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The world’s climate goals are not sufficient. They are also unlikely to be met (economist.com)
196 points by pseudolus 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 250 comments

We seem to be tracking for 4C of warming.

4C of warming would probably cause a collapse in the ability to feed the populace, and render large chunks of the world uninhabitable without active cooling, or because they'll be underwater.

It's hard to imagine how civilization survives this, without those regions that do continue to have arable land putting up walls and turrets and mowing down the streams of starving migrants.

At what point do you look at preppers and think "honestly they might be on to something?"

(edit: additions below) Sources abound but https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/18/climate-...

"Indeed, the consequences of a 4C warmer world are so terrifying that most scientists would rather not contemplate them, let alone work out a survival strategy.

Rockström doesn’t like our chances. “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that,” he says. “There will be a rich minority of people who survive with modern lifestyles, no doubt, but it will be a turbulent, conflict-ridden world.” "

"Since 2005, total global greenhouse-gas emissions have most closely tracked the RCP 8.5 scenario, "


What many seem to forget is 2C or 4C of warming is not an end equilibrium state, it's merely an arbitrary date of measurement (end of 21st century) for the track we may irreparably lock in for centuries and millennia. One a tipping point tips it's damn near impossible to tip it back.

That seems more than a little cavalier given the limited range of regions we find our planet's landmass in. The future looks more and more terrifying, and despite public opinion supporting action in much the world, still the political class have little to no answer anywhere...

Well, the answers won't get you (re-)elected:

* Subsidize public transportation (maybe even 100%), and make it a feasible mode of transportation for as many people as possible (at least for daily commutes; bonus: many people are concentrated in cities, so start there).

* Regarding daily driving: If public transportation is a feasible alternative, punish those who still use their car for commuting.

* Massively increase taxes on all kinds of fossil fuels; no matter if used for driving or for electricity (initially ease this in regions with difficult/bad public transportation).

* Make it easier to build regenerative energies (e.g. solar and wind) plus storage systems (e.g. pumped water or battery).

* I'm personally undecided on nuclear fission, but compared to coal it could be the lesser of two evils?

* On the packaging of any product (from bottled water over electronics to toothpaste) print the amount of energy used in production and for transportation.

* Punish producers of goods that break early (e.g. define minimum durability requirements for various product groups).

Would you elect someone with this agenda? I would have a hard time, though I think these points could all be appropriate responses to the climate crisis.

Even better: Try to get elected with that ;-)

Yet another Western centric litany of small palliative course corrections. They might have worked in 1950s, but are simply insignificant today. The world is rapidly changing.

* Global population is exploding. We passed 2B as recently as 1927, now we are close to 8B. Most of this historically unprecedented tsunami of people aspires to an energy-rich lifestyle, by hook or by crook.

* Most of the global carbon emissions are produced by non-Western countries. Led by China, whose emissions are more than US + EU combined.

* How do you scale back energy intensive economies, without being rolled over by countries with no such compunctions?

The population is projected to stabilise and then fall in the future. Most of the future growth is from people not dying as fast rather than people being born.

Are you intentionally using per country rather than per capita numbers. This appears to be a talking point I see it so often, but it's hard to tell if people are just repeating it without thought.

Carbon tariffs let you penalise any country that doesn't play by the rules. We already do similar for other environmental and social reasons. Plus, the environmental option is often cheaper and more efficient, it's only a short term hit to entrenched interests. So really you should be worried about African nations leapfrogging you to cheap solar based manufacturing while you get locked into expensive fossil fuels to keep Republican donors rich.

Emissions = number of capitas * per capita emissions. Most people aspire to a western lifestyle. Multiply global population with western lifestyle emissions. This is wildly unsustainable. Minor western lifestyle tweaks are not making a dent. Something major will have to give.

> How do you scale back energy intensive economies, without being rolled over by countries with no such compunctions?

Tariffs. Import duties. Trading blocs that exclude anyone who isn't on board. It's already been done with copyright and other IP.

The earliest Malthusians were wrong in a lot of their models, but especially in their models regarding climate. Global population is rarely more than a red herring in climate models, and should be among the least of our concerns right now.

So too the "global carbon emissions arms race" seems to be a wildly popular red herring. Yes, China has a brief window now where they have the highest emissions, but China is also moving the fastest at mitigating carbon emissions and is on track at moving a lot faster than the US or EU in cracking down on carbon emissions. Perhaps ironically to someone of your apparent perspective, but the higher population density of China, and predominance in massive river and coastal cities, has left China with far more incentive and immediate climate crisis concerns than most of the US and some of Europe are currently facing. The US and EU "developed world" seems more at risk of being "rolled over" by the efficiency gains China is making in "green" markets than any threat that China is just going stockpile gas in some Mad Max style race to the bottom (of the oil well). Your next car could be Chinese because they are taking Battery Electric seriously, whereas US manufacturers still have some weird idea that the market for BEV is just a toy to play with. (At least the EU manufacturers aren't rolling over and practically giving the market away.)

Ad 1: Yeah, so what? There are just no ethical things we can do about this; if you have a good idea, I am open to suggestions. (And no, "war" is not a good idea).

Ad 2: A lot of goods used by us are produced in China, so there are a lot of externalized emissions (hence the "kwh used for production & transportation requirement).

Ad 3: You hope the other countries realize they're committing civilizational suicide. Again: I'm open for good ideas. (And again no, "war" is still not a good idea).

So, let me summarize: You realized it's a global problem. What's your conclusion? Judging by what you write: Just do nothing and hope it's still okay-ish when we turn 80/90?

Yes I would, and vote accordingly - heavily against my personal financial interest. Yet I recognise that I am not especially representative here. I'd also criticise the party proposing those as not doing nearly enough. :)

> Even better: Try to get elected with that

I don't live under a Swiss model of direct democracy, or even one of the better forms of proportional representation. We disassembled most local government powers and gave them to central. A majority of votes are pointless and wasted in safe seats. Many consider my country (the UK) one of the least representative implementations of "democracy" on the planet - with good cause. Only the top 2 - 4 issues and latest "idiot soundbite" swing elections. Scarily the Murdoch media can still apparently swing elections.

Where I live there's no point voting - there's too many retirees who've paid off mortgage, kids moved out etc who are voting solely on tax and pension levels.

Which leaves a) achieve a miracle of making it a key issue for Murdoch (or Lebedev, Desmond, Barclay Brothers etc) or b) get a world so hugely impacted that it's above health, employment and tax for most including the pensioners... Or I guess wait for the revolution? ;)

> Massively increase taxes on all kinds of fossil fuels; no matter if used for driving or for electricity (initially ease this in regions with difficult/bad public transportation).

It isn't really necessary to ease this in at all if it's used to fund a dividend. Paying $5000 more for gas and electricity is no problem when you get the full $5000 back. All it does is make it cheaper to do something different than you are doing, because then you still get the $5000 but don't have to spend it all -- which is exactly the point.

You might even want to go the other direction in that case -- raise the tax in regions with bad transit, which would also increase the dividend in that region and give people there more incentive to at least buy electric vehicles etc., since they're the region with the highest carbon emissions per capita and most in need of remediation.

> On the packaging of any product (from bottled water over electronics to toothpaste) print the amount of energy used in production and for transportation.

Most people aren't going to care, and the carbon tax should take care of it anyway by making wasteful products cost more.

> Punish producers of goods that break early (e.g. define minimum durability requirements for various product groups).

Same thing there. The combination of "things cost more but you have more money (from the dividend)" causes the market to start to have a preference for durable goods, without actually harming the economy because it always nets to zero.

You really can let the market solve the whole problem just by pricing carbon appropriately. There is no need to micromanage it.

> Paying $5000 more for gas and electricity is no problem when you get the full $5000 back.

Then people stop buying fuel, and the tax income from fuels taxes dries out, and then the state no longer has the funds to pay those dividents. The state will need to stop paying dividents. Yes, emissions went down (a good thing), but also people's standard of living went down.

The only way standard of living goes down is if, and to the extent, the replacement technology costs more than the existing technology -- even after it's being deployed with economies of scale. And that's the minimum amount we can pay in order to cause it to actually happen regardless.

Since the alternatives are very close to cost competitive already, that isn't a huge hit if any, and greater economies of scale may even invert it and increase standard of living once they hit critical mass. All the tax does is cause people to have a preference for the new technology over the old one when it would have otherwise been about even.

And by the time the dividend goes to zero because nobody is buying fuel anymore, that also means that nobody is paying the tax anymore either. The only difference is that then every car is electric, which by that point cost about the same or less to own than gasoline cars traditionally did.

Transport is only 20% of global CO2 emissions. You need to do much more than just convert cars, trucks, train, ships and airplanes to run on electricity. I don't share your optimism that this is doable without significant increase in how much things cost.

Transport is "only 20%" but the combination of transport, power generation and heat is the majority of CO2 emissions, and all of those things have zero carbon alternatives at not much higher prices than the existing methods. And most of the rest of it is "agriculture" and "industry" which is a lot of the same thing -- a diesel tractor or bulldozer is still a thing we can make run on batteries instead.

Labour Party in the UK just announced a manifesto that commits to rapid reductions in emissions paid by taxes including a windfall tax on oil and gas producers, so we will soon see.

Electing Labor will almost certainly hurt the UK economy more by 2100 than will an RCP 8.5 scenario.


Haven't seen this election's manifesto yet, but in 2017 their manifesto was judged more financially credible - by the IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) - than that of the bloody Tories.

Corbyn is an old socialist who opposed removing Clause IV from labor’s platform: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/corbyn-clause-4-labour-...

The manifesto and ticket on which they stand is more than just a Corbyn brain dump, it's a reflection of the range of views within the Labour party, just as a Tory manifesto is more than just BoJo or May. Our Prime Ministers do not get US presidential - i.e. 18th century British monarchical - powers.

Brexit reveals there are some major failings with the system and how it can be hijacked by a focused minority group (e.g. the ERG), but it is not subject to the major US weakness to the {right|wrong} individual.

Sure. But Labor had a big-S socialist plank in its platform as recently as the 1990s. They’ve selected as their leader an old Labor member that opposed the shift. What does that tell you about what direction the “range of views” in the party is heading?

American Presidents don’t get monarchical powers. Trump has been able to deliver on almost none of his promises. But the leader a party picks is indicative of the mood of its policy makers writ large.

They've selected policies intended to resonate with the majority of working people, rather than trying to out-Tory the Tories but with some social spending as New Labour was. The emptiness of New Labour, and the costs to our public services of Public Private Partnerships, that we will be paying for the next 20-50 years under those contracts has rather destroyed that as a vote winning stratagem.

They threw out the baby with the bath water when getting rid of overly strong, and political union affiliations... The core premise of constraining capitalist excess, of aiming for redistribution, or "fairness" still resonates with a UK electorate. Despite 40 years of neoliberalism.

