We are still screwed: the coming climate disaster



Armando: Yeah, dealing with climate change in any kind of useful, longterm way, is probably going to require a political party to essentially commit suicide to ram through a package of proposals and laws more complicated and overwhelmingly transformative than the ACA, because it’s not a problem that we as a species can afford to deal with slowly and piecemeal. That approach has gotten us to the suicide cliff we’re all dangling five feet beyond in open air, Wile E. Coyote style.

I dunno, I guess I’m skeptical this will happen. Is there any example of a representative democracy dealing with a looming crisis of this magnitude rather than one that is already upon them? It’s not something democracies are very good at. Britain and the US more or less steadfastly refused to arm up until they were actually dragged into WW2. And the way Brexit is playing out is instructive: All parties can see it’s a looming disaster, but none have the sense of responsibility to take the bullet for calling it off.

It seems way more likely that climate change response will all be reactions to actual crises as they happen, rather than any action to prevent or mitigate them before-hand. Governments will react to refugee crises, probably badly as usual. Think Katrina or Puerto Rico FEMA response, but happening in slow motion with hundreds of thousands or even millions flooded. The response will be typically stupid, e.g. government making good on flood insurance so people can rebuild houses more or less in the same place that will be flooded again.

Same thing with agriculture: Crop failures will happen slowly, over time, and get gradually worse, and the government response will be wholly inadequate and probably wrong, e.g. focused on pouring money into farmers and farming regions that are basically doomed.

I mean, the problem with climate change is that it will for a long time be irritating, then suddenly it will be very bad. There will e.g. be periodic flood / recede cycles in coastal areas, until suddenly the West Antarctic ice shelf will slide into the sea and lots of places are permanently flooded. No one will do anything useful about it while it is irritating, and then it is a massive crisis.


“Send a hunter in to track and shoot man shaped creature”

The hook: We sent out 30 hunters and didnt tell them.

Even better hook: Dont film it, just say you are and leave them on the mountain. Do this a lot. Regularly.


I like it! Maybe we can even charge them license fees.


Better still combine it with one of those Paelo Survival shows and you can have 30 half naked mud smeared hunters building traps and trying to get within ambush distance of what looks like a half naked mud smeared man.

“yeah, its all on drone and tiny camouflaged cameras, see you in the a month”


Once the “eco-refugee” crisis begins the Syrian refugee crisis will look like puppies and rainbows in comparison. How many nations are going to end up going full blown fascist? And as we now know, that “it can’t happen here” is a myth. It’ll be like the Late Bronze age collapse, only this time with nuclear weapons.


For what it’s worth, in my original post, I completely agreed with you in the remainder of the text, which I will quote below.

I really can’t fathom a way out of this hole, because I don’thave enough faith in people to think they will handle it any better than they have ever handled anything else in history :(


Yes, you did. I didn’t mean that you didn’t, I just didn’t want to quote a pile of text. Sorry!


Hah, no worries. I did figure if the discussion was going to move over here, it might be worth having the additional context, anyway.


Have you seen Surviving the Game?


If that big house is in Texas, you can add solar panels to make it energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral. The leftover energy can power your EV.

More directly, fuck you no, you can’t live in New York. Maybe someday we’ll develop sustainable, carbon neutral ways to heat homes in the winter. But for now, living in cold places is killing us.


Long, rather exhaustive look at policies designed to mitigate climate change. (The article also discussed nuclear power, a rarity. The writer linked to a Dave Roberts piece from July, and it’s not good news on that front.)


You do need to build those solar panels, so you still creating extra population and carbon in the atmosphere.

How is heating a house not better for the environment than trying to cool it? Solar panels do work in the winter time.


If you want to transition away from fossil fuels then you will need to build new infrastructure, from solar panels to new housing. It’s an inescapable one-off cost.

Heating a home when it’s 10 F outside takes far more energy than cooling it when it’s 90 F outside. And in most Northern areas, there isn’t simply enough sunlight in the winter to heat homes via solar. Think of it this way: if the sunlight falling on your house doesn’t deliver enough energy to keep snow off your roof, how do you expect it capture it and use it to heat your entire house?


