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It's insane how many intelligent, thoughtful people I've met who still parrot the line that "oh our children will be screwed". Or even worse, they make some random allusion to scientific progress or God and claim it will all be okay.

No.

Science will not save us. God will not save us. It will not be okay. And unless you're currently on your deathbed, you will feel the effects of climate change. You will be fucked.

I suspect only drastic, world wide, almost revolutionary political change could effectively halt the massive carbon generating machine that is human industry. Except the problem with massive revolutions is that they tend to cause conflict, which tends to increase emissions (tanks don't exactly run on solar).

Man, I'm pretty damn close to joining a doomsday cult.




The scientific consensus re climate change isn't anywhere near that gloomy in the short term range. We've already had nearly 1 degree C increase since 1975 and it hasn't been a disaster yet.

I think the far bigger problem will be that it won't really be that bad for the next 50 years, leading to complacency, and we will hit the point of no return before we really feel much impact in the richer western countries.


I keep seeing people spread variants of "if we don't act now, climate change will destroy the world 12 years" and "we only have 18 months to stop emitting CO2". Not just by random social media users - quite a few journalists and even members of Congress have said those things. I've even seen a few people explicitly claim that they're suffering depression, not saving for retirement, etc, because they expect climate change will kill them personally by 2050. Of course, none of those claims are backed by science at all.

The 18 month stat is a mashup of two totally different deadlines. First, that we need strong emissions commitments by 2020, which is not a meteorological deadline but a political one: UN meeting schedules and the Paris Agreement call for strengthened emissions plans by 2020, so failing to act by then implies an overall lack of political will. Second, the IPCC report that CO2 emissions need to peak by 2020 to keep warming below 1.5 C by 2100. That's important and hard to reach, but "peak" is not "become net negative" and >1.5C is not "doomed".

The 12 year stat is basically backwards - confusing an emissions deadline with a temperature peak. The IPCC finding is that we'll reach 1.5 C of total post-1975 warming between 2030 and 2050, and that major emissions cuts by 2030 (and net-zero by 2050) could limit warming to 1.5C. The worst case described was 3C by 2100, not 2030, and harms arriving some time after their "locked in" warming thresholds.

None of that means it's not a serious problem, or that rapid action isn't needed, but I'm really disturbed to see people predicting death and doom for what are actually emissions deadlines. It seems like an attempt to trick people into acting fast, but action that fast isn't actually possible. I think that instead we're going to get to the 2020s and be hearing "you said the world would end but things are still basically ok, you're full of shit, clearly we don't need to keep taking action".


We haven't had a disaster yet, as in a showstopping, "this is the end of the world" disaster. And those may be far off. But even a small disaster can create massive problems. For instance, take New York. It's quite literally at sea level. Sandy did a number on the infrastructure. Now let's say we get a hurricane with maybe 1.5x the power of Sandy, maybe 2x. What do you think that would do to the world's economy if New York faced serious damage? Or what about power plants? Do you think Fukushima is the only power plant that has crumbling infrastructure?

This isn't necessarily validated by hard scientific evidence, but I have a suspicion that climate change is exacerbating conflict in the middle east. For one, heat is a known catalyst for violence. But also, as desertification takes effect, resources become constrained, creating conflict.


The political instability resulting from food shortages and migration caused by climate change will be devastating, and much of the world has already experiencing it. Things get ugly fast when food becomes scare. We've seen what's happened in North Africa, South & Central America, and Syria. India is suffering now as well.

The US has a refugee crisis stemming directly from the loss of arable land in Central America, and Europe is suffering from one as a result of the a massive drought and the Arab Spring hitting Syria.


You are very simply uninformed. What you think will happen in 50 years is the present. We’re already past the point of no return (well...officially we will be in 12 years, but we don’t have even close to the political will or infrastructure to avert it, so it’s more or less a certainty). People are already complacent and refuse or are unable to understand the massive scope of the problem.

Effects of emissions take about 20-30 years to be seen, so today’s emissions are already locked in to be felt mid-century. That should help put the 1 degree C rise you mentioned in proper context.

So, yes, things are that gloomy. We need immediate, global efforts in a war-like sense to change our entire energy sector if we are to avert the worst of it, and of course we’re only headed faster and more headstrong in the opposite direction. It’s not incorrect to say that we’re most likely completely fucked, and that Gen Z will be the last generation to experience a peaceful planet.


> we will hit the point of no return

We have hit the point of no return. The only options available to us right now are how to minimize the inevitable effects.


