Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Scientists Identify How Many Trees to Plant and Where to Stop Climate Crisis (goodnewsnetwork.org)
432 points by ph0rque 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 327 comments



It's not either one solution or another, or what is the best solution, there is not one single solution for solving climate change, it's not that simple.

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.


If I play devils advocate here for a moment: Why is it that everybody is so interested in “lifestyle” changes, and so uninterested in things like OP or Project Vesta [1]? I sometimes get the feeling that some people just see this whole climate thing as a good opportunity to force their (pre-existing) values/virtues on others...

1. https://projectvesta.org/


Exactly. People (not necessarily the parent comment) love to focus on the lifestyle choices because they allow them to paint those advocating change as hypocrites, and so dismiss the entire message.

The vast majority (~80%, [1]) 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%. [2]

1. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emis...

2. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/21/climate/what-if-we-all-at...


> The vast majority (~80%, [1]) of the greenhouse gas emissions do not come from "lifestyle" choices such as eating meat, but from transportation, industrial use and electrical production.

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.


The problem is one of economics.

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.


I think people have a lot of negative emotions towards tariffs because they were implemented by Trump, but I think de-globalizing with a minimally-coersive market solution is a great way to incentivize local production and reduce shipping emissions.


Yeah, I don't honestly think it will work simply because not everyone would adopt it.

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.


Yeah, I think tariffs should be applied equally to all goods at the border.

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.


Yeah. The big thing for me is you'd want to discourage big shipping vessels burning bunker fuel. Even with equal pollution/labor standards, shipping something from china to the US probably shouldn't happen.

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)


Maybe hydrogen instead of batteries for ships?


I love your auto-correct function


Heh. I always like to challenge my ideas, if not from someone else then by myself. I don't think it is terribly healthy to be 100% sold on single ideas (or at least not to have thought about consequences).

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.


I think parent comment was about your typos "Mexico and Candida"

Candida is scientific name for the Yeast genus


You're right – so take your argument, and follow it to its logical conclusion.

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 [0].

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.

[0] https://citizensclimatelobby.org/basics-carbon-fee-dividend/


It is not lifestyle choices, and most of what you've written is factually wrong.

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.


You're trying to turn a coordination issue into a moral one.

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.


I don't get this reasoning. Global warming has been self-reinforcing since before my dad was born, so a 100% reduction in human co2 emissions will not stop climate change, just slow it down. It's also an exponential process and we're not in the early stages, so it won't even slow it down that much. Imagine the effect of a 5% change now, which is a completely unrealistic goal to boot. It's nothing.

https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/08/why-positive-climate-feedba...

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 ...


> So lifestyle choices are great and all, but please stop saying they're for the climate. They're insignificant, even if 100% implemented.

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.

https://e-csr.net/definitions/what-is-definition-deforestati...

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02409-7

Or better yet: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2019/08/Fullreport-1... (search for "meat" and "diet")


> Some studies also show that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by over 75%

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


>Global warming has been self-reinforcing since before my dad was born, so a 100% reduction in human co2 emissions will not stop climate change, just slow it down.

Just like death, I guess we shouldn't bother with trying to slow that down.


Apparently if you add up all the C02 of the food you buy imported world wide and compare that to the C02 generated by driving down to the store to pick up that food it's the driving that produces much more CO2 than the food transportation. To me that's a surprising result that shows just thinking about what's going on is an unreliable guide to what really is going on.


The vast majority of what is transported is not food. It's other material goods. Targeting the pennies misses the budget by pounds.


> People love to focus on the lifestyle choices because they allow them to paint those advocating change as hypocrites, and so dismiss the entire message.

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%, [1]) 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.


But people want their SUVs and cheeseburgers. If you force people's standard of living to go backwards too far you will soon be voted out of office or have a revolt to deal with. Telling people to consume less does not work at the scale we are dealing in here. We need to find technical solutions because the cumulative lifestyle changes would be so massive they are a non-starter. With sufficient technical solutions the behavioral solutions can hopefully be small enough to be realistic.


This is an important consideration. Our lives are the best they have been in, well, ever. And our lives are better for the very reasons that cause problems with the environment.

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.


Solution is always "provide incentives" for any meaningful change to happen. Without incentives , without recognition, without working on human mentality nothing changes.


> To force industries to change their ways of doing business, there's not many options beyond carbon taxes.

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.


> 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.

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.


> 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.

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.


Luckily there are innumerable innovations happening every year to provide environmentally cleaner products, whether it's LED lighting, emissions technology, battery chemistry, clothing dyes, irrigation techniques, crop resiliency, or even a more effective cold water formulations of laundry detergent... when cleaner is correlated with better, it wins in the general market all by itself.


The ice caps are likely to have gone in ten years.

https://static.skepticalscience.com/graphics/sea_ice_predict...

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.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice–albedo_feedback

Innovations will not save us at this point. The global food supply chain falters and civilisation collapses.


we don't have time to wait for future innovations, because they take decades to deploy. Look at cars - even if every single car produced from tomorrow onwards was electric, it would take 20 years to replace cars already on the road. And most cars being produced are not electric. And electric cars are more expensive, today, than their ICE cousins, so a random poor bloke in Russia is not going to be buying one.

