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Some corals regrow after 'fatal' warming (phys.org)
341 points by howard941 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 237 comments

Corals naturally suffer from many hazards, and they naturally recover. Climate change makes it worse. How much worse? I am not qualified to answer that.

"...disturbances such as bleaching, cyclones and crown-of-thorns outbreaks are ­occurring more often, are longer-lasting and more severe.

This means coral reefs have less time to recover..."


The people who are qualified to answer say this:

"Coral reefs, for example, are projected to decline by a further 70–90% at 1.5°C (high confidence) with larger losses (>99%) at 2ºC (very high confidence)." https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/

(We're on track for at least 3°C warming.)

In other words: It is extremely unlikely coral reefs will survive at all.

TFA is about how reality isn't following these predictions.

I read it differently: corals that die are more able to recover than expected, but only as temperatures fall back into a favorable range.

> Climate change makes it worse.

You should probably cite that.

I'm not the original commenter, but here's a citation: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coralreef-climate.html

> As temperatures rise, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent. Additionally, carbon dioxide absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere has already begun to reduce calcification rates in reef-building and reef-associated organisms by altering seawater chemistry through decreases in pH. This process is called ocean acidification.

Probably, but also a quick google finds dozens of supporting papers and articles. It isn't exactly a controversial opinion amongst people who believe in climate change.

Here is a great summary from the Australian government, a government that is doing everything it can to worsen the situation yet at least acknowledges that it is something real and happening right now:


> Probably, but also a quick google finds dozens of supporting papers and articles.

Disclaimer: I _believe_ in antropogenic warming, but i'm not qualified to judge

One of the arguments that I find compelling, from individuals who would advocate for a less dramatic reading of the climate news, is that there's A LOT MORE MONEY available for researchers to find out how bad the situation is & not a lot of money (or encouragement from peers) available for folks who consistently find that there's less reason for alarm.

Bit of a confirmation bias, there? Maybe.

There's a lot more money in climate research than from the fossil fuel and other companies seeking to maintain the status quo? Colour me unconvinced. I suspect the Koch funded foundations and think tanks alone could eclipse most nation's science budgets.

The government is a firehose of money, and only government (academic) research gets reported on by the media. So yes it's entirely possible for private sector research to simply disappear, relative to the output of academia, whose papers utterly dominate the conversation.

How often do you see private sector studies be cited by the media? The sort of people who become journalists are the sort of people who immediately write off any study funded by industry without even bothering to read it.

I can't actually remember the last time I saw an industry or thinktank funded study being cited in US media, other than maybe by Breitbart. These studies do exist: go read any climate skeptic blog and you'll find quite detailed surveys, meta-analyses and the sort of content you'd find in a published paper if these people were the sorts of people who published in academic journals (they're not). But the press normally just ignores them, and on the rare occasions they don't, it's only to paint them as science-hating bogeymen.

For instance, I linked in another comment to a study on ocean acidification by Patrick Moore, who has a PhD in ecology and used to be a regional leader of Greepeace. This paper has all the same things you'd expect to find in a normal academic paper: citations, data and it says it was subject to double-blind peer review prior to publication.


And here's the Guardian commenting on Moore's work:


The piece is titled "Ask the real experts" and starts with 9 paragraphs of hate-filled invective that compares Moore and the scientists who support him to UFO believers, Elvis spotters, calls them "crazyballs", claims they're "blinded by beliefs and ideology", states that their views should never be allowed into national newspapers, falsely claims Moore has not written any peer reviewed publications (but e.g. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012804...), and then cites as evidence three "actual experts" who, of course, all work in universities.

The Guardian is a particularly extreme enclave of hard-left journalists who think only government-funded academics can understand a scientific topic, but the rest of the industry has similar biases.

As another example, here's a rather detailed replication and peer review of Al Gore's famous CO2 in a bottle experiment:


It discovers that the original experiment was fraudulent (this isn't stated to mean anything beyond Al Gore being a fraud; the author fully accepts that CO2 is a greenhouse gas).

Well if we're going to talk about people being frauds...

Patrick Moore burnt every last atom of his remaining credibility in his now famous Canal+ Glyphosate interview. Not that he had much being a paid PR consultant to various logging corporations and the nuclear industry, trying to leverage his former Greenpeace role for money.

They "falsely" claim Moore has published no papers in a mid 2015 Guardian article? Yet you link to a chapter in a year later 2016 book, not a paper as proof.

WUWT has NO credibility being one of the most well known deniers on the planet, putting out endless FUD, and infamously the instigators of the appalling shitshow that was Climategate.

That was looked into in great detail, and a series of independent investigations showed that the scientists did no wrong. Note, those investigations were UK and US, including the Science Select Committee, a Public Inquiry, the NSF and the EPA among others. All of them cleared the scientists.

It took years for the damage WUWT did with Climategate to settle.

Inadvertently I'm sure, with Moore you provide anecdotal evidence for my point. :)

Actually, I think you're the one illustrating my point, inadvertently I'm sure.

Yet you link to a chapter in a year later 2016 book, not a paper as proof.

The book is a journal published by Elsevier, a major academic publisher. You know, academic papers are frequently published in books.

You're right about the date though, I hadn't noticed that. The claim may have been true at the time, but no longer is. The rest still stands. The journalist in question was never going to take anything written by a non-academic seriously.

Now, the core point you've missed yet are making for me is very important: you have to understand that most climate change skeptics (which I am not, btw) aren't really skeptical about climate change per se. They're really better described as science skeptics or more accurately still, academia skeptics.

If you really engage with their arguments, which I get the feeling most people here never have done, you'll notice that what they're actually talking about is the problems of the scientific establishment. A lot of their arguments could transfer just as well to e.g. the healthcare industry, or academic psychology. And often what they're reacting to is not lobbyists or PR spending but what they see as over-credulous belief in the moral and intellectual purity of academics.

Your post is an excellent illustration of this:

• Shoot the messenger, ignoring his arguments because he isn't paid by the government.

• Shoot another messenger, because they're "well known deniers". This is a circular argument. You're saying "anyone who disagrees with what I believe has no credibility" which is a vacuous statement.

• Assert that a bunch of government funded environmental scientists investigated a bunch of government funded environment scientists and concluded it's all legit.

The latter part is really highlighting the underlying understanding gaps here. If you truly understand why Climategate created a whole lot of newly minted skeptics, then you'll understand that it was due to apparent duplicity and collusion in the scientific establishment, the possibility/likelihood of which is a major plank of climate skepticism. Thus saying those scientists were cleared by other scientists just like them won't convince anyone of anything, as it misses the point by a mile.

And BTW the Climategate guys weren't exactly cleared. For instance the Muir Russel review, in the words of the Guardian, concluded:

"It found the scientists had not fudged their results or silenced critics. But it found serious shortcomings in the openness with which they worked, posing a risk to the credibility of UK climate science and indicating a transformation in the way science has to be conducted in this century."

And it was apparent that the scientists in question had been deliberately and illegally frustrating attempts to check their work via FOIA requests:


The dust from that never really settled, and it wasn't some random blog causing trouble. The behaviour exposed by Climategate was covered in all the major newspapers at the time. It did rather strengthen the basic skeptics case but only in the same way that the replication crisis in psychology and medicine strengthened the case of other kinds of "expert skeptics".

It should not matter whether research is done in academia or industry. What matters is the conflicts of interest and funding sources.

It makes no odds if a study comes from work done at Oxford Uni or Exxon if it's funded by fossil fuel interests. I, along with most others, am going to be naturally suspicious of claims without independent verification. Likewise a study of the health impacts of red meat funded by some US cattle interests (as randomly cropped up on HN a while back) carries far less weight than the same study from an independently funded source.

I don't know anyone who has an over-credulous belief in the moral purity of academics. That's absurd. There's probably more likelihood of moral purity than in an industry lab, thanks to fewer overt conflicts or agendas to push, but there's no reason to blindly believe without peer review, replication and analysis, as appropriate.

On climategate:

Yes, they were cleared of wrongdoing, Russel's investigations criticised the openness, but concluded:

The "rigour and honesty" of the scientists at the Climatic Research Unit were found not to be in doubt. However, the panel also concluded the scientists were insufficiently open about their work

That sounds like cleared to me. I did not claim they were found to be perfect. No human (or scientist) has yet achieved that.

It's too long ago to remember exactly what was covered by the various FoI requests, but it seems entirely inappropriate to release data under FoI for work in progress before publication with analysis and conclusions. After that, requests for both raw and processed data should be honoured. So openness will always come with limits. That would apply to work in any field, whether in academia or industry.

Science isn't, and can't be perfect. Mistakes will be made, techniques will be sloppy, occasionally there will be outright fraud etc. There are processes to catch, correct and withdraw.

Meanwhile the CATO Institute's Michaels and WUWT were pouring lies and oil onto the fire, trying to stoke maximum damage. They managed to come out of the episode with pretty much no credibility at all. Of course there were no independent studies into their behaviour, or honesty, or any consequence for their lies. In fact they appear to be held to no standards at all. How convenient.

WUWT is not a peer review journal. They are not a messenger, they are a blog with an agenda. If Watts or any of his colleagues want to put out papers into the corpus in a reputable source, their results can stand or fall on their accuracy. The few times papers proposing alternatives to AGW have come out they have not, so far, stood scrutiny. I rather hope they do, as it would be nice to discover it was all a big misunderstanding and everything will be fine really.

At this point it's difficult to conclude WUWT are acting in good faith on any level. It appears to be an intentional attempt to distract, confuse and muddy whilst taking time and energy from anyone who is trying to actually advance (or disprove) the science. It's the tobacco and asbestos playbook. When they make a credible case it'll be in Nature or some such. I won't hold my breath.

As a last point:

> Assert that a bunch of government funded environmental scientists investigated a bunch of government funded environment scientists and concluded it's all legit.

OK, so now what? Science apparently has no checks or balances acceptable to you, or is it all a global conspiracy? It doesn't matter that the Climate Research Unit is NOT government funded. Sponsors have included BP, the Nuffield Foundation and Shell. How very strange their results have gone against the interests of their sponsors. It makes it damn awkward to build a convincing chain of corruption and conspiracy though.

That's unanswerable.

Sure, the funding source is what matters. So why do people assume that academics have neutral or independent funding sources?

The basic argument that climate scientists wouldn't get funding to do their jobs if it weren't for their predictions of global catastrophe, is a sound one. If climate scientists were reporting "our models suggest the climate is sorta like it used to be, there's probably not much going on", it'd be a backwater with almost no funding and absolutely no media interest. If economists took a stance of, "the economy is too complex to model or predict, but we'll collect a lot of data for you" then how many economists would be employed, or have newspaper columns?

There's a structural incentive to be very confident in your ability to predict the future, if you're in certain areas of academia, as there are effectively no other employers. It's not just a climate issue.

I'd feel a lot happier and more confident in the narrative if I felt sure this structural problem was at least recognised, ideally dealt with. But I don't see it:

- The media present academics as neutral 'experts' whose word is beyond question.

- Academics themselves encourage this and never talk about their own conflicts of interest.

- Famous journals are run by academics with the same set of incentives.

This is how you get stuff like https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/05/07/5-httlpr-a-pointed-rev... happening, where 450 different studies over multiple decades investigated an effect that in the end didn't exist.

We're told "science" self corrects and will always yield the right answer in the end. That may well be true if you use a wide definition of science that includes analysis done by random bloggers and anyone else who wants to contribute. But it's not at all clear that's true for the government funded academic apparatus, on at the scales needed, or on any reasonable timescale. It's entirely possible to believe in the scientific method whilst still retaining skepticism about the output of particular groups of people who do scientific work within particular social structures.

