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Young People Are Anxious About Climate Change, Say Governments Are Failing Them (npr.org)
192 points by 8bitsrule 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 348 comments





I am always amazed at the level of denial among the people. I speak of the comments to this article, not the young people in question.

The IPCC reports are quite conservative. The reason the 2021 reports were so dire is because they began including some of the feedback loop modeling the scientists preparing the report have become more confident in. More is in the pipeline.

Somewhere along the line, it got political. Maybe it was always political. Hard to say that society needs to fundamentally change without people feeling it encroaches upon their world view.

You don't have to look very far to see our supply chain impacted by nature. Pandemics such as COVID were and are predicted to become more frequent. My local supermarket doesn't just have higher prices, the selection has gone down in many categories as the droughts and wildfires have impacted production. We are getting a taste of what has been long predicted. Deny all you want. I'm not saying the world will end this year, or next decade, but little by little, all the evidence I'm seeing is pointing towards the science being right. And it ain't pretty.

The level of ambition among our governments is quite low. The people are selfish, more concerned with their property values and if their neighbour mows their bylaw required lawn, than if the next generation will be able to have a similar quality of life. Why wouldn't you be cynical if you were young?

If you are a believer in conspiracies, what seems more likely to you? The climate scientists of the world conspiring to destroy the world economy? Or the powers that already be in this world desperately trying to hold onto their positions? I don't know about you, but I think the latter is far more likely.


People are not even "selfish". Wanting a nice, stable, predictable environment just like you have had it all your life could be categorized as selfish. And that's fine.

Taking a massive gamble on injecting huge amounts of energy into a system which looks like it will be destabilized is just..... foolish? stupid? I dunno.

According to the Canadaland podcast there is a recent survey taken during the federal election campaign which suggests that 1 in 4 voters still do not accept anthropogenic climate change as real.

I am baffled.

Most of us would benefit from some sort of Green New Deal with a re-organization of the economy. I can completely understand the top 5 or 10 percent balking at any shake up of the system on purely economic advantage grounds, but what about all the other 85%? And even with a shake-up I find it hard to believe that any productive/active members of the 5 to 10 percent would not thrive relatively in any new situation and indeed be better off than in a severely disrupted environment.

Something other than rationality is going on here.


you've forgotten that corporations have spend billions in order to muddy the waters and spread misinformation.

propaganda has always worked and this specific one is just particularly spectacular because there were so many players involved. They probably weren't coordinated even.

each one was just looking out for themselves but it ended in a global misinformation campaign that's been ongoing for decades now.


> The IPCC reports are quite conservative. The reason the 2021 reports were so dire is because they began including some of the feedback loop modeling the scientists preparing the report have become more confident in. More is in the pipeline.

And what's even more frustrating is that we've known about these feedbacks for 15-20? years.

I've been reading about climate change and feedbacks for the past decade and I'm just part of the general public.


Oil companies knew about climate change in the _1980s_ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExxonMobil_climate_change_cont...

Climate change was well known before that.

There's actually a report to Lyndon Johnson in 1965 about the dangers of climate change.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97...



Sometimes I wonder if people indeed believe climate change isn't real. I have difficulty imagining that there are so many that believe it's a myth.

Maybe what is more common is that people do believe climate change is real, but they also think it doesn't really matter in long run - because of maybe something like a black swan event or something - dont know. So they see all this as just fear mongering.


That Upton Sinclair quote "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it". Except here we're talking about upbringings, lifestyles, social position, and career all in one caboodle. So if we buy into that quote, this is an even wider example that perhaps has just as strong if not stronger potential for resistance to change.

Also, there's a layered stack of argument underneath outright denial to overcome - Even if climate change is real the climate has changed before, and I can't do anything about it, and <easily adoptable green tech> isn't perfect so why bother, and even if it is real it's not going to happen in my lifetime, and remember <all those predictions that have been wrong>, and so on and so on.


> <easily adoptable green tech> isn't perfect so why bother

Going to stick my neck out here. IMHO the people overzealously pushing green tech when it isn’t suitable isn’t helping.

It just makes people skeptical when these zealots are the face of green tech. People aren’t stupid, they can see that these zealots are only interested in pushing green tech and don’t really care about their needs and wants.

To some extend this bleeds over and tarnishes the reputation of the climate movement.

We need a realistic view of green tech use - not an evangelical one - where its limitations are acknowledged and taken into account when considering for deployment.


I don't want to flamebait by giving examples, but this is my issue with a lot of advocacy.

The True Believers try to push a radical/extreme set of changes. These changes have some level of adoption, but not as large as the True Believers want. There's a pushback by the general populace against the change. Moderates in the movement subsequently attempt to push smaller change, but get attacked from both sides: the True Believers for not believing strongly enough, and the populace for being associated with the changes.

I get really frustrated by basically every part of this cycle, especially when I agree the issue needs fixing. I understand _why_ it happens, but I sure wish it didn't.


> <all those predictions that have been wrong>

It's not about predictions of climate change being real or not. It's about predictions what measures contribute to what degree which is questionable.

Society or media is pretty bad at predictions or communicating predictions. In march I saw (worst case) predictions for incidence rate (covid) of 2000 ( university researchers in my city ). What happened instead: incidence rate dropped to 5 before it started climbing again. What I've learned: nobody can predict anything.


>> The people are selfish, more concerned with their property values and if their neighbour mows their bylaw required lawn, than if the next generation will be able to have a similar quality of life. Why wouldn't you be cynical if you were young?

The IPCC reports say that if we do little to ameliorate the effects of global warming, in 2100 future generations will have a GDP per capita several times higher than today's, but lower than it would be if actions are taken. That's not an apocalypse. I would worry about other things if I were you.

You are asking old people now to lower their standard of living so that future generations will have a standard of living that goes from "much higher than yours" to "much higher than yours plus x%", while calling them selfish.


Assuming this to be true, how can GDP possibly be the best metric here?

Maybe we should consider that you can't buy back the things we'll lose, barring some unexpected developments in large scale geoengineering. How much "GDP" would you trade to live in a world that isn't racked by increasingly powerful storms, unprecedented droughts, loss of unique habitats, mass extinction of various species, and the other dramatic effects of rapid climate shift?


How bad will the famines be in 2100? How many people will be refugees? Is a cushy job indoors worth it if it's too hot to work infrastructure jobs outside? Is GDP meaningful if citizens cannot afford food?

Climate change solutions require people and countries, across the world, to work together towards a common goal, this challenges fundamental assumptions of many political ideologies.

I can't regularly find fruit that was plentiful a few years ago at my grocery store. Produce this year was poor quality and wasn't available at the same times.

We've had a shortage of onions in Oregon. A few hundred miles from where they're grown. But the reason is not enough truckers after the pandemic.

There's plenty of food for everyone on the planet but we are very poor at distributing it to everyone. It's terrible seeing fruit rotting on their trees due to lack of migrant workers to exploit and also people deliberately dumping supplies to keep prices high

>>> due to lack of migrant workers to exploit

What's your solution to this? Replacing migrant workers with locals by quadrupling the price of fruit? Or allowing more migrants in?

FWIW my family worked as day laborers and it wasn't viewed as exploitation but as a chance to stay in America and become legal. It was better than where they came from. My grandfather ended up becoming a translator and negotiator for the union, but he never had a bad word to say about how America had treated him.


> What's your solution to this? Replacing migrant workers with locals by quadrupling the price of fruit?

How would it quadruple the price of fruit? Serious question. Prices would go up, but lets say a worker can pick, what 100 lbs of onions per hour. Onions cost between 30c-$1.50 a pound, so lets go low at say $0.50/pound. So in that hour, if they pick 100 pounds, that's around $50 of revenue. If they make, say $5/hour, and we quadruple their pay to $20/hour, if we increase the cost of onions so that one hour's worth of onions (100 lbs) costs $15/hour more, up to $65/hour, that would be $0.65 per onion. Far from quadruple. If we quadruple the cost to $2.00/onion, then that's $200/hour worth of onion revenue, and we could increase the worker wage from $5/hour to $105/hour!

Lots of research seems to back all this up.

https://www.epi.org/blog/how-much-would-it-cost-consumers-to...

I think laborers are simply exploited.


You're still talking about a 30% increase in the price of food, which would have enormous ramifications; and it would not stop there. To take your math, a laborer at $5/hr is currently getting 10% of the retail price, $50, of 100 lbs of onions. If the laborer's pay is mandated to go up to $20/hr and the cost is passed to the consumer, they are now making about 30% of the retail price, $65, of the same box. That sounds alright, but here's the trouble: The rest of the cost of an onion to the consumer is not going into the profit margin of a corporation. In fact the margins are extremely slim. Virtually all the rest of the cost is going to sorting, transportation, stocking, and operating retail markets.

So our onion picker is making $20/hr. The stock boy in the market is still only making $5/hr, but his cost of food goes up by 30%. He's clearly being exploited - he makes less than an onion picker. He needs his pay quadrupled, too. So do the sorters, truckers, the mechanics, fuel attendants, market managers, every person along the way who touches that onion. All those increases get factored in so the final price of an onion will continue to rise, and then have to rise again, because no more value has been produced. When you put your thumb on one end of the scale, the inflation will ripple until that $20/hr will only buy the same number of onions that $5/hr would buy originally. Ultimately, after a period of economic contraction and devaluation of currency - and concomitant loss of personal savings in the bank, which will be soaked up by the financial sector, and those able to speculate against the dollar - everyone will be doing the same job they were doing before to be able to afford the same amount of onions.

I speak about this having lived through two periods of hyperinflation in Argentina. Fixing prices of goods or labor ends up destroying savings, and destroying people's lives. There needs to be a baseline - minimum wage - to prevent a race to the bottom. But when shortsighted people come into power promising to raise that faster than the rate of inflation, look out, because they're inextricably bound, and inflation will quickly catch up to it.


reductio ad absurdum! If I was earning $5 per hour I wouldn't be looking for $20. It would be nice to get $5.50 and $6 would of course be better.

> For one pound of iceberg lettuce, which costs about $1.20 on average, farmers receive 40 cents and farmworkers get 13 of those 40 cents.

An 1.6666666% increase in price would be a 15% increase in salary. (say 1.7%)

>The BLS data show that expenditures by households (referred to in the data as “consumer units”) in 2019 was $320 on fresh fruits and $295 on fresh vegetables, amounting to $615 a year or $11.80 per week. In addition, households spent an additional $110 on processed fruits and $145 on processed vegetables.

$320 fresh fruits + 1.7% = $325.44 per year

$295 fresh vegetables + 1.7% = $300.01 per year

sub-total:

$615 + 1.7% = $625.45 per year

$11.80 + 1.7% = $12 per week

$110 processed fruits + 1.7% = $111.87

$145 processed vegetables + 1.7% = $147.46

$255 + 1.7% = 259.33

Total without extra pay:

$255 + $615 = $870

Total with extra pay:

259.33 + $625.45 = $884.79

The difference is $14.79 !!!


I addition to the other comment about the inaccuracies and fallacies in your arguments, there's two other points. Hyperinflation didn't happen in Argentina because of changing demand, it was trying to stop that (amongst a lot of other things). This is simple supply and demand, the supply of workers is down and the demand is up, so the wages must go up.

