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The Laptev Sea hasn't frozen (economist.com)
478 points by xenocratus 36 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 526 comments

It wasn't that long ago that most climate scientists were saying that we wouldn't see a Blue Ocean Event (BOE) until 2040-2050, but I suspect we'll see, like many climate estimates, that number ends up being a bit too conservative. When the BOE does happen we'll start to see some pretty dramatic changes to our world fairly rapidly (and as a reminder, we are already seeing dramatic changes to our world).

We're all in some form of climate denial right now. Even if you are able to acknowledge that climate change is happening, you likely aren't being realistic about how unavoidable its impacts are, or the full magnitude of those impacts.

I still see people talking about life in 150 years as if it will be a simple continuation of the "progress" we've seen in the last 150, completely oblivious to the way that progress was achieved and the inevitably and unavoidable consequences of it.

> but I suspect we'll see, like many climate estimates, that number ends up being a bit too conservative.


When scientists and politicians publicize scary, doomsday numbers that aren't ever realized, the public's natural response is to be more critical of the things those people say in the future. That sort of thing results in climate deniers, anti-vaxers, anti-maskers, and a whole slew of conspiracy theories.

If you want people to take climate change seriously, you need to publish conservative numbers and ring the bell when things end up worse than you predicted. Include a word of caution that things could be worse when you publish the conservative numbers, but don't start out with the worst-case scenario if you want to be taken seriously in the future.

Of course you can be too conservative with your predictions, but I don't see a lot of that except as a knee-jerk reaction to the overly-alarmist predictions.

...So what climate scientists have been doing for decades? Yet they were still ignored. So people state more alarming predictions and get told “if only you’d been more moderate and reasonable”.

The truth is that most (Western) people simply don’t care that much.

> So what climate scientists have been doing for decades?


> Many scientists have attempted to estimate when the Arctic will be "ice-free". Professor Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge is among these scientists; Wadhams in 2014 predicted that by 2020 "summer sea ice to disappear," Wadhams and several others have noted that climate model predictions have been overly conservative regarding sea ice decline. A 2013 paper suggested that models commonly underestimate the solar radiation absorption characteristics of wildfire soot. In 2007, Professor Wieslaw Maslowski from the Naval Postgraduate School, California, predicted removal of summer ice by 2013; subsequently, in 2013, Maslowski predicted 2016 ±3 years.

Looks to me like there have been plenty of overly-alarming predictions about a Blue Ocean Event over the last two decades.

Are you serious right now? Do you realize how hard it is to predict this stuff?

You actually expect them to nail it down to the year? lol

Well, if someone is predicting an event 3 years into the future, then... yeah!

What makes you think I expect them to make an accurate prediction down to the year?

The last prediction from that quote was made in 2013 and predicted 2016 +/- 3 years.

Inaccuracies aren't the issue here. The problem is that well-intentioned scientists and politicians are making overly-alarming predictions that keep eroding the populations trust when they keep failing to come true. How do you convince someone to believe you when you say climate change is a real, serious, and immediate threat when they have been lied to about the subject over and over again?

The context of that prediction were the extreme records set by sea ice in 2012, when it did almost disappear. That made some scientists think that we were seeing a nonlinear phase shift and that it would not recover. It did recover, and resumed its linear downward trajectory.

But if your takeaway from that is that scientists are overconfident and wrong, that is insane, because the important thing to know about sea ice is that at its yearly minimum, its volume is a third of what it was in 1980. No matter how you cut it, it's almost gone.


He did not say the scientists are overconfident and wrong.

He said they hurt the public trust in climate science when their predictions do not reliably come true.

What hurts public trust in climate science is primarily a massive and well funded propaganda campaign that's been going on for 50 years.

Some scientists are going to sometimes be wrong about things. It is impossible for them to be scientists otherwise.

Neither of us denied any of that.

OP just said that conservative predictions are better than aggressive ones, as they're more likely to come true and thus build trust.

Do you see any evidence that the consistent under-shooting of IPCC consensus predictions has built trust?

It is not possible to have an accurate mean prediction, and also to have no predictions above the mean.

I never said they did, or that they should focus on trustbuilding instead of aiming for accuracy.

I just pointed out that you were arguing with something other than what OP said.

> But if your takeaway from that is that scientists are overconfident and wrong

my takeaway is that every years hundred models are given birth, every year later the model fitting the data best survive, and two year later when that last model prediction fail, a new model from the previous that that predicted the change better replaces it, in a never ending cycle of bullshit.

the models go both way: without a predictive model that can hold water, how do you know which parameter to tune to resolve the climate crisis?

You’re describing how models improve over time with additional data and better knowledge about the atmosphere.

Or models over fitted to past data with 0 predictive capability that need to be re-tuned every year or two.

from 1970 to 2050±20? no. from 2013 to 2016±3? I absolutely expect it to be within the given error range

I would expect them to be aware of and communicate their uncertainty.

That's not overly-alarmy; it's a demonstration of the astounding capabilities of climate models to describe incomprehensibly complex phenomena to a remarkable degree.

I think that's a very forgiving take. I recognize that climate change is extremely complex and it's a huge accomplishment for our models to be as accurate as they are. However, they are clearly not accurate enough to be making statements like "2016 ±3 years". Statements like that are easy ammunition for climate change denial.

It was probably this graph - you can understand how it looked very bad at the time ? http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mnr3XCiELco/UFxdVV5QMfI/AAAAAAAAFC...

Given the references in the comment you are replying to, I think more people might interpret as a demonstration of the astounding degree that climate models can totally miss the mark. And calls into question the degree to which we should base policy decisions - with major negative consequences - on those models.

The wikipedia 'graph talks about one scientist who made an over-aggressive estimate... And then lays out the more 'conservative' estimates, placing the BOE sometime between 2022 and the 2030's or 2040's. That sounds like the process working, to me; there's a range of estimates, and it's foolish to disregard honestly-obtained outliers just because they are on the outside.

As it is, I don't think even the over-aggressive calls have "totally missed the mark"; what we're seeing now says maybe they were off by a few years. In terms of global risk analysis around climate change, that error doesn't really matter all that much. Calling to address a major tipping point a few years early is arguably a feature, even.

I think the reason they're being ignored is because the required solution is now political, and our governing institutions are inadequate and unable to address the problem.

They're just changing I feel.

Maybe it's too slow but the end is near for fossil fuels, it's either because humans will end up extinct if we keep burning it at the current rate or because it's not economically competitive anymore.

As corrupt and as rotten as politics is, there is a limit to how far you can push for coal and fracking before it just becomes silly.

The proposed solutions are political. When someone tells me I need to stop eating meat, pave forests with solar panels and stop flying, I know they're talking politics, not climate change. I hate ideologies trying to control my life. What happened to nuclear, geoengineering, fair revenue-neutral carbon taxes - those are reasonable solutions. Instead, I have to chew on a slimy paper straw...

> need to stop eating meat, stop flying

That'll happen anyway with carbon taxes. Or at least it'll cost a lot more and many people will do less of it. Until we have carbon taxes, you could choose to do it voluntarily to help out.

> pave forests with solar panels

I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that.

> What happened to nuclear

Expensive and difficult to build. But if you like it, France, the UK and India are still doing it. And you're always free to advocate for it. "They oppose nuclear" isn't a great reason to stop working with people on solving the problem of climate change. Why be so prescriptive in solutions by saying "nukes or bust"?

> geoengineering

You mean the thing that's already gotten us into this mess?

> fair revenue-neutral carbon taxes

Cheers to that. A lot of the people you dislike politically support those. Work with them.

Agreeing with the rest of your comment, but:

>> geoengineering

> You mean the thing that's already gotten us into this mess?

What got us into this mess is geo-moving-fast-and-breaking-things. Everyone chasing short-term profits and dumping externalities on everyone else.

I don't get the hate for geoengineering - i.e. planned, large-scale interventions. Sure, it would be better to not need it, but the way things are heading, we very well might.

Given the huge uncertainty in all models of the climate, how can we be sure our large scale interventions don’t have large scale unintended consequences?

We can't, but at some point in the near future, the consequences of our current course of action will be bad enough to risk it.

Think of geoengineering as chemo for the planet - a very blunt treatment with bad, large-scale consequences, that we apply anyway, because the disease it fights is even worse.

> planned, large-scale interventions.

Unintended consequences. Unless it's direct carbon capture, there is no guarantee we won't create worse problems.

Doesn't explain the hate any mention of geoengineering seems to be getting. "Unintended consequences" shouldn't be used as a generic counterargument/thought-terminating cliché. What particular consequences are we talking about, and how they stake against the problem we're sure to have?

> "Unintended consequences" shouldn't be used as a generic counterargument/thought-terminating cliché.

"Geoengineering" is itself a very generic term.

> What particular consequences are we talking about,

They would depend on the particular geoengineering technique we're talking about.

The whole point of unintended consequences is they are not or could not be anticipated before the fact.

Other than direct carbon capture i.e. geoengineering that's a direct inverse of the problem we have right now, I'm not confident we can predict everything that can go wrong with any given geoengineering solution. Even direct carbon capture is likely to have some serious downsides at scale we haven't yet considered.

Exactly, the point of carbon taxes is that everybody gets a choice. You'll eat less meat, I'll drive around less. It's the least-ideological solution.

I think a carbon tax is one of the most efficient solutions available, but it's proven to be very ideological since the burden of consumption taxes tends to fall on people with lower income. They're very unpopular, and few countries have been able to implement them successfully.

It's still worth trying to pursue a more popular version of a carbon tax because of how efficient they are, but we need to acknowledge their political shortcomings. Perhaps we could pair a carbon tax with an annual distribution of revenue raised to everyone - a carbon bonus - so people see a direct benefit too instead of just the tax.

Regardless we need to explore other solutions too, since it's not going to be enough to stop the climate from destabilizing further.

> Perhaps we could pair a carbon tax with an annual distribution of revenue raised to everyone

Pretty much this. Use it to fund UBI maybe. The Canadian province of British Columbia collects a carbon tax and reduces income taxes by a commensurate amount.[1]

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

Yeah that's why I wrote "revenue-neutral". I've no desire to finance even more corruption and wars. The only goal is to penalize carbon and incentivize less carbon.

Agreed. I think we should all focus our energy on that instead of refusing to work together unless the other person supports our specific set of solutions (nuclear power, ending capitalism, whatever).

Carbon taxes and more nuclear power are also political solutions. So are controlling emissions from meat producers, stricter emission standards on airplanes, and investments in infrastructure for renewable energy.

Preventing climate change from getting worse requires coordinated action at the national and international levels. There are many proposed solutions, but so far none of them have been implemented and it's unclear our government systems are sophisticated enough to do so, to the detriment of us all.

Incidentally, I think the primary driver of state-level bans on single use plastic straws was to reduce plastic waste, especially in the oceans.

Incredible that some how a tax appears less political to you than suggested behavioral change

Taxes change incentives which though affecting behavior in aggregate but each individual still gets to choose how they want to approach it. Trying to mandate behavior directly on the other hand is heavy handed and more politicial because it assumes that everyone has the same set of preferences.

Carbon taxes also allow solutions to be arrived at organically vs via fiat which also reduces opportunity for corruption when the pricing is transparent.

If we want different results then we need to change behaviour, that's a given.

But a ideological behavioral change ("eat less meat") enforced on everybody is much more political (ideological) than just implementing the required nudges/incentives (less carbon) and allowing everybody to adjust their behavior as they see fit.

Behaviour change is just a political. You are hammered every day with political advertising spread as astroturfing via social media and even the regular news.

Everything involving money is political.

You don’t need that (Western) qualifier. Given the opportunity, people all around the world choose not to care that much.

I would love the global warming denialists to be held to the same standard as climate scientists. Missed one prediction, and their entire platform can be dismissed out of hand.

It's worse than that. If you say something bad will happen unless we do something about it, and then we do something about it and it doesn't happen, then years later when you say something else bad will happen unless we do something about that...people will say the earlier bad thing didn't happen so why should we believe you this time?

For example, in the 50s and 60s we had rapidly rising levels of smog and other particulate matter pollution in the US, and scientists warned that bad things would happen if we didn't get this under control.

We did get it under control, and indeed massively reduced it, and the bad things did not come to pass.

And now, bringing up those predictions from back then and saying that since they did not come to pass we shouldn't worry about current predictions on climate change or do anything about them is a staple of climate change denial arguments.

>We did get it under control, and indeed massively reduced it, and the bad things did not come to pass.

Checked Asthma rates lately in the United States? 1 in 8? Higher? That is not normal, and indeed a "bad thing".

> If you want people to take climate change seriously, you need to publish conservative numbers and ring the bell when things end up worse than you predicted. Include a word of caution that things could be worse when you publish the conservative numbers, but don't start out with the worst-case scenario if you want to be taken seriously in the future.

Isn't that basically saying "just pray that it's not that bad, and that you can react fast enough if it is bad"?

This seems to give up on any rational attempt at handling risk solely because you're giving in to the least rational instincts of the herd...

Yes, people are bad at dealing with probability. No, that doesn't mean that we (and especially leaders) don't have a responsibility to do better.

> Isn't that basically saying "just pray that it's not that bad, and that you can react fast enough if it is bad"?

No. It's basically saying "do not erode the public's trust in you by making frightening predictions that probably wont come true".

> Yes, people are bad at dealing with probability.

I rarely see climate change projections tempered by probability. I'd be much less concerned about overly-alarming predictions if they were published with an associated probability and margin of error.

I don't understand the expectation that every prediction from a climate scientist should be able to hit inherently stochastic dates precisely. On the scale of geologic time and the level of inherent randomness and epistemic uncertainty, predicting things within a few decades is amazing.

> I rarely see climate change projections tempered by probability.

Honestly, if this is true, then it seems like the only thing you have ever read about climate are popular press articles. The error bars on every single prediction are on every graph or study that climate scientists produce. Mean sensitivity itself still has large error bars, but beyond that the amount of emissions we produce is inherently unpredictable. It is not possible for a climate scientist to say with any certainty how much coal we are going to be burning in 40 years.

Where are the "alarmist doomsday predictions" that never came true? Climate Change deniers claim that these exist all the time, but I have never seen an actual example. Predictions over the last 20-30 years have been almost universally spot-on.

> Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013' (2007)


> Warming expert: Only decade left to act in time (2006)


> (1989) A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.

> He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.


Those articles may still prove to be correct. Several Pacific Island nations (Marshall Islands, Maldives, Tuvalu) are indeed drowning, as predicted.

At least to me it seems the greenhouse effect now is out of human control. I do not see mankind preventing it from raising much higher, for years to come, before we'll do anything about it.

Are you serious? Islands do sometimes expand for many reasons - but usually volcanic. Do you seriously think that's a counter argument against the fact of rising sea levels?

I am not a member of your ridiculous doomsday cult.

...for now.

In which case investors will lose a lot of money: https://www.theinvestor.jll/news/maldives/hotels/the-maldive...

