We are still screwed: the coming climate disaster


Thanks for the link. I read through it and at the end thought “hmm, I should post this on the Qt3 thread”, I must be getting too old.



Gilded Age 2.0, only hotter


I mean people learn your history. The Gilded age ended peacefully, relatively, because the working class was allowed gains. Had the wealthy of the day behaved as the wealthy of our day? Guillotines. That’s where that ends.

You can only turn the screws so tight.


Thing is… the wealthy are dumber now and don’t think the working class will do it.

History says otherwise.


Zombies can totally get over that wall. Just sayin’.


I keep saying that the basic social problem is that not enough lampposts have been put to their appropriate use.


I thought this was a positive story. “Maersk [the container-shipping company] pledges to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050”.



This is particularly encouraging:

A lot of zero emissions blather ends up being about offsets, which in practice have questionable results and monitoring. Of course, 30 years is a long time. It’s easy to pledge to do something that far in the future when none of your execs and investors will be around.


At this point I think the only hope is some stupid technological intervention, like global-scale CO2 extraction or as a last resort atmospheric particulate dispersal. Not that either of those are even faintly desirable. But the US will simply not implement sufficiently stringent measures even if the Democrats take over all elements of government, and with that kind of US “leadership” many other nations will not either. For example, Brazil eagerly and avidly destroying their ecology because they elected a Trumplike thug.


I can see the downsides of particulate dispersal, but why is CO2 extraction not even faintly desirable? Doesn’t that just depend on how it’s done, and what the cost is?



I had that bumper sticker on my car in 2016.


It’s a horrifying prospect because realistically it would only start being done when it’s too late. Because who’s going to pay trillions for it and justify the cost in increased taxes, austerity, and worldwide sacrifice? And in fact the problem is accelerating.


It depends on how much pulling the carbon out ends up costing per ton. Probably not cheap.

On the other hand, the prospects of keeping the carbon in the ground by laws and regulations are dimming. People seem to flip out over even minor increases in gas taxes. Unless other sources of energy make fossil fuels obsolete, there is too much money there, money that is already on the books.

Kevin Drum along these lines

Like most of you I want to keep fighting to reduce fossil fuel use, but at the same time I’ve come to recognize the reality that it’s not going to happen. Not via carbon taxes or lots of hectoring, anyway. As Chris Hayes has pointed out, there’s about $20 trillion worth of fossil fuels still left in the ground right now. Knowing what you know about human nature, what are the odds that anyone is going to leave all that money there? About zero, right? Hayes compares it to the $10 trillion economic value of slaves in the South on the eve of the Civil War, and points out that this is why the South would never, ever voluntarily give up chattel slavery.

Bottom line: there is no feasible way to keep all that carbon in the ground merely through regulation or fuel taxes or whatnot. It might help a bit, which means we should keep trying, but in the end it won’t work except on the margins. I don’t like this conclusion any better than anyone else, but I think it’s correct.

Against that background, news that removing carbon might be doable seems like a good thing. It will be easier to have the will for carbon removal when disaster is right in everyone’s faces, as opposed to having the will not to burn the carbon now, when people still are able to live in denial.

Obviously the whole situation is terrible though, and doesn’t say good things about us as a species.

Drum proposes spending giant sums supporting new clean energy and carbon capture development because “The public hates higher taxes and stricter regulations, but they love spending money.”


So much easier not to put the carbon in the atmosphere in the first place. And the way to do that, and not blight the landscape, and have enough energy for people’s standard of living, is to have nuclear power.


I like nuclear power, but I feel like it’s harder politically than taxing fossil fuels heavily, which is starting to seem impossible politically. Maybe we should invest in orbital mind control lasers…


If saving the fucking planet is politically too difficult, then H. Sapiens deserves what it gets. The filter has come and we failed.


This is precisely the issue. By the time rich, stupid, greedy people are seriously inconvenienced, it’s too late. There’s also a frog-boiling effect, because the problem is getting worse over decades.


Also, as regards carbon sequestration, the crude estimate is 40 billion extra tonnes of carbon added to the atmosphere per year. So let’s say it costs a mere $100 a tonne to extract, which is a little below the current estimate. Sure the human race can afford it, but the human race ain’t gonna because the people who control that money are stupid and evil.