Note: The CRU shenanigans were revealed through email hacking, not any kind of formal scientific process. In fact the researchers were deliberately evading laws put in place to try and stop that kind of thing. And even though we know ordinary science can self-correct because major faults like 5-HTTLPR are caught, it took decades. Psychology is riven with entire sub-fields that were studied since the 60s and are now known to be totally wrong. How many similar bodies of knowledge are waiting to collapse? There are plenty of examples of things thought to be "science" that evaporated when examined closely, often with scientists involved simply denying that anything had collapsed at all!

It looks especially bad when climate scientists start adjusting old datasets to make their predictions come true, as has been happening recently with the new versions of the global temperature datasets. For many years the temperature data showed that global warming had stopped: average temperates were stable. This violated all prior models predicting what would happen and was a major problem for climate science as an endeavour. Now there are new 'versions' of old temperature readings that mysteriously disappear the plateau from the public record.

There might be solid, scientific reasons for this. It might be that for many decades global temperature readings were fundamentally wrong and nobody detected it. But if something like that happens, climate scientists need to be very publicly screaming about what went wrong, and why, and what lessons they learned from it, because otherwise it looks suspicious as hell. It looks very much like they're adjusting the data to fit the models in order to preserve their own jobs.

It doesn't matter that the Climate Research Unit is NOT government funded. Sponsors have included BP, the Nuffield Foundation and Shell.

In the 1970s yes, before it was researching global warming. Currently it's a part of a university and gets its funding from governments (including the US Dept of Energy).

People don't assume that academics have neutral funding sources. That's why many will always look at the potential for conflict of interest, and look more carefully into the why. An academic in a university research body will get loads of funding from private foundations and industry. Even when it's not helpfully labelled as the Microsoft Campus, Oxford University. Who knows, I might be suspicious of some work coming out of there that is reporting a result that happens to be in Microsoft's interests.

Given they supposedly have to find change to keep their jobs, how is it that all the research around the world is pointing to similar changes? If they're just making shit up, I'd expect predictions all over the map.

The days of constraint free government funding for Blue Skies research are long gone. The world is far worse off as a result. That doesn't mean every single project, from every source is now corrupt. It does mean that some projects and studies do indeed have an agenda.

Offer some evidence that academia is entirely corrupt. Or worse than industry.

The CRU's current About Us includes:

"sponsored by contracts and grants from academic funding councils, government departments, intergovernmental agencies, charitable foundations, non-governmental organisations, commerce and industry"

To me that is not proof of "gets its funding from governments". It's one of multiple sources of funding. Regardless of how much you want to paint them as some government funded state puppet.

Yet even then I fail to see how that helps your cause célèbre, the British government has been decidedly anti AGW and renewables in the last decade, with policies distinctly in favour of fossil. If the CRU were as corrupt as you keep claiming, the climate unit would surely be busy proving how harmless petrol and gas are, to get more of that filthy Conservative government lucre.

We're not going to reach agreement, thanks for the conversation. :)

No problem, I find this conversation enjoyable and useful.

I went looking for info on the funding of CRU. The best I could find was this:


The Climategate docs had a spreadsheet with funding sources. So that's quite old now, but back then it was about £13 million from various sources, all of which were the government. I suppose they probably do get a bit of funding from non-government sources, but it seems it isn't likely to be much.

It shows Professor Jones, along with other academics at the university, received more than 50 separate grants with a value of £13.7 million from a number of funding bodies including the European Union, Nato, and the US department of energy. Several British bodies also gave substantial sums including the Met Office, the Environment Agency, the National Rivers Authority and the Department for the Environment.

Perhaps this article doesn't list any private sector grantees, but there are plenty of government bodies to go around.

Re: everyone getting the same results, is academia corrupt.

The research around the world doesn't agree entirely, but it's pretty close. However, it's all based on the same datasets. There are only a few temperature datasets available, really only two major datasets and one is maintained by the CRU. It's really an incredibly influential organisation, which is presumably why someone hacked it and why it was such a splash.

Now, if the temperature record is unreliable all climate research based on that record is also unreliable. You can't argue the world is getting warmer unless you can reliably measure temperatures, that's pretty basic.

Unfortunately we know for sure the temperature record must be unreliable, because the historical temperature dataset scientists use (which goes back to about 1850) keeps being revised. If you use the dataset that was current in the 1990s, then compare the dataset to the ones being provided today, you can see that the historical temperatures have been changed.

This isn't done entirely secretly; the idea is that thermometer readings have to be adjusted to take into effect various confounding factors and that's perfectly legitimate. But there are practical problems:

1. People have been measuring temperatures with thermometers for over a century, yet scientists are still changing how they adjust the raw data today, with the result that the official temperatures seen back in the 30s and 40s, or even earlier, are still changing. The results of the adjustments are massive and fundamentally change the conclusions of the science. But by logical implication, if modern scientists are actually correct to do these adjustments then all previous analyses of the climate made until now must have been wrong. Why is nobody alerting the world to the prior wrongness of climate datasets?

2. Temperature dataset creators like the CRU have a nasty habit of claiming they destroyed or "lost" the raw, unadjusted data. They have also fought very strongly to block the release of raw datasets, and engaged in other sorts of behaviour that scientists aren't meant to engage in. That is, the only datasets available are those that have been "retouched" by people who get multi-million pound budgets because of predictions of warming.

This large conflict of interest requires enormous trust in the climate scientists. It is thus unfortunate that revisions of historical data always create warming effects where previously none existed. The apparent pause in rising temperatures was discussed by scientists for many years - the latest temperature datasets from CRU rewrite history and erase it entirely.

So you have to understand that climate skeptics are entirely understandable. Their positions aren't weird or crazy. Climate scientists are asking the world for staggeringly huge amounts of trust: to trust them about their understanding of climate trends although they're simultaneously claiming that all recorded temperature data, even as recently as 10 years ago, was wrong.

This graphic illustrates the kind of thing that happens:


Last thing:

the British government has been decidedly anti AGW and renewables in the last decade, with policies distinctly in favour of fossil

Hmm, did you notice Theresa May's last act before she resigned? She committed the UK to massive climate change spending:


That's not the act of a government that's anti-AGW.

I'll not go too far into CRU, as I have no definitive proof of their funding beyond what is publicly known.

I can't imagine why the Met Office or NRA would have any interest in promoting research with an agenda. They want to forecast the weather accurately, and manage UK rivers respectively. Their interests are served by accuracy, not agenda and incorrect data. DOE was abolished by the Tories which you might well think reveals their stance.

Talking of, the Telegraph piece you link is after they stopped being a reputable newspaper with a rightwing but honest perspective, but were well along their journey to rightwing bullshit comic of today (ie after the Barclay brothers bought them). Which is a damn shame as I once used to buy Telegraph, FT and Guardian to get the spread of perspective. There isn't much available for honesty on the right from UK newspapers now. Which is not to discredit your link, I simply do not know. They still hadn't quite ditched all pretence to honesty around then. :)

> did you notice Theresa May's last act

lol. OK, I'll bite. The last act of a leader, as a "fuck you" to whoever might follow, after presiding over a famously weak government, coming shortly after the cross-party Select Committee's detailed plan to decarbonise. Greenwashing that was entirely empty words and the sound of kicking the can down the road. As significant as Boris Johnson's "I will lie in front of Heathrow bulldozers" speech. What legislation was brought to require movement towards her very distant targets?

What have the Conservative government done towards meeting that target since? What policy have they? Hint: nowt beyond the vague "so far in the future we don't care at all" target.

On other climate, renewables and efficiency related bills, the Conservatives have very consistently voted them down. They ended onshore wind completely, they removed feed tariffs for home solar - initially with no plan for replacement causing a 90%+ reduction in installations and decimating the industry, approved the Heathrow expansion, approved and promoted fracking - though even their own party membership objected to this so they wound it back somewhat, voted down the climate targets (two or three times), voted down the vehicle emission limits. It goes on, and on. You found one speech with nice words.

Also note that it was Parliament, not the Conservative Government that declared a climate emergency.

Coincidentally just today the Grauniad put up a very nice summary of how MPs have voted on recent climate issues, with an overall summary graphic: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/...

The actual voting patterns reveal everything. The data allows me to stand 100% by my claim of UK government's actual stance.

> So yes it's entirely possible for private sector research to simply disappear, relative to the output of academia, whose papers utterly dominate the conversation.

It's not visible to everybody, but the government and private companies tend to fund studies at the same academic institutions.

Usually, it's not important who is paying for some research, so it tends to be hard to discover this information.

> The government is a firehose of money, and only government (academic) research gets reported on by the media. So yes it's entirely possible for private sector research to simply disappear, relative to the output of academia, whose papers utterly dominate the conversation.

Corporations are just as capable of pumping money into universities as anyone else. The University of Kentucky let the coal industry buy naming rights to their famous basketball team's new dorm (now the "Wildcat Coal Lodge") and erect a "tribute exhibit to the coal industry," against furious objections from students and community. https://www.kentucky.com/news/local/watchdog/article44078883... Or for the opposite approach, right now the pro-oil governor of Alaska is eviscerating the University of Alaska's funding because it's a center for climate research that produces results he doesn't like. https://www.hcn.org/articles/climate-change-research-threate...

If there was solid evidence against anthropogenic climate change for universities to research, they would have been persuaded to do so.

Oh, I'm certain reporting is often very dramatic, especially for climate change. It seems to be a trait of much modern journalism.

In this case we are seeing coral reefs die in real time in front of us. Maybe they end up being more resilient than we anticipate, to which reporting that the end is nigh will seem a bit silly. But it's somewhat too late for citations and debate on whether or not they are being harmed.

When something goes against scientific stablished consensus, onus of the proof falls into the party that argues against it, not the one that states what is currently well known and accepted.

Can you cite that that’s what is “currently well known and accepted”. Burden of proof is on whoever is making the statement.

Not actually a citation for the statement that 'Climate change makes coral reefs suffer more', so not terribly helpful in this context.

That's fine as long as you understand that the alternative is "I don't know if the claim is true", not "the claim is false".

Yeah that's definitely the approach. It's simply an "unvalidated" statement either way, until evidence is provided to support it.

I've always wondered how coral reefs stuck around for hundreds of millions of years if they're so fragile and prone to death without recovery.

The current Great Barrier Reef is 8,000 years old, having regrown after the last ice age. There's been a reef there for 500,000 years, but it's been destroyed multiple times.

Of course, the time scales involved are quite long. Recovery is thought to have taken hundreds of years, if not thousands. And the process only starts after conditions improve.

See Also: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/05/great-barrier-reef-h...

That is strange given how fast the Bikini Atoll reefs regenerated themselves, even after being nuked.

Because rate of change is a factor. Even slow organisms are able to move around / adapt (unconsciously obviously, and mostly if widespread, and sheer luck is a factor) to slow rates of change. Or they can repopulate their old niche afterwards (over hundreds of generations) from populations which avoided or were protected from the disaster e.g. cold-water corals.

The current rate of change is not slow, we're doing over a handful of generations what would naturally take thousands or tens of thousands of years.

Perhaps they like warmth and will spread towards the poles from where they are now - the hottest waters.


The IPCC doom predictions simply make no sense to me given that large parts of the oceans are currently too cold for corals (by 10+ K).

> The IPCC doom predictions simply make no sense to me given that large parts of the oceans are currently too cold for corals (by 10+ K).

Coral reefs don't get built over two weeks, or even two centuries. Furthermore warm-water corals need sunlight, and proper depths.

You are right it takes about 50 years given the only data we have on how fast they regenerate. The Bikini Atolls being the only data point we have.

I think it's about the speed of adaptation or even migration, for that matter. If they had thousands or tens of thousands of years to adapt, sure. But it's more in the 50-100 year range.

See my post above 50 years to regenerate is the only data we have and in that time the Bikini Atolls reef is nothing short of a success story given the fact that it was nuked into oblivion less than 100 years ago.

Also, the Earth's climate has been much, much warmer than today in the past.

A big difference is that has not usually happened at such a high rate of change.

"Geological" warming normally happens over tens of millions of years, not tens of decades (e.g. Cambrian's 55MA was a warming period from current-ish to early ordovician greenhouse).

