• Metaphysician Undercover
    7.3k
    Nice try at saying everything will be ok after all.Punshhh

    That's not what I was trying to say. I was saying something more along the lines of "for many of us there is no such thing as ok".
  • Punshhh
    2k
    That's not what I was trying to say. I was saying something more along the lines of "for many of us there is no such thing as ok".
    I would think that conditions not to dissimilar to what we have now would be the closest we could come to ok (or are you saying that this is also not ok?). Once large, or rapid global changes start to happen ( I'm not saying they will necessarily), we will, I expect, discover that the climactic conditions we have been used to for the last few thousand years were remarkably stable and settled and that they would rapidly become unstable and extreme, relatively.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.3k
    I would think that conditions not to dissimilar to what we have now would be the closest we could come to ok (or are you saying that this is also not ok?).Punshhh

    The climatic conditions change from day to day, season to season, year to year. What would you mean by "not too dissimilar to what we have now"?

    Once large, or rapid global changes start to happen ( I'm not saying they will necessarily), we will, I expect, discover that the climactic conditions we have been used to for the last few thousand years were remarkably stable and settled and that they would rapidly become unstable and extreme, relatively.Punshhh

    The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago, and there was a "Little Ice Age" in medieval times, so I don't know where you get the idea that the climatic conditions have been "remarkably stable" for the last few thousand years.
  • Anthony
    185
    A lot of talk here covering the physical side of planetary conditions, very little covering that all begins in the nonphysical conditions, the mind (anent human behaviors disrupting planet's attempt to sustain itself and its life). Behaviors don't come out of nowhere, they originate in the nonphysical. Isn't climate change, a problem manifest in the physical, originating in the nonphysical? To what extent is human accelerated climate change caused by ignorance of its nonphysical origins?

    There is an outer ecology, but also an inner ecology of mind. The inner climate has to be in a snarl (if it is we that are indeed accelerating climate change, and don't drop out, or somehow stop contributing at the individual level) before the outer climate is brought to a snarl. One precedes the other. Going along with the status quo, which is destroying the environment and inviting global climate issues, is to conform to a system caused by ignorance of the inner ecology. This is a central concern.

    Where is the self-limiting factor in the human system? People have to deal with economic pressures, paying the bills in the future which never arrives. Is it this kind of collective fantasy, magical thinking, or mental time travel which lies at the heart of the mess? Socio-economic concerns rest on a pseudo-foundation, a pseudo-environment. The climate knows nothing of this figment at the center of every human relationship. Yet consequences take place in the reality common to everything that walks, slithers, flies, oozes or crawls on the surface of the legitimate environment. Collective idealism has superseded individual idealism; collective idealism is a dominating fantasy that on the individual level is healthy, and necessary part of ecology of mind (thinking freely for oneself).

    In a very veridical sense, anyone that claims to be a realist (depending on his lifestyle), is lying to himself. Why? A socially, scientifically, technologically, or economically constructed world is not the world. If the dominant species on a planet puts these fundamentalisms before what actually exists...of course havoc will be unleashed on the environment and you get the tortured earth we see today. Our habits aligned with these fundamentalisms is a patent conduit of planetary destruction...quite unreal. If you smoke, you know its a bad habit and quitting is absolutely necessary for your health. Whatever it is that keeps us from dissociating with what destroys the environment is an unreflecting addiction/habit like smoking.

    When you think freely for yourself, one concept you may come across is one that appears wholly absent to modern society: appropriateness. Another one: necessity. Ie., there's a reason entertainment has become so ecumenical to a modern life...it distracts attention from focusing on what is really necessary, or what you're really doing most the time. But is this much entertainment appropriate? Is being productive or entertaining yourself necessary or appropriate if it's during the eschaton? There may come a time when every action to save the planet harms it. In this case, it is appropriate to stop being productive, to stop taking action (which goes against social conditioning: we are taught to achieve, to make an impact, to behave... not to be metacognitive). I've had the long standing belief our species was meant to veg way more than it does; after all, what makes us different as a species is metacognition, the sort of awareness which doesn't involve extensive outward travel or concern beyond a certain point. Humans, in a way, have developed a psychological illness, a mass-hysteria that is a variant of Tourette tics. You have to move for the sake of movement, you just can't help it. But how much movement is appropriate, necessary? How do you know this?
  • Relativist
    1.5k
    Let's face it, anthropogenic global warming is an inconvenient truth. It is so inconvenient that many people seek, and find, reasons to deny it.

