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Wed Jan 30, 2013, 09:49 AM

Could we stop or reverse global warming without substantially reducing our standard of living

in the US?
31 votes, 0 passes | Time left: Unlimited
Totally
8 (26%)
Probably
3 (10%)
Maybe
1 (3%)
Probably not
11 (35%)
Totally not
5 (16%)
Definitely not and frankly we need some serious reductions in population as well.
3 (10%)
If only we could stop or reverse bullshit polls!
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Reply Could we stop or reverse global warming without substantially reducing our standard of living (Original post)
el_bryanto Jan 2013 OP
kentauros Jan 2013 #1
bemildred Jan 2013 #2
el_bryanto Jan 2013 #4
bemildred Jan 2013 #22
FrodosPet Jan 2013 #30
bemildred Jan 2013 #35
FSogol Jan 2013 #3
earthside Jan 2013 #5
KurtNYC Jan 2013 #6
el_bryanto Jan 2013 #7
KurtNYC Jan 2013 #9
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #32
HappyMe Jan 2013 #8
mn9driver Jan 2013 #10
Motown_Johnny Jan 2013 #11
mn9driver Jan 2013 #15
Johonny Jan 2013 #23
hogwyld Jan 2013 #12
leftstreet Jan 2013 #13
Fire Walk With Me Jan 2013 #14
PLARS1999 Jan 2013 #16
Tikki Jan 2013 #17
Fire Walk With Me Jan 2013 #19
pampango Jan 2013 #18
whatchamacallit Jan 2013 #20
Manifestor_of_Light Jan 2013 #21
raouldukelives Jan 2013 #24
Yo_Mama Jan 2013 #25
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #31
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #26
limpyhobbler Jan 2013 #27
RedCappedBandit Jan 2013 #28
limpyhobbler Jan 2013 #29
rightsideout Jan 2013 #33
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #34

Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 09:53 AM

1. Everything major happens by transition,

including our "standard" of living.

There is some interesting technology out there right now, and fusion is closer to being viable than most people know.

I suspect I'll be in the minority here, but I'm not an alarmist or "disasterbater". I'd much rather have a positive outlook than be depressed all the time

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 09:55 AM

2. The alternative is not merely a reduced standard of living (whatever that means).

Another SUV? I can give that up.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 10:20 AM

4. Well i think what it means is say the ability to eat fruits and vegetables in winter

that requires a lot of petroleum products to move them around. Just as one example.

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 07:12 PM

22. That's a good example of the problem.

Although rail and water can be very cheap energy-wise for freight, much better than you or me going to the store.

And the packaging and all the marketing crap, a lot of that can go.

And older methods of preservation could come back into style, as opposed to canned, frozen, and processed to mush like we have today.

And cooking could come back into style too, you really miss out when you don't cook for yourself.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #22)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:49 PM

30. If my ex roomate hadn't cooked chili for herself.

She would have missed out on the chance to meet some nice fire fighters, police officers, and the maintenance man. And tomorrow, she is going to meet with some nice people at the local homeless shelter.

Fortunately, no fire or soot damage to the apartment, but I have a new front door, which I am sure they are going to WAY overcharge me for replacing.

It's really driving home the fact that the more I try to help people, the more it costs me in terms of keeping a roof over my head and a couple dollars in my pocket. I am really starting to believe that helping others is for professionals and the government, not individuals.

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Response to FrodosPet (Reply #30)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 08:43 AM

35. Oh hey, don't give up just because of one bad experience. nt

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 09:57 AM

3. As an engineer, I believe it is possible. We could make changes, but

doubt we will. As Vonnegut said, "Earth: We could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and too damn lazy."

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 10:22 AM

5. Keystone Pipeline

A prime example.

It will be built.

The negative impacts on climate change of the mining of tar sands in Canada is close to incalculable.

Fly across the country to gamble in Los Vegas or visit grandma or have a two hour business meeting, using tons of fossil fuels ... Americans are just not going to be able to say no.

