• Shawn
    10.7k
    So, I just read this article here and have had a discussion with a friend who's pretty conservative.

    Maybe I'm missing something; but, what are your thoughts about climate change? Please skim the article, thanks.
  • Hanover
    5.6k
    I think the other part never mentioned is the damage to the economy brought about by increased regulation in an effort to save the environment. That is, I think it's perfectly acceptable to do a cost/ benefit analysis to determine how many people will suffer in exchange for the loss of X number of polar bears, for example.

    Hidden in this dispute is the right's bias toward promoting humans above all else. I, for example, see value in a pristine forest, but only to the extent humans benefit from it. If, however, I were to find that pristine forest as having inherent value worth protecting regardless of human benefit, then I'd be inclined to ignore your article and do whatever were necessary to save it. That's where a dispute lies.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Yes. And in any event, it's very naive to think government will be the solution to its negative effects.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Well, there are benefits of climate change. The Earth has greened by 14% in the last 30 yrs and it now requires less land, less water and less fertilizer to grow an increasing amount of food. Global greening is an effect of increased CO2.

    Also, because it is generally seen as unhelpful to the GW narrative, the findings of the main climate/economic models are not discussed in the media. Basically, they show that up to ~2C warming is beneficial.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    Here's another article going into detail about the scientific ramifications of climate change, up to 2.2 C as previously mentioned.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/10/carry-on-warming/
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    I'm unsure about global warming, but I think that we have bigger environmental problems than merely global warming.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    The only issue that bugs me is the flat out denial by the right to claim there is no human effect on climate change. If they got their act together and didn't seem like people who believe the earth is still flat, and acknowledged climate chance, while outlining the potential benefits that, that might entail, then they would have unrivaled support from independents and other undecided groups. But, I guess you always get 'total opposition' when you just have two parties fighting against each other.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    Agreed. Let the invisible hand operate freely. If the liberals will feel safe on Mars, then let them have cake.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Let the invisible hand operate freely.Question
    >:O But what if the operation of this invisible hand doesn't land us in the Pareto Optimality point?

    If the liberals will feel safe on Mars, then so be it.Question
    And by the way I'm a conservative, not a liberal :P
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    I think the risk, is that a small increase in temperature will lead to greater longer term effects on rising temperatures. Meaning, if you pass some threshold of temperature, then you get methane release from Siberia and other places... Don't quote me on that, but my point is that when we get to ~2C increase in global temperatures, then it will be hard to stop even further increases. Kind of a runaway cascade of events.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    There will be a new equilibrium and the Production Possibilities Curve will shift to the right, I guess. Heh.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    There will be a new equilibrium and the Production Possibilities Curve will shift to the right, I guess. Heh.Question
    >:O I see you've learned your economics well!

    No but what I meant is how do you know that the invisible hand of the markets selects the best outcome? What if, instead of a race to the top, it is a race to the bottom?
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    No but what I meant is how do you know that the invisible hand of the markets selects the best outcome? What if, instead of a race to the top, it is a race to the bottom?Agustino
    Efficiency. Ie. a process that can be made more efficient (via technology). Then, via competition the technology gets implemented in day to day living, thus leading to greater productivity and that leads to a boon for everyone in terms of lower costs and expenditures.

    If you've noticed the lower the profits for implementing such gains in efficiency the better it is for everyone (entry to the market, competition, inflation).
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    I'm interested to hear from those that claim that governments cannot provide measures that address the problem, as to whether that's because (a) they think nobody can solve the problem or that (b) it can be solved but governments have no role to play in that.

    If (a), I fear you may be right, but I think it's worth giving it our best shot anyway, given how dire the consequences of continuation of business as usual seem likely to be.

    If (b) then I'd love to hear how you believe that externalities can be internalised without compulsion from government (or quasi-governmental organisations like the UN or WTO).
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Efficiency. Ie. a process that can be made more efficient (via technology). Then, via competition the technology gets implemented in day to day living, thus leading to greater productivity.Question
    No that's not at all the case. At least not necessarily so. As game theory illustrates, competition often results in the worst outcome for all parties involved - for example see Prisoner's Dillema. Consider a scenario from the natural world as well - the trees that grow taller steal the light of smaller trees and therefore survive more. Thus they beat out the smaller trees. And yet, they are the least efficient trees, because they have small trunks, and have to carry the water all through their very tall body against gravity. The small bushes are more efficient at doing the job, and yet they get wiped out! Instead it's the tallest, and objectively weakest trees that will win the race.

    Say also we're competing to win over a girl. It's not the one who is most fit for survival between us two who will win. It's the one who fits with whatever preferences she has. Her preferences dictate the rules of the game, and her preferences don't have to be in line with the optimal outcome. Competition may just as easily be a race to the bottom as it is a race to the top.

    Think of John D. Rockefeller. He hated competition. He was the richest businessman ever. Think of Peter Thiel - read his book from Zero To One (it's quite philosophical). He hates competition too! Competition is a race to the bottom - it's a way to destroy yourself. Don't compete. Never compete. Run away from competing.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    it can be solved but governments have no role to play in that.andrewk

    I'm not sure; but, I think the Prisoners Dilemma would be apt as a reference here.

    Furthermore, it seems that most countries have bought into the neo-liberal doctrine that free markets can solve any problem (even those which have been created by the same free markets), and that intervention in terms of laws or regulations are detrimental to the existence of free markets, which have brought so much prosperity. What's more, there is a very strong opposition from the right to not pass any such regulation and taxes for carbon emissions, which you can see with Brexit and the oncoming Trump era.

    I might have oversimplified the issue; but, I suppose you get the point.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    Think of John D. Rockefeller. He hated competition. He was the richest businessman ever. Think of Peter Thiel - read his book from Zero To One (it's quite philosophical). He hates competition too! Competition is a race to the bottom - it's a way to destroy yourself. Don't compete. Never compete. Run away from competing.Agustino

    Yeah, but without competition, you have no progress. Not everyone can have a product that initially doesn't have any sort of competition even though that's the shortest way to becoming rich. I mean, it's hard to do that nowadays, at all.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Yeah, but without competition, you have no progress. Not everyone can have a product that initially doesn't have any sort of competition. I mean, it's hard to do that nowadays, at all.Question
    Progress doesn't come from competition. Innovation is never the result of competition. Think of your own innovations. It's always finding a niche, doing something differently, being creative, thinking outside the box.

    You should really read Thiel's book - he argues monopoly is the most efficient operation of markets (and I tend to agree to a large extent, in the sense that the absence of competition is to be desired). If I have a small restaurant, and my grandmother works in the kitchen, my mother serves the food, I cook it etc. all so that we can pay the bills - what chance do we have to be innovative? Anything we do will be copied + We're too stuck in the rat race, bothered by survival. You can't be innovative when you don't have the resources you need to be innovative with. And competition destroys profits - it makes us work harder for, ultimately, nothing. But if I'm in some niche, where I have almost no competition, then I make good profits, in an easy way. Because I make money easily, I have a lot of spare time and resources to be innovative - to truly do important things. Musk is innovative because he can afford it!

    I will tell you a story...

    A big fish does not bother to come live in a small pond. Why? It's too small for him, he can't waste his time. However, in the bigger pond in which he makes his home, lots of small fish come - because the pond is large and appealing! And the big fish rejoices and swallows them all - he is King of the Pond. But the intelligent small fish on the other hand, sees that he's too small for the big lake and the dangers are too great. Thus he chooses the biggest pond in which he's the biggest fish. Then he grows, conquers his pond, eats the other fish and becomes bigger. Then he moves to the next biggest pond, where again he is the biggest fish. He proceeds in the same manner. One day, he looks at the big pond, where the first big fish is, and he realises that he is now bigger than that fish. Therefore he moves to that pond, and eats the King of the Pond, who complacently sat on a lake waiting for small fish, instead of looking for fish closer to his size! >:O ;)

    Did you like the story?! :D
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    I suppose you get the point.Question
    I'm not sure I do. Are you just suggesting that we're doomed, because the US right will probably manage to block any effective action from the US? If so, I suspect that you're correct about the US, but that doesn't necessarily mean no action will be taken. It's a long shot but I think that there is a faint hope of a solution coming from China, who stands to suffer much worse from climate change. Since they don't have to worry about democratic elections, they can take action much more swiftly and decisively. And with the continuing growth in their economic power and the decline of that of the US, before long they may be able to force the US to follow suit, particularly if Europe joined them in that effort (as would be the case if it were happening now).

    I doubt that that situation can arise soon enough to avert catastrophe. But at least there's a chance.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    Progress doesn't come from competition. Innovation is never the result of competition. Think of your own innovations. It's always finding a niche, doing something differently, being creative, thinking outside the box.Agustino

    I'd argue that innovation is encompassed by competition. Meaning competition and innovation aren't two mutually exclusive ideas. Take China for example. They will always have a strong comparative advantage over the US in terms of cheap labor and cheap raw materials. I do agree, however, that innovation is central to any service based economy...
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    Are you just suggesting that we're doomed, because the US right will probably manage to block any effective action from the US?andrewk

    No, I'm actually making the case that climate change isn't as bad as it is portrayed to be.

    It's a long shot but I think that there is a faint hope of a solution coming from China, who stands to suffer much worse from climate change.andrewk

    Yes, I'm pretty sure China is much more informed on the matter than even the U.S.

    However, I'm not all that worried about the future, to be honest. China is well on its way to making solar grid parity with respect to coal and natural gas. Furthermore, they're investing heavily in nuclear. China will probably leverage their position with other BRIC members to offset the dangers of excessive climate change. It's really is a matter of time until that happens. Hopefully sooner than later.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.7k
    Global warming won't result in evenly distributed consequences, beneficial or not. For instance, the earth's polar regions are -- and will continue to warm -- more rapidly than equatorial regions. So, what's the problem with that?

    Melted polar ice will raise ocean levels enough to obliterate most of the world's coastal cities and lands, where the largest concentrations of people live. This won't happen overnight, but it also won't be avoided overnight, either. Fisheries and farm land will also be disrupted (most fish are hatched along shorelines).

    Continental regions will not experience global warming evenly, either. The American southwest region is expected to experience deepening drought and excessive heat. The north mid-lands will experience not just more rain, but more rain in more frequent heavy rainfall. So, what's the problem with that?

    A lot of people live in the SW, and as it becomes hotter and drier, their continued residence there will become increasingly unsustainable. They will have to resettle at great cost. As for the northern plains states, the source of a huge share of the nation's and world's food, they tend to be flat. A 10 inch rainfall on top of higher average rainfalls generally means flooding (which is bad of course) but it also means a drop in crop yields as flat fields stay under water for too long a period. A drowned corn, wheat, bean, sunflower, etc. crop in July means no crop at all. Even with a longer growing period, midsummer crop loss means no crop that year.

    The glaciers in Asia are melting. The ice will be gone sometime in this century. Yes, there will be heavier -- and more unpredictable -- monsoons. A 20 inch rain would seem to solve the problem of glacier loss, but it doesn't. A sudden heavy rain (say, 10-20 inches) is too much to deal with. The soils can not begin to absorb that much rain, and it runs off causing severe flooding.

    As one approaches the equator (even as close as the southern US) excess heat will make it increasingly difficult to spend the usual amount of time outdoors during the summer months required to run agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure repair, roofing, and so on. This will most likely be a late 21st century problem, but that's only 60 years away.