Related, I like how the argument is that the only way our economy will work is if there is a population that works for much less than a living wage. As if a form of near slavery must exist for capitalism to work. It's crazy.


That's not my argument. My argument is that the market adjusts to value labor accurately, and no matter what you do, someone picking onions is going to earn a wage that's difficult to live on once all the prices adjust. Yes in the short term they can buy more Big Macs, but then the price of Big Macs will go up, and they'll be back where they started. You're correct that this is not what triggered the waves of inflation in Argentina. But if the government then steps in and prevents retailers from raising their prices, in an attempt to make sure the worker's wages can buy what they bought yesterday, you end up with Argentine- or Venezuela-style purchase limits and shortages on basic foodstuffs, and ultimately a black market for those as well as a blue market for hard currency.

If you want to make the argument that the middle class can afford to pay more for the goods they buy, and that money should find its way to the laborers who produce the goods, I think that's a worthy moral goal. But I think if you look at the price increases and the housing crises going on around the US, it's pretty clear that "livable wages" have aggravated those things rather than make anything more livable. All it's done is essentially made the money the middle class had in the bank less valuable than it was last year. The main beneficiaries of inflation, and the people who have maintained or increased the value of their assets, are landlords and investors. Minimum wage increases and price controls are two sides of the same inflationary coin, and they both serve to funnel value upward to the top 10%.


IMHO salaries should be tied to units produced or customers served. I one time earn 35 euro per day making half a million boxes of cookies with 5 other people. The desire to push wages down that far has nothing to do with the price of the product. It makes things more fragile and more expensive if uninterested unskilled people do the work. If something went wrong the employees just laughed. No one rushed over to help.

I don't understand. One cookie is not as valuable as one hamburger, or one steel knife or one fighter jet. I think it's pretty awesome to make half a million boxes of cookies, but if it only pays 35 euro per day then it's really just a hobby or an art. A lot of art is like that. But not every painting can sell for a million dollars. I have had many great projects that turned out to be economic failures even though they made me happy and made other people happy... At the end of the day, I have to look at the results and say, this was my fault because I was in my own world, and I expected something unrealistic.

I accept that the money I get paid for my work is the only true indicator of what my work is worth. Lots of people can say they love my music, or my writing. But if no one buys my albums or my novels, I know they weren't very good albums or novels. I find a lot of peace in this knowledge. I don't have to wonder why the world is against me. I know that my work isn't good enough...and I have to try harder. Making not enough money from a long project is just the world telling me that I need to do better.


Most people don't dispute the climate scientists, most people dispute the solution. One side wants oil/coal/business as usual, the other wants exclusively wind/solar.

Solar is awesome. If you own your own home, and live in a sunny place (I live in Silicon Valley), it is literally free money raining down from the sky. I just got solar and the bill is lower than my electric + gas bill, I have new furnace, new hot water heater and dryer, and air conditioning added in! I never had an AC because using more carbon as a response to carbon caused warming is prima facie a path to disaster, but now I'm perfectly happy to have it on (well, I put on a coat, but my family is happier). 2 Leafs and a Model 3, vegetarian, and I'm starting to regard the fucking carbon burners the way I do about the fucking non-vaccinated. But of course, if I can't persuade the group to take action against a butt load of trouble, my actions won't matter.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or something... It seems like your "carbon burners" are just people who can't afford a house in SV, solar panels, new appliances, and 3 electric vehicles.

The people that annoy me are my neighbors in SV that can easily afford a (used Leaf, used Model 3), but instead buy a gas guzzling SUV for more money. Even the rental homes, that won't be getting solar panels unless the building owner is somehow incentivized, can do better than the SUV.

The appliances and furnace and so on are part of the solar loan, and so they are effectively free, as the loan payments are lower than the electricity and gas bill.

The solar and new appliances, and the AC, are effectively free, paid for by my ability to sell the energy back into the grid and by the sun.

I know most people can't adopt it yet, or without structural changes to the incentives, but most of my peers and neighbors could but don't. I'm mad at my peers and neighbors (except, obviously, the homes full of young immigrants working hard, and the retirees on fixed incomes and so on).

Also, when I visit my birth place of North Carolina, I get mad at all the people living near the beautiful and fragile barrier islands with their expensive SUVs and trucks and no solar, no electric cars, nothing being done to halt the destruction of such beautiful ecosystems. Not even an idea that the flooding and hurricanes are something they could actually take steps against. I get mad at the elites in these towns that ignore the problem that will end in the destruction of the beautiful islands they are entrusted with the care of.

I'm also a bit mad at my cousins that are resolute anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers.


I think there's enormous reason for concern, but... I also think there's a not-so-fine line between saying (A) that we will go through some major hardship and decreased quality of life as we attempt to mitigate and adapt, versus (B) civilization is finished, there's nothing left but despair and destruction, kids have no viable future on this planet, etc. The latter strikes me as a mass projection of millenarian eschatological thinking onto what is admittedly a troubling set of data. I suppose that policy makers find it useful, therefore, to stoke a certain amount of sky-is-falling panic, particularly among teenagers who are more inclined to be attracted to and scared of doomsday scenarios. But by the same mechanism (ie supplanting rational discourse with doomsday panic), a counter-movement scores easy points saying "look, nothing's happening." The same basic flaw on public messaging pertains to vaccines and masks. What seems to have happened is that those in charge of public messaging have concluded that the majority don't know enough or care enough about science, and so they need to tap into raw fear and emotional appeals just like the science deniers do. What this does, unfortunately, is cheapen the conversation to the point where we're measuring the stress levels of teenagers as if that were a useful metric of how severe climate change actually is or will be. Their stress levels, just like the stress levels of anti-vaxers, aren't based on rational thought; they're generated by fear-peddling from one messaging system or the other. As both these systems try to out-alarm each other, they tend to drift further toward worst-case scenarios and their exponents move closer to shouting for revolution (e.g. Jan 6th), if only to serve as post-justification for the hysteria they engender to serve their goals. Climate scientists shouldn't stoop to the level of deniers. It's too short a game to keep people in panic at all times. If we've learned anything from the failure of messaging during covid, it's that trying to sustain an endless freak-out doesn't work, and it's ultimately counterproductive, because daily life causes drift away from any singular narrative, and groups of people then grow stronger counter-narratives even more dangerous than those they had before.

I feel sorry for kids whose lives are made to feel meaningless and short-changed by this information warfare on both sides. Yes climate change is real and dangerous and yes the world needs to be proactive, and yes quality of life will decline, more in some places than others, and mostly falling on the global poor. Yes children should be educated about it and yes adults need to get ahead of it, including changing systems and practices that there is deep resistance to changing. But panicking the hell out of 14 year olds - or in this case, 50-somethings, that civilization is imminently coming to an end is going to have the terrible consequence of hastening or creating an end through instilling abject despair, rather than cultivating the means and the will to make the necessary changes.


> Or the powers that already be in this world desperately trying to hold onto their positions? I don't know about you, but I think the latter is far more likely.

The word "desperately" is doing a lot of work there. The ruling class doesn't seem very desperate at all to me, actually.

Matter of fact they like the climate change problem as far as I can see. It is yet another wedge they use to divide people and make them fight one another, meanwhile they continue to do what they please.

Climate science denialism and conspiracy theorists are not the problem, even in USA which is called a "hotbed" of this thinking, climate deniers are under 20% of the population. It's not the brave and valiant Joe Biden and friends battling against the evil corporations and deniers to tackle the biggest threat facing humanity. It's the rulers pointing out the unemployed coal miner from West Virginia and telling you that he's the reason for all your problems, while at the same time they're pointing you out to him and saying the same thing.

You really think they actually believe < 20% of some of the least educated and most disadvantaged people in the country are responsible for preventing them from addressing the most important issue they have ever faced? Please, they happily go to war and destroy other countries with far higher disapproval ratings than that.


It's almost like the ultra-rich """elite""" will risk everyone's existence rather than surrender any of their hoard.

All one has to do is look at the distribution of wealth to see where the money exists to fix this, technologically, policy, or a combination.

This at least is one of the true environmental effects the rich can't easily run from. Go ahead, get your little fortress in New Zealand. Tell yourselves you can hop your private jet.

Global warming will displace a billion people at least. That will make the syrian refugee crisis look like your brother in law crashing in the basement in comparison.

Remember that environmental and resource wars aren't easily recognized as such. Scarcity and strife always break down along ethnic or religious lines and will appear as ethnic wars, like the Sudan which is actually about freshwater.

It is ridiculous that science is held up as some grand conspiracy, a brilliant coordination of millions of dollars of funding to bring down the brave, oppressed, helpless hundred billionaires and their trillionaire corporations.


> You don't have to look very far to see our supply chain impacted by nature.

Why would that be a problem? Everything is impacted by nature, always has been.

> Pandemics such as COVID were and are predicted to become more frequent.

Key word is "predicted". Most of the alarmist predictions tend to be exaggerating either the effect itself, or its impact on us.

> My local supermarket doesn't just have higher prices, the selection has gone down in many categories

I think this is your local supermarket's problem. The supermarket I go to has better selection than ever, and prices are not any higher.


If you look at the progression of science predictions, they don't have a track record of being alarmist. They have a track record of predicting troubling as heck issues for 2100 or 2050 and now they are already happening.

In the late 90s, my science teacher told me that we would run out of oil and the world economy would collapse by 2010. In the 70s, my parents were told that we would run out of ozone, kill all the plants, and die from oxygen cycle collapse by 2000. A century earlier, respectable scientists were making predictions that we would run out of food within a few decades and starve to death. The history of science predictions is a history of high-profile respectable figures making doomsday predictions that never come to pass.

If you deny the failures, climate change deniers will have the luxury of being able to easily prove you factually wrong. Don't give them that luxury.

Instead, use the history to argue for action. Why didn't we run out of food? Green revolution. Why didn't the ozone cook us? Montreal protocol -- we switched halocarbons in our air conditioners and now the ozone layer is recovering. Why didn't we run out of oil? Fracking. CO2 is the biggest challenge yet, how do we fight it? Solar, wind, lithium, nuclear. Let's spend the money and make it happen.


> In the 70s, my parents were told that we would run out of ozone

Did you factor in the world-wide efforts to eliminate CFC gasses?

Here is an easier one: 'meteorologists predict you will get sunburnt today if you expose your skin to the sun'. So, based on this, you stay indoors most of the day, wear sunscreen, a long shirt, and a hat.

You don't get sunburnt and your rational conclusion is the science is wrong?

SMH


When I was in seventh grade, I kept a running list of all the wrong things that my science teacher said. I was more thinking of the actual scientists and IPCC and you know more vetted types of predictions.

And Ozone depletion we actually came together as a civilization and fixed the issue. That was a good model for what we need to do with respect to carbon burn. Any of these predictions about the future are obviously conditional on "people do X" or "people do Y" or something equally involving predicting what people will do in the future.


> my science teacher told me that we would run out of oil and the world economy would collapse by 2010

Well, he was "right", the WEO (not an anti-capitalist/leftist/ecologist organism by any mean, au contraire) now admit that conventional oil peaked in 2008 in the world. The north sea gas extraction peaked in 2004.


