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Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change (scientificamerican.com)
250 points by jajag 58 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments



It's long been known that the IPCC reports tend to be too conservative.

Nevertheless politicians take the numbers for the least dramatic predictions and turn them into promises that they then don't keep.

I guess that it won't be long before some country or other embarks on a unilateral geoengineering experiment. Perhaps when river basins in India start reaching lethal wet-bulb temperatures regularly. Let's just hope that it won't make things worse.


It's not even a thing that needs to be known specific to IPCC - this is a side effect of anything requiring consensus between many people, in this case thousands of scientists (and politicians?). For everyone (or the majority) to agree to sign their name to it, it must deal with the lowest common denominator.


Here are the predictions from the first IPCC assessment report published in 1990 for the business-as-usual scenario:

Increase in global temperature of 0.3 C per decade (1 C increase in 1990-2025); uncertainty range 0.2-0.5 C per decade.

Global mean sea level raise of 6 cm per decade (20 cm in 1990-2030); uncertainty range 3-10 cm per decade.

How were those predictions “too conservative”?


Because the IPCC didn't account for runaway positive feedback loops. So while the rise is slow, it is projected to increase exponentially as more of the Arctic melts: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Sea_Leve... which is from a 2017 NOAA study[1].

It's also worth noting that while 3.3mm a year seems low. That is the average, the sea level is not rising evenly across the world. To make this example a bit more real and close to home as HN is mostly US-centric. The current sea level rise is about ~8in/21cm[2], and Miami Beach is already flooding every year. This is because Miami Beach is experiencing almost a 1in of sea-level rise each year according to Hal Wanless, a coastal geologist at the University of Miami[3]. So using NOAA's own maps which show Miami Beach mostly underwater at 3ft we will hit that scenario in about 30 years at current rates[4], but once again sea level rise is not increasing linearly.

[1] https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/publications/techrpt83_Glo...

[2] https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/

[3] https://gizmodo.com/why-are-sea-levels-in-miami-rising-so-mu...

[4] https://coast.noaa.gov/slr/#/layer/slr/4/-8927570.466376439/... (You have to search for Miami Beach, the web app doesn't allow linking to locations.)


> [3] Throughout the record, they found that a combination of two naturally-occurring climate patterns—the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)—were associated with “hot spots” of sea level rise along the Eastern seaboard, including the southeastern hot spot from 2011 to 2015. (...) the Pacific Decadal Oscillation might also be playing a role.

> we will hit that scenario in about 30 years at current rates

Oscillation =/= Trend

https://xkcd.com/605/


What about all the unaccounted negative feedback loops? Like e.g. increased low lying cloud cover formation. A lot of these aren't taken into account by the IPCC either.


> these aren't taken into account by the IPCC either.

But they are. I know for sure that water vapour is a part of the models.


Eh, it's more complicated than that.

> Princeton University researchers have found that the climate models scientists use to project future conditions on our planet underestimate the cooling effect that clouds have on a daily — and even hourly — basis, particularly over land.

https://www.princeton.edu/news/2018/01/10/spotty-coverage-cl...

However, note that "the researchers found that inaccuracies in accounting for the diurnal, or daily, cloud cycle did not seem to invalidate climate projections, but they did increase the margin of error for a crucial tool scientists use to understand how climate change will affect us."


The links confirm that the clouds are the part of the models. Moreover, from the actual research paper, which compared the models with their data they collected about the DCC (differences during the day, which are less important than the averages) when we parse the text we find:

"the mean appears to be reliable"

"this model tuning does not seem to invalidate climate projections because of the limited DCC response to global warming"

"it may potentially increase the uncertainty"

So the paper can't claim more than weasel wording: "may potentially increase the uncertainty."

It's the averages that are important. It's good that there's the research, but at the moment it still seems it's about the details which don't invalidate anything. Especially it's nothing that can be called

"unaccounted negative feedback loops"

as claimed by the post to which I've replied.


What are some current plausible wost-case models that take the non-linearity of the sea level rise and any conceivable feedback loops into account?


> Perhaps when river basins in India start reaching lethal wet-bulb temperatures regularly.

Or when migration pressure substantially increases.

But whatever, I'm guessing that it'll be too little, too late.


This is already happening. Earlier migrations could be hand-waved away as being due to politics and war, but the current migration crisis in North America is absolutely due to climate change.

The chain of events appears to be climate change -> political instability -> war -> migration -> more political instability.


> but the current migration crisis in North America is absolutely due to climate change.

Do you have any proof of this?


From what little I know, it seems unlikely that climate change is driving substantial migration into the US. It seems to be mostly about messed up post-colonial political systems, and failed economic policies. Also some local-regional ecological damage, such as deforestation and soil loss. And the War on Drugs, plus training of gang members in the US prison system.

But that will likely change over the next few decades.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_American_migrant_carav...

> Drought and crop failure in the Central American dry corridor and Climate change in Honduras has been a factor in the formation of the caravans.[17][18][19][20][21][22]


I could understand if the majority of people migrating were farmers, but I haven't seen any statistics that would seem to indicate that is the case. Perhaps some of the migrants are moving because of that but I think there are more factors at play than just crop issues.


It's not just farmers who are effected by crop failures. Loss of crops means an increase in food prices. And when people can't afford food, they tend to take action. What would you do if suddenly, food was either 10x as expensive, or even no longer available in your state? Acute food shortages have been the reality for Mexico & Central Americas for the past decade.

There are many factors at play, but climate change is a a common threat to each of them. Crop failures and loss of arable land cause downstream effects which can result in political instability. Since the food price crisis of 2008, several regions all over the world have erupted in conflict. The Arab Spring was ignited by food shortages. The civil wars in Yemen and Sudan both broke out after severe droughts.

The last Central American migration crisis that the US faced coincided with an El Nino drought in 2014.


I wasn't aware of those caravans. And it does seem like climate change has been at least a contributing factor.


Well, here comes Snowpiercer.


The global disaster in that movie was a plausible plot concept. Humanity is already talking about geo-engineering concepts based on aerosols to reflect sunlight. The Snowpiercer universe just kinda took the 'Ice 9' from Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" book and used it for geo-engineering.

If we had that kind of technology, we would probably consider it with similar disasterous results.

Technology that impacts the entire planet, wielded by a desperate species, can have disasterous consequences if things go wrong.

Lucky for us, a form of ice that is stable and has a higher melting point isn't a thing in our world...

Us genetically engineering hardy organisms to terraform our way out of the climate crisis is the more plausible 'oops' scenario. All it takes is one project underestimating the results of their work for things to go wildly wrong.