I suspect the party still hasn't quite found the right balance to get elected, and Corbyn individually is quite a huge negative for the party electorally, but their policies are interesting. Some of them feel desperately needed and long overdue. The Conservatives have brought forth the same policy for 40 consecutive years with almost nothing new or nuanced. Just more of the same - even in areas where they have failed badly. :)

Shitty leaders lose elections far more often than good leaders win them.

> American Presidents don’t get monarchical powers

It's surprisingly close and relates to Congress much as 18th century monarchy related to Parliament.

> the leader a party picks is indicative of the mood of its policy makers writ large.

True, but that again highlights the difference. A UK PM is often a markedly different MP on Parliamentary track record and voting to their administration.

I disagree with almost all of that. But particularly this:

> The Conservatives have brought forth the same policy for 40 consecutive years with almost nothing new or nuanced. Just more of the same - even in areas where they have failed badly.

How can you say that Tories "failed?" As you say, Labor had to become "Tories but with some social spending" in order to win any elections. When your opponent needs to adopt much of your platform to be viable, isn't that winning? Same thing happened in the U.S. after Reagan. For 25 years they had to be "Republicans with some social liberalism." I call that winning.

To spin back to the topic here, a Green party that finds a way of winning that forgets the environmental is no longer a green party. It's now a scam. Yet it's way more complex...

I did say areas where the Tories have failed. The con of austerity that has unnecessarily contracted the economy and massively escalated the debt. The destruction of public services for reasons of dogma. The decline of NHS standards under every Conservative government through deliberate under-funding and artificial imposition of expensive market solutions to non-problems - e.g. the embarrassing failure of privatised parole and prisons in the UK, or the failed NHS internal market, all of which added cost. As an aside, that's why I am heavily against re-nationalisation of industries under Labour. Even if they manage to work well during a Labour term they'll fail hard under the Tories - as a matter of dogma. The nett effect will be more cost and worse result, and long term under funding. Much better to have gone with hard regulation than nationalisation. As is, nationalisation is their weak point that worked during post-war consensus, not any more.

Winning at all costs, if you compromise your raison d'etre and forget those you once existed to help, is simply power for power's sake. It's why New Labour left, and still leaves an uncommonly bitter taste in UK politics - whether you were one time supporter or not - they were essentially bait and switch. Elections were an absence of choice when a New Labour manifesto could have been credibly put out by the Conservatives in a different cover. Vote on who has the nicer smile, nothing else much matters. The trust of politics reached a new low.

Which is not to say Labour hadn't been through a process of highly damaging self-harm captured by extremists in the years before Blair became leader. Blair was probably necessary to retain a party of any description. The Conservatives are now engaging in a similar level of extremist self-harm surrounding Brexit - when the Brexit dust settles we will see what long term damage that brings. I suspect it will be significant, perhaps as significant as Labour's troubled decades.

Both sides of the Atlantic the left seems to have been particularly slow to find an answer and reaction to neoliberalism of the right. Corbyn's Labour, though I dislike the individual, have found something that will resonate well, just as it did in 2017. There is much to like whether on the right or left. But not, I suspect, at this election. Meanwhile on the right, they ran out of ideas long ago. Tax cuts, more markets, less regulation, and um, that's it. I can't remember the last time a Conservative party had something they wanted to achieve or make better. They used to have plenty. Conservative vision is now something for one of their fringe meetings and never hits mainstream.

On that basis, it is very likely that Labour will "win" this campaign easily on policy, but lose the election on Corbyn's rating with voters. After his years of being useless in the Commons, had they put out the exact same policy under a less controversial leader a win might have been far more likely... It remains to be seen if they will spin up entirely new policy with a replacement for Corbyn.

In British elections that disparity is far from uncommon. Labour should have won in 87 and 17 on policy and campaign yet lost at the ballot box. Tories should have won on campaign and policy in 05, but lost the ballot. Then there's cyclical effects of having had enough of the current incumbent, regardless of "winning" policy. Thatcher could not have won in 92 (The year the FT backed Kinnock's Labour) even with perfect policies, somehow ideal to every voter. The change to Major was essential to that surprise win.

Neither can you rule out effect of an overwhelmingly right wing, and increasingly inaccurate and partisan media.

Edit; Sorry, that was far longer than intended. :)

Yes the economy is more important than widespread famine, sea level rise, and social unrest.


Yes, Corbyn is winning among a demographic that doesn’t remember when Labor was an actual socialist party and had to completely reinvent itself (a move Corbyn opposed) in order to even be viable. A demographic that hasn’t learned the lessons that led to that.

I and many of my friends are old enough to remember Labour of the pre-Thatcher years. Before I continue I should point out I consider myself "of the right" - somewhere around where the old One-Nation Tory majority used to be, with the likes of Heseltine, Clarke, etc, or even a little further right. Even Cameron claimed to be one-nation until he dreamed up a referendum to subdue the extremist wing of the party...

Most of that friend group are similar "natural Tories". Business owners, and comfortably off rather than all billionaire hedge fund owners or trade unionists and manual workers. 9 out of 10 Labour policies resonate well with us as a rejection of the clear excess and mistakes of neoliberalism. Of the brutal treatment of disabled, poor, and society generally. Of the application of market to utterly irrelevant things. Not as a vote to return to the Labour's Trotskyite Militant Tendency and idiocy of the seventies. We don't need to reinvent history and blame a demographic that knows no better...

I should probably add that for some the 1 in 10 policy that we dislike can sometimes be a vote killer or of veto level. :)

Most of the seventies problems can be explained by a) Nixon abandoning the Gold Standard and disassembly of Bretton Woods, both of which were hugely inflationary and b) the oil crisis. The Conservatives did no better in that era, and often markedly worse - fiscally, on labour relations, on balance of payments, even on defence. Heath did so poorly in the last administration that we had a three day week. Worse than Callaghan's later Winter of Discontent that brought Thatcher. Interestingly Callaghan's Labour were governing strongly in opposition to the unions during that winter...

The world has changed a lot since New Labour. Not that Corbyn is necessarily offering what the world needs now, but the lessons that led to New Labour do need to be questioned. The Internet age has brought both corporations and wealthy people a lot of dominance at the cost of the young and the poor, so "socialism" doesn't have the stigma that it used to among some demographics.

The Tory move to the right could give Labour a lot of room to maneuver as an actual left-wing party, rather than seeking centrist votes. As I said, Corbyn himself may not be the one to lead it there, but I'd suggest that the 90s were a long time ago and it may be time to find some new lessons.

None of that will have any significant impact on total emissions given growth in Asia, China, and India.

There is no scenario for keeping us at 1.5 or 2C that allows the developing world to start living better lives that doesn’t involve the developed world going net negative in carbon emissions.

Well there is, it was just negotiated and implemented extremely clumsily. Perhaps not surprising given the spread of governments and stances attending the various climate summits - Rio, Paris etc. Particularly of the most significant.

The developing world was given, as I understand it, to grow emissions until 2025 or 2030 and then commit to reductions and caps. Which may have been appropriate for India and China in the 80s or 90s, but hardly in the 21st century. Yet the same measure was probably about perfect for somewhere like Vietnam or Cambodia -- presuming the world never committed to honouring the obligation to subsidise the developing world past the worst and dirtiest of development. Helping a too poor to renewable India never go coal would have been the better choice - even though it would have cost the developed world actual money.

Add net-negative to the list then ;) I bet voters are keen on paying for that.

Regarding Asia: I thought of this at a more global scale. Of course it's pointless cleaning up the pool if the other people at the party using it as a trash dump (but maybe someone has to start).

They’re not “using it as a trash dump.” They just want to live a decent modern life. The average Bangladeshi emits 0.5 tons of CO2. The average European is more than 10x that. Europeans biking anywhere isn’t going to cut emissions by enough to let Bangladeshis live a European style life (even if the Bangladeshis bike everywhere too).

I didn't mean that literally, and I suppose/hope nobody things "hey, let's destroy the earth! Death to humans!".

If developing countries aspire to an European life style this will come with more emissions (which you said, and I agree with you). I would be the last to claim that some people should have a less decent life than others.

But the people in those country can see where this path leads, and since they're still "developing" they can try to start on a better path (if they want to). They have the advantage that these days there is greener tech available, so there is no need to go down the dirty road that led us to where we are right now in the west: We dumped a lot of shit in the pool, and still do, and we act as if we can't do anything about it while we should get ourselves together rather sooner than later.

//edit: What I mean is, I think our lifes are little bit too decent; at least with the costs we're paying for them, e.g. by destroying our planet. [Queue pun on technical debt or raking up a bill our (grand-)kids have to pay]

The elephant in the room you are missing is people’s lifestyle: “shopping” should be over. No need to produce and ship the tons of fashion and crap. Also less meat. But people like to complain without doing the slightest effort.

The "tons of fashion and crap" that you correctly identify as the elephant in the room is also the main source of employment and income for the majority of the population. The reason we are not doing anything about climate change (and will not do anything in the foreseeable future) is that any meaningful change will require abandoning the market capitalism and growth models that run the world economy. Try selling that to the voters or even here among the more privileged technocrats. Are you willing to take a major cut in your living standard in order to help people in Africa and Bangladesh? It's far more likely that the West builds walls on its borders and as a previous comment said, we start mowing down the hungry masses with machine guns. With the full support of its population of course, under an enlightened and highly developed democratic system.

I would almost vote for that platform. The problem is it's regressive... prices on basic good and utilities disproportionately harm those who are poor, at least in the short term. But I think there are ways to mitigate that, and as a package would likely be a popular position.

Yeah, I know: VAT and (similar taxes on daily goods/resources) affect poor people the most, since they invest most of their money in these.

The cynical thing is: People with a lot of money make most of the profit from environmental destruction and can later use that money/resources to ease the effect of climate destruction on themselves and their families/heritage; poor people just try to get by, and have a harder time mitigating the effects.

I think I have a second point for my platform: Shift tax pressure from VAT to income tax and/or taxation on wealth. I should announce this one AFTER the gala with the corporate sponsors; also, this is difficult to balance for economic growth).

Climate change is regressive.

>I'm personally undecided on nuclear fission, but compared to coal it could be the lesser of two evils?

Hesitance towards nuclear power is part of the reason the public doesn't take climate change activism seriously.

Why do you think it would be hard to get elected on that platform?

To be clear I think you're right, but the reason I'd give is that people with financial interests in fossil fuels will spend their money on attacking you and boosting your opponent.

Nothing about the actual steps required seems that unpopular to me. Cleaner air, cheaper energy, better cars and busses? It only seems terrible if you believe the lies put out by the aforementioned fossil fuel interests.

More taxes, less freedom, more punishments. Yes, I believe this would be unpopular.

However, remind me while you are punishing people for driving cars, how is the public transit outside major urban areas? Have you been outside urban areas?

They did point out it wouldn't get you elected.

"It's impractical for me to live in the middle of nowhere" doesn't actually refute any of their statements though.

If I were worried about spotted owls going extinct, saying "but I _like_ burning spotted owls for heat in the winter" doesn't really mean your actions are not going to have the negative consequence of spotted owls going extinct.

Compared to "hundreds of millions of people in India will die of thirst or starvation" "I like driving everywhere and living in the middle of nowhere" isn't inducing much sympathy.

Of course, you _can_ live in the middle of nowhere and have a pretty low carbon footprint. Ride a bike, eat vegetables, grow your own heating fuel, etc. Plenty of people do just that - here's one I've been following lately https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6vcadTSSQKVsdOudnbqwtg . But "I like having a cheap giant house in the middle of nowhere and driving a long ways to and from work" isn't exactly an argument.

Sad thing is that we are often pushed to live in the middle of nowhere by NIMBYs. Moderate density well-insulated homes near jobs and services that you can get to by bike, walking or transport isn't exactly a miserable life. Copenhageners seem happy enough.

> Have you been outside urban areas?

Yes. I lived there for well over a decade and am still regularly visiting.

I elaborated on the meaning of the word "feasible" in the sentence "If public transportation is a feasible alternative", but removed that wall of text for better readability. Maybe should have kept it to clarify...?

> More taxes, less freedom, more punishments.

That's what we're already doing for destructive behavior if someone doesn't understand/care that what they're doing is bad. Look back at the last 30 years and tell me we actually learned that it's a bad idea to destroy our planet?

> Yes, I believe this would be unpopular.

As indeed is the idea of your grand children living in a post-civilisation world

OP never said the whole platform was bad. Just that public transport doesn’t work in certain areas. Especially less dense ones.

The majority of the population lives in urban and suburban areas, and a minority lives in rural areas.

These are very different environments and public transport should be expected to be very different between them.

In cities, we should expect a high capacity system, like subways, 10-minutes buses and trams.

Gradually, as we move outside the cities densest areas, we should have a lighter but faster system, such as light transit rails, longer but still frequent bus routes.

Eventually, as we move outside suburban areas into rural areas, we should get something that barely exist right now: on-demand transit, like collective taxis, or flexible minibuses.

>how is the public transit outside major urban areas? Have you been outside urban areas?

Doesn't matter. The planet doesn't care how difficult your commute is, and global climate policy shouldn't either. We're far past the point where we can ease in change. We need drastic worldwide change and we need it yesterday. Of course it's going to be very painful for a lot of people, but the level of climate change we're going to see on our current path is going to be an order of magnitude more so.

They have the answers, they’ve just decided that they’d rather the world devolve into chaos and destruction than challenge the ruling class.

I know the whole Jeffrey Epstein scandal is more or less verboten on HN, but if there is one thing it has exposed, it is this truth. Those who act in service to elites will deploy the most obvious lies, evince they most pathetic cowardice, and the embrace the basest nihilism instead of confronting the reality of our circumstances and those who are its authors.

That we face serious “tipping points” are not a mainstream scientific view and the IPCC has not said anything along those lines: https://www.science20.com/robert_walker/no_scientific_cliff_...

Even your link acknowledges there are tipping points, and that they matter, specifically noting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Using the IPCC as evidence for their lack is contradictory as they themselves explicitly acknowledge they do not consider them as the full impact (and timescales) of their consequence is not well understood. Thus consensus is unlikely at best. Yet there are many thresholds that may have dramatic amplifying effects over lengthy periods (millennia). Lack of consideration of them has been a source of criticism of IPCC, and is why it's possibly safest to consider IPCC reports a "best case" scenario.


What matters is they would increasingly lock the world onto a track of rising temperatures. It matters little if the impact turns out to be serious such as melting permafrost or East Antarctic ice sheet, or less globally serious and localised such as a closedown of the North Atlantic Conveyor. How many degrees of increased warming or changed climate is far less well understood.

Not the political class, the monied classes. No one wants to accept haircuts to their lifestyle.

None of them have been alive to see a revolution.


Compared to my father's generation who went through Great Depression and fought WW2, compared to the pre-Prague Spring world I was born into, with Cold War, Soviet Bloc, apartheid, US segregation and student rights riots in Paris and London, and the assorted dictatorships. Err, no I can't say we currently have an excess of authoritarianism lately.

We have a slight lean back after seventy years of steady post-WW2 liberalisation, decline of deference and increasing freedoms. Economically we could have had a more interesting conversation... :)

Unwarranted surveillance, separating children from parents, the dismantling of workers rights, mobility, job security, and perks, politicians who hardly represent voters, state surveillance of political opponents, gerrymandering, efforts to silence journalists and whistle blowers, citizens united, left and right populism and extremism, alt-facts/fake news, cambridge analytica, the rise of China and it's management of Hong Kong, forced arbitration, facial recognition and various other tracking methods being refined by companies like palantir, those Boston dynamic dogs and atlas, drone usage and advances, fear mongering, rigged elections, demonizing opposition, increase in use of executive orders instead of following the democratic process, defunding of regulatory agencies like EPA, Tax breaks for the elite, loosening of banking regulations...

I could probably go on, but this should be enough data points to build a clear picture of the things producing a perfect storm capable of outdoing even Hitler.

I see at least two answers.

- Boot out the political class who are on the payroll of corporations whose short term profit margins insist on ignoring global warming. Replace them with people who are willing to actively cut profits and luxuries if it means avoiding ecological disaster, while focusing on programs that benefit the working class to maintain democratic power. Ie socialists.

- Boot out the politicians who are overly egalitarian. Enforce imperialistic extractive policies to maintain economic quality of life and create hard boundaries that can keep billions of dying refugees out. Use a philosophy of natural hierarchy of race, religion, nationality, culture, etc to maintain democratic power.

Both of these seem to be way more active and successful recently, and this will likely continue.

We need to SERIOUSLY start considering geo-engineering and artificial methods of cooling the planet. Most people laughed when Andrew Yang brought up space mirrors, but seriously, this is a WAY better option than mowing down streams of migrants. We need to cool this planet with technological solutions, as well as with MASSIVE carbon sequestration by farmers. It's clear our energy transition is going FAR too slowly, so we have to work on the other side of the coin if we have any chance of keep civilization alive.

> We need to SERIOUSLY start considering geo-engineering and artificial methods of cooling the planet.

We can't even collectively decide to stop taking the stuff out of the ground that ought to stay there. How are these fanciful ideas more politically viable?

They are more viable politically be cause they are further away, so you can pretend to support them while doing nothing, and use them as a magical excuse for burning yet more fossil fuels.

I'm still convinced that Musk's Boring Company is just a similar ploy to prevent investment in much needed mass transit to keep car sales up.

We have been engaged in a massive geoengineering experiment over the last century which involves putting out massive amounts of CO2. Even after decades of research the impacts of it are disputed and there is no will to make serious adjustments. I doubt we could set up a cooling effort in a way on the necessary scale where we understand the consequences and are willing to pay for it.

Can you source these predictions? The timetable matters, for example. If a transition in sea level takes place over a hundred years, it seems reasonable that populations would gradually move uphill.

Also, as land becomes less farmable, other land at higher latitude and elevations might become more so. There's also the increase in vegetation associated with higher CO2 levels that might actually improve some farming.

I don't feel like we should fall into to emotional trap of throwing up our hands and predicting the apocolypse.

where do you get the idea that populations will slowly move uphill?

The effects are non-linear. What you see is that Bangladesh goes from being a habitable city one year to one which is underwater 1/4 of the time, look at the massive floods there this year. Next year might be dry, but the year after that? It is already not sustainably habitable, but the people still live there.

China (noting that most of their industrial cities are coastal) might have a bit more time, but it is going to mean rebuilding all of the infrastructure they have built--where do the resources come from for that?

And another question, before the people move, are they going to clean up all of their toxic waste? If not, it all goes into the water with the flooding, which then kills their uphill livelihood because they live next to a huge pool of poison.

Fuck, after the hurricane hit Texas, they decided to scrap environmentally sound cleanup because it was "too expensive given the scale of the loss." If the US can't clean up, why would developing countries?

> What you see is that Bangladesh goes from being a habitable city one year to one which is underwater 1/4 of the time, look at the massive floods there this year. Next year might be dry, but the year after that? It is already not sustainably habitable, but the people still live there.

Really bad example. Floods have always been a problem in Bangladesh.


Bangladesh’s GDP loss from climate change under a 3C scenario is under 10%: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/201...

> Bangladesh goes from being a habitable city

Which city in Bangladesh are you talking about?

> Fuck, after the hurricane hit Texas, they decided to scrap environmentally sound cleanup because it was "too expensive given the scale of the loss." If the US can't clean up, why would developing countries?

Source? I'm not sure I've heard about this...

Populations might move uphill if they are unfamiliar with "dike" technology. About one third of the Netherlands lies below sea level, with the lowest point being 22 feet (6.7 meters) below sea level. Perhaps other nations might be capable of building small walls to keep the sea back as well.

Let's say you are right and we can farm the newly methane heavy, sinkhole infested permafrost in Russia and Canada. What does it mean for everyone else? Will they rely on food supply from Russia and Canada? Will Russia and Canada end up having huge migrations and become the biggest countries with billions of people?

Would they rely on food produced in the newly fertile lands? Of course. They'd probably themselves move there in order to farm it. Russia might be the next super power simply due to a population rush from lower latitudes.

There is currently a climate-related "population rush" from Syria into Europe and South America into the USA. In both cases, refugees have been subjugated to extremely inhumane conditions. If the USA, the freest country on earth, has caged climate refugees in concentration camps, do you expect Russia to be more generious?

I've wondered this as well.

A lot of these trends are nonlinear. Warming reaches critical thresholds and causes ice caps to disappear, decreasing the Earth’s albedo. Permafrost melts and releases huge stores of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

If it takes a hundred years, it’ll be more like 99 years of buildup before the dam bursts.

The scientific consensus view of the 4C scenario is not a “collapse in the ability to feed the populace.” In fact world population doubles by 2100 in the RCP 8.5 scenario, while world GDP more than triple: https://www.e-education.psu.edu/meteo469/node/145

This is why I choose not to have children, because I have a hard time seeing that people (the majority) will start paying mind to it. I think most people choose (probably on a sub-conscious level) to not be bothered by it, because doing something about it would mean giving up on many things we (citizens of rich countries) take for granted.

I doubt food productions will be a issue. The problems I foresee is transporting food to people and the willingness of the rich to give to the poor.

Aquaculture and particularly aquatic plants and algae are such as small part of the global diet that statistically it might not even exist, and yet civilization could almost exclusive survive on it if needed. We have the know how to make such food edible. Oceans like the Baltic sea is basically in a death spiral because too much eutrophication. The nutrients is there, the farming technique is available, but the culture and economics are not. Similar to how people don't want bread made with grinned down insects, which is also a food production efficiency concept, algae is something that we could produce but won't because people will not buy the products. Even when giving away food we tend to use food that we culturally would also eat.

Right now in local context, this kind of culture crash can result in edible food having a value that is below transport costs. In lakes that suffer from overpopulation you sometimes do a push where you extract hundred of tons of fish in order to restore health to the ecosystem. As I hear, that fish usually get turned into methane and burned as bio fuel.

Food production all over the world is mostly the result of culture and tradition. With global trading we can add a bit more nuances, but even here we can find plenty of example where something which people eat in one place get thrown on the garbage heap in places which don't share the same food culture.

The problem with environmental scientists is that they fail to recognize just how much people and organisms will adapt to situations. Sure, maybe some organisms will die out, but new exciting ones will appear to replace them. Humans will be able to start farming in Antarctica. Some people's houses might go underwater but on some inland properties might suddenly become prime beach-front real estate.

Human population might drop, but then house prices will drop too!

It's not all bad.

That's not how any of this works. House prices will drop where people cannot live anymore. And scientists have accounted for newly opened land... there is less of it then what is becoming uninhabitable. Continuing climate change isn't some whimsical economic reorering, it's the largest genocide in history.

It certainly doesn't look good for us. Curiously enough it's not something that's easy to notice looking out of the window at the way we live now.

Which parts of the words will be worst and least affected?

Any place least affected will be most sought after by the masses of migrants. There is no safe place.

If things get bad enough, maybe hold outs will resort to fast neutron enhanced nuclear devices. The effective range of fast neutrons in the atmosphere is small, so they can be used tactically.

Difficult to see many hungry migrants making it to Tristan da Cunha, for example.

Neat island, but I can assure you South Americans and Africans would have no issues invading it by boat.

It would be a decent stronghold though for awhile I bet, but in the end desperation would lead to its discovery and pillaging.

Have you ever played the game rust? It's a survival game where the world you spawn in is pretty large. It always amazes me how similar people think in survival games. No good spot ever goes undiscovered.

If the islands were not mapped that would be your best bet.

> Neat island, but I can assure you South Americans and Africans would have no issues invading it by boat.

> It would be a decent stronghold though for awhile I bet, but in the end desperation would lead to its discovery and pillaging.

So in a climate apocalypse scenario where people are starving and desperate and resources sparse, said people are going to be able to gather enough provisions and fuel to organise a weeks long trip across thousands of miles of open ocean in order to invade a settlement that is living at subsistence level. Right...

Probably rather easy to enforce a sea border with drones and SDBs - barring submarines. (Like the ones the cartels are using for drug smuggling)

Inhumane, but...

The article points out subsidies are one of the main contributors to growth in production of fossil fuels. So forget regulation, just take the government thumb off the scale in favor of fossil fuels.

This is somewhat disingenuous on my part as I am for using the government thumb if necessary to achieve goals that allow society to continue like a clean energy mix. However, maybe this could still be done in a light touch way like massive grants into basic research which I do think the US government has had success with in the past.

Fossil fuel could take part in this as well but from my perspective, they have never been interested in pursuing goals like efficiency and sustainability though innovation. They are driven by finding ways to create more demand for energy use and scaling up existing technology that is good enough for that purpose.

The problem with this is that you suddenly find that all the people who you thought were arguing in good faith about not liking government intervention, were actually only doing that as a tactic to stall specific things they didn't like, not as a general principle.

They'll have a completely new set of disingenuous talking points (unsubsidized fuel would hit the poorest hardest!) ready to confuse people and to stall that action as well.

> They'll have a completely new set of disingenuous talking points (unsubsidized fuel would hit the poorest hardest!) ready to confuse people and to stall that action as well.

Wasn't that literally the left's argument against carbon taxes on Oregon?

If they argued for some counterbalancing arrangement with the money raised they were probably on the left if they just said "well, I guess we just have to stick with what we currently do, it's not like government intervention would be desirable here" then they were probably not actually on the left.

The initial proposal was for the carbon tax to be revenue-neutral and (IIRC) returned as a per-capita rebate. That didn't pass, so the followup used the revenue for social programs as an attempt at bipartisanship. The followup also failed to pass, though.

Imposing taxes on poor people who have little agency/power seems kind of pointless.

You see the same thing with 'free speech'

What they mean by subsidies are externalities they government doesn't tax, not active subsidies. The problem with that thinking is that people aren't remotely in agreement of what the dollar cost of those externalities actually are, so painting them as straight subsidies that can simply be cut off is dishonest.

In addition, the use of untaxed externalities in arguments like this implies they aren't asking to take the government's thumb off, they are asking for the government to use more thumb, except against the companies they don't like.

There's a difference between putting your thumb on companies, and an entire sector. Knee jerk hate for industry wide regulation makes no sense, it's precisely the job of the government to set the standards of operation for a particular market.

I'm not saying it's bad, I'm just saying in practice good regulation requires serious thought in quantity of regulation, the role of state vs federal, and the prevention of regulatory capture by said economic sector. Rushing through these things with no more thought put into it than lofty ideals is how you end up with dysfunctional bureaucracys that cause voters to swing towards politicans promising to indiscriminately tear the whole thing down.

It annoys me how little thought is put into making sure any of these new systems will work in a democratic system where the people negativity affected have a vote too.

There will be societal effects. For example if heating fuel subsidy is removed, poor people with big uninsulated houses will be hit worse. So a candidate is unlikely to touch such a subsidy.

Energy policy is related to social policy.

How can they possibly be met when China is build building new coal fired power plants equivalent to all the coal plants in europe.


Yep. This is the point I've been trying to make to many Americans.

This issue goes beyond our consumption. The entire worlds growth has to be regulated at this point to ensure stability.

That means Western countries need to accept a lower standard of living or find ways to become vastly more efficient so that developing nations can catch up and we can find an equilibrium in regards to standard of living globally.

> Western countries

This West/rest dichotomy seems a bit outdated. Is China the West? oil-rich Middle East? Both of those have high emissions per capita - in the case of the Middle East, some of the highest in the world.

China is especially not the west. They would typically be the East.

Mostly I meant developed vs undeveloped. Those are Eastern countries who are still developing. I think the dichotomy fits just fine still.

Well then, here's another reason it's false: there is huge variation within the West, with the US for example having more than twice as much co2 emissions per capita as the UK.

> The entire worlds growth has to be regulated at this point to ensure stability.

Why does this sound familiar?

Well, look, I for one at least appreciate the honesty from many climate concerned types that the goal is really authoritarian socialism. It’s much better to be honest about that than the years previous where it was all “we can just solve it with a tax” which implied but didn’t come right out and say what it really is to some people.

Regulation doesn't mean authoritarianism.

Is the WTO authoritarianism? Is a speed limit authoritarianism?

NO. Those are just regulations, because as systems get more complex you need more rules to manage the scale.

Uh huh, and how are the undesirable actions, the regulations, and taxes enforced? The gun, same as was, same as it will be.

The same way that undesireable actions are handled in the WTO.

Look all I'm talking about doing is creating a world climate organization rater than a world trade organization and you're trying to tell me I'm suggesting authoritarianism. It's ludicrous.

Solutions are fueled by growth as much as problems are. There's a whole school of thought that by assertion argues that growth is bad. It's not an argument that withstands scrutiny.

Instead of lowering their standard living I imagine many would prefer the developing nations don't catch up.

Honestly, take a look at what’s happening in Australia right now, it’s absolutely astounding how apocalyptic things are looking there. What’s more amazing is the Australian Government is still in the business of climate emergency denial.

I’m really worried about certain communities and cities making it through the summer down there. It will be California In the same situation again soon.

> it’s absolutely astounding how apocalyptic things are looking there

The breakdown of society? Unable to acquire basic goods? Roving gangs of marauders?

The worst bushfires in recorded history, earlier and longer bushfire seasons, ongoing problems to do with poor water management that are being exacerbated, ongoing drought problems that are being exacerbated, ongoing power problems that are being exacerbated, ongoing skin cancer problems that are being exacerbated.

This is death by a thousand cuts. Civilisation doesn't end immediately once we hit our tipping point date - but damage to our environment becomes practically irreversible.

All of that is bad, but it hardly sounds apocalyptic. I don't doubt that we're going to get there, but until we see whole cities abandoned, people starving en mass, and similar events, calling things "apocalyptic" comes across as hyperbolic.

The damage will be irreversible by the time these events are seen.

It gets called apocalyptic because we're heading to a future where they become inevitable, not that they exist today.

You need to get out of the car before the car crashes into a giant ball of flame. But saying that it hasn't exploded yet isn't an argument that there won't be flames.

The damage is irreversible now, as evidenced by the fact that we are doing virtually nothing at a global level to even slow down, much less reverse, the damage.

That still doesn't make current events apocalyptic. Harbingers of the apocalypse maybe, but the apocalypse is the fireball. It's not apocalyptic until we crash.

Cape Town came damn close in 2018

Having spent enough time in ZA, you can find something considered near apocalypse every other Tuesday. Necklacing Namibians for example in the street has nothing to do with climate.

Wow those Australian fires really do look bad: https://twitter.com/simonsarris/status/1197612762039554048

Oh wait they don't look apocalyptic at all. The Mordor in the closet is still China and India.

Live data: https://www.windy.com/-CO-concentration-cosc?cosc,6.344,126....

The point is absolutely not that bushfires release greenhouse gas.

The primary point of concern with a bushfire is that they kill people, destroy land and property, and are incredibly difficult to control.

Having the worst bushfires in recorded history is more to do with their scale being exacerbated by climate change, rather than they themselves having a detrimental effect on the environment.

Yes but you see, there is a correlation between the two ?

Yes, but those are unrelated to climate change.

It's not a perfect solution, but you can make a big dent in this yourself remarkably easily by carbon offsetting all your own emissions right now: https://www.goclimateneutral.org/

Reducing your emissions completely is difficult. As others here have said, there are many emissions you can't practically reduce yourself, from concrete production to necessary transportation. Even where you can't reduce your personal impact though, you can reduce worldwide carbon output by an equivalent amount instead, by offsetting: directly donating to equivalent reductions elsewhere in the world that just need funding.

There's other providers too (e.g. https://offset.earth/), the only trick is to find somewhere that's cheap per-tonne offset (you should be able to do it for around $4 per tonne), with projects that are vetted & certified. Some more details & links to the kind of projects that offsetting funds here: https://www.goclimateneutral.org/our_projects.

You have to be very careful when purchasing offsets. Many of them are not legitimate and are not overseen properly.


>you can make a big dent

How so? Practically by definition you personally can make an almost incomprehensibly minuscule dent. This is not an issue that is going to be solved by personal action.

Proportional to other possible personal actions you can take, I mean.

