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Wed Nov 4, 2015, 07:35 AM

"Why We Can Be Hopeful About Climate Change" (Slate)

Why We Can Be Hopeful About Climate Change
November 3, 2015
by Eric Holthaus
Slate, Science

This month, world leaders will gather in Paris to negotiate the future of our planet’s atmosphere. Putting it that way may seem like overstating the meeting’s importance, but that’s exactly what they’ll be doing. On the table is the first-ever global agreement on climate change, and some media reports are playing up the sense of optimism in the air. And it’s true: There are a few very good reasons for hope....

Reducing emissions quickly is the best solution, but after decades of delay, it’s getting really, really hard to make the numbers work. That’s why I’ve been really pessimistic about humanity’s chances of preventing a worst-case climate change scenario for a while now.

I mean, really pessimistic. In a recent article in Rolling Stone, I made the case that it may already be too late to prevent the loss of critical biodiversity in the world’s oceans, with devastating consequences for all of us. Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a global coral bleaching event that’s on its way to becoming the worst in history. A recent study into the value of the “ecosystem services” provided by coral reefs—a heartbreakingly wonky way of saying that people’s lives depend on them—found that reefs, which support a quarter of all marine life, were third only to Earth’s forests and fresh water supply in terms of importance to humanity. Nearer-term impacts of climate change such as these are probably already unavoidable, and in some cases, the longer-term viability of cities and ecosystems is still very much in question.

........The blunt fact is that the world has done less than nothing to tackle climate change since it became a political issue in the 1990s: Global emissions have actually risen 40 percent since the previous international climate treaty in 1997 and very likely will keep rising until at least 2030 no matter what happens in Paris.

So, where’s the hope?

.........Snip...........The U.N.’s own assessment of all the pledges, released last week, framed the remaining challenge most accurately: We’re definitely seeing a slow down of emissions growth, but no peak yet. That means we’re still going to be making the problem considerably worse for the foreseeable future, just not as bad as we could have. So, um, yay!

While most close climate watchers—myself included—have bemoaned the fact that the 2-degree goal is probably no longer possible, there’s a huge achievement on the horizon in Paris that’s clearly worth a victory dance: The nightmare worst-case scenario, in which the planet warms by 4.5 degrees or more, is now likely off the table.....

Read in full~
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/11/paris_pledges_will_avoid_worst_case_climate_change_scenario.html


( Meanwhile Americans Largely Unconcerned About Climate Change )


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Arrow 20 replies Author Time Post
Reply "Why We Can Be Hopeful About Climate Change" (Slate) (Original post)
RiverLover Nov 2015 OP
sue4e3 Nov 2015 #1
GliderGuider Nov 2015 #2
RiverLover Nov 2015 #3
GliderGuider Nov 2015 #9
RiverLover Nov 2015 #15
GliderGuider Nov 2015 #18
RiverLover Nov 2015 #19
GliderGuider Nov 2015 #20
RiverLover Nov 2015 #16
sue4e3 Nov 2015 #6
sue4e3 Nov 2015 #7
GliderGuider Nov 2015 #8
sue4e3 Nov 2015 #10
GliderGuider Nov 2015 #11
sue4e3 Nov 2015 #12
GliderGuider Nov 2015 #13
sue4e3 Nov 2015 #14
GliderGuider Nov 2015 #17
hatrack Nov 2015 #4
RiverLover Nov 2015 #5

Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 08:28 AM

1. No Matter, Thank You for the Post

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 08:51 AM

2. According to David Wasdell, the 4.5C nightmare isn't off the table at all, but is already baked in.

 

It all depends on what the real climate system sensitivity turns out to be.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 08:55 AM

3. Yes, we need to give up & feel really guilty too.

I love your posts, GG.

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Response to RiverLover (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 11:12 AM

9. That would be a totally wrong-headed response to the things I post.

 

Given what the future apparently holds, I'm a strong advocate of doing whatever we can to make the world of the present a better place, and also discarding blame and guilt as the corrosive psychological poisons they are. All while acknowledging and accepting the reality of what we have already done, and the thermodynamic probability of what is to come.

I think that if we tell ourselves stories about our situation, we are less likely to follow either of the approaches I support. The more honest and realistic we are - even if that realism is very, very bitter - the better equipped we will be. To me it seems to be part and parcel of growing up.

$0.02

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #9)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 01:49 PM

15. What are the approaches you support? I've only seen posts to make fun of us re: renewables & their

uselessness(in your world) or posts to try to make us feel guilty for things like using the internet.