If they were too conservative why did they need to revise down their forecasts?

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/01/ipcc-silently-slashes...


Just based on the url. (After having spent years reading it, I’m not touching Wattsupwiththat anymore)

“Silently slashes”: So silently that the information is easily available everywhere and is published publicly.

“AR5 Final draft”: Yes, it’s shocking that drafts change. It’s almost like the purpose of drafts is for them to be revised multiple times before they are published.

And finally, it’s almost a 100% that the “slashing” happened to get sign offs from political leaders of governments, without which they wouldn’t be able to publish the reports. If anything, this only illustrates exactly why the IPCC reports are far too conservative.


> “Silently slashes”: So silently that the information is easily available everywhere and is published publicly.

On this particular point; organisations do often 'silently' release to the public. For example, Westminster-styled governments are notorious for important things happening on Friday when the press is winding down or legislation never appearing in the talking points.

It is possible to silently do something in the public sphere. Editing draft predictions does sound quite mundane though, they probably weren't trying to slip that under the radar.


"This particular point" is not that it could not be done silently, but that is was not done silently.


> So silently that the information is easily available everywhere and is published publicly.

But "silently" doesn't mean "secretly". It just means that something is done without particular emphasis (maybe because it's not important, or maybe to avoid attracting attention). Note that our perception of the world is shaped more by what we collectively decide to pay attention to, rather than by all the information that is available.

> “AR5 Final draft”: Yes, it’s shocking that drafts change [...] it’s almost a 100% that the “slashing” happened to get sign offs from political leaders of governments.

So you're saying that the IPCC lied in its final draft? But in that case, did we pay attention enough to the fact that the official report was lying? Or we just let it slip silently?

Also, I don't understand how the political leaders could- or would- decide not to sign off a scientific report for predicting further 0.3 degrees of warming per decade. On what grounds?


That says the IPCC revised down their final report from the earlier draft, which accurately described what the models projected. Your article even said they did that revision without consulting the scientists who made the models.

That's entirely consistent with the claim that the IPCC's final reports have been underplaying the actual science, for political reasons.

(Your article is also from five years ago, and still talks about the "missing warming." That was always nonsense, but even hardcore deniers have abandoned that talking point since warming in the last five years has been dramatic.)


IPCC reports are all about getting scientific data acknowledged officially by governments. Of course many of those government officials participating in the process are going to push back against a draft that contains statements that have consequences that inconvenience them on the political field. That's to be expected. So yeah, when reading an IPCC report it's good to keep in mind that it is going to be conservative.


They are slashing the forecast because global warming looks less bad if we call it 1.5 K instead of 2 K, but they actually did change the baseline instead of their predictions.

At least I guess that is what whattsupwiththat tries to scandalize, unlike the IPCC they are very hard to read, because they don't actually write clearly. (For example, they do not label whether plots are observed data or model output.)


Revising down forecasts is conservatism.


But if they do so because previous forecasts proved too high, then they were not always too conservative


No one wants to pay the cost of tackling this problem.

Especially not the for-profit corporations that are responsible for some of the worst pollution in the world.

Ironically, they own the biggest capital and resources to be able to tackle the problem that they are creating.


waiting for business people to solve this problem is silly.

We need an institution that represents a broad cross section of the population. Something like...government


If one country can’t get its stuff together across religious, educational, socioeconomic and cultural barriers....how can a planet scale coordinated governmental effort by committee work?

Ask Al Gore how that worked. Or the Paris Treaty folks.


Works pretty well, except for the one country that is currently self sanctioning under the assumption that trade wars are easy to win.


Waiting for consensus is garbage. We don't need to wait for everybody else to do the right thing before we do it.

You also don't need an international agreement to impose tariffs on any country that emits more than a given amount of CO2 per capita, and if more than a couple of countries impose those conditions (or even just one big one like the US) then it gives others domestic cover to do something meaningful because they can argue they have to do it to avoid the tariffs. Meanwhile they can "retaliate" by imposing the same conditions and soon enough everyone is hitting their targets to avoid all the tariffs, without anyone ever having to sign up for a unified agreement.


Really? Are the other countries on target? I heard the EU was not.

I want it to work. I'm just not sure it is, or if humans are even capable of coordinating on the scale required to address this problem outside of some geoengineering solution.


We used to only live and cooperate with tightly knot tribal groups. Now we often call ourselves Americans, Europeans, Arabs, Jews, Sikhs etc. We are capable of cooperating on a global scale but a certain group of self interested folks need to get out of the way


Well if they are unwilling to do that it seems like we aren't really capable of it.

Just like we aren't capable of operating without corruption or war because a certain group of people won't "get out of the way"


Not all committees and not all governments are equal. You can't throw away either.


True but all you need is one of the bigger ones to spoil the party and that gives cover for everyone else. This problem cannot be solved by committee. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, I just plan to move to higher ground.


How can a planet scale coordinated governmental effort by committee work?

The same way countless other endangered subsets of humanity (particularly those facing essentially total annihilation by, or permanent subservience to a foreign occupier) have: by recognizing the simple the simple fact that they'll either have to put their heads together, put aside their differences, and "figure out a way" to prevail against overwhelming odds --

or face the inevitable consequences of failing to do so.


Our impending universal death may provide the inspiration we’ve been missing


I think the transition from apathy to resignation will be seamless - humans are not good at dealing with long term risk and threat. When it becomes an imminent threat, which will likely be soon, it will already be too late.

No, the only way anything changes is at the point of a spear. There has to be an imminent and tangible threat, now. Otherwise, it’s business as usual.


I dunno who downvoted y’all but this place has always been square ville. I suppose it’s even worse now

Anyway, Civilizations come and go. The Romans, at one point, had running water too

Whose to say we ain’t bout to run into another dark age?

But for sure, Silicon Valley has nothing to contribute

There’s not a single drop of revolutionary blood in that city


And on top of that, inter-government cooperation to tackle a global problem. Like we had to address CFCs pollution. With the political will to sanction countries that deny the evidence and won't play ball.



It's still being solved, in the sense that CFCs in the atmosphere aren't zero but they are decreasing. The new emissions were only a minor setback. From the article you linked:

> Atmospheric chlorine levels are still decreasing but more slowly than expected

The Chinese government tracked down the emitters:

https://nationalpost.com/news/world/china-makes-arrests-shut...


It is a strange moment in time we are in when government is no longer seen as a viable solution to problems. The consensus to act in the common good is being diverted into niche outlets. Is it a result of technological advance in communication? And how do we solve this problem? With more technology?