It's easy & fairly affordable for example to offset 10x your own personal emissions. For an average person in the US that would cost about $70 a month (about 20 tonnes/year * $4/tonne * 10 = $800/year). Meanwhile it's clearly impossible to 1000% reduce your personal emissions, no matter the sacrifices.

Completely agree we need large-scale action from nations & corporations too, but if you're looking for a way you can make a difference right now then offsetting is one of your most direct & effective options.

A large part of the reason we're talking about this is that "possible personal actions you can take" are utterly and completely irrelevant to a problem of this scale. It's actively harmful to talk about personal action in a way that implies it makes a meaningful difference.

This argument also applies to protesting or voting - one protestor/voter alone makes no difference - or almost any possible attempt at a solution. What's the alternative?

One person voting or acting makes only a small difference, but doing so as one of many eventually has an effect. Corporations and governments will move only because of the cumulative economic and democratic incentives from many many personal actions.

Fridays For Future's next global climate strike is on the 29th, next week. There is probably some demo in your city that you could join.

There are also climate strikes December 6 in the US. See https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/winter-climatestri... for details.

Anyone willing to protest in front of the Chinese embassy?

it's a bit late, these protests should have taken place 20 years ago. all we can do now is prep

As long as our technological civilization hasn't crumpled yet it is not too late to use our skills for something that lessens the severity of the change. The best prep is stopping to make things worse.

It's not a binary choice. The less we do to combat it, the warmer it gets. We're not going to get 0, but it'd be nice to avoid 8 degrees of warming...

protests do not "combat it". actual action to cut co2 emissions "combat it"

Cutting CO2 emissions is the trivial part. Convincing politicians to cut CO2 emissions is almost insurmountable.

100+ years of industrialisation has some momentum to it, but just because objects in motion tend to stay in motion doesn't mean they cannot come to rest

they will come to an abrupt rest to be sure. hence why individuals need to prep for the collapse

There is not much to prep. Move away from the most affected regions today. If you wait until its too late then you won't get to choose your destination because everyone else has already had the same idea.

There is a lot of talk about renewable energy. But I believe this is distracting us from the real issue: we are using too many resourses.

Our family uses around 2000kWh electricity per year. This is half of what most people in my country use. And ~16% of the avarage US usage.

Ofcourse there are a lot of reasons for the differences but the biggest reason is being consumption aware.

We don't own an AC, use LED lights everywhere, and always check the power consumption of appliances we buy.

Being aware of your consumptions really helps.

Paving your roof with solar panels will only help the producer of the panels, not your carbon footprint.

Personal choice is only about 5% of the change needed to mitigate climate change. Individuals can not choose most things, such as steel and cement and plastic production, they can't enact a carbon tax, they can't close down coal plants or raise capital for nuclear or renewables. Can individuals educate millions of women in the third world or change how refrigerants are managed? Look at drawdown.org, you will see the majority of reductions will be on elected officials and corporations.

The most developed world individuals can do, as you say, is reduce their own footprint in minimal ways and VOTE!!

This does not really apply to individual Americans. The American carbon footprint boils down to driving and meat. Individual decisions made by super-consumers can be impactful.

You're still not correct...you're saying eating plant based diet has essentially zero footprint, which is untrue, especially with food waste. And you're saying driving/transportation choice alone is sufficient, when we know that even if they bought an EV or used a train, those transportation regimes still incur carbon emissions in their production and operation, though admittedly less LOCAL emissions (great!) and potential for lower future emissions as the grid cleans up (great!).

These individuals still can not choose zero-carbon heating/cooling (which is probably 1/3 of American's footprint, which you neglected to even mention), they can't choose how their infrastructure is produced (steel and cement, big time emissions there), they can't choose the actions of their American government, which spends a lot of carbon emissions on its internal activities as well as its foreign incursions.

So no, you really can't "boil down" to zero net emissions as an American unless you stop using heating, cooling, roads, transportation of any kind except walking/bikes, and if you completely stop supporting the US govt and its activities.

Impactful but not sustainable nor scalable. Climate change as we face it is a tragedy of the commons. We are using a negative resource without pricing in that externality. Individual action does not solve a tragedy of the commons; this is a very well established economic theory. I would almost call it a fact.

Without a tax on the resource, all you’re doing is leaving more of it for the others to abuse. The same happens with fishing, rhinos, etc etc.

Individual action is a moot point: we must solve this collectively. Everything else is a polarising distraction.

Being conscious of what you use is of course important, but it's not a path to carbon neutrality, so in the long run it's not enough. It is also a surefire way to prevent any change if you wait for every single person to change their personal lifestyle instead of government action that provides alternatives which don't require becoming a hermit hunter gatherer to reach carbon neutrality.

These things are not mutually exclusive.

Yes, only top-down and bottom-up changes are enough to mitigate the risks of climate change.

I agree with the first part, but being consumption aware brings you only so far.

As an example I'll be moving into an A++++ isolated, triple glass, gass-less home using an efficient heat pump to convert 1x electrical energy into 5x heat energy using earth heat. Even then, we'll probably be at your consumption level (ballpark), for heating and ventilation alone. Many places on earth just won't work without heating (or AC), no matter how 'consumption aware' you are.

Curious as well to how you came to your last remark.

> We don't own an AC, use LED lights everywhere, and always check the power consumption of appliances we buy.

> Being aware of your consumptions really helps.

A lot of people live in places with summers and winters though, with ACs working through may to september and central heating through november to march.

Outside of (sub)tropics AC isn't really needed; it's a luxury. Air-conditioned homes in Europe are still fairly uncommon. As for heating, the unfortunate fact is that most of that is needed due to subpar (or often close to nonexistent) insulation, even in climates where it could make a big difference.

> Outside of (sub)tropics AC isn't really needed

Over 26 degrees indoors is when it starts to get unlivable and requires cooling. And without ACs it gets that hot indoors in a lot of the world and in plenty of Europe during summers, not just in tropics.

Uncomfortable, perhaps, not unlivable. People somehow managed to live indoors without AC for millennia, and a few billion people are doing so right now despite living in regions where summer temps rise to the low 40s C. Relative humidity also plays a large part. 26 degrees C is nothing in a fairly dry climate.

People have also been living for millenia in the tropics without AC.

Houses in the US haven't been built to be livable without AC (in areas that have highs over 85F or so more than a month a year) in decades. Nor have apartment buildings.

You need special attention to floor plan, facing, and to make choices that go the opposite direction of what you do if you have AC and want it to work efficiently, like having really big windows that open, several big doors, and high ceilings. These tend to make your heating less efficient, so there's that problem too.

You also need more expensive materials and different/better craftsmanship than has been commonly available to keep the house's interior finishes from deteriorating quickly when subjected to wide seasonal temperature swings. And more maintenance regardless.

This is the other side of the problem. Much of the construction in the US is a net negative rather than a net positive. I found this recently when buying a house: the majority of houses in the town in question I looked at and said, "I would need to knock fifty thousand dollars off the land value to have this bulldozed before I could build something habitable." It's not financially viable because they are classified as being worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, not negative tens of thousands of dollars.

We need a way to incentivize countries to take action and bring in carbon pricing and the like.

About the only way I can think of would be a new global trade agreement. Something like meet your carbon targets and get free trade with all other members, don't and face 30% tariffs. If you could get say the US and EU on board pretty much all countries would be forced to follow.

That plus say a $100 carbon price might pretty much fix things for the output drops suggested in the article and not hurt the economy much.

The trouble is, this isn't nearly far enough and it's already sounding politically impossible. The carbon targets need to be zero worldwide without exception and the tariffs need to be more like 1000%.

A very interesting and informative talk: Dr. Gwynne Dyer – Geopolitics in a Hotter World – UBC Talk Transcribed (Sept. 2010)


- - - -

important to remember that our current systems (no pun intended) are hugely wasteful. I forget the exact statistic but losses from the point of generation to your wall socket are something crazy, like 30%-50%. That's not including lunacy like refrigerators that open like cabinets rather than drawers (spilling all the cold air on the floor and filling the box with warm air. Some fridges have heaters in the door. It's true.) or pilot lights (little flames that burn 24/7 just in case you might want to cook at midnight or whatever.)

Efficiency would solve about half of the problem, in re: energy.

> Some fridges have heaters in the door. It's true.

Wow. I had to search this to be sure you weren't kidding:

> In ‘single circuit appliances’ and appliances with a 4-star freezer compartment, temperatures are usually regulated according to refrigeration compartment temperature. When ambient temperatures fall, an issue arises because the refrigeration compartment will not need to be cooled as regularly and this means that the associated 4-star freezer compartment can then become too warm. In such cases, the refrigeration compartment is artificially heated by a light bulb or an electrical heater to force the refrigerator to cool down more frequently and thus keep the 4-star freezer compartment sufficiently cool.


Oh my, you've found some other heater!

The ones I was talking about are in the rim gasket thingy that seals the door when it's closed. Some refrigerators have heating elements in there to keep the gasket (or whatever you call it) from sticking to the frame when opening the door, IIRC.

While predicting the climate is hard, predicting humans is even harder. The notion that we are inevitably on the way to 4C of warming (or whatever other figure somebody would have you believe) is frankly outright wrong.

We can reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions through profitable enterprise and without lowering quality of life / stopping economic growth / enforcing strict veganism or whatever else extremists propose. In fact, we can do so far ahead of the IPCC SR15 1.5C scenario requirements. How?

Firstly, don't disregard technologies without understanding their merit. Hydrocarbons are a big part of the problem, yes, but please note that natural gas is about 4x cleaner than coal and has actually been the largest contribution to lowering emissions in the energy sector (~75% natural gas reduction on a large chunk of energy consumption is far more significant than the ~95% renewable reduction on a much smaller portion of energy consumption thus far)

Our world relies on these technologies at the moment and a good climate change solution must include not only a smooth transition away from fossil fuels but also an increase in fossil fuel cleanliness.

Now, climate change is primarily driven by net emissions from 6 things:

- Energy (electricity, fuels, heat etc.)

- Transportation (cars, planes, boats etc.)

- Industry (steel, concrete, plastic etc.)

- Commercial (buildings, appliances, etc.)

- Agriculture (mostly beef, other meats, etc.)

- Carbon sequestration (deforestation, other tech)

Here's how we can solve the problem in all of these areas in a mutually beneficial, profitable way:

1. Nuclear fission is currently the cleanest, safest, and most fuel abundant energy source we have. Most people don't know this. It is also only at a very small fraction of its potential in efficiency and relies on the least common nuclear fuel of the 3 naturally occurring isotopes (U235 vs. Th232, U238)

With some relatively small investment in this space, we can both increase the world's total energy supply by several factors in order to accommodate growth in developing nations and decrease energy sector emissions by >99%, over the course of a few decades.