Next week we should should get a better understanding of our path forward. Obliqueness intentional to ward off hate.

> > Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013' (2007)

> Those articles may still prove to be correct.

Your prediction isn't correct if your time estimate is wrong. I bet some Pacific islands will be beneath the ocean some day with probability very close to 1 (I dunno we could get hit by an Asteroid first). Betting they will be last month is a failed prediction. As far as I can tell they're not having any particular problems now they didn't have 50 years ago. I'm happy to entertain evidence to the contrary.

The greenhouse effect is totally human controllable. You don't even need to stop using fossil fuels or resort to absurdities like industrial carbon sequestration. Geoengineering used to be a thing; if climatologists believed in their models, they'd be able to come up with a solution that works. Painting Australia white, pumping sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere; whatever. Someone could at least make a suggestion which doesn't involve everyone living in a yurt and eating gruel. One becomes suspicious people whose only solution is the latter are millenarian cultists rather than science minded.

So you demand that scientists produce predictions that are bang on not only in 'what' will happen, but also 'why' and 'when'? A single early incorrect time estimate in an ever-changing world with accelerating access to more and better data is somehow entirely disqualifying?

Maybe if we lived in mile-high ecumenopolis mega cities instead of 8-lane-gridlock-highway-connected-cookie-cutter-5-bedroom-McMansion-suburbs we wouldn't have to live in "yurts" and eat "gruel".

The question was whether there were any overly negative predictions about climate change that failed to pass. Facts were presented. It is a fact that there are many climate change predictions that were the opposite of conservative. That some of those overly negative predictions might happen many decades later wasn't questioned and therefore commenting about it just derails the discussion.

> So you demand that scientists produce predictions that are bang on not only in 'what' will happen, but also 'why' and 'when'?

Yes, actually: if I'm supposed to take "scientists" seriously, the only reason we listen to them over astrologers is they're supposed to get things right, not make shit up. Why is this confusing to you? Do you think there is some other reason to listen to "scientists?"

No, they are not supposed to get things right.

They are supposed to evaluate scientific theories by checking testable predictions to find out if the theory is the correct explanation about how things work in our universe. Which means that scientists try to proof themselves wrong most of the time.

A prediction is also often multidimensional and can be accurate about what will happen, while being off about when it will happen. This article https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prediction uses the solar cycle as an example of that under the Science category.

You’re asking for something that isn’t possible. The climate is an extremely complex system and we don’t have perfect and complete information of all of our current variables, let alone future variables. I don’t understand why you would equate people who work extremely hard to create models and try to understand our complex world to astrologers who make shit up.

What a horrible perspective.

Are you shitting me? You're asking me ... on one hand to "trust the science," to the point humans change our use of power, transportation: basically upend industrial civilization, but you're also telling me this "science" isn't capable of producing models accurate enough for geoengineering? You do realize CO2 mitigation is only one form of geoengineering, right? If they can't suggest another one, why should anyone listen to them regarding CO2?

You can't have it both ways. Either "the science" predicts something or it doesn't. Which one is it?

People love citing the "xx years left to act" articles after xx+n years, but don't mention that the goalposts keep moving. In 1992 we had xx years to act to keep warming below 1°. Today we have xx years to act to keep warming below 2.5°.

> Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013' (2007)

The very article you link points out that scientific consensus is 2040-2100, and the author of the paper is quoted as saying that, because of the variance in his own model, 2030 is a more reasonable estimate.

> the other two

Refer to time of action, not time of consequence. There's a ~30-40 year delay between greenhouse gas emissions and fully realized warming. A ton of gas released today doesn't cause warming tomorrow. Because these targets haven't been met, even if all emissions stopped today, enough ice would melt over the next century that the Solomons, Marshalls, Maldives, and other low-lying island nations will be swamped.

>> Warming expert: Only decade left to act in time (2006)

>> governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check and limit the increase in global temperatures to 1 degree Celsius

>> If the world continues with a “business as usual” scenario ... temperatures will rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius

> https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna14834318

That's reality, inevitable 2°C raise even if humanity left planet today, 4°C–5°C raise with a “business as usual” scenario.



> Many scientists have attempted to estimate when the Arctic will be "ice-free". Professor Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge is among these scientists; Wadhams in 2014 predicted that by 2020 "summer sea ice to disappear," Wadhams and several others have noted that climate model predictions have been overly conservative regarding sea ice decline. A 2013 paper suggested that models commonly underestimate the solar radiation absorption characteristics of wildfire soot. In 2007, Professor Wieslaw Maslowski from the Naval Postgraduate School, California, predicted removal of summer ice by 2013; subsequently, in 2013, Maslowski predicted 2016 ±3 years.

I think you should have included the preceding line explaining that 'ice free' is a synonym for under '1m square km of ice.' Even then the wikipedia article is abstracting away a lot of nuance in the reporting (fortunately easily accessible through the excellent citations). This year the minimum extent is about 2.4m sqkm and the downward trend is steady.

If only people would devote half as much energy to debunking denialists as they do scolding 'alarmists'.

Yes. Climate change is catastrophic, but "human extinction by 2030" is absurd. If we don't treat it as such, reasonable people stop listening.

Could you post a link to a reasonably reliable source (that is, scientific or government backed) that says this? thanks.

No reasonably reliable source says it. That's why I called it absurd. It's a "kids these days" thing (parent post was about scientists and politicians -- this isn't off topic, as politicians are involved, but kids account for the numbers). They call themselves "doomers," and though some of them base their predictions of doom firmly in reality, there's a large faction that doesn't. "Human extinction by 2030" (or its predecessor, "human extinction is inevitable by 2030") are memes in that circle. They cross-pollinate, as memes do, so you might have seen a few, but may not have internalized that a double-digit percentage of kids believe wholeheartedly in them.

Back when I was in high school, the eco-panic 10 year prediction was that oil would run out and the world economy would collapse. It didn't. I see some of my classmates on facebook from time to time. They remembered this instance of crying wolf and updated their priors accordingly. Now they ignore legitimate climate worries. It's unfortunate.

I think the "Human extinction by 2030" is a confusion of what is being claimed by serious people.

If the current trend continues and nothing done by 2030 the repercussions will be so severe to the environment they threaten future organized human existence.

So basically we still have time to avoid the worst outcome, the loss of the ability for organized human existence. Not that we will all be dead by then.

Congresswoman Cortez said that the world would end by 2030 if we did nothing. Later, she said only a sea sponge would believe her.

Presumably, she is arguing that hyperbolic proclamations are a valid way to get people to listen and engage in political discourse.

Of course, I presume that by "serious people" you are referring to scientists, but it definitely creates a mixed message from politicians- you know, the ones setting government policy.

At what point is it not hyperbole, but actual serious discussion? Should we treat everything as hyperbolic? All this does is confuse the problem (making it more or less drastic than it actually is).

In my lifetime, "serious people" have often made predictions about drastic things and were completely wrong- and they had models to support them! This is true about many things beyond climate change as well. Why should this be any different? Why should I believe that I should act, or believe that there is still time to do so? Is this a new hockey stick graph?

If you don't invest a lot of time sorting through all the BS, most people I think end up flipping a coin, picking a side and just going with it.

You were talking about Kids in your comment, Doomers I guess you said. So by serious people I mean not that.

"The world would end by 2030", like obviously there is no way this can be true. No matter what happens the world will not end in a biblical sense.

"People made predictions and were wrong in the past" is a great point.

Why should you believe you should act or that you can and do something about it? I don't know great question! I'm sure someone has explored the morality of avoiding the worst case scenario caused by human induced climate change.

I'm not the person you responded to originally (about the kids and doomers bit). That said, they come from somewhere and what AOC said (or the way she said it) don't help. Sorry if that threw you off.

Anyway, my point was that we are better off avoiding such hyperbole and overstating the case; it biases people towards inaction, especially when the worst case is consistently promoted and consistently fails to occur.

We could (theoretically) end global warming this instant by turning off every electrical appliance and not burning a single molecule of fossil fuel. How many people would die in an hour, without life saving medical equipment or heat in their homes? A day? A year?

When you discuss the morality of avoiding the worst case scenario, you still have to weigh the consequences of the actions (or inactions).

If the doom-and-gloom worst case scenario is consistently wrong, and that is the one that gets talked about most frequently, then people are going to avoid the most serious consequences that would occur by drastic action to head off the worst case scenario- especially when that means putting off personal sacrifices.

I don't see that you've really responded to what I've said beyond repeating the previous poster.

I'm not American, climate change is not an American problem it's a global one. It's completely out of the scope of the conversation to require me to explain how you are deficient in your understanding of the nuance of what was actually said by the Congresswoman.

The conversation of Climate Change, Global Warming, whatever has been going on long before AOC even ran for Congress so I really don't see the point you and the original poster I was responding to are actually making by invoking her as some boogie man.

Yes sure talking hyperbolic doesn't help and can turn people off. Ok agreed. Excellent points all aroud.

> "The world would end by 2030", like obviously there is no way this can be true. No matter what happens the world will not end in a biblical sense.

Cortez said exactly that though. You could argue that she isn't a serious person, but lots of people do take her seriously, she is a very public figure.

Exact quote from 2019: "The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change".


That's not an exact quote. From the article you linked:

"Millennials and Gen Z and all these folks that come after us are looking up, and we're like, 'The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change, and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?' " she said.

Even a very middlebrow newspaper like USA Today was able to figure out that she was characterising a political viewpoint rather than making a straight scientific assertion, as shows by the use of single quotation marks.

It's misleading to strip away that context, just as it would be accurate-but-misleading if I trimmed her quote down further to say 'Ocasio-Cortez: 'Don't address climate change.''

She's clearly characterizing a viewpoint that she finds valid, even if it was intentionally hyperbolic (which I know it was).

The thing is, she put it out there. It put the notion in people's minds. If we don't fix it by then, we'll be unable to avoid a mass extinction event. That was the whole point of the green new deal (along with a grab bag of other social justice items).

When we are talking about how people can become overly distressed, and then jaded when their fears don't come to pass, that is exactly the kind of rhetoric that makes the situation worse, not better.

I get your point, but we should stop trying to get buy-in from the slowest and/or least cooperative people out there. If it's over-simplified, they'll dismiss it. If it's too complex, they'll dismiss it. If it's not certain enough they'll dismiss it. If it's too specific they'll dismiss.

There is always going to be some % of the population saying something is a terrible idea and their concerns aren't bein treated seriously enough, like the minority of people alleging that wearing face masks and social distancing is tyranny. One should certainly make a few good faith efforts to get them on board, but after the 3rd or 4th irrational or bad-faith rejection, it's OK to sideline them.

When I was 11 (that was 1971) I did a school project on climate change. At the time the coming Ice age was all the rage. All pop science magazines I read wrote about it and it was also mentioned regularly in newspapers and in documentaries.

Apparently scientists had been seeing temperatures dropping for quite some time. (I also remember winters having more snow than they do now).

Later all that changed to global warming.

Congratulations, that's called science. I don't get where so many people forgot the point of science. Create a falsifiable hypothesis, test said hypothesis over and over again with new techniques and data. When said hypothesis is invalidated, create new hypothesis. Our techniques and data collection and quality are orders of magnitude better today.

I also point you to this: https://www.skepticalscience.com/What-1970s-science-said-abo...

All the data points to anthropogenic global warming and the fundamental phenomena has been understood for well over a century.

A problem is that public figures don't make a difference between scientific theories based on how likely they are to be valid. They just take some theory, say it is "science" and then go on with "science is on my side!". This abuse of science is why we have so many science denialists today. And not just on the right side, so many on the left denies things like biological factors of IQ.

> When I was 11 (that was 1971) I did a school project on climate change. At the time the coming Ice age was all the rage. All pop science magazines I read wrote about it and it was also mentioned regularly in newspapers and in documentaries.

> Apparently scientists had been seeing temperatures dropping for quite some time. (I also remember winters having more snow than they do now).

> Later all that changed to global warming.

The thing is, "global cooling" was almost exclusively a phenomenon of the popular press. It was a minority view among climatologists all along. wikipedia has a good summary: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_coolingp

Science is testable predictions about the universe. Archimedes, Newton, Einstein made right predictions in their domain.

There would be Ice Age if not human activity. Needed specific data to see the trend, not available to layman. Today we do not need to get far away to see climate change. This is science, believing your eyes.

You have to think the quite heavy burden of proof lies on the side that claims the world is ending in 2030.

If you're going to pretend yelling that people thinking the world will end by 2030 is reasonable, the burden of proof is on you to prove that credible organizations are actually saying that. Otherwise, you're just putting up a strawman of "lots of crazy people saying the world will end by 2030".

Just to be clear here, burden of proof is on whoever makes a claim. Strawmanning is refuting a claim that isn't quite what someone else claimed.

Of you claim something exceptional, you need exceptional proof. Such as the mentioned world-will-end claims.

If you are merely saying "there's a guy who says..." it's a whole lot easier, you just have to point at where he said it.

I'm not making any claims, just pointing out that if someone indeed says that the world will end soon, they gotta do the heavy lifting.

I agree, but given that nobody with any real-world credibility is saying that, the person making the claim that the "world enders" are evidence that scientists are crazy has to prove that they exist.

Prolonged human suffering is almost always worse than a quick end, at least from an individual perspective.

> Good.

No, not good.

Just because it will make people take climate change seriously, this is not, by any measure, good. It's a dangerous and irreversible change and if most people want to deny climate change or downplay it, it shouldn't take a catastrophe to change their minds. The data is there, just because people find the prospect of awful things happening in 2030 not scary enough, doesn't mean we should be happy these things will happen sooner. COVID probably changed a lot of people's minds on healthcare and politics. Would we classify that as 'good' as well?

You assume that making less conservative, more alarming predictions will stop the bad things from happening as soon. But how do you enact change at a national level when the voting population doesn't trust you?

And why do you think I'd be happy if bad things happen sooner?

I agree with you that climate scientists are being too conservative, but I fail to see why that's good.

Imagine an aviation engineer being "too conservative" with potential dangers (i.e., accept too much risk) because if you raise an alarm and it turns out to be not as bad as predicted, you will have cost the company $$$ and hurt your career. Would you call that a good thing?

My high school science teacher told us all the world economy would collapse in 10 years because the oil would run out. It didn't. My classmates remembered -- and updated their priors accordingly. At this point, it's pretty clear that despite his good intentions he hurt the cause.

Fundamental attribution error tempts you into believing that it's OK to lie for a good reason. Others see it differently.

Tell your high school science teacher to read The Doomsday Myth. https://www.amazon.com/Doomsday-Myth-Economic-Institution-Pu...

Funny enough, I actually am a software engineer for avionics.

Those are not reasonable comparisons. Climate change predictions amount to milestones on our slow journey to oblivion. Ideally we want to be spot-on with all our predictions, but being on the "too conservative" side doesn't immediately put human lives at risk.

