This is a thought fallacy that leads us nowhere, it's a complex problem with many causes and lots of moving parts.
We can't just plant a bunch of trees and keep living like before, growing to 10 billions and beyond.
We need to plant a bunch of trees AND reduce traveling AND stop eating so much meat, AND stop fishing so much, AND stop creating to much waste, AND keep the world population under control, etc. It's not OR, its AND.
Thinking "Oh well someone is just going to plant a bunch of trees and fix it, I'll just back to eating my cheeseburger" is not a productive message at this point in time, when so much is still to be done to convince the general public that lifestyle changes are urgently needed.
The vast majority (~80%, ) of the greenhouse gas emissions do not come from "lifestyle" choices such as eating meat, but from transportation, industrial use and electrical production. These require changes at the policy level that individuals can't create by themselves but only by calling for action by legislators. Planting more trees on a national scale can absolutely be one of the many policy changes that we call for to help balance the scales, because we will never get those three sectors down to zero.
As for the specific question of meat, it would undoubtably help for everyone to eat less meat, but in fact if every single person in the US went vegetarian, it's estimated that it would only reduce the US's CO2 output by about 5%. 
But the reason we use so much transportation, industry, and electricity is due to lifestyle choices. Meat requires feed which is transported, and then the animals are transported, and then the meat itself is also transported. Industry makes those iPhones you buy a new model of every other year. Etc.
> As for the specific question of meat, it would undoubtably help for everyone to eat less meat, but in fact if every single person in the US went vegetarian, it's estimated that it would only reduce the US's CO2 output by about 5%
5% is nothing to sneeze at. Eating less meat alone won't stop climate change, it's true, but in combination with other sacrifices?
Here's my problem with the people who make arguments like you're making: I feel like you're unwilling to make sacrifices and are using this argument to justify how you can claim to care about the environment while also doing basically nothing to improve the situation. You'll say "well, one person isn't going to make a difference", yes, in the same way a raindrop does not consider itself responsible for the flood. If we are so unwilling to make sacrifices for ourselves, why should we believe that other people will make any? Why will they vote against their interests? Pay lip service to the idea in a public forum and then explain away your own contribution to the problem as being but one drop in the flood, voting is secret. Someone says "we should eat less meat", an objectively helpful thing to do by your own metric, and you say "No, no. It's a small thing, we should focus on something less important to me!".
It's frankly quite frustrating to see. Short of some miracle techology, I'm pretty sure this kind of thing is the reason we won't be able to avoid the worst case scenarios of climate change and future generations will look back on us with well deserved disgust.
Food or Goods which are cheap are very often not handled in environmentally friendly ways. For example, shipping foods and clothing from the US to china produces a huge chunk of greenhouse gas. Yet because of the labor differences offsetting the shipping costs, those goods are very often cheaper than locally made goods.
This is where policy really needs to be put in place. Personally, I think a carbon tax and tariff would probably make the most sense. Because, until it hits the wallet, you simply can't expect someone to choose the green option over the inexpensive one.
It also isn't always a matter of people being greedy or heartless. How can you expect the portion of the US making less than $60k per year (about 50% of the population https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2019/demo/p60-... ) to choose green over cheap? A reduced salary translates into reduced options.
You'd want to say something like "We are going to impose a 10% import/export tariff on all shipped/air transported goods" since land transport is a lot green than air or shipping.
The problem for the US is that if Mexico and Candida don't play ball, then what will happen is you'd see people shipping goods to Mexico and Candida and then ground transporting them into the US (That already happens now with Trump's tariffs. People are shipping to a non-tariffed country and than shipping it up to the tarriffed country).
So, what you end up needing to do is a 10% across the board tariff for all countries indiscriminately. But that can put you in a pretty big financial disadvantage if you are the only country doing that.
IDK, maybe someone will do it. I certainly wouldn't argue it for the EU, for example, simply because many of those countries are closer to each other than states in the US are.
I honestly don't know what the solution is to the shipping problem. It is a huge CO2 emitter and yet it's very nature resists any sort of financial disincentive. It is simply too easy to make goods switch hands in a non-taxed area to avoid taxes.
Maybe you could achieve some sort of useful agreement where countries can get tarrif exemptions for meeting similar labor condition, quality, and pollution standards AND enforcing the same tarrif on any country not party to the agreement - making a 'raised standards' zone, somewhat similar to EU. Enforcement may add more complexity than its worth, though.
> So, what you end up needing to do is a 10% across the board tariff for all countries indiscriminately. But that can put you in a pretty big financial disadvantage if you are the only country doing that.
I don't think this would actually be that bad. For one tariffs go into the coffers: we can use those funds to subsidize local manufacturing of goods our country cannot produce competitively vs other nations and help achieve local economies of scale.
I could see an exception if nuclear powered shipping became a thing, but that isn't really likely (I wouldn't want a shipping company in charge of nuclear waste management). That leaves us with battery electric shipping and... well... that's a TON of batteries. Battery density would need to be WAY higher than it is (like, near fuel density)
The tariff idea was one that would work if everyone plays ball, but I'm not enough of an optimist to think that is going to work.
I wrote that without really thinking about the ramifications (until the second post). At which point, my pessimism won out.
Carbon tax could still work though (especially if it becomes a "carbon dividend" type plan). Probably it's biggest problem would be measuring carbon output.
Candida is scientific name for the Yeast genus
Precisely because individuals act in the way you describe, change has to come from the top, ideally in the form of economic incentives. Make polluters pay, and the market will work out the rest. If you're worried about carbon taxes hurting the average Joe, well, just give the tax revenue back to the citizens – the competitive incentives still work regardless .
Getting this kind of legislation through requires putting pressure on politicians. And they would love nothing more than for us to continue bickering amongst ourselves about whether vegetarianism or plastic straw bans are the greater personal sacrifice.
I can have the exact same lifestyle in France and the US and in US my carbon footprint will be twice larger.
Eating local is bad advise in many countries, as impact of transporting food is much lower than the impact of growing it in sub-optimal climate: http://freakonomics.com/2011/11/14/the-inefficiency-of-local....
If you look at carbon footprint of an average person, it is made up of electricity consumption, transportation, heating and food. Durable goods like iPhones and fridges are absolutely irrelevant to the carbon footprint for 99% of humanity.
Real impact comes from renewables/nuclear, getting rid of beef and lamb in your diet, public transport and well insulated homes. That would get us down to 2 tonnes per person per year, and we would never have climate change and ecosystem can recycle 3.
It costs $50 to plant enough trees to offset your carbon footprint, you need a couple hundred trees a year and they cost 30-50p per tree to plant in UK.
It would cost $100-$1000 to sequester same carbon through carbon capture directly from the air, depending who you speak to.
And in terms of difficulty it's far easier to pass a carbon tariff that reduces our carbon footprint 5% than convincing the entirety of the U.S. to go vegetarian.
We don't need miracle technology, we have the technology to take control of the climate, and we'll be forced to use it, whatever other measures are used.
So lifestyle choices are great and all, but please stop saying they're for the climate. They're insignificant, even if 100% implemented.
The proverbial raindrop you're talking about matters very little if the reason for the flood is a dam breaking. Great attitude on the part of the raindrop to not make the situation worse. But all the raindrops together only make the situation 0.1% worse than it was before the rain ...
This is false.
> That’s why the late 2018 IPCC report stood out that reducing meat consumption by 90% is the single biggest way to reduce global warming. Some studies also show that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by over 75%. In this way, reducing your meat consumption is also a big step to stop not only deforestation but also global warming on a larger scale.
Or better yet: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2019/08/Fullreport-1... (search for "meat" and "diet")
But reducing farmland by over 75% is not enough by itself to counter climate change. And, if we can plant enough trees outside of farmland the reduction of farmland is not even neccessary.
It seems, we agree that we need more trees. But you want to get there by eating less meat. Yes, there is a connection between meat and trees, but why not just plant trees?
Edit: reduced the quote to relevant part
Just like death, I guess we shouldn't bother with trying to slow that down.
You're right, and it drives me mad. There's also the other side of it, when someone really does live off the grid, eat vegan etc. "Ugh who wants to live like that?"
> The vast majority (~80%, ) of the greenhouse gas emissions do not come from "lifestyle" choices such as eating meat, but from transportation, industrial use and electrical production
1. These industries don't generate emissions for the heck of it - they do it to satisfy consumer demand.
2. To force industries to change their ways of doing business, there's not many options beyond carbon taxes. Which will result in some changes - in manufacturing techniques, costs, end product - that are hard to predict now. Some may be for the better, and some, for the worse.
Given these facts canny businesses will almost always successfully lobby against climate regulation and taxes with appeals like "bad for jobs! no more cheeseburgers! they're taking away your SUVs!" to the electorate. But if people are OK with more expensive cheeseburgers or SUVs, these appeals have less purchase. You're not going to get everyone to give up these things, but at least they'll realize their true cost.
> if every single person in the US went vegetarian, it's estimated that it would only reduce the US's CO2 output by about 5%.
And that's exactly what GP was getting at. There isn't one single solution that will fix 90% of the problem. This type of thinking introduces complacency - "They'll fix it before it gets really bad. I heard you just have to plant a bunch of trees/drop some rocks in the ocean/run a carbon capture machine."
Our economy is a leaky pipe, with carbon dripping out all along its length and breadth. The solution to climate change is a bunch of 2-5% solutions.
Solutions to these problems really do need to take the human factor into consideration as well. Failing to do so will continue the flailing we're currently seeing.
Planting trees is a great start; I know of few people who want fewer trees.
The absolute best way to fix the problem is to develop new technologies which are cleaner and cheaper and equivalent or better than what they are replacing.
It is absolutely possible to discourage “dirty” production by taxing the externalities to drive production to cleaner methods at a higher cost. The effect of this is to drive up costs and this causes inefficiency, which is an economists way of saying it is harmful (to the economy and therefore to people).
Instead, if a new technology is developed which makes the “dirty” method obsolete which is both cleaner and cheaper, then the economy benefits and the world benefits.
We see this perfectly with the rise of renewables in power generation, and the fall of coal. In the last 5 years renewable share has gone from 13.4 to 17.6%. There is a tipping point ($1/W) which we’ve recently hit which will increase the growth rate. Give it 15 more years and between increased solar efficiency and lower solar deployment costs, combined with grid storage batteries, the grid could be 50% clean energy.
Similarly with EVs you have a product which now that’s it’s gotten to a point where you can make one that is better in every way than an ICE vehicle, manufacturers are racing to switch. You can’t tax your way to an EV future, but you can subsidize the R&D which ultimately allows a superior product to come to market.
If the message was consistently that cleaner products are superior products both in price and performance, you will have 100% agreement that products and production should be clean.
The alternative — that we need to sap trillions of dollars out of the economy to deploy substandard products and infrastructure which will deliver the same or worse service at higher cost, ban scores of products which people use, enjoy, or rely on, and increase taxes on a massive scale, I think that’s not only a losing proposition but that’s where you end up with the disastrous politics we have today.
Yes and no. We absolutely have to pursue cleaner technologies but many of those technologies are not mature yet. We shouldn't continue driving full throttle towards the cliff when we don't actually have fully developed solutions to go carbon neutral yet. It would be absolutely irrational not to cut consumption.
> It is absolutely possible to discourage “dirty” production by taxing the externalities to drive production to cleaner methods at a higher cost. The effect of this is to drive up costs and this causes inefficiency, which is an economists way of saying it is harmful (to the economy and therefore to people).
Yes, and this is part of what has helped renewable energy develop. If fossil fuel energy sources don't have their negative externalities priced in, they're going to be more economically attractive than renewable energy than they should be. When the true price is factored in, renewables are far better. In absence of a carbon tax, subsidies are another way to make the develop of renewables more favorable.
> Similarly with EVs you have a product which now that’s it’s gotten to a point where you can make one that is better in every way than an ICE vehicle, manufacturers are racing to switch. You can’t tax your way to an EV future, but you can subsidize the R&D which ultimately allows a superior product to come to market.
Part of the reason EV's have gotten to that point is because of tax subsidies and government investment. Without those helping hands EV's wouldn't be as far along as they are.
> The alternative — that we need to sap trillions of dollars out of the economy to deploy substandard products and infrastructure which will deliver the same or worse service at higher cost, ban scores of products which people use, enjoy, or rely on, and increase taxes on a massive scale, I think that’s not only a losing proposition but that’s where you end up with the disastrous politics we have today.
People need to let go of this idea that somehow we can make a shift to 100% renewables without any sacrifice. In some places the shift will be painless, in others it won't be. But make no mistake, the pain of climate catastrophe is going to make the pain of going carbon neutral look like a paper cut.
Laws of physics do not owe us miracle technology, and can't afford to sit on our collective asses doing nothing until one shows up.
These reflect heat from the surface of the earth. Without them we could be looking at rapid deterioration of living conditions due to feedback loops.
Innovations will not save us at this point. The global food supply chain falters and civilisation collapses.
Not consider that electrification of trucks, ships and planes is basically at 0%.
Replacing powerplants and other large caliber infrastructure takes even longer.
So we don't have the luxury of sitting around and wait for the market to sort itself out.
With funds materialized from where?
> sap trillions of dollars out of the economy
Are you suggesting that the taxes collected would just disappear out of existence?
We could tax carbon emission _and_ spend the revenue to subsidizing R&D
So I guess you could say yes, if we collect the taxes and then sink them into substandard infrastructure, that effectively destroys a lot of wealth.
Likewise, if you subsidize something to the point where an inferior product only makes sense because of the subsidy, that's destroying wealth. There needs to be a technological path which shows how any given piece of subsidized infrastructure can ultimately stand on its own. If the subsidized thing is structurally inferior, it has to be turned off the moment the subsidy is taken away, or the government is forced to subsidize it forever.
My own argument against subsidizing is simply the information problem. While a tax can add information to the market (this externality is expensive) a subsidy must be someones best guess at what should be done, which is most likely wrong. And as you point ultimately based on a distorted market.
I guess a public dividend would be better, less distorting. And it would offset some of increased costs.
But there are some lifestyle changes that, if we could convince a large section of the population to do it, may make some real difference. Like eating less meat -- and eating less food (see https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/obesity-climate-chan... ).
I look a the local thing because in my country's shops I can buy stuff that comes from thousands of kilometers away (I live in europe and I see quite often potatoes coming from Egypt, yep, and my country is the biggest exporter of products derived from potatoes...) Local makes sense on the fuel department.
Buying local stuff prevents me of buying non local stuff like : most exotic fruits, many fishes. Of course if I buy a pineapple that is grown in my country, it'll have a huge fuel quantity attached to it.
Buying local helps the farmer around my town. Even if it doesn't help, it sends a signal to whoever looks.
It also helps me to know the farmer, to ask questions (that's how I understood how screwed the milk market is).
It is also an exercise to learn to enjoy what's readily available and not look for novelty. And that, I assume, qualify as "imposing my view". But learning to love what's there and not always wish for more is a very important lesson in life.
People like me want less things and slower things. Everybody can do that (ie at some point in your life you'll have to accept you'll never have that sports car).
Now I use a car, an internet connection, etc. which doesn't help climate at all. It's impossible to be 100% coherent. But the little things I do, I do them to push for a change in mindset, mine first.
But the equations as to whether it's better in terms of the environment is a tricky one....
They buy gas guzzling cars. They stay in huge houses with massive heating bills. They endorse sparse suburban housing too.
I am also not a huge fan of those advocating for complete veganism in the name of climate change. (not those who make an individual choice mind you. That I respect). Ingredients like fish sauce, worcestershire and the like have trace contributions to climate change, and make it incredibly difficult to cook certain cuisines without. Fish, chicken and to an extent milk products make minuscule contributions to climate change and are still lumped together with red meat.