I don't think that's right. There have been predictions saying ridiculous things that never came to pass since the 80s.

Why do some incorrect predictions completely invalidate the devastatingly correct ones?

Do we really need to revisit the "crying wolf" parable?

If he was attacked by the wolf a few times among the false alarms, your comparison would be valid.

Most predictions were inaccurate. In fact I'm having trouble recalling any that turned out to be true. You can deny this all you want, but alarmist propaganda like this is why people don't take such reports seriously nowadays.

It's not just young people. I'm 56 and I'm going through a pretty serious personal existential crisis w.r.t. climate change. I think even the people who are worried about it don't realize quite how serious the situation is. I used to feel pretty confident that all of the really bad shit would not happen until after I was dead. I'm not nearly so confident any more. I now think there is a significant chance that I could live to see massive famines and the concomitant collapse of technological civilization. I've been losing quite a bit of sleep over it for a while now.

I'm not convinced that climate change has a high probability of ending technological civilisation[0]. Even large-scale climate wars might not end it.

The scenarios that fall short of ending civilisation, e.g. losing hundreds of millions of lives to famine or war, are obviously still very bad. This is not to downplay climate change in the slightest. It's just... at some point, people start dying, and that frees up ecological carrying capacity again. You need to make pessimistic assumptions about a lot of positive feedback loops in ecological and social collapse to predict that all human civilisation is going to be wiped out in the sense of regressing back to before the industrial revolution.

[0] https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/6/13/18660548/climat...


You think if a billion people lose monsoon water, some of them won't put together a hand-made virus to wreak revenge on the wealthy nations responsible for the carbon burn and for climate denial? I mean, maybe, people have a capacity for good, but also for anger and revenge.

Carbon caused climate change isn't a carry-ing capacity / overpopulation / over utilization issue (and is now somewhat dwarfing those issues). It is a big change that has some chance of devastating a lot of biological based support systems all at the same time.

The risk to technological civilization is not in the direct effects, but in the human mediated effects. Not that leaving on yeast and water would be that good.


What's your estimate of the probability of collapse, and why?

I'd put it in the low single digits or maybe lower, on the basis that a cascade of things need to go wrong: first you need a climate scenario that exceeds the IPCC estimates, then you need significant damage or conflict, then you need a potential collapse event to emerge from the conflict, then the event has to trigger collapse on its own or other events have to occur and combine with it.

Curious to hear your thoughts though, because I haven't put firm numbers on anything or looked deeply into any of the research on collapse specifically.


You are asking to predict what people will do in the future. Not a historically profitable venture. Having the Monsoon rains stop dropping snows into the Himalayas would be super bad. Just flooding Bangladesh with a meter or few meters would displace a lot of people less popular than Floridians. Is Montana going to take a few million Muslim refugees?

But maybe like Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent book, it will all work together and we will make a new carbon based cryptocurrency backed by the bankers, switch to blimps and all ends well. I have kids and am teaching them to corporate with people rather than become preppers, so I guess I am optimistic de facto.


I'm asking to put some numbers on our predictions in a conversation that's already had us predict what people will do, as a tool to dig deeper into the factors that could lead civilisation to collapse.

Being totally accurate when predicting the future is impossible, but discussion of the factors is useful in its own right.


I have to disagree. You are asking for a path integral when the local derivatives of various paths are clear, and In a problem space where things can always get worse. Each moment in each place lets climb the curve towards better reality.


Can you explain what I'm meant to be getting out of this 47 minute long review of current climate indicators?

I understand that climate change is progressing rapidly, is going to cause very bad things to happen (my earlier comment mentioned hundreds of millions of human deaths as an example), and should be mitigated. What I question is whether the total collapse of industrial civilisation as a result of climate change is likely to occur. This is as opposed to economic stagnation, famine, war, widespread desertification, unliveable wet-bulb temperatures, or anything else short of a total collapse.


Depends on your meaning of collapse. If you mean extinction of only humans, that's not gonna happen. Even in total nuclear fallout, few people will survive underground.

> economic stagnation, famine, war, widespread desertification, unliveable wet-bulb temperatures

For most people those are collapse and it's definitely going to happen and will come much sooner. The video shows it's going on the worst case scenario way.


100%. Thanks to globalization and just-in-time economy, supply chains are already overextended and on the brink of failure. Once the first cracks set in, the consequences will cascade until most of agro-industrial production will grind to a halt.

Global famine won't end civilization directly, but it might spark WW3, and that would do it.

This guy gets it.

Global warming is scary because of nukes.

The timeline till we get widespread crop problems is 15-20 years.


I can't tell if you are being serious, but just to be clear: I do not think that climate change is "scary because of nukes". Climate change is scary in its own right. Global famine is going to be very unpleasant whether or not it sparks WW3. But we do have nukes, and nukes + climate change could bring about the end of civilization in my lifetime with probability much greater than zero. And, what is scariest of all, most people's behavior indicates that this possibility is not even on their radar screens. Most people are still behaving as if the really serious shit is several generations away. It's not. The wolf is at the door, as you say, much closer to 10 years than 100.

Am serious. Brevity is my style I guess.

You are assuming the supporting environment of the survivors will remain intact enough to allow recovery. That is a somewhat optimistic viewpoint. Most everything in the natural environment will be consumed before people start to die off in significant enough numbers. That will leave the survivors with something that is somewhat less than pristine, and will likely take several generations to recover to some semblance of previous carrying capacity and certainly with enormously reduced biodiversity.

God we did manage to fuck ourselves good and proper.


Climate change is bad but technological collapse doomerism is completely unsupported by science.

People like the romance of dramatic and exciting extremes, of paradise and apocalypse. The mundane probability of having to adapt to somewhat worse conditions isn't that entertaining.


Look up "blue ocean event". The BOE could lead to the loss of the jet stream in 10-20 years. After that, God only knows what is going to happen. The really big problem is that we won't know where the rain will fall, and so we won't know where to plant, and so we could have global famine. If you think covid was bad, you ain't seen nuthin'. And even that will not necessarily lead directly to the collapse of civilization, but I'm not optimistic about the ability of our political leaders to handle the situation gracefully and without starting WW3.

Exactly: our civilization, comfort, enjoyment and ease is built upon the relatively predictable and stable weather patterns.

Why would anyone take the risk of messing with that?

It's as though they assume that there will be generalized devastation but there will be some "safe place" which some powerful group can defend and use.

Instead it's possible that maybe for one year New Zealand will be great, but then there will be no rain for 10 years, while previously uninhabitable Brighton (UK) will be a lush, tropical paradise for a couple of decades. Everyone will haul their gear to Brighton and massacre the indigenous, but then everything will change again, etc.

Or we could stop driving 2000Kg of metal to get to our jobs or buy a bag of chips and keep all the tourists at home that are destroying Venice and leaving their feces and plastic containers all over the Himalayas.


The reason people find this line of argument frustrating is that it's always presented in a weird, dismissive tone which makes it clear you already didn't like the things you're proposing to get rid of. If you want to persuade people who are attached to their 2000Kgs of metal, it'll be more productive to include some examples of things you'll have to give up even though you like them.

Nobody is articulating a vision for the future.

OK, I'll stop driving my 2000kg of metal tomorrow. The first grocery shop is 25 minutes walking, one way. Maybe with a good degree of planning my family won't starve. But we also need to go to work and school, and these are not within walking distance. Sadly, I have to take that back: I won't stop driving my 2000kg of metal, because I don't see how we can possibly live without it. (We're living within the boundaries of a large North American city, not even in the suburbs.)


It can get drowned out in online arguments sometimes, but a lot of people do articulate a vision for that problem. They believe that American urban planning makes it unreasonably hard and expensive to build walkable cities, and most people would want to live in one if they were more available. Vox gives a good overview of areas people are working in to enable walkable cities: https://www.vox.com/22662963/end-driving-obsession-connectiv...

North American urban planning is absolutely terrible. The problem is that all proposals I've seen are still insufficient at preventing excessive greenhouse emissions. Perhaps I am wrong. Prove it by pointing to a single 100k city (or larger) that has sustainable greenhouse emissions, when including food & durable goods.

25 minutes walking? Get a bike.

And as to the more general argument you can get away with it as long as you have been voting for every proposal to increase taxes to pay for public transport and prevent centralization of services and stores.

I'm afraid I do not buy it. I have lived in what are supposed to be the most car-bound US environments and also in the countryside and it is all a matter of choice: not just personal choice (which I will agree can be a displacement from central planning), but most especially of people choosing low taxation over public services every time.

I can't see how you can possibly continue to live as you have done with your 2000Kg of metal. In fact it's looking very probable that you will be accelerating a decline in many aspects of your life.


Sure. I lived in SoCal without a car for a few years in my youth, so it's possible. Until the first child. At a mature age, I'll take up biking just after I get that knee replacement I've been postponing for a while and learn to bike with a kid on my shoulder. Throw a couple more hours in a day and I'm game.

Joke aside, even if we were to stop driving a car and flying a plane in US (the biggest pop-enviro boogeymen) it will cut 25% of USA greenhouses emissions. US greenhouse emissions is 15% of the world. Completely eliminating the automobile and the plane from US will only cut global emissions by less than 4%. The world energy usage is growing at 1% per year, so all that was accomplished was to push the inevitable about 4 years into the future.

Lets up the ante and ban the automobile & plane globally. (Or wipe US economy off the map). That would only save 15% of global emissions, i.e. push the inevitable 15 years into the future.

Here's a challenge: go find a city of non-trivial size that is living a sustainable life according to Paris accord energy targets. Bikes, Passivhaus, local agriculture, solar rooftops, windmills, the works. You won't find any, other than perhaps 3rd world slums. The only known lifestyle that fits the Paris accord energy envelope is subsistence agriculture. And we can't go back to subsistence agriculture, there is too many of us.

(Obviously) Malthus was right.


It's not a negotiation in which there is give and take. It's _your_ last chance to do something to do something which can benefit both of us. I already have had a low carbon footprint for decades due to being "one of those environmentalists". I have little left to cut to improve _your_ life. What can you do to help?

This scenario is highly speculative and recent research has cast a ton of doubt on the assertion that melting ice is causing weaker jet streams. People are desperate for doomsday scenarios…

54 and likewise. I've been aware of IPCC reports for a couple decades now, just kind of monitoring what they've been saying and noticing that more often than not, the media reports only the best-case scenarios while at the same time the worst-case scenarios are actually what's come to pass and much more quickly than expected. The denialism in this thread baffles the hell out of me.

The near-term collapse of technological civilization has the silver lining that wild things will have a chance to recolonize the planet. The alternative—a world of ever increasing control and declining standard of living for almost everybody on behalf of a tiny few—is far more terrifying to me.

When I was in elementary school (early 90's) we were taught that half of New York would be underwater by 2020. Obviously didn't happen. Stop reading the news, they're fear-mongers and outlandish predictions have been happening for decades.

> > When I was in elementary school (also early 90's) we were taught that

Do you think that your educators were climate scientists? Maybe you just had educators which misestimated the reports of actual scientists.

Is a grade-school teacher supposed to understand climate forecasting?

You're an adult. You should have realized by now that your grade school teachers didn't actually know everything about everything.


Just give it a decade or two and you won't need to be bother reading about it as you'll be living it.