So you're saying that conspiracy theorists - who regularly consume news from sources that outright fabricate stuff - are being driven to believe this literal fiction because a climate model was off by a few years?

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories - some based entirely in fiction like you suggest. However, the most powerful ones are based in mostly truth.

"The earth goes through natural warming and cooling cycles."

"This year has been abnormally cold."

"They said X thing was going to happen years ago, but it still hasn't."

It's hard enough to address these legitimate doubts without creating even more ourselves.

"We're all in some form of climate denial right now"

It should also be acknowledged - perhaps first and foremost - that we are also all in a very real form of climate ignorance. Being "realistic" about the impact of climate change requires believing our best science as it stands today, but also understanding that the science is incomplete and certainly wrong in various large and small ways.

By far the biggest problem is that we do not agree with a common reality. If the conversation stops at "I don't believe this thing is real" then naive ignorance is the lesser problem. Climate denial is a bigger threat, it relies on moving the goal posts of what constitutes proof it's real, and in the decades it takes to "convince" these people it's real it will be too late to do much about it.

Simply put, if climate denial leads to inaction, then that's the bigger problem. Also, climate change is an existential threat, the degree and vigor we use to respond to it should definitely be strong. Debating over which models are more accurate or not is mostly a waste of time.

"What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?"


Climate change is not an existential threat.

You live in a different reality, just as I said.

This is generally trotted out as an argument that we should continue with the status quo and do nothing until we have certainty. In practice, we've already begun an experiment in mass-scale terraforming of our environment by emitting vast amounts of CO2. Since we don't know exactly what this will do, but every indication is that the outcome will be catastrophic, we should be working as hard as possible to halt our emissions now. Once we've done that, we can wait for certainty.

Most science predicts warming of ~2* Celsius. That will definitely be disruptive, but it's not catastrophic. Remember this change is amortized over much of the century.

We should definitely be arriving towards decarbonization, but the reality is that there are other priorities. Climate change is a problem the world is facing, along with malaria, poverty, conflict and more. We absolutely should not prioritize getting to zero emissions above all else. Bombing coal plants in other countries would make great strides towards getting to zero emissions, but surely you agree that such efforts go too far.

Science predicts 2°C if world acted at least ten years ago.

> Current climate policies: projected warming of 2.8 to 3.2°C by 2100 based on current implemented climate policies;

> No climate policies: projected future emissions if no climate policies were implemented; this would result in an estimated 4.1 to 4.8°C warming by 2100


And climate models generally don't yet take into account tipping points, so they are most likely conservative in their estimates.

Right, and ~3 degrees of warming if we continue with current energy policies for the next 80 years is much more benign than what many are claiming. It's not uncommon for people to claim that carbon emissions need to be reduced to zero in the next twelve years or the earth will become uninhabitable. If that were true then yes, we should start bombing fossil fuel plants. But in reality the damage causes by such action would be far more damaging than climate change.

That's actually a lot, it is 3 times weirder that today.

Countries claim carbon emissions have to be reduced to zero [1]. I do not think Eco terrorism would work.

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

Keep in mind that that increase is a global average. Land tends to have larger increases in temperature than the average, while oceans and water surfaces have a smaller increase in temperature[0].

What may be an average of two degrees Celsius might be four or five on land and one and a half on water.

[0] https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-why-does-land-warm-up...

"This is generally trotted out as an argument that we should continue with the status quo..."

And that is generally trotted out as an argument that we should ignore the facts. If it "sounds" bad to work towards the most accurate understanding of an issue, we should be striving to change that bias, not surrender to it. Otherwise we veer towards dogmatic interpretations that inevitably become false or contradictory, which I would argue is ultimately a larger deterrent to swaying hearts and minds.

> If it "sounds" bad to work towards the most accurate understanding of an issue

Nobody is making that argument. The issue is that the most accurate understanding of an issue can not be realized until the issue is fully actualized. In other words, if we wait for the global atmospheric temp to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius to ensure our accuracy, it is far too late to do anything about it.

Uncertainty exists, yes, but that uncertainty is mostly in timescales and consequences of environmental outcomes, not the environmental outcomes themselves.

I'm reacting to a certain perspective that seems to be dominant when it comes to climate change discourse, wherein its common to take the most severe/pessimistic interpretation of the science and then categorize any less severe interpretations as insufficient. I think that's a poor approach and only serves to alienate people who may be looking for something a little more even-handed or closely aligned with the trends in the science (as opposed to clinging to the extremes).

Having said that, I think that even the most optimistic interpretations of climate change are compelling enough to warrant immediate and dramatic action. But we should all strive for the most accurate interpretations of the science, which means being flexible and not dogmatic.

I don't know anything about biological factors of iq, but I'll take that kind of denialism, ie: all people are capable irrespective of their skin color, gender, other biological traits, over the former which will do lasting harm to persons all over the world and destroy massive amounts of wealth and productivity.

I've gotten a vasectomy and refuse to have kids because I think it's unethical to have children right now facing an unprecedented climate disaster.

It's going to be real bad. REAL bad. All the evidence points towards that. Most people are in denial about how bad it's going to be.

I've done the same thing. Idiocracy be damned, it seems like we're already pretty close to there. At least I will be able to enjoy my life knowing I'm not going to have to be responsible for a life or lives in an increasingly destabilizing climate.

I would suspect that your kids would have at least a chance of contributing to solving this crisis.

Many people will have kids because that's all they can do with their lives and the kids won't get the (easy) chance to become a great scientist, leader or similar. It's sad, many children will be subject to completely idiotic parents and so much potential will be lost.

Why would it be unethical to have kids? Because they use resources? Well, it takes resources to fix things as well. Having kids would only be bad if they used more than they contributed. Make them a net gain for society. Raise them to be resourceful and educated and a force for good. Doing that has a far greater benefit to our civilization and environment than not having any kids at all. We need the next generation (and this one) to fight for the necessary changes.

If everyone who was worried about climate change made their contribution by not having kids, then the next generation is just going to be all kids raised by climate deniers. If anyone should be having kids, it should be the ones who are worried about the future!

Because you bring them into the world in the knowledge that their lives will be somewhere between slighty worse and a lot worse than yours.

I don't plan to have children anyway, but I've concluded for instance but there's no point in making sacrifices today in the service of enjoying a comfortable retirement, because by that point western society will no longer be any fit state to provide for a conventional "life of leisure" retirement.

A friend of mine that works in climate science says that the IPCC reports are typically very conservative due to the process. His expectation is to view the upper end of the current report as likely.

RCP 8.5? No. The assumptions about coal alone blow that scenario out of the water.

Some of us are, but moving north, learning permaculture, investing in your community, and not worrying about a retirement fund are still "fringe" apparently.

Not sure what proof will work with some people, after all in places which have face-mask rules, the number breaking that etc highlights a not so small percentage of the populous, even with facts will air on the side that suits them.

Until their city sinks to the ocean or is consumed by wildfire but even then there will be deniers.

In general, catastrophe has to happen and impact many people first before they acknowledge the danger (and then move to Facebook to complain about politics not warning them).

I suspect calling what’s happening “global warming” is part of what’s causing the denial.

People living in mild latitudes hear about the warming but experience unusually cold summers and winters due to phenomena like polar vortex disruption[0]; the claim may be hard to take at face value.

Warming in longer term if left unchecked, sure, but “climate destabilization” could be a more fitting term for the time being.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_sea_ice_decline#Polar_v...

Unusually cold is all relative.

See https://xkcd.com/1321/ for how what we call unusually cold today used to be normal.

> I believe calling what’s happening “global warming” is part of what’s causing the denial.

Also just attributing climate change as the root of every problem.

Extra hot summer? Climate Change.

Extra cold winter? Climate Change.

Unusually moderate summer? Climate Change.

Unusually moderate winter? Climate Change.

More than usual wildfires/tornadoes/hurricanes/blizzards? Climate Change.

Insect apocalypse? Climate Change.

Sharks washing up on the beach stabbed by sword fish? Climate Change.

It puts you in denial when literally every issue is attributed to climate change.

It's almost like the climate impacts everything, and a changing climate upsets a ton of things!

But it's also a lazy cop-out. Why investigate alternative theories when climate change is an obvious, easy one?

It's like this board I worked on that only had 128 MB RAM. We were very tight on memory. Anytime an unexplained issue came up, low RAM was blamed by default even if it turned out later not to be the root cause.

Every single one of your complaints, except perhaps the last one, are referring to a changing climate.

Do you not see the logical connection? How if global homeostasis system that regulates temperatures and weather across the entire globe suddenly destabilizes, you start to see changes in things like local temperature, weather etc?

How is that unreasonable? What kind of cause are you looking for exactly? That it's done by aliens?

We have been investigating alternative theories at least since 1980. It turns out that all signs point to human-made climate change and the predictions get more dire the more we understand about it.

What alternative theories would you like to see investigated?

I mean the argument is not well thought even as presented. Scientists go through great lengths to explain climate phenomena due to other factors, el nino being one that most people are aware of.

People don't deal well with complications or nuance. So everything communicated broadly has to be quick, catchy and fit in a single descriptive phrase.

Scientists have published hundreds of thousands of pages of specific RCA for specific things.

150 years ago we didn’t have cars or telephones. The bulk of the world’s population lived on farms. Sure, many people are underestimating the impact of climate change, just like most people underestimate technological advances and the mobility of people over the course of centuries. To be clear: I am not saying it’s not happening, or that we should do nothing or be unconcerned. Just that I have confidence in human creativity, ingenuity, and technological advances.

Good luck. This is on a different scale. Likely, some folks will survive in safe zones but technology won't save us this time.

Ocean acidification is really scary (and fast) on its own but it's just one out of many apocalyptic problems we face.

Denial is the only way to cope with how impossible it feels to make any meaningful progress. I mean, the alternative is to sit white-knuckled until I die in a food riot. I am well aware of the changes that are coming, and it's one of many reasons why I'm not having kids: I don't believe progress will continue like it has (which was always unsustainable, even without deleterious effects on the climate), and I think the future earth will be much harder for humans in the short term. Sure, humanity will probably adapt, but millions of people might die in the process.

You know friend, I understand how you feel. When I look out at the world, I see so much garbage that I can’t even believe it.

Then I hang out with my four year old. She doesn’t understand racism, politics or climate. But she knows that she really likes everyone, respects others pronouns and likes sharing what she has.

There’s hope. As cynical as I am, there is hope. And the fact that you feel so strongly fills me with as much hope as watching my little one learn about the fucked up planet she’s inheriting.

What happens to grow up to suck so hard?

Why can't we just look at each other and imagine the child that person once was, then maybe we'd care more about others like your 4 year old does.

Because allocating limited resources isn’t in the purview of a 4 year old. As you grow up, you begin to learn who wields the power and resources and how it’s allocated and what the consequences are for those who forgo it or can’t get it.

I actually do wonder though if in the end, it really matters?

Everyone with power ends up losing it, or acquiring some strife, maybe if we cared less we'd find out it wasn't that much of a concern anyway.

I mean, do people chose power or does power choose them? Would you appreciate it if you had it?

The entire lifestyle of the west is mostly unsustainable if everything started getting allocated equally. So it matters to a lot of people.

This is beautiful writing and it deserves a reply, but for now I’m just going to read your words and wonder along with you.

I’ll edit this comment at some point but for now, thank you friend. This is beautiful and poignant. :)

Edit - I notice you edited your reply but I’m happy I got to read the original. You’re a beautiful writer.

On a positive note, doing this is a very good way to understand people. Even their bad actions make a lot more sense if you delve into some developmental psychology along with just engaging your intuition about what their inner 4 year old wants out of life.

On a negative note, I think most people convince themselves of being much more grown up than they actually are. Really it's far easier to just get meaner and more calloused to survive while suffocating the core self. Maturity is more like a deliberate and careful edifice built with a lot of work, self-reflection, and self-forgiveness. It's not a given that just getting older does that, other than the inhibitory part of the brain getting better at restraining the emotional part after adolescence. (Usually, unless trauma happens that's sufficient to get stuck in a particular development stage.)

We are taught in Western and most other societies of today to numb pain. The problem is that we have knowledge of the problems of this world. I think if we allow ourselves to feel the pain of our knowledge and understand our existence through it, we can return to a childlike state and realize the pain is not something wrong with us, but our natural inclination and love for the world telling us that we are doing something wrong.

We may not be able to solve the problems created by our species, but if we learn to live with respect for the planet then we can at least know we are doing as much as we can with our own existence.

> Why can't we just look at each other and imagine the child that person once was

As hard as it is to generalize, I'd say it's because sometimes our needs aren't getting met, particularly our need for safety. When we feel like we're in danger, it's very hard to appreciate wonderful things. ("This person feels like they're in danger" is also a decent way to broadly sympathize with other folks, along the same lines as "imagine the child that person once was.")

Thank you, this is beautiful and deep. I think I will try to imagine people as children and imagine them growing up more. Much easier to project loving-kindness that way.

Because the adult that person is now often is the source of so much pain and anguish to others?

It's a lie that kids are naturally good. Leave them alone long enough and it'll go Lord of the flies real quick.

The lord of the flies was made up. Here’s an actual anecdote of what happens (spoiler, they work together): https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/may/09/the-real-lord-...

>Here’s an actual anecdote of what happens

Sometimes this happens, sometimes not.

Or it does always and not the other way around.

Have you considered that you might also be living in denial? As far as I know your brains are full of chemical reactions that make your little princess seem perfect. I'm a father as well and it is sometimes hard to distinguish "I love my kid and she's perfect" from "my kid is actually very kind". I hope the latter is true for you!

This is an interesting comment and I’ll reply with two points:

First, my kid can be a real little shit. :)

Second, I think about that a lot. My Dad and I have a close relationship and sometimes I wonder if that’s because we are personally compatible or whether there’s something biological that’s just beyond our consciousness. In terms of my kid, I wonder the same thing (particularly when she’s being a little shit).

I hope the truth is somewhere in the middle. I’m her dad so I’m very biased in her favour. There is an entire biological side that I don’t think my conscious brain has direct read access to. But I still hope that my little girl is perfect and stays this wonderful kind little angel.

> There’s hope.

There's hope because 4 year olds aren't racist and "respect pronouns"? I hate to break it to you, but no children are born racist and they will believe and copy whatever you tell them whether it's religion, racism or alternative pronouns. None of this puts food on the table, though, does it?

My boomer parents were raised by parents who were taught not to tell their kids they loved them.

My (privileged) five-year-old has emotional tools that I didn’t have until I was 25.

I do think we’re generally getting better at raising empathetic kids. It’s not uniform, but it’s better.

I think you're too hard on the older generations.

They lived in a time where kitchen appliances were a new thing, most work involved manual labour and lots of time. Getting used to hardship and not whining about it was their way of getting through it. Tired? Tough!

There is a balance to be had which I usually sort by "needs" and "wants". There aren't many needs and the rest is a luxury.

