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The Coming Climate Catastrophe- Can Countries Control it Collectively?

Professor PhobosProfessor Phobos Registered User regular
edited April 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
So we're heading down to the point of no return on some fun fun changes to the climate- specifically, a pretty dramatic increase in average global temperatures.

This has already happened, obviously, and we've got some temperature increases "loaded in" such that there's nothing we can do to stop ~1-1.5 degrees of heating, but the current expectation is that humanity is gonna hit 2-4 degrees C (with 3 degrees being the most likely) unless it starts a crash course in not emitting quite so many greenhouse gasses.

A lot of those egghead scientists put the goal at stabilizing carbon emissions at 450 parts per million (PPM). Right now we're at 387 PPM, adding about 2 PM every year. So by ~2040, we're gonna want to have ourselves stabilized and sustainable and nice sounding words like that. In order to pull this off, we have to start soon- the head honcho at the IPCC, a man selected specifically for his conservative, restrained, calm views on global warming, things things are so bad we've got 4-5 years to get things going.

Now, 450 PPM still means a good amount of warming, hell we should try to get back down to 350 PPM but not nearly as bad as your 550 PPM and 650 PPM, or, god forbid, higher concentrations than that. Let's not forget ocean acidification as well- saturated with CO2 as they are, the oceans are becoming more acidic (not becoming acid, just more acidic) which has unpleasant consequences for marine organisms...like fish. That you eat. At 850 PPM, the oceans will become anoxic. That would be bad.

So what can we do? We've got two main schools of thought on the economic side of things, and four main schools of thought on the "in general" sort of thing. Starting with the general...

Do Nothing: Lying conspiratorial envirocommie homosatanic liberals have made the whole thing up, we don't have to worry. Business as usual! Bring on the CO2! It's the sun, not antropogenic emissions!

Mitigate: The best course of action is to avoid the worst of the warming by reducing and stabilizing carbon emissions.

Adaptation: The best course of action is to accept a warmer world and take steps to prepare for it. Shift populations away from coastlines, buy up soon-to-be-fertile land in Siberia for farming, enjoy the Northwest Passage, etc.

Geoengineering: Develop magical super science that can magically scrub CO2 out of the air! Build a solar shade to cool Greenland down! Start pumping out sulphate aerosols to ramp up global dimming!

My thoughts, working backwards: With the exception of a couple of simple things, geoengineering is so in its infancy we can't bet our horses on being able to fix the problem. Scientists may have already provided us with a technological solution- they gave us an early warning- and there's no guarantee a practical, workable geoengineering option will be developed in time or not have disastrous unintended consequences by itself. Adaptation is already going to be necessary or more accurately, already is necessary. Sorry Bangladesh! But it's going to be very difficult to adapt to some of the more dire "business as usual" possibilities, my personal opinion is that we should mitigate as much as we can and then brace ourselves for the need to adapt. As far as I can tell, doing nothing appears to be rather self-destructive and foolish.

The two basic economic options are:

Tax Carbon: Straight up, full stop, tax the shit out of things that emit carbon. Want to make and sell concrete? Fuck you, we're taxing you on the shit-ton of emissions that puts out, so it makes it in your interest to figure out a way of making concrete that isn't quite as deadly to the atmosphere. This is my guess as to the best solution. The basic problem from an economic perspective is that market activity has a long-term negative externality not priced (i.e., not represented) by the system. Force the system to price carbon emissions and bingo, bango, bongo, people might stop burning down the Congo.*

*well, probably not in this case. But you get the idea.

Cap and Trade: The less efficient but more "market friendly" (i.e., easier to cheat) system that has the added benefit of being slightly more politically palatable in the United States. The government would slap a cap on the total number of carbon emissions acceptable. Any carbon emitting company going over would have to buy permission to do so. Carbon emitting companies going under can sell that permission. This creates an economic incentive to keep ones emissions low. The Europeans tried this and it failed, because they set too weak of a cap and screwed up the implementation in several ways. I'm deeply skeptical it's a model that can work.

Every economic analysis of the costs of climate change put it as waaaaay more expensive than mitigation efforts; the Stern Review, for example, put the cost of mitigation at 1% of global GDP and the average cost of letting it get out of hand at nearly 14% of global GDP.

So what do you folks think?

TL,DR: What should we do about global warming?

Professor Phobos on
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Posts

  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I'd say a tax is sensible. Carbon is an unfortunate byproduct of a lot of useful processes, but we've abandoned useful processes for significantly less environmental impact than this. Some form of production tax would make sense, all the better if it's directly shoveled into research about how to do the same things with less negative environmental impact. Hell, different negative environmental impact would be an improvement.

  • TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    This is one thing that doesn't really have one easy answer. Will taxing everything solve this? Will the technology be there? Can we get all the countries behind it? If the developing ones and the developed (not a fan of those terms but for now it will suffice) do different things or some do nothing at all is the problem solved? Can you convince the voting public to accept this?

    On a different tangent its also interesting how 35 years ago they were worried about global cooling. Many of the environmental scientists I work with realise that yes, lots of CO2 is messing us up, but the world also goes through stages.

    Then we get into the issue of what should we use to replace CO2 as an emitter as we don't want to use it forever. H2O --> H2 + O2 is not practical, nor will it be for a long while, as basic chemistry teaches us that to go from a stable molecule to a less stable one takes LOTS of energy, like more then you would produce. H2 + O2 --> H2O is a possibility, but then you have to consider the fact that too much excess H2O in our atmosphere has the potential to be worse then CO2.

    It's something I work on a lot myself with others, so it's just some issues we talk about constantly I am throwing out there.

  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    On a different tangent its also interesting how 35 years ago they were worried about global cooling. Many of the environmental scientists I work with realise that yes, lots of CO2 is messing us up, but the world also goes through stages.

    You see this one all the time from people trying to deny there's a problem (and I'm not calling you out for it specifically, the media repeats this shit all the time because they're morons and they just publish talking points without any actual fact checking).

    There was no consensus about possible global cooling, to the point where it was never more than a minority opinion and even at the time was far outweighed by concerns over global warming. Unfortunately Newsweek wrote about it and no one bothers to check the actual literature as opposed fluff pieces, so we keep hearing about global cooling because it's convenient for deniers to stall for time and our liberal media loves felating conservatives.

  • TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    werehippy wrote: »
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    On a different tangent its also interesting how 35 years ago they were worried about global cooling. Many of the environmental scientists I work with realise that yes, lots of CO2 is messing us up, but the world also goes through stages.

    You see this one all the time from people trying to deny there's a problem (and I'm not calling you out for it specifically, the media repeats this shit all the time because they're morons and they just publish talking points without any actual fact checking).

    There was no consensus about possible global cooling, to the point where it was never more than a minority opinion and even at the time was far outweighed by concerns over global warming. Unfortunately Newsweek wrote about it and no one bothers to check the actual literature as opposed fluff pieces, so we keep hearing about global cooling because it's convenient for deniers to stall for time and our liberal media loves felating conservatives.

    I know, I was just throwing it out there because it IS a possibility, not saying it is a fact. There are a lot of unknowns about a lot of things in climate change, and I agree that something must be done.

    The more interesting questions, in my opinion, is what do we replace CO2 with, and how the hell do we get everyone on board with it?

    edit: my wording was very off there. Should be "some were worried" not they. Oh well.

  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    That typo does shift it from reasonable debate to crank-town :)

    Though I'll give you the fact that the earth is a ridiculously complex system that behaves in extremely odd ways, I think that applies more to the blue sky research on terraforming (geoforming?) as a solution to the problem than on the central debate of whether or not global warming is caused by human CO2 emmission and whether we should be doing anything about it.

  • TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    werehippy wrote: »
    That typo does shift it from reasonable debate to crank-town :)

    Though I'll give you the fact that the earth is a ridiculously complex system that behaves in extremely odd ways, I think that applies more to the blue sky research on terraforming (geoforming?) as a solution to the problem than on the central debate of whether or not global warming is caused by human CO2 emmission and whether we should be doing anything about it.

    Fair enough. So this begs the question, after we cut down on CO2, do we keep using it, or do we try for another emission? Kind of a "go with the devil you know?" type question. One thing that interests me and I try to focus my studies on is where do we go from CO2.

  • ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2009
    How exactly do rising sea levels work exactly?

    Do beaches just get pushed back further inland or does everything just literally disappear quite instantly?

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  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Would greatly reducing the population of livestock, particularly cows, not have enough of an impact to enter into discussions of possible solutions?

    Reducing the role beef plays in our diets has always seemed to me like a relatively easy means of reducing greenhouse gases, but I've never really been sure as to how much the net gains will be compared to such approaches as are listed in the OP.

  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Would greatly reducing the population of livestock, particularly cows, not have enough of an impact to enter into discussions of possible solutions?

    Reducing the role beef plays in our diets has always seemed to me like a relatively easy means of reducing greenhouse gases, but I've never really been sure as to how much the net gains will be compared to such approaches as are listed in the OP.

    I don't have a link at hand, but a couple of the blogs I read regularly deal with climate stuff as well as the things I tend to care about and off the top of my head meat production counts for something like 1/5th of all CO2 production, well above all transportation in the US.

    It's a simple, common sense thing that absolutely will never take hold before it's catastrophically too late. Meat's just American dontcha know? Those damn hippies want to take away your grill on the fourth of July and so on.

    Less tongue in check, it's a fairly substantial downturn in standard of living because a chicken in every pot has been a standard since before any of us were alive. Carter tried to whole "we need to all sacrifice together" and got slaughter (as much for being inept as for it being a hard sell) and it's basically untouchable at this point.

  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    How exactly do rising sea levels work exactly?

    Do beaches just get pushed back further inland or does everything just literally disappear quite instantly?

    It's probably going to be a mix, with where ever the shore is always having some sand, which is gradually pushed higher and higher as the tides trend farther upwards, but it'll likely shrink significantly. There's already a lot of beach shrinkage, and as the weather intensifies it's only going to get more drastic (there were some really staggering numbers form the big hurricanes in the 90s about exactly how much beachfront simply disappeared).

  • SpunkyjoeSpunkyjoe Registered User
    edited April 2009
    With the technology we currently have though, long-term climate forecasting is inadequate at best. The Earth is an organic environment and while carbon emissions certainly look to be a culprit in warming, I'd avoid pinning all the blame on them alone. We just don't have enough knowledge to accurately measure the extent to which that single variable alone has contributed to warming, especially since most to all of our records post-date the end of the Little Ice Age.

  • Professor PhobosProfessor Phobos Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    werehippy wrote: »
    That typo does shift it from reasonable debate to crank-town :)

    Though I'll give you the fact that the earth is a ridiculously complex system that behaves in extremely odd ways, I think that applies more to the blue sky research on terraforming (geoforming?) as a solution to the problem than on the central debate of whether or not global warming is caused by human CO2 emmission and whether we should be doing anything about it.

    Fair enough. So this begs the question, after we cut down on CO2, do we keep using it, or do we try for another emission? Kind of a "go with the devil you know?" type question. One thing that interests me and I try to focus my studies on is where do we go from CO2.

    Oh, we keep emitting CO2. There's almost no way to avoid it short of a total replacement of fossil fuels with renewable sources, which isn't likely and would take a century. The goal is to stabilize and then reduce CO2 emissions so that we're never clear certain break points in the projections- 550, 650, 750, etc.

    I mean, ideally we'd get things back below 350 PPM, because then it would be back in more-or-less equilibrium with nature (probably still a little over, but manageable if we start planting trees, etc) but that's probably impossible at this point. Ideally we'd switch over to nuclear, solar, wind and tidal but it's very likely that natural gas will be required as a 'bridge' source and while it is cleaner than coal, it still causes GHG emissions. (I think in the form of methane, though)

    Basically we need to buy time for us to develop and build alternatives. If we can slow the rate of CO2 concentration increase from, say, 2 PPM a year to, say, .5 PPM a year, that buys us a lot more time.
    Would greatly reducing the population of livestock, particularly cows, not have enough of an impact to enter into discussions of possible solutions?

    You know, that's a good question, I have no idea. Cattle produces mostly methane, which is less abundant (measured in parts per billion) but something like 72 times more potent as a warming agent than CO2, so it is still a factor.
    How exactly do rising sea levels work exactly?

    Rising temperatures cause melting in the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets. Since those sheets rest on a continent and not in the water (like icecaps), when they melt, they get all greased up and slide into the ocean, raising the water level. That or they evaporate and fall in via precipitation. It would take a long time for the entirety of these sheets to melt, but they don't have to melt entirely- 1/3rd of the W. Antarctic ice sheet might be gone by the end of the century, which is enough to wipe out most coastlines and get us talking about the lost cities of Miami, New Orleans and London.
    So you want people to get tax'd for breathing and driving cars?

    Cars yes, breathing no. Human CO2 emissions are a teeny tiny fraction- totally insignificant, and more importantly we're a quote-unquote "natural source." The problem with fossil fuels is that CO2 was sequestered into the Earth, out of the atmosphere. By adding it back in we're upsetting the natural equilibrium that was established during pretty much the whole of our biological history, and certainly for conditions the vast majority of plant and animal life are adapted for.

    Nature was pretty comfortable dealing with natural emissions. Before the industrial revolution, we were sitting pretty at 280 PPM. It was definitely around (give or take 10-20) that amount for the last 400,000 years and probably for the last twenty million years. Now, it looked like nature had enough "give" that it handled things up to ~330 PPM. It's everything after that which causes us our problems. Without fossil fuels and industrial activity, we really could not have altered this equation meaningfully.

    Other elements to consider are the many other environmental problems caused by CO2 emissions, the political problems emerging from our fossil fuel dependence, etc. I already mentioned ocean acidification, but did you know that coal mining releases more radioactivity in a year than a nuclear plant? It's a dirty industry.

    Oil sand/shale extraction, for example, is extremely water intensive. Water scarcity is a big deal and one of the major impacts of climate change we'll be seeing- we really should not be solving our energy scarcity problem by making water scarcity much worse.

    With the technology we currently have though, long-term climate forecasting is inadequate at best. The Earth is an organic environment and while carbon emissions certainly look to be a culprit in warming, I'd avoid pinning all the blame on them alone. We just don't have enough knowledge to accurately measure the extent to which that single variable alone has contributed to warming, especially since most to all of our records post-date the end of the Little Ice Age.

    Yes we do. I don't know where you're getting this, but the models hindcast/forecast out to about 10% error, which is extremely good. The modern warming anomaly- from the 70s on- is 80% due to anthropogenic emissions. Before that, temperature anomalies were 80% "the sun" and 20% "other", but that ratio has changed. Note this is how we explain the anomaly, i.e, the change in average temperatures, not the temperature itself, since that's 100% 'the sun' all the time since the sun is the source of all energy in the atmosphere, with a couple of extremely tiny exceptions. So the bottom line is that since the 1970s, when we observe the beginning of this major warming trend, the sun cannot explain the change- it's basically stayed the same, doing its usual 11 year solar cycle. Total Solar Irradiance can be measured directly and so we can rule it out as the cause of the recent warming. The impact of CO2 can also be measured, and it explains the warming quite well.

    We have paleoclimate date going back further than 1850 from a variety of sources; we have a fairly good idea out to 400,000 BP and extremely rough ideas of the climate much further out than that.

    I mean, what you're saying would have been true for the 70s, but the science has advanced tremendously since then.

  • vermiculturevermiculture Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Would greatly reducing the population of livestock, particularly cows, not have enough of an impact to enter into discussions of possible solutions?

    Reducing the role beef plays in our diets has always seemed to me like a relatively easy means of reducing greenhouse gases, but I've never really been sure as to how much the net gains will be compared to such approaches as are listed in the OP.

    it's important.
    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=20772&Cr=global&Cr1=environment

    steam id: vermiculture
  • LitejediLitejedi New York CityRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    As an aside, I'm completely sick of Penn Gillette's bullshit and South Park libertarians. Being a skeptic is a good thing in many cases, but being a skeptic so you can be contrary is sickening. People trust scientists and engineers when they say things that don't challenge their comfort level or that make their lives easier. When the vast majority of sciencists say something uncomfortable, the SPL can't trust them any more.

    3DS FC: 1907-9450-1017
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  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    We should expand our countries' budgets and citizenship entitlements like health care significantly, paid for by massive carbon emission taxes, to the point where our very quality of life is utterly dependent on tax revenue generated by greenhouse gas emission. Make clean-burning energy or carbon-reducing technologies political landmines that threaten status quo and the viability of our entire system. And at the same time put such a government-imposed dampening effect on progress and technology that we forestall the potential for such greener technology by several decades anyway.

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Litejedi wrote: »
    As an aside, I'm completely sick of Penn Gillette's bullshit and South Park libertarians. Being a skeptic is a good thing in many cases, but being a skeptic so you can be contrary is sickening. People trust scientists and engineers when they say things that don't challenge their comfort level or that make their lives easier. When the vast majority of sciencists say something uncomfortable, the SPL can't trust them any more.

    To be fair, "buy a hybrid or you hate the planet" is a shitty argument, too.


    Regarding carbon taxes, we need to be real careful about this. Like any tax, it will have more impact on the poor than anyone. If we institute a major carbon tax (which I'm not 100% against), what alternative will be in place for people? Not everyone can walk/bike to work, and in particular, this would kill people living in rural areas.

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  • EndomaticEndomatic Registered User
    edited April 2009
    How much closer to significantly putting a halt on global warming than we were say, 4 years ago?

    Is it a likely or probable scenario in which everyone either doesn't care, or is too busy arguing over the correct answer for anything to be done in time?

    I hope not, but I tend to think that it could very well be.

    The lower classes would feel it twice. The cost on EVERYTHING would go up, PLUS they're paying to drive to work. I think a carbon tax would be a fucking disaster. I'm not an economist though. The idea is sound and just, but I don't think it's practical.
    Right off the bat we're assuming that every single dollar collected goes right into funding green technology research/implementation/infrastructure, right?

  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Yar wrote: »
    We should expand our countries' budgets and citizenship entitlements like health care significantly, paid for by massive carbon emission taxes, to the point where our very quality of life is utterly dependent on tax revenue generated by greenhouse gas emission. Make clean-burning energy or carbon-reducing technologies political landmines that threaten status quo and the viability of our entire system. And at the same time put such a government-imposed dampening effect on progress and technology that we forestall the potential for such greener technology by several decades anyway.
    How else will be we end up in our socialist fascist paradise?

    It's not like we could have an actual conversation about the facts and trade offs. No, we have to stay the course and make up asinine exaggerations about how dealing with reality will leave our poor Galtian heroes too sapped of the will to live to work, grinding society and technological progress to a halt. We've heard it time and again; with Medicare, Medicaid, OSHA, the Clean Air/Water Act, and countless other examples, but people just won't listen. The titans of industry and the geniuses innovators are delicate flowers and the slightest touch from the filthy parasites in the population or greedy government will simply bring the entire American way of life crashing down.

    We should cut their taxes before they hear someone has dared to consider regulation might not only be necessary but actually beneficial or god knows what'll happen.

  • HarrierHarrier Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Endomatic wrote: »
    How much closer to significantly putting a halt on global warming than we were say, 4 years ago?

    Is it a likely or probable scenario in which everyone either doesn't care, or is too busy arguing over the correct answer for anything to be done in time?

    I hope not, but I tend to think that it could very well be.

    The lower classes would feel it twice. The cost on EVERYTHING would go up, PLUS they're paying to drive to work. I think a carbon tax would be a fucking disaster. I'm not an economist though. The idea is sound and just, but I don't think it's practical.
    Right off the bat we're assuming that every single dollar collected goes right into funding green technology research/implementation/infrastructure, right?
    Actually, we would be passing at least some of the money back to the taxpayer.

    But whether the lower classes would feel the pinch is almost beside the point. If they're forced to drive less, then good. The economic well-being of any class of people, in any country, is secondary to the stability of the global climate.

    It's either that, or you find enough room in the Arctic Circle for the entire human race. That's going to be the only habitable environment left, if things get as bad as they're looking to.

    I don't wanna kill anybody. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from.
  • vermiculturevermiculture Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    My job is to help large corporations(big polluters too, including mining and oil/gas companies) reduce their impact on the environment, including reducing C02 emissions, and I do think that what they do is good and in the right direction, even if companies have less than altruistic reasons for doing so.

    Large companies who are the biggest polluters pale in comparison to the overall effect each one of us has on the global climate. It's terribly easy to forget that we are just as much to blame for this mess as your local steel mill.

    Sadly, I agree that a carbon tax would likely target the poor. Even worse, I think that directly taxing everyone is going to be the only way that we will see the personal sacrifice needed to affect climate change. But it's very true, people just don't care about it. This is why environmental education is so important, because young people are very open to behavior changes.

    i'm not trying to flame anyone, I could also be doing more to help our planet.

    steam id: vermiculture
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Harrier wrote: »
    Actually, we would be passing at least some of the money back to the taxpayer.

    How's that, exactly?
    But whether the lower classes would feel the pinch is almost beside the point. If they're forced to drive less, then good. The economic well-being of any class of people, in any country, is secondary to the stability of the global climate.

    O_o

    How does it do the country or world any good if you tax a percentage of its citizens out of not only the ability to drive, but the ability to work and live?

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  • HarrierHarrier Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    When the American Southwest turns into a desert, I think people might start to care. By then it might be too late, though.

    I don't wanna kill anybody. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from.
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Harrier wrote: »
    It's either that, or you find enough room in the Arctic Circle for the entire human race. That's going to be the only habitable environment left, if things get as bad as they're looking to.

    Not quite THAT bad (and the arctic circle is going to be an ocean at that point...) unless that point about the oceans going anoxic is true.

    That would be bad. Anoxic ocean means massive die-offs of ocean life, which in turn means something like half the planet loses their prime source of protein at the same time near-ocean farmland is going away.

    And as for the "we can't afford it!" chorus- we WILL afford it. The question is if we pay now to reduce carbon, or pay later with famine, water shortages, flooding, and all the rest of the fun shit that comes from a drastically warming climate.

    Hint: Paying now is a hell of a lot cheaper.

  • HarrierHarrier Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    But whether the lower classes would feel the pinch is almost beside the point. If they're forced to drive less, then good. The economic well-being of any class of people, in any country, is secondary to the stability of the global climate.

    O_o

    How does it do the country or world any good if you tax a percentage of its citizens out of not only the ability to drive, but the ability to work and live?
    Because it preserves a livable climate. That must be the priority above everything else. The quality of life that any given human can enjoy becomes irrelevant if climate change renders his section of the globe uninhabitable.

    I don't wanna kill anybody. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from.
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Harrier wrote: »
    When the American Southwest turns into a desert, I think people might start to care. By then it might be too late, though.

    ...I presume you mean the SouthEAST? o_O

  • HarrierHarrier Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    Harrier wrote: »
    It's either that, or you find enough room in the Arctic Circle for the entire human race. That's going to be the only habitable environment left, if things get as bad as they're looking to.

    Not quite THAT bad (and the arctic circle is going to be an ocean at that point...) unless that point about the oceans going anoxic is true.

    That would be bad. Anoxic ocean means massive die-offs of ocean life, which in turn means something like half the planet loses their prime source of protein at the same time near-ocean farmland is going away.

    And as for the "we can't afford it!" chorus- we WILL afford it. The question is if we pay now to reduce carbon, or pay later with famine, water shortages, flooding, and all the rest of the fun shit that comes from a drastically warming climate.

    Hint: Paying now is a hell of a lot cheaper.
    Shit, that's nothing. I've been reading lately that too little oxygen in the ocean results in the flourishing of anerobic bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide. That gas reacts with oxygen and eliminates it. The world could literally suffocate.

    Fortunately, I don't think we could engage in that level of CO2 emissions. And fortunately, the Earth has gone through warm periods that haven't seen the release of hydrogen sulfide. But it's out there.

    I don't wanna kill anybody. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from.
  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Harrier wrote: »
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    But whether the lower classes would feel the pinch is almost beside the point. If they're forced to drive less, then good. The economic well-being of any class of people, in any country, is secondary to the stability of the global climate.

    O_o

    How does it do the country or world any good if you tax a percentage of its citizens out of not only the ability to drive, but the ability to work and live?
    Because it preserves a livable climate. That must be the priority above everything else. The quality of life that any given human can enjoy becomes irrelevant if climate change renders his section of the globe uninhabitable.

    Harrier's got the right idea, but it's not at all that drastic.

    You impose an extra cost on activities that pollute, either outright or through cap-and-trade (which shoudl be there anyway because pollution is a huge externality, but anyway). You then take part of the money generated from this and feed it back to consumers to mitigate the hardship. Pretty much every study has shown it's more than doable to provide a flat tax credit to everyone which will cover the extra costs to lower income users while mitigating the cost upper middle class and rich people feel from their voluntary actions a little bit all with plenty of money to spare to roll into mass transportation, alternative technology development, etc.

    From there it's all upside. Industry have extra costs that give them an incentive to really work to pollute less in order to cut costs. Everyone who is receiving their rebates is getting enough to meet their necessities, and has a big incentive to cut down on their pollution either to get below the rebate they are receiving and turn this whole thing into a net plus for them or to mitigate the extra cost they're bearing. This new demand drives things we should be doing anyway, like developing cleaner technology, beefing up our mass transportation, and rebalancing our consumption towards clearner options (more freight by train instead of truck, etc).

    It pays for itself, everyone who can't avoid their current usage has enough help to get by until things even out and everyone else is feeling the real costs of their choices, and all the incentives drive the market to make smart choices we need. Unfortunately between the people who deny there's a problem in the first place, the free market die hards, and the state economies dominated by dirty industries it's an uphill struggle.

  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    Harrier wrote: »
    When the American Southwest turns into a desert, I think people might start to care. By then it might be too late, though.

    ...I presume you mean the SouthEAST? o_O

    I assume he meant an unlivable desert. Our water situation is tenuous at best in a lot of the Southwest, our consumption is absolutely insane (~1000 gallons/per day/per person in that region of the US vs ~350 in comparable Australia), it wouldn't take much of a reduction at all to make things extremely unpleasant in that neck of the woods.

  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    OP is presenting the situation as being more cut and dry than it actually is. I'm comfortable admitting that global warming is happening and that we're playing some part in it, but there are far too many unknown variables involved to act like it's a simple matter of "paying the bills" (reducing our emissions by X amount). As such, I'd rather we set out goal post at something more certain--renewable energy.

    Fossil fuel dependency is the more immediate and quantifiable danger. We need to regulate its consumption and reward the improvement of efficiency/reduction of its use. In the process, carbon emissions will be reduced. Basically, it's a matter of priority, and if we're going to spend political capital throwing money and regulation at "environmental/energy issues" (which always seem to get lumped together politically), I'd rather we do it efficiently, addressing the highest-priority risk.

    currently playing LoL: Polymath
    a fading melody - my indie platformer for the xbox 360
  • KevinNashKevinNash Registered User regular
    edited April 2009

    TL,DR: What should we do about global warming?


    Absolutely nothing until we have definitive proof that it will cause catastrophe.

    Is it happening? Yes. Are humans causing it? In conjunction with natural other occurrence most likely yes. Will it result in tidal waves demolishing New York City? Highly unlikely and absolutely no viable studies can point to that. At all.

    We can't even fucking predict the weather next week. We have no idea what the results of global warming will be in 100 years. People who claim they know are lying and not using science to come to their conclusions, but rather hysteria.

    So instead of taxes or carbon credits or cap trade or other destructive behavior we should simply take a wait and see approach. The byproduct of not polluting may impact this in a healthy way regardless. Drastically destroying the world economy even further because some hippies think we're gonna murder all the penguins and then graduate to steroid el nino is fucking asinine.

  • JebusUDJebusUD Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    KevinNash wrote: »

    TL,DR: What should we do about global warming?


    Absolutely nothing until we have definitive proof that it will cause catastrophe.

    Is it happening? Yes. Are humans causing it? In conjunction with natural other occurrence most likely yes. Will it result in tidal waves demolishing New York City? Highly unlikely and absolutely no viable studies can point to that. At all.

    We can't even fucking predict the weather next week. We have no idea what the results of global warming will be in 100 years. People who claim they know are lying and not using science to come to their conclusions, but rather hysteria.

    So instead of taxes or carbon credits or cap trade or other destructive behavior we should simply take a wait and see approach. The byproduct of not polluting may impact this in a healthy way regardless. Drastically destroying the world economy even further because some hippies think we're gonna murder all the penguins and then graduate to steroid el nino is fucking asinine.

    This isn't predicting weather it will rain in your area or not next week. This is like predicting if it will rain somewhere on the earth ever in the future. It doesn't take a genious to figure out that a rise in temperature will melt some ice, which will in turn raise the level of water.

    This isn't about tidal waves destroying New York, it is about the city being slowly submerged in water. They already have to pump 24 hours a day to keep Manhattan dry. The Maldives are going to simply cease to exist, with a slight rise in water level.

    We know we have some control over the climate, if we can stop this we should. How much do you think it will cost to build new buildings to replace the ones simply on Manhattan? Now imagine how much it will cost to replace, rebuild, fix buildings or to relocate people. The price we would pay with a tax on the people who cause the problem is assuredly significantly less than the price everyone will pay if we do nothing.

    You haven't given me a reason to steer clear of you!
  • GlorfindelGlorfindel Registered User
    edited April 2009
    KevinNash wrote: »

    TL,DR: What should we do about global warming?


    Absolutely nothing until we have definitive proof that it will cause catastrophe.

    Is it happening? Yes. Are humans causing it? In conjunction with natural other occurrence most likely yes. Will it result in tidal waves demolishing New York City? Highly unlikely and absolutely no viable studies can point to that. At all.

    We can't even fucking predict the weather next week. We have no idea what the results of global warming will be in 100 years. People who claim they know are lying and not using science to come to their conclusions, but rather hysteria.

    So instead of taxes or carbon credits or cap trade or other destructive behavior we should simply take a wait and see approach. The byproduct of not polluting may impact this in a healthy way regardless. Drastically destroying the world economy even further because some hippies think we're gonna murder all the penguins and then graduate to steroid el nino is fucking asinine.

    Think of it as an insurance policy - a carbon tax is a regular insurance policy paid out by society to cover the event that climate does actually result in some really bad shit going down.

    Note, I believe that climate change is a genuine problem that needs to be addressed. Business cannot, or will not, address on their own either, so government is needed to step in and correct a market failure to address an externality.

  • KevinNashKevinNash Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Glorfindel wrote: »
    KevinNash wrote: »

    TL,DR: What should we do about global warming?


    Absolutely nothing until we have definitive proof that it will cause catastrophe.

    Is it happening? Yes. Are humans causing it? In conjunction with natural other occurrence most likely yes. Will it result in tidal waves demolishing New York City? Highly unlikely and absolutely no viable studies can point to that. At all.

    We can't even fucking predict the weather next week. We have no idea what the results of global warming will be in 100 years. People who claim they know are lying and not using science to come to their conclusions, but rather hysteria.

    So instead of taxes or carbon credits or cap trade or other destructive behavior we should simply take a wait and see approach. The byproduct of not polluting may impact this in a healthy way regardless. Drastically destroying the world economy even further because some hippies think we're gonna murder all the penguins and then graduate to steroid el nino is fucking asinine.

    Think of it as an insurance policy - a carbon tax is a regular insurance policy paid out by society to cover the event that climate does actually result in some really bad shit going down.

    Usually you make insurance decisions based on data of past occurrences and can justify the cost. This isn't equivalent to that since we're basing this very hefty price tag on something that has a microscopic chance of happening.
    Note, I believe that climate change is a genuine problem that needs to be addressed. Business cannot, or will not, address on their own either, so government is needed to step in and correct a market failure to address an externality.

    There isn't a problem though. At least not yet. There are certainly symptoms of climate change but they aren't necessarily problematic, at least not as far as human existence is concerned. If they become problematic sometime in the future then maybe they will be addressed by technological advances or the market.

    Government loves to fix problems that don't actually exist. This is yet another example of that.

  • AzioAzio Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Why should we believe you are qualified to make these pronouncements in direct contradiction to 97 percent of climatologists

    The fact that you don't know that there is a difference between predicting next week's weather (meteorology) and studying weather patterns in terms of averages over long periods of time (climatology) doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

    I am also seeing no evidence that carbon taxes would cause remotely the same amount of suffering as the water shortages, famine, and mass ecological disaster that will have to occur before "the market" decides to do anything about it.

  • GlorfindelGlorfindel Registered User
    edited April 2009
    KevinNash wrote: »
    Glorfindel wrote: »
    KevinNash wrote: »

    TL,DR: What should we do about global warming?


    Absolutely nothing until we have definitive proof that it will cause catastrophe.

    Is it happening? Yes. Are humans causing it? In conjunction with natural other occurrence most likely yes. Will it result in tidal waves demolishing New York City? Highly unlikely and absolutely no viable studies can point to that. At all.

    We can't even fucking predict the weather next week. We have no idea what the results of global warming will be in 100 years. People who claim they know are lying and not using science to come to their conclusions, but rather hysteria.

    So instead of taxes or carbon credits or cap trade or other destructive behavior we should simply take a wait and see approach. The byproduct of not polluting may impact this in a healthy way regardless. Drastically destroying the world economy even further because some hippies think we're gonna murder all the penguins and then graduate to steroid el nino is fucking asinine.

    Think of it as an insurance policy - a carbon tax is a regular insurance policy paid out by society to cover the event that climate does actually result in some really bad shit going down.

    Usually you make insurance decisions based on data of past occurrences and can justify the cost. This isn't equivalent to that since we're basing this very hefty price tag on something that has a microscopic chance of happening.
    Note, I believe that climate change is a genuine problem that needs to be addressed. Business cannot, or will not, address on their own either, so government is needed to step in and correct a market failure to address an externality.

    There isn't a problem though. At least not yet. There are certainly symptoms of climate change but they aren't necessarily problematic, at least not as far as human existence is concerned. If they become problematic sometime in the future then maybe they will be addressed by technological advances or the market.

    Government loves to fix problems that don't actually exist. This is yet another example of that.

    Insurance may based on historical and statistical analysis, but that is what the science behind climate change is utilises, in conjunction with further study. The debate as to whether climate change is a bad thing should be over - accept it and move on. Even so, accept the global consensus that something needs to be done and support the lesser of what you perceive as to be two evils - a market-orientated solution or heavy-handed intervention.

    There is also the fact that corporations cannot (or will not) simply think that far ahead and adjust accordingly. Or, when the dire consequences are realised, the market cannot react quickly enough to mitigate those consequences.

  • His CorkinessHis Corkiness Registered User
    edited April 2009
    The market is perfect, you guys. Stop saying it isn't.

  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Azio wrote: »
    Why should we believe you are qualified to make these pronouncements in direct contradiction to 97 percent of climatologists

    The fact that you don't know that there is a difference between predicting next week's weather (meteorology) and studying weather patterns in terms of averages over long periods of time (climatology) doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

    I am also seeing no evidence that carbon taxes would cause remotely the same amount of suffering as the water shortages, famine, and mass ecological disaster that will have to occur before "the market" decides to do anything about it.

    you can see into the future?

    /da

  • Venkman90Venkman90 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I don't profess to know nearly enough about this, but my friend is the editor of an commercial enviromental magazine, I might ask him.

    He did say a while back that when he met guys at Land Rover, Shell and a few others that they are taking this seriously, but will they (and the hundreds of other companies) do enough in time seems to be the question.

  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    Azio wrote: »
    Why should we believe you are qualified to make these pronouncements in direct contradiction to 97 percent of climatologists

    The fact that you don't know that there is a difference between predicting next week's weather (meteorology) and studying weather patterns in terms of averages over long periods of time (climatology) doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

    I am also seeing no evidence that carbon taxes would cause remotely the same amount of suffering as the water shortages, famine, and mass ecological disaster that will have to occur before "the market" decides to do anything about it.

    you can see into the future?

    /da

    Seriously, though, I'm pretty sure that nowhere near the above mentioned 97% of climatologists believe that such a doomsday scenario is likely. There's quite a bit of a leap from "Global warming is occurring, and human activities have something to do with it", to "water shortages, famine, and mass ecological disaster".

    currently playing LoL: Polymath
    a fading melody - my indie platformer for the xbox 360
  • ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2009
    Wasn't there some study a while back that found that Glaciers had actually not melted as much as scientists thought and some of them actually froze back or something?

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