    So yes: there will be benefits. One will be able to ship goods through the arctic ocean between Europe and Asia. The downside of a warm arctic is more methane in the atmosphere as the tundra melts and starts rotting, and releasing methane hydrates. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

    A warm Arctic might also mean a disruption of surface and deep ocean currents. So who cares? If the gulf stream is disrupted, Europe will get a lot colder. (It won't warm up enough to eliminate winter.) A much colder, and maybe drier Europe, will not be pleasant.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.7k
    China is still building coal fired plants, however, and even in a command economy reasonably safe nuclear plants take quite a while to bring on line.

    Carbon emissions are becoming less intense (x amount of carbon per y share of GDP), but it is still increasing and according to Chinese sources will continue to increase for a period of time because China is still in it's planned process of industrializing and urbanizing -- both of which involve increases in carbon output. (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/making-sense-of-china-s-drop-in-coal-use/)

    Granted, they are building more nuclear and solar plants, but in such a huge economy still being transformed, "Peak carbon" has probably not been reached yet. And the year after peak carbon doesn't mean no carbon, it just means a bit less carbon. That applies to the rest of the world's economies too. And don't forget India which will be an increasingly massive producer of carbon from various processes.

    The US remains #2 after China in world carbon output.
  • Shawn
    10.7k


    Well, call it what you want. I don't think any conservatives are jumping on the Musk-Mars interstellar highway.
  • Shawn
    10.7k


    I've been talking with a friend and essentially the argument goes that limiting growth today (sacrificing GDP) instead of saving it at a higher discount rate over, say 60-100 years when the discount rate will lead to a significantly higher return on saved money, then most of these prognostications will come to fruition is better than sacrificing current GDP growth and then tackling the problem of climate change in the future.

    Another point worth mentioning is if coal and natural gas, which are the cheapest available sources of power are abundant, then we ought to utilize them to achieve the maximum amount of growth possible. Then, when the resources run out or there are other cheaper options, then move onto utilizing those options.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    I don't think any conservatives are jumping on the Musk-Mars interstellar highway.Question

    No, because they're not utopians.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.7k
    I've been talking with a friend and essentially the argument goes that limiting growth today (sacrificing GDP) instead of saving it at a higher discount rate over, say 60-100 years when the discount rate will lead to a significantly higher return on saved money, then most of these prognostications will come to fruition is better than sacrificing current GDP growth and then tackling the problem of climate change in the future.Question

    Your friend has zero reasons to be confident in his economic predictions for 60-100 years hence. I know nothing about your friend; he might be a genius, but he still doesn't know what is going to happen economically in 100 years. Nobody else does either. I personally would not bank on such advice.

    Go back to 1917 and ask yourself, what predictions in 1917 bearing directly on the economy have proved true in the intervening century? Nobody predicted the great depression, World War II (or any subsequent war); nobody predicted the immense importance of radio or automobiles or TV to the economy; nobody anticipated the manned landing on the moon or the absurdly expensive and wasteful Star Wars initiative of the Reagan Administration; nobody predicted antibiotics, the elimination of smallpox or polio, the 1918 worldwide influenza epidemic (only 1 year later) that killed between 20 and 40 million people in about a year. Nobody predicted AIDS, Ebola, or Zika either.

    The human ecology and human economy is far more complicated than global weather. The range of predictions about global warming or climate change, whatever term you like better, is based on comparatively straightforward climate models which are based on physics, chemistry, and accumulated data. It's much easier to confidently predict what will happen to climate over 50 years with a doubling of CO2 methane in the atmosphere than it is to say what GDP will be 25 years from now.

    You know, the Great Recession of 2008 was not predicted 15 minutes before it began.

    Another point worth mentioning is if coal and natural gas, which are the cheapest available sources of power are abundant, then we ought to utilize them to achieve the maximum amount of growth possible. Then, when the resources run out or there are other cheaper options, then move onto utilizing those options.Question

    Have you learned nothing about the real world?

    Look, at the time of the carboniferous epoch (359.2 to 299 million years ago) the world was very warm and humid and had high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ancient forests, and animal life of the swampy world died, were buried, and locked up a lot of the excess CO2. It became coal, oil, and gas.

    250 years ago we all started digging up all this sequestered carbon and burned it for various purposes. We've dug up a good share of the coal, sucked up even more of the oil, and have tapped a lot of the natural gas. All of the carbon we dug up and burned became the CO2 that is causing the planet to rapidly warm up. That's what CO2 does.

    A lousy 2ºC is no crisis you say. It is, because the amount of CO2 that it takes to warm up the earth that much will be very hard to remove. As we continue to add CO2, even at an decreased rate, the climate will continue to warm. At 2ºC increase, serious climate and weather problems start to ensue.

    Why? Physics and chemistry again. Put a lot more energy into the atmosphere and the result will be more extreme weather, more erratic weather, and worse.

    So, Question, we can be much more sure of negative climate developments than we can of beneficial economic developments.
  • m-theory
    1.1k
    I argue something similar about sustainable energy.
    It will cost less to implement sustainable solutions now rather than put it off until later.
    While fossil fuels are cheap and abundant we should be transitioning away from reliance upon them.
    Rather than trying to do so when fossil fuels have become more scarce and more expensive.
  • Punshhh
    1.8k
    Bitter Crank has beaten me to it by pointing out the main drivers of our predicament. But has not touched on the consequences, or the inability of humanity to change.

    It's a big subject, but I will focus on a couple of the more obvious(in terms of likelihood) ramifications of increased greenhouse gas emissions. As pointed out, the seas will rise, the maximum is approx 66m increase in sea level if all the ice above sea even were to melt. Antarctica will melt more slowly than Greenland, so let's look at Greenland, the icecap is showing extensive signs of irreversible collapse(in the absence of a big freeze), large areas around the coast are experiencing rapid flow of unstable glacier action. Basically it is melting fast and accelerating in rate of melt. This is all scientifically proven to be happening. If this icecap melts the sea level will rise by approx 7m. So this is going to happen, there is a lot of debate about how long it will take to melt, between say 50 and 1000 years. However only modest rises will spook the folk living in coastal cities, real estate prices will collapse and it won't take long for a stampede to develop. But where will they go? Will it be an orderly retreat? Where will the energy and building resources to fuel the move come from? What about the real estate prices elsewhere? How will their food be provided? Etc etc.

    Secondly, the inability to change.This is a big subject, so I can only scratch the surface here. Already there is protectionism of oil, coal and gas production. Not to mention mass reliance on these sources. In many countries the initial move towards greener solutions has faltered and now we are moving into a more protectionist global politics, all the fine words about a greener future may be just that, words. If we are very lucky we might actually achieve peak carbon within our lifetimes, but somehow I doubt our resolve. Even then, the reductions from that peak will be slow and hard won. But with the issues with the climate change we are already experiencing and with a modest rise in sea level. The sociopolitical and economic disruption will likely kaibosh any good intentions. All we need to scupper it is a world leader or two to say a rude word out of place. Not to mention the cancer of creeping civil wars.

    Now you may say, like your friend, that it can be put right later. But this is wrong, it can't even in a perfect world. In terms of the ecosystem the repairs would take millennia, given perfect conditions. Any species loss is pretty much permanent and problems with rapid ecosystem change and disease are likely to ravage any attempts to correct it. We shouldn't forget that good soil is part of that ecosystem. All our food is grown in that soil(similarly the oceans). In terms of climate and geology, rapid changes in erosion, weather patterns and problems with the stability of the Earth's crust will hamper our efforts and cause civil unreast and the spread of civil war.

    Which ever way you look at it, the only way is down. Tell this to your investors and how long will it take for the money to dry up. I know, let's just not tell them, then everything will be alright,... not!
  • tom
    1.5k
    So, Question, we can be much more sure of negative climate developments than we can of beneficial economic developments.Bitter Crank

    But we are certain of the economic benefits of increased atmospheric CO2. We can measure them in global greening, the sparing of land due to increased agricultural productivity, the reduction in water extraction.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.