    For those who accept it, this long-term global concern will usually take a back seat to everyday concerns like paying the bills or buying the latest iphone. And of course, each individual can rationally assert that their own little contribution to the problem is miniscule. Humans are not good at collective action that costs them individually. We rationalize and discuss what "they" ought to do.

    What do I do personally? I'm big on energy efficiency - I drive a plug-in Prius hybrid, have smart thermostats, and led lights throughout the house. Ho hum , I know. I support political change; I'd welcome a carbon tax, and tax supports for wind, solar, geothermal, etc. And tax breaks for doing the right thing. In short we need government action to rig the system to make doing the "right" thing of individual benefit.

    Is it hopeless? I agree we probably can't prevent some serious problems, but I don't think there's an upper bound on how bad it can get - so it's still worthwhile to push for as much positive action as possible.
  • Punshhh
    2k
    The climatic conditions change from day to day, season to season, year to year. What would you mean by "not too dissimilar to what we have now"?
    I was referring to general world climate as we have had for the last few hundred years. Anyway I was asking in the same paragraph what you meant by "for many of us there is no such thing as ok"?

    The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago, and there was a "Little Ice Age" in medieval times, so I don't know where you get the idea that the climatic conditions have been "remarkably stable" for the last few thousand years.
    You missed the word "relatively" ( at the end of my sentence) I think. My point was that the climate can become far more unstable and severe than what we experience now. I did say that I think, I don't think you have accepted it. Even the mini ice age was small beer.

    Also, are you saying that we have not passed the tipping point and could still have another ice age soon?
  • Lif3r
    344
    Well I'm not going out a punk. I'm young and Imgoing to die saying that I did everything I could to help. Even if there is a sliver of a chance for humans to come out on the other side of the fence alive I intend to extend my reach in all ways possible for the sanctity of the existence of the human species.

    Because I love being alive. It's fuckin glorious. I wish to share it forward.
  • Lif3r
    344
    How and when do we demand complete overhaul of entire corporations and infrastructures such as oil production, plastic production, and other unnecessary wasteful pollutants? At what point do we restructure our lives to put these corporations out of business and reduce the market and the lifestyles that inhibit progress? Never? Are we too stupid to do it as a collective? Is it going to take more hurricanes and fires and ocean rise for people to even begin to acknowledge this concern?

    People aren't convinced and aren't educated to the data, and furthermore many who might be simply do not care. People mistrust decades of research because humans are shady and greedy bastards. And as a result well... here we are.


    I really hope it's just a big bunch of bullshit. I hope anyone who thinks it is gets to rub it right in my face in 40 years. But the risk vs reward is askew against your favor because you are essentially asking me to risk now what could be very terrible danger on the horizon for the sake of being correct about whether or not it is a risk. Taking the risk for the sake of being correct is far more foolish than planning for the risk in the event that it happens at all. Whether it does or not is irrelevant to the fact that many are saying that it can and will. Such the same as one would wear safety goggles in woodshop to protect the eyes. The risk of losing your vision is not worth the reward of looking cooler without safety goggles.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.8k
    How and when do we demand complete overhaul of entire corporations and infrastructures such as oil production, plastic production, and other unnecessary wasteful pollutants?Lif3r

    How: Through the overthrow of the existing economic structure by revolution, not necessarily violent, but certainly uncomfortable for those who own the means of production. There are people who have described methods that would, most likely work were they implemented (People like DeLeon, Miller, various socialists). They involve intensive and extensive labor and political organizing toward the revolutionary ends of dispossessing the dispossessors (aka the uber rich, 1/10 of 1% to 1 or 2% of the population).

    When? As soon as possible, or yesterday, which ever comes first.

    Revolutionary change is in order because fossil fuels are the basis of the world economy and have been for over a century (for coal, maybe 150-200 years).

    Beware, however: Abandoning fossil fuels will NOT be easy. There is no substitute for oil, in terms of molecules that are energy-rich and the basis of a vast amount of chemistry that composes the feedstock of many types of production. The world economy is organized dependence on fossil fuels.

