Honest Question: Why is there seemingly such little interest in what very well could be a huge threat to the survival of humanity?
I asked a similar question here - and it got 0 comments!
Furthermore, most of us here agree that it's happening and don't argue much about the root causes. All of that adds up to lack of discussion. Can't do much about it. Have had little luck influencing those that can. There's little for amateurs to discuss regarding the underlying science. It's sometimes cathartic to publicly pronounce one's feelings of fear & loathing in threads like this, but that also doesn't lead to good conversation.
And so we end up talking about silly things like flying taxis because that lets us avoid the soul-crushing doom for another hour.
Really from Western consumers if you look at who the vast majority of those factory products go to. The US used to be just as bad a polluter until it became easy for US companies to move to a country with fewer regulations.
I don't bother debating or talking about the climate anymore.
It's likely a defeatist attitude, but... I can't find a way to shake it.
I have lived through :
- The end of the cold war, we were all going to die a horrible death, all at once.
- Acid rain, all forests would die and consequently we would die too or have a terrible planet
- The hole in the ozone layer, we would all get skin cancer ( I can't remember if we would die )
- Tchernobyl with elevated radiation stretching into Europe. Could not eat apricot-jam and damn I love apricot-jam
Furthermore, I have studied Computer Science, which was basically 50% math. I have worked with people developing physical models, advanced computing and simulations are freaking hard.
In my time, the hockey-stick would be an indication there is something wrong with the model ( instability ). "Nature does not behave this way"
The earth is getting greener and yields are up, partly because of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.
It is completely unclear if "climate change" is either good or bad.
The sea level has been rising for thousands and thousand of years : about 6-8k years ago, I would be able to walk to the UK ( from NL ).
I'm not really sure what your point is. That we don't have to worry about global warming because countries are going to work together to stop it? I wish I had your optimism.
> In my time, the hockey-stick would be an indication there is something wrong with the model ( instability ). "Nature does not behave this way"
But the popularly known "hockey stick" graph isn't a model prediction, it's a reconstruction of past and current temperatures. "Nature is currently behaving this way"... And as you point out, that's an indication that there's something wrong -- instability.
In technical discussions on HN, people are allowed to bring up contrarian opinions and ideas.
In highly-politicized issues, people tend to line up on sides, and downvote accordingly.
There are legitimate scientists who think climate is a potentially serious problem, like many others, but neither a crisis nor an emergency. It's hard for them to get heard.
For example, the Pacific Islands will face rising tides along their whole coastline, while simultaneously facing extreme weather events and agricultural disruption. What's your solution for an entire country of people simultaneously trying to immigrate elsewhere?
"Since 1994, the islanders of the seven atolls, lying only 1.2 metres above sea level, have already lost about 50 per cent of their land. Traditional food sources have become scarce, regularly placing the islanders in situations of near famine. The communities also face severe water shortages due to prolonged droughts and sea-level rises that affect their freshwater supply." 
But how is this "many people will die"? Have people already died? Are they dying by the 100ths? Or the thousands?
I guess not. And they will migrate away.
If you're not a subject matter expert, I personally would prefer you not comment at all.
It's much more pleasant to read discussion from people that know what they're talking about rather than people offering their opinions because they think that other people want to read them.
This is primarily a technology site, so it's not surprising when you have popular articles in other subjects with few comments.
People can find something interesting without having the need to say something.
This is silly. Subject matter experts in adjacent or even irrelevant fields often have a lot to add to discussions. HN would be really boring if only only 'subject matter experts' chimed in discussions.
The US's impact on the climate is huge, an order of magnitude higher than any European country and more than twice per capita.
Maybe that makes it a Taboo subject even more than elsewhere ?
I think it’s hard to know what to do as a software engineer which is what most of hacker news readers are.
The most we can really do right now is live as sustainable as possible and lead sustainable lives.
What is kind of sad is many of us are chasing higher comp all the time and workin at companies whose missions we really don't align with, when sustainable lifestyles probably require much less than we think we need.
Look at posts on Tesla, nuclear energy, battery prices, nuclear fusion, all of these fancy subjects: they're much more interesting to HN.
And, of course, I wager most HN commenters would agree there is a crisis -- do they need further evidence of that fact? They want to focus on the solutions, not the latest statistics of how bad the issue is.
Sure, it's not as many upvotes/comments as compared to when you search "Apple" or "Microsoft" - but I feel like climate change + other important issues (like privacy) are pretty well upvoted/commented on.
Could there/should there be even _more_ traction? Probably. But IMO it's unfair to say:
> Articles about Climate Change seem to get very few comments on Hacker News
Even "climate debate" has lost its appeal for me. The theater is on fire and we don't even know if there's an exit. I don't have the energy to argue with those saying the smell of smoke is entirely in our imagination.
If we want to get serious, it's time to metaphorically leave behind who's not on board, but then there's not much to debate any more.
The two major political parties in the United States are arguing over the validity of the claims. Even if you wanted to have a technical discussion, the average HN reader will not be able to put aside their political party's beliefs in order to actually evaluate claims made by individual scientists.
But e.g. as much as I try to avoid single use plastic, my limited useage is not going to do much vs just banning / heavily taxing them.
So my question was more : what can I do to actually make the lines move.
Basically I said put pressure on your politician. As an individual you can't do much, a politician is the person to make things happen - it's their job! - so pressure them.