We can also provide enough cheap electricity to help with the other 5 areas:

2. Electric cars are physically more efficient, faster, and simpler than ICE cars. Same concept applies long term to all transport with the exception of orbital rockets (those which operate in a vacuum), and it is entirely possible that we can shift the entire transportation industry to a mix of (a) fully electric transport and (b) carbon-neutral fuels derived from sequestration techniques, all within a few decades.

3. High grade heat allows us to shift the emissions of steel manufacturing from the plant itself to the energy source. New nuclear fission technologies operating >600 degrees Celsius will allow us to shift the steel industry to net-zero emissions. Bill Gates recently also posted some notes about green concrete https://www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/Buildings-are-good-for-peo...

Also, cross laminated timber offers a new technology that can be made stronger, cheaper, safer, and more psychologically beneficial than steel and concrete in most buildings, including skyscrapers. This and other biological materials science solutions can help shift away from steel, concrete, and plastic production.

4. Same concept from transportation applies here. Electric things are more efficient and will be cheaper long term across the board, and allow us to shift emissions to the energy sector (which is by far the easiest to reduce emissions in)

5. Agriculture is complicated, and feeding 10 billion people will be hard. But there are a lot of great options and innovations here as well. Indoor farming can be made significantly more reliable, productive, and efficient than regular farming if we have good access to electricity and water. Lab-grown meats, cultural shifts to vegetarianism/veganism, and alternative protein sources all offer options to reduce agricultural emissions by >95%.

6. There are many great companies working on sequestration technologies, and several of these not only remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere but also provide useful byproducts like clean hydrocarbon fuels. YC has recently funded such companies.

The technological shifts I proposed in sections 4 and 5 will allow us (and/or force us) to start fixing our land and replanting healthy forests.

Every single one of these solutions can realistically be widely implemented by the year 2040/2050, and if we really wanted to (although this is not realistic from a societal perspective) we could really get there by 2030. Every single one of these solutions can improve quality of life and support a growing global economy in a profitable way.

I believe we are going to reach net-zero emissions a lot faster than you might expect.

Please, don't fall for the fear mongering. (and obviously, also don't fall for denialism)

Climate change is real, but it is something we can solve, and we don't have to destroy society or adopt a political extreme across the board to do it. I've got hope for humanity, I hope you do too.

Granted that the technology is feasible (and, FWIW, I believe it) how to address the political/social side of it to actually "get 'er done!"?

Technically, your stance or proposals are a political extreme, eh?

- - - -

FWIW, and apologies if this seems way out of left field, there is a kind of psychological algorithm called "Core Transformation Process". It operates between a guide and a single subject, in a therapeutic setting, to resolve and transform personal issues. Now I suspect, although I haven't tried it, that a variation designed to work with two subjects simultaneously (or alternating, or something) could work really well as a kind of negotiation or conflict-resolution process.

The thing is, something like that is even further out sociopolitically than your technology-saves-the-day proposals (which, again, I am all in favor of, FWIW.)

> how to address the political/social side of it to actually "get 'er done!"?

While it will definitely happen faster with government effort, the main point of my comment was that we can do all of these things in the free market.

In fact, we already are well on our way to doing all these things in the free market.

So, I wouldn't consider this a political extreme. My policy is simply to allow entrepreneurs to acquire private funding and test out their ideas. We already do that.

> ... "Core Transformation Process" ...

This is an interesting idea, I do think it is a fairly difficult issue to figure out how we can make meaningful political progress in today's world. It seems like the gears of democracy are slowing down more and more every year.

I think you've pointed out reasons to be optimistic, but these problems are harder than you're implying, even assuming we have the political will and foresight to address them.

For example, electric cars require large amounts of copper, cobalt, and nickel. We don't produce enough to electrify all cars, so that means we need new mines. Mines take a long time to discover and build and have their own environmental problems. Also, recyclability of these batteries still needs a lot of work.

As for shifting steel to net-zero emissions, I agree it's possible in principle, but you need to get a lot hotter than 600C. Steel melts at ~1500C. A blast furnace needs to get to at least 1300C to separate iron from ore and temperatures can get up to ~2000C.

The engineered wood products are interesting, but they aren't well understood yet for use in large structures. One of the advantages of reinforced concrete is that the building is monolithic. There are no joints that can fail, it's one piece of reinforced concrete. The composites need joints, and every joint is a potential source of failure, which can then load other joints, potentially causing them to fail, and so on. These probably aren't insurmountable problems, but they are unsolved engineering problems and create a more complex structure.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic or contrarian. I think technological advances will be important in maintaining quality of life as we transition to more sustainable sources of energy, but they aren't going to solve all our problems.

> For example, electric cars require large amounts of copper, cobalt, and nickel. We don't produce enough to electrify all cars, so that means we need new mines.

Cobalt comes "free" as a waste product from copper/nickel mining. So long as copper/nickel get mined, there will be cobalt. There doesn't currently seem to be any threat right now of a shortage in the cobalt market (even in some hypothetical of "electrify all cars immediately" worst case). On top of that, we already have proven Lithium Ion battery formulations that don't need Cobalt (it's about a quarter of batteries on the market), and the ones in current production that use Cobalt typically list their usage of Cobalt in ppm [parts per million].

> Also, recyclability of these batteries still needs a lot of work.

Current car-sized batteries have been showing real world usage statistics at hundreds of thousands to just shy of tens of millions of cycles in their "first use" in cars, not enough have made it to secondary markets yet to have reliable statistics, but current beliefs are that secondary usages in devices such as "power walls" and grid supplementations should see tens of thousands of cycles at reduced capacities. In the tertiary stages where recycling becomes useful/necessary, we know that Lithium, the vast majority of battery compositions, is entirely recyclable (and a known entity, we've doing that much for a while). We aren't currently good at recycling Cobalt, but we haven't needed to do any such thing in bulk to date because A) again, most car batteries are still in their first lives, which are showing to be 15-20 years in some cases, B) Cobalt is often measured in ppm so a tiny percentage of battery composition, C) Cobalt is a "waste product" from other mining and economically the incentives just do not align to recycle it when it just keeps coming out of mines whether or not we need it.

Not that pessimism isn't useful, but another possibly helpful reminder we may be better off than we think we are.

Great post, but I would add a point.

Since we already triggered feedback loops (eg. thawing of permafrost) we probably need to go carbon negative for a while to stop said phenomena. This means over-provisioning our clean energy supply to power CO2 scrubbers or some similar tech.

I fear that, considering how hard is to get the world to agree to net 0 emissions, the negative emissions discussion will probably be a bloodbath.

Yeah, I think you're probably right.

The good news is our emissions are so high that if we do get to net zero, it will be relatively easy to go a bit into the negative from there.

>The notion that we are inevitably on the way to 4C of warming (or whatever other figure somebody would have you believe) is frankly outright wrong.

We are locked already into an increase of a couple degrees celsius, because of the current carbon in the atmosphere. Even if we were to magically stop emitting any new carbon right now, the temperature would continue to coast upward for a few decades.

There is promising technology that could help us address this, but it's hard to believe that we'll be able to avoid a 4C increase at this point. Perhaps we'll be able to correct faster with technological improvements, but calling a 4c increase 'outright wrong' is not really being honest either.

For those interested in MUCH more detail (without a paywall), you can find the original UNEP Production Gap Report here - it's 80 pages instead of 5 paragraphs.



I think its ironic that in the last three centuries we have spilled so much blood on freedom from authoritarianism, human rights, national identity. A lot of people were trying hard to preserve their cultural values even in face of oppression. Suddenly climate change is threatening all of that and nobody gives a damn about it or they even actively fight for policies that accelerate climate change. They just assume that humans will adapt and ignore that adaptation in this case means migrating away from their own countries. You're not going to have the typical American culture in Alaska...

Hackernews is reddit, but with significantly more arrogance because its population is majority techies. It's why I don't use a real name here; if I did I couldn't express anything even remotely controversial to the hive mind.

I'd be surprised if it was only 10s of millions.

right? a much more realistic projection is solidly into the 100s, but if I hadn't self-policed myself down an order of magnitude it would have been even more downvoted or even flagged.

people think of being a climate change denier as binary but the challenge right now is much more one of getting people to grasp the scale than the notion.

A bit over the top, but you're not wrong. We vilify tobacco companies for knowing that their products caused cancer but pushing them anyway. The tide is turning for oil and gas.

its not over the top, its under the top. it is only your social-triangulation-reflex that makes you feel its over the top. 4C is a fucking nightmare, no one should be at all unclear about that. I think aspects of 2C and most of 3C will be, but even if you think i'm too pessimistic you cannot dispute 4.

the "tide turning" is wonderful but we have very specific deliverables and deadlines to hit. lots of people love to give optimistic status updates at meetings for projects that are not going to hit their deadlines. the catch is, this time, "dead"line is not a metaphor.

You are correct. I was tone policing and I apologize.

This is a fucking nightmare scenario and people are making jokes about "farming in the Yukon and Siberia" as if that's a good thing.

> You are correct. I was tone policing and I apologize.

Thank you.

I agree with you, but downvoted you for the line "hacker news is a reactionary cesspool of vile cowards"

I think there might be a very good point somewhere in this neighborhood, although how one might articulate it to get the point across for consideration I don't know.

Just as famines and what not are popularly characterized as "crimes of communism" (certainly true to some degree, using simplistic thinking), I believe an unbiased entity could make a similar argument that the current climate issues are in a sense (can be at least partially attributable to) what we loosely (conversationally, simplistically, ideologically) refer to as capitalism, or more specifically Western Democratic Capitalist Systems.

Western democracies, for the most part, seem to have enable a long (long enough) period of relatively peaceful (peaceful enough) cooperation between individuals and nations, and within that climate Capitalism unleashed the ingenuity and hard work of scientists, industrialists, and the common man to produce the amazingly advanced societies that most of us are fortunate enough to live in today.

But both Democracy and Capitalism are double edged swords. Capitalism enables tremendous technological innovation and progress, but it is largely amoral - it deals only with whether something can be done, with no concern for whether it should be done. Democracy (the flavor currently practiced in most of the world) seems to strike sort of a pragmatically useful middle ground between individual and collective rights and responsibilities, under certain sets of circumstances at least - but is it safe to assume that it can do so under all sets of circumstances, particularly considering the infinitely complex and inconsistent societies we live in, composed of millions of individuals each of who have all sorts of known and unknown quirky beliefs and behaviors, all interacting in a recursively unstable system we have little understanding of? Recent history seems to be increasingly hinting to us that perhaps this assumption (overwhelmingly undisputed, based on my reading of sentiment anyways) may not be be technically correct.

Under current conditions (the way the world is, rather than the way the world should be), I continue to overwhelmingly believe that we are trying to solve this and other problems in impractical ways, based on simplistic, ideological, and willfully ignorant thinking thinking, and I would argue that observable evidence is supportive of (but does not prove, obviously) this theory. It's completely possible I am suffering from some sort of delusional mental illness, but it seems absolutely clear as day to me.