    Chances of success: slightly better than a snowball in hell.

    People aren't convinced and aren't educated to the data, and furthermore many who might be simply do not care. People mistrust decades of research because humans are shady and greedy bastards. And as a result well... here we are.Lif3r

    All that may be true, especially we all being shady greedy bastards. But remember, whether we continued using oil and coal was never something about which 99% of the people ever had a choice. Property rights trump good sense, every time. Those who own oil wells and coal mines have decided that coal and oil will continue to be used until it is gone.
  • Janus
    9.2k
    However, you do know, since much has been said of it, that a theory to count as scientific there must be a way to disprove it.TheMadFool

    Scientific theories cannot be "disproven" or proven. According to Popper's (still controversial) idea scientific theories can be falsified when the predictions they make fail to be observed. The idea of human influenced global warming predicts rising global temperatures, rising sea levels and increasing and increasingly intense weather events, all of which have been observed.
  • boethius
    761
    There are 4 reasons why I think we will fail to avoid the worst consequences of global warming:Bitter Crank

    This isn't a well formulated point. There can always be "worse".

    That being said, we have already dealt severe damage to the ecosystems in terms of biodiversity loss (not only in number of species but genetic diversity within those species), mostly through other means that, along with climate change, will do even more damage going forward, much we cannot avoid in any scenario.

    However, as bad as the already passed and yet-to-be biodiversity loss is, things can get even worse.

    The climate change battle is now to prevent a "hot house" climate regime where there is no ice at all in the North Poll and rapidly deteriorating glaciers, first in Greenland followed by parts of Antarctica.

    There are two stable climate epochs in the current configuration of continents. The one we currently live in is the "Ice box" where there is permafrost, glaciers in the north and a north poll ice cap on the sea. In this regime continental glaciation oscillates wildly in response to volcanic activity and incremental changes in the earths orbit and tilt.

    Because of the long term efficiency of weathering to remove carbon dioxide from the carbon cycle, leaving only what is in earth and plants and living creatures, and volcanic additions (which are small) the long term stable state is this Ice Box configuration.

    However, it is only a meta-stable state due to earth being a closed system without other sources of carbon to get into the atmosphere in the past hundred millions of years.

    With a new source of pumping carbon from underground by humans, the earth can be pushed into a Hot Box epoch.

    The consequences of entering the Hot Box climate regime are so severe that it's arguable no humans at all would survive. Bunkers may not be maintainable long term on an earth without one or several of the following elements: edible biomass in nature, breathable atmosphere and relatively calm weather as we are used to now. Weather is, in my opinion, what people forget to imagine in our future bunker dwellers. Even the best setup bunker (that avoided destruction from vengeful pirates / militaries during the transition) will require some interactions with the outside world, in turn requiring some sort of exterior infrastructures to make that interaction efficient enough to run the bunker. Severe storms and hurricanes are going to create crisis points untop of every other problem (which are many). Maybe it is solvable ... maybe not. What is for certain is that bunker dwelling near the polls will be the only option in a Hot Box world and very few will be invited to join.

    This scenario is now essentially the path we are currently on, but is still avoidable with difficult, but feasible, large scale action.

    There's also uncertainty around the Hot Box point of no return; we may have more time than we think, which is a possibility that, again, warrants taking what action we can.

    F2.large.jpg

    Edit: found the image I was looking for that shows the above (credit: Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene; Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, ProfileKatherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, Carl Folke, Diana Liverman, Colin P. Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Sarah E. Cornell, ProfileMichel Crucifix, Jonathan F. Donges, Ingo Fetzer, Steven J. Lade, Marten Scheffer, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber; https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252).

    How: Through the overthrow of the existing economic structure by revolution, not necessarily violent, but certainly uncomfortable for those who own the means of production.Bitter Crank

    I agree with most of your analysis of why we have had very little action so far and the difficulty of the task.

    But I disagree that political revolution is necessary.

    Real political change is a generational affair and takes time, time we don't have. Whatever we are going to do will be through the political institutions we have at the moment. Action has been very light so far, but our institutions are not inconceivably far from doing something effective. For instance, the EU (now that the UK is leaving) is currently discussing a "carbon tariff", which is something the EU is institutionally setup to be able to do and would be actually an effective step to start and then gradually increase. The EU is a large enough economic block to impose a carbon tariff.

