- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papercrete
About the earthship I mentioned in that comment, which was made using non-traditional materials and techniques: I don't remember what materials were used, except that, IIRC, the creator said it was not cob. Mud was used, of course, that was clear from looking at it. So was glass for the windows. I mean the other materials - not sure about those. But it looked sturdy, and was huge.
Google "shirke siporex".
Among one of the initiatives mentioned is a startup called Tomorrow  that integrates with services (Uber, Instacart, etc) to calculate your personal CO2 emissions. They need help to get more of these integrations and more CO2 models. Consider giving a hand to them or other projects like this one .
I know this takes very long for thick structures, on the order of centuries. Does anyone have a good idea of just how long?
Anyway, if a cement plant starts capturing the CO2 released during production and disposing of it somewhere other than the atmosphere, it would become a CO2 sink as the cement would slowly consume CO2 as it cures.
And if the timescales are long enough the absorbtion still wouldn't bring you to net-zero because during the time the CO2 in the atmosphere it participated in positive feedback loops.
I have no idea how that compares to actual production emissions, though.
> Is there an easy way to answer the question "I just did environmentally bad thing X, now what can I do to offset that?"
Little bit but to seriously make an impact you might have to look for alternative sources of powering your life. But nevertheless every single bit helps. This climate change conundrum cannot be fixed without the entire planet committing to it.
Meat production is almost as much as transportation, roughly 17%.
Assuming switching to chicken reduces carbon by 12%, assuming carbon responsible for 250,000 death then meat consumption is responsible 30,000 ppl/year
Number of cows in u.s. 30,000,000 for 3% of global market
US market responsible for 900 deaths / year
140 chickens / cow(calorie wise)
estimated 20 years of life lost per death
18,000 QALY for 4.1 billion more chickens
Rough estimate of 2.3 minutes of human life gained per chicken raised
> People killed by climate change 250,000/year
Is that a current number? Or a projection of what might happen with 2 degree or 4 degree Celsius increase in temperature?
That 17% includes all transportation related to meat production. If meat was replaced by plant-based foods, not all of that transportation could be eliminated.
Processing and transportation of animal products is 6% of the meat production emissions. Feed production also involves transportation, that would add maybe half of that (3%).
And if the entire planet will not commit as you desire? Then what will you do? War is the ultimate extension of any policy; will you personally go kill other people because they burn oil?
I've got nothing against renewables, but don't like this kind of absolutist rhetoric.
You can do both. Campaign for political change and change your personal behaviour. I've done radical changes to my life at least last few years to reduce my pollution/co2 footprint and if more people think like this it _will_ help.
So saying that there is nothing that can be done on the individual level is quite dangerous as I personally think over time this will have the biggest effect as more and more people realise that is what has to be done.
Then you need the politicians to kick remaining ignorant part of the population into action.
In Ontario (Canada) we elected a conservative government who is running advertisements against the Federal Carbon Tax saying:
> “Ontario has a better way: holding the biggest polluters accountable; reducing trash; and keeping our lakes clean. A carbon tax isn’t the only way to fight climate change.”
My government thinks reducing trash and lake runoff is fighting climate change. Everything I've personally done; switching to public transit, flying less and buying my electricity from a green supplier has been swamped by this huge step backward at the political level.
Together we actually make a difference. Personally I also try to encourage friends and family in a non pushy way to attempt some of the things I do. Many respond positively, especially considering other benefits like eating more healthy and walking more.
With CO2 emissions we have a lot of individuals trying to make changes and again it's not really fixing things - CO2 levels keep going up. It's a bit trickier than the ozone thing though.
Reducing carbon emissions does so and due to that it requires knowledge and action from the individual I think as a politician trying to change people who do not want to change is doomed.
It is a lot trickier than the ozone issue and I think it requires action on all levels from the individual to the UN.
The price change will hopefully also accelerate R&D into alternatives which will also be a big part.
I'll admit that approach works better with a simpler less wide ranging issue. Examples off the top of my head, in the UK I don't believe you can buy non fair trade bananas from any of the major supermarkets, and most eggs now seem to be free range.
What are you comparing here? Could a mega farm invest in slightly more efficient processes than a mere 'very large farm'? Possibly. But by that time you've already got all the issues of grubbing up hedgerows, mono cropping, reliance on artificial fertilizers, soil erosion, etc.
A small organic subsistence farmer isn't going to have anywhere near the same impact. Now you may not be able to feed the world using that model, but I don't think its fair to say that the environmental impact is worse compared to intensive agriculture.
One example might be to institute a "carbon savings account" which individuals add to when they add solar panels, buy more efficient vehicles and appliances, reduce their heating bills... whatever's measureable. Mandatory restrictions on carbon-intensive activity (there's no way around that anyway) would enable spending these rewards.
Wouldn't a Carbon Tax do exactly that? At least it would bring your individual financial interests in line with with society's climate interests. It would mean that doing whatever costs you the least money is likewise best for your carbon footprint (which you would no longer have to think about in order to optimize).
