Why climate change is good for the world - "Don't panic! The scientific consensus is that warmer temperatures do more good than harm" https://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/10/carry-on-warming/
His tenure at Northern Rock does not inspire confidence:
The man who crocked Northern Rock - and how the scandal will cost £55 BILLION https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1026384/The-man-cro...
Lessons of the fall - "How a financial darling fell from grace, and why regulators didn't catch it" https://www.economist.com/briefing/2007/10/18/lessons-of-the...
Northern Rock chairman quits after crisis https://www.euronews.com/2007/10/19/northern-rock-chairman-q...
Matt Ridley would turn planet into Northern Rock https://theecologist.org/2018/nov/05/matt-ridley-would-turn-...
I read his book Genome years ago and thought it was a moderately interesting primer on the revolution in genetic research starting to unfold in the wake of the Human Genome Project.
I'm sorry to discover Viscount Ridley turned out to be such a hack:
Do you have any specific disagreement with anything he wrote? Because it seemed to be an interesting article with many things in it I didn't know, written in an engaging style.
From glancing through the comments below it seems people are angry because this guy isn't angry, and doesn't believe the world is doomed.
Why climate change is good for the world - "Don't panic! The scientific consensus is that warmer temperatures do more good than harm"
You don't explicitly pass judgement on this, apparently believing climate sensitivity and impact of small temperature changes is so obvious as to be beyond doubt. But there's a lot of doubt about how sensitive the climate really is. Climatology is very far from being a precise and well understood science, and that's before you get into some of the questionable scientific practices found inside.
The article is, again, well written and makes good arguments. It starts by citing a scientific meta-study into the economic impacts and goes from there. It also acknowledges the possible counter-arguments.
For those who are interested in the question of climate sensitivity Nic Lewis (a published climate scientist and skeptic), has some good talks on the matter, like this one:
Let't take a look. Here's a report when it was published. Even one of the people Mr Lewis cites disputes his claims.
The "good news" the IPCC apparently tried to hide is that the world's climate system is less sensitive to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than some scientists think it is.
The bad news for the GWPF – a secretly funded organisation founded by UK climate science sceptic Lord Nigel Lawson - is that before the ink has even dried on their new report, the organisation has been accused of cherry-picking facts to make their argument stick.
And in more bad news, one of the researchers cited by the GWPF report has told me that even if Lawson's think tank is right, then we're heading for 3C of global heating by the end of the century (which is actually very bad news).
Good prose does not make a good scientific or factual argument. It is as you say, just "good talks", or hot air. Lawson was so bad at denial that his appearances on the BBC were more a black comedy five minutes than actual contrarianism.
> Perhaps one of the least fashionable predictions I made nine years ago was that ‘the ecological footprint of human activity is probably shrinking’ and ‘we are getting more sustainable, not less, in the way we use the planet’. That is to say: our population and economy would grow, but we’d learn how to reduce what we take from the planet. And so it has proved. An MIT scientist, Andrew McAfee, recently documented this in a book called More from Less, showing how some nations are beginning to use less stuff: less metal, less water, less land. Not just in proportion to productivity: less stuff overall.
...and what you're leaving out here is that this is far too little, far too late. This is like noting a decrease in the number of iceburg collisions in the last hours before the Titanic sank.
This is NOT a cause for optimism. We're destroying the environment at a slower rate, but that doesn't mean we're not destroying the environment.
What we are doing is reducing the rate at which our damage grows.
Reduction in acceleration is not reduction in velocity or reversal.
We are using natural resources at a rate which is constantly increasing, and the rate of increase is increasing as well.
On the off-chance that you are actually asking this question in good faith to try to learn something, I'd start by looking at the Wikipedia page on Global Warming.
Also, correct me if I'm wrong, global warming is not caused by the rate at which we are using natural resources but by the amount of CO2 we are putting in the atmosphere.
I don't think the question asked is important, because it's not even specific enough to be coherent. For starters, what is X? If X is "oil", the answer is a lot different from if X is "sunlight", and asking about "resources" as if that broad category is a coherent entity is not going to yield any useful information.
> Also, correct me if I'm wrong, global warming is not caused by the rate at which we are using natural resources but by the amount of CO2 we are putting in the atmosphere.
Well, yes. But they're related questions: consuming fossil fuels and meat produces a lot of our carbon emissions.
It gets earlier nearly every year. This year was July 29th. In 1987 it was October 23rd. So right now we need 1.7 earths to sustainably supply what we are taking.
This measure focuses on renewable resources. Our point of non-sustainability may worsen markedly if we include non-renewable resources and other forms of pollution.
Water is more of a local problem. Desalination is getting cheaper, but any region that just drains their aquifers without transitioning to either a sustainable amount of water use or a sustainable water source will be in for a lot of pain.
