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51% of young voters believe humanity could be wiped out within 15 years (scottrasmussen.com)
82 points by makerofspoons 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 187 comments





The two major problems with the discussion on climate change:

1.) Right-leaning, free-market, anti-authoritarian types need to understand that climate change is a negative third party externality, and there isn't a free market economist that wouldn't agree that the state has a role to play in ameliorating that. Focus on the strategies you think are best suited for that role, such as carbon taxes.

2.) Left-leaning climate advocates need to realistically prioritize objectives according to their tenability and impact. Airplanes contribute 2% of greenhouse emissions, how about we don't start there. Energy production constitutes by far the largest impact, how about we focus energy there, and not to beat a dead horse, but also seriously advocate on behalf of nuclear. They also forget that the other half of the equation, carbon capture, is almost unilaterally popular. Focusing efforts on where the most leeway can be achieved is a much better solution, particularly since carbon capture is capable of handling carbon emissions of states unwilling to regulate their own outputs.

They also need to cool it with the catastrophizing. It is a bad strategy. All the opposition has to do is point out how incredibly off-base the predictions were in an An Inconvenient Truth, and they're done. Accurately identify where the feedback loops are that cause enormous leaps forward, and focus on those precise thresholds. Near linear progress in the way we've seen it creeping does not scare people, but that doesn't mean that we can just be wildly inaccurate with the predictions in order to scare people in to action.

Lastly, don't shoehorn in other political policies alongside climate propositions. Green New Deal, for example, is first and foremost a bundle of socialist policies using climate activism as a vehicle. If this is truly the greatest threat to humanity, decouple it from adjacent political policy.


> how about we don't start there.

How about we start everywhere that can help? This trope that goes around that we should only focus on the biggest problem, and let everything else slide... that is why nobody does anything.

So how about we improve everything that we personally can, large or small, and drive a cultural change that shows big business/energy that the world does care about this, and they should, too.


In addition to the possibility of distraction and moral license mentioned in another post, there is a problem mentioned in the parent post itself: being anything less than immaculate in your reasoning gives detractors more fodder.

Imagine: we go all-in on villifying air travel. It works! Everyone is shamed into commuting by train. Huge sacrifice, people don't see their extended families anymore. We do it to save the planet! Uh-oh: the needle has barely moved. "Well, yeah, it was only 2%, but it wasn't mutually exclusive with other stuff! No harm no foul, right?" Now you've lost credibility when it matters.

This hyperbole hopefully illustrates the more subtle reality: if you make even the slightest mistake there is a lot of Money ready to trip you up. Don't be caught of guard; stay on point, hit where it hurts: carbon tax. The rest will follow.

(By all means reduce air travel, keep talking about it, don't get me wrong. But never make it out to be more than it is, is my point. 2% is just that, and maybe it's worth it to us as a species to keep doing this, while cutting back more in other areas. That's the beauty of a carbon tax: it will allow people to decide just how important that 2% is to people, personally. Nobody knows that in advance, that's the power of markets.)


> How about we start everywhere that can help?

Some things just aren’t worth the effort, in terms of outcomes. Additionally, doing useless things gives people moral license, and absolves them of feeling like they need to do more.

If we pay attention to both outcomes and psychology, then it makes sense to focus on big things.


> Some things just aren’t worth the effort

This is a false dichotomy.

Government (and industry) is not a single-threaded organization incapable of doing more than 1 thing at a time.

It's absolutely possible to do BOTH high impact and low impact things at the same time.

Whether or not airlines adopt better emmission standards does not affect whether bigger ticket items get addressed, too.

(Yes, if you're talking about the media or politicians, they of course are much more single-threaded in the sense that they may need to pick their battles, but generalizing that to absolutely everything doesn't make sense)

Edit: Perhaps our difference in viewpoint is that you're looking at it from the perspective of "what can the consumer do" versus "what can government / regulators / industry do". If you're talking about strictly what consumers can do to help, then I agree, reducing personal air travel probably won't make a difference for most people.


> Government (and industry) is not a single-threaded organization incapable of doing more than 1 thing at a time.

It's resources are also not infinite.

Things need to be prioritized and tackled in an intelligent order. The government can handle several initiatives that attack the problem from different angles but it can't do everything. Airplanes, for example, are a small part of the problem and fairly integral to the connected globe.

We could probably make more headway attacking just the power plant issue in 5 different ways than than attacking issues 2-6 simultaneously.

> Yes, if you're talking about the media or politicians, they of course are much more single-threaded in the sense that they may need to pick their battles, but generalizing that to absolutely everything doesn't make sense

This is all going to be done politically. This is a government level problem and there isn't a government office that is apolitical. You can help the most by voting for it. The things you can do as an individual are good but they'll be dwarfed if you win on the political stage.


>> Some things just aren’t worth the effort > This is a false dichotomy.

I don't think it's a false dichotomy at all, because some things just aren't worth the effort. For example, straw bans are pretty worthless, hurt disabled people, and allow people to feel like they've done their part when they haven't.

With respect to airlines, yes sure they can and should improve efficiency and emission standards. However, lobbying dollars and hours that can be mustered by environmentalists are finite and should be directed towards more useful things like power generation to have the greatest per dollar/hour effect on climate change.

In terms of what consumers can do, from a consumer perspective there's not a lot other than perhaps ratcheting down energy consumption. However as citizens they can agitate for better energy policy, which is probably a better use of time than thinking of workarounds for low impact high visibility issues.

We could in short order feasibly end coal power generation if the environmental movement got focused on that. However instead, people busy themselves with concerns about air travel, straws, organic food productions, etc.


You can’t upset the voters or they won’t vote into office people who have strong climate agendas.

For example, banning plastic straws does basically nothing environmentally but upsets people who will then think twice about voting for someone who supports straw bans and actual useful policies.

Climate change activists need to be more pragmatic in order to actually affect change. They need to pick their battles better


> Right-leaning, free-market, anti-authoritarian

There is nothing “anti-authoritarian” about the modern American right, except as a euphemism for “I don’t want to pay taxes”. Not much “free market” either, except as a euphemism for “corporations should have no accountability or oversight”.


Your worldview is incredibly distorted my friend. OP is trying to bridge the divide.

Uh, he's not wrong. You have to jump through some serious mental hoops to avoid classifying the current American right as Populist. They clearly have no qualms about using government to control social norms (e.g. abortion, marriage). There's not much anti-authoritarian about that.

If you don't understand the other side, or worse mischaracterize them, how can you possibly hope to bridge the divide?


>>>If you don't understand the other side, or worse mischaracterize them, how can you possibly hope to bridge the divide?

An excellent question to pose to those left-of-center...

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/21/democr...


> An excellent question to pose to those left-of-center

This is literally what the OP was about.


The American right is increasingly becoming the party of liberals, as is the case for most other countries on Earth. The authoritarian policies of the right from the last 50 years (anti-gay-marriage, War on Drugs) have very quickly lost favorability. The two main authoritarian policies that the right still sticks to are regarding immigration and abortion.

They would argue that anti-abortion is not any more authoritarian than being anti-murder, as it simply falls under the same law. The disagreement with a pro-choice advocate would be whether or not the fetus/baby is considered alive (arbitrary), and whether the woman's right to bodily autonomy supersedes the fetus/baby's life (arbitrary). So I wouldn't really call anti-abortion authoritarian so much as an arbitrarily different definition of life and arbitrarily different prioritization of rights. The authoritarianism of being anti-murder is already in place. I'm pro-choice, for what it's worth.

Immigration is also a little different. Strict immigration policies would be outwardly authoritarian, but you aren't imposing any imperative on your citizens.