Ah yes, the 1%, living in their mansions and driving Teslas to their summer homes, telling the rest of the world that they need to "make radical changes". Good luck with that.
* Use public transportation to work (bus/train)
* Drastically reduced meat consumption from every day to
once a week. I still eat fish about twice a week.
* Converted part of my garden (my house is 150 square meters so I wouldn't exactly call it a mansion) to a vegetable garden.
* Make sure the food I do buy is produced locally, it is clearly marked in the stores. I buy honey and eggs from the farm right next door.
* When I do go to the store I walk instead of driving.
* I bought but have not yet received an electric car. Yes it's a tesla but I have a normal job and with the way taxes are structured here it's a very common car on the road along with other electrics like leafs, e-trons, kias, e golfs etc.
* Not travelling too far for vacations, avoiding air travel as much as possible. Recently I've mostly use air due to work, but there too I often drive/take the train 8-10 hours instead of taking the plane.
There is plenty more to do, but for me personally I can't just sit idle and you have to start somewhere.
And last I did not tell anyone to radically change their lives, I said I did so myself. But the more people that do it the better.
Again, most people on the planet are just scraping by.
They don't have time to garden.
They can't afford to shop at farmer's markets.
They can't afford most cars, let alone electric vehicles.
I assume your intentions are good, but climate change won't be remotely close to solved by such measures, and when people say, "I bought a Tesla so I could drive it to my summer home and do my part for the planet!" it probably causes more resentment from the 99% than anything else.
I am wondering if you see any possibility to avoid work related air travel as well? I understand that certain jobs require flying but I also see, at least at my own company, that a lot of those flights are not really necessary and could easily be avoided. Would you mind to elaborate?
* Video conferencing
* Car/train/bus transportation if the hours used is acceptable. A good way to do this is a "night train" with a sleeping compartment.
* The big one: electric planes.
However it is a though one. Sometimes you just have to travel far to meet someone face to face and unfortunately the only way to achieve this in a reasonable way today is by hydrocarbon burning air travel.
It's ranked in terms of low-hanging fruit ('these are the highest-impact changes we could make') rather than absolute harm, but the spirit is the same as the question you're asking.
Realistically, the only thing you can do as an individual is campaign for political change:
your choice is to vote hard environmentalist, agitate hard for immediate change, stop flying and stop driving and stop eating red meat.
or don't. but don't delude yourself. a lot of people wish so hard there were easier options that they will endlessly talk about made up ones. but those are the only real ones today.
I have 3 kids, so I'm basically forced on one side of the climate debate. I worry will soon have to wear a scarlet letter for my shame.
Instead, I intensely advocate for technology-based approaches to climate stabilization, such as marine cloud brightening.
Of course there is. How many steaks is a flight from London to Paris?
There doesn't need to be an X vs Y debate.
Would carbon taxes help evening cost differences?
However it's not solid, it has a core of Styrofoam to insulate so it. The rest of the houses are usually of wood/glass that is heavily insulated. It would be interesting to see if you could make the foundations out of wood or something like that instead.
All new buildings has to adhere to very strict codes of how to be constructed .
We also have the worlds tallest wooden building  here so maybe this is the future instead of concrete/steel skyscrapers.
Grenfell was interesting. My understanding (inquiry is still ongoing, so conditional): because the panels are so thin, they have much larger oxidizer availability to the fuel - like burning a piece of paper held vertically, the rising flames will spread and consume available fuel quickly.
Mass timber, on the other hand, is fairly resistant to fire  - initiates slowly, takes a long time to burn through - it's what makes logs in a wood stove burn over hours, not seconds. And while the outside is slowly charring, the core maintains structural strength - quite unlike structural steel as it heats (the steel connectors in this building are actually one of the weak points! ). Sprinklers in any high rise is necessary to ensure it has an adequate fire rating (eg, it will remain structurally stable/safe for 2 hours is I think the standard in my country?).
It's not like taking a stick built house and making it taller.
Caveat: I have studied structures/fire rating stuff, but am not a professional.
 for your further reading pleasure: https://www.moelven.com/news/news-archive2/2018/how-the-worl...
Edit: hollow walls filled with fiberglass to keep the air still
Hmm, could you just mix expanded polystyrene balls in to cement to make a high-R composite that's still strong enough to be structural?
Even so, insulated cavities are totally obsolete. Exterior foam is far superior.
Totally with you on exterior foam though, you want the insulation outside of the thermal mass if at all possible.
There may be some copyright shenanigans w/ that page.
There have also been successfully constructed in-ground pools using this material, but appears to be controversial to traditional pool-builders.
There’s also exterior foam cladding that’s made to be open to the elements but it doesn’t look great or last a long time either.
There was a german company that produced foam glass concrete but they shuttered production.