Our consumption of metals is honestly fine. Most are easy to recycle, and it looks like we will figure out asteroid mining before we come close to running out of anything.
Oil will take care of itself through economics as long as we figure out how to (re)capture the released CO2.
Maybe I'm misreading this - but is the productivity of Subsistence farming so much better than that of more industrial farming methods, and if so why would we not just switch all farms to using same methods that Subsistence farmers do?
Will it have better crop yields than modern farming techniques? Then maybe? I mean for that efficiency it may be worth it. I still find the claim astounding and I would love to see some citation for it though rather than some anecdotes on waste less.
1. Diet (subsistence farmers probably eat less meat, beef in particular; beef has an absurd environment footprint in on basically all metrics).
2. Food waste (the transport of food and delay between production and consumption of food is a major source of food waste; food doesn't spoil in the grocery store waiting to be bought if it is never in a grocery store).
3. Better per-acre yield (which would be surprising, given that for major crops, per-acre yields increased by 3-10x over the last century of industrial farming).
I'm saying I don't think 3 is the case at all, and that mostly 1 and maybe 2 explain the difference adequately.
Presumably, American city dwellers waste more food than subsistence farmers, but that factor is dwarfed by such measures as CO2 production. As the article describes.
Which as I pointed out I find hard to believe and would like to see supporting evidence for.
Futher, if the CO2 production of subsistence farming methods for the same output is so much lower - why not switch all food production to those?
I really would like to see something to support the claims in this article.
I think we're rapidly approaching the point where the youngest people are going to abandon "civil" methods of change. They're being faced with a world they won't be able to live in, and are derided, mocked, parodied, and of course denied any kind of power to exact the changes needed.
They are denied authority on public media platforms.
>Who says what changes are needed and when?
this is a completely disingenuous question (both are really) since we all here are aware of climate change abatement recommendations
By their account, we need to change the basis of our economy, and we should have started 10 or 20 years ago, so today would be the latest that can save some areas.
The power to enact this change is denied to everyone who will suffer from it.
Do you have suggestions?
Individuals can’t, by and large, make the minds of changes necessary to avert the oncoming climate disaster.
A big part of the issue is that individual incentives are misaligned, which is exactly where government is supposed to step in: realign incentives such that the individually optimal choice is compatible with averting global catastrophe. Expecting billions of individuals to act against their own individual self-interest is lunacy.
Even if your questions are sincere, it became clear a long time ago that they were not contributing to a genuine conversation.
What's yours is yours and what's mine is mine, but the planet and the presumption of a climate compatible with civilization are shared. It is owned neither by you nor me, and this necessitates an agreement where neither of us agree to exploit it for our own self-benefit at the detriment of others.
Is it against your set of values that we both agree to drive on same side of the road? If one of of us fails to do so, the government will step in and deprive the offender of their property and freedoms. As a result, we both benefit from the increased reliability and safety of transportation afforded by us agreeing to abide by the same set of rules.
> By that value, I’m ok with life as we know it ending if that means that individuals liberties will be kept.
> On the other hand, it seems like you don’t mind if a few million people die when we force third world countries to reduce their carbon emission by asking them to shut down coal plants and other processes generating carbon.
You literally state you're okay with "life as we know it ending" as a result of your absurdly rigid philosophy, but somehow you project me as being okay with millions of people dying.
As a sibling commenter said, your entire reply is essentially you clarifying that—yes—you are indeed arguing in bad faith. You've declared as ground rules a completely indefensible moral philosophy and have declared that anything opposing it is inherently wrong. This isn't a path to a productive conversation, and while I suspect you know that, it's a great way to make yourself feel superior and feel like you've "won" the argument when others don't agree to play by your rigged set of rules.
As to your point about third world countries, as we saw from reporting of the COP25 the other week, it is the poor (third world) countries complaining not enough is being done. It is the wealthier nations who are being difficult.
Please explicate how you believe millions of people will die by virtue of shutting down foreign coal plants?
You can't drive as fast as you like or run an unsafe factory, or lock all the fire exits. It's not merely that one may not act in such a way as would immediately harm or impose upon the other. One also may not act in such a way as will ultimately on the overall bring about harm even indirectly by changing the parameters of the system.
At our present trajectory of each nation choosing the head morons in a myriad ways every n years and trying to respond only to immediate needs it seems likely that our actions will degrade our planet and with it our and our children's and their children's chances at health and wealth or even existence.
We need therefore a critical mass of citizens all over the world to make our continued survival as a species a priority. This will at some point logically in any given nation at some point be a minority, then a slim majority then an solid one. Any action undertaken will by definition be imposed on the ones that disagree and there will always be dissenters in any action under the sun. Some 30% of the US for example believes the earth is 6000 years old and we heading towards a future in which Jesus will either fix everything or take us somewhere else. They are as fundamentally unfit to make decisions about our future as crazy people on a life boat and we cannot all survive if we allow them to eat all the food and poke holes in the boat.
Oh, that's right, that's "forcing anything into others." So, I guess...learn to swim?
You are not an island. Neither am I. If we only act in our own individual best interests, we denigrate society as a whole. We are social animals. We do our best work and are at our most capable when we work together.
Individualism is fine enough for small communities. On the world stage, we need to get past our petty bullshit if we want to continue living the way we do on this planet. And the worst part is failure to do so will not affect those who failed, but their children, and their grandchildren.
I don't think humanity will die off. We're too clever for that. But our world will look quite different in many ways in a few hundred years, and good luck explaining to our children that, well, Amazon Prime was just too good to let go of.
A metaphor: You and your fellow fishermen live in a bog. The bog's water level is kept just so to allow for optimum fishing, and this is accomplished with a dam that was installed many years ago by your ancestors. However, one year the fishing isn't great, and you and your fellow fishermen are now working extra long days to make up for the bad fishing, and to keep your output strong and your family fed. One of the villagers explains that the dam is leaking; it's causing the water to rise, which is messing with the fishing and also threatening the village at large.
Your individual interest is to keep fishing, because you're already having trouble meeting your goals for fish to sell. Now more than ever. You might say something like "I can't help fix the dam, I'm barely making ends meet as it is! I don't have time!" And your fellow fishermen will say the same. But the fishermen are the only ones who know how to patch leaks in boats, so no one else in the village can do the work.
In this example, your individual needs are legitimate, and your objection to fixing the dam is correct; if you take time to fix the dam instead of fish, your family will go hungry. However, if no one fixes the damn, then everyone's home could be flooded, the fishing will continue to get worse, until the entire village is destroyed.
This would be where some kind of authority would come into play, either a tribal leader, or some elected official, who could step in and say "No fishermen. Today you will fix the dam, and in return, we will feed your families while you do so with the village food stocks." It's directly opposed to their individual interests, but is in alignment with the group's interests. And nobody goes hungry.
This incredibly simple stuff is what has made mankind the dominant species on the planet. The ability to not just group together, but to perceive and understand larger threats to that group and react accordingly with proactive solutions, and is the lack of that activity, because, as Greta Thunberg best put it I think, the leaders are too busy telling each other fairy tales of infinite economic growth, that we are now in trouble.
For part of my opinion see my response below.
As for the other part, I just say that it is naive to expect “someone” to fix the worlds problems. No government or authority can fix it.
If the two fisherman can’t get in an agreement for the greater good and they both die, so be it.
What we can’t do is use apparently good excuses that will hurt and kill millions of people for the “greater good”.
When we demand that countries lower their emissions what we are doing is forcing them in poverty, hunger and death.
The world is not made by super advanced countries like US or European ones.
For people fighting for food on a daily basis these kinds of demands are simply not achievable.
Literally this is what the EU fish quota fixes - although in that case it's the risk of the fish dying out.
> When we demand that countries lower their emissions what we are doing is forcing them in poverty, hunger and death.
Not reducing emissions also does that in many cases. Large areas of Bangladesh are predicted to be physically underwater, for example.
Ever seen the painting "Bastille Day"? There are always options when the powerful fail the powerless. Large amounts of modern society were put in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but if the leadership is intent on making those protections ineffective, well, there's always guillotines again.
So you'd also need fire.
Because "Of course you should fight fire with fire. You should fight everything with fire".
If you're going to say that all green types are nuts because everything is hunky dory, you have to at least put in some claim that the Earth isn't even really warming, or isn't warming as much as we thought, or that rapid warming is good. Any of them would be false, but you've at least got to try.
Always focusing on the negative and problems has many thinking there has not been positive movement, has left people with more anxiety and depressions, and causes hordes of other problems.
Celebrating and talking about positives is important. It doesn't mean all things are hunky dory. But, it's healthy to do.
In particular, what parts were ranty? I didn't see anything that would rise to the level of a rant. It's remarkably good natured given the invectives routinely dished out by those who would disagree.
It seems to depend very much on where you are:
Countries with an aggregate population today of roughly six billion will suffer for it, though.
I often wonder about that. It could also be that our collective attention can only handle one big emergency at the time, and we make that our sole focus.
I would not be surprised if in some years another emergency will dominate the news. Maybe its about ecocide then, large-scale collapse of ecosystems due to a combination of overfishing, poaching, natural habitat destruction and pollution. And man-made climate change only an additional factor in that.
Where exactly are you getting this from? It's certainly not from the science.
If you're going to argue this pedantically, perhaps don't start by claiming you know the opinions of every scientist, because if we're being pedantic, that's obviously not true.
Less pedantically, I think we agree that probably humans will survive global warming. But I think that we can agree that there's a temperature that's not survivable, even if we don't know what temperature that is. There's no long-term upper bound on how hot earth can get, and we're modeling uncharted territory: earth has never been as hot as it's going to get, while life has been on earth. So we really don't know how bad it will get. There is some chance that global warming will literally wipe out humanity, and given the stakes, I think that's a significant risk we need to be addressing.
Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum 
The associated period of massive carbon release into the atmosphere has been estimated to have lasted from 20,000 to 50,000 years. The entire warm period lasted for about 200,000 years. Global temperatures increased by 5–8 °C. Paired δ13C, δ11B, and δ18O data suggest that ~12000 Gt of carbon (at least 44000 Gt CO
2e) were released over 50,000 years, averaging 0.24 Gt per year.
Since at least 1997, the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum has been investigated in geoscience as an analog to understand the effects of global warming and of massive carbon inputs to the ocean and atmosphere, including ocean acidification. Humans today emit about 10 Gt of carbon per year, and will have released a comparable amount in about 1,000 years at that rate.
Take a look also at "Abrupt climate change" article :
Timescales of events described as 'abrupt' may vary dramatically. Changes recorded in the climate of Greenland at the end of the Younger Dryas, as measured by ice-cores, imply a sudden warming of +10 °C (+18 °F) within a timescale of a few years. Other abrupt changes are the +4 °C (+7.2 °F) on Greenland 11,270 years ago or the abrupt +6 °C (11 °F) warming 22,000 years ago on Antarctica.
I mean that's even less scientific than what climate deniers say.
Is this what the world has come to? You have two camps: climate deniers, and climate alarmists, neither party caring in the slightest about science?
By that reasoning, literally everything is an existential threat to humanity.
It was alluded to in this section (ctrl-f "emissions"):
>> A wind farm requires far more concrete and steel than an equivalent system based on gas. Environmental opposition to nuclear power has hindered the generating system that needs the least land, least fuel and least steel or concrete per megawatt. Burning wood instead of coal in power stations means the exploitation of more land, the eviction of more woodpeckers — and even higher emissions.
Interesting. I wonder how much power is available from that.
I'm not convinced it's all waste product.
> Europe imported more than 4 million tons of wood pellets from US forests last year and wrote it all off as renewable energy.
Coal is very energy dense. Imports and other automated machinery like wood-cutting machines, planes for seed planting all burn oil. If you import coal and import wood, you could end up burning a lot more fuel with the wood option.
Now, that's kind of a tricky form of accounting because it would make wood burning worse from the perspective of the importing country only. But the carbon was still pulled out of the atmosphere in the exporting country.
The real reason wood burning/planting doesn't make much sense for reducing emissions is just one of scale. You end up needing to plant billions of trees to balance even just airline travel, let alone everything else. There isn't enough space short of terraforming deserts and other very energy intensive activities that probably wouldn't balance.
What I think the author misses is the interplay between pessimists identifying problems and innovators creating solutions. A voice identifying a severe problem is important, but do is the own saying “we got this, let’s fix it.”
1. We know is that there's a range of temperatures where humans have thrived for hundreds of thousands of years, and life has thrived for millions of years.
2. We also know that there's a range of temperatures where it will be too hot for humans to survive.
3. We also know that global temperature is changing from the former to the latter.
Given these three facts I don't think we need to know what the ideal temperature of the earth is to be concerned.
The issue is the effects of moderate temperature increases, rising sea levels, changing farming, etc. so it’s a mass disruption to our civilization (migration, resource wars, etc.) Not that we’ll literally be too hot and can’t somehow survive that as a species.
Humans live in Australian Outback and Alaska. We are adaptable, but the growing pains are not pleasant, hence the problem to civilization.
Really, when? How much hotter was it in the past?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t fix the issue. I’m saying the argument that the average temperature will be unlivable is bad. It’s like saying bullets kill people because of the lead content, not the process of getting injected. The process of climate change will impact us most, not the impact of the temperature on our biology.
We do have to be careful playing with the chemistry of the atmosphere of the only habitable planet we have.
The argument that extra CO2 or a few degrees C will be unlivable for humans is laughable. The changes to our civilization from this is not (farming, weather patterns, mass migrations).
Just saying, it's not like there's a law of nature that keeps Earth habitable for humans. We should be aware of that. I think you're shifting the goalposts -- earlier you seemed quite confident that there wasn't a period within hundreds of millions of years that wouldn't have been habitable by humans. Have I changed your mind about that?
I don't think anyone who worries about climate change as an existential threat is thinking of sea level rise, a few degrees C and a few hundred ppm of carbon doing us in. Those could make life quote difficult at most. But it's the feedbacks that might run away from there, which are very hard to bound. How quickly might a few hundred ppm become a few thousand, if methane hydrates start to off-gas? Etc.
How confident can you be that it won't happen, when the Earth has carried itself away before?
Earlier posters made it seem like the problem with climate change was that earth was moving out of a narrow temperature band that supported human life. We live in the arctic, jungles, deserts, ice ages, mountaintops. We will be fine. The problem is the transition’s impact on our existing civilization (sea level change, new weather patterns), not the final temperature.
Let me put it this way: if we discovered earth 100 years in the future, even with our current climate change rate, we would rejoice about how easily it could be colonized (vs Mars, the moon, etc).
The climate will get hotter, and it’ll still be quite livable in places. This is the equivalent of people who think earth is in the “just right” orbit, if it were 10 feet off in either direction the planet would freeze or burn. And yet the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun varies by millions of miles, and we don’t light on fire when climbing a ladder. We don’t die because someone left the AC 5 degrees too hot or cold.
If you can, please let me know what you think of the image on page 6.
Mind you this is an unproven theory about the end permian mass extinction. But it's an interesting perspective on what could cause the whole planet to become uninhabitable, rather than just shifting the comfortable zone farther to the poles. I'm curious about your thoughts on, if it did happen that way, how long humans would last in such conditions.
Humans are hardy and adaptable, but so are insects, birds, rats, and many other species. Somehow the end permian extinction killed up to 96% of all species, including even insects and the formerly ubiquitous trilobite, and apparently nowhere on Earth was spared. Land vertebrates were almost wiped out.
I also appreciate the optimism about mars colonies, but we actually haven't demonstrated the technology or robustness to even sustain a colony on Antarctica without outside support. If we did set up a mars colony, I'm skeptical that it could last even a hundred years on its own. Technology is a powerful tool but supporting cement factories, steel mills, silicon fabs, power plants, farms, and everything else, in a self-sustaining way, really requires a habitable planet. I don't think it would be possible to sustain in an underground bunker for very long.
I hardly know enough to comment on whether that is likely. But I think it's a much better argument about why the Earth will be uninhabitable for us specifically.
(That said, it doesn't really matter if the earth eventually becomes uninhabitable or not, we want to avoid the cost of having to move everyone for even minor sea level rises.)
You're asking leading questions which contain a lot of presuppositions, and you're ignoring my post in which I specifically reject those presuppositions, which makes it hard for me to believe that you're just trying to learn.
Before a region get's there consistently, it'll be that way intermittently and many people who can leave probably will because even in the high 20's and low 30's it'll significantly impact humans ability to do things.
Let’s assume that’s the number.
What I, as an individual, can do to help?
This serves for all the other commenters complaining about my responses.
If you can’t provide something that I can do as an individual I can’t help you.
It doesn’t matter how much we complain about how governments are not doing what they are supposed to if we can’t start with the smallest organizational unit of our planet which is the individual.
2. Consume less.
3. When you must consume, buy used (much of the carbon footprint of many products comes from producing the item).
4. Buy more local goods (much of the carbon footprint of many products comes from transporting them long distances).
5. Travel less, and more carbon-efficiently. Live closer to where you work. Walk > bike > public transit > cars.
6. Stop arguing that climate change doesn't exist.
7. Spend a few minutes researching the answers to your own questions before going on the internet and arguing that environmentalists don't have any answers. There's a wealth of information out there, and lots of people who are trying very hard to educate people, who would be happy to educate you if you asked questions in good faith, or typed your questions into a search engine.
In reality it's of course a bit more complicated since earth is complicated. Another good proxy for "fixed" would be "glaciers and permafrost exist and are not decreasing" while broken would be "large areas in the third world have become uninhabitable to humans"
Haven't gone out and done my own validation, or checked other sources, but it'll give you somewhere to start
I'm not arguing that there's some "ideal Earth temperature": that's your straw man argument that you're making and has nothing to do with anything I've said. I don't need to provide data to prove a claim I never made. I've made three points, numbered in my previous post. Two have data behind them, and the other is fairly self-evident. If you'd like to share which of the claims I've actually made that you disagree with, I'd be happy to engage you in a discussion where we present evidence for our respective positions, but I'm not going to answer you if you continue asking me questions of the form, "Why can't you provide evidence for this claim you never made?"
Clearly you haven't even had the time to read any of the references that you were specifically given that answer many (if not all) of your questions - yet here you are, continuing the climate-denial fight.
Do the honorable thing and stop phrasing your statements as questions - it is a waste of peoples time answering them.
