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Goodbye, Miami [?]
June 24, 2013 11:07 PM   Subscribe

"By century's end, rising sea levels will turn the nation's urban fantasyland into an American Atlantis. But long before the city is completely underwater, chaos will begin (1Page)

"..the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades."

"..the OECD lists Miami as the number-one most vulnerable city worldwide in terms of property damage."

"..The statehouse in Tallahassee is a monument to climate-change denial. "The view is, 'Well, if it gets real bad, the federal government will bail us out.' It is beyond denial; it is flat-out delusional."

" It's not hard to see how it will play out: As each new crisis arises, engineers will propose expensive solutions and people may be fooled into thinking that sea-level­ rise is not such a big deal. But in many cases, sea-wall extensions and elaborate pumping and drainage systems will turn out to be giant boondoggles, with money shoveled out to politically connected contractors for projects that are ineffective or overwhelmed by continually rising seas."

"The financial catastrophe could play out like this: As insurance rates climb, fewer are able to afford homes. Housing prices fall, which slows development, which decreases the tax base, which makes cities and towns even less able to afford the infrastructure upgrades necessary to adapt to rising seas. The spiral continues downward. Beaches deteriorate, hotels sit empty, restaurants close. Because Miami's largest economies are development and tourism, it's a deadly tailspin. The threat of sea-level rise bankrupts the state even before it is wiped out by a killer storm."

"We are going to have to change the name to Everglades National Marine Sanctuary," one scientist told me.

One of the biggest uncertainties in Miami's future is how the rest of America will feel about rescuing the city. Nobody questioned the wisdom of spending $40 billion in tax dollars to rebuild after Katrina and another $60 billion to help rebuild after Sandy, but will they feel the same about Miami – land of millionaires and beach condos – when the time comes? Not that everyone doesn't love Miami. But at some point, Congress is going to balk at spending $50 billion to rebuild the city every time a tropical storm passes by.

"The unpleasant truth is that it will be all too easy for the rest of the nation to just let South Florida go."

"Instead of spending a billion dollars to build a new tunnel for the Port of Miami, we should be spending that money to buy people out of their homes and relocate them to higher ground," Wanless says. "We have to accept the reality of what is about to happen to us."
posted by stbalbach (191 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
""The unpleasant truth is that it will be all too easy for the rest of the nation to just let South Florida go."

What's so unpleasant about it? Detroit is sinking under rising levels of debt caused by a man-made disaster and very few people outside of Detroit think bailing that city out is a good idea. Why protect Miami from another man-made disaster when there will be perfectly good cities in the North empty of people ready to accept them?
posted by three blind mice at 12:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [25 favorites]


Seconding Three Blind Mice. btw, here's a nice summary of what to expect, from degree-by-degree climate warming. What's really scary is when - just a few degrees of warming away - plants and soil start giving up CO2.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:57 AM on June 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'd definitely vote against rescuing Miami or even buying out people's homes. I'd hate watch them buy out home above say $80k. New Orleans has real cultural significance, existing sea walls, and sees fewer Hurricanes, spend FIMA resources there.

There are sadly no votes on such expenditures however, just corrupt politicians playing their games. And Florida has considerably more political muscle than Luisiana. We might however witness a gentle decline, as the nation continues repairs, but frequent evacuations reduce the quality of life. Isn't our best realistic senario that Miami real estate collapses ala Detroit before congress gets talked into buying up all the McMansions?
posted by jeffburdges at 1:35 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love the way that the State of Florida is now in the insurance business directly, and is on the hook for the bulk of the exposure. Good job there Invisible Hand!
posted by mikelieman at 1:52 AM on June 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm just about done believing that global warming prevention is even possible.

First of all, the data is saying it's already too late. There's too much CO2 (not "carbon", damn it) in the atmosphere already. Make Al Gore the dictator tomorrow, and implement all of his job-killing edicts, and the seas are still going to rise, the weather is going to get real weird, the famines are going to come. Second, you aren't up against people saying, this is wrong, you're up against people saying this is a "hoax". If you are an American, millions of your compatriots believe this, for they have been told it: the entire thing is just made up, so that scientists can live high off your tax money, and so that a one-world socialist government may be established.

You're up against this:

Watson recalls attending a meeting on natural-hazard-response planning in South Florida, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state: "I mentioned sea-level rise, and I was treated to a 15-minute lecture on Genesis by one of the commissioners. He said, 'God destroyed the Earth with water the first time, and he promised he wouldn't do it again. So all of you who are pushing fears about sea-level rise, go back and read the Bible.'"

You know who does believe this is coming, other than climatologists? Insurance companies. The Department of Defense. But, read your Bible - we're fine.

Widespread change in energy usage pathways, disruptive to established interests, in the name of preventing a disaster that many of us will not live to see, was always a tough sell. Very tough. The Kyoto accords have failed. I don't see any second try in the wings.

It's time to transition into thinking about disaster mitigation. But our politicians won't do that, either, because that would imply that they in fact should do something about emissions, since maybe it really ISN'T too late to make an impact there. Hell, a few years ago here, the drought was threatening my state to the point where maybe communities were going to run out of water. It turns out there was NO contingency planning at the State level for this. A couple of lawmakers opined that water aid in a crisis was not the job of government, since it would compete with private sellers of water. That was their plan: riots over pallets of Aqua Fina at the Wal-Mart. The rain came back and this never happened, but it is a preview of what to expect from our governments, as currently constituted, in the face of catastrophe.
posted by thelonius at 2:32 AM on June 25, 2013 [32 favorites]


First of all, the data is saying it's already too late. There's too much CO2 (not "carbon", damn it) in the atmosphere already. Make Al Gore the dictator tomorrow, and implement all of his job-killing edicts, and the seas are still going to rise, the weather is going to get real weird,
What are you basing that analysis on? If CO2 emissions were to stop tomorrow, what would cause global temperature to continue to increase substantially? There is some momentum in the system, I think - but I don't really see why a complete halt now wouldn't solve most of the problem.

Perhaps we could build massive nuclear powered CO2 scrubbers to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere as well.

As a political problem, it's difficult to solve. As an engineering problem, it's not. People need to stop confusing the two.
posted by delmoi at 2:58 AM on June 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


People have forgotten that whole, "government of, for and by the people" bit. Damn shame, as it's a substantial idea.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:59 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


delmoi - I have heard various scientists quoted to the effect that we are near or at some point of no return.

Here is a recent article.
posted by thelonius at 3:03 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Poor Florida bible people. They might do everything God wants and see their state still get flooded. I predict cognitive dissonance levels will rise apace with the sea levels.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:16 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


>Watson recalls attending a meeting on natural-hazard-response planning in South Florida, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state: "I mentioned sea-level rise, and I was treated to a 15-minute lecture on Genesis by one of the commissioners. He said, 'God destroyed the Earth with water the first time, and he promised he wouldn't do it again. So all of you who are pushing fears about sea-level rise, go back and read the Bible.'"
posted by thelonius at 10:32 AM on June 25


That is just so terrifying and rage-making in equal measure.

but I don't really see why a complete halt now wouldn't solve most of the problem.

Apart from the fact that many people think we're already at the tipping point there is no way to completely halt emissions overnight.
posted by billiebee at 3:17 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


pardon my ignorance, but isn't Florida old people heavy? Isn't there going to be a very large problem with evacuating many many frail people from horrible storms?

not to say we should save Miami with like a plastic bubble or something. Just wondering.
posted by angrycat at 3:31 AM on June 25, 2013


So God promised not to destroy us with floods again. What has that to do with our destroying ourselves? Nothing!
posted by Goofyy at 3:59 AM on June 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Poor Florida bible people. They might do everything God wants and see their state still get flooded. I predict cognitive dissonance levels will rise apace with the sea levels.

It should be pretty obvious who will be blamed.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:08 AM on June 25, 2013


Gays?
posted by absalom at 5:11 AM on June 25, 2013 [16 favorites]


In 2005 the UN said there would be 50 million climate refugees because of rising sea levels and other effects of global warming by 2010. Did that happen? Where did they go?
posted by republican at 5:17 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


If CO2 emissions were to stop tomorrow, what would cause global temperature to continue to increase substantially? There is some momentum in the system, I think - but I don't really see why a complete halt now wouldn't solve most of the problem.

I'm still inclined to agree with delmoi that this is a sociopolitical problem, not an engineering one. But perhaps that's just because I can't stare straight into the pit of despair.

Regarding the inertia: My understanding is that the steady state temperature takes on the order of 1000 years to reach. I've read that the current level of 400 ppm of CO2 could actually correspond to a steady state rise of as much as 7C (but I'm having trouble finding this link at the moment). On top of that, we have the CH4 release, both naturally from permafrost, and man-made from "clean natural gas" obtained via fracking.
posted by mondo dentro at 5:17 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that climate denial is fueled by corporate PR, but they may try to employ religion.
posted by mecran01 at 5:18 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where the hell is Aquaman when we need him?
posted by jonmc at 5:19 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 2005 the UN said there would be 50 million climate refugees because of rising sea levels and other effects of global warming by 2010.

[citation needed]
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:22 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


In 2005 the UN said there would be 50 million climate refugees because of rising sea levels and other effects of global warming by 2010. Did that happen? Where did they go?

Really, they said that? I would like to see the statement.

Though, looking just in the US, how many New Orleans refugees fled to Texas? Perhaps 50 million is a plausible number for 2005-2010.
posted by Llama-Lime at 5:22 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


2005
50m environmental refugees by end of decade, UN warns

2011
World still waiting for 50 million climate refugees by 2010
posted by briank at 5:25 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


South Florida should indeed vanish into the ocean. It has nothing to call its own and the only success it has is because it is the closest air and seaport to large swathes of South America so the import/export businesses (both legal and illegal) found it convenient to settle there and everything else was built upon that.

Before the ports it was just an ol' boy town full of farmers just barely scraping by and it's never really shed that heritage; it's just spackle and expensive paint on top of barn board. It's outrageous what has been done over the past 50 years to the water table and the aquifer throughout the state, and it's offensive how overbuilt everything has become to the east of the Everglades dike.

If you thought the Everglades was preserved for some "lets be nice to nature" reason, let me disabuse you of that. It was preserved because the slough is the "river" drain that keeps the torrential tropical rainfall from simply drowning the east coast, and if they'd done anything to alter the permeability of those thousands of square miles, there would already be no Miami.

The southern end of Florida should never have been anything more than a bunch of orange groves and sugar plantations, grubby retirement communities and a bunch of resorts for the rich and wish-they-were-rich -- that would have been sustainable.

The ports and the commerce and population that sprang up around them were the standing up of dominoes that have gotten bigger and bigger, and when they fall they will fall fast and hard, and no one will pick them up again.

It's a folly, and the state has set itself up to implode to try to protect it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:25 AM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


What's so unpleasant about it? Detroit is sinking under rising levels of debt caused by a man-made disaster and very few people outside of Detroit think bailing that city out is a good idea. Why protect Miami from another man-made disaster when there will be perfectly good cities in the North empty of people ready to accept them?

In case you missed the rather obvious subtext, when he says the "unpleasant truth is that it will be all too easy for the rest of the nation to just let South Florida go" he means it will be all too easy for the rest of the nation to just turn out backs and declare it the personal responsibility of people in South Florida to deal with this entirely man-made disaster which everyone knew was coming yet still went to great lengths to do nothing to prevent--just like we did with Detroit.

Yes, people can just move. But given the economic tailspin that's predicted ahead of the coming disaster, they'll need resources and funds to help them move. Also there will need to be infrastructure improvements such as seawalls and emergency shelters to deal problems in the short-term even if the end goal is to eventually abandon Miami to the waves. But then, those would be bailouts, right?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:30 AM on June 25, 2013


Wow, so there were 30 million climate migrants only in Asia, only in 2010! (Linked from the bottom of briank's Guardian link.)

So not only is the 50 million number completely plausible, there's a cottage industry of denialism around it, based on playing semantics with the word refugee, and trying to mock the UN for trying to make it easier for people to migrate due to climate problems.

The denialist movement has serious problems if this is something where they think they have traction. Burying your head in the sand does not protect one from rising sea levels, quite the opposite in fact...
posted by Llama-Lime at 5:36 AM on June 25, 2013 [21 favorites]


Dear Miami
posted by trunk muffins at 5:37 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


New Orleans has real cultural significance, existing sea walls, and sees fewer Hurricanes, spend FIMA resources there.

Except New Orleans is even more doomed than Miami. It's sinking. Between the rising see and the Mississippi River, it's not a case of if, it's when. Yes, historical, yes, cultural, but New Orleans is fighting the River and the Ocean. It's hard enough to get a draw against one of them.