Some peer review & published studies  believe that total US veganism will lead to only a 2% decrease in GHG emissions in the US.
IMO, the most effective move would be to move to low meat cuisines. Stir frys, curries, brothy soups and the like use a lot less meat than burgers or steak. Some of those work perfectly fine with zero meat (minus meat derived spices/sauces). Feel like the current trend with veganism is a stop gap until we figure out hoew to lag grow our meat anyways.
Sure, they may require systemic changes, but certain people have to then get out of the way, like stop resisting things like traffic calming and bike lanes and dense housing development near their workplaces that allow people to change their consumption in the first place.
It's a self-fufilling problem. Previous generations prefered single family units so cites enacted building height limits and zoned most of their residential land for low density housing. Those areas are still highly coveted so they are too expensive for most people (e.g Boulder) so the current generation of middle & upper middle has to live in the suburbs which are also low density housing.
I do think that all options should be on the table, and moving the needle is an overall good. For the upper-mid US, a couple more nuclear power plants. For the mid-west, more wind. Southwest, more solar. Continued support for electric tax credits. Expansion of efforts to increase forests in terms of trade policy. Reducing/elimination of farming subsidies to large mono-crop farming, especially where using patented seed. Nutrition policy based on science, not religion.
Reduction of pollution as a primary focus would help a lot as well. Abusing pollution and climate change to push a political agenda brings out a lot of resistance. It also shows that most of those screaming the loudest really don't care as much about it as they claim.
> Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (24% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions): Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector come mostly from agriculture (cultivation of crops and livestock) and deforestation. This estimate does not include the CO2 that ecosystems remove from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in biomass, dead organic matter, and soils, which offset approximately 20% of emissions from this sector.
Plus, as other comments have pointed out, transportation and the rest are closely related to our lifestyles.
Bitcoin, for 2019, is another Denmark in CO2 production (34,730,000,000 kg this year alone) due to the amount of electricity it burns. This data compiled by digiconomist. https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption
Mind you, there are universities and critics that claim digiconomist understates the amount of power consumed by Bitcoin. I also think their average .49 kg of CO2 produced per kWh is a bit too low. Even when weighing for renewables on the average grid. Also, this doesn't take into account cooling costs. But at these numbers, it takes about 1.9 billion trees to neutralize the excess CO2 produced by Bitcoin, alone. There are other coins red lining computers as well.
Certain lifestyles as a target are silly when there's some others that are much easier low hanging fruit to deal with.
The non-cynical intepretation is that people focus on lifestyle changes because those are the ones they are personally able to do.
Edit: here https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/78/3/660S/4690010
Transportation, industrial use, and electrical production are all directly related to lifestyle choices.
Transportation is affected both by personal choices in accepting mass transit, using one's car, etc. Transportation of products is fueled by mass demand for new products built in far away lands, as well as cheap produce.
Industrial uses are usually in supply chains for goods people do not strictly need, but want for convenience.
Electricity production is either used directly as a consumer or to support that which the consumer would like to buy.
The greatest myth that has been fed to us in the climate change 'debate' is that there are large corporations out there polluting and burning fossil fuels for fun.
Most places don't have public/mass transit that can get you to work on time. Most people who care about climate change are also in favor of publich transport and already vote liberaly.
> Industrial uses are usually in supply chains for goods people do not strictly need, but want for convenience.
> Electricity production is either used directly as a consumer or to support that which the consumer would like to buy.
Without CO2 & other emmision taxes how am I suppose to know which consumer products are the worse offenders? (Besides the obvious ones like meat).
> The greatest myth that has been fed to us in the climate change 'debate' is that there are large corporations out there polluting and burning fossil fuels for fun.
No one is saying that. It's just considerably more effective to put the emmision taxes & limits on the production/corporation side than the consumer side. A good portion of American's aren't going to do anything of their own accord so policy at state & federal level is much more attractive.
In my experience, I know many 'liberals' who vote for transit, but do not take it, preferring to drive their car for convenience. Voting honestly doesn't matter. Public transit being provided by the government also does not matter. What matters is actually choosing to take multi-person transportation. Whether that be a public bus, or a private car-pooling service like uberpool, the effect is the same. You do not get brownie points for voting, sorry.
And before someone says this is anecdata, the facts support it: https://psmag.com/economics/why-people-are-not-using-public-.... Thus, conservatives and liberals are equally bad. Actually the liberal voters who voted for transit and then don't use it are worse because the transit going unused is probably worse for the environment.
> Without CO2 & other emmision taxes how am I suppose to know which consumer products are the worse offenders? (Besides the obvious ones like meat).
Just consume less? I dunno... wild thought.
> No one is saying that. It's just considerably more effective to put the emmision taxes & limits on the production/corporation side than the consumer side. A good portion of American's aren't going to do anything of their own accord so policy at state & federal level is much more attractive.
Um, that's fine. Choosing to tax at the production side due to easier regulatory enforcement is fine. The tax will be passed to the consumer, who can then use pricing to better judge externalities. However, taxing the production does not mean that the production is what is ultimately to blame for the emissions. The consumer is to blame. Without the consumer, the production wouldn't take place, and a production-side tax is a great way to enforce that consumers (who are fantastic at tax evasion) actually comply.
Suppose I need a new shirt, because my old one is ragged (pretend that I only have one shirt). There are two short brands I am deciding between, A and B. A is cheaper and they look like the same quality, so I buy A. However, the production of A (made in China, shipped to the US) is much more carbon producing compared to B (made just across the border in Mexico). Instead, I should have bought B. But the label doesn’t tell me that. A carbon tax on the shipping would resolve this.
That's important because the exact same product could be produced I a variety of ways, some many times more polluting than others.
- go by car or by public transport?
- buy local vegetables vs eating a burger in a franchise?
- turn on the heater vs use a bigger blanket?
- go to work in a suit with a tie in summer with A/C at maximum power vs go in summer clothes with a normal A/C?
That is voting with your wallet and your lifestyle. Please stop saying is others fault... it is our fault, of everybody, from politics to regular people. And we ALL have to do something.
I can have the exact same lifestyle in France and the US and in US my carbon footprint will be twice larger.
There is no reason eating out should have higher environmental footprint than cooking yourself. Buying locally grown vegetables is often the wrong choice.I can buy a tomato in the supermarket, and if it grown locally in the UK, it's carbon footprint will be twice larger than if it was imported from Spain due to fuel and heating needed for greenhouses.
Let's dig into details, do you know how environmental impact of bananas compares to that of oranges? You might have heard avocados have high environmental impact, but is that per KG, or per unit of calories?
But let's consider buying a manufactured product, like a microwave. How would I, as a consumer, ever know if was manufactured with renewable energy or coal?
I am happy to be proven wrong. If you do claim it's easy, I take it you at least know what's your annual carbon footprint and how many trees you need to plant to offset it?
There are obvious things, there are complex things. But not caring is not a solution.
Why did you exclude transportation and electrical production from "lifestyle choices" since lifestyle choices can reduce both of those? And it doesn't even have to be a large change in lifestyle -- do you really need that 18mpg full size SUV/truck, or would a 29 mpg car suffice for your daily needs and you can hire a truck when you actually need to haul stuff?
Humans do not have a great track record of predicting the secondary effects of their actions on the earth.
Meanwhile our society is incredibly wasteful of energy, and has a ton of low hanging fruit via reduction and efficiencies. The less emissions we produce now, the less we have to clean up with solutions like the linked above.
I'll also repeat this again because it's a common accusation leveled on HN. Most people interested in addressing environmental issues are not doing it to "virtue signal" or impose arbitrary values but because they want a healthier environment and to make the world sustainable for future generations.
But it seems to me it’s more than that: there’s also a lot of that age old instinct of trying to control others behavior... There’s a lot of talk about “we cannot keep...” and “the fallacy of never ending economic growth”. To me that just sounds simplistic and ideologically motivated.
When the world turns away from science and innovation, towards dogma and social control, it rarely ends well...