Restore faith in government; which entails restoring faith in elected officials; which involves electing people who support the common good; which requires people to take an active, thoughtful place in political discourse.


> Restore faith in government; which entails restoring faith in elected officials; which involves electing people who support the common good; which requires people to take an active, thoughtful place in political discourse.

Which requires people to work 30 hours a week (not 50) and requires removing money from politics, which requires an incredibly complex rebirth of the political system...

Not saying it can't happen, but the time frames don't add up.

We need to solve this problem right fucking now not in 50 years. And with a large segment of people still even denying the existence of climate change, it's hard to be hopeful about meaningful reforms in the right direction when so much has to change.


Agree with your goals. Now tell me how you think this can happen?

People are dividing themselves into so many self selecting grouping that it is nigh impossible to reach consensus.


Yes, as long as the government recognizes that the ones who created the problem are the ones who should pay for it, in other words the businesses and not the people.


It's a classic tragedy of the commons. It is in everyone's best interest for everyone to act, but it is in hardly anyone's individual interest to act alone if no one else does.


Why? Are there reasons to believe that the shareholders/board members of these companies would not be negatively affected by climate change? Or are they ignorant?


It's a tragedy of the commons situation. Any individual company could bankrupt itself with climate action and not make a dent in emissions. Worse, any progress they did make would be an excuse for other actors to lessen their own efforts. Little serious progress will be made until nation states start putting the screws to corporations and each other.


Except that climate change response is the best wealth generation mechanism for the 21st century. No company will bankrupt themselves by being more efficient, using more renewable, buying some batteries, EVs. These are already good investments. The problem is corporate greed driving down investment and morality in exchange for buybacks and CEO compensation.


> No company will bankrupt themselves by being more efficient, using more renewable, buying some batteries, EVs.

All those things cost money... More money than they are spending today. Even if they just replaced things as they retired, say a work vehicle -- there is still a non zero cost of owning two different types of vehicle.

> These are already good investments.

All the things you listed would normally be listed as a liability and deprecate fairly fast.

> exchange for buybacks and CEO compensation

This is such a small dent in the entire system that it would not make any difference if they spent all the excess cash on the problem. There was a article once about some big CEO of a airline getting some bonus of 12 million. Everybody was freaking out, and demanded it be given to the workers. I did the math on that one, it would have been about 19 cents a hour more for every worker (who were already making $12 + a hour, a 1.6% pay increase or less in most cases)

I am on your side, but just wanting it to happen and calling those who say the money math don't work as greedy is not going to solve the problem. I think people vastly under estimate how much it cost to run some of these large companies, and how thin the profit margin actually is. Paying even slightly more than your competitor can make our break you.


There is abundant incentive to not act unilaterally in a manner that hurts the bottom line in a competitive environment (i.e., most business environments). There is very little incentive in that environment to act collectively.


That's why voluntary unilateral actions won't be sufficient, but it doesn't explain why we're not taking collective action, like enacting a price on carbon.


That has quite a bit due to the fact that lobbying works and has an amazing ROI. It only cost about $1 million to divide voters enough to fail to pass a carbon tax in Washington State: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/rival-par.... (I understand it wasn’t just lobbying, but I think it played a major role.)

I hate to be cynical but the ROI of lobbying against climate change is super cheap. How can we switch this equation?


Get money out of politics, that is the one lens through which all issues are focused these days. The greater Good is out of focus while corporations focus the lens exactly where they want


Presumably they think they are rich enough to buy themselves out of any problems.


The sad reality is that they probably are able to buy their way of of this.

I was visiting Tito's bunker in Bosnia last week, and to think it was ok to build a multi-billion dollar facility to hold only 350 politicians and VIPs in case of global nuclear wipeout seems crazy, but when the need arises, people with power will always try and find a quick way out, often at the expense of others.


There is already a thriving economy of building climate change bunkers for billionaires.


The fact that they don't already live in their bunker suggests it would be a downgrade to their lifestyle. So why wouldn't they want to avoid it?


Was this the aerodrome in the mountain near the Croatian border?


No it's located in a mountain near Konjic, between Mostar and Sarajevo. It now serves as a modern art gallery and a museum to the cold war. The place is very well preserved, as the bunker's HVAC unit has been running since the 60's.


The vast majority of people, at best, think climate channge is something that'll be a problem for their grandchildren or great grandchildren. Many still believe it is a made up thing the news/politicians created.

Many people don't care about long-term stuff either. Look at how many people have no qualms throwing trash out their car window. Look at how many people have no qualms about taking vacations flying all over the place racking up tons of CO2 personally.

Even YC created http://carbon.ycombinator.com as they acknowledge it's an issue (to some extent anyway) yet they still fly hundreds of people out to the Bay Area for in-person interviews each year to select founders for funding, which could instead be done via video chat and used kilograms of CO2 at worst instead of many tons (on average, a plane produces a little over 53 pounds of CO2 per mile. This can be somewhat higher or lower depending upon the type of aviation fuel).

And then take people that truly realize how much of a problem is like I do.

- I have to go to work, it is not practical for me to walk to work so I have to drive a car to work.

- It is not practical for me to not use electricity, living in an apartment I have to use it to cook, to dry my clothes even if I chose to wash them by hand, to run the air conditioning a good chunk of the year to keep the humidity down to prevent mold, to run the heat in the winter because it gets down to -12F/-24C a few days of the year

- I can't walk around naked and both natural fibers and synthetic fibers rely heavily on oil to manufacture

- I can't go buy food from my neighbor or grow my own in a garden, so my food is trucked across the country or even shipped from halfway around the world

So people like me go "nothing I do on a personal level is going to make a damn bit of difference, why bother" and you sit there watching Netflix knowing that every gigabyte you stream is probably another 100-300 grams of CO2 into the atmosphere.

And you sit there depressed - knowing you are breathing in microplastics, knowing you are eating and drinking microplastics, knowing those microplastics and other air pollutants are likely increasing your risk of cancer considerably, knowing that 30 something cities with populations over 1 million people have run out of clean water (or water entirely) including India's 6th largest city by population, knowing that it's probably unwise to have children because sooner or later in their life the world is going to become a largely shitty and miserable place when food/water wars start, knowing that global insect biomass has considerably reduced in your short 34 years on earth, knowing because you are barely in the lower middle class you're probably going to be one of the ones to starve at some point because you'll lose your job and have a hard time finding another and a crop failure or three will cause food prices to go up 200%, 300%, 1000% or more in your lifetime and you'll get to experience what life is like for people in North Korea when you're eating whatever you can get your hands on.