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.


> you can subsidize R&D

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


The trillions I was referring to would be to build new infrastructure that is more expensive to operate instead of less. It was already stated elsewhere, but if you spend investment dollars to decrease productivity, you waste money twice -- first on the new equipment, and second on the added cost for each unit output.

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.


ok, thought you were arguing against taxes for subsidies.

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.


Listen, one person saving plastic bags won't save the environment, and sometimes when I hear a self-righteous person making a big deal about "eating local" -- which may or may not be fuel efficient -- my eyes roll.

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'm one of these self-righteous dudes.

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.


I like buying and eating local, too! For economic and social reasons.

But the equations as to whether it's better in terms of the environment is a tricky one....


Telling people to eat less food is entirely counter-productive to the goal of building democratic consensus on policy and tax changes which will reduce pollution and drive innovation in cleaner production.


Eating local in inefficient in many Northern countries like UK, as transportation is far less polluting than heating: http://freakonomics.com/2011/11/14/the-inefficiency-of-local... A lot of people just spout slogans like "eat local" without ever looking at the numbers.


we people need incentives for doing anything. We cannot force anyone to change. We need incentives for change to happen. for example, stop using plastics and get tax reduction, or plant more tress around you and get some tax benefits. Like using eco friendly car gets you tax benefits. some incentive to get people to do what we want to do. Here we are not forcing anyone and people will have choice to decide their future.


I remember the change from paper bags to plastic bags. It was a huge step up in terms of usability and convenience. However you decide to replace plastics, it needs to take in mind the convenience and hygiene that plastics brought to the table.


The funny thing is, that even people that make these lifestyle choices can be hypocrites in their own right.

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 [1][2] believe that total US veganism will lead to only a 2% decrease in GHG emissions in the US.

[1] https://www.pnas.org/content/114/48/E10301 [2] https://theconversation.com/yes-eating-meat-affects-the-envi...

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.


Huh? Those are lifestyle related. Transpo and electrical use are consumption, primarily of the middle and upper middle class and their preference to drive and live in sprawl rather than dense, city centric housing. Industrial uses refine petroleum/steel/copper, etc...for use in commercial goods that are then consumed by the middle and upper middle class. I agree with the meat deal (I never understood why people treat it like it's a major cause of GHG's, the most it contributes to flattening forests for farm land but usual AG does that too), but the categories you mentioned are either directly consumption or facilitate consumption.

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.


> Transpo and electrical use are consumption, primarily of the middle and upper middle class and their preference to drive and live in sprawl rather than dense, city centric housing.

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'm not claiming everyone who lives in sprawl does it because they want to, but these people then turn around and support measures that reinforce that, like any regulation that makes driving more safe. You're right though about NIMBY's, but that's why I said "middle and upper middle," as in people who do have a choice and some latitude in their choices. Even if no individual is the source of demand (which is true), in aggregate their demand reinforces the system.


Agriculture is a major source of GHG and meat is multiple times more energy intensive to produce than plant foods. It's not as large of a contributor as transportation and industrial manufacturing, but it's still a significant contributor.

https://www.nature.com/news/one-third-of-our-greenhouse-gas-...


Even then, some of us cannot realistically go vegan/vegetarian (legume allergies, t2d, do not respond well to grains). Also, farming works better with and can use better integration of animal and plant farming in support of each other. Much more than the large mono-crop farms we have now. It's about supporting an ecosystem, not force feeding humanity as much mutant grain and legumes as possible.

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.


Sorry, but your sources are accounting for the US only, it is not global. In 2014, the top carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters were China, the United States, the European Union, India, the Russian Federation, and Japan. According to the chart, in 2014, US made up 15% of those emissions.

> 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.[1]

Plus, as other comments have pointed out, transportation and the rest are closely related to our lifestyles.

[1] https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emiss...


May I point something out?

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.


> People (not necessarily the parent comment) love to focus on the lifestyle choices because they allow them to paint those advocating change as hypocrites, and so dismiss the entire message.

The non-cynical intepretation is that people focus on lifestyle changes because those are the ones they are personally able to do.


(I need to find this study. I’ll update my comment if I do). Meat contributes a lot more than 5% when you breakdown transportation or deforestation or cultivation and land and energy used for cultivation of food for livestock - instead of simply livestock. The study said the number was closer to 18%.

Edit: here https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/78/3/660S/4690010


I don’t see the 18% number in your linked paper. It says total US food production (meat and otherwise) uses 17% of fossil fuel consumption.


I got my sources crossed. This [1] is where I read the 18% number. Note that the 17% quoted is for fossil fuels only - land use, water use and deforestation are not factored in. Also 85% of that 17% is for meat and dairy.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/climate/cows-global-warmi...


> transportation, industrial use and electrical production

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.


> accepting mass transit

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.


> Most people who care about climate change are also in favor of publich transport and already vote liberaly

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.


> Just consume less? I dunno... wild thought.

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.