I'm curious, why do you think having emotional tools is a "privilege"? I might be wrong in my understanding of the term, but isn't it more of a right than a privilege?

Nothing is either a right or a privilege, objectively speaking, so it can be a right in one historical/social context and a privilege in another.

Privilege is something good, unequally (and/or unjustly) distributed. Rights are something good that should be afforded to everyone. So there is a lot of overlap but also distinction.

Rights are an ideal, privileges are a material reality.

Having your right realized and not tampered is a privilege.

> Then I hang out with my four year old. She doesn’t understand racism, politics or climate.

To put this in perspective: Hitler was once a sweet 4 year old. Stalin was one too. Mao? Yup. Putin? Sure he was. Everyone on this planet was once that sweet 4 year old not grasping any of what you mention. And yet, look where we are.


I mean, yours is even worse. You behave like an angry kid in an online game.

Hopefully people do realize that above is the reply to a deleted comment by hluska

Wow, you are actually the person I replied to in the first place. There goes the hope.

And again, emotional intelligence would help out here.

Pull yourselves together. The previous century had trench warfare, famines, WWII, The Khmer Rouge, the cultural revolution, the Spanish flu, polio, threat of a nuclear holocaust, threat of overpopulation, AIDS, Imperial Japan, Apartheid, lobotomies, etc. Most of that stuff is now under control and probably will be for your kid's entire life. There's no chance global warming will be anywhere near as bad as many of those things for anyone alive today. For even further in the future, we have no idea.

Your despair is probably a result of being fed emotionally manipulative stories from the news and social media for too long. The real world has never been better, and it hasn't stopped improving. Try looking at some of Bill Gates's writing for inspiration. That's somebody who's not afraid to see the bright side of life while not ignoring the dark.

> Pull yourselves together. [snip 20th century bad stuff]. Most of that stuff is now under control and probably will be for your kid's entire life. There's no chance global warming will be anywhere near as bad as many of those things for anyone alive today.*

Umm. I'm pretty sure that drought, mega storms, wildfires, famine, and mass migrations of refugee populations (just to start) will spawn horrors in the 21st century at least as bad.

I mean, consider that some of the worst events in the 20th were essentially triggered by the great depression. As a civilization, we're going to have to withstand stressors far more severe than that before the 21st century is out.

You need to put some numbers to those disasters. We already have all of them without global warming. We're much better at coping with them than we used to as well.

Except a large part of humanity is _more_ vulnerable to them now due to population growth in vulnerable areas.

There's sufficient evidence that our response to climate change in the past was migration, sometimes by force.

People have put numbers to it. Climate scientists have been literally weeping in interviews because of what they know. These are things that you just have to read for yourself to get a sense of the scale of the problem. But here's some exercises if you actually want to learn about this and you're not just going to hand-wave away unpleasant notions:

1. Read about the Permian Triassic extinction event (The Great Dying). That involved somewhere between 1200 - 2000 ppm CO2. We're emitting CO2 at least an order of magnitude faster than what led to that event. We still have at least 800 ppm to go to get to that scale, but if the permafrost decides to start belching everything up, we'll be heading there very, very quickly. Feasibly by the end of the century.

2. Do the math on how much excess carbon is in the atmosphere right now compared to the ice core data from the past 800,000 years. That ranged from around 180 - 300 ppm that changed gradually on the scale of thousands of years. That range is what humans have lived in for the existence of our particular species. Now, take the extra 120+ ppm and determine just how much material that actually is. How much mass. Now, do the math on how much of that carbon an average forest can absorb. Or any of these direct air capture technologies.

There is so much data out there. It's easily available. It's far easier emotionally to just plaster over this with general skepticism and blind faith in technological progress though. You can sealion all you want, demanding other people produce things on a platter for you to digest, but you're not going to really understand until you look at it directly anyways. You don't have to be a climate scientist to crunch some of the numbers.

You should explicitly state the logic you're implying and the conclusions. That way, if there are any embarrassing mistakes, they'll be obvious. Are you saying that with 1200-2000ppm, we'll have another extinction event? That it will include humans? Also that we expect to reach that concentration in our childrens' lifetimes? Those claims together are certainly not what scientists predict, so I don't know if you're wrong or using some other logic that I didn't infer correctly from your words.

None of those will compare to climate change. All of those events, bad as they were, were over in the relatively short term. Climate change is going to be all of that, a hundred times worse, and whatever anyone does at the time isn't going to fix it.

Your optimism is the result of living through the era of apparently limitless [0] energy and resources and the resulting development it has enabled. But the books don't balance. We can't possibly go on on this trajectory without the house falling down around us.

[0] not actually limitless

None of that will compare to the catastrophe that is climate change, if our understandings of the consequences are correct.

A 7.22% reduction in GDP compared to where it would be in 2100? [1]

That's 2-3 years worth of GDP growth right now.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/20/climate-change-to-slow-globa...

This only factors in economic damage from the higher temperature. It's not looking at floods, extreme weather, and definitely not looking at second-order effects - mass migrations, increased risk of war etc.

It is an absurd fantasy to imagine that the only effects of global warming in the next hundred years will be economic contraction (though note that economic contraction YoY itself is almost unheard of in the US and Europe, and will bring dire consequences).

It's also an absurd fantasy that you can predict the future in technological advancements on a 100-year scale either. Not to mention the intractibility of climate modeling over that time period.

Considering a few years ago people were worried about the problems of jobs being automated away, you might imagine a little climate change creating extra work for people would be good for social cohesion.

But it's all just a bunch of bozos with PhD's and masters degrees.

Nordhaus's Nobel is a fraud.

Steve Keen's done some excellent debinking.

Starting point:


TL;DR: Asssumming one can translate different lattitudes' GDPs to that of a planet undergone global climate disruption is ... an exceedingly dubious proposition.

What are those understandings? The only quantitative predictions I've seen are utterly tame compared to those 20th century problems.

[0] shows estimates of sea level rise from ~0.5m up to 2.5m by 2100. This alone will induce catastrophic flooding in some of the world's most populous cities and regions.

[1] covers some estimates of how prevalent wet bulb temperatures of >35C (the upper limit for a healthy adult to survive outside in the shade) will become. Any heatwave in this area will kill many vulnerable people and will stop almost any outdoor economic activity.

These are just 2 easily quantifiable numbers that will directly make life much harder in the next century (and the problems won't stop in the century after that). The second order effects can also be imagined.

[0] https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/... [1] https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/19/eaaw1838

Thank you, but that doesn't quantify catastrophe. I mean numbers of dead, cost in dollars, etc. Maybe we can cope with those 35 degree events by staying in air conditioned buildings like people already do in SE Asia. Maybe cities can move. The world's biggest(?) (Shenzhen) didn't really exist at all 80 years ago, or even 40 years ago.

Here [0] is a study that found that, with the current trend, climate-related deaths per year in 2100 will be near the total infectious-disease related deaths per year today.

Also, Shenzen is only ~20th biggest city in the world [1], and its age is the exception, not the rule. The majority of the world's most populated cities are older than the countries they are located in, many of them being continuously inhabited since prehistoric times. Also, while creating a new city and populating it is possible with somewhat limited human harm (though rural->urban migration has its human impact, to be sure), deopopulating and moving a city of tens of millions (say, New York City, which sits at 10m elevation) is an entirely different scale of human displacement.

[0] https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w27599/w275...

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

I assume you're using that 85 deaths / 100000 annually which is for the worst case scenario of RCP8.5. With the more reasonable RCP4.5, it's only 14/100000, less than road deaths today. Road death rates have already plummeted by a factor of several over the past few decades. So we've already suffered far worse than the effects of 2100 climate change just from the direct danger of cars.

Since we'll probably continue to have improvements in safety, diseases, etc. between now and 2100, the world should be a safer place for humans by then. So it doesn't make sense for people to worry their kids will suffer a bad world due to climate change. They'll most likely enjoy a better world than us despite climate change.

Did you mention preshistoric occupation to suggest that continuous occupation is necessary for a city? That surely helps but if an area has to be vacated, people will obviously go somewhere else, probably another place that was already occupied. Cities renew themselves anyway within the climate change kind of time frame. Buildings usually aren't designed to last more than 50 or 100 years. People obviously don't last longer than that either. So cities of 2100 will likely contain mostly new buildings and people that don't exist today, while today's ones will be gone. They'll effectively be whole new cities. I don't see why that renewal can't coexist with a gradual move inland. Not starting from scratch, just putting new development slightly more on the landward side of the city than before.

> Since we'll probably continue to have improvements in safety, diseases, etc. between now and 2100, the world should be a safer place for humans by then. So it doesn't make sense for people to worry their kids will suffer a bad world due to climate change. They'll most likely enjoy a better world than us despite climate change.

I am sorry, but this is just delusional. Perhaps the biggest catastrophes will be averted, but only with great effort that our children and grandchildren will have to endure.

Quantify these catastrophes and the effort that will be needed to avert them.

Bear in mind that civilization will collapse without the great effort of people doing their jobs and keeping everything working, climate change or not. So great effort is going to happen regardless. It's not a tragedy that people work.

Droughts followed by famines will become the order of the day in most of the world, wars will be fought for access to water, refugee crises the likes of which haven't been seen since for maybe 2000 years, greatly increasing the risk of nuclear holocaust (which is already at an all-time high, with the USA unilaterally withdrawing from its treaty with Russia, and exploring low-yield nuclear weapons), the rise of surveillance states now becoming possible to a degree that was barely even dreamed of before our time, a (mild) global pandemic showing how brittle our systems are and how much our leaders are willing to put economic benefit ahead of human life, the new rise of fascism in the US and Europe - we are well on the way to the worse centuries in recent human history.

Make no mistake: there is absolutely no doubt that climate change, on its current unchecked path, will end human civilization as we know it. That is not to say that there won't be a human civilization in 100 years, but there is no way for the current system to resist flooding of some of the world's largest cities and other densely populated areas, probably physically displacing more than 500 Million people, heat waves that will kill a healthy adult in the shade in much of the warmer regions, extreme weather events becoming increasingly common and more severe, and all of the consequences of these items - drought, famine, wars over land and drinking water, massacres to contain the migration of the hundreds of millions of people that will be displaced.

And of course, essentially every dollar of GDP growth that we currently make is only increasing the problems above, and will continue to do so on the current path.

The only way to avert the catastrophe is to drastically change our civilization today - to stop burning any fossil fuel or methane gas today, literally (yesterday would have been better), and take on all of the major economic overhaul that entails. Every day we continue to burn fossil fuels, to raise livestock in industrial numbers, to burn down forests etc is increasing the magnitude of the catastrophes to come (it is too late to completely avoid catastrophe, we can only hope to make them milder).

Downvote all you like.

It won't change the facts.

> The real world has never been better

Better for whom? And why do you think Bill Gates is any kind of authority on this subject? Read some of Derrick Jensen's writing instead.

... you might want to add why Derrick Jensen is an authority instead. From a quick google search he just appears to be some random anprim guy that wrote some environmentalist books. Bill Gates has his foundation that is working to mitigate climate change, so I'd say he at least has some qualification since he is presumably in contact with scientific authorities. What does your guy have?

Not that I am in any way a fan of anprim thinking, but anyone with massive vested interest in the perpetuation of present day power dynamics (eg massive wealth) has negative starting authority when it comes to evaluating the quality of that world and the value of its preservation.

Jensen, in addition to being a prolific author, is one of today's leading environmental and social philosophers. The only reason you know or care about who Gates is, is because he became very wealthy from predatory business practices. Kind of a stupid reason to pay attention to someone.

I care about what Gates says because he's founded one of the world's largest charity organizations and has done a great deal to reduce human suffering as well as specifically a lot of work in regard to climate change. Being rich alone doesn't matter to me, I don't give a damn what e.g. Jeff Bezos has to say about the matter.

Being a prolific author doesn't mean much to me and neither does being an environmental philosopher in this context. Someone like Peter Singer definitely is an authority on environmental ethics, but on the effect of climate change/the ecological state of the world I don't see why anyone would consider him an authority.

> I care about what Gates says because he's founded one of the world's largest charity organizations

So your criteria for who is and is not worth listening to is "rich man who gives a lot of money to charity." Wealth is not some kind of superior substitute for expertise or insightful ideas. Unfortunately this seems to be a popular delusion today; that does not make it any less stupid.

Better for the vast majority of the planet. Extreme poverty has been on a constant decline.

Extreme poverty has been on a constant decline only as defined by the world bank (by choosing an arbitrary dollar amount of 1.90 international dollars that could barely buy some food, but not medicine or shelter).

In real terms, it has been stagnant or increasing, especially as people who were living well off the land have been forced to participate in the monetary economy or die of starvation.

And even by the world bank standards [0], the only gains have been because of China (a planned economy that has ignored any american or european economic orthodoxy), and to a lesser extent, India, which has mostly advanced by freeing itself from the burdens of colonialism (before colonialism, it was one of the richer areas of the world). In sub-Saharan Africa, extreme poverty has actually been increasing.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_poverty#/media/File:To...

> In sub-Saharan Africa, extreme poverty has actually been increasing.

According to your source, only in absolute terms, not in relative terms. Ideally, both should go down of course, but it does mean a smaller percentage of Africans live in extreme poverty today than they did 25 years ago.

> a planned economy that has ignored any american or european economic orthodoxy

I implore you to look up how China’s economy functions. It is successful because they threw away the majority of the “planned economy” bits of communism and have a capitalist economy. They have a stock market, citizens invest in companies they choose, starting a business doing whatever you want is easier there than many places in the US, businesses fail all of the time. None of those are features of a planned economy.

> and to a lesser extent, India, which has mostly advanced by freeing itself from the burdens of colonialism

It has little to do with that and more to do with making themselves globally competitive in many sectors (IT and outsourcing being obvious ones). They also operate under a capitalist economy that fosters these successful projects.

> In real terms, it has been stagnant or increasing, especially as people who were living well off the land have been forced to participate in the monetary economy or die of starvation.

Funny how people throw out actual concrete definitions and then say things like “In real terms” without providing any kind of definition. Maybe start by defining that.

Furthermore, the amount of people who were “living off of the land” are included in the 1.90 figure measured by the world bank. That’s not based on receipts at the grocery store or tax returns.

Finally, the number of people “living well off of the land” (who just were fucked if they got meaningfully suck btw) is vanishingly small compared to how many were “living malnourished off of the land”.

You are looking at how China's economy functions today in a few cities, and not how it functions in the vast majority of the rest of the country. More importantly, while China has mostly or entirely gotten rid of the planned economy, it's success has come in large part because of massive monetary interference by the state in the economy, protectionism, forcing western companies to give up some of their IP to do business there, and of course a good dose of slave labor, like every successful economy in history unfortunately (I am absolutely opposed to this last one, and it is one of the things we have profited most from in Chinas's growth).