The shareholders, the C-level employees, don't care because they aren't feeling the impacts already. They have fancy houses, fancy cars, take fancy vacations, they wear nice clothes and have more money than they need. The bulk of them have never filed bankruptcy or worried regularly how they're going to put food on the table, the majority of them have never known real struggle. They aren't concerned about climate change because they think the money will always be flowing in and they'll always have stuff.

Look at the articles over the past few years about the rich buying land in New Zealand like Peter Thiel did.


If it makes you feel better, by almost every metric the vast majority of humanity is living the best they have in all of human history. If you live in the west it’s even better because we haven’t had any local wars in nearly 80 years. I think a lot of people need to study history a bit more to understand how great things are now for most of the global population.


I definitely agree with you that things are better than they’ve ever been.

However, much of that security, it hinges on a delusion that this security will go away if we address climate change, which is of course mostly untrue. If we address this soon, it’s a matter of scaling back on a few luxuries while keeping other luxuries and the basics which keep us healthy and fed.

One example of many, how many suburban homes in the US touch much of their space more than once or twice a year? How many have multiple completely unused heated and air conditioned bedrooms? How much of suburban home’s storage is used by stuff which is bought and never gets touched again?

My house currently, about 2/3rds of the space is rarely touched, the storage in the garage and closets is full (organized, i’m not a hoarder lol) but full of projects and stuff which was bought because it seemed like a fun idea at the store, and all of that space is heated and cooled all year long.

The thought processes which go into the type of “need” for this much wasted space is just a norm readjustment which on a fundamental level mostly won’t impact our daily safety issues and still allow actual important luxuries.

If we wait, well, that’s when difficult decisions will have to be made, many of which will greatly impact fundamental life changes.


It's always best just before the party is over, right?


No?


The problem is that it won't be great for much longer.


There are no signs that technological progress is slowing (the driving factor behind our success).


Great so let's just forget any of what the parent commenter just said...

This Steven Pinker/Bill Gates cheerleeding nonsense is such a distraction. We need more anger and frustration to be stoked against those in power, not some kind of pacifying bullshit about how amazing all our technological gadgets have made our lives. It won't be worth anything once all the above starts happening. And for some people, this apocalypse has already begun.


Actually, the Amish demonstrate that all those things are practical, just inconvenient. Having a community helps.


And I'm not Amish, I don't have an Amish or Mennonite community to support me with all these things.

Also the Amish and Mennonite communities still heavily rely on mass-produced goods manufactured in the same factories we all get stuff from.

- mass produced pre-packaged foods (they will absolutely buy and consume junk food, I know a former Amish - he literally wrote a book called Growing Up Amish) and we have a ton of them here in Indiana)

- hired cars/mass transportation

- community telephones

- manufactured farm equipment

- refrigeration for dairy operations (they have to by law)

Amish also have

- Alcoholism in their communities, mostly among youth

- A good deal of drug use in their communities, mostly among youth

Orange is the New Black didn't include an Amish girl just for the novelty of it, the included her because it's accurate. I imagine a good deal of this escapism via drugs and alcohol is a direct result of their lifestyle.

And yes, some tribal society in Randomplace also lives largely without modern conveniences but they have the knowledge, they have the experience, in most cases it is all they've never known.

My comment was talking about ME, Ryan Mercer, not Generic Human. I can't go claim a bunch of land and set up my own farm/commune/colony, I do not have the knowledge or manpower, I do not have the resources, it is not practical for me or most of the 'first world'.


companies only plan 3 months ahead so it is not really on their horizon


They do plan well ahead but most investors consider each term to be an independent target.


Geez, I didn’t know that “for-profit corporations” where out there releases GHGs into the atmosphere just for funsies.

Also, fun fact: “not for profit corporations” in the Soviet Union were massively more polluting per unit of output: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-grim-pollution-pictur_b_9.... GHG emissions scale with energy efficiency, and in a socialist state that subsidized energy as an essential need, they had no incentive to be efficient.

GHGs are the result of the stuff people want—food, transportation, next day Amazon delivery, etc. for-profit corporations are a way to deliver that level of stuff as efficiently as possible.


You're right. The problem isn't the corporations, it's the system that allows them to exist.

We need a system that prices items based on actual costs: scarcity of raw materials, labor, pollution, and difficulty of recycling/reuse.

Currently capitalism only prices in scarcity of raw materials and labor, and even those it does a pretty shitty job of. Whether the state controls industry or not is ancillary to the need for pricing actual costs into things, which capitalism is completely incapable of.

What's really needed is complete transparency in primary production, such that if I buy a TV, I can see all the manufacturers/shippers, all the inputs to production, and all the workers and what they are paid in order to make that TV. Then the individual can decide between the TV that takes a liter of oil to produce or a TV that used solar energy for 60% of its production.

I'm sick of people pretending that capitalism is "democracy through spending." We don't have the information needed to make it democracy through spending. The market pricing system obscures all useful information and aggregates it into a completely useless number.


By they, you mean collectively? In the US the government annually diverts more than 25% of GDP, which is about 650 times what the largest private company diverts annually as profit and 100 times more than what that company has on it's balance sheet. So if we want to find the single entity that "own[s] the biggest capital and resources to be able to tackle the problem", it's the government. I think it might be more effective if we, being in a democracy, would tell the government to change its priorities for all that resource. But then that would mean it's our fault which means we wouldn't be able to point fingers at others.


It's a time value of money problem; there's been plenty of investigation into the future costs of climate change (most notably the Stern Report [1]) but people prefer to have money now, rather than pay now to defer future cost.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Review


>No one wants to pay the cost of tackling this problem.

No one can afford to. The most practical (wildly impractical and at present completely impossible) known method would be something akin to what YC proposes on http://carbon.ycombinator.com/desert-flooding/

They want to create 'pools' in the Sahara. Incredible amounts of desalination and pump the water into these pools to grow algae and then store the algae under anoxic conditions to effectively sequester the carbon. Problems with this:

- The cost simply to construct the pools, bring the desalination plants online, deploy pipes would be the single most expensive things humans have ever done, and may ever do.

- The power required to do this would exceed what humans already produce

- The amount of brine created would kill all life in coastal waters, we area already seeing this in the coastal waters of areas that currently heavily use desalination to provide freshwater to their populations. This would be on a scale several orders of magnitude larger.

- The amount of mining that would need to be done to provide the algae with what they need to grow beyond sunlight and atmospheric carbon

- The problem of actually sequestering thousands of gigatons of desiccated algae. Especially for the decades to centuries that would be required.

- The massive change in global weather patterns that could likely be catastrophic, that much evaporation over such a wide area would absolutely change weather patterns globally and would be extremely difficult to even remotely accurately model.

- Doing this in the Sahara would negatively impact the Amazon, the Sahara heavily fertilizes the Amazon as winds carry fine particles from the sand across the ocean. [1]

- The amount of clay, concrete, etc to create these 1 square kilometer reservoirs would alone likely make the project unworkable at the scale needed

- The cost of upkeep at the desalination plants, salt water is extremely corrosive, would cost unimaginable amounts of money. Maintaining pipes leading out to the reservoirs would similarly be extremely expensive.

- Running all of this pipe, in a desert you are suddenly introducing obscene amounts of humidity too via evaporation... you're probably going to generate some pretty incredible storms and it would not surprise me at all if you have regular failures/ruptures from lightning strikes on the pipes, the flash flooding (deserts can not handle even minimal amounts of rain well) would regularly cause massive damage to infrastructure as well

- Etc etc.

Sadly, the only realistic solution to the scenario is a fleet of alien ships showing up with exotic-to-us technology, gifting us clean power generation to meet our needs several times over and giving us some sort of widget to pull carbon straight out of the air and create carbon bricks out of it in exchange for IP rights to all of our tv shows and music for sale to the Galactic Hegemony.

The next most realistic solution would be to agree as an entire planet to safely shut down all fossil fuel processing operations and nuclear reactors, then EMP the entire planet and hope we can survive the next several decades of destabilizing weather while we learn how to be a pre-industrial revolution society again and wait a few centuries for the Earth to start to deal with the carbon on its own.

[1] https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/nasa-satellite-reveals-...


Removing CO2 is extremely expensive, sure.

But we're still adding CO2, in fact we're still increasing the rate at which we're adding it!


Anything looking at 2040 timescales is inherently not enough. That’s the definition of passing the buck!

No, there needs to be a decision at the individual level and the investor level to forego easy money on building the next furry slipper delivery startup and only buy (a lot less for a lot more) from companies that take this seriously, work for companies that take this seriously, and invest in companies who can be serious today.

Otherwise, Earth will solve this little problem one way or another. The talking monkeys may not like it, though...


Boiling oceans might be an end state life as a whole will have trouble recovering from.


Why grow freshwater algae to sequester carbon when there's already a readily available supply of saltwater algae in the form of seaweed?

Take seaweed from ocean. Turn it into activated charcoal using solar pyrolysis. Bury the charcoal in farmland and marginal land to make terra preta. Terra preta sequesters carbon for hundreds of years and makes the soil more fertile, reducing the need for fossil-based fertilizers. Plant trees and grass on the marginal land.


>Take seaweed from ocean. Turn it into activated charcoal using solar pyrolysis.

Kelp and seaweed forests are vanishing due to ocean changes (as a result of climate change) and overfishing in coastal waters. It will only grow in water with a maximum depth that effectively limits it to coastal waters.

Then consider that you would need several orders of magnitude more area to grow it than currently exists.

For the solar pyrolisys too, you simply couldn't process it fast enough even if you found a way to grow it fast enough.

The seaweed route is even more unworkable than the algae would be.

Similarly I did the maths on using the 10 largest fresh water bodies (all other life in them be damned) to grow azolla and even THAT wouldn't even get us close to carbon neutral (a fraction of being carbon neutral) assuming 100% sequestration to anoxic depths.

There legitimately isn't a workable solution here, even if the entire planet came together, other than outright abandoning fossil fuels completely in addition to establishing new seaweed and kelp 'forests', reforesting land that has been clear cut, switching to permaculture for our food needs, outright abandoning cattle for food, etc.

Humans aren't going to extinct, but the next few decades will likely cause drastic changes in civilization as we know it and a couple centuries from now, barring multiple miraculous inventions and/or ET intervention, life for the common man will be incredibly different.


Good points... I had free-floating sargassum in mind,which is washing up in volume on beaches around the world, rather than kelp or something that has to be ripped up off the seabed.

Sargassum is in a state of hyper-growth around the world. something has created optimal conditions for it. I suspect that whatever was taken from the ocean would quickly be replaced. Is there a calculable upper limit to the amount of sargassum that could be produced by the ocean if it were aggressively being removed?

Not saying this idea is practical, but the goal was to be more practical than covering half the Sahara with algae growing ponds.


>Is there a calculable upper limit to the amount of sargassum that could be produced by the ocean if it were aggressively being removed?

I suppose the biggest limiting factor will be whatever minerals/nutrients it is taking from the water being in a sufficient volume in a given area. Although water temperature will probably matter considerably too.


Brine can be recycled (as someone previously posted on HN)

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/desalination-brea...


But it isn't right now and you'd be talking about several orders of magnitude more than is currently being produced.

Current production appears to be something along the lines of 51.8 billion cubic meters [1] of brine each year being produced. Basically 1.5 brine per 1 desalinated water. If we use the YC page I linked above, " create millions of 1 km2 oases" let's assume roughly 2ft deep (61cm) and just 2 million oases... to fill them once you are talking about 1,200,000,000,000 cubic meters of water so 1,800,000,000,000 cubic meters of brine 34.75x as much brine as is currently being produced just to initially fill them, now factor in evaporation and water lost in algae you remove (to go sequester the carbon) and you're probably talking hundreds of times as much brine as currently produced. That's just for 2 million, what if you need 10 million of the pools? 20 million of them?

That's 1800 cubic kilometers of brine just to fill 2 million of the above pools, Lake Ontario is 1,640 cubic kilometers for some reference.

[1] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/desal...


One of the memes on https://reddit.com/r/collapse is "faster than expected," referencing the frequent articles mentioning how climate change's effects are kicking in much sooner than expected.


I don't know how to feel about that subreddit. On one hand, they discuss the daunting reality of climate change in a way you don't see in many other corners of the internet (besides HN). On the other hand, reading it is definitely not good for one's mental health and they often don't propose any solutions, and generally the mood is a very "we lost, the game is over" attitude. That's not going to help anyone, even if we are too late to stop a large amount of warming.


I stop by that subreddit every few months and it is frustrating that the only places people seem honest with themselves about the real impact of this is also filled with fatalism. Maybe they're right.

Even so, it's still worth _trying_ to fix it, or barring that, to try to save as many billions from a horrible death as possible.

The approach taken by Dark Mountain is a little better I think - they don't focus on false hopes, but a literary response to the catastrophe (apocalypse might be a better word) on the horizon and how to deal with it on a human level.

We're all doomed, after all, by dint of our mortality (or our sun's, barring that). Moments of joy can still be had.


It's just place where you can be pessimistic by default. It's forgotten everywhere else it seems.