To some extent, it's not about reducing emissions as so far as voting with your wallet. If a large enough group unsupported the meat/airline/etc industry, they would go bankrupt.


I would like to vote with my wallet, but products don't come with 'CO2 emitted' labels.

That's important because the exact same product could be produced I a variety of ways, some many times more polluting than others.


I don't think it is that complicated:

- 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.


Thank you for getting it wrong and demonstrating my point. It is actually complicated - otherwise you would have gotten it right.

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. http://freakonomics.com/2011/11/14/the-inefficiency-of-local...

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?


what about the other 3 examples I told you?

There are obvious things, there are complex things. But not caring is not a solution.


They are reasonable, and of-course we should care. Out of the things you listed, public transport is probably the most impactful.


The vast majority of the greenhouse gas emissions do not come from "lifestyle" choices such as eating meat, but from transportation, industrial use and electrical production

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?


5% is a significant percentage.


I wouldn't say people are uninterested, I would say we need to do more than hope for "silver bullet" technology solutions to address the problem after the fact. Especially when it involves geoengineering on a scale orders of magnitude larger than have ever been attempted, and doesn't address the reason we'd even geoengineer.

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.


Personally I don’t care one bit about the “virtue signaling”: people can signal their virtues all they want for all I care.

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...


> 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").

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21115669

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'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.

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...?)


I think it’s because most current futuretech solutions are pipe dreams at best. The scale of the problem is such that we need to learn how to essentially execute a planned terraform of a planet in the near term (as opposed to the current unintentional terraforming), using tech we don’t yet even have scribbled on a the back of a napkin to create massive effects on the planet using processes we don’t fully understand. It’s the equivalent of saying “to fix this we need to invent warp drive and genetically bioengineer human bodies to withstand prolonged periods of 100G acceleration and figure out how to extend human lifetimes to thousands of years, and we need to get it done in the next century.” It’s a fun fairy tale.

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.


1. They are not lifestyle changes, they are fundamental reductions in carbon footprint.

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?


I have an SUV, eat meat every day, and fly once a month. I am carbon negative through TerraPass. The solution doesn't need lifestyle change for those who can pay to offset. It needs lifestyle change from the rest.


So it's OK to crap in the street if you pick enough litter that you're now poo-negative? Carbon emissions is not the only major climate impact from the things you mention and it's not about "paying your dues" as an individual.


I'm not listening to some carbon positive individual lecture me. Fix your house first.


If you are driving a car you are destroying our planet.


Nah, you're doing worse than I am unless you're carbon negative too. My car is fully offset and all marginal stuff is offset too.


Or that it results in a more sustainable world? I support a multitude of solutions but it’s also clear to me that unless we change our lifestyle to match the very long term future sustainability every solution is going to breakdown - just a matter of when.

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.


> 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.

In fact, population growth is slowing. [1] Claiming that we need population control is false and IMO extremely damaging to building consensus.

[1] - https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/17/worlds-popu...


> So what’s wrong in saying we need to slow down our own expansion.

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.


Many climate control projects have hard-to-judge side effects and are currently either hard/expensive or impossible. It is cheaper to not burn the carbon in the first place. Carbon capture might be easier to control as a single entity (a definite benefit), but there is no money in it as of now, so research is slow.

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) [0]. (Current emissions are around 40 Gt/CO2/year. [1])

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. [2]/[3]

[0] https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/SPM3...

[1] https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/SPM1...

[2] https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/FigSPM-10.jp...

[3] https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/graphics/


Yep. The same reason they ignore Gen-4 nuclear, and sucking carbon out of the air. Politicians frankly don't want to solve global warming; they want more money and power. They want to pass laws telling the masses what they can and can't do (see how after the GND was published, AOC was spotted with a friend eating cheeseburgers), and they want an excuse to raise taxes on anybody they can get away with taxing more.

But if you actually have something that will reduce emissions? Well that's a threat to their plan to get more money and power.


I think it's because 'lifestyle' changes slow or reverse the origin deleterious behavior that is (perceived to be) causing the problem, while dumping 7 cubic miles of foreign material on beaches seems like a radical approach with a high likelihood of unintended ecological consequences.


If I understand correctly, ecoforestry, biochar, reducing carbon emissions 50% each year, renewable energy sources, “green sand” beaches, etc together still don’t revert the damage already done in time to prevent a major ecological crisis.


There is an interesting angle to geoengineering. Once you start applying it (assuming we master the technology) you get into the argument of what is the "right" temperature for the Earth. Some countries (Russia) might prefer it a little warmer, some others (U.S., India) a little colder. Do we really want to get into a new Cold War?

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?


The bigger issue with geoengineering is that it may have massive unknown side effects. Stratospheric sulphur spraying may cool the climate, but we don't know how it will shift weather patterns or any other unknown effects.

If things get bad enough we'll get forced into geo-engineering, but as you said, unilateral action could complicate things in unforeseen ways.


With great power comes responsibility that we mostly fail to bear.


Here's another one: https://terrapower.com/

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.