    One must keep in mind that although the general population was not able to be convinced of the case for action compared with the climate denial PR industry highly attractive offer of being an edgy contrarion, this phase of intellectual failure was in the absence real world consequences. There is a small window where real world consequences may tip the balance of public opinion but are not yet too severe to breakdown or overload the institutions that are able to act. This window may or may not be before or after the point of no return towards a Hot Box climate. Previous failure does not guarantee continued failure: both learning and changes in key factors are a basis for continued attempts.

    I am also working on a project developing a renewable energy technology that has no resource, financial or skills bottlenecks to scaling. Although most renewable energy technology has some scaling problem rendering it largely irrelevant to our problem, it is an erroneous inference that therefore all renewable energy technology has a scaling problem. For instance, smart phones rapidly scaled in a incredibly short period of time. Renewable energy is different from smart phones, but the example does demonstrate that it is possible for a technology to "super scale" globally; the ven diagram of "renewable technologies" and "globally scalable technologies in a short enough time to affect climate change significantly while not requiring a too large carbon investment to make" may overlap, if only ever so slightly; it is worth investigating whatever points may exist within the overlap in any case. That the vast majority of firms, scientists, and thinkers and engineers swim around in the part that doesn't overlap because it is spacious and easy to make new discoveries (the bureaucrats and kickstarter supporters having no reasonable criteria about anything generally speaking) and so peddle counter-productive hype, is not evidence that there is no reasonable criteria that can be found and focused on.

    Pressuring institutions to do more and developing magic bullet technologies (to either amplify the affect of policy or make large scale disruptions to the fossil industry) are, in my opinion, the only effective actions available. Both are a roll of the dice. We will see where they land in the next couple of decades.

    I very much hope political revolutions will bring democracy to China and Saudi Arabia and other tyrannies. I very much hope political revolution will bring proportional democracy to the US and UK. However, these things happening are not a pre-requisite for large scale effective action. The functioning democracies that we do have, despite exterior opposition, can have large scale consequence if bold action is taken. Functioning democracies do not seem bold because they lack totalitarian madmen to write headlines about, but this apparent teptitude is an illusion; once sufficient consensus is reached, action can be extremely swift and efficient due to lacking a "house divided against itself".
  • Punshhh
    2k

    There is evidence that capital has seen the light. Mark Carney the out going head of the Bank of England, soon to become the UN special envoy for climate change, spoke on the BBC a few days ago. That, in no uncertain terms, that investments and infrastructure developed for the exploitation of fossil fuels will become worthless in a few years and that capital should look to invest in investments and infrastructure designed to replace them with renewable sources of energy and the emerging green economy (my wording, but this is the jist of what he was saying).

    I presume the planet experienced a hot house state before, which was liveable . Presumably it is the rapid transition to this state which you are suggesting is unliveable? In which case I agree, however I do expect a small colony of humanity to survive and rebuild. Whether they manage to take any knowledge with them, is the worry. Otherwise we may go back to square one again, and start all over again, as we have done before.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    Whether they manage to take any knowledge with them, is the worry. Otherwise we may go back to square one again, and start all over again, as we have done before.Punshhh

    So, from modern man right back to Homo Sapiens Sapiens, barely able to retain the knowledge to make tools.

    There is no possible way of renewables replacing fossil fuels in a few years, which is the only way fossil fuels will become worthless. Do you really imagine that in a few years China and India will change to renewables?
  • Punshhh
    2k

    Essentially yes, given the hot house scenario described by Boethius. It might be more like a late Bronze Age, or a medieval level of technology, depending primarily on the extent population. This really is an interesting subject, there has been a lot of thought given to it including interesting films dramas etc. Exploring the extent to which a civilisation would fall given a catastrophe. Perhaps that's for another thread.

    But as a starter, let's say that the population were less than 1% the current levels (I was suggesting only a few thousand). Let's pretend there aren't ravaging bandits everywhere, but it is quite peaceful in terms of human conflict. Do you think we would be able to maintain an electrical supply and run electrical appliances, vehicles, with gazolene? How easy, or not, would it be to feed the population, what about healthcare?

