Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Except that this type of language is endemic in climate discussion and is often enough accepted at face value and not recognized as hyperbolic language. In my experience there are people who view this language as an accurate description of what global warming models predict (with a high level of confidence) -- the end of life on Earth and runaway greenhouse effect resulting in the Earth turning into another Venus.

Even in the realm of "figurative language", it is ridiculously over the top and over used. It adds nothing to a discussion that is chock-a-block full of over the top assertions.




It's satisfyingly close for all intents and purposes.

The change of there being a collapse of most of the significant ecosystems isn't trivial. The change of mass migrations and conflicts over resources unlike anything we've ever seen before are no longer trivial.

Out of all the hills to die on in the "debate" over climate change, this is about the most ridiculous, pedantic, and useless. How many millions of dead people would you like before considering it adequate language?


So you don't thing it was "figurative language"? You view my dystopian description as "close" to your understanding of what is predicted? [edited because I made the mistake of thinking the parent was the author of the comment I originally commented on]

You seem to be working from the assumption that the apocalyptic predictions are a certainty and that humanity will be unable to adapt, that climate change is an existential threat.

I tend to think that a linear (or worse) extrapolation of warming trends is unscientific and unlikely, that the effects of current modest warming will not be apocalyptic (which still leaves plenty of room for various catastrophes), and that human ingenuity will be able to mitigate the worst effects. In short I don't think global warming is an existential threat to humanity or the Earth.

The problem with apocalyptic, existential threat language is that it can be leveraged to advocate for or justify extremely radical private and public actions as well as governmental power grabs. I'm more worried about radical "ends-justifies-the-means" people and the side-effects of giving government more power than I am of the effects of global warming.

Sure, I could be wrong, but over 100 million people have been killed by misguided governments historically and to me that is a much more tangible threat.


> I tend to think that a linear (or worse) extrapolation of warming trends is unscientific and unlikely, that the effects of current modest warming will not be apocalyptic (which still leaves plenty of room for various catastrophes), and that human ingenuity will be able to mitigate the worst effects. In short I don't think global warming is an existential threat to humanity or the Earth.

Wait so now you're more of an authority than the already-conservative IPCC models which do not account for the ever worsening effects of sea ice and the methane feedback loop?

We're already observing in real time the loss of many ecosystems due to climate change, and we're far from the temperatures proposed by the BUA scenarios.

You're saying that a linear warming trend is unscientific when the entirety of the evidence at hand is showing that an increase way above linear is most likely, and already being observed. So what, you're expecting that the continued, non-linear increases in CO2 concentrations are going to magically not work with all the known feedback loops?


Where did I say I was an authority? I'm just sharing what I think based on what I've read.

I was saying that the "extrapolation" of current trends into the future without bound is unscientific. Perhaps that isn't quite right. I could have made it clear that they are unproven hypothesis at this point. So just an element of the scientific process, but not a conclusive scientific results.

Positive feedback loops are very unusual in nature and so that is one reason I said "unlikely".

In any case treating the predictions of climate models as equivalent to the confirmation of hypothesis via the scientific method is just wrong by definition. They are different things.


The linear predictions and feedback loops aren't speculation. It is known, at least to an order of magnitude, the amount of sequestered carbon in boglands and clathrate deposits. Same thing with trees in places vulnerable to wildfire.

We know the amount of ice in places vulnerable to climate change, and we have a solid understanding of the albedo effects of Arctic sea ice.

The correlation between CO2 and atmospheric temperatures isn't just empericial, but can be well modeled with today's forecasting supercomputers. The predictions that were made 40 years ago are in line with what we are observing today, and the ensemble modeling system we use to look at different climate scenarios shows the ample world of possibilities.

None of those things indicate that there's any reason why there should be a _better_ case than the already conservative predictions, and all point towards those feedback loops being substantially more dramatic.

For the record, the "extrapolation" isn't unbounded; there are limits to atmospheric temperature determined by atmospheric radiation, ocean albedo, the effects of temperature on cloud formations, etc. It's just that the limit is high enough that there will be literally no ecosystem able to adapt and our capacity to grow food is out of the question at the point.


Do we know for sure that there is no life on Venus? (The planet itself is far from “dead.”)


Well that was as close as I could get to a dead planet without describing something like the demise of Vulcan in the Star Trek reboot, which seemed like a bit much even in the realm of hyperbolic descriptions.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: