We are still screwed: the coming climate disaster


#1

I am not interested into listening to any of you fools who argue about the science anymore; go talk to yourselves in the dumpster you'll be living in come 2050.

Climate change has fallen into the bucket of "catastrophic things I know are coming, but overcoming seems unsurmountable, so don't think about it." Like the 1940-1990 threat of nuclear annihiliation, except instead of an unknown chance we're virtually guarenteed. Like death, except instead of just me it's a substantial proportion of the planet.

It’s Time to Freak Out About Climate Change.

So how do you deal with it? What are you doing about it? What is to be done? It's like organizing to end racism in the 1890s, except if you don't your grandchildren are going to all die.

This just doesn't seem like enough.


The 'show why science is awesome' thread:
#2

Do my best to educate people and hope solar panels come down in cost for the common individual to help reduce our dependancy on cheaper coal.


#3

By buying an H1, and maybe buying a few dozen barrels of oil and burning it in my backyard.

Oh and maybe starting a business selling over priced solar panels made out of green-approved silicon (it's natural!).

I'm freaking out that there are so many choices!


#4

I think that it is hysteria and hyperbole like this that does the most damage to the image of client change proponents.

Every few weeks we read an article about how WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!!!! and then a few months later we read scientific articles about how the model they used is inaccurate and how there are other factors at play and things aren't that bad.

Don't get me wrong, I do think that we should stop pumping pollution into the atmosphere but for goodness sakes, let's keep it rational.


#5

The rational assumption is a huge number of deaths. The median IPCC model is 3 degrees warming by the late 20th century, which is where crop yields really start to go to shit and the planet starts seriously changing; the "likely" range goes up to 6 degrees, at which point humanity is screwed. The "rational" scenario is the median projection, where 10s if not 100s of millions people die, with the inability to rule out billions, due to extreme weather events, sea levels rise a couple of feet, and crop productivity significantly goes down.


#6

You're not asking for rationality. You're asking for someone to wave a magic wand and remake climate change as something that is easier to understand, easier to predict and generally harmless. The fact that the science isn't conveniently bite-sized or demonstrable within your limited attention span doesn't make it wrong. Scientists are not engaging in hyperbole or saying "we're all going to die next week". They are giving us some scary pictures of what the next 100 years look like, however, with mountains of evidence shoring up their estimates.

Or this.


#7

Look, until I can have an orange tree in my back yard I'm leaving my car running.


#8

People are too selfish and short-sighted to do anything about this. Maybe we'll listen when someone says "Think of the children!", but probably not. We certainly won't do anything when someone says "Think of the (great) grandchildren!" Considering the time scale that climate change works on, it will be far too late by the time anyone gets a sense of urgency about it.

But life will go on in some form, maybe without humanity, or maybe with just a decimated humanity. The generations who will have to live with what we and our parents left them won't know how badly they've been fucked over, at least.

All we can do is conserve energy and water where we can, take public transport when possible, and vote for anybody who will make environmental policy a priority and not scoff at Obama's promise to stop the rise of the oceans.


#9

There are plenty of examples of individual people and even whole societies showing wisdom and foresight in dealing with long-term problems. But as a global society we've basically taken the "short-term, selfish/competitive" option at every opportunity. Now we are doing so again, with respect to a problem that is liable to cause an unprecedented global catastrophe. There is now a little bit of movement on implementing solutions, but it's so small and so slow that it doesn't encourage much hope. So, I guess mostly how I intend to deal with it is by surrendering to despair. I do do my best, when the opportunity comes up, to persuade people who are unsure about the situation of the realities, but as the examples in this thread may show, those who are both unpersuaded and persuadable are a pretty small demographic.


#10

A.k.a. this.


#11

So the downside is huge numbers of people die? And the root cause in the first place is too many humans? Seems like a self-correcting problem to me.


#12

No the root cause is not too many humans. The root cause is too much use of specific chemical reactions on an industrial scale. Also the humans that use these chemical reactions the most will probably be hit far less hard than the humans that use them far less.


#13

No.

Do try to distinguish between what actual climate scientists are actually saying, and sensationalist media headlines by journalists who haven't got a clue.

The consensus among the climate scientist community has been consistent for over half a decade now. Scientists quarrel about the details (because that is what scientists do), but except for a tiny but highly vocal minority (curiously, mostly funded by the petro-chemical industry), they all agree about the big picture. No scientific body of national or international standing holds a dissenting opinion from IPCC 2007 (AR4). Every single national/international scientific organization with climate expertise every single national academy of science, has issued statement saying that humans are causing significant global warming, and we ought to do something about it (if you know scientists, you'll realize how amazing that actually is).

AR5 will come out in 2014 and is being worked on as we speak (final deadline for submissions is March 2013). Nothing I've heard suggests that the new report will change the forecasts for the better.


#14

This is trolling right?

If it's not, as a self-proclaimed 1 percenter (people who will be screwed least by climate change) you sound ... let's go with 'insensitive'.


#15

And not to mention this is not just 'numbers' over possible human costs. This effects the whole world, all life in it, all food chains etc. The biggest problem we have is that the people that make their money from our modern dependance on CO2 producing energy, are now fully upto speed and invested in delaying actual beneficial action.

I don't think the IPCC or climate scientists (in relation to the concensus around climate change being human led by modern day CO2 output) are able to make a clear enough message in all the white noise and counter-science these invested lobbies have, especialy in the usa which is the biggest country that would be able to make the right choices to safe guard the future. This is infact where most of the anti climate change science and lobbies are based, and no coincidence where much of the oil industry (and other CO2 producing industries) is based in the western world.

So with that scenario in mind, i was lucky to have foresight and have some knowledge and skills that might help me and my family to better survive in the likely Mad Max future we are sleep walking towards. It's just an insurance policy, but even as a kid i could see i could have no faith in our corrupted governments (by big business) to plan anything longterm.

So i just plan to use pleanty of sun screen over the coming years, watch my vineyard develope nicely, use green energy and become as self sufficient as possible, and have ensured my property and lands are on high ground and defensible.


#16

The root cause is too many humans using too many chemicals on an industrial scale, as Thesper points out.

And the problem is not self-correcting due to climate change feedback. As an example: when the atmosphere is warmed due to greenhouse gasses, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere increases. But since water vapor is a greenhouse gas itself, this causes even more warming, causing even more water vapor, and so on in a positive feedback loop.

In other words, even if the world became emissions neutral today, we would still see significant global warming occuring over the next 100 years. If we continue on our current course... well, at some point the decision of what happens with the climate will probably be taken out of humanity's hands. Mother won't be amused.


#17

The problem will correct itself. If masses of people die, industry output goes down, carbon output goes down, and the problem rights itself.

Personally, though, I doubt massive amounts of people will die. People are very adept at surviving weather by changing their indoor climate and migrating. We will, however, see lots of people go through Katrina-like events, and then be so stubborn they move right back into affected areas and be killed in the next round.

I'd be much more worried about what the world is going to look like without fossil fuels. Which, incidentally, will start to correct climate change itself.


#18

This Rolling Stone article about climate change is good:
http://m.rollingstone.com/?redirurl=/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719


#19

I'm trying to imagine us finding a planet exactly like Earth in another solar system, only with 6 degree higher average annual temperatures, and scientists going "Well, forget it then. That planet is uninhabitable".


#20

You're a pretty lonely guy, right? Not a lot of close friends and family? No kids?