I've heard about it for the last 30 years, glaciers that should be melted aren't, cities that should be underwater aren't, none of the alarming predictions have come true. In 30 years someone will be telling me just wait...

We are not scared because of “the news” we are scared because of the graphs of temperature over time. Look at the plot. Find the +1.5C on the y axis. Now find where the plot crosses that on the x axis.

We have like 15 years. Perhaps you dont think +1.5C does anything to farming?

The sea levels rising is not the issue.


More than 50 people just died from flooding of hurricane remnant in the Northeast just a few days ago. And Sandy really did put lower Manhattan under water causing huge damage. More of that is coming.

This is what I'm referring to:

edit - a better link since someone didn't appreciate my google-fu: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/544472-the-mo...

Stop moving goalposts. The media has a problem with peddling misinformation and shitty climate predictions.


You're quoting a site that talks about "pole shifts and earth changes" and complaining about misinformation and shitty predictions?

Honestly I simply can`t be bothered to search for a source that was in a newspaper and on TV 30 years ago. These predictions have been happening for a long time, I lived through them.

I`m not a climate change denier, but shitty predictions definitely hurt the cause of legitimate concern.

Here's another quick Google search from a (more?) legit site: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/544472-the-mo...

Of course anyone in the Gen X/older millennial category should know what I'm talking about anyway (unless they slept through the first decade of their schooling).


The predictions of a few individuals 30 years ago don't have nearly the same weight, at least to me, as the predictions of an international body of climate and earth science experts with 30 years of data and modelling experience behind them.

Go watch An Inconvenient Truth again.

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Another advice reportedly from Texas, regarding fighting rising temperatures: just crank up the goddamn air conditioner.

We had advices like that from former president. Ideas like "if you don't run testing for COVID, you don't have many positives" should surely be accepted enthusiastically on HN.

/s

Seriously, why it should matter if CNN talks about that or not? Don't facts rule, and rule pretty assertively here?


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South Florida floods constantly and the situation is getting worse year by year. Regular tides are now higher than ever and causing problems for residents. The creep is slow until it's not.

Sure it does. I meant literally underwater like redraw the maps cause the land is gone… that’s all I read/watched growing up.

That's something that can certainly happen in the lifetime of my grandchildren, if I have any. The problem is that even a two or three foot rise in seas (the current projection for Miami in 2060) requires trillions of dollars across the world so sewage and other nice features of civilization continue to operate.

The short term existential crisis is economic instability and mass migration leading to unpredictable warfare. The long term existential crisis is that south Florida really is gone along with the place where something like half of all humans live, the ocean life that supports billions of people dies out, and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns cause entire ecosystems to fail taking out huge chunks of humanity in addition to war over the remaining resources.


aren't you excited about having live through both the great rise of civilization and then also the biggest decline?

you may have gotten to see the absolute peak of society.


You are absolutely right about seeing the rise of civilization. Being a witness to the development of personal computers and the internet has been an incomparable privilege. But no, I am not at all excited about seeing it come to an end. I'm a big fan of civilization. I'm quite certain that watching it wind down is not going to be fun at all.

> God grant me the serenity

> to accept the things I cannot change;

> courage to change the things I can;

> and wisdom to know the difference.

Civilisation as we know it, and perhaps even humanity is in the process of ending. The ending is inevitable, whether it is now or nearer to the heat death of the universe.

If you can personally try and affect change, then you should do it. But more likely, you are a slave to the same system that everyone else is. I'd recommend working on acceptance at this point.


> whether it is now or nearer to the heat death of the universe

That makes a huge difference. Even having it wind down over a period of a few thousand years, or even a few hundred, would be a hell of a lot better than what is looking like the increasingly likely prospect of having it wind down in a few decades. That is going to cause an incalculable amount of pain.


if this is your attitude then at least get out of the way

Damn nice hate. OP was saying how he is losing sleep over climate change.

The requirements involved with contributing to slowing (or stopping) climate change do not include worrying about it. If you are losing sleep, you would benefit from changing your attitude towards it.

Civilisational decline is a constant. It is coming. Accept it now, and work to delay it if you can make a meaningful change. If not, don't lose sleep over it.

I'm doing what I can to invest in future green tech and trying to limit my consumption. I am NOT losing sleep over the fact that we probably don't have much more of a future as a race.


In your comment above, the last half semi-conflicted with the first half, which could easily be interpreted to imply that we shouldn’t really worry or do anything about it. Individually, that may be somewhat true / useful. But on a societal level it is quite harmful when it comes to climate change. I think that is why you are taking heat.

What you are saying would make sense if we ignore the context of the conversation. OP is losing sleep, which is a common way of telling the reader that their mental health is suffering due to wrestling with the concept of climate change and how society is underprepared for it.

If we ignore all that, then it sounds like I'm saying to give up. But if we take the context into account, it is evident that I'm actually giving OP advice on how to mentally and emotionally survive the coming apocalypse.

Though, maybe I should have been more clear.

> which could easily be interpreted

Perhaps there are more than one way in which to interpret certain concepts? Or maybe I'm interpreting your comment wrong?


The thought that came to mind was "ok boomer".

Edit: yeah, not positive but a knee-jerk reaction to the grandparent comment that essentially said "I got mine, Jack -- sucks to be you".


I don't understand; why would you post this? Do you think this will help the situation?

Why? Anger and frustration. Probably shouldn't have but the grandparent comment practically invited it.

There's so much we can do to mitigate the damage but that won't happen through complacency.


I agree that there is a lot to do to mitigate damage, and that complacency does not help. But posting meme responses neither mitigates damage, or reduces complacency. In my experience these kind of responses tend to reinforce complacent attitudes.

I can't see how someone posting their attitudes to climate change is "getting in the way." It's useful to know that people are starting to feel this way.

Maybe you could post your own attitudes and provide some justification for them instead? This may convince the other poster to change theirs. Currently your comment is pointless.


Ok, try this:

The money we spent on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars could have paid for true energy independence using renewables. We have a pending budge proposition to try and address it but some say we can't afford it.

How can we afford endless war but not afford investing in power that civilization needs but doesn't kill us?


Ok, I "tried this", and thinking about it did nothing to help the problem.

I try to choose the most useful response, which for me is volunteering time in organizations that develop solutions. This way I can use my personal expertise and contribute something, however small. If I find a more useful path, then I will take it.


> 56% agreed with the viewpoint that humanity is doomed, according to the study.

Climate change is a serious issue, and one that stands poised to do a substantial amount of harm, but if the majority of young people think that humanity is doomed then I seriously suspect that there's misinformation about the impact of climate change at play here. Even the more pessimistic outlooks of climate change still leave substantial areas of habitable climate. Many societies would be harmed, and disproportionately among lower income equatorial countries, but I think it's a massive stretch to say that humanity is doomed based on our climate projections.


I think it's irresponsible to act as though the climate crisis is just a matter of weather, and not how also we will respond to it. Resource shortages caused by the climate crisis could cause resource wars, and if weapons of mass destruction are deployed during those wars, that could easily finish off homo sapiens.

The mere collapse of civilization and mass death should be bad enough that we take drastic action to prevent it, but I do also think it would be foolish to dismiss the possibility of human extinction.


What shortages? The world overproduces food by no small margin. Starvation is a regional supply issue. In developed countries 30-40% of food often goes to waste. Alternative water supplies like desalination exist, and countries like Israel with constrained natural water supplies use it extensively. I think it's irresponsible to proclaim that humanity is doomed without a coherent argument as to why it won't be able to survive.

Overproduction of food is irrelevant if regional supply issues exist. So why do they exist, why are they sticky and so apparently unsolvable?

Desalination is prohibitively energy-intensive. More so in a world of shrinking resources.

You're arguing for precisely why these shortages are a problem but you think you're arguing against their existence. A "shortage" is not simply a hard supply number -- it's also defined by how well the supply is utilized. And the problem is precisely that humans are, and will presumably continue to be, selfish and horrible at using even sufficient or even surplus supplies. So why in the world would anyone think that we'll adequately deal with actually shortages?


> So why do they exist, why are they sticky and so apparently unsolvable?

Warfare and inept or corrupt government are the primary reasons. E.g. deliberate starvation as seen in the Ethiopia-Tigray conflict, and isolationism as seen in North Korea.

> Desalination is prohibitively energy-intensive. More so in a world of shrinking resources.

Israel produces the majority of its domestic water through desalination [1]. This is but one of several ways of improving water supply, others include wastewater reclamation or building new aqueducts.

> You're arguing for precisely why these shortages are a problem but you think you're arguing against their existence. A "shortage" is not simply a hard supply number -- it's also defined by how well the supply is utilized. And the problem is precisely that humans are, and will presumably continue to be, selfish and horrible at using even sufficient or even surplus supplies. So why in the world would anyone think that we'll adequately deal with actually shortages?

However bad you believe our utilization to be, the end result is still cutting world hunger by a third over the last 20 years. And more than halved since 1970. In developed countries, the percentage of land used for agriculture is often declining [2]. I think you're missing the forest for the trees: the reduction in arable land caused by climate change is more than offset by the greater yields delivered by industrialized agriculture, and the assumption that there will be a shortage in staple goods will not hold true.

1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/israel-proves-the...

2. https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2012/march/data-feature....


A lot of people still haven't realised that cultural extinction is likely to happen before personal or human extinction does.

Ironically we're a completely natural phenomenon - a species that outcompetes the others, but gets stuck at individual and herd intelligence without evolving collective intelligence.

We're basically a brushfire species - which is probably something that happens fairly regularly on planets.


These are interesting ideas, but really we just think we can predict more of the future than we can.

The temperatures are already increasing but the world is progressively getting less starved and malnourished over time, not more.

Source: our world in data / Factfulness.


Could you please link to the source for your claim?

In 2018, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization reported that climate change is one of the leading drivers of global hunger [1].

"Overall, the number of hungry people grew for the third year in row in 2017, reaching a total of 821 million worldwide. The paper warns that this number will continue to rise if countries fail to tackle climate change and to build resilience to its unavoidable impacts."

And just this summer, Madagascar made the news for suffering the world's first climate-induced famine [2].

[1] https://unfccc.int/news/un-warns-climate-change-is-driving-g...

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-58303792


This is true - hunger rates are rising since about 2015, but the link to climate change isn't singular. War is very influential, and the leading spots where you see hunger - Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria, Syria are known for their situations separate from climate change.

It's also unclear if this is a noise figure rather than a trend. Overall hunger has been declining for decades. Less people die from hunger and weather than ever before if you move the running average out a bit (10 years for example)

I wouldn't discount climate change here. It's obviously part of it. Syria is a prime example, where drought has contributed to the civil war. But like all climate change - it's nuanced.


Some specific sourcing would really help me accept these claims.

What I'm taking away here is that climate change is both directly driving hunger, and compounding other drivers like war. You call it "nuanced," which of course is true, in the same way that the proximate cause of death "from old age" is nuanced: each thing that goes bad compounds all the other things. I feel that misses the point, which is that climate change is only just beginning to exacerbate global hunger.