As to buyouts? I would say "$100K" capped. And, if you're home cost you $120K, you take a hit, but you still get $100K. And if you're home cost $1.5M, you take a big hit, but you get $100K.

Well, except for Florida. Florida has made it veryclear that Government is Evil and Wrong. And when it all goes down, well, we certainly shouldn't inflict the Evil and Wrong Government on Florida, right, not when they're dealing with so many problems.

Let the federal aid go to places that welcome it, like New Jersey.
posted by eriko at 5:39 AM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


The denialist movement has serious problems if this is something where they think they have traction. Burying your head in the sand does not protect one from rising sea levels, quite the opposite in fact...

But as they drown in the rising waters, denialists will still be heard to say "G-w-g-h-g-a-t g-g-l-g-o-g-b-g-a-l w-g-a-g-r-g-m-g-i-g-n-g-g?"
posted by scalefree at 5:45 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh wait...that 50 million refugee thing is still totally gonna happen! But it's been pushed back by 10 years to 2020.
50 million 'environmental refugees' by 2020, experts say
posted by republican at 5:46 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even worse, South Florida sits above a vast and porous limestone plateau. "Imagine Swiss cheese, and you'll have a pretty good idea what the rock under southern Florida looks like," says Glenn Landers, a senior engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This means water moves around easily – it seeps into yards at high tide, bubbles up on golf courses, flows through underground caverns, corrodes building foundations from below. "Conventional sea walls and barriers are not effective here," says Robert Daoust, an ecologist at ARCADIS, a Dutch firm that specializes in engineering solutions to rising seas. "Protecting the city, if it is possible, will require innovative solutions."

I am inclined to believe the Dutch on this subject.
posted by coupdefoudre at 5:49 AM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, except for Florida. Florida has made it veryclear that Government is Evil and Wrong. And when it all goes down, well, we certainly shouldn't inflict the Evil and Wrong Government on Florida, right, not when they're dealing with so many problems.

This is the part where I have so many conflicting reactions. A huge, huge part of me believes as eriko here, that, if a state is so heavily invested in anti-government rhetoric and action (like Florida) it seems pretty obvious that they should be expected to stand by their convictions and manage the bad shit on their own, without federal involvement.

On the other hand, United States.

Tough call, really.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:51 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh wait...that 50 million refugee thing is still totally gonna happen!

30 million in Asia alone implies they actually guessed pretty accurately.

...but I suppose that doesn't matter, I mean, it's brown people right? They don't really count, it's not like they drive a worthwhile car. Geez, they probably don't even golf.
posted by aramaic at 5:52 AM on June 25, 2013 [18 favorites]


Miami means sweet water. Not sweet for long, I guess.

I landed in Florida by happenstance, and am educating my children here, but I don't expect to retire here. If we move in the next three years it will be Florida again (and buying) but if not, I'll sell and rent or get out.

The building of the big ticket buildings here while others creak in the wind, empty, is a giant maniupulative Monopoly game. Borrowed money, make the money putting it up (no profits, just expansive bills paid), letting it go to financial ruin, then picking it back up again cheap after losses.

Rinse and repeat - or wait for the building to fall down and get "bailed out'.
posted by tilde at 5:56 AM on June 25, 2013


On the other hand, United States.

I'd be all for that, except we keep being told that The South Will Rise Again.

I hope they do it before the waterline does.
posted by eriko at 5:57 AM on June 25, 2013


🐪 I should have bough some camels while I could still afford them.

But seriously, places are being hit by climate change. It's causing wars, famines and droughts. It's also causing floods, the melting of glaciers and perma-frost.

Maybe we should be counting some war refugees as climate-change refugees, or at least as dual reason refugees.

People can debate about all the causes all they like but climate change is real and it's been time to stop with the denial for some time.

As for what to do about Florida, I would leave if I lived there. I have at least one friend who has retired there. I would not care to live there. You can't tell her there's any down-side. She lived in New York at the time of 9/11. She probably is having a good time for now, but I would never have gone there. My two visits to that state were all very well and good but no. Just no.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:58 AM on June 25, 2013


I'm picturing Cocoon III: Waterworld
posted by russm at 6:03 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Vibrassae, I just want to say thanks for that article, and wow, I can't even imagine feeling something like comfort and safety again. Fuck.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:05 AM on June 25, 2013


The refugee derail here is a perfect example of the kind of thing that, when seen over and over, made me a liberal. It goes like this:

Scientist: "Global warming is rapidly becoming an enormous crisis."
Republican: "Ha, you guys said back in 2005 that there would be 50 million climate refugees by 2010, and that never happened. You have no credibility."
Me: "Huh. That's a good point. Let me look into that...oh, wait! THERE WERE 30 MILLION CLIMATE REFUGEES IN ASIA ALONE IN 2010 ALONE! Damn! 50 million was probably a significant underestimate. This climate thing is worse than I thought!"

Repeat that process approximately 200 times on a variety of issues and you can start off as a fundamentalist Republican hard liner and wind up so far on the left you can barely see Obama way, way off to your right. It happened to me.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:09 AM on June 25, 2013 [38 favorites]


Hurricane Katrina created 400,000 refugees. Just because no one is tracking every single person displaced by the increased frequency of extreme weather; doesn't mean they are not out there.
posted by humanfont at 6:21 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh wait...that 50 million refugee thing is still totally gonna happen! But it's been pushed back by 10 years to 2020.

Republican: someone's already linked you to the 30 million people in Asia. I would like to add the 777,600 people displaced by Hurricane Sandy and the 400,000 displaced by Katrina. I'm sure we could find enough people in other coastal areas that could get us close to the 50 million, just gimme a day or so....

I personally know a family that was indeed displaced by Sandy. A family in my kayak club that got flooded out of their house in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and fled inland - it took them months to get the paperwork sorted out just to get someone to come by and look at the place to ascertain whether they should repair it or raze it. These kinds of displacements aren't the Mass Exodus you may have in mind, of people fleeing a tsunami-size wave or anything like that - but I think if you told that family that they hadn't been "displaced by climate change," the peaceful Quaker woman who's the matriarch of the family would punch you right in the nards.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:21 AM on June 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


The Jersey Shore still hasn't recovered from Sandy, really.
posted by empath at 6:29 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Canada...
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:40 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


READ: The White House's big new climate plan - "the White House will also try to help state and local agencies prepare for the impacts of climate change that are already happening..."

As a political problem, it's difficult to solve. As an engineering problem, it's not.

plant a trillion trees:[*] "Since originally taking interest in climate studies in the 1970s, Dyson has suggested that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could be controlled by planting fast-growing trees. He calculates that it would take a trillion trees to remove all carbon from the atmosphere."
posted by kliuless at 6:54 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just because no one is tracking every single person displaced by the increased frequency of extreme weather; doesn't mean they are not out there.

There's a guy down my block who was a Katrina refugee.

I think a mental block on this is simply that refugees don't look like what middle class USians expect. We've received so much media imaging that says that "refugees" are draggled people in camps somewhere who have nothing at all and who all fled en masse, who have little agency and few connections, who are very easy to spot and very different from us. I mean - that poorly chosen Guardian picture aside - even folks living in refugee camps in poor parts of the world aren't generally "refugees" by those standards, they're always creating schools and initiatives even under dire circumstances and are often plugged in to global networks.

Many of us probably know several people who are refugees or who come from families containing refugees. I mean, I work with people who are/were refugees from Somalia, Laos and other parts of the world. I'm sure some of my other colleagues are the children of refugees from various places including Europe. They are not abject figures, they're just people.

And as global warming goes on and there are more refugees, it's not going to be some Freaky Science Fiction Dystopia that shocks us every day when we get out of bed; it's going to be gradual and it's going to seem in some ways completely normal. And the folks who are climate refugees - for those of us fortunate enough not to be displaced ourselves, we're going to find that they're our neighbors, colleagues, classmates, friends, partners.
posted by Frowner at 6:56 AM on June 25, 2013 [24 favorites]


I wonder how the world's climate would look, in ten or twenty years, if we all just didn't make more people during that time.
posted by windykites at 7:18 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder how the world's climate would look, in ten or twenty years, if we all just didn't make more people during that time.

Finally someone has proposed a solution that makes a sudden, massive shift to green energy sources seem plausible and reasonable in comparison.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well, I'm doing my part. Now we just need to find a corrected version of the Bible where God says "Go forth and multiply _up to a point_."
posted by delfin at 7:43 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Except that in 20 years there are no new scientists coming through to keep cleaning up the mess...
posted by billiebee at 7:47 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is some momentum in the system, I think - but I don't really see why a complete halt now wouldn't solve most of the problem.

The FFP article says there is 70 feet of sea level rise cooked into the system if we stopped producing extra CO2 today. It won't happen in the next 87 years, but the point is the sea won't stop rising on Jan 1, 2100, it will continue to pick up pace. BTW the sea has been rising for at least the past 10,000 years, since the end of the last ice age, the only question is speed.
posted by stbalbach at 8:02 AM on June 25, 2013


In fairness to republican, those displaced by Katrina were carefully labeled "evacuees" not refugees by the government and media. The temporary settlements we created for those displaced were also not called refugee camps either.
posted by humanfont at 8:19 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is amazing how flat Florida is. The highest point in all of Florida is only 345 feet.

The whole state is doomed.
posted by eye of newt at 8:24 AM on June 25, 2013


The UN 50 million figure was published in 2005 in a Press Release. Not a science paper. And the PR wasn't even that central to the UN, by some minor department who was trying to raise awareness as part of 'UN Day for Disaster Reduction' (you've heard of that, right?). The UN subsequently retracted the 50 million figure, but the damage was done. The denialists have had a field day.

Quantifying climate change migration is extremely difficult for a host of reasons. The point is that climate migration exists, even if it's hard to agree on how to quantify it. There is also political conflict created by climate that creates migration. Shelves of literature on this subject. Here's an example.
posted by stbalbach at 8:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


For those who dislike Floridians, remember they might move to where you live...that said, if Florida goes, so too New Orleans etc
I am reminded of a friend, alas now dead, who was very much caught up in the demographic game and thought everyone should stop having children. Now and from now on. I told him that was a good idea now that he had his own 3 children and 4 grandchildren.. after me, thenstop, sort of thing...his grandchildren might feel the same way.
posted by Postroad at 8:28 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah fuck Miami, but... ....

...Where can we go, when there's no San Francisco?
Better get ready to tie up the boat in Idaho

Where can we go, when there's no San Diego
Better get ready to tie up the boat in Idaho
Do you know the swim, you better learn quick Jim
Those who don't know the swim, better sing the hymn ....

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/shango/day+after+day+its+slippin+away_20840775.html
posted by mule98J at 8:48 AM on June 25, 2013


I've done climate science research professionally, and I'm afraid that article is a bit fear-mongery. The opening scenario is especially egregious: sea level rise will not be a foot a decade in the 21st century. Current projections are for 4-5 feet by 2100, so it's more like half a foot a decade. And the rise is slower at first, so by 2050 there is only about a foot and a half increase. Here's a good overview article on current projections.

Looking at topo maps, it appears Miami can easily withstand a 3 foot rise without going under. 10 feet looks like it starts getting problematic as the Everglades will start becoming ocean, but 10 feet won't happen until 2150 at the earliest. So I expect with some Holland-esque flood control measures, Miami will still be a viable city around 2200.

But at some point after that, it's totally Atlantis.
posted by freedryk at 9:05 AM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


As to buyouts? I would say "$100K" capped. And, if you're home cost you $120K, you take a hit, but you still get $100K. And if you're home cost $1.5M, you take a big hit, but you get $100K.
The government ought use buyouts to shape resettlement. Those going to sustainable places such as the Midwest should get most, but those going to Arizona, Las Vegas, or southern California should get nothing.
posted by Jehan at 9:13 AM on June 25, 2013


Those going to sustainable places such as the Midwest should get most

You do know that the midwest is just coming out from a multi-year drought right? And of course now it is dealing with flooding.

Perhaps more sustainable that deserts but not necessarily sustainable either.
posted by srboisvert at 9:16 AM on June 25, 2013


Freedryk, you're factually correct about MSL but tides and moons and winds and daily rain squalls and storms mean a lot, especially when a 25-50mm deluge is a regular enough occurrence during the summer. That water has to have somewhere to go, and in Florida the only place it has to go is the ocean, which is only a few feet lower than ground level for miles inland. There's very little slope to the land, which means that any rain that falls or any tidal surges that come in do not just rush away again in flash floods. It all turns into standing water.

I'm not arguing with your facts, but local topography makes even just a foot of difference very significant in hydrological flow patterns.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:16 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


At this late date, I find it hard to credit outright denialism with anything other than bad faith. Our inherent contrarywise nature will be our downfall.

Miami is already one big storm away from disaster. The truth of it is that we don't have adequate preparations for the kinds of storms which happen today, let alone 15 years from now. Sandy was the latest evidence of this but we won't readily run out of examples. It's not the water level rise per se which poses the immediate threat, it's the impact of any rise on storm surge levels and the impact of an increasingly warming Gulf of Mexico on the intensity of the storm raising the surge. There's not one factor you can point to and say "this is it, this is the big risk." The risk is combinatorial in nature, and this is a big human blind spot. We cannot turn our entire coastline into Holland.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:17 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


BTW that 345 foot highest point is way up in the panhandle. The highest land south of lake Okeechobee is barely 50 feet with the vast amount of it under 30 feet and at least half under 15 feet. The water has to go somewhere.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:21 AM on June 25, 2013


Buyouts?! WTF?

It isn't really a "buyout" if the government gives you money for something worthless, is it?

Why do people who persist in building on flood plains or other areas deserve any buyouts? In particular, this is a group of people who, demographically, has generally been against "government handouts" in any form - who, statistically, have mocked us for our claims of "climate change coming".

It's 2013. We've been warning these people for over a decade. If you are living in Miami today, you still have a decade or more to get out.

When ten or twenty years have elapsed and they are still there and get slammed, it's their own damned fault.

The rest of the world is going to have to suffer the consequences of the deeply irresponsible actions of affluent Americans, why should our government reward them for their negligence? We'll have troubles enough.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:24 AM on June 25, 2013


seanmpuckett: that's all true, but doesn't contradict my basic point. Sure, by 2050 sea level rise will have a significant impact on Miami, but it's not going to render it uninhabitable. The article is exaggerating the speed of the disaster.
posted by freedryk at 9:25 AM on June 25, 2013


You do know that the midwest is just coming out from a multi-year drought right? And of course now it is dealing with flooding.

Perhaps more sustainable that deserts but not necessarily sustainable either.
If the Midwest isn't sustainable then the US has much bigger worries than some god-forsaken swamp. Where is everybody going to live? PNW? New England? It's going to get awfully cosy.
posted by Jehan at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2013


> Sure, by 2050 sea level rise will have a significant impact on Miami, but it's not going to render it uninhabitable.

Well, I'm not sure of your reasoning here. You're conceding a 1m rise in the sea level around Miami there, and it seems extremely likely that putting more energy into the climate system will continue to produce more and more extreme hurricanes.

Sure, when the weather's good a 1m rise in the water level isn't going to be a huge deal (though it's going to wreak havoc with the ground water) but what will the combination of a significantly higher water level and stronger hurricanes do?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:28 AM on June 25, 2013


Miami should just pack up and move to Detroit.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:30 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The water has to go somewhere

The water has to go EVERYWHERE, due to the porous, crumbling limestone bedrock (pretty much the same formation as the Yucatan, isn't it?) That's what Miami has that New Orleans doesn't. Levees are useless in Florida, because it just come up from the ground.

The question is, which goes first, Miami? Or Phoenix/Las Vegas? They have rather the opposite problem: not enough water. The amount of water in the Colorado River system is going to be around half, going forward, and it's not enough now. Combine that with millions of acres of dead trees due to bark borer beetles (a climate-change artifact that is already covering vast areas of the West, all the way to Alaska), and you've got major problems. I have predicted a shooting war in the Southwest over water before, and nothing I've read in the last couple of years is changing that prediction.
posted by Fnarf at 9:33 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rain water falling on Florida itself doesn't drain downwards into the aquifer with any speed, the topsoil and sedimentation prevents that. Indeed, the aquifer is under positive pressure, and many of the springs in northern Florida simply gush. Most of the water in it flows down from the Georgia mountains. Some rainwater does get there eventually but it's a very, very slow process. So, as far as drainage goes, it's absolutely not a factor.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:39 AM on June 25, 2013


Buyouts?! WTF?

It isn't really a "buyout" if the government gives you money for something worthless, is it?

Why do people who persist in building on flood plains or other areas deserve any buyouts? In particular, this is a group of people who, demographically, has generally been against "government handouts" in any form - who, statistically, have mocked us for our claims of "climate change coming".


The reason to give people buyouts is the same reason to give medical treatment even to people who were not vegan gym-goers their whole lives - a society with a large quantity of immiserated and desperate people is a bad place to live for everyone. A whole state (or states!) full of people who have lost everything, need to resettle and have no cash? How is that good for the country? That's an army of people who will be pushed into crime, who will live under bridges, who will die in the street or who will work for pennies on the dollar and undercut everyone else's wages. And why not share the risk? As a society, we're all going to get hit by global warming (I'm just now facing a huge bill as the result of the recent dangerous storm in Minnesota) - if we all have to absorb that as best each of us can, we'll just end up with an even more brutally polarized and dangerous society.

Yes, it would be briefly satisfying to say "ha ha, you acted the fool, now you must be a beggar" - that is, if none of those people are your relatives or friends.
posted by Frowner at 9:39 AM on June 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: Well, by 2050 is only a 40 cm rise; a foot and a half. 1m doesn't happen until 2080 or so. Climate model estimates give a 10% increase in cat 5 hurricanes by 2100, which is bad but not necessarily abandon Miami bad. Cities are huge investments in terms of time, infrastructure, economic structures, and just plain emotion. People don't abandon them easily, even when they should. I'm not saying Miami is going to be fine; it's going to get worse and worse. I'm just saying the timeline of the disaster is slower than the article is claiming.
posted by freedryk at 9:48 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


> The reason to give people buyouts is the same reason to give medical treatment even to people who were not vegan gym-goers their whole lives - a society with a large quantity of immiserated and desperate people is a bad place to live for everyone.

But we already HAVE such a society. There are over five times as many people incarcerated (2.5 million) as live in Miami proper (400k and change). For a tiny fraction of the money that it would cost to buy out every Miami citizen, we could reform our prisons, for example.

If we immunize affluent citizens forever from the consequences of their risk taking today, then what incentive do they have to avoid that risk taking? If the government simply announced, "Come 2020 (or 2025 or whatever) we won't be footing the bill if your house gets wiped out due to flood," people would have plenty of time to make an orderly withdrawal.

This is exactly the same as "Too Big To Fail". If you can take risks, knowing that if you fail the government will foot the bill, but if you succeed the positive results accrue to you only, then why wouldn't you?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:51 AM on June 25, 2013


> Where is everybody going to live?

Canada. Manifest Destiny!
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


> by 2050 is only a 40 cm rise [...] I'm just saying the timeline of the disaster is slower than the article is claiming.

Gotcha. Your reasoning seems good; sorry for being obtuse.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2013


The reason to give people buyouts-

And at what point should a bailout kick in? One house? A block? A zip code?

A congressional district?
posted by IndigoJones at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2013


> Where is everybody going to live?

The US has one of the lowest population densities of any industrialised country; there is plenty of room if people just stop building suburban sprawl. The real question is how is the US doing to deal with climate refugees from Mexico?
posted by freedryk at 9:54 AM on June 25, 2013


I don't see the climate issues in the article overwrought at all. I moved to the SoFla area nearly 20 years ago, just after Andrew. I've moved around, usually to "higher" ground, but after the last month of rain where schools were shut down and reading about nearly the entire system of Palm Beach schools being shut for a week due to rain ... not exaggerated.

It drains fast after a rain but only when there is a place to go. I purposely bought an SUV-like vehicle just to end the inconvenience of my car flooding out in random parking lots or being stuck on the wrong side of a minorly flooded road in an emergency. I've had four sedans or compact cars flooded (one twice) to the point where they were undriveable. (Wait, no, the AC gave out on the Accord - I didn't want to spend the $2k to fix it on an otherwise solid 13 year old car that had survived one flood).

Not much place left to move; when we leave our "high ground" home, hopefully in time for highschool, we'll rent or buy a disposable home, maybe a mobile home or something we can eat if we don't stay ahead of the next crash. And real estate is so effed up right now. Record rises in prices along record empty homes due to foreclosure.

We are going to vacation with the kids to the Keys, to the Everglades, on a huge lifetime of "last chance to see" mini breaks. Hey kids, this is Florida, take pictures. Oh, yeah, we had you take those pictures and memories as kids because we knew it wouldn't be there for much longer.

South Florida, most of the wang of Florida is not going to be fine. The physics don't support saving. Move to higher ground, pocket the profits, plant native fauna that will survive in your wake.

I was optimistic, somewhat, before Katrina. Now ... I'm just going to get out and wince at those left to drown and those massively profiting on the coming failure.
posted by tilde at 9:57 AM on June 25, 2013


For stbalbach and others talking about climate change refugees, legal scholar Maxine Burkett here at the University of Hawaii is grappling with the implications of ex situ nations (pdf).

The Maldives, Tuvalu and the other low-lying atoll nations may not have massive populations to contribute to the environmental refugee numbers, but what happens when their lands go under the waters? How can they remain sovereign nations, with fishing rights, cultural policies, passports, etc etc?
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:00 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


And let me re-emphasize that I'm completely and utterly in favor of a stronger safety net - for ALL citizens.

The issue is that the government continues to cut away at the safety net for the majority of its citizens - the poor and the "lower classes" - while it continues to add benefits for the affluent minority.

If the government is going to hand out $100K checks to affluent individuals who built or bought homes in a known flood plain despite decades of warnings, why don't they hand out $100K checks to people who never had a home to begin with?

Do I think that, if Miami drowns, its inhabitants should be left to fend for themselves? Not at all - I think that its citizens should be given the same basic but decent and livable housing that we should be giving to all citizens without a home.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:04 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't forget, Canada has a lot of open space as well. There's plenty of room between the two big mountain ranges in North America. But Mexico migrating would really complicate things.
posted by Ber at 10:06 AM on June 25, 2013


I read on the Internet somewhere that global warming isn't happening, so I'm cool.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:19 AM on June 25, 2013


But Mexico migrating would really complicate things.

Why do you think Certain People want to militarize the border, and have been holding immigration reform hostage until there's a "border surge"?
posted by aramaic at 10:24 AM on June 25, 2013


Eh. Soon enough my whole family will be dead. Everyone I ever liked, loved, hated, or who liked loved or hated me will be dead. Eventually there will be another ice age. All our cities will crumble. All our rivers and mountain ranges will change, and disappear. Most species of animals and plants I know will be gone in a cosmic wink. Those mountains will be replaced. There'll be new kinds of plants and animals. Maybe there'll be people. Then the sun will engulf everything. In the meantime I can drink whisky and listen to Kris Kristofferson records while I watch sun sets from my front porch.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lot of people here seem to be debating from the assumption that there will be some larger, relatively intact national superstructure in place from which to debate the finer points of saving Florida or letting it sink.

I would strongly suggest that there will be no question of whether or not to "save Florida" because, by the time it gets to that point, neither the United States or any other human framework on the planet will retain the degree of economic, political, technical, or logistical organization to be able to do it.

We are looking at a civilization-ending event - at least the highly abstract global civilization we are accustomed to - and a drop back to an at best industrial, and more likely agricultural, world with a vastly reduced human population. Regardless of where you are at that point, nobody is going to have the time or energy to worry too much about saving Florida. I'm not even sure most people will know what happened to Florida. Their kids won't know what Florida was.
posted by Naberius at 10:28 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


TheTingTangTong Eh. Soon enough my whole family will be dead... In the meantime I can drink whisky and listen to Kris Kristofferson records while I watch sun sets from my front porch.

If you plan on being dead before the middle third of this century, you can safely ignore any global warming threads. A lot of us, however, can reasonably expect to be alive in that timeframe, and would rather not have to deal with a catastophe of this scope, and would like to at least soften the blow.
posted by spaltavian at 10:31 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah well, I hate to sound this way, but don't get too much pee on your trousers while you're pissing in the wind. I'm gonna go work in the garden.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 10:32 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Naberius I would strongly suggest that there will be no question of whether or not to "save Florida" because, by the time it gets to that point, neither the United States or any other human framework on the planet will retain the degree of economic, political, technical, or logistical organization to be able to do it.

We are looking at a civilization-ending event - at least the highly abstract global civilization we are accustomed to - and a drop back to an at best industrial, and more likely agricultural, world with a vastly reduced human population.


I think your strong suggestion is very wrong. We'll be dealing with highly stressed states, but states function under worse conditions now. The quality of life in the Western world will decline, but places like the United States will fare much better than most of the world. The loss will be terrible, but to imagine that the technological level of the world will return to a pre-industrial level is primitivist fantasy.

We need to be sober in our assessment of the threat in order to actually plan.
posted by spaltavian at 10:34 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah well, I hate to sound this way

I don't know what you mean. That nothing can be done? That's demonstrably false. That nothing will be done? That's highly likely, though attitudes such as yours are one (of many) reasons for that. I'm not sure why you are posting in a thread just to say how much you don't care. Surely a better display of your apathy would be not to post?
posted by spaltavian at 10:37 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Contingency planning encompasses a broad spectrum of possible assets, impacts and threats in order to ascertain the likelihood of a variety of possible outcomes, and then creates appropriate responses to each outcome with the amount of effort expended on each response proportional to its risk, which is a combination of probability and degree of negative impact.

So, no, we shouldn't be ignoring the 5% probabilities of Miami being under water in 50 years. That's a high risk scenario and one should look at it, as you say, soberly.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:42 AM on June 25, 2013


It's not about my lack of empathy; show me a picture of a child soldier and I'll cry. It's about yall having less stress in your lives. The fact is the Earth is getting warmer and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT (if it's demonstrably false then go ahead and prove me wrong). The Earth will heat. Then cool, then heat again. Instead of getting worked up about counterfactuals that may or may not affect you, you could be planting sunflowers or building a chicken coop or riding your bike or something. You can attack my sense of morality or whatever by calling me apathetic all you want (in fact, go ahead and do that if it makes you feel good) but the fact is that you're just puffing CO2 into the air every time you hit the 'post comment' button instead of taking a walk along your nearest river with your dog and loved ones.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 10:45 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


spaltavian & Naberius: I'm not sure where to come down on this. Up to 2100 climate change isn't actually that bad. But past 2300, it does get into civilization-ending event territory. At 8-10 degrees C warming parts of India, Africa, China, and the Western US appear to become uninhabitable because sweating wouldn't be able to cool a body fast enough to avoid heatstroke. There'd be about 7m of sea level rise, and it would be rising by 2-5m per century for the foreseeable future. I don't believe we'll ever get to this condition because by 2050 Global Warming will be so obvious it'll be politically impossible to ignore the problem, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

But the article is definitely exaggerating the threat over the next 50-100 years, and I agree that is harmful. We do need sober assessment of the threat, if only so that when 2050 rolls around and Miami is still relatively untouched deniers can't pull this article out and shout "SEE! YOU'RE ALL ALARMIST FOOLS!"
posted by freedryk at 10:45 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


TheTingTangTong: There is a lot we can do about the Earth getting warmer. Carbon taxes being one of the most effective things, for example.
posted by freedryk at 10:47 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay. Implement them, you won't see me complain. In fact, I'd be happy if gasoline cost $8/gallon in the US, and people stopped driving and whatever extra money was made went to sequestering carbon. You still won't stop climate change. We all want our cities and planet to be immutable, but they aren't.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 10:49 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Spaltavian, I would very much like it if you were right. If nothing else because I'm possibly going to be a father before too long, and I would like my child to have a future.

But apart from the sheer physical impact, there's the fact that this is hitting us in a place where we are apparently completely unable to react as a society in any useful fashion.

We need to be sober in our assessment of the threat in order to actually plan.

The secondary point of the article, it seemed to me, was that not only is this a huge problem, but we are completely lacking in the capacity to soberly assess the threat, much less actually execute a useful plan.

To borrow a metaphor from Jared Diamond's Collapse, we in this situation remind me a hell of a lot of the Norse colonists in Greenland who died out because they refused to adopt the "unacceptable " ways of life that allowed the natives to get along just fine there.

Yeah, I may be overstating a fall back to pre-industrial civilization, particularly given that "industrial" could mean a textile mill driven by a waterwheel. But I'd be very surprised if there were any Internet, global overnight shipping, commercial air travel, advanced pharmaceuticals, auto industry, television networks, modern factory farming, or significant white collar employment.

(I would expect the percentage of the population engaged in farming to return to at least 19th century levels. If nothing else, it will be a localvore's dream.)
posted by Naberius at 10:50 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


TheTingTangTong, aren't you supposed to be out working in your garden?

I don't understand your attitude when it comes to posting in this thread. Is your point basically "Fuck it"? I think every bit of extra knowledge about this subject could ultimately help us. Every bit of extra panic. Every time this discussion comes about, maybe a few more people will be convinced that something needs to be done, and maybe eventually the right people make the right choices that could make life comfortable a little longer for our world's population. This isn't trivial. I don't know how you could brush off the potential suffering of millions of people with "Well hey, quit yer stressin' out and walk your dog because eventually everyone dies and solar systems cool and the universe will keep on expanding."

Why even bother waking up at that point?
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 10:53 AM on June 25, 2013


TheTingTangTong: Actually, that would stop climate change. In fact, if our civilization survives into the truly long term, we will likely implement some kind of global atmospheric CO2 treaty aimed at preventing large climate changes from occurring; when the Earth's orbital configuration puts us into ice age territory, we'll release more CO2, and when we are in a warmer orbital configuration, we'll pull it out of the atmosphere. 2 km of ice over Chicago would just be too much of a crimp in our style.
posted by freedryk at 10:54 AM on June 25, 2013


Lay off TingTangTong, guys, we all went through a stoicist phase in high school, didn't we?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:56 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


you're just puffing CO2 into the air every time you hit the 'post comment' button

This single line demonstrates that you have essentially no idea what is actually being debated. Whether that is willful or not is a separate matter, but the "you emit CO2 when you breathe!!1!" line is so completely irrelevant, and extraneous to the issues being discussed, that it borders on the hilarious.

It's rather akin to discussing airstrikes overseas and interjecting something about how rocks can also fall from the sky and kill people.

Mutability, meanwhile, is equally irrelevant. I'm not sure it's possible to find a climatologist who believes that the world is immutable. Mutability and immutability have nothing whatsoever to do with the argument at hand, and spouting the terms as though you were trying to create a hayseed koan is, while mildly amusing, not especially useful or insightful.
posted by aramaic at 10:59 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey I ride my bike to work, so ain't no flood gonna get me!
posted by Mister_A at 11:00 AM on June 25, 2013



Seanmpuckett: The southern end of Florida should never have been anything more than a bunch of orange groves and sugar plantations, grubby retirement communities and a bunch of resorts for the rich and wish-they-were-rich -- that would have been sustainable.

The ports and the commerce and population that sprang up around them were the standing up of dominoes that have gotten bigger and bigger, and when they fall they will fall fast and hard, and no one will pick them up again.

It's a folly, and the state has set itself up to implode to try to protect it.


Hear him!

Postroad: For those who dislike Floridians, remember they might move [back]* to where you live

Amended that for you.


* . . . along with all the other weather-wimps who moved to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Houston, etc. during the last 40 years.

========================
Electoral Votes by State
      1972  2012  2052
========================
IL    26    20    ?
OH    25    18    ?
MI    21    16    ?

AZ     6    11    ?
FL    17    29    ?
TX    26    38    ?
CA    40    55    ?
=======================

Hi guys! You see that flat greenish-brown area out there? Remember that? That's not desert: that's a fifth of the world's fresh surface water right there, right outside my door (relatively speaking). And it's 600 feet above sea level, so it's not gonna rise when the ice melts.

I said you'd be back.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:01 AM on June 25, 2013


> Looking at topo maps, it appears Miami can easily withstand a 3 foot rise without going under.

In reality that's not how it will play out. Read the FPP. See the quotes about insurance rates, storms, politics, money, drinking water, sewage. Money. Investors, insurance, private capital - it may only take 1 foot to effectively abandon Miami, we don't know because so much is riding on economics which is notoriously resistant to prediction (unlike sea level rise, human behavior is hard to predict). The FPP gave us some things to consider how cities actually drown, beyond simplistic topo map lines. I don't think it's fear mongering things may get bad faster than people believe (if they believe at all) due to certain political, infrastructure, geographic and cultural conditions in Miami.
posted by stbalbach at 11:17 AM on June 25, 2013


Yeah so I am pretty sure the validity of science does not precariously hinge on the accuracy of a prediction the UN once made.
posted by threeants at 11:19 AM on June 25, 2013


spaltavian & Naberius: I'm not sure where to come down on this. Up to 2100 climate change isn't actually that bad. But past 2300, it does get into civilization-ending event territory.

Speculation, but I think the world in 2100 will be more likely to be one with technological ability for some climate change mitigation than to be Mad Max. This is even with a difficult time 21st century. Consider that we currently have some ability to mitigate climate change, we lack the political and economic will, rather than raw technological skill. We wouldn't be very good at it, but articial ways to increase the Earth's albedo would probably be cheaper today than developing more alternative energy sources.

This is not to be hand-wavey about the threat. The "someone will figure something out" concept is part of the reason we've put ourselves in this position. However, the magnitute of the threat, and the timeline we have means that some science fictions sounding options should be considered. They may not be so fictional in 2100, with proper R&D today.
posted by spaltavian at 11:21 AM on June 25, 2013


It's not about my lack of empathy

I said apathy. Again, what's the point of your "you should be walking your dog" nonsense? I think the Que Sera Sera mindset is a huge part of the reason we are in this mess. We did this, it wasn't an mysterious outside force.
posted by spaltavian at 11:24 AM on June 25, 2013


If it seems like I have a bad attitude about this I'd like to apologize. I don't honestly understand what the concern is, and why this discussion about what might or might not happen 50 years or 50 million years in the future has devolved into yet another Republican/Democratic standoff. Climate change is an unavoidable fact of our existence on Earth. It happened before we got to talk about it on the internet, and it'll happen long after we're gone. So I am trying, as best as I can, to see the use of pitting Miami against New Orleans, or the Right Policy Makers against the Wrong Policy Makers, when you are dealing with a force of nature far larger and more complicated than any of us can really deal with.

If it seems obtuse to say south Florida will crumble into the ocean and that's just the facts of life yall have to deal with. . .Well. I guess I was born dumb and will have to deal with that on my own. What I am trying to figure out is why the discussion is about stopping an unstoppable and hard to understand force when all you can really do is control your own personal choices. This, to me, would be a more interesting subject.

I don't have the energy to serve up retorts to the bizarre attacks on my character/intelligence/morality/age offered up here, but I do apologize if I offended you because I can only imagine your lack of etiquette stems from a perceived personal slight which wasn't intended.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 11:26 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


spaltavian: yeah, I agree it's most likely we'll fix it before it ever gets really bad. But nevertheless, the possibility exists. There is fossil evidence of crocodiles living in the Arctic Circle, so there's no reason to suppose we couldn't drive the planet into a crazy greenhouse planet if we really wanted to.
posted by freedryk at 11:27 AM on June 25, 2013


Climate change is an unavoidable fact of our existence on Earth. It happened before we got to talk about it on the internet, and it'll happen long after we're gone

Your argument is that I shouldn't bother wearing my seat belt, because I might get cancer.

Yes, climate changes on its own. Yes, another Ice Age in the next 50,000 to 100,000 years is inevitable. The difference is that man made global warming is happening on a much faster timetable than most natural changes. It's faster than we can adapt. And, it will result in a world far less productive, safe and enjoyable than it is today.

Since we caused it, we know how we caused it, and have some ideas about how to at least make it not worse, why shouldn't we consider doing something about it?
posted by spaltavian at 11:31 AM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think this discussion touches upon personal choices quite well. That is not the focus, but going "I don't understand why you're talking about this part when you should be talking about that part" isn't very helpful. We're going to have events happen in the next few decades that will force people out of their homes, costing many lives in the process. Engaging policy makers is going to be critical, and unfortunately we have a large political party that is actively damaging public perception about our futures. That perception then shapes our actions. It's not very easy to have this topic be completely a-political.

Now when it comes to "stopping the unstoppable," I think at this point it is an absolute DREAM to consider this stoppable. I think right now we need to be thinking about minimizing the damage we know is coming, because we still have the time to do it. Twiddling our thumbs, or shrugging off the big picture because nature is fierce and unstoppable is both cruel and callous.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2013


delmoi - I have heard various scientists quoted to the effect that we are near or at some point of no return.

Here is a recent article.
That article is just about passing 400 PPM, there is nothing about passing a "point of no return" on increasing temperatures, the 400 PPM isn't that different from 399 PPM or 401 PPM, it's just a number.
Apart from the fact that many people think we're already at the tipping point there is no way to completely halt emissions overnight.
The question was about a hypothetical "Dictator Gore", who could presumably just blow up CO2 emitting power plants all over the world.