Yeah, it's important for pessimists and pessimistic realists to have a place to talk about these things without the ever-pervasive prescription to hopium that seems to be tacked onto the end of every.single.article.

There can be an acceptance that things are too far gone for most people to impact positively, and that many people have consigned themselves to this. IMO as long as they aren't going out into public and trying to attack environmentalists who are trying to make changes, it's a good and healthy thing for people to have a community of like-minded individuals to talk with.


Oh, we've certainly lost as a society, but we'll likely survive as a species for a few hundred or thousand years, albeit at vastly reduced population levels. We're scrappy as a species.

We kicked in a climate shift that's triggering an unstoppable mass-extinction event that'll wipe out 99.9% of all species. Historically, recovery from mass extinction events like these take 50 million years for a new ecosystem to develop. We might survive through that, but it's longer than we've even existed as a species so we'll be nothing like what we are now.

I was a Gen X'r. My 9-year-old has started saying that he's Generation Omega - something he picked up from youtube - He believes that he's a member of the last generation (and I think I concur... things will get bad enough that by 2030 or 2040, people won't want to have kids because the death of the ecosystem and civilization will be a lot more obvious and something that impacts their daily life)

In anticipation of this, I moved to a region of Upstate New York that prediction models indicate will handle the climate impacts a little more gracefully. The goal is to build a self-sufficient homestead with longevity and extremes in mind.

Humanity cannot survive as a species like that though. We really need to start thinking of how to build town-sized or city-sized "arcology" habitats while we still have the resources and energy to do so.

Arcologies should be viewed as a backup plan to trying to save the planet. A sort of civilization time-capsule. If we fail to save our ecosystem and climate, then arcologies could provide a shelter for a few million people for a few thousand years while we figure out what to do next (engineering our biology to handle the environmental changes? terraforming? going off planet? expanding underground? engineering a new ecosystem?).

Sadly, arcologies are too expensive and would take so long to build that they're politically untenable with governments that either don't believe in climate change, or change every 4 years. Norway could probably do it with 25% of their Sovereign Wealth Fund.

I know it's fatalistic, but I honestly only see our chance of survival at this point is if someone cracks inexpensive and easy fusion power. With that, we could power a lot of carbon sequestration concepts that are just currently impractical. That, or a benevolent AI that takes over and forces a lot of uncomfortable changes to our society "for our own good"


You're at stage "bargaining", they're already somewhere between "depression" and "acceptance" - that's all.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model


Doom and gloom porn.

You can be certain the people on that sub throw plastic forks into their recycling for someone else to “sort”, drive so inefficiently their foot might as well always be on the brakes, order things from Amazon Prime they could get locally, spray pesticides and fertilizers on their lawn so they’ll have greener grass than their neighbors, make posts supporting climate change summits where everyone shows up in private jets....

Basically I’ve found extremely few people who make climate change their primary issue - walk the walk. They’ll be the first to tell you it’s tankers shipping all over the world of meat production that is the issue - while driving their aluminum and lithium Tesla (both shipped around the world for processing/production) to the store to get a New York steak for dinner and plugging in to their house which is powered by coal. There is no shortage of hypocrisy in this topic but I find it most ironic from the doom and gloomers of course.


Not exactly: Scientists have been giving confidence intervals and no one really paid attention to the wurst case scenario.


The article describes how long-tail outcomes have been excluded from forecasts out of a desire by scientists to present a unified voice so as to minimize perceived doubt.


This comment is the real headline. The communication around the models has been manipulated to make the entire body of work seem more confident and consistent than it really is.


> the wurst case scenario

Please elaborate :)


Wurst casing -- you feel it in your guts.


We're cooked.


We're sausaged?



I find it fascinating that normal food presented in odd ways and combinations can look so exceptionally repulsive. Maybe a variation of the uncanny valley phenomenon.


> Scientists have been giving confidence intervals and no one really paid attention to the wurst case scenario

The problem is, we've passed the worst case scenario scientists came up with in some areas:

Greenland's ice is melting at the rate scientists thought would be our worst-case scenario in 2070 https://www.businessinsider.com/greenland-ice-melting-is-207...


>wurst case scenario.

As long as we have rye bread, mustard and beer, I am willing to risk it.

Also - typo of the year.


I think given the current political climate (sic), scientists tends to be overly cautious on these subjects. They know they can be berated for any not fully proven detail or tiny error. All in all I don't think this is a bad thing, forces against real changes are such that incremental actions are the norm anyway.


It's curious how the situation can be viewed like this. In my experience it's the exact opposite. Headlines in my country (Germany) are absolutely dominated by the climate doomsday scenarios. Taxpayers spent hundets of millions of euros for "greener" energy, entire industries are ruined. We even killed nuclear because it's somehow not green enough. Heck even fusion energy is too evil. Fridays for future and the green party are dictating what is allowed to be said. Dozens of German cities are literally in a climate state of emergency (no joke). The sky is falling according to everyone.


I'd tend to agree - we're not even remotely cautious about claims about the pace of climate change. For example, a few months ago there was a (now largely retracted) scientific paper claiming the oceans had been soaking up much more heat than previously thought due to global warming, something like 60% more: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18352506

This was clearly suspect. The paper used a weird, indirect method to measure something that we could measure pretty much directly and got results that contradicted the direct measurements. The obvious conclusion was that their measurement method didn't work and it should've required some really strong evidence to overcome that presumption. Yet the entire press ran terrifying headlines and stories treating its conclusions as indisputable facts showing our world was even more doomed than previously though and the HN discussion was dominated by prophecies of doom.

It fell to a climate change skeptic to figure out that they'd substantially underestimated the margin of error in their calculations and that their complicated indirect measurement method simply wasn't accurate enough to conclude that the oceans had absorbed more heat than the previous measurements said. Which is why it's been corrected and the better news outlets have published corrections abandoning the original claims of doom which, naturally, most of the people who saw the original terrifying stories would never see.


And yet Germany has missed their climate goals for 2020 (which were already incompatible with the Paris agreement), and has dramatically slashed wind turbine construction (after dramatically slashing solar construction a few years earlier).


Yes we've spent a shitton of money, our power is ridiculously expensive, and we still have way worse co2 emission than France. But hey we're saving the world I hear!


I pay about as much for electricity as I pay for Internet. I wouldn't call that "ridiculously" expensive.


It's about twice as expensive as France I think


It's true that it's expensive compared to other countries, but the absolute amount of money that the average German pays is quite manageable.


>We even killed nuclear because it's somehow not green enough.