Just to make it explicit for the audience: before he was claiming just to be an honest truth seeker looking for references to learn about the topic, and now he acknowledged he's just a troll. Which was obvious from the start, but worth pointing out.
You do realize the plastic waste issue is separate from climate change?
I'm afraid that, since you seem to be reasonably intelligent and informed, I have to assume your replies are not made in good faith.
That's because you aren't asking questions, you're making vague points with question marks at the end.
> If these people were actually worried about climate and all related subjects they would be working on providing actual things reasonable people could do to help as oppose to calling other names and demanding they stop using plastic straws by showing pictures of turtles.
One thing actual reasonable people can do is stop pretending climate change doesn't exist and isn't a problem.
I'm not here to argue with you. I am just pointing out that people are linking you to references, and you clearly aren't even reading them before you post your follow-up "questions".
If you want to argue, argue with evidence - don't dress it up as a question.
The point is that current levels of climate emissions are much costlier and deadlier than a world where (good) policies have been enacted to decrease the flow of carbon into the atmosphere.
Just to throw it out there, though, I'd suggest a guaranteed change of 2F/century would be greeted with an instant acceptance and sigh of relief by everyone.
Ideal for what goal?
I would also agree that economic growth and energy usage aren't inherently bad; these are only problematic at our current level of technology. And we're going to need a lot more of both in order to tackle future existential problems among other things.
However one aspect of well-being which isn't always included in these treatments is that of 'mental health' or the state of our 'souls' as it used to be thought of. Both concepts are vague but they do point to something real and profoundly important. So here's an unrhetorical question: are we getting better or worse in this respect, on average? Or is it simply impossible to measure at our present inadequate level of understanding?
But stating "best decade in human" history is really tongue in cheek. You could has well hand pick other indicators and state "end of the world signs were clear starting from 2010":
- The biggest economical power in the world, China, is now turning into 1984
- 60 % of the insect species considered extinct, and because of us
- Micro plastics everywhere
- USA general opioid addiction
- For the first time literacy, IQ and lifespan decrease in some occidental countries
- Obesity and diabetes epidemics
- Highest difference between rich and poor in centuries, while the former never paid such low taxes.
- Mass surveillance and black torture sites are now considered standard practice
- Extremism rising
- Mega corporations now have more economical power than some small countries
- Ads, ads everywhere. Comments are ads. Articles are ads. The entire internet has been sold to PR companies.
- Huge revealed scandals (panama papers, PRISM, Epstein, snowden, equifax...) ended up with no consequences for the criminals, screaming to the world that the powerful can actually do whatever they want
- Health care and justice systems in rich countries are saturated
- Jails are businesses, filled mostly with males from a few minorities.
- The population is violently divided on major political issues: Trump in the US, Brexit in the UK, Gilets Jaunes in France, Hong Kong in China...
- Privacy is at a all time low with the rise of IoT and smart speakers/cameras to complement the already omnipresent internet trackers and ubiquitous phones
- Star Wars 9
Not disagreeing with your main point, but positivism doesn't mean what you think it does (you wanted "positivity" instead.)
1. a philosophical system that holds that every rationally justifiable assertion can be scientifically verified or is capable of logical or mathematical proof, and that therefore rejects metaphysics and theism.
a humanistic religious system founded on positivism.
another term for logical positivism.
2. the theory that laws are to be understood as social rules, valid because they are enacted by authority or derive logically from existing decisions, and that ideal or moral considerations (e.g., that a rule is unjust) should not limit the scope or operation of the law.
This is not the argument. Concern rests on the size of the gap, rather than the fact of differences. Greater inequality is associated with many negative properties, such as decreased social trust, declining mortality rates, political instability, etc.
> The poorest people in the planet today have access to more resources than the greatest king had 500 hundred years ago.
Is the new bar going to be 500 years ago?
> Are you saying you would like all of us to be equally poor?
> To me this sounds more like jealousy and virtue signaling than anything else.
Are you suggesting that a concern for mounting inequality is a form of jealousy? And to the extent that what you say about signaling is true, I'd take a whole heaping pile of "virtue signaling" over bad faith reactionary arguments to very real and very dangerous social problems.
It's bad because wealth provides power, and power is currently being wielded to take away the autonomy of those who are poorer. Economic means are used by the obscenely wealthy to do some pretty horrid things, from buying elections to covering up their child sweatshop operations. Wealth inequality rapidly leads to general inequality in the eyes of the state.
Second, massive inequality between rich and poor is a signal that something has gone horribly wrong with the distribution of wealth generated by society. That does not mean that “all of us need to be poor”. It does indicate that the rewards of civilisation have been unevenly distributed.
