• Tim3003
    163
    Despite the euphoria surrounding the Paris Climate Accord the world's leaders and its people have failed to act on the promises made. Few countries have legislated to start the drastic countermeasures necessary to slow down and halt global warming.

    My question is: is global warming a challenge too great for humanity to handle? Is the momentum of the growth-based capitalist system too great to slow and turn around? Is the ecocentric view of the world which could galvanise the will to make sacrifices outside our nature?

    I have noticed a fatalism in many people - ie 'it's too late to stop it now' or 'I'll be long gone by then' so why bother? Is this more a view of the older generation, and are younger adults ready to rise to the challenge? But even if they are, can they convince enough of the apathetic majority to win power for radical new governments in the few years before it's too late?
  • Tzeentch
    457
    Climate change is a natural phenomenon. Unless you want to change the Earth's orbit or alter the processes that take place on the surface of the sun, climate change is simply a fact of life.
  • NOS4A2
    1.7k


    Yes, and that people are trying to stop it is a sign of man’s hubris. I predict mass loss of life will come from man’s tinkering with nature long before climate change.
  • SophistiCat
    905
    Despite the euphoria surrounding the Paris Climate AccordTim3003

    Euphoria? More like weary skepticism, that was my impression. And at this point there is not much hope for it.

    UN Emissions Gap Report: "The 1.5°C goal is on the brink of becoming impossible"

    It would be tempting to blame pigheaded denial (@Tzeentch) or special interests, but I believe it's more a symptom of the problem than its cause. The problem, in general terms, is that we as a multi-billion civilization just aren't capable of such a collective action. Technologically, averting the worst consequences would probably be within reach if we did what is required of us, but realistically it's not going to happen.
  • javra
    877


    The question is on par to asking: Is the challenge of changing the global status quo of “greed is good” something that is too great for humanity to handle?

    It’s not something that can be easily answered.

    But I reckon that those who still have a whole life ahead of them will address the issue with motivations that differ from those who’ve become jaded by the life they’ve so far lived.

    My answer: Don't know.
  • Tzeentch
    457
    What is it that I am denying, exactly?
  • Tim3003
    163
    ↪SophistiCat
    What is it that I am denying, exactly?
    Tzeentch

    If it's the fact of man-made global warming, please do it elsewhere. For this thread I take it as a given that it is chiefly man's activities and their increased CO2 emissions which have caused the problem.
  • Janus
    8.7k
    My question is: is global warming a challenge too great for humanity to handle? Is the momentum of the growth-based capitalist system too great to slow and turn around? Is the ecocentric view of the world which could galvanise the will to make sacrifices outside our nature?Tim3003

    One problem is that almost everyone wants someone else to do something about it. Very few are prepared to do what is necessary of their own volition because it would involve radically changing their lifestyles and a massive load of inconvenience.

    Another is that the moneyed elites desire only to preserve the status quo, because they see themselves as winning, and are generally too blinded by their own greed to see that they too, like everyone else will be "summoned now to deal with (their) invincible defeat".

    And then, identity politics has crippled the political machine, a machine which has been intrinsically faulty from the start (insofar as it is always really in service to the plutocrats). This is because, no matter what is proposed, some lobby group that is perceived to be of sufficient significance to the outcome of the next election not to be ignored will be aggrieved by what has been proposed, and so no sensible policies are implemented, or if implemented, sustained long enough to have much, or even any, lasting effect.

    People in general just really suck at seeing the big picture and making sensible plans and the necessary sacrifices to try to avert disasters whose unquestionable reality they would rather remain in comfortable denial of.
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    My question is: is global warming a challenge too great for humanity to handle?Tim3003

    It's too great for democratic governments to handle. It might not have been, had consensus been achieved, which was the aim of Al Gore's film Inconvenient Truth. Had the advanced democracies (oh, and China) seized the moment, then it might have been possible to avert catastrophe. But unfortunately, sceptics, naysayers and the fossil fuel industry politicized the issue, split the consensus, and as a consequence paralysis ensued.