That is an incredibly incorrect set of statements. The insulation value of concrete, it's R=0.52 per inch of thickness. A vast amount of housing in many regions across the world is concrete (including the walls). Obviously, it is more common in multifamily construction and/or hurricane prone areas. Hollow wood framed walls w/o insulation depends on the relative humidity, but it's R<2. Fiberglass batt (R-12 and higher) is basically the only source of insulation in a wood sheathed wall.
Concrete can be replaced in part through the use of CEB/CSEB and/or rammed earth.
edit: I should have said "earthen" construction has been used in Britain. Cob rather than CEB.
The more detailed (48 min.)
Mass timber has an extra benefit too: since trees scrub CO2 from the atmosphere, growing trees for construction ends up sequestering significant amounts of CO2.
There's a lot of work to be done around sustainable forestry practices, along with the process of actually harvesting the associated wood, but I think this is a pretty cool option.
Here's an article that provides some context on mass timber, along with some of the outstanding questions: https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-mass-timber-takes-off-how-...
Is anywhere in the world starting to charge for the externalised costs that allow the less sustainable option to be cheaper like in this example? What are the issues with this solution?
Dirty secret about solar and wind is the supply isn't constrained like oil and nat gas. So designing houses around energy scarcity is 'dumb'. And building houses to use nat gas/fuel oil even dumber.
Or is that not Politically Correct pollution?
Once we get to 1500 ppm the situation will be so bad that worrying about photosynthesis quality will be as unimportant as worrying about who wins the football cup.
As such, planting a tree to be forgiven for going on a flight that burns carbon-laden jet fuel doesn't fix what you did.
Fossil fuels are excess carbon atoms sequestered safely deep inside the Earth. Unless you can find a way to put them back there, there's no fixing the situation. Planting a tree does capture carbon. However, when it dies and rots, all the carbon gets re-released over time back into the atmosphere. If you burn that wood, it happens much more quickly.
The only way to fix this problem is to stop using fossil fuels. There is no politically viable way for this to happen. The only way this is happening is if the planet gets depopulated of humans rapidly.
Increasing the biomass of trees (e.g, growing a new forest) does reduce the CO2 levels; true, each tree in this forest will at some point die and re-release its carbon, but another will grow in its place; therefore, if the forest has grown and stays there forever the the result will be a net negative contribution to CO2 levels forever as well.
That of course does not change the fact that carbon offsetting alone is NOT a sufficient way to tackle climate change. Please do reduce your carbon footprint people, and encourage others to do so. Of course, there's nothing wrong with planting trees in addition (not instead of) reducing your emissions - you can think of it as charity for the planet; if you're interested in donating money so that forests get protected / grown, I recommend Stand For Trees: https://standfortrees.org/en/#protect-a-forest (I'm not affiliated with them).
Please people, be careful about what you write on these topics. We really need a high bar on scientific rigour on these topics if we are to act effectively.
Planting a tree reverses some of the damage done by deforestation. Bt reforesting the earth would not restore things to how they were. As the OP said, that only happens if the excess CO2 is stored below the ground, too.
Planting trees is good, but only part of the full sequestration needed.
So carbon offsets by planting tree is a scam, and we need better than that.
You do realize that carbon sequestrated in a forest 100ks of years is prevented from contributed to global warming during all that time period, right?
> Not consuming fossil carbon means it will stay in the earth mantle for a geological time.
Nobody's arguing against that. But it's silly to argue that not consuming fossil fuels is a better solution than carbon sequestration. We urgently need to do BOTH. When your house is burning, you don't choose between calling the firemen and using the extinguisher - you do both.
> So carbon offsets by planting tree is a scam, and we need better than that.
That's naive and simplistic. If carbon offsetting was widely adopted, it would 1) be a fast way to start our transition towards a sustainable economy and 2) encourage reducing fossil fuel consumptions as it gets more and more expensive (as it will inevitably).
When it comes to fighting climate change, what matters is results, not this sort of uninformed rethoric.
We need to do something right now, carbon sequestration fits there.
We also need to change our ideology, and our energy resources, if we stick a plaster (ie bandaid) of carbon sequestration on it now and assume that is going to fix it, that's where we going to get to the point where land usage is going to go up against that. We can't simply go on using carbon based fuels and just "plant trees" forever unless we also create a reducing global population ...
Sequestration needs to be at greater levels than current use, we shouldn't allow rich people to go on 'using' by only sequestering to counter current usage.
Please don't tell me you're one of those "earth would be better of were we all dead" people. I can't stand that kind of post-modernist, nihilistic garbage. I'm not mister optimist, but still, that's way too far.
Also, that kind of rhetoric is going to end up being a justification for some one very evil doing some thing very bad.
> The only way to fix this problem is to stop using fossil fuels. There is no politically viable way for this to happen.
Eeh, wrong. The fact that we're not there yet doesn't mean we can't get there. At some point, pulling energy out of thin air will end up cheaper than doing expensive drilling operations.
