We are still screwed: the coming climate disaster


#5050

It’s so nice to see kids care about the environment. An example from Sydney, these protests are everywhere in Australia today and from what I understand the world as well.

A good argument for reducing the voting age to 16.


#5051

The Dutch government has proposed a carbon surcharge for the 300 largest (most emitting?) companies. The flip side is that, with elections looming, they’ve shied away from doing anything to (directly) increase costs for consumers.


#5052

This isn’t a flip side. Their original plan was to tax business less and consumers more—despite the former being responsible for the majority of carbon emissions. There was a massive backlash against that (and rightfully so) so we ended up with the current plan.


#5053

But that cost just goes to the consumers anyway.


#5054

Kinda depends on what’s being taxed ( i.e.elasticity of demand.)


#5055

Also any price controls


#5056

Also, incentives for business to do it better. Why should a coal plant care about reducing waste if I pay the taxes? But they might care more if they had to pay the taxes and had competition that didn’t have to pay the taxes.


#5057

Here’s a twist.

At a conference in Houston earlier this week, Gretchen Watkins, president of Shell’s U.S. division, told Reuters that methane leaks are “a big part of the climate problem” and that she wants the EPA to establish more aggressive regulations that plug leaks. Methane, the primary component in natural gas, packs more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. (And leaks mean Shell “has less product to sell,” Watkins wrote in a LinkedIn post).

“We don’t usually tell governments how to do their job,” Watkins reportedly said, “but we’re ready to break with that and say, ‘Actually, we want to tell you how to do your job.’”


#5058

It’s a little strange that they would list “less product to sell” as a reason to be regulated. If the lost production was important to them, why would they have to be forced to plug the leaks?


#5059

No idea!


#5060

I presume it’s because they have better technology/processes to prevent leaks than smaller competitors (the sheer number of fly-by night oil/gas companies in the US amazes me), so tighter rules help their position. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen though.


#5061

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks! Often big companies like regulation to impose more barriers and costs on smaller competitors. Usually I don’t like that but in this case it definitely needs to happen as you say.


#5062

I don’t know if this particular cyclone can be directly attributable to climate change, but Mozambique’s second largest city (500,000, about the size of Atlanta or Sacramento) is 90% destroyed. Death toll there is now 1,000 but I suspect that’ll go much higher. It’s getting next to no coverage in US media.

Cyclone Idai has ravaged parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in what the UN says could be the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere. Entire cities have been destroyed. Millions of people were in the direct path of the cyclone.


#5063

Thanks for posting this. Though no country will be unscathed, this definitely seems like an example of how poorer countries are even more vulnerable and have fewer internal resources to fall back on.


#5064

Dear lord. Yeah there is no real coverage on this here.


#5065

The humanitarian crisis from events like this in the coming decades are going to be unfathomable.

And from our last real President:


#5066

Of course the human suffering from the cyclone is the first consideration.

But considering the much lesser subject of realpolitik, the inevitable total failure to assist from the US (and most likely from Europe too at this point) leaves yet more opportunity for China to spend a token amount on aid and show the flag here. They may be exploiting Africa for its resources just as Europe used to do, but at least they would be present and visible.


#5067

#5068

I’m thinking about Mozambique and the flooding in the Midwest in the context of the Atlantic article Dan posted about how people tend to normalize weather changes over a fairly short period of time. They’re saying Idai may be the worst weather related disaster ever to hit the Southern Hemisphere. Think about the number of unprecedented natural disasters just in the period since Hurricane Harvey. There have been so many it’s hard to even keep track:

Harvey, Irma, Maria, Michael, Florence, Typhoon Manghut, the California wildfires, the wildfires in Greece, unprecedented flooding and landslides all over the world including major events in India, North Korea, Nigeria and Japan, and some of the worst, most deadly heatwaves on record.

As with the outrages and scandals of Trump and his administration, the cumulative effect of event after event is that our expectations shift and we start to accept these events as normal.

One point David Wallace Wells makes in The Uninhabitable Earth is that folks who are paying attention will sometimes say that these sorts of events are the new normal but the truth is actually much much worse because that implies a steady state moving forward. The truth is that these events represent the beginning of a new era that will be completely unlike any period in the history of our species. It only gets worse from here and the rate if change will continue to accelerate.


#5069

Yeah that’s one of the more chilling arguments from the part of the book I’ve read so far.