    Look at Australia (from where I write). A little more then 10 years ago, there was an emerging consensus on all sides of politics that a carbon pricing mechanism should be introduced. It came within a few votes of passing, but then political reactionaries seized the moment and stole the show. Several years later, a Labor government successfully introduced a carbon tax which started to work exactly as it should have, with emissions tracking down and investment in renewable energy soaring. Again the reactionaries stepped in, won the next election, and to their eternal damnation and disgrace, dismantled this successfully-working law, which was world-leading at the time.

    Now Australia has amongst the highest energy prices in the world and emissions continue to rise. A powerful bloc of reactionary shock jocks mainly employed by Murdoch continue to lead denial hysteria. It's a case study in abject failure.

    So - no. When the magnificent Sydney Opera House becomes unusable in about 6-7 years, due to belng flooded by sea-water, then the political class might begin to see what a hash they've made of it. By which time, of course, it will be too late.

    e5c42ca942c77baab23921b79115178b
  • god must be atheist
    1.1k
    I live in Canada. I like climate change. It's -49 degrees celsius on the shores of the biggest natural lake in Canada in the winter.

    I know I am short-sighted and selfish. But if you think about it long and hard enough, you can't escape the realization that those who want to change climate change are also selfish and short-sighted.

    Survivalists, pleasure seekers, breeders, sentimentalists, the unselfish, the long-range thinkers, and moralitarians are all short-sighted and selfish.

    Ecce homo. Behold the man.
  • Janus
    8.7k
    But unfortunately, sceptics, naysayers and the fossil fuel industry politicized the issue, split the consensus, and as a consequence paralysis ensued.Wayfarer

    I think those are relatively minor contributing factors in the production of the current situation.
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    What do you think are the major contributing factors in the inability to take ameliorative actions, then?
  • javra
    877
    Hey, in adding some content to my previous post, here presenting a counterpoint to the “it’s too late” angle:

    If the global mass disruptions that are now inevitable will in turn result in a global consensus of what should be done – rather than a global, tyrannical, surveillance-infused dystopia the likes of which we have never known – then research dollars will be heavily invested in carbon capture programs, along with more efficient renewable energy, etc. (One current problem is that over five percent of the global GDP is spent subsidizing fossil fuels rather than being invested in renewables.) In this optimistic scenario, although there will be extreme damage done to humanity and to life in general, there will also be a) relatively successful counter measures resulting from b) a global accord regarding (none tongue in cheek) democratic values. But all this is obviously a very big “if”, to say the least – especially since it will need to be global to have any meaningful effect. And this can only come from the people themselves.

    As general rule, though, people don’t like immediate pain and suffering, so when it will hit most of mankind, things will either change for the better or for the worse. But whichever direction the change occurs, it will be significant.

    As with yourself, I’m not here degrading the issue by entertaining thoughts of human caused climate change possibly being a hoax propagated by fake news. Or was it China?
  • Janus
    8.7k
    I think the major factor is the inertia of the system itself. What would seem to be necessary to effect even a stabilization of climate change, let alone any significant reversal (which in any case would, according to my readings on the subject take hundreds of years) the drastic reduction of human population, the abolition of non-organic agriculture, the immediate cessation of most aviation and private use of automobiles and so on.

    In short radical de-growth. But radical de-growth is not going to happen because no one wants it, including you and me. Humans are simply very bad at recognizing limits to growth. The idea that we are in control, that anyone is in control, is a fantasy, a form of denial.



    The problem with carbon capture programs is that they are predicated on "business as usual", or more accurately business intensified; and promoting them is a failure to recognize that climate change is far from being the only ecological (not to mention economic) problem we face.
  • Jim Grossmann
    6
    It's odd that this question would be posted on a Philosophy forum. Whether human beings can stop--or slow--climate change seems to me to be a straightforwardly scientific or empirical question.