Great! Then you'll be happy to know the science modelling climate change due to human emissions has been well underway since the 1970s, and that science is also saying we need to reduce emissions AND sequester carbon already in the atmosphere to avoid catastrophic social and economic consequences (aka "lifestyle changes").
You should also be interested in the large amounts of innovation needed to address this - renewable energy sources storage, and delivery, innovative new ideas on how we can travel, grow our food and transform our economy into a more efficient and sustainable one.
Since you're interested in carbon sequestration such as Project Vesta, I'm sure you'd agree it makes no sense numerically to only start capturing carbon without also reducing emissions which have been growing non-stop. How do you propose this happens?
I know this is the accepted dogma, but I can’t say I see it as “numerically” self-evident. The OP seems to argue that %67 of all the CO2 emissions since the dawn of industrialization can be captured in a few decades, solely by planting trees. That sounds like a capture rate “numerically” comparable to the current emissions rate, no...?
(I’m not saying there is a silver bullet, but why do people seem so hellbent on there not being one...?)
The alternative, lifestyle changes, is better understood and the effects of which are easily predicted, but is only effective if done in a unified manner at a scale that current human nature will not allow. We can’t even figure out how to cure hunger and poverty in a world of plenty, good luck getting everyone to make the dramatic changes to even get us to stabilize at mostly broken planet.
The real answer is that beyond a deus ex machina there is no answer and that the inevitable easily and indisputably modeled result of the current situation is dramatic near-term biosphere changes, ecosystems collapse and likely the end of most advanced human civilization within a couple centuries, conservatively.
It must be a weird time to be a climate scientists, with the best computer models that have ever existed essentially returning a result that ends the world within a half dozen generations.
2. They are proven to reduce your impact at a level that most consider manageable
3. The other poster said AND - eat less meat AND get involved in other mechanisms for change
I dont have any interest in virtue or signalling: i just want people to impact the planet less so we dont trigger any unwanted changes. Is that a valid enough reason to ask everyone to try their best or do we keep having to have philosophical arguments about how individual free choice (shaped often by the corporations themselves!) trumps any imperative to collectively sacrifice?
For example, we can plant as many trees as we want but if population grows even at the current rate we are gonna need another planet. So what’s wrong in saying we need to slow down our own expansion. Same for industrial scale agriculture.
What I always find puzzling in all these conversations is the attachment people have to their lifestyle which probably evolved to where it is only in the last five decades - at most. Meat was never this readily available in history. Neither was energy. These are incredibly recent in our evolutionary period and yet they wreak havoc like nothing else.
In fact, population growth is slowing.  Claiming that we need population control is false and IMO extremely damaging to building consensus.
 - https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/17/worlds-popu...
China's former one-child policy, while reasonably successful, had its own unintended consequences (for one thing, too many people aging out of the workforce with too few to replace them). And even with their relative success, there was still a decent amount of dissent and people secretly working around the rules. And China had an authoritarian government to enforce all this. Do you really expect Western democracies to be able to push through any kind of population controls? Do you really expect, for example, the American public to get behind some kind of limits (even if just socially-enforced limits) on the number of kids they can have? That's just not going to happen.
On the other hand, all current IPCC scenarios require both lifestyle changes and a staggering amount of carbon capture, starting from 2030 peaking with up to 20 Gt/CO2/year in 2050 for the worst scenario (which we are very much on track for) . (Current emissions are around 40 Gt/CO2/year. )
Nobody knows how, and especially not how without side effects. That does not mean we should not try - we need to - but that means we have to pull all the stops, now.
Look at those plots, this is a desperate situation, and the IPCC reports are actually optimistic. /
But if you actually have something that will reduce emissions? Well that's a threat to their plan to get more money and power.
Some geoengineering solutions don't seem to be all that expensive (e.g. spraying sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere), and if things get really bad in some particularly hot places, somebody (India?) may decide to apply them unilaterally. Will we be happy about that?
If things get bad enough we'll get forced into geo-engineering, but as you said, unilateral action could complicate things in unforeseen ways.
Read about TWR (Traveling Wave Reactor) designed by these guys, financed by Bill Gates. It runs on depleted uranium, not enriched uranium. It's amazing how it works.
There's so many solutions being developed like this on so many fronts. But we're not doing any of them. I don't understand it. Government is not even being asked to finance this, but yet they won't approve it because of politics.
That's the problem with all these "We'd have cheap safe nuclear power if it wasn't for those stupid treehuggers" arguments - if nobody is doing it, not even in countries that are pretty reckless and unregulated like China, maybe the problem isn't regulation.
Overall our atmospheric models are not yet mature, which make carbon-trapping mechanisms from the atmostphere hard to gauge. Easier if we reduce or trap carbon emissions before it is spread into the atmosphere.
Please also consider we will eventually run out of fuel/oil/gas/coal; carbon dioxide savings is the long term strategy.
Project Vesta hasn't proved efficacy or ability to scale. It's reminiscent of the "solar roadways" hype from earlier this decade.
Most greenhouse gas emissions come from industry and transportation of goods.
It's less politically expedient to blame entrenched powers for their hand in climate change than it is to blame Joe Nobody for driving instead of walking to work.
So yes, I am a part of the problem. But we've gotten into this mess with technology; why can't we use technology to get out of it? Part of the problem is that, in taking part in these activities that increase our carbon footprint, we're not actually paying for the true impact of our actions. I'd be fine with paying more for my plane tickets if I knew that extra money was going toward carbon capture, or other technologies that are in development to reduce the impact of these -- by now very common -- activities.
I'm reminded of the checkbox memes; "You are attempting to apply an X solution to Y. Your idea will not work because:" -- one of my favorite checkboxes on those, was always "You are attempting to change the behavior of everyone, which does not work". I feel like this applies to most climate issues.
Implementing worldwide population controls is a non-starter. Implementing restrictions on air travel is a non-starter. Outlawing meat consumption is a non-starter. I love that companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are trying to come up with more sustainable meat substitutes. I think they have a ways to go, but I'd be happy to switch over to them at some point. That's a great example of using technology to reduce carbon footprint, while still allowing people to have the same (or nearly the same) experiences. Can't we do more of this?
At the end of the day, people are going to do what they're going to do, as long as they can (financially) afford it. Cultural/societal change on this level, in the time frame necessary, just isn't realistic.
We have no idea how that further manipulation would affect the environment, in a thousand unforeseen ways that would only be apparent decades down the line.
Half of the earth habitable area is used for animal agriculture, so that should be the first part being reforested, meaning less cattle feed, meaning less meat.
So we cover the surface of the earth with crop fields, plant a bunch of trees on the other and everything is going to be all right? Of course not, it's just not that simple.
Scientists simply cannot predict how the ecosystem would respond, the models are too simple for something so complex as the Earth.
We need to stop using so many resources, continuing to increase the rate of consumption while waiting for some miracle technical silver bullet solution is just suicidal as a species.
Coal is such a huge contributor to the problem that you can almost say that climate change is a coal problem. Not quite, but you're not wrong. I am deeply puzzled by anyone discussing climate change who doesn't bring up coal first, yet I see tons of discussion where coal is not even mentioned.
Snark aside, here's a source that says globally coal power production accounts for 30% of global CO2 emissions. That's a lot, but not quite the whole problem.
Actually I agree with you that getting upset over meat eating and plastic straws is a silly way to avoid tackling the much larger issues.
Also, I was genuinely asking for more information, and am still interested.
I'm not saying it's the best or only way to address climate change but it does seem consistent with addressing how it started.
A volume of 7 cubic miles (11 km^3) of olivine, or around 30 Gigatons, is needed each year. This is less than half the volume of construction materials and less than that of fossil fuel equivalents mined yearly.
That's gigantic, how can they sustain that 30 gigatons a year ?
It’s insane to want to suppress good ideas, i’m not sure you’d accomplishing what you intend with your criticism
EDIT: if you don’t like the title, criticize the title. Titles are written by clickbait artists, not the authors
They are criticizing this wording. This won't stop the climate crisis but sounds like a great first step.