Is it? It seems to me like a world where a small group of people can improve the lives of a wide swath of the population (as measured and evidenced by that wide swath of people willingly giving them money in exchange for goods/services), that it’s fairly natural and even desirable for those creators of value to retain some of it for themselves.
Perhaps the relatively new capability of efficient global transportation and widespread Internet communication allows small groups to improve the lives of even larger groups than they could 50, 100, or 250 years ago.
We should celebrate that lives are improved broadly rather than excoriating those who are providing the improvements in exchange for money.
What is the "right" distribution then? Given that wealth invested will grow exponentially, it seems pretty self-evident that people who invest wealth will end up with way more wealth then people who don't. Even in a very simple model where half the population invests 30% of their savings and the other invests 10%, over a few decades the former will end up massively wealthier than the latter. Similarly, if both halves invest the same amount but one is able to find investments with 10% return and the other with 2% return, the former will end up way wealthier. What's unnatural about this?
Hence if we assume people have different degrees of preference for and competence at investing (there's no reason to assume these traits don't vary), we'd expect that even if everyone started from the same position some would end up way wealthier than others.
Of course, many people regard that sort of thing as something to avoid.
A high difference between rich and poor is a sign of power concentrating, which is the opposite of what you want for democracy. It also means resources are getting less and less evenly distributed. If you aim for more fairness and equality, you need the reversed trend. Eventually, it means exhibit symptoms of being optimized for economic efficiency and a certain part of the population, while we know monoculture is not in favor of the specie on the long run.
Unfortunately, it seems that it is still bad to have relative poverty even in the absence of absolute poverty, as it leads to political and civil unrest. Calling it jealousy doesn’t make it go away. Likewise, you can call anything you don’t like “virtue signalling”, so it’s not got any predictive power unless you want to be more precise.
I guess also the problem here is that many statements about things getting worse are very subjective, whereas the article tries to focus on objective metrics like absolute poverty, metals usage, etc. And it takes a global view.
Your list is pretty large but, for instance, you say "ads everywhere". The internet has been funded by ads for decades. Did it objectively get moreso in the past decade? And if so, isn't the worseness of this purely subjective given that many services we enjoy may not exist without ads or, possibly, would be charged for and thus available only to the rich, in rich countries? This is highly debatable. Whereas "child mortality is at record lows" is metric-based and objectively good.
Also many of these are very USA specific, but the worst places to live are really outside the USA. If your child died of TB "too many ads" and "the rise of smart speakers" is going to seem really trivial in comparison. No quantity of ads will counterbalance even a small rise in child mortality as a problem.
Still, it's good for our collective mental health to acknowledge that many really important elements of the human experience are really improving in meaningful ways.
If nothing else, openly acknowledging the successes of the past decades gives humanity confidence to address the considerable challenges of the present.
Strictly focusing on either the negative or the positive is out of balance. Balance is healthy.
Even if a miracle happened and we reached zero emissions today there are still 40 years of warming from current emissions in the atmosphere plus unstoppable feedbacks that have already been triggered (Arctic ice, methane in the permafrost, etc). Nobody really knows how much warming these feedbacks will add or for how long.
And even in the best case scenario we won't get to zero emissions in at least a couple of decades.
Don't forget that the high yields are caused by the crops being highly optimized for current conditions..
Edit: Also that graph doesn't show emissions per capita which is the metric that really matters.
Also see this about cumulative emissions:
The US is still the country that has emitted more CO2.
>The most dangerous thing about the Amazon fires is the apocalyptic rhetoric
>Ignore the global warming hysteria: hurricanes are not getting worse
>The eradication of South Georgia’s rats proves we can do anything
>Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy
>The world is getting greener. Why does no one want to know?
And my personal favorite:
>How hunting and shooting help wildlife – and not just in Africa
Bloody brilliant, let me tell you.
The hunting of endangered species is a gross practice that is a natural extension of the colonialist history of the West. When rich whites go to shoot animals who are not capable of defending themselves, no one should kid itself that yeah, there are alternatives to that horrid practice - and meanwhile, illegal hunting continues to eat up entire species, so the whole talk about hunting conserving the population is simply not true when taken in its actual context.
And we completely ignored the times when the ruling class goes to countries, shoots animals unlawfully, and gets away with it. Examples:
And we could continue with more historic examples, like this piece of art right here:
Makes my skin crawl.
But it's still a weird definition of "help". And I would argue that, if you look at it holistically, in many cases it is little more than a temporary holding action.
> predictions I made ... that ‘the ecological footprint of human activity is probably shrinking’ and ‘we are getting more sustainable, not less...’... our population and economy would grow, but we’d learn how to reduce what we take from the planet. And so it has proved. An MIT scientist, Andrew McAfee, recently documented this in a book called More from Less, showing how some nations are beginning to use less stuff: less metal, less water, less land. Not just in proportion to productivity: less stuff overall.