Is the problem that they won't approve it, or that the technology isn't yet mature enough for production-scale reactors? And if it's just a mature of (presumably political) regulatory resistance, is that also true in France, in Russia, in China, in India?

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.


For the example you shared, the paint is still fresh on project Vesta. Mining, crushing, transporting will have a non-neutral carbon impact which is not taken into account into their model afaik.

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.


> Why is it that everybody is so interested in “lifestyle” changes, and so uninterested in things like OP or Project Vesta [1]?

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.


I absolutely agree with this. I (obviously?) want to see solutions to climate issues, but I also very much enjoy taking several plane trips per year, both for vacation and to visit family. I also enjoy the taste of meat.

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.


That's just another oversimplification. So we can just keep overexploiting the natural resources of the planet, and solve everything by further environmental manipulation, like by creating a huge amount of green-sand beaches.

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.


Or phasing out coal. See my other reply.

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.


Yea, coal kills on the order of a million people per year [1], here and now. Is also a huge contributor to global warming. But a lot of people seem more concerned about their neighbors stake or vacation... It’s a paradox, I must say.

1. https://endcoal.org/health/


I'm interested in the justification for this. The following link says about 25% of US GHG emissions are from coal, but coal burning makes up the vast majority GHG emissions for electricity production.

https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=environme...


You are only looking at US emissions, not world emissions. The US is not the only country on Earth and its use of coal has been falling for some time now.


Oh, I was not aware the US is not the only country on Earth.

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.

https://www.iea.org/geco/emissions/

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.


Maybe because the initial spike in CO2 came from lifestyle choices. Industry keeps up with consumer demands. And trying to advocate for lifestyle changes respects the free market.

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.


The problem is fundamentally caused by overconsumption and the solutions that don’t include reducing consumption will absolutely fail. If this were a school shooting you’re suggesting we be the hopes and prayers guy.


I would offer that a lot of proposals like Project Vesta sound great, but are massive-scale geo-engineering projects that could, themselves, have unintended consequences.


From the web site :

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 ?


No small set of solutions will be enough. We're nowhere close to a "solution" and for the average individual who is not a policy-maker or wealthy investor, "lifestyle" changes and consumer choices is pretty much the only venue through we can impact.


It allows them to feel like they've helped while not actually targeting the areas which are producing the highest amounts of GHGs (transportation & electricity production). Areas that would financially impact the wealthiest among us.


Geo-engineering is like chemo. It comes with a bunch of other problems and it's far better to take steps to avoid being in a place where you need it. Usually proponents for it here do not talk about the downsides of it.


Because what's driving climate change is industrial production and agricultural output via population growth.


Didn't the parent project -JUST- say we need to stop talking "OR" and instead talk "AND"?


aren't you proving their point? You're tunnel visioning on a couple uncertain solutions instead of firing all ammo we have at the issue.


Nowhere in the article does it suggest abandoning other efforts. Yes of course we should plant all those trees plus every other effort.

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


Well, except the actual article's title says planting these trees in this way will stop the climate crisis.

They are criticizing this wording. This won't stop the climate crisis but sounds like a great first step.


Demanding multiple extreme lifestyle changes from billions of people—most of whom don't like you and won't listen—seems like would make for the least effective and most damaging of all the available solutions.

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.


While I do agree with you for the most part, theres a few things I think are worth taking away.

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?"


Sometimes planting a tree is actually bad. We've introduced specific species into our environment for decorative or other purposes before and then ended up regretting it because it was a bad decision [1]. There's also the issue of when we mass-plant a specific tree species and then the trees all get devastated by disease (due to being a monoculture), creating a massive fire hazard [2].

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.

1: https://www.kqed.org/science/4209/eucalyptus-california-icon...

2: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/flexibility-...


Also: These trees take decades to grow, at least, and will have to be protected from fires (which are only getting worse) and logging basically forever.


> will have to be protected from [...] logging basically forever

Not really, as long as the lumber is used for durable purposes and the trees are replanted after cutting.


There is no “durable purpose” for lumber for practical purposes. Today’s construction lumber can last 100 years, maybe 200 years if someone really cares, but beyond that it’s simply not worth maintaining it if it’s not some kind of historic landmark. 100 years is long on human scale, but mere moment with regard to carbon sequestration.


At which point it can be buried in a landfill. That is, essentially, how all the coal be are burning formed in the first place.

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.


The best info I can find, trees soak up ~45 pounds (tops) of CO2 in a full year after it's about 10 years old in optimal conditions. Different trees, different amounts along with growing conditions. That's just optimal hopes and dreams after 10 years since germination.


> We can't just plant a bunch of trees and keep living like before

Okay, but removing 2/3rds of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere strikes me as a damn good start.


Just want to note that while 2/3 sounds like a lot it only refers to the CO2 released so far, not the future emissions, which keep increasing exponentially. There is no alternative to eliminating emissions. Having said that, sure, let's plant more trees.

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.


It seems unlikely to me that emissions will continue to increase, exponentially or even linearly. We are at a point now where renewable energy is actually cheaper than fossil for electricity, and electric land vehicles are well on their way to being cheaper and more practical than fossil-based vehicles. At that point, market forces take over.