That omits the second half of the trend analysis by Our World In Data. The decades-long drop in global hunger has in fact reversed in recent years, and it's misleading just to cite the preceding decades of progress without any mention of its recent reversal:

However, over the last few years, the total number increased to around 663 million in 2017. This increase in hunger levels are largely a result of increases in Sub-Saharan Africa (where rates have risen by several percentage points in recent years) and small increases in the Middle East & North Africa. The UN FAO have linked this increase in undernourishment in particular to the rising extent of conflict-affected countries (which is often a leading cause of famine), and compounded by climate-related factors such as the El Niño phenomenon (which can inflict both drought and flood conditions).


Total numbers may have increased, but proportional numbers are still down. In 1990, 25% of the world lived in hunger, today it's under 10%. The overall decline is unambiguous.

I think what people mean by 'humanity is doomed' isn't about whether the homo sapiens species will continue - it will.

The fear is more that society collapses. Our way of life may be doomed. With our extreme focus on career specialisation over the past century, very few, if any of us have the generalist skills to thrive in a world equivalent to pre-industrial times. It's not something to shrug at. What country can actually live as a self contained unit without global supply lines and dependencies? What families or individuals could?

It's also true that there will be substantial areas of habitable climate. The problem is that people who weren't lucky enough to be born and live in one, won't simply accept their fates and die. Eight billion people will surge into a relatively small habitable band - in the process this will destroy the arable land and severely strain systems like water, power, waste and healthcare.


Why do you think climate change is going to make industrialized society and global trade disappear? Are warming oceans going to melt container ships? Not to be snide, but this comment is just postulating the collapse of industry and trade as fact without a cohesive picture as to why climate change will cause this.

The overwhelming majority of the earth will still be habitable with even the most pessimistic predictions of 4-5 degrees of warming. Those areas that stand to become uninhabitable, like the Sahara Desert, are very sparsely populated. Only 2.5 million people in an area the size of the continental USA. A big swath on a map, but not a very big impact on global demographics. As far as resources go, the world already has a substantial overproduction of food. Water can be secured from alternative sources, like desalination (Israel already obtains ~40% of its water from desalination) and reclamation of waste water.

To reiterate, I see a massive gap in how the effects of climate change lead to the collapse of global civilization.


  > To reiterate, I see a massive gap in how the effects of climate change lead to the collapse of global civilization.
some parts of the world/economy are stronger and more resilient than others

if, for example supply chains of manufactured goods from a few countries petered out, the effects would cascade up the chain to many other industries

just look at the effect of a covid, and microchip shortages, we can barely get capacity to build cars and even gpus now and its only getting worse

add some mass migrations here and there, political disruptions, markets pulling back investments (aka 2008) and more, and it becomes much easier to imagine our way of life being disrupted so such a degree that we "cannot carry on as before"


You're talking of billions of deaths from famine and conflict from displacement. Should young people not be alarmed about the idea of a few hundred of millions of humans relegated to the poles of the Earth because the species was too stupid to stop destroying their own planet?

If we can't prevent - or based on comments here, completely reject the reality of - the massive and preventable degradation of the only habitat in known universe where we can survive then we are in fact quite doomed.


> preventable degradation

The Kyoto Protocol, first international treaty designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, was signed in 1997. Since then greenhouse emissions have grown by 50% and global population has grown by 25%. What prevention measures are you proposing, and why did they utterly fail to reverse the catastrophic growth trend in the past 25 years?


Even amongst people who are presumably, on the whole, intelligent, and by definition (due to the nature of the work that attracts people to HN) good at understanding complex systems, the amount of down-playing and hardheadedness and frankly closed-minded thinking -- all in the service of a kind of soft denial -- displayed throughout the comments here is astounding. And it seems to stem from either unwillingness or inability to truly see the magnitude of the problem, the system affected as a whole.

Climate change is not happening in a vacuum. You are completely underestimating the monumental effects of what you're conceding will happen (disproportionate harming of lower income equatorial countries), and overstating the consolation of there still being substantial areas of habitable climate.

We are poised to see the largest refugee crisis in history. The global supply chain will lose its most foundational workers, the destruction of its most foundational resources. Wealthier nations will not welcome those refugees with open arms, and we can all but expect their arrival to even further foment the rise of right-wing extremism, which will continue to contribute to instability in their own native countries.

Furthermore, those shrinking but still existent areas of habitable climate will encourage violence simply by way of everyone on the planet becoming more and more aware of how rare they are. And even that ignores the fact that "habitable" does not mean "untouched." Those places will have their own purely-climate-related problems, politics and violence aside.

And that is but one of dozens or even hundreds of equally massive, intertwined, complex issues resulting from climate change.

The very literal existence of humanity may not be doomed (though it very well may be), but any semblance of global order and a functioning society very much is.


A lot of people see the problem, give us some credit. What we don't see is solutions. Do you have any to share?

Destroy oil/gas infra.

Deploy more solar.

Fund fusion research.

Deploy indoor vertical farms.

Build structures underground.


I presume we should destroy oil/gas/coal. That would wipe out ~85% of world's energy production. Might I ask how are we going to power the gigantic engineering project envisioned, on top of somehow keeping people from freezing and/or starving?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_supply_and_consum...


Swap it out for electric. I like how the “other” category of renewables is an exponential. The question is does that exponential get us to where we need to be in 10 years. If the answer is no, then we need to think about what minimizes overall damage the most.

I wonder what nation will be in last place for who is the cleanest. If theyre stubborn about burning gas I dont care about their sovereignty. I dont think I will be alone on that.


Oh and i forgot the most important one: high resolution satellite pollution maps.

A close second is military grade electric flight research.


Agreed, though "destroy" is a bit of an inflammatory word.

I'll add to your list: degrowth.


Climate change is the underlying problem, but most of the "doomed" feeling I've heard from others comes from the inevitable strife that will follow widespread climate displacement, famine, drought, and other increasingly severe weather. Not to mention feuding governments.

My feeling is that we could survive climate change easily, but it's the other people that will do us in.

We've lost ~4.5 million people globally to covid and things have been a little weird (this is certainly an understatement for some). What happens when that's 50 million? 100?


I'm glad that social media wasn't around when I was growing up. If the media had the same chance to clickbait me into panic in my day, I'd have been genuinely scared to death about the ozone layer being depleted or acid rain making the planet unlivable by now, yet here we are.

It's easy to panic about hot-button issues such as climate change when the media clickbaits you into endless doom and gloom and refuses to report on the safety and efficiency innovations in nuclear energy and the fact that whatever climate change exists has already been a solved problem for decades.

The media is the cause of the biggest mental health crises on the planet. We're letting some of the most mediocre people drive society into ruin just to get people to sell a few extra ads.


> I'd have been genuinely scared to death about the ozone layer being depleted or acid rain making the planet unlivable by now, yet here we are.

It's retroactively very extreme sounding, but that's because governments collectively acted to enact environmental regulations. The ozone really was on its way to just vanishing and still isn't fully recovered.

The difference is that governments are full of people who don't realize that active efforts prevented disaster scenarios, and they're paid to say the bad things that are happening aren't happening. What was a slow moving disaster is now accelerating and people are still pretending humans can magically fix everything they knowingly fucked up.


I don't use social media, HN notwithstanding, and it is plainly obvious to me from just looking out the window that climate change is substantial and accelerating. It is the most urgent and dangerous issue facing the planet.

I agree social media is awful, but it does not follow that climate change isn't cause to panic.

If anything, half of Americans are nowhere near panicked enough about climate change as the result of social media.


I think the point here is panic doesn't solve any problems and probably only makes things worse. We'd all be better off with level heads.

Just a few days ago there was a post about Gen-Z flooding climate science/environmental jobs and the response was pretty similar to here (except for some great discourse on whether these jobs actually make a difference in the first place).

Even those taking action are seen as overly concerned/panicked children who are only doing this because of TikTok. I cannot express under this site's guidelines how absolutely grating and antagonizing this kind of view is. As if media didn't exist before the Internet and this generation is somehow a uniform drone of phone-addicted feeble minds.

Perhaps it has less to do with irrational panic and more to do with the certain loss of life that will affect us all.


But who sees action takers as any of those things? More sustainable living- things like recycling, biking, better agriculture, cleaner energy, etc. etc- have been all the rage for the last 30 years. Getting funding for research even tangentially related to climate change or clean energy has been easy since the 90s. The stock market goes nuts for clean energy. The idea that people aren't taking it seriously is silly to me. The problem is there are just so many more people every year, not that people don't care.

Do you disagree that the clean energy problem has been solved by nuclear energy? I'm not panicked because I think we already have the solution.

All the climate alarmism and environmental activists has done is promote worse options like solar and wind that are more environmentally destructive and cannot sustain modern human civilization.


Germany is nearly halfway to replacing fossil fuels and nuclear power, other countries are even further along (though they are smaller). Pretty sure they qualify as a modern human civilizations.

I've heard nonsense claims against renewable energy my entire life, but it's all over except for the shouting. Nuclear is going away because wind and solar are already cheaper and easier to deploy and better for the environment. Maybe it's a good option on Mars where there isn't a biosphere.

If you were on a spaceship and every year the CO2 => oxygen recycling systems grew increasingly unpredictable as well as the average temperature of all systems onboard, would it be alarmist to figure out what was going on? The climate is changing, very slowly on our individual lifespan timescale, but very quickly on the timescale of the last twenty thousand years of weather patterns that can support our current population.


Yes, I disagree with you on many levels. First, solar and wind are not more environmentally destructive, at least in any appreciable way. Second, solar and wind can sustain modern human civilization. Third, clean energy has de facto not been solved because only a small percentage of generation is currently nuclear. Fourth, even what you describe were possible, construction lead time on known scalable reactor designs is many years. Fifth, even what you describe were possible, the fuel supply chain is underdeveloped and would take many years to develop. Sixth, all of wind, solar, and nuclear are just electric sources and we face a storage density problem not a generation problem. Seventh, the nature of the climate problem is one that has already happened and will continue for decades even if every human ceased to exist immediately. Eighth, nuclear is still not renewable. I could go on but I hope you appreciate that I disagree with you and think you are underinformed about nuclear power.

note: Uranium spot prices are increasing because the Sprott Physical Trust purchases and WSB activity. The spot market is a minor part of the overall markets. Plants purchase from producers directly under long term contracts.


> First, solar and wind are not more environmentally destructive, at least in any appreciable way.

There's many reasons that these forms of energy are arguably worse than nuclear environmentally: such as the substantial amount of prime land they must occupy to generate the same amount of electricity to the second order effects of their limited nature in necessitating batteries to store power when the sun/wind isn't working.

> Second, solar and wind can sustain modern human civilization. > Sixth, all of wind, solar, and nuclear are just electric sources and we face a storage density problem not a generation problem.

I've written about this many times, but this energy storage problem is precisely why wind and solar cannot work to drive human activity. When the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow, you just can't realistically store enough energy to drive refrigeration, industry, and all of the other features of modern life on a mass scale with our current technology level. Nuclear energy doesn't have this constraint.

> Third, clean energy has de facto not been solved because only a small percentage of generation is currently nuclear. > Fourth, even what you describe were possible, construction lead time on known scalable reactor designs is many years.

I'm not concerned. If it's a problem and necessary for humanity, it will eventually happen, and very quickly. I think economics dictates this.