    Sociologists and Political scientists may have lots to say about why we humans have done almost nothing in response to the present, unfolding climate crisis.

    Philosophers who specialize in ethics may have lots to say about why all people should take climate change seriously.

    But original question doesn't address that topic: it asks whether stopping climate change is feasible for humans given the current state of our technology. Shouldn't someone pass this question over to a natural sciences/technology forum?
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    'Oh, hi, I've just joined. Now, shut up.'

    Yeah, welcome to you to.
  • Janus
    8.7k
    But original question doesn't address that topic: it asks whether stopping climate change is feasible for humans given the current state of our technology.Jim Grossmann

    It's not just a matter of technology, but is a question of human will, ability to coordinate global action, overcome complacency and general denialism, make sacrifices and so on...
  • Jim Grossmann
    6
    True. But the factors that you mentioned can be addressed in social sciences such as sociology and political science.
  • Jim Grossmann
    6
    I didn't order anyone to shut up. I simply questioned whether this thread is a philosophical one. Nothing in my post encourages you to stay away from the scientific forums that might serve as better homes for a question regarding the feasibility of slowing down, stopping, or reversing climate change. In the future, please refrain from misrepresenting my posts.
  • Janus
    8.7k
    Yes, but these are not "hard" empirical sciences, and so no definitive empirical answer can presently be given to the questions. We can think what will be most likely given past human performance; but then the outlook seems rather bleak.
  • Jim Grossmann
    6
    Dismissing the results in the social sciences because they are not "hard" empirical scientists seems ill-considered to me. The reason that sciences like psychology and sociology are not "hard" sciences is because they address many more variables than the study of sub-atomic particles and fundamental forces. That's why there will probably never be anything like Isaac Asimov's fictitious version of "psychohistory."

    As for social sciences not being "empirical," this simply isn't true. Social scientists gather and use data all the time.

    And since when are empirical findings definitive? Newton, who was arguably the greatest physicist who ever lived, generated a physics that put humans on the Moon, but his findings did not prove to be definitive. Stephen Jay Gould did not admit to any truly definitive scientific conclusions. He wrote "In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.'" To sum this point up, since we can't discount the possibility that new evidence will call an old theory into question, we can't call empirical findings "definitive."
  • Janus
    8.7k
    Dismissing the results in the social sciences because they are not "hard" empirical scientists seems ill-considered to me.Jim Grossmann

    Sure, but I didn't "dismiss" them; I simply put them in their proper place as I understand it.

    The reason that sciences like psychology and sociology are not "hard" sciences is because they address many more variables than the study of sub-atomic particles and fundamental forces.Jim Grossmann

    It's also because they address different kinds of variables: variables which are simply more variable.

    As for social sciences not being "empirical," this simply isn't true. Social scientists gather and use data all the time.Jim Grossmann

    I also did not say that they are not "empirical" I said they are not "hard" empirical sciences and that there are no definitive empirical answers to their questions at present.

    And since when are empirical findings definitive? Newton, who was arguably the greatest physicist who ever lived, generated a physics that put humans on the Moon, but his findings did not prove to be definitive. Stephen Jay Gould did not admit to any truly definitive scientific conclusions. He wrote "In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.'" To sum this point up, since we can't discount the possibility that new evidence will call an old theory into question, we can't call empirical findings "definitive."Jim Grossmann

    It's true that no scientific finding is ever absolutely definitive, and I haven't said they are, but the findings of the hard sciences are more definitive than those of the human sciences for obvious reasons.

    We cannot establish "facts" in the human sciences which can even "mean confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." except when it comes to the most general observations.

    So, what (even relatively) definitive answers do you think the humans sciences can presently offer to the question regarding whether humans will have the "will, ability to coordinate global action, overcome complacency and general denialism, make sacrifices and so on..." to avert catastrophic climate change?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Philosophers will be as overheated as everybody else, so it's in our best interests to think about what can, can not, should, should not, will, will not... be done.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    I think it is beyond kur ability to halt what is coming.