More rapid changes have been massive extinction events (e.g. O-S).

What is actually quite fast is the change from ice age to interglacial: hundreds to thousands of years in temperatures from Antarctica. It is not quite clear yet how that happens.


yes, but it usually changes over the course of thousands of years, not tens of years. In the past, coral migrated north and south to stay in the optimal temperature. There's not enough time for that at the scale of anthropogenic climate change.

> yes, but it usually changes over the course of thousands of years

The scale we're observing right now is the stuff of millions of years of change, or massive extinction events.

Yeah, exactly. If the change happens as fast as it is happening, you get a mass extinction. If the change happens over thousands of years, biomes have time to migrate.

Using the xkcd timeline as a guide, the temperature change in the last 120 years is about the size of the temperature change between 11,000 and 9,000 BC, which was only mildly disruptive to global ecology.

So move the coral.

Is a possibility

> But the researchers found that in 38 percent of the impacted colonies, the polyps had devised a survival strategy: shrinking their dimensions, partly abandoning their original skeleton, and gradually, over a period of several years, growing back and starting a new skeleton.

Is it that 38% use this method or they all try to use this method and only 38% are successful?

Also, who’s to say they “developed” that? That makes it sound like they’re dealing with something completely new (fits into man-made climate change narrative). Is it possible that through millions of years of evolution the earth had many such warming experiences and they developed this technique well before we arrived on the scene?

If you'd RTA you'd have answered your question. We've long had evidence for this type of recovery happening. The problem is that the evidence is from the Paleozoic fossil record. It's vanishingly unlikely that /no/ corals ever undertook this process in the past 300 million years but it's not typical behavior and it's extremely significant that it's been observed in modern corals.

We know that catastrophic climate change has occurred in the past. Climate scientists are not proposing this is new on a geological time scale. But it's new to us and to most extant species. We don't all have these tricks up our sleeves.

It's not new to us and most extant species. There were several rapid ~10 C temperature changes at the end of the pleistocene period 10-15k years ago: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/06/19/the-intriguing-proble...

Of course they do, but this is not the real question here.

Zooxanthellae in temperate reef corals like C. Caespitosa are relativelly tolerant to temperature change. Tropical reef corals are machines infinitely more complicated. Having a lot of Acropora growing really fast is not necessarily a good symptom, for example.

You say "of course they do" as though it's not a novel finding and "this is not the real question" as though this is the answer to a question and not a scientific finding.

Neither is the case.

1) Bleaching in corals is not one disease. They are (at least) five different types associated to four different genuses of bacteria. All of them could be symptoms of another problem instead the real causes, as seen in research done in Oculina, the other ubiquitous species from Mediterranean Sea with Cladocora (see Ainsworth et al 2008).

And there are other kinds of necrosis caused by viruses, echinoderms and polychaetes.

That some species of corals at least can recover relatively fast after bleaching is know since... dunno, but probably since 80's at least. A bibliographic search should find early documents about it. Other species never bleach and other just die (Levas et al 2018)

2) The real juicy question to answer there, is not if corals bleach and recover, we knew that they do it since decades even if was not reported for Cladocora. The question is what corals bleach and what corals recover, in my not so humble opinion.

1) OK, but I'm not sure how it pertains to your point that there are multiple causes of bleaching.

2) In this case, Cladocora caespitosa

Corals can recover from "bleaching" and can overgrow skeletonised areas (at some extent), but neither all bleaching cases are equal, nor all of the around 3500 species, if I remember correctly) of extant hard corals are equally resilient.

The real cause of bleaching is unknown. Vibrio can invade the area and accelerate the killing of coral tissue, but is unclear if they are a cause of the disease or a secondary effect of the disease.

IT is absolutely known, it has been proven that Nitrogen in the presence of phosphorus with the addition of micro metals such as titanium and zinc suspensions found in sunscreen are creating a chemical cocktail that is toxic to the coral.

The real cause of bleaching isn't in question. The article has little to do with the cause of bleaching. It doesn't suppose that the 3500 species extant hard corals are equally resilient. You are telling me things that, while certainly interesting and appreciated as such, don't really address any problems with the article or its assumptions.

Sorry, but I'm not interested in peer reviewing the article here if this is what you expected. I was not asked to do so in any case by the editors, and this is not the place for it.

The article is great, but the problem is more complex than that, for several reasons that as you pointed, are out of the scope of the article (so I will not discuss them here). Feel welcomed to talk about the article, and only about the article, if this is what you want. I will listen carefully.

Global Warming politics aside as easily as a catastrophe can be pushed aside.

Is anyone more informed able to explain how the KT Extinction event affected corals?

How were they able to survive the mass extinction event of the dinosaurs if they're so sensitive to temperature changes?

Googling "coral kt extinction" gave me this BBC article- https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45133197

So it looks like either corals evolved after the KT extinction event or they survived in very small amounts (maybe a few species) before re-exploding in diversity after the extinction event. This can be seen in global warming today- some corals take to the hotter water better than other corals, and even some regions that have had hotter water historically have corals that aren't really affected, while the Great Barrier Reef and similar are undergoing a mass dying.

EDIT: Also, deep water corals do exist, so it's possible they survived from there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep-water_coral

Thank you for you response.

I should have LBYL instead of EAFP

I hate acronyms so much.

LBYL - Look Before You Leap

EAFP - Easier to Ask Forgiveness than Permission

Thank you very much

You must have really hated the early internet then!

I am no expert but I had been diving with with some marine biologists. They were pretty sure that corals are able to adapt - move to cooler waters with right light / temperature combination.

The problem is that coral reefs grow slowly so if existing reefs die it would be loss for us divers and for the entire ecosystem (fishes etc.) that's irreversible over say 100 years perspective.

Nevermind 65 million years ago, corals survived 400 ft of comparatively rapid sea level rise at the end of the last glacial period 11000 years ago. All the existing reefs drowned. They're hardier than we give them credit for.

They're in trouble again thanks to us, but now they also have us to help. We can plant reefs and engineer heat resistant breeds of coral.

Corals live underwater...

Corals don't live at those depths, not "regular" corals anyway. They need to be close enough to the surface for the sunlight to feed the symbiotic organisms on which they depend.

They need to be close to the surface to get enough sunlight to live.

Survivor bias. Many species went extinct, hence the name of the event.

We should treat mass-near-extinctions that are going on very seriously, if we want to have a diversity of life and not brown toxic goo everywhere.

Yes, humans are unlikely to go extinct, since we know vertical farming and airponics, but all the beauty of life around us can disappear.

They are not that sensitive to temperature change, the article is bad science, the reefs are being bleached and killed by titanium and zinc much of which comes from sun screen. That is why the only reefs that are surviving are in remote areas that do not see the population density to elevate the water to the ppm that its needed to bleach the coral, I live less than 3 miles from Mote marine and run into and talk to many of their researchers not one of them has ever told me that they have data that warming alone is bleaching the reefs but they know for a fact titanium and zinc are, they are one of the foremost research centers on reef science and reef restoration:



IIRC Hawaii has already banned sunscreens that contain those products and we have banned it in the Florida Keys. It is what is causing bleaching, we know it for a fact. My daughter while not a marine biologist yet, is well on her way, she does a lot of work on reef restoration and focuses her studies on Coral as it is what she wants to do. The entire focus on reef restoration is in the areas of agricultural run off, micro-plastics and suspended micro metals elimination as well as reforesting. Ocean temperatures are not killing the reefs if it was it would be as simple as troughing deep water and using tidal flow to up flow cooler water over the reef. I actually had this conversation with one of the researches once, as I interact with them from time to time due to my daughters interests.

Coastal mainland Florida has lost all of it's reefs, they where alive when I was a kid but where dying. It was also the time when Florida saw a huge tourism and population boom. The reefs in the keys where fine at that time, but by the early 90's the lower keys from the 7 mile bridge to Key west started to see signs of bleaching, meanwhile there was no evidence of it in the upper Keys which sits right in between the dead reefs of mainland Florida and the dying reefs of Key West. The difference was Key West became a larger tourist destination in that time due to the formation of the tourist development council in the years preceding. For the most part Key Largo still does not have the same problem (it is happening though, due to agricultural run off) because it sees less tourism than Key West and the tourism it does see is more SCUBA based tourism who generally do not wear sunscreen.

Another culprit is agricultural run off, while I am not a fan of the article below because it states it's global warming out of the gate, then offers no fact to back up said statement and omits the fact that the study they cite noted in the study that there where no increases in average water temperature in the Keys during the study, or the fact that the Keys has seen a Keys wide drop in average water temps for the past decade. There where several spikes in temperature above the threshold and die off where only observed when massive runoffs where in place. When the temps exceeded the threshold and runoff nitrogen and phosphorus where observed to be in low PPM there where no recorded die-offs. That being said it does do a good job of explaining what said runoff is doing to the reefs. Basically when the water hits a certain N:P ration in the presence of of warmer water, it kills the reef. Without the N:P ration the reefs thrive in the warmer spikes so, water temp is second to the fact that the presence of agricultural run off creates the chemical environment that is toxic to the reef. The heat is only the catalyst when those chemicals are presence.



In the Keys we have banned fertilizers for lawn maintenance and we have moved the population centers to sewage whereas just a decade ago every house outside of Key West and Marathon has septic systems. But we still have a huge issue with Big sugar dumping water into the everglades which runs out of the gulf and over our reefs.

I am very concerned about our reefs and it is important that people know exactly what is killing them. Fixing global warming is not going to save our reefs. It gives people a false sense of security and needs to be rebuked as bad science.

The first article you cite says:

"The chemical UV filter oxybenzone has been studied most intensively and the following effects have been described: Bleaching of coral fragments and coral cells from various species of hard coral. This effect is more pronounced at higher water temperatures."

Sounds like, as with many things, the story isn't simple. Multiple environmental changes simultaneously can have consequences where each, by itself, would have much less effect. In general, we need to tackle all the causes to some degree to have much hope of success.

It is fairly simple, they do not die in the same temps when the PPM of these chemicals are low, the temps are secondary and are allowing the chemicals to make certain bonds that are toxic to the reef. Absent the chemicals the reefs tolerate the temperatures just fine. They are only sensitive to temperature when the chemicals are present thus the chemicals are the primary source of death and thus their elimination is paramount to the survival of reefs. The chemical are what kill the coral not the temperature as if you heated the water to threshold, then cooled it, then poured it on coral it will kill it as the water has reached threshold, thus the bonds have been made. This study was actually done here in the keys, I will see if I can find the paper.

Both agricultural run off and sunscreen follow a similar pattern.

No marine scientist with any credibility is suggesting that sunscreen or plastics are a larger threat to coral reefs than climate change. The articles you yourself are citing from ICRI call out that studies on sunscreen are ex-situ and do not reflect what occurs in nature. Agricultural runoff makes the impacts of climate change worse but the main drivers of bleaching are temperature and ocean acidification.

I provided many references, and have talked to many of them. I live in the heart of US based coral research Mote being literally on my Island and Harbor Branch being where I grew up, as I said my daughter is well on her way in this field. While I many not be a certified expert, I have a bit of arm chair knowledge in this field. I mean I literally drink at the Sugarloaf Tiki Lodge with a few of them and help my daughter understand the chemistry in the papers she has to understand. A few links to your sources would be nice in a refute of what I have provided. Because I know quite a few credible marine scientist that say runoff and micro metal / plastic is what we need to focus on. I was literally at the meeting with them when we convinced Monroe county to ban traditional sunscreen and the science was solid that is why we banned them and it is why Hawaii banned them (to put it into perspective, I was hanging out with the Tim Berner Lee's and the brendan Eich's of coral research, trying to accomplish a goal). I am not trying to be a douchy name dropper here, but I think it is important in trying to highlight how substandard of a refute and insulting you refute is to a well thought out post that I took time to gather links and articulate is.