Post-modernists are the philosophical equivalent of the kid who gets mad when he loses at Monopoly, flips the board, and walks away.
The right answer to this is "for who?" and "why would it matter then?"
We don't save the earth for the earth. We save it for ourselves.
I was hoping that we were trying to save it (from us!) because this is simply the right thing to do.
What says that we have more right to liver here, take the air, water and other resources than any of the other clearly sentient & intelligent beings among whom we live?
I have a hard time finding any good answers to that question that do not boil down to <might makes right>, i.e., we're more intelligent, capable, etc., so screw all the other animals and plants (upon which, BTW, our continued existence depends).
So, from an ethical POV, mere consideration of the other beings makes it hge right thing to do.
Even if we want to save it for only ourselves, we need to wise up damn fast. Look at the list starting with AGW shifting the climate faster than any time since the asteroid 65MM yrs ago (& now showing serious signs of runaway feed-forward effects), plastic debris and microplastics choking the food chain on sea and land, neonicotinid pesticides destroying the insect population & especially pollinators at well into double digit levels, monoculture industrial agriculture, massive habitat destruction... the list goes on and on. The result is that we are likely getting dangerously close to breaking the food web. When that happens (even without war) there will only be a few survivors, if any, and they likely not consider themselves lucky.
So, even if only for selfish motives, merely acting like it is right to preserve the earth's biosphere, is the right thing to do.
Nature does. In the same way it gave wolves the right to eat rabbits. By providing us with the indisputable power to do so. It also gave us the ability to choose:
We can live a tiny existence as a species, completely eschewing any and all anthropological climate impact until we are eventually extincted by natural climate change just as every other species that ever lived on this planet was or will be.
Or we can consume the entire world in a few generations in a desperate bid to show each other the maximum number ads for ephemeral crap that doesn't matter at all.
Or something in the middle. I personally vote for the careful, intentional consumption of most of this world to further human sentience and aid it in expanding into the universe. (And grieve for the fact that we seem to be irreversibly choosing the "ads" option when either of the others would seem much more preferable.)
So, how, exactly does that not boil down to <might makes right>?
I'm also generally for your Option 3, but looking at it realistically, we're quite fully committed to Option 2, consuming the entire world in a few generations.
Short of a massive global Marshal Plan level effort to eradicate poverty, educate everyone, and provide contraception so that every locale goes well below replacement reproduction (or a bio-engineered highly contagious virus that causes infertility), I see vastly insufficient efforts to put us on an even sustainable track.
And the problem is that when resources are exhausted to , e.g., a level 10% below what will sustain a polulation, it isn't a 10% die-off, but more like a 90% die-off, since almost all are under the sustainable level. We break hte food web, and we'll likely be part of the mass extinction.
But everyone has normalcy bias, so, enjoy it while it lasts, I guess.
It boils down exactly to might makes right, also know as "natural law". Everything else brings the argument into religious territory by assuming an absolute moral standard. (Which is fine by the way, as long as we explicitly call it out and argue from it in a consistent manner - and understand that we are crossing the border of science and philosophy when we do)
We can also look to vast quantities of documented examples of altruistic behavior in studies far "down" the animal scale.
There is substantial theory growing that religious and moral attitudes, cultural structures, and laws emerged from these innate qualities, rather than being some human invention.
Here's an article on just two:
So, this "natural law" that you posit at the top/root of all behavior evaluation is actually quite shaky, and it is not at all clear that it has the priority you claim.
It looks far more like a justification for might being right. By that standard, it'd be ok for me to steal your pay, enslave you, or simply kill you for the $10 in your pocket if merely had the means & whim, with all concerns about fairness, ethics, morality, relegated to the minor realm of "religious territory".
Yet even a chimp, dog, elephant, or dolphin would know that it's wrong.
A lot of people seem to believe that abundant clean energy is a sufficient solution for our environmental problems. A huge part of GHG emissions is due to deforesting and cattle, which has little to do with energy consumption.
History also seems to show that giving humanity abundant energy will only lead to it wrecking itself in some other way. Sustainability is simply not compatible with our crazy paradigm of unlimited growth and consumption.
Deforestation is clearly an issue, but I seem to recall reading about a diet with some/more/lots of seaweed essentially solved the methane issue of cattle?
If the deforestation is to have space for cows the answer is obvious: cow/fish hybrids. Or cows with scuba masks? No need to collect the seaweed, no need to destroy the forest.
You’ll need bigger fishing nets though.
Don't get your hopes up. This story gets thrown around a lot, but it's based on a mini study with twelve cows.
Whether this will work at scale or permanently is pretty much an open question.
Yeah, we've all seen them - they make for fantastic headlines. None of them is as viable as protecting forests / planting trees by a long shot. They systematically fail to mention that the energy consumption is super high or that they're not scalable in another way - at least not in time.
> Cattle likely won't change. I'm going to keep eating meat [...] more feasible to do that than to force veganism on every one.