We'll resist and stay in a state of denial about fossil fuels and climate change until the "last dog is hung" ... so to speak.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 10:27 AM

6. we "could" but we aren't

Big oil runs the show.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 10:31 AM

7. So your contention is that the we could reduce our dependence on oil without significantly

making our quality of life worse? But we won't because oil does have al ot of power (which is hard to argue with).

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #7)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 10:40 AM

9. I think our standard of living has been steadily declining since about 1978 or so.

Life expectancy, hours worked, access to healthcare, access to clean water, quality of education, public support for the Arts -- these things don't depend on oil but all are trending negatively.

We have alternative energy sources but they are being deployed very slowly. We are also making progress toward more efficiency in appliances and vehicles but we add more energy-uses so there is no net gain.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #9)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:59 PM

32. It doesn't matter how much green energy sources are deployed

 

As long as emissions continue to rise, our goose it cooked. That is all that matters, and we are still building coal plants around the world (us coal exports are surging).

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 10:35 AM

8. I think it's entirely possible.

I'm no scientist or engineer, so I leave the 'how' up to the people that know.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 11:26 AM

10. Hydrogen

Everything we do today where we need a lot of mobile, stored energy can in principle be done with hydrogen. Cars, aircraft, home heating, everything. The problem is that separating and storing the hydrogen takes power. A lot of power. We would need to put a lot more effort into solar/wind/ hydro power generation in order to make it work since generating the needed electricity with carbon based fuel would totally defeat the purpose.

In the spirit of "even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then", Dick Cheney admitted this was the only long term solution to human energy needs a few years back. Unfortunately, he thought that nuclear power generation was the solution, which we know isn't practical or even remotely safe using current technology.

Of course, if we ever break the code on battery technology we could be a lot more efficient and cut out the hydrogen middle man. So far, we're not there.

And that leaves the problem of just the current CO2 levels in the atmosphere which are on track to produce more warming in the years to come, even if we stopped pumping more out today. We may very well have already passed the tipping point; the Greenland melt data gives me very little hope that we haven't already.

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Response to mn9driver (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:16 PM

11. Where do you get the Hydrogen from?

Natural Gas? All you are doing is adding a step, which requires energy, to remove the carbon before it is burned. No difference, other than requiring more energy.

Electrolysis? This is extremely inefficient. You are roughly tripling your energy usage by using electricity to separate the H from the O. It is a good way to store energy when you have an excess of solar or wind power, but only because you don't lose 100% of it.


Boron? There is not enough of it to make it worth exploiting on a large scale. It is also costly to mine and process.


Solar, wind and hydro are the only reasonable alternative sources of energy. Hydrogen is not an answer, other than being a way to store a portion of the extra power from other sources.

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Response to Motown_Johnny (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:52 PM

15. Ummm. I'm pretty sure I made the problems clear in my post.

Solar powered cars, airplanes, etc. are not practical with current tech. Hydrogen is transportable, non carbon based energy. Better batteries would work, too. As I said pretty clearly.

edited to add body instead of just title.

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Response to mn9driver (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 07:52 PM

23. I think methane or other hydrocarbons still likely

hydrogen is generally a pain to store and transport. We are getting better and better at making hydrocarbons and fuel cells that run on methane should be available. That said there are some pretty cool hydrogen fuel cells out there these days. I'm not sold on the hydrogen economy though. I think hydrocarbons have a long track record and really can be incorporated more readily into most societies. The trick is to not use sequestered hydrocarbons but those generated from the CO2 in the air. Which many companies are working on, although their stock prices would indicate it isn't at all a mature process.

Once again oil, natural gas, a lithium battery, hydrogen or man made hydrocarbons are all the same thing. They are all energy storage devices that ultimately get their main energy from the sun. This is always going to be true unless fusion is finally conquered as a mature technology. The trick humans need to do is to stop using sequestered carbon and run on more modern energy storage devices. How rapidly we incorporate this technology is how different we live in the future. One thing is for sure, if human continue the current use rate of sequestered hydrocarbons the standard of living of those in the future is clearly going way down.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:22 PM

12. The only way to stop or reverse global warming

Is when we are past the tipping point (which I personally think we are) and the planet bites back, HARD. When the dust settles, and humanity is "reset" at around 1.5 - 2 billion, then the planet can begin to heal again.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:34 PM

13. The 'standard of living' for most people already sucks n/t

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:42 PM

14. It now appears to be a matter of adapting to, not stopping climate change. GROW FOOD.

 

Personal and community gardens are imperative. Grow food, not lawns!