We don't just get to say global warming blah, blah like a vampire and everyone runs scared. Its really starting to aggravate me that AGW has permeated doomsday science so much that we just invoke it when we need magic. It has become a god and certainly has become a god of HN environmental posts. I provided links and a well thought out post and you get to refute me with nu-uh AGW! I mean AGW is to the environment what CBD is to what ails you. I mean I have been thinking about picking up some CBD to put on my head to stop my male patter baldness because it cures so much stuff. I say that as a dyed in the wool tree hugging hippy, that actually knows via research that AGW is a real thing. But have been alive long enough to know that people exploit literally everything for their gain and AGW is no different. This thread is a perfect example we know, no if ands or buts what is killing the reefs but some how we have to work AGW in there or it's not a fact. When in fact it is a fact and it needs to be accepted fact because there is solid science behind it, because when they go it will finally give all the doomsday environmentalist what they are looking for, because the rest of the ocean will go with it. Junk science needs to be refuted at all costs, it hurts science more than it helps it. Water temperature rise killing the reefs is junk science. It is a catalyst in the presence of the real poisons.

I mean no disrespect, and am certainly not trying to be a jerk, I value all opinions, but I am very passionate about this subject and do know the facts on it. Look at my history I rail on and on about how ocean pollution is a huge danger to us, that being said, you need to provide these scientist that claim AGW is the source of reef bleaching. Because I can certainly get Dr. Michael P. Crosby to come on here and do an AMA. Your response comes off as a refute by appealing to the populous crowd, devoid of any fact. Again I am not trying to disparage or disrespect, but there was no refute in it other than what amounts to nu-uh.

Some areas of corollary data that you need to refute if you want to support you position are:

Why are the Bikini atolls, which got nuked less than 100 years ago, flourishing, when they are shallow and have seen average temperature rise above other areas that are dyeing. Yet they have very little tourism and no agricultural development?


Why are remote areas on the Caribbean such as Tortuga not seeing the same die off, even though they are in the same thermocline as the rest of the keys and have seen the same temperature gradients as the keys.

Why has Cuba not seen the level of reef bleaching that the more industrialized Florida has seen, even though it has higher average water temperatures?


Why does Bimini and other parts of the Bahamas still retain living reefs in less than 15 foot of water even though shallow water reefs have on average higher water temps than Florida or the Keys whose reefs tend to exist in 20ft or below.

and also to note, there have been die-offs when threshold temperatures have not been reached, when additional chemicals a present that act as a different but complementary catalyst in the absence of tempature:


Until you can solidly refute via science, all of those you don't get to invoke global warming as a fact for reef die off and you certainly don't get to appeal to authority of "any marine scientist with any credibility". All of those are converse facts to what you claim but are not to the facts that I have presented.

Again I will say it simply and clearly we are pumping poisons into the ocean, temperatures can make them more poisonous but in the absence of the poison, temperature alone causes no die off. It certain circumstances, in the presence of other chemicals temperature is not even required for die-off. These are all verifiable facts.

It has never been observed that temperature (within normal earth water temperatures) alone kills coral. This is also a fact.

Some species of coral are resistant to temperature, others are not. Generally, the most visually spectacular coral are the most sensitive to temperature.

Very interesting.

Read a 2012 study a few days ago on what kills coral. Have not found a more recent follow up yet. (I was snorkelling on the reef a few days ago, the parts I saw looked pretty good, so wanted to find out more.)

They studied a fair number of reefs, on the Great Barrier / Coral Sea area. My quick summary, from memory, about half of reef coral "cover" damaged at that time. Only 10% from bleaching, the rest split between cyclone damage and crown of thorns. Their conclusion, if crown of thorns are eliminated the reefs will recover naturally.

Fortunately in my 3 days of snorkelling I didn't see a single crown of thorns. The crown killing operation is hopefully that effective on most of the reef.

I'm seeing a lot of comments speculating on how coral reefs got along for hundreds of millions of years. While coral species have existed for this long, that is not how long these ecosystems have existed. What we think of as coral reefs have only been around for ~24 million years. This tweet has a nice diagram and pointers to resources:


Then they would have missed the Eocene hyperthermal 55.2 million years ago a rapid 5 to 8 C warmup due to a huge influx of carbon into the atmosphere (8 to 20 times all human activity). Its not known where all this carbon came from yet.

24 million years is still ~6-10x as long as hominids have been around, and ~70x as long as Homo Sapiens has walked the earth.

Honestly this tastes like nothing. With phytoplankton, acidification and the threat of the methane trigger

I’m having trouble understanding this comment. What are you trying to say?

That this will not be enough to survive long term. Those are really ancient animals in any case and know a few tricks.

Methane is a nothing burger. It breaks down so quickly it doesn't affect much.

Methane has a residence of a decade in the atmosphere. "Methane trigger" is short for the clathrate gun hypothesis, which is the rapid release of methane sequestered in methane hyudrate deposits at the poles. Those are very large deposits of methane hosted in water ice, currently estimated at roughly ten times conventional methane reserves. If ambient temperatures exceed the melting point, the methane is released.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrate_gun_hypothesis is a much more detailed summary. It is strongly correlated with mass extinction events. It is also appears to be beginning: https://www.newsweek.com/methane-boiling-sea-discovered-sibe...

From the very same wikipedia article you referenced, under "Current Outlook":

Most deposits of methane clathrate are in sediments too deep to respond rapidly, and modelling by Archer (2007) suggests the methane forcing should remain a minor component of the overall greenhouse effect.[28] Clathrate deposits destabilize from the deepest part of their stability zone, which is typically hundreds of metres below the seabed. A sustained increase in sea temperature will warm its way through the sediment eventually, and cause the shallowest, most marginal clathrate to start to break down; but it will typically take on the order of a thousand years or more for the temperature signal to get through.

I hope so, I don't know what the cause of the Siberian seep is. I hope that it's submerged permafrost. Appreciate your pointing that out.

Right, and youay ne thinking, let's play the odds. But there is only once chance, so what do odds mean anyway in that scenario? Will you wall away a failure and still take solace in the fact that by the odds you were supposed to be correct?

But if there is only one chance, how can you know what the odds of anything? You have the past, and you have the future and you may prescribe a certain significance to that past for what reason you don't really know. How could you, it just feels right, doesn't it? Your memory, regard8this as truth, it just feels right. But consider.. one point in time and space, in however many dimensions there may be, and the only reason you believe in a certain outcome is feeling that your so called memory is representitive of reality..Wnat evidence do.you have it.is.right? I.claime none.at all. None.ag.all.none.sfall

Methane breaks down quickly, yes, but it also has a much, much more potent greenhouse effect. Taking both factors into account, releasing 1 ton of methane is estimated to be about equivalent to releasing 25 tons of CO2.

Yes, but is the amount of methane released anywhere near the same as CO2? Hint: methane is measured in parts per billion, whereas co2 is measured in parts per million.

Normalized for atmospheric lifetime and radiative forcing, American methane emissions account for about 12% as much anthropogenic warming as carbon dioxide emissions:


(Carbon dioxide 82%, methane 10%)

Globally, as of 2012, methane contributes about 23% as much as CO2 to anthropogenic warming:


(Carbon dioxide 35.47 billion tons CO2e, methane 8.01 billion tons CO2e).

So methane is certainly a smaller contributor toward warming than CO2 but it's more significant than you have conveyed.

It breaks down to form water and CO2...which are both greenhouse gases.

Methane is measured in parts per billion, co2 in parts per million... So, what is your point?

Taking a step back, coral reefs have been around in some form or other for at least 500 million years. I would be greatly surprised if they weren't resilient enough to survive a lot of things. That's not to say we shouldn't work to protect them, but it does make me skeptical that they could be lost as easily as we seem to be assuming.

They can and it truly is a huge risk at the moment, the problem is the AGW camp is trying to subvert the research for their gain which is a detriment to what we need to accomplish the fact is agricultural run off, and sunscreen micro metals are a creating toxins which the reefs are unprepared for, Which has caused massive deforestation of reefs in areas close to population centers. as well as more remote areas where said population or agricultural centers, waters off-spring over their reefs. These toxins are a new threat to coral and one that they have not seen before, time will tell if they can adapt but it is known that all of the mainland Florida reefs are now dead due to these toxins and have not regenerated since the 1980's when the last of them died off.

I've always wondered about this because corals have been around during much warmer and much more acidic periods in the ocean.

We should do whatever we can to preserve the coral reefs, but as usual, cataclysmic forecasts from scientists proved to be wrong yet again, and nature is a lot more resilient than expected.

Put me firmly in the camp of "we need to protect the environment at all costs" (ex. I believe that companies that pollute our waters should get shut down, I believe boats that produce massive amounts of pollution should be sunk by our navy, etc), but I also tend to no longer believe the click-bait headlines that our entire society is rife with. These headlines produced by journalists, not scientists, are the information that gets propagated and that is poisoning our society with misinformation.

Well, maybe we should also read beyond headlines — because this article offers a glimmer of hope, but no guarantee that the world’s reefs will bounce back from the very real damage they’re being subjected to.

Yes, exactly. It's like nobody read to the end of the article:

"For sure, it's good news, but what we are seeing now in the Mediterranean Sea and other parts of the world is that these marine heat waves are recurrent—happening every summer or every second summer," Kersting said.

These corals also grow very slowly—at a rate of about 3 millimeters a year—"so if you are having every second summer a heat wave, and it's killing 10 to 15 percent of the cover, I mean, the numbers are clear," he added.

"They actually need help from us. We need to stop climate change, because it's not going to be enough."

Global warming is just starting. Ocean temperatures are on an uptrend. If every human being disappeared right now, temperature would increase for decades.

Even those who read the full article tend to gloss over the very real consequences that are being promised. It's part of people's nature to just try and suppress issues as long as possible because, hey, there's a marginally good thing happening, it's impossible for a bad thing to be happening as well, right? Depressing but it's not unusual when the news is a constant stream of darkness.

How does this at all prove the "cataclysmic forecasts from scientists" — namely, that climate change will destroy the reefs — wrong? The scientist responsible for this study himself says, "We need to stop climate change, because it's not going to be enough," i.e. this discovery doesn't chance the broad forecast at all.

The headline itself explains it: what happened to the corals was previously stated to be fatal. But it turns out not to be fatal. That's a miss and raises questions about whether the new predictions at the bottom of the article are also wrong.

People survive gunshots to the head and chest, falls from high heights, heart attacks and smallpox.

Most things that are reasonably described as "fatal" aren't actually death sentences; well, no more than actual death sentences, for which reprieves are granted all the time.

Doesn't make them good, or even particularly less bad.

> but as usual, cataclysmic forecasts from scientists

This is a really dangerous mindset.

"We should do whatever we can to preserve the coral reefs, but as usual, cataclysmic forecasts from scientists proved to be wrong yet again, and nature is a lot more resilient than expected."

Yet again, someone falsely ascribes views to scientists that they never had. I keep track of this stuff, and I don't know what forecasts you are talking about.

Actual forecasts (ipcc reports), if anything have been overly conservative. And they are grim. There is active research as to why they are overly conservative and reality is proceeding worse than the already grim forecasts.

this is how the reactionary mind works. the problem isn't the problem. the problem is how THOSE PEOPLE reacted to the problem such that now I, THE REASONABLE AND INFORMED ADULT MODERATE, must now devils-advocate (aka advocate) for the problem.

As I've gotten older I've realized that "moderates" who generally agree with you but advocate for less action (and often inaction) are generally the biggest stumbling block to getting things done.

MLK's letter from Birmingham jail is still really true to me today (you can just search for "moderate" to find the part I'm talking about) https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham....

I've found in my personal life (so maybe this doesn't hold true on the internet, but maybe it does when there is something at stake, like karma points) that moderates who advocate for lesser actions, but 'agree' with me are really just people who don't agree with me at all but don't want to take an action (disagreement) they perceive as possibly being damaging to a relationship.

One Person's Source: All of the people who say 'I'm fiscally conservative but socially liberal' in my life have turned out to be veeerrrryyyy socially conservative.