    Now take your answers and think how things would be after say 500 years, 20 generations. I suggest that the answer to these questions depends almost entirely on the numbers in the population.

    On the point regarding capital moving from fossil fuels to renewables. I was only conveying what Mark Carney said the other day. I would suggest he knows what he's talking about. Don't shoot the messenger.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    I would suggest he knows what he's talking about.Punshhh

    He’s a banker.
  • ssu
    3k
    Beware, however: Abandoning fossil fuels will NOT be easy. There is no substitute for oil, in terms of molecules that are energy-rich and the basis of a vast amount of chemistry that composes the feedstock of many types of production. The world economy is organized dependence on fossil fuels.Bitter Crank
    The problem is transportation. You can have electric cars, but aviation represents a problem.

  • boethius
    761
    There is evidence that capital has seen the light. Mark Carney the out going head of the Bank of England, soon to become the UN special envoy for climate change, spoke on the BBC a few days ago. That, in no uncertain terms, that investments and infrastructure developed for the exploitation of fossil fuels will become worthless in a few years and that capital should look to invest in investments and infrastructure designed to replace them with renewable sources of energy and the emerging green economy (my wording, but this is the jist of what he was saying).Punshhh

    Yes, this sort of thing is essentially what I mean by depending on our present institutions. In this case, (some) representatives of capital are starting to make some preemptively actions anticipating better policies (which then put additional pressure on policy makers, forming a virtuous cycle). However, if you wish to say here that this is evidence of the "market mechanism" working in and of itself, then I disagree; I would argue it is partly the market mechanism responding to regulation changes and partly the moral concern of the individuals themselves.

    For me it is not a question of whether there will be an attempt by our institutions to reasonably respond at some point, the question is whether that point is soon enough, which is a segue into your second point:

    I presume the planet experienced a hot house state before, which was liveable . Presumably it is the rapid transition to this state which you are suggesting is unliveable? In which case I agree, however I do expect a small colony of humanity to survive and rebuild. Whether they manage to take any knowledge with them, is the worry. Otherwise we may go back to square one again, and start all over again, as we have done before.Punshhh

    Yes, there was plenty of life in all the previous hot house climate regimes, it is the speed of the transition from one to the next that generally triggers mass extinction of the ecosystems that had evolved under the previous regime. Currently, the extinction rate is estimated to be around 1000 times the historical background norm, and biodiversity within species maybe an even higher rate of loss. It is not the destination but the journey, as with so many things in life.

    I agree colony bunker living is conceivable and has some non negligent probability associated with it even with the most extreme climate outcomes. However, non negligent probability in a complex system that something will happen entails also a non negligent probability that it won't happen. The climate transition to a hot house maybe "really bad" but does not crash oxygen levels to unlivable nor a cyanide ocean event ... but, maybe it will; there's also black swan events that may befall our future bunker dwellers such as an ice sheet slipping into the ocean and causing a tsunami which washes away the things on the surface (either infrastructure or biological resources) needed for long term survival, not to mention just "normal" tsunamis and volcanoes and so on that may befall any colony (with glacial rebound causing more of this sort of thing).

    A human colony without a breathable atmosphere I think faces sever challenges, and non-breathable atmosphere is entirely possible without the amazon or other forests and deadzones the size of entire oceans.

    Avoiding the hot house climate regime not only avoids the above problems of would be bunker dwellers, but also allows hundreds of millions of other people and other species to survive as well: their cultures and heritage in the flesh, not just a few books (which will be the only things that remain long term once the colony clean room becomes too contaminated to produce silicon and the micro films were lost in a fire).
  • Punshhh
    2k
    He's a banker
    Touché
  • TheArchitectOfTheGods
    41
    “In a world that has succeeded in the globalization of financial assets while keeping political rights enclosed to territories, we need to build new models of democratic governance that enable humanity to collaborate and address pressing global issues. Democracy Earth Foundation is building free, open source software for incorruptible decision making within institutions of all sizes, from the most local involving two people to the most global involving all of us.” - https://democracy.earth/