Anyway, as I've mentioned before we could eliminate almost all US emissions by spending about 1.4 trillion dollars a year on renewable energy over 10 years.
I wonder how the world's climate would look, in ten or twenty years, if we all just didn't make more people during that time.
It wouldn't make any difference at all, Children typically live with their parents, ride on school busses instead of having their own cars, etc. Their carbon footprints are obviously really low.
Well, I'm not sure of your reasoning here. You're conceding a 1m rise in the sea level around Miami there, and it seems extremely likely that putting more energy into the climate system will continue to produce more and more extreme hurricanes.
Well, just rebuild everything in hurricane proof form.
Yeah well, I hate to sound this way, but don't get too much pee on your trousers while you're pissing in the wind. I'm gonna go work in the garden. -- TheTingTangTong
What's that saying, "if you're not a part of the solution you're a part of the problem?"
It's about yall having less stress in your lives. The fact is the Earth is getting warmer and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT .. Instead of getting worked up about counterfactuals that may or may not affect you, you could be planting sunflowers or building a chicken coop or riding your bike or something. -- TheTingTangTong
Then why are you even posting in this thread? Just to sit here and tell us you're going to be fiddling away while the whole world burns? What do you want, Congratulations? Riding a bike for a few minutes puts more CO2 in the air then posting a comment on metafilter, by the way (Although obviously far less then driving a car)
posted by delmoi at 11:43 AM on June 25, 2013


why this discussion about what might or might not happen 50 years or 50 million years in the future has devolved into yet another Republican/Democratic standoff

Um, because of the many important policies surrounding disaster mitigation will decide the fate of millions of actual human lives? People are going to vote on this, you know.

I don't have the energy to serve up retorts to the bizarre attacks on my character/intelligence/morality/age offered up here,

Ah, going the traditional cop-out route I see. Cutting right to the chase. "Hey everyone, here's my crappy opinion - don't bother arguing! OK bye now!"
posted by windbox at 11:44 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Typical "it doesn't affect me so why should I care" bullshit.
Yeah, no kidding. Millions of people are going to suffer, and lots of them are going to straight up die. TheTingTangTong feels like waxing poetic about the fact that he just doesn't give a fuck about anyone unless he's staring at a picture of them, it's more important to him to have a "stress free life" then give a shit about anyone else on the planet. Ugh.
posted by delmoi at 11:49 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


TheTingTangTong: I do appreciate the idea that we should try to keep our negative emotions down because it won't do any good - but your idea that "there's nothing we can do" is not just defeatist, it's plain wrong.

WE are the ones causing this; we could slow down the change by slowing down the amount of carbon we release into the air; and we could start now to mitigate the issue by rebuilding our cities. We are a rich society - we have the money today, right now, particularly if we redirected some of the trillions we waste on warfare with tiny poor countries.

Eventually, people will have to react. By continuing to make sure that everyone has all the information they need to make an informed decision, we push up the day that everyone understands that there is a real problem, and decrease the damage - which could mean a massive different to hundreds of millions of people.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:50 AM on June 25, 2013


Yeah well, I hate to sound this way....

What way do you think you sound? "Fuck you, I've got mine"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do believe resources will be scarce in the future, that the first world will have an unfair advantage over the third, and that if suffering can be avoided it should be.

That is not the focus, but going "I don't understand why you're talking about this part when you should be talking about that part" isn't very helpful.

Sorry, didn't mean to suggest you should or shouldn't do anything. Also, sorry I'm not being helpful. I don't think there isn't anything we can do; I acknowledge the cold fact that there is a population/resource mismatch, even if I'm not fully convinced that humans caused this current round of climate change (though it is certainly happening, and we're not helping, I don't think you can prove we CAUSED it). To my mind, aside from the oil issue, healthcare, water and food will be the main sources of wealth and what will divide the haves from the have-nots. There is also the issue of location, but I don't see an easy solution to that. I could write a whole big thing about day-to-day choices that benefit us all but most of it is only pertinent to people who are privileged enough to live in the first world.

Now when it comes to "stopping the unstoppable," I think at this point it is an absolute DREAM to consider this stoppable. I think right now we need to be thinking about minimizing the damage we know is coming, because we still have the time to do it. Twiddling our thumbs, or shrugging off the big picture because nature is fierce and unstoppable is both cruel and callous.

I agree with you, and I think I understand the gap here now; I don't see any peep of a solution ever coming from The US Government. Here, again, I think it will be individuals who are capable of the most harm reduction. I can't believe I sound like a libertarian but really, the government follows the money and those of you who are accusing me of not caring (I really hope that makes you feel good) probably realize that people with money don't really care about you (and thus, I don't see the Government stepping up).

Hence, it makes more sense to me to focus on what individuals can and should do in their own lives, rather than talk about about whatever scheme you've cooked up and Government should implement. So, what will you do to avert this disaster?

Typical "it doesn't affect me so why should I care" bullshit. But it does affect me? Nice use of cussing yall, I totally feel cut down to size.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 12:12 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well bless your heart.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 12:14 PM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Individual actions have no chance to improve the situation. We need actual legislation, and most likely on a global scale, to create meaningful change for global warming. It's that bad.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 12:17 PM on June 25, 2013


Because weeping and pulling your hair won't change a damned thing. There's really nothing you can do about it to "fix it," and that includes making an effort to feel bad about the situation. The die was cast decades ago.

Synchronized displays of distress will not solve anything and neither will chastising people for not joining up in your synchronized display of distress. Folks want their two-point-five kids (or more). The United States has spent over half a century making movies about the Good Life for the rest of the world to watch, and now they want their SUVs, too, with lux interior and DVD TV in the visor, with the kind of air-conditioning that will cool a keg in the generous back.

Short of a plague to drop the world's population down to about a billion or advanced mind control techniques, attempting to maneuver around these coming disasters is like trying to pull a U-y on a dirt road with the equivalent of the Titanic. This is human nature we are talking about, and one entirely willing to render the globe glowing and uninhabitable for most multicellular life over mere ideology. We'd certainly do it over a little inconvenience.
posted by adipocere at 12:26 PM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Reaction to climate change is not limited to attempts to thwart or mitigate the unfolding climatological disaster itself. It also comprises our policy responses to the new reality we face, which is absolutely within our purview. Even if catastrophic climate change is a complete inevitability, the choices we make now are of paramount importance.
posted by threeants at 12:31 PM on June 25, 2013


I guess I'm a little befuddled about coming into a thread about tons of people suffering in the near future, where posters are discussing the need for action, and responding with "NOPE WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE ANYWAY GO PLAY OUTSIDE YOUR DISTRESS IS MEANINGLESS HUMAN NATURE SUCKS!"

What's the proper way to read this kind of thing? It's all nice and well that you're ready to throw up your hands and live out the rest of your own life in whatever comforts are available, in more and more limited quantities. Some of us think this stuff is important however.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 12:32 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I respect your opinion. My own is that that will never happen.

In between posts I've been going out to the back of my house. There are chickens eating tics. There's also 7 beehives, which is portion of the total number of beehives that I own. I've been keeping bees for 6 years now, and I think I'm pretty good at it. I understand bees a lot better than I did six years ago.

I keep thinking about the crisis currently going on all around us. The massive death of bees. People say '1 in blah blah foods comes from bees.' 'Einstein said we'd all die in blah blah years without bees.' 'Without bees we'lll have no food!' There is a neverending well of possible futures you can dip into if you'd like.

At present, the fact is that honey bees don't even belong in North America. They're lousy pollinators of food crops when compared to native bees. There are 4,000 native bee species better suited to pollinating our apples and squash and onions. The bees that are dying are tools used by monoculture agriculturists.

The system of agriculture we built up around honey-bees isn't sustainable (like our use of resources). And no one will acknowledge that until it comes crashing down because $cha-ching.$ But bee's don't care. They were here before us, and despite it all, they'll be here after us, after Miami falls away and Stockholm is covered in ice and Paris swallowed by tectonic drift. But the histrionics will continue, served up by well intentioned but clueless people who can sleep better at night after they've laid out their world view and disparaged anyone who doesn't see it the same way.

Meanwhile, for me personally, I'm going to make what I think of as conscientious life choices in my day-to-day existence because that is literally all that I can do. I'm interested here in things some of you might do to make your own little corner of the world better, and I can't really change that either.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 12:39 PM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay. So you think it's important. Other people disagree and think it was important and is now irrelevant because the time during which we could have done something has passed. You can get what you want, though, if you work on the advanced mind control option I suggested above.
posted by adipocere at 12:40 PM on June 25, 2013


adipocere, I don't know what you're trying to achieve by telling us that everything is futile. If you don't think we are going to be capable of easing the blow or minimizing the damage of global warming on any scale, then I don't think you have much reason to continue posting. I believe at this point you're truly in danger of being the person who says "Don't bother, we're all doomed anyway" to someone who may be capable of real help.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 12:44 PM on June 25, 2013


TheTingTangTong, that is in fact not literally all that you can do. You sound like you would be capable of reaching out to your local representatives, and voting at each election with this issue in mind (along with other issues important to you). I think it's vital to not let policies that could potentially help fall by the wayside, simply because things aren't bad enough yet and your own personal garden is a decent enough sanctuary for now.

I understand that sometimes it all feels too futile. I know it sounds like stopping the tides. But it would be irresponsible for us, going forward, to think on this issue in a purely personal scale.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 12:50 PM on June 25, 2013


Tequila Mockingbird, I don't know what you're trying to achieve by telling us that it is not futile. If you do think we are going to be capable of easing the blow or minimizing the damage of global warming on any scale, then I don't think you don't have much reason to continue posting. I believe at this point you're truly in danger of being the person who says "Be needlessly distressed because I say so" to people who are incapable of real help.

I'm reversing everything you've written because your intense focus on trying to make other people be quiet when they disagree is bothersome to me and it seems like it is going to take a bit of effort to make you realize that. Telling people who disagree with you that they should stop posting is ... not great.

I understand that you deeply passionately believe your viewpoint. Other people deeply passionately believe their viewpoints, which just might be different than yours.
posted by adipocere at 1:00 PM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since a) this is turning into a "it's futile!" vs. "it's not futile!" thread and b) my contribution looks like a vote for "it's futile!", let me add a bit more nuance.

I do think that we're well beyond the point where we can stop climate change from dramatically impacting our global civilization and forever changing our (or our children's or grandchildren's) individual lives- forget saving Miami. I don't think individual action can prevent the physical changes that are coming, and I don't think we're capable of the kind of concerted social/global action it would take to stop CO2 emissions, even if doing so were still able to head off drastic climate change.

So I think it's pretty much settled that these things are going to happen. But I also think that we can prepare ourselves for them, and better adapt to a world in which they have happened. And I believe in that respect, individual action can be useful, if only in helping us develop the skills to live in a post climate change world.

An example would be biochar, something individuals and small organizations can do to actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere. I don't think individuals doing this are going to even begin to counteract the massive amounts of CO2 being released by billions of aspiring middle class people in the third world or by the dirty manufacturing component of the global economy. But it doesn't hurt. And more importantly, it produces more fertile agricultural land, which is going to be a very precious thing when that global economy starts to unravel and food isn't being shipped into your suburban neighborhood from four different continents to replenish the Safeway overnight.
posted by Naberius at 1:19 PM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


"[...] your intense focus on trying to make other people be quiet when they disagree [...]"

My apologies, what I really wanted was an elaboration beyond what the futility mindset offered, which just sounded to me like we should all give up. Would you come into a thread about curing cancer to say "Don't bother, we're all going to die eventually"? Or a thread about rebuilding a city after an earthquake/flood/hurricane to say "Don't bother, we're all going to die eventually" which would be slightly more relevant?

I'm not trying to make you shut up. I just think it would help foster a better discussion if we didn't have one side telling us we shouldn't bother doing a damn thing because the sun will extinguish one day.

Telling people that they should stop trying to improve the world is ... not great.

Thanks!
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 1:32 PM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, we've definitely got good representation from the "nothing we can do about it, so I'm goin' fishin'" crowd. Now all we need is the more aggressive "I've got 100,000 rounds of ammo and a bunker, so bring it on!" crowd. You know... for balance.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:36 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read through this thread earlier and people were asking about and mentioning where these climate refugees would go as these events occur. Someone else mentioned that the U.S. has plenty of room as long as urban sprawl can be stopped and reversed (please correct me if I'm wrong, I was on my phone at the time and unable to save the quotes). My question is: is there anywhere really reliable in the nation that would be good for these significant amounts of people to go to? The west coast/Cascadian region is waiting on a catastrophic earthquake that is suppose to destroy our coasts and big cities, the southwest has water and sprawl issues, the midwest has tornadoes, and the east coast has hurricanes and has to deal with the rising oceans. Maybe that is an overly simplistic point of view and and I am certainly missing some things, but what would be the most reliable place for people to be moved to in the coming decades/centuries?
posted by gucci mane at 1:51 PM on June 25, 2013


Likewise, I forgot to add, the SW would be the first to be hit with climate refugees coming from Mexico.
posted by gucci mane at 1:52 PM on June 25, 2013


I think the most effective things an individual can do is make personal choices to reduce their own footprint & also engage with others in their communities about those issues. That's the core of social change, right there: do it yourself, and advocate for it. Let's not fool ourselves that one internet chat room is going to make much difference on its own but by talking about the problem among ourselves here and then taking action personally as we are able, and sharing those concerns outward to other communities, we're doing what we can as individuals. I wouldn't suggest being smug or sanctimonious about it, just make changes and then prove to your networks that what you're doing has benefits for you, and maybe they'll pick up on it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:53 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


As for where will people go, I'm pretty sure that the population of Canada is going to triple this century.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:54 PM on June 25, 2013


As for where will people go, I'm pretty sure that the population of Canada is going to triple this century.