That's the kind of evidence he gives?
* "Some" nations, not all nor most, nor the largest ones.
* "Beginning" to use less stuff, not "using" less stuff.
* "less stuff: [one kind], [another kind], [a third kind]" - not using less generally, but using less of certain kinds of things, albeit important ones.
and so on. This is Junk commentary. I wouldn't be surprised if even his sources are also painting an overly rosy picture.
Interesting. But before I hip-hip-hurray, I'd like to know how many 13g drink cans were made in 2019, and how many 85g cans were made in 1959.
At a quick glance I'd say, umm, more...
Though the numbers are only for the US, total number of empty beverage cans produced and shipped in the US and US-controlled territories in 1960 was 9.700 (billions or tonnes, I'm not sure, the unit is not in the table) and in 2010 it was 96.457. So there's been a ten-fold increase of production for an eight-fold decrease in aluminum used. Note the numbers are for total cans, which I think includes steel, but there's only aggregate data up to 1979.
Data from this table from the page you linked:
Fortunately, it seems that for other types of cans production went down. For example, total number of food cans was 34.600 in 1970 and 28.432 in 2010.
Again thanks, I should have looked it up myself :)
Look: measurement a,b,c,d all show things are improving. So this is the truth.
It's one point of view. There are plenty of other ways to look at the world seriously. It doesn't have to be reduced to 5 or 6 numbers.
The "roaring 20s" preceded the great depression. And then a world war.
Cheap solar energy
CRISPR gene editing
Real world machine learning applications
Commercial space vehicles
Heightened public awareness of: plastics, climate change, inequality, sexual harrassment
We fixed the Ozone hole
Extreme poverty down by half
Higgs boson and gravitational waves discovered
What about mass surveilance, rising suicides and homelessness, or never-ending wars, among other things?
My wife has a coworker who has to go to therapy to deal with her generalized anxiety about the world’s issue, which went into overdrive after the Trump election. She is constantly on top of the latest NYT disaster article. Her hair has started to fall out and she’s only in her mid-30s. It’s really, really sad.
But the best decade politically? Not even close. Nobody saw the resurgence of right-wing populism coming, of anti-immigrant vitriol, of rejecting the international institutions safeguarding peace, or breakdown of constitutional norms.
And with climate change on its way, I wouldn't count our chickens before they're hatched.
I am not disputing that our world is on a knife edge. I am saying that it has always been like this, or worse.
Intellectuals and progressives are very guilty of similar behavior, it's just that their out-groups are not delineated by skin color, so no one notices it.
But I'd argue that what's particularly scary is the fact that things have gotten worse politically. It's not that the 10's were improving less fast -- it's that long-trusted political institutions are falling apart, and nobody knows how much further they have to go, or if they'll be able to be put back together.
Or... we're witnessing a rebalancing of power where an executive branch will no longer have carte blanche and there will once again be a balance of power between the three branches of government (in the US at least, can't speak to how other countries do their politics).
One can hope at least.
This isn't the first time that's happened, you know. And the institutions that replace them will also fall apart and be replaced. And those as well.
You should stop worrying about governing body A or B and start hoping that the next group who seizes power respects inalienable rights as much as the ones who created your current situation.
You're implying that it's more important who rules ("the next group") rather than which institutions constrain them. I would suggest that this is deeply misguided. Institutions are what we have to protect us. Worrying about them is incredibly important, because they're what determines who the next group will be.
That's very much a matter of perspective, almost by definition. "Right-wing populism" is just grassroots politics that some people don't like. We're also seeing a resurgence of left-wing grassroots movements; and again, plenty of people might dislike these political stances, but one can also see where they're coming from.
If poverty is an error, then a 60% error rate on 1 billion requests and a 10% error rate on 6 billion requests is the exact same thing for those people.
There is less poor people now than there was 10 years ago.
It's basically the World Bank covering its ass for its own spectacular failure.
I can't conceive of the mental contortions you must have forced yourself into to conclude that a world of 600 million people, all in abject poverty, is just as good the world we live in now.
No. They are not the same thing. Error rate does not automatically drop when requests grow. The number of errors remains the same, but the number of "good" increases, how is that "the exact same thing"?
Also, 1 billion world population was in 1800s, at that time poverty rate was 80%.
Optimistic comments are being voted down by the moderators (who have a high enough ranking to do so). Yet, this article has been pushed to the top by regular members.
The messages within the down-voted comments aren't breaking any of the community rules. So the down-voting is happening because of a political disagreement. The moderators are intolerant of an opposing view and rather than engage in open debate; they instead wink the things they disagree with, out of the conversation entirely.
It's always been ok for downvoting to express disagreement on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16131314.