> Fifth, even what you describe were possible, the fuel supply chain is underdeveloped and would take many years to develop.

Not worried. Uranium prices are currently spiking and will continue to spike. And this is a good thing as it incentivizes increased production. Experts more informed than me have said when the spot price of uranium hits around 60-65, many more mines and sources become economically viable and will start scaling up.

> Seventh, the nature of the climate problem is one that has already happened and will continue for decades even if every human ceased to exist immediately.

I have no doubt that climate change fear mongering will exist eternally. Whenever a politician messes up forest management or flood mitigation, it's easier to blame "climate change" than their own competence.

I'm less convinced that it's a real threat to life on Earth. We'll adapt to any challenges, as we always have.

> Eighth, nuclear is still not renewable.

It doesn't matter as we have enough uranium to last many, many, many lifetimes, and far more if sea-water extraction can be done safely. By that point, we'll have other options.

> I could go on but I hope you appreciate that I disagree with you and think you are underinformed about nuclear power.

I'd agree with you that despite trying to stay informed, I don't know nearly enough about nuclear energy. And for that I blame the media who is fixated on trying to clickbait fear rather than informing us about the solutions.


The difference is that people took action on the ozone layer and acid rain. Now they aren't problems.

I can't understand the viewpoint that climate change coverage is some sort of clickbait to drive ad revenue. I can't think of anything worse to read about. It's so depressing and makes me avoid the news and see less ads if anything.


> already been a solved problem for decades

How solved is it if the solutions aren't getting deployed?


Climate scientists have historically maintained a tacit agreement to not discuss other solutions publicly, because they think reducing emissions is the best way to go and they don't want to distract politicians by telling them about other options. This has changed a bit in recent years (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/solar-geoengineer...), but the change largely hasn't filtered to the public consciousness.

That article is not about saying it's a solution. It's about saying it merits research, in case it's needed as a result of all of these other efforts being insufficient or poorly managed. Because for all we know, we'll need it and it won't work.

The researchers are emphatic that it shouldn't be framed as a solution, but all of the concerns mentioned in the article (and elsewhere that I've seen) are about potential side effects or moral hazards. There doesn't seem to be any dispute that solar geoengineering could be implemented and would rapidly reduce global temperatures.

It will happen when it has to.

Look into Scott Adams law of slow moving disasters.

https://www.scottadamssays.com/2013/04/15/fact-checking-adam...

To sum it up, whenever humans see a problem coming in the distant future, they find a way to solve it in time. Y2K is a great example of this: when stories about the effects of Y2K were popularized, some people thought that there would be no way to fix so many millions of lines of code in time and some of the marvels of human civilization like the electrical grid or the banking system might irrecoverably crash. Yet humans found ways to solve the issues and essentially nothing happened.


Scott Adams is a cartoonist with a degree in economics and an MBA.

ad hominem attack. I don't like his attitude personally but thats not ultimately relevant.

I don't think it's an ad hominem attack. What I've said is true. Just because someone is passionate and interested in medicine in their free time doesn't qualify them as a physician and the same is true in this case. It is possible that Scott Adams will end up being correct, but there are other people that have devoted a lot more time and energy in their lives learning and researching this subject than him, and I would prefer to spend my limited time listening to them instead. I think they are much more likely to be correct.

"If Biden is elected, there's a good chance you will be dead within the year. Republicans will be hunted."

https://twitter.com/ScottAdamsSays/status/127830983545328435... https://twitter.com/ScottAdamsSays/status/127831632504405606...

Maybe pick someone with a slightly better record on predictions.


I’m convinced now the reason we don’t live in a galaxy full is interstellar species is that ad-driven engagement has ended every society before it gets to that level of technology.

I'm probably overly calm about climate change. I can't trust that science isn't trying to sensationalize the problem so much so that I end up discounting everything I read.

Take this [1] paper for example I just happened upon. Look at this scary graphic they provide to convince the reader that wildfires are getting worse [2]. The paper goes on painting a terrible picture about the rising trend of wildfires in the U.S. Now let's look at the source for their graphic and look back further at earlier dates from the same source. [3] - kind of paints a different picture, no?

So at what point am I, an average citizen supposed to be worried enough that I do my own systematic reviews of the literature and see who is just sensationalizing the problem?

Maybe I'm the minority, maybe the "marketing" of global warming is exactly as it should be if the problem is indeed as dire as many would have me believe, but the obvious sensationalism just makes me wonder if everyone trying to sell me on this fear has just bought into the hype and as such I'll be a hard sell on this issue, because if it was real and dire - I doubt there would be such obvious sensationalism every time I look into it.

[1] https://costofcarbon.org/files/Flammable_Planet__Wildfires_a...

[2] https://i.imgur.com/0FlXads.png

[3] https://i.imgur.com/zvbApzL.png


> Now let's look at the source for their graphic and look back further at earlier dates from the same source. [3] - kind of paints a different picture, no?

Yes, but not in the way you're portraying it. The big shift downwards comes in a major shift in strategy in dealing with forest fires in the early to mid 1900s; it doesn't tell you much about the climate at the time. https://foresthistory.org/research-explore/us-forest-service...

> In 1935, the Forest Service established the so-called 10 a.m. policy, which decreed that every fire should be suppressed by 10 a.m. the day following its initial report. Other federal land management agencies quickly followed suit and joined the campaign to eliminate fire from the landscape.


I'm curious in how you interpret my comment here - in what way am I portraying this issue? What I mean to show is that forest fires have gotten immensely better, likely because of technology over the years. Which is exactly what I hear many climate change skeptics suggest - that technology will solve the problems, like we appear to be seeing here.

> What I mean to show is that forest fires have gotten immensely better, likely because of technology over the years.

I'm saying they haven't gotten better.

The drop in the 1930s-1950s shown in the wider chart has nothing to do with climate, and little to do with technology. It reflects a misguided change in fire management strategy (put out every fire ASAP), one that is now understood as a bad approach, because it causes build ups of unburnt brush that cause more dangerous, more intense fires.


But solutions don't just fall out of the sky. Saying that technology will solve the problem risks a bystander effect, where nobody is packing, reducing emissions, or working on clean energy because of a belief that such effort is wasteful as a the technology will appear out of nowhere.

And saying that technology won't solve the problem risks a discouraging effect, where people might avoid working on climate-resistant crops or efficient AC or improved fire control strategies because they believe their efforts can't help with climate change. It's not obvious to me that either of these hypotheticals are strong enough to justify shaping the public discourse around them.

> where people might avoid working on climate-resistant crops or efficient AC or improved fire control strategies because they believe their efforts can't help with climate change.

No. People will keep working on it. But being unrealistic and continuing to live and consume like you did in the 00's because "anyway, tech will save us" is the worst comportment anybody can have.


I too find that wildland fires on the West coast being conflated with climate change as bad messaging. You can read about the California valley being filled with smoke consistently during the late summer in "Up and Down California", a series of journals written between 1860-1865[1].

That said, I backpacked in the Sierras this summer and alarmingly saw many old Pine stands recently dead from what I assume is the drought. I also find the perilous state of the arctic ocean ice, the seeming breakdown of typical jetstream patterns(probably linked to the arctic ice) and the sky-high CO2(resulting in ocean acidification as well as warming) all particularly concerning.

[1] http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/up_and_down_california

If you want to read about particularly the smoke, the books are broken up by year and chapters chronologically, his writings during September particularly tend to describe the smoke.


Fires specifically is an annoying one. Politicians have huge incentive to point the blame at anything except poor management.

See:

> Approximately 1.8 million ha burned annually in California prehistorically (pre 1800). Our estimate of prehistoric annual area burned in California is 88% of the total annual wildfire area in the entire US during a decade (1994–2004) characterized as ‘‘extreme’’ regarding wildfires. The idea that US wildfire area of approximately two million ha annually is extreme is certainly a 20th or 21st century perspective. Skies were likely smoky much of the summer and fall in California during the prehistoric period.

from: Prehistoric fire area and emissions from California’s forests, woodlands, shrublands, and grasslands (2007)

https://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/Resources/Conservation/Fi...

And:

> Many consider wildfire as an accelerating problem [...] however, important exceptions aside, the quantitative evidence available does not support these perceived overall trends.

from: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rstb.201...


The book 'Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters' by Steven Koonin is worth a read if you get interested in learning more from a knowledgeable source that tries to cut through the hype. Of course, given the publicity of the issue it is often sensationalized, misconstrued, etc.

I suppose those sensational stories/papers get more attention so that’s the short answer? I’m with you though. My personal life has not been affected at all (yet) so I am fortunate. But it’s not worth the stress, I mean the top comment is someone saying they are losing a lot of sleep over climate change. Like buddy get a grip.

Most smokers are unable to quit. Most fat people are unable to lose weight. I worry that most civilizations are unable to cut carbon emissions.

The difference between these is that stopping smoking and losing weight make your life overall better. Reducing carbon emissions will make life worse for everyone who's already on the lower rungs of humanity. No realistic amount of resource redistribution is going to work here.

It's also not enough. We will have to start sucking up that carbon from the atmosphere whether we cut emissions or not.


> Reducing carbon emissions will make life worse for everyone who's already on the lower rungs of humanity. No realistic amount of resource redistribution is going to work here.

The people on the "lower rungs of humanity" emit an order of magnitude less carbon than everyone else, and should be the last to cut.


>The people on the "lower rungs of humanity" emit an order of magnitude less carbon than everyone else, and should be the last to cut.

I see this argument frequently and it annoys me.

Poor people emit less carbon because they are poor. Do you want them to stay poor?!? I want a future where everyone can at least live a life as wealthy as mine. But my carbon emissions are much higher than that of the global poor.

If we can provide everyone with at least a quality of life like mine, then we're going to massively increase carbon emissions globally. Sure, better technology will help us here, but it is completely unrealistic to expect this to cancel out the increases of emissions and for this not to increases prices. This would, again, put my kind of life out of reach for many.

Look at China for a realistic example. China has had one of the highest reductions in poverty in history - from 88% in extreme poverty in 1981 to 0.7% by 2015.[0] At the same time China's carbon emissions per capita went from 1.46 tons in 1981 to 7.169 tons in 2015.[1] That's a 391% increase in emissions per capita, but it's worth it, because people are better off as a result.

Climate change is a problem, but it won't ruin tomorrow. It will slowly get worse, but this means that there's time. I believe that technological (engineering) solutions are the only way we can realistically deal with it. Cutting emissions is not going to be enough and it will come with a whole boatload of side effects.

[0] https://ourworldindata.org/the-global-decline-of-extreme-pov...

[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC?location...


What engineering solutions are you envisioning solving this? Short of a deus ex machina like fusion coming out of the wings and decreasing the cost of clean energy by a huge degree, this seems like it's going to be the hardest thing humanity has had to deal with in recorded history, and make the misery of extreme poverty in China seem nice in comparison.

Carbon capture.

>this seems like it's going to be the hardest thing humanity has had to deal with in recorded history, and make the misery of extreme poverty in China seem nice in comparison.

I don't see how. There aren't going to be major effects for most people for a very long time. This gives us plenty of time to try various things like carbon capture, putting a shade into space etc.

On carbon capture that we can do today: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-09-08/inside-th...