Countries that moved from a planned economy to capitalism under the IMF and WB's guidance have generally rushed to privatize their industry, have accepted and dutifully implemented all international IP treaties, have opened up their arms to foreign investors and sold their industries to them, and are almost all in much worse situations than China, with no hope of regaining the lost ground for now.

For India, I will only say one thing - India would not have been an IT powerhouse if it had been under colonial rule. The British wanted cotton and spices and other raw or lightly processed materials from India, and that is what it would have been forced to do - same as the path the American colonies rebelled against. Industrializationa and high-technology was for the mother land, not the colonies, in the horrible economic principle of the 'competitive advantage'.


Related to poverty, you're right, I probably should have given a definition. Extreme poverty means not having access to one or more of the the basic necessities of life - water, enough food not be malnourished, enough shelter not to die of hypothermia or heat, and access to medical care to survive the most common diseases in your region. If you have only these basic necessities and nothing else, you are still poor, but not living in extreme poverty.

From what I understand, the monetary threshold for these should be somewhere around 15 dollars per day to get out of extreme poverty (note that this 'income' includes begging, access to communal resources etc). There are of course many opinions on this number. However, the 1.9 USD value is pitifully low, and you can easily check that yourself: please think about what you can buy for 3 USD in you region each day, without any kind of borrowing, begging, living off the land, sharing etc (as those are already included in the number). Would you consider yourself to not be in extreme poverty?

Note that if we look at malnourishent, the percentage and number of people who are malnourished has stayed roughly the same since we started collecting data (1981), after increasing steadily up to ~2000.

And about people living off the land, they are indeed included in the data since 1981, but not in the data since 1800, as often presented.

Edit: and yes, you are right that people living off the land were usually doomed if they got significantly sick. But this is also true of, for example, everyone living on minimum wage in the US today, so I fail to see what's improved.

> But this is also true of, for example, everyone living on minimum wage in the US today, so I fail to see what's improved.

No it’s not and it takes a shocking amount of willful ignorance to suggest otherwise. If you become very ill in the US you just show up to an ER and they fix the problem. The ER cannot refuse you because you are poor. You deal with bankruptcy/hospital negotiations after. This brings me to my next point.

If you are on minimum wage in the US, there is Medicaid (and additional government health coverage in some states like California) for low income households. Not only do you get health coverage at minimum wage, it doesn’t even bankrupt you if you’re making use of the resources available.

If you’re living off the land, you eat some contaminated fruit and you die. You get a bad infection, you die. You get a bad gash, you might bleed out or get an infection and die. Bad water, giardia, maybe dead. These are all trivial for anyone to get fixed in the US and they are effectively non-issues (for people who actually seek treatment).

Additionally, entire classes of problems that plagued nomads (contaminated water, hookworm, etc) are gone because of drinkable tap water (a few fucked up communities not-withstanding) and sewage systems.

Your equivocation between those living off the land and a minimum wage US worker indicates to me you’ve never experienced low income life nor realize how many benefits of society you can still enjoy. Public education, libraries, OTA TV, parks, heating assistance (in the north at least), food stamps, Medicaid, discounted housing, etc.

If you can’t see how that’s better than living off of the land, I suspect your beef is with the lifestyle of modern civilizations and no amount of income will satisfy your comparison.

First of all, all of your examples just show that someone living for minimum wage in the US is actually making way more than 42 USD/day ((7.25 USD * 40h work week) / 7 days) by the WB standards, as all those additional protections are counted in the adjusted income. How would the poverty stats look if you took extreme poverty to be 40 USD/day?

Secondly, you can live off the land and still live in a country with a functional health system. I'm not discussing nomad hunter-gatherers here, just people who don't live off a wage, like traditional farmers and rural tribes (who still have money from trading their goods for example, and can live pretty wealthy lives, but contribute disproportionately little to GDP).

Overall the point was that people can and have been living outside of any standard of poverty for a long time in areas that nominally have very little GDP per capita, and are often getting counted as extreme poverty in stats older than 1981.

Related to medical coverage, I was thinking more along the lines of cancer or serious chronic diseases, not acute poisoning or broken limbs. The kind of diseases that not only cost serious money to overcome in a privatized health system, but also destroy your ability to work and earn money when you're whole livelihood is dependent on a wage - even if Medicaid can cove the direct medical expenses.

> cancer or serious chronic diseases

Everybody must die from something so how could anybody possibly not be in poverty by this standard? Do you only count diseases which can be treated with enough money?

If a new cancer treatment was discovered but it was incredibly expensive, perhaps requiring a team of specialists to provide exclusive continuous care to the patient for the entire rest of their life, then almost nobody could afford it and suddenly the entire world would be plunged into extreme poverty through lack of access to it. So you obviously have to accept that not everybody can have access to all possible lifesaving medical care if the world doesn't have the resources to provide it. There are already some personalized cancer treatments that come close to that. These are a net improvement for healthcare but they look like a regression by making poverty relatively worse.

You're probably right that extreme poverty is increasing if you keep broadening the definition as people get wealthier.

Wow, so having kids is the only way to be a participating human being in life and climate change?

> As cynical as I am

okay ... are you ready?

> She doesn’t understand racism

give her and her friends blue t-shirts and an equal number of other kids red t-shirts. do this for several weeks. lo and behold the basis of racism unfold.

racism is an inherent human feature which can only be overcome by education. something adults have to provide for children.

This is a ridiculous claim disproven daily by thousands of daycares practicing color-coded stable groups.

Last time I checked children bully each other over their clothes and form sub-groups based on them.


It likely also depends on how prominent the color coding is. Just a marker would probably be too abstract for children to be factored in. But I'd question your claim if children are clad differently in an obvious fashion like different shirt colors f.x.

The programs I have knowledge of use bandannas.

The study you posted does not describe children bullying or forming subgroups based on wearing a color shirt.

No, racism is not an inherent human feature. A claim like that needs better justification than ... none at all.

Humans don't seem to require much in the way of a push before racist tendencies emerge:


Suspect there’s more going on there than the naive explanation. Repeatability breaks down quite easily:


Racism is a lazy mental short cut. It reminds me of Robert Cialdini’s research.

ingroup and outgroup is an inherent feature of ALL social animals.

ingroup/outgroup behavior ≠ racism

racism is just a subgroup that is a type of ingroup/outgroup behavior.

Spoken French is just a subgroup that is a type of communication behaviour, which is an inherent feature of all social animals.

Doesn't mean speaking French is innate or inherent.

Nor does it mean that antisemitism, white supremacism, apartheid or nazism are anything but dialects of the same age-old social pattern.

also kurds vs turks vs armenians. settlers vs natives. to some extent even stuff like car drivers vs bike riders. always two+ groups whose members identify with that group and act and feel like they are fundamentally better or more worthy than another group.

it's taboo to say that - but in fact it's essential to overcome racism which seems to be the psychological root of many social issues at the moment.

Why did these guys cut off those other guys' heads in Paris or in Nice? B/c they feel like they have to protect their group ideals against people deemed unworthy to live or even die in dignity. I wouldn't call this "racism" - but I firmly believe that the psychological thinking pattern is fundamentally related and entangled.

Also interesting unpopular food for thought is that not just Murcans keeping African slaves is very much racist but also the reason for why one African tribe kept slaves from another African tribe and then sold them to American slave traders who shipped them to the new world.

Where do you think it comes from? Elephants? Of course it's an inherent human feature.

Christmas isn't an inherent human feature.

No, but marking significant events and anniversaries seems to be. Speaking English isn't inherent, but speaking is. The specific kind of racism you're thinking about probably isn't, but people preferring and trusting people more like themselves is.

The argument that less advanced societies are more racist or acceptive of racism, strongly supports the claim you are dismissing.

I'm glad someone has all of the answers.

> Denial is the only way to cope

I disagree. We can accept that we have a feeling of impossibility and still continue engaging in behaviors we predict to have a more positive outcome than any others. After all, have you ever been wrong? I have.

Occasionally the bulk of our actions create emergent shifts. It seems we will have to make adjustments and there may well be horrid consequences but the severity of those remains under our adjustment.

I'm surprised to read this on Hacker News, one of the homes of "impossible" successes.

>I mean, the alternative is to sit white-knuckled until I die in a food riot.

You could try participating in politics! It's not exactly fun, but it's a lot better than dying.

No mainstream politician has a realistic plan for addressing climate change.

The dynamic range of the elected government body is extremely low. As long as there are a significant proportion of people in office who deny the reality of climate change, it is unlikely that meaningful discussion of solutions will occur.

In response to a sister comment, realistically, to address climate change, we would need to:

- build roughly 300 GWh of grid storage worldwide, lithium iron phosphate seems a leading contender although sodium-[sulfur|nickel] has the obvious abundance advantage

- replace gas heating systems with heat pumps and district (waste) heating

- implement carbon capture at all steel/concrete production plants (or less likely use low-carbon processes)

- replace fueled vehicle use (most of which is personal cars) with electric

- build some amount of non-polluting power stations, I'm not sure what exactly but by now it's the easiest part

- I'm not sure exactly but maybe you can replace torch manufacturing with electric arcs and lasers or something?

- also some carbon capture unfortunately probably the crushed olivine thing I'd guess

Someone's probably made a projection for the cost of this but it's useless with any shift of this magnitude.

I would make a stronger claim (and no, I haven't done the research to back it up, just a hunch):

> Nobody has a realistic plan for addressing climate change.

There are plenty. They are only unrealistic when people belive them to be unrealistic.

The best ones I've seen so far involve massive engineering projects in orbit to let us control the amount of sunlight hitting the earth.

Those are technologically feasible, theoretically workable, and at least somewhat reversible.

However, they don't really take human nature into account. Megasatellites for solar gain control would be an intensely scarce, valuable resource, and a de facto superweapon - "agree to our terms or you'll never have good crop growing sunlight again."

Nobody would be willing to cede or share control of such a system to someone else. Wars would break out quickly, and no deployed system would go undestroyed for long.

The other plans I've seen seem problematic to me either morally ("first world gets to keep its tech but you guys who are bootstrapping with carbon can go DIAF"), technologically ("We think there will turn out to be some way to capture carbon super-efficiently that we haven't found yet"), or reversibility ("whoops, we put too much dust in the atmosphere - guess we're starving three billion people for the next year or four, folks").

I'm not saying there is no possible solution - just that I haven't seen a realistic one myself.

I meant the plan of "stop emitting carbon, even if it hurts the economy".

That's what I was referring to when I referenced hurting third-world economies badly.

My understanding is that a lot of developing regions are using their carbon stores to improve quality of life and lifespan for their inhabitants - bad as coal may be for your lungs, it's not as bad as having no reliable energy for things like sewers.

Hence my comment saying "...if you're bootstrapping with carbon you can go DIAF."

Thats fine, you can work to support non mainstream ones, or failing that, there are riots to join,

Well, "everyone is in denial" is too strongly worded.

A lot of us are aware that there are all sorts of self-reinforcing feedback loops that we have not found yet, and those will definitely influence the events. But models cannot account for hypotheticals.

> sit white-knuckled until I die in a food riot.

This is nonsense, food production on a per-capita basis is increasing and population is leveling off.

And this year's Thanksgiving turkey is reporting it continues to be fed more and more each day! The future is bright!

This gave me a chuckle. Thanks for that

I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. This reply seems very similar to "global warming isn't happening, it still n degrees in winter".

Things are just starting to change now. Our food production levels are the result of previous efforts. Not future efforts dealing with future changes.

An average increase is supported by data, food production issues is really not.

How does food production deal with crop destruction by droughts, freak storms, or flooding rains driven by climate change? How do the world's poorest deal with rising food prices caused by crop failure?

That's what we're worried about, not "the current steady state trend is currently going up, it's all fine!"

You forgot soil depletion, loss of pollinators, and system ecological collapse, but yeah.

Food production per acre has increased by ~4x over a century, but that's the only 4x we ever got and the only 4x we'll ever be getting. We've been at diminishing returns for decades but will soon peak and experience lots of bad effects from unsustainable practices.

It is not correct. Here in the Netherlands we have Avery efficient and sustainable food production (vegetables and fruits). The systems are getting so efficient that in 20 years from now it is expected to have almost fully automated production factories which can operate indefinitely (theoretically) And our export is big. When other countries adopt our technologies we can provide food for billions with just a tiny environmental footprint. So there is absolutely good progress made in that field.

Efficient, but unfortunately not sustainable at this scale and intensity. E.g. our soils are in a bad state, see the recent report from Planbureau voor de leefomgeving.

You underestimate humanities ability to adapt. I’d bet in 100 years a lot of food is grown in vertical farms and those can be made (mostly) immune to droughts and storms. It isn’t going to be easy but nor is society just going to throw in the towel when it gets hard.

We won't throw in the towel, but there will be casualties. I'm not terribly worried about humanity, I'm concerned about quite a few humans though.

For sure I’m not a denier just a (semi) optimist. I certainly hope we can figure out a way to get around it but I’d wager we’re looking at the next Bronze Age collapse except the people will be fleeing from the equator this time.

We, as an international society, have been so focused on improvement in material conditions that we haven't really done a proper attempt at looking for a sustainable way forward. Your Bronze Age analogy is spot on; the ancients had global trade and rapidly improving conditions too, and things were looking extremely bright for them. Until it didn't.

As the grandparent stated, "there will be casualties". Sure, I'm quite certain humanity will recover, and probably end up better off than we are now, but that doesn't mean the chain of events leading up to that that won't be hell.

I dont think you have any idea how expensive that is. Completely possible, but the cost isn't going go make food more available.

I do, but when the alternative is starve or come up with systems that exist outside it could be the cheaper option.

> crop destruction by droughts, freak storms, or flooding rains

Aggregate data is much more relevant than anecdotes.

It's at least worth keeping in mind that this discussion thread is happening on a link to an article describing an occurrence -- the Laptev Sea not freezing by late October -- that aggregate data up through a couple of decades ago would not have predicted. Global warming itself is arguably a radical break from what aggregate data tells us about climate trends, and the (originally good faith) argument against it for decades was, essentially, that the "alarmists" were mistaking statistically insignificant temperature drifts for new statistically significant trends.

The theory that global warming is going to lead to food shortages in the relatively near future is not an out-of-the-blue flight of fancy on the part of random HN commenters; a UN panel in 2019 warned of this possibility, as did a 2020 IPCC report (pre-pandemic, no less), as did a 2016 study in the Lancet; this is just from a cursory examination of the Google results for "food shortage predictions global warming".

> Aggregate data is much more relevant than anecdotes.

Extrapolation of historic data trends isn’t always a good way to predict the future either.

Dinosaurs reigned for over 100 million years. Until they suddenly didn't.

The world's poor are the victims of famines, yet the GP was worried about food riots for themselves personally. If they live in a developed country, that is ridiculous. If there's global famine, they'll simply use their money to buy food for themselves, pushing the price up so poor Africans can't afford it. That's what we did during the 2008 food price crisis.