Authoritarianism of the left-wing, however, is a different story. It's obviously not a bad thing so long as you support the authoritarian policies, but the role of the state is enormous as compared to what is supported by the right. Higher taxes (the abstraction of all state power), hate speech laws, affordable housing, rent-control, welfare, food stamps, affirmative action, diversity quotas, gun control, environmental regulation, trade tariffs (funny to see Trump utilizing policies advocated for by Bernie Sanders), free education, etc.

It is not even remotely debatable whether the role of the state is diminished in the right wing as compared to the left, that is almost definitionally the distinguishing characteristic between the two at this point.


"There isn't a free market economist that wouldn't agree that the state has a role to play in ameliorating [negative third party externalities]"

Actually there are plenty of free market economists that would argue that negative externalities are the result of poorly defined property rights.


Better defining property rights is a role that the state has to play. Property rights don't come out of thin air.

There would still be externalities, it's just that there would be a property owner who could sue.

true

To add to (2), stop brain washing kids to advocate their views: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2019/sep/23/gr...

It was quite sad to watch the above kid without a well formed world view burst into tears over stolen childhoods while million of childhoods are taken away every year due to lack of opportunities (including electricity of any kind) in developing countries.


She said nothing that is incorrect nor did she do anything that is incorrect. Funny to see all the crazy people who raise their children with crazy superstitions and crazier worldviews talking about children being brainwashed.

She is incredibly privileged and does not acknowledge her privilege. Her home country has literally zero risks or downsides from global warming. Her crocodile tears convince nobody because most people don't have rich parents and own a fucking boat.

She has said many times she's not even the worst affected by climate change, and that she is privileged to have a voice being heard.

Greta Thunberg doesn't own the boat she went to the US with.


My only issue with a carbon tax is how severely it'll impact the poor. If we had a system where using carbon costs $X in tax and saving carbon/using green energy netted you $X from the government, I think that'd be a great way to create incentives to go green while accurately pricing in externalities. Basically a redistributive tax.

Your issue with carbon taxes is misplaced. It's very easy to come up with a bi-partisan approach where low-middle income people are refunded for their gasoline/heating carbon tax, and thus have a revenue-neutral carbon tax. This could be reduced sales tax, decrease in income tax for lower brackets, or straight rebates to everyone each year.

There's actually some evidence that this revenue-neutral approach is less palatable to those on the US political left, though (WA's failed carbon tax ballot initiative). It may be more attractive to those on the left to use revenues from carbon taxation to provide climate-equity solutions, like higher paying green-tech jobs in low-income areas, cheaper electricity for those in low income communities, climate resiliency, buyback programs for older/inefficient cars, subsidized EVs and public transport, etc.

Personally, I'm for either approach, as long as it gets done quickly.


This is my understanding of the Left's argument against carbon taxes.

Energy (heating, car fuel, etc) is required to live in our society. If you add more taxes on it, people aren't really going to change their behavior and do less of it.

In every case of these taxes, the energy companies will pass 100% of the taxes onto the consumer. If you can afford the taxes, you won't change your behavior. If you can't afford the taxes, the govt pays you back.

Just not effective in reducing CO2 or encouraging alternative energies.


Consumers don't need to change their behavior. Companies would have more incentive to make greener products and use green energy, so their prices would be competitive.

I agree. I don't think you should do anything. The point is to create an economic incentive, not a short term tax for the hell of a tax and then undo the incentive with various patches.

Yes right out of the gate, it will make things more expensive across the board. However, the point isn't to decrease everyone's use of energy in and of itself. It's to get the companies to respond to their decreased revenue with greener alternatives. The decreased use by the population would help and you could make the argument that the wealthier demographic uses more energy than the poor so the taxation would be fairly distributed.


> It's to get the companies to respond to their decreased revenue with greener alternatives.

They don't have decreased revenue though. They pass the taxes through to the consumer, and the consumer behavior doesn't change because you're taxing a necessity of life.

Like another reply said, their power company gives them the option of choosing "green" energy. Most consumers cannot do that. If there is actually a choice, then raising prices on one of the choices would affect consumer behavior. But for the vast majority of people, they can't choose between green energy or fossil fuel based energy. No choice = doesn't matter what prices do.


> They pass the taxes through to the consumer, and the consumer behavior doesn't change because you're taxing a necessity of life.

If we're talking about taxing coal in rural India, you're right, but the bulk of the industrialized world will certainly be motivated to make changes. People will eat less beef, and more legumes, for example.


> People will eat less beef, and more legumes, for example.

Citation needed.

Some people take it as a point of pride they eat no greens. I think you're sorely underestimating how much they value eating meat all the time.


This doesn't make sense to me. For instance, my electric company offers power from multiple sources. I personally pay extra for the green power option. How many others might Choose that option If carbon taxes were added into the other options? Or another example: if the cost of operating a gasoline powered vehicle goes up, how many more would choose an electric vehicle?

Consumers have options. Carbon taxes encourage them to choose the green options.


You are 100% correct, this is known as the carbon-fee-and-dividend[1] scheme, and it has a number of advantages for all sides:

* It does not further harm poor people - as everyone receives an equal dividend, it makes a bigger impact the less you have. * It provides a long-term, predictable carbon cost. Business can plan many years in advance and not be caught by surprise. * It's effective at reducing emissions (not the exact scheme, but see Australia under the most recent Labor government, before the repeal of a carbon price).

I'd encourage everyone interested to get in touch with the Citizens' Climate Lobby and pitch in.

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


The aviation industry is growing rapidely and if left unchecked those 2% will soon become 5%.

Governments can tackle several problems at the same time. And taxing air travel is a big deal for the social acceptation of other taxations for the masses.


Just do a carbon tax. It covers it.

Yes we should aim for a carbon tax, it's the most effective way. But sometimes the political momentum is not there, and politicians compromise for less optimal taxes. It's still progress imho.

Thank you for making the Internet a more rational place today.

How is this rational in any way? His whole argument is a straw man, which fyi is a fallacy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

You're making a straw man by saying that his entire argument is a straw man and isn't rational in any way.


They didn't get your next level satire of straw-manning a straw-man argument.

Frankly I'm used to it. <3

If I could downvote this comment, I would.

These are great points.

To add to these I think the roll of government is to legislate in the best interest of the people, whereas companies act in the best interest of their shareholders. This effectively is a check/balance for companies when they do things that go against the interest of the people (Without mentioning corruption).

Nothing really happens unless there is an economic motivator or widespread fear. But with the climate changing gradually, we will most likely go the way of the ol' lobster in the pot and boil to death by the time we realize. So we need the gov. to step in and legislate some stuff.

When we first started producing plastics, running everything on petroleum, and burning things for energy, the scale was small and insignificant and we didn't know any better. But now that we can measure the impact and the cost of cleanup we can exactly say how much of a product, despite our best efforts, ends up in the environment and will need to be cleaned up. So if a company wants to produce plastics, fine. And if a company wants to run their fleets on diesel, fine. Lets just factor in the cost of the cleanup. You can't go around producing and using whatever you want and expecting others to pay for the cleanup or consequences. We are going to have to pay for it at some point, so factor that in.

The increased costs will incentivise alternatives, and for the things that don't have alternatives, at least we will have a fund for the cleanup and mitigation of the effects.


I agree with these points. If we are to consider the effectiveness of getting climate deniers on the path towards change, then we should use a thoughtful strategy that gets them on board.

In short: reactionism poisons opportunities for real change. Unfortunately, the internet is the most efficient breeding ground for reactionism the world has ever seen.