You don't need everyone to go vegan - we only need people to eat a lot less meat and diaries, and / or choose meat with a smaller footprint (e.g chicken). It's simply not reasonable to use 40% of arable lands to feed cattle given the environmental and food challenges of the 21st century.
If you're not willing to make the relatively small lifestyle change that is changing your diet, then let me tell you with blunt honesty: you're an instance of the most severe cause of climate change - privileged people not willing to give up on some of their comfort. This attitude is also collectively irrational, because climate change if not prevented will force us to much more radical lifestyle changes. I do hope you will reconsider.
I don't have children, I don't drive them to school in a SUV or to a holiday in DisneyWorld, I have never launched a SpaceX rocket, or lived on my own in a full size house. I have never been on a cruise. I don't live or work in an air-conditioned place.
To put it bluntly, f' off about calling people "the most severe cause of climate change" for eating a beef sandwich without considering anything else. It's unhelpful, provocative, and completely incorrect.
I didn't attend an international destination wedding this year, which a lot of my family did. How many bacon sandwiches does that earn me compared to my family?
If your answer is none because climate change is a global catastrophe and everyone has to pitch in, then what incentive does that give anyone? If any carbon slack of my reduced comfort is just getting eaten up by other people's indifference, aren't I better off being indifferent as well?
That's an entire mischaracterization of my argument, which was about willingness to change one's lifestyle in general, not specifically about eating a beef sandwich.
Ten times more.
And I'm "with blunt honesty: an instance of the most severe cause of climate change"?
No. Just so much no.
I don't eat a ton of beef, but no, beef is relatively affordable (at least in America). But I do eat a lot more chicken, and not a ton of beef. With that said, I want a good steak once every few months and a burger once a week. More importantly, I don't want the government saying "thou shalt" about my beef consumption, nor do I want people finger-wagging at me about it.
America can sustainably raise cattle. She has requisite land. It seems that people are saying that because everyone else can't do it, we need to change.
This is also the tragedy of the commons. If I emit less, others will feel they can emit more. I refuse to be "the sucker" that loses this game theory problem. With that said, I don't emit that much (all things considered). My biggest carbon outputs are driving (which I have to do) and air conditioning (I will not give this up; come live in hundred-degree Texas summers without it and then tell me to give it up). So I don't consider myself to be a catastrophic contributor to any thing. Besides, would money not be better spent curing cancer? I'm not sure that I believe the "impending doom" stuff about global warming. Humans are the most remarkably adaptable species on the planet; we will adapt to a hotter earth if need be.
The whole point in the tragedy of the commons is that if everyone follows their own self interest (as you are doing) then everyone loses. That is why it is called a tragedy.
Saying you are going to avoid losing by taking what you want completely misunderstands what the problem is.
Are you sure about that? It seems like we'd adapt by using more power, deepening the problem.
Not if it is solar/wind power as is the case for 50% of the power already (in my country). With 100% renewables you can waste as much energy as you like.
Cool, how much? IIRC, sustainability would require an individual average below 2 teqCO2/year.
> Besides, would money not be better spent curing cancer?
Look at what the world would look like if climate change is not prevented: https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/what-the-world-will-look-l.... Think of the consequences in famines (whole countries transformed into deserts), flooding, and the mass migrations and wars that would ensue.
So no, cancer is not the priority, not when people will die by the hundreds of millions before reaching the age for getting cancer.
> I'm not sure that I believe the "impending doom" stuff about global warming.
Then you are in denial, and need to be exposed to more science. Again, sorry for being blunt.
> Humans are the most remarkably adaptable species on the planet; we will adapt to a hotter earth if need be.
Yeah sure, we can't individually give up on our beef sandwich, but we will have no problem adapting collectively to most of our current living spaces becoming uninhabitable.
I could not see any graphics/media (the website is a mess. It tries to load a dozen 3rd party resources). But the article is pretty optimistic:
> Now is the time to buy property in Greenland – before it too turns green...
> Yeah sure, we can't individually give up on our beef sandwich
I'm sure there will be cities in these new deserts. And people in these cities will still eat beef sandwiches.
If somebody talks like that, my impression is always that it's more about restriction and reduction than about saving the world.
> Cool, how much? IIRC, sustainability would require an individual average below 2 teqCO2/year.
Cool, is there a CO2 calculator somewhere?
How about you?
> Look at what the world would look like if climate change is not prevented
I think global warming is over-exaggerated by alarmists who seek to push a political agenda. I'd say it's reasonable to say there's an issue, but certainly not of the magnitude many pretend. I hear 97% quoted a lot, but believe many are simply afraid to contradict the narrative blasted at every one from all major media outlets. 97% it may be, but it wouldn't be the first time the "scientific consensus" was wrong.