I prefer solutions that involve changing the least number of stubborn and uneducated minds, and offer the most upside. Like industries that are run by professionals and are already accustomed to high regulatory requirements. Energy and construction industries seem like there's a lot of low-hanging fruit there, just for starters.
First, there's no harm in the fact that we need to plant more trees. Would we ever achieve the amount needed as stated here? Hell no. But it at least shows we do need to be serious and replant trees.
Edit: For the most part there's no harm in planting trees as long as they're appropriate for the ecosystem, both type and density. One thing the article doesn't talk about, an Amazon forest can be denser per acre while a pacific northwest forest has to be thinner. Due to both pests and wildfire management. I also figure soil fertility too, but I don't have the data for that one.
I think the most valuable take away, the amount of trees needed is a good way to visualize the extent of the problem. Mentioning that we pump however many billion pounds of, essentially "smoke", is meaningless to most people. To be fair, it's hard to wrap your head around the weight of a gas for 80% of the population, let alone how much is bad.
But 80% of people can understand, we fucked so bad, we need to plant an extra 1 trillion plus trees to start fixing those problems. That's somewhat easier to understand. It's just more tangible for people to think about. Super accurate, no. But it's more about getting people's head around the problem to understand the extent of work needed.
"Wow, 1 trillion trees. That's a lot. Is there anything we can do that's easier, but can lower that by 1 billion trees?"
"Why yes, we can do..."
"What else can we do so we don't have to plant another 1 billion?"
So we need to plant more trees, but it goes beyond 'appropriate for the ecosystem', we have to consider very many factors to anticipate whether the trees we're planting will be a nuisance or even a hazard in 10 years and whether they will even survive to sink carbon. We need to make sure we plant a good mix of native species to ensure that they'll survive diseases and shifts in weather, but also deal with the fact that not every species grows at the same speed somehow. Forests are complex ecosystems and we basically have to build new ones from scratch to really have an impact here, and that's more complex than just planting some trees.
I used to be a big fan of Just Plant Some Trees but after seeing the impact of the two things I cite below I've developed some skepticism of the idea that we can just apply Tree Planting as a blunt-force instrument to compensate for all the damage we're inflicting on existing trees.
Not really, as long as the lumber is used for durable purposes and the trees are replanted after cutting.
At any rate, it still increases the buffer of sequestered carbon and still means these forests can be logged, as logging with replacement for construction would sequester multiple times the forest's mass in carbon even if the extra sequestration period was limited.
Okay, but removing 2/3rds of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere strikes me as a damn good start.
edit: just to add some numbers for the context.
> Once mature, these new forests could store 205 billion tonnes of carbon: about two thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the Industrial Revolution.
Given the current emissions rate of ~10Gt (assuming no increase), the amount captured by these new trees will be re-added in just 20 years, and will keep growing afterwords.
Data point 1: Coal-fired power plants are closing at a rapid pace across the US, and no one is building new ones. Nuclear plants are also closing well before their end-of-life plans, largely because they are losing major industrial customers to cheaper sources.
Data point 2: The key cheaper sources are natural gas (due to fracking, which has caused supply to increase and prices to plummet), wind, and solar. The cost of utility-scale solar has dropped over 80% in the past decade(!), and plants are being built based on unit prices of under $60/Mwh, compared to around $100/Mwh for coal and nuclear. Onshore wind is under $50/Mwh and has a solid experience base of data for wind variations etc. Fracked gas is around $40/Mwh, but may be passed soon by both wind and solar. Storage tech (batteries etc) for stabilizing the grid with wind and solar in play are also becoming much cheaper, due to manufacturing improvements and economies of scale.
Data point 3: Electric cars are becoming common, if still a minority, and their prices are also dropping toward being in line with fossil-powered cars. There's every reason to believe this trend will continue, not just because they're getting more affordable, but because they're just plain better cars in many ways.
The infrastructure that burns fossil fuel is highly distributed. Millions (billions?) of cars on the road. Worse, millions (billions) of cold-climate buildings heated by gas or coal.
In the meantime, it's not growing exponentially. It had actually leveled off. There was a spike in the past couple of years, but it doesn't seem reasonable that it's a sustained pattern.
Estimated cost is a few hundred billion dollars. A lot cheaper than most methods of carbon sequestration. It also has the benefit that it could restore ecosystems if done well. People who focus just on carbon emissions miss that the are more systemic problems with destroying ecosystems i.e. in the long term biosphere collapse.
The larger problem is that it takes 50 years (or longer) for most of the carbon sequestration to happen.
OR eliminate coal as a source of energy.
Coal is the #1 source of manmade CO2 by far. Just switching from coal to natural gas reduces CO2 per kWh generated by 50%. Obviously putting any solar or wind alongside that natural gas cuts much more deeply.
By contrast the airline industry only accounts for a few percent of global CO2 emission. Why even bring up air travel at this point?
I feel like there's this perhaps subconscious desire to bring moralism into it by shaming people for consumption. The "problem" is that coal can be replaced with almost no impact to our lifestyle, and so getting rid of coal doesn't involve enough sacrifice. The narrative of redemption through sacrifice is deeply woven into not just Western culture but most human cultures really.
At the cost of increased methane emissions due to leakages from natural gas infrastructure that makes it far worse than coal since methane is a much more potent GHG.
Just a question: why should we?
Personally, I prefer global warming with the life quality of modern middle class rather than the wheather of 300 years ago with the life quality of ancient aristocracy.
If you want to go back to stone age, please feel free to go: I'm not retaining you.
On the other side, if we can discuss about how to improve quality of life for everybody, I'm in! And if we manage to solve global warming without impacting life quality, even better!
I think there's a latent suggestion in your language that reducing consumption discards all of the technological social progress of the past three centuries, while climate change presents a negotiable inconvenience. The balance is quite the opposite. You can keep cellphones, the internet, food security, modern medicine, and clean, running water. If anything, many of these advances are secured, rather than threatened, by curbing human-driven climate change.
>If you want to go back to stone age, please feel free to go: I'm not retaining you.
Beyond misjudging the gravity of the problem at hand, I think this comment is also a little short-sighted in appreciating the nature of the problem and our collective responsibility for it. The choices we make as consumers, designers, and voters have impacts that affect the whole world, including populations with clear stake but no voice in those decisions. It's particularly callous to tell someone whose island will be washed away by rising sea levels that they're free to eschew any technology they want to curb ecological impact while our own emissions (by absolute value or per capita) far exceed their own contribution to atmospheric CO2 levels.
I don't agree. I think you are seriously misjudging the actual possibility to convince billions of people to give up quality life in order to, maybe, have some positive return on climate.
I've just found a last minute offer for a nice weekend, but I have to fly to get there. Sure, I could skip my flight and those islanders will be happier. But no, they won't be any happier, unless enough people skip their flight for the flight to be cancelled. And even if this flight is cancelled, those islanders will not notice, unless a good fraction of the flights are cancelled, and for most of the year, and for several years. And still, they will not notice, unless most cars get converted to bycicles and heavy industry gets severely reduced or regulated worldwide, which means every object will become more expensive. And finally, in a couple of decades, those islanders may notice a difference... You know what, I'll hop on my plane! I'm really sorry for those islanders and for everybody who suffers for global warming (which includes me) but I don't have the power to make a dent into the problem.
"Tragedy of the commons" works against us, I'm sorry!
What you are proposing is simply unattainable given human nature. I am proposing a more pragmatic vision: global warming is true and it is here to stay. Let's learn how to cope with it, and in the meanwhile let's keep looking for solutions which do not impact quality of life, if any exist.
You can't stop murder simply by waiting for anti-murder people to stop murdering.
And I would argue consumers have a very big impact on how industry acts. There are a number of environmentally friend products offered that are regulatory requirements at all.
Oddly though, ground beef and chicken are the two substances that are the easiest to replace. There's almost nothing that doesn't taste a little like chicken once properly prepared. Similarly, there are plenty of ground up things that can substitute for ground beef. Then you can go into cost and life cycle. The cost of chicken is lower because of cycle cycle. The cost of ground beef is lower because it's low quality.