Energy production is slowly moving towards being a solved problem, with emissions going down - thanks to renewables, not nuclear. Mobility's co2 contributions are still increasing, and in particular flying doesn't seem to have feasible solutions in any reasonable time frame. Yes it's not a low hanging fruit in terms of reducing emissions, but it's a hard nut - and the global effects of it are increasing (and already larger than 2% due to radiative forcing). Incidentally it's also a way in which individuals can blow their individual carbon budget very quickly, and thus can also mitigate it very easily.

Carbon sequestration is not a low hanging fruit, arguably it's even less feasible, less economical at the scale required than fossil-free aviation.

I think young people's gloom is reasonable when constantly being confronted with climate change deniers, and even those who believe reality will fight tooth and nail against changing the economy towards being more sustainable, citing magical, non-existing or uneconomical technologies that would allow everybody to just continue like today. It's frustrating to talk to people who don't want to make small adjustments today, willingly accepting that everybody has to make larger and more radical changes later as society keeps kicking down the can.


I mostly agree with you but there's little chance that we're going to figure out for sure where climate tipping points might be before we hit them. The climate is very very complex.

The idea that climate activists don't focus on energy production seems kind of detached from reality. Climate activism has pushed heavily on renewable energy. They're not advocating for nuclear, but that makes sense at the moment even if you're very bullish on nuclear — pushing for more nuclear power will result in no reduction in emissions for over a decade, and we need to come down a lot before then. Nuclear is possibly a viable long-term strategy, but in order to get to the long term, we need to move to renewables in the short term.

I agree that nuclear is a very viable option, but how viable will it be if it takes decades to get a reactor design approved, a location approved, multiple lawsuits over "I don't want that in my backyard", approval over funding, funding will for sure run out, and we will be stuck with wasted time and money. It's a contentious topic.

Alternatively, solar panels are proven, and can be strapped to every roof top right now. Battery storage has been show to stabilize the grid. It's something we can do right now by incentivizing individual building owners


Nuclear is a red herring introduced by climate crisis opponents - the plants take decades to get away, are intrinsically dangerous and nobody wants one near them. Meanwhile solar and wind are far cheaper, much much faster to build and can be accompanied by batteries to smooth demand.

Nuclear is far safer than any other power generation method. Nuclear reactors, when not made like Cherynobl’s reactor are safe. There is no intrinsic danger at a nuclear power plant because it is engineered away through fail safes.

If we are going to get serious about the climate change, we need to think long term. Solar and wind is a red herring for base loads; they handle peak events very well when properly placed. Batteries are no where now or in the future production ready to smooth demand at the scale you are talking.


> Energy production constitutes by far the largest impact

Globally agriculture and lifestock has an impact as large as the entire electricity production. Eating less meat (no need for full vegan, just less) is probably the easiest and most impactful change we can do.

Electricity is also important, but market forces are acutally doing fairly well in that area. The price of solar+storage in on track to drop below natural gas in a decade.


You could simplify it even more by saying that the politicization of the discussion is the major problem.

It's worth remembering that often something becomes politicized for the benefit of the politics, not the actual issue.


> Lastly, don't shoehorn in other political policies alongside climate propositions. Green New Deal, for example, is first and foremost a bundle of socialist policies using climate activism as a vehicle. If this is truly the greatest threat to humanity, decouple it from adjacent political policy.

It's not about shoehorning anything, it's about how you diagnose the problem.

You can see the climate problem in isolation, and try to fix it as such, or you can see the big picture: worldwide the biodiversity is collapsing, there's more plastic than fish in the oceans, we're destroying fertile lands to build malls or with terrible agricultural practices, and so on. Climate change is probably the most threatening one, but far from the only systemic environmental problem we're facing. All theses issues have one root cause: industrial productivism, which, in today's world, is a key consequence of Capitalism[1].

[1] don't get me wrong, Capitalism isn't the only system leading to an ever-growing industrial production. And soviet Socialism has its shares of environmental catastrophes.


> Green New Deal, for example, is first and foremost a bundle of socialist policies using climate activism as a vehicle. If this is truly the greatest threat to humanity, decouple it from adjacent political policy.

Sorry, that's impossible. Anytime you're doing anything with a direct or indirect price tag in the trillion dollar range, you're having a huge impact on the economy and jobs. You're picking winners and losers. So either you need to be explicit about it like the Green New Deal is, or you're hiding it, and you get the huge distortions caused by people like Senator Shelby giving NASA's SLS huge amounts of money because they spend it in Alabama.

What we need is a sensible alternative proposal from Republicans, and then a negotiated middle ground. That's the way we used to do things. It wasn't perfect, but it worked a lot better than just shouting at each other like we do now.


> Right-leaning, free-market, anti-authoritarian

Maybe the right-leaning types correctly realize that the left-leaning types can't take "yes" for an answer, and that addressing climate change is not an end in itself, but a means for rehabilitating socialism: https://peoplesclimate.org/platform/.

> Every new job created to address the climate crisis must be unionized or have the right to unionize without interference and pay a family-sustaining wage.

If they agree to carbon taxes, is that it? Or does the battlefront just move to things like this: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/aocs-top-aide-admits-green-...

> “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti then asked. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

Because this is a real, and serious risk. The defeat of socialism as a competitor to market capitalism in the late 1980s has seen the greatest improvement in the plight of the world's most vulnerable people in the history of the world. Places like Bangladesh, my home country, have enjoyed 5-7% GDP growth annually for three decades. (Polls show Bangladesh second only to Vietnam in support for the free market.)

If it was just a matter of carbon taxes, or investing the IPCC-recommended 2.5% of GDP on mitigation efforts, I'd wholeheartedly agree with you. But if it's carbon taxes as a first step toward radical transformation of the economy--toward ideas that have been tried and failed--then no thank you.


I'm a center-left social democrat and believe in mitigating climate change for its own sake. If anthropogenic climate change weren't occurring, there would be no need for climate-oriented conservation. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people with political leanings similar to mine would agree with that statement. For most proponents, the purpose of climate mitigation measures is in fact to mitigate climate change. Assuming otherwise is plainly not to ascribe good faith to one's opponents.

It’s not a matter of ascribing good faith to any particular person’s arguments, but considering the trajectory of a movement as a whole. If you asked someone who supported the ACLU’s challenges Establishment Clause challenges in the 1950s whether the wanted to see a systematic erasure of religion from every aspect of public life, they wouldn’t necessarily have agreed with that outcome. But that was the result.

This is not an abstract concern about slippery slopes. It’s the fact that now only a minority of Democrats have a positive view of capitalism, and a majority view socialism positively. It’s the actual stated principles of climate justice leaders who have launched a broadside attack on capitalism, trying to associate it with everything from climate change to racism to colonialism. It’s based on things like the Green New Deal concededly using climate change as a pretext for massive economic restructuring.

Regardless of your views, you can’t help whose driving the bus you’re on.


Do you honestly think that if you put this to a poll:

"In your view, is the purpose of addressing climate change: (a) to address climate change as an end in itself, or (b) a means for advancing socialism?"

that most Democrats in the US would choose option (b)?


This is the poll I’m worried about:

(a) is capitalism a tool that has lifted tens of millions of people in the developing world out of poverty, or a tool for perpetuating racism, and colonialism, and environmental degradation?

(b) do you know that big-S socialists, including one of the architects of the Green New Deal, have latched onto climate justice as a tool for advancing socialism and attacking the liberal capitalist consensus: https://jacobinmag.com/series/green-new-deal; https://newconsensus.com ?

(c) in light of (a), what political compromises would you make with the people in (b) to address climate change?