At $600 per ton of CO2 it's not insurmountable. We emit about 36 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Napkin math:

36 billion * $600 = $21.6 trillion

Global GDP is at around $84 trillion, which means that this carbon capture technology is within our reach. Obviously an enormous amount of work would need to be done, but it's at least in the right ballpark.

The US emits about 4.8 billion tons of CO2. That would cost $2.88 trillion. Considering the US GDP is $21 trillion that's even more reasonable.

Technological advancement is likely going to cut this cost further. However, I'm also sure that there are some emissions that haven't been factored in here, but we would still be at numbers where society can work.

Also, "extreme poverty" is subsistence farming. About $2-3 worth of goods per day of work.


I’m actually in the middle of studying carbon capture right now (via AirMiners Bootup, free, worth checking out the next batch if you’re interested). Direct air capture like Climeworks requires a lot of energy to free the CO2 from the sorbent, and it needs to be near a geological formation that can accept the CO2. We’d need a massive build-out of excess power generation, you can’t just extrapolate out from current numbers. And good luck convincing the people of the world that this is worth spending 1/4 of GDP (not existing government budgets, but all GDP) on this before we’re well past the scenarios we’re looking at and playing serious catch-up. If fusion comes along and energy becomes a fraction of the cost, then this becomes cheaper/easier, but the scale would still need to be extreme.

The foremost experts in DAC are emphatic that it’s not a silver bullet that will magically save us, and that the heavy lifting needs to be done by reducing new emissions.

And at this point, going eventually carbon neutral isn’t enough to avoid the 2 degree C scenario, we need to be going negative eventually.

The major effects seem likely to be deadly heatwaves, crop failure in hotter areas, mass migration, and political strain from all of that.


You ever consider maybe modern civilization is inherently unsustainable?

No. Maybe if our population wasn't leveling off I'd take it seriously, but it is. And even then a larger population isn't bad, because more people = more engineering and technological advancement. And some of that will help us solve this problem.

> We will have to start sucking up that carbon from the atmosphere whether we cut emissions or not.

We will have to start sucking it up faster than we've extracted it... which is about 100 million barrels a day. Ain't gonna happen.


Switching from fossil fuels to renewables and nuclear can have massive benefits to population health.

It’s not all a negative trade off.


you can't easily force 7B people to act individually. you have to regulate at the source (the mfgs). we are far beyond individual action as a viable solution.

I feel like people use this as an excuse to avoid making any inconvenient changes in their lifestyle, or rather to avoid considering making inconvenient changes to their lifestyle.

The problem with this is that it means not only are they not doing anything to help, they're much less likely to vote for people who would too because they're unwilling to accept inconveniences. Instead they'll vote for people who's policies would only inconvenience others, or make performative gestures while accomplishing nothing.

I'm afraid I have come to agree with others who believe this is a problem that society simple can't solve because it lacks any mechanism to make the necessary choices.


There's only so much you can do as an individual. Yes we can do something but so much of the emissions we see are just cranked out as 'externalities' by global systems built over the last century.

If I want a house made of sustainable materials, that's irrelevant if no builders near me are using them (or in the last 50 years when the houses were built).

If I want an appliance that lasts for 50 years, who is selling them? There's more profit in shipping cheap junk that you replace often

If I want to ride a bike to work, what do I do if there's no bike lane and I live really far away due to low density zoning and urban sprawl?

If I want to use renewable energy, which grid can I plug into that isn't powered by coal?

If I need medicine, which manufacturer will use biodegradable plastics for their containers? Should I factor that in and weigh it against the effectiveness of the medicine itself as a consumer? I'm supposed to vote with my dollars, right?

There's not really any way around legislating or directly subsidising alternatives if its going to make a difference.


> There's not really any way around legislating or directly subsidising alternatives if its going to make a difference.

I don't disagree. What I'm saying is that this narrative of no one's individual choices mattering in the grand scheme leads people to just stop doing anything, not only personally, but also on a political level.


> I feel like people use this as an excuse to avoid making any inconvenient changes in their lifestyle, or rather to avoid considering making inconvenient changes to their lifestyle.

i would be happy to only use glass bottles and no more plastic even if it means i have to wash them before taking them to get refilled. except there is nowhere i can do this. all i have the option of doing is buying and landfilling more single use plastic.

people need to be given no cheaper choice than to do the right thing. but capitalism isnt about to stop maximizing profits and disregarding externalities. they would much rather cheer you on to "recycle" (landfill) rather than reduce or reuse.

it's a race to the bottom. i've heard it called environmental arbitrage. regulations too harsh in US? outsource to china where it's cheaper and simply gets dumped into rivers/oceans over there.

the "individual action makes a difference" is fairy tale. for every 1 person who tries individual action, 999 will discard 3000 plastic containers that cost them ~$0 to acquire but made the container mfg $3,000 profit.


> the "individual action makes a difference" is fairy tale. for every 1 person who tries individual action, 999 will discard 3000 plastic containers that cost them ~$0 to acquire but made the container mfg $3,000 profit.

Unless of course all 1000 of them decided to do something. Can't you see how this narrative is self-fulfilling?


the typical consumer and business doesnt give much shit about more than their bottom line and nimby. if half the amazon rainforest gets clearcut for palm oil farming, most people in this generation wont be affected by it, why would they stop buying products made with palm oil? they won't.

until everyone's houses start burning down or flooding due to climate change, or they see empty grocery stores, no one will care/act. at that point it is far too late to _start_ making changes. people with the means to make lifestyle changes are far too removed from the externalities and timescales to affect their behavior.


Exactly, and that's my point: the individual's unwillingness to sacrifice is directly correlated with the government's unwillingness to force them to. Why would people who don't care vote for people who would take their conveniences from them?

It’s already happening, a lot of countries are cutting down carbon emissions.

Interesting analogy but I don't think it holds up. Both of these are stereotypical examples of failure of willpower. Climate change does not require personal willpower when we have laws available to create carrots and sticks.

My point was that im worried society doesnt have the willpower to create those laws just like many obese people dont have the will power to lose weight.

As much as I dislike smoking or obesity, those aren't the main causes of climate change. If we eliminated both of those entirely, today, we'd still have a crisis.

That being said, I'll absolutely agree with the sentiment that "humans will always be human". We're not going to collectively try to fix this until it's too late. That's the saddest part.


His point is more that humans can’t easily change, even if they know the solution.

Yes, hence my second paragraph.

So you understood the sentiment clearly but missed how those were analogies? Weird audience

Yes, exactly. It's 3am, I misread the comment. Sorry.

Obesity isn't the main cause, but it is a growing contributor to climate change.

Not true. Calories are not created equally in terms of environmental impact.

If the food obese people are eating has a large environmental impact, obesity definitely contributes.

That's a pretty big "if" in your statement. I thought HN was better than this.

From my previous HN post:

> Message boards are message boards. You can't take them seriously, including this one.


Are you suggesting the average American got fat off environmentally friendly low-carbon-impact food products? Because I suspect they got fat off Oreos and Coca-Cola.

Those are vegan products; I'd guess they have relatively low environmental impact aside from their plastic packaging.

Those have a lower carbon impact than meat.

[flagged]


> I'm suggesting exactly what I said. Would you like me to repeat it?

You're being aggressive and condescending for no reason. To quote you, "I thought HN was better than this."

> When beef has the 30x the environmental impact of plant based food per calorie, it would be hard to make the statement that fat people are automatically to blame for climate change.

This isn't what anybody suggested. As obesity rises, people eat more, creating the food to sustain those people causes a greater environmental impact. If more people drive cars, we need more gas, right?

> The whole argument is just completely ignorant on its face.

You're angry for no reason.

> Dispute what I said instead of making glib replies.

Done.

> Do you think every calorie has the same environmental impact? No? Because OF COURSE NOT. So what are you even disagreeing with?

More net calories is more net carbon. Basic math, friend.


[flagged]


> Did you know it is socially awkward to respond to someone who isn't talking to you?

No, that's how online message boards work.


> An overweight vegetarian has lower environmental impact that an average weight meat eater.

Gallup has the US at 5% vegetarian. Math doesn't add up.


The economics of solar are good news. Hopefully we've hit an inflection point where coal power is no longer economical [1]

[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/90583426/the-price-of-solar-elec...


Coal hasn't been economical for at least two years, in the sense that the capital cost of new PV is less than the operating cost of existing coal.

The problem is that developing countries like China and India are so desperately short of electricity (growth in demand is so high) that any new builds just add to existing production rather than replacing it. - Governments will prop up uneconomic generators to maintain total supply.

I don't know how to scale up PV and wind quickly enough to just replace coal in this situation.

Edit: the Chinese experiments with thorium molten salt and pebble-bed high temperature fission reactors are interesting here.

If they can easily swap out coal furnaces with nuclear reactors and retain the other 80% of the power stations, they'll get great benefits in air quality and and emissions while making use of of their investment in thermal generation.


Looks like China is bringing online 40GW coal per year. Around the same amount the US/EU are retiring. According to figure 1 [1]

[1] https://globalenergymonitor.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/C...


Peak Chinese coal consumption was 2013, it's still substantial but total usage has been falling along with percentage of total output for a while now.

Can you provide a citation?


Turns out it’s easy to make cheap solar cells if you have access to unlimited free labor from Chinese prison camps.

Assuming the people are there justly for committing a crime and not being convicted just to provide free labor doesn't it make sense to have these people do something instead of sitting all day in a cage?

Your assumption is doing most of the work here.

In my opinion, anything that creates a profit motive for imprisonment and recidivism is an incentive recipe for disaster. So even if justly incarcerated I would probably say no?

But regardless, I don't think assuming just incarceration in China is a great idea.

e.g. [0], "Forced Labor The PRC government has pressured large numbers of Uyghurs, including former detainees, into accepting employment in the formal workforce, particularly in the textile, apparel, agricultural, consumer electronics, and other labor-intensive industries, in Xinjiang and other provinces. Uyghurs who refuse to accept such employment may be threatened with detention. Some factories utilizing Uyghur labor reportedly are tied to global supply chains. Factory employment often involves heavy surveillance and political indoctrination of Uyghurs."

[0] https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF10281


Crimes like saying something unflattering about the communist party? Or crimes like being an Uyghur?

It's the thing that will most predictably change everything. Anxiety is anticipation with a negative outlook. Living under a power structure that's so inefficacious, and a culture that's so in denial, I think the kids would be crazy to be anything but - not only anxious - but more anxious than the rest of us are.

> more than half said climate change made them feel "afraid, sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and/or guilty."

That seems like a bad survey. Why does 'guilty' get 'and/or' while the others do not? Guilty does not belong in the same question with the others. Maybe surveys like this one find what they are looking for because of the way the questions are asked.


You're reading the reporting wrong.

It is meant as: afraid and/or sad and/or anxious and/or angry and/or powerless and/or helpless and/or guilty

ie the last "and/or" is defining what the commas mean. Just like "a, b, c, and d" or "a, b, c, or d" don't mean "a, b, (c and d)" or "a, b, (c or d)"

And that was also a smaller summary list of options than the actual study had.


I suppose if we throw enough terms into a single question then it applies to everyone. What, exactly, do we learn with a question like that?

The actual report had a histogram comparing the relative results of all those options against each other.

