make China the largest emitter in terms of carbon intensity of its economic activity.
This old article from ScientificAmerican still keeps me up at night.
It scares the life out of me that even on HN, a community of generally scientifically-engaged people, the scale of the problem is often not understood.
We are literally looking at the end of civilisation as currently constituted, and billions dead, and we are not doing anything close to enough.
We already see ocean acidification and warming - if that triggers the release of methane deposits stored under the ocean, that's a potential extinction-level event (or at least a civilization reset back to the stone ages).
Another thing that might cause change to actually happen is if we're "lucky" enough to get a "minor" catastrophe that totally changes global opinion but isn't anywhere near as massive as the stuff you're talking about.
Sequestration of current forests, despite the fact they are currently being depleted rather than maintained or increased is estimated by studies to be equal to about 5% of current overall anthropogenic emissions. 
For in-depth advice see Chapter 11 of IPCC AR5 
Reducing emissions from deforestation; reducing emissions from forest degradation; conservation of forest carbon stocks; sustainable management of forests; and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD) consists of forest-related activities implemented voluntarily by developing countries that may, in isolation or jointly lead to significant
climate change mitigation. REDD was introduced in the agenda of the UNFCCC in 2005, and has since evolved to an improved understanding of the potential positive and negative impacts, methodological issues, safeguards, and financial aspects associated with REDD implementation.
The only time this was not true was during the carboniferous period.. before those microbes existed.. that's how we got coal. But that will never happen again.
> Clearly, that is not realistic.
It's perfectly realistic in terms of what the trees can do; it's happened before.
The question is whether we want to cede so much space to trees, which I agree that we don't.
Combined to NOT deforest so hard, and is a win.
Forest are a force multiplier.
A long time ago trees didn't decay because the Earth didn't have "fungus" that made them rot and decay. So they just piled on top of each other and turned into coal.
Plant more trees. https://onetreeplanted.org/
By extension, wooden building materials are carbon batteries as well. Plant more trees and build more things out of wood.
It seems the intuitively clear solutions often can be deceiving since there are hidden aspects balancing things out and I'm wondering if it's the case here.
Studies may look into possible mistakes or optimizations that could be made, but the basic material reality is evidenced in plain sight.
Having people planting and caring more about forest will not only help absorb a bit of CO2 but also make these people do less emitting.
Is it useless on a large scale ?
Video on Ocean Seeding - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xofhzc1NZ8s
That is totally fucked up. I don't recall hearing about death threats against scientists pre Internet. Maybe against some research on primates, but I'm not sure. Yet another consequence of Eternal September :(
> “I have heard scientists say that if we found forest loss cooled the planet, we wouldn’t publish it.”
That is also totally fucked up. But I guess that it's not that surprising. I mean, Kuhn and all.
Galileo? I imagine Darwin had his fair share. And those are obviously just the most famous examples.
Recently, of course, Christian and Muslim haters have threatened people who support evolution.
Darwin's personal preference to not be an asshole, was one reason On the Origin took twenty years to reach publication.
After publication, Darwin was fortunate to acquire celebrity bull-dogs such as Huxley, who would take up the cause and allow Darwin to continue his gentlemanly pursuits, out of the direct firing line.