I'm in agreement. I moved my kids, all under 10, to a part of upstate New York that's slightly more "buffered" against climate change. It'll come here, but my best modeling shows that it'll be a bit more stable for about a decade longer.

I don't think we can fix this problem.

The best possible solution, at this point, is to try to build "habitats" for humans to survive in for as long as it takes for the ecosystem to reboot.

That obviously won't work for long term since historically, after a mass extinction, it takes about 50 million years for a new diverse ecosystem to get established.

We'll have to evolve as a species, both biologically and socially, in order to survive the extremes and lack of resources.

The question is if we can accomplish that evolution, even with the benefits of science, within time. Do we have 100 years? 200 years? 500 years? Even if we can survive in a mad-max style dystopia for 200 years, would we even have the ability to manufacture multi-generation shelters at that point? If we manufacture them now, would people stay in them even when the ecosystem hasn't yet collapsed?

How long can we live in an underground bubble before it falls apart and we're thrown into a world that's not hospitable for regular human life anymore? Can we survive as a species with a population collapse from almost 8 billion to a few dozen million?

The only "magic bullet" I can see saving us is if someone figures out cheap and accessible fusion energy. Nearly unlimited cheap energy could power a lot of otherwise impossible "moon shot" projects to try to save our species.


I don't particularly disagree with anything you had to say, but the tone of your post makes me wonder if you and similarly passionate individuals are actually ready to make money meet mouth. Have you stopped eating beef? Do you use only zero-emissions transport options? Have you taken zero flights and taxi rides since 2001? Is your day job contributing to some part of the solution to climate change?

Anyone who generally participates in the modern lifestyle that most of us share is one way or another contributing to the problem. Your passion is misplaced - wasted, even - unless you yourself are making drastic changes to how you live.


Thank you for calling this out. You're completely right in that I haven't taken the necessary actions. I do need to eat less beef. I do need to limit my consumerism. I will say I take public transportation (cause I live in a city that allows me that luxury). Honestly it's hard to not be overly pessimistic about one's individual. We should do our best to combat carbon emissions in our day to day life, but one person or even a thousand people going vegetarian won't fix our problems. Drastic political change is ultimately necessary.


Learning how to grow and preserve your own food, fix your own vehicles and appliances, build things instead of buying cheap Amazon/Chinese shit, raise animals, and maintain a dwelling are drastic changes and don't require government intervention. People did it for most of history so it's not difficult. If you want to survive, realize that consumer urban comfort is a 20th century relic.


Why so serious? /s

On a serious note, I hear you and agree with you to a certain extent.

Indulge me for a moment, in long run most likely universe will end up in heat death. So yes, we are screwed. But right now, it's time for action. We need to think of engineering solutions.

There are 2 key problems here:

1. amount of CO2 in atmosphere

2. heat added by sun every day.

Fix any one of them and we stand a chance. There are ways of fixing it from accelerating photosynthesis (chemically or by optimizing plant growth by controlling env. it's growing in etc.) or having a sun shade at L1 or just literally planting more trees.

I am assuming you are a techie, so you are well equipped with tools and you are certainly not happy, so you have a motivation.

We may not be able to solve it perfectly we can certainly make a huge dent.


A better alternative to a sunshade at L1 is a swarm of autonomous hot air balloons, which can change their reflectivity. A nice thing about this is that they do not need to be built all at once for the whole earth, but rich cities in north can use them to get more sunny days, and places like dubai would use them as artificial clouds.


You'd need a lot more balloons inside the atmosphere than a good way away from Earth at L1.


But they are much cheaper, can be useful even when partially deployed, and allow fine grained control over weather instead of making everything uniformly colder.


Blocking out the sun whether by a sunshade or light controlled nuclear winter/"artificial volcano" has the downside that it hurts agricultural production. And food production needs to increase anywhere by 25% to doubling by 2050, depending on which population growth hockey stick charts you look at.


That's assuming we block all the sunlight, but what we need to do is reduce sunlight in places like sahara, antarctica, middle of australia, and increase in places that are too cold. This can be achieved by satellites orbiting at lower level, or even stratospheric balloons. We do not need this to cover significant portion of earth surface, just enough to nudge winds in the right direction and change the humidity. Since the greenhouse effect from humidity and clouds is much larger than the effect from CO2, we can get much nicer climate even without reducing atmospheric CO2.


You might try reading channels that are more optimistic about human ingenuity and place less faith in the political process.

Here's an alternative approach: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-market_environmentalism


Can one LOL harder at this idea?