> You are in denial
Nope, see above
> we can't individually give up on our beef sandwich
I don't want to, and even if I do, someone else will feel like he is now able to emit more. As I said, tragedy of the commons. And I just don't buy the idea that our living spaces will "become uninhabitable". Why the predictions of a global desert? Greenhouses tend to be damp and flourishing.
The "I'm not in denial, I'm just denying the science" is just cream on the top.
If anything, reducing population (not through genocide obviously) for expedience is actually a very neoliberal idea
Incorrect on both counts. And I use it to describe the philosophical base that essentially, there is no absolute truth and nothing can be taken for reality. Which, ironically, post-modernists use their only absolute truth.
> reducing population (not through genocide obviously) for expedience is actually a very neoliberal idea
What makes you think I'm a neoliberal? And what does that have to do with what I said? More importantly, how would you reduce it? It took hundreds of years for the West to reduce birth rates. Cultural factors often mean people have many children, even if they have access to birth control. See the attempts to do this in Africa. There has been some success, but not a ton.
Ok so remind me what that has to do with population control or believing that things would be better off without humanity. Also feel free to refer me to major post modern philosophers who advocate for such a thing, because I've never read them. Most post-modernism is very life affirming in a very backwards way. The people I hear advocating for this sort of ideology is actually many in the mainstream "left" (read Democratic) in the US.
I didn't say you were a neoliberal, just that such a policy is. In the sense of "for the greater good" and it's insistence on dehumanization and erosion of any non-Capital based relations
This argument predates postmodernism by two centuries.
If anything, postmodernism wouldn't acknowledge a way to classify people into "worth-living" and "not-worth-living"; if not by ethics or humanism, because it would find most or all criteria in the filters to be bullshit.
We have learned how to live on a credit card at the expense of our children. We imagine we have “escaped the Malthusian trap”, but the bill comes due!
More people means more factory farms, overfishing, desertification, deforestation, plastic pollution, garbage and releasing greenhouse gases. The accumulation of garbage and the depletion of resources can throw delicate ecosystems out of whack (bleached corals, for instance, or collapse of bee colonies).
Ar best, we are reducing biodiversity greatly and turning the earth into a monoculture of fatory farms for feeding a growing population of humans.
At worst, that’s one unsustainable step away from collapse.
It sounds terrible I know, but it serves to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the stance. Like George Carlin said,
"I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is that there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me."
* note: don't actually do this if you believe this wretched, damned worldview, go seek help, I don't really want anyone to off themselves because they think it "helps the world"
Overpopulation is clearly a problem, probably the problem, but you don't solve it by guilt induced suicide, mandated death or shipping people off to camps (not in the "civilised" world anyway). You discourage excess procreation. Tax after the first child, free birth control, and advertising campaigns should reduce numbers. After all many nations did all that in reverse to encourage more children, but they didn't make breeding compulsory. There is no hypocrisy in the stance. I'm sure there's other non-dystopian possible approaches that stay safely away from holocaust and eugenics.
The hypocrisy is pretending a finite planet has infinite space for expansion where we keep expanding until there is a catastrophic crash. Perhaps some wildlife will remain, perhaps not. Far better to have a controlled stop and seek to find a sustainable population - where earth can regenerate what we use, and we still have sustainable wildlife, insect, sea and plant populations and some wilderness.
Humanity keeps on demonstrating they can't do self-controlled, so your worldview wins. Future crash it will be then.
If the planet is overpopulated then that is a problem, regardless of whether people observing this fact or reaching that conclusion see themselves as part of that problem, and regardless of whether or not they take themselves out of the genepool to remove the hypocrisy.
IMO that’s the wrong conclusion to draw. Its just natural behavior. Its simply an argument for localism and accountability.
The political and economic calculations aren't stagnant. If there emerge better and cheaper alternatives, the market will usually make the switch happen. The key thing is the presence of better alternatives. We're already seeing this in action with electricity generation. Solar and wind are cheaper for bulk generation than fossil sources. A few incremental advances in battery technology are now required to unlock the full potential of renewables, but there seems to be a clear path forward. These developments are the result of thousands of engineers time and energy along with relatively modest subsidies and private investment to pay their salaries.
The same may be true for cement. The alternatives are not yet better or cheaper, but some investment might get them there. Or not, we don't really know for sure.
We may be too late to prevent total catastrophe, but I'd rather go down trying. It's up to us to create the alternatives which allow the political and economic solutions to be viable. Who's with me?
Many scientific experts don't believe that enhanced technology can be the main solution. True, technology can be a part of the solution, but changing our values and life habits are much more important. That's why top recommended environmental measure is carbon taxes, not subsidizing energy efficiency.
We've already made dramatic technological progress on our energy efficiency since the industrial era. This has never prevented our emissions from increasing - it's usually only made pollution more affordable and therefore more widespread; fuel efficiency in car engines is a good example of that.
Spreading the belief that technology will eventually save the day is not helpful, because it gives people an excuse to postpone changing their lifestyle, and we cannot afford that.