There's a reason large parts of Canada are empty: there's less arable land in Canada than in the U.S. And it's not like the amount of arable land in Canada is going to increase significantly in the next century.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:58 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the most effective things an individual can do is make personal choices to reduce their own footprint & also engage with others in their communities about those issues.

Yes. This is what bridges the gap between the fatalists and the activists. I know that my sense of futility and despair drove me to localize my activism, and in doing so, I'm finding many of my fellow citizens feel the same way. There is a constructive sort of comfort in that.

That being said, at some point mass action will occur. You can count on it. In fact, the ruling classes are counting on it, hence the militarized police, PRISM, drones, etc.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:59 PM on June 25, 2013


Maybe that is an overly simplistic point of view and and I am certainly missing some things, but what would be the most reliable place for people to be moved to in the coming decades/centuries?

Really, anywhere in the United States, including the places you probably think are "full". America is one of (if not the) least densely populated large nations on the planet. ("Large" meaning total population.)

The average world density (land, without Antarctica) is 137 people per square mile. America's population density is 89 per square mile. China's is 365, which in practice is much higher, because so much of the country is uninhabitable mountains and deserts.

The US has plenty of room. Major countries that are less densely populated have either a much smaller population or large uninhabitable areas (Canada, Australia and Russia). Brazil is somewhat of an exception, as the Amazon area would be habitable if the forest were cut down, which is happening, sadly.

The natural disasters you refer to are certainly real threats, but everywhere in the world has some disaster they might realistically face.
posted by spaltavian at 2:00 PM on June 25, 2013


My apologies, what I really wanted was an elaboration beyond what the clap-for-Tinkerbell crowd offered, which just sounded like polishing the silverware on the Titanic. Would you come into a thread about terminal cancer to say "If you pray enough, the Lord will save you?" Or a thread about rebuilding a city on the side of an active volcano to say, "If we only use better building codes this time, we would be safe," which would be slightly more sane?

I'm not trying to make you shut up. I just think it would help foster a better discussion if we didn't have one side telling us that the plane won't crash if we just scream loudly enough.

Telling people that they should pointlessly panic is ... not great.

Frankly, if people want to do something constructive, lead-lined seed vaults which can only open if our distant descendants can complete some kind of touch-activated test on a reinforced panel, after receiving direction on rebuilding civilization from some solar-powered instructional monolith would be the most productive use of our time. The test would weed out the impatient, who would probably eat the seeds for dinner, given the opportunity. Not a bad metaphor for humanity as a whole.

Now, if we could only preserve various fish species for long after the coming collapse of the fisheries. We'd need to select for something that eats jellyfish and sea urchins ...
posted by adipocere at 2:10 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be delighted to be wrong about the pessimistic position. It's certainly appropriate in this kind of venue to ask for documentation of my claim that I've heard more than one scientist say that they think this way, that it is already too late to prevent significant warming, and I'm sorry I don't really have any more. This was more a report of my thinking lately - nothing is going to be done until dramatic consequences appear - and not a position that I have researched in a way that I have tons of sources at hand. So I am not in a position to convince anyone of anything they don't already agree with, really.

It would be great if the climate change skeptics are right. I hope they are. If the climatological community is right instead, there is going to be immense human suffering.
posted by thelonius at 2:13 PM on June 25, 2013


adipocere: Do you maybe think that some people are getting "shrill" because so many of their fellow humans are refusing to even acknowledge there's a problem? And, not only that, there are powerful forces spending huge sums of money to obscure what's happening?

In so asking, I'm accepting your framing, but I don't really buy it. Can you give me any links to comments in this thread from people advocating "pointless panic"?
posted by mondo dentro at 2:32 PM on June 25, 2013


Obama: "We Don't Have Time for a Meeting of the Flat Earth Society". The president described a wide-ranging executive agenda on climate change in a speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday.
posted by homunculus at 2:38 PM on June 25, 2013


My apologies, what I really wanted was an elaboration beyond what the clap-for-Tinkerbell crowd offered, which just sounded like polishing the silverware on the Titanic. Would you come into a thread about terminal cancer to say "If you pray enough, the Lord will save you?" Or a thread about rebuilding a city on the side of an active volcano to say, "If we only use better building codes this time, we would be safe," which would be slightly more sane?


Do you genuinely believe that there are not some plans and polices that will mitigate more of the disaster, than other different plans and polices?

I live in New Orleans. Should we just forget about improving the levy infrastructure, or keeping evacuation plans current, because we are just all fucked anyhow?
posted by St. Sorryass at 2:46 PM on June 25, 2013


empath: "The Jersey Shore still hasn't recovered from Sandy, really."

Nor should it. Building cities on barrier islands is a recklessly terrible idea. Even in absence of climate-change-induced weather weirdness, it would be a bad idea to continue encouraging people to live in places like Long Beach Island.
posted by schmod at 2:54 PM on June 25, 2013


If they are being shrill (your word, not mine), then that shrillness is directed at the wrong people. Be shrill at the people who do not believe anything is going to happen and their compatriots, if you like, although I believe it is a useless action at this point.

I think New Orleans is going to get soaked again because the physical events will occur once more and human nature hasn't changed.

I think there probably are policies and plans that would avert some the disaster. I don't believe any of those are palatable to humans and human nature. You know the trolley problem? This is a very large trolley problem and, unfortunately, people tend to opt for inaction which leaves their hands clean versus actions that are "dirty" but solve the problem.
posted by adipocere at 3:23 PM on June 25, 2013


Glad I made that trip to the Cape when I did. Shame about the off-world colonies.
posted by Devonian at 3:41 PM on June 25, 2013


Does anyone besides me have a Billy Joel song stuck in their head?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:12 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it might be more compelling to talk about sea level rise by talking about its effect on the storm surge for typical hurricane intensity levels. It's not the sea level rise itself that's the risk, it's the fact that the higher sea level lowers the bar for what constitutes a damaging storm without requiring that their intensity increase beyond present levels, which have already been catastrophic. A city does not need to be permanently under water to be ruined. It just needs to happen once.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:19 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because weeping and pulling your hair won't change a damned thing. There's really nothing you can do about it to "fix it," and that includes making an effort to feel bad about the situation. -- adipocere
Do you have any scientific data to back that up? Even if you believe the earth will still heat up if we stop emitting CO2, it will heat up more if we continue to do it. It's not an on/off switch between 'fucked' and 'not fucked' - continuing to emit CO2 will make things even worse.

But hey, you know, you're a rich first world person who probably doesn't own sea-front property, it's just going to mean a bigger air conditioning bill for you, right? So fuck everyone else on the planet.
Tequila Mockingbird, I don't know what you're trying to achieve by telling us that it is not futile. -- adipocere


I don't know why you think you're a climate scientist, when clearly you have no idea what you're talking about. What are you basing this crap on? Do you know anything about climate science at all?

How much hotter will the earth be in 2100 if we cut carbon emissions by 90% in the next ten years? How much hotter will it be if we continue to emit CO2 at the same rate for the duration?

Do you have an answer to that question? If not, what the why are you even talking? Because it sounds as though you think you know, but clearly you couldn't possibly - because otherwise you wouldn't be saying the things you're saying.

The "no hopers" are just as bad as the deniers, and their nonsense is just unscientific, and just as much a lie.

----
Would you come into a thread about terminal cancer to say "If you pray enough, the Lord will save you?" Or a thread about rebuilding a city on the side of an active volcano to say, "If we only use better building codes this time, we would be safe," which would be slightly more sane? -- adipocere
Again, where is the science to back up anything you're saying? What you're saying is more the equivalent of telling someone with early-stage lung cancer that it's too late and there's no need for them to stop smoking 2 packs a day
Telling people that they should pointlessly panic is ... not great. -- adipocere
First of all, it actually is time to panic. Secondly, If you think everyone is doomed what fucking difference does it make? If you're already making plans for "lead-lined seed vaults which can only open if our distant descendants" and "solar-powered instructional monoliths" then what difference does it even make?

Also, what you're talking about is absurd. First world society isn't going to "collapse", it's mostly going to be the third world where people have real problems anyway, which means no matter how much you ignore the problem you are not going to be the one suffering.

I think one thing the "no hopers" do understand is that the problem isn't going to personally affect them very much, so they can go ahead and ignore it if they want too.

All this talk about "human nature" What do you know about Human nature anyway? Human nature isn't to ignore a problem until it destroys us, human nature is to ignore a problem until it becomes untenable, then at the vary last minute panic and try to fix it.
posted by delmoi at 4:33 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was there any industrialization 125000 years ago or 3 million years ago?

If the earth was warm then with high sea levels, doesn't that indicate a periodic fluctuation versus a byproduct of our existence?
posted by Renoroc at 5:01 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Human nature created the Sahara desert from what was a lush, verdant landscape.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:05 PM on June 25, 2013


If they are being shrill... then that shrillness is directed at the wrong people. Be shrill at the people who do not believe anything is going to happen and their compatriots, if you like, although I believe it is a useless action at this point.

No one is directing anything like that at anyone, and I defy to find a representative instance of any such thing on this thread. You're projecting your pain onto the words of others. I empathize with the sense of futility and doom. But I also hear the thin-skinned defensiveness of someone who's arguing in bad faith--not because you are hiding the horrible truth about impending catastrophe from yourself, but because you are hiding the horrible implication that that realization has for your responsibility to yourself, your loved ones, your society, and your planet. I mean, not only did we not get our jet packs...

I get it. I've been there, and I'll be there again. It sucks major ass. But petulant defeatism (verging on nihilism) isn't going to lead us to an ethos I have any interest in. I'm betting you don't really think it does, either.

Hey, if you think you can pull of the apocalypse-proof seed bank, go for it. It's worth a shot. Me, I'm wondering how close to the arctic circle my descendents will be living, and rereading my Camus.
posted by mondo dentro at 5:21 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Human nature created the Sahara desert from what was a lush, verdant landscape.

What Happened to the Mysterious Humans of the Sahara 7,000 Years Ago?
posted by homunculus at 5:41 PM on June 25, 2013


the 400 PPM isn't that different from 399 PPM or 401 PPM

What you're missing is that there IS a tipping point, but it's not 400 PPM, it's 350 PPM.

Also, if the US mysteriously ceased to exist tomorrow, world CO2 production would continue not just to rise but to skyrocket -- we'd be back where we are today in no time. China and the rest of the developing world are coming up with new ways to burn as much carbon as they possibly can as fast as they possibly can; their economic growth depends on it. It doesn't matter what we do.

Third, the effects are not theoretical and in the future; many of them have already happened, or have started to -- like the forest die-offs I mentioned above.
posted by Fnarf at 7:00 PM on June 25, 2013


Hah, mondo, I'm completely serious. Ask me if I have a retirement fund. There's nothing petulant about my particular outlook. I'm just moving to the non-screaming section of the plunging aircraft and grabbing a couple-three bottles from the drink cart along the way. Might as well relax in the row TheTingTangTong is already sitting in.

If anything, I believe the first worlders will be in worse shape than the third worlders because we are collectively dependent on so much more infrastructure and have lost the skills to deal with reduced levels of support. Our warehouses and reserves are smaller as we have become accustomed to just-in-time shipping. We have that much further to fall, as it were, once the supply chain snaps.

Delmoi, unless you are the climate scientist you've suggested I'm not, you're pretty much on an equal footing with me when it comes to expertise.

And it's not just the climate, oh no. It's the collapse of the fisheries and the erosion of coral reefs. It's the depletion of metals we use to have a modern civilization (here is a chart which is a few years old now, tick-tock, tick-tock). It's resource wars over those metals. Don't forget the fresh water. Dead bats, bees, and frogs.

Those are just the glaringly obvious things.

... human nature is to ignore a problem until it becomes untenable, then at the very last minute panic and try to fix it. How'd that work out for New Orleans?
posted by adipocere at 8:05 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


What you're missing is that there IS a tipping point, but it's not 400 PPM, it's 350 PPM.
And you have a link to back up this assertion?
Delmoi, unless you are the climate scientist you've suggested I'm not, you're pretty much on an equal footing with me when it comes to expertise.
You're the one making unscientific assertions with no backing whatsoever. Again, where is the science for what you're saying? There is none. So there's no difference between you and a global warming denier. Both are just as dishonest.
It's the collapse of the fisheries and the erosion of coral reefs. It's the depletion of metals we use to have a modern civilization (here is a chart which is a few years old now, tick-tock, tick-tock). It's resource wars over those metals. Don't forget the fresh water. Dead bats, bees, and frogs.
Yeah, his thread is about global warming. Humans can survive without fish. Water can be recycled and so can metal. We don't need to hear your crackpot theories about how society will collapse due to a shortage of hafnium.
Might as well relax in the row TheTingTangTong is already sitting in.
You have no idea what's actually going on but you want everyone to know you don't give a shit one way or the other. What do you want, exactly, congratulations? Just as unscientific, dishonest, and ultimately harmful as the deniers.
posted by delmoi at 8:38 PM on June 25, 2013


If the earth was warm then with high sea levels, doesn't that indicate a periodic fluctuation versus a byproduct of our existence?

All it is indicating is how massive and devastating climate change can be. What possible point can you have? Yes, climate change can happen naturally. It is currently happening do to man made factors. Cancer can happen due to completely out of your control genetic mutations. It can also happen because you are a heavy smoker. Car accidents can happen because of a tire blowout you had no way of stopping. They can also happen because you drank a fifth of tequila and refused to get your brakes fit.

Are you starting to see how stupid your argument is?
posted by spaltavian at 9:10 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps we could build massive nuclear powered CO2 scrubbers to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere as well.

As a political problem, it's difficult to solve. As an engineering problem, it's not. People need to stop confusing the two.


You're the one making unscientific assertions with no backing whatsoever. Where is the science for what you're saying? There is none. So there's no difference between you and a global warming denier. Both are just as dishonest.
posted by foot at 9:53 PM on June 25, 2013


Warming Oceans Make Parts of World ‘Uninsurable’, Say Insurers
Parts of the UK and the US state of Florida were already facing "a risk environment that is uninsurable", said the global insurance industry trade body, the Geneva Association.

The number of weather catastrophes worldwide has risen noticeably over the past 30 years, according to data from Munich Re, the reinsurer. They show a trend in the numbers of storms, floods, heatwaves, droughts and forest fires that has risen from about 300 a year in 1980 to about 900 in 2012.
posted by stbalbach at 11:06 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're the one making unscientific assertions with no backing whatsoever.
Nope, my arguments are perfectly scientific. I've defended them in prior threads, but I'm not going to do your research for you now. Not a single one of you 'no-hopers' has been able to muster a single shred of evidence between you, and you never will because there is none.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not a single one of you 'no-hopers' has been able to muster a single shred of evidence between you, and you never will because there is none.

Well, I've pretty much become a no-hoper, and I agree with you that it's a solvable problem, as an engineering problem.

It's completely unsolvable politically right now, and by the time it is politically solvable, I doubt it'll be technically solvable.
posted by eriko at 6:13 AM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Calm down, get a hold of yourself.
posted by stbalbach at 7:56 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


To my brothers and sisters who are staring into the abyss:

Derrick Jensen has a beautiful essay on the psycho-spiritual (and ethical) aspects of living in a time of climate catastrophe, Beyond Hope (emphasis added):
Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate things are, they may be forced to do something about it.

[...]

At one of my recent talks someone stood up during the Q and A and announced that the only reason people ever become activists is to feel better about themselves. Effectiveness really doesn’t matter, he said, and it’s egotistical to think it does.

I told him I disagreed.

Doesn’t activism make you feel good? he asked.

Of course, I said, but that’s not why I do it. If I only want to feel good, I can just masturbate. But I want to accomplish something in the real world.

Why? Because I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don’t determine whether or not you make the effort. You don’t simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn’t cause me to protect those I love, it’s not love.
posted by mondo dentro at 8:15 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love all that stuff too but you can't take it with you my friend. I don't feel hopeless. Instead I find beauty and romance in the infinitely mysterious voyage we take through life on this crazy planet. I choose to be a part of it rather than try to orchestrate it. I want to sit back and feel the breeze and watch the greatest story ever told unfold. I don't feel doom and gloom, I'm optimistic that whatever happens Earth will keep on circling the Sun in wonder and majesty. Till that vast ball of unfathomable fire and energy explodes.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 8:22 AM on June 26, 2013


Some people like to paddle, and some like to float.

That's fine on Golden Pond, but you know, seeing as how there's a waterfall and all, floating looks like the lesser choice.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:34 AM on June 26, 2013


Instead I find beauty and romance in the infinitely mysterious voyage we take through life on this crazy planet. I choose to be a part of it rather than try to orchestrate it.

Zen for Dummies.

We get it, you enjoy striking a pose. I'm gald this makes you feel good about yourself. Why are you here again?
posted by spaltavian at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2013


I appreciate those in this thread who have defended the idea that it's too late to do much to stop the inevitable. I think we should do all we can to slow the what's coming, but there is no political will and too much greed for things to change enough to stop it.

I know its hard to wrap ones head around the idea that all of humanity will eventually cease, but its a fact. Making peace with this while making smart choices to alleviate suffering is more realistic than grand notions of reversing climate change.

I'm disappointed in the level of snark and insults leveled at this viewpoint and the people expressing it.
posted by agregoli at 9:10 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


You don't get it spaltavian, and that's fine.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 9:23 AM on June 26, 2013


I also am disappointed in the lack of etiquette displayed here. Ultimately, I think I understand it. I could probably blame Descartes; humans just want to feel special. We're different. Our time here has been short but disproportionately important. We're imbued with special Earth altering powers and responsibilities. And we don't want to die. We can DO something about it if we just put our heads together and shush anyone who doesn't agree.

Of course, when I look at the path that I understood to have lead us here, that special human attitude comes out again and again in our very brief history, and it seems more normal, if no less disappointing.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 9:27 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I personally find the lack of etiquette beautiful, some kind of infinite mystery that we may never fully understand. I choose to accept other commenters' rudeness and impatience rather than impotently rage against it. Life is too short to cry about pixels on my computer screen, I can sit on a beach with my dog and watch the sun fade away.
posted by leopard at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Finally we agree on something. Though I'll never get over people who want to convince someone of their viewpoint and do it by insulting their intelligence or sexual orientation or suchandsuch of their 'opponent.'
posted by TheTingTangTong at 9:40 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never noticed any such people, probably because I'm too busy hang gliding over majestic mountains.
posted by leopard at 9:47 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is your favorite mountain range to hang glide over?
posted by TheTingTangTong at 10:01 AM on June 26, 2013


Enjoy it before it's gone is a good philosophy for many things in life, Nature included. I wholeheartedly concur!
posted by agregoli at 10:10 AM on June 26, 2013


I know its hard to wrap ones head around the idea that all of humanity will eventually cease,

This isn't hard at all to wrap one's head around, agregoli, and it's this kind of condescension on display here and in TheTingTangTong's posts that people are objecting too. Your argument isn't complex, unique, enlightened, or interesting.

I don't think humans are special. Extinction is inevitable. The universe will go into heat death or the Big Crunch. Before that, the Sun will become a red giant and incinerate the Earth, having already boiled the oceans. Before that, the moon will escape Earth orbit, causing radical changes in the planet's axial tilt. Before that, a super volcano will cover the world in ash, the seas will flood the land, a meteor will black out the sun, earthquakes will tear continents asunder. Before that, everyone posting in this thread will die.

But before that, I'll probably be alive for another 50 years. And the people wanting to solve problems in those next 50 years, especially the problems we caused and know a little bit about how to solve, aren't foolish just because they're not parroting Philosophy 101 fatalism.

There's nothing to "not get" about this silly mysticism parading as wisdom. It's the same pernicious idea emeded in a lot of religions, and in the modern tendency towards learned helplessness rather than decision making. It is in this instance, however, wrong on the facts. Which is fine, but it would be nice if you didn't insult those actually thinking.
posted by spaltavian at 10:25 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


You have presented ZERO solutions to the problem which is tormenting you. In the meantime, you have shushed and demeaned most of the people who are wondering why we should really care about the inevitable. I'm not dressing up mysticism or zen or anything else. I'm simply presenting my point of view about this situation which is objectively just as valuable as yourn. You don't seem to be thinking anymore than anyone else, you don't know anymore than anyone else what's going to happen, and you lambast them with one side of your mouth while doing the exact same thing with the other. How will you convince me to join you in your fight against physical reality if you don't present any solutions while ascribing thoughts and ideas to me I haven't said, and then demean me?
posted by TheTingTangTong at 10:34 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It just feels dangerously close to solipsism, TheTingTangTong.

If you acknowledge there are other beings than yourself, and those beings can suffer, and suffering is undesirable, that suggests we should each do what we can to reduce the overall level of suffering in the world.

And while it may be comfortable enough on the deck chairs of the Titanic, perhaps there is something else that ought to be done with the time that remains until it slips beneath the waves.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:58 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


TheTingTangTong:You have presented ZERO solutions to the problem which is tormenting you.

I am not tormeted. Again, you employ condescension to present yourself as someone who's got it "all figured out".

As for solutions, I and others have discussed this multiple times in this thread and the other climate change thread, in comments you no doubt skipped while escaping Plato's cave. We need to make the intermediate steps within our political and techological capacity now, to buy us time to develop more sophisticated technology. Some degree of change is locked in, but the conceptual frame work to mitigate even some of the "locked" in change exists today. Nothing is guaranteed to work, but it's guaranteed to not work if we just cover our ears and sing Que Sera Sera.

In the meantime, you have shushed

I didn't sush you, but I did ask why you were posting in a thread multiple times just to say how much you don't care. I still don't know. We you trying to evangelize you faux-stoicism for our sake?

I'm simply presenting my point of view about this situation which is objectively just as valuable as yours.

You're saying nothing can be done so get used to it. It is factually untrue that nothing can be done. Your viewpoint, on objective merits, is based on a faulty assertion. As for the subjective merits, you've simply repeated your opinion in the most haughty way possible without actually interacting with any of the other ideas put forth. You've been repeatedly asked why we shouldn't work to mitigate a problem we created and have some idea to solve, and you've responded with mystic nonsense about the love of dog and song.

Your unserious point of view has not been taken seriously. Are you surprised?

How will you convince me to join you in your fight against physical reality if you don't present any solutions while ascribing thoughts and ideas to me I haven't said, and then demean me?

I'm not trying to convince you of anything, because your disagreement is not based on a rationally-constructed viewpoint, but a pose or feeling you wish to have. I've only sought to see how you can possibly line up your fatalism with science-based policies that could help.

It wasn't I who responed to questions about man made global warming by blithely pointing out that climate change can happen naturally. It wasn't I who responded to arguments about the need and possible for change with obnoxious paeans about the wisdom of bees, and it wasn't I who told all the "tormented" people that they can care about stuff it they want, but I'm going take a stroll be all zen and shit. You are the one who has been disdainful, and to the extent that I've reciprocated, it's been in reaction your intellectual dishonesty.

Now if you excuse me, I've got to enjoy the beauty of a decaying rose while opening my third eye on a mountain where only eagles dare.
posted by spaltavian at 11:01 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


So being tormented about the inevitable end of civilization makes no sense, but being tormented about other people being tormented about the inevitable end of civilization is completely logical.

You sound stressed. Why don't you purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?
posted by leopard at 11:13 AM on June 26, 2013


Such nastiness. I have condescension for none of you. I don't know why you're lashing out at me, spaltavian. I don't think we should throw up our hands and do nothing, and said as much. Dial it back, please.
posted by agregoli at 11:24 AM on June 26, 2013


Seriously, maybe everybody just cool it some. Agree to disagree or go do something else with your day.
posted by cortex at 11:29 AM on June 26, 2013


You have presented ZERO solutions to the problem which is tormenting you.
The solution is to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Most people paying attention to the issue understand this. The science and technology are available, and the engineering is pretty easy. It just means spending money on green tech and no longer spending money on oil. Furthermore there are things that can be done to remove some CO2 from the air through soil management, etc. Maybe future technologies can be developed to remove CO2 from the air more quickly if we need too. But the first step is to not emit it.

In order for it to happen, political action needs to be taken, and in democratic countries that means advocating for it and getting politicians to take it seriously. Nihilistic fatalists like yourself are actually a political obstacle, just like the deniers.
posted by delmoi at 12:38 PM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seanmpuckett, I agree with your first two sentences and have nothing to say about the third. Spaltavian et al, I am very stupid and so this has only just now dawned on me, but we don't even agree what the problem is. I think the problem is the a near-term lack of resources and huge migration of displaced population, yall think it's 'global' warming which I just take as an unavoidable given. I don't see the interest in talking about what people might be capable of with technology in 93 years, To me that is not a practical solution, for the record.