You can be on the right and have an extremely dim view of unfettered, and out of control global capitalism, as we currently have. 40 years of an experiment where the only answer to everything is less government, fewer regulations, lower taxes and damn the economics. That's from both sides. Clinton as bad as Bush. Blair as bad as Thatcher.

You're kind of right about who's driving that bus - we've really been given no choice, have we? Both sides have offered a destination that takes only right turns.

Forcibly dragging capitalism back to a more inclusive middle ground, nearer where Eisenhower was politically, is hardly revolutionary socialism. Nor is wanting stronger constraints and taxes with fewer loopholes to the corporate machine. Enough to smooth the roughest edges, and limit the worst abuses. That is hardly exclusive to the left, outside the political and media bubble.


Except the last 40 years have seen the greatest expansion of prosperity in the history of the world. Countries that flirted with socialism, like India, started growing twice as fast when they made market reforms. Europe, which was moribund under more socialist and regulated times, has become economically vibrant under Thatcher and her ideological offspring.

Moving back to the Eisenhower era would in fact hurt people. That was an economy where the government decided everything from what price an airline could charge for a flight to what routes a trucking company could run. It’s a roll back to an economic model that has been rejected throughout the developed world. There is a reason that everyone from Canadians to Australians to Germans to Swedes have kept electing market oriented liberals who kept pushing down government spending, corporate taxes, and regulation. Heck, Macron, the “socialist” candidate, is still pro-markets and pro-deregulation. (And socialist France has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world.)


> Except the last 40 years have seen the greatest expansion of prosperity in the history of the world.

Not in the developed one, quite the opposite. And the developing countries, rising living condition is a mere consequence of catching up with technological progress ( for instance, the end of famines in India has nothing to do with free market, and is in fact the result of a state-driven agricultural reform [1]).

During the last 30 years, prosperity in Cuba and North Korea increased as well…

Also, calling France a socialist country, is utterly ridiculous.

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


For the 1%. For most typical workers, and the middle and lower tiers particularly it's seen stagnation and decline. The expansion has been in the developing economies. Which for a worker in USA or Europe, who has seen all the opportunity go to an ever dwindling proportion of society, makes for an empty statistic

The French Socialist Party is most definitely not in this day and age socialist, and hasn't been for decades, just as Blair's Labour wan't socialist. They sit firmly in the centre, and are a centre left party nearer the British LibDems than Labour. In a US context, well there's not really a match, as it's too bipartisan. Macron, the former financial regulator and Rothchild banker, is worlds away from and would be unrecognisable to Mitterand. Yet Mitterand was of the same party. So no, France is not socialist.


For European countries, which had dabbled with socialism but were liberalizing their economies in the last few decades, growth was strong at the median, not just the top 1%: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DAaB94YXsAQSCXI.jpg

That is why France is longer “socialist.” People keep voting for people like Macron, and have stopped voting for people like Mitterrand, because capitalism works phenomenally well.

As to the U.S., stagnating wages are not true either. There are at least two main problems with the simplistic comparisons:

1) They don't measure the same people. The common choice of start date for the "stagnation" narrative is in the 1970s. Since then, the percentage of people that are immigrants has nearly tripled. The percentage of older people skyrocketed, the percentage of married households have fallen, etc.

Looking at the same groups of people, for example, just married couples, has a huge effect: https://www.justfacts.com/income_wealth_poverty.asp

> This means that comparing the income gains of the bottom three quintiles in 1979 and 2007 has little to do with the path of real families. Instead it is a commentary on the overall structure of the economy in that it compares low income people in 1979 to low income people in 2007 even though they aren’t the same people. … For example, the median income of those 20-31 in 1979 and married was $51,800 (2007 dollars), while 28 years later in 2007, the median of those 48 to 59 and married was $87,200.

^^^ This website has a ton of other great data slicing and dicing the various income trends. For example:

> Page 1: “The changing composition of households in the U.S. is the effect explaining the reported increase in Gini coefficient for households since 1967. When corrected for actual decrease in the average household size the relevant Gini coefficient returns to that of personal incomes.”

> From 1967 to 2011, the Gini index for persons in the U.S. has not varied by more than 2%.

2) They don't account for benefits.

Focusing on just wages rather than total compensation ignores the fact that our tax structure has encouraged more of total compensation to go to untaxed benefits: https://fee.org/articles/dispelling-the-myth-that-wages-have...

> Average real wages and benefits have risen by nearly 40 percent since 1973, after adjusting for inflation. Sensational claims that 80-90 percent of Americans have experienced low and stagnant real incomes since 1973 are also shown to be incorrect . . . real consumption per person increased 74 percent from 1980 to 2004—a rate of improvement that far exceeded the trend from 1950 to 1979.


> Macron, and have stopped voting for people like Mitterrand, because capitalism works phenomenally well.

You can never boil it down, as politicians of every hue always try to after they won, to simply "because my way", "because capitalism", "because socialism" etc. Or as justification of the unpopular fringe policy that's a major swing issue to exactly none of the electorate.

It's as much "because the other guy is an arse", or simply who got the most enaging media smile and presence, or best slogan. Sometimes they are simply the least-worst of the two terrible, terrible choices presented in the election.

Simplistically it's a much shallower process than the actual issues. Quite often it is mostly events that swing it. 9/11, and The Falklands, made far, far more difference to election results than economic policies.

> Instead it is a commentary on the overall structure of the economy in that it compares low income people in 1979 to low income people in 2007 even though they aren’t the same people ... those 20-31 in 1979 and married ... while 28 years later in 2007, the median of those 48 to 59 and married was

Hoo boy, that's a really disingenuous way of presenting it.

In 1979, the office junior or trainee something, freshly out of college, goes on a journey through simply "something", and senior something, to head of team, department or one of many Vice Presidents in 2007. Twenties are most people's lowest earning years, and late forties or fifties their highest.

There would be something very broken indeed if most did not increase earning power in some sort of reasonable correlation to increasing seniority across their career. It's why we do indeed normally compare the progression of each quintile, or each job role across the years rather than of each person or individual family as they progress through the tiers.


I don't think we can let the airlines off, remember you don't just fly to a place and then immediately for back. When taking about the 2% that airlines contribute we should also talk about the number that people that took airlines contribute to Greenhouse emissions while they are on their vacation or business trip. Right?

Do those people contribute significantly more than they would have had they stayed home, though? If a person would have emitted X at home, but instead flew somewhere and emitted X there, I don't think it makes sense to blame the airlines for that X. (But blame them for the emissions related to the travel, sure)

Yes? Who takes a vacation and lives the entire week as a stoic? Just the stoics. Vacations are times of excess.

> I don't think it makes sense to blame the airlines for that...

I think that's along that same line of thinking where we blame the consumer for using the services. It's a great way to turn the conversation to some nonstarter ideas.


I've certainly gone on vacation and spent the entire time walking around to museums or lounging around on the beach - is that really higher carbon than driving around in SoCal?

Maybe. Where was it? Were you staying in a beach resort built entirely to serve tourists? Was the food local, or shipped in to provide the similar comfort levels to tourists?

I'd contend you could take a vacation in Alaska with the activities you mention and yes your consumption would exceed your normal life in SoCal even if you walked everywhere in Alaska.

And look it's great that you walked everywhere, I find that the best way to enjoy a vacation. I traveled to Calgary this summer and once I got there I tried my best to walk and bike around despite objections from my traveling buddies. But your one example vacation and my example vacation are not the norm.


One problem with nuclear is that we've spent decades of R&D time ignoring the possibility of low space, low waste reactors that we have very little time to complete development on them.