I'm fairly certain it's not the ground beef and chicken industry that are holding up the meat industry on the whole.
In this case you should spend more money on less meat. Just saying 'spend less money' continues to ignore the enternatilies that make meat production such a driver of climate change.
I started to simply collect seeds along hike paths and public spaces, where they wouldn't have the opportunity to grow, and either throw them or plant them farther where vegetation is more poor, dry, and decreasing year after year
That can be oak, hackberry, pine, fig trees seeds or cuttings. I clear up the ground around, uprooting a few weeds, and leaving them at the top with dead branches under, I think it helps keeping moisture, and hope it'll grow. I'll monitor the results
Also I eat a lot of fruits (bought at supermarket, produced in France or Italy), I keep their pits and seeds (peaches, apricots, clementines, mandarines, oranges, lemon, peppers, and other green garbage, and bury them in those places (instead of throwing them away in the garbage bin). They might not be able to grow, but at least it should be interesting for the soil life and it saves up garbage bins weight, etc..
I mean we could all live like caged hens and keep adding to our numbers for a while longer, but eventually there are going to be some hard limits to how many people the ecosystem can actually hold.
 - https://news.mongabay.com/2011/01/how-genghis-khan-cooled-th...
And Climate Crisis is just one of the symptoms. World's ecosystem is a multifaceted, wastly complex, richly interconnected and very reactive structure.
We as species WILL NOT get away with having power of a bulldozer and mind of a dragonfly.
A question: Considering human biology and mind, can human species ever collaborate and act together for a logical cause? I have almost lost all my confidence that we have that ability/function. I really would like to hear your perspective on this.
We should at least address the elephant in the room.
For centuries the west (including me) has consumed the planet resources while colonizing the rest of the world.
Now that poor countries started having access to the same kind of benefits we have, we tell them that they should stop doing it.
It's not gonna happen, so we.better start thinking about what we will do when the oceans levels will rise.
Hopefully for me living in the Mediterranean sea will make the catastrophe bearable.
Do you really think any country or society is "living like" before? Climate consciousness has come a long way. We are getting better in every aspect, though population growth will be an ongoing issue.
It will be impossible to progress if every time we try something or suggest something people shout "not good enough!"
That said, population is already leveling off. The main cause of population growth now is not high birth rates, but rather increased lifespans and lower infant mortality rates. By the end of the century, population will have leveled off and may even start shrinking some.
Plant 100,000 trees in a summer though and you’ve more or less offset your life’s consumption - cheeseburgers or no.
The Canadian approach however is tree farming. Workers plant 75k trees each per summer and make about $60k in three months. The trees are later cut down and made into lumber. This is actually more ideal than letting the trees age-out provided the lumber isn’t later burnt.
I agree we need people to be more conscious of waste and to reduce excessive consumption, but at the same time, we need easy solutions for people to contribute.
I like the dual strategy of Project Wren (https://projectwren.com/) that encourages lifestyle changes and buying carbon offsets at the same time.
You can already see this happening with the Green New Deal and Global Climate Strikes. The Green New Deal has turned into a jobs program. (Which is deeply ironic, because the Soviet Union was immensely energy inefficient and polluting, as a result of populist measures such as subsidized energy. Increasing middle class prosperity is inherently incompatible with reducing carbon output.) The Green New Deal, together with the climate strikes have become vehicles for socialist ideology. For example, despite experts broadly agreeing that we need things like carbon taxes, the Global Climate Strike platform categorically rejects market mechanisms to address climate change.
Carbon capture and cheap nuclear power can solve climate change, and we can do it without world government. (To many people, that second part is a downside, I think, which is why technological solutions to climate change get less emphasis than political solutions.)
But your argument is a bit of a straw man -- "do all things" refers to doing all things possible to deal with climate change, i.e. use new technologies that pollute less, engage in direct mitigation (like planting trees), and reducing emissions by changing consumption.
It doesn't necessarily mean implementing the green new deal as proposed, as one could possibly accomplish similar effects with a different set of measures.
But of course, your argument that carbon sequestration and nuclear energy will in effect magically solve this problem without the need for any changes in consumption or pricing effectively is arguing that we should, as a species, continue on our destructive path, because somebody else will come along and just fix the problem for us.
Wrt cheap nuclear solving climate change: Nuclear is currently one of the most expensive forms of energy. How do you propose we make it cheap enough so that we can essentially waste the energy for unburning coal we could have left in the ground by a more aggressive buildout of renewables paired with improving energy efficiency?
You'd better get yourself familiar with facts:
Since nuclear reactors are dispatchable by nature (through the use of control rods), the LCOE cannot be an accurate indicator.
So the financial models for reactors are built around selling electricity at a certain price and a certain capacity for several decades, maybe as long as 50 years. Most of the cost is up-front, which makes it very capital-sensitive. And capital is risk-sensitive, so unpredictability in energy prices and the risk of less expensive alternatives appearing (which is exactly what has happened over the past decade, with three different sources coming it at half the price of nuclear) raises the risk, which makes the capital much more expensive, which makes the reactor that much more expensive, which raises the price targets they need to hit, and thus... at a certain point, it makes zero economic sense to build reactors. It doesn't even make sense to keep running reactors we already have, which is why many are shutting down years ahead of their official end-of-life plans (and causing hundreds of millions, maybe billions, in sunk cost, which has an impact on risk...)
Dispatchability means NOTHING. There's a reactor in Iowa that's getting closed because it lost key industrial customers to cheaper wind. It can't be operated profitably at 50% power.
Can you share your sources of information?
Almost everything else in the comment after that seems a bit off-kilter to me:
> The Green New Deal has turned into a jobs program
"turned into"? Are you familiar with the "New Deal" of historical note that it's deriving the very name from? It's always been a jobs program. That's part of the point.
> Soviet Union
As sibling commenters have already pointed out, I don't see how this comparison was particularly well-connected or topical.
> Increasing middle class prosperity is inherently incompatible with reducing carbon output.
> The Green New Deal, together with the climate strikes have become vehicles for socialist ideology.
I don't disagree with that; what's your point, though? Are you trying to run with the association that "socialism=bad"?
I'm writing you from fairly-darn-Socialist (and fairly-darn-functional) Norway, so I'm not picking up.
> despite experts broadly agreeing that we need things like carbon taxes, the Global Climate Strike platform categorically rejects market mechanisms to address climate change.
Almost every single person I've talked to who has participated in or associated with the climate strikes has been an advocate for carbon taxes.
So, no. Those people and platforms do not categorically reject market mechanisms. In fact those that I've talked to seem to be essentially _on your side_.
> we can do it without world government
I'm sure that's true, but also, I'm not sure where there's been a suggestion of "world government" that you seem to be responding negatively to. Everything you've mentioned in your own comment is single-government internal proposals, or, groups of people advocating for general directions within their own local governments.
So in total: while I think you and I would agree in many many details about how to plan reactions to climate change, can I council you to polish your message to _focus on that_ and skip the world-socialist-government-conspiracy tinge? It's just not necessary. It seems to be making you believe you disagree with a bunch of people who... by and large agree with you, and are in fact interested in (and pursuing) market-oriented solution paths.
> I'm writing you from fairly-darn-Socialist (and fairly-darn-functional) Norway, so I'm not picking up.
Socialism is bad, but Norway is not socialist. Norway is a market economy with a large welfare state. https://www.heritage.org/index/country/norway. The two things are completely different.
Nearly all the countries that call themselves "democratic socialist" are in fact capitalist, with strong welfare states. Some, like Denmark and Sweden, and to a lesser extent Norway, are among the freest markets in the world. The lynchpin of the "Nordic model" is not socialism, but free markets that generate a large surplus, which is then taxed to provide a strong welfare system. Countries like Sweden have high taxes on individuals, even as they aggressively pursue deregulation and cut corporate taxes.