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Response to RiverLover (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 02:41 PM

18. Thaks for asking! Approaches I support include:

 

» Science in general, especially ecology and complex systems;
» Zero population growth;
» Reducing energy use and material consumption (to as close to zero as possible);
» Building strong, small communities, either self-contained communities or tight groups of close friends;
» Cooperation rather than competition;
» Inclusiveness, including multiculturalism;
» Sharing;
» Kindness;
» Rejecting all authority;
» Ahimsa (non-violence);
» Meditation, especially the style called Vipassana;
» Questioning beliefs;
» Discarding as many beliefs as possible;
» Power-with not power-over;
» Gratitude;
» Love of all kinds - the Greeks named them Eros, Agape, Philia and Storge;

The reason you haven't seen me talk about these approaches is that this is a board dedicated to energy and the environment, and most of the things I think we ought to be doing in the face of ecological catastrophe have nothing to do with energy use, environmentalism as it's commonly understood, or even stopping the catastrophe itself. They are a response to the crisis, not solutions to it.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #18)

Thu Nov 5, 2015, 07:55 AM

19. You wrote "...we are less likely to follow either of the approaches I support."

What are the two approaches you believe may save sustainable life by fighting climate change?

And whatever they are, are they feasible?

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Response to RiverLover (Reply #19)

Thu Nov 5, 2015, 07:57 AM

20. Those would be... (a more fulsome explanation of my position)

 

Last edited Thu Nov 5, 2015, 08:30 AM - Edit history (1)

Those two approaches I referred to are stopping all fossil fuel use immediately, and cutting birth rates by 90% until the world population has declined to under 50 million.

And no, they are not feasible. There is no way to "save" sustainable human life, because human activity by its very expansionist nature is enormously unsustainable. IMO we are already 10,000 times or more into overshoot, counting our population and activity levels.

Here's an article I wrote a couple of years ago that lays out the scientific background to my thinking:
No really, how sustainable are we?

That's why I recommend the list of approaches in my previous post rather than the two I give above. They are essentially personal and aimed at living a good, just, ethical, connected life, not saving the world. The world can't be saved.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #9)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 01:57 PM

16. Unless you mean population control & an end to capitalism (& the internet)?

Hopefully you support more realistic solutions than these & I'm wrong.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 09:19 AM

6. you do realize your singing to the choir right would you feel better if we all just chanted

Yes We are all going to die

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 10:13 AM

7. did it ever occur to you that perhaps you should stay off the nicer posts (and every one knows what

I'm talking about )First , I want you to know that your one of the people that make this sight , one stop shopping for me. I don't have to go digging around for the worst , to know what's going on , because you'll put it here. For that thank you. I've worked with hospice when I was young. It taught me alot about human nature and I believe you believe that the human race is going to die from global warming ( the end of the world ) and much sooner than our great grand kids.People who are dieing do all sorts of things. I don't know you past your posts but it seems your spreading a little more than truth with your posts, misery (because it loves company) or your looking for some one to say or do something to make you feel better. Any one here picked the wrong topic for the latter because at some point it ends badly for the human race. The only light is no one knows when and which mechanism. The reason I said what I opened with is because I feel very similar to how I think you feel. I didn't feel that way 15-20 years ago when I had children. I can't picture them not here so if I could go back to being a sheep and not knowing a thing about climate change I would in a heart beat. I can't prove my intellect here, all i can tell you is I am not an idiot and I generally do not take the head in the sand approach . For the most part, I thrive on the truth. I can't describe to you the personal little hell it is to smile and lie to my children when they want to discuss their future lives ,wives and children. They know I do not want them to have kids. I don't think they fully understand why. My youngest doesn't. If I wish I didn't know ,why would I want to scare the shit out of him. Articles like this make it a little easier to live and laugh with them for the moment. Trust me over the years I've learned you have to keep living because your not allowed to curl up and die for no damn reason . Don't worry if you let a mildly more hopeful or should I say less dreary article slip by ,no one here will change their overall point of view, that we're all going to die some horrible death due to climate change

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Response to sue4e3 (Reply #7)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 10:37 AM

8. Yes, I can be seen as a Debbie Downer here.

 

In fact I have been dialing back the level of my vitriolic wet-blanket pessimism over the last five or six years, and I'll continue trying to do that even more. Especially since I firmly believe that nothing we believe - and especially nothing I say - will change an outcome that has already been largely determined by the laws of physics and the obstinate nature of evolved human mental processes.