> Free-market environmentalists therefore argue that the best way to protect the environment is to clarify and protect property rights. This allows parties to negotiate improvements in environmental quality.

I would not hold my breath waiting for ExxonMobil, the Saudi Royal family, or any other powerful entity to give up property rights. This outcome is worse for them than turning the planet into slag.

> Owners face a strong incentive to take care of and protect their property. They must decide how much to use today and how much to use tomorrow. Everybody is trying to grow value. Corporate value and share price is based on their anticipated future profits. Owners with the possibility of transferring their property, either to an heir or through sale want their property to grow in value. Property rights encourage conservation and defend resources against depletion, since there is a strong incentive to maximize the value of the resource for the future.

Just like a CEO would never risk the long term sustainability of the company for fat short term bonus. /s

If humans were rational and were maximizing for future value we wouldn't be in this position.


Has there been any precedence of this? I know the US and China both have/had pretty terrible pollution without regulation. Has there been any good example of a country that has successfully implemented free market environmentalism? Because at a cursory glance it appears to be the same platitudinous "the market will resolve everything". I can't accept that when the future of the human race is at stake.


Regarding the "God will save us" comment.

It's easy to be skeptical but there are plenty of rational Christians who believe humans are made in the image of God, and while humans are inherently sinful (think the greed that plays a role in accelerating climate change), this brings them further from God. They believe that the closest to God you can be is to be essentially humanitarian. Humanitarians by definition would put aside personal gain to help their fellow humans (help reduce/eliminate climate change). Also that since the earth was given to us a gift, it is our responsibility to be good stewards.

Not all religious people think this way, but there does seem to be a sizable contingent who do.

It's a near impossible battle to fight, but that doesn't make it ok to give up. You eat an elephant by taking one bite at a time (and trying to convince other people how good elephant meat tastes)


The "God will save us" was not a dig against Christianity as a whole. I'm not a foaming-at-the-mouth God-is-terrible atheist. I just suspect that the reason people can continue to ignore climate change is due to an assumption that somebody will save us. For some, it's God. For other's it's a C Clarke-ian scientific magic. I actually attribute fiction to a certain extent. There's (understandably) not a whole lot of fiction that deals with an utter extinction of the human race^[1]. Even disaster movies end with the protagonist alive. What especially doesn't help is that there's a degree of romanticism in being the survivors. And everybody loves to imagine they'll be the ones to live.

^[1] Arguably Snowpiercer but people still interpret the ending in an optimistic fashion


Very understandable and a valid thing to be concerned about, thanks for clarifying. I didn't think you came off as foaming-at-the-mouth. Great example of why I love the level of discourse here.

It's a terrifying problem facing the world and like you said - it definitely could be the case that by the time rapid change starts occurring, it will already be too late. However, it might also be the case that it will just be a slow change that will be more manageable to tackle in time. "Rapid change" when it comes to climate science could mean over the course of a thousand years or over the span of seconds (K-T bolide impact extinction, Ordovician-Silurian (if it was caused by a gamma ray burst)).

The problem is that climate science is an incredibly complex field with an overwhelming number of interconnected factors and so all hypotheses are built on upon assumptions that are built upon assumptions. This is why it often comes down to the verbiage that you see so often in these types of discussions where people "believe" one way or another. The stakes are extremely high though and we can already say for certain that historically rapid change is taking place.

While I personally believe that it is a problem that warrants immediate action, I think it's counter-productive to demonize and strawman all who don't hold one's exact views as climate deniers or (on the other side) climate alarmists. This will only further entrench people in their views, widening the divide between people, and causing them to be more dismissive of anything that doesn't affirm their belief.

If people were more open to actively trying to hear out the other side and find common ground, it will be easier to come to a joint conclusion. By earnestly listening to people, they will in turn be more likely to hear you out as well. The vast majority of people don't actually hold extremist positions but because of the easy amplification of a noisy few, rampant strawmanning is taking place.

(I don't mean to imply you personally are doing any demonizing, or are guilty of the strawmanning, It's just something I often see in comments and wanted to give my two cents)


Increasingly beginning to think that the term "climate activism" doesn't quite encompass revolutionary nature of political change necessary to fix this existential problem.


Except it will be ok. Things will change, but things always change. If we can turn things back and reign in the major contributors to warming, great, but we can't change the past, and all of the doom and gloom kvetching everyone loves to do here does nobody any good.


Can I interest you in some existential nihilism? Works great for reducing anxiety and general cortisol levels.




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