So this is part of it but I've also met people who agree with me but are still resistant to action. The most obvious time for this is protests, I've met so many people who agree with what the protestors are protesting for but don't like how they are going about doing it.

Though I will say using protests as an example here while valid is a little of a unfair because people always criticise protestors for their tactics, regardless of how reasonable (I know I have in the past)

You ever though that maybe they have seen this bullshit before and realize it is not the end of the world, That we need to do something just like we did for Acid rain and the Ozone layer but that all of the bullshit predictions that where made where nothing but bullshit. They where real and valid issues, we dealt with them and we did so in measured and moderate courses. But the radicals had us all dead multiple times over while we dealt with them with moderate action.

If you think the greenhouse gas problem is comparable to the acid rain or ozone problems then you fundamentally do not understand the science, and you as an engineer fundamentally do not understand what "orders of magnitude" are.

It is only from a position of wholesale ignorance of the scientific reality that you can make such a facile equation.

To put it in a simple analogy, you just said "those alarmists told me it was going to rain last week and it didn't, therefore this hurricane warning is bullshit i'm not evacuating".

I do understand what orders of magnitude is, I also understand that none of the orders of magnitude predictions have come to pass. If you cannot make accurate predictions, it's not science plain and simple. In less than a week there have been two articles on this site attributing their phenomena to global warming. Both subjects I am extremely knowledgeable on, the first being a claim that the climate exodus has begun in the the Florida Keys due to global warming. The article was a lie on it's face, I live there, people are leaving because there is an economic crisis in the Keys. I cited very specific evidence in that discussion as I literally hear people every day talking about it and why they are leaving. I talked to the guy this morning that owns the auto-shop 1 island down from me, he told me he had a contract on his commercial property and is getting out, he is in his 70's works alone and is getting too old for it. He cannot get help due to the affordable housing crisis and can sell his property and retire so he figures it's time. This is the reason and a reporter could have spent 5 minutes in the Keys and came to that conclusion, but the headline for the story was written and then the facts where put together to fit the foregone conclusion.

The second was this one which is also bad science. I drink with some of the worlds top scientist in the coral research area, I live on the same island, my daughter volunteers at their facility and I help with reforestation efforts in this area, when they do reforestation dives. in my other posts I clearly articulate the facts as to what is causing reef die off. I did not say global warming is not a problem, I said radicals are lying and trying to co-opt every bad thing that happens in nature to AGW, because they "want" it to be orders of magnitude. They did the same thing with acid rain and the ozone layer both where fixed by addressing and banning products (lead in gas, CFC's, refrigerants) not by silly proposals like cap and trade. Or suggesting that we are all going to have to just reduce our standard of living to save the world in 10 days.

A measured approach to migrating to Solar, Wind, Tidal and electric vehicles is how we will address global warming. Not creating a stock market for carbon. It's literally the stupidest idea ever and is advocated because it's a great way to skim money off the top by the elites and to limit entry into industry via regulations.

When they attribute these things to AGW, make predictions and they don't come true then they are engaging is agenda and advocacy and not science and it causes real issues. When these lies get exposed as they have, like with the CRU and the pause-buster papers, it gives ammo to the likes of Trump and the Koch Brothers to gut the EPA and roll back hard won environmental changes that where back by real science that made accurate predictions. the radicals insistence that AGW be tied to everything, gave us opening of public land to drilling and fracking. The radicals directly defeated the hard won battles fought by the moderates that won them. So you will forgive me when I see a statement that we the moderates enable the opposition, when it has been the radicals and their willingness to bend the facts that has enabled the deniers to throw the baby out with the bath water. People that mask advocacy and agendas as science, have no right to, they are stealing hard work and research to further their agenda. Which is unfair to the people that did the real work. AS their disinformation allows the properly done work to be discredited by showing the agenda, and then pandering to it, to discredit the real data.

Please don't use uppercase for emphasis. If you want to emphasize a word or phrase, put asterisks around it and it will get italicized.



People just love kicking down anything or anyone popular.

But just because that is an automatic human reaction, as you mention from some "I'm smart and know better" than other people, for some emotional high, that also applies to the extremists who push it hard on both ends with the same "I know better" motivations. Often at a much higher and frequent degree.

You could make a good argument that the moderates are often the lessers of evils and the most frequently right, just as long as we stay aware of their own weaknesses as motivation killers or overly compromising middle ground that can sometimes be the worse of the three generalized positions (sometimes doing nothing is better than something for the sake of appeasing the loudest voices, which one could argue is not true moderation).

Regardless these meta discussions only have so much value and are always a massive distraction.

At our core, we are socially uncomplicated. We exhibit swarm behavior and calibrate ourselves based on our nearest neighbors (or, in a more complicated way, how social media can be used to distort our views). This is how the Overton Window works, it's why there's a bias towards appearing as a moderate.

It's a good heuristic, it's just wrong in the case of our climate situation.

There will always be plenty of grey area when it comes to what we can practically do in response to climate change, even if we all did reach a common sense type consensus on how bad it currently is.

Especially when it comes down to local level policy for such a global issue.

This will always be a hard fight.

No, quite a lot of scientists have made such claims about coral reefs over time. Not all and some have refuted those claims too, so the media is certainly to blame for presenting a false consensus. But for example:


(original is paywalled)

Activist scientists and lobby groups have distorted surveys, maps and data to misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, ­according to the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt.

A former head of Greenpeace Canada famously turned on his old employers and started arguing that coral bleaching predictions related to climate change (ocean acidification, back then) were wrong:


Many papers on ocean acidification, said to be caused by rising man-made CO2 levels in the atmosphere, predict that it will result in the mass extinction of marine species that employ calcification, including corals, shellfish and many species of plankton, and that this, in turn, will result in the extinction of many other marine species.

It cites some examples:

Even scientists one might expect would be more moderate in their tone employ alarmist language. An example from the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution: The anthropogenic rise in atmospheric CO2 is driving fundamental and unprecedented changes in the chemistry of the oceans. … We argue that ocean conditions are already more extreme than those experienced by marine organisms and ecosystems for millions of years, emphasising the urgent need to adopt policies that drastically reduce CO2 emissions

So it's not really the case that scientists are pure-white victims of the press, here. Many scientists have made terrifying predictions about the health of the oceans and been happy to milk the resulting press coverage.

I don't know what to tell you. Wattsupwiththat is not a scientific website, it's a political website. It is a source of misinformation

You can just with your own two eyes at bleaching events in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Pacific, and Caribbean if you don't want to believe the scientific community.

You're cherry-picking counterexamples to make your case, which is not valid. Reality is bad. You are misreading the data. You are also conflating acidification with temperature change. Coral is going to die because of the heat well before aragonite and calcite dependent populations collapse because of pH changes.

Look, if you want to try and shoot the messenger, do so but do it properly. Otherwise you just look foolish.

The webpage I linked to on that site is not "politics". It's a copy of a paywalled Australian newspaper article discussing scientists who disagree with the supposed consensus - deeply relevant to the points at hand. If I'd been able to link to the original I would have done, and then you wouldn't be talking about Wattsupwiththat at all, but that wasn't possible so I had to link to a duplicate. If you believe that Australian newspaper is also a "politics website" that is a "source of misinformation" then justify that.

Or better, stop messenger shooting and tackle the actual arguments being made by the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Now, in your rush to condemn you've missed the point being made here, and missed it very badly indeed.

So I'll spell it out again. My "case" is nothing to do with corals or reefs. I don't care about corals or reefs, to put it bluntly. I care about the state of debate and its relation to science, or lack of it.

So reread and you'll see I was responding to this statement:

Yet again, someone falsely ascribes views to scientists that they never had. I keep track of this stuff, and I don't know what forecasts you are talking about.

That's a strong claim: that scientists are having views ascribed to them by the media that they never actually had (views of impending coral doom), and thus this discovery that the corals aren't dead after all shouldn't affect our perceived reliability of scientists.

The article in the Australian clearly shows that this view is false: an authority no less than the chairman of an Australian authority devoted to the Great Barrier Reef has said explicitly that "activist scientists" were working to "misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching". Clearly this is more complicated than scientists (all of them) being ascribed views they don't have by journalists.

First, The Australian is checking the referrer. If you google for "Activists ‘distorting’ reef data" you will be able to view the article. It should be the first or second result.

Second, the link you provided is about bad media coverage, and Wattsupwiththat presented it in a biased manner. The reality is one Australian agency thought 22% of the reef died in 2016, and another thought that 35% died. The person in charge of the first agency took issue with the head of the other agency's language and some (poor) unrelated media reporting that grossly overstated the extent of the die off. He was completely correct to take issue with the poor reporting. But there is no dispute that 1/4-1/3 of the reef bleached that year. If you are interested, here is the publication from the 2nd agency, with methodology: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-04660-w

Notably, the scientist you are talking about, Dr. Reichelt, didn't disagree with the consensus. Quoting him, "This is a frightening enough story with the facts, you don’t need to dress them up. We don’t want to be seen as saying there is no ­problem out there but we do want people to understand there is a lot of the reef that is unscathed"

If it's of interest to you, https://www.aims.gov.au/reef-monitoring/gbr-condition-summar... is a great resource, and will show bleaching events and recovery in the various regions of the Great Barrier Reef.

> If you believe that Australian newspaper is also a "politics website" that is a "source of misinformation" then justify that.

I don't want to jump in on the rest of your conversation but I saw this and thought I could chime in. The Australian is our only national broadsheet with a long history of fairly good reporting, good commentary from all sides of politics, but a definite conservative editorial slant. Unfortunately over the last few years its reporting in general and environmental reporting in particular, have veered away from good quality conservative aligned journalism towards the more typical Newscorp produce. On reef issues in particular Graham Lloyd is well known for cherry picking sources even if they have little expertise in the area or have already had their views discredited in the scientific community.

https://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/episodes/muddying-the-wate... https://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/episodes/great-barrier-gri...

So to answer that statement, the Australian is definitely a source of misinformation on environmental issues and if its not a politics website, it has a strong political agenda.

Like this?


Pardon me at this point for disbelieving in the ability to accurately model very complex systems.

And no, our technology has not suddenly achieved this magical ability in the last 30 years.

I had a turning point with climate change when I realized carbon emissions almost definitely won't transform Earth into a martian wasteland incapable of supporting life. The natural ecosystem adapts to ice ages, meteors, and other world altering events, and the planet without us would probably revert to something lush and diverse in a few millennia.

I still cannot explain why, but shifting the perspective in my mind from "Humanity is Earth's savior" to "Humanity is Earth's abusive consumer" was a humbling epiphany, and helped me learn to revere nature.

I find it sad that the only two perspective seem to be the extreme ones: humans are either destroyers or saviors.

How about the middle ground? We are part of nature and like any other animal we are trying to survive and make our life better. And it's not that other animals are perfectly respectful of nature either. Remove predators and herbivores will graze everything to the point of creating a wasteland and dying of starvation.

Nature, as a whole, is full of equilibrium, but single species try to maximize their survival in any way possible. We are not that different. We are only conscious of what we are doing.

It's not that nature is not tough on us. Everything out there is trying to kill us. Nature provides our sustaining, but it's also harsh, something we don't seem to appreciate from our lives in safer-than-normal cities, with always available food, heating, transportation, medicine.

I think the best perspective is aknowledging that we can have an adverse impact on the environment, and try to address it, istead of hating our own species as if it was a disease.

You're trying to rationalize it (understandably). There is a word for what we've done, and it's the Holocene mass extinction.

Locust are part of nature, as are elephants. Locusts eat everything and then all die. Elephants slowly reach the carrying capacity of their environment. There is also a word for that each type of reproduction strategy: locusts with exponential growth are r-strategists, elephants with logistic curve growth are K-strategists.

r/K is slightly dated and it's not completely binary, but there is truth to it. And humans, because of technology, have all the population dynamics of a r-strategist. We have the collective intelligence to observe this, but not to act on it. Even though they are part of nature, the life of r-strategists individuals is brutal and short. And a locust swarm can be highly detrimental to life in their area. Since we are ubiquitous and the world dominant species by far, we are very, very badly harming biodiversity and it only has the chance to get worse.