    Realistically, it is not even possible to buy food without buying garbage as well, plastic packaging that needs to be burned. Enter any supermarket, and think of all the packaging which already now you know will become waste that needs to be burned. On a daily basis. So it is part of our CO2 production, like breathing. Arguably it makes the earth greener, but also warmer. I dont see how the packaging problem would be solved by fusion power either. Maybe bio-degradable plastics is one of the other most important projects apart from nuclear fusion development. So far plastics are the best packaging materials.
  • Punshhh
    2k

    Yes, investors are just dipping their toes in so far. Some corporations have gone further. But there is a worry amongst start up companies that government incentives and regulations change like the wind, which has certainly happened in the UK, with political developments.
    I certainly sense a head of steam developing, but even with that many of the technologies are not tried and tested, or roll out has not been ironed out. People won't want to change their lifestyles much on mass, unless forced and politicians are notoriously averse to unpopular actions, it can bring down their political career overnight. So reticence is going to be a big stumbling block and will surely result in a few years of dither and delay, even when it all becomes a no brainer.

    I hadn't really been considering an unliveable hot house scenario, can you give any idea of how likely that would be, or what tipping point would precipitate it?

    I think we should factor in the rapid greening up of an area in which humanity were extinguished, provided plant life can survive. For example, if we imagined humanity disappeared overnight, most of the landmass of the globe would be reforrested in around 50-100 years. Provided that plant life could survive. There are plans around to plant billions of trees, but how do we know what to plant and where. Also I expect that there will be continuing swings in climate conditions from place to place making human efforts to farm a great struggle, resulting in more famine etc.

    Regarding Tsunami, I hadn't thought of glaciers causing them, but rather landslides and seismic activity due to changing sea levels, glacial rebound and changes in climactic conditions, like increases in rainfall. The example drawn to mind is the unstable ridge along the Island of La Palma, which could go, causing a mega tsunami affecting the eastern sea board of the Americas and to a lesser extent Europe and Africa. Also, there could be numerous other examples which haven't been identified as yet, probably below sea level.
  • Punshhh
    2k
    I think plastics can be stored in landfill and processed later, although it is an important issue, it is not contributing a lot directly to climate change and alternatives could turn out to be more damaging in terms of emissions.

    I agree that governance is going to be key, as things starts to get worse and government becomes less stable, many countries could fall into chaos as constitutions fail, resulting in no coordinated infrastructure change and civil unreast leading to mass starvation etc.
  • iolo
    227
    I agree that governance is going to be key, as things starts to get worse and government becomes less stable, many countries could fall into chaos as constitutions fail, resulting in no coordinated infrastructure change and civil unreast leading to mass starvation etc.Punshhh

    The difficulty seems to be that governments are dominated by capitalists, and capitalism demands short-term profits NOW, at what ever cost. Since the older generation has been taught very firmly that we won't be allowed to change capitalism, most people with experience don't give themselves the mental pain of looking it the implications of the truth.
  • boethius
    761
    So reticence is going to be a big stumbling block and will surely result in a few years of dither and delay, even when it all becomes a no brainer.Punshhh

    Yes, I completely agree with your thoughts here. And if things just continued like they are now (in terms of our social conditions), then I think sufficient people would never be convinced to do something about the environment for environmental conditions to change (i.e. if we could just keep playing video games and every other species vanished, I think most people -- as in, the people that matter in Western countries who directly or indirectly dictate global policy through voting or plutocracy -- would find that pretty ok).

    Evidence point 1, people who watched "Ready Player One" made by one of our most brilliant and treasured film maker, didn't, I would wager, mostly experience the movie as "this is a dystopian hellscape with a lot bigger problems than who controls a computer game; how is anyone even able to eat, much less stay toned, in this scenario?"; rather, I think most Western people (again, the ones that matter when it comes to setting global policy) experienced the film as "you son of a bitch, I'm in", complying to the social programming goal of promoting the fledgling VR industry that the film set out to achieve.

    Though this is just some fun trivia, the much stronger evidence is that we haven't done much about species extinction so far, and it's been part of the public discussion since the commercially driven extinction of the dodos and carrier pigeons.

    However, of course the environment cannot continue to degrade while our social conditions remain the same. For instance, last year in California I discussed with some libertarians who experienced needing to evacuate due to fires in their area; the decrease of their property value had caused them to reconsider some things. Likewise, the current fires in Australia are affecting the public debate there.