The risk of catastrophic failure has been shown repeatedly to be something that arse-covering bureaucrats are incapable of handling.

The passive shutdown of the LFTR design, coupled with low area utilisation and the reduced risk of proliferation would have made it an ideal olive branch to the world.

But there's not much money to be made from ubiquitous energy.


Airplanes contribute 2% of greenhouse emissions, how about we don't start there.

We can ground flights immediately. Literally today.

Building new nuclear power stations takes a long time.

If you believe we have 15 years left you do the first one in order to give yourself time to do the second one.


Grounding airplanes looks a lot like chopping off your own fingers because losing weight in a more systematic way is hard.

But here's the thing: the reality of current power in western countries is that it has been completely captured by large corporations and capital. Anything that causes disruption to the flow if money and growth will not be considered. Any real action will only come as a result of revolution. Revolutions are never fought with middle of the road ideologies as the catalyst and they aren't fought by populations as comfortable as those of successful western societies.

However you're kidding yourself if you the primary danger if climate change is the climate itself, at least to western societies. Look no further than the most existential threat to thd EU posed by a mere million migrants. Fascism js suddenly back in fashion all over the continent and the Brits want to self immolate and leave the EU. The failing of major crops due to seasons becoming unstable has already happened and will only accelerate in the coming years. The American corn crop was dangerojsly close to failing this year. Are these young people being hyperbolic in believing extinction is right around the corner? A bit, but their sentiment is correct. The civilization that they are accustomed to could very well be completely distroyed or in a state of disintegration in 15 years.


While I disagree with the details of your argument (closing borders isn't fascism), I agree with the overall thrust.

The only thing that can realistically wipe out humanity is war, and climate change could bring war.


> But here's the thing: the reality of current power in western countries is that it has been completely captured by large corporations and capital.

The economies in non-western countries aren't any different, often just less perfect versions of western market economies. (And sometimes, like with Taiwan or Singapore, more perfect versions.) The important point there, though, is that even imperfect market economies have led to enormous increases in prosperity for non-western countries. Market reforms in countries like India meant that GDP per capita more than quadrupled from 1999-2019, while it less than doubled from 1979-1999.

The climate justice folks, by contrast, want people from the developing world to rely on "endogenous and indigenous technologies and innovations in addressing climate change" so they can "develop, access, and transfer environmentally sound, socially acceptable, gender responsive and equitable climate technologies." https://www.peoplesdemands.org. (Luckily, countries like India are going with Thorium reactors instead: http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2018/ph241/wolak1. And that will be the ironic outcome of climate justice efforts. It will be essential to get India and China on board to address climate change, but those countries are too smart to jump on that bandwagon.)

Ironically, it is precisely the dichotomy you mention that justifies the hard-line opposition of the right-wingers. If tweaking market economies is not the solution, and the alternative to the status quo is "revolution," then it is utterly rational to seek to protect the status quo.


I was going to look this up but instead I'm just going to ask: what or who or what is "The People's Demands" and why should anyone care what they think? Is there some way in which they speak for everyone in a broader climate justice movement?

Mainstream environmental organizations like Friends of the Earth are signatories to that demand: https://www.peoplesdemands.org. So is Rashida Tlaib's office. A group with a similar platform counts the Sierra Club as among the leadership: https://peoplesclimate.org/platform.

Of course nobody speaks for the "climate justice movement" categorically, in the same way as nobody speaks for "conservatism" or "progressiveism" as a movement. But if someone had said in 2008 that ACA was a stepping stone to Medicare for All, would that have been inaccurate?

Putting it another way: I don't think market-oriented environmentalists--for whom averting climate change is a matter of appropriately pricing carbon externalities--are driving the bus of that movement anymore.


Friends of the Earth appears to be an organization that split from the Sierra Club because it wasn't environmentally radical enough. I care about the environment and about social justice. Why would you think "The People's Demands" speaks for me?

Rashida Tlaib supports Scandinavian social democratic policies, and supports this website. But she'd support the social democratic policies either way. I agree with you and not with her (on Scandinavian social policies applied to the US), but her support for this website is not really evidence for it being representative of the mainstream; Tlaib is herself not even representative of the mainstream of her own party. That's why they call her, Omar, and AOC "the Squad".

So to rephrase my question: do you really believe the majority of people who believe we should make tradeoffs in our economy to favor combating climate change also believe in the nonsense in this People's Demands site? Because that's what you sort of directly implied.


I don’t think that’s an implication of what I wrote. The majority may not buy into all the ideas of climate justice, but you can’t tell how coalitions will shake out, or what compromises the majority will be willing to make to protect its coalition. And you don’t know what the next battlefield will be. The question isn’t do you think the majority believes in that stuff, it’s whether you trust the majority to protect free markets at the cost of its coalition, or to stop once necessary changes have been achieved.

The doomsayer crowd should be ashamed of themselves for promoting this kind of emotional burnout.

Even the worst IPCC projections don't speak of anything remotely like humanity being wiped out within 15 years. Panic does not jump start change nearly as much as it seems to jump start despair, bitterness, and contempt for anyone with doubts, which apparently now includes people who do not think we are doomed.

These things that are very orthogonal, or in the way of, solving any actual hard problems that lie ahead of us.


And it will be self-defeating. I doubt that we will really do anything in the next 15 years to fight of climate change and then when these youths are alive 15 years from now, they will be easy to convince that this was just all an example of chicken little screaming that the sky is falling.

> they will be easy to convince that this was ... chicken little screaming that the sky is falling.

But that's exactly what's going on. Climate change is a serious issue but the climate change elite have decided that the rest of us are too dumb to understand and react to what's really going on. Instead the working plan is to scare the shit out of everyone with click bait hoping to elicit some kind of response. Instead this promotes disbelief and complacency.


In 15 years the effects of climate change will be much more pronounced than they are today, and today as a millennial, it is already possible to recall how the local climate has changed. So if anything in 15 more years, these people will be much more convinced than they are now.

And in fifteen years when humanity still exists, how will these no longer young folks react? Will they feel mislead and turn against those who promoted the ideas? Turn their backs on such issues forever, no longer entertaining the possibility that it is a problem but longer term? Or just move the goal posts?

They will understand human nature if they are bright enough, and live the rest of the life with healthy skepticism.

And the high-schoolers will be angry at them for not understanding that the end is nigh and will organize weekly demonstrations, etc

In fifteen years, there will be a fresh generation of young folks who have no memory of this failed doomsday prediction to indoctrinate.

We just had a generation that grew up thinking the world might end any second in nuclear armageddon. And look where that got us: We still have more than enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all major cities, even more countries have those weapons and neither US-Russia relations nor India-Pakistan relations are particulary good. But nobody even thinks about it because nothing ever happened.

See: Recurring Christian End Times prophecy.

It is nothing like that. Predictions about climate change, while often imprecise, are largely evidence based. Religious prophecies are not. Regardless of if you believe the doomsayers and the timeline, we are clearly trending in that direction.

> Predictions about climate change, while often imprecise, are largely evidence based. Religious prophecies are not.

"The world will end in 15 years" is fundamentally based on faith, whether that is faith in science or in a prophet of some form. Saying "but MY faith is in something real" isn't a valid argument.

(and since the actual climate scientists say that the world is NOT going to end in 15 years...)


The worst IPCC predictions on arctic ice melting are totally incorrect.

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

Therefore the effect of climate change could be far greater than their worst predictions.


I'm familiar with that graph; I used to have it posted on my wall with a great big "You are here" arrow on it.