I'm sorry my delivery makes people feel bad. But for me realism is king, and grownups deal with reality. Much of the boosterism that rubs me the wrong way on this board (whether it's for renewable energy, nuclear power,nano-battery solar power magic, the power of the marketplace or Alan Savory's cow-grazing theories) seems like little more than the desperate dancing of abject court jesters, whose intention is to take our minds off realities that might make us feel bad.

Unfortunately I don't do, and can't abide, such "positive affirmations" or "healing visualizations" when it comes to climate change and ecological collapse. The problem is far too serious not to be taken seriously.

All this is to say that while I may post less frequently in the future, I will continue to speak my mind, so long as I'm still a member.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #8)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 11:27 AM

10. Speaking your mind wasn't the issue

We know that the physics dictate bad endings,ecological collapse, for the human race . The problem is no one knows the details . That's where the devil lives if you believe that kind of thing. No one knows when or exactly how. That's where realism is a problem. The eventuality of death and collapse is completely different then eminent death and collapse. People live with the eventuality of death every day. So , what's real and to be taken seriously do we have a year , 5 years , 10 years , 20 year( my personal guess)or is it not in my life time. If average holds true that would be 2052 (72 years old). I'm not talking tipping points I'm talking holly shit time. See ,"when "definitely changes the demographic of my realism. It doesn't however change how hard I would continue to fight for the environment. How can any one talk about realistic when No One can give you a realistic answer ( not even a really good average). How and when can't be answered it's still theory, that's science. The problem is we know it's going to happen, we know why it's going to happen .We think it's going to happen relatively soon , definitely soon on a geological scale. We don't know how or when or exactly what can be pushed back or changed. The amount of time changes everything about reality, especially actions, why am I going to worry about that credit card debt if I have 5 years no matter what i do, pull my kids out of school , give them all I can while can, worry less about life lessons and what they'll need for a future. I would still fight for the environment. If you have lung cancer you quit smoking in hopes of that extra month or two.People who preach reality piss me off . I didn't realize that until just now , thank you again. Because, a persons reality changes with how much time you have

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Response to sue4e3 (Reply #10)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 11:58 AM

11. A person's reality changes with how much time they think they have.

 

Since none of us know for sure, we can assume that amount of time to be anything we want. My nondualist practice predisposes me to see my allotted span in terms of a very short Now, which is where I prefer to concentrate my energy. I also have a strong Taoist streak that urges me to keep my hands off the wheel - to let the universe do what it will and not assume I am in control of anything.

My annoyance with people who are still caught by the need to create better outcomes gets the better of me when I feel they are denying my right to be heard, trying to make me STFU. Unfortunately, I get reactive over that, and sometimes step on their rights in return. It takes a lot of equanimity to remain silent as the techno-optimistic prattle continues. I'm working on it, but it turns out I'm not quite that enlightened just yet.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #11)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 12:19 PM

12. I can't remember if it was you that said you didn't have children ,

but that changes every thing too. It's not control it's providing, a stable environment for your children. An assumed amount of time is the only "place" any one would have pro created,lest we would have died out as race long before climate change was an issue . What you consider techno- optimistic prattle is the whole of us not having the answer of when . The most important answer of all. It dictates what you do with it.

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Response to sue4e3 (Reply #12)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 01:03 PM

13. No I don't have children. That makes a huge difference in my outlook.

 

No, we definitely don't have all the answers. But if all points of view aren't represented in the discussion, even the ones we don't like, the results are likely to be skewed. I've noticed over the years that I've held my position that there is a very strong disinclination to give it a seat at the table, no matter who voices it. That's another reason I'm as vocal as I am.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #13)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 01:41 PM

14. Be vocal , life is more interesting that way, or I might have to go hunt down all the bad stuff my-

self. post your articles. Just remember when your getting ready to bring the hammer down on some article that offers some little shred of light , some people need that little shred of light to get through the day. Not lieing to yourself just getting through the day. I'm a true believer in living and let live hurts myself less then divide and conquer. I will say that I don't normally have these kind of conversations on an open feed any where. It's been interesting

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Response to sue4e3 (Reply #14)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 02:18 PM

17. Thanks, and I'll keep your good advice about hammers and hope in mind.

 

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 09:01 AM

4. I wouldn't call more than doubling the average target temp a "huge achievement" . . .

Call me old-fashioned.

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Response to hatrack (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 4, 2015, 09:05 AM

5. It's a rather depressing read...yes, we're going to suffer, many will be harmed, but at least

life on earth will (probably) be possible. It will just be much different....

It does make me feel a -little- bit better.

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