The Nordic model is a strong contrast from the "New Deal" which was strongly anti-market. It was built on government regulation of the economy, price controls, nationalization of industries, etc. It was an economy where the government decided how much it should cost for a flight from New York to LA. The ends might have been similar to Nordic social democracy (higher social welfare), but the means were wholly different.
Climate justice folks are advocating a return to the New Deal, not a turn to Nordic market-oriented welfare states.
The "Green New Deal" is by its terms about a government takeover of the economy: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/aocs-top-aide-admits-green-...
> It goes on to say that “a new national social, industrial and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal”
See also: https://demandclimatejustice.org
> In mitigation and adaptation (“maladaptation”) such as offsets and carbon trading, marketbased approaches to forests (REDD) and agriculture (“Climate Smart”), soil and water, large-scale geo-engineering, and techno-fixes, nuclear energy, mega hydro dams, agro-fuels, “clean” coal, GMOs, the waste to energy incineration industry, large-scale “re-modeling”;
Also: https://www.peoplesdemands.org (referenced from the Global Climate Strike website)
> 5. Facilitate and support non-market approaches to climate action.
> we must take immediate action, including policies for stopping all new fossil fuel projects, drastically scaling up finance and technology transfer from rich countries to the global South, and eliminating dangerous distractions like carbon market schemes.
> to reject false solutions like carbon markets, bioenergy and techno-fixes
Well, then, there you go: that's the meaning of the word, then. Or at least it certainly is to a lot of people.
I think we again don't much disagree, other than in a very surface level about the words. I go out for a beer with some Norwegians, and they self-describe to me as having ideals they call "socialist", because they're ideals around being social and building a society together, and that's what the word means to them. I accept this definition. Maybe you've got a different one in mind; words are tricky like that.
I similarly don't know what to tell you about the utility of taking the precise wording of websites as the ultimate truth of anything. Did every person in every klimastreik around the world read those two websites and sign off total agreement on every detail they proclaimed? Probably not.
I offered anecdata that many people on the ground, even around those causes, are very positive to carbon taxes or other forms of market-aware schemes to make a difference. It is, of course, anecdata. You can take it as a note of hope, perhaps? Or, not. Up to you.
And while not everyone who participated in climate strikes subscribes to the full range of ideas within the umbrella of “climate justice” it’s hard to deny the influence of the radical left on the movement as a whole: https://peoplesclimate.org/platform (look at the big list of members, including mainstream organizations like Sierra Club). It’s kind of like being a Republican in the current US political climate because you believe in a balanced budget. It may well be true that many republicans believe in fiscal responsibility. But the party has its own dynamic overall, and it’s not rooted in fiscal conservatism.
Climate justice leaders are not speaking the language of market-oriented Democratic “socialism.” They’re invoking the language of Marxists. They’re taking the failed ideas of big-S socialism, which countries like Norway rejected in the 1980s and 1990s, and are trying to rebrand them with climate change as the motivating principle. And the end result will be devastating. Those ideas were consistently a disaster throughout the 20th century, and they wasn’t work any better the next time around.
- "The authoritarian infrastructure will be built"
I'd argue it already has been built, by Google, NSA et al. Also, I fail to see why these "high levels of government regulation" would be bad, since we've tried the alternative and it obviously doesn't work..
- "The Green New Deal has turned into a jobs program."
I'm no american, but has this been put into law already?
- "the Soviet Union was immensely energy inefficient and polluting"
I do hear that from time to time but no one can provide any sources for this claim. Can you? Not planning on protecting the ol' USSR, but still seems insincere to just throw this around without attribution.
- "Increasing middle class prosperity is inherently incompatible with reducing carbon output."
That's a pretty flat statement. Why would this be so?
- "the Global Climate Strike platform categorically rejects market mechanisms to address climate change."
We tried this, it hasn't worked (so far). Why should we continue with this measure instead of other approaches?
- "Carbon capture and cheap nuclear power"
both of which do not exist. See my comment about LCOE and the link below for cheap nuclear power. With regards to carbon capture, we have some pilot plants but this technology (or rather mix of technologies) is nowhere near ready for the massive scale of deployment we'd need already. That's why the focus is on political solutions imo.
I don't think that's implied here. Clearly there's a lot to be done, this is just a good place to start.
The title is literally saying exactly that, it's not implied, it's explicitly said:
Scientists Identify How Many Trees to Plant and Where to Stop Climate Crisis
Planting those trees is NOT going to stop the climate crisis, a large number of other things need to be done too.
However, I think it's also true that some of the other solutions are likely to happen "on their own" eventually. E.g. technological advancements in alternative energy and electric cars are likely to eventually allow them to replace alternatives (if the environment survives long enough).
A lot of the other parts of the solutions don't have good ways to accomplish them. For example, I don't see a good way to reduce travel or population growth.
I for one, want to get past this so we can move on to fixing our society.
Quote from the article: "Around 0.9 billion hectares (2.2 billion acres) of land worldwide would be suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions."
This is wrong. The reason is a bit technical. The issue here is that about half of the emissions going into the atmosphere get soaked up by natural sinks, e.g. the oceans. However if you take carbon dioxide out of the air the reverse happens: The oceans and other sinks re-release the carbon.
This needs to be taken into account, but hasn't happened here. So the effect is only about half the size of what is claimed.
Sources by some climate scientists explaining this:
To be clear: There's nothing wrong with planting trees as one solution to the climate crisis. However this study was presented in a way that overestimated the effect massively. (Also I have some doubts that planting trees is "easy" given the political situation in the countries that have the largest potential.)
Nevertheless, it also shouldn't be the case that what you remove from the atmosphere gets released from the ocean in equal quantities - it should be seen as trees sequestering CO2 from both the atmosphere and ocean (and potentially other sinks) as according to however the equilibrium of the system works out, right?
I agree with your point that it's not a cure-all though. It might be overstated in the abstract but is still worth pursuing. The enthusiasm, I understand, for planting trees is that it's broadly seen as returning the environment to something that is more equivalent to an earlier point in history and so is seen as less likely to have adverse affects as compared to forms of geo-engineering with less of a precedent in nature.
This objection doesn't make sense. The article is talking about the total estimated amount of carbon dioxide generated since the industrial revolution. That's an absolute number. It doesn't matter where that CO2 currently lives, and it's not saying 2/3 of what is in the atmosphere.
But then you'd lose a lot of farmland, and have to destroy a lot of cities and homes.
Yet, somehow people in Europe think that a huge deforestation is taking place.
It's weird to me that people here seem to think of fields as nature, when it's actually huge zones where a single species of plant grows and where insects are killed with poison
EDIT: I will look for a source for this though, so do remain skeptical of what I just wrote for now.
EDIT2: this site claims a net loss in Dutch forest area of 3.8% since the year 2000. Clicking around on the map it seems like practically all European countries are losing forests faster than they are gaining them. At the moment I cannot find a source for the governmental policy claim though.
Change forest area into other use, e.g. residential, is hard AF. So forest-as-land-use is AFAIK not decreasing in Europe.
But re-forested areas are commercial forests, thus they're cut down. And the first re-forested forests reached their peak condition. So a lot of them are cut down. Usually they're given time to naturally re-seed from remaining trees (unless it was clear-cut, which are not advised in most cases nowadays), re-planting takes time and it takes time for that fresh cut to look like a forest again.
Trees take in much more CO2 while they're growing. So if we keep cutting down trees at their prime age, don't burn them and replant new trees in their place... That's pretty efficient. If that wood replaces some concrete in construction, which is terrible for CO2, double win!
We had a very heated debate about this in my country. Forest-land-use area is growing. But there're lots of clearings out in the forests. Cutting permits allow significantly less than theoretical yearly lumber growth. So sheer mass is growing too. But people see a clearing and think of that as deforestation.
Another issue when old and bio-diverse forests are cut down and then commercial mono-culture forest is re-planted in it's place. But from CO2 side - that's better than keeping the old forest in place. Not so good from eco diversity perspective though.
Person 1 - locally we (majorly developed nation) are improving resource X!