Its pretty dishonest to post today, though. Its based on models that are obsolete, and is missing 6 more years of arctic ice extent. Using an anomalous minimum is just as bad as the deniers use of an anomalous maximum temperature from an El Nino year.

There's plenty of reason to be alarmed at the state of the climate and cryosphere, but it is important to be honest about it.

See also

https://sites.google.com/site/arcticseaicegraphs/

https://greatwhitecon.info/resources/arctic-sea-ice-graphs/

https://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2012/09/models-are-improving...


I think you're assuming that the low point on that graph is the 2012 low outlier. It isn't, it's 2007. The graph would look much worse if stopped in 2012.

The third link I submitted has the variant of this that stops just after 2012.

Because I found this interesting, I dug a bit further, and here's what I found.

This graph only has observed data out to 2009. I'm unable to find a graphic with updated data, but this year the September minimum was 4.15 million, or about tied with that lowest point on the graph.

I am also not sure of what revisions (if any) have been made to those IPCC projections.


https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/arctic-sea-ice/ has September minimum figures up to 2018, and you've already found 2019.

Fun fact: one of the drivers of warming in the Artic region is the decrease in pollution due to “clean air” policies in Europe. https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo2673

IIRC, that's because the IPCC's "worst case" winds up being the worst case everyone can agree is possible. So it winds up being more moderate than the actual worst cases.

However the number was agreed upon, the arctic ice reality is very bad for humanity and possibly catastrophic.

If I was an insurer and the Earth was a house, I would not be offering a policy.


I agree that thinking humanity will be wiped out in 15 years is over the top.

I think though, that anyone that has fully grasped the IPCC reports, has to go through a grieving process that begins with despair.

Climate change is unlikely to kill me (unless through secondary effects like war), or even my daughter. But it's probably going to make my life more challenging towards the end, even more so for my daughter, and if she has any children they will probably be starting to face the real challenges (note: first world countries, for the global south, those timelines will be accelerated).

The despair though, is rooted in knowing that the natural world of my youth is gone forever (on human timescales). My daughter will never experience the same number of insects, fish, and birds I saw as a child[1]. Diversity is lost as millions of species are already going extinct. Coral reefs will be lifeless ghost towns. I can never share that world with her or my future grandchildren. Because the damage we have already done will take thousands of years to repair, that world only exists in my memories now.

On the other side of despair is acceptance and personal action. I do what I can, but I realize I'm only one among billions, and I have to accept that I can't fix a global problem, no matter how bad I think the impact is.

For anyone interested in further reading, I recommend the book _Being the Change_, by Peter Kalmus (https://smile.amazon.com/Being-Change-Spark-Climate-Revoluti...)

[1] She'll never even touch dirt, drink water, or breathe air that doesn't contain thousands of microplastic particles.


>The doomsayer crowd should be ashamed of themselves for promoting this kind of emotional burnout.

The humanity must go through a few rounds of hysteria and emotional burnout before it realizes that click-driven advertisement and dopamine-driven social media is destructive to it and prevents from clear, rational thinking. It's the way it adopts to a new technological era. Nothing can be done here.

    Every generation has its way (Joe Cocker)

The question wasn't specific to climate change

You are right. Specifically, the question was:

> ENV17: Within the next 10-15 years, how likely is that the earth will become uninhabitable and humanity will be wiped out?

The other questions were directly about climate change, so presumably that framing had an effect. But on that short a time span, I think nuclear warefare has a more likely (though distant) chance of wiping out humanity than climate change (and I'm no climate change denier), and I could imagine some of the respondents reasoning similarly.


Instead of criticizing another perspective, you should put effort towards convincing people of another view point.

Why should someone be ashamed of themselves for having an opinion? Projections are not facts so why are you treating them as such and saying “sorry you’re wrong”?


> Instead of criticizing another perspective, you should put effort towards convincing people of another view point.

That just doesn't work. Anytime someone dares express a view contrary to the group, they're shouted down and insulted into the ground.

I'm very optimistic about the future of mankind, which is funny to me, considering how cynical I am about interactions with other people.


So instead we have a meta conversation about how one group is wrong and one is right?

I don't see how that would make things better. For me, I think the answer is to try and keep my mouth shut and just live a decent life. That's a work in progress...

> Why should someone be ashamed of themselves for having an opinion?

They should be ashamed for irrational fear-mongering.


I've never understood this type of apocalyptic thinking. Humans are the most adaptable and most widespread of the large animals. We are arguable the best at surviving, at least in our 'class'. And while it's true we've come up with some pretty devastating ways to destroy each other and ourselves, that is very different from destroying all of humanity. We've faced plagues and global wars before, but even when huge portions of humanity have died off it's still not even close to all of it.

Even trying to devise a way to guarantee that humans go extinct seems like an almost impossible thought exercise. How do you exterminate 7 billion people spread over ~57 million square miles of land?


I think its an artifact of pervasive guilt and shame. Much of the developed world enjoys the highest standard of living that humans have ever experienced, and did little to nothing to get there. It feels like flying too close to the sun, an overdose of good. To satisfy a sense of justice, the logical conclusion is judgement for millions that commit (perceived) poor behaviors without consequence.

People have fervently believed in apocalypses for thousands of years, in at least ever other generation. The fact of the matter is that we are evolved from people that survived by exterminating other people groups. We have deep genetic memories of actual apocalypse, from tribes to nations. We are evolved to anticipate war and destruction- and adapt.

I believe that most people don't actually believe in 100% extinction of humans; they believe that there will be a relatively few amount of survivors, and hope to be among them.


> How do you exterminate 7 billion people spread over ~57 million square miles of land?

I mean, just make the earth uninhabitable for humans. There are a few ways to accomplish this; even excluding climate change, nuclear weapons were and continue to be one such specter as the article alludes to.

Sure, some people will continue to eke out an existence even then, but it's quite easy to imagine humanity perishing over the course of a few generations after an event like that.

Also, when people say things like "humanity being wiped out" they usually don't literally mean "extinction of homo sapiens". They usually mean "quality of life significantly degraded" such that life resembles a Mad Max movie more than what we know today.


Maybe it's a good thing. Compared to earlier generation's ignorance or apathy I'd rather people think we need to fix things sooner than later.


What about that portends extinction?

> Even trying to devise a way to guarantee that humans go extinct seems like an almost impossible thought exercise.

I personally don’t think it will happen, but it’s not exactly hard to think of possible ELEs given how we’re messing with the atmosphere. Another one of these [1] and we’re toast.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxidation_Event


How about just one 96km diameter asteroid?

I find this headline to be misleading. I'm sure humanity could be wiped out within 15 years. There is some non-zero chance that a gamma-ray burst in the Milky Way wipes out life on Earth. But really these people are saying it is likely.

Over the next 10-15 years, 29% of all voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that the earth will become uninhabitable and humanity will be wiped out.

I don't think 29% of voters actually believe this. I think that nowadays, people frequently answer polls according to the emotional stance they would like to support, rather than the side of it they view to be factually correct.


I'm not sure it's a matter of emotional stance. It could just be that many people view the opportunity to answer a poll as a means to an end, and don't feel any obligation to be truthful.

In that case for some proportion of the respondents the poll question is equivalent to "would you like to take the opportunity to ask people to take climate change more seriously?".

(This is probably particularly true in cases where the response option includes some vague undefined term like "somewhat likely", so that it's hard for selecting that option to be an outright lie.)


Also, a lot of polls seem to lead users with extreme. Offhand, I'm not sure of the legitimacy of this site or its polls (it's very self promotional, with my attention immediately drawn to this guy's book), but I'm sure many people have seen screenshots of campaign email polls where, say, you're asked if you support Candidate Y and your choices are:

- Yes I support candidate Y

- No, I support commies, nazis, etc.