Do you have any data to support this worldview? I wish you were right, but I am not so sure. People have been predicting the turning point to be just around the corner for decades. Meanwhile

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/03/22/banks-funneled-1-9-tril...


I suspect your link is not handling data in a nonpartisan manner. I can provide more meat for my arguments, but do your own googling.

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.


I know these data points. And they look great. Yet, I look at the co2 ppm chart and somehow it just keeps going up. With no sign of slowing down.


That's because it takes time. It will take decades to convert a lot of key systems, even if renewable energy is cheaper.

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.


Spending less than 2B usd purchasing and distributing iron sulfate in the oceans, we could cause a snowball earth. If we spend 1.2 or so, and harvest all the excess salmon to blunt the cascade of the algae blooms, we could keep temps whatever we want.


The bigger problem is that it's an absurd amount of trees.


Why absurd? We've removed 3 trillion trees since the beginning of agriculture and replanting 1 trillion is absurd? Or do you think its infeasible?

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.

https://www.biocarbonengineering.com/


Let's also not forget how many seasonal jobs in rural areas this will create.


> AND reduce traveling AND stop eating so much meat, AND stop fishing so much, AND stop creating to much waste

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.


> Just switching from coal to natural gas reduces CO2 per kWh generated by 50%.

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.

Sources:

https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/natural-gas-industry-has-methan...

https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fu...


Point taken, but my main point is about people harping on activities that account for only a few percent while not even mentioning activities that account for large double digit percentages of emissions. To lead with air travel while not even mentioning coal is bizarre.


I agree it's a complex problem that needs to be tackled on many fronts. But the great thing about trees is we like forests, they're economical to plant, and they buy us time. If we remove 2/3 of the carbon added to the atmosphere since the industrial revolution, it buys us 20 years at current emissions. In 20 years the demand for internal combustion vehicles will be nearly dead. Coal plants are already in serious decline, but in 20 years they'll probably need subsidies just to keep running. With the pace of advancements in renewable energy and electric vehicles, 20 years is enough to go from we don't know how we'll solve this problem to the problem is solving itself through free-market forces.


> 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.

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!


Because global warming means not just a slightly less comfortable summer season, but also rising ocean levels that displace low-lying coastal communities (to include not just island nations like Micronesia and The Maldives, but also large sections of major harbor cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Sydney); more violent and more frequent tropical storms and monsoons; drastic changes to crop viability in semi-arid agricultural regions such as those in California, North Africa, Yemen, and Afghanistan; increased wildfires in California and Australia; worsened air quality in and around major cities (especially megacities); acidification of our oceans; and heightened turmoil in and around arid regions with existing water and refugee crises.

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.


> 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.

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.


I think you're asking the rich to stop being so excessive. Anyone who is both intelligent and poor is not spending 500 dollars for meat in any given month. Myself, I think maybe I eat 2 cheeseburgers a year.


Individually, even most of the rich don't directly pollute so much as entire industries. On the HN front page there's an article stating that shipping companies have collectively spent $12 billion to cheat and instead of polluting the air, they pollute directly into the sea while technically adhering to standards.


Who do you think directly benefits from that industrial pollution?

Consumers.


But the solution for consumers is for the industry to be tighter regulated and pay more for goods, not for consumers to become ascetics. Consumers can't simply make industry change how they serve other consumers.

You can't stop murder simply by waiting for anti-murder people to stop murdering.


My point is more around who benefits. It’s not industry alone.

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.


I would have said share holders


When consumers get cheap products because environmental regulations are being ignored, they certainly benefit.


I'd daresay that middle lower-middle and income Americans eat quite a lot of meat, probably largely in the form of ground beef and chicken.


We could always try to convince the US middle class to convert over to consuming roaches. It's a much more eco-friendly approach. Also, roaches are a super food. So besides being able to survive nuclear holocoast they are actually good for you.

https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a20950388/cockroach-mil...

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.


And those people are rich, on a global scale.


I believe you are conflating some arguments. You don't have to spend a large amount of money to have an outsized effect on the climate. I'd wager that a Burger King Whopper for $4.19 contributes more to climate change than a 8oz ribeye from locally raised cattle at a high-end restaurant for $39.

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.


You're saying meat production is bad, but then blaming those that are actually eating less of the meat. I don't think the viewpoints you have presented are consistent with each other.


I didn't say meat production was bad, I said meat production contributes to climate change.


However, planting all these trees may add enough value to the environment, so that mentioned ANDs are easier to tackle with less resistance.


I think what OP argues (and I agree with), is there’s no solution, or even partial mitigation, to climate crisis, wherein we keep the party going and due to some magic science in Alaska things are suddenly ok. This is a lie. If this lie is needed “to get a message across” so be it.


See Project Drawdown https://www.drawdown.org/ click on View The Solutions to see the different things all of us can do in addition to planting trees


The fallacy is thinking finding a solution prevents from doing the other solutions. You are just confused.


Exactly, we need to consume less, a lot less. Personally I've already started since a decade a minimalist lifestyle. I also plant trees when I go riding and hiking, even if it seems insignificant


How and where do you do that, do you plant seeds or saplings? On whose lands?