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Response to Fire Walk With Me (Reply #14)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:27 PM

16. I hate mowing grass but there is a great sense of satisfaction

when I finish weeding my tomato patch. My vegetables taste better that what I can buy in the store and they didn't have to burn fuel all the way from CA to get in my fridge. And it's cheap.

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Response to PLARS1999 (Reply #16)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:31 PM

17. Hey PLARS1999...Welcome to DU..

...great to hear..

Everything we do to try to help is a role model to generations to come.


Tikki

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Response to PLARS1999 (Reply #16)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:39 PM

19. True! And welcome to DU!

 

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:38 PM

18. COULD we do it. No doubt. Europeans live a much more environment-friendly life style.

They may have smaller houses and smaller, fewer cars, more public transportation. Does that represent a 'reduction' in a standard of living?

Unfortunately, I see no sign that Americans in general have any intention of giving up on the idea of 'larger/more is better'. I voted that we definitely COULD, but in reality I'm skeptical that we will.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:43 PM

20. Our standard of living will soon be substantially reduced for us

by our failure to act.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 02:50 PM

21. People literally die without air conditioning.

In high humidity in the South, which covers a lot of territory.

People in dry climates who use swamp coolers don't often realize that air conditioning is essential to take the water out of the air.

If there is no evaporation of sweat to cool the body, due to high humidity, then there is no cooling.

I grew up in Houston in a shitty post-war suburbia tract house with a couple of inadequate window units. Many nights it was too hot to sleep. It was 85 to 90 degrees at night with 100% humidity.

There IS NO night time cooling when the humidity is high.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:33 PM

24. Doubtful. But every small sacrifice we make now significantly raises the SOL for our descendants.

Just depends on which people we care more about and what sacrifices we could make. We are so absurdly wasteful even some minor inconveniences for us could add up to a lot in the long run.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:40 PM

25. We can't even stop CO2 rises

Because the first world already has, and the increased CO2 emissions are coming from countries like China, which we cannot control.

So the "living standard" is a red herring. We have no ability to affect CO2-generated climate changes.

In 2006, China's CO2 emissions passed those of the US:
http://www.pbl.nl/en/dossiers/Climatechange/moreinfo/Chinanowno1inCO2emissionsUSAinsecondposition

It's not slowing down:
https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=en_atm_co2e_pc&idim=country:CHN&dl=en&hl=en&q=chinese%20co2%20emissions

Instead it is speeding up:
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/12/02/climate-emissions-india-china-idINDEE8B107B20121202
China's carbon emissions grew 9.9 percent in 2011 after rising 10.4 percent in 2010 and now comprise 28 percent of all CO2 pollution compared with 16 percent for the United States.

India's emissions grew 7.5 percent last year versus 9.4 percent growth in 2010, while emissions in the United States and the European Union fell 1.8 percent and 2.8 respectively in 2011.


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Response to Yo_Mama (Reply #25)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:57 PM

31. Thats important for people to understand

 

This isn't "if". Its going to happen, barring us successfully poisoning the atmosphere with sulphates to mitigate the warming. Once you understand it will happen, priorities should change to making sure each region has its own access to water and local food, healthcare, etc. Until people understand this, we are wasting precious resources and ignoring an impending bottleneck. Let's stop pretending our lofty political rhetoric of technology will save us from what is shaping out to be a catastrophe and future of famine.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:42 PM

26. By killing off 7 billion people yearning to emit like us, yes

 

Otherwise, we must emit no more than the average Zimbabwe resident immediately (to avoid worse-case climate scenarios).

So...what's it going to be?

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:43 PM

27. Runaway global warming will reduce our standard of living.

We need to switch to clean energy, conserve energy, and also adapt.

At this point we can't stop climate change, but we may still soften the impact of the transition if we act now.