Unfortunately for some areas, that might be a necessity going forward. Just last month France had to scale back their nuclear power when they couldn't sufficiently cool the reactors due to a combination of the heatwave and less rain than normal, Germany was also affected by that.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-electricity-heatwa...


I'm no expert but seems to me your country (Germany) has long been in front on these issues, you have a strong green party and activists since the 70'. But hidden forces were and are nevertheless still looming, see the automobile industry and the scandal with diesel emissions, I'm sure there are scrambling to transition toward EV but in the meantime I would not be surprised if they battled behind closed doors to slow the adoption or proposal of measures that could hurt their business and in the end German economy.


If anyone would be serious about co2 emissions then we would go nuclear. The green party is not pro-nature.


The greens have a terrible split between "environmentalists who want a drum circle" and "environmentalists who can add". The former think nukes are an unspeakable horror.

TBF, if you can add, you also realize that nukes are a mediocre fix at best, given that wind/solar/better efficiency get you where you want to be generally much cheaper. But if you're looking at "nukes or coal" it should be a no brainer.


Ok, I see your point, problem is nuclear is clean (wastes excluded) as long as everything is going just fine, but as soon there is an issue it can have a massive impact on the environment. I'm myself in favor of nuclear energy but I also can see its danger and understand why some peoples are against.


Well, the sky is very likely falling but it is falling so slowly that the older generation won't see any severe effects. In the great scheme it won't matter so much what Germany does if the rest of the world continues to burn the coal. The only direct effect that deindustrializing Germany has is it will kill the German economy today.


Germany is continuing to burn coal, that is why axing their nuclear was such an unforced error.


The unforced error was/is not building out solar/wind/battery storage etc.

Instead they just added a tax for every citizen to pay on electricity and KEEP promoting coal.

Also WHY don't counties/cities own any solar/wind power stations to increase independence and lower long-term cost ?

Instead they sell out to companies or rich investors instead and those get subsidized.


Having a powerwall that can feed your local core infrastructure (hospital, water treatment, schools, etc) and then solar to charge the powerwall would mean you could isolate yourself from high spots prices for electricity.

With your own local powerwall, local grid tie will charge local capacity and be ransomed by the utility.


Its tragic and beyond infuriating that the demographics least likely to recognize the threat of climate change are also the least likely to ever personally feel its effects.


Countries can act as role models. If it is possible for one country to achieve a goal then all others can try to replicate the success.


But in Germany it is mostly us (i.e. the citizens) having to pay directly via taxes on electricity or fuel etc and arcane ways to get any subsidies.

Where big corporations are doing squat it seems.


I wish we were all as concerned as germans.


>"Elsewhere we have documented a pattern we label "erring on the side of least drama." By this we mean that scientists often have a tendency to avoid dramatic findings, because drama is associated with emotion, feelings, irrationality, and even femininity, qualities that have traditionally been viewed as at odds with scientific rationality. We have shown that in several domains related to climate change, scientists' estimates of various threats - CO2 emissions, Arctic Sea ice loss, Sea level rise - have tended to be low relative to actual outcomes. Scientists considered such underestimates to be "conservative" because they are conservative with respect to the question of when to sound an alarm or how loudly to sound it. (It is of course not conservative when viewed in terms of giving people adequate time to prepare.) The history recounted here is consistent with this finding: That WAIS assessments underestimated the threat of rapid ice sheet disintegration, because most of the scientists who participated were more comfortable with an estimate that they viewed as "Conservative" than with one that was not." (Discerning Experts, 2019. Michael Oppenheimer, Naomi Oreskes, Dale Jamieson, Keynyn Brysse, Jessica O'Reilly, Matthew Shindell, and Milena Wazeck)


What about the idea of adding particulates to the atmosphere to block a portion of the sun's rays?


Large releases of atmospheric sulfuric particulates tend to be highly correlated with mega-droughts in the southern hemisphere and disruption of the African and Indian Monsoons, leading to famine and mass displacement.

Of course, It's very difficult to establish causality, but there's some information about it.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221209471...

climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/GeoengineeringJGR9inPress.pdf

https://archive.org/details/travelsthroughsy02voln/page/n6


We're already doing this. If we stopped all of our emissions tomorrow, the global temperatures would suddenly get a lot hotter, not colder for a while.

It's called an Aerosol Masking Effect and it's explained here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/cl3ger/record_he...


We could try to simulate a volcanic eruption, which have demonstrably cooled the planet in the past. Also I wonder with cheaper rocket flights, can we put sunlight reflectors over the arctic regions to save their ice?


Instead of putting reflectors into orbit it would be cheaper to use hot air balloons, but in general either reflectors or balloons are the best solution to climate change, because they allow to actually control the weather, and the amount of rain different places get. By creating more rains over sahara, we'll not only get more place to live, but the new ecosystem there would consume all the CO2 that was added by us into atmosphere, so we even wouldn't need to reduce the oil usage for now.


A couple of strategically detonated nukes on a tradwind path should cool things down. The same super computers that predict the weather can predict exact placement and yield.


May I point you to doi 10.1002/2017JD027331 that concluded "This analysis demonstrates that while modest, statistically significant differences occur during the first few years, longer‐term impacts are unlikely, regional in scope, and limited in scale. None of the simulations produced a nuclear winter effect."?


I guess that is good and bad news. Hopefully India and Pakistan don't try and refute the findings.

Since you are now my Oracle, how large of a cold spot can we create using a space based sun shade? What would it take to keep arctic methane in the ground?


Seems to be a really good solution, which is I am perplexed on what all the panic is about


Dr. Gwynne Dyer gave a talk, "Geopolitics in a Hotter World" – Sept. 2010

> So when the Hadley Centre put these numbers out they were incorporating (which the IPCC does not) the early impacts of positive feedbacks, as well as just how much carbon dioxide will we put into the air by 2060. First time that had been done, but it gives you a really frightening number…and then they did the map. Which is again, something that’s not normally done, and the consequence is we don’t have a lot of time. We’re in deep trouble. And the military know this; the military know this everywhere.

> the rule of thumb is that you lose 10% of global food production for every 1 degree Celsius higher average global temperature.

> So food becomes the critical issue and the countries most impacted are tropical and subtropical and this is where the geopolitics comes from.

> “people always raid before they starve.”

> There’s already a well established pattern: when you’re in deep trouble and you can’t feed your family, head north.

> But the dirty secret is that you can only shut a border if you’re willing to kill people.

> No government that cannot feed its population survives.

> We’re going to go through the point of no return (and probably a good deal further) in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Almost certain.

> And there is maybe a way to cheat: and that is geoengineering.