I live in the south-east of France.

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..


Or stop producing as many people might be a better option.

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.


Birth rates are dropping. Consuming less seems like the best short-term solution before hopefully reaching a new world population balance (I hope there could be a sort of global birth control)


Genghis Khan took a similar approach to cooling the planet, albeit a bit harsh. [1]

[1] - https://news.mongabay.com/2011/01/how-genghis-khan-cooled-th...


This. Climate Crisis is a result of behavior that regards environment as infinite while it is definitely not.

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[1].

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.

[1]: https://youtu.be/Y0vRupFPw90


That's unfair.

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.


>We can't just plant a bunch of trees and keep living like before

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!"


The #1 thing that controls population growth is increasing the standard of living. See the conflict?

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.


Well, according to Shell I can just pay 1 ct extra per liter of gasoline and bam, my ICE is CO2 neutral.


Trees are Big O in the carbon sink direction. Switching to renewable bags or paper straws is just making your huge carbon footprint slightly less huge by sub-percentiles.

Plant 100,000 trees in a summer though and you’ve more or less offset your life’s consumption - cheeseburgers or no.


But how do you find large enough area to plant 100,000 trees?


Iceland, Canada, and China all have programs to plant trees on public land.

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 think it comes down to the high cost of lifestyle changes. For example, if I am a consultant and needs to fly a lot to make a living, it would be very hard for me to change that.

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.


It’s probably not a “do all the things” solution, because (1) we won’t do those things; (2) trying to do those things will lead to undesirably high levels of government regulation of private behavior. The authoritarian infrastructure will be built, but it will fail because it will be diverted to ends other than addressing climate change.

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.)


It's not ironic at all that the "green new deal" would be a jobs program, given that the "new deal" was a jobs program.

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.


Do you have a source for Global Climate Strike rejecting a carbon price? The movement here in Germany seems to be generally in favor, since the experts are generally in favor and FFF for example explicitly asks politicians to finally listen to the experts.

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?


> Nuclear is currently one of the most expensive forms of energy.

You'd better get yourself familiar with facts:

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


If talking about costs, wouldn't LCOE be a better indicator? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source


From the link that you have provided: > The US Energy Information Administration has recommended that levelized costs of non-dispatchable sources such as wind or solar may be better compared to the avoided energy cost rather than to the LCOE of dispatchable sources such as fossil fuels or geothermal.

Since nuclear reactors are dispatchable by nature (through the use of control rods), the LCOE cannot be an accurate indicator.


Nuclear reactors are dispatchable in theory, but it's not economical in practice. One nice thing about nuclear reactors is that they can run more or less wide open for long periods of time. But the flip side of that is that the operational cost isn't driven by fuel consumption. It costs about the same to operate a reactor whether you run it at 100% capacity or 10% capacity.

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.


But government already has a hand in influencing private behavior by regulating industries. Think of what would change if American farmers were no longer incentivized to produce corn, soy, and dairy. Or if gas prices reflected the full monetary and ecological cost of oil.


What have proposals about a "green new deal" got to do with the Soviet Union?


Because "socialism" and how ingrained the effects of the red scare still are


Your statements are at odds with observable reality. https://globalclimatestrike.net/#

Can you share your sources of information?


I agree with the "we won't do all the things" thesis, and that it's probably wise to acknowledge that and plan accordingly around that self-knowledge.

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.

No?

> 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 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.

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


> Nearly all the countries that call themselves "democratic socialist" are in fact capitalist, with strong welfare states.

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.


Regardless of what you call Norway’s system, the animating principles behind the Green New Deal and the “climate justice” movement are not that. If you want to call Norway “socialist” so be it, but then you need a new name for something like the Green New Deal’s “wartime mobilization” and “fundamental change” of the economy. (Calling it “Marxism” seems over the top. Which is why I think it’s better to call that what it is—socialism, and more accurately describe the Nordic model as welfare-capitalism.)

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.


So let's pick this apart:

- "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.


We can't just plant a bunch of trees and keep living like before, growing to 10 billions and beyond.

I don't think that's implied here. Clearly there's a lot to be done, this is just a good place to start.


> 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.


Read the article; it's stated quite clearly that this is just a way to combat climate change.


I read the article. The title is part of the article. That part of the article says "stop climate crisis". That part of the article is dangerously wrong in the way the OP said.


That's a good point. I think you are definitely correct.

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.


Climate change has a very simple cause, CO2 emissions. Should stand to rain that the resolution can be similarly easy.

I for one, want to get past this so we can move on to fixing our society.


Maybe it is more complex to deal with the causes of CO2 emissions. Some places in the world like Africa, East Asian have numerous power plants emitting tons of CO2 to the air and there are no simple substitutes to them because of lack of budget. Also if simply enforce those countries to ban factories would cause a rising of unemployment.


Reining in emissions and fixing our society are not separate issues. The scale of the change needed to substantially reduce or eliminate CO2 and methane emissions is huge.