But how one might communicate this idea, let alone get some momentum behind it if it just so happens to have some truth to it, is completely beyond my abilities. I have poor communication skills, plus I too suffer to an extremely large degree from the undesirable behaviors I allude to above, resulting in people not liking me, and therefore my ideas, so it seems.

You're alright dude. :)

Thanks carapace, I appreciate it, and you are too. Know what I think? I think we're all all right, but we just can't see it, and we're too <?> to look.

Can something be done about it? I think so, but it has to start somewhere.

Perhaps we could all learn something from the kids in Hong Kong.


> I think we're all all right, but we just can't see it, and we're too <?> to look.

After thinking about it and actively investigating for about 30 years, I've come to much the same conclusion, I think: to wit, most people secretly enjoy their problems and suffering. I remember remarking to friends back in high school, in re: "going steady", that it seems like people are less interested in healthy relationships than in finding the kind of pain they favor.

IMO, We have all the answers.

1.) Early on I found my dad's Neurolinguistic Programming books in a box. Now (the other) NLP gets a lot of mostly-deserved flak for being pseudoscientific, but I understood it then pretty well (it grew out of the same Chomsky Transformational Grammar that informs programming language design, eh) and I can vouch for it's rigour and effectiveness. In a nutshell these folks have discovered the "operating system" of the mind.

The problem there is that first, most people still haven't heard about it, second, many who have dismiss it, and third, many of the people who practice and utilize it are working on marginal improvements (money, sex, etc.) rather than becoming better people.

(The old Illuminati slogan "Our method is science, our aim is religion." seems to me to resonate here. We have discovered the science, whither shall we aim?)

2.) I'm also a Bucky Fuller fanboy. He's an engineer who had a kind of spiritual epiphany one day on the banks of one of the Great Lakes and became a kind of secular techno-scientific messiah. He calculated that, by sometime in the 1970's, our technology would be advanced enough to provide for everyone on Earth "without disadvantaging anyone". During his life he traveled around the world ~85 times (IIRC) and was perhaps the most famous American outside of the USA for a time.

3.) Now that's before you factor in applied ecology (Permaculture, et. al.) Bill Mollison's "Permaculture Designer's Manual" is one of the finest manuals of design ever written, with ramifications way beyond farming and food production. (And with D. Blume's "Alcohol can be a Gas" there's even a model of integrated ecologically harmonious carbon-neutral fuel production. (Bonus: the emissions aren't poisonous.) Geoff Lawton is being pretty literal when he says, "You can solve all the world's problems in a garden."

1.) NLP, 2.) Bucky Fuller Design Science Revolution, and 3.) Applied Ecology taken together seem to me to be the obvious, fun, and easy way to Save the World! I'm not sure, what, if anything, to do about it though...

> to wit, most people secretly enjoy their problems and suffering. I remember remarking to friends back in high school, in re: "going steady", that it seems like people are less interested in healthy relationships than in finding the kind of pain they favor.

You're right, but while what's going on in threads like this one and others like it shares many similarities with that, I think it plays a minor role. My estimate of what "it" is, is simply: the human ego - the result of millions of years of crude evolution, forced to live in a world for which it has not yet developed appropriate behaviors, likely in no small part to the fact that our technical and humanitarian capabilities have largely brought evolution, biological at least, to a standstill. Our scientists and industrialists have transported us into the future on a physical level, but from an intellectual and spiritual perspective, we are still cavemen.

I agree with all your other ideas, and could add many of my own.

It's rare to encounter anyone who can see outside this bubble, but also possesses a rational mind. Or....an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out, which is typically what my experience has been in religious and spiritual communities.

Unfortunately neither of us have contact information, some day it would be nice to talk with someone else who sees the same things I do, or something reasonably similar. At the very least it would be enjoyable, and who knows, maybe something useful could even come out of it. Surely there must be others out there somewhere.

I missed this comment, sorry. FWIW I'm pretty much a recluse these days, this account on HN is my main comms channel to the rest of the world.

HN is indeed reactionary. How could it be otherwise considering the class character of its population?

That's precisely why it's important to fight against the consensus that communism somehow caused those famines. You'll get downvoted anyway, no need to pander to them.

I am curious as to why you are willing to accept the scientific consensus on climate change while denying the historical consensus that communism absolutely lead to the death of millions. Seems like you are picking and choosing to fit your narrative.

If it were true, sure. The historical consensus is absolutely not that, though. Things like "The Black Book of Communism" have long been discredited. If you look past the ubiquitous capitalist propaganda and instead look at primary sources, you'll see a very different story.

Even if it were somehow true, capitalism directly leads to the deaths of millions every year. It has historically caused most wars, including both world wars. Why would anyone defend it?


They also make a great publication imho. Supporting good journalism these days is a lot more valuable to me than boycotting bad SEO practices.

Good journalism cannot survive if bad SEO practices become dominant. They are opposed: bad SEO practices are fundamentally about lying, while good journalism if fundamentally about telling hard truths.

How are bad SEO practices fundamentally about lying? What are bad SEO practices?

You make it seem as if one rules out the other.

In this case yes, wasn't that the point of using the other url?

The grandparent LITERALLY said: "Here is a URL so you do not have to support them" (emphasis mine)

What patterns and what black SEO? I actually thought that their $20 for 12 weeks offer sounded interesting to see if I’d actually read more than what lands on my screen via HN.

Just turn off JS 4Head, the content will load with no paywall. Also, please elaborate on these "dark practices"

For one, there is no way to cancel your subscription online.

I had no difficulty cancelling my subscription online with a 30 second email. It was a much smoother experience than most other subscriptions which require you to recall some login you set years ago.


It is completely ludicrous to not offer a way to cancel your subscription online in 2019.

Bloomberg seems to be fine with it

Is that a real place? Rajastan?

Yes, one of the states in India. Means "land of kings" in Hindi I think.

Thats what I meant. Rajastan is nothing, "Rajasthan" is a place.

Rajasthan is.

Is adding a credit card the only way to subscribe? I avoid companies who offer only CC payments specifically for that reason.

Why the downvote? Turning off JS works for me.

Why not call out the specific practices?

What’s wrong with SEO anyway?


Or we invest heavily in renewables and/or nuclear, insulate our homes and replace ICE vehicles with public transport, bikes, and electric cars and get 80% of the way to carbon neutrality with negligible changes to our lifestyle.

You forgot: stop producing meat as a daily commodity.

While I have personally found not eating meat to be an easy lifestyle change, I'm sure many people will disagree.

Easier: stop eating meat that you do not actually want. I ate cold cut or sausages for breakfast or dinner not because I actually wanted to but because it was there and I was used to eating it. Easiest way to change is to shop differently. Buy less meat-products to have less of them in the fridge, buy other tasty things instead to have them easily available.

By the way - this also means that you can eat all the meat you actually want. Cutting back on the meat you eat on auto-pilot will go a long way already.

Edit: inspired by a reply, I think that a rule like

Don't eat meat, except if you really want to

might be even more promising. It takes away the cognitive load of the decisions whether to eat meat or not while being an unfailable method because it includes exceptions to the rule by itself. You're not out just because you really wanted that burger or a steak at the barbecue.

I agree somewhat, but as someone who stopped eating meat two months ago: The reduction of cognitive overhead is definitively a huge plus: "Has it meat in it? Don't buy" – this is a way simpler rule than trying to figure out the question "is this meat on auto-pilot or is it not?"

The reduction of choices in restaurants, malls and grocery stores is actually liberating in a way. You should try going meat-free for a month, just for seeing how it makes things a lot easier.

The next step would be to go vegan, because the dairy industry is no better than the meat industry, but I haven't done this yet. This actually increases the mental load somewhat again, because you then have to pay a lot more attention on whether something has dairy in it or not (or is made with the help of animal products such as juice).

Your approach sounds a lot easier in that regard. Let me explain the reasoning behind mine:

The important idea was to have the 'failure' case being somewhat acceptable. It's not an either-or situation where you either are a vegetarian or not.

It's meant to be a method to deal with weakness. Consuming a fraction of the meat than before is better than being a vegetarian for maybe five weeks before everything falls apart.

Combining both approaches might even be the best way: Don't eat meat, except if you really want to sounds simple enough.

100% this, not to mention people waste so much food.

Let’s say %50 of the world populace find it easy and stop eating meat.

This is a good reduction, keep up the good work!

No way. Renewable energy still need a lot of maintenance/resources which are still heavily carbonated. Same for electric cars.

Changing the way we move is good, but there is still the model of consumption that needs to be changed : eating bananas that crossed oceans by boat, plane traffic and so on.

Yeah bikes are good, but we still need to consume less. Much less.

What you call 80% carbon neutrality is from a perspective of someone living in an desindustrialized country. But you still expect to have smartphones or computers produced at the other end of the world.

How are you going to insulate the farms?

How do you get from "we should regulate production of fossil fuels" to "the state is trying to take away our personal freedom"?

Lots of harmful industries are heavily regulated already (tobacco comes to mind). Those regulations did not take us down a slippery slope, nor did they result in a fascist/dystopian society. Quite the opposite: lots of people are alive today because of those regulations.

You can smugly enjoy the freedom to watch ecosystems disappear, or you can be constructive about the changes needed.

If the people on the right don’t like the remedies of the left, let them come up with an alternative climate change strategy that is not some form of head-in-sand policy.

People already came up with a solution: fast breeder nuclear reactors. Western activists are just not interested in considering the solution.

This ship has sailed, deal with it.

No matter how useful it might have been, we won't get nuclear back and especially not back in time. Maybe we can at least make it disappear later in some places than in others. France seem to be well-positioned to stick to nuclear for a while for example.

And what possible technology could completely de-carbonize the electric grid in time? Because last I check there are no scalable battery solutions which could feasibly be ramped up in ten years time.

I don't think complete de-carbonization of the electric grid is possible in this timeframe, we will need to achieve the results but with smaller savings across all industries.

Those are few and far between, so unlikely to reach full scale deployment in time.

OP's proposal is one of the right's solutions to climate change. They just described a form of ecofascism.

Why do you say it's one of the right's solutions? Seems like this is the logical conclusion of some of the directions proposed by the left.

> If the people on the right don’t like the remedies of the left, let them come up with an alternative climate change strategy that is not some form of head-in-sand policy.

Ironically, this sentence itself seems smug and non-constructive.

> Ironically, this sentence itself seems smug and non-constructive.

As does that one. So, I will add more clarification.

I propose that we here on HN (if not us, then who?) try to consider the idea that the problem with resolving the climate change issue is not primarily a technical one, but more of a political, societal, psychological, and spiritual one. Scientists and industrialists are already well-equipped with the knowledge and technology to solve the problem on a physical level. That piece of this complex puzzle is solved, at least well enough. It is now up to the rest of us to create the environment in which we can get our asses moving and deploy the necessary changes to production.