> “we’ve crunched the numbers and we figure we could get one degree Celsius of cooling average worldwide just by painting all the roads and the roofs white.”

> I talked–actually, the head of the Bangladesh Institute of Strategic Studies about this (you didn’t even know that existed, did you?). Well, there is one, it’s quite serious–run by a General, bright guy. I said, “have you heard about geoengineering?” and he smiled–seraphically–and he said, “Mmm. Yes. Your question?”

> And I asked the question, “Do you think that this is something the Bangladesh government might want to do a little bit, before, let’s say, the US government or the Chinese government?”

> He said, “yes it has crossed our minds.”–and then he stopped talking.

...

Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc_4Z1oiXhY

Transcribed: https://spaswell.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/dr-gwynne-dyer-geo...


Doesn't water cool when it changes state? Ice melting should be pulling down temps for the time in that spot? More heat would evaporate more water and thus cool more?


[flagged]


He tweeted that a few years back. Since then he basically has said remarkably little. Had to face ZERO questions at all of the 5 debates he went to. In office, he has basically used the weather is cold, scientists disagree BS q few times, but still remarkably silent. I believe Ivanka and the younger folks around him tried to get him to stay in Paris accord.


Except methane is the cause and intentionally so as it will dissapate in less than a decade but make it appear as if the world is warming more quickly than estimated.

It's a trick and people eat this shit up hook line and ignorant sinker.


This comment seems like it would be flagged/dead by now ... Do you have any citations for the claims you make?


You're welcome to research and learn - I suggest you start with hydroxyl radicals.

Asking for citation in a world of counter examples and studies is a little technocratic. Maybe just logic and learn it.


I understand wanting to be intellectually lazy about it, but when you make a claim the burden of citation lands squarely on your plate.


All the trappings of an intellectual. Yet none of the critical thinking skills.

Someone convinced you citation > opinion.

That was wrong.


What a sad account.


It is really interesting to look through. Ton's of conclusion jumping, ideology, cynicism. I mean, it's only sad if you have transcended this stuff, otherwise it's relatable probably!


What a pedestrian response.


If that response is 'pedestrian' would it be 'hipster' to join you in your self-deceptions and spews of negativity?


What if humans collectively decided to not have any new kids anymore and maximize quality of life for the humans that already are living on planet earth?

I would love to see this thought experiment thought out in detail. What decisions would we make? Where would we invest? Would climate control still be an issue?


It would change fuck all. The regions where there is still a lot of population growth (e.g. Africa) are so far behind in qualify of life compared to the massively CO2-emitting countries that any attempt to improve their qualify of life means we continue to increase the CO2 output for decades more.

Anyway, there is no chance that humans will collectively decide anything, least of all that.


First of all, humans are the only sentient beings in the known universe. Second, most humans have children because that is maximizing their quality of life - it is a living organisms instinct to replicate, and (most) humans are no different. If you feel different, check the stats on how many have children, and think, you may just be in a bubble. Humans have endured millennia of starvation and disease, try to keep our upcoming hardships in perspective.

Beyond reasons why it would not maximize our quality of life, collectively deciding to not have kids just would not do any good. You are taking people 'like you' out of the gene pool, while people who choose to not go with the collective will procreate.


    most humans have children because that is
    maximizing their quality of life
Citation needed. I have read several studies about which factors improve quality of life. I cannot remember a single one that had "children" in the list of factors that significantly improve happiness.


Just yesterday - https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/children-happines...

Parents with grown-up children report being happier than those without children (but those with younger children are the least happy).


First paragraph:

    Parents often say their children bring them joy
    but most research suggests kids cause financial
    worry, stress and anxiety.
Second paragraph:

    However, the latest research suggests children
    do actually make people happier – but only once
    they’ve left home.
That is in line with what most studies come up with as one of the central aspects of a happy life: Having friends. I would think that kids kinda fall in that category after they left home.


How about "being a grandparent"?


Children Of Men is a great movie on this topic, you can give it a watch.

But I'm genuinely curious about people that think like you. Okay, so everyone dies by about 2100, then what? What is the point of basically anything?


What is the point if humans exist another 1000 years? Or does it have to be a million years? How many years does it need to breed meaning?


Enough that we can spread humanity into space and/or develop sentient technology.


Forever. I mean, life is a natural consequence of the nature and physics of the universe, and human civilization is a natural consequence of life processes. Existence and progression is the meaning.


> Forever.

Already failed then.

Scenario 1) The universe will end in heat death, the big rip, or other similar cosmic catastrophe.

Scenario 2) The universe continues on for infinity, giving plenty of time for even the most ridiculously unlikely of events to occur. It is therefore inevitable that humanity or whatever progeny it might have will still ultimately cease to exist.


Scenario 2 isn't actually so clear. Over time, humanity can decrease its suceptability to being wiped out by unlikely events at a faster rate then the events themselves over time.


But we can never hit 0, and infinity is a long time.

That's leaving aside that 2 is already pretty unlikely given what we know of the universe.


Time is a property of the universe.


I love Childhood’s End [0]

Also there’s this : http://vhemt.org/

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childhood%27s_End


A gigantic "no thanks" to vhemt.org. Thanks for the recommendation on the book. I'm gonna pick that up.


We rely on a mixture of generations in society, you need young healthy taxpayers to support the elders who raised them.


Since the large majority of all humans will still be alive in twenty years the climate will still be ruined even if no more children were born starting today.


How do you know that?

There are over 100 million kids born per year.

So after one year we would already have less emissions caused by 100 million people.

After 20 years we would be 2 billion people less. That's quite significant.


We need to be carbon neutral in twenty years. 2 billion people less (most of them from poor countries!) are not enough.


Humanity would die out. Doesn’t seem very useful.


It would be to the other 99.9999% of species. Maybe E Coli amd Herpes beasties get the shaft.


You should watch the anime Parasyte


Define useful.


Keeping with the primary objective of every living species (survival and reproduction).


A good investment would be armaments and ammunition. The only way such inhumane rules could be satisfied would be through large-scale violent enforcement. "Collectively decided" is a euphemism.


And Mars colony technology. We can simply use it on earth.


We could start with a global two children policy. But it's extremely hard to go even there.

Two because we should have second chances, and alone children are less socially adapted than those with siblings.


The global fertility rate is below 2.5 children per woman today. We're almost there.


selfishness + nihilism, what a program...


i think it would lead to humanity's extinction as the humans that are around now will eventually die


what if humans collectively aligned with populist ideologies and stoped caring about equality, democracy, capitalism, materialism, consumerism?

systems that maximize human rights and equality were created in a vacuum and ignore external side-effects.




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