Simple doesn't mean easy, unfortunately. There's more than a few sources of CO2 emissions, and some of the significant ones arent even (directly) manmade.


You're talking clathrates?


Volcanoes emit CO2


This has been debunked at plenty of places, but I guess it needs repeating.

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: https://twitter.com/pepcanadell/status/1147066574299377664 https://twitter.com/hausfath/status/1147190442145898496

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.)


Although as an aside, the oceans re-releasing carbon dioxide is also desirable because it should combat the effects of ocean acidification which is a significant life-threatening issue in and of itself.

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 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 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.


On a practical standpoint, I don't think the article tackles the concept of forest management at all. Other than what's been going on the past few months, the Amazon doesn't see wildfires like the Pacific Northwest does. An Amazon forest can be denser per acre compared to a NW forest. Thinning forests is a common practice, across America at least, to manage burnable material that naturally occurs in a forest. Plus to deal with a lot of beetles and other pests that have been killing the forests. At the end, it's not enough anymore to just plant a tree and call it day in most forests. Management needs to be apart of the plan too. It would suck to plant a ton of trees, just to see it go up in smoke.


The Amazon is wet enough that it doesn't have natural massive fires. The recent and ongoing fires are set to clear the land for agriculture. They have to cut the trees down first, wait for them to dry out a bit, and then set them on fire.


if CO2 is removed from the oceans and other CO2 sinks, won't that still leave us in the position of having less free CO2 to release into the atmosphere in the aftermath? i'm trying to understand multiple angles of this issue because i'm interested in making a company to plant trees as a service.


Yeah, sure, but the point is that it would only get you a third of the way to the goal of removing all man-made CO2 from the atmosphere (and oceans) rather than two thirds as was claimed. And the atmosphere is sort-of especially important because that's where the warming happens, CO2 in the oceans does not directly contribute to the greenhouse effect. Though it does cause acidification, which isn't exactly helpful either.


I have always wondered what would happen if we could find a way to grow floating barges that would provide an environment for algae (and potentially other organisms) to grow in the oceanic deserts. There is a huge area that could work as a carbon sink there.


And it doesn't take into account the ecologies that you'd be replacing with massive plantings of trees.


If you planted in the vast amounts of land we've deforested in the past few centuries, you'd be restoring habitats though.

But then you'd lose a lot of farmland, and have to destroy a lot of cities and homes.


Just to let you know, there has been considerable forestation taking place in Europe during the last 100 years:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/12/04...

Yet, somehow people in Europe think that a huge deforestation is taking place.


In my overly-populated European country, I think most people think that "nature" is going away because we're building more and more houses where fields were.

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


I remember reading that in the Netherlands at least deforestation is taking place again. The reforestation effort had been doing quite well and then governmental policy changed.

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.

[0] https://www.globalforestwatch.org/map/country/NLD?mainMap=ey...


The devil is in details.

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.


This is a common pattern of comments you'll see on almost any climate post:

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[1]. 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.

[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.FRST.ZS?


For anyone who thinks the Scottish highlands are beautiful. Here is what it used to look like and will again one day soon.

https://rewildingeurope.com/rew-project/restoring-the-caledo...

(The video at the bottom is a bit gushing but it's a decent view of what the reforestation projects want to achieve).


This is a great example of exporting your forest needs. About 1/3 of the UK's renewable energy is wood pellets shipped across the ocean from the US [1]. So yes you can have reforestation but for that to happen at the same time as your demand for wood pellets increases you have to burn a lot of bunker fuel to ship that wood across the ocean.

But of course in the end you get to claim that you are using more renewable energy and increasing local forest coverage!

[1] http://www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/16053/uk-bioenergy-c...


I think the Scottish highlands are beautiful but wondered why those mountains are mostly bare whereas most mainland ones are wooded. Wasn't happy to read why.


Don’t have the data open to the public but I’m personally mapping the forrests from Southern Romania as they stood in 1867 (give a take a few years, based on an Austrian map) and comparing them to the present day forrested area. There are now 40% less forrests compared to 1867, and in the plain area the situation is even more dire, in those places we now have 80% to 90% less forrests.


If you look at the animated map on the Washington Post website it shows that especially in northern Romania deforestation has taken place in the second half of the 20th century, so the article does not contradict your data.


The problem is you can't create new "old" forest, and some of the old forest areas are under threat. In the case of Germany, some are even threatened by coal mining!

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.


Regarding climate change ancient forest is neutral, as it releases the same amount of carbon that it absorbs. Forestation on the other hand creates carbon storage, which is a very nice thing to have these days.


Globally, we are losing forests and have lost them for hundreds of years. Iceland, Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia, many places have lost huge amounts of trees due to humans.


Europe as well, actually. It was virtually covered in forests then largely deforested to make way for agriculture. In the last 100 years or so rural exodus and agriculture industrialisation have meant that forests have started to expand again.

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.


To make room for agriculture, yes, but even moreso to produce charcoal for the almost insatiable steel industry, to be used both as a fuel and a carbon source. Once the trees were gone, we moved to coal.


If you are in areas where lignite is exploited, the areas appear huge (and for the local population they are), but on an overall scale mining does not contribute much to deforestation.