I'm glad you are finding peace, but you definitely have the possibility of dying from global warming direct (famine) or secondary effects (war) in what would otherwise be your lifetime, as does everyone under the age of 50. That is perfectly natural and in tune with nature. Nature is brutal and amoral.

I don't understand how you can begin with a somewhat rational argument about overpopulation and then jump to the completely irrational conclusion that for some reason global warming (as a root cause) will kill us, rather than overpopulation. Do you really think like that, or are you just trolling?

I'm not trolling, it's not like overpopulation directly will kill us. Overpopulation is relative to the carrying capacity of an ecosystem. Global warming will reduce the carrying capacity of the world vis a vis human population faster than we can adapt to it (migration, crop changes, etc). The end result is jump discontinuities in populations, which is really just a polite/scientific way of talking of really significant numbers of people starving to death or killing each other over limited food and water resources.

edit: and to be clear, I view this as a problem for us, the current generation, not a future problem. I am personally taking small but real steps to prepare for this, right now.

Malthusian insanity. Population will decline globally w/in 75 years. Advances in natural power generation will make it economical for humans to align electric consumption with natural resources. As usual, even HN'ers are temporally ego-centric. Hakuna Matata.

And yet, all the predictions of climate catastrophe of the last 50 years never came true. According to some, by now Great Britain should be underwater.

Will they never be true? No one knows, because predicting the future is not our best skill. They might well be someday. But the track record, for now, is dismal, which makes me thing they are more driven by ideology than by science.

Growing up in California in the '80s and '90s, I recall seeing maps showing how rising ocean levels would flood the Sacramento valley with ocean water and turn the California coastline into a chain of islands by 2010 or so.

One has to wonder for how long these alarmists will be able to get away with these doomsday predictions which continually fail to materialize before they go back to the basics; let's keep the water and air clean because we gotta drink and breathe that stuff. Maybe you can't get the big research bucks with arguments like that, but I think you'll get far better results in terms of actually changing human activity.

Can you link them? I suspect they where showing 2100’s, but you are recalling them as 2010’s.

We are a little above the 1990 IPCC predictions for sea level rise, but 1-2mm per year was never going to produce drastic changes in 30 years.

PS: It’s actually CO2 releases that are significantly below projections. Considering this was in many ways an intentional change, it’s hard to call old CO2 predictions wrong, just pessimistic.

> Can you link them?

I'm afraid I cannot provide links to original material from my childhood 25-30 years ago, no.

I do explicitly remember seeing predictions of this sort of doom which were well within my lifetime, though.

Some of the extremely dangerous sources of pollution actually get away with it due to the focus on CO2 and global warming, e.g. shipping - its CO2 emissions contribution is insignificant, but:

> Of total global air emissions, shipping accounts for 18 to 30 percent of the nitrogen oxide and 9% of the sulphur oxides.[2][28] Sulfur in the air creates acid rain which damages crops and buildings

Nobody thinks about this anymore when they buy their fancy new PV panels from China, or their organically grown tropical fruit.

I don't think you appreciate the relative risk from CO2 pollution (or really, warming in general which then brings CH4 and water vapor into the mix).

Marine shipping uses the dregs of refining: bunker fuel. The have absolutely enormous two-cycle engines that run on something in the neighborhood of tar and motor oil. It is an inefficient combustion with trash fuel. NO2 and SO2 is bad, but it's nowhere near the danger of global warming, and shipping is otherwise extremely efficient in terms of carbon intensity/kg/km cargo shipped.

Would you do a rough energy life cycle (back of envelope) on the energy expenditures of a shipping tanker full of solar PV cells (ie, building local factories, the cost of time until they are operating, cost of building up upstream supply chains, and then more prosaic PV vs baseline grid carbon intensity per kwh consumed?). I think you'd find there is some nuance in what is optimal.

Shipping produce vs local and seasonal is a big waste, agreed. All of that is refrigerated multi-modal, too, and ships are hardly the worst offenders in that logistic chain.

I think non-CO2 shipping pollution tends to get pulled out as a distraction device in these discussions, though I don't think that's why you're bringing it up.

> Would you do a rough energy life cycle (back of envelope) on the energy expenditures of a shipping tanker full of solar PV cells

This has been done already here in Central Europe and for the CO2 emissions alone, PV panels from China are worse than local hydro plants (~50g vs. ~20g CO2/KWh over their lifespan including production). Naturally, adding the other pollution caused by shipping makes it even less attractive.

> I think non-CO2 shipping pollution tends to pulled out a distraction device in these discussions, though I don't think that's why you're bringing it up.

On the contrary, it's grossly neglected and many of the direct negative effects of human actions on the environment we've seen in the past decades are from other causes than warming/CO2. CO2 gets so much attention because it's also a convenient way for many industries to distract from their impact on the environment. You can poison the water and soil or bury even nuclear waste underground, but as long as you buy some CO2 certificates, you're good.

Few things compare well to hydro, but we ran out of ideal river locations making it a meaningless comparison.

PS: Central Europe is also rather far north making local Solar less efficient, but that’s rather off topic.

I mean, you just kind of proved our point, here. You immediately started talking about how CO2 will cause warming, and so many people like me are just gonna tune out from there because we're so desensitized from all this warming false alarmism. I'm sorry, maybe there really is some merit to your words, but the boy has cried wolf too many times.

Do you have any arguments about how and why we should save the earth that don't involve warming? Let's try one of those.

I'm going to focus on the phrase "false alarmism".

It is super foreign to me, since I look at IPCC reports, live temp/precip reports, I look at meta discussions around why reports aren't lining up to observations... everything there is mind-numbingly terrible. You literally have mental health problems emerging in related fields, like PTSD. The more you know about this problem, the more and more terrifying and depressing it gets.

I don't know that you have an accurate and fair history of the science of global warming, or appreciate the degree of knowledge we have built up - particularly in the last 20 years, as the urgency of the situation has become clearer.

I used the analogy of a Ford Pinto (1970s tech) to a Tesla Model 3 (current tech) to drive home the gulf between the knowledge we had 50 years ago and what we have now.

I will remind you that Steve Jobs, when faced with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, chose alternative medicine and diet vs conventional medical treatment. I just think that anecdote is instructive.

Okay, perhaps you are seeing predictions that number X will increase by Y by year Z actually come true. I'm talking about the predictions that the Sacramento valley will flood, as I mentioned upthread, and various other doom-and-gloom predictions that clearly haven't come to be.

> You literally have mental health problems emerging in related fields, like PTSD.

The anti-vax movement shows us the danger of correlating things like global warming and PTSD. Do you have more evidence of causation than those people do?

Anyway, I'll ask again. Can you give an environmentalist argument that doesn't involve warming scares? I challenge you. One wouldn't think this would be that difficult.

"I'm talking about the predictions that the Sacramento valley will flood, as I mentioned upthread, and various other doom-and-gloom predictions that clearly haven't come to be."

What prediction? Who said this? When? You're entire reference upthread for this is "I saw a map back in the 80s". Without knowing who drew that map and why, we can't really know what to make of it, can we? For all we know it was made as a satire of global warming predictions, or was designed by a fringe group with limited understanding of the subject matter, or you're making it up to make a point. Unless you can find an example of actual scientists (and not just one, but a group of them) predicting inundation of the Sacramento valley then you have no case for claiming 'alarmism' in that regard.

And besides that, even if alarmism were an issue, that doesn't mean that there isn't a serious issue underlying it. You need to look at what the actual science predicts, not just the people who glom on to climate change as a cause célèbre, and you need to match those predictions to the outcome. The outcome of that comparison might surprise you.

For an analogy, if Bob told you that eating a single milligram of arsenic were to instantly kill you, he would be wrong and would be exaggerating its real effects, but that would not mean that arsenic is somehow not poisonous or that you can ignore its poisonous effects. People can and do die of arsenic poisoning.

you're getting confused by sensationalist reporting overblowing the short-term impact of our climate catastrophe.

the scientific predictions were always pretty conservative and the only thing they were off about was the time... as they alway thought we'd take longer to get to where we are now.

But yeah, you won't see the effect in your day-to-day life as an american nor european until its way too late to do anything anymore. but hey, most of us will experience it in a few years, so stay tuned until after 2050 i guess. though i'd wager we'll still discuss if we have impacted earth at that point. there is just too much money to make in denying it.

> all the predictions of climate catastrophe of the last 50 years never came true

What predictions? The predictions about ozone layer depletion and how to address it successfully? Those were accurate.

Predictions about warming and sea level rise? Those are accurate.

> According to some


Don't use weasel words[1] like "all the predictions" and "according to some"

You clearly have specific issues in mind, so why don't you let us know what they are so we can address them, and not have to rely on your interpretation of "all the predictions" and whoever "some" of these people are.

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

> Predictions about warming and sea level rise? Those are accurate.

Which ones? Satellite data projections, NOAA, IPCC estimates and wacko reporter/activists all say very different things. Looneys regularly say crazy things, like the Marshall Islands[1] won't be there any more. Al Gore used the words "20 feet" in his wacky documentary; that's certainly not right.

Intelligent people, with Ph.D.s in numerate sciences even, have exhibited horror when I bought a condo a kilometer from a shore (63 meters above sea level mind you; I like hills and ocean views); they really think I'll drown in my old age! The disinfo out there being put out by activists is at least as bad as that put out by oil companies or whatever. This isn't helpful. And the error bars on the scientific consensus don't inspire a lot of confidence (or sufficient horror, apparently) either.

People on here regularly confound weather (aka hurricanes and such, and what they experienced when they went to the beach), which always happens, and which doesn't even jibe with climatological predictions, with climate. Also political/military problems such as the ongoing nonsense in the middle east are confounded with "climate refugees" which is also not helpful.

The reason stuff like the ozone worked out reasonably well from a political point of view, and was eventually more or less mitigated is there weren't crazy people exaggerating things.

[1] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/11/risin...

"Satellite data projections" that isn't a thing.

"People on here regularly confound weather" no they don't.

"The reason stuff like the ozone worked out reasonably well from a political point of view, and was eventually more or less mitigated is there weren't crazy people exaggerating things" There were, but they were the industry lobbyists against CFC regulation (https://www.wunderground.com/resources/climate/ozone_skeptic...)

> "People on here regularly confound weather" no they don't.

Here is an example of you confounding weather with climate:


Not an isolated incident.

Also acid rains and their mitigation.

Thou foul hypocrite and deceiver. I won't throw Wikipedia links at you for those terms, because you obviously know how to (ab)use it.

We've banned this account for obvious reasons. Could you please not create accounts to break HN's guidelines with? It's not hard to use the site as intended, if you want to, and it's in your interest to do that, since breaking down the threads with comments like this will just lead it to informational heat death.


> all the predictions .. According to some ..

I'm sure that all types of predictions have been made, including very bad ones. I'm not aware of something of the scale of the GIEC studying climate change 50 years ago. You are comparing hypothetical past predictions (when? from whom?) with a scientific effort of unprecedented scale.

> predicting the future is not our best skill

It depends. We can predict many future events very accurately.

> they are more driven by ideology than by science

I think that not listening the scientific consensus is ideological. I have no reason to believe that the GIEC predictions are less valid than those of some random dude on the internet.

Predicting some eventual outcome isn't quite as difficult as predicting its precise timing. This is common knowledge regarding market bubbles, but really applies to more than just economic questions.

We can't just shrug off past predictions because they failed to get the timing right when the trends they foresaw are clearly observed, just not quite as strong as predicted. The UK is still more united than underwater, but the poles are melting nonetheless.

I think you have made a couple of errors.