    Although it's extremely painful to recognize we did not do much to live in balance with the environment because we value other life, this does not exclude, faced with a existential threat to our species and property value, acting to find a balance required for our own survival.

    As an environmentalist I'm willing to help humanity save it's own skin, for the sake of future generations who I have no cause to be disappointed with as well as for the sake of other life that also gets to live in such a scenario. The motivations are less than honorable, but the purposes overlap with mine now that we are faced with the consequences. And, yes, although life would continue even if we don't succeed, I don't go around burning down museums simply because people can paint new pieces, nor disregard suffering caused directly or indirectly by my actions because bacteria will still be around in even the most extreme outcomes of our collective suffering project.

    I hadn't really been considering an unliveable hot house scenario, can you give any idea of how likely that would be, or what tipping point would precipitate it?Punshhh

    For lot's of interesting mathematical reasons about complex systems, it's not very meaningful to try to calculate a precise probability.

    To make a long story short, complex systems with pseudo stable states (such as a balanced ecosystem), respond in non-linear ways when pushed outside the boundaries of the pseudo-stability. The variables that indicate these non-linear processes may not be practically observable.

    A good example of a complex system is the human being. Someone with a job and a dwelling and some friends we can consider is in a balanced pseudo-stable state; this human being, and society they are in, is very complex, yet life is fairly predictable. Now, apply a forcing (some change in conditions), even gradually, and things will move towards instability. If this human being is unable to eat and gets hungry we can predict will do things to return to the pseudo-stability of a banal existence, but if things go further then we can predict that, at some point, thing get unpredictable but we would have trouble predicting exactly when this change happens and we'd have even more trouble predicting the actions that follow that change. Another example, let's say a new boss makes life gradually and relentlessly intolerable, whether due to malice or incompetence; as stress increases in this scenario, we can predict that the pseudo-stable state may end, but we are unable to track the variables that actually indicate a radical change; in this case, we are unable to know much about the internal life of our disgruntled worker. If they "snap", whether that means a angry outburst being fired or some violent altercation or even a positive direction of just quitting and going and living on a beach or something, that non-linear change cannot be predicted with much accuracy even with careful observation; at some point there's the the proverbial last straw, and it may seem obvious in hindsight or totally surprising. You can replay this work-conditions scenario with a toxic relationship for similar insights.

    I've seen last straw situations that I truly didn't get, likewise I've seen many that seemed to progress like clockwork.

    The point of these examples it that once stresses exceed buffers, it's difficult to know what will happen or exactly when. What we can know is that it's best to avoid allowing stresses to exceed buffers in the first place: it's best to not get so hungry that one is forced into a life of crime or cannibalism one's fellow cast-anyways; it's best to smoothly transition to a new working conditions rather than let conditions become intolerable; it's best not to drive on the wrong side of the road to see what happens.

    The better approach is to first ask "what risk is acceptable" and then understand the factors that increase that risk or not. For instance, species extinction (and biodiversity loss within remaining species) makes ecosystems more vulnerable, increasing the likelihood of an ecological collapse; however, it's not feasible to know exactly how much biodiversity loss earth systems can sustain. Maybe we still have a fairly large biodiversity budget ... maybe it's razor thin ... maybe we've already passed the threshold.

    Why we can be confident there is a threshold? The best evidence is not the math, but that mass extinctions have happened in the past. Again, we cannot know if conditions were much worse precipitating those mass extinctions, but, likewise, we cannot know if conditions were much better either. What we can know is that increasing stress on earth systems will lead to bifurcation.

    Complex systems build up complexity gradually but radically simplify when conditions exceed limits: it takes much longer to build a house than to burn it down. So we can also be confident that a mass extinction event won't be suddenly replaced with even more complex and vibrant life systems.

    As we let stresses continue on earth ecological systems, there is non-linear feedback mechanisms with society. Maybe if we get all the ecological experts and top mathematicians in the room to debate this, we'd be convinced that even worst case global warming conditions "won't be so bad", on the scale of earth being livable or not and so we wouldn't be faced with a bunker scenario. We might be pretty happy about that. However, this wouldn't matter if deteriorating conditions towards such a simpler time and ecosystem that's, thank our lucky starts, is at least still liveable on the surface, triggers a strategic nuclear exchange.