So, what shall we do about it? Might it be useful to treat this project like any other, and if there are hangups in getting things done, turn to traditional project management solutions? We need to get buy in from the key players, and this is where things are a bit non-traditional, because the key players are far more diverse, complex, and inconsistent than in traditional projects. So, might it be pragmatic to accept this reality, analyze this situation, and start coming up with new ideas (that take into consideration the unusual and unfortunate complexities) to overcome this blockage? It seems to me, the approach we are currently taking isn't working very well, and the clock is ticking.

Nuclear power and building dikes.

But like all solutions it should have been 20-30 years ago.

The only explanation I can find for this comment is that it's meant to be a hyperbolic satire, from someone whose views may be hyperbolically satirized as "all goverment and regulation is an affront to my inaliable right to dump toxic waste everywhere".

I know your comment is satirical, but unfortunately I know quite a few people, in wealthy countries, for whom an 11 by 11 square cell of their own would be a welcome upgrade to their current, smaller, precariously rented space.

Is it satirical? I dont think it is? If so, should have an /s tag...

Yeah I stayed in a 7 x 9 room in Brooklyn for a few months WITH my GF. That shit was carbon efficient, but damn it was depressing.

I think what the GP is trying to say is that there are a lot of people - like your past self - where an 11x11 room would be better than what they have now. It's a tangent to the point of the unaffordability of housing in large cities these days.

You are joking, but current organization of humans is very wasteful and limiting to development. Apart from the resource burning consumerism, growing complexity of knowledge and technology would probably end up requiring segregation and specialization either way, so that some people would raise children and other people would devote their lifetimes to complex fields of knowledge, which of course implies an authority would have to provide for people. None of this have to be more limiting to almost everyone's personal freedoms than they are already limited today though.

Have you thought of a career in Murdoch journalism? The totally disconnected from reality, non-ironic yet feeble attempt to cast shade on Green New Deal that could come straight from the Daily Mail or one of his titles. Or write fantasy BoJo opinion columns for the Telegraph.

Instead of going for a mega city comic book dystopia, would it not make a lot more sense to go somewhere that can be achieved in some measure in reality? How about some common-sense constraints of capitalism? I imagine we can get most of the way there with an appropriate revenue neutral carbon tax, with an end of profit as the sole arbiter of business, with the end of ignoring the inconvenient (externalities and globalisation) that allow limitless race to the bottom whilst completely ignoring labour, pollution and other related issues.

I just sold my ground level condo in nyc for pennies on the dollar. Rushing to get out before we’re underwater.

Climate change will make new jobs we haven’t even imagined yet. Chill, people.

It's not about the jobs, it's about our continued ability to grow food and maintain a relatively peaceful world order.

Siberia is gonna be a great place to grow food after the climate changes.

Insufficient, will never be met, and who cares. Humans don't affect climate anyway.

Since when did science become about predicting what will happen in the future? That concept is completely antithetical to what science is at the core (i.e. making repeatable observations to establish fact). It is impossible to measure and observe something that has yet to happen.

A computer climate model cannot predict the future. Believing so is magical thinking and clearly unscientific by definition.

I understand that observed trends tend to indicate future direction but this push, rooted in FUD, to make consensus of the scientific community equivalent to absolute fact is a reminder that all humans can have fragility in their logic and thinking in the face of fear.

If those in power who say they believe the consensus were really concerned with climate change to the existential degree they claim they would propose forcing India and China to curb emissions up to and including war if necessary. The truth is they see it as a means to their political ends. They see it as a blank check to expand the government's control over everyone's lives. If you don't believe me read the green new deal legislation proposed earlier this year. It reworks the whole of society around a certain political ideology using future predictions about climate change as justification.

I would place just as much blame for climate problems on those in the democratic party using climate change to further their ideology as I do the outright climate deniers.

Everyday people commenting on reddit and HN may be pure in their intentions but the average politician on either side just uses the topic as a leverage for their own political and monetary interest.

> Since when did science become about predicting what will happen in the future?

Since evidence based policy making became a thing. We use it for deciding when to plant crops, deciding what medical treatments should be broadly implemented, deciding what water treatment methods are acceptable...it's fairly popular.

> That concept is completely antithetical to what science is at the core (i.e. making repeatable observations to establish fact).

Either what you have established holds repeatably and you are predicting the future, or it doesn't hold repeatably and it's not, by your definition, science. You may be confusing repeatable experiments with repeatable observations, though.

> I understand that observed trends tend to indicate future direction but this push, rooted in FUD, to make consensus of the scientific community equivalent to absolute fact

At this point the observations are enough where it's an absolute fact. The only question is how much, how fast. That's what the computer modeling is trying to get a handle on.

Plus, your argument is equivalent to playing Russian roulette and claiming that the presence of a bullet somewhere in the gun is not an established fact. That's true. You don't know if it might be loaded. But do you really want to find out?

> Since evidence based policy making became a thing. We use it for deciding when to plant crops, deciding what medical treatments should be broadly implemented, deciding what water treatment methods are acceptable...it's fairly popular.

Thanks for the smug talking down to. :) However your comparison here is ridiculous. We can easily measure crop out comes, water treatment outcomes, and medical outcomes because in the past actual experiments were done that showed what worked and didn't in that situation.

The climate on the other hand is completely different. We don't have a second one to use as a control. The scale is too large to fully factor in all inputs and outputs. It is just not the same at all as the things you mention.

> Plus, your argument is equivalent to playing Russian roulette and claiming that the presence of a bullet somewhere in the gun is not an established fact.

I am not the type to choose security over giving up the personal freedoms and rights of myself and my fellow humans just in case someone's computer model turns out to be accurate.

In any case, your analogy is actually very poor. You can check and be 100% sure if a gun is loaded. You can't check what will happen to the climate in 50 years because it hasn't happened and we don't currently have the knowledge or capability to truly required to truly know what will happen with the climate.

> Thanks for the smug talking down to. :)

Absolutely. There's a lot of people who don't understand how science works outside of a parochial impression from physics, and if I can't get some pleasure from dealing with it, then why bother?

> We don't have a second one to use as a control.

Like all observational sciences, basically.

> In any case, your analogy is actually very poor. You can check and be 100% sure if a gun is loaded.

All analogies can be strained out of usefulness.

> You can't check what will happen to the climate in 50 years because it hasn't happened

We already did. We're fifty years in and seeing the effects.

> You don't know if it might be loaded. But do you really want to find out?

This is a really great analogy.

Pumping more and more GHG into the atmosphere is the stupidest experiment ever. Like poking a sleeping lion harder and harder.

The analogy is actually very poor. You can check and be 100% sure if a gun is loaded. You can't check what will happen to the climate in 50 years because it hasn't happened and we don't currently have the knowledge or capability to truly know what will happen with the climate.

And please don't tell me that doing something just in case we're right is better than doing nothing. There is a great cost to enacting the climate policies that have been proposed, both human and financial.

> Since when did science become about predicting what will happen in the future?

The very definition of science is making testable predictions.

I 100% agree. But you're missing the point entirely. The hypothesis of the mechanics climate change have been tested and are provably true. What has not been born out and is definitely not a testable prediction is whether certain measure are enough, that particular weather events are due to climate change, that humanity is likely doomed, etc. These are emotional responses not testable predictions.

Modelling has its limitations but those are well understood by the people building the models, which is why they predict a range of outcomes and uncertainty rises with time. Most of the uncertainty in current models has to do with the complexities of cloud formation.

We've had usefully predictive models for over 50 years now. The first real paper model from 1967 successfully predicted warming up to the current day.

Science is all about making testable predictions, you're way overconfident in your incorrect definition. Have you forgotten Einstein's theory relied on the total solar eclipse and the resulting gravitational lensing of our star? He made a prediction and it was found correct, validating his theory. Unless you think Einstein is not a scientist?

Please don't be reductive. Sure what you're calling a prediction is really just a hypothesis. What I am saying is that we are treating the hypothesis of climate change as fact before there is clear evidence that the predicted bad outcomes will actually occur.

In Einstein's case we were able to make observations and conduct experiments that bore out the hypothesis.

In the case of climate change this isn't possible. We don't have a second climate to use as a control. We don't have the capability to do experiments that accurately consider the infinite input and outputs that make up the climate as a whole. Science has its limits and they are mainly human.

Tell me what experiment we can do today that accurately includes every aspect of our climate that proves doom is certain.

If the best you can give is likelihoods or possibilities that is not a scientific fact so quit acting like it is and lets have a reasonable discussion.

There are many, many things we can do to take better care of our climate but being alarmist and using fear to get the public on board with your politics is a categorically a bad thing.

All informed decision making is made on the basis of probabilities. You're setting an impossibly and arbitrarily high threshold for action on climate change.

The burden of proof is on you to explain how CO2 levels not seen for 3 million years won't have a major impact on the biosphere.

This is an inaccurate representation of science.

> what science is at the core (i.e. making repeatable observations to establish fact)

These "facts" are predictions about what will happen in the future.

Physics tells us what will happen to physical systems, e.g. our understanding of gravity tells us what will happen to a system of masses in the future.

Chemistry tells us what will happen to chemical systems, e.g. our understanding of reactions tells us what will happen to interacting chemicals.

Medical research tells us what will happen to your body and disease when some agent is introduced to the system.

Climate science tells us what will happen to the climate, and it is based on the same concepts as the most fundamental and rigorous science: thermodynamics. If more heat enters than leaves a system, the temperature will increase. There is nothing unscientific here.

> Climate science tells us what will happen to the climate, and it is based on the same concepts as the most fundamental and rigorous science: thermodynamics. If more heat enters than leaves a system, the temperature will increase. There is nothing unscientific here.

The climate isn't that simple. It's unfathomably complex. There are an infinite number of inputs and outputs. What repeatable experiment can accurately and repeatedly recreate this?

So your simplistic argument is just handwaving.

> There are an infinite number of inputs and outputs.

No, there are a finite number of particles in a finite space making up the Earth's climate.

> The climate isn't that simple. It's unfathomably complex.

Nothing is simple unless you simplify it.

A baseball is an unfathomably complex collection of billions of billions of particles interacting with the entire universe until you abstract it to a simple Newtonian point mass, but you'll still make all the relevant predictions to >99% accuracy.

Global warming can be accurately modeled by a very simple system:

There is the atmosphere, the ocean, the Earth itself, and the rest of the universe.

Over any finite time period there is a simple real number change in the temperature of these 4 subsystems modeled by thermodynamics, and there can be no net change in temperature due to conservation laws.

Can we predict these changes as accurately as we can predict simple Newtonian systems? No. But we can still predict them to a good degree of accuracy in the short term.

Science doesn't have a great history of predicting politics.

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