I'm currently doing this to my own (in the UK). They seem to be struggling rather pitifully to understand the difference in priorities between Brexit, and a Catastrophe of Human Making aka climate change. Well, FWIW I'll keep pressuring them.
Or nothing at all. Whichever suits.
The cost of doing nothing is that there will still be a high body count.
Look at the solutions proposed: more forest land. Yes, we need more forest land, we need to save what forests we can, but growing new forests to a venerable age takes time, and I’m not convinced we can do so in a sustainable manner at scale given our preponderance to farm mono cultures which will be susceptible to disease before any of their benefits can even be realized.
There’s the existing forests, but it turns out the nations that own those forests, because national borders and all that, would really like to develop that land. Brazil has outright rejected foreign intervention in their latest elections by political, economic, and diplomatic means. So do you want to be the one to suggest we invade Brazil and hold them in economic subjugation at literal gunpoint?
And then there’s the eugenics program that they don’t want to call eugenics, but ultimately it is a eugenics program. Getting people to have fewer babies is a good way to reduce the population, but the problem is poorer countries are going to continue to have more children because it turns out, having that extra household labor is really helpful. Then you get problems like Shinzo Abe all but begging his nation’s people to get freaky and have more babies, or the massive sex imbalance between the PRC and India where there are far more males than females, and there will soon be tens of millions of young adult men with absolutely no chance of having a wife or having their own families.
The truth is, we don’t know what to do. Even if we think we do, we don’t know how to go about it. Even if we make a plan and execute it, we will still be left with a boatload of other problems.
11,000 scientists can sign a letter that we need to do something, but they’re scientists. They’re not politicians. They’re not engineers. They’re not soldiers. They’re not farmers. They’re not living with the reality of what they are proposing, nor are they making an effective case because they don’t have a good forum with which to do so.
Here’s what you and I can do though: we can go about our lives until we die, possibly by an environmental catastrophe but more likely old age, and hopefully not trash up the planet too much ourselves before we do. If you want to forego modern conveniences and still be a member of some society, feel free to buy some land and start up an intentional community, take a leaf out of the Amish playbook.
> Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere.
> Profoundly troubling signs from human activities include sustained increases in both human and ruminant livestock populations, per capita meat production, world gross domestic product, global tree cover loss, fossil fuel consumption, the number of air passengers carried, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and per capita CO2 emissions since 2000
There's the rub. The vast majority of people in the developing world want the wealthy, Western lifestyle. People like eating meat. People like having technology and air conditioning and transportation and using airplanes to visit far off places.
No leader of a developing country is going to go to their people and say, "Sorry, for the sake of the planet we are going to remain poor." And no leader of developed country is going to go to their people and say, "Sorry, for the sake of the planet, we are going to have to give up our lifestyle, and curtail our economic growth."
> Exactly 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva 1979) and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act.
My guess is that 40 years from now, this group of scientists will put out a paper talking about how they have been warning us for the last 80 years, and we still haven't done anything.
Then we will all die, and will deserve it.
Unfortunately, these people are unlikely to suffer very much from climate change, because they will be able to afford higher food prices, private security, etc.
So a more accurate statement would be "Then millions of undeserving people will die, and the people who deserve to won't."
If climate change continues unfettered, millions of people living on coastlines will be displaced and agriculture will become difficult in many regions. This is likely to lead to political chaos and instability.
I think climate change should be the most important issue on in any election. We still have time to keep warming manageable, but it will mean halving the amount of greenhouse gas we produce. This is going to require fighting climate change on multiple fronts, including changes to almost every industry - energy, housing, transportation, commerce - and possibly even geoengineering as a last resort. But it can be done. The Green New Deal is the only family of solutions that can plausibly halt climate change. Anything less is incompatible with the science.
On the other hand, there are not many articles on addressing climate change from an engineering standpoint. How much of the CO2 emissions come from burning gasoline? How much of that CO2 could be trapped back by switching to biodiesel? What would be the CO2 output of producing the necessary fertilizers and compensating for the increased corrosiveness? Are there better ways of trapping atmospheric CO2 in something that can be easily loaded into a gas tank in 5 minutes? Can we compensate the greenhouse effect by emitting some reflective particles into the atmosphere?
There are plenty of quantifiable and constructive ways to to reduce the global warming that would actually require research and collaboration across the board, but somehow instead we are stuck in a loop of guilt and are fighting on who should get blamed and taxed for something we are not yet solving.
My bullshit detector went off here. I don't known how any reputable scientist can claim that.
The thing is, though, that the wealthy lifestyle isn't that common. Are we talking about the 1%? Well, only 1% of the people can live that lifestyle. Are they responsible for 2% of carbon emissions? 5%? 10%? That still leaves 90% of carbon emissions.
So, yeah. The quoted statement seems to be far more political than it is based on objective evidence.
And what does this mean ? ( from the conclusions ) :
"Mitigating and adapting to climate change while honoring the diversity of humans"
Did they get bonus points for the diversity angle?
"make family-planning services available to all people, remove barriers to their access and achieve full gender equity, including primary and secondary education as a global norm for all, especially girls and young women 
Which makes sense! Rather than some sort of authoritarian China-esque policy of limiting children, just spread access to goods (like education, contraception and abortion) which allow people to control how many children they have.
Which is totally senseless now.
I believe that we can see a huge shift once meat alternatives become a viable alternative, not only for the sake of direct methane/CO2 consumption but also in terms of rain forest preservation (iirc, around 77% of the total soy production go into mass breeding).