    Once there is global crop failure, all bets are off as to what happens next.
  • TheArchitectOfTheGods
    41
    The difficulty seems to be that governments are dominated by capitalistsiolo

    I see the problem is rather that environment is global, whereas governments are local. Which brings us back to Kant and the idea of world governance (hence the first part of my earlier post). Only some form of global regulation could effectively internalize the external effects generated by our modern lifestyle (speaking in economics terms). Because if one country can bail out (e.g. out of climate accords), then the prisoners dilemma will always kick in and prevent the best possible outcome.

    Even less capitalist governments (like Denmark where I live) produce plenty more emissions and plastic packaging waste than lets say a similar sized developing country, because consumption per capita is much higher.
  • TheArchitectOfTheGods
    41
    I think plastics can be stored in landfill and processed later,Punshhh
    Is the euphemism 'processed' for 'burned' intentional? :) Because eventually all non-reusable and non-recyclable waste (such as small and soft plastics) will need to be burned since they cannot be reabsorbed by the ecosystem in any other form. Here in Denmark this residual waste is therefore also labelled as 'burnable' waste'. So that everyone is clear when they enter a supermarket, all the nice packaging they get is actually (carbon-based) fuel which will cause emissions at some later point. Which apparently didn't stop the trend that now if i want to buy 5 slices of cheese or 5 slices of ham, i get them in plastic packaging, which was not the case at the grocers 40 years ago. On another thought, I also think that landfills for 11 bn people x 150+ years will get really crowded at some point, whereas burning has the economic benefit of generating heat or electricity (of course with emissions).
  • Punshhh
    2k
    The difficulty seems to be that governments are dominated by capitalists, and capitalism demands short-term profits NOW, at what ever cost.
    I agree, this why it is important that we in the UK root out the endemic anti socialist ideology in the media and the people who take it as read that socialism is a disaster.
  • Punshhh
    2k
    I agree, I was pointing out that plastic is a stable form of carbon and so can be laid down in seams like seams of coal and burnt, or whatever, at a later date when the technology is more advanced and carbon emissions have been stabilised at a sustainable level. I agree that packaging is a problem, but it is imperative that we focus on large scale reduction of Greenhouse gass emissions as a priority, why spend money building incinerators to burn plastics with the issues of scrubbing the harmful chemicals out of its emissions and continue to emit carbon, when you can continue to bury the plastic as before and spend the money on renewable energy production, as a replacement for that carbon emission.
  • Lif3r
    344
    Look up NASA'S depictions of soil conditions in America overtime. The darker regions indicate drier soil. By 2094 most of the soil in America will be incredibly dry. As the soil dries and the rain fails to show up, the water goes away and the crops stop growing. When the crops stop growing people migrate.

    I really hope this is all a big lie and science is wrong. If it is I will be happy. In my opinion we should heed the warning regardless. What if it all turns out to be true and we did nothing? We shouldn't take the risk. The smart move is to fix the environment before it potentially becomes unfixable. It is better to take the precaution than to take the risk of killing billions of humans and even more plants and animals.

    But regardless.. reducing overconsumption is the only way to plateau the increasingly uneven wage gap and to ensure that companies properly mitigate resources rather than making huge stockpiles of things we dont need, advertising to our psychology as to why we need them, and selling them to us for more than they are worth.

    We are addicted to stuff and in my opinion it not only ruins the ecosystem, but it is also just a misuse of resources that could turn out to be much more valuable in the future, and it destabilizes the economy because the resources are finite and the current consumption is unsustainable and inefficient.
  • Lif3r
    344
    People like to say "well it will happen regardless of our involvement" but they always say this on the pretenses of conspiracy or inconclusive data. If it's inconclusive data the smart move is to not take the risk!

    I mean that is common sense across the board!
    Dont make a bet you cant guarantee you will win, especially when the bet is all of life as we know it!

    It's really fine either way. Whether we are causing it or not shouldn't we still take precautions as if we are causing it in the event that it could potentially mitigate the scenario rather than doing absolutely nothing? I mean I am sure you follow the risk vs reward line of thinking that I propose right? Does it make sense or not?
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