The Brutal Logic of Climate Change

Malor wrote:
Please take into account the hours of the day you aren't conscious before proclaiming a per day average as bunk.

Please consider that I'm not an idiot, and it may be worth clarifying what I meant. If you'd taken a second to think about it, you'd realize an average temperature of 90 degrees, for a 24 hour period, would happen only in a very few places on Earth, if anywhere at all.

The average high temperature in this area is 90 degrees exactly, during the day, for several months straight. It has been mid to high 90s almost every day this month. It's 94 right now, at 9 PM.

You've... not met Boogle before, have you?

Seriously though, we've absolutely _shattered_ highs here, in one of the breadbasket states. Which, if it severely f*cks with the crops this year, will most likely get this pesky "Global Warming" thing on the agenda at some point, one can hope.

It's disturbing how some people living in northern latitudes see global warming as little more than a prospect for vineyard production, or some similar agricultural business opportunity. Yes. Amid freak weather, rising sea-levels, mass-migration and rising costs, finally we may enjoy ample quantities of Canadian and Scandinavian wine. Yum.

I know it's difficult for any human being to keep short-term and long-term perspectives and interests in balance. But that doesn't change the fact that this sort of behaviour seems absurd.

Okay, for anyone curious, there are no scientific predictions of a 30 degree Fahrenheit rise in the average global temperature by 2100. 6 C is the high end of the range, even in the slide deck cited. Not that that's not bad, but we don't need to exaggerate the threat on this of all things.

MothBeHe wrote:

It's disturbing how some people living in northern latitudes see global warming as little more than a prospect for vineyard production, or some similar agricultural business opportunity. Yes. Amid freak weather, rising sea-levels, mass-migration and rising costs, finally we may enjoy ample quantities of Canadian and Scandinavian wine. Yum.

I know it's difficult for any human being to keep short-term and long-term perspectives and interests in balance. But that doesn't change the fact that this sort of behaviour seems absurd.

Weird that you mention that. I live at the 43rd parallel, and I guarantee you that 25 years ago, sun-hungry grapes like syrah/shiraz and lemberger/blau franc would have trouble both here and three hours north at the 45th. Now you see them in abundance - at the cost of our more fragile crops. Like, for example, cherries, where we experienced a 95% crop loss thanks to an early thaw and late freeze this year. Apple blossoms died, too.

I realize I just outed myself as one of the bad guys from your point of view, but on the other hand this is also a great example of adaptability. Hop farms and vineyards will replace cherry trees and apple orchards as farmers adapt to the weather.

Gravey wrote:

It's a real Pascal's Wager—except this time the stakes are actually material and verifiable.

I can't see any reason for not taking that bet, except short-term selfish gain. Which is basically fundamental to First World government and economics. Everyone we have in de jure and de facto power wants their cookie now and can't wait for two later.

Sorry for colliding metaphors like that.

A Pascal thingy. I knew someone would have the real name for that.

I don't really care about whether or not global warming exists. The people who are arguing about that are just wasting time. Let's argue about how/why to implement responsible environmental policies.

Squee9 wrote:

Let's argue about how/why to implement responsible environmental policies.

And good luck to whoever tries to do that in the first world.

Malor wrote:

The great analogy I got out of the TED talk is this: Hitler's armies are on the march, a hundred miles away, and the denialists are arguing about the thread count in the soldiers' uniforms.

Yet we spend all our time trying to offer them proof of that thread count instead of preparing for the invasion.

LobsterMobster wrote:
Malor wrote:

The great analogy I got out of the TED talk is this: Hitler's armies are on the march, a hundred miles away, and the denialists are arguing about the thread count in the soldiers' uniforms.

Yet we spend all our time trying to offer them proof of that thread count instead of preparing for the invasion.

All this while some other idiot mentions Godwin, as if that's any help to anyone. Jerk.

Robear wrote:

Okay, for anyone curious, there are no scientific predictions of a 30 degree Fahrenheit rise in the average global temperature by 2100. 6 C is the high end of the range, even in the slide deck cited. Not that that's not bad, but we don't need to exaggerate the threat on this of all things.

The problem is that 6 C is enough to be completely incompatible with life as we know it. And that is not even taking into account positive feedback events that would arise to accelerate warming even further and completely out of human control.

Now I am curious as to whether or not the 6 C scenario assumes business-as-usual growth. Most people on this forum are well aware of the teetering global economy. It won't be long before an economic reckoning comes that is going to plunge the world into a massive recession. That will certainly have a major impact on future estimates of emissions. We are pretty much near the ceiling for growth with the resources we have. And, in fact, we are going to go into a decline that could be quite precipitous. China's growth is faltering and they aren't going to be able to keep it up for much longer. The same processes that fueled its growth, namely manufacturing and exports, is going to drop off significantly.

It seems that from a few years forward that any growth that occurs will be from increased energy efficiency as opposed to increased energy use. In fact, America is predicted to have minimal energy consumption growth. With the looming recession and the bite of peak oil, I imagine it is going to actually decrease further. And as per capita, I think America will continue steady decline.

Seth wrote:

I realize I just outed myself as one of the bad guys from your point of view, but on the other hand this is also a great example of adaptability. Hop farms and vineyards will replace cherry trees and apple orchards as farmers adapt to the weather.

Adaptation is all well and good, but adaptation requires some stability, too. Climate change, especially as temperature rises, will lead to more and more extreme events. And if a positive feedback loop begins where high temperatures drive the release of stored greenhouse gases that then raise temperatures again and lead to more releases, you have an extreme unstable environment that cannot be adapted to.

If things get bad enough, such as a runaway greenhouse effect, we might have to start really looking at geo-engineering to stave off the worst effects. It is asinine that it even has to be considered, but desperate times call for desperate measures. There are numerous things that could be done, but real effort needs to be made now to avoid costly effects associated with the medicine.

It's probably the Fermi Paradox at work. We evolved too quickly to grasp the higher order importance of planetary stewardship - look how far we've advanced technologically in the past 100 years - which is nothing on the galactic time scale, and we're at a tipping point. It might not be extinction level, but I think the world's in for a lot of suffering and strife in the next century. I have two kids, and I think about them. It's a little too horrible to contemplate or grasp for too long, so I go on with life as usual. What else can you do?

indy wrote:

What else can you do?

At this point, do what you can to reduce your impact on the environment. Spread the word. Were it not for people spreading the word, I would have never given this a second thought. Now I do what I can to reduce my energy consumption. Even if you only reach one person, they might reach two people, and then they might reach more.

The problem is that 6 C is enough to be completely incompatible with life as we know it. And that is not even taking into account positive feedback events that would arise to accelerate warming even further and completely out of human control.

Yes, it does take positive feedbacks into account, as well as we can at this point. I know all that. I just don't think we need to exaggerate the threat. It's bad enough as it is, and there are already people out there crucifying scientists as alarmists without the exaggeration.

I realize I just outed myself as one of the bad guys from your point of view, but on the other hand this is also a great example of adaptability. Hop farms and vineyards will replace cherry trees and apple orchards as farmers adapt to the weather.

What will replace the vast swaths of wheat and corn lands in the central US?

Robear wrote:
I realize I just outed myself as one of the bad guys from your point of view, but on the other hand this is also a great example of adaptability. Hop farms and vineyards will replace cherry trees and apple orchards as farmers adapt to the weather.

What will replace the vast swaths of wheat and corn lands in the central US?

IMAGE(http://abortionsforall.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/road1.jpg)

Robear wrote:
I realize I just outed myself as one of the bad guys from your point of view, but on the other hand this is also a great example of adaptability. Hop farms and vineyards will replace cherry trees and apple orchards as farmers adapt to the weather.

What will replace the vast swaths of wheat and corn lands in the central US?

An army of thirsty, desperate farmers looking to steal Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio's combined 6 quadrillion gallons of fresh water, I assume.

ZaneRockfist wrote:
indy wrote:

What else can you do?

At this point, do what you can to reduce your impact on the environment. Spread the word. Were it not for people spreading the word, I would have never given this a second thought. Now I do what I can to reduce my energy consumption. Even if you only reach one person, they might reach two people, and then they might reach more.

The difficulty with that is the entire system is rigged to maintain the status quo. What if this summer marks the lowest use of, say, air conditioning units in the past n years. Well rest easy, because your electricity bill just went up. That's great incentive to keep doing it.

In order for the problem to be solved it has to be solved from both ends. Not just some grassroots campaign that'll get no attention and spur zero change in those above us. And those in power need to do more instead of token incentives to be environmentally friendly. Tackling the inaction at the top is the only way to make any meaningful change.

Robear wrote:

Yes, it does take positive feedbacks into account, as well as we can at this point. I know all that. I just don't think we need to exaggerate the threat. It's bad enough as it is, and there are already people out there crucifying scientists as alarmists without the exaggeration.

Are you sure it does? I may have overlooked it, but I thought it explicitly stated that was just based on the current trajectory of emissions. Also, a lot of the studies concerning methane clathrates and all that jazz assume the best possible scenario and not the worst. So far, the worst possible scenarios are increasingly the most realistic of them all.

The more I read about this, the more it seems extreme measures are the only answer. I think that within a decade, the effects of climate change will be completely undeniable. It will be here and in the face of everyone. By that point, the solutions that might have worked today or yesterday will no longer be feasible for stopping it. And the only methods for stopping its advance will probably have its own problems, like solar mirrors or aerosols. And that is probably being optimistic. We are probably screwed. Hah

Superbeard wrote:

The difficulty with that is the entire system is rigged to maintain the status quo. What if this summer marks the lowest use of, say, air conditioning units in the past n years. Well rest easy, because your electricity bill just went up. That's great incentive to keep doing it.

In order for the problem to be solved it has to be solved from both ends. Not just some grassroots campaign that'll get no attention and spur zero change in those above us. And those in power need to do more instead of token incentives to be environmentally friendly. Tackling the inaction at the top is the only way to make any meaningful change.

That's certainly the truth, but politicians are in bed with the same people that want to keep the status quo. Even so, we still need to be doing what we can individually to reduce our impact even if only for moral reasons.

Feedbacks, positive and negative, are an integral part of all climate models, being the result of the interaction of parts. If they didn't model those, they'd be very simple, as every influence would be linear. This is not to say that we know their effects perfectly, but the models are constantly updated as understanding changes. Feedbacks are definitely a large part of them.

ZaneRockfist wrote:

I'm just going to try to enjoy the last few good years of comfort before I put a bullet in my head when the storm rises.

I'd suggest watching The Mist to the very end before taking drastic action.

Jayhawker wrote:

I'd suggest watching The Mist to the very end before taking drastic action.

Hah!

I take what I said back. I'll use that bullet for the crazy bitch.

But seriously, I do take back what I said yesterday. I suffer from very intense mood swings. I'm more hopeful now, but still quite perturbed by all of this. We have to do our part. I'm going to keep trying to cut back on energy consumption. And I'm going to spread the news.

Robear wrote:
I realize I just outed myself as one of the bad guys from your point of view, but on the other hand this is also a great example of adaptability. Hop farms and vineyards will replace cherry trees and apple orchards as farmers adapt to the weather.

What will replace the vast swaths of wheat and corn lands in the central US?

It's actually not that big a problem since we already pay a lot of those guys to not grow corn.

The amount of time elapsed between those two posts was not enough to watch The Mist in its entirety. Did you fast forward to the last ~15 minutes?

Seth wrote:

The amount of time elapsed between those two posts was not enough to watch The Mist in its entirety. Did you fast forward to the last ~15 minutes? :)

I wouldn't have survived the crazed lady's rantings.

ZaneRockfist wrote:

I'm going to keep trying to cut back on energy consumption. And I'm going to spread the news.

I try to minimize energy usage. Partly because it's good for the environment, but also because it saves money. However, I'm kind of limited by geography at this point. My house needs to be heated in the winter, and I have to drive to work. Switching to a smaller house in this market, or trying to find a different job, isn't an option.

I imagine there are many people in the same boat. We cut back, but the country spent decades building itself into a society that didn't worry about the effects of CO2 or have to deal with high energy costs. It's going to take a major long-term rise in the cost of energy to reduce emissions on a per capita basis.

Funkenpants wrote:

I imagine there are many people in the same boat. We cut back, but the country spent decades building itself into a society that didn't worry about the effects of CO2 or have to deal with high energy costs. It's going to take a major long-term rise in the cost of energy to reduce emissions on a per capita basis.

Oh, of course, but that is underestimating the impact of conservation. Small reductions can add up to a lot. Personally, I do without a car. And I try to keep household energy use down, but I live with someone that doesn't worry about it like I do. They have come a long way in some regards, but are still quite wasteful.

Personally, I think this recession, which has not even seen the tip of the iceberg, will have a profound impact on energy consumption across the world. As it is, per capita consumption in America is down and continues to decline. In 2013, I imagine there will be a large drop when oil prices rebound and the realities of the world economic situation become more palpable.

Energy consumption in the US was up in 2010 by 5.5% over 2009 (4.5% above 2008) so the recession effect is over. I can't see it having gone down in 2011.

Why would you think oil prices will "rebound"? Rebound from what?

Robear wrote:

Why would you think oil prices will "rebound"? Rebound from what?

Sorry, I meant per capita. Energy consumption as a total has went up, but per capita, it has went down. And it is predicted that energy consumption will remain relatively the same over the next 20 years assuming continued growth. Also, we are about to dip into another recession that will curb consumption even more.

And I meant that oil prices will go back up once the election is over.

Why would oil prices go back up after the election, though? Is our election a reason for oil prices to drop?

And I thought per capita usage in the US was actually pretty much flat for the last 30 years, up and down a bit, barring 2009? Look at energy consumption per person on this page (lower left chart).