First, how many satellites did we have 50 years ago? How many advancements have there been in sensors over that time? How much has compute capacity increased? Our level of data and observation has increased - trying not to exaggerate - a million-fold. With that, the algorithms and models have improved, too. It's like comparing a Pinto to a Tesla.

Second, 50 year old forecasts have held up remarkably well. I will just point to Exxon's forecasts, under "Select ExxonMobil documents": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExxonMobil_climate_change_cont... They actually did a fair job in the 1970s and 80s of modeling the warming we've seen just based on first principals of measured CO2 greenhouse effects and atmospheric concentrations.

Third, we are actually quite good at predicting the future! We can predict where a planet will be in a million years. It's basic Dunning-Kruger bias to think these professional trained scientist building these models don't understand nonlinear systems maths and the ways these systems diverge, couple, and otherwise interact.

Fourth, "According to some" is the source of so many flawed conclusions. According to some, the world is flat. According to some, reality is based on the theory of the Time Cube. You can't go around quoting cranks to attack non-cranks. I don't know who or what you are talking about, but I have a very hard time believing a qualified individual thought GB would be under water in 2020 in 1970. And even if they did, times change and we know much more now.

I hate to be out ahead of the mass psychology of awareness of the magnitude and criticality of climate change. It is very hard to digest how bad things are. This is data driven, though.

Are you able to cite these predictions?

> I don't understand how you can begin with a somewhat rational argument about overpopulation and then jump to the completely irrational conclusion that for some reason global warming (as a root cause) will kill us, rather than overpopulation.

Global warming is almost certainly already killing us. If a hurricane, flooding, heat waves, or drought is more severe than normal due to climate change, that means people are dying due to climate change.

In the decades to come, droughts, crop failures, and fishery collapses means people will starve. Extreme weather and sea level rise will create climate refugees. In unstable parts of the world, climate change-induced stressors will cause armed conflict and probable massacres. It also means previously stable parts of the world will become unstable.

All of those things means lots of dead people within the lifetimes of people alive today. Maybe we'll be able to change course and lessen the impact of climate change, but if we don't succeed the outlook is grim.

We're gardeners, and the whole earth is our garden. We aren't separate from the environment, it is our garden to manage, and to decide how beautiful or barren we want it to be. Every landscape on earth has been indelibly shaped by human beings, often before we were even aware of "humanity" or "the earth" as a concept in total. Some think even the amazon may have been in large part planted by us. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/pristine-untou...

There is no pristine ideal of the environment to return to, or to preserve. But our impact is so large now that we can no longer afford to have it all be accidental. We have to be very deliberate now about how we want the earth to be.

Nature, as a whole, is full of equilibrium, but single species try to maximize their survival in any way possible. We are not that different. We are only conscious of what we are doing.

Someone fucking up the environment to garner an extra $100K or two on that annual bonus isn't doing it for survival. Wolves aren't taking down entire herds of deer they'll never eat so that they can say they have more rotting deer meat than the other wolf packs. Domestic house cats are the only animals that I can think of that demonstrate such behavior, with the modifier "domestic" being emphasised; i. e., we made them like us. (Yeah, that last bit is a stretch.)

I'm sure there exist other species that hoard, just because...well, we can't be the only ones. But we're the ones with the mechanized means to do at destructive scale.

You are wrong, there have been plenty observation of pointless killing across multiple other species. Look up surplus killing. We only differ in that we are far more effective compared to other animals.

In addition, we've also shown to be capable of far more empathy towards others of our own race and others, compared to any other species out there.

The simple truth is that if any other species had the destructive potential that we have, they would simply exterminate themselves without ever questioning their actions. So don't be so damn vindictive of humans when comparing us to animals.

Squirrels and birds seem to have a selected desire to horde nuts in a similar way to people hoarding extra resources for lean times. Cache Spacing or having various hordes of food spaced around in hidden locations seems like a rough analogy for having various Swiss bank accounts and the like. Ravens in particular are clever and will deceive potential raiders by moving caches, and raiders will try and appear disinterested.

As an aside cats are slightly odd for domestic animals as they're arguably semi-domesticated versus dogs or farm animals. African Wildcats look and act a lot like house cats in videos and are genetically similar, which I think is part of what makes them fun as pets.



Most squirrels are scatter hoarders: almost everyone's seen a squirrel bury a nut in a lawn. They bury their nuts all over their territory and remember the locations and retrieve them later.

What you might not know, is that in old growth oak forests, most trees were accidentally planted by squirrels.

The acorns that they forgot and didn't retrieve, sprouted and grew into oak trees.

So the analogy of a squirrel as ruthless acquisitor is not quite apt, because their manner of caching their hoard actually helps to plant the next generation of trees.

(Acorns do not sprout as well when the just fall to the ground.)

> Someone fucking up the environment to garner an extra $100K or two on that annual bonus

Nobody gets paid just to fuck up the environment. They get paid to increase sales or whatever and the consumers are buying their shit to help them survive in one form or another.

> Nature, as a whole, is full of equilibrium, but single species try to maximize their survival in any way possible. We are not that different.

except we don’t really just maximize our survival. if we did or had the capacity to, we would do things much differently. instead we go well beyond just simply trying to survive. and yes, other ecosystems’ balance can be upset but that is usually due to human influence in the first place. we are different in our behavior.

Maximizing survival goes beyond "simply just trying to survive"

What we are trying to do is accomplish our goals we have for our short lifetime. We are certainly not the only species in the world who does things for pleasure that aren't neccessary for our survival.

> but that is usually due to human influence in the first place

That all depends on perspective. If you look at a big enough time frame- humans can be considered almost irrelevant.

> We are certainly not the only species in the world who does things for pleasure that aren't neccessary for our survival.

no, we’re not, but we are the only ones who so to the detriment of entire (and numerous) species and ecosystems. for example, we are starving and poisoning after we decimated and traumatized the population decades ago of southern resident orcas. however, we have abstracted our survival and pleasure mechanisms so much that we see this and other such scenarios as an inevitable or unavoidable byproducts.

> That all depends on perspective. If you look at a big enough time frame- humans can be considered almost irrelevant.

that’s a rather silly statement. what is your point? of course if you “zoom” out far enough, nearly everything becomes irrelevant. but with any timescale important to species and ecosystems, humans are certainly relevant and completely detrimental.

> no, we’re not, but we are the only ones who so to the detriment of entire (and numerous) species and ecosystems

That’s a pretty extraordinary claim. Have you considered that every time this happens (e.g. a new predator crossing a new land bridge) it completely wipes out entire species?

if it's extraordinary, can you provide evidence otherwise? can you provide examples of any other species that has wiped out entire species, multitudes of species, and at increasing rates? i didn't list any because i don't know of any.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis[1] has. It has wiped out dozens of species of frogs and affects about 30% of amphibians world wide.

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

that's a rather specific example that i personally don't think is relevant to the discussion. for one, fungi are not even animals. and it's a very specific disease tied to a certain class of species. humans have affected a greater number of species across all categories and are doing so at an increasing rate. there is no other event in history like this that was caused by a single animal species, that i know of.

although, i suppose if people want to make the comparison that humanity is as mindless as a fungus that causes disease, then by all means.

> i suppose if people want to make the comparison that humanity is as mindless as a fungus that causes disease, then by all means.

It's clear that that's not his point. It's hard to take people seriously who don't argue in good faith.

Humans have unsafe defaults.

Years ago I began meditating. I’m by no means an expert, nor would I identify as “religious”. But any deep meditation can result the sensation of loss of self. Or a change in perspective, in seeing the impermanence of things. The piece that only recently became clear to me, was the role of “compassion” in all of this.

To me, yes, the universe in a sense goes on no matter what we do to the planet. Everything is impermanent. But is our current path the most compassionate one for all the various forms of life on earth? I don’t think it is.

Perhaps some will find this too “out there” for a HN conversation. But I think it’s relevant when we consider the impermanence of things, and the... morality of our actions, for lack of a better word — it’s important we consider what the most compassionate path is we can take as a species.

Morality and compassion are purely subjective concepts. There is no natural importance in either. The universe exists independent of your subjective conception of morality and compassion.

Yes, but the bigger question I think is if the majority of humans on earth will adapt and also "how well". A lot of environmentalists are misled by the promise to save endangered species: we won't.

But can we save humanity from destroying our own habitats? That's why environmental measures for cleaner oceans, air, and living conditions matter. It's for us, and the other dying inhabitants of earth will benefit from this too.

Edit: Okay, yes we've saved endangered species before. When I was growing up, Brown Pelicans were endangered along California's coast and we turned that around. But we won't save all the frogs, and we didn't save the northern white rhino. That's my point.

I don't think anything can speak favorably about our impact on endangered species...


That first graph sure is dramatic....

The vast majority of that first graph happened more than 1000 to 10000 years ago. Attention to endangered species seems to have only started 50 to 100 years ago.

But you are right that our impact on endangered species is poor; only 28 species have recovered out of ~2000 listed in the US (according to the Wikipedia page for the Endangered Species Act of 1973).

> I had a turning point with climate change when I realized carbon emissions almost definitely won't transform Earth into a martian wasteland incapable of supporting life. The natural ecosystem adapts to ice ages, meteors, and other world altering events, and the planet without us would probably revert to something lush and diverse in a few millennia.

No. Depending on how bad warming gets, it will take on the order of millions of years for biodiversity to recover. The worst mass extinction was the Permian-Triassic where something like 95% of aquatic species and over 75% of terrestrial species went extinct. That took a long, long time to recover from.

You are correct that life will probably go on without us. But what I think a lot of people fail to realize is that we're looking at the collapse of human civilization somewhere on the horizon, and human extinction after that if we don't change course.

> collapse of human civilization somewhere on the horizon, and human extinction after that if we don't change course

From what I have read, this is not true. Some humans will potentially suffer, but we are nowhere near mass extinctions. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming

"By 2050, between 350 million and 601 million people [in Africa] are projected to experience increased water stress due to climate change"[1]

"Climate change is projected to decrease freshwater availability in central, south, east and southeast Asia, particularly in large river basins. With population growth and increasing demand from higher standards of living, this decrease could adversely affect more than a billion people by the 2050s."[2]

I understand this may not affect you personally. But don't just dismiss it as "some humans will potentially suffer". Billions will suffer, most of whom (being from developing countries) aren't at all responsible for the catastrophe that will befall them.

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_effects_of_global_w...

2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_effects_of_global_w...

We are already in the middle of a mass extinction caused by human activity. Even in the wikipedia article you linked it talks about extinctions of 40% of species if we get to 3 degrees of warming.

There is high variance in estimates about loss of biodiversity, but if you start looking at what happens to plants and animals with climate shifts there is a tremendous and almost unfathomable risk there. Many species depend on certain temperature ranges for key parts of their life cycle. Fruits don't develop in the temperature is too hot or too cold. Many animals that depend on that fruit, end up starving if those fruits don't develop. Then there's the fact that any organism can only take but so much heat. In heatwaves there's a temperature beyond which is lethal for many organisms. And if heatwaves arrive during breeding season, the young of many animals will be particularly hard hit.

When you get to the oceans, increased acidity due to carbon absorption will lead to fisheries collapse and the extinction of corals. Ocean acidification will prevent many forms of plankton from forming their shells, which undercuts many open ocean ecocystems. Something like a billion people depend on fish as their primary protein source.

As for humanity, people are really focused on where climate will be in 2100. But what happens in 2200, 2300, 2400 and on if we don't get things under control? CO2 can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years. So if humanity doesn't curtail emissions and temperatures rise by 3 or 4 degrees, it's going to stay at least that hot for millenia. But even worse, all the methane that will get released by thawing permaforst will accelerate warming even beyond that. Melted glaciers and sea ice means less sunlight will be reflected back into space, which will cause even more warming.

You can't "revert to something lush and diverse in a few millennia" when species go extinct, you need something more along a geological timescale to undo that damage. Previous extinction events have taken dozens of millions of years to reach a similar level of biodiversity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phanerozoic_biodiversity_...