Yeah, I didn't intend to imply that mining causes deforestation, on the contrary. Once the most economical source of carbon was used up, we started to dig it up from the ground.


It's difficult to deforestate Central Europe any further because almost complete deforestation already took place during the Middle Ages and the early modern period.


That reminds me of the discussions about overfishing. The amount of fish in the sea is a mere few percentages of what it was a century ago, but that already was way, way less than it was in the centuries before that. And we only went to fish in the sea after we had exhausted the rivers.

This is the shifting baseline effect and it really negatively affects conservation efforts.


Southern Germany and surrounding areas are much more forested than, for example, the UK, so this is not exactly true. Can we have more precise information?


Europe is still financing deforestation around the world.


That's also true in the US. We have way more trees today than we did 100 years ago. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/america-trees-now-century-ag...


>Yet, somehow people in Europe think that a huge deforestation is taking place.

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...


In Ireland, reforestation is taking place, but they are planting non-native sitka spruce in extremely dense plantations.

The plantations are dead wildlife-wise, and they alter soil chemistry such that native broad leaf trees will not be able to re-colonise.


With all these smart people reading Hacker News, why is the the top comment so negative. This is a legitimately doable thing.

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.


> engineer.

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.


The recommendation is to reforest 103 million hectares of the US. That is about 400,000 square miles in a country of about 4,000,000 square miles, i.e. 10% of the surface area. It's not clear where there is that much land suitable for forest that is not being used for ag and other purposes. Of course, we could decrease the amount of land used for agriculture, since we are continually in surplus and export a lot of foodstuffs.

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.


The article does mention that it takes into account land already in use by humans. I can only assume that "use" includes agriculture.


People need to start thinking of natural regeneration / rewilding as an option because "planting trees" per se does not create a self sustaining balanced forest ecosystem. Forestry plantations are often pretty much green deserts, like any other agricultural monoculture.

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".

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/26/wildwo...


It would be nice if natural regeneration worked, but in this area an idle plot quickly becomes overrun with invasive species. Some of these are foreign trees, such as alianthus, and some are US trees not native to this area, such as black locust. Even these fast growing and short lived species become quickly entangled in non-native vines and dragged down in windstorms. The result is a tangled mess nothing like the theoretical progression from thorny scrub, pioneer tree woodland, and full woodland. Getting to something like a natural woodland may be possible naturally, but it takes many decades, and the resultant species will certainly not be the mixed oak and chestnut forest, since there are no more chestnuts. Nature only goes forward, never back.


One of my favorite "case studies" related to this is the Selah ranch in Texas.

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.


Just as a political lesson, reforestation is fascinating.It seems to have casually gone from seeming unfeasible practically and politically to feasible... without much of a struggle.

Impossible until it isn't.


Surely that's because its a suggest that we can "solve" an extistential crisis without changing the way we do business or live our lives in any meaningful way.

Feels a bit too good to be true.


It's more realistic than thinking we're going to get a significant majority of the world's population to significantly reduce consumption while adding two more billion people and having the developed world catch up.


I disagree with the zero-sum assumption that often seem to permeate environmentalism, and climate politics in particular. Half the time it seems that effectiveness is judged by inconvenience, negative economic consequences and such. I sometimes think it hurts the cause more than outright anti-environmentalism.

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.

^Operative term.


> 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.

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.


> 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.


> The actually sustainable solutions are those that are cheap, positive sum, and lead to humans thriving.

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.


Not assuming, more like hoping. I'm willing to bet on it, because I think it's a good bet and I think the alternative is a sure loser.

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.


You'll note in my original post I talked about 'changing our lives' that doesn't necessarily mean wearing hair shirts. So, energy consumption can certainly be helped by mandating insulation standards in building codes, by outlawing incandescent light bulbs, by introducing stringent emission standards for cars or introducing carbon fee and divided regulations.

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.


You're right. These are not terribly austere, though some are hard/costly in some circumstances (eg insulation). I do think we should do these both as personal choices and as mandates, but..

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).


Thanks for the debate, I don't think we are that far apart and I absolutely agree about green theatre being ultimately damaging. Don't get me wrong, I also agree about the need for clean and cheap energy. I'm less convinced that growth in energy is actually needed (at least for us rich people in the West). It would be interesting to see countries at least consider Gross Domestic Happiness rather than Gross Domestic product as a mesasure of success.


Things like this article describes, the fact the world is getting greener as a result of human activity[1] not to mention the constant advance of technology is why I'm still optimistic for our future despite all the doomsday predictions.

[1] https://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/human-activity-in-china-an...


Setting aside whether this is a solution (even a partial one), I applaud the effort to come up with solutions like this.

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.


Meat consumption is the number one issue and as someone who likes to consume meat I think that

> 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?


> 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.

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.


>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.

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.


Apparently it can be nearly any other meat than beef, except maybe lamb. Beef is multiple times as potent as any other form of meat when it comes to climate impact. Aside from emissions, it has a large effect on water pollution as well.

For starters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_meat_p...


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

Search: