[Discussion] Climate Change

This thread is just to post interesting news, thoughts, opinions about climate change.

Seth wrote:

I mean, is it that slow? Rome took 250 years to collapse. We're probably gonna beat that record by a century or two, depending on when you mark the beginning of Pax Americana.

I mark the beginning of our current collapse with the advent of the internal combustion engine: around 1860. 250 years from then would be 2110, so we're def ahead of schedule.

Thanks technology!

I would put the start of our collapse at the assassination of Lincoln.

IMAGE(https://i.ibb.co/QKx83gW/AEF29-A24-9021-497-C-A656-2-BDB750-BC4-FD.jpg)

Well y'all are a bunch of Chicken Littles, aren't you?

Sure, it's not pretty in some places (just like always), some groups are being oppressed (just like always), but societal collapse? Come off it. Government at all levels is still operating as normal (i.e. inefficient and corrupt), non-governmental aspects of society are all operating as normal - you can walk the streets as safely as you normally could, shop in the same stores that are operating as normal, go where you want and do what you want.

Societal collapse?

Pull the other one.

Should probably go back to coal and steam engines as the start of the collapse.
You could also go as late as the freeway system. Before that, Amazon would have had to ship via train or horse. "Free next month delivery" ;P

Jonman wrote:

Well y'all are a bunch of Chicken Littles, aren't you?

Sure, it's not pretty in some places (just like always), some groups are being oppressed (just like always), but societal collapse? Come off it. Government at all levels is still operating as normal (i.e. inefficient and corrupt), non-governmental aspects of society are all operating as normal - you can walk the streets as safely as you normally could, shop in the same stores that are operating as normal, go where you want and do what you want.

Societal collapse?

Pull the other one.

Things are fine now, assuming you’re still employed and haven’t been evicted from your home and your entire family hasn’t joined a cult and you aren’t one of the multitudes of people currently displaced by one of the dozens of “historic and unprecedented” natural disasters we’ve seen over the last several years (hell, there are people still homeless from the 2018 California wildfires), but the US is currently dashing eagerly towards multiple social/political/environmental crises that each alone would present an existential threat to a nation, and our response as a country ranges from “pretend not to notice it” to “let’s propose an ineffectual solution and then either not bother enacting it or compromise it even further in practice.”

ruhk wrote:

but the US is currently dashing eagerly towards multiple social/political/environmental crises that each alone would present an existential threat to a nation, and our response as a country ranges from “pretend not to notice it” to “let’s propose an ineffectual solution and then either not bother enacting it or compromise it even further in practice.”

My hypothesis here is that "dashing eagerly towards multiple social/political/environmental crises" has been business-as-usual for the past few hundred years.

Society hasn't collapsed in the face of that centuries long onslaught. It's constantly changed radically as a result (and continues to). Seems far more likely to be that that's more of what we're in for. Societal adaptation, not collapse.

I’m not saying humanity is going to die out or anything, just that in our lifetimes we will likely see the end of the quality and standards of life that most of us have right now. Even if we fix or avoid the social and political issues, climate change is going to severely f*ck us, our infrastructure, and our ability to produce and distribute basic resources like food and water. We’ve got a chance of things not turning out so bad, but we have to make massive, sweeping changes to *waves arms* basically everything, and the people in charge are struggling to make even barely adequate changes while grass roots movements are too fragmented and marginalized to make serious progress.
This is complicated by the fact that due to the way climate change operates, even if we make ALL the necessary changes yesterday, things will continue to get worse for decades and every naysayer, climate denier, and corporate lobbyist will be pointing out how we made all those changes for nothing and will push to undo them.

Jonman wrote:

My hypothesis here is that "dashing eagerly towards multiple social/political/environmental crises" has been business-as-usual for the past few hundred years.

Society hasn't collapsed in the face of that centuries long onslaught. It's constantly changed radically as a result (and continues to). Seems far more likely to be that that's more of what we're in for. Societal adaptation, not collapse.

The flaw in this reasoning is that the entirety of human history has been contained within the Holocene epoch. The drastic and severe climate shift that we have triggered is in the midst of changing the world to such an extent that our lifetimes fall within what will eventually be considered the transition period to whatever the next epoch is named (and it's quite likely that the detritus layer of our current civilization will be the most significant strata marker between the Holocene and the new epoch).

We know that humanity has navigated every prior crisis of civilization more-or-less successfully under the climate conditions of the Holocene. We don't know with certainty how well our civilization will or won't navigate the state of the world to come.

I'm not willing to say that we're in a societal collapse yet. We're in a societal crisis, absolutely, but the US has made it through several of those already, so there's still reason to hope we'll get through the current crises.

We are definitely seeing an increase in crises induced by the early stage of this transition to a new geological epoch, however.

Jonman wrote:

Society hasn't collapsed in the face of that centuries long onslaught. It's constantly changed radically as a result (and continues to). Seems far more likely to be that that's more of what we're in for. Societal adaptation, not collapse.

By that definition every post-apocalyptic story could be summed up as "societal adaptation, not collapse."

OG_slinger wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Society hasn't collapsed in the face of that centuries long onslaught. It's constantly changed radically as a result (and continues to). Seems far more likely to be that that's more of what we're in for. Societal adaptation, not collapse.

By that definition every post-apocalyptic story could be summed up as "societal adaptation, not collapse."

Exactly.

"We used to have clean drinking water and now we don't" *shrug*

“Remember when we used to be able to grow food?”

(there were farms in Oregon and Washington that lost entire crops to the heatwave we had in June)

ruhk wrote:

“Remember when we used to be able to grow food?”

(there were farms in Oregon and Washington that lost entire crops to the heatwave we had in June)

And yet, grocery stores still full of food here in Washington at reasonable stable prices.

Jonman wrote:
ruhk wrote:

“Remember when we used to be able to grow food?”

(there were farms in Oregon and Washington that lost entire crops to the heatwave we had in June)

And yet, grocery stores still full of food here in Washington at reasonable stable prices.

Because grocery stores in Washington were able to source food from states and countries that weren't as impacted by adverse weather and transport them to you. The items in the typical American grocery store travel an average of 1,500 miles, so very little of what you have available to buy is dependent on local conditions.

Of course the problem with rising global temperatures is that more agricultural areas will be simultaneously affected by heat, drought, decreasing crop yields, and the growing unwillingness and cost to transport increasingly valuable crops thousands of miles from where they were grown to grocery stores in Washington and elsewhere. What's valuable farmland today will become Dust Bowls in the future.

Top climate scientists are sceptical that nations will rein in global warming

The feature from Nature, published on Monday, involved querying Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change researchers. These are the same folks who put out a major report earlier this year warning that this is essentially the most consequential decade in human history, one that will play a major role in deciding just how severe global warming will be for generations to come. In other words, they’re deep in it.

Nature heard back from 92 of the 233 living IPCC authors. The results show that six in 10 of the respondents expect the planet to warm at least 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius), a level that’s well beyond the Paris Agreement target of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). And it’s double the 1.5-degree-Celsius (2.7-degree-Fahrenheit) target that policymakers and researchers (including the IPCC) have identified as a relatively safe level of heating that would allow small islands to remain above sea level and protect millions from food insecurity and violence. Just 20% of the researchers, meanwhile, expect the world to meet the Paris Agreement 2-degree-Celsius target, and a paltry 4% think 1.5 degrees Celsius is in play.

Even more upsetting, 88% of the researchers expect climate change to unleash catastrophic impacts in their lifetimes. Of course, you could argue that’s already happening. Research has shown climate change is playing a role in making heat waves, wildfires, and cyclones worse. To take one example, the Pacific Northwest heat wave this summer that was dubbed a “mass casualty event” was made 150 times more likely due to burning fossil fuels. It went from being a 1-in-150,000-year event in the pre-industrial era to a 1-in-1,000 year event in our current climate. And with each passing year of rising emissions, the odds of more extreme heat like it will rise.

So 191 countries came to a watered down agreement that's not even close to being enough to limit climate change to 1,5 degrees, and that's assuming we will even stay on course for this non-decision. Which is laughable as we never even came close to realizing the previous agreements.

IMAGE(https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/16F79/production/_121537049_cop26_emissions_target_640x2-nc.png)

What a farce. Politicians negotiating climate change like a trade agreement.

Ah yes, the pivot.

Standing in front of the partial ruins of Rome’s Colosseum, Boris Johnson explained that a motive to tackle the climate crisis could be found in the fall of the Roman empire. Then, as now, he argued, the collapse of civilization hinged on the weakness of its borders.

“When the Roman empire fell, it was largely as a result of uncontrolled immigration – the empire could no longer control its borders, people came in from the east and all over the place,” the British prime minister said in an interview on the eve of crucial UN climate talks in Scotland. Civilization can go into reverse as well as forwards, as Johnson told it, with Rome’s fate offering grave warning as to what could happen if global heating is not restrained.

This wrapping of ecological disaster with fears of rampant immigration is a narrative that has flourished in far-right fringe movements in Europe and the US and is now spilling into the discourse of mainstream politics. Whatever his intent, Johnson was following a current of rightwing thought that has shifted from outright dismissal of climate change to using its impacts to fortify ideological, and often racist, battle lines. Representatives of this line of thought around the world are, in many cases, echoing eco-fascist ideas that themselves are rooted in an earlier age of blood-and-soil nationalism.

In the US, a lawsuit by the Republican attorney general of Arizona has demanded the building of a border wall to prevent migrants coming from Mexico as these people “directly result in the release of pollutants, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”. In Spain, Santiago Abascal, leader of the populist Vox party, has called for a “patriotic” restoration of a “green Spain, clean and prosperous”.

In the UK, the far-right British National party has claimed to be the “only true green party” in the country due to its focus on migration. And in Germany, the rightwing populist party Alternative for Germany has tweaked some of its earlier mockery of climate science with a platform that warns “harsh climatic conditions” in Africa and the Middle East will see a “gigantic mass migration towards European countries”, requiring toughened borders.

Meanwhile, France’s National Front, once a bastion of derisive climate denial, has founded a green wing called New Ecology, with Marine Le Pen, president of the party, vowing to create the “world’s leading ecological civilization” with a focus on locally grown foods.

“Environmentalism [is] the natural child of patriotism, because it’s the natural child of rootedness,” Le Pen said in 2019, adding that “if you’re a nomad, you’re not an environmentalist. Those who are nomadic … do not care about the environment; they have no homeland.” Le Pen’s ally Hervé Juvin, a National Rally MEP, is seen as an influential figure on the European right in promoting what he calls “nationalistic green localism”.

Simply ignoring or disparaging the science isn’t the effective political weapon it once was. “We are seeing very, very little climate denialism in conversations on the right now,” said Catherine Fieschi, a political analyst and founder of Counterpoint, who tracks trends in populist discourse. But in place of denial is a growing strain of environmental populism that has attempted to dovetail public alarm over the climate crisis with disdain for ruling elites, longing for a more traditional embrace of nature and kin and calls to banish immigrants behind strong borders.

Say what you will about the so-called “dirtbag left”, but this has been one of the most compelling arguments to me for some time. If we fail at solving these problems with something like socialism, the right is going to fully embrace eco-fascism.

LOL JESUS CHRIST

There are plenty of things in this world that might keep you up at night. There’s COVID-19, of course, but if you’re anxious like me you could probably rattle off a very long list of additional fears: getting hit by a car, cancer, being poisoned by an ill-advised gas station meal, getting caught in a wildfire, electrocuting yourself plugging your laptop in at a dodgy cafe. But what is likely not high on your list is fungi. Unfortunately, that might be changing.

In 2009, a patient in Japan developed a new fungal infection on their ear. The highly transmissible Candida auris fungus had been previously unknown to science (and resistant to the drugs available to treat it), but within a few years, cases started emerging in Venezuela, Iran, Russia, and South Africa.

Scientists assumed that the spread was due to human travel, but when they sequenced the cases, they were surprised to find that these strains weren’t closely related at all. Instead, scientists were seeing multiple, independent infections of an unknown fungal disease, emerging around the world, all at the same time. About a third of people infected with Candida auris die from the infection within 30 days, and there have now been thousands of cases in 47 countries. Some scientists think this sudden boom in global cases is a harbinger of things to come.

Humans should consider ourselves lucky that they don't have to constantly worry about fungal infections. “If you were a tree, you'd be terrified of fungi,” says Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist at Johns Hopkins university who studies fungal diseases. And if you happened to be a fish, a reptile, or an amphibian, fungus would also be quite high on your list of fears, were you able to enumerate them. (Fungal infections are known to wipe out snakes, fish, corals, insects, and more.) In recent years, a fungal infection called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (chytrid) has decimated amphibian populations around the world, with some scientists estimating that chytrid is responsible for population decline in over 500 amphibian species. To put that into context, that’s around one out of every 16 amphibian species known to science.

One of the reasons fungal infections are so common in so many creatures is that fungi themselves are ubiquitous. “This is dating myself, but you know the Sting song “Every Breath You Take"? Well, every breath you take you inhale somewhere between 100 and 700,000 spores,” says Andrej Spec, a medical mycologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “They've made it to the space station. They are absolutely everywhere.”

Humans can and do get fungal infections (athlete’s foot, for starters, and fungal diseases are one of the leading causes of death for immunocompromised people with HIV). But people are generally unlikely to fall to a fungus for one big reason: humans are hot. (Although, if you want to be the pedant at a party, you might enjoy learning that humans are generally not, in fact, the commonly cited 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That number comes from a German study done in 1851. In fact, human body temperature seems to have been cooling recently, and the global average is between 97.5 and 97.9 degrees Fahrenheit.) Warm-blooded environments, in general, tend to be too warm for a fungus to survive. One of Casadevall’s studies estimated that 95 percent of fungal species simply cannot survive at average human internal temperature.

You can see this temperature barrier in action when you look at animals that hibernate, which requires dropping their internal temperatures to survive the winter. Bats, for example, have recently suffered huge declines due to white nose syndrome, which infects them while they’re hibernating and therefore cooler than usual.

For Casadevall, these findings support his theory about the animal world’s long history with fungi. He argues that perhaps our warm-blooded natures evolved specifically to avoid the kinds of fungal infections that can wipe out cold-blooded populations.

Being warm-blooded has its costs. Keeping your body at such a high temperature takes a lot of energy, which requires a lot of food. In fact, some warm-blooded animals have to eat more in a single day than a cold-blooded reptile of the same size would in a whole month. Constantly seeking out food puts you at increased risk of predation (or that toxic gas station meal that could kill you). Why expend all that energy if you can simply bask in the sun?

Of the many benefits to being warm-blooded, one of them, Casadevall argues, is the fungal filter. He says that this could help explain one of evolution’s great mysteries: After the asteroid killed off the dinosaurs, why didn’t they simply repopulate and once again dominate the Earth? “If the reptiles were so fit, how come we didn't have a second reptilian age?” he asks. “The reason that we are the dominant animal is because it was a fungal filter,” he says. In other words, it was the warm-blooded creatures’ resistance to fungal infections that allowed them to become dominant, while the remaining cold-blooded dinosaurs fell to the infections.

This is a tricky theory because it’s almost impossible to prove. There are very few places where evidence of fungi, or fungal infections, has been preserved in the fossil record—not because they weren’t present, but because fungi tend to be squishy and degradable, not ideal for turning into fossils. “I think it's definitely a fringe theory at this point to say that that's the only thing that happened,” says Spec. “But did it contribute? I think it's fascinating, and we probably will never know until we start sequencing stuff and we find invasive mold and things like that in dinosaur fossils, if we ever do.”

But even if fungi had nothing to do with the modern age of mammalian dominance, we should still be paying a lot more attention to them. Throughout history, at least according to this theory, we’ve been protected from fungi because they haven’t adapted to live at the temperatures inside our bodies. But as the planet warms, that could change. The most recent global estimates say that without serious intervention, the Earth's temperature could rise 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. And those five degrees could be the difference between fungal resistance and fungal death.

f*ck.

It would probably take less time if the fungi evolved into Orks.

I felt compelled to read the entire article. Fascinating and terrifying.