Not saying that's what this poll is, but like I noted this website does not seem overly trustworthy. Also doesn't 29% mean 29% of this site's audience who replied to the poll as opposed of all voters


I was reading an interview with Naomi Klein not long ago on the subject of "eco anxiety" amongst the young, and had a funny thought: Her work reminded me of the pre-reformation Catholic church.

The practice of selling indulgences was the target of Martin Luther's theses, that is the church would preach Original Sin, fire-and-brimstone, etc, the offer convenient ways to purchase your way out of this terribleness. Authors like her preach a doomsday fire-and-brimstone of their own and very conveniently offer absolution by buying her books, implementing her views as laws (see Leap Manifesto in Canada) etc.

I mean, I'm a pretty firm believer in taking a strong course towards a carbon-free future, but I don't think whipping up such a fear frenzy will turn out well.


Would carbon neutral be sufficient? It's going to be pretty hard to be carbon free considering it's fundamental role as an atom in chemistry.

Consider the benefits to the cause of carbon nano materials


Perhaps in another 25 years, after they've seen a few more rounds of "we're all going to die" (from Ebola, H1N1, AIDS, Killer Bees, Zika, etc...), they'll become a bit more suspicious of doom and gloom predictions.

Most of those "doom and gloom" predictions never came true because of tireless work by people to prevent it from happening. For example, the amount of effort that went into making AIDS more treatable is astronomical.

See also: Ozone holes, Y2K, etc.


There's no way for me to win an argument like this. If I dare question how much effort was really spent avoiding any particular apocalypse, I'll just get labelled insensitive, stupid, tone deaf, and/or something worse. I've probably already said too much to avoid that. We can't even talk about talking about disagreement sanely.

However, maybe you'll pay attention to all the dire predictions in the next ten years, and maybe ten years after that you'll notice that the world just keeps getting better despite all the people claiming it's worse and will end soon. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so.


> There's no way for me to win an argument like this

The way for you to win would be to counter my argument: Show the amount of money/time/etc. that went into resolving the AIDS crisis was minimal (and of course, you'll have to argue what minimal means). I can easily find resources to the contrary [0] [1].

> However, maybe you'll pay attention to all the dire predictions in the next ten years, and maybe ten years after that you'll notice that the world just keeps getting better despite all the people claiming it's worse and will end soon.

It keeps getting better because people keep devoting time, energy, and money into resolving these problems. "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance" and all that. We've seen what happens when people stop being vigilant: Things like the return of measles in the US.

I'm mostly shocked to hear this sentiment on HN of all places; IT is notorious for encountering "the servers run fine and never go down, what do we pay you for?" attitudes. Surprised you don't understand how it applies to other areas of life.

0: http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/first-long-term-study... 1: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPcap/1999-11/18/077r-...


> The way for you to win would be to counter my argument ...

Honestly, I'm not interested in winning this one. I've seen this all before, and someday maybe you'll have seen it all too.


k ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I think I remember a similar statistic about most people during the cold war believing humanity would soon be extinct but I can't find anything about it.

Well, that was when there was a nuclear weapon pointed at every major city.

There still is. Nuclear disarmament is going backwards.

Problem is that every 25 years you have a fresh new generation that needs to be taught the same lessons.

That's absurd. People have been living in harsh conditions (120°F desert weather, <32°F freezing temps for big chunks of the year) for millennia and likely hundreds of thousands of years with none of the technology we currently enjoy. There are more people now than ever before. I can't even see an all out nuclear war combined worth +6°C average temperature increase leading to extinction. Some people somewhere will survive. Maybe many or even most might die in such a scenario but to wipe out humanity, I don't think that possibility currently exists.

This nonsensical hyperbole only weakens the push to mitigate climate change and go green. Turning the movement into a doomsday cult only strengthens climate change deniers arguments.

There's no way climate change can wipe out the entirety of humanity and make the earth uninhabitable, especially in the next 15 years. Are greenhouse gases supposed to turn Earth into Venus in 15 years? That's the only way I see that it can truly become "uninhabitable", and I don't see how that can happen.

Even then, a small percentage can always survive in closed-loop habitats shielded from the outside world, ala Biosphere 2.0.


The nearest humanity has got to a closed-loop habitat, that works on an ongoing basis, were the Soviets in the seventies during their lunar programme. We are far away from one that's viable.

It can be the new fusion: "ready in twenty years"... indefinitely.


Biosphere 2.0 was a massive failure though. Hardly a reassuring worst case scenario.

Maybe not in 15 years, but climate change can cause enough of the earth to become uninhabitable that civilization crumbles. Wiping out 95% of humanity would almost certainly be enough to cause the downfall of modern society. Your Biosphere future is a highly optimistic one, IMO.

Methane clathrates in the Arctic sea floor.

Methane from decomposing formerly-permafrost in Siberia and Canada.

Methane.


What happened is a culture of fear around climate change that started with the Al Gore movie. That generation is being told if we don't act immediately you won't have a future.

What ends up happening is in 15 years nothing happens and these people get more jaded.


This poll seems suspect. I wouldn't draw any conclusions from it, until it's corroborated or we know more about the methodology (which I couldn't find in an admittedly cursory search).

Says a poll by someone selling a book about how we are too scared of the future.

Don't believe this data at all.


Everyone has probably always thought this way... then they live for 15 years and see that nothing much has changed. I do think that 'adulthood' is hitting people harder and harder. Our kid phase is kiddier and kiddier, and when your parents no longer take care of you, and you're staring at working for 20-40 years until you can experience that endless summer vacation (retirement), you could feel desperate.

The only reasons I can think of is nuclear war and a second black plague

Natural pandemics like the Black Death will seldom wipe out more than half the people in an affected area and never everybody. It's possible that someone might genetically engineer a plague to be dormant but transmissible for a year then suddenly kill its host but even with something like that you're probably going to miss pockets of people as large as were left after the Toba supervolcano 70,000 years ago.

Nuclear war probably won't wipe out humanity either. Lots and lots of people would die in the countries involved and a few hundred miles downwind of the fallout but other locations would probably only see increased cancer rates. I say probably because while it looks like fears of nuclear winter were probably oversold there's still a fair chance that they weren't and we'd be looking at 5 years with no plant growth after a nuclear exchange. In which case, hey, there's this charity called ALLFED[1] working on how to feed people in the event of a nuclear winter or meteor impact or supervolcano eruption causes a global years long winter. Things like how to operationalize turning dead trees into edible mushrooms at a huge scale.

[1]https://allfed.info


why would a second black plague wipe out humanity?

"The black plague" may not, "a black plague" may.

In other words, Y. pestis might still be treatable with modern antibiotics and is well controlled with modern sanitization.

But if MERS-CoV and influenza got together, or NDM-1 genes horizontally transferred to group A strep, you could end up with a highly contagious and highly fulminant threat.


Because people are more fluid than ever. The world would probably need to stop all air travel and cross border travel immediately to contain it.

Odds are slim that such a plague would kill every last person, even if everyone were to become infected.

You don't have to kill every last person in order to kill 'humanity'

sorry, is this like killing civilization or something? When I hear kill humanity I think after you are done killing humanity then humans will be extinct. So you don't need to kill every last person but enough that there wouldn't be any breeding populations scattered around. Seems pretty unlikely that a virus can manage that.

What about a runaway climate change feedback loop making the earth uninhabitable? Or even more moderate climate change causing a collapse of the food chain?

15 years is probably too extreme for even the most pessimistic climate change scenarios where you get to the point of boiling the oceans.