    That doesn't mean it is beyond our ability to survive it. The only question we need to ask ourselves; is where do the rich people and oil tycoons hide the keys to their climate change shelters and can we get Elon Musk to start focussing on setting up something on the moon where we can send most of our children to either prepare for Terraforming mars or restoring earth?
  • Brett
    1.1k


    By which time, of course, it will be too late.Wayfarer

    Too late for what?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    I am sorrowfully leaning toward the view that we are totally screwed. We are screwed because we are descendants and close relatives of primates without god-like abilities. We stumble into our graves.

    Capitalism, generally, is required to grow, expand, enlarge, continue forward IF at all possible. That's not an altogether bad thing (it's not altogether good either). The coal, gas, petroleum, automobile and concrete industries are the most problematic industries, of course, and we are all its customers, one way or another.

    In short radical de-growth. But radical de-growth is not going to happen because no one wants it, including you and me.Janus

    The bitter truth is this: IF we are (or were) to succeed in limiting Global warming to 1.5ºC or 2.0ºC, we affluent people would have to relinquish our lifestyles, lock stock and barrel. We affluent consumers shrinking our consumption and CO2/methane et al by even 10% to 20 % (to pick a figure out of thin air) would be an immediate economic catastrophe which would have cascading consequences. A big drop in consumption would produce widespread unemployment and (probably) increase social instability. Yes, a transition to a low consumption could be made, but we don't have time to do it in a leisurely manner. We need now, and will need in the future, to do it very rapidly - like overnight (practically speaking).

    A hard braking on consumption will be personally and collectively painful, if not fatal for some.

    No leader, no national congress, no political party--nobody--wants to propose a totally demoralizing policy which will have literally painful consequences. Individuals are prone to continue forward

    The economic catastrophe would be shorter and less drastic than global overheating, but it would have to be deliberately engaged.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    I assume you are not being serious, but the idea is floating around out there (certainly in SciFi--which regardless of the science part, is F I C T I O N) that we could live on the moon or Mars. I submit that if we were able to figure out how to enable 100,000 people to live on the moon or Mars (in the relative near future), then it is well within our operational capabilities to sharply reduce CO2/methane output on earth.
  • Brett
    1.1k


    The economic catastrophe would be shorter and less drastic than global overheating, but it would have to be deliberately engaged.Bitter Crank

    I don’t know if you can say that for a fact. It does seem to me that the effects of climate change would be far slower than an economic catastrophe in its effects.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Just what sort of consumption reductions would be necessary?

    We would switch to a vegan diet, or at least a largely vegetarian diet. Meat/fish/crustaceans would rarely appear on the table.

    We would stop traveling farther than we needed to get to work (if we still had a job) and back. We would use our feet, bicycles, or public transit to get there. We would forego leisure travel beyond the distance we could get to on our own two feet or by bike. Forego air and auto travel altogether.

    We would buy no new clothing, shoes, furniture, gadgets, cars, houses, appliances, etc. We would buy food and an occasional replacement item for clothing that was too ragged to use (not just too familiar--too worn out).

    We would live in warmer (in hot zones) or cooler (in cold zones) houses, within the limits of safety.

    ETc.
  • Brett
    1.1k


    That sounds like China.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    Yeah it should be I absolutely agree with you. Only if people collectively act now though. If not we are going to have to figure out how to reduce what is going on from underground, moon, mars, ocean habitats, wherever survival is possible. A lot of what was science fiction 20 years ago is now science reality today. As for the science that is needed to survive, escape or avert; some or all of it needs to stop being science fiction very soon.

    You know we are both on the same team on this. I feel we both agree that the main focus of our priorities has got to be here on earth too. That wont stop Elon Musk from trying what he has the money to try though. Not like I have a direct line to the guy to have this debate with him unfortunately. :/
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