> scared you into not fulfilling the genetic imperative, ending your own genetic line

> It's always a shame when an intelligent person chooses to ignore the sacrifice every one of their ancestors made to bring them to this point

Ok please don’t project your creepy literal-Darwinist ideology on other people. The parent comment literally said “one of many reasons.” I am not having kids because my “genetic imperative” is about the species itself, not my specific genes, and I sincerely don’t care about whether or not the Ojnabieoot Dynasty makes it to 2100. The idea that I’m “ignoring the sacrifices of my ancestors” is idiotic and unnecessarily insulting.

> to know that generations of people eked by just for you to play video games all day would be a truly disappointing conclusion.

Seriously what in the world is your problem? You don’t know anything about this person. This comment is pure toxicity, completely undermines the point I think you are trying to make, and adds nothing to the conversation.

> Ok please don’t project your creepy literal-Darwinist ideology on other people.

"Darwinism" is an "ideology" now? I thought believing in evolution was actually in-vogue! Do you actually not think intelligence is heritable, despite every study into the subject confirming that, as one of the most-reproducible pieces of social science research? Do you think we'll be better off if the smart people live lives of hedonism while only people who aren't as Climate Enlightened produce all the children?

No, the ideology is using an idiotic personification of Darwinism as a guideline for major life decisions like “do I want kids.”

I am not engaging with your blatant eugenics and ignorant Redditor’s understanding of intelligence and heritability. Needless to say, two commenters who don’t want kids does not mean that the unwashed hordes of dumb dumbs are going to take us over.

With all due respect, you long abandoned reason and now you’re just being an asshole. Someone decided not to reproduce - your opinions are of no value to their body.

From the evolutionary point of view, if some people are susceptible to believing in harmful ideologies that lead them to die off, maybe it's better to let them to die off instead of spreading their mind-virus further. There are many smart people who have many children like Elon Musk, Antony Davies or Kirk Sorenson.

Edit: some people interpret this as saying that not wanting children is a genetic trait, but what i was trying to say was that it's a counterproductive idea which will eventually burn itself out, and there are many smart people who are not suffering from it. So we won't run out of smart people.

The idea that susceptibility to dumb ideologies is a genetic weakness that “smarter” people are not susceptible to is completely at odds with current anthropological and sociological knowledge - ideology is part of the human condition, and being unable to determine whether or not your ideology is dangerous bullshit is part of the nature of ideology. Teichmuller, Nazi Germany’s greatest mathematician, was also an anti-Semitic loon.

Your comment about “smart people will have lots of kids who will save us” [paraphrasing] is ironically invalidated by Elon Musk himself, whose COVID tweeting and commentary is pure fact-free ideology (most infamously here: https://mobile.twitter.com/elonmusk/status/12407546572631449... but he’s still going: https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-and-kids-wont-get-...) It is worth emphasizing that these comments are just straight-up indefensibly dumb.

I was not saying that the idea of not having children is genetically determined. (There might be some genetical component related to being susceptible to depressions, but that's not the point).

I was trying to say, that the idea itself is often passed to children, via non-genetic means, and it will burn out the part of population bearing it.

But that's not fatal for humanity because there are many smart people who have multiple children, so independently of exact percentage of heritability of intellect we are not doomed.

And regarding to the snide comment about Elon, independently of his opinions on any issues, he have done enough to prove that he is smarter and vastly more useful to humanity than average people.

My point was that smart people like Elon are fully capable of believing suicidally stupid things.

If you knew their life would be misery and toil, would you have kids? I'm terrified for mine.

This is something I think about a lot. The most important is to keep things going. Our descendants might have terrible lives for a thousand generations and it would be worth it if it means humanity can get to better times on the other side. The only reason we’ve had all this wealth and ease to squander is because of those who went before us.

I am hugely optimistic about humanity and technology and believe we will get through this just fine. I say this to qualify my question here:

Our descendants might have terrible lives for a thousand generations and it would be worth it if it means humanity can get to better times on the other side.

Would it be worth it? There is likely no net loss for the universe if we or even the entire Earth disappeared overnight and that might be better than thousands of generations suffering painfully over thousands of years.

Are you happy to be alive, knowing that untold ancestors lived comparatively short and brutish lives

I have sorrow and compassion for all humans who have had a hard life, but I don't feel any obligations either to or from my ancestors.

I was questioning your assertion that centuries of "terrible lives" (which, to me, seems a regression for most) would be an acceptable price to pay for "better times" later on. Compared to the past 1000 years where life has, in the main, improved gradually generation after generation, I feel this assertion at least deserves to be questioned.

Terrible life is always better than no life because the person living it has the choice to kill themselves. If it lasts 1000s of generations, then obviously they will have chosen life, so it's worth giving it to them.

In the immortal words of the GOP, "Fuck you, got mine."*

*But no not necessarily, but at the same time I had a lack of autonomy in regards to those decision made.

Why do you think suffering is worse than not existing? If they find their suffering to be unbearable they can end their lives, But unlike us they will have more information to make such a decision. With suffering they have a chance to at least achieve something, so we should not be ones deciding to discard their lives.

If I have two children and do not wish to have a third, should I feel any guilt for the hypothetical "discarded" child's inability to experience life? I contend that as they will never exist, I have no obligation towards them.

If you have resources to support the third child, and you chose to not spend them on the child, you should feel some guilt for slowing down the progress of humanity. There is limited time until a meteorite hits the earth, or CO2 runs out, or some other life ending event happens on earth, and the more people live until that, the more possibilities we will be able to explore leading to higher likelihood that we discover new science and art increasing liveable space and improving everyone's life.

If you look at the history, every discovery was made due to very rare and specific combination of factors, and the only way to create such combinations is by trying many life paths in parallel.

> If you have resources to support the third child, and you chose to not spend them on the child, you should feel some guilt for slowing down the progress of humanity.

Perhaps concentrating attention on two children makes it that much more likely that they will have longer, fulfilling lives, and grace us with their eventual wisdom, rather than all three grubbing in the rubble of a collapsed civilization.

Sure, the odds of either path don't change much based on the single decision of whether to have another child, but every little bit helps, right?

Some billions of sperm would like a word with you.

Any cell can become a human if it is placed in a favorable environment. My argument is not about intrinsic value of sperm cell, fetus, or a newborn, my argument is about maximizing the amount of life in general. Every human alive by simply pursuing his own selfish goals, makes lives of everyone else better, by increasing the usefulness of research.

There is no other side. We've used all of the easily-accessible high-energy-density resources on the planet -- once technology drops below the critical level necessary to produce wind/solar/hydro/nuclear, we'll never be able to recover a high-energy society. We'll never get off the earth, let alone out of the solar system. And even if we waited millions of years, bacteria has learned to digest lignin, so there will never be another Carboniferous Period.

Imagine medieval peasant, which was most of the population ever. What they would give to live our lives! Toil? Are you kidding me? We have it better than some 120 billion human being before us. Concepts like basic freedom, education, healthcare were not a right that most ever had.

Watching half of your kids die before age of 5 from something a set of pills cures now? Your wife risking her life with every delivery? Dying of very minor wounds, when flu is killer that covid can only dream about?

I could go on like that for very long time... No, our life isn't a misery and toil in any western society, unless we make mistakes and chose such a path. My isn't for example, nor is most people I know.

Its kind of sad to see how weak we have become. 100 years ago a mutated flu killed 100 million people which was significant chunk of global population, right after the most horrible war mankind has ever experienced, and people got through. We can get through almost anything. Its properly sad what's happening. As a nature, travel and adventure lover my heart weeps, but I have no doubt mankind will get through this. There is still so much beauty out there. I am not naive anymore we will get much wiser while getting through this, but somehow we will manage. Till then, taking it day by day, enjoying the little things life so often gives us, enjoying friends and family... that's still a great life to live. Only few in the history had such a luck. I am definitely not terrified for my kids.

> Imagine medieval peasant, which was most of the population ever.

Maybe instead of using your imagination and whatever garbage you saw in a Hollywood movie, you can read accounts of how native people lived in places like North America up until a few hundred years ago.

I think you missed the point where majority of people now having access to things that were not invented/widely awailable as recent as beginning of last century. It is not specific to a place

Everyone's life is some variety of misery and toil. I'm not especially worried for my children because spending time on worry is illogical and counterproductive - sure, things could go badly, but as long as I am always doing everything in my power to ensure my children do well, I can rest with an easy conscience no matter what happens.

>sure, things could go badly, but as long as I am always doing everything in my power to ensure my children do well, I can rest with an easy conscience no matter what happens.

Sad. Sorry to hear it. It's always a shame when an intelligent person chooses to ignore the sacrifice every one of their descendents will make, just so that they don't have to risk the potential of having any hardship themselves.

[edited to note that I missed this was ironically reframing words back to the first commenter, which zaps my grump out of the water. Sorry!] Interpreting "I am always doing everything in my power to ensure my children do well" as "you won't risk having the potential of any hardship yourself" is startlingly ungenerous.

Did you read the previous comments?

I wrote two (I think) of the words in my comment, the rest were written by the person I was replying to about someone deciding not to have children.

Apparently I did not read back far enough! (And now can't, ironically, because I'm pretty sure the first comment that started it off is flagged.) Grumpy parent comment retracted.

when was the last time you experienced true joy?

Ironically enough, when I was writing that comment. If you read the comment chain you'll realise why.

A lot less misery and toil than almost everyone that came before them.

How do you know? We have 80 years to go in this century: there is no war yet but we have the covid pandemic, inequality, mental health issues ‘pandemic’, obesity/diabetes ‘pandemic’, rapid climate change.

We now close our eyes to stuff that does not bother us directly like devastating destruction of the amazon, attacks on armenia, several dictators using covid to assert unlimited powers etc, all of which would deserve global military intervention imho and thus wars, but do not, makes it a matter of who you ask if this is ‘worse or better’.

Agreed, over all it is better for ‘everyone’ but we have a solid 80 years to mess this up and turn the tables. Hope we do not but I for one do not think it looks good; this state is fragile, not robust.

We have the money and technology this time around to prevent things, but not sure if we will. Handling of Covid and the many dictators, racism, immigration issues etc are not good signs we learned much from 100 years ago. Covid being the most obvious (spanish flu followed the same curve); let’s see how the rightwing/populist will be handled in the coming 10 years to see if we even can learn.

It's nice that we have you to interpret the actions of our ancestors.

Well he/she is not alone. Birth rates are falling because people don't feel secure in their future. I can't think of a single thing that makes me hopeful about the future. Stagnant salaries, stagnant economy, weak global leadership, rising nationalism and sectarianism, climate change, increasing wealth inequality, people don't agree on basic reality (masks, climate change) and no where in our political spectrum do we see glimmers of hope of someone having a vision for what is the right thing to do.

I think we are about to see a huge insolvency event in the next few years that will further destabilize the economy on top of everything. A huge demographic shift is coming with the boomers retiring, and damn, they're getting out at just the right moment as we inherit the problems they started and/or ignored for decades. If you are in your 30s or younger, we are the world's biggest suckers.

I think you are too pessimistic. This year is bad, but most recent years have been much better. And in most places on Earth, the new generation will have a better life than the last one.

why is global warming so catastrophic? the globe has been much warmer in the past and we are all here today

I actually think this is a fair question, because I feel like there are 2 issues that get conflated:

1. First, you are correct, the Earth was much hotter in the past, and I haven't seen anything convincing that global warming will lead to a fundamental "runaway greenhouse" effect a la Venus that makes life as we know it on Earth unsustainable.

2. That said, a huge climate change in a relatively short amount of time could easily lead the the deaths of billions of people, with a B. One third of the human population lives within 60 miles of the coast. Rising temperatures will lead to huge portions of the planet that are currently densely populated that will no longer support humans. The resulting migrations, "resource wars", and overall increase in extreme weather events (more hurricanes, more droughts, more floods) will lead to death and misery to a huge portion of humanity.

but if this change happens on the order of 100 years, that seems enough time to respond

But it doesn't and won't. E.g. the sea level may creep up slowly, and then all of a sudden you get a giant flood or hurricane that makes a huge portion of the coast unlivable.

And regardless, if you think moving a third of humanity to vastly different lands will be hunky dory smooth sailing, you should study history.

Not just that, but the places we currently grow our food have been primed to fertility over thousands of years of relatively stable climates. If many of those areas become substantially less useful for growing crops (because of storms, temperature changes, drought, whatever have you), it's foolish to assume that we will see just as many places that haven't had millennia of vegetation growing on them become fertile.

We've known about it for over 50 years and have done basically nothing. Why would you expect another 100 to matter?

US CO2 per capita is down 1/3 from peak. Europe is way down. China is peaking out. It's a start.

Much of this decrease in CO2 per capita in 1st world countries is just because we have outsourced much of our CO2 production to 3rd world countries

This is the graph that counts, and there is no discernible improvement in the curve: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Mauna_Loa_CO2_monthly_me...

That depends. Migrations and wars are the responses we can expect if its not handled in an organized way.

Yes, and we should start responding.

Sea level has to actually start rising enough that the rich folks who live waterfront are affected and then we will see some geoengineering efforts or at the very least some solid seawalls.

I'm waiting for someone to figure out how to use solar + hotter temperatures + seawater to give us desalinated water

You say that, but its effecting Florida now and they're still just denying AGW

Hundreds of years starting in 1800s gives us until about 2100. 80 years will be within our childrens lifetimes for us millennials.

You need to look at arable land distribution, most of them are far from seas.

NZ is the worlds largest dairy exporter. ALL of NZ is close to the sea. Many islands are the world's food basket for bananas, coffee, coconut, palm oil (which is MASSIVE) and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

> Rising temperatures will lead to huge portions of the planet that are currently densely populated that will no longer support humans.

This does not seem likely, the bar for a region being "unable to support humans" is very high. People already live in cities that need to support themselves with food from elsewhere, and worldwide calorie production per capita is increasing.

It seems like you understand very little about systems collapse.

A huge portion of our farming is currently unsustainable. Yes, we are producing more right now, but this production is on a clock. Even without any change in climate we are screwed. Look at how many places in the world are currently undergoing water system collapse. California, a huge crop producing state, has areas that have sunk nearly 30 meters because of pumping too much water. Those same areas are highly dependant on bringing in water from long distances away. Now add unstable weather patterns the the propensity for longer droughts and tell me what you think will happen?

We are not dealing with a climate change problem. We are dealing with

A long term water supply problem

A soil salinization over vast areas problem

A soil decarbonization problem over vast areas

Increasing temperatures that are pushing our current high yield crops to their limit problem

A globalized transportation system that will quickly spread crop diseases problem

Humanity is playing russian roulette with these issues. We will get a perfect storm one of these years, for example across the midwest US being hit by a drought and crop rust and we could see a near complete failure of our corn harvest. We are talking about the potential loss of 750 million tons of calories that will rock the world to its foundations.