Furthermore, if the problem were global warming (man made or otherwise) I'm not really even seeing how 'soil management, etc' is a practical solution since you'd need vast amounts of political power to get such a thing done, and as far as I know none of us really has any more clout than beyond the ballot box, at least as far as the US is concerned.

Since we don't even agree on what the problem is, Delmoi and all other programmers-cum-climatologists, how would you suggest we go about advocating a change and getting politicians to take 'it' seriously? DOD, for one, thinks climate change is real, and yet there is no or at the most very little legislation to reduce the emissions of CO2 here in the first world, not to mention the third world. It's fine to say 'if we take political action then Z' but sounds very easy, and is in fact very difficult.

Finally, I don't intend (as I said yesterday) to be disdainful or adopt, a um, oh a 'pose' so from a rhetorical point of view how is is bashing your 'opposition' with ad hominem actually helping you? If you want political action (you want to reverse global warming, right?) how do you expect to convince the very people you need to convince of the importance of your cause by insulting them? I am absolutely not condescending you; it's that your fight isn't mine and I'm trying to figure out why I should care. If I'm a nihilist and a political obstacle (I am not a nihilist), A PRACTICAL SOLUTION to your problem is getting me on board so that I am no longer an obstacle to what you want. If you could from here on forward take those who disagree with you at face value instead of ascribing motivation to them. . . we'll that'd be nice. But so would a world without climate change.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 1:07 PM on June 26, 2013


FYI, deniers, even major companies like Exxon Mobile acknowledge climate change.

There is like, no one in the real world who denies climate change. Not even Big Oil.
posted by Eideteker at 2:59 PM on June 26, 2013


There's too much CO2 (not "carbon", damn it)

Saying "carbon" also covers other greenhouse gases like COx and methane (CH4).
posted by telstar at 4:51 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You have presented ZERO solutions to the problem which is tormenting you.

Since when do the people trying to sound an alarm about a problem also have to have solutions for that problem? Most of the time, they don't - if someone is calling 911 because they've got a fire in their house, they're doing so to alert the people who are much more equipped to solve the problem and summon them to their aid. They don't call 911 to say "hey, there's a fire in my den! But I've got a half-full fire extinguisher and some Gatorade to throw on it so I'm just letting you know!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:07 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saying "carbon" also covers other greenhouse gases like COx and methane (CH4). -- telstar
Eh, I am annoyed with the use of the term "carbon", in an extreme case of B.S, for example dyson marketed a vacuum cleaner as having "no carbon emissions" because it's motor didn't use carbon brushings that wear down, which is insane and simply an attempt to sell crap as being good for the environment when it isn't (undoubtedly many of those vacuums would be powered by fossil-fuel derived energy). On the other hand if you turn CO2 in the air into pure carbon by doing things like biochar, that's good for the environment even if it produces "carbon". And of course there are non-organic greenhouse gasses like Nitrous oxide, Ozone, etc.

____

TheTingTangTong: you brought up some practical issues, as well as some more 'meta-arguments'. Let's actually look at your practical arguments.
I think the problem is the a near-term lack of resources and huge migration of displaced population,
That's not what this thread is about.
Since we don't even agree on what the problem is, Delmoi and all other programmers-cum-climatologists, how would you suggest we go about advocating a change and getting politicians to take 'it' seriously? DOD, for one, thinks climate change is real, and yet there is no or at the most very little legislation to reduce the emissions of CO2 here in the first world, not to mention the third world.
That's false.

The EPA has not only the right, but actually the legal obligation to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, and (as far as I know) they can clamp down as hard as they like without legislation. Obama just recently announced new rules that the EPA will enforce. He's not been specific on exactly how much of a reduction will occur, though - and obviously that matters.

But more then that, U.S. CO2 emissions have been dropping. We emit less CO2 then we did in 1995. There's the economy, but there are also more efficiency standards (especially in cars). Tons of wind power, and lots of solar. We generate more then half our energy from natural gas now, which's problematic but puts out less CO2 (there is the issue of potential methane leaks, however)

That's the #2 emitter. What about the #1 emitter, China? They've announced a cap and trade system for some cities now, and will be implementing it nationwide in a few years. Obviously the level of the cap matters. But once it's in place it will be easier to reduce the cap. They've also announced they're going to start executing polluters

The European union has probably the strongest green laws, and countries like Germany have been installing massive amounts of solar energy.

It's not enough, not at the moment, but much more is happening now then ever before.

When it comes to the third world, the fact is they hardly emit any greenhouse gases at all, so it's not something we need to worry about until it's fixed in the first world, at which point the cost of things like solar panels and wind turbines will have dropped to the point that it's easy for them to adopt, especially since they never built up massive fossil fuel infrastructures in the first place.

The truth is, I actually am optimistic about this. I've gotten flack for it, but I do believe the problem will be solved at some point. I've always been optimistic and I still am, because I don't see any technical or economic reason why it can't be fixed. Human nature may be stupid but it isn't suicidal.

As long as the political downsides of inaction are great enough, action will happen. I used to think it was so obvious a problem that political leaders would definitely fix it without much pressure, but lately that seems to be an incorrect view. I think that in order to ensure progress continues to be made we need to keep the pressure up. And that means people who throw up their hands and chose to ignore it aren't helping at all, and in turn people who actually make a big show of advocating that no one give a shit are making the problem worse - and it's especially grating when they use totally bogus science to do so.

To be fair, I've been proven wrong so far, obviously we are going to have some warming in the short term but I do think we will greatly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and eventually figure out a way to reduce earth's temperatures. Part of the reason, of course, is that the effects are too obvious to ignore, even for non-scientists.
It's fine to say 'if we take political action then Z' but sounds very easy, and is in fact very difficult.
Was ending slavery easy? Was civil rights easy? Was fighting the Nazis easy? Was going to the moon easy?

You think it's difficult? Fine. Think it's difficult. But difficult is not impossible. If you think it's too hard for you, that's your choice, but your weakness is not our problem.

____

Now, regarding some of the 'meta' arguments you've brought up:
If I'm a nihilist and a political obstacle (I am not a nihilist), A PRACTICAL SOLUTION to your problem is getting me on board so that I am no longer an obstacle to what you want.
Have you considered the possibility that this isn't all about you? The solutions I've mentioned are practical, and I've explained why. If you don't personally understand the explanation there's, nothing I can do about that.
Finally, I don't intend (as I said yesterday) to be disdainful or adopt, a um, oh a 'pose' so from a rhetorical point of view how is is bashing your 'opposition' with ad hominem actually helping you?
This is just a comment thread on the internet, and I'm simply giving my view, which I think is backed by science. I think it would be fairly hubristic to think it would have much of an impact one way or the other - but you're not the only person in the thread reading the comments.

The other thing to consider is that you are basically espousing a view that the only thing that matters is your own personal comfort and happiness, and that the genuine human suffering of others is unimportant because ultimately nothing matters at all in the long run. It's basically nihilism, and there is no real 'argument' against it. If you don't care, you don't care. But it's a view that many people are intrinsically offended by.

posted by delmoi at 7:09 PM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fuck fatalism.
posted by kaspen at 11:15 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah man, totally. Fuck global warming too bro, you feel me?

Delmoi, I very much liked most of your last post. Ultimately, I sympathize with your position and your desire to improve the planet as you see it. I think you're a thoughtful in petulant person who can probably accomplish a lot of good in your community. Ultimately, I don't share your views about global climate change. I think you're wrong about the third world; I think carbon emissions will continue to increase in those countries, and eventually far outpace the emissions of the US, which I do not think will slow enough to prevent climate change. China saying it will execute polluters doesn't reassure me.

And yet, I am optimistic about this. I see human beings as a small part of the global system of life and geology that makes up Earth. I don't attach any special importance to us a a species, at least relative to any other thing here. The Earth was here before us, it'll be here after us. The nature of existence is change. I guess I'll just have to live with your ire and disdain, and I'm sorry I offend you, but I just don't really care about global warming. We were lucky to be born in a brief warm spell of our planet's history. Accept this, or don't as you wish: I know very well this isn't about me. In fact, I think it's egocentric to believe this is a thing we as humans can deal with. The Earth changes, with or without us.

"At the start of the twenty-first century, there is a planetary consensus emerging that rapid global warming of the planet, caused by human air pollution, poses a significant global threat. A warming world will bring a rising sea levels, changing plant communities, and the migration of tropical diseases into temperate regions. There may be an increase in the violence of storms, more droughts and floods, and disruption of agriculture. As Earth heats up, wars over food, water, and land may increase.

As dire and real as this threat is, it is very near term by the time scales we are dealing with in this book [The Life and Death of Planet Earth]. Yes, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuel such as coal, gas, and oil has increased 30 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution, to the highest level in 450,000 years. The greenhouse gas methane is up 145 percent. Nitrous oxide is up 15 percent. Evidence this is causing real and dramatic change in the world is rapidly mounting. The decade of the 1990s was the warmest on historical (not geological) record. . .

As catastrophic as this could prove to be, it is but a momentary even in the long history of our planet. In a few centuries, most fossil fuel will likely be exhausted. New energy technologies will have to be developed. The pumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will slow, then cease, and natural mechanisms [discussed in a previous chapter of the same book] will begin to lower green house gas concentrations. From the perspective of our lives and human history, centuries of global warming is a long time: as long as countries or empires often exist. But from the perspective of planetary history, this warming will be a brief interlude before an inevitable return to the more persistent age we inhabit. That age is an age of ice." -The Life and Death of Planet Earth (Ward, PhD, and Brownlee, PhD)

Yall can dislike me all you want for what I think. Bury me under a blanket of weird non-sequitur metaphors and sarcasm. Level everything you have at my sense of morality and intelligence or whatever else you wish. I will get up in the morning and love my family and friends and neighbors, and work towards making my community a better place in the near term, because that's really all I can actually do.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 6:42 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will get up in the morning and love my family and friends and neighbors, and work towards making my community a better place in the near term, because that's really all I can actually do.

And that's well and good - but you may not be aware that the things you have been saying have been giving people the impression that you aren't even doing that.


I hear what you're saying about how over-worry can be a detriment; hell, I also hear what you're saying about the ultimate fate of the planet and the eventual extinction of humankind. And those are good points. I also even understand that you've been piled on like whoa in here and have been defending your points against people.

However, whether you know it or not, your very first comment in this thread actually doesn't give the impression that you've simply made peace with doing as much as you are able to do and decided to not worry too much about the rest - it instead gives the impression that you're just kickin' back and gettin' drunk on whiskey because who cares. And I'm sure you'd seen how heated and concerned were the people who posted before you, so I question why you phrased what you said in that particular way.

If we'd gotten your last comment way up where you made your first comment, you probably wouldn't have gotten as much blowback.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:39 AM on June 27, 2013


MetaFilter: bury me under a blanket of weird non-sequitur metaphors and sarcasm.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:13 AM on June 27, 2013


There is plenty that can be done to slow global warming : Wind and solar benefit vastly more from mass production than existing centralized power generation. We're suffering from grids designed for centralized power and established players being heavily invested, but switch is definitely possible. Switch to electric cars and electric roads. Tax polluting foods, like meat. Tax children. etc.

Is slowing global warming enough? Yes, ain't nearly as good as stopping it, but slowing it increases the species' chances for survival. If global warming happens slower, then more people survive longer, both directly and through technological advances that accomodate the temperature. Any additional time improves our chances for developing artificial intelligences to succeeded us, move out into space, etc.

That's the entire game, man. Survive long enough to survive forever. Nothing else matters. It's fine if all humans are gone, so long as "we" go on.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:48 AM on June 27, 2013


Things that may not slow global warming but people should do anyway: Stop feeding the trolls.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:52 AM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, their methane emissions are insane!
posted by entropicamericana at 9:53 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you're a thoughtful in petulant person who can probably accomplish a lot of good in your community.
"my community" is the whole human race.
posted by delmoi at 3:13 AM on June 28, 2013


Some arguments collapse under their own weight.

A: I'm a moral relativist -- all viewpoints are equally valid.
B: That's just your opinion, man.

A: I really believe that there's no point talking about this topic because there's nothing we can do about it.
B: You have 14 comments in this thread making that point over and over again.
posted by leopard at 5:18 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Florida Keys Prepare For Sea Level Rise
posted by jeffburdges at 9:32 AM on July 3, 2013


Lapping at Landmarks: Five historic sites that are most vulnerable to sea-level rise.
posted by homunculus at 10:35 PM on July 13, 2013


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