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Sun Jan 13, 2013, 02:36 PM

New Federal Report: Climate Change Is Really, Really Scary

Say what you want about the Obama administration's relative ignoring of climate issues: Many of his top scientists are paying rapt attention, and they think we're about to get our butts kicked—although dumping the news at 4 p.m. on a Friday gives some indication of where it sits in federal priorities.

The National Climate Assessment is produced by the US Global Change Research Program, which is tasked with collating climate research from a wide variety of federal agencies and, every few years, distilling it into one major report. The latest, a first draft, is the third such report (the last was in 2009), product of a 1990 law that requires the White House to produce semi-regular updates on climate science to Congress. Today's report echoes the themes of earlier editions, and paints a picture that is all the more grim for being an unsurprising confirmation of the dangers we've come to know all too well. Here's the top six things for you to worry about this weekend, according to the report:

1. Climate change is definitely caused by human activities. Always nice to hear government officials acknowledge this essential fact. And the report concedes that our only hope of curbing warming is to kick our addiction to greenhouse-gas spewing fossil fuels.

2. Extreme weather is increasing, and that's our fault, too. In particular, searing temperatures, heavy rain, and prolonged drought.

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/01/new-federal-climate-report-gear-walloping


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Reply New Federal Report: Climate Change Is Really, Really Scary (Original post)
XemaSab Jan 2013 OP
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #1
postulater Jan 2013 #2
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #4
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #8
napoleon_in_rags Jan 2013 #5
roguevalley Jan 2013 #9
dixiegrrrrl Jan 2013 #3
nilram Jan 2013 #6
pscot Jan 2013 #7
Nederland Jan 2013 #10
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #11
NYC_SKP Jan 2013 #12

Response to XemaSab (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 03:00 PM

1. I've been reading a lot of books about ancient history lately

 

and there's one thing those ancient people, from all corners of the globe, knew that we modern first-world people don't know. They knew, in a very immeidate and hard-edged way, the reality of the danger of starvation. There are places in the world were the people still know that, but here, in our insulated world, cushioned as we are from the effects of nature, we have no idea whatsoever just how close to starvation people always are, and always have been, and always will be. We don't notice it as much in today's world, but everything we do revolves around finding and securing our next meal.

Large empires had built-in safeguards against short-term drought and local disasters. The Roman empire drew its food from all over Europe and Africa, so a couple years of drought in one place was hardly noticed. But when the growing zones shifted and the weather turned drier for a few decades, the Roman way of farming ceased to work, and even the mighty empire knew hunger.

With climate change we will see growing conditions change all over the globe, and people who never gave a thought to where the next meal would come from will start to hear their stomach rumbling. And what will happen then is what has always happened throughout recorded history and even long before. Hungry people will do what they need to do for food. They cross borders, in spite of armies trying to hold them back. They topple governments. They raid storage facilities. They kill their neighbors for their grain and livestock. They band together under strong local warlords and gang leaders to fight nearby warlords and gang leaders over whatever food and water is available. And after many decades of social and political chaos, they die in huge numbers. And the remaining few disperse into the surrounding countryside to set themselves up as subsistence farmers again until the weather shifts once more and they can start a whole new round of empire building.

What we are experiencing, and what we will experience in the immediate future is nothing unusual. It's chaos of the most ordinary kind. The only differences being that we have farther to fall from our lofty technological peak, and it is affecting the whole planet at the same time. (Although that will not matter much as the world becomes intensely local, and increasingly structured around the tribe/gang.)

I know a lot of people have idle dreams of some "sustainable utopia" after the fall, but history exposes that fantasy for what it is. After the fall is about violent tribal warlords. It always has been, no matter where or when in the world you look, and it always will be.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 03:49 PM

2. And that's why all the Mad Max reruns lately.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 04:13 PM

4. Well whats your suggestion?

 

Join the warlords? Have their violence and subjegation subsidize your lifestyle, standing tall on the backs of those they raid and keep down? How much different is that from where we are today living in the first world?

How things play out depends on how quick the dropoff might be IMO. If human population declines slowly, people will be fighting for resources until some type of stasis is established. If famine hits hard and quick, there may be a time of surplus to go around for the surviving members where some regions could potentially organize without external threats. Whatever happens, it will be regional and dynamic. On average, it might be worse than living in middle-class America. It might be better than living in the ghetto.

Too many people want to ignore the current plight of the poor and the third world. Things are in fact very miserable for most humans. Chaos isn't guaranteed to (post a starvation event) multiply that misery any more. Basically, its only a scary thing if you are living it up right now (in which case, joining or starting a violent gang may be suitable).

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #4)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 06:25 PM

8. "until some type of stasis is established"

 

You're right. The chaos is only temporary. Stasis usually returns in just a dozen generations or so.

But then that stasis is also temporary. Frequently the stasis lasts a hundred years (3 or 4 generations) and, rarely, it lasts 1000 years (30 or 40 generations). But it always gives way to more flux and instability. Civilizations that vanish "suddenly" often take 200 years or more to "suddenly" disappear.

The bottom line is, conditions are never stable for very long. But they remain virtually unchanged over the period of one or two human lifetimes, so the average person never sees any significant change. So, unlike a skillfully edited movie, nobody is born into the height of the empire, lives through it's crash, and survives long enough to see a new order take its place. Great grandfather was born in the height of empire, great grandson and his great grandson thought it seemed that "things are a little worse now than when I was young," and great-great grandson's children took the beginnings of the new order for granted because they were born into it.

That being the case, planning for "the future" is futile. We don't know what that future will be, or how soon it will arrive. Sustainable farming is fine if the climate continues to support it. But it won't. Even in the hundreds of centuries before "climate change" there was climate change. People who build their little self-supporting eco-communities may find, like the farmers of dozens of cultures before stretching back tens of thousands of years, that the way they do farming just doesn't work under changing climate conditions. In other words, perma-culture is NOT "perma" at all. Succession is at work continuously. Grasslands are always in the process of becoming forests, and forests are always in the process of becoming deserts, and deserts are always in the process of becoming grasslands, or vice-versa, or in some different order depending on local conditions and changing climate. Nothing is "perma" in this world.

So the only planning that makes sense is this: "Plan to be flexible. Learn to be versatile." If you want to teach your children how to survive, teach them how to get their food from many different diverse sources under many different and changing conditions. How to plant wheat when the weather is right, and how to fall back on acorns when the weather isn't good for wheat. How to fish when the crops fail, and how to hunt when the fish don't show. How to hunt squirrels when the deer disappear, and how to survive on grubs and termites when larger game is scarce. The one constant throughout all time is that the cultures that had only one major source of food are the cultures that perished when the climate shifted. Versatile cultures survived, even of they didn't always prosper. But rarely did they starve.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 05:08 PM

5. Famine is what the right wing preppers often forget/underestimate.

Some talk about guns, and Mao's dead millions. But the dead millions were the result of a failed agricultural policy that resulted in famine:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward#Famine
What do you do with the guns when there is simply no food?

The smartest preppers I've seen are the one's developing alternative, sustainable agriculture. Especially the kind that can operate in weird climates like deserts or cold.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 11:01 PM

9. its raining here in alaska on our four feet of snow. if you live in lowlands, prepare to

drown. seriously.

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Response to XemaSab (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 04:13 PM

3. "and military installations are at risk."

Ok..THAT'LL get some action , don'tcha think?

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Response to XemaSab (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 05:17 PM

6. dumping the news at 4pm on a Friday means, imho, they don't want the public to notice it

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Response to nilram (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 05:37 PM

7. No worries there

At least not yet. Give it 3 or 4 more years.

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Response to XemaSab (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 11:31 PM

10. To me that sounds like an Onion headline (nt)

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Response to Nederland (Reply #10)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 11:48 PM

11. Would you prefer "terrifying" or "catastrophic"?

 

Maybe they were trying to walk on eggshells and dumb it down. Write a letter to the editor.

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Response to XemaSab (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 08:56 PM

12. K/R (nt)

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