EDIT: forgot to post, Bret Victor is with you: http://worrydream.com/ClimateChange/
Are you sure these are scientists? Because this sounds a lot like an ideological belief, not a scientific one. I definitely know a lot of activists who believe this.
I do agree with the sad statement that we're generally lacking a scientifically rigorous and pragmatic leadership in climate activism.
If the future is uncertain, we should rather do too much than too little. That is how insurance works.
So unfortunately I think the optimism is misguided. The current trend is more like that demotivaional poster, "if you are not part of the solution, there is good money to be made in prolonging the problem".
I wanted to emphasize that the optimism can be a useful tool to gain motivation. Realistically I think we're in for a world of hurt, but being depressed doesn't motivate me like optimism does. It's a mind trick, not a realistic accounting of the current state of affairs.
> Engineers need to choose to work on, maybe even for less money or less job security, solutions which are so much better that policy and implementation will contort themselves toward the new paradigms.
Not only is this becoming harder in most countries every year in recent decades, but the paradigm shift already happened with climate change. If you want to be optimistic you could be optimistic that we find a way to change the equation. In its current state your optimism is awfully close to it being someone else's problem.
Unless you build something out of the wood, instead of using cement, for example.
Even if the tree is just left to rot or is burned, this is 50-100 years in the future. Giving the world 50-100 years of buffer time to figure out how to solve the technical and political problems around climate change is close enough to a solution that I'd take it in a heart beat!
That is: the original deposits were a process over millions of years, but the flow between stocks of carbon no longer behave as they used to. Whereas the stock of living and dead plants used to both remove carbon from the atmosphere, this no longer really the case.
May I question the veracity of this statement ? wood decay does release atoms back in the air, but some may be captured on the ground, some may be captured by the plants/trees nearby. I highly doubt 100% goes back airborne.
Also there are other factors with more trees, they interfere with winds, create shadows. Some say massive forest also transpire humidity. All this might be positive to dampen climate change (if done worldwide).
Caveat though: higher humidity + rising temperatures = bad. The more humid the air is, the worse evaporative cooling works, which means it's that much harder for human body to keep its temperature in check. For example,  tells us that at 46 °C and 50% humidity, humans can no longer cool down through sweating - i.e. the ambient air becomes deadly to all humans.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet-bulb_temperature.
Yeah, I've seen those, but that's like observing that the best way to kill cancer is to kill the patient. Kind of missing why we bother with the problem in the first place :).
We do need massive re-forestation programmes though.
> There is no politically viable way for this to happen.
It’s sad because we have the technology (that could surely be improved if trillions of dollars were suddenly poured into).
To play devil's advocate, is it possible that planting the trees at least helps in the short to mid-term? So let's assume we don't run out of viable land to plant more trees on, and we keep planting enough trees to offset a big chunk of our carbon emissions. Doesn't that buy us, say, 100 years to figure out the technology to economically capture excess carbon and put it back underground again?
No, this is not what happens. Check Wikipedia for "carbon offset" and "carbon credit" to learn more.
Aside from that, the fact is that you need a shit ton of trees to negate climate change. Planting 1.7 billion acres of trees would remove only 8% of yearly carbon emissions. Where will we find the land to plant all those trees? We simple don't have the real estate.
Not all the carbon. Some of it stays in the ground to eventually form more fossil fuel.
That only happened once, on a geological timescale (the carboniferous period). During that period, there was no breakdown of dead trees; fungi and bacteria hadn't evolved the enzymes to break it down at that point, so it just sat there, piling up layer upon layer, and eventually got turned into coal seams and oil reservoirs deep underground. Consider just how long it took to get buried deep under all that strata. Millions of years.
That process will never happen again. Life subsequently evolved to break trees and all plant matter down fast, on the order of years for a whole tree. Much faster if it's chopped into smaller bits. It is ultimately metabolised by saprophytes and returned to the atmosphere. Very little is sequestered away. Consider that the layer between rock and atmosphere is just a thin film. Bare in some places, a few inches to a few feet deep in others. That's the biosphere, the bit of the planet that is living. That's the store the carbon has to be sunk into.
There are some places which do sequester some carbon. Peat bog would be one example. But when you look at how much a peat bog sequesters in a year though the slow growth of sphagnum mosses, heather and the other lichens and plants found there, it's a tiny drop in the ocean compared with the amount of CO2 we are pumping out daily. It's also not going to be super stable. It could catch fire if there's a really dry summer, for example.
Higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere will encourage plant growth. There are plenty of scientific experiments to show a direct correlation between CO2 concentration and crop size and dry weight. That's been known for decades. We learned this on a plant science course over two decades back. But there isn't a stable store for all the excess carbon we have released to be sequestered on a meaningful timescale, and the existing biosphere isn't going to be able to expand sufficiently to compensate or to store it long term. It's going to be cycled back into the atmosphere.