The point I'm trying to make is that what you're calling out as a bad question is a summary in 3rd party reporting and not the actual questions in the survey or the report.

It's a bit like judging a book based on someone else's book report rather than the book itself.


I'm sure people are frustrated, but I wonder what the consensus, if you could fine one, would be.

What exactly are they expecting governments to change? Policy, power generation, transportation, what? And will they accept the necessary or resultant policies and changes?

The above are "easy" if you have a totalitarian regime where what the autocrats say go, goes: China, Saudi Arabia, etc., most other countries are more democratic and it takes time for change to happen.


Tax carbon. Use cross border tariffs to prevent offshoring emissions. People will then make the economically rational decision to use public transportation, buy EVs, put solar on the roof, insulate their homes, buy heat pumps, and eat less meat.

Carbon taxes look like a useful tool; I wonder what the unforeseen drawbacks and consequences might be.

Will people redefine what carbon is; who will suffer, how many people will lose jobs due to electrification of many industries (auto MFG for one, the UFW, is concerned). What happens to the third world where they use charcoal for cooking?

I think there is much more to be thought out.


>Will people redefine what carbon is;

Yes. It will become a political football because of its immense power to economically marginalize wide swaths of society.


If a carbon tax won’t pass in liberal Washington I don’t think there’s much hope for the rest of the US, TBH.

This is the best solution for today’s world. I wish I could upvote this a million times.

Except it simply won't happen because people will not stand for everything becoming more expensive and inconvenient. They will not vote for people who will enact these policies.

This is why revenue neutral carbon taxes are key. At tax year end, you pay out all carbon tax revenues divided between every taxpayer.

Individuals are still incentivised to make climate friendly consumption choices, but on net the population is no worse off financially.


Exactly this. The very policy we need that would be best is untenable because society has been built around cheap, dirty energy.

Yeah, I'm afraid we're didn't do the right thing when the Saudis extorted the world for more expensive energy. Instead of making dirty deals with them, we should have sought policies to end reliance on them, but we couldn't and no one could. But were in the same place. And we can thank Jane Fonda for killing the one thing that could have removed that albatross from out necks.

Government might not be the solution here. I look at electric cars and soon they will require less maintenance, less money for fuel and be cheaper than their ICE counterparts. If you build something that emits less CO2 and it is BETTER and CHEAPER than the competition it's game over. No one but hobbyists will look at ICE again.

This to me aligns with economic theory in practice more accurately than a carbon tax.


> Government might not be the solution here. I look at electric cars...

Governments took quite a few measures in the last few decades to subsidize and encourage the electric car market.


Internalizing negative externalities through taxation is literally Economics 101. That's not to say that that makes a carbon tax inherently a good idea (though I think it is), but there's nothing economically unsound about it and there's a reason lots of economists support it.

Taxes are taught in economics 101, but tax evasion is not: drive across state lines, shop online, under report activity, buy on the black market, etc. You need a strong enforcement mechanism in place that's often hand waived away. When I studied economics (2006) the theory was brilliant but always fell short of delivering in practice.

People won't evade buying cars that produce less CO2 if they're cheaper and better than the competition. This is why I think it's more likely to align with economic theory.


> I'm sure people are frustrated, but I wonder what the consensus, if you could fine one, would be.

Probably despair that they've been failed by my generation, my parent's generation and (since they're to a large extent the ones still in power, at least in the US), my grandparent's generation. Since, as you point out, change takes time in democracies, and even longer internationally, it was our collective jobs to avoid even being in this situation, and we sort of screwed the pooch.


Let's say people in the 70s knew climate change was happening. That it was the prevailing consensus and had the necessary evidence.

What were governments supposed to do? What technology were they going to leverage? did we have computers, modelling, alternatives?

Cars with ICE could have become more efficient, yes. But where else could we have cut the fat? Fewer people via worldwide contraception, to stem demand? More public transit? Much of carbon output is not on the consumer side, but on the industry side of things.

The antinuke activists killed green energy which would have make coal and other dirty power obsolete. That would have been a nice chunk.

I don't think we had the technology back then to do much about it. We could have slowed it down a bit, but not stop it.


In the US, we could have built cities and suburbs which did not necessitate owning an ICE vehicle (at least for the majority of residents). We could have pushed the development of electric cars, which were certainly plausible in the 90s. We (the US gov't) could've stopped subsidizing fossil fuels. Heck, with the end of the cold war, the US could've substantially cut military spending, which accounts for a rather non-trivial portion of the nation's carbon emissions. More generally, we could've taxed carbon emissions to correctly account for the externalities they generated (which it was certainly possible to compute in the 70s: the energy companies themselves were doing it!), which would've likely shifted land use away from cattle, energy generation away from coal, &c.

These are things which are, quite clearly, at least an order of magnitude less than what we need to accomplish today, but since climate change is caused by the area under the emissions curve, perhaps that 50 year head start would've been enough. With the benefit of hindsight, it certainly would've been worthwhile to give it more of a try than what we actually did.


>Let's say people in the 70s knew climate change was happening.

The broad understanding of it was known in the late 70s, and even accepted by politicians by the early 80s as a policy requirement before it became politicised later.

>I don't think we had the technology back then to do much about it. We could have slowed it down a bit, but not stop it.

If you think of the massive exponential growth of oil/gas consumption and the level of deforestation since the 70s - even just slowing it down back then would've bought a much longer window of time to tackle it with less disruption as well as develop technologies to help fix/mitigate it.


another issue is that changing something, greenhouse gas let's say, is harder on the margin. The first improvements are cheap, the later ones aren't. Looking at an EPA webpage, I see that current per capita US CO2 emissions are about 65% of the 1970 levels.

I can certainly see some of the problems. The real increases are in India/China. Union of Concerned Scientists shows that US share of worldwide CO2 is 15%, even a solid change is only a fraction of 15%. A lot of solutions (nuclear, fracking of natgas to replace coal, cutting immigration from the Third World to the First, etc.) are politically unpopular with climate activists. World population is supposed to peak at 50% higher than current level. GDP improvements (and energy use) could easily outstrip improvements in efficiency. etc. etc.

oh well, no one is asking me to run their lives so I'll just sit back and watch.


Carbon taxation. The idea being that otherwise it’s an unpriced externality.

Build more CANDUs

No problem has ever been solved by worrying about what you can't control. Just a couple centuries ago, the average life expectancy was less than 40. If people spent all their time worrying about whether they or their children would die, nobody would get anything done. The amount that you actually care about climate change is a function of how much you're willing to do about it, not how guilty you feel about it or how worried about it.

https://twitter.com/pkedrosky/status/1438148663860076546

"Given the importance of these future projections, one might expect the brain to possess accurate, unbiased foresight. Humans, however, exhibit a pervasive and surprising bias: when it comes to predicting what will happen to us tomorrow, next week, or fifty years from now, we overestimate the likelihood of positive events, and underestimate the likelihood of negative events. For example, we underrate our chances of getting divorced, being in a car accident, or suffering from cancer. We also expect to live longer than objective measures would warrant, overestimate our success in the job market, and believe that our children will be especially talented. This phenomenon is known as the optimism bias, and it is one of the most consistent, prevalent, and robust biases documented in psychology and behavioral economics."


Sep 13 2021 article from the Guardian - Title: "Rain fell on Greenland’s ice sheet for the first time ever known. Alarms should ring".

[https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/13/greenl...]

Quote: "To save the Greenland ice sheet – and Florida – will require a Nansen-esque transformation on steroids, something inspired by, but much larger than, President Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal. To begin, we need to elect representatives who respect science, and accept the magnitude of what we’re up against. If they do not, they must be defeated.

It’s time to put our planet first."


Do governments have the technologies to become carbon neutral?

From my maybe uniformed perspective it seems like we’re still several scientific breakthroughs away from alternative energies and sustainable technologies being competitive and cost effective.


I am Gen-Z and I'm pretty sure I won't have children. They cannot grow up in a Hell we created and that they never asked to exist in. It's something I think about very often.

What hell do you see? The world is unequivocally getting better in terms of health, food supplies, education, economics, etc.

I’d recommend reading Factfulness if you want data based evidence for what I’m saying.


There's going to be global famines within my lifetime and a refugee crisis measurable in the hundreds of millions of people. I would say the death toll is unfathomable, but the IPCC makes it very clear that countries worth of people will die.

The Hell I see is the Hell the science has determined is all-but certain: the next 80 years will be a series of tragic trending videos, distant, until it directly affects _you_.


I distinctly remember hearing how southern Florida would be underwater by now in class in the 90s. People have been making arguments for decades about climate change and while I generally believe the trends, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as saying a country of people will die within the next 80 years. Prior climate change predictions have not been accurate enough to inspire much confidence, TBH.

Can you please point out where in the IPCC report it makes it very clear that countries worth of people will die?

Ok, if we remove China, and you could be born anywhere on earth in the early 70s, randomly amongst the newborn, or today (again, randomly). Would you choose today?

Today, absolutely. The poor parts of the world have pretty much all made gains over the ~50 years. Take a look here: https://ourworldindata.org or (and I feel like a shill; this is my third or fourth time mentioning it) pick up Factfulness for a data driven answer for why you too should pick today when asked this question.

At this point, the only viable solution is geo-engineering, which has a great feature: you can do it unilaterally, without having to convince every single person to change their habits.

I strongly recommend 'Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All' by Michael Shellenberger https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B07Y8FHFQ7&preview=new...

I wasn't overly impressed by Apocalypse Never. It has some interesting tidbits, sure. But ultimately a lot of the argument was about reframing harm as deaths instead of dollars: we have better technology so we can avoid deaths from natural disasters. That's good but if we are causing natural disasters to be worse and the sea level to rise that's still something we should seek to avoid.

I found Unsettled, [1] by former Caltech provost Steven Koonin to be much more compelling. The approach is rigorous and scientific. The author is not partisan. He did work for BP but also served in the Obama administration. He brings to the climate debate a rational skepticism that is typically discouraged in polite/liberal company. IMO it was at least 2x as compelling as Apocalypse Never.

1: https://www.amazon.com/Unsettled-Climate-Science-Doesnt-Matt...



What’s the summary?

Nuclear and shale gas shill writes how technology will solve everything.

as opposed to solar and wind "shills" who say humanity is doomed if the government doesn't funnel billions of dollars to their industries? Each side has monetary incentives to push their view point

Fact is that without the fear mongering about nuclear energy decades ago we'd probably be carbon neutral by now


Maybe it'd be better to read the opinions of relevant faculty instead. I know at least one climate science faculty who has publicly referred to Shellenberger as a "professional asshole" after being treated so poorly by Shellenberger.

Shellenberger is just next in the long list of industry shills who peddle the same misinformation and then complain when researchers get mad at him, claiming endless victimhood.


As hominem attacks are not a good way to discredit an argument though.

Shellenberger's arguments have been discredited for decades. At some point, it is just a denial of service attack against researchers with better things to do with their time when he says "fight me fight me fight me fight me" over and over. It is the same rhetorical trick. At some point, you just get frustrated and call somebody an asshole and move on.

Yes, it isn't sound logical thinking to say "tons of relevant experts in this field think this guy is an idiot." But it definitely is a strong bayesian update.


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