We really should learn more about the Bronze Age collapse... Interconnected empires with hundreds and thousands of years simply vanishing in one generation due to a combination of wars, famine and possibly climate change in the Mediterranean. Supply lines got dismantled, a lot of technology was lost, Mycenaeans even forgot how to write!

Sounds like a cautionary tale to our current situation.

This statement is bizarre. Have you seen what a sea-level rise map of Bangladesh looks like? Unless Bangladeshis start evolving gills I'm pretty sure the area where many of them currently live will no longer support humans.

The Dutch have been living below sea level for centuries. It’s not the end of the world and ultimately dikes cost a lot less than losing significant land area and moving massive population centers. A few places like Florida that are awkwardly situated above porous rock like limestone and have little elevation above sea level even well inland are kinda screwed, but for the most part sea level rise is an expensive but entirely solvable problem.

It took a huge flood to mobilize the political will to spend a fuckton of money on flood prevention.*

I feel like the problem with climate change is that by the time the effects get so bad that everyone will be on board to actually put a significant amount of resources into prevention and mitigation, it will be too late to do anything, because there is a time lag between ceasing emissions and the climate stabilizing. Additionally, all the greenhouse gasses you have already emitted are still in the atmosphere so just stopping emissions will only stop the heating up (if we are lucky) and not automatically result in the climate returning to "normal".

*: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sea_flood_of_1953

Building flood barriers is a lot cheaper and a lot easier to throw money at than reducing emissions. Barriers can also be constructed on a local or regional level, whereas emission reduction requires achieving an intractable global consensus. It doesn’t follow that the same dysfunctions that have prevented emission reduction will prevent the construction of flood barriers.

Putting up barriers won't stop the water rising. And the vast majority of small island nations won't be able to afford to wall off their entire landmass

As mentioned above, places with porous geology that have low elevation even well inland are not salvageable. And the vast majority of small island nations don’t contain very many people. It seems like the goalposts are being moved here from “sea level rise is an existential threat to human civilization” to “sea level rise will disrupt the way of life of some people”.

I see this argument all the time and it feels like I must be missing something. There is no way people actually believe the whole world can go Dutch, right?

I hope this doesn't come across as overly-aggressive, but it seems to me like you don't really understand much about how the Dutch lived below sea levels for centuries.

Yes, over many centuries, they have built all sorts of contraptions in order to gain more land from the sea or lakes. But this is expensive, takes up a vast amount of skill and planning and is only feasible in certain terrain. The Netherlands is also a small and very rich country. To believe that the whole world can do this is complete insanity.

The whole world doesn’t need to. A sea level rise of 2m doesn’t matter for most of the world, or even for most coastal regions. And of the coastal regions that will be impacted most can be sacrificed with limited disruption. For the much more limited areas of the world that are coastal, have low elevation even well inland, and are densely populated or otherwise economically valuable, flood control is totally realistic (with the exception of some places like Florida that are screwed by the underlying geology).

A massive amount of humanity lives on or near the coast. In the US, 40% of the population is coastal. The cost of walling off the entire coast would be astronomical.

I think you didn’t read the comment you responded to.

When the combination of heat and humidity gets high enough (look up wet bulb temperature) then it means death for even fit young people, even when sitting in the shade with access to drinking water. We are thermodynamically incapable of surviving too high of web bulb temperatures.

Huge swaths of the globe will experience fatal web bulb temperatures multiple times a year by the end of the century. Very clearly this makes a region "unable to support humans".

A large fraction of the human population have been living in parts of the world where the external environment is lethal for months of the year for thousands of years. It’ll certainly be an interesting development when air conditioning becomes a matter of life and death the way heating in winter already is in much of the world, but air conditioning is also much less energy intensive than heating.

I don't think it is reasonable to compare other hostile environments to one where humans are literally incapable of being outside for extended periods of time. Even in harsh cold climates, it is possible to wear suitable clothing, or build a fire. That is simple, resilient, low tech and low carbon. Requiring a structure with AC and power is a much larger challenge.

Furthermore, a lot of the areas that will suffer from fatal wet bulb temperatures do not have the wealth to provide AC to everyone. This will drive mass migrations of people on a scale we have never seen before, destabilizing neighbouring countries (or more likely, leading to mass murder).

Finally, this is another positive feedback loop: more AC required -> more energy required -> more severe global warning.

Cooling and dehumidifying a residence to a non-lethal temperature and humidity doesn’t take all that much energy or particularly expensive or sophisticated technology. And emissions from the residential electricity generation required isn’t a particularly pressing concern. Intermittent power capacity like solar and wind is most available at the same time it’s most needed for driving residential air conditioning, and large countries like India, China, Brazil, Nigeria etc that are going to be facing this issue don’t have the same paranoia about nuclear power that’s so common in the West.

Land that is underwater would count as unable to support humans, I think.

A few areas of the world that are unusually low-lying and situated over permeable rock like limestone will be flooded. For the rest of the world, dikes are a well-understood technology, and quite cheap compared to sacrificing large land areas or moving cities. Even worst-case shortest-timeline estimates of sea level rise are not an existential crisis.

There are pacific islands losing land to water rise NOW. This is an existential crisis for them. What do you say to them? Sorry, we couldn't be bothered to fix the problem? (That we created and you are suffering the consequences of)

They should move. Perhaps it would soften the blow if they were also told platitudes about fault and blame, but realistically (a) the problem is not going to be solved in time, and (b) the plight of a small number of people is not going to move the needle in regards to the willingness of the world to address the issue. People who still think that the damage can be averted entirely are just as deluded as people who think that sea level rise is an existential threat to human civilization.

On top of everything else, rate matters.

An example of a climate effect that nobody mentioned is ocean acidification. It turned out that if you add CO2 to water, you get carbonic acid. This melts calcium carbonate at the bottom of the sea. The buffering makes the pH of the oceans relatively constant no matter what CO2 levels happen to be.

Unfortunately that buffering takes place on the order of thousands of years. Which is fine when CO2 slowly increases in level. But when it rises suddenly, as it is doing right now, the oceans turn into a mild acid. Mild, that is, except for corals and shellfish whose shells dissolve. And anything that depends on them. Which, given how ecosystems connect, is pretty much everything in the ocean.

Already, 3/4 of coral reefs in the world have experienced bleaching event. Similarly mass die-offs of shellfish have been widely reported in fisheries. Future projections are..bleak.

All of this from a level of change that would have been fine if it was spread over 10,000 years rather than 100.

To expand on the coral example: before fish get large enough to catch and eat, they start off as little hatchlings. Coral reefs are fish nurseries that offer protected environments before setting off for the deep blue seas, where the fishing boats find them.

Something like 40% of humans worldwide rely on fish as their primary source of protein. What happens when there's no habitat to support that food source? Mass disruptions and migrations.

So yes, the earth was warmer before, but that warming happened over geologic timeframes that allowed ecosystems to adapt and change. 100 years is long on human timescales, but it's an instantaneous disruption on geologic timescales.

And despite the convenience of your neighborhood supermarket, we are not that detached from our ecosystems. The empty shelves at the start of covid should have been a wakeup call that our supply systems are still interconnected.

A two-degree average increase in temperatures would significantly reduce crop yields in the world's breadbaskets.

If we didn't need to eat, we wouldn't be worried very much about global warming. I do need to eat, though, and I'd rather avoid having to eat global warming deniers when things get rough.

The earth was warmer in the past, but it also didn't support planet-scale agriculture of hyper-specialized, high-yield grains that are expected to feed 8+ billion people.

is adapting our food production out of the question? it seems that might be a bit easier than fixing global warming

It hasn't been done, it's not clear that it can be, and the problem is not in the grains that we grow, the problem is in the land. If a formerly arable area becomes a dustbowl, there's no adaptation of our food production that you can do to fix this problem.

Moving our agriculture north doesn't work either, because of the poor quality of soil in what is currently the tundra/taiga.

If you have a handful of magic beans that will grow a magic beanstalk, that will be resistant to the temperature and weather and soil changes caused by global warming, sure, by all means, share it with us, and I'll stop worrying. We don't have that handful, though, and I'm not keen on hope-based planning.

> there's no adaptation of our food production that you can do to fix this problem

Norway got good enough at growing things in greenhouses to be considered a breadbasket. Norway. I think you severely underestimate human adaptability.

1. Norway's a breadbasket with lots of greenhouses? Here's some prime land in Norway, see if you find a greenhouse. https://goo.gl/maps/Vzn3J3HS2Nm1P1mZ7 Norway has fed itself, more or less, for a few hundred years except the odd bad year, but never exported enough to feed even one big nearby city (say Copenhagen or Edinburgh).

2. You may be adaptive and want to move to some better place, but you're also just another penniless would-be immigrant with a big house loan in the country you want to leave, you don't speak the language, so what makes you think you'd be welcome in that better place?

Seems like the move for hackernews people is to pre-emptively move to high land (Tibet?) and not take out loans.

> and not take out loans.

That's always a good idea if you are an individual, and not a business.

1. Looks like it was the Netherlands, not Norway [1] -- embarrassing, but not of fundamental importance to the point, which stands: greenhouse farming is far from impossible.

2. I'm a penniless would-be immigrant? No, we are both captial-rich citizens of a capital-rich country in a capital-rich world capable of deploying enormous creativity and resources at incomprehensible scale to solve practical problems. Including this one, which doesn't actually require very much creativity or resources in comparison to our capabilities and needs. People predicting the doomsday love to downplay this side of economics -- the good side, the one that works. Their enormous pile of failed predictions should remind us to keep some perspective. Actual penniless immigrants? Yeah, they're going to be a problem, a big one, both in a humanitarian sense and in a cynical political stability sense. But is this the end of our civilization, or of human civilization? Not by a long shot, and claiming that it will be is crying wolf to such a shrill degree that it's an embarrassment to the cause.

[1] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/09/holland-...

The Netherlands are such fine farmland that people spent enormous effort to keep the sea and rivers away. I was nearby recently and went for some bicycle trip. One pleasant little creek, perhaps 50cm deep and 1m wide, used to rise by 6m every so often. That area was settled eight hundred years ago, because the farmland was worth the effort required to keep the flooding under control.

It's hardly surprising that such fine land becomes a breadbasket, and it's not proof that it can be done anywhere.

And you're not capital-rich if your capital is a home in an area people want to leave, and your country isn't capital-rich if people there see no future. The fine infrastructure of your former home is worthless in the eyes of the visa applicants in the country you want to move to, because they, like you, don't want to live there.

I don't think so. If anything there will be more arable land and more rain in much of the world. Additionally many crop plants grow faster with increased C02 (which is why marijuana grow ops put CO2 in the chambers of course). It also may be an opportunity to move off areas with depleted soils into virgin areas. At the time of the Cambrian explosion CO2 levels were ~20 times higher then they are or will be if we keep right on our trajectory. The earth didn't melt down and life flourished.

And this is assuming much at all happens. I've been watching this issue for over 30 years and no longer believe they can predict with much accuracy at all. I was quite an alarmist in 1990 but not any more.

Imagine writing a program to model this. With the interrelated variables (more CO2 means plants grow faster which uptakes more CO2. More heat means more evaporation, more small cloud cover, which means less heat. Industrial output means more air particles etc etc), the flux and all the various unknown factors (what will the energy output from the sun be in 50 years?). You mess up one small thing or make a bad assumption and it blows up. I honestly don't know how any rational person has much faith in the granular predictive power of this at all if they stop and think about it for a bit. Models are good to see how stuff works. Models at this scale to predict? Highly doubt it.

That being said, man does influence the climate to an extent it is clear. We should be cleaner. We should get off fossil fuels in an orderly fashion as they are filthy anyway. But, we don't have "12 years left to do something!". That is and always has been complete bullshit.


It's most especially annoying to hear the latest iteration of projections based on tenuous models touted as "fact" and anyone who doesn't believe is some kind of conspiracy theorist. The continual stream of failed predictions from the doom promoters is reason enough to be suspicious. The earth warms and cools. With or without us.

Finally, to all the 20 somethings turning red and mashing downvote right now, you will live long enough to see. In 30 years things will not be significantly different. Florida will still be there. There will be no mass climate migrations. The polar ice caps will still be there. There won't be a huge increase in anomalous weather events. But there will probably still be a loud group of people proclaiming "We only have 10 years to DO SOMETHING!".

Mass extinction I'm guessing? Ecosystems are systems. They are resilient to a point, but losing enough diversity to the point it can't sustain itself leads to a collapse.

It's happened numerous times before.

Back then we didn't have 8 billion people and nuclear weapons.

Consider the impact of ecosystem-related consequences others mentioned on habitability and food production. Once mass migrations and food shortages start, and starving migrants show up at the borders of higher-latitude/elevation countries in amounts orders of magnitude larger than before, what do you think will happen? Will these countries, worrying about how to feed their own citizens as crops fail due to weather anomalies, open up the borders and accept doubling their population? Will the migrants just accept being refused to enter? In the meantime, powers will be jockeying for mining rights of newly-unfrozen, but still not habitable lands. With all that pressure mounting, how long it'll take until someone starts shooting, someone else shoots back, and we'll have a WW3 on our hands?

If climate situation degrades fast enough, we'll wipe ourselves out way before the changing weather does.

Are there actually historical examples of mass migration due to food shortages? My understanding is that most migrants are relatively young, healthy, and resourceful. It’s hard to travel thousands of miles while literally starving.

Ireland: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_(Ireland)#Reactio...

1.5 million people emigrated out of a population of around 8 million.

"Of the more than 100,000 Irish that sailed to Canada in 1847, an estimated one out of five died from disease and malnutrition, including over 5,000 at Grosse Isle, Quebec, an island in the Saint Lawrence River used to quarantine ships near Quebec City. Overcrowded, poorly maintained, and badly provisioned vessels known as coffin ships sailed from small, unregulated harbours in the West of Ireland in contravention of British safety requirements, and mortality rates were high."

So some of them travelled thousands of miles while literally starving.

The Irish Famine. One million people emigrated.

Because for starters a huge portion of the world's population lives on the coast so rising sea levels will wipe out a lot of cities. Secondly the entire human civilization has lived in the warming period coming out of the last ice age, we've never lived in that hot weather. Climate change isn't an end all life on Earth but it will drastically change how humans live on Earth.

Rising sea levels will wipe out a few cities here and there that are exceptionally low-lying and built over permeable rock like limestone that allows the rising sea to infiltrate the water table. By and large cities will build dikes, as the Dutch have been doing for centuries.

Where do you build a dike in NYC where everything is built up to the waterfront?

You make a new waterfront, the same way NYC has already done.

You can look at the map at https://www.thirteen.org/dutchny/interactives/interactive-ma... to see how much land was added. Most of lower Manhattan is built on what was ocean in 1609.

It's an engineering problem, and NYC can afford to solve it.