We have spent the last few hundred years ceaselessly burning unimaginably large quantities of stored carbon which took millions of years to originally deposit. There's no magic bullet to reverting to the pre-industrial state. The effects of this, and any corrective action, will take place on timescales much longer than a human lifetime. As a species, we aren't very good at dealing with problems which can't be solved in a decade or two.
That small detail about the Carboniferous Period is something nobody has told me before, which makes me wonder how many people in this debate know their subject.
Popular press: https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/01/why-was-most-of-the-...
Full paper: https://www.pnas.org/content/113/9/2442
Contextual overview: https://www.pnas.org/content/113/9/2334
Seems much simpler to fix global
politics and improve technology.
"Definitely yes. Having worked as an undertaker’s assistant in my youth I have witnessed this at least twice. The odour is unmistakable and the gas (should there be any in the bowel) easily comes out when moving the deceased from the hospital cold slab to the coffin. I have not heard any sound but the foul smell is there - so yes."
The amount of energy required to chew/melt/process the plastic, the energy to transport the recyclables to the processing facility, and then the transportation costs to ship the decycled material to the buyer(s)?
It's carbon neutral compared to the alternatives.
I do not understand the concept of comparative neutrality.
Treat it as waste, not a raw material input for an inferior good?
If anyone wonders why anyone could possibly be against the modern environmentalist movement, it may be because so many believe in the movement believe in "rapid depopulation" (though few will say it so directly as you).
Sure we can't simply build them everywhere. But the main barriers to building enough of them to make a big difference aren't technical.
What exactly do you mean by this, and how would you accomplish it? Assuming, that is, that nuclear doesn't work (for whatever reason), as you've drawn a dichotomy.
Warming is going to happen. Humanity will adapt. Modern spins on eugenics isn’t an answer and frankly is disgusting.
The URL is
Now where does this documentary go wrong?
I will mention one place: Their little cartoon has sun light hitting the surface of the earth, reflecting, and then heating the atmosphere. Well, it mostly isn't just reflection. Instead, the sunlight gets absorbed by the surface, the surface warms, and then the surface radiates, as in a Planck gray body in the infrared. CO2 absorbs, and warms, in three narrow bands out in the infrared, on band for each of bending, stretching, and twisting of the molecule. CO2 won't absorb visible light -- e.g., exhale and see if you can see the CO2 or its shadow from absorbing visible light! And, as in the cartoon, the visible light already traveled through the whole atmosphere to the ground without being absorbed so that any reflected light should just continue until it hits a cloud or just escapes into outer space. So, the main point is the Planck black body effect that in effect converts the visible light CO2 won't absorb to infrared light CO2 can absorb. But, as Lindzen explains, that all has to be a tiny effect, small potatoes.
Just as a question, does anyone have figures on tons per year of (i) CO2 from volcanoes and (ii) human activities?
For another, does anyone have (i) the number of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere and (ii) the number of tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere by human activities in, say, a year?
For one more, if the temperature of the top, say, 1000 feet, of all the oceans warmed by 1 F, how much CO2, in tons, would be released -- warmer water absorbs less CO2?
Last, what was the average temperature of the oceans (i) just before the Little Ice Age, (ii) at the end of the Little Ice Age (say, at the end of the Maunder Minimum and the return of usual sun spot activity), (iii) in year 1900, and (iv) now?
Cement, fossil fuels, deforestation, livestock etc are all symptoms of overpopulation and our inability to establish homeostasis anymore.
I don't see a solution to environmental decay into a negative feedback loop that wipes us out without some form of population control.
It isn't pretty, but we are running out of time and sitting around waiting for tech to save us isn't a viable strategy.
CO2 feels like just a weird focus, compared to the toxic lakes of sludge in China near manufacturing hubs, the massive drifts of plastic in our oceans, the coal ash pools at all our coal plants, the nuclear waste still kept at all our nuclear plans, and all the other waste and pollution we product. Reducing one at the expense of another may not always end up in a good net result.
This article totally ignores all the other factors of pollution and doesn't take an fully balanced look at all the waste produced in these materials.
Ultimate to reduce harm to our environment we need to produce less entirely. That does mean fewer buildings, cell phones, new things, etc. But no one really talks about that.
If we really want to change things, we'll have to get rid of the ocean.
Seriously, though, I'd like to see some real numbers that if we completely eliminated human CO2 emissions, what is the actual difference that would make? What does that say about the significance of practically achievable reduction in human CO2 emissions? What amount of CO2 would we have to recapture to make a difference? What amount can we practically capture?
I am getting the impression that these numbers might paint the CO2 dilemma as completely unsolvable. Sure, maybe in some way every little bit helps, but maybe it helps like using a squirt gun to put out a volcano. It'd be nice to know just how relevant our efforts would actually be if everyone unified and did the absolute best we could do, even so far as drastic population reduction or even complete elimination of human beings. Would even such Thanos like measures do anything, or would that just be bringing a second squirt gun to the volcano?