Person 2 - ... but you're not accounting for exporting/externalizing demands for resource X that mask true usage by us.
Person 1 - ah but XYZ group shows that even if you account for this (which is really quite tricky to account for accurately) then everything is fine and we are doing better.
But the ultimate test of whether or not we're really improving anything always has to be a global view. Local resource improvement is meaningless and accounting for exporting of consumption/production etc is very tricky to account for unless you simply look at global trends.
And globally percent of forest area has been in steady decline. I have no doubt some think tank has written a report showing that "even if we account for europe's exportation of plant biomass needs, things are still doing better" but all that really matters is always the global trend.
(The video at the bottom is a bit gushing but it's a decent view of what the reforestation projects want to achieve).
But of course in the end you get to claim that you are using more renewable energy and increasing local forest coverage!
Ancient forest can expand but it has to do so gradually to maintain the characteristic species mix. And in order to expand it has to be protected in the first place.
That actually highlights a global issue: We, in Europe, scold developing countries for doing what Europe has done (but it was centuries ago so people don't realise it). That is reasonable considering what we now know and modern technology but to avoid hypocrisy this should be accompanied by offers of help to achieve development and jobs without deforestation, and perhaps by no longer buying commodities that require deforestation.
This is the shifting baseline effect and it really negatively affects conservation efforts.
That's because they have empirical knowledge on the ground -- for example in my country there is tons of deforestation taking place, and has been going on for decades.
Note that statistics can be misleading, especially when governments want to paint a greener picture: e.g. areas can be de-characterized (from "forrest" to available for construction and commercial use, etc), after which cutting trees there is not "deforestation" anymore...
The plantations are dead wildlife-wise, and they alter soil chemistry such that native broad leaf trees will not be able to re-colonise.
The vast majority of us on here are some type of engineer. We can answer the question of "How do we efficiently plant 1bil hectare of trees within 5 years?"
Yes, we need to do other things too. But if we wait for some panacea plan to emerge it will be too late. Just do it.
Just imagine if we accomplished this within 5 years. How glad would we be in 30 years once they really started to mature? Let's be good to future us.
nature can plant trees instead. Trees, if left alone for a couple of years will naturally reproduce and plant themselves. The key bit is leaving the space alone. It is not something that really needs engineering on the whole.
There is a small amount of places where trees would not be able to colonise if left alone - and we need to use the science of Ecology to examine why. it's here where geotechnology can come into play, but for the vast vast majority of the billions needed, we just need to leave alone .
Now, saying that, there is a great benefit in getting children interested in nature and planting trees and so we shouldn't stop planting efforts for that sake. But there is a deeply troubling idea that we can engineer nature to save nature when it's nature that can save itself and us.
Some parts, such as New England, were farmed more intensively and have been allowed to go back to forest. In other areas, such as the midwest, poor or swampy land that was used for dairy farming pastures is no longer needed, since dairying is now concentrated in fewer huge herds. However, in these cases land had been allowed to go back to forests naturally, with scrubby transition shrubs and trees that are pretty poor forests. We could get both more carbon capture and more forest products by better forest management in the US. Invasive species such as kudzu, asian bittersweet, and porcelain berry make transitioning back to mature terminal stage forest difficult and expensive.
There's a pernicious influence from government here. It's unhelpfully easier to get funding for "plant 1000 saplings" than for "leave an area to transform into thorny scrub, pioneer tree woodland, and finally full woodland".
The TL;DR: version is that because it was choked with trees and brush, the groundwater had been removed. The owners restored it to primarily native grassland, and in the process restored natural water holes, and streams.
National Geographic did a really good 8-minute video on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSPkcpGmflE
More info on the ranch: https://bambergerranch.org
Trees are great in some environments, but not appropriate for all environments.
Impossible until it isn't.
Feels a bit too good to be true.
If the only "real" solutions are things like reducing human energy use long term, you might as well stop caring and just hope for the best. It won't happen, and even if it does than the long-term^ consequences might be worse than climate change.
The actually sustainable solutions are those that are cheap, positive sum, and lead to humans thriving.
IDK if this is a solution (or meaningful part thereof) for climate change. It's not really an easy solution though. Land politics are tough, to put it mildly. They always have been.
But that's absolutely the path we're on and have repeatedly chosen. I don't think comments pointing this out are claiming they are environmentalists, just pointing out something that very few people really want to discuss.
It's funny that we discuss "sustainability" as some sort of future goal, when, by definition, the alternative is a way of life that cannot be sustained. "Less unsustainable" is still unsustainable. Since serious sustainability is clearly seen as some sort of absurd joke, then we should at least stop pretending that things are going to be okay.
The really interesting part will be when we feel the other pain of unsustainable living: resource depletion. Fighting the impact of climate changes is going to be even trickier when we have less energy to do it with.
Energy is the one thing we shouldn't run low on given that we have the sun.
You're assuming that there are cheap, positive-sum solutions that will lead to humans thriving. I would be absolutely DELIGHTED if such solutions by themselves will meet the goal (I would also like to see other organisms in the ecosphere thrive, by the way - not just humans).
If such solutions exist, lets do it. However I'm both skeptical that they do exist and not yet ready to "stop caring and just hope for the best". I don;t find the counsel of despair to be particularly compelling.
Lets narrow this down to just energy consumption. I'm skeptical that we can reduce energy consumption^ enough to meaningfully impact anything. National/global energy austerity (like economic austerity) hits a wall very quickly. Whether that is at 5% or 20% doesn't matter. It certainly isn't near enough. Therefore, it is not a viable solution. If we are paying (via unemployment, etc) to avoid climate change.
OTOH, clean energy obviously is possible. Reforestation is possible. Various geoengineering projects are possible.
What makes them viable is, they carry the possibility of allowing us to massively increase our energy consumption. That is what cheap means, that we can afford more of it and be wealthier.
^Voluntarily. Obviously a major plague or somesuch could.
None of those mean "austerity", or unemployment, but they do mean adjustments. Moreover fee and dividend produces a nice market-driven mechanism to speed up the adoption of clean energy.
These aren't what I'd consider solutions. They don't add up to enough. Austerity (I still think we should do a little of this, temporarily) follows shortly after these "freebies." Travel fewer kms. Have fewer houses. Even with a little austerity, I don't think we can (or should) achieve negative growth in our energy consumption.
A "solution" would be a clean grid, using technologies that have the potential to improve over time and allow us to consume more energy. This means getting to cleaner and cheaper.
Also, at least here (Ireland/EU), people are very willing to talk about this level of inconvenience. More than willing. It's even at a point where politicians are promoting relatively pointless minor inconveniences (eg ban straws, divide recycling more) for political points.
I may have gone somewhat overboard with my comment though, reacting to other conversations I've had with other people (always a poor choice).
It's hard and sometimes impossible to get other people to change. Especially when they are in other countries where legislative changes aren't even possible. This means it can take a long time, at best.
It's easier to change ourselves. Come up with things we can do that have a positive impact is a great idea.
> It's easier to change ourselves
is a bold statement. Maybe some of us can muster up the will to resist $5 meat packages in the supermarket every single day. I am sure not all and especially not enough people can do that off their own free will.
So what we need is to make meat a luxury item again and ban any and all mass production of meat. It basically amounts to torture anyway and the meat quality is somewhere near garbage.
It would be a lot easier if the meat options in supermarkets were restricted to expensive "organic" meat from animals who lived in acceptable conditions.
Cheap mass produced meat is an incredible ecological killer.
Ok, so there will be people who don't want to lose their meat. I don't want to. But even others will resist that notion. It's not like the production is sustainable so sooner or later it will happen anyways. The question is, how much damage will we produce along the way?
How do you change meat to be luxury item in Russia, China, Brazil, and countries all over the world? If the people in one country decided to do it they can't legislate all of the other countries to do so.
Changing others is harder than changing yourself.
Simply switching from beef to chicken results in a dramatic reduction of greenhouse gasses you are personally responsible for. I ditched about 90% of my beef for chicken last year and barely noticed.
For starters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_meat_p...