Well, first of all, sacrificing the outermost 10-20m of development to build a dike along the shore is a trivial expense compared to abandoning the city or dealing with regular flooding. But more likely the dikes will be built over the first 10-20m of what is currently the sea to avoid demolishing buildings built up against the water. That, or existing barriers will simply be raised. Whenever buildings are built directly against the sea they already require some sort of barrier to cover the difference between high and low tides and to deal with storm surge.

we weren't here the last time globe has been much warmer

>we are all here today

We weren't here then

Genuinely, this was helpful to my gut understanding of this issue: https://xkcd.com/1732/

according to that graph the world was as warm if not warmer relatively recently

It shows literally the exact opposite of that. 2016 is the highest temperature and at no previous point does the graph reach that value.

it looks like the line marked gold metalworking is the same, although hard to tell for sure. But long periods of history were at least pretty close to today's remperature according to that graph

The alarming part is rate.

Earth warmth comes from CO2 blanket, we can't suck it from atmosphere, we hardly can reduce CO2 production worldwide.

Also his "best case scenario" is humanity wiped from Earth ten years ago, not base case for me. "Optimistic scenario" is if world acted on current policies. And "current path" is denial (4°C–5°C raise).


This is kinda missing the point. Look at the slope. And think how a system responds to a gentle slow perturbation and how it responds to a fast drastic change.

1. No, the gold metalworking part is lower on the graph. 2. It's the slope of the change - systems that evolve over millennia aren't set up to adjust over decades

Once more and for the last time in good faith, it's the trend line that matters. The earth hasn't experienced even remotely close to this rapid a change in temperature in the 20,000 years captured by that chart.

To take your example from the gold smithing era. The earth warmed from -.5 -> +.6 degrees over the course of about 4000 years. We've warmed that much in the last 100 years.

The globe has been hotter, but not with humans on it

Well it was only in 2016 we saw the biggest freeze we've ever recorded..

which is in no way incompatible with global warming

Oh many people know it’s coming, and have simply accepted there is nothing that can be done.

Solutions that require the cooperation of the entire human race will never work, yet that is what keeps being pushed upon us.

The only real thing that can save us is for a small group to come up with some kind of technology that can make sweeping changes on a massive geological scale and ultimately reverse global warming without humanity having to do anything.

People aren’t going to change their lifestyles to save the world. Many people don’t even change their lifestyles to save themselves when it becomes medically necessary.

Personally, I’ve come to accept this is the end. If I must die to global warming, at least it will be an interesting death, I could have been shot and killed by a mugger or killed in a car crash instead.

> Personally, I’ve come to accept this is the end. If I must die to global warming, at least it will be an interesting death.

Not to prove the OP's point about climate change denial. But that's overly pessimistic.

Climate change is a slow motion train wreck. Things will slowly, steadily, exponentially get worse. But you probably won't be alive to notice the worst of it. 200 years from now, things will look extremely different. And we'll be lucky if we've managed to ride through all the changes and migrations and potentially famines without starting a dreadful war and blowing ourselves up with these delightful world-ending stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

I'm really starting to think the answer to the Fermi paradox is there's a great filter and it lies in front of us. Technological civilizations wipe themselves out because they unlock powerful technologies before developing the wisdom to control them.

Happy Thursday everyone!

It's Great Filters, with an "s". You have to dig through the EULA but Asteroid, Thermonuclear War and Famine are all covered under the Cataclysm (General) indemnity.

The UN and IPCC estimates there will be up to a billion climate refugees by 2050 so your dates and predictions are off by quite a bit.

Low end is 5 mil, upper is 1 bil. Most commonly cited figure and the basis for most extrapolation is 200 million. However that's still a lot. To put it in perspective:

"The current global estimate is that there were around 272 million international migrants in the world in 2019, which equates to 3.5 per cent of the global population"

UN World Migration Report 2020 - https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/wmr_2020.pdf

Back to the 200 million figure:

"This is a daunting figure; representing a ten-fold increase over today’s entire documented refugee and internally displaced populations. To put the number in perspective it would mean that by 2050 one in every 45 people in the world will have been displaced by climate change."

IOM Migration & Climate Change - https://www.ipcc.ch/apps/njlite/srex/njlite_download.php?id=...

To be clear, these figures represent how many people will have relocated by that point in time, not the number of people actively relocating at that point in time. Today, about 3.5% of the global population lives in a country other than the one they were born in. This prediction is that by 2050 that figure will have an extra 3% on top attributable to climate change.

Thank you for looking into and sharing that. That's a more believable scenario.

If things are truly that bad in 30 years when temperature is only a fraction of a degree warmer and sea level has barely moved - imagine how fucked we are in 200 years when polar melting is advanced, sea levels are many meters higher and temperatures are 4 degrees or more warmer than today.

I don't buy that claim though, it's hard to believe you could have a billion refugees with such tiny changes. We've already changed more than that since 1900 and there aren't a billion climate refugees. Why is the next half a degree of warming so much worse? I'd need to see what they base that estimate on.

One of the reasons why you can is that higher temperature move climate zones around. In particular they increase the size of deserts like the Sahara. Rich areas with expanded deserts, like California, can pipe in water from elsewhere. But areas like subsaharan Africa are a different story.

In short, it is easy to become a climate refugee from a little warming when that results in drought for you.

And some areas will get wetter. Higher temperatures mean overall more water in the atmosphere and overall more precipitation. That definitely makes winners and losers and refugees, but not in such huge numbers by 2050, or at least that would be very surprising and counter-intuitive.

>Why is the next half a degree of warming so much worse?

A 3 degree F fever is okay with some bedrest and ibuprofen, but a 6 degree F fever can kill you. There are breaking points in every system. Half the stress of a breaking point is usually fine.

This is true, but the percent change here is very small. I just find it highly improbable at best. I'm not going to buy into something so unbelievable without seeing a very strong line of evidence behind it.

> the percent change here is very small

How are you measuring this as a percentage change? What's the denominator?

The Earth's atmospheric CO2 is up about 30% since 1900.

No, change in temperature. From now to 2050 we're looking at a 0.5 C change in average temperature. You could also say change in sea level will be relatively small as well.

Averages are funny, and that's a global average so it's more pronounced at the higher latitudes. But still it's half of what we've already done since 1900. And as a percentage change in temperature in a given region, it should be fairly small.

Just intuitively it doesn't make sense that relatively small changes suddenly produce such disparate outcomes when they haven't to date.

Looking into the numbers a bit from what was shared above, I'm not wrong. 1 billion is the upper end of an estimate, with 5 million at the lower end. That's a very wide range.

> Just intuitively it doesn't make sense that relatively small changes suddenly produce such disparate outcomes when they haven't to date.

Average temperature by itself is a very misleading measure, because it does not tell you anything about how much energy is being added to the system. Different substances need different amounts of energy added to raise their temperature by 1 degree, a concept called heat capacity. The amount of energy currently being added (and not radiated back into space) to the planet is staggering, and far in excess of the ability of the oceans to absorb it: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/role-ocean-...

I do not know why popular science reporting rarely mentions this.

I'm still not understanding -- how do you calculate an 0.5 C change as a percentage?

Edit: Regarding your other point, I'm sure you agree that an 0.5 C change from -0.25 to +0.25 will have a certain obvious dramatic impact. It might seem like I picked a particularly pathological example there, but if you imagine latitude on a globe or elevation on a mountain, you'll find somewhere (like the Laptev sea) hovering at that boundary and ready to cross it.

But that's only one boundary; there are many others, where the dominant plant or insect species changes from one to another, where methane gas starts to get released faster than stored, etc. So it's rather like a staircase, and when the average shifts, there's always somewhere on the planet that goes through a confusing and dramatic transition.

Average global temperature for the 20th century was 13.9°C. So 0.5C is a relatively small change, and less than half of what's already happened - and produced precious few climate refugees I might point out. I don't like using averages like that, as you rightly point out the difference in a particular region could be quite stark.

Ok, I see. So just so we're on the same page, for reference, the average surface temperature was thought to be 7.7 C in the last ice age. Converting both to Kelvin to account for the arbitrary zero point of Celsius, the 20th century was a 2.2% temperature increase relative to the ice age. Does your math agree?

I agree that a delta of 0.5 C is less dramatic than a delta of 6.2 C, but is your intuition in accordance with all that, and do you think percentage increases are useful here for building intuition? Where would you draw the line for "small" in terms of percentage change of temperature?

I also calculate that the Earth is 30% warmer than Mars, but you might want to double check my math.

Edit -- we could also consider that temperature is in most respects an exponential measure of physical quantities (E ~ e^kT). So the ratio increase in a physical quantity of interest (E2/E1) is already given, on a log scale, by an absolute temperature difference (T2 - T1).

Yeah, that's a good point.

I still stand by my intuition that if a 1 degree rise since 1900 didn't cause mass migrations, another 0.5 degrees seems unlikely to.

I think we can agree things are going to get worse and that kind of mass migration might happen over a longer time period. Just not in the next 30 years.

Why do you think your intuition is more relevant in the face of expertise about climate than the experts in the countless other fields you trust daily? Do you demand to see structural analysis reports before going into unfamiliar buildings?

I question things, the more outlandish the claim the more I question it. Experts are not always right you know. That's especially true on charged topics. I want to follow their line of reasoning and understand the claims more fully. And I was not wrong. If you see the post above going into more detail than the OP, 1 billion is the upper estimate, with 5 million the lower end of the range. That's a pretty wide range.

I don't see why people are giving me so much flak on this, the OP made a bold, unintuitive, and hard to believe claim - and people are saying I should be more gullible? More trusting of authority? Less skeptical?

As it turns out it's moot. The claim was the high end of a range starting at 5M. If your range is that wide you really have no business calling it an estimate. It's a WAG - a wild ass guess. I was right to be skeptical.

They may as well have just said we don't know how bad it's going to be, but it won't be good. And leave it there.

> Solutions that require the cooperation of the entire human race will never work, yet that is what keeps being pushed upon us.

USA and Australia are the only two developed nations that continue to deny climate change. The entire world signed the Paris Agreement.

While the USA slowly is slowly led into international irrelevance by the Republican Party, China just joined South Korea, and Japan in pledging to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The Paris Agreement is non-binding, virtue-signaling nonsense, thankfully we withdrew from it.

> While the USA slowly is slowly led into international irrelevance by the Republican Party

Anti-US, Anti-Republican bias is becoming very tiresome.

Sometimes I can't even understand what goes on in that brain. Is it so hard to grasp that the non-binding agreement made by countries is a signal of unity? That we stand together to save humanity? That it signals to domestic population to start talking about these problems and come up with solutions both at government and individual level?

Jesus Christ! You make it seem like humans are only capable of binding resolutions enforced by some big daddy. Grow up!

The problem with non-binding agreements is the same as unenforced laws -- those who are "good" people follow the rules, and those who are "bad" don't. In a competitive environment, those who have no qualms about breaking the law (agreement) are at an advantage.

China and other countries are trying to compete with the US economically, and this agreement would provide a way to do that via unequal outrage. US haters are already doing it, condemning the US (even though it's been lowering emissions for a while now), and making excuses for China and other major polluters because they are "developing countries". Meanwhile China is largely immune to internal criticism, and basically faces no meaningful pressure externally (aside from Trump, for other reasons). This would have been bad for the US.

Your views on this are emotional and overly simplistic. Grow up!

> The problem with non-binding agreements is the same as unenforced laws -- those who are "good" people follow the rules, and those who are "bad" don't. In a competitive environment, those who have no qualms about breaking the law (agreement) are at an advantage.

I agree with this. See: How rogue countries such as US just walked out of non-binding Paris accord.

However, there is no big daddy to enforce any agreement. Anyone trying to be a big daddy and force other countries to submission will only lead to another world war

This has played out before, right after WW1 where America and UK tried to subjugate Prussia to shame. It only led to simmering tensions and WW2. That is exactly the reason why after WW2, Roosevelt decided to lead the world with multipolar institutions, where many powers have a stake in the well being of the world. With big daddy diplomacy, there will be winners and losers and the next WW will not forgiving on mankind.

Before accusing someone of simplicity and emotions, acknowledge that you may have gaps in your understanding of WHY we do non-binding agreements. Do your homework, learn some history.

> See: How rogue countries such as US just walked out of non-binding Paris accord.

Your anti-US hysteria is showing.

> However, there is no big daddy to enforce any agreement. Anyone trying to be a big daddy and force other countries to submission will only lead to another world war

Economic sanctions work just fine when you have an actual "rogue country" not playing nicely. A non-binding agreement and harsh words do nothing to a country that doesn't care what you say.

> This has played out before, right after WW1 where America and UK tried to subjugate Prussia to shame. It only led to simmering tensions and WW2. That is exactly the reason why after WW2, Roosevelt decided to lead the world with multipolar institutions, where many powers have a stake in the well being of the world. With big daddy diplomacy, there will be winners and losers and the next WW will not forgiving on mankind.

FDR was terrible for this country, so doing the opposite is fine in my book.

> Before accusing someone of simplicity and emotions, acknowledge that you may have gaps in your understanding of WHY we do non-binding agreements. Do your homework, learn some history.

You are extremely emotional about the US. It's obvious from your posts you are most likely a self-loathing American who's been fed propaganda about how supposedly evil your own country is. Sad!

FDR was terrible? Wow. I was preaching to a cult. Sorry. Please go back to your fantasy.

> The Paris Agreement is non-binding, virtue-signaling nonsense

"non-binding, virtue-signaling nonsense" is a politician's wet dream. If it made the US look good without actually requiring them to do anything, why did Trump withdraw? Do you even logic?

> Anti-US, Anti-Republican bias is becoming very tiresome.

In that case, make sure you go out and vote. You can help MAGA by voting out the buffoon currently leading that nation. As a bonus, a republican party without Trump and the white supremacists he emboldened would be a party more people will find palatable.


> On another note, it would be nice if foreigners like you would stop trying to influence the US election.

How did you guess I wasn't Russian?

> The only real thing that can save us is for a small group to come up with some kind of technology that can make sweeping changes on a massive geological scale and ultimately reverse global warming without humanity having to do anything.

Or, you know, fixing the US political process so that a handful of ideologues aren't in a position to ignore popular sentiment and derail even the mildest form of action.

I would argue that the former is easier than the latter.

> fixing the US political process

Do you have a suggestion for how to do this?

> I could have been shot and killed by a mugger...

Don't get excited yet. Roving bands of raiders is still a potential outcome of climate change.

150 years ago there were no cars, and no roads to speak of. Now I’m pretty sure every country on the planet has cars and roads.

Try and find a pay phone in 2020. In 1980 they were everywhere.

The human race cooperates via market mechanisms. Those need to adjust to reflect the costs of global warming.

In a way, global warming will probably increase your chances of being shot by a nugget or killed in a car crash. Global warming happens, mass immigration increases, poverty increases, crime increases and book, you've just been shot by a mugger.

All that misery just to be shot by a mugger after all. Wow...

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