Only if you want to live on the surface, like some sort of Eloi.


So a few points - Solar panels are slanted and can be directed in such a way to keep small of it. It wouldn’t take much to keep snow off, and keep them working efficient. It’s also not the only source of energy when it comes to heating a house. My own house has a fire pit which works quite well.

Also, heating isn’t universal. If you live in a cold climate, you know there are wonderful items, such as sweeter, pants, and even thermal underwear to keep you warm in even the coldest days. On a hot day, I’m forced to use air condition, because even walking around in just your underwear can be too hot.

But a cold day. A cold day is easy. Just wear layers. Anyone can do it.

But even then, with some good insulation, it doesn’t take a lot to heat up a room or a house and keep it warm through out the winter.

And again, I can’t stress this enough, solar panels are resource intense. In the long run, if you need energy, they make sense. But if you can cut down on your energy costs, that is best.

Living in a city, especially an apartment, in the north, you have an easy time of recapturing waste heat, and using it to heat the building. As long as you keep the building warm enough to the stop the pipes from bursting, you can wear layers, further reducing heating costs. In addition, with cities, you can have efficient public transportation instead of requiring a car (further saving, both in car use and car construction).

Face it, living in the south is only possible due to air condition, and it’s only going to get worse.


I was born in the jungles of SE Asia. I grew up in the North Georgia pines. I lived for several years on the banks of the Big Muddy in Memphis. I spent a year in the Arizona desert. This past year was spent in Seattle, my first winter north of the Mason-Dixon Line. We just had close to a foot of snow dumped on us, the most I’ve ever seen at one time in my whole life. Still, adjusting to this cold weather has been a breeze.

I don’t miss southern weather at all. I don’t miss it being close to 90 out. In late April. So I’ll gladly take these cold rainy days now in exchange for this later:

(Sorry for the off topic post).


That’s not what I meant. The total amount of energy that a solar panel can collect cannot be more than the total amount of energy that would have otherwise landed on or near the roof. It’s simple physics. You can’t create energy out of nothing.

And how much energy would have otherwise landed on or near the roof? Well if you see a snow covered area, you are basically looking at an area where there isn’t enough solar energy to melt snow.

If you’re going to burn something to keep warm, you might as well use natural gas. Your fire pit isn’t doing the climate any favors. A modern gas furnace is far more efficient.

No matter how many layers you wear, you need the air temperature to be at least 60 F. It’s actually illegal for landlords here to set the daytime temperature below 65 F. Because, you know, it’s a health issue.

But even a brisk 60 F is going to take a lot of energy when it’s 10 F outside. Certainly more energy than cooling your home from 90 F (which equally takes advantage of insulation and efficiency of scale).

You must realize that while heating is prehistoric, air conditioning is a recent invention. People lived in Texas long before the first A/C was installed. Plenty of hotter places in the world lack A/C even today.

So don’t tell me it’s impossible to live in the South without it. If Chicagoans have to wear a parka indoors, Texans can use a paper fan.


You keep saying this, but NY has the second lowest per-capital energy use in the country. Texas is number 6. And there doesn’t seem to be much correlation here between climate and energy use. Indeed, among southern states, only Florida and Georgia are in the bottom half.

Edit: Now compare that ranking with this one of population density. There’s a much stronger correlation between population density and energy use than there is between climate and energy use.


This argument is pretty obviously misapplied. It really depends on how the energy is being captured and used. I mean, if I pour a gallon of petrol over the the engine compartment of a car and light it on fire, that car isn’t going to move very far. If, however, I put it in the tank, and start the car, I’ll probably get 30 miles of movement out of it. That’s not magic.

What happens with snow on your roof is that 90% of the sunlight is being reflected away by the high albedo of the snow. Sunlight basically never melts clean snow; snow is melted by the temperature of the surrounding air. This is not because solar energy is weak. It’s because it is the wrong application of energy to melt snow, so that 90% of the energy is wasted.


It’s enormously less energy-expensive to design and insulate homes in cold climates to reduce heating costs than it is to air condition homes in hot climates.