In a sense, it's not a question of reducing our standard of living, but rather a question of survival.

There is going to be a transition to a different form of technology and organization. The question is will it be relatively smooth and orderly? Or will it be more chaotic and catastrophic?

The government policies are the problem right now because they seem to be taking orders directly from the coal, oil, and gas companies.

Please bring this up with your elected representatives right away.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:45 PM

28. Sure. Let's just redifine what constitutes a desirable standard of living.

Frankly, there's no need to be nearly as materialistic and greedy as we are. Our society overall is engineered to be wasteful. Short term profits above all else. Excessive consumerism and so on.

I say this knowing very well that most of us are a part of the problem, myself very much included. Don't mean to sound like I'm on a high horse or anything.

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Response to RedCappedBandit (Reply #28)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:49 PM

29. right

A better question would be "Can we maintain a decent standard of living without confronting global warming?" And the answer would be no we can't.

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Response to el_bryanto (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 09:15 PM

33. Of course we can

The technology exists. It's just that the status quo is run and influenced by the carbon industry.

Clean energy is not only clean, it's efficient and "saves" money. Yes, it save's money.

We have a solar powered house with a 5.8 kW array which produces, on average, 70 percent of our electricity. The rest of our electricity comes from wind which we signed up for through our utility.

My wife drives a Prius and I drive an electric Ford Escort. Our carbon fuel bills are way, way down and there has been no change in our lifestyle. If we need to go on a long trip, we use the Prius which has a best MPG of 64. I also have an electric GE garden tractor. My tractor and electric car can be charged during the day when the solar panels are pumping out the electrons. No CO2 is burned to charge the car so no coal burning plants are needed to charge it.

I can't even venture to guess how many tons, yes tons, of CO2 our lifestyle has prevented from getting into the atmosphere. If you multiply our efforts by the millions worldwide you wouldn't need to build more coal burning plants which account for most of the pollution and CO2.

Of course, jets need carbon based fuel but I've been to transportation workshops where there are efforts to make jet fuel more efficient and with less emissions.

It's all about efficiency.





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Response to rightsideout (Reply #33)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 12:07 AM

34. The problem with these green promises is people think we have a handle on this

 

Or that we can get a handle on this. This encourages people to be passive. This perpetuates the myth we do not need to change our habits or our economy.

The reality is that we have a carbon budget to avoid catastrophe of about 565 gigatons of CO2 between now and 2050. At the current rate, we will set the stage for our demise in under 2 decades without factoring in 3-5% growth in emissions.

So, how are we going to take your lifestyle and "green" it, along with billions of clamouring coal-burning third-worlders, while reducing emissions simultaneously (which we still aren't doing)? Everyone in China wants a car too. Can we give them a Prius and all the wonderful green panels to power them? Can we replace a billion cars in the world, make another billion for developing nations, and feasible bring down emissions?

Did you know that it takes 8.8 tons of CO2 to make a hybrid, and another 3.8 tonnes every time you need your battery replaced (in other words, your carbon-saving lifestyle actually increased emissions compared to using an existing conventional automobile). Further, you had to work a job and consume energy to accumulate the capital to purchase these cars. The people building them accumulated wealth, and the economy grew (with tangential multiplying outward), and this correlates to actual higher velocity of energy in the system. And while we pay down this carbon debt with green energy while shutting down coal plants, we export 125 million short tonnes of coal to China to burn in one of the 7 new coal plants them and India build a week.

So, no. Technology isn't magically going to buck its past trend of accelerating the velocity of energy in the system, and its not going to magically cause us to save ourselves before our "carbon budget" is spent. Frankly, it can't. Its too late for it. There are too many people. Those people want to much of the stuff technology gave us. Those people need to build an entire infrastructure to get it. And to those people, they don't mind burning the coal we grow sick of.

So lets get our heads out of the sand and wake up already. Its time to get our ducks in a row and figure out what our priorities are, so we are prepared to meet our fate when the famine comes, grovel for a corporation that will feed us, or build regional resilience that will ensure independence & viability in the face of a catastrophe.

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