I think this sort of thinking represents a sort of defeatism that frees the viewer from having to take any action to make things better (or less worse). Rebecca Solnit has a great quote on this about hope:

"Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes — you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone."

Although the worst of the doomsday predictions are not scientific, it doesn't exactly mean we can continue to ignore carbon emissions.

Of course not. I'd think/hope most of us here are able to consider multiple, separate thoughts over something as complex as this.

We also cannot ignore the scientific predictions as well.

A prediction that fails to materialize is not a scientific one.

Well, evolution is slightly slower than that. Try few hundred millenia.

Evolution is not slow and steady. If the conditions are right it can take hold very quickly. Most of evolutionary history is equilibirium with small bursts of rapid change when the environment shifts significantly.

It didn't take us a few hundred millenia to turn grey wolves into chihuahuas, and with the right stimulus nature could do it too.

How short do you think those "short bursts of rapid change" are?

Even the wikipedia article has an section on how common your misconception is:


I didn't say they couldn't be thousands of years, but suggesting hundreds of millenia ignores many observed events that have taken place on a much, much shorter time scale. The numbers referenced in the wikipedia article aren't even in their supposed citation, which is definitely not written by a supporter of the theory.

I choose grey wolves into chihuahuas because it's an example of a complex mammal undergoing significant genetic change over a much shorter time period than 100ky. For less complex animals there are even more dramatic examples.


I'm talking about evolution of different species, a much more significant change than variation within a species. Despite morphological and behavioral differences, wolves and dogs are still the same species. It took millions of years for fungi to evolve into decomposing wood.

There is disagreement about the evolution of those fungi. It does not appear to be as cut and dry as often presented.


Evolution of new species may not be necessary to survive all environmental changes, and not all speciations are similar in terms of genetic difference. Coyotes can still breed with wolves and dogs.

While it makes no physical sense whatsoever, I like to see climate change as earth trying to raise its body temperature to get rid of an infection.

If humanity is the disease, will it kill the body or leave both alive in symbiosis ?

Turn your causal arrow around and it makes more sense. m

If the Earth is middle-aged, we are the equivalent of a stomach ache it got from eating something expired for breakfast

I don't know why but your view and the gp commenter's view makes me more angry even than the deliberate liars on the other side of the climate change. It reduces us all to passive pawns in something beyond our control. It is not, and we are not. Human beings have all the technical ability to be the dominant species on Earth until the Sun transitions to a red giant - billions of years. Then we probably have what it takes to colonize within the solar system. We have that level of intelligence and capability. People just need to have some personal responsibility.

Your view seems to be deeply human-centric, while the views you criticize are not. I wonder if this mismatch is the source of your anger.

Climate deniers/liars primarily disregard the enviroment in favor of human impacts, which is shared among many threads of climate activism as well.

I'm angry because I have visibility into this area and have kids, honestly. I can't afford to be philosophical about it.

For all your talk of the impacts of overpopulation... the reason for your belief system is that you have kids?

It seems to me we can't afford to not think philosophically about it.

I am with you, we are somewhat of an infection, but we have the technical ability not to be one. If we have the social ability is another question.

This is beautifully shown in a webcomic from some years back http://humoncomics.com/mother-gaia

This summarizes what I was trying to say so brilliantly well, I can only assume I saw this at some point, forgot it, and stole the general message

When I take a step back and consider everything, I'd say there's a solid resemblance to an aggressive form of viral infection as well, in respect to planetary timescale.

You could day the same of the first life that arose in the seas.

The flora of the planet are a planetary scale fungal infection.

It seems to me that the vast amount of water on Earth acts as an insulator against extreme temperature changes. I imagine that most of the issues surrounding climate change are going to be centered around us having to adapt to the new normal - costal cities flooded, mass migration across political boundaries, shifts in arability of land areas affecting food production, etc.

> I had a turning point with climate change when I realized carbon emissions almost definitely won't transform Earth into a martian wasteland incapable of supporting life.

Any good source for this? I must admit I don't know enough to know whether I should be terrified of a runaway green house effect or not.

I mean, humans adapt too. A much larger percentage of us used to live on permanent glaciers.

I have the exact same feeling. I used to feel concerned and sad about the destruction of the environment. It takes place at such a rapid pace that we can witness it in our lifetime. There is something depressing about seeing things changing for the worse in a seemingly irreversible manner.

The reality is that this is just very temporary. The next generations of humans won't have it as easy as those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world today. But it's not like the human fate has ever been really appealing. The depressing thought is our own mortality.

That being said, I think it will take more than a few millennia to undo to the recent changes. For one things, exctinct species will not reappear so fast.

> The next generations of humans won't have it as easy as those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world today.

Do you really think so? We continue to make great strides in improving availability of food and clean water and reducing disease and war across the world. Yes, perhaps in ten generations, and for whatever reasons, humanity will be living in a climate 1 degree warmer than what we have adapted to today, but they will be capable of their own adaptation. They will look back at the quality of our lives the same way we look back at the quality of life ten generations before us.

> Do you really think so?

I do. I recommend "The Limits to growths"[1]. As much as I'd like to, I find it hard not to be convinced by their simulations. Pollution is increasing globally, non-renewable resources are getting depleted, renewable resources are consumed faster than they renew. All of this happens at an exponential pace, it can't last forever. Climate change is just a symptom. The whole system is bound to collapse somehow. It just can be otherwise for very fundamental reasons. We live in a unique time of fast growth, it seems natural to think that things will go on just like they've be doing in our lifetime, but they can't.

> They will look back at the quality of our lives the same way we look back at the quality of life ten generations before us.

Why would that be the case?

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


"In 2016, a report published by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth concluded that "there is unsettling evidence that society is still following the 'standard run' of the original study – in which overshoot leads to an eventual collapse of production and living standards".[45] The report also points out that some issues not fully addressed in the original 1972 report, such as climate change, present additional challenges for human development."

Also Al Bartlett: "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."





Previously mentioned:


>The next generations of humans won't have it as easy as those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world today

I find it an odd perspective to be both deterministic without realizing the cause of "not having it as easy", while at the same time being provably claiming it is luck to live in the developed world. This is not meant as a personal think, but it is a very schizophrenic or psychotic, inherently detached and disconnected perspective.

The developed world is directly and provably a function of the cultures, values, people, and genetics of the particular group that produced its outcomes; built, iterated, and compounded advancements over many generations, which they passed on from generation to generation to the reborn embodiment of themselves that their children represented. Of course all of that has been utterly dismembered and deconstructed and been disassembled to possibly a mortal degree now, but luck had absolutely nothing to do with any of that; it was all deliberate and conscientious string of centuries and millennia old choices … all now being ruined by people who have been psychologically abused into self-destructive submission.

On a related note, the only reason that "humans won't have it as easy" anymore, is solely due to both the above described psychological abuse that has triggered a self-destructive suicide that will end up destroying thousands of years of human progress, but the very reason people will not have it as good as in the past, is that they have been conned into destroying themselves and continuously making poor decisions that only compound the self-harming spiral.

It is easy to make the mistake to claim that people are far better off today, but reality is that regardless of inevitable improvements that were within the outer bounds of the trajectory, the measure of how well a society is doing, has nothing to do with a quantitative temporal change ratio, but rather with the state of qualities of society, culture, family, relationships, community, and engagement with each; which are ALL majorly rotten and damaged, as essentially every single measure shows.

All of that of course will only get worse, because as yet another team of researchers just showed out of a Danish university, that ALL … not some, not many, not most, but all research into social cohesion and trust shows that they are majorly damaged through multiculturalism and diversity; the very tyrannical imposition that is singularly being forced on only the white people of the developed world which leads to things like the subsequent generation being worse off than the previous.

You know, reality is that in the past of western culture, actually not even that long ago, it was actually the now Christianity that has now been conditioned through pavlovian propaganda to be hated by probably most here, which provided people with a sense of foundation or guide rail so as to not get lost in the cavernous void that atheism leaves behind, which most humans are simply not strong or powerful enough to deal with. No Christian western white person was depressed into suicide before they started abandoning Christianity and the cardinal direction it provides in life.

> I realized carbon emissions almost definitely won't transform Earth into a martian wasteland incapable of supporting life

Why are you so sure about that? This is exactly what happened to Venus.

"methane emissions almost definitely will transform Earth into a Venusian wasteland incapable of supporting life"

But probably not really: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrate_gun_hypothesis

I feel similarly. But I find that giving an inch means losing a mile. It is a terrible truth and it can make the argument for being better citizens of Earth feel hopeless at times.

We have found the Hegelian

> I am not qualified to answer that.

God I wish more people could admit that. Things would be much more sane then. For one, anti-vaxers would be far fewer

Back to the subject, note that this was limited to some colonies and even there it will not be able to grow to any significant size.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21213955 and marked it off-topic.

But what if I'm not qualified to admit that?

Unfortunately, I'm not qualified to answer that.


If it weren't for the anti-vaxers I wouldn't have to become qualified: I'd just do what my doctor said. Instead I now need to become qualified so I can argue with all these idiots trying to spread diseased that could kill my kids before they are old enough to vaccinated. I have better things to do that learn about medical issues, but I've been forced to become semi-qualified.

Now if I just knew of an effective way to argue with anti-vax idiots...

You don't need to argue with them, vax your kids and let the anti's die of disease that you and your family are immune to. It is their choice and their freedom of choice. The info is out there if they choose to ignore it, it is their own peril. The part I find interesting is that they try to get other people to become anti-vaxers, when they are by effect more protected by heard immunity when the pool of none vaccinated is smaller.

This does not work. Vaccinations aren't just for those being vaccinated, they're also for people like my mother and sister who are immuno-compromised and can't risk being exposed by some unvaccinated kid whose mom was scared they'd develop autism.

That's not how herd immunity works.

That doesn't work. Many vaccines are not effective if given at younger than 18 months so they are not given at all. Since I have another kid on the way there is a large window where my kid isn't protected unless everybody else is vaccinated and thus not spreading disease. Herd immunity works only if the herd is immune.

The planet is going to be fine. It will still be here a billion years from now.

We will be gone just as the dinosaurs before us.

The universe cares about our fate just as much as we care about some random star in the night sky, and frankly, if we're collectively going to remain as self-defeating as we are, I don't care about our fate either.

I just hope I get to respawn somewhere else.

No, in a few billion years, the planet will be engulfed by the enlarged, dying sun. https://phys.org/news/2016-05-earth-survive-sun-red-giant.ht...

"This will last for another 4.5 – 5.5 billion years" right in TFA..and I did mean A billion :)


The article says the corals are regrowing in the period between heat waves, not that the coral reefs will survive global warming - or that temperatures are improving.

Go ahead and tell Greta. Or tell the people who keep grasping by their fingernails for tiny instances where global warming isn’t as bad as it could be, they’re the ones who need it.

Unfortunately this doesn't do anything for the people who believe that global warming is a geoengineered conspiracy, rather than the result of carbon emissions by industry.

They should learn about Hanlon's Razor.

Anyway, the denialism movement could be described as a socialengineered conspiracy, and that part is pure malice.

Sadly it's the left-wing hippie version of the climate change denialism.

Some choice quotes, in case you weren't aware of this weird and fascinating movement, which descended from Chemtrails-ism, demonstrating the truly bizarre cognitive dissonance involved:

- "The earth is way too big for industry to affect the climate"

- "The government has much more advanced technology than they will ever admit"

- "There is no consensus among climate scientists that carbon can cause climate change"

- "The media is lying to you, only a small vocal minority of climate scientists thinks that climate change is due to carbon emissions"

- "This guy on Youtube is a climate scientist and he says HAARP can modify the weather! Why should I trust you and not a climate scientist? Why would this person lie?"

The funny thing is that these people are typically hard-core environmentalists.

Interesting wave of downvotes. Care to explain?

Looks like typical far left “replace religion with climate science” and then attack things like Capitalism while we’re at it.

Hmm. That's interesting.

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