However, these kids will be dealing with the consequences of extreme climate change in their lifetimes. Lots of people are going to die. Some societies will collapse. It's not going to be easy and having the world leaders today range from offering emotional support and no effective policy decisions to outright hostile to the entire concept of climate change is not helpful.


Human beings haven't relied on "the food chain" for thousands of years, but it's certainly true that climate change will have a big impact on agriculture, the recent IPCC report on land covers the topic in some depth[1]. Models of runaway change don't suggest humans would be wiped out (though I wouldn't want to live near a coastline...[2]), especially not within 15 years.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Report_on_Climate_Chan...

2: https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252


And how likely are either of these?

very unlikely

The carbon locked up in fossil fuels and a lot of sedimentary rocks was in the atmosphere at some point. Granted the sun was a bit cooler, but the earth has been drastically warmer in the past and life went on just fine. We have the technology today to grow all of our food in hydroponic greenhouses in Siberia and Canada, but food is so cheap that nobody is bothering to.

If we put a lot of effort on removing carbon from stable minerals, there is probably enough of it on Earth's crust to make it uninhabitable. But that's a large engineering effort that I don't think humanity is currently able to achieve.

Given that the climate is a chaotic system that nobody fully understands, how do you know this for sure?

Given that all that carbon that we are extracting has already been on the atmosphere once, with some of what is currently in stable mineral, and life didn't end at the time, it's unlikely that now, with a thinner atmosphere and a weaker Sun it will be enough.

We have enough of a disaster to deal with, there's no need for fearmongering.


He said "probably" and "I don't think" which seems like enough hedging for me.

Climate what now? /s

For real though I swear half of hacker news must work in oil and gas.


The only scenarios I can come up with for making earth uninhabitable or wiping out humanity within 15 years are biological warfare or freak astronomic events (giant meteor impact, being hit by a supernova etc). Maybe a pole shift. None of these seem likely (well, the pole shift might be happening right now, but we likely have a millenia left to figure that one out).

I can imagine that we have set the feedback cycles in motion that will make Florida uninhabitable. But I fail to imagine how we might make Germany uninhabitable within 150 years (small coast completely covered by costal defenses, most of the country over 200m above sea level, well equiped for snow so a local ice age could be managed, fairly far north so warming isn't a major threat to agriculture). Even if we managed to make that uninhabitable we could just move to Siberia.


Not biological warfare, just wars, humanity is still armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. And ebola-level threats can rise on their own without warfare.

However we are fairly good at containing ebola-level threats. Sure, the ebola outbreak of 2014 shut down three countries and required a big international effort to clean up, but in the end only 11300 people died. Killing humanity would require a lot worse.

All out nuclear war would be pretty bad and might end humanity, but US and Russia have a well practised routine of interference and proxy wars that gives aggression a less deadly outlet, and the other potential match-ups like India-Pakistan or Israel-Iran would be very localized.


51% seems very extreme. Is Silicon Valley living in a bubble? On a side note, Foster City will be flooded with just a 1M [1] rise in sea level 20 years out [2].

1. https://ss2.climatecentral.org/#13/37.5341/-122.3201?show=sa...

2. https://riskfinder.climatecentral.org/state/california.us?co...


It will take far longer than 20 years for 1m rise in sea level. Even in the very unlikely scenario that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere quadruple, it will take about 250 years. Why panic instead of coming up with feasible solutions?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise#/media/File:Pro...


That's not true. This graph is "Thermal expansion only" so it doesn't count melting the glaciers at all! According to the worst case predictions from the article it can take ~50 years for 1m rise.

> Is Silicon Valley living in a bubble?

Is that a joke?


Just a few days ago I encountered a Patagonia campaign with the banner 'facing extinction' superimposed over a slideshow of somber, adolescent faces. While I'm sure it's well-intentioned, apocalyptic messaging of this sort damages the credibility of actual projections that are genuinely alarming.

Conflating 'catastrophic climate change' (ie. more thousand year floods) and 'apocalyptic climate change' (ie. a big flood will kill us all!) muddies the water and lends ammunition to climate deniers.

Even nuclear war would likely leave a few stragglers to rebuild some semblance of society that worships a manna-giving snack machine.


Weird. If I were to really feel that way I would forget any career, education, and public service aspirations and move to an idealistic mountainside community working off the land. I would build things for my immediate use and enjoy the scenery with beautiful natural landscapes and no road rage traffic.

If people really believe humanity will be wiped out in 15 years and yet still concern themselves with their checking accounts and sense of fashion I would really wonder if there is some kind of mental health illness at play.


Simply change the question;

"Do you think you will still be alive in 15 years?"

You would probably get a different answer.


While I believe there might be some possibility that we might see some catastrophic events caused by climate change or human conflicts, I highly doubt that they would completely wipe humanity and/or make Earth wholly unhabitable. I can think of some scenarios that would lead to devastating losses and long-term consequences but I have a hard time picturing a complete extinction happening within 15 years, barring some crazy unlikely scenario like a big meteorite impact.

Sorry, this is too vague for me...humanity as a civilization "could be wiped out", well of course we could. If a meteor hits us or we accidentally and/or intentionally set off a bunch of nuclear weapons...yes, we "could" be wiped out. But will climate change, a long-run issue, wipe out humanity in 15? I don't think even pessimistic forecasters are predicting that 2034 will be the end of civilization due to climate.

Ok, I guess I'll be the first to bring up red meat production.

Our love affair with eating meat (specifically red meat) has 3 pretty bad side effects:

* greenhouse effect (something like 18% of the total greenhouse effect is from farm animal produced methane).

* uses a ton of fresh water (hundreds of times more water used to product beef than vegetables).

* uses up valuable farm land to grow animal feed crops (something like 33% of all arable land on Earth).

So, lets pass some fucking taxes on red meat, eh?


Young people are constantly bombarded with the climate change hysteria and their grasp of time is usually less accurate than that of an older person.

Unless "could" is doing a lot of heavy lifting, there is no conceivable way this is true. Young peoples' actions do not support the idea that they believe this.

You'd see a lot more people doing insane things to cross items off of their bucket lists if this was true. Instead you see these young people going about their lives as if nothing is any different.


Young people are wrong about something: news at eleven. I can see how people who didn't live through any war, or catastrophic event in their entire life would believe that.

The uniformity and prevalence of the head-in-the-sand responses here on this thread are exactly the thing you would expect to see right before people start to panic.

In a way this is very hopeful.


Climate change won't be what directly kills humanity. The global thermonuclear war started by the political/economic disruption due to climate change will.

According to some reports the number of near Earth objects is now of the order of 2000 per year and several of those have been undetected until only a few days prior to nearest approach. I'd factor in this eventual inevitability as well.

One day some large object will be on course that will spell the end for us. Time to gear up in preparation given that our present defensive resources are pitiful.


15 years? Very odd. I mean the decisions we make now are very important but if humanity gets wiped out it will be sometime in the 75-150 year timescale.

There are some good words being written for and against.

But words are stupid compared to methane being released from the permafrost which intensifies the green house effect by 3 times that of carbon dioxide.

We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

And it’s unbelievably fucking sad.

In 15 years we’ll have a good idea of how truly screwed we are.

But it’s ok. Elon will send us to Mars.


If this helps with handling the climate emergency I am okay with that.

A lot of people believe a lot of things some serious some stupid. I don't see why we should be concerned if people believe that a real problem is, in fact, real.


Maybe humanity won't be wiped out in 15 years.

What is the possibility that in 15 years it